“Because I will not place the half of my father’s wealth in your possession. I have read your motive from the beginning, sir, and have only refrained from telling you my mind, because I make it a rule to have the good will of a dog, in preference to his ill will, when I can. But as your conduct to-day has removed the last thin screen from your real character, and revealed your naked depravity of heart, I care not even for your friendship. You know, you feel, that you are a degraded wretch, and that you are unworthy of the society of the virtuous.”
“Madam, those words just spoken have sealed your fate! Dog as I am, I have the power to work your ruin, and I will do it! I go from your presence a bitter and unrelenting foe! The love you have rejected has turned into bitterness, and the dregs of that bitterness you shall drink till your soul sickens unto death! I will never lose sight of you! Go where you may, I will follow you! Hide in what corner of the world you may, I will find you! When you meet me, remember I am an implacable enemy, seeking revenge!”
“Go, vile miscreant, from my presence! Think not to intimidate me. Better an ‘open enemy than a secret foe.’ I am glad you have unmasked yourself so fully. Now I know that I have escaped the worst fate on earth.”
“Not the worst! To be the wife of even a villain is better than to be his victim!”
“Leave my presence, sir, or I will call a slave to put you out! Infamous wretch! The curse of God be upon you!”
He went, quailing under the flash of her indignant eye, which made his guilty soul cower in abasement.
When he was fairly gone, her high strung energies relaxed, and the reaction prostrated her strength. She sunk upon a lounge, and, giving way to her feelings, exclaimed:
“That man may yet work the ruin of my happiness! Oh, God, pity me, and let not the wicked triumph! In Thee I put my trust. Let thy watchful eye be over me, and thy power protect me. Oh, let me not fall into the hands of my enemy; but preserve me by thy right hand, and keep me lifted up!”
Prayer gave her strength, and renewed her courage. Relying, with firm faith, on the goodness and watchful care of her Father in heaven, she became cheerful and composed.
She very seldom saw or heard anything of Durant, but when she did, it always awakened fear. For a year she heard nothing of him, and, at last, the old dread had passed from her heart, when her father prepared to go to the West.
As for Durant, he went from her presence muttering curses and threatening vengeance, among which was distinguished by a slave, grated out between his clenched teeth, “I’ll make her repent this day’s work in ’sack-cloth and ashes!’ aye, if all h—ll oppose!”
THE VILLAIN AND HIS VICTIM.