Part 4 out of 6
"Why, good evening. Is that you?" struggled somewhat hysterically
through Beverly's lips. Not since the dear old days of the stolen jam
and sugar-bits had she known the feelings of a culprit caught
red-handed. The light from the park lamps revealed a merry, accusing
smile on the face of Yetive, but the faces of the men were
serious. Marlanx was the picture of suppressed fury.
"It is the relief expedition, your highness," said Yetive warmly. "We
thought you were lost in the wilds of the jungle."
"She is much better protected than we could have imagined," said the
Iron Count, malevolently mild and polite.
"Can't I venture into the park without being sent for?" asked Beverly,
ready to fly into the proper rage. The pink had left her cheeks
white. "I am proud to observe, however, that the relief expedition is
composed of the most distinguished people in all Graustark. Is there any
significance to be attached to the circumstance?"
"Can't we also go strolling in the park, my dear?" plaintively asked
"It depends upon where we stroll, I fancy," suggested Marlanx
derisively. Beverly flashed a fierce look at the head of the army. "By
the way, Baron Dangloss, where is the incomparable Haddan?"
Baldos shot a startled glance at the two men and in an instant
comprehension came to him. He knew the secret of Haddan's constant
companionship. An expression of bitter scorn settled upon his mouth,
Dangloss mumbled a reply, at which the Iron Count laughed sarcastically.
"I am returning to the castle," said Beverly coldly, "Pray don't let me
interfere with your stroll. Or is it possible that you think it
necessary to deliver me safely to my nurse, now that you have found me?"
"Don't be angry, dear," whispered Yetive, coming close to her side." I
will tell you all about it later on. It was all due to Count Marlanx."
"It was all done to humiliate me," replied Beverly, indignation
surpassing confusion at last. "I hate all of you."
"Oh, Beverly!" whispered the princess, in distress.
"Well, perhaps _you_ were led into it," retracted Beverly, half
mollified. "Look at that old villain whispering over there. No wonder
his wives up and died. They just _had_ to do it. I hate all but you
and Count Halfont and Baron Dangloss," which left but one condemned.
"And Baldos?" added Yetive, patting her hand.
"I wish you'd be sensible," cried Beverly, most ungraciously, and
Yetive's soft laugh irritated her. "How long had you been listening to
"Not so much as the tiniest part of a minute," said Yetive, recalling
another disastrous eavesdropping. "I am much wiser than when Baldos
first came to serve you. We were quite a distance behind Count Marlanx,
I assure you."
"Then _he_ heard something?" asked Beverly anxiously.
"He has been in a detestable mood ever since we rejoined him. Could he
have heard anything disagreeable?"
"No; on the contrary, it was quite agreeable."
All this time Baldos was standing at attention a few paces off, a model
soldier despite the angry shifting of his black eyes. He saw that they
had been caught in a most unfortunate position. No amount of explaining
could remove the impression that had been forced upon the witnesses,
voluntary or involuntary as the case might be. Baldos could do nothing
to help her, while she was compelled to face the suspicions of her best
friends. At best it could be considered nothing short of a clandestine
meeting, the consequences of which she must suffer, not he. In his
heated brain he was beginning to picture scandal with all the disgusting
details that grow out of evil misrepresentation.
Count Halfont separated himself from the group of three and advanced to
the sedan-chair. Marlanx and Dangloss were arguing earnestly in low
"Shall we return, your highness?" asked Halfont, addressing both with
one of his rarest smiles. "If I remember aright, we were to dine _en
famille_ to-night, and it is well upon the hour. Besides, Count
Marlanx is a little distressed by your absent-mindedness, Miss Beverly,
and I fancy he is eager to have it out with you."
"My absent-mindedness? What is it that I have forgotten?" asked Beverly,
puckering her brow.
"That's the trouble, dear," said Yetive. "You forgot your promise to
teach him how to play that awful game called poker. He has waited for
you at the castle since six o'clock. It is now eight. Is it any wonder
that he led the searching party? He has been on nettles for an hour and
"Goodness, I'll wager he's in a temper!" exclaimed Beverly, with no
remorse, but some apprehension.
"It would be wisdom to apologize to him," suggested Yetive, and her
uncle nodded earnestly.
"All right. I think I can get him into good humor without half
trying. Oh, Count Marlanx! Come here, please. You aren't angry with me,
are you? Wasn't it awful for me to run away and leave you to play
solitaire instead of poker? But, don't you know, I was so wretchedly
tired after the ride, and I knew you wouldn't mind if I--" and so she
ran glibly on, completely forestalling him, to the secret amusement of
the others. Nevertheless, she was nervous and embarrassed over the
situation. There was every reason to fear that the Iron Count had heard
and seen enough to form a pretty good opinion of what had passed between
herself and Baldos in this remote corner of the park. A deep sense of
shame was taking possession of her.
Marlanx, smiling significantly, looked into her brave little face, and
permitted her to talk on until she had run out of breath and
composure. Then he bowed with exaggerated gallantry and informed her
that he was hers to command, and that it was not for him to forgive but
to accept whatever was her gracious pleasure. He called upon the
chair-bearers and they took up their burden. Beverly promptly changed
her mind and concluded to walk to the castle. And so they started off,
the chair going ahead as if out of commission forever. Despite her
efforts to do so, the American girl (feeling very much abused, by the
way), was unsuccessful in the attempt to keep the princess at her
side. Yetive deliberately walked ahead with Halfont and Dangloss. It
seemed to Beverly that they walked unnecessarily fast and that Marlanx
was provokingly slow. Baldos was twenty paces behind, as was his custom.
"Is it necessary for me to ask you to double the number of lessons I am
to have?" Marlanx asked. He was quite too close to her side to please
"Can't you learn in one lesson? Most Americans think they know all about
poker after the first game."
"I am not so quick-witted, your highness."
"Far be it from me to accelerate your wits, Count Marlanx. It might not
"You might profit by losing, you know," he ventured, leaning still
closer, "Poker is not the only game of chance. It was chance that gave
me a winning hand this evening."
"I don't understand."
"It shall be my pleasure to teach you in return for instructions I am to
have. I have tried to teach your excellent guard one phase of the
game. He has not profited, I fear. He has been blind enough to pick a
losing hand in spite of my advice. It is the game of hearts." Beverly
could not but understand. She shrank away with a shudder. Her wits did
not desert her, however.
"I know the game," she said steadily. "One's object is to cast off all
the hearts. I have been very lucky at the game, Count Marlanx."
"Umph!" was his ironical comment. "Ah, isn't this a night for lovers?"
he went on, changing tack suddenly. "To stroll in the shadows, where
even the moon is blind, is a joy that love alone provides. Come, fair
mistress, share this joy with me."
With that his hand closed over her soft arm above the elbow and she was
drawn close to his side. Beverly's first shock of revulsion was
succeeded by the distressing certainty that Baldos was a helpless
witness of this indignity. She tried to jerk her arm away, but he held
"Release my arm, sir!" she cried, hoarse with passion.
"Call your champion, my lady. It will mean his death. I have evidence
that will insure his conviction and execution within an hour. Nothing
could Call him, I say, and--"
"I _will_ call him. He is my sworn protector, and I will command
him to knock you down if you don't go away," she flared, stopping
"At his peril--"
"Baldos!" she called, without a second's hesitation. The guard came up
with a rush just as Marlanx released her arm and fell away with a
"Your highness!" cried Baldos, who had witnessed everything.
"Are you afraid to die?" she demanded briefly; and clearly.
"That is all," she said, suddenly calm. "I merely wanted to prove it to
Count Marlanx." Tact had come to her relief most opportunely. Like a
flash she saw that a conflict between the commander of the army and a
guard could have but one result and that disastrous to the latter. One
word from her would have ended everything for Baldos. She saw through
the Iron Count's ruse as if by divine inspiration and profited where he
least expected her to excel in shrewdness. Marlanx had deliberately
invited the assault by the guard. His object had been to snare Baldos
into his own undoing, and a horrible undoing it would have been. One
blow would have secured the desired result. Nothing could have saved the
guard who had struck his superior officer. But Beverly thought in time.
"To die is easy, your highness. You have but to ask it of me," said
Baldos, whose face was white and drawn.
"She has no intention of demanding such a pleasant sacrifice" observed
Count Marlanx, covering his failure skilfully. "Later on, perhaps, she
may sign your death warrant. I am proud to hear, sir, that a member of
my corps has the courage to face the inevitable, even though he be an
alien and unwilling to die on the field of battle. You have my
compliments, sir. You have been on irksome duty for several hours and
must be fatigued as well as hungry. A soldier suffers many deprivations,
not the least of which is starvation in pursuit of his calling. Mess is
not an unwelcome relief to you after all these arduous hours. You may
return to the barracks at once. The princess is under my care for the
remainder of the campaign."
Baldos looked first at her and then at the sarcastic old general. Yetive
and her companions were waiting for them at the fountain, a hundred
"You may go, Baldos," said Beverly in low tones.
"I am not fatigued nor--" he began eagerly.
"Go!" snarled Marlanx. "Am I to repeat a command to you? Do you ignore
the word of your mistress?" There was a significant sneer in the way he
"Mistress?" gasped Baldos, his eye blazing, his arm half raised.
"Count Marlanx!" implored Beverly, drawing herself to her full height
and staring at him like a wounded thing.
"I humbly implore you not to misconstrue the meaning of the term, your
highness," said the Count affably, "Ah, you have dropped
something. Permit me. It is a note of some description, I think."
He stooped quickly--too quickly--and recovered from the ground at her
feet the bit of paper which had fallen from her hand. It was the note
from Ravone to Baldos which Beverly had forgotten in the excitement of
"Count Marlanx, give me that paper!" demanded Beverly breathlessly.
"Is it a love-letter? Perhaps it is intended for me. At any rate, your
highness, it is safe against my heart for the time being. When we reach
the castle I shall be happy to restore it. It is safer with me. Come, we
go one way and--have you not gone, sir?" in his most sarcastic tone to
the guard. Beverly was trembling.
"No, I have not; and I shall not go until I see you obey the command of
her highness. She has asked you for that piece of paper," said Baldos,
standing squarely in front of Marlanx.
