Part 2 out of 2
the men themselves. It had interested him to watch Baron
Barrat bring out the ancient crown and jewelled sceptre which
had been the regalia of all the Kings of Messina since the
Crusades and spread them out upon a wicker tea-table, from
which Niccolas had just removed some empty coffee-cups, half
filled with the ends of cigarettes, some yellow-backed novels,
and a copy of the Paris Figaro. It was also interesting to
him to note how the sight of the little heir-apparent affected
both the peasants from the mountains and the young nobles from
the Club Royale. The former fell upon their knees with the
tears rolling down the furrows in their tanned cheeks, while
the little wise-eyed boy stood clinging to his nurse's skirts
with one hand and to his father's finger with the other, and
nodded his head at them gravely like a toy mandarin.
Then the King had addressed them in a dignifled, earnest, and
almost eloquent speech, and had promised much and prophesied
the best of fortunes, and then, at the last, had turned
suddenly toward Miss Carson, where she stood in the background
between her mother and Father Paul.
"Every cause has its Joan of Arc, or its Maria Theresa," he
cried, looking steadfastly at Miss Carson. "No cause has
succeeded without some good woman to aid it. To help us, my
friends, we have a daughter of the people, as was Joan of Arc,
and a queen, as was Maria Theresa, for she comes from that
country where every woman is a queen in her own right, and
where the love of liberty is inherent." The King took a quick
step backward, and taking Miss Carson's hand drew her forward
beside him and placed her facing his audience, while the girl
made vain efforts to withdraw her hand. "This is she," he
said earnestly, "the true daughter of the Church who has made
it possible for us to return to our own again. It is due to
her that the King of Messina shall sit once more on his
throne; it is through her generosity alone that the churches
will rise from their ruins and that you will once again hear
the Angelus ring across the fields at sunset. Remember her,
my friends and cousins, pray for her as a saint upon earth,
and fight gloriously to help her to success!"
Gordon had restrained himself with difficulty while this scene
was being enacted; he could not bear the thought of the King
touching the girl's hand. He struggled to prevent himself
from crying out at the false position into which he had
dragged her; and yet there was something so admirably sincere
in the King's words, something so courteous and manly, that it
robbed his words of all the theatrical effect they held, and
his tribute to the girl filled even Gordon with an emotion
which on the part of the young nobles found expression in
cheer upon cheer.
Gordon recalled these cheers and the looks of wondering
admiration which had been turned upon Miss Carson, and he grew
so hot at the recollection that he struck the wall beside him
savagely with his clinched fist, and damned the obstinacy of
his young and beautiful friend with a sincerity and vigor that
was the highest expression of his interest in her behalf.
He threw his cigar into the rampart at his feet and dropped
back into the high road. It was deserted at the time, except
for the presence of a tall, slightly built stranger, who
advanced toward him from the city gates. The man was dressed
in garments of European fashion and carried himself like a
soldier, and Gordon put him down at a glance as one of the
volunteers from Paris. The stranger was walking leisurely,
stopping to gaze at the feluccas in the bay, and then turning
to look up at the fortress on the hill. He seemed to have no
purpose in his walk except the interest of a tourist, and as
he drew up even with Gordon he raised his helmet politely and,
greeting him in English, asked if he were on the right road to
the Bashaw's Palace. Gordon pointed to where the white walls
of the palace rose above the other white walls about it.
"That is it," he said. "All the roads lead to it. You keep
going up hill."
"Thank you," said the stranger. "I see I have taken a long
way." He put his white umbrella in the sand, and, removing
his helmet, mopped his forehead with his handkerchief. "It is
a curious old town, Tangier," he said, affably, "but too many
hills, is it not so? Algiers I like better. There is more
"Yes, Algiers is almost as good as the boulevards," Gordon
assented, "if you like the boulevards. I prefer this place
because it is unspoiled. But, as you say, there is not much
to do here."
The stranger's eyes fell upon the Hotel Grande Bretagne, which
stood a quarter of a mile away from them on the beach.
"That is the Hotel Bretagne, is it not?" he asked. Gordon
answered him with a nod.
"The King Louis of Messina, so the chasseur at the hotel tells
me, is stopping there en suite," the stranger added, with an
interrogative air of one who volunteers an interesting fact,
and who asks if it is true at the same moment.
"I can't say, I'm sure," Gordon replied. "I only arrived here
The stranger bowed his head in recognition of this piece of
personal information, and, putting on his helmet, picked up
his umbrella as though to continue his stroll. As he did so
his eyes wandered over the harbor and were arrested with
apparent interest by the yacht, which lay a conspicuous object
on the blue water. He pointed at it with his umbrella.
"One of your English men-of-war is in the harbor, I see. She
is very pretty, but not large; not so large as many," he said.
Gordon turned his head obligingly and gazed at the yacht with
polite interest. "Is that a man-of-war? I thought it was a
yacht," he said. "I'm not familiar with the English
war-vessels. I am an American."
"Ah, indeed!" commented the affable stranger. "I am French
myself, but I think she is a man-of-war. I saw her guns when
I passed on the steamer from Gibraltar."
Gordon knew that the steamer did not pass within half a mile
of where the yacht lay at anchor, but he considered it might
be possible to see her decks with the aid of a glass.
"You may be right," he answered, indifferently. As he turned
his eyes from the boat he saw a woman, dressed in white, and
carrying a parasol, leave the gardens of the Hotel Bretagne,
and come toward them along the beach. The Frenchman,
following the direction of his eyes, saw her also, and
regarded her instantly with such evident concern that Gordon,
who had recognized her even at that distance as the Countess
Zara, felt assured that his inquisitor held, as he had already
suspected, more than a tourist's interest in Tangier.
"Well, I will wish you a good-morning," said the Frenchman,
"Good-morning," Gordon replied, and taking a cigar from his
case, he seated himself again upon the rampart. As he walked
away the stranger glanced back over his shoulder, but Gordon
was apparently absorbed in watching the waves below him, and
had lost all interest in his chance acquaintance. But he
watched both the woman and the Frenchman as they advanced
slowly from opposite directions and drew nearer together, and
he was not altogether surprised, when the in man was within
twenty feet of her, to see her start and stand still, and
then, with the indecision of a hunted animal, move
uncertainly, and then turn and run in the direction of the
hotel. Something the man apparently called after her caused
her to stop, and Gordon observed them now with undisguised
interest as they stood conversing together, oblivious of the
conspicuous mark they made on the broad white beach under the
"I wonder what he's up to now?" Gordon mused. "He was trying
to pump me, that's evident, and he certainly recognized the
lady, and she apparently did not want to recognize him. I
wonder if he is a rejected lover, or another conspirator.
