Kenkenes had walked in silence, looking down into the luminous eyes, lost in wonder. Rachel suddenly realized at what length she had talked and stopped abruptly, dropping back to her place again as if chidden.
“Come,” said Kenkenes, noting her action, “walk beside me, priestess. I would hear more of this. It is like all forbidden things—wondrously alluring.”
“I did forget,” she answered stubbornly. “There is nothing more.”
“Come,” he insisted. “The teacher rather precedes the pupil. At least, thou shalt walk beside me.”
“I pray thee, let us go on. We are not yet at the camp—we have walked so slowly,” she answered. At that moment several fragments of rock, loosening, slid down in the dark just behind her. She caught her breath and was beside the young artist in an instant. He laughed in sheer delight.
“Thou hast assembled the spirits by thy blasphemy,” he said. “And remember, I must soon return to this haunted place alone.”
“Thou canst get a brand of fire or a cudgel at the camp,” she said with some remorse in her voice, “and run for the river bank.” With that she resumed her place behind him.
Kenkenes laughed again. It gave him uncommon pleasure to know that his model was concerned for him. He put out his hand and deliberately drew her up to his side. Not content with that he bent his arm and put her hand under it and into his palm, so that she could not leave him again. She submitted reluctantly, but her fingers, lost in his warm clasp, were cold and ill at ease. He felt their chill and released her to slip about her shoulders the light woolen mantle he had worn. Her apprehension lest he take her hand again was so evident that he refrained, though he slackened his step and kept with her.
But she spoke no more until they were beside the outermost circle of coals that had been a cooking fire for the camp. Here they met a man, whom, by his superior dress, Kenkenes took to be the taskmaster. They were almost upon him before he was seen.
“Rachel!” he exclaimed.
“Here am I,” she answered, a little anxiously.
“Thou wast gone long—” he began.
The sculptor interposed.
“She hath done me a service and it was my pleasure to talk with her,” he said complacently. “Chide her not.”
The glow from the fire lighted the young man’s face, and the taskmaster, standing in deep shadow, scanned it sharply but did not answer. Kenkenes turned and strode away down the valley.
Rachel snatched a thick sycamore club which had been left over in the construction of the scaffold and ran after him. But the young sculptor had disappeared in the dark.
“Kenkenes,” she cried at last desperately. He answered immediately.
She slipped off the mantle.
“This, thy mantle,” she said when he approached, “and this,” thrusting the club into his hands. “There is as much danger in the valley for thee as for me.”