When I come to look back upon that Saxon period, spent in the green 
shades of my sweet franklin's homestead, it seems, perhaps, that never 
was there a time so peaceful before in the experience of this passion-tossed 
existence. We hunted and we hawked, we feasted and we lay abask in the 
sunshine of a jolly idle life all these luxurious months, drinking scorn and 
confusion amid our nightly flagons to remote care and (as it seemed) 
remoter Normans.

But first to tell you how I won the right to lord it over these merry Saxon 
churls and dissolute thanes. Editha had hardly come to her home and 
dried, in a day or two, her weeping eyes, when all the noble vagrants from 
yonder battle were up in arms to woo her. Never was maid so sued! From 
morning till night there was no rest or peace. From the uppermost bower 
looking over the fair English glades, down into the thickets of nut and 
hazel, the air reeked of love and petitions. The mighty Dane, like a sick 
bear, slept upon her curtained threshold and growled amorousness into 
her timid ear before the sun was up. The Welsh prince wooed her all her 
breakfast-time, and his tawny harper spent many a golden morning in 
outlining his noble patron's genealogy. In faith -- ap Tudor, ap Griffith, ap 
Morgan, ap Huge, and I know not how many others, it seemed all had a 
hand in the making of that paragon -- but Editha blushed and said she 
feared one Saxon girl was all too few for so many. They besought her up 
and down, night and morning, full and empty, to wed them. The English 
princelings dogged her footsteps when she went afield, and Torquil and 
Wulfhere, those bandaged lovers, were ready for her with sighs and 
plaintive proposals when she came flitting, frightened and fearful, home 
through the bracken.

How could this end but in one way for the defenseless girl? She was sued 
so much and sued so hot that one day she came creeping like a bunted 
animal to the turret nook where I sat


brooding over my fortunes, and timorous and shy begged me to help her. 
I stood up and touched her yellow disheveled hair, and told her there was 
but one way -- and Editha knew it as well as any one -- and had made her 
choice and slipped into my arms and was happy.

That was as noisy a wedding as ever had been in Voewood. Editha freed a 
hundred serfs, and all day long the noise of files on their iron collars 
echoed through her halls. She fed at the door every miscreant or beggar 
who could crawl or hobble there, and remitted her taxes to a score of 
poorer villains.

In the hall such noisy revelers as the rejected suitors surely never were 
seen. They began that wedding-feast in the morning, and it was not 
finished by night. To me, who had so lately supped amid the costly detail, 
the magnificent and cultivated license of a patrician Roman table, these 
Saxon rioters seemed scrambling, hungry dogs. Where Electra would taunt 
her haughty courtiers over loaded tables which the art of three empires 
had furnished, firing her cruel witty arrows of spite and arrogance from 
her rose-strewn couches, these rough, uncivil woodland peers but 
wallowed in their ceaseless flow of muddy ale, gorged themselves to sleep 
with the gross flesh of their acorn-fed swine, and sung such songs and told 
such tales as made even me, indifferent, to scowl upon them and wonder 
that their kinswoman and her handmaids could sit and seem unwotting of 
their gross, obscene, and noisy revels.

And late that night blood was nearly spilled upon the oaken floor of 
Voewood. The thanes had fairly pocketed their disappointment, but now, 
deep in drink and stuffed with food and courage, they began to eye me 
and my thin-hid scorn askance, and then presently, like the mutter of a 
quick-coming storm, came the whisper, "Why should she fall to the 
stranger? Why? Why?" It flew round the tables like wildfire, and half-
emptied beakers were set down, and untasted food stopped on its way to 
the mouth, and then, all on a sudden, the drunken chiefs were on foot 
advancing to the upper table, where I sat by Editha's right hand, their 
daggers agleam in the torch-light shining upon their red and angry faces as 
they came tumbling and shouting toward us, "Death to the black-haired 
stranger! Voewood for a Saxon! Why should he win her?"

'Tis not my fashion to let the foeman come far to seek me, and I was up in 
an instant -- overturning the table with all its wines and meats -- and, 
whipping out my sword, I leaped into the middle of the rushy space before 


"Why?" I shouted. "Why? you drunken, Norman-beaten dogs, why? 
Because, by Thor and Odin! by all the bones of Hengist and his brother! I 
can throw a straighter javelin, and whirl a heavier sword, and sit a fiercer 
steed than any of you. Why? Because my heart is stronger than any that 
ever beat under your dirty scullion doublets. Why? Because I scorn and 
spit upon and deride you!"

