“As you will; so be it,” adding, “Give these envoys food and drink before they go.”
But their spokesman answered: “We partake not of the bread and salt of murderers, lest we should become of their fellowship. Al-je-bal, we depart, but within a week we appear again in the company of ten thousand spears, and on one of them shall your head be set. Your safe-conduct guards us till the sunset. After that, do your worst, as we do ours. High Princess, our counsel to you is that you slay yourself and so gain immortal honour.”
Then, bowing to her one by one, they turned and marched down the terrace followed by their servants.
Now Sinan waved his hand and the court broke up, Rosamund leaving it first, accompanied by Masouda and escorted by guards, after which the brethren were commanded to depart also.
So they went, talking earnestly of all these things, but save in God finding no hope at all.
Chapter Fourteen: The Combat on the Bridge
“Saladin will come,” said Wulf the hopeful, and from the high place where they stood he pointed to the plain beneath, across which a band of horsemen moved at full gallop. “Look; yonder goes his embassy.”
“Ay,” answered Godwin, “he will come, but, I fear me, too late.”
“Yes, brother, unless we go to meet him. Masouda has promised.”
“Masouda,” sighed Godwin. “Ah! to think that so much should hang upon the faithfulness of one woman.”
“It does not hang on her,” said Wulf; “it hangs on Fate, who writes with her finger. Come, let us ride.”
So, followed by their escort, they rode in the gardens, taking note, without seeming to do so, of the position of the tall rock, and of how it could be approached from every side. Then they went in again and waited for some sign or word of Rosamund, but in vain. That night there was no feast, and their meal was brought to them in the guest-house. While they sat at it Masouda appeared for a moment to tell them that they had leave to ride the bridge in the moonlight, and that their escort would await them at a certain hour.
The brethren asked if their sister Rosamund was not coming to dine with them. Masouda answered that as the queen-elect of the Al-je-bal it was not lawful that she should eat with any other men, even her brothers. Then as she passed out, stumbling as though by accident, she brushed against Godwin, and muttered:
“Remember, to-night,” and was gone.
When the moon had been up an hour the officer of their escort appeared, and led them to their horses, which were waiting, and they rode away to the castle bridge. As they approached it they saw Lozelle departing on his great black stallion, which was in a lather of foam. It seemed that he also had made trial of that perilous path, for the people, of whom there were many gathered there, clapped their hands and shouted, “Well ridden, Frank! well ridden!”