Leaning with one arm on the mantle-shelf stood Winterborne, his eyes on the roasting animal, his face so rapt that speculation could build nothing on it concerning his thoughts, more than that they were not with the scene before him. She thought his features had changed a little since she saw them last. The fire-light did not enable her to perceive that they were positively haggard.
She looked a mere shadow in the fire-light. She smiled at him mechanically, but her face relapsed at once into the apathetic expression which sat so ill upon it. Her lustreless eyes fixed themselves again on the fire. "And what are you going to do this afternoon?" she said, politely. It was obvious she did not care what he did.
"You are right," said Frank, as they instinctively drew their chairs nearer to the fire. "Now all we need is something to roast or toast, it doesn't much matter which." "That reminds me," said Betty, turning accusing eyes upon Roy and Mollie, whose faces were clearly outlined in the dancing fire-light. "You two people over there seem to have a secret that you don't want to share with us.
In came the servant with slippers and candles unlighted, for he was wont to sip his grog by fire-light. He put on his slippers. Then he mixed his grog. Then he noticed a paper on the table, and putting it to the fire he found it was sealed. So he lighted the candles and placed them a little behind him.
"Just so," cried the red-headed lout who had heralded the council, coming forward into the fire-light. "I can try it and I may do it. If I do it, Commodus will be a corpse. If I fail, no one will know I have tried. And it is a jewel of a plan." And he stood on his hands, feet waggling in the air, apparently from mere exuberance of spirits.
"Too soon," she said, showing her brilliant teeth in the fire-light. She set the tin down, looked round, a little embarrassed, and stirred the fire, which didn't need it. "Well" he put his chin down under the rabbit-skin once more "how goes the world, Princess?" She flashed her quick smile again and nodded reassuringly. "You stay here now?" "No; goin' up river." "What for?"
Still the bells clanged and clamored; and blended with their peals was heard now and then, in the distance, a piercing shriek and a clamor as of thousands and thousands of confusedly mingled voices. Suddenly the king turned to Catharine, and his countenance, which was just then overspread by the fire-light as with a blood-red veil, had now assumed an expression of savage, demoniacal delight.
The fire-light slanted through the woods in quick, elusive fluctuations, ever dimmer, ever recurrently flaring, and when the jury of view and their companions, alarmed by the long absence of Persimmon Sneed, followed the strange light through the woods to the brink of the burning spring, they found naught astir save the vagrant shadows of the great boles of the trees, no longer held to their accustomed orbit, but wandering through the woods with a large freedom.
The room was only illuminated by the waning fire-light. A man was obscurely visible, seated on the sofa, with his elbows on his knees and his head resting on his hands. He looked up as the open door let in the light from the library lamps. The mellow glow reached his face and revealed Julian Gray. Mercy was standing with her back to the light; her face being necessarily hidden in deep shadow.
"Heaven save this expedition from becoming renegade among savages by forgetting its highest object!" breathed Marquette. His companion smiled toward the pleasant fire-light. Jolliet had once thought of becoming a priest himself. He venerated this young apostle, only half a dozen years his senior.