It was braggart boasting, but I noticed the Saxons liked their talk of that 
complexion. And in this case it was successful. The princes stood hesitating 
and staring as I towered before them, fiery and disdainful, in the red 
gleaming banquet lights; until presently the youngest there burst into a 
merry laugh to see them all thus at bay, chewing the hilts of their angry 
daggers, and each one waiting for his neighbor to prove himself the 
braver by lying first upon my weapon. That laugh had hardly reached the 
ruddy oaken rafters overhead when it was joined by a score of others, and 
in a moment those willful Saxon lordlings were all laughing and jerking 
back their steels, and scrambling into their supper-places as if they had not 
broken their fast since morning and I were their mother's son.

Deep were their flagons that night, after the women had stolen away, and 
Idwal ap Cynan filled the hall with wild Welsh harping that stirred my soul 
like a battle-call; for it was in my dear British tongue, and full of the color, 
light, and the life that had illuminated the first page of my long pilgrimage. 
And the Saxon gleemen, not to be outdone, each sung the song that 
pleased him best; and the Welshman strove to drown them with his 
harping; and the thanes sung, all at once, whatever songs were noisiest 
and most licentious. Mighty was the fire that roared up the open hearth-
place; deep was the breathing of vanquished warriors from under the 
tables; red was the spilled wine upon the floor -- when presently they put 
me upon a trestle, and, bearing me round the hall in discordant triumph, 
finally bore me away to the inner corridors, and left me at a portal where I 
never yet had entered!

There is but little to say of that quiet Saxon rest that befell me in pleasant 
Voewood. Between each line I pen you must suppose an episode of 
pleasure. In the spring-time, when the wood were shot with a carpet of 
blue and yellow flowers, we lay a-basking in the sunny angles or rode out 
to count our swine and fallow deer. In the summer, when all Editha's 
mighty woodlands were like fair endless colonnades, we basked amid the 
dickering shadows and watched the sunny sheen


upon the tree-tops, to the orchestra of little birds. And autumn, that 
touched the vassals' corn-clearings with yellow, saw my proud Norman 
charger grow fat and gross with new grain. September rains and mist 
rusted my silent weapon into its sheath; even winter, that heard the 
woodman's ax upon the forest trees, and saw bird and beast and men and 
kine draw into the gentle bounty of my white-handed lady, was but a 
long, inglorious holiday of another sort.

Many and many a time, in those merry months, did this Phoenician laugh 
to his mirror to see how fitly he could wear upon his Eastern-British-
Roman body the Danish-Saxon-English tunic! It was all of fine linen the 
franklin's own fair fingers had spun, and pointed and tasseled and 
particolorcd, and his legs were cross-gartered to his knees, and his little 
luncheon~dagger hung by his jeweled belt, and a fillet of pure English gold 
bound down the long black locks that fell upon his shoulders. Every 
morning Editha combed them out with her silver comb, and double-
peaked his beard, kissing and saying it was the best in all Voewood. He 
had more servants than necessities in those times, and almost his only 
grievance was a lack of wants.

The Normans for long had left us wholly alone, partly through the usurper 
cunning which prompted our new tyrant to deal gently with those who 
had stood in arms against him, but principally in our case since the strong 
tide of invasion

had swept northward beyond us, and Voewood slept unharmed, 
unnoticed among its green solitudes -- a Saxon homestead as it had been 
since Hengist's white horse first flaunted upon an English breeze and the 
seven kingdoms sprung from the ashes of old Roman Britain.

So we lived light-hearted from day to day, forgetting all about the battle 
by Senlac, and drinking, as I have said, in our evening wassails confusion 
and scorn of the invaders who seemed so distant. It was a good time, and I 
have little to note of it. Many were the big boars which died upon my 
eager spear down in the morasses to the southward, and I came to love 
my casts of tiercelets and my hounds as though I had been born to a 
woodman's cape and had watched the fens for hernshaws and followed 
the slot of wounded deers from my youth upward.

