Part 2 out of 6
"When you have eaten of our humble fare, your highness,--the last meal
at the Hawk and Raven."
"But I'm not a bit hungry."
"It is very considerate of you, but equally unreasonable. You must eat
before we start."
"I can't bear the thought of your suffering when we should be hurrying
to a hospital and competent surgeons." He laughed gaily. "Oh, you
needn't laugh. I know it hurts. You say we cannot reach Ganlook before
to-morrow? Well, we can't stop here a minute longer than we--Oh, thank
you!" A ragged servitor had placed a rude bowl of meat and some fruit
"Sit down here, your highness, and prepare yourself for a long fast. We
may go until nightfall without food. The game is scarce and we dare not
venture far into the hills."
Beverly sat at his feet and daintily began the operation of picking a
bone with her pretty fingers teeth. "I am sorry we have no knives and
forks" he apologized.
"I don't mind"' said she. "I wish you would remove that black patch."
"Alas, I must resume the hated disguise. A chance enemy might recognize
"Your--your clothes have been mended," she remarked with a furtive
glance at his long legs. The trousers had been rudely sewed up and no
bandages were visible. "Are you--your legs terribly hurt???"
"They are badly scratched, but not seriously. The bandages are skilfully
placed," he added, seeing her look of doubt. "Ravone is a genius."
"Well, I'll hurry," she said, blushing deeply. Goat-hunter though he was
and she a princess, his eyes gleamed with the joy of her beauty and his
heart thumped with a most unruly admiration. "You were very, very brave
last night," she said at last--and her rescuer smiled contentedly.
She was not long in finishing the rude but wholesome meal, and then
announced her readiness to be on the way. With the authority of a
genuine princess she commanded him to ride inside the coach, gave
incomprehensible directions to the driver and to the escort, and would
listen to none of his protestations. When the clumsy vehicle was again
in the highway and bumping over the ridges of flint, the goat-hunter was
beside his princess on the rear seat, his feet upon the opposite
cushions near Aunt Fanny, a well-arranged bridge of boxes and bags
providing support for his long legs.
"We want to go to a hospital," Beverly had said to the driver, very much
as she might have spoken had she been in Washington. She was standing
bravely beside the forewheel, her face flushed and eager. Baldos, from
his serene position on the cushions, watched her with kindling eyes. The
grizzled driver grinned and shook his head despairingly. "Oh, pshaw! You
don't understand, do you? Hospital--h-o-s-p-i-t-a-l," she spelt it out
for him, and still he shook his head. Others in the motley retinue were
"Speak to him in your own language, your highness, and he will be sure
to understand," ventured the patient.
"I am speaking in my--I mean, I prefer to speak in English. Please tell
him to go to a hospital," she said confusedly. Baldos gave a few jovial
instructions, and then the raggedest courtier of them all handed Beverly
into the carriage with a grace that amazed her.
"You are the most remarkable goat-hunters I have ever seen," she
remarked in sincere wonder.
"And you speak the most perfect English I've ever heard," he replied.
"Oh, do you really think so? Miss Grimes used to say I was hopeless. You
know I had a--a tutor," she hastily explained. "Don't you think it
strange we've met no Axphain soldiers?" she went on, changing the
"We are not yet out of the woods," he said.
"That was a purely American aphorism," she cried, looking at him
intently. "Where did you learn all your English?"
"I had a tutor," he answered easily.
"You are a very odd person," she sighed. "I don't believe that you are a
goat-hunter at all."
"If I were not a goat-hunter I should have starved long ago," he
said. "Why do you doubt me?"
"Simply because you treat me one moment as if I were a princess, and the
next as if I were a child. Humble goat-hunters do not forget their
station in life."
"I have much to learn of the deference due to queens," he said.
"That's just like 'The Mikado' or 'Pinafore,'" she exclaimed." I believe
you are a comic-opera brigand or a pirate chieftain, after all."
"I am a lowly outcast," he smiled.
"Well, I've decided to take you into Edelweiss and--"
"Pardon me, your highness," he said firmly, "That cannot be. I shall not
go to Edelweiss."
"But I command you--"
"It's very kind of you, but I cannot enter a hospital--not even at
Ganlook. I may as well confess that I am a hunted man and that the
instructions are to take me dead or alive."
"Impossible!" she gasped, involuntarily shrinking from him.
"I have wronged no man, yet I am being hunted down as though I were a
beast," he said, his face turning haggard for the moment. "The hills of
Graustark, the plateaus of Axphain and the valleys of Dawsbergen are
alive with men who are bent on ending my unhappy but inconvenient
existence. It would be suicide for me to enter any one of your towns or
cities. Even you could not protect me, I fear,"
"This sounds like a dream. Oh, dear me, you don't look like a hardened
criminal," she cried.
"I am the humble leader of a faithful band who will die with me when the
time comes. We are not criminals, your highness. In return for what
service I may have performed for you, I implore you to question me no
further. Let me be your slave up to the walls of Ganlook, and then you
may forget Baldos, the goat-hunter."
"I never can forget you," she cried, touching his injured arm
gently. "Will you forget the one who gave you this wound?"
"It is a very gentle wound, and I love it so that I pray it may never
heal." She looked away suddenly.
"Tell me one thing," she said, a mist coming over her eyes. "You say
they are hunting you to the death. Then--then your fault must be a
grievous one. Have you--have you killed a man?" she added hastily. He
was silent for a long time.
"I fear I have killed more than one man," he said in low tones. Again
she shrank into the corner of the coach. "History says that your father
was a brave soldier and fought in many battles," he went on.
"Yes," she said, thinking of Major George Calhoun.
"He killed men then, perhaps, as I have killed them," he said.
"Oh, my father never killed a man!" cried Beverly, in devout horror.
"Yet Graustark reveres his mighty prowess on the field of battle," said
he, half laconically.
"Oh," she murmured, remembering that she was now the daughter of
Yetive's father. "I see. You are not a--a--a mere murderer, then?"
"No. I have been a soldier--that is all."
"Thank heaven!" she murmured, and was no longer afraid of
him. "Would--would a pardon be of any especial benefit to you?" she
asked, wondering how far her influence might go with the Princess
"It is beyond your power to help me," he said gravely. She was silent,
but it was the silence of deep reflection. "Your highness left the
castle ten days ago," he said, dismissing himself as a subject for
conversation. "Have you kept in close communication with Edelweiss
during that time?"
"I know nothing of what is going on there," she said, quite
truthfully. She only knew that she had sent a message to the Princess
Yetive, apprising her of her arrival In St. Petersburg and of her
intention to leave soon for the Graustark capital.
"Then you do not know that Mr. Lorry is still on the Dawsbergen frontier
in conference with representatives from Serros. He may not return for a
week, so Colonel Quinnox brings back word."
"It's news to me," murmured Beverly.
"You do not seem to be alarmed," he ventured. "Yet I fancy it is not a
dangerous mission, although Prince Gabriel is ready to battle at a
"I have the utmost confidence in Mr. Lorry," said Beverly, with proper
"Baron Dangloss, your minister of police, is in these mountains watching
the operations of Axphain scouts and spies."
"Is he? You are very well posted, it seems."
"Moreover, the Axphainians are planning to attack Ganlook upon the first
signal from their ruler. I do not wish to alarm your highness, but we
may as well expect trouble before we come to the Ganlook gates You are
known to be in the pass, and I am certain an effort will be made to take
possession of your person."
"They wouldn't dare!" she exclaimed." Uncle Sam would annihilate them In
"Uncle Sam? Is he related to your Aunt Fanny? I'm afraid he could do
but little against Volga's fighting men," he said, with a smile.
"They'd soon find out who Uncle Sam is if they touch me," she threatened
grandly. He seemed puzzled, but was too polite to press her for
explanations. "But, he is a long way off and couldn't do much if we were
suddenly attacked from ambush, could he? What would they do to me if I
were taken, as you suggest?" she was more concerned than she appeared to
"With you in their hands, Graustark would be utterly helpless. Volga
could demand anything she liked, and your ministry would be forced to
"I really think it would be a capital joke on the Princess Volga," mused
Beverly reflectively. He did not know what she meant, but regarded her
soft smile as the clear title to the serenity of a princess.
She sank back and gave herself over to the complications that were
likely to grow out of her involuntary deception. The one thing which
worried her more than all others was the fear that Yetive might not be
in Edelweiss. According to all reports, she had lately been in
St. Petersburg and the mere fact that she was supposed to be traveling
by coach was sufficient proof that she was not at her capital. Then
there was, of course, the possibility of trouble on the road with the
Axphain scouts, but Beverly enjoyed the optimism of youth and
Baldos, the goat-hunter, was dreamily thinking of the beautiful young
woman at his side and of the queer freak Fortune had played in bringing
them together. As he studied her face he could not but lament that
marriage, at least, established a barrier between her and the advances
his bold heart might otherwise be willing to risk. His black hair
straggled down over his forehead and his dark eyes--the patch had been
surreptitiously lifted--were unusually pensive.
"It is strange that you live in Graustark and have not seen its
princess--before," she said, laying groundwork for enquiry concerning
the acts and whereabouts of the real princess.
"May it please your highness, I have not lived long in
Graustark. Besides, it is said that half the people of Ganlook have
never looked upon your face."
"I'm not surprised at that. The proportion is much smaller than I
imagined. I have not visited Ganlook, strange as it may seem to you."
"One of my company fell in with some of your guards from the Ganlook
garrison day before yesterday. He learned that you were to reach that
city within forty-eight hours. A large detachment of men has been sent
to meet you at Labbot."
"Oh, indeed," said Beverly, very much interested.
"They must have been misinformed as to your route--or else your Russian
escort decided to take you through by the lower and more hazardous way.
It was our luck that you came by the wrong road. Otherwise we should not
have met each other--and the lion," he said, smiling reflectively.
"Where is Labbot?" asked she, intent upon the one subject uppermost in
"In the mountains many leagues north of this pass. Had you taken that
route instead of this, you would by this time have left Labbot for the
town of Erros, a half-day's journey from Ganlook. Instead of vagabonds,
your escort would have been made up of loyal soldiers, well-fed,
well-clad, and well satisfied with themselves, at least."
