“Then,” she whispered, smiling, “you will indeed abide with me?”
He gave her his hand.
“I will abide with you till death! Body and soul, I am yours alone!”
“By the holy cross of our Lord, that shall you not!” cried Malise; “not though you hang me high as Haman for this ere the morrow’s morn!”
And with these words he sprang forward and caught his master by the wrist. With one strong pull of his mighty arm he dragged him within the circle which the Abbot had marked out with the sword’s point.
The lady seemed to change colour. For at that moment a gust of wind caused the lamps to flicker, and the outlines of her white-robed figure appeared to waver like an image cast in water.
“I adjure and command you, in the name of God the One and Omnipotent, to depart to your own place, spirit or devil or whatever you may be!”
The voice of the Abbot rose high above the roaring of the bursting storm without. The lady seemed to reach an arm across the circle as if even yet to take hold of the young man. The Abbot thrust forward his crucifix.
And then the bolt of God fell. The whole pavilion was illuminated with a flash of light so intense and white that it appeared to blind and burn up all about. The lady was seen no more. The silken covering blazed up. Malise plunged outward into the darkness of the storm, carrying his young master lightly as a child in his arms, while the Abbot kept his feet behind him like a boat in a ship’s wake. The thunder roared overhead like the sea bellowing in a cave’s mouth, and the great pines bent their heads away from the mighty wind, straining and creaking and lashing each other in their blind fury.
Malise and the Abbot seemed to hear about them the plunging of riderless horses as they stumbled downwards through the night, their path lit by lightning flashes, green and lilac and keenest blue, and bearing between them the senseless form of William Earl of Douglas.
THE PRISONING OF MALISE THE SMITH
[Now these things, material to the life and history of William, sixth Earl of Douglas, are not written from hearsay, but were chronicled within his lifetime by one who saw them and had part therein, though the part was but a boy’s one. His manuscript has come down to us and lies before the transcriber. Sholto MacKim, the son of Malise the Smith, testifies to these things in his own clerkly script. He adds particularly that his brother Laurence, being at the time but a boy, had little knowledge of many of the actual facts, and is not to be believed if at any time he should controvert anything which he (Sholto) has written. So far, however, as the present collector and editor can find out, Laurence MacKim appears to have been entirely silent on the subject, at least with his pen, so that his brother’s caveat was superfluous.]