Part 4 out of 7
cause of bloodshed. Mothers and wives and sisters will execrate
your name, brave men will be sacrificed needlessly. What are the
Osians to you? They are strangers. You will do for them, and
uselessly, what you refuse to do for the woman you profess to
love. I abhor bloodshed. Your honor is the offspring of pride
and egotism. Can you not see the inevitable? War will be
declared. You can not help Leopold; but you can save him the
degradation of being expelled from his throne by force of arms.
The army of the duchess is true to its humblest sword. Can you
say that for the army of the king? Would you witness the
devastation of a beautiful city, by flame and sword?
"Monsieur, Austria is with us, and she will abide with us
whichever way we move. Austria, Monsieur, which is Leopold's
sponsor. And this Leopold, is he a man to sit upon a throne? Is
he a king in any sense of the word? Would a king submit to such
ignominy as he submits to without striking a blow? Would he
permit his ministers to override him? Would he permit his army
to murmur, his agents to plunder, his people to laugh at him, if
he possessed one kingly attribute? No, no! If you were king,
would you allow these things? No! You would silence all murmurs,
you would disgorge your agents, you would throttle those who
dared to laugh.
"Put yourself in the duchess's place. All these beautiful lands
are hers by right of succession; is she wrong to desire them?
What does she wish to accomplish? She wishes to join the kingdom
and the duchy, and to make a great kingdom, as it formerly was.
Do you know why Leopold was seated upon the throne?
"Some day the confederation will decide to divide all these
lands into tidbits, and there will be no one to oppose them.
Madame the duchess wishes to be strong enough to prevent it. And
you, Monsieur, are the grain of sand which stops all this, you
and your pride. Not even a woman's love-- There, I have said it!-
-not even a woman's love-- will move your sense of justice. Go!
leave me. Since my love is nothing, since the sacrifice I make
is useless, go; you are free!" The tears which came into her
eyes this time were genuine; tears of chagrin, vexation, and of
a third sensation which still remained a mystery to her.
To him, as she spoke, with her wonderful eyes flashing, a rich
color suffusing her cheeks and throat and temples, the dim
candle light breaking against the ruddy hair; honor or pride,
whichever it was, was well worth the losing. He was a man; it is
only the pope who is said to be infallible. His honor could not
save the king. All she had said was true. If he held to his word
there would be war and bloodshed.
On the other hand, if he surrendered, less harm would befall the
king, and the loss of his honor --was it honor?--would be well
recompensed for the remainder of his days by the love of this
woman. His long years of loneliness came back; he wavered. He
glanced first at her, then at the door; one represented all that
was desirable in the world, the other more loneliness, coupled
with unutterable regret. Still he wavered, and finally he fell.
"Madame, will you be my wife?"
"Yes." And it seemed to her that the word, came to her lips by
no volition of hers. As she had grown red but a moment gone, she
now grew correspondingly pale, and her limbs shook. She had
irrevocably committed herself. "No, no!" as she saw him start
forward with outstretched arms,. "not my lips till I am your
wife! Not my lips; only my hands!"
He covered them with kisses.
"Hush!" as she stepped back.
It was time. Maurice and the countess entered the room. Maurice
glanced from Madame to Fitzgerald and back to Madame; he frowned.
The Englishman, who had never before had cause to dissemble,
caught up his pipe and fumbled it. This act merely discovered
his embarrassment to the keen eyes of his friend. He had
forgotten all about Maurice. What would he say? Maurice was
something like a conscience to him, and his heart grew troubled.
"Madame," Maurice whispered to the countess, "I have lost all
faith in you; you have kept me too long under the stars."
"Confidences?" said Madame, with a swift inquiring glance at the
"O, no," said Maurice. "I simply complained that Madame the
countess had kept me too long under the stars. But here is
Colonel Mollendorf, freshly returned from Brunnstadt to inform
you that the army is fully prepared for any emergency. Is not
that true, Colonel?" as he beheld that individual standing in
"Yes; but how the deuce--your pardon, ladies! --did you find
that out?" demanded the Colonel.
"I guessed it," was the answer. "But there will be no need of an
army now. Come, John, the Colonel, who is no relative of the
king's minister of police, has not the trick of concealing his
impatience. He has something important to say to Madame, and we
are in the way. Come along, AEneas, follow your faithful Achates;
Thalia has a rehearsal."
Fitzgerald thrust his pipe into a pocket. "Good night, Madame,"
he said diffidently; "and you, countess."
"Good night, Colonel," sang out Maurice over his shoulder, and
together the pair climbed the stairs.
Fitzgerald was at a loss how to begin, for something told him
that Maurice would demand an explanation, though the affair was
none of his concern. He filled his pipe, fired it and tramped
about the room. Sometimes he picked up the end of a window
curtain and felt of it; sometimes he posed before one of the
"You have something on your mind," said Maurice, pulling off his
hussar jacket and kicking it across the room.
"Madame has promised to be my wife."
"And the conditions?" curtly.
Fitzgerald pondered over the other's lack of surprise. "What
would you do if you loved a woman and she promised to be your
"I'd marry her," sitting down at the table.
"What would you do in my place, and Madame had promised to marry
you?" puffing quickly.
"I'd marry her," answered Maurice, banging his fist on the table,
"even if all the kings and queens of Europe rose up against me.
I would marry her, if I had to bind her hands and feet and carry
her to the altar and force the priest at the point of a pistol,
which, in all probability, is what you will have to do."
"I love her," sullenly.
"Do you know who she is?"
"Would it make any difference?"
"No. Who is she?"
"She is a woman without conscience; she is a woman who, to gain
her miserable ends, will stop neither at falsehood, deceit nor
bloodshed. Do you want me to tell you more? She is--"
"Maurice, tell me nothing which will cause me to regret your
friendship. I love her; she has promised to be my wife."
"She will ruin you."
"She has already done that," laconically.
"Do you mean to tell me--"
"Yes! For the promise of her love I am dishonored. For the
privilege of kissing her lips I have sold my honor. To call her
mine, I would go through hell. God! do you know what it is to be
lonely, to starve in God-forsaken lands, to dream of women, to
long for them?"
"And the poor paralytic king?"
"What is he to me?"
"And your father?"
"What are my dead father's wishes? Maurice, I am mad!"
"You are a very sick man," Maurice replied crossly. "What's to
become of all these vows--"
"You are wasting your breath! Do you remember what
Rochefoucauld said of Madame de Longueville?--`To win her heart,
to delight her beautiful eyes, I have taken up arms against the
king; I would have done the same against the gods!' Is she not
worth it all?" with a gesture of his arms which sent the live
coals of his pipe comet-like across the intervening space. "Is
she not worth it all?"
"Who?--Madame de Longueville? I thought she was dead these two
"Damn it, Maurice!"
"I will, if you say so. The situation is equal to a good deal of
plain, honest damning." Maurice banged his fist again. "John,
sit down and listen to me. I'll not sit still and see you made a
fool. Promises? This woman will keep none. When she has wrung
you dry she will fling you aside. At this moment she is probably
laughing behind your back. You were brought here for this
purpose. Threats and bribes were without effect. Love might
accomplish what the other two had failed to do. You know little
of the ways of the world. Do you know that this house party is
scandalous, for all its innocence? Do you know that Madame's
name would be a byword were it known that we have been here more
than two weeks, alone with two women? Who but a woman that feels
herself above convention would dare offer this affront to
society? Do you know why Madame the countess came? Company for
Madame? No; she was to play make love to me to keep me out of
the way. Ass that I was, I never suspected till too late!
Madame's name is not Sylvia Amerbach; it is--"
The door opened unceremoniously and in walked the Colonel.
"Your voices are rather high, gentlemen," he said calmly, and
sat down in an easy chair.
BEING OF COMPLICATIONS NOT RECKONED ON
Maurice leaped to his feet, a menace in his eyes. The Colonel
crossed his legs, rested his hands on the hilt of his saber, and
"I could not resist the desire to have a friendly chat with you."
"You have come cursed inopportune," snarled Maurice. "What do
"I want to give you the countersigns, so that when you start for
Bleiberg to-morrow morning you'll have no trouble."
"Bleiberg !" exclaimed Maurice.
"Bleiberg. Madame desires me to say to you that you are to start
for that city in the morning, to fetch those slips of parchment
which have caused us all these years of worry. Ah, my friend,"
to Fitzgerald, "Madame would be cheap at twenty millions! You
sly dog! And I never suspected it."
Fitzgerald sent him a scowl. "You are damned impertinent, sir."
"Impertinent?" The Colonel uncrossed his legs and brought his
knees together. "Madame has been under my care since she was a
child, Monsieur; I have a fatherly interest in her. At any rate,
I am glad that the affair is at an end. It was very noble in you.
If I had had my way, though, it would have been war, pure and
simple. I left the duchess in Brunnstadt this morning; she will
be delighted to attend the wedding."
"She will attend it," said Maurice, grimly; "but I would not lay
odds on her delight. Colonel, the devil take me if I go to
Bleiberg on any such errand." He went to the window seat.
The Colonel rose and followed him. "Pardon me," he said to
Fitzgerald, who did not feel at all complimented by Madame's
haste; "a few words in Monsieur Carewe's ear. He will go to
Bleiberg; he will be glad to go." He bent towards Maurice. "Go
to Bleiberg, my son. A word to him about Madame, and off you go
to Brunnstadt. Will you be of any use there? I think not. The
little countess would cry out her pretty eyes if she heard that
you were languishing in the city prison at Brunnstadt, where
only the lowest criminals are confined. Submit gracefully, that
is to say, like a soldier against whom the fortunes of war have
gone. Go to Bleiberg."
