And then he added grimly:
“Moreover, I will send men on the track of Evan, the chapman, forthwith.”
So we called out the guards from the camp, where there were lines of huts with a greater building in the midst as if it were often used thus, and so rode across the rolling land northwards till we came to Pembroke. And there Howel of Dyfed dwelt in state in such a palace as that of Gerent, for here again the hand of the Saxon had never come, and the buildings bore the stamp of Imperial Rome.
So once again I was lodged within stone walls, and with a roof above me that I could touch with my hand, and I need not say how I fared in all princely wise as the son of Owen. I suppose there could be no more frank and friendly host than Howel of Dyfed.
Tired I was that night also, and I slept well. But once I woke with a fear for Owen on me, for I had dreamed that I saw some man creeping and spying along the wide ramparts of Norton stronghold. And it seemed that the man had a bow in his hand.
I thought Pembroke a very pleasant place when I came to see it in the fair winter’s morning. The gale had passed, but it had brought a thaw with it, and there was a softness in the air again, and the light covering of snow had gone when I first looked abroad. There had been no such heavy fall here as we had in Wessex beyond the sea.
Maybe pleasant companionship had something to do with my thought of the place, for none can deny that a good deal does depend on who is with one. And, seeing that after the morning meal her father was busy with his counsellors for a time, Nona the princess would shew me all that was to be seen while we waited the coming of Thorgils.
Whoever chose the place for the building of this palace stronghold chose well, for it is set on a rocky tongue of land that divides the waters of an inland branch of the winding Milford Haven, so that nought but an easily defended ridge of hill gives access to the fortress. All the tongue itself has sheer rock faces to the water, and none might hope to scale them. They and the wall across the one way from the mainland, as one may call it, make Howel’s home sure, and since the coming of the Danes into the land he had strengthened what had fallen somewhat into decay in the long years of peace that had passed.
We had never reached Dyfed, either from land or sea. So I saw hawks and hounds, stables and guardrooms and all else, and at last we walked on the terraced edge of the cliffs in the southern sun, and there a man came and said that Thorgils the Norseman had come.
“Oh,” said Nona with a little laugh, “he knows not that you are here! Let us see his face when he meets you!”
“The prince is busy,” said the servant. “Is it your will that the stranger should be brought here?”