"But no braver, no truer than my soldiers of fortune," she said
earnestly. "By the way, are you informed as to the state of affairs in
"Scarcely as well as your highness must be," he replied.
"The young prince--what's his name?" she paused, looking to him for the
"Yes, that's it. What has become of him? I am terribly interested in
"He is a fugitive, they say."
"They haven't captured him, then? Good! I am so glad."
Baldos exhibited little or no interest in the fresh topic.
"It is strange you should have forgotten his name," he said wearily.
"Oh, I do so many ridiculous things!" complained Beverly, remembering
who she was supposed to be. "I have never seen him, you know," she
"It is not strange, your highness. He was educated in England and had
seen but little of his own country when he was called to the throne two
years ago. You remember, of course, that his mother was an
Englishwoman--Lady Ida Falconer."
"I--I think I have heard some of his history--a very little, to be
sure," she explained lamely.
"Prince Gabriel, his half brother, is the son of Prince Louis the Third
by his first wife, who was a Polish countess. After her death, when
Gabriel was two years old, the prince married Lady Ida. Dantan is their
son. He has a sister--Candace, who is but nineteen years of age."
"I am ashamed to confess that you know so much more about my neighbors
than I," she said.
"I lived in Dawsbergen for a little while, and was ever interested in
the doings of royalty. That is a poor man's privilege, you know."
"Prince Gabriel must be a terrible man," cried Beverly, her heart
swelling with tender thoughts of the exiled Dantan and his little
"You have cause to know," said he shortly, and she was perplexed until
she recalled the stories of Gabriel's misdemeanors at the court of
"Is Prince Dantan as handsome as they say he is?" she asked.
"It is entirely a matter of opinion," he replied. "I, for one, do not
consider him at all prepossessing."
The day went on, fatiguing, distressing in its length and its
happenings. Progress was necessarily slow, the perils of the road
increasing as the little cavalcade wound deeper and deeper into the
wilderness. There were times when the coach fairly crawled along the
edge of a precipice, a proceeding so hazardous that Beverly shuddered as
if in a chill. Aunt Fanny slept serenely most of the time, and Baldos
took to dreaming with his eyes wide open. Contrary to her expectations,
the Axphainians did not appear, and if there were robbers in the hills
they thought better than to attack the valorous-looking party. It dawned
upon her finally that the Axphainians were guarding the upper route and
not the one over which she was traveling. Yetive doubtless was
approaching Ganlook over the northern pass, provided the enemy had not
been encountered before Labbot was reached. Beverly soon found herself
fearing for the safety of the princess, a fear which at last became
Near nightfall they came upon three Graustark shepherds and learned that
Ganlook could not be reached before the next afternoon. The tired,
hungry travelers spent the night in a snug little valley through which a
rivulet bounded onward to the river below. The supper was a scant one,
the foragers having poor luck in the hunt for food. Daybreak saw them on
their way once more. Hunger and dread had worn down Beverly's supply of
good spirits; she was having difficulty in keeping the haggard,
distressed look from her face. Her tender, hopeful eyes were not so bold
or so merry as on the day before; cheerfulness cost her an effort, but
she managed to keep it fairly alive. Her escort, wretched and
half-starved, never forgot the deference due to their charge, but strode
steadily on with the doggedness of martyrs. At times she was impelled to
disclose her true identity, but discretion told her that deception was
her best safeguard.
Late in the afternoon of the second day the front axle of the coach
snapped in two, and a tedious delay of two hours ensued. Baldos was
strangely silent and subdued. It was not until the misfortune came that
Beverly observed the flushed condition of his face. Involuntarily and
with the compassion of a true woman she touched his hand and brow. They
were burning-hot. The wounded man was in a high fever. He laughed at her
fears and scoffed at the prospect of blood-poisoning and the hundred
other possibilities that suggested themselves to her anxious brain.
"We are close to Ganlook," he said, with the setting of the sun. "Soon
you may be relieved of your tiresome, cheerless company, your highness."
"You are going to a physician," she said, resolutely, alive and active
once more, now that the worst part of the journey was coming to an
end. "Tell that man to drive in a gallop all the rest of the way!"
THROUGH THE GANLOOK GATES
By this time they were passing the queer little huts that marked the
outskirts of a habitable community. These were the homes of shepherds,
hunters and others whose vocations related especially to the
mountains. Farther on there were signs of farming interests; the homes
became more numerous and more pretentious in appearance. The rock-lined
gorge broadened into a fertile valley; the road was smooth and level, a
condition which afforded relief to the travelers. Ravone had once more
dressed the wounds inflicted by the lion; but he was unable to provide
anything to subdue the fever. Baldos was undeniably ill. Beverly,
between her exclamations of joy and relief at being in sight of Ganlook,
was profuse in her expressions of concern for the hero of the Hawk and
Raven. The feverish gleam in his dark eyes and the pain that marked his
face touched her deeply. Suffering softened his lean, sun-browned
features, obliterating the mocking lines that had impressed her so
unfavorably at the outset. She was saying to herself that he was
handsome after a most unusual cast; it was an unforgetable face.
"Your highness," he said earnestly, after she had looked long and
anxiously at his half-closed eyes, "we are within an hour of Ganlook. It
will be dark before we reach the gates, I know, but you have nothing to
fear during the rest of the trip. Franz shall drive you to the sentry
post and turn over the horses to your own men. My friends and I must
leave you at the end of the mountain road. We are--"
"Ridiculous!" she cried. "I'll not permit it! You must go to a
"If I enter the Ganlook gates it will be the same as entering the gates
of death," he protested.
"Nonsense! You have a fever or you wouldn't talk like that. I can
promise you absolute security."
"You do not understand, your highness."
"Nevertheless, you are going to a hospital," she firmly said. "You would
die out here in the wilds, so what are the odds either way? Aunt Fanny,
_will_ you be careful? Don't you know that the least movement of
those bags hurts him?"
"Please, do not mind me, your highness. I am doing very well," he said,
The coach brought up in front of a roadside inn. While some of the men
were watering the horses others gathered about its open window. A
conversation in a tongue utterly incomprehensible to Beverly took place
between Baldos and his followers. The latter seemed to be disturbed
about something, and there was no mistaking the solicitous air with
which they regarded their leader. The pseudo-princess was patient as
long as possible and then broke into the discussion.
"What do they want?" she demanded in English.
"They are asking for instructions," he answered.
"Instruct them to do as I bid," she said. "Tell them to hurry along and
get you a doctor; that's all."
Evidently his friends were of the same opinion, for after a long
harangue in which he was obdurate to the last, they left the carriage
and he sank back with a groan of dejection.
"What is it?" she anxiously demanded.
"They also insist that I shall go to a surgeon," he said hopelessly. His
eyes were moist and he could not meet her gaze. She was full of
"They have advised me to put myself under your protection, shameless as
that may seem to a man. You and you alone have the power to protect me
if I pass beyond the walls of Ganlook."
"I?" she cried, all a-flutter.
"I could not thrust my head into the jaws of death unless the princess
of Graustark were there to stay their fury. Your royal hand alone can
turn aside the inevitable. Alas, I am helpless and know not what to do."
Beverly Calhoun sat very straight and silent beside the misguided
Baldos. After all, it was not within her power to protect him. She was
not the princess and she had absolutely no influence in Ganlook. The
authorities there could not be deceived as had been these ignorant men
of the hills. If she led him into the city it was decidedly probable
that she might be taking him to his death. She only could petition, not
command. Once at Yetive's side she was confident she could save the man
who had done so much for her, but Ganlook was many miles from Edelweiss,
and there was no assurance that intervention could be obtained in
time. On the other hand, if he went back to the hills he was likely to
die of the poisonous fever. Beverly was in a most unhappy state of
mind. If she confessed to him that she was not the princess, he would
refuse to enter the gates of Ganlook, and be perfectly justified in
"But if I should fail?" she asked, at last, a shiver rushing over her
and leaving her cold with dread.
"You are the only hope, your highness. You had better say farewell to
Baldos and let him again seek the friendly valley," said he wearily. "We
can go no farther. The soldiers must be near, your highness. It means
capture if we go on. I cannot expose my friends to the dangers. Let me
be put down here, and do you drive on to safety. I shall fare much
better than you think, for I am young and strong and--"
"No! I'll risk it," she cried. "You must go into the city. Tell them so
and say that I will protect you with my own life and honor."
Fever made him submissive; her eyes gave him confidence; her voice
soothed his fears, if he possessed them. Leaning from the window, he
called his men together. Beverly looked on in wonder as these strange
men bade farewell to their leader. Many of them were weeping, and most
of them kissed his hand. There were broken sentences, tear-choked
promises, anxious inquiries, and the parting was over.
"Where are they going?" Beverly whispered, as they moved away in the
"Back into the mountains to starve, poor fellows. God be kind to them,
God be good to them," he half sobbed, his chin dropping to his
breast. He was trembling like a leaf.
"Starve?" she whispered. "Have they no money?"
"We are penniless," came in muffled tones from the stricken leader.
Beverly leaned from the window and called to the departing ones. Ravone
and one other reluctantly approached. Without a word she opened a small
traveling bag and drew forth a heavy purse. This she pressed into the
hand of the student. It was filled with Graustark gavvos, for which she
had exchanged American gold in Russia.
"God be with you," she fervently cried. He kissed her hand, and the two
stood aside to let the coach roll on into the dusky shadows that
separated them from the gates of Ganlook, old Franz still driving--the
only one of the company left to serve his leader to the very end.
"Well, we have left them," muttered Baldos, as though to himself. "I may
never see them again--never see them again. God, how true they have
"I shall send for them the moment I get to Ganlook and I'll promise
pardons for them all," she cried rashly, in her compassion.
"No!" he exclaimed fiercely. "You are not to disturb them. Better that
they should starve."
Beverly was sufficiently subdued. As they drew nearer the city gates her
heart began to fail her. This man's life was in her weak, incapable
hands and the time was nearing when she must stand between him and
"Where are these vaunted soldiers of yours?" he suddenly asked, infinite
irony in his voice.
