Her faculty for adapting herself, for entering into other people’s feelings, if it served her now and then in small contingencies, hampered her in the decisive moments of life.
But Mrs. Fisher interposed with a decisive gesture.
He saw then, with a pang of self-reproach, that she meant neither to explain nor to defend herself; that by his miserable silence he had forfeited all chance of helping her, and that the decisive hour was past.
But to this direct appeal it was impossible to give an assent; and she said with friendly decisiveness: "I’m sorry—but you know why I can’t."
She could never afterward recall how long the duel lasted, or what was the decisive stroke which finally, after a lapse of time recorded in minutes by the clock, in hours by the precipitate beat of her pulses, put her in possession of the letters; she knew only that the door had finally closed, and that she stood alone with the packet in her hand.