“He didn’t,” she interrupted him, almost fiercely. “He was innocent, as innocent as you were. Jeems—I Jeems—I know who killed Barkley. Oh, I know—I know!”
A choking sob came into her throat, and then she added, in a voice which she was straining to make calm, “Don’t think that I haven’t faith in you because I can’t tell you more now, Jeems,” she said. “You will understand—quite soon. When we are safe from the Police, I shall tell you. I shall keep nothing from you then. I shall tell you about Barkley, and Kedsty—everything. But I can’t now. It won’t be long. When you tell me we are safe, I shall believe you. And then—” She withdrew her hands from his and dropped back on her pillow.
“And then—what?” he asked, leaning far over.
“You may not like me, Jeems.”
“I love you,” he whispered. “Nothing in the world can stop my loving you.”
“Even if I tell you—soon—that I killed Barkley?”
“No. You would be lying.”
“Or—if I told you—that I—killed—Kedsty?”
“No matter what you said, or what proof there might be back there, I would not believe you.”
She was silent. And then, “Jeems—”
“Yes, Niska, Little Goddess—?”
“I’m going to tell you something—now!”
“It is going to—shock you—Jeems.”
He felt her arms reaching up. Her two hands touched his shoulders.
“Are you listening?”
“Yes, I am listening.”
“Because I’m not going to say it very loud.” And then she whispered, “Jeems—I love you!”
In the slowly breaking gloom of the cabin, with Marette’s arms round his neck, her soft lips given him to kiss, Kent for many minutes was conscious of nothing but the thrill of his one great hope on earth come true. What he had prayed for was no longer a prayer, and what he had dreamed of was no longer a dream; yet for a space the reality of it seemed unreal. What he said in those first moments of his exaltation he would probably never remember.
His own physical existence seemed a thing trivial and almost lost, a thing submerged and swallowed up by the warm beat and throb of that other life, a thousand times more precious than his own, which he held in his arms. Yet with the mad thrill that possessed him, in the embrace of his arms, there was an infinite tenderness, a gentleness, that drew from Marette’s lips a low, glad whispering of his name. She drew his head down and kissed him, and Kent fell upon his knees at her side and crushed his face close down to her —while outside the patter of rain on the roof had ceased, and the fog-like darkness was breaking with gray dawn.