"My soldiers?" she said faintly.
"Isn't it rather unusual that, in time of trouble and uncertainty, we
should be able to approach within a mile of one of your most important
cities without even so much as seeing a soldier of Graustark?"
She felt that he was scoffing, but it mattered little to her.
"It is a bit odd, isn't it?" she agreed.
"Worse than that, your highness."
"I shall speak to Dangloss about it," she said serenely, and he looked
up in new surprise. Truly, she was an extraordinary princess.
Fully three-quarters of an hour passed before the coach was
checked. Beverly, looking from the windows, had seem the lighted windows
of cottages growing closer and closer together. The barking of roadside
dogs was the only sound that could be heard above the rattle of the
wheels. It was too dark inside the coach to see the face of the man
beside her, but something told her that he was staring intently into the
night, alert and anxious. The responsibility of her position swooped
down upon her like an avalanche as she thought of what the next few
minutes were to bring forth. It was the sudden stopping of the coach and
the sharp commands from the outside that told her probation was at an
end. She could no longer speculate; it was high time to act.
"The outpost," came from Baldos, in strained tones.
"Perhaps they won't know us--you, I mean," she whispered.
"Baron Dangloss knows everybody," he replied bitterly.
"What a horrid old busy-body he--" she started to say, but thought
better of it.
A couple of lanterns flashed at the window, almost blinding her. Aunt
Fanny groaned audibly, but the figure of Baldos seemed to stiffen with
defiance. Uniformed men peered into the interior with more rudeness and
curiosity than seemed respectful to a princess, to say the least. They
saw a pretty, pleading face, with wide gray eyes and parted lips, but
they did not bow in humble submission as Baldos had expected. One of the
men, evidently in command, addressed Beverly in rough but polite
tones. It was a question that he asked, she knew, but she could not
answer him, for she could not understand him.
"What do you want?" she put in English, with a creditable display of
"He does not speak English, your highness," volunteered Baldos, in a
voice so well disguised that it startled her. The officer was staring
blankly at her.
"Every officer in my army should and must learn to speak English," she
said, at her wits' end, "I decline to be questioned by the fellow. Will
you talk to him in my stead?"
"I, your highness?" he cried in dismay.
"Yes. Tell him who we are and ask where the hospital is," she murmured,
sinking back with the air of a queen, but with the inward feeling that
all was lost.
"But I don't speak your language well," he protested.
"You speak it beautifully," she said. Baldos leaned forward painfully
and spoke to the officer in the Graustark tongue.
"Don't you know your princess?" he demanded, a trifle harshly. The man's
eyes flew wide open in an instant and his jaw dropped.
"Th--the princess?" he gasped.
"Don't stare like that, sir. Direct us to the main gate at once, or you
will have cause to regret your slowness."
"But the princess was--is coming by the northern pass," mumbled the
man. "The guard has gone out to meet her and--" Baldos cut him off
shortly with the information that the princess, as he could see, had
come by the lower pass and that she was eager to reach a resting-place
at once. The convincing tone of the speaker and the regal indifference
of the lady had full effect upon the officer, who had never seen her
highness. He fell back with a deep obeisance, and gave a few bewildered
commands to his men. The coach moved off, attended by a party of
foot-soldiers, and Beverly breathed her first sigh of relief.
"You did it beautifully," she whispered to Baldos, and he was
considerably puzzled by the ardor of her praise." Where are we going
now? "she asked.
"Into the city, your highness," he answered. It was beginning to dawn
upon him that she was amazingly ignorant and inconsequential for one who
enjoyed the right to command these common soldiers. Her old trepidation
returned with this brief answer. Something told her that he was
beginning to mistrust her at last. After all, it meant everything to him
and so little to her.
When the coach halted before the city gates she was in a dire state of
unhappiness. In the darkness she could feel the reproachful eyes of old
Aunt Fanny searching for her abandoned conscience.
"Ask if Baron Dangloss is in Ganlook, and, if he is, command them to
take me to him immediately," she whispered to Baldos, a sudden
inspiration seizing her. She would lay the whole matter before the great
chief of police, and trust to fortune. Her hand fell impulsively upon
his and, to her amazement, it was as cold as ice. "What is the matter?"
she cried in alarm.
"You trusted me in the wilds, your highness," he said tensely; "I am
trusting you now." Before she could reply the officer in charge of the
Ganlook gates appeared at the coach window. There were lights on all
sides. Her heart sank like lead. It would be a miracle if she passed the
"I must see Baron Dangloss at once," she cried in English, utterly
disdaining her instructions to Baldos.
"The baron is engaged at present and can see no one," responded the
good-looking young officer in broken English.
"Where is he?" she demanded nervously.
"He is at the home of Colonel Goaz, the commandant. What is your
business with him?"
"It is with him and not with you, sir," she said, imperious once
more. "Conduct me to him immediately."
"You cannot enter the gates unless you--"
"Insolence!" exclaimed Baldos. "Is this the way, sir, in which you
address the princess? Make way for her."
"The princess!" gasped the officer. Then a peculiar smile overspread his
face. He had served three years in the Castle Guard at Edelweiss! There
was a long pause fraught with disaster for Beverly. "Yes, perhaps it is
just as well that we conduct her to Baron Dangloss," he said at
last. The deep meaning in his voice appealed only to the unhappy
girl. "There shall be no further delay, _your highness!_" he added
mockingly. A moment later the gates swung open and they passed
through. Beverly alone knew that they were going to Baron Dangloss under
heavy guard, virtually as prisoners. The man knew her to be an impostor
and was doing only his duty.
There were smiles of derision on the faces of the soldiers when Beverly
swept proudly between the files and up the steps leading to the
commandant's door, but there were no audible remarks. Baldos followed,
walking painfully but defiantly, and Aunt Fanny came last with the
handbag. The guards grinned broadly as the corpulent negress waddled up
the steps. The young officer and two men entered the door with the
wayfarers, who were ordered to halt in the hallway.
"Will your highness come with me?" said the officer, returning to the
hall after a short absence. There was unmistakable derision in his voice
and palpable insolence in his manner. Beverly flushed angrily. "Baron
Dangloss is very _curious_ to see you," he added, with a
smile. Nevertheless, he shrank a bit beneath the cold gleam in the eyes
of the impostor.
"You will remain here," she said, turning to Baldos and the
negress. "And you will have nothing whatever to say to this very
important young man." The "important young man" actually chuckled.
"Follow me, your most royal highness," he said, preceding her through
the door that opened into the office of the commandant. Baldos glared
after them in angry amazement.
"Young man, some day and _soon_ you will be a much wiser soldier
and, in the ranks," said Beverly hotly. The smile instantly receded from
the insolent fellow's face, for there was a world of prophecy in the way
she said it. Somehow, he was in a much more respectful humor when he
returned to the hall and stood in the presence of the tall, flushed
stranger with the ragged uniform.
A short, fierce little man in the picturesque uniform of a Graustark
officer arose as Beverly entered the office. His short beard bristled as
though it were concealing a smile, but his manner was polite, even
deferential. She advanced fearlessly toward him, a wayward smile
struggling into her face.
"I daresay you know I am not the princess," she said composedly. Every
vestige of fear was gone now that she had reached the line of
battle. The doughty baron looked somewhat surprised at this frank way of
opening the interview.
"I am quite well aware of it," he said politely.
"They say you know everyone, Baron Dangloss," she boldly said. "Pray,
who am I?"
The powerful official looked at the smiling face for a moment, his bushy
eyebrows contracting ever so slightly. There was a shameless streak of
dust across her cheek, but there was also a dimple there that appealed
to the grim old man. His eyes twinkled as he replied, with fine
"You are Miss Beverly Calhoun, of Washington."
THE REDOUBTABLE DANGLOSS
Beverly's eyes showed her astonishment. Baron Dangloss courteously
placed a chair for her and asked her to be seated.
"We were expecting you, Miss Calhoun," he explained. "Her royal highness
left St. Petersburg but a few hours after your departure, having
unfortunately missed you."
"You don't mean to say that the princess tried to find me in
St. Petersburg?" cried Beverly, in wonder and delight.
"That was one of the purposes of her visit," said he brusquely.
"Oh, how jolly!" cried she, her gray eyes sparkling. The grim old
captain was startled for the smallest fraction of a minute, but at once
fell to admiring the fresh, eager face of the visitor.
"The public at large is under the impression that she visited the Czar
on matters of importance," he said, with a condescending smile.
"And it really was of no importance at all, that's what you mean?" she
smiled back securely.
"Your message informing her highness of your presence in St. Petersburg
had no sooner arrived than she set forth to meet you in that city, much
against the advice of her counsellors. I will admit that she had other
business there but it could have waited. You see, Miss Calhoun, it was a
great risk at this particular time. Misfortune means disaster now. But
Providence was her friend. She arrived safely in Ganlook not an hour
"Really? Oh, Baron Dangloss, where is she?" excitedly cried the
"For the night she is stopping with the Countess Rallowitz. A force of
men, but not those whom you met at the gates, has just been dispatched
at her command to search for you in the lower pass. You took the most
dangerous road, Miss Calhoun, and I am amazed that you came through in
"The Russians chose the lower pass, I know not why. Of course, I was
quite ignorant. However, we met neither brigands nor soldiers, Axphain
or Graustark. I encountered nothing more alarming than a mountain
lion. And that, Baron Dangloss, recalls me to the sense of a duty I have
been neglecting. A poor wanderer in the hills defended me against the
beast and was badly wounded. He must be taken to a hospital at once,
sir, where he may have the proper care."
Whereupon, at his request, she hurriedly related the story of that
trying journey through the mountains, not forgetting to paint the
courage of Baldos in most glowing colors. The chief was deeply
interested in the story of the goat-hunter and his party. There was an
odd gleam of satisfaction in his eyes, but she did not observe it.
"You _will_ see that he has immediate attention, won't you?" she
implored in the end.
"He shall have our deepest consideration," promised he.
