Part 4 out of 6
"A little nonsense now and then is--" began the Princess, and paused
"Is Mr. Chase to stay for lunch?" asked Lady Agnes irrelevantly.
"How should I know? I am not his hostess."
"Hoity-toity! I've never known you to look like that before. A little
dash of red sets your cheeks off--" But Genevra threw up her hands in
despair and started toward the stairway, her chin tilted high. Lady
Agnes, laughing softly, followed. "It's too bad she's down to marry that
horrid little Brabetz," she said to herself, with a sudden wistful
glance at the proud, vibrant, loveable creature ahead. "She deserves a
better fate than that."
Genevra waited for her at the head of the stairway.
"Agnes, I'd like you to promise that you will keep your avaricious claws
off Mrs. Browne's husband," she said, seriously.
"I'll try, my dear," said Lady Agnes meekly.
When they reached the garden, they found Deppingham smoking furiously
and quite alone. Chase had left some time before, to give warning to the
English bank that trouble might be expected. The shadow of
disappointment that flitted across Genevra's face was not observed by
the others. Bobby Browne and his wife were off strolling in the lower
end of the park.
"Poor old Deppy," cried his wife. "I've made up my mind to be
exceedingly nice to you for a whole day."
"I suppose I ought to beat you," he said slowly.
"Beat me? Why, pray?"
"I received an anonymous letter this morning, telling me of your
goings-on with Bobby Browne," said he easily. "It was stuck under my
door by Bromley, who said that Miss Pelham gave it to her. Miss Pelham
referred me to Mr. Britt and Mr. Britt urged me to keep the letter for
future reference. I think he said it could be used as Exhibit A. Then he
advised me to beat you only in the presence of witnesses."
"The whole household must be going mad," cried Genevra with a laugh.
"Oh, if something only would happen!" exclaimed her ladyship. "A riot, a
massacre--anything! It all sounds like a farce to you, Genevra, but you
haven't been here for five months, as we have."
As they moved away from the vine-covered nook in the garden, a hand
parted the leaves in the balcony above and a dark, saturnine face
appeared behind it. The two women would have felt extremely
uncomfortable had they known that a supposedly trusted servant had
followed them from the distant corridor, where he had heard every word
of their conversation. This secret espionage had been going on for days
in the chateau; scarcely a move was made or a word spoken by the white
people that escaped the attention of a swarthy spy. And, curiously
enough, these spies were no longer reporting their discoveries to
The days passed. Hollingsworth Chase now realised that he no longer had
authority over the natives; they suffered him to come and go, but gave
no heed to his suggestions. Rasula made the reports for the islanders
and took charge of the statements from the bank.
Every morning he rode boldly into the town, transacted what business he
could, talked with the thoroughly disturbed bankers, and then defiantly
made his way to the chateau. He was in love with the Princess--
desperately in love. He understood perfectly--for he was a man of
the world and cosmopolitan--that nothing could come of it. She was a
princess and she was not in a story book; she _could_ not marry him. It
was out of the question; of that he was thoroughly convinced, even in
So far as Genevra was concerned, on her part it could mean no more than
a diversion, a condescension to coquetry, a simple flirtation; it meant
the passing of a few days, the killing of time, the pleasure of gentle
conquest, and then--forgetfulness. All this he knew and reckoned with,
for she was a princess and he but a plebeian passing by.
At first she revolted against the court he so plainly paid to her in
these last few days; it was bold, conscienceless, impertinent. She
avoided him; she treated him to a short season of disdain; she did all
in her power to rebuke his effrontery--and then in the end she
surrendered to the overpowering vanity which confronts all women who put
the pride of caste against the pride of conquest.
She decided to give him as good as he sent in this brief battle of
folly; it mattered little who came off with the fewest scars, for in a
fortnight or two they would go their separate ways, no better, no worse
for the conflict. And, after all, it was very dull in these last days,
and he was very attractive, and very brave, and very gallant, and, above
all, very sensible. It required three days of womanly indecision to
bring her to this way of looking at the situation.
They rode together in the park every morning, keeping well out of range
of marksmen in the hills. A sense of freedom replaced the natural
reserve that had marked their first encounters in this little campaign
of tenderness; they gave over being afraid of each other. He was too
shrewd, too crafty to venture an open declaration; too much of a
gentleman to force her hand ruthlessly. She understood and appreciated
this considerateness. Their conflict was with the eyes, the tone of the
voice, the intervals of silence; no touch of the hand--nothing, except
the strategies of Eros.
What did it matter if a few dead impulses, a few crippled ideals, a few
blasted hopes were left strewn upon the battlefield at the end of the
fortnight? What mattered if there was grave danger of one or both of
them receiving heart wounds that would cling to them all their lives?
What did anything matter, so long as Prince Karl of Brabetz was not
One night toward the end of this week of enchanting rencontres--this
week of effort to uncover the vulnerable spot in the other's
armour--Genevra stood leaning upon the rail which enclosed the hanging
garden. She was gazing abstractedly into the black night, out of which,
far away, blinked the light in the bungalow. A dreamy languor lay upon
her. She heard the cry of the night birds, the singing of woodland
insects, but she was not aware of these persistent sounds; far below in
the grassy court she could hear Britt conversing with Saunders and Miss
Pelham; behind her in the little garden, Lady Deppingham and Browne had
their heads close together over a table on which they were playing a
newly discovered game of "solitaire"; Deppingham and Mrs. Browne leaned
against the opposite railing, looking down into the valley. The soft
night wind fanned her face, bringing to her nostrils the scent of the
fragrant forest. It was the first night in a week that he had missed
coming to the chateau.
She missed him. She was lonely.
He had told her of the meeting that was to be held at the bungalow that
night, at which he was to be asked to deliver over to Rasula's committee
the papers, the receipts and the memoranda that he had accumulated
during his months of employment in their behalf. She had a feeling of
dread--a numb, sweet feeling that she could not explain, except that
under all of it lay the proud consciousness that he was a man who had
courage, a man who was not afraid.
"How silly I am," she said, half aloud in her abstraction.
She turned her gaze away from the blinking light in the hills, a queer,
guilty smile on her lips. The wistful, shamed smile faded as she looked
upon the couple who had given her so much trouble a week ago. She felt,
with a hot flash of self-abasement, as if she was morally responsible
for the consequences that seemed likely to attend Lady Deppingham's
Across the garden from where she was flaying herself bitterly, Lady
Deppingham's husband was saying in low, agitated tones to Bobby Browne's
wife, with occasional furtive glances at the two solitaire workers:
"Now, see here, Brasilia, I'm not saying that our--that is, Lady
Deppingham and Bobby--are accountable for what has happened, but that
doesn't make it any more pleasant! It's of little consequence _who_ is
trying to poison us, don't you know. And all that. _They_ wouldn't do
it, I'm sure, but _somebody_ is! That's what I mean, d'ye see? Lady
"I _know_ my husband wouldn't--couldn't do such a thing, Lord
Deppingham," came from Drusilla's stiff lips, almost as a moan. She was
"Of course not, my dear Drusilla," he protested nervously. Then
suddenly, as his eye caught what he considered a suspicious movement of
Bobby's hand as he placed a card close to Lady Deppingham's fingers:
"Demme, I--I'd rather he wouldn't--but I beg your pardon, Drusilla! It's
all perfectly innocent."
"Of course, it's innocent!" whispered Drusilla fiercely.
"You know, my dear girl, I--I don't hate your husband. You may have a
feeling that I do, but----"
"I suppose you think that I hate your wife. Well, I don't! I'm very fond
"It's utter nonsense for us to suspect them of--Pray don't be so upset,
Drusilla. It's all right----"
"If you think I am worrying over your wife's _harmless_ affair with my
husband, you are very much mistaken."
Deppingham was silent for a long time.
"I don't sleep at all these night," he said at last, miserably. She
could not feel sorry for him. She could only feel for herself and _her_
sleepless nights. "Drusilla, do--do you think they want to get rid of
us? We're the obstacles, you know. We can't help it, but we are.
Somebody put that pill in my tea to-day. It must have been a servant. It
couldn't have been--er----"
"My husband, sir?"
"No; my wife. You know, Drusilla, she's not that sort. She has a horror
of death and--" he stopped and wiped his brow pathetically.
"If the servants are trying to poison any of us, Lord Deppingham, it is
reasonable to suspect that your wife and my husband are the ones they
want to dispose of, not you and me. I don't believe it was poison you
found in your tea. But if it was, it was intended for one of the heirs."
"Well, there's some consolation in that," said Deppy, smiling for the
first time. "It's annoying, however, to go about feeling all the time
that one is likely to pass away because some stupid ass of an assassin
makes a blunder in giving--"
The sharp rattle of firearms in the distance brought a sudden stop to
his lugubrious reflections. Five, a dozen--a score of shots were heard.
The blood turned cold in the veins of every one in the garden; faces
blanched suddenly and all voices were hushed; a form of paralysis seized
and held them for a full minute.
Then the voice of Britt below broke harshly upon the tense, still air:
"Good God! Look! It is the bungalow!"
A bright glow lighted the dark mountain side, a vivid red painted the
trees; the smell of burning wood came down with the breezes. Two or
three sporadic shots were borne to the ears of those who looked toward
the blazing bungalow.
"They've killed Chase!" burst from the stiff lips of Bobby Browne.
"Damn them!" came up from below in Britt's hoarse voice.
CHASE COMES FROM THE CLOUDS
For many minutes, the watchers in the chateau stared at the burning
bungalow, fascinated, petrified. Through the mind of each man ran the
sudden, sharp dread that Chase had met death at the hands of his
enemies, and yet their stunned sensibilities refused at once to grasp
the full horror of the tragedy.
Genevra felt her heart turn cold; then something seemed to clutch her by
the throat and choke the breath out of her body. Through her brain went
whirling the recollection of his last words to her that afternoon:
"They'll find me ready if they come for trouble." She wondered if he had
been ready for them or if they had surprised him! She had heard the
shots. Chase could not have fired them all. He may have fired
once--perhaps twice--that was all! The fusilade came from the guns of
many, not one. Was he now lying dead in that blazing--She screamed aloud
with the thought of it!
"Can't something be done?" she cried again and again, without taking her
gaze from the doomed bungalow. She turned fiercely upon Bobby Browne,
his countryman. Afterward she recalled that he stood staring as she had
stared, Lady Deppingham clasping his arm with both of her hands. The
glance also took in the face of Deppingham. He was looking at his wife
and his eyes were wide and glassy, but not with terror. "It may not be
too late," again cried the Princess. "There are enough of us here to
make an effort, no matter how futile. He may be alive and trapped, up--"
"You're right," shouted Browne. "He's not the kind to go down with the
first rush. We must go to him. We can get there in ten minutes. Britt!
