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The Puppet Crown by Harold MacGrath

Part 5 out of 7

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him within a week's time, to make inquiries about him. This
request was left with the British ambassador, who has just
written me, adding that a personal friend of the gentleman in
question was in Bleiberg, and that this friend was Maurice
Carewe, attache to the American Legation. Are you acquainted
with Lord Fitzgerald, son of my late predecessor?"

"I am indeed. I saw him in Vienna," said Maurice; "but he said
nothing to me about coming here," which was true enough. "Is
there any cause for apprehension?"

"Only his request to be looked up within a certain time. The
truth is, he was to have come here on a peculiar errand," with
lowered voice. "Did you ever hear of what is called
'Fitzgerald's folly?'"

"Yes; few haven't heard of it." Maurice could never understand
why he resisted the impulse to tell the whole affair. A dozen
words to the man at his side, and the catastrophes, even
embryonic, would be averted. "You must tell me who most of these
people are," he said, in order to get around a disagreeable
subject. "I am a total stranger."

"With pleasure. That tall, angular old man, in the long, gray
frock, with decorations, is Marshal Kampf. You must meet him; he
is the wittiest man in Bleiberg. The gentleman with the red
beard is Mollendorf of the police. And beside him--yes, the
little man with glasses and a loose cravat--is Count von
Wallenstein, the minister of finance. That is the chancellor
talking to the archbishop. Ah, Mr. Carewe, these receptions are
fine comedies. The Marshal, the count and Mollendorf represent
what is called the Auersperg faction under the rose. It is a
continual battle of eyes and tongues. One smiles at his enemy,
knows him to be an enemy, yet dares not touch him.

"Confidentially, this play has never had the like. To convict
his enemies of treason has been for ten years the labor of the
chancellor; yet, though he knows them to be in correspondence
with the duchess, he can find nothing on the strength of which
to accuse openly. It is a conspiracy which has no papers. One
can not take out a man's brains and say, `Here is proof!' They
talk, they walk on thin ice; but so fine is their craft that no
incautious word ever falls, nor does any one go through the ice.

"I have watched the play for ten years. I should not speak to
you about it, only it is one of those things known to all here.
Those gentlemen talking to the chancellor's wife are the
ministers from Austria, Prussia, France, and Servia. You will
not find it as lively here as it is in Vienna. We meet merely to
watch each other," with a short laugh. "Good. The Marshal is

They waited.

"Marshal," said the minister, "this is Monsieur Carewe, who
rescued her Highness's dog from the students."

"Ah !" replied the Marshal, grimly. "Do not expect me to thank
you, Monsieur; only day before yesterday the dog snapped at my
legs. I am living out of pure spite, to see that dog die before
I do. Peace to his ashes--the sooner the better."

The minister turned to Maurice and laughed.

"Eh!" said the Marshal.

"I prophesied that you would speak disparagingly of the dog."

"What a reputation!" cried the old soldier. "I dare say that you
have been telling Monsieur Carewe that I am a wit. Monsieur,
never attempt to be witty; they will put you down for a wit, and
laugh at anything you say, even when you put yourself out to
speak the truth. If I possess any wit it is like young grapes--
sour. You are connected in Vienna?"

"With the American Legation."

"Happy is the country," said the Marshal, "which is so far away
that Europe can find no excuse to meddle with it."

"And even then Europe would not dare," Maurice replied, with
impertinence aforethought.

"That is not a diplomatic speech."

"It is true."

"I like your frankness."

"Let that go toward making amends for saving the dog."

"Are all American diplomats so frank?" inquired the Marshal,
with an air of feigned wonder.

"Indeed, no," answered Maurice. "Just at present I am not in a
diplomatic capacity; I need not look askance at truth. And there
is no reason why we should not always be truthful."

"You are wrong. It's truth's infrequency which makes her so
charming and refreshing. However, I thank you for your services
to her Highness; your services to her dog I shall try to forget."
And with this the Marshal moved away, shaking his head as if
he had inadvertently stumbled on an intricate problem.

Not long after, Maurice was left to his own devices. He viewed
the scene, silent and curious. Conversation was carried on in
low tones, and laughter was infrequent and subdued. The women
dressed without ostentation. There were no fair arms and necks.
Indeed, these belong wholly to youth, and youth was not a factor
at the archbishop's receptions. Most of the men were old and
bald, and only the wives of the French and British ministers
were pretty or young. How different from Vienna, where youth and
beauty abound! There were no music, no long tables of
refreshments, no sparkling wines, no smoking-room, good stories
and better fellowship. There was an absence of the flash of
jewels and color which make court life attractive.

There seemed to be hanging in the air some invisible power, the
forecast of a tragedy, the beginning of an unknown end. And yet
the prelate smiled on enemies and friends alike. As Maurice
observed that smile he grew perplexed. It was a smile such as he
had seen on the faces of men who, about to die, felt the grim
satisfaction of having an enemy for company. The king lay on his
death bed, in all probabilities the throne tottered; yet the
archbishop smiled.

The princess did not know that her father was dying; this was a
secret which had not yet been divulged to her. And this was the
only society she knew. Small wonder that she was sad and lonely.
To be young, and to find one's self surrounded by the relics of
youth; what an existence! She had never known the beauty of a
glittering ballroom, felt the music of a waltz mingle with the
quick throbs of the heart, the pleasure of bestowing pleasure.
She had never read the mute yet intelligent admiration in a
young man's eyes. And what young woman does not yearn for the
honest adoration of an honest man? Poor, lonely princess indeed.
For, loving the world as he himself did, Maurice understood what
was slipping past her. Every moment the roots of love were
sinking deeper into his heart and twining firmly about, as a
vine to a trellis.

Is there a mental telegraphy, an indefinable substance which is
affected by the close proximity of a presence, which, while we
do not see, we feel? Perhaps; at any rate, Maurice suddenly
became aware of that peculiar yet now familiar agitation of his
nerves. Instinctively he turned his head. In the doorway which
separated the chamber from the conservatory stood her Royal
Highness. She was dressed entirely in black, which accentuated
the whiteness--the Carrara marble whiteness--of her exquisite
skin. In the dark, shining coils swept back from her brow lay
the subtle snare of a red rose. There was no other color except
on the full lips. She saw Maurice, but she was so far away that
the faint reflection of the rose on her cheeks was gone before
he reached her side.

"I was afraid," she said, lowering her eyes as she uttered the
fib, "that you would not come after all."

"It would have been impossible for me to stay away," he replied,
his eyes ardent. The princess looked away. "And may I ask after
the health of the dog?"

"Thanks to you, Monsieur; he is getting along finely. Poor dog;
he will always limp. What is it that makes men inflict injuries
on dumb creatures?"

"It is the beast that is envious of the brute."

"And your hand?" with a glance sympathetic and inquiring.

"My hand?"

"Yes; did you not injure it?"

"O!" He laughed and held out two gloved hands for her inspection.
"That was only a scratch. In fact, I do not remember which hand
it was."

"You are very modest. I should have made much of it."

He could not translate this; so he said: "There was nothing
injured but my hat. I seem unfortunate in that direction."

She smiled, recalling the incident in the archbishop's garden.

"I shall keep the hat, however," he said, "as a souvenir."

"Souvenirs, Monsieur," she replied carelessly, "and old age are
synonymous. You and I ought not to have any souvenirs. Have you
seen the picture gallery? No? Then I shall have the pleasure of
showing it to you. Monseigneur is very proud of his gallery. He
has a Leonardo, a Botticelli, a Murillo, and a Rembrandt. And
they really show better in artificial light, which softens the
effect of time."

Half an hour was passed in the gallery. It was very pleasant to
listen to her voice as she described this and that painting, and
the archbishop's adventures in securing them. It did not seem
possible to him that she was a princess, perhaps destined to
become a queen, so free was she from the attributes of royalty,
so natural and ingenuous. He caught each movement of her
delicate head, each gesture of her hand, the countless
inflections of her voice, the lights which burned or died away
in the dark wine of her eyes.

Poor devil! he mused, himself in mind; poor fool! He forgot the
world, he forgot that he was a prisoner on parole, he forgot the
strife between the kingdom and the duchy, he forgot everything
but the wild impossible love which filled his senses. He forgot
even Prince Frederick of Carnavia.

In truth, the world was "a sorry scheme of things." It was
grotesque with inequalities. He had no right to love her; it was
wrong to give in to the impulses of the heart, the natural,
human impulses. A man can beat down the stone walls of a fort,
scale the impregnable heights of a citadel, master the earth and
the seas, but he can not surmount the invisible barriers which
he himself erected in the past ages--the quality of birth. Ah!
if only she had been a peasant, unlettered and unknown, and free
to be won! The tasks of Hercules were then but play to him!

Next she led him through the aisles of potted plants in the
conservatory. She was very learned. She explained the origin of
each flower, its native soil, the time and manner of its
transportation. Perhaps she was surprised at his lack of
botanical knowledge, he asked so many questions. But it was not
the flowers, it was her voice, which urged him to these

They were on the point of re-entering the reception chamber,
when the jingle of a spur on the mosaic floor caused them to
turn. Maurice could not control the start; he had forgotten all
about Beauvais. The soldier wore the regulation full dress of
the cuirassiers, white trousers, tucked into patent leather half-
boots, a gray jacket with gold lace and decorations, red saber
straps and a gray pelisse hanging from the left shoulder. A
splendid soldier, Maurice grudgingly admitted. What would the
Colonel say? The situation was humorous rather than otherwise,
and Maurice smiled.

"I was looking for your Highness," said Beauvais, as he came up,
"to pay my respects. I am leaving." His glance at Maurice was
one of polite curiosity.

