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Beverly of Graustark by George Barr McCutcheon

Part 5 out of 6

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stood in the door, looking into the night beyond.

"All--all right," she choked out as she started to close the door after

"Halt! You are our prisoner!"

The words rang out sharply in the silence of the night. Instinctively,
Beverly made an attempt to close the door; but she was too late. Two
burly, villainous looking men, sword in hand, blocked the exit and
advanced upon them.

"Back! Back!" Baldos shouted to Beverly, drawing his sword.

Like a flash, she picked up the lantern and sprang out of his
way. Capture or worse seemed certain; but her heart did not fail her.

"Put up your sword! You are under arrest!" came from the foremost of
the two. He had heard enough of Baldos's skill with the sword to hope
that the ruse might be successful and that he would surrender peaceably
to numbers. The men's instructions were to take their quarry alive if
possible. The reward for the man, living, exceeded that for him dead.

Baldos instantly recognized them as spies employed by Marlanx. They had
been dogging his footsteps for days and even had tried to murder him,
The desire for vengeance was working like madness in his blood. He was
overjoyed at having them at the point of his sword. Beverly's presence
vouchsafed that he would show little mercy.

"Arrest me, you cowardly curs!" he exclaimed. "Never!" With a spring to
one side, he quickly overturned one of the casks and pushing it in front
of him, it served as a rolling bulwark, preventing a joint attack.

"You first!" he cried coolly, as his sword met that of the leader. The
unhappy wretch was no match for the finest swordsman in Graustark. He
made a few desperate attempts to ward off his inevitable fate, calling
loudly for his comrade to aid him. The latter was eager enough, but
Baldos's strategic roll of the cask effectively prevented him from
taking a hand. With a vicious thrust, the blade of the goat-hunter tore
clean through the man's chest and touched the wall behind.

"One!" cried Baldos, gloating in the chance that had come to him. The
man gasped and fell. He was none too quick in withdrawing his dripping
weapon, for the second man was over the obstacle and upon him.



"Hold the lantern higher, Bev--" In the fury of the fight, he remembered
the risk and importance of not mentioning her name, and stopped
short. He was fighting fast but warily, for he realized that his present
adversary was no mean one. As the swords played back and forth in fierce
thrusts and parries, he spoke assuringly to Beverly: "Don't be
frightened! As soon as I finish with this fellow, we will go on! Ah!
Bravo! Well parried, my man! How the deuce could such a swordsman as you
become a cutthroat of Marlanx?"

Beverly had been standing still all this time holding the light high
above her head, according to her lover's orders, for she knew now that
such he was and that she loved him with all her heart. She was a weird
picture standing there as she watched Baldos fighting for their lives,
her beautiful face deathlike in its pallor. Not a cry escaped her lips,
as the sword-blades swished and clashed; she could hear the deep
breathing of the combatants in that tomb-like passage.

Suddenly she started and listened keenly. From behind her, back there in
the darkness, hurried footsteps were unmistakably approaching. What she
had heard, then, was not the scurrying of a rat. Some one was following
them. A terrible anguish seized her. Louder and nearer came the heavy
steps. "Oh, my God! Baldos!" she screamed in terror, "Another is

"Have no fear, dear one!" he sung out gaily. His voice was infinitely
more cheerful than he felt, for he realized only too well the desperate
situation; he was penned in and forced to meet an attack from front and
rear. He fell upon his assailant with redoubled fury, aiming to finish
him before the newcomer could give aid.

From out of the gloom came a fiendish laugh. Instantly, the dark figure
of a man appeared, his face completely hidden by a broad slouch hat and
the long cloak which enveloped him. A sardonic voice hissed, "Trapped at
last! My lady and her lover thought to escape, did they!" The voice was
unfamiliar, but the atmosphere seemed charged with Marlanx. "Kill him,
Zem!" he shouted. "Don't let him escape you! I will take care of the
little witch, never fear!" He clutched at the girl and tried to draw her
to him.

"Marlanx! By all the gods!" cried Baldos in despair. He had wounded his
man several times, though not seriously. He dared not turn to Beverly's

The scene was thrilling, grewsome. Within this narrow, dimly-lighted
underground passage, with its musty walls sweating with dampness and
thick with the tangled meshes of the spider's web, a brave girt and her
lover struggled and fought back to back.

To her dismay, Beverly saw the point of a sword at her throat.

"Out of the way, girl," the man in the cloak snarled, furious at her
resistance. "You die as well as your lover unless you surrender. He
cannot escape me."

"And if I refuse," cried the girl, trying desperately to gain time.

"I will drive my blade through your heart and tell the world it was the
deed of your lover."

Baldos groaned. His adversary, encouraged by the change in the
situation, pressed him sorely.

"Don't you dare to touch me, Count Marlanx. I know you!" she hissed." I
know what you would do with me. It is not for Graustark that you seek
his life."

The sword came nearer. The words died in her throat. She grew
faint. Terror paralyzed her. Suddenly, her heart gave a great thump of
joy. The resourcefulness of the trapped was surging to her relief. The
valor of the South leaped into life. The exhilaration of conflict beat
down all her fears. "Take away that sword, then, please," she cried, her
voice trembling, but not with terror now; it was exultation." Will you
promise to spare his life? Will you swear to let him go, if I--"

"No, no, never! God forbid!" implored Baldos.

"Ha, ha!" chuckled the man in the cloak. "Spare his life! Oh, yes; after
my master has revelled in your charms. How do you like that, my handsome

"You infernal scoundrel! I'll settle you yet!" Baldos fairly fumed with
rage. Gathering himself together for a final effort, he rushed madly on
his rapidly-weakening antagonist.

"Baldos!" she cried hopelessly and in a tone of resignation. "I must do
it! It is the only way!"

The man in the cloak as well as Baldos was deceived by the girl's
cry. He immediately lowered his sword. The lantern dropped from
Beverly's hands and clattered to the floor. At the same instant she drew
from her pocket her revolver, which she had placed there before leaving
the castle, and fired point blank at him. The report sounded like a
thunder clap in their ears. It was followed quickly by a sharp cry and
imprecation from the lips of her persecutor, who fell, striking his head
with a terrible force on the stones.

Simultaneously, there was a groan and the noise of a limp body slipping
to the ground, and, Baldos, victor at last, turned in fear and trembling
to find Beverly standing unhurt staring at the black mass at her feet.

"Thank God! You are safe!" Grasping her hand he led her out of the
darkness into the moonlight.

Not a word was spoken as they ran swiftly on until they reached a little
clump of trees, not far from one of the gates. Here Baldos gently
released her hand. She was panting for breath; but he realized she must
not be allowed to risk a moment's delay. She must pass the sentry at

"Have you the watchword?" he eagerly asked.

"Watchword?" she repeated feebly.

"Yes, the countersign for the night. It is Ganlook. Keep your face well
covered with your hood. Advance boldly to the gates and give the word.
There will be no trouble. The guard is used to pleasure seekers
returning at all hours of night."

"Is he dead?" she asked timorously, returning to the scene of horror.

"Only wounded, I think, as are the other men, though they all deserve

He went with her as close to the gate as he thought safe. Taking her
hand he kissed it fervently. "Good-bye! It won't be for long!" and

She stood still and lifeless, staring after him, for ages, it seemed. He
was gone. Gone forever, no doubt. Her eyes grew wilder and wilder with
the pity of it all. Pride fled incontinently. She longed to call him
back. Then it occurred to her that he was hurrying off to that other
woman. No, he said he would return. She must be brave, true to herself,
whatever happened. She marched boldly up to the gate, gave the
countersign and passed through, not heeding the curious glances cast
upon her by the sentry; turned into the castle, up the grand staircase,
and fled to the princess's bed-chamber.

Beverly, trembling and sobbing, threw herself in the arms of the
princess. Incoherently, she related all that had happened, then swooned.

After she had been restored, the promise of Yetive to protect her,
whatever happened, comforted her somewhat.

"It must have been Marlanx," moaned Beverly.

"Who else could it have been?" replied the princess, who was visibly

Summoning all her courage, she went on: "First, we must find out if he
is badly hurt. We'll trust to luck. Cheer up!" She touched a bell. There
came a knock at the door. A guard was told to enter. "Ellos," she
exclaimed, "did you hear a shot fired a short time ago?"

"I thought I did, your highness, but was not sure."

"Baldos, the guard, was escaping by the secret passage," continued the
princess, a wonderful inspiration coming to her rescue. "He passed
through the chapel. Miss Calhoun was there. Alone, and single-handed,
she tried to prevent him. It was her duty. He refused to obey her
command to stop and she followed him into the tunnel and fired at
him. I'm afraid you are too late to capture him, but you may--, Oh,
Beverly, how plucky you were to follow him! Go quickly, Ellos! Search
the tunnel and report at once." As the guard saluted, with wonder,
admiration and unbelief, he saw the two conspirators locked in each
other's arms.

Presently he returned and reported that the guards could find no trace
of anyone in the tunnel, but that they found blood on the floor near the
exit and that the door was wide open.

The two girls looked at each other in amazement. They were dumbfounded,
but a great relief was glowing in their eyes.

"Ellos," inquired the princess, considerably less agitated, "does any
one else know of this?"

"No, your highness, there was no one on guard but Max, Baldos, and

"Well, for the present, no one else must know of his flight. Do you
understand? Not a word to any one. I, myself, will explain when the
proper time comes. You and Max have been very careless, but I suppose
you should not be punished. He has tricked us all. Send Max to me at

"Yes, your highness," said Ellos, and he went away with his head
swimming. Max, the other guard, received like orders and then the two
young women sank limply upon a divan.

"Oh, how clever you are, Yetive," came from the American girl. "But what

"We may expect to hear something disagreeable from Count Marlanx, my
dear," murmured the perplexed, but confident princess, "but I think we
have the game in our own hands, as you would say in America."



"Aunt Fanny, what is that white thing sticking under the window?"
demanded Beverly late the next morning. She was sitting with her face to
the windows while the old negress dressed her hair.

"Looks lak a love letteh. Miss Bev'ly," was the answer, as Aunt Fanny
gingerly placed an envelope in her mistress's hand. Beverly looked at it
in amazement. It was unmistakably a letter, addressed to her, which had
been left at her window some time in the night. Her heart gave a thump
and she went red with anticipated pleasure. With eager fingers she tore
open the envelope. The first glance at the contents brought
disappointment to her face. The missive was from Count Marlanx; but it
was a relief to find that he was very much alive and kicking. As she
read on, there came a look of perplexity which was succeeded by burning
indignation. The man in the cloak was preparing to strike.

