Hy-Brasail gleams with its towers of beryl,
Tourmaline, hyacinth, topaz and pearl,
Free to the King if he have but the pass-word,
Free to the veriest low-born churl.
For Earth levels all who have known her and
And the soul fares forth where the great stars guide
On the viewless path of the calling waters—
Out to Hy-Brasail upon the tide!
THE END OF A PILGRIMAGE
Eleanor and Roger sat together in their own especial loop-hole window. When that window was new and they were little, the great stone hall with its massive arches was unfamiliar and lonely to them, and they liked to sit apart in this nook that seemed made for them. Four steps led up to it, a stone seat was within it, and it was at a comfortable distance from the warmth of the fire. Sitting there, they could look out upon the changeful beautiful landscape, or down upon the doings in the hall.
Now all the land was blanketed with heavy snow. The tree-trunks were charcoal-black under the stars; lights twinkled in the huts at the foot of the hill; the frozen river made no sound beneath the castle wall. Cattle and sheep were snug and safe in the byres, guarded by the wise watch-dogs. Very far away in the woods an owl hooted.
It was the beginning of Yule, in that breathing-time before the holiday begins, when one gets the fine aroma of its pleasure. The festivities this year would be greater than ever before, for a new banquet-hall was to be opened with the Christmas feast. This hall was the realized dream of years. Thus far the only place for entertainments had been the hall of the keep, which was also the living-room of the household. The new hall was a separate one-story building, not unlike a barn in shape, spacious enough for thirty or forty guests with their retainers and servants. Its red tiled roof, raised upon seasoned beams two or three feet thick, made an imposing show. The doorway took in almost half of one end and was lofty enough for a standard-bearer to come in without dipping his banner. There was a fireplace near the middle of one side, with a hooded stone arch to draw the smoke upward and outward. Opposite was a musicians’ gallery of paneled oak, supported by corbels of stone placed about eight feet above the floor. A dais was built at the other end of the building from the entrance, for the master’s table, and from this a smaller door opened into a stone passageway leading to the castle, while near it another door, leading to the kitchens, was placed. The stone walls were wainscoted about halfway up, and plastered above, the plaster being first painted a golden brown and then decorated with a pattern of stiff small flowers and leaves in green, red, bright blue and a little gilding. The floor was of stone blocks laid in a pattern of black and gray, and two steps led from the dais to the lower part of the hall. At intervals along the upper part of the walls were cressets of wrought iron in which to set torches, and above the dais were silver sconces for large wax candles. At intervals also were hooks of ornamental iron-work, from which to hang tapestries by their metal rings.