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.
THE LILIES OF THE VALLEY
‘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!’
‘Save us!’ repeated Farina, with the echo of a deadened soul.
They made the sign of the Cross, and purified the place with holy ejaculations.
’I ’ve seen him at last; grant it be for the last time! That’s my prayer, in the name of the Virgin and Trinity,’ said Guy. ’And now let’s retrace our steps: perchance we shall hunt up that bauble of yours, but I’m not fit for mortal work this night longer.’
Burdened by their black encounter, the two passed again behind the Cathedral. Farina’s hungry glances devoured each footmark of their track. Where the moon held no lantern for him, he went on his knees, and groped for his lost treasure with a miser’s eager patience of agony, drawing his hand slowly over the stony kerb and between the interstices of the thick-sown flints, like an acute-feeling worm. Despair grew heavy in his breast. At every turning he invoked some good new saint to aid him, and ran over all the propitiations his fancy could suggest and his religious lore inspire. By-and-by they reached the head of the street where Margarita dwelt. The moon was dipping down, and paler, as if touched with a warning of dawn. Chill sighs from the open land passed through the spaces of the city. On certain coloured gables and wood-crossed fronts, the white light lingered; but mostly the houses were veiled in dusk, and Gottlieb’s house was confused in the twilight with those of his neighbours, notwithstanding its greater stateliness and the old grandeur of its timbered bulk. They determined to take up their position there again, and paced on, Farina with his head below his shoulders, and Guy nostril in air, as if uneasy in his sense of smell.
On the window-ledge of a fair-fitted domicile stood a flower-pot, a rude earthen construction in the form of a river-barge, wherein grew some valley lilies that drooped their white bells over the sides.