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The Puppet Crown by Harold MacGrath

Part 7 out of 7

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"If your Highness will remain here," he said, "I will fetch
assistance, for the barrack can not be far off."

The prince nodded and Maurice tramped away. But the miniature
barrack and the quaint stone customs house both were wrapt in
gloom and darkness. Maurice investigated. Both buildings were
deserted; there was no sign of life about. He broke a window,
and entered the customs office. Remembering that Colonel
Mollendorf smoked, he searched the inner pocket of his coat. He
drew forth a box of wax matches, struck one and looked about. A
struggle had taken place. Evidences were strewn on the floor.
The telegraph operator's table had been smashed into bits, the
instrument twisted out of shape, the jars broken and the wires
cut. Like indications of a disturbance were also found in the

Maurice began to comprehend. Madame's troopers had crossed the
frontier, but they had returned again, taking with them the
handful of troopers belonging to the king. It was plain that the
object of this skirmish had been to destroy communications
between Bleiberg and the frontier. Madame desired to effect a
complete surprise, to swoop down on the capital before it could
bring a large force into the field.

There is an unwritten law that when one country intends to wage
war against its neighbor a formal declaration shall be made. But
again Madame had forsaken the beaten paths. More than three
weeks had passed since the duchy's representative in Bleiberg
had been discredited and given his passports. At once the
duchess had retaliated by discrediting the king's representative
in Brunnstadt. Ordinarily this would have been understood as a
mutual declaration of war. Instead, both governments ignored
each other, one suspiciously, the other intentionally. All of
which is to say, the gage of war had been flung, but neither had
stooped to pick it up.

Perhaps Madame expected by this sudden aggressiveness to win her
fight with as little loss of blood as possible, which in justice
to her was to her credit. Again, a declaration of war openly
made might have moved the confederation to veto it by coercion.
To win without loss of life would leave the confederation
powerless to act. Therefore it will be seen that Madame was not
only a daring woman, but a general of no mean ability.

This post was an isolated one; between it and Bleiberg there was
not even a village. The main pass from the kingdom into the
duchy was about thirty miles east. Here was a small but lively
city named Coberg, a railway center, garrisoned by one thousand
troops. At this pass Madame's contemplated stroke of war would
have been impossible. The railway ran directly from Coberg to
Brunnstadt, fifty miles south of the frontier. A branch of the
railway ran from Brunnstadt to a small town seven miles south of
the Red Chateau, which accounts for the ease with which Madame's
troops had reached the isolated pass. It was now likely that
Madame would arrive before Bleiberg ere her enemies dreamed of
the stroke. Maurice could see how well the traitorous
administration had played into Madame's hands. Here was the one
weak spot, and they had allowed it to remain thus weak.

"The kingdom is lost," thought Maurice. "His Highness and I may
as well return to the chateau, for all the good our escape will
do us. Hang them all!"

He began to forage, and discovered a bottle full of peach brandy.
He drank half the contents, reserving the remainder for the
prince. As he lowered the bottle there came a sound which caused
him almost to lose hold of the vigorous tonic. The sound he
heard was the shrill whinney of a horse. He pocketed the bottle
and dashed out to the stables. To his joy several horses stamped
restlessly in the stalls. The attacking party had without doubt
come on foot. He led out two, saddled and bridled them and
returned to the prince, who had fallen asleep. Maurice roused

"To Bleiberg, your Highness," he cried, at the same time
offering the bottle, which the prince did not hesitate to empty.

"Ha !" staggering to his feet. "Where are the men?"

Maurice explained the cause of their absence. The prince swore,
and climbed with difficulty into the saddle.

"Thank God," he said, as they galloped away, "we shall be there

"Adieu, Madame!" Maurice cried, airily. He was free.

"To our next meeting, duchess!" The prince, too, was free, but
he thirsted for a full revenge.

They had been on the way but a short time when Maurice lifted
his arm.


The prince raised his head. It was dawn, yellow and cold and

They fell into silence; sometimes Maurice caught himself
counting the beat of the hoofs and the variation of sounds, as
when they struck sand or slate, or crossed small wooden bridges.
Here and there he saw peasants going into the fields to begin
the long, long day of toil. The saddle on which he sat had been
the property of a short man, for the stirrups were too high, and
the prince's were too low. But neither desired to waste time to
adjust them. And so they rode with dangling legs and bodies
sunken in the saddles; mute, as if by agreement.

They had gone perhaps ten miles when they perceived a horse
flying toward them, half a mile away. The rider was not yet
visible. They felt no alarm, but instinctively they drew
together. Nearer and nearer came the lonely horseman, and as the
distance lessened into some hundred yards they discerned the
flutter of a gown.

"A woman!" exclaimed Maurice. "And alone this time of morning!"

"Eh?" cried the prince; "and heading for the duchy? Let us wait."

They drew up to the side of the highway. The woman came
fearlessly on, her animal's head down and his tail flaring out
behind. On, on; abreast of them; as she flew past there was a
vision of a pale, determined face, a blond head bared to the
chill wind. She heeded not their challenge; it was a question
whether or not she heard it. They stood watching her until she
and her horse dwindled into a mere moving speck, finally to
become lost altogether in a crook of the road.

"I should like to know what that means," said Maurice.

"It is very strange," the prince said, musingly. "I have seen
that woman before. She is one of the dancers at the opera."

"Mayhap she has a lover on the other side."

"Mayhap. Let us be on. There's the sun, and we are a good
thirteen miles away!" and the prince slapped the neck of his
horse, which bounded forward.

This tiring pace they maintained until they mounted the hill
from which they could see the glittering spires of the city, and
the Werter See as it flashed back the sunlight.

"Bleiberg!" Maurice waved his hand.

"Thanks to you, that I look on it."

It was ten o'clock when they passed under the city gates.

"Monsieur, will you go with me to the palace?" asked the prince.

"If your Highness will excuse me," said Maurice; "no, I should
be in the way; and besides I am dead for want of sleep."

"I shall never sleep," grumbled the prince, "till I have humbled
that woman. And you? Have you no rankle in your heart? Have you
no desire to witness that woman's humiliation?"

"Your Highness, I belong to a foreign country."

"No matter; be my aide. Come; I offer you a complete revenge for
the treatment you have received at Madame's hands. Your
government shall never know."

Maurice studied the mane of his horse. Suddenly he made a
gesture. This gesture consigned to the four winds his diplomatic
career. "I accept," he said. "You will find me at the
Continental. I confess that I have no love for this woman. She
has robbed me of no little conceit."

"To the palace, then; to the palace! And this hour to-morrow we,
you and I, will drink to her Royal Highness at the Red Chateau.
To the palace!"

Up the Strasse they raced, through the lower town to the upper,
and down the broad asphalt to the palace gates. The prince
rushed his horse to the very bars and shook them in his wild

"Ho! open, open!" he called.

Several cuirassiers lounged about. At the sight of these two
hatless, bedraggled men storming the gates, they ran forward
with drawn swords and angry cries. Lieutenant Scharfenstein was
among them. At second glance he recognized Maurice, who hailed

"Open, Lieutenant," he cried; "it is his Highness, Prince

The bars came down, the gates swung in.

"Go and sleep," said the prince to Maurice; "I will send an
orderly for you when the time comes." And with this he dashed up
the driveway to the main entrance of the palace, leaped from his
horse and disappeared.

Maurice wheeled and drove leisurely to the Continental, leaving
the amazed cuirassiers gaping after him. He experienced that
exuberance of spirits which always comes with a delightful day
dream. He forgot his weariness, his bruises. To mingle directly
in the affairs of kings and princes, to be a factor among
factors who surround and uphold thrones, seemed so at variance
with his republican learning that he was not sure that all this
was not one long dream--Fitzgerald and his consols, the meeting
with the princess, the adventures at Madame's chateau, the duel
with Beauvais, the last night's flight with the prince across
the mountains! Yes; he had fallen asleep somewhere and had been
whisked away into a kind of fairyland. Every one was in trouble
just now, as they always are in certain chapters of fairy tales,
but all would end happily, and then--he would wake.

Meanwhile the prince entered the palace and was proceeding up
the grand corridor, when a bared sword stayed his progress.

"Monsieur," said von Mitter, "you have lost your way. You can
not enter here."

"I?" a haughty, threatening expression on his pale face. "Are
you sure?"

Von Mitter fell back against the wall and all but lost hold of
his saber. "Your Highness?" he gasped, overcome.

"Even so!" said the prince. "The archbishop! the Marshal! Lead
me to them at once!"

Von Mitter was too much the soldier not to master his surprise
at once. He saluted, clicked his heels and limped toward the
throne room. He stopped at the threshold, saluted again, and, in
a voice full of quavers, announced:

"His Highness Prince Frederick of Carnavia."

He stepped aside, and the prince pushed past him into the throne
room. At this dramatic entrance there rose from the archbishop,
the Marshal, the princess, the Carnavian ambassador, from all
the court dignitaries, a cry of wonder and astonishment.

"His Highness!"

"Aye!" cried the prince, brokenly, for his joy at seeing the
princess nigh overcame him. "I have been a prisoner of Madame's,
who at this moment is marching on Bleiberg with an army four
thousand strong!" And stumblingly he related his misadventures.

