An Extract from the Journals
of Julius Jason, Esquire.
The Sequel to the Ball.
rather a tourist-ridden,
hackneyed sort of place
to be the mother of adventures.
Nevertheless, it is there that my
story begins. I had been traveling
on the Continent, and came
to Heidelberg to pay my duty to
the castle, and recruit in quiet
after a spell of rather laborious
idleness at Homburg and Baden.
At first sight I made up my mind
that the place would bore me, and
I came down to dinner at the
hotel, looking forward only to a
bad dinner and an early bed.
The room was so full that I could
not get a table to myself, and, seeing
one occupied only by a couple
of gentlemanly looking men, I
made for it, and took the third
seat, facing one of the strangers,
a short, fair young man, with
a little flaxen mustache and a
soldierlike air, and having the
other, who was older, dark, and
clean-shaved, on my left. The
fourth seat was empty.
The two gentlemen returned
my bow with well-bred negligence,
and I started on my soup.
As I finished it, I looked up and
saw my companions interchanging
glances. Catching my eye, they
both looked away in an absent
fashion, each the while taking out
of his pocket a red silk handkerchief
and laying it on the table
by him. I turned away for a
moment, then suddenly looked
again and found their eyes on
me, and I fancied that the next
moment the eyes wandered from
me to the handkerchiefs. I happened
to be carrying a red handkerchief
myself, and, thinking
either that something was in the
wind or perhaps that my friends
were having a joke at my expense
(though, as I said, they looked
well-bred men), I took it out of
my pocket and, laying it on the
table, gazed calmly in front of
me, my eyes naturally falling on
the fair young man.
He nodded significantly to the
older man, and held out his hand
to me. I shook hands with him,
and went through the same ceremony
with the other.
“Ah!” said the young man,
speaking in French, “you got her
“And you are willing?”
The first maxim for a would-be
adventurer is always to say “yes”
to questions. A “no,” is fatal to
“Yes,” I answered.
“It will be made worth your
while, of course,” he went on.
I thought I ought to resent this
“Sir,” I said, “you cannot possibly
mean to suggest——”
The young man laughed pleasantly.
“My dear fellow,” he said,
“ladies have their own ways of
paying debts. If you don’t like
it——” and he shrugged his
“Oh,” said I, smiling, “I misunderstood
“It is, of course,” said the older
man, speaking for the first time,
and in a loud whisper, “of vital
importance that His Royal
Highness’ name should not appear.”
This really began to be mysterious
and interesting. I nodded.
“That goes without saying,”
said the young man. “And
you’ll be ready?”
“Ready!” I said. “But
“Didn’t I tell you? Oh, six
o’clock to-morrow morning.”
“That’s early hours.”
“Well, you must, you know,”
“And,” added the older man,
“the countess hopes you’ll come
to breakfast afterward at ten.”
“I’ll be there, never fear,” said
I, “and it’s very kind.”
“Bravo!” said the young man,
clapping me on the shoulder (for
we had risen from table). “You
take it the right way.”
As may be supposed, I was
rather puzzled by this time, and
decidedly vexed to find I should
have to be up so early. Still, the
mention of His Royal Highness
and the countess decided me to
go on for the present; probably
the real man—for, unless it were
all a mad joke, there must be a
real man—would appear in the
course of the evening. I only
hoped my new friends would, in
their turn, take it in the right
way when that happened.
“Have you a servant with
you?” asked the young man, as
we said good-night.
“No,” said I; “I am quite
“You are a paragon of prudence,”
he answered, smiling.
“Well, I’ll call you, and we’ll slip
Just as I was getting into bed,
the waiter knocked at my door and
gave me a note. It bore no address.
“Is it for me?” I asked.
“Yes, sir,” he answered. “You
are the gentleman who dined with
Herr Vooght and M. Dumergue?”
I supposed I was, and opened
“You are generous and forgiving,
indeed,” it said (and said it in
English). “What reward will you
claim? But do be careful. He
“The devil!” I exclaimed.
The next morning I was
aroused at five o’clock by my two
“Good-morning, Herr Vooght,”
said I, looking just between them.
“Good-morning,” answered the
“Now, my dear fellow, come
along. There’s a cup of coffee
downstairs,” said the other, whom
I took to be Dumergue.
After coffee, we got into a close
carriage with a pair of horses, and
drove two or three miles into the
country; my companions said
little. Dumergue twice asked in
a joking way how I felt, and
Vooght puzzled me very much by
“They are bringing all the
necessaries; but I don’t know
what they will choose.”
When this was said, Dumergue
was humming a tune. He went
on for five minutes, and then said,
with a touch of scorn:
“My good Vooght, they know
our friend’s reputation. They
will choose pistols.”
I could not repress a start.
No doubt it was stupid of me
not to have caught the meaning
of this early expedition before,
but it really never struck me that
our business might be a duel.
However, so it seemed, and apparently
I was one of the principals.
Dumergue noticed my little start.
“What’s the matter?” he
“Do they know my name?”
“My dear friend, could you
expect the baron to fight with an
unknown man? The challenge
had to be in your name.”
I had clearly been the challenger.
I was consumed with
curiosity to know what the grievance
was, and how the countess
was concerned in the matter.
“The countess assured us,”
said Vooght, “that she had your
“As fully as if I had been
there,” I answered, and Dumergue
resumed his tune.
I was sincerely glad that the
name of my original had been
given, for his reputation for
swordsmanship had evidently
saved me from a hole in my skin.
I was a fair hand with a pistol;
but, like most of my countrymen,
a mere bungler with the rapier.
It was very annoying, though, that
my friends’ exaggerated prudence
prevented them mentioning my
name: it would have been more
convenient to know who I was.
I had not long for reflection,
for we soon drew up by a roadside
inn, and, getting out of the carriage,
walked through the house,
where we were apparently expected,
into a field behind. There
were three men walking up and
down, and two of them at once
advanced to meet Vooght and
Dumergue. I remained where I
was, merely raising my hat, and
the third man—a big, burly fellow,
with a heavy black mustache—followed
This one, no doubt, was the
baron. To be frank, he looked a
brute, and I had very little hesitation
in assuming that the merits
of the quarrel must be on my side.
I was comforted by this conclusion,
as I had no desire to shoot
an unoffending person. Preliminaries
were soon concluded. I
overheard one of the baron’s
representatives mention the word
apology, and add that they would
meet us halfway, but Dumergue
shook his head decisively. This
defiant attitude became Dumergue
very well; but I, for my part,
should have been open to reason.
The baron and I were placed
opposite one another at twelve
paces. There were to be two
shots—unless, of course, one of
us were disabled at the first fire;
after that, the seconds were to
consider whether the matter need
The word was just about to be
given, when to my surprise the
Everyone looked at him in
“Before we fire,” he went on,
“I wish to ask this gentleman
one question. No—I will not be
His seconds, who had advanced,
fell back before his resolute gesture,
and he continued, addressing
“Sir, will you do me the honor
to answer one question? Are
you the person who accompanied——”
Vooght struck in quickly:
“No names, please!”
