“’Tis nearly ten,” said Burr, “and there is no wedding.”
“But ’twas not eight by our clock.”
Burr took out the great gold timepiece which had belonged to his father, and held it towards her, and she saw the face plainly in the moonlight.
“What does this mean?” she said; and then she cried, half shrinking away from him, “Are you married then? Where is she?”
“Dorothy Fair is at home in her chamber, and I am not married, and never shall be.”
“Why—what does this mean, Burr Gordon?”
“She will not have me, and—no blame to her.”
“Will not have you, and the people there, and the hour set! Will not have you? Burr, she shall have you! I promise you she shall. I will go talk to her. She is a child, and she does not know—I can make her listen. She shall have you, Burr. I will go this minute, and talk to her, and do you come after me.”
Madelon gave a forward bound, like a deer, but Burr sprang up and caught her by the arm. “Why do you stop me, Burr Gordon?” she cried, trying to wrest her arm away.
“Do you think I have no manhood left, Madelon Hautville, that I will let you, you beg a woman who does not love me to marry me?”
“She does love you, she shall love you!”
“I tell you she does not!” Burr spoke with a bitterness which might well have come from slighted love, and, indeed, so complex and contradictory are the workings of the mind of a man, and so strong is the bent when once set in one direction, that not loving Dorothy Fair, and loving this other woman with his whole heart, he yet felt for the moment that he would rather his marriage had taken place and he were not free. His freedom, which he knew was a shame to welcome, galled him for the time worse than a chain, and he felt more injured than if he had loved this girl who had jilted him; for something which was more precious to him than love had been slighted and made for naught.
“She does—you are mad, Burr Gordon! She was all ready to marry you. She came to me to help on her wedding-clothes. She was all smiling and pleased. How could she be pleased over her wedding-clothes if she did not love you? She does, Burr! She is a child—I can talk to her. I will make her. Let me go, Burr! You wait here, and not fret. Oh, how pale you look! I tell you, you shall have her, Burr!”
“I tell you, Madelon, she does not love me, and I will not have you go.”
Madelon stood looking at him, her face all at once changing curiously as if from some revelation from within. She remembered suddenly that old scene with Eugene, and a suspicion seized her. “There’s somebody else!” she cried out, fiercely. “There’s no truth in her. If she thinks—she shall not—nor he—I will not have it so!”