He had been holding his woman in his arms, cradling her on his lap, twirling her hair through his fingers and breathing in the fragrance of her, of wild lavender and sea mist, while he nuzzled the soft, warm skin behind her ear. He pulled a tiny package from his pouch and held it before her. She took it, looking at him with sad eyes and a trembling smile. He watched her delicate white fingers untie the ribbon and open the paper. Folded inside was a pendant shaped like half a heart. It was painted red, and there was a poem engraved on it; a love poem, but it was unfinished. She looked up at him, confused. He opened his hand to reveal the other half of the heart with the end of the poem. He closed their hands together holding the hearts tightly inside and brought her hands to his lips. He lightly brushed his upper lip against the silky skin between her knuckles. He was so desperately in love with her. He wanted nothing but to be with her and share a life. But he couldn’t, not yet. “I cannot stay,” he declared. His cloak whipped in the wind behind him. “I cannot. The freedom of youth is mine no more.” It was time for him to make a tremendous sacrifice. A long sigh of sadness escaped her, and her eyes widened with denial as they filled with tears. He braced himself there in the shadow of the great ship about to sail away with him. He felt his boots sink into the sand, and if he remained in her presence much longer, he would lose his strength and run off with her. But he was doing this for her. For them. When he returned from this voyage, he would have the means to marry her. They held onto each other in silence. Their goodbye spreading wide around them. No tearful pleadings came from her. She released her hands from his and slowly stepped away. He closed his eyes against the pain of his heart ripping apart and his stomach souring and when he opened them again, she was gone, vanished, like a vapor, swept away on the wind.