"I'll go. I give up." It was not the threat which brought him to
this decision. It was a vision of a madonna-like face. "I'll go,
John. Where are the certificates?"
"Between the mattresses and the slats of my bed you will find a
gun in a case. The certificates are in the barrels." His
countenance did not express any particular happiness; the lines
about his mouth were sharper than usual.
"The devil!" cried the Colonel; "if only I had known that!" He
laughed. "Well, I'll leave you. Six o'clock--what's this?" as he
stooped and picked up Maurice's cast-off hussar jacket.
"I was about to use it as a door mat," said Maurice, who was in
a nasty humor. That Fitzgerald had surrendered did not irritate
him half so much as the thought that he was the real puppet. His
hands were tied, he could not act, and he was one that loved his
share in games.
The Colonel reddened under his tan. "No; I'll not lose my temper,
though this is cause enough. Curse me, but you lack courtesy.
This is my uniform, and whatever it may be to you it is sacred
to me. You were not forced into it; you were not compelled to
wear it. What would you do if a man wore your uniform and flung
it around in this manner?"
"I'd knock him down," Maurice admitted. "I apologize, Colonel;
it was not manly. But you must make allowances; my good nature
has suffered a severe strain. I'll get into my own clothes to-
morrow if you will have a servant sew on some buttons and mend
the collar. By the way, who is eating three meals a day in the
east corridor on the third floor?"
Their glances fenced. The Colonel rubbed his mustache.
"I like you," he said; "hang me if I don't. But as well as I
like you, I would not give a denier for your life if you were
found in that self-same corridor. The sentinel has orders to
shoot; but don't let that disturb you; you will know sooner or
later. It is better to wait than be shot. A horse will be
saddled at six. You will find it in the court. The countersigns
are Weixel and Arnoldt. Good luck to you."
"The same to you," rejoined Maurice, "only worse."
The Colonel's departure was followed by a period of temporary
speechlessness. Maurice smoked several "Khedives," while
Fitzgerald emptied two or three pipe-bowls.
"You seem to be in bad odor, Maurice," the latter ventured.
"In more ways than one. Where, in heaven's name, did you
resurrect that pipe?"
"In the stables. It isn't the pipe, it's the tobacco. I had to
break up some cigars."
Then came another period in the conversation. It occurred to
both that something yawned between them--a kind of abyss. Out of
this abyss one saw his guilt arise. . . . A woman stood at his
side. He had an accomplice. He had thrown the die, and he would
stand stubbornly to it. His pride built yet another wall around
him, impregnable either to protests or to sneers. He loved--
that was recompense enough. A man will forgive himself of grave
sins when these are debtors to his love.
As for the other, he beheld a trust betrayed, and he was
powerless to prevent it. Besides, his self-love smarted, chagrin
made eyes at him; and, more than all else, he recognized his own
share in the Englishman's fall from grace. It had been innocent
mischief on his part, true, but nevertheless he stood culpable.
He had no business to talk to a woman he did not know. The more
he studied the aspects of the situation the more whimsical it
grew. He was the prime cause of a king losing his throne, of a
man losing his honor, of a princess becoming an outcast.
"Your bride-elect," he said, "seems somewhat over-hasty. Well,
I'm off to bed."
"Maurice, can you blame me?"
"No, John; whom the gods destroy they first make mad. You will
come to your senses when it is too late."
"For God's sake, Maurice, who is she?"
"What will you do if she breaks her promise?" adroitly evading
"What shall I do?" He emptied the ashes from his pipe, and rose;
all that was aggressive came into his face. "I will bind her
hands and feet and carry her to the altar, and shoot the priest
that refuses to marry us. O Maurice, rest easy; no woman lives
who will make a fool of me, and laugh."
"That's comfort;" and Maurice turned in.
This night it was the Englishman who sat up till the morning
hours. Sylvia Amerbach. . . . A fear possessed him. If it should
be, he thought; if it should be, what then?
Midnight in Madame's boudoir; no light save that which streamed
rosily from the coals in the grate. The countess sat with her
slippered feet upon the fender. She held in her hand a screen,
and if any thoughts marked her face, they remained in blurred
"Heu!" said Madame from the opposite side; "it is all over. It
was detestable. I, to suffer this humiliation! Do you know what
I have done? I have promised to be his wife! His wife, I! Is it
not droll?" There was a surprising absence of mirth in the low
laugh which followed.
"I trust Madame will find it droll."
"And I, Madame?"
"Yes; did you not bring the clown to your feet?"
"How? You did not have the joy denied me --of laughing in his face?"
"No, Madame." With each answer the voice grew lower.
"Since when have I been Madame to you?"
Madame reached out a band and pressed down the screen. "Elsa,
what is it?"
"What is what, Madame?"
"This strange mood of yours."
"You were gay enough this morning. Tell me."
"There is nothing to tell, Madame, save that my sacrifices are
at an end. I have nothing left."
"What! You forsake me when the end is won?" in astonishment.
"I did not say that I should desert you; I said that I had no
more sacrifices to make." The Countess rose. "For your sake,
Madame, because you have always been kind to me, and because it
is impossible not to love you, I have degraded myself. I have
pretended to love a man who saw through the artifice and told me
so, to save me further shame. O Madame, it is all execrable!
"And you will use this love which you have gained--this first
love of a man who has known no other and will know no other
while he lives!-- to bring about his ruin? This other, at whose
head you threw me--beware of him. He is light-hearted and gay,
perhaps. You call him a clown; he is cunning and brave; and
unless you judge him at his true value, your fabric of schemes
will fall ere it reaches its culmination. Could even you trick
him with words? No. You were compelled to use force. Is he not
handsome, Madame?" with a feverish gaiety. "Is there a gentleman
at your court who is a more perfect cavalier? Why, he blushes
like a woman! Is there in your court--" But her sentence broke,
and she could not go on.
"Elsa, are you mad?"
"Yes, Madame, yes; they call it a species of madness." Then,
with a sudden gust of wrath: "Why did you not leave me in peace?
You have destroyed me! O, the shame of it!" and she fled into
her own room.
Madame sat motionless. This, among other things, she had not
Only the troopers and the servants slept in peace that night.
Maurice was up betimes next morning. The hills and valleys lay
under a mantle of sparkling rime, and the very air, keen of edge
and whistling, glistened in the sunlight. The iron shoes of the
horses beat sharply on the stone flooring of the court yard.
Maurice examined his riding furniture; pulled at the saddle,
tugged at the rein buckles, lifted the leather flaps and tried
the stirrup straps. It was not that he doubted the ability of
the groom; it was because this particular care was second nature
Fitzgerald watched him, and meditated. Some of his thoughts were
not pleasant. His eyes were heavy. At times he would lift his
shoulders and permit half a smile to flicker over his lips; a
certain thought caused this. The Colonel sat astride a broad-
chested cavalry horse, spotless white. He was going to accompany
Maurice to the frontier. He had imbibed the exhilarating tonic
of the morning, and his spirits ran high. At length Maurice
leaped into the saddle, caught the stirrups well, and signaled
to the Colonel that he was ready.
"You understand, Maurice?" Fitzgerald asked.
"Yes, John; all the world loves a lover. Besides, it is a
glorious morning for a ride. Up, portcullis, down drawbridge!"
waving his hand to the Colonel.
And away they went through the gateway, into the frosted road.
Maurice felt the spirit of some medieval ancestor creep into his
veins and he longed for an hour of the feudal days, to rescue a
princess from some dungeon-keep and to harry an over-lord. After
all, she was a wonderful woman, and Fitzgerald was only a man.
To give up all for the love of woman is the only sacrifice a man
"En avant!" cried the Colonel. "A fine day, a fine day for the
house of Auersperg!"
"And a devilish bad one for the houses of Fitzgerald and Carewe.
Woman's ambition, coupled with her deceit, is the root of all
evil; money is simply an invention of man to protect himself
from her encroachments. Eve was ambitious and deceitful; all
women are her daughters. When the pages of history grow dull--"
"Time puts a maggot in my lady's brain," supplemented the
Colonel. "It is like a row of dominoes. The power behind the
throne, the woman behind the power; an impulse moves the woman,
and lo! how they clatter down. But without woman, history would
be poor reading. The greatest battles in the world, could we but
see behind, were fought for women. Men are but footnotes, and
unfortunately history is made up of footnotes. But it is a fine
thing to be a footnote; that is my ambition.
"Ah, if you but knew what a pleasure it is for an old man like
me to have a finger in the game time plays! To meddle with
affairs, directly or indirectly! Kingdoms are but judy shows,
kings and queens but puppets; but we who pull the strings--Ah,
that is it! To play a game of chess with crowns!"
"There are exceptions; Madame seems to hold the strings in this
"Madame follows my advice in all she does."
Maurice opened his eyes at this statement.
"Would you believe an old man like me could lay such a train?
All this was my idea. It was difficult to get Madame to agree
with my views. War? I am not afraid of it; I am suspicious of it.
One day your friend returned a personal letter of Madame's
having written across it, `I laugh at you.' It was very foolish.
No man laughs at Madame more than once. She will, one day,
return this letter to him. A crown, a fine revenge, in one fell
"She will ruin him utterly?"
"Have you any idea what sort of man my friend is?"
"He lacks the polish of a man of affairs, and he surrenders too
"He will never surrender--Madame."