The baron bowed, and began
“On your honor, sir, are you
the gentleman who accompanied
the lady in question to the masked
ball on the night in question?”
These gentlemen were all diplomatic.
I thought I would be
“Surely this is grossly irregular?”
I said, appealing to my
“I ask for an answer,” said the
“It’s nothing but a new insult,”
“I have my reasons, and those
gentlemen know them.”
This was intolerable.
“You mean to fight, or you don’t,
M. le Baron,” said I. “Which is
He shrugged his shoulders.
“Your master is well served,”
he said with a sneer.
His seconds looked bewildered:
Vooght bit his nails, and Dumergue
swore furiously, and, coming
near me, whispered in my ear:
“Shoot straight! Stop his
cursed mouth for him!”
I had not the least intention of
killing the baron, if I could avoid
it without being killed myself;
but I thought a slight lesson would
improve his manners, and, when
the word came, I fired with a careful
aim. He evidently meant mischief,
for I heard his ball whiz
past my ear; I missed him clean,
being much out of practice, and,
I dare say, rather nervous. I
pulled myself together for the
second shot, for I saw that my
opponent was not to be trifled
with, and I should not have been
the least surprised to find myself
in paradise the next moment. On
the word I fired; the baron fell
back with a cry, and simultaneously
I felt a tingle in my left
hand, and the unmistakable warm
ooze of blood. The witnesses ran
to my opponent, and raised his
head. Dumergue turned round
“Are you hurt?”
“A scratch,” I answered, for I
found the ball had run up my
arm, merely grazing me in its
A hurried consultation followed;
then Vooght and Dumergue raised
their hats and joined me.
“We had best be off,” said
“Is he dead?” I asked.
“No,” said Dumergue, with a
little disappointment, I thought.
“He’ll get over it; but he’s safe
for a week or two. Not a bad
So I was a colonel!
“Now,” said Vooght, “we’ll
drive back, and send you to the
I had made up my mind to get
away from the place as soon as I
could, but my curiosity to see the
causa belli was too strong, and I
said I should be delighted to keep
Dumergue smiled significantly,
and Vooght hurried us into the
carriage. We drove back to the
town, and then two or three miles
into the country again, till we
came to a pretty villa, embowered
in trees, and standing some two
hundred yards back from the
road. There was no drive up to
the house, a turf walk forming
the passage from the highway.
Vooght motioned me to get down.
“Don’t you accompany me?” I
Dumergue smiled again.
“Oh, no!” he said. “Come
for us at the hotel, and we’ll
all be off by the two o’clock
“Unless you are detained,”
“I shouldn’t be detained, if I
were you,” said Dumergue dryly.
“Who knows? The baron may
I was quite determined not to
be detained, and said so. I was
also quite determined not to keep
the rendezvous at the hotel, but
to slip away quietly by myself.
The colonel might arrive at any
I watched my friends drive off,
and then walked briskly up to the
house. A man in livery met me
before I had time to ring.
“Are you the gentleman?” he
“Will you be so kind, sir, as to
walk straight in? That door, sir.
The countess expects you.”
I had my doubts about that, but
I walked in, shutting the door
swiftly behind me, lest the servant
should hear anything. I thought
an explosion not improbable.
The room was dim, close curtains
shutting out the growing
strength of the sunshine. The
air was thick with the scent of
flowers that overpowered without
quite smothering the appetizing
smell rising from a table profusely
spread for breakfast. I had entered
softly, and had time to take
note of the surroundings before
I became aware of a tall, slight
figure in white, first moving impetuously
toward me, then stopping
abruptly in surprise. Presumably,
this was the countess. Charming
as she was, with her open blue
eyes, fluffy golden hair, and fresh
tints, I wondered from what noble
house she sprang. However, the
fountains of honor are many, and
their streams meander sometimes
through very winding channels.
The countess stood and looked
at me. I bowed and smiled.
“You are naturally surprised,”
I said, in my smoothest tone.
“I was expecting—another
“Yes, I know. I come in his
“In his place?” she repeated,
in incredulous tones.
“Yes; in the colonel’s place.”
“Hush!” she exclaimed. “We
needn’t mention names.”
It suited me perfectly not to
“I beg pardon,” I murmured.
“But how is it possible?” she
asked. “Do you know what he
was to come for?”
“And he hasn’t come?”
“Wouldn’t he come?”
“He couldn’t. So I came.”
“But how did you know anything
about it? Did he tell you
about the pr—about the affair?”
“No. I only heard——”
“Yes—that you wanted a champion.”
“Oh, that’s absurd! Why, you
never heard of me!”
“Ah, indeed I have!”
“And—did you recognize me
under my new name?”
“My—my title. You know.”
“The—he told me that. Must
I confess? I jumped at the chance
of serving you.”
“You had never seen me!”
“Perhaps I had seen your
She smiled at this, but still
“Pray don’t be distressed,” said
I. “I am very discreet.”
“Oh, I hope so! The prince
[she spoke in a whisper] was so
urgent about discretion. You
haven’t seen him?”
“The prince? No.”
“And—when is it to be?”
“I don’t quite understand.”
This was my first truthful remark.
“Why, the duel!”
“Oh, it’s all over!”
“Yes—two hours ago.”
“And the baron? No, forgive
me. You! Are you
“Not a bit. He’s hurt.”
“Is he dead?” she asked
“I am sorry, countess. Not
quite. Was that necessary?”
“Oh, no! Though he deserved
it. He insulted me shamefully.”
“Then he did deserve it.”
She went off at a tangent.
“What became of my letter?”
“They gave it to me. You
only said for the gentleman who
dined with your friends.”
“Then you read it?” she asked,
“Yes. How I wish I were the
rightful owner of it!”
“Why didn’t he come?” she
“He’s going to write and explain.”
“And you really came because——”
“May I tell you already? Or
have you guessed already?”
She blushed again.
“I don’t see what else the
prince could do, you know,” she
said. “He ought, of course,
never to have gone to the ball at
“Perhaps not,” I answered;
“but I suppose he was tempted.”
“Do you think very badly of
“I should think you perfection
“You would give me some
“Oh, what a shame! You’re
starving! And after all you have
done! Come, I’ll wait on you.”
My meal was very pleasant.
The lady was charming; she satisfied
every feeling I had, except
curiosity. She was clearly English;
equally clearly she was involved
with some great people on
the Continent. I gathered that
the baron had insulted her, when
she was with the prince, and the
latter could not, whether for state
or domestic reasons, espouse the
quarrel. So far I got, but no
“What a debt I owe you!” she
said, as she led the way after
breakfast to the top of a little
tower. An awning was spread
overhead, and armchairs on the
floor. A cool breeze blew, and
stirred her hair.
“I am more than paid!”
“Fancy, if you had been
“Better I than the colonel!” I
She darted a smile at me.
“Oh, well,” she said, “you
came, and he didn’t. I like you
It was all very charming, but
time was flying, and I began to
plan a graceful exit.
“You make it hard to go,” I
“Yes, I suppose we must go as
soon as possible. Herr Vooght
said at two o’clock.”
