Part 1 out of 6
by E. Philips Oppenheim
I CROWNED HEADS MEET
II ARTHUR DORWARD'S "SCOOP"
III "OURS IS A STRANGE COURTSHIP"
IV THE NIGHT TRAIN FROM VIENNA
V "VON BEHRLING HAS THE PACKET"
VI VON BEHRLING IS TEMPTED
VII "WE PLAY FOR GREAT STAKES
VIII THE HAND OF MISFORTUNE
IX ROBBING THE DEAD
X BELLAMY IS OUTWITTED
XI VON BEHRLING'S FATE
XII BARON DE STREUSS' PROPOSAL
XIII STEPHEN LAVERICK'S CONSCIENCE
XIV ARTHUR MORRISON'S COLLAPSE
XV LAVERICK'S PARTNER FLEES
XVI THE WAITER AT THE "BLACK POST
XVII THE PRICE OF SILENCE
XVIII THE LONELY CHORUS GIRL
XIX MYSTERIOUS INQUIRIES
XX LAVERICK IS CROSS EXAMINED
XXI MADEMOISELLE IDIALE'S VISIT
XXII ACTIVITY OF AUSTRIAN SPIES
XXIII LAVERICK AT THE OPERA
XXIV A SUPPER PARTY AT LUIGI'S
XXV JIM SHEPHERD'S SCARE
XXVI THE DOCUMENT DISCOVERED
XXVII PENETRATING A MYSTERY
XXVIII LAVERICK'S NARROW ESCAPE
XXIX LASSEN'S TREACHERY DISCOVERED
XXX THE CONTEST FOR THE PAPERS
XXXI MISS LENEVEU'S MESSAGE
XXXII MORRISON Is DESPERATE
XXXIII LAVERICK'S ARREST
XXXIV MORRISON'S DISCLOSURE
XXXV BELLAMY'S SUCCESS
XXXVI LAVERICK ACQUITTED
XXXVII THE PLOT TEAT FAILED
XXXVIII A FAREWELL APPEARANCE
CROWNED HEADS MEET
Bellamy, King's Spy, and Dorward, journalist, known to fame in every
English-speaking country, stood before the double window of their
spacious sitting-room, looking down upon the thoroughfare beneath.
Both men were laboring under a bitter sense of failure. Bellamy's
face was dark with forebodings; Dorward was irritated and nervous.
Failure was a new thing to him - a thing which those behind the
great journals which he represented understood less, even, than he.
Bellamy loved his country, and fear was gnawing at his heart.
Below, the crowds which had been waiting patiently for many hours
broke into a tumult of welcoming voices. Down their thickly-packed
lines the volume of sound arose and grew, a faint murmur at first,
swelling and growing to a thunderous roar. Myriads of hats were
suddenly torn from the heads of the excited multitude, handkerchiefs
waved from every window. It was a wonderful greeting, this.
"The Czar on his way to the railway station," Bellamy remarked.
The broad avenue was suddenly thronged with a mass of soldiery -
guardsmen of the most famous of Austrian regiments, brilliant in
their white uniforms, their flashing helmets. The small brougham
with its great black horses was almost hidden within a ring of
naked steel. Dorward, an American to the backbone and a bitter
democrat, thrust out his under-lip.
"The Anointed of the Lord!" he muttered.
Far away from some other quarter came the same roar of voices,
muffled yet insistent, charged with that faint, exciting timbre
which seems always to live in the cry of the multitude.
"The Emperor," declared Bellamy. "He goes to the West station."
The commotion had passed. The crowds in the street below were on
the move, melting away now with a muffled trampling of feet and a
murmur of voices. The two men turned from their window back into
the room. Dorward commenced to roll a cigarette with yellow-stained,
nervous fingers, while Bellamy threw himself into an easy-chair with
a gesture of depression.
"So it is over, this long-talked-of meeting," he said, half to
himself, half to Dorward. "It is over, and Europe is left to wonder."
"They were together for scarcely more than an hour," Dorward murmured.
"Long enough," Bellamy answered. "That little room in the Palace,
my friend, may yet become famous."
"If you and I could buy its secrets," Dorward remarked, finally
shaping a cigarette and lighting it, "we should be big bidders, I
think. I'd give fifty thousand dollars myself to be able to cable
even a hundred words of their conversation."
"For the truth," Bellamy said, "the whole truth, there could be no
price sufficient. We made our effort in different directions, both
of us. With infinite pains I planted - I may tell you this now that
the thing is over - seven spies in the Palace. They have been of
as much use as rabbits. I don't believe that a single one of them
got any further than the kitchens."
Dorward nodded gloomily.
"I guess they weren't taking any chances up there," he remarked.
"There wasn't a secretary in the room. Carstairs was nearly thrown
out, and he had a permit to enter the Palace. The great staircase
was held with soldiers, and Dick swore that there were Maxims in the
"We shall hear the roar of bigger guns before we are many months
older, Dorward," he declared.
The journalist glanced at his friend keenly. "You believe that?"
Bellamy shrugged his shoulders.
"Do you suppose that this meeting is for nothing?" he asked. "When
Austria, Germany and Russia stand whispering in a corner, can't you
believe it is across the North Sea that they point? Things have
been shaping that way for years, and the time is almost ripe."
"You English are too nervous to live, nowadays," Dorward declared
impatiently. "I'd just like to know what they said about America."
Bellamy smiled with faint but delicate irony.
"Without a doubt, the Prince will tell you," he said. "He can
scarcely do more to show his regard for your country. He is giving
you a special interview - you alone out of about two hundred
journalists. Very likely he will give you an exact account of
everything that transpired. first of all, he will assure you that
this meeting has been brought about in the interests of peace. He
will tell you that the welfare of your dear country is foremost in
the thoughts of his master. He will assure you - "
"Say, you're jealous, my friend," Dorward interrupted calmly. "I
wonder what you'd give me for my ten minutes alone with the
"If he told me the truth," Bellamy asserted, "I'd give my life for
it. For the sort of stuff you're going to hear, I'd give nothing.
Can't you realize that for yourself, Dorward? You know the man -
false as Hell but with the tongue of a serpent. He will grasp your
hand; he will declare himself glad to speak through you to the great
Anglo-Saxon races - to England and to his dear friends the Americans.
He is only too pleased to have the opportunity of expressing himself
candidly and openly. Peace is to be the watchword of the future.
The white doves have hovered over the Palace. The rulers of the
earth have met that the crash of arms may be stilled and that this
terrible unrest which broods over Europe shall finally be broken up.
They have pledged themselves hand in hand to work together for this
object, - Russia, broken and humiliated, but with an immense army
still available, whose only chance of holding her place among the
nations is another and a successful war; Austria, on fire for the
seaboard - Austria, to whom war would give the desire of her
existence; Germany, with Bismarck's last but secret words written in
letters of fire on the walls of her palaces, in the hearts of her
rulers, in the brain of her great Emperor. Colonies! Expansion!
Empire! Whose colonies, I wonder? Whose empire? Will he tell you
that, my friend Dorward?"
The journalist shrugged his shoulders and glanced at the clock.
"I guess he'll tell me what he chooses and I shall print it," he
answered indifferently. "It's all part of the game, of course. I
am not exactly chicken enough to expect the truth. All the same,
my message will come from the lips of the Chancellor immediately
after this wonderful meeting."
"He makes use of you," Bellamy declared, "to throw dust into our
eyes and yours."
"Even so," Dorward admitted, "I don't care so long as I get the
copy. It's good-bye, I suppose?"
"I shall go on to Berlin, perhaps, to-morrow," he said. "I can do
no more good here. And you?"
"After I've sent my cable I'm off to Belgrade for a week, at any
rate," Dorward answered. "I hear the women are forming rifle
clubs all through Servia."
Bellamy smiled thoughtfully.
"I know one who'll want a place among the leaders," he murmured.
"Mademoiselle Idiale, I suppose?"
"It's a queer position hers, if you like," he said. "All Vienna
raves about her. They throng the Opera House every night to hear
her sing, and they pay her the biggest salary which has ever been
known here. Three parts of it she sends to Belgrade to the Chief
of the Committee for National Defence. The jewels that are sent her
anonymously go to the same place, all to buy arms to fight these
people who worship her. I tell you, Dorward," he added, rising to
his feet and walking to the window, "the patriotism of these people
is something we colder races scarcely understand. Perhaps it is
because we have never dwelt under the shadow of a conqueror. If
ever Austria is given a free hand, it will be no mere war upon which
she enters, - it will be a carnage, an extermination!"
Dorward looked once more at the clock and rose slowly to his feet.