Where are the guns? Are you with us, Deppingham?"
He did not wait for an answer, but dashed out of the garden and down the
steps, calling to his wife to follow.
"Stop!" shouted Deppingham. "We dare not leave this place! If they have
turned against Chase, they are also ready for us. I'm not a coward,
Browne. We're needed here, that's all. Good God, man, don't you see what
it means? It's to be a general massacre! We all are to go to-night. The
servants may even now be waiting to cut us down. It's too late to help
Chase. They've got him, poor devil! Everybody inside! Get to the guns if
possible and cut off the servants' quarters. We must not let them
surprise us. Follow me!"
There was wisdom in what he said, and Browne was not slow to see it
clearly. With a single penetrating glance at Genevra's despairing face,
he shook his head gloomily, and turned to follow Deppingham, who was
hurrying off through the corridor with her ladyship.
"Come," he called, and the Princess, feeling Drusilla's hand grasping
her arm, gave one helpless look at the fire and hastened to obey.
In the grand hallway, they came upon Britt and Saunders white-faced and
excited. The white servants were clattering down the stairways, filled
with alarm, but there was not one of the native attendants in sight.
This was ominous enough in itself. As they huddled there for a moment,
undecided which way to turn, the sound of a violent struggle in the
lower corridor came to their ears. Loud voices, blows, a single shot,
the rushing of feet, the panting of men in fierce combat--and then, even
as the whites turned to retreat up the stairway, a crowd of men surged
up the stairs from below, headed by Baillo, the major-domo.
"Stop, excellencies!" he shouted again and again. Bobby Browne and
Deppingham were covering the retreat, prepared to fight to the end for
their women, although unarmed. It was the American who first realised
that Baillo was not heading an attack upon them. He managed to convey
this intelligence to the others and in a moment they were listening in
wonder to the explanations of the major-domo.
Surprising as it may appear, the majority of the servants were faithful
to their trust, Baillo and a score of his men had refused to join the
stable men and gardeners in the plot to assassinate the white people. As
a last resort, the conspirators contrived to steal into the chateau,
hoping to fall upon their victims before Baillo could interpose. The
major-domo, however, with the wily sagacity of his race, anticipated the
move. The two forces met in the south hall, after the plotters had
effected an entrance from the garden; the struggle was brief, for the
conspirators were outnumbered and surprised. They were even now lying
below, bound and helpless, awaiting the disposition of their intended
"It is not because we love you, excellencies," explained Baillo, with a
sudden fierce look in his eyes, "but because Allah has willed that we
should serve you faithfully. We are your dogs. Therefore we fight for
you. It is a vile dog which bites its master."
Browne, with the readiness of the average American, again assumed
command of the situation. He gave instructions that the prisoners, seven
in number, be confined in the dungeon, temporarily, at least. Bobby did
not make the mistake of pouring gratitude upon the faithful servitors;
it would have been as unwise as it was unwelcome. He simply issued
commands; he was obeyed with the readiness that marks the soldier who
dies for the cause he hates, but will not abandon.
"There will be no other attack on us to-night," said Browne, rejoining
the women after his interview with Baillo. "It has missed fire for the
present, but they will try to get at us sooner or later from the
outside. Britt, will you and Mr. Saunders put those prisoners through
the 'sweat' box? You may be able to bluff something out of them, if you
threaten them with death. They--"
"It won't do, Browne," said Deppingham, shaking his head. "They are
fatalists, they are stoics. I know the breed better than you. Question
if you like, but threats will be of no avail. Keep 'em locked up, that's
Firearms and ammunition were taken from the gunroom to the quarters
occupied by the white people. Every preparation was made for a defence
in the event of an attack from the outside or inside. Strict orders were
given to every one. From this night on, the occupants of the chateau
were to consider themselves in a state of siege, even though the enemy
made no open display against them. Every precaution against surprise was
taken. The white servants were moved into rooms adjoining their
employers; Britt and Saunders transferred their belongings to certain
gorgeous apartments; Miss Pelham went into a Marie Antoinette suite
close by that of the Princess. The native servants retained their
customary quarters, below stairs. It was a peculiar condition that all
of the native servants were men; no women were employed in the great
establishment, nor ever had been.
Far in the night, Genevra, sleepless and depressed, stole into the
hanging garden. Her mind was full of the horrid thing that had happened
to Hollingsworth Chase. He had been nothing to her--he could not have
been anything to her had he escaped the guns of the assassins. And yet
her heart was stunned by the stroke that it had sustained. Wide-eyed and
sick, she made her way to the railing, and, clinging to the vines,
stared for she knew not how long at the dull red glow on the mountain.
The flames were gone, but the last red tinge of their anger still clung
to the spot where the bungalow had stood. Behind her, there were lights
in a dozen rooms of the chateau. She knew that she was not the only
sleepless one. Others were lying wide awake and tense, but for reasons
scarcely akin to hers; they were appalled, not heartsick.
The night was still and ominously dark. She had never known a night
since she came to Japat when the birds and insects were so mute. A
sombre, supernatural calm hung over the island like a pall. Far off,
over the black sea, pulsed the fitful glow of an occasional gleam of
lightning, faint with the distance which it traversed. There was no
moon; the stars were gone; the sky was inky and the air somnolent. The
smell of smoke hung about her. She could not help wondering if his fine,
strong body was lying up there, burnt to a crisp. It was far past
midnight; she was alone in the garden. Sixty feet below her was the
ground; above, the black dome of heaven.
She was not to know till long afterward that one of her faithful
Thorberg men stood guard in the passage leading up from the garden,
armed and willing to die. One or the other slept in front of her door
through all those nights on the island.
Something hot trickled down her cheeks from the wide, pitying eyes that
stared so hard. She was wondering now if he had a mother--sisters. How
their hearts would be wrenched by this! A mute prayer that he might have
died in the storm of bullets before the fire swept over him struggled
against the hope that he might have escaped altogether. She was thinking
of him with pity and horror in her heart, not love.
A question was beginning to form itself vaguely in her troubled mind.
Were all of them to die as Chase had died?
Suddenly there came to her ears the sound of something swishing through
the air. An instant later, a solid object fell almost at her feet. She
started back with a cry of alarm. A broad shaft of light crossed the
garden, thrown by the lamps in the upper hall of the chateau. Her eyes
fell upon a wriggling, snakelike thing that lay in this path of light.
Fascinated, almost paralysed, she watched it for a full minute before
realising that it was the end of a thick rope, which lost itself in the
heavy shadows at the cliff end of the garden. Looking about in terror,
as if expecting to see murderous forms emerge from the shadows, she
turned to flee. At the head of the steps which led downward into the
corridor, she paused for a moment, glancing over her shoulder at the
mysterious, wriggling thing. She was standing directly in the shaft of
light. To her surprise, the wriggling ceased. The next moment, a faint,
subdued shout was borne to her ears. Her flight was checked by that
shout, for her startled, bewildered ears caught the sound of her own
name. Again the shout, from where she knew not, except that it was
distant; it seemed to come from the clouds.
At last, far above, she saw the glimmer of a light. It was too large to
be a star, and it moved back and forth.
Sharply it dawned upon her that it was at the top of the cliff which
overhung the garden and stretched away to the sea. Some one was up there
waving a lantern. She was thinking hard and fast, a light breaking in
upon her understanding. Something like joy shot into her being. Who else
could it be if not Chase? He alone would call out her name! He was
She called out his name shrilly, her face raised eagerly to the bobbing
light. Not until hours afterward was Genevra to resent the use of her
Christian name by the man in the clouds.
In her agitation, she forgot to arouse the chateau, but undertook to
ascertain the truth for herself. Rushing over, she grasped the knotted
end of the rope. A glance and a single tug were sufficient to convince
her that the other end was attached to a support at the top of the
cliff. It hung limp and heavy, lifeless. A sharp tug from above caused
it to tremble violently in her hands; she dropped it as if it were a
serpent. There was something weird, uncanny in its presence, losing
itself as it did in the darkness but a few feet above her head. Again
she heard the shout, and this time she called out a question.
"Yes," was the answer, far above. "Can you hear me?" Greatly excited,
she called back that she could hear and understand. "I'm coming down the
rope. Pray for us--but don't worry! Please go inside until we land in
the garden. It's a long drop, you know."
"Are you quite sure--is it safe?" she called, shuddering at the thought
of the perilous descent of nearly three, hundred feet, sheer through the
"It's safer than stopping here. Please go inside."
She dully comprehended his meaning: he wanted to save her from seeing
his fall in the event that the worst should come to pass. Scarcely
knowing what she did, she moved over into the shadow near the walls and
waited breathlessly, all the time wondering why some one did not come
from the chateau to lend assistance.
At last that portion of the rope which lay in the garden began to jerk
and writhe vigorously. She knew then that he was coming down, hand over
hand, through that long, dangerous stretch of darkness. Elsewhere in
this narrative, it has been stated that the cliff reared itself sheer to
the height of three hundred and fifty feet directly behind the chateau.
At the summit of this great wall, a shelving ledge projected over the
hanging garden; a rope dangling from this ledge would fall into the
garden not far from the edge nearest the cliff. The summit of the cliff
could be gained only by traversing the mountain slope from the other
side; it was impossible to scale it from the floor of the valley which
it bounded. A wide table-land extended back from the ledge for several
hundred yards and then broke into the sharp, steep incline to the summit
of the mountain. This table-land was covered by large, stout trees,
The rope was undoubtedly attached to the trunk of a sturdy tree at the
brow of the cliff.
She could look no longer; it seemed hours since he started from the top.
Every heart-beat brought him nearer to safety, but would he hold out?
Any instant might bring him crashing to her feet--dead, after all that
he may have lived through during that awful night.
At last she heard his heavy panting, groaning almost; the creaking and
straining of the rope, the scraping of his hands and body. She opened
her eyes and saw the bulky, swaying shadow not twenty feet above the
garden. Slowly it drew nearer the grass-covered floor--foot by foot,
straining, struggling, gasping in the final supreme effort--and then,
with a sudden rush, the black mass collapsed and the taut rope sprung
loose, the end switching and leaping violently.
Genevra rushed frantically across the garden, half-fearful, half-joyous.
As she came up, the mass seemed to divide itself into two parts. One
sank limply to the ground, the other stood erect for a second and then
dropped beside the prostrate, gasping figure.
