“And then—and then, Charles?”
“You were my blessing, as you have ever been—as you are, and as you will ever be—my own Flora, my beautiful—my true!”
We won’t go so far as to say it is the fact; but, from a series of singular sounds which reached even to the passage of the cottage, we have our own private opinion to the effect, that Charles began kissing Flora at the top of her forehead, and never stopped, somehow or another, till he got down to her chin—no, not her chin—her sweet lips—he could not get past them. Perhaps it was wrong; but we can’t help it—we are faithful chroniclers. Reader, if you be of the sterner sex, what would you have done?—if of the gentler, what would you have permitted?
MUTUAL EXPLANATIONS, AND THE VISIT TO THE RUINS.
During the next hour, Charles informed Flora of the whole particulars of his forcible abduction; and to his surprise he heard, of course, for the first time, of those letters, purporting to be written by him, which endeavoured to give so bad an aspect to the fact of his sudden disappearance from Bannerworth Hall.
Flora would insist upon the admiral, Henry, and the rest of the family, hearing all that Charles had to relate concerning Mr. Marchdale; for well she knew that her mother, from early associations, was so far impressed in the favour of that hypocritical personage, that nothing but damning facts, much to his prejudice, would suffice to convince her of the character he really was.
But she was open to conviction, and when she really found what a villain she had cherished and given her confidence to, she shed abundance of tears, and blamed herself exceedingly as the cause of some of the misfortunes which had fallen upon her children.
“Very good,” said the admiral; “I ain’t surprised a bit. I knew he was a vagabond from the first time I clapped eyes upon him. There was a down look about the fellow’s figure-head that I didn’t like, and be hanged to him, but I never thought he would have gone the length he has done. And so you say you’ve got him safe in the ruins, Charles?”
“I have, indeed, uncle.”
“And then there let him remain, and a good place, too, for him.”
“No, uncle, no. I’m sure you speak without thought. I intend to release him in a few hours, when I have rested from my fatigues. He could not come to any harm if he were to go without food entirely for the time that I leave him; but even that he will not do, for there is bread and water in the dungeon.”
“Bread and water! that’s too good for him. But, however, Charles, when you go to let him out, I’ll go with you, just to tell him what I think of him, the vagabond.”
“He must suffer amazingly, for no doubt knowing well, as he does, his own infamous intentions, he will consider that if I were to leave him to starve to death, I should be but retailing upon him the injuries he would have inflicted upon me.”