Hadley felt the unkindness and injustice of Mandeville’s remarks, and had he merely consulted his own feelings, he would have retired at once, and never again intruded himself upon the society of one who could show himself so destitute of the characteristics of a gentleman. But there was another than himself that must suffer should he go, as his feelings prompted, from the premises of her father forever. Love was all-powerful in his breast at that hour, and choking down the rising emotions of anger and excitement, he attempted to reason with the stern man before him.
“But you surely,” he commenced, “do not mean to drive me from your door without a hearing? You certainly are too much of a gentleman for that.”
“I mean, sir, that I will allow no base, thieving miscreant to enter my house; nor will I permit a daughter of mine to hold intercourse with such villains! And more than that, I will tell you, sir, that I am not to be dictated to, as to whose company I shall keep, or whom admit to my house, by any such worthless, gallows-deserving scamp as yourself!”
This was more than Hadley could bear. He had resolved not to become excited, but anger rose in his bosom in spite of his will, and he answered in deep, excited tones:
“Sir, no man can apply such epithets to me and go unchastised. I demand a recantation of your unfounded charges, and an apology for their utterance.”
And as he spoke he assumed a menacing attitude. Rage at once filled the breast of Mandeville, and instantly rendered him altogether ungovernable. He raised his clenched fist, as if to strike the young man, and hissed savagely between his set teeth:
“Insolent villain! do you dare to insult me thus at my own door! Away in a moment, or I’ll smite you to the earth without another word!”
Hadley stood still.
“Go, vile dog! I say; go!” and he drew back his arm to strike.
At this moment, a piercing shriek arrested the attention of both gentlemen. It was a deep wail of agony, as though it came from a crushed heart. It emanated from the house, and the first motion of the two in conversation was to start forward in that direction; but recalling the words of the proprietor, that he was never to enter his dwelling again, Hadley paused and turned away, but loitered about the premises till he saw the father ride off in great haste toward the nearest village, and speedily return, quickly followed by a physician; then he left, with a vague feeling of dread laboring at his heart.