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Title: Who Goes There!
Author: Chambers, Robert W. (Robert William), 1865-1933
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Who Goes There!" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

[Illustration: "Who goes there!"]

                            WHO GOES THERE!

                           ROBERT W. CHAMBERS


                         WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY
                              A. I. KELLER

                        D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
                          NEW YORK AND LONDON

                          COPYRIGHT, 1915, BY
                           ROBERT W. CHAMBERS

                Printed in the United States of America

                          _J. HAMBLEN SEARS_

  _Joseph! I've known you now for many years;
    You are the Hero of this pretty story;
  In him your every virtue reappears
    Lighting his way along the road to glory.

  All you possess adorns this Hero gay,
    Your fatal beauty, curly hair, and so forth;
  Like you he's always ready, night or day,
    To pack his doggy clothes and ties and go forth.

  No winsome maid beneath a summer sky,
    Innured to prudence, modesty, and duty
  Would dare demur or hesitate to fly
    With such a manly specimen of beauty.

  Accept, my friend, this tribute to your worth
    As publisher, explorer, lover, fighter,
  For men like you were destined from their birth
    To make a millionaire of any writer._

                                          _R. W. C._

                           _WHO GOES THERE!_

  _Not with indifferent or with flippant hand
    Draw the curtain's corner to disclose
  A rose, a leaf, a path through this sad land
    Untrampled yet by foes.

  Out of the Past--the Heart's last Hermitage--
    A wistful Phantom glides to me again
  Here where I pace that solitary cage
    They call, The World of Men.
  In vain she mirrors me the Golden Age;
    Vain is her Voice of Spring in wood and glen;
  The winter sunlight falls across my page
    Gilding a broken pen.

  Withered the magic gardens which were mine;
    Eden, in embers, blackens in the sun;
  Rooting amid crushed roses the Wild Swine
    Still root, and spare not one.

  Village and spire and scented forest path,
    Pastures and brooks, meadows and hills and fens
  Heard not the secret whispering in Gath
    There where the Gray Boar dens,
  Till burst his dreadful clamour on the Rhine
    And all the World shrank deafened by the roar
  Aghast before the out-rush of Wild Swine
    Led by the great Gray Boar._

  _Fallen the cloud-capped castles which were mine;
    Cities in ashes whiten in the sun;
  Rending the ruined shrines, the Rhenish Swine
    Still rend, and spare not one._


The Crown Prince is partly right; the majority in the world is against
him and what he stands for; but not against Germany and the Germans.

He professes surprise at the attitude of the United States. That
attitude is the natural result of various causes among which are the

Distrust of any aggressor by a nation inclined toward peace.

Disgust at the "scrap of paper" episode.

Resentment at the invasion of Belgium.

Contempt for the Imperial Government which is industriously screwing the
last penny of "indemnity" out of a ruined nation, which the people of
the United States are taxing their private means to keep from

Further back there are other reasons.

For thirty years the press of Germany has seldom missed an opportunity
to express its contempt for Americans. Any American who has ever lived
in Germany or who has read German newspapers during the last thirty
years is aware of the tone of the German press concerning America and
Americans. No innuendoes have been too vulgar, no sneers too brutal for
the editors of these papers, and, presumably for the readers.

Also Americans do not forget the attitude of the Imperial Government
during the Spanish war. The bad manners of a German Admiral are bearing

Imperialism we Americans do not understand, but it need not make us
unfriendly to empires.

But we do understand when manners are bad, or when a military caste,
which maintains its traditions of personal honour by violence, becomes
arrogant to the point of brutality.

A false notion of personal honour is alone enough to prevent a
sympathetic understanding between two peoples.

America is not an enemy to Germany, only is it inexorably opposed to any
Government which breaks faith; and which enthrones above all other gods
the god of violence.

For the German soldiers who are dying in this Hohenzollern-Hapsburg war
we have only sympathy and pity. We know they are as brave as any
soldiers; that cruelty in the German Army is in no greater proportion
than it is in any army.

But also we know that the cause of Imperial Germany is wrong; her
civilization is founded on propositions impossible for any American to
accept; her aims, ambitions, and ideals antagonistic to the progress to
communal and individual liberty as we understand the terms. And that
settles the matter for us.


  CHAPTER                                                       PAGE

      I. IN THE MIST                                               1

     II. THE MAN IN GREY                                           9

    III. TIPPERARY                                                26

     IV. BAD DREAMS                                               37

      V. KAREN                                                    46

     VI. MR. AND MRS                                              62

    VII. THE SATCHEL                                              83

   VIII. AT SEA                                                   91

     IX. H. M. S. WYVERN                                         106

      X. FORCE                                                   115

     XI. STRATEGY                                                136

    XII. IN THE RAIN                                             150

   XIII. THE DAY OF WRATH                                        170

    XIV. HER ENEMY                                               174

     XV. IN CONFIDENCE                                           176

    XVI. THE FOREST LISTENS                                      196

   XVII. HER FIRST CAMPAIGN                                      217

  XVIII. LESSE FOREST                                            226

    XIX. THE LIAR                                                248

     XX. BEFORE DINNER                                           257

    XXI. SNIPERS                                                 271

   XXII. DRIVEN GAME                                             288

  XXIII. CANDLE LIGHT                                            299

   XXIV. A PERSONAL AFFAIR                                       315

    XXV. WHO GOES THERE!                                         326

   XXVI. AMICUS DEI                                              338

                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


    "Who goes there!"                                 _Frontispiece_

    "'If you'll say you'll do it, ... I'll not have those
    men shot'"                                                    20

    "There came a light, soft touch on his ring-finger"           52

    "The chauffeur hit him ... two heavy, merciless
    blows, hurling him senseless across the stairs"               68

    "'Kervyn! Kervyn--Think what you are doing!--'"              120

    "Standing so beside the pool, breathing the incense of
    the roses, she thought of the dream"                         276

    "The Pulpit resounded with the rifle-fire of its little
    garrison"                                                    296

    "The impact hurled von Reiter against the table"             318

    "And last of all came Karen with Guild on foot beside
    her"                                                         336

                            WHO GOES THERE!

                               CHAPTER I

                              IN THE MIST

They had selected for their business the outer face of an old garden
wall. There were red tiles on the coping; dusty roadside vines half
covered the base. Where plaster had peeled off a few weather-beaten
bricks showed. Bees hummed in the trampled herbage.

Against this wall they backed the first six men. One, a mere boy, was
crying, wiping his frightened eyes on his shirt-sleeve.

The dry crash of the volley ended the matter; all the men against the
wall collapsed. Presently one of them, the boy who had been crying,
moved his arm in the grass. A rifle spoke instantly, and he moved no

There came a low-spoken word of command, the firing squad shouldered
rifles, wheeled, and moved off; and out of the sea-grey masses of
infantry another squad of execution came marching up, smartly.

A dozen men, some in sabots, trousers, and dirty collarless shirts, some
in well-cut business suits and straw hats, and all with their wrists
tied behind them, stood silently awaiting their turns. One among them, a
young man wearing a golf-cap, knickerbockers, heather-spats, and an
absolutely colourless face, stood staring at the tumbled heaps of
clothing along the foot of the wall as though stupified.

Six peasants went first; the men more smartly attired were to wait a
little longer it appeared.

The emotionless and methodical preparations, the brisk precision of the
operation, the cheerful celerity of the firing squad made it the more
terrifying, stunning the victims to immobility.

The young man in the golf-cap and knickerbockers clenched his tied
hands. Not an atom of colour remained in cheeks or lips, and he stood
with face averted while the squad of execution was busy with its

There seemed to be some slight disorder along the wall--a defiant voice
was raised hoarsely cursing all Germans; another, thin and hysterical,
cheered for Belgium and the young King. Also this firing squad must have
aimed badly, for bayonet and rifle-butt were used afterward and some
delay occurred; and an officer, revolver swinging, prowled along the
foot of the wall, kicking inquiringly at the dead heaps of heavy flesh
that had collapsed there.

Houses lining the single village street began to leak smoke; smoke
writhed and curled behind closed window-panes. Here and there a mounted
Uhlan forced his big horse up on the sidewalk and drove his lance butt
through the window glass.

Already the street was swimming in thin strata of smoke; the sea-grey
uniforms of the German infantry seemed part of the haze; only the faces
of the soldiery were visible--faces without bodies, thousands of flat,
detached faces, thousands of little pig eyes set in a blank and foggy
void. And over everything in the close, heavy air brooded the sour
stench of a sweat-soaked, unwashed army.

A third squad of execution came swinging up, apparently out of nowhere,
their heavy half-boots clumping in unison on the stony street.

The young man in the golf-cap and knickerbockers heard them coming and
bit his bloodless lip.

After a moment the rhythm of the heavy boots ceased. The street became
very silent, save where window glass continually fell tinkling to the
sidewalk and the feathery whisper of flames became more audible from
within the row of empty houses.

The young man lifted his eyes to the sombre and sunless sky. High up
there above the mist and heavy bands of smoke he saw the feathery tops
of tall trees, motionless.

Presently through the silence came the clatter of hoofs; Uhlans cantered
past, pennons whipping from lance heads; then a soft two-toned
bugle-call announced an automobile; and presently it loomed up, huge,
through the parted ranks of the infantry, a great grey, low-purring
bulk, slowing, halting, still purring.

A grey-clad general officer sat in the tonneau, a grey-uniformed hussar
was seated beside the grey-liveried chauffeur.

As the car stopped several officers were already beside the
running-board, halted stiffly at attention. The general officer, his
cigar between his gloved fingers, leaned over the edge of the tonneau
and said something in a very quiet voice.

Instantly a slim, stiff infantry captain saluted, wheeled sharply, and
walked straight to the little file of prisoners who stood with their
wrists tied behind their backs, looking vacantly at the automobile.

"Which is the prisoner-hostage who says he is American?" he snapped out
in his nasal Prussian voice.

The young man who wore a golf-cap took a short step forward, hesitated.



"Fall in again!"

The officer nodded to a sergeant of infantry, and a squad of men shoved
the prisoners into single file, facing not the fatal wall, but westward,
along the street.

"March!" said somebody. And the next moment again: "Halt!" rang out with
the snapping brevity of a cracked whip. The general officer leaned from
the grey tonneau and looked steadily along the file of hostages until
his glance fell upon the young man in the golf-cap.

"What is your name?" he asked quietly in English.

"My name is Guild."

"The rest?"

"Kervyn Guild."

"You say you are American?"


The general officer looked at him for a moment longer, then said
something to the hussar aide-de-camp.

The aide threw open the car door and jumped out. A lieutenant took
command of the escort. The hussar whispered instructions, turned and
came to attention beside the running-board, then, at a nod from the
general officer, jumped up beside the chauffeur. There came the
soft-toned, mellow warning of the bugle; the grey machine glided off
into the mist; the prisoners and escort followed it, marching briskly.

As they passed the end of the street two houses on their right suddenly
roared up in one vast, smoke-shot tower of flame, and a brassy glare
lighted up the mist around them.

Somewhere near by a woman began to scream; farther down the street, more
windows and doors were being beaten in. From farther away, still, came
the strains of military music, resonant, full, magnificent. A detail
passed with spades to bury the dead who lay under the wall. All was
order, precision, and cheerful despatch. The infantry column, along the
halted flanks of which the prisoners were now being marched, came to
attention. Company after company marked time, heavily; shouldered
rifles. Uhlans in file came spurring through the centre of the street; a
cyclist followed, rifle slung across his back, sitting at ease on his
machine and gazing curiously about.

Out of the end of the village street marched the prisoners and their
escort, but presently halted again.

Directly in front of them stood the grey automobile drawn up by the
roadside before a pair of iron gates. The gates swung from high stucco
walls. On top of the walls were soldiers sitting, rifle on knee; a
machine gun commanded the drive, and across the gravel more soldiers
were digging a trench, setting posts, and stringing barbed wire which
they unwound from great wooden reels.

Through the gates escort and prisoners threaded their way, across a lawn
already trampled by cavalry, and straight on toward a pleasant looking
and somewhat old-fashioned house set amid older trees and shrubbery,
badly broken.

Half a dozen grey-clad staff officers were eating and drinking on the
low stone terrace; their horses picketed on the lawn, nibbled the
crushed shrubbery. Sentries pacing the terrace and on guard at the door
came to attention as the lieutenant in charge of the escort marched his
prisoners in.

At a word from him an infantryman went from prisoner to prisoner untying
the cords that bound their wrists behind them. Then they were marched
into an old-fashioned drawing-room on the left, sentries were placed,
the remainder of the escort sat down on the floor with their loaded
rifles on their laps and their backs against the wall. Their officer,
the lieutenant, walked across the hallway to the room on the left, where
the sentry admitted him, then closed the door and resumed his heavy
pacing of the black-tiled hall.

The sergeant in charge of the escort lifted his helmet with its
grey-cloth covering, scratched his bullet head, yawned. Then he said,
jerking a huge thumb toward the drawing-room: "There's a good wall in
the garden behind the house. They'll make the fruit grow all the
better--these Belgians."

The lieutenant, coming out of the room opposite, overheard him.

"What your crops need," he said in a mincing Berlin voice, "is plenty of
good English filth to spade under. See that you bring in a few

And he went into the drawing-room where the prisoners stood by the
windows looking out silently at a great pall of smoke which was hanging
over the village through which they had just been marched.

"Which of you is the alleged American?" said the lieutenant in
hesitating but correct English.

The young man in knickerbockers rose from a brocaded armchair.

"Follow me. General von Reiter does you the honour to question you."

The young man looked the lieutenant straight in the eye and smiled,
stiffly perhaps, because his face was still pallid and the breath of
death still chilled it.

"The honour," he said in an agreeably modulated voice, "is General von
Reiter's. But I fear he won't realize it."

"What's that!" said the lieutenant sharply.

But young Guild shrugged his shoulders. "You wouldn't understand either.
Besides you are too talkative for an underling. Do your duty--if you
know how."

"Swine of a Yankee," said the lieutenant, speaking slowly and with
painful precision, "do you suppose you are in your own sty of a
Republic? Silence! A Prussian officer commands you! March!"

Guild dropped his hands into the pockets of his belted jacket. "You
little shrimp," he said good humouredly, and followed the officer, who
had now drawn his sword.

Out into the hall they filed, across it to the closed door. The sentry
on duty there opened it; the lieutenant, very red in the face, delivered
his prisoner, then, at a nod from the grey-clad officer who was sitting
behind a writing desk, saluted, faced about, and marched out. The door
closed sharply behind him.

                               CHAPTER II

                            THE MAN IN GREY

Young Guild looked steadily at the man in grey, and the man in grey
gazed as steadily back from behind his desk.

He was a man of forty-five, lean, well built, blond, and of regular
features save that his cheek-bones were a trifle high, which seemed to
crowd his light blue eyes, make them narrower, and push them into a very
slight slant. He had the well-groomed aspect of a Prussian officer, dry
of skin, clean-shaven save for the mustache _en croc_, which his bony
but powerful and well-kept hands absently caressed at intervals.

His forehead was broad and benevolent, but his eyes modified the
humanity and his mouth almost denied it--a mouth firm without
shrewdness, not bad, not cruel for the sake of cruelty, yet moulded in
lines which promised no hope other than that iron justice which knows no

"Mr. Guild?"

"Yes, General."

General von Reiter folded his bony hands and rested them on the blotter.

"You say that you are American?"


"How came you to be among the Yslemont hostages?"

"I was stopping at the Hotel Poste when the Uhlans and cyclists suddenly
appeared. The captain of Uhlans took the Burgomaster with whom I had
been playing chess, myself, the notary, and other leading citizens."

"Did you tell him you are American?"

"Yes. But he paid no attention."

"Had you a passport?"


"Other papers to establish your identity?"

"A few business letters from New York. They read them, but told me they
were of no use to me."

"Why did you not communicate with your nearest Consul or with the
American Minister in Brussels?"

"They refused me the use of telephone and telegraph. They said that I am
Belgian and properly liable to be taken as hostage for the good
behaviour of Yslemont."

General von Reiter's hand was lifted meditatively to his mustache. He
said: "What happened after you were refused permission to communicate
with the American representatives?"

"We were all in the dining-room of the Hotel Poste under guard. At the
Burgomaster's dictation I was writing out a proclamation warning the
inhabitants of Yslemont not to commit any act of violence against the
German soldiery and explaining that we were held as hostages for their
good behaviour and that a shot fired at a German meant a dead wall and a
squad of execution for us and the destruction of Yslemont for them--" He
flushed, hesitated.

"Continue," said the general.

"While I was still writing the shots were fired. We all went to the
window and we saw Uhlans galloping across the fields after some peasants
who were running into the woods. Afterward two stretchers came by with
Germans lying in them. After that an officer came and cursed us and the
soldiers tied our hands behind our backs. We sat there in the
dining-room until the Uhlans came riding into the street with their
prisoners tied by ropes to their saddles. Then a major of infantry came
into the dining-room and read our sentence to us. Then they marched us
out into the fog."

The general crossed his spurred boots under the desk and lay back in his
chair, looking at Guild all the while.

"So you are American, Mr. Guild?"

"Yes, General."

"In business in New York?"


"What business?"

"Real estate."


"Union Square, West."

"What is the name of the firm in which you are associated?"

"Guild and Darrel."

"Is that your partner's name?"

"Yes. Henry Darrel."

"Why are you here in Belgium?"

"I was making a foot tour in the Ardennes."

"Your business vacation?"

"Yes. I was to meet my partner in Luxembourg and return to New York with

"You and your partner are both absent from New York at the same time?"


"How is that?"

"Real estate in New York is quiet. There is practically no business

The general nodded. "Yes," he said, "much of what you tell me has been
corroborated. In the Seegard Regiment of Infantry Number 569 you were
recognized by several non-commissioned officers and men while you stood
with the hostages awaiting--ah--justice," he added drily.

"Recognized?" repeated Guild.

"The soldiers who recognized you had served in New York hotels as clerks
or waiters, I believe. The captain of that company, in consequence, very
properly reported the matter to Colonel von Eschbach, who telephoned to
me. And I am here to consider the matter."

Then, folding his arms and looking hard at Guild out of narrowing eyes
that began to slant again:

"The hostages of Yslemont have justly forfeited their lives. Two of my
officers have been murdered there in the streets. The law is plain. Is
there any reason why these hostages should not pay the proper penalty?"

"The Burgomaster was in the act of dictating----"

"He should have dictated faster!"

"These gentlemen did not fire the shots----"

"But those over whom they exercised authority did!"

Guild fell silent and his features paled a little. The general watched
him in silence for a moment and an inquiring expression came into his
narrow eyes.

"Well?" he said at length.

Guild lifted his eyes.

"Well, sir," repeated the general. "I have said that there is no reason
why the hostages taken at Yslemont should not be turned over to the
squad of execution outside there in the hallway."

"I heard you say it."

The general looked at him curiously. "You have nothing to say?"


"Not for yourself?"


"As a matter of fact, Mr. Guild, what was your ultimate object in
passing through Yslemont?"

"I have already told you that I had intended to make a foot tour through
the Three Ardennes."

"_Had_ intended?"


"Was that still your intention when you were made prisoner?"

After a moment's hesitation: "No," said Guild in a low voice.

"You altered your plan?"


"You decided to employ your vacation otherwise?"



"I decided to enlist," said Guild. He was very white, now.



"In the British army?"

"The Belgian."

"Oh! So now you do not remind me that, as an American, you claim
exemption from the execution of the sentence?"

"I have said enough," replied Guild. A slight colour showed over his

"If I shoot the Burgomaster and the notary and the others in there,
ought I to let you go--on your own representations?"

"I have said enough," repeated Guild.

"Oh! So you refuse to plead any particular exemption on account of your

No answer.

"And you, by your silence, permit yourself to be implicated in the
responsibility of your fellow-hostages?"

No reply.

"Why?--Mr. Guild. Is it, perhaps, after all because you are not an
American in the strictest sense of that often misused term?"

There was no response.

"You were born in America?"


"Your father, perhaps, was born there?"


"Oh! And _his_ father?"


"Oh! You are, I see, quite candid, Mr. Guild."

"Yes, when necessary."

"I see. Very well, then. Where do you get your Christian name, Kervyn?
Is it an American name?"


"The name, Guild--is that an American name?"


"But--_is_ it _your_ name?"


"Was it, by chance, ever spelled a little differently--in times gone by,
Mr. Guild?"


"Oh! And how, in times gone by, was it spelled by your--grandfather?"

Guild looked him calmly in the eyes. "It was spelled Gueldres," he said.

"I see, I see. That _is_ interesting. Gueldres, Kervyn Gueldres. Why, it
sounds almost Belgian. Let me see--if I remember--there was such a
family inscribed in the Book of Gold. There was even a Kervyn of
Gueldres--a count, was he not?--Comte d'Yvoir--Count of Yvoir, Hastière,
and Lesse. Was he not--this Kervyn of Gueldres, many, many years ago?"

"I congratulate General von Reiter on his memory for such unimportant
history as that of Belgium," said Guild, reddening.

"Oh, we Germans are studious in our youth--and thorough. Nothing is too
unimportant to ignore and"--he smiled grimly--"nothing is too vast for
us to undertake--and accomplish."

He lifted his hand to his mustache again. "Mr. Guild," he said, "at the
elections in America you--ah--vote of course?"



Guild remained silent.

The general, stroking his mustache, said pleasantly: "The Belgian
nobility always interested me; it is so exclusive and there are so few
families of the _classe noble_. Except for those ten families who are
independent of Court favour--like the Croys and De Lignes--there seem to
be only about thirty families who possess the privileges of the Golden
Book. Is this not so?"

"General von Reiter appears to know."

The general seemed gratified at this corroboration of his own memory.
"And," he went on amiably, "this Belgian nobility is a real nobility.
Once of it, always a part of it. And, too, its code is so rigid, so
inexorably precise that it seems almost Prussian. For example, the code
of the Belgian aristocracy permits none of its members to go into any
commercial business, any trade--even forbids an entry into high finance.
Only the Church and Army are open to it; and in the Army only the two
Guides regiments and the Lancers are permitted to young men of the
aristocracy." He gazed almost mildly at the young man: "You are in
business, you tell me?"


"Oh! Then of course you have never been a soldier."

Guild was silent.

"_Have_ you ever served in the army?"


"Really! In what American regiment have you served?"

"In a militia regiment of cavalry--the 1st New York."

"How interesting. And--you have never served in the regular army?"

"N--" but Guild hesitated.

General von Reiter watched him intently.

"Did you reply in the negative, Mr. Guild?"

"No, I did not reply at all."

"Oh! Then would you be good enough to reply?"

"If--you insist."

"I insist."

"Very well," said Guild, reddening, "then I have served in the--Belgian

The general nodded without surprise: "In what regiment?"

"In the first regiment of Guides."

"You came from America to do this?"



"When I became of military age."

"Noblesse oblige?"

No reply.

"In other words, you are an American with all the Belgian aristocracy's
sense of responsibility to race and tradition. You are a good American,
but there are inherited instincts which sent you back to serve two years
with the colours--to serve a country which for ten hundred years your
race has defended. And--the Guides alone was open to a Gueldres--where,
in America, a Guild was free to choose. Monsieur, you are Belgian; and,
as a Belgian, you were properly seized as a hostage and properly
sentenced to pay the penalty for the murderous misbehaviour of your own
people! I approve the sentence. Have you anything to say?"


The general regarded him closely, then rose, came around the end of the
desk, walked across the room and halted directly in front of Guild.

"So you see there is no chance for you," he said, staring hard at him.

Guild managed to control his voice and speak clearly: "I see," he said.

"Suppose," said von Reiter, still staring at him, "I ask you to do me a

Guild's face was marble, but he managed to force a smile: "You ask a
favour of a prisoner a few moments before his execution?"

"I do. Will you grant it?"

"What is it?"

"Nothing dishonourable to a good--American."

"That is not enough; and you know it."

"Very well. I shall tell you then. I have a daughter in England. I can't
get her away from England--I can't get word to her. I--" suddenly his
dry, blond features twitched, but instantly the man had them under iron
control again, and he cleared his throat: "She is in England near
London. We are at war with England. I want my daughter out of the
country. I can't get her out. Go and get her for me!"

For a full minute the two men gazed at each other in silence. Then von
Reiter said: "I know enough of you. If you say you'll do it I'll free
the Burgomaster and the others in there--" he jerked his bony thumb
toward the hallway outside--"If you say you'll do it--if you say you'll
go to England, now, and find my daughter, and bring her here to me--or
conduct her to whatever point I designate, I'll not have those men shot;
I'll not burn the rest of Yslemont; I'll see that you are conducted to
the Dutch frontier unmolested after you carry out your engagements with
me. Will you do it?"

[Illustration: "'If you say you'll do it, ... I'll not have those men

Guild met his intent gaze with a gaze as searching:

"What is your daughter's name?"

"Her name is Karen."

"Where am I to find her?"

"Thirty miles out of London at Westheath. She is known there as Karen

"What!" said Guild sharply.

"She chose to be so known in her profession."

"Her profession?"

"She has been on the stage--against my wishes. She is preparing herself
further--contrary to my wishes. Until she disassociates herself from
that profession she will not use the name of von Reiter."

Guild nodded slowly: "_That_ is why your daughter is known as Karen

"That is why. She is a young girl--nineteen. She went to school in her
mother's country, Denmark. She imbibed notions there--and, later, in
England among art students and others. It is the well-born who succumb
most easily to nonsense once the discipline is relaxed. She has had her
way in spite of my authority. Now it is time for such insubordination to
cease. I wish to have my daughter back. I cannot get her. You
are--American--to all intents and purposes, and you would be under no
suspicion in England. Your appearance, your speech, your manners all are
above suspicion. You _can_ do this. I have made up my mind concerning
you, and I trust you. Will you go to England, find my daughter and bring
her back to me here; or, if I am ordered elsewhere, will you escort her
to my country place in Silesia which is called Rehthal?"

"Suppose I do not find her? Suppose I fail?"

"You will return here and report to me."

"If I fail and I return here and report my failure, does that mean the
execution of the gentlemen in the drawing-room yonder?"

"It does."

"And the destruction of Yslemont?"


"And--" the young man smiled--"incidentally it means my own execution,
does it not?"

"It does."

They gazed at each other with intense interest.

"Under such circumstances do you think I'll come back if I am not
successful?" inquired the younger man.

"I am satisfied that you will return if you say you will."

"Return to face my own execution?" repeated Guild, curiously. "You
believe that of me?--of a man about whom you know nothing--a man
who"--his animated features suddenly darkened and he caught his breath a
moment, then--"a man who considers your nation a barbarous one, your
rulers barbarians, your war inexcusable, your invasion of this land the
vilest example of treachery and dishonour that the world has ever
witnessed--you still believe that such a man might consider himself
bound to return here if unsuccessful and face one of your murdering
platoons? _Do_ you?" he repeated, the slightest intonation of violence
beginning to ring in the undertones of his voice.

Von Reiter's dry, blond features had become greyer and more set. His
light blue eyes never left the other; behind their pale, steady scrutiny
he seemed to be considering every word.

He drew in his breath, slowly; his very thin lips receded for a moment,
then the fixed tranquillity returned.

"We Germans," he said drily, "care nothing for what Europe may think of
us or say about us. Perhaps we are vandals, Goths, Huns--whatever you
call them. Perhaps we are barbarians. I think we _are_! For we mean to
scour the old world clean of its rottenness--cauterize it, cut out the
old sores of a worn-out civilization, scrape its surface clean of the
parasite nations. ... And, if _fire_ be necessary to burn out the last
traces--" His light blue eyes glimmered a very reflection of the
word--"then let fire pass. It has passed, before--God's Angel of the
Flaming Sword has returned again to lead us! What is a cathedral or
two--or pictures or foolish statues--or a million lives? Yes, if you
choose, we are barbarians. And we intend to plow under the accumulated
decay of the whole world, and burn up its rubbish and found our new
world on virgin earth. Yes, we _are_ barbarians. And our Emperor is a
barbarian. And God, who creates with one hand and destroys with the
other--God--autocrat of material creation, inexorable Over-Lord of
ultimate material annihilation, is the greatest barbarian of all! Under
His orders we are moving. In His name we annihilate! Amen!"

A dead silence ensued. And after it had lasted a little while the tall
Prussian lifted his hand absently to his mustache and touched it

"I am satisfied, whatever your opinion may be of me or of my people,
that you will return if you say you will, successful or otherwise. I
promise you immunity if you return with my daughter; I promise you a
wall and a file of men if you return unsuccessful. But, in either event,
I am satisfied that you will return. Will you go?"

"Yes," said Guild, thoughtfully. They stood for a moment longer, the
young man gazing absently out of the window toward the menacing smoke
pall which was increasing above Yslemont.

"You promise not to burn the remainder of the village?" he asked,
turning to look at von Reiter.

"I promise not to burn it if you keep your promise."

"I'll try.... And the Burgomaster, notary, magistrate, and the others
are to be released?"

"If you do what I ask."

"Very well. It's worth trying for. Give me my credentials."

"You need no written ones. Letters are unsafe. You will go to my
daughter, who has leased a small cottage at Westheath. You will say to
her that you come from me; that _the question which she was to decide on
the first of November must be decided sooner_, and that when she arrives
at Rehthal in Silesia she is to telegraph me through the General Staff
of her arrival. If I can obtain leave to go to Silesia I shall do so. If
not, I shall telegraph my instructions to her."

"Will that be sufficient for your daughter to place her confidence in a
man absolutely strange to her and accompany that man on a journey of
several days?" asked Guild, slightly astonished.

"Not quite sufficient," said von Reiter, his dry, blond visage slightly

He drew a rather plain ring from his bony finger: "See if you can wear
that," he said. "Does it fit you?"

Guild tried it on. "Well enough."

"Is there any danger of its slipping off?"

Guild tried it on another finger, which it fitted snugly.

"It looks like any other plain gold ring," he remarked.

"Her name is engraved inside."



There came a short pause. Then: "Do you know London?" asked von Reiter.


"Oh! You are likely to require a touring car. You'll find it difficult
to get. May I recommend the Edmeston Agency? It's about the only agency,
now, where any gasoline at all is obtainable. The Edmeston Agency. I use
it when I am in London. Ask for Mr. Louis Grätz."

After a moment he added, "My chauffeur brought your luggage, rücksack,
stick, and so forth, from Yslemont. You will go to the enemies' lines
south of Ostend in my car. One of my aides-de-camp will accompany you
and show you a letter of instructions before delivering you to the
enemies' flag of truce. You will read the letter, learn it by heart, and
return it to my aide, Captain von Klipper.

"There is a bedroom above. Go up there. Food will be sent you. Get what
sleep you can, because you are to leave at sunrise. Is this arrangement
agreeable to you--_Monsieur le Comte de Gueldres_?"

"Perfectly, General Baron von Reiter."

"Also. Then I have the honour to wish you good night and a pleasant

"I thank you and I have the honour to wish you the same," said Guild,
bowing pleasantly.

General von Reiter stood aside and saluted with stiff courtesy as the
young man passed out.

A few moments later a regimental band somewhere along the Yslemont
highway began to play "Polen Blut."

If blood were the theme, they ought to have played it well enough.

                              CHAPTER III


At noon on the following day Kervyn Guild wrote to his friend Darrel:


    Instead of joining you on the Black Erenz for the late August
    trout fishing I am obliged to go elsewhere.

    I have had a most unpleasant experience, and it is not ended,
    and I do not yet know what the outcome is to be.

    From the fact that I have not dated this letter it will be
    evident to you that I am not permitted to do so. Also you will
    understand that I have been caught somewhere in the war zone and
    that is why the name of the place from which I am writing you is
    omitted--by request.

    We have halted for luncheon at a wayside inn--the gentleman who
    is kind enough to accompany me, and I--and I have obtained this
    benevolent gentleman's authorization to write you whatever I
    please as long as I do NOT

    1st. Tell you where I am going.

    2d. Tell you where I am.

    3d. Tell you anything else that does not suit him.

    And he isn't a censor at that; he is just a very efficient,
    polite, and rather good-looking German officer serving as aide
    on the staff of a certain German major-general.

    Day before yesterday, after luncheon, I was playing a quiet game
    of chess with the Burgomaster of a certain Belgian village, and
    was taking a last look before setting out for Luxembourg on
    foot, rücksack, stick, and all, when--well, circumstances over
    which I had no control interrupted the game of chess. It was
    white to go and mate in three moves. The Burgomaster was playing
    black. I had him, Harry. Too bad, because he was the best player
    in--well in that neighbourhood. I opened with a Lopez and he
    replied most irregularly. It certainly was interesting. I am
    sorry that I couldn't mate him and analyze the game with him.
    However, thank Heaven, I did announce mate in three moves, and
    the old gentleman was still defiantly studying the situation. I
    admit he refused to resign.

    I left that village toward evening in a large, grey automobile.
    I and the gentleman who still accompanies me slept fairly well
    that night, considering the fact that a town was on fire all
    around us.

    In the morning we made slow progress in our automobile. Roads
    and fields were greenish grey with troops--a vast horde of them
    possessed the valleys; they enveloped the hills like fog-banks
    turning the whole world grey--infantry, artillery, cuirassiers,
    Uhlans, hussars--all mist colour from helmet to heel--and so are
    their waggons and guns and caissons and traction-engines and
    motor-cycles and armoured cars and aeroplanes.