"Your secret is mine. I know all that happened in the chapel and
underground passage. You have betrayed Graustark in aiding this man to
escape. The plot was cleverly executed, but you counted without the
jealous eye of love. You can save yourself and your honor, and perhaps
your princess, but the conditions are mine. This time there can be no
trifling. I want you to treat me fairly. God help you if you
refuse. Give me the answer I want and your secret is safe, I will shield
you with my life. At eleven o'clock I shall come to see you. I have in
my possession a document that will influence you. You will do well to
keep a close mouth until you have seen this paper."

This alarming note was all that was needed to restore fire to the
lagging blood of the American girl. Its effect was decidedly contrary to
that which Marlanx must have anticipated. Instead of collapsing, Beverly
sprang to her feet with energy and life in every fiber. Her eyes were
flashing brightly, her body quivering with the sensations of battle.

"That awful old wretch!" she cried, to Aunt Fanny's amazement. "He is
the meanest human being in all the world. But he's making the mistake of
his life, isn't he, Aunt Fanny? Oh, of course you don't know what it is,
so never mind. We've got a surprise for him. I'll see him at eleven
o'clock, and then--" she smiled quite benignly at the thought of what
she was going to say to him. Beverly felt very secure in the shadow of
the princess.

A clatter of horses' hoofs on the parade-ground drew her to the
balcony. What she saw brought joy to her heart. Lorry and Anguish, muddy
and disheveled, were dismounting before the castle.

"Ah, this is joy! Now there are three good Americans here. I'm not
afraid," she said bravely. Aunt Fanny nodded her head in approval,
although she did not know what it was all about. Curiosity more than
alarm made Beverly eager to see the document which old Marlanx held in
reserve for her. She determined to met him at eleven.

A message from the princess announced the unexpected return of the two
Americans. She said they were (to use Harry Anguish's own expression)
"beastly near starvation" and clamored for substantial breakfasts,
Beverly was urged to join them and to hear the latest news from the

Lorry and Anguish were full of the excitement on which they had lived
for many hours. They had found evidence of raids by the Dawsbergen
scouts and had even caught sight of a small band of fleeing horsemen.
Lorry reluctantly admitted that Gabriel's army seemed loyal to him and
that there was small hope of a conflict being averted, as he had
surmised, through the defection of the people. He was surprised but not
dismayed when Yetive told him certain portions of the story in regard to
Marlanx; and, by no means averse to seeing the old man relegated to the
background, heartily endorsed the step taken by his wife. He was fair
enough, however, to promise the general a chance to speak in his own
defense, if he so desired. He had this in view when he requested Marlanx
to come to the castle at eleven o'clock for consultation.

"Gabriel is devoting most of his energy now to hunting that poor Dantan
into his grave," said Anguish. "I believe he'd rather kill his
half-brother than conquer Graustark. Why, the inhuman monster has set
himself to the task of obliterating everything that reminds him of
Dantan. We learned from spies down there that he issued an order for the
death of Dantan's sister, a pretty young thing named Candace, because
he believed she was secretly aiding her fugitive brother. She escaped
from the palace in Serros a week ago, and no one knows what has become
of her. There's a report that she was actually killed, and that the
story of her flight is a mere blind on the part of Gabriel."

"He would do anything," cried Yetive." Poor child; they say she is like
her English mother and is charming."

"That would set Gabriel against her, I fancy," went on Anguish. "And, by
the way, Miss Calhoun, we heard something definite about your
friend, Prince Dantan. It is pretty well settled that he isn't Baldos of
the guard. Dantan was seen two days ago by Captain Dangloss's men. He
was in the Dawsbergen pass and they talked with him and his men. There
was no mistake this time. The poor, half-starved chap confessed to being
the prince and begged for food for himself and his followers,"

"I tried to find him, and, failing in that, left word in the pass that
if he would but cast his lot with us in this trouble we soon would
restore him to his throne," said Lorry. "He may accept and we shall have
him turning up here some day, hungry for revenge. And now, my dear
Beverly, how are you progressing with the excellent Baldos, of whom we
cannot make a prince, no matter how hard we try?"

Beverly and the princess exchanged glances in which consternation was
difficult to conceal. It was clear to Beverly that Yetive had not told
her husband of the escape.

"I don't know anything about Baldos," she answered steadily. "Last night
someone shot at him in the park."

"The deuce you say!"

"In order to protect him until you returned, Gren, I had him transferred
to guard duty inside the castle," explained the princess." It really
seemed necessary. General Marlanx expects to present formal charges
against him this morning, so I suppose we shall have to put him in irons
for a little while. It seems too bad, doesn't it, Gren?"

"Yes. He's as straight as a string, I'll swear," said Lorry

"I'll bet he wishes he were safely out of this place," ventured Anguish,
and two young women busied themselves suddenly with their coffee.

"The chance is he's sorry he ever came into it," said Lorry

While they were waiting for Marlanx the young Duke of Mizrox was
announced. The handsome Axphainian came with relief and dismay
struggling for mastery in his face.

"Your highness," he said, after the greetings, "I am come to inform you
that Graustark has one prince less to account for. Axphain has found her

"When?" cried the princess and Beverly in one voice and with astonishing
eagerness, not unmixed with dismay.

"Three days ago," was the reply.

"Oh," came in deep relief from Beverly as she sank back into her
chair. The same fear had lodged in the hearts of the two fair
conspirators--that they had freed Baldos only to have him fall into the
hands of his deadliest foes.

"I have a message by courier from my uncle in Axphain," said Mizrox. "He
says that Frederic was killed near Labbot by soldiers, after making a
gallant fight, on last Sunday night. The Princess Volga is rejoicing,
and has amply rewarded his slayers. Poor Frederic! He knew but little
happiness, in this life."

There was a full minute of reflection before any of his hearers
expressed the thought that had framed itself in every mind.

"Well, since Dantan and Frederic are accounted for, Baldos is absolutely
obliged to be Christobal," said Anguish resignedly.

"He's just Baldos," observed Beverly, snuffing out the faint hope that
had lingered so long. Then she said to herself: "And I don't care,
either. I only wish he were back here again. I'd be a good deal nicer to

Messengers flew back and forth, carrying orders from the castle to
various quarters. The ministers were called to meet at twelve
o'clock. Underneath all the bustle there was a tremendous impulse of
American cunning, energy and resourcefulness. Everyone caught the
fever. Reserved old diplomats were overwhelmed by their own enthusiasm;
custom-bound soldiers forgot the hereditary caution and fell into the
ways of the new leaders without a murmur. The city was wild with
excitement, for all believed that the war was upon them. There was but
one shadow overhanging the glorious optimism of Graustark--the ugly,
menacing attitude of Axphain. Even the Duke of Mizrox could give no
assurance that his country would remain neutral.

Colonel Quinnox came to the castle in haste and perturbation. It was he
who propounded the question that Yetive and Beverly were expecting:
"Where is Baldos?" Of course, the flight of the suspected guard was soon
a matter of certainty. A single imploring glance from the princess,
meant for the faithful Quinnox alone, told him as plainly as words could
have said that she had given the man his freedom. And Quinnox would have
died a thousand times to protect the secret of his sovereign, for had
not twenty generations of Quinnoxes served the rulers of Graustark with
unflinching loyalty? Baron Dangloss may have suspected the trick, but he
did not so much as blink when the princess instructed him to hunt high
and low for the fugitive.

Marlanx came at eleven. Under the defiant calmness of his bearing there
was lurking a mighty fear. His brain was scourged by thoughts of
impending disgrace. The princess had plainly threatened his
degradation. After all these years, he was to tremble with shame and
humiliation; he was to cringe where he had always boasted of domineering
power. And besides all this, Marlanx had a bullet wound in his left
shoulder! The world could not have known, for he knew how to conceal

He approached the slender, imperious judge in the council-chamber with a
defiant leer on his face. If he went down into the depths he would drag
with him the fairest treasure he had coveted in all his years of lust
and desire.

"A word with you," he said in an aside to Beverly, as she came from the
council-chamber, in which she felt she should not sit. She stopped and
faced him. Instinctively she looked to see if he bore evidence of a
wound. She was positive that her bullet had struck him the night before,
and that Marlanx was the man with the cloak.

"Well?" she said coldly. He read her thoughts and smiled, even as his
shoulder burned with pain.

"I will give you the chance to save yourself. I love you. I want you. I
must have you for my own," he was saying.

"Stop, sir! It may be your experience in life that women kneel to you
when you command. It may be your habit to win what you set about to
win. But you have a novel way of presenting your _devoire_, I must
say. Is this the way in which you won the five unfortunates whom you
want me to succeed? Did you scare them into submission?"

"No, no! I cared nothing for them. You are the only one I ever loved--"

"Really, Count Marlanx, you are most amusing," she interrupted, with a
laugh that stung him to the quick." You have been unique in your
love-making. I am not used to your methods. Besides, after having known
them, I'll confess that I don't like them in the least. You may have
been wonderfully successful in the past, but you were not dealing with
an American girl. I have had enough of your insults. Go! Go in and

"Have a care, girl!" he snarled. "I have it in my power to crush you."

"Pooh!" came scornfully from her lips. "If you molest me further I shall
call Mr. Lorry. Let me pass!"

"Just glance at this paper, my beauty. I fancy you'll change your
tune. It goes before the eyes of the council, unless you--" he paused

Beverly took the document and with dilated eyes read the revolting
charges against her honor. Her cheeks grew white with anger, then
flushed a deep crimson.

"You fiend!" she cried, glaring at him so fiercely that he instinctively
shrank back, the vicious grin dying in his face. "I'll show you how much
I fear you. I shall give this revolting thing to the princess. She may
read it to the cabinet, for all I care. No one will believe you. They'll
kill you for this!"

She turned and flew into the presence of the princess and her
ministers. Speeding to the side of Yetive, she thrust the paper into her
hands. Surprise and expectancy filled the eyes of all assembled.

"Count Marlanx officially charges me with--with--Read it, your
highness," she cried distractedly.

Yetive read it, pale-faced and cold. A determined gleam appeared in her
eyes as she passed the document to her husband.

"Allode," Lorry said to an attendant, after a brief glance at its
revolting contents, "ask Count Marlanx to appear here instantly. He is
outside the door."

Lorry's anger was hard to control. He clenched his hands and there was a
fine suggestion of throttling in the way he did it. Marlanx, entering
the room, saw that he was doomed. He had not expected Beverly to take
this appalling step. The girl, tears in her eyes, rushed to a window,
hiding her face from the wondering ministers. Her courage suddenly
failed her. If the charges were read aloud before these men it seemed to
her that she never could lift her eyes again. A mighty longing for
Washington, her father and the big Calhoun boys, rushed to her heart as
she stood there and awaited the crash. But Lorry was a true nobleman.

