* * * * *
Then with a rush facts re-asserted themselves, and he started and looked round as the monk touched him on the arm.
“You have seen it,” he said in a sharp undertone, “it is enough. We shall be attacked.” Chris paid him no heed beyond a look, and turned once more.
It was here that they had suffered, these gallant knights of God; they had stood below these beams, their feet on the cart that was their chariot of glory, their necks in the rope that would be their heavenly badge; they had looked out where he was looking as they made their little speeches, over the faces to Tyburn-gate, with the same sun that was now behind him, shining into their eyes.
He still stroked the rough beam; and as the details came home, and he remembered that it was this that had borne their weight, he leaned and kissed it; and a flood of tears blinded him.
Again the priest pulled his sleeve sharply.
“For God’s sake, brother!” he said.
Chris turned to him.
“The cauldron,” he said; “where was that?”
The priest made an impatient movement, but pointed to one side, away from where the men were standing still watching them; and Chris saw below, by the side of one of the streams a great blackened patch of ground, and a heap of ashes.
The two went down there, for the other monk was thankful to get to any less conspicuous place; and Chris presently found himself standing on the edge of the black patch, with the trampled mud and grass beyond it beside the stream. The grey wood ashes had drifted by now far across the ground, but the heavy logs still lay there, charred and smoked, that had blazed beneath the cauldron where the limbs of the monks had been seethed; and he stared down at them, numbed and fascinated by the horror of the thought. His mind, now in a violent reaction, seemed unable to cope with its own knowledge, crushed beneath its weight; and his friend heard him repeating with a low monotonous insistence—
“Here it was,” he said, “here; here was the cauldron; it was here.”
Then he turned and looked into his friend’s eyes.
“It was here,” he said; “are you sure it was here?”
The other made an impatient sound.
“Where else?” he said sharply. “Come, brother, you have seen enough.”
* * * * *
He told him more details as they walked home; as to what each had said, and how each had borne himself. Father Reynolds, the Syon monk, had looked gaily about him, it seemed, as he walked up from the hurdle; the secular priest had turned pale and shut his eyes more than once; the three Carthusian priors had been unmoved throughout, showing neither carelessness nor fear; Prior Houghton’s arm had been taken off to the London Charterhouse as a terror to the others; their heads, he had heard, were on London Bridge.
Chris walked slowly as he listened, holding tight under his scapular the scrap of rough white cloth he had picked up near the cauldron, drinking in every detail, and painting it into the mental picture that was forming in his mind; but there was much more in the picture than the other guessed.