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At these words Margaret reeled back till the wall of the cabin stayed
her, and there she rested.
"Spare me your reproaches," went on d'Aguilar hurriedly. "I will tell
you all the truth. First, be not anxious as to your father; no accident
has happened to him; he is sound and well. Forgive me if you have
suffered pain and doubt; but there was no other way. That tale was only
one of love's snares and tricks----" He paused, overcome, fascinated by
Margaret's face, which of a sudden had grown awful--that of a goddess of
vengeance, of a Medusa, which seemed to chill his blood to ice.
"A snare! A trick!" she muttered hoarsely, while her eyes flamed on him
like burning stars. "Thus then I pay you for your tricks." And in an
instant he became aware that she had snatched a dagger from her bosom
and was springing on him.
He could not move; those fearful eyes held him fast. In another moment
that steel would have pierced his heart. But Betty had seen also, and,
thrusting her strong arms about Margaret, held her back, crying:
"Listen, you do not understand. It is I he wants--not you; I whom he
loves, and who love him, and am about to marry him. You he will send
"Loose me," said Margaret, in such a voice that Betty's arms fell from
her, and she stood there, the dagger still in her hand. "Now," she said
to d'Aguilar, "the truth, and be swift with it. What means this woman?"
"She knows best," answered d'Aguilar uneasily. "It has pleased her to
wrap herself in this web of conceits."
"Which it has pleased you to spin, perchance. Speak, girl!"
"He made love to me," gasped Betty; "and I love him. He promised to
marry me. He sent me a letter but to-day--here it is," and she drew
"Read," said Margaret; and Betty read.
"So _you_ have betrayed me," said Margaret, "you, my cousin, whom I have
sheltered and cherished."
"No," cried Betty. "I never thought to betray you; sooner would I have
died. I believed that your father was hurt, and that while you were
visiting him that man would take me."
"What have you to say?" asked Margaret of d'Aguilar in the same dreadful
voice. "You offered your accursed love to me--and to her, and you have
snared us both. Man, what have you to say?"
"Only this", he answered, trying to look brave, "that woman is a fool,
whose vanity I played on that I might make use of her to keep near
"Do you hear, Betty? do you hear?" cried Margaret with a terrible little
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