The Prince nodded his head and again was silent for a while. Then he took his beautiful alabaster cup, and pouring wine into it, he drank a little and passed the cup to me.
“Drink also, Ana,” he said, “and pledge me as I pledge you, in token that by decree of the Creator who made the hearts of men, henceforward our two hearts are as the same heart through good and ill, through triumph and defeat, till death takes one of us. Henceforward, Ana, unless you show yourself unworthy, I hide no thought from you.”
Flushing with joy I took the cup, saying:
“I add to your words, O Prince. We are one, not for this life alone but for all the lives to be. Death, O Prince, is, I think, but a single step in the pylon stair which leads at last to that dizzy height whence we see the face of God and hear his voice tell us what and why we are.”
Then I pledged him, and drank, bowing, and he bowed back to me.
“What shall we do with the cup, Ana, the sacred cup that has held this rich heart-wine? Shall I keep it? No, it no longer belongs to me. Shall I give it to you? No, it can never be yours alone. See, we will break the priceless thing.”
Seizing it by its stem with all his strength he struck the cup upon the table. Then what seemed to be to me a marvel happened, for instead of shattering as I thought it surely would, it split in two from rim to foot. Whether this was by chance, or whether the artist who fashioned it in some bygone generation had worked the two halves separately and cunningly cemented them together, to this hour I do not know. At least so it befell.
“This is fortunate, Ana,” said the Prince, laughing a little in his light way. “Now take you the half that lies nearest to you and I will take mine. If you die first I will lay my half upon your breast, and if I die first you shall do the same by me, or if the priests forbid it because I am royal and may not be profaned, cast the thing into my tomb. What should we have done had the alabaster shattered into fragments, Ana, and what omen should we have read in them?”
“Why ask, O Prince, seeing that it has befallen otherwise?”
Then I took my half, laid it against my forehead and hid it in the bosom of my robe, and as I did, so did Seti.
So in this strange fashion the royal Seti and I sealed the holy compact of our brotherhood, as I think not for the first time or the last.
Seti rose, stretching out his arms.
“That is finished,” he said, “as everything finishes, and for once I am sorry. Now what next? Sleep, I suppose, in which all ends, or perhaps you would say all begins.”
As he spoke the curtains at the end of the room were drawn and between them appeared the chamberlain, Pambasa, holding his gold-tipped wand ceremoniously before him.