"You remember his father; he will prove his father's son, every
inch of him. O, my Colonel, the curtain has only risen. One fine
morning your duchy will wake up without a duchess."
"What do you imply--an abduction?" The Colonel laughed.
"That is my secret."
"And the pretty countess?" banteringly.
"It was rather bad taste in Madame. It was putting love and
patriotism to questionable purposes. I am a gentleman."
"It was out of consideration for you; Madame was not quite sure
about you. But you are right; all of it has rather a dark shade.
You may rob a man of his valuables and give them back; a broken
word is not to be mended. Why did you keep the hiding place so
secret? I could have got those consols, and all this would have
"How should I know where they were? It was none of my affair."
"We are trusting you; I might have gone myself. You will return
with the treasure. Why have I not asked your word? Curiosity
will bring you back; curiosity. Besides this, you have an idea
that with your presence about, a flaw in the glass may be found.
Yes, you will be back. History is to be made; when you are old
you will glance at the page and say: `Look there; rather a
pretty bit, eh? Well, I helped to make it; indeed, had it not
been for me and my curiosity it would not have been made at all.'
Above all things, do not stop to talk to veiled women."
There was a chuckling sound. "I say, your Englishman is clever
now and then. In the gun barrels! Who would have looked for them
there? But why did he come himself? Why did he not trust to his
bankers? Why did he not turn over the affair to his
representative, the British minister? There were a hundred ways
of averting the catastrophe. Why did he not use a little fore-
thought when he knew how anxious we were for his distinguished
"Why does the moon rise at night and the sun at dawn? I am no
Cumaean Sybil. Perhaps it is the impulse which moves the woman
behind the power behind the throne; they call it fate. Had I
been in his place I dare say I should have followed his
Not long after they arrived at the frontier where they were to
separate, to meet again under conditions disagreeable to both.
The Colonel gave him additional instructions.
"Go; return as quickly as possible."
"Never fear; I should not like to miss the finale to this opera
"Rail on, my son; call it by any name you please, only do not
interrupt the prompter;" and with this the Colonel waved him an
Maurice began the journey through the mountain pass, thinking
and planning and scheming. However he looked at the situation,
the end was the same: the Osians were doomed. If he himself
played false and retained the certificates until too late to be
of benefit to the duchess, war would follow; and the kingdom
would be soundly beaten. . . . Would Prince Frederick still hold
to his agreement and marry her Royal Highness, however ill the
fortunes of war fared? There was a swift current of blood to his
heart. The Voiture-verse of a countess faded away. . . .
Supposing Prince Frederick withdrew his claims? Some day her
Highness would be free; free, without title or money or shelter.
It was a wild dream. Was there not, when all was said, a faint
hope for his own affairs in the fall of Fitzgerald?
She was lonely, friendless, personally known to few. Still, she
would be an Osian princess for all her misfortunes. But an Osian
princess was not so great that love might not possess her.
Without royalty she would be only a woman. What would Austria do;
what would Austria say? If Austria had placed Leopold on the
throne, certainly it was to shut out the house of Auersperg.
And who was this man Beauvais, who served one house openly and
another under the rose? Where had he met him before, and why did
the thought of him cause unrest? To rescue her somehow, to win
her love, to see the glory of the world light the heavens in her
eyes! If the dream was mad, it was no less pleasant.
He was a commoner; he had nothing in the world but his brain and
his arm. Fitzgerald, now, possessed a famous title and an
ancient name. These kings and princes hereabout could boast of
but little more than he; and there were millions to back him. He
could dream of princesses and still be sane. Maurice did not
envy the Englishman's riches, but he coveted his right of way.
How often had he indulged in vain but pleasant dreams! Even in
the old days he was always succoring some proud beauty in
distress. Sometimes it was at sea, sometimes in railroad wrecks,
sometimes in the heart of flames; but he was ever there, like a
guardian angel. It was never the same heroine, but that did not
matter; she was always beautiful and rich, high placed and
lovable, and he never failed to brush aside all obstacles that
beset the path to the church door. He had dreamed of paladins,
and here at last was his long-sought opportunity--but he could
do nothing! He laughed. How many such romances lay beneath the
banter and jest of those bald bachelor diplomat friends of his?
Had fate reserved him for one of these?
It was noon when he entered the city of Bleiberg. He went
directly to his hotel, where a bath and a change of clothes took
the stiffness from his limbs. He was in no great hurry to go to
the Grand Hotel; there was plenty of time. Happily there was no
mail for him; he was not needed in Vienna.
At two o'clock he set out for the lower town. On the way he
picked up odd ends of news. The king was rapidly sinking; he had
suffered another stroke, and was now without voice. There was
unusual activity in the barracks. The students of the university
were committing mild depredations, such as building bonfires,
holding flambeau processions, and breaking windows which
contained the photographs of Prince Frederick of Carnavia, who,
strangely enough, was still wrapt in obscurity. When Maurice
entered the Grand Hotel he looked casually among the porters,
but the round-faced one was missing. He approached the desk. The
proprietor did not recognize him.
"No, my friend," said Maurice, affably, as a visitors' book was
pushed forward, "I am not going to sign. Instead, I wish to ask
a favor. A week ago a party of the king's troopers met upstairs."
The proprietor showed signs of returning memory, together with a
"There was a slight disturbance," went on Maurice, still using
the affable tone. "Herr--ah-- Hamilton, I believe--"
The proprietor grew limp and yellow. "I--I do not know where he
"I do," replied Maurice. "Don't you recognize me? Have I changed
so since I came here to doctor a sprained ankle?"
"You?--Before God, Herr, I was helpless; I had nothing to do
with it!" terrified at the peculiar smile of the victim.
"The key to this gentleman's room," was the demand.
"The key, and be quick about it."
The key came forth. "You will say nothing, Herr; it would ruin
my business. It was a police affair."
"Has any one been in this room since?"
"No, Herr; the key has been in my pocket."
"Where is the porter who brought me here?"
"He was not a porter; he was with the police."
Maurice passed up the stairs. He found the room in disorder, but
a disorder rather familiar to his eyes. He had been the cause of
most of it. Here was where he broke the baron's arm and thumped
three others on the head. It had been a good fight. Here was a
hole in the wall where one of the empty revolvers had gone--
missing the Colonel's head by an inch.
There was a smudge on the carpet made by the falling candles. He
saw Fitzgerald's pipe and picked it up. No; the chamber maid had
not yet been there. He went over to the bed, stared at it and
shrugged. He raised the mattress. There was the gun case. He
drew it forth and took out the gun, not, however, without a
twist of his nerves.
Four millions of crowns, a woman's love, the fall of one dynasty
and the rise of another, all wadded in those innocent looking
gun barrels! He hesitated for a space, then unlocked the breech
and held the tubes toward the window. There was nothing in the
barrels, nothing but the golden sunlight, which glinted along
the polished steel.
QUI M'AIME, AIME MON CHIEN
On making this discovery Maurice was inclined to declaim in that
vigorous vocabulary which is taboo. He had been tricked. He was
no longer needed at the Red Chateau. Four millions in a gun
barrel; hoax was written all over the face of it, and yet he had
been as unsuspicious as a Highland gillie. Madame had tricked
him; the countess had tricked him, the Colonel and Fitzgerald.
That Madame had tricked him created no surprise; what irritated
him most was the conviction that Fitzgerald was laughing in his
sleeve, and that he had misjudged the Englishman's capacity for
dissimulation. Very well. He threw the gun on the bed; he took
Fitzgerald's pipe from his pocket and cast it after the gun, and
with a gesture which placed all the contents of the room under
the ban of his anathema, he strode out into the corridor, thence
to the office.
Here the message to Madame from Beauvais flashed back. The
Colonel of the royal cuirassiers had lied; he had found the
certificates. But still there was a cloud of mystery; to what
use could Beauvais put them? He threw the key to the landlord.
"You lied to me when you said that no one had entered that room,"
"O, Herr, I told you that no one but the police had been in the
room since your departure. They made a search the next morning.
Herr Hamilton was suspected of being a spy of the duchy's. I
could not interfere with the police."
Maurice saw that there was nothing to be got from the landlord,
who was as much in the dark as he. He passed into the street and
walked without any particular end in view. O, he would return to
the Red Chateau, if only to deliver himself of the picturesque
and opinionated address on Madame. Once he saw his reflection in
a window glass, and he stopped and muttered at it.
"Eh, bien, as Madame herself says, we develop with crises, and
certainly there is one not far distant. I never could write what
I wish to say to Madame; I'll go back to-morrow morning."
Situated between the university and the Grand Hotel on the left
hand side of the Konigstrasse, east, stood an historical relic
of the days when Austria, together with the small independent
states, strove to shake off the Napoleonic yoke. In those days
students formed secret societies; societies full of strange
ritual, which pushed devotion to fanaticism, which stopped at
nothing, not even assassination. To exterminate the French, to
regain their ancestral privileges, to rescue their country from
its prostrate humiliation, many sacrificed their lives and their
Napoleon found no means of reaching these patriots, for they
could not be purchased. This convinced Napoleon of their
earnestness, for he could buy kings and princes. The students
were invisible, implacable, and many a brilliant officer of the
imperial guard disappeared, never to return.
