Part 5 out of 7
"Perhaps," Lady Anne replied, looking thoughtfully at her cigarette.
"You see, the woman knows in her heart that she's impossible. She
copies all our bad tricks. She sees that we all flirt as a matter of
course, and she tries to outdo us. It's the old story. What one person
can do with impunity, another makes an awful hash of. We can go to the
very gates because when we get there we know how to shrug our shoulders
and turn away. I am not sure that Mrs. Carraby has breeding enough for
that. She'll go through, if Bob has his way."
"You are becoming rather an advanced young person," Julien remarked, as
he paid the bill.
"My dear Julien," she said, "I've told you before that you never knew
me. If you had appreciated me as I deserved, when you came that cropper
you wouldn't have called on me to say good-bye. You'd have left that
red-headed friend of yours at home and told me that the empty place in
the taxicab was mine."
He laughed and then suddenly became grave.
"Supposing I had?" he whispered.
She looked at him, startled. In that moment he seemed to see a new
thing in her face, a new and marvelous softness. It passed like a
flash--so swiftly that it left him wondering whether it was not indeed
a trick of his imagination.
"Absurd!" she murmured. "Tell me, what is there we can do now? Must I
"On the contrary," he declared, "you are engaged to me for the evening.
Only I must call at my rooms. Do you mind?"
"I mind nothing," she assured him. "Let us take a carriage and drive
about the streets. Julien, what a yellow moon!"
They clambered into a little _voiture_, and with a hoarse shout
and a crack of the whip from the _cocher_, they started off. Lady
Anne leaned back with an exclamation of content.
"If only it weren't so theatrical!" she sighed. "The streets seem so
clean and the buildings so white and the sky so blue and the people so
gay. Yet I suppose the bitterness of life is here as in the other
places. Why do you want to call at your rooms, Julien?"
"There is just a chance," he explained, "that there may be a telegram
from Kendricks. I want to know what they think of my article."
She laughed scornfully.
"I can tell you that. There is only one thing they can think. How these
people will hate you who are trying to make mischief between France and
Julien smiled grimly.
"I shouldn't be surprised," he admitted. "It may come to a tussle
between us yet."
They pulled up before the door of his rooms. She, too, alighted.
"I want to see what your quarters are like," she said calmly. "I may
come up, mayn't I?"
"By all means," he assented.
She followed him up the dark stairs and into his room. He turned on the
lights. She looked around at his little salon, with its French
furniture, its open windows with the lime trees only a few feet away,
and threw herself into an easy-chair with a sigh of content.
"Julien, how delightful!" she exclaimed. "Is there anything for you?"
He walked to the mantelpiece. There was a telegram and a note for him.
The former he tore open and his eyes sparkled as he read it aloud.
Magnificent. Be careful. Am coming over at once.
He passed it on to her. Then he opened the note.
I am coming to your rooms for my answer to-night.
Even as he read it there was a knocking at the door. She looked up
"Who is that?"
"It may be the man who writes me here," he told her.
She rose softly to her feet and pointed to the door which divided the
apartments. He nodded and she passed through into the inner room.
Julien went to the outside door and threw it open. It was indeed Herr
Freudenberg who stood there.
"Come in," he invited.
Herr Freudenberg removed his hat and entered.
Herr Freudenberg was dressed for the evening with his usual fastidious
neatness. He had the air of a man who had been engaged for many nights
in some arduous occupation. There were dark rims under his eyes, the
lines upon his forehead were deeper. Nevertheless, he smiled with
something of his old gayety as he accepted the chair which Julien
placed for him.
"My dear Sir Julien," he said, "I have come a good many hundred miles
at a most inconvenient moment for the sake of a brief conversation with
Julien raised his eyebrows.
"You surprise me!" he exclaimed. "I had no idea that the mission you
spoke of was so urgent."
"Nor is it," Herr Freudenberg replied. "As a matter of fact, it
scarcely exists at all, or if it did exist, it was created simply as a
means of removing you from within the reach of practical politics for
some months. I have foresight, you see, Sir Julien. I saw what was
coming. Permit me to tell you that I do not like your letter in _Le
Grand Journal_ yesterday, a letter which I understand appeared also
in the London _Post_."
"I am sorry," Julien said calmly. "Still, to be perfectly frank, it
wasn't written with a view of pleasing or displeasing you. It was
written in a strenuous attempt to preserve the friendship between
France and England."
"It is to be followed, I presume, by others?" Herr Freudenberg asked.
"It is the first of a series," Julien admitted.
"You know," Herr Freudenberg remarked, glancing at his finger-nails for
a moment, "that it is most diabolically clever?"
"You flatter me," Julien murmured.
"Not at all. I have spoken the truth. I am here to know what price you
will take to suppress the remainder of the series."
"I will take," he replied, "the exact amount of the last war indemnity
which was paid to you by France."
Herr Freudenberg smiled.
"A mere trifle to the war indemnity we shall be asking from England
before very long."
"I am not avaricious," Julien declared. "Those are my terms."
Herr Freudenberg sighed.
"My friend," he said, "it would be better if you talked of this matter
reasonably. There are other ways of securing the non-continuance of
those letters than by purchase."
"Precisely," Julien answered, "but Paris, in its beaten thoroughfares,
at any rate, is a law-abiding city. I don't fancy that I shall come to
much grief here."
"A brave man," Herr Freudenberg remarked, "seldom believes that he will
come to grief."
"If the blow falls, nevertheless, it is at least considerate of you
that you bring me warning!"
"Rubbish!" Herr Freudenberg interposed. "Listen, Sir Julien, I ask you
to consider this matter as a reasonable person. We don't want war. We
don't mean to have war. But the desire of my Ministers--my own
desire--really is to inflict a crushing diplomatic humiliation upon the
present Government of Great Britain. It is composed of incompetent and
objectionable persons. We desire to humiliate them. Yet who is it that
we find taking up the cudgels on their behalf? You--the man whom they
drove out, the man whom from sheer jealousy they ousted from their
ranks. Why, you should be with us, not against us."
"I have no grudge whatever against my party," Julien said. "You seem to
have been misinformed upon that subject. Besides, I am an Englishman
and a patriot. The whole series of my articles will be written, and I
shall do my best to point out exactly the means by which this present
coolness between our two countries has been engineered."
"I will give you," Herr Freudenberg offered, "a million francs not to
write those articles."
Julien pointed to the door.
"You are becoming offensive!"
Herr Freudenberg rose slowly to his feet. There was a little glitter in
"I have gone out of my way," he declared, "to be friendly with you,
most obstinate of Englishmen. That now is finished. You shall not write
"You threaten me?"
"There are times," Julien remarked quietly, "when I scarcely know
whether to take you seriously. There is surely a little of the
burlesque about such a statement?"
Herr Freudenberg shrugged his shoulders slightly.
"You think so? Nevertheless, no man whom I have ever threatened has
done the thing against which I have warned him."
Julien turned towards the door to open it. Herr Freudenberg, with
footsteps like a cat, came up behind him. Suddenly he threw his long,
sinewy arm around the other's neck. Taken utterly unprepared, Julien
was powerless. Herr Freudenberg swung him round upon his back and knelt
upon his chest.
"This," he said calmly, "distresses me extremely. Yet what am I to do?"
He whistled softly. The door was opened. Estermen came in with
suspicious alacrity. There was scarcely any need of words. In a moment
Julien's legs and arms were bound and a gag thrust between his teeth.
Herr Freudenberg moved before the door and listened.
"Estermen has reported to me," he remarked, "that you keep no
manservant. Any intrusion here, therefore, is scarcely to be feared.
You will permit me?"
He took one of the tumblers from the tray, rinsed it out with
soda-water, and poured the contents of a small phial into it. Then he
came and stood over Julien.
"My obstinate Englishman," he proceeded, "this tumbler contains the
waters of forgetfulness. Let me assure you upon my honor that the
liquid is harmless. Its one effect is to reduce those who take it to
such a state that for the space of a week or two their mental faculties
are impaired. You will drink this in a few minutes. You will awake
feeling weak, languid, indisposed for exercise, incapable of mental
effort. The doctor will prescribe a tonic, you will go away, but it
will be months before you are able to set yourself to any task
requiring the full use of your faculties. At the end of that time, I
trust that you will have found wisdom. Will you swallow the draught?"
Julien shook his head violently. Herr Freudenberg sighed.
"I was hoping," he continued, "that you would not force me to mention
the alternative. I should dislike exceedingly having to inflict any
more lasting injury upon you, but you stand in my path and I permit no
one to do that. Drink, and in a month or two all will be as it is now.
Refuse, and I shall leave Estermen to deal with you, and let me warn
you that his methods are not so gentle as mine. More men than one who
have been foolish have disappeared in Paris."
"If you move a step this way," a calm voice said from the other end of
the room, "I shall shoot."
Herr Freudenberg turned his head. Estermen, whose nerves were less
under control, gave a little cry. Lady Anne was standing upon the
threshold of the doorway between the two rooms, and in her very steady
hand was grasped a small revolver. The two men were speechless.
