Part 4 out of 4
"I am afraid you are, Professor."
"Of course; I know what feeble brains the average woman is possessed
of; still, try and keep that in your mind. Now listen to this. I have
discovered how to disunite that force and that particle. I can, with
a touch, fling loose upon this earth a giant whose strength is
irresistible and immeasurable."
"Then why object to making your discovery public?"
"In the first place, because there are still a thousand things and more
to be learned along such a line of investigation. The moment a man
announces his discoveries, he is first ridiculed, then, when the truth
of what he affirms is proven, there rise in every part of the world
other men who say that they knew all about it ten years ago, and will
prove it too--at least, far enough to delude a gullible world; in the
second because I am a humane man, I hesitate to spread broadcast a
knowledge that would enable any fool to destroy the universe. Then there
is a third reason. There is another who, I believe, has discovered how
to make this force loosen its grip on the particle--that is Keely, of
Philadelphia, in the United States--"
"What! You don't mean the Keely motor man?" cried Jennie, laughing.
"That arrant humbug! Why, all the papers in the world have exposed his
ridiculous pretensions; he has done nothing but spend other people's
"Yes, the newspapers have ridiculed him. Human beings have, since the
beginning of the world, stoned their prophets. Nevertheless, he has
liberated a force that no gauge made by man can measure. He has been
boastful, if you like, and has said that with a teacupful of water he
would drive a steamship across the Atlantic. I have been silent, working
away with my eye on him, and he has been working away with his eye on
me, for each knows what the other is doing. If either of us discovers
how to control this force, then that man's name will go down to
posterity for ever. He has not yet been able to do it; neither have I.
There is still another difference between us. He appears to be able to
loosen that force in his own presence; I can only do it at a distance.
All my experiments lately have been in the direction of making
modifications with this machine, so as to liberate the force within
the compass, say, of this room; but the problem has baffled me. The
invisible rays which this machine sends out, and which will penetrate
stone, iron, wood, or any other substance, must unite at a focus, and
I have not been able to bring that focus nearer me than something over
half a mile. Last summer I went to an uninhabited part of Switzerland
and there continued my experiments. I blew up at will rocks and boulders
on the mountain sides, the distances varying from a mile to half a mile.
I examined the results of the disintegration, and when you came in and
showed me that gold, I recognized at once that someone had discovered
the secret I have been trying to fathom for the last ten years. I
thought that perhaps you had come from Keely. I am now convinced that
the explosion you speak of in the Treasury was caused by myself. This
machine, which you so recklessly threatened to throw out of the window,
accidentally slipped from its support when I was working here some
time after midnight on the seventeenth. I placed it immediately as you
see it now, where it throws its rays into mid-air, and is consequently
harmless; but I knew an explosion must have taken place in Vienna
somewhere within the radius of half a mile. I drew the pencilled
semi-circle that you saw on the map of Vienna, for in my excitement
in placing the machine upright I had not noticed exactly where it had
pointed, but I knew that, along the line I had drawn, an explosion must
have occurred, and could only hope that it had not been a serious one,
which it seems it was. I waited and waited, hardly daring to leave my
attic, but hearing no news of any disaster, I was torn between the
anxiety that would naturally come to any humane man in my position
who did not wish to destroy life, and the fear that, if nothing had
occurred, I had not actually made the discovery I thought I had made.
You spoke of my actions being childish; but when I realized that I had
myself been the cause of the explosion, a fear of criminal prosecution
came over me. Not that I should object to imprisonment if they would
allow me to continue my experiments; but that, doubtless, they would not
do, for the authorities know nothing of science, and care less."
In spite of her initial scepticism, Jennie found herself gradually
coming to believe in the efficiency of the harmless-looking mechanism of
glass and iron Which she saw on the table before her, and a sensation of
horror held her spellbound as she gazed at it. Its awful possibilities
began slowly to develop in her mind, and she asked breathlessly,--"What
would happen if you were to turn that machine and point it towards the
centre of the earth?"
"I told you what would happen. Vienna would lie in ruins, and possibly
the whole Austrian Empire, and perhaps some adjoining countries would
become a mass of impalpable dust. It may be that the world itself would
dissolve. I cannot tell what the magnitude of the result might be, for
I have not dared to risk the experiment."
"Oh, this is too frightful to think about," she cried. "You must destroy
the machine, Professor, and you must never make another." "What! And
give up the hope that my name will descend to posterity?"
"Professor Seigfried, when once this machine becomes known to the world,
there will be no posterity for your name to descend to. With the present
hatred of nation against nation, with different countries full of those
unimprisoned maniacs whom we call Jingoes--men preaching the hatred of
one people against another--how long do you think the world will last
when once such knowledge is abroad in it?"
The Professor looked longingly at the machine he had so slowly and
"It would be of much use to humanity if it were but benevolently
employed. With the coal fields everywhere diminishing, it would supply a
motive force for the universe that would last through the ages."
"Professor Seigfried," exclaimed Jennie earnestly, "when the Lord
permits a knowledge of that machine to become common property, it is His
will that the end of the world shall come."
The Professor said nothing, but stood with deeply wrinkled brow, gazing
earnestly at the mechanism. In his hand was the hammer-head which he had
previously given to the girl; his arm went up and down as if he were
estimating its weight; then suddenly, without a word of warning, he
raised it and sent it crashing through the machine, whose splintering
glass fell with a musical tinkle on the floor.
Jennie gave a startled cry, and with a low moan the Professor struggled
to his chair and fell, rather than sat down, in it. A ghastly pallor
overspread his face, and the girl in alarm ran again to the cupboard,
poured out some brandy and offered it to him, then tried to pour it down
his throat, but his tightly set teeth resisted her efforts. She chafed
his rigid hands, and once he opened his eyes, slowly shaking his head.
"Try to sip this brandy," she said, seeing his jaws relax.
"It is useless," he murmured with difficulty. "My life was in the
instrument, as brittle as the glass. I have--"
He could say no more. Jennie went swiftly downstairs to the office of a
physician, on the first floor, which she had noticed as she came up.
The medical man, who knew of the philosopher, but was not personally
acquainted with him, for the Professor had few friends, went up the
steps three at a time, and Jennie followed him more slowly. He met the
girl at the door of the attic.
"It is useless," he said. "Professor Seigfried is dead; and it is my
belief that in his taking away Austria has lost her greatest scientist."
"I am sure of it," answered the girl, with trembling voice; "but perhaps
after all it is for the best."
"I doubt that," said the doctor. "I never feel so like quarrelling with
Providence as when some noted man is removed right in the midst of his
"I am afraid," replied Jennie solemnly, "that we have hardly reached a
state of development that would justify us in criticizing the wisdom of
Providence. In my own short life I have seen several instances where it
seemed that Providence intervened for the protection of His creatures;
and even the sudden death of Professor Seigfried does not shake my
belief that Providence knows best."
She turned quickly away and went down the stairs in some haste. At the
outer door she heard the doctor call down, "I must have your name and
But Jennie did not pause to answer. She had no wish to undergo
cross-examination at an inquest, knowing that if she told the truth she
would not be believed, while if she attempted to hide it, unexpected
personal inconvenience might arise from such a course. She ran rapidly
to the street corner, hailed a fiacre and drove to a distant part of the
city; then she dismissed the cab, went to a main thoroughfare, took a
tramcar to the centre of the town, and another cab to the Palace.
JENNIE ENGAGES A ROOM IN A SLEEPING CAR.
Jennie had promised Professor Seigfried not to communicate with the
Director of Police, and she now wondered whether it would be breaking
her word, or not, if she let that official know the result of her
investigation, when it would make no difference, one way or the other,
to the Professor. If Professor Seigfried could have foreseen his own
sudden death, would he not, she asked herself, have preferred her to
make public all she knew of him? for had he not constantly reiterated
that fame, and the consequent transmission of his name to posterity, was
what he worked for? Then there was this consideration: if the Chief of
Police was not told how the explosion had been caused, his fruitless
search would go futilely on, and, doubtless, in the course of police
inquiry, many innocent persons would be arrested, put to inconvenience
and expense, and there was even a chance that one or more, who had
absolutely nothing to do with the affair, might be imprisoned for life.
She resolved, therefore, to tell the Director of the Police all she
knew, which she would not have done had Professor Seigfried been alive.
She accordingly sent a messenger for the great official, and just as she
had begun to relate to the impatient Princess what had happened, he was
announced. The three of them held convention in Jennie's drawing-room
with locked doors.
"I am in a position," began Jennie, "to tell you how the explosion in
the Treasury was caused and who caused it; but before doing so you must
promise to grant me two favours, each of which is in your power to
bestow without inconvenience."
"What are they?" asked the Director of Police cautiously.
"To tell what they are is to tell part of my story. You must first
promise blindly, and afterwards keep your promise faithfully."
"Those are rather unusual terms, Miss Baxter," said the Chief; "but I
accede to them, the more willingly as we have found that all the gold is
still in the Treasury, as you said it was."
"Very well, then, the first favour is that I shall not be called to
give testimony when an inquest is held on the body of Professor Carl
"You amaze me!" cried the Director; "how did you know he was dead? I had
news of it only a moment before I left my office."
