'And yet--' He looked vacantly at her, to resume with dazed senses: 'Why didn't you tell me before? Ah, yes, you would have told me, in a way - but I hindered you, I remember!'

These and other of his words were nothing but the perfunctory babble of the surface while the depths remained paralyzed. He turned away, and bent over a chair. Tess followed him to the middle of the room where he was, and stood there staring at him with eyes that did not weep. Presently she slid down upon her knees beside his foot, and from this position she crouched in a heap.

'In the name of our love, forgive me!' she whispered with a dry mouth. 'I have forgiven you for the same!'

And, as he did not answer, she said again--

'Forgive me as you are forgiven! I forgive you, Angel.'

'You - yes, you do.'

'But you do not forgive me?'

'O Tess, forgiveness does not apply to the case! You were one person; now you are another. My God - how can forgiveness meet such a grotesque - prestidigitation as that!'

He paused, contemplating this definition; then suddenly broke into horrible laughter - as unnatural and ghastly as a laugh in hell.

'Don't - don't! It kills me quite, that!' she shrieked. 'O have mercy upon me - have mercy!'

He did not answer; and, sickly white, she jumped up.