“Thank God, they can’t surprise us,” cried Hugh after he had learned all. He was mad with excitement, burning with eagerness for the fray.
The possibility of defeat, did not enter his head, so sure was he that he and his warriors could overthrow the invaders. His brain was filled with the hope that he might some day tell the story of this battle to the fellows at his club in Chicago. He could imagine himself sitting with his heels on the window seat, relating to envious listeners the details of the fight in the pass, the repulsing of the enemy, the chase to the shore; the annihilation and—but no time was to be lost in dreaming of the future when the imperative present demanded so much of him.
At his side hurried the distressed, trembling young Englishwoman, her heart almost paralyzed with fear. Two or three times she tried to speak to him; once she timidly, though frantically, sought to grasp his hand to stay him in his excited rush toward the temple. Up to this moment she had been brave, even confident; now a weakness assailed her and every vestige of courage was gone. But one thought filled her mind: the possibility of disaster befalling Hugh Ridgeway.
They reached the temple and he dashed inside, going direct to his room, where the sword and daggers hung. She sank weakly upon one of the big blocks in the long corridor, leaning her head against the partition, breathing heavily, hopelessly. He, unconscious of the pain she was suffering, began to whistle joyously as he bustled about.
“Tennys,” he called, “do you know what has become of my shield?”
“It is out here,” she answered shrilly, her voice pitched high with the tension imposed. He came forth, tossing his sword on the ground at her feet, hastily taking the shield from a peg in the wall.
“Say, we won’t see a live Ooloozer for a hundred years after the fight,” he exploded exuberantly. “Is my army out there in front?”
“Hugh,” she said piteously, following him about in the hall, “it isn’t necessary for you to accompany them.”
“Oh, great Scott! I wouldn’t miss it for a million. I’m the biggest pig in the puddle,” stopping to look at her in amazement.
“But it isn’t your—our war, Hugh. Why do you risk so much? They may kill you and then—then what will become of me?”
In an instant his hilarity subsided and deep solicitude came in its stead, every particle of tenderness in his heart asserting itself in response to the rueful appeal. There was a queer rushing of blood to his head, a dizziness, a great thrumming against, the drums of his ears, from all of which sprung, like lightning, the remembrance of his suspicions concerning her feelings toward him.
“You are not worried, are you? Why, there’s no danger, not the slightest. We’ve got them whipped before the fight. I didn’t think you’d lose courage. You’ve been so brave and confident all the time.” He took her hands in his own and looked tenderly down into the wavering eyes of blue.