The Marshal did not wait until he had done, nor did the new
Colonel of the cuirassiers; both rushed from the room. The
archbishop frowned; while the princess and the court stared at
the prince with varying emotions. Before the final word had
passed his lips, he approached her Highness, fell on his knee
and raised her hand to his lips. He noticed not how cold it was.

"Thank God, Mademoiselle," he said, "that once more I look into
your eyes. And if one wedding day is gone--well, there is yet
time for another!" He, rose, and proudly before them all he drew
her toward him and kissed her cheek. It was his right; she was,
the light of all his dreams, at once his bride-to-be and lady-
love. But in his joy and eagerness he did not see how pale she
grew at the touch of his lips, nor how the lids of her eyes
trembled and fell.

Next the prince recounted Maurice's adventures, how he became
connected with those at the chateau, even Fitzgerald's fall from
grace. The indignation and surprise which was accorded this
recital was unbounded.

The brown eyes of the princess filled. In a moment she had
traversed the space of ten years to a rare September noon, when
a gray-haired old man had kissed her hand and praised her speech.
A young dog stood beside her, ready for a romp in the park.
Across the path sat her father, who was smiling, and who would
never smile again. How many times had her girlish fancy pictured
the son of that old man! How many times had she dreamed of him--
aye, prayed for him! The room grew dark, and she pressed her
hand over her heart. To her the future was empty indeed. There
was nothing left but the vague perfume of the past, the faint
incense of futile, childish dreams. To stand on the very
threshold of life, and yet to see no joy beyond! She struggled
against the sob which rose, and conquered it.

"To arms, Messieurs, to arms!" cried the prince, feverishly. "To

The archbishop stepped forward and took the prince's hand in his

"God wills all things," he said, sadly, "and perhaps he has
willed that your Highness should come too late!" And that
strange, habitual smile was gone--forever. No one could fathom
the true significance of this peculiar speech.

"But "aux armes" was taken up, and spread throughout the city.



War! The whole city was in tumult. The guests were leaving the
hotels, the timid were preparing to fly, and shopkeepers were
putting up their blinds and hiding their valuables; the parks
and cafes were deserted. The railway booking office was crowded,
and a babel of tongues quarreled for precedence. The siege of
Paris was but yesterday's news, and tourists did not propose to
be walled in from the outer world. Some looked upon the scene as
a comic opera; others saw the tragedy of men snarling at one
another's throats.

Two hundred gendarmes patrolled the streets; for in war time the
dregs of a city float to the surface. Above the foreign
legations flags rose, offering protection to all those who
possessed the right to claim it. Less than four thousand troops
had marched from the city that day, but these were the flower of
the army, consisting of two thousand foot, six cannon and twelve
hundred horse. Europe has always depended largely on the cavalry,
which in the past has been a most formidable engine in warfare.

With gay plumes and banners, glittering helmets and flashing
cuirasses, they had gone forth to meet Madame and drive her back
across the range. They had made a brave picture, especially the
royal cuirassiers, who numbered three hundred strong, and who
were to fight not only for glory, but for bread. Fifty of them
had been left behind to guard the palaces.

In the royal bedchamber the king lay, all unconscious of the
fate impending. The brain had ceased to live; only a feeble
pulse stirred irregularly. The state physician shook his head,
and, from time to time, laid his fingers on the unfeeling wrist.
To him it was a matter of a few hours.

But to the girl, whose face lay hidden in the counterpane, close
to one of those senseless hands, to her it was a matter of a
breaking heart, of eyes which could be no longer urged to tears,
the wells having dried up. Dear God, she thought, how cruel it
was! Her tried and trusted friend, the one playmate of her
childhood, was silently slipping out of her life forever. Ah,
what to her were crowns and kingdoms, aye, and even war? Her
father dead, what mattered it who reigned? How she prayed that
he might live! They would go away together, and live in peace
and quiet, undisturbed by the storms of intrigue. . . . It was
not to be; he was dying. She would be the wife of no man; her
father, hovering in spirit above her, would read her heart and
understand. Dead, he would ask no sacrifice of her. Henceforth
only God would be her king, and she would worship him in some
sacred convent.

The old valet, who had served his master from boyhood, stood in
the anteroom and fumbled his lips, his faded eyes red with
weeping. He was losing the only friend he had. Elsewhere the
servants wandered about restlessly, waiting for news from the
front, to learn if they, too, were to join in the mad flight
from the city. Few servants love masters in adversity. Self-
interest is the keynote to their existences.

In the east wing three men were holding a whispered consultation.
The faces of two were pale and deep-lined; the face of the
third expressed a mixture of condolence and triumph. These three
gentlemen were the archbishop, the chancellor and the Austrian
ambassador. History has not taken into account what passed
between these three men, but subsequent events proved that it
signified disaster to one who dreamed of conquest and of power.

Said the ambassador, rising: "After what has been said, his
Imperial Majesty will, I can speak authoritatively, further
discredit Walmoden; for I have this day received information
from a reliable source which precludes any rehabilitation of
that prince. My deepest sympathies are with her Highness; his
Majesty highly honored her unfortunate father. Permit me to bid
you good day, for you know that the matter under my hand needs
my immediate attention."

When he had gone the prelate said: "My friend, our services to
the kingdom are nearly over."

"We are lost!" replied the chancellor. "The king is happy,

"I find," said the prelate, "that we have been lost for ten
years. Had this Englishman proved true, it would not have
mattered; had Prince Frederick arrived in time, still it would
not have mattered. But above all, I was determined that Madame
the duchess should not triumph. The end was written ten years
ago. How invincible is fate! How incontestible its decrees!"

In the lower town the students were preparing a riot, which was
to take place that night. Old Stuler's was thronged. Stuler
himself looked on indifferently, even listlessly. He had heard
of Kopf's death.

It was half after five of the afternoon. Six miles beyond the
Althofen bridge, in all thirteen miles from Bleiberg, a long,
low cloud of dust hung over the king's highway. This cloud of
dust was caused by the hurried, rhythmic pad-pad of human feet,
the striking of hoofs and the wheels of cannon. It marked the
progress of an army. To the great surprise of the Marshal, the
prince and the staff, they had pushed thus far during the
afternoon without seeing a sign of the enemy. Was Madame asleep?
Was she so confident her projects were unknown that she had
chosen night as the time of her attack? Night, indeed, when the
strength of her forces would be a matter of conjecture to the
assaulted, who at the suddenness of her approach would succumb
to panic! The prince was jubilant and hopeful. He had no doubt
that they would arrive at the pass just as Madame was issuing
forth. This meant an easy victory, for once the guns covered the
narrow pass, though Madame's army were ten times as strong, its
defeat was certain. A small force might hold it in check for

A squadron of cuirassiers had been sent forward to reconnoiter,
and as yet none had returned with alarms. The road had many
windings, and was billowed frequently with hills, and ran
through small forests. Only the vast blue bulk of the mountains
remained ever in view.

"We shall drink at the Red Chateau to-night," said the prince,
gaily, to Maurice.

"That we shall," replied Maurice; "and the best in the cellars."

Only the Marshal said nothing; he knew what war was. In his
youth he had served in Transylvania, and he was not minded to
laugh and jest. Then, too, there was injustice on both sides.
Poor devil! as his thoughts recurred to the king. Touched for
the moment by the wings of ambition, which is at best a white
vulture, he had usurped another's throne, and to this end! But
he was less answerable than the archbishop, who had urged him.

Occasionally he glanced back at the native troops, the foot, the
horse, the artillery, and scowled. From these his glance
wandered to the cold, impassive face of General Kronau, who rode
at his side, and he rubbed his nose. Kronau had been a favorite
of Albrecht's . . . How would he act? In truth, the Marshal's
thoughts were not altogether pleasant. Some of these men
surrounding him, exchanging persiflage, might never witness
another sunset. For, while the world would look upon this
encounter as one looks upon a comedy, for some it would serve as
tragedy. Often he lent his ear to the gay banter of the young
American, and watched the careless smile on his face. What was
he doing here? Why was he risking his life for no cause whatever,
an alien, in natural sympathy neither with the kingdom nor with
the duchy? A sad, grim smile parted his lips.

"O, the urbanity of the young and the brave!" he murmured.

Maurice felt the old familiar exhilaration--the soldier's
exhilaration--quicken the beat of his pulse. He did not ask
himself why he was here; he knew why. A delightful flower had
sprung up in his heart, and fate had nipped it. Whither this new
adventure would lead him he cared not. From now on life for him
must be renewed by continual change and excitement. Since no one
depended on him, his life was his to dispose of as he willed.
Friends? He laughed. He knew the world too well. He himself was
his best friend, for he had always been true to himself.

He might be shot, but he had faced that possibility before.
Besides, to-day's experience would be new to him. He had never
witnessed a battle in the open, man to man, in bright,
resplendent uniforms. A ragged, dusty troop of brown-skinned men
in faded blue, with free and easy hats, irregular of formation,
no glory, no brilliancy, skirmishing with outlawed white men and
cunning Indians, that was the extent of his knowledge by
experience. True, these self-same men in dingy blue fought with
a daring such as few soldiers living possessed; but they lacked
the ideal picturesqueness which made this army so attractive.