"Well," he said, "I mustn't keep His Excellency waiting. Good-bye,
and cheer up, Bellamy! Your old country isn't going to turn up
her heels yet."
Out he went - long, lank, uncouth, with yellow-stained fingers and
hatchet-shaped, gray face - a strange figure but yet a power.
Bellamy remained. For a while he seemed doubtful how to pass the
time. He stood in front of the window, watching the dispersal of
the crowds and the marching by of a regiment of soldiers, whose
movements he followed with critical interest, for he, too, had been
in the service. He had still a military bearing, - tall, and with
complexion inclined to be dusky, a small black moustache, dark eyes,
a silent mouth, - a man of many reserves. Even his intimates knew
little of him. Nevertheless, his was the reticence which befitted
well his profession.
After a time he sat down and wrote some letters. He had just
finished when there came a sharp tap at the door. Before he could
open his lips some one had entered. He heard the soft swirl of
draperies and turned sharply round, then sprang to his feet and
held out both his hands. There was expression in his face now - as
much as he ever suffered to appear there.
"Louise!" he exclaimed. "What good fortune!"
She held his fingers for a moment in a manner which betokened a
more than common intimacy. Then she threw herself into an
easy-chair and raised her thick veil. Bellamy looked at her for a
moment in sorrowful silence. There were violet lines underneath
her beautiful eyes, her cheeks were destitute of any color. There
was an abandonment of grief about her attitude which moved him.
She sat as one broken-spirited, in whom the power of resistance was
"It is over, then," she said softly, "this meeting. The word has
He came and stood by her side.
"As yet," he reminded her, "we do not know what that word may be."
She shook her head mournfully.
"Who can doubt?" she exclaimed. "For myself, I feel it in the air!
I can see it in the faces of the people who throng the city! I can
hear it in the peals of those awful bells! You know nothing? You
have heard nothing?"
Bellamy shook his head.
"I did all that was humanly possible," he said, dropping his voice.
"An Englishman in Vienna to-day has very little opportunity. I
filled the Palace with spies, but they hadn't a dog's chance. There
wasn't even a secretary present. The Czar, the two Emperors and the
Chancellor, - not another soul was in the room."
"If only Von Behrling had been taken!" she exclaimed. "He was there
in reserve, I know, as stenographer. I have but to lift my hand
and it is enough. I would have had the truth from him, whatever it
Bellamy looked at her thoughtfully. It was not for nothing that
the Press of every European nation had called her the most beautiful
woman in the world. He frowned slightly at her last words, for he
"Von Behrling was not even allowed to cross the threshold," he said
She moved her head and looked up at him. She was leaning a little
forward now, her chin resting upon her hands. Something about the
lines of her long, supple body suggested to him the savage animal
crouching for a spring. She was quiet, but her bosom was heaving,
and he could guess at the passion within. With purpose he spoke to
set it loose.
"You sing to-night?" he asked.
"Before God, no!" she answered, the anger blazing out of her eyes,
shaking in her voice. "I sing no more in this accursed city!"
"There will be a revolution," Bellamy remarked. "I see that the
whole city is placarded with notices. It is to be a gala night at
the Opera. The royal party is to be present."
Her body seemed to quiver like a tree shaken by the wind.
"What do I care - I - I - for their gala night! If I were like
Samson, if I could pull down the pillars of their Opera House and
bury them all in its ruins, I would do it!"
He took her hand and smoothed it in his.
"Dear Louise, it is useless, this. You do everything that can be
done for your country."
Her eyes were streaming and her fingers sought his.
"My friend David," she said, "you do not understand. None of you
English yet can understand what it is to crouch in the shadow of
this black fear, to feel a tyrant's hand come creeping out, to know
that your life-blood and the life-blood of all your people must be
shed, and shed in vain. To rob a nation of their liberty, ah! it
is worse, this, than murder, - a worse crime than his who stains
the soul of a poor innocent girl! It is a sin against nature
She was sobbing now, and she clutched his hands passionately.
"Forgive me," she murmured, "I am overwrought. I have borne up
against this thing so long. I can do no more good here. I come
to tell you that I go away till the time comes. I go to your
London. They want me to sing for them there. I shall do it."
"You will break your engagement?"
She laughed at him scornfully.
"I am Idiale," she declared. "I keep no engagement if I do not
choose. I will sing no more to this people whom I hate. My friend
David, I have suffered enough. Their applause I loathe - their
covetous eyes as they watch me move about the stage - oh, I could
strike them all dead! They come to me, these young Austrian
noblemen, as though I were already one of a conquered race. I keep
their diamonds but I destroy their messages. Their jewels go to
my chorus girls or to arm my people. But no one of them has had a
kind word from me save where there has been something to be gained.
Even Von Behrling I have fooled with promises. No Austrian shall
ever touch my lips - I have sworn it!"
"Yes," he assented, "they call you cold here in the capital! Even
in the Palace - "
She held out her hand.
"It is finished!" she declared. "I sing no more. I have sent word
to the Opera House. I came here to be in hiding for a while. They
will search for me everywhere. To-night or to-morrow I leave for
Bellamy stood thoughtfully silent.
"I am not sure that you are wise," he said. "You take it too much
for granted that the end has come."
"And do you not yourself believe it?" she demanded. He hesitated.
"As yet there is no proof," he reminded her.
She sat upright in her chair. Her hands thrust him from her, her
bosom heaved, a spot of color flared in her cheeks.
"Proof!" she cried. "What do you suppose, then, that these wolves
have plotted for? What else do you suppose could be Austria's share
of the feast? Couldn't you hear our fate in the thunder of their
voices when that miserable monarch rode back to his captivity? We
are doomed - betrayed! You remember the Massacre of St. Bartholomew,
a blood-stained page of history for all time. The world would tell
you that we have outlived the age of such barbarous doings. It is
not true. My friend David, it is not true. It is a more terrible
thing, this which is coming. Body and soul we are to perish."
He came over to her side once more and laid his hand soothingly on
hers. It was heart-rending to witness the agony of the woman he
"Dear Louise," he said, "after all, this is profitless. There may
yet be compromises."
She suffered her hand to remain in his, but the bitterness did not
pass out of her face or tone.
"Compromises!" she repeated. "Do you believe, then, that we are
like those ancient races who felt the presence of a conqueror
because their hosts were scattered in battle, and who suffered
themselves passively to be led into captivity? My country can be
conquered in one way, and one way only, - not until her sons, ay,
and her daughters too, have perished, can these people rule. They
will come to an empty and a stricken country - a country red with
blood, desolate, with blackened houses and empty cities. The
horror of it! Think, my friend David, the horror of it!"
Bellamy threw his head back with a sudden gesture of impatience.
"You take too much for granted," he declared. "England, at any
rate, is not yet a conquered race. And there is France - Italy,
too, if she is wise, will never suffer this thing from her ancient
"It is the might of the world which threatens," she murmured.
"Your country may defend herself, but here she is powerless.
Already it has been proved. Last year you declared yourself our
friend - you and even Russia. Of what avail was it? Word came
from Berlin and you were powerless."
Then tragedy broke into the room, tragedy in the shape of a man
demented. For fifteen years Bellamy had known Arthur Dorward, but
this man was surely a stranger! He was hatless, dishevelled, wild.
A dull streak of color had mounted almost to his forehead, his eyes
were on fire.
"Bellamy!" he cried. "Bellamy!"
Words failed him suddenly. He leaned against the table, breathless,
"For God's sake, man," Bellamy began, -
"Alone!" Dorward interrupted. "I must see you alone! I have news!"
Mademoiselle Idiale rose. She touched Bellamy on the shoulder.
"You will come to me, or telephone," she whispered. "So?"
Bellamy opened the door and she passed out, with a farewell pressure
of his fingers. Then he closed it firmly and came back.
ARTHUR DORWARD'S "SCOOP"
"What's wrong, old man?" Bellamy asked quickly.
Dorward from a side table had seized the bottle of whiskey and a
siphon, and was mixing himself a drink with trembling fingers. He
tossed it off before he spoke a word. Then he turned around and
faced his companion. "Bellamy," he ordered, "lock the door."
Bellamy obeyed. He had no doubt now but that Dorward had lost his
head in the Chancellor's presence - had made some absurd attempt to
gain the knowledge which they both craved, and had failed.
"Bellamy," Dorward exclaimed, speaking hoarsely and still a little
out of breath, "I guess I've had the biggest slice of luck that was
ever dealt out to a human being. If only I can get safe out of
this city, I tell you I've got the greatest scoop that living man
"You don't mean that - "
Dorward wiped his forehead and interrupted.
"It's the most amazing thing that ever happened," he declared, "but
I've got it here in my pocket, got it in black and white, in the
Chancellor's own handwriting."
