"I tried, but he stopped me. 'You needn't trouble to hide that,' he said. 'I happen to have read it.' I could only look at him, helplessly—I could say nothing. 'You understand?' he went on; 'I have read it. I dug it up out of the sand two hours since, and buried it again, and wrote the word above it again, and left it ready to your hands. You can't lie yourself out of the scrape now. You saw Anne Catherick in secret yesterday; and you have got her letter in your hand at this moment. I have not caught her yet, but I have caught you. Give me the letter.' He stepped close up to me—I was alone with him, Marian—what could I do?—I gave him the letter."
"What did he say when you gave it to him?"
"At first he said nothing. He took me by the arm, and led me out of the boat-house, and looked about him, on all sides, as if he was afraid of our being seen or heard. Then, he clasped his hand fast round my arm, and whispered to me: 'What did Anne Catherick say to you yesterday?—I insist on hearing every word, from first to last.'"
"Did you tell him?"
"I was alone with him, Marian—his cruel hand was bruising my arm— what could I do?"
"Is the mark on your arm still? Let me see it?"
"Why do you want to see it?"
"I want to see it, Laura, because our endurance must end, and our resistance must begin to-day. That mark is a weapon to strike him with. Let me see it now—I may have to swear to it at some future time."
"Oh, Marian, don't look so! don't talk so! It doesn't hurt me now!"
"Let me see it!"
She showed me the marks. I was past grieving over them, past crying over them, past shuddering over them. They say we are either better than men, or worse. If the temptation that has fallen in some women's way, and made them worse, had fallen in mine at that moment—Thank God! my face betrayed nothing that his wife could read. The gentle, innocent, affectionate creature thought I was frightened for her and sorry for her, and thought no more.
"Don't think too seriously of it, Marian," she said simply, as she pulled her sleeve down again. "It doesn't hurt me, now."
"I will try to think quietly of it, my love, for your sake.—Well! well! And you told him all that Anne Catherick had said to you—all that you told me?"