“Then we are safe, Olaf, since this damp would disarrange her hair, which, I noted, is curled with irons, not by Nature, like my own. Oh! Olaf, Olaf, how wonderful is the fate that has brought us together. I say that when I saw you yonder in the cathedral for the first time since I was born, I knew you again, as you knew me. That is why, when you whispered to me, ‘Greeting after the ages,’ I gave you back your welcome. I know nothing of the past. If we lived and loved before, that tale is lost to me. But there’s your dream and there’s the necklace. When I was a child, Olaf, it was taken from the embalmed body of some royal woman, who, by tradition, was of my own race, yes, and by records of which my father can tell you, for he is among the last who can still read the writing of the old Egyptians. Moreover, she was very like me, Olaf, for I remember her well as she lay in her coffin, preserved by arts which the Egyptians had. She was young, not much older than I am to-day, and her story tells that she died in giving birth to a son, who grew up a strong and vigorous man, and although he was but half royal, founded a new dynasty in Egypt and became my forefather. This necklace lay upon her breast, and beneath it a writing on papyrus, which said that when the half of it which was lost should be joined again to that half, then those who had worn them would meet once more as mortals. Now the two halves of the necklace have met, and we have met as God decreed, and it is one and we are one for ever and for ever, let every Empress of the earth do what they will to part us.”
“Aye,” I answered, embracing her again, “we are one for ever and for ever, though perchance for a while we may be separated from time to time.”
VICTORY OR VALHALLA!
A minute later I heard a rustle as of branches being moved by people thrusting their way through them. A choked voice commanded,
“Take him living or dead.”
Armed men appeared about us, four of them, and one cried “Yield!”
I sprang up and drew the Wanderer’s sword.
“Who orders the General Michael to yield in his own command?” I asked.
“I do,” answered the man. “Yield or die!”
Now, thinking that these were robbers or murderers hired by some enemy, I sprang at him, nor was that battle long, for at my first stroke he fell dead. Then the other three set on me. But I wore mail beneath my doublet, as Irene had bade me do, and their swords glanced. Moreover, the old northern rage entered into me, and these easterners were no match for my skill and strength. First one and then another of them went down, whereon the third fled away, taking with him a grizzly wound behind, for I struck him as he fled.
“Now it seems there is an end of that,” I gasped to Heliodore, who was crouched upon the seat. “Come, let me take you to your father and summon my guards, ere we meet more of these murderers.”