“And at the foot of the grave you, Hugh de Cressi, you and no other, wayworn and fierce, but also clad in mail, and wearing a knight’s crest upon your shield. You with drawn sword in hand, and facing you, also with drawn sword, rage and despair on his dark face, a stately, foreign-looking man, whom mine eyes have never seen, but whom I should know again midst a million, a man who, I think, was doomed to fill the grave.
“Lastly, standing on a little mound near to the bank of the swirling river, where jagged sheets of ice ground against each other like the teeth of the wicked in hell, strangely capped and clad in black, his arms crossed upon his breast and a light smile in his cold eyes, he who was called Murgh in Cathay, he who named himself Gateway of the Gods!
“For a moment I saw, then all was gone, and I found myself—I know not why—walking toward the mighty arch whereon sat the iron dragons. In its shadow I turned and looked back. There at the head of the pool the man was seated in his chair, and to right and to left of him came the black doves and the white doves in countless multitudes, all the thousands of them that had been stayed in their flight pouring down upon him at once—or so I thought. They wheeled about his head, they hid his face from me, and I—I departed into the shadow of the arch, and I saw him and them no more.”
The tale was done, and these two stood staring at one another from each side of the glowing hearth, whose red light illumined their faces. At length the heavy silence was broken by Sir Andrew.
“I read your heart, Hugh,” he said, “as Murgh read mine, for I think that he gave me not only strength, but something of his wisdom also, whereby I was able to win safe back to England and to this hour to walk unharmed by many a pit. I read your heart, and in its book is written that you think me mad, one who pleases his old age with tales of marvel that others told him, or which his own brain fashioned.”
“Not so, Father,” answered Hugh uneasily, for in truth some such thoughts were passing through his mind. “Only—only the thing is very strange, and it happened so long ago, before Eve and I were born, before those that begot us were born either, perchance.”
“Yes; more than fifty years ago—it may be sixty—I forget. In sixty years the memory plays strange tricks with men, no doubt, so how can I blame you if you believe—what you do believe? And yet, Hugh,” he went on after a pause, and speaking with passion, “this was no dream of which I tell you. Why do you suppose that among all those that have grown up about me I have chosen you out to love, you and your Eve? Not because a chance made me your godsire and her my pupil. I say that from your infancy your faces haunted me. Ay, and when you had turned childhood’s corner and once I met the pair of you walking hand