His arms relaxed

“Never knew you to tumble before, Leah,” grumbled the Duke, next
morning, when admitted into his wife’s bedroom.

“Accidents will happen,” murmured the Duchess, rather lamely, and too
much shaken to be original. “I can’t talk, Jim–my mouth is still
sore.”

“What can you expect if you go a mucker? An’ th’ season’s startin’,
too. You’ll not be able to show with that swellin’.”

“A week at Firmingham will put me right. Katinka Aksakoff is coming
down also.”

“Heard she looked in last night. What made her call at so late an
hour?”

“She’s worried about her father,” lied Leah, prepared for the
question.

“Had an almighty row with him over that bounder doctor, I expect.”

Leah nodded languidly. “M. Aksakoff has gone to Southend. I take his
daughter with me there, to make peace.”

“Southend? There’s a hole! What’s he doin’ in that roost?”

“How should I know? I’ll reconcile the two if I can, and Katinka can
be my companion at Firmingham.”

“Dull company,” confessed Jim, candidly; “she never could flirt.”

“That will be no drawback,” said his wife, dryly. “Go away, please.”

“What lie am I to tell ’bout your sickness?”

“Tell the truth, by way of a novelty; or if you prefer a lie, say that
I have appendicitis. One must be fashionable, even in diseases.”

“All right,” said Jim, too obtuse to note the irony. “Sorry you’re so
ill. You’ve made an awf’l mess of yourself: women will wear such
confounded trains. Goo’bye at present. I’ll look in at Firmingham
durin’ your week of penance”; and, talking himself out of the room,
Jim went about his ordinary nefarious occupations, feeling that he had
behaved as a husband should.

The Duchess turned wearily on her pillows and winced. Not with pain,
for her mouth, though still swollen, was much less tender. It was the
prospect before her that hurt. In the evening a difficult interview
had to be got through somehow, and her brain began to forecast the
probable result. If Katinka could be believed it would scarcely prove
to be a pleasant one. Demetrius apparently intended to punish her by
blackening an unsoiled character. “Such a nasty, revengeful spirit,”
thought Leah, feeling ill-used and depressed.

But, after all, what could the man say likely to incriminate her,
seeing that she had moved amongst the pitfalls of the plot as
delicately as Agag? Demetrius had conceived and executed the entire
scheme, and what he could say would only fit in neatly with Strange’s
confession, which the public already knew and condemned. Her hand
could not be traced either in his Parisian journey or in the drugging
of the tea. How was she to know that Helfmann was a police spy, or
that the letter assuring her of the doctor’s intended return to Russia
had been deftly forged? Her surface behaviour, at least, was perfectly
honest, and would bear even the scrutiny of an interviewer. She could,
taking a broad view of unpleasant circumstances, defy the creature;
but nevertheless felt instinctively that it would be unwise to dare
him to do his worst. Such a plotting, narrow-minded, sneaking beast
would ruin himself to ruin her, and mud, if thrown persistently, was
apt to stick even to the whitest robe. What a shame that this animal
should so persecute her! How hard on a kind-hearted woman, whose sin,
as he called it, was merely an error of judgment. By the time Leah
finished her reflections her frame of mind was one of much-injured
innocence.

Later in the day, when driving to Liverpool Street Station to keep her
hated appointment, Leah half decided to call on Aksakoff. But second
thoughts assured her that his intervention was quite out of the
question. Were Demetrius to be arrested in British waters the Radical
press would howl, and nasty meddling politicians would ask unnecessary
questions in the Commons. It would be wiser, after all, to fight alone
and to the bitter end. If Demetrius thought she would give in,
Demetrius was entirely mistaken. He had yet to learn that she could be
as nasty as hitherto she had been nice. But he was horridly
ungrateful, as all men were. In this way did the arch-plotter salve
her conscience and compose her mind.

It was darkish when the brougham arrived at the station, and Leah,
glancing about under the electric lamps, saw Katinka waiting at the
ticket-barrier. For the benefit of an inquisitive maid and an
observant groom she addressed her gaily, though it was not easy to
speak with still aching lips.

“You _are_ punctual,” said the Duchess, pressing an unwilling hand
with ostentatious warmth. “Excuse my speaking much. I fell on the
stairs last night after you left and hurt my mouth.”

“I commiserate with you, madame,” replied Katinka, sarcastically.

“So good of you. I hope M. Aksakoff will not expect me to chatter.”

“My father?” echoed the girl, staring.

