had left its results plainly all through his mind and his
"His words opened a world of dismay before me. I was his only child, as he remarked, and it had been and was the desire of his heart to leave me as rich and independent a man as himself. But I seemed disposed to commit one of those acts against which he had the most determined prejudice; marriage between cousins being in his eyes an unsanctified and dangerous proceeding, liable to consequences the most unhappy. If I persisted, he must will his property elsewhere. The Blake estate should never descend with the seal of his approbation to a race of probable imbeciles.
"Nor was this enough. He not only robbed me of the woman I loved, but with a clear insight into the future, I presume, insisted upon my marrying some one else of respectability and worth before he died. 'Anyone whose appearance will do you credit and whose virtue is beyond reproach,' said he. 'I don't ask her to be rich or even the offspring of one of our old families. Let her be good and pure and of no connection to us, and I will bless her and you with my dying breath.'
"The idea had seized upon him with great force, and I soon saw he was not to be shaken out of it. To all my objections he returned but the one word,
"'I don't restrict your choice and I give you a month in which to make it. If at the end of that time you cannot bring your bride to my bedside, I must look around for an heir who will not thwart my dying wishes.'"
"A month! I surveyed the fashionable belles that nightly thronged the parlors of my friends and felt my heart sink within me. Take one of them for my wife, loving another woman? Impossible. Women like these demanded something in return for the honor they conferred upon a man by marrying him. Wealth? they had it. Position? that was theirs also. Consideration? ah, what consideration had I to give? I turned from them with distaste.
"My cousin Evelyn gave me no help. She was a proud woman and loved my money and my expectations as much as she did me.
"'If you must marry another woman to retain your wealth, marry, said she, 'but do not marry one of my associates. I will have no rival in my own empire; your wife must be a plainer and a less aspiring woman than Evelyn Blake. Yet do not discredit your name, --which is mine,' she would always add.
"Meanwhile the days flew by. If my own conscience had allowed me to forget the fact, my father's eagerly inquiring, but sternly unrelenting gaze as I came each evening to his bedside, would have kept it sufficiently in my mind. I began to feel like one in the power of some huge crushing machine whose slowly descending weight he in vain endeavors to escape.
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