    The latter are magnificent in an artistic sense--perfect
    replicas of giant pigeon-hawks, circling, planing, sheering the
    air or sailing high, majestic as a very lammergeier, fierce,
    relentless, terrible.

    My efficient companion who is reading this letter over my
    shoulder as I write it, and who has condescended to permit a
    ghost of a smile to mitigate, now and then, the youthful
    seriousness of his countenance, is not likely to object when I
    say to you that what I have seen of the German army on the march
    is astoundingly impressive.

    (He smiles again very boyishly and says he doesn't object.)

    Order, precision, a knowledge of the country absolutely
    unhesitating marks its progress. There is much singing in the
    infantry ranks. The men march well, their physique is fine, the
    cavalry are superbly mounted, the guns--(He shakes his head, so
    never mind the guns.)

    Their regimental bands are wonderful. It is a sheer delight to
    listen to them. They play everything from "Polen Blut" and
    "Sari," to Sousa, "Tannhäuser," and "A Hot Time," but I haven't
    yet heard "Tipperary." (He seems puzzled at this, but does not
    object.) I expect shortly to hear a band playing it. (I have to
    explain to my efficient companion that "Tipperary" is a tune
    which ought to take Berlin and Vienna _by storm_ when they hear
    it. It takes Berlin and Vienna to really appreciate good music.
    He agrees with me.)

    Yesterday we passed a convoy of prisoners, some were kilted. I
    was not permitted to speak to them--but, Oh, those wistful eyes
    of Scottish blue! I guess they understood, for they got all the
    tobacco I had left. (My companion is doubtful about this, but
    finally shrugs his shoulders.)

    There is an awesome noise going on beyond us in--well in a
    certain direction. I think that all the artillery ever made is
    producing it. There's practically no smoke visible against the
    clear blue August sky--nothing to see at all except the feathery
    cotton fleece of shrapnel appearing, expanding, vanishing over a
    hill on the horizon, and two aeroplanes circling high like a
    pair of mated hawks.

    And all the while this earth-rocking diapason continues more
    terrible, more majestic than any real thunder I ever heard.

    We have had luncheon and are going on. He drank five quarts of
    Belgian beer! I am permitted a few minutes more and he orders
    the sixth quart. This is what I have to say:

    In case anything should go wrong with me give the enclosed note
    to my mother. Please see to it that everything I have goes to
    her. My will is in my box in our safe at the office. It is all
    quite clear. There should be no trouble.

    I expressed my trunk to your care in Luxembourg. You wrote me
    that you had received it and placed it in storage to await my
    leisurely arrival. In case of accident to me send it to my

    About the business, my share in any deals now on should go to my
    brother. After that if you care to take George in when he comes
    out of Harvard it would gratify his mother and me.

    He's all to the good, you know. But don't do this if the
    business does not warrant it. Don't do it out of sentiment,
    Harry. If he promises to be of use, and if you have no other man
    in view, and if, as I say, business conditions warrant such an
    association with a view to eventual partnership, then if you
    care to take in George it will be all right.

    He has sufficient capital, as you know. He lacks only the
    business experience. And he is intelligent and quick and it
    won't take him long.

    But if you prefer somebody else don't hesitate. George is
    perfectly able to take care of his mother and himself.

    This is all, I think. I'm sorry about the August fishing on the
    Black Erenz. It is a lovely stream and full of trout. All
    Luxembourg is lovely; it is a story-book country--a real land of
    romance. I wish I might have seen it again. Never were such
    forests, such silver streams, such golden glades, such
    wild-flowers--never such hills, such meadows, such skies.

    Well--if I come back to you, I come back. If not--good-bye, old
    fellow--with all it implies between friends of many years.

    Say to your kind friends, the Courlands, who so graciously
    invited you to bring me with you to Lesse Forest, that I shall
    not be able to accept their delightful hospitality, and that my
    inability to do so must remain to me a regret as long as I live.
    (These guns are thundering enough to crack the very sky! I
    really wish I could hear some band playing "Tipperary.")

    Good-bye for a while--or indefinitely. Good luck to you.

                                                       KERVYN GUILD.

"Is that quite acceptable to you?" asked Guild of the young Death's Head
hussar beside him.

"Quite acceptable," replied the officer politely. "But what is there
remarkable in anybody drinking six quarts of beer?"

Guild laughed: "Here is the note that I desire to enclose with it, if I
may do so." And he wrote:


    You must not grieve too much. You have George. It could not be
    avoided, honourably. He and I are good Americans; we are,
    perhaps, something else, too. But what the Book of Gold holds it
    never releases; what is written there is never expunged. George
    must do what I did when the time comes. I would have done
    more--was meaning to--was on my way. Destiny has ordered it

    While I live I think always of you. And it shall be so until the

    This letter is to be sent to you by Harry Darrel only in the
    event of my death.

    There's a good chance for me. But if things go wrong, then,
    good-bye, dearest.


    P. S.

    Tell George that it's up to him, now.

He held out the letter cheerfully to the hussar, but the latter had read
it, and he merely nodded in respectful silence. So Guild folded it,
sealed it in an envelope, wrote on it, "For my Mother in case of my
death," and inclosed it in his letter to Darrel.

"Any time you are ready now," he said, rising from the little enameled
iron table under the arbour.

The hussar rose, clanking, and set a whistle to his lips. Then, turning:
"I shall have yet one more glass of beer," he said blandly, but his eyes

The grey car rolled up in a few moments. Over it at a vast height
something soared in hawk-like circles. It may have been a hawk. There
was no telling at such a height.

So they drove off again amid the world-shaking din of the guns
paralleling the allied lines toward the west. Ostend lay somewhere in
that direction, the channel flowed beyond; beyond that crouched
England--where bands were playing "Tipperary"--and where, perhaps, a
young girl was listening to that new battle song of which the young
hussar beside him had never even heard.

As the grey car hummed westward over the Belgian road, Guild thought of
these things while the whole world about him was shaking with the
earthquake of the guns.

"Karen," he repeated under his breath, "Karen Girard."

After a while sentinels began to halt them every few rods. The chauffeur
unrolled two white flags and set them in sockets on either side of the
hood. The hussar beside him produced a letter from his grey

"General von Reiter's orders," he said briefly. "You are to read them
now and return the letter to me before the enemies' parlementaire
answers our flag."

Guild took the envelope, tore it open, and read:

    Orders received since our interview make it impossible for me to
    tell you where to find me on your return.

    My country place in Silesia is apparently out of the question at
    present as a residence for the person you are expected to bring
    back with you. The inclosed clipping from a Danish newspaper
    will explain why. Therefore you will sail from London on
    Wednesday or Sunday, taking a Holland liner. You will land at
    Amsterdam, go by rail through Utrecht, Helmond, Halen,
    Maastricht. You will be expected there. If I am not there you
    will remain over night.

    If you return from your journey _alone_ and unsuccessful you
    will surrender yourself as prisoner to the nearest German post
    and ask the officer in charge to telegraph me.

    If you return successful you shall be permitted at Eijsden to
    continue your journey with the person you bring with you, across
    the Luxembourg border to Trois Fontaines, which is just beyond
    the Grand Duchy frontier; and you shall then deliver the person
    in question to the housekeeper of the hunting lodge, Marie
    Bergner. The lodge is called Quellenheim, and it belongs to me.
    If I am not there you must remain there over night. In the
    morning if you do not hear from me, you are at liberty to go
    where you please, and your engagements vis-à-vis to me are

                                              VON REITER, Maj-Gen'l.

The inclosed newspaper clipping had been translated into French and
written out in long-hand. The translation read as follows:

    Russia's invasion of East Prussia, Posen and Silesia has sent a
    wave of panic over the eastern provinces of the German Empire,
    if reports from Copenhagen and Stockholm are to be credited.
    These reports are chiefly significant as indicating that the
    Russian advance is progressing more rapidly than has been
    asserted even by despatches from Petrograd.

    A correspondent of the _Daily Telegraph_ reports from Stockholm
    that the whole of eastern Germany is upset by the menace of
    Cossack raids. He hears that a diplomatic despatch from Vienna
    contains information that the civilian inhabitants of
    Koenigsberg, East Prussia, and Breslau, in Silesia, are
    abandoning their homes and that only the military will remain in
    these strongholds.

    From Copenhagen it is reported, allegedly from German sources,
    that Silesia expects devastation by fire and sword and that the
    wealthy Prussian landholders, whose immense estates cover
    Silesia, are leading the exodus toward the west. The military
    authorities have done everything possible to check the panic,
    fearing its hurtful influence on Germany's prospects, but have
    been unable to reassure the inhabitants. Many of these have seen
    bands of Cossacks who have penetrated a few miles over the
    border and their warnings have spread like a forest fire.

For a long while the young man studied the letter, reading and
re-reading it, until, closing his eyes, he could repeat it word for

And when he was letter perfect he nodded and handed back the letter to
the hussar, who pouched it.

A moment later the car ran in among a horde of mounted Uhlans, and one
of their officers came galloping up alongside of the machine.

He and the hussar whispered together for a few minutes, then an Uhlan
was summoned, a white cloth tied to his lance-shaft, and away he went on
his powerful horse, the white flag snapping in the wind. Behind him
cantered an Uhlan trumpeter.

Toward sunset the grey automobile rolled west out into open country. A
vast flat plain stretched to the horizon, where the sunset flamed
scarlet and rose.

But it was almost dusk before from somewhere across the plain came the
faint strains of military music.

The hussar's immature mustache bristled. "British!" he remarked. "Gott
in Himmel, what barbarous music!"

Guild said nothing. They were playing "Tipperary."

And now, through the late rays of the afterglow, an Uhlan trumpeter,
sitting his horse on the road ahead, set his trumpet to his lips and
sounded the parley again. Far, silvery, from the misty southwest, a
British bugle answered.

Guild strained his eyes. Nothing moved on the plain. But, at a nod to
the chauffeur from the hussar, the great grey automobile rolled forward,
the two Uhlans walking their horses on either side.

Suddenly, east and west as far as the eye could see, trenches in endless
parallels cut the plain, swarming with myriads and myriads of men in
misty grey.

The next moment the hussar had passed a black silk handkerchief over
Guild's eyes and was tying it rather tightly.

                               CHAPTER IV

                               BAD DREAMS

His first night in London was like a bad dream to him. Lying half awake
on his bed, doggedly, tenaciously awaiting the sleep he needed, at
intervals even on its vision-haunted borderland, but never drifting
across it, he remained always darkly conscious of his errand and of his
sinister predicament.

The ineffaceable scenes of the last three days obsessed him; his mind
seemed to be unable to free itself. The quieter he lay, the more grimly
determined he became that sleep should blot out these tragic memories
for a few hours at least, the more bewildering grew the confusion in his
haunted mind. Continually new details were evoked by his treacherous and
insurgent memory--trifles terrible in their minor significance--the
frightened boy against the wall snivelling against his ragged
shirt-sleeve--the sprawling attitudes of the dead men in the dusty
grass--and how, after a few moments, a mangled arm moved, blindly
groping--and what quieted it.

Incidents, the petty details of sounds, of odours, of things irrelevant,
multiplied and possessed him--the thin gold-rimmed spectacles on the
Burgomaster's nose and the honest, incredulous eyes which gazed through
them at him when he announced checkmate in three moves.

Did that tranquil episode happen years ago in another and calmer
life?--or a few hours ago in this?

He heard again the startling and ominous sounds of raiding cavalry even
before they had become visible in the misty street--the flat slapping
gallop of the Uhlan's horses on the paved way, the tinkling clash of
broken glass. Again the thick, sour, animal-like stench of the unwashed
infantry seemed to assail and sicken him to the verge of faintness; and,
half awake, he saw a world of fog set thick with human faces utterly
detached from limbs and bodies--thousands and thousands of faces
watching him out of thousands and thousands of little pig-like eyes.

His nerves finally drove him into motion and he swung himself out of bed
and walked to the window.

His hotel was the Berkeley, and he looked out across Piccadilly into a
silent, sad, unlighted city of shadows. Only a single line of lighted
lamps outlined the broad thoroughfare. Crimson sparks twinkled here and
there--the lights of cabs.

The great darkened Ritz towered opposite, Devonshire House squatted
behind its grilles and shadowy walls on the right, and beyond the great
dark thoroughfare stretched away into the night, melancholy, deserted
save for the slight stirring of a policeman here and there or the
passage of an automobile running in silence without lights.

He had been standing by the window for ten minutes or so, a lighted
cigarette between his lips, both hands dropped into the pocket of his
pyjamas, when he became aware of a slight sound--a very slight
one--behind him.

He turned around and his eyes fell upon the knob of the door. Whether or
not it was turning he could not determine in the dusk of the room. The
only light in it came through his windows from the starry August

After a moment he walked toward the door, bare-footed across the velvet
carpet, halted, fixed his eyes on the door knob.

After a moment it began to turn again, almost imperceptibly. And, in
him, every over-wrought nerve tightened to its full tension till he
quivered. Slowly, discreetly, noiselessly the knob continued to turn.
The door was not locked. Presently it began to open, the merest fraction
of an inch at a time; then, abruptly but stealthily, it began to close
again, as though the unseen intruder had caught sight of him, and Guild
stepped forward swiftly and jerked the door wide open.

There was only the darkened hallway there, and a servant with a tray who
said very coolly, "Thanky, sir," and entered the room.

"What-do-you-want?" asked Guild unsteadily.

"You ordered whiskey and soda for eleven o'clock, sir."

"I did not. Why do you try to enter my room without knocking?"

"I understood your orders were not to disturb you but to place the tray
on the night-table beside your bed, sir."

Guild regarded him steadily. The servant, clean-shaven, typical,
encountered the young man's gaze respectfully and with no more
disturbance than seemed natural under the circumstances of a not unusual

Guild's nerves relaxed and he drew a deep, quiet breath.

"Somebody has made a mistake," he said. "I ordered nothing. And,
hereafter, anybody coming to my door will knock. Is that plain?"

"Perfectly, sir."

"Have the goodness to make it very plain to the management."

"I'm sorry, sir----"

"You understand, now?"

"Certainly, sir."

"Very well.... And, by the way, who on this corridor is likely to have
ordered that whiskey?"


"Somebody ordered it, I suppose?"

"Very likely the gentleman next door, sir----"

"All right," said Guild quietly. "Try the door while I stand here and
look on."

"Very good, sir."

With equanimity unimpaired the waiter stepped to the next door on the
corridor, placed his tray flat on the palm of his left hand, and, with
his right hand, began to turn the knob, using, apparently, every
precaution to make no noise.

But he was not successful; the glassware on his tray suddenly gave out a
clear, tinkling clash, and, at the same moment the bedroom door opened
from within and a man in evening dress appeared dimly framed by the

"Sorry, sir," said the waiter, "your whiskey, sir----"

He stepped inside the room and the door closed behind him. Guild quietly
waited. Presently the waiter reappeared without the tray.

"Come here," motioned Guild.

The waiter said: "Yes, sir," in a natural voice. Doubtless the man next
door could hear it, too.

Guild, annoyed, lowered his own voice: "Who is the gentleman in the next

"A Mr. Vane, sir."

"From where?"

"I don't know, sir."

"What is he, English?"

"Yes sir, I believe so."

"You don't happen to know his business, do you?"

"No, sir."

"I ask--it's merely curiosity. Wait a moment." He turned, picked up a
sovereign from a heap of coins on his night-table and gave it to the

"No need to repeat to anybody what I have asked you."

"Oh, no, sir----"

"All right. Listen very attentively to what I tell you. When I arrived
here this afternoon I desired the management to hire for my use a
powerful and absolutely reliable touring car and a chauffeur. I
mentioned the Edmeston Agency and a Mr. Louis Grätz.

"Half an hour later the management informed me that they had secured
such a car for me from Mr. Louis Grätz at the Edmeston Agency; that I
was permitted sufficient gasoline to take me from here to Westheath,
back here again, and then to the docks of the Holland Steamship Company
next Sunday.

"I've changed my mind. Tomorrow is Wednesday and a steamer sails from
Fresh Wharf for Amsterdam. Tell the management that I'll take that
steamer and that I want them to telephone the Edmeston Agency to have
the car here at six o'clock tomorrow morning."

"Very good, sir."

"Go down and tell them now. Ask them to confirm the change of orders by

"Very good, sir."

A quarter of an hour later the bell tinkled in his room: "Are you there,
sir? Thank you, sir. The car is to be here at six o'clock. What time
would you breakfast, Mr. Guild?"

"Five. Have it served here, please."

"Thank you, sir."

Guild went back to bed. Another detail bothered him now. If the man next
door had ordered whiskey and soda for eleven, _to be placed on the
night-table beside the bed_, why was he up and dressed and ready to open
the door when the jingle of glassware awaited him?

Still there might be various natural explanations. Guild thought of
several, but none of them suited him.

He began to feel dull and sleepy. That is the last he remembered, except
that his sleep was disturbed by vaguely menacing dreams, until he awoke
in the grey light of early morning, scarcely refreshed, and heard the
waiter knocking. He rose, unlocked his door, and let him in with his

When the waiter went out again Guild relocked his door, turned on his
bath, took it red hot and then icy. And, thoroughly awake, now, he
returned to his room, breakfasted, dressed, rang for his account, and a
few minutes later descended in the lift to find his car and chauffeur
waiting, and the tall, many-medalled porter at salute by the door.

"Westheath," he said to the smiling chauffeur. "Go as fast as you dare
and by the direct route."

The chauffeur touched his peaked cap. He seemed an ideal chauffeur,
neat, alert, smiling, well turned out in fact as the magnificent and
powerful touring car which had been as thoroughly and minutely groomed
as a race-horse or a debutante.

When the car rolled out into Piccadilly the waiter who had mistaken the
order for whiskey, watched it from the dining-room windows. Several
floors above, the man who had occupied the next bedroom also watched the
departure of the car. When it was out of sight the man whose name was
Vane went to the telephone and called 150 Fenchurch Street, E. C. It was
the office of the Holland Steamship Company.

And the waiter who had entered the room unannounced, stood listening to
the conversation over the wire, and finally took the transmitter himself
for further conversation while Vane stood by listening, one hand resting
familiarly on the waiter's shoulder.

After the waiter had hung up the receiver, Vane walked to the window,
stood a moment looking out, then came slowly back.

"Gwynn," he said to the waiter, "this man, Guild, seems to be harmless.
He's known at the American Embassy. He's an American in the real estate
business in New York. It's true that Dart telegraphed from Ostend that
Guild came to our lines in a German military automobile under a white
flag. But he told a straight story. I'll run out to Westheath, and if
his business there is clean and above-board, I think we can give him a
clean bill of health."

Gwynn said, slowly: "I don't like the way he questioned me last night.
Besides, a sovereign is too much even for an American."

"He might have been afraid of robbery."

"He was afraid of _something_."

"Very well. We've passage on the boat if necessary. I'll go out to
Westheath anyway. If I don't care for what he is doing out there we can
hold him on the dock."

"Another thing," mused Gwynn. "The Edmeston Agency may be quite all
right, but the man's name is Grätz."

"He's been under scrutiny. He seems to be all right."

"All the same--his name is all wrong. What was that chauffeur's name?"



"He spells it without a _c_. I saw his signature on the Agency rolls."

"Have you his history?"

"He's Canadian. I've sent for it."

"You'll find that his father spelled his name with a _c_," remarked
Gwynn, gloomily. But Vane only laughed.

"I'm off," he said. "Stick around where I can get you on the telephone
if necessary. But I don't think it will be necessary."

"I do," muttered Gwynn.

                               CHAPTER V


The journey was the usual one through interminable London streets
alternately respectable and squalid; and straight ahead through equally
interminable suburbs with their endless "terraces," semi-detached and
detached villas, and here and there a fine old house behind neglected
garden walls, making its last forlorn stand against the all-destroying
inroad of the London jungle.

There had been a heavy haze in London, but no fog. In the country,
however, beyond the last outstretched suburban tentacle of the inky
octopus the morning sun glimmered low through a golden smother,
promising a glimpse of blue sky.

To Guild, one "heath" has always resembled another, and now, as they
passed through the country at high speed, there seemed to him very
little difference between the several named points which marked his
progress toward Westheath. Hedges alternated with ivy-covered walls on
either side of a wide, fine road; trees were splendid as usual, sheep
fat, cattle sleek. Here and there a common or heath glimmered
bewitchingly where sunlight fell among the whins; birds winged their
way, waters glimmered, and the clean, singing August wind of England
blew steadily in his face strangely reviving within him some ancient,
forgotten, pre-natal wistfulness. Maybe it came from his American
mother's English mother.

Near two villages and once on the open highway policemen leisurely
signalled the chauffeur to stop, and came sauntering around to the
tonneau to question Guild as to his origin, his business, and his
destination; quiet, dignified, civil, respectable men they seemed to be
in their night cloaks and their always smart and business-like helmets
and uniforms.

All seemed satisfied, but all politely suggested that passports were now
becoming fashionable in England. And Guild thanked them pleasantly and
drove on.

"Bush," he said to his chauffeur, "this spy scare was ridiculed by the
newspapers, but it looks to me as though it were being taken rather
seriously after all."

"It is, sir."

"I understand that about thirty thousand German and Austrian reservists
have been arrested in England since war began?"

"I hear so, sir."

"I suppose the country really is swarming with spies. The paper
yesterday said that there was still a great and serious leakage of
military information out of England. One paper, yesterday afternoon,
reported that a number of spies had already been shot in the Tower."

"I have heard so, sir," said the chauffeur smilingly.

He was a blond, good-looking young fellow. Always his lips seemed to
rest in pleasant curves as though his reveries were agreeable.

A few hideously modern detached villas were passed, then hedges, walls,
a wood, a modern bridge.

"How near are we to Westheath now?" asked Guild, leaning forward in his

"We are there, sir." And the smiling chauffeur slowed the car to a
standstill at a cross-roads where furze and broom grew rankly over the
heath and a few rather tawdry villas appeared among the trees beyond.

Guild looked at his watch. It was only a little after seven, an
unearthly hour for a call upon any young girl, not to mention one to
whom he was personally unknown.

A policeman still wearing his waterproof night cloak, came leisurely
across to learn what was wanted.

"I am looking for the villa of Miss Girard--Miss Karen Girard,"
explained Guild.

"Hyacinth Villa, Number 169. Take the road to the right. It is the only

"Thank you."

The car moved forward, swung to the right. About a quarter of a mile
away stood a small, modern stucco dwelling behind its hedge of privet.
Beyond that there were woods again and dewy uplands glimmering with
furze and brake.

When they arrived they found the driveway closed by a gate.

"Never mind; I'll walk to the house," said Guild.

The smiling chauffeur leaned back and opened the tonneau door; Guild
descended, looked at the iron gate between its ugly stucco posts, peered
through it up the drive with its parallel rows of recently planted lime
trees. Everything about the place was recent if not brand new--ugly with
the ugliness of well-to-do bad taste. Red geraniums and yellow cannas
had been planted in fearsome juxtaposition, salvia flanked a red brick
terrace--a most unholy combination of colour. In the early morning the
sun exposed the place without mercy. It was lonesome and amazingly

Glancing up at the gate again he discovered a nickel-plated label
riveted to one of the stucco posts. On it was the name of the place,
"Hyacinth Villa," and its number 169.

There was no lodge, no bell, but the wicket gate was not locked. So
Guild entered.

"Shall I drive up to the house, sir?" inquired the chauffeur.

"No; wait out here."

There seemed to be no sign of life about the house when at last he
arrived in front of it--nobody apparently stirring at that hour. He
hesitated; he still wore the same knickerbockers and cap which he had
worn in Belgium. His sack, which was now in the car, contained only
fresh linen; and he began to wonder what his reception might be in such
a costume and at such an hour. He doubted that the unconventionality of
the daughter of a Prussian aristocrat might extend far enough to accept
him, his rather shabby clothes, and his explanation of the visit.

It was all very well for this young girl to kick over the tradition, cut
home traces in the sacred cause of art, call herself Girard, and live in
an impossible villa for art's sake. Few well-born Fräuleins ever did
this sort of thing, but there had been instances. And anybody in Germany
will always add that they invariably went to the devil.

Guild rang. After he had waited long enough he rang again. After that he
resumed his ringing. Keeping his finger pressed on the electric button
and laying his ear to the door. The bell was doing its duty inside the
house; he could hear it.

Presently he heard a fumbling of chains and locks inside, the door
opened on a crack and a sleepy voice inquired: "Is it you, Anna?"

Guild hesitated: "I wish to see Miss Girard. Is she at home?"

"Who are you?" demanded the voice no longer sleepy.

"My name is Guild. I am sorry to disturb Miss Girard at such an hour,
but I cannot help it. Is Miss Girard in?"

"Yes; I am Miss Girard."

"Are you Miss Karen Girard?"

"Yes. Why do you wish to see me?"

"I can't tell you here. Are you dressed?"

There was a pause, then she said: "No."

"Please dress as quickly as you can. Dress for travel."


"If you have a travelling dress put it on. You can pack your luggage
while I am talking to you. But dress as quickly as you can and then
return and let me in."

She said after a moment's silence: "I certainly shall not do any of
those things until I know more about you and about your errand here."

"I have a message for you from General Baron Kurt von Reiter."

"That is possible," she said quietly. "What is the message?"

"I was to say to you that the question which you were to decide on the
first of November must be decided sooner."

"I must have clearer proof that your message is genuine. I am sorry to
distrust you but I have been annoyed lately."

"Very well," he said. "Open the door a little more. Don't be afraid. I
merely wish you to look at a ring which I wear. I want you to draw it
from my finger and look at what is engraved inside."

There was another silence. Then the door crack slowly widened.

"Please extend your hand," she said.

There was just enough of space for him to slip his hand between door and
frame and he did so. There came a light, soft touch on his ring-finger.
The ring slipped off.

[Illustration: "There came a light, soft touch on his ring-finger"]

When she spoke again her voice was altered: "I shall dress immediately,"
she said. "I shall not keep you waiting long. You will find the door
open. Please come in when I have gone upstairs."

"Thank you."

He could hear her light, flying feet on the stairs; he waited a little
longer, then opened the door.

The hallway was dark, and he left the door open, then entered the room
to the left which seemed to be a library, music-room and living-room
combined. Books, piano, easy chairs and sofas loomed in the dim light of
drawn curtains. An easel on which stood a water-colour drawing occupied
the end of the room, and beside it was a table on which were porcelain
dishes, tubes of colour and scattered badger brushes.

It was evident that Miss Girard's talents were multiple, for he noticed
also a violin and music stand near the piano, and on the violin score as
well as on the score spread across the piano the same hand had written
"Karen Girard."

He stood by the table, mechanically picking up, one after another, the
books lying there. Some of the books were printed in French, some in
German, in Italian, in Danish, in Swedish, in English. Miss Girard's
name was written in all of them. Miss Girard appeared to be

In the dim light Guild began to saunter around the room encountering
various evidences of Miss Girard's taste and mode of living--one or two
Braun photographs of Velasquez, Boucher, and Gainsborough on the
walls--certainly a catholicism of taste entirely admirable;--one or two
graceful bits of ancient Chinese art--blue and gold marvels of Pekin
enamel; a mille-fleur tapestry panel, a bundle of golf clubs, a tennis
bat, and a pair of spurs.

He thought for himself that when a girl goes in for all of these
accomplishments it is because the gods have been otherwise unkind, and
that she has to.

At the same time he remembered the voice he had heard through the
scarcely opened door--the lovely voice of a young English girl--than
which in all the world there is nothing half so lovely.

And it suddenly occurred to him that there had not been in it the
faintest kind or trace of a German accent--that only its childish and
sleepy sweetness had struck him first, and then its purity and its
youthful and cultivated charm.

Yes, truly, the gods had been kind to this young German girl of
nineteen, but it would be a little too much to ask of these same gods
that they endow her with figure and features commensurate with her other
charms and talents.

Then he suddenly remembered her profession, and that she was studying
still for the dramatic profession. And he knew that this profession
naturally required exterior charm of any woman who desired to embrace

While these ideas and speculations were occupying his mind he heard her
on the stairs, and he turned and came forward as she entered the room.

She was a slender, straight girl of medium height; and her face was one
of those fresh young faces which looked fragrant. And instantly the
thought occurred to him that she was the vivid, living incarnation of
her own voice, with her lilac-blue eyes and soft white neck, and the
full scarlet lips of one of those goddesses who was not very austere.

She wore a loosely-belted jacket of tan-coloured covert-cloth, and
narrow skirts of the same, and a wide golden-brown hat, and tan spats.
The gods had been very, very kind to Miss Girard, for she even adorned
her clothes, and that phenomenon is not usual in Great Britain or among
German Fräuleins however accomplished and however well born.

She said: "I beg your pardon for detaining you so long on the outside
door-step. Since the war began my maid and I have been annoyed by
strangers telephoning and even coming here to ask silly and impertinent
questions. I suppose," she added, disdainfully, "it is because there is
so much suspicion of foreigners in England."

"I quite understand," he said. "Being German, your neighbors gossip."

She shrugged her indifference.

"Shall we talk here?" she asked gravely, resting one very white hand on
the back of a chair. "You come from General Baron Kurt von Reiter. The
ring is a credential beyond dispute."

"We can talk anywhere you wish," he said, "but there is little time, and
somebody must pack a traveller's satchel for you. Have you a maid?"

"She went to London yesterday evening. She was to have returned on the
eleven o'clock train last night. I can't understand it."

"Are you alone in the house?"

"Yes. My cook sleeps out. She does not come until half-past nine. My
maid serves my breakfast."

"You haven't had any, then?"


"Can you fix something for yourself?"

"Yes, of course. Shall I do so now?"

"Yes. I'll go to the kitchen with you while you are doing it. There are
several things to say and the time is short."

She led the way; he opened the kitchen shutters and let in the sunshine,
then stood a moment watching her as she moved about the place with
graceful celerity, preparing cocoa over an alcohol lamp, buttering a
roll or two and fetching cup, plate, spoon and marmalade.

"Have you breakfasted?" she asked, looking at him over her shoulder.

"Yes--it is very good of you----"

"There will be plenty of cocoa and rolls--if you care for them. The
rolls are yesterday's and not fresh."

She poured the cocoa in two cups and looked at him again in grave

"You are sure there is plenty?" he asked, smilingly.


"Then--I do seem to be rather hungry."

He drew a chair for her; she seated herself and ate with a youthful
appetite. He drank his cocoa, ate his rolls, and tried not to look at
her too often.

"This is why I am here," he said. "I saw General Baron von Reiter four
days ago under somewhat extraordinary circumstances.

"He told me that since the war broke out he had not been able to
communicate directly with you or to get you out of England, and he asked
me to find you and bring you to his estate at Trois Fontaines in

"To Quellenheim?" she asked, surprised and disturbed. "Is he there?"

"No, he is with a field army, and he does not know where orders from
staff headquarters may send him."

"Still," she said, hesitating, "I should think that he might wish me to
go to Silesia----"

"Silesia is threatened by the Russian army."

"Silesia!" she repeated, incredulously. "Cossacks in Silesia?" She sat,
her cup of cocoa half raised to her lips, her surprised and disconcerted
eyes on his. Then she set the cup aside.

"He wishes me to go to Quellenheim? With _you_?"



"Travelling on the continent is precarious."

Her eyes rested on his; she said with a candour which he began to
understand was characteristic of her: "He seems to have confidence in
you. I never heard him speak of you. You are American?"


"That is odd. He never cared for Americans."

Guild said: "He could not send a German into England."

"That is true. Nor an Englishman either. No Englishman would be likely
to do anything to oblige a German."

She rose: "I don't understand why Anna, my maid, is still absent," she
added uneasily. "My maid often goes to London, but never before has she
remained over night. I don't know why she remained. She knew I was alone
in the house."

She lifted her serious blue eyes to Guild, then gazed out of the window,
evidently perplexed to the point of apprehension.

"I am worried," she said, "very much worried. But that doesn't help,
does it?"

"What was her errand in London?" asked Guild.

"She has a brother there. I suppose it's all right or she would have
telephoned me."

He said: "No doubt it is all right. And, may I ask you to hasten?"

She rose: "Where am I to go with you?"

"To London and then to the steamer."


"Today is Wednesday. No other Holland Line boat sails for Amsterdam
before Sunday, and I have yet our passage to secure and I must also go
to the War Office for a few moments. You see we have very little time."

"But I can't pack my boxes then?"

"You will have to leave them."

"You mean I may take only a satchel?"

"A suit-case and satchel if you wish. Leave a note for your maid
instructing her to send by express whatever else you wish sent after

"Is this haste necessary, Mr. Guild?"

"Yes, it is. I want to get out of England. I am not sure that I can get
out if we wait until Sunday."

"Why not?"

"I may be detained. I may not be permitted to leave with you. All
foreigners are under more or less suspicion. I am rather sure that I
have been under surveillance already at the Berkeley Hotel."

They had moved out into the hall together while he was speaking, and
now, together, they went up the stairs.

"If you don't mind," she said, "my room is in disorder, but I'll have to
pack there and you will have to sit there if you wish to talk to me."

It was a white and chintz room in dainty disorder.

She went away and returned in a moment or two with a satchel and
suit-case. These she placed on the bed, opened, and then, dragging out
various drawers of chiffonier and chest, began to transfer her apparel
to the two bags.

