Part 2 out of 4
With that the girl ran to her room and there re-read the letter she had
"Dear Miss Baxter (it ran),--We are in a very considerable dilemma here,
so I write asking you to see me in London without delay, going back to
the Tyrol later on if the investigation of the diamond mystery renders
your return necessary. The Duchess of Chiselhurst is giving a great ball
on the 29th. It is to be a very swagger affair, with notables from every
part of Europe, and they seem determined that no one connected with a
newspaper shall be admitted. We have set at work every influence to
obtain an invitation for a reporter, but without success, the reply
invariably given being that an official account will be sent to
the press. Now, I want you to set your ingenuity at work, and gain
admittance if possible, for I am determined to have an account of this
ball written in such a way that everyone who reads it will know that the
writer was present. If you can manage this, I can hardly tell you how
grateful the proprietor and myself will be.--Yours very truly,
Miss Jennie Baxter sat for some moments musing, with the letter in her
hand. She conned over in her mind the names of those who might be able
to assist her in this task, but she dismissed them one by one, well
knowing that if Mr. Hardwick and the proprietor of the _Bugle_ had
petitioned all their influential friends without avail, she could not
hope to succeed with the help of the very few important personages she
was acquainted with. She wondered if the Princess could get her an
invitation; then suddenly her eyes lit up, and she sprang eagerly to her
"What a fortunate thing it is," she cried aloud, "that I did not send
on the refusal of the Princess to the Duchess of Chiselhurst. I had
forgotten all about it until this moment."
JENNIE ARRANGES A CINDERELLA VISIT.
The room which had been allotted to Jennie Baxter in the Schloss
Steinheimer enjoyed a most extended outlook. A door-window gave access
to a stone balcony, which hung against the castle wall like a swallow's
nest at the eaves of a house. This balcony was just wide enough to give
ample space for one of the easy rocking-chairs which, the Princess had
imported from America, and which Jennie thought were the only really
comfortable pieces of furniture the old stronghold possessed, much as
she admired the artistic excellence of the mediaeval chairs, tables, and
cabinets which for centuries had served the needs of the ancient line
that had lived in the Schloss. The rocking-chair was as modern as this
morning's daily paper; its woodwork painted a bright scarlet, its arms
like broad shelves, its rockers as sensitively balanced as a marine
compass; in fact, just such a chair as one would find dotted round
the vast verandah of an American summer hotel. In this chair sat Miss
Jennie, two open letters on her lap, and perplexity in the dainty little
frown that faintly ruffled the smoothness of her fair brow. The scene
from the high balcony was one to be remembered; but, although this was
her last day at the Castle, the girl saw nothing of the pretty town of
Meran so far below; the distant chalk-line down the slope beyond which
marked the turbulent course of the foaming Adege; the lofty mountains
all around, or the further snow-peaks, dazzling white against the deep
blue of the sky.
One of the epistles which lay on her lap was the letter she had received
from the editor recounting the difficulties he had met with while
endeavouring to make arrangements for reporting adequately the Duchess
of Chiselhurst's ball; the other was the still unanswered invitation
from the Duchess to the Princess. Jennie was flattered to know that
already the editor, who had engaged her with unconcealed reluctance,
expected her to accomplish what the entire staff were powerless to
effect. She knew that, had she but the courage, it was only necessary to
accept the invitation in the name of her present hostess, and attend the
great society function as Princess von Steinheimer. Yet she hesitated,
not so much on account of the manifest danger of discovery, but because
she had grown to like the Princess, and this impersonation, if it came
to the knowledge of the one most intimately concerned, as it was almost
sure to do, would doubtless be regarded as an unpardonable liberty. As
she swayed gently back and forth in the gaudy rocking-chair, she thought
of confessing everything to the Princess and asking her assistance; but
pondering on this, she saw that it was staking everything on one throw
of the dice. If the Princess refused, then the scheme became impossible,
as that lady herself would answer the letter of the Duchess and decline
the invitation. Jennie soothed her accusing conscience by telling
herself that this impersonation would do no harm to Princess von
Steinheimer, or to anyone else for that matter, while it would be of
inestimable assistance to her own journalistic career. From that
she drifted to meditation on the inequalities of this life--the
superabundance which some possess, while others, no less deserving, have
difficulty in obtaining the scant necessities. And this consoling train
of thought having fixed her resolve to take the goods the gods scattered
at her feet, or rather threw into her lap, she drew a long sigh of
determination as there came a gentle tap at the door of her room, and
the voice of the Princess herself said, "May I come in?"
Jennie, a rapid blush flaming her cheeks, sprang to her feet, flung the
letters, on a table, and opened the door.
The visitor entered, looking attractive enough to be a princess of
fairyland, and greeted Miss Baxter most cordially.
"I am so sorry you are leaving," she said. "Cannot you be persuaded to
change your mind and stay with me? Where could you find a more lovely
view than this from your balcony here?"
"Or a more lovely hostess?" said the girl, looking at her visitor with
undisguised admiration and quite ignoring the landscape.
The Princess laughed, and as they now stood together on the balcony she
put out her hands, pushed Jennie gently into the rocking-chair again,
seating herself jauntily on its broad arm, and thus the two looked like
a pair of mischievous schoolgirls, home at vacation time, thoroughly
enjoying their liberty.
"There! You are now my prisoner, about to be punished for flattery,"
cried the Princess. "I saw by the motion of the chair that you had just
jumped up from it when I disturbed you, so there you are, back in it
again. What were you thinking about? A rocking-chair lends itself
deliciously to meditation, and we always dream of someone very
particular as we rock."
"I am no exception to the rule," sighed Jennie; "I was thinking of you,
"How nice of you to say that; and as one good turn deserves another,
here is proof that a certain young lady has been in my thoughts."
As she spoke, the Princess took from her pocket an embossed case of
Russian leather, opened it and displayed a string of diamonds, lustrous
as drops of liquid light.
"I want you to wear these stones in remembrance of our diamond
mystery--that is why I chose diamonds--and also, I confess, because I
want you to think of me every time you put them on. See how conceited I
am! One does not like to be forgotten."
Jennie took the string, her own eyes for a moment rivalling in
brilliancy the sparkle of the gems; then the moisture obscured her
vision and she automatically poured the stones from one hand to the
other, as if their scintillating glitter hypnotized her. She tried once
or twice to speak, but could not be sure of her voice, so remained
silent. The Princess, noticing her agitation, gently lifted the necklace
and clasped it round the girl's white throat, chattering all the while
with nervous haste.
"There! you can wear diamonds, and there are so many to whom they are
unbecoming. I also look well in diamonds--at least, so I've been told
over and over again, and I've come to believe it at last. I suppose the
young men have not concealed from you the fact that you are a strikingly
good-looking girl, Jennie. Indeed, and this is brag if you like, we two
resemble one another enough to be sisters, nearly the same height, the
same colour of eyes and hair. Come to the mirror, Miss Handsomeness, and
She dragged Jennie to her feet and drew her into the room, placing
her triumphantly before the great looking-glass that reflected back a
"Now confess that you never saw a prettier girl," cried the Princess
"I don't think I ever did," admitted Jennie, but she was looking at the
image of the Princess and not at her own. The Princess laughed, but Miss
Baxter seemed too much affected by the unexpected present to join in the
merriment. She regarded herself solemnly in the glass for a few moments,
then slowly undid the clasp, and, slipping the string of brilliants from
her neck, handed them back to the Princess. "You are very, very kind,
but I cannot accept so costly a present."
"Cannot? Why? Have I offended you by anything I have said since you
"Oh, no, no. It isn't that."
"What, then? Don't you like me, after all?"
"Like you? I _love_ you, Princess!" cried the girl impulsively, throwing
her arms round the other's neck.
The Princess tried to laugh as she pressed Jennie closely to her, but
there was a tremour of tears in the laughter.
"You must take this little gift as a souvenir of your visit with me. I
was really--very unhappy when you came, and now--well, you smoothed away
some misunderstandings--I'm more than grateful. And it isn't natural for
a woman to refuse diamonds, Jennie."
"I know it isn't; and I won't quite refuse them. I'll postpone. It is
possible that something I shall do before long may seriously offend you.
If it does--then good-bye to the necklace! If it doesn't, when I have
told you all about my misdeed--I shall confess courageously--you will
give me the diamonds."
"Dear me, Jennie, what terrible crime are you about to commit? Why not
tell me now? You have no idea how you have aroused my curiosity."
"I dare not tell you, Princess; not until my project proves a success or
a failure. We women--some have our way made for us--others have our own
way to make. I am among the others, and I hope you will remember that,
if you are ever angry with me."
"Is it a new kind of speculation? A fortune made in a day? Gambling?"
"Something of that sort. I am going to stake a good deal on the turn of
a card; so please pray that luck will not be against me."
"If pluck will make you win, I am sure you will carry it through, but
if at first you don't succeed, try, try again; and if you haven't the
money, I'll supply the capital. I know I should like to gamble. Anyhow,
you have my best wishes for your success."
"Thank you, Princess. I can hardly fail after that."
The time had come when the two friends must part. The carriage was
waiting to take Miss Baxter to the station, and the girl bade good-bye
to her hostess with an uneasy feeling that she was acting disloyally to
one who had befriended her. In her handbag was the invitation to the
ball, and also the letter she had written in the Princess's name
accepting it, which latter she posted in Meran. In due course she
reached London, and presented herself to the editor of the _Daily
"Well, Miss Baxter," he said, "you have been extraordinarily successful
in solving the diamond mystery, and I congratulate you. My letter
reached you, I suppose. Have you given any thought to the problem
that now confronts us? Can you get us a full report of the Duchess of
Chiselhurst's ball, written so convincingly that all the guests who read
it will know that the writer was present?"
"It is entirely a question of money, Mr. Hardwick."
"Most things are. Well, we are prepared to spend money to get just what
"Whatever is necessary." "That's vague. Put it into figures."
"Five hundred pounds; seven hundred; a thousand if need be."
"It will not cost you a thousand, and it may come to more than five
hundred. Place the thousand to my credit, and I shall return what is
left. I must go at once to Paris and carry out my plans from that city."