"I was with him when he died," said Jennie simply, which statement
drew forth an exclamation of surprise from both the Princess and the
Director. "My next request is that you destroy utterly a machine which
stands on a table near the centre of the Professor's room. Perhaps the
instrument is already disabled--I believe it is--but, nevertheless, I
shall not rest content until you have seen that every vestige of it is
made away with, because the study of what is left of it may enable some
other scientist to put it in working order again. I entreat you to
attend to this matter yourself. I will go with you, if you wish me
to, and point out the instrument in case it has been moved from its
position." "The room is sealed," said the Director, "and nothing will be
touched until I arrive there. What is the nature of this instrument?"
"It is of a nature so deadly and destructive that, if it got into the
hands of an anarchist, he could, alone, lay the city of Vienna in
"Good heavens!" cried the horrified official, whose bane was the
anarchist, and Jennie, in mentioning this particular type of criminal,
had builded better than she knew. If she had told him that the
Professor's invention might enable Austria to conquer all the
surrounding nations, there is every chance that the machine would have
been carefully preserved.
"The explosion in the Treasury vaults," continued Jennie, "was
accidentally caused by this instrument, although the machine at the
moment was in a garret half a mile away. You saw the terrible effect of
that explosion; imagine, then, the destruction it would cause in the
hands of one of those anarchists who are so reckless of consequences."
"I shall destroy the instrument with my own hands," asserted the
Director fervently, mopping his pallid brow.
Jennie then went on, to the increasing astonishment of the Princess and
the Director, and related every detail of her interview with the late
professor Carl Seigfried.
"I shall go at once and annihilate that machine," said the Director,
rising when the recital was finished. "I shall see to that myself. Then,
after the inquest, I shall give an order that everything in the attic
is to be destroyed. I wish that every scientific man on the face of the
earth could be safely placed behind prison bars."
"I am afraid that wouldn't do much good," replied Jennie, "unless you
could prevent chemicals being smuggled in. The scientists would probably
reduce your prison to powder, and walk calmly out through the dust."
Mr. Hardwick had told Jennie that if she solved the Vienna mystery she
would make a European reputation for the _Daily Bugle_. Jennie did more
than was expected of her, yet the European reputation which the _Bugle_
established was not one to be envied. It is true that the account
printed of the cause of the explosion, dramatically completed with the
Professor's tragically sudden death, caused a great sensation in London.
The comic papers of the week were full of illustrations showing the uses
to which the Professor's instrument might be put. To say that any sane
man in England believed a word of the article would be to cast an
undeserved slight upon the intelligence of the British public. No one
paused to think that if a newspaper had published an account of what
could be done by the Roeentgen rays, without being able to demonstrate
practically the truth of the assertions made, the contribution would
have been laughed at. If some years ago a newspaper had stated that a
man in York listened to the voice of a friend at that moment standing in
London, and was not only able to hear what his friend said, but could
actually recognize the voice speaking in an ordinary tone, and then
if the paper had added that, unfortunately, the instrument which
accomplished this had been destroyed, people would have denounced the
sensational nature of modern journalism.
Letters poured in upon the editor, saying that while, as a general rule,
the writers were willing to stand the ordinary lie of commerce daily
printed in the sheet, there was a limit to their credulity and they
objected to be taken for drivelling imbeciles. To complete the
discomfiture of the _Daily Bugle_, the Government of Austria
published an official statement, which Reuter and the special
correspondents scattered broadcast over the earth. The statement was
written in that calm, serious, and consistent tone which diplomatists
use when uttering a falsehood of more than ordinary dimensions.
Irresponsible rumours had been floating about (the official proclamation
began) to the effect that there had been an explosion in the Treasury
at Vienna. It had been stated that a large quantity of gold had been
stolen, and that a disaster of some kind had occurred in the Treasury
vaults. Then a ridiculous story had been printed which asserted that
Professor Seigfried, one of Austria's honoured dead, had in some manner
that savoured of the Black Art, encompassed this wholesale destruction.
The Government now begged to make the following declarations: First,
not a penny had been stolen out of the Treasury; second, the so-called
war-chest was intact; third, the two hundred million florins reposed
securely within the bolted doors of the Treasury vaults; fourth,
the coins were not, as had been alleged, those belonging to various
countries, which was a covert intimation that Austria had hostile intent
against one or the other of those friendly nations. The whole coinage
in this falsely named war-chest, which was not a war-chest at all, but
merely the receptacle of a reserve fund which Austria possessed, was
entirely in Austrian coinage; fifth, in order that these sensational and
disquieting scandals should be set at rest, the Government announced
that it intended to weigh this gold upon a certain date, and it invited
representatives of the Press, from Russia, Germany, France, and England
to witness this weighing.
The day after this troy-weight function had taken place in Vienna, long
telegraphic accounts of it appeared in the English press, and several
solemn leading articles were put forward in the editorial columns,
which, without mentioning the name of the _Daily Bugle_, deplored the
voracity of the sensational editor, who respected neither the amity
which should exist between friendly nations, nor the good name of the
honoured and respected dead, in his wolfish hunt for the daily scandal.
Nothing was too high-spiced or improbable for him to print. He traded on
the supposed gullibility of a fickle public. But, fortunately, in the
long run, these staid sheets asserted, such actions recoiled upon the
head of him who promulgated them. Sensational journals merited and
received the scathing contempt of all honest men. Later on, one of the
reviews had an article entitled "Some Aspects of Modern Journalism,"
which battered in the head of the _Daily Bugle_ as with a sledge hammer,
and in one of the quarterlies a professor at Cambridge showed the
absurdity of the alleged invention from a scientific point of view.
"I swear," cried Mr. Hardwick, as he paced up and down his room, "that I
shall be more careful after this in the handling of truth; it is a most
dangerous thing to meddle with. If you tell the truth about a man, you
are mulcted in a libel suit, and if you tell the truth about a nation,
the united Press of the country are down upon you. Ah, well, it makes
the battle of life all the more interesting, and we are baffled to fight
better, as Browning says."
The editor had sent for Miss Baxter, and she now sat by his desk while
he paced nervously to and fro. The doors were closed and locked so that
they might not be interrupted, and she knew by the editor's manner that
something important was on hand. Jennie had returned to London after
a month's stay in Vienna, and had been occupied for a week at her old
routine work in the office.
"Now, Miss Baxter," said the editor, when he had proclaimed his distrust
of the truth as a workable material in journalism, "I have a plan to set
before you, and when you know what it is, I am quite prepared to hear
you refuse to have anything to do with it. And, remember, if you _do_
undertake it, there is but one chance in a million of your succeeding.
It is on this one chance that I propose now to send you to St.
"To St. Petersburg!" echoed the girl in dismay.
"Yes," said the editor, mistaking the purport of her ejaculation, "it is
a very long trip, but you can travel there in great comfort, and I want
you to spare no expense in obtaining for yourself every luxury that the
various railway lines afford during your journey to St. Petersburg and
"And what am I to go to St. Petersburg for?" murmured Jennie faintly.
"Merely for a letter. Here is what has happened, and what is happening.
I shall mention no names, but at present a high and mighty personage in
Russia, who is friendly to Great Britain, has written a private letter,
making some proposals to a certain high and mighty personage in England,
who is friendly to Russia. This communication is entirely unofficial;
neither Government is supposed to know anything at all about it. As a
matter of fact, the Russian Government have a suspicion, and the British
Government have a certainty, that such a document will shortly be in
transit. Nothing may come of it, or great things may come of it. Now
on the night of the 21st, in one of the sleeping cars leaving St.
Petersburg by the Nord Express for Berlin, there will travel a special
messenger having this letter in his possession. I want you to take
passage by that same train and secure a compartment near the messenger,
if possible. This messenger will be a man in whom the respective parties
to the negotiation have implicit confidence. I wish I knew his name,
but I don't; still, the chances are that he is leaving London for St.
Petersburg about this time, and so you might keep your eyes open on your
journey there, for, if you discovered him to be your fellow-passenger,
it might perhaps make the business that comes after easier. You see this
letter," continued the editor, taking from a drawer in his desk a large
envelope, the flap of which was secured by a great piece of stamped
sealing-wax. "This merely contains a humble ordinary copy of to-day's
issue of the _Bugle_, but in outside appearance it might be taken for a
duplicate of the letter which is to leave St. Petersburg on the 21st.
Now, what I would like you to do is to take this envelope in your
hand-bag, and if, on the journey back to London, you have an opportunity
of securing the real letter, and leaving this in its place, you will
have accomplished the greatest service you have yet done for the paper."
"Oh!" cried Jennie, rising, "I couldn't think of that, Mr. Hardwick--I
couldn't _think_ of doing it. It is nothing short of highway robbery!"
"I know it looks like that," pleaded Hardwick; "but listen to me. If
I were going to open the letter and use its contents, then you might
charge me with instigating theft. The fact is, the letter will not be
delayed; it will reach the hands of the high and mighty personage in
England quite intact. The only difference is that you will be its bearer
instead of the messenger they send for it." "You expect to open the
letter, then, in some surreptitious way--some way that will not be
noticed afterwards? Oh, I couldn't do it, Mr. Hardwick."
