And what a meal was that! with those deft, whitecapped maids to wait upon our wants, and with Prudence hovering here and there to see that all were duly served, and refusing to sit down until George’s great arm—a very gentle arm for one so strong and big —drew her down beside him.
Yes, truly, what a meal that was, and how the Ancient chuckled, and dug me with one bony elbow and George with the other, and chuckled again till he choked, and choked till he gasped, and gasped till he had us all upon our feet, then demanded indignantly why we couldn’t let him “enj’y hisself in peace.”
And now, when the meal was nearly over, he suddenly took it into his head that Prue didn’t love George as she should and as he deserved to be, and nothing would content him but that she must kiss him then and there.
“An’ not on the forr’ud, mind—nor on the cheek, but on the place as God made for it—the mouth, my lass!”
And now, who so shy and blushing as Prue, and who so nervous, for her sake, as Black George, very evidently clasping her hand under the table, and bidding her never to mind—as he was content, and never to put herself out over such as him. Whereupon Mistress Prue must needs turn, and taking his bead between her hands, kissed him—not once, or twice, but three times, and upon “the place God made for it—the mouth.”
O gleaming Cutlasses! O great Brass Jack and glittering Pots and Pans! can ye any longer gleam and glitter and twinkle in doubt? Alas! I trow not. Therefore it is only natural and to be expected that beneath your outward polish lurk black and bitter feelings against this curly-headed giant, and a bloodthirsty desire for vengeance. If so, then one and all of you have, at least, the good feeling not to show it, a behavior worthy of gentlemen—what do I say?—of gentlemen?—fie! rather let it be said—of pots and pans.
It is a wise and (to some extent) a true saying, that hard work is an antidote to sorrow, a panacea for all trouble; but when the labor is over and done, when the tools are set by, and the weary worker goes forth into the quiet evening—how then? For we cannot always work, and, sooner or later, comes the still hour when Memory rushes in upon us again, and Sorrow and Remorse sit, dark and gloomy, on either hand.
A week dragged by, a season of alternate hope and black despair, a restless fever of nights and days, for with each dawn came hope, that lived awhile beside me, only to fly away with the sun, and leave me to despair.
I hungered for the sound of Charmian’s voice, for the quick, light fall of her foot, for the least touch of her hand. I became more and more possessed of a morbid fancy that she might be existing near by—could I but find her; that she had passed along the road only a little while before me, or, at this very moment, might be approaching, might be within sight, were I but quick enough.