That evening, when the distended udders had been duly despoiled, the lovers repaired to their trysting-place. They opened their eyes a bit to find the stools removed. They were tormented with a vague presentiment of evil, and stood for some minutes irresolute; then, assisted to a decision by their weakening knees, they seated themselves flat upon the ground. Deidrick stammered a weak proposal, and Katrina essayed an incoherent objection. But she trembled and became unintelligible; and when he attempted to throw in a few nods of generous approval they came in at the wrong places. With one accord they arose and sought their stools. Katrina tried it again. She succeeded in saying her father was over-young to marry, and Max Manglewurzzle would cry if she took care of him. Deidrick executed a reckless nod that made his neck snap, and was broad awake in a minute. A second time they arose. They conveyed the stools back to their primitive position, and began again. She remarked that her little brother was too old to require all her care, and Max would cry to marry her father. Deidrick addressed himself to sleep, but a horrid nightmare galloped rough-shod into his repose and set him off with a strangled snort. The good understanding between those two hearts was for ever dissipated; neither one knew if the other were afoot or on horseback. Like the sailor’s thirtieth stroke with the rope’s-end, it was perfectly disgusting! Their meetings after this were so embarrassing that they soon ceased meeting altogether. Katrina died soon after, a miserable broken-spirited maiden of sixty; and Deidrick drags out a wretched existence in a remote town, upon an income of eight silbergroschen a week.
Oh, friends and brethren, if you did but know how slight an act may sunder for ever the bonds of love—how easily one may wreck the peace of two faithful hearts—how almost without an effort the waters of affection may be changed to gall and bitterness—I suspect you would make even more more mischief than you do now.
* * * * *
Bladud was the eldest son of a British King (whose name I perfectly remember, but do not choose to write) temp. Solomon—who does not appear to have known Bladud, however. Bladud was, therefore, Prince of Wales. He was more than that: he was a leper—had it very bad, and the Court physician, Sir William Gull, frequently remarked that the Prince’s death was merely a question of time. When a man gets to that stage of leprosy he does not care much for society, particularly if no one will have anything to do with him. So Bladud bade a final adieu to the world, and settled in Liverpool. But not agreeing with the climate, he folded his tent into the shape of an Arab, as Longfellow says, and silently stole away to the southward, bringing up in Gloucestershire.