“Upon my soul,” he said softly, “what an admission—what an admission! I can not have made such a night of it in years.”
Upon which Jarvo dropped unhesitatingly to his knees.
“Melek! Melek!” he cried, prostrating himself again and again. “The King! The King! The gods have permitted the possible.”
A MORNING VISIT
In an upper room in the Palace of the Litany, fair with all the burnished devices of the early light, Prince Tabnit paced on that morning of mornings of his marriage day. Because of his great happiness the whole world seemed to him like some exquisite intaglio of which this day was the design.
The room, “walled with soft splendours of Damascus tiles,” was laid with skins of forgotten animals and was hung with historic tapestries dyed by ancient fingers in the spiral veins of the Murex. There were frescoes uniting the dream with its actuality, columns carved with both lines and names of beauty, pilasters decorated with chain and checker-work and golden nets. A stairway led to a high shrine where hung the crucified Tyrian sphinx. The room was like a singing voice summoning one to delights which it described. But whatever way one looked all the lines neither pointed nor seemed to have had beginning, but being divorced from source and direction expressed merely beauty, like an altar “where none cometh to pray.”
Prince Tabnit, in his trailing robe of white embroidered by a thousand needles, looked so akin to the room that one suspected it of having produced him, Athena-wise, from, say, the great black shrine. When he paused before the shrine he seemed like a child come to beseech some last word concerning the Riddle, rather than a man who believed himself to have mastered all wisdom and to have nailed the world-sphinx to her cross.
is a vein for the silver
And a place for the gold where they fine it.
Iron is taken out of the earth
And brass is moulton out of the stone.
Man setteth an end to darkness
And searcheth out all perfection:
The stones of darkness and of the shadow of death,”
he was repeating softly. “So it is,” he added, “’and searcheth to the farthest bound.’ Have I not done so? And do I not triumph?”
Then the youth who had once admitted St. George and his friends to that far-away house in McDougle Street—with the hokey-pokey man outside the door—entered with the poetry of deference; and if, as he bent low, there was a lift and droop of his eyelids which tokened utter bewilderment, not to say agitation, he was careful that the prince should not see that.
“Her Highness, the Princess of Yaque, Mrs. Hastings, Mr. Augustus Frothingham and Miss Frothingham ask audience, your Highness,” he announced clearly.
Prince Tabnit turned swiftly.