STANDING upon the edge of the stone leaned against the wall, Donal seized the edge of the slab which crossed the opening near the top, and drew himself up into the sloping window-sill. Pressing with all his might against the sides of the window, he succeeded at last in pushing up the slab so far as to get a hold with one hand on the next to it. Then slowly turning himself on his side, while the whole weight of the stone rested on his fingers, he got the other hand also through the crack. This effected, he hauled and pushed himself up with his whole force, careless of what might happen to his head. The top of it came bang against the stone, and lifted it so far that he got head and neck through. The thing was done! With one more Herculean lift of his body and the stone together, like a man rising from the dead, he rose from the crypt into the passage.
But the door of the chapel would not yield to a gentle push.
|My lady,| he cried, |don't be afraid. I must make a noise. It's only Donal Grant! I'm going to drive the door open.|
She heard the words! They woke her from her swoon of joy. |Only Donal Grant!| What less of an only could there be in the world for her! Was he not the messenger who raised the dead!
She tried to speak, but not a word would come. Donal drew back a pace, and sent such a shoulder against the door that it flew to the wall, then fell with a great crash on the floor.
|Where are you, my lady?| he cried.
But still she could not speak.
He began feeling about.
|Not on that terrible bed!| she heard him murmur.
Fear lest in the darkness he should not find her, gave her back her voice.
|I don't mind it now!| she said feebly.
|Thank God!| cried Donal; |I've found you at last!|
Worn out, he sank on his knees, with his head on the bed, and fell a sobbing like a child.
She would have put out her hand through the darkness to find him, but the chain checked it. He heard the rattle of it, and understood.
|Chained too, my dove!| he said, but in Gaelic.
His weakness was over. He thanked God, and took courage. New life rushed through every vein. He rose to his feet in conscious strength.
|Can you strike a light, and let me see you, Donal?| said Arctura.
Then first she called him by his Christian name: it had been so often in her heart if not on her lips that night!
The dim light wasted the darkness of the long buried place, and for a moment they looked at each other. She was not so changed as Donal had feared to find her -- hardly so change to him as he was to her. Terrible as had been her trial, it had not lasted long, and had been succeeded by a heavenly joy. She was paler than usual, yet there was a rosy flush over her beautiful face. Her hand was stretched towards him, its wrist clasped by the rusty ring, and tightening the chain that held it to the post.
|How pale and tired you look!| she said.
|I am a little tired,| he answered. |I came almost without stopping. My mother sent me. She said I must come, but she did not tell me why.|
|It was God sent you,| said Arctura.
Then she briefly told him what she knew of her own story.
|How did he get the ring on to your wrist?| said Donal.
He looked closer and saw that her hand was swollen, and the skin abraded.
|He forced it on!| he said. |How it must hurt you!|
|It does hurt now you speak of it,| she replied. |I did not notice it before. -- Do you suppose he left me here to die?|
|Who can tell!| returned Donal. |I suspect he is more of a madman than we knew. I wonder if a soul can be mad. -- Yes; the devil must be mad with self-worship! Hell is the great madhouse of creation!|
|Take me away,| she said.
|I must first get you free,| answered Donal.
She heard him rise.
|You are not going to leave me?| she said.
|Only to get a tool or two.|
|And after that?| she said.
|Not until you wish me,| he answered. |I am your servant now -- his no more.|