Secret Service

Brady Cyrus Townsend
Secret Service

CHAPTER VI
THE CONFIDENCE OF EDITH VARNEY

Mrs. Varney had, of course, divined toward whom Arrelsford’s suspicion pointed. She had been entirely certain before he had mentioned the name that the alleged spy or traitor could be none other than her daughter’s friend; indeed, it would not be stretching the truth to say that Thorne was her friend as well as her daughter’s, and her keen mother’s wit was not without suspicion that if he were left to himself, or if he were permitted to follow his own inclinations, the relation between himself and the two women might have been a nearer one still and a dearer one, yet, nevertheless, the shocking announcement came to her with sudden, sharp surprise.

We may be perfectly certain, absolutely sure, of a coming event, but when it does occur its shock is felt in spite of previous assurance. We may watch the dying and pray for death to end anguish, and know that it is coming, but when the last low breath has gone, it is as much of a shock to us as if it had not been expected, or even dreamed of.

The announcement of the name was shattering to her composure. She knew very well why Arrelsford would rejoice to find Thorne guilty of anything, and she would have discounted any ordinary accusation that he brought against him, but the train of the circumstances was so complete in this case and the coincidences so unexplainable upon any other theory, the evidence so convincing, that she was forced to admit that Arrelsford was fully justified in his suspicion, and that without regard to the fact that he was a rejected suitor of her daughter’s.

Surprise, horror, and conviction lodged in her soul, and were mirrored in her face. Arrelsford saw and divined what was passing in her mind, and, eager to strike while the iron was hot, bent forward open-mouthed to continue his line of reasoning and denunciation, but Mrs. Varney checked him. She laid her finger upon her lips and pointed with the other hand to the front of the house.

“What!” exclaimed the Confederate Secret Service agent; “is he there?”

Mrs. Varney nodded.

“He may be. He went out to the summerhouse some time ago to wait for Edith; they were going over to Caroline Mitford’s later on. I saw him go down the walk.”

“Do you suppose my men could have alarmed him?” asked Arrelsford, greatly perturbed at this unexpected development.

“I don’t know. They were all at the back windows. They didn’t seem to make much noise. I suppose not. You have a description of the man for whom the letter was intended?”

“Yes, at the office; but I remember it perfectly.”

“Does it fit this – this Captain Thorne?”

“You might as well know sooner as later, Mrs. Varney, that there is no Captain Thorne. This is an assumed name, and the man you have in your house is Lewis Dumont.”

“Do you mean that he came here to – ”

“He came to this town, to this house,” said Arrelsford vindictively, his voice still subdued but full of fury, “knowing your position, the influence of your name, your husband’s rank and service, for the sole purpose of getting recognised as a reputable person, so that he would be less likely to be suspected. He has corrupted your servants – you saw old Jonas – and he has contrived to enlist the powerful support of your daughter. His aim is the War Department Telegraph Office. He is friends with the men at that office. What else he hasn’t done or what he has, the Lord only knows. But Washington is not the only place where they have a secret service; we have one at Richmond. Whatever game he plays, it is one that two can play; and now it is my play.”

The patter of light footsteps was heard on the stairs, a flash of white seen through the open door into the hall dimly lighted, and Edith Varney came rapidly, almost breathlessly, into the room. She had changed her dress, and if Caroline Mitford had been there, she would have known certainly from the little air of festivity about her clean but faded and darned, sprigged and flowered white muslin frock that she was going to accept the invitation. In one hand she held her hat, which she swung carelessly by its long faded ribbons, and in the other that official envelope which had come to her from the President of the Confederacy. She called to her mother as she ran down.

“Mamma!” Her face was white and her voice pitched high, fraught with excited intensity. “Under my window, in the rosebushes, at the back of the house! They’re hurting somebody frightfully, I am sure!”

She burst into the room with the last word. Mrs. Varney stared at her, understanding fully who, in all probability, was being roughly dealt with in the rosebushes, and realising what a terrible effect such disclosures as she had listened to would produce upon the mind of the girl.

“Come,” said Edith, turning rapidly toward the rear window; “we must stop it.”

Mrs. Varney stood as if rooted to the floor.

“Well,” said the girl, in great surprise, “if you aren’t coming, I will go myself.”

These words awakened her mother to action.

“Wait, Edith,” she said.