"It has taken me some time to find this," Lady Anne went on, "and
longer still to find the cartridges. I do not understand in the least
what has happened, but I am perfectly serious when I tell you that I
shall shoot either of you two if you move a step towards me."
Herr Freudenberg looked into the revolver, looked at Lady Anne and made
her a little bow.
"Mademoiselle," he said, "who you may be I do not, alas! know. Sir
Julien, however, is indeed to be congratulated that he possesses
already so charming and courageous a friend with the entree to his
Lady Anne lifted the revolver a few inches and fired. The bullet struck
the wall barely a foot over Herr Freudenberg's head. A faint puff of
blue smoke floated up towards the ceiling.
"I do not like impertinence," she remarked. "If you have any more such
speeches to make--"
"Mademoiselle, I have none," Herr Freudenberg interrupted, bowing.
"Allow me, on the contrary, to offer you my apologies and to express my
admiration for your bearing. I must, alas! acknowledge myself, for the
moment, vanquished. I shall leave you to release our dear friend, Sir
Julien. But, if you are wise, mademoiselle, if you are really his
friend, you will advise him to obey the injunction which I have sought
to lay upon him to-day. A little affair like this which goes wrong, is
nothing. I have a dozen means of enforcing my words, not one of which
has ever failed."
"I do not know who you are," Lady Anne said calmly, "or what it is
against which you are warning Sir Julien, but I am perfectly certain of
one thing. He will do what is right and what he conceives to be his
duty, without fear of threats from you or any one."
Herr Freudenberg bowed low. Estermen, who had been glancing more than
once uneasily towards the revolver, was already at the door.
"Mademoiselle," Herr Freudenberg declared, "bravery is a splendid gift,
discretion a finer. Sir Julien knows who I am and he knows that I have
yet to admit myself vanquished in any scheme in which I engage. He will
use his judgment. Meanwhile, mademoiselle!"
He bowed low, turned and left the room. Lady Anne listened to his
retreating footsteps. Then she crossed the room quickly and bent over
"Are you hurt?" she asked breathlessly.
He shook his head. She fumbled for a few minutes with the gag and
"Not a bit," he assured her. "Don't put the revolver down yet, but
fetch me a knife. You'll find one on the mantelpiece in the bedroom."
She did as he told her. In a few minutes he was free. He stood up,
"The fellow came up behind me," he explained, "while I was walking to
the door. Anne, what a brick you are!"
He held out his hand. She took it, laughing frankly.
"My dear Julien," she exclaimed, "what else could any one do? I heard
the row and,--shall I admit it?--peeped through the keyhole. I couldn't
see anything, so I opened the door softly and heard something of what
was going on. This old revolver was lying on your dressing-table, but I
had an awful hunt for the cartridges. Whoever were those men?"
"When I tell you," he said, "you will think that I am mad. Yet this is
the truth. The man with whom you talked was Prince von Falkenberg."
"What, the German Minister?"
"It seems incredible, doesn't it? Falkenberg is a man possessed of one
idea--to upset the relations between France and England. For that
purpose he has been paying secret visits to Paris for the last year. He
has corrupted the Press here. He has wormed his way into the confidence
of one or two of the Ministers. The thing is a perfect mania with him.
He has taken it into his head that the articles which Kendricks has
made me promise to write, and the first one of which appeared in _Le
Grand Journal_ yesterday--the one you read at dinner-time--are going
to be exploited as an exposure of his methods. For that reason he came
ostensibly to confirm an offer which he made me some time ago. When I
refused, he offered me a large sum of money--anything to get rid of me
and to stop my writing these articles. Of course I declined, and there
Lady Anne began to laugh once more.
"Well," she said, "I suppose I'm not dreaming. It sounds like a page
out of an opera-bouffe. That man who was here, whom I threatened to
shoot, was really Prince Falkenberg?"
"There's no doubt whatever about it," Julien assured her. "The very
first night I was in Paris he sent for me. Anne," he went on, turning
once more towards her, "I haven't thanked you half enough. What a nerve
you have! You were splendid!"
"Don't talk rubbish, Julien," she protested. "The stroke of luck was
that I happened to be there. It must have been quite a surprise for him
to see an apparently respectable young woman step out of your bedroom.
I am inclined to fear, Julien, that I am compromised. Anyhow, mother
would say so!"
"Between ourselves," Julien remarked, "I don't think that Falkenberg
will mention the occurrence. Just wait while I put on another collar
and we'll go to that music-hall."
She glanced at the clock.
"I think you shall take me home instead."
He looked at her quickly.
"This affair has upset you!"
"My dear Julien," she said dryly, "what an absurd idea! Of course I am
quite used to these little affairs, to seeing you lie bound and gagged,
and pointing a revolver at that unpleasant-looking Prince, with a
horrible fear inside me all the time that if I did aim at anything I
shouldn't hit it! Nevertheless, I think I'll go home, if you don't
They descended the stairs and he called a little _voiture_.
"I suppose it would sound silly," he ventured, after a time, "if I said
anything more about thanking you?"
"Ridiculous!" she replied. "But what are you going to do? Are you going
to the police?"
He shook his head.
"I think that Herr Freudenberg, as he calls himself, would be too
clever for me if I tried anything of that sort. You see, I have put
this revolver into my pocket. I am going to avoid the lonely places,
and have Kendricks with me as much as possible."
"Take care of yourself," she advised, in a matter-of-fact tone, as they
turned into the street where Mademoiselle Rignaut lived. "I don't want
to hear of any tragedies."
"When shall I see you again?" Julien asked.
"It depends upon what reply I get from Madame Christophor," she
answered. "She may want me at once, and I don't know yet whether I'll
get an evening out or not! I shall have to leave you to discover that.
She vanished within the dark doorway. Julien stepped back into the
carriage more than a little puzzled. To him Anne had always seemed the
prototype of all that was serene and matter-of-fact. To-night he had
found her unrecognizable. There was something, too, in her face as she
had turned away, a slight tremble in her voice, that bewildered him. As
he drove back to his rooms through the lighted streets, it was strange
that, notwithstanding the exciting adventure through which he had
passed, his thoughts were chiefly concerned with the problem of this
unfamiliar Lady Anne!
LADY ANNE DECLINES
"My dear Julien!"
The Duchess was very impressive indeed. From the depths of an
easy-chair in her sitting-room at the Ritz Hotel she held out both her
hands, and in her eyes was that peculiar strained look which Julien had
only been privileged to observe once or twice in his life. It
indicated, or rather it was the Duchess's substitute for, emotion.
Julien at once perceived, therefore, that this was an occasion.
"First of all," she went on, motioning him to a chair, "first of all,
before I say a single word about this strange thing which has brought
me to Paris, let me congratulate you. I always knew, dear Julien, that
you would do something, that you would not allow yourself to be
altogether crushed by the machinations of that hateful woman."
"Really," Julien began, "I am not quite sure--"
"I mean your letters, of course," she interrupted. "The Duke, when he
finished the first one, said only one thing--'Wonderful!' That is just
how we all feel about them, Julien. I met Lord Cardington only a few
hours before I left London, and he was absolutely enthusiastic. 'If one
thing,' he said, 'will save the country, it is this splendid attack
upon the new diplomacy!'--as you so cleverly called it. The Duke tells
me that that first article of yours is to be printed as a leaflet and
distributed throughout the country."
"I am very glad," Julien said, "to hear all this. Tell me, what brings
you to Paris? Is the Duke with you?"
The Duchess smiled at him reproachfully.
"You ask me what brings me to Paris, Julien? Come, come! You and I
mustn't begin like that. I want you to tell me at once where she is."
"Where who is?"
"Anne, of course! Please don't play with me. Consider what a terrible
time we have all been through."
Julien did not at once reply. His very hesitation seemed to afford the
Duchess a lively satisfaction.
"There!" she declared. "You are not going to pretend, then, that you
don't know? That is excellent. Julien, tell me at once where to find
her. Take me to her."
"I am afraid I can't do that," Julien objected.
"My dear--my dear Julien!" the Duchess protested. "This is all so
foolish. Why should there be any mystery about Anne's whereabouts? I am
not angry. I ought to be, perhaps, but you see I have guessed my dear
girl's secret. I've felt for her terribly during the last few weeks,
but it was so hard to know what to do. It seemed shocking at the time,
but perhaps, after all, the course which she adopted was the wisest."
"I am very glad to hear that you are taking it like that," Julien
remarked, "and I am sure Anne will be. I think the best thing I can do
is to go and see her and tell her that you are here--"
"She does not know, then?" the Duchess interrupted.
"Why, of course not," Julien replied. "I received your note early this
morning--before I was up, in fact--and you begged me so earnestly to
come round at once that I came straight here without calling anywhere."
The Duchess coughed.
"Very well, Julien, I will leave you to go and fetch Anne whenever you
like. I shall await you here impatiently. Tell me how it was that you
both managed to deceive us so completely?"
Julien shook his head.
"I haven't the slightest notion what you mean."
The Duchess shrugged her shoulders.
