So much was rushing on her mind, that her maidenly heart became unruly, and warned her to beware.
The youth stood as if listening to a nightingale of the old woods, after the first sweet stress of her voice was in his ear. When she ceased, he gazed into her eyes. They were no longer deep and calm like forest lakes; the tender-glowing blue quivered, as with a spark of the young girl’s soul, in the beams of the moon then rising.
‘Oh, Margarita!’ said the youth, in tones that sank to sighs: ’what am I to win your thanks, though it were my life for such a boon!’
He took her hand, and she did not withdraw it. Twice his lips dwelt upon those pure fingers.
’Margarita: you forgive me: I have been so long without hope. I have kissed your hand, dearest of God’s angels!’
She gently restrained the full white hand in his pressure.
’Margarita! I have thought never before death to have had this sacred bliss. I am guerdoned in advance for every grief coming before death.’
She dropped on him one look of a confiding softness that was to the youth like the opened gate of the innocent garden of her heart.
’You pardon me, Margarita? I may call you my beloved? strive, wait, pray, hope, for you, my star of life?’
Her face was so sweet a charity!
’Dear love! one word!—or say nothing, but remain, and move not. So beautiful you are! Oh, might I kneel to you here; dote on you; worship this white hand for ever.’
The colour had passed out of her cheeks like a blissful western red leaving rich paleness in the sky; and with her clear brows levelled at him, her bosom lifting more and more rapidly, she struggled against the charm that was on her, and at last released her hand.
’I must go. I cannot stay. Pardon you? Who might not be proud of your love!—Farewell!’
She turned to move away, but lingered a step from him, hastily touching her bosom and either hand, as if to feel for a brooch or a ring. Then she blushed, drew the silver arrow from the gathered gold-shot braids above her neck, held it out to him, and was gone.
Farina clutched the treasure, and reeled into the street. Half a dozen neighbours were grouped by the door.
’What ‘s the matter in Master Groschen’s house now?’ one asked, as he plunged into the midst of them.
‘Matter?’ quoth the joy-drunken youth, catching at the word, and mused off into raptures; ’There never was such happiness! ’Tis paradise within, exile without. But what exile! A star ever in the heavens to lighten the road and cheer the path of the banished one’; and he loosened his vest and hugged the cold shaft on his breast.
‘What are you talking and capering at, fellow?’ exclaimed another: ’Can’t you answer about those shrieks, like a Christian, you that have just come out of the house? Why, there’s shrieking now! It ’s a woman. Thousand thunders! it sounds like the Frau Lisbeth’s voice. What can be happening to her?’