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Ralph broke silence by declaring she should not be taken away.
‘Who says so?’ cried Nicholas, rising from his knee and
confronting them, but still retaining Madeline’s lifeless hand in
‘I!’ answered Ralph, hoarsely.
‘Hush, hush!’ cried the terrified Gride, catching him by the arm
again. ‘Hear what he says.’
‘Ay!’ said Nicholas, extending his disengaged hand in the air,
‘hear what he says. That both your debts are paid in the one great
debt of nature. That the bond, due today at twelve, is now waste
paper. That your contemplated fraud shall be discovered yet. That
your schemes are known to man, and overthrown by Heaven.
Wretches, that he defies you both to do your worst.’
‘This man,’ said Ralph, in a voice scarcely intelligible, ‘this man
claims his wife, and he shall have her.’
‘That man claims what is not his, and he should not have her if
he were fifty men, with fifty more to back him,’ said Nicholas.
‘Who shall prevent him?’
‘By what right I should like to know,’ said Ralph. ‘By what right
‘By this right. That, knowing what I do, you dare not tempt me
further,’ said Nicholas, ‘and by this better right; that those I serve,
and with whom you would have done me base wrong and injury,
are her nearest and her dearest friends. In their name I bear her
hence. Give way!’
‘One word!’ cried Ralph, foaming at the mouth.
‘Not one,’ replied Nicholas, ‘I will not hear of one--save this.
Look to yourself, and heed this warning that I give you! Your day