Open main menu

Page:Harris Dickson--The black wolf's breed.djvu/309

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

my soul. It can not, can not be, this other world where men receive the reward or punishment drawn upon themselves in this. Thou liest, thou canting monk-faced coward; it is all a lie of priestcraft.

"There is no God, no Hell; no, I will not, will not believe it. Get thee hence before I drive thee to the gibbet and fling thy quarters to hawk and hound."

We crossed ourselves in horror, kissing the piece of the true cross, fearing his presence and terrible blasphemy would draw a bolt from Heaven. But there he stood, for some divine purpose secure in his body from the vengeance of God.

So fierce a fire consumed his strength he sank again in mortal weakness on his couch.

We watched him long. He gazed as one fixed by an evil eye, through the open window straight toward an ancient well across the court-yard.

He mumbled words whereof we could only guess the import. He raised a long, thin finger, knotted at the joints, and pointed to the well:

"Do you hear it? Oh, mother, mother, it was your doing! Listen now. Dost hear their cries in Hell? See, see, the body turns and swings, softly, softly," and he covered his face, uttering the most plaintive cries.

He started up again and went to the window, stretching out his arm as before. We could see nothing but the court and old well, long dry of water.

"See, there she is; see, see; I come, I come."

And regarding not our sacred relics or adjurations, he passed out the door, down the stair of winding stone, through the men who, palsied by craven fears, put not forth their hands to stay; staring before him with wide-open eyes which saw not, d'Ortez strode through them all into the vacant court-yard.

No pause he made, but straightway went toward the well, whither—at some distance be it humbly confessed—we followed.

At first he but peered within and listened; then he stood quiet for a space, as if he waited, for what we could not tell.

None of us being sufficiently near to prevent, and the power of the demon prevailing over weak and mortal flesh, he mounted the curb, and, amid the most horrid shrieks, cursings and revilings