“Probably,” he returned coolly. “But of the details of the plot our Council are, I believe, as absolutely ignorant as of the quarter from which it proceeds.”
“And how,” I inquired, “can it be that the witness who has informed you of the plot has withheld the names, without which his information is so imperfect, and serves rather to alarm than to protect us?”
“You know,” he replied, “the kind of mysterious perception to which we can resort, and are probably aware how strangely lucid in some points, how strangely darkened in others, is the vision that does not depend on ordinary human senses?”
As we spoke we had passed Eunane once or twice, walking backwards and forwards along the path near which she sat. As my companion was about to continue, we were so certainly within her hearing that I checked him.
“Take care,” I said; “I know nothing of her except the Campta’s choice, and that she is not of us.”
He visibly started.
“I thought,” he said, “that the witness of our conversation was one at least as reliable as yourself. I forgot how it happened that you have diverged from the prudence which forbids our brethren to admit to their households aliens from the Order and possible spies on its secrets.”
“Of whom do you speak as Clavelta?” I asked. “I was not even aware that the Order had a single head.”
“The Signet,” replied my friend in evident surprise, “should have distinguished the Arch-Enlightener to duller sight than yours.”
We had not spoken, of course, till we were again beyond hearing; but my companion looked round carefully before he proceeded—
“You will understand the better, then, how strong is your own claim upon the care of your brethren, and how confidently you may rely upon their vigilance and fidelity.”
“I should regret,” I answered, “that their lives should be risked for mine. In dangers like those against which you could protect me, I have been accustomed from boyhood to trust my own right hand. But the fear of secret assassination has often unnerved the bravest men, and I will not say that it may not disturb me.”
“For you,” he answered, “personally we should care as for one of our brethren exposed to especial danger, For him who saved the descendant of our Founder, and who in her right, after her father and brother, would be the guardian, if not the head, of the only remaining family of his lineage, one and all of us are at need bound to die.”
After a few more words we parted, and I rejoined Eunane, and led her back towards the house. I had learnt to consider taciturnity a matter of course, except where there was actual occasion for speech; but Eunane had chattered so fluently and frankly just before, that her absolute silence might have suggested to me the possibility that she had heard and was pondering things not intended for her knowledge, had I been