All these things led me into many a wild adventure and many a desperate 
strait; but one of them stands out from the rest upon the crowded pages of 
my memory. I had, one day when Editha was with me, mounted as she 
would be upon her palfrey, slipped the dogs upon a stag an arrow of mine 


wounded in the foreleg, and, excited by the chase and reluctant as ever to 
turn back from an unaccomplished purpose, we followed far into the 
unknown distances, and all beyond our reckonings. I had let my that shaft 
at midday, and at sundown the stag was still afoot, the dogs close behind 
him, and I, indomitable, muddy, and torn from head to foot, but with all 
the hunter instinct hot within me, was pressing on by my Saxon's bridle 
rein. Endless, rough, and tangled miles had we run and scrambled in that 
lengthy chase, and neither of us had noticed the way, or how angry the 
sun was setting in the west.

Thus it came about that when the noble hart at length stood at bay in the 
lichened coverts under a bushy crag, there was hardly breath in me to 
cheer the weary dogs upon him, and hardly light enough to aim the swift 
thrust of my subduing javelin which laid him dead and bleeding at our 
feet. Yes, and before I could cut a hunter's supper from that glossy haunch, 
the doom of the sky closed down from east to west, and the first heavy 
drops of the evening rain came pattering upon the leaves overhead. Thor! 
how black it grew as the wind began to whistle through the branches and 
the murky clouds to fly across the face of the somber heaven, while 
neither east nor west could any limit be seen to the interminable 
vastnesses of the endless woodlands! In vain was it we struggled for a time 
back upon our footsteps, and then even those were lost; and, as the sky in 
the east burned an angry yellow for a moment before the remorseless 
night set in, it gave us just light to see we were hopelessly mazed in the 
labyrinths of the huge and lonely forest.

It was thus we turned to take such shelter as might offer, and that gleam 
shone for a moment pallid, yellow, and ghastly upon a cluster of gray 
stones, standing on a grassy mound a quarter of a mile away. Thither we 
struggled through the black mazes of the storm, the headlong rain 
whistling through the misty thickets like flights of innumerable arrows, the 
angry wind lashing the tree-tops. into bitter complaining, and waving 
abroad (in the sodden, dismal twilight) all the long beards of goblin lichens 
hanging in ghostly tapestry across our path that dreary October evening.

Reeling and plunging to the shelter through a black world of tangled 
witnesses, with that mocking gleam behind shining like a window of the 
nether world, and overhead a gaunt, hurrying array of cloudy forms, we 
were presently upon the coppice outskirt, and there I stopped as though I 
had grown to the ground


I stopped before that great gaunt amphitheater of gray stones and stared 
and stared before me as though I were bereft of sense. I rubbed my eyes 
and pointed with trembling, silent finger, and looked again and again, 
While the Saxon girl crouched to my side, and my hounds whined and 
shivered at my feet, for there, incredible! monstrous! yellow and shining in 
the pallid derision of the twilight, stern, hoary, ruinous, mocking -- 
overthrown and piled one upon another, clasped about their feet by the 
knotted fingers of the woodland growth, swathed in the rocking mists 
which gave a horrid life to their cruel, infernal deadness, were the stones, 
the very stones of that Druid altar-place upon which I was sacrificed nearly 
a thousand years before!

Here was a pretty welcome. here was a cheerful harborage. What man 
ever born of a woman who would not have been dazed and dumfounded 
at this sudden confronting -- this extraordinary reminiscence of the long-
forgotten? It overwhelmed for the moment even me -- me, Phra the 
Phoenician, to whom the red harvest fields of war are pleasant places, who 
have dallied with the infinite, and have been a melancholy coadjutor of 
Time itself. Even me, who never sought to live, yet live endlessly by my 
very negligence -- who have received from the gods that gift of existence 
that others ask of unanswered.

I might have stood there as stolid and grim as any one of those ancient 
monoliths all through the storm, but for the dear one by my side. Her 
nestling presence roused me, and, gulping down the last of my 
astonishment, and seeing no respite in the yellow eye of the night over my 
shoulder, I took the hand that lay in mine with such gentle trust, and, with 
a strange feeling of awe, led her into the magic circle of the old religion.