"Insolent dog! Do you mean to question my--"
"Give over that paper!"
"If you strike me, fellow, it will be--"
"If I strike you it will be to kill, Count Marlanx. The paper, sir."
Baldos towered over the Iron Count and there was danger in his
dare-devil voice. "Surely, sir, I am but obeying your own
instructions. 'Protect the princess and all that is hers, with your
life,' you have said to me."
"Oh, I wish you hadn't done this, Baldos," cried Beverly,
"You have threatened my life. I shall not forget it, fool. Here is the
precious note, your highness, with my condolences to the writer."
Marlanx passed the note to her and then looked triumphantly at the
guard. "I daresay you have done all you can, sir. Do you wish to add
"What can one do when dealing with his superior and finds him a
despicable coward?" said Baldos, with cool irony. "You are reputed to be
a brave soldier. I know that to be false or I would ask you to draw the
sword you carry and--" He was drawing his sword as he spoke.
"Baldos!" implored Beverly. Her evident concern infuriated Marlanx. In
his heart he knew Baldos to be a man of superior birth and a foeman not
to be despised from his own station. Carried away by passion, he flashed
his sword from its sheath.
"You have drawn on me, sir," he snarled. "I must defend myself against
even such as you. You will find that I am no coward. Time is short for
your gallant lover, madam."
Before she could utter a word of protest the blades had clashed and they
were hungry for blood. It was dark in the shadows of the trees and the
trio were quite alone with their tragedy. She heard Baldos laugh
recklessly in response to Marlanx's cry of:
"Oh, the shame of fighting with such carrion as you!"
"Don't jest at a time like this, count," said the guard,
softly. "Remember that I lose, no matter which way it goes. If you kill
me I lose, if I beat you I lose. Remember, you can still have me shot
for insubordination and conduct unbecoming--"
"Stop!" almost shrieked Beverly. At risk of personal injury she rushed
between the two swordsmen. Both drew back and dropped their points. Not
a dozen passes had been made.
"I beg your highness's pardon," murmured Baldos, but he did not sheathe
"He forced it upon me," cried Marlanx triumphantly. "You were witness to
it all. I was a fool to let it go as far as this. Put up your sword
until another day--if that day ever comes to you."
"He will have you shot for this, Baldos," cried Beverly in her
terror. Baldos laughed bitterly.
"Tied and blindfolded, too, your highness, to prove that he is a brave
man and not a coward. It was short but it was sweet. Would that you had
let the play go on. There was a spice in it that made life worth living
and death worth the dying. Have you other commands for me, your
highness?" His manner was so cool and defiant that she felt the tears
spring to her eyes.
"Only that you put up your sword and end this miserable affair by going
to your--your room."
"It is punishment enough. To-morrow's execution can be no harder."
Marlanx had been thinking all this time. Into his soul came the thrill
of triumph, the consciousness of a mighty power. He saw the chance to
benefit by the sudden clash and he was not slow to seize it.
"Never fear, my man," he said easily, "it won't be as bad as that. I can
well afford to overlook your indiscretion of to-night. There will be no
execution, as you call it. This was an affair between men not between
man and the state. Our gracious referee is to be our judge. It is for
her to pardon and to condemn. It was very pretty while it lasted and you
are too good a swordsman to be shot. Go your way, Baldos, and remember
me as Marlanx the man, not Marlanx the general. As your superior
officer, I congratulate and commend you upon the manner in which you
serve the princess."
"You will always find me ready to fight and to die for her" said Baldos
gravely. "Do you think you can remember that. Count Marlanx?"
"I have an excellent memory," said the count steadily. With a graceful
salute to Beverly, Baldos turned and walked away in the darkness.
"A perfect gentleman, Miss Calhoun, but a wretched soldier," said
"He is a hero," she said quietly, a great calmness coming over her. "Do
you mean it when you say you are not going to have him punished? He did
only what a man should do, and I glory in his folly."
"I may as well tell you point blank that you alone can save him. He does
not deserve leniency. It is in my power and it is my province to have
him utterly destroyed, not only for this night's work, but for other and
better reasons. I have positive proof that he is a spy. He knows I have
this proof. That is why he would have killed me just now. It is for you
to say whether he shall meet the fate of a spy or go unscathed. You have
but to exchange promises with me and the estimable guardsman goes
free--but he goes from Edelweiss forever. To-day he met the enemy's
scouts in the hills, as you know quite well. Messages were exchanged,
secretly, which you do not know of, of course. Before another day is
gone I expect to see the results of his treachery. There may be
manifestations to-night. You do not believe me, but wait and see if I am
not right. He is one of Gabriel's cleverest spies."
"I do not believe it. You shall not accuse him of such things," she
cried. "Besides, if he is a spy why should you shield him for my sake?
Don't you owe it to Graustark to expose--"
"Here is the princess," said he serenely. "Your highness," addressing
Yetive, "Miss Calhoun has a note which she refuses to let anyone read
but you. Now, my dear young lady, you may give it directly into the
hands of her highness."
Beverly gave him a look of scorn, but without a second's hesitation
placed the missive in Yetive's hand. The Iron Count's jaw dropped, and
he moistened his lips with his tongue two or three times. Something told
him that a valuable chance had gone.
"I shall be only too happy to have your highness read the result of my
first lesson in the Graustark language," she said, smiling gaily upon
Two men in uniform came rushing up to the party, manifestly
excited. Saluting the general, both began to speak at once.
"One at a time," commanded the count. "What is it?"
Other officers of the guard and a few noblemen from the castle came up,
out of breath.
"We have discerned signal fires in the hills, your excellency," said one
of the men from the fort. "There is a circle of fires and they mean
something important. For half an hour they have been burning near the
monastery; also in the valley below and on the mountains to the south."
There was an instant of deathly silence, as if the hearers awaited a
crash. Marlanx looked steadily at Beverly's face and she saw the
triumphant, accusing gleam in his eyes. Helplessly she stared into the
crowd of faces. Her eyes fell upon Baldos, who suddenly appeared in the
background. His face wore a hunted, imploring look. The next instant he
disappeared among the shadows.
GOSSIP OF SOME CONSEQUENCE
"There is no time to be lost," exclaimed Count Marlanx. "Ask Colonel
Braze to report to me at the eastern gate with a detail of picked
troopers--a hundred of them. I will meet him there in half an hour." He
gave other sharp, imperative commands, and in the twinkling of an eye
the peaceful atmosphere was transformed into the turbulent, exciting
rush of activity. The significance of the fires seen in the hills could
not be cheaply held. Instant action was demanded. The city was filled
with the commotion of alarm; the army was brought to its feet with a
jerk that startled even the most ambitious.
The first thing that General Marlanx did was to instruct Quinnox to set
a vigilant watch over Baldos. He was not to be arrested, but it was
understood that the surveillance should be but little short of
incarceration. He was found at the barracks shortly after the report
concerning the signal fires, and told in plain words that General
Marlanx had ordered a guard placed over him for the time being, pending
the result of an investigation. Baldos had confidently expected to be
thrown into a dungeon for his affront. He did not know that Grenfall
Lorry stood firm in his conviction that Baldos was no spy, and was
supported by others in high authority.
Marlanx was bottling his wrath and holding back his revenge for a
distinct purpose. Apart from the existence of a strong, healthy
prejudice in the guard's favor, what the old general believed and what
he could prove were two distinct propositions. He was crafty enough,
however, to take advantage of a condition unknown to Beverly Calhoun,
the innocent cause of all his bitterness toward Baldos.
As he hastened from the council chamber, his eyes swept the crowd of
eager, excited women in the grand hall. From among them he picked
Beverly and advanced upon her without regard for time and consequence.
Despite her animation he was keen enough to see that she was sorely
troubled. She did not shrink from him as he had half expected, but met
him with bold disdain in her eyes.
"This is the work of your champion," he said in tones that did not reach
ears other than her own. "I prophesied it, you must remember. Are you
satisfied now that you have been deceived in him?"
"I have implicit confidence in him. I suppose you have ordered his
arrest?" she asked with quiet scorn.
"He is under surveillance, at my suggestion. For your sake, and yours
alone, I am giving him a chance. He is your protege; you are responsible
for his conduct. To accuse him would be to place you in an embarrassing
position. There is a sickening rumor in court circles that you have more
than a merely kind and friendly interest in the rascal. If I believed
that, Miss Calhoun, I fear my heart could not be kind to him. But I know
it is not true. You have a loftier love to give. He is a clever
scoundrel, and there is no telling how much harm he has already done to
Graustark. His every move is to be watched and reported to me. It will
be impossible for him to escape. To save him from the vengeance of the
army, I am permitting him to remain in your service, ostensibly, at
least. His hours of duty have been changed, however. Henceforth he is in
the night guard, from midnight till dawn. I am telling you this, Miss
Calhoun, because I want you to know that in spite of all the indignity I
have suffered, you are more to me than any other being in the world,
more to me even than my loyalty to Graustark. Do me the honor and
justice to remember this. I have suffered much for you. I am a rough,
hardened soldier, and you have misconstrued my devotion. Forgive the
harsh words my passion may have inspired. Farewell! I must off to undo
the damage we all lay at the door of the man you and I are protecting."
He was too wise to give her the chance to reply. A moment later he was
mounted and off for the eastern gates, there to direct the movements of
Colonel Braze and his scouts. Beverly flew at once to Yetive with her
plea for Baldos. She was confronted by a rather sober-faced sovereign.
The news of the hour was not comforting to the princess and her
"You don't believe he is a spy?" cried Beverly, stopping just inside the
door, presuming selfishly that Baldos alone was the cause for worry. She
resolved to tell Yetive of the conflict in the park.
"Dear me, Beverly, I am not thinking of him. We've discussed him jointly
and severally and every other way and he has been settled for the time
being. You are the only one who is thinking of him, my dear child. We
have weightier things to annoy us."
"Goodness, how you talk! He isn't annoying. Oh, forgive me, Yetive, for
I am the silliest, addle-patedest goose in the kingdom. And you are so
troubled. But do you know that he is being watched? They suspect
him. So did I, at first, I'll admit it. But I don't--now. Have you read
the note I gave to you out there?"