"Why, what you and I, an hour ago, would have given a million for,"
Bellamy's expression was one of blank but wondering incredulity.
"You can't mean this, Dorward!" he exclaimed. "You may have
something - just what the Chancellor wants you to print. You're
not supposing for an instant that you've got the whole truth?"
Dorward's smile was the smile of certainty, his face that of a
"Here in my pocket," he declared, striking his chest, "in the
Chancellor's own handwriting. I tell you I've got the original
verbatim copy of everything that passed and was resolved upon this
afternoon between the Czar of Russia, the Emperor of Austria and
the Emperor of Germany. I've got it word for word as the Chancellor
took it down. I've got their decision. I've got their several
Bellamy for a moment was stricken dumb. He looked toward the door
and back into his friend's face aglow with triumph. Then his power
of speech returned.
"Do you mean to say that you stole it?"
Dorward struck the table with his fist.
"Not I! I tell you that the Chancellor gave it to me, gave it to
me with his own hands, willingly, - pressed it upon me. No, don't
scoff!" he went on quickly. "Listen! This is a genuine thing.
The Chancellor's mad. He was lying in a fit when I left the Palace.
It will be in all the evening papers. You will hear the boys
shouting it in the streets within a few minutes. Don't interrupt
and I'll tell you the whole truth. You can believe me or not, as
you like. It makes no odds. I arrived punctually and was shown up
into the anteroom. Even from there I could hear loud voices in the
inner chamber and I knew that something was up. Presently a little
fellow came out to me - a dark-bearded chap with gold-rimmed glasses.
He was very polite, introduced himself as the Chancellor's physician,
regretted exceedingly that the Chancellor was unwell and could see
no one, - the excitement and hard work of the last few days had
knocked him out. Well, I stood there arguing as pleasantly as I
could about it, and then all of a sudden the door of the inner room
was thrown open. The Chancellor himself stood on the threshold.
There was no doubt about his being ill; his face was as pale as
parchment, his eyes were simply wild, and his hair was all ruffled
as though he had been standing upon his head. He began to talk to
the physician in German. I didn't understand him until he began to
swear, - then it was wonderful! In the end he brushed them all
away and, taking me by the arm, led me right into the inner room.
For a long time he went on jabbering away half to himself, and I
was wondering how on earth to bring the conversation round to the
things I wanted to know about. Then, all of a sudden, he turned to
me and seemed to remember who I was and what I wanted. 'Ah!' he
said, 'you are Dorward, the American journalist. I remember you now.
Lock the door.' I obeyed him pretty quick, for I had noticed they
were mighty uneasy outside, and I was afraid they'd be disturbing
us every moment. 'Come and sit down,' he ordered. I did so at
once. 'You're a sensible fellow,' he declared. 'To-day every one
is worrying me. They think that I am not well. It is foolish. I
am quite well. Who would not be well on such a day as this?' I
told him that I had never seen him looking better in my life, and
he nodded and seemed pleased. 'You have come to hear the truth
about the meeting of my master with the Czar and the Emperor of
Germany?' he asked. 'That's so,' I told him. 'America 's more
than a little interested in these things, and I want to know what
to tell her.' Then he leaned across the table. 'My young friend,'
he said, 'I like you. You are straightforward. You speak plainly
and you do not worry me. It is good. You shall tell your country
what it is that we have planned, what the things are that are
coming. Yours is a great and wise country. When they know the
truth, they will remember that Europe is a long way off and that
the things which happen there are really no concern of theirs.'
'You are right,' I assured him, - 'dead right. Treat us openly,
that's all we ask.' 'Shall I not do that, my young friend?' he
answered. 'Now look, I give you this.' He fumbled through all his
pockets and at last he drew out a long envelope, sealed at both ends
with black sealing wax on which was printed a coat of arms with two
tigers facing each other. He looked toward the door cautiously, and
there was just that gleam in his eyes which madmen always have.
'Here it is,' he whispered, 'written with my own hand. This will
tell you exactly what passed this afternoon. It will tell you our
plans. It will tell you of the share which my master and the other
two are taking. Button it up safely,' he said, 'and, whatever you
do, do not let them know outside that you have got it. Between
you and me,' he went on, leaning across the table, 'something seems
to have happened to them all to-day. There's my old doctor there.
He is worrying all the time, but he himself is not well. I can see
it whenever he comes near me.' I nodded as though I understood and
the Chancellor tapped his forehead and grinned. Then I got up as
casually as I could, for I was terribly afraid that he wouldn't let
me go. We shook hands, and I tell you his fingers were like pieces
of burning coal. Just as I was moving, some one knocked at the
door. Then he began to storm again, kicked his chair over, threw a
paperweight at the window, and talked such nonsense that I couldn't
follow him. I unlocked the door myself and found the doctor there.
I contrived to look as frightened as possible. 'His Highness is not
well enough to talk to me,' I whispered. 'You had better look after
him.' I heard a shout behind and a heavy fall. Then I closed the
door and slipped away as quietly as I could - and here I am."
Bellamy drew a long breath.
"My God, but this is wonderful!" he muttered. "How long is it
since you left the Palace?"
"About ten minutes or a quarter of an hour," Dorward answered.
"They'll find it out at once," declared the other. "They'll miss
the paper. Perhaps he'll tell them himself that he has given it to
you. Don't let us run any risks, Dorward. Tear it open. Let us
know the truth, at any rate. If you have to part with the document,
we can remember its contents. Out with it, man, quick!. They may
be here at any moment."
Dorward drew a few steps back. Then he shook his head.
"I guess not," he said firmly.
Bellamy regarded his friend in blank and uncomprehending amazement.
"What do you mean?" he exclaimed. "You're not going to keep it to
yourself? You know what it means to me - to England?"
"Your old country can look after herself pretty well," Dorward
declared. "Anyhow, she'll have to take her chance. I am not here
as a philanthropist. I am an American journalist, and I'll part to
nobody with the biggest thing that's ever come into any man's bands."
Bellamy, with a tremendous effort, maintained his self-control.
"What are you going to do with it?" he asked quickly. "I tell you
I'm off out of the country to-night," Dorward declared. "I shall
head for England. Pearce is there himself, and I tell you it will
be just the greatest day of my life when I put this packet in his
hand. We'll make New York hum, I can promise you, and Europe too."
Bellamy's manner was perfectly quiet - too quiet to be altogether
natural. His hand was straying towards his pocket.
"Dorward," he said, speaking rapidly, and keeping his back to the
door, "you don't realize what you're up against. This sort of thing
is new to you. You haven't a dog's chance of leaving Vienna alive
with that in your pocket. If you trust yourself in the Orient
Express to-night, you'll never be allowed to cross the frontier.
By this time they know that the packet is missing; they know, too,
that you are the only man who could have it, whether the Chancellor
has told them the truth or not. Open it at once so that we get some
good out of it. Then we'll go round to the Embassy. We can slip
out by the back way, perhaps. Remember I have spent my life in the
service, and I tell you that there's no other place in the city
where your life is worth a snap of the fingers but at your Embassy
or mine. Open the packet, man."
"I think not," Dorward answered firmly. "I am an American citizen.
I have broken no laws and done no one any harm. If there's any
slaughtering about, I guess they'll hesitate before they begin with
Arthur Dorward. . . . Don't be a fool, man!"
He took a quick step backward, - he was looking into the muzzle of
"Dorward," the latter exclaimed, "I can't help it! Yours is only
a personal ambition - I stand for my country. Share the knowledge
of that packet with me or I shall shoot."
"Then shoot and be d--d to you!" Dorward declared fiercely. "This
s my show, not yours. You and your country can go to - "
He broke off without finishing his sentence. There was a thunderous
knocking at the door. The two men looked at one another for a
moment, speechless. Then Bellamy, with a smothered oath, replaced
the revolver in his pocket.
"You've thrown away our chance," he said bitterly.
The knocking was repeated. When Bellamy with a shrug of the
shoulders answered the summons, three men in plain clothes entered.
They saluted Bellamy, but their eyes were traveling around the room.
"We are seeking Herr Dorward, the American journalist!" one exclaimed.
"He was here but a moment ago."
Bellamy pointed to the inner door. He had had too much experience
in such matters to attempt any prevarication. The three men crossed
the room quickly and Bellamy followed in the rear. He heard a cry
of disappointment from the foremost as he opened the door. The inner
room was empty!
"OURS IS A STRANGE COURTSHIP"
Louise looked up eagerly as he entered.
"There is news!" she exclaimed. "I can see it in your face."
"Yes," Bellamy answered, "there is news! That is why I have come.
Where can we talk?"