"Gentlemen," he said quietly," Count Marlanx has seen fit to charge Miss
Calhoun with complicity in the flight of Baldos. I will not read the
charges to you. They are unworthy of one who has held the highest
position in the army of Graustark. He has--"

"Read this, my husband, before you proceed further," said Yetive,
thrusting into his hand a line she had written with feverish
haste. Lorry smiled gravely before he read aloud the brief edict which
removed General Marlanx from the command of the army of Graustark.

"Is this justice?" protested Marlanx angrily. "Will you not give me a
hearing? I beseech--"

"Silence!" commanded the princess. "What manner of hearing did you
expect to give Miss Calhoun? It is enough, sir. There shall be no
cowards in my army."

"Coward?" he faltered. "Have I not proved my courage on the field of
battle? Am I to be called a--"

"Bravery should not end when the soldier quits the field of battle. You
have had a hearing. Count Marlanx. I heard the truth about you last

"From Miss Calhoun?" sneered he viciously. "I must be content to accept
this dismissal, your highness. There is no hope for me. Some day you may
pray God to forgive you for the wrong you have done your most loyal
servant. There is no appeal from your decision; but as a subject of
Graustark I insist that Miss Calhoun shall be punished for aiding in the
escape of this spy and traitor. He is gone, and it was she who led him
through the castle to the outer world. She cannot deny this,
gentlemen. I defy her to say she did not accompany Baldos through the
secret passage last night."

"It will do no harm to set herself right by denying this accusation,"
suggested Count Halfont solemnly. Every man in the cabinet and army had
hated Marlanx for years. His degradation was not displeasing to
them. They would ask no questions.

But Beverly Calhoun stood staring out of the window, out upon the castle
park and its gay sunshine. She did not answer, for she did not hear the
premier's words. Her brain was whirling madly with other thoughts. She
was trying to believe her eyes.

"The spy is gone," cried Marlanx, seeing a faint chance to redeem
himself at her expense. "She can not face my charge. Where is your
friend, Miss Calhoun?"

Beverly faced them with a strange, subdued calmness in her face. Her
heart was throbbing wildly in the shelter of this splendid disguise.

"I don't know what all this commotion is about," she said. "I only know
that I have been dragged into it shamelessly by that old man over there,
If you step to the window you may see Baldos himself. He has not
fled. He is on duty!"

Baldos was striding steadily across the park in plain view of all.



Both Yetive and Beverly experienced an amazing sense of relief. They did
not stop to consider why or how he had returned to the castle
grounds. It was sufficient that he was actually there, sound, well, and
apparently satisfied.

"I dare say Count Marlanx will withdraw his infamous charge against our
guest," said Lorry, with deadly directness. Marlanx was mopping his damp
forehead. His eyes were fastened upon the figure of the guard, and there
was something like awe in their steely depths. It seemed to him that the
supernatural had been enlisted against him.

"He left the castle last night," he muttered, half to himself.

"There seems to be no doubt of that," agreed Gaspon, the grand
treasurer. "Colonel Quinnox reports his strange disappearance." Clearly
the case was a puzzling one. Men looked at one another in wonder and

"I think I understand the situation," exclaimed Marlanx, suddenly
triumphant. "It bears out all that I have said. Baldos left the castle
last night, as I have sworn, but not for the purpose of escaping. He
went forth to carry Information to our enemies. Can anyone doubt that he
is a spy? Has he not returned to carry out his work? And now, gentlemen,
I ask you--would he return unless he felt secure of protection here?"

It was a facer, Yetive and Beverly felt as though a steel trap suddenly
had been closed down upon them. Lorry and Anguish were undeniably
disconcerted. There was a restless, undecided movement among the

"Colonel Quinnox, will you fetch Baldos to the verandah at once?" asked
Lorry, his quick American perception telling him that immediate action
was necessary. "It is cooler out there." He gave Beverly a look of
inquiry. She flushed painfully, guiltily, and he was troubled in

"As a mere subject, I demand the arrest of this man," Marlanx was saying
excitedly. "We must go to the bottom of this hellish plot to injure

"My dear count," said Anguish, standing over him, "up to this time we
have been unable to discern any reasons for or signs of the treachery
you preach about. I don't believe we have been betrayed at all."

"But I have absolute proof, sir," grated the count.

"I'd advise you to produce it. We must have something to work on, you

"What right have you to give advice, sir? You are not one of us. You are
a meddler--an impertinent alien. Your heart is not with Graustark, as
mine is. How long must we endure the insolence of these Americans?"

The count was fuming with anger. As might have been expected, the
easy-going Yankees laughed unreservedly at his taunt. The princess was
pale with indignation.

"Count Marlanx, you will confine your remarks to the man whom you have
charged with treachery," she said. "You have asked for his arrest, and
you are to be his accuser. At the proper time you will produce the
proof. I warn you now that if you do not sustain these charges, the
displeasure of the crown will fall heavily upon you."

"I only ask your highness to order his arrest," he said, controlling
himself. "He is of the castle guard and can be seized only on your

"Baldos is at the castle steps, your highness," said Colonel Quinnox
from the doorway. The entire party left the council-chamber and passed
out to the great stone porch. It must be confessed that the princess
leaned rather heavily upon Lorry's arm. She and Beverly trembled with
anxiety as they stood face to face with the tall guard who had come back
to them so mysteriously.

Baldos stood at the foot of the stone steps, a guard on each side of
him. One of these was the shamefaced Haddan, Dangloss's watchman, whose
vigil had been a failure. The gaze of the suspected guard purposely
avoided that of Beverly Calhoun. He knew that the slightest
communication between them would be misunderstood and magnified by the

"Baldos," said Lorry, from the top step, "it has come to our ears that
you left the castle surreptitiously last night. Is it true that you were
aided by Miss Calhoun?" Baldos looked thankful for this eminently
leading question. In a flash it gave him the key to the
situation. Secretly he was wondering what emotions possessed the slender
accomplice who had said good-bye to him not so many hours before at the
castle gate. He knew that she was amazed, puzzled by his sudden return;
he wondered if she were glad. His quick wits saw that a crisis had
arrived. The air was full of it. The dread of this very moment was the
thing which had drawn him into the castle grounds at early dawn. He had
watched for his chance to glide in unobserved, and had snatched a few
hours' sleep in the shelter of the shrubbery near the park wall.

"It is not true," he said clearly, in answer to Lorry's question. Both
Beverly and Marlanx started as the sharp falsehood fell from his
lips. "Who made such an accusation?" he demanded.

"Count Marlanx is our informant."

"Then Count Marlanx lies," came coolly from the guard. A snarl of fury
burst from the throat of the deposed general. His eyes were red and his
tongue was half palsied by rage.

"Dog! Dog!" he shouted, running down the steps. "Infamous dog! I swear
by my soul that he--"

"Where is your proof, Count Marlanx?" sternly interrupted Lorry. "You
have made a serious accusation against our honored guest. It cannot be

Marlanx hesitated a moment, and then threw his bomb at the feet of the

"I was in the chapel when she opened the secret panel for him."

Not a word was uttered for a full minute. It was Beverly Calhoun who
spoke first. She was as calm as a spring morning.

"If all this be true, Count Marlanx, may I ask why you, the head of
Graustark's army, did not intercept the spy when you had the chance?"

Marlanx flushed guiltily. The question had caught him unprepared. He
dared not acknowledge his presence there with the hired assassins.

"I--I was not in a position to restrain him," he fumbled.

"You preferred to wait until he was safely gone before making the effort
to protect Graustark from his evil designs. Is that it? What was your
object in going to the chapel? To pray? Besides, what right had you to
enter the castle in the night?" she asked ironically.

"Your highness, may I be heard?" asked Baldos easily. He was smiling up
at Yetive from the bottom of the steps. She nodded her head a trifle
uneasily. "It is quite true that I left the castle by means of your
secret passage last night."

"There!" shrieked Marlanx. "He admits that he--"

"But I wish to add that Count Marlanx is in error when he says that Miss
Calhoun was my accomplice. His eyes were not keen in the darkness of the
sanctuary. Perhaps he is not accustomed to the light one finds in a
chapel at the hour of two. Will your highness kindly look in the
direction of the southern gate? Your august gaze may fall upon the
reclining figure of a boy asleep, there in the shadow of the friendly
cedar. If Count Marlanx had looked closely enough last night he might
have seen that it was a boy who went with me and not--"

"Fool! Don't you suppose I know a woman's skirts?" cried the Iron Count.

"Better than most men, I fancy," calmly responded Baldos. "My young
friend wore the garments of a woman, let me add."

Lorry came down and grasped Baldos by the arm. His eyes were stern and
accusing. Above, Yetive and Beverly had clasped hands and were looking
on dumbly. What did Baldos mean?

"Then, you did go through the passage? And you were accompanied by this
boy, a stranger? How comes this, sir?" demanded Lorry. Every eye was
accusing the guard at this juncture. The men were descending the steps
as if to surround him.

"It is not the first time that I have gone through the passage, sir,"
said Baldos, amused by the looks of consternation. "I'd advise you to
close it. Its secret is known to more than one person. It is known, by
the way, to Prince Gabriel of Dawsbergen. It is known to every member of
the band with which Miss Calhoun found me when she was a princess.
Count Marlanx is quite right when he says that I have gone in and out of
the castle grounds from time to time. He is right when he says that I
have communicated with men inside and outside of these grounds. But he
is wrong when he accuses Miss Calhoun of being responsible for or even
aware of my reprehensible conduct. She knew nothing of all this, as you
may judge by taking a look at her face at this instant."

Beverly's face was a study in emotions. She was looking at him with
dilated eyes. Pain and disappointment were concentrated in their
expressive gray depths; indignation was struggling to master the love
and pity that had lurked in her face all along. It required but a single
glance to convince the most skeptical that she was ignorant of these
astounding movements on the part of her protege. Again every eye was
turned upon the bold, smiling guardsman.

"I have been bitterly deceived in you," said Lorry, genuine pain in his
voice. "We trusted you implicitly. I didn't think it of you,
Baldos. After all, it is honorable of you to expose so thoroughly your
own infamy in order to acquit an innocent person who believed in
you. You did not have to come back to the castle. You might have escaped
punishment by using Miss Calhoun as a shield from her highness's
wrath. But none the less you compel me to give countenance to all that
Count Marlanx has said."

"I insist that it was Miss Calhoun who went through the panel with him,"
said Marlanx eagerly.

"If it was this boy who accompanied you, what was his excuse in
returning to the castle after you had fled?"