"Colonel Beauvais," said the princess, coldly, "Monsieur Carewe,
of the American Legation in Vienna."

She was not looking at the Colonel, but Maurice was, and the
Colonel's total lack of surprise astonished him. The gaze of the
two men plunged into each other's eyes like flashes of lightning,
but that was all.

"I am charmed," said the Colonel, a half-ironical smile under
his mustache. "Your name is not unfamiliar to me."

"No?" said Maurice, with studied politeness.

"No. It is connected with an exploit. Was it not you who faced
the students this afternoon and rescued her Highness's dog?"

"Ah!" said Maurice, in a tone which implied that exploits were
every day events with him; "it was but a simple thing to do. The
students were like so many sheep."

The princess elevated her brows; she felt an undercurrent of
something which she did not understand. Indeed, she did not like
the manner in which the two men eyed each other. Her glance
passed from the stalwart soldier to the slim, athletic form of
the civilian.

Conversation drifted aimlessly. Maurice had the malice to cast
the brunt of it on the Colonel's shoulders. The princess, like a
rose coming in contact with a chill air, drew within herself.
She was cold, brief, and serenely indifferent. It was evident to
Maurice that she had resumed her royal mantle, and that she had
shown him unusual consideration.

Presently she raised her hand to her head, as sometimes one will
do unconsciously, and the rose slipped from her hair and dropped
to the floor. Both men stooped. Maurice was quickest. With a bow
he offered to return it.

"You may keep it, Monsieur;" and she laughed.

They joined her. Maurice knew why the Colonel laughed, and the
Colonel knew why Maurice laughed; but neither could account for
the laughter of the princess. That was her secret.

All things come to an end, even diplomatic receptions. Soon the
guests began to leave.

Said the princess to Maurice: "Your invitation is a standing one,
Monsieur. To our friends there are no formalities. Good night;
ah, yes, the English fashion," extending her hand, which Maurice
barely touched. "Good night, Monsieur," to Beauvais, with one of
those nods which wither as effectually as frost.

The Colonel bent gracefully.

"Decidedly the Colonel is not in high favor tonight," thought
Maurice; "a fact which is eminently satisfactory to me. Ah; he
looks as if he had something to say to me. Let us wait."

"Monsieur, have you any other engagement this evening?" asked
Beauvais, swinging his pelisse over both shoulders. "If not, my
rooms are quite handy. I have capital cigars and cognacs. Will
you do me the honor? I should like to have you regale me with
some Vienna gossip; it is so long since I was there."

"Thanks," said Maurice. "I shall be happy to smoke your cigars
and drink your cognacs." He was in the mood for any adventure,
comic or serious. He had an idea what the Colonel wanted to say
to him, and he was not unwilling to listen. Besides, he had no
fear; he now wore an amulet close to his heart.

"Come, then," said Beauvais, gaily; and the two made off. "It is
a wonderful game of chess, this world of ours."

"Yes," said Maurice, "we do keep moving."

"And every now and then one or the other of us steps out into
the dark."

"So we do." Maurice glanced from the corner of his eye and
calculated his chances in a physical contest with the Colonel.
The soldier was taller and broader, but it was possible for him
to make good this deficiency with quickness. But, above all,
where and under what circumstances had he met this man before?

"Here we are!" cried the Colonel, presently.

He led Maurice into one of the handsome dwellings which faced
the palace confines from the east. They passed up the stairs
into a large room, Oriental in its appointments, and evidently
the living room. The walls were hung with the paraphernalia of a
soldier, together with portraits of opera singers, horses and
celebrities of all classes. On the mantel Maurice saw, among
other things, the glint of a revolver barrel. He thought nothing
of it then. It occurred to him as singular, however, that the
room was free from central obstruction. Had the Colonel expected
to meet him at the archbishop's and anticipated his acceptance
of a possible invitation?

Two chairs stood on either side of the grate. Between them was
an octagon on which were cigars, glasses and two cognac bottles.
The Colonel's valet came in and lit the tapers in the chandelier
and woke up the fire. . . . Maurice was convinced that the
Colonel had arranged the room thus for his especial benefit, and
he regretted his eagerness for adventure.

"Francois," said Beauvais, throwing his shako and pelisse on the
lounge and motioning to Maurice to do likewise, "let no one
disturb us."

The valet bowed and noiselessly retired. The two men sat down
without speaking. Beauvais passed the cigars. Maurice selected
one, lit it, and blew rings at the Chinese mandarin which leered
down at him from the mantel.

Several minutes marched into the past.

"Maurice Carewe," said the Colonel, as one who mused.

"It is very droll," said Maurice.

"I can not say that it strikes me as droll, though I am not
deficient in the sense of humor."

"'Twould be a pity if you were; you would miss so much. Through
humor philosophy reaches its culmination; humor is the
foundation upon which the palace of reason erects itself. The
two are inseparable."

"How came you to be mixed up in this affair, which is no concern
of yours?"

"That question is respectfully referred to Madame the duchess. I
was thrown into it, head foremost, bound hand and foot. It was a
clever stroke, though eventually it will embarrass her."

"You may give me the certificates," said Beauvais.

Maurice contemplated him serenely. "Impossible," with a fillip
at the end of his cigar.

"You refuse?" coldly.

"I do not refuse. Simply, I haven't got them."

"What!" The Colonel half sprang from his chair.

His astonishment was genuine; Maurice saw that it was, and he
reflected. Madame nor Fitzgerald had been dishonest with him.

"No. Some one has forestalled me."

"Are you lying to me?" menacingly.

"And if I were?" coolly.

Beauvais measured his antagonist, his eyes hard and contemptuous.

"I repeat," said Maurice, "the situation is exceedingly droll. I
am not afraid of you, not a bit. I am not a man to be
intimidated. You might have inferred as much by my willingness
to accompany you here. I am alone with you."

"It is true that you are alone with me," in a voice, which,
though it did not alarm Maurice, caused him to rest less
comfortably in his chair. "In the first place, you know too much."

"The knowledge was not of my own seeking. You will agree with me
in that." He took a swallow of the cognac. "However, since I am
in the affair--"


"I'll see it to its end."

"Perhaps. We shall not cross purposes. When men plot as I do,
they stop at nothing, not even at that infinitesimal minutiae
called the spark of life. It becomes a matter of self-
preservation. I am in too deep water; I must keep on. I can not
now turn back; the first shore is too far away."

"Even villainy has its inconveniences," Maurice observed.

"What do you call villainy?"

"An act in which a man accepts pay from one to ruin him for
another. That is villainy, without a single saving grace, for
you are a native neither of the kingdom nor the duchy."

"That is plain language. You do not take into consideration the
villain's motives. There may be certain ends necessary as his
life's blood, which may be gained only by villainy, which, after
all, is a hard name for political conspiracy."

"Oh, I do not suppose you are worse than the majority. But it
appeals to me as rather a small, unmanly game when your victims
are a man who is dying and a girl who knows nothing of the world
nor its treachery."

An almost imperceptible smile passed over Beauvais's countenance.
"So her Highness has captured your sympathies?" with a shade of

"I admit that; she would capture the sympathies of any man who
has a good pair of eyes in his head. But you do not seem to be
in favor just at present," banter for banter.

The Colonel studied the end of his cigar. "What is to be your
stand in this affair?"

"Neutral as possible, for the simple reason that I have passed
my word to Madame; compulsorily, it is true; I shall abide by it.
That is not to say that my sympathies are not wholly with the
Osians. Madame is a brilliant woman, resourceful, initiative;
she has as many sides as a cut diamond; moreover, her cause is
just. But I do not like the way she has gone about the recovery
of her throne. She has broken, or will break, a fine honest
heart; she tried to break another, but, not being above the
pantry maid, the subject of her attention failed to appreciate
the consideration."

Beauvais laughed at this. "You are very good company. Let me
advise you to remain neutral. I wish you no harm. But if you
change your mind and stand in my path--"

"Well, and if I stood in your path?"

"Pouf! you would vanish. O, I should not stoop to murder; that
is a vulgar word and practice. I should place a sword in your
hand and give you the preference of a gentleman's death. I see
nothing to prevent me from carrying out that this very night,"
with a nod toward the rapiers which hung from the opposite wall.

"You might be surprised at the result," said Maurice, stretching
his legs. "But at present I have no desire to quarrel with you,
or to put your skill to a test. Once Madame gives me back my
word, why, I do not say." He dipped his hand toward the ash-pan.
"Human nature is full of freaks. A man will commit all sorts of
crimes, yet stand by his word. Not that I have committed any
crimes against the ten commandments."

And so they fenced.

"You picked up a rose to-night," said the Colonel.

"So I did." Maurice blew a puff of smoke into the chimneyplace
and watched it sail upward and vanish. "Moreover, I propose to
keep it. Have you any objections?"

"Only this: her Highness intended the rose for me."

"No, no, my friend," easily. "She would not have laughed had you
picked it up."

"That is to say I lie?"

"It is," laconically.

There was no eluding a statement so bald as this. Beauvais sat
upright. "To call me a liar is a privilege which I extend to no

"I did not call you a liar," undisturbed. "You wrote it down
yourself, and I simply agreed to it. A duel? Well, I shall not
fight you. Dueling is obsolete, and it never demonstrated the
right or wrong of a cause. Since my part in this affair is one of
neutrality, and since to gain that knowledge was the object of
your invitation, I will take my leave of you."

He rose and looked at the porcelain clock. As he did so his gaze
rested on a small photograph standing at the side of it. He
scanned it eagerly. It was a face of dark Castilian beauty. He
turned and looked at Beauvais long and earnestly. There was an
answering gaze, an immobility of countenance. Maurice experienced
a slight shock. The haze over his memory was dispersed. The whole
scene, in which this man loomed in the foreground, came back

"Your stare, Monsieur, is annoying."

