“And I am a poor, old soldier—with only one arm, Priscilla.”
“You are the strongest, and gentlest, and bravest soldier in all the world, I think!” she answered.
“And you, Priscilla, are the sweetest, and most beautiful woman in the world, I know! And so—I’ve loved you all these years, and—never dared to tell you so, because of my—one arm.”
“Why then,” said Miss Priscilla, smiling up at him through her tears, “if you do—really—think that,—why,—it’s this finger, Sergeant!”
So the Sergeant, very clumsily, perhaps, because he had but the one hand, slipped the ring upon the finger in question. And Porges, Big, and Small, turning to glance back, as they went upon their way saw that he still held that small white hand pressed close to his lips.
Coming events cast their shadows before
“I s’pose they’ll be marrying each other, one of these fine days!” said Small Porges as they crossed the meadow, side by side.
“Yes, I expect so, Shipmate,” nodded Bellew, “and may they live long, and die happy, say I.”
“Aye, aye, Captain,—an’ Amen!” returned Small Porges.
Now as they went, conversing of marriage, and ships, and the wonders, and marvels of foreign lands,—they met with Adam who stared up at the sky and muttered to himself, and frowned, and shook his head.
“Good arternoon, Mr. Belloo sir,—an’ Master Georgy!”
“Well, Adam, how are the hops?”
“’Ops sir,—there never was such ’ops,—no, not in all Kent, sir. All I’m wishin’ is that they was all safe picked, an’ gathered. W’ot do you make o’ them clouds, sir,—over there,—jest over the p’int o’ the oast-house?”
Bellew turned, and cast a comprehensive, sailor-like glance in the direction indicated.
“Rain, Adam, and wind,—and plenty of it!” said he.
“Ah! so I think, sir,—driving storm, and thrashing tempest!”
“Well, sir,—p’raps you’ve never seen w’ot driving rain, an’ raging wind, can do among the ’op-bines, sir. All I wish is that they ’ops was all safe picked an’ gathered, sir!” And Adam strode off with his eye still turned heaven-ward, and shaking his head like some great bird of ill-omen.
So the afternoon wore away to evening, and with evening, came Anthea; but a very grave-eyed, troubled Anthea, who sat at the tea-table silent, and preoccupied,—in so much, that Small Porges openly wondered, while Miss Priscilla watched over her, wistful, and tender.
Thus, Tea, which was wont to be the merriest meal of the day, was but the pale ghost of what it should have been, despite Small Porges’ flow of conversation, (when not impeded by bread and jam), and Bellew’s tactful efforts. Now while he talked light-heartedly, keeping carefully to generalities, he noticed two things,—one was that Anthea made but a pretence at eating, and the second, that though she uttered a word, now and then, yet her eyes persistently avoided his.