This is a most amusing place, nothing but plots and
counterplots and--Hello!" he exclaimed aloud. The man had
moved quickly past Madame Zara, and had started toward the
hotel, and Zara had held out her hand to him, as though to
entreat him to remain. But he did not stop, and she had taken
a few uncertain steps after him, and had then, much to the
American's dismay, fallen limply on her back on the soft sand.
She was not a hundred yards distant from where he sat, and in
an instant he had slipped from the wall, and dropped on his
hands and knees on the beach below. When Gordon reached her
the Frenchman had returned, and was supporting her head on his
knee and covering her head with her parasol.
"The lady has fainted!" he exclaimed, eagerly. His manner was
no longer one of idle indolence. He was wide awake now and
"The sun has been too much for her," he said. "It is most
dangerous walking about at this time of day."
Gordon ran down the beach and scooped up some water in his
helmet, and dipping his handkerchief in it bathed her temples
and cheek. He had time to note that she was a very beautiful
girl, and the pallor of her face gave it a touch of gentleness
that he had not seen there before.
"I will go to the hotel and bring assistance, said the
stranger, uneasily, as the woman showed signs of regaining
"No," said Gordon, "you'll stay where you are and shade her
with her umbrella. She'll be all right in a minute."
The girl opened her eyes, and looking up saw Gordon bending
over her. She regarded him for a moment and made an effort to
rise, and in her endeavor to do so her eyes met those of the
Frenchman, and with a sharp moan she shut them again and threw
herself from Gordon's knee to the sand.
"Give me that umbrella," said Gordon, "and go stand over there
out of the way."
The man rose from his knee without showing any resentment and
walked some little distance away, where he stood with his arms
folded, looking out to sea. He seemed much too occupied with
something of personal interest to concern himself with a
woman's fainting-spell. The girl lifted herself slowly to her
elbow, and then, before Gordon could assist her, rose with a
quick, graceful movement and stood erect upon her feet. She
placed a detaining hand for an instant on the American's arm.
"Thank you very much," she said. "I am afraid I have been
imprudent in going out into the sun." Her eyes were fixed
upon the Frenchman, who stood moodily staring at the sea and
tearing one of his finger-nails with his teeth. He seemed
utterly oblivious of their presence. The girl held out her
hand for the parasol she had dropped and took it from Gordon
with a bow.
"May I walk back with you to your hotel?" he asked. "Unless
"Thank you," the girl said, in tones which the Frenchman could
have easily overheard had he been listening. "I am quite able
to go alone now; it is only a step."
She was still regarding the Frenchman closely; but as he was
obviously unconscious of them she moved so that Gordon hid her
from him, and in an entirely different voice she said,
"You are Mr. Gordon, the American who joined us last night.
That man is a spy from Messina. He is Renauld, the
Commander-in-Chief of their army. He must be gotten away from
here at once. It is a matter for a man to attend to. Will
you do it?"
"How do you know this?" Gordon asked. "How do you know he is
General Renauld? I want to be certain."
The girl tossed her head impatiently.
"He was pointed out to me at Messina. I saw him there in
command at a review. He has just spoken to me--that was what
frightened me into that fainting-spell. I didn't think I was
so weak," she said, shaking her head. "He offered me a bribe
to inform him of our plans. I tell you he is a spy."
"That's all right," said Gordon, reassuringly; "you go back to
the hotel now and send those guards here on a run. I'll make
a charge against him and have him locked up until after we
sail to-night. Hurry, please; I'll stay here."
Gordon felt a pleasurable glow of excitement. It was his
nature to throw himself into everything he did and to at once
become a partisan. It was a quality which made his writings
attractive to the reader, and an object of concern to his
editor. At the very word "spy," and at this first hint of
opposition to the cause in which he had but just enlisted, he
thrilled as though it had always been his own, and he regarded
the Frenchman with a personal dislike as sudden as it was
The Frenchman had turned and was walking in the direction of
the city gate. His eyes were bent on the sandy beach which
stretched before him, and he made his way utterly unmindful of
the waves that stole up to his feet and left little pools of
water in his path. Gordon beckoned impatiently to the two
soldiers who came running toward him at the hotel, and moved
forward to meet them the sooner. He took one of them by the
wrist and pointed with his other hand at the retreating figure
of the Frenchman.
"That man," he said, "is one of the King's enemies. The King
is in danger while that man is here. Your duty is to protect
the King, so he gives this foreigner into your charge."
The soldier nodded his head in assent. "The King himself sent
us," he replied.
"You will place him in the Civil Prison," Gordon continued,
"until the King is safe on his yacht, and you will not allow
him to send for the French Consul-General. If he sees the
Consul-General he will tell him a great many lies about you,
and a great war-ship will come and your Bashaw will be forced
to pay the foreigners much money. I will go with you and tell
this man in his own tongue what you are going to do with him."
They walked hurriedly after the Frenchman, and when they had
overtaken him Gordon halted and bowed.
"One moment, please," he said. "These soldiers have an order
for your arrest. I speak the language, and if you have
anything to say to them I will interpret for you."
The Frenchman stared from Gordon to the guards and then
laughed incredulously but with no great confidence. He had
much to say, but he demanded to know first why he should be
"The lady you insulted," Gordon answered, gravely, "happened,
unfortunately for you, to be one of the King's guests. She
has complained to him, and he has sent these soldiers to put
you where you cannot trouble her again. You see, sir, you
cannot annoy women with impunity even in this barbarous
"Insult her! I did not insult her," the man retorted. "That
is not the reason I am arrested."
"You annoyed her so much that she fainted. I saw you," said
Gordon, backing away with the evident purpose of abandoning
the foreigner to his guards.
"She has lied," the man cried, "either to the King or to me.
I do not know which, but I am here to find out. That is why I
came to Tangier, and I intend to learn the truth."
"You've begun rather badly," Gordon answered, as he still
retreated. "In the Civil Prison your field of investigation
will be limited."
The Frenchman took a hasty step toward him, shrugging off the
hand one of the soldiers had placed on his shoulder.
"Are you the Prince Kalonay, sir?" he demanded. "But surely
not," he added.
"No, I am not the Prince," Gordon answered. "I bid you
"Then you are on the other side," the man called after him
eagerly, with a tone of great relief. "I have been right from
the very first. I see it plainly. It is a double plot, and
you are one of that woman's dupes. Listen to me--I beg of
you, listen to me--I have a story to tell."
Gordon paused and looked back at the man over his shoulder,
"It's like the Arabian Nights," he said, with a puzzled smile.
"There was once a rich merchant of Bagdad and the Sultan was
going to execute him, but they put off the execution until he
could tell them the story of the Beautiful Countess and the
French Envoy. I am sorry," he added, shaking his head, "but I
cannot listen now. I must not be seen talking to you at all,
and everyone can see us here."
