Maugis came forward, his eyes fixed hungrily upon Ettarre. "So a long struggle ends," he said, very quiet. "There is no virtue left, Ettarre, save patience."

"While life remains I shall not cease to shriek out your villainy. O God, men have let Guiron die!" she wailed.

"I will cause you to forget that death is dreadful Ettarre!"

"I need no teacher now.... And so, Gruiron is dead and I yet live! I had not thought that would be possable." She whispered this. "Give me your sword, Maugis, for just a little while, and then I will not hate you any longer."

The man said, with dreary patience: "Yes you would die rather than endure my touch. And through my desire of you I have been stripped of wealth and joy and honor, and even of hope; through my desire of you I have held much filthy traffic, with treachery and theft and murder, traffic such as my soul loathed: and to no avail! Yes, I have been guilty of many wickednesses, as men estimate these matters; and yet, I swear to you, I seem to myself to be still that boy with whom you used to play, when you too were a child, Ettarre, and did not hate me. Heh, it is very stran ge how affairs fall out in this world of ours, so that a man may discern no aim or purpose anywhere!"

"Yet it is all foreplanned, Maugis." Horvendile spoke thus.

"And to what end have you ensnared me, Horvendile?" says Maugis, turning wearily. "For the attack on Storisende has failed, and I am dying of many wounds, Horvendile. See how I bleed! Guiron and Michael and Perion and all thier men are hunting me ever ywhere beyond that arras, and I am frightened, Horvendile-- even I, who was Maugis, am frightened! --lest any of them find me too soon I desire now only to die untroubled. Oh, Horvendile, in an ill hour I trusted you!"

As knave and madman, Ettarre saw the double-dealer and his dupe confront each other. In the haggard face of Maugis, no longer evil, showed only puzzled lassitude. In the hand of Horvendile a dagger glittered; and his face was pensive, as he replied:

"My poor Maugis, it is not yet time I make my dealings plain to you. It suffices that you have served my turn, Maugis, and that of you I have no need any longer. You must die now, Maugis."

Ettarre feared this frozen madman, she who was by ordinary fearless. Ettarre turned away her face, so that she might not see the two men grapple. Without, the uproar continued-- for a long while, it seemed. When she looked again it was, by some great w onder-working, to meet Guiron's eyes and Guiron's lips.

Chapter Seven