“He’s at Southend, isn’t he?” said Leah, impatiently; “at least, you
told me so last night. I have instructed my maid to go on to
Firmingham, while we travel straight to Southend. Such a cockney
place, isn’t it? Then we can get back–oh, about what time?”

“Say eleven o’clock,” returned the Russian, grimly. She now saw
through the clever comedy which was being played.

“You understand, Marie,” said Leah, turning to her maid, who was all
ears and eyes; “see that the brougham is sent in time. Come with me,
dear–there’s a reserved compartment–at least, I ordered one. Curl,
go and look.”

Thus prattling to deceive her domestics, Leah adjusted a very thick
veil, which hid from the public a face whose expression was quite at
variance with her sweet nothings. When the two entered the carriage
and the train was moving slowly out of the station, Katinka burst into
a harsh laugh.

“I congratulate you, Lady James; you should have been a conspirator.”

“So your dear father told me. Compliments run in your family,
apparently. Surely you do not blame me for putting things right with
my servants. They might think it queer, otherwise, and one cannot be
too careful with such creatures.”

“I fail to see what good your exceedingly clever explanations will do.
Constantine intends to speak out.”

“What about?” asked Leah, chafing, and throwing up her veil to manage
the girl more easily with her dominating eyes.

Katinka, always fiery, and with slack nerves after her Siberian
experiences, almost lost what temper she had left. “Need we keep on
your comedy, madame?”

“I’m sure I do not know what you mean. One would think that I wished
to deceive people, the way you talk. And after what I have done for
you, too–it’s most ungrateful.”

“And pray what have you done, Lady James?”

“Don’t call me Lady James; your stupid mistakes get on my nerves.
Done? Why, I pretended to fall on the stair to excuse the state of my
mouth. Had I been a nasty, spiteful creature such as you are, I should
have given you in charge for assault.”

“Give me in charge now,” sneered the girl.

“I might. Don’t drive me into a corner.”

“You are inconsistent. If you have done nothing wrong, how can I
drive you into the corner you speak of?”

“Because you are a monomaniac,” retorted the Duchess, angrily; “you
seem to think that I am the cause of the doctor’s exile. I, of all
people, who would not hurt a fly.”

“You would hurt a dozen flies if anything was to be gained,” snapped
the other, irritably. “You betrayed my Constantine.”

“I did nothing of the sort, as he will understand when he hears what I
have to say.”

“Hearing and believing are two different things, Lady James.”

Leah shrugged away the speech. “Of course, you are prejudiced, because
Demetrius loves me.”

Mademoiselle Aksakoff fetched a long, deep breath. “Do not try me too
far.”

“Do you intend to assault me again?”

“No; I even apologise for the blow. I told Constantine this morning of
my interview, and he said that I was wrong. It is for him to deal you
justice and punishment.”

“Punishment! Justice!” Leah laughed aloud in sheer rage at her
inability to parry these insults. “And for what, pray?”

“Constantine will tell you.”

“In that case I do not wish a second-hand judgment from you.”

The two glared at one another, venomous and defiant. As usual, the
younger woman’s eyes fell first, and she retreated to the furthermost
corner of the carriage, while Leah, pulling down her veil, tried to
face this most disagreeable situation. Not another word did they
exchange until the ducal servants branched off at Shenfield Junction,
and they had to be publicly amiable. Then, again, silence reigned
until their destination was reached. By that time Leah was more her
old insolent self, and disposed to be unpleasant.

“Will yon drive or walk?” asked Katinka, coldly, when they alighted on
the Southend platform.

“Walk, of course. I do not mind at all being recognised, since I have
come to see your father on board this yacht.”

“Captain Strange would be flattered by your description.”

The Duchess laughed contemptuously as they stepped into the street. “I
am scarcely responsible for M. Aksakoff’s notion of a yacht.
Foreigners are so ignorant.”

“They are not so clever as Englishmen–or Englishwomen.”

“Except in trickery and blackmail, where they surpass them,” retorted
Leah, her petty rage insisting on having the last word.

Katinka permitted her the gratification, and they walked the whole
length of the High Street in grim silence.

At a rude quay jutting from the beach of the lower town they boarded a
disreputable boat, rowed by two pirates and steered by a third. The
night was starry but moonless, comparatively calm, and noticeably
chilly. Leah shivered as the boat made for a vivid green riding-light,
which shone, an emerald star, no great distance from the shore. But
her shiver might have been an admission of dread. Katinka took it to
be so, and smiled in a gratified way as her enemy climbed the side of
the steamer, which was a veritable gypsy of the sea, untidy, dirty,
and decidedly questionable in honest eyes. Strange did the honours,
loud-tongued and raucous.