I was startled. Delightful as
she was, I hardly reckoned on her
being one of the party.
“The prince will be so pleased
to see you,” she went on.
“Why, you will have my recommendation!”
“I’m sure it must be all-powerful!”
“But we have two hours before
we need start. You must want to
“What a charming tower this
“Yes; such a view. Look, we
can see for miles. Only I hate
that stretch of dusty road.”
I looked carelessly toward
the road along which we had
“Look what a dust!” she said.
“It’s a carriage! Oh, they’ll upset!”
I jumped up. About half a
mile off, I saw a carriage and pair
driven furiously toward the villa.
My heart beat.
“Who can it be?” she said.
“Don’t be frightened,” said I.
“Possibly the authorities have
found out about the duel.”
“Let me go and see.”
“And in case I have to slip
“I shall go alone. You will
“Yes. But now, in case——”
“As a reward, may I kiss your
She gave it me.
“I am glad you came,” she said.
“Stay, perhaps it’s only our
friends coming for us.”
“I’ll go and see.”
I was reluctant to cut short our
good-by,—for I feared it must be
final,—but no time was to be lost.
With another kiss—and upon my
honor, I can’t swear whether it
was her hand or her cheek this
time—I rushed downstairs, seized
my hat and cane, and dived into
the shrubberies that bordered on
the turf walk. Quickly I made
my way to within twenty yards of
the road, and stopped, motionless
and completely hidden by the
trees. At that moment the carriage,
with its smoking horses,
drew up at the gate.
Dumergue got out; Vooght
came next; then a tall, powerful
man, of military bearing. No
doubt this was the colonel. They
seemed in a hurry; motioning the
driver to wait, they walked or
almost ran past me up the path.
The moment they were by me and
round a little curve, I hastened to
the gate, and burst upon the
“A hundred marks to the
“But, sir, I am engaged.”
“Damn you! Two hundred!”
“Get in,” said he, like a sensible
man, bundling back the nose-bags
he was just putting on his
horses. I leaped in, he jumped on
the box, and off we flew quicker
even than they had come. As we
went, I glanced up at the tower.
They were there! I saw Vooght
and Dumergue lean over for a
moment, and then turn as if to
come down. The tall stranger
stood opposite the lady, and
seemed to be talking to her.
“Faster!” I cried, and faster
and faster we went, till we reached
the station. Flinging the driver
his money, I took a ticket for the
first train, and got in, hot and
breathless. As we steamed out of
the town, I saw, from my carriage-window,
a neat barouche with a
woman and three men in it, driving
quickly along the road, which
ran by the railway. It was my
party! Youth is vain, and beauty
is powerful. I bared my head,
leaned out of the window, and
kissed my hand to the countess.
We were not more than thirty
yards apart, and, to my joy, I saw
her return my salutation, with a
toss of her head and a defiant
glance at her companions. The
colonel sat glum and still; Vooght
was biting his nails harder than
ever; Dumergue shook his fist at
me, but, I thought, more in jest
than in anger. I kissed my hand
again as the train and the carriage
whisked by one another, and I
was borne on my way out of their
At the Hôtel Magnifique.
To a reflective mind nothing
is more curious than the
way one thing leads to
another. A little experience of
this tendency soon cured me of
refusing to go anywhere I was
asked, merely because the prospects
of amusement were not very
obvious. I always went—taking
credit of course for much amiability—and
I often received my
reward in an unexpected development
of something new or an
interesting revival of a former
episode. It happened, a few
months after my adventure at
Heidelberg, that my brother’s
wife, Jane Jason, asked me, as a
favor to herself, to take a stall at
the theater where a certain actress
was, after a long and successful
career in the provinces, introducing
herself to a London audience.
Jane is possessed by the idea that
she has a keen nose for dramatic
talent, and she assured me that
her protégée was a wonder. I dare
say the woman had some talent,
but she was an ugly, gaunt creature
of forty, and did not shine in
Juliet. At the end of the second
act I was bored to death, and was
pondering whether I knew enough
of the play to slip out without
Jane being likely to discover my
desertion by cross-examination,
when my eye happened to fall on
the stage-box in the first tier. In
the center seat sat a fair, rather
stout man, with the very weariest
expression that I ever saw on
human face. He was such an unsurpassed
impersonation of boredom
that I could not help staring
at him; I could do so without
rudeness, as his eyes were fixed on
the chandelier in the roof of the
house. I looked my fill, and was
about to turn away, and go out
for a cigarette, when somebody
spoke to me in a low voice, the
tones of which seemed familiar.
“Ah, impostor, here you are!”
It was Dumergue, smiling
quietly at me. I greeted him with
surprise and pleasure.
“How is the baron?” I asked.
“He cheated the—grave,” answered
“And the countess?”
“Hush! I have a message for
“From her?” I inquired, not, I
fear, without eagerness.
“No,” he replied, “from the
prince. He desires that you
should be presented to him.”
“Who is he?”
“I forgot. Prince Ferdinand
“Indeed! He’s in London,
“Yes, in that box,” and he
pointed to the bored man, and
“Come along; he hates being
“He looks as if he hated most
things,” I remarked.
“Well, most things are detestable,”
said Dumergue, leading the
The prince rose and greeted me
with fatigued graciousness.
“I am very much indebted
to you, Mr. Jason,” he said,
I began to stammer an apology
for my intrusion into his
“For,” he resumed, without
noticing what I said, “a moment’s
bewilderment. I quite enjoyed
I bowed, and he continued.
“The only things I cling to in
life, Mr. Jason, are a quiet time at
home and my income. You have
been very discreet. If you hadn’t,
I might have lost those two things.
I am very much obliged. Will you
give me the pleasure of your company
at supper? Dumergue, the
princess will be delighted to see
“Yes, sir, Her Royal Highness
will be delighted,” answered
“Where was the princess going?”
asked the prince.
“To a meeting of the Women’s
International Society for the Promotion
of Morality, at the Mansion
“Mon Dieu!” said the prince.
“His Majesty is much interested
in the society, sir.”
“I am sure my brother would
be. Come along, Mr. Jason.”
The prince and princess were
staying at the Hôtel Magnifique
in Northumberland Avenue. We
drove thither, and were told that
the princess had returned. Upon
further inquiry, made by Dumergue,
it appeared that it would
be agreeable to her to sup with the
prince and to receive Mr. Jason.
So we went into the dining room
and found her seated by the fire.
After greeting me, she said to the
“I have just written a long
account of our meeting to the
king. He will be so interested.”
She was a small woman, with a
gentle manner and a low, sweet
voice. She looked like an amiable
and intelligent girl of eighteen,
and had a pretty, timid air, which
made me wish to assure her of my
“My brother,” said the prince,
“is a man of catholic tastes.”
“It is necessary in a king, sir,”
The prince did not answer him,
but offered his arm to his wife, to
escort her to the table. She motioned
me to sit on her right hand,
and began to prattle gently to me
about the court of Glottenberg.
The prince put in a word here and
there, and Dumergue laughed appreciatively
whenever the princess’
descriptions were neat and
appropriate—at least, so I interpreted
his delicate flattery.