"My dear girl, you are jumping at conclusions. I shall amaze you when
I tell you that I know already practically what the contents of that
"Then what is the use of going to all this expense and trouble trying to
"Don't say 'steal it,' Miss Baxter. I'll tell you what my motive is.
There is an official in England who has gone out of his way to throw
obstacles in mine. This is needless and irritating, for generally I
manage to get the news I am in quest of; but in several instances, owing
to his opposition, I have not only not got the news, but other papers
have. Now, since the general raking we have had over this Austrian
business, quite aside from the fact that we published the exact truth,
this stupid old official duffer has taken it upon himself to be
exceedingly sneering and obnoxious to me, and I confess I want to take
him down a peg. He hasn't any idea that I know as much about this
business as I do--in fact, he thinks it is an absolute secret; yet, if
I liked, I could to-morrow nullify all the arrangements by simply
publishing what is already in my possession, which action on my part
would create a _furore_ in this country, and no less; of a _furore_ in
Russia. For the sake of amity between nations, which I am accused of
disregarding, I hold my hand.
"Now, if you get possession of that communication, I want you to
telegraph to me while you are _en route_ for London, and I will meet you
at the terminus; then I shall take the document direct to this official,
even before the regular messenger has time to reach him. I shall say to
the official, 'There is the message from the high personage in Russia to
the high personage in England. If you want the document, I will give
it to you, but it must be understood that you are to be a little less
friendly to certain other newspapers, and a little more friendly to
mine, in future.'"
"And suppose he refuses your terms?"
"He won't refuse them; but if he does I shall hand him the envelope just
"Well, honestly, Mr. Hardwick, I don't think your scheme worth the
amount of money it will cost, and, besides, the chance of my getting
hold of the packet, which will doubtless be locked safely within a
despatch box, and constantly under the eye of the messenger, is most
"I am more than willing to risk all that if you will undertake the
journey. You speak lightly of my scheme, but that is merely because you
do not understand the situation. Everything you have heretofore done has
been of temporary advantage to the paper; but if you carry this off, I
expect the benefit to the _Bugle_ will be lasting. It will give me a
standing with certain officials that I have never before succeeded in
getting. In the first place, it will make them afraid of me, and that of
itself is a powerful lever when we are trying to get information which
they are anxious to give to some other paper."
"Very well, Mr. Hardwick, I will try; though I warn you to expect
nothing but failure. In everything else I have endeavoured to do, I have
felt confident of success from the beginning. In this instance I am
as sure I shall fail." "As I told you, Miss Baxter, the project is so
difficult that your failure, if you _do_ fail, will merely prove it to
have been impossible, because I am sure that if anyone on earth could
carry the project to success, you are that person; and, furthermore, I
am very much obliged to you for consenting to attempt such a mission."
And thus it was that Jennie Baxter found herself in due time in the
great capital of the north, with a room in the Hotel de l'Europe
overlooking the Nevski Prospect. In ordinary circumstances she would
have enjoyed a visit to St. Petersburg; but now she was afraid to
venture out, being under the apprehension that at any moment she might
meet Lord Donal Stirling face to face, and that he would recognize her;
therefore she remained discreetly in her room, watching the strange
street scenes from her window. She found herself scrutinizing everyone
who had the appearance of being an Englishman, and she had to confess to
a little qualm of disappointment when the person in question proved to
be some other than Lord Donal; in fact, during her short stay at St.
Petersburg she saw nothing of the young man.
Jennie went, on the evening of her arrival, to the offices of the
Sleeping Car Company, to secure a place in one of the carriages that
left at six o'clock on the evening of the 21st. Her initial difficulty
met her when she learned there were several sleeping cars on that
train, and she was puzzled to know which to select. She stood there,
hesitating, with the plans of the carriages on the table before her.
"You have ample choice," said the clerk; "seats are not usually booked
so long in advance, and only two places have been taken in the train, so
"I should like to be in a carriage containing some English people," said
the girl, not knowing what excuse to give for her hesitation.
"Then let me recommend this car, for one compartment has been taken by
the British Embassy--Room C, near the centre, marked with a cross."
"Ah, well, I will take the compartment next to it--Room D, isn't it?"
"Oh, I am sorry to say that also has been taken. Those are the two
which are bespoken. I will see under what name Room D has been booked.
Probably its occupant is English also. But I can give you Room B, on the
other side of the one reserved by the Embassy. It is a two-berth room,
Nos. 5 and 6."
"That will do quite as well," said Jennie.
The clerk looked up the order book, and then said,--
"It is not recorded here by whom Room D was reserved. As a usual thing,"
he continued, lowering his voice almost to a whisper and looking
furtively over his shoulder, "when no name is marked down, that means
the Russian police. So, you see, by taking the third room you will not
only be under the shadow of the British Embassy, but also under the
protection of Russia. Do you wish one berth only, or the whole room? It
is a two-berth compartment."
"I desire the whole room, if you please."
She paid the price and departed, wondering if the other room had really
been taken by the police, and whether the authorities were so anxious
for the safety of the special messenger that they considered it
necessary to protect him to the frontier. If, in addition to the natural
precautions of the messenger, there was added the watchfulness of one or
two suspicious Russian policemen, then would her difficult enterprise
become indeed impossible. On the other hand, the ill-paid policemen
might be amenable to the influence of money, and as she was well
supplied with the coin of the realm, their presence might be a help
rather than a hindrance. All in all, she had little liking for the
task she had undertaken, and the more she thought of it, the less it
commended itself to her. Nevertheless, having pledged her word to the
editor, if failure came it would be through no fault of hers.
JENNIE ENDURES A TERRIBLE NIGHT JOURNEY.
Jennie went early to the station on the night of the 21st and entered
the sleeping car as soon as she was allowed to do so. The conductor
seemed unaccountably flustered at her anxiety to get to her room, and he
examined her ticket with great care; then, telling her to follow him,
brought her to Room B, in which were situated berths 5 and 6, upper and
lower. The berths were not made up, and the room showed one seat, made,
to accommodate two persons. The conductor went out on the platform
again, and Jennie, finding herself alone in the carriage, walked up and
down the narrow passage-way at the side, to get a better idea of her
[Illustration: PLAN OF SLEEPING CAR.]
Room C, next to her own, was the one taken by the British Embassy. Room
D, still further on, was the one that appeared to have been retained by
the police. She stood for a few moments by the broad plate-glass window
that lined the passage and looked out at the crowded platform. For a
time she watched the conductor, who appeared to be gazing anxiously
towards the direction from which passengers streamed, as if looking for
someone in particular. Presently a big man, a huge overcoat belted round
him, with a stem bearded face--looking, the girl thought, typically
Russian--strode up to the conductor and spoke earnestly with him. Then
the two turned to the steps of the car, and Jennie fled to her narrow
little room, closing the door all but about an inch. An instant later
the two men came in, speaking together in French. The larger man had
a gruff voice and spoke the language in a way that showed it was not
native to him.
"When did you learn that he had changed his room?" asked the man with
the gruff voice.
"Only this afternoon," replied the conductor.
"Did you bore holes between that and the adjoining compartment?"
"Yes, Excellency; but Azof did not tell me whether you wanted the holes
at the top or the bottom."
"At the bottom, of course," replied the Russian. "Any fool might have
known that. The gas must rise, not fall; then when he feels its effect
and tumbles down, he will be in a denser layer of it, whereas, if we put
it in the top, and he fell down, he would come into pure air, and so
might make his escape. You did not bore the hole over the top berth, I
"Yes, Excellency, but I bored one at the bottom also."
"Oh, very well, we can easily stop the one at the top. Have you fastened
the window? for the first thing these English do is to open a window."
"The window is securely fastened, your Excellency, unless he breaks the
"Oh, he will not think of doing that until it is too late. The English
are a law-abiding people. How many other passengers are there in the
"Oh, I forgot to tell you, Excellency, the Room B has been taken by an
English lady, who is there now."
"Ten thousand devils!" cried the Russian in a hoarse whisper. "Why did
you not say that before?"
The voices now fell to so low a murmur that Jennie could not distinguish
the words spoken. A moment later there was a rap at her door, and she
had presence of mind enough to get in the further corner, and say in a
The conductor opened the door.
"_Votre billet, s'il vous plait, madame."_
"Can't you speak English?" asked Jennie.
The conductor merely repeated his question, and as Jennie was shaking
her head the big Russian looked over the conductor's shoulder and said
in passable English,--
"He is asking for your ticket, madam. Do you not speak French?" In
answer to this direct question Jennie, fumbling in her purse for her
"I speak English, and I have already shown him my ticket." She handed
her broad-sheet sleeping-car ticket to the Russian, who had pushed the
conductor aside and now stood within the compartment.
"There has been a mistake," he said. "Room C is the one that has been
reserved for you."
"I am sure there isn't any mistake," said Jennie. "I booked berths
5 and 6. See, there are the numbers," pointing to the metallic plates by
the door, "and here are the same numbers on the ticket."
The Russian shook his head.
"The mistake has been made at the office of the Sleeping Car Company. I
am a director of the Company."
"Oh, are you?" asked Jennie innocently. "Is Room C as comfortable as
"It is a duplicate of this one, madam, and is more comfortable, because
it is nearer the centre of the car."
"Well, there is no mistake about my reserving the two berths, is there?"
"Oh, no, madam, the room is entirely at your disposal."