The sharp edges of his recent fatigue were not yet dulled, but
his cuirass sat lightly upon him, the sound of the dangling
saber at his side smote pleasantly his ear, and the black
Mecklenberg under him was strong and active. To return to
Madame's chateau in the guise of a conqueror was a most engaging
thought. She had humbled his self-love, now to humble hers! He
no longer bothered himself about Beauvais, whose case he had
placed in the hands of the Austrian ambassador.

Gay and debonair he rode that late September afternoon. No man
around him had so clear an eye nor so constant a vivacity. Since
he had nothing but his life to lose, he had no fear. Let the
theater be full of light while the play lasted, and let the
curtain fall to a round of huzzas! For a few short hours ago he
had kissed a woman's hand and had looked into her sad brown eyes.
"Why you do this I do not know, nor shall I ask. Monsieur, my
prayers go with you." Was not that an amulet? His diplomatic
career! He fell to whistling.

"Ah! que j'aime les militaires!"

More than once the prince felt the sting of envy in his heart at
the sight of this embodiment of supreme nonchalance. It spoke of
a healthy salt in the veins, a salt such as kings themselves can
not always boast of. A foreigner, a republican? No matter; a
gallant man.

"Monsieur," he said impulsively, "you shall always possess my
friendship, once we are well out of this."

"Thanks, your Highness," replied Maurice, and laughing; "the
after-thought is timely!"

The sun lay close to the western rim of hills; an opal sky
encompassed the earth; the air was balmy.

"The French call this St. Martin's summer," said Maurice. "In my
country we call it Indian summer--ah!" lifting in his stirrups.

The army was approaching a hill, when suddenly a whirlwind of
dust rolled over the summit, and immediately a reconnoitering
patrol came dashing into view, waving their sabers aloft. . . .
The enemy was less than a mile away, and advancing rapidly.

To anticipate. Madame the duchess had indeed contemplated
striking the blow at night. That morning, like the brave Amazon
she was, she had pitched her tent in the midst of her army, to
marshal and direct its forces. It was her intention to be among
the first to enter Bleiberg; for she was a soldier's daughter,
and could master the inherent fears of her sex.

That same morning a woman entered the lines and demanded an
audience. What passed between her and Madame the duchess others
never knew. She had also been apprised of the prisoners' escape,
but, confident that they would not be able to make a crossing,
she disdained pursuit. The prince had missed his wedding day; he
was no longer of use to her. As to the American, he would become
lost, and that would be the end of him.

But the Englishman. . . . He was conscience eternally barking at
her heels. The memory of that kiss still rankled in her mind,
and not an hour went by in which she did not chide herself for
the folly. How to get rid of him perplexed her. Here he was, in
the uniform of a Lieutenant-Colonel, ready to go to any lengths
at a sign from her. There was something in her heart which she
had not yet analyzed. First of all, her crown; as to her heart,
there was plenty of time in which to study that peculiar and
unstable organ. The possibility of the prince's arriving in
Bleiberg before her in no way disturbed her. Whenever her attack
was made, failure would not attend it. She broke camp at two
o'clock and took the road leisurely toward Bleiberg.

Thus, the two armies faced each other comparatively in the open.
A battle hung in the air.

The king's forces came to an abrupt halt. Orderlies dashed to
and fro. The artillery came rumbling and creaking to the front,
wheeled, the guns unlimbered and ranged so as to enfilade the
road. The infantry deployed to right and left while the cavalry
swung into position on the flanks. All this was accomplished
with the equanimity of dress parade. Maurice could not control
his admiration. Madame, he thought, might win her crown, but at
a pretty cost.

The Marshal and the staff posted themselves on the right breast
of the hill, from whence, by the aid of binoculars, they could
see the enemy. From time to time General Kronau nervously
smoothed his beard, formed his lips into words, but did not
utter them, and glanced slyly from the corner of his eye at the
Marshal, who was intent on the enemy's approach. Maurice was
trying with naked eye to pierce the forest and the rolling
ground beyond, and waiting for the roar of the guns.

Orders had been issued for the gunners to get the range and
commence firing; but as the gunners seemed over long in getting
down to work, Maurice gazed around impatiently. The blood rushed
into his heart. For this is what he saw: the infantry leaning
indolently on their guns, their officers snipping the grasses
with their swords; the cuirassiers hidden in the bulk of the
native cavalry; artillerymen seated carelessly on the caissons,
and the gunners smoking and leaning against the guns. All action
was gone, as if by magic; nothing but a strange tableau remained!
Moreover, a troop of native cavalry, which, for no apparent
reason, had not joined the main body, had closed in on the
general staff. Appalled by a sudden thought, Maurice touched the
prince, who lowered his glasses and turned his head.
Bewilderment widened his eyes, and the flush on his cheeks died
away. He, too, saw.

"Devil's name!" the Marshal burst forth, "why don't the
blockheads shoot? The enemy--" He stopped, his chin fell, for,
as he turned, a single glance explained all to him. The red on
his face changed into a sickly purple, and the glasses slipped
from his hands and broke into pieces on the stony ground.

"Marshal," began General Kronau, "I respect your age and valiant
services. That is why we have come thirteen miles. You may keep
your sword, and also Monsieur the prince. For the present you
are prisoners."

For a moment the Marshal was stupefied. His secret fears had
been realized. Suddenly a hoarse oath issued from his lips, he
dragged his saber from the scabbard, raised it and made a
terrible sweep at the General. But the stroke fell on a dozen
intervening blades, and the Marshal's arms were held and forced
to his sides.

"Kronau . . . you?" he roared. "Betrayed! You despicable coward
and traitor! You--" But speech forsook him, and he would have
fallen from the horse but for those who held his arms.

"Traitor?" echoed Kronau, coolly. "To what and to whom? I am
serving my true and legitimate sovereign. I am also serving
humanity, since this battle is to be bloodless. It is you who
are the traitor. You swore allegiance to the duke, and that
allegiance is the inheritance of the daughter. How have you kept
your oath?"

But the Marshal was incapable of answer. One looking at him
would have said that he was suffering from a stroke of apoplexy.

"I admit," went on the General, not wholly unembarrassed, "that
the part I play is not an agreeable one to me, but it is
preferable to the needless loss of human life. The duchess was
to have entered Bleiberg at night, to save us this present
dishonor, if you persist in calling it such. But his Highness,
who is young, and Monseigneur the archbishop, who dreams of
Richelieu, made it impossible. No harm is intended to any one."

The prince, white and shivering as if with ague, broke his sword
on the pommel of the saddle and hurled the pieces at Kronau, who
permitted them to strike him.

"God's witness," the prince cried furiously, "but your victory
shall be short-lived. I have an army, trusty to the last sword,
and you shall feel the length of its arm within forty-eight

"Perhaps," said Kronau, shrugging.

"It is already on the way."

"Your Highness forgets that Carnavia belongs to the
confederation, and that the king, your father, dare not send you
troops without the consent of the emperor, which, believe me,
will never be given;" and he urged his horse down the slope.

The army of the duchess had now gained the open. The advance was
composed of cavalry, which came along the road with wings on
either side, and with great dash and splendor.

A noisy cheer arose, to be faintly echoed by the oncoming
avalanche of white horses and dazzling blue uniforms.

This was the incident upon which Madame the duchess relied.

With rage and chagrin in his heart, Maurice viewed the scene.
The knell of the Osians had been struck. He gazed forlornly at
the cuirassiers; they at least had come to sell their lives
honestly for their bread. Presently the two armies came together;
all was confusion and cheers. Kronau approached the leader of
the cavalry. . . . Maurice was greatly disturbed. He leaned
toward the prince.

"Your Highness," he whispered, "I am going to make a dash for
the road."

"Yes, yes!" replied the prince, intuitively. "My God, yes! Warn
her to fly, so that she will not be compelled to witness this
cursed woman's triumph. Save her that humiliation. Go, and God
be with you, my friend! We are all dishonored. The Marshal looks
as if he were dying."

The native troopers, in their eagerness to witness the meeting
between Kronau and the former Colonel of the cuirassiers, had
pushed forward. A dozen, however, had hemmed in the Marshal, the
prince and Maurice. But these were standing in their stirrups.
Maurice gradually brought his horse about so that presently he
was facing north. Directly in front of him was an opening. He
grasped his saber firmly and pressed the spurs. Quick as he was,
two sabers barred his way, but he beat them aside, went
diagonally down the hill, over the stone wall and into the road.

While he was maneuvering for this dash, one man had been eying
him with satisfaction. As the black horse suddenly sank from
view behind the hill, Beauvais, to the astonishment of Kronau,
drew his revolver.

"There goes a man," he cried, "who must not escape. He is so
valuable that I shall permit no one but myself to bring him back!"
And the splendid white animal under him bounded up the hill
and down the other side.

Beauvais had a well-defined purpose in following alone. He was
determined that one Maurice Carewe should not bother anyone
hereafter; he knew too much.

