"I'VE brought you a little dog," said Mr. Dalroy, introducing the rampant Quoodle. "I had him brought down here in a large hamper labelled 'Explosives,' a title which appears to have been well selected."
He had bowed to Lady Enid on entering and taken Joan's hand with the least suggestion that he wanted to do something else with it; but he resolutely resumed his conversation, which was on the subject of dogs.
"People who bring back dogs," he said, "are always under a cloud of suspicion. Sometimes it is hideously hinted that the citizen who brings the dog back with him is identical with the citizen who took the dog away with him. In my case, of course, such conduct is inconceivable. But the returners of dogs, that prosperous and increasing class, are also accused," he went on, looking straight at Joan, with blank blue eyes, "of coming back for a Reward. There is more truth in this charge."
Then, with a change of manner more extraordinary than any revolution, even the revolution that was roaring round the house, he took her hand again and kissed it, saying, with a confounding seriousness,
"I know at least that you will pray for my soul."
"You had better pray for mine, if I have one," answered Joan, "but why now?"
"Because," said Patrick, "you will hear from outside, you may even see from that turret window something which in brute fact has never been seen in England since Poor Monmouth's army went down. In spirit and in truth it has not happened since Saladin and Coeur de Lion crashed together. I only add one thing, and that you know already. I have lived loving you and I shall die loving you. It is the only dimension of the Universe in which I have not wandered and gone astray. I leave the dog to guard you;" and he disappeared down the old broken staircase.
Lady Enid was much mystified that no popular pursuit assailed this stair or invaded the house. But Lady Joan knew better. She had gone, on the suggestion she most cared about, into the turret room and looked out of its many windows on to the abandoned copse and tunnel, which were now fenced off with high walls, the boundary of the mysterious property next door. Across that high barrier she could not even see the tunnel, and barely the tops of the tallest trees which hid its entrance from sight. But in an instant she knew that Dalroy was not hurling his forces on Ivywood at all, but on the house and estate beyond it.
And then followed a sight that was not an experience but rather a revolving vision. She could never describe it afterward, nor could any of those involved in so violent and mystical a wheel. She had seen a huge wall of a breaker wash all over the parade at Pebblewick; and wondered that so huge a hammer could be made merely of water. She had never had a notion of what it is like when it is made of men.
The palisade, put up by the new landlord in front of the old tangled ground by the tunnel, she had long regarded as something as settled and ordinary as one of the walls of the drawing room. It swung and split and sprang into a thousand pieces under the mere blow of human bodies bursting with rage; and the great wave crested the obstacle more clearly than she had ever seen any great wave crest the parade. Only, when the fence was broken, she saw behind it something that robbed her of reason; so that she seemed to be living in all ages and all lands at once. She never could describe the vision afterward; but she always denied it was a dream. She said it was worse; it was something more real than reality. It was a line of real soldiers, which is always a magnificent sight. But they might have been the soldiers of Hannibal or of Attila, they might have been dug up from the cemeteries of Sidon and Babylon, for all Joan had to do with them. There, encamped in English meadows, with a hawthorn-tree in front of them and three beeches behind, was something that has never been in camp nearer than some leagues south of Paris, since that Carolus called The Hammer broke it backward at Tours.
There flew the green standard of that great faith and strong civilization which has so often almost entered the great cities of the West; which long encircled Vienna, which was barely barred from Paris; but which had never before been seen in arms on the soil of England. At one end of the line stood Philip Ivywood, in a uniform of his own special creation, a compromise between the Sepoy and the Turkish uniform. The compromise worked more and more wildly in Joan's mind. If any impression remained it was merely that England had conquered India and Turkey had conquered England. Then she saw that Ivywood, for all his uniform, was not the Commander of these forces, for an old man, with a great scar on his face, which was not a European face, set himself in the front of the battle, as if it had been a battle in the old epics, and crossed swords with Patrick Dalroy. He had come to return the scar upon his forehead; and he returned it with many wounds, though at last it was he who sank under the sword thrust. He fell on his face; and Dalroy looked at him with something that is much more great than pity. Blood was flowing from Patrick's wrist and forehead, but he made a salute with his sword. As he was doing so, the corpse, as it appeared, laboriously lifted a face, with feeble eyelids. And, seeming to understand the quarters of the sky by instinct, Oman Pasha dragged himself a foot or so to the left; and fell with his face toward Mecca.
After that the turret turned round and round about Joan and she knew not whether the things she saw were history or prophecy. Something in that last fact of being crushed by the weapons of brown men and yellow, secretly entrenched in English meadows, had made the English what they had not been for centuries. The hawthorn-tree was twisted and broken, as it was at the Battle of Ashdown, when Alfred led his first charge against the Danes. The beech-trees were splashed up to their lowest branches with the mingling of brave heathen and brave Christian blood. She knew no more than that when a column of the Christian rebels, led by Humphrey of the Sign of the Ship, burst through the choked and forgotten tunnel and took the Turkish regiment in the rear, it was the end.
That violent and revolving vision became something beyond the human voice or human ear. She could not intelligently hear even the shots and shouts round the last magnificent rally of the Turks. It was natural, therefore, that she should not hear the words Lord Ivywood addressed to his next-door neighbour, a Turkish officer, or rather to himself. But his words were:
"I have gone where God has never dared to go. I am above the silly supermen as they are above mere men. Where I walk in the Heavens, no man has walked before me; and I am alone in a garden. All this passing about me is like the lonely plucking of garden flowers. I will have this blossom, I will have that."
The sentence ended so suddenly that the officer looked at him, as if expecting him to speak. But he did not speak.
But Patrick and Joan, wandering together in a world made warm and fresh again, as it can be for few in a world that calls courage frenzy and love superstition, feeling every branching tree as a friend with arms open for the man, or every sweeping slope as a great train trailing behind the woman, did one day climb up to the little white cottage that was now the home of the Superman.
He sat playing with a pale, reposeful face, with scraps of flower and weed put before him on a wooden table. He did not notice them, nor anything else around him; scarcely even Enid Wimpole, who attended to all his wants.
"He is perfectly happy," she said quietly.
Joan, with the glow on her dark face, could not prevent herself from replying, "And we are so happy."
"Yes," said Enid, "but his happiness will last," and she wept.
"I understand," said Joan, and kissed her cousin, not without tears of her own.
* * *