"I shouldn't wonder," replied Maurice, leaning against the

"Do me the honor to explain it."

Maurice, never dreaming of the trap, fell head foremost into it.
"I have traveled a good deal," he began. "I have been--even to
South America."

"Ah!" This ejaculation expressed nothing. In fact, Beavais was
smiling. There was a sinister something behind that smile, but
Maurice was unobservant.

He went on. "Yes, to South America. I was there in a diplomatic
capacity, during one of the many revolutions. This country was
the paradise of adventurers, the riff-raff of continental social
outcasts. I distinctly remember the leader of this revolution. Up
to the very last day, Captain Urquijo was the confidential friend
of the president whom he was about to ruin. Through the
president's beautiful daughter Urquijo picked up his threads and
laid his powder train. The woman loved him as women sometimes
love rascals. The president was to be assassinated and his rival
installed. Captain Urquijo was to be made General of the armies.

"One fine day the troops lined both sides of the plaza, the
square also about which lay the government buildings. It was the
event of some celebration; I believe the throwning off of the
yoke of Spain. The city flocked into the plaza. Strangely enough,
those who were disaffected--the soldiers under Urquijo--faced the
loyal troops. By a preconceived plan, the artillery was under the
command of Urquijo. Suddenly this Captain's murderous and
traitorous guns swept the plaza, mangling women and children.
There was a flaw, however, in the stroke. Urquijo fled, a reward
posted for his head--mind you, his head; they did not want him

"The daughter expiates her foolish love in a convent. Her
disgraces proved too much for her father, who blew out his
brains. The successor secured extradition papers in all the
leading capitals of the world. The story was the sensation of the
day; the newspapers made much of it. All governments offered to
assist the republic in hounding down this rascal. To whatever
country he belonged, that country promised to disown him." _ .

Maurice took the photograph. and cast it into Beauvais's lap. "Do
you recognize that face? Is it not a mute accusation to your
warped conscience?" The voice, changing from the monotone of
narrative, grew strong and contemptuous. "I know you. I
recognizcd you the moment I laid eyes on you, only I could not
place you. Perhaps it was because it did not seem possible that
you would dare show your face to civilized people. That
photograph has done its work. By the Lord, but you're a fine
rascal! Not a bit changed. Have you forgotten your Spanish? As
God hears me, I shall hold you up."

"You are a very young man," said Beauvais, rising. He was still
smiling. "Do you know why I asked you here? For this very reason.
Madame divined you well. She said that you had a dash of what
romanticists call valor, but that you never saw an inch before
your nose. I knew that you would be at the archbishop's; I knew
that you would follow me to this room. Indeed, you might have
suspected as much by the unusual arrangement of the fixtures of
the room. I placed that photograph there, trusting to your rather
acute eyesight.

"My memory seems to be better than yours. I knew you the first
time I saw you in Bleiborg. I was waiting only to see how much
you had remembered. I am not Colonel Beauvais; I am not
Urquijo; I am the last of a noble Austrian house, in exile, but
on the eve of recall. Your knowledge would, of course, be
disastrous to my ambitions. That is why I wanted to find out how
much you know. You know too much, too much by half; and since you
have walked into the lion's den, you shall never leave it alive."
With this he sprang to the wall and tore down the rapiers, one of
which he flung at Maurice's feet.

Maurice felt the hand of paralysis on his nerves. He looked at
the rapier, then at Beauvais, dazed and incapable of movement.
It had been so sudden.

"And when they find you in some alley in the lower town they will
put it down to thieves. You are young and thoughtless," Beauvais
went on banteringly. "A little discretion and you might have gone
with a whole skin. We never forget a woman's face, and I knew
that you would not forget hers. Don't trouble yourself about
leaping through the windows; the fall will kill you less
effectually than I shall."

Maurice pulled himself together. The prospect of death brought
back lucidity of mind. He at once saw the hopelessness of his
position. He cursed his lack of forethought. He became pale and
furious, but his head cleared. His life hung in the balance. He
now translated Beauvais's smile.

"So you wish to add another to the list?" he said.

"To shield one crime, a man must commit many others. O, this will
not be murder. It will be a duel, in which you will have no
chance. Pick up the sword, if only for form's sake." Beauvais
caught the wrist thong of the rapier between his teeth and
rapidly divested himself of his jacket and saber straps. With his
back toward the door, he rolled up his sleeve and discovered a
formidable forearm. He tried the blade and thrust several times
into the air.

"What promise have I," said Maurice, "that you will not run me
through when I stoop for the sword?" This question did not serve.

Beauvais laughed. "I never get angry in moments like these. I am
giving you a sword to ease my conscience. I do not assassinate

"But supposing I should kill you by chance?"

Beauvais laughed again. "That is not possible."

Maurice had faced death before, but with more confidence. The
thought that he had poked his head into a trap stirred him
disagreeably. He saw that Beauvais possessed a superabundance of
confidence, and confidence is half of any battle. He picked up
the sword and held it between his knees, while he threw off his
coat and vest, and unbuttoned his collar and cuffs. What he had
to sell would be sold as dearly as possible. He tested the blade,
took in a deep breath, fell easily into position--and waited.



There comes a moment to every man, who faces an imminent danger,
when the mental vision expands and he sees beyond. By this
transient gift of prescience he knows what the end will be,
whether he is to live or die. As Maurice looked into the
merciless eyes of his enemy, a dim knowledge came to him that
this was to be an event and not a catastrophe, a fragment of a
picture yet to be fully drawn. His confidence and courage
returned. He thanked God, however, that the light above equalized
their positions, and that the shadows were behind them.

The swords came together with a click light but ominous.
Immediately Beauvais stepped back, suddenly threw forward his
body, and delivered three rapid thrusts. Maurice met them firmly,
giving none.

"Ah!" cried Beauvais; "that is good. You know a little. There
will be sport, besides."

Maurice shut his lips the tighter, and worked purely on the
defensive. His fencing master had taught him two things, silence
and watchfulness. While Beauvais made use of his forearm, Maurice
as yet depended solely on his wrist. Once they came together,
guard to guard, neither daring to break away until by mutual
agreement, spoken only by the eyes, both leaped backward out of
reach. There was no sound save the quick light stamp of feet and
the angry murmur of steel scraping against steel. Sometimes they
moved circlewise, with free blades, waiting and watching. Up
to now Beauvais's play had been by the book, so to speak, and
he began to see that his opponent was well read.

"Which side is the pretty rose?" seeking to distract Maurice.
"Tell me, and I will pin it to you."

Not a muscle moved in Maurice's face.

"It is too, bad," went on Beauvais, "that her Highness finds a
lover only to lose him. You fool! I read your eyes when you
picked up that rose. Princesses are not for such as you. I will
find her a lover, it will be neither you nor Prince
Frederick--ah! you caught that nicely. But you depend too much on
the wrist. Presently it will tire; and then--pouf!"

Now and then a a flame, darting from the grate, sparkled on the
polished steel, and from the steel it shot into the watchful
eyes. A quarter of an hour passed; still Maurice remained on the
defensive. At first Beauvais misunderstood the reason, and
thought Maurice did not dare run the risk of passing from
defensive to offensive. But by and by the froth of impatience
crept into his veins. He could not penetrate above or below that
defense. The man before him was of marble, with a wrist of iron;
he neither smiled nor spoke, there was no sign of life at all,
except in the agile legs, the wrist, and eyes. The Colonel
decided to change his tactics.

"When I have killed you," he said, "I shall search your pockets,
for I know that you lie when you say that you have not those
certificates. Madame was a fool to send you. No man lives who may
be trusted. And what is your game? Save the Osians? Small good it
will do you. Her Highness will wed Prince Frederick--mayhap--and
all you will get is cold thanks. And in such an event, have you
reckoned on Madame the duchess? War! And who will win? Madame;
for she has not only her own army, but mine. Come, come! Speak,
for when you leave this room your voice will be silent. Make use
of the gift, since it is about to leave you."

The reply was a sudden straightening of the arm. The blade
slipped in between the Colonel's forearm and body, and was out
again before the soldier fully comprehended what had happened.
Maurice permitted a cold smile to soften the rigidity of his
face. Beauvais saw the smile, and read it. The thrust had been
rendered harmless intentionally. An inch nearer, and he had been
a dead man. To accomplish such a delicate piece of sword play
required nothing short of mastery. Beauvais experienced a
disagreeable chill, which was not unmixed with chagrin. The boy
had held his life in his hand, and had spared it. He set his
teeth, and let loose with a fury before which nothing could
stand; and Maurice was forced back step by step until he was
almost up with the wall.

"You damned fool!" the Colonel snarled, "you'll never get that
chance again."

For the next few minutes it took all the splendid defense Maurice
possessed to keep the spark in his body. The Colonel's sword was
no longer a sword, it was a flame; which circled, darted, hissed
and writhed. Twice Maurice felt the bite of it, once in the arm
and again in the thigh. These were not deep, but they told him
that the end was but a short way off. He had no match for this
brilliant assault. Something must be done, and that at once. He
did not desire the Colonel's death, and the possibility of
accomplishing this was now extremely doubtful. But he wanted to
live. Life was just beginning--the rough road had been left
behind. He was choosing between his life and the Colonel's.
Beauvais, after the fashion of the old masters, was playing for
the throat. This upward thrusting, when continuous, is difficult
to meet, and Maurice saw that sooner or later the blade would
reach home. If not sudden death, it meant speechlessness, and
death as a finality. Then the voice of his guardian angel spoke.

