Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/101

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79
FATHER AND SON.

aided in my deliverance do you seek to rob me doubly and trebly of life, since you would rob me of my child's love and obedience. I have given you all, you proud Spaniards; you have sapped my trunk, drop by drop, of strength and power; I am but a dried stick; but as sure as the blood of the old Valors runs in my veins, my child, my life you shall not rob me of, as long as this hand has strength to bury this dagger in her weak maiden's heart. Go! old fool that I am, I was deluded into thinking you better than others. Go! you are as covetous and mischievous as all the rest."

His voice sounded like a war-cry, his foaming lips trembled with rage; he sank back powerless into his chair. Manuela hastened to him, stretched her bare arms towards him, and prayed him to be quiet.

"O God, where shall I turn to!" she cried. "I saw my mistake, offered Don Antonio my hand, and prayed him to forget the words he had just spoken as readily as I, too, would forget them, that we might part in peace. He pressed my hand convulsively.

"You irritated me too much," he said, "Don Antonio de Valor was never ungrateful, and never permitted such an accusation to be made to his face. My child is mine, as much my own as my right hand; shall I cut it off, and give it you with thanks? I am angry no more, certainly not; be