II.19. The Awakening
Wingrave had risen to his feet. He was perfectly calm, but there was a look on his face
which Juliet had never seen there before. Instinctively she drew a little away, and
Aynesworth took his place between them.
"Are you mad, Aynesworth?" Wingrave asked coolly.
"Not now," Aynesworth answered. "I have been mad to stay with you for four years, to
look on, however passively, at all the evil you have done. I've had enough of it now, and
of you! I came here to tell you so."
"A letter," Wingrave answered, "would have been equally efficacious. However, since
you have told me--"
"I'll go when I'm ready," Aynesworth answered, "and I've more to say. When I first
entered your service and you told me what your outlook upon life was, I never dreamed
but that the years would make a man of you again, I never believed that you could be
such a brute as to carry out your threats. I saw you do your best to corrupt a poor, silly
little woman, who only escaped ruin by a miracle; I saw you deal out what might have
been irretrievable disaster to a young man just starting in life. Since your return to
London, you have done as little good, and as much harm, with your millions as any man
Wingrave was beginning to look bored.
"This is getting," he remarked, "a little like melodrama. I have no objection to being
abused, even in my own garden, but there are limits to my patience. Come to the point, if
you have one."
"Willingly," Aynesworth answered. "I want you to understand this. I have never tried to
interfere in any of your malicious schemes, although I am ashamed to think I have
watched them without protest. But this one is different. If you have harmed, if you should
ever dare to harm this child, as sure as there is a God above us, I will kill you!"
"What is she to you?" Wingrave asked calmly.
"She--I love her," Aynesworth answered. "I mean her to be my wife."
"She looks upon me as her greatest friend, her natural protector, and protect her I will--
even against you."