Her suspicions became certainties. Its to another woman, she cried. I know it! Why else should you hold it from me? Was it to your wife that you were writing? How am I to know that you are not a married manyou, a stranger, that nobody knows?
I am not married, Ettie. See now, I swear it! Youre the only one woman on earth to me. By the cross of Christ I swear it!
He was so white with passionate earnestness that she could not but believe him.
Well, then, she cried, why will you not show me the letter?
Ill tell you, acushla, said he. Im under oath not to show it, and just as I wouldnt break my word to you so I would keep it to those who hold my promise. Its the business of the lodge, and even to you its secret. And if I was scared when a hand fell on me, cant you understand it when it might have been the hand of a detective?
She felt that he was telling the truth. He gathered her into his arms and kissed away her fears and doubts.
Sit here by me, then. Its a queer throne for such a queen; but its the best your poor lover can find. Hell do better for you some of these days, Im thinking. Now your mind is easy once again, is it not?
How can it ever be at ease, Jack, when I know that you are a criminal among criminals, when I never know the day that I may hear you are in court for murder? McMurdo the Scowrer, thats what one of our boarders called you yesterday. It went through my heart like a knife.
Sure, hard words break no bones.
But they were true.
Well, dear, its not so bad as you think. We are but poor men that are trying in our own way to get our rights.
Ettie threw her arms round her lovers neck. Give it up, Jack! For my sake, for Gods sake, give it up! It was to ask you that I came here to-day. Oh, Jack, seeI beg it of you on my bended knees! Kneeling here before you I implore you to give it up!
He raised her and soothed her with her head against his breast.
Sure, my darlin, you dont know what it is you are asking. How could I give it up when it would be to break my oath and to desert my comrades? If you could see how things stand with me you could never ask it of me. Besides, if I wanted to, how could I do it? You dont suppose that the lodge would let a man go free with all its secrets?
Ive thought of that, Jack. Ive planned it all. Father has saved some money. He is weary of this place where the fear of these people darkens our lives. He is ready to go. We would fly together to Philadelphia or New York, where we would be safe from them.
McMurdo laughed. The lodge has a long arm. Do you think it could not stretch from here to Philadelphia or New York?
Well, then, to the West, or to England, or to Germany, where father came fromanywhere to get away from this Valley of Fear!
McMurdo thought of old Brother Morris. Sure it is the second time I have heard the valley so named, said he. The shadow does indeed seem to lie heavy on some of you.
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