“Oh, I see!” assented the lawyer. Then with the instinctive caution of his class, “You have made no mistake?”
“Not a bit of a one,” emphasized the other. “Sorry I can’t give the gentleman any hope, but if the sisters look alike, it was not this woman’s twin I met. I’m ready to take my oath on that.”
“Very well. One catches at straws in a stress like this. Here’s a fiver to pay for your trouble, and another for the lad who brought you here. Good day. We had no sound reason for expecting any different result from our experiment.”
The man bowed awkwardly and went out. Mr. Harper brought down his fist heavily on the table, and after a short interval of silence, during which he studiously avoided meeting his companion’s eye, he remarked:
“I am as much taken aback as yourself. For all he had to say about her gay clothing, I expected a different result. The girl on the highway was neither Mrs. Ransom nor her sister. We have made a confounded mistake and Mrs. Ransom—”
“Don’t say it. I’m going back to the room where that woman lies sleeping. I cannot yet believe that my heart is not shut up within its walls. I’m going to watch for her eyes to open. Their expression will tell me what I want to know;—the look one gives before full realization comes and the soul is bare without any thought of subterfuge.”
“Very well. I should probably do the same if I were you. Only your insight may be affected by prejudice. You will excuse me if I join you in this watch. The experiment is of too important a character for its results to depend upon the correct seeing of one pair of eyes.”
She lay in the abandonment of profound slumber, one hand under her cheek, the other hidden by the white spread Mrs. Deo had been careful to draw closely about her. Both Mr. Harper and Mr. Ransom regretted this fact, for each instinctively felt that in her hands, if not in her sleeping face, they should be able to read the story of her life. If that life had been a hard one, such as must have befallen the waif, Anitra, her hands should show it.
But her hands were covered. And so, or nearly so, was her face; the latter by her long and curling locks of whose beauty I have hitherto spoken. One cheek only was visible, and this cheek looked dark to Ransom, decidedly darker than Georgian’s; but realizing that the room itself was dark, he forbore to draw the attention of the lawyer to it, or even to allow it to affect his own judgment to the extent it reasonably called for.
His first scrutiny over, Mr. Harper crossed over to his old seat against the wall. Mr. Ransom remained by the bed. And thus began their watch.
It was a long and solemn one; a tedious waiting. The gloom and quiet of the small room was so profound that both men, for all their suspense and absorption in the event they awaited, welcomed the sound of a passing whisper or the careful stepping of feet in the corridor without.