"Then you have thought out a scheme. What is it?"
"I have not only thought it out, but most of the arrangements are
already made. I cannot say more about it. You will have to trust wholly
"There is a good deal of money at stake, Miss Baxter, and our reputation
as a newspaper as well. I think I should know what you propose to do."
"Certainly. I propose to obtain for you an accurate description of the
ball, written by one who was present."
The editor gave utterance to a sort of interjection that always served
him in place of a laugh.
"In other words, you want neither interference nor advice."
"Exactly, Mr. Hardwick. You know from experience that little good comes
of talking too much of a secret project not yet completed."
The editor drummed with his fingers on the table for a few moments
"Very well, then, it shall be as you say. I should have been very glad
to share the responsibility of failure with you; but if you prefer to
take the whole risk yourself, there is nothing more to be said. The
thousand pounds shall be placed to your credit at once. What next?"
"On the night of the ball I should like you to have three or four expert
shorthand writers here; I don't know how many will be necessary--you
understand more about that than I do; but it is my intention to dictate
the report right along as fast as I can talk until it is finished, and
I don't wish to be stopped or interrupted, so I want the best
stenographers you have; they are to relieve one another just as if
they were taking down a parliamentary speech. The men had better be in
readiness at midnight; I shall be here as soon after that as possible.
If you will kindly run over their type-written MS. before it goes to
the compositors, I will glance at the proofs when I have finished
"Then you hope to attend the ball yourself."
"You have just returned from the Tyrol, and I fear you don't quite
appreciate the difficulties that are in the way. This is no ordinary
society function, and if you think even a thousand pounds will gain
admittance to an uninvited guest, you will find yourself mistaken.".
"So I understood from your letter."
Again the editorial interjection did duty for a laugh.
"You are very sanguine, Miss Baxter. I wish I felt as confident;
however, we will hope for the best, and if we cannot command success, we
will at least endeavour to deserve it.".
Jennie, with the thousand pounds at her disposal, went to Paris, took
rooms at the most aristocratic hotel, engaged a maid, and set about the
construction of a ball dress that would be a dream of beauty. Luckily,
she knew exactly the gown-making resources of Paris, and the craftsmen
to whom she gave her orders were not the less anxious to please her when
they knew that the question of cost was not to be considered. From
Paris she telegraphed in the name of the Princess von Steinheimer to
Claridge's Hotel for an apartment on the night of the ball, and asked
that a suitable equipage be provided to convey her to and from that
Arriving at Claridge's, she was well aware her first danger was that
someone who knew the Princess von Steinheimer would call upon her; but
on the valid plea of fatigue from her journey she proclaimed that in no
circumstances could she see any visitor, and thus shipwreck was avoided
at the outset. It was unlikely that the Princess von Steinheimer was
personally known to many who would attend the ball; in fact, the
Princess had given to Jennie as her main reason for refusing the
invitation the excuse that she knew no one in London. She had been
invited merely because of the social position of the Prince in
Vienna, and was unknown by sight even to her hostess, the Duchess of
Chiselhurst. Critically, she compared the chances of success with the
chances of failure, and often it seemed that disaster was inevitable,
unversed as she knew herself to be in the customs of grand society at
one of its high functions, but nevertheless she was undaunted by the
odds against her, and resolved to stake a career on the fortunes of a
JENNIE MIXES WITH THE ELITE OF EARTH.
It is said that a woman magnificently robed is superior to all earthly
tribulations. Such was the case with Jennie as she left her carriage,
walked along the strip of carpet which lay across the pavement under a
canopy, and entered the great hall of the Duke of Chiselhurst's town
house, one of the huge palaces of Western London. Nothing so resplendent
had she ever witnessed, or even imagined, as the scene which met her eye
when she found herself about to ascend the broad stairway at the top of
which the hostess stood to receive her distinguished guests. Early as
she was, the stairway and the rooms beyond seemed already thronged.
Splendid menials in gorgeous livery, crimson the predominant colour,
stood on each step at either side of the stair. Uniforms of every
pattern, from the dazzling oriental raiment of Indian princes and
eastern potentates, to the more sober, but scarcely less rich apparel of
the diplomatic corps, ministers of the Empire, and officers, naval
and military, gave the final note of magnificence and picturesque
decoration. Like tropical flowers in this garden of colour were the
ladies, who, with easy grace, moved to and fro, bestowing a smile here
and a whisper there; and yet, despite her agitation, a hurried, furtive
glance around brought to Jennie the conviction that she was, perhaps,
the best-gowned woman in that assemblage of well-dressed people, which
recognition somewhat calmed her palpitating heart. The whole environment
seemed unreal to her, and she walked forward as if in a dream. She
heard someone cry, "The Princess von Steinheimer," and at first had a
difficulty in realizing that the title, for the moment, pertained
to herself. The next instant her hand was in that of the Duchess of
Chiselhurst, and Jennie heard the lady murmur that it was good of her
to come so far to grace the occasion. The girl made some sort of reply
which she found herself unable afterwards to recall, but the rapid
incoming of other guests led her to hope that, if she had used any
unsuitable phrase, it was either unheard or forgotten in the tension of
the time. She stood aside and formed one of the brilliant group at the
head of the stairs, thankful that this first ordeal was well done with.
Her rapidly beating heart had now opportunity to lessen its pulsations,
and as she soon realized that she was practically unnoticed, her natural
calmness began to return to her. She remembered why she was there,
and her discerning eye enabled her to stamp on a retentive memory
the various particulars of so unaccustomed a spectacle whose very
unfamiliarity made the greater impression upon the girl's mind. She
moved away from the group, determined to saunter through the numerous
rooms thrown open for the occasion, and thus, as it were, get her
bearings. In a short time all fear of discovery left her, and she began
to feel very much at home in the lofty, crowded salons, pausing even
to enjoy a selection which a military band, partly concealed in the
foliage, was rendering in masterly manner, led by the most famous
_impressario_ of the day. The remote probability of meeting anyone here
who knew the Princess reassured her, and there speedily came over her
a sense of delight in all the kaleidoscopic bewilderment of this great
entertainment. She saw that each one there had interest in someone
else, and, to her great relief, found herself left entirely alone with
reasonable assurance that this remoteness would continue to befriend her
until the final gauntlet of leave-taking had to be run; a trial still to
be encountered, the thought of which she resolutely put away from her,
trusting to the luck that had hitherto not deserted her.
Jennie was in this complaisant frame of mind when she was suddenly
startled by a voice at her side.
"Ah, Princess, I have been searching everywhere for you, catching
glimpses of you now and then, only to lose you, as, alas, has been my
fate on more serious occasion. May I flatter myself with the belief that
you also remember?"
There was no recognition in the large frightened eyes that were turned
upon him. They saw a young man bowing low over the unresisting hand he
had taken. His face was clear-cut and unmistakably English. Jennie saw
his closely-cropped auburn head, and, as it raised until it overtopped
her own, the girl, terrified as she was, could not but admire the
sweeping blonde moustache that overshadowed a smile, half-wistful,
half-humorous, which lighted up his handsome face. The ribbon of some
order was worn athwart his breast; otherwise he wore court dress, which
well became his stalwart frame.
"I am disconsolate to see that I am indeed forgotten, Princess, and so
another cherished delusion fades away from me."
Her fan concealed the lower part of the girl's face, and she looked at
him over its fleecy semicircle.
"Put not your trust in princesses," she murmured, a sparkle of latent
mischief lighting up her eyes.
The young man laughed. "Indeed," he said, "had I served my country as
faithfully as I have been, true to my remembrance of you, Princess, I
would have been an ambassador long ere this, covered with decorations.
Have you then lost all recollection of that winter in Washington five
years ago; that whirlwind of gaiety which ended by wafting you away to a
foreign country, and thus the eventful season clings to my memory as
if it were a disastrous western cyclone? Is it possible that I must
re-introduce myself as Donal Stirling?"
"Not Lord Donal Stirling?" asked Jennie, dimly remembering that she had
heard this name in connection with something diplomatic, and her guess
that he was in that service was strengthened by his previous remark
about being an ambassador.
"Yes, Lord Donal, if you will cruelly insist on calling me so; but this
cannot take from me the consolation that once, in the conservatory
of the White House, under the very shadow of the President, you
condescended to call me Don."
"You cannot expect one to remember what happened in Washington five
years ago. You know the administration itself changes every four years,
and memories seldom carry back even so far as that."
"I had hoped that my most outspoken adoration would have left
reminiscence which might outlast an administration. I have not found
forgetting so easy."
"Are you quite sure of that, Lord Donal?" asked the girl archly, closing
her fan and giving him for the first time a full view of her face.
The young man seemed for a moment perplexed, but she went on, giving him
little time for reflection. "Have your diplomatic duties taken you away
"Yes, to the other end of the earth. I am now in St. Petersburg, with
ultimate hopes of Vienna, Princess. I happened to be in London this
week, and hearing you were to be here, I moved heaven and earth for an
"Which you obtained, only to find yourself forgotten. How hollow this
world is, isn't it?"
"Alas, yes. A man in my profession sees a good deal of the seamy side of
life, and I fully believe that my rapidly lessening dependence on human
veracity will be shattered by my superiors sending me to Constantinople.
But let me find you a seat out of this crowd where we may talk of old
"I don't care so much about the past as I do about the present. Let
us go up into that gallery, where you shall point out to me the
celebrities. I suppose you know them all, while I am an entire stranger
to London Society."
"That is a capital idea," cried the young man enthusiastically. "Yes, I
think I know most of the people here, at least by name. Ah, here comes
the Royal party; we shall just be in time to have a good look at them."
The band played the National Anthem, and Lord Donal got two chairs,
which he placed at the edge of the gallery, well hidden from the
promenaders by spreading tropical plants.
"Oh, this _is_ jolly," cried Jennie, quite forgetting the dignity of a
Princess. "You told me why you came to the ball. Do you know why I am
"On the remote chance of meeting me whom you pretended to have
forgotten," replied the young man audaciously.
"Of course," laughed Jennie; "but aside from that, I came to see the
costumes. You know, we women are libellously said to dress for each
other. Away from the world, in the Tyrol, I have little opportunity
of seeing anything fine in the way of dress, and so I accepted the
invitation of the Duchess."
