“More dreams!” I said bitterly. “We are beset with them, and they are all ill!”
“Have you also visions?” she asked, almost faintly.
“No; unless you are one, and I must wake to find myself back in bleak Flanders, or fighting for my life in Portland race again. And I pray that so it may not be; for if I must lose the sight of you, I am lonely indeed.”
“Nay, hush,” she said; “not now. Wait till all is well for you and for the king—and then, maybe; but I pray you have a care of Gymbert.”
Now I would have told her that I had no fear of him, and mayhap I should have heeded her other words little enough. But at that moment Father Selred came back and beckoned to us, and silently we went after him. The king had seen him and called to him.
Then and there I was made known to the princess, and I thought her strangely sad for one so fair, when she was not speaking. She looked wistfully on Hilda and on me, as if she knew how we had spoken, and smiled; and then her face was as the face of a saint in some painted evangel, such as Carl had in his churches, still and sweet.
But Ethelbert was bright and cheerful as ever; and he bade me see him home to his apartment, for he would talk with me. And I thought rightly that as he had spoken in the Thetford garden of Etheldrida, and as he had also spoken with me more than once on the road hither, so he had much to say of her now.
So across the glades passed the princess and Hilda with the priest, and with them the brightness went from the sunset for us two, I think. We waited for a few minutes, and then followed slowly, saying little. We had each our own thoughts.
Now it becomes needful that I should tell where Ethelbert was lodged, for I had not been to his apartments yet.
Across the upper end of the great hall there was a long building set, and this was divided into three uneven parts. From the hall one entered it by the door behind the king’s high seat on the dais, whence I had seen Offa and his guest come last night; and then one found that the midmost of these divisions was a sort of council chamber, lighted by a window in the opposite wall, and with a door on the right and left at either end. That on the right led to the largest division, where were the king’s own chamber and the queen’s bower. Other buildings had been added to this end; and it had its own entrance for the queen from the courtyards, as I knew, for it was behind the church and priest’s lodging where they had bestowed me.
The door from the council chamber to the left led to the smallest division of the cross building, and there were two chambers for such honoured guest as Ethelbert. One could only reach these chambers from the council room, and they had no private way into the courtyard. It seemed that the guest hall, which was built against the great hall to its left, ran back to the walls of this end of the cross building, for there was a heavily-barred low doorway, which could lead nowhere else, in the wall of the outer living room. The only other door was that of the bedchamber, and that was opposite the entrance.