Gaston, indeed, was like one in a dream. He could scarce believe the evidence of his senses; and it was a pretty sight to see how the winsome Constanza clung to him, and how it seemed as though she could not bear to let her eyes wander for a moment from his face.
Only at night, when the brothers stood together in the room they had occupied of yore, and clasped each other by the hand in warm congratulation, did Raymond really know how this meeting affected the object of their journey; then Gaston, looking grave and thoughtful, spoke a few words of his purpose.
“The Sieur de Navailles is a raging madman. That I can well divine from what Constanza says. Tomorrow we will to Saut, to see what we may discover there on the spot. It may be we may have no bloody warfare to wage; it may be that Saut may be won without the struggle we have thought. His own people are terrified before him. Constanza thinks that I have but to declare myself and show the King’s warrant to be proclaimed by all as Lord and Master of Saut.”
CHAPTER XXXI. THE SURRENDER OF SAUT.
“In the King’s name!”
The old seneschal at the drawbridge eyed with glances of awed suspicion the gallant young knight who had ridden so boldly up to the walls of Saut and had bidden him lower the bridge. A few paces behind the leader was a compact little body of horsemen, all well mounted and well armed, though it was little their bright weapons could do against the solid walls of the grim old fortress, girdled as it was with its wide and deep moat. The pale sunshine of a winter’s day shone upon the trappings of the little band, and lighted up the stone walls with something of unwonted brightness. It revealed to those upon the farther side of the moat the perplexed countenance of the old seneschal, who did not meet Gaston’s bold demand for admittance with defiance or refusal, but stood staring at the apparition, as if not knowing what to make of it; and when the demand had been repeated somewhat more peremptorily, he still stood doubtful and hesitating, saying over and over to himself the same words:
“In the King’s name! in the King’s name!”
“Ay, fellow, in the King’s name,” repeated Gaston sternly. “Wilt thou see his warrant? I have it here. Thou hadst best have a care how thou settest at defiance the King’s seal and signet. Knowest thou not that his royal son is within a few leagues of this very spot?”
The old man only shook his head, as if scarce comprehending the drift of these words, and presently he looked up to ask:
“Of which King speak you, good Sir Knight?”
“Of the English King, fellow, the only King I acknowledge! Whose servant doth thy master call himself? Thou hadst better go and tell him that King Edward of England has sent a message to him.”
“Tell my master!” repeated the seneschal, with a strange gesture, as he lifted his hand and touched his head. “To what good would that be? My master understands no word that is said to him. He raves up and down the hall day by day, taking note of naught about him. Thou hadst best have a care how thou beardest him, Sir Knight. We go in terror of our very lives through him.”