Chase had come down the rope with another human being clinging to his
Genevra fell to her knees beside the man who had accomplished this
miracle. She gave but a passing glance at the other dark figure beside
her. All of her interest was in the writhing, gasping American. She
grasped his hands, warm and sticky with blood; she tried to lift his
head from the ground, moaning with pity all the time, uttering words of
encouragement in his ear.
Many minutes passed. At last Chase gave over gasping and began to
breathe regularly but heavily. The strain had been tremendous; only
superhuman strength and will had carried him through the ordeal. He
groaned with pain as the two beside him lifted him to a sitting posture.
"Tell Selim to come ahead," he gasped, his bloody hand at his throat.
"We're all right!"
Then, for the first time, Genevra peered in the darkness at the figure
beside her. She stared in amazement as it sprang lightly erect and
glided across to the patch of light. It was then that she recognised the
figure of a woman--a slight, graceful woman in Oriental garb. The woman
turned and lifted her face to the heights from which she had descended.
In a shrill, eager voice she called out something in a language strange
to the Princess, who knelt there and stared as if she were looking upon
a being from another world. A faint shout came from on high, and once
more the rope began to writhe.
The Princess passed her hand over her eyes, bewildered. The face of the
woman in the light, half-shaded, half-illumined, was gloriously
beautiful--young, dark, brilliant!
"Oh!" she exclaimed, starting to her feet, a look of understanding
coming into her eyes. This was one of the Persians! He had saved her! A
feeling of revulsion swept over her, combatting the first natural,
womanly pride in the deed of a brave man.
Chase struggled weakly to his feet. He saw the tense, strained figure
before him, and, putting out his hand, said:
"She is Selim's wife. I am stronger than he, so I brought her down."
Then looking upward anxiously, he shouted:
"Be careful, Selim! It's easy if you take your time to it."
"Selim's wife, Neenah, saved my life." It was the next morning and Chase
was relating his experiences to an eager marvelling company in the
breakfast room. "She has a sister whose husband was one of the leaders
in the attack. Neenah told Selim and Selim told me. That's all. We were
prepared for them when they came last night. Days ago, Selim and I
cached the rope at the top of the cliff, anticipating just such an
emergency as this, and intending to use it if we could reach the chateau
in no other way. I figured that they would cut off all other means of
getting into your grounds.
"Neenah came up from the village ahead of the attacking party, out of
breath and terribly frightened. We didn't waste a second, let me tell
you. Grabbing up our guns, we got out through the rear and made a dash
across the stable yard. It was near midnight. I had received the
committee at nine and had given them my reasons for not resigning the
post. They went away apparently satisfied, which aroused my suspicions.
I knew that there was something behind that exhibition of meekness.
"The servants, all of whom were up and ready to join in the fight,
attempted to head us off. We had a merry little touch of real warfare
just back of the stables. It was as dark as pitch, and I don't believe
we hit anybody. But it was lively scrambling for a minute or two, let me
tell you." Chase shook his head in sober recollection of the preliminary
Deppingham's big blue eyes were fairly snapping. His wife put her hand
on his shoulder with an impulse strange to her and Genevra saw a light
blaze in her eyes. "I hope you potted a few of 'em. Serve 'em jolly well
"Selim says he stumbled over something that groaned as we were racing
for the back road. I was looking out for Neenah." He glanced
involuntarily from Lady Agnes to the Princess, a touch of confusion
suddenly assailing him. "Selim covered the retreat," he added hastily.
"Instead of keeping the road, we turned up the embankment and struck
into the forest. Dropping down behind the bushes, we watched those
devils from the town race pell-mell, howling and shooting, down the
chateau road. There must have been a hundred of 'em. Five minutes later,
the bungalow was afire. It was as bright as day and I had no trouble in
recognising Rasula in the crowd. Selim led the way and I followed with
Neenah. It was hard going, let me tell you, up hill and down, stumbles
and tumbles, scratches and bumps, through five miles of the blackest
night imaginable. Hang it all, Browne, I didn't have time to save that
case of cigarettes; I'm out nearly a hundred boxes. And those novels you
lent me, Lady Deppingham--I can't return. Sorry."
"You might have saved the cigarettes and novels if you hadn't been so
occupied in saving the fair Neenah," said her ladyship, with a provoking
"Alas! I thought of that also, but too late. Still, virtue was its own
reward. Imagine my delight when we stopped to rest to have Neenah divide
her own little store of Turkish cigarettes with me. We had a bully smoke
up there in the wood."
"Selim, too?" asked Browne casually.
"Oh, no! Selim was exploring," said Chase easily.
"Neenah is very beautiful," ventured Lady Agnes.
"She is exquisite," replied Chase with the utmost _sang froid_. "Selim
bought her last winter for a ten karat ruby and a pint of sapphires."
"That explains her overwhelming love for Selim," said the Princess
quietly. Chase looked into her eyes for a moment and smiled inwardly.
"I'll be happy to tell you all about her some other time," he said. "Her
story is most interesting."
"That will be perfectly delightful," chimed in Drusilla. "We shan't miss
those racy novels, after all."
"We finally got to the edge of the cliff and unearthed the rope, which
we already had fastened to the trunk of a tree. It had been securely
spliced in three places beforehand, giving us the proper length. It was
a frightful trip we had over the ridge. Exhibit: the scratches upon my
erstwhile beautiful countenance; reserved: the bruises upon my unhappy
knees and elbows. I was obliged to carry Neenah for the last quarter of
a mile, poor little girl. She was tied to my back, leaving my throat and
chest free, and down we came. Simplest thing in the world. Presto! Here
am I, with my happy family at my heels."
"Well, we can't sit here and dawdle all day," exclaimed Deppingham. "We
must be moving about--arrange our batteries, and all that, don't you
know. Get out a skirmish line, nominate our spies, bolster up our
defences, set a watch, court-martial the prisoners, and look into the
commissariat. We've got to stave these devils off for two or three
weeks, at least, and we'll have to look sharp. Browne, that's the third
cup of coffee you've had. Come along! This isn't Boston."
As they left the breakfast room, Chase stepped to Genevra's side and
walked with her. They traversed the full length of the long hall in
silence. At the foot of the stairs, where they were to part, she
extended her hand, a bright smile in her eyes.
"You were and are very brave and good," she said. He withheld his hand
and she dropped hers, hurt and strangely vexed. "Don't you care for my
approval? Or do you--"
"You forget, Princess, that my hands are still suffering from the
bravery you would laud," he said, holding them resolutely behind his
"Oh, I remember!" she cried in quick comprehension. "They were cut and
bruised by the rope. How thoughtless of me. What are you doing for them?
Come, Mr. Chase, may I not dress them for you? I am capable--I am not
afraid of wounds. We have had many of them in our family--and fatal ones
too." She was eager now, and earnest.
He shook his head, with a smile on his lips. "I thank you. They are
better--much better, and they have been quite properly bandaged
"Yes," he replied gently. She seemed to search his mind with a quick,
intense look into his eyes. Then she smiled and said: "I'll promise not
to bruise the wounds if you'll only be so good as to shake hands with
He took her slender hand in his broad, white-swathed palm and pressed it
fervently, regardless of the pain which would have caused him to cringe
if engaged in any other pursuit.
The forenoon was fully occupied with the preparations for defence. Every
precaution was taken to circumvent the plans of the enemy. There was no
longer any doubt as to the intentions of the disappointed islanders. Von
Blitz and Rasula had convinced them that their cause was seriously
jeopardised; they were made to see the necessity for permanently
removing the white pretenders from their path.
Deppingham, on account of his one time position in the British army, was
chosen chief officer of the beleaguered "citadel." A strict espionage
was set upon the native servants, despite Baillo's assurances of
loyalty. Lookouts were posted in the towers and a ceaseless watch was to
be kept day and night. Chase, on his first visit to the west tower,
discovered a long unused searchlight of powerful dimensions. Fortunately
for the besieged, the electric-light plant was located in the chateau
grounds and could not be tampered with from the outside. A quantity of
fuel, sufficient to last for a couple of months, was found in the bins.
Britt was put in charge of the night patrol, Saunders the day. Strict
orders were given that no one was to venture into that portion of the
park open to long-range shots from the hills. Chase set the minds of all
at rest by announcing that the islanders would not seek to set fire to
the chateau from the cliffs: such avaricious gentlemen as Von Blitz and
Rasula would never consent to the destruction of property so valuable.
Selim, under orders, had severed the long rope with a single rifle shot;
no one could hope to reach the chateau by way of the cliff.
Extra precautions were taken to guard the women from attacks from the
inside. The window bars were locked securely and heavy bolts were placed
on the doors leading to the lower regions. It was now only too apparent
that Skaggs and Wyckholme had wrought well in anticipation of a
rebellion by the native shareholders. Each window had its adjustable
grates, every outer door was protected by heavy iron gates.
By nightfall Deppingham's forces were in full possession of every
advantage that their position afforded. In the cool of the evening, they
sat down to rest in the great stone gallery overlooking the sea,
satisfied that they were reasonably secure from any assault that their
foes might undertake. No sign of hostility had been observed during the
day. Japat looked, as observed from the chateau, to be the most peaceful
spot in the world.
Chase came from his room, still stiff and sore, but with fresh, white
bandages on his blistered hands. He asked and received permission to
light a cigarette, and then dropped wearily into a seat near the
Princess, who sat upon the stone railing. She was leaning back against
the column and looking dreamily out across the lowlands toward the
starlit sea. The never-ceasing rush of the mountain stream came plainly
up to them from below; now and then a cool dash of spray floated to
their faces from the waterfall hard by.
The soft light from the shaded windows fell upon her glorious face.
Chase sat in silence for many minutes, covertly feasting his eyes upon
her loveliness. Her trim, graceful, seductive figure was outlined
against the darkness; a delicate, sensuous fragrance exhaled from her
person, filling him with an indescribable delight and languor; the spell
of her beauty was upon him and he felt the leap of his blood.
"If I were you," he said at last, reluctant to despoil the picture, "I
wouldn't sit up there. It would be a very simple matter for one of our
friends to pick you off with a shot from below. Please let me pull up a
chair for you."
She smiled languidly, without a trace of uneasiness in her manner.
"Dear officer of the day, do you think they are so foolish as to pick us
off in particles? Not at all. They will dispose of us wholesale, not by
the piece. By the way, has Neenah been made quite comfortable?"
"I believe so. She and Selim have the room beyond mine, thanks to Lady
"Agnes tells me that she is very interesting--quite like a princess out
of a fairy book. You recall the princesses who were always being
captured by ogres and evil princes and afterward satisfactorily rescued
by those dear knights admirable? Did Selim steal her in the beginning?"
"You forget the pot of sapphires and the big ruby."
"They say that princesses can be bought very cheaply."