I enjoyed myself very much.
The princess was evidently, to
judge from her conversation, a
little Puritan, and I always love a
pretty Puritan. That rogue Dumergue
agreed with all her views,
and the prince allowed his silence
to pass for assent.
“We do try at court,” she
ended by saying, “to set an example
to society; and, as the king
is unmarried, of course I have to
do a great deal.”
At this moment, a servant entered,
bearing a card on a salver.
He approached the princess.
“A gentleman desires the
honor of an audience with Her
Royal Highness,” he announced.
“At this time of night!” exclaimed
“He says his business will not
bear delay, and prays for a interview.”
“All business will bear delay,”
said the prince, “and generally
be the better for it. Who is
“The Baron de Barbot.”
“Oh, I must see him,” cried
the princess. “Why, he is a dear
friend of ours.”
I had detected a rapid glance
pass between Dumergue and the
prince. The latter then answered:
“Yes, we must see Barbot. If
you will go to the drawing room,
I’ll take your message myself.”
“That is kind of you,” said the
“Give me the card,” said the
prince, “and ask the baron to be
kind enough to wait a few minutes.”
The servant went out, and the
prince turned to me.
“Why didn’t you kill him, Mr.
Jason?” he asked.
“Is it——” I began.
“Yes, it’s your baron,” said
“It’s really a little awkward,”
said the prince, as though gently
remonstrating with fate. “We
had arranged it all so pleasantly.”
“It would upset the princess,”
“What upsets the princess upsets
me,” said the prince. “I am
a devoted husband, Mr. Jason.”
“If there is anything I can do,
sir,” said I, “rely on me.”
“You overwhelm me,” said the
prince. “Is there anything, Dumergue?”
“Why, yes, sir. Mr. Jason was
at the ball. Why should he have
fought, if he wasn’t?”
“You are right, Dumergue.
Mr. Jason, you were at the ball.”
“But, sir, I—I don’t know anything
about the ball.”
“It was just like other balls—other
masked balls,” said Dumergue.
“Perhaps a little more so,”
added the prince, lighting a cigarette.
“There was a scandal at the
last one,” Dumergue continued,
“and the king strictly forbade
anyone connected with the court
to go, under pain of his severe
displeasure. There had been a
rumor that a royal prince was at
the one before, and consequently——”
“That royal prince was specially
commanded not to go to this one,”
said the prince.
“It was bad enough,” resumed
Dumergue, “that it should be discovered
that the princess’ favorite
lady-in-waiting, the Countess
“Who bore such a high character,”
interjected the prince.
“Did go, and, moreover, went
under the escort of an unknown
gentleman—a gentleman whose
name she refused to give.”
“Was that discovered?” said I.
“It was. This baron detected
her, and, with a view, as we have
reason to believe, to compelling
her companion to declare himself,
publicly insulted her.”
“Whereupon,” said the prince,
“you very properly knocked him
down, Mr. Jason.”
“I beg your pardon, sir?”
“The princess,” continued
Dumergue, “was terribly agitated
and annoyed at the scandal and
the duel which followed. And of
course the countess left the court,
and returned to England.”
“Yes; she was a Miss Mason.
The king ennobled her at the
I smiled and said:
“And now there is a question
about who her escort was?”
“There is,” said Dumergue.
“It is believed that the baron
entertains an extraordinary idea
that the gentleman in question
was no other than——”
“Myself,” said the prince,
throwing away his cigarette.
I remembered the baron’s
strange questions before the duel.
“Dispose of me as you please,
sir,” said I.
“Then you were at the ball,
and knocked the baron down!”
“A thousand thanks,” said the
“But what are we to do with
him now, sir?” asked Dumergue.
“The princess will be expecting
“I will go and tell the princess
of Mr. Jason’s confession. You
go with Mr. Jason, and tell the
baron that the princess cannot
receive him. I want him to see
“But, sir,” said I, “I didn’t
fight under my own name.”
The prince was already gone,
and Dumergue was halfway down
the stairs. I followed the latter.
We found the baron in the
smoking room, taking a cup of
coffee. A couple of men sat
talking on a settee near him;
otherwise the room was empty.
Dumergue went up to the baron,
I following a step or two behind
him. The baron rose and bowed
“I am charged,” said Dumergue,
“to express His Royal
Highness’ regrets that Her Royal
Highness cannot have the pleasure
of receiving you. She has retired
to her apartments.”
“The servant told me she was
“He was misinformed.”
“I’m not to be put off like that.
I’ll have a refusal from the princess
“I will inform His Royal Highness.”
The baron was about to answer,
when he caught sight of me.
“Ah, there’s the jackal!” he
said, with a sneer.
I stepped forward.
“Do you refer to me?” I
“Unless I am wrong in recognizing
my former antagonist,
This was just what I had anticipated.
Dumergue did not seem
“Of course it is Colonel Despard,”
he said. “You would not
be likely to forget him, baron.”
We had been speaking in a low
tone, but at Dumergue’s sneer, the
baron lost his temper. Raising his
voice, he said, almost in a shout:
“Then I tell Colonel Despard
that he is a mean hound.”
If I assumed the colonel’s name,
I felt I must at least defend it
from imputations. I began:
“Once before, baron, I chastised——”
I was interrupted. One of the
men on the settee interposed, rising
as he spoke.
“I beg pardon, gentlemen, but
is it Colonel Despard of the
Hussars to whom you refer?”
“Yes,” said the baron.
“Then that gentleman is not
Colonel Despard,” announced our
new friend. “I am Colonel Despard’s
For a moment I was at a loss;
things were falling out so very
unfortunately. Dumergue turned
on the stranger fiercely:
“Pray, sir, was your interposition
“Certainly not. But if this
gentleman says he is Colonel Despard,
I take leave to contradict
“I should advise you to do
nothing of the sort,” said I. “M.
Dumergue knows me very well.”
“This person,” said the baron,
“passed himself off as Colonel
Despard, and, by that pretext,
obtained from me the honor of a
duel with me. It appears that he
is a mere impostor.”
The other man on the settee
called out cheerfully, “Bob, send
for the police!”
Dumergue looked rather sheepish;
his invention failed him.
“Do either or both of these
gentlemen,” said I, indicating the
baron and the colonel’s brother-in-law,
“call me an impostor?”
“I do,” said the baron, with a
“I am compelled to assert it,”
said the other, with a bow.
I had edged near the little table,
on which the baron’s coffee had
been served. I now took up the
coffee-pot and milk-jug. The
coffee I threw in the baron’s face,
and the milk in that of his ally.
Both men sprang forward with an
oath. At the same moment, the
electric light went out, and I was
violently pulled back toward the
door, and someone whispered,
“Vanish as quick as you can.
Go home—go anywhere.”
“All right, sir,” said I, for I
recognized the prince’s voice.
“But what are they doing?”
“Never mind; be off.” And
the prince handed me a hat.
I walked quickly to the door,
and hailed a hansom. As I drove
off, I saw the prince skip upstairs,
and a posse of waiters rush toward
the smoking room. I went home
The next morning, as I was
breakfasting, my man told me two
gentlemen were below, and wished
to see me. I told him to show
them up, and the prince and
Dumergue came in, the former
wrapped up in a fur coat, with a
collar that hid most of his face.