Now, and for the first time, Edith noticed Mr. Arrelsford, who had stepped back and away from her mother. She replied to his salutation with a cold and distant bow. The man’s face flushed; he turned away.

“But, mamma, the men outside,” persisted the girl.

“Wait, my dear,” said her mother, taking her gently by the arm; “I must tell you something. It will be a great shock to you, I am afraid.”

“What is it, mamma? Has father or – ”

“No, no, not that,” said Mrs. Varney. “A man we have trusted as a friend has shown himself a conspirator, a spy, a traitor.”

“Who is it?” cried the girl, at the same time instinctively divining – how or why she could not tell, and that thought smote her afterward – to whom the reference was being made.

Mrs. Varney naturally hesitated to say the name. Arrelsford, carried away by his passion for the girl and his hatred for Thorne, was not so reticent. He stepped toward her.

“It is the gentleman, Miss Varney, whose attentions you have been pleased to accept in the place of mine,” he burst out bitterly.

His manner and his meaning were unmistakable. The girl stared at him with a white, haughty face, in spite of her trembling lips. Mechanically she thrust the envelope with the commission into her belt, and confronted the man who loved her and whom she did not love, who accused of this hateful thing the man whom, in the twinkling of an eye, she realised she did love. Then the daughter turned to her mother.

“Is it Mr Arrelsford who makes this accusation?” she asked.

“Yes,” said Arrelsford, again answering for Mrs. Varney, “since you wish to know. From the first I have had my suspicions about this – ”

But Edith did not wait for him to finish his sentence. She turned away from him with loathing, and moved rapidly toward the front window.

“Where are you going!” asked Arrelsford.

“For Captain Thorne.”

“Not now,” he said peremptorily.

The colour flamed in the girl’s cheek again.

“Mr. Arrelsford, you have said something to me about Captain Thorne. Are you afraid to say it to him?”

“Miss Varney,” answered Arrelsford hotly, “if you – if you – ”

“Edith,” said Mrs. Varney, “Mr. Arrelsford has good reasons for not meeting Captain Thorne now.”

“I should think he had,” returned the girl swiftly; “for a man who made such a charge to his face would not live to make it again.”

“My dear, my dear,” said her mother, gently but firmly, “you don’t understand, you don’t – ”

“Mamma,” said the girl, “this man has left his desk in the War Department so that he can have the pleasure of persecuting me.”

Both the mother and the rejected suitor noticed her identification of herself with Captain Thorne in the pronoun “me,” one with sinking heart and the other with suppressed fury.

“He has never attempted anything active in the service before,” continued Edith, “and when I ask him to face the man he accuses, he turns like a coward!”

“Mrs. Varney, if she thinks – ”

“I think nothing,” said the girl furiously; “I know that Captain Thorne’s character is above suspicion.”

Arrelsford sneered.

“His character! Where did he come from – what is he?”

“For that matter,” said Edith intensely, “where did you come from, and what are you?”

“That is not the question,” was the abrupt reply.

“Neither,” said the girl, “is it the question who he is. If it were, I’d answer it – I’d tell you that he is a soldier who has fought and been wounded in service, while you – ”

Arrelsford made a violent effort to control himself under this bitter jibing and goading, and to his credit, succeeded in part.

“We are not so sure of that, Miss Varney,” he said more coolly.

“But I am sure,” answered the girl. “Why, he brought us letters from Stonewall Jackson himself.”

“Has it occurred to you that General Jackson was dead before his letters were presented?” asked Arrelsford quickly.

“What does that signify if he wrote them before he was killed?”

“Nothing certainly,” assented the other, “if he wrote them.”

“The signatures and the letters were verified.”

“They may have been written for some one else and this Thorne may have possessed himself of them by fraud, or – ”

“Mr. Arrelsford,” cried the girl, more and more angry, “if you mean – ”

“My dear child,” said Mrs Varney, “you don’t understand. They have proofs of a conspiracy. The Yankees are going to try to break through our lines to-night, some one is going to use the telegraph, and two men in the Northern Secret Service have been sent here to do this work. One is in Libby Prison. Our faithful Jonas has been corrupted. He went there to-day and took a message from one and brought it here to deliver it to the other. They are trying to make him speak out there to tell who – Our country, our cause, is at stake.”

 

“Is this Mr. Arrelsford’s story?” asked the daughter stubbornly, apparently entirely unconvinced.

“No; these are facts. We had Jonas in here,” answered her mother; “caught him off his guard, and found the incriminating paper on him.”