"I am extremely sorry," he said, "to hurry you so inconveniently."

"I don't mind," she replied, busy with her packing. "You see I am an
actress and I have travelled with a company in the provinces. That _was_
an experience!" She turned her pretty head and looked at Guild. "I had
no maid then, except at the theatres where we played, and I had to share
her with three other girls. Really, Mr. Guild, it taught me how to pack
things rather rapidly."

Her white hands were flying as she folded and placed garment after
garment in the suit-case, serene, self-possessed, quite undisturbed by
his presence at the rather intimate display of her apparel.

The garments were bewilderingly frail to him; she tucked and packed them
into place; a faint fresh scent seemed to freshen the place.

He said: "I don't think we are going to have any trouble about leaving
England. But, if any trouble does arise, would you have sufficient
confidence in me to do what I say?"

She continued her packing for a few moments without replying, then
turned and looked at him.

And at the same moment the telephone on the table beside her bed

"There is Anna now!" she exclaimed with the emphasis of relief. "Will
you pardon me? No, I don't mean you are to leave the room----"

She lifted the receiver: "Yes, I am here.... Yes, this is Miss Girard.
Yes, Miss Karen Girard.... Mr. Louis Grätz? Oh, good morning!"

At the name of the man with whom she was speaking Guild turned around
surprised. At the same instant the girl's face flushed brightly as she
sat listening to what the distant Mr. Grätz was saying to her.

Guild watched her; perplexity, surprise, a deeper flush of
consternation, all were successively visible on her youthful face.

"Yes," she said to Mr. Grätz. "Yes, I will do whatever he wishes....
Yes, he is here--here in my room with me. We were talking while I
packed. Yes, I will do so." And, turning her head a little she said to
the young man behind her: "The Edmeston Agency desires to speak to you."

He rose and took the receiver from her hand and bent over beside her

"Are you there?" inquired a pleasant voice.


"I am Grätz of the Edmeston Agency. Get that young lady out of the house
at once. Do you understand?"


"Her maid is in trouble. This agency may be in trouble at any moment.
She must not wait to pack. Get her into the car and take her to the
wharf and on board at once. Do you understand?"


"Take her as your wife. Do you understand?"

"I understand what you say," he said, amazed.

"That is sufficient. Do as I tell you if you want to leave England."

"Very well. But I must first go to the War Office----"


"I must!"

"No. It is useless; hopeless. It would have been the thing to do
yesterday. An explanation there would have given you credentials and
security. But not today. _She_ could not hope to leave. Do you

"No, but I hear you."

"She could not expect permission to leave because her maid has been


"Yes! The charge is most serious."

"What is it?"

"Get into your car with the young lady and start at once. Don't go to
the steamship office in Fenchurch Street. Don't go to the War Office. Go
nowhere except to the wharf. Your passage has been secured as Mr. and
Mrs. Kervyn Guild of New York. The initials on the baggage will be K. G.
Your steamer tickets will be handed to you. You will pay no attention to
the man who hands them to you, no attention to anybody. You will go
aboard and go to your cabin until the ship is out at sea. Do you



                               CHAPTER VI

                              MR. AND MRS.

Guild hung up the receiver, stood a moment in thought then turned around
and looked gravely at the girl behind him. She gazed back at him as
though still a trifle breathless after some sudden shock.

"What did that man say to you over the wire?" he asked in pleasant, even

"He told me to trust you, and do what you told me to do. He said Anna,
my maid, had been arrested."

"Who is he?" asked Guild grimly.

"Do you mean Mr. Grätz?"

"Yes; who is Mr. Grätz?"

"Don't _you_ know him?" she said, astonished.

"I have never laid eyes on him. Your father recommended to me the
Edmeston Agency and mentioned the name of a Louis Grätz who might be of
use to me. That is all I know."

"My--_father_--you say?"

"Certainly, General Baron von Reiter."

"Oh!... Then it must be quite all right. Only--I don't understand about
my maid----"

"Did Mr. Grätz tell you she had been arrested?"


"On a serious charge?"


"Have you any idea what that charge may be?" he asked, studying her

"I haven't any idea," she said; "have you?"

"I don't know; perhaps I have. Is your maid German?"


"You brought her with you from Germany?"


"Where did you get her?"

"General von Reiter's housekeeper found her for me."

He hesitated, still looking steadily into those violet blue eyes of hers
which seemed to question him so candidly. No, there could be no
dishonesty there.

"Miss Girard," he said, "I find that I am going to be very much more
frank with you than there once seemed any occasion for being. I am also
going to say something to you that may possibly offend you. But I can't
help it. It is this: Have you, through your letters to or from your
father, imparted or received any military intelligence which might be
detrimental to Great Britain or to her allies?"

"Do you mean am I a sort of spy?" she asked, flushing to the roots of
her hair.

"In substance it amounts to that. And I shall have to ask you to answer
me. And I'll tell you why I ask. I didn't intend to tell you; my
personal and private affairs did not concern you. But they do now. And
these happen to be the facts in my case: I was taken prisoner in Belgium
by the cavalry forming the advance of your father's command. It happened
four days ago; I was sentenced to military execution, led out for that
purpose, reprieved by your father himself on condition that I undertake
to find you and conduct you safely to Trois Fontaines near the Grand
Duchy of Luxembourg.

"If I am unsuccessful in the undertaking, I am pledged to go back
voluntarily and face a firing squad. If I am successful I am permitted
to go free, and so are my fellow-hostages. And the little town where I
was arrested is to be spared."

He passed one hand over his eyes, thoughtfully, then, looking at her
very seriously:

"There seemed to be no reason why an honorable man might not accept such
terms. I accepted them. But--things have happened here which I neither
understand nor like. And I've got to say this to you; if my taking you
back to your father means any detriment to England or to the cause
England represents--in other words, if your returning to him means the
imparting to him of any military information gathered here by you,
then--I won't take you back; that's all!"

After a moment, half to herself, she said: "He really thinks me a spy. I
knew it!"

"I _don't_ think so. I am merely asking you!" he retorted impatiently.
"There is something dead wrong here. I was intending to go to the War
Office to tell them there very frankly about my predicament, and to ask
permission to take you back in order to save my fellow-hostages, the
village, and my own life; and now a man named Grätz of whom I know
nothing calls me on the telephone and warns me not to go to the War
Office but to get you out of England as soon as I can do it.

"What am I to think of this? What does this man Grätz mean when he tells
me that your maid has been arrested on a serious charge and that the
Edmeston Agency of a German automobile is in danger?"

The girl stood very still with one slender hand resting on her satchel,
her face pale and quietly serious, her brows bent slightly inward as
though she were trying to remember something or to solve some unpleasant
problem not yet plain to her.

"One thing is clear," she said after a moment, lifting her candid eyes
to his; "and that is, if you don't take me back certain friends of yours
will be executed and a village in which you seem interested will be

"If taking you back means any harm to England," he said, "I won't take

"And--your friends? What becomes of them?"

"My friends and the village must take the same chances that I do."

"What chances? Do you mean to go back without _me_?"

"I said I would," he replied drily.

"You said that if you went back without me they'd execute you."

"That's what I said. But there's no use in speculating on what is likely
to happen to me if I go back without you. If you don't mind I think we
had better start at once. We have had our warning from this man Grätz."

He gave her a searching glance, hesitated, then apparently came to an
abrupt conclusion.

"Miss Girard," he said coolly, "your father once took a good look at me
and then made up his mind about me. And he was not mistaken; I am what
he believes me to be. Now, I also have seen you, and I've made up my
mind concerning you. And I don't expect to be mistaken. So I say to you
frankly I am an enemy to Germany--to your country--and I will not
knowingly aid her--not to save my own skin or the skins of anybody else.
Tell me then have you any military knowledge which you intend to impart
to your father?"

"No," she said.

"Have you any suspicion that your maid has been involved in any such
risky business?"

"I have no knowledge of anything military at all. I don't believe my
maid has, either."

"You can recall no incident which might lead you to believe that your
maid is engaged in that sort of affair?"

The girl was silent. He repeated the question. She said: "Anna has
complained of being followed. I have already told you that she and I
have been annoyed by impertinent telephone calls and by strange men
coming here. Do you suppose they were from Scotland Yard?"

"Possibly. Have you any suspicion why your maid has been arrested?" he
persisted. She hesitated; her straight brows knitted slightly again as
though in a perplexed effort to remember and to understand. Then she
looked up at Guild out of troubled eyes and shook her head:

"I don't know--I don't _know_--whatever my suspicions may be----"


"My personal suspicions could scarcely concern you, Mr. Guild."

The snub was direct; he reddened.

"Very well," he said. "What you say gives me a decent chance for life."
He drew a quick breath of relief. "I'm mighty glad," he said; "I
have--have seen men die. It isn't--an--agreeable sight. I think we'd
better go."

"In a moment."

She took her satchel and went into another room with it, closing the
intervening door. She was gone only a few seconds. When she returned she
had locked the satchel; he closed and strapped her suit-case and took it
in his hand. Together they descended the stairway and started through
the lower hall.

And what occurred there happened like lightning.

For, as he passed the door of the darkened living room, a man jumped out
behind him and threw one arm around his throat, and another man stepped
in front of him and snapped a pair of handcuffs on his wrists.

It was not even a struggle; Guild was being held too tightly. The girl
shrank back against the wall, flattening herself against it, staring
dumbly at the proceeding as though stunned. She did not even cry out
when the man who had handcuffed Guild turned on her and caught her by
the elbow.

"Come along quietly, miss," he began, when suddenly his voice died out
in a groan and he crumpled up on the floor as Bush, the chauffeur,
sprang from the passage-way behind him and struck him with something
short and heavy.

The man who had thrown his arm around Guild's throat from behind, flung
his handcuffed victim aside and whipped out a revolver, but the
chauffeur knocked it out of his fist and hit him in the face two heavy,
merciless blows, hurling him senseless across the stairs. And all the
while the blond young chauffeur was smiling his fixed and murderous
smile. And he was like a tiger now in every movement as he knelt,
rummaged in the fallen men's pockets, found the key to the handcuffs,
leaned over and unlocked them as Guild held out his manacled hands.

[Illustration: "The chauffeur hit him ... two heavy, merciless blows,
hurling him senseless across the stairs"]

"Please watch them, sir," he said cheerfully. "I must find a curtain or

He ran into the living-room, ripped off a long blue curtain, tore it
into strips with his powerful blond hands, grinning cheerfully all the

"Best to tie them up, sir--this way--allow me, sir--this is the better
way--the surer----"

Guild, working hard, he scarcely knew why, felt a touch on his arm.

"Are they dead?" whispered Karen Girard unsteadily.


"Are they robbers?"

The blond chauffeur looked up, laughed, then rolled a strip of cloth
into a ball for a gag.

"I'm not entirely sure what they are," said Guild. "I'll tell you what I
think when we're in the car."

The chauffeur completed his business, looked over the results of his
efforts critically, rose to his feet, still smiling.

"Now, sir, if you please--and madam--" And he possessed himself of the

"Take the door-key, if you please, sir. Lock it on the outside. Thank
you. This way, if you please, sir. I took it upon myself to bring the
car up to the kitchen entrance."

The car stood there; the bags were flung in; Karen Girard stepped into
the tonneau; Guild followed. At the same moment a woman appeared, coming
along the brick walk.

"My maid of all work," exclaimed Karen. "What shall I say to her?"

"Anything, madam, but send her home," whispered Bush.

The girl leaned from the car and called out: "I have locked the house
and am going away for the day, Mrs. Bulger. Please come tomorrow, as

The woman thanked her, turned and went away again down the brick walk.
They watched her out of sight.

"Now!" said Guild to the chauffeur, "drive to the Holland steamship
wharf at----"

"I know, sir," smiled the blond chauffeur.

Which reply troubled the young man exceedingly, for it was evident to
him now that, if not herself a spy, this young girl in his charge was
watched, surrounded and protected by German agents of a sinister
sort--agents known to her father, in evident communication with him, and
thoroughly informed of the fact that he wanted his daughter to leave
England at once and under the particular escort of Guild.

Nor had Guild the slightest doubt that the two men who had followed and
handcuffed him were British Government agents, and that if this young
girl's maid had really been arrested for espionage, and if the Edmeston
people, too, were suspected, then suspicion had been also directed
toward Miss Girard and naturally also to him, who was her visitor.

Guild's troubled gaze rested once more upon the young girl beside him.
At the same moment, as though he had spoken to her she turned and looked
at him out of eyes so honest, so fearless that he had responded aloud
before he realized it: "It's all right. I know _you_ are not deceiving

"No," she said, "I am not. But could you tell me what all this
means--all this that has happened so swiftly, so terribly----"

"I have a pretty clear idea what it means.... It's just as well that
those detectives did not arrest me.... Tell me, did you ever before see
this chauffeur, Bush?"

"Never, Mr. Guild."

He nodded; he was slowly coming to a definite conclusion concerning the
episode but he kept his own counsel. She said in a low, embarrassed
voice: "You think me cowardly. I know it. But I really didn't know what
to do."

She was very much in earnest, very intent on his expression, and he did
not dare smile.

"What _could_ you have done, Miss Girard?" he asked, pleasantly.

"I don't know. I--I felt as though we--you and I--were allies--and that
I ought to help you. But it all passed too quickly----"

"There was nothing you could have done for me," he smiled.

She said reflectively: "I myself don't quite see how I could have helped
matters. But I didn't wish you to believe me afraid to help you."

He looked into her wistful eyes smilingly: "Somehow," he said, "I don't
believe you are really very much afraid of anything."

A slight shudder passed over her. "Violence is new to me. I am not very
experienced--not very old you know. And I never saw men fight. And
when"--she lowered her voice--"when that chauffeur struck them so
heavily--so dreadfully--I--I have never seen men fight like that--strike
each other in the face as though they--they meant murder----"

"Don't think of it now, Miss Girard. You must keep your nerve." He
forced a laugh; "you'll need all your composure, too, because I've got
something to tell you which you won't like. Shall I tell you now?"

"Yes, please."

"Then--the man, Grätz, says that you must go aboard that steamer as my

The girl looked at him bewildered. "Somebody," continued Guild, "has
taken passage for us as Mr. and Mrs. Kervyn Guild. Grätz warned me. My
name is Kervyn. Yours is Karen. Our initials are alike. If there is any
suspicion directed toward us there are the initials on your satchel and
suit-case--and presumably on your clothing. Do you understand?"


"Do you mind?"

"I mind a little--yes. But I'll do what is necessary," she said,

"I think it is necessary. This man Grätz who seems to know more about my
business than I do, tells me so. I believe he is right."

She raised her tragic eyes to his but said nothing.

He leaned nearer to her and spoke in a low voice:

"I've been trying to reason it out," he said, "and I'll tell you what my
conclusion is: A German automobile took me to the British lines under a
white flag. No doubt Government agents had been informed by telegraph
and they followed me as soon as I landed on English soil.

"At the Berkeley Hotel I felt very sure that I was being watched. Now,
it appears, that this maid of yours has been arrested, and, from what I
suspect in regard to the Edmeston Agency--the agency to which your
father directed me--I feel very certain that somehow your maid has been
involved in the espionage maintained here by the German Government.

"That chauffeur in front of us is from the Edmeston garage; you see what
he did to those two detectives! It's very plain to me now that, innocent
as you are, you never will be permitted to leave England, even if they
don't arrest you, unless you can get out today with me.

"And if you don't leave England it means for me something very serious.
It means that I shall have to keep my word and go back alone."

"I know," she nodded, looking up at him very earnestly.

He said without the slightest dramatic emphasis: "It really does mean my
death, Miss Girard. I think, knowing your father, that there could be no
possible hope for me if I go back there without you.... And so, knowing
that, I am naturally most anxious to clear out of England while I can do
so--get away from here with you--if I can take you with a clear
conscience. And"--he looked at her, "I feel that I can do that because
you have told me that you have gathered no information for the enemies
of England. And"--he smiled--"to look into your face, Miss Girard, is to
believe you."

Some of the pretty color faded from her cheeks; she said: "You asked me
if I were a spy. I am not. You asked me if, knowingly, I carry any
military information which might aid the enemies of England. And I
answered you that, knowingly, I do not carry any such information."

"That is sufficient," he concluded, smilingly.

"No, it is not sufficient," she said. "I wish to say a little more. Let
me go to Trois Fontaines alone. I am accustomed to travel. There is no
need to involve you. As long as I arrive there what difference does it
make whether or not you accompany me?"

"I promised to accompany you."

"You promised that I should arrive safely at Trois Fontaines. It doesn't
matter whether you accompany me. Please--please don't. I had rather you
did not go."

He said, gravely: "I know how you must feel about travelling as my

"It isn't that."

"What is it then?" he asked, surprised.

"I don't wish you to take the risk of travelling with me."

"What risk? The worst that could happen to you would be your arrest and
detention. If you are not a spy, you can not be proven one."

Her blue eyes gazed absently out across the sunny landscape through
which they were speeding.

"You are not a spy," he replied; "what risk do you run--or I?"

She said, still gazing into the sunlit distance: "What is done to
spies--if they are caught?"

"It usually means death, Miss Girard."

"I have--" she swallowed, caught her breath, breathed deeply; then--"I
have heard so.... It is possible that I might be suspected and
detained.... I had rather you did not attempt to go with me....
Because--I do not wish you to get into any difficulty--on my--account."

"Nothing serious could happen to either you or me through anything that
you have done."

"I am not sure."

"I am," he said. And added in a lower voice: "It is very generous of
you--very kind."

Her own voice was lower still: "Please don't go with me, Mr. Guild. Let
me go to the wharf alone. Let me take my chances alone. If there is any
difficulty they will arrest you, too. And if I--were convicted----"

"You could not be. That is utterly impossible. Don't think of such
things, Miss Girard."

"I _must_ think of them. Will you tell me something?" She turned and
looked at him curiously, almost wistfully.

"I want to ask you something. You--you said to me that if you thought me
a spy, you would not help me to escape from England. You said so, didn't


"You mean it, don't you?"

"I am afraid I do."

"Why? You are not English. You are an American. America is neutral. Why
are you an enemy to Germany?"

"I can't tell you why," he said.

"_Are_ you an enemy to Germany?"

"Yes--a bitter one."

"And if I were a spy, trying to escape from England--trying to
escape--death--you would refuse to help me?"

She had turned entirely toward him on the seat beside him; her
child-like hands clasped on the robe over her knees, her child-like
face, pale, sweet, wistful, turned to his.

"Would you abandon me?" she asked.

"The situation is impossible----"

"Yes, but tell me."

"I don't care to think of such a----"

"Please answer me. Is your partisanship so bitter that you would wash
your hands of me--let me go to my death?--go to your own, too, rather
than help me?"

"Miss Girard, you are losing your composure----"

"No; I am perfectly composed. But I should like to know what you would
do under such circumstances with a girl nineteen years old who stood in
danger of death."

"I can't tell you," he said, perplexed and impatient. "I can't tell now
what I might do."

"Would you denounce me?"

"No, of course not."

"Would you feel--sorry?"

"Sorry!" He looked at her; "I should think I would!"

"Sorry enough for me to help me get away?"


"Even if I carried military information to Germany?"

He looked into her eyes searchingly for a moment. "Yes," he said; "I'd
do what I could for you to get you out of England."

"Even if I had lied to you?"

"You couldn't lie to anybody."

"But if I could? If I have lied and you found it out, would you still
try to help me to get away?"

"You are asking something that----"

"Yes, you can answer it. You can think a while first and then answer. I
want you to answer. I want to know what you'd do with me."

"You make it a personal matter?"

"Yes. I don't want to know what you'd do in theory; I wish you to tell
me what you, personally, would do with me, Karen Girard, if you believed
me to be a spy, and if you came to the conclusion that I had lied to

"Why do you ask all this? You are over-wrought, unstrung----"

"I am absolutely mistress of myself. And I wish to know what you would
do with _me_? Would you let me die?"


"You'd stand by me still?"

"Yes. There's no use mincing matters. Yes, I would."

"You'd help me to leave England?"



There fell a silence between them, and his face slowly reddened.

"I am not sure why," he said slowly.

"I am. Shall I tell you?"

"Yes, tell me," he said, forcing himself to meet her clear gaze.

"Very well, I'll tell you. It is because we are friends. And that is the
real truth. I realize it. From the very beginning it was a friendship,
without effort, instantly and mutually understood. Is it not true?"


"And that--the instant liking--was the basis for our confidence in each
other. Was it not?"

"It must have been. I trusted you without hesitation."

"And I you.... And I did tell you the truth.... But not all of it."

"What have you left untold?" he asked.

"Enough to--to frighten me--a little. I am beginning to be afraid--just
enough afraid to feel troubled--rather deeply troubled about--you."

"About _me_!"

"Because--we are friends. I don't understand how it has happened so
quickly. But it has happened to us--hasn't it?"

"Yes," he said, "it has. I--I am already--devoted to--our friendship."

"I am, too. It seems odd, doesn't it. I have had no friends among men.
This is new to me. I don't know what to do about it. I want to be so
loyal about it--I wish to be what a man--such a man as you are--desires
of a friend--what he requires of friendship.... _Do_ you understand? I
am really a trifle bewildered--with the surprise and pleasure of
friendship--and with its obligations.... But I am very sure that
unselfishness is one of its obligations and that truth is another."

"Both are part of you."

"They seem to be now. And so--because we are friends--don't go to the
wharf with me. Because I think I may be--arrested. And if I am--it may
go hard with me."

She said it so gently, and her eyes were so clear and sweet that for a
moment he did not grasp the subtler significance of her appeal.

"You _can't_ be involved seriously," he insisted.

"I'm afraid it is possible."


"I can only guess how. I may be wrong. But I dare not risk involving

"Can't you tell me a little more?"

"Please don't ask."

"Very well. But I shall not leave you."


"No. You ask too little of friendship."

"I do not wish to ask too much. Let me get clear of this affair if I
can. If I can't--let me at least remember that I have not involved you
in my--ruin."

"Your ruin!"

"Yes. It may come to that. I don't know. I don't know exactly what all
this tangle means--what really threatens me, what I have to dread. But I
am afraid--afraid!" Her voice became unsteady for a moment and she
stared straight ahead of her at the yellow haze which loomed nearer and
nearer above the suburbs of London.

He slipped one arm under hers, quietly, and his hand fell over both of
hers, where they rested clasped tightly on her lap.

"This won't do," he said coolly. "You are not to be frightened whatever
happens. We must go through with this affair, you and I. I know you have
plenty of courage."

"Yes--except about you----"

"I stand or fall with you."

"Please, you must not----"

"I must and shall. Within the next few minutes you must regain your
composure and self-command. Will you?"


"Because our safety may depend on your coolness."

"I know it."

"Will you remember that we are married?"


"Will it be difficult for you to carry out that rôle?"

"I--don't know what to do. Could you tell me?"

"Yes. If you speak to me call me by my first name. Do you remember it?"

"Kervyn," she said.

"You won't forget?"


"I think you had better say 'no, dear.' Try it."


"Try it again."

"No, dear."

"Letter perfect," he said, trying to speak lightly. "You see you look
about seventeen, and it's plain we couldn't have been married very long.
So it's safer to say 'yes, dear,' and 'no, dear,' every time. You won't
forget, Karen, will you?"

She flushed a trifle when her name fell from his lips. "No, dear," she
said in a low voice.

"And if anybody addresses you as Mrs. Guild--will you try to be

"Yes--dear. Yes, I will--Kervyn."

He laughed a trifle excitedly. "You are perfect--and really adorable in
the part," he said. And his nervous excitement in the imminence of
mutual danger subtly excited her.

"I ought to do it well," she said; "I have studied dramatic art and I
have had some stage experience. It's a part and I _must_ do it well. I
shall, really--Kervyn, dear."

He laughed; the dangerous game was beginning to exhilarate them both,
and a vivid colour began to burn in her delicate cheeks.

Suddenly the blond chauffeur pulled the car up along the curb in a
crowded street and stopped.

"It is better, sir, to take a hansom from here to the wharf."

"Do you think so?"

"Yes, sir.... Pardon, sir, here are passports for madam and yourself."
And he handed the papers very coolly to Guild.

The young man changed colour, realizing instantly that the papers were

"Had I better take these?" he asked under his breath.

"Yes, sir," said Bush, smiling his eternal smile and opening the car
door for them.

Guild descended. Bush set the luggage on the curb, touched his cap, and
said: "Walk south, sir, until a cabby hails you. Good-bye, sir. A
pleasant trip, madam." And he sprang back into the car, started it, and
rolled away grinning from ear to ear.

Guild took the luggage in both hands; Karen walked beside him. At the
end of the square the driver of a hansom held up one hand inquiringly,
then smiled and drew in to the curb.

"Fresh Wharf, sir?" asked the cabby.

"Yes," said Guild, calmly, red with surprise.

"Thanks, sir. I understand all about it."

                              CHAPTER VII

                              THE SATCHEL

It was only a short drive to Fresh Wharf by London Bridge. A marching
column of kilted Territorials checked them for a while and they looked
on while the advanced guard of civilians surged by, followed by pipers
and then by the long leaf-brown column at a smart swinging stride.

When the troops had passed the hansom moved on very slowly through the
human flotsam still eddying in the wake of the regiment; and after a few
more minutes it pulled up again and Guild sprang out, lifted the young
girl to the sidewalk, and handed the fare to the driver.

The latter leaned over and as he took the coins he thrust a parcel into
Guild's hands. "Your change, sir," he said genially, touched his top hat
and drove off, looking right and left for another fare.

Guild's surprised eyes fell on the packet. It contained two steamer
tickets strapped together by a rubber band.

Pushing through the throng where policemen, wharf officials and soldiers
in khaki were as numerous as civilians, Guild finally signalled a porter
to take the luggage aboard. Karen retained her satchel. A brief scrutiny
of his tickets detained them for a moment, then the porter led them up
the gang-plank and aboard and a steward directed them to their
stateroom. At the same moment a uniformed official stepped up to Guild.

"Sorry to trouble you, sir," he said politely, "but may I have your

"My name is Kervyn Guild."

The official glanced over the steamer list. "You have papers of
identification, Mr. Guild?"

Guild handed him his forged passports. The official took them, glanced
at Karen, at the luggage which the porter bore.

"Where do you go from Amsterdam, Mr. Guild?"

"Through Holland."

"Naturally. And then?"

"To the Grand Duchy."



"Where in Luxembourg?"

"I have been invited to visit friends."


"At Lesse Forest."

"Where is that?"

"Partly in the Duchy, partly in Belgium."

"Who are your friends?"

"Mrs. and Miss Courland of New York and a Mr. Darrel."

"Madam goes with you?"


The official began to unfold the passports, while he looked sideways at
the luggage. Holding the passports partly open in one hand he pointed to
Karen's satchel with the other.

"Please open that," he said, and began to examine the passports. A
deadly pallour came over the girl's face; she did not stir. Guild turned
to glance at her and was stricken dumb. But she found her speech.
"Dear," she said, with white lips, "would you mind stepping ashore and
getting me something at a chemist's?" And under her breath, pressing
close to him: "Go, for God's sake. I am afraid I shall be arrested." A
terrible fear struck through him.

"The satchel!" he motioned with his lips.

"Yes. Go while you can. Go--go--dear."

"I'll be back in a moment, Karen," he said, coolly took the satchel from
the porter, turned with it toward the gang-plank.

The official raised his eyes from the passport he was scanning.

"One moment, sir," he said.

"I'll be back directly," returned Guild, continuing on his way.

"Where are you going, Mr. Guild?"

"To a chemist's."

"Be kind enough to leave that satchel and remain here until I have
finished," said the official coldly. And to Karen: "Mrs. Guild, will you
kindly open that bag?"

"Certainly. I have the key somewhere"--searching in her reticule. And as
she searched she lifted her eyes to Guild. Her face was dead white.

"Dearest," she said in a steady voice, "will you go to the chemist's
while I am opening my bag. I _must_ have something for this headache."

Her agonized eyes said: "Save yourself while you can; I am caught!"

But Guild turned and came back to her, close, standing beside her.

"I'll open the luggage," he said quietly. "You had better step ashore
and get what you need." And, in a whisper: "Go straight to the American
Ambassador and tell him everything."

She whispered: "No; I beg of you go. I beg of you, Kervyn."

He shook his head and they stood there together; he grave and silent,
assailed by a terrible premonition; she white as death, mechanically
fumbling in her reticule with slim, childish fingers.

The official was deeply immersed in the passports and continued so even
when Karen's tremulous fingers held the key. "Give it to me," whispered

"No--" She beckoned the porter, took the satchel, and at the same moment
the official looked up at her, then holding both passports, came over to
where they were standing.

"Your papers are in order, Mr. Guild," he said. "Now, Mrs. Guild, if you
will open your satchel----"

"I'll attend to that, Holden," broke in a careless voice, and the
satchel was taken out of Karen's hands by a short, dark young man in
uniform. "I want you to go forward and look at a gentleman for The Hague
who has no papers. He's listed as Begley. Do you mind?"

"Right," said Holden. "Here, Mitchell, these papers are satisfactory.
Look over Mr. Guild's luggage and come forward when you're finished.
What's his name? Begley?"

"Yes, American. I'll be with you in a moment."

Holden hastened forward; Mitchell looked after him for a moment, then
calmly handed back the unopened satchel to Karen and while she held it
he made a mark on it with a bit of chalk.

"I pass your luggage," he said in a low voice, stooping and marking the
suit-case and Guild's sack. "You have nothing to fear at Amsterdam, but
there are spies on this steamer. Best go to your cabin and stay there
until the boat docks."

The girl bent her little head in silence; the porter resumed the luggage
and piloted them aft through an ill-lighted corridor. When he came to
the door of their cabin he called a steward, took his tip from Guild,
touched his cap and went away.

The steward opened the stateroom door for them, set the luggage on the
lounge, asked if there was anything more he could do, was told that
there was not, and took himself off.

Guild locked the door after him, turned and looked down at the girl, who
had sunk trembling upon the lounge.

"What is there in that satchel?" he asked coldly.

"I don't know."

"_What!_" he said in a contemptuous voice.

"Kervyn--my friend--I do not know," she stammered.

"You _must_ know! You packed it!"

"Yes. But I do not know. Can't you believe me?"

"How can I? You know what you put into that satchel, don't you?"

"I--put in toilet articles--night clothes--money."

"What else? You put in something else, didn't you? Something that has
made you horribly afraid!"


"What is it?"

"Kervyn--I don't _know_ what it is. I must not know. It is a matter of

"If you don't know what it is you carry in that satchel you evidently
suspect what it might prove to be."


"You have very strong suspicions?"

"Yes, I have."

"Why did you take such a thing?"

"I promised."


"I can't tell you. It is a matter of honour. I--I didn't want to involve
you if things turned badly. I asked you to leave me.... Even at the last
moment I tried to give you a chance to go ashore and escape. Kervyn,
I've tried to be honourable and to be loyal to you at the same time.
I've tried--I've tried--" Her childish voice faltered, almost broke, and
she turned her head sharply away from him.

He dropped onto the lounge beside her, sick with anxiety, and laid his
hand over hers where it lay in her lap.

"I'm afraid that you have papers in that satchel which might mean the
end of the world for you," he said under his breath. "God alone knows
why you carry them if you suspect their contents.... Well, I won't ask
you anything more at present.... If your conscience acquits you, I do. I
do anyway. You have given me plenty of chances to escape. You have been
very plucky, very generous to me, Karen."

"I have tried to be," she said unsteadily. "You have been far too kind
to me, Kervyn.... I--I don't mean to tremble so. I think I am, feeling
the--the reaction."

"Lie down. I am afraid I'll have to stay here----"

"Yes; don't go out on deck. Don't take any more risks.... I'll lie down
if I may." She rose, looked around with eyes still darkly dilated by

"Oh!" she breathed--"if we were only out of British waters!"

He looked at his watch, and at the same moment a deep blast from the
steamer vibrated through the cabin.

"They've cast off," he said calmly.

The girl had flung herself on the bed and buried her face in the pillow.
Her brown velvet hat had fallen to the floor, her thick brown hair
clustered in glossy disorder over neck and cheek. One slim hand clutched
convulsively a tiny handkerchief crushed into a ball.

"We have every chance now," he said very gently, bending over the
pillow--"barring a wireless to some British guard-ship. Don't give way
yet, Karen." He laid a cool, firm hand over hers and tried to speak
jestingly. "Wait until there's no danger at all before you go all to
pieces," he whispered.

As he bent above her, he became conscious of the warm fragrance of
tears. But no sound came, not a quiver. And after a while he went over
to the sofa and sat down, staring at the locked satchel on the floor,
vaguely aware that the boat was in steady motion.

"Karen," he said after a moment.


"You know," he said, forcing a laugh, "you needn't say it when we're
alone--except for practice."

"Yes, dear, I know."

"May I ask you something?"

"Yes, please."

"Did you know that official named Mitchell?"


"Who was he?"

"Mr. Grätz."

                              CHAPTER VIII

                                 AT SEA

The funnel smoke blew low, burying the afterdecks, and a hurricane of
scud and spindrift swept everything forward, drenching the plunging
steamer to the bridge. Stanchions, davits, hatches were all a-dip, decks
a-wash, and the Dutch ensign whipping aloft in a thick grey sky that
seemed to speed astern as though in chase of the heaving grey waste of
waters that fled away beneath.