"Depends entirely upon the quality of princess you desire. It's very
much like buying rare gems or old paintings, I'd say."
"Very much, I'm sure. I suppose you'd call Neenah a rare gem?"
"She is certainly not an old painting."
"How old is she, pray?"
"Seventeen--by no means an antique. Speaking of princesses and ogres,
has it occurred to you that you would bring a fortune in the market?"
"You know, it's barely possible that you may be put in a matrimonial
shop window if Von Blitz and his friends should capture you alive. Ever
think of that?"
"Good heavens! You--why, what a horrible thing to say!"
"You won't bring as much in the South Sea market as you would in
Rapp-Thorberg or Paris, but I daresay you could be sold for--"
"Please, Mr. Chase, don't suggest anything so atrocious," she cried,
something like terror in her voice.
"Neenah's father sold her for a handful of gems," said he, with distinct
meaning in his voice. She was silent, and he went on after a moment. "Is
there so much difference, after all, where one is sold, just so long as
the price is satisfactory to all concerned?"
"You are very unkind, Mr. Chase," she said with quiet dignity. "I do not
deserve your sarcasm."
"I humbly plead for forgiveness," he said, suddenly contrite. "It was
"American wit, I imagine you call it," she said scornfully. "I don't
care to talk with you any longer."
"Won't you forgive me? I'm a poor brute--don't lash me. In two or three
weeks I'll step down and out of your life; that will be penalty enough,
don't you think?"
"For whom?" she asked in a voice so low that he could scarcely hear the
words. Then she laughed ironically. "I _do_ forgive. It is all that a
prince or a princess is ever asked to do, I'm beginning to believe. I
also forgive you for coming into my life."
"If I had been a trifle more intelligent, I should not have come into it
at all," he said. She turned upon him quickly, stung by the remark.
"Is that the way you feel about it?" she asked sharply.
"You don't understand. A man of intelligence would never have kicked
Prince Karl. As a matter of fact, in trying to kick Prince Karl out of
your life, I kicked myself into it. A very simple process, and yet
scarcely intellectual. A jackass could have done as much."
"A jackass may kick at a king," she paraphrased casually. "A cat may
only look at him. But let us go back to realities. Do you mean to tell
me that they--these wretches--would dare to sell me--us, I mean--into
the kind of slavery you mention?" A trace of anxiety deepened the tone
of her voice. She was now keenly alert and no longer trivial.
"Why not?" he asked soberly, arising and coming quite close to her side.
"You are beautiful. If they should take you alive, it would be a very
simple matter for any one of these men to purchase you from the others.
You might easily be kept on this island for the rest of your days, and
the world would be none the wiser. Or you could be sold into Persia, or
Arabia, or Turkey. I am not surprised that you shudder. Forgive me for
alarming you, perhaps needlessly. Nevertheless, it is a thing to
consider. I have learned all of the plans from Selim's wife. They do not
contemplate the connubial traffic, 'tis true, but that would be a
natural consequence. Von Blitz and Rasula mean to destroy all of us. We
are to disappear from the face of the earth. When our friends come to
look for us, we will have died from the plague and our bodies will have
been burned, as they always are in Japat. There will be no one left to
deny the story. All outsiders are to be destroyed--even the Persian and
Turkish women, who hate their liege lords too well. After to-morrow, no
ship is due to put in here for three weeks. They will see to it that
none of us get out to that ship; nor will the ship's officers know of
our peril. The word will go forth that the plague has come to the
island. That is the first step, your highness. But there is one obstacle
they have overlooked," he concluded. She looked up inquiringly.
"My warships," he said, the whimsical smile broadening.
THE PLAGUE IS ANNOUNCED
The next morning, a steamship flying the English flag came to anchor off
Aratat, delivered and received mail bags, and after an hour's stay
steamed away in the drift of the southeast trade winds, Bombay to Cape
Colony. The men at the chateau gazed longingly, helplessly through their
glasses at this black hulled visitor from the world they loved; they
watched it until nothing was left to be seen except the faint cloud of
smoke that went to a pin point in the horizon. There had been absolutely
no opportunity to communicate with the officers of the ship; they sailed
away hurriedly, as if in alarm. Their haste was significant.
"I guess we'd better not tell the women," said Bobby Browne, heaving a
deep sigh. "It won't add to their cheerfulness if they hear that a ship
has called here."
"It couldn't matter in any event," said Deppingham. "We've got to stick
here two weeks longer, no matter how many ships call. I'm demmed if I'll
funk now, after all these rotten months."
"Perhaps Bowles succeeded in getting a word with the officer who came
ashore," said Browne hopefully. "He knows the danger we are in."
"My dear Browne, Bowles hadn't the ghost of a chance to communicate with
the ship," said Chase. "He can't bully 'em any longer with his Tommy
Atkins coat. They've outgrown it, just as he has. It was splendid while
it lasted, but they're no more afraid of it now than they are of my
warships. I wish there was some way to get him and his English
assistants into the chateau. It's awful to think of what is coming to
them, sooner or later."
"Good God, Chase, is there no way to help them?" groaned Deppingham.
"I'll never forget poor Bowles, the first time I saw him in his dinky
red jacket and that Hooligan cap of his," reflected Chase, as if he had
not heard Deppingham's remark. "He put them on and tried to overawe the
crowd that night when I was threatened in the market-place. He did his
best, poor chap, and I----"
"Look!" exclaimed Britt suddenly, pointing toward one of the big gates
in the upper end of the park. "I believe they're making an attack!"
The next instant the men in the balcony were leaving it pell-mell,
picking up the ever-ready rifles as they dashed off through the halls
and out into the park. What they had seen at the gate--which was one
rarely used--was sufficient to demand immediate action on their part; a
demonstration of some sort was in progress at this particular entrance
to the grounds. Saunders was left behind with instructions to guard the
chateau against assault from other sources. Headed by Chase, the four
men hurried across the park, prepared for an encounter at the gate. They
kept themselves as well covered as possible by the boxed trees, although
up to this time there had been no shooting.
Chase, in advance, suddenly gave vent to a loud cry and boldly dashed
out into the open, disregarding all shelter. Two of the native park
patrol were hastening toward the gate from another direction. Outside
the huge, barred gate a throng of men and women were congregated. Some
of the men were vigorously slashing away at the bars with sledges and
crow-bars; others were crouching with rifles levelled--in the other
"It's Bowles!" shouted Chase eagerly.
The situation at once became clear to those inside the walls. Bowles and
his friends, a score all told, had managed to reach the upper gate and
were now clamouring for admission, beset on all sides by the pickets who
were watching the chateau. Bowles, with his pathetic red jacket, could
be distinguished in the midst of his huddled followers, shouting
frantically for haste on the part of those inside. Some one was waving a
white flag of truce. A couple of shots were fired from the forest above,
and there were screams from the frightened women, shouts from the men,
who had ceased battering the gates at the signs of rescue from within.
"For God's sake, be quick," shouted Bowles. "There's a thousand of them
coming up the mines' road!"
The gates were unlocked by the patrol and the panic-stricken throng
tumbled through them and scattered like sheep behind the high,
sheltering walls. Once more the massive gates were closed and the bolts
thrown down, just in time to avoid a fusillade of bullets from the
outside. It was all over in a minute. A hundred throats emitted shouts
of rage, curses and threats, and then, as if by magic, the forest became
as still as death.
Once inside the chateau, the fugitives, shivering with terror, fairly
collapsed. There were three Englishmen in the party besides Bowles,
scrubby, sickly chaps, but men after all. It was with unfeigned surprise
that Chase recognised the Persian wives of Jacob von Blitz among the
women who had been obliged to cast their lot with the refugees from
Aratat. The sister of Neenah and five or six other women who had been
sold into the island made up the remainder of the little group of
trembling females. Their faces were veiled; their persons were bedecked
with all of the gaudy raiment and jewels that their charms had won from
their liege lords. They were slaves, these Persians and Turks and
Egyptians, but they came out of bondage with the trophies of queens
stuck in their hair, in their ears, on their hands and arms and about
their waists and throats.
The remainder of the men in the party, fourteen or fifteen in all, were
of many castes and nationalities, and of various ages. There were
brown-skinned fellows from Calcutta, a couple of sturdy Greeks, an
Egyptian and a Persian, three or four Assyrians and as many Maori. As to
their walks in life: among them were clerks and guards from the bank,
members of the native constabulary, Indian fakirs and showmen, and
venders of foreign gewgaws.
Bowles, his thin legs still shaking perceptibly, although he strove
mightily to hold them at strict "attention," was the spokesman. A
valiant heart thumped once more against the seams of the little red
jacket; if his hand trembled and his voice shook, it was because of the
unwonted exertion to which both had been put in that stirring flight at
dawn. He had eager, anxious listeners about him, too--and of the
nobility. Small wonder that his knees were intractable.
"For some time we have been preparing for the outbreak," he said,
fingering the glass of brandy that Britt had poured for him. "Ever since
Chase began to go in so noticeably for the ladies--ahem!"
Chase glared at him. The others tittered.
"I don't mean the old story, sir, of the Persians--and I'm saying, sir,
what's more, there wasn't a word of truth in it--I mean the ladies of
the chateau, begging pardon, too. Von Blitz came to me often with
complaints that you were being made a fool of by a pretty face or two,
and that you were going over to the enemy, body and soul. Of course, I
stood out for you, sir. It wasn't any use. They'd made up their minds to
get rid of you. When I heard that they tried to kill you the night
before last, I made up my mind that no white man was to be left to tell
the tale. Last night we locked all the company's books in the vaults,
got together all the banknotes and gold we had on hand, and made
preparations to go on board the steamer when she called this morning. My
plan was to tell them of the trouble here and try to save you. We were
all expected to die of the plague, that's what we were, and I realised
that Tommy Atkins was off the boards forever.
"We hadn't any more than got the cash and valuables ready to smuggle
aboard, when down came Rasula upon us. Ten o'clock last night, your
lordship. That's what it was--ten P.M. He had a dozen men with him and
he told every mother's son of us that our presence in the town was not
desired until after the ship had sailed away. We were ordered to leave
the town and go up into the hills under guard. There wasn't any chance
to fight or argue. We said we'd go, but we'd have the government on them
for the outrage. We left the rooms in the bank building, carrying away
what money we could well conceal. Later we were joined by the other men
you found with us, all of whom had refused to join in the outrage.