"Yes, dear. It's just as I expected. He has known from the beginning. He
knew when he caught Dagmar and me spying behind that abominable curtain.
But don't worry me any longer about him, please. Wait here with me until
we have reports from the troops. I shall not sleep until I know what
those fires meant. Forget Baldos for an hour or two, for my sake."
"You dear old princess, I'm an awful brute, sure 'nough. I'll forget him
forever for your sake. It won't be hard, either. He's just a mere guard.
Pooh! He's no prince."
Whereupon, reinforced by Mrs. Anguish and the Countess Halfont, she
proceeded to devote herself to the task of soothing and amusing the
distressed princess while the soldiers of Graustark ransacked the
moonlit hills. The night passed, and the next day was far on its way to
sunset before the scouts came in with tidings. No trace of the
mysterious signalers had been found. The embers of the half-dozen fires
were discovered, but their builders were gone. The search took in miles
of territory, but it was unavailing. Not even a straggler was found. The
so-called troupe of actors, around whom suspicion centered, had been
swallowed by the capacious solitude of the hills. Riders from the
frontier posts to the south came in with the report that all was quiet
in the threatened district. Dawsbergen was lying quiescent, but with the
readiness of a skulking dog.
There was absolutely no solution to the mystery connected with the fires
on the mountain sides. Baldos was questioned privately and earnestly by
Lorry and Dangloss. His reply was simple, but it furnished food for
reflection and, at the same time, no little relief to the troubled
"It is my belief, Mr. Lorry, that the fires were built by brigands and
not by your military foes. I have seen these fires in the north, near
Axphain, and they were invariably meant to establish communication
between separated squads of robbers, all belonging to one band. My
friends and I on more than one occasion narrowly escaped disaster by
prying into the affairs of these signalers. I take it that the squads
have been operating in the south and were brought together last night by
means of the fires. Doubtless they have some big project of their own
sort on foot."
That night the city looked for a repetition of the fires, but the
mountains were black from dusk till dawn. Word reached the castle late
in the evening, from Ganlook, that an Axphainian nobleman and his
followers would reach Edelweiss the next day. The visit was a friendly
but an important one. The nobleman was no other than the young Duke of
Mizrox, intimate friend of the unfortunate Prince Lorenz who met his
death at the hand of Prince Gabriel, and was the leader of the party
which opposed the vengeful plans of Princess Volga. His arrival in
Edelweiss was awaited with deep anxiety, for it was suspected that his
news would be of the most important character.
Beverly Calhoun sat on the balcony with the princess long after
midnight. The sky was black with the clouds of an approaching storm; the
air was heavy with foreboding silence. Twice, from their darkened corner
near the pillar, they saw Baldos as he paced steadily past the castle on
patrol, with Haddan at his side. Dreamily the watchers in the cool
balcony looked down upon the somber park and its occasional
guardsman. Neither was in the mood to talk. As they rose at last to go
to their rooms, something whizzed through the air and dropped with a
slight thud in the center of the balcony. The two young women started
back in alarm. A faint light from Beverly's window filtered across the
"Don't touch it, Beverly," cried the princess, as the girl started
forward with an eager exclamation. But Beverly had been thinking of the
very object that now quivered before her in the dull light, saucy,
aggressive and jaunty as it was the night when she saw it for the first
A long, slim red feather bobbed to and fro as if saluting her with
soldierly fidelity. Its base was an orange, into which it had been stuck
by the hand that tossed it from below. Beverly grasped it with more
ecstasy than wisdom and then rushed to the stone railing, Yetive looking
on in amazement. Diligently she searched the ground below for the man
who had sent the red message, but he was nowhere in sight. Then came the
sudden realization that she was revealing a most unmaidenly eagerness,
to him as well as to the princess, for she did not doubt that he was
watching from the shadows below. She withdrew from the rail in confusion
and fled to her bed-chamber, followed by her curious companion. There
were explanations--none of which struck speaker or listener as
logical--and there were giggles which completely simplified the
situation. Beverly thrust the slim red feather into her hair, and struck
an attitude that would have set Baldos wild with joy if he could have
seen it. The next day, when she appeared in the park, the feather stood
up defiantly from the band of her sailor hat, though womanly
perverseness impelled her to ignore Baldos when he passed her on his way
The Duke of Mizrox came into the city hours after the time set for his
arrival. It was quite dark when the escort sent by Colonel Quinnox drew
up at the castle gates with the visitor. The duke and his party had been
robbed by brigands in the broad daylight and at a point not more than
five miles from Edelweiss! And thus the mystery of the signal fires was
explained. Count Marlanx did not soon forget the triumphant look he
received from Beverly Calhoun when the duke's misfortunes were
announced. Shameless as it may seem, she rejoiced exceedingly over the
acts of the robbers.
Mizrox announced to the princess and her friends that he was not an
emissary from the Axphainian government. Instead, he was but little less
than a fugitive from the wrath of Volga and the crown adherents.
Earlier in the week he had been summoned before Volga and informed that
his absence for a few months, at least, from the principality was
desirable. The privilege was allowed him of selecting the country which
he desired to visit during that period, and he coolly chose
Graustark. He was known to have friendly feelings for that state; but no
objections were raised. This friendship also gave him a welcome in
Edelweiss. Mizrox plainly stated his position to Yetive and the prime
minister. He asked for protection, but declined to reveal any of the
plans then maturing in his home country. This reluctance to become a
traitor, even though he was not in sympathy with his sovereign, was
respected by the princess. He announced his willingness to take up arms
against Dawsbergen, but would in no way antagonize Axphain from an
The duke admitted that the feeling in Axphain's upper circles was
extremely bitter toward Graustark. The old-time war spirit had not died
down. Axphain despised her progressive neighbor.
"I may as well inform your highness that the regent holds another and a
deeper grudge against Graustark," he said, in the audience chamber where
were assembled many of the nobles of the state, late on the night of his
arrival. "She insists that you are harboring and even shielding the
pretender to our throne, Prince Frederic. It is known that he is in
Graustark and, moreover, it is asserted that he is in direct touch with
Yetive and her companions looked at one another with glances of
Comprehension. He spoke in English now for the benefit of Beverly
Calhoun, an interested spectator, who felt her heart leap suddenly and
swiftly into violent insurrection.
"Nothing could be more ridiculous," said Yetive after a pause. "We do
not know Frederic, and we are not harboring him."
"I am only saying what is believed to be true by Axphain, your
highness. It is reported that he joined you in the mountains in June and
since has held a position of trust in your army."
"Would you know Prince Frederic if you were to see him?" quietly asked
"I have not seen him since he was a very small boy, and then but for a
moment--on the day when he and his mother were driven through the
streets on their way to exile."
"We have a new man in the Castle Guard and there is a mystery attached
to him. Would you mind looking at him and telling us if he is what
Frederic might be in his manhood?" Lorry put the question and everyone
present drew a deep breath of interest.
Mizrox readily consented and Baldos, intercepted on his rounds, was led
unsuspecting into an outer chamber. The duke, accompanied by Lorry and
Baron Dangloss, entered the room. They were gone from the assemblage but
a few minutes, returning with smiles of uncertainty on their faces.
"It is impossible, your highness, for me to say whether or not it is
Frederic," said the duke frankly. "He is what I imagine the pretender
might be at his age, but it would be sheer folly for me to speculate. I
do not know the man."
Beverly squeezed the Countess Dagmar's arm convulsively.
"Hurrah!" she whispered, in great relief. Dagmar looked at her in
astonishment. She could not fathom the whimsical American.
"They have been keeping an incessant watch over the home of Frederic's
cousin. He is to marry her when the time is propitious," volunteered the
young duke. "She is the most beautiful girl in Axphain, and the family
is one of the wealthiest. Her parents bitterly oppose the match. They
were to have been secretly married some months ago, and there is a rumor
to the effect that they did succeed in evading the vigilance of her
"You mean that they may be married?" asked Yetive, casting a quick
glance at Beverly.
"It is not improbable, your highness. He is known to be a daring young
fellow, and he has never failed in a siege against the heart of
woman. Report has it that he is the most invincible Lothario that ever
donned love's armor." Beverly was conscious of furtive glances in her
direction, and a faint pink stole into her temples." Our fugitive
princes are lucky in neither love nor war," went on the duke." Poor
Dantan, who is hiding from Gabriel, is betrothed to the daughter of the
present prime minister of Dawsbergen, the beautiful Iolanda, I have seen
her. She is glorious, your highness."
"I, too, have seen her," said Yetive, more gravely than she
thought. "The report of their betrothal is true, then?"
"His sudden overthrow prevented the nuptials which were to have taken
place in a month had not Gabriel returned. Her father, the Duke of Matz,
wisely accepted the inevitable and became prime minister to
Gabriel. Iolanda, it is said, remains true to him and sends messages to
him as he wanders through the mountains."
Beverly's mind instantly reverted to the confessions of Baldos. He had
admitted the sending and receiving of messages through Franz. Try as she
would, she could not drive the thought from her mind that he was Dantan
and now came the distressing fear that his secret messages were words of
love from Iolanda. The audience lasted until late in the night, but she
was so occupied with her own thoughts that she knew of but little that
Of one thing she was sure. She could not go to sleep that night.
The next morning Aunt Fanny had a hard time of it. Her mistress was
petulant; there was no sunshine in the bright August day as it appeared
to her. Toward dawn, after she had counted many millions of black sheep
jumping backward over a fence, she had fallen asleep. Aunt Fanny obeyed
her usual instructions on this luckless morning. It was Beverly's rule
to be called every morning at seven o'clock. But how was her attendant
to know that the graceful young creature who had kicked the counterpane
to the foot of the bed and had mauled the pillow out of all shape, had
slept for less than thirty minutes? How was she to know that the flushed
face and frown were born in the course of a night of distressing
perplexities? She knew only that the sleeping beauty who lay before her
was the fairest creature in all the universe. For some minutes Aunt
Fanny stood off and admired the rich youthful glory of the sleeper,
prophetically reluctant to disturb her happiness. Then she obeyed the
impulse of duty and spoke the summoning words.