"Well, then, in that case," said Jennie, "I have no objection to making
She knew that she would be compelled to change, no matter what her
ticket recorded, so she thought it best to play the simple maiden
abroad, and make as little fuss as possible about the transfer. She had
to rearrange the car in her mind. She was now in Room C, which had been
first reserved by the British Embassy. It was evident that at the
last moment the messenger had decided to take Room A, a four-berth
compartment at the end of the car. The police then would occupy Room B,
which she had first engaged, and, from the bit of conversation she had
overheard, Jennie was convinced that they intended to kill or render
insensible the messenger who bore the important letter. The police were
there not to protect, but to attack. This amazing complication in the
plot concentrated all the girl's sympathies on the unfortunate man who
was messenger between two great personages, even though he travelled
apparently under the protection of the British Embassy at St.
Petersburg. The fact, to put it baldly, that she had intended to rob
him herself, if opportunity occurred, rose before her like an accusing
ghost. "I shall never undertake anything | like this again," she cried
to herself, "never, never," and now she resolved to make reparation to
the man she had intended to injure. She would watch for him until he
came down the passage, and then warn him by relating what she had heard.
She had taken off her hat on entering the room; now she put it on
hurriedly, thrusting a long pin through it. As she stood up, there was a
jolt of the train that caused her to sit down again somewhat hurriedly.
Passing her window she saw the lights of the station; the train was in
motion. "Thank Heaven!" she cried fervently, "he is too late. Those
plotting villains will have all their trouble for nothing."
She glanced upwards towards the ceiling and noticed a hole about an inch
in diameter bored in the thin wooden partition between her compartment
and the next. Turning to the wall behind her she saw that another hole
had been bored in a similar position through to Room B. The car had been
pretty thoroughly prepared for the work in hand, and Jennie laughed
softly to herself as she pictured the discomfiture of the conspirators.
The train was now rushing through the suburbs of St. Petersburg, when
Jennie was startled by hearing a stranger's voice say in French,--
"Conductor, I have Room A; which end of the car is that?"
"This way, Excellency," replied the conductor. Everyone seemed to be
"Excellency" with him. A moment later, Jennie, who had again risen to
her feet, horrified to learn that, after all, the messenger had come,
heard the door of his room click. Everything was silent save the purring
murmur of the swiftly moving train. She stood there for a few moments
tense with excitement, then bethought herself of the hole between her
present compartment and the one she had recently left. She sprang up
on the seat, and placing her eye with some caution at the hole, peered
through. First she thought the compartment was empty, then noticed there
had been placed at the end by the window a huge cylinder that reached
nearly to the ceiling of the room. The lamp above was burning brightly,
and she could see every detail of the compartment, except towards the
floor. As she gazed a man's back slowly rose; he appeared to have been
kneeling on the floor, and he held in his hand the loop of a rubber
tube. Peering downwards, she saw that it was connected with the
cylinder, and that it was undoubtedly pouring whatever gas the cylinder
contained through the hole into Room A. For a moment she had difficulty
in repressing a shriek; but realizing how perfectly helpless she was,
even if an alarm were raised, she fought down all exclamation. She saw
that the man who was regulating the escape of gas was not the one who
had spoken to the conductor. Then, fearing that he might turn his head
and see her eye at the small aperture, she reached up and covered the
lamp, leaving her own room in complete darkness. The double covering,
which closed over the semi-globular lamp like an eyelid, kept every ray
of light from penetrating into the compartment she occupied.
As Jennie turned to her espionage again, she heard a blow given to the
door in Room A that made it chatter, then there was a sound of a heavy
fall on the floor. The door of Room B was flung open, the head of the
first Russian was thrust in, and he spoke in his own language a single
gruff word. His assistant then turned the cock and shut off the gas from
the cylinder. The door of Room B was instantly shut again, and Jennie
heard the rattle of the key as Room A was being unlocked.
Jennie jumped down from her perch, threw off her hat, and, with as
little noise as possible, slid her door back an inch or two. The
conductor had unlocked the door of Room A, the tall Russian standing
beside him saying in a whisper,--
"Never mind the man, he'll recover the moment you open the door and
window; get the box. Hold your nose with your fingers and keep your
mouth shut. There it is, that black box in the corner."
The conductor made a dive into the room, and came out with an ordinary
The policeman seemed well provided with the materials for his
burglarious purpose. He selected a key from a jingling bunch, tried it;
selected another; then a third, and the lid of the despatch-box was
thrown back. He took out a letter so exactly the duplicate of the one
Jennie possessed that she clutched her own document to see if it were
still in her pocket. The Russian put the envelope between his knees and
proceeded to lock the box. His imagination had not gone to any such
refinement as the placing of a dummy copy where the original had been.
Quick as thought Jennie acted. She slid open the door quietly and
stepped out into the passage. So intent were the two men on their work
that neither saw her. The tall man gave the box back to the conductor,
then took the letter from between his knees, holding it in his right
hand, when Jennie, as if swayed by the motion of the car, lurched
against him, and, with a sleight of hand that would have made her
reputation on a necromantic stage, she jerked the letter from the amazed
and frightened man; at the same moment allowing the bogus document to
drop on the floor of the car from her other hand. The conductor had just
emerged from Room A, holding his nose and looking comical enough as he
stood there in that position, amazed at the sudden apparition of the
lady. The Russian struck down the conductor's fingers with his right
hand, and by a swift motion of the left closed the door of Compartment
A, all of which happened in a tenth of the time taken to tell it.
"Oh, pardon me!" cried Jennie in English, "I'm afraid a lurch of the car
threw me against you."
The Russian, before answering, cast a look at the floor and saw the
large envelope lying there with its seal uppermost. He quietly placed
his huge foot upon it, and then said, with an effort at politeness,--
"It is no matter, madam. I fear I am so bulky that I have taken up most
of the passage."
"It is very good of you to excuse me," said Jennie; "I merely came out
to ask the conductor if he would make up my berth. Would you be good
enough to translate that to him?"
The Russian surlily told the conductor to attend to the wants of the
lady. The conductor muttered a reply, and that reply the Russian
"He will be at your service in a few moments, madam. He must first make
up the berth of the gentleman in Room A."
"Oh, thank you very much," returned Jennie. "I am in no hurry; any time
within the hour will do."
With that she retired again into her compartment, the real letter
concealed in the folds of her dress, the bogus one on the floor under
the Russian's foot. She closed the door tightly, then, taking care that
she was not observed through either of the holes the conductor had bored
in the partition, she swiftly placed the important document in a deep
inside pocket of her jacket. As a general rule, women have inside
pockets in their capes, and outside pockets in their jackets; but
Jennie, dealing as she did with many documents in the course of her
profession, had had this jacket especially made, with its deep and roomy
inside pocket. She sat on a corner of the sofa, wondering what was to
be the fate of the unfortunate messenger, for, in spite of the sudden
shutting of the door by the Russian, she caught a glimpse of the man
lying face downwards on the floor of his stifling room. She also had
received a whiff of the sweet, heavy gas which had been used, that
seemed now to be tincturing the whole atmosphere of the car, especially
in the long narrow passage. It was not likely they intended to kill
the man, for his death would cause an awkward investigation, while his
statement that he had been rendered insensible might easily be denied.
As she sat there, the silence disturbed only by the low, soothing rumble
of the train, she heard the ring of the metal cylinder against the
woodwork of the next compartment. The men were evidently removing
their apparatus. A little later the train slowed, finally coming to a
standstill, and looking out of the window into the darkness, she found
they were stopping at an ill-lighted country station. Covering the light
in the ceiling again, the better to see outside, herself, unobserved,
she noted the conductor and another man place the bulky cylinder on the
platform, without the slightest effort at concealment. The tall Russian
stood by and gave curt orders. An instant later the train moved on
again, and when well under way there was a rap at her door. When she
opened it, the conductor said that he would make up her berth now, if it
so pleased her. She stood out in the corridor while this was deftly
and swiftly done. She could not restrain her curiosity regarding the
mysterious occupant of Room A, and to satisfy it she walked slowly up
and down the corridor, her hands behind her, passing and repassing the
open door of her room, and noticing that ever and anon the conductor
cast a suspicious eye in her direction.
The door of Room A was partly open, but the shaded lamp in the
ceiling left the interior in darkness. There was now no trace of the
intoxicating gas in the corridor, and as she passed Room A she noticed
that a fresh breeze was blowing through the half open doorway, therefore
the window must be up. Once as she passed her own door she saw the
conductor engaged in a task which would keep him from looking into the
corridor for at least a minute, and in that interval she set her
doubts at rest by putting her head swiftly into Room A, and as swiftly
withdrawing it. The man had been lifted on to his sofa, and lay with his
face towards the wall, his head on a pillow. The despatch-box rested on
a corner of the sofa, where, doubtless, he had left it. He was breathing
heavily like a man in a drunken sleep; but the air of the room was sweet
and fresh, and he would doubtless recover.
Jennie still paced up and down, pondering deeply over what had happened.