"Have you the invitation of the Duchess with you?"
"Yes, I am going to make some notes on the back of it. Would you like to
see it?" She handed him the letter and then leaned back in her chair,
regarding him closely. The puzzled expression on his face deepened as
he glanced over the invitation, and saw that it was exactly what it
purported to be. He gave the letter back to her, saying,--
"So you are here to see the fashions. It is a subject I know little
about; but, judging by effect, I should say that the Princess von
Steinheimer has nothing to learn from anyone present. If I may touch on
a topic so personal, your costume is what they call a creation, is it
"It isn't bad," said the girl, looking down at her gown and then
glancing up at him with merriment dancing in her eyes. The diplomat had
his elbow resting on the balustrade, his head leaning on his hand, and,
quite oblivious to everything else, was gazing at her with such absorbed
intentness that the girl blushed and cast down her eyes. The intense
admiration in his look was undisguised. "Still," she rattled on somewhat
breathlessly, "one gets many hints from others, and the creation of
to-day is merely the old clothes of to-morrow. Invention has no vacation
so far as ladies' apparel is concerned. 'Take no thought of the morrow,
wherewithal ye shall be clothed,' may have been a good motto for the
court of Solomon, but it has little relation with that of Victoria."
"Solomon--if the saying is his--was hedging. He had many wives, you
"Well, as I was about to say, you must now turn your attention to
the other guests, and tell me who's who. I have already confessed my
ignorance, and you promised to enlighten me."
The young man, with visible reluctance, directed his thoughts from the
one to the many, and named this person and that, while Jennie, with
the pencil attached to her card, made cabalistic notes in shorthand,
economizing thus both space and time. When at last she had all the
information that could be desired, she leaned back in her chair with a
little sigh of supreme content. Whatever might now betide, her mission
was fulfilled, if she once got quietly away. The complete details of the
most important society event of the season were at her fingers' ends.
She closed her eyes for a moment to enjoy the satisfaction which success
leaves in its train, and when she opened them again found Lord Donal in
his old posture, absorbed in the contemplation of her undeniable beauty.
"I see you are determined I shall have no difficulty in remembering you
next time we meet," she said with a smile, at the same time flushing
slightly under his ardent gaze.
"I was just thinking," he replied, shifting his position a little, "that
the five years which have dealt so hardly with me, have left you five
"Age has many privileges, Lord Donal," she said to him, laughing
outright; "but I don't think you can yet lay claim to any of them.
The pose of the prematurely old is not in the least borne out by your
appearance, however hardly the girl you met in Washington dealt with
"Ah, Princess, it is very easy for you to treat these serious matters
lightly. He laughs at scars who never felt a wound. Time, being above
all things treacherous, often leaves the face untouched the more
effectually to scar the heart. The hurt concealed is ever the more
"I fancy it has been concealed so effectually that it is not as deep as
"Princess, I will confess to you that the wound at Washington was as
nothing to the one received at London."
"Yes; you told me you had been here for a week."
"The week has nothing to do with it. I have been here for a night--for
two hours--or three; I have lost count of time since I met you."
What reply the girl might have made to this speech, delivered with all
the fervency of a man in thorough earnest, will never be known, for at
that moment their _tete-a-tete_ was interrupted by a messenger, who
"His Excellency the Austrian Ambassador begs to be permitted to pay his
regards to the Princess von Steinheimer."
Lord Donal Stirling never took his eyes from the face of his companion,
and he saw a quick pallor overspread it. He leaned forward and
"I know the Ambassador; if you do not wish to meet him, I will intercept
Jennie rose slowly to her feet, and, looking at the young man with a
calmness she was far from feeling, said coldly,--
"Why should I not wish to meet the Ambassador of my adopted country?"
"I know of no reason. Quite the contrary, for he must be an old friend
of yours, having been your guest at the Schloss Steinheimer a year ago."
He stepped back as he said this, and Jennie had difficulty in
suppressing the gasp of dismay with which she received his disquieting
disclosure, but she stood her ground without wincing. She was face to
face with the crisis she had foreseen--the coming of one who knew
the Princess. Next instant the aged diplomat was bending over her
outstretched hand, which in courtly fashion the old man raised to his
"I am delighted to have the privilege of welcoming you to this gloomy
old city, Princess von Steinheimer, which you illumine with your
presence. Do you stay long in London?"
"The period of illumination is short, your Excellency. I leave for Paris
"So soon? Without even visiting the Embassy? I am distressed to hear
of so speedy a desertion, and yet, knowing the charms of the Schloss
Steinheimer, I can hardly wonder at your wish to return there. The
Prince, I suppose, is as devoted as ever to the chase. I must censure
his Highness, next time we meet, for not coming with you to London; then
I am sure you would have stayed longer with us."
"The Prince is a model husband, your Excellency," said Jennie, with a
sly glance at Lord Donal, whose expression of uncertainty increased
as this colloquy went on, "and he would have come to London without
a murmur had his wife been selfish enough to tear him away, from his
beloved Meran." "A model husband!" said the ancient count, with an
unctuous chuckle. "So few of us excel in that respect; but there is this
to be said in our exculpation, few have been matrimonially so fortunate
as the Prince von Steinheimer. I have never ceased to long for a
repetition of the charming visit I paid to your delightful home."
"If your Excellency but knew how welcome you are, your visits would, not
have such long intervals between."
"It is most kind of you, Princess, to cheer an old man's heart by such
gracious words. It is our misfortune that affairs of State chain us to
our pillar, and, indeed, diplomacy seems to become more difficult as the
years go on, because we have to contend with the genius of rising young
men like Lord Donal Stirling here, who are more than a match for old
dogs that find it impossible to learn new tricks."
"Indeed, your Excellency," said his lordship, speaking for the first
time since the Ambassador began, "the very reverse of that is the case.
We sit humbly at your feet, ambitious to emulate, but without hope of
The old man chuckled again, and, turning to the girl, began to make his
"Then my former rooms are waiting for me at the Castle?" he concluded.
"Yes, your Excellency, with the addition of two red rocking-chairs
imported from America, which you will find most comfortable
resting-places when you are free from the cares of State."
"Ah! The rocking-chairs! I remember now that you were expecting them
when I was there. So they have arrived, safely, I hope; but I think you
had ordered an incredible number, to be certain of having at least one
or two serviceable."
"No; only a dozen, and they all came through without damage."
"You young people, you young people!" murmured the Ambassador, bending
again over the hand presented to him, "what unheard-of things you do."
And so the old man shuffled away, leaving many compliments behind him,
evidently not having the slightest suspicion that he had met anyone but
the person he supposed himself addressing, for his eyesight was not of
the best, and an Ambassador meets many fair and distinguished women.
The girl sat down with calm dignity, while Lord Donal dropped into his
chair, an expression of complete mystification on his clear-cut, honest
face. Jennie slowly fanned herself, for the heat made itself felt at
that elevated situation, and for a few moments nothing was said by
either. The young man was the first to break silence.
"Should I be so fortunate as to get an invitation to the Schloss
Steinheimer, may I hope that a red rocking-chair will be allotted to me?
I have not sat in one since I was in the States."
"Yes, one for you; two for the Ambassador," said Jennie, with a laugh.
"I should like further to flatter myself that your double generosity to
the Ambassador arises solely from the dignity of his office, and is not
in any way personal."
"I am very fond of ambassadors; they are courteous gentlemen who seem to
have less distrust than is exhibited by some not so exalted."
"Distrust! You surely cannot mean that I have distrusted you, Princess?"
"Oh, I was speaking generally," replied Jennie airily. "You seem to seek
a personal application in what I say."
"I admit, Princess, that several times this evening I have been
completely at sea."
"And what is worse, Lord Donal, you have shown it, which is the one
unforgivable fault in diplomacy."
"You are quite right. If I had you to teach me, I would be an ambassador
within the next five years, or at least a minister."
The girl looked at him over the top of her fan, covert merriment lurking
in her eyes.
"When you visit Schloss Steinheimer you might ask the Prince if he
objects to my giving you lessons."
Here there was another interruption, and the announcement was made that
the United States Ambassador desired to renew his acquaintance with
the Princess von Steinheimer. Lord Donal made use of an impatient
exclamation more emphatic than he intended to give utterance to, but on
looking at his companion in alarm, he saw in her glance a quick flash of
gratitude as unmistakable as if she had spoken her thanks. It was quite
evident that the girl had no desire to meet his Excellency, which is not
to be wondered at, as she had already encountered him three times in her
capacity of journalist. He not only knew the Princess von Steinheimer,
but he knew Jennie Baxter as well.
She leaned back in her chair and said wearily,--
"I seem to be having rather an abundance of diplomatic society this
evening. Are you acquainted with the American Ambassador also, Lord
"Yes," cried the young man, eagerly springing to his feet. "He was a
prominent politician in Washington while I was there. He is an excellent
man, and I shall have no difficulty in making your excuses to him if you
don't wish to meet him."
"Thank you so much. You have now an opportunity of retrieving your
diplomatic reputation, if you can postpone the interview without
Lord Donal departed with alacrity, and the moment he was gone all
appearance of languor vanished from Miss Jennie Baxter.
"Now is my chance," she whispered to herself. "I must be in my carriage
before he returns."
Eager as she was to be gone, she knew that she should betray no haste.
Expecting to find a stair at the other end of the gallery, she sought
for it, but there was none. Filled with apprehension that she would meet
Lord Donal coming up, she had difficulty in timing her footsteps to the
slow measure that was necessary. She reached the bottom of the stair in
safety and unimpeded, but once on the main floor a new problem presented
itself. Nothing would attract more attention than a young and beautiful
lady walking the long distance between the gallery end of the room and
the entrance stairway entirely alone and unattended. She stood there
hesitating, wondering whether she could venture on finding a quiet
side-exit, which she was sure must exist in this large house, when, to
her dismay, she found Lord Donal again at her side, rather breathless,
as if he had been hurrying in search of her. His brows were knit and
there was an anxious expression on his face.