"Wha--what time is it?" demanded the newcomer from the land of Nod,
stretching her fine young body with a splendid but discontented yawn.
"Seben, Miss Bev'ly; wha' time do yo' s'pose hit is? Hit's d' reg'lah
time, o' co'se. Did yo' all have a nice sleep, honey?" and Aunt Fanny
went blissfully about the business of the hour.
"I didn't sleep a wink, confound it," grumbled Beverly, rubbing her eyes
and turning on her back to glare up at the tapestry above the couch.
"Yo' wasn' winkin' any when Ah fust come into de room, lemme tell yo',"
cackled Aunt Fanny with caustic freedom.
"See here, now, Aunt Fanny, I'm not going to stand any lecture from you
this morning. When a fellow hasn't slept a--"
"Who's a-lecturin' anybody, Ah'd lak to know? Ah'm jes' tellin' yo'
what yo' was a-doin' when Ah came into de room. Yo' was a-sleepin'
p'etty doggone tight, lemme tell yo'. Is yo' goin' out fo' yo' walk
befo' b'eakfus, honey? 'Cause if yo' is, yo' all 'll be obleeged to
climb out'n dat baid maghty quick-like. Yo' baf is ready, Miss Bev'ly."
Beverly splashed the water with unreasonable ferocity for a few minutes,
trying to enjoy a diversion that had not failed her until this morning.
"Aunt Fanny," she announced, after looking darkly through her window
into the mountains above, "if you can't brush my hair--ouch!--any easier
than this, I'll have someone else do it, that's all. You're a regular
"Po' lil' honey," was all the complacent "bear" said in reply, without
altering her methods in the least.
"Well," said Beverly threateningly, with a shake of her head, "be
careful, that's all. Have you heard the news?"
"Wha' news, Miss Bev'ly?"
"We're going back to Washin'ton."
"Thank de Lawd! When?"
"I don't know. I've just this instant made up my mind. I think we'll
start--let's see: this is the sixth of August, isn't it? Well, look and
see, if you don't know, stupid. The tenth? My goodness, where has the
time gone, anyway? Well? we'll start sometime between the eleventh and
"Of dis monf, Miss Bev'ly?"
"No; September. I want you to look up a timetable for me to-day. We must
see about the trains."
"Dey's on'y one leavin' heah daily, an' hit goes at six in de
mo'nin'. One train a day! Ain' 'at scan'lous?"
"I'm sure, Aunt Fanny, it is their business--not ours," said Beverly
"P'raps dey mought be runnin' a excuhsion 'roun' 'baout Septembeh, Miss
Bev'ly," speculated Aunt Fanny consolingly. "Dey gen'ly has 'em in
"You old goose," cried Beverly, in spite of herself.
"Ain' yo' habin' er good time, honey?"
"No, I am not."
"Fo' de lan's sake, Ah wouldn' s'picioned hit fo' a minnit. Hit's de
gayest place Ah mos' eveh saw--'cept Wash'ton an' Lex'ton an'
"Well, you don't know everything," said Beverly crossly. "I wish you'd
take that red feather out of my hat--right away."
"Shall Ah frow hit away, Miss Bev'ly?"
"We--ll, no; you needn't do that," said Beverly, "Put it on my
dressing-table. I'll attend to it."
"Wha's become o' de gemman 'at wo' hit in the fust place? Ah ain' seen
him fo' two--three days."
"I'm sure I don't know. He's probably asleep. That class of people never
lose sleep over anything."
"'E's er pow'ful good-lookin' pusson," suggested Aunt Fanny. Beverly's
"Oh, do you think so?" she said, quite indifferently. "What are you
doing with that hat?"
"Takin' out de featheh--jes' as--"
"Well, leave it alone. Don't disturb my things, Aunt Fanny. How many
times must I tell you--"
"Good Lawd!" was all that Aunt Fanny could say.
"Don't forget about the time-tables," said Beverly, as she sallied forth
for her walk in the park.
In the afternoon she went driving with Princess Yetive and the young
Duke of Mizrox, upon whose innocent and sufficiently troubled head she
was heaping secret abuse because of the news he brought. Later, Count
Marlanx appeared at the castle for his first lesson in poker. He looked
so sure of himself that Beverly hated him to the point of desperation.
At the same time she was eager to learn how matters stood with
Baldos. The count's threat still hung over her head, veiled by its
ridiculous shadow of mercy. She knew him well enough by this time to
feel convinced that Baldos would have to account for his temerity,
sooner or later. It was like the cat and the helpless mouse.
"It's too hot," she protested, when he announced himself ready for the
game. "Nobody plays poker when it's 92 in the shade."
"But, your highness," complained the count, "war may break out any
day. I cannot concede delay."
"I think there's a game called 'shooting craps,'" suggested she
serenely. "It seems to me it would be particularly good for
warriors. You could be shooting something all the time."
He went away in a decidedly irascible frame of mind. She did not know
it, but Baldos was soon afterward set to work in the garrison stables, a
most loathsome occupation, in addition to his duties as a guard by
After mature deliberation Beverly set herself to the task of writing
home to her father. It was her supreme intention to convince him that
she would be off for the States in an amazingly short time. The major,
upon receiving the letter three weeks later, found nothing in it to
warrant the belief that she was ever coming home. He did observe,
however, that she had but little use for the army of Graustark, and was
especially disappointed in the set of men Yetive retained as her private
guard. For the life of her, Beverly could not have told why she
disapproved of the guard in general or in particular, but she was
conscious of the fact, after the letter was posted, that she had said
many things that might have been left unwritten. Besides, it was not
Baldos's fault that she could not sleep; it was distinctly her own. He
had nothing to do with it.
"I'll bet father will be glad to hear that I am coming home," she said
to Yetive, after the letter was gone.
"Oh, Beverly, dear, I hate to hear of your going," cried the princess."
When did you tell him you'd start?"
"Why, oh,--er--let me see; when _did_ I say? Dash me--as
Mr. Anguish would say--I don't believe I gave a date. It seems to me I
said _soon_, that's all."
"You don't know how relieved I am," exclaimed Yetive rapturously? and
Beverly was in high dudgeon because of the implied reflection, "I
believe you are in a tiff with Baldos," went on Yetive airily.
"Goodness! How foolish you can be at times, Yetive," was what Beverly
gave back to her highness, the Princess of Graustark.
Late in the evening couriers came in from the Dawsbergen frontier with
reports which created considerable excitement in castle and army
circles. Prince Gabriel himself had been seen in the northern part of
his domain, accompanied by a large detachment of picked soldiers. Lorry
set out that very night for the frontier, happy in the belief that
something worth while was about to occur. General Marlanx issued orders
for the Edelweiss army corps to mass beyond the southern gates of the
city the next morning. Commands were also sent to the outlying
garrisons. There was to be a general movement of troops before the end
of the week. Graustark was not to be caught napping.
Long after the departure of Lorry and Anguish, the princess sat on the
balcony with Beverly and the Countess Dagmar. They did not talk
much. The mission of these venturesome young American husbands was full
of danger. Something in the air had told their wives that the first
blows of war were to be struck before they looked again upon the men
"I think we have been betrayed by someone," said Dagmar, after an almost
interminable silence. Her companion did not reply. "The couriers say
that Gabriel knows where we are weakest at the front and that he knows
our every movement. Yetive, there is a spy here, after all."
"And that spy has access to the very heart of our deliberations," added
Beverly pointedly. "I say this in behalf of the man whom you evidently
suspect, countess. _He_ could not know these things."
"I do not say that he does know, Miss Calhoun, but it is not beyond
reason that he may be the go-between, the means of transferring
information from the main traitor to the messengers who await outside
"Oh, I don't believe it!" cried Beverly hotly.
"I wonder if these things would have happened if Baldos had never come
to Edelweiss?" mused the princess. As though by common impulse, both of
the Graustark women placed their arms about Beverly.
"It's because we have so much at stake, Beverly, dear," whispered
Dagmar. "Forgive me if I have hurt you."
Of course, Beverly sobbed a little in the effort to convince them that
she did not care whom they accused, if he proved to be the right man in
the end. They left her alone on the balcony. For an hour after midnight
she sat there and dreamed. Everyone was ready to turn against
Baldos. Even she had been harsh toward him, for had she not seen him
relegated to the most obnoxious of duties after promising him a far
different life? And now what was he thinking of her? His descent from
favor had followed upon the disclosures which made plain to each the
identity of the other. No doubt he was attributing his degradation, in a
sense, to the fact that she no longer relished his services, having seen
a romantic little ideal shattered by his firm assertions. Of course, she
knew that General Marlanx was alone instrumental in assigning him to the
unpleasant duty he now observed, but how was Baldos to know that she was
not the real power behind the Iron Count?
A light drizzle began to fall, cold and disagreeable. There were no
stars, no moon. The ground below was black with shadows, but shimmering
in spots touched by the feeble park lamps. She retreated through her
window, determined to go to bed. Her rebellious brain, however, refused
to banish him from her thoughts. She wondered if he were patroling the
castle grounds In the rain, in all that lonely darkness. Seized by a
sudden inspiration, she threw a gossamer about her, grasped an umbrella
and ventured out upon the balcony once more. Guiltily she searched the
night through the fine drizzling rain; her ears listened eagerly for the
tread which was so well known to her.
At last he strode beneath a lamp not far away. He looked up, but, of
course, could not see her against the dark wall. For a long time he
stood motionless beneath the light. She could not help seeing that he
was dejected, tired, unhappy. His shoulders drooped, and there as a
general air of listlessness about the figure which had once been so full
of courage and of hope. The post light fell directly upon his face. It
was somber, despondent, strained. He wore the air of a prisoner. Her
heart went out to him like a flash. The debonair knight of the black
patch was no more; in his place there stood a sullen slave to
"Baldos!" she called softly, her voice penetrating the dripping air with
the clearness of a bell. He must have been longing for the sound of it,
for he started and looked eagerly in her direction. His tall form
straightened as he passed his hand over his brow. It was but a voice
from his dream, he thought. "Aren't you afraid you'll get wet?" asked
the same low, sweet voice, with the suggestion of a laugh behind
it. With long strides he crossed the pavement and stood almost directly
"Your highness!" he exclaimed gently, joyously. "What are you doing out
"Wondering, Baldos--wondering what you were thinking of as you stood
under the lamp over there."
