“By heavens! you shall repent of this in sackcloth and ashes! Detest and loathe as you please, you shall feel my lips upon your own! and that now!”
With this, the infuriated villain stepped forward and made a pass, intending to encircle Eveline in his arms, but she eluded his grasp, and placing the sofa between them, drew from the folds of her dress a small dagger, and pointing it at his heart, said:
“One step, one movement toward me, and your life pays the forfeit!” and she pressed the point of the weapon against his breast.
The cowardly wretch was taken aback, and the moment he felt the instrument touch him sprang away, as if the sharp steel was truly entering his flesh.
“Base coward!” she, in her excitement, hissed between her teeth in the most contemptuous manner. At his discomfiture and these words, his rage knew no bounds; he was beside himself with anger, and but for the weapon which she held, would have wreaked his vengeance upon her at once in the most beastly manner. As it was, his cowardice did not permit him to make the attempt, and he contented himself with pouring out his wrath in words:
“You incarnate child of h——l! I’ll make you weep in sorrow and shame for this! I have given you a week for reflection, but now your time is at hand, any hour that I shall please to crush you! and I will not keep you long in suspense. You have called up a thousand furies in my breast, all clamorous for revenge, and I will not resist their cries! No, it will be manna to my soul to see your proud spirit humbled, or behold you a suppliant for mercy at my feet!”
“Oh, yes; you may talk, and by my dalliance I have learned you to become insolent; but now I am done with temporizing. I throw down the gauntlet, since you have entered the lists, and will compel you to accept the challenge.”
“No, sir, I accept it freely! Don’t talk of compelling me to do a thing.”
“I’ll show you what I’ll do! I’ll bring tears into those flashing eyes, and prayers from that venomous tongue! Yes, I will! I have engagements ahead for two days, and after that you shall have no peace day or night, until I have forced you to become my wife! I wouldn’t marry you at all, but that I have sworn to you to that effect, and I will keep my word.”
“You have uttered many false oaths before; they are so common I do not regard them.”
“Your boasting will soon be done! If need be, I have fifty men under my command, upon whom I can call for assistance, and not one of them will dare to disobey my orders.”
“Poor, contemptible poltroon! Fifty men against one feeble woman! Verily, you have a brave set of fellows under a brave commander! But you dare not call upon your men; I could make forty friends of the number in quick time; but, even if I should fail, you are too much of a coward to trust fifty men with your secret, especially as they all know you have a superior in command, to whom you are amenable.”