"I must have a word with you alone," he whispered. "Let me conduct you
to this alcove under the gallery." "No; I am tired. I am going home."
"I quite understand that, but you must come with me for a moment."
"Must?" she said, with a suggestion of defiance in her tone.
"Yes," he answered gravely. "I wish to be of assistance to you. I think
you will need it."
For a moment she met his unflinching gaze steadily, then her glance
fell, and she said in a low voice, "Very well."
When they reached the alcove, she inquired rather quaveringly--for she
saw something had happened which had finally settled all the young man's
doubts--"Is it the American Ambassador?"
"No; there was little trouble there. He expects to meet you later in the
evening. But a telegraphic message has come from Meran, signed by the
Princess von Steinheimer, which expresses a hope that the ball will be a
success, and reiterates the regret of her Highness that she could not be
present. Luckily this communication has not been shown to the Duchess.
I told the Duke, who read it to me, knowing I had been with you all the
evening, that it was likely a practical joke on the part of the Prince;
but the Duke, who is rather a serious person, does not take kindly
to that theory, and if he knew the Prince he would dismiss it as
absurd--which it is. I have asked him not to show the telegram to
anyone, so there is a little time for considering what had best be
"There is nothing for me to do but to take my leave as quickly and
as quietly as possible," said the girl, with a nervous little laugh
bordering closely on the hysterical. "I was about to make my way out by
some private exit if I could find one."
"That would be impossible, and the attempt might lead to unexpected
complications. I suggest that you take my arm, and that you bid farewell
to her Grace, pleading fatigue as the reason for your early departure.
Then I will see you to your carriage, and when I return I shall
endeavour to get that unlucky telegram from the Duke by telling him
I should like to find out whether it is a hoax or not. He will have
forgotten about it most likely in the morning. Therefore, all you have
to do is to keep up your courage for a few moments longer until you are
safe in your carriage."
"You are very kind," she murmured, with downcast eyes.
"You are very clever, my Princess, but the odds against you were
tremendous. Some time you must tell me why you risked it."
She made no reply, but took his arm, and together they sauntered through
the rooms until they found the Duchess, when Jennie took her leave of
the hostess with a demure dignity that left nothing to be desired. All
went well until they reached the head of the stair, when the Duke, an
ominous frown on his brow, hurried after them and said,--
"My lord, excuse me."
Lord Donal turned with an ill-concealed expression of impatience, but he
was helpless, for he feared his host might not have the good sense to
avoid a scene even in his own hall. Had it been the Duchess, all would
have been well, for she was a lady of infinite tact, but the Duke, as he
had said, was a stupid man, who needed the constant eye of his wife upon
him to restrain him from blundering. The young man whispered, "Keep
right on until you are in your carriage. I shall ask my man here to call
it for you, but please don't drive away until I come."
A sign brought a serving man up the stairs.
"Call the carriage of the Princess von Steinheimer," said his master;
then, as the lady descended the stair, Lord Donal turned, with no very
thankful feeling in his heart, to hear what his host had to say.
"Lord Donal, the American Ambassador says that woman is not the Princess
von Steinheimer, but is someone of no importance whom he has met several
times in London. He cannot remember her name. Now, who is she, and how
did you come to meet her?"
"My Lord Duke, it never occurred to me to question the identity of
guests I met under your hospitable roof. I knew the Princess five years
ago in Washington, before she was married. I have not seen her in the
interval, but until you showed me the telegraphic message there was no
question in my mind regarding her."
"But the American Ambassador is positive."
"Then he has more confidence in his eyesight than I have. If such a
question, like international difficulties, is to be settled by the
Embassies, let us refer it to Austria, who held a long conversation with
the lady in my presence. Your Excellency," he continued to the Austrian
Ambassador, who was hovering near, waiting to speak to his host, "The
Duke of Chiselhurst has some doubt that the lady who has just departed
is the Princess von Steinheimer. You spoke with her, and can therefore
decide with authority, for his Grace seems disinclined to accept my
"Not the Princess? Nonsense. I know her very well indeed, and a most
charming lady she is. I hope to be her guest again before many months
"There, my Lord Duke, you see everything is as it should be. If you will
give me that stupid telegram, I will make some quiet inquiries about it.
Meanwhile, the less said the better. I will see the American Ambassador
and convince him of his error. And now I must make what excuses I can to
the Princess for my desertion of her."
Placing the telegram in his pocket, he hurried down the stair and out to
the street. There had been some delay about the coming of the carriage,
and he saw the lady he sought, at that moment entering it.
"Home at once as fast as you can," he heard her say to the coachman. She
had evidently no intention of waiting for him. He sprang forward, thrust
his arm through the carriage window, and grasped her hand.
"Princess," he cried, "you will not leave me like this. I must see you
"No, no," she gasped, shrinking into the corner of the carriage.
"You cannot be so cruel. Tell me at least where a letter will reach you.
I shall not release your hand until you promise."
With a quick movement the girl turned back the gauntlet of her long
glove; the next instant the carriage was rattling down the street, while
a chagrined young man stood alone on the kerb with a long, slender white
glove in his hand.
"By Jove!" he said at last, as he folded it carefully and placed it
in the pocket of his coat. "It is the glove this time, instead of the
JENNIE REALIZES THAT GREAT EVENTS CAST THEIR SHADOWS BEHIND.
Jennie Baxter reached her hotel as quickly as a fast pair of horses
could take her. She had succeeded; yet a few rebellious tears of
disappointment trickled down her cheeks now that she was alone in the
semi-darkness of the carriage. She thought of the eager young man left
standing disconsolately on the kerb, with her glove dangling in his
hand, and she bitterly regretted that unkind fortune had made it
possible for her to meet him only under false pretences. One consolation
was that he had no clue to her identity, and she was resolved never,
never to see him again; yet, such is the contrariness of human nature,
no sooner was she refreshed by this determination than her tears flowed
more freely than ever.
She knew that she was as capable of enjoying scenes like the function
she had just left as any who were there; as fitted for them by
education, by personal appearance, or by natural gifts of the mind, as
the most welcome of the Duchess's guests; yet she was barred out from
them as effectually as was the lost Peri at the closed gate. Why had
capricious fate selected two girls of probably equal merit, and made one
a princess, while the other had to work hard night and day for the mere
right to live? Nothing is so ineffectual as the little word "why"; it
asks, but never answers.
With a deep sigh Jennie dried her tears as the carriage pulled up at
the portal of the hotel. The sigh dismissed all frivolities, all futile
"whys"; the girl was now face to face with the realities of life, and
the events she had so recently taken part in would soon blend themselves
into a dream.
Dismissing the carriage, and walking briskly through the hall, she said
to the night porter,--
"Have a hansom at the door for me in fifteen minutes."
"A hansom, my lady?" gasped the astonished man.
"Yes." She slipped a sovereign into his hand and ran lightly up the
stairs. The porter was well accustomed to the vagaries of great ladies,
although a hansom at midnight was rather beyond his experience. But if
all womankind tipped so generously, they might order an omnibus, and
welcome; so the hansom was speedily at the door.
Jennie roused the drowsy maid who was sitting up for her.
"Come," she said, "you must get everything packed at once. Lay out my
ordinary dress and help me off with this."
"Where is your other glove, my lady?" asked the maid, busily unhooking,
"Lost. Don't trouble about it. When everything is packed, get some
sleep, and leave word to be called in time for the eight o'clock express
for Paris. Here is money to pay the bill and your fare. It is likely I
shall join you at the station; but if I do not, go to our hotel in Paris
and wait for me there. Say nothing of our destination to anyone, and
answer no questions regarding me, should inquiries be made. Are you sure
"Yes, my lady." A few moments later Jennie was in the cab, driving
through the nearly deserted streets. She dismissed her vehicle at
Charing Cross, walked down the Strand until she got another, then
proceeded direct to the office of the _Daily Bugle_, whose upper windows
formed a row of lights, all the more brilliant because of the intense
She found the shorthand writers waiting for her. The editor met her at
the door of the room reserved for her, and said, with visible anxiety on
his brow, "Well, what success?"
"Complete success," she answered shortly.
"Good!" he replied emphatically. "Now I propose to read the typewritten
sheets as they come from the machine, correct them for obvious clerical
errors, and send them right away to the compositors. You can, perhaps,
glance over the final proofs, which will be ready almost as soon as you
"Very well. Look closely to the spelling of proper names and verify
titles. There won't be much time for me to go carefully over the last
"All right. You furnish the material, and I'll see that it's used to the
Jennie entered the room, and there at a desk sat the waiting
stenographer; over his head hung the bulb of an electric light, its
green circular shade throwing the white rays directly down on his open
notebook. The girl was once more in the working world, and its bracing
air acted as a tonic to her overwrought nerves. All longings and regrets
had been put off with the Paris-made gown which the maid at that moment
was carefully packing away. The order of nature seemed reversed; the
butterfly had abandoned its gorgeous wings of gauze, and was habited in
the sombre working garb of the grub. With her hands clasped behind her,
the girl paced up and down the room, pouring forth words, two hundred to
the minute, and sometimes more. Silently one stenographer, tiptoeing in,
replaced another, who as silently departed; and from the adjoining room,
the subdued, nervous, rapid click, click, click of the typewriting
machine invaded, without disturbing, her consciousness. Towards three
o'clock the low drone of the rotaries in the cellar made itself felt
rather than heard; the early edition for the country was being run off.
Time was flying--danced away by nimble feet in the West End, worked away
by nimble fingers in Fleet Street (well-named thoroughfare); play and
work, work and play, each supplementing the other; the acts of the
frivolous recorded by the industrious.
When a little more than three hours' dictating was finished, the voice
of the girl, now as hoarse as formerly it had been musical, ceased; she
dropped into a chair and rested her tired head on the deserted desk,
closing her wearied eyes. She knew she had spoken between 15,000 and
20,000 words, a number almost equal in quantity to that contained in
many a book which had made an author's fame and fortune. And all for the
ephemeral reading of a day--of a forenoon, more likely--to be forgotten
when the evening journals came out!
Shortly after the typewriter gave its final click the editor came in.
