“God grant it!”
“She possesses now, indeed, a very respectable property; but after the stir that this unlucky affair with the adventurer has made, canst thou believe that a partner so suitable as Mr. Rascal could be readily found for her? Dost thou know what a fortune Mr. Rascal possesses? He has paid six millions for estates here in the country, free from all debts. I have had the title deeds in my own hands! He it was who everywhere had the start of me; and, besides this, has in his possession bills on Thomas John for about three and a half millions.”
“He must have stolen enormously!”
“What talk is that again! He has wisely saved what would otherwise have been lavished away.”
“A man that has worn livery—”
“Stupid stuff! He has, however, an unblemished shadow.”
“Thou art right, but—”
The man in the gray coat laughed and looked at me. The door opened and Mina came forth. She supported herself on the arm of a chambermaid, silent tears rolling down her lovely pale cheeks. She seated herself on a stool which was placed for her under the lime trees, and her father took a chair by her. He tenderly took her hand, and addressed her with tender words, while she began violently to weep.
“Thou art my good, dear child, and thou wilt be reasonable, wilt not wish to distress thy old father, who seeks only thy happiness. I can well conceive it, dear heart, that it has sadly shaken thee. Thou art wonderfully escaped from thy misfortunes! Before we discovered the scandalous imposition, thou hadst loved this unworthy one greatly; see, Mina, I know it, and upbraid thee not for it. I myself, dear child, also loved him so long as I looked upon him as a great gentleman. But now thou seest how different all has turned out. What! every poodle has his own shadow, and should my dear child have a husband—no! thou thinkest, indeed, no more about him. Listen, Mina! Now a man solicits thy hand, who does not shun the sunshine, an honorable man, who truly is no prince, but who possesses ten millions, ten times more than thou; a man who will make my dear child happy. Answer me not, make no opposition, be my good, dutiful daughter, let thy loving father care for thee, and dry thy tears. Promise me to give thy hand to Mr. Rascal. Say, wilt thou promise me this?”
She answered with a faint voice—“I have no will, no wish further upon earth. Happen with me what my father will.”
At this moment Mr. Rascal was announced, and stepped impudently into the circle. Mina lay in a swoon. My detested companion glanced angrily at me, and whispered in hurried words—“And that can you endure? What then flows instead of blood in your veins?” He scratched with a hasty movement a slight wound in my hand, blood flowed, and he continued—“Actually red blood!—So sign then!” I had the parchment and the pen in my hand.