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summer's day; but who knows when winter storms may rise, and often I
have thought that I was born to know wind and rain and lightning as well
as peace and sunshine. Remember that my father is a Jew, and that to the
Jews and their children terrible things chance at times. Why, all this
wealth might vanish in an hour, and you might find me in a prison, or
clad in rags begging my bread. Now do you swear?" and she held towards
him the gold crucifix that hung upon her bosom.
"Aye," he said, "I swear it by this holy token and by your lips," and he
kissed first the cross and then her mouth, adding, "Shall I ask the same
oath of you?"
"If you will; but it is not needful. Peter, I think that I know you too
well; I think that your heart will never stir even if I be dead and you
married to another. And yet men are men, and women have wiles, so I will
swear this: That should you slip, perchance, and I live to learn it, I
will try not to judge you harshly." And again she laughed, she who was
so certain of her empire over this man's heart and body.
"Thank you," said Peter; "but for my part I will try to stand straight
upon my feet, so should any tales be brought to you of me, sift them
well, I pray you."
Then, forgetting their doubts and dreads, they talked of their marriage,
which they fixed for that day month, and of how they would dwell happily
in Dedham Vale. Also Margaret, who well knew the house, named the Old
Hall, where they should live, for she had stayed there as a child, gave
him many commands as to the new arrangement of its chambers and its
furnishing, which, as there was money and to spare, could be as costly
as they willed, saying that she would send him down all things by wain
so soon as he was ready for them.
Thus, then, the hours wore away, until at length night came and they
took their last meal together, the three of them, for it was arranged
that Peter should start at moonrise, when none were about to see him go.
It was not a very happy meal, and, though they made a brave show of
eating, but little food passed their lips. Now the horses were ready,
and Margaret buckled on Peter's sword and threw his cloak about his
shoulders, and he, having shaken Castell by the hand and bade him guard
their jewel safely, without more words kissed her in farewell, and went.
Taking the silver lamp in her hand, she followed him to the ante-room.
At the door he turned and saw her standing there gazing after him with
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