At first, when she had secured the important document, she had made up
her mind to return it to the messenger; but further meditation induced
her to change her mind. The messenger had been robbed by the Russian
police; he would tell his superiors exactly what had happened, and yet
the letter would reach its destination as speedily as if he had brought
it himself--as if he had never been touched. Knowing the purpose which
Mr. Hardwick had in his mind, Jennie saw that the latter now was of
tenfold more value to him than it would have been had she taken it from
the messenger. It was evident that the British Embassy, or the messenger
himself, had suspicions that an attempt was to be made to obtain the
document, otherwise Room C of the sleeping car would not have been
changed for Room A at the very last moment. If, then, the editor could
say to the official, "The Russian police robbed your messenger in spite
of all the precautions that could be taken, and my emissary cozened the
Russians; so, you see, I have accomplished what the whole power of the
British Government was powerless to effect; therefore it will be wisdom
on your part to come to terms with me."
Jennie resolved to relate to Hardwick exactly how she came into
possession of the document, and she knew his alert nature well enough to
be sure he would make the most of the trump card dealt to him.
"Your room is ready for you," said the conductor in French.
She had the presence of mind enough not to comprehend his phrase until,
with a motion of his hand, he explained his meaning. She entered her
compartment and closed the door.
Having decided what disposal to make of the important document, there
now arose in her mind the disquieting problem whether or not it would be
allowed to remain with her. She cogitated over the situation and tried
to work out the mental arithmetic of it. Trains were infrequent on the
Russian railways, and she had no means of estimating when the burly
ruffian who had planned and executed the robbery would get back to St.
Petersburg. There was no doubt that he had not the right to open the
letter and read its contents; that privilege rested with some higher
official in St. Petersburg. The two men had got off at the first
stopping place. It was quite possible that they would not reach the
capital until next morning, when the Berlin express would be well on its
way to the frontier. Once over the frontier she would be safe; but the
moment it was found that the purloined envelope merely contained a
copy of an English newspaper, what might not happen? Would the Russian
authorities dare telegraph to the frontier to have her searched, or
would the big official who had planned the robbery suspect that she, by
legerdemain, had become possessed of the letter so much sought for? Even
if he did suspect her, he would certainly have craft enough not to admit
it. His game would rather be to maintain that this was the veritable
document found in the Englishman's despatch-box; and it was more than
likely, taking into consideration the change of room at the last moment,
which would show the officials the existence of suspicion in the
messenger's mind, or in the minds of those who sent him, the natural
surmise would be that another messenger had gone with the real document,
and that the robbed man was merely a blind to delude the Russian police.
In any case, Jennie concluded, there was absolutely nothing to do but
to remain awake all night and guard the treasure which good luck
had bestowed upon her. She stood up on her bed, about to stuff her
handkerchief into the hole bored in the partition, but suddenly paused
and came down to the floor again. No, discomforting as it was to remain
in a room under possible espionage, she dared not stop the openings, as
that would show she had cognisance of them, and arouse the conductor's
suspicion that, after all, she had understood what had been said;
whereas, if she left them as they were, the fact of her doing so would
be strong confirmation of her ignorance. She took from her bag a scarf,
tied one end round her wrist and the other to the door, so that it could
not be opened, should she fall asleep, without awakening her. Before
entrenching herself thus, she drew the eyelids down over the lamp, and
left her room in darkness. Then, if anyone did spy upon her they would
not see the dark scarf which united her wrist with the door.
In spite of the danger of her situation she had the utmost difficulty in
keeping awake. The rumble of the train had a very somnolent effect, and
once or twice she started up, fearing that she had been slumbering. Once
she experienced a tightening sensation in her throat, and sprang to the
floor, seeing the rising gas somehow made visible, the colour of blood.
The scarf drew her to her knees, and for a moment she, thought someone
clutched her wrist. Panting, she undid the scarf and flooded the room
with light. Her heart was beating wildly, but all was still, save the
ever-present rumble of the train rushing through the darkness over the
boundless plains of Russia. She looked at her tiny watch, it was two
o'clock in the morning. She knew then that she must have fallen asleep
in spite of her strong resolutions. The letter was still in the inside
pocket of her jacket, and all was well at two in the morning. No eye
appeared at either of the apertures, so she covered up the light once
more and lay down again, sighing to think how rumpled her dainty costume
would look in the morning. Now she was resolved not to go to sleep, if
force of will could keep her awake. A moment later she was startled by
someone beating down the partition with an axe. She sprang up, and again
the scarf pulled her back. She untied it from her wrist and noticed
that daylight flooded the compartment. This amazed her; how could it
be daylight so soon? Had she been asleep again, and was the fancied
battering at the door with an axe merely the conclusion of a dream
caused by the conductor's knock? After a breathless pause there came a
gentle rap on her door, and the voice of the conductor said,--
"Breakfast at Luga, madame, in three-quarters of an hour."
"Very good," she replied in English, her voice trembling with fear.
Slowly she untied the scarf from the door and placed it in her handbag.
She shivered notwithstanding her effort at self-control, for she knew
she had slept through the night, and far into the morning. In agitation
she unbuttoned her jacket. Yes; there was the letter, just where she had
placed it. She dare not take it out and examine it, fearing still that
she might be watched from some unseen quarter, but "Thank God," she
said to herself fervently, "this horrible night is ended. Once over the
frontier I am safe." She smoothed and brushed down her dress as well as
she was able, and was greatly refreshed by her wash in cold water, which
is one of the luxuries, not the least acceptable, on a sleeping car.
JENNIE EXPERIENCES THE SURPRISE OF HER LIFE.
At nine o'clock the long train came to a standstill, seventeen minutes
late at Luga, and ample time was allowed for a leisurely breakfast in
the buffet of the station. The restaurant was thronged with numerous
passengers, most of whom seemed hardly yet awake, while many were
unkempt and dishevelled, as if they had had little sleep during the
Jennie found a small table and sat down beside it, ordering her coffee
and rolls from the waiter who came to serve her. Looking round at the
cosmopolitan company, and listening to the many languages, whose clash
gave a Babel air to the restaurant, Jennie fell to musing on the strange
experiences she had encountered since leaving London. It seemed to her
she had been taking part in some ghastly nightmare, and she shuddered as
she thought of the lawlessness, under cover of law, of this great and
despotic empire, where even the ruler was under the surveillance of his
subordinates, and could not get a letter out of his own dominion in
safety, were he so minded. In her day-dream she, became conscious,
without noting its application to herself, that a man was standing
before her table; then a voice which made her heart stop said,--
"Ah, lost Princess!"
She placed her hand suddenly to her throat, for the catch in her
breath seemed to be suffocating her, then looked up and saw Lord Donal
Stirling, in the ordinary everyday dress of an English gentleman, as
well groomed as if, he had come, not from a train, but from his own
house. There was a kindly smile on his lips and a sparkle in his eyes,
but his face was of ghastly pallor.
"Oh, Lord Donal!" she cried, regarding him with eyes of wonder and fear,
"what is wrong with you?"
"Nothing," the young man replied, with an attempt at a laugh; "nothing,
now that I have found you, Princess. I have been making a night of it,
that's all, and am suffering the consequences in the morning. May I sit
He dropped into a chair on the other side of the table, like a man
thoroughly exhausted, unable to stand longer, and went on,--
"Like all dissipated men, I am going to break my fast on stimulants.
Waiter," he said, "bring me a large glass of your best brandy."
"And, waiter," interjected Jennie in French, "bring two breakfasts. I
suppose it was not a meal that you ordered just now, Lord Donal?
"I have ordered my breakfast," he said; "still, it pleads in my favour
that I do not carry brandy with me, as I ought to do, and so must drink
the vile stuff they call their best here."
"You should eat as well," she insisted, taking charge of him as if she
had every right to do so. "All shall be as you say, now that I have the
happiness of seeing you sitting opposite me, but don't be surprised if I
show a most unappreciative appetite."
"What is the matter?" she asked breathlessly. "You certainly look very
"I have been drugged and robbed," he replied, lowering his voice. "I
imagine I came to close quarters with death itself. I have spent a night
in Hades, and this morning am barely able to stagger; but the sight of
you, Princess--Ah, well, I feel once more that I belong to the land of
"Please do not call me Princess," said the girl, looking down at the
"Then what am I to call you, Princess?"
"My name is Jennie Baxter," she said in a low voice.
"_Miss _Jennie Baxter?" he asked eagerly, with emphasis on the first
"Miss Jennie Baxter," she answered, still not looking up at him.
He leaned back in his chair and said,--
"Well, this is not such a bad world, after all. To think of meeting you
here in Russia! Have you been in St. Petersburg, then?"
"Yes. I am a newspaper woman," explained Jennie hurriedly.
"When you met me before, I was there surreptitiously--fraudulently, if
you like; I was there to--to write a report of it for my paper. I
can never thank you enough, Lord Donal, for your kindness to me that
"Your thanks are belated," said the young man, with a visible attempt at
gaiety. "You should have written and acknowledged the kindness you are
good enough to say I rendered to you. You knew my address, and etiquette
demanded that you should make your acknowledgments."
"I was reluctant to write," said Jennie, a smile hovering round her
lips, "fearing my letter might act as a clue. I had no wish to interfere
with the legitimate business of Mr. Cadbury Taylor."
"Great heavens!" cried the young man, "how came you to know about that?
