Read CHAPTER XXVI - “Her Knight Proved True” of My Brave and Gallant Gentleman, free online book, by Robert Watson, on ReadCentral.com.

I was leaning idly against a post on my front veranda, watching the sun dancing and scintillating on the sea; listening the while to the birds in the woods behind me as they quarrelled and fought over the choosing of their lady-loves for the coming spring.

I was thinking of how the time had flown and of the many things that had happened since first I set foot in Golden Crescent, not so much as a short year ago.

Already a month had slipped by since I had wished good-bye to little Rita, happy, merry, little, laughing Rita, and her great, handsome giant of a husband, Joe; holding the end of the rope ladder for them, from my rowing boat, as they clambered aboard the Siwash, at the start of their six months’ honeymoon trip of pleasure and sight-seeing.

What an itinerary that big, boyish fellow had arranged for the sweet, little woman he had won! Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, all the big cities in the States right through to New York, then back again over the Great Lakes, across the Western Prairies, up over the Rockies and home: home to the pretty bungalow that was already well on the way toward completion, out there on the promontory just below their grand-dad’s place.

A warning toot from the Cloochman awoke me from my reveries. I ran to my small boat and pulled out as she came speeding into the Bay.

There was little cargo, and less mail one single letter. But what a wonder of wonders that letter was! It was for me, and, oh! how my heart beat! It was in the handwriting I had seen only a few months before but had learned to know so well.

I tore the envelope into pieces in my haste to be at the contents.

Dear George, it ran,

Reta and Joe (Mr. & Mrs. Clark) called to see me. If you only could see the happiness of them, how you would rejoice! knowing that you had brought it all about.

Every day from now, look for me at the little cottage across the rustic bridge; for, some day, I shall be there. Golden Crescent is ever in my thoughts.

Good-bye for the present, my brave and very gallant gentleman.

Mary.

In my little rowing boat, out there in the Bay, I cried to God in thankfulness for all his goodness.

Every day I looked across to Mary’s bungalow, wondering if this would be the day.

I was loth to sleep, lest she should arrive without my knowing of it. I could hardly bear to leave home for even an hour in case she should come when I was away. And yet, so it happened.

Late one afternoon, I was standing on Clark’s veranda, chatting with Margaret over a letter that had arrived from Rita; when I noticed a fast-moving launch dart into the Bay full speed, straight for my landing, lower a dinghy, land some people, then turn and speed out again almost before my brain could grasp the full purport.

I dashed suddenly away from my old lady friend, without so much as a word of explanation. I tumbled into my boat and rowed furiously for home. How I railed at that long half-hour! To think of it, Mary in Golden Crescent half-an-hour and I had not yet spoken to her!

I jumped ashore at last, ran up the rocks and into her house without ceremony.

“Mary, Mary!” I called. “Where are you?”

And all I heard in answer, was a sigh.

I pushed in to the front parlour, where Mary, my Mary, was. She was standing by the window and had been gazing dreamily out into the Bay. She turned to me in all the charm of her golden loveliness, holding out her hands to me in silent welcome.

I took her hands in mine and we looked into each other’s eyes for just a moment, then I caught her to me and crushed her in my embrace.

“Mary, Mary, Mary!” I cried brokenly. “Mary, Mary!”

Gently and shyly, but smiling in her gladness, she freed herself from my enfolding arms.

“George, sit down, dear. I have much to tell you before before ”

A blush spread over her cheeks and she turned away in embarrassment.

“ Before what, Mary?” I craved.

“Before I can listen to you.

“George! I love you with all my heart. I have always loved you, I could not help myself. That, I think, is why I quarrelled with you so, at first. But I was afraid that my loving would avail me little and would probably cause you pain, for I was pledged to marry a man I did not love; and, because of that pledge, I was not free to give my love to any other man.

“George! that man is dead now. He died a month ago in a street riot with some natives in Cairo.

“All his sins are covered up with him,” she sighed. “And, after all, maybe Harry Brammerton was not ”

“Harry Brammerton! ” I cried, springing up in a tremble of excitement. “My God! Oh, my God! I thought, I, I understood, I I oh, God!”

I clutched at the table for support as the awful truth began to dawn on me.

Mary rose in alarm.

“Why! What is it? What have I said? George, didn’t you know? Didn’t I tell you before? You have heard of him? you are acquainted with him, Viscount Harry Brammerton ”

“Oh! Mary, Mary,” I cried huskily, “please, please do not go on. It is more than I can bear now.

“I didn’t know. I, I am that man’s brother. I am George Brammerton.”

She stood ever so quietly.

“You! You!” she whispered. And that was all.

Thus we stood, stricken, speechless, under the cloud of the unexpected, the almost impossible that had come upon us.

Yet Mary, or rather Rosemary, was the first to regain her composure. Kindly, sweetly, she came over to me and placed her hands on my shoulders. Her brown eyes were wells of sympathy and tenderness.

“George, we each must fight this out alone. Come back to me in the morning. I shall be waiting for you then.”

And I left her.

But it seemed to me as if the morning would never come.

Unable to bear the burden of my thoughts longer amid the confines of my rooms, I went out at last into the moonlight, to wait the coming of the dawn.

As I stood out on the cliffs, where old Jake Meaghan so often used to sit listening to Mary’s music, she came to me; fairylike, white-robed, all tenderness, all softness and palpitating womanliness.

“George, my George,” she whispered, “I could not wait till morning either. And why should we wait, when my father’s and your father’s pledge, the vow they made for you and for me, although we have not known it till now, need not be broken after all.”

I caught her up and kissed her lips, her eyes, her hair, again and again, until she gasped, thinking I should never cease.

With our arms around each other, we waited on the cliffs for the sunrise. We watched it come up in all its rosy loveliness, paling the dying moon and setting the waters of the Bay ablaze.

“And we must leave all this, my Lady Rosemary?” I said, with a sigh of regret.

“For a time, yes! But not altogether, George; not always; for the little bungalow behind us is mine now, ours; a gift last Christmas to me from my father’s dear American friend, my friend, Colonel Sol Dorry, with whom, in Wyoming, I spent the happiest of all my girlhood days.”

“Mary, Rosemary,” I exclaimed, as an unsatisfied little thought kept recurring to me, refusing to be set aside even in the midst of our great happiness, “there is a little maid ‘in the North Countree’ in whom I am deeply interested. The last I heard of her, she had been jilted by her lover. Didn’t he ever come back to her?”

Rosemary laughed.

“It is getting near to breakfast-time; so, if George, Earl of Brammerton and Hazelmere, Storekeeper at Golden Crescent, runs over home and listens very attentively while he is burning his porridge and boiling his tea, he may hear of what happened to that sweet, little maid.”

And, sure enough, as I stood, with my sleeves rolled up, stirring oatmeal and water that threatened every minute to stick to the bottom of the pot; there came through my open window the sounds of the bewitching voice of Rosemary, my own, my charming Lady Rosemary:

A maid there is in the North Countree;
A coy little, glad little maid is she.
Her cheeks are aglow with a rosy hue,
For her knight proved true, as good knights should be.
And, day by day, as their vows renew,
Her spinning wheel purrs and the threads weave through;
It purrs. It purrs. It purrs and the threads weave through.