At last then, you are come, John. I thought you had forgotten me. I could not make you understandthey have kept me prisoner every evening: but come into my house; you are in danger here.
Meanwhile I could not answer, being overcome with joy, but followed to her little grotto, where I had been twice before. I knew that the crowning moment of my life was comingthat Lorna would own her love for me.
She made for awhile as if she dreamed not of the meaning of my gaze, but tried to speak of other things, faltering now and then, and mantling with a richer damask below her long eyelashes.
This is not what I came to know, I whispered very softly, you know what I am come to ask.
If you are come on purpose to ask anything, why do you delay so? She turned away very bravely, but I saw that her lips were trembling.
I delay so long, because I fear; because my whole life hangs in balance on a single word; because what I have near me now may never more be near me after, though more than all the world, or than a thousand worlds, to me. As I spoke these words of passion in a low soft voice, Lorna trembled more and more; but she made no answer, neither yet looked up at me.
I have loved you long and long, I pursued, being reckless now, when you were a little child, as a boy I worshipped you: then when I saw you a comely girl, as a stripling I adored you: now that you are a full- grown maiden all the rest I do, and moreI love you more than tongue can tell, or heart can hold in silence. I have waited long and long; and though I am so far below you I can wait no longer; but must have my answer.
You have been very faithful, John, she murmured to the fern and moss; I suppose I must reward you.
That will not do for me, I said; I will not have reluctant liking, nor assent for pitys sake; which only means endurance. I must have all love, or none, I must have your heart of hearts; even as you have mine, Lorna.
While I spoke, she glanced up shyly through her fluttering lashes, to prolong my doubt one moment, for her own delicious pride. Then she opened wide upon me all the glorious depth and softness of her loving eyes, and flung both arms around my neck, and answered with her heart on mine,
Darling, you have won it all. I shall never be my own again. I am yours, my own one, for ever and for ever.
I am sure I know not what I did, or what I said thereafter, being overcome with transport by her words and at her gaze. Only one thing I remember, when she raised her bright lips to me, like a child, for me to kiss, such a smile of sweet temptation met me through her flowing hair, that I almost forgot my manners, giving her no time to breathe.
That will do, said Lorna gently, but violently blushing; for the present that will do, John. And now remember one thing, dear. All the kindness is to be on my side; and you are to be very distant, as behoves to a young maiden; except when I invite you. But you may kiss my hand, John; oh, yes, you may kiss my hand, you know. Ah to be sure! I had forgotten; how very stupid of me!
For by this time I had taken one sweet hand and gazed on it, with the pride of all the world to think that such a lovely thing was mine; and then I slipped my little ring upon the wedding finger; and this time Lorna kept it, and looked with fondness on its beauty, and clung to me with a flood of tears.
Every time you cry, said I, drawing her closer to me I shall consider it an invitation not to be too distant. There now, none shall make you weep. Darling, you shall sigh no more, but live in peace and happiness, with me to guard and cherish you: and who shall dare to vex you? But she drew a long sad sigh, and
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