All these proud thoughts rose within me as the lovely form of Lorna went inside, and was no more seen. And then I felt how coarse I was; how apt to think strong thoughts, and so on; without brains to bear me out: even as a hen’s egg, laid without enough of lime, and looking only a poor jelly.
Nevertheless, I waited on; as my usual manner is. For to be beaten, while running away, is ten times worse than to face it out, and take it, and have done with it. So at least I have always found, because of reproach of conscience: and all the things those clever people carried on inside, at large, made me long for our Parson Bowden that he might know how to act.
While I stored up, in my memory, enough to keep our parson going through six pipes on a Saturday night—to have it as right as could be next day—a lean man with a yellow beard, too thin for a good Catholic (which religion always fattens), came up to me, working sideways, in the manner of a female crab.
“This is not to my liking,” I said: “if aught thou hast, speak plainly; while they make that horrible noise inside.”
Nothing had this man to say; but with many sighs, because I was not of the proper faith, he took my reprobate hand to save me: and with several religious tears, looked up at me, and winked with one eye. Although the skin of my palms was thick, I felt a little suggestion there, as of a gentle leaf in spring, fearing to seem too forward. I paid the man, and he went happy; for the standard of heretical silver is purer than that of the Catholics.
Then I lifted up my little billet; and in that dark corner read it, with a strong rainbow of colours coming from the angled light. And in mine eyes there was enough to make rainbow of strongest sun, as my anger clouded off.
Not that it began so well; but that in my heart I knew (ere three lines were through me) that I was with all heart loved—and beyond that, who may need? The darling of my life went on, as if I were of her own rank, or even better than she was; and she dotted her “i"s, and crossed her “t"s, as if I were at least a schoolmaster. All of it was done in pencil; but as plain as plain could be. In my coffin it shall lie, with my ring and something else. Therefore will I not expose it to every man who buys this book, and haply thinks that he has bought me to the bottom of my heart. Enough for men of gentle birth (who never are inquisitive) that my love told me, in her letter, just to come and see her.
I ran away, and could not stop. To behold even her, at the moment, would have dashed my fancy’s joy. Yet my brain was so amiss, that I must do something. Therefore to the river Thames, with all speed, I hurried; and keeping all my best clothes on (indeed for sake of Lorna), into the quiet stream I leaped, and swam as far as London Bridge, and ate nobler dinner afterwards.