“Guess it do my eyes good to see your Grace,” was his welcome.

“Hold your tongue, and don’t use my title,” she replied furiously.

Strange’s milk of human kindness turned sour on the instant. “I ain’t
high-falutin’ enough, I s’pose. Pity I ain’t a dandy skipper of sorts,
all hair-oil an’ giddy gold tags.”

Leah turned her back without deigning a reply, and looked inquiringly
at Katinka. The girl, with an enigmatic smile on her wan face, led the
way down some greasy stairs, into a stuffy state-room, and opened the
narrow door of a side-cabin. Leah entered and heard the lock click
behind her. Evidently Mademoiselle Aksakoff did not think it judicious
to remain.

“But I daresay her ear is at the key-hole,” thought the Duchess,
contemptuously. She was trying to preserve her self-respect by heaping
obloquy on her rival, but scarcely succeeded as well as she desired.
Then she said “Ugh!” twice and with emphasis.

The interjections were not meant for the girl’s possible
eavesdropping, but to show Leah’s disgust at the close atmosphere of
the cabin. It was a nauseous, musky, sickly odour, which reminded her
only too vividly of the monkey-house at the Zoo. Neither light nor air
entered the den, save through the round port-hole over the bunk, which
was unscrewed. But even the briny sea-breeze blowing softly could not
do away with that thick, tainted atmosphere which had provoked the
visitor’s exclamations. With her handkerchief to her mouth Leah’s eyes
strove to become accustomed to the faint light. She saw dimly a heap
of blankets, but no form was visible beneath, and no face was to be
seen. Possible trickery occurred to her, until a voice came heavily
through the fetid gloom. Then, in spite of its odd, strangled sound,
she felt instinctively that Demetrius was buried somewhere under the
clothes.

“You will excuse the absence of a lamp, madame. My eyes are half
blinded with the snow-glare, and very tender.”

“How strangely you speak!” remarked Leah, involuntarily.

“A sore throat,” was the hoarse reply. “Siberia, as madame must be
aware, is not a summer climate.” The wheezy sound ended in a kind of
piping whistle.

“I am sorry you have suffered,” said the Duchess, at a loss what to
say. “Ugh, the smell!” she thought, seating herself on a locker, and
feeling almost too sick to control her faculties.

“Madame is too good.”

A dangerous pause ensued, while Leah wondered what was about to
happen. The man assuredly was Demetrius, and Demetrius was assuredly
extremely ill. It was within the bounds of possibility that he might
spring up and kill her. The thought did not trouble her overmuch. So
dangerous a business had to be faced undauntedly, and she kept down
her womanly weakness with masculine strength. During those slow
minutes she could hear the lapping of the waters, on which the vessel
rocked; hear also the laboured breathing of the sick man. This stopped
for a moment, and then did she hear her own easy breaths. Demetrius
evidently heard them also, and had paused to listen. He laughed
weakly, softly, clucking like a fowl.

“Madame is very brave.”

“I’m frightened to death,” she assured him, to excite his pity.

“Your breathing tells me otherwise. I am certain, madame, that your
pulse beats regularly, and that your nerves are entirely in order.”

“Is this a consultation?” she asked coolly.

“It is the farewell of two who loved,” murmured the hard, thick voice,
muffled by the blankets. “That is, madame, of one who loved and of one
who did not; and therein, as M. Heine truly remarks, lies the tragedy
of existence.”

“Demetrius–Constantine.” Leah felt that she must come to the point
and get rapidly through the interview, if only to escape from the
sickening atmosphere. “Katinka accuses me of betraying you.”

“Well, madame?”

“I did not. I swear I did not.”

“Indeed? Mademoiselle Aksakoff is doubtless mistaken.”

“In a way. She wishes to save her father from blame.”

“As a good daughter should. Will you explain further, madame?”

“Certainly. I came, of my own free will, to explain. Katinka told me
how ill you were, and I could not bear to think you should die
believing me to be dishonourable.”

“Madame speaks hopefully of my dying. It would please her, perhaps?”

“No. What do you take me for? I never loved you as you wished to be
loved; but if M. Aksakoff had not interfered, and we had married, I
should have come to love you.”

“You speak of what might have been.”

