Dick stepped forward and looked.
“An omen, not a challenge, I think. Come and see for yourself,” he said.
This is what Hugh saw: Fixed to the post by a shaft which pierced it and the carved olivewood from side to side, was the helm that they had stripped from the body of Sir Pierre de la Roche; the helm of Sir Edmund Acour, which Sir Pierre had worn at Crecy and Dick had tumbled out of his sack in the presence of the Doge before Cattrina’s face. On his return to the house of Sir Geoffrey Carleon he had set it down in the centre of the open window-place and left it there when they went out to survey the ground where they must fight upon the morrow.
Having studied it for a moment, Dick went to the door and called to David.
“Friend,” he said, standing between him and the bed, so that he could see nothing, “what was it that just now I told you was in my mind when yonder Murgh asked me at what target he should shoot with my bow on the Place of Arms?”
“A knight’s helm,” answered David, “which stood in the window of your room at the ambassador’s house—a knight’s helmet that had a swan for its crest.”
“You hear?” said Dick to Hugh; “now come, both of you, and see. What is that which hangs upon the bed-post? Answer you, David, for perchance my sight is bewitched.”
“A knight’s helm,” answered David, “bearing the crest of a floating swan and held there by an arrow which has pierced it through.”
“What was the arrow like which I gave this night to one Murgh, master?” asked Dick again.
“It was a war shaft having two black feathers and the third white but chequered with four black spots and a smear of brown,” answered Hugh.
“Then is that the same arrow, master, which this Murgh loosed from more than a mile away?”
Hugh examined it with care. Thrice he examined it, point and shaft and feathers. Then in a low voice he answered:
AT THE PLACE OF ARMS
Notwithstanding all that has been told, Hugh and Dick never slept more soundly than they did that night, nor was their rest broken by any dreams. At half past five in the morning—for they must be stirring early—David came to call them. He too, it seemed, had slept well. Also in the light of day the worst of his fear had left him.
“I am wondering, Sir Hugh,” he said, looking at him curiously, “whether I saw certain things last night down yonder at the Place of Arms and in the boat, or whether I thought I saw them.”
“Doubtless you thought you saw them, David,” answered Hugh, adding with meaning, “and it is not always well to talk of things we think that we have seen.”
The lad, who was sharp enough, nodded. But as he turned to hand Hugh some garment his eye fell upon the swan-crested helm that was still nailed by the long war-shaft with two black feathers and one white to the carved olivewood post of the bed.