She rose with a bound. Nought that she had anticipated had occurred; facts of which she could know nothing had changed the aspect of affairs and made the position of Frederick something so remote from any she could have imagined, that she was still in the maze of the numberless conflicting emotions which these revelations were calculated to call out in one who had risked all on the hazard of a die and lost. She did not even know at this moment whether she was glad or sorry he could explain so cleverly his anomalous position. She had caught the look he had cast at Agnes, and while this angered her, it did not greatly modify her opinion that he was destined for herself. For, however other people might feel, she did not for a moment believe his story. She had not a pure enough heart to do so. To her all self-sacrifice was an anomaly. No woman of the mental or physical strength of Agatha Webb would plant a dagger in her own breast just to prevent another person from committing a crime, were he lover, husband, or son. So Amabel believed and so would these others believe also when once relieved of the magnetic personality of this extraordinary witness. Yet how thrilling it had been to hear him plead his cause so well! It was almost worth the loss of her revenge to meet his look of hate, and dream of the possibility of turning it later into the old look of love. Yes, yes, she loved him now; not for his position, for that was gone; not even for his money, for she could contemplate its loss; but for himself, who had so boldly shown that he was stronger than she and could triumph over her by the sheer force of his masculine daring.
With such feelings, what should she say to these men; how conduct herself under questions which would be much more searching now than before? She could not even decide in her own mind. She must let impulse have its way.
Happily, she took the right stand at first. She did not endeavour to make any corrections in her former testimony, only acknowledging that the flower whose presence on the scene of death had been such a mystery, had fallen from her hair at the ball and that she had seen Frederick pick it up and put it in his buttonhole. Beyond this, and the inferences it afterward awakened in her mind, she would not go, though many present, and among them Frederick, felt confident that her attitude had been one of suspicion from the first, and that it was to follow him rather than to supply the wants of the old man, Zabel, she had left the ball and found her way to Agatha Webb’s cottage.
WHY AGATHA WEBB WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN IN SUTHERLANDTOWN