They were as conspicuous figures on the flat surface of the
beach as two palms in a desert, and Gordon was most anxious to
escape, for he was conscious that he could be observed from
every point in the town. A hundred yards away, on the terrace
of the hotel, he saw the King, Madame Zara, Barrat, and
Erhaupt standing together watching them.
"If the American leaves him now, we are safe," the King was
saying. He spoke in a whisper, as though he feared that even
at that distance Gordon and the Frenchman could overhear his
words. "But if he remains with him he will find out the
truth, and that means ruin. He will ruin us."
"Look, he is coming this way," Zara answered. "He is leaving
him. The danger is past."
The Frenchman raised his eyes and saw the four figures grouped
closely together on the terrace.
"See, what did I tell you?" he cried. "She is with the King
now. It is a plot within a plot, and I believe you know it,"
he added, furiously. "You are one of these brave blackmailers
yourself--that is why you will not let me speak."
"Blackmailers!" said Gordon. "Confound your impudence, what
the devil do you mean by that?"
But the Frenchman was staring angrily at the distant group on
the terrace, and Gordon turned his eyes in the same direction.
Something he saw in the strained and eager attitude of the
four conspirators moved him to a sudden determination.
"That will do, you must go," he commanded, pointing with his
arm toward the city gate; and before the Frenchman could
reply, he gave an order to the guards, and they seized the
foreigner roughly by either arm and hurried him away.
"Thank God!" exclaimed the King, piously. "They have
separated, and the boy thinks he is rendering us great
service. Well, and so he is, the young fool."
The group on the piazza remained motionless, watching Gordon
as he leisurely lit a cigar and stood looking out at the
harbor until the Frenchman had disappeared inside the city
wall. Then he turned and walked slowly after him.
"I do not like that. I do not like his following him," said
"That is nothing," answered the King. "He is going to play
the spy and see that the man is safely in jail. Then he will
return and report to us. We must congratulate him warmly. He
follows at a discreet distance, you observe, and keeps himself
well out of sight. The boy knows better than to compromise
himself by being seen in conversation with the man. Of
course, if Renauld is set free we must say we had no part in
his arrest, that the American made the arrest on his own
authority. What a convenient tool the young man is. Why, his
coming really frightened us at first, and now--now we make a
cat's-paw of him." The King laughed merrily. "We undervalue
ourselves sometimes, do we not?"
"He is a nice boy," said Zara. "I feel rather sorry for him.
He looked so anxious and distressed when I was so silly as to
faint on the beach just now. He handled me as tenderly as a
woman would have done--not that women have generally handled
me tenderly," she added.
"I was thinking the simile was rather misplaced," said the
Gordon passed the city wall and heard the gates swing to
behind him. The Frenchman and his two captors were just
ahead, toiling heavily up the steep and narrow street. Gordon
threw his cigar from him and ran leaping over the huge cobbles
to the Frenchman's side and touched him on the shoulder.
"We are out of sight of the hotel, now, General," he said. He
pointed to the dark, cool recesses of a coffee-shop and held
back the rug that hung before it. "Come in here," he said,
"and tell me that story."
Baron Barrat was suspicious by education--his experience of
life and his own conduct had tended to render him so; and
accordingly when, three hours after he had seen Gordon
apparently commit the French officer to jail, he found them
leaving a cafe in the most friendly and amicable spirit, he
wasted no time in investigation, but hurried at once to warn
"What we feared would happen, has happened," he said. "The
Frenchman has told Gordon that Zara and Kalonay sold the
secret of the expedition, and Gordon will be coming here to
warn you of it. Now, what are you going to do? We must act
"I shall refuse to believe the Frenchman, of course," said the
King. "I shall ask Zara in his presence to answer his
charges, and she will tell him he lies. That is all there
will be of it. What does it matter what he says? We sail at
midnight. We can keep him quiet until then."
"If he is troublesome I can call for help from this room, and
the servants of the hotel and the guards will rush in and find
us struggling together. We will charge him with an attempt at
assassination, and this time he surely will go to jail. By
to-morrow morning we shall be many miles at sea."
"But he can cable to Messina, by way of Gibraltar, and head us
off," objected Barrat.
"What can he cable?" demanded the King. "Nothing the people
of the Republic do not already know. It is our friends here
that must not find us out. That is the main thing. Thank
Heaven!" he exclaimed, "Kalonay and Paul are out of the way,
and those crazy boys from Paris. We will settle it here among
ourselves in five minutes."
"And the American?" asked Zara. "He knows, he will come with
him. Suppose he believes, suppose he believes that Kalonay
and I have sold you out, but suspects that you know it?"
"The American can go to the devil," said the King. "Confound
him and his insolence. I'll have him in the prison too, if he
interferes. Or Erhaupt can pick a quarrel with him here and
fight it out behind the sand-hills before the others get back
from their picnic. He has done as much for me before."
Zara stood up. She was trembling slightly, and she glanced
fearfully from Erhaupt to the King.
"You will not do that," she said.
"And why not, madame?" demanded Louis.
"Because it will be murder," Zara whispered. "He will murder
him as he did that boy in the Park at Pesth."
"What does the woman mean?" growled the German. "Is she mad?
Send her to her room, Louis."
"You know what I mean," Zara answered, her voice rising, in
her excitement. "You fired before they gave the word. I know
you did. Oh, Louis," she cried, "you never warned me it might
come to this. I am afraid. I am afraid to meet that man----"
She gave a sudden cry. "And Kalonay!" She held out her hands
appealingly. "Indeed," she cried, "do not let Kalonay
"Silence!" commanded the King. "You are acting like a fool."
He advanced toward her, and clasped her wrist firmly in his
hand. "No nerves, now," he said. "I'll not have it. You
shall meet Kalonay, and you shall swear that he is in the plot
against me. If you fail us now, we are ruined. As it is, we
are sure to lose the bribe from the Republic, but we may still
get Miss Carson's money if you play your part. It is your
word and the word of the Frenchman against Kalonay's.
And we have the paper signed by you for Kalonay as evidence.
Have you got it with you?"
Zara bowed her head. "It is always with me," she answered.
"Good," said the King. "It will be a difficult chance, but if
you stand to your story, and we pretend to believe you, the
others may believe you, too."
"But I cannot," Zara cried. "I know I cannot. I tell you if
you put me face to face with Kalonay, I shall fail you. I
shall break down. They will see that I am lying. Send me
away. Send me away before they come. Tell them I saw the
Frenchman, and suspected I had been found out, and that I have
gone away. Tell them you don't know where I am."
"I believe she's right," Erhaupt said. "She will do us more
harm than good. Let her go to her room and wait there."