Here and there a trawler tossed and rocked; lean, melancholy wanderers
on the face of the waters; twice the raking stacks of destroyers,
smothered in foam, dashed eastward running full speed on some occult
trail twixt sky and sea.

The grey world grew duller, duller; one by one the blinding searchlights
on coast-guard ships broke out, sweeping sky and ocean as though in
desperate appeal to the God above and in menacing warning to the devils
that lurked below.

For they said the North Sea was full of them; legions of them tossed
broadcast from the black hell of some human mind. And beneath them,
deeper, lying as still as death on the Channel's floor, waited the human
submarines in unseen watery depths--motionless, patient, awaiting the
moment to strike.

Night came; the white level glare of searchlights flooded the steamer,
lingered, shifted, tossed their dazzling arms heavenward as though
imploring the Most High, then swept unseen horizons where the outermost
waters curve with the curving globe.

                               * * * * *

Only one light burned in the stateroom, but the port was not covered.

Karen lay on the bed, unstirring save for a slight tremor of her
shoulders now and then. Her brown hair, half loosened, had fallen in
thick burnished curls on the pillow; one hand covered her eyes, palm
outward. Under it the vivid lips, scarcely parted, rested on each other
in a troubled curve.

Guild brooded silently on the lounge under the port. Sometimes his
sombre gaze rested on her, sometimes on the locked satchel which had
rolled to the side of the bed.

Every time the arrowy beam of light from a warship flooded the cabin
with swift white splendour his heart seemed to stop, for the menace of
the wireless was always a living dread; and the stopping of a neutral
ship and the taking from it of suspects had become a practice too common
even to excite comment, let alone protest.

Twice they were stopped; twice Ardoise signals twinkled; but no cutter
came alongside, and no officer boarded them. It was an eternity of
suspense to Guild, and he stood by the open port, listening, the satchel
in his hand ready to fling it out into the turmoil of heaving waters.

The steward came, and Guild ordered something served for them both in
the stateroom. Karen had not awakened, but her hand had slipped from her
eyes and it lay across the edge of the bed.

On the bridal finger glimmered the plain gold band--his credentials to
her from her father.

He went over and looked down into the white, childish face. Faultless,
serene, wonderful as a flower it seemed to him. Where the black lashes
rested the curve of the cheek was faintly tinted with colour. All else
was snowy save for the vivid rose of the scarcely parted lips.

Nineteen!--and all those accomplishments which her dim living-room at
Westheath had partly revealed--where books in many languages had
silently exposed the mind that required them--where pictures, music--all
the unstudied and charming disorder of this young girl's intimate
habitation had delicately revealed its tenant.

And what her living-room had foreshadowed was only, after all, but a
tinted phantom of the girl he had come to know in the flesh--the real
mistress of that dim room quickened to life--a warm, living, breathing
reality, low-voiced, blue-eyed, winsome and sweet with the vague
fragrance of youth incarnate clinging to her, to every gesture, every
movement, every turn of her head--to her very skirts it seemed--youth,
freshness, purity unblemished.

As he stood there he tried to realize that she was German--this young
girl with her low and charming English voice and her accentless English

He had listened in vain for any flaw, any indication of alien birth.
Nothing betrayed her as a foreigner, except, possibly, a delightfully
quaint formality in accepting any service offered. For when he asked her
whether she desired this or that, or if he might do this or that for
her, always her answer in the affirmative was, "Yes, please," like a
little girl who had been carefully taught to respect age. It amused him;
for modern English young women are less punctilious with modern youth.

There came a dull clatter of crockery from the passageway; Guild turned
and opened the door. The waiter produced a folding table, spread it, and
arranged the dishes.

"That will be all," whispered Guild. "Don't knock again; I'll set the
tray outside."

So the waiter went away and Guild closed the door again and turned back
to the bed where Karen lay. Her delicate brows were now slightly knitted
and the troubled curve of her lips hinted again of a slumber not wholly
undisturbed by subconscious apprehension.

"Karen," he said in a low voice.

The girl opened her eyes. They had that starry freshness that one sees
in the eyes of waking children. For a moment her confused gaze met his
without expression, then a hot flush stained her face and she sat up
hurriedly. Down tumbled the thick, burnished locks and her hands flew
instinctively to twist them up.

"I didn't realize that I had been asleep. Please, will you turn your
back"--her glance fell on the table--"I shall be ready in a

"Had I not better give you the place to yourself?"

"Yes, please."

"I'll do a sentry-go in the corridor," he said. "Open the door when
you're quite ready."

So he went out and walked up and down until the stateroom door opened
and her low voice summoned him.

"I can't eat," she said.

"Do you feel the sea?"

"No"--she smiled faintly--"but the excitement of the day--the

"We'll have some tea, anyway," he said.

They ate a little after all, and the hot and rather vile tea stimulated
her. Presently he set tray and table outside in the corridor and came
slowly back to where she had gathered herself in a corner of the sofa.

"The sea is rather rough," he said. "You seem to be a good sailor."

"Yes, I am. My father had a yacht and my mother and I always went when
he cruised."

This slightest glimpse of personal history--the first she had
vouchsafed--the first slight lifting of the curtain which hung between
them, aroused his latent curiosity.

What else lay behind that delicate, opaque veil which covered the
nineteen years of her? What had been the childhood, the earlier life of
this young girl whom he had found living alone with a maid and a single
servant at an obscure heath outside of London?

Gently born, gently bred young girls of aristocratic precedents, don't
do that sort of thing. Even if they desire to try it, they are not
permitted. Also they don't go on the stage, as a rule.

Neither the sign manual, the sign visible of the theatre, nor yet that
occult indefinable something characteristic of the footlights appeared
to taint her personality.

Talented as she was undoubtedly, cultured and gently nurtured, the sum
total of all her experience, her schooling, her development, and her art
had resulted only in a charming harmony, not a personality aggressively
accented in any single particular. Any drawing-room in any country might
have contained this young girl. Homes which possess drawing-rooms breed
the self-possession, the serenity, the soft voice, the winsome candour
and directness of such girls as she.

She was curled up in the corner of the sofa where he had placed behind
her the two pillows from the bed, and her winning blue eyes rested every
few minutes upon this young man whom she had known only a few hours and
whom she already, in her heart and in her mind, was calling a friend.

She had never had any among young men--never even among older men had
she experienced the quiet security, the untroubled certainty of such a
friendship as had begun now--as had suddenly stepped into her life, new,
yet strangely familiar--a friendship that seemed instantly fully
developed and satisfactory.

There appeared to be no room for doubt about it, no occasion for
waiting, no uncertainty in her mind, no inclination and no thought of
the lesser conventionalities which must strew elaborately the path of
first acquaintance with the old, old-fashioned garlands--those prim,
stiff blossoms of discretion, of propriety, of self-conscious concession
to formula and tradition.

No; when her eyes first fell on him her mind and heart seemed to
recognize what neither had ever before beheld--a friend. And from that
moment the girl had accepted the matter as settled, as far as she
herself was concerned. And she had lost very little time in acquainting
herself with his views upon the subject.

That he had responded to the friendship she had so naïvely offered did
not surprise her. She seemed to have expected it--perhaps in the peril
of the moments when they were nearing London and doubt and suspicion in
her mind concerning the contents of her satchel were becoming an agony
to her as they grew more definite--perhaps even then the sudden and deep
sense of gratitude for his response had made courage a new necessity and
had armoured her against panic--for friendship's sake.

All she realized in that moment was that this friendship, so sudden, so
vital, was already so strong in her, so real, that even in the terror of
that instant she thought of the danger to him, and asked him to let her
go on alone.

Perhaps they both were thinking of these things--she, curled up in her
corner, looking thoughtfully at him; he, knees crossed, gazing
restlessly from object to object in the unsteady stateroom, but his eyes
always reverting to her.

Then the duet of silence ended for a while. He said: "You must not
suppose that I am not keenly alive to the kindness, the fearless
generosity you have shown me all through this affair. What you suffered
is lodged forever in my mind--and in my heart."

"What you have done for me is in my--heart," she said in her sweetly
modulated voice.

"I have done very little----"

"You would not leave me!"

"My own life was forfeit if I did----"

"No! You did not reason that way! Besides, had I managed to get through
alone, you should have had your life back again to do with as you
pleased. No; you did not reason that way. You stood by a friend in
peril--at your own peril."

She drew a deep, tremulous breath. "More than that," she said, "you
stood by me when you almost believed I had lied to you--lied

"I had my plans ready--in that event," he said, forcing a laugh.

"You _did_ doubt me?"


She bent her head, looked thoughtfully at her hands, which clasped one
knee, then, lifting her eyes: "I forgive you," she said gravely.

He flushed: "I did not know you--did not realize--what you are----"

"You were slower than I."


"I trusted _you_--from the first."

He was silent; she watched him for a few moments, then:

"When you concluded that I had lied to you, what plans had you ready?"

"I had rather not say----"

"Please do."

He bit his lip: "I had decided to take your satchel from you."

"Against my wishes?" she asked, amazed.


There was no resentment, only a childish surprise: "Why?"

"I told you that I am an enemy to your country."

"Yes, I know----"

"I told you that I would not knowingly permit you to take out of England
anything which might be detrimental to England's interests. And I made
up my mind that if you had deceived me--and although I stood by
you--because you are only a young girl--and were in danger from those
who make no allowance for youth and sex--nevertheless, as soon as you
were in personal safety, I meant to take from you whatever you had
concealed from me and which might have been of service to England's

"Would you have done that?"

"Yes, if you had been untruthful to me."

She bent her head, thoughtfully; then looking up at him: "Yes; that
would have been just.... But I have not been untruthful."

His perplexed and slightly careworn eyes met hers.

"I can't doubt you," he said. "I know you have been truthful. But--what
_is_ in that satchel? Forgive me, I _must_ ask you. Because there is
evidently enough there to terrify you at the thought of British eyes
inspecting it."

"Kervyn--can't you believe me when I tell you that I don't _know_ what
is in that satchel?"

"I _do_ believe you. But tell me what you are afraid it might be."

"I can't--truly I can't tell you. Don't you understand? Don't you
realize that I must have promised?"


"Yes--not to unlock or open the satchel. I _did_ promise."

"To whom did you make that promise?" And, as she did not reply: "Was the
promise made to anybody I ever met?"

She looked at him in a distressed way, but his face darkened and his
determination increased.

"Did you make that promise to a German? An officer? Did you make it to
General von Reiter?"


"I see. And there _are_ papers in that satchel!"


"Where did you get them?"

"From--Mr. Grätz."

"You were accustomed to receive papers from Mr. Grätz?"


"At certain intervals?"

"I don't know. Whenever Mr. Grätz telephoned, Anna, my maid, went to
London and usually brought back the--the plans."


"Yes. I understood that they were plans of a new automobile which was
being designed by the Edmeston Agency for their Berlin branch. Mr. Grätz
mentioned it as the Bauer-Schroeder car."

"To whom were these plans to go, ultimately?"

"I sent them to New York."

"To whom?"

"To Schimmel and Company, Broadway."

"Have you any idea where Schimmel and Company sent those plans?"

"Yes. I never thought much about it then, but today I realized that
sooner or later the plans were sent to General von Reiter--in Berlin."

"You are sure?"

"Yes. I saw them when I was there last April. He said that those were
the plans which I had sent to Schimmel and Company."

"You _saw_ the plans?"


"Were they plans of an automobile?"

"I--thought so then. They were on very thin paper. I supposed them to be
drawings of detached machinery in sections. They looked to me like
fragments of something."

"And now--in the light of what happened today--what do you believe those
drawings represented?"

"I have no idea--really I haven't. Only--" She hesitated, troubled,
twisting her fingers on her knees.

"Only--" he prompted her.

She said, with a tremulous intake of breath: "I think I had better tell
you, Kervyn. This is what frightened me--what the experience of today
seemed to suddenly make plain to me--I mean your coming to Westheath,
Mr. Grätz telephoning about obeying you, and informing me of the arrest
of my maid--these things, and the war, and what I have read about German
spies in England--all this flashed up in my mind at the same time when
you turned from the telephone and asked me such terrible questions.

"It made clear to me, or seemed to, something else that I had not
understood at the time--" She hesitated, her gaze concentrated as though
in an effort to recollect and visualize some scene--

"It was last April, in Berlin.... General Baron von Reiter said
something to me as I was waiting for his car to take me to the
station--I was departing for England again--and he said--he said----"

"Yes, Karen?"

"He said something about war--the possibility of it. And he said that in
case war ever came while I was in England, and if, when it came, I had
in my possession any automobile plans from the Edmeston Agency--from Mr.
Grätz--that I was to bring them with me to Germany--not to show them to
anybody, not to send them by mail, but to bring them back and deliver
them to him."

"Yes, Karen."

"I promised.... He made me promise again. He was very serious. He said
that on my obedience in this matter might depend the lives of many
people. I had no idea what he meant by that--until today.... And what I
fear has happened is that Anna, who went yesterday to London because Mr.
Grätz telephoned, was arrested while in possession of papers delivered
to her by Mr. Grätz.... And that these papers were _not_ what I had
always supposed. And that is why I was suddenly afraid--afraid--Oh,
Kervyn!--I cannot describe the fear that leaped up and seized me when
you asked me those dreadful questions! Suddenly everything, every detail
in the entire matter seemed to grow clear and terrible to me.... I--I
went into my dressing-room--and steadied myself against the
wall--feeling faint for a moment.

"Then I took from my dressing-table the papers which I had from Anna's
last visit to Mr. Grätz. They had remained there in the drawer because I
had been told not to mail them, and no word had come for me to go back
to Berlin. So I had them on my hands. But until you came I gave them no
thought--merely conscious that I had promised to take them back with me.

"But--in that terrible moment when I stood there leaning against the
wall, I remembered what was said to me about the lives of many people
depending upon my keeping my promise. It was a hideous thing to remember
at such a time.... But I could not break my word--for the sake of these
imperilled people also--could I, Kervyn?... So I took the papers and
locked them in my satchel. And afterward I--I _asked_ you to leave--"
Her voice quivered; she bent her head and sat twisting her slim fingers
on her lap.

"That is all I know," she faltered--"all I know about it. I have tried
to be true to my word, and loyal to--you."

Her emotion was reflected in his own face; he bent forward, laid his
hand over her restless fingers.

"Karen," he said, "you are the pluckiest, straightest, whitest woman I
ever knew."

"I'm only--honest," she whispered.... "And I want you to think me so."

"I do!--Karen, dearest, sincerest, most fearless of women!"

"Do you believe me--that?"

"Karen, I----"

A sharp knocking at the door cut him short. They looked at each other,
startled. At the same moment he realized that the ship had stopped.

"Could it be the stewardess?" she whispered.

"I don't know."

He rose, picked up the satchel and went to the open port.

"If a British guard-ship has stopped us to search us, we can't have this
thing found," he said.

She stared at him in frightened silence.

"They may have found those men we tied up and left in your house at
Westheath!" he whispered. "A wireless would set a score of warships
ready to intercept us. If they board us they must not find that

The sharp, loud rapping came again.

Guild went to the open port, pushed the satchel through it, leaned out
himself. As he did so something brushed his head, and, looking up, he
saw a rope's end dangling there.

In an instant he had tied it to the handle of the satchel, stepped back,
screwed the heavy glass fast, and then, motioning Karen to fling herself
on the bed, he went to the door, opened it, and stood yawning in the
face of a ship's officer.

"Don't wake my wife," he said drowsily. "What is the trouble?"

"The trouble is," replied the officer coldly, "that a British cruiser
has signalled us to stop, and has asked whether an American named Guild
is aboard."

                               CHAPTER IX

                            H. M. S. WYVERN

"Well," said Guild coolly, "have you any idea what a casual British
cruiser might want of _me_?"

"I have not," said the officer, "so perhaps you had better tell _me_
what is wanted of yourself and your wife by the captain of that warship.
It might save some argument between him and our own captain. We are due
in Amsterdam at noon tomorrow," he added meaningly.

"Do you mean to say that the officer in command of this British ship
desires to speak to my wife?"

"His signals stopped us and his wireless told us to detain you and your

"What ship is it?" demanded the young man, so nervous now that he
scarcely knew what he was saying.

The Dutch officer remained icy and precise: "The ship is the light
cruiser _Wyvern_, of the 'Monster' class. Her consorts yonder are the
_Hippogriff_ and _Basalisk_--if this information enlightens you, Mr.

"It does not. But I know this much: You can't detain an American!
Neither can that British captain take a neutral from a neutral ship! And
that settles the matter."

"Be good enough to come on deck," said the Hollander in his correct and
fluent English. "The captain desires to speak with you."

"Very well. I'll follow you in a moment"--and turning to Karen:
"Dearest, are you awake?"

"Yes, dear."

"The captain wishes to see me. I'll be back directly." He stepped out
into the corridor, hesitated, excused himself to the officer, and
returned to Karen, closing the door and locking it.

She was sitting up on the bed, very still and white, and when he came
over to her she instinctively laid both chilled hands in his. He held
them in a firm and reassuring clasp; but he was terribly disconcerted.

"Listen, dear. I think a British officer is coming aboard for us. I
don't know whether he has any right to take us off this ship, but I'm
afraid that the law in the matter won't worry him.

"Now listen to me, dear. If I come back and knock and call to you by
name, open. If somebody knocks, and there is no voice--or if it is not
my voice, go to that port, open it, untie your satchel, which is hanging
outside at a rope's end, take out the papers, and drop them into the
sea. And not until you have done this shall you open the door to

"Yes, Kervyn."

"Then," he said, "if we've got to go back to England on a warship, we'll
go clean-handed."


"And you had better take these passports, too." He drew them from his
breast pocket. "They're forged. Throw them out with the other papers."

"Yes, I will."

"Then--I'm going.... Don't worry--dear. Don't tremble so, Karen--dear

"I'll try not to. I'll not be cowardly. It--it has been a long--day....
I'm thinking of Anna, too. You know, if she had any papers, she was
bringing them to me. That will be against me."

"I forgot that," he said, appalled. Then he squared his shoulders and
forced a smile: "Anyway, whatever faces you faces us _both_!...
Dear--keep every atom of courage you have. I shall stand by you, always.
But I must go now. Do you promise me to keep up courage?"


They were excited, their every nerve now stretched to the breaking, yet
both were striving for self-control in the instant menace of this new
peril confronting them. Neither knew just what they said or did; he bent
over her; she lifted her face to his, closing her eyes as his lips
touched her forehead. Then he went away swiftly, and she sprang to the
floor and locked the stateroom door. The next moment the awful flare of
a searchlight turned the room to a pit of silvery fire, and she cringed
against the bed under the fierce white glory, covering her bloodless
face with both hands.

On deck, the Dutch captain, who was awaiting Guild at the companionway,
came forward hastily and drew him aside.

"They've boarded us already," he said; "there comes their lieutenant
over the side. Tell me, Mr. Guild, are your papers in order and your
conscience clear? Can I make a fight over this affair?"

"I have no papers, but my conscience is in order. Don't let them take us
if you can help it."

"You have no papers?"

"None that can help me or my wife."

"Then it's no use fighting."

"Fight all the same!" whispered Guild, as they both turned to meet the
young naval officer who had just stepped aboard. He and the Dutch
captain exchanged civilities stiffly, then Guild stepped forward into
the lantern light.

"Kervyn Guild!" exclaimed the slim young officer in surprise. "Is it

"Jamison!" ejaculated Guild, astonished. "Well this is lucky! I'm
tremendously glad! I am indeed!"

They exchanged a warm impulsive hand-clasp, smiled at each other--then
the quick smile on the youthful lieutenant's features altered, and his
face fell.

"Guild," he said soberly, "I am afraid I shall have to inconvenience you
and--your wife. I'm afraid I shall have to ask you to come aboard the
_Wyvern_ with me. I'm sorry; I know it must inconvenience you

"Jamison! We _can't_ go aboard your ship! What on earth are you thinking

"Orders," returned the young fellow gravely. "I've no discretion, you

As by common consent they had stepped aside from the group of ships'
officers and, standing in the shadow of a lifeboat, they now gazed at
each other very seriously.

Guild said: "There must be some mistake about this. I have no wife on
board this boat."

"Did you not board this boat in company with your wife?" asked Jamison
in a low voice.


"Our information is otherwise."

"Jamison, you know whether I am likely to lie to you. And I say to you
on my word of honour that I did not come aboard this boat with my wife."

"Is she not on board?"

"She is not."

Jamison said regretfully: "No good, old fellow. We know she is not your
wife. But we want her. I think you had better prepare her to come with

"Jamison, will you listen to me and believe me?"

"Yes, of course."

"Then, on my word of honour, the woman you have come to take from this
ship is absolutely innocent of any--intentional--crime."

"I take your word for it, Guild."

"You can guess _my_ sentiments in regard to this war, can't you?"
insisted Guild.

"I think I can."

"Then listen, Jamison. I pledge you my word that through this young
girl, and through me, nothing shall ever happen that could in any manner
be detrimental to your country or its allies. Don't press this matter,
for God's sake!"

"Guild," he said quietly, "I believe you absolutely. But--both you and
this young lady must come aboard the _Wyvern_ with me. Those are my
orders, old fellow. I can't go back on them; I have no discretion in
this matter. You know that, don't you?"


After a silence, Guild linked his arm in the gold-laced arm of his
old-time friend and walked back to where the captain stood fidgeting.

"I won't go, Jamison," he said, loudly but pleasantly. "I am not obliged
to go aboard your ship. Captain Vandervelde, I claim the protection of
your flag for myself and for my wife."

"Captain Vandervelde knows that it means only trouble for him," said
Jamison, forcing a smile. "He is not likely to defy the _Wyvern_, I

They all turned in the sudden glitter of the _Wyvern's_ searchlight and
gazed across the darkness where the unseen cruiser was playing on them
from stem to stern.

"Will you come with me, Guild?" asked Jamison quietly.

"No, Jamison, I'm hanged if I do.... And that's too close to the truth
to be very funny," he added, laughingly.

"The _Wyvern_ will merely send a guard for you. It's no good bluffing,
Guild. You know it yourself."

"International law is no bluff!"

"International law is merely in process of evolution just now. It's in
the making. And we are making it."

"That remark is very British."

"Yes, I'm afraid it is. I'm sorry."

"Well, I won't go aboard the _Wyvern_, I tell you. I've _got_ to stay on
this ship! I--" he leaned over and said under his breath--"it may mean
death to me, Jamison, to go aboard your ship. Not because of anything I
have to fear from _your_ people. On the contrary. But they'll shoot me
in Germany. Can't you tell your captain I'm trustworthy?"

"What is the use, Guild?" said the young man gently. "I have my orders."

Guild looked at him, looked about him at the grave faces of the captain
and the second officer, looked out across the black void of water where
the long beam of the searchlight had shifted skyward, as though
supplicating Heaven once more.

Only a miracle could save Karen. He knew that as he stood there, silent,
with death in his heart.

And the miracle happened. For, as he stood staring at the heavenward
beam of the unseen cruiser's searchlight, all at once the ship herself
became grotesquely visible, tilted up oddly out of the sea in the centre
of a dull reddish glow. The next instant a deadened boom sounded across
the night as though from infinite depths; a shaft of fire two hundred
feet high streamed skyward.

"That ship has been torpedoed! Oh, my God!" said a voice.

"The _Wyvern_ has hit a mine!" roared the Dutch captain. "I'm going to
get out of this _now_!"

Jamison's youthful face was marble; he swayed slightly where he stood.
The next instant he was over the side like a cat, and Guild heard him
hailing his boat in an agonized voice which broke with a dry, boyish

From everywhere out of the blackness searchlights stretched out
tremulous phantom arms toward the _Wyvern_, and their slender white
beams crossed and recrossed each other, focussing on the stricken
warship, which was already down by the stern, her after deck awash, and
that infernal red glow surrounding her like the glow of hell around a
soul in torment.

Passengers, seamen, stewards crowded and crushed him to the rail,
shouting, struggling, crying out in terror or in pity.

Guild caught an officer by his gold sleeve. "We ought to stand by her,"
he said mechanically. "Her magazine is afire!"

"There are boats a-plenty to look after her," returned the officer; "the
British destroyers are all around her like chicks about a dying hen.
She's their parent ship; and there go their boats, pulling hell for
sweeps! God! If it was a mine, I wish we were at Amsterdam, I do!"

The steamer was already under way; electric signals sparkled from her;
signals were sparkling everywhere in the darkness around them. And all
the while the cruiser with her mortal wound, enveloped in her red aura,
agonized there in the horrible sombre radiance of her own burning

Far away in the black void a ship began to fire star-shells.

As the awed throng on the moving liner's decks gazed out across the
night, the doomed cruiser split slowly amidships, visibly, showing the
vivid crack of her scarlet, jagged wound. For a second or two she fairly
vomited hell-fire; lay there spouting it out in great crimson gouts;
then she crashed skyward into incandescent fragments like a single
gigantic bomb, and thunderous blackness blotted out sea and sky once

                               CHAPTER X


He knocked sharply at the stateroom door and called, "Karen! It is I!

She flung open the door, satchel in hand, and he entered, closed the
door, relocked it, and dropped down on the lounge, staring at space.

"Kervyn! What is it?" she asked faintly, one hand against her breast.

"It is all right," he said--"as far as we are concerned--for the
present, anyway. God! I can't realize it--I can't get over it----"

"What, Kervyn?" she faltered, kneeling on the lounge beside the half
dazed man. "What happened? Why are you so ghastly pale? Are we really
quite safe? Or are you trying to make it easier for me----"

"No; you and I are safe enough for the moment," he said. "But men are
dying out yonder. The sea is full of dead men, Karen. And--I saw it

"I heard guns. What has happened?"

"I don't know. It was a mine perhaps, perhaps a torpedo. A ship has been
blown up." He lifted his head and turned to her: "But you are not to say
such a thing to anybody--after I leave you at Trois Fontaines."

"No, Kervyn."

"Not to anybody. Not even to your father. Do you understand me, Karen?"

"No. But I won't tell anybody."

"Because," he explained wearily, "the Admiralty may have reasons for
concealing it. If they mean to conceal it, this ship of ours will be
stopped again and held for a while in some French or British port."


"So that the passengers cannot talk about what they saw tonight."

His haunted glance fell on the satchel at their feet. "As for that," he
said, "I've had enough of it, and I'll take no further chances. Where
are our passports?"

"Locked in with the other papers. I was all ready to throw them out of
the port when you knocked."

"Unlock the bag now. I'll get rid of the whole business," he said

"Kervyn--I can't do that."

"What?" he exclaimed.

"I can't destroy those papers if there is a chance of getting through
with them. I gave my promise, you know."

The dull surprise in his eyes changed gradually to impatience.

"If another ship stops us, they'll have to go overboard, anyway."

"We may not be stopped again. If we are, we have time."



A slight flush came into his haggard face; he hesitated, looked up at
her where she was kneeling on the sofa beside him. "Dear," he said
gently, "I have never intended that you should carry those papers to
your father, or to anybody else."

"I don't quite understand you."

"Try to understand. I am a friend to England--even a closer friend

"I know. But you are _my_ friend, too."

"Devotedly, Karen." He took hold of her hand; she slipped down to the
sofa and settled there beside him with a little air of confidence which
touched and troubled him.

"I _am_ your friend," he said. "But there is another friendship that
demands first of all the settlement of prior obligations. And, if these
obligations conflict with any others, the others must give way, Karen."

"What do you mean?"

"The obligations of friendship--of--of affection--these must give way
before a duty more imperative."

"What duty?"



"To the country in which my race had its origin."

"Yes.... But America is neutral, Kervyn."

"I mean--Belgium," he said in a low voice.

"Belgium! Are you then Belgian?" she asked, amazed.

"When Belgium is in trouble--yes."

"How can you be loyal to two countries?"

"By being loyal to my own manhood--and to the God who made me," he
answered in a low voice.

"You feel so deeply about this war?"

"Nothing on earth could stir me as deeply, Karen. Unless--America were
in danger."

"I--I can't understand."

"Let me help you. My family was Belgian. For many years we have been
good and loyal Americans. America means home. But, nevertheless, we
inherit obligations toward the country of our origin which, so far, time
has not extinguished.... When I became of military age I went to Belgium
and served my time in the Belgian army. Then I went--home. My father did
it before me. My grandfather before him. My younger brother will do it,
God willing. It is our custom to fulfill our obligations," he added with
a faint smile, "even when those obligations seem to others a trifle
fanciful and old-fashioned."

She bent her fair head in silence, considering for a space, her hand
resting rather lifelessly in his. And, after a few moments: "But how
does all this interfere with our friendship?" she asked innocently.

"It does not.... Only I could not let you take those papers to Germany,

"But I've promised."

"You promised to do it if it were possible." He lifted her hand to his
lips. "But--it has become impossible, Karen."

"Another ship may not interfere."

"No. But I must--interfere."

"You! _Kervyn!_"

"Dear--I _must_."

"_Betray_ me?"

"Karen! Karen! What are you saying?"

"If you take my papers away you betray our friendship!"

"I have told you that there is a higher obligation than friendship. Even
_your_ friendship, Karen."

"You--you mean to take my papers from me?"

"Yes, dear."

"By--by _violence_?"

"Karen! Look at me!"

She gave him a white, breathless glance, wrenched her hand from his,
stooped suddenly, seized the satchel, and, gathering it against her
breast, clasped both arms around it. Then she looked him straight in the

"Yes," he said, "that is the only way. You must keep your word to the
last and do your best. Only--remember that what I do now has no bearing
whatever upon our friendship. I--I care for you--at this moment--more
than I ever did. So--forgive me--Karen----"

"I never shall! Kervyn! Kervyn--think what you are doing!----"

He encircled her with his left arm, and with his right hand he gathered
both of her slender wrists in his grasp and held them. The satchel
rolled from her knees to the floor.

"Kervyn!" she cried, "think what you are doing!" She looked up into his
set face where he held her crushed against his shoulder. "I am your
friend. Think what you are doing! I--I care--so much--for you!"

"And I for you, Karen.... Is that the key around your neck on that blue

"You shall not have it. Oh, Kervyn! Kervyn!" she gasped--"what are you
doing to our friendship! What are you doing!"

[Illustration: "'Kervyn! Kervyn--Think what you are doing!--'"]

The struggle was already over; with his left arm he held both of her
arms pinned tightly to the supple body which lay panting against him,
while with his other hand he untied the narrow blue bow-knot at her
throat and freed the tiny key. Then he released her. They both were
deadly pale. She dropped back among the pillows and lay there staring at
him. There was in the white calm of her face an expression almost

"So--you have done it," she said in a curiously altered voice, but her
lips scarcely moved when she spoke.

He did not answer, but in her level eyes he saw blue lightning glimmer.

"You did your best," he said. "Your conscience is clear. Nobody can
reproach you."

"Do you understand," she said in a low, expressionless voice, "that I am
your enemy?"

"Do you reason that way, Karen?"


"Yes. Reason it out, Karen, before you come to such a conclusion."

She said, very quietly: "A woman takes a shorter cut to her conclusions
than by reasoning. As I did with you ... when I gave you my friendship
... unasked--" She turned her head swiftly, and sat for a moment while
the starting tears dried in her eyes, unshed. They dried slowly while
the battle raged within her--combat of mind and heart with every
outraged instinct in arms, every emotion, every impulse. Pride, belief,
faith, tenderness--all desperately wounded, fought blindly in the
assault upon her heart, seeming to tear it to a thousand bleeding

Perhaps, like the fair body of Osiris, it was immortal--a deathless,
imperishable thing--or that what had come into it had become
indestructible. For, after her heart lay in burning fragments within
her, she turned and looked at him, and in her eyes was all the tragedy
of her sex--and all its never-ending mystery to men.

"I must end what I have begun," he said gently.

"Does it matter, now?"

"I don't know, Karen. I have no choice--even when your hatred threatens
me.... I suppose it will be that, when I unlock your satchel."

He picked it up and fitted the key to the lock. As he opened it, a faint
fresh fragrance came from it, as though he was violating the delicate
intimacy of this young girl herself.

But he set his jaws; she saw the cheek muscles tighten; and he drew from
the satchel two flat envelopes. One contained the forged passports, and
he placed these in his breast pocket, then looked steadily at her.

"Our friendship breaks with those seals," she said unsteadily.

"Karen--I cannot help it."

"Yes, you can help it.... Kervyn!... Wait! I will--will say--that it is
more than friendship that breaks--" She caught her breath and her lip
quivered--"I--I have the courage to say it--if it means anything to
you--if it will help----"

His face reddened, then it grew pallid and expressionless.

"Even that," he said, "must stand aside.... Karen, from the moment I saw
you I have been--in love with you."

And, looking her steadily in the eyes, he broke the seals.

When the last seal broke she gave a little cry, turned and covered her
eyes with both hands.

As for Guild, he stood with a sheet of paper in his hands, staring at
the tracery which covered it and which meant absolutely nothing to him.
Then he looked at the remaining sheets of paper. None had any
significance to him. There were three sheets of thin translucent paper.
These sheets were numbered from one to three.