“The prince would like some
brandy in a little soda water,” said
I administered the cordial.
The prince drank it, and then
turned to me.
“Did you get home all right?”
“After you took leave of us,
we had an explanation. Mr.
Wetherington—it was Mr. Wetherington
at whom you threw the
milk—was very reasonable. I
explained the whole matter, and
he said he was sure his brother-in-law
would pardon the liberty.”
“I’m afraid I took rather a
liberty with him.”
“Oh,” said Dumergue, “we
made him believe the milk was
meant for the baron, as well as
the coffee. I said we took it au
lait at Glottenberg.”
“It’s lucky I thought of turning
out the light,” said the prince.
“I was looking on, and it seemed
“What did the hotel people
“They are going to sue the
electric company,” said the
prince, with a slight smile. “It
seems there is a penalty if the
light doesn’t work properly.”
“And the baron, sir?”
“We kicked the baron out as
a blackmailer,” said Dumergue.
“He is going to bring an action.”
“I return to Glottenberg to-day,”
concluded the prince; “accompanied
by the princess and
I thought this course very
prudent, and said so. “But,” I
added, “I shall be called as a
“No; Colonel Despard will.”
“He will establish an alibi.
“I am glad it all ends so happily, sir.”
“Well, there is one matter,”
said the prince. “I had to tell
the princess of your indiscretion
in taking Mme. Vooght——”
“Mr. Jason,” put in Dumergue,
“has not heard that the countess
and Vooght are married.”
“Yes,” said the prince, “they
are married, and will settle in
America. Vooght is a loss; but
we can’t have everything in this
“I hope Herr Vooght will be
happy,” said I.
“I should think it very unlikely,”
said the prince. “But,
to return. The princess is very
angry with you. She insists——”
“That I should never be presented
to her again?”
“On the contrary; that you
should come and apologize in
person. Only on condition of
bringing you again could I make
my peace for bringing you once.”
I was very much surprised, but
of course I said I was at the princess’
“You don’t mind meeting us in
Paris? We stay there a few
days,” said Dumergue.
“You see,” added the prince,
“Dumergue says there are things
called writs, and——”
“I will be in Paris to-morrow,
“I shall be there to-day,” said
the prince, rising.
The Mission of the Ruby
I could not imagine
why the princess desired
to see me. It would
have been much more natural to
punish the impertinence of which
I had no doubt been guilty—I
mean, of which it was agreed on
all hands that I had been guilty—by
merely declining to receive me
or see me again. Even the desire
for a written apology would
have been treating me as of too
much account. But she wanted
to see me. What I had heard of
the princess’ character utterly forbade
any idea which ought not to
have been, but would have been,
pleasant to entertain. No; she
clearly wanted me, but what for I
could not imagine.
When I went to claim my audience,
the prince was not visible,
nor Dumergue either, and I was
at once received by the princess
alone. She was looking smaller,
and more simple and helpless than
ever. I also thought her looking
prettier, and I enjoyed immensely
the pious, severe, forgiving little
rebuke which she administered to
me. I humbly craved pardon,
and had no difficulty in obtaining
it. Indeed, she became very gracious.
“You must come to Glottenberg,”
she said, “in a few months’
“To obey Your Royal Highness’
commands will be a delightful
duty,” said I, bowing.
She rose and stood by the fire,
“toying” (as the novelists say)
with her fan.
“You seem to be an obliging
man, Mr. Jason,” she said. “You
were ready to oblige Mme.
I made a gesture of half-serious
“I wonder,” she continued, “if
you would do me a little service.”
“I shall be most honored if I
may hope to be able to,” said I.
What did she want?
She blushed slightly, and, with
a nervous laugh, said:
“It’s only a short story. When
I was a young girl, I was foolish
enough, Mr. Jason, to fall in love,
or at least to think I did. There
was a young English attaché—I
know I can rely on your perfect
discretion—at my father’s court,
and he—he forgot the difference
between us. He was a man of
rank, though. Well, I was foolish
enough to accept from him a very
valuable ring—a fine ruby—quite
a family heirloom. Of course, I
never wore it, but I took it. And
when I married, I——”
“Your Royal Highness had no
opportunity of returning it?”
“Exactly. He had left the
court. I didn’t know where he
was, and—and the post was not
“I understand perfectly.”
“I saw in the papers the other
day that he was married. Of
course I can’t keep it. His wife
ought to have it—and I dare not—I
would prefer not to—send
“I see. You would wish
“To be my messenger. Will
Of course I assented. She
went into an adjoining room, and
returned with a little morocco
case. Opening it, she showed me
a magnificent ruby, set in an old
gold ring of great beauty.
“Will you give it him?” she
“Your Royal Highness has not
told me his name?”
“Lord Daynesborough. You
will be able to find him?”
“And you will—you will be
careful, Mr. Jason?”
“He shall have it safely in
three days. Any message with
“No. Yes—just my best wishes
for his happiness.”
I bowed and prepared to withdraw.
“And you must come and tell
“I will come and make my
“I do not know how to thank
I kissed her hand and bowed
myself out, mightily amused, and,
maybe, rather touched at the revelation
of this youthful romance.
Somehow such things are always
touching, stupid as they are for the
most part. It pleased me to find
that the little princess was flesh
She followed me to the door,
and whispered, as I opened it:
“I have not troubled the prince
with the matter.”
“Wives are so considerate,”
thought I, as I went downstairs.
On arriving in England, I made
inquiries about Lord Daynesborough.
I found that it was
seven years since he had abruptly
thrown up his post of attaché, without
cause assigned. After this
event, he lived in retirement for
some time, and then returned into
society. Three months ago he
had married Miss Dorothy Codrington,
a noted beauty, with whom
he appeared much in love, and had
just returned from his wedding
tour and settled down for the season
at his house in Curzon Street.
Hearing all this, I thought the
little princess might have let well
alone, and kept her ring; but her
conduct was no business of mine,
and I set about fulfilling my commission.
I needed no one to tell
me that Lady Daynesborough had
better, as the princess would have
phrased it, not be troubled with
I had no difficulty in meeting
the young lord. In spite of the
times we live in, a Jason is still a
welcome guest in most houses, and
before long he and I were sitting
side by side at Mrs. Closmadene’s
table. The ladies had withdrawn,
and we were about to follow them
upstairs. Daynesborough was a
frank, pleasant fellow, and scorned
the affectation of concealing his
happiness in the married state. In
fact, he seemed to take a fancy to
me, and told me that he would like
me to come and see him at home.
“Then,” he said, “you will
cease to distrust marriage.”
“I shall be most glad to come,”
I answered, “more especially as I
want a talk with you.”
“Do you? About what?”
“I have a message for you.”
“You have a message for me,
Mr. Jason? Forgive me, but from
I leaned over toward him, and
whispered, “The Princess Ferdinand
The man turned as white as a
sheet, and, gripping my hand, said
under his breath:
“Hush! Surely you—you
haven’t—she hasn’t sent it?”
