“Dorothy,” he said, pausing before her at the steps, his voice full of entreaty, “tell me you don’t despise me. Oh! I long to have you say one tender word to me, to have one gentle look from your eyes.”
“I am very sorry you are suffering, Philip,” she said, steeling her heart against the weakness that threatened.
“Won’t you believe I have done all this because I love you and——” he was saying, passionately, but she interposed.
“Don’t! Don’t, Phil! I was forgetting a little—yes, I was forgetting a little, but you bring back all the ugly thoughts. I cannot forget and I will not forgive. You love me, I know, and you have been a kind jailer, but you must not expect to regain my respect and love—yes, it was love up to the morning I saw you in the dining-room of this castle.”
“I’ll create a new love in your heart, Dorothy,” he cried. “The old love may be dead, but a new one shall grow up in its place. You do not feel toward me to-day as you did a week ago. I have made some headway against the force of your hatred. It will take time to win completely; I would not have you succumb too soon. But, just as sure as there is a God, you will love me some day for the love that made me a criminal in the eyes of the world. I love you, Dorothy; I love you!”
“It is too late. You have destroyed the power to love. Phil, I cannot forgive you. Could I love you unless full forgiveness paved the way?”
“There is nothing to forgive, as you will some day confess. You will thank and forgive me for what I have done.” A fit of coughing caused him to lean against the stair rail, a paroxysm of pain crossing his face as he sought to temper the violence of the spell.
“You should have a doctor,” she cried, in alarm. He smiled cheerlessly.
“Send for the court physician,” he said, derisively, “The king of evil-doers has the chills and fever, they say. Is my face hot Dorothy?”
She hesitated for a moment, then impulsively placed her cool hand against his flushed forehead. Despite her will, there was a caress in the simple act, and his bright eyes gleamed with gladness. His hand met hers as it was lowered from the hot brow, and his lips touched the fingers softly.
“Ah, the fever, the fever!” he exclaimed, passionately.
“You should have a doctor,” she muttered, as if powerless to frame other words.
THE FLIGHT WITH THE PRIEST
Eleven o’clock that night found Castle Craneycrow wrapped in the stillness of death. Its inmates were awake, but they were petrified, paralyzed by the discovery that Dorothy Garrison was gone. Scared eyes looked upon white faces, and there was upon the heart of each the clutch of an icy hand. So appalling was the sensation that the five conspirators breathed not nor spoke, but listened for the heartbeats that had stopped when fears finally gave way to complete conviction. They were as if recovering from the fright of seeing a ghost; spirits seemed to have swept past them with cold wings, carrying off the prisoner they thought secure; only supernatural forces could be charged with the penetration of their impregnable wall.