"We were taken up into the hills by a squad of men. There wasn't a man
among us that didn't know that we were to be killed as soon as the ship
had gone. With our own eyes, we saw the mail bags rifled, and nearly all
of the mail destroyed. The pouches from the chateau were burned. Rasula
politely informed us that the plague had broken out among the chateau
servants and that no mail could be sent out from that place. He said he
intended to warn the ship's officer of the danger in landing and--well,
that explains the short stay of the ship and the absence of nearly all
mail from the island. We had no means of communicating with the
officers. There won't be another boat for three weeks, and they won't
land because of the plague. They will get word, however, that every one
in the chateau has died of the disease, and that scores of natives are
dying every day.
"Well, we decided to break away from the guard and try to get to the
chateau. It was our only chance. It was their intention to take some of
us back to the bank this morning to open the vault and the safes. That
was to be our last act, I fancy. I think it was about four this morning
when a dozen of the women came up to where we were being held. They were
flying from the town and ran into the arms of our guard before they knew
of their presence. It seems that those devils down there had set out to
kill their women because it was known that one of them had warned Mr.
Chase of his danger. According to the women who came with us, at least a
score of these unlucky wives were strangled. Von Blitz's wives succeeded
in getting word to a few of their friends and they fled.
"During the excitement brought about by their arrival in our camp, we
made a sudden attack upon our guards. They were not expecting it and we
had seized their rifles before they could recover from their surprise. I
regret to say that we were obliged to kill a few of them in the row that
followed. But that is neither here nor there. We struck off for the
lower park as lively as possible. The sun was well up, and we had no
time to lose. We found the gates barred and went on to the upper gates.
You let us in just in time. The alarm had gone back to the town and we
could see the mob coming up the mines' road. My word, it was a close
He mopped his brow with trembling hand and smiled feebly at his
countrymen for support. The colour was coming back into their faces and
they could smile with the usual British indifference.
"A very close shave, my crimes!" vouchsafed the stumpy gentleman who
kept the books at the bank.
"It's an ill wind that blows all evil," said Deppingham. "Mr. Bowles,
you are most welcome. We were a bit short of able-bodied soldiers. May
we count on you and the men who came with you?"
"To the end, my lord," said Bowles, almost bursting his jacket by
inflation. The others slapped their legs staunchly.
"Then, we'll all have breakfast," announced Lord Deppingham. "Mr.
Saunders, will you be good enough to conduct the recruits to quarters?"
The arrival of the refugees from Aratat gave the chateau a staunch
little garrison, not counting the servants, whose loyalty was an
uncertain quantity. The stable men in the dungeon below served as
illustrations of what might be expected of the others, despite their
profession of fidelity. Including the house servants, who, perforce,
were loyal, there was an able-bodied garrison of sixty men. After
luncheon, Deppingham called his forces together. He gave fresh
instructions, exacted staunch promises, and heard reports from all of
his aides. The chateau by this time had been made practically
impregnable to attack from the outside.
"For the time being we are as snug as bugs in a rug," said Deppingham,
when all was over. "Shall we rejoin the ladies, gentlemen?" He was as
calm as a May morning.
The three leaders found the ladies in the shaded balcony, lounging
lazily as if no such thing as danger existed. Below them in the grassy
courtyard, a dozen indolent, sensuous Persians were congregated, lying
about in the shade with all the abandon of absolute security. The three
women in the balcony had been watching them for an hour, commenting
freely upon these creatures from another world. Neenah, the youngest and
prettiest of them all, had wafted kisses to the proud dames above. She
had danced for their amusement. Her companions sat staring at the ladies
at the railing, dark eyes peering with disdain above the veils which hid
Lady Agnes waved her hand lazily toward the group below, sending a
mocking smile to Chase. "The Asiatic plague," she said cheerfully.
"The deuce," broke in her husband, not catching her meaning. "Has it
really broken out--"
"Deppy, you are the dumbest creature I know," exclaimed his wife.
Chase smiled broadly. "She refers to the newly acquired harem, Lord
Deppingham. We're supposed to die with the Asiatic plague, not to--not
"Not to live with it! Ho, ho, I see, by Jove!" roared Deppingham
amiably. "Splendid! Harem! I get the point. Ripping!"
"They're not so bad, are they, Bobby?" asked Lady Agnes coolly, going to
Browne's side at the railing. Chase hesitated a moment and then walked
over to Drusilla Browne, who was looking pensively into the courtyard
below. He was sorry for her. She laughed and chatted with him for ten
minutes, but there was a strained note in her voice that did not escape
his notice. It may not have been true that Browne was in love with Lady
Deppingham, but it was more than evident that his wife felt convinced
that he was.
"Splendid!" was the sudden exclamation of Drusilla's vagrant lord. The
others looked up, interested. "Say, everybody, Lady Agnes and I have hit
upon a ripping scheme. It's great!"
"To better our position?" asked Deppingham.
"Position? What--oh, I see. Not exactly. What do you say to a charity
ball, the proceeds to go to the survivors of the plague we're expected
The Princess gave a quick, involuntary look at Chase's face. Browne's
tall fellow-countryman was now leaning against the rail beside her
chair. She saw a look of surprised amusement flit across his face,
succeeded almost instantly by a hard, dark frown of displeasure. He
waited a moment and then looked down at her with unmistakable shame and
disapproval in his eyes. Bobby Browne was going on volubly about the
charity ball, Deppingham listening with a fair show of tolerance.
"We might just as well be merry while we can," he was saying. "Think of
what the French did at the time of the Commune. They danced and died
like ladies and gentlemen. And our own forefathers, Chase, at the time
of the American Revolution--remember them, too. They gave their balls
and parties right under the muzzles of British cannon. And
Vicksburg--New Orleans, too--in the Civil War! Think of 'em! Why
shouldn't we be as game and as gay as they?"
"But they were earnest in their distractions," observed Deppingham, with
a glance at his wife's eager face. "This could be nothing more than a
travesty, a jest."
"Oh, let us be sports," cried Lady Agnes, falling into an Americanism
readily. "It may be a jest, but what odds? Something to kill time with."
Chase and the Princess watched Deppingham's expressionless face as he
listened to his wife and Bobby Browne. They were talking of
arrangements. He looked out over the roof of the opposite wing, beyond
the group of Persians, and nodded his head from time to time. There was
no smile on his lips, however.
"I don't like Mr. Browne," whispered Genevra suddenly. Chase did not
reply. She waited a moment and then went on. "He is not like Deppingham.
Do you understand?"
Lady Deppingham came over to them at that instant, her eyes sparkling.
"It's to be to-night," she said. "A fashionable charity ball--everything
except the newspaper accounts, don't you know. Committees and all that.
It's short notice, of course, but life may be short. We'll have Arab
acrobatics, Persian dances, a grand march, electric lights and
absolutely no money to distribute. That's the way it usually is. Now,
Mr. Chase, don't look so sour! Be nice, please!" She put her hand on his
arm and smiled up at him so brightly that he could not hold out against
her. She caught the touch of disapproval in Genevra's glance, and a
sharp, quick flash of rebellion came into her own eyes--a stubborn line
stopped for an instant at the corners of her mouth.
"What is a charity ball?" asked Genevra after a moment.
"A charity ball is a function where one set of women sit in the boxes
and say nasty things about the women on the floor, and those on the
floor say horrid things about the women in the boxes. It's great fun."
"Charity is simply a hallucination, then?"
"Yes, but don't mention it aloud. Mr. Britt is trying with might and
main to prove that Bobby and I have hallucinations without end. If I
happen to look depressed at breakfast time, he jots it down--spells of
depression and melancholia, do you see? He's a dreadful man."
Saunders was approaching from the lower end of the balcony. He appeared
flustered. His face was red and perspiring and his manner distrait.
Saunders, since his failure to establish the advantages of polygamy, had
shrunk farther into the background than ever, quite unlike Britt, who
had not lost confidence in the divorce laws. The sandy-haired solicitor
was now exhibiting symptoms of unusual discomfiture.
"Well, Saunders?" said Deppingham, as the lawyer stopped to clear his
"I have found sufficient food of all descriptions, sir, to last for a
month, at least," said Saunders, in a strained, unnatural voice.
"Good! Has Miss Pelham jilted you, Saunders?" He put the question in a
jocular way. Its effect on Saunders was startling. His face turned
almost purple with confusion.
"No, sir, she has not, sir," he stammered.
"Beg pardon, Saunders. I didn't mean to offend. Where is she, pray, with
"I'm--I'm sure I don't know, sir," responded Saunders, striving to
regain his dignity.
"Have a cigarette, Deppy?" interposed Browne, seeing that something was
amiss with Saunders. In solemn order the silver box went the rounds.
Drusilla alone refused to take one. Her husband looked surprised.
"Want one, Drusie?"
"No, thank you, Bobby," she said succinctly. "I've stopped. I don't
think it's womanly."
Lady Deppingham's hand was arrested with the match half way to her lips.
She looked hard at Drusilla for a moment and then touched the light
serenely to her cigarette.
"Pooh!" was all that she said. Genevra did not light hers at all.
Saunders spoke up, as if suddenly recollecting something. "I have also
to report, sir, that the stock of cigarettes is getting very low. They
can't last three days at this rate, sir."
The three men stared at him.
"Good Lord!" exclaimed Chase, who could face any peril and relish the
experience if needs be, but who now foresaw a sickening deprivation.
"You can't mean it, Saunders?"
"I certainly do, sir. The mint is holding out well, though, sir. I think
it will last."
"By George, this is a calamity," groaned Chase. "How is a man to fight
Genevra quietly proffered the one she had not lighted, a quizzical smile
in her eyes.
"My contribution to the cause," she said gaily. "What strange creatures
men are! You will go out and be shot at all day and yet--" she paused
and looked at the cigarette as if it were entitled to reverence.
"It does seem a bit silly, doesn't it?" lamented the stalwart Chase.
Then he took the cigarette.
THE CHARITY BALL
They were not long in finding out what had happened to Saunders. After
luncheon, while Browne and the three ladies were completing the
preparations for the entertainment. Miss Pelham appeared before
Deppingham and Chase in the former's headquarters. She had asked for an
interview and was accompanied by Mr. Britt.
"Lord Deppingham," she began, seating herself coolly before the two men,
her eyes dark with decision, "I approach you as the recognised head of
this establishment. I shan't detain you long. My attorney, Mr. Britt,
will explain matters to you after I have retired. He--"
"Your attorney? What does this mean?" gasped Deppingham, visions of
blackmail in mind. "What's up, Britt? I deny every demmed word of it,
whatever it is!"
"Just a little private affair," murmured Britt, uncomfortably.
