You guard my daughter here alone?
In my character of cousin to Diane Leblanc, gossip has already united us by even a closer tie.
To my infinite annoyance, sir.
Monsieur le Duc, in times like these, Madame Kauvar would be far safer than Mademoiselle de Beaumont.
[With quiet hauteur.]
There are some means of safety forbidden to my rank, sir.—Pardon me if I must say that what you suggest is one of them.
What if I dared to love your daughter, to hope that you would grant me the right to guard her as my wife?
[Shrugging his shoulders.]
This is another of the many insanities of the times.
Suppose I had reason to believe that your daughter would consent?
One moment, Monsieur! Your first proposition involves but madness,—your last implies dishonour.
Monsieur, honesty is honoured now, even though it be not allied to an empty title. Tis not a crest, but character, that measures manhood in this modern age. Therefore I do not fear to tell you—
[DUKE turns quickly. PAUL hesitates.]
that I love your daughter.
[With terrible contempt.]
And you take this time to declare it! When you have burdened me with obligations that leave me powerless at your feet?—when I must see in the demand for the daughter’s hand, a possible bargain for the father’s life.
[PAUL turns fiercely. The DUKE checks him.]
No more, sir! Happily I have two securities against dishonour: my child’s sense of what is due to herself—my own scorn of life purchased at such a price.
Perhaps your daughter may not deem the protection of my name so great a degradation as yourself.—Dare you put her to the test?