But of course the Princess von Steinheimer told you of it. She wrote to
me charging me with all sorts of wickedness for endeavouring to find
"No, Lord Donal, I did not learn it from her. In fact, if you had opened
the door of the inner room at Mr. Cadbury Taylor's a little quicker, you
would have come upon me, for I was the assistant who tried to persuade
him that you really met the Princess von Steinheimer."
Lord Donal, for the first time, laughed heartily.
"Well, if that doesn't beat all! And I suppose Cadbury Taylor hasn't the
slightest suspicion that you are the person he was looking for?"
"No, not the slightest."
"I say! that is the best joke I have heard in ten years," said Lord
Donal; and here, breakfast arriving, Jennie gave him his directions.
"You are to drink a small portion of that brandy," she said, "and then
put the rest in your coffee. You must eat a good breakfast, and that
will help you to forget your troubles,--that is, if you have any real
"Oh, my troubles are real enough," said the young man. "When I met you
before, Princess, I was reasonably successful. We even talked about
ambassadorships, didn't we, in spite of the fact that ambassadors were
making themselves unnecessarily obtrusive that night? Now you see before
you a ruined man. No, I am not joking; it is true. I was given a
commission, or, rather, knowing the danger there was in it, I begged
that the commission might be given me. It was merely to take a letter
from St. Petersburg to London. I have failed, and when that is said, all
"But surely," cried the girl, blushing guiltily as she realized that
this was the man she had been sent to rob, "you could not be expected to
ward off such a lawless attempt at murder as you have been the victim
"That is just what I expected, and what I supposed I could ward off. In
my profession--which, after all has a great similarity to yours, except
that I think we have to do more lying in ours--there must be no such
word as fail. The very best excuses are listened to with tolerance,
perhaps, and a shrug of the shoulders; but failure, no matter from what
cause, is fell doom. I have failed. I shall not make any excuses. I will
go to London and say merely, 'The Russian police have robbed me.' Oh, I
know perfectly well who did the trick, and how it was done. Then I shall
send in my resignation. They will accept it with polite words of regret,
and will say to each other, 'Poor fellow he had a brilliant career
before him, but he got drunk, or something, and fell into the ditch.'
Ah. well, we won't talk any more about it."
"Then you don't despise the newspaper profession. Lord Donal?"
"Despise it! Bless you, no: I look up to it. Belonging myself to a
profession very much lower down in the scale of morality, as I have
said. But, Princess," he added, leaning towards her, "will you resign
from the newspaper if I resign from diplomacy?"
The girl slowly shook her head, her eyes on the tablecloth before her.
"I will telegraph my resignation," he said impetuously, "if you will
telegraph yours to your paper."
"You are feeling ill and worried this morning, Lord Donal, and so you
take a pessimistic view of life. You must not resign."
"Oh, but I must. I have failed, and that is enough."
"It isn't enough. You must do nothing until you reach London."
"I like your word _must_, Jennie," said the young man audaciously. "It
implies something, you know."
"What does it imply, Lord Donal?" she asked, glancing up at him.
"It implies that you are going to leave the 'Lord' off my name."
"That wouldn't be very difficult," replied Jennie.
"I am delighted to hear you say so," exclaimed his lordship; "and now,
that I may know how it sounds from your dear lips, call me Don."
"No; if I ever consented to omit the title, I should call you Donal. I
like the name in its entirety."
He reached his hand across the table. "Are you willing then, to accept a
man at the very lowest ebb of his fortunes? I know that if I were of
the mould that heroes are made of, I would hesitate to proffer you a
blighted life. But I loved you the moment I saw you; and, remembering my
fruitless search for you, I cannot run the risk of losing you again; I
have not the courage."
She placed her hand in his and looked him, for the first time, squarely
in the eyes.
"Are you sure, Donal," she said, "that I am not a mere effigy on which
you are hanging the worn-out garments of a past affection? You thought I
was the Princess at first."
"No, I didn't," he protested. "As soon as I heard you speak, I knew you
were the one I was destined to meet."
"Ah, Donal, Donal, at lovers' perjuries they say Jove laughs. I don't
think you were quite so certain as all that. But I, too, am a coward,
and I dare not refuse you."
Lord Donal glanced quickly about him; the room was still crowded. Even
the Berlin Express gave them a long time for breakfast, and was in no
hurry to move westward. His hurried gaze returned to her and he sighed.
"What an unholy spot for a proposal!" he whispered; "and yet they call
Russia the Great Lone Land. Oh, that we had a portion of it entirely to
The girl sat there, a smile on her pretty lips that Lord Donal thought
most tantalizing. A railway official announced in a loud voice that the
train was about to resume its journey. There was a general shuffling of
feet as the passengers rose to take their places.
"Brothers and sisters kiss each other, you know, on the eve of a railway
journey," said Lord Donal, taking advantage of the confusion.
Jennie Baxter made no protest.
"There is plenty of time," he whispered. "I know the leisurely nature of
Russian trains. Now I am going to the telegraph office, to send in my
resignation, and I want you to come with me and send in yours."
"No, Lord Donal," said the girl.
"Aren't you going to resign?" he asked, in surprise.
"Yes, all in good time; but _you_ are not."
"Oh, I say," he cried, "it is really imperative. I'll tell you all about
it when we get on the train."
"It is really imperative that you should not send in your resignation.
Indeed, Donal, you need not look at me with that surprised air. You may
as well get accustomed to dictation at once. You did it yourself, you
know. You can't say that I encouraged you. I eluded the vigilant Cadbury
Taylor as long as I could. But, if there is time, go to the telegraph
office and send a message to the real Princess, Palace Steinheimer,
Vienna. Say you are engaged to be married to Jennie Baxter, and ask her
to telegraph you her congratulations at Berlin."
"I'll do it," replied the young man with gratifying alacrity.
When Lord Donal came out of the telegraph office, Jennie said to him,
"Wait a moment while I go into the sleeping car and get my rugs and
"I'll go for them," he cried impetuously.
"Oh, no," she said. "I'll tell you why, later. The conductor is a
villain and was in collusion with the police."
"Oh, I know that," said Lord Donal. "Poor devil, he can't help himself;
he must do what the police order him to do, while he is in Russia."
"I'll get my things and go into an ordinary first class carriage. When I
pass this door, you must get your belongings and come and find me. There
is still time, and I don't want the conductor to see us together."
"Very well," said the young man with exemplary obedience.
JENNIE CONVERSES WITH A YOUNG MAN SHE THINKS MUCH OF.
When the train started, they were seated together in a carriage far
"One of my failings," said the girl, "is to act first, and think
afterwards. I am sorry now that I asked you to send that telegram to the
"Because I have a great deal to tell you, and perhaps you may wish to
withdraw from the rash engagement you have undertaken."
"A likely thing!" cried the ardent lover. "Indeed, Miss Princess, if you
think you can get rid of me as easily as all that, you are very much
"Well, I want to tell you why I did not allow you to resign."
Slowly she undid the large buttons of her jacket, then, taking it by
the lapel and holding it so that no one else could see, she drew partly
forth from the inside pocket the large envelope, until the stamp of the
Embassy was plainly visible. Lord Donal's eyes opened to their widest
capacity, and his breath seemed to stop.
"Great heavens!" he gasped at last, "do you mean to say _you_ have it?"
"Yes," she said, buttoning up her jacket again. "I robbed the robbers.
Listen, and I will tell you all that happened. But, first, are you
"Yes," he replied, "I have a trumpery revolver in my pocket; little good
it did me last night."
"Very well, we shall be across the frontier by noon to-day. If the
Russian authorities find before that time how they have been checkmated,
and if they have any suspicion that I am the cause of it, is it not
likely that they will have me stopped and searched on some pretence or
other?" Lord Donal pondered for a moment. "They are quite capable, of
it," he said; "but, Jennie, I will fight for you against the whole
Russian Empire, and somebody will get hurt if you are meddled with. The
police will hesitate, however, before interfering with a messenger from
the Embassy, or anyone in his charge in broad daylight on a crowded
train. We will not go back into that car, but stay here, where some of
our fellow-countrymen are."
"That is what I was going to propose," said Jennie. "And now listen to
the story I have to tell you, and then you will know exactly why I came
"Don't tell me anything you would rather not," said the young man
"I would rather not, but it must be told," answered the girl.
The story lasted a long time, and when it was ended the young man cried
enthusiastically in answer to her question,--
"Blame you? Why, of course I don't blame you in the slightest. It wasn't
Hardwick who sent you here at all, but Providence. Providence brought us
together, Jennie, and my belief in it hereafter will be unshaken."
Jennie laughed a contented little laugh, and said she was flattered at
being considered an envoy of Providence.
"It is only another way of saying you are an angel, Jennie," remarked
the bold young man.
They crossed, the frontier without interference, and, once in Germany,
Jennie took the object of so much contention and placed it in the hands
of her lover.
"There," she whispered, with a tiny sigh, for she was giving up the
fruits of her greatest achievement, "put that in your despatch box, and
see that it doesn't leave that receptacle until you reach London. I hope
the Russians will like the copy of the _Daily Bugle_ they find in their
The two chatted together throughout the long ride to Berlin, and when 11
p.m. and the Schleischer station came at last, they still seemed only to
have begun their conversation, so much more remained to be told.