"Private?" sniffed Miss Pelham, involuntarily rearranging her hat. "I
think it has been quite public, Mr. Britt. That's the trouble." Lord
Deppingham looked worried and Chase had the feeling that some wretched
disclosure was about to be made by the sharp-tongued young woman. He
looked at her with a hard light in his eyes. She caught the glance and
stared back for a moment defiantly. Then she appeared to remember that
she always had longed for his good opinion--perhaps, she had dreamed of
something more--and her eyes fell; he saw her lip tremble. "I've simply
come to ask Lord Deppingham to stand by me. Mr. Saunders is in his
employ--or Lady Deppingham's, I should say--"
"Which is the same thing," interposed Deppingham, drawing a deeper
breath. He had been trying to recollect if he ever had said anything to
Miss Pelham that might not appear well if repeated.
"Mr. Saunders has deceived me," she announced steadily. "I leave it to
you if his attentions have not been most pronounced. Of course, if I
wanted to, I could show you a transcript of everything he has said to me
in the last couple of months. He didn't know it, but I managed to get
most everything down in shorthand. I did it at the risk, too, your
lordship, of being considered cold and unresponsive by him. It's most
difficult to take conversation without the free use of your hands, I
must say. But I've preserved in my own black and white, every promise he
"I'm afraid it won't be good evidence," volunteered her lawyer. "It will
have to be substantiated, my dear."
"Please don't call me 'my dear,' Mr. Britt. Never you mind about it not
being good evidence. Thomas Saunders won't enjoy hearing it read in
court, just the same. What I want to ask of you, Lord Deppingham, as a
friend, is to give Mr. Britt your deposition regarding Mr. Saunders's
attitude toward me, to the best of your knowledge and belief. I'll take
it verbatim and put it into typewriting, free of charge. I--I don't see
anything to laugh at, Mr. Chase!" she cried, flushing painfully.
"My dear girl," he said, controlling himself, "I think you are
misjudging the magnitude of a lover's quarrel. Don't you think it is
rather a poor time to talk breach of promise with the guns of an enemy
ready to take a pop at us at any moment?"
"It's no worse than a charity ball, Mr. Chase," she said severely.
"Charity begins at home, gentlemen, and I'm here to look out for myself.
No one else will, let me tell you that. I want to get the deposition of
every person in the chateau. They can be sworn to before Mr. Bowles, who
is a magistrate, I'm told. He can marry people and--"
"By Jove!" exclaimed Deppingham suddenly. "Can he? Upon my soul!"
"His manner changed as soon as that horrid little wife of Selim came to
the chateau. I don't like the way she makes eyes at him and I told him
so this morning, down in the storerooms. My, but he flew up! He said
he'd be damned if he'd marry me." She began to use her handkerchief
vigorously. The men smiled as they looked away.
"I--I intend to sue him for breach of promise," she said thickly.
"Is it as bad as all that?" asked Deppingham consolingly.
"What do you mean by 'bad as all that'? He's kissed me time and again,
but that's all."
"I'll send for Saunders," said Deppingham sternly.
"Not while I'm here," she exclaimed, getting up nervously.
"Just as you like, Miss Pelham. I'll send for you after we've talked it
over with Saunders. We can't afford a scandal in the chateau, don't you
"No, I should think not," she said pointedly. Then she looked at Chase
and winked, with a meaning nod at the unobserving Deppingham. Chase
followed her into the hall.
"None of that, Miss Pelham," he said severely.
Saunders came in a few minutes later, nervous and uncomfortable.
"You sent for me, my lord," he said weakly.
"Sit down, Saunders. Your knees seem to be troubling you. Miss Pelham is
going to sue you for breach of promise."
"What have you promised her, sir?"
"That I _wouldn't_ marry her, that's all, sir," floundered Saunders.
"She's got no right to presume, sir. Gentlemen always indulge in little
affairs--flirtations, I might say, sir--it's most common. Of course, I
thought she'd understand."
"Don't you love her, Saunders?"
"Oh, I say, my lord, that's rather a pointed question. My word, it is,
sir! There may have been a bit of--er--well, you know--between us, sir,
but--that's all, that's quite all. Absurdly all, 'pon my soul."
"Saunders," said Britt solemnly, "I am her attorney. Be careful what you
say in my presence."
"Britt," said Saunders distinctly, "you are a blooming traitor! You told
me yourself that she was used to all that sort of thing and wouldn't
mind. Now, see what you do? It's--it's outrageous!" He was half in
tears. Then turning to Deppingham, he went on fiercely, "I won't be
bullyragged by any woman, sir. We got along beautifully until she began
to shy figurative pots at me because Selim's wife looked at me
occasionally. Hang it all, sir, I can't help it if the ladies choose to
look at me. Minnie--Miss Pelham--was perfectly silly about it. Good
Lord," he groaned in recollection. "It was a very trying scene she made,
sir. More than ever, it made me realise that I can't marry beneath me.
You see, my lord, we've got a fairish sort of social position out
Hammersmith way--as far out as Putney, I might say, where we have rather
swell friends, my mother and I--and I don't think--"
"Saunders," said Lord Deppingham sternly, "she loves you. I don't
understand why or how, but she does. Just because you have obtained an
exalted social position at Hammersmith Bridge is no reason you should
become a snob. I daresay she stands just as well at Brooklyn Bridge as
you do at Hammersmith. She's a fine girl and would be an adornment to
you, such as Hammersmith could be proud of. If you want my candid
opinion, Saunders, I think you're a silly ass!"
"Do you really, my lord?" quite humbly.
"Shall I prove it to you by every man on the place? Miss Pelham is quite
good enough for any one of us. I'd be proud to have her as my wife--if I
lived at Hammersmith Bridge."
"You amaze me, sir!"
"She's a very pretty girl," volunteered Chase glibly.
"Oh, she could marry like a flash in New York," said Britt. "A dozen men
I know of are crazy about her. Good-looking chaps, too," The sarcasm
escaped Saunders, who was fidgeting uncomfortably.
"Of course--you know--the breaking of the engagement--I should say the
row, wasn't of my doing," he submitted, pulling at his finger joints
"I'm afraid it can't be patched up, either," said Britt dolefully.
"She's been insulted, you see--"
"Insulted? My eye! I wouldn't say anything to hurt her for the world. I
may have been agitated--very likely I said a sharp word or two. But as
for insulting her--never! She's told me herself a thousand times that
she doesn't mind the word 'damn' in the least. That may have misled
"Saunders, we can't have our only romance marred by a breach of promise
suit," said his lordship resolutely. "There is simply got to be a
wedding in the end or the whole world will hate us. Every romance must
have its young lovers, and even though it doesn't run smooth, love will
triumph. So far you have been our prize young lover. You are the
undisputed hero. Don't spoil everything at the last moment, Saunders.
Patch it up, and let's have a wedding in the last chapter. You should
not forget that it was you who advocated multi-marriage. Try it once for
yourself, and, if you like it, by Jove, we'll all come to your
succeeding marriages and bless you, no matter how many wives you take
Saunders, very much impressed by these confidences, bowed himself out of
the room, followed by Britt, of whom he implored help in the effort to
bring about a reconciliation. He was sorely distressed by Britt's
apparent reluctance to compromise the case without mature deliberation.
"You see, old chap," mused Deppingham, after their departure, "matrimony
is no trifling thing, after all. No matter whether it contemplates a
garden in Hammersmith or an island in the South Seas, it has its
The charity ball began at ten o'clock, schedule time. If all of those
who participated were not in perfect sympathy with the spirit of the mad
whim, they at least did not deport themselves after the fashion of wet
blankets. To be quite authentic, but two of the promoters were heartily
involved in the travesty--Lady Agnes, whose sprightliness was never
dormant, and Bobby Browne, who shone in the glamour of his first
encounter with the nobility. Drusilla Browne, asserting herself as an
American matron, insisted that the invitation list should include the
lowly as well as the mighty. She had her way, and as a result, the bank
employes, the French maids, Antoine and the two corporals of
Rapp-Thorberg's Royal Guard appeared on the floor in the grand march
directly behind Mr. Britt, Mr. Saunders, and Miss Pelham.
"One cannot discriminate at the charity ball," Drusilla had stoutly
maintained. "The _hoi polloi_ and the riff-raff always get in at home.
So, why not here? If we're going to have a charity ball, let's give it
the correct atmosphere."
"I shall feel as if I were dancing with my green grocer," lamented Lady
Agnes. Later on, when the dancing was at its height, she exclaimed with
all the fervour of a charmed imagination: "I feel as the Duchess de
What's-her-name must have felt, Bobby, when she danced all night at her
own ball, and then dressed for the guillotine instead of going to bed.
We may all be shot in the morning."
The Indian fakirs and showmen gave a performance in the courtyard at
midnight. They were followed by the Bedouin tumblers and the inspired
Persians, who danced with frantic abandon and the ripe lust of joy.
There was but one unfortunate accident. Mr. Rivers, formerly of the
bank, got very tight and fell down the steps leading to the courtyard,
breaking his left arm.
Lord Deppingham and Chase kept their heads. They saw to it that the
watch over the grounds and about the chateau was strictly maintained.
The former led the grand march with the Princess. She was more
ravishingly beautiful than ever. Her gown, exquisitely cool and simple,
suggested that indefinable, unmistakable touch of class that always
marks the distinction between the woman who subdues the gown and the
gown which subdues the woman.
Hollingsworth Chase was dazzled. He discovered, much to his subsequent
amusement, that he was holding his breath as he stared at her from the
opposite side of the banquet hall, which had been transformed into a
ballroom. She had just entered with the Deppinghams. Something seemed to
shout coarsely, scoffingly in his ear: "Now, do you realise the distance
that lies between? She was made for kings and princes, not for such as
He waited long before presenting himself in quest of the dance he
hungered for so greedily--afraid of her! She greeted him with a new,
brighter light in her eyes; a quiver of delight, long in restraint, came
into her voice; he saw and felt the welcome in her manner.
The blood surged to his head; he mumbled his request. Then, for the
first time, he was near to holding her close in his arms--he was
clasping her fingers, touching her waist, drawing her gently toward his
heart. Once, as they swept around the almost empty ballroom, she looked
up into his eyes. Neither had spoken. His lips parted suddenly and his
fingers closed down upon hers. She saw the danger light in his eyes and
knew the unuttered words that struggled to his lips and stopped there.
She never knew why she did it, but she involuntarily shook her head
before she lowered her eyes. He knew what she meant. His heart turned
cold again and the distance widened once more to the old proportions.
He left her with Bobby Browne and went out upon the cool, starlit
balcony. There he gently cursed himself for a fool, a dolt, an idiot.
The shouts of laughter and the clapping of hands on the inside did not
draw him from his unhappy reverie. He did not know until afterward that
the official announcement of the engagement of Miss Minnie Pelham and
Thomas Saunders was made by Bobby Browne and the health of the couple
drunk in a series of bumpers.