She rose to her feet. Before them the open French windows led on
to a smooth green lawn. She took his arm.
"Come outside with me," she said. "I am shut up here because I
will not see the doctors whom they send, or any one from the Opera
House. An envoy from the Palace has been and I have sent him away."
"You mean to keep your word, then?"
"Have I ever broken it? Never again will I sing in this City. It
Bellamy looked around. The garden of the villa was enclosed by
high gray stone walls. They were secure here, at least, from
eavesdroppers. She rested her fingers lightly upon his arm, holding
up the skirts of her loose gown with her other hand.
"I have spoken to you," he said, "of Dorward, the American journalist."
"Of course," she assented. "You told me that the Chancellor had
promised him an interview for to-day."
"Well, he went to the Palace and the Chancellor saw him.".
She looked at him with upraised eyebrows.
"The newspapers are full of lies as usual, then, I suppose. The
latest telegrams say that the Chancellor is dangerously ill."
"It is quite true," Bellamy declared. "What I am going to tell you
is surprising, but I had it from Dorward himself. When he reached
the Palace, the Chancellor was practically insane. His doctors were
trying to persuade him to go to his room and lie down, but he heard
Dorward's voice and insisted upon seeing him. The man was mad - on
the verge of a collapse - and he handed over to Dorward his notes,
and a verbatim report of all that passed at the Palace this morning."
She looked at him incredulously.
"My dear David!" she exclaimed.
"It is amazing," he admitted, "but it is the truth. I know it for
a fact. The man was absolutely beside himself, he had no idea what
he was doing."
"Where is it?" she asked quickly. "You have seen it?"
"Dorward would not give it up," he said bitterly. "While we argued
in our sitting-room at the hotel the police arrived. Dorward escaped
through the bedroom and down the service stairs. He spoke of trying
to catch the Orient Express to-night, but I doubt if they will ever
let him leave the city."
"It is wonderful, this," she murmured softly. "What are you going
"Louise, you and I have few secrets from each other. I would have
killed Dorward to obtain that sealed envelope, because I believe
that the knowledge of its contents in London to-day would save us
from disaster. To know how far each is pledged, and from which
direction the first blow is to come, would be our salvation."
"I cannot understand," she said, "why he should have refused to
share his knowledge with you. He is an American - it is almost the
same thing as being an Englishman. And you are friends, - I am
sure that you have helped him often."
"It was a matter of vanity - simply cursed vanity," Bellamy answered.
"It would have been the greatest journalistic success of modern
times for him to have printed that document, word for word, in his
paper. He fights for his own hand alone."
"And you?" she whispered.
"He will have to reckon with me," Bellamy declared. "I know that he
is going to try and leave Vienna to-night, and if he does I shall be
at his heels."
She nodded her head thoughtfully.
"I, too," she announced. "I come with you, my friend. I do no
more good here, and they worry my life out all the time. I come to
sing in London at Covent Garden. I have agreements there which only
await my signature. We will go together; is it not so?"
"Very well," he answered, "only remember that my movements must
depend very largely upon Dorward's. The train leaves at eight
o'clock, station time. I have already a coupe reserved."
"I come with you," she murmured. "I am very weary of this city."
They walked on for a few paces in silence. Bellamy looked around
the gardens, brilliant with flowering shrubs and rose trees, with
here and there some delicate piece of statuary half-hidden amongst
the wealth of foliage. The villa had once belonged to a royal
favorite, and the grounds had been its chief glory. They reached
a sheltered seat and sat down. A few yards away a tiny waterfall
came tumbling over the rocks into a deep pool. They were hidden
from the windows of the villa by the boughs of a drooping chestnut
tree. Bellamy stooped and kissed her upon the lips.
"Ours is a strange courtship, Louise," he whispered softly.
She took his hand in hers and smoothed it. She had returned his
kiss, but she drew a little further away from him.
"Ah! my dear friend," looking at him with sorrow in her eyes,
"courtship is scarcely the word, is it? For you and me there is
nothing to hope for, nothing beyond."
He leaned towards her.
"Never believe that," he begged. "These days are dark enough,
Heaven knows, yet the work of every one has its goal. Even our
turn may come."
Something flickered for a moment in her face, something which seemed
to make a different woman of her. Bellamy saw it, and hardened
though he was he felt the slow stirring of his own pulses. He
kissed her hand passionately and she shivered.
"We must not talk of these things," she said. "We must not think
of them. At least our friendship has been wonderful. Now I must
go in. I must tell my maid and arrange to steal away to-night."
They stood up, and he held her in his arms for a moment. Though her
lips met his freely enough, he was very conscious of the reserve
with which she yielded herself to him, conscious of it and thankful,
too. They walked up the path together, and as they went she plucked
a red rose and thrust it through his buttonhole.
"If we had no dreams," she said softly, "life would not be possible.
Perhaps some day even we may pluck roses together."
He raised her fingers to his lips. It was not often that they
lapsed into sentiment. When she spoke again it was finished.
"You had better leave," she told him, "by the garden gate. There
are the usual crowd in my anteroom, and it is well that you and I
are not seen too much together."
"Till this evening," he whispered, as he turned away. "I shall be at
the station early. If Dorward is taken, I shall still leave Vienna.
If he goes, it may be an eventful journey."
THE NIGHT TRAIN FROM VIENNA
Dorwood, whistling softly to himself, sat in a corner of his coupe
rolling innumerable cigarettes. He was a man of unbounded courage
and wonderful resource, but with a slightly exaggerated idea as
to the sanctity of an American citizen. He had served his
apprenticeship in his own country, and his name had become a
household word owing to his brilliant success as war correspondent
in the Russo-Japanese War. His experience of European countries,
however, was limited. After the more obvious dangers with which
he had grappled and which he had overcome during his adventurous
career, he was disposed to be a little contemptuous of the subtler
perils at which his friend Bellamy had plainly hinted. He had made
his escape from the hotel without any very serious difficulty, and
since that time, although he had taken no particular precautions,
he had remained unmolested. From his own point of view, therefore,
it was perhaps only reasonable that he should no longer have any
misgiving as to his personal safety. ARREST as a thief was the
worst which he had feared. Even that he seemed now to have evaded.
The coupe was exceedingly comfortable and, after all, he had had a
somewhat exciting day. He lit a cigarette and stretched himself
out with a murmur of immense satisfaction. He was close upon the
great triumph of his life. He was perfectly content to lie there
and look out upon the flying landscape, upon which the shadows were
now fast descending. He was safe, absolutely safe, he assured
himself. Nevertheless, when the door of his coupe was opened, he
started almost like a guilty man. The relief in his face as he
recognized his visitor was obvious. It was Bellamy who entered
and dropped into a seat by his side.
"Wasting your time, aren't you?" the latter remarked, pointing to
the growing heap of cigarettes.
"Well, I guess not," Dorward answered. "I can smoke this lot before
we reach London."
Bellamy smiled enigmatically.
"I don't think that you will," he said.
"You are such a sanguine person," Bellamy sighed. "Personally, I
do not think that there is the slightest chance of your reaching
London at all."
Dorward laughed scornfully.
"And why not?" he asked.
Bellamy merely shrugged his shoulders. Dorward seemed to find the
"You've got espionage on the brain, my dear friend," he declared
dryly. "I suppose it's the result of your profession. I may not
know so much about Europe as you do, but I am inclined to think
that an American citizen traveling with his passport on a train
like this is moderately safe, especially when he's not above a
scrap by way of taking care of himself."
"You're a plucky fellow," remarked Bellamy.
"I don't see any pluck about it. In Vienna, I must admit, I
shouldn't have been surprised if they'd tried to fake up some sort
of charge against me, but anyhow they didn't. Guess they'd find
it a pretty tall order trying to interfere with an American citizen."
Bellamy looked at his friend curiously.
"I suppose you're not bluffing, by any chance, Dorward?" he said.
"You really believe what you say?"
"Why in thunder shouldn't I?" Dorward asked.
"My dear Dorward," he said, "it is amazing to me that a man of your
experience should talk and behave like a baby. You've taken some
notice of your fellow-passengers, I suppose?"
"I've seen a few of them," Dorward answered carelessly. "What about
"Nothing much," Bellamy declared, "except that there are, to my
certain knowledge, three high officials of the Secret Police of
Austria in the next coupe but one, and at least four or five of
their subordinates somewhere on board the train."
Dorward withdrew his cigarette from his mouth and looked at his
"I guess you're trying to scare me, Bellamy," he remarked.
