“You—you love him,” he cried. “You—my daughter! You have been—a traitor—to me! You have dared—dared—deny that which my whole life has affirmed! My own flesh and blood—when I thought the nearest metis of them all more loyal! You love this man—this man who has insulted me, mocked me! You have taken his part against me! You have deliberately placed yourself in the class of those I would hang for such an offence! If you were not my daughter I would hang you. Hang my own child!” Suddenly his rage flared. “You little fool! Do you dare set your judgment against mine? Do you dare interfere where I think well? Do you dare deny my will? By the eternal, I’ll show you, old as you are, that you have still a father! Get to your room! Out of my sight!” He took two steps forward, and so his eye fell on Ned Trent. He uttered a scream of rage, and reached for the pistol. Fortunately the abruptness of his movement when he arose had knocked it to the floor, so now in the blindness of a red anger he could not see it. He shrieked out an epithet and jumped forward, his arm drawn to strike. Ned Trent leaped back into an attitude of defence.
All three of those present had many times seen Galen Albret possessed by his noted fits of anger, so striking in contrast to his ordinary contained passivity. But always, though evidently in a white heat of rage and given to violent action and decision, he had retained the clearest command of his faculties, issuing coherent and dreaded orders to those about him. Now he bad become a raging wild beast. And for the spectators the sight had all the horror of the unprecedented.
But the younger man, too, had gradually heated to the point where his ordinary careless indifference could give off sparks. The interview had been baffling, the threats real and unjust, the turn of affairs when Virginia Albret entered the room most exasperating on the side of the undesirable and unforeseen. In foiled escape, in thwarted expedient, his emotions had been many times excited, and then eddied back on themselves. The potentialities of as blind an anger as that of Galen Albret were in him. It only needed a touch to loose the flood. The physical threat of a blow supplied that touch. As the two men faced each other both were ripe for the extreme of recklessness.
But while Galen Albret looked to nothing less than murder, the Free-Trader’s individual genius turned to dead defiance and resistance of will. While Galen Albret’s countenance reflected the height of passion, Trent was as smiling and cool and debonair as though he had at that moment received from the older man an extraordinary and particular favor. Only his eyes shot a baleful blue flame, and his words, calmly enough delivered, showed the extent to which his passion had cast policy to the winds.