“You will be brave, Hugo, for my sake. Next to life with you—to die by your dear hand, knowing that you love me, is the best gift they could have given me. They thought to hurt, but instead they have made me so happy. Till we meet again, dear love—till we meet soon again!”
And she accompanied me to the door, and kissed me as I went out, standing smilingly on tiptoe to do it, even as of old she was wont to do in the Red Tower.
And the last thing I saw of her, as the door closed upon the darkness of the cell, was my love standing smiling up at me, her eyes filled with the splendors of the love that casteth out fear.
THE NIGHT BEFORE THE MORN
Even as the dwarf on the ledge of the castle clocktower creaked his wires and clicked back his hammer to strike the midnight over the city, even as the first solemn toll of the hour reverberated over the Wolfsberg, I was at the door of the Duke’s room waiting for admission.
The Chamberlain in attendance looked within, and seeing his master writing at a table, he was going out again without speech.
“Has Hugo Gottfried returned?” said the Duke, without looking up.
“Hugo Gottfried is here!” I replied, stepping unannounced into the room.
He looked up without smiling, a keen inquiring glance glittering from between eyelids so close together that only the faintest line of the pupil showed black under the lashes.
“Well?” he questioned.
“I will do the thing you have asked,” answered I.
And said no more.
The Duke instantly became restless, and getting up, he began to pace about the floor like a caged beast.
“You have seen her?” he inquired, stopping in front of me, wide-nostrilled, like a dog that points the game.
“I have seen her,” I replied, as simply.
“Well?” he queried again, with a keen, eager note of anxiety in his voice.
“I am ready to do that which you have asked.”
He seemed to be on the point of saying something else. But, changing his mind, he touched a little silver bell.
The usher appeared.
“Show the Hereditary Justicer of the Mark to the Red Tower. Give him all that is necessary to eat and drink. Bid a man-at-arms attend him, and set a sufficient guard at the door!”
So I went out from the presence, and the Duke and the Duke’s new Justicer bowed to each other gravely as I stood a moment on the threshold.
“Till we meet again, Red Axe of the Wolfmark!” said Duke Otho.
“Till we meet again!” said I, countering him like blade meeting blade.
In little more than ten minutes after I had entered them, I stood outside the Duke’s apartments, and with my escort I strode across to the empty Red Tower, the home of so many memories. My head was reeling, and with the overpress of excitement I could not sleep. So, bribing the soldier, my companion—who had been charged by the Duke not to lose sight of me—to accompany me, I went up to my father’s garret.