The telegram from the Princess was handed to Lord Donal at Berlin.
"I congratulate you most sincerely," she wired; "and tell Jennie the
next time you see her"--Lord Donal laughed as he read this aloud--"that
the Austrian Government has awarded her thirty thousand pounds for her
share in enabling them to recover their gold, and little enough I think
it is, considering what she has done."
"Now, I call that downright handsome of the Austrian Government," cried
Lord Donal. "I thought they were going to fight us when I read the
speech of their Prime Minister, but, instead of that, they are making
wedding presents to our nice girls."
"Ah, that comes through the good-heartedness of the Princess, and the
kindness of the Prince," said Jennie. "He has managed it."
"But what in the world did you do for the Austrian Government, Jennie?"
"That is a long story, Donal, and I think a most interesting one."
"Well, let us thank heaven that we have a long journey for you to tell
it and me to listen."
And saying this, the unabashed, forward young man took the liberty
of kissing his fair companion good-night, right there amidst all the
turmoil and bustle of the Schleischer Bahnhof in Berlin.
It was early in the morning when the two met again in the restaurant
car. The train had passed Cologne and was now rushing up that
picturesque valley through which runs the brawling little river Vesdre.
Lord Donal and Jennie had the car to themselves, and they chose a table
near the centre of it and there ordered their breakfast. The situation
was a most picturesque one. The broad, clear plate glass windows on each
side displayed, in rapid succession, a series of landscapes well worth
viewing; the densely wooded hills, the cheerful country houses, the
swift roaring stream lashing itself into fleecy foam; now and then a
glimpse of an old ruined castle on the heights, and, in the deep valley,
here and there a water mill.
It was quite evident that Jennie had slept well, and, youth being on her
side, her rest had compensated for the nightmare of the Russian journey.
She was simply but very effectively dressed, and looked as fresh and
pretty and cool and sweet as a snowdrop. The enchanted young man found
it impossible to lure his eyes away from her, and when, with a little
laugh, Jennie protested that he was missing all the fine scenery, he
answered that he had something much more beautiful to look upon; whereat
Jennie blushed most enticingly, smiled at him, but made no further
protest. Whether it was his joy in meeting Jennie, or the result of his
night's sleep, or his relief at finding that his career was not wrecked,
as he had imagined, or all three together, Lord Donal seemed his old
self again, and was as bright, witty, and cheerful as a boy home for the
holidays. They enjoyed their breakfast with the relish that youth and
a healthy appetite gives to a dainty meal well served. The rolls were
brown and toothsome, the butter, in thick corrugated spirals, was of a
delicious golden colour, cold and crisp. The coffee was all that coffee
should be, and the waiter was silent and attentive. Russia, like an evil
vision, was far behind, and the train sped through splendid scenery
swiftly towards England and home.
The young man leaned back in his chair, interlaced his fingers
behind his head, and gazed across at Jennie, drawing a sigh of deep
"Well, this _is_ jolly," he said.
"Yes," murmured Jennie, "it's very nice. I always did enjoy foreign
travel, especially when it can be done in luxury; but, alas! luxury
costs money, doesn't it?"
"Oh, you don't need to mind, you are rich."
"That is true; I had forgotten all about it."
"I hope, Jennie, that the fact of my travelling on a _train de luxe
_has not deluded you regarding my wealth. I should have told you that I
usually travel third class when I am transporting myself in my private
capacity. I am wringing this pampered elegance from the reluctant
pockets of the British taxpayer. When I travel for the British
Government I say, as _Pooh Bah _said to _Koko_ in the 'Mikado,' 'Do it
well, my boy,' or words to that effect."
"Indeed," laughed Jennie, "I am in a somewhat similar situation; the
newspaper is paying all the expenses of this trip, but I shall insist
on returning the money to the _Bugle_ now that I have failed in my
"Dear me, how much more honest the newspaper business is than diplomacy!
The idea of returning any money never even occurred to me. The mere
suggestion freezes my young blood and makes each particular hair to
stand on end like quills upon the fretful porcupine. Our motto in the
service is, Get all you can, and keep all you get."
"But then, you see, your case differs from mine; you did your best to
succeed, and I failed through my own choice; and thus I sit here a
traitor to my paper."
"Well, Jennie," said the young man, picking up the despatch-box, which
he never allowed to leave his sight, and placing it on the table,
"you've only to say the word, and this contentious letter is in your
possession again. Do you regret your generosity?"
"Oh, no, no, no, no, I would not have it back on any account. Even
looking at the matter in the most materialistic way, success means far
more to you than it does to me. As you say, I am rich, therefore I am
going to give up my newspaper career. I suppose that is why women very
rarely make great successes of their lives. A woman's career so often is
merely of incidental interest to her; a man's career is his whole life."
"What a pity it is," mused the young man, "that one person's success
usually means another person's failure. If I were the generous,
whole-souled person I sometimes imagine myself to be, I should refuse
to accept success at the price of your failure. You have actually
succeeded, while I have actually failed. With a generosity that makes me
feel small and mean, you hand over your success to me, and I selfishly
accept it. But I compound with my conscience in this way. You and I are
to be married; then we will be one. That one shall be heir to all the
successes of each of us and shall disclaim all the failures of each.
Isn't that a good idea?"
"Excellent," replied Jennie; "nevertheless, I cannot help feeling just a
little sorry for poor Mr. Hardwick."
"Who is he--the editor?"
"Yes. He _did_ have such faith in me that it seems almost a pity to
"You mustn't trouble your mind about Hardwick. Don't think of him at
all; think of me instead."
"I am afraid I do, and have done so for some time past; nevertheless, I
shall get off at Liege and telegraph to him that I am not bringing the
document to London."
"I will send the telegram for you when we reach there; but, if I
remember rightly what you told me of his purpose, he can't be very
deeply disappointed. I understood you to say that he did not intend to
publish the document, even if he got it."
"That is quite true. He wished to act as the final messenger himself,
and was to meet me at Charing Cross Station, secure the envelope, and
take it at once to its destination."
"I must confess," said the young man, with a bewildered expression,
"that I don't see the object of that. Are you sure he told you the
"Oh, yes. The object was this. It seems that there is in the Foreign
Office some crusty old curmudgeon who delights in baffling Mr. Hardwick.
This official--I forget his name; in fact, I don't think Mr. Hardwick
told me who he was--seems, to forget the _Daily Bugle_ when important
items of news are to be given out, and Mr. Hardwick says that he favours
one of the rival papers, and the _Bugle_ has been unable, so far, to
receive anything like fair treatment from him; so Mr. Hardwick wanted
to take the document to him, and thus convince him there was danger in
making an enemy of the _Daily Bugle._ As I understood his project, which
didn't commend itself very much to me, Hardwick had no intention of
making a bargain, but simply proposed to hand over the document, and ask
the Foreign Office man to give the _Bugle_ its fair share in what was
"Do you mean to say that the official in question is the man to whom I
am to give this letter?"
"Oh, my prophetic soul, my uncle! Why, that is Sir James Cardiff, the
elder brother of my mother; he is a dear old chap, but I can well
understand an outsider thinking him gruff and uncivil. If the editor
really means what he says, then there will be no difficulty and no
disappointment. If all that is needed is the winning over of old Jimmy
to be civil to Hardwick, I can guarantee that. I am the especial
_protege_ of my uncle. Everything I know I have learned from him.
He cannot understand why the British Government does not appoint me
immediately Ambassador to France; Jimmy would do it to-morrow if he had
the power. It was through him that I heard of this letter, and I believe
his influence had a good deal to do with my getting the commission of
special messenger. It was the chagrin that my uncle Jimmy, would have
felt, had I failed, that put the final drop of bitterness in my cup of
sorrow when I came to my senses after my encounter with the Russian
police. That would have been a stunning blow to Sir James Cardiff. We
shall reach Charing Cross about 7.30 to-night, and Sir James will be
there with his brougham to take charge of me when I arrive. Now, what
do you say to our settling all this under the canopy of Charing Cross
Station? If you telegraph Mr. Hardwick to meet us there, I will
introduce him to Sir James, and he will never have any more trouble in
"I think," said the girl, looking down at the tablecloth, "that I'd
rather not have Mr. Hardwick meet us."
"Of course not," answered the young man quickly. "What was I thinking
about? It will be a family gathering, and we don't want any outsiders
about, do we?"
Jennie laughed, but made no reply.
JENNIE KEEPS STEP WITH THE WEDDING MARCH
They had a smooth and speedy passage across from Calais to Dover, and
the train drew in at Charing Cross Station exactly on time. Lord Donal
recognized his uncle's brougham waiting for him, and on handing the
young lady out of the railway carriage he espied the old man himself
closely scrutinizing the passengers. Sir James, catching sight of him,
came eagerly forward and clasped both his nephew's hands.
"Donal," he cried, "I am very glad indeed to see you. Is everything
"As right as can be, uncle."
"Then I am glad of that, too, for we have had some very disquieting
hints from the East."
"They were quite justified, as I shall tell you later on; but meanwhile,
uncle, allow me to introduce to you Miss Baxter, who has done me the
honour of promising to be my wife."
Jennie blushed in the searching rays of the electric light as the old
man turned quickly towards her. Sir James held her hand in his for some
moments before he spoke, gazing intently at her. Then he said slowly,
"Ah, Donal, Donal, you always had a keen eye for the beautiful."
