“You—never told me that! It was some mad college prank, I suppose.”
“No, no. I married Gertrudis Garavel that night at the Tivoli.”
“Oh, that can’t be. That was the night of the dance.”
“It is quite true.”
Mrs. Cortlandt stared about the squalid cell dully.
“Miss Garavel! Why didn’t you tell me? Why isn’t she here? Why does she leave you alone? No, no! You hardly know each other. Why, she’s not old enough to know her own mind—”
“But I know my mind, and I love her.”
Her white hands strained at each other as she steadied her shaking voice. “Love!” she cried. “You don’t know what love means, nor does she. She can’t know, or she’d be here, she’d have this prison torn block from block.”
“I suppose her father would not let her come,” said Kirk, slowly, but Edith did not seem to hear him. The realization of her broken hopes was coming home to her poignantly.
“My happiness!” she exclaimed. “I have been unhappy so long! And I seemed to see it just within my reach. Oh, Kirk, she thinks you are guilty, she hasn’t faith.”
“You have no right to say that.”
“See! I came to you when I was married and asked you to take me; I’ll do the same with you now.”
“You don’t know what you’re saying. You’re hysterical, Mrs. Cortlandt. I love Gertrudis so deeply that there’s no room in me for anything else, and never will be. Heaven only knows what they have made her believe about me, but I don’t care; I’ll upset this little plot of Alfarez’s, and when she learns the truth she will come back again.”
“This little plot!” Edith cried, in distraction. “And I suppose you wish me to give you back to her?”
They confronted each other a moment in silence.
“But I won’t help her,” she went on. “I’m not that sort. I’m a selfish woman. I’ve always been selfish because I’ve never had anybody to work for. But I have it in me to be generous.”
“I’m sorry,” he said. “You have suffered, I know. Don’t trouble any more about me—please.”
She stared at him defiantly, although her whole frame was shaking as if from an ague.
“Oh, I’d rather face the gallows as you face it than what is before me, and I’m not sure I could help you, after all. You are in Latin America now, remember, and your enemies are strong.”
“I am Darwin K. Anthony’s son,” he protested. “He won’t allow it.”
“Bah! He is an American, and these are Spanish people. You have seen how they like us, and you have seen what Alfarez can do. He’s rich, and he’ll perjure more witnesses, he’ll manipulate the court with his money. Yes, and I’d rather he succeeded than see you—No, no! What am I saying? L-let me go; let me get away from here!” She broke down, and went sobbing out into the corridor. The iron door clanged to behind her.
On the same afternoon, Mr. Clifford, accompanied by Anson, the lawyer, took the 3.20 train for Colon. As soon as he arrived, he called up Colonel Jolson, to request that the Commissioner’s motor-car should, without fail, await him at ten o’clock sharp on the next morning, with an open track ahead of it. Strangely enough, the Colonel agreed very readily.