"For my part," she said, "I always looked upon dear Anne as the most
unemotional, unsentimental person. Naturally I thought that she was a
little attracted towards you, but on the other hand I had no idea that
she looked upon marriage as anything but a reasonable and necessary
part of life. I had no idea, even, that she had any real affection for
"Affection for me!"
Julien looked up. The Duchess was regarding him as a mother might look
at a naughty child whom she intended to pardon.
"I did notice," she continued, "that Anne seemed very silent for some
time after your departure, and there was a curious lack of enthusiasm
about her preparations for the wedding with Mr. Samuel Harbord. She
scarcely looked, even, at the pearls he gave her. You know that I found
them on the floor of her bedroom after she had gone away? Well, well,
never mind that," the Duchess went on. "When I got her hurried note and
understood the whole affair, I must say that on the whole it was a
relief to me. Dear Anne--she is only like what I was at her age, before
I married the Duke. You ought to be very proud and happy, Julien."
"I should be very happy," Julien declared, "to understand in the least
what you are talking about."
The Duchess stared at him.
"My good man," she cried, "my own daughter runs away on the eve of her
marriage, throws all Society into a commotion, comes to Paris to join
the man whom she cares for--you--you, Julien--and then you affect to
Julien was speechless for several moments. He was conscious of a little
wave of strange emotion. The walls of the hotel sitting-room fell away.
He was standing on the edge of the wood behind the shrubbery of
laurels. The smell of the country gardens, the distant music, the
delicious stillness, the queer, troubled look in Anne's eyes, her
suddenly quickened breath, that moment which had passed so soon! It
came back to him with a peculiar insistence during those few seconds!
Then he brushed it away.
"My dear Duchess," he said slowly, "you are laboring under some
extraordinary mistake. Anne and I were very good friends and I think
that we should have made a reasonably contented couple. That, however,
was naturally broken off at once owing to my misfortune. Anne's visit
to Paris, her sudden flight from London, had nothing whatever to do
with me. I met her here entirely by accident. No word has passed
between us which would suggest for a single moment that she looked upon
this matter any differently!"
The Duchess listened to him steadily. At first there were signs of a
coming storm. Like a skilful general, however, she abandoned her
position and changed her tactics. She got up and walked to the window,
produced a handkerchief from her pocket, and stood dabbing her eyes.
She looked out over the Place Vendome. Julien, who had not the least
idea what to say, kept silent.
"Julien," she said at last, turning around, "this--this is a blow to
me. If what you say is true, and of course it is, dear Anne's life is
ruined. At present every one sympathizes with her. You know, Samuel
Harbord, notwithstanding his enormous wealth--you have no idea, Julien,
how horrid he was about the settlements--is very unpopular. There wasn't
a soul except his own people who didn't thoroughly enjoy his position.
Anne had run away to Paris, they all said, because she declined to give
up her old sweetheart. You know what they will all say now? She came
and you would have none of her! I ask you, Julien, as a man of the
world, isn't that the view people are bound to take?"
"It is a very stupid view," Julien declared. "Anne cares no more for me
than for any other man. She isn't that sort. Even if I were in a
position to marry any one, I am quite sure that she would refuse me."
The Duchess began to see her way. She tried, however, to banish the
look of relief from her face.
"My dear Julien," she said very gently, "you men, however well you
mean, sometimes make such mistakes. I want to show you what I am sure
you will see to be your duty. Things, of course, can never be as we had
once hoped. On the other hand, I am a mother, Julien, and I want to see
my daughters happy. We are very, very poor, but a little privation is
good for all of us. The Duke will settle two thousand a year upon Anne,
and I am quite sure that you can earn money with that wonderful pen of
yours, and then, of course, there is your own small income."
"Anne doesn't want to marry me, and," he added, after a moment's
hesitation, "I don't want to marry Anne. You forget that I am an
outcast from life. I have to start things all over again. What should I
do with a wife who has been used to the sort of life Anne has always
"Dear Julien," the Duchess repeated, "I want to show you your duty. If
you do not marry Anne, every one in London will say that she came to
you and you refused her. It is your duty at least to give her the
opportunity. It is unfortunate that she came here, perhaps, but we have
finished with all that. She is here, every one knows that she is here,
and you have been seen together."
Julien rose from his chair and walked up and down the room.
"I haven't talked very much with Anne," he said, pausing after a while,
"but it seems to me that she is making a bid for liberty. She is an
independent sort of girl, you know, after all, although she was very
well content, up to a certain point, to take things as they came. I
don't believe for a moment that she would marry me."
"At least," the Duchess persisted, "do your duty and ask her. If
necessary, even let people know that you have asked her. It is your
Julien hesitated no longer.
"Very well," he decided, "since you put it like that I will ask Anne,
but I warn you, I think she will refuse me."
"She will do nothing of the sort," the Duchess declared; "but oh!
Julien, it would make me so happy if you would take me to her, if I
could have just a few minutes' talk with her first, before you said
"Dear Duchess, I think not. I will go to see Anne alone. I will ask her
to marry me in my own way. I will tell her that you are here, and
whether she consents to marry me or not, I will bring her to see you.
But my offer shall be made before you and she meet."
"You are a little hard, dear Julien," the Duchess murmured, "but let it
be so. Only remember that the poor dear child may be feeling very
sensitive--she must know that she has placed herself so completely in
your power. Be nice to her, Julien."
The Duchess offered him a tentative but somewhat artificial embrace,
which Julien with great skill evaded.
"We shall see," he remarked, "what happens. I shall find you here, I
The Duchess nodded.
"I have traveled all night," she said, half closing her eyes. "Directly
I saw that it was my duty, I came here without waiting a single second.
I shall lie down and rest and hope, Julien, until I see you both. I
shall hope and pray that you will bring Anne here to luncheon with me
and that we shall have a little family gathering."
Anne was seated before the wide-open window in the little back room
leading from Mademoiselle Rignaut's workshop. A sewing-machine was on
the table in the middle of the apartment, the floor was strewn with
fragments of material. Anne, in a perfectly plain black gown, similar
to those worn by the other young ladies of the establishment, was
making bows. She looked at Julien, as he entered, in blank amazement.
Then a shadow of annoyance crossed her face.
"My dear Julien," she exclaimed, "fancy letting you climb these four
flights of stairs! Besides, these are my working hours. I am not
"Rubbish!" Julien interposed. "There's surely no need for you to pose
as a seamstress?"
"Don't be foolish! Why not a seamstress? I am absolutely determined to
do work of some sort. I am tired of living on other people and other
people's efforts. Until I hear from Madame Christophor, or find another
post, I am doing what I am fit for here. Don't make me any more annoyed
than I am at present. I am cross enough with Janette because she will
make me sit in here instead of with the other girls."
He came across the room and stood by her side before the window. The
slight haze of the midsummer morning rested over the city with its
tangled mass of roofs and chimneys, its tall white buildings with funny
little verandas, the sweep of boulevards and statelier buildings in the
distance. She looked up and followed his eyes.
"Don't you like my view?" she asked. "One misses the roar of London. Do
you notice how much shriller and less persistent all the noises are?
Yet it has its own inspiration, hasn't it?"
"Without a doubt," Julien answered. "Of course, you can guess what I
"If it were to ask me to lunch," she said, composedly threading her
needle, "I am sorry, but I can't come. I have to make twenty-five of
these bows and I am rather slow at it."
"Luncheon might have followed as an after-thought," he replied. "My
real mission was to suggest that you should marry me."
Lady Anne's fingers paused for a moment in the air. She sat quite
still. Her eyes were half closed. There was a curious little quiver at
her heart, a little throb in her ears. On the whole, however, she kept
her self-control marvelously.
"Whatever put that into your head?" she inquired, going on with her
He hesitated. It was in his mind to tell her of that evening at
Clonarty, to speak of it, to recall that one wave of emotion on which,
indeed, they might have floated into a completer understanding. He
looked at her steadfastly. She was very graceful, very good to look
upon. She sat upright in her poor cane chair, bending over her foolish
little task. But he missed any inspiration which might have guided his
tongue. She looked so thoroughly self-possessed, so splendidly superior
"Isn't it natural?" he asked. "You and I were always good friends. We
have come together here and we are both a little lonely. I have never
known any one else in the world, Anne," he continued, "with whom I have
been able to think of marriage with more--more content. One might live
quite a pleasant life here. We should not be paupers. At any rate,
there would be no reason for you to sit in this stuffy room making
bows, or to go and write Madame Christophor's letters."
"Is that all?"
Again he was tempted. For a single moment she had raised her eyes and
he had fancied that in that swift upward glance he had seen the light
of an almost eager questioning, an almost pathetic search. He bent
towards her, but she refused obstinately to look at him again.
"Dear Anne," he said, "I have always been fond of you."
Again her fingers were idle. An idea seemed to have occurred to her.
She asked him a question.
"How long is it since you have seen my mother?"
He did not at once reply. She raised her head and looked at him. Then
she knew the truth. She set her teeth and fought. A little sob was
strangled in her throat.
