Read CHAPTER XII. of HE , free online book, by Andrew Lang., on


’We must, as you are aware, visit the Siege Perilous in the Hall of Egypt, and risk ourselves in the chair of the Viewless Maiden, of Her that is not to be seen of Man.’

‘We know it,’ said Leonora.

‘It is,’ continued the mage, ’your wish to accomplish the end for which you set forth.  This seems to you an easy matter enough; young hearts are full of such illusions, and, believe me, I would willingly change my years, which are lost in geological time, for one hand’s breadth of your daring.  Know, then,’ continued this strange creature, ’that the time has now come when matters must be brought to an end between us.  It will be my business, and, I will add, my pleasure,’ he continued with a lofty air which sat drolly enough upon him in his yellow duds, ’to conduct you to the Siege Perilous.  From you, in return, I must exact an unquestioning obedience; and I will add a measureless confidence.  I beg you to bear in mind that the slightest resistance to my will must be followed by consequences of which you cannot estimate either the reach or the extension.’

There was such a parrot-like pomp about the creature’s tautology, and such an old-world affectation of fine manners \in his constant obeisances, that I could hold it no longer, but fairly laughed out in his face.

I dreaded, it is true, lest some such fate as Ustani’s might punish me for my temerity, but for reasons which doubtless seemed sufficient to himself the wizard merely looked at me through his veil, shook himself a little in his swathings, and said in a matter-of-fact voice, ’Well, well, perhaps we have had enough of such talk as this.  Let’s get ahead with the business before us.  That business is to reach the Siege Perilous, or Magic Chair.  Thither will I guide ye, and there ye shall see what ye shall see.  But first it is needful, as all sages have declared, that ye shall show your confidence in me!  I value not wealth.  Gold is mere dross ­nay, I have the mines of King Solomon at my disposal.  But when the weary King Ecclesiast confided to me, in his palace of ivory and cedar in Jerusalem, long ago, the secret of these diamond treasures, he bade me reveal it to none who did not show their confidence in me.

‘Let them entrust you,’ said Solomon, ’with their paltry wealth, ere you place in their hands opulence beyond the dreams of avarice.  Give me, then, merely as a sign of confidence, gold, much gold, or,’ he continued in a confidential and Semitic tone, ’its equivalent in any safe securities, American railways preferred.  Don’t bring bank-notes, my dear ­risky things, risky things!  Why, when I was pals with Claude Duval ­but ’tis gone, ’tis gone!  Now, my dears, what have you got? what have you got?’

‘I have,’ answered Leonora, in her clear sweet voice and girlish trustfulness, ’as is my invariable custom, my dot, namely, 300,000_l._ worth of American railway shares, chiefly Chicago N.W. and L. & N., in my pocket.’

‘That’s right, my dear, that’s right,’ said the Erie wizard; ’just hand those to me, and then we can start at once.

And when (he went on in italics)
o my Leonora
when that mystic change has been worked
which has been predestined
for countless ages and which shall come as
sure as fate,
then on another continent
kindred to thine yet strange, even in the land
of the railways that thy shares are in,
Thou and I,
the Magician and the Novice,
the Celebrated Wizard of the West
and his Accomplished Pupil
Mademoiselle Leonore
will make a tour that shall drag in the
by the hatful.  NOW COME!’