“To-morrow,” said I, clenching my fists, “to-morrow I will go away!”
Being now come to the Hollow, I turned aside to the brook, at that place where was the pool in which I was wont to perform my morning ablutions; and, kneeling down, I gazed at myself in the dark, still water; and I saw that the night had, indeed, set its mark upon me.
“To-morrow,” said I again, nodding to the wild face below, “to-morrow I will go far hence.”
Now while I yet gazed at myself, I heard a sudden gasp behind me and, turning, beheld Charmian.
“Peter! is it you?” she whispered, drawing back from me.
“Who else, Charmian? Did I startle you?”
“Are you afraid of me?”
“You are like one who has walked with—death!”
I rose to my feet, and stood looking down at her. “Are you afraid of me, Charmian?”
“I am glad of that,” said I, “because I want to ask you—to marry me, Charmian.”
IN WHICH CHARMIAN ANSWERS MY QUESTION
“I wish you wouldn’t.”
“Wouldn’t what, Charmian?”
“Stir your tea round and round and round—it is really most —exasperating!”
“I beg your pardon!” said I humbly.
“And you eat nothing; and that is also exasperating!”
“I am not hungry.”
“And I was so careful with the bacon—see it is fried —beautifully—yes, you are very exasperating, Peter!”
Here, finding I was absent-mindedly stirring my tea round and round again, I gulped it down out of the way, whereupon Charmian took my cup and refilled it; having done which, she set her elbows upon the table, and, propping her chin in her hands, looked at me.
“You climbed out through your window last night, Peter?”
“It must have been a—dreadfully tight squeeze!”
“And why did you go by the window?”
“I did not wish to disturb you.”
“That was very thoughtful of you—only, you see, I was up and dressed; the roar of the thunder woke me. It was a dreadful storm, Peter!”
“The lightning was awful!”
“And you were out in it?”
“Oh, you poor, poor Peter! How cold you must have been!”