near you, I declare, I wish what I never wished before, to be young again, merely in order to be wholly your friend."
"Would you not rather be my father?" I felt how the blood rushed to my face, I saw how violently Manuela blushed, as I said these words with difficulty.
"Go, child," said Don Antonio indifferently, " go and fetch me that book from our neighbor, which he has had so long."
Manuela went out.
"I am much indebted to you," Don Antonio then said to me," but it is not manly to clothe service and thanks in soft words; also, according to the rules of our religion, men should neither demand nor offer thanks, since in all our goings and comings we are but tools in the hand of God. I do not know whether that is why there is so much ingratitude in the world; but now, ask what you would have, you shall have it, except my child, my Manuela! I cannot do without her, she is as needful to my life as the air I breathe, and as long as I live she shall be no man's wife. Press it no further, spare yourself and me the bootless words." I was stunned, and could say nothing; tears stood in my eyes, I took my hat, and went out. Don Antonio called after me to return, but I did not turn round. Manuela met me on the steps; I hardly saw her, and hastened away.