She stood beside him in the gathering darkness, and he could almost hear the fluttering of her heart. It was a moment full of sweetness for both, even though the shadow of parting was hanging over them.
A slight rustle amongst the underwood near to them caused them to spring apart; and the girl fled from him, speeding away with the grace and silent fleetness of a deer. Gaston made a stride towards the place whence the sound had proceeded, and found himself face to face with Roger.
“The men are all at hand,” he whispered. “I would not have them approach too close till I knew your pleasure. They are all within the wood, all upon the alert lest any foe be nigh; but all seems silent as the grave, and not a light gleams from the Tower upon this side. Shall I bid them remain where they are? or shall I bring them hither to you beside the water?”
“Let them remain where they are for a while and see that the horses be well fed and cared for. At ten o’clock, if all be well, the attempt to enter the Tower is to be made; and once the prisoner is safe and in our keeping, we must to Bordeaux as fast as horse will take us. The Sieur de Navailles will raise the whole country after us. We must be beyond the reach of his clutches ere we draw rein again.”
CHAPTER XXVI. THE RESCUE OF RAYMOND.
The appointed hour had arrived. No signal had fallen upon Gaston’s listening ears; no note of warning had rung through the still night air.
From the direction of the Castle sounds of distant revelry arose at intervals — sounds which seemed to show that nothing in the shape of watch or ward was being thought of by its inmates; and also that Constanza’s promise had been kept, and potations of unwonted strength had been served out to the men.
Now the appointed hour had come and gone, and Gaston commenced his preparations for the rescue of his brother. That he might be going to certain death if he failed, or if he had been betrayed, did not weigh with him for a moment. If Constanza were false to him, better death than the destruction of his hopes and his trust. In any case he would share his brother’s fate sooner than leave him in the relentless hands of these cruel foes.
He had selected six of his stoutest followers, all of them excellent swimmers, to accompany him across the moat; and Roger, as a matter of course, claimed to be one of the party. To Roger’s mysterious power of vision they owed their rapid tracing of Raymond to this lonely spot. It was indeed his right to make one of the rescue party if he desired to be allowed to do so.
The rest of their number were to remain upon this farther side of the moat, and the horses were all in readiness, rested and refreshed, about half-a-mile off under the care of several stout fellows, all stanch to their master’s interests. The story they had heard from Gaston of what had been devised against his brother filled the honest soldiers with wrath and indignation. Rough and savage as they might show themselves in open warfare, deliberate and diabolical cruelty was altogether foreign to their nature. And they all felt towards Raymond a sense of protecting and reverent tenderness, such as all may feel towards a being of finer mould and loftier nature.