"She will remain where she is," said the King, sternly. "And
she will keep her courage and her wits about her, or----"
He was interrupted by an exclamation from Barrat. "Whatever
you mean to do, you must do it at once," he said, grimly. He
was standing at the window which overlooked the beach. "Here
they come now," he continued. "The American has taken no
chances, he is bringing an audience with him."
The King and Erhaupt ran to the window, and peered over
Advancing toward them along the beach, some on foot, and some
on horseback, were all the members of the expedition, those
who had been of the riding-party and those who had remained in
Tangier. Gordon and the Frenchman Renauld were far in the
lead, walking by themselves and speaking earnestly together;
Father Paul was walking with Mrs. Carson and her daughter, and
Kalonay was riding with two of the volunteers, the Count de
Rouen and Prince Henri of Poitiers.
When the King and Erhaupt turned from the window the Countess
Zara had disappeared. "It is better so," said Erhaupt; "she
was so badly frightened she would have told the truth."
The King stood leaning on the back of a large arm-chair.
"Well, the moment has come, it is our last chance," he said.
"Send for the Crown Prince, Baron. I shall be discovered in
the act of taking a tender farewell of my son."
Barrat made an eager gesture of dissent.
"I would not do that," he cried. "If we are to make charges
against the jackal do not have the boy present; the boy must
not hear them. You know how Kalonay worships the child, and
it would enrage him more to be exposed before the Prince than
before all the rest of the world. He will be hard enough to
handle without that. Don't try him too far."
"You are absurd, Barrat," exclaimed the King. "The boy won't
understand what is said."
"No, but the Jackal will," Barrat returned. "You don't
understand him, Louis, he is like a woman; he has sentiment
and feelings, and when we all turn on him he will act like a
madman. Keep the boy out of his sight, I tell you. It's the
only thing he cares for in the world. He has been a better
father to him than you ever have been."
"That was quite natural; that was because it was his duty,"
said the King, calmly. "A Kalonay has always been the
protector and tutor of the heir-apparent. If this one chooses
to give his heart with his service, that is not my concern.
Why, confound them, they all think more of the child than they
do of me. That is why I need him by me now."
Barrat shook his head. "I tell you it will make trouble, he
persisted. "Kalonay will not stand it. He and the child are
more like comrades than a tutor and his pupil. Why, Kalonay
would rather sit with the boy in the Champs-Elysees and point
out the people as they go by than drive at the side of the
prettiest woman in Paris. He always treats him as though he
saw the invisible crown upon his head; he will throw over any
of us to stay in the nursery and play tin soldiers with him.
And when he was ill--" Barrat nodded his head significantly.
"That will do," said the King. "We have no time to consider
the finer feelings of the jackal; he is to be sacrificed, and
that is all there is of it. The prsence of the child may make
him more unmanageable, but it will certainly make it easier
for me. So go, bring the boy here as I bid you."
Barrat left the room and returned immediately, followed by the
Crown Prince and his nurse. The Prince was a dark, handsome
little fellow of four years. His mother had died when he was
born, and he had never played with children of his own age,
and his face was absurdly wise and wistful; but it lighted
with a sweet and grateful smile when anyone showed him
kindness or sought to arouse his interest. To the Crown
Prince Kalonay was an awful and wonderful being. He was the
one person who could make him laugh out of pure happiness and
for no reason, as a child should laugh. And people who had
seen them together asked which of the princes was the older of
the two. When the child entered the room, clinging to
Barrat's finger, he carried in his other hand a wooden spade
and bucket, still damp with sand, and he was dressed in a
shabby blue sailor suit which left his little legs bare, and
exposed the scratches and bruises of many falls. A few
moments later, when the conspirators entered the King's salon,
preceded by Erhaupt, they found the boy standing by his
father's knee. The King had his hand upon the child's head,
and had been interrupted apparently in a discourse on the
dignity of kingship, for the royal crown of Messina had been
brought out and stood beside him on the table, and his other
hand rested on it reverently. It was an effective tableau,
and the visitors observed it with varying emotions, but with
The King rose, taking his son's hand in his, and bowed,
looking inquiringly from Barrat to the Prince Kalonay.
"To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?" he asked. "Was
it discreet of you to come together in this way? But you are
most welcome. Place chairs for the ladies, Barrat."
Kalonay glanced at the others, and they nodded to him as
though to make him their spokesman. He pointed at Gordon with
"We are here on the invitation of this gentleman, your
Majesty," he said. "He took it upon himself to send after
those of us who had gone into the country, and came in person
for the others who remained in town. He tells us he has news
of the greatest importance to communicate, which he cannot
disclose except to you, and in the presence of all of those
who are to take part in the expedition. We decided to
accompany him here, as he asked us, and to leave it to your
Majesty to say whether or not you wished us to remain."
Kalonay smiled in apology at the King, and the King answered
him with a smile.
"The procedure is perhaps unconventional," the King said, "but
in America they move quickly. No doubt our young companion
has acted as he thought was for the best. If he has taken a
liberty, the nature of his news will probably excuse him.
Perhaps, Mr. Gordon," he added, turning to the American, "you
had better first tell me what this discovery is, and I will
decide whether it is best to discuss it in open council."
Gordon did not appear to be the least disturbed by the
criticism Kalonay and the King had passed upon his conduct.
He only smiled pleasantly when the King had finished speaking,
and showed no inclination to accept a private audience.
"What I have to say, your Majesty," he began, "is this. I
have learned that all the secrets of your expedition have been
sold to the Republic of Messina. One of those now present in
this room is charged with having sold them. Shall I go on,"
he asked, "or do you still think it advisable for anyone to
leave the room.
He paused and glanced from the King to the double row of
conspirators, who were standing together in a close semicircle
facing the King and himself. The instant he ceased speaking
there rose from their ranks an outburst of consternation, of
anger, and of indignant denial. The King's spirits rose
within him at the sound, although he frowned and made a
gesture as though to command silence.
"Mr. Gordon, this is a serious charge you make," he said,
smiling grimly. "One that may cost you a great deal--it might
cost you your life perhaps." He paused significantly, and
there was a second outburst, this time from the younger men,
which came so suddenly that it was as though Louis had played
upon certain chords on a keyboard, and the sounds he wanted
had answered to his touch.
"Pardon me, that is not the question," said Gordon. "That I
make charges or run risks in making charges is not important.
That your expedition has failed before it has even started is,
however, of great importance, at least so it sees to me."
There was a movement in the circle, and Father Paul pushed his
way forward from his place beside Miss Carson's chair. He was
so greatly moved that when he spoke his voice was harsh and
broken. "What is your authority for saying we have failed?"
Gordon bowed gravely and turned and pointed to the Frenchman.
"This gentleman," he said, "is General Renauld,
Commander-in-Chief of the army of Messina. He is my
authority. He knows all that you mean to do. If he knows it,
it is likely, is it not, that his army and the President of
the Republic know it also, and that when we attempt to land
they will be waiting for us."
