Page:Hopkinson Smith--armchair at the inn.djvu/107

This page needs to be proofread.


regain her composure, “he loved her too much to hear anything against her. He knew she had stolen it, for he had heard it from her own lips.”

“And you never tried to clear her character?”

“How could I? It was her secret, not mine. To divulge it would have led to her other and more terrible secret, and that I was pledged to keep. She is dead, poor girl, or I would not have told you now.”

“And what did you do, may I ask?” inquired Brierley.

“Nothing, except tell fibs. After she had gone the following morning I excused her to him, of course, on every ground that I could think of. I argued that she had a peculiar nature; that owing to her captivity she had perhaps lost that fine sense of what was her own and what was another’s; that she had many splendid qualities; that she had only yielded to an impulse, just as a Bedouin does who steals an Arab horse and who, on second thought, returns it. That I had forgiven her, and had told her so, and as proof of it had tried, without avail, to make her keep the topaz. Only my husband knew the truth. ‘Let it stay as it is, my dear,’ he said to me; ‘that girl has