"I didn't like to disturb you while you were at work, and so I kept at
my own task, which was no light one, and thus I appreciate the enormous
strain that has rested on you. Your account is magnificent, Miss Baxter;
just what I wanted, and never hoped to get." "I am glad you liked it,"
said the girl, laughing somewhat dismally at the croaking sound of her
"I need not ask you if you were there, for no person but one who was
present, and one who knew how to describe, could have produced such a
vivid account of it all. How did you get in?"
"In where?" murmured Jennie drowsily. She found difficulty in keeping
her mind on what he was saying.
"To the Duchess of Chiselhurst's ball."
"Oh, getting in was easy enough; it was the getting out that was the
"Like prison, eh?" suggested the editor. "Now, will you have a little
wine, or something stronger?"
"No, no. All I need is rest."
"Then let me call a cab; I will see you home, if you will permit me."
"I am too tired to go home; I shall remain here until morning."
"Nonsense. You must go home and sleep for a week if you want to. Rouse
up; I believe you are talking in your sleep now."
"I understand perfectly what you are saying and what I am doing. I have
work that must be attended to at eight. Please leave orders that someone
is to call me at seven and bring a cup of coffee and biscuits, or rolls,
or anything that is to be had at that hour. And please don't trouble
further. I am very thankful to you, but will express myself better later
With this the editor had to be content, and was shortly on his way to
his own well-earned rest. To Jennie it seemed but a moment after he had
gone, that the porter placed coffee and rolls on the desk beside her
saying, "Seven o'clock, miss!"
The coffee refreshed the girl, and as she passed through the editorial
rooms she noted their forlorn, dishevelled appearance, which all places
show when seen at an unaccustomed hour, their time of activity and
bustle past. The rooms were littered with torn papers; waste-baskets
overflowing; looking silent, scrappy, and abandoned in the grey morning
light which seemed intrusive, usurping the place of the usual artificial
illumination, and betraying a bareness which the other concealed. Jennie
recognized a relationship between her own up-all-night feeling and the
spirit of the deserted rooms.
At the railway station she found her maid waiting for her, surrounded by
"Have you got your ticket?"
"Yes, my lady."
"I have changed my mind, and will not go to Paris just now. Ask a porter
to pat those trunks in the left-luggage office, and bring me the keys
and the receipt."
When this was done and money matters had been adjusted between them,
Jennie gave the girl five pounds more than was due to her, and saw
her into the railway carriage, well pleased with the reward. A hansom
brought Jennie to her flat, and so ended the exhausting episode of the
Duchess of Chiselhurst's ball.
Yet an event, like a malady, leaves numerous consequences in its train,
extending, who shall say, how far into the future? The first symptom of
these consequences was a correspondence, and, as there is no reading
more dreary than a series of letters, merely their substance is given
here. When Jennie was herself again, she wrote a long letter to
the Princess von Steinheimer, detailing the particulars of her
impersonation, and begging pardon for what she had done, while giving
her reasons for doing it; but, perhaps because it did not occur to her,
she made not the slightest reference to Lord Donal Stirling. Two answers
came to this--one a registered packet containing the diamonds which the
Princess had previously offered to her; the other a letter from the
Princess's own hand. The glitter of the diamonds showed Jennie that she
had been speedily forgiven, and the letter corroborated this. In fact,
the Princess upbraided her for not letting her into the secret earlier.
"It is just the jolly kind of thing I should have delighted in," wrote
her Highness. "And then, if I had known, I should not have sent that
unlucky telegram. It serves you right for not taking me into your
confidence, and I am glad you had a fright. Think of it coming in at
that inopportune moment, just as telegrams do at a play! But, Jennie,
are you sure you told me everything? A letter came from London the day
before yours arrived, and it bewildered me dreadfully at first. Don
Sterling, whom I used to know at Washington (a conceited young fellow he
was then--I hope he has improved since), wrote to say that he had met a
girl at the Duchess of Chiselhurst's ball who had a letter inviting the
Princess von Steinheimer to the festivity. He thought at first she was
the Princess (which is very complimentary to each of us), but found
later that she wasn't. Now he wants to know, you know, and thinks, quite
reasonably, that I must have some inkling who that girl was, and he begs
me, by our old friendship, etc., etc., etc. He is a nice young man, if a
trifle confident (these young diplomatists think they hold the reins of
the universe in their hands), and I should like to oblige him, but I
thought first I would hear what you had to say about it. I am to address
him care of the Embassy at St. Petersburg; so I suppose he's stationed
there now. By the way, how did he get your glove, or is that merely brag
on his part? He says that it is the only clue he has, and he is going to
trace you from that, it seems, if I do not tell him who you are and
send him your address. Now, what am _I_ to say when I write to St.
In reply to this, Jennie sent a somewhat incoherent letter, very
different from her usual style of writing. She had not mentioned the
young man in her former communication, she said, because she had been
trying to forget the incident in which he was the central figure. In no
circumstances could she meet him again, and she implored the Princess
not to disclose her identity to him even by a hint. She explained the
glove episode exactly as it happened; she was compelled to sacrifice
the glove to release her hand. He had been very kind in helping her to
escape from a false position, but it would be too humiliating for her
ever to see him or speak with him again.
When this letter reached the Schloss at Meran, the Princess telegraphed
to London, "Send me the other glove," and Jennie sent it. A few days
later came a further communication from the Princess.
"I have puzzled our young man quite effectually, I think, clever as
he imagines himself to be. I wrote him a semi-indignant letter to St.
Petersburg, and said I thought all along he had not really recognized
me at the ball, in spite of his protestations at first. Then I saw how
easily he was deluded into the belief that I was some other woman, and
so the temptation to cozen him further was irresistible. Am I not a good
actress? I asked him. I went on to say, with some show of anger, that a
quiet flirtation in the gallery was all very well in its way, but when
it came to a young man rushing in a frenzy bare-headed into the street
after a respectable married woman who had just got into her carriage and
was about to drive away, it was too much altogether, and thus he came
into possession of the glove. As the remaining glove was of no use to
me, I had great pleasure in sending it to him, but warned him that if
the story of the gloves ever came to the ears of my husband, I should
deny having either owned or worn them. I should like to see Don's amazed
look when the other glove drops out of my letter, which was a bulky
package and cost ever so much in postage. I think the sending of the
glove was an inspiration. I fancy his lordship will be now completely
deluded, and that you need have no further fear of his finding you."
Jennie read this letter over once or twice, and in spite of her friendly
feeling for the Princess, there was something in the epistle that jarred
on her. Nevertheless she wrote and thanked the Princess for what she had
done, and then she tried to forget all about everything pertaining to
the ball. However, she was not allowed to erase all thought of Lord
Donal from her mind, even if she could have accomplished this task
unimpeded. There shortly arrived a brief note from the Princess
enclosing a letter the young diplomatist at St. Petersburg had written.
"DEAR PRINCESS" (it ran),--"I am very much obliged to you for the
companion glove, as I am thus enabled to keep one and use the other as a
clue. I see you not only know who the mysterious young lady is, but that
you have since met her, or at least have been in correspondence with
her. If the glove does not lead me to the hand, I shall pay a visit to
you in the hope that you will atone for your present cruelty by telling
me where to find the owner of both glove and hand."
With regard to this note the Princess had written, "Don is not such a
fool as I took him to be. He must have improved during the last few
years. I wish you would write and tell me exactly what he said to you
But with this wish Jennie did not comply. She merely again urged the
Princess never to divulge the secret.
For many days Jennie heard nothing more from any of the actors in the
little comedy, and the episode began to take on in her thoughts that air
of unreality which remote events seem to gather round them. She went
on with her daily work to the satisfaction of her employers and the
augmentation of her own banking account, although no experience worthy
of record occurred in her routine for several weeks. But a lull in a
newspaper office is seldom of long duration.
One afternoon Mr. Hardwick came to the desk at which Jennie was at work,
and said to her,--
"Cadbury Taylor called here yesterday, and was very anxious to see you.
Has he been in again this afternoon?"
"You mean the detective? No, I haven't seen him since that day at the
Schloss Steinheimer. What did he want with me?"
"As far as I was able to understand, he has a very important case
on band--a sort of romance in high life; and I think he wants your
assistance to unravel it; it seems to be baffling him." "It is not very
difficult to baffle Mr. Cadbury Taylor," said the girl, looking up at
her employer with a merry twinkle in her eye.
"Well, he appears to be in a fog now, and he expressed himself to me
as being very much taken with the neat way in which you unravelled the
diamond mystery at Meran, so he thinks you may be of great assistance
to him in his present difficulty, and is willing to pay in cash or in
"Cash payment I understand," said the girl, "but what does he mean by
payment in kind?"
"Oh, he is willing that you should make a sensational article out of the
episode, It deals entirely, he says, with persons in high life--titled
persons--and so it might make an interesting column or two for the
"I see--providing, of course, that the tangled skein was unravelled by
the transcendent genius of Mr. Cadbury Taylor," said the girl cynically.
"I don't think he wants his name mentioned," continued the editor; "in
fact, he said that it wouldn't do to refer to him at all, for if people
discovered that he made public any of the cases intrusted to him, he
would lose his business. He has been working on this problem for several
weeks, and I believe has made little progress towards its solution. His
client is growing impatient, so it occurred to the detective that you
might consent to help him. He said, with a good deal of complacency,
that he did not know you were connected with the _Bugle_, but he put his
wits at work and has traced you to this office."
"How clever he is!" said Jennie, laughing; "I am sure I made no secret
of the fact that I work for the _Daily Bugle_."
"I think Mr. Taylor will have no hesitation in agreeing with you that
he is clever; nevertheless, it might be worth while to see him and to
assist him if you can, because nothing so takes the public as a romance
in high life. Here is his address; would you mind calling on him?"
"Not at all," replied the young woman, copying the street and number in
JENNIE ASSISTS IN SEARCHING FOB HERSELF.
Next day Jennie Baxter drove to the address the editor had given her,
and she found Mr. Cadbury Taylor at home, in somewhat sumptuous offices
on the first floor. Fastened to his door was a brass plate, which
exposed to public view the carven words--
Private Enquiry Agent.
The detective was quite evidently very glad to see her.
