Coventry loved her, after his fashion, and her mute but eloquent misery moved him.
He drew nearer to her, and said softly, "Do not look so; I can't bear it. He is not there."
Coventry was silent for a moment, and seemed uneasy; but at last he replied thus: "There were two explosions. The chimney fell into the river a moment before the explosion that blew up the works. So how can he be buried under the ruins of the chimney? I know this from a workman who was standing on the bridge when the explosions took place."
Bless the tongue that tells me that! Oh, how much wiser you are than the rest of us! Mr. Coventry, pity and forgive a poor girl who has used you ill. Tell me--tell me--what can have become of him?"
Coventry was much agitated, and could not speak for some time, and when he did, it was in a faint voice as of one exhausted by a mental struggle. "Would you rather he was--dead--or--false?"
"Oh false--a thousand times! Prove to me he is not dead, but only false to his poor Grace, and I will bless you on my knees."
Coventry's eye flashed. "Well, then, he was the lover of Jael Dence, the girl who fought for him, and shed her blood for him, and saved his life. The connection was open and notorious."
"Many a man has fled from two women, who could have been happy with either of them. I believe that this man found himself unable to play the double game any longer, and that he has fled the country--"