"He came back to watch over Miss Calhoun while she slept. It was my
sworn duty to guard her from the man who had accused her. This boy is a
member of the band to which I belong and he watched while I went forth
on a pretty business of my own. It will be useless to ask what that
business was. I will not tell. Nor will the boy. You may kill us, but
our secrets die with us. This much I will say: we have done nothing
disloyal to Graustark. You may believe me or not. It has been necessary
for me to communicate with my friends, and I found the means soon after
my arrival here. All the foxes that live in the hills have not four
legs," he concluded significantly.

"You are a marvel!" exclaimed Lorry, and there was real admiration in
his voice. "I'm sorry you were fool enough to come back and get caught
like this. Don't look surprised, gentlemen, for I believe that in your
hearts you admire him quite as much as I do." The faint smile that went
the rounds was confirmation enough. Nearly every man there had been
trained in English-speaking lands and not a word of the conversation had
been missed.

"I expected to be arrested, Mr. Lorry," said Baldos calmly. "I knew that
the warrant awaited me. I knew that my flight of last night was no
secret. I came back willingly, gladly, your highness, and now I am ready
to face my accuser. There is nothing for me to fear."

"And after you have confessed to all these actions? By George, I like
your nerve," exclaimed Lorry.

"I have been amply vindicated," cried Marlanx. "Put him in irons--and
that boy, too."

"We'll interview the boy," said Lorry, remembering the lad beneath the

"See; he's sleeping so sweetly," said Baldos gently. "Poor lad, he has
not known sleep for many hour. I suppose he'll have to be awakened, poor
little beggar."

Colonel Quinnox and Haddan crossed the grounds to the big cedar. The boy
sprang to his feet at their call and looked wildly about. Two big hands
clasped his arms, and a moment later the slight figure came pathetically
across the intervening space between the stalwart guards.

"Why has he remained here, certain of arrest?" demanded Lorry in

"He was safer with me than anywhere else, Mr. Lorry. You may shoot me a
thousand times, but I implore you to deal gently with my unhappy
friend. He has done no wrong. The clothes you see upon that trembling
figure are torturing the poor heart more than you can know. The burning
flush upon that cheek is the red of modesty. Your highness and
gentlemen, I ask you to have pity on this gentle friend of mine." He
threw his arm about the shoulder of the slight figure as it drooped
against him. "Count Marlanx was right. It was a woman he saw with me in
the chapel last night."

The sensation created by this simple statement was staggering. The
flushed face was unmistakably that of a young girl, a tender, modest
thing that shrank before the eyes of a grim audience. Womanly instinct
impelled Yetive to shield the timid masquerader. Her strange association
with Baldos was not of enough consequence in the eyes of this tender
ruler to check the impulse of gentleness that swept over her. That the
girl was guiltless of any wrong-doing was plain to be seen. Her eyes,
her face, her trembling figure furnished proof conclusive. The dark
looks of the men were softened when the arm of the princess went about
the stranger and drew her close.

"Bah! Some wanton or other!" sneered Marlanx. "But a pretty one, by the
gods. Baldos has always shown his good taste,"

Baldos glared at him like a tiger restrained. "Before God, you will have
those words to unsay," he hissed.

Yetive felt the slight body of the girl quiver and then grow tense.

The eyes of Baldos now were fixed on the white, drawn face of Beverly
Calhoun, who stood quite alone at the top of the steps. She began to
sway dizzily and he saw that she was about to fall. Springing away from
the guards, he dashed up the steps to her side. His arm caught her as
she swayed, and its touch restored strength to her--the strength of
resentment and defiance.

"Don't!" she whispered hoarsely.

"Have courage," he murmured softly. "It will all be well. There is no

"So this is the woman!" she cried bitterly.

"Yes. You alone are dearer to me than she," he uttered hurriedly.

"I can't believe a word you say."

"You will, Beverly. I love you. That is why I came back. I could not
leave you to meet it alone. Was I not right? Let them put me into
irons--let them kill me--"

"Come!" cried Colonel Quinnox, reaching his side at this instant. "The
girl will be cared for. You are a prisoner."

"Wait!" implored Beverly, light suddenly breaking in upon her. "Please
wait, Colonel Quinnox." He hesitated, his broad shoulders between her
and the gaping crowd below. She saw with grateful heart that Yetive and
Lorry were holding the steps as if against a warlike foe. "Is she--is
she your wife?"

"Good heavens, no!" gasped Baldos.

"Your sweetheart?" piteously.

"She is the sister of the man I serve so poorly," he whispered. Quinnox
allowed them to walk a few paces down the flagging, away from the
curious gaze of the persons below.

"Oh, Baldos!" she cried, her heart suddenly melting. "Is she Prince
Dantan's sister?" Her hand clasped his convulsively, as he nodded
assent. "Now I _do_ love you."

"Thank God!" he whispered joyously. "I knew it, but I was afraid you
never would speak the words. I am happy--I am wild with joy."

"But they may shoot you," she shuddered. "You have condemned
yourself. Oh, I cannot talk to you as I want to--out here before all
these people. Don't move, Colonel Quinnox--they can't see through
you. Please stand still."

"They will not shoot me, Beverly, dear. I am not a spy," said Baldos,
looking down into the eyes of the slender boyish figure who stood beside
the princess. "It is better that I should die, however," he went on
bitterly. "Life will not be worth living without you. You would not give
yourself to the lowly, humble hunter, so I--"

"I will marry you, Paul. I love you. Can't anything be done to--"

"It is bound to come out all right in the end," he cried, throwing up
his head to drink in the new joy of living. "They will find that I have
done nothing to injure Graustark. Wait, dearest, until the day gives up
its news. It will not be long in coming. Ah, this promise of yours gives
me new life, new joy. I could shout it from the housetops!"

"But don't!" she cried nervously. "How does she happen to be here with
you? Tell me, Paul. Oh, isn't she a dear?"

"You shall know everything in time. Watch over her, dearest. I have lied
today for you, but it was a lie I loved. Care for her if you love
me. When I am free and in favor again you will--Ah!" he broke off
suddenly with an exclamation. His eyes were bent eagerly on the circle
of trees just beyond the parade-ground. Then his hand clasped hers in
one spasmodic grip of relief. An instant later he was towering, with
head bare, at the top of the steps, his hand pointed dramatically toward
the trees.

Ravone, still in his ragged uniform, haggard but eager, was standing
like a gaunt spectre in the sunlight that flooded the terrace. The
vagabond, with the eyes of all upon him, raised and lowered his arms
thrice, and the face of Baldos became radiant.

"Your highness," he cried to Yetive, waving his hand toward the
stranger, "I have the honor to announce the Prince of Dawsbergen."



This startling announcement threw the company into the greatest
excitement. Baldos ran down the steps and to the side of the astonished

"Prince Dantan!" she cried, unbelieving.

He pushed the boyish figure aside and whispered earnestly into Yetive's
ear. She smiled warmly in response, and her eyes sparkled.

"And this, your highness, is his sister, the Princess Candace," he
announced aloud, bowing low before the girl. At that instant she ceased
to be the timid, cringing boy. Her chin went up in truly regal state as
she calmly, even haughtily, responded to the dazed, half-earnest salutes
of the men. With a rare smile--a knowing one in which mischief was
paramount--she spoke to Baldos, giving him her hand to kiss.

"Ah, dear Baldos, you have achieved your sweetest triumph--the
theatrical climax to all this time of plotting. My brother's sister
loves you for all this. Your highness," and she turned to Yetive with a
captivating smile, "is the luckless sister of Dantan welcome in your
castle? May I rest here in peace? It has been a bitterly long year, this
past week," she sighed. Fatigue shot back into her sweet face, and
Yetive's love went out to her unreservedly. As she drew the slight
figure up the steps she turned and said to her ministers:

"I shall be glad to receive Prince Dantan in the throne-room, without
delay. I am going to put the princess to bed."

"Your highness," said Baldos from below, "may I be the first to announce
to you that there will be no war with Dawsbergen?"

This was too much. Even Marlanx looked at his enemy with something like
collapse in his eyes.

"What do you mean?" cried Lorry, seizing him by the arm.

"I mean that Prince Dantan is here to announce the recapture of Gabriel,
his half-brother. Before the hour is past your own men from the dungeon
in the mountains will come to report the return of the fugitive. This
announcement may explain in a measure the conduct that has earned for me
the accusation which confronts me. The men who have retaken Gabriel are
the members of that little band you have heard so much about. Once I was
its captain, Prince Dantan's chief of staff--the commander of his ragged
army of twelve. Miss Calhoun and fate brought me into Edelweiss, but my
loyalty to the object espoused by our glorious little army has never
wavered. Without me they have succeeded in tricking and trapping
Gabriel. It is more than the great army of Graustark could do. Your
highness will pardon the boast under the circumstances?"

"If this Is true, you have accomplished a miracle," exclaimed Lorry,
profoundly agitated. "But can it be true? I can't believe it. It is too
good. It is too utterly improbable. Is that really Prince Dantan?"

"Assuming that it is Dantan, Grenfall," said Yetive, "I fancy it is not
courteous in us to let him stand over there all alone and ignored. Go to
him, please." With that she passed through the doors, accompanied by
Beverly and the young princess. Lorry and others went to greet the
emaciated visitor in rags and tags. Colonel Quinnox and Baron Dangloss
looked at one another in doubt and uncertainty. What were they to do
with Baldos, the prisoner?

"You are asking yourself what is to be done with me," said Baldos
easily. "The order is for my arrest. Only the princess can annul it. She
has retired on a mission of love and tenderness. I would not have her
disturbed. There is nothing left for you to do but to place me in a
cell. I am quite ready, Colonel Quinnox. You will be wise to put me in a
place where I cannot hoodwink you further. You do not bear me a grudge?"
He laughed so buoyantly, so fearlessly that Quinnox forgave him
everything. Dangloss chuckled, an unheard-of condescension on his
part. "We shall meet again, Count Marlanx. You were not far wrong in
your accusations against me, but you have much to account for in another

"This is all a clever trick," cried the Iron Count. "But you shall find
me ready to accommodate you when the time comes."

At this juncture Lorry and Count Halfont came up with Ravone. Baldos
would have knelt before his ruler had not the worn, sickly young man
restrained him.

"Your hand, Captain Baldos," he said. "Most loyal of friends. You have
won far more than the honor and love I can bestow upon you. They tell me
you are a prisoner, a suspected traitor. It shall be my duty and joy to
explain your motives and your actions. Have no fear. The hour will be
short and the fruit much the sweeter for the bitterness."

"Thunder!" muttered Harry Anguish. "You don't intend to slap him into a
cell, do you, Gren?" Baldos overheard the remark.