"I intended calling to-day at the office of the _Bugle_ on the chance of
finding you," he said; "but I am delighted to meet you here, because we
can talk without fear of interruption. Has the editor told you anything
of this case?"
"Very little; he didn't seem to know much about it himself."
"It was impossible for me to go into full particulars with him. I could
only give him a hint or two in order to convey to him some idea of the
interest which the mystery, when solved, might have from a newspaper
standpoint. Of course I wished to gain his assistance so that he might,
perhaps, persuade you to help me in this matter."
"He seems to be quite willing that I should lend what aid I can," said
Jennie; "but I must have full details before I promise. I have a good
deal of work on hand, and, unless this case is interesting from a
newspaper point of view, as you have just said, I don't think that I
should care to touch it."
"Oh, you will find it of great interest," the detective assured her with
much eagerness. "It relates to the sudden and hitherto unexplained
disappearance of a woman. That of itself is absorbing, for I may tell
you, as one having a large experience, that there is nothing more
difficult in this world than for any person, and more especially for a
woman, to disappear entirely and leave no trace behind."
"I should have thought it quite easy," said Jennie, "especially in a
large city like London."
"You have given expression to the universal opinion, but I pledge you my
word that a completely successful disappearance is one of the most
rare events that we detectives have to meet with in our line of
"Please tell me the story," said the girl; "then we can speak more
understandingly about it."
The detective selected a packet of papers, one of many which occupied
the end of his table. He slipped from it a rubber band which held the
"The first act of the drama, if we may call it so, began at the Duchess
of Chiselhurst's ball."
"The Duchess of Chiselhurst's ball!" echoed Jennie, with a shudder. "Oh,
The detective looked up at her.
"Why do you say 'Oh, dear'?" he asked.
"Because," said the girl wearily, "I am tired hearing of the Duchess of
Chiselhurst's ball; there seems to have been nothing else in the papers
for weeks past."
"It has excited a great deal of comment," assented the detective; "and,
by the way, the _Daily Bugle_ had one of the best accounts of it that
was printed in any newspaper."
"So I have heard," said Jennie carelessly, "but I most confess that I
didn't read that copy of the _Bugle_."
"You amaze me! I should have thought that would have been the first part
of the paper to which any lady would turn. However, the report of the
ball has nothing to do with what we have in hand. Now, you remember the
Princess von Steinheimer, at whose castle I first had the pleasure of
"You had the pleasure of meeting me before that," said Jennie, speaking
without giving thought to what she said.
"Really!" cried the detective, dropping his papers on the table; "and
where was that?" "Oh, well, as you have just said--it has nothing to do
with this case. Perhaps I was wrong in saying you saw me; it would be
more correct to say that I saw you. You must remember that you are a
public character, Mr. Taylor."
"Ah, quite so," said the detective complacently, turning to his
documents again. "Now, the Princess von Steinheimer was invited to the
Duchess of Chiselhurst's ball, but she did not attend it."
"Are you sure of that?" said the girl. "I thought her name was among the
list of those present."
"It was in the list, and that is just where our mystery begins. Someone
else attended the ball as the Princess von Steinheimer; it is this
person that I wish to find."
"Ah, then you are employed by the Duke of Chiselhurst?"
"No, I am not, for, strangely enough, I believe the Duke thinks it was
actually the Princess who attended the ball. Only one man knows that the
Princess was not present, one man and two women. Of the latter, one is
the Princess von Steinheimer, and the other, the lady who impersonated
her. The one man is Lord Donal Stirling, of the Diplomatic Service,
whose name is no doubt familiar to you. Lord Donal has done me the
honour to place the case in my hands."
"Why does his lordship wish to find this--this--fraudulent person?"
asked Jennie, speaking slowly and with difficulty.
"Because," said the detective, with the air of a man who knows whereof
he speaks, "he is in love with her."
"What makes you think that?"
"I don't think it, I know it. Listen to his description of her."
The detective chose a paper from among his pile of documents, folded,
labelled, and docketed for reference.
"'The girl is of average height, or perhaps a trifle taller than the
average; carries herself superbly, like a born duchess. Her eyes are of
a deep, velvety black--'"
"Dear me!" cried the girl, "he describes her as if she were a cat!"
"Wait a moment," said the detective.
"I don't see much trace of love in that," continued Jennie breathlessly.
"Wait a moment," repeated the detective. "'They light up and sparkle
with merriment, and they melt into the most entrancing tenderness.'"
"Good gracious!" cried Jennie, rising, "the conceit of the man is
illimitable. Does he mean to intimate that he saw tenderness for himself
in the eyes of a woman he had met for an hour or two?"
"That's just it," said the detective, laughing. "You see the man is head
over ears in love. Please sit down again, Miss Baxter, and listen. I
know this sentimental kind of writing must be irksome to a practical
woman like yourself, but in our business we cannot neglect even the
slightest detail. Let's see, where was I?--'tenderness,' oh, yes. 'Her
hair is of midnight darkness, inclined to ripple, with little whiffs of
curls imperiously defying restraint about her temples. Her complexion is
as pure as the dawn, touched now and then with a blush as delicate as
the petal of a rose.'"
"Absurd!" cried Jennie impatiently. "The complexion of a woman at a
ball! Of course, she put it on for the occasion."
"Of course," agreed the detective. "But that merely shows you how deeply
in love he is. Lord Donal is quite a young man. He came up to this room
to consult with me, and certainly he doesn't know the difference between
a complexion developed in a Surrey lane and one purchased in New Bond
"Still, the blushing would seem to indicate that the complexion was
genuine," retorted Jennie, apparently quite unflattered by Mr. Taylor's
agreement with the theory she herself had put forward.
"Oh, I don't know about that. I believe modern science enables an
enamelled woman to blush at will; I wouldn't be sure of it, because it
is outside of my own line of investigation, but I have understood such
is the case."
"Very likely," assented Jennie. "What is that you have at the bottom of
"That," said the detective, drawing it forth and handing it to the girl,
"is her glove."
Jennie picked up the glove--which, alas! she had paid for and only
worn on one occasion--and smoothed it out between her fingers. It was
docketed "G; made by Gaunt et Cie, Boulevard Hausmann; purchased in
Paris by one alleging herself to be the Princess von Steinheimer."
"You have found out all about it," said Jennie, as she finished reading
"Yes, it is our business to do so; but the glove has not been of much
assistance to us."
"How did he say he became possessed of the glove?" asked the girl
innocently. "Did she give it to him?"
"No; he tore it from her hand as she was leaving him in the carriage. It
seemed to me a most ungentlemanly thing to do, but of course it was not
my business to tell Lord Donal that."
"So the glove has not been of much assistance to you. Tell me, then,
what you have done, and perhaps I shall be the better able to advise
"We have done everything that suggested itself. We traced the alleged
Princess from the Hotel Bristol in Pans to Claridge's in London. I have
a very clever woman in Paris who assisted me, and she found where the
gloves were bought and where the dress was made. Did I read you Lord
Donal's description of the lady's costume?"
"No, never mind that; go on with your story."
"Well, Claridge's provided carriage, coachman and footman to take her to
the ball, and this returned with her sometime about midnight. Now, here
a curious thing happened. The lady ordered a hansom as she passed the
night-porter and shortly after packed off her maid in the cab."
"Her maid!" echoed Jennie.
"Yes. The maid came down in ordinary street dress shortly after, deeply
veiled, and drove away in the hansom; the lady paid her bill next
morning and went to the eight o'clock Paris express, with carriage and
pair, coachman and footman. Of course it struck me that it might be the
lady herself who had gone off in the cab, but a moment's reflection
showed me that she was not likely to leave the hotel in a cab at
midnight, and allow her maid to take the carriage in state next
"That doesn't appear reasonable," murmured Jennie. "You made no attempt,
then, to trace the maid?"
"Oh yes, we did. We found the cabman who took her from Claridge's,
and he left her at Charing Cross Station, but there all trace of her
vanishes. She probably left on one of the late trains--there are only a
few after midnight--to some place out in the country. The lady took a
first-class ticket to Paris, and departed alone next morning by the
eight o'clock Continental express. My assistant discovered her and took
a snapshot of her as she was walking down the boulevard; here is the
The detective handed Miss Baxter an instantaneous view of one of the
boulevards taken in bright sunshine. The principal figure in the
foreground Jennie had no difficulty in recognizing as her own maid,
dressed in that _chic_ fashion which Parisian women affect.
"She seems to answer the description," said Jennie.
"So I thought," admitted the detective, "and I sent the portrait to Lord
Donal. See what he has written on the back."
Jennie turned the picture over, and there under the inscription, "H.
Supposed photo of the missing woman," was written in a bold hand, "Bosh!
Bead my description of the girl; this is evidently some Paris lady's
"Well, what did you do when you got this picture back?" asked Jennie.
"I remembered you, and went to the office of the _Daily Bugle_. This
brings us to the present moment. You have now the whole story, and I
shall be very pleased to listen to any suggestions you are good enough
The girl sat where she was for a few moments and pondered over the
situation. The detective, resting his elbow on the table and his chin in
his hand, regarded her with eager anticipation. The more Jennie thought
over the matter, the more she was amazed at the man before her, who
seemed unable to place two and two together. He had already spoken of
the account of the ball which had appeared in the _Daily Bugle_; of
its accuracy and its excellence; he knew that she was a member of the
_Bugle_ staff, yet it had never occurred to him to inquire who wrote
that description; he knew also that she had been a guest at the Schloss
Steinheimer when the invitation to the ball must have reached the
Princess. These facts were so plainly in evidence that the girl was
afraid to speak lest some chance word would form the connecting link
between the detective's mind and the seemingly palpable facts. At last
she looked up, the colour coming and going in her cheeks, as Lord Donal
had so accurately described it.
"I don't think I can be of any assistance to you in this crisis, Mr.
Taylor. You have already done everything that human ingenuity can
"Yes, I have--everything that _my_ human ingenuity can suggest. But does
nothing occur to you? have you no theory to put forward?"
"None that would be of any practical advantage. Is Lord Donal certain
that it was not the Princess herself whom he met? Are you thoroughly
convinced that there was really an impersonation?"
