“She was only an impalpable shade quite impossible of realization—a bloodless thing, as you said, and quite unnatural —a sickly figment of the imagination. I was a fool!”
“And you are—too wise now, to expect—such virtues—in any woman?”
“Yes,” said I; “no—oh, Charmian! I only know that you have taken this phantom’s place—that you fill all my thoughts —sleeping, and waking—”
“No! No!” she cried, and struggled in my arms, so that I caught her hands, and held them close, and kissed them many times.
“Oh, Charmian! Charmian!—don’t you know—can’t you see—it is you I want—you, and only you forever; whatever you were —whatever you are—I love you—love you, and always must! Marry me, Charmian!—marry me! and you shall be dearer than my life—more to me than my soul—” But, as I spoke, her hands were snatched away, her eyes blazed into mine, and her lips were all bitter scorn, and at the sight, fear came upon me.
“Marry you!” she panted; “marry you?—no and no and no!” And so she stamped her foot, and sobbed, and turning, fled from me, out of the cottage.
And now to fear came wonder, and with wonder was despair.
Truly, was ever man so great a fool!
CONCERNING THE FATE OF BLACK GEORGE
A broad, white road; on either hand some half-dozen cottages with roofs of thatch or red tile, backed by trees gnarled and ancient, among which rises the red conical roof of some oast-house. Such, in a word, is Sissinghurst.
Now, upon the left-hand side of the way, there stands a square, comfortable, whitewashed building, peaked of roof, bright as to windows, and with a mighty sign before the door, whereon you shall behold the picture of a bull: a bull rolling of eye, astonishingly curly of horn and stiff as to tail, and with a prodigious girth of neck and shoulder; such a snorting, fiery-eyed, curly-horned bull as was never seen off an inn-sign.
It was at this bull that I was staring with much apparent interest, though indeed, had that same curly-horned monstrosity been changed by some enchanter’s wand into a green dragon or griffin, or swan with two necks, the chances are that I should have continued sublimely unconscious of the transformation.
Yet how should honest Silas Hoskins, ostler, and general factotum of “The Bull” inn, be aware of this fact, who, being thus early at work, and seeing me lost in contemplation, paused to address me in all good faith?
“A fine bull ’e be, eh, Peter? Look at them ‘orns, an’ that theer tail; it’s seldom as you sees ‘orns or a tail the like o’ them, eh?”
“Very seldom!” I answered, and sighed.