The first seemed to be a hasty study from some artist's sketch book. It
appeared to be a roughly executed and hasty sketch of several rather
oddly shaped trees--a mere note jotted down to record the impression of
the moment--trees, a foreland, a flight of little hedge birds.


On it, in English, the artist had written "Sunset." Indeed, the
declining and somewhat archaic sun on the horizon and the obviously
evening flight of the birds seemed to render the label unnecessary.

For a long while Guild stood studying it in the light of the stateroom
ceiling lamp. And what continually arrested his attention and perplexed
him was the unusual shapes of the trees and the un-birdlike flight of
the birds. Also artists don't sketch on such paper.

Now and then he looked across at Karen with an inscrutable expression,
and each time he looked at her his face seemed to grow more rigid and
his set jaws more inflexible.

The girl crouched in the corner of the lounge, her face covered by both
hands and pressed against the pillows.

He did not speak to her. Presently he turned to the next paper. It bore
the rough sketch of a fish, and was numbered 2.


It was a wretched drawing, intended, evidently, to resemble an old pike
and three young ones. What it meant he had no idea. He passed to the
third and last sheet of paper, and it instantly held his attention.

On it was depicted a figure, which he supposed was the artist's idea of
a Japanese dancing girl. She held a fan in her left hand. Over her
extended right hand a butterfly hovered.


But what interested and concentrated Guild's attention was not the very
amateurish drawing, but the series of silly decorations on the paper
above her head--a number of quartered circles inclosed in squares and


As decorations they meant nothing, indicated nothing, except that the
intellect responsible for them must be a meagre one.

But as a cipher message these doubly bisected circles promised anything.

This is what Guild saw and what caused him to seat himself on the sofa
beside the girl who still lay huddled over her pillows, her face hidden
in her hands.

Seated, he drew out the portfolio containing his letters and a notebook.
Then, slipping a lead-pencil from the leather socket and tearing out a
sheet of paper, he started work--using the leather-backed book for a
support--on a cipher which looked to be impossible. Yet, all ciphers are
solved by the same method. And he knew it.


The first thing he did was to find his "numbers" in the mass of
quartered circles. And, working steadily, swiftly, but intelligently, he
had, in the course of an hour, discovered, separated and jotted down,
nine of the quartered disks which he believed to represent numbers; and
one extra disk which he supposed to be zero. And he numbered each symbol
accordingly: merely eliminating all lines except those bisecting the
smaller circles. This gave him in order


The next thing to do was to find what letters those numbers, or
combinations of numbers, represented.

For a while he tried English, but arrived at no convincing result. So he
tried German, first making a list of the letters which were likely to
occur most frequently in the written language and then trying them with
the symbols which occurred most frequently in the manuscript before him.

He found that the first symbol represented the figures 21.


The twenty-first letter of the alphabet is _u_. He wrote it.

The next symbol was


for which he substituted the figures 14. The fourteenth letter of the
alphabet is _n_. He had, so far, two letters, _u_ and _n_, to experiment

He had sat for several minutes gazing absently at these two letters
when, like a shot, it struck him that the French word for the number,
one, was spelled _un_. Could the key of the cipher be French? He
separated and jotted down the next combination of disks


which gave him the numbers 19. The nineteenth letter of the alphabet is
_s_. He wrote it.

The next symbol was


or the figure 9. The ninth letter of the alphabet is _i_.

The next symbol was


which, translated, gave him 24. The twenty-fourth letter of the alphabet
is _x_.

He now had the letters _s-i-x_. And no sooner had he written them in
order than the word six stared him in the face and he flushed with pure

He had now two words, _un_ and _six_. The chances were that he was
somewhere on the right track and he fell to work with a concentration
and ardour which left him oblivious to everything else--to time and
place, and to the silent, motionless little figure huddled over the
pillows beside him.

[Illustration: A Fragment from Guild's Notebook]

At the end of an hour--checked twice--but finally overcoming apparent
defeat, and always following the same method of deduction, he came to an
end of his symbols, and he found the leaf from his notebook was covered
with the following words in order of symbol:

      Un, six douze cinq cinq vingt, douze quinz'
  vingt-un sept eight, nineteen vingt trois nine douze
  douze twenty-five, eight cinq trois eight vingt, six
  quinze douze douze quinze vingt-trois, deux nine
  eighteen quatre nineteen.

For these numerals spelled out capriciously in either abbreviated French
or English he substituted numbers in the sequence given:


Then for the figure 1 he wrote the first letter of the alphabet--_A_.
For the number six he wrote the sixth letter of the alphabet _F_. For
the number 12, the twelfth letter of the alphabet _L_.

And when he had written letters for every figure in order given he had
on his sheet of paper


After a while he separated the words _A_, _Fleet_, _Follow_, and
_Birds_, leaving the unintelligible sequence of letters

Out of this, for a long while, he could make nothing, until, by chance,
taking the last five letters together, it suddenly occurred to him that
the German word for pike was HECHT. Then, in a flash, he remembered the
badly drawn picture of a pike and its young. Pike or Hecht, that was one
of the words in all probability. But what _other_ word the word Hecht
represented he could not imagine.

He looked at his notebook again. The letters remaining were LOUGHSWILLY.
They meant absolutely nothing in any language he had even heard of. He
studied what he already had--A Fleet (Blank) Pike Follow Birds. A _pike_
follow _Birds_--_birds_--and swift as lightning a thought struck him
which set him tingling to his finger-tips: somewhere in that rough,
hasty, and apparently innocent sketch in which oddly shaped trees and a
line of little birds figured, lay the key to the whole thing.

He felt it, he _knew_ it. He spread out the drawing on his knees and
studied it with terrible concentration, conscious somehow or other that
something about it, something _in_ it, was vaguely familiar to him.
_What?_ Had he ever before seen another sketch by the same hand? He
could not recollect. It was like millions of rough, hasty sketches
jotted down by painters as notes for their own guidance only and not for
others to see.

What was there about it unusual? The trees? The _shapes_ of the trees.
Ah! he was getting nearer the goal--he realized it, felt it, and,
balked, fell into a mental rage for a moment.

Then his habitual self-command returned; he squared his jaws, gazed
grimly at the trees, and forced himself once more to answer his own

The shapes of the trees, then, were unusual. He had gotten that far.
What was unusual in their shapes? The trunks and branches? No. The
foliage. No. The outline!

"God!" he whispered. And he had it.

Over the sofa was hanging a map of the British Isles and of the Western
coast of Europe. Dotted lines indicated the course taken by the Holland
Line steamers. He reached up, unhooked it, looked at it, then at the
drawing in his hand.

Then he detached half of the thin sheet of paper on which the sketch was
drawn and laid it over the sketch. Being translucent to the verge of
transparency, he could see the drawing beneath the thin sheet covering

Then, with his pencil, he steadily traced the _outlines_ of the trees.

When he had done this and had removed the sketch from beneath his
tracing-paper he had what he expected--an _outline_ of the British
Isles, the Hebrides, Orkneys, Shetlands; part of the coast of Norway,
the French, Belgian and Dutch coast. Heligoland, and the German coast at
Cuxhaven and Wilhelmshaven.

From the map of the steamship company he carefully filled in boundaries
and a few principal towns, then placing his outline drawing over the
sketch of the trees he drew a dotted line following exactly the flight
of the little birds.

Where that flight terminated he made an arrow, then turned his eyes on
the steamer map to find out where that arrow's point rested.

And there on the Irish coast he saw the name Lough Swilly!

It was the last link!--the last but one.

"A Fleet Lough Swilly. Hecht (Pike) follow birds."

A pike, with little pike following her, was to follow the flight of the
birds--the dotted line on his outline map. The dotted line curved up out
of Cuxhaven, around the Orkneys and Hebrides and into Lough
Swilly--_where there was a fleet_!


Out of Cuxhaven--_Cuxhaven!_ where lay the German submarines!--A pike,
and young! A parent ship and submarines!

The last link was forged; the chain complete--not quite--not entirely.
The Japanese dancing girl? And under the number of the sketch, 3,--were
three symbols. They were junks with latten sails.

Perhaps there were three Japanese battleships at Lough Swilly. It didn't
matter; the chain was complete enough for him.

                               CHAPTER XI


As he rose from the sofa, stretching his arms to ease his cramped
muscles, Guild became conscious that he was very tired.

He had had little sleep the night before and none at all this night. He
glanced at his watch; it was four o'clock in the morning. He went to the
port, unscrewed it, and looked out into pitch darkness. There was not a
light to be seen on the sea, no flare from any headland, no spark which
might indicate a lighthouse, not a star overhead, not a sparkle save for
the splintered reflection of the vessel's own lights running over the
water alongside, through which foaming, curling waves raced and fled
away into the black obscurity astern.

He turned and looked gravely at Karen. The girl still lay unstirring
among the pillows on the sofa. One arm covered her head as though to
shield it from some blow.

He bent beside her, listening to her breathing. It was quiet and
regular, and on her cheek was a flush like the delicate colour of a
sleeping child.

He had no mind to disturb her, yet he could not make her more
comfortable without awaking her.

All he dared do was to unbutton her spats very cautiously, and slip off
the little brown suede shoes.

Over her he laid the blankets from the bed, lightly, then opened wide
the port.

His own toilet for the night was even simpler; he folded together the
batch of damning papers, originals, his own notes, the forged passports,
strapped them with an elastic band, buttoned them inside his breast
pocket, reached over and extinguished the electric globe, and, fully
dressed, lay down on the stripped bed in darkness.

They had been traveling sixteen hours. Allowing for their detention by
the ill-omened _Wyvern_, they should dock at Amsterdam in five or six
hours more.

He tried to sleep; but his nerves were very much alive and his excited
brain refused to subscribe to the body's fatigue.

All that had happened since he first saw Karen Girard he now went
over and over in his mind in spite of himself. He strove to stop
thinking, and could not; and sometimes the lurid horror of the
_Wyvern_ possessed him with all its appalling details made plain to
his imagination--details not visible from the liner's decks, yet perhaps
the more ghastly because hidden by distance and by the infernal glare
that fringed the doomed ship like a very nimbus from hell itself.

This obsessed him, and the villainous information which he had wrested
from the papers which this young girl had been carrying--information
amply sufficient to convict her and to make inevitable the military
execution of the man Grätz and the grinning chauffeur, Bush.

And if the wretched maid, Anna, had been arrested with papers similar to
these on her person, her case, too, was hopeless. Because the very
existence of England depended upon extinguishing forever people who
dealt in secret information like that which lay folded and buttoned
under his belted coat of tweed.

He knew it, knew what his fate must have been had the satchel been
searched on Fresh Wharf--knew what Karen's fate must have been, also,
surely, surely!

And had those papers been taken aboard the _Wyvern_ it had not been very
long before the simplicity of the cipher had been discovered by anybody
trained in code work.

For, in spite of its surface complexity, the cipher was a singularly
simple one, even a stupid code, based on simple principles long known
and understood in all of their hundreds of variations.

And all such ciphers, granted time and patience, could be solved by the
same basic principles. The only function of that kind of code was to so
multiply its intricacies and variations that, with a time limit for
delivery understood, measures could be taken at the other end to
minimize the effect of discovery, the elapsing of the time limit serving
as an automatic warning that message or messenger were under forcible
detention within the enemy's lines.

Yes, it had been a stupid cipher, and an easy one.

A trained man would have solved it in half the time he had required.

Nothing about the message remained really obscure except the Japanese
dancing girl playing with her butterfly and fan, and the lack of
information concerning the "fleet" at anchor or cruising near "Lough
Swilly" on the Irish coast.

As far as the fleet was concerned, Guild was very confident that he
understood. The whereabouts of the British battleship fleet was not
known, had been carefully guarded. Without a doubt Lough Swilly was its
rendezvous; and the German spy system in England had discovered it and
was sending the information to Berlin with a suggestion that submarines
"follow the birds," i. e., take that dotted course around the northern
Scottish coast, slip south into Lough Swilly, and attack the first line
of battle squadron where it had been supposed to lurk in safety,
awaiting its call to action. That was as clear as daylight, but the
Japanese figure he could not understand.

                               * * * * *

He was utterly unable to sleep. After an hour's staring into the
darkness he rose cautiously, opened the stateroom door and stepped into
the lighted corridor.

Here he lighted a cigarette against regulations and began to pace up and

Presently the sharp nose of a steward detected the aroma of tobacco, and
he came prowling into the corridor.

So Guild nodded and tossed the cigarette out of the open port at the end
of the corridor.

"We ought to dock by nine," he said.

"About nine, sir."

"We're lucky to have run afoul of nothing resembling a mine."

"God, sir! Wasn't it awful about the _Wyvern_! I expect some passenger
steamer will get it yet. Mines by the hundreds are coming ashore on the
coast of Holland."

"Have you had any news by wireless?" asked Guild.

"A little, sir. They've been fighting all night south of Ostend. Also,
we had a wire from London that a German light cruiser, the
_Schmetterling_, is at Valparaiso, and that a Japanese cruiser, the
_Geisha_, and a French one, the _Eventail_, have been ordered after

Guild nodded carelessly, stretched his arms, yawned, and returned to the
stateroom, knowing that now, at last, he was in possession of every item
in the secret document.

For the Japanese dancing girl was the _Geisha_, the fan in her hand was
the French cruiser _Eventail_ and the butterfly fluttering about her was
the German light cruiser _Schmetterling_--which in that agreeable
language means "butterfly," and which no doubt had made an attempt upon
the _Geisha_ and had been repulsed.

And this warning was sent that the _Schmetterling_ had better keep her
distance, because the _Eventail_ had now joined the Japanese ship, and
the two meant mischief.

As for the drawing of the Pike, perhaps on the German naval list there
might have been a vessel named the _Hecht_. He did not know. The symbol
of the most ferocious fresh-water fish in Europe was sufficient to
indicate the nature of the craft even had the flight of the "birds" not
made it unmistakable. There could be no doubt about it that the Hecht
with the three little Hechts following had been explicitly invited to
cruise in the North Sea and have a look-in at Lough Swilly. And that was
quite enough to understand.

                               * * * * *

He turned on the cabin light, went to Karen's side and looked at her.

She had moved, but only in her sleep apparently. The back of one hand
lay across her forehead; her face was turned upward, and on the flushed
cheeks there were traces of tears.

But she still slept. He arranged her coverings again, stood gazing at
her for a moment more, then he extinguished the light and once more lay
down on the bare mattress, using his arm for a pillow.

But sleep eluded him for all his desperate weariness. He thought of
Grätz and of Bush and of the wretched woman involved by them and now a

The moment he turned over these papers to the British Consul in
Amsterdam the death warrant of Grätz and Bush was signed. He knew that.
He knew also that the papers in his possession were going to be
delivered to British authority. But first he meant to give Grätz and
Bush a sporting chance to clear out.

Not because they had aided him. They cared nothing about him. It was
Karen they had aided, and their help was given to her because of von

No, it was not in him to do the thing that way. Had he been a British
officer on duty it had been hard enough to do such a thing.

As it was he must give them their chance and he knew of only one way to
do it. This point settled he dismissed it from his mind and, with a
slight sigh, permitted his harassed thoughts to lead him where they
seemed always now inclined to lead him when permitted--back to the young
girl he had known only a few hours, but in whose company it seemed to
him that he had already lived a century.

He was not a man given to easy friendships, not a man in whom sensations
were easily stirred. Under ordinary circumstances, perhaps, neither the
youthful beauty of this girl, nor her talents and accomplishments had
stirred him to more than an amiably impersonal interest. He had known
many women and had been friends with a few. But on his part the
friendships had not been sentimental.

Women of all sorts and conditions he had known: fashionable idlers,
professional women, domesticated women; women with ideas, women without
them, busy women with leisure for mischief, mischievous women whose
business was leisure, happy women, unhappy ones, calm ones, restless
ones, clever ones, stupid ones and their even more irritating sisters
who promised to amount to something and never did, all these varieties
of the species he had known, but never a woman like this.

Usually he could place a woman after seeing her move and hearing her
speak. He could only place Karen on a social par with any woman he had
ever known, and he was afraid she didn't belong there, because well-born
German Mädchens don't interne themselves in nun-like seclusion far from
Vaterland, Vater, and maternal apron-strings, with intervals of sallying
forth into the world for a few months' diversion as a professional
actress on the stage.

At least Guild had never heard of any girls who did such things. But
there remained the chance, of course, that Karen Girard was a perfectly
new type to him.

One fact was evident; her father was a Prussian officer and belonged to
the Prussian aristocracy. But gentlemen of these castes do not permit
their daughters the freedom that Karen enjoyed.

There was a mystery about the matter, probably not an agreeable one.
Antecedents, conditions and facts did not agree. There was no logic in
her situation.

Guild realized this. And at the same time he realized that he had never
liked any woman as much--had never come to care for any woman as easily,
as naturally, and as quickly as he had come to care for Karen Girard.

It stirred him now to remember that this young girl had responded,
frankly, fearlessly, naturally; had even met him more than half-way with
a sweet sincerity and confidence that touched him again as he thought of

Truly he had never looked into such honest eyes, or into lovelier
ones,--two clear, violet wells of light. And Truth, who abides in wells,
could not have chosen for her dwelling place habitations more suitable.

She seemed to possess all qualities as well as all accomplishments and
graces of mind and body. The quality of courage was hers--a courage
adorable in its femininity. But there was nothing hard about it, only
firmness--like the white firmness of her skin. And her intuitive
generosity was as quick and melting as the exquisite motives which
prompted it.

Never could he forget that in the dreadful peril of the moment, she had
tried to give him a chance to escape the consequences of his
companionship with her,--had tried to send him ashore at the last moment
so that she alone might remain to face whatever there was confronting

It was a brave thing to do, generous, self-forgetful, merciful, and
finely just. For though she had not tried to deceive him she had
gradually realized that she herself might be deceived, and that she was
in honour bound to warn him concerning her suspicions of the satchel's

And now--in the end--and after danger was practically over, how did they
stand, he and she? How had they emerged from the snarl of circumstances?

Had his gentle violence killed forever a very wonderful beginning of
what they both had spoken of as friendship? And she--he reddened in the
darkness as he remembered--she had begged him in the name of friendship
not to violate it--had spoken of it, in the excitement of emotion, as
_more_ than friendship.

It had been the most difficult thing he ever had had to do.

Was it true that her friendship had turned to hatred?

He wondered, wondered at the dull unhappiness which the thought brought
with it. And, wondering, fell asleep.

                               * * * * *

In the grey of dawn Karen sat up, wide-eyed, still tremulous from the
dream of death that had awakened her.

Through the open port a grey sky glimmered. She rose to her knees and
gazed out upon a grey waste of water heaving to the horizon.

Then she turned and looked across at the bed where Guild lay, his blond
head cradled on one arm, asleep.

Her eyes rested on him a long while. Then she caught sight of her shoes
and spats on the floor--looked down at the blankets and covers that had
kept her warm. The next moment her eyes fell on her satchel where it
stood open, the key still in the lock, and her silver toilet articles
glimmering dully inside.

The vague tenderness in her blue eyes vanished; _he_ had done _this_,
too!--shamefully, by force, treading mercilessly on the frail bud of
friendship--ignoring everything, sacrificing everything to a dull,
obstinate determination which he had characterized as duty.

She turned and looked at the man who had done all this, her eyes darkly
beautiful, her lips stern.

Duty? He had not considered the duty she owed. He had not respected her
promise to bring back what had been intrusted to her. And when the
discussion had tired him--when her warnings, pleadings--even her appeals
in the name of the first friendship she had ever given--had been
ignored, he had coolly used violence.

Yes, violence, although, perhaps, the violence had not been very
violent. But it was force--and hateful to her who never before had been
obliged to endure the arrogance which her caste only knew how to

"So brauch' Ich Gewalt!" kept ringing in her ears like a very obsession
as she knelt there, sitting back on her own supple limbs, and watching
the sleeping man out of beautiful hostile eyes.

_That_ man! That _American_--or Belgian--whatever he was--with his clear
grey eyes and his short yellow hair and that mouth of his which could be
faintly humorous at times and, at times be so ugly and set--what was
there about him that she liked--or rather _had_ liked?

Not his features; they were only passable from an ornamental point of
view--not his lean but powerful figure, which resembled many other
figures she had seen in England--not his manner particularly--at least
she had seen more deferential attitudes, more polish of the courtly and
continental sort, more empressement.

_What_ was it she liked,--had _once_ liked in this man? Nothing!
_Nothing!_--the tears suddenly glimmered in her eyes and she winked them
dry, angrily.

And to think--to remember in years to come that she--_she_ had pleaded
with that man in the name of friendship--and of something _more_ than
friendship!--The hot colour mantled face and throat and she covered her
eyes in a sudden agony of mortification.

For a few moments she remained so, then her hands fell, helplessly

And, as she knelt there looking at him through the increasing daylight,
suddenly her eyes narrowed, and her set face grew still and intent.

Crowding out of the shallow breast pocket of his Norfolk where he lay
were papers. _Her_ papers!

The next instant, lithely, softly, soundlessly on her unshod feet, she
had slipped from the lounge and crossed the stateroom to his side, and
her fingers already touched the edges of the packet.

Her papers! And her hand rested on them. But she did not take them.
There was something about the stealth of the act that checked
her,--something that seemed foreign, repugnant to her nature.

Breathless, her narrow hand poised, she hesitated, trying to remember
that the papers were hers--striving to aid herself with the hot and
shameful memory of the violence he had offered her.

Why couldn't she take them? This man and she were now at war! War has
two phases, violence and strategy. Both are legitimate; he had played
his part, and this part was strategy. Why shouldn't she play that part?

But her hand wavered, fell away, and she looked down into his sleeping
face and knew that she could not do it.

After a moment his eyes opened and met hers, pleasantly.

She blushed to her hair.

He said: "Why didn't you take them, Karen?"

"You couldn't understand if I told you," she said with youthful

He looked very grave at that. She turned, picked up shoes and spats, and
seated herself on the sofa.

So he got up, opened the door and went up on deck, leaving her the
stateroom to herself.

At the office of the wireless station the operator seemed to have no
objection to sending a message for him to the British Consul in
Amsterdam, and obligingly looked up the address. So Guild sent his
message and prepaid reply.

Then he went into the smoking-room and lit a cigarette.

He was dozing when a steward awoke him with a reply to his wireless

    Kervyn Guild
    On board S. S. _Feyenoord_
    Will call at American Consulate. Many thanks.
                                              CHURCHILL, Consul.

He sat thinking for a few minutes. Then remembering that he did not know
where the American Consul was to be found, he went again to the wireless
office and procured the address.

Turning, as he was leaving, to thank the boyish operator, he found that
youth's shrewd eyes fixed on him intently.

"Look out, sir," said the operator, in perfectly good English. "There's
a lot o' talk about you on board."

"What do you mean?"

"Wasn't it you the _Wyvern_ was wanting?"


"You're friendly to us, I take it?"

"Do you mean to England?"

"Yes, sir."

"Yes, I am."

"I fancied so. Be very careful aboard this boat, sir. Half the crew and
most of the stewards are German."

"Thanks," said Guild smilingly.

But as he walked slowly away he realized rather uneasily what an object
of interest he had become to the personnel of the ship since the
_Wyvern_ had honoured him by her wireless inquiries concerning him.

                              CHAPTER XII

                              IN THE RAIN

He went straight to the writing-room. Only one or two of his
fellow-passengers were up, and he had the place to himself.

He wrote first:

    W. A. Churchill, Esquire,
        British Consulate,
        Plantage Middenlaan 20,


    The following items of information should be immediately
    transmitted to your home Government. The importance of the
    matters in question admit of no delay.

    1st. It has come to my knowledge that German spies in England
    have discovered the whereabouts of a British fleet--presumably
    the first line battle fleet--and have attempted to communicate
    the intelligence to Berlin. One document in cipher embodying
    this intelligence has been intercepted and translated. But other
    communications in cipher may get through.

    2d. Another document of the same sort advises the Berlin
    Government to send from Cuxhaven a cruiser (parent ship) as
    convoy to three submarines for the purpose of attacking the
    British armoured ships.

    The rendezvous of the British ships, as given in the cipher
    message, is Lough Swilly, North Irish coast.

    The route suggested for the German cruiser and submarines is
    around the north coast of Scotland.

    3d. Still a third document in cipher informs the German
    Government that the light cruiser, _Schmetterling_, at or off
    Valparaiso, is being pursued by the Japanese ship _Geisha_ and
    the French gunboat _Eventail_.

    4th. The fourth and last item of information to be transmitted
    to your Government concerns an actuality witnessed by myself and
    by the majority of the passengers of this steamer, now docking
    at Rotterdam.

    Last night, somewhere between eleven o'clock and midnight, and
    somewhere off the Belgian coast, H. M. S. _Wyvern_ was blown up,
    whether by mine or torpedo or by a bomb from some unseen
    air-craft I do not know. She was using her searchlight on the
    clouds at the time.

    The ship was tilted out of the water at an odd angle when the
    red glare that suddenly enveloped her made her visible. It
    appears to me as though some submarine convulsion had heaved her
    up out of the sea.

    There was one of her officers aboard our liner when the
    catastrophe occurred--Lieutenant Jamison. A boat's crew lay
    alongside of us. With these exceptions it does not seem probable
    that anybody aboard the _Wyvern_ could have escaped death,
    although other ships were in the vicinity and their searchlights
    played upon her, and I saw small boats on the way to her before
    she finally blew to pieces.

    This is the information which both duty and inclination impel me
    to place at the disposal of the British Government.

    Permit me to add that I am leaving in the hands of the United
    States consul, Henry H. Morgan, Esquire, a separate packet of
    papers containing full corroboration of the foregoing details.

    The packet is addressed to you in his care, but he will be
    instructed to give you this letter, only, and not to deliver the
    packet to you until a week from today for reasons which I cannot

    The packet contains--

    1st. Three pages of cipher and pictographs employed by the
    German spy system in London.

    2d. A key to the cipher.

    3d. A key to the pictographs.

    4th. A full translation of the cipher.

    5th. A translation of the pictographs.

    6th. A map.

    The German personage to whom the packet was originally
    addressed, the names and addresses of those who sent it from
    London, the circumstances under which it was intercepted, will
    be written out with what detail is necessary, and will be
    contained in the packet with the original cipher.

    In one week from today the American Consul, Mr. Morgan, will
    deliver to you this packet, but under no circumstances is it to
    be delivered before a week from today.

    I have the honour to be, sir, with great respect,

                                       Your obt. serv't,
                                                   KERVYN GUILD.

    Union square, New York.

This letter he sealed, addressed, and laid aside.

He then wrote to the American Consulate, addressing the note to the
Consul and Vice-Consul, saying that he committed to their care--

    1st. A letter to be called for immediately by the
    British Consul in person, and so marked.

    2d. A packet addressed to the British Consul,
    but not to be delivered until a week had expired.

    3d. A letter to be sent to the United States
    Consul General in London with all speed.

    4th. A telegram to be sent to Edmeston Automobile
    Agency in London.

    5th. A letter to the same agency.

He then wrote out his telegram, wondering whether the United States
Consul could put it through:

    Edmeston Agency,
        White Hood Lane,
            London, E. C.

    Business of instant importance requires you all
    to leave for Holland immediately. Lose no time.


    Holland Line S. S. _Feyenoord_.

The letter was directed to the Edmeston Agency:


    Grätz and Bush must leave at once if they wish to enjoy the
    fishing here. The _pike_ are biting. _Four have been caught. The
    shooting, also, is excellent. Eight birds were killed
    yesterday._ If Grätz and Bush do not leave within a week
    business in London is likely to detain them indefinitely and
    they will miss their holiday with little chance for another.

    Tell them to take the urgent advice of a sportsman and clear out
    while they have the chance.
                                 Yours with good intentions,
                                              D. BROWN SATCHELL.

While Guild was busy writing and consigning what he had written to
separate envelopes, he was aware of considerable movement and noise
outside on deck--the passing to and fro of many people, whistle blasts
from other craft--in fact, all the various species of bustle and noise
which, aboard any steamer, indicate its approach to port.

He raised his head and tried to see, but it was still raining and the
air was dull with fog.

Passengers, stewards, and officers came and went, passing through the
writing-room where he sat in a corner sorting and sealing his letters.
Twice, glancing up over his shoulder, he noticed a steward cleaning up,
dusting and arranging the pens, ink, and writing paper on the several
tables near by--one of those too busy and officious functionaries whose
zeal for tips usually defeats its own ends.

And so it happened this time, for, as Guild, intent on what he was
writing, reached out absently for another envelope, a package of them
was thrust into his hand with a bustling, obsequious--"Paper, sir! Yes,
sir"--Beg pardon, sir! I'm sorry!"--For somehow the inkwell had been
upset and the pile of letters scattered over the floor.

"Damn it!" said Guild savagely, springing back to avoid the streaming

The steward appeared to be overwhelmed; down he flopped on his knees to
collect the letters, hopping up at intervals to sop the flowing flood of
ink from the desk.

Guild took the letters from him grimly, counted the sealed envelopes,
then without a word went to the neighbouring desk, and, sitting down
there, wrote on the last sealed envelope not yet addressed--the envelope
which contained the cipher code, translation, and the information
concerning the Edmeston Company. When he had written on it: "To be
delivered to the British Consul in a week," he gathered all the letters,
placed them in his breast pocket, buttoned his coat, and went out. For
half an hour he walked to and fro under the shelter of the roofed deck,
glancing absently across the rail where there was nothing to see except
grey mist, grey water, and rain.

After he had enough of this he went below.

Karen was not in the cabin, but her luggage stood there beside his own.

He had plenty of time to make a decent toilet; he bathed, shaved, chose
fresh linen, brushed his wrinkled tweeds as thoroughly as he could,
then, leaving the luggage there he went away in search of Karen with a
view to breakfast.

He found her on the starboard deck very comfortably established. The
idiot deck steward who had upset his ink-well and scattered his letters
was serving her obsequiously with marmalade.

As Guild approached Karen looked up at him coolly enough, though a
bright colour surged into her face. The steward bustled away to find
more coffee and rolls.

"Do you feel rested at all?" asked Guild pleasantly.

"Yes, thank you."

"May I take the next chair and have breakfast with you?"

"Yes, please."

He seated himself. She said nothing, ate nothing. Suddenly it occurred
to him that in her quaint way she was waiting for his breakfast to
appear before beginning her own.

"You are not waiting for me, are you?" he asked. "Don't do that;
everything will be cold."

With an odd air of old-fashioned obedience, which always seemed to make
her more youthful to him, she began her breakfast.

"We'll be docking presently," he remarked, glancing out into the fog and
thinly falling rain.


He lay back in his chair, not caring for her monosyllables, but
good-humouredly receptive in case she encouraged conversation.

Neither the freshness of her clothes nor of her skin seemed to have
suffered from the discomforts of the night; her hair was lustrous and
crisply in order. From her hat-crown to the palms of her gloves rolled
back over her wrists, she seemed to have just left the hands of a clever
maid, so fresh, sweet, fragrant and immaculate she appeared to him, and
he became uncomfortably conscious of his knickerbockers and badly
wrinkled tweeds.

The same fool of a steward brought his coffee. And as Karen offered no
encouragement to conversation he breakfasted beside her in silence.

Afterward he lighted a cigarette, and they both lay back on their
steamer chairs watching the fog and the drizzle and the promenading
passengers who all appeared to be excited at the approaching process of
docking and over the terrible episode of the previous night.

In all languages it was being discussed; Guild could catch fragments of
conversation as groups formed, passed, and repassed their chairs.

Another thing was plain to him; Karen had absolutely nothing to say to
him, and apparently no further interest in him.

From time to time he looked at the pure profile which never turned in
response. Self-possessed, serene, the girl gazed out into the fog as
though she were quite alone on deck. Nor did there seem to be any effort
in her detached interest from her environment. And Guild wondered in his
depressed heart whether he had utterly and hopelessly killed in her the
last faint glimmer of friendly interest in him.

The docking of the _Feyenoord_ in the fog interested him very little;
here and there a swaying mast or a black and red funnel loomed up in the
fog, and the air was full of characteristic noises--that is all he saw
or heard where he lay silent, brooding on fate and chance and on the
ways of a woman in the pride of her youth.

The idiot steward reappeared and Guild sent him below for their luggage.

On the gang-plank they descended with the throng, shoulder to shoulder
in silence. Inspection did not take long; then a porter who had been
following took their luggage.

"Karen, do you speak Dutch?" asked Guild, mischievously.

"Yes--a little."

"I supposed you did," he said smilingly. "Please ask him the shortest
way to the United States Consulate."

She turned indifferently to the porter: "Wat is de Kortste weg naar----"

She hesitated, then with a dainty malice indescribable--"--Naar the
Yankee Consulate?" she added calmly.

Guild reddened and strolled a few steps forward, thoroughly incensed.

The porter smothered a smile: "Mejuffrouw--" he began, "ga recht uit
links, en den de derde Straat rechts----"

"Hoe ver is het?"

The porter glanced sideways and cunningly after Guild, then sank his
voice: "Freule--" he began, but the girl's haughty amazement silenced
him. He touched his cap and muttered in English: "Madam is known to me.
The chain is long from London to Trois Fontaines. I am only another link
in that chain--at madam's service."

"I _am_ served--sufficiently. Find a motor cab and tell the driver to
take us to the United States Consulate."