"You know I am rather interested, because I shot him, just as if it were
not enough that his legs were being torn by the brute at the time. He
ought not to walk, Baron Dangloss. If you don't mind, I'd suggest an
ambulance," she hurried on glibly. He could not conceal the smile that
her eagerness inspired. "Really, he is in a serious condition. I think
he needs some quinine and whiskey, too, and--"
"He shall have the _best_ of care," interrupted the captain. "Leave
him to me, Miss Calhoun."
"Now, let me tell you something," said she, after due reflection. "You
must not pay any attention to what he says. He is liable to be delirious
and talk in a terrible sort of way. You know delirious people never talk
rationally." She was loyally trying to protect Baldos, the hunted,
against any incriminating statements he might make.
"Quite right, Miss Calhoun," said the baron very gravely.
"And now, I'd like to go to the princess," said Beverly, absolutely sure
of herself." You know we are great friends, she and I."
"I have sent a messenger to announce your arrival. She will expect you."
Beverly looked about the room in perplexity.
"But there has been no messenger here," she said.
"He left here some minutes before you came. I knew who it was that came
knocking at our gates, even though she traveled as Princess Yetive of
"And, oh! that reminds me, Baron Dangloss, Baldos still believes me to
be the princess. Is it necessary to--to tell him the truth about me?
Just at present, I mean? I'm sure he'll rest much easier if he doesn't
"So far as I am concerned, Miss Calhoun, he shall always regard you as a
queen," said Dangloss gallantly.
"Thank you. It's very nice of you to--"
A man in uniform entered after knocking at the door of the room. He
saluted his superior and uttered a few words in his own language.
"Her royal highness is awaiting you at the home of the countess, Miss
Calhoun. A detail of men will escort you and your servant to her place."
"Now, please, Baron Dangloss," pleaded Beverly at the door, "be nice to
him. You know it hurts him to walk. Can't you have him carried in?"
"If he will consent," said he quietly. Beverly hurried into the outer
room, after giving the baron a smile he never forgot. Baldos looked up
"It's all right," she said in low tones, pausing for a moment beside his
chair. "Don't get up! Good-bye. I'll come to see you to-morrow. Don't be
in the least disturbed. Baron Dangloss has his instructions."
Impulsively giving him her hand which he respectfully raised to his
lips, she followed Aunt Fanny and was gone.
Almost immediately Baldos was requested to present himself before Baron
Dangloss in the adjoining room. Refusing to be carried in, he resolutely
strode through the door and stood before the grim old captain of police,
an easy, confident smile on his face. The black patch once more covered
his eye with defiant assertiveness.
"They tell me you are Baldos, a goat-hunter," said Baron Dangloss,
eyeing him keenly.
"And you were hurt in defending one who is of much consequence in
Graustark. Sit down, my good fellow." Baldos' eyes gleamed coldly for an
instant. Then he sank into a chair. "While admitting that you have done
Graustark a great service, I am obliged to tell you that I, at least,
know you to be other than what you say. You are not a goat-hunter, and
Baldos is not your name. Am I not right?"
"You have had instructions from your sovereign, Baron Dangloss. Did they
include a command to cross-question me?" asked Baldos
haughtily. Dangloss hesitated for a full minute.
"They did not. I take the liberty of inquiring on my own
"Very well, sir. Until you have a right to question me, I am Baldos and
a goat-hunter. I think I am here to receive surgical treatment."
"You decline to tell me anything concerning yourself?"
"Only that I am injured and need relief."
"Perhaps I know more about you than you suspect, sir."
"I am not in the least interested, Baron Dangloss, in what you know. The
princess brought me into Ganlook, and I have her promise of help and
protection while here. That is all I have to say, except that I have
implicit faith in her word."
Dangloss sat watching him in silence for some time. No one but himself
knew what was going on in that shrewd, speculative mind. At length he
arose and approached the proud fellow in rags.
"You have earned every consideration at our hands. My men will take you
to the hospital and you shall have the best of care. You have served our
princess well. To-morrow you may feel inclined to talk more freely with
me, for I am your friend, Baldos."
"I am grateful for that, Baron Dangloss," said the other simply. Then he
was led away and a comfortable cot in the Ganlook hospital soon held his
long, feverish frame, while capable hands took care of his wounds. He
did not know it, but two fully armed soldiers maintained a careful guard
outside his door under instructions from the head of the police.
Moreover, a picked detail of men sallied forth into the lower pass in
search of the goat-hunter's followers.
In the meantime Beverly was conducted to the home of the Countess
Rallowitz. Her meeting with the princess was most affectionate. There
were tears, laughter and kisses. The whole atmosphere of the place
suggested romance to the eager American girl. Downstairs were the royal
guards; in the halls were attendants; all about were maidservants and
obsequious lackeys, crowding the home of the kindly countess. At last,
comfortable and free from the dust of travel, the two friends sat down
to a dainty meal.
"Oh, I am so delighted," murmured Beverly for the hundredth time.
"I'm appalled when I think of the dangers you incurred in coming to
me. No one but a very foolish American girl could have undertaken such a
trip as this. Dear me, Beverly, I should have died if anything dreadful
had happened to you. Why did you do it?" questioned the princess. And
then they laughed joyously.
"And you went all the way to St. Petersburg to meet me, you dear, dear
Yetive," cried Beverly, so warmly that the attentive servant forgot his
mask of reverence.
"Wasn't it ridiculous of me? I know Gren would have forbidden it if he
had been in Edelweiss when I started. And, more shame to me, the poor
fellow is doubtless at the conference with Dawsbergen, utterly ignorant
of my escapade. You should have heard the ministry--er--ah--"and the
princess paused for an English word.
"Kick?" Beverly supplied.
"Yes. They objected violently. And, do you know, I was finally compelled
to issue a private edict to restrain them from sending an appeal to
Grenfall away off there on the frontier. Whether or no, my uncle
insisted that he should be brought home, a three-days' journey, in order
that he might keep me from going to St. Petersburg. Of course, they
could not disobey my edict, and so poor Gren is none the wiser, unless
he has returned from the conference. If he has, I am sure he is on the
way to Ganlook at this very minute."
"What a whimsical ruler you are," cried Beverly. "Upsetting everything
sensible just to rush off hundreds of miles to meet me. And Axphain is
trying to capture you, too! Goodness, you must love me!"
"Oh, but I _did_ have a trifling affair of state to lay before the
Czar, my dear. To-morrow we shall be safe and sound in the castle and it
will all be very much worth while. You see, Beverly, dear, even
princesses enjoy a diversion now and then. One wouldn't think anything
of this adventure in the United States; it is the environment that makes
it noticeable. Besides, you traveled as a princess. How did you like
And then the conversation related particularly to the advantages of
royalty as viewed from one side and the disadvantages as regarded from
another. For a long time Beverly had been wondering how she should
proceed in the effort to secure absolute clemency for Baldos. As yet she
had said nothing to Yetive of her promise to him, made while she was a
"At any rate, I'm sure the goat-hunters would not have been so faithful
and true if they had not believed me to be a princess," said Beverly,
paving the way." You haven't a man in your kingdom who could be more
chivalrous than Baldos."
"If he is that kind of a man, he would treat any woman as gently."
"You should have heard him call me 'your highness,'" cried Beverly. "He
will loathe me if he ever learns that I deceived him."
"Oh, I think he deceived himself," spoke Yetive easily." Besides, you
look as much like a princess as I."
"There is something I want to speak very seriously about to you,
Yetive," said Beverly, making ready for the cast. "You see, he did not
want to enter Ganlook with me, but I insisted. He had been so brave and
gallant, and he was suffering so intensely. It would have been criminal
in me to leave him out there in the wilderness, wouldn't it?"
"It would have been heartless."
"So I just made him come along. That was right, wasn't it? That's what
you would have done, no matter who he was or what his objections might
have been. Well, you see, it's this way, Yetive: he is some sort of a
fugitive--not a criminal, you know--but just some one they are hunting
for, I don't know why. He wouldn't tell me. That was perfectly right, if
he felt that way, wasn't it?"
"And he had fought a lion in your defense," supplemented Yetive, with a
"And I had shot him in the arm, too," added Beverly. "So of course, I
just had to be reasonable. In order to induce him to come with me to a
hospital, I was obliged to guarantee perfect safety to him. His men went
back to the hills, all except old Franz, the driver. Now, the trouble is
this, Yetive: I am _not_ the princess and I cannot redeem a single
promise I made to him. He is helpless, and if anything goes wrong with
him he will hate me forever."
"No; he will hate _me_ for I am the princess and he is none the
"But he will be told that his princess was Beverly Calhoun, a supposedly
nice American girl. Don't you see how awkward it will be for me? Now,
Yetive, darling, what I wish you to do is to write a note, order or
edict or whatever it is to Baron Dangloss, commanding him to treat
Baldos as a patient and not as a prisoner; and that when he is fully
recovered he is to have the privilege of leaving Ganlook without
"But he may be a desperate offender against the state, Beverly."
plaintively protested Yetive. "If we only knew what he is charged with!"
"I'm afraid it's something dreadfully serious," admitted Beverly
gloomily." He doesn't look like the sort of man who would engage in a
petty undertaking. I'll tell you his story, just as he told it to me,"
and she repeated the meagre confessions of Baldos.
"I see no reason why we should hesitate," said the princess. "By his own
statement, he is not a desperate criminal. You did quite right in
promising him protection, dear, and I shall sustain you. Do you want to
play the princess to Baldos a little longer?"
"I should love it," cried Beverly, her eyes sparkling.
"Then I shall write the order to Dangloss at once. Oh, dear, I have
forgotten, I have no official seal here."
"Couldn't you seal it with your ring?" suggested Beverly. "Oh, I have
it! Send for Baron Dangloss and have him witness your signature. He
can't get away from that, you see, and after we reach Edelweiss, you can
fix up a regular edict, seal and all," cried the resourceful American
Ink and paper were sent for and the two conspirators lent their wisdom
to the task of preparing an order for the salvation of Baldos, the
fugitive. The order read:
To BARON JASTO DANGLOSS, COMMANDING THE CIVIC AND MILITARY POLICE OF
"You are hereby informed that Baldos, the man who entered the city
with Miss Calhoun, is not to be regarded as a prisoner now or
hereafter. He is to be given capable medical and surgical attention
until fully recovered, when he is to be allowed to go his way in peace
"Also, he is to be provided with suitable wearing apparel and made
comfortable in every way.