"I was thinking of your highness," he called up, softly.
"No, no!" she protested.
"I, too, was wondering--wondering what you were dreaming of as you
slept, for you should be asleep at this hour, your highness, instead of
standing out there in the rain."
"Baldos," she called down tremulously, "you don't like this work, do
"It has nothing but darkness in it for me. I never see the light of your
eyes. I never feel the--"
"Sh! You must not talk like that. It's not proper, and besides someone
may be listening. The night has a thousand ears--or is it eyes? But
listen: to-morrow you shall be restored to your old duties. You surely
cannot believe that I had anything to do with the order which compels
you to work at this unholy hour."
"I was afraid you were punishing me for my boldness. My heart has been
sore--you never can know how sore. I was disgraced, dismissed,
"No, no--you _were_ not! You must not say that. Go away now,
Baldos. You will ride with me to-morrow," she cried nervously. "Please
go to some place where you won't get dripping wet."
"You forget that I am on guard," he said with a laugh. "But you are a
wise counsellor. Is the rain so pleasant to you?"
"I have an umbrella," she protested. "What are you doing?" she cried in
alarm. He was coming hand over hand, up the trellis-work that enclosed
the lower verandah.
"I am coming to a place where I won't get dripping wet," he called
softly. There was a dangerous ring in his voice and she drew back in a
"You must not!" she cried desperately. "This is madness! Go down, sir!"
"I am happy enough to fly, but cannot. So I do the next best thing--I
climb to you." His arm was across the stone railing by this time and he
was panting from the exertion, not two feet from where she
crouched. "Just one minute of heaven before I go back to the shadow of
earth. I am happy again. Marlanx told me you had dismissed me. I wonder
what he holds in reserve for me. I knew he lied, but it is not until now
that I rejoice. Come, you are to shield me from the rain."
"Oh, oh!" she gasped, overwhelmed by his daring passion. "I should die
if anyone saw you here." Yet she spasmodically extended the umbrella so
that it covered him and left her out in the drizzle.
"And so should I," responded he softly. "Listen to me. For hours and
hours I have been longing for the dear old hills in which you found
me. I wanted to crawl out of Edelweiss and lose myself forever in the
rocks and crags. To-night when you saw me I was trying to say good-bye
to you forever. I was trying to make up my mind to desert. I could not
endure the new order of things. You had cast me off. My friends out
there were eager to have me with them. In the city everyone is ready to
call me a spy--even you, I thought. Life was black and drear. Now, my
princess, it is as bright as heaven itself."
"You must not talk like this," she whispered helplessly. "You are making
me sorry I called to you."
"I should have heard you if you had only whispered, my rain princess. I
have no right to talk of love--I am a vagabond; but I have a heart, and
it is a bold one. Perhaps I dream that I am here beside you--so near
that I can touch your face--but it is the sweetest of dreams. But for it
I should have left Edelweiss weeks ago. I shall never awaken from this
dream; you cannot rob me of the joys of dreaming."
Under the spell of his passion she drew nearer to him as he clung
strongly to the rail. The roses at her throat came so close that he
could bury his face in them. Her hand touched his cheek, and he kissed
its palm again and again, his wet lips stinging her blood to the tips of
"Go away, please," she implored faintly. "Don't you see that you must
not stay here--now?"
"A rose, my princess,--one rose to kiss all through the long night," he
whispered. She could feel his eyes burning into her heart. With
trembling, hurried fingers she tore loose a rose. He could not seize it
with his hands because of the position he held, and she laughed
tantalizingly. Then she kissed it first and pressed it against his
mouth. His lips and teeth closed over the stem and the rose was his.
"There are thorns," she whispered, ever so softly.
"They are the riches of the poor," he murmured with difficulty, but she
"Now, go," she said, drawing resolutely away. An instant later his head
disappeared below the rail. Peering over the side she saw his figure
spring easily to the ground, and then came the rapid, steady tramp as he
went away on his dreary patrol.
"I couldn't help it," she was whispering to herself between joy and
Glancing instinctively out toward the solitary lamp she saw two men
standing in its light. One of them was General Marlanx; the other she
knew to be the spy that watched Baldos. Her heart sank like lead when
she saw that the two were peering intently toward the balcony where she
stood, and where Baldos had clung but a moment before.
She shrank back with a great dread in her heart. Marlanx, of all men!
Why was he in the park at this hour of the night? There could be but one
answer, and the very thought of it almost suffocated her. He was drawing
the net with his own hands, he was spying with his own eyes. For a full
minute it seemed to her that her heart would stop beating. How long had
he been standing there? What had he seen or heard? Involuntarily she
peered over the rail for a glimpse of Baldos. He had gone out into the
darkness, missing the men at the lamp-post either by choice or through
pure good fortune. A throb of thankfulness assailed her heart. She was
not thinking of her position, but of his.
Again she drew stealthily away from the rail, possessed of a ridiculous
feeling that her form was as plain to the vision as if it were broad
daylight. The tread of a man impelled her to glance below once more
before fleeing to her room. Marlanx was coming toward the verandah. She
fled swiftly, pausing at the window to lower the friendly but forgotten
umbrella. From below came the sibilant hiss of a man seeking to attract
her attention. Once more she stopped to listen. The "hist" was repeated,
and then her own name was called softly but imperatively. It was beyond
the power of woman to keep from laughing. It struck her as irresistibly
funny that the Iron Count should be standing out there in the rain,
signaling to her like a love-sick boy. Once she was inside, however, it
did not seem so amusing. Still, it gave her an immense amount of
satisfaction to slam the windows loudly, as if in pure defiance. Then
she closed the blinds, shutting out the night completely.
Turning up the light at her dressing-table, she sat down in a state of
sudden collapse. For a long time she stared at her face in the
mirror. She saw the red of shame and embarrassment mount to her cheeks
and then she covered her eyes with her hands.
"Oh, what a fool you've been," she half sobbed, shrinking from the
mirror as if it were an accuser.
She prepared for bed with frantic haste. Just as she was about to
scramble in and hide her face in the pillows, a shocking thought came to
her. The next she was at the windows and the slats were closed with a
rattle like a volley of firearms. Then she jumped into bed. She wondered
if the windows were locked. Out she sprang again like a flash, and her
little bare feet scurried across the room, first to the windows and then
to the door.
"Now, I reckon I'm safe," she murmured a moment later, again getting
into bed. "I love to go to sleep with the rain pattering outside like
that. Oh, dear, I'm so sorry he has to walk all night In this rain.
Poor fellow! I wonder where he is now. Goodness, it's raining cats and
But in spite of the rain she could not go to sleep. Vague fears began to
take possession of her. Something dreadful told her that Count Marlanx
was on the balcony and at her window, notwithstanding the rain pour. The
fear became oppressive, maddening. She felt the man's presence almost as
strongly as if he were in plain view. He was there, she knew it.
The little revolver that had served her so valiantly at the Inn of the
Hawk and Raven lay upon a stool near the bedside every night. Consumed
by the fear that the window might open slowly at any moment, she reached
forth and clutched the weapon. Then she shrank back in the bed, her eyes
fixed upon the black space across the room. For hours she shivered and
waited for the window to open, dozing away time and again only to come
back to wakefulness with a start.
The next morning she confessed to herself that her fears had been
silly. Her first act after breakfasting alone in her room was to seek
out Colonel Quinnox, commander of the castle guard. In her mind she was
greatly troubled over the fate of the bold visitor of the night
before. There was a warm, red glow in her face and a quick beat in her
heart as she crossed the parade-ground. Vagabond though he was, he had
conquered where princes had failed. Her better judgment told her that
she could be nothing to this debonair knight of the road, yet her heart
stubbornly resisted all the arguments that her reason put forth.
Colonel Quinnox was pleasant, but he could give Beverly no promise of
leniency in regard to Baldos. Instructions had come to him from General
Marlanx, and he could not set them aside at will. Her plea that he might
once more be assigned to old-time duties found the colonel regretfully
obdurate. Baldos could not ride with her again until Marlanx withdrew
the order which now obtained, Beverly swallowed her pride and resentment
diplomatically, smiled her sweetest upon the distressed colonel, and
marched defiantly back to the castle. Down in her rebellious, insulted
heart she was concocting all sorts of plans for revenge. Chief among
them was the terrible overthrow of the Iron Count. Her wide scope of
vengeance even contemplated the destruction of Graustark if her end
could be obtained in no other way.
Full of these bitter-sweet thoughts she came to the castle doors before
she saw who was waiting for her upon the great verandah. As she mounted
the steps, a preoccupied frown upon her fair brow, General Marlanx,
lean, crafty and confident, advanced to greet her. The early hour was
responsible for the bright solitude which marked the place. But few
signs of life were in evidence about the castle.
She stopped with a sharp exclamation of surprise. Then scorn and
indignation rushed in to fill the place of astonishment. She faced the
smiling old man with anger in her eyes.
"Good morning," he said, extending his hand, which she did not see. She
was wondering how much he had seen and heard at midnight.
"I thought the troops were massing this morning," she said
coldly. "Don't you mass, too?"
"There is time enough for that, my dear. I came to have a talk with
you--in private," he said meaningly.
"It is sufficiently private here, Count Marlanx. What have you to say to
"I want to talk about last night. You were very reckless to do what you
"Oh, you _were_ playing the spy, then?" she asked scornfully.
"An involuntary observer, believe me--and a jealous one. I had hoped to
win the affections of an innocent girl. What I saw last night shocked me
"Well, you shouldn't have looked," she retorted, tossing her chin; and
the red feather in her hat bobbed angrily.
"I am surprised that one as clever as you are could have carried on an
amour so incautiously," he said blandly.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that I saw everything that occurred."
"Well, I'm not ashamed of it," obstinately. "Good-bye, Count Marlanx."
"One moment, please. I cannot let you off so easily. What right had you
to take that man into your room, a place sacred in the palace of
Graustark? Answer me, Miss Calhoun."
Beverly drew back in horror and bewilderment.
"Into my room?" she gasped.