The porter's visage expressed sullen curiosity: "Why," he asked in
German, "does the gracious, well-born young lady desire to visit the
_American_ Consulate when the German Consulate is possibly expecting

At that she straightened up, staring at the man out of coldly insolent

"That is enough," she said. "Take our luggage to a motor cab."

"To the Yankee Consulate?"

"_To the Consulate of the United States!_ Do you hear? Move, then!" she
said crisply.

It was raining torrents; Guild held the sullen porter's umbrella while
Karen entered the cab; the luggage was stowed, the vehicle wheeled out
into rain-shot obscurity.

Karen turned impulsively to the man beside her: "Forgive my rudeness; I
am ashamed to have insulted your Consulate."

He flushed, but his lips twitched humorously; "I am sure that the United
States very freely forgives Fräulein Girard."

"Do _you_?"

"Does it matter?" he asked lightly.

"Yes. Are my amends acceptable to _you_?"

"Of course. But what am I--Karen----"

"You are--amiable. It was very common of me."

"It might have been rather common in anybody else. You couldn't be
_that_. Somehow," he added, smiling, "as we say in America, you seem to
get away with it, Karen."

"You are very--amiable," she repeated stiffly.

And constraint fell between them once more, leaving him, however,
faintly amused. She _could_ be such a _little_ girl at times. And she
was adorable in the rôle, though she scarcely suspected it.

At the American Consulate the cab stopped and Guild turned up his coat
collar and sprang out.

While he was absent the girl lay back in her corner, her eyes fixed on
the rain-smeared pane. She had remained so motionless for some time when
a tapping at the cabin window attracted her attention. A beggar had come
to the street side of the cab and was standing there, the rain beating
on his upturned face. And the girl hastily drew out her purse and let
down the window.

Suddenly she became rigid; the beggar had said something to her under
his breath. The English shilling fell from her fingers to the floor of
the cab.

His hand still extended in supplication, the man went on in German:

"Your steamer swarmed with English spies. One of them was your

The girl's lips parted, stiffly: "I don't understand," she said with an

"The stewardess spied on the deck steward, Ridder. They were all
watching each other on that ship. And everybody watched you and the
American. Ridder told me to follow you to the American Consulate."

"Who are _you_?"

"I served as one of the waiters in the saloon. Grätz knows me. If you
are carrying any papers of value be careful."

"What do you mean?"

"Ridder gave you some papers. The stewardess saw him. She came ashore
and watched you while your luggage was being inspected. She knows you
have driven to the American Consulate. Your porter told her--the fool!
Do you know what she is up to?"

"I--I can--guess. I think you had better go--quick!" she added as the
Consulate door opened and Guild came out. And she fumbled in her purse
for a coin, thrust it hastily through the window, and turned in
confusion to meet the young man's sternly questioning eyes.

"What are you doing?" he asked bluntly.

"A man--begging."

"For what, Karen? For money or information?"

The girl winced and avoided his gaze. The cab wheeled in a short circle
and moved off through the rain again.

"Which was it he wanted, Karen?" repeated Guild quietly. "Was it money
or--something else he wanted?"

"Does--it--concern you?" she stammered.

"Yes. Because I have just learned over the Consulate telephone that
German agents are now attempting to do what you refrained from doing
last night."


"Steal the papers I had of you."

"Do you mean the papers you _stole_?"

"I mean the papers I took by highway robbery. There is a difference," he
added. "But both are robbery, and I thought _you_ were above such

"I am!" she said, flushing.

"No, you are not!" he retorted sternly. "What you were too fastidious to
do for yourself last night--take the papers when you thought I was
asleep--you had done for you this morning by a steward!"

"I did _not_!"

"Why do you deny it? What do you mean? Don't you know that while I was
busy in the writing-room a steward upset my ink, scattered my papers,
stole the envelope containing the papers I took from you, and left me a
sealed envelope full of tissue paper?"

"It isn't true!"

"It is true."

"How do you know?"

"Your stewardess told me over the telephone a few moments ago. Karen,
you are untruthful!"

She caught her breath; the tears flushed in her eyes:

"I am _not_ untruthful! It does look like it but I am not! I did not
know that the deck steward had robbed you. He came to my door and gave
me the papers, saying that he had picked them up in the corridor outside
our--my--door! I did not engage anybody to steal them--if it _is_
stealing to recover--my own--property----"

"That deck steward is a spy, but I don't understand how he could have
known that I had taken the papers from you."

"I don't know either," she said excitedly. "But everybody knew
everything on board that ship. It was a nest of spies."

His grim features relaxed. "I'm sorry I charged you with untruth, Karen.
I never shall again. But--what was I to think?"

"When I tell you a thing--_that_ is what you are to think," she said

"Yes.... I realize that now. I am sorry. May I ask your forgiveness?"


"Then--I do ask it."


"May I ask a little more?" he continued.


"May I ask you to tell me what you did with those papers after the deck
steward gave them to you?"

"I shall not tell you."

"Then I am afraid that I shall have to tell you how you disposed of
those papers. You first went to the stewardess and borrowed a needle and
thread and then asked permission to sit in her room and do a little
necessary sewing----"

The girl blushed hotly: "The contemptible creature!" she exclaimed.

"A little sewing," repeated Guild, coolly. "And," he continued, "you
sewed those papers to your clothing. The stewardess saw you do it."

"Very well! Suppose I did."

"You have them on you now."

"And then?"

"Why it was a silly thing to do, Karen."

"Silly? Why?"

"Because," he said calmly, "I must have them, and it makes it more
awkward for us both than if you had merely put them back into your

"You--you intend--to----" Her amazement checked her, then flashed out
into wrath.

"Do you know," she said, "that you are becoming impudent?"

"Karen," he retorted very quietly, "a man of my sort isn't _impudent_.
But, possibly, he might be _insolent_--if he chooses. And perhaps I
shall choose."

Checked, her lips still quivering, the girl, despite her anger,
understood what he meant--knew that she was confronting a man of her own
caste, where insolence indeed might happen, but nothing more plebeian.

"I--spoke to you as though you were an American," she said slowly. "I

"I am answering you as an American!" he interrupted drily. "Make no
mistake about that country; it breeds plenty of men who have every right
to answer you as I do!"

She bit her lip; her eyes filled and she averted her face. Presently the
cab stopped.

"We're at the station," he said briefly.

                               * * * * *

Whether Guild had paid for the entire compartment or whether it happened
so she did not inquire, but they had the place to themselves, so far.

Guild paid no further attention to her except to lay a couple of
Tauchnitz novels beside her on the seat. After that he opened a
newspaper which he had brought away with him from the Consulate, and
began to read it without troubling to ask her permission.

As the paper hid his perfectly expressionless face she ventured to
glance at it from time to time. It was the _New York Herald_ and on the
sheet turned toward her she was perfectly able to read something that
interested her and sent faint shivers creeping over her as she ended it:

                         ABROAD AND DEALS HARD
                             BLOW TO SPIES

                      FOR NEW ORDER, BUT DEMAND TO
                      KNOW WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR

                     [Special Cable to the Herald]

                                                  Herald Bureau,
                                               No. 130 Fleet Street,
                                                London, Tuesday.

    The United States Government's sweeping new order requiring every
    American travelling in Europe to go through a cross-examination
    before an American diplomatic or consular officer came as a bolt
    from the blue today. It caused widespread comment, though it is
    recognized that the measure is necessary to checkmate German
    spies impersonating American travellers.

    There is no criticism of this drastic order, which it is
    recognized is probably issued to comply with Sir Edward Grey's
    communication concerning German secret agents posing as American
    citizens. But many Americans want to know who is responsible for
    the apparent wholesale issuance of fraudulent American passports
    to Germans. The result is that now an American passport is not
    worth the paper it is written on unless backed up by a
    photograph of the bearer, a description of where he is going,
    what he is going for, how long he is going to stay and so forth.

    American embassies in European capitals today are circulating
    broadcast warnings to all Americans to consult the nearest
    diplomatic or consular officer before undertaking any voyage.

    All Americans must understand that henceforth a passport does
    not mean permission to travel in Europe. They must have written
    and vouched for proof that they are not German spies before they
    can feel safe.

    It is all the result of too free issuance of American passports
    at the outbreak of the war, coupled with German quickness to
    profit by American leniency in this respect.

Before the train started a commissionaire appeared, hurrying. He opened
the door of their compartment, set a pretty basket inside, which was to
be removed at the first station beyond.

The basket contained a very delicious luncheon, and Karen looked up
shyly but gratefully as Guild set about unpacking the various dishes.
There was salad, chicken, rolls and butter, a pâté, some very wonderful
pastry, fruit, and a bottle of Moselle that looked like liquid sunshine.

There was one pasteboard box which Guild gave to her without opening it.
She untied the violet ribbon, opened it, sat silent. He seemed to pay no
attention to what she was doing.

After a moment she lifted out the cluster of violet-scented orchids,
drew the long pin from them, and fastened them to her blouse.

"Thank you--very much," she said shyly.

"Do you care for orchids?"

"Yes ... I am a little--surprised."


"That you should--think to offer them--to _me_----"

He looked up, and his grey eyes seemed to be laughing, but his
mouth--that perplexing, humorous, inscrutable mouth of his remained
grave and determined.

"Karen," he said, "if you only understood how much I do like you, you
wouldn't perhaps deal so mercilessly with me."

"I? Merciless?"

"You are. You made me use force with you when you should not have
resisted. And now you have done something more merciless yet."

"W--what, Kervyn?"

"You know ... I must have those papers."


"Dear--look at me. No--in the eyes. Now look at me while I say, as
seriously and as gently as I know how, that _I am going to have those
papers_!... You know I mean what I say.... That is all--dear."

Her eyes fell and she looked at her orchids.

"Why do you speak that way to me--after giving me these?"

"What have orchids to do with a man's duty?"

"Why did you give them to me?"

"Why? Because we are friends, if you will let us be."

"I was willing--am still--in spite of--everything. You know I am. If I
can forgive you what you did to me in our stateroom last night, surely,
surely Kervyn, you won't take any more chances with my forgiveness--will

He said: "I shall have to if you force me to it. Karen--I never liked
any woman as much as I like you. We have known each other two days and a
night. But in that time we both have lived a long, long time."

She nodded, thoughtfully.

"Then--you know me now as well as you ever will know me. Better than any
other woman has ever known me. When my mind is made up that a certain
thing is to be done, I always try to do it, Karen.... And I know that I
ought to have those papers.... And that I am going to have them. Is that
clear--Karen, dear?"

She remained silent, brushing her orchids with her finger-tips,
absent-eyed, serene. After a moment he thought that the ghost of a smile
was hovering on her lips, but he was not sure.

Presently she looked up:

"Shall we lunch?" she asked.

                              CHAPTER XIII

                            THE DAY OF WRATH

Three times they were obliged to change cars after passing through
Utrecht. Night fell; the last compartment into which they had been
crowded was filled with Dutch cavalry officers, big, talkative fellows
in their field uniforms and jingling equipments, civil to Guild,
courteous to Karen, and all intensely interested in the New York
newspaper which Guild offered them and which they all appeared to be
quite able to read.

They all got out at Maastricht, where the lantern-lit platform was
thronged with soldiers; and, when the train started, the two were alone
together once more.

They had been seated side by side when the officers were occupying the
compartment; they remained so when the train rolled out of the station,
neither offering to move, perhaps not thinking to move.

Karen's Tauchnitz novel lay open on her lap, her eyes brooded over the
pages, but the light was very dim and presently she lay back, resting
her arm on the upholstered window ledge.

Guild had been sitting so very still beside her that she suspected he
was asleep. And when she was sure of it she permitted herself closer
scrutiny of his features than she had ever ventured.

Curiosity was uppermost. To inspect at her leisure a man who had so
stirred, so dominated, so ruled and misruled her was most interesting.

He looked very boyish, she thought, as he lay there--very clear cut and
yellow-haired--very kind--except for the rather square contour of the
chin. But the mouth had relaxed from its sternly quiet curve into
pleasant lines.

One hand lay on his knees; it was clenched; the other rested inert on
the cushioned seat beside her, listless, harmless.

Was that the hand of iron that had closed around her shoulders, pinning
both her arms helpless? Were these the hands that had mastered her
without effort--the hands which had taken what they chose to take,
gently violent, unhurried, methodical and inexorable?

How was it that her swift hatred had not endured in the wake of this
insolent outrage? Never before had a hand been laid on her in
violence--not even in reproof. How was it that she had endured this?
Every womanly instinct had been outraged. How was it that she was
enduring it still?--acquiescing in this man's presence here in the same
compartment with her--close beside her? She had resented the
humiliation. She resented it still, fiercely--when she remembered it.
Why didn't she remember it more frequently? Why didn't she think of it
every time she looked at him? What was the trouble with her anger that
she seemed to forget so often that she had ever been angry?

Was she spiritless? Had his violence then crippled her pride forever?
Was this endurance, this submission, this tacit condoning of an
unforgivable offense to continue?

There was colour in her cheeks now as she sat there gazing at him and
remembering her wrongs, and industriously fanning the rather sickly
flames of her wrath into something resembling a reasonable glow.

But more fuel seemed to be needed for that; the mental search for it
seemed to require a slight effort. But she made it and found her
fuel--and a brighter colour stained her face.

Dared he lay hands on her again! What did his recent threat mean? He was
aware that she had sewed the papers to her clothing. What did he mean by
warning her that he would take them by violence again if necessary? It
was unthinkable! inconceivable! She shivered unconsciously and cast a
rather scared glance at him--this man was not a Hun! She was no Sabine!
The era of Pluto and Proserpine had perhaps been comprehensible
considering the times--even picturesque, if the galleries of Europe
correctly reflected the episode. But such things were not done in 1914.

They were not only not done but the mere menace of them was
monstrous--unbelievably brutal. She needed more fuel, caught her breath,
and cast about for it to stoke the flames before her flushed cheeks
could cool.

And to think--to _think_ that she, Karen, was actually at that moment
wearing his orchids--here at her breast! Her gloved hand clenched and
she made a gesture as though to tear the blossoms from her person....
And did not.... They were so delicate, so fresh, so fragrant.... After
all the flowers were innocent. It was not these lovely, scented little
things she should scorn and punish but the man--this man here asleep
beside her----

Her heart almost ceased for a moment; he moved, opened his eyes, and lay
looking at her, his lids still heavy with sleep.

"You are horribly tired--aren't you?" she faltered, looking into his
worn face which two days' lack of sleep had made haggard.

He nodded, watching her.

"I'll move across the way and let you stretch out," he said.

"No--you need not."

"You look dead tired."

"I couldn't sleep that way. You--need not--move."

He nodded; his eyes closed. After he had been asleep a little while,
watching him, she wondered what he might be dreaming, for a ghost of a
smile edged his lips.

Then, sleeping, his arm moved, encircled her, drew her shoulder against
his. And she found herself yielding, guided, relaxing, assenting, until
her cheek lay against his shoulder, resting there. And after a while her
eyes closed.

The fuel had given out. After a little while the last spark died. And
she slept.

                              CHAPTER XIV

                               HER ENEMY

The dim light fell on them where they slept seated upright, unconscious,
swaying as the car swayed. Unseen forests swept past on either side
under a dark sky set with stars; low mountains loomed in the night,
little rivers sparkled under trestles for a second and vanished in the
dull roar of the rushing train.

The man, sunk back against the upholstered seat, lay as though dead.

But after a while the girl dreamed. It was the frontier toward which
they were rushing through the night--a broad white road running between
meadows set with flowers, such as she had often seen.

Two painted sentry boxes stood on either side of the boundary; the one
on her side was empty, but in the other she realized that her enemy was
on guard, hidden, watching her.

She desired to cross. In all her life never had she so longed for
anything as she longed to cross that still, sunny, flower-bordered

She dared not. Her enemy stood hidden, armed, watching her from within
that painted sentry box. She knew it. She was afraid. She knew that her
enemy would step out with weapon levelled and challenge her the instant
she set foot across that flowering frontier. She was afraid of his
challenge, afraid even to learn what her enemy might look like.

Yet she _must_ cross. Something had to be done--something had to be done
while the sun was shining and the breeze in the meadow set the flowers
all swaying. She looked desperately at the silent sentry box. Nothing
moved. Yet she knew her enemy was watching her.

Then, frightened, she set one foot across the line--took one more step,
very timidly.

"_Halt! Who goes there?_"

She knew it--she _knew_ it! It had come--it had happened to her at last!

"F-friend!" she faltered--"but I do not know the countersign."

"_Pass, friend, without the countersign!_"

Could she believe her ears!

She listened again, her hand resting against her heart. But she only
heard a child laughing inside the sentry box, and the smothered ruffle
of preening wings.

Her dream partly awoke her; she lay very still, vaguely conscious of
where her cheek was resting, then closed her eyes to seek her enemy
again among her dreams.

                               CHAPTER XV

                             IN CONFIDENCE

They awoke with a light shining in their eyes; the guard stood on the
running rail, one hand on the knob of the door.

"The frontier," he said. "Descend if you please for the customs, and
kindly have your papers ready."

The girl's blue eyes were sleepy and humorous as she rested her hand on
his arm to rise.

"Are we ever to have a good night's sleep again?" she murmured as he
aided her to descend in the lantern-lit darkness.

"It's our punishment," he said.

"For what, please?"

"For ever doubting each other."

She said nothing. A soldier picked up their luggage and carried it
across the platform where another train stood waiting.

And all at once Guild realized that the soldiers around the station and
custom-house were not Belgians but Germans. He had forgotten that, and
it gave him a distinct shock.

As he and Karen, following the soldier, entered the long room in the
custom-house, an officer all in sea-grey from the shrouded spike on his
helmet to his ankles came forward and saluted; and Guild coolly lifted
his cap.

"Have I by chance the honour of addressing Herr Guild?" asked the

"I am Herr Guild."

"And--gnädiges Fräulein?"--at salute and very rigid.

"Fräulein Girard."

"The gracious young lady has credentials?--a ring, perhaps?"

Karen drew off her glove, slipped the ring from her finger. A soldier
held up a lantern; the lieutenant adjusted a single eye-glass,
scrutinized the ring, returned it with a tight-waisted bow.

"Papers in order!" he said, turning to the customs officials. "Pass that
luggage without inspection!"

He was very polite. He escorted them to the Belgian train, found an
empty compartment for them, thanked them with empressement, and retired
into the darkness which had hatched him.

As the train started Karen said in a low voice: "Would you care to call
that officer a barbarian, Kervyn?"

"You haven't seen Louvain. But probably that officer has--through his

She sighed. "Are we to--differ again? I am _so_ sleepy."

This time he was entirely awake and responsible for his actions. So was
she. But she was really very tired, she remembered, when conscience
began to make her uncomfortable and call her to account.

But she was too weary to argue the point; her cheek rested unstirring
against his shoulder; once or twice her eyes opened vaguely, and her
hand crept toward the orchids at her breast. But they had not been
crushed. Her white lids closed again. It was unfortunate that she felt
no desire to sleep. Her conscience continued to meddle at intervals,

But of one thing she was quite certain--she would not have tolerated any
such thing very long had she not been very sure that he had immediately
gone to sleep.... And she was afraid that if she stirred he might
awake.... And perhaps might not be able to go to sleep again.... He
needed sleep. She told herself this several times.


"What?" she said in consternation. And she felt her cheeks growing hot.

"You _will_ let me have those papers, won't you?"

She lay very still against his shoulder.

"Won't you?" he repeated in a low and very gentle voice.

"Please sleep," she said in a voice as low.

"Won't you answer me?"

"You need sleep _so_ much!"

"Please answer me, Karen."

"You know," she said, "that unless you let me sleep I--couldn't
rest--like this. Don't you?"

"Are you not comfortable?"

"Yes.... But that has nothing to do with it. You know it."

He murmured something which she did not catch.

"I don't _care_ to rest this way if we are going to remain awake," she

"I am asleep," he replied, drowsily.

Whether or not he was, she could not be certain even after a long while.
But, in argument with her conscience again, she thought she ought to
take the chance that he was asleep because, if he were, it would be
inhuman of her to lift her head and arouse him.

Meanwhile the train moved ahead at a fair speed, not very fast, but
without stopping. Other trains gave it right of way, hissing on
sidings--even military and supply trains which operated within the zone
controlled by General von Reiter's division. The locomotive carried
several lanterns of various colours. They were sufficient to clear the
track for that train through that strip of Belgium to the Luxembourg

Hills, woods, mountain streams, stretches of ferny uplands, gullies set
with beech and hazel flew by under the watching stars.

Over the fields to the west lay what had been Liège. But they swung east
through Herve, past Ensival, then south by Theux, Stavelot, over the
headwaters of the Ourthe.

Forest trees almost swept the window panes at times; lonely hamlets lay
unlighted in darkened valleys. Karen's blue eyes were shut and she did
not see these things. As for Guild he lay very still, wondering how he
was to get the papers--wondering, too, what it was about this girl that
was making this headlong, nerve-racking quest of his the most
interesting and most wonderful journey he had ever undertaken.

They were not asleep, but they should have been. And in separate
corners. Conscience was explaining this to her and she was really trying
to find relief in sleep. Conscience was less intrusive with him, except
in regard to the papers. And when it had nagged him enough he ceased
wondering how he was going to get them and merely admitted that he would
do it.

And this self-knowledge disturbed him so that he could scarcely endure
to think of the matter and of what must happen to their friendship in
the end. Sorrow, dismay, tenderness possessed him by turns. She seemed
like a slumbering child there on his shoulder, softly fragrant,
trustful, pathetic. And he was pledged to a thing that might tear the
veil from her eyes--horrify her, crush her confidence in man.

"I can bribe a couple of old women," he thought miserably--"but it's
almost as bad as though I did it myself. Good Heavens!--was a man ever
before placed in such a predicament?"

And when he couldn't stand his horrid reflections any longer he said,
"Karen?" again. So humbly, so unhappily that the girl opened her blue
eyes very wide and listened with all her might.

"Karen," he said, "in a comparatively short time you won't listen to me
at all--you won't tolerate me. And before that time is upon us, I--I
want to say a--few--words to you ... about how deeply I value our
friendship.... And about my very real respect and admiration for you....
You won't let me say it, soon. You won't care to hear it. You will scorn
the very mention of my name--hate me, possibly--no, probably.... And so
now--before I have irrevocably angered you--before I have incurred
your--dislike--I want to say--if I may--that I--never was as unhappy in
all my life."

Lying very still against his shoulder she thought: "He does not really
mean to do it."

"Karen," he went on, "if you don't find it in your heart to spare me
this--duty--how can I spare myself?"

She thought: "He _does_ mean to do it."

"And yet--and yet----"

"He won't do it!" she thought.

"There never has been a coward in my race!" he said more calmly.

"He _does_ mean to do it!" she thought. "He is a barbarian, a Hun, a
Visigoth, a savage! He is a brute, all through. And I--I don't know what
I am becoming--resting here--listening to such--such infamy from him! I
don't know what is going to become of me--I don't--I _don't!_"

She caught her breath like a hurt child, hot tears welled up; she turned
and buried her face against his arm, overwhelmed by her own toleration
of herself and the man she was learning so quickly to endure, to fear,
and to care for with all the capacity of a heart and mind that had never
before submitted one atom of either mind or heart to any man.

What had happened to her? What possessed her? What was bewitching her
that from the first instant she had laid eyes on him she seemed to
realize she belonged with him--beside him! And now--now a more
terrifying knowledge threatened, menaced her--the vague, obscure,
formless idea that she belonged to him.

Did it mean she was in love! Was _this_ love? It couldn't be. Love came
differently. It was a happiness, a delight, a firm and abiding faith, a
sunburst of self-revelation and self-knowledge. It wasn't tears and
conscience and bewilderment, and self-reproach--and a haunting fear of
self--and a constantly throttled dismay at her own capability for
informality--the informality, for example, of her present attitude! And
she wept anew at her own astounding degradation.

Love? No, indeed. But a dreadful, unaccountable exposure of her own
unaccountable capacity for familiarity! That was it. She was
common--common at heart, common by instinct. She had thought she had a
will of her own. It seemed she had not. She had nothing!--nothing
admirable in her--neither quality nor fineness nor courage nor
intellect. It must be so, or how could she be where she was, blotting
her tears against the shoulder of a man she had known two days!--biting
at her quivering lip in silence there, miserable, bewildered,
lonely--lonely beyond belief.


She made the effort, failed, tried again:

"Yes," she managed to say.

"Don't cry any more."


"Because I don't mean to make you unhappy."


"But I must have those papers--mustn't I?"


"But you are not going to give them to me, are you?"


"And I am not going to--to tear you to pieces, am I?"


"And yet I _must_ have them, mustn't I?"


"You know I am going to get them, don't you?"


"How do you think I am going to do it?"

"I d-don't know."

"I think I know one way."

She remained silent.

"It is quite a wonderful way ... if it could occur--happen, come about."

She said nothing.

"I don't know--I don't know--I won't think about it any more ... for a
while.... It's too important to think about ... in that way ... if it is
going to be important at all.... I don't know exactly what I'm saying,
Karen. I seem to be thinking out loud.... The idea came ... and then
remained.... You won't cry any more, will you?"


"I frightened you, didn't I?"

"No.... Yes.... Not exactly."

"You know," he said, "I don't understand you."

"Don't you?"

"Not clearly.... Do you care a little for me, still?"

"I don't know--how I feel."

"Could you care for me--be friends again--as naturally and as honestly
as you were once?"

"I--trusted you. Friendship is trust."

"I know. I have destroyed your confidence."

"Yes--my confidence in friendship."

"That is a terrible thing to do," he said miserably.

"Yes. Friendship ends when distrust begins. I do distrust you and I
don't understand why--why distrusting you makes me care for you--even


"I do care--more than I did. Can you explain it?"

He was silent, surprised and touched.

"I can't explain it to myself," she said. "I have been trying to and I
can't. I should detest you, but I don't. If there is any contempt it is
for myself--because I can not feel it for you, perhaps. I think it's
that. I don't know. The years we have lived together in these two days
must account for my liking you.... Not altogether, because it began in
the beginning when you came to Hyacinth Villa.... And it's been so all
the time."

"Not all the time. Not in our stateroom."

"Yes--even there."

"When I----"

"Yes! Yes! Isn't it degrading? Isn't it unaccountable--terrible! I'm
frightened I tell you. I am afraid that whatever you do--will
not--change me."

There was no emotion in her young voice, only an accentless admission of
facts with a candour and directness that silenced him.

After a moment she went on, without emphasis, and thoughtfully, as
though in self-communion to make things clearer to herself:

"I'm really well born. You might be pardoned for not thinking so----"

"Your father is of that caste."

"General von Reiter is not my father."

"What!" he exclaimed, astounded.

She turned her face from his shoulder and looked up at him.

"He spoke to you of me as his daughter. You spoke to me of him in that
relation, too. I did not enlighten you because it did not seem to
matter. But it is not true."

"Is he--your guardian?"

"No; I need none. My father was a German officer--of that caste. My
mother was Danish.... Something happened--I do not know what. I was very
little. And my mother would never speak of it. She was very beautiful. I
remember her quite well. We lived in Copenhagen.

"Whatever happened occurred before I was born. I know that. Mother told
me. My father dropped both title and name and left the army and went
with my mother to Copenhagen. He took the name of his mother who was
English--Girard. I never was even told what our name had been. Neither
father nor mother would ever speak of it."

She rested there silent, absent-eyed, gazing into space as though
recalling years that had not been unpleasant. Then, serenely meeting his
gaze, she smiled up at him.

"You know," she said, "my life has been a happy one. My father was a man
of means. We lived very happily in Denmark. I've always thought of
myself as Danish.

"My childhood was really wonderful. I had a passion for study, for
learning; and I learn very easily--almost without effort. And you know,
perhaps, how thorough the Danish schools are, how much they demand of a
child, physically as well as mentally.

"And I did everything, Kervyn; learned the accomplishments of a young
Danish girl--and was flattered I am afraid, and perhaps spoiled.

"And always I desired to go on the stage--always--from the very
beginning--from the time I was first taken to the theatre.

"It was quite hopeless. I did act for charity, and at school; and
afterward took lessons. But as long as my father and mother lived that
career was not possible.... Afterward I decided for myself. And first I
went to Germany and they gave me a small part in a company that was
going to Posen. And there General von Reiter, who had been my father's
friend and brother-officer, met me.

"He was very kind. He wished to adopt me and give me his name. He was
very insistent, too--a man--Kervyn, not unlike you--in some respects.
But I never dreamed of permitting him to sway me--as you do.

"He knew my desire for a stage career; he has for three years attempted
to destroy in me that desire. When I had no engagement, or was studying,
he insisted that I stay with his brother and his brother's wife, with
whom he lived. He spoke freely of his desire and intention of legally
adopting me, called me his daughter when he spoke to others of me--and
always I felt the constant, iron pressure of his will--always--not
harshly, but with the kindly patience of resolution.

"Then I decided to go to England, study, and if possible gain some
experience on the London stage.

"And then"--she bit her lip--"I think I may say it--to _you_--not saying
it lightly, Kervyn--then, on the eve of my departure, he asked me to
marry him.

"And because he would not accept my answer he exacted of me a promise
that in November I would return to Berlin, give him my final answer, and
choose then between marrying him or a return to the profession I care
for most.

"That is my history, Kervyn. No man has ever figured in it; none except
General Baron von Reiter has ever even invaded it ... until you have
done so ... and have made your wishes mine--I don't know how--and your
will my inclination--and me more than the friend I was.

"One thing only you could not do--and in my heart I know you do not wish
it of me--and that is, make me break my word--make me forget a promise.

"Now I have told you all," she said with a little sigh, and lay there
looking at him.

"Not all, Karen."

"Yes, I think so."

"No. You have not told me what answer you mean to make."

Her eyes opened at that. "I am not in love. What answer should I make?"

"You return to your career?"

"Of course, once my promise is kept."

"What promise?"

"To see him and tell him what I have decided."

"Do you think he might persuade you?"


"Are you sure?"


He said, looking at her with a hint of a smile in his eyes: "Do you
think I might ever persuade you to give up your career?"

She smiled frankly: "I don't think so."

"Not if I asked?"

"You wouldn't do such a thing."

"I might if I fell in love with you."

She lay perfectly still, quite tranquil, looking up at him. Suddenly her
expression changed.

"Is it likely?" she said, the tint of excitement in her cheeks.

"Do you think so?"

"I don't know. Is it?"

"It's perfectly possible I imagine."

"That you could fall in love with me?"


After a moment she laughed as a child laughs at the prospect of
beholding wonders.

"Kervyn," she said, "please do so. I will give you every opportunity if
you will remain at Trois Fontaines."

"I mean to remain in that vicinity," he said, meaningly; and she laughed
again, deliciously, almost maliciously.

"It would finish you thoroughly," she said. "It would be poetic justice
with a vengeance."

"_Your_ vengeance?"

"Yes, mine. Oh, if you only _did_ do that!"

"I think, considering the way you look at it, that I'd better not," he
said, rather seriously. "Besides, I've no time."

"No time to fall in love with me?"

"No time."


"Shall I tell you?"

"Yes, please."

"Very well. Because after I have the papers I shall enter the Belgian
army." He added with a hint of impatience--"Where I belong and where I
ought to be now."

She became very silent at that. After a few moments she said: "Had you
decided to do that before I met you?"

"Yes. I was on my way--trying to avoid the very trap I fell into."

"The German army?"


After another silence she said: "I shall be very sorry when you go. I
shall think of you when I am in England."

"You can't go back to England, Karen."

"That is true. I forgot."

"Where will you go?"

"I don't know."

"Don't go to Germany."


"There may be an invasion."

She had lifted her head as he spoke. After a moment she sighed like a
tired child, laid her head back on his arm and rested one slender hand
on his shoulder.

It suddenly seemed to her that the world, which had been going very well
with her, had halted, and was beginning to go the other way.



"You could take the papers when I am asleep, I suppose. I couldn't help
it, could I?"

"That _is_ one way," he said, smiling.

"What was the other?"

He did not reply.

She sighed again. "I suggested it," she said, "in order to give you a
little more time to do--what you said you thought--possible."

"Fall in love?" he asked lightly. "Yes."

"What would be the use, Karen?"


"Yes. I'm going into the army. It will be a long war. If I fell in love
with you I'd not have time to win your love in return before I went
away--admitting that I could ever win it. Do you see?"

"I quite see that."

"So I had better take the papers when I can, and get into touch with the
reserves of my regiment if I can."

"What regiment?"

"The Guides."

"The Guides! Are you an officer?"

"Yes, of the reserve."

She knew quite well what that meant. Only the Belgian nobility of
ancient lineage served as officers in the Guides.

A happiness, a wonderful tranquillity crept over her. No wonder she had
found it difficult to really reproach herself with her behaviour. And it
was a most heavenly comfort to her to know that if she had been
indiscreet, at least she had been misbehaving with one of her own caste.

                               * * * * *

"The next station," said the German guard, squinting in at them from the
window under his lifted lantern, "is Trois Fontaines."

"What!" exclaimed Guild surprised. "Have we passed the customs?"

"The customs? This is a German military train! What business is it of
the Grand Duchy where we go or what we do?"

He lowered his lantern and turned away along the running-board,
muttering: "Customs, indeed! The Grand Duchy had better mind its
business--and the Grand Duchess, too!"