The white horse and the black faded away in the blur of rising



For a long time Maurice rode with his head almost touching the
coal black mane of his gallant Mecklenberg. Twice he glanced
back to see who followed, but the volume of dust which rolled
after him obscured all behind. He could hear the far-off hammer
of hoofs, but this, mingling with the noise of his own horse,
confused him as to the number of pursuers. He reasoned that he
was well out of range, for there came no report of firearms. The
road presently described a semi-circle, passing through a meager
orchard. Once beyond this he turned again in the saddle.

"Only one; that is not so bad as it might be. It is one to one."
But a second glance told him who this solitary pursuer was. "The
devil!" he laughed--as one of Tasso's heroes might have laughed!-
-"The devil! how that man loves me!" He was confident that the
white horse would never overtake the black.

On they flew, pursued and pursuer. At length Maurice bit his lip
and frowned. The white horse was growing larger; the distance
between was lessening, slowly but certainly.

"Good boy!" he said encouragingly to the Mecklenberg. "Good boy!"

Deserted farm houses swept past; hills rose and vanished, but
still the white horse crept up, up, up. The distance ere another
half mile had gone had diminished to four hundred yards; from
four hundred it fell to three hundred, from three hundred to two
hundred. The Mecklenburg was doing glorious work, but the
marvelous stride of the animal in the rear was matchless.
Suddenly Maurice saw a tuft of the red plume on his helmet
spring out ahead of him and sail away, and a second later came
the report. One, he counted; four more were to follow. Next a
stream of fire gassed along his cheek, and something warm
trickled down the side of his neck. Two, he counted, his face
now pale and set. The third knocked his scabbard into the air.

Quickly he shifted his saber to the left, dropped the reins and
drew his own revolver. He understood. He was not to be taken
prisoner. Beauvais intended to kill him offhand. Only the dead
keep secrets. Maurice flung about and fired three consecutive
times. The white horse reared, and the shako of his master fell
into the dust, but there was no other result. As Maurice pressed
the trigger for the fourth time the revolver was violently
wrenched from his hand, and a thousand needles seemed to be
quivering in the flesh of his arm and hand.

"My God, what a shot!" he murmured. "I am lost!"

Simultaneous with the fifth and last shot came sensation
somewhat like that caused by a sound blow in the middle of the
back. Strange, but he felt no pain, neither was there an
accompanying numbness. Then he remembered his cuirass, which was
of steel an eighth of an inch thick. It had saved his life. The
needles began to leave his right hand and arm, and he knew that
he had received no injury other than a shock. He passed the
saber back to his right hand. He had no difficulty in holding it.
Gradually his grip grew strong and steady.

Beauvais was now within twenty yards of Maurice. Had he been
less eager and held his fire up to this point, Maurice had been
a dead man. The white horse gained every moment. A dull fury
grew into life in Maurice's heart. Instead of continuing the
race, he brought the Mecklenberg to his haunches and wheeled. He
made straight for Beauvais, who was surprised at this change of
tactics. In the rush they passed each other and the steel hummed
spitefully through space. Both wheeled again.

"Your life or mine!" snarled Maurice. His coolness, however, was
proportionate to his rage. For the first time in his life the
lust to kill seized him.

"It shall be yours, damn you!" replied Beauvais.

"The Austrian ambassador has your history; kill me or not, you
are lost." Maurice made a sweep at his enemy's head and missed.

Beauvais replied in kind, and it flashed viciously off the point
of Maurice's saber. He had only his life to lose, but it had
suddenly become precious to him; Beauvais had not only his life,
but all that made life worth living. His onslaught was terrible.
Besides, he was fighting against odds; he wore no steel
protector. Maurice wore his only a moment longer. A cut in the
side severed the lacings, and the sagging of the cuirass greatly
handicapped him. He pressed the spurs and dashed away, while
Beauvais cursed him for a cowardly cur. Maurice, by this
maneuver, gained sufficient time to rid himself of the
cumbersome steel. What he lost in protection, he gained in
lightness and freedom. Shortly Beauvais was at him again. The
time for banter had passed; they fought grimly and silently. The
end for one was death. Beauvais knew that if his antagonist
escaped this time the life he longed for, the power and honor it
promised, would never be his. On his side, Maurice was equally
determined to live.

The horses plunged and snorted, reared and swayed and bit.
Sometimes they carried their masters several yards apart, only
to come smashing together again.

The sun was going down, and a clear, white light prevailed. Afar
in the field a herd was grazing, but no one would call them to
the sheds. Master and mistress had long since taken flight.

The duel went on. Maurice was growing tired. By and by he began
to rely solely on the defense. When they were close, Beauvais
played for the point; the moment the space widened he took to
the edge. He saw what Maurice felt--the weakening, and he
indulged in a cruel smile. They came close; he made as though to
give the point. Maurice, thinking to anticipate, reached. Quick
as light Beauvais raised his blade and brought it down with
crushing force, standing the while in the stirrups. The blow
missed Maurice's head by an inch, but it sank so deeply in his
left shoulder that it splintered the collar bone and stopped
within a hair of the great artery that runs underneath.

The world turned red, then black. When it grew light again
Maurice beheld the dripping blade swinging aloft again. Suddenly
the black horse snapped at the white, which veered. The stroke
which would have split Maurice's skull in twain, fell on the
rear of the saddle, and the blade was so firmly imbedded in the
wooden molding that Beauvais could not withdraw it at once.
Blinded by pain as he was, and fainting, yet Maurice saw his
chance. He thrust with all his remaining strength at the brown
throat so near him. And the blade went true. The other's body
stiffened, his head flew back, his eyes started; he clutched
wildly at the steel, but his hands had not the power to reach it.
A bloody foam gushed between his lips; his mouth opened; he
swayed, and finally tumbled into the road--dead.

As Maurice gazed down at him, between the dead eyes and his own
there passed a vision of a dark-skinned girl, who, if still
living, dwelt in a lonely convent, thousands of miles away.

Maurice was sensible of but little pain; a pleasant numbness
began to steal over him. His sleeve was soaked, his left hand
was red, and the blood dripped from his fingers and made round
black spots in the dust of the road. A circle of this blackness
was widening about the head of the fallen man. Maurice watched
it, fascinated. . . He was dead, and the fact that he was a
prince did not matter.

It seemed to Maurice that his own body was transforming into
lead, and he vaguely wondered how the horse could bear up such a
weight. He was sleepy, too. Dimly it came to him that he also
must be dying. . . . No; he would not die there, beside this man.
He still gripped his saber. Indeed, his hand was as if soldered
to the wire and leather windings on the hilt. Mollendorf had
said that Beauvais was invincible. . . . Beauvais was dead. Was
he, too, dying? . . . No; he would not die there. The
Mecklenberg started forward at a walk; a spur had touched him.

"No!" Maurice cried, throwing off the drowsiness. "My God, I
will not die here! . . . Go, boy!" The Mecklenberg set off,
loping easily.

His recent enemy, the great white horse, stood motionless in the
center of the road, and followed him with large, inquiring eyes.
He turned and looked at the silent huddled mass in the dust at
his feet, and whinneyed. But he did not move; a foot still
remained in the stirrup.

Soon Maurice remembered an episode of his school days, when, in
the spirit of precocious research, he had applied carbolic acid
to his arm. It occurred to him that he was now being bathed in
that burning fluid. He was recovering from the shock. With
returning sense came the increase of pain, pain so tormenting
and exquisite that sobs rose in his throat and choked him.
Perspiration matted his hair; every breath he took was a knife
thrust, and the rise and fall of the horse, gentle as it was,
caused the earth to reel and careen heavenward.

Bleiberg; he was to reach Bleiberg. He repeated this thought
over and over. Bleiberg, to warn her. Why should he go to
Bleiberg to warn her? What was he doing here, he who loved life
so well? What had led him into this? . . . There had been a
battle, but neither army had been cognizant of it. He endeavored
to move his injured arm, and found it bereft of locomotion. The
tendons had been cut. And he could not loosen his grip on the
saber which he held in his right hand. The bridle rein swung
from side to side.

Rivulets of fire began to run up and down his side; the cords in
his neck were stiffening. Still the blood went drip, drip, drip,
into the dust. Would he reach Bleiberg, or would he die on the
way? God! for a drink of water, cold water. He set his teeth in
his lips to neutralize the pain in his arm and shoulder. His
lips were numb, and the pressure of his teeth was as nothing.
From one moment to the next he expected to drop from the saddle,
but somehow he hung on; the spark of life was tenacious. The
saber dangled on one side, the scabbard on the other. The blood,
drying in places, drew the skin as tight as a drumhead.

On, on, on; up long inclines, down the steeps; he lost all track
of time, and the darkness thickened and the stars stood out more
clearly. . . . He could look back on a clean life; true, there
were some small stains, but these were human. Strange fancies
jostled one another; faces long forgot reappeared; scenes from
boyhood rose before him. Home! He had none, save that which was
the length and breadth of his native land. On, on, on; the low
snuffle of the horse sometimes aroused him from the stupor.

