“Charmian,” said I; “oh, Charmian!” And so, with her tender arms about me, and her kisses on my lips, the mist settled down upon me, thicker and darker than ever.
IN WHICH THIS HISTORY IS ENDED
A bright room, luxuriously appointed; a great wide bed with carved posts and embroidered canopy; between the curtained windows, a tall oak press with grotesque heads carved thereon, heads that leered and gaped and scowled at me. But the bed and the room and the oak press were all familiar, and the grotesque heads had leered and gaped and frowned at me before, and haunted my boyish dreams many and many a night.
And now I lay between sleeping and waking, staring dreamily at all these things, till roused by a voice near by, and starting up, broad awake, beheld Sir Richard.
“Deuce take you, Peter!” he exclaimed; “I say—the devil fly away with you, my boy!—curse me!—a nice pickle you’ve made of yourself, with your infernal Revolutionary notions—your digging and blacksmithing, your walking-tours—”
“Where is she, Sir Richard?” I broke in; “pray, where is she?”
“She?” he returned, scratching his chin with the corner of a letter he held; “she?”
“She whom I saw last night—”
“You were asleep last night, and the night before.”
“Asleep?—then how long have I been here?”
“Three days, Peter.”
“And where is she—surely I have not dreamed it all—where is Charmian?”
“She went away—this morning.”
“Gad, Peter!—how should I know?” But, seeing the distress in my face, he smiled, and tendered me the letter. “She left this ’For Peter, when he awoke’—and I’ve been waiting for Peter to wake all the morning.”
Hastily I broke the seal, and, unfolding the paper with tremulous hands read:
“Dearest, noblest, and most disbelieving of Peters, —Oh, did you think you could hide your hateful suspicion from me—from me who know you so well? I felt it in your kiss, in the touch of your strong hand, I saw it in your eyes. Even when I told you the truth, and begged you to believe me, even then, deep down in your heart you thought it was my hand that had killed Sir Maurice, and God only knows the despair that filled me as I turned and left you.
“And so, Peter—perhaps to punish you a little, perhaps because I cannot bear the noisy world just yet, perhaps because I fear you a little—I have run away. But I remember also how, believing me guilty, you loved me still, and gave yourself up, to shield me, and, dying of hunger and fatigue—came to find me. And so, Peter, I have not run so very far, nor hidden myself so very close, and if you understand me as you should your search need not be so very long. And dear, dear Peter, there is just one other thing, which I hoped that you would guess, which any other would have guessed, but which, being a philosopher, you never did guess. Oh, Peter—I was once, very long ago it seems, Sophia Charmian Sefton, but I am now, and always was, Your Humble Person,