I longed much to hear more of his adventures, but neither love nor money would induce the thrice cautious Jan to set a foot within the precincts of the Red Tower.
“I will light a bonfire when it is dark at the White Gate,” he said, as he retracted himself into the dusk. “I know what will make a rare blaze. And the Prince cannot come too soon.”
So indeed I thought also, as I looked out and saw the swarms of Duke Otho’s men in the court-yard and about the square, and reflected on our helplessness here in the Red Tower within the defenced precincts of the Wolfsberg.
THE CROWNING OF DUKE OTHO
But at long and last the most tardy-footed day comes to an end. And so, just as fast as on any common day, the sun at last dropped to the edge of the horizon and slowly sank, leaving a shallowing lake of orange color behind.
The red roofs of Thorn grew gray, with purple veins of shadow in the interstices where the streets ran, or rather burrowed. The nightly hum of the city began. For, under the cruel rule of the wolves of the castle, Thorn was ever busiest in the right. Indeed, the cheating of the guard had become a business well understood of all the citizens, who had a regular code of signals to warn each other of its approach.
Lights winked and kindled in the Wolfsberg over against me. I could see the long array of lighted windows where the Duke would presently be dining with Michael Texel, High Councillor Gerard von Sturm, and most of his other intimates. There, beneath, were the stables of the Black Riders, and before them men were constantly passing and repassing with buckets and soldier gear.
I wondered if the Duke had news of the approach of the enemy.
So soon as I judged it safe I went to the top of the Red Tower and unfolded the paper which Jan the Lubber Fiend had brought me. It was without name and address or signature, and read as follows:
“To-night we shall be all in readiness. When the time is ripe let a fire be lighted upon some conspicuous tower or high place of the city. Then we will come.”
Thereafter Helene, being lonely, climbed up and sat down beside me. I handed her the paper.
“To-night will be a stormy one in Thorn and the Wolfsberg, little one,” said I. “I fear you and I are not yet out of the wood.”
The Little Playmate read the letter and gave it back to me. I tore it up, and let the wind carry away the pieces one by one, small, like dust, so that scarce one letter clave to another.
Her hand stole into mine.
“Ah,” she sighed, “I am beginning to believe in it now! To-night may be as dangerous as yesternight. But at least we are together, never to be separated. And to us two that means all.”
It was a strange marriage night, this of ours—thus to sit on the roof of the Tower, under the iron beacon which had been placed there in my grandfather’s time, and listen to the hum and murmur of the city, straining our eyes meanwhile through the darkness to catch the first spear-glint from the army of the Prince.