"Oh, I say," cried the young man, abashed at his uncle's frankness, "I
don't call that a diplomatic remark at all, you know."
"Indeed, Sir James," said the girl, laughing merrily, "it is better than
diplomatic, it is complimentary, and I assure you I appreciate it. The
first time he met me he took me for quite another person."
"Then, whoever that person is, my dear," replied the old man, "I'll
guarantee she is a lovely woman. And you mustn't mind what I say; nobody
else does, otherwise my boy Donal here would be much higher in the
service than the present moment finds him; but I am pleased to tell
you that the journey he has now finished will prove greatly to his
"Indeed, uncle, that is true," said the young man, looking at his
betrothed, "for on this journey I met again Miss Baxter, whom, to my
great grief, I had lost for some time. And now, uncle, I want you to
do me a great favour. Do you know Mr. Hardwick, editor of the _Daily
"Yes, I know him; but I don't like him, nor his paper either."
"Well, neither do the Russians, for that matter, by this time, and I
merely wish to tell you that if it hadn't been for his action, and for
the promptness of a member of his staff, I should have failed in this
mission. I was drugged by the Russian police and robbed. Miss Baxter,
who was on the train, saw something of what was going forward, and
succeeded, most deftly, in despoiling the robbers. I was lying
insensible at the time and helpless. She secured the document and handed
it back to me when we had crossed the frontier, leaving in the hands of
the Russians a similar envelope containing a copy of the _Daily Bugle_;
therefore, uncle, if in future you can do anything to oblige Mr.
Hardwick, you will help in a measure to cancel the obligation which our
family owes to him."
"My dear boy, I shall be delighted to do so. I am afraid I have been
rather uncivil to him. If you wish it, I will go at once and apologize
"Oh, no," cried Jennie, "you must not do that; but if you can help him
without jeopardizing the service, I, for one, will be very glad."
"So shall I," said Donal.
The old man took out his card-case, and on the back of his card
scribbled a most cordial invitation to Hardwick, asking him to call on
him. He handed this to Jennie, and said,--
"Tell Mr. Hardwick that I shall be pleased to see him at any time."
"And now," said Lord Donal, "you must let us both escort you home in the
"No, no. I shall take a hansom, and will go directly to the office of
the _Bugle_, for Mr. Hardwick will be there by this time."
"But we can drive you there."
She held out her hand to Sir James and said, with the least bit of
hesitation before uttering the last word, "Good night--uncle."
"Good night, my dear," said the old man, "and God bless you," he added
with a tenderness which his appearance, so solemn and stately, left one
Lord Donal saw his betrothed into a hansom, protesting all the while at
thus having to allow her to go off unprotected.
"What an old darling he is," murmured Jennie, ignoring his protests. "I
think if Mr. Hardwick had allowed me to look after the interests of the
paper at the Foreign Office, Sir James would not have snubbed me."
"If the Foreign Office dared to do such a thing, it would hear of
something not to its advantage from the Diplomatic Service; and so,
goodnight, my dear." And, with additions, the nephew repeated the
benediction of the uncle.
Jennie drove directly to the office of the _Daily Bugle_, and, for the
last time, mounting the stairs, entered the editorial rooms. She found
Mr. Hardwick at his desk, and he sprang up quickly on seeing who his
visitor was. "Ah, you have returned," he cried. "You didn't telegraph to
me, so I suppose that means failure."
"I don't know, Mr. Hardwick. It all depends on whether or not your
object was exactly what you told me it was."
"And what was that? I think I told you that my desire was to get
possession of the document which was being transmitted from St.
Petersburg to London."
"No; you said the object was the mollifying of old Sir James Cardiff, of
the Foreign Office."
"Exactly; that was the ultimate object, of course."
"Very well. Read this card. Sir James gave it to me at Charing Cross
Station less than half an hour ago."
The editor took the card, turned it over in his hands once or twice, and
read the cordial message which the old man had scribbled on the back of
"Then you have succeeded," cried Hardwick. "You got the document; but
why did you give it to Sir James yourself, instead of letting me hand it
"That is a long story. To put it briefly, it was because the messenger
carrying the document was Lord Donal Stirling, who is--who is--an old
friend of mine. Sir James is his uncle, and Lord Donal promised that he
would persuade the old man to let other newspapers have no advantages
which he refused to the _Daily Bugle_. I did not give the document to
Sir James, I gave it back to Lord Donal."
"Lord Donal Stirling--Lord Donal Stirling," mused the editor. "Where
have I heard that name before?"
"He is a member of the British Embassy at St. Petersburg, so you may
have seen his name in the despatches."
"No. He is not so celebrated as all that comes to. Ah, I remember now. I
met the detective the other night and asked him if anything had come of
that romance in high life, to solve which he had asked your assistance.
He said the search for the missing lady had been abandoned, and
mentioned the name of Lord Donal Stirling as the foolish young man who
had been engaged in the pursuit of the unknown."
Jennie coloured at this and drew herself up indignantly.
"Before you say anything further against Lord Donal," she cried hotly,
"I wish to inform you that he and I are to be married."
"Oh, I beg your pardon," said the editor icily. "Then, having failed to
find the other girl, he has speedily consoled himself by--"
"There was no other girl. I was the person of whom Mr. Cadbury Taylor
was in search. I willingly gave him valuable assistance in the task of
failing to find myself. Having only a stupid man to deal with, I had
little difficulty in accomplishing my purpose. Neither Mr. Taylor nor
Mr. Hardwick ever suspected that the missing person was in their own
"Well, I'm blessed!" ejaculated Hardwick. "So you baffled Cadbury Taylor
in searching for yourself, as you baffled me in getting hold of the
Russian letter. It seems to me, Miss Baxter, that where your own
inclinations do not coincide with the wishes of your employers, the
interests of those who pay you fall to the ground."
"Mr. Cadbury Taylor didn't pay me anything for my services as amateur
detective, and he has, therefore, no right to grumble. As for the St.
Petersburg trip, I shall send you a cheque for all expenses incurred as
soon as I reach home."
"Oh, you mistake me," asserted Mr. Harwick earnestly. "I had no thought
of even hinting that you have not earned over and over again all the
money the _Daily Bugle_ has paid you; besides, I was longing for your
return, for I want your assistance in solving a mystery that has rather
puzzled us all. Paris is in a turmoil just now over the--"
Jennie's clear laugh rang out.
"I am going over to Paris in a day or two, Mr. Hardwick, to solve the
mystery of dressmaking, and I think, from what I know of it already, it
will require my whole attention. I must insist on returning to you the
cost of the St. Petersburg journey, for, after all, it proved to be
rather a personal excursion, and I couldn't think of allowing the paper
to pay for it. I merely came in to-night to hand you this card from
Sir James Cardiff, and I also desired to tender to you personally my
resignation. And so I must bid you good-bye, Mr. Hardwick," said the
girl holding out her hand; "and I thank you very much indeed for having
given me a chance to work on your paper."
Before the editor could reply, she was gone, and that good man sat down
in his chair bewildered by the suddenness of it all, the room looking
empty and dismal, lacking her presence.
"Confound Lord Donal Stirling!" he muttered under his breath, and then,
as an editor should he went on impassively with his night's work.
* * * * *
It was intended that the wedding should be rather a quiet affair, but
circumstances proved too strong for the young people. Lord Donal was
very popular and the bride was very beautiful. Sir James thought it
necessary to invite a great many people, and he intimated to Lord Donal
that a highly placed personage desired to honour the function with his
presence. And thus the event created quite a little flutter in the smart
set. The society papers affirmed that this elevated personage had been
particularly pleased by some diplomatic service which Lord Donal had
recently rendered him; but then, of course, one can never believe what
one reads in the society press. However, the man of exalted rank was
there, and so people said that perhaps there might be something in
the rumour. Naturally there was a great turn-out of ambassadors and
ministers, and their presence gave colour and dignity to the crush
at St. George's, Hanover Square. The Princess von Steinheimer made a
special journey from Vienna to attend, and on this occasion she brought
the Prince with her. The general opinion was that the bridegroom was a
very noble-looking fellow, and that the bride, in her sumptuous wedding
apparel, was quite too lovely for anything.
The Princess was exceedingly bright and gay, and she chatted with her
old friends the Ambassadors from Austria and America.
"I'm _so_ sorry," she said to the Ambassador from America, "that I did
not have time to speak with you at the Duchess of Chiselhurst's ball,
but I was compelled to leave early. You should have come to me sooner.
The Count here was much more gallant. We had a most delightful
conversation, hadn't we, Count? I was with Lord Donal, you remember."
"Oh, yes," replied the aged Austrian, bowing low; "I shall not soon
forget the charming conversation I had with your Highness, and I hope
you, on your part, have not forgotten the cordial invitation you gave me
to visit again your castle at Meran."
"Indeed, Count, you know very well how glad I am to see you at any time,
either in Vienna or at Meran."
The American Ambassador remained silent, and glanced alternately from
the bride to the Princess with a puzzled expression on his face.
The mystery of the Duchess of Chiselhurst's Ball proved too much for
him, as the search for the missing lady had proved too much for Mr.