Wulf nodded, and next instant two long blades flashed in the moonlight, for the little cloud had passed away. Within a hundred paces of them rose the tall rock, but between it and the mound were two mounted guards. These heard the beating of horses’ hoofs, and wheeling about, stared to see two armed knights sweeping down upon them like a whirlwind. They called to them to stop, hesitating, then rode forward a few paces, as though wondering whether this were not a vision.
In a moment the brethren were on them. The soldiers lifted their lances, but ere they could thrust the sword of Godwin had caught one between neck and shoulder and sunk to his breast bone, while the sword of Wulf, used as a spear, had pierced the other through and through, so that those men fell dead by the door of the mound, never knowing who had slain them.
The brethren pulled upon their bridles and spoke to Flame and Smoke, halting them within a score of yards. Then they wheeled round and sprang from their saddles. One of the dead guards still held his horses’s reins, and the other beast stood by snorting. Godwin caught it before it stirred, then, holding all four of them, threw the key to Wulf and bade him unlock the door. Soon it was done, although he staggered at the task; then he held the horses, while one by one Godwin led them in, and that without trouble, for the beasts thought that this was but a cave-hewn stable of a kind to which they were accustomed.
“What of the dead men?” said Wulf.
“They had best keep us company,” answered Godwin, and, running out, he carried in first one and then the other.
“Swift!” he said, as he threw down the second corpse. “Shut the door. I caught sight of horsemen riding through the trees. Nay, they saw nothing.”
So they locked the massive door and barred it, and with beating hearts waited in the dark, expecting every moment to hear soldiers battering at its timbers. But no sound came; the searchers, if such they were, had passed on to seek elsewhere.
Now while Wulf made shift to fasten up the horses near the mouth of the cave, Godwin gathered stones as large as he could lift, and piled them up against the door, till they knew that it would take many men an hour or more to break through.
For this door was banded with iron and set fast in the living rock.
Then came the weariest time of waiting the brethren had ever known, or were to know, although at first they did not feel it so long and heavy. Water trickled from the walls of this cave, and Wulf, who was parched with thirst, gathered it in his hands and drank till he was satisfied. Then he let it run upon his head to cool its aching; and Godwin bathed such of his brother’s hurts and bruises as could be come at, for he did not dare to remove the hauberk, and so gave him comfort.