Only somehow I don’t think that any of us really believed that we should die, though whether this was because we had all, except poor Quick, survived so much, or from a sneaking faith in Maqueda’s optimistic dreams, I cannot say. At any rate we ate our food with appetite, took exercise in an inner yard of the prison, and strove to grow as strong as we could, feeling that soon we might need all our powers. Oliver was the most miserable among us, not for his own sake, but because, poor fellow, he was haunted with fears as to Maqueda and her fate, although of these he said little or nothing to us. On the other hand, my son Roderick was by far the most cheerful. He had lived for so many years upon the brink of death that this familiar gulf seemed to have no terrors for him.
“All come right somehow, my father,” he said airily. “Who can know what happen? Perhaps Child of King drag us out of mud-hole, for after all she was very strong cow, or what you call it, heifer, and I think toss Joshua if he drive her into corner. Or perhaps other thing occur.”
“What other thing, Roderick?” I asked.
“Oh! don’t know, can’t say, but I think Fung thing. Believe we not done with Fung yet, believe they not run far. Believe they take thought for morrow and come back again. Only,” he added sadly, “hope my wife not come back, for that old girl too full of lofty temper for me. Still, cheer up, not dead yet by long day’s march, and meanwhile food good and this very jolly rest after beastly underground city. Now I tell Professor some more stories about Fung religion, den of lions, and so forth.”
On the morning after this conversation a crisis came. Just as we had finished breakfast the doors of our chamber were thrown open and in marched a number of soldiers wearing Joshua’s badge. They were headed by an officer of his household, who commanded us to rise and follow him.
“Where to?” asked Orme.
“To take your trial before the Child of Kings and her Council, Gentile, upon the charge of having murdered certain of her subjects,” answered the officer sternly.
“That’s all right,” said Higgs with a sigh of relief. “If Maqueda is chairman of the Bench we are pretty certain of an acquittal, for Orme’s sake if not for our own.”
“Don’t you be too sure of that,” I whispered into his ear. “The circumstances are peculiar, and women have been known to change their minds.”
“Adams,” he replied, glaring at me through his smoked spectacles, “If you talk like that we shall quarrel. Maqueda change her mind indeed! Why, it is an insult to suggest such a thing, and if you take my advice you won’t let Oliver hear you. Don’t you remember, man, that she’s in love with him?”
“Oh, yes,” I answered, “but I remember also that Prince Joshua is in love with her, and that she is his prisoner.”