This historic relic of the Konigstrasse had been the
headquarters of one of the branches of these numerous societies;
and the students still held to those ancient traditions. But men
and epochs pass swiftly; only the inanimate remain. This temple
of patriotism is simply an inn to-day, owned by one Stuler, and
is designated by those who patronize it as "Old Stuler's." It is
the gathering place of the students. It consists of a hall and a
garden, the one facing the street, the other walled in at the
The hall is made of common stone, bald and unadorned save by
four dingy windows and a tarnished sign, "Garten," which hangs
obliquely over the entrance. At the curb stands a post with
three lamps pendant; but these are never lit because Old Stuler
can keep neither wicks nor glass beyond the reach of canes.
Old Stuler was well versed in the peculiarities of students. In
America they paint statues; in Austria they create darkness. On
warm, clear nights the students rioted in the garden; when it
rained, chairs and tables were carried into the hall, which
contained a small stage and a square gallery. Never a night
passed without its animated scene.
Here it was that the evils of monarchical systems were discussed,
the army service, the lack of proper amusement, the
restrictions at the stage entrance to the opera; here it was
that they concocted their exploits, fought their duels, and
planned means of outwitting Old Stuler's slate.
Stuler was a good general; he could keep the students in order,
watch his assistants draw beer, the Rhine wine, and the scum
(dregs of the cask, muddy and strong), and eye the accumulating
accounts on the slate. This slate was wiped out once the month;
that is to say, when remittances came from home. The night
following remittances was a glorious one both to Stuler and the
students. There were new scars, new subjects for debate, and
Stuler got rid of some of his prime tokayer. The politics of the
students was socialism, which is to say they were always
dissatisfied. Tourists seldom repeated their visits to Stuler's.
There was too much spilling of beer in laps, dumping of pipe ash
into uncovered steins, and knocking off of stiff hats.
It was in front of Old Stuler's that Maurice came to a pause. He
had heard of the place and the praise of its Hofbrau and Munich
beers. He entered. He found the interior dark and gloomy, though
outside the sun shone brilliantly. He ordered a stein of Hofbrau,
and carried it into the main hall, which was just off the bar-
room. It was much lighter here, though the hall had the tawdry
appearance of a theater in the day-time; and the motes swam
thickly in the beams of sunshine which entered through the half-
closed shutters. It was only at night that Stuler's was
Scarcely a dozen men sat at the tables. In one corner Maurice
saw what appeared to be a man asleep on his arms, which were
extended the width of the table. It was the cosiest corner in
the hall, and Maurice decided to establish himself at the other
side of the table, despite the present incumbent. Noiselessly he
crossed the floor and sat down. The light was at his back,
leaving his face in the shadow, but shone squarely on the
"I do not envy his headache when he wakes up," thought Maurice.
He had detected the vinous odor of the sleeper's breath. "These
headaches, while they last, are bad things. I know; I've had 'em.
I wonder," lifting the stein and draining it, "who the duffer
was who said that getting drunk was fun? His name has slipped my
memory; no matter." He set down the stein and banged the lid.
The sleeper stirred. "Rich," he murmured; "rich, rich! I'm rich!
A hundred thousand crowns!"
"My friend, I'm not in the position to dispute with you on that
subject," said Maurice, smiling. He rapped the stein again.
The sleeper raised his head and stared stupidly,
"Rich, aye, rich!" He was still in half a dream. "Rich, I say!"
"Hang it, I'm not arguing on that," Maurice laughed.
The other swung upright at this, his round, oily face sodden,
his black eyes blinking. He threw off the stupor when he saw
that it was a man and not the shadow of one.
"Who the devil are you?" he asked, thickly.
Maurice seldom forgot a face. He recognized this one. "Oho!" he
said, "so it's you, eh? I did not expect to meet you. Happily I
had you in mind. You are not employed at present as a porter at
the Grand Hotel? So it is you, my messenger!"
"Who are you and what are you talking about? I don't know you."
"Wait a moment and I'll refresh your memory." Maurice
theatrically thrust a cigar between his teeth and struck a match.
As the flame illumined his features the questioner started. "So
you do not recognize me, eh? You haven't the slightest
remembrance of Herr Hamilton and his sprained ankle, eh? Sit
down or I'll break your head with this stein, you police spy!"
dropping the bantering tone.
The other sat down, but he whistled sharply; and Maurice saw the
dozen or so rise from the other tables and come hurriedly in his
direction. He pushed back his chair and rose, his teeth firmly
embedded in the cigar, and waited.
"What's the trouble, Kopf?" demanded the newcomers.
"This fellow accuses me of being a spy and threatens to break my
"O! break your head, is it? Let us see. Come, brothers; out with
Maurice saw that they were about to charge him, and his hand
went to his hip pocket and rested on the butt of the revolver
which the Colonel had given him. "Gentlemen," he said, quietly,
"I have no discussion with you. I have a pistol in my pocket,
and I'm rather handy with it. I desire to talk to this man, and
talk to him I will. Return to your tables; the affair doesn't
The intended assault did not materialize. They scowled, but
retired a few paces. They saw the movement toward the hip pocket,
and they noted the foreign twist of the tongue. Moreover, they
did not like the angle of the speaker's jaws. They shuffled,
looked questioningly at one another, and, as if all of a single
mind, went slowly back to their chairs. Kopf grew pale. Indeed,
his pallor was out of all proportion with the affair, which
Maurice took to be no more than a comedy.
"Brothers," he said, huskily, "he will not dare."
"Don't you doubt it for a moment," interrupted Maurice, taking
out the revolver and fondling it. "Any interference will mean
one or more cases for the hospital. Come, I'm not the police,"
to Kopf. "I am not going to hurt you. I wish only to ask you a
few questions, which is my right after what has passed between
us. We'll go to my hotel, where we shan't be disturbed."
Together they left the hall. As they passed through the bar-room
Stuler looked questions, but refrained from asking them. Maurice
put away the revolver. As they went out into the street he drew
Kopf's arm within his own.
"What do you want?" asked Johann, savagely.
"First. What is your place in this affair?"
"I had nothing to do with it, Herr, on my honor. I was only a
porter, and I supposed my errand was in good faith."
"How about the gentle push you gave me when the door opened? My
friend, I'm no infant. Lies will do you no good. I know
everything, and wish only to verify. You are a police spy, in
the employ of the duchess." Maurice felt the arm draw, and bore
down on it.
"If I was, do you suppose I'd fool my time on this side of the
Thalians?" Johann shrugged.
"I'm not sure about that," said Maurice, puffing into Johann's
face. "When cabinet ministers play spy, small fry like you will
not cavil at the occupation. And you are not in their pay?"
Johann glared. "I want to know," Maurice went on, "what you know;
what you know of Colonel Beauvais, his plans, his messengers to
the duchy, what is taking place underneath."
Johann's face cleared and a cunning light brightened his eyes.
"If that is all you are after, I'll tell you. I'm a spy no
longer; they have no more use for me, despite their promises.
I'll play them off for quits."
"If that's all," repeated Maurice, "what did you think I wanted
to ask you?"
Johann bit his lip. "I'm wanted badly by the chancellor, curse
you, if you must know. I thought he might be behind you."
"Don't worry about that," said Maurice, to whom this declaration
seemed plausible. "We'll talk as we go along."
And Johann loosened his tongue and poured into Maurice's ear a
tale which, being half a truth, had all the semblance of
straightforwardness. What he played for was time; to gain time
and to lull his captor's suspicions. Maurice was not familiar
with the lower town; Johann was. A few yards ahead there was an
alley he knew, and once in it he could laugh at all pursuit. It
might be added that if Maurice knew but little of the lower town,
he knew still less about Johann.
Suddenly, in the midst of his narrative, Johann put his leg
stiffly between his enemy's and gave a mighty jerk with his arm,
with the result that Maurice, wholly unprepared, went sprawling
to the pavement. He was on his feet in an instant, but Johann
was free and flying up the alley. Maurice gave chase, but
uselessly. Johann had disappeared. The alley was a cul de sac,
but was lined with doors; and these Maurice hammered to ease his
conscience. No one answered. Deeply disgusted with his lack of
caution, Maurice regained the street, where he brushed the dust
from his knees.
"I'll take it out of his hide the next time we meet. He wasn't
worth the trouble, anyway."
A sybil might have whispered in his ear that a very large fish
had escaped his net, but Maurice continued, conscious of nothing
save chagrin and a bruised knee. He resumed the piecing together
of events, or rather he attempted to; very few pieces could be
brought together. If Beauvais had the certificates, what was his
object in lying to Madame? What benefit would accrue to him?
After all, it was a labyrinth of paths which always brought him
up to the beginning. He drooped his shoulders dejectedly. There
was nothing left for him to do but return to the Red Chateau and
inform them of the fruitlessness of his errand. He would start
on the morrow. Tonight he wanted once more to hear the band, to
wander about the park, to row around the rear of the
"A fine thing to be born in purple--sometimes," he mused. "I
never knew till now the inconveniences of the common mold."
He tramped on, building chateaux en Espagne. That they tumbled
down did not matter; he could rebuild in the space of a second,
and each castle an improvement on its predecessor.
His attention was suddenly drawn away from this idle but
pleasant pursuit. In a side street he saw twenty or thirty
students surging back and forth, laughing and shouting and
jostling. In the center of this swaying mass canes rose and fell.
It was a fight, and as he loved a fight, Maurice pressed his
hat firmly on his head and veered into the side street. He
looked around guiltily, and was thankful that no feminine eyes
were near to offer him their reproaches. He jostled among the
outer circle, but could see nothing. He stooped. Something white
flashed this way and that, accompanied by the sound of low
growls. A dog fight was his first impression, and he was on the
point of leaving, for, while he secretly enjoyed the sight of
two physically perfect men waging battle, he had not the heart
to see two brutes pitted against each other, goaded on by brutes
of a lower caste. But even as he turned the crowd opened and
closed, and the brief picture was enough for him.
