Then with a sudden movement she upset the bowl upon the table and watched him go.
EMLYN CALLS HER MAN
One by one the weeks passed over the heads of Cicely and Emlyn in their prison, and brought them neither hope nor tidings. Indeed, although they could not see its cords, they felt that the evil net which held them was drawing ever tighter. There were fear and pity as well as love in the eyes of Mother Matilda when she looked at Cicely, which she did only if she thought that no one observed her. The nuns also were afraid, though it was clear that they knew not of what. One evening Emlyn, finding the Prioress alone, sprang questions on her, asking what was in the wind, and why her lady, a free woman of full age, was detained there against her will.
The old nun’s face grew secret. She answered that she did not know of anything unusual, and that, as regarded the detention, she must obey the commands of her spiritual superior.
“Then,” burst out Emlyn, “I tell you that you do so at your peril. I tell you that whether my lady lives or dies, there are those who will call you to a strict account, aye, and those who will listen to the prayer of the helpless. Mother Matilda, England is not the land it was when as a girl they buried you in these mouldy walls. Where does God say that you have the right to hold free women like felons in a jail? Tell me.”
“I cannot,” moaned Mother Matilda, wringing her thin hands. “The right is very hard to find, this place is strictly guarded, and whatever I may think, I must do what I am bid, lest my soul should suffer.”
“Your soul! You cloistered women think always of your miserable souls, but of those of other folk, aye, and of their bodies too, nothing. Then you’ll not help me?”
“I cannot, I cannot, who am myself in bonds,” she replied again.
“So be it, Mother; then I’ll help myself, and when I do, God help you all,” and with a contemptuous shrug of her broad shoulders she walked away, leaving the poor old Prioress almost in tears.
Emlyn’s threats were bold as her own heart, but how could she execute even a tenth of them? The right was on their side, indeed, but, as many a captive has found in those and other days, right is no Joshua’s trumpet to cause high walls to fall. Moreover, Cicely would not aid her. Now that her husband was dead she took interest in one thing only—his child who was to be.
For the rest she seemed to care nothing. Since she had no friends with whom she could communicate, and her wealth, as she understood, had been taken from her, what better place, she asked, could there be for that child to see the light than in this quiet Nunnery? When it was born and she was well again she would consider other matters. Meanwhile she was languid, and why was Emlyn always prating to her of freedom? If she were free, what should she do and whither should she go? The nuns were very kind to her; they loved her as she did them.