‘So this is the end,’ he said, pointing to the river, and fixing his scintillating eyes on the girl; ’this is the end of our lives; for you the river—for me the hangman.’
‘God help me,’ she moaned, piteously; ’what else is left to me but the river?’
‘Hope,’ he said, in a low voice; ’you are young; you are beautiful; you can yet enjoy life; but,’ in a deliberate cruel manner, ’you will not, for the river claims you as its victim.’
Something in his voice fills her with fear, and looking up she reads death in his face, and sinking on her knees she holds out her helpless hands with a pitying cry for life.
‘Strange,’ observed M. Vandeloup, with a touch of his old airy manner; ’you come to commit suicide and are not afraid; I wish to save you the trouble, and you are, my dear—you are illogical.’
‘No! no!’ she mutters, twisting her hands together, ’I do not want to die; why do you wish to kill me?’ lifting her wan face to his.
He bent down, and caught her wrist fiercely.
‘You ask me that?’ he said, in a voice of concentrated passion, ’you who, with your long tongue, have put the hangman’s rope round my throat; but for you, I would, by this time, have been on my way to America, where freedom and wealth awaits me. I have worked hard, and committed crimes for money, and now, when I should enjoy it, you, with your feminine devilry, have dragged me back to the depths.’
‘I did not make you commit the crimes,’ she said, piteously.
‘Bah!’ with a scoffing laugh, ’who said you did? I take my own sins on my own shoulders; but you did worse; you betrayed me. Yes; there is a warrant out for my arrest, for the murder of that accursed Pierre. I have eluded the clever Melbourne police so far, but I have lived the life of a dog. I dare not even ask for food, lest I betray myself. I am starving! I tell you, starving! you harlot! and it is your work.’
He flung her violently to the ground, and she lay there, a huddled heap of clothing, while, with wild gesticulations, he went on.