"Why you do this I do not know, nor shall I ask. Monsieur, my
prayers go with you!" . . . She had said that to him, and had
given him her hand to kiss; a princess, one of the chosen and
the few. To live long enough to see her again; a final service--
and adieu! . . . Ah, but it had been a good fight, a good fight.
No fine phrases; nothing but the lust for blood; a life for a
life; a game in which the winner was also like to lose. A gray
patch in the white of the road attracted his attention--a bridge.

"Water!" he murmured.

Mottled with the silver of the stars, it ran along through the
fields; a brook, shallow and narrow, but water. The perfume of
the grasses was sweet; the horse sniffed joyously. He stopped of
his own accord. Maurice had strength enough to dismount. The
saber slid from his grasp. He staggered down to the water. In
kneeling a faintness passed over him; he rolled into the brook
and lay there until the water, almost clogging his throat and
nostrils, revived him. He crawled to his knees, coughing and
choking. The contact of the cold with the burning wound caused a
delightful sensation.

"Water!" he said, and splashed it in his face.

The horse had come down from the road. He had not waited for an
invitation. He drank thirstily at the side of his master. The
water gurgled in his long, black throat.

"Good boy!" Maurice called, and dashed water against his
shoulder. "Good boy!" he remembered that the horse in biting the
white one had saved his life.

Each handful of the cold liquid caused him to gasp; but soon the
fever and fire died out, leaving only the duller pain. When he
rose from his knees, however, he found that the world had not
yet ceased its wild reeling. He stooped to regain his saber, and
fell into the dust; though to him it was not he who fell, but
the earth which rose. He struggled to his feet, leaned panting
on his saber, and tried to steady himself. He laughed
hysterically. He had dismounted, but he knew that he could never
climb to the back of the horse; and Bleiberg might yet be miles
away. To walk the distance; was it possible? To reach Bleiberg
before Madame. . . . Madame the duchess and her army! He laughed
again, but there was a wild strain in his laughter. Ah, God!
what a farce it was! One man dead and another dying; the
beginning and the end of the war. The comic opera! La Grande
Duchesse! And the fool of an Englishman was playing Fritz! He
started down the road, his body slouched forward, the saber
trailing in the dust. . . .

"Voici le sabre de mon pere!"

The hand of madness had touched him. The Mecklenberg followed at
his heels as a dog would have followed his master.

Less than a mile away a yellow haze wavered in the sky. It was
the reflection of the city lights.

Maurice passed under the town gates, the wild song on his lips,
his eyes bloodshot, his hair dank about his brow, conscious of
nothing but the mad, rollicking rhythm. Nobody molested him;
those he met gave him the full width of the road. A strange
picture they presented, the man and the troop horse. Some one
recognized the trappings of the horse; half an hour later it was
known throughout the city that the king's army had been defeated
and that Madame was approaching. Students began their
depredations. They built bonfires. They raided the office of the
official paper, and destroyed the presses and type. Later they
marched around the Hohenstaufenplatz, yelling and singing.

Once a gendarme tried to stop Maurice and inquire into his
business. The inquisition was abruptly ended by a cut from the
madman's sword. The gendarme took to his legs. Maurice continued,
and the Mecklenberg tramped on after him. Into the Konigstrasse
they turned. At this time, before the news was known, the street
was deserted. Up the center of it the man went, his saber
scraping along the asphalt, the horse always following.

Voici le sabre de mon pere! Tu vas le mettre a ton cote! Apres
la victoire, j'espere Te revoir en bonne sante. . . . .

The street lamps swayed; sometimes a dozen revolved on one post,
and Maurice would stop long enough to laugh. How easy it was to
walk! All he had to do was to lift a foot, and the pavement
would rise to meet it. The moon, standing high behind him, cast
a long, weird shadow, and he staggered after it and cut at it
with the saber. It was only when he saw the lights of the royal
palace and the great globes on the gate posts that sanity
returned. This sanity was of short duration.

"To the palace!" he cried; "to the palace! To warn her!" And he
stumbled against the gates, still calling, "To the palace! To
the palace!"

The cuirassiers who had been left behind to protect the inmates
of the palace, were first aroused by the yelling and singing of
the students. They rushed out of the guard room and came running
to the gates, which they opened. The body of a man rolled inside.
They stopped and examined him; the uniform was theirs. The face
they looked into was that of the handsome young foreigner who,
that day, had gone forth from the city, a gay and gallant figure,
who sat his horse so well that he earned their admiration. What
could this mean? And where were the others? Had there been a
desperate battle?

"Run back to the guard room, one of you, and fetch some brandy.
He lives." And Lieutenant Scharfenstein took his hand from the
insensible man's heart. Pulsation was there, but weak and
intermittent. "Sergeant, take ten men and clear the square. If
they refuse to leave, kill! Madame is not yet queen by any means."

The men scattered. One soon returned with the brandy.
Scharfenstein moistened the wounded man's lips and placed his
palm under the nose. Shortly Maurice opened his eyes, his half-
delirious eyes.

"To the palace!" he said, "to the palace--Ah!" He saw the faces
staring down at him. He struggled. Instinctively they all stood
back. What seemed incredible to them, he got to his knees, from
his knees to his feet, and propped himself against a gate post.
"Your life or mine!" he cried. "Come on; a man can die but once!"
He lunged, and again they retreated. He laughed. "It was a
good fight!" He reeled off toward the palace steps. They did not
hinder him, but they followed, expecting each moment to see him
fall. But, he fell not. One by one he mounted the steps,
steadying himself with the saber. He gained the landing, once
more steadied himself, and vanished into the palace.

"He is out of his head!" cried Scharfenstein, rushing up the
steps. "God knows what has happened!"

He was in time to see Maurice lurch into the arms of Captain von
Mitter, who had barred the way to the private apartments.

"Carewe! . . . What has happened? God's name, you are soaked in
blood!" Von Mitter held Maurice at arm's length. "A battle?"

"Aye, a battle; one man is dead and another soon will be!" A
transient lucidity beamed in Maurice's eyes. "We were betrayed
by the native troops; they ran to meet Madame. . . . Marshal
Kampf, Prince Frederick, and the cuirassiers are prisoners. . . .
I escaped. Beauvais, gave chase. . . . Wanted to kill me. . . .
He gave me this. I ran him through the throat. . . . Knew him
in South America. . . . He's dead! Inform the archbishop and her
Highness that Madame is nearing the city. The king--"

"Hush!" said von Mitter, with a finger on his lip; "hush! The
king died at six o'clock. God rest his soul!" He crossed himself.
"A disgraceful day! Curse the scheming woman, could she not let
us bury him in peace? Prince Frederick's father refused to send
us aid."

"I am dying," said Maurice with a sob. "Let me lie down
somewhere; if I fall I am a dead man." After a pause: "Take me
into the throne room. I shall last till Madame comes. Let her
find me there. . . . The brandy!"

Scharfenstein held the flask to the sufferer's lips.

"The throne room?" repeated von Mitter, surprised at this
strange request. "Well, why not? For what is a throne when there
is no king to sit on it? You will not die, my friend, though the
cut is a nasty one. What is an arm? Life is worth a thousand of
them! Quick! help me with him, Max!" for Maurice was reaching
blindly toward him.

The three troopers who had followed Scharfenstein came up, and
the five of them managed to carry Maurice into the throne room,
and deposit him on the cushions at the foot of the dais. There
they left him.

"Bad!" said von Mitter, as he came limping out into the corridor.
"And he made such a brave show when he left here this afternoon.
I have grown to love the fellow. A gallant man. I knew that the
native troops were up to something. So did the Colonel. Ach! I
would give a year of my life to have seen him and Beauvais. To
kill Beauvais, the best saber in the kingdom--it must have been
a fight worthy of the legends. A bad day! They will laugh at us.
But, patience, the archbishop has something to say before the
curtain falls. Poor young man! He will lose his arm, if not his

"But how comes he into all this?" asked Scharfenstein,

"It is not for me or you to question, Max," said von Mitter,
looking down. He had his own opinion, but he was not minded to
disclose it.

"What are you going to do?"

"Perform my duty until the end," sourly. "Go you and help
against the students, who have not manliness enough even to
respect the dead. The cowardly servants are all gone; save the
king's valet. There are only seven of us in all. I will seek the
king's physician; the dead are dead, so let us concern ourselves
with the living;" and he limped off toward the private

Scharfenstein hurried away to the square.

In the royal bedchamber a girl murmured over a cold hand. "God
pity me; I am all, all alone!"

The archbishop was kneeling at the foot of the bed. In his heart
was the bitterness of loss and defeat. His dreams of greatness
for this clay! The worldly pomp which was to have attended it!
Life was but a warm breath on the mirror of eternity; for one
the mirror was clear again.

The square soon grew quiet; the students and the cuirassiers had
met for the last time. In the throne room shadows and silence
prevailed. Maurice lay upon the cushions, the hilt of the saber
still in his hand. Consciousness had returned, a clear,
penetrating consciousness. At the foot of the throne, he thought,
and, mayhap, close to one not visible to the human eye! What a
checkerboard he had moved upon, and now the checkmate! So long
as the pain did not diminish, he was content; a sudden ease was
what he dreaded. Life was struggling to retain its hold. He did
not wish to die; he was young; there were long years to come;
the world was beautiful, and to love was the glory over it all.
He wondered if Beauvais still lay in the road where he had left
him. Again he could see that red saber swinging high; and he

Half an hour passed, then came the distant murmur of voices,
which expanded into tumult. The victorious army, the brave and
gallant army, had entered the city, and was streaming toward the
palaces. Huzzas rose amid the blaring of bugles. The timorous
came forth and added to the noise. The conquerors trooped into
the palace, and Madame the duchess looked with shining eyes at
the throne of her forefathers.



