Chapter Sixteen: The Sultan Saladin
In the third morning Godwin awoke to see the ray of sunrise streaming through the latticed window.
They fell upon another bed near-by where Wulf still lay sleeping, a bandage on his head that had been hurt in the last charge against the Assassins, and other bandages about his arms and body, which were much bruised in the fight upon the dreadful bridge.
Wondrous was it to Godwin to watch him lying there sleeping healthily, notwithstanding his injuries, and to think of what they had gone through together with so little harm; to think, also, of how they had rescued Rosamund out of the very mouth of that earthly hell of which he could see the peaks through the open window-place—out of the very hands of that fiend, its ruler. Reckoning the tale day by day, he reflected on their adventures since they landed at Beirut, and saw how Heaven had guided their every step.
In face of the warnings that were given them, to visit the Al-je-bal in his stronghold had seemed a madness. Yet there, where none could have thought that she would be, they had found Rosamund. There they had been avenged upon the false knight Sir Hugh Lozelle, who had betrayed her, first to Saladin, then to Sinan, and sent him down to death and judgment; and thence they had rescued Rosamund.
Oh, how wise they had been to obey the dying words of their uncle, Sir Andrew, who doubtless was given foresight at the end! God and His saints had helped them, who could not have helped themselves, and His minister had been Masouda. But for Masouda, Rosamund would by now be lost or dead, and they, if their lives were still left to them, would be wanderers in the great land of Syria, seeking for one who never could be found.
Why had Masouda done these things, again and again putting her own life upon the hazard to save theirs and the honour of another woman? As he asked himself the question Godwin felt the red blood rise to his face. Because she hated Sinan, who had murdered her parents and degraded her, she said; and doubtless that had to do with the matter. But it was no longer possible to hide the truth. She loved him, and had loved him from the first hour when they met. He had always suspected it—in that wild trial of the horses upon the mountain side, when she sat with her arms about him and her face pressed against his face; when she kissed his feet after he had saved her from the lion, and many another time.
But as they followed Wulf and Rosamund up the mountain pass while the host of the Assassins thundered at their heels, and in broken gasps she had told him of her sad history, then it was that he grew sure. Then, too, he had said that he held her not vile, but noble, as indeed he did; and, thinking their death upon them, she had answered that she held him dear, and looked on him as a woman looks upon her only love—a message in her eyes that no man could fail to read. Yet if this were so, why had Masouda saved Rosamund, the lady to whom she knew well that he was sworn? Reared among those cruel folk who could wade to their desire through blood and think it honour, would she not have left her rival to her doom, seeing that oaths do not hold beyond the grave?