But Bellamy was suddenly grave. There had come into his face an
utterly altered expression. His tone, when he spoke, was almost
"Dorward," he said, "upon my honor, I assure you that what I have
told you is the truth. I cannot seem to make you realize the
seriousness of your position. When you left the Palace with that
paper in your pocket, you were, to all intents and purposes, a
doomed man. Your passport and your American citizenship count for
absolutely nothing. I have come in to warn you that if you have
any last messages to leave, you had better give them to me now."
"This is a pretty good bluff you're putting up!" Dorward exclaimed
contemptuously. "The long and short of it is, I suppose, that you
want me to break the seal of this document and let you read it."
Bellamy shook his head.
"It is too late for that, Dorward," he said. "If the seal were
broken, they'd very soon guess where I came in, and it wouldn't help
the work I have in hand for me to be picked up with a bullet in my
forehead on the railway track."
Dorward frowned uneasily.
"What are you here for, anyway, then?" he asked.
"Well, frankly, not to argue with you," Bellamy answered. "As a
matter of fact, you are of no use to me any longer. I am sorry,
old man. You can't say that I didn't give you good advice. I am
bound to play for my own hand, though, in this matter, and if I
get any benefit at all out of my journey, it will be after some
regrettable accident has happened to you."
"Say, ring the bell for drinks and chuck this!" Dorward exclaimed.
"I've had about enough of it. I am not denying anything you say,
but if these fellows really are on board, they'll think twice
before they meddle with me."
"On the contrary," Bellamy assured him, "they will not take the
trouble to think at all. Their minds are perfectly made up as to
what they are going to do. However, that's finished. I have
nothing more to say.
Dorward gazed for a minute or two fixedly out of the window.
"Look here, Bellamy," he said, turning abruptly round, "supposing
I change my mind, supposing I open this precious document and let
you read it over with me?"
Bellamy rose hastily to his feet.
"You must not think of it!" he exclaimed. "You would simply
write my death-warrant. Don't allude to that matter again. I
have risked enough in coming in here to sit with you."
"Then, for Heaven's sake, don't stop any longer!" Dorward said
irritably. "You get on my nerves with all this foolish talk. In
an hour's time I am going to bolt my door and go to sleep. We'll
breakfast together in the morning, if you like."
Bellamy said nothing. The steward had brought them the whiskies
and sodas which Dorward had ordered. Bellamy raised his tumbler
to his lips and set it down again.
"Forgive me," he said, "I do not think that I am thirsty."
Dorward drank his off at a gulp. Almost immediately he closed his
eyes. Bellamy, with a little shrug of the shoulders, left him
alone. As he passed along to his own coupe, he met Louise in the
"You have seen Von Behrling?" he whispered. She nodded.
"He is in that coupe, number 7, alone," she said. "I invited him
to come in with me but he seemed embarrassed. It is his companions
who watch him all the time. He has promised to talk with me later."
In the middle of the night, Louise opened her eyes to find Bellamy
bending over her.
"Louise," he whispered, "it is Von Behrling who will take possession
of the packet. They have been discussing whether it will not be
safer to go on to London instead of doubling back. See Von Behrling
again. Do all you can to persuade him to come to London, - all you
can, Louise, remember."
"So!" she whispered. "I shall put on my dressing-gown and sit in
the corridor. It is hot here."
Bellamy glided out, closing the door softly behind him. The train
was rushing on now through the blackness of an unusually dark night.
For some time he sat in his own compartment, listening. The voices
whose muttered conversation he had overheard were silent now, but
once he fancied that he heard shuffling footsteps and a little cry.
In his heart he knew well that before morning Dorward would have
disappeared. The man within him was hard to subdue. He longed to
make his way to Dorward's side, to interfere in this terribly
unequal struggle, yet he made no movement. Dorward was a man and a
friend, but what was a life more or less? It was to a greater cause
that he was pledged. Towards three o'clock he lay down on his bed
and slept. . . .
The train attendant brought him his coffee soon after daylight. The
man's hands were trembling.
"Where are we?" Bellamy asked sleepily.
"Near Munich, Monsieur," the man answered. "Monsieur noticed,
perhaps, that we stopped for some time in the night?"
Bellamy shook his head.
"I sleep soundly," he said. "I heard nothing."
"There has been an accident," the man declared. "An American
gentleman who got in at Vienna was drinking whiskey all night and
became very drunk. In a tunnel he threw himself out upon the line."
Bellamy shuddered a little. He had been prepared, but none the
less it was an awful thing, this.
"You are sure that he is dead?" he asked.
The man was very sure indeed.
"There is a doctor from Vienna upon the train, sir," he said. "He
examined him at once, but death must have been instantaneous."
Bellamy drew a long breath and commenced to put on his clothes.
The next move was for him.
"VON BEHRLING HAS THE PACKET"
Bellamy stole along the half-lit corridors of the train until he
came to the coup6 which had been reserved for Mademoiselle Idiale.
Assured that he was not watched, he softly turned the handle of
the door and entered. Louise was sitting up in her dressing-gown,
drinking her coffee. He held up his finger and she greeted him
only with a nod.
"Forgive me, Louise," he whispered, "I dared not knock, and I was
obliged to see you at once."
"It is of no consequence," she said. "One is always prepared here.
The porter, the ticket-man, and at the customs - they all enter.
Is anything wrong?"
"It has happened," he answered.
She shivered a little and her face became grave.
"Poor fellow!" she murmured.
"He simply sat still and asked for it," Bellamy declared, still
speaking in a cautious undertone. "He would not be warned. I could
have saved him, if any one could, but he would not hear reason."
"He was what you call pig-headed," she remarked.
"He has paid the penalty," Bellamy continued. "Now listen to me,
Louise. I got into that small coupe next to Von Behrling's, and I
feel sure, from what I overheard, that they will go on to London,
all three of them."
"Who is there on the train?" she demanded.
"Baron Streuss, who is head of the Secret Police, Von Behrling and
Adolf Kahn," Bellamy answered. "Then there are four or five Secret
Service men of the rank and file, but they are all traveling
separately. Von Behrling has the packet. The others form a sort
of cordon around him."
"But why," she asked, "does he go on to London? Why not return to
"For one thing, " Bellamy replied, with a grim smile, "they are
afraid of me. Then you must remember that this affair of Dorward
will be talked about. They do not want to seem in any way
implicated. To return from any one of these stations down the line
would create suspicion."
"I am going to leave the train at the next stop," he continued. "I
find that I shall just catch the Northern Express to Berlin. From
there I shall come on to London as quickly as I can. You know the
address of my rooms?"
"15, Fitzroy Street."
"When I get there, let me have a line waiting to tell me where I
can see you. While I am on the train you will find Von Behrling
almost inaccessible. Directly I have gone it will be different.
Play with him carefully. He should not be difficult. To tell you
the truth, I am rather surprised that he has been trusted upon a
mission like this. He was in disgrace with the Chancellor a short
while ago, and I know that he was hurt at not being allowed to
attend the conference. The others will watch him closely, but
they cannot overhear everything that passes between you two. Von
Behrling is a poor man. You will know how to make him wish he were
Very slowly her eyebrows rose up. She looked at him doubtfully.
"It is a slender chance, David," she remarked. "Von Behrling is a
little wild, I know, and he pretends to be very much in love with
me, but I do not think that he would sell his country. Then, too,
see how he will be watched. I do not suppose that they will leave
us alone for a moment."
Bellamy took her hands in his, gripping them with almost unnatural
"Louise," he declared earnestly, "you don't quite realize Von
Behrling's special weakness and your extraordinary strength. You
know that you are beautiful, I suppose, but you do not quite know
what that means. I have heard men talk about you till one would
think that they were children. You have something of that art or
guile - call it what you will - which passes from you through a
man's blood to his brain, and carries him indeed to Heaven - but
carries him there mad. Louise, don't be angry with me for what I
say. Remember that I know my sex. I know you, too, and I trust
you, but you can turn Von Behrling from a sane, honorable man into
what you will, without suffering even his lips to touch your
fingers. Von Behrling has that packet in his possession. When I
come to see you in London, I will bring you twenty thousand pounds
in Bank of England notes. With that Von Behrling might fancy
himself on his way to America - with you."
She closed her eyes for a moment. Perhaps she wished to keep hidden
from him the thoughts which chased one another through her brain.
He wished to make use of her - of her, the woman whom he loved.
Then she remembered that it was for her country and his, and the
"But I am afraid," she said softly, "that the moment they reach
London this document will be taken to the Austrian Embassy."
"Before then," Bellamy declared, "Von Behrling must not know whether
he is in heaven or upon earth. It will not be opened in London.
He can make up another packet to resemble precisely the one of which
he robbed Dorward. Oh! it is a difficult game, I know, but it is
worth playing. Remember, Louise, that we are not petty conspirators.