Her dog! And the students were beating it because they knew it
to be defenseless. Her dog! toothless and old, who could not
hold when his jaws closed on an arm or leg, but who, with that
indomitable courage of his race, fought on and on, hopelessly
He was covered with blood, one of his legs was hurt, but still
the spirit burned. It was cowardly. Maurice's jaws assumed a
particularly ferocious angle. Her dog! Rage choked him. With an
oath he flung this student aside and that, fought his way to the
center. A burly student, armed with a stout cane, was the
Maurice doubled his fist and swung a blow which had one hundred
and sixty pounds behind it, and it landed squarely on the cheek
of the student, who dropped face downward and lay still. This
onslaught was so sudden and unexpected that the students were
confounded. But Maurice, whose plans crystallized in moments
like these, picked up the cane and laid it about him.
The students swore and yelled and stumbled over one another in
their wild efforts to dodge the vindictive cane. Maurice cleared
a wide circle. The dog, half blinded by his blood and not fully
comprehending this new phase in the tide of events, lunged at
Maurice, who nimbly eluded him. Finally the opportunity came. He
flung the cane into the yelling pack, with his left arm caught
the dog about the middle, and leaped back into the nearest
doorway. The muscles of his left arm were sorely tried; the dog
considered his part in the fray by no means ended, and he tugged
and yelped huskily. With his right hand Maurice sought his
revolver, cocked and leveled it. There came a respite. The
students had not fully recovered from their surprise, and the
yells sank into murmurs.
"You curs!" said Maurice, panting. "Shame on you! and an old dog
that can't defend himself! You knew he had no teeth."
"God save your Excellency!" laughed a student in the rear, who
had not tasted the cane; "you may be sure we knew he had no
teeth or we wouldn't have risked our precious calves. Don't let
him scare you with the popgun, comrades. At him, my brave ones;
he will be more sport than the dog! Down with the Osians, dogs,
followers and all!"
"Come on, then," said Maurice, whose fighting blood was at heat.
"Come on, if you think it isn't over. There are six bullets in
this popgun, and I don't give a particular damn where they go.
Whether or not this challenge would have been accepted remains
unwritten. There now came on the air the welcome sound of
galloping hoofs, and presently two cuirassiers wheeled into the
street. What Maurice had left undone with the cane the
cuirassiers completed with the flat of their sabers. They had
had a brush with the students the night before, and they went at
them as if determined to take both interest and principal. The
students dispersed like leaves in the wind--all save one. He
rose to his feet, his hands covering his jaw and a dazed
expression in his eyes. He saw Maurice with the revolver, the
cuirassiers with their sabers, and the remnant of his army
flying to cover, and he decided to follow their example. The
scene had changed somewhat since he last saw it. He slunk off at
a zigzag trot.
One of the cuirassiers dismounted, his face red from his
"Eh?" closely scanning Maurice's white face. "Well, well! is it
you, Monsieur Carewe?"
"Lieutenant von Mitter?" cried Maurice, dropping the dog, who by
now had grasped the meaning of it all. "You came just in time!"
They shook hands.
"I'll lay odds that you put up a good fight," the Lieutenant
said, pleasantly. "Curse these students! If I had my way I'd
coop them all up in their pest-hole of a university and blow
them into eternity."
"And how did the dog come in this part of the town?" asked
Maurice, picking up his hat.
"He was with her Royal Highness. This is charity afternoon. She
drives about giving alms to the poor, and when she enters a
house the dog stands at the entrance to await her return. She
came out of another door and forgot the dog. Max there
remembered him only when we were several blocks away. A dozen or
so of those rascally students stood opposite us when we stopped
here. It flashed on me in a minute why the dog did not follow us.
And we came back at a cut, leaving her Highness with no one but
the groom. Max, take the dog to her Highness, and tell her that
it is Monsieur Carewe who is to be thanked."
Maurice blushed. "Say nothing of my part in the fracas. It was
nothing at all."
"Don't be modest, my friend," said the cuirassier, laughing,
while his comrade dismounted, took the dog under his arm, and
made off. "This is one chance in a lifetime. Her Royal Highness
will insist on thanking you personally. O, I know Mademoiselle's
caprices. And there's your hat, crushed all out of shape. Truly,
you are unfortunate with your headgear."
"It's felt," said Maurice, slapping it against his leg. "No harm
done to the hat. Well, good day to you, Lieutenant, and thanks.
I must be off."
"Nay, nay!" cried the Lieutenant. "Wait a moment. `There is a
tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood --' How
does that line go? I was educated in England and speak English
as I do my mother tongue--"
"Won't you let me go?" asked Maurice. "Look at my clothes."
"You ought to be thankful that they are dry this time. Come;
you'll have a good story to carry back to Vienna. Princesses do
not eat people."
"No," said Maurice.
"Ye gods, listen to that! One would think by the tone of your
voice that you wished they did!"
There was no resisting this good humor; and Maurice wanted only
an excuse to wait. He sat down on the steps, sucked the knuckles
of his hand, and contemplated the grin on the cuirassier's face.
"I like you," said the Lieutenant; "I like your sangfroid. The
palace is a devil of a dull place, and a new face is a positive
relief. I suppose you know that affairs here are bad; no honesty
anywhere. Everybody has his hands tied. The students know this,
and do as they please. Think of two hundred gendarmes in the
city, and an affair like this takes place without one of them
"I tell you frankly that it is all I can do to withhold the edge
of my saber when I meet those students. Last night they held a
noisy flambeau procession around the Hohenstaufenplatz, knowing
full well that the king had had another stroke and quiet was
necessary. They would have waked the dead. I have an idea that I
forgot to use the flat of my sword; at least, the hospital
report confirms my suspicions. Ah, here comes Max."
"Her Royal Highness desires to thank Monsieur Carewe, and
commands that he be brought to her carriage."
Lieutenant von Mitter smiled, and Maurice stood up and brushed
himself. The troopers sprang into the saddle and started on a
walk, with Maurice bringing up behind on foot. The thought of
meeting the princess, together with his recent exertions,
created havoc with his nerves. When he arrived at the royal
carriage, his usual coolness forsook him. He fumbled with his
hat, tongue-tied. He stood in the Presence.
"Monsieur," said the Voice, "I thank you with all my heart for
your gallant service. Poor, poor dog!"
"It was nothing, your Highness; any man would have done the same
thing." The red in the wheel-spokes bothered his eyes.
"No, no! you must not belittle it."
"If it had not been for Lieutenant von Mitter--"
"Whither were you going, Monsieur?" interrupted the Voice.
"Nowhere; that is, I was going toward my hotel."
"Yes, your Highness."
"Step into the carriage, Monsieur;" the Voice had the ring of
command. "I will put you down there. It is the least that I can
do to show my gratitude."
"I--I to ride with your Highness?" he stammered. "O, no! I--that
is--it would scarcely be--"
"You are not afraid of me, Monsieur?" with a smile which, though
it had a bit of the rogue in it, was rather sad. She moved to
the other side of the seat and put the dog on the rug at her
feet. "Perhaps you are proud? Well, Monsieur, I too am proud; so
proud that I promise never to forgive you if you refuse to
gratify my wish."
"I was not thinking of myself, your Highness, or rather I was. I
am not presentable. Look at me; my hat is out of shape, my
clothes dusty, and I dare say that my face needs washing."
The Presence replied to this remarkable defense with laughter,
laughter in which Maurice detected an undercurrent of
"Monsieur Carewe, you are not acquainted with affairs in
Bleiberg, or you would know that I am a nobody. When I pass
through the streets I attract little attention, I receive no
homage. Enter: I command it."
"If your Highness commands--"
"I do command it," imperiously. "And you would have pleased me
more fully if you had accepted the invitation and not obeyed the
"I withdraw all objections," he said hastily, "and accept the
"That is better," the Voice said.
Maurice, still uncovered, sat down on the front seat.
"Not there, Monsieur; beside me. Etiquette does not permit you
to ride in front of me."
As he took the vacant place beside her he felt a fire in his
cheeks. The Voice and Presence were disquieting. As the groom
touched the horses, Maurice was sensible of her sleeve against
his, and he drew away. The Presence appeared unmindful.
"And you recognize me?" she asked.
"Yes, your Highness." He tried to remember what he had said to
her that day in the archbishop's garden. Two or three things
came back and the color remounted his cheeks.
"Have you forgotten what you said to me?"
"I dare say I was impertinent," vaguely.
"Ah, you have forgotten, then!"
In all his life he never felt so ill at ease. To what did she
refer? That he would be proud to be her friend? That if the
princess was as beautiful as the maid he could pass judgment?
"Yes, you have forgotten. Do you not remember that you offered
to be my friend?" She read him through and through, his
embarrassment, the tell-tale color in his cheeks. She laughed,
and there was nothing but youth in the laughter. "Certainly you
are afraid of me."
"I confess I am," he said. "I can not remember all I said to you."
Suddenly she, too, remembered something, and it caused the red
of the rose to ripple from her throat to her eyes. "Poor dog!
Not that they hated him, but because I love him!" Tears started
to her eyes. "See, Monsieur Carewe; princesses are human, they
weep and they love. Poor dog! My playmate and my friend. But for
you they might have killed him. Tell me how it happened." She
knew, but she wanted to hear the story from his own lips.