"I do not wish your life," he said, breaking the silence, "but at
the same time I wish to live--ah!" Maurice leaped back just in
time. As it was, the point of his enemy's blade scratched his

They broke and circled. The Colonel feinted. Maurice, with his
elbow against his side and his forearm extended, waited. Again
the Colonel lunged for the throat. This time, instead of meeting
it in tierce, Maurice threw his whole force forward in such a
manner as to bring the steel guard of his rapier full on the
Colonel's point. There was a ringing sound of snapping steel, and
the Colonel stood with nothing but a stump in his grasp.

"There you are," said Maurice, a heat-flash passing over him. Had
he swerved a hair's breadth from the line, time would have tacked
finis to the tale. "Now, I am perfectly willing to talk," putting
his point to the Colonel's breast. "It would inconvenience me to
kill you, but do not count too much on that."

"Damn you!" cried the Colonel, giving way, his face yellow with
rage, chagrin and fear. "Kill me, for I swear to God that one or
the other of us must die! Damn you and your meddling nose!"

"Damn away, chevalier d'industrie; damn away. But live, live,
live! That will be the keenest punishment. Live! O, my brave
killer of boys, you thought to play with me as a cat with a
mouse, eh? Eh, Captain Urquijo-Beauvais-and-What-is-your-name?"
He pressed the point here, there, everywhere. "You were too
confident. Pardon me if I appear to brag, but I have taken
lessons of the best fencing masters in Europe, and three times,
while you devoted your talents to monologues, I could have pinned
you like one of those butterflies on the wall there. Have you
ever heard of the sword of Damocles? Well, well; it hangs over
many a head to-day. I will be yours. I give you forty-eight hours
to arrange your personal affairs. If after that time you are
still in this part of the country, I shall inform the proper
authorities in Vienna. The republic has representation there. Of
a noble Austrian house, on the eve of recall? I think not."

Beauvais made a desperate attempt to clutch the blade in his

"No, no!" laughed Maurice, making rapid prods which caused
Beauvais to wince. "Now, back; farther, farther. I do not like
the idea of having my back to the door."

Beauvais suddenly wheeled and dashed for the mantel. But as he
endeavored to lay hand on the revolver Maurice brought down
the blade on the Colonel's knuckles, leaving a livid welt.
Maurice took possession of the weapon, while a grimace of
agony shot over the Colonel's face. Seeing that the chambers
were loaded, Maurice threw down the sword.

"Well, well!" he said, cocking the weapon. "And I saw it when I
entered the room. It would have saved a good deal of trouble."
Beauvais grew white. "O," Maurice continued, "I am not going to
shoot you. I wish merely to call your valet." He aimed at the
grate and pressed the trigger, and the report, vibrating within
the four walls, was deafening.

A moment passed, and the valet, with bulging eyes and
blanched face, peered in. Seeing how matters stood, he made as
though to retreat.

Maurice leveled the smoking revolver. "Come in, Francois; your
master will have need of you."

Francois complied, vertigo in his limbs. "My God!" he cried,
wringing his hands.

"Your master tried to murder me," said Maurice. Francois had
heard voices like this before, and it conveyed to him that a fine
quality of anger lay close to the surface. "Take down yonder
window curtain cord." Francois did so. "Now bind your master's
hands with it."

"Francois," cried the Colonel, "if you so much as lay a finger on
me, I'll kill you."

"Francois, I will kill you if you don't," said Maurice.

"My God!" wailed the valet at loss which to obey when to obey
either meant death. His teeth chattered.

"You may have all the time you want, Francois, to wring your
hands when I am gone. Come; to work. Colonel, submit. I'm in a
hurry and have no time to spare. While I do not desire to kill
you, self-preservation will force me to put a bullet into your
hide, which will make you an inmate of the city hospital. Bind
his hands behind his back, and no more nonsense."

"Monsieur," appealingly to Beauvais, "my God, I am forced. He
will kill me!"

"So will I," grimly; "by God, I will!" Beauvais had a plan. If he
could keep Maurice long enough, help might arrive. And he had an
excellent story to tell. Still Francois doddered. With his eye on
the Colonel and the revolver sighted, Maurice picked up the
sword. He gave Francois a vigorous prod. Francois needed no
further inducement. He started forward with alacrity. In the wink
of an eye he threw the cord around Beauvais's arms and pinned
them to his sides. Beauvais swore, but the valet was strong in
his fright. He struggled and wound and knotted and tied,
murmuring his pitiful "Mon Dieu!" the while, till the Colonel was
the central figure of a Gordian knot.

"That will do," said Maurice. "Now, Francois, good and faithful
servant, take your master over to the lounge, and sit down beside
him until I get into my clothes. Yes; that's it." He shoved his
collar and tie into a pocket, slipped on his vest and coat, put
on his hat and slung his topcoat over his arm. During these
maneuvers the revolver remained conspicuously in sight. "Now,
Francois, lead the way to the street door. By the time you return
to your illustrious master, who is the prince or duke of
something or other, pursuit will be out of the question. Now, as
for you," turning to Beauvais, "the forty-eight hours hold good.
During that time I shall go armed. Forty-eight hours from now I
shall inform the authorities at the nearest consulate. If they
catch you, that's your affair. Off we go, Francois."

"By God!--" began Beauvais, struggling to his feet.

"Come so far as this door," warned Maurice, "and, bound or not,
I'll knock you down. Hang you! Do you think my temper will
improve in your immediate vicinity? Do you think for a moment
that I do not lust for your blood as heartily as you lust for
mine? Go to the devil your own way; you'll go fast enough!" He
caught Francois by the shoulders and pushed him into the hall,
followed, and closed the door. Francois had been graduated from
the stables, therefore his courage never rose to sublime heights.
All the way down the stairs he lamented; and each time he turned
his head and saw the glitter of the revolver barrel he choked
with terror.

"If you do not kill me, Monsieur, he will; he will, I know he
will! My God, how did it happen? He will kill me!" and the voice
sank into a muffled sob.

Despite the gravity of the situation, Maurice could not repress
his laughter. "He will not harm you; he threatened you merely to
delay me. Open the door." He stepped out into the refreshing air.
"By the way, tell your master not to go to the trouble of having
me arrested, for the first thing in the morning I shall place a
sealed packet in the hands of the British minister, to be opened
if I do not call for it within twenty-four hours. And say to your
master that I shall keep the rose."

"Mon Dieu! A woman! I might have known!" ejaculated Francois, as
the door banged in his face.

Maurice, on reaching the pavement, took to his legs, for he saw
three men rapidly approaching. Perhaps they had heard the pistol
shot. He concluded not to wait to learn. He continued his rush
till he gained his room. It was two o'clock. He had been in the
Colonel's room nearly three hours. It seemed only so many
minutes. He hunted for his brandy, found it and swallowed several
mouthfuls. Then he dropped into a chair from sheer exhaustion.
Reaction laid hold of him. His hands shook, his legs trembled,
and perspiration rolled down his cheek.

"By George!" This exclamation stood alone, but it was an
Odyssey. He remained stupefied, staring at his shoes, over
which his stockings had fallen. His shirt buttons were gone, and
the bosom was guiltless of its former immaculateness. After a
time he became conscious of a burning pain in the elbow of his
right arm. He glanced down at his hand, to find it covered with
drying blood. He jumped up and cast about his clothes. One leg
of his trousers was soaked, and the dull ache in his thigh told
the cause. He salved the wounds and bound them in strips of
handkerchiefs, which he held in place by using some of the
cast-off cravats.

"That was about as close to death as a man can get and pull out.
I feel as if I had swallowed that cursed blade of his. I am an
ass, sure enough. I've always a bad cold when there's a rat
about; can't smell him. And the rascal remembered me! Will he
stay in spite of my threat? I'll hang on here till to-morrow. If
he stays--I won't. He has the devil's own of a sword. Hang it, my
nerves are all gone to smash."

Soon some gentler thought took hold, and he smiled tenderly. He
brought forth the rose, turned it this way and that, studied it,
stroked it, held it to his lips as a lover holds the hand of the
woman he loves. Her rose; somehow his heart told him that she had
laughed because Beauvais had stooped in vain.

"Ah, Maurice," he said, "you are growing over fond. But why not?
Who will know? To have loved is something."

He crept into bed; but sleep refused him its offices, and he
tossed about in troubled dreams. He fought all kinds of duels
with all sorts of weapons. He was killed a half dozen times, but
the archbishop always gave him something which rekindled the
vital spark. A thousand Beauvaises raged at him. A thousand
princesses were ever in the background, waiting to be saved. He
swore to kill these Beauvaises, and after many fruitless
endeavors, he succeeded in smothering them in their gray
pelisses. Then he woke, as dreamers always wake when they pass
some great dream-crisis, and found himself in a deadly struggle
with a pillow and a bed-post. He laughed and sprang out of bed.

"It's no use, I can't sleep. I am an old woman."

So he lit his pipe and sat dreaming with his eyes open, smoking
and smoking, until the sickly pallor of dawn appeared in the sky,
and he knew that day had come.



Marshal Kampf, wrapt in his military cloak, with the peak of his
cap drawn over his eyes, sat on one of the rustic benches in the
archbishop's gardens and reflected. The archbishop had announced
an informal levee, the first since the king's illness. He had
impressed the Marshal with the fact that his presence was both
urgent and necessary. Disturbed as he was by the unusual command,
the Marshal had arrived an hour too early. Since the prelate
would not rise until nine, the Marshal told the valet that he
would wait in the gardens.

An informal levee, he mused. What was the meaning of it? Had
that master of craft and silence found a breach in the enemy's
fortifications? He rubbed the chill from his nose, crossed and
re-crossed his legs and teetered till the spurs on his boots set
up a tuneful jingle.