It is your country's very existence that is threatened. It is for
her sake as well as for England."
"I shall do my best," she murmured, looking into his face. "Oh,
you may be sure that I shall do my best!"
Bellamy raised her fingers to his lips and stole away. The electric
lamps had been turned out, but the morning was cloudy and the light
dim. Back in his own berth, he put his things together, ready to
leave at Munich. Then he rang for the porter.
"I am getting out at the next stop," he announced.
"Very good, Monsieur," the man answered.
Bellamy looked at him closely.
"You are a Frenchman?"
"It is so, Monsieur!"
"I may be wrong," Bellamy continued slowly, "but I believe that if
I asked you a question and it concerned some Germans and Austrians
you would tell me the truth."
The man's gesture was inimitable. Englishmen to him were obviously
the salt of the earth. Germans and Austrians - why, they existed
as the cattle in the fields - nothing more. Bellamy gave him a
"There were three Austrians who got in at Vienna," he said. "They
are in numbers ten and eleven."
"But yes, Monsieur!" the man assented. "As yet I think they are
fast asleep. Not one of them has rung for his coffee."
"Where are they booked for?"
"For London, Monsieur."
"You do not happen," Bellamy continued, "to have heard them say
anything about leaving the train before then?"
"On the contrary, sir," the porter answered, "two of the gentlemen
have been inquiring about the boat across to Dover. They were very
anxious to travel by a turbine."
"Thank you very much. You will be so discreet as to forget that I
have asked you any questions concerning them. As for me, if one
would know, I am on my way to Berlin."
The bell rang. The man looked outside and put his head once more
in Bellamy's coupe.
"It is one of the gentleman who has rung," he declared. "If
anything is said about leaving the train, I shall report it at once
"You will do well," Bellamy answered.
The porter returned in a few moments.
"Two of the gentlemen, sir," he announced, "are undressed and in
their pyjamas. They have ordered their breakfast to be served after
we leave Munich."
"Further, sir," the man continued, coming a little closer, "one of
them asked me whether the English gentleman - meaning you - was
going through to London or not. I told them that you were getting
out at the next station and that I thought you were going to Berlin."
"Quite right," Bellamy said. "If they ask any more questions, let
Mademoiselle Idiale, with the aid of one of the two maids who were
traveling with her, was able to make a sufficiently effective
toilette. At a few minutes before the time for luncheon, she walked
down the corridor and recognized Von Behrling, who was sitting with
his companions in one of the compartments.
"Ah, it is indeed you, then!" she exclaimed, smiling at him.
He rose to his feet and came out. Tall, with a fair moustache and
blue eyes, he was often taken for an Englishman and was inclined to
be proud of the fact.
"You have rested well, I trust, Mademoiselle?" he asked, bowing low
over her fingers.
"Excellently," replied Louise. "Will you not take me in to luncheon?
The car is full of men and I am not comfortable alone. It is not
pleasant, either, to eat with one's maids."
"I am honored," he declared. "Will you permit me for one moment?"
He turned and spoke to his companions. Louise saw at once that they
were protesting vigorously. She saw, too, that Von Behrling only
became more obstinate and that he was very nearly angry. She moved
a few steps on down the corridor, and stood looking out of the
window. He joined her almost immediately.
"Come," he said, "they will be serving luncheon in five minutes.
We will go and take a good place."
"Your friends, I am afraid," she remarked, "did not like your
leaving them. They are not very gallant."
"To me it is indifferent," he answered, fiercely twirling his
moustache. "Streuss there is an old fool. He has always some
fancy in his brain."
Louise raised her eyebrows slightly.
"You are your own master, I suppose," she said. "The Baron is
used to command his policemen, and sometimes he forgets. There are
many people who find him too autocratic."
"He means well," Von Behrling asserted. "It is his manner only
which is against him."
They found a comfortable table, and she sat smiling at him across
the white cloth.
"If this is not Sachers," she said, "it is at least more pleasant
than lunching alone."
"I can assure you, Mademoiselle," he declared, with a vigorous
twirl of his moustache, "that I find it so."
"Always gallant," she murmured. "Tell me, is it true of you - the
news which I heard just before I left Vienna? Have you really
resigned your post with the Chancellor?"
"You heard that?" he asked slowly.
She hesitated for a moment.
"I heard something of the sort," she admitted. "To be quite candid
with you, I think it was reported that the Chancellor was making a
change on his own account."
"So that is what they say, is it? What do they know about it - these
"You were not allowed at the conference yesterday," she remarked.
"No one was allowed there, so that goes for nothing."
"Ah! well," she said, looking meditatively out upon the landscape,
"a year ago the thought of that conference would have driven me
wild. I should not have been content until I had learned somehow
or other what had transpired. Lately, I am afraid, my interest in
my country seems to have grown a trifle cold. Perhaps because I
have lived in Vienna I have learned to look at things from your
point of view. Then, too, the world is a selfish place, and our own
little careers are, after all, the most important part of it."
Von Behrling eyed her Curiously.
"It seems strange to hear you talk like this," he remarked.
She looked out of the window for a moment.
"Oh! I still love my country, in a way," she answered, "and I still
hate all Austrians, in a way, but it is not as it used to be with
me, I must admit. If we had two lives, I would give one to my
country and keep one for myself. Since we have only one, I am
afraid, after all, that I am human, and I want to taste some of its
"Some of its pleasures," Von Behrling repeated, a little gloomily.
"Ah, that is easy enough for you, Mademoiselle!"
"Not so easy as it may appear," she answered. "One needs many
things to get the best out of life. One needs wealth and one needs
love, and one needs them while one is young, while one can enjoy."
"It is true," Von Behrling admitted, - "quite true."
"If one is not careful," she continued, "one lets the years slip by.
They can never come again. If one does not live while one is young,
there is no other chance."
Von Behrling assented with renewed gloom. He was twenty-five years
old, and his income barely paid for his uniforms. Of late, this
fact had materially interfered with his enjoyments.
"It is strange," he said, "that you should talk like this. You have
the world at your feet, Mademoiselle. You have only to throw the
Her lips parted in a dazzling smile. The bluest eyes in the world
grew softer as they looked into his. Von Behrling felt his cheeks
"My friend, it is not so easy," she murmured. "Tell me," she
continued, "why it is that you have so little self-confidence. Is
it because you are poor?"
"I am a beggar," - bitterly.
She shrugged her shoulders.
"Well," she said, glancing down the menu which the waiter had brought,
"if you are poor and content to remain so, one must presume that you
"But I have none!" he declared. "You should know that - you,
Mademoiselle. Life for me means one thing and one thing only!"
She looked at him, for a moment, and down upon the tablecloth. Von
Behrling shook like a man in the throes of some great passion.
"We talk too intimately," she whispered, as the people began to file
in to take their places. "After luncheon we will take our coffee
in my coupe. Then, if you like, we will speak of these matters. I
have a headache. Will you order me some champagne? It is a terrible
thing, I know, to drink wine in the morning, but when one travels,
what can one do? Here come your bodyguard. They look at me as
though I had stolen you away. Remember we take our coffee together
afterwards. I am bored with so much traveling, and I look to you
to amuse me."
Von Behrling's journey was, after all, marked with sharp contrasts.
The kindness of the woman whom he adored was sufficient in itself
to have transported him into a seventh heaven. On the other hand,
he had trouble with his friends. Streuss drew him on one side at
Ostend, and talked to him plainly.
"Von Behrling," he said, "I speak to you on behalf of Kahn and
myself. Wine and women and pleasure are good things. We two, we
love them, perhaps, as you do, but there is a place and a time for
them, and it is not now. Our mission is too serious."
"Well, well!" Von Behrling exclaimed impatiently, "what is all this?
What do I do wrong? What have you to say against me? If I talk
with Mademoiselle Idiale, it is because it is the natural thing for
me to do. Would you have us three - you and Kahn and myself - travel
arm in arm and speak never a word to our fellow passengers? Would
you have us proclaim to all the world that we are on a secret
mission, carrying a secret document, to obtain which we have already
committed a crime? These are old-fashioned methods, Streuss. It
is better that we behave like ordinary mortals. You talk foolishly,
"It is you," the older man declared, "who play the fool, and we will
not have it! Mademoiselle Idiale is a Servian and a patriot. She
is the friend, too, of Bellamy, the Englishman. She and he were
together last night."
"Bellamy is not even on the train," Von Behrling protested. "He
went north to Berlin. That itself is the proof that they know
nothing. If he had had the merest suspicion, do you not think that
he would have stayed with us?"
