And in a while, supper being done, she brought my pipe, and filled it, and held the light for me. But my head throbbed woefully and for once the tobacco was flavorless; so I sighed, and laid the pipe by.
“Why, Peter!” said Charmian, regarding me with an anxious frown, “can’t you smoke?”
“Not just now, Charmian,” said I, and leaning my head in my hands, fell into a sort of coma, till, feeling her touch upon my shoulder, I started, and looked up.
“You must go to bed, Peter.”
“No,” said I.
“Very well, Charmian, yes—I will go to bed,” and I rose.
“Do you feel better now, Peter?”
“Thank you, yes—much better.”
“Then why do you hold on to the chair?”
“I am still a little giddy—but it will pass.” And “Charmian —you forgive—”
“Yes—yes, don’t—don’t look at me like that, Peter—and—oh, good night!—foolish boy!”
“I am—twenty-five, Charmian!” But as she turned away I saw that there were tears in her eyes.
Dressed as I was, I lay down upon my bed, and, burying my head in the pillow, groaned, for my pain was very sore; indeed I was to feel the effects of George’s fist for many a day to come, and it seems to me now that much of the morbid imaginings, the nightly horrors, and black despair, that I endured in the time which immediately followed, was chiefly owing to that terrible blow upon the head.
OF THE OPENING OF THE DOOR, AND HOW CHARMIAN BLEW OUT THE LIGHT
He bestrode a powerful black charger, and his armor glittered through the green. And, as he rode beneath the leafy arches of the wood, he lifted up his voice, and sang, and the song was mournful, and of a plaintive seeming, and rang loud behind his visor-bars; therefore, as I sat beside the freshet, I hearkened to his song:
love I carke, and care,
For her love I droop, and dare,
For her love my bliss is bare.
And I wax wan!”
Forth he rode from the shadowy woodland, pacing very solemn and slow; and thrice he struck his iron hand upon his iron breast.
love, in sleep I slake,
For her love, all night I wake,
For her love, I mourning make
More than any man!”
Now, being come to where I sat beside the brook, he checked his horse, and gazed full long upon me, and his eyes shone from the gloom of his helmet.
“Messire,” quoth be; “how like you my song?”
“But little, sir—to be plain with you, not a whit,” I answered.
“And, beseech you—wherefore?”
“Because it is folly—away with it, for, if your head be full of such, how shall you achieve any lasting good—Glory, Learning, Power?” But, sighing, he shook his head; quoth he:
“O Blind One!—Glory is but a name, Learning but a yearning emptiness, and whither leadeth Ambition? Man is a mote dancing in a sun-ray—the world, a speck hanging in space. All things vanish and pass utterly away save only True-love, and that abideth everlastingly; ’tis sweeter than Life, and stronger than Death, and reacheth up beyond the stars; and thus it is I pray you tell me—where is she?”