She took those thin fingers between her two little hands—she bent her head ‘et les effleura de ses lèvres’ (I put that in French, because the word ‘effleurer’ is an exquisite word). Moore was much moved: a large tear or two coursed down his hollow cheek.

‘I’ll keep these things in my heart, Cary; that kiss I will put by, and you shall hear of it again some day.’

‘Come out!’ cried Martin, opening the door. ‘Come away—you have had twenty minutes instead of a quarter of an hour.’

‘She will not stir yet—you hempseed.’

‘I dare not stay longer, Robert.’

‘Can you promise to return?’

‘No, she can’t,’ responded Martin. ‘The thing mustn’t become customary: I can’t be troubled. It’s very well for once; I’ll not have it repeated.’

You’ll not have it repeated?’

‘Hush! don’t vex him—we could not have met today but for him; but I will come again, if it is your wish that I should come.’

‘It is my wish—my one wish—almost the only wish I can feel.’

‘Come this minute; my mother has coughed, got up, set her feet on the floor. Let her only catch you on the stairs, Miss Caroline; you’re not to bid him good-bye’ (stepping between her and Moore)—‘you are to march.’

‘My shawl, Martin.’

‘I have it. I’ll put it on for you when you are in the hall.’

He made them part; he would suffer no farewell but what could be expressed in looks; he half carried Caroline down the stairs. In the hall he wrapped her shawl round her, and—but that his mother’s tread then creaked in the gallery, and but that a sentiment of diffidence—the proper, natural, therefore the noble impulse of his boyish heart, held him back, he would have claimed his reward—he would have said, ‘Now, Miss Caroline, for all this give me one kiss.’ But ere the words had passed his lips, she was across the snowy road, rather skimming than wading the drifts.

‘She is my debtor, and I will be paid.’

He flattered himself that it was opportunity, not audacity, which had failed him; he misjudged the quality of his own nature, and held it for something lower than it was.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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