His narrative was rather disjointed, and he slipped in von
Mitter as many times as possible, thinking to do that individual
a good turn. Perhaps she noticed it, for at intervals she smiled.
During the telling he took out his handkerchief, wiped the
dog's head with it, and wound it tightly about the injured leg.
The dog knew; he wagged his tail.
How handsome and brave, she thought, as she observed the face in
profile. Not a day had passed during the fortnight gone that she
had not conjured up some feature of that intelligent countenance;
sometimes it had been the eyes, sometimes the chin and mouth,
sometimes the shapely head. It was wrong; but this little sin
was so sweet. She had never expected to see him again. He had
come and gone, and she had thought that the beginning and the
end. Ah, if only she were not a princess! If only some hand
would sweep aside those insurmountable barriers called birth and
policy! To be free, to be the mistress of one's heart, one's
dreams, one's desires!
"And you did it all alone," she said, softly; "all alone."
"O, I had the advantage; I was not expected. It was all over
before they knew what had happened."
"And you had the courage to take a poor dog's part? Did you know
whose dog it was?"
"Yes, your Highness, I recognized him."
A secret gladness stole into her heart, and to cover the flame
which again rose to her cheeks, she bent and smoothed the dog's
head. This gave Maurice an opportunity to look at her. What a
beautiful being she was! He was actually sitting beside her,
breathing the same air, listening to her voice. She exhaled a
delicate perfume such as incorporates itself in persons of high
degree and becomes a natural emanation, an incense vague and
indescribable. He felt that he was gazing on the culmination of
youth, beauty, and elegance. . . Yes, Fitzgerald was right. To
beggar one's self for love; honor and life, and all to the winds
if only love remained.
Presently she straightened, and he centered his gaze on the back
of the groom.
"Monsieur, place your hat upon your head," smiling. "We have
entered the Strasse, and I should not like to embarrass you with
the attention of the citizens."
He put on his hat. The impulse came to tell her all that he knew
in regard to the kingdom's affairs; but his voice refused its
offices. Besides, it was too late; the carriage was rolling into
the Platz, and in a moment more it drew up before the terrace of
the Continental Hotel. Maurice stepped out and bared his head.
"This evening, Monsieur, at nine, I shall expect to see you at
the archbishop's reception to the corps diplomatique." A hand
was extended toward him. He did not know what to do about it. "I
am offering you my hand to kiss, Monsieur Carewe; it is a
privilege which I do not extend to all."
As he touched it to his lips, he was sure that a thousand pairs
of eyes were centered on him. The truth is, there were less than
one hundred. It was the first time in many months that the Crown
Princess had stopped before the Continental Hotel. To the guests
it was an event; and some even went as far as to whisper that
the handsome young man was Prince Frederick, incognito.
"God save your Royal Highness," said Maurice, at loss for other
words. He released her hand and stepped back.
"Until this evening, then, Monsieur;" and the royal barouche
"Who loves me, loves my dog," said Maurice, as he sped to his
IN WHICH FORTUNE BECOMES CARELESS AND PRODIGAL
On the night prior to the arrival of Maurice in Bleiberg, there
happened various things of moment.
At midnight the chancellor left the palace, after having
witnessed from a window the meeting of the cuirassiers and the
students, and sought his bed; but his sleep was burdened with
troubled dreams. The clouds, lowering over his administration,
thickened and darkened. How many times had he contemplated
resigning his office, only to put aside the thought and toil on?
Defeat in the end was to be expected, but still there was ever
that star of hope, a possible turn in affairs which would carry
him on to victory. Victory is all the sweeter when it seems
impossible. Prince Frederick had disappeared, no one knew where,
the peasant girl theory could no longer be harbored, and the
wedding was but three days hence. The Englishman had not stepped
above the horizon, and the telegrams to the four ends of the
world returned unanswered. Thus, the chancellor stood alone; the
two main props were gone from under. As he tossed on his pillows
he pondered over the apparent reticence and indifference of the
All was still in the vicinity of the palaces. Sentinels paced
noiselessly within the enclosures. In the royal bedchamber the
king was resting quietly, and near by, on a lounge, the state
physician dozed. The Captain of the household troop of
cuirassiers nodded in the ante-room.
Only the archbishop remained awake. He sat in his chamber and
wrote. Now and then he would moisten his lips with watered wine.
Sometimes he held the pen in midair, and peered into the
shapeless shadows cast by the tapers, his broad forehead shining
and deep furrows between his eyes. On, on he wrote. Perhaps the
archbishop was composing additional pages to his memoirs, for
occasionally his thin lips relaxed into an impenetrable smile.
There was little quiet in the lower town, especially in the
locality of the university. Old Stuler's was filled with smoke,
students and tumult. Ill feeling ran high. There were many
damaged heads, for the cuirassiers had not been niggard with
A student walked backward and forward on the stage, waving
wildly with his hands to command attention. It was some time
before he succeeded.
"Fellow-students, brothers of freedom and comrades," he began.
"All this must come to an end, and that at once. Our personal
liberty is endangered. Our rights are being trodden under foot.
Our ancient privileges are being laughed at. It must end." This
declaration was greeted by shouts, sundry clattering of pewter
lids and noisy rappings of earthenware on the tables. "Have we
no rights as students? Must we give way to a handful of beggarly
mercenaries? Must we submit to the outlawing of our customs and
observances? What! We must not parade because the king does not
like to be disturbed? And who are the cuirassiers?" Nobody
answered. Nobody was expected to answer. "They are Frenchmen of
hated memory--Swiss, Prussians, with Austrian officers. Are we
or are we not an independent state? If independent, shall we
stand by and see our personal liberties restricted? No! I say no!
"Let us petition to oust these vampires, who not only rob us of
our innocent amusements, but who are fed by our taxes. What
right had Austria to dictate our politics? What right had she to
disavow the blood and give us these Osians? O, my brothers,
where are the days of Albrecht III of glorious memory? He
acknowledged our rights. He was our lawful sovereign. He
understood and loved us." This burst of sentiment was slightly
exaggerative, if the history of that monarch is to be relied on;
but the audience was mightily pleased with this recollection. It
served to add to their distemper and wrath against the Osian
puppet. "And where are our own soldiers, the soldiers of the
kingdom? Moldering away in the barracks, unnoticed and forgotten.
For the first time in the history of the country foreigners
patrol the palaces. Our soldiers are nobodies. They hold no
office at court save that of Marshal, and his voice is naught.
Yet the brunt of the soldier's life falls on them. They watch at
the frontiers, tireless and vigilant, while the mercenaries riot
and play. Brothers, the time has come for us to act. The army is
with us, and so are the citizens. Let ours be the glory of
touching the match. We are brave and competent. We are drilled.
We lack not courage. Let us secretly arm and watch for the
opportunity to strike a blow for our rights. Confusion to the
Osians, and may the duchess soon come into her own!"
He jumped from the stage, and another took his place; the
haranguing went on. The orators were serious and earnest; they
believed themselves to be patriots, pure and simple, when in
truth they were experiencing the same spirit of revolt as the
boy whose mother had whipped him for making an unnecessary noise,
or stealing into the buttery.
While the excitement was at its height, a man, somewhat older
than the majority of the students, entered the bar-room from the
street, and lounged heavily against the railing. His clothes
were soiled and wrinkled, blue circles shadowed his eyes, which
were of dull jet, the corners of his mouth drooped dejectedly,
and his oily face, covered with red stubble, gave evidences of a
"Wine, Stuler, wine!" he called, laying down a coin, which
gleamed dimly yellow in the opalescent light. "And none of your
devilish vinegars and scums."
Stuler pounced on the coin and rubbed it between his palms.
"Gold, Johann, gold?"
"Aye, gold; and the last of a pocketful, curse it! What's this
noise about?" with a gesture, toward the hall.
"The boys were in the Platz and had a brush with those damned
cuirassiers. They'll play a harder game yet." Stuler always took
sides with the students, on business principles; they
constituted his purse. "Tokayer?"
"No; champagne. Aye, these damned cuirassiers shall play a hard
game ere the week is done, or my name is not Johann Kopf. They
kicked me out of the palace grounds yesterday; me, me, me!"
hammering the oak with his fist.
"Von Mitter, the English-bred dog! I'll kill him one of these
days. Is it play to-night, or are they serious?" nodding again
toward the hall.
"Go in," said Stuler, "and look at some of those heads; a look
will answer the purpose."
Johann followed this advice. The picture he saw was one which
agreed with the idea that had come into his mind. He returned to
the bar-room. and drank his wine thirstily, refilled the glass
and emptied it. Stuler shook his head. Johann was in a bad way
when he gulped wine instead of sipping it. Yet it was always so
after a carouse.
"Where have you been keeping yourself the past week?" he asked.
If the students were his purse, Johann was his budget of news.
"You ask that?" surlily. "You knew I had money; you knew that I
was off somewhere spending it--God knows where, I don't. Another
bottle of wine. There's enough left from the gold to pay for it."
Stuler complied. Johann's thirst seemed in no way assuaged; but
soon the sullen expression, the aftermath of his spree, was
replaced by one of reckless jollity. His eyes began to sparkle.
"A great game, Stuler; they're playing a great game, and you and
I will be in at the reaping. The town is quiet, you say? The
troops have ceased murmuring, eh? A lull that comes before the
storm. And when it breaks--and break it will!--gay times for you
and me. There will be sacking. I have the list of those who lean
toward the Osians. There will be loot, old war dog!"