“But he has not said it was for – ” persisted Edith desperately.

“Not yet,” whispered Mr. Arrelsford, “but he will. You may be sure of that; we have means to – Oh, Corporal,” he broke off eagerly, looking toward the door where the Corporal stood, his hand at salute. “Well, speak out, what does he say?”

“Nothing, sir.”

“What have you done with him?”

“Strung him up three times, and – ”

“Well, string him up again,” snarled Arrelsford. “If he won’t speak, shoot it out of him, kill the dog. We don’t need his evidence any way, there’s enough without it.”

“There is nothing,” said Edith tersely.

“By midnight,” answered Arrelsford, “you shall have all the proof – ”

“There is no proof to have,” persisted the girl.

“I will show it to you at the telegraph office, if you dare to go with me.”

“Dare! I will go anywhere, even with you, for that – ”

“I will call for you in half an hour then,” said Arrelsford, going toward the door.

“Wait,” interrupted Edith; “what are you going to do?”

“I am going to let him get this paper,” said Arrelsford, coming back to the table. “He will know what they want him to do, and then we’ll see him try to do it.”

“You are going to spy on him, are you?”

“I am going to prove what he is.”

“Then prove it openly at once. It is shameful to let such a suspicion rest upon an honourable man. Let him come in here, and – ”

“It is impossible.”

“Then do something, something, but do it now!” cried the girl. “You will soon know that he is innocent, you must know it. Wait! You say the prisoner in Libby is his brother – that’s what you said – his brother. Bring him here. Go to the prison and bring that man here.”

“What?”

“Let them meet. Bring them face to face, then you can see whether – ”

“You mean bring them together here?”

“Yes.”

“As if the prisoner were trying to escape?”

“Exactly.”

“There is something in that,” said Arrelsford; “when do you suggest – ”

“Now.”

“I am willing to try it, but it depends upon you. Can you keep Thorne here?”

“I can.”

“It won’t take more than half an hour. Be out there on the veranda. When I tap on the glass bring him into this room and leave him alone. And I can rely upon you to give him no hint or sign that we suspect – ”

“Mr. Arrelsford!” said the girl, indignant and haughty, and her mother stepped swiftly toward her, looking at him contemptuously, as if he should have known that such an action would be impossible for either of them.

Arrelsford gazed at them a minute or two, smiled triumphantly, and passed out of the room.

“Mamma, mamma!” moaned the girl, her eyes shut, her hand extended. “Mamma,” she repeated in anguish.

“I am here, Edith dear; I am here,” said Mrs. Varney, coming toward her and taking her tenderly in her arms.

“Do you think – do you think – that he – he could be what they say?” Her hand fell upon the commission in her belt “This commission I got for him this afternoon – ”

“Yes?”

“The commission, you know, from the President, for the Telegraph Service – why, he refused to take it,” her voice rose and rang triumphantly through the room; “he refused to take it! That doesn’t look as if he wanted to use the telegraph to betray us.”

“Refused! That’s impossible!” said her mother.

“He said that it was for me that he couldn’t take it.”

“For you! Then it is true,” answered Mrs. Varney.

“No, no,” said the girl; “don’t say it.”

“Yes,” said her mother; “the infamous – ” The girl tried to stifle with her hand upon her mother’s lips the words, but Mrs. Varney shook off her hand. “The spy, the traitor,” she added witheringly.

“No, no!” cried the girl, but as she spoke, conviction seemed to come to her. Why was it that her faith was not more substantially based and enduring? she asked herself. “Mamma,” she wailed, “it can’t be.” She buried her face in her hands for a moment and then tore them away and confronted her mother boldly. “Won’t you leave me alone for a little while, mamma?” she asked plaintively. “I must get – ”

“I will go to Howard; I will be back in a short time, my dear,” said her mother, gently laying her hand on her daughter’s bent head.

Left alone, the girl took the commission from her belt, opened it, smoothed it out, and read it through, as if bewildered and uncomprehending. She folded it up again, and walked slowly over to one of the front windows, drew aside the curtains, and pushed it open. All was still. She listened for she knew not what. There was a footstep from the far end of the walk leading from the summerhouse, a footstep she knew. Edith moved rapidly away from the window to the table and stood by it, her hand resting upon it, her knees fairly trembling in her emotion, as she waited. The next moment the open space framed the figure of Captain Thorne. He entered fearlessly, but when his eye fell upon her there was something so strained about her attitude that a spark of suspicion was kindled in his soul. Yet his action was prompt enough. He came instantly toward her and took her hand.