“Yes, she has,” said I.
“Good God! After seven
General Closmadene rose from
his chair. Daynesborough drank
off a very large “white-wash,” and
“Come to dinner to-morrow—eight
o’clock. We shall be alone;
and, for Heaven’s sake, say
I said nothing, and I went to
dinner, carrying the ruby ring in
my breast-pocket. But I began
to wonder whether the little princess
was quite as childlike as she
Lady Daynesborough dined with
us. She was a tall, slender girl;
very handsome, and, to judge
from her appearance, not wanting
in resolution and character. She
was obviously devoted to her husband,
and he treated her with an
affectionate deference that seemed
to me almost overdone. It was
like the manner of a man who is
remorseful for having wounded
someone he loves.
When she left us, he returned
to the table, and, with a weary
“Now, Mr. Jason, I am ready.”
“My task is a very short one,”
said I. “I have no message except
to convey to you the princess’
best wishes for your happiness on
your marriage, of which she has
recently heard, and to give you
the ring. Here it is.”
“Have women no mercy?”
“I beg your pardon?” said I,
“She waits seven years—seven
years without a word or a sign—and
then sends it! And why?”
“Because you’re married.”
“Exactly. Isn’t it—devilish?”
“Not at all. It’s strictly correct.
She said herself that your
wife was the proper person to have
the ring now.”
He looked at me with a bitter
“My dear Jason,” he said, “I
have been flattering your acumen
at the expense of your morality.
I thought you knew what this
“No more than what the princess
“No, of course not, or you
would not have brought it. When
we parted, I gave her the ring,
and she made me promise, on my
honor as a gentleman, to come to
her the moment she sent the ring—to
leave everything and come to
her, and take her away. And I
“And she has never sent till
“I never married till now,” he
said bitterly. “What’s the matter
“Nothing that I know of.”
He rose, went to a writing table,
and came back with a fat paper
book—a Continental Bradshaw.
“You’re not going?” I exclaimed.
“Oh, yes! I promised.”
“You promised something to
your wife too, didn’t you?”
“I can’t argue it. I must go
and see what she wants. I—I
hope she’ll let me come back.”
I tried to dissuade him. I know
I told him he was a fool; I think I
told him he was a scoundrel. I
was not sure of the second, but
I thought it wisest to pretend that
“I hope it will be all right,” he
said, again and again; “but, right
or wrong, I must go.”
I took an immediate resolution.
“I suppose you’ll go by the
eleven-o’clock train to Paris to-morrow?”
“Yes,” he said.
“Well, you’re wrong. Good-night.”
At twelve o’clock the next day
I called in Curzon Street, and
sent in my card to Lady Daynesborough.
She saw me at once. I expect
that she fancied I had something
to do with her husband’s sudden
departure. She was looking pale
and dispirited, and I rather thought
she had been crying. Her husband,
it appeared, had told her
that he had to go to Paris on business,
and would be back in three
“He didn’t tell you what it
“No. Some public affairs, I
“Lady Daynesborough,” said I,
“you hardly know me, but my
name tells you I am a gentleman.”
She looked at me in surprise.
“Why, of course, Mr. Jason.
But what has that to do——”
“I can’t explain. But, if you
are wise, you will come with me to
“Go with you to Paris! Oh!
is he in danger?”
“In danger of making a fool of
himself. Now, I’ll say nothing
more. Will you come?”
“It will look very strange.”
“In fact—most unusual.”
“Won’t there be a—a—scandal,
“Sure to be. Will you come?”
“You must have a reason,” she
said. “I will come.”
We started that evening, nine
hours after My Lord, going separately
to the station, and meeting
on the boat. All through the
journey she scarcely spoke a word.
When we were nearing Paris, she
“Do you know where he is?”
“No; but I can trace him,” I
So I could. I bought a paper,
and found that Prince and Princess
Ferdinand had, the day before,
proceeded from Paris en route for
Glottenberg. Of course Daynesborough
had followed them.
“We must go on,” I said.
“Because your husband has
She obeyed me like a lamb;
but there was a look about her
pretty mouth that made me doubt
if Daynesborough would find her
like a lamb.
We went to the principal hotel
in Glottenberg. I introduced
Lady Daynesborough as my
sister, Miss Jacynth Jason, and
stated that she was in weak
health, and would keep her room
for the present. Then I sallied
forth, intent on discovering Dumergue;
he would be able to
post me up in the state of affairs.
On my way, I met the king taking
his daily drive. He was a
dour, sour-looking, pasty-faced
creature, and I quite understood
that he would fail to appreciate
many of my prince’s characteristics.
A priest sat by him, and
a bystander told me it was the
king’s confessor (the Glottenberg
family are all of the old church),
and added that the king’s confessor
was no mean power in the
state. I asked him where M.
Dumergue was lodged, and he directed
me to Prince Ferdinand’s
palace, which stood in a pleasant
park in the suburbs of the town.
I found Dumergue in a melancholy
condition, though he professed
to be much cheered by the
sight of me.
“My dear fellow,” he said,
“you, if anybody, can get us out
“I never knew such people,”
said I. “What’s up now?”
“There has been a—an explosion.
Did you ever hear of
I said no, and Dumergue told
me of the princess’ former penchant
“Well?” said I.
“Well, she’s invited him here,
and he’s now in the palace. You
may imagine the prince’s feelings.”
“I suppose the prince can turn
Dumergue shook his head dolefully.
“She holds the trumps,” he
answered. “Jason, she’s a clever
woman. We thought we had
hoodwinked her. When Daynesborough
turned up, looking, I’m
bound to say, very sheepish, the
prince was really quite annoyed.
He told the princess that she must
send him away. She refused
flatly. ‘Then I shall consult my
brother,’ says the prince. ‘I
shall consult the king too,’ said
the princess. ‘It’s indecent,’ said
he. ‘It’s not as bad as taking my
ladies to masked balls in disguise,’
she answered. ‘Oh, you think
you imposed on me—you and
that clumsy young animal (forgive
me, my dear fellow), Jason. I
am not an idiot. I knew all the
time. And now the king will
know too—unless Lord Daynesborough
stays just as long as I
“Confound her!” said I.
“There it is,” he went on.
“The prince is furious, the princess
triumphant, and Daynesborough
“What does he mean to do?”
He shrugged his shoulders.
“Who can tell? She’s a little
devil. Fancy pretending to be
deceived, and then turning on us
like this! You should have
heard her describe you, my
boy!” and Dumergue chuckled
in sad pleasure.
I object to being ridiculed,
especially by women. I determined
to take a hand in the
game. I wondered if they knew
that Daynesborough was married.
“I suppose this young Daynesborough
“Well, he ought to. He’s got
nothing to lose; but he seems
a melancholy, glum creature. I
think he must be one of the king’s
“Or married, perhaps?” I suggested
“Oh, no! She wouldn’t have
him here, if he were married.”
I saw that Dumergue did not
yet appreciate the princess in
whose household he had the
honor to serve.
“She won’t compromise herself,
“Not she!” he replied regretfully.