"Also, the members of his party, now in the hills (whose names are
unknown to me), are to be accorded every protection. Franz, the
driver, is to have his freedom if he desires it.
"And from this edict there is no recourse until its abatement by royal
"There," said the princess, affixing her signature "I think that will be
sufficient." Then she rang for a servant. "Send to Baron Dangloss and
ask him to come here at once."
Fifteen minutes later the chief of police stood in the presence of the
eager young interpreters of justice.
"I want you to witness my signature, Baron Dangloss," said the princess
after the greetings.
"Gladly," said the officer.
"Well, here is where I signed," said Yetive, handing him the paper. "I
don't have to write my name over again, do I?"
"Not at all," said the baron gallantly. And he boldly signed his name as
"They wouldn't do that in the United States," murmured Beverly, who knew
something about red tape at Washington.
"It is a command to you, baron," said Yetive, handing him the document
with a rare smile. He read it through slowly. Then he bit his lip and
coughed. "What is the matter, baron?" asked Yetive, still smiling.
"A transitory emotion, your highness, that is all," said he; but his
hand trembled as he folded the paper.
INSIDE THE CASTLE WALLS
Bright and early the next morning the party was ready for the last of
the journey to Edelweiss. Less than twenty miles separated Ganlook from
the capital, and the road was in excellent condition. Beverly Calhoun,
tired and contented, had slept soundly until aroused by the princess
herself. Their rooms adjoined each other, and when Yetive, shortly after
daybreak, stole into the American girl's chamber, Beverly was sleeping
so sweetly that the intruder would have retreated had it not been for
the boisterous shouts of stable-boys in the courtyard below the
windows. She hurried to a window and looked out upon the gray-cloaked
morning. Postillions and stable-boys were congregated near the gates,
tormenting a ragged old man who stood with his back against one of the
huge posts. In some curiosity, she called Beverly from her slumbers,
urging the sleepy one to hasten to the window.
"Is this one of your friends from the wilderness?" she asked.
"It's Franz!" cried Beverly, rubbing her pretty eyes. Then she became
thoroughly awake. "What are they doing to him? Who are those ruffians?"
she demanded indignantly.
"They are my servants, and--"
"Shame on them! The wretches! What has old Franz done that they
should--Call to them! Tell 'em you'll cut their heads off if they don't
stop. He's a dear old fellow in spite of his rags, and he--"
The window-sash flew open and the tormentors in the court below were
astonished by the sound of a woman's voice, coming, as it were, from the
clouds. A dozen pairs of eyes were turned upward; the commotion ended
suddenly. In the window above stood two graceful, white-robed
figures. The sun, still far below the ridge of mountains, had not yet
robbed the morning of the gray, dewy shadows that belong to five
"What are you doing to that poor old man?" cried Yetive, and it was the
first time any of them had seen anger in the princess's face. They slunk
back in dismay. "Let him alone! You, Gartz, see that he has food and
drink, and without delay. Report to me later on, sir, and explain, if
you can, why you have conducted yourselves in so unbecoming a manner."
Then the window was closed and the princess found herself in the warm
arms of her friend.
"I couldn't understand a word you said, Yetive? but I knew you were
giving it to them hot and heavy. Did you see how nicely old Franz bowed
to you? Goodness, his head almost touched the ground."
"He was bowing to you, Beverly. You forgot that you are the princess to
"Isn't that funny? I had quite forgotten it--the poor old goose."
Later, when the coaches and escort were drawn up in front of the
Rallowitz palace ready for the start, the princess called the chief
postillion, Gartz, to the step of her coach.
"What was the meaning of the disturbance I witnessed this morning?" she
Gartz hung his head. "We thought the man was crazy, your highness. He
had been telling us such monstrous lies," he mumbled.
"Are you sure they were lies?"
"Oh, quite sure, your highness. They were laughable. He said, for one
thing, that it was he who drove your highness's coach into Ganlook last
evening, when everybody knows that I had full charge of the coach and
"You are very much mistaken, Gartz," she said, distinctly. He blinked
"Your highness," he gasped, "you surely remember--"
"Enough, sir. Franz drove the princess into Ganlook last night. He says
so himself, does he not?"
"Yes, your highness," murmured poor Gartz.
"What more did he say to you?"
"He said he had come from his master, who is in the hospital, to inquire
after your health and to bear his thanks for the kindnesses you have
secured for him. He says his master is faring well and is satisfied to
remain where he is. Also, he said that his master was sending him back
into the mountains to assure his friends that he is safe and to bear a
certain message of cheer to them, sent forth by the princess. It was all
so foolish and crazy, your highness, that we could but jibe and laugh at
the poor creature."
"It is you who have been foolish, sir. Send the old man to me."
"He has gone, your highness," in frightened tones.
"So much the better," said the princess, dismissing him with a wave of
the hand. Gartz went away in a daze, and for days he took every
opportunity to look for other signs of mental disorder in the conduct of
his mistress, at the same time indulging in speculation as to his own
soundness of mind.
Ganlook's population lined the chief thoroughfare, awaiting the
departure of the princess, although the hour was early. Beverly peered
forth curiously as the coach moved off. The quaint, half-oriental
costumes of the townspeople, the odd little children, the bright colors,
the perfect love and reverence that shone in the faces of the multitude
impressed her deeply. She was never to forget that picturesque
morning. Baron Dangloss rode beside the coach until it passed through
the southern gates and into the countryside. A company of cavalrymen
acted as escort. The bright red trousers and top-boots, with the
deep-blue jackets, reminded Beverly more than ever of the operatic
figures she had seen so often at home. There was a fierce, dark cast to
the faces of these soldiers, however, that removed any suggestion of
play. The girl was in ecstasies. Everything about her appealed to the
romantic side of her nature; everything seemed so unreal and so like the
storybook. The princess smiled lovingly upon the throngs that lined the
street; there was no man among them who would not have laid down his
life for the gracious ruler.
"Oh, I love your soldiers," cried Beverly warmly.
"Poor fellows, who knows how soon they may be called upon to face death
in the Dawsbergen hills?" said Yetive, a shadow crossing her face.
Dangloss was to remain in Ganlook for several days, on guard against
manifestations by the Axphainians. A corps of spies and scouts was
working with him, and couriers were ready to ride at a moment's notice
to the castle in Edelweiss. Before they parted, Beverly extracted a
renewal of his promise to take good care of Baldos. She sent a message
to the injured man, deploring the fact that she was compelled to leave
Ganlook without seeing him as she had promised. It was her intention to
have him come to Edelweiss as soon as he was in a condition to be
removed. Captain Dangloss smiled mysteriously, but he had no comment to
make. He had received his orders and was obeying them to the letter.
"I wonder if Grenfall has heard of my harum-scarum trip to
St. Petersburg," reflected Yetive, making herself comfortable in the
coach after the gates and the multitudes were far behind.
"I'll go you a box of chocolate creams that we meet him before we get to
Edelweiss," ventured Beverly.
"Agreed," said the princess.
"Don't say 'agreed,' dear. 'Done' is the word," corrected the American
Beverly won. Grenfall Lorry and a small company of horsemen rode up in
furious haste long before the sun was in mid-sky. An attempt to depict
the scene between him and his venturesome wife would be a hopeless
task. The way in which his face cleared itself of distress and worry was
a joy in itself. To use his own words, he breathed freely for the first
time in hours. "The American" took the place of the officer who rode
beside the coach, and the trio kept up an eager, interesting
conversation during the next two hours.
It was a warm, sleepy day, but all signs of drowsiness disappeared with
the advent of Lorry. He had reached Edelweiss late the night before,
after a three days' ride from the conference with Dawsbergen. At first
he encountered trouble in trying to discover what had become of the
princess. Those at the castle were aware of the fact that she had
reached Ganlook safely and sought to put him off with subterfuges. He
stormed to such a degree, however, that their object failed. The result
was that he was off for Ganlook with the earliest light of day.
Regarding the conference with Prince Gabriel's representatives, he had
but little to say. The escaped murderer naturally refused to surrender
and was to all appearances quite firmly established in power once
more. Lorry's only hope was that the reversal of feeling in Dawsbergen
might work ruin for the prince. He was carrying affairs with a high
hand, dealing vengeful blows to the friends of his half-brother and
encouraging a lawlessness that sooner or later must prove his
undoing. His representatives at the conference were an arrogant,
law-defying set of men who laughed scornfully at every proposal made by
"We told them that if he were not surrendered to our authorities inside
of sixty days we would declare war and go down and take him," concluded
"Two months," cried Yetive. "I don't understand."
"There was method in that ultimatum. Axphain, of course, will set up a
howl, but we can forestall any action the Princess Volga may
undertake. Naturally, one might suspect that we should declare war at
once, inasmuch as he must be taken sooner or later. But here is the
point: before two months have elapsed the better element of Dawsbergen
will be so disgusted with the new dose of Gabriel that it will do
anything to avert a war on his account. We have led them to believe that
Axphain will lend moral, if not physical, support to our cause. Give
them two months in which to get over this tremendous hysteria, and
they'll find their senses. Gabriel isn't worth it, you see, and down in
their hearts they know it. They really loved young Dantan, who seems to
be a devil of a good fellow. I'll wager my head that in six weeks
they'll be wishing he were back on the throne again. And just to think
of it, Yetive, dear, you were off there in the very heart of Axphain,
risking everything," he cried, wiping the moisture from his brow.
"It is just eleven days since I left Edelweiss, and I have had a lovely
journey," she said, with one of her rare smiles. He shook his head
gravely, and she resolved in her heart never to give him another such
cause for alarm.
"And in the meantime, Mr. Grenfall Lorry, you are blaming me and hating
me and all that for being the real cause of your wife's escapade," said
Beverly Calhoun plaintively. "I'm awfully sorry. But, you must remember
one thing, sir; I did not put her up to this ridiculous trip. She did it
of her own free will and accord. Besides, I am the one who met the lion
and almost got devoured, not Yetive, if you please."
