Herr Paul waved his arm; the gesture was impressive, annihilating.
“This is a matter, I believe, between two men,” he said, addressing Harz. “Let us come to the point. I will do you the credit to suppose that you have a marriage in view. You know, perhaps, that Miss Devorell has no money till I die?”
“And I am passably young! You have money, then?”
“In that case, you would propose to live on air?”
“No, to work; it has been done before.”
“It is calculated to increase hunger! You are prepared to take Miss Devorell, a young lady accustomed to luxury, into places like—this!” he peered about him, “into places that smell of paint, into the milieu of ‘the people,’ into the society of Bohemians—who knows? of anarchists, perhaps?”
Harz clenched his hands: “I will answer no more questions.”
“In that event, we reach the ultimatum,” said Herr Paul. “Listen, Herr Outlaw! If you have not left the country by noon to-morrow, you shall be introduced to the police!”
Christian uttered a cry. For a minute in the gloom the only sound heard was the short, hard breathing of the two men.
Suddenly Harz cried: “You coward, I defy you!”
“Coward!” Herr Paul repeated. “That is indeed the last word. Look to yourself, my friend!”
Stooping and fumbling on the floor, he picked up his hat. Christian had already vanished; the sound of her hurrying footsteps was distinctly audible at the top of the dark stairs. Herr Paul stood still a minute.
“Look to yourself, my dear friend!” he said in a thick voice, groping for the wall. Planting his hat askew on his head, he began slowly to descend the stairs.
Nicholas Treffry sat reading the paper in his room by the light of a lamp with a green shade; on his sound foot the terrier Scruff was asleep and snoring lightly—the dog habitually came down when Greta was in bed, and remained till Mr. Treffry, always the latest member of the household, retired to rest.
Through the long window a little river of light shone out on the veranda tiles, and, flowing past, cut the garden in two.
There was the sound of hurried footsteps, a rustling of draperies; Christian, running through the window, stood before him.
Mr. Treffry dropped his paper, such a fury of passion and alarm shone in the girl’s eyes.
“Chris! What is it?”
“Oh! Uncle! He’s insulted, threatened! And I love his little finger more than all the, world!”
Her passionate voice trembled, her eyes were shining.
Mr. Treffry’s profound discomfort found vent in the gruff words: “Sit down!”
“I’ll never speak to Father again! Oh! Uncle! I love him!”
Quiet in the extremity of his disturbance, Mr. Treffry leaned forward in his chair, rested his big hands on its arms, and stared at her.