Madame, like a statue of expectancy, riveted her gaze on the
throne. Hers at last! Her dreams were realized. She was no
longer a duchess by patent; she was a queen by right of
inheritance; she was now to be a power among the great. The
kingdom of her forefathers was hers. She had reached the goal
without bloodshed; she had been patient, and this was her reward.
The blaze of her ambition dimmed all other stars. Her bosom
heaved, triumph flashed in her beautiful eyes, and a smile
parted her lips. Her first thought had been to establish
headquarters in the parlors of the Continental Hotel, and from
there to summon the archbishop, as a conqueror summons the chief
of the vanquished. But no; she could not wait; above all things
she desired the satisfaction of the eye. The throne of her

"Mine!" she murmured.

Over her shoulders peered eager faces, in which greed and
pleasure and impassibility were written. One face, however, had
on it the dull red of shame. Not until now did the full force of
his intended dishonesty come home to the Englishman; not until
now did he realize the complete degradation to which his uniform
had lowered him. His had been the hand to stay this misfortune,
and he had not lifted it. This king had been his father's friend;
and he had taken up arms against him. O, he had begun life
badly; he was making the end still more dismal. Would this woman
ever be his? Her promises were not worth the air that had
carried them to his ear. He, the consort of a queen? A cold
sweat dampened his forehead. How he loved her! And that kiss. . . .
Queen or not, he would not be her dupe, his would not be a
tame surrender.

From the Platz and the Park, where the two armies had bivouacked,
came an intermittent cheering. The flames of bonfires were
reflected on the windows, throwing out in dull, yellow relief
the faces of Madame and her staff.

Between the private apartments of the king and the throne room
was a wide sliding door. Suddenly this opened and closed. With
his back against it, a pistol in one hand and a saber in the
other, stood Captain von Mitter, his face cold and resolute. All
eyes were instantly directed toward him.

"Captain," said Madame, imperiously, "summon to me Monseigneur
the archbishop!"

Her command fell on ears of stone. Von Mitter made no sign that
he heard her.

"Take care, Monsieur," she warned; "I am mistress here. If you
will not obey me, my officers will."

"Madame, I acknowledge no mistress save the daughter of the king.
No one shall pass this door to announce your presence to

This reply was greeted with sundry noises, such as sabers coming
from scabbards, clicking of pistol locks, and the moving of feet.
Madame put out her hand suggestively, and the noise ceased. Von
Mitter smiled disdainfully, but did not stir.

"I warn you, Madame," he said, "that this is war. I accept all
the responsibilities of my position. I know nothing of any
surrender or victory. To me you are simply an enemy. I will kill
any one who attempts to pass. I should be pleased if General
Kronau would make the first step to question my sincerity."

Kronau's fingers twitched around his revolver, but Madame
touched his arm. She could read faces. The young Captain was in
earnest. She would temporize.

"Captain, all here are prisoners of war," she said. "Do not
forget that soon there will be benefits for those who serve me."

He laughed rudely. "I ask no benefits from your hands, Madame. I
would rather stand on the corner and beg." He sent an insolent,
contemptuous glance at Kronau, who could not support it. "And
now that you have gratified your curiosity, I beg you to
withdraw to the street. To-night this palace is a tomb, and woe
to those who commit sacrilege."

"The king?" she said, struck by a thought which caused a red
spot to appear on each cheek.

"Is dead. Go and leave us in peace."

The wine which had tasted so sweet was full of lees, and the cup
wormwood. Madame looked down, while her officers moved uneasily
and glanced over their shoulders. Kronau brushed his forehead,
to find it wet. Madame regretted the surrendering to the impulse.
Her haste to triumph was lacking both in dignity and judgment.
She had given the king so little place in her thoughts that the
shock of his death confused her. And there was something in the
calm, fearless contempt of the young soldier which embarrassed her.

"In that case, Captain," she said, her voice uncertain and
constrained, "bid Monseigneur to wait on me at the Continental."

"Whenever that becomes convenient, Madame, Monseigneur will
certainly confer with you and your rascally pack of officers."
He longed for some one to spring at him; he longed to strike a
blow in earnest.

As he leaned against the door he felt it move. He stepped aside.
The door rolled back, and her Royal Highness, the archbishop and
the chancellor passed in. The princess's eyes were like dim
stars, but her fine nostrils palpitated, and her mouth was rigid
in disdain. The chancellor looked haggard and dispirited, and he
eyed all with the listlessness of a man who has given up hope.
The prelate's face was as finely drawn as an ancient cameo, and
as immobile. He gazed at Madame with one of those looks which
penetrate like acid; and, brave as she was, she found it
insupportable. There was a tableau of short duration.

"Madame," said her Royal Highness, with a noble scorn, "what
would you say if one desecrated your father's tomb while you
were kneeling beside it? What would you say? In yonder room my
father lies dead, and your presence here, in whatever role, is
an insult. Are you, indeed, a woman? Have you no respect for
death and sorrow? Was the bauble so precious to your sight that
you could not wait till the last rites were paid to the dead? Is
your heart of stone, your mind devoid of pity and of conscience?
Are you lacking in magnanimity, which is the disposition of
great souls? Ah, Madame, you will never be great, for you have
stooped to treachery and deceit. You, a princess! You have
purchased with glittering promises that which in time would have
been given to you. And you will not fulfill these promises, for
honesty has no part in your affair. Shame on you, Madame. By
dishonorable means you have gained this room. By dishonorable
means you destroyed all those props on which my father leaned.
You knew that he had not long to live. Had you come to me as a
woman; had you opened your heart to me and confided your desires--
Ah, Madame, how gladly would I have listened. Whatever it
signifies to you, this throne is nothing to me. Had you come
then--but, no! you must come to demand your rights when I am
defenseless. You must come with a sword when there is none to
defend. Is it possible that in our veins there runs a kindred
blood? And yet, Madame, I forgive you. Rule here, if you will;
but remember, between you and your crown there will always be
the shadow of disgrace. Monsieur," turning toward Fitzgerald,
whose shame was so great that it engulfed him, "your father and
mine were friends--I forgive you. Now, Madame, I pray you, go,
and leave me with my dead."

The girlhood of Princess Alexia was gone forever.

To Madame this rebuke was like hot iron on the flesh. It left
her without answer. Her proud spirit writhed. Before those
innocent eyes her soul lay bare, offering to the gaze an
ineffaceable scar. For the first time she saw her schemes in
their true light. Had any served her unselfishly? Aye, there was
one. And strangely enough, the first thought which formed in her
mind when chaos was passed, was of him.

How would this rebuke affect her in his eyes? What was he to her
that she cared for his respect, his opinion, good or bad? What
was the meaning of the secret dread? How she hated him for his
honesty to her; for now perforce she must look up to him. She
had stepped down from the pinnacle of her pride to which she
might never again ascend. He had kissed her. How she hated him!
And yet . . . Ah, the wine was flat, tinctured with the
bitterness of gall, and her own greed had forced the cup to her
lips. She could not remain silent before this girl; she must
reply; her shame was too deep to resolve itself into silence.

"Mademoiselle," she said, "I beg of you to accept my sympathies;
but the fortunes of war--"

"Ah, Madame," interrupted the prelate, lifting his white,
attenuated hand, "we will discuss the fortunes of war--later."

Madame choked back the sudden gust of rage. She glanced covertly
at the Englishman. But he, with wide-astonished eyes, was
staring at the foot of the throne, from which gradually rose a
terrible figure, covered with blood and caked with drying clay.
The figure leaned heavily on the hilt of a saber, and swayed
unsteadily. He drew all eyes.

"Ha!" he said, with a prolonged, sardonic intonation, "is that
you, Madame the duchess? You are talking of war? What! and you,
my lord the Englishman? Ha! and war? Look at me, Madame; I have
been in a battle, the only one fought to-day. Look at me! Here
is the mark of that friend who watched over your interests. But
where is he? Eh? Where? Did you pick him up on the way? . . . .
He is dead. For all that he was a rascal, he died like a man. . .
. . as presently I shall die! Princes and kings and thrones;
the one die and the other crumble, but truth lives on. And you,
Madame, have learned the truth. Shame on your mean and little
souls! There was only one honest man among you, and you
dishonored him. The Marshal . . . I do not see him. An honest
man dies but once, but a traitor dies a thousand deaths. Kronau .
. . . is that your name? It was an honest one once. And the
paltry ends you gain! . . . . The grand duchess of Gerolstein ! .
. . . What a comic opera! Not even music to go by! Eh, you,--
you Englishman, has Madame made you a Lieutenant?--a Captain?--a
General? What a farce! Nobles, you? I laugh at you all for a
pack of thieves, who are not content with the purse, but must
add honor to the bag. A man is what he makes himself. Medals and
clothes, medals and clothes; that is the sum of your nobility!"
He laughed, but the laughter choked in his throat, and he
staggered a few paces away from the throne.