“She may compromise
I rebuked him for his cynicism,
and promised to consider and let
him know if anything occurred to
me. My hope lay in Daynesborough.
I could see that he
was galant malgré lui, and I
thought I could persuade him
that he had done all that his mistaken
promise fairly entailed on
him; or, if I could not convince
him, I had a suspicion that his
wife might, could, and would, in
a very peremptory fashion, if I
brought about an encounter between
them. I was full of eagerness,
for, apart from my zeal
in the cause of morality and
domestic happiness, I did not
approve of being called a clumsy
young animal. It was neither
true nor witty; and surely abuse
ought to be one or the other, if it
is to be distinguished from mere
I have been told, by those who
know the place, that Glottenberg
is not, as a rule, a very exciting
residence. But for the next four-and-twenty
hours I, at least, had
no reason to grumble at a lack of
The play began, if I may so
express myself, by the princess
sending for the doctor. The
doctor, having heard from the
princess what she wanted to do,
told her what she ought to do;
of course I speak from conjecture.
He prescribed a visit to
her country villa for a week or
two, plenty of fresh air, complete
repose, and freedom from worry.
Dumergue told me that the princess
considered that the terms of
this prescription entailed a temporary
separation from her husband,
and that the prince had
agreed to remain in Glottenberg.
The princess started for her villa
at twelve o’clock on Wednesday
morning. The distance was but
fifteen miles, and she traveled by
road in her own carriage, although
the main line of railway from
Glottenberg to Paris passed within
two miles of her destination.
At one o’clock Lord Daynesborough
was received by Prince
Ferdinand, having requested an
interview for the purpose of taking
his leave, as he left for Paris
by the five o’clock train. Everybody
knew that the prince and
Daynesborough were not on cordial
terms; but this fact hardly
explained Daynesborough’s extreme
embarrassment and obvious
discomfort during the brief
conversation. Dumergue escorted
him from the prince’s presence,
and said that he was shaking like
an aspen-leaf or an ill-made
At three o’clock I went to the
hotel, and had an interview with
Lady Daynesborough. I then
returned to the palace, and made
a communication to the prince.
The prince was distinctly perturbed.
“I never thought she would go
so far,” he said. “It’s not that
she cares twopence about Daynesborough.”
“To what, then, sir, do you
“Temper! all temper, Mr.
Jason! She is angry about that
wretched ball, and she wants to
“Her Royal Highness is, however,
giving a handle to her
enemies,” I ventured to suggest.
“She must come back to-night,”
said he. “I won’t be made to
look like a fool.”
“My plan will, I hope, dispose
of Lord Daynesborough. If so,
Your Royal Highness might join
“I shan’t do anything of the
sort. I shall have her brought
Apparently there was a reserve
of resolution latent somewhere in
this indolent gentleman.
“Will you go yourself, sir?”
“No. You must do it.”
“I, sir? Surely, M. Dumergue——”
“Dumergue’s afraid of her.
Will you bring her back?”
“Supposing she won’t come?”
“I didn’t request you to ask
her to come. I requested you to
I looked at him inquiringly.
He inhaled a mouthful of smoke,
and added, with a nod:
“Yes, if necessary.”
“Will Your Royal Highness
hold me harmless from the king—or
“No. I can’t. Will you do
“With pleasure, sir.”
At ten minutes to five, Lady
Daynesborough, heavily veiled,
and I drove up to the station in a
hired cab, and hid ourselves in
the third-class waiting room. At
five minutes to five, Lord Daynesborough
arrived. He wore a scarf
up to his nose, and a cap down to
his eyes, and walked to the station,
unattended and without luggage.
He got into a second-class smoking
carriage—one of the long
compartments divided into separate
boxes by intervening partitions
reaching within a yard of
the roof, a gang-way running
down the middle. On seeing him
enter, I caught the guard, gave
him twenty marks, and told him to
admit no one except myself and
my companion into that carriage.
Then I hauled Lady Daynesborough
in, and we sat down at
the opposite end to that occupied
by her husband.
The train started. It was only
five-and-twenty minutes’ run to
the station for the princess’ villa.
There was no time to lose.
“Are you ready?” I whispered.
“Yes,” she answered, her voice
trembling a little.
We rose, walked along, and sat
down opposite to Lord Daynesborough.
He was looking out of
the window, although it was dark,
and did not turn.
“Lord Daynesborough,” said I,
“you have forgotten your ticket.”
And I held out a through ticket
He started as if he had been
“Who the devil——” he began.
“Yes,” said I. “Here’s your
“I thought you were in England,”
“No, I am here.”
“Spying on my actions?”
“Acquainted with them.”
“I’ll have no interference, sir.
If you know me, you will kindly
be silent, and leave me to myself.”
Time was passing.
“You are going to Paris with
this lady,” said I.
“You’re insolent, sir—you and
“Don’t say what you’ll regret.
She’s your wife.”
Well, of course he was very
much in the wrong, and looked
uncommonly ridiculous to boot.
Still, the way he collapsed was
rather craven. I withdrew for
five minutes. Then I returned,
and held out the ticket again. He
“If you will leave us for five
minutes, Lady Daynesborough?”
She went into the next box.
Then I said:
“Now, we’ve only ten minutes.
We’re going to change clothes.
I took off my coat.
“By God, I’ll not stand this!”
And he rose.
In a moment I had him by the
collar, and was presenting a pistol
at his head.
“No nonsense!” I whispered.
“Off with them!”
He might have known I would
not shoot him in his wife’s presence;
but I could and would
have undressed him with my own
hands. Perhaps he guessed this.
“Let me go,” he muttered.
I released him, and he took off
The train began to slacken
speed. I called to Lady Daynesborough,
who rejoined us.
“You have fulfilled your promise,”
said I to the young man.
“And,” I added, turning to her,
“I have fulfilled mine. Good-night!”
I opened the door, and jumped
out as we entered the station. I
stood waiting till the train started
again, but Lord Daynesborough
remained in his place. I wonder
what passed on that journey. She
was a plucky girl, and I can only
trust she gave him what he deserved.
At any rate, he never, so
far as I heard, ran away again.
I asked my way to the villa,
and reached it after half an hour’s
walking. I did not go in by the
lodge gates, but climbed the
palings, and reached the door
by way of the shrubberies. I
knocked softly. A man opened
the door instantly. He must have
“Is it Milord?” he said in
“Yes,” I answered, entering
“You are expected, Milord.”
I did not know his voice, and
it was dark in the passage.
“I am wet,” I said. “Take me
to a fire.”
“There is one in the pantry,”
he answered, leading the
We reached the pantry, and he
turned to light the gas.
Looking at me in the full blaze,
he started back, then scrutinized
me closely, then exclaimed:
“What? You are not——”
“Oh, yes, I am! I am Lord
“It’s a lie. You are a robber—a——”
“I am Lord Daynesborough—Lord
At each repetition I advanced
a step nearer; at the last I produced
my trusty pistol, at the same
time holding out a bank-note in
the other hand.
He took the note.
“You will stay here,” I said,
“for the next two hours. You
will not come out, whatever happens.
