“It may not be loosed on earth or in heaven,” replied Emlyn solemnly, “yet perchance the sword can cut it. Sir Christopher, I think that we should all do well to travel as soon as may be.”
“Not to-night, surely, Nurse!” he exclaimed.
“No, not to-night,” she answered, with a faint smile. “Your wife has had a weary day, and could not. Moreover, preparation must be made which is impossible at this hour. But to-morrow, if the roads are open to you, I think we should start for London, where she may make complaint of her father’s slaying and claim her heritage and the protection of the law.”
“That is good counsel,” said the vicar, and Christopher, with whom words seemed to be few, nodded his head.
“Meanwhile,” went on Emlyn, “you have six men in this house and others round it. Send out a messenger and summon them all here at dawn, bidding them bring provision with them, and what bows and arms they have. Set a watch also, and after the Father and the messenger have gone, command that the drawbridge be triced.”
“What do you fear?” he asked, waking from his dream.
“I fear the Abbot of Blossholme and his hired ruffians, who reck little of the laws, as the soul of dead Sir John knows now, or can use them as a cover to evil deeds. He’ll not let such a prize slip between his fingers if he can help it, and the times are turbulent.”
“Alas! alas! it is true,” said Father Roger, “and that Abbot is a relentless man who sticks at nothing, having much wealth and many friends both here and beyond the seas. Yet surely he would never dare——”
“That we shall learn,” interrupted Emlyn. “Meanwhile, Sir Christopher, rouse yourself and give the orders.”
So Christopher summoned his men and spoke words to them at which they looked very grave, but being true-hearted fellows who loved him, said they would do his bidding.
A while later, having written out a copy of the marriage lines and witnessed it, Father Roger departed with the messenger. The drawbridge was hoisted above the moat, the doors were barred, and a man set to watch in the gateway tower, while Christopher, forgetful of all else, even of the danger in which they were, sought the company of her who waited for him.
THE ABBOT’S OATH
On the following morning, shortly after it was light, Christopher was called from his chamber by Emlyn, who gave him a letter.
“Whence came this?” he asked, turning it over suspiciously.
“A messenger has brought it from Blossholme Abbey,” she answered.
“Wife Cicely,” he called through the door, “come hither if you will.”
Presently she appeared, looking quaint and lovely in her long fur cloak, and, having embraced her foster-mother, asked what was the matter.
“This, my darling,” he answered, handing her the paper. “I never loved book-learnings over-much, and this morn I seem to hate them; read, you who are more scholarly.”