"Seize him!" cried Madame.

When the men sprang forward to execute this command, Fitzgerald
barred the way.

"No," he said doggedly; "you shall not touch him."

"Stand aside, Monsieur," said Madame, determined to vent her
rage on some one.

"Madame," said von Mitter, "I will shoot down the first man who
lays a hand on Monsieur Carewe."

The princess, her heart beating wildly at the sudden knowledge
that lay written on the inner vision, a faintness stealing away
her sight, leaned back against the prelate.

"He is dying," she whispered; "he is dying for me!"

Maurice was now in the grasp of the final delirium. "Come on!"
he cried; "come on! I will show you how a brave man can die.
Come on, Messieurs Medals and Clothes! Aye, who will go out with
me?" He raised the saber, and it caught the flickering light as
it trailed a circle above his head. He stumbled toward them,
sweeping the air with the blade. Suddenly there came a change.
He stopped. The wild expression faded from his face; a surprised
look came instead. The saber slipped from his fingers and
clanged on the floor. He turned and looked at the princess, and
that glance conveyed to her the burden of his love.
"Mademoiselle . . . . " His knees doubled, he sank, rolled face
downward, and a dark stain appeared and widened on the marble

"Go, Madame," said the prelate. "This palace is indeed a tomb."
He felt the princess grow limp on his arm. "Go."

"Maurice!" cried Fitzgerald, springing to the side of the fallen
man. "My God! Maurice!"



Madame, surrounded by her staff and courtiers, sat in the main
salon of the Continental Hotel, waiting for the archbishop. The
false, self-seeking ministers of Leopold's reign crowded around
her to pay their respects, to compliment and to flatter her.
Already they saw a brilliant court; already they were
speculating on their appointments. Offices were plenty; new
embassies were to be created, old embassies to be filled anew.

Madame listened to all coldly. There was a canker in her heart,
and no one who saw that calm, beautiful face of hers dreamed how
deeply the canker was eating. There were two men who held aloof
from compliments and flattery. On the face of one rested a moody
scowl; on the other, agony and remorse. These two men were
Colonel Mollendorf and Lord Fitzgerald. The same thought
occupied each mind; the scene in the throne room.

Presently an orderly announced: "Monseigneur the archbishop."

Madame arose, and all looked expectantly, toward the door.

The old prelate entered, his head high and his step firm. He
appeared to see no one but Madame. But this time she met his
glance without a tremor.

"Monseigneur," she began, "I have come into my own at last. But
for you and your ambitious schemes, all this would not have come
to pass. You robbed my father of his throne and set your puppet
there instead. By trickery my father was robbed of his lawful
inheritance. By trickery I was compelled to regain it. However,
I do not wish to make an enemy of you, Monseigneur. I have here
two letters. They come from Rome. In one is your recall, in the
other a cardinal's hat. Which do you prefer?"

"Surely not the cardinal's hat," said the prelate. "Listen to me,
Madame, for I have something to say to you which will cause you
some reflection. If I had any ambitions, they are gone; if I had
any dreams, they have vanished. Madame, some twenty years ago
your duchy was created. It was not done to please Albrecht's
younger brother, the duke, your father. Albrecht was childless.
When your father was given the duchy it was done to exclude
forever the house of Auersperg from reigning on this throne. You
say that you were tricked; well, and so was I. Unhappily I
touched the deeper current too late.

"This poor king, who lies silent in the palace, was not my
puppet. I wished to make him great, and bask in his greatness.
But in that I failed; because Leopold was a poet and a
philosopher, and the greatness of earthly things did not concern
him. Leopold and I were dupes of Austria, as you are at this
moment, Madame. So long as Leopold reigned peacefully he was not
to be disturbed. Had you shown patience and resignation,
doubtless to-day you would be a queen. You will never be more
than a duchess.

"Madame, you have done exactly as Austria intended you should.
There is no longer any kingdom." There was a subdued triumph in
his eyes. "To you," with a gesture toward the courtiers and
office-seekers, "to you I shall say, your own blind self-
interest has destroyed you. Madame, you are bearing arms not
against this kingdom, but against Austria, since from to-day
this land becomes the property of the imperial crown. If you
struggle, it will be futilely. For, by this move of yours,
Austria will declare that this kingdom is a menace to the
tranquility of the confederation. Madame, there is no corner-
stone to your edifice. This is what I wished to say to you. I
have done. Permit me to withdraw."

For a moment his auditors were spellbound; then all the emotions
of the mind and heart portrayed themselves on the circle of
faces. Madame's face alone was inscrutable.

"His Excellency, the Austrian ambassador!" announced the orderly.

The archbishop bowed and left the apartment.

"Your Highness," began the Austrian, "his Imperial Majesty
commands your immediate evacuation of Bleiberg, and that you
delay not your departure to the frontier. This kingdom is a
crown land. It shall remain so by the consent of the
confederation. If you refuse to obey this injunction, an army
will enforce the order. Believe me, Madame, this office is
distasteful to me, but it was not avoidable. What disposition am
I to submit to his Majesty?"

"Monsieur," she said, "I am without choice in the matter. To pit
my forces against the emperor's would be neither politic nor
sensible. I submit." There was not a sign of any emotion, no
hint of the terrible wrath which lay below the surface of those
politely modulated tones. But it seemed to her as she stood
there, the object of all eyes, that some part of her soul had
died. Her pride surmounted the humiliation, the pride of a woman
and a princess. She would show no weakness to the world.

"Then, Madame," said the ambassador, suppressing the admiration
in his eyes at this evidence of royal nonchalance, "I shall
inform his Majesty at once."

When he had gone, Madame turned coldly to her stricken followers.
"Messieurs, the fortunes of war are not on our side. I thank
you for your services. Now leave me; I wish to be alone."

One by one they filed out into the corridors. The orderly was
the last to leave, and he closed the door behind him. Madame
surveyed the room. All the curtains were drawn. She was alone.
She stood idly fingering the papers which lay scattered on the
table. Suddenly she lifted her hands above her head and clenched
them in a burst of silent rage. A dupe! doubly a dupe! To-morrow
the whole world would laugh at her, and she was without means of
wreaking vengeance. Presently the woman rose above the princess.
She sat down, laid her face on her arms and wept.

Fitzgerald stepped from behind one of the curtains. He had taken
refuge there during the archbishop's speech. He had not the
strength to witness the final humiliation of the woman he loved.
He was gazing out of the window at the troops in the Platz when
the door closed.

Madame heard the rustle of the curtain and looked up. She sprang
to her feet, her eyes blazing.

"You?" she cried. "You? You have dared to hide that you might
witness my weakness and my tears? You. . . ."


"Go! I hate you!"

"Ah, Madame, we always hate those whom we have wronged. Do not
forget that I love you, with a love that passes convention."

"Monsieur, I am yet a princess. Did you not hear me bid you go?"

"Why?" in a voice singularly free from agitation. "Because I am
the only man who has served you unselfishly? Is that the reason,
Madame? You have laughed at me. I love you. You have broken me.
I love you. I can never look an honest man in the face again. I
love you. Though the shade of my father should rise to accuse me,
still would I say that I love you. Madame, will you find
another love like mine, the first love of a man who will know no
second? Forgive me if I rejoice in your despair, for your
despair is my hope. As a queen you would be too far away; but in
your misfortune you come so near! Madame, I shall follow you
wherever you go to tell you that I love you. You will never be
able to shut your ears to my voice; far or near, you will always
hear me saying that I love you. Ambition soars but a little way;
love has no fetters. Madame, your lips were given to me. Can you
forget that?"

"Monsieur, what do you wish?" subdued by the fervor of his tones.

"You! nothing in the world but you."

"Princesses such as I am do not wed for love. What! you take
advantage of my misfortune, the shattering of my dreams, to
force your love upon me?"

"Madame," the pride of his race lighting his eyes, "confess to
me that you did not win my love to play with it. If my heart was
necessary to your happiness, which lay in these shattered dreams,
tell me, and I will go. My love is so great that it does not
lack generosity."

For reply she sorted the papers and extended a blood-stained
packet toward him. "Here, Monsieur, are your consols." But the
moment his hand touched them, she made as though to take them
back. On the top of the packet was the letter she had written to
him, and on which he had written his scornful reply to her. She
paled as she saw him unfold it.

"So, Madame, my love was a pastime?" He came close to her, and
his look was like an invisible hand bearing down on her. "Madame,
I will go."

"No, no!" she cried, yielding to the impulse which suddenly laid
hold of her. "Not you! You shall not misjudge me. No, not you!
Those consols were given to me by the woman of your guide, Kopf,
who found them no one knows how. They were given to me this
morning. That letter. . . . . I did not intend that you should
see it. No, Monsieur; you shall not misjudge the woman, however
you judge the princess. Forgive me, it was not the woman who
sought your love; it was the princess who had need of it.