So far as he himself was concerned, he was not worried. The
prelate knew his views and knew that he would stand or fall with
them. He had never looked for benefits, as did those around him.
He had offered what he had without hope of reward, because he
had considered it his duty. And, after all, what had the Osian
done that he should be driven to this ignominious end? His
motives never could be questioned; each act had been in some way
for the country's good. Every king is a usurper to those who
oppose him.

Would the kingdom be bettered in having a queen against whom the
confederation itself was opposed? Would it not be adding a
twofold burden to the one? The kingdom was at peace with those
countries from which it had most to fear. Was it wise to
antagonize them? Small independent states were independent only
by courtesy. Again, why had Austria contrived to place an alien
on the throne, in face of popular sentiment? Would Austria's
interests have been less safe in the advent of rightful
succession? Up to now, what had Austria gained by ignoring the
true house? Outwardly nothing, but below the surface? Who could

For eleven years he had tried to discover the secret purpose of
Austria, but, like others, he had failed; and the Austrian
minister was less decipherable than the "Chinese puzzle." He was
positive that none of the arch-conspirators knew; they were
blinded by self-interest. And the archbishop? The Marshal rubbed
his nose again, not, however, because it was cold. Did any one
know what was going on behind the smiling mask which the
reticent prelate showed to the world? The Marshal poked his chin
above his collar, and the wrinkles fell away from his gray eyes.

The sky was clear and brilliant, and a tonic from the forests
sweetened the rushing air. The lake was ruffled out of its usual
calm, and rolled and galloped along the distant shores and
flashed on the golden sands. Above the patches of red and brown
and yellow the hills and mountains stood out in bold, decided

Water fowl swept along the marshes. The doves in twos and threes
fluttered down to the path, strutted about in their peculiarly
awkward fashion, and doubtfully eyed the silent gray figure on
the bench, as if to question his right to be there this time of
the morning, their trysting hour. Presently the whole flock came
down, and began cooing and waltzing at the Marshal's feet. He
soon discovered the cause.

Her Royal Highness was coming through the opening in the
hedgerow which separated the two confines. She carried a basket
on her arm, and the bulldog followed at her heels, holding his
injured leg in the air, and limping on the remaining three. At
the sight of her the doves rose and circled above her head. She
smiled and threw into the air handful after handful of cake and
bread crumbs. In their eagerness the doves alighted on her
shoulders, on the rim of the basket, and even on the broad back
of the dog, who was too sober to give attention to this seeming
indignity. He kept his eye on his mistress's skirts, moved when
she moved, and stopped when she stopped. A gray-white cloud
enveloped them.

The Marshal, with a curious sensation in his heart, observed
this exquisite, living picture. He was childless; and though he
was by nature undemonstrative, he was very fond of this youth.
Her cheeks were scarlet, her rosy lips were parted in excitement,
and her eyes glistened with pleasure. With all her twenty years,
she was but ten in fancy; a woman, yet a child, unlettered in
worldly wit, wise in her love of nature. Not until she had
thrown away the last of the crumbs did she notice the Marshal.
He rose and bowed.

"Good morning, your Highness. I am very much interested in your
court. And do you hold it every morning?"

"Even when it rains," she said, smiling. "I am so glad to see
you; I wanted to talk to you last night, but I could not find
the opportunity. Let me share the bench with you."

And youth and age sat down together. The bulldog planted himself
in the middle of the path and blinked at his sworn enemy. The
Marshal had no love for him, and he was well aware of it; at
present, an armistice.

The princess gazed at the rollicking waters, at her doves,
thence into the inquiring gray eyes of the old soldier.

"Do you remember," she said, "how I used to climb on your knees,
ever so long ago, and listen to your fairy stories?"

"Eh! And is it possible that your Highness remembers?" wrinkles
of delight gathering in his cheeks. "But why `ever so long ago'?
It was but yesterday. And your Highness remembers!"

"I am like my father; I never forget!" She looked toward the
waters again. "I can recall only one story. It was about a
princess who lost all her friends through the offices of a
wicked fairy. I remember it because it was the only story you
told me that had a sad ending. It was one of Andersen's. Her
father and mother died, and the moment she was left alone her
enemies set to work and toppled over her throne. She was cast
out into the world, having no friend but a dog; but the dog
always found something to eat, and protected her from giants and
robbers and wolves.

"Many a time I thought of her, and cried because she was so
unhappy. Well, she traveled from place to place, footsore and
weary, but in her own country no one dared aid her, for fear of
displeasing the wicked fairy, who at this time was all powerful.
So she entered a strange land, where some peasants took her in,
clothed and fed her, and gave her a staff and a flock of geese
to tend. And day after day she guarded the flock, telling her
sorrows to the dog, how she missed the dear ones and the home of
her childhood.

"One day the reigning prince of this strange land passed by
while hunting, and he saw the princess tending her geese. He
made inquiries, and when he found that the beautiful goose-girl
was a princess, he offered to marry her. She consented to become
his wife, because she was too delicate to drudge. So she and her
dog went to live at the palace. Once she was married the dog
behaved strangely, whining softly, and refusing to be consoled.
The prince was very kind to them both.

"Alas! It seems that when she left her own country the good
fairy had lost all track of her, to find her when it was too
late. The dog was a prince under a wicked spell, and when the
spell fell away the princess knew that she loved him, and not
her husband. She pined away and died. How many times I have
thought of her, poor, lonely, fairy-tale princess!"

The old soldier blinked at the doves, and there was a furrow
between his eyes. Yes; how well he remembered telling her that
story. But, as she repeated it, it was clothed with a strange
significance. Somehow, he found himself voiceless; he knew not
how to reply.

"Monsieur," she said suddenly, "tell me, what has my poor father
done that these people should hate him and desire his ruin?"

"He has been kind to them, my child," his gaze still riveted on
the doves; "that is all. He has given them beautiful parks, he
has made them a beautiful city. A king who thinks of his
people's welfare is never understood. And ignorant and
ungrateful people always hate those to whom they are under
obligations. It is the way of the world."

"And--and you, Marshal?" timidly.

"And I?"

"Yes. They whisper that--that--O, Marshal, is it you who will
forsake us in our need? I have heard many things of late which
were not intended for my ears. My father and I, we are so alone.
I have never known the comradeship of young people; I have never
had that which youth longs for--a confidant of my own age. The
young people I know serve me simply for their own ends, and not
because they love me.

"I have never spoken thus before to-day, save to this dog. He
has been my confidant; but he can not speak except with his kind
old eyes, and he can not understand as I would have him. And
they hate even him because they know that I love him. Poor dog!

"What my father has done has always been wrong in his own eyes,
but he sinned for my sake, and God will forgive him. He gave up
the home he loved for my sake. O, that I had known and
understood! I was only six. We are so alone; we have no place to
go, no friends save two, and they are helpless. And now I am to
make a sacrifice for him to repay him for all he has done for me.
I have promised my hand to one I do not love; even he forsakes
me. But love is not the portion of princesses. Love to them is a
fairy story. To secure my father's throne I have sacrificed my
girlhood dreams. Ah! and they were so sweet and dear."

She put a hand to her throat as if something had tightened there.
"Marshal, I beg of you to tell me the truth, the truth! Is my
father dying? Is he? He--they will not tell me the truth. And I .
. . never to hear his voice again! The truth, for pity's sake!"
She caught at his hands and strove to read his eyes. "For pity's

He drew his breath deeply. He dared not look into her eyes for
fear she might see the tears in his; so he bent hastily and
pressed her hands to his lips. But in his heart he knew that his
promise to the dead was gone with the winds, and that he would
shed the last drop of blood in his withered veins for the sake
of this sad, lonely child.

"Your father, my child, will never stand up straight again," he
said. "As for the rest, that is in the hands of God. But I swear
to you that this dried-up old heart beats only for you. I will
stand or fall with you, in good times or bad." And he rubbed his
nose more fiercely than ever. "Had I a daughter-- But there! I
have none."

"My heart is breaking," she said, with a little sob. She sank
back, her head drooped to the arm of the bench, and she made no
effort to stem the flood of tears. "I have no mother, and now my
father is to leave me. And I love him so, I love him so! He has
sacrificed all his happiness to secure mine--in vain. I laugh
and smile because he asks me to, and all the while my heart is
breaking, breaking."

At this juncture the doves rose hurriedly. The Marshal
discovered the archbishop's valet making toward him.

"Monsieur the Marshal, Monseigneur breakfasts and requests you
to join him."

"Immediately;" and the Marshal rose. He placed his hand on the
dark head. "Keep up your heart, my child," he said, "and we
shall see if I have grown too old for service." He squared his
shoulders and followed the valet, who viewed the scene with a
valet's usual nonchalance. When the Marshal reached the steps to
the side entrance, he looked back. The dog had taken his place,
and the girl had buried her face in his neck. A moment later the
old soldier was ushered into the archbishop's presence, but
neither with fear nor uneasiness in his heart.

"Ah ! Good morning, Marshal," said the prelate. "Be seated. Did
you not find it chilly in the gardens?"

"Not the least. It is a fine day. I have just left her Royal

The prelate arched his eyebrows, and an interrogation shot out
from under them.

"Yes," answered the observant soldier. "My heart has ever been
hers; this time it is my hand and brain."

The prelate's egg spoon remained poised in mid-air; then it
dropped with a clatter into the cup! But a moment gone he had
held a sword in his hand; he was disarmed.

"I have promised to stand and fall with her."

"Stand and fall? Why not 'or'?" with a long, steadfast gaze.