“I suppose so. Circumstances are altered. Marriage is out of the
question.”

“Assuredly, and I am scarcely fit for a bridegroom.”

“What is the matter with you?” asked Leah, anxiously.

Demetrius passed over the question. “Besides, Captain Strange informed
me that your husband has returned. Madame was doubtless pleased at
that marvellous resurrection, so cleverly managed.”

“No,” said Leah, honestly enough. “I was not; but circumstances made
it imperative that Jim should return.”

“And for me to travel in Siberia?”

“Blame M. Aksakoff, blame M. Aksakoff,” she insisted. “I am innocent.”

“Be pleased to observe, madame, that as yet I have brought no
accusation against you.”

“Katinka acted as your mouthpiece.”

“You have not my authority to say that.”

“Then I gather that you do not blame me for your exile?”

“How can I with any truth, madame, seeing that yon accuse M.
Aksakoff?”

“I do,” said Leah, resolutely.

“In that case I regret that Mademoiselle struck the wrong person.”

“You know that she struck me?”

“I was informed of it this morning, and express my regret that she
acted so foolishly. Did the blow hurt you?”

“It was most painful. I feel it still.”

“Your lip is cut, then?”

“Both lips–inside, luckily, so there will be no visible scars. But
even now a very little would make them bleed.”

Such was the profound egotism of her nature that she expected further
sympathy from the man she had reduced to such a condition. But the
doctor’s stock of polite phrases appeared to be exhausted. In place of
a compliment came a hoarse chuckle, like the cry of an early starling.
“You appear to approve,” said Leah, ironically.

“Pardon; I mentioned before that Mademoiselle, in my humble opinion,
was wrong.”

“She was very wrong. I am not accustomed to deal with wild beasts.”

“Spare me, madame; I owe her so much.”

“I owe her nothing except revenge for striking me. But I excuse that
because she is ignorant of the truth.”

“I am also ignorant, madame.”

“You shall hear it now–yes, the absolute truth.”

Again came the raucous sound, which might have been a laugh or a
groan–Leah could not tell which.

“The truth,” murmured the sick man; adding, after a significant pause,
“I am waiting, madame.”

“I went to Paris with Miss Tallentire,” explained the Duchess,
beginning anywhere in her hurry, “and Mr. Askew followed.”

“Followed you?”

“Certainly not. I always detested the boy–so conceited. He admired
Miss Tallentire, and his liking for me was the passing fancy of a
shallow nature. To arouse your jealousy, M. Aksakoff put it about that
Mr. Askew intended to marry me in Paris. The gossip–and it was merely
gossip–came to Mrs. Penworthy’s ears. That woman hated me then, and
hates me now. To make mischief she told you. You came over to Paris.
There, you remember what took place.”

“Not at our final meeting. My last memory of your face is seeing it
across the tea-table.”

“You had a fit of some kind, and M. Aksakoff called up a Dr. Helfmann,
who took you away in a cab to be cured. Then I received a letter from
you, stating that you were going to Russia. As I fancied you might
have settled with M. Aksakoff about your pardon, of course I quite
believed it, and–and–I think that is all.”

“Did you not know that the letter was forged?”

“No!”

“That the so-called Dr. Helfmann was a spy?”

“No!”

“That the coffee–or rather, that the tea was drugged?”

“No. How could I possibly know that M. Aksakoff was using me as his
tool? If the tea–it _was_ tea–well, if he put anything into the
tea, I did not see him do it. It was M. Aksakoff who gave you into Dr.
Helfmann’s charge, when you were insensible. Now, am I to blame?”

“Your explanation is eminently satisfactory, madame.”

“And you believe me?”

“It would be impolite to doubt a lady.”

Leah was nonplussed. She was manufacturing conversation, and his
comments were trivial, if not ironical, as she shrewdly suspected. She
could not quite arrive at his real meaning. He avoided answering
leading questions, and would neither accept not decline her
asseverations.

“I have no more to say,” she remarked, with an air of one washing her
hands of the whole affair.

Again a deadly silence ensued; again she heard the heavy breathing of
the creature hidden under the heaped blankets; again sounded the
drowsy lapping of the water and the faint sigh of the wind. This time
she resolved to make him speak, so that she might learn precisely what
he thought. But the moments passed and no speech came. Finally it did
come, in the unemotional voice of one who speaks in his sleep. He
discoursed on a subject about which she had no desire to hear.

