Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/95

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73
FATHER AND SON.

"But I told you before that my love was not given to a child, but to a maiden with reason and will of her own."

"And who is that happy creature?" laughed Manuela. "I forgot to ask."

Then I swore I would no longer be put off with a jest; she must confess whether she knew her father's intentions or not.

"No," was the monosyllabic answer.

"And what have you determined to do, if your father—God forbid it—should refuse me?"

She answered in a decided voice, "Filial duty is above all others, but I will—" She could not finish, for Don Antonio called from his chamber, "What is that noise? What are you quarrelling about?"

"Don Alfonso will not believe that I was only fifteen a month ago."

"That you were already fifteen, say rather, my child, for the older the man is, the worse for him in this cursed land."

"Manuela is wrong," I said to Don Antonio as he came out; "she has misinformed you; she would not believe me when I said I should go away tomorrow."

"I am heartily sorry for that," said the old man; "I should like to have you always near me. Men get accustomed to new friends with difficulty when they are old, at least to friends of your age; but