"I left your mother a few minutes ago," he told her. "She arrived in
Paris this morning and sent for me."
Lady Anne worked for a time in silence. Then she laid the bow, which
she had finished, upon the table, and leaned back in her chair,
clasping her right knee with her hands.
"You really are the queerest person, Julien," she declared. "How you
were ever a success as a diplomatist I can't imagine! You came in with
the air of one charged with a high and holy mission. It was so obvious
and yet for a moment it puzzled me. How I would love to have been with
you this morning--with you and my mother, I mean--somewhere behind a
curtain! Never mind, you've done the really right and honorable
thing--you have given me my chance. I am very grateful, Julien."
She looked frankly enough into his face now and laughed. Julien
"Can't you see, both of you," Anne went on, "you silly people, that
something quite alien to us and our set has found its way into my
life--a sort of middle-class complaint--Heaven knows what you would call
it!--but it came just in time to place me in a most awkward position. I
still haven't any doubt that marriage is a very respectable and
desirable institution, but to me the idea of it as a matter of
convenience has suddenly become--well, a little worse than the thing
which we all shudder at so righteously when we pass along the streets
of Paris. Of course, I know," she added, "that's a shocking point of
view. My mother would hold, and you, too, that a legalized sale is no
sale at all, that matrimony is a perfectly hallowed institution, a
perfectly moral state, and all the rest of it. You see, I very nearly
admitted it myself--I very nearly sold myself!"
She shuddered. Then she rose to her feet, straight and splendid, with
all the grace of her beautiful young womanhood.
"Men don't think just as we do about this," she continued. "You are all
much too Oriental. But a woman has at least a right to keep what she
doesn't choose to sell, even if in the end she chooses to give it."
Julien moved a step nearer to her.
"Anne," he said, "supposing one cared?"
Every fibre of her body was set in an effort of resistance. The mocking
laugh rose readily enough to her lips, the words were crushed back in
her throat. Only the faintest shadow shone for a moment in her eyes.
"Ah, Julien," she murmured lightly, "if one cared! But does that really
come, I wonder? Not to such men as you. Not often, I am afraid, to such
women as I."
The door was suddenly opened. Little Mademoiselle Rignaut was covered
"But, miladi," she exclaimed, "a thousand pardons--"
"Janette," Anne interrupted, "if I hear that once more I leave--I seek
"But, mademoiselle, then," Mademoiselle Rignaut corrected, "a thousand
pardons indeed! I had no idea--"
"My dear Janette," Lady Anne protested, "why do you apologize for
entering your own workshop? It is foolish, this. I go now, dear Julien,
to put on my hat. You shall drive me to where my mother is staying--the
Ritz, I suppose? Afterwards you shall leave us. Wait in the street
below. I shall be less than two minutes."
Mademoiselle Rignaut was still apologetic as she conducted Julien down
the narrow stairs.
"But indeed," she declared, "there never was a young lady so strange,
with such charming manners, so sweet, as dear Miladi Anne. All the time
she smiles, inconveniences are nothing, one would imagine that she were
happy. And yet at night--"
"At night what?" Julien asked.
Mademoiselle shook her head.
"Miladi Anne is not quite so cheerful as she seems. At night I fancy
that she does not sleep too well. One hears her, and, alas! Monsieur
Sir Julien, last night I heard her sobbing quietly."
"Lady Anne sobbing?" Julien exclaimed. "It seems impossible."
"Indeed, but women are strange!" Mademoiselle Rignaut sighed.
A DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
Lady Anne came gayly down to the street a few minutes later. She was
still wearing the plain black gown and the simplest of hats.
Nevertheless, she looked charming. Her fresh complexion with its slight
touch of sunburn, her wealth of brown hair, and the distinction of her
carriage, made her everywhere an object of admiration in a city where
the prevailing type of beauty was so different.
"Poor mother!" she exclaimed, as they crossed the Place de l'Opera.
"Tell me, was she very theatrical this morning, Julien?"
"I am afraid I must admit that she was," he declared. "I found her very
"I hate to talk about her," Anne continued, "it makes one feel so
unfilial, but really she is the most wonderful marionette that ever
lived the perfect life. You see, I have been behind the scenes so long.
Every now and then a little of the woman's nature crops up. Her cut to
Mrs. Carraby, for instance, was quite one of the events of the season.
It was so perfectly administered, so utterly scathing. I hear that the
poor creature went to bed for a fortnight afterwards. Gracious, I hope
I am not distressing you, Julien!" she added hastily.
"Not in the least," Julien assured her grimly. "I have no interest in
Lady Anne sighed.
"That's how you men talk when your little feeling has evaporated.
Julien, you're a selfish crowd! You make the world a very difficult
place for a woman."
"I think," he said, "that your sex avenges itself.'
"I am not sure," she replied. "Men so often place the burden of their
own follies upon a woman's shoulders."
"You rebuke me rightly," Julien declared bitterly.
"I was not thinking of you," she told him reproachfully. "I am sorry,
Julien. I should not have said that."
"It was the truth," he confessed, "absolutely the truth. Still, I have
never blamed Mrs. Carraby for my disasters. It was my own asinine
simplicity. Tell me, when shall I see you again? I think I ought to
leave you here."
"You want to know about my interview with mother? Well, you shall know
all about that, I promise you, because I have changed my mind. I intend
to make you an auditor. Don't desert me, Julien, please. Remember, this
is really a trying moment for me. I have to face an irate and obstinate
parent. If friendship is worth anything, come and help me."
"I can't help thinking," he objected, "that your mother would rather
talk to you alone."
"Then you will please to consider me and not my mother," Anne insisted,
as they drew up before the door of the hotel. "I wish you to remain."
The Duchess received them perfectly. She did not attempt anything
emotional. She simply held out both her hands a little apart.
"You dear, sensible people!" she cried. "Anne, how dared you give us
such a shock!"
Anne leaned over and kissed her mother.
"Mother," she announced, "I am not going to marry Julien."
The Duchess started. The expression which flashed from her eyes was
"Don't talk nonsense, Anne!" she exclaimed sharply.
"No nonsense about it," Anne retorted. "I can't bear to talk when any
one is standing up. Sit down, and in a few sentences I'll let you know
how hopeless it all is."
There was real fear in the Duchess's eyes.
"Anne," she gasped, "is there a man, then?"
"You idiotic person, of course there isn't!" Anne replied. "Why on
earth you should all talk about a man directly a girl breaks away for a
time, I can't imagine. Now sit down there and listen. I brought Julien
along because if you bully me too much I shall make him take me away.
We are excellent friends, Julien and I, and he has been very kind to me
since I came here; but I met him entirely by accident, and if I hadn't
I am quite sure that we might have lived here for years and never come
across one another."
"But I have told every one in London!" the Duchess protested. "I have
explained everything! I have told them how you always loved Julien,
what a terrible blow his troubles were, and how you suddenly found that
it was impossible for you to marry any other man, and like a dear,
romantic child that you are you ran away to him."
"Yes," Lady Anne said dryly, "that's a very pretty story! That's just
what I imagined you would tell everybody when you knew that I'd come
here. That is just," she continued slowly, "what you have been rubbing
into poor Julien this morning before he came to see me. Very well,
mother, up to a certain point it came off, you see. Julien called most
dutifully, found me sitting in an attic--'attic' is the correct word,
isn't it?--and made his declaration. No, I don't think he declared
anything, on second thoughts! He effectually concealed any feelings he
might have had. It was a suggestion which he made."
"My manner of expressing myself," Julien began a little stiffly--
"Your manner of expressing yourself was perfect," Anne interrupted. "It
was a great deal too perfect, my _preux chevalier_. Only you see,
Julien, only you see, mother, Julien offered me exactly what I left
home to escape from. I have come to the conclusion," she went on,
smoothing her skirt about her knees, "that it is most indecent and
wholly improper even to think of marrying a man who does not love you
and whom you do not love."
The Duchess closed her eyes.
"Anne, what have you been reading?" she murmured.
"Not a thing," Anne went on. "I never did read half enough. I'm simply
acting by instinct. Julien and I were engaged for three months and at
the end of that time we were complete strangers. The idea of marrying a
stranger was not attractive to me. Let that go. Julien went. Along came
"We will not talk about Mr. Harbord," the Duchess interposed hastily.
"Oh, yes, we will! Now so far as Julien was concerned," Anne continued,
"I dare say I should have smothered my feelings because there is
nothing revolting about him. He is quite an attractive person, and
physically everything to be desired. But when it came to a man who was
not a gentleman, whose manners were odious, who offended my taste every
time he opened his mouth--why, you see, the thing couldn't be thought
of! Day by day it got worse. Towards the end he began to try and put
his hands on me. That made me think. That's why I came to Paris."
"Anne," the Duchess declared severely, "you are indecent!"