“Paris–Havre–Kronstadt!” said the slow, drawling, monotonous tone,
“and then the weary journey across the Urals. Oh, the cold and the
snows and the bitter storms of Siberia! Chains and hunger, dirt and
rags; and always–always–the hopeless future. None loved me; none
lifted me up; none spoke words of kindness. Loneliness and sorrow and
the constant torment of painful memories.”

The voice died away in a sob. Leah, desperately anxious to defend
herself still further, would have spoken. But her mouth was dry; her
lips ached; tremors thrilled her body as the nerves twittered, jumped,
and quivered. Over the low bunk she could see the rocking stars as the
vessel swung to her anchor. What glimmer of light there was revealed
faintly the piled blankets, and nothing more. The face was veiled by
almost material shadows. And again, drearily and heavily, rose the
thick, muddy voice, without variance in its tones, without the music
of feeling. It might have been, and probably was, a voice from the
tomb, as it surged sluggishly through the fetid gloom.

“St. Petersburg,” announced the toneless voice, “Moscow, and the
farce of a trial. The waving of a white-gloved hand, and a courtly
bow, to dismiss me into pain and darkness and to a living grave.
Nijni-Novgorod, and Mother Volga, who takes us convicts to her
breast.”

Here came the dry chanting of a weird song which made the listener’s
flesh creep, and her guilty soul quail. Then again, slowly, wearily,
Demetrius began to name the stations of his cross on the way to the
calvary of a final prison. “Kazan, Pianybor, Perm, the bleak Urals,
that prison wall of the exile; Ekaterinburg, Tiumen, the doorstep to
the barren cell. Borka, Dobrouna, Oshalka”–the rough Russian names
grated on Leah’s ears;–“Yevlevoi and the slow-flowing river, the
prison barge, the black bread, the bitter, biting, burning cold;
Tobolsk, with its deathly mists and clammy darkness of Egypt; the
Charity Song–the weary, weary Miloserdnaya!” He sang another line or
two in a cracked voice, and broke out more humanly: “Then the warm
sunshine like the smile of the good God, and days of those gentle
winds we shall never breathe more. The flowers and the winds, the
sunshine and the laughing children. Samarof, Sourgout, Narym”; he
paused to gather strength for the crying of a name which issued with a
sob of heartfelt agony: “Tomsk–oh, Tomsk! Those long, long days of
waiting for what was to be; the horrible mercies of the unjust. Kyrie
eleison! Christe eleison! Kyrie eleison!” She saw the convulsive
movements of the blankets, and knew that he was making the sign of the
cross. After the crying to God and His Son came the protest against
the cruelty of man. “The weary prison of Tomsk; the road–the long,
horrible road to the ice-bound coast. Sakhalin, the island of pain,
the hell of the innocent, and a human soul lost. Christe eleison! A
loving, sinning soul for which Thou didst die, lost–lost–lost!”

Leah’s nerves ached and shook and shuddered as the account of the vile
journey welled forth smoothly like thick oil. With fixed eyes and
fascinated ears she took in the terrible Odyssey. After another
sobbing pause–the broken creature was crying bitterly–the voice
recommenced, droning on one note until Leah felt that she could have
screamed if only to vary the sound.

Demetrius spoke of the barren wastes of Sakhalin in the Gulf of
Ochotsk, where the freezing straits of Neviski run between mainland
and island. He told of obdurate Cossacks, of cruel gaolers, of the
treacherous Gilyak natives, who prevent the escape of the mortal
damned. A note of emotion crept into the voice, and in its level tones
she discerned a faint hope. A smuggled letter, and the assurance that
help was at hand; a corrupted warder, a bribed soldier, a black
starless night, and a desperate escape over deserts of snow. Then came
heart-rending relations of a drifting boat, of suffering and
starvation and cold which burnt to the bone. Leah heard of a brave
woman–“my love–my love,” said the voice tenderly–toiling with a
bought Japanese fisherman to bring the tiny shallop to a haven beyond
the grip of the merciless Muscovite. The weird tale took her through
La Perouse Straits, northward amongst the Kurile Islands, and into the
naked lands of Kamchatka. Here again, as she gathered, the fugitives
were in danger of recapture; but they fled still further north through
the bitter cold, and under a bleak sunless sky, to herd with the
Koriaks. The tormented voice droned ever on about these filthy
savages, fish-eaters, and hunters of the unclean; it shuddered through
accounts of loathsome diseases, and of smoky defiled huts like the
hells of Swedenborg. And the man wailed always, ever and again, of the
danger of being retaken, of terrible suspense, of shattered nerves,
and of the eternal strength of a pure woman’s love. The tale ended
with painful outbursts of joy at the sight of Strange’s tramp standing
towards the inhospitable Siberian coast.