The King silenced the second outburst that followed this by
rising and holding up his hand.
"Silence! I believe I can explain," he said. He was smiling,
and his bearing was easy and so full of assurance that the
exclamations and whispers died away on the instant. "I am
afraid I see what has happened," the King said. "But there
need be no cause for alarm. This gentleman is, as Mr. Gordon
says, the Commander-in-Chief of the Messinian army, and it is
true he suspected that an armed force would invade the island.
It is not strange that he should have suspected it, and it
needed no traitor to enlighten him. The visit of Father Paul
and the Prince Kalonay in the yacht, and their speeches
inciting the people to rebellion, would have warned the
government that an expedition might soon follow. The return
of our yacht to this place has no doubt been made known in
Messina through the public press, and General Renauld followed
the yacht here to learn what he could of our plans--of our
intended movements. He came here to spy on us, and as a spy I
ordered Mr. Gordon to arrest him this morning on any charge he
pleased, and to place him out of our way until after to-night,
when we should have sailed. I chose Mr. Gordon to undertake
this service because he happened to speak the language of the
country, and it was necessary to deal directly with the local
authorities without the intervention of an outsider. What has
happened is only too evident. The spy, who when he came here
only suspected, now, as Mr. Gordon says, knows the truth, and
he could have learned it only from one person, to whom he has
no doubt paid a pretty price for the information." The King
took a step forward and pointed with his hand at the American.
"I gave that man into your keeping, sir," he cried, "but I had
you watched. Instead of placing him in jail you took him to a
cafe and remained there with him for three hours, and from
that cafe you came directly here to this room. If he knows
the truth, he learned it in that cafe, and he learned it from
you!" There was a ring of such earnestness and sincerity in
the King's speech, and he delivered it with such indignation
and bitter contempt that a shout of relief, of approbation and
conviction, went up from his hearers, and fell as quickly on
the words as the applause of an audience drowns out the last
note of a great burst of song. Barrat, in the excess of his
relief, turned his back sharply on the King, glancing sideways
at Erhaupt and shaking his head in speechless admiration.
"He is wonderful, simply wonderful," Erhaupt muttered; "he
would have made a great actor or a great diplomat."
"He is wasted as a King," whispered Barrat.
There was a menacing movement on the part of the younger men
toward Gordon and General Renauld, which the King noted, but
which he made no effort to check. Neither Gordon nor General
Renauld gave any sign that they observed it. The American was
busily engaged in searching his pockets, and from one of these
he produced two pieces of paper, which he held up above his
head, so that those in the room might see them.
"One moment, please," he began, and then waited until the
tumult in the room had ceased. "Again, I must point out to
you," he said, in brisk, business-like tones, "that we are
digressing. The important thing is not who did, or did not,
sell out the expedition, but that it is in danger of failing
altogether. What his Majesty says is in part correct. I did
not take this gentleman to jail; I did take him to a cafe, and
there he told me much more concerning the expedition than I
had learned from those directly interested. His information,
he told me, had been sold to the Republic by one who visited
the island and who claimed to act for one other. I
appreciated the importance of what he said, and I also guessed
that my word and his unsupported might be doubted, as you have
just doubted it. So I took the liberty of verifying what
General Renauld told me by cabling to the President of
There was a shout of consternation at these words, but
Gordon's manner was so confident and the audacity of his
admission so surprised his hearers that they were silent again
immediately, and waited, with breathless interest, while
Gordon unfolded one of the pieces of paper.
"This is a copy of the cablegram I sent the President," he
said, "and to which, with his permission, I signed General
Renauld's name. It is as follows:--
The President. The Palace, Messina.--They will not believe
you are fully informed. Cable at once the exact hour when
they will leave Tangier, at what hour they expect to land, at
what place they expect to land, what sum you have promised to
pay for this information, and the names of those to whom it is
to be paid.
Gordon lowered the paper. "Is that quite clear?" he asked.
"Do you follow me? I have invited the enemy himself to inform
you of your plans, and to tell you who has betrayed them. His
answer, which was received a half hour ago, removes all
suspicion from any save those he names. General Renauld and
myself cease to be of the least consequence in the matter; we
are only messengers. It is the President of Messina who will
speak to you now. If you still doubt that the secret of your
expedition is known to the President you will have to doubt
The King sprang quickly to his feet and struck the arm of his
chair sharply with his open hand.
"I shall not permit that message to be read," he said. "If we
have a traitor here, he is a traitor against me. And I shall
deal with him as I see fit, in private."
There was a murmur of disappointment and of disapproval even,
and the King again struck the arm of his chair for silence.
Kalonay advanced toward him, shaking his head and holding out
his hands in protest.
"Your Majesty, I beseech you," he began. "This concerns us
all," he cried. "It is too evident that we have been
betrayed; but it is not fair to any of us that we should all
lie under suspicion, as we must unless it is told who has been
guilty of this infamy. I beg your Majesty to reconsider.
There is no one in this room who is not in our secret, and
whoever has betrayed us must be with us here and now. I, who
have an interest second only to your own, ask that that
cablegram be read."
There was a murmur of approbation from the conspirators, and
exclamations of approval and entreaty. Miss Carson, in her
excitement, had risen to her feet and was standing holding her
mother's hand. The King glanced uncertainly at Kalonay, and
then turned to Barrat and Erhaupt as if in doubt.
Gordon's eyes were fixed for a moment on Kalonay with a
strange and puzzled expression. Then he gave a short sigh of
relief, and turning quickly searched the faces of those around
him. What he saw seemed to confirm him in his purpose, for he
folded the paper and placed it in his pocket. "His Majesty is
right," he said. "I shall not read this."
Kalonay and Father Paul turned upon him angrily. "You have no
choice in the matter, sir," Kalonay cried. "It has passed
entirely out of your hands."
"I beg your Majesty that the cablegram be read," the priest
demanded, in a voice that held less the tone of a request than
of a command.
"I shall not read it," persisted Gordon, "because the person
chiefly concerned is not present."
"That is all the more reason for reading it," said Kalonay.
"Your Majesty must reconsider."
The King whispered to Barrat, and the others waited in silence
that expressed their interest more clearly than a chorus of
questions would have done.
"It shall be as you ask," the King said, at last. "You may
read the message, Mr. Gordon."
Gordon opened the paper and looked at it for some seconds of
time with a grave and perplexed expression, and then, with a
short breath, as one who takes a plunge, read it aloud. "This
is it," he said.
To General Renauld. Cable Office, Tangier.--They leave
Tangier Tuesday at midnight, they land at daybreak Thursday
morning on the south beach below the old breakwater. The
secret of the expedition was sold us for three hundred
thousand francs by the Countess Zara and the Prince Kalonay.