"On the contrary," Anne insisted, "I think it was the most decent thing
I ever did. Now please listen. I will not come back to England, I will
not marry Julien, I will not think of or discuss the subject of
marriage with any one. I am a free person and I haven't the least
intention of spending my life moping. I am going to have a pleasant
time and I am going to have it in my own way. You have two other
daughters, mother--Violet and Lucy. Unless they change, they are
exactly what you would have them. Be satisfied. Devote your energies to
them and count me a black sheep. You can make me a little allowance, if
you like--a hundred a year or so--but whether I have it or not, I am
either going to make bows in Mademoiselle Rignaut's workshop, or I am
going to be secretary to a very delightful lady--a Mrs. Christophor, or
something of the sort."
The Duchess rose--she had an idea that she was more dignified standing.
"Anne," she said, "I am your mother. Not only that, but I ask you to
remember who you are. The women of England look for an example to us.
They look to us to live regular and law-abiding lives, to be dutiful
wives and mothers. You are behaving like a creature from an altogether
different world. You speak openly of things I have never permitted
mentioned. I ask you to reflect. Do you owe nothing to me? Do you owe
nothing to your father, to our position?"
"A great deal, mother," Anne replied, "but I owe more to myself than to
any one else in the world."
The Duchess felt hopeless. She looked toward Julien.
"There is so much of this foolish sort of talk about," she complained.
"It all comes of making friends with socialists and labor people, and
having such terrible nonsense printed in the reviews. What are we to
do, Julien? Can't you persuade Anne? I am sure that she is really fond
"I wouldn't attempt to influence her for a single moment," Julien
declared. "I won't say whether I think she is right or wrong. On the
whole, I am inclined to think that she is right."
"You, too, desert me!" the Duchess exclaimed.
"Well, it all depends upon one's conception of happiness, of course,"
Julien replied, "but so far as I am concerned, let me tell you that the
idea of a girl like Anne married to an insufferable bounder like
Harbord, just because he's got millions of money, simply made me boil."
Anne, for some reason or other, was looking quite pleased.
"I am so glad to know you felt like that, Julien. It's really the
nicest thing you've said to me all the morning. Well, that's over now.
Mother, why don't you give us some lunch and take the four o'clock
train back? It's the Calais train, which I know you always prefer."
The Duchess reflected for a moment. There were advantages in lunching
at the Ritz with Julien on one side of her and Anne on the other. She
gave a little sigh and consented.
The luncheon in the beautiful restaurant of the Ritz was a meal after
the Duchess's own heart. She was at home here and received the proper
amount of attention. Not only that, but many acquaintances--mostly
foreign, but a few English--paused at her table to pay their respects.
To every one of these she carefully introduced her daughter and Sir
Julien. The situation was not without its embarrassments. Lady Anne,
however, dissipated them by an unaffected fit of laughter.
"Mother thinks she is putting everything quite right by lending us the
sanctity of her presence," she declared. "We have been seen lunching at
the Ritz. After this, who shall say that I ran away from home to meet a
riding master in Paris, or some other disreputable person? I may
perhaps be pitied as the victim of a hopeless infatuation for you,
Julien, but for the rest, if we only sit here long enough I shall be
The Duchess was a little uneasy.
"I must say, Anne," she protested, "that you seem to have developed a
great deal of levity during the last few days. It's not a subject to be
alluded to so lightly. Ah! now let me tell you who this is. A
wonderfully interesting person, I can assure you. She was born in Paris
of American parents, very wealthy indeed, married when quite young to
Prince Falkenberg, and separated from him within two years. They say
that she lives a queer, half Bohemian sort of life now, but she is
still a great person when she chooses. My dear Princess!"
Madame Christophor, who had entered the room on her way to a luncheon
party, paused for a moment and shook hands. Then she recognized Julien.
"Really," she murmured, "this is most unexpected. My dear Duchess, you
have quite deserted Paris. Is this your daughter--Lady Anne? I scarcely
remember her. And yet--"
"We met yesterday," Lady Anne interrupted promptly. "You know, I want
to be your secretary, Madame Christophor, if you will let me. My mother
has entirely cast me off, so it doesn't matter."
The Duchess made a most piquant gesture. It was really an insufferable
position, but she was determined to remain graceful.
"My dear Madame Christophor," she said, "you have no grown-up children,
of course, so I cannot ask for your sympathy. But I have a daughter
here who is giving me a great deal of trouble. I flatter myself that I
have modern views of life, but Anne--well, I won't discuss her."
Madame Christophor smiled.
"Young people are different nowadays, Duchess," she remarked. "If Lady
Anne really wants to come into life on her own, why not? She can be my
secretary if she chooses. I shall pay her just as much as I should any
one else, and I shall send her away if she is not satisfactory. There
are a great many young people nowadays, Duchess," she continued, "in
very much your daughter's position, who do these odd things. I always
think that it is better not to stand in their way. Sir Julien, I want
to speak to you before you leave this restaurant. I have something
important to say."
The Duchess was a little taken aback. To her it seemed a social
cataclysm, something unheard of, that her daughter should propose to be
any one's secretary. Yet this woman, who was certainly of her own
order, had accepted the thing as entirely natural--had dismissed it,
even, with a few casual remarks. Julien, who since Madame Christophor's
arrival had been standing in his place, was somewhat perplexed.
"You are lunching here?" he asked.
"With the Servian Minister's wife. I shall excuse myself early. It is a
vital necessity that we talk for a few minutes before you leave here.
Five minutes ago I sent a note to your rooms."
"I shall be at your service," Julien replied slowly.
"I shall expect you in the morning," Madame Christophor said, smiling
at Lady Anne. "Don't be later than ten o'clock. I am always at home
after four, Duchess, if you are spending any time in Paris," she added.
They watched her as she passed to the little group who were awaiting
her arrival. She was certainly one of the most elegant women in the
room. Lady Anne looked after her with a faint frown.
"I wonder," she murmured, "if I shall like Madame Christophor?"
"I had no idea, Julien," the Duchess remarked, "that you were friendly
Julien evaded the question.
"At any rate," he said, turning to Anne, "this will be better for you
than making bows."
"I suppose so," she assented. "All the same, I am very much my own
mistress in that dusty little workshop. If Madame Christophor--isn't
that the name she chooses to be called by?--becomes exacting, I am not
even sure that I shan't regret my bow-making."
"Tell me exactly how long you have known her, Julien!" the Duchess
"Since my arrival in Paris this time," Julien answered. "I had--well, a
sort of introduction to her."
"She is received everywhere," the Duchess continued, "because I know
she visits at the house of the Comtesse Deschelles, who is one of the
few women in Paris of the old faction who are entirely exclusive. At
the same time, I am told that she leads a very retired life now, and is
more seen in Bohemia than anywhere. I am not at all sure that it is a
desirable association for Anne."
"Well, you can leave off troubling about that," Anne said. "Remember,
however much we make believe, I have really shaken the dust of
respectability off my feet. Hamilton Place knows me no longer. I am a
dweller in the byways. Even if I come back, it will be as a stranger.
People will be interested in me, perhaps, as some one outside their
lives. 'That strange daughter of the poor dear Duchess, you know,' they
will say, 'who ran away to Paris! Some terrible affair. No one knows
the rights of it.' Can't you hear it all? They will be kind to me, of
course, but I shan't belong. Alas!"
The Duchess was studying her bill and wondering how much to tip the
waiter. She only answered absently.
"My dear Anne, you are talking quite foolishly. I wish I knew," she
added plaintively, a few minutes later, "what you have been reading or
whom you have been meeting lately."
"Don't bother about me," Anne begged. "What you want to do now is to
tell Parkins to pack up your things and I'll come and see you off by
the four o'clock train. Julien must wait outside for my future
employer. What I really think is going to happen is that she's going to
ask for my character. Julien, be merciful to me! Remember that above
all things I have always been respectable. Remind her that if I were
too intelligent I should probably rob her of her secrets or money or
something. I am really a most machine-like person. Nature meant me to
be secretary to a clever woman, and my handwriting--don't forget my
handwriting. Nothing so clear or so rapid has ever been seen."
The Duchess signed her bill, slightly undertipped the waiter and
accepted his subdued thanks with a gracious smile.
"I can see," she said, as they left the room, "that I shall have to
wash my hands of you. Nevertheless, I shall not lose hope."
She shook hands solemnly with Julien, and he performed a like ceremony
with Lady Anne.
"When shall I see you again?" he asked the latter.
"You had better question Madame Christophor concerning my evenings
out," she replied. "It is not a matter I know much about. I am sure you
are quite welcome to any of them."
Julien found a seat in the broad passageway. Several acquaintances
passed to and fro whom so far as possible he avoided. Madame
Christophor came at last. She was the centre of the little party who
were on their way into the lounge. When she neared Julien, however, she
paused and made her adieux. He rose and waited for her expectantly.
"We are to talk here?" he asked.
"In that corner."
She pointed to a more retired spot. He followed her there.
"Order some coffee," she directed.
He obeyed her and they were promptly served. She waited, chatting idly
of their luncheon party, of the coincidence of meeting with the
Duchess, until they were entirely freed from observation. Then she
leaned towards him.
"Sir Julien," she said, "I have read your articles, the first and the
second. You are a brave man."
"Are you going to warn me once more against Herr Freudenberg?" he
She shook her head.
