“You think so?” broke in Galen Albret, harshly. And looking at his set face and blazing eyes, they saw that there was no chance. The Free Trader shrugged his shoulders.
“You are going to do this thing, father,” appealed Virginia, “after what I have told you?”
“My mind is made up.”
“I shall not survive him, father!” she threatened, in a low voice. Then, as the Factor did not respond, “Do not misunderstand me. I do not intend to survive him.”
“Silence! silence! silence!” cried Galen Albret, in a crescendo outburst. “Silence! I will not be gainsaid! You have made your choice! You are no longer a daughter of mine!”
“Father!” cried Virginia, faintly, her lips going pale.
“Don’t speak to me! Don’t look at me! Get out of here! Get out of the place! I won’t have you here another day—another hour! By——”
The girl hesitated for a moment, then ran to him, sinking on her knees, and clasping his hand.
“Father,” she pleaded, “you are not yourself. This has been very trying to you. To-morrow you will be sorry. But then it will be too late. Think, while there is yet time. He has not committed a crime. You yourself told me he was a man of intelligence and daring—a gentleman; and surely, though he has been hasty, he has acted with a brave spirit through it all. See, he will promise you to go away quietly, to say nothing of all this, never to come into this country again without your permission. He will do this if I ask him, for he loves me. Look at me, father. Are you going to treat your little girl so—your Virginia? You have never refused me anything before. And this is the greatest thing in all my life.” She held his hand to her cheek and stroked it, murmuring little feminine, caressing phrases, secure in her power of witchery, which had never failed her before. The sound of her own voice reassured her, the quietude of the man she pleaded with. A lifetime of petting, of indulgence, threw its soothing influence over her perturbation, convincing her that somehow all this storm and stress must be phantasmagoric—a dream from which she was even now awakening into a clearer day of happiness. “For you love me, father,” she concluded, and looked up daintily, with a pathetic, coquettish tilt of her fair head, to peer into his face.
Galen Albret snarled like a wild beast, throwing aside the girl, as he did the chair in which he had been sitting. Ned Trent caught her, reeling, in his arms.
For as is often the case with passionate but strong temperaments, though the Factor had attained a certain calm of control, the turmoil of his deeper anger had not been in the least stilled. Over it a crust of determination had formed—the determination to make an end by the directest means in his autocratic power of this galling opposition. The girl’s pleading, instead of appealing to him, had in reality