"Bellamy is very clever," Streuss answered. "There are too many of
us to deal with, - he knew that. Mademoiselle Idiale is clever,
too. Remember that half the trouble in life has come about through
"What is it that you want?" Von Behrling demanded.
"That you travel the rest of the way with us, and speak no more with
Von Behrling drew himself up. After all, it was he who was noble;
Streuss was little more than a policeman.
"I refuse!" he exclaimed. "Let me remind you, Streuss, that I am
in charge of this expedition. It was I who planned it. It was I"
- he dropped his voice and touched his chest - "who struck the
first blow for its success. I think that we need talk no more," he
went on. "I welcome your companionship. It makes for strength
that we travel together. But for the rest, the enterprise has been
mine, the success so far has been mine, and the termination of it
shall be mine. Watch me, if you like. Stay with me and see that
I am not robbed, if you fear that I am not able to take care of
myself, but do not ask me to behave like an idiot."
Von Behrling stepped away quickly. The siren was already blowing
from the steamer.
VON BEHRLING IS TEMPTED
The night was dark but fine, and the crossing smooth. Louise,
wrapped in furs, abandoned her private cabin directly they had left
the harbor, and had a chair placed on the upper deck. Von Behrling
found her there, but not before they were nearly half-way across.
She beckoned him to her side. Her eyes glowed at him through the
"You are not looking after me, my friend," she declared. "By myself
I had to find this place."
Von Behrling was ruffled. He was also humbly apologetic.
"It is those idiots who are with me," he said. "All the time they
She laughed and drew him down so that she could whisper in his ear.
"I know what it is," she said. "You have secrets which you are
taking to London, and they are afraid of me because I am a Servian.
Tell me, is it not so? Perhaps, even, they think that I am a spy."
Von Behrling hesitated. She drew him closer towards her.
"Sit down on the deck," she continued, "and lean against the rail.
You are too big to talk to up there. So! Now you can come
underneath my rug. Tell me, are they afraid of me, your friends?"
"Is it without reason?" he asked. "Would not any one be afraid of
you - if, indeed, they believed that you wished to know our secrets?
I wonder if there is a man alive whom you could not turn round your
She laughed at him softly.
"Ah, no!" she said. "Men are not like that, nowadays. They talk
and they talk, but it is not much they would do for a woman's sake."
"You believe that?" he asked, in a low tone.
"I do, indeed. One reads love-stories - no, I do not mean romances,
but memoirs - memoirs of the French and Austrian Courts - memoirs,
even, written by Englishmen. Men were different a generation ago.
Honor was dear to them then, honor and position and wealth, and yet
there were many, very many then who were willing to give all these
things for the love of a woman.
"And do you think there are none now?" he whispered hoarsely.
"My friend," she answered, looking down at him, "I think that there
are very few."
She heard his breath come fast between his teeth, and she realized
his state of excitement.
"Mademoiselle Louise," he said, "my love for you has made me a
laughing-stock in the clubs of Vienna. I - the poverty-stricken,
who have nothing but a noble name, nothing to offer you - have dared
to show others what I think, have dared to place you in my heart
above all the women on earth."
"It is very nice of you," she murmured. "Why do you tell me this
"Why, indeed?" he answered. "What have I to hope for?"
She looked along the deck. Not a dozen yards away, two cigar ends
burned red through the gloom. She knew very well that those cigar
ends belonged to Streuss and his friend. She laughed softly and
once more she bent her head.
"How they watch you, those men!" she said. "Listen, my friend
Rudolph. Supposing their fears were true, supposing I were really
a spy, supposing I offered you wealth and with it whatever else
you might claim from me, for the secret which you carry to England!"
"How do you know that I am carrying a secret?" he asked hoarsely.
"My friend," she said, "with your two absurd companions shadowing
you all the time and glowering at me, how could one possibly doubt
it? The Baron Streuss is, I believe, the Chief of your Secret
Service Department, is he not? To me he seems the most obvious
policeman I ever saw dressed as a gentleman."
"You don't mean it!" he muttered. "You can't mean what you said
She was silent for a few moments. Some one passing struck a match,
and she caught a glimpse of the white face of the man who sat by
her side - strained now and curiously intense.
"Supposing I did!"
"You must be mad!" he declared. "You must not talk to me like this,
Mademoiselle. I have no secret. It is your humor, I know, but it
"There is no danger," she murmured, "for we are alone. I say again,
Rudolph, supposing this were true?"
His hand passed across his forehead. She fancied that he made a
motion as though to rise to his feet, but she laid her hand upon his.
"Stay here," she whispered. "No, I do not wish to drive you away.
Now you are here you shall listen to me."
"But you are not in earnest!" he faltered. "Don't tell me that you
are in earnest. It is treason. I am Rudolph Von Behrling,
Secretary to the Chancellor."
Again she leaned towards him so that he could see into her eyes.
"Rudolph," she said, "you are indeed Rudolph Von Behrling, you are
indeed the Chancellor's secretary. What do you gain from it? A
pittance! Many hours work a day and a pittance. What have you to
look forward to? A little official life, a stupid official position.
Rudolph, here am I, and there is the world. Do I not represent
"God knows you do!" he muttered.
"I, too, am weary of singing. I want a long rest - a long rest and
a better name than my own. Don't shrink away from me. It isn't so
wonderful, after all. Bellamy, the Englishman, came to me a few
hours ago. He was Dorward's friend. He knew well what Dorward
carried. It was not his affair, he told me, and interposition from
him was hopeless, but he knew that you and I were friends."
"You must stop!" Von Behrling declared. "You must stop! I must
not listen to this!"
"He offered me twenty thousand pounds," she went on, "for the packet
in your pocket. Think of that, my friend. It would be a start in
life, would it not? I am an extravagant woman. Even if I would, I
dared not think of a poor man. But twenty thousand pounds is
sufficient. When I reach London, I am going to a flat which has
been waiting for me for weeks - 15, Dover Street. If you bring that
packet to me instead of taking it to the Austrian Embassy, there
will be twenty thousand pounds and - "
Her fingers suddenly held his. She could almost hear his heart
beating. Her eyes, by now accustomed to the gloom, could see the
tumult which was passing within the man, reflected in his face.
She whispered a warning under her breath. The two cigar ends had
moved nearer. The forms of the two men were now distinct. One was
leaning over the side of the ship by Von Behrling's side. The other
stood a few feet away, gazing at the lights of Dover. Von Behrling
staggered to his feet. He said something in an angry undertone to
Streuss. Louise rose and shook out her furs.
"My friend," she said, turning to Von Behrling, "if your friends can
spare you so long, will you fetch one of my maids? You will find
them both in my cabin, number three. I wish to walk for a few
moments before we arrive."
Von Behrling turned away like a man in a dream. Mademoiselle Idiale
followed him slowly, and behind her came Von Behrling's companions.
The details of the great singer's journey had been most carefully
planned by an excited manager who had received the telegram
announcing her journey to London. There was an engaged carriage at
Dover, into which she was duly escorted by a representative of the
Opera Syndicate, who had been sent down from London to receive her.
Von Behrling seemed to be missing. She had seen nothing of him
since he had descended to summon her maids. But just as the train
was starting, she heard the sound of angry voices, and a moment
later his white face was pressed through the open window of the
"Louise," he muttered, "I am on fire! I cannot talk to you! I fear
that they suspect something. They have told me that if I travel
with you they will force their way in. Even now, Streuss comes.
Listen for your telephone to-night or whenever I can. I must think
- I must think!"
He passed on, and Louise, leaning back in her seat, closed her eyes.
"WE PLAY FOR GREAT STAKES "
Bellamy, travel-stained and weary, arrived at his rooms at two
o'clock on the following afternoon to find amongst a pile of
correspondence a penciled message awaiting him in a handwriting he
knew well. He tore open the envelope.
DAVID DEAR, - I have just arrived and I am sending you these few
lines at once. As to what progress I have made, I cannot say for
certain, but there is a chance. You had better get the money ready
and come to me here. If R. could only escape from Streuss and
those who watch him all the time, I should be quite sure, but they
are suspicious. What may happen I cannot tell. I do my best and
I have hated it. Get the money ready and come to me.
Bellamy drew a little breath and tore the note into pieces. Then
he rang for his servant. "A bath and some clean clothes quickly,"
he ordered. "While I am changing, ring up Downing Street and see
if Sir James is there. If not, find out exactly where he is. I
must see him within half an hour. Afterwards, get me a taxicab."
The man obeyed with the swift efficiency of the thoroughly trained
servant. In rather less than the time which he had stated, Bellamy
had left his rooms. Before four o'clock he had arrived at the
address which Louise had given him. A commissionaire telephoned his
name to the first floor, and in a very few moments a pale-faced
French man-servant, in sombre black livery, descended and bowed to
"Monsieur will be so good as to come this way," he directed.
