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 Fulviac's lay deep within the waving of pines. Above the of the forest, a massive barrier of rock thrust up its bartisans into the blue. East and west it stretched a mile or more, concavitated towards the north, and like a huge breakwater amid the sea of .  
The rocky plateau above was peopled by pines and rowans, thatched also with a wild of briar, whin, and heather. Crannies into it; caves tunnelled its massive ; innumerable of stone with the wind-wracked trees. The cliffs rose like the walls of a castle donjon from the forest floor, studded with trees, bearded with ferns and grass. The plateau was from the forest save by a thin rocky track, where the western slope of the cliff tailed off to into the trees.
The significance of the place to Fulviac lay in the existence of a or series of caves piercing the cliff, and opening both upon the southern and northern of the mass. A wooden causeway led to the southern entry, bridging a small where a stream under the pines. The yawn of the southern opening had been built up with great blocks of stone, and the rough walls pierced by narrow , and a gate opening under a rounded arch.
Within, the roof of the main cavern arched , hollowing a great over the smooth floor beneath. This and rock-ripped hall served as guard-room and dormitory, a very various . ways from it into the black of the cliff. The height of the main cavern as it tunnelled northwards into the rock. A second wall of stone partitioned the guard-room from a second and smaller chamber, lit always by a great lamp pendent from the ceiling, a chamber that served Fulviac as state-room.
From Fulviac's parlour the cavern narrowed to a throat-like gallery that had been expanded by human craft into a third and smaller room. This last rock chamber was wholly more healthy and habitable than the others. Its walls stood squarely from floor to rocky roof, and it was blessed with a wide , that stared northwards over a of trees. A postern gave entry to the room from a narrow platform, and from this a stairway cut in the flank of the cliff dwindled into the murk of the forest below.
A more romantic atmosphere had swept into the galleries of the place that winter. stores were , bales of merchandise ungirded, caskets and chests as for the endowing of the chamber of a queen. The northern room in the cliff blossomed into the rich of a lady's . Its stone walls were panelled with old oak taken from some ancient . There were of green, gold, and purple; an antique bed with a tester of silver silk, its flanks with coloured escutcheons. Painted glass, , red, and gold, jewelled the casement, showing also Sebastian bound to his martyr's tree. A Jew merchant plundered on the road had surrendered a set of , a inlaid with pearl, a carpet woven on the of the purple East. There were mirrors of steel about the walls. A carved prayer-desk, an frame, a crucifix in ivory: Fulviac had all these to Yeoland, dead Rual's daughter.
A white lily amid a of thistles! The girl's life had under the black shadow of the cliff, and into the clanging of these rough men of the sword. It was a wild age and a wild region. Fulviac's were like wolves in a forest lair, keen, , and . There was a rude strain of violence running through the mood of the place, like the song of Norse rovers, piercing the roar of the sea. Mystery the girl, war, and the sound of the sword. She at the of Fate with the trembling fingers of one who unbars a prison gate in the of night. It was all strange and fantastic beyond the riot of a dream.
"Madame," Fulviac had said to her when he had hung a key at her girdle, "I have bidden you trust me; remember that I trust you in turn. Take this room as your . Lock me out when you will. I prepare, among other things, to perfect your ."
Yeoland suffered him and her necessity. She was shrewdly wise in the conviction that it would be useless to rebel against the man. Though over-masterful and secretive, his purpose appeared benignant in the opulence of its favour. Moreover, the forest was as a vast web holding her within the of the unknown.
"I have no alternative," she said to him, "I am in your power. And yet, I believe you are no ."
"Your charity pleases me. I am a man with a strong purpose."
"For good?"
"Do I not need you?"
"Am I then so powerful a person?"
"You will learn anon."
"You seem something of a mystic," she said to him.
"Madame," he retorted, "trust my . In due season I shall unfold to you certain aspects of life that will your sympathies. I shall appeal to the woman in you. When you are wise you will commend my ambition."
"You speak in ."
"Wait. As yet you see through a glass darkly."
From the mountainous north to the warm southern sea, from the wooded west to the eastern , the good King ruled, holding many great in faith, and casting his of gold over Church and State. moved through the world to the clangour of arms and the songs of the troubadour. Lutes sounded on terrace and in garden, fair women bloomed like roses, bathed in a blaze of romance. made war upon baron; glory and death were crowned together. The painter spread his colours in the halls of the great; the goldsmith and the carver wrought things to charm the eye. Church bells . Proud abbots carried the sword, and made fine flutter among the women. Innumerable saints crowded the avenues to heaven. It was a fair age and very lovely, full of colour and desire, music and the odour of romance.
And the poor? Their lot hung largely on the humour of an overlord, or the state of a gentleman's stomach. They had their saints' days, their games, their , their miracle plays. They had hovels of clay and wattle; labour in wind and rain; plagues and in the rotting of their city . They marked the great folk go by in silks and cloth of gold, saw the pomp and opulence of that other life, remembered their own rags and their children.
And yet, consider the broad of the world. To eat, to be warm, to satisfy the flesh, to ease a , to drink beer. There was no very vast betwixt the rich man and the poor. The one feasted to music, the other scraped a bone to the of . They had like appetites, like satisfactions, and hell is considered to be Utopian in the extreme. The poor man envied the rich; the rich man ruled the poor. Envy, that demagogue, has made profit out of such a since the world was young.
Fulviac's cliff was shut out from the of man by leagues of woodland, , and waste. The great pine forest girded it in its inmost bosom. No rode that way; no huntsman ranged so deep; the place had an evil ; many whom it had welcomed had never returned. Romancers had sung of it, the lay of Guingamor. Horror ruled black-browed over its pine-cumbered hills, its gloomy depths. there, as over a primæval sea, and there was no sound save the moan or storm-cry of the wind over its troubled trees.