“Miss Varney,” he said.

Edith watched his approach fascinated, as a bird by a serpent. His touch awakened her to action. She snatched her hand away and shrank back.

“No; don’t touch me!” she cried.

He looked at her in amazement. The spark of suspicion burst into flame, but she recovered herself instantly.

“Oh, it was you,” she faltered. She forced a smile to her lips. “How perfectly absurd I am. I am sure I ought to be ashamed of myself. Come, let’s go out on the veranda. I want to talk to you about so many things. There’s – there’s half an hour – yet before we must go to Caroline’s.”

She had possessed herself of his hand again as she spoke. She now stepped swiftly toward the window. He followed her reluctantly until they reached the opening. She stepped through it and archly looked back at him, still in the room.

“How lovely is the night,” she said with tender persuasiveness. “Come with me.”

The man looked around him hastily. Every moment was precious to him. Did Miss Varney know. If so, what did she know? What was to be gained or lost by half an hour’s delay on his part? He drew out his watch and glanced at it swiftly. There was time. He would never see her again. He might say he would possibly never see any one again after the hazards of this night. He was entitled to one brief moment of happiness. How long had she said? Half an hour. He would take it.

“Aren’t you coming, Captain Thorne?” cried the girl from the porch, all the coquettish witchery of youth and the South in her voice.

“I am coming,” answered the officer, deliberately stepping through the window, “for just half an hour,” he added.

“That will be time enough,” replied the girl, laughing.

BOOK II
WHAT HAPPENED AT NINE O’CLOCK

CHAPTER VII
WILFRED WRITES A LETTER

Half an hour is a short or a long time, depending upon the individual mood or the exigencies of the moment. It was a short half hour to Captain Thorne – to continue to give him the name by which he was commonly known – out in the moonlight and the rose garden with Edith Varney. It was short to him because he loved her and because he realised that in that brief space must be packed experience enough to last him into the long future, it might be into the eternal future!

It was short to Edith Varney, in part at least for the same reason, but it was shorter to him than to her, for at the end of that period the guilt or innocence of the man she loved and who loved her would be established beyond peradventure; either he was the brave, devoted, self-sacrificing Confederate soldier she thought him, or he was a spy; and since he came of a Virginia family, although West Virginia had separated from the Old Dominion, she coupled the word spy with that of traitor. Either or both would be enough to condemn him. Fighting against suspicion, she would fain have postponed the moment of revelation, of decision, therefore too quickly passed the flying moments.

It was a short half hour to Thorne, because he might see her no more. It was a short half hour again to Edith because she might see him no more, and it might be possible that she could not even allow herself to dream upon him in his absence in the future. The recollection of the woman would ever be sweet and sacred to the man, but it might be necessary for the woman to blot out utterly the remembrance of the man.

It was a short half hour to young Wilfred in his own room, waiting impatiently for old Martha to bring him the altered uniform, over which Caroline was busily working in the large old-fashioned kitchen. She had chosen that odd haven of refuge because there she was the least likely to be interrupted and could pursue her task without fear of observation by any other eyes than those of old Martha. The household had been reduced to its smallest limit and the younger maids who were still retained in the establishment had been summarily dismissed to their quarters for the night by the old mammy.

Now that Wilfred had taken the plunge, his impatience to go was at fever heat. He could not wait, he felt, for another moment. He had spent some of his half hour in composing a letter with great care. It was a short letter and therefore was soon finished, and he was now pacing up and down his room with uneasy steps waiting for old Martha’s welcome voice.

It was a long half hour for little Caroline Mitford, busily sewing away in the kitchen. It seemed to her that she was taking forever to turn up the bottoms of the trouser legs and make a “hem” on each, as she expressed it. She was not very skilful at such rough needlework and her eyes were not so very clear as she played at tailoring. This is no reflection upon their natural clarity and brightness, but they were quite often dimmed with tears, which once or twice brimmed over and dropped upon the coarse fabric of the garment upon which she worked. She had known the man who had worn them last, he had been a friend of hers, and she knew the boy who was going to wear them next.

If she could translate the emotions of her girlish heart, the new wearer was more than a friend. Was the same fate awaiting the latter that the former had met?