A few moments later the locomotive whistled a long signal note to the
unseen station.

"Karen," said Guild quietly, "in a few moments I shall be out of debt to
General von Reiter. My life will be my own to do with as I please. That
means good-bye."

She said with adorable malice: "I thought you were going to rob me

"I am," he said, smiling.

"Then I shall make the crime a very difficult one for you.... So that
our--parting--may be deferred."

The train had already come to a standstill beside a little red-tiled
station. Woods surrounded it; nothing was visible except the lamps on a
light station-wagon drawn up to the right of the track.

The guard unlocked and opened their compartment. A young man--a mere
boy--came up smilingly and lifted his cap:

"Mademoiselle Girard? Monsieur Guild? I come from Quellenheim with a
carriage. I am Fritz Bergner."

He took their luggage and they followed to the covered station-wagon.
When they were seated the boy stepped into the front seat, turned his
horses, and they trotted away into the darkness of a forest through
which ran the widely winding road.

Fresh and aromatic with autumn perfume the unbroken woods stretched away
on either hand beneath the splendour of the stars. Under little stone
bridges streams darkled, hurrying to the valley; a lake glimmered
through the trees all lustrous in the starlight.

Something--perhaps the beauty of the night, possibly the imminence of
his departure, kept them silent during the drive, until, at last, two
unlighted gate-posts loomed up to the right and the horses swung through
a pair of iron gates and up a driveway full of early fallen leaves.

A single light sparkled far at the end of the vista.

"Have you ever before been here?" asked Guild.

"Once, to a hunt."

Presently Guild could see the long, two-storied hunting lodge of timber
and stucco construction with its high peaked roof and dormers and a
great pair of antlers spreading above the hood of the door.

Out of the doorway came a stout, pleasant-eyed, brown-skinned woman who
curtsied to them smilingly and welcomed them in German.

Everything was ready; they had been expected. There was a fire in the
hall and something to eat.

Guild asked to be driven to an inn, and the housekeeper seemed
surprised. There was no inn. Her orders were to prepare a room for Herr
Guild, who was expected to remain over night. She regretted that she
could not make them more comfortable, but the Lodge had been closed all
summer, and she had remained alone with her son Fritzl to care for the

There seemed to be nothing for him to do but to stay over night.

Karen, waiting for his decision, looked pale and tired.

"Very well," he said to Frau Bergner, who curtsied and went away for
their candles. Then he walked over to where Karen was standing, lifted
her hand and touched the slender fingers with his lips.

"Good night," she said; "I hope your dreams will be agreeable."

"I hope yours will be, also."

"I hope so. I shall try to continue a dream which I had on the train. It
was an odd one--something about a frontier and a sentry box. You woke me
before I had entirely crossed the frontier. I'd like to cross and find
out what really is on the other side."

He laughed:

"I hope you will find, there, whatever you desire."

"I--hope so. Because if I should cross the boundary and
find--nobody--there, it might make me unhappy for the rest of my life."
And she looked up at him with a slight blush on her cheeks.

Then her features grew grave, her eyes serious, clear, and wistful.

"I think I am--learning to care--a great deal for you. Don't let me if I
shouldn't. Tell me while there is time."

She turned as the housekeeper came with the lighted candles.

Guild stood aside for her to pass, his grave face lowered, silent before
this young girl's candour and the troubled sincerity of her avowal.

In his own room, the lighted candle still in his hand, he stood
motionless, brooding on what she had said.

And in his heart he knew that, although he had never liked any woman as
much as he liked this young girl, he was not in love with her. And,
somehow or other, he must tell her so--while there was still time.

                              CHAPTER XVI

                           THE FOREST LISTENS

He awoke in a flood of brightest sunshine; his bed, the floor, the
walls, were bathed in it; netted reflections of water danced and
quivered on the ceiling; and he lay looking at it, pleasantly conscious
of green leaves stirring near his open window and of the golden
splashing of a fountain.

There was a little bird out there, too, diligently practicing a few
notes. The song was not elaborate. Translated, it seemed to consist of
tweet! tweet! twilly-willy-willy! repeated an indefinite number of

Curious to discover what his surroundings resembled he rose and looked
out of the curtained window. There was a grassy carrefour where a
fountain spouted into a stone pool; all else was forest; a stream
sparkled between tree-trunks, bridged where the drive crossed it.

To bathe and dress did not take him very long. In the hall, which seemed
to be the main living-room below, he prowled about, examining a number
of antlers and boar-heads mounted on the beamed and plastered walls. The
former had been set up in German fashion, antlers, brow-antlers, and
frontal bone; and these trophies appeared to him uninteresting--even a
trifle ghastly when the bleached skull also was included.

The boars' heads were better, nothing extraordinary in size, but
well-tusked. The taxidermy, however, was wretched.

The square hall itself did not appear particularly inviting. The usual
long oak table and benches were there, a number of leather arm-chairs,
book-racks, cue-racks, gun-racks with glazed panes to protect the
weapons, a festoon of spears, hunting knives and curly hunting horns,
skins on the floor, brown bear, wolf, and stag.

A badly stuffed otter displayed its teeth on the mantle over the
fireplace between a pair of fighting cock pheasants and a jar of alcohol
containing a large viper, which embellishments did not add to the
cheerfulness of the place.

For the rest there was a billiard table shrouded in a rubber cloth, and
three well-engraved portraits on the walls, Bismarck, after Lehnbach,
Frederick the Great playing on a flute like fury, and the great War Lord
of Europe himself, mustaches on end, sombre-eyed, sullen, cased in the
magnificent steel panoply of the Guard Cuirassiers. The art gallery
bored Guild, and he opened a door which he suspected communicated with
the pantry.

It was a valet's closet and it smelled of camphor. Shooting-coats hung
on stretchers; high-laced shooting-boots were ranged in rows. On a chair
lay Karen's skirt and blouse-coat of covert cloth. Both were still
slightly damp and wrinkled. Evidently they had been brought down here to
be brushed and pressed while Karen slept.

Passing his hand over the brown silk lining of the coat gave him no clue
to the hiding-place of the papers; what revealed their presence was a
seam which had been hurriedly basted with black thread. The keen point
of his pocket-knife released the basting. He drew out the papers,
counted them, identified them one by one, and placed them in his breast
pocket. Then he laid the coat across the back of the chair again and
went out.

He had two hours to wait before there could be any decent hope of
breakfast. Nobody seemed to be stirring in the house. After a few
minutes he unlocked the front door and went out into the early sunshine.

It was as warm as a spring day; rain had freshened grass and trees; he
sat down on the fountain's rim and looked into the pool where a dozen
trout lay motionless, their fins winnowing the icy water.

No doubt some spring, high on the wooded hills, had been piped down to
furnish the pool with this perpetually bubbling jet.

The little bird who had entertained him vocally earlier in the morning
was still vocal somewhere in a huge beech-tree. Around a spot of
moisture on the gravel-drive two butterflies flitted incessantly. And
over all brooded the calm and exquisite silence of the forest.

An hour or more later he got up and re-entered the house.

First he took a look at the valet's room. Evidently Karen's clothes had
been brushed and pressed, for they had disappeared.

Another door in the square hall promised to lead into the pantry,
judging from significant sounds within.

It did, and the housekeeper was in there as energetically busy as every
German woman always is when occupied. And German women are always

The kindly soul appeared to be much flattered by his visit. They had
quite a gossiping time of it while she was preparing the breakfast

It was mostly a monologue.

No, she and Fritzl were not lonely at Quellenheim, although it was
pleasant to have the Lodge open and a noble company there shooting. But,
like Marlbrook, the Herr Baron had gone to the wars--alas!--and it might
take him some time to capture Paris and London and set the remainder of
the world in order.

But it really seemed too bad; the Herr Baron was fond of his shooting;
Fritzl had reported some good antlers in the forest, and a grey boar or
two--but enormous! As for the place it would certainly go to ruin what
with faggot stealers and godless poachers!--And the foresters, keepers,
and even the wood-choppers all gone off and deserting the place--think
of it!--the ungrateful Kerls--gone!--and doubtless to join the crazy
Belgian army which had refused to permit Prussian troops to pass!
_Prussian_ troops! The impudence of it! Gratitude! There was little of
that in the world it seemed.

"When does the Herr Baron return here?" inquired Guild, smiling.

It appeared that the Herr Baron was to have arrived at Quellenheim this
very week. But yesterday his adjutant telegraphed that he could not come
perhaps for many weeks. No doubt he was very busy chasing the French and
English. It was a pity; because the autumn is _wunderschön_ at
Quellenheim. And as for the deer!--they stand even in the driveway and
look at the Lodge, doubtless wondering, sir, why they are neglected by
the hunters, and asking one another why good fat venison is no longer
appreciated at Quellenheim.

"Could you tell me where I may telegraph to the Herr Baron?" asked the
young man, immensely amused by her gossip.

"That I can, sir. My careful household reports are sent to the Herr
Baron through military headquarters at Arenstein, Prussia. That is where
he is to be addressed."

"And a telegraph office?"

"At the railroad station."

"In communication with Prussia?"

"Yes, sir," she said with a vigorous nod. "And whenever any of the
yokels here about tamper with the wires the Uhlans come and chase them
till they think the devil is after them!"

"Uhlans. Here?"

"And why not? Certainly the Uhlans come occasionally. They come when it
is necessary. Also they cross the Grand Duchy when they please."

"Then, if I write out a telegram here----"

"Fritzl will take it, never fear, sir. Leave it on the billiard
table--any telegrams or letters--and they shall be sent when Fritzl
drives to the station."

"Where," he inquired, "is Lesse Forest?" And could he send a messenger?

"Lesse Forest? Why the chasse wall separates the range of the Lesse
Hills from Quellenheim. Any peasant at Trois Fontaines who possesses a
bicycle could take a message and return in an hour."

"Do you know who leases the chasse at Lesse?"

"Yes. Some wealthy Americans."

So he smiled his thanks and returned to the hall. There was writing
material on the long oak table. And first of all he wrote out a brief
telegram to General von Reiter saying that he had fulfilled his promise.

This was all he might venture to say in a telegram; the rest he embodied
in his letter to the Herr Baron:

    Having telegraphed to you, and fulfilled my enforced obligations
    to the letter, I am confident that you, in your turn, will
    fulfill yours, release the hostages held by your troops at
    Yslemont, and spare the village any further destruction and

    You had made it a part of the contract that, in case you were
    not at Quellenheim, I was to remain over night under your roof.

    I therefore have done so. It was not an agreeable sensation, and
    your forced hospitality, you will recognize, imposes no
    obligations upon an unwilling guest.

    Now, as I say, the last and least item of my indebtedness to you
    is finally extinguished, and I am free once more to do what I

    I shall be a consistent enemy to your country in whatever
    capacity the Belgian Government may see fit to employ me. I
    shall do your country all the harm I can. Not being a public
    executioner I have given the spies in your employment in London
    a week's grace to clear out before I place proofs of their
    identity in the hands of the British Government.

    This, I believe, closes, for the present, our personal account.

    Miss Girard is well, suffered no particular hardship, and is, I
    suppose, quite safe at Quellenheim where your capable
    housekeeper and her son are in charge of the Lodge.

    May I add that, personally, I entertain no animosity toward you
    or toward any German, individually--only a deep and
    inextinguishable hatred toward all that your Empire stands for,
    and a desire to aid in the annihilation of this monstrous
    anachronism of the twentieth century.

When he had signed and sealed this, and directed it, he wrote to his
friend Darrel:


    If you are at Lesse Forest still, which I understand adjoins the
    hills of Quellenheim--and if your friends the Courlands still
    care to ask me for a day or two, I shall be very glad to come. I
    am at Quellenheim, Trois Fontaines.

    Please destroy the letter I intrusted to you to send to my
    mother. Everything is all right again. I may even have time to
    fish with you for a day or two.

    The messenger from Trois Fontaines who takes this will wait for
    an answer.

    Please convey my respect and my very lively sense of obligation
    to the Courlands. And don't let them ask me if it inconveniences
    them. I can go to Luxembourg just as well and see you there if
    you can run over.

    Did you get my luggage? I am wearing my last clean shirt. But my
    clothes are the limit.

    If I am to stop for a day or two at the Courlands please
    telegraph to Luxembourg for my luggage as soon as you receive

                                                Yours as usual,

    P. S.

    Do Uhlans ever annoy the Courlands? I imagine that Lesse is too
    far from the railway and too unimportant from a military
    standpoint to figure at all in any operations along the edge of
    the Grand Duchy. And also any of the Ardennes is unfit as a
    highway between Rhenish Prussia and France. Am I correct?


He had sealed and directed this letter, and was gazing meditatively out
of the diamond-leaded windows at the splashing fountain in the court,
when a slight sound attracted his attention and he turned, then rose and
stepped forward.

Karen gave him her hand, smiling. In the other hand she held the last of
her orchids.

"Are you rested?" he asked.

"Yes. Are you?"

"Perfectly, thank you. Really it is beautiful outside the house."

She lifted her lovely eyes and stood gazing out into the sunshine.

"There is no word from General von Reiter?" she asked, absently
caressing her cheek with the fragrant blossom in her hand.

"Not yet," he said.

"If none comes, what are you going to do?"

"I am free, anyhow, to leave now."


"Free of my engagement with Baron von Reiter."

"Free of your obligations to--_me_?" she asked in a low voice.

He turned to her seriously: "My allegiance to you needs no renewal,
Karen, because it has never been broken. You have my friendship if you
wish for it. It is yours always as long as you care for it."

"I do.... Are you going to leave--Quellenheim?"



"When a messenger brings me an answer to a letter which I shall send
this morning."

She stood caressing her lips with his flower and gazing dreamily into
the forest.

"So you really are going," she said.

"I cannot help it."

"I thought"--she forced a smile--"that you intended to rob me first."

He did not answer.

"Had you forgotten?" she asked, still with the forced smile.


"Do you still mean to do it?"

"I told you that I had to have the papers."

"Yes, and I told you that I should make it as difficult as I could for
you. And I'm going to. Because I don't want you to go." She laughed,
then sighed very frankly: "Of course," she added, "I don't suppose I
could keep them very long if you have made up your mind to take them."

"Is that your idea of me?" he asked, laughing.

She nodded, thoughtfully: "You take what you want, sooner or later.
There is no hope in opposing you. You are that kind of man. I have
learned that."

She touched the orchid to her chin meditatively. "It surprised me," she
added. "I have not been accustomed to authority like yours. I am my own
mistress, and I supposed I was accountable to myself alone. But--" she
lifted her eyes, "it appears that I am accountable to you. And the
realization does not seem to anger me very deeply."

He looked away: "I do not try to control you, Karen," he said in a low

"You have done so whether or not you have tried. I don't know what has
happened to me. Do you?"

"Nothing," he said, forcing a laugh. "Except you are learning that the
greatest pleasure of friendship is a confidence in it which nothing can

"Confidence in friendship--yes. But confidence in _you_!--that ended in
our stateroom. Without confidence I thought friendship impossible....
And here I am asking you not to go away--because I--shall miss you. Will
you tell me what is the matter with a girl who has no confidence in a
man and who desires his companionship as I do yours?" Her cheeks
flushed, but her eyes were steady, bright, and intelligent: "Am I going
to fall in love with you, Kervyn?"

He laughed mirthlessly: "No, not if you can reason with yourself about
it," he said. "It merely means that you are the finest, most honest,
most fearless woman I ever knew, capable of the most splendid
friendship, not afraid to show it. That is all it means, Karen. And I am
deeply, humbly grateful.... And very miserable.... Because----"

The entrance of Frau Bergner with the breakfast tray checked him. They
both turned toward the long oak table.

Fortunately the culinary school where the housekeeper had acquired her
proficiency was not German. She had learned her art in Alsace.

So the coffee was fragrant and the omelette a dream; and there were
grapes from the kitchen arbour and ham from a larder never lacking the
succulent by-products of the _sanglier_ of the Ardennes.

Frau Bergner took his letters and telegram, promising that Fritzl should
find somebody with a bicycle at Trois Fontaines to carry the other note
to Lesse Forest.

She hovered over them while they ate. The breakfast was a silent one.

Afterward Karen wrote a number of notes addressed to her modiste in
Berlin and to various people who might, in her present emergency, supply
her with something resembling a wardrobe.

Guild had taken his pipe out to the fountain, where she could see him
through the window, seated on the coping of the pool, smoking and
tracing circles in the gravel with a broken twig.

She hurried her notes, called the housekeeper to take them, then,
without taking hat or gloves, she went out into the sunshine. The habit,
so easily acquired, of being with Guild was becoming a necessity, and
neither to herself nor to him had it yet occurred to her to pretend
anything different.

There was, in her, an inherent candour, which unqualified, perhaps
unsoftened by coquetry, surprises more than it attracts a man.

But its very honesty is its undoing; it fails to hold the complex
masculine mind; its attractiveness is not permanent. For the average man
requires the subtlety of charm to stir him to sentiment; and charm means
uncertainty; and uncertainty, effort.

No effortless conquest means more to a man than friendship. And
friendship is nothing new to a man.

But it was new to Karen; she had opened her mind to it; she was opening
her heart to it, curious concerning it, interested as she had never
before been, sincere about it--sincere with herself.

Never before had the girl cared for a man more than she had cared about
any woman. The women she had known had not been inferior in intelligence
to the men she knew. And a normal and wholesome mind and heart harbour
little sentiment when the mind is busy and the body sound.

But since she had known this man she knew also that he had appealed to
something more than her intelligence.

Vaguely realizing this in the crisis threatened by his violence, she had
warned him that he was violating something more than friendship.

Then the episode had passed and become only an unquiet memory; but the
desire for his companionship had not passed; it increased, strengthening
itself with every hour in his company, withstanding self-analysis,
self-reproach, defying resentment, mocking her efforts to stimulate
every tradition of pride--even pride itself.

Deeply conscious of the power his personality exercised over her,
perplexed, even bewildered at herself, she had not only endured the
intimacy of contact with him, but in her heart she accepted it, cared
for it, was conscious of relaxation and contentment except for the
constant array of traditional indictments which her conscience was
busily and automatically finding against her.

She could not comprehend why what he had done had not annihilated her
interest in him; why she, even with effort, could find in her mind no
abiding anger, no scorn, no contempt for him or for what he had done.

And because she was intelligent and healthy, in her perplexity she had
tried to reason--had found nothing to account for her state of mind
unless love could account for it--and knowing nothing of love, had
admitted the possibility to herself and even to him. Intelligence,
candour, ignorance of deeper emotion--coupled with the normal mental and
physical innocence of a young girl--this was the character she had been
born with and which had naturally and logically developed through
nineteen years of mental and bodily cultivation. The girl was most
fatally equipped for an awakening.

                               * * * * *

He stood up when she appeared, knocked out his pipe and advanced to meet
her. He had been doing a lot of thinking. And he had concluded to talk
very frankly to her about her friendship with him--frankly, kindly,
discouraging gaily any mistaken notion she might harbour that there
could be any room, any reason, any fitness for a deeper sentiment in
this friendship--anything more significant than the delightful and frank
affection now existing between them.

"Shall we walk in the forest, Karen?" he said.

"Yes, please."

So they turned into a sentier which curved away through a fern-set
rabbit warren, over a wooden footbridge, and then led them on through
alternate flecks of sunshine and shadow through a noble forest of beech
and oak.

The green and brown mast lay thick under-foot, premature harvest of
windfalls--perhaps the prodigality of those reckless sylvan
spendthrifts, the squirrels and jays.

Here and there a cock-pheasant ran through a spinny at their approach;
rabbits scuttled into wastes of bracken as yet uncurled and unblemished
by a frost; distant crashes and a dull galloping signalled the unseen
flight of deer. Now and then the dark disturbance of the forest floor
betrayed where the horny, furry snouts of boar had left furrows of fresh
black earth amid the acorns.

They came upon the stream again--or perhaps a different little brook,
splashing and curling amid its ferns and green, drenched mosses.
Stepping stones crossed it; Karen passed lightly, surely, on little
flying feet, and stood laughing on the other side as he paused to poke
about in the pool in hopes of starting a trout into arrowy flight.

When he crossed she had seated herself under a fir, the branches of
which swept the ground around her; and so utterly had she vanished that
she was obliged to call him before he could discover her whereabouts.

"Under this green tent," she said, "if I had a bed, and some books, and
clothes, and food, and my maid and--a piano, I could live most happily
all summer." She laughed, looked at him--"if I had all these
and--_you_," she added.

"Why drag _me_ into such a perfect paradise?"

"I shouldn't _drag_ you," she said gravely. "I should merely tell you
where I lived."

"I didn't mean it that way."

"You might have, with reason. I have demanded a great deal of your

"I have demanded all of yours!" he retorted, lightly.

"Not more than I was content to give.... It seems all a dream to
me--which began when you rang the bell at Hyacinth Villa and roused me
from my sleep. And," she added with a gay flash of malice, "you have
kept me awake ever since."

"And you, me!"

"Not a bit! You slept in the railway car."

"So did you."

"In your arms, practically...." She looked up at him curiously: "What
did you think of me, Kervyn?"

"I thought you were an exceedingly tired girl."

"I was. Is that all you thought about it?"

"You know," he said, laughing, "when a man is asleep he doesn't do much

"What did you think afterward?"

"About what?"

"About my sleeping against your shoulder?"

"Nothing," he said carelessly.

"Were you quite--indifferent?"

He didn't know how to answer.

"I was not," she said. "I was contented, and I thought continually about
our friendship--except when what I was doing made me uneasy about--what
I was doing.... Isn't it curious that a girl could do a thing like that
and feel comfortable except when she remembered that a girl doesn't
usually do a thing like that?"

He began to laugh, and she laughed, too.

She said: "Always my inclination has been, from a child, to explain
things to myself. But I can't explain you, yet. You are very different,
you know."

"Not a bit----"

"Yes, please. I've found that out.... Tell me, do you really mean to go

"Yes, Karen, I do."

"Couldn't you stay?"

"I really couldn't."

"Why, please?"

"I must be about my business."



"In the Guides," she said, as though to herself.

He nodded.

"The Guides," she repeated, looking rather vacantly at a sun spot that
waxed and waned on the dry carpet of fir-needles at her feet. "I have
seen them. They are odd, with their furry headgear and their green
jackets and boots and cherry-red breeches.... I have danced with
officers of the Guides in Brussels.... I never thought that my first man
friend would be an officer in the Guides."

"I never thought my best friend among women would be the first woman I
ever robbed," he said rather grimly.

"Oh, but you haven't done it yet! And I don't see how you propose to do

He looked up, forcing a smile:

"Don't you?"

"Not if you are going away. How can you? The only way I can see is for
you to stay at Quellenheim in hopes that I might forget to lock my door
some night. You know," she said, almost wistfully, "I _might_ forget--if
you remained long enough."

He shook his head.

"Then you have given it up?"


"But I don't see!"

She was so pretty in her perplexity, so utterly without art in her
frankness and curiosity that the impulse to mystify and torment her
possessed him.

"Will you bet that I shall not have those papers in my possession within
ten minutes?" he asked.

"How _can_ you?"

"I can. And I shall."

She gazed at him incredulously, then suddenly her cheeks lost their
colour and she stood up under the fir-tree.

"Must I take them or will you give them up, Karen?" he asked, laughing,
as he rose.

She took a step backward, away from him. The tree-trunk checked her.

"You know I can't give them to you," she said unsteadily. "It would be

"Am I to take them?"

"Are you going to?"

"Do you mean to say that rather than surrender them you would endure
such violence as that?"

"I promised.... Are you going to--to hurt me, Kervyn?" she stammered.

"I'll try not to."

She stood there, breathing fast, white, defiant.

"You'll have to surrender," he said. "You might as well. It's an
honourable capitulation in the presence of superior force."


"You refuse?"

"Yes, please."

He said: "Very well, then," with an alarming frown.



"If you tear my gown I--I shall have to go to bed."

"I'm not going to touch your gown," he said. "I'm going to charm those
papers so they'll leave their hiding place and fly into my pocket. Watch
me very attentively, Karen!" And he tucked up his cuffs and made a few
short passes in the air. Then he smiled at her.

"Kervyn! I thought you meant to take them. Do you know you really did
frighten me?"

"I _have_ got them," he said.

The colour came back into her cheeks; she smiled at him in a breathless

"You did frighten me," she said. She came slowly back and seated herself
on the carpet of fir-needles. He sat down beside her.

"Karen, dear," he said, "you are a brick and I'm a brute. I took your
papers this morning. I _had_ to, dear."

And he drew them from his breast pocket and showed them to her.

The girl sat in wide-eyed amazement for a moment. Suddenly her face
flushed and the tears flashed in her eyes.

"You have ridiculed me!" she said. "You have treated me like a child!"


"I will not listen! I shall never listen to you again! You have played
with me, hurt me, humiliated me. You have ruled and overruled me! You
gained my friendship and treated it--and me--without ceremony. And I let
you! I must have been mad----"

Her mouth quivered; she clenched her hands, gazing at him through eyes
that glimmered wet:

"How could you do it? I was honest with you; I had had no experience
with a man I cared for. You knew it. You let me care for you until I
didn't understand--until the sincerity and force of what I felt for you
bewildered me!

"And now--and now I am--unhappy--unhappy--miserable, ashamed--" She
caught her breath, scarcely able to see him through her tears--no longer
able to control the quivering lip.

She rose swiftly, encountered something--his arm--felt herself drawn
resistlessly into his embrace.

"Forgive me, Karen," he said. "I did not realize--what was happening
to--us both."

She rested her forehead on his shoulder for a moment.

"Can you forgive me, Karen?"


"You know I truly care for you?"


Scarcely knowing what he was doing, he bent to touch her forehead with
his lips, and she lifted her face at the same moment. His kiss fell on
her mouth, and she responded. At the same instant her girlhood ended
forever--vanished on her lips in a little sigh.

Dazed, silenced, a trifle faint, she turned from him blindly.

"Please," she whispered, in the ghost of a voice; and he released her.

For a few moments she stood resting against the fir-tree, her left arm
across her eyes, frightened, motionless.

The forest was very still around her, as though every leaf were

                              CHAPTER XVII

                           HER FIRST CAMPAIGN

"Karen," she heard him say, in a constrained and unfamiliar voice, "I
love you."

If he thought he was still speaking to the same girl whose soft and
fragrant lips he had touched a moment before, he was mistaken. He spoke
too late. The girl had vanished with her girlhood.

And now it was with a very different sort of being he had to do--with a
woman whose mind had quickened under shock; whose latent emotions had
been made conscious; whose spirit, awakened by a crisis, was already
armoured and in arms. Aroused, alert, every instinct awake, proud of a
new and radiant knowledge, new motives germinated, new impulses
possessed her; a new and delicious wisdom thrilled her. She was ready,
and she realized it.


She heard him perfectly. Deep within her something was laughing. There
was no hurry. She knew it.

"Karen?" he said, very humbly.

Conscious of the change within herself, still a little surprised and
excited by it, and by a vaguely exquisite sensation of impending
adventure, of perils charmingly indefinite, of the newness of it all,
deep, deep within her she felt the certainty, the tranquillity, the
sweet intoxication of power. Power! She knew she was using it now. She
knew she was exercising it on this man. And, for a second, the grasp of
the new weapon almost frightened her. For it was her first campaign. And
she had not yet reconnoitered the adversary or fully developed his
strength and position. Man, as an adversary, was still unknown to her.

"Karen?" he ventured, rather anxiously.

Instantly she lost a large portion of her fear of him. Oh! but she had a
long, long reckoning to settle yet with him. She cast a swift glance
backward, but already her girlhood was gone--gone with its simplicity,
its quaint perplexities, its dear ignorance, its pathos, its
helplessness before experience, its naïveté, its faith.

It had gone, slipped away, exhaled in a deep, unconscious sigh. And
suddenly she flushed hotly, remembering his lips. Truly, truly there was
a long reckoning still to come.... But there seemed to be no hurry.

Still leaning against the tree, she fumbled for her handkerchief,
touched her eyes with it leisurely, then, still turning her back to him,
she lifted her hands to her hair.

For a first campaign she was doing very well.

Her thick, burnished hair was not in any desperate disorder, but she
touched it here and there, patted, tucked, caressed it with light, swift
fingers, delicately precise as the exploring antennæ of a butterfly.

"Give me my answer, Karen," he urged, in a low voice, stepping nearer.
Instantly she moved lightly aside to avoid him--just a short step--her
back still turned, her hands framing her bright hair. Presently she
looked around with a slight laugh, which seemed to say: "Have you
noticed my new wings? If I choose to use them, I become unattainable.
Take care, my friend!"

The expression of her face checked him; her eyes were still starry from
tears. The dewy loveliness of them, the soft shyness born of knowledge,
the new charm of her left him silent and surprised. He had supposed that
she was rather low in her mind. Also he became aware that something
about her familiar to him had gone, that he was confronted by something
in her hitherto unsuspected and undetected--something subtly experienced
and unexpectedly mature. But that a new intelligence, made radiant by
the consciousness of power, had suddenly developed and enveloped this
young girl, and was now confronting him he did not comprehend at first.

And yet, in her attitude, in the poise of the small head, in the slight
laugh parting her lips, in every line of her supple figure, every
contour, every movement, he was aware of a surety, a self-confidence, a
sort of serene authority utterly unfamiliar to him in her personality.

Gone was the wistfulness, the simplicity, the indecision of immaturity,
the almost primitive candour that knows no art. Here was complexity
looking out of eyes he scarcely knew, baffling him with a beauty

"Karen--dear?" he said unsteadily, "have you nothing to say to me?"

There was laughter and curiosity in her eyes, and a hint of mockery.

"Yes," she said, "I have a great deal to say to you. In the first place
we must not be silly any more----"


She seemed surprised at his emphatic interruption.

"Yes, silly," she repeated serenely; "foolish, inconsequential. I admit
I made a goose of myself, but that is no excuse for you to do it, too.
You are older and more experienced and _so_ much wiser----"


"Yes?" she said innocently.

"What has happened to you?" he asked, disturbed and bewildered.

She opened her eyes at that:

"Nothing has happened, has it? Is my gown torn?"--bending over to survey
her skirt and waist--"Oh, I forgot that the famous robbery occurred
without violence----"

He reddened: "I don't understand you, Karen. Why do you fence this way
with me? Why do you speak this way to me? What has suddenly changed
you--totally altered you--altered your attitude toward me, your point of
view, your disposition--your very character apparently----"

"My character?" she repeated with a gay little laugh which seemed to him
irresponsible, and confused him exceedingly.

"No," he said, troubled, "that couldn't change so suddenly. But I never
before saw this side of your character. I didn't know it existed--never

"Speaking of dreams," she interrupted with calm irrelevance, "I never
told you that I finally did cross that frontier. Shall I tell you about
it while we are walking back?"

"If you choose," he said, almost sullenly.

"Don't you care to hear about my dream? As I made a pillow of you during
the process, I really think you are entitled to hear about it--" She
broke off with a quick, involuntary laugh: "Why do you look hurt,

At that he became serious to the verge of gloom.

"Come," she said sweetly, slipping her hand through his arm, "I want to
tell you how I crossed that wonderful frontier----"

"I told you," he said gravely, "that I love you. Am I not entitled to an

"Entitled, Kervyn? I don't know to how many things you are _en_-titled.
All I know is that you are titled--several times--aren't you?"

He reddened and bit his lip.

"Because," she went on gaily, "you served your time in the Guides. That
is a very natural deduction, isn't it?"

He said nothing; he was very seriously upset. His stern mouth and
darkened face betrayed it. And deep in Karen's heart the little imps of
laughter danced to its mischievous beating.

After they had walked through the forest for a while in silence, she
halted and withdrew her arm.

"You know," she said, "we are not nearly well enough acquainted for you
to be moody and unamiable."

"I did not mean to be either," he said. "What is it that has come
between us, Karen?"

"Why, nothing I hope," she said fervently.

"I hope so, too.... You have been different since--" He hesitated, and
she turned her head carelessly and looked back at the little brook they
had crossed. When her blush had cooled she resumed her leisurely walk
and glanced up at him inquiringly:

"Since _when_ have you thought me different?"

"Since we--_kissed_----"

"Please, Kervyn! Not _we_. I think it was you who performed that very
childish rite."

"Is that the way you regarded it?"

"Didn't you?"


"You didn't take it seriously!" she exclaimed with an enchanting laugh.
"Did you really? I'm so dreadfully sorry!"

The dark flush on his face frightened her. It was her first campaign and
she was easily alarmed. But she was wise enough to say nothing.

"Yes," he said with an effort, "I did take it very seriously. And I took
you seriously, too. I don't understand your new attitude toward
me--toward life itself. Until today I had never seen any lightness in
you, any mockery----"

"Lightness? You saw plenty in me. I was not very difficult, was I?--on
the train? Not very reticent about my views concerning friendship and my
fears concerning--love. Why should you be surprised at the frivolity of
such a girl? It has taken so many years for me to learn to laugh.
Nineteen, I think. Won't you let me laugh a little, now that I know

"Have I any influence at all with you?" he asked. "I thought I had."

"I thought so, too," she mused, innocently.

"What has happened to destroy it?"

"Why, nothing, Kervyn!" opening her eyes.

"Does any of my influence with you remain?"

"Loads of it. Oceans! Bushels!"

"Do you care for me?"

