“Never! never! I will stay with you, if you wish me to; but marry Duffel, I never will! Force me to? No, father, you cannot! You may drive me from your house; you may turn me off and disown me, but you cannot make me perjure myself before God at the altar. No, father, I will obey you in all else; in this I cannot, and will not. If I were to go and forswear my soul in the solemn rites of marriage, my adored mother would weep over me in sorrow, if angels can weep in heaven. No, never, never!”
“My child, my dear Eveline,” said the father, tenderly endeavoring to quiet her, “you need not fear that your father will be so cruel”—and he laid his hand gently upon her, to assure her of his presence; but it had a contrary effect from that he intended; she seemed to apprehend violence, and cried out:
“Help! help! They are dragging me away to marry a villain! Will no one help me? Where is Charles? Leave me! help!” She began to scream very loudly, and Mr. Mandeville knew not what to do. The doctor, however, opportunely came at this moment, and administered a soothing potion, and she became quiet.
This was the recurring succession of events in the sick chamber for the first ten days of Eveline’s illness; then there was a change; the violent symptoms of disease were reduced, and a state of dreamy languor succeeded, with rare intervals of excitement, and those of the mildest type; but consciousness did not return, and the father had the satisfaction of knowing that the secrets of the place were his own. He had now but little fear that others would learn them, but this gleam of comfort was overshadowed by the increased apprehensions that his child’s sickness must prove fatal. Indeed, hope had almost fled from his bosom, but he clung with a death-grasp to the desire for her recovery, if for nothing else, that a good understanding might exist between them. He could not endure the thought of her leaving the world under a wrong impression of the motives by which he had been actuated in the course he had pursued. As his long and continued watching had worn him down, he now left the bedside frequently to snatch a little rest, and recuperate his exhausted powers.
And where was Hadley all this time? No fond mother ever hovered about the cradle of her sick darling with deeper solicitude, than did he about the residence of his beloved. He made friends of the nurse and maid, and from them and the doctor kept himself advised of her condition. Oh, how his heart ached to be by the bedside of the sufferer! How, at times, his spirit rebelled at the injustice of the father! But when he was told of his devoted attention, tireless care, and deep distress, he forgave him in his heart and blessed him for his devoted kindness to the invalid.
But where was Duffel? Let the sequel tell.
DUFFEL—THE SECRET CAVE AND CLAN.