So, tired of waiting for Feltram to begin, he opened the subject one day himself. He had not seen him for two or three days; and in the wood of Mardykes he saw his lank figure standing among the thick trees, upon a little knoll, leaning on a staff which he sometimes carried with him in his excursions up the mountains.
“Feltram!” shouted Sir Bale.
Feltram turned and beckoned. Sir Bale muttered, but obeyed the signal.
“I brought you here, because you can from this point with unusual clearness today see the opening of the Clough of Feltram at the other side, and the clump of trees, where you will find the way to reach the person about whom you are always thinking.”
“Who said I am always thinking about him?” said the Baronet angrily; for he felt like a man detected in a weakness, and resented it.
“I say it, because I know it; and you know it also. See that clump of trees standing solitary in the hollow? Among them, to the left, grows an ancient oak. Cut in its bark are two enormous letters H—F; so large and bold, that the rugged furrows of the oak bark fail to obscure them, although they are ancient and spread by time. Standing against the trunk of this great tree, with your back to these letters, you are looking up the Glen or Clough of Feltram, that opens northward, where stands Cloostedd Forest spreading far and thick. Now, how do you find our fortune-teller?”
“That is exactly what I wish to know,” answered Sir Bale; “because, although I can’t, of course, believe that he’s a witch, yet he has either made the most marvellous fluke I’ve heard of, or else he has got extraordinary sources of information; or perhaps he acts partly on chance, partly on facts. Be it which you please, I say he’s a marvellous fellow; and I should like to see him, and have a talk with him; and perhaps he could arrange with me. I should be very glad to make an arrangement with him to give me the benefit of his advice about any matter of the same kind again.”
“I think he’s willing to see you; but he’s a fellow with a queer fancy and a pig-head. He’ll not come here; you must go to him; and approach him his own way too, or you may fail to find him. On these terms he invites you.”
Sir Bale laughed.
“He knows his value, and means to make his own terms.”
“Well, there’s nothing unfair in that; and I don’t see that I should dispute it. How is one to find him?”
“Stand, as I told you, with your back to those letters cut in the oak. Right before you lies an old Druidic altar-stone. Cast your eye over its surface, and on some part of it you are sure to see a black stain about the size of a man’s head. Standing, as I suppose you, against the oak, that stain, which changes its place from day to day, will give you the line you must follow through the forest in order to light upon him. Take carefully from it such trees or objects as will guide you; and when the forest thickens, do the best you can to keep to the same line. You are sure to find him.”