CHAPTER XII. OF THE MESSAGE BROUGHT BY JAGO, AND A MEETING IN DARTMOOR.
As one may be sure, there was no danger for me at Winchester, and if I had any anxiety at all it was for Owen, who had dangers round him which I did not know. I had sent him word by that old friend of his, Jago of Norton, how the last warning was justified, and had heard from him that with the imprisonment of Dunwal his last enemies seemed to have been removed or quieted. So I was more at ease concerning him, and presently rode with Erpwald to Eastdean in the fair May weather to see the beginning of that church which should keep the memory of my father.
And all I will say concerning that is that when I came to visit the old home once more I knew that I had chosen right. The life of a forest thane was not for me, and Eastdean seemed to have nought of pleasure for me, save in a sort of wonderment in seeing how my dreams had kept so little of aught of the true look of the place. In them it had grown and grown, as it were, and now I was disappointed with it. I suppose that it is always so with what one has not seen since childhood, and for me it was as well. I felt no shadow of regret for the choice I had made.
So after the foundation was laid with all due rites, I went back to the king and found him at Chippenham, for he was passing hither and thither about his realm, as was his wont, biding for weeks or maybe months here, and so elsewhere, to see that all went well. And I knew that in Erpwald and his mother I left good and firm friends behind me, and that all would be done as I should have wished. Ay, and maybe better than I could have asked, for what Erpwald took in hand in his plain single-heartedness was carried through without stint.
Through Chippenham come the western chapmen and tin traders, and so we had news from the court at Exeter that all was well and quiet, and so I deemed that there was no more trouble to be feared. It seemed as if Owen had taken his place, and that every foe was stilled.
And yet there grew on me an uneasiness that arose from a strange dream, or vision, if you will, that came to me one night and haunted me thereafter, so soon as ever my eyes closed, so that I grew to fear it somewhat. And yet there seemed nothing in it, as one may say. It was a vision of a place, and no more, though it was a place the like of which I had never seen.
I seemed to stand in a deep hollow in wild hills, and round me closed high cliffs that shut out all but the sky, so that they surrounded a lawn of fair turf, boulder strewn here and there, and bright with greener patches that told of bog beneath the grass. In the very midst of this lawn was a round pool of black, still water, and across on the far side of that was set a menhir, one of those tall standing stones that forgotten men of old were wont to rear for rites that are past. It was on the very edge of the pool, as it seemed, and was taller than any I had seen on our hills.