Step by step, with horror-stricken eyes, Alida retreated from the man to whose protection and embrace she had flown. "Then it's true?" she said in a hoarse whisper. travel newsletter
He was speechless.
"You are willfully blind now, miss, if you don't see it's true," was the stranger's biting comment.
Paying no heed to her, Alida's eyes rested on the man whom she had believed to be her husband.  She took an irresolute step toward him. "Speak, Wilson!" she cried. "I gave you my whole faith and no one shall destroy it but yourself.  Speak, explain!  Show me that there's some horrible mistake."
"Lida," said the man, lifting his bloodless face, "if you knew all the circumstances--"
"She shall know them!" half shrieked the woman, as if at last stung to fury. "I see that you both hope to get through this affair with a little high tragedy, then escape and come together again in some other hiding place.  As for this creature, she can go where she pleases, after hearing the truth; but you, Henry Ferguson, have got to do your duty by me and your child or go to prison.  Let me tell you, miss, that this man was also married to me by a minister.  I have my certificate and can produce witnesses.  There's one little point you'll do well to consider," she continued, in bitter sarcasm, "he married me first.  I suppose you are not so young and innocent as not to know where this fact places YOU.  He courted and won me as other girls are courted and married.  He promised me all that he ever promised you.  Then, when I lost my rosy cheeks--when I became sick and feeble from child-bearing--he deserted and left me almost penniless.  You needn't think you will have to take my word for this.  I have proof enough.  And now, Henry Ferguson, I've a few words for you, and then you must take your choice.  You can't escape.  I and my brother have tracked you here.  You can't leave these rooms without going to prison.  You'd be taken at the very door.  But I give you one more chance.  If you will promise before God to do your duty by me and your child, I'll forgive as far as a wronged woman can forgive.  Neither I nor my brother will take proceedings against you.  What this woman will do I don't know.  If she prosecutes you, and you are true to me, I'll stand by you, but I won't stand another false step or a false word from you."
Ferguson had again sunk into his chair, buried his face in his hands, and sat trembling and speechless.  Never for an instant had Alida taken her eyes from him; and now, with a long, wailing cry, she exclaimed, "Thank God, thank God!  Mother's dead."
This was now her best consolation.  She rushed into her bedchamber, and a moment later came out, wearing her hat and cloak.  Ferguson started up and was about to speak, but , and her tones were sad and stern as she said, "Mr. Ferguson, from your manner more truly than from this woman, I learn the truth.  You took advantage of my misfortunes, my sorrow and friendlessness, to deceive me.  You know how false are your wife's words about my eagerness to be deceived and married.  But you have nothing to fear from me.  I shall not prosecute you as she suggests, and I charge you before God to do your duty by your wife and child and never to speak to me again."  Turning, she hastened toward the door.
"Where are you going?" Ferguson exclaimed, seeking to intercept her.
She waved him off. "I don't know," she replied. "I've no right to be here," and she fled down the stairway and out into the darkness.
The child had not wakened.  It was well that it had not looked upon such a scene, even in utter ignorance of its meaning dermes .
Chapter 8 Holcroft's View of Matrimony