"I thought it would be but a passing fancy. I did not dream of
this end. To-morrow I shall be laughed at, and I cannot defend
myself as a man can. I must submit; I must smile and cover my
chagrin. O, Monsieur, do not speak to me of love; there is
nothing in my heart but rage and bitterness. To stoop as I have
stooped, and in vain! I am defeated; I must remain passive; like
a whipped child I am driven away. Talk not of love to me. I am
without illusion." She fell to weeping, and to him she was
lovelier in her tears than ever in her smiles. For would she
have shown this weakness to any but himself, and was it not a
sign that he was not wholly indifferent to her?

"Madame, what is it?" he cried, on his knees before her. "What
is it? Do you wish a crown? Find me a kingdom, and I will buy it
for you. Be mine, and woe to those who dare to laugh! Ah, could
I but convince you that love is above crowns and kingdoms, the
only glimpse we have on earth of Paradise. There is no boundary
to the dreams; no horizons; a vast, beautiful wilderness, and
you and I together. There are no storms, no clouds. Ambition,
the god of schemes, finds no entrance. Ah, how I love you! Your
face is ever before me, waking or sleeping. All thoughts are
merged into one, and that is of you. Self has dropped out of my
existence. Forget that you are a princess; remember only that
you are a woman, and that I love you."

Love has the key to eloquence. Madame forgot her vanished dreams;
the bitterness in her heart subsided. That mysterious,
indefinable thrill, which every woman experiences when a
boundless love is laid at her feet, passed through her, leaving
her sensible to a delicious languor. This man was strong in
himself, yet weak before her, and from his weakness she gained a
visible strength. Convention was nothing to him; that she was of
royal blood was still less. What other man would have dared her
wrath as he had done?

Nobility, she thought, was based on the observance of certain
laws. Around the central star were lesser stars, from which the
central star drew its radiance. Whenever one of these stars
deviates from its orbit, the glory of the central star is
diminished. To accept the love of the Englishman would be a blow
to the pride of Austria. She smiled.

"Monsieur," she said, in a hesitating voice, "Monsieur, I am
indeed a woman. You ask me if I can forget that I offered you my
lips? No. Nor do I wish to. Why did I permit you to kiss me? I
do not know. I could not analyze the impulse if I tried.
Monsieur, I am a woman who demands much from those who serve her.
I am capricious; my moods vary; I am unfamiliar with sentiment;
I hate oftener than I love. Listen. There is a canker in my
heart, made there by vanity. When it heals--well--mayhap you
will find the woman you desire. Mind you, I make no promises.
Follow me, if you will, but have patience; love me if you must,
but in silence;" and with a gesture which was not without a
certain fondness, she laid her hand upon his head.



Into the princess's own chamber they carried Maurice, and laid
him on the white bed. Thus would she have it. No young man had
ever before entered that sacred chapel of her maiden dreams.
Beside the bed was a small prie-dieu; and she knelt upon the
cushion and rested her brow against the crucifix. The archbishop
covered his eyes, and the state physician bent his head.
Chastity and innocence at the feet of God; yet, not even these
can hold back the fleeting breath of life. She asked God to
forgive her the bitterness in her heart; she prayed for strength
to repel the weakness in her limbs. Presently she rose, an
angelic sweetness on her face. She looked down at Maurice; there
was no sign of life, save in the fitful drawing in of the nether
lip. She dampened a cloth and wiped the sweat of agony from the
marble brow.

"O, if only he might live!" she cried. "And he will not?"

"No, your Highness," said the physician. "He has perhaps an hour.
Extraordinary vitality alone is the cause of his living so long.
He has lost nearly all the blood in his body. It was a
frightful wound. He is dying, but he may return to consciousness
before the end.

The archbishop, with somber eyes, contemplated the pale,
handsome face, which lay motionless against the pillow. His
thoughts flew back to his own youth, to the long years which had
filled the gap between. Friends had come and gone, loved ones
vanished; and still he stood, like an oak in the heart of a
devastated forest, alone. Why had he been spared, and to what
end? Ah, how old he was, how very old! To live beyond the
allotted time, was not that a punishment for some transgression?
His eyes shone through a mist of tears.

The princess, too, contemplated the face of the dying man. How
many times had that face accompanied her in her dreams! How
familiar she was with every line of it, the lips, that turned
inward when they smiled; the certain lock of hair that fell upon
the forehead! And yet, she had seen the face in reality less
than half a dozen times. Why had it entered so persistently into
her dreams? Why had the flush risen to her cheeks at the
thought? At another time she would have refused to listen to the
voice which answered; but now, as the object of her thoughts lay
dying on her pillow, her mind would not play truant to her heart.
Sometimes the approach of love is so imperceptible that it does
not provoke analysis. We wake suddenly to find it in our hearts,
so strong and splendid that we submit without question. . . .
All, all her dreams had vanished, the latest and the fairest.
Across the azure of her youth had come and gone a vague,
beautiful flash of love. The door of earthly paradise had opened
and closed. That delicate string which vibrates with the joy of
living seemed parted; her heart was broken, and her young breast
a tomb. With straining eyes she continued to gaze. The invisible
arms of her love clasped Maurice to her heart and held him there.
Only that day he had stood before her, a delight to the eye;
and she had given him her hand to kiss. How bravely he had gone
forth from the city! She had followed him with her ardent gaze
until he was no longer to be seen. And now he lay dying. . . .
for her.

"Monsieur," she said, turning to the physician, "I have
something to say to Monseigneur."

The physician bowed and passed into the boudoir, the door of
which he closed.

"Father," she said to the prelate, "I have no secrets from you."
She pointed to Maurice. "I love him. I know not why. He comes
from a foreign land; his language nor his people are mine, and
yet the thought of him has filled my soul. I have talked to him
but four different times; and yet I love him. Why? I can not
tell. The mind has no power to rule the impulse of love. Were he
to live, perhaps my love would be a sin. Is it not strange,
father, that I love him? I have lost parental love; I am losing
a love a woman holds priceless above all others. He is dying
because of me. He loves me. I read it in his eyes just before he
fell. Perhaps it is better for him and for me that he should die,
for if he lived I could not live without him. Father, do I sin?"

"No, my child," and the prelate closed his eyes.

"I have been so lonely," she said, "so alone. I craved the love
of the young. He was so different from any man I had met before.
His bright, handsome face seemed constantly with me."

At this moment Maurice's breast rose and fell in a long sigh.
Presently the lids of his eyes rolled upward. Consciousness had
returned. His wandering gaze first encountered the sad, austere
visage of the prelate.

"Monseigneur?" he said, faintly.

"Do you wish absolution, my son?"

"I am dying. . . . ?"


"I am dying. . . . God has my account and he will judge it. I am
not a Catholic, Monseigneur." He turned his head. "Your
Highness?" He roved about the room with his eyes and discerned
the feminine touch in all the appointments.

"Where am I?"

"You are in my room, Monsieur," she said. Her voice broke, but
she met his eyes with a brave smile. "Is there anything we can
do for you?"

"Nothing. I am alone. To die. . . . Well, one time or another.
And yet, it is a beautiful world, when we but learn it, full of
color and life and love. I am young; I do not wish to die. And
now . . . even in the midst . . . to go . . . where? Monseigneur,
I am dying; to me princes and kings signify nothing. That is
not to say that they ever did. In the presence of death we are
all equal. Living, I might not speak; dying . . . since I have
but a little while to stay . . . I may speak?"

"Yes, my son, speak. Her Highness will listen."

"It is to her Highness that I wish to speak."

Her lips quivered and she made no secret of her tears. "What is
it you wish to say to me, Monsieur Carewe?" She smoothed his
forehead, and the touch of her hand made him forget his pain.

"Ah, I know not how to begin," he said. "Forgive me if I offend
your ears. . . . I have been foolish even to dream of it, but I
could not help it. . . . When first I saw you in the garden . .
the old dog was beside you. . . . Even then it came to me that
my future was linked to the thought of you. I did not know you
were so far beyond. . . . I was very cold, but I dared not let
you know it, for fear you would lead me at once to the gate.
That night wherever I looked I saw you. I strove to think of
some way to serve you, but I could not. I was so obscure. I
never thought that you would remember me again; but you did. . .
That afternoon in the carriage . . . I wanted to tell you then.
That rose you dropped . . . it is still on my heart. I loved
you, and to this end. And I am glad to die, for in this short
fortnight I have lived. . . . My mother used to call me Maurice
. . . to hear a woman repeat it again before I go."

"Maurice." She took his hand timidly in hers, and looked at the

"Speak to him from your heart, my child," said the prelate. "It
will comfort you both."

Suddenly she drooped and the tears fell upon the hand in hers.
"Maurice," she whispered, "you have not loved in vain." She
could utter no more; but she raised her head and looked into his
eyes, and he saw the glory of the world in hers.

"Into still waters and silence," he said softly. "No more pain,
nor joy, nor love; silence. . . . You love me! . . . Alexia; how
often have I repeated that name to myself. . . . I have not
strength to lift your hand to my lips."

She kissed him on the lips. She felt as if she, too, were dying.

"God guard your Highness," he said. "It is dark. . . . I do not
see you. . . . "

He tried to raise himself, but he could not. He sank back,
settled deeply into the pillow, and smiled. After that he lay
very still.

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