Page:In the Roar of the Sea.djvu/340

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

looking at her, with eyes that smote her, as though they were bullets.

"Very well," said he. "Your answer is no."

"My answer is no, so help me God."

"Very well," said he, between his teeth. "Then we open a new chapter."

"What chapter is that?"

"It is that of compulsion. That of solicitation is closed."

"You cannot, whilst I have my senses. What!" She saw that he had a great riding-whip in his hand. "What—the old story again? You will strike me?"

"No—not you. I will lash you into submission—through Jamie."

She uttered a cry, dropped the lavender, that became scattered before her, and held up her hands in mute entreaty.

"I owe him chastisement. I have owed it him for many a day—and to-day above all—as a go-between."

Judith could not speak. She remained as one frozen—in one attitude, in one spot, speechless. She could not stir, she could not utter a word of entreaty, as Coppinger left the room.

In another minute a loud and shrill cry reached her ears from the court into which one of her windows looked. She knew the cry. It was that of her twin brother, and it thrilled through her heart, quivered in every nerve of her whole frame.

She could hear what followed; but she could not stir. She was rooted by her feet to the floor, but she writhed there. It was as though every blow dealt the boy outside fell on her: she bent, she quivered, her lips parted, but cry she could not, the sweat rolled off her brow; she beat with her hands in the air. Now she thrilled up with uplifted arms, on tip-toe, then sank—it was like a flame flickering in a socket before it expires: it dances, it curls, it shoots up in a tongue, it sinks into a bead of light, it rolls on one side, it sways to the other, it leaps from the wick high into the air, and drops again. It was so with Judith—every stroke dealt, every scream of the tortured boy, every toss of his suffering frame, was repeated in her room, by her—in supreme, unspeaking anguish, too intense for sound to issue from her contracted throat.