Then, in the lamp glow, he was looking into Marette Radisson’s face. He knew that his own was aflame. He had no desire to hide its confession, and he was eager to find what lay in her own eyes. And he was astonished, and then startled. The kiss had not disturbed Marette. It was as if it had never happened.
She was not embarrassed, and there was no hint of color in her face. It was her deathly whiteness that startled him, a pallor emphasized by the dark masses of her hair, and a strange glow in her eyes. It was not a glow brought there by the kiss. It was fear, fading slowly out of them as he looked, until at last it was gone, and her lips trembled with an apologetic smile.
“He was very angry,” she said. “How easily some men lose their tempers, don’t they—Jeems?”
The little break in her voice, her brave effort to control herself, and the whimsical bit of smile that accompanied her words made him want to do what the gentle pressure of her hands had kept him from doing a few moments before—pick her up in his arms. What she was trying to hide he saw plainly. She had been in danger, a danger greater than that which she had quietly and fearlessly faced at barracks. And she was still afraid of that menace. It was the last thing which she wanted him to know, and yet he knew it. A new force swept through him. It was the force which comes of mastery, of possessorship, of fighting grimly against odds. It rose in a mighty triumph. It told him this girl belonged to him, that she was his to fight for. And he was going to fight. Marette saw the change that came into his face. For a moment after she had spoken there was silence between them. Outside the storm beat in a fiercer blast. A roll of thunder crashed over the bungalow. The windows rattled in a sweep of wind and rain. Kent, looking at her, his muscles hardening, his face growing grimmer, nodded toward the window at which Mooie’s signal had come.
“It is a splendid night—for us,” he said. “And we must go.”
She did not answer.
“In the eyes of the law I am a murderer,” he went on. “You saved me. You shot a man. In those same eyes you are a criminal. It is folly to remain here. It is sheer suicide for both of us. If Kedsty—”
“If Kedsty does not do what I told him to do to-night, I shall kill him!” she said.
The quietness of her words, the steadiness of her eyes, held him speechless. Again it seemed to him, as it had seemed to him in his room at Cardigan’s place, that it was a child who was looking at him and speaking to him. If she had shown fear a few moments before, that fear was not revealed in her face now. She was not excited. Her eyes were softly and quietly beautiful. She amazed him and discomfited him. Against that child-like sureness he felt himself helpless. Its potency was greater than his strength and greater than his determination. It placed between them instantly a vast gulf, a gulf that might be bridged by prayer and entreaty, but never by force. There was no hint of excitement in her threat against Kedsty, and yet in the very calmness of it he felt its deadliness.