Bellamy followed him into the lift, which stopped at the first
floor. He was ushered into a small boudoir, already smothered with
"Mademoiselle will be here immediately," the man announced. "She is
engaged with a gentleman from the Opera, but she will leave him to
"Pray let Mademoiselle understand," he said, "that I am entirely at
her service. My time is of no consequence."
The man bowed and withdrew. Louise came to him almost directly from
an inner chamber. She was wearing a loose gown, but the fatigue of
her journey seemed already to have passed away. Her eyes were
bright, and a faint color glowed in her cheeks.
"David," she exclaimed, "thank Heaven that you are here!"
She took both his hands and held them for a moment. Then she walked
to the door, made sure that it was securely fastened, and stood
there listening for a moment.
"I suppose I am foolish," she said, coming back to him, "and yet I
cannot help fancying that I am being watched on every side since we
landed in England. I detest my new manager, and I don't trust any
of the servants he has engaged for me. You got my note?"
"Yes," he answered, "I had your note - and I am here."
The restraint of his manner was obvious. He was standing a little
away from her. She came suddenly up to him, her hands fell upon
his shoulders, her face was upturned to his. Even then he made no
motion to embrace her.
"David," she whispered softly, "what I am doing - what I have done
- was at your suggestion. I do it for you, I do it for my country,
I do it against every natural feeling I possess. I hate and loathe
the lies I tell. Are you remembering that? Is it in your heart at
He stooped and kissed her.
"Forgive me," he said, "it is I who am to blame, but I am only human.
We play for great stakes, Louise, but sometimes one forgets."
"As I live," she murmured, "the kiss you gave me last is still upon
my lips. What I have promised goes for nothing. What he has
promised is this - the papers to-night."
"Unopened," she repeated, softly.
"But how is it to be done?" Bellamy asked. "He must have arrived
in London when you did last night. How is it they are not already
at the Embassy?"
"The Ambassador was commanded to Cowes," she explained. "He cannot
be back until late to-night. No one else has a key to the treaty
safe, and Von Behrling declined to give up the document to any one
save the Ambassador himself."
"What about Streuss?"
"Streuss and the others are all furious," Louise said. "Yet, after
all, Behrling has a certain measure of right on his side. His
orders were to see with his own eyes this envelope deposited in the
safe by the Ambassador himself."
"He returns to-night!" Bellamy exclaimed quickly.
"Before he comes," she declared, "I think that the document will be
in your hands."
"How is it to be done?"
"The report is written," she explained, "on five pages of foolscap.
They are contained in a long envelope, scaled with the Chancellor's
crest. Von Behrling, being one of the family, has the same crest.
He has prepared another envelope, the same size and weight, and
signed it with his seal. It is this which he will hand over to the
Ambassador if he should return unexpectedly. The real one he has
"Is he here?" Bellamy inquired.
"Thank Heavens, no!" she answered. "My dear David, what are you
thinking of? He is not here and he dare not come here. You are to
go to your rooms," she added, glancing at the clock, "and between
five and six o'clock this evening you will be rung up on the
telephone. A rendezvous will be given you for later on to-night.
You must take the money there and receive the packet. Von Behrling
will be disguised and prepared for flight."
Bellamy's eyes glowed.
"You believe this?" he exclaimed.
"I believe it," she replied. "He is going to do it. After he has
seen you, he will make his way to Plymouth. I have promised - don't
look at me, David - I have promised to join him there."
Bellamy was grave.
"There will be trouble," he said. "He will come back. He will want
to shoot you. He may be slow-witted in some things, but he is
"Am I a coward?" she asked, with a scornful laugh. "Have I ever
shown fear of my life? No, David! It is not that of which I am
afraid. It is the memory of the man's touch, it is the look which
was in your face when you came into the room. These are the things
I fear - not death."
Bellamy drew her into his arms and kissed her.
"Forgive me," he begged. "At such times a man is a weak thing - a
weak and selfish thing. I am ashamed of myself. I should have
known better than to have doubted you for a moment. I know you so
well, Louise. I know what you are."
"Dear," she said, "you have made me happy. And now you must go away.
Remember that these few minutes are only an interlude. Over here I
am Mademoiselle Idiale who sings to-night at Covent Garden. See my
roses. There are two rooms full of reporters and photographers in
the place now. The leader of the orchestra is in my bedroom, and
two of the directors are drinking whiskies and sodas with this new
manager of mine in the dining-room. Between five and six o'clock
this afternoon you will get the message. It is somewhere, I think,
in the city that you will have to go. There will be no trouble
about the money? Nothing but notes or gold will be of any use."
"I have it in my pocket," he answered. "I have it in notes, but he
need never fear that they will be traced. The numbers of notes
given for Secret Service purposes are expunged from every one's
She drew a little sigh.
"It is a great sum," she said. "After all, he should be grateful
to me. If only he would be sensible and get away to the United
States or to South America! He could live there like a prince,
poor fellow. He would be far happier."
"I only hope that he will go," Bellamy agreed. "There is one thing
to be remembered. If he does not go, if he stays for twenty-four
hours in this country, I do not believe that he will live to do you
harm. The men who are with him are not the sort to stop short at
trifles. Besides Streuss and Kahn, they have a regular army of
spies at their bidding here. If they find out that he has tricked
them, they will hunt him down, and before long."
"Oh, I hope," she exclaimed, "that he gets away! He is a traitor,
of course, but he is a traitor to a hateful cause, and, after all,
I think it is less for the money than for my sake that he does it.
That sounds very conceited, I suppose," she added, with a faint
smile. "Ah! well, you see, for five years so many have been trying
to turn my head. No wonder if I begin to believe some of their
stories. David, I must go. I must not keep Dr. Henschell waiting
"To-morrow," he said, "to-morrow early I shall come. I am afraid
I shall miss your first appearance in England, Louise."
The sound of a violin came floating out from the inner room.
"That is my signal," she declared smiling. "De. Henschell was
almost beside himself that I came away. I come, Doctor," she called
out. "David, good fortune!" she added, giving him her hands. "Now
THE HAND OF MISFORTUNE
Between the two men, seated opposite each other in the large but
somewhat barely furnished office, the radical differences, both in
appearance and mannerisms, perhaps, also, in disposition, had never
been more strongly evident. They were partners in business and face
to face with ruin. Stephen Laverick, senior member of the firm,
although an air of steadfast gloom had settled upon his clean-cut,
powerful countenance, retained even in despair something of that
dogged composure, temperamental and wholly British, which had served
him well along the road to fortune. Arthur Morrison, the man who
sat on the other side of the table, a Jew to his finger-tips
notwithstanding his altered name, sat like a broken thing, with
tears in his terrified eyes, disordered hair, and parchment-pale
face. Words had flown from his lips in a continual stream. He
floundered in his misery, sobbed about it like a child. The hand
of misfortune had stripped him naked, and one man, at least, saw
him as he really was.
"I can't stand it, Laverick, - I couldn't face them all. It's too
cruel - too horrible! Eighteen thousand pounds gone in one week,
forty thousand in a month! Forty thousand pounds! Oh, my God!"
He writhed in agony. The man on the other side of the table said
"If we could only have held on a little longer! 'Unions' must turn!
They will turn! Laverick, have you tried all your friends? Think!
Have you tried them all? Twenty thousand pounds would see us through
it. We should get our own money back - I am sure of it. There's
Rendell, Laverick. He'd do anything for you. You're always shooting
or playing cricket with him. Have you asked him, Laverick? He'd
never miss the money."
"You and I see things differently, Morrison," Laverick answered.
"Nothing would induce me to borrow money from a friend."
"But at a time like this," Morrison pleaded passionately. "Every
one does it sometimes. He'd be glad to help you. I know he would.
Have you ever thought what it will be like, Laverick, to be
"I have," Laverick admitted wearily. "God knows it seems as
terrible a thing to me as it can to you! But if we go down, we
must go down with clean hands. I've no faith in your infernal
market, and not one penny will I borrow from a friend."
The Jew's face was almost piteous. He stretched himself across the
table. There were genuine tears in his eyes.
"Laverick," he said, "old man, you're wrong. I know you think I've
been led away. I've taken you out of our depth, but the only
trouble has been that we haven't had enough capital, and no backing.
Those who stand up will win. They will make money."
"Unfortunately," Laverick remarked, "we cannot stand up. Please
understand that I will not discuss this matter with you in any way.
I will not borrow money from Rendell or any friend. I have asked
the bank and I have asked Pages, who will be our largest creditors.
To help us would simply be a business proposition, so far as they