What was our surprise when we heard his words.
“My Lord Duke,” he was saying, “it is fortunate for the elucidation of this great mystery that I have this moment received word concerning a most learned and notable jurisconsult, a Doctor of the Law, wise in controversy and specially skilled in such cases, who has even now arrived in the city of Thorn, on his way to the Emperor at Ratisbon, before whom he is to dispute for the honor of truth and our holy religion.
“His name is the Learned, Venerable, and Reverend Doctor Schmidt, and I trust that we of the city and faculty of the Wolfmark shall have the honor of welcoming him as so distinguished a man deserves.”
The pattern of the Bishop’s speech is one that does not vary while the world lasts.
“Lord, they have made me a Doctor of Theology as well!” whispered the Chancellor to me. I gave him a little push.
“Now is your time,” said I, “the hour and the Doctor!”
I lifted the skirt of his long black robe. He took hold of his marvellous beard, a triumph of the disguiser’s art, and we stepped forward. I could hardly conceal a smile.
We had come in the very nick of time.
Then after this I have a vague remembrance of my master bowing this way and that. I seem to see the wise men of the law, the judges, the priests, and lictors rising and bowing in acknowledgment. I heard the hush of a thousand people all craning their necks to look round the heads of their neighbors, and the hum of whispered comment reach farther and farther back, till it lapped against the walls and ebbed out into the street from the great open door of the Hall of Judgment. It was a surprising sight, this great trial—the gloomy hall, black with age and deeds of darkness, lit by the rays of sunlight falling through windows of red glass, the faces of men flecked as with blood where the evening sunlight streamed luridly upon them.
In the midst there was a clear four-square space. A lictor, with a bundle of rods, stood at each corner. I looked, and there, alone in the centre, attired in white, the cynosure of eyes, I beheld—Helene.
THE GARRET OF THE RED TOWER
I felt my temples, my ears, my neck tingling with cold. I seemed to have fallen into a sea of ice. I think I would have fallen and fainted but that at that moment my master sat down beside the Bishop, and I was left free to retire into a darksome corner, where I staggered against a beam, slimy with black sweat, and hung over it with my hand clasping my brow, trying to think what had happened.
I do not know how long I remained in this position, nor yet when I came to myself. All was a dream to me, a nightmare of horrid whirlings and infinite oppressions. The faces of the folk that watched, the garmentry of the Bishop and his priests, the red robes of the young Duke and his assessors, spun round me in a hideous phantasmagoria.