"I prefer that course, sir, until it has been clearly established that
all I have said to you is the truth. Count Marlanx must be satisfied,"
said he.

"And, Baldos, is all well with her?" asked the one we have known as

"She is being put to bed," said Baldos, with a laugh so jolly that
Ravone's lean face was wreathed in a sympathetic smile. "I am ready,
gentlemen." He marched gallantly away between the guards, followed by
Dangloss and Colonel Quinnox.

Naturally the Graustark leaders were cautious, even skeptical. They
awaited confirmation of the glorious news with varying emotions. The
shock produced by the appearance of Prince Dantan in the person of the
ascetic Ravone was almost stupefying. Even Beverly, who knew the
vagabond better than all the others, had not dreamed of Ravone as the
fugitive prince. Secretly she had hoped as long as she could that Baldos
would prove, after all, to be no other than Dantan. This hope had
dwindled to nothing, however, and she was quite prepared for the
revelation. She now saw that he was just what he professed to be--a
brave but humble friend of the young sovereign; and she was happy in the
knowledge that she loved him for what he was and not for what he might
have been.

"He is my truest friend," said Ravone, as they led Baldos away." I am
called Ravone, gentlemen, and I am content to be known by that name
until better fortune gives me the right to use another. You can hardly
expect a thing in rags to be called a prince. There is much to be
accomplished, much to be forgiven, before there is a Prince Dantan of
Dawsbergen again."

"You are faint and week," said Lorry, suddenly perceiving his
plight. "The hospitality of the castle is yours. The promise we made a
few days ago holds good. Her highness will be proud to receive you when
you are ready to come to the throne-room. I am Grenfall Lorry. Come,
sir; rest and refresh yourself in our gladdened home. An hour ago we
were making ready to rush into battle; but your astonishing but welcome
news is calculated to change every plan we have made."

"Undoubtedly, sir, it will. Dawsbergen hardly will make a fight to
release Gabriel. He is safe in your dungeons. If they want him now, they
must come to your strongholds. They will not do it, believe me," said
Ravone simply. "Alas, I am faint and sore, as you suspect. May I lie
down for an hour or two? In that time you will have heard from your
wardens and my story will be substantiated. Then I shall be ready to
accept your hospitality as it is proffered. Outside your city gates my
humble followers lie starving. My only prayer is that you will send them
cheer and succor."

No time was lost in sending to the gates for the strollers who had
accomplished the marvel of the day. The news of Gabriel's capture was
kept from the city's inhabitants until verification came from the proper
sources, but those in control of the affairs of state were certain that
Ravone's story was true. All operations came to a standstill. The
movements of the army were checked. Everything lay quiescent under the
shock of this startling climax.

"Hang it," growled Anguish, with a quizzical grin, as Ravone departed
under the guidance of Count Halfont himself, "this knocks me
galley-west. I'd like to have had a hand in it. It must have been
great. How the devil do you think that miserable little gang of tramps
pulled it off?"

"Harry," said Lorry disgustedly, "they taught us a trick or two."

While the young princess was being cared for by Yetive's own maids in
one of the daintiest bedchambers of the castle, Beverly was engaged in
writing a brief but pointed letter to her Aunt Josephine, who was still
in St. Petersburg. She had persistently refused to visit Edelweiss, but
had written many imperative letters commanding her niece to return to
the Russian capital. Beverly now was recalling her scattered wits in the
effort to appease her aunt and her father at the same time. Major
Calhoun emphatically had ordered her to rejoin her aunt and start for
America at once. Yesterday Beverly would have begun packing for the trip
home. Now she was eager to remain in Graustark indefinitely. She was so
thrilled by joy and excitement that she scarcely could hold the pen.

"Father says the United States papers are full of awful war scares from
the Balkans. Are we a part of the Balkans, Yetive?" she asked of Yetive,
with a puzzled frown, emphasizing the pronoun unconsciously. "He says
I'm to come right off home. Says he'll not pay a nickel of ransom if the
brigands catch me, as they did Miss Stone and that woman who had the
baby. He says mother is worried half to death. I'm just going to cable
him that it's all off. Because he says if war breaks out he's going to
send my brother Dan over here to get me. I'm having Aunt Josephine send
him this cablegram from St. Petersburg: 'They never fight in
Balkans. Just scare each other. Skip headlines, father dear. Will be
home soon. Beverly.' How does that sound? It will cost a lot, but he
brought it upon his own head. And we're not in the Balkans, anyway. Aunt
Joe will have a fit. Please call an A. D. T. boy, princess. I want to
send this message to St. Petersburg."

When Candace entered the princess's boudoir half an hour later, she was
far from being the timid youth who first came to the notice of the
Graustark cabinet. She was now attired in one of Beverly's gowns, and it
was most becoming to her. Her short curly brown hair was done up
properly; her pink and white complexion was as clear as cream, now that
the dust of the road was gone; her dark eyes were glowing with the
wonder and interest of nineteen years, and she was, all in all, a most
enticing bit of femininity.

"You are much more of a princess now than when I first saw you," smiled
Yetive, drawing her down upon the cushions of the window-seat beside
her. Candace was shy and diffident, despite her proper habiliments.

"But she was such a pretty boy," protested Dagmar. "You don't know how
attractive you were in those--"

Candace blushed. "Oh, they were awful, but they were comfortable. One
has to wear trousers if one intends to be a vagabond. I wore them for
more than a week."

"You shall tell us all about it," said Yetive, holding the girl's hand
in hers. "It must have been a most interesting week for you."

"Oh, there is not much to tell, your highness," said Candace, suddenly
reticent and shy. "My step-brother--oh, how I hate him--had condemned
me to die because he thought I was helping Dantan. And I _was_
helping him, too,--all that I could. Old Bappo, master of the stables,
who has loved me for a hundred years, he says, helped me to escape from
the palace at night. They were to have seized me the next morning. Bappo
has been master of the stables for more than forty years. Dear old
Bappo! He procured the boy's clothing for me and his two sons
accompanied me to the hills, where I soon found my brother and his
men. We saw your scouts and talked to them a day or two after I became a
member of the band. Bappo's boys are with the band now. But my brother
Dantan shall tell you of that. I was so frightened I could not tell what
was going am. I have lived in the open air for a week, but I love it.
Dantan's friends are all heroes. You will love them. Yesterday old Franz
brought a message into the castle grounds. It told Captain Baldos of the
plan to seize Gabriel, who was in the hills near your city. Didn't you
know of that? Oh, we knew it two days ago. Baldos knew it yesterday. He
met us at four o'clock this morning;--that is part of us. I was sent on
with Franz so that I should not see bloodshed if it came to the
worst. We were near the city gates Baldos came straight to us. Isn't it
funny that you never knew all these things? Then at daybreak Baldos
insisted on bringing me here to await the news from the pass. It was
safer, and besides, he said he had another object in coming back at

Beverly flushed warmly. The three women were crowding about the
narrator, eagerly drinking in her naive story.

"We came in through one of the big gates and not through the underground
passage. That was a fib," said Candace, looking from one to the other
with a perfectly delicious twinkle in her eye. The conspirators gulped
and smiled guiltily. "Baldos says there is a very mean old man here who
is tormenting the fairy princess--not the real princess, you know. He
came back to protect her, which was very brave of him, I am sure. Where
is my brother?" she asked, suddenly anxious.

"He is with friends. Don't be alarmed, dear," said Yetive.

"He is changing clothes, too? He needs clothes worse than I needed
these. Does he say positively that Gabriel has been captured?"

"Yes. Did you not know of it?"

"I was sure it would happen. You know I was not with them in the pass."

Yetive was reflecting, a soft smile in her eyes.

"I was thinking of the time when I wore men's clothes," she
said. "Unlike yours, mine were most uncomfortable. It was when I aided
Mr. Lorry in escaping from the tower. I wore a guard's uniform and rode
miles with him in a dark carriage before he discovered the truth." She
blushed at the remembrance of that trying hour.

"And I wore boy's clothes at a girl's party once--my brother Dan's,"
said Beverly." The hostess's brothers came home unexpectedly and I had
to sit behind a bookcase for an hour. I didn't see much fun in boy's

"You ought to wear them for a week," said Candace, wise in
experience. "They are not so bad when you become accustomed to
them--that is, if they're strong and not so tight that they--"

"You all love Baldos, don't you?" interrupted Yetive. It was with
difficulty that the listeners suppressed their smiles.

"Better than anyone else. He is our idol. Oh, your highness, if what he
says is true that old man must be a fiend. Baldos a spy! Why, he has not
slept day or night for fear that we would not capture Gabriel so that he
might be cleared of the charge without appealing to--to my brother. He
has always been loyal to you," the girl said with eager eloquence.

"I know, dear, and I have known all along. He will be honorably
acquitted. Count Marlanx was overzealous. He has not been wholly wrong,
I must say in justice to him--"

"How can you uphold him, Yetive, after what he has said about me?" cried
Beverly, with blazing eyes.

"Beverly, Beverly, you know I don't mean that. He has been a cowardly
villain so far as you are concerned and he shall be punished, never
fear. I cannot condone that one amazing piece of wickedness on his

"You, then, are the girl Baldos talks so much about?" cried Candace
eagerly. "You are Miss Calhoun, the fairy princess? I am so glad to know
you." The young princess clasped Beverly's hand and looked into her eyes
with admiration and approval. Beverly could have crushed her in her

The sounds of shouting came up to the windows from below. Outside, men
were rushing to and fro and there were signs of mighty demonstrations at
the gates.

"The people have heard of the capture," said Candace, as calmly as
though she were asking one to have a cup of tea.

There was a pounding at the boudoir door. It flew open unceremoniously
and in rushed Lorry, followed by Anguish. In the hallway beyond a group
of noblemen conversed excitedly with the women of the castle.

"The report from the dungeons, Yetive," cried Lorry joyously. "The
warden says that Gabriel is in his cell again! Here's to Prince Dantan!"

Ravone was standing in the door. Candace ran over and leaped into his



Ravone was handsome in his borrowed clothes. He was now the clean,
immaculate gentleman instead of the wretched vagabond of the hills. Even
Beverly was surprised at the change in him. His erstwhile sad and
melancholy face was flushed and bright with happiness. The kiss he
bestowed upon the delighted Candace was tender in the extreme. Then,
putting her aside he strode over and gallantly kissed the hand of
Graustark's princess, beaming an ecstatic smile upon the merry Beverly
an instant later.

"Welcome, Prince Dantan," said Yetive, "A thousand times welcome."