"I'll punish you by turning you over to old Count Marlanx, the commander
of the army in Graustark," said Lorry, laughingly. "He's a terrible
ogre, worse than any lion."
"Heaven pity you, Beverly, if you fall into his clutches," cried
Yetive. "He has had five wives and survives to look for a sixth. You see
how terrible it would be."
"I'm not afraid of him," boasted Beverly, but there came a time when she
thought of those words with a shudder.
"By the way, Yetive, I have had word from Harry Anguish. He and the
countess will leave Paris this week, if the baby's willing, and will be
in Edelweiss soon. You don't know how it relieves me to know that Harry
will be with us at this time."
Yetive's eyes answered his enthusiasm. Both had a warm and grateful
memory of the loyal service which the young American had rendered his
friend when they had first come to Graustark in quest of the princess;
and both had a great regard for his wife, the Countess Dagmar, who, as
Yetive's lady in waiting, had been through all the perils of those
exciting days with them.
As they drew near the gates of Edelweiss, a large body of horsemen rode
forth to meet them. The afternoon was well on the way to night, and the
air of the valley was cool and refreshing, despite the rays of the June
"Edelweiss at last," murmured Beverly, her face aglow. "The heart of
Graustark. Do you know that I have been brushing up on my grammar? I
have learned the meaning of the word 'Graustark,' and it seems so
appropriate. _Grau_ is gray, hoary, old; _stark_ is
strong. Old and strong--isn't it, dear?"
"And here rides the oldest and strongest man in all Graustark--the Iron
Count of Marlanx," said Yetive, looking down the road. "See--the strange
gray man in front there is our greatest general, our craftiest fighter,
our most heartless warrior. Does he not look like the eagle or the
A moment later the parties met, and the newcomers swung into line with
the escort. Two men rode up to the carriage and saluted. One was Count
Marlanx, the other Colonel Quinnox, of the Royal Guard. The count, lean
and gray as a wolf, revealed rows of huge white teeth in his perfunctory
smile of welcome, while young Quinnox's face fairly beamed with honest
joy. In the post that he held, he was but following in the footsteps of
his forefathers. Since history began in Graustark, a Quinnox had been in
charge of the castle guard.
The "Iron Count," as he sometimes was called, was past his sixtieth
year. For twenty years he had been in command of the army. One had but
to look at his strong, sardonic face to know that he was a fearless
leader, a savage fighter. His eyes were black, piercing and never quiet;
his hair and close-cropped beard were almost snow-white; his voice was
heavy and without a vestige of warmth. Since her babyhood Yetive had
stood in awe of this grim old warrior. It was no uncommon thing for
mothers to subdue disobedient children with the threat to give them over
to the "Iron Count." "Old Marlanx will get you if you're not good," was
a household phrase in Edelweiss. He had been married five times and as
many times had he been left a widower. If he were disconsolate in any
instance, no one had been able to discover the fact. Enormously rich, as
riches go in Graustark, he had found young women for his wives who
thought only of his gold and his lands in the trade they made with
Cupid. It was said that without exception they died happy. Death was a
joy. The fortress overlooking the valley to the south was no more rugged
and unyielding than the man who made his home within its walls. He lived
there from choice and it was with his own money that he fitted up the
commandant's quarters in truly regal style. Power was more to him than
wealth, though he enjoyed both.
Colonel Quinnox brought news from the castle. Yetive's uncle and aunt,
the Count and Countess Halfont, were eagerly expecting her return, and
the city was preparing to manifest its joy in the most exuberant
fashion. As they drew up to the gates the shouts of the people came to
the ears of the travelers. Then the boom of cannon and the blare of
bands broke upon the air, thrilling Beverly to the heart. She wondered
how Yetive could be so calm and unmoved in the face of all this homage.
Past the great Hotel Regengetz and the Tower moved the gay procession,
into the broad stretch of boulevard that led to the gates of the palace
grounds. The gates stood wide open and inviting. Inside was Jacob
Fraasch, the chief steward of the grounds, with his men drawn up in
line; upon the walls the sentries came to parade rest; on the plaza the
Royal band was playing as though by inspiration. Then the gates closed
behind the coach and escort, and Beverly Calhoun was safe inside the
castle walls. The "Iron Count" handed her from the carriage at the
portals of the palace, and she stood as one in a dream.
THE ROYAL COACH OF GRAUSTARK
The two weeks following Beverly Calhoun's advent into the royal
household were filled with joy and wonder for her. Daily she sent
glowing letters to her father, mother and brothers in Washington,
elaborating vastly upon the paradise into which she had fallen. To her
highly emotional mind, the praises of Graustark had been but poorly
sung. The huge old castle, relic of the feudal days, with its turrets
and bastions and portcullises, Impressed her with a never-ending sense
of wonder. Its great halls and stairways, its chapel, the throne-room,
and the armor-closet; its underground passages and dungeons all united
to fill her imaginative soul with the richest, rarest joys of
finance. Simple American girl that she was, unused to the rigorous
etiquette of royalty, she found embarrassment in the first confusion of
events, but she was not long in recovering her poise.
Her apartments were near those of the Princess Yetive. In the private
intercourse enjoyed by these women, all manner of restraint was
abandoned by the visitor and every vestige of royalty slipped from the
princess. Count Halfont and his adorable wife, the Countess Yvonne, both
of whom had grown old in the court, found the girl and her strange
servant a source of wonder and delight.
Some days after Beverly's arrival there came to the castle Harry Anguish
and his wife, the vivacious Dagmar. With them came the year-old cooing
babe who was to overthrow the heart and head of every being in the
household, from princess down. The tiny Dagmar became queen at once, and
no one disputed her rule.
Anguish, the painter, became Anguish, the strategist and soldier. He
planned with Lorry and the ministry, advancing some of the most
hair-brained projects that ever encouraged discussion in a solemn
conclave. The staid, cautious ministers looked upon him with wonder, but
so plausible did he made his proposals appear that they were forced to
consider them seriously. The old Count of Marlanx held him in great
disdain, and did not hesitate to expose his contempt. This did not
disturb Anguish in the least, for he was as optimistic as the
sunshine. His plan for the recapture of Gabriel was ridiculously
improbable, but it was afterwards seen that had it been attempted much
distress and delay might actually have been avoided.
Yetive and Beverly, with Dagmar and the baby, made merry while the men
were in council. Their mornings were spent in the shady park surrounding
the castle, their afternoons in driving, riding and walking. Oftentimes
the princess was barred from these simple pleasures by the exigencies of
her position. She was obliged to grant audiences, observe certain
customs of state, attend to the charities that came directly under her
supervision, and confer with the nobles on affairs of weight and
importance. Beverly delighted in the throne-room and the underground
passages; they signified more to her than all the rest. She was shown
the room in which Lorry had foiled the Viennese who once tried to abduct
Yetive. The dungeon where Gabriel spent his first days of confinement,
the Tower in which Lorry had been held a prisoner, and the monastery in
the clouds were all places of unusual interest to her.
Soon the people of the city began to recognize the fair American girl
who was a guest in the castle, and a certain amount of homage was paid
to her. When she rode or drove in the streets, with her attendant
soldiers, the people bowed as deeply and as respectfully as they did to
the princess herself, and Beverly was just as grand and gracious as if
she had been born with a sceptre in her hand.
The soft moonlight nights charmed her with a sense of rapture never
known before. With the castle brilliantly illuminated, the halls and
drawing-rooms filled with gay courtiers, the harpists at their posts,
the military band playing in the parade ground, the balconies and
porches offering their most inviting allurements, it is no wonder that
Beverly was entranced. War had no terrors for her. If she thought of it
at all, it was with the fear that it might disturb the dream into which
she had fallen. True, there was little or nothing to distress the most
timid in these first days. The controversy between the principalities
was at a standstill, although there was not an hour in which
preparations for the worst were neglected. To Beverly Calhoun, it meant
little when sentiment was laid aside; to Yetive and her people this
probable war with Dawsbergen meant everything.
Dangloss, going back and forth between Edelweiss and the frontier north
of Ganlook, where the best of the police and secret service watched with
the sleepless eyes of the lynx, brought unsettling news to the
ministry. Axphain troops were engaged in the annual maneuvers just
across the border in their own territory. Usually these were held in the
plains near the capital, and there was a sinister significance in the
fact that this year they were being carried on in the rough southern
extremity of the principality, within a day's march of the Graustark
line, fully two months earlier than usual. The doughty baron reported
that foot, horse and artillery were engaged in the drills, and that
fully 8,000 men were massed in the south of Axphain. The fortifications
of Ganlook, Labbot and other towns in northern Graustark were
strengthened with almost the same care as those in the south, where
conflict with Dawsbergen might first be expected. General Marlanx and
his staff rested neither day nor night. The army of Graustark was
ready. Underneath the castle's gay exterior there smouldered the fire of
battle, the tremor of defiance.
Late one afternoon Beverly Calhoun and Mrs. Anguish drove up in state to
the Tower, wherein sat Dangloss and his watchdogs. The scowl left his
face as far as nature would permit and he welcomed the ladies warmly.
"I came to ask about my friend, the goat-hunter," said Beverly, her
cheeks a trifle rosier than usual.
"He is far from an amiable person, your highness," said the
officer. When discussing Baldos he never failed to address Beverly as
"your highness." "The fever is gone and he is able to walk without much
pain, but he is as restless as a witch. Following instructions, I have
not questioned him concerning his plans, but I fancy he is eager to
return to the hills."
"What did he say when you gave him my message?" asked Beverly.
"Which one, your highness?" asked he, with tantalizing density.
"Why, the suggestion that he should come to Edelweiss for better
treatment," retorted Beverly severely.
"He said he was extremely grateful for your kind offices, but he did not
deem it advisable to come to this city. He requested me to thank you in
his behalf and to tell you that he will never forget what you have done
"And he refuses to come to Edelweiss?" irritably demanded Beverly.
"Yes, your highness. You see, he still regards himself with disfavor,
being a fugitive. It is hardly fair to blame him for respecting the
security of the hills."