Gordon stuck the paper in his pocket, and, crossing to
Kalonay, held out his hand, with a smile. "I don't believe
it, of course," he said; "but you would have it."
Kalonay neither saw the gesture nor heard the words. He was
turning in bewilderment from the King to Father Paul, and he
"What nonsense is this?" he demanded. "Whose sorry trick is
this? The lie is not even ingenious."
General Renauld had not spoken since he had entered the room,
but now he advanced in front of Kalonay and faced him with a
"The President of Messina does not lie, sir," he said,
sternly. "I myself saw the Countess Zara write out that
paper, which I and others signed, and in which we agreed to
pay to her and to you the money you asked for betraying your
Father Paul pressed his hand heavily on Kalonay's shoulder.
"Do not answer him," he commanded. Gordon had moved to
Kalonay's other side, and the three men had unconsciously
assumed an attitude of defence, and stood back to back in a
little group facing the angry circle that encompassed them.
The priest raised his arm to command a hearing.
"Where is Madame Zara?" he cried.
"Ah, where indeed?" echoed the King, sinking back into his
chair. "She has fled. It is all too evident now; she has
betrayed us and she has fled."
But on his words, as if in answer to the priest's summons, the
curtains that hid the door into the King's private room were
pulled to one side, and Madame Zara appeared between them,
glancing fearfully at the excited crowd before her. As she
stood hesitating on the threshold, she swayed slightly and
clutched the curtains for a moment as though for support. The
priest advanced, and led her to the centre of the room. She
held a folded paper in her hand, which she gave to him in
"You have heard what has passed?" he asked, with a toss of his
head toward the heavy curtains. The woman raised her head and
bowed. The priest unfolded the paper.
"Am I to read this?" he asked. The woman bowed again.
There was silence in the room while the priest's eyes ran
quickly over the paper. He crushed it in his hand.
"It is as General Renauld says," he exclaimed. "In this the
Republic of Messina agrees to pay the Countess Zara and the
Prince Kalonay three hundred thousand francs, if the
expedition is withdrawn after it has made a pretence of
landing on the shores of Messina."
He took a step forward. "Madame Zara," he cried, in a tone of
warning, "do you pretend that the Prince Kalonay was your
accomplice in this; that he knew what you meant to do?"
Madame Zara once more bowed her head.
"No! You must speak," commanded the priest. "Answer me!"
Zara hesitated, in evident distress, and glanced appealingly
at the King; but the expression on his face was one of grief
and of unrelenting virtue. "I do," she said, at last, in a
low voice. "Kalonay did know. He thought the revolution
would not succeed; he thought it would fail, and so--and
so--and we needed money. They made me--I, O my God, I
cannot--I cannot!" she cried, suddenly, sinking on her knees
and hiding her face with her hands.
Kalonay stepped toward her and lifted her gently to her feet;
but when she looked and saw who it was that held her, she gave
a cry and pulled herself free. She staggered and would have
fallen, had not Gordon caught and held her by the arm. The
King rose from his chair and pointed at the shrinking figure
of the woman.
"Stand aside from her," he said, sternly. "Why should we pity
her, what pity has she shown for us--for me? She has robbed
me of my inheritance. But let her go, she is a woman; we
cannot punish her. Her sins rest on her own head. But
you--you," he cried, turning fiercely on Kalonay, his voice
rising to a high and melancholy key, "you whom I have heaped
with honors, whom I have leaned upon as on the arm of a
brother, that you should have sold me for silver, that you
should have turned Judas!"
The crowd of volunteers, bewildered by the rapid succession of
events, and confused and rendered desperate by the failure of
their expedition, caught up the word, and pressing forward
with a rush, surrounded Kalonay in an angry circle, crying
"Judas!" "Traitor!" and "Coward!"
Kalonay turned from side to side. On some he smiled bitterly
in silence, and at others he broke out into swift and fierce
denunciations; but the men around him crowded closer and would
not permit him to be heard. He had turned upon them, again
challenging them to listen, when there was an opening in the
circle and the men stepped back, and Miss Carson pushed her
way among them and halted at Kalonay's side. She did not look
at him, but at the men about him. She was the only calm
figure in the group, and her calmness at such a crisis, and
her youth, and the fineness and fearlessness of her beauty,
surprised them into a sudden quiet. There was instantly a cry
for order, and the men stood curious and puzzled, watching to
see what she would do.
"Gentlemen," she said, in a clear, grave voice. "Gentlemen,"
she repeated, sharply, as a few murmurs still greeted her, "if
you are gentlemen, let this lady speak. She has not
finished." She crossed quickly and took the Countess Zara by
the hand. "Go on, madame, she urged, gently. "Do not be
afraid. You say they made you do it. Who made you do it?
You have told us a part of the truth. Now tell us the whole
truth." For a moment the girl seemed much the older of the
two, and as Zara glanced up at her fearfully, she smiled to
reassure her, and stroked the woman's hand with her own. "Who
made you do it?" she repeated. "Not the Prince Kalonay,
surely. You cannot hope to make us believe that. We trust
him absolutely. Who was it, then?"
The King sprang forward with an oath; his apathy and mock
dignity had fallen from him like a mask. His face was
mottled, and his vicious little eyes flashed with fear and
anger. Erhaupt crowded close behind him, crouching like a dog
at his heels.
"She has lied enough already," the King cried. "We will not
listen to her. Take her away."
"Yes, let her go," shouted Erhaupt, with a laugh. "If she had
been a decent woman----"
There was a quick parting in the group and the sound of a
heavy blow as Kalonay flung himself upon Erhaupt and struck
him in the face, so that he staggered and fell at length upon
the floor. Gordon stood over him, his fingers twitching at
"Stand up, you bully," he said, "and get out of this, before
we throw you out."
Zara's face had turned a pitiful crimson, but her eyes flashed
and burned with resolve and indignation. She stood erect and
menacing, like an angry goddess, and more beautiful in her
indignation than they had ever seen her.
"Now, I shall tell them the truth," she said, sternly. "That
man," she cried, pointing her finger at the King, "that man
whom they call a King--that man who would have sacrificed the
only friend who serves him unselfishly--is the man who sold
your secret to the enemy. It was he who made me do it. He
sent me to Messina, and while the priest and the Prince
Kalonay were working in the south, I sold them to the
government at the capital. Barrat knew it, Erhaupt knew it,
the King himself planned it--to get money. He has robbed all
of his own people; he had meant to rob this young girl; and he
is so mean and pitiful a creature that to save himself he now
tries to hide behind the skirts of a woman, and to sacrifice
her,--the woman who has given her soul to him. And for
this--my God!" she cried, her voice rising in an accent of
agony and bitter contempt--"for this!"
