“Let him die: it matters not!”
Ah, had he known the true state of the case, and the devilish import of those words in the mind of the abominable wretch who had uttered them, how suddenly would he have aroused himself to action. But now he cared not.
“If,” thought he, “Eveline is so ungrateful, if she thinks so little of a father’s love, let her go! Why need I seek to force her to stay with me when she prefers the society of another? Oh, if I had not loved her so tenderly, I could endure this trial better. But why mourn and lament? No, rather let me forget her, as she has forsaken me.”
But he could not forget her with all his resolving, and we will leave him with his sorrow.
Faithful to his wicked intentions, Duffel presented himself before Eveline on the day succeeding the one in which she was placed in confinement at the cave, and having no choice in the matter, she was obliged to become a participator in the conversation he was pleased to introduce and force upon her. She was seated on an elegant sofa—for the apartment was luxuriously furnished—when he entered; and with all the assurance of an accepted friend, he walked up and took a seat by her side. She was reading at the time, and when he entered she barely raised her eyes from the pages of the book, as if to assure herself who it was that intruded, and then, without further notice or any sign of recognition, continued to peruse the work in hand. This unexcited, cool and self-possessed conduct was not what the villain seemed to expect or desire; he hoped to find a suppliant in tears, instead of a calm and apparently unconcerned woman; he was prepared for such a subject, but for the one before him he was not, and he was at a loss how to proceed; indeed, just at that moment he was the most uneasy of the two. But he must do something, and so opened the interview on this wise:
“You seem to be deeply absorbed in the contents of that book, Miss Mandeville, and I am pleased to see you so well entertained in this rather solitary abode.”
As this remark did not positively require a reply, Eveline continued to read without opening her mouth; Duffel bit his lip in vexation, but after a pause of some duration continued:
“I am very sorry to interrupt you when so agreeably employed, but necessity often compels us to do things abhorrent to our feelings; and as I have some important communications to make, which it is best for you to know immediately, I must beg to be permitted to disturb you for a few minutes. Perhaps it will be some compensation for the brief interruption to give you the latest intelligence from your father and former home.”
At these words Eveline for the first time raised her eyes to the face of the villain, as if to ascertain the expression of his countenance, and learn whether he was in a serious or mocking humor. He went on: