“No!... I have been reading the Book of Daniel. Do you know what Ian is like to me? He is like some great lord—a prince or governor—in the court maybe of Belshazzar, or Darius the Mede, or Cyrus the Persian—in that hot and stately land of golden images and old rivers and the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer and all kinds of music. He must serve his tyrant—and yet Daniel, kneeling in his house, in his chamber, with the windows open toward Jerusalem, might hear a cry to hold his name in his prayers.... What strange thoughts we have of ourselves, and of those nearest and dearest!”
“Mr. Wotherspoon says that he is fifteenth-century Italian. You have both done a proper bit of characterization! But I,” said Alexander, “I know another great territory of Ian.”
“I know that, Glenfernie! And so do I know other good realms of Ian. Yet that was what I thought when I read Daniel. And I had the thought, too, that those old people were capable of great friendships.”
Black Alan was waiting. Glenfernie mounted, said good-by again; the green boughs of the elm-trees took him and his steed.
Ian forestalled Alexander, riding to Glenfernie House the morning after his arrival at Black Hill. “Let us go,” he said, “where we can talk at ease! The old, alchemical room?”
They crossed the grass-grown court to the keep, entered and went up the broken stair to the stone-walled chamber that took up the second floor, that looked out of loophole windows north, south, east, and west. The day was high summer, bright and hot. Strong light and less strong light came in beams from the four quarters and made in the large place a conflict of light and shadow. The fireplace was great enough for Gog and Magog to have warmed themselves thereby. Around, in an orderly litter, yet stood on table or bench or shelf many of the matters that Alexander had gathered there in his boyhood. In one corner was the furnace that when he was sixteen his father had let him build. More recent was the oaken table in the middle of the room, two deep chairs, and shelves with many books. After the warmth of the sun the place presented a grave, cool, brown harbor.
The two, entering, had each an arm over the other’s shoulder. Where they were known their friendship was famed. Youth and manhood, they had been together when it was possible. When it was not so the thought of each outtraveled separation. Their differences, their varied colors of being, seemed but to bind them closer. They entered this room like David and Jonathan.