After incessant doubling here and there, listening to footfalls, and themselves eluding a chase which their suspicious movements aroused, they came upon the Rhine. A full flood of moonlight burnished the knightly river in glittering scales, and plates, and rings, as headlong it rolled seaward on from under crag and banner of old chivalry and rapine. Both greeted the scene with a burst of pleasure. The grey mist of flats on the south side glimmered delightful to their sight, coming from that drowsy crowd and press of habitations; but the solemn glory of the river, delaying not, heedless, impassioned-pouring on in some sublime conference between it and heaven to the great marriage of waters, deeply shook Farina’s enamoured heart. The youth could not restrain his tears, as if a magic wand had touched him. He trembled with love; and that delicate bliss which maiden hope first showers upon us like a silver rain when she has taken the shape of some young beauty and plighted us her fair fleeting hand, tenderly embraced him.
As they were emerging into the spaces of the moon, a cheer from the stranger arrested Farina.
’Seest thou? on the wharf there! that is the very one, the tallest of the three. Lakin! but we shall have him.’
Wrapt in a long cloak, with low pointed cap and feather, stood the person indicated. He appeared to be meditating on the flow of the water, unaware of hostile presences, or quite regardless of them. There was a majesty in his height and air, which made the advance of the two upon him more wary and respectful than their first impulse had counselled. They could not read his features, which were mantled behind voluminous folds: all save a pair of very strange eyes, that, even as they gazed directly downward, seemed charged with restless fiery liquid.
The two were close behind him: Guy the Goshawk prepared for one of those fatal pounces on the foe that had won him his title. He consulted Farina mutely, who Nodded readiness; but the instant after, a cry of anguish escaped from the youth:
’Lost! gone! lost! Where is it? where! the arrow! The Silver Arrow! My Margarita!’
Ere the echoes of his voice had ceased lamenting into the distance, they found themselves alone on the wharf.
‘He opened like a bat!’ said the stranger.
‘His shadow was red!’ said Farina.
‘He was off like an arrow!’ said the stranger.
‘Oh! pledge of my young love, how could I lose thee!’ exclaimed the youth, and his eyes were misted with tears.
Guy the Goshawk shook his brown locks gravely.
’Bring me a man, and I ’ll stand up against him, whoever he be, like a man; but this fellow has an ill scent and foreign ways about him, that he has! His eye boils all down my backbone and tingles at my finger-tips. Jesu, save us!’