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HOME > Classical Novels > Love Among the Ruins > CHAPTER 39
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 In a cave whose narrow mouth cut a rough cameo from the snow and of the sky, a man lay sleeping upon a bed of heather. The surge of the sea rose from the bastions of the cliff, where glittered and over the black rocks that thrust their dripping brows above the tide. were winging over the waves, whose green shone brilliant under the sun. On a distant headland, and sombre, the towers of a castle broke the crescent of the heavens.  
In one corner of the cave a feeble fire , the smoke therefrom curling along the roof to vanish in a thin blue of vapour. Beside the bed lay a pile of , with a broken casque like a to crown it. Dried herbs and a loaf of rye bread lay on a flat near the fire. The figure on the heather was covered by a stained yet gorgeously surcoat, that seemed an incongruous quilt for such a couch. Near the cave's entry a great glittered on the floor, an axe whose edge had tested the metal of many a bassinet.
Down a rough path cut in the face of the cliff a gaunt, hollow-chested figure, doubleted in soiled , shoes on feet, a black beard on the stubborn chin. A red cloth was bound about the man's head. He breathed hard as he clambered down the cliff, as though winded by fast running. Sweat stood on his forehead. Beneath him ran the sea, a pit of foam, and muttering amid the rocks.
He reached the entry of the cave and dived therein like a fox into an "earth." by the bed, he looked for a moment at the unconscious figure with the air of one to wake a weary comrade from his sleep. At last he went down on his knees by the heather, and touched the sleeping man's cheek with the gentle gesture of a woman. The figure stirred at the touch; two thin hands groped over the green and azure quilt. The kneeling man gripped them in his great brown paws, and held them fast.
The voice was toneless, husky, and without spirit.
"Ah, these waking moments. It had been better if you had let me rot in Gambrevault."
"Courage, sire, you wake to a better fortune."
"There is new life in your voice."
"The King has come at last."
The man on the heather raised himself upon one elbow. His face looked grey and starved in the half gloom of the cave. He lifted up one hand with a gesture of joy.
"The King!"
Modred of the black beard smiled at him like a father. His hands trembled as he put the man back gently on the heather, and smoothed the coverlet.
"Lie still, sire."
"Ah, this is life, once more."
"Patience, patience. Let us have no woman's moods, no . Ha, I am a tyrannous dog. Did I drag you for dead out of Gambrevault to let you break your heart over Richard of Lauretia! Lie quiet, sire; you have no strength to gamble with as yet."
The man on the heather reached out again for Modred's hand.
"The rough dog should have been born a woman," he said to him.
Modred laughed.
"There is a great heart under that hairy chest of yours."
The moist mutterings of the sea came up to them from the rocky shore beneath. Clouds in white masses pressed athwart the arch of day. Modred, seated on a boulder beside the bed, eyed the figure thereon with a gaunt and tender pity. He was a man and , yet warm of heart for all his bull's strength and steely sinew. Youth lay at his feet, thin and impotent, a white wand quivering beside a black and oak.
Modred rose up and stood by the opening of the cave, his broad shoulders well-nigh filling the entry as he looked out over the sea. Far over the waters, a hundred pearl-white sails beyond the cliffs of Gambrevault. The sun on and blazoned , and upon a thousand streamers tonguing to the breeze.
Modred stretched out his great arms and smiled, a grim of joy over his ruffian's face. Standing at the mouth of the cave, he began to speak to the man couched in the inner gloom.
"Yonder, beyond Gambrevault," he said, "I see a hundred sails treading towards us over the sea. They are the King's ships: God cherish them; their gleam in the sun."
Flavian twisted restlessly amid the heather.
"A grand sight, old friend."
Modred stood silent, fingering his chin. His voice broke again with a that seemed to echo the roar of the waves.
"St. Philip, that is well."
"More ships?"
", sire, they raise the royal banner on the keep of Gambrevault. I see spears shine. Listen to the shouting. The King's men hold the headland."
This time the voice from the cave was less eager, and with pain.
"Modred, old friend, I lie here like ............
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