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The hermit, grinding his teeth in impotent rage, moved swiftly out of the
bedchamber, closing the door behind him; and straightway the king heard a
talk, to this effect, proceeding from the ‘chapel’: ‘Homage and greeting, reverend
sir! Where is the boy-my boy?’ ‘What boy, friend?’ ‘What boy! Lie me no lies, sir
priest, play me no deceptions! I am not in the humor for it. Near to this place I
caught the scoundrels who I judged did steal him from me, and I made them
confess; they said he was at large again, and they had tracked him to your door.
They showed me his very footprints. Now palter no more; for look you, holy sir,
an thou produce him not-Where is the boy?’ ‘Oh, good sir, peradventure you
mean the ragged regal vagrant that tarried here the night. If such as you take
interest in such as he, know, then, that I have sent him of an errand. He will be
back anon.’ ‘How soon? How soon? Come, waste not the time-cannot I overtake
him? How soon will he be back?’ ‘Thou needst not stir; he will return quickly.’
‘So be it then. I will try to wait. But stop!- you sent him of an errand?- you!
Verily, this is a lie-he would not go. He would pull thy old beard, an thou didst
offer him such an insolence. Thou hast lied, friend; thou hast surely lied! He
would not go for thee nor for any man.’ ‘For any man-no; haply not. But I am
not a man.’ ‘What! Now o’ God’s name what art thou, then?’ ‘It is a secret-mark
thou reveal it not. I am an archangel!’ There was a tremendous ejaculation from
Miles Hendon-not altogether unprofane-followed by: ‘This doth well and truly
account for his complaisance! Right well I knew he would budge nor hand nor
foot in the menial service of any mortal; but Lord, even a king must obey when
an archangel gives the word o’ command! Let me‘sh! What noise was that?’ All
this while the king had been yonder, alternately quaking with terror and
trembling with hope; and all the while, too, he had thrown all the strength he
could into his anguished moanings, constantly expecting them to reach
Hendon’s ear, but always realizing, with bitterness, that they failed, or at least
made no impression. So this last remark of his servant came as comes a reviving
breath from fresh fields to the dying; and he exerted himself once more, and
with all his energy, just as the hermit was saying: ‘Noise? I heard only the wind.’
‘Mayhap it was. Yes, doubtless that was it. I have been hearing it faintly all the-
there it is again! It is not the wind! What an odd sound! Come, we will hunt it
out!’ Now, the king’s joy was nearly insupportable. His tired lungs did their
utmostand hopefully, too-but the sealed jaws and the muffling sheepskin sadly
crippled the effort. Then the poor fellow’s heart sank, to hear the hermit say:
‘Ah, it came from without-I think from the copse yonder. Come, I will lead the
way.’ The king heard the two pass out talking; heard their footsteps die quickly
away-then he was alone with a boding, brooding, awful silence.

It seemed an age till he heard the steps and voices approaching again-and this
time he heard an added sound-the trampling of hoofs, apparently. Then he
heard Hendon say: ‘I will not wait longer. I cannot wait longer. He has lost his
way in this thick wood. Which direction took he? Quick-point it out to me.’ ‘He-
but wait; I will go with thee.’ ‘Good-good! Why, truly thou art better than thy
looks. Marry, I do think there’s not another archangel with so right a heart as
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