"Let us waste no time in subterfuge. I saw him come from your window,
and I saw all that passed between you in the balcony. Love's eyes are
keen. What occurred in your chamber I can only--"
"Stop! How dare you say such a thing to me?" she fiercely cried. "You
miserable coward! You know he was not in my room. Take it back--take
back every word of that lie!" She was white with passion, cold with
"Bah! This is childish. I am not the only one who _saw_ him, my
dear. He was in your room--you were in his arms. It's useless to deny
it. And to think that I have spared him from death to have it come to
this! You need not look so horrified. Your secret is safe with me. I
come to make terms with you. My silence in exchange for your
beauty. It's worth it to you. One word from me, you are disgraced and
Baldos dies. Come, my fair lady, give me your promise, it's a good
bargain for both."
Beverly was trembling like a leaf. This phase of his villainy had not
occurred to her. She was like a bird trying to avoid the charmed eye of
"Oh, you--you miserable wretch!" she cried, hoarse with anger and
despair. "What a cur you are! You know you are not speaking the truth.
How can you say such things to me? I have never wronged you--" She was
almost in tears, impotent with shame and fear.
"It has been a pretty game of love for you and the excellent Baldos. You
have deceived those who love you best and trust you most. What will the
princess say when she hears of last night's merry escapade? What will
she say when she learns who was hostess to a common guardsman at the
midnight hour? It is no wonder that you look terrified. It is for you to
say whether she is to know or not. You can bind me to silence. You have
lost Baldos. Take me and all that I can give you in his stead, and the
world never shall know the truth. You love him, I know, and there is but
one way to save him. Say the word and he goes free to the hills; decline
and his life is not worth a breath of air."
"And pretending to believe this of me, you still ask me to be your
wife. What kind of a man are you?" she demanded, scarcely able to speak.
"My wife?" he said harshly. "Oh, no. You are not the wife of Baldos," he
"Good God!" gasped Beverly, crushed by the brutality of it all. "I would
sooner die. Would to heaven my father were here, he would shoot you as
he would a dog! Oh, how I loathe you! Don't you try to stop me! I shall
go to the princess myself. She shall know what manner of beast you are."
She was racing up the steps, flaming with anger and shame.
"Remember, I can prove what I have said. Beware what you do. I love you
so much that I now ask you to become my wife. Think well over it. Your
honor and his life! It rests with you," he cried eagerly, following her
to the door.
"You disgusting old fool," she hissed, turning upon him as she pulled
the big brass knocker on the door.
"I must have my answer to-night, or you know what will happen," he
snarled, but he felt in his heart that he had lost through his
She flew to Yetive's boudoir, consumed by rage and
mortification. Between sobs and feminine maledictions she poured the
whole story, in all its ugliness, into the ears of the princess.
"Now, Yetive, you have to stand by me in this," announced the narrator
conclusively, her eyes beaming hopefully through her tears.
"I cannot prevent General Marlanx from preferring serious charges
against Baldos, dear. I know he was not in your room last night. You did
not have to tell me that, because I saw you both at the balcony rail."
Beverly's face took on such a radiant look of rejoicing that Yetive was
amply paid for the surprising and gratifying acknowledgment of a second
period of eavesdropping. "You may depend upon me to protect you from
Marlanx. He can make it very unpleasant for Baldos, but he shall pay
dearly for this insult to you. He has gone too far."
"I don't think he has any proof against Baldos," said Beverly, thinking
only of the guardsman.
"But it is so easy to manufacture evidence, my dear. The Iron Count has
set his heart upon having you, and he is not the man to be turned aside
"He seems to think he can get wives as easily as he gets rid of them, I
observe. I was going back to Washington soon, Yetive, but I'll stay on
now and see this thing to the end. He can't scare a Calhoun, no
sir-ee. I'll telegraph for my brother Dan to come over here and punch
his head to pieces."
"Now, now,--don't be so high and mighty, dear. Let us see how rational
we can be," said the Princess gently. Whereupon the hot-headed girl from
Dixie suspended hostilities and became a very demure young woman. Before
long she was confessing timidly, then boldly, that she loved Baldos
better than anything in all the world.
"I can't help it, Yetive. I know I oughtn't to, but what is there to do
when one can't help it? There would be an awful row at home if I married
him. Of course, he hasn't asked me. Maybe he won't. In fact, I'm sure he
won't. I shan't give him a chance. But if he does ask me I'll just keep
putting him off. I've done it before, you know. You see, for a long,
long time, I fancied he might be a prince, but he isn't at all. I've had
his word for it. He's just an ordinary person--like--like--well, like I
am. Only he doesn't look so ordinary. Isn't he handsome, Yetive? And,
dear me, he is so impulsive! If he had asked me to jump over the balcony
rail with him last night, I believe I would have done it. Wouldn't that
have surprised old Marlanx?" Beverly gave a merry laugh. The troubles of
the morning seemed to fade away under the warmth of her humor. Yetive
sat back and marvelled at the manner in which this blithe young American
cast out the "blue devils."
"You must not do anything foolish, Beverly," she cautioned, "Your
parents would never forgive me if I allowed you to marry or even to fall
in love with any Tom, Dick or Harry over here. Baldos may be the
gallant, honest gentleman we believe him to be, but he also may be the
worst of adventurers. One can never tell, dear. I wish now that I had
not humored you in your plan to bring him to the castle. I'm afraid I
have done wrong. You have seen too much of him and--oh, well, you
_will_ be sensible, won't you, dear?" There was real concern in the
face of the princess. Beverly kissed her rapturously.
"Don't worry about me, Yetive. I know how to take care of myself. Worry
about your old Gabriel, if you like, but don't bother your head about
me," she cried airily. "Now let's talk about the war. Marlanx won't do
anything until he hears from me. What's the use worrying?"
Nightfall brought General Marlanx in from the camps outside the
gates. He came direct to the castle and boldly sent word to Beverly that
he must speak to her at once. She promptly answered that she did not
want to see him and would not. Without a moment's hesitation he appealed
for an audience with the princess, and it was granted.
He proceeded, with irate coolness, to ask how far she believed herself
bound to protect the person of Baldos, the guard. He understood that she
was under certain obligations to Miss Calhoun and he wanted to be
perfectly sure of his position before taking a step which now seemed
imperative. Baldos was a spy in the employ of Dawsbergen. He had
sufficient proof to warrant his arrest and execution; there were
documents, and there was positive knowledge that he had conferred with
strangers from time to time, even within the walls of the castle
grounds. Marlanx cited instances in which Baldos had been seen talking
to a strange old man inside the grounds, and professed to have proof
that he had gone so far as to steal away by night to meet men beyond the
city walls. He was now ready to seize the guard, but would not do so
until he had conferred with his sovereign.
"Miss Calhoun tells me that you have made certain proposals to her,
Count Marlanx," said Yetive coldly, her eyes upon his hawkish face.
"I have asked her to be my wife, your highness."
"You have threatened her, Count Marlanx."
"She has exposed herself to you? I would not have told what I saw last
"Would it interest you to know that I saw everything that passed on the
balcony last night? You will allow me to say, general, that you have
behaved in a most outrageous manner in approaching my guest with such
foul proposals. Stop, sir! She has told me everything and I believe
her. I believe my own eyes. There is no need to discuss the matter
further. You have lost the right to be called a man. For the present I
have only to say that you shall be relieved of the command of my
army. The man who makes war on women is not fit to serve one. As for
Baldos, you are at liberty to prefer the charges. He shall have a fair
trial, rest assured."
"Your highness, hear me," implored Marlanx, white to the roots of his
"I will hear what you have to say when my husband is at my side."
"I can but stand condemned, then, your highness, without a hearing. My
vindication will come, however. With your permission, I retire to
contrive the arrest of this spy. You may depose me, but you cannot ask
me to neglect my duty to Graustark. I have tried to save him for Miss
Calhoun's sake--" But her hand was pointing to the door.
Ten minutes later Beverly was hearing everything from the lips of the
princess, and Marlanx was cursing his way toward the barracks, vengeance
in his heart. But a swift messenger from the castle reached the
guard-room ahead of him. Colonel Quinnox was reading an official note
from the princess when Marlanx strode angrily into the room.
"Bring this fellow Baldos to me, Colonel Quinnox," he said, without
"I regret to say that I have but this instant received a message from
her highness, commanding me to send him to the castle," said Quinnox,
with a smile.
"The devil! What foolishness is this?" snarled the Iron Count.
"Have a care, sir," said Quinnox stiffly. "It is of the princess you
"Bah! I am here to order the man's arrest. It is more important than--"
"Nevertheless, sir, he goes to the castle first. This note says that I
am to disregard any command you may give until further notice."
Marlanx fell back amazed and stunned. At this juncture Baldos entered
the room. Quinnox handed him an envelope, telling him that it was from
the princess and that he was to repair at once to the castle, Baldos
glanced at the handwriting, and his face lit up proudly.
"I am ready to go, sir," he said, passing the Iron Count with a most
disconcerting smile on his face.
A SHOT IN THE DARKNESS
Baldos started off at once for the castle, his heart singing. In the
darkness of the night he kissed the message which had come to him from
"her highness." The envelope had been closed with the official seal of
Yetive, Princess of Graustark, and was sacred to the eyes of anyone save
the man to whom it was directed. The words it contained were burned deep
in his brain:
"You are ordered to report for duty in the castle. Come at once. Her
highness has sent an official command to Colonel Quinnox. Count
Marlanx has been here. You are not expected to desert until you have
seen me. There is an underground passage somewhere.--B."
Baldos went alone and swiftly. The note to Colonel Quinnox had been
imperative. He was to serve as an inner guard until further
orders. Someone, it was reported, had tried to enter Miss Calhoun's room
from the outside during the rainstorm of the previous night, and a
special guard was to be stationed near the door. All of this was unknown
to Baldos, but he did not ask for any explanations.
He was half way to the castle when the sharp report of a gun startled
him. A bullet whizzed close to his ear! Baldos broke into a crouching
run, but did not change his course. He knew that the shot was intended
for him, and that its mission was to prevent him from reaching the
castle. The attendants at the castle door admitted him, panting and
excited, and he was taken immediately to the enchanted boudoir of the
princess which but few men were fortunate enough to enter. There were
three women in the room.