There was a grim and momentous silence in the room while Zara
turned, and without waiting to learn what effect her words
might have, made her way swiftly through the crowd and passed
on out of the room and on to the terrace beyond.
The King crouched back in his chair like a common criminal in
the dock, glancing fearfully from under his lowered eyebrows
at the faces about him, and on none did he see the least
question of doubt but that Zara had at last spoken the truth.
"She lies," the King muttered, as though answering their
unspoken thoughts, "the woman lies."
There was no movement from the men about him. Shame for him,
and grief and bitter disappointment for themselves, showed on
the face of each. From outside a sea-breeze caught up the
sand of the beach and drove it whispering against the high
windows, and the beat of the waves upon the shores filled out
and marked the silence of the room.
The Prince Kalonay stepped from the circle and stood for a
moment before the King, regarding him with an expression of
grief and bitter irony. The King's eyes rose insolently, and
faltered, and sank.
"For many years, your Majesty," the Prince said, but so
solemnly that it was as though he were a judge upon the bench,
or a priest speaking across an open grave, "the Princes of my
house have served the Kings of yours. In times of war they
fought for the King in battle, they beggared themselves for
him in times of peace; our women sold their jewels for the
King, our men gave him their lives, and in all of these
centuries the story of their loyalty, of their devotion, has
had but one sequel, and has met with but one
reward,--ingratitude and selfishness and treachery. You know
how I have served you, Louis. You know that I gave up my
fortune and my home to go into exile with you, and I did that
gladly. But I did more than that. I did more than any king
or any man has the right to expect of any other man. I served
your idle purposes so well that you, yourself, called me your
jackal, the only title your Majesty has ever bestowed that was
deserved. There is no low thing nor no base thing that I have
not done for you. To serve your pleasures, to gain you money,
I have sunken so low that all the royal blood in Europe could
not make me clean. But there is a limit to what a man may do
for his King, and to the loyalty a King may have the right to
demand. And to-day and here, with me, the story of our
devotion to your House ends, and you go your way and I go
mine, and the last of my race breaks his sword and throws it
at your feet, and is done with you and yours forever."
Even those in the room who held no sympathy in their hearts
for the sentiment that had inspired the young man, felt that
at that moment and in their hearing he had renounced what was
to him his religion and his faith, and on the faces of all was
the expression of a deep pity and concern. Their own
adventure, in the light of his grief and bitterness of spirit,
seemed selfish and little, and they stood motionless, in an
awed and sorrowful silence.
The tense strain of the moment was broken suddenly by the
advent on the scene of an actor who had, in the rush of
events, been neglected and forgotten. The little Crown Prince
had stood clinging to his nurse's skirts, an uncomprehending
spectator of what was going forward. But he now advanced
slowly, feeling that the silence invited him to claim his
father's notice. He halted beside the chair in which Louis
sat, his head bent on his hands, and made an effort to draw
himself up to his father's knee.
But the King pushed him down, and hid his face from him. The
child turned irresolutely, with a troubled countenance, and,
looking up, saw that the attention of all was fixed upon him.
At this discovery a sudden flood of shyness overtook him, and
he retreated hastily until his eyes fell on the Prince
Kalonay, standing alone, with his own eyes turned resolutely
away. There was a breathless hush in the room as the child,
with a happy sigh, ran to his former friend and comrade, and
reached up both his arms. The tableau was a familiar one to
those who knew them, and meant only that the child asked to be
lifted up and swung to the man's shoulder; but following as it
did on what had just passed, the gesture and the attitude
carried with them the significance of an appeal. Kalonay, as
though with a great effort, lowered his eyes to the upturned
face of the child below him, but held himself back and stood
stiffly erect. A sharp shake of the head, as though he argued
with himself, was the only sign he gave of the struggle that
was going on within him.
At this second repulse, the child's arms dropped to his side,
his lips quivered, and he stood, a lonely little figure,
glancing up at the circle of men about him, and struggling to
press back the tears that came creeping to his eyes.
Kalonay regarded him steadfastly for a brief moment, as though
he saw him as a stranger, searching his face with eyes as
pitiful as the child's own; and then, with a sudden, sharp
cry, the Prince dropped on his knee and caught the child
toward him, crushing him against his heart, and burying his
face on his shoulder. There was a shout of exultation from
the nobles, and an uttered prayer from the priest, and in a
moment the young men had crowded in around them, struggling to
be the first to kiss the child's hands, and to ask pardon of
the man who held him in his arms.
"Gentlemen," Kalonay cried, his voice laughing through his
tears, "we shall still sail for the island of Messina. They
shall not say of us that we visited the sins of the father on
a child. I was weak, my friends, and I was credulous. I
thought I could break the tradition of centuries. But our
instincts are stronger than our pride, and the House I have
always served I shall serve to the last." He swung the Crown
Prince high upon his shoulder, and held his other arm above
his head. "You will help me place this child upon his
throne," he commanded, and the room rang with cheers. "You
will appeal to his people," he cried. "Do you not think they
will rise to this standard-bearer, will they not rally to his
call? For he is a true Prince, my comrades, who comes to them
with no stain of wrong or treachery, without a taint, as
untarnished as the white snow that lies summer and winter in
the hollow of our hills, `and a child shall lead us, and a
child shall set them free.' To the yacht!" he shouted. "We
will sail at once, and while they wait for us to be betrayed
into their hands at the north, we shall be landing in the
south, and thousands will be hurrying to our standard."
His last words were lost in a tumult of cheers and cries, and
the young men poured out upon the terrace, running toward the
shore, and filling the soft night-air with shouts of "Long
live the Prince Regent!" "Long live our King!"
As the room grew empty Kalonay crossed it swiftly and
advancing to Miss Carson took her hand. His face was radiant
with triumph and content. He regarded her steadily for a
moment, as though he could not find words to tell his
"You had faith in me," he said, at last. "Can I ever make you
understand how much that means to me? When all had turned
against me you trusted me, you had faith in me, in the King's
"Silence; you must never say that again," the girl commanded,
gently. "You have shown it to be the lie it always was. We
shall call you the Defender of the Faith now; you are the
guardian of a King." She smiled at the little boy in his
arms, and made a slight courtesy to them both. "You have
outgrown your old title," she said; "you have a proud one now,
you will be the Prince Regent."
Kalonay, with the child in his arms, and Miss Carson were
standing quite alone. General Renauld had been led away,
guarded by a merry band of youngsters; the King still crouched
in his chair, with Barrat bowed behind him, but pulling, with
philosophic calm, on a cigarette, and Father Paul and Gordon
were in close conversation with Mrs. Carson at the farther end
of the room. The sun had set, and the apartment was in
semi-darkness. Kalonay moved closer to Miss Carson and looked
boldly into her eyes, "There is a prouder title than that of
the Regent," he whispered; "will you ever give it me?"
