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"I can bear no more of this play," he said. "Mistress Margaret, I bid
you farewell. God go with you!" And he brushed past her.
"Peter," she said when he had gone a few yards, "would you have these
violets as a farewell gift?"
He turned and hesitated.
"Come, then, and take them."
So back he came, and with little trembling fingers she began to fasten
the flowers to his doublet, bending ever nearer as she fastened, until
her breath played upon his face, and her hair brushed his bonnet. Then,
it matters not how, once more the violets fell to earth, and she sighed,
and her hands fell also, and he put his strong arms round her and drew
her to him and kissed her again and yet again on the hair and eyes and
lips; nor did Margaret forbid him.
At length she thrust him from her and, taking him by the hand, led him
to the seat beneath the elms, and bade him sit at one end of it, while
she sat at the other.
"Peter," she whispered, "I wish to speak with you when I can get my
breath. Peter, you think poorly of me, do you not? No--be silent; it is
my turn to talk. You think that I am heartless, and have been playing
with you. Well, I only did it to make sure that you really do love me,
since, after that--accident of a while ago (when we were picking up the
violets, I mean), you would have been in honour bound to say it, would
you not? Well, now I am quite sure, so I will tell you something. I love
you many times as well as you love me, and have done so for quite as
long. Otherwise, should I not have married some other suitor, of whom
there have been plenty? Aye, and I will tell you this to my sin and
shame, that once I grew so angry with you because you would not speak or
give some little sign, that I went near to it. But at the last I could
not, and sent him about his business also. Peter, when I saw you last
night facing that swordsman with but a staff, and thought that you must
die, oh! then I knew all the truth, and my heart was nigh to bursting,
as, had you died, it would have burst. But now it is all done with, and
we know each other's secret, and nothing shall ever part us more till
death comes to one or both."
Thus Margaret spoke, while he drank in her words as desert sands,
parched by years of drought, drink in the rain--and watched her face,
out of which all mischief and mockery had departed, leaving it that of a
most beauteous and most earnest woman, to whom a sense of the weight of
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