"Did I say 'and'? Well, then," stolidly, "perhaps that is the
word I meant to use. If I do the one I shall certainly do the

The archbishop absently stirred his eggs.

"God is witness," said the Marshal, "I have always been honest."


"And neutral."

"Yes; honest and neutral."

"But a man, a lonely man like myself, can not always master the
impulses of the heart; and I have surrendered to mine."

The listener turned to some documents which lay beside the cup,
and idly fingered them. "I am glad; I am very glad. I have
always secretly admired you; and to tell the truth, I have
feared you most of all--because you are honest."

The Marshal shifted his saber around and drew his knees together.
"I return the compliment," frankly. "I have never feared you; I
have distrusted you."

"And why distrusted?"

"Because Leopold of Osia would never have forsaken his
birthright, nor looked toward a throne, had you not pointed the
way and coveted the archbishopric."

"I wished only to make him great;" but the prelate lowered his eyes.

"And share his greatness," was the shrewd rejoinder. "I am an
old man, and frankness in old age is pardonable. There are
numbers of disinterested men in the world, but unfortunately
they happen to be dead. O, I do not blame you; there is human
nature in most of us. But the days of Richelieus and Mazarins
are past. The Church is simply the church, and is no longer the
power behind the throne. I have served the house of Auersperg
for fifty years, that is to say, since I was sixteen; I had
hoped to die in the service. Perhaps my own reason for
distrusting you has not been disinterested."

"Perhaps not."

"And as I now stand I shall die neither in the service of the
house of Auersperg nor of Osia. It is not the princess; it is
the lonely girl."

"I need not tell you," said the prelate quietly, "that I am in
Bleiberg only for that purpose. And since we are together, I
will tell you this: Madame the duchess will never sit upon this
throne. To-day I am practically regent, with full powers from
his Majesty. I have summoned von Wallenstein and Mollendorf for
a purpose which I shall make known to you." He held up two
documents, and gently waving them: "These contain the dismissal
of both gentlemen, together with my reasons. There were three;
one I shall now destroy because it has suddenly become void." He
tore it up, turned, and flung the pieces into the grate.

The Marshal glanced instinctively at his shoulder straps, and
saw that they had come very near to oblivion.

"There is nothing more, Marshal," went on the prelate. "What I
had to say to you has slipped my mind. Under the change of
circumstances, it might embarrass you to meet von Wallenstein
and Mollendorf. You have spoken frankly, and in justice to you I
will return in kind. Yes, in the old days I was ambitious; but
God has punished me through those I love. I shall leave to you
the selection of a new Colonel of the cuirassiers."

"What! and Beauvais, too?" exclaimed the Marshal.

"Yes. My plans require it. I have formed a new cabinet, which
will meet to-night at eight. I shall expect you to be present."

The two old men rose. Suddenly, a kindly smile broke through the
austereness of the prelate's countenance, and he thrust out his
hand; the old soldier met it.

"Providence always watches over the innocent," said the prelate,
"else we would have been still at war. Good morning."

The Marshal returned home, thoughtful and taciturn. What would
be the end?

Ten minutes after the Marshal's departure, von Wallenstein and
Mollendorf entered the prelate's breakfast room.

"Good morning, Messieurs," said the churchman, the expression on
his face losing its softness, and the glint of triumph stealing
into his keen eyes. "I am acting on behalf of his Majesty this
morning," presenting a document to each. "Observe them carefully."
He turned and left the room. The archbishop had not only eaten
a breakfast, he had devoured a cabinet.

Count von Wallenstein watched the retreating figure of the
prelate till the door closed behind it; then he smiled at
Mollendorf, who had not the courage to return it, and who stared
at the parchment in his hand as if it were possessed of basilisk

"Monseigneur," said the count, as he glanced through the
contents of the document, "has forestalled me. Well, well; I do
not begrudge him his last card. He has played it; let us go."

"Perhaps," faltered Mollendorf, "he has played his first card.
What are you going to do?"

"Remain at home and wait. And I shall not have long to wait. The
end is near."

"Count, I tell you that the archbishop is not a man to play thus
unless something strong were behind him. You do wrong not to
fear him."

Von Wallenstein recalled the warning of the Colonel of the
cuirassiers. "Nevertheless, we are too strong to fear him."

"Monseigneur is in correspondence with Austria," said the
minister of police, quietly.

"You said nothing of this before," was the surprised reply.

"It was only this morning that I learned it."

The count's gaze roamed about the room, and finally rested on
the charred slips of paper in the grate. He shrugged.

"If he corresponds with Austria it is too late," he said. "Come,
let us go." He snapped his fingers in the air, and Mollendorf
followed him from the room.

* * * * * *

The princess still remained on the rustic bench; her head was
bowed, but her tears were dried.

"O, Bull," she whispered, "and you and I shall soon be all alone!"

A few doves fluttered about her; the hills flamed beneath the
chill September sky, the waters sang and laughed, but she saw
not nor heard.



Maurice, who had wisely slept the larger part of the day, and
amused himself at solitary billiards until dinner, came out on
the terrace to smoke his after-dinner cigar. He watched the sun
as, like a ball of rusted brass, it slid down behind the hills,
leaving the glowing embers of a smoldering day on the hilltops.
The vermilion deepened into charred umber, and soon the west was
a blackened grate; another day vanished in ashes. The filmy
golden pallor of twilight now blurred the landscape; the wind
increased with a gayer, madder, keener touch; the lake went
billowing in shadows of gray and black, and one by one the lamps
of the city sprang up, vivid as sparks from an anvil. Now and
again the thin, clear music of the band drifted across from the
park. The fountain glimmered in the Platz, the cafes began to
glitter, carriages rolled hither and thither. The city had taken
on its colorful night.

"Well, here's another day gone," he mused, rubbing his elbow,
which was yet stiff. "I am anxious to know what that sinner is
doing. Has he pulled up stakes or has he stayed to get a whack
at me? I hope he's gone; he's a bad Indian, and if anything,
he'll want my scalp in his belt before he goes. Hang it! It
seems that I have poked my head into every bear trap in the
kingdom. I may not get out of the next one. How clever I was, to
be sure! It all comes from loving the dramatic. I am a diplomat,
but nobody would guess it at first sight. To talk to a man as I
talked to him, and to threaten! He said I was young; I was, but
I grow older every day. And the wise word now is, don't imitate
the bull of the trestle," as he recalled an American cartoon
which at that day was having vogue in the American colony in

"I like adventure, I know, but I'm going to give the Colonel a
wide berth. If he sees me first, off the board I go. Where will
he go--to the duchy? I trust not; we both can not settle in that
territory; it's too small. And yet I am bound to go back; it is
not my promise so much as it is my cursed curiosity. By George!"
rubbing his elbow gently. "And to think, Maurice, that you might
not have witnessed this sunset but for a bit of fencing trickery.
What a turn that picture of Inez gave me! I knew him in a
second--and like the ass I was, I told him so. And to meet him
here, almost a left-handed king; no wonder I did not recognize

"I should like to come in on Fitzgerald to-night. His father
must have had a crazy streak in him somewhere. Four millions to
throw away; humph! And who the deuce has those certificates?" He
lolled against the parapet. "If I had four millions, and if
Prince Frederick had disappeared for good. . . . Why are things
so jumbled up, at sixes and sevens? We are all human beings; why
should some be placed higher than others? A prince is no better
than I am, and may be not half so good.

"Sometimes I like to get up high somewhere and look down on
every one else; every one else looks so small that it's
comforting. The true philosopher has no desire; he sits down and
views the world as if he were not a part of it. Perhaps it is
best so. Yes, I would like four millions and a principality. . . .
Heigho! how bracing the air is, and what a night for a ride!
I've a mind to exercise Madame's horse. A long lone ride on the
opposite side of the lake, on the road to Italy; come, let's try
it. Better that than mope."

He mounted to the veranda, and for the first time he noticed the
suppressed excitement which lit the faces of those around him.
Groups were gathered here and there, talking, gesticulating, and
flourishing the evening papers. He moved toward the nearest

"The archbishop has dismissed the cabinet . . . crisis imminent."

"The Austrian minister has recalled his invitations to the
embassy ball."

"The archbishop will not be able to form another cabinet."

"Count von Wallenstein . . . "

"Mollendorf and Beauvais, too--"

"The king is dying . . . The archbishop has been given full

"The army will revolt unless Beauvais is recalled."

"And the Marshal says here . . ."

Maurice waited to hear no more, but climbed through the window
into the office.

"By George, something has happened since last night. I must have
an evening paper." He found one, and read an elaborate account
of what had taken place during the day. Von Wallenstein had been
relieved of the finance. Mollendorf of the police, Erzberg of
foreign affairs, and Beauvais of his epaulettes. There remained
only the archbishop, the chancellor and the Marshal. The
editorial was virulent in its attack on the archbishop,
blustered and threatened, and predicted that the fall of the
dynasty was but a matter of a few hours. For it asserted that
the prelate could not form another cabinet, and without a
cabinet there could be no government. It was not possible for
the archbishop to shoulder the burden alone; he must reinstate
the ministry or fall.

"And this is the beginning of the end," said Maurice, throwing
aside the paper. "What will happen next? The old prelate is not
a man to play to the gallery. Has he found out the double
dealing of Beauvais? That takes a burden off my shoulders--
unless he goes at once to the duchy. But why wasn't the cabinet
dismissed ages ago? It is now too late. And where is Prince
Frederick to the rescue? There is something going on, and what
it is only the archbishop knows.

That smile of his! How will it end? I'd like to see von Mitter,
who seems to be a good gossip. And that poor, friendless,
paralytic king! I say, but it makes the blood grow warm."

