Theres an obstacle, I observed. The horse doesnt live that can carry me forty miles.
Oh, yes, he doestwo of him: one hereone at the lodge. Now, are you ready?
Im ready, said I.
Fritz held out his hand.
In case, said he; and we shook hands heartily.
Damn your sentiment! growled Sapt. Come along.
He went, not to the door, but to a panel in the wall.
In the old Kings time, said he, I knew this way well.
I followed him, and we walked, as I should estimate, near two hundred yards along a narrow passage. Then we came to a stout oak door. Sapt unlocked it. We passed through, and found ourselves in a quiet street that ran along the back of the Palace gardens. A man was waiting for us with two horses. One was a magnificent bay, up to any weight; the other a sturdy brown. Sapt signed to me to mount the bay. Without a word to the man, we mounted and rode away. The town was full of noise and merriment, but we took secluded ways. My cloak was wrapped over half my face; the capacious flat cap hid every lock of my tell-tale hair. By Sapts directions, I crouched on my saddle, and rode with such a round back as I hope never to exhibit on a horse again. Down a long narrow lane we went, meeting some wanderers and some roisterers; and, as we rode, we heard the Cathedral bells still clanging out their welcome to the King. It was half-past six, and still light. At last we came to the city wall and to a gate.
Have your weapon ready, whispered Sapt. We must stop his mouth, if he talks.
I put my hand on my revolver. Sapt hailed the doorkeeper. The stars fought for us! A little girl of fourteen tripped out.
Please, sir, fathers gone to see the King.
Hed better have stayed here, said Sapt to me, grinning.
But he said I wasnt to open the gate, sir.
Did he, my dear? said Sapt, dismounting. Then give me the key.
The key was in the childs hand. Sapt gave her a crown.
Heres an order from the King. Show it to your father. Orderly, open the gate!
I leapt down. Between us we rolled back the great gate, led our horses out, and closed it again.
I shall be sorry for the doorkeeper if Michael finds out that he wasnt there. Now then, lad, for a canter. We mustnt go too fast while were near the town.
Once, however, outside the city, we ran little danger, for everybody else was inside, merry-making; and as the evening fell we quickened our pace, my splendid horse bounding along under me as though I had been a feather. It was a fine night, and presently the moon appeared. We talked little on the way, and chiefly about the progress we were making.
I wonder what the dukes despatches told him, said I, once.
Ay, I wonder! responded Sapt.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|