“He is not that!”
“It was no marriage, and it will not stand. I will have it annulled. Such things are easily done, Ramon. She is no wife. The man was a criminal, a fugitive, even when he forced her to marry—”
“No, no! You cannot do that. It was I who asked him to marry me.” The girl lied tremulously, panic-stricken at the threat. “Before God, I am his wife!” she maintained. “And if this marriage has a flaw, then I will stand beside the prison gates and remarry him as he comes forth.”
“He will not come forth,” Ramon declared, harshly.
“Oh yes! And now will you take me to him?”
“No!” her father bellowed. “You are my daughter, you are under my roof, and here you shall stay until you give up this madness and this man.”
“That I can never do,” she retorted, proudly. “You see, I am not all Spanish, I have in me also the blood of his people, and that makes me steadfast. I could not doubt him if I wished.”
“I forbid you to go near him. Come! Do you promise?” She inclined her dark head. “I must learn more of this affair at once. You will find your senses, miss, or if you do not you will spend your life in meditation and prayer—that much I promise you.”
“I do not wish to enter a convent,” she said, with white lips. “I wish to be happy. When Keerk is free I shall go to him. Now, if you please, I—think I shall go away.” She turned and went out of the big high-ceilinged room, and not until she had reached the hall did her feet waver or her head droop.
When the two men were alone, Garavel said, brokenly: “She is the first to bring disgrace upon our name. Is there absolute proof that the man is guilty, Ramon?”
“Proof?” Alfarez turned dazed eyes from the door through which Gertrudis had gone. “Proof? I believe so. I have not thought much of the matter as yet, but—I think there will be proof in plenty. Oh yes!”
“Come then. I must go to see him. Perhaps—oh, God! Perhaps what? My head is afire, my heart is broken for you, my poor boy.”
A LAST APPEAL
That was not a pleasant interview for Anthony. His surroundings were not such as to lend him assurance, and Garavel’s grief at his daughter’s disgrace was really distressing. Moreover, the unequivocal threat to annul the marriage filled him with alarm. His only consolation came from the fact that Gertrudis had made known the truth without the slightest hesitation. That showed that she was loyal, at any rate. Kirk tried to assure his caller that he would have no trouble in proving his innocence, but Garavel seemed very little concerned with that phase of the affair, and continued to bewail the dishonor that had fallen upon his name.
Kirk’s pride arose at this, and he exclaimed with some heat:
“My dear Mr. Garavel, if you are so blamed sure that I did all these things, why did you come to see me?”