The half hour was very long to Jonas, the old butler, trembling with fright, suffering from his rough usage and terror-stricken with anticipation of the further punishment that awaited him.

The half hour was longest of all to Mrs. Varney. After her visit to Howard, who had enjoyed one of his lucid moments and who seemed to be a little better, she had come down to the drawing-room, at Mr. Arrelsford’s suggestion, to see that no one from the house who might have observed, or divined, or learned, in any way what was going on within should go out into the garden and disturb the young couple, or give an alarm to the man who was the object of so much interest and suspicion, so much love and hatred.

About the only people who took no note of the time were the busy sempstresses in the room across the hall, and the first sign of life came from that room. Miss Kittridge, who appeared to have been constituted the messenger of the workers, came out of the room, went down the hall to the back of the house, and presently entered the drawing-room, by the far door.

“Well,” she began, seeing Mrs. Varney, “we have just sent off another batch of bandages.”

“Did the same man come for them?” asked the mistress of the house.

“No, they sent another one.”

“Did you have much?”

“Yes, quite a lot. We have all been at the bandages, they say that that is what they need most. So long as we have any linen left we will work at it.” She turned to go away, but something in the elder woman’s face and manner awakened a slight suspicion in her mind. She stopped, turned, and came back. “You look troubled, Mrs. Varney,” she began. “Do you want anything?”

“No, nothing, thank you.”

“Is there anything I can do or anything any of us can do?”

“Not a thing, my dear,” answered Mrs. Varney, trying to smile and failing dismally.

“Is it Howard?” persisted the other, anxious to be of service.

“He seems to be a little better,” returned the woman.

 

“I am glad to hear it, and if there is anything any of us could do for you, you would certainly tell me.”

The elder woman nodded and Miss Kittridge turned decisively away and stepped briskly toward the door. On second thought, there was something she could do, reflected Mrs. Varney, and so she rose, stepped to the door in turn, and called her back.

“Perhaps it would be just as well,” she said, “if any of the ladies want to go to let them out the other way. You can open the door into the back hall. We’re expecting some one here on important business, you know, and we – ”

“I understand,” said Miss Kittridge.

“And you will see to this?”

“Certainly; trust me.”

“Thank you.”

Mrs. Varney turned with a little sigh of relief and went back to her place by the table, where her work basket sat near to hand. No woman in Richmond was without a work basket with work in it for any length of time during those days. The needle was second only to the bayonet in the support of the dying Confederacy! She glanced at it, but, sure evidence of the tremendous strain under which she laboured, she made no motion to take it up. Instead, after a moment of reflection, she crossed to the wall and pulled the bell rope. In a short time, considering her bulk and unwieldiness, old Martha appeared at the far door.

“Did you ring, ma’am?” she asked.

“Yes,” was the answer. “Has Miss Caroline gone yet?”

“No, ma’am,” answered Martha, smilingly displaying a glorious set of white teeth. “She’s been out in de kitchen fo’ a w’ile.”

“In the kitchen?”

“Yas’m. Ah took her out dere. She didn’t want to be seed by no one.”

“And what is she doing there?”

“She’s been mostly sewin’ an’ behabin’ mighty strange about sumfin a gret deal ob de time. She’s a-snifflin’ an’ a-weepin’, but Ah belieb she’s gittin’ ready to gwine home now.”

“Very well,” said Mrs. Varney, “will you please ask her to come in here a moment before she goes.”

“Yas’m, ’deed Ah will,” said old Martha, turning and going out of the door through which, presently, Caroline herself appeared.

She looked very demure and the air of innocence, partly natural but largely assumed, well became her although it did not deceive Mrs. Varney for a moment, or would not have deceived her if she had had any special interest in Caroline’s actions or emotions. The greater strain under which she laboured made the girl of small moment; she would simply use her, that was all.

“Caroline, dear,” she began immediately, “are you in a great hurry to go home?”

“No, ma’am, not particularly, especially if I can do anything for you here,” answered the girl readily, somewhat surprised.

“It happens that you can,” said Mrs. Varney; “if you can stay here a few minutes while I go upstairs to Howard it will be a great help to me.”

“You want me just to wait here, is that it?” asked the girl, somewhat mystified.

Why on earth anybody should be required to wait in a vacant room was something which Caroline could not understand, but Mrs. Varney’s next words sought to explain it.

“I don’t want you merely to wait here but – well, in fact, I don’t want anybody to go out on the veranda, or into the garden, from the front of the house, under any circumstances.”