"I am here to report, your highness," said he, bowing low before the
real princess, with a smile upon his flushed face.
"You are prompt," said the princess "What have you to report, sir?"
"That an attempt has just been made to kill a member of the castle
guard," he coolly answered.
"I am quite certain of it, your highness. The bullet almost clipped my
"Good heavens!" gasped the listeners. Then they eagerly plied him with
more agitated questions than he could answer.
"And did you not pursue the wretch?" cried the princess.
"No, your highness. I was commanded to report to you at once. Only the
success of the assassin could have made me--well, hesitate," said he
calmly. "A soldier has but to obey."
"Do you think there was a deliberate attempt to kill you?" asked the
Countess Dagmar. Beverly Calhoun was dumb with consternation.
"I cannot say, madame. Possibly it was an accidental discharge. One
should not make accusations unsupported. If you have no immediate need
of my services, your highness, I will ask you to grant me leave of
absence for half an hour. I have a peculiar longing to investigate."
There was a determined gleam in his eyes.
"No? no!" cried Beverly. "Don't you dare to go out there again. You are
to stay right here in the castle, sir. We have something else for you to
do. It was that awful old Marlanx who shot at you. He--"
"I left General Marlanx in Colonel Quinnox's quarters, Miss Calhoun,"
interposed Baldos grimly. "He could not have fired the shot. For two or
three nights, your highness, I have been followed and dogged with
humiliating persistence by two men wearing the uniforms of castle
guards. They do not sleep at the barracks. May I ask what I have done to
be submitted to such treatment?" There was a trace of poorly concealed
indignation in his voice.
"I assure you that this is news to me," said Yetive in amazement.
"I am being watched as if I were a common thief," he went on
boldly. "These men are not your agents; they are not the agents of
Graustark. May I be permitted to say that they are spies set upon me by
a man who has an object in disgracing me? Who that man is, I leave to
your royal conjecture."
"Yes, your highness. He bears me a deadly grudge and yet he fears me. I
know full well that he and his agents have built a strong case against
me. They are almost ready to close in upon me, and they will have false
evidence so craftily prepared that even my truest friends may doubt my
loyalty to you and to the cause I serve. Before God, I have been true to
my oath. I am loyal to Graustark. It was a sorry day when I left the
"Oh!" cried Beverly piteously. "Don't say that."
"Alas, Miss Calhoun, it is true," said he sadly, "I am penned up here
where I cannot fight back. Treason is laid against me. But, beyond all
this, I have permitted my loyalty to mislead my ambition. I have aspired
to something I can cherish but never possess. Better that I never should
have tasted of the unattainable than to have the cup withdrawn just as
its sweetness begins to intoxicate."
He stood before them, pale with suppressed emotion. The women of
Graustark looked involuntarily at Beverly, who sat cold and voiceless,
staring at the face of the guard. She knew what he meant; she knew that
something was expected of her. A word from her and he would understand
that he had not tasted of the unattainable. In one brief moment she saw
that she had deliberately led him on, that she had encouraged him, that
she actually had proffered him the cup from which he had begun to sip
the bitterness. Pride and love were waging a conflict in this hapless
southern girl's heart. But she was silent. She could not say the word.
"I think I know what you mean, Baldos," said Yetive, seeing that Beverly
would not intervene. "We are sorry. No one trusts to your honor more
than I do. My husband believes in you. I will confess that you are to be
arrested as a spy to-morrow. To-night you are to serve as a guard in the
castle. This should prove to you that I have unbounded faith in you.
Moreover, I believe in you to the extent that I should not be afraid to
trust you if you were to go out into the world with every secret which
we possess. You came here under a peculiar stress of circumstances, not
wholly of your own volition. Believe me, I am your friend."
"I shall revere your highness forever for those words," said he
simply. His eyes went hungrily to Beverly's averted face, and then
assumed a careless gleam which indicated that he had resigned himself to
"I am constrained to ask you one question, sir," went on the
princess. "You are not the common goat-hunter you assume. Will you tell
me in confidence who you really are?" The others held their breath. He
hesitated for a moment.
"Will it suffice if I say that I am an unfortunate friend and advocate
of Prince Dantan? I have risked everything for his sake and I fear I
have lost everything. I have failed to be of service to him, but through
no fault of mine. Fate has been against me."
"You are Christobal," cried Dagmar eagerly. He gave her a startled
glance, but offered no denial. Beverly's face was a study. If he were
Christobal, then what of the game-warden's daughter?
"We shall question you no further," said Yetive. "You enlisted to serve
Miss Calhoun. It is for her to command you while you are here. May God
be with you to the end. Miss Calhoun, will you tell him what his duties
are for to-night? Come, my dear."
Yetive and Dagmar walked slowly from the room, leaving Beverly and her
"I am at your service, Miss Calhoun," he said easily. His apparent
indifference stung her into womanly revolt.
"I was a fool last night," she said abruptly.
"No; I was the fool. I have been the fool from the beginning. You shall
not blame yourself, for I do not blame you. It has been a sweet comedy,
a summer pastime. Forget what I may have said to you last night, forget
what my eyes may have said for weeks and weeks."
"I shall never forget," said she. "You deserve the best in the
world. Would that I could give it to you. You have braved many dangers
for my sake. I shall not forget. Do you know that we were watched last
"Watched?" he cried incredulously. "Oh, fool that I am! I might have
known. And I have subjected you to--to--don't tell me that harsh things
have been said to you, Miss Calhoun!" He was deeply disturbed.
"General Marlanx saw you. He has threatened me, Baldos,--"
"I will kill him! What do I care for the consequences? He shall pay
"Stop! Where are you going? You are to remain here, sir, and take your
commands from me. I don't want you to kill him. They'd hang you or
something just as bad. He's going to be punished, never fear!" Baldos
smiled in spite of his dismay. It was impossible to face this confident
young champion in petticoats without catching her enthusiasm. "What have
you done with--with that rose?" she asked suddenly, flushing and
diffident. Her eyes glistened with embarrassment.
"It lies next my heart. I love it," he said bravely.
"I think I'll command you to return it to me," vaguely.
"A command to be disobeyed. It is in exchange for my feather," he smiled
"Well, of course, if you are going to be mean about--Now, let me see,"
she said confusedly; "what are your duties for to-night? You are to
stand guard in the corridor. Once in awhile you will go out upon the
balcony and take a look. You see, I am afraid of someone. Oh, Baldos,
what's the use of my trifling like this? You are to escape from
Edelweiss to-night. That is the whole plan--the whole idea in a
nutshell. Don't look like that. Don't you want to go?" Now she was
trembling with excitement.
"I do not want to leave you," he cried eagerly. "It would be
cowardly. Marlanx would understand that you gave aid and sanction. You
would be left to face the charges he would make. Don't you see, Beverly?
You would be implicated--you would be accused. Why did you not let me
kill him? No; I will not go!" Neither noticed the name by which he had
"But I insist," she cried weakly. "You must go away from me. I--I
command you to--"
"Is it because you want to drive me out of your life forever?" he
demanded, sudden understanding coming to him.
"Don't put it that way," she murmured.
"Is it because you care for me that you want me to go?" he insisted,
drawing near. "Is it because you fear the love I bear for you?"
"Love? You don't really--Stop! Remember where you are, sir! You must not
go on with it, Baldos. Don't come a step nearer. Do go to-night! It is
for the best. I have been awfully wicked in letting it run on as it
has. Forgive me, please forgive me," she pleaded. He drew back, pale and
hurt. A great dignity settled upon his face. His dark eyes crushed her
with their quiet scorn.
"I understand, Miss Calhoun. The play is over. You will find the
luckless vagabond a gentleman, after all. You ask me to desert the cause
I serve. That is enough. I shall go to-night."
The girl was near to surrender. Had it not been for the persistent fear
that her proud old father might suffer from her wilfulness, she would
have thrown down the barrier and risked everything in the choice. Her
heart was crying out hungrily for the love of this tall, mysterious
soldier of fortune.
"It is best," she murmured finally. Later on she was to know the meaning
of the peculiar smile he gave her.
"I go because you dismiss me, not because I fear an enemy. If you choose
to remember me at all, be just enough to believe that I am not a
"You are brave and true and good, and I am a miserable, deceitful
wretch," she lamented. "You will seek Ravone and the others?"
"Yes. They are my friends. They love my poverty. And now, may it please
your highness, when am I to go forth and in what garb? I should no
longer wear the honest uniform of a Graustark guard."
"Leave it to me. Everything shall be arranged. You will be discreet? No
one is to know that I am your--"
"Rest assured, Miss Calhoun. I have a close mouth," and he smiled
"I agree with you," said she regretfully. "You know how to hold your
tongue." He laughed harshly. "For once in a way, will you answer a
"I will not promise."
"You say that you are Dantan's friend. Is it true that he is to marry
the daughter of the Duke of Matz, Countess Iolanda?"
"It has been so reported."
"Is she beautiful?"
"But is he to marry her?" she insisted, she knew not why.
"How should I know, your highness?"
"If you call me 'your highness' again I'll despise you," she flared
miserably. "Another question. Is it true that the young Duke Christobal
fled because his father objected to his marriage with a game-warden's
"I have never heard so," with a touch of hauteur.
"Does he know that the girl is dead?" she asked cruelly. Baldos did not
answer for a long time. He stared at her steadily, his eyes expressing
no emotion from which she could judge him.
"I think he is ignorant of that calamity, Miss Calhoun," he said. "With
your permission, I shall withdraw. There is nothing to be gained by
delay." It was such a palpable affront that she shrank within herself
and could have cried.
Without answering, she walked unsteadily to the window and looked out
into the night. A mist came into her eyes. For many minutes she remained
there, striving to regain control of her emotions. All this time she
knew that he was standing just where she had left him, like a statue,
awaiting her command. At last she faced him resolutely.
"You will receive instructions as to your duties here from the guard at
the stairs. When you hear the hall clock strike the hour of two in the
morning go into the chapel, but do not let anyone see you or
suspect. You know where it is. The door will be unlocked."