Stuler smiled indulgently; Johann was beginning to feel the wine.
Perhaps he was to learn something. "Yes, 'twill be a glorious
"A week hence, and the king goes forth a bankrupt."
"If he lives," judiciously.
"Dead or alive, it matters not which; he goes."
"And the wedding? What is it I hear about Prince Frederick and
the peasant girl?"
Johann laughed. "There will be no wedding."
"And the princess?"
"A pretty morsel, a tidbit for the king that is to be."
"The king that--eh, Johann, are you getting drunk so soon?"
Stuler exclaimed. "I know of no king--"
Johann reached over and caught the innkeeper's wrist. The grasp
was no gentle one. "Listen, that was a slip of the tongue.
Repeat it, and that for your life! Do you understand, my friend?"
"Do you understand?" fiercely.
"Yes, yes!" Stuler wiped his face with his apron.
"Good, if you understand. It was naught but a slip of the tongue,"
nonchalantly. "In a little week, my friend, your till will
have no vulgar silver in it; gold, yellow gold."
"And the duchess?" with hesitance. The budget of news to-night
was not of the usual kind.
Johann did not answer, save by a shrug.
The perturbation of the old man was so manifestly beyond control
that he could not trust his legs. He dropped on the stool,
giving his grizzled head a negative shake. "I would that you had
made no slip of the tongue, Johann," he murmured. "Gott, what is
going on? The princess was not to wed, to be sure, but the
duchess passed --a king besides--"
"Silence!" enjoined Johann. "Stuler, I am about to venture on a
daring enterprise, which, if successful, will mean plenty of
gold. Come with me into your private office, where we shall not
be interrupted nor overheard." He vaulted the bar. Stuler looked
undecided. "Come!" commanded Johann. With another shake of his
head Stuler took down the tallow dip, unlocked the door, and
bade Johann pass in. He caught up another bottle and glass and
followed. Without a word he filled the glass and set it down
before Johann, who raised it and drank, his beady eyes flashing
over the rim of the glass and compelling the innkeeper to
withdraw his gaze.
"Well?" said Stuler, uneasily.
"I need you." Johann finished his glass with moderate slowness.
"Your storehouse on the lake is empty?"
"I shall want it, two nights from this, in case Madame the
duchess does not conquer the Englishman. I shall want two
fellows who will ask no questions, but who will follow my
instructions to the letter. It is an abduction."
"A nasty business," was Stuler's comment. "You have women to
thank for your present occupation, Johann."
"Stuler, you are a fool. It is not a woman; it is a crown."
"Eh?" Stuler's eyes bulged.
"A crown. The duchess may remain a duchess. Who is master in
Bleiberg to-day? At whose word the army moves or stands? At
whose word the Osians fall or reign? On whom does the duchess
rely? Who is king in deed, if not in fact? Who will find means
to liquidate the kingdom's indebtedness, whoever may be the
creditor? Pah! the princess may marry, but the groom will not be
Prince Frederick. The man she will marry will be the husband of
a queen, and he will be a king behind a woman's skirts. It is
what the French call a coup d'etat. She will be glad to marry;
there is no alternative. She will submit, if only that her
father may die in peace."
"And this king?" in a whisper.
"You are old, Stuler; you remember many things of the past. Do
you recollect a prince of a noble Austrian house by the name of
Walmoden, once an aide to the emperor, who was cashiered from
the army and exiled for corresponding with France?"
Stuler's hand shook as he brushed his forehead. "Yes, I
recollect. He fought against the Prussians in the Franco-
Prussian war, then disappeared, to be heard of again as living
in a South American republic. But what has he to do with all
this? Ah, Johann, this is deep water."
"For those who have not learned to swim. You will aid me? A
thousand crowns--two hundred pieces of gold like that which has
just passed from my pocket into yours. It is politics."
"But the sacking of the town?"
"A jest. If Madame the duchess conquers the Englishman, the king
that is to be will pay her. Then, if she wages war Austria can
say nothing for defending ourselves."
"And Walmoden?" Stuler struck his forehead with his fist as if
to pound it into a state of lucidity. "Where is he? It is a
stone wall; I can see nothing."
"Beauvais!" Stuler half rose from his chair, but sank again.
"Exactly. This play, for some reason unexplained, is the price
of his reestablishment into the graces of the noble Hapsburgs.
Between us, I think the prince is playing a game for himself.
But who shall blame him?"
"The devil! I thought Austria was very favorable to the Osian
"Favorable or not, it is nothing to us."
"Well, well, it's a thousand crowns," philosophically.
"That's the sentiment," laughed Johann. "It is not high treason,
it is not lese majeste; it is not a crime; it is a thousand
crowns. Votre sante, as the damned French say!" swallowing what
was left of the wine. "And then, it is purely patriotic in us,"
with a deceitful smile.
"The storehouse is yours, and the men. Now tell me how 'tis to
"Where does her Royal Highness go each Thursday evening,
accompanied by her eternal cuirassiers, von Mitter and
"Where but to see her old nurse Elizabeth? But two men will not
be enough. Von Mitter and Scharfenstein--"
"Will as usual remain at the carriage. But what's to prevent the
men from gaining entrance by the rear?--carrying off her
Highness that way, passing through the alley and making off, to
be a mile away before the cuirassiers even dream of the attempt?"
"After all, I'd rather the duchess."
"We can not all be kings and queens." Johann got up and slapped
Stuler familiarly on the shoulder. "Forget not the gold, the
yellow gold; little heaps of it to finger, to count, and to
Stuler's eyes gleamed phosphorescently. There was the strain of
the ancient marauder in his veins; gold easily gotten. He opened
the door, and Johann passed out, swaying. The wine was taking
hold of him. He turned into the hall, while Stuler busied
himself with the spigots. Some one discovered the spy, and
called him by name; it was caught up by others, and there were
numerous calls for a speech.
As a socialist Johann was well known about the lower town.
Besides, five years gone, he himself had been a student and a
brother of freedom. He had fought a dozen successful duels, and
finally had been expelled from the university for beating a
professor who had objected to his conduct in the presence of
ladies. Other ill reports added to his popularity. To be popular
in this whimsical world of ours, one has either to be very good
or very bad. Johann was not unwilling to speak. Stuler had given
him the cue; the cuirassiers. His advice was secretly to arm and
hold in readiness. As this was the substance of the other
speeches, Johann received his meed of applause.
"And let us not forget the bulldog; let us kill him, too," cried
one of the auditors; "the prodigal bulldog, who has lived on our
This was unanimously adopted. The bulldog was not understood;
and he smacked of the English. Then, too, the bulldog roamed too
freely in the royal enclosures; and, until late years,
trespassers fared badly. The students considered that their
privileges extended everywhere; the dog, not being conversant
with these privileges, took that side which in law is called the
benefit of a doubt.
After his speech Johann retired to the bar-room. What he desired
most of all was a replenished purse. Popular he was; but the
students knew his failings, among which stood prominently that
of a forgetful borrower. They would buy him drinks, clothes and
food, if need be, but they would not lend him a stiver. And he
could not borrow from Stuler, whose law was only to trust.
Johann gambled, and wine always brought back the mad fever for
play. The night before he had lost rather heavily, and he wanted
to recover his losses. Rouge-et-noir had pinched him; he would
be revenged on the roulette. All day long combinations and
numbers danced before his eyes. He had devised several plans by
which to raise money, but these had fallen through. Suddenly he
smiled, and beckoned to Stuler.
"Stuler, how much will you advance me," he asked, "on a shotgun
worth one hundred crowns?"
"A shotgun worth one hundred crowns? Ten."
Johann made a negative gesture. "Fifty or none. You can sell it
for seventy-five in the morning. So could I, only I want the
"If you want wine--" began Stuler.
"I want money."
Stuler scratched his nose. "Bring the gun to me. If it is worth
what you say, I'll see what I can do."
"In an hour;" and Johann went out. A cold thin rain was falling,
and a dash of it in the face had a cooling effect. Somehow, the
exhilaration of the wine was gone, and his mood took a sullen
turn. Money! he was ever in need of money. He cursed his ill
luck. He cursed the cause of it--drink. But for drink he would
not have been plain Johann Kopf, brawler, outcast, spy, disowned
by his family and all save those who could use him. He remained
standing in the doorway, brooding.
At last he drew his collar about his throat and struck off, a
black shadow in a bank of gray. When he reached that part of the
street opposite the Grand Hotel, he stopped and sought shelter
under an awning. The night patrol came clattering down the
street. It passed quickly, and soon all was still again. Johann
stepped out and peered up and down. The street was deserted. All
the hotel windows were in gloom, save a feeble light which
beamed from the office windows.
Would it be robbery? He had not yet stooped to that. But he
could hear the ivory ball clatter as it fell into the lucky
numbers. He had a premonition that he would win if he stuck to a
single combination. He would redeem the gun, replace it, and no
one would be any the wiser. If his numbers failed him. . . . .
No matter. He determined to cross the Rubicon. He traversed the
street and disappeared into the cavernous alley, shortly to loom
up in the deserted courtyard of the hotel. He counted the
windows on the first floor and stopped at the fourth. That was
the window he must enter. Noiselessly he crept along the walls,
stopping now and then to listen. There was no sound except the
monotonous dripping of the rain, which was growing thinner and
Presently he came across the ladder he was seeking. He raised it
to the required height, and once more placed his hand to his ear.