He left the chair and paced the office confines. Only one thing
went echoing through his brain, and that was he could do nothing.
The sooner he settled down in the attitude of a spectator the
better for him. Besides, he was an official in the employ of a
foreign country, and it would be the height of indiscretion to
meddle, even in a private capacity. It would be to jeopardize
his diplomatic career, and that would be ridiculous.

A porter touched him on the shoulder.

"A letter for your Excellency."

It was from the American minister in Vienna.

"My dear Carewe: I have a service to ask of you. The British
minister is worried over the disappearance of a fellow-
countryman, Lord Fitzgerald. He set out for Bleiberg, leaving
instructions to look him up if nothing was heard of him within a
week. Two weeks have gone. Knowing you to be in Bleiberg, I
believed you might take the trouble to look into the affair. The
British ambassador hints at strange things, as if he feared foul
play. I shall have urgent need of you by the first of October;
our charge d'affaires is to return home on account of ill-health,
and your appointment to that office is a matter of a few days."

Maurice whistled. "That is good news; not Haine's illness, but
that I have an excuse to meddle here. I'll telegraph at once.
And I'll take the ride besides." He went to his room and buckled
on his spurs, and thoughtfully slipped his revolver into a
pocket. "I am not going to take any chances, even in the dark."
Once again in the office, he stepped up to the desk and ordered
his horse to be brought around to the cafe entrance.

"Certainly," said the clerk. Then in low tones "There has been a
curious exchange in saddles, Monsieur."


"Yes. The saddle in your stall is, curiously enough, stamped
with the arms of the house of Auersperg. How that military
saddle came into the stables is more than the grooms can solve."

"O," said Maurice, with an assumption of carelessness; "that is
all right. It's the saddle I arrived on. The horse and saddle
belong to Madame the duchess. I have been visiting at the Red
Chateau. I shall return in the morning."

"Ah," said the clerk, with a furtive smile which Maurice lost;
"that accounts for the mystery."

"Here are two letters that must get in to-night's mails,"
Maurice said; "and also this telegram should be sent at once."

"As Monsieur desires. Ah, I came near forgetting. There is a
note for Monsieur, which came this afternoon while Monsieur was

The envelope was unstamped, and the scrawl was unfamiliar to
Maurice. On opening it he was surprised to find a hurriedly
written note from Fitzgerald. In all probability it had been
brought by the midnight courier on his return from the duchy.

"In God's name, Maurice, why do you linger?
To-morrow morning those consols must be here
or they will be useless. Hasten; you know what
it means to me.

Maurice perused it twice, and pulled at his lips. "Madame
becomes impatient. Poor devil. Somebody is likely to become
suddenly rich and somebody correspondingly poor. What will they
say when I return empty-handed? Like as not Madame will accuse
me--and Fitzgerald will believe her! . . . The archbishop! That
accounts for this bold move. And how the deuce did he get hold
of them? I give up." And his shoulders settled in resignation.

He passed down into the cafe, from there to his horse, which a
groom was holding at the curb. He swung into the saddle and
tossed a coin to the man, who touched his cap.

The early moon lifted its silvery bulk above the ragged east,
and the patches of clouds which swarmed over the face of that
white world of silence resembled so many rooks. Far away, at the
farthermost shore of the lake, whenever the moon went free from
the clouds, Maurice could see the slim gray line of the road
which stretched toward Italy.

"It's a fine night," he mused, glancing heavenward. The horse
answered the touch of the spurs, and cantered away, glad enough
to exchange the close air of the stables for this fresh gift of
the night. Maurice guided him around the palaces into the avenue,
which derived its name from the founder of the opera, in which
most of the diplomatic families lived. Past the residence of
Beauvais he went, and, gazing up at the lightless windows, a
cold of short duration seized his spine. It bad been a hair's
breadth betwixt him and death. "Your room, Colonel, is better
than you company; and hereafter I shall endeavor to avoid both.
I shall feel that cursed blade of yours for weeks to come."

Carriages rolled past him. A gay throng in evening dress was
crowding into the opera. The huge placard announced, "Norma--
Mlle. Lenormand--Royal Opera Troupe." How he would have liked to
hear it, with Lenormand in the title role. He laughed as he
recalled the episodes in Vienna which were associated with this
queen of song. He waved his hand as the opera house sank in the
distance. "Au revoir, Celeste, ma charmante; adieu." By and by
he reached the deserted part of the city, and in less than a
quarter of an hour branched off into the broad road bordering
the lake. The horse quickened his gait as he felt the stone of
the streets no longer beneath his feet, which now fell with
muffled rhythm on the sound earth. Maurice shared with him the
delight of the open country, and began to talk to the animal.

"A fine night, eh, old boy? I've ridden many backs, but none
easier than yours. This air is what gives the blood its color.
Too bad; you ought not to belong to Madame. She will never think
as much of you as I should."

The city was falling away behind, and a yellow vapor rose over
it. The lake tumbled in moonshine. Maurice took to dreaming
again--hope and a thousand stars, love and a thousand dreams.

"God knows I love her; but what's the use? We can not all have
what we want; let us make the best of what we have. Philosophy
is a comfort only to old age. Why should youth bother to reason
why? And I--I have not yet outgrown youth. I believed I had, but
I have not. I did not dream she existed, and now she is more to
me than anything else in the world. Why; I wonder why? I look
into a pair of brown eyes, and am seized with madness. I hope.
For what? O, Bucephalus! let us try to wake and leave the dream
behind. The gratitude of a princess and a dog . . . and for this
a rose. Well, it will prove the substance of many a pipe, many a
kindly pipe. You miss a good deal, Bucephalus; smoking is an
evil habit only to those who have not learned to smoke."

The animal replied with a low whinney, and Maurice, believing
that the horse had given an ear to his monologue, laughed. But
he flattered himself. The horse whinneyed because he inhaled the
faint odor of his kind. He drew down on the rein and settled
into a swinging trot, which to Maurice's surprise was faster and
easier than the canter. They covered a mile this way, when
Maurice's roving eye discovered moving shadows, perhaps half a
mile in advance.

"Hello! we're not the only ones jogging along. Eh, what's that?"
Something flashed brightly, like silver reflecting moonlight;
then came a spark of flame, which died immediately, and later
Maurice caught an echo which resembled the bursting of a leaf
against the lips. "Come; that looks like a pistol shot."

Again the flash of silver, broader and clearer this time; and
Maurice could now separate the shadow-shapes. A carriage of some
sort rolled from side to side, and two smaller shadows followed
its wild flight. One--two--three times Maurice saw the sparks and
heard the faint reports. He became excited. Something
extraordinary was taking place on the lonely road. Suddenly the
top of the carriage replied with spiteful flashes of red. Then
the moon came out from behind the clouds, and the picture was
vividly outlined. Two continuous flashes of silver. . . .
Cuirassiers! Maurice loosened the rein, and the horse went
forward as smoothly as a sail. The distance grew visibly less.
The carriage opened fire again, and Maurice heard the sinister
m-m-m of a bullet winging past him.

"The wrong man may get hit, Bucephalus," he said, bending to the
neck of the horse; "which is not unusual. You're pulling them
down, old boy; keep it up. There's trouble ahead, and since the
cuirassiers are for the king, we'll stand by the cuirassiers."

On they flew, nearer and nearer, until the pistol shots were no
longer echoes. Two other horsemen came into view, in advance of
the carriage. Five minutes more of this exciting chase, and the
faces took on lines and grew into features. Up, up crept the
gallant little horse, his hoofs rattling against the road like
snares on a drum. When within a dozen rods, Maurice saw one of
the cuirassiers turn and level a revolver at him. Fortunately
the horse swerved, and the ball went wide.

"Don't shoot!" Maurice yelled; "don't shoot!"

The face he saw was von Mitter's. His heart clogged in his
throat, not at the danger which threatened him, but at the
thought of what that carriage might contain.

A short time passed, during which nothing was heard but the
striking of galloping hoofs and the rumble of the carriage.
Maurice soon drew abreast of von Mitter. There was a gash on the
latter's cheek, and the blood from it dripped on his cuirass.

"Close for you, my friend," he gasped; when he recognized the
new arrival. "Have you--God! my leg that time," with a groan.

For the fire of the carriage had spoken again, and true.

Maurice shut his teeth, drew his revolver, cocked it and applied
the spurs. With a bound he shot past von Mitter, who was cursing
deeply and trying to reload. Maurice did not propose to waste
powder on the driver, but was determined to bring down one of
the carriage horses, which were marvelous brutes for speed.
Scharfenstein kept popping away at the driver, but without
apparent result. Finally Maurice secured the desired range. He
raised the revolver, rested the barrel between the left thumb
and forefinger and pressed the trigger. The nearest carriage
horse lurched to his knees, a bullet in his brain, dragging his
mate with him. The race had come to an end.

At once the two horsemen in front separated; one continued
toward the great forest, while the other took to the hills.
Scharfenstein started in pursuit of the latter. As for the
carriage, it came to an abrupt stand. The driver made a flying
leap toward the lake, but stumbled and fell, and before he could
regain his feet Maurice was off his horse and on his quarry. He
caught the fellow by the throat and pressed him to the earth,
kneeling on his chest.

"Hold him!" cried von Mitter, coming up with a limp, "hold him
till I knock in his head, damn him!"

"No, no!" said Maurice, "you can't get information out of a dead

"It's all up with me," groaned the Lieutenant. "I'll ask for my
discharge. I could hit nothing, my hand trembled. I was afraid
of shooting into the carriage."

Maurice turned his attention to the man beneath him. "Now, you
devil," he cried, "a clean breast of it, or off the board you go.
O!" suddenly peering down. "By the Lord, so it is you--you--you!"
savagely bumping the fellow's head against the earth. "Spy!"

