“I have told you these things because a man should have neither overmuch fear nor any contempt for his enemy, and these paynim are, or may be at any time, our enemies. Our faith must be as this dagger, ready for service by day or night, but for defense, not for assassination. Since Saladin has come to the throne there is a stirring among the tribes that worship the false prophet, and they may be once more dreaming that they may conquer the world for Islam. They can never do it, but they may force us to another Crusade in time. I am on my way to England now to make report to the King of what I have seen. I hope that some day we may meet there. If ever you want work, Sir Gualtier Giffard on the Welsh border will bid you welcome if you say that you were sent by Hugh l’Estrange.”
Moved by sudden impulse Dickon told in a few words the story of Audrey’s service and their promise. The knight held out his hand in open kindliness. “You did well,” he said. “Every man who keeps faith with his neighbor, every good soldier, every wise and gentle monk, and more than all, every true woman, is a link in a great chain that makes for the safety of Christendom. A token is a small thing,—yes—but what is our Cross itself but a token? I would wish my own lad Roger to have acted as you did.”
Before the snows are melted that cradle the
Before the bear and the dormouse rouse from their winter dreams,
Before the earliest linnet flutes forth his roundel clear,
There comes an authentic moment that marks the turn of the year.
A brightness in the sunshine, a hint of life
in the air,
A soft mist veiling the hilltops that were so brown and bare,
Nothing to note or ponder, nothing to see or hear,—
But there is a mystic difference that marks the turn of the year!
Light as the wings of a sea-mew in the rush
of startled flight,
Cool as the touch of clover, shy as the dews of night,
Strong as the love of freedom, sudden as panic fear,
The restless gypsy longing wakes at the turn of the year.
Why do we toil and swelter over the task we
What is to keep us fettered to the benches of sullen Fate?
There is nothing half so fleeting,—there is nothing half so dear
As the unfulfilled desire that comes with the turn of the year!
“Yes,” acknowledged old Tomaso thoughtfully, “I knew Archiater of Byzantium very well at one time,—and yet no one ever really knew much about him. He was more than a clever alchemist,—he was a discoverer of secrets, and a good man. But for all that, he was condemned and executed as a wizard.”
Alan of York said nothing for a minute, but his fist clenched where it lay on the table. “How could such a thing happen?” he said at last in a low voice.