The girl started, breathing quickly, and turned her head
aside, making an effort to free her hand, but Kalonay held it
closer in his own. "Will you give it me?" he begged.
Then the girl looked up at him smiling, but with such
confidence and love in her eyes that he read his answer,
though she shook her head, as though to belie the truth her
eyes had told him.
"When you have done your work," she said, "come to me or send
for me, and I shall come and give you my answer; and whether
you fail or succeed the answer will be the same."
Kalonay stooped quickly and kissed her hand, and when he
raised his face his eyes were smiling with such happiness that
the little child in his arms read it there, and smiled too in
sympathy, and pressed his face closer against his comrade's
Gordon at this moment moved across the room and bowed, making
a deep obeisance to the child.
"Might I be permitted," he asked, "to kiss his Royal Highness?
I should like to boast of the fact, later," he explained.
The Crown Prince turned his sad, wise eyes on him in silence,
and gravely extended a little hand.
"You may kiss his Highness's hand," said Kalonay, smiling.
Gordon laughed and pressed the fingers in his own.
"When you talk like that, Kalonay," he said, "you make me feel
like Alice in the court-room with the Kings and Queens around
her. A dozen times this afternoon I've felt like saying,
`After all, they are only a pack of cards.'"
Kalonay shook his head and glanced toward Miss Carson for
"I don't understand," he said.
"No, you couldn't be expected to," said Gordon; "You have not
been educated up to that. It is the point of view."
He stuck out the middle finger of his hand, and drove it three
times deliberately into the side of the Crown Prince. The
child gasped and stared open-mouthed at the friendly stranger,
and then catching the laugh in Gordon's eyes, laughed with
"Now," said Gordon, "I shall say that I have dug the King of
Messina in the ribs--that is even better than having kissed
him. God bless your Royal Highness," he said, bowing gravely.
"You may find me disrespectful at times," he added; "but then,
you must remember, I am going to risk a valuable life for you.
At least it's an extremely valuable one to me."
Kalonay looked at Gordon for a moment with serious
consideration, and then held out his hand. "You also had
faith in me," he said. "I thank you. Are you in earnest; do
you really wish to serve us?"
"I mean to stay by you until the boy is crowned," said the
American, "unless we separate on our several paths of
glory--where they will lead depends, I imagine, on how we have
"Or on how we die," Kalonay added. "I am glad to hear you
speak so. If you wish, I shall attach you to the person of
the Crown Prince. You shall be on the staff with the rank of
Gordon made a low and sweeping bow.
"Rise, Sir Archibald Gordon," he said. "I thank you," he
added. "We shall strive to please."
Miss Carson shook her head at him, and sighed in protest.
"Will you always take everything as a joke, Archie?" she said.
"My dear Patty," he answered, "the situation is much too
serious to take in any other way."
They moved to the door, and there the priest and Mrs. Carson
joined them; but on the threshold Kalonay stopped and looked
for the first time since he had addressed him at the King.
He regarded him for some seconds sternly in silence, and then
pointed, with his free hand, at the crown of Messina, which
still rested on the table at the King's elbow. "Colonel
Gordon," he said, in a tone of assured authority, "I give the
crown of Messina into your keeping. You will convey it, with
all proper regard for its dignity, safely on board the yacht,
and then bring it at once to me."
When he had finished speaking the Prince turned and, without
looking at the King, passed on with the others across the
terrace and disappeared in the direction of the shore, where
the launch lay waiting.
Gordon crossed the room and picked up the crown from the
table, lifting it with both hands, the King and Barrat
watching him in silence as he did so. He hesitated, and held
it for a moment, regarding it with much the same expression of
awe and amusement that a man shows when he is permitted to
hold a strange baby in his arms. Turning, he saw the sinister
eyes of the King and of Barrat fastened upon him, and he
smiled awkwardly, and in some embarrassment turned the crown
about in his hands, so that the jewels in its circle gleamed
dully in the dim light of the room. Gordon raised the crown
and balanced it on his finger-tips, regarding it severely and
shaking his head.
"There are very few of these left in the world now, your
Majesty," he said, cheerfully, "and the number is getting
smaller every year. We have none at all in my country, and I
should think--seeing they are so few--that those who have them
would take better care of them, and try to keep them
untarnished, and brushed up, and clean." He turned his head
and looked inquiringly at the King, but Louis made no sign
that he heard him.
"I have no desire, you understand me," continued Gordon,
unabashed, "to take advantage of a man when he is down, but
the temptation to say `I told you so' seems almost impossible
to resist. What?" he asked--"I beg your pardon, I thought you
spoke." But the King continued scornfully silent, and only a
contemptuous snort from Barrat expressed his feelings.
Gordon placed the crown carefully under his arm, and then
removed it quickly, with a guilty look of dismay at its former
owner, and let it swing from his hand; but this fashion of
carrying it seemed also lacking in respect, so he held it up
again with both hands and glanced at the King in some
"There ought to be a sofa-cushion to go with this, or
something to carry it on," he said, in a grieved tone. "You
see, I am new at this sort of thing. Perhaps your Majesty
would kindly give me some expert information. How do you
generally carry it?"
The King's eyes snapped open and shut again.
"On my head," he said, grimly.
Gordon laughed in great relief.
"Now, do you know, I like that," he cried. "That shows
spirit. I am glad to see you take it so cheerfully. Well, I
must be going, sir," he added, nodding, and moving toward the
door. "Don't be discouraged. As someone says, `It's always
morning somewhere,' and in my country there's just as good men
out of office as there are in it. Good-night."
While the sound of Gordon's footsteps died away across the
marble terrace, the King and Barrat remained motionless and
silent. The darkness in the room deepened and the silence
seemed to deepen with it; and still they remained immovable,
two shadowy figures in the deserted apartment where the
denunciations of those who had abandoned them still seemed to
hang and echo in the darkness. What thoughts passed through
their minds or for how long a time they might still have sat
in bitter contemplation can only be guessed, for they were
surprised by the sharp rattle of a lock, the two great doors
of the adjoining room were thrown wide open, and a broad and
brilliant light flooded the apartment. Niccolas, the King's
majordomo, stood between the doors, a black silhouette
against the glare of many candles.
"His Majesty is served!" he said.
The King lifted his head sharply, as though he found some
lurking mockery in the words, or some fresh affront; but in
the obsequious bow of his majordomo there was no mockery, and
the table beyond glistened with silver, while a pungent and
convincing odor of rich food was wafted insidiously through
the open doors.
The King rose with a gentle sigh, and nodded to his companion.
"Come, Barrat," he said, taking the baron's arm in his. "The
rascals have robbed us of our throne, but, thank God, they
have had the grace to leave me my appetite."