"Am I not to see you again?" he asked, and she did not think him
"Yes," she answered, after a pause that seemed like an eternity, and he
went quietly, silently away.
BENEATH THE GROUND
While Baldos was standing guard in the long, lofty hallway the Iron
Count was busy with the machinations which were calculated to result in
a startling upheaval with the break of a new day. He prepared and swore
to the charges preferred against Baldos. They were despatched to the
princess for her perusal in the morning. Then he set about preparing the
vilest accusations against Beverly Calhoun. In his own handwriting and
over his own signature he charged her with complicity in the betrayal of
Graustark, influenced by the desires of the lover who masqueraded as her
protege. At some length he dwelt upon the well-laid plot of the spy and
his accomplice. He told of their secret meetings, their outrages against
the dignity of the court, and their unmistakable animosity toward
Graustark. For each and every count in his vicious indictment against
the girl he professed to have absolute proof by means of more than one
It was not the design of Marlanx to present this document to the
princess and her cabinet. He knew full well that it would meet the fate
it deserved. It was intended for the eyes of Beverly Calhoun alone. By
means of the vile accusations, false though they were, he hoped to
terrorize her into submission. He longed to possess this lithe,
beautiful creature from over the sea. In all his life he had not
hungered for anything as he now craved Beverly Calhoun. He saw that his
position in the army was rendered insecure by the events of the last
day. A bold, vicious stroke was his only means for securing the prize he
longed for more than he longed for honor and fame.
Restless and enraged, consumed by jealousy and fear, he hung about the
castle grounds long after he had drawn the diabolical charges. He knew
that Baldos was inside the castle, favored, while he, a noble of the
realm, was relegated to ignominy and the promise of degradation.
Encamped outside the city walls the army lay without a leader. Each hour
saw the numbers augmented by the arrival of reserves from the districts
of the principality. His place was out there with the staff. Yet he
could not drag himself away from the charmed circle in which his prey
was sleeping. Morose and grim, he anxiously paced to and fro in an
obscure corner of the grounds.
"What keeps the scoundrel?" he said to himself angrily.
Presently, a villainous looking man dressed in the uniform of the
guards, stealthily approached. "I missed him, general, but I will get
him the next time." growled the man.
"Curse you for a fool!" hissed Marlanx through his teeth. As another
hireling came up. "What have you got to say?"
The man reported that Baldos had been seen on the balcony alone,
evidently on watch.
Marlanx ground his teeth and his blood stormed his reason. "The job must
be done to-night. You have your instructions. Capture him if possible;
but if necessary, kill him. You know your fate, if you fail." Marlanx
actually grinned at the thought of the punishment he would mete out to
them. "Now be off!"
Rashly he made his way to the castle front. A bright moon cast its
mellow glow over the mass of stone outlined against the western sky. For
an hour he glowered in the shade of the trees, giving but slight heed to
the guards who passed from time to time. His eyes never left the
At last he saw the man. Baldos came from the floor at the end of the
balcony, paced the full length in the moonlight, paused for a moment
near Beverly Calhoun's window and then disappeared through the same door
that had afforded him egress.
Inside the dark castle the clock at the end of the hall melodiously
boomed the hour of two. Dead quiet followed the soft echoes of the
gong. A tall figure stealthily opened the door to Yetive's chapel and
stepped inside. There was a streak of moonlight through the clear window
at the far end of the room. Baldos, his heart beating rapidly, stood
still for a moment, awaiting the next move in the game. The ghost-like
figure of a woman suddenly stood before him in the path of the moonbeam,
a hooded figure in dark robes. He started as if confronted by the
"Come," came in an agitated whisper, and he stepped to the side of the
phantom. She turned and the moonlight fell upon the face of Beverly
Calhoun, "Don't speak. Follow me as quickly as you can."
He grasped her arm, bringing her to a standstill.
"I have changed my mind," he whispered in her ear. "Do you think I will
run away and leave you to shoulder the blame for all this? On the
balcony near your window an hour ago I--"
"It doesn't make any difference," she argued. "You have to go. I want
you to go. If you knew just how I feel toward you you would go without a
"You mean that you hate me," he groaned.
"I wouldn't be so unkind as to say that," she fluttered. "I don't know
who you are. Come; we can't delay a minute. I have a key to the gate at
the other end of the passage and I know where the secret panel is
located. Hush! It doesn't matter where I got the key. See! See how easy
He felt her tense little fingers in the darkness searching for
his. Their hands were icy cold when the clasp came. Together they stood
in a niche of the wall near the chancel rail. It was dark and a cold
draft of air blew across their faces. He could not see, but there was
proof enough that she had opened the secret panel in the wall, and that
the damp, chill air came from the underground passage, which led to a
point outside the city walls.
"You go first," she whispered nervously. "I'm afraid. There is a lantern
on the steps and I have some matches. We'll light it as soon as--Oh,
what was that?"
"Don't be frightened," he said. "I think it was a rat."
"Good gracious!" she gasped. "I wouldn't go in there for the world."
"Do you mean to say that you intended to do so?" he asked eagerly.
"Certainly. Someone has to return the key to the outer gate. Oh, I
suppose I'll have to go in. You'll keep them off, won't you?"
plaintively. He was smiling in the darkness, thinking what a dear,
whimsical thing she was.
"With my life," he said softly.
"They're ten times worse than lions," she announced.
"You must not forget that you return alone," he said triumphantly.
"But I'll have the lantern going full blast," she said, and then allowed
him to lead her into the narrow passageway. She closed the panel and
then felt about with her foot until it located the lantern. In a minute
they had a light. "Now, don't be afraid," she said encouragingly. He
laughed in pure delight; she misunderstood his mirth and was conscious
of a new and an almost unendurable pang. He was filled with exhilaration
over the prospect of escape! Somehow she felt an impulse to throw her
arms about him and drag him back into the chapel, in spite of the ghost
of the game-warden's daughter.
"What is to prevent me from taking you with me?" he said intensely, a
mighty longing in his breast. She laughed but drew back uneasily.
"And live unhappily ever afterward?" said she. "Oh, dear me! Isn't this
a funny proceeding? Just think of me, Beverly Calhoun, being mixed up
in schemes and plots and intrigues and all that. It seems like a great
big dream. And that reminds me: you will find a raincoat at the foot of
the steps. I couldn't get other clothes for you, so you'll have to wear
the uniform. There's a stiff hat of Mr. Lorry's also. You've no idea how
difficult it is for a girl to collect clothes for a man. There doesn't
seem to be any real excuse for it, you know. Goodness, it looks black
ahead there, doesn't it? I hate underground things. They're so damp and
all that. How far is it, do you suppose, to the door in the wall?" She
was chattering on, simply to keep up her courage and to make her fairest
show of composure.
"It's a little more than three hundred yards," he replied. They were
advancing through the low, narrow stone-lined passage. She steadfastly
ignored the hand he held back for support. It was not a pleasant place,
this underground way to the outside world. The walls were damp and
mouldy; the odor of the rank earth assailed the nostrils; the air was
chill and deathlike.
"How do you know?" she demanded quickly.
"I have traversed the passage before. Miss Calhoun," he replied. She
stopped like one paralyzed, her eyes wide and incredulous. "Franz was my
guide from the outer gate into the chapel. It is easy enough to get
outside the walls, but extremely difficult to return," he went on
"You mean to say that you have been in and out by way of this passage?
Then, what was your object, sir?" she demanded sternly.
"My desire to communicate with friends who could not enter the
city. Will it interest you if I say that the particular object of my
concern was a young woman?"
She gasped and was stubbornly silent for a long time. Bitter resentment
filled her soul, bitter disappointment in this young man. "A young
woman!" he had said, oh, so insolently. There could be but one
inference, one conclusion. The realization of it settled one point in
her mind forever.
"It wouldn't interest me in the least. I don't even care who she
was. Permit me to wish you much joy with her. Why don't you go on?"
irritably, forgetting that it was she who delayed progress. His smile
was invisible in the blackness above the lantern. There were no words
spoken until after they had reached the little door in the wall.
Here the passage was wider. There were casks and chests on the floor,
evidently containing articles that required instant removal from
Edelweiss in case of an emergency.
"Who was that woman?" she asked at last. The key to the door was in the
nervous little hand.
"One very near and dear to me. Miss Calhoun. That's all I can say at
"Well, this is the only time you will have the chance," she cried
loftily. "Here we part. Hush!" she whispered, involuntarily grasping his
arm. "I think I heard a step. Can anyone be following us?" They stopped
and listened. It was as still as a tomb.
"It must be the same old rat," he answered jokingly. She was too nervous
for any pleasantries, and releasing her hold on his arm, said timidly, a
"Am I to go in this manner? Have you no kind word for me? I love you
better than my soul. It is of small consequence to you, I know, but I
crave one forgiving word. It may be the last." He clasped her hand and
she did not withdraw it. Her lips were trembling, but her eyes were
brave and obstinate. Suddenly she sat down upon one of the chests. If he
had not told her of the other woman!
"Forgive me instead, for all that I have brought you to," she
murmured. "It was all my fault. I shall never forget you or forgive
myself. I--I am going back to Washin'ton immediately. I can't bear to
stay here now. Good-bye, and God bless you. Do--do you think we shall
ever see each other again?" Unconsciously she was clinging to his
hand. There were tears in the gray eyes that looked pathetically up into
his. She was very dear and enchanting, down there in the grewsome
passageway with the fitful rays of the lantern lighting her face. Only
the strictest self-control kept him from seizing her in his arms, for
something told him that she would have surrendered.
"This is the end, I fear," he said, with grim persistence. She caught
her breath in half a sob. Then she arose resolutely, although her knees
"Well, then, good-bye," she said very steadily. "You are free to go
where and to whom you like. Think of me once in awhile, Baldos. Here's
the key. Hurry! I--I can't stand it much longer!" She was ready to break
down and he saw it, but he made no sign.
Turning the key in the rusty lock, he cautiously opened the door. The
moonlit world lay beyond. A warm, intoxicating breath of fresh air came
in upon them. He suddenly stooped and kissed her hand.
"Forgive me for having annoyed you with my poor love," he said, as he