A week passed. It was again the day of their meeting. Muriel was late. This time they agreed to meet in the captain’s house. Perenduin was standing at the gate, peering into darkness, waiting – it was already evening and the guards started to patrol the streets. What could take her so long? Was she into trouble because of my conversation with her father? “Fool! What have you done?!” The captain was getting restless, walking to and fro in front of the house. The streets were getting empty. Finally he saw a woman coming. He recognized Muriel. She hurried to him and stopped, unsure how to greet him. He took her by the hand and escorted her to the house. Entering the living room, she removed her cloak and in light from a fire-place Perenduin noticed that her eyes were red, with violet circles under them. Her face was pale.
“My lady, has something happened?” Perenduin put his arm around her shoulders but Muriel was not looking at him. Tears were running now down her cheeks, she hid her face in her hands. For the first time in his life the captain did not know what to do. He stood there feeling helpless and useless, looking at the woman he wanted to make happy – and she was crying…
“Muriel, dear, please tell me what is wrong!” He was trying now to make her look at him – this fountain of tears had to be stopped! She answered in a small voice: “My father… It is because of my father. Since he knows about us… I could hardly escape tonight, he forbade me to leave the palace”.
“I suspected it. He is not the man to negotiate with. It is my fault, please forgive me!” Perenduin knelt before her, kissing her hands.
“It is not you, Perenduin. It is him. We cannot be together – as long as he lives, Lord Arsael will be against it”.
“Muriel, I can’t live without you! There should be a way out!” The captain was marching now nervously across the room. “We must leave Gondor! Run away!”
She slowly turned away from the fire, looking at Perenduin as if she saw him for the first time.
“Run and hide? Like… outlaws?”
“Muriel, this is the only way I see now… There is no other”.
“Do you ask of me to leave everything I have? I love you so much… but I can’t imagine being anywhere else than in Gondor. How should we survive?”
“Let me take care of this. I may be just a captain, but I do have some gold to support us for a while and good friends in the country to rely on”.
Muriel’s heart was breaking into pieces. What should she answer? To leave everything for the one she loved and become a fugitive or to stay in Gondor and wait till her father finds somebody “good enough” for her to marry?
Somewhere the clocks stroke ten. Mjuriel was listening to the sound till it faded.
“Perenduin, I cannot answer you now. I need some time. Such decision is not an easy one…”, she did not finish the sentence.
Captain sighed. “I wish we did not have to come through such challenges… Muriel, my love, I am ready to do everything for you – even if it requires to abandon all and maybe forever! Please remember this”.
“I will. It is getting late… I have to leave… I’m sorry”. She made a step towards the door but suddenly rushed back to Perenduin.
“I love you! Please remember this, too! The moments when we were together will always be precious for me”. Tears were in her eyes and great sadness in face, as if she was saying farewell. He wanted so much that she stayed! This, however, would ruin his whole plan… A plan he was so carefully preparing and on which his hopes were laying. And so they parted, with turmoil in their hearts, since they could not know what a new day would bring.
To be continued…
Illustration from: http://www.britainexpress.com/