"If you do not know your danger," she continued, "you would be too
great a fool to be worth warning. Remember that Freudenberg came from
Berlin as fast as express trains and his racing-car could bring him,
the moment he read the first."
"I have already had a brief but somewhat unpleasant interview with
him," Julien remarked.
"I congratulate you," she went on. "Unpleasant interviews with Herr
Freudenberg generally end differently. Now listen to me. I have a
proposition to make. There is one house in Paris where you will be
safe--mine. I offer you its shelter. Come there and finish your work."
Julien made no reply. He sipped his coffee for a moment. Then he turned
"Madame Christophor," he said, "once you told me that you disliked and
distrusted all men. Why, then, should I trust you?"
She winced a little, but her tone when she answered him was free of
"Why should you, indeed?" she replied. "Yet you should remember that
the man against whose cherished schemes your articles are directed is
the man whom I have more cause to hate than any other in the world."
"Herr Freudenberg," he murmured.
"Prince Adolf Rudolf von Falkenberg," she corrected him. "Do you know
the story of my married life?"
"I have never heard it," he told her.
"I will spare you the details," she continued. "My husband married me
with the sole idea of using my house, my friends, my social position
here for the furtherance of his schemes. Under my roof I discovered
meetings of spies, spies paid to suborn the different services in this
country--the navy, the army, the railway works. When I protested, he
laughed at me. He made no secret of his ambitions. He is the sworn and
inveterate enemy of your country. His feeling against France is a
slight thing in comparison with his hatred of England. For the last ten
years he has done nothing but scheme to humiliate her. When I
discovered to what purpose my house was being put, I bade him leave it.
I bade him choose another hotel, and when he saw that I was in earnest,
he obeyed. It is one of the conditions of our separation that he does
not cross my threshold. That is why I say, Sir Julien, that you have
nothing to fear in accepting the shelter of my roof."
"Madame Christophor," Julien said earnestly, "I am most grateful for
your offer. At the same time, I honestly do not believe that I have
anything to fear anywhere. Herr Freudenberg has made one attempt upon
me and has failed. I do not think that he is likely to risk everything
by any open assaults. In these civilized days of the police, the
telephone and the law courts, one is not so much at the mercy of a
strong man as in the old days. I do not fear Herr Freudenberg."
Madame Christophor shrugged her shoulders.
"My friend," she admitted, "I admire your courage, but listen. You say
that one attempt has already been made to silence you. For every letter
you write, there will be another made. At each fresh one, these
creatures of Herr Freudenberg's will have learned more cunning. In the
end they are bound to succeed. Why risk your life? I offer my house as
a sanctuary. There is no need for you to pass outside it. You could
take the exercise you require in my garden, which is bounded by four of
the highest walls in Paris. You can sit in a room apart from the rest
of the house, with three locked doors between you and the others. You
may write there freely and without fear."
"I am afraid it is my stupidity," he said, "but I cannot possibly bring
myself to believe in the existence of any danger. I will promise you
this, if I may. If any further attempt should be made upon me, any
attempt which came in the least near being successful, I will remember
your offer. For the present my mind is made up. I shall remain where I
She shrugged her shoulders.
"Not that, by any means," he assured her heartily. "You know that I am
grateful. You know that if I refuse for the moment your offer it is not
because I mistrust you. I simply feel that I should be taking elaborate
precautions which are quite unnecessary."
"I might even spare you," she remarked, smiling, "Lady Anne for your
"Even that inducement," he answered steadily, "does not move me."
"You will have your own way," she said, "and yet there is something
rather sad about it. I know so much more of this Paris than you. I know
so much more of Herr Freudenberg. Remember that there are a quarter of
a million Germans in this city, and of that quarter of a million at
least twenty thousand belong to one or the other of the secret
societies with which the city abounds. All of them are different in
tone, but they all have at the end of their programme the cause of the
Fatherland. By this time you will have been named to them as its enemy.
Twenty thousand of them, my friend, and not a scruple amongst the lot!"
He moved in his place a little restlessly.
"One does not fight in these ways nowadays," he protested.
"Pig-headed Englishman!" she murmured. "You to say that, too!"
His thoughts flashed back to those few moments of vivid life in his own
rooms. He thought of Freudenberg's calm perseverance. An uncomfortable
feeling seized him.
"I do not know," she went on, leaning a little towards him, "why I
should interest myself in you at all."
"Why do you, then?" he asked, looking at her suddenly.
She played with the trifles that hung from her chatelaine. He watched
for the raising of her eyes, but he watched in vain. She did not return
his inquiring look.
"Never mind," she said, "I have warned you. It is for you to act as you
think best. If you change your mind, come to me. I will give you
sanctuary at any time. Take me to my automobile, please."
He obeyed her and watched her drive off. Then he went slowly and
unmolested back to his rooms.
THE SECOND ATTEMPT
The concierge of Julien's apartments issued with a somewhat mysterious
air from his little lodge as his tenant passed through the door. He was
a short man with a fierce, bristling moustache. He wore a semi-military
coat, always too short for him, and he was so stout that he was seldom
able to fasten more than two of the buttons of his waistcoat.
"What is it, Pierre?" Julien asked. "Any callers for me?"
"There have been callers, indeed, monsieur," Pierre replied, "callers
whose errand I do not quite understand. They asked many questions
concerning monsieur. When they had finished, the man--bah! he was a
German!--he thrust into my hand a hundred franc note. He said, 'No word
of this to Monsieur Sir Julien!' I put the note into the bottom of my
trousers pocket, but I made no response. I am not dishonorable. I keep
the note because these men should think me craven enough to give them
information, to hear their questions, and to say nothing to monsieur,
one of my own lodgers! It was an insult, that. Therefore I keep the
hundred franc note. Therefore I tell monsieur all that these two men
"You showed," Julien declared, "a rare and excellent discretion.
"They asked questions, monsieur, on every conceivable subject," Pierre
continued. "Their interest in your doings was amazing. They asked what
meals you took in the house, at what hour you went out and at what hour
you returned. Then the shorter of the two wished to take the room above
yours. I asked him more than double the price, but he would have
engaged it. Then I told him that I was not sure. There was a gentleman
to whom it was offered. They come back this afternoon to know the
"If they find a lodging in this house," Julien said, "I fear that I
"It shall be," Pierre decided, "as monsieur wishes. I am not to be
tempted with money when it comes to a question of retaining an old
tenant. The room is let to another. It is finished."
Julien climbed the stairs thoughtfully to his apartments, locked
himself in and sat down before his desk. For an hour or more he worked.
Then there came a timid knock at the door. He looked around, frowning.
After a moment's hesitation he affected not to notice the summons, and
continued his work. The knocking came again, however, low but
persistent. Julien rose to his feet, turned the key and opened the
"Mademoiselle!" he exclaimed, genuinely surprised.
It was Mademoiselle Ixe who glided past him into the room. She signed
to him to close the door. He did so, and turning slowly faced her. She
was standing a few yards away, her lips a little parted, pale
notwithstanding the delicately artistic touch of coloring upon her
cheeks. Her hands were crossed upon the jade top of her lace parasol.
In her muslin gown and large hat she formed a very effective picture as
she stood there with her eyes now fixed upon Julien.
"Mademoiselle," he began, "I do not quite understand."
"Look outside," she begged. "See that there is no one there. I am so
afraid that I might have been followed."
Julien stepped out onto the landing and returned.
"There is no one about at all," he assured her.
She drew a little sigh.
"But it is rash, this! Monsieur Sir Julien, you are glad--you are
pleased to see me? Make me one of your pretty speeches at once or I
"But, mademoiselle," Julien said, wheeling a chair towards her, "who
indeed could be anything but glad to see you at any time? Yet forgive
me if I am stupid. Tell me why you have come to see me this afternoon
and why you are afraid that you are followed?"
"Why?" she murmured, looking up into his eyes. "Ah, Monsieur Sir
Julien, it is hard indeed to tell you that!"
Mademoiselle Ixe was without doubt an extraordinarily pretty young
woman. She was famous even in Paris for her figure, her looks, the
perfection of her clothes, the daintiness and distinction of those
small adjuncts to her toilette so dear to the heart of a Parisienne.
Julien looked at her and sighed.
"Perhaps, mademoiselle," he said, "you will find it hard also to tell
me whether you come of your own accord or at the instigation of Herr
She looked genuinely hurt. Julien, however, was merciless.
"It is, perhaps, because Herr Freudenberg has told you that I once lost
great things through trusting a woman that you think to find me an easy
victim?" he went on. "Come, am I to give you those sheets over there,"
he added, pointing to his writing-table, "and promise for your sake
never to write another line, or have you more serious designs?"
"Monsieur Julien," she faltered,--
He suddenly changed his tone.
"Am I cruel?" he asked. "Forgive me, mademoiselle--forgive me,
She held out her delicately gloved hand towards him; her face she
turned a little away and one gathered that there were tears in her eyes
which she did not wish him to see.
"Take off my glove, please," she whispered. "I did not think you would
be so cruel even for a moment."