"I hoped that I might induce him to give up his old life and engage in
something perfectly honest, although, mind you, Baron Dangloss, I do not
question his integrity in the least. He should have a chance to prove
himself worthy, that's all. This morning I petitioned Count Marlanx to
give him a place in the Castle Guard."
"My dear Miss Calhoun, the princess has--" began the captain.
"Her highness has sanctioned the request," interrupted she.
"And the count has promised to discover a vacancy," said Dagmar, with a
smile that the baron understood perfectly well.
"This is the first time on record that old Marlanx has ever done
anything to oblige a soul save himself. It is wonderful, Miss
Calhoun. What spell do you Americans cast over rock and metal that they
become as sand in your fingers?" said the baron, admiration and wonder
in his eyes.
"You dear old flatterer," cried Beverly, so warmly that he caught his
"I believe that you can conquer even that stubborn fellow in Ganlook,"
he said, fumbling with his glasses. "He is the most obstinate being I
know, and yet in ten minutes you could bring him to terms, I am sure.
He could not resist you."
"He still thinks I am the princess?"
"He does, and swears by you."
"Then, my mind is made up. I'll go to Ganlook and bring him back with
me, willy-nilly. He is too good a man to be lost in the hills. Good-bye,
Baron Dangloss. Thank you ever and ever so much. Oh, yes; will you write
an order delivering him over to me? The hospital people may
be--er--disobliging, you know."
"It shall be in your highness's hands this evening."
The next morning, with Colonel Quinnox and a small escort, Beverly
Calhoun set off in one of the royal coaches for Ganlook, accompanied by
faithful Aunt Fanny. She carried the order from Baron Dangloss and a
letter from Yetive to the Countess Rallowitz, insuring hospitality over
night in the northern town. Lorry and the royal household entered
merrily into her project, and she went away with the godspeeds of
all. The Iron Count himself rode beside her coach to the city gates, an
"Now, you'll be sure to find a nice place for him in the castle guard,
won't you, Count Marlanx?" she said at the parting, her hopes as fresh
as the daisy in the dew, her confidence supreme. The count promised
faithfully, even eagerly. Colonel Quinnox, trained as he was in the
diplomacy of silence, could scarcely conceal his astonishment at the
conquest of the hard old warrior.
Although the afternoon was well spent before Beverly reached Ganlook,
she was resolved to visit the obdurate patient at once, relying upon her
resourcefulness to secure his promise to start with her for Edelweiss on
the following morning. The coach delivered her at the hospital door in
grand style. When the visitor was ushered into the snug little room of
the governor's office, her heart was throbbing and her composure was
undergoing a most unusual strain. It annoyed her to discover that the
approaching contact with an humble goat-hunter was giving her such
unmistakable symptoms of perturbation.
From an upstairs window in the hospital the convalescent but unhappy
patient witnessed her approach and arrival. His sore, lonely heart gave
a bound of joy, for the days had seemed long since her departure.
He had had time to think during these days, too. Turning over in his
mind all of the details in connection with their meeting and their
subsequent intercourse, it began to dawn upon him that she might not be
what she assumed to be. Doubts assailed him, suspicions grew into
amazing forms of certainty. There were times when he laughed
sardonically at himself for being taken in by this strange but charming
young woman, but through it all his heart and mind were being drawn more
and more fervently toward her. More than once he called himself a fool
and more than once he dreamed foolish dreams of her--princess or not. Of
one thing he was sure: he had come to love the adventure for the sake of
what it promised and there was no bitterness beneath his suspicions.
Arrayed in clean linen and presentable clothes, pale from indoor
confinement and fever, but once more the straight and strong cavalier of
the hills, he hastened into her presence when the summons came for him
to descend. He dropped to his knee and kissed her hand, determined to
play the game, notwithstanding his doubts. As he arose she glanced for a
flitting second into his dark eyes, and her own long lashes drooped.
"Your highness!" he said gratefully.
"How well and strong you look," she said hurriedly. "Some of the tan is
gone, but you look as though you had never been ill. Are you quite
"They say I am as good as new," he smilingly answered. "A trifle weak
and uncertain in my lower extremities, but a few days of exercise in the
mountains will overcome all that. Is all well with you and Graustark?
They will give me no news here, by whose order I do not know."
"Turn about is fair play, sir. It is a well-established fact that you
will give _them_ no news. Yes, all is well with me and mine. Were
you beginning to think that I had deserted you? It has been two weeks,
"Ah, your highness, I realize that you have had much more important
things to do than to think of poor Baldos, I am exceedingly grateful for
this sign of interest in my welfare. Your visit is the brightest
experience of my life."
"Be seated!" she cried suddenly. "You are too ill to stand."
"Were I dying I should refuse to be seated while your highness stands,"
said he simply. His shoulders seemed to square themselves involuntarily
and his left hand twitched as though accustomed to the habit of touching
a sword-hilt. Beverly sat down instantly; with his usual easy grace, he
took a chair near by. They were alone in the ante-chamber.
"Even though you were on your last legs?" she murmured, and then
wondered how she could have uttered anything so inane. Somehow, she was
beginning to fear that he was not the ordinary person she had judged him
to be. "You are to be discharged from the hospital to-morrow," she added
"To-morrow?" he cried, his eyes lighting with joy. "I may go then?"
"I have decided to take you to Edelweiss with me," she said, very much
as if that were all there was to it. He stared at her for a full minute
as though doubting his ears.
"No!" he said, at last, his jaws settling, his eyes glistening. It was a
terrible setback for Beverly's confidence. "Your highness forgets that I
have your promise of absolute freedom."
"But you are to be free," she protested. "You have nothing to fear. It
is not compulsory, you know. You don't have to go unless you really want
to. But my heart is set on having you in--in the castle guard." His
bitter, mocking laugh surprised and wounded her, which he was quick to
see, for his contrition was immediate.
"Pardon, your highness. I am a rude, ungrateful wretch, and I deserve
punishment instead of reward. The proposal was so astounding that I
forgot myself completely," he said.
Whereupon, catching him in this contrite mood, she began a determined
assault against his resolution. For an hour she devoted her whole heart
and soul to the task of overcoming his prejudices, fears and objections,
meeting his protestations firmly and logically, unconscious of the fact
that her very enthusiasm was betraying her to him. The first signs of
weakening inspired her afresh and at last she was riding over him
rough-shod, a happy victor. She made promises that Yetive herself could
not have made; she offered inducements that never could be carried out,
although in her zeal she did not know it to be so; she painted such
pictures of ease, comfort and pleasure that he wondered why royalty did
not exchange places with its servants. In the end, overcome by the
spirit of adventure and a desire to be near her, he agreed to enter the
service for six months, at the expiration of which time he was to be
released from all obligations if he so desired.
"But my friends in the pass, your highness," he said in surrendering,
"what is to become of them? They are waiting for me out there in the
wilderness. I am not base enough to desert them."
"Can't you get word to them?" she asked eagerly. "Let them come into the
city, too. We will provide for the poor fellows, believe me."
"That, at least, is impossible, your highness," he said, shaking his
head sadly. "You will have to slay them before you can bring them within
the city gates. My only hope is that Franz may be here tonight. He has
permission to enter, and I am expecting him to-day or to-morrow."
"You can send word to them that you are sound and safe and you can tell
them that Graustark soldiers shall be instructed to pay no attention to
them whatever. They shall not be disturbed." He laughed outright at her
enthusiasm. Many times during her eager conversation with Baldos she had
almost betrayed the fact that she was not the princess. Some of her
expressions were distinctly unregal and some of her slips were hopeless,
as she viewed them in retrospect.
"What am I? Only the humble goat-hunter, hunted to death and eager for a
short respite. Do with me as you like, your highness. You shall be my
princess and sovereign for six months, at least," he said,
sighing. "Perhaps it is for the best."
"You are the strangest man I've ever seen," she remarked, puzzled beyond
That night Franz appeared at the hospital and was left alone with Baldos
for an hour or more. What passed between them, no outsider knew, though
there tears in the eyes of both at the parting. But Franz did not start
for the pass that night, as they had expected. Strange news had come to
the ears of the faithful old follower and he hung about Ganlook until
morning came, eager to catch the ear of his leader before it was too
The coach was drawn up in front of the hospital at eight o'clock,
Beverly triumphant in command. Baldos came down the steps slowly,
carefully, favoring the newly healed ligaments in his legs. She smiled
cheerily at him and he swung his rakish hat low. There was no sign of
the black patch. Suddenly he started and peered intently into the little
knot of people near the coach. A look of anxiety crossed his face. From
the crowd advanced a grizzled old beggar who boldly extended his
hand. Baldos grasped the proffered hand and then stepped into the
coach. No one saw the bit of white paper that passed from Franz's palm
into the possession of Baldos. Then the coach was off for Edelweiss, the
people of Ganlook enjoying the unusual spectacle of a mysterious and
apparently undistinguished stranger sitting in luxurious ease beside a
fair lady in the royal coach of Graustark.
It was a drowsy day, and, besides, Baldos was not in a communicative
frame of mind. Beverly put forth her best efforts during the forenoon,
but after the basket luncheon had been disposed of in the shade at the
roadside, she was content to give up the struggle and surrender to the
soothing importunities of the coach as it bowled along. She dozed
peacefully, conscious to the last that he was a most ungracious creature
and more worthy of resentment than of benefaction. Baldos was not
intentionally disagreeable; he was morose and unhappy because he could
not help it. Was he not leaving his friends to wander alone in the
wilderness while he drifted weakly into the comforts and pleasures of an
enviable service? His heart was not in full sympathy with the present
turn of affairs, and he could not deny that a selfish motive was
responsible for his action. He had the all too human eagerness to serve
beauty; the blood and fire of youth were strong in this wayward nobleman
of the hills.
