`The moment you do, our intimacy is at an end, that's all.'
`And will you always call me Gilbert?--it sounds more sisterly, and it will serve to remind me of our contract.'
She smiled, and once more bid me go,--and, at length, I judged it prudent to obey; and she re-entered the house, and I went down the hill. But as I went, the tramp of horses' hoofs fell on my ear, and broke the stillness of the dewy evening; and, looking towards the lane, I saw a solitary equestrian coming up. Inclining to dusk as it was, I knew him at a glance: it was Mr Lawrence on his grey pony. I flew across the field--leaped the stone fence--and then walked down the lane to meet him. On seeing me, he suddenly drew in his little steed, and seemed inclined to turn back, but on second thought, apparently judged it better to continue his course as before. He accosted me with a slight bow, and, edging close to the wall, endeavoured to pass on--but I was not so minded: seizing his horse by the bridle, I exclaimed:--
`Now, Lawrence, I will have this mystery explained! Tell me where you are going, and what you mean to do--at once, and distinctly!'
`Will you take your hand off the bridle?' said he, quietly--`you're hurting my pony's mouth.'
`You and your pony be--'
`What makes you so coarse and brutal, Markham? I'm quite ashamed of you.'
`You answer my questions--before you leave this spot! I will know what you mean by this perfidious duplicity?'
`I shall answer no questions till you let go the bridle,--if you stand till morning.'
`Now then,' said I, unclosing my hand, but still standing before him.
`Ask me some other time, when you can speak like a gentleman,' returned he, and he made an effort to pass me again; but I quickly recaptured the pony, scarce less astonished than its master at such uncivil usage.
`Really, Mr Markham, this is too much!' said the latter. `Can I not go to see my tenant on matters of business, without being assaulted in this manner by--'
`This is no time for business, sir!--I'll tell you, now, what I think of your Conduct.'
`You'd better defer your opinion to a more convenient season,' interrupted he, in a low tone--`here's the vicar.'
And in truth, the vicar was just behind me, plodding homeward from some remote corner of his parish. I immediately released the squire; and he went on his way, saluting Mr Millward as he passed.
`What, quarrelling, Markham?' cried the latter, addressing himself to me,--`and about that young widow I doubt,' he added, reproachfully shaking his head. `But let me tell you, young man (here he put his face into mine with an important, confidential air), `the's not worth it!' and he confirmed the assertion by a solemn nod.
`Mr MILLWARD!' I exclaimed, in a tone of wrathful menace that made the reverend gentleman look round-- aghast--astounded at such unwonted insolence, and stare me in the face, with a look that plainly said: `What, this to me!' But I was too indignant to apologize, or to speak another word to him: I turned away, and hastened homewards, descending with rapid strides the steep, rough lane, and leaving him to follow as he pleased.
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