Passing the reins over his left arm, Wulf leapt upon the back of his own horse, and turned it. Ten seconds more, and the pirates, who were gathering with the oars where the paths joined at the root of the causeway, saw the two great horses thundering down upon them. On one a sore wounded man, his bright hair dabbled with blood, his hands gripping mane and saddle, and on the other the warrior Wulf, with starting eyes and a face like the face of a flame, shaking his red sword, and for the second time that day shouting aloud: “A D’Arcy! a D’Arcy! Contre D’Arcy, contre Mort!”
They saw, they shouted, they massed themselves together and held up the oars to meet them. But Wulf spurred fiercely, and, short as was the way, the heavy horses, trained to tourney, gathered their speed. Now they were on them. The oars were swept aside like reeds; all round them flashed the swords, and Wulf felt that he was hurt, he knew not where. But his sword flashed also, one blow—there was no time for more—yet the man beneath it sank like an empty sack.
By St. Peter! They were through, and Godwin still swayed upon the saddle, and yonder, nearing the further shore, the grey horse with its burden still battled in the tide. They were through! they were through! while to Wulf’s eyes the air swam red, and the earth seemed as though it rose up to meet them, and everywhere was flaming fire.
But the shouts had died away behind them, and the only sound was the sound of the galloping of their horses’ hoofs. Then that also grew faint and died away, and silence and darkness fell upon the mind of Wulf.
Godwin dreamed that he was dead, and that beneath him floated the world, a glowing ball, while he was borne to and fro through the blackness, stretched upon a couch of ebony. There were bright watchers by his couch also, watchers twain, and he knew them for his guardian angels, given him at birth. Moreover, now and again presences would come and question the watchers who sat at his head and foot. One asked:
“Has this soul sinned?” And the angel at his head answered:
“It has sinned.”
Again the voice asked: “Did it die shriven of its sins?”
The angel answered: “It died unshriven, red sword aloft, fighting a good fight.”
“Fighting for the Cross of Christ?”
“Nay; fighting for a woman.”
“Alas! poor soul, sinful and unshriven, who died fighting for a woman’s love. How shall such a one find mercy?” wailed the questioning voice, growing ever fainter, till it was lost far, far away.
Now came another visitor. It was his father—the warrior sire whom he had never seen, who fell in Syria. Godwin knew him well, for the face was the face carven on the tomb in Stangate church, and he wore the blood-red cross upon his mail, and the D’Arcy Death’s-head was on his shield, and in his hand shone a naked sword.