“Peace, babbler! or, by Heaven! that prayer shall be your last,” vociferated Wacousta. “But no,” he pursued to himself, dropping at the same time the point of his upraised tomahawk; “these are but the natural writhings of the crushed worm; and the longer protracted they are, the more complete will be my vengeance.” Then turning to the terrified girl,—“You ask, Clara de Haldimar, where you are? In the tent of your mother’s lover, I reply,—at the side of him who once pressed her to his heart, even as I now press you, and with a fondness that was only equalled by her own. Come, dear Clara,” and his voice assumed a tone of tenderness that was even more revolting than his natural ferocity, “let me woo you to the affection she once possessed. It was a heart of fire in which her image stood enshrined,—it is a heart of fire still, and well worthy of her child.”
“Never, never!” shrieked the agonised girl. “Kill me, murder me, if you will; but oh! if you have pity, pollute not my ear with the avowal of your detested love. But again I repeat, it is false that my mother ever knew you. She never could have loved so fierce, so vindictive a being as yourself.”
“Ha! do you doubt me still?” sternly demanded the savage. Then drawing the shuddering girl still closer to his vast chest,—“Come hither, Clara, while to convince you I unfold the sad history of my life, and tell you more of your parents than you have ever known. When,” he pursued solemnly, “you have learnt the extent of my love for the one, and of my hatred for the other, and the wrongs I have endured from both, you will no longer wonder at the spirit of mingled love and vengeance that dictates my conduct towards yourself. Listen, girl,” he continued fiercely, “and judge whether mine are injuries to be tamely pardoned, when a whole life has been devoted to the pursuit of the means of avenging them.”
Irresistibly led by a desire to know what possible connection could have existed between her parents and this singular and ferocious man, the wretched girl gave her passive assent. She even hoped that, in the course of his narrative, some softening recollections would pass over his mind, the effect of which might be to predispose him to mercy. Wacousta buried his face for a few moments in his large hand, as if endeavouring to collect and concentrate the remembrances of past years. His countenance, meanwhile, had undergone a change; for there was now a shade of melancholy mixed with the fierceness of expression usually observable there. This, however, was dispelled in the course of his narrative, and as various opposite passions were in turn powerfully and severally developed.