"All Graustark is your throne, most glorious Yetive. That is why I have
asked to be presented here and not in the royal hall below," said

"You will wait here with us, then, to hear the good news from our
warden," said the princess. "Send the courier to me," she
commanded. "Such sweet news should be received in the place which is
dearest to me in all Graustark."

The ministers and the lords and ladies of the castle were assembled in
the room when Baron Dangloss appeared with the courier from the
prison. Count Marlanx was missing. He was on his way to the fortress, a
crushed, furious, impotent old man. In his quarters he was to sit and
wait for the blow that he knew could not be averted. In fear and
despair, hiding his pain and his shame, he was racking his brain for
means to lessen the force of that blow. He could withdraw the charges
against Baldos, but he could not soften the words he had said and
written of Beverly Calhoun. He was not troubling himself with fear
because of the adventures in the chapel and passage. He knew too well
how Yetive could punish when her heart was bitter against an evil-doer.
Graustark honored and protected its women.

The warden of the dungeons from which Gabriel had escaped months before
reported to the princess that the prisoner was again in custody. Briefly
he related that a party of men led by Prince Dantan had appeared early
that day bringing the fugitive prince, uninjured, but crazed by rage and
disappointment. They had tricked him into following them through the
hills, intent upon slaying his brother Dantan. There could be no mistake
as to Gabriel's identity. In conclusion, the warden implored her
highness to send troops up to guard the prison in the mountain-side. He
feared an attack in force by Gabriel's army.

"Your highness," said Lorry, "I have sent instructions to Colonel Braze,
requiring him to take a large force of men into the pass to guard the
prison. Gabriel shall not escape again, though all Dawsbergen comes
after him."

"You have but little to fear from Dawsbergen," said Ravone, who was
seated near the princess. Candace at his side. "Messages have been
brought to me from the leading nobles of Dawsbergen, assuring me that
the populace is secretly eager for the old reign to be resumed. Only the
desperate fear of Gabriel and a few of his bloody but loyal advisers
holds them in check. Believe me, Dawsbergen's efforts to release Gabriel
will be perfunctory and halfhearted in the extreme. He ruled like a
madman. It was his intense, implacable desire to kill his brother that
led to his undoing. Will it be strange, your highness, if Dawsbergen
welcomes the return of Dantan in his stead?"

"The story! The story of his capture! Tell us the story," came eagerly
from those assembled. Ravone leaned back languidly, his face tired and
drawn once more, as if the mere recalling of the hardships past was hard
to bear.

"First, your highness, may I advise you and your cabinet to send another
ultimatum to the people of Dawsbergen?" he asked. "This time say to them
that you hold two Dawsbergen princes in your hand. One cannot and will
not be restored to them. The other will be released on demand. Let the
embassy be directed to meet the Duke of Matz, the premier. He is now
with the army, not far from your frontier. May it please your highness,
I have myself taken the liberty of despatching three trusted followers
with the news of Gabriel's capture. The two Bappos and Carl Vandos are
now speeding to the frontier. Your embassy will find the Duke of Matz in
possession of all the facts."

"The Duke of Matz, I am reliably informed, some day is to be
father-in-law to Dawsbergen," smilingly said Yetive. "I shall not wonder
if he responds most favorably to an ultimatum."

Ravone and Candace exchanged glances of amusement, the latter breaking
into a deplorable little gurgle of laughter.

"I beg to inform you that the duke's daughter has disdained the offer
from the crown," said Ravone. "She has married Lieutenant Alsanol, of
the royal artillery, and is as happy as a butterfly. Captain Baldos
could have told you how the wayward young woman defied her father and
laughed at the beggar prince."

"Captain Baldos is an exceedingly discreet person," Beverly
volunteered. "He has told no tales out of school."

"I am reminded of the fact that you gave your purse into my keeping one
memorable day--the day when we parted from our best of friends at
Ganlook's gates. I thought you were a princess, and you did not know
that I understood English. That was a sore hour for us. Baldos was our
life, the heart of our enterprise. Gabriel hates him as he hates his own
brother. Steadfastly has Baldos refused to join us in the plot to seize
Prince Gabriel. He once took an oath to kill him on sight, and I was so
opposed to this that he had to be left out of the final adventures."

"Please tell us how you succeeded in capturing that--your half-brother,"
cried Beverly, forgetting that it was another's place to make the
request. The audience drew near, eagerly attentive.

"At another time I shall rejoice in telling the story in detail. For the
present let me ask you to be satisfied with the statement that we
tricked him by means of letters into the insane hope that he could
capture and slay his half-brother. Captain Baldos suggested the
plan. Had he been arrested yesterday, I feel that it would have
failed. Gabriel was and is insane. We led him a chase through the
Graustark hills until the time was ripe for the final act. His small
band of followers fled at our sudden attack, and he was taken almost
without a struggle, not ten miles from the city of Edelweiss. In his mad
ravings we learned that his chief desire was to kill his brother and
sister and after that to carry out the plan that has long been in his
mind. He was coming to Edelweiss for the sole purpose of entering the
castle by the underground passage, with murder in his heart. Gabriel was
coming to kill the Princess Yetive and Mr. Lorry. He has never forgotten
the love he bore for the princess, nor the hatred he owes his rival. It
was the duty of Captain Baldos to see that he did not enter the passage
in the event that he eluded us in the hills."

Later in the day the Princess Yetive received from the gaunt, hawkish
old man in the fortress a signed statement, withdrawing his charges
against Baldos the guard. Marlanx did not ask for leniency; it was not
in him to plead. If the humble withdrawal of charges against Baldos
could mitigate the punishment he knew Yetive would impose, all well and
good. If it went for naught, he was prepared for the worst. Down there
in his quarters, with wine before him, he sat and waited for the end. He
knew that there was but one fate for the man, great or small, who
attacked a woman in Graustark. His only hope was that the princess might
make an exception in the case of one who had been the head of the
army--but the hope was too small to cherish.

Baldos walked forth a free man, the plaudits of the people in his
ears. Baron Dangloss and Colonel Quinnox were beside the tall guard as
he came forward to receive the commendations and apologies of
Graustark's ruler and the warm promises of reward from the man he

He knelt before the two rulers who were holding court on the
veranda. The cheers of nobles, the shouts of soldiery, the exclamations
of the ladies did not turn his confident head. He was the born knight.
The look of triumph that he bestowed upon Beverly Calhoun, who lounged
gracefully beside the stone balustrade, brought the red flying to her
cheeks. He took something from his breast and held it gallantly to his
lips, before all the assembled courtiers. Beverly knew that it was a
faded rose!



The next morning a royal messenger came to Count Marlanx. He bore two
sealed letters from the princess. One briefly informed him that General
Braze was his successor as commander-in-chief of the army of Graustark.
He hesitated long before opening the other. It was equally brief and to
the point. The Iron Count's teeth came together with a savage snap as he
read the signature of the princess at the end. There was no
recourse. She had struck for Beverly Calhoun. He looked at his watch. It
was eleven o'clock. The edict gave him twenty-four hours from the noon
of that day. The gray old libertine despatched a messenger for his man
of affairs, a lawyer of high standing in Edelweiss. Together they
consulted until midnight. Shortly after daybreak the morning
following. Count Marlanx was in the train for Vienna, never to set foot
on Graustark's soil again. He was banished and his estates confiscated
by the government.

The ministry in Edelweiss was not slow to reopen negotiations with
Dawsbergen. A proclamation was sent to the prime minister, setting forth
the new order of affairs and suggesting the instant suspension of
hostile preparations and the restoration of Prince Dantan. Accompanying
this proclamation went a dignified message from Dantan, informing his
people that he awaited their commands. He was ready to resume the throne
that had been so desecrated. It would be his joy to restore Dawsbergen
to its once peaceful and prosperous condition. In the meantime the Duke
of Mizrox despatched the news to the Princess Volga of Axphain, who was
forced to abandon--temporarily, at least--her desperate designs upon
Graustark. The capture of Gabriel put an end to her transparent plans.

"But she is bound to break out against us sooner or later and on the
slightest provocation," said Yetive.

"I daresay that a friendly alliance between Graustark and Dawsbergen
will prove sufficient to check any ambitions she may have along that
line," said Ravone significantly. "They are very near to each other now,
your highness. Friends should stand together."

Beverly Calhoun was in suspense. Baldos had been sent off to the
frontier by Prince Dantan, carrying the message which could be trusted
to no other. He accompanied the Graustark ambassadors of peace as
Dantan's special agent. He went in the night time and Beverly did not
see him. The week which followed his departure was the longest she ever
spent. She was troubled in her heart for fear that he might not return,
despite the declaration she had made to him in one hysterical moment. It
was difficult for her to keep up the show of cheerfulness that was
expected of her. Reticence became her strongest characteristic. She
persistently refused to be drawn into a discussion of her relations with
the absent one. Yetive was piqued by her manner at first, but wisely saw
through the mask as time went on. She and Prince Dantan had many quiet
and interesting chats concerning Beverly and the erstwhile guard. The
prince took Lorry and the princess into his confidence. He told them all
there was to tell about his dashing friend and companion.

Beverly and the young Princess Candace became fast and loving
friends. The young girl's worship of her brother was beautiful to
behold. She huddled close to him on every occasion, and her dark eyes
bespoke adoration whenever his name was mentioned in her presence.

"If he doesn't come back pretty soon, I'll pack up and start for home,"
Beverly said to herself resentfully one day. "Then if he wants to see me
he'll have to come all the way to Washington. And I'm not sure that he
can do it, either. He's too disgustingly poor."

"Wha's became o' dat Misteh Baldos, Miss Bev'ly?" asked Aunt Fanny in
the midst of these sorry cogitations. "Has he tuck hit int' his haid to
desert us fo' good? Seems to me he'd oughteh--"

"Now, that will do, Aunt Fanny," reprimanded her mistress sternly. "You
are not supposed to know anything about affairs of state. So don't ask."

At last she no longer could curb her impatience and anxiety. She
deliberately sought information from Prince Dantan. They were strolling
in the park on the seventh day of her inquisition.

"Have you heard from Paul Baldos? "she asked, bravely plunging into deep

"He is expected here tomorrow or the next day, Miss Calhoun. I am almost
as eager to see him as you are," he replied, with a very pointed smile.

"Almost? Well, yes, I'll confess that I am eager to see him. I never
knew I could long for anyone as much as I--Oh, well, there's no use
hiding it from you. I couldn't if I tried. I care very much for him. You
don't think it sounds silly for me to say such a thing, do you? I've
thought a great deal of him ever since the night at the Inn of the Hawk
and Raven. In my imagination I have tried to strip you of your princely
robes to place them upon him. But he is only Baldos, in spite of it
all. He knows that I care for him, and I know that he cares for me.
Perhaps he has told you."