Chase's bitter reflections were at last disturbed by a sound that came
sharply to his attention. He was staring moodily into the night, his
cigarette drooping dejectedly in his lips. The noise came from directly
below where he stood. He peered over the stone railing. The terrace was
barely ten feet below him; a mass of bushes fringed the base of the
wall, dark, thick, fragrant. Some one was moving among these stubborn
bushes; he could hear him plainly. The next moment a dark figure shot
out from the shadows and slunk off into night, followed by another and
another and yet others, seven in all. Chase's mind refused to work
quickly. He stood as one petrified for a full minute, unable to at once
grasp the meaning of the performance.
Then the truth suddenly dawned upon him. The prisoners had escaped from
He dashed into the ballroom and shouted the alarm. Confusion ensued. He
called out sharp commands as he rushed across to where Deppingham was
chatting with the Princess.
"There's been treachery," he explained quickly. "Some one has released
the prisoners. We must keep them from reaching the walls. They will
overpower our guards and open the gates to the enemy. Britt, see that
the searchlight is trained on the gates. We must stop those fellows
before it is too late. Time enough to hunt for the traitor later on!"
Two minutes later, a swarm of armed men forsook the mock charity ball
and sallied forth to engage in realities. Firing was soon heard at the
western gate, half a mile away. Thither, the eager pursuers rushed. The
wide ray from the searchlight swung down upon this gate and revealed the
forms of struggling men.
The prisoners had fallen suddenly upon the two Greeks who guarded the
western gate, surprising them cleverly. The Greeks fought for their
lives, but were overwhelmed in plain view of the relief party which
raced toward them. Both fell under the clubbed guns of their
Chase and Selim were not more than a hundred yards away when the
desperate Greeks went down. The blinding glare of the searchlight aided
the pursuers, who kept outside its radius. The fugitives, bewildered,
confused by the bright glare in which they found themselves, faced the
light boldly, five of them kneeling with guns raised to protect their
two companions who started across the narrow strip which separated them
from the massive gate. Selim gave a shout and stopped suddenly, throwing
his rifle to his shoulder.
"They have the keys!" he cried. "Shoot!"
His rifle cracked a second later and one of the two men leaped into the
air and fell like a log. Chase understood the necessity for quick work
and fired an instant later. The second man fell in a heap, thirty feet
from the gate. His companions returned the fire at random in the
direction from which the well-aimed shots had come.
"Under cover!" shouted Chase. He and Selim dropped into the shrubbery in
time to escape a withering fire from outside the gates. The searchlight
revealed a compact mass of men beyond the walls. It was then that the
insiders realised how near they had come to being surprised and
destroyed. A minute more, and the gates would have been opened to this
The prisoners, finding themselves trapped, threw themselves upon the
ground and shrieked for mercy. Lord Deppingham and the others came up
and, scattering well, began to fire at the mass outside the wall. The
islanders were at a disadvantage. They could not locate the opposing
marksmen on account of the blinding light in their faces. It was but a
moment before they were scampering off into the dark wood, shrieking
The five fugitives were compelled to carry their fallen comrades and the
two Greeks from the open space in front of the gates to a point where it
was safe for the defenders to approach them without coming in line with
a possible volley from the forest.
A small force was left to guard the gate; the remainder returned as
quickly as possible to the chateau. The Greeks were unconscious, badly
battered by the clubbed guns. Browne, once more the doctor, attended
them and announced that they would be on their feet in a day or two--"if
complications don't set in." One of the prisoners was dead, shot through
the heart by the deadly Selim. The other had a shattered shoulder.
Immediately upon the return to the chateau, an inspection of the
dungeons was made, prior to an examination of the servants in the effort
to apprehend the traitor.
The three men who went down into the damp, chill regions below ground
soon returned with set, pale faces. There had been no traitor!
The man whose duty it was to guard the prisoners was found lying inside
the big cell, his throat cut from ear to ear, stone dead!
There was but one solution. He had been seized from within as he came to
the grating in response to a call. While certain fingers choked him into
silence, others held his hands and still others wrenched the keys from
his sash. After that it was easy. Deppingham, Chase and Selim looked at
each other in horror--and, strange as it may seem, relief.
Death was there, but, after all, Death is no traitor.
THE JOY OF TEMPTATION
The revolting details were kept from the women. They were not permitted
to know of the ugly thing that sweltered in the dark corridor below
their very feet. Late in the night, a small body of men, acting under
orders, carried the unfortunate guard down into the valley and buried
him. Only the most positive stand on the part of the white men prevented
the massacre of the prisoners by the friends and fellow-servants of the
murdered man. A secret trial by jury, at a later day, was promised by
There was but little sleep in the chateau that night. The charity ball
was forgotten--or if recalled at all, only in connection with the
thought of what it came so near to costing its promoters.
No further disturbances occurred. A strict watch was preserved; the
picturesque drawbridge was lifted and there were lights on the terrace
and galleries; men slept within easy reach of their weapons. The siege
had begun in earnest. Men had been slain and their blood was crying out
for vengeance; the voice of justice was lost in the clamourings of rage.
Breakfast found no laggards; the lazy comforts of the habitually late
were abandoned for the more stirring interests that had come to occupy
the time and thoughts of all concerned. The Princess was quite serene.
She lightly announced that the present state of affairs was no worse
than that which she was accustomed to at home. The court of
Rapp-Thorberg was ever in a state of unrest, despite its outward
suggestion of security. Outbreaks were common among the masses; somehow,
they were suppressed before they grew large enough to be noticed by the
"We invariably come out on top," she philosophised, "and so shall we
here. At home we always eat, drink and make merry, for to-morrow never
"That's all very nice," said Lady Agnes plaintively, "but I'm thinking
of yesterday. Those fellows who were killed can't die to-morrow, you
know; it occurred to them yesterday. It's always yesterday after one
Soon after breakfast was over, Chase announced his intention to visit
each of the gates in turn. The Princess strolled with him as far as the
bridge at the foot of the terrace. They stopped in the shade of a clump
of trees that hung upon the edge of the stream. As they were gravely
discussing the events of the night, Neenah came up to them from beyond
the bridge. Her dark, brilliant face was glowing with excitement; the
cheerful adoration that one sees in a dog's eyes shone in hers as she
salaamed gracefully to the "Sahib." She had no eyes for royalty.
"Excellency," she began breathlessly, "it is Selim who would have
private speech with the most gracious sahib. It is to be quick,
excellency. Selim is under the ground, excellency."
"In the cellars?"
"Yes, excellency. It is so dark there that one cannot see, but Neenah
will lead you. Selim has sent me. But come now!"
Chase felt his ears burn when he turned to find a delicate, significant
smile on Genevra's lips. "Don't let me detain you," she said, ever so
"Wait, please!" he exclaimed. "Is Selim hurt?" he demanded of Neenah,
who shook her head vigorously.
"Then, there is no reason why you should not accompany us. Princess."
"I am not at all necessary to the undertaking," she said coldly, turning
to leave him.
"Selim has found fuses and gunpowder laid in the cellars, excellency--in
the secret vaults," began Neenah eagerly, divining the cause of the
white lady's hesitation.
This astounding piece of news swept away the feeble barrier Genevra
would have erected in her pique. Eagerly she joined in questioning the
Persian girl, but Neenah would only reply that Selim was waiting for the
sahib. The Princess was immeasurably consoled to find that the
body-servant had destroyed the fuses and that they were in no immediate
danger of being blown to pieces. She consented to accompany Chase into
the cellars, a spirit of adventure overcoming certain scruples which
might have restrained her under other conditions.
Neenah led them through the wine cellars and down into the vaults beyond
the dungeons. They descended three steep flights of stone steps, into
the cold, damp corridors of the lowermost cellars. Neenah explained that
it was necessary to move cautiously and without lights. Selim was
confident that there was at least one traitor among the servants. The
Princess clutched Chase's hand tightly as they stole through the bleak,
chill corridor; she found herself wondering if the girl was to be
trusted. What if she were leading them into a trap? She would have
whispered her fears into Chase's ear had not a sharp "sh!" come from the
girl who was leading. Genevra felt a queer little throb of hatred for
the girl--she could not explain it.
The dungeon was off to the right. They could hear the insistent murmur
of voices, with now and then a laugh from the distant cells. The guard
could be heard scoffing at his charges. With a caution that seemed
wholly absurd to the two white people, Neenah guided them through the
maze of narrow passages, dark as Erebus and chill as the grave. Chase
checked a hysterical impulse to laugh aloud at the proceedings; it was
like playing at a children's game.
He was walking between the two women, Neenah ahead, Genevra behind; each
clasped one of his hands. Suddenly he found himself experiencing an
overpowering desire to exert the strength of his arm to draw the
Princess close--close to his insistent body. The touch of her flesh, the
clutch of her cold little hand, filled him with the most exquisite sense
of possession; the magnetism of life charged from one to the other,
striking fire to the blood; sex tingled in this delicious riot of the
senses; all went to inspire and encourage the reckless joy that was
mastering him. He felt his arm grow taut with the irresistible impulse.
He was forgetting Neenah, forgetting himself--thinking only of the
opportunity and its fascination. In another instant he would have drawn
her hand to his lips: Neenah came to a standstill and uttered a warning
whisper. Chase recovered himself with a mighty start, a chill as of one
avoiding an unseen peril sweeping over him. Genevra heard the sharp,
painful intake of his breath and felt the sudden relaxation of his
fingers. She was not puzzled; she, too, had felt the magic of the touch
and her blood was surging red; she knew, then, that she had been
clasping his hand with a fervour that was as unmistakable as it was
She was again forgetting that princesses should dwell in the narrow
realm of self.
Neenah may have felt the magnetic current that coursed through these
surcharged creatures: she was smiling mysteriously to herself.
"Wait here," she whispered to Chase, ever so softly. She released his
hand and moved off in the blackness of the passage. "I will bring
Selim," came back to them.
"Oh!" fell faintly, tremulously from Genevra's lips. It was a trap,
after all! But it was not the trap laid by a traitor. She fell all
a-quiver. Her heart fluttered violently, her breath came quickly. Alone
with him--and their blood leaping to the touch that thrilled!
Chase could no more have restrained the hand that went out suddenly in
quest of hers than he could have checked his own heart throbs. A wave of
exquisite joy swept over him--the joy of a temptation that knew no fear
or conscience. He found her cold little hand and clasped it in tense
fingers--fingers that throbbed with the call to passion. He drew her
close--their bodies touched and sweetly trembled. His lips were close to
her ear--the smell of her hair was in his quivering nostrils. He heard
her quick, sharp breathing.