Caroline’s eyes opened in great amazement. She did not in the least understand what it was all about until Mrs. Varney explained further.

“You see Edith’s there with – ”

“Oh, yes,” laughed the girl, at last, as she thought, comprehending, “you want them to be left alone. I know how that is, whenever I am – when some – that is of course I will see to it,” she ended rather lamely and in great confusion.

“Just a few minutes, dear,” said Mrs. Varney, smiling faintly at the girl’s blushing cheeks and not thinking it worth while to correct the misapprehension, “I won’t be long.” She stepped across the room, but turned in the doorway for her final injunction, “Do be careful, won’t you?”

“Careful!” said Caroline to herself, “I should think I would be careful. As if I didn’t know enough for that. I can guess what is going on out there in the moonlight. I wouldn’t have them disturbed for the world. Why, if I were out there with – with – Wil – with anybody, I wouldn’t – ”

She stopped in great dismay at her own admissions and stood staring toward the front windows, over which Mrs. Varney had most carefully drawn the heavy hangings.

Presently her curiosity got the better of her sense of propriety. She went to the nearest window, pulled the curtains apart a little, and peered eagerly out. She saw nothing, nothing but the trees in the moonlight, that is; Edith and Captain Thorne were not within view nor were they within earshot. She turned to the other window. Now that she had made the plunge, she determined to see what was going on if she could. She drew the couch up before the window and knelt down upon it, and parting the curtains, looked out, but with the same results as before. In this questionable position she was unfortunately caught by Wilfred Varney.

He was dressed in the grey jacket and the trousers which she had repaired. She had not made a skilful job of her tailoring but it would serve. The whole suit was worn, ill-fitting, and soiled; but it was whole. That was more than could be said of ninety-nine per cent. of the uniforms commonly seen round about Richmond. Measured by these, Wilfred was sumptuously, even luxuriously, dressed, and the pride expressed in his port and bearing was as complete as it was naïve. He walked softly up the long room, intending to surprise the girl, but boy-like, he stumbled over a stool on his way forward, and the young lady turned about quickly and confronted him with an exclamation. Wilfred came close to her and spoke in a low, fierce whisper.

“Mother isn’t anywhere about, is she?”

“No,” said Caroline in the same tone, “she’s just gone upstairs to see Howard, but she is coming back in a few minutes, she said.”

“Well,” returned Wilfred, throwing his chest out impressively, “I am not running away from her, but if she saw me with these on she might feel funny.”

“I don’t think,” returned Caroline quickly, “that she would feel very funny.”

“Well, you know what I mean,” said Wilfred, flushing a little. “You know how it is with a fellow’s mother.”

Caroline nodded gravely.

“Yes, I have learned how it is with mothers,” she said, thinking of the mothers she had known since the war began, young though she was.

“Other people don’t care,” said Wilfred, “but mothers are different.”

“Some other people don’t care,” answered Caroline softly, fighting hard to keep back a rush of tears.

In spite of herself her eyes would focus themselves upon that little round blood-stained hole in the left breast of the jacket. She had not realised before how straight that bullet had gone to the heart of the other wearer. There was something terribly ominous about it. But Wilfred blundered blindly on, unconscious of this emotion or of its cause. He drew from the pocket in his blouse a paper. He sat down at the table, beckoning Caroline as he did so. The girl came closer and looked over his shoulder as he unfolded the paper.

“I have written that letter,” he said, “to the General, my father, that is. Here it is. I have got to send it to him in some way. It is all written but the last words and I am not sure about them. I’m not going to say ‘your loving son’ or anything of that kind. This is a man’s letter, a soldier’s letter. I love him, of course, but this is not the time or the place to put that sort of a thing in. I have been telling him – ” He happened to glance up as he spoke and discovered to his great surprise that Caroline had turned away from him and was no longer looking at him. “Why, what’s the matter?” he exclaimed.

“Nothing, nothing,” answered the girl, forcing herself to face him once more.

“I thought you wanted to help me,” he continued.

“Oh, yes! I do, I do.”

“Well, you can’t help me way off there,” said Wilfred. “Come closer.”

He spoke like a soldier already, thought the girl, but she meekly, for her, obeyed the imperious command. He stared at her, as yet unconscious but strangely agitated nevertheless. The silence was soon insupportable, and Caroline herself broke it.

Рейтинг@Mail.ru