"You are killing me!"

"Small matter. Who is this fellow?" asked Maurice.

"Johann Kopf, a spy, a police rat, and God knows what else,"
answered von Mitter, limping toward the carriage. "Curse the leg!"
He forced the door and peered inside. "Fainted! I thought as
much." He lifted the inanimate bundle which lay huddled in
between the seats and carried it to the side of the road, where
he tenderly laid it. He rubbed the girl's wrists, unmindful of
the blood which fell from his face and left dark stains on her
dress. "Thank God," heartily, "that her Royal Highness was
suffering from a headache. She would have died from fright."

Maurice felt the straining cords in the prisoner's neck grow
limp. The rascal had fainted.

"Not her Highness?" Maurice asked, the weight of dread lifting
from his heart.

"No. Her Royal Highness sent Camille, her maid of honor, veiled
and dressed like herself, to play an innocent jest on her old
nurse. Some one shall account for this; for they mistook Camille
for her Highness. I'm going to wade out into the water," von
Mitter added, staggering to his feet.

"You'll never get off your boot," said Maurice.

"I'll cut it off," was the reply, "I shall faint if I do not
cool off the leg. The ball is somewhere in the calf." And he
waded out into the water until it reached above his knees. Thus
he stood for a moment, then returned to the maid, who, on
opening her eyes, screamed. "It is all over, Camille," said the
Lieutenant, throwing an arm about her.

"Your face is bleeding!" she cried, and sank back with her head
against his broad breast.

As Maurice gazed at the pair he sighed. There were no obstacles

Soon Scharfenstein came loping down the hill alone.

"I killed his horse," he said, in response to queries, "but he
fled into the woods where I could not follow. A bad night for us,
Carl, a bad night," swinging off his horse. "A boy would have
done better work. Whom have we here?"

"Kopf," said Maurice, "and he has a ball somewhere inside,"
holding up a bloody hand.

"Kopf?" Scharfenstein cocked his revolver.

The maid of honor placed her hands over her ears and screamed
again. Max gazed at her, and, with a short, Homeric laugh,
lowered the revolver.

"Any time will do," he said. "Ah, he opens his eyes."

The prisoner's eyes rolled wildly about. That frowning face
above him . . . was it a vision? Who was it? What was he doing

"Who put you up to this?" demanded Maurice.

"You are choking me!"

"Who, I say?"


Scharfenstein and von Mitter looked at each other

"Who is this Beauvais? Speak!"

"I am dying, Herr . . . Your knees--"

Maurice withdrew his knees. "Beauvais; who is he?"

"Prince . . . Walmoden, formerly of the emperor's staff."

Johann's eyes closed again, and his head fell to one side.

"He looks as if he were done for," said Maurice, standing up.
"Let us clear up the rubbish and hitch a horse to the carriage.
The mate's all right."

Von Mitter assisted the maid into the carriage and seated her.

"Go and stay with her," said Maurice, brusquely; "you're half

"You are very handy, Carewe," said von Mitter gratefully, and he
climbed in beside the maid, who, her fright gone, gave way to
womanly instincts. She took her kerchief and wiped the
Lieutenant's cheek, pressing his hand in hers the while.

Maurice and Scharfenstein worked away at the traces, and dragged
the dead horse to the side of the road. Scharfenstein brought
around von Mitter's horse, took oft the furnishings, and backed
him into the pole.

Meanwhile the man lying by the water's edge showed signs of
returning life. He turned his head cautiously. His enemies were
a dozen yards away from him. Slowly he rolled over on his
stomach, thence to his knees. They were paying no attention to
him. . . .

"Ho, there! the prisoner!" cried von Mitter, tumbling out of the
carriage. He tried to stand up, but a numbness seized his legs,
and he sank to a sitting posture.

Maurice and Scharfenstein turned too late. Johann had mounted on
Scharfenstein's horse, and was flying away down the road.
Maurice coolly leveled his revolver and sent two bullets after
him. The second one caused Johann to straighten stiffly, then to
sink; but he hung on to the horse.

"Hurry!" cried Maurice; "I've hit him and we'll find him along
the road somewhere."

They lifted von Mitter into the carriage, wheeled it about, and
Scharfenstein mounted the box. Maurice sprang into his saddle,
and they clattered off toward the city.



The cuirassiers stationed in the guardroom of the royal palace
walked gently on the tiling, when occasion required them to walk,
and when they entered or left the room, they were particularly
careful to avoid the chink of the spur or the clank of the saber.
Although the royal bedchamber was many doors removed, the
Captain had issued a warning against any unnecessary noise. A
loud laugh, or the falling of a saber carelessly rested, drew
upon the unlucky offender the scowling eyes of the commander,
who reclined in front of the medieval fireplace, in which a
solitary log burned, and brooded over past and present. The high
revels in the guardroom were no more, the cuirassiers were no
longer made up of the young nobles of the kingdom; they were now
merely watch dogs.

Twenty years ago the commander had come from Dresden as an
instructor in arms, and after the first year had watched over
the royal household, in the service of the late king and the
king who lay dying. He had come of good family, but others had
come oof better, and had carried of court honors, though his
post in early days had been envied by many. He was above all
else a soldier, the embodiment of patience and integrity, and he
scorned to murmur because fortune had passed over his head. As
he sucked at his pipe, he recalled the days of Albrecht and his
opera singers, the court scandals, and his own constant
employment as messenger in the king's love intrigues.

Albrecht had died a widower and childless, and with him had died
the flower of court life. The courtiers and sycophants had
flocked to the standard of the duke, and had remained there,
primarily because Leopold of Osia promised a sedate and
exemplary life. Sometimes the Captain shook his head, as if
communing with some unpleasant thought. On each side of him sat
a soldier, also smoking and ruminating.

At the mess table a dozen or so whiled away the time at cards.
The wavering lights of the candle and hearth cast warring
shadows on the wall and floor, and the gun and saber racks
twinkled. If the players spoke, it was in tones inaudible to the
Captain's ears.

"Our bread and butter," said the Captain softly, "are likely to
take unto themselves the proverbial wings and fly away."

No one replied. The Captain was a man who frequently spoke his
thoughts aloud, and required no one to reply to his disjointed

"A soldier of fortune," he went on, "pins his faith and zeal to
standards which to-day rise and to-morrow fall. Unfortunately,
he takes it at flood tide, which immediately begins to ebb."

The men on either side of him nodded wisely.

"The king can no longer speak. That is why the archbishop has
dismissed the cabinet. While he could speak, his Majesty refused
to listen to the downfall of his enemies. Why? Look to heaven;
heaven only can answer. How many men of the native troops are
quartered in these buildings? Not one--which is bad. Formerly
they were in the majority. Extraordinary. His Majesty would have
made friends with them, but the archbishop, an estimable man in
his robes, practically ostracized them. Bad, very bad. Had we
been comrades, there might be a different end.

"Faugh! if one of us sticks his head into the city barracks a
breath of ice is our reward. Kronau never attends the receptions.
A little flattery, which costs nothing, and they would have
been willing to die for his Majesty. Now--" He knocked his pipe
on the firedog. "Now, they would not lift a finger. A soldier
will forgive all things but premeditated neglect.

"As for me, when the time comes I shall return to Dresden and
die of old age. Maybe, though, I shan't. When his Majesty dies
there is like to be a clash. The duchess is a clever woman, but
she would make a balky wife; a capillary affection which runs in
the family. Red hair in a man is useful; in a woman it is
unmanageable." He refilled his pipe and motioned toward the
tongs. The soldier nearest caught up a brand and held it out.
The Captain laid his pipe against it and drew. "It's a dreary
watch I have from ten till daylight, in his Majesty's
antechamber, but he will trust no other man at that post." And
with this he fell into silence.

Some time passed. Twice the Captain pulled out his watch and
looked at it. Shortly after nine o'clock the beat of hoofs came
up the driveway, and the Captain turned his head toward the
entrance and waited. A moment later the door opened and three
men stood framed in the doorway. Two of them--one in civilian
dress--were endeavoring to hold up a third between them. The
central figure presented an alarming picture. His cuirass and
white trousers were splashed with blood, and his head rolled
from side to side, almost insensibly.

"A thousand devils!" exclaimed the Captain at the sight of this
unexpected tableau. He sprang up, toppling over his chair.
"What's this? Von Mitter? Blood? Have those damned students--"

"A brush on the lake road," interrupted Sharfenstein,
breathlessly. "Help him over to a chair, Monsieur Carewe. That's

"Have you a knife, Captain?" asked Maurice.

The Captain whipped out his knife, locked it, and gave it to
Maurice. "Riemer," he called to one of the cuirassiers, who were
rising from the mess table, "bring out your box of instruments;
and you, Scharfenstein, a basin of cold water. Quick!"

Maurice knelt and deftly cut away the Lieutenant's boot. A pool
of blood collected on the floor.

"God save us!" cried the Captain, "his boot is full of blood."
He turned to Scharfenstein, who was approaching with the basin.
"What has happened, Max?"

Scharfenstein briefly explained.

"And Kopf?"

"Got away, curse him!"

"And the others?" with a lowering brow.

"They all got away," adding an oath under his breath. Max set
the basin on the floor.

"Bad, very bad. Why didn't you shoot?"

"He was afraid of hitting Mademoiselle Bachelier," Maurice

Max threw him a grateful look.

"Humph!" The Captain called his men around him. "Two of you--.
But wait. Who's back of Kopf?"

"Our distinguished Colonel," snapped Max, "who was this day
relieved of his straps. A case of revenge, probably."

"Beauvais! Ah, ah!" The Captain smiled grimly. He had always

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