“Peace, plenty, warmth, food, safety, kindness, hope, love!” chanted
the voice, broken up into almost musical gratitude. Then a pause of
infinite meaning, ended by a dry clucking chuckle. “And I lived that I
might see you,” breathed the man she had cast into the hell he had
described. Leah’s hair bristled at the roots. The speech was so
terribly significant. But her soul still fought against the inevitable
punishment, whatever that might be.

“Not my fault,” she panted eagerly; “horrible, horrible–but not my
fault! Oh, believe–believe me, Constantine.”

“You have asserted your innocence before,” murmured the sick man,
ironically; “and now—-”

“Now?” her heart almost stood still, so intensely did she listen.

“We must part for ever.”

“But you–you—-”

“I devote what remains of my life to the woman who has saved me–to
the angel who drew me out of the frozen deeps of hell.”

“And–and you–you will say–nothing?”

“This boat leaves here to-night for a place which need not be
mentioned. I go out of your life for ever, and silent.”

“Oh, thank you–thank you!”

“For what, madame, since you assure me of your innocence?”

Leah felt awkward. She had said too much. “Katinka is so prejudiced
that I thought–I thought—-”

Her voice died away. The lie would not come forth in the presence of
this dying wretch.

“You thought she would be jealous. Ah, no, madame.” Demetrius paused
and clucked again like a brooding hen. “She permits you to kiss me
with a last kiss.”

“No!” Leah half rose, and fell again, recoiling with a cry of terror
at the prospect of setting the final seal on her treachery, as did
Judas in the Garden.

“I beg of you, my first love. One kiss to dismiss me into the
silence–to close my mouth for ever and ever.”

So he did doubt her; he did not believe. All her lies were discounted;
all his conversation was merely ironical and make-believe. He held her
in a vice, and release would come only when she submitted to a
revolting caress.

“I will not–I dare not,” she stammered, shrinking against the wall in
an agony of physical fear from an object which a guilty imagination
revealed as loathsome to sight and touch; “you–you have no right
to—-”

“The right of love,” said the weary voice.

“You have no proof.”

“The cypher letters”; and a lean hand held out a packet, drawn from
under the discoloured blankets.

“For one kiss, madame–for one kiss.”

“Ugh!” groaned Leah, and snatched eagerly.

Packet and hand disappeared swiftly, and the voice whistled in a
jeering manner. “One kiss, madame, one kiss.”

She still fought. “My mouth is sore. I am—-”

“One kiss–one kiss–the last and the best; or–or—-”

Leah, writhing against the wall, gasped soundlessly. In that last word
there was the sound of a terrible threat. It was the knell of
respectability, of ease and luxury, and of all that makes life worth
living. A single caress would buy the evidence; a touch of her mouth,
and she would be free for ever and ever and ever.

“One kiss, then,” she muttered; and with all her soul crying
strenuously against the horror, she tottered forward. “One”; her lips
sought the place where a mouth might be supposed to be waiting. Two
arms flew up and gripped her.

She could not scream, for the arms dragged her down, belted her like
iron bands. Her mouth was on his, his lips were on hers. She writhed,
silent and agonised, in the horrible caress, in the abominable
embrace, trying to free herself in vain. Demetrius placed his lean
hand on the back of her head and absolutely ground her mouth against
his own. She could feel the wounds break and bleed, sanctifying the
kiss of Judas.

His arms relaxed, she flung backward, and the long-withheld scream
broke forth shrill and vehement. As if in answer to that terrible
summons, Katinka tore open the door and entered with a smoky paraffin
lamp. With one hand the girl thrust the shaking, sobbing woman
forward, with the other held the lamp towards the face peering out of
the blankets.

“Oh, my God!” shrieked Leah, and sprang from the cabin, pursued by the
cackling of broken laughter.

She made for the deck–for the side–for anywhere, to be out of the
sight of that face; that face which would haunt her till she died.
Strange, in silence, handed her, sobbing and whimpering, down the
black side, where the boat received her. She dropped in a heap, and
beside her dropped from Katinka’s hand a packet of letters. Above from
an open port-hole came clucking, cackling, chuckling laughter,
insanely gleeful, and the silent stars of God shone over land and sea.