The very altar of my dispatch was still there in the center, but time and 
forest creatures had worn out from under that mighty slab a little 
chamber, roofed with that vast flagstone and sided by its three supports -- 
a space perhaps no bigger than the cabin of my first trading felucca, yet 
into this we crept, with the reluctant hounds behind us, while the tempest 
thundered round, and, loath to lose us, sought here and there, piping in 
strange keys among those time-worn relics of cruelty, and singing uncouth 
choruses down every crevice of our wild retreat.

Pleasure and pain are sisters, and the little needs of life must be fulfilled in 
every hour. I comforted my comrade, piling for her a rough couch of the 
broken litter upon the


floor, stuffing up the crannies as well as might be with damp sods, and 
then making her a fire. This latter I effected with some charcoal and 
burned ends of wood that lay upon an old shepherd's hearth in the center 
of the chamber, and we kept it going with a little store of wood which the 
same absent wanderer had gathered in one corner, but had failed to use. 
More; not only did we mend our circumstances by a ruddy blaze that 
danced fantastically upon our rugged walls and set our reeking clothes 
steaming in its flicker but I rolled a stone to the opposite side of the hearth 
for Editha, and found another for myself, and soon those venison steaks 
were hissing most invitingly upon the glowing embers, and filling every 
nook and corner of the Druid slaughter-place with the suggestive 
fragrance of our supper.

Manners were rude and ready in that time. We supped as well and 
conveniently that night, carving the meat with the little weapons at our 
girdles, and eating with our fingers, as though we sat in state at the high 
thane's table of distant Voewood and looked down the great rushy hall 
upon three hundred feeding serfs and bondsmen. And Editha laughed and 
chattered -- secure in my protection -- and I echoed her merriment, while 
now and then my thoughts would wander, and I heard again in the 
tempest's whistling the scream of the hungry kites who had seen me die, 
and in the lashing of the branches the clamor and the beating of the British 
tribesmen who many a long life-time before had shouted around this very 
place to drown my dying yells.

The good food and the warmth and a long day's work soon brought my 
fair mistress's head upon her hand, and presently she was lying upon the 
withered leaves in the corner, a fair white flower shut up for the night-
time. So I finished the steak and divided the remnants between the dogs, 
and lay back very well contented. But here only commences the strangest 
part of that evening.

I had warmed my cross-gartered, buskined Saxon legs by the blaze for the 
best part of an hour, thinking over all the strange episodes of my coming 
to these ancient isles, and seeing again, on the blank hither wall, this very 
circle all aglow with the splendid color of its barbarous purpose, the 
mighty concourse of the Britons set in the greenery of their reverent oaks 
-- the outset of the Roman, the flash and glitter of their close-packed ranks, 
and the gallant Sempronius -- alas! that so good a youth should be reduced 
to dust ~ and thus, I suppose, I dozed.

And then it seemed all on a sudden a mighty gust of wind


swept down upon the flat roof overhead, shaking even that ponderous 
stone -- those fierce and brawny hounds of mine howled most fearfully, 
crouching behind with bristling hair and shaking limbs -- and, looking up, 
there -- strange, incredible as you will pronounce it! -- seated beyond the 
fire on the stone the Saxon had so lately left, drawing her wild, rain-wet 
British tresses through her supple fingers -- calm, indifferent, happy -- 
gazing upon me with the gentle wonder I had seen before, was Blodwen 
once again herself!

Need it be said how wild and wonderful that winsome apparition seemed 
in that uncouth place, how the hot flush of wonder burned upon my swart 
and weathered cheeks as I sat there and glared through the leaping flame 
at that pallid outline? Absently she went on with her rhythmical combing, 
bewitching me with her unearthly grace and the tender substance of her 
immaterial outline, and as I glowered with never a ready syllable upon my 
idle tongue, or any emotion but wonder in the heart beating tumultuously 
under my hunter tunic, the dogs lay moaning behind me, and the wild 
fantastic uproar of the tempest outside forced through the clefts of our 
retreat the rain-streaks that sparkled and hissed in the fire-heap.

That time I did not fear, and presently the princess looked up and said, in a 
faint, distant voice, that was like the sound of the breeze among sea-shore 

"Well done, my Phoenician! Your courage gives me strength." And as she 
spoke, the words seemed gradually clearer and stronger, until presently 
they came sweeter to me than the murmur of a sunny river, gentler than 
the whispers of the ripe corn and the south wind.

"Shade!" I said. "Wonderful, immaterial, immortal, whence came you?"