Silence. He mounted the rounds to the window, which he found
unfastened. In another moment he was in the room. Not an object
could he see, so deep was the darkness. If he moved without
light he was likely to stumble, and heydey to his fifty crowns,
not to say his liberty for many days to come. He carefully drew
the blinds and struck a match. The first object which met his
gaze was a fallen candle. This he lit and when the glare of the
flame softened, all the corners of the room stood out. Nowhere
was there any sign of a gun. He gave vent to a half-muttered
curse. Some one had pilfered the gun, or the proprietor was
keeping it until the Englishman returned from the duchy. But he
remembered that there were two guns, one of which the Englishman
did not use in the hunting expeditions.
So he began a thorough search. It meant fifty crowns, green
baize and the whims of fortune. Cautiously he moved between the
fallen chairs. He looked behind the bed, under the dresser, but
without success. His hand closed savagely around the candle, and
he swore inaudibly. He threw back the bed coverings, not that he
expected to find anything, but because he could vent his rage on
these silent, noiseless things. When he lifted the mattress it
was then he took a deep breath and smiled. What he saw was a gun
case. He drew it from under. It was heavy; his fifty crowns were
inside. Next he picked up a candlestick and stuffed the candle
into it, and laid a quilt against the threshold of the door so
that no light would pierce the corridor.
"This is the gun the Englishman did not use in the hunting
expeditions," he thought. "If it is out of repair, as he said it
was, my fifty crowns are not so many pfennige. The devil! it
must be a valuable piece of gunsmithing, to hide it under the
bedclothes. Let me see if my crowns are for the picking."
He investigated forthwith. The hammers and the triggers worked
smoothly. He unlocked the breech and held the nozzles toward the
candle light --and again cursed. The barrels were clogged up.
Notwithstanding, he plucked forth the cleaning-rod and forced it
into one of the tubes. There was a slight resistance, and
something fluttered to the floor and rolled about. The second
tube was treated likewise, with the same result. Johann laughed
silently. The fifty crowns were tangible; he could hear them
jingling in his pocket, and a pretty music they made. He
returned the leather case to its original place and devoted his
attention to the cylinder-shaped papers on the floor.
For a quarter of an hour Johann remained seated on the floor, in
the wavering candle light, forgetful of all save the delicate
tracings of steel engraving, the red and green inks, the great
golden seal, the signatures, the immensity of the ciphers which
trailed halfway across each crackling parchment. He counted
sixteen of them in all. Four millions of crowns. . . . He was
rich, rich beyond all his wildest dreams.
He rose, and restored the gun to its case. Fifty crowns? No, no!
A hundred thousand, not a crown less; a hundred thousand! all
thoughts of the green baize and the rattle of the roulette ball
passed away. There was no need to seek fortune; she had come to
him of her own free will. Wine, Gertrude of the opera, Paris and
a life of ease; all these were his. A hundred thousand crowns, a
hundred thousand florins, two hundred thousand francs, two
hundred thousand marks! He computed in all monetary
denominations; in all countries it was wealth.
Something rose and swelled in his throat, and he choked
hysterically. A voice whispered "No, not a hundred thousand;
four millions!" But reason, though it tottered, regained its
balance, and he saw the utter futility of attempting to dispose
of the orders on the government independently. His hands
trembled; he could scarcely hold this vast treasure. Twice, in
his haste to pocket the certificates, they slipped from his
grasp and scattered. How those six syllables frolicked in his
mind! A hundred thousand crowns!
He extinguished the candle and laid it on the floor, put the
quilt on the bed, then climbed through the window, which he
closed without mishap. He descended the ladder. As he reached
the bottom round his heart gave a great leap. From the alley
came the sound of approaching steps. Nearer and nearer they came;
a shadow entered the courtyard and made straight for the door,
which was but a few feet from the reclining ladder. The kitchen
door opened and the burst of light revealed a belated serving
maid. A moment passed, and all became dark again. But Johann
felt a strange weakness in his knees, and a peculiar thrill at
the roots of his hair. He dared not move for three or four
minutes. But he waited in vain for other steps. He cursed the
serving maid for the fright, disposed of the ladder, and sought
the street. He directed his steps toward Stuler's.
"The pig of an Englishman was deeper than I thought. In the gun
barrels, the gun barrels! If I had not wanted to play they would
have been there yet! A hundred thousand crowns!"
It had ceased to rain, and a frost was congealing the moisture
under foot. On the way back to Stuler's Johann slipped and fell
several times; but he was impervious to pain, bruises were
nothing. He was rich! He laughed; and from time to time thrust
his hand into his vest to convince himself that he was not
dreaming. To whom should he sell? To the Osians? To the duchess?
To the king that was to be? Who would pay quickest the hundred
thousand crowns? He knew. Aye, two hundred thousand would not be
too much. The Englishman would send for the certificates, but
his agent would not find them. The abduction? He would carry it
through as he had promised. It was five thousand crowns in
addition to his hundred thousand. He was rich! He shook his hand
toward the inky sky, toward the palace, toward all that
signified the past . . . . . A hundred thousand crowns!
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE ARCHBISHOP'S PALACE AND AFTER
Maurice, as he labored before his mirror, wondered why in the
world it took him so long to dress. An hour had passed since he
began his evening toilet; yet here he was, still tinkering, so
to speak, over the last of a dozen cravats. The eleven others
lay strewn about, hopelessly crumpled; mute witnesses of angry
fingers and impassioned mutterings. Usually he could slip into
his evening clothes in less than thirty minutes. Something was
wrong. But perhaps this occasion was not usual.
First, the hems of his trousers were insurgent; they persisted
in hitching on the tops of his button shoes. Laces were
substituted. Then came a desultory period, during which gold
buttons were exchanged for pearl and pearl for gold, and two-
button shirts for three-button. For Maurice was something of a
dandy. He could not imagine what was the matter with his neck,
all the collars seemed so small. For once his mishaps did not
appeal to his humor. The ascent from his shoes to his collar was
as tortuous as that of the alpine Jungfrau.
Ah, Madam, you may smile as much as you please, but it is a
terrible thing for a man to dress and at the same time think
kindly of his fellow-beings. You set aside three hours for your
toilet, and devote two hours to the little curl which droops
over the tip of your dainty ear; but with a man who has no curl,
who knows nothing of the practice of smiles and side glances,
the studied carelessness of a pose, it is a dismal, serious
business up to the last moment.
With a final glance into the mirror, and convinced that if he
touched himself it would be only to disarrange the perfection
which he had striven so hard to attain, Maurice went down stairs.
He had still an hour to while away before presenting himself at
the archbishop's palace. So he roamed about the verandas,
twirled his cane, and smoked like a captain who expects to see
his men in active engagement the very next moment. This,
together with the bad hour in his room, was an indication that
his nerves were finely strung.
He was nervous, not because he was to see strange faces, not
because his interest in the kingdom's affairs was both comic and
tragic, nor because he was to present himself at the
archbishop's in a peculiar capacity, that of a prisoner on
parole. No, it was due to none of these. His pulse did not stir
at the prospect of meeting the true king. Diplomatic functions
were every-day events with him. He had passed several years of
his life in the vicinity of emperors, kings, viceroys, and
presidents, and their greatness had long ago ceased to interest
or even to amuse him. He was conscious only of an agitation
which had already passed through the process of analysis. He
loved, he loved the impossible and the unattainable, and it was
the exhilaration of this thought that agitated him. He never
would be the same again-- he would be better. Neither did he
regret this love.
Even now he could see himself back in his rooms in Vienna,
smoking before the fire, and building castles that tumbled down.
It was worth while, if only to have something to dream about. He
did not regret the love, he regretted its futility. How could he
serve her? What could he do against all these unseen forces
which were crumbling her father's throne? So she remembered what
he had said to her in the archbishop's garden? He looked at his
watch. It was nine.
"Let us be off," he said. He started for the Platz. "How
uncertain life is. It seems that I did not come to Bleiberg
carelessly in the way of amusement, but to work out a part of my
destiny." He arrested his steps at the fountain and listened to
the low, musical plash of the water, each drop of which fell
with the light of a dazzling jewel. The cold stars shone from
above. They were not farther away than she. A princess, a lonely
and forlorn princess, hemmed in by the fabric of royal laws; a
princess yet possessing less liberty than the meanest of her
peasants. Nothing belonged to her, not even her heart, which was
merchandise, a commodity of exchange, turned over to the highest
bidder. "Royalty," he mused, "is a political slave-dealer; the
slaves are those who wear the crowns."
Once inside the palace, he became a man of the world, polished,
nonchalant, handsome, and mildly curious. Immediately after the
usher announced his name, he crossed the chamber and presented
his respects to the prelate, who, he reasoned not unwisely,
expected him. The friendly greeting of the archbishop confirmed
"I am delighted to see you, Monsieur," he said, showing his
remarkably well preserved teeth in the smile that followed his
words. "A service to her Royal Highness is a service to me.
Amuse yourself; you will find some fine paintings in the west
"I trust her Royal Highness is none the worse for the fright,"
Maurice replied. He also remarked (mentally) that he did not see
her Highness anywhere. Several introductions followed, and he
found himself chatting with the British minister.
"Carewe?" the Englishman repeated thoughtfully. "Are you not
Maurice Carewe, of the American Legation in Vienna?"
"May I ask you a few questions?"
"A fellow-countryman of mine has mysteriously disappeared. He
left Vienna for Bleiberg, saying that if nothing was heard of