"What do you mean, Miss Baxter?"
"Well, you met Prince von Steinheimer; what do you think of him?"
"I thought him an overbearing, bully, if you ask me. I can't imagine
what English or American girls see in those foreigners to cause them
to marry. It is the titles, I suppose. The Prince was very
violent--practically ordered me out of the Castle, spoke to his
father-in-law in the most peremptory manner, and I could easily see the
Princess was frightened out of her wits."
"A very accurate characterization of his Highness, Mr. Taylor. Now, of
course, the Princess being a woman--and a young woman--would naturally
be very anxious to attend the Duchess of Chiselhurst's ball, wouldn't
"One would think so."
"And, as you have just said, she has a bear of a husband, a good deal
older than herself, who does not in the least care for such functions as
that to which the Princess was invited. Is it not quite possible that
the Princess actually attended the ball, but, for reasons of her own,
desired to keep the fact of her presence there a secret; and you must
remember that Lord Donal Stirling had not seen the Princess for five
"For five years?" said the detective sharply. "How did you learn that,
"Well, you know," murmured the girl, with a gasp, "he met her last in
Washington, and the Princess has not been in America for five years; so
"Oh, I was not aware that he had met her in America at all; in fact,
Lord Donal said nothing much about the Princess--all his talk had
reference to this lady who impersonated her."
Jennie leaned back in her chair, closed her eyes for a moment, and
"I am afraid," she said at last, "that I do not remember with sufficient
minuteness the details you have given me, to be able to advise. I can
only suggest that Lord Donal met the Princess herself at the Duchess of
Chiselhurst's ball. The Princess, naturally, would wish to mislead
him regarding her identity; and so, if he had not met her for some
time--say two years, or three years, or five years, or whatever the
period may be--it is quite possible that the Princess has changed
greatly in the interval, and perhaps she was not reluctant to carry on
a flirtation with the young man--your client. Of course, she could not
allow it to go further than the outside of the door of the Duke of
Chiselhurst's town house, for you must remember there was her husband
in the background--a violent man, as you have said; and Lord Donal must
have thoroughly angered the Princess by what you term his rudeness in
tearing off her glove; and now the Princess will never admit that she
was at the ball, so it seems to me that you are wasting your time in a
wild goose chase. Why, it is absurd to think, if there had been a real
disappearing woman, that you, with all your experience and all your
facilities, should not have unearthed her long ago. You said at the
beginning that nothing was more difficult than to disappear. Very well,
then--why have you been baffled? Simply because the Princess herself
attended the ball, and there has been no disappearing lady at all."
The detective, with great vehemence, brought down his fist on the table.
"By Jove!" he cried, "I believe you are right. I have been completely
blinded, the more so that I have the clue to the mystery right here
under my own eyes."
He fumbled for a moment and brought forth a letter from his pile of
"Here is a note from St. Petersburg, written by Lord Donal himself,
saying the Princess had sent him the companion glove to the one you
now have in your hand. He says he is sure the Princess knows who her
impersonator was, but that she won't tell; and, although I had read this
note, it never struck me that the Princess herself was the woman. Miss
Baxter, you have solved the puzzle!"
"I should be glad to think so," replied the girl, rising, "and I am very
happy if I have enabled you to give up a futile chase."
"It is as plain as daylight," replied the detective. "Lord Donal's
description fits the Princess exactly, and yet I never thought of her
Jennie hurried away from the detective's office, happy in the belief
that she had not betrayed herself, although she was not blind to the
fact that her escape was due more to good luck than to any presence of
mind of her own, which had nearly deserted her at one or two points in
the conversation. When Mr. Hardwick saw her, he asked how much, space he
should have to reserve for the romance in high life; but she told him
there was nothing in the case, so far as she could see, to interest any
Here matters rested for a fortnight; then the girl received an urgent
note from Cadbury Taylor, asking her to call at his office next day
promptly at four o'clock. It was very important, he said, and he hoped
she would on no account disappoint him. Jennie's first impulse was not
to go, but she was so anxious to learn what progress the detective had
made in the case, fearing that at last he might have got on the right
track, that she felt it would be unwise to take the risk of not seeing
him. If his suspicions were really aroused, her absence might possibly
serve to confirm them. Exactly at four o'clock next afternoon she
entered his office and found him, to her relief, alone. He sprang up
from his table on seeing her, and said in a whisper, "I am so glad you
have come. I am in rather a quandary. Lord Donal Starling is in London
on a flying visit. He called here yesterday."
The girl caught her breath, but said nothing.
"I explained to him the reasons I have for believing that it was
actually the Princess von Steinheimer whom he met at the Duchess of
Chiselhurst's ball. He laughed at me; there was no convincing him. He
said that theory was more absurd than the sending him a picture of
a housemaid as that of the lady he met at the ball. I used an the
arguments which you had used, but he brushed them aside as of no
consequence, and somehow the case did not appear to be as clear as when
you propounded your theory."
"Well, what then?" asked the girl.
"Why, then I asked him to come up here at four o'clock and hear what an
assistant of mine would say about the case."
"At four o'clock!" cried the girl in terror; "then he may be here at any
"He is here now; he is in the next room. Come in, and I will introduce
you, and then I want you to tell him all the circumstances which lead
you to believe that it was the Princess herself whom he met. I am sure
you can place all the points before him so tersely that you will succeed
in bringing him round to your own way of thinking. You will try, won't
you, Miss Baxter? It will be a very great obligement to me."
"Oh, no, no, no!" cried the girl; "I am not going to admit to anyone
that I have been acting as a detective's assistant. You had no right to
bring me here. I must go at once. If I had known this I would not have
"It won't take you five minutes," pleaded Cadbury Taylor. "He is at this
moment waiting for you; I told him you would be here at four."
"I can't help that; you had no right to make an appointment for me
without my knowledge and consent."
Taylor was about to speak when the door-handle of the inner room turned.
"I say, detective," remarked Lord Donal, in a voice of some irritation,
"you should have assistants who are more punctual. I am a very busy man,
and must leave for St. Petersburg to-night, so I can't spend all my time
in your office, you know."
"I am sure I beg your pardon, my lord," said the detective with great
obsequiousness. "This young lady has some objections to giving her
views, but I am sure you will be able to persuade her--"
He turned, but the place at his side was vacant. The door to the hall
was open, and the girl had escaped as she saw the handle of the inner
door turn. Taylor looked blankly at his client with dropped jaw. Lord
"Your assistant seems to have disappeared as completely as did the lady
at the ball. Why not set your detectives on _her_ track? Perhaps she
will prove to be the person I am in search of."
"I am very sorry, my lord," stammered the detective.
"Oh, don't mention it. I am sure you have done all that could be done
with the very ineffective clues which unfortunately are our only
possession, but you are quite wrong in thinking it was the Princess
herself who attended the ball, and I don't blame your assistant for
refusing to bolster up an impossible case. We will consider the search
ended, and if you will kindly let me have your bill at the Diplomatic
Club before six o'clock to-night, I will send you a cheque. Good
afternoon, Mr. Taylor."
JENNIE ELUDES AN OFFER OF MARRIAGE.
As Jennie rapidly hurried away from the office of Mr. Cadbury Taylor,
there arose in her mind some agitation as to what the detective would
think of her sudden flight. She was convinced that, up to the moment of
leaving him so abruptly, he had not the slightest suspicion she herself,
to whom he was then talking, was the person he had been searching for up
and down Europe. What must he think of one who, while speaking with him,
suddenly, without a word of leave-taking, disappeared as if the earth
had opened and swallowed her, and all because the handle of the door to
the inner room had turned? Then the excuse she had given for not wishing
to meet Lord Donal must have struck him as ridiculously inadequate.
When she reached her desk and reflected with more calmness over
the situation, she found no cause to censure herself for her hasty
departure; although she had acted on impulse, she saw there had been
nothing else to do; another moment and she would have been face to face
with Lord Donal himself.
Next day brought a note from the detective which went far to reassure
her. He apologized for having made the appointment without her
permission, and explained that Lord Donal's unexpected arrival in
London, and his stubborn unbelief that it had been the Princess herself
whom he met at the ball, seemingly left the detective no alternative out
to call on the person who had so persistently advanced the theory, to
explain it to the one most intimately concerned. It had not occurred
to him at the time to think that Miss Baxter might object to meet Lord
Donal, who was an entire stranger to her; but now he saw that he was
wrong, etc., etc., etc. This note did much to convince Jennie that,
after all, the detective had not seen the clues which appeared to be
spread so plainly before his eyes. Cadbury Taylor, however, said nothing
about the search being ended, and a few days later Jennie received a
disquieting letter from the Princess von Steinheimer.
"My dear Jennie," her Highness wrote, "I am sure the detectives are
after you, and so I thought it best to send you a word of warning. Of
course it is only surmise on my part, but for days there has been a
woman hovering about the castle, trying to get information from my
servants. My maid came directly to me and told me what she knew. The
woman detective had spoken to her. This inquisitive person, who had come
from Paris, wished particularly to know whether I had been seen about
the castle during the week in which the Duchess of Chiselhurst's ball
took place; and so this leads me to suppose that some one is making
inquiries for you. It must be either Lord Donal Stirling or the Duke
of Chiselhurst, but I rather think it is the former. I have written an
indignant letter to Lord Donal, accusing him of having caused detectives
to haunt the castle. I have not yet received a reply, but Lord Donal is
a truthful person, and in a day or two I expect to find out whether or
not he has a hand in this business. Meanwhile, Jennie, be on your guard,
and I will write you again as soon as I have something further to tell."
The reading of this letter greatly increased Jennie's fears, for she
felt assured that, stupid as the men undoubtedly were, they verged so
closely on the brink of discovery, they were almost certain to stumble
upon the truth if the investigation was continued. She wrote a
hurried note to the Princess, imploring her to be cautious, and not
inadvertently give any clue that would lead to her discovery. Her
letter evidently crossed one from the Princess herself. Lord Donal had
confessed, said the letter, and promised never, never to do it again.
