Therefore it came to pass, that we saw fit to enter Sir Ensor’s room in the following manner. Lorna, with her right hand swallowed entirely by the palm of mine, and her waist retired from view by means of my left arm. All one side of her hair came down, in a way to be remembered, upon the left and fairest part of my favourite otter-skin waistcoat; and her head as well would have lain there doubtless, but for the danger of walking so. I, for my part, was too far gone to lag behind in the matter; but carried my love bravely, fearing neither death nor hell, while she abode beside me.

Old Sir Ensor looked much astonished. For forty years he had been obeyed and feared by all around him; and he knew that I had feared him vastly, before I got hold of Lorna. And indeed I was still afraid of him; only for loving Lorna so, and having to protect her.

Then I made him a bow, to the very best of all I had learned both at Tiverton and in London; after that I waited for him to begin, as became his age and rank in life.

‘Ye two fools!’ he said at last, with a depth of contempt which no words may express; ‘ye two fools!’

‘May it please your worship,’ I answered softly; ‘maybe we are not such fools as we look. But though we be, we are well content, so long as we may be two fools together.’

‘Why, John,’ said the old man, with a spark, as of smiling in his eyes; ‘thou art not altogether the clumsy yokel, and the clod, I took thee for.’

‘Oh, no, grandfather; oh, dear grandfather,’ cried Lorna, with such zeal and flashing, that her hands went forward; ‘nobody knows what John Ridd is, because he is so modest. I mean, nobody except me, dear.’ And here she turned to me again, and rose upon tiptoe, and kissed me.

‘I have seen a little o’ the world,’ said the old man, while I was half ashamed, although so proud of Lorna; ‘but this is beyond all I have seen, and nearly all I have heard of. It is more fit for southern climates than for the fogs of Exmoor.’

‘It is fit for all the world, your worship; with your honour’s good leave, and will,’ I answered in humility, being still ashamed of it; ‘when it happens so to people, there is nothing that can stop it, sir.’

Now Sir Ensor Doone was leaning back upon his brown chair-rail, which was built like a triangle, as in old farmhouses (from one of which it had come, no doubt, free from expense or gratitude); and as I spoke he coughed a little; and he sighed a good deal more; and perhaps his dying heart desired to open time again, with such a lift of warmth and hope as he descried in our eyes, and arms. I could not understand him then; any more than a baby playing with his grandfather’s spectacles; nevertheless I wondered whether, at his time of life, or rather on the brink of death, he was thinking of his youth and pride.

‘Fools you are; be fools for ever,’ said Sir Ensor Doone, at last; while we feared to break his thoughts, but let each other know our own, with little ways of pressure; ‘it is the best thing I can wish you; boy and girl, be boy and girl, until you have grandchildren.’

Partly in bitterness he spoke, and partly in pure weariness, and then he turned so as not to see us; and his white hair fell, like a shroud, around him.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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