So the Prioress blessed her ere she glided thence in her stately fashion, and the oaken door opened and shut behind her.
Three days later the Abbot visited them alone.
“Foul and accursed witches,” he said, “I come to tell you that next Monday at noon you burn upon the green in front of the Abbey gate, who, were it not for the mercy of the Church, should have been tortured also till you discovered your accomplices, of whom I think that you have many.”
“Show me the King’s warrant for this slaughter,” said Cicely.
“I will show you nothing save the stake, witch. Repent, repent, ere it be too late. Hell and its eternal fires yawn for you.”
“Do they yawn for my child also, my Lord Abbot?”
“Your brat will be taken from you ere you enter the flames and laid upon the ground, since it is baptized and too young to burn. If any have pity on it, good; if not, where it lies, there it will be buried.”
“So be it,” answered Cicely. “God gave it; God save it. In God I put my trust. Murderer, leave me to make my peace with Him,” and she turned and walked away.
Now the Abbot and Emlyn were face to face.
“Do we really burn on Monday?” she asked.
“Without doubt, unless faggots will not take fire. Yet,” he added slowly, “if certain jewels should chance to be found and handed over, the case might be remitted to another Court.”
“And the torment prolonged. My Lord Abbot, I fear that those jewels will never be found.”
“Well, then you burn—slowly, perhaps, for much rain has fallen of late and the wood is green. They say the death is dreadful.”
“Doubtless one day you will find it so, Clement Maldonado, here or hereafter. But of that we will talk together when all is done—of that and many other things. I mean before the Judgment-seat of God. Nay, nay, I do not threaten after your fashion—it shall be so. Meanwhile I ask the boon of a dying woman. There are two whom I would see—the Prioress Matilda, in whose charge I desire to leave a certain secret, and Thomas Bolle, a lay-brother in your Abbey, a man who once engaged himself to me in marriage. For your own sake, deny me not these favours.”
“They should be granted readily enough were it in my power, but it is not,” answered the Abbot, looking at her curiously, for he thought that to them she might tell what she had refused to him—the hiding-place of the jewels, which afterwards he could wring out.
“Why not, my Lord Abbot?”
“Because the Prioress has gone hence, secretly, upon some journey of her own, and Thomas Bolle has vanished away I knew not where. If they, or either of them, return ere Monday you shall see them.”
“And if they do not return I shall see them afterwards,” replied Emlyn, with a shrug of her shoulders. “What does it matter? Fare you well till we meet at the fire, my Lord Abbot.”