St. George looked at Olivia helplessly.
“Will you tell me where his room is?” he said, “and I’ll go back with him. I don’t know what to make of this, quite, but don’t be frightened. It’s all right. Didn’t you say he is on the second floor?”
“Yes, but don’t go alone with him,” begged Olivia suddenly, “let me call some of the servants. We don’t know what he may do.”
St. George shook his head, smiling a little in sheer boyish delight at that “we.” “We” is a very wonderful word, when it is not put to unimportant uses by kings, editors and the like.
“I’d rather not, thank you,” he said. “I’ll have a talk with him, I think.”
“His room is at the top of the stair, on the left,” said Olivia reluctantly, “but I wish—”
“We shall get on all right,” St. George assured her, “and don’t let this worry you, will you? I was smoking on the terrace. I’ll be there for a while yet. Good night,” he said from the doorway.
“Good night,” said Olivia. “Good night—and, oh, I thank you.”
St. George’s expectation of having a talk with the old man was, however, unfounded. Old Malakh led the way to his room—a great place of carven seats and a frowning bed-canopy and high windows, and doors set deep in stone; and he begged St. George to sit down and permitted him to examine the sealed tube filled with little particles that looked like nickel, and spoke with gentle irrelevance the while. At the last St. George left him, feeling as if he were committing not so much an indignity as a social solecism when he locked the door upon the lonely creature, using for the purpose a key-like implement chained to the lock without and having a ring about the size of the iron crown of the Lombards.
“Good night,” old Malakh told him courteously, “good night. But yet all nights are good—save the night of the heart.”
St. George went back to the terrace. For hours he paced the paths of that little upper garden or lay upon the wall among the pungent vines. But now he forgot the iridescent dark and the companion-sea and the high moon and the king’s palace, for it was not these that made the necromancy of the night. It was permitted him to watch before the threshold while Olivia slept, as lovers had watched in the youth of the world. Whatever the morrow held, to-night had been added to yesternight. Not until the dawn of that morrow whitened the sky and drew from the vapourous plain the first far towers of Med, the King’s City, did St. George say good night to her glimmering windows.
There is a certain poster, all stars and poppies and deep grass; and over these hangs a new moon which must surely have been cut by fairy scissors, for it looks as much like a cake or a cowslip as it looks like a moon. But withal it sheds a light so eery and strangely silver that the poster seems, in spite of the poppies, to have been painted in Spring-wind.