THE BLOWING OF THE WIND.
Smaller and smaller Faber felt as he pursued his plain, courageous confession of wrong to the man whose life was even now in peril for the sake of his neglected child. When he concluded with the expression of his conviction that Amanda was his daughter, then first the old minister spoke. His love had made him guess what was coming, and he was on his guard.
“May I ask what is your object in making this statement to me, Mr. Faber?” he said coldly.
“I am conscious of none but to confess the truth, and perform any duty that may be mine in consequence of the discovery,” said the doctor.
“Do you wish this truth published to the people of Glaston?” inquired the minister, in the same icy tone.
“I have no such desire: but I am of course prepared to confess Amanda my child, and to make you what amends may be possible for the trouble and expense she has occasioned you.”
“Trouble! Expense!” cried the minister fiercely. “Do you mean in your cold-blooded heart, that, because you, who have no claim to the child but that of self-indulgence—because you believe her yours, I who have for years carried her in my bosom, am going to give her up to a man, who, all these years, has made not one effort to discover his missing child? In the sight of God, which of us is her father? But I forget; that is a question you can not understand. Whether or not you are her father, I do not care a straw. You have not proved it; and I tell you that, until the court of chancery orders me to deliver up my darling to you, to be taught there is no living Father of men—and that by the fittest of all men to enforce the lie—not until then will I yield a hair of her head to you. God grant, if you were her father, her mother had more part in her than you!—A thousand times rather I would we had both perished in the roaring mud, than that I should have to give her up to you.”
He struck his fist on the table, rose, and turned from him. Faber also rose, quietly, silent and pale. He stood a moment, waiting. Mr. Drake turned. Faber made him an obeisance, and left the room.
The minister was too hard upon him. He would not have been so hard but for his atheism; he would not have been so hard if he could have seen into his soul. But Faber felt he deserved it. Ere he reached home, however, he had begun to think it rather hard that, when a man confessed a wrong, and desired to make what reparation he could, he should have the very candor of his confession thus thrown in his teeth. Verily, even toward the righteous among men, candor is a perilous duty.