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God Wills It! by William Stearns Davis

And Iftikhar foamed out of the room


"Nor

do I ask it. We owe each other--nothing. Go!"

And Iftikhar foamed out of the room, gone as suddenly as he had entered. There was silence for a moment.

"My friends," said Richard, "let us make haste. Shall we not fly?" Morgiana laughed, as so often, very scornfully.

"Verily you Franks are fools. Do you say 'go'? Are you angels with swords of fire, that you can blast ten thousand? Hark! fifty approach the door by which we entered! All the Ismaelians about El Halebah are alarmed. Iftikhar boasts well; we are soon hewn in pieces."

There was indeed a din, hundreds of voices, many torches shaking and flitting about the groves, and coming nearer, dogs barking, armor clanging. The whole cantonment of the Ismaelians was astir to avenge the violation of the palace. Musa had bowed his head.

"Alas! dear brother," said he, after his gentle manner, "clearly Allah has written our dooms! We pass from death to death. But we can now die sword in hand!"

Then Richard held up Trenchefer, so that the reddened blade glittered in the lamplight.

"This is no time to die!" cried he; "let others die! Let us do the deeds God has appointed. The life of my wife, the safety of the army of Christ, are at stake, and with Our Lord's help we shall make our boast over Iftikhar!"

style="text-align: justify;">The others looked at him. For the first time Mary saw that mad fire in his eyes which once burned the hour when he wrested triumph from death at Valmont--a thing terrible to see, but Mary did not quail. In a strange way the sight of him told her they were then not to die; for a prophet stood before her, a prophet whose evangel would be given that night with steel.

Richard surveyed the room. It was square, of no great size, lighted in day by a high lantern. On his right descended the stairway to the arcade of the palace; before him opened the wide door that led down the dark corridor. The door itself was of wood and weak. The winding stairway was steep and narrow; one man could make good the ascent against a host. But to defend the door was nothing easy. Just beyond it the passage widened, making space for numbers. Longsword turned to Morgiana. "Is there no other door?" he demanded.

She shook her head. "None that will open." She tore back the Kerman tapestry, and revealed a solid door in the wall, barred and bolted into the casement. "This door has been sealed for years; the firm wall is little stronger. It leads to another stairway, but the former masters of El Halebah closed it." Duke Godfrey, who had swept the room with a captain's eye, snorted with satisfaction.

"Good!" cried he, "only two entrances to defend. By St. Michael, the _jongleurs_ shall have some brave strokes to sing, before we are amongst the angels!"

Mary looked from one to the other of her terrible protectors. Musa had put off his despair; Richard leaned on Trenchefer, a lion crouching for his spring; Godfrey--terror of the paynims--pranced up and down the doorway, clattering his great blade, and calling on every Moslem devil to draw nigh and be satisfied. Mary knew then, if never before, that to her mighty husband and his peers death was a very pleasant thing, if only it came in knightly guise. There was redoubled din in the passage, more din below the stairway. Richard addressed Musa, "Guard the stairs, the Duke and I can care for the door," and he sprang to Godfrey's side.


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