"Yes, he has confessed that he loves you, Miss Calhoun, and he laments
the fact that his love seems hopeless. Paul wonders in his heart if it
would be right in him to ask you to give up all you have of wealth and
pleasure to share a humble lot with him."

"I love him. Isn't that enough? There is no wealth so great as
that. But," and she pursed her mouth in pathetic despair, "don't you
think that you can make a noble or something of him and give him a
station in life worthy of his ambitions? He has done so much for you,
you know."

"I have nothing that I can give to him, he says. Paul Baldos asks only
that he may be my champion until these negotiations are ended. Then he
desires to be free to serve whom he will. All that I can do is to let
him have his way. He is a freelance and he asks no favors, no help."

"Well, I think he's perfectly ridiculous about it, don't you? And yet,
that is the very thing I like in him. I am only wondering how we--I
mean, how he is going to live, that's all."

"If I am correctly informed he still has several months to serve in the
service for which he enlisted. You alone, I believe, have the power to
discharge him before his term expires," said he meaningly.

That night Baldos returned to Edelweiss, ahead of the Graustark
delegation which was coming the next day with representatives from
Dawsbergen. He brought the most glorious news from the frontier. The
Duke of Matz and the leading dignitaries had heard of Gabriel's capture,
both through the Bappo boys and through a few of his henchmen who had
staggered into camp after the disaster. The news threw the Dawsbergen
diplomats into a deplorable state of uncertainty. Even the men high in
authority, while not especially depressed over the fall of their
sovereign, were in doubt as to what would be the next move in their
series of tragedies. Almost to a man they regretted the folly which had
drawn them into the net with Gabriel. Baldos reported that the Duke of
Matz and a dozen of the most distinguished men in Dawsbergen were on
their way to Edelweiss to complete arrangements for peace and to lay
their renunciation of Gabriel before Dantan in a neutral court. The
people of Dawsbergen had been clamoring long for Dantan's restoration,
and Baldos was commissioned to say that his return would be the signal
for great rejoicing. He was closeted until after midnight with Dantan
and his sister. Lorry and Princess Yetive being called in at the end to
hear and approve of the manifesto prepared by the Prince of
Dawsbergen. The next morning the word went forth that a great banquet
was to be given in the castle that night for Prince Dantan and the
approaching noblemen. The prince expected to depart almost immediately
thereafter to resume the throne in Serros.

Baldos was wandering through the park early in the morning. His duties
rested lightly upon his shoulders, but he was restless and
dissatisfied. The longing in his heart urged him to turn his eyes ever
and anon toward the balcony and then to the obstinate-looking castle
doors. The uniform of a Graustark guard still graced his splendid
figure. At last a graceful form was seen coming from the castle toward
the cedars. She walked bravely, but aimlessly. That was plain to be
seen. It was evident that she was and was not looking for
someone. Baldos observed with a thrill of delight that a certain red
feather stood up defiantly from the band of her sailor hat. He liked the
way her dark-blue walking-skirt swished in harmony with her lithe, firm

She was quite near before he advanced from his place among the trees. He
did not expect her to exhibit surprise or confusion and he was not
disappointed. She was as cool as a brisk spring morning. He did not
offer his hand, but, with a fine smile of contentment, bowed low and
with mock servility.

"I report for duty, your highness," he said. She caught the ring of
gladness in his voice.

"Then I command you to shake hands with me," she said brightly. "You
have been away, I believe?" with a delicious inflection.

"Yes, for a century or more, I'm sure." Constraint fell upon them
suddenly. The hour had come for a definite understanding and both were
conquered by its importance. For the first time in his life he knew the
meaning of diffidence. It came over him as he looked helplessly into the
clear, gray, earnest eyes. "I love you for wearing that red feather," he
said simply.

"And I loved you for wearing it," she answered, her voice soft and
thrilling. He caught his breath joyously.

"Beverly," as he bent over her, "you are my very life, my--"

"Don't, Paul!" she whispered, drawing away with an embarrassed glance
about the park. There were people to be seen on all sides. But he had
forgotten them. He thought only of the girl who ruled his heart. Seeing
the pain in his face, she hastily, even blushingly, said: "It is so
public, dear."

He straightened himself with soldierly precision, but his voice trembled
as he tried to speak calmly in defiance to his eyes. "There is the
grotto--see! It is seclusion itself. Will you come with me? I must tell
you all that is in my heart. It will burst if I do not."

Slowly they made their way to the fairy grotto deep in the thicket of
trees. It was Yetive's favorite dreaming place. Dark and cool and
musical with the rippling of waters, it was an ideal retreat. She
dropped upon the rustic bench that stood against the moss-covered wall
of boulders. With the gentle reserve of a man who reveres as well as
loves, Baldos stood above her. He waited and she understood. How unlike
most impatient lovers he was!

"You may sit beside me," she said with a wistful smile of
acknowledgment. As he flung himself into the seat, his hand eagerly
sought hers, his courtly reserve gone to the winds.

"Beverly, dearest one, you never can know how much I love you," he
whispered into her ear. "It is a deathless love, unconquerable,
unalterable. It is in my blood to love forever. Listen to me, dear one:
I come of a race whose love is hot and enduring. My people from time
immemorial have loved as no other people have loved. They have killed
and slaughtered for the sake of the glorious passion. Love is the
religion of my people. You must, you shall believe me when I say that I
will love you better than my soul so long as that soul exists. I loved
you the day I met you. It has been worship since that time."

His passion carried her resistlessly away as the great waves sweep the
deck of a ship at sea. She was out in the ocean of love, far from all
else that was dear to her, far from all harbors save the mysterious one
to which his passion was piloting her through a storm of emotion.

"I have longed so to hold you in my arms, Beverly--even when you were a
princess and I lay in the hospital at Ganlook, my fevered arms hungered
for you. There never has been a moment that my heart has not been
reaching out in search of yours. You have glorified me, dearest, by the
promise you made a week ago. I know that you will not renounce that
precious pledge. It is in your eyes now--the eyes I shall worship to the
end of eternity. Tell me, though, with your own lips, your own voice,
that you will be my wife, mine to hold forever."

For answer she placed her arms about his neck and buried her face
against his shoulder. There were tears in her gray eyes and there was a
sob in her throat. He held her close to his breast for an eternity, it
seemed to both, neither giving voice to the song their hearts were
singing. There was no other world than the fairy grotto.

"Sweetheart, I am asking you to make a great sacrifice," he said at
last, his voice hoarse but tender. She looked up into his face
serenely. "Can you give up the joys, the wealth, the comforts of that
home across the sea to share a lowly cottage with me and my love? Wait,
dear,--do not speak until I am through. You must think of what your
friends will say. The love and life I offer you now will not be like
that which you always have known. It will be poverty and the dregs, not
riches and wine. It will be--"

But she placed her hand upon his lips, shaking her head
emphatically. The picture he was painting was the same one that she had
studied for days and days. Its every shadow was familiar to her, its
every unwholesome corner was as plain as day.

"The rest of the world may think what it likes, Paul," she said. "It
will make no difference to me. I have awakened from my dream. My dream
prince is gone, and I find that it's the real man that I love. What
would you have me do? Give you up because you are poor? Or would you
have me go up the ladder of fame and prosperity with you, a humble but
adoring burden? I know you, dear. You will not always be poor. They may
say what they like. I have thought long and well, because I am not a
fool. It is the American girl who marries the titled foreigner without
love that is a fool. Marrying a poor man is too serious a business to be
handled by fools. I have written to my father, telling him that I am
going to marry you," she announced. He gasped with unbelief.

"You have--already?" he cried.

"Of course. My mind has been made up for more than a week. I told it to
Aunt Fanny last night."

"And she?"

"She almost died, that's all," said she unblushingly. "I was afraid to
cable the news to father. He might stop me if he knew it in time. A
letter was much smarter."

"You dear, dear little sacrifice," he cried tenderly. "I will give all
my life to make you happy."

"I am a soldier's daughter, and I can be a soldier's wife. I have tried
hard to give you up, Paul, but I couldn't. You are love's soldier, dear,
and it is a--a relief to surrender and have it over with."

They fell to discussing plans for the future. It all went smoothly and
airily until he asked her when he should go to Washington to claim her
as his wife. She gave him a startled, puzzled look.

"To Washington?" she murmured, turning very cold and weak. "You--you
won't have to go to Washington, dear; I'll stay here."

"My dear Beverly, I can afford the trip," he laughed. "I am not an
absolute pauper. Besides, it is right and just that your father should
give you to me. It is the custom of our land." She was nervous and

"But--but, Paul, there are many things to think of," she faltered.

"You mean that your father would not consent?"

"Well,--he--he might be unreasonable," she stammered. "And then there
are my brothers, Keith and Dan. They are foolishly interested in me.
Dan thinks no one is good enough for me. So does Keith. And father, too,
for that matter,--and mother. You see, it's not just as if you were a
grand and wealthy nobleman. They may not understand. We are southerners,
you know. Some of them have peculiar ideas about--"

"Don't distress yourself so much, dearest," he said with a
laugh. "Though I see your position clearly--and it is not an enviable

"We can go to Washington just as soon as we are married," she
compromised. "Father has a great deal of influence over there. With his
help behind you you will soon be a power in the United--" but his hearty
laugh checked her eager plotting. "It's nothing to laugh at, Paul," she

"I beg your pardon a thousand times. I was thinking of the
disappointment I must give you now. I cannot live in the United
States--never. My home is here. I am not born for the strife of your
land. They have soldiers enough and better than I. It is in the
turbulent east that we shall live--you and I." Tears came into her

"Am I not to--to go back to Washin'ton?" She tried to smile.

"When Prince Dantan says we may, perhaps."

"Oh, he is my friend," she cried in great relief. "I can get any favor I
ask of him. Oh, Paul, Paul, I know that my folks will think I'm an awful
fool, but I can't help it. I shall let you know that I intend to be a
blissful one, at least."

He kissed her time and again, out there in the dark, soft light of the
fairy grotto.

"Before we can be married, dearest, I have a journey of some importance
to take," he announced, as they arose to leave the bower behind.

"A journey? Where?"

"To Vienna. I have an account to settle with a man who has just taken up
his residence there." His hand went to his sword-hilt and his dark eyes
gleamed with the fire she loved. "Count Marlanx and I have postponed
business to attend to, dearest. Have no fear for me. My sword is honest
and I shall bring it back to you myself."

She shuddered and knew that it would be as he said.



