“Your hope is vain, and I will bring you the necessary witnesses to-morrow to prove my words; at present I will state the fact, and add; for your benefit, that, whether true or false, your destiny is the same, and from it you cannot, shall not escape. I will now lay down the unalterable decree of fate, which you may as vainly attempt to avoid, as to pluck down the stars of heaven, or to blot out the sun from the firmament!”
“I give you one week in which to con the matter over in your mind; if at the end of that time you willingly consent to become my wife, well and good; if not, then I will make you mine whether you will or not!”
“Girl! don’t presume too far on my patience. I warn you it is not the most enduring in the world.”
“I am not so sure of that. Cowards are generally very patient when there is no danger at hand.”
“You will repent this, girl!”
“And you, sir! what will you do when the rope dangles in your face?”
“Kiss my pretty wife and commend her to the compassion of her friends.”
“You will never have a wife, sir. God in His infinite mercy, will spare all my sex from such a fearful calamity.”
“Enough words for this time. To-morrow I will bring the witnesses of Hadley’s death, as I promised you; and this day week I will receive your final answer to my last offer of a peaceable marriage.”
So saying, he left the room and the cave.
THE EVIDENCE—DUFFEL THWARTED.
It would be difficult to tell which of the two, Eveline or Duffel, was most uneasy, or least alarmed, during the progress of the conversation recorded in the last chapter. Duffel feared that Bill and Dick had played him false, and he also saw that his antagonist was too much for him in a fair contest. Eveline felt an internal dread of her adversary, though she gave no outward manifestation of fear, having firmly resolved to withstand his every attack, and if need be die in defense of her virtue. When alone, however, the feelings uppermost in her mind were those of distress and apprehension; and as she took a survey of the position in which she was placed, and contemplated the hopelessness of her situation, a tide of emotions, long suppressed, swept over her spirit, and yielding to her feelings, she bowed her head, and wept.
When Duffel was alone, he called up all that had passed, and as he dwelt on the revelation of his plots as made to him by Eveline, he came to the conclusion that the sooner he could get rid of Bill and Dick the better; for it must have been through them that she came in possession of the secrets known only to themselves.
“I’ll teach them a lesson!” he said, “and once clear of these fellows I will never trust rascals again. I wish they would, hurry and make way with Duval; I would then have them! However, I must have an interview now, and use them awhile longer.”