"Whence did I come?" she answered, with the pretty reflection of a smile 
upon her face. "Out of the storm, oh, son of Anak! -- out of the wild, wet 
night wind!"

"And why -- to stir me to my inmost soul, and then to leave me?"

"Phoenician," she said, "I have not left you since we parted. I have been the 
unseen companion of your goings; I have been the shadowless watcher by 
your sleep. Mine was the unfelt hand that bore your chin up when you 
swam with the Christian slave-girl; mine was the arm that has turned, 
invisibly, a hundred javelins from you; and to-night I am come, by leave of 
circumstance, thus to see you."

"I should have thought," I said, becoming now better at


ease, "that one like you might come or go in scorn of circumstance."

"Wherein, my dear master, you argue with more simplicity than 
knowledge. There are needs and necessities to the very verge of the 

But when I questioned what these were, asking the secret of her wayward 
visits, she looked at the sleeping Editha, and said I could not understand.

"Yes, by Wodin's self! but I think I can. Yon fair-cheeked girl helps you. 
There are a hundred turns and touches in your ways and manners that 
speak of her, and show whence you got that borrowed life."

"You are astute, my Saxon thane, and I will not utterly refute you."

"Then, if you can do this, how was it, Blodwen, you never came when I 
was Roman?"

"In truth, I often tried," she said, with something like a sigh, "but Numidea 
was not good to fit my subtle needs, and the other one, Electra, was all 
beyond me." And here that versatile shadow threw herself into an attitude, 
and there before me was the Roman lady, so sweet, so enticing that my 
heart yearned for her -- ah! for the queenly Electra! -- all in a moment. But 
before I could stretch out my arms the airy form had whisked her ethereal 
draperies toga-wise across her breast, and had risen, and there, towering 
to the low roof, flashing down scorn and hatred on me, quaking at her 
feet, shone the very semblance of Electra as I saw her last in the queenly 
glamour of her vengeance.

"Yes," said Blodwen, resuming her own form with perfect calmness before 
I, astonished, could catch my breath, and stroking out the tangles of her 
long red hair, "there was no doing anything with her, and so, Phoenician, I 
could not get translated to your material eyes."

All this was very wonderful, yet presently we were chatting as though we 
were naught to marvel at. Many were the things we spoke of, many were 
the wonders that she hinted at, and as she went on my curiosity blazed up 

"And, fair princess," I said, presently, "turner of javelins, favorer of mortals, 
is it then within the power of such as yourself to rule the destiny of us 
material ones?"

"Not so, else, Phoenician, you were not here!"

This made me a little uncomfortable; but, nothing daunted, I looked the 
strangest visitor that ever paid a midnight visit full in the face and 
persisted: "Tell me, then, you bright reflection of her I loved, how seems 
this tinsel show of life


upon its over side? Is it destiny or man that is master? How looks the 
flower of circumstances to you? -- to us, you will remember, it is vague, 

"You ask me more than I can say," she answered, "but so far I will go: you, 
material, live substantially, and before you lies unchecked the illimitable 
spaces of existence. Of all these you are certain heir."

"Speak on!" I cried, for now and then her voice and attention flagged. "And 
is there any rule or sequence in this life of ours -- is it for you to guide or 
mend our happenings?"

"No, Phoenician. You are yourselves the true forgers of the chains that 
bind you, and that initial 'prenticeship you serve here on your world is 
ruled by the aggregate of your actions. I tell you, Tyrian," she exclaimed, 
with something as much like warmth as could come from such a hazy, 
airstirred body -- "I tell you nothing was ever said or done but was quite 
immortal: all your little goings and comings, all your deeds and misdeeds, 
all the myriad leaves of spoken things that have ever come upon the 
forests of speech, all the raindrops of action that have gone to make the 
boundless ocean of human history, are on record. You shake your head, 
and can not understand? Perhaps I should not wonder at it. "

"And have all these things left a record upon the great books of life, and is 
it given to the beings of the air to refer to them, even as yonder hermit 
turns back his scrolls of history and finds secreted on his yellow vellums 
the things of long ago?"