The Duke of Matz and his associates reached Edelweiss in the afternoon.
Their attendants and servants carried luggage bearing the princely crest
of Dawsbergen, and meant for Prince Dantan and his sister Candace. In
the part of the castle set apart for the visitors an important
consultation was held behind closed doors. There Dantan met his
countrymen and permitted them to renew the pledge of fealty that had
been shattered by the overpowering influence of his mad
half-brother. What took place at this secret meeting the outside world
never knew. Only the happy result was made known. Prince Dantan was to
resume his reign over Dawsbergen, as if it never had been interrupted.

The castle, brilliant from bottom to top, filled with music and
laughter, experienced a riot of happiness such as it had not known in
years. The war clouds had lifted, the sunshine of contentment was
breaking through the darkness, and there was rejoicing in the hearts of
all. Bright and glorious were the colors that made up the harmony of
peace. Men and women of high degree came to the historic old walls,
garbed in the riches of royalty and nobility. To Beverly Calhoun it was
the most enchanting sight she had ever looked upon. From the galleries
she gazed down into the halls glittering with the wealth of Graustark
and was conscious of a strange feeling of glorification. She felt that
she had a part in this jubilee. With Candace she descended the grand
staircase and mingled with the resplendent crowd.

She was the center of attraction. Dressed in a simple, close-fitting
gown of black velvet, without an ornament, her white arms and shoulders
gleaming in the soft light from the chandeliers, she was an enticing
creature to be admired by men and women alike. Two stalwart Americans
felt their hearts bound with pride as they saw the conquest their
countrywoman was making. Candace, her constant companion in these days,
was consumed with delight.

"You are the prettiest thing in all this world," she ecstatically
whispered into Beverly's ear. "My brother says so, too," she added
conclusively. Beverly was too true a woman not to revel in this subtle

The great banquet hall was to be thrown open at midnight. There was
dancing and song during the hours leading up to this important
event. Beverly was entranced. She had seen brilliant affairs at home,
but none of them compared to this in regal splendor. It was the
sensuous, overpowering splendor of the east.

Prince Dantan joined the throng just before midnight. He made his way
direct to the little circle of which Beverly and Candace formed the
center. His rich, full military costume gave him a new distinction that
quite overcame Beverly. They fell into an animated conversation,
exchanging shafts of wit that greatly amused those who could understand
the language.

"You must remember," Beverly said in reply to one of Ravone's sallies,
"that Americans are not in the least awed by Europe's greatness. It has
come to the pass when we call Europe our playground. We now go to Europe
as we go to the circus or the county fair at home. It isn't much more
trouble, you know, and we must see the sights."

"Alas, poor Europe!" he laughed. As he strolled about with her and
Candace he pointed out certain men to her, asking her to tax her memory
in the effort to recall their faces if not their apparel. She readily
recognized in the lean, tired faces the men she had met first at the Inn
of the Hawk and Raven.

"They were vagabonds then, Miss Calhoun. Now they are noblemen. Does the
transition startle you?"

"Isn't Baldos among them?" she asked, voicing the query that had been
uppermost in her mind since the moment when she looked down from the
galleries and failed to see him. She was wondering how he would appear
in court costume.

"You forget that Baldos is only a guard," he said kindly.

"He is a courtier, nevertheless," she retorted.

She was vaguely disappointed because he was missing from the scene of
splendor. It proved to her that caste overcame all else In the
rock-ribbed east. The common man, no matter how valiant, had no place in
such affairs as these. Her pride was suffering. She was as a queen among
the noblest of the realm. As the wife of Baldos she would live in
another world--on the outskirts of this one of splendor and arrogance.
A stubborn, defiant little frown appeared on her brow as she pictured
herself in her mind's eye standing afar off with "the man" Baldos,
looking at the opulence she could not reach. Her impetuous, rebellious
little heart was thumping bitterly as she considered this single phase
of the life to come. She was ready to cry out against the injustice of
it all. The little frown was portentous of deep-laid designs. She would
break down this cruel barrier that kept Baldos from the fields over
which prejudice alone held sway. Her love for him and her determination
to be his wife were not in the least dulled by these reflections.

The doors to the great banquet-hall were thrown open at last and in the
disorder that followed she wondered who was to lead her to the
feasting. The Duke of Mizrox claimed the Princess Candace.

"I am to have the honor," said someone at her side, and the voice was
the one she least expected to hear utter the words. The speaker was the
man who deserved the place beside Yetive--Prince Dantan himself.

Bewildered, her heart palpitating with various emotions, she took his
arm and allowed herself to be drawn wonderingly through the massive
doors. As they entered, followed by the brilliant company, the superb
orchestra that Beverly had so often enjoyed, began to play the stirring
"Hands Across the Sea." The musicians themselves seemed to have caught
the universal feeling of joy and mirth that was in the air, and played
as if inspired, their leader bowing low to the young American girl as
she passed. It was his affectionate tribute to her. Prince Dantan, to
her amazement, led her up the entire length of the banquet hall, to the
head of the royal table, gorgeous with the plate of a hundred Graustark
rulers, placing her on his left and next to the slightly raised royal
chairs. Candace was on his right, the picture of happiness. Beverly felt
dizzy, weak. She looked helplessly at Prince Dantan. His smile was
puzzling. As if in a daze, she saw Grenfall Lorry with the Countess
Yvonne standing exactly opposite to her, he with the others, awaiting
the appearance of the princess and the one who was to sit beside her.

The music ceased, there was a hush over the room, and then Yetive came
forward, magnificent in her royal robes, smiling and happy. A tall man
in the uniform of an exalted army officer stood beside her, gold braid
and bejeweled things across his breast. Beverly turned deathly white,
her figure stiffened and then relaxed.

It was Baldos!

She never knew how she dropped into the chair the servant held for
her. She only knew that his dark eyes were smiling at her with love and
mischief in their depths. There was a vague, uncertain sound of
chattering; someone was talking eagerly to her, but she heard him not;
there was a standing toast to the Prince of Dawsbergen; then the
audacious ghost of Baldos was proposing a ringing response to the
Princess Yetive; the orchestra was playing the Graustark and Dawsbergen
national hymns. But it was all as a dream to her. At last she heard
Candace calling to her, her face wreathed in smiles. Scores of eyes
seemed to be looking at her and all of them were full of amusement.

"Now, say that a girl can't keep a secret," came to her ears from the
radiant sister of Dantan. Ravone, at her side, spoke to her, and she
turned to him dizzily.

"You first knew me as Ravone, Miss Calhoun," he was saying
genially. "Then it became necessary, by royal command, for me to be
Prince Dantan. May I have the honor of introducing myself in the proper
person? I am Christobal of Rapp-Thorburg, and I shall be no other than
he hereafter. The friendship that binds me to Prince Dantan, at last in
his proper place beside the Princess of Graustark, is to be strengthened
into a dearer relationship before many days have passed."

"The Princess Candace ceases to be his sister," volunteered the Duke of
Mizrox. "She is and long has been his affianced wife."

Enchanted and confused over all that had occurred in the last few
moments, Beverly murmured her heartfelt congratulations to the joyous
couple. The orchestra had again ceased playing. All eyes turned to
Baldos,--the real Prince Dantan,--who, glass in hand, rose to his feet.

"Your Royal Highness, Ladies and Gentlemen: Graustark and Dawsbergen are
entering a new era. I pledge you my honor that never again shall the
slightest misunderstanding exist between them. They shall go forth to
their glorious destiny as one people. Your gracious ruler has seen fit
to bestow her hand and affections upon an American gentleman, your
esteemed prince consort. We all know how loyally the people have
approved her choice. There is one present, a trusted friend of your
beautiful princess, and lovingly called in your hearts, Beverly of
Graustark. Whose example more worthy for me to follow than that of the
Princess Yetive? With whom could I better share my throne and please you
more than with your beloved American protege. I ask you to drink a toast
to my betrothed, Beverly Calhoun, the future Princess of Dawsbergen."

Every glass was raised and the toast drunk amidst ringing cheers. The
military band crashed out the air so dear to all Americans, especially
to southern hearts. Beverly was too overcome to speak.

"You all--!" she exclaimed.

There was a tremendous commotion in the gallery. People were standing in
their seats half frightened and amused, their attention attracted by the
unusual scene. A portly negress totally unconscious of the sensation she
was causing, her feet keeping time to the lively strains of music, was
frantically waving a red and yellow bandanna handkerchief. It was Aunt
Fanny, and in a voice that could be heard all over the banquet hall, she
shouted: "Good Lawd, honey, ef der ain't playin' 'Away Down South in
Dixie,' Hooray! Hooray!"

* * * * *

Hours later Beverly was running, confused and humbled, through the halls
to her room, when a swifter one than she came up and checked her flight.

"Beverly," cried an eager voice. She slackened her pace and glanced over
her shoulder. The smiling, triumphant face of Baldos met her gaze. The
upper hall was almost clear of people. She was strangely frightened,
distressingly diffident. Her door was not far away, and she would have
reached it in an instant later had he not laid a restraining, compelling
hand upon her arm. Then she turned to face him, her lips parted in
protest. "Don't look at me in that way," he cried imploringly. "Come,
dearest, come with me. We can be alone in the nook at the end of the
hall. Heavens, I am the happiest being in all the world. It has turned
out as I have prayed it should."

She allowed him to lead her to the darkened nook. In her soul she was
wondering why her tongue was so powerless. There were a hundred things
she wanted to say to him, but now that the moment had come she was
voiceless. She only could look helplessly at him. Joy seemed to be
paralyzed within her; it was as if she slept and could not be awakened.
As she sank upon the cushion he dropped to his knee before her, his hand
clasping hers with a fervor that thrilled her with life. As he spoke,
her pulses quickened and the blood began to race furiously.

"I have won your love, Beverly, by the fairest means. There has never
been an hour in which I have not been struggling for this glorious
end. You gave yourself to me when you knew I could be nothing more than
the humblest soldier. It was the sacrifice of love. You will forgive my
presumption--my very insolence, dear one, when I tell you that my soul
is the forfeit I pay. It is yours through all eternity. I love you. I
can give you the riches of the world as well as the wealth of the
heart. The vagabond dies; your poor humble follower gives way to the
supplicating prince. You would have lived in a cot as the guardsman's
wife; you will take the royal palace instead?"

Beverly was herself again. The spell was gone. Her eyes swam with
happiness and love; the suffering her pride had sustained was swept into
a heap labeled romance, and she was rejoicing.

"I hated you to-night, I thought," she cried, taking his face in her
hands. "It looked as though you had played a trick on me. It was mean,
dear. I couldn't help thinking that you had used me as a plaything and
it--it made me furious. But it is different now. I see, oh, so
plainly. And just as I had resigned myself to the thought of spending
the rest of my life in a cottage, away outside the pale of this glorious

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