“Because—he is neither fierce nor wild nor masterful!”
“Because he is neither fierce nor wild,” she echoed.
“Nor masterful!” said I.
“Nor masterful!” said Charmian, with averted head. So I opened the door, but, even then, must needs turn back again.
“Do you think I am so very—different—from him?”
“As different as day from night, as the lamb from the wolf,” said she, without looking at me. “Good night, Peter!”
“Good night!” said I, and so, going into my room, I closed the door behind me.
“A lamb!” said I, tearing off my neckcloth, and sat, for some time listening to her footstep and the soft rustle of her petticoats going to and fro.
“A lamb!” said I again, and slowly drew off my coat. As I did so, a little cambric handkerchief fell to the floor, and I kicked it, forthwith, into a corner.
“A lamb!” said I, for the third time, but, at this moment, came a light tap upon the door.
“Yes?” said I, without moving.
“Oh, how is your injured thumb?”
“Thank you, it is as well as can be expected.”
“Does it pain you very much?”
“It is not unbearable!” said I.
“Good night, Peter!” and I heard her move away. But presently she was back again.
“Are you frowning?”
“I—I think I was—why?”
“When you frown, you are very like—him, and have the same square set of the mouth and chin, when you are angry—so don’t, please don’t frown, Peter—Good night!”
“Good night, Charmian!” said I, and stooping, I picked up the little handkerchief and thrust it under my pillow.
I AM SUSPECTED OF THE BLACK ART
The word had been uttered close behind me, and very softly, yet I started at this sudden mention of my name and stood for a moment with my hammer poised above the anvil ere I turned and faced the speaker. He was a tall man with a stubbly growth of grizzled hair about his lank jaws, and he was leaning in at that window of the smithy which gave upon a certain grassy back lane.
“You spoke, I think!” said I.
“I said, ’Vibart’!”
“And why should you say ’Vibart’?”
“And why should you start?” Beneath the broad, flapping hat his eyes glowed with a sudden intensity as he waited my answer.
“It is familiar,” said I.
“Ha! familiar?” he repeated, and his features were suddenly contorted as with a strong convulsion, and his teeth gleamed between his pallid lips.
My hammer was yet in my grasp, and, as I met this baleful look, my fingers tightened instinctively about the shaft.
“Familiar?” said he again.
“Yes,” I nodded; “like your face, for it would almost seem that I have seen you somewhere before, and I seldom forget faces.”