“We will not surrender you,” they shouted.
“Comrades, I am still your general, and my order is that you surrender me. Also, I have other orders to give to you. That you guard this lady Heliodore to the last, and that, while one of you remains alive, she shall be to you as though she were that man’s daughter, or mother, or sister, to help and protect as best he may in every circumstance, seen or unforeseen. Further, that with her you guard her father, the noble Egyptian Magas. Will you promise this to me?”
“Aye!” they roared in answer.
“You hear them, Heliodore,” I said. “Know that henceforth you are one of a large family, and, however great your enemies, that you will never lack a friend. Comrades,” I went on, “this is my second order, and perchance the last that I shall ever give to you. Unless you hear that I am evilly treated in the palace yonder, stay quiet. But if that tidings should reach you, then all oaths are broken. Do what you can and will.”
“Aye!” they roared again.
Afterwards what happened? It comes back to me but dimly. I think they swore the Empress on the Blood of Christ that I should go unharmed. I think I embraced Heliodore before them all, and gave her into their keeping. I think I whispered into the ear of Jodd to seek out the Bishop Barnabas, and pray him to get her and her father away to Egypt without delay—yes, even by force, if it were needful. Then I think I left their lines, and that, as I went, leading the Augusta by the hand, they gave to me the general’s salute. That I turned and saluted them in answer ere I yielded myself into the power of my god-father, Stauracius, who greeted me with a false and sickly smile.
THE TRIAL OF OLAF
I know not what time went by before I was put upon my trial, but that trial I can still see as clearly as though it were happening before my eyes. It took place in a long, low room of the vast palace buildings that was lighted only by window-places set high up in the wall. These walls were frescoed, and at the end of the room above the seat of the judges was a rude picture in bright colours of the condemnation of Christ by Pilate. Pilate, I remember, was represented with a black face, to signify his wickedness I suppose, and in the air above him hung a red-eyed imp shaped like a bat who gripped his robe with one claw and whispered into his ear.
There were seven judges, he who presided being a law-officer, and the other six captains of different grades, chosen mostly from among the survivors of those troops whom the Northmen had defeated on the night of the battle in the palace gardens. As this was a military trial, I was allowed no advocate to defend me, nor indeed did I ask for any. The Court, however, was open and crowded with spectators, among whom I saw most of the great officers of the palace, Stauracius with them; also some ladies, one of whom was Martina, my god-mother. The back of the long room was packed with soldiers and others, not all of whom were my enemies.