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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.