“Did you speak with Mr. Ralph?” asked Dom Anthony.
“Ah! I did; the dog! and I told him what I thought. But he dared not refuse me the luggage. John is to go for it all to-night.”
He told them during dinner another fact that he had learned.
“You know who is to have it all?” he said fiercely, his fingers twitching with emotion.
“It is Master Gregory Cromwell, and his wife, and his baby. A fine nursery!”
* * * * *
As the evening drew on, Chris was again at the window alone. He had said his office earlier in the afternoon, and sat here again now, with his hands before him, staring down at the church.
One of the servants had come up with a message from Sir James an hour before telling him not to expect them before dusk; and that they would send up news of any further developments. The whole town was there, said the man: it had been found impossible to keep them out. Dom Anthony presently came again and sat with Chris; and Mr. Morris, who had been left as a safeguard to the monks, slipped in soon after and stood behind the two; and so the three waited.
The sky was beginning to glow again as it had done last night with the clear radiance of a cloudless sunset; and the tall west tower stood up bright in the glory. How infinitely far away last night seemed now, little and yet distinct as a landscape seen through a reversed telescope! How far away that silent waiting at the cloister door, the clamour at the gate, the forced entrance, the slipping away through the church!
The smoke was rising faster than ever now from the great chimney, and hung in a cloud above the buildings. Perhaps even now the lead was being cast.
There was a clatter at the corner of the cobbled street below, and Dom Anthony leaned from the window. He drew back.
“It is the horses,” he said.
The servant presently came up to announce that the two gentlemen were following immediately, and that he had had orders to procure horses and saddle them at once. He had understood Sir James to say that they must leave that night.
Mr. Morris hurried out to see to the packing.
In five minutes the gentlemen themselves appeared.
Sir James came quickly across to the two monks.
“We must go to-night, Chris,” he said. “We had words with Portinari. You must not remain longer in the town.”
Chris looked at him.
“Yes?” he said.
“And the chapels will be down immediately. Oh! dear God!”
Dom Anthony made room for the old man to sit down in the window-seat; and himself stood behind the two with Nicholas; and so again they watched.
The light was fading fast now, and in the windows below lights were beginning to shine. The square western tower that dominated the whole priory had lost its splendour, and stood up strong and pale against the meadows. There was a red flare of light somewhere over the wall of the court, and the inner side of the gate-turret was illuminated by it.