"Are you afraid?" he whispered in tones he had never heard before.
"Yes," she murmured convulsively--"of you! Please, please, don't!" At
the same time, she tightened her clutch upon his hand and crept closer
to him, governed by an unconquerable craving. Chase had the sensation of
smothering; he could not believe the senses which told him that she was
responding to his appeal. His brain was whirling, his heart bounding
like mad. Her voice, soft and appealing, turned his blood to fire.
"Genevra!" he murmured--almost gasped--in his delirium. Their bodies
were pressed close to each other--his arms went about her slender figure
suddenly and she was strained to his breast, locked to him with bonds
that seemed unbreakable. Her face was lifted to his. The blackness of
the passage was impenetrable, but love was the guide. He found her lips
in one wild, glorious kiss.
A door creaked sharply. He released her. Their quivering arms fell away;
they drew ever so slightly apart, still under the control of the
influence which had held them for that brief moment. She was trembling
violently. A soft, wailing sigh, as of pain, came from her lips.
Then the glimmer of a light came to them through the half open door at
the end of the passage. They gazed at it without comprehension, dumb in
their sudden weakness. A shadowy figure came out through the door and
Selim's voice, low and tense, called to them.
Still speechless, they moved forward involuntarily. He did not attempt
to take her hand. He was afraid--vastly afraid of what he had done,
unaccountable as it may seem. That piteous sigh wrought shame in his
heart. He felt that he had wronged her--had seized upon a willing,
hapless victim when she had not the power to defend herself against her
"Forgive me," he murmured.
"It is too late," she replied. Then his hand sought hers again and,
dizzy with emotion, he led her up to the open door. As they passed into
the huge, dimly lighted chamber, he turned to look into her face. She
met his gaze and there were tears in her eyes. Selim was ahead of them.
She shook her head sadly and he understood.
"Can we ever forget?" she murmured plaintively.
"Never!" he whispered.
"Then we shall always regret--always regret!" she said, withdrawing her
hand. "It was the beginning and the end."
"Not the end, dearest one--if we are always to regret," he Interposed
eagerly. "But why the end? You _do_ love me! I know it! And I worship
you--oh, you don't know how I worship you, Genevra! I--"
"Hush! We were fools! Don't, please! I do _not_ love you. I was carried
away by--Oh, can't you understand? Remember what I am! You knew and yet
have degraded me in my own eyes. Is my own self-respect nothing? You
will laugh and you may boast after I am married to--"
"Genevra!" he protested as if in great pain.
"Excellency," came from the lips of Selim, at the lower end of the
chamber, breaking in sharply upon their little world. "There is no time
to be lost." Time to be lost! And he had held her in his arms! Time to
be lost! All the rest of Time was to be lost! "They may return at any
Chase pulled himself together. He looked into her eyes for a moment,
finding nothing there but a command to go. She stood straight and
unyielding on the very spot which had seen her trembling with emotion
but a moment before.
"Coming, Selim," he said, and moved away from her side as Neenah came
toward them from the opposite wall. Genevra did not move. She stood
quite still and numb, watching his tall figure crossing the stone floor.
Ah, what a man he was! The little Persian wife of Selim, after waiting
for a full minute, gently touched the arm of the Princess. Genevra
started and looked down into the dark, accusing, smiling eyes. She
flushed deeply and hated herself.
"Shall we go back?" she asked nervously. "I--I have seen enough. Come,
Neenah. Lead me back to--"
"Most glorious excellency," said Neenah, shaking her pretty head, "we
are to wait here. The sahib and Selim will join us soon."
"Where are they going?" demanded the Princess, a feeling of awe coming
over her. "I don't want to be left here alone." Chase and Selim had
opened a low, heavy iron door at the lower end and were peering into the
"Selim will explain. He has learned much. It is the secret passage to
the coast. Be not afraid."
Genevra looked about her for the first time. They were standing in a
long, low room, the walls of which reeked with dampness and gave out a
noxious odour. A single electric light provided a faint, almost
unnatural light. Selim raised a lighted lantern as he led Chase through
the squat door. Behind Genevra were enormous casks, a dozen or more,
reaching almost to the ceiling. A number of boxes stood close by, while
on the opposite side of the chamber four small iron chests were to be
seen, dragged out from recesses in the distant corner. It was not unlike
the mysterious treasure cave of the pirates that her brother had
stealthily read about to her in childhood days. Observing her look of
wonder, Neenah vouchsafed a casual explanation.
"It is the wine cellar and the storeroom. The iron chests contain the
silver and gold plate that came from the great Rajah of Murpat in
exchange for the five huge rubies which now adorn his crown. The Rajah
bartered his entire service of gold and silver for those wonderful gems.
The old sahibs stored the chests here many years ago. But few know of
their existence. See! They were hidden in the walls over there. Von
Blitz has found them."
"Von Blitz!" in amazement.
"He has been here. He has carried away many chests. There were twenty in
"And--and he will return for these?" queried the Princess in alarm.
"Assuredly, most glorious one. Soon, perhaps. But be not afraid. Selim
can close the passage door. He cannot get in. He will be fooled, eh? Why
should you be afraid? Have you not with you the most wonderful, the most
brave sahib? Would he not give his life for you?" The dark eyes sparkled
with understanding--aye, even mischief. Genevra felt that this Oriental
witch knew everything. For a long time she looked in uncertain mood upon
that smiling, wistful face. Then she said softly, moved by an
irresistible impulse to confess something, even obscurely:
"Oh, if only I were such as you, Neenah, and could live forever on this
Neenah's smile deepened, her eyes glowed with discernment. With a
meaning gleam in their depths, she said: "But, most high, there are no
princes here. There is no one to whom the most gracious one could be
sold. No one who could pay more than a dozen rubies. Women are cheap
here, and you would be a woman, not a most beautiful princess."
"I would not care to be a princess, perhaps."
"You love my Sahib Chase?" demanded Neenah abruptly, eagerly.
"Neenah!" gasped Genevra, with a startled look. Neenah looked intently
into the unsteady, blue-grey eyes and then bent over to kiss the hand of
the Princess. The latter laughed almost aloud in her confusion. She
caught herself up quickly and said with some asperity: "You foolish
child, I am to become a prince's wife. How can I love your sahib? What
nonsense! I am to marry a prince and he is not to pay for me in rubies."
"Ah, how wonderful!" cried Neenah, with ravishing candour. "A prince for
a husband and the glorious Sahib Chase for a lover all your life! Ah!"
The exclamation was no less than a sigh of rapturous endorsement.
The Princess stared at her first in consternation, then in dismay.
Before she could find words to combat this alarming prophecy, so
ingenuously presented to her reflections, Selim and Hollingsworth Chase
returned to the chamber. She was distressed, even confounded, to find
that she was staring at Chase with a strange, abashed curiosity growing
in her eyes--a stare that she suddenly was afraid he might observe and
appreciate. A wave of revulsion, of shame, spread over her whole being.
She shuddered slightly as she turned her face away from his eager gaze:
it was as if she recognised the fear that he was even now contemplating
the future as Neenah had painted it for her.
She caught and checked a horrid arraignment of herself. Such conditions
as Neenah presented were not unknown to her. With the swiftness of
lightning, she recalled the things that had been said of more than one
grand dame in Europe--aye, of women at her own court. Even a princess
she had known who--but for shame! she cried in her heart. It could not
be! Despite herself, a cruel, distressing shyness came over her as he
approached, his eyes glowing with the light she feared yet craved. Was
this man to remain in her life? _Was he?_ Would he come to her and wage
the unfair war? Was he honest? Was he even now coveting her as other men
had coveted the women she knew and despised? She found herself
confronted by the shocking conviction that he _knew_ she could never be
his wife. He _knew_ she was to wed another, and yet--It was
She met his eager advance with a quick, shrill laugh of defiance, and
noted the surprise in his eyes. Dim as the light was, she could have
sworn that the look in those eyes was honest. Ah, that silly Neenah! The
reaction was as sudden as the revolt had been. Her smile grew warm and
"Von Blitz has been here," he was saying, half diffidently, still
searching deep in her eyes. "He's played hob. And he's likely to return
at any minute."
"Then let us go quickly. I have no desire to meet the objectionable Mr.
Von Blitz. Isn't it dreadfully dangerous here, Mr. Chase?" He mistook
the slight tremour in her voice for that of fear. A quaint look came
into his face, the lines about the corners of his mouth drooping
"Mr. Chase?" he said, with his winning smile. "Now?"
"Yes, now and always, Mr. Chase," she said steadily. "You know that it
cannot be otherwise. I can't always be a fool."
His face turned a deep red; his lips parted for retort to this truculent
estimate, but he controlled himself.
"Yes, it is dangerous here," he said quietly, answering her question.
"As soon as Selim bars that door upon the inside, we'll go. I was a fool
to bring you here."
"How could you know what the dangers would be?" she asked.
"I'll confess I didn't expect Von Blitz," he said drily.
"But you did expect--" she began, with a start, biting her lips.
"There's a vast difference between expectation and hope, Princess."
Neenah had joined Selim at the door when the men re-entered the chamber.
Now she was approaching with her husband.
"May Allah bless you and profit for Himself, excellencies," said the
good Selim. Neenah plainly had advanced her suspicions to the brown
body-servant. Genevra blushed and then her eyes blazed. She gave the
girl a scornful look; Neenah smiled happily, unreservedly in return.
"Allah help us, you should say, if Von Blitz returns," interposed Chase
hastily. "Is the door barred?"
"No, excellency. The bars have sprung, I cannot drop them in place. As
you know, the lock has been blown away. The charge sprung the bolts. We
must go at once."
"Then there is no way to keep them out of the chateau?" cried Genevra
"They can go no farther than this room," explained Selim. "We lock the
double iron doors from the other side--the door through which you came,
most glorious excellency--and they cannot enter the cellars above. This
is the chamber which opens into the underground passage to the coast.
The passage was made for escape from the chateau in case of trouble and
was known to but few. My father was the servant of Sahib Wyckholme, and
I used to live in the chateau. We came to the island when I was a baby.
My father had been with the sahib in Africa. I came to know of this
passage, for my father and my mother were to go with the masters if
there was an attack. Five years ago I was given a place in the company's
office, and I never came up here after my parents died of the plague. We
"The plague!" cried the Princess.
"It was said to have been the plague," said Selim bitterly. "They died
in great convulsions while spending the night in the Khan. That's the
inn of Aratat, excellencies. The great sahibs sent their stomachs away
to be examined--"
"Never mind, Selim," said Chase. "Tell us about the passage there."
"Once there was a boat--a launch, which lay hidden below the cliffs on