According to legend , Romulus peopled Rome with the offscourings of Italy. Fulviac had the device with the state-craft of a strong . The forest stood a grand , him with its sentinels, who gossiped with the wind. The venture had been finely conceived, finely edificated. A cliff, a cave, five-score armed men. Not a vast power on the face of it to threaten a system or to shake a throne. Superficialities were fallacious, the surface false and fair as ice. The forest hid more than a company of ruffians banded together to resist tyranny. Enthusiasm, genius, , such torches, like a burning hovel, can fling a city into flame.
As for the girl Yeoland, she was more than mocked by the swift of life. Two days of realism had from her heart the dream visions of childhood. To be declared homeless, , in one day; to be of liberty the next! To what end? She stared round the richly-garnished room into which Fate had thrust her, fingered the pearl-set lute, gazed at her own face in the steel mirrors. She was the same woman, yet how differently circumstanced! Fulviac's mood had not hinted at love, or at any meaner jest. What power could he to his advantage in the fairness of her face? What was the of a woman's vengeance to a man who had conceived the downfall of a kingdom?
Her knowledge of was in the extreme, and she had no wit for the of Fulviac's . There were certain convictions, however, that abode with her even in her ignorance. She could have taken oath that he was no mere swashbuckler, no captain of , no mere spoiler of men. Moreover, she believed him to be the possessor of some honour, and a large guerdon of . Lastly, pity appealed her as a sentiment not to be discarded. The man, whoever he might be, appeared desirous of putting his broad shoulders betwixt her and the world.
Fulviac grew perspicuous sooner than she could have . He had a fine, cloud-soaring way with him that seemed to ignore the mole-hills of common . He had wit enough also to impose his trust on others with a certain confidence that carried in the very of its .
March was upon them like a spirit of , wild, riotous weather, with the wind thundering like storm-waves upon the cliff. The pines were each other in the forest, and reeling beneath the scourgings of the breeze. Fulviac came to the girl one windy noon, when the were full of the breath of the storm. His manner to her seemed as a significant , the deep of some human .
Fulviac took the girl by a winding stair leading from the guard-room--a stair that circled upwards in the thickness of the rock some hundred steps or more, and opened into a basin-shaped pit on the plateau above. Dwarf trees and briars the hollow, giving vision of a grey and hurrying sky. The pair climbed a second stair that led to a rock perched like a pulpit on the of the southern . The wind swept and over the cliff. It tossed back the girl's , made her stagger; she would have fallen had not Fulviac gripped her arm.
Below stretched an interminable waste of trees, of bowing pine-tops, and dishevelled boughs. The dull green of the forest into the grey of the cloud-strewn sky. On either hand the craggy of the cliffs stretched east and west, its natural bartisans and battlements topped by a cornice of mysterious pines. It was a superb scene, rich with a wild liberty, stirred by the wizard chanting of the wind.
Fulviac watched the girl as she stood against the grey curtain of the sky. Her hair blew about her white throat and shoulders in sombre streams; her eyes were very bright under their dusky ; and the wind had kissed a stronger colour into her cheeks. She was clad in a kirtle of laurel-green cloth, bound about the waist with a girdle of silver. A white kerchief lay like snow over her shoulders and bosom; her green sleeves were and with .
"Wild country," he said, looking in her eyes.
"Wild as the sea."
"You are a romanticist."
She gave a laugh.
"After what I have suffered!"
"Romance and sorrow go hand in hand. For the moment my words are more material. You see this cliff?"
She turned to him and stood watching his face.
"This cliff is the core of a kingdom. A wedge to feudalism to ruins, to topple tyranny."
She nodded slowly, with a grave self-reservation.
"You have hinted that you are ambitious," she said.
"Ambition would have stormed heaven."
"And your ladder?"
The man made a strong gesture, like one who points a squadron to the charge. His eyes shone with a glint of grimness under his shaggy brows.
"The rabid discontent of the poor, ever under the crust of custom. The hate of the for the fop and the fool. The iron that lies under the of riches. The storm-cry of a people's vengeance against the and the torturer."
Yeoland, solemn of face, groped amid her . The man was a visionary by his own showing; it was impossible to mistake him for a fool. Like all beings of power, he combined imagination with that huge vigour of mind that moves the world. A vast element of strength lay coiled in him, subtle, yet overpowering as the body of some great . The girl felt the gradual magic of his might mesmerising her with the inevitableness of its approach.
"You have brought me here?" she asked him.
"As I promised."
"To tell you something of the truth."
She looked at him with a frankness that was in spirit--laudatory.
"You put great trust in me," she said.
"That I may trust the more."
He sat himself down on a ledge of rock, and proceeded to parade before her imagination such visions as were well conceived to the reason of a girl taken fresh from a forest hermitage. He of riot, revolution, and revenge; painted Utopias established beneath the of a just personal tyranny, a country of oppression, a kingdom of pride. He told of arms stored in the warrens of the cliff, of grain and salted meat sufficient for an army. He out the vast strength of the place, the plateau approachable only by the stairway in the cliff, and the narrow causeway towards the west. He described it as sufficient for the and massing of a great host. Finally, he swept his hand over the leagues of forestland, dark as the sea, isleting the place from the ken of the world.
"You understand me?" he said to her.
She nodded and waited with closed lips. He gazed at the horizon, and spoke in .
"The King and the nobles are throned upon a pile of brushwood. A torch is beneath; a tempest the into a furnace. The kingdom burns."
"Consider me no mere visionary; I have the country at my back. For five years the work has gone on in secret. I have trusted nothing to chance. It needs a bold man to strike at a kingdom. I--Fulviac, am that man."


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