To Kennaston the Lord Protector was saying, with grave unction: "You will, I doubt not, fittingly express to our friends in Virginia, Master Major, those hearty sentiments which I have in the way of gratefulness, in that I have received the honor and saf e guard of their approbatiion; for al which I humbly thank them. To our unfriends in that colony we will let action speak when I shal have completed God's work in Ireland."

"Yet the Burgesses, sir, are mostly ill-affected; and Berkeley, to grant him justice, does not lack bravery--"

"With Heaven's help, Master Major, I have of late dealt with a king who did not lack bravery. Nay, depend upon it, I shall some day grant William Berkeley utter justice--such justice as I gave his master, that proud curled man, Charles Stuart." Then the Lord Protector's face was changed, and his harsh countenance became a little troubled. "Yes, I shall do all this, with Heaven's help, I think. But in good faith, I grow old, Master Major. I move in a mist, and my deeds are strange to me...."

Cromwell closed and unclosed his hands, regarding them; amd he sighed. Then it was to Ettarre he spoke:

"I leave you in Master Major's charge. It may be I shall not return alive into England; indeed, I grow an old man and feel infirmities of age stealing upon me. And so, farewell, my lass. Truly if I love you not too well, I err not on the other hand muc h. Thou hast been dearer to me than any other creature: let that suffice." And with this leave-taking he was gone.

As the door closed upon Cromwell's burly figure, "No, be very careful not to touch me," Kennsaton implored. "The dream must last till I have found out how through your aid, Ettarre, this bull-necked country squire has come to rule England. It is precise ly as I expected. You explain Cromwell, you explain Mohammed--Richelieu and Tamburlaine and Julius Caeser, I suspect, and, as I know, Napoleon--all these men who have inexplicably risen from nothing to earthly supremacy. How is it done Ettarre?"

"It is not I who contrive it, Horvendile. I am but an incident in such men's lives. They have known me--yes: and knowing me, they were bent enough on their own ends to forget that I seemed not unlovely. It is not the sigil and the power the sigil give s which they love and serve--"

"And that small square mirror, such as Cromwell also carried--?" Kennaston began. "Or is this forbidden talk?"

"Yes, that mirror aids them. In that mirror they can see only themselves. So the mirror aids toward the ends they chose, with open eyes.... But you cannot ever penetrate these mysteries now, Horvendile. The secret of the mirror was offered you once, a nd you would not bargain. The secret of the mirror is offered to no man twice."

And he laughed merrily. "What does it matter? I am perfectly content. That is more than can be said for yonder sanctimonious fat old rascal, who has just told me he is going into Ireland 'for the propagating of the gospel of Christ, the establishing of truth and peace, and the restoring to it's former happiness and tranquillity.' Why is it that people of executive ability seem always to be more or less mentally deficient? Now, you and I know that, in point of fact, he is going into Ireland to burn Vi llages, massacre women, hang bishops, and generally qualify his name for all time as a Hibernian synonym for infamy. Oh, no, the purchase-price of grandeur is too great; and men that crown themselves in this world inevitably perform the action with soile d hands. Still, I wish I had known I was going visiting to-night in seven-teenth-century England," said Kennaston, reflectively; "then I could have read up a bit. I don't even know whether Virginia ever submitted to him. It simply shows what idleness m ay lead to! If I had studied history more faithfully I would have been able to-night to prophesy to Oliver Cromwell about the results of his Irish campaigns and so on, and could have impressed him vastly with my abilities. As it is, I have missed an opp ortunity which will probably never occur again to any man of my generation...."

Chapter Thirty-Two