He took her fingers in his, fingers which promptly returned his
pressure. His right arm stole around her.
"Monsieur Sir Julien," she continued very softly, "please promise that
you will speak to me no more now of Herr Freudenberg. Tell me that you
are glad I have come. Say some more of those pretty things that you
whispered to me in the Rat Mort."
His arm tightened about her. She was powerless.
"Julien!" she murmured.
He laughed quietly. Suddenly she struggled to escape from him.
"Let me go!" she cried. "Sir Julien, but you are rough. Monsieur!"
He flung her from him back into the chair. In his left hand he held the
pistol he had taken from the bosom of her gown--a dainty little affair
of ivory and silver. He turned it over curiously. She lay back in the
chair where he had thrown her, gripping its sides with tremulous
fingers, her eyes deep-set, distended, staring at him. He thrust the
weapon into his pocket.
"Really," he said, "I thought better of Herr Freudenberg. Why doesn't
he come himself?"
"Oh, he will come!" she answered.
"Will he?" Julien replied. "I should have thought better of him if he
had come first, instead of sending a woman to do his work."
She sat up in the chair. Julien had known well how to rouse her.
"You do not think that he is afraid?" she cried. "Afraid of you? Bah!
For the rest, it was I who insisted on coming. He was troubled. I knew
why. I said to myself, 'It is a risk I will take. I will go to Sir
Julien's rooms. I will shoot him. I will pretend that it was a love
affair. I will go into court all with tears, I will wear my prettiest
clothes, nothing indeed will happen. An affair of jealousy--a moment of
madness. One takes account of these things. Then Herr Freudenberg
himself has great friends here, friends in high places. He will see
that nothing happens.'"
"A very pretty scheme," Julien remarked sarcastically. "Supposing,
however, I turn the tables upon you, mademoiselle. You are here and I
have taken away this little plaything. Would Herr Freudenberg be
jealous if he knew, I wonder?"
She glanced at the door.
"Locked," Julien continued grimly. "Do you still wish me to come and
make pretty speeches to you?" he added. "You are certainly looking
very charming, mademoiselle. Your gown is exquisite. What can I do more
than echo what all Paris has said--that there is no one of her
daughters more bewitching? Can you wonder if I lose my head a little
when I find you here with me in my rooms--a visit, too, of pure
She rose to her feet. The patch of color upon her cheeks had become
"You will let me go?" she faltered.
Julien unlocked the door.
"Mademoiselle," he answered, "I shall most certainly let you go. Permit
me to thank you for the pleasure which your brief visit has afforded
The door was opened before her. Julien stood on one side. The smile
with which he dismissed her was half contemptuous, half kindly. Upon
the threshold she hesitated.
"If there were no Herr Freudenberg," she whispered, "if it were not my
evil fortune, Monsieur Sir Julien, to love him so foolishly, so
absolutely, so that every moment of separation is full of pain, every
other man like a figure in a dream--if it were not for this, Monsieur
Sir Julien, I do not think that I should like to leave you so easily!"
Julien made no reply. She passed out with a little sigh. He heard the
flutter of her laces and draperies as she crossed the passage and
commenced the descent of the stairs. Julien was closing the door when
he heard a familiar voice and a heavy footstep. Kendricks, with a
Gladstone bag in his hand, came bustling up.
"Julien, you dog," he exclaimed savagely, "you're at it again! Why the
devil can't you keep these women at arm's length? What has that pretty
little creature of Herr Freudenberg's been doing here?"
Julien laughed as he closed the door.
"Don't be a fool, David! She wasn't here at my invitation."
"Tears in her eyes!" Kendricks muttered. "Sobbing to herself as she
went down the steps! Crocodile's tears, I know. These d--d women,
Julien! Out with it. What did she come for?"
Julien produced the pistol from his pocket.
"It was," he explained, "her amiable intention to please her lord and
master at the slight expense of my life. Fortunately, the game was a
new one to her and she kept on feeling the bosom of her gown to see
whether the pistol was there still."
"What did you do?" Kendricks demanded.
"What was there for me to do?" Julien replied. "I took her little toy
away and told her to run off. This is the second time, David. Estermen
and Freudenberg have had a shy at me here themselves, and they'd have
gotten me all right but for an accident. I won't tell you what the
accident was, for the moment, owing to your peculiar prejudices. How
are things in London?"
Kendricks threw himself into an easy-chair and began to fill his pipe.
"Julien," he declared, "you've done the trick! I'm proud of my advice,
proud of the result. There isn't a club or an omnibus or a tube or a
public-house where that letter of yours isn't being talked about. They
tell me it's the same here. Have you seen the German papers?"
"Never was such a thunderbolt launched," Kendricks continued. "They are
all either stupefied or hysterical. Freudenberg left Berlin an hour
after he saw the article. You tell me you've met him already?"
"Yes, he's been here," Julien replied. "He offered to make me a Croesus
if I'd stop the letters. When I refused, well, we had a scuffle, and by
Jove, they nearly got me! He means to wipe me out."
"We'll see about that!" Kendricks muttered. "I'm not going to leave
your side till we're through with this little job."
"Madame Christophor suggested that I should go there and finish,"
Julien said. "What do you think of that?"
"Madame Fiddlesticks!" Kendricks retorted angrily. "The wife of
Falkenberg! Do you want to walk into the lion's jaws?"
"She is separated from her husband," Julien reminded him. "My own
impression is that she hates him."
"I'd never believe it," Kendricks insisted. "The fellow has the devil's
own way with these women. Look at that little wretch I met on the
stairs. A harmless, flirting little opera singer a year ago. Now she'd
come here and murder a man against whom she hasn't the slightest
grudge, for his sake. I tell you the fellow's got an unwholesome
influence over every one with whom he comes in contact."
"Have you read to-day's letter?" Julien asked abruptly.
"Read it! Man alive, it made the heart jump inside me! I tell you it's
set the war music dancing wherever a dozen men have come together. I
always thought you had a pretty gift as a maker of phrases, Julien, but
I never knew you dipped your pen in the ink of the immortals. I tell
you no one doubts anything you have written. That's the genius of it.
No one denies it, no one attempts arguments, every one in England and
France whose feelings have been ruffled is already wanting to shake
hands all over again. One sees that giant figure, the world's
mischief-maker, suddenly caught at his job. It's gorgeous! How about
"Half written," Julien declared, pointing to his table.
Kendricks went to the door and locked it, went to the cupboard and
brought out the whiskey and soda, undid his Gladstone bag, buttoned a
life preserver on his left wrist, and laid a Mauser pistol on the table
by the side of him.
"Julien," he said, "I feel like the biggest ass unhung, but I am here
with my playthings to be watchdog. Get to your desk and write, man. One
drink first. Come."
They raised their glasses.
"What have you called number three?" Kendricks asked.
"'A Maker of Toys!'" Julien replied.
"Here's damnation to him!" Kendricks said, raising the glass to his
lips. "Now get to work, Julien."
BY THE PRINCE'S ORDERS
Once more mademoiselle sat beneath a canopy of pink roses, surrounded
by obsequious waiters, with the murmur of music in her ears, opposite
the man she adored. Yet without a doubt mademoiselle was disturbed. Her
fixed eyes were riveted upon the newspaper which Herr Freudenberg had
passed into her hand. She was suddenly very pale.
"Send some of these people away," she begged. "I am frightened."
Herr Freudenberg smiled. With a wave of his hand they were alone.
"Dear Marguerite," he said quietly, "compose yourself. All those who
stand in my way and the way of my country must be swept aside, but
remember this. They have all received their warning. I lift my hand
against no one who has not first received a chance of escape."
"He was a man so gallant," she faltered, "so _comme il faut_.
Listen to me, please."
She laid the newspaper upon the table and kept the flat of her hand
still upon it. Then she leaned towards him.
"You will not be angry with me?" she implored. "Indeed I did it to
please you, to win, if I could, a little more of your love. I knew that
this man Sir Julien stood in your path and that you found it difficult
to remove him. An impulse came to me. We had talked together gayly as a
man of gallantry may talk to a woman like myself. It might easily pass
for flirting, those things that he has said. Although you, dear one,"
she added, looking across the table, "know how it is with me when such
words are spoken. Well, I bought cartridges for my little pistol that
you gave me, I thrust it into the bosom of my gown, I wore my prettiest
clothes, and yesterday I went to his rooms."
Herr Freudenberg's cold eyes were suddenly fixed upon her face. His
fingers stopped their drumming upon the tablecloth.
"I meant to shoot him," she confessed. "I thought that if I could not
escape afterwards it was so easy for people to believe that he was my
lover, that it was a crime of jealousy, a moment's passion. I said to
myself, too, that you would help so that after all my punishment would
be a very small affair. In no other way it seemed to me could he have
been disposed of so easily."
"Sweet little fool!" Herr Freudenberg murmured. "Did it never enter
into your little brain that you are known as my companion?"
She shook her head.
"That would have counted for nothing. People would not have believed
that I had any other motive. I should have declared that it was a love
"He was too quick for me," mademoiselle admitted. "He saw me feel the
spot where the pistol lay concealed. He--he snatched it away."
