St. George hardly noted the majestic square through which they were passing. Impressions of great buildings, dim white and misty grey and bathed in light, bewilderingly succeeded one another; but, as in the days which followed the news of his inheritance, he found himself now in a temper of unsurprise, in that mental atmosphere—properly the normal—which regards all miracle as natural law. He even omitted to note what was of passing strangeness: that neither the retinue of the minister nor the others upon the streets cast more than casual glances at their unusual visitors. But when the great gates of the palace were readied his attention was challenged and held, for though mere marvels may become the air one breathes, beauty will never cease to amaze, and the vista revealed was of almost disconcerting beauty.
Avenues of brightness, arches of green, glimpses of airy columns, of boundless lawns set with high, pyramidal shrines, great places of quiet and straight line, alleys whose shadow taught the necessity of mystery, the sound of water—the pure, positive element of it all—and everywhere, above, below and far, that delicate, labyrinth light, diffused from no visible source. It was as if some strange compound had changed the character of the dark itself, transmuting it to a subtle essence more exquisite than light, inhabiting it with wonders. And high above their heads where this translucence seemed to mix with the upper air and to fuse with moonbeams, sprang almost joyously the pale domes and cornices of the palace, sending out floating streamers and pennons of colours nameless and unknown.
“Jupiter,” said the human Amory in awe, “what a picture for the first page of the supplement.”
St. George hardly heard him. The picture held so perfectly the elusive charm of the Question—the Question which profoundly underlies all things. It was like a triumphant burst of music which yet ends on a high note, with imperfect close, hinting passionately at some triumph still loftier.
From either side of the wall of the palace yard came glittering a detachment of the Royal Golden Guard, clad in uniforms of unrelieved cloth-of-gold. These halted, saluted, wheeled, and between their shining ranks St. George and Amory footed quietly on, followed by Rollo carrying the yellow oil-skins. To St. George there was relief in the motion, relief in the vastness, and almost a boy’s delight in the pastime of living the hour.
Yet Royal Golden Guard, majestic avenues, and towered palace with its strange banners floating in strange light, held for him but one reality. And when they had mounted the steps of the mighty entrance, and the sound of unrecognized music reached him—a very myth of music, elusive, vagrant, fugued—and the palace doors swung open to receive them, he could have shouted aloud on the brilliant threshold:
“He says she is here in Yaque.”