“‘Take it as a remembrance of her,’ I said. ’In a month she would have betrayed you as she betrayed me.’”
“He raged like a madman. He rushed out and called the gendarmes. Of course I was tried for murder—but it was not murder—it was justice. The judge found extenuating circumstances. Naturally! He had a wife of his own. He understood my case. Now you know why I hate that dainty jeweled woman up at the Villa Romani. She is just like that other one—that creature I slew—she has just the same slow smile and the same child-like eyes. I tell you again, I am sorry her husband is dead—it vexes me sorely to think of it. For he would have killed her in time—yes!—of that I am quite sure!”
I listened to his narrative with a pained feeling at my heart, and a shuddering sensation as of icy cold ran through my veins. Why, I had fancied that all who beheld Nina must, perforce, love and admire her. True, when this old man was accidentally knocked down by her horses (a circumstance she had never mentioned to me), it was careless of her not to stop and make inquiry as to the extent of his injuries, but she was young and thoughtless; she could not be intentionally heartless. I was horrified to think that she should have made such an enemy as even this aged and poverty-stricken wretch; but I said nothing. I had no wish to betray myself. He waited for me to speak and grew impatient at my silence.
“Say now, my friend!” he queried, with a sort of childish eagerness, “did I not take a good vengeance? God himself could not have done better!”
“I think your wife deserved her fate,” I said, curtly, “but I cannot say I admire you for being her murderer.”
He turned upon me rapidly, throwing both hands above his head with a frantic gesticulation. His voice rose to a kind of muffled shriek.