On either side upon the pedestal knelt a figure of the size of life. One was an old and withered man with death stamped upon his face; the other was a beautiful, naked woman, her hands clasped in the attitude of prayer and with vague terror written on her vivid features.
Such was this glorious group of which the meaning could not be mistaken. It was Fate throned upon the sun, wearing the constellations as his garment, armed with the sword of Destiny and worshipped by Life and Death. This interpretation I set out to the others.
Yva knelt before the statue for a little while, bowing her head in prayer, and really I felt inclined to follow her example, though in the end I compromised, as did Bickley, by taking off my hat, which, like the others, I still wore from force of habit, though in this place none were needed. Only Bastin remained covered.
“Behold the god of my people,” said Yva. “Have you no reverence for it, O Bastin?”
“Not much,” he answered, “except as a work of art. You see I worship Fate’s Master. I might add that your god doesn’t seem to have done much for you, Lady Yva, as out of all your greatness there’s nothing left but two people and a lot of old walls and caves.”
At first she was inclined to be angry, for I saw her start. Then her mood changed, and she said with a sigh:
“Fate’s Master! Where does He dwell?”
“Here amongst other places,” said Bastin. “I’ll soon explain that to you.”
“I thank you,” she replied gravely. “But why have you not explained it to Bickley?” Then waving her hand to show that she wished for no answer, she went on:
“Friends, would you wish to learn something of the history of my people?”
“Very much,” said the irrepressible Bastin, “but I would rather the lecture took place in the open air.”
“That is not possible,” she answered. “It must be here and now, or not at all. Come, stand by me. Be silent and do not move. I am about to set loose forces that are dangerous if disturbed.”
Visions of the Past
She led us to the back of the statue and pointed to each of us where we should remain. Then she took her place at right angles to us, as a showman might do, and for a while stood immovable. Watching her face, once more I saw it, and indeed all her body, informed with that strange air of power, and noted that her eyes flashed and that her hair grew even more brilliant than was common, as though some abnormal strength were flowing through it and her. Presently she spoke, saying: