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"'Father, I bring you my bride,' were my first words to him as the door closed behind us shutting us in with the dread, invisible Presence that for so long a time had been relentlessly advancing upon our home.
"I shall never forget how he roused himself in his bed, nor with what eager eyes he read her young face and surveyed her slight form swaying towards him in her sudden emotion like a flame in a breeze. Nor while I live shall I lose sight of the spasm of uncontrollable joy with which he lifted his aged arms towards her, nor the look with which she sprang from my side and nestled, yes nestled, on the breast that never to my remembrance had opened itself to me even in the years of my earliest childhood. For my father was a stern man who believed in holding love at arm's length and measured affection by the depth of awe it inspired.
"'My daughter!' broke from his lips, and he never inquired who she was or what; no, not even when after a moment of silence she raised her head and with a sudden low cry of passionate longing looked in his face and murmured,
"Sirs, it is impossible for me to continue without revealing depths of pride and bitterness in my own nature, from which I now shrink with unspeakable pain. So far from being touched by this scene, I felt myself grow hard under it. If he had been disappointed in my choice, queried at it or even been simply pleased at my obedience, I might have accepted the wife I had won, and been tolerably grateful. But to love her, admire her, glory in her when Evelyn Blake had never succeeded in winning a glance from his eyes that was not a public disapprobation! I could not endure it; my whole being rebelled, and a movement like hate took possession of me.
"Bidding my wife to leave me with my father alone, I scarcely waited for the door to close upon the poor young thing before all that had been seething in my breast for a month, burst from me in the one cry,
"'I have brought you a daughter as you commanded me. Now give me the blessing you promised and let me go; for I cannot live with a woman I do not love.'
"Instantly, and before his lips could move, the door opened and the woman I thus repudiated in the first dawning hour of her young bliss, stood before us. My God! what a face! When I think of it now in the night season--when from dreams that gloomy as they are, are often elysian to the thoughts which beset me in my waking hours, I suddenly arouse to see starting upon me from the surrounding shadows that young fair brow with its halo of golden tresses, blotted, ay blotted by the agony that turned her that instant into stone, I wonder I did not take out the pistol that lay in the table near which I stood, and shoot her lifeless on the spot as some sort of a compensation for the misery I had caused her. I say I wonder now: then I only thought of braving it out.
"Straight as a dart, but with that look on her face, she came towards us. 'Did I hear aright?' were the words that came from her lips. 'Have you married me, a woman beneath your station as I now perceive, because you were commanded to do so? Have you not loved me? given me that which alone makes marriage a sacrament or even a possibility? and must you leave this house made sacred by the recumbent form of your dying father if I remain within it?'
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