"I will see who is there!" he cried, beside himself with angry rage. "Perhaps I shall know then why you wish to be freed from me. Whose face is lying near your heart? Let me see. If it is that of any one who has outwitted me, I will throw it into the depths of the lake."
"You shall not see it," she said, raising her hand, and clasping the little locket tightly. "I am not afraid, Hugh Fernely. You will never use violence to me."
But the hot anger leaped up in his heart; he was mad with cruel jealousy and rage, and tried to snatch the locket from her. She defended it, holding it tightly clasped in one hand, while with the other she tried to free herself from his grasp.
It will never be know how that fatal accident happened. Men will never know whether the hapless girl fell, or whether Hugh Fernely, in his mad rage, flung her into the lake. There was a startled scream that rang through the clear air, a heavy fall, a splash amid the waters of the lake! There was one awful, despairing glance from a pale, horror-stricken face, and then the waters closed, the ripples spread over the broad surface, and the sleeping lilies trembled for a few minutes, and then lay still again! Once, and once only, a woman's white hand, thrown up, as it were, in agonizing supplication, cleft the dark water, and then all was over; the wind blew the ripples more strongly; they washed upon the grass, and the stir of the deep waters subsided!
Hugh Fernely did not plunge into the lake after Beatrice--it was too late to save her; still, he might have tried. The cry that rang through the sleeping woods, seemed to paralyze him--he stood like one bereft of reason, sense and life. Perhaps the very suddenness of the event overpowered him. Heaven only knows what passed in his dull, crazed mind while the girl he loved sank without help. Was it that he would not save her for another that in his cruel love he preferred to know her dead, beneath the cold waters, rather than the living, happy wife of another man? Or was it that in the sudden shock and terror he never thought of trying to save her?
He stood for hours--it seemed to him as years--watching the spot where the pale, agonized face had vanished--watching the eddying ripples and the green reeds. Yet he never sought to save her--never plunged into the deep waters whence he might have rescued her had he wished. He never moved. He felt no fatigue. The first thing that roused him was a gleam of gray light in the eastern sky, and the sweet, faint song of a little bird.
Then he saw that the day had broken. He said to himself, with a wild horrible laugh, that he had watched all night by her grave.
He turned and fled. One meeting him, with fierce, wild eyes full of the fire of madness, with pale, haggard face full of despair, would have shunned him. He fled through the green park, out on the high-road, away through the deep woods--he knew not whither never looking back; crying out at times, with a hollow, awful voice that he had been all night by her grave; falling at times on his face with wild, woeful weeping, praying the heavens to fall upon him and hide him forever from his fellow men.