"He says that before my letter was received he had stopped the
detectives, who were doing no good and apparently only annoying innocent
people. He says the search is ended, as far as the detective is
concerned, and that I need fear no more intrusions from inquiry agents,
male or female. He apologized very handsomely, but says he has not given
up hopes of finding the lady who disappeared. And now, Jennie, I trust
that you will admit my cleverness. You see that I had only a word or
two from my maid as a clue, but I unravelled the whole plot and at once
discovered who was the instigator of it, so I think I wouldn't make a
bad detective myself. I am tremendously interested in episodes like
this. I believe if I had known nothing of the impersonation, and if the
case had been put in my hands, I should have discovered you long ago.
Can't you think of some way in which my undoubted talent for research
may be made use of? You don't know how much I envy you in your newspaper
office, always with an absorbing mystery on hand to solve. It must be
like being the editor of a puzzle department. I wish you would let me
help you next time you have anything important to do. Will you promise?
"When you write again, please send your letter to Vienna, as we are
going into residence there, my husband having been unexpectedly called
to the capital. He holds an important position in the Government, as
perhaps you remember."
Jennie was delighted to know that all inquiry had ceased, and she wrote
a long letter of gratitude to the Princess. She concluded her epistle by
saying: "It is perfectly absurd of you to envy one who has to work as
hard as I. You are the person to be envied. It is not all beer and
skittles in a newspaper office, which is a good thing, for I don't like
beer, and I don't know what skittles is or are. But I promise you that
the next time I have an interesting case on hand I shall write and
give you full particulars, and I am sure that together we shall be
But one trouble leaves merely to give place to another in this life.
Jennie was disturbed to notice that Mr. Hardwick was becoming more and
more confidential with her. He sat down by her desk whenever there was
a reasonable excuse for doing so, and he consulted her on matters
important and on matters trivial. An advance of salary came to her,
and she knew it was through his influence with the board of directors.
Although Mr. Hardwick was sharp and decisive in business matters, he
proved an awkward man where his affections were concerned, and he often
came and sat by the girl's desk, evidently wishing to say something, and
yet quite as evidently having nothing to say; and thus the situation
became embarrassing. Jennie was a practical girl and had no desire to
complicate the situation by allowing her employer to fall in love with
her, yet it was impossible to go to him and ask that his attentions
might be limited strictly to a business basis. The crisis, however,
was brought on by Mr. Hardwick himself. One day, when they were alone
together, he said abruptly,--
"That romance in high life which you were investigating with Mr. Cadbury
Taylor did not come to anything?"
"No, Mr. Hardwick."
"Then don't you think we might enact a romance in high life in this very
room; it is high enough from the street to entitle it to be called a
romance in high life," and the editor grinned uneasily, like an unready
man who hopes to relieve a dilemma by a poor joke.
Jennie, however, did not laugh and did not look up at him, but continued
to scribble shorthand notes on the paper before her.
"Ah, Mr. Hardwick!" she said with a sigh, "I see you have discovered my
secret, although I had hoped to conceal it even from your alert eyes.
I am, indeed, in the situation of _Ralph Rackstraw_ in 'Pinafore,' 'I
love, and love, alas! above my station,' and now that you know half, you
may as well know all. It arose out of that unfortunate ball given by the
Duchess of Chiselhurst which will haunt me all the rest of my life, I
fear," said Jennie, still without looking up. Mr. Hardwick smothered an
ejaculation and was glad that the girl's eyes were not upon him. There
was a pause of a few moments' duration between them. He took the path
which was left open to him, fondly flattering himself that, while he
had stumbled inadvertently upon her romance, he had kept his own secret
"I--I have no right to intrude on your confidences, Miss Baxter,"
he said finally with an effort, "and I hope you will excuse me
"Oh! I have been sure for some days you knew it," interrupted the girl,
looking up, but not at him. "I have been neglecting my work, I fear, and
so you were quite right in speaking."
"No, your work is all right; it wasn't that exactly--but never mind, we
won't speak of this any more, for I see it embarrasses you."
"Thank you, Mr. Hardwick," said Jennie, again bending her eyes on the
desk before her.
The man saw the colour come and go in her cheeks, and thought he had
never beheld anyone so entrancing. He rose quickly, without making
further attempt at explanation, and left the room. One or two tear drops
stained the paper on which the girl was scribbling. She didn't like
giving pain to anyone, but could not hold herself to blame for what
had happened, She made up her mind to leave the _Daily Bugle_ and seek
employment elsewhere, but next day Mr. Hardwick showed no trace of
disappointment, and spoke to her with that curt imperiousness which had
heretofore been his custom.
"Miss Baxter," he said, "have you been reading the newspapers with any
degree of attention lately?"
"Yes, Mr. Hardwick."
"Have you been watching the drift of foreign politics?"
"Do you refer to that speech by the Prime Minister of Austria a week or
"Yes, that is what I have in my mind. As you know, then, it amounted
almost to a declaration of war against England--almost, but not quite.
It was a case of saying too much or of not saying enough; however, it
was not followed up, and the Premier has been as dumb as a graven image
ever since. England has many enemies in different parts of the world,
but I must confess that this speech by the Austrian Premier came as a
surprise. There must have been something hidden, which is not visible
from the outside. The Premier is too astute a man not to know exactly
what his words meant, and he was under no delusion as to the manner in
which England would take them. It is a case, then, of, 'When I was so
quickly done for, I wonder what I was begun for'--that is what all
Europe is asking."
"Is it not generally, supposed, Mr. Hardwick, that his object was to
consolidate Austria and Hungary? I understood that local politics were
at the bottom of his fiery speech."
"Quite so, but the rousing of the war spirit in Austria and Hungary was
useless unless that spirit is given something to do. It needs a war, not
a threat of war, to consolidate Austria and Hungary. If the speech had
been followed up by hostile action, or by another outburst that would
make war inevitable, I could understand it. The tone of the speech
indicates that the Prime Minister meant business at the time he gave
utterance to it. Something has occurred meanwhile to change the
situation, and what that something is, all the newspapers in Europe have
been trying to find out. We have had our regular Vienna representative
at work ever since the words were uttered, and for the past two weeks
he has been assisted by one of the cleverest men I could send him from
London; but up to date, both have failed. Now I propose that you go
quietly to Vienna; I shall not let either of the men know you are
investigating the affair at which they have laboured with such little
success; for both are good men, and I do not want to discourage either
of them; still, above all things, I wish to have the solution of this
mystery. So it occurred to me last night that you might succeed where
others had failed. What do you think of it?"
"I am willing to try," said Miss Baxter, as there flashed across her
mind an idea that here was a case in which the Princess von Steinheimer
could be of the greatest assistance to her.
"It has been thought," went on the editor, "that the Emperor is
extremely adverse to having trouble with England or any other country.
Still, if that were the case, a new Cabinet would undoubtedly have been
formed after this intemperate address of the Premier; but this man still
holds his office, and there has been neither explanation nor apology
from Court or Cabinet. I am convinced that there is something behind all
this, a wheel within a wheel of some sort, because, the day after the
speech, there came a rumour from Vienna that an attempt had been made on
the life of the Emperor or of the Premier; it was exceedingly vague, but
it was alleged that a dynamite explosion had taken place in the
palace. This was promptly contradicted, but we all know what official
contradictions amount to. There is internal trouble of some kind at
the Court of Vienna, and if we could publish the full details, such an
article would give us a European reputation. When could you be ready to
begin your journey, Miss Baxter?"
"I am ready now."
"Well, in an affair like this it is best to lose no time; you can go
to-morrow morning, then?"
"Oh, certainly, but I must leave the office at once, and you should get
someone to finish the work I am on."
"I will attend to that," said the editor.
Thus relieved, Jennie betook herself to a telegraph office. She knew
that if she wrote a letter to the Princess, who was now in Vienna, she
would probably herself reach that city as soon as her note, so she
telegraphed that something important was on hand which would take her to
Vienna by next day's Orient express, and intimated that it was a matter
in which she might need the assistance of the Princess. Then she
hastened to her rooms to pack up. That evening there came an answering
telegram from Vienna. The Princess asked her to bring her ball dress and
all the rest of her finery. The lady added that she herself would be at
the railway station, and asked Jennie to telegraph to her, _en route_,
the time of her arrival. It was evident that her Highness was quite
prepared to engage in whatever scheme there was on hand, and this fact
encouraged Jennie to hope that success perhaps awaited her.
JENNIE TOUCHES THE EDGE OF A GOVERNMENT SECRET.
True to her promise, the Princess von Steinheimer was waiting at the
immense railway station of Vienna, and she received her friend with
gushing effusion. Jennie left the train as neat as when she had entered
it, for many women, have the faculty of taking long journeys without
showing the dishevelled effect which protracted railway travelling seems
to have upon the masculine, and probably more careless, portion of
"Oh, you dear girl!" cried the Princess; "you cannot tell how glad I am
to see you. I was just yearning for someone to talk English to. I am so
tired of French and German, although they flatter me by saying that I
speak those two languages extremely well; yet English is my own tongue,
and it is so delightful to talk with one who can understand every
blessed word you say, which you can easily see those who pretend to
speak English in Vienna do not. What long chats we shall have! And now
come this way to the carriage. There is a man here to look after your
luggage. You are coming right home with me and are going to stay with me
as long as you are in Vienna. Don't say, 'No,' nor make any excuse, nor
talk of going to an hotel, for a suite of rooms is all ready for you,
and your luggage will be there before we are. Now let us enter the
carriage, for I am just pining to hear what it is you have on hand. Some
delicious scandal, I hope."
"No," answered Jennie; "it pertains to Government matters."
"Oh, dear!" cried the Princess; "how tiresome! Politics are so dull."
"I don't think this case is dull," said Jennie; "because it has brought
Austria and England to the verge of war."
"What a dreadful idea! I hadn't heard anything of it. When did this
"Less than a month ago," and Jennie related the whole circumstance,
giving a synopsis of the Premier's speech.
"But I see nothing in that speech to cause war," protested the Princess.
"It is as mild as new milk."
"I don't pretend to understand diplomacy," continued Jennie, blushing
slightly as she remembered Lord Donal; and it seemed that the same
thought struck the Princess at the same moment, for she looked
quizzically at Jennie and burst out into a laugh.