"And afterwards?" Herr Freudenberg inquired, with the ghost of a smile
upon his lips.
She raised her eyes.
"He let me go," she replied. "He threw open the door and he laughed at
me. Forgive me, please, if I am sad, if indeed I weep. He was a gallant
Herr Freudenberg sighed. Slowly he raised his glass to his lips and
"It is an amiable epitaph," he declared. "Many a man has gone up to
Heaven with a worse. Cheer up, my little Marguerite. A year or two more
or less in a man's life is no great matter, and after all it was not
one warning which this rash man received. You have not yet read the
account of the affair."
Mademoiselle slowly withdrew the palm of her hand from the paper. The
paragraph was headed:
SHOCKING EXPLOSION IN THE RUE DE MONTPELIER.
She looked up.
"I cannot read it," she murmured. "Tell me."
"It is simple," he replied. "This afternoon an unfortunate explosion
occurred in the house in the Rue de Montpelier where Sir Julien had his
apartments. The whole of the front of the premises was blown away. It
is regrettable," he added, with a little shrug of the shoulders, "that
in all seven people perished, including the concierge. Mr. Kendricks,
an English journalist, was taken away alive, but terribly injured, to
the hospital. His companion, who seems to have been within a few feet
of him when the explosion occurred, was unfortunately blown to pieces.
The details as to his fate might perhaps interfere with your appetite,
but let me at least assure you, my dear Marguerite," Herr Freudenberg
continued, "that such a death is entirely painless. I regret the
necessity for such means, but the man had his chance. I regret, also,
the fate of the other poor people who lost their lives. Unfortunately,
it was necessary to remove Sir Julien in such a way that no suspicion
should be cast upon any one person. The death of the concierge, for
instance, was absolutely essential. He was suspicious about some of my
men who had been making inquiries."
"But it is horrible!" she gasped.
"Little one," he went on, "life is like that. To succeed one has to
cultivate indifference. Sir Julien Portel had many warnings. He knew
very well that if he persisted in writing those articles, he was
braving my defiance. Already he has done mischief enough. The whole
series would have undone the work of the last two years. To-night,"
Herr Freudenberg continued, with a sigh of relief, "we may open the
Journal without apprehensions. There are no more secrets disclosed, no
more of these marvelously written appeals to--"
Herr Freudenberg stopped short. His eyebrows had drawn closer together.
He was gazing at the sheet which he held in his hand with more
expression in his face than mademoiselle had ever seen there before.
"My God!" he muttered.
She, too, bent forward. She, too, saw the article with its heading: "A
Maker of Toys!"
Herr Freudenberg waved her back. Line by line he read the article. When
he had finished, his face was almost ghastly. He drained his glass and
called for the _sommelier_.
"Serve more wine," he ordered briefly.
"What is it that you have seen?" she asked.
"I was a fool not to have been prepared," he answered. "There is
another article in to-night's paper, but of course he would have sent
it off before--before the explosion happened. It is worse than the
others!" he went on hoarsely. "Thank Heaven, that man is out of the
way! I would give a million marks to be able to destroy every copy of
this paper that was ever issued. It is not fair fighting!... It is
barbarous! No longer can I hope for any privacy in this country. You
see--you see, Marguerite? He has written of me openly. 'The Toymaker
from Leipzig!'--that is what he has called me! These two, Kendricks and
he, they saw through me from the first. They knew what it was that I
desired. Damn them!"
Mademoiselle crossed herself instinctively. Once she had been
"Poor Sir Julien!"
Herr Freudenberg sighed.
"To-morrow night, at any rate," he said, "there will be no article. We
have made sure of that. I pray to Heaven that it may not be too late!"
She shuddered. The service of dinner was resumed.
"Put the paper away," she begged. "Don't let us think of it any more.
After all, as you say, he was warned. Nothing that one feels now can do
any good. Give me some wine. Talk to me of other things."
Estermen came in to them presently. Herr Freudenberg insisted upon his
taking a chair. Once more he dismissed the waiters.
"All goes well," Estermen announced. "There is not an idea at
headquarters as to the source of the explosion. I have been round with
the newspaper men."
"How is Kendricks?" Herr Freudenberg asked.
"Alive, but barely conscious."
"It is a pity," Herr Freudenberg said coldly. "Kendricks is responsible
for a good deal of the trouble. Did you see that to-night's article is
"He must have been a day ahead," he explained. "It was probably a later
one of the series upon which he was engaged when the thing occurred."
"This one will do sufficient harm," Herr Freudenberg remarked grimly.
Estermen shrugged his shoulders.
"It is true, and yet we have a great start. Public opinion is
thoroughly unsettled. Even those who accepted the _entente_ as the
most brilliant piece of diplomacy of the generation, are beginning to
wonder what really has been gained by it. If I were at Berlin,"
Estermen continued, with a covert glance up at his master, "now is the
time I should choose. To-morrow _Le Grand Journal_ will be silent.
To-morrow I should send a polite notification to the English Government
that owing to the unsettled condition of the country, and the
nervousness of certain German residents, His Imperial Majesty has
thought it wise to send a warship to Agdar."
"The German subjects are a trifle hypothetical," Herr Freudenberg
muttered. "We had the utmost difficulty in persuading an ex-convict to
go out there."
"What does it matter?" Estermen asked. "He is there. He represents the
glorious liberties of the Fatherland. Millions have been spent before
now for the blood of one man."
Marguerite sighed. She was leaning back in her place, watching the
boughs of the lime trees swinging gently back and forth in the night
breeze, the cool moonlight outside, refreshing in its contrast to the
over-lit and overheated auditorium of the music-hall. On the stage a
Revue was in full swing. Mademoiselle Ixe glanced at it but seldom. Her
eyes seemed to be always outside.
"Tell me," she demanded almost passionately, "why cannot one leave the
world alone? It is great enough and beautiful enough. Will Germany be
really the happier, do you think, if she triumphs against England? It
doesn't seem worth while. Life is so short, the joy of living is so
hard to grasp. Don't you think," she added, leaning towards her
companion, her beautiful eyes full of entreaty, "that for one night at
least, all thoughts of your country and of her destinies might pass
away? Let us live in the world that amuses itself, that takes the
pleasures that grow ready to its hand, whose arms are not rapacious,
and whose sword lies idle. Forget for a little time, dear friend. Let
us both forget!"
Herr Freudenberg smiled as he finished his wine.
"Ah! dear Marguerite," he said, "you preach the great philosophy. We
will try humbly to follow in your footsteps. Lead on and we will
follow--up to the Montmartre, if you will, or down to the Rue Royale.
What does it matter, sweetheart, so long as we are together?"
She shivered a little as his fingers touched hers, although her eyes
still besought him. The _vestiaire_ was standing by with her lace
coat. She rose slowly to her feet.
"To the Rue Royale," she decided. "To-night I have no fancy for the
Mrs. Carraby advanced into the library of the great house in Grosvenor
Square. Her husband had risen from his desk and was standing with his
hands in his pockets upon the hearth-rug. His dress was as neat and
correct as ever, his hair as accurately parted, his small moustache as
effectually twirled. Yet there was a frown upon his face, an expression
of gloomy peevishness about his expression. His wife stood and looked
at him, looked at him and thought.
"You are back early," he said. "What is the matter? You don't look
radiantly happy. I thought you were looking forward so much to this
"I was," she replied. "I am disappointed."
He saw then that her silence was not a matter of indifference but of
"What's wrong?" he asked quickly.
Her lips parted for a moment. One saw that her teeth were firmly
clenched. There was a wicked light in her strange-colored eyes.
"It was that woman again," she muttered,--"the Duchess!"
"What about her?" Carraby demanded. "She's bound to be civil to you
"Is she?" Mrs. Carraby replied. "Is she, indeed! Well, her civility
this afternoon has been such that I shall have to give up my stall. I
can't stay there."
"What do you mean?" he demanded.
"Nothing except that before everybody she once more cut me dead, cut me
wickedly," Mrs. Carraby declared. "You don't understand the tragedy of
this to a woman. You are not likely to. She did it in such a way this
time that there isn't a person worth knowing in London who isn't
laughing about it at the present moment."
"Beast of a woman!" he muttered.
Mrs. Carraby came a little further into the room. She sank into an
easy-chair and sat there. Her hands were tightly clenched, her face was
hard and cold, her tone icy. Yet one felt that underneath a tempest was
"You know, Algernon," she went on, "we had some hard times when you
first began to make your way a little. When we first took this house,
even, things weren't altogether easy. Americans can come from nowhere,
do the most outrageous things in the world, and take London by storm.
London, on the other hand, is cruel to English people who have only
their money. She was cruel to us, Algernon, but with all the snubs and
all the difficulties I ever had, nothing has ever happened to me like
"You'll get over it."
"Get over it!" she repeated. "Yes, but I thought that that sort of
thing was at an end. I thought that when you were a Cabinet Minister no
one would dare to treat me as though I were a social nobody."