Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/81

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59
FATHER AND SON.

"Señora," I said, "I have no right to penetrate the secrets of your heart; but I have a right, if you are in need of help, to offer it you, and you to demand it from me."

She told me afterwards that the earnest tone of my voice had given her more confidence in me than my chivalrous words could have done.

"Leave me alone, kind Caballero; my knight must be death alone," said she, in a voice in which tones of sorrowful refusal and timorous appeal combined in exquisite harmony. Oh, what an indescribable charm was in her whole appearance! I felt it, though in the twilight, and hidden by the carefully adjusted folds of her mantilla, I had seen little of her except her brilliant eyes.

An inexplicable thrill passed through me as I stood before her; I remained fast bound to her vicinity. It was more than mere pity, more than sympathy with unknown grief, that held me there; I did not know it was love, which reveals itself when we approach the being whom the Lord has created for us.

I talked longer with the maiden, or Manuela, as she was called. She excused herself for refusing my aid; I must not think ill of her; misfortune and grief had taught her mistrust of men. Tears choked her voice.

So grief was the companion of her youth also. Ah! the unhappy understand one another easily.