Is there anyone else in the
“One maid, Milord, and a man
in the stables.”
“Where is the maid?”
“In the kitchen.”
“Is the man within hearing?”
“Good! Is the princess upstairs?”
“She is, Milord.”
I made him direct me to the
room, and left him. I thought I
would neglect the maid, and go
straight to work. I went up to
the door to which I had been
directed, and knocked.
“Come in!” said the gentle,
I went in. The princess was
lying on a sofa by the fire, reading
a paper-covered book. She turned
her head with a careless glance.
“Ah, you have come! Well, I
almost hoped you would be afraid.
I really don’t want you.”
This reception would probably
have annoyed Lord Daynesborough.
“Why should I be afraid?”
I asked, mimicking Daynesborough’s
voice as well as I could.
Meanwhile I quietly locked the
“Why, because of your wife. I
know you tremble before her.”
I advanced to the sofa.
“I have no wife,” I said; “and,
seeing what I do, I thank God
She leaped up with a scream,
loud and shrill.
A door opposite me opened, and
a girl rushing in, crying:
“Go back!” I said. “Go
She paused, looking bewildered.
I walked quickly up to her.
“Go back and keep quiet;”
and, taking her by the shoulders,
I pushed her back into the next
The princess rushed to the other
door, and, on finding it locked,
“Nobody,” I remarked, “should
embark on these things who has
not good nerves.”
She recognized me now. Her
fright had been purely physical—I
suppose she thought I was a
burglar. When she knew me, she
came forward in a dignified way,
sat down on the sofa, and said:
“Explain your conduct, sir,
if you are in a condition to do
“I am sober, madame,” said I;
“and I have two messages for
“You present yourself in a
strange way. Pray be brief,” and
she glanced anxiously at the
“Time does not press, madame,”
said I. “Nobody will come.”
“Nobody will—— What do
you mean? I expect nobody.”
“Precisely, madame—and nobody
Her ivory fan broke between
her fingers with a sharp click.
“What do you want?” she said.
“To deliver my messages.”
“First, Lord Daynesborough
offers his apologies for being
compelled to leave for Paris without
tendering his farewell.”
She turned very red, and then
very white. But she restrained
“And the other?”
“His Royal Highness requests
that you will avail yourself of my
escort for an immediate return to
“And his reasons?”
“Oh, madame, as if I should
“You are merely insolent, sir.
I shall not go to-night.”
“His Royal Highness was very
She looked at me for a moment.
“Why had Lord Daynesborough
to leave so suddenly?” she
“His wife wished it.”
“Did she know where he was?”
“Apparently. She followed
him to Glottenberg. She arrived
“Now I see—now I understand!
I had to deal with a
“You must bestow trust, if you
desire not to be deceived, madame.
You dared to use me as
“You had had practice in the
The princess had a turn for
repartee. I could not have set
her right without quite an argument.
I evaded the point.
“And yet Your Royal Highness
thought me a clumsy animal!”
“Oh,” she said, with a slight
laugh, “it’s wounded amour propre,
is it? Come, Mr. Jason, I apologize.
You are all that is brilliant
and delightful—and English.”
“Your Royal Highness is too
“And now, Mr. Jason, your
device being accomplished, I
suppose I may bid you good-night?”
“I regret, madame, that I must
press the prince’s request on your
She sighed her usual impatient,
petulant little sigh.
“Oh, you are tiresome! Pray
“I cannot go without you,
“I am not going—and my
establishment does not admit of
my entertaining gentlemen,” she
said, with smiling effrontery.
“Your Royal Highness refuses
to allow me to attend you to
“I order you to leave this
“Then I must add that I am
commissioned, if necessary, to
convey your Royal Highness to
“To convey me?”
“You dare to threaten me?”
“I follow my instructions.
Will you come, madame, or——”
“Will you be taken?”
I was not surprised at her vexation.
Dumergue had, in his
haste, called her “a little devil.”
She looked it then.
“You mean,” she asked slowly,
“that you will use force?”
“Then I yield,” she said, after
I called the maid, and told her
to order the carriage in five
minutes. The silence was unbroken
till it came round. The
princess went into her room, and
returned in cloak and hat, carrying
a large muff. She was
“Ah, Mr. Jason, what can a
woman do, against men? I am
ready. We will go alone. The
servants can follow.”
I handed her into the coach,
ordering the coachman to drive
fast. He was the only man with
us, and we were alone inside.
I began, perhaps stupidly, to
apologize for my peremptory
conduct. The princess smiled
“I like a man of resolution,”
she said, edging, I thought, a
trifle nearer me, her hands nestling
in her muff.
Apparently she was going to
try the effect of amiability. I
was prepared for this. She would
not tempt me in that way.
“Your Royal Highness is most
“Oh, that is my way,” she answered,
with the kindest possible
glance, and she came nearer still.
“You are a most generous
She turned to me with a dazzling
“Don’t say foe,” she said, with
a pretty lingering on the last
word. And as she said it, I felt a
knife driven hard into my ribs,
and the muff dropped to the
“God in heaven!” I cried.
The princess flung herself into
the corner of the carriage.
she laughed, merrily, musically,
I tried to clutch her; I believe I
should have killed her, I was half
mad. But the blood was oozing
fast from the wound—only the
knife itself held my life in.
Things danced before my eyes,
and my hands fell on my
The carriage stopped, the door
opened, and the coachman appeared.
It was all like a dream
“Take his feet,” said the princess.
The man obeyed, and between
them they lifted, or, rather,
hauled and pushed, me out of the
carriage, and laid me by the roadside.
I was almost in a faint, and
the last thing I was conscious of
was a pretty, mocking mouth,
“Won’t you escort me, Mr.
Jason?”—and then added to the
coachman, “To Glottenberg—quick!”
I did not die. I was picked
up by some good folk, and
well tended. Dumergue arrived
and looked after me, and in a
couple of weeks I was on my
“Now for Glottenberg!” said I.
Dumergue shook his head.
“You won’t be admitted to the
“No. They have made it up—for
the time. There must be no
scandal. Come, Jason; surely
you see that?”
“She tried to murder me.”
“Oh, quite, quite!” said he.
“But you can’t prosecute her.”
“And I am to be turned adrift
by the prince?”
“What use would it be to return?
No doubt you annoyed
her very much.”
“I wish you had undertaken
“I know her. I should have
“It is, then, the prince’s wish
that I should not return?”
“Yes. But he charges me to
say that he will never forget your
I was disgusted. But I would
force myself on no man.
“Then I’ll go home.”
“That will be much best,” he
answered, with revolting alacrity.
“I say, Dumergue, what does
the princess say about me?”
“She laughs every time your
name is mentioned, and——”
“The devil take her!”
“She says you may keep the
I have it still, a little tortoise-shell-handled
thing, with a
sharp—a very sharp—point. On
the blade is engraved, in German
letters, “Sophia.” It is a pretty
toy, and in its delicacy, its tininess,
its elegance, its seeming
harmlessness, and its very sharp
point, it reminds me much of
Princess Ferdinand of Glottenberg.