"It is so in some kind. The actions of that life of yours leave spirit-prints 
behind them from the most infinitesimal to the largest. Now, see, I have 
but to wish, and there again is all the moving pantomime around you of 
that unnappy day when you well-nigh died upon this spot;" and the 
chieftainess leaped to her feet and swept her arm around and looked into 
the void and smiled and nodded as though all the wild spectacles she 
spoke.of were enacting under her very eyes. "Surely, you see it! Look at 
the priests and the people, and there the running foreigners and that tall 
youth at their head -- why, oh, trader in oils and dyes, it is not the 
remembrance of the thing, it is, I swear it, the thing itself."

But never a line or color could I perceive, only the curling smoke overhead 
looped and hung like tapestries upon the gray lichened walls, and the black 
night-time through the crevices. And, discovering this, Blodwen suddenly 
stopped and looked upon me with vexed compassion. "I am sorry, I am no


good teacher to so outrun my pupil. Ask me henceforth what simple 
questions you will, and they shall be answered to the best I can."

And so presently I went on: "If those things which have been are thus to 
you -- and it does not seem impossible -- how is it with those other things 
of to-day, or still unborn of the future? How far can you more favored 
ones foresee or guide those things to which we, unhappy, but submit?"

"The strong tide of circumstance, Phoenician, is not to be turned by such 
hands as these" -- and she held her pallid wrists toward the blaze, until I 
saw the ruddy gleam flash back from the rough gold bosses of her ancient 
bracelets. "There are laws outside your comprehension which are not 
framed for your narrow understanding. We obey these as much as you, 
but we perceive with infinitely clearer vision the inevitable logic of fate, the 
true sequence of events, and thus it is sometimes within our power to 
amend and guide the details of that brief episode which you call your life."

"Do you say that priceless span my comrades, yonder sleeping girl, and all 
the others set so high a value on is but 'an episode'?"

"Yes -- a halting step upon a wondrous journey, half a gradation upon the 
mighty spirals of existence "

"And time?" I asked, full of a wonder that scarce found leisure to 
comprehend one word of hers before it asked another question. "Is there 
time with you? Even I, reflective now and then upon this long journey of 
mine, have thought that time must be a myth, an impossibility to larger 
experience. "

"Of what do you speak, my merchant? I do not remember the word."

"Oh, yes; but you must. Is there period and change yonder? Is Time -- 
Time the great braggart and bully of life, also potent with you?"

"Ah! now I do recall your meaning; but, my Tyrian, we left our hour-
glasses and our calendars behind us when we came away. There is, 
perhaps, time yonder to some extent, but no mortal eyes, not mine even, 
can tell the teaching of that prodigious dial that records the hours of 
universes and of spaces."

I bent my head and thought, for I dimly perceived in all this a meaning 
appearing through its incomprehensibleness. Such else did we talk through 
the livelong night, whereof all I may not tell, and something might but 
weary you. At one time I asked her of the little one I had never seen, and 


she, reflective, questioned whether I would wish to see him. 

"As gladly," was my reply, "as one looks for the sun in spring-time." At this 
the comely chieftainess seemed to fall a-musing, and even while she did so 
an eddy in the curling smoke of the low red fire swung gently into 
consistency there by her bare shoulder, and brightened and grew into 
mortal likeness, and in a moment, by the summons of his mother's will, 
from where I know not, and how I could not guess, a fair, young, ruddy 
boy was fashioned and stood there, leaning upon the gentle breast that 
had so often rocked him, and gazing upon me with a quiet wonder that 
seemed to say, "How came you here?" But the little one had not the 
substance of the other, and after a moment, during which I felt somehow 
that no slight effort was being made to maintain him, he paled, and then 
the same waft of air that had conspired to his creation shredded him out 
again into the fine thin webs of disappearing haze.

Comely shadow! Dear British mistress! Great was thy condescension, 
passing strange thy conversation, wonderful thy knowledge, perplexing, 
mysterious thy professed ignorance! And then, when the morning was 
nigh, she bade me speak a word of comfort to the restless-sleeping Editha, 
and when I had done so I turned again -- and the cave was empty. I ran 
out into the open air and whispered " Blodwen! and then louder "Blodwen!" 
and all those gray, uncouth, sinful old monoliths, standing there in the half-
light up to their waists in white mist, took up my word and muttered out 
of their time-worn hollows one to another "Blodwen, Blodwen!"  but never 
again for many a long year did she answer to that call.

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Chapter 7