Will you leave me, if I do thus much? Will you leave me and return no more?
I will promise nothing, he rejoined, seating himself at the table, nothing but thisI will execute my threat if you betray me.
She rose at length, and going to a closet or pantry in the room, brought out some fragments of cold meat and bread and put them on the table. He asked for brandy, and for water. These she produced likewise; and he ate and drank with the voracity of a famished hound. All the time he was so engaged she kept at the uttermost distance of the chamber, and sat there shuddering, but with her face towards him. She never turned her back upon him once; and although when she passed him (as she was obliged to do in going to and from the cupboard) she gathered the skirts of her garment about her, as if even its touching his by chance were horrible to think of, still, in the midst of all this dread and terror, she kept her face towards his own, and watched his every movement.
His repast endedif that can be called one, which was a mere ravenous satisfying of the calls of hungerhe moved his chair towards the fire again, and warming himself before the blaze which had now sprung brightly up, accosted her once more.
I am an outcast, to whom a roof above his head is often an uncommon luxury, and the food a beggar would reject is delicate fare. You live here at your ease. Do you live alone?
I do not, she made answer with an effort.
Who dwells here besides?
Oneit is no matter who. You had best begone, or he may find you here. Why do you linger?
For warmth, he replied, spreading out his hands before the fire. For warmth. You are rich, perhaps?
Very, she said faintly. Very rich. No doubt I am very rich.
At least you are not penniless. You have some money. You were making purchases to-night.
I have a little left. It is but a few shillings.
Give me your purse. You had it in your hand at the door. Give it to me.
She stepped to the table and laid it down. He reached across, took it up, and told the contents into his hand. As he was counting them, she listened for a moment, and sprung towards him.
Take what there is, take all, take more if more were there, but go before it is too late. I have heard a wayward step without, I know full well. It will return directly. Begone.
What do you mean?
Do not stop to ask. I will not answer. Much as I dread to touch you, I would drag you to the door if I possessed the strength, rather than you should lose an instant. Miserable wretch! fly from this place.
If there are spies without, I am safer here, replied the man, standing aghast. I will remain here, and will not fly till the danger is past.
It is too late! cried the widow, who had listened for the step, and not to him. Hark to that foot upon the ground. Do you tremble to hear it! It is my son, my idiot son!
As she said this wildly, there came a heavy knocking at the door. He looked at her, and she at him.
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