able, a thousand times preferable. She was impulsive and leaped to this conclusion.
"Can't I do anything?" he said again.
"Peter, Peter Kennedy, you say you would do anything, anything, for me. I wonder what you mean by it. … How much or how little?"
"Lay down my life."
"Or risk it? There must be a way, you must know a way of … of shortening things. I could not go through it all again … not now. If the worst came to the worst, if I can't make him listen to reason, if he won't forgive or understand. If I have to face the court again, my father and stepmother to know of my … my imprudence, all the horrors to be repeated. To have to stand up and deny … be cross-examined. About you as well as him …"
Again she hid her face. Then, after a pause in which she saw her life befouled, and Gabriel Stanton as her judge or executioner, she lifted a strained and desperate face. "You would find a way to end it?"
She waited for his answer.
"I don't know what you mean."
"Yes, you do. If it became unbearable. Life no longer a gift, but leprous …"
"It isn't as if you had done anything," he exclaimed.