Lying back in the seat, he pensively studied the face of the sleeping
girl whose dark-brown head was pillowed against the corner cushions of
the coach. Her hat had been removed for the sake of comfort. The dark
lashes fell like a soft curtain over her eyes, obscuring the merry gray
that had overcome his apprehensions. Her breathing was deep and regular
and peaceful. One little gloved hand rested carelessly in her lap, the
other upon her breast near the delicate throat. The heart of Baldos was
troubled. The picture he looked upon was entrancing, uplifting; he rose
from the lowly state in which she had found him to the position of
admirer in secret to a princess, real or assumed. He found himself again
wondering if she were really Yetive, and with that fear in his heart he
was envying Grenfall Lorry, the lord and master of this exquisite
creature, envying with all the helplessness of one whose hope is blasted
The note which had been surreptitiously passed to him in Ganlook lay
crumpled and forgotten inside his coat pocket, where he had dropped it
the moment it had come into his possession, supposing that the message
contained information which had been forgotten by Franz, and was by no
means of a nature to demand immediate attention. Had he read it at once
his suspicions would have been confirmed, and it is barely possible that
he would have refused to enter the city.
Late in the afternoon the walls of Edelweiss were sighted. For the first
time he looked upon the distant housetops of the principal city of
Graustark. Up in the clouds, on the summit of the mountain peak
overlooking the city, stood the famed monastery of Saint
Valentine. Stretching up the gradual incline were the homes of citizens,
accessible only by footpaths and donkey roads. Beverly was awake and
impatient to reach the journey's end. He had proved a most disappointing
companion, polite, but with a baffling indifference that irritated her
considerably. There was a set expression of defiance in his strong,
clean-cut face, the look of a soldier advancing to meet a powerful foe.
"I do hope he'll not always act this way," she was complaining in her
thoughts. "He was so charmingly impudent out in the hills, so
deliciously human. Now he is like a clam. Yetive will think I am such a
fool if he doesn't live up to the reputation I've given him!"
"Here are the gates," he said, half to himself. "What is there in store
for me beyond those walls?"
"Oh, I wish you wouldn't be so dismal," she cried in despair. "It seems
just like a funeral."
"A thousand apologies, your highness," he murmured, with a sudden
lightness of speech and manner. "Henceforth I shall be a most amiable
jester, to please you."
Beverly and the faithful Aunt Fanny were driven to the castle, where the
former bade farewell to her new knight until the following morning, when
he was to appear before her for personal instructions. Colonel Quinnox
escorted him to the barracks of the guards where he was to share a room
with young Haddan, a corporal in the service.
"The wild, untamed gentleman from the hills came without a word, I see,"
said Lorry, who had watched the approach. He and Yetive stood in the
window overlooking the grounds from the princess's boudoir, Beverly had
just entered and thrown herself upon a divan.
"Yes, he's here," she said shortly.
"How long do you, with all your cleverness, expect to hoodwink him into
the belief that you are the princess?" asked Yetive, amused but anxious.
"He's a great fool for being hoodwinked at all," said Beverly, very much
at odds with her protege. "In an hour from now he will know the truth
and will be howling like a madman for his freedom."
"Not so soon as that, Beverly," said Lorry consolingly. "The guards and
officers have their instructions to keep him in the dark as long as
"Well, I'm tired and mad and hungry and everything else that isn't
compatible. Let's talk about the war," said Beverly, the sunshine in her
face momentarily eclipsed by the dark cloud of disappointment.
Baldos was notified that duty would be assigned to him in the
morning. He went through the formalities which bound him to the service
for six months, listening indifferently to the words that foretold the
fate of a traitor. It was not until his hew uniform and equipment came
into his possession that he remembered the note resting in his
pocket. He drew it out and began to read it with the slight interest of
one who has anticipated the effect. But not for long was he to remain
apathetic. The first few lines brought a look of understanding to his
eyes; then he laughed the easy laugh of one who has cast care and
confidence to the winds. This is what he read:
"She is not the princess. We have been duped. Last night I learned the
truth. She is Miss Calhoun, an American, going to be a guest at the
castle. Refuse to go with her into Edelweiss. It may be a trap and may
mean death. Question her boldly before committing yourself."
There came the natural impulse to make a dash for the outside world,
fighting his way through if necessary. Looking back over the ground, he
wondered how he could have been deceived at all by the unconventional
American. In the clear light of retrospection he now saw how impossible
it was for her to have been the princess. Every act, every word, every
look should have told him the truth. Every flaw in her masquerading now
presented itself to him and he was compelled to laugh at his own
simplicity. Caution, after all, was the largest component part of his
makeup; the craftiness of the hunted was deeply rooted in his being. He
saw a very serious side to the adventure. Stretching himself upon the
cot in the corner of the room he gave himself over to plotting,
In the midst of his thoughts a sudden light burst in upon him. His eyes
gleamed with a new fire, his heart leaped with new animation, his blood
ran warm again. Leaping to his feet he ran to the window to re-read the
note from old Franz. Then he settled back and laughed with a fervor that
cleared the brain of a thousand vague misgivings.
"She is Miss Calhoun, an American going to be a guest at the
castle,"--not the princess, but _Miss_ Calhoun. Once more the
memory of the clear gray eyes leaped into life; again he saw her asleep
in the coach on the road from Ganlook; again he recalled the fervent
throbs his guilty heart had felt as he looked upon this fair creature,
at one time the supposed treasure of another man. Now she was Miss
Calhoun, and her gray eyes, her entrancing smile, her wondrous vivacity
were not for one man alone. It was marvelous what a change this sudden
realization wrought in the view ahead of him. The whole situation seemed
to be transformed into something more desirable than ever before. His
face cleared, his spirits leaped higher and higher with the buoyancy of
fresh relief, his confidence in himself crept back into existence. And
all because the fair deceiver, the slim girl with the brave gray eyes
who had drawn him into a net, was not a princess!
Something told him that she had not drawn him into his present position
with any desire to injure or with the slightest sense of malice. To her
it had been a merry jest, a pleasant comedy. Underneath all he saw the
goodness of her motive in taking him from the old life, and putting him
into his present position of trust. He had helped her, and she was ready
to help him to the limit of her power. His position in Edelweiss was
clearly enough defined. The more he thought of it, the more justifiable
it seemed as viewed from her point of observation. How long she hoped to
keep him in the dark he could not tell. The outcome would be
entertaining; her efforts to deceive. If she kept them up, would be
amusing. Altogether, he was ready, with the leisure and joy of youth, to
await developments and to enjoy the comedy from a point of view which
she could not at once suspect.
His subtle efforts to draw Haddan into a discussion of the princess and
her household resulted unsatisfactorily. The young guard was annoyingly
unresponsive. He had his secret instructions and could not be inveigled
into betraying himself. Baldos went to sleep that night with his mind
confused by doubts. His talk with Haddan had left him quite undecided as
to the value of old Franz's warning. Either Franz was mistaken, or
Haddan was a most skilful dissembler. It struck him as utterly beyond
the pale of reason that the entire castle guard should have been
enlisted in the scheme to deceive him. When sleep came, he was
contenting himself with the thought that morning doubtless would give
him clearer insight to the situation.
Both he and Beverly Calhoun were ignorant of the true conditions that
attached themselves to the new recruit. Baron Dangloss alone knew that
Haddan was a trusted agent of the secret service, with instructions to
shadow the newcomer day and night. That there was a mystery surrounding
the character of Baldos, the goat-hunter, Dangloss did not question for
an instant: and in spite of the instructions received at the outset, he
was using all his skill to unravel it.
Baldos was not summoned to the castle until noon. His serene
indifference to the outcome of the visit was calculated to deceive the
friendly but watchful Haddan. Dressed carefully in the close-fitting
uniform of the royal guard, taller than most of his fellows, handsomer
by far than any, he was the most noticeable figure in and about the
barracks. Haddan coached him in the way he was to approach the princess,
Baldos listening with exaggerated intentness and with deep regard for
Beverly was in the small audience-room off the main reception hall when
he was ushered into her presence. The servants and ladies-in-waiting
disappeared at a signal from her. She arose to greet him and he knelt to
kiss her hand. For a moment her tongue was bound. The keen eyes of the
new guard had looked into hers with a directness that seemed to
penetrate her brain. That this scene was to be one of the most
interesting in the little comedy was proved by the fact that two eager
young women were hidden behind a heavy curtain in a corner of the
room. The Princess Yetive and the Countess Dagmar were there to enjoy
Beverly's first hour of authority, and she was aware of their presence.
"Have they told you that you are to act as my especial guard and
escort?" she asked, with a queer flutter in her voice. Somehow this tall
fellow with the broad shoulders was not the same as the ragged
goat-hunter she had known at first.
"No, your highness," said he, easily. "I have come for instructions. It
pleases me to know that I am to have a place of honor and trust such as
"General Marlanx has told me that a vacancy exists, and I have selected
you to fill it. The compensation will be attended to by the proper
persons, and your duties will be explained to you by one of the
officers. This afternoon, I believe, you are to accompany me on my visit
to the fortress, which I am to inspect."
"Very well, your highness," he respectfully said. He was thinking of
Miss Calhoun, an American girl, although he called her "your highness."
"May I be permitted to ask for instructions that can come only from your
"Certainly," she replied. His manner was more deferential than she had
ever known it to be, but he threw a bomb into her fine composure with
his next remark. He addressed her in the Graustark language:
"Is it your desire that I shall continue to address you in English?"
Beverly's face turned a bit red and her eyes wavered. By a wonderful
effort she retained her self-control, stammering ever so faintly when
she said in English:
"I wish you would speak English," unwittingly giving answer to his
question. "I shall insist upon that. Your English is too good to be
Then he made a bold test, his first having failed. He spoke once more in
the native tongue, this time softly and earnestly.
"As you wish, your highness, but I think it is a most ridiculous
practice," he said, and his heart lost none of its courage. Beverly
looked at him almost pathetically. She knew that behind the curtain two
young women were enjoying her discomfiture. Something told her that they
were stifling their mirth with dainty lace-bordered handkerchiefs.
"That will do, sir," she managed to say firmly. "It's very nice of you,
but after this pay your homage in English," she went on, taking a long
chance on his remark. It must have been complimentary, she reasoned. As
for Baldos, the faintest sign of a smile touched his lips and his eyes
were twinkling as he bent his head quickly. Franz was right; she did not
know a word of the Graustark language.
"I have entered the service for six months, your highness," he said in
English. "You have honored me, and I give my heart as well as my arm to