"Of course! The silly question."


"Yes, but I don't wish to weep because I care for you."

"Could you learn to love me?"

"Learn? I don't know," she mused aloud, apparently much interested in
the novelty of the suggestion. "I learn some things easily; mathematics
I never could learn. _Why_ are you scowling, Kervyn?"

"Could you ever love me?" he persisted, doggedly.

"I don't know. Do you desire to pay your court to me?"


"You appear to be uncertain. It seems to me that a man ought to know
whether or not he desires to pay his addresses to a girl."

"Can't you be serious, Karen!"

"Indeed I can. You ought to know it, too. I was serious enough over you,
once. I followed you about so faithfully and persistently that even when
you took a nap I did it too----"

"Karen, do you love me?"

"I don't know."

"Will you try?"

"I'm always willing to try anything--once."

"Then suppose you try marrying me, once!" he said, bluntly.

"But oughtn't a girl to be in love before she tries that? Besides,
before I am quite free to converse with you on that subject I must
converse with someone else."


"Had you forgotten?"

"Do you mean the----"

"Yes," she said hastily--"you _do_ remember. _That_ is a prior


"An engagement to converse on the subject of engagements. I told you
about it--in the days of my communicative innocence."

He was patient because he had to be.

"After you have made your answer clear to him, may I ask you again?"

"Ask me what?"

"To marry me."

"Wouldn't that permission depend upon what answer I may give _him_?"

"Good Heavens!" he exclaimed, "is there any doubt about your answer to

She lifted her eyebrows: "You are entirely too confident. Must I first
ask your permission to fulfill my obligations and then accomplish them
in a manner that suits your views? It sounds a little like dictation,

He walked beside her, cogitating in gloom and silence. Was this the girl
he had known? Was this the same ungrateful and capricious creature upon
whom he had bestowed his protection, his personal interest, his anxious

That he had fallen in love with her had surprised him, but it did not
apparently surprise her. Had she instinctively foreseen what was going
to happen to him? Had she deliberately watched the process with wise and
feminine curiosity, coolly keeping her own skirts clear?

And the more he cogitated, the deeper and more complex appeared to him
her intuitive and merciless knowledge of man.

Never had he beheld such lightning change in a woman. It couldn't be a
change; all this calm self-possession, all the cool badinage, all this
gaiety, this laughing malice, this serene capacity for appraising man
and his motives must have existed in her--hidden, not latent; concealed,
not embryotic!

He was illogical and perfectly masculine.

She was only a young girl, awakened, and making her first campaign.

                             CHAPTER XVIII

                              LESSE FOREST

As they came out of the forest and crossed the grassy circle where the
fountain was splashing they saw an automobile standing in the drive by
the front door.

"What does that mean?" exclaimed Guild, under his breath.

Both had halted, checked by the same impulse.

"Is it likely to be Baron von Reiter?" he asked, coldly.

She said, with admirable composure: "Whoever it is, we shall have to go

"Yes, of course.... But if it happens to be the Baron----"

"Well?" she asked, looking away from him.

"In that event, have you nothing to say to me--_now_?"

"Not now."

"Haven't you, Karen?"

She shook her head, gazing steadily away from him.

"All right," he said, controlling his voice; "then I can make my adieux
to you indoors as well as here."

"Are you leaving immediately?"

"Yes. I should have left this morning."

After a moment's silence: "Shall I hear from you?"

"Have I your permission to write--if I can do so?"

"I don't know yet. I shall write you first. Are you to be at Lesse
Forest for a few days?"

"Yes. A note will reach me in care of Mrs. Courland."

Her pretty head was still averted. "We ought to go in now," she said.

Guild glanced sharply at the car as they passed it, and the chauffeur
touched his cap to them. It was a big, dark blue, three-seated touring
car, and there seemed to be nothing at all military in its appointments
or in the chauffeur's livery.

He opened the front door for Karen, and they walked into the hall

A man rose quickly from a leather chair, as though he were a little
lame. "Hello, Kervyn!" he said gaily, advancing with hand extended. "How
are you, old top!"

"Harry!" exclaimed Guild; "I'm terribly glad to see you!"

They stood for a moment smiling at each other, hand clasped in hand.
Then Darrel said:

"When your note came this morning, we decided to motor over, Miss
Courland and I--" He turned toward a brown-eyed, blond young girl:
"Valentine, this is the celebrated vanishing man I've been worrying over
so long. You may not think he is worth worrying over, now that you see
him, and maybe he isn't; but somehow or other I like him."

Miss Courland laughed. "I think I shall like him, too," she said, "now
that I know he isn't merely a figment of your imagination--" She turned
her brown eyes, pleasantly and a trifle curiously, toward Karen, who had
paused beside the long table--a lithe and graceful figure in silhouette
against the brilliancy of the sun-lit doorway.

"Karen," said Guild, "this is Miss Courland who extends her own and Mrs.
Courland's charity to me--" He checked himself, smiling. "_Do_ you still
extend it, Miss Courland?"

Valentine had come forward and had offered her hand to Karen, and
retaining it for a second, she turned to answer Guild:

"Of course! We came to take you back with us." And, to Karen: "It
isn't a very gracious thing for us to do--to steal a guest from
Quellenheim--and I am afraid you do not feel very grateful toward me for
doing it."

Their hands parted and their eyes rested on each other for a second's
swift feminine appraisal.

"Baron von Reiter has not yet arrived," said Karen, "so I do not think
Mr. Guild has had a very interesting visit. I feel as though I ought to
thank you for asking him to Lesse."

Guild, who was talking to Darrel, heard her, and gave her a rather grim

Then he presented Darrel; and the light, gossipy conversation became

With one ear on duty and one listening to Darrel, Guild heard Karen
giving to Valentine a carelessly humorous outline of her journey from
England--caught the little exclamations of interest and sympathy from
the pretty brown-eyed American girl, and still was able to sketch for
Darrel the same theme from his own more sober point of view.

Neither he nor Karen, of course, spoke of the reason for Guild's going
to England, nor that the journey had been undertaken on compulsion, nor,
indeed, did they hint at anything concerning the more sinister and
personal side of the affair. It merely appeared that a German general,
presumably a friend of Guild, not being able to get his daughter out of
England after hostilities had commenced, had confided the task to a man
he trusted and who was able to go unquestioned into a country at war
with his own. But it all seemed quite romantic enough, even under such
circumstances, to thrill Valentine Courland.

"Do come back to Lesse with us, won't you?" she asked Karen. "My mother
and I would love to have you. You'd be bored to distraction here with
only the housekeeper. Do come!"

"I haven't any clothes," said Karen frankly.

"I have loads of them! We'd be so glad to have you at Lesse. Won't you
come back with us?"

Karen laughed, enchanted. She could see Guild without looking at him.
His attitude was eloquent.

"If you really do want me, I'll come," she said. "But you and Mr. Darrel
will remain to luncheon, won't you? I'll speak to the Frau Förster--if I
may be excused--" She fell for a moment again, unconsciously, into her
quaint schoolgirl manner, and dropped them a little curtsey.

Guild opened the pantry door for her and held it.

"May I explain to them a little more clearly who you are, Karen?" he
asked in a low voice.

"Yes, please."

He came back into the hall where Miss Courland and Darrel were talking.
Valentine turned swiftly.

"Isn't she the sweetest thing!" exclaimed the girl warmly.

"She is really very wonderful," said Guild; "let me tell you a little
about her accomplishments and herself."

They were still listening to Guild, with an interest which absorbed
them, when Karen returned.

"The few clothes I have," she said, "are being repacked by Frau Bergner.
Kervyn, shall she repack your sack?"

"No, I'll do that," he said, turning away with the happiest face he had
worn that morning. And the girl knew that it was because they were going
away together again--taking life's highway once more in each other's
company. Involuntarily she looked after him, conscious for a second,
again, of new and powerful motives, new currents, new emotions invading
her; and she wondered how vitally they concerned this man who had so
suddenly destroyed a familiar world for her and as suddenly was offering
her as substitute a new and strange one.

Emerging from her brief abstraction she looked across the hall at
Valentine Courland, who, seated on the oak table, chatted animatedly
with Darrel. The girl was exceedingly attractive; Karen realized that at
once. Also this pretty American had said very frankly that she was
certain to like Guild. Karen had heard her say it.

"Miss Girard," said Darrel, "is the shooting good at Quellenheim? I
imagine it must be, judging from these trophies." He waved a
comprehensive hand toward the walls of the room.

Karen came slowly over to Valentine: "I really don't know much about
shooting. There are boar and deer here. I suppose at Lesse Forest you
have really excellent sport, don't you?"

"Our guests seem to find the shooting good," replied Valentine. "My
mother and I go out with them sometimes. I don't know whether we shall
be able to offer anybody any shooting this autumn. We are exceedingly
worried about Lesse Forest. You see, every autumn we renew the lease,
but our lease expired last week, and we can't renew it because nobody
seems to know where our landlord is or where to find him."

"Is your landlord Belgian?"

"Yes. He is a wealthy brewer at Wiltz-la-Vallée. And the Germans
bombarded and burnt it--everything is in ruins and the people fled or
dead. So we are really very much concerned about the possible fate of
our landlord, Monsieur Paillard, and we don't exactly know what to do."

Guild returned, coming downstairs two at a time, his attractive features
very youthful and animated. And Karen, discreetly observing him and his
buoyant demeanour, felt a swift and delightful confusion in the
knowledge of her power to make or unmake the happiness of a grown man.

Frau Bergner appeared with cloth and covers, beaming, curtseying to all;
and very soon they were at luncheon--a simple but perfectly cooked
luncheon, where everything was delectable and there did not seem to be
very much of any particular variety, yet there was just a trifle more
than enough for everybody. Which is the real triumph of a good German,
French, or Belgian housekeeper's calculations.

And when luncheon was ended the luggage already had been placed in the
car; the chauffeur emerged from the kitchen where Frau Bergner had been
generous to him; and in a few moments the big blue machine was whirring
smoothly on its way to Lesse, through the beautiful Ardennes forests
over smooth, well-cared-for roads, the sun shining in a cloudless sky,
and four young people making rapid headway in a new acquaintanceship
which seemed to promise everything agreeable and gay.

At the huge, moss-grown gate-posts of Lesse a forester lifted his grey
felt hat and opened the gates; and around the first curve appeared the
celebrated and beautiful old lodge of weather-stained stone and slate,
the narrow terrace blazing with geraniums and scarlet sage.

Guild noticed a slender, red-haired girl seated on the steps, knitting,
with a heap of dark-blue wool in her lap; but when the car drew up,
Valentine Courland addressed her as "mother"--to the intense surprise of
Karen as well as of himself, for Mrs. Courland seemed scarce older than
her own daughter, and quite as youthfully attractive.

She welcomed Karen with a sweet directness of manner which won the girl
instantly; and her manner to Guild was no less charming--an older
woman's delightful recognition of a young man's admiration, and a
smiling concession to this young man's youth and good looks.

When Valentine mentioned Karen's plight in the matter of wardrobe, her
mother laughed gaily and, slipping one arm around Karen's waist, took
her off into the house.

"We shall remedy that immediately," she said. "Come and see what suits
you best."

"As for you," said Darrel to Guild, "your luggage is in your room. I
suppose you are glad of that."

"Rather," said Guild with such intense feeling that Valentine Courland
laughed outright.

"Take him to his beloved luggage," she said to Darrel; "I had no idea he
was so vain. You know the room, don't you? It is next to your own."

"Harry, why are you limping?" asked Valentine as Darrel rose to go.

"I'm not."

"You are. Why?"

"Rum. I drink too much of it," he explained seriously.

So the young men went away together; and presently Guild was flinging
from him the same worn clothing which, at one terrible moment, seemed
destined to become his shroud: and Darrel sat on the bed and gave him an
outline of the life at Lesse Forest and of the two American women who
lived there.

"Courland loved the place," said Darrel, "and for many years until his
death he spent the summers here with his wife and daughter.

"That's why they continue to come. The place is part of their life. But
I don't know what they'll do now. Monsieur Paillard, their landlord,
hasn't been heard of since the Germans bombarded and burnt
Wiltz-la-Vallée. Whether poor Paillard got knocked on the head by a
rifle-butt or a 41-centimetre shell, or whether he was lined up against
some garden wall with the other poor devils when the Prussian
firing-squads sickened and they had to turn the machine-guns on the
prisoners, nobody seems to know.

"Wiltz-la-Vallée is nothing but an ill-smelling heap of rubbish. The
whole country is in a horrible condition. You know a rotting cabbage or
beet or turnip field emits a bad enough smell. Add to that the stench
from an entire dead and decomposing community of three thousand people!
Oh yes, they dug offal trenches, but they weren't deep enough. And
besides there was enough else lying dead under the blackened bricks and
rafters to poison the atmosphere of a whole country. It's a ghastly
thing what they've done to Belgium!"

Guild went to his modern bathroom to bathe, but left the door open.

"Go on, Harry," he said.

"Well, that's about all," continued Darrel. "The Germans left death and
filth behind them. Not only what the hands of man erected is in ruins,
but the very face of the earth itself is mangled out of all recognition.
They tore Nature herself to pieces, stamped her features out,
obliterated her very body! You ought to see some of the country! I don't
mean where towns or solitary farms were. I mean the _land_, the
_landscape_!--all full of slimy pits from their shells, cut in every
direction by their noisome trenches, miles and miles of roadside trees
shot to splinters, woodlands burnt to ashes, forests torn to
slivers--one vast, distorted and abominable desolation."

Guild had reappeared, and was dressing.

"They didn't ransack the Grand Duchy," continued Darrel, "although I
heard that the Grand Duchess blocked their road with her own automobile
and faced the invaders until they pushed her aside with scant ceremony.
If she did that she's as plucky as she is pretty. That's the story,

"Have the Germans bothered you here?" asked Guild, buttoning a fresh

"Not any to speak of. Of course they don't care anything about the
frontier; they'd violate it in a minute. And I've been rather worried
because a lot of these Luxembourg peasants, particularly the woodsmen
and forest dwellers, are Belgians, or are in full sympathy with them.
And I'm afraid they'll do something that will bring the Germans to Lesse

"You mean some sort of franc-tireur business?"

"Yes, I mean just that."

"The Germans shoot franc-tireurs without court-martial."

"I know it. And there has been sniping across the border, everywhere,
even since the destruction of Wiltz-la-Vallée. I expect there'll be
mischief here sooner or later."

Guild, tall, broad-shouldered, erect, stood by the window looking out
between the gently blowing sash-curtains, and fastening his waistcoat.

And, standing so, he said: "Harry, this is no place for Mrs. Courland
and her daughter. They ought to go to Luxembourg City, or across the
line into Holland. As a matter of fact they really ought to go back to

"I think so too," nodded Darrell. "I think we may persuade them to come
back with us."

Without looking at his business partner and friend, Guild said: "I am
not going back with you."


"I can't. But you must go--rather soon, too. And you must try to
persuade the Courlands to go with you."

"What are you planning to do?" demanded Darrel with the irritable
impatience of a man who already has answered his own question.

"You can guess, I suppose?"

"Yes, dammit!--I can! I've been afraid you'd do some such fool thing.
And I ask you, Kervyn, as a sane, sensible Yankee business man, _is_ it
necessary for you to gallop into this miserable free fight and wallow in
it up to your neck? Is it? Is it necessary to propitiate your bally
ancestors by pulling a gun on the Kaiser and striking an attitude?"

Guild laughed. "I'm afraid it's a matter of propitiating my own
conscience, Harry. I'm afraid I'll have to strike an attitude and pull
that gun."

"To the glory of the Gold Book and the Counts of Gueldres! _I_ know!
You're very quiet about such things, but I knew it was inside you all
the time. Confound it! I was that worried by your letter to me! I
thought you'd already done something and had been caught."

"I hadn't been doing anything, but I _had_ been caught."

"I knew it!"

"Naturally; or I shouldn't have written you a one-act melodrama instead
of a letter.... Did you destroy the letter to my mother?"

"Yes, I did."

"That was right. I'll tell you about it some time. And now, before we go
down, this is for your own instruction: I am going to try to get into
touch with the Belgian army. How to do it I don't see very clearly,
because there are some two million Germans between me and it. But that's
what I shall try to do, Harry. So, during the day or two I remain here,
persuade your friends, the Courlands, of the very real danger they run
in remaining at Lesse. Because any of these peasants at any moment are
likely to sally forth Uhlan sniping. And you know what German reprisals

"Yes," said Darrel uneasily. He added with a boyish blush: "I'm rather
frightfully fond of Valentine Courland, too."

"Then talk to the Courlands. Something serious evidently has happened to
their landlord. If he made himself personally obnoxious to the soldiery
which destroyed Wiltz-la-Vallée, a detachment might be sent here anyway
to destroy Lesse Lodge. You can't tell what the Teutonic military mind
is hatching. I was playing chess when they were arranging a shooting
party in my honour. Come on downstairs."

"Yes, in a minute. Kervyn, I don't believe you quite got me--about
Valentine Courland."

Guild looked around at him curiously.

"Is it the real thing, Harry?"

"Rather. With _me_, I mean."

"You're in _love_?"

"Rather! But Valentine raises the deuce with me. She won't listen,
Kervyn. She sits on sentiment. She guys me. I don't think she likes
anybody else, but I'm dead sure she doesn't care for me--that way."

Guild studied the pattern on the rug at his feet. After a while he said:
"When a man's in love he doesn't seem to know it until it's too late."

"Rot! I knew it right away. Last winter when the Courlands were in New
York I knew I was falling in love with her. It hurt, too, I can tell
you. Why, Kervyn, after they sailed it hurt me so that I couldn't think
of anything. I didn't eat properly. A man like you can't realize how it
hurts to love a girl. But it's one incessant, omnipresent, and devilish
gnawing--a sensation of emptiness indescribable filled with loud and
irregular heart-throbs--a happy agony, a precious pain----"


"What?" asked that young man, startled.

"Do you realize you are almost shouting?"

"Was I? Well, I'm almost totally unbalanced and I don't know how long I
can stand the treatment I'm getting. I've told her mother, and she
laughs at me, too. But I honestly think she likes me. What would you do,
Kervyn, if you cared for a girl and you couldn't induce her to converse
on the subject?"

Guild's features grew flushed and sombre. "I haven't the faintest idea
what a man should do," he said. "The dignified thing would be for a man
to drop the matter."

"I know. I've dropped it a hundred times a week. But she seems to be
glad of it. And I can't endure that. So I re-open the subject, and she
re-closes it and sits on the lid. I tell you, Kervyn, it's amounting to
a living nightmare with me. I am so filled with tenderness and sentiment
that I can't digest it unaided by the milk of human kindness----"

"Do you talk this way to her?" asked Guild, laughing. "If you compare
unrequited love to acute indigestion no girl on earth is going to listen
to you."

"I have to use some flights of imagination," said Darrel, sulkily. "A
girl likes to hear anything when it's all dolled out with figures of
speech. What the deuce are you laughing at? All right! Wait until you
fall in love yourself. But you won't have time now; you'll enlist in
some fool regiment and get your bally head knocked off! I thought I had
troubles enough with Valentine, and now this business begins!"

He got up slowly, as though very lame.

"It's very terrible to me," he said, "to know that you feel bound to go
into this mix-up. I was afraid of it as soon as I heard that war had
been declared. It's been worrying me every minute since. But I suppose
it's quite useless to argue with you?"

"Quite," said Guild pleasantly. "What's the matter with your leg?"

"Barked the shin. Listen! Is there any use reasoning with you?"

"No, Harry."

"Well, then," exclaimed Darrel in an irate voice, "I'll tell you frankly
that you and your noble ancestors give me a horrible pain! I'm full of
all kinds of pain and I'm sick of it!"

Guild threw back his blond head and laughed out-right--a clear,
untroubled laugh that rang pleasantly through the ancient hall they were

As they came out on the terrace where the ladies sat in the sun
knitting, Valentine looked around at Guild.

"What a delightfully infectious laugh you have," she said. "Was it a
very funny story? I can scarcely believe Mr. Darrel told it."

"But he did," said Guild, seating himself beside her on the edge of the
stone terrace and glancing curiously at Karen, who wore a light gown and
was looking distractingly pretty.

"Such an unpleasant thing has occurred," said Mrs. Courland in her
quiet, gentle voice, turning to Darrel. "Our herdsman has just come in
to tell Michaud that early this morning a body of German cavalry rode
into the hill pastures and drove off the entire herd of cattle and the
flock of sheep belonging to Monsieur Paillard."

There was a moment's silence; Darrel glanced at Guild, saying: "Was
there any explanation offered for the requisition?--any indemnity?"

"Nothing, apparently. Schultz, the herdsman, told Michaud that an Uhlan
officer asked him if the cattle and sheep did not belong to the Paillard
estate at Lesse. That was all. And the shepherd, Jean Pascal, tried to
argue with the troopers about his sheep, but a cavalryman menaced him
with his lance. The poor fellow is out in the winter fold, weeping like
Bo-Peep, and Schultz is using very excited language. All our forest
guards and wood-choppers are there. Michaud has gone to Trois Fontaines.
They all seem so excited that it has begun to disturb me a little."

"You see," said Valentine to Guild, "our hill pastures are almost on the
frontier. We have been afraid they'd take our cattle."

He nodded.

"Do you suppose anything can be done about it?" asked Mrs. Courland. "I
feel dreadfully that such a thing should happen at Lesse while we are in

"May I talk with your head gamekeeper?" asked Guild.

"Yes, indeed, if you will. He ought to return from Trois Fontaines
before dark."

"I'll talk to him," said Guild briefly. Then his serious face cleared
and he assumed a cheerfulness of manner totally at variance with his own
secret convictions.

"Troops have got to eat," he said. "They're likely to do this sort of
thing. But the policy of the Germans, when they make requisition for
anything, seems to be to pay for it with vouchers of one sort or
another. They are not robbers when unmolested, but they are devils when
interfered with. Most troops are."

The conversation became general; Darrel, sitting between Karen and Mrs.
Courland, became exceedingly entertaining, to judge from Karen's quick
laughter and the more subdued amusement of Katharyn Courland.

Darrel was explaining his lameness.

But the trouble with Darrel was that his modesty inclined him to be
humorous at his own expense. Few women care for unattractive modesty;
few endure it, none adores it. He was too modest to be attractive.

"I was sauntering along," he said, "minding my own business, when I came
face to face with a wild boar. He was grey, and he was far bigger than I
ever again desire to see. Before I could recover my breath his eyes got
red and he began to make castanette music with his tusks, fox-trot time.
And do you know what happened--in _your_ forest, Mrs. Courland? I went
up a tree, and I barked my shin in doing it. If you call that
hospitality, my notions on the subject are all wrong."

"Didn't you have a gun?" asked Karen.

"I did. I admit it without a blush."

"Why didn't you use it?" asked Mrs. Courland.

"Use it? How? A gun doesn't help a man to climb a tree. It is in the
way. I shall carry no more guns in your forest. A light extension ladder
is all I require. And a book to pass away the time when treed."

They all laughed. "Really," asked Guild curiously, "why didn't you

"First of all," said Darrel serenely, "I do not know how to fire off a
gun. Do you want any further reasons?"

"You looked so picturesque," said Valentine scornfully, "I never dreamed
you were such a dub! And you don't seem to care, either."

"I don't. I like to catch little fish. But my ferocity ends there.
Kervyn, shall we try the trout for an hour this afternoon?"

Valentine turned up her dainty nose. "I shall take Mr. Guild myself.
You'd better find a gamekeeper who'll teach you how to shoot off a gun."
And, to Guild: "I'll take you now if you like. It's only a little way to
the Silverwiltz. Shall I get a rod and fly-book for you?"

Karen, watching her, saw the frank challenge in her pretty brown eyes,
saw Guild's swift response to that gay defiance. It was only the light,
irresponsible encounter of two young people who had liked each other at
sight and who had already established a frank understanding.

So Valentine went into the house and returned presently switching a
light fly-rod and a cast of flies; and Guild walked over and joined her.

To Karen he looked very tall and sunburned, and unfamiliar in his
blue-serge lounging clothes--very perfectly groomed, very severe, and
unapproachable; and so much older, so much more mature, so much wiser
than she had thought him.

And, as her eyes followed him from where she was seated among the
terrace flowers, she realized more than ever that she did not know what
to say to him, what to do with him, or how to answer such a man.

Her face grew very serious; she was becoming more deeply impressed with
the seriousness of what he had asked of her; of her own responsibility.
And yet, as far as love was concerned, she could find no answer for him.
Friendship, swift, devoted, almost passionate, she had given him--a
friendship which had withstood the hard shocks of anger and distrust,
and the more bewildering shock of his kiss.

She still cared for him, relied on him; wished for his companionship.
But, beyond that, what had happened, followed by his sudden demand, had
startled and confused her, and, so far, she did not know whether it was
in her to respond. Love loomed before her, mighty and unknown, and the
solemnity of its pledges and of its overwhelming obligations had assumed
proportions which awed her nineteen years.

In her heart always had towered a very lofty monument to the sacredness
of love, fearsomely chaste, flameless, majestic. So pure, so immaculate
was this solemn and supreme edifice she had already builded that the
moment's thrill in his arms had seemed to violate it. For the girl had
always believed a kiss to be in itself part of that vague, indefinite
miracle of supreme surrender. And the knowledge and guilt of it still
flushed her cheeks at intervals and meddled with her heart.

She had forgiven, had tried to readjust herself before her mystic altar.
There was nothing else to do. And the awakened woman in her aided her
and taught her, inspiring, exciting her with a knowledge new to her, the
knowledge of her power.

Then, as she sat there looking at this man and at the brown-eyed girl
beside him, suddenly she experienced a subtle sense of fear: fear of
what? She did not know, did not ask herself. Not even the apprehension,
the dread of parting with him had made her afraid; not even the
certainty that he was going to join his regiment had aroused in her more
than a sense of impending loneliness.

But something was waking it now--something that pierced her through and
through: and she caught her breath sharply, like a child who has been

For the first time in her life the sense of possession had been aroused
in her, and with it the subtle instinct to defend what was her own.

She looked very intensely at the brown eyes of the young girl who stood
laughing and gossiping there with the man she did not know how to
answer--the man with whom she did not know what to do. But every
instinct in her was alert to place upon this man the unmistakable sign
of ownership. He was hers, no matter what she might do with him.

To Darrel, trying to converse with her, she replied smilingly,
mechanically; but her small ears were ringing with the gay laughter of
Valentine and the quick, smiling responses of Guild as they stood with
their heads together over the contents of the fly-book, consulting,
advising, and selecting the most likely and murderous lures.

Neither of them glanced in her direction; apparently they were most
happily absorbed in this brand new friendship of theirs.

Very slowly and thoughtfully Karen's small head sank; and she sat gazing
at the brilliant masses of salvia bloom clustering at her feet, silent,
overwhelmed under the tremendous knowledge of what had come upon her
here in the sunshine of a cloudless sky.

"Au revoir!" called back Valentine airily; "we shall return before dusk
with a dozen very large trout!"

Guild turned to make his adieux, hat in hand; caught Karen's eye, nodded
pleasantly, and walked away across the lawn, with Valentine close beside
him, still discussing and fussing over the cast they had chosen for the
trout's undoing.

                              CHAPTER XIX

                                THE LIAR

The lamps had not yet been lighted in the big, comfortable living-room
and late sunlight striped wall and ceiling with rose where Karen sat
sewing, and Darrel, curled up in a vast armchair, frowned over a book.
And well he might, for it was a treatise on German art.

His patience arriving at the vanishing point he started to hurl the book
from him, then remembering that it was not his to hurl, slapped it shut.

Which caused Karen to lift her deep violet eyes inquiringly.

"Teutonic Kultur! I've got its number," he said. Which observation
conveyed no meaning to Karen.

"German art," he explained. "It used to be merely ample, adipose, and
indigestible. Now the moderns have made it sinister and unclean. The
ham-fist has become the mailed fist; the fat and trickling source of
Teutonic inspiration has become polluted. There is no decadence more
hideous than the brain cancer of a Hercules."

Karen followed him with intelligent interest. She said with hesitation:
"The moderns, I think, are wandering outside immutable boundaries.
Frontiers are eternal. If any mind believes the inclosed territory
exhausted, there is nothing further to be found outside in the waste
places--only chaos. And the mind must shift to another and totally
different pasture--which also has its boundaries eternal and fixed."

"Right!" exclaimed Darrel. "No sculptor can find for sculpture any new
mode of expression beyond the limits of the materials which have always
existed; no painter can wander outside the range of black and white, or
beyond the surface allotted him; the composer can express himself in
music only within the limits of the audible scale; the writer is a
prisoner to grammatical expression, walled always within the margins of
the printed page. Outside, as you say, lies chaos, possibly madness. The
moderns are roaming there. And some of them are announcing the discovery
of German Kultur where they have barked their mental shins in outer

Karen smiled. "It is that way in music I think. The dissonance of mental
disturbance warns sanity in almost every bar of modern music. It is that
which is so appalling to me, Mr. Darrel--that in some modernism is
visible and audible more and more the menace of mental and moral
disintegration. And the wholesome shrink from it."

Darrel said: "Three insane 'thinkers' have led Germany to the brink
where she now stands swaying. God help her, in the end, to
convalescence--" he stared at the fading sunbeams on the wall, and
staring, quoted:

  "'_Over broken oaths and
  Through a sea of blood._'"

He looked up. "I'm sorry: I forget you are German."

"I forget that I am supposed to be, too.... But you have not offended
me. I know war is senseless. I know that war will not always be the
method used to settle disputes. There will be great changes beginning
very soon in the world, I think."

"I believe so, too. It will begin by a recognition of the rights of
smaller nations to self-government. It will be an area of respect for
the weak. Government by consent is not enough; it must become government
by request. And the scriptures shall remain no more sacred than the
tiniest 'scrap of paper' in the archives of the numerically smallest
independent community on earth.

"The era of physical vastness, of spheres of influence, of scope is
dying. The supreme wickedness of the world is Force. That must end for
nations and for men. Only one conflict remains inevitable and eternal;
the battle of minds, which can have no end."

For an American and an operator in real estate, Darrel's philosophy was
harmlessly respectable if not very new. But he thought it both new and
original, which pleased him intensely.

As for Karen, she had been thinking of Guild for the last few minutes.
Her sewing lay in her lap, her dark, curly head rested in the depths of
her arm-chair. Sunlight had almost faded on the wall.

Through the window she could see the trees. The golden-green depths of
the beech-wood were growing dusky. Against the terrace masses of salvia
and geraniums glowed like coals on fire. The brown-eyed girl had been
away with him a long while.

Mrs. Courland came in, looking more youthful and pretty than ever, and
seated herself with her knitting. The very last ray from the sinking sun
fell on her ruddy hair.

"Think you are right, Harry," she said quietly to Darrel. "I think we
will sail when you do. The men on the place are becoming very much
excited over this Uhlan raid on the cattle. I could hear them from my
bedroom window out by the winter fold, and they were talking loudly as
well as recklessly."

"There's no telling what these forest people may do," admitted Darrel.
"I am immensely relieved to know that you and Valentine are to sail when
I do. As for Kervyn Guild--" he made a hopeless gesture--"his mind is
made up and that always settles it with him."

"He won't return with you?"

"No. He's joining the Belgians."


"Yes. You see his people were Belgian some generations back. It's a
matter of honour with him and argument is wasted. But it hits me pretty

"I can understand. He is a most delightful man."

"He is as straight and square as he is delightful. His mother is
charming; his younger brother is everything you'd expect him to be after
knowing Kervyn. Theirs is a very united family, but, do you know I am as
certain as I am of anything that his mother absolutely approves of what
he is about to do. She is that sort. It may kill her, but she'll die

Mrs. Courland's serious, sweet eyes rested on him, solemn with sympathy
for the mother she had never met.

"The horrid thing about it all," continued Darrel, "is that Kervyn is
one man in a million;--and in a more terrible sense that is all he can
be in this frightful and endless slaughter which they no longer even
pretend to call one battle or many.

"He's a drop in an ocean, only another cipher in the trenches where
hell's hail rains day and night, day and night, beating out lives
without distinction, without the intelligence of choice--just raining,
raining, and beating out life!... I can scarcely endure the thought of
Kervyn ending that way--such a man--my friend----"

His voice seemed hoarse and he got up abruptly and walked to the window.

Ashes of roses lingered in the west; the forest was calm; not a leaf
stirred in the lilac-tinted dusk.

Karen, who had been listening, stirred in the depths of her chair and
clasped her fingers over her sewing.

Mrs. Courland said quietly:

"It is pleasant for any woman to have known such a man as Mr. Guild."

"Yes," said Karen.

"If the charm of his personality so impresses us who have known him only
a very little while, I am thinking what those who are near and dear to
him must feel."

"I, too," said Karen, faintly.

"Yet she loves him best who would not have it otherwise it seems."

"Yes; he must go," said Karen. "Some could not have it--otherwise."

A man came to light the lamps. And a little while after they were
lighted Mrs. Courland quietly looked up from her knitting. One swift,
clear glance she gave; saw in the young girl's eyes what she had already
divined must be there. Then bent again above her ivory needles. After a
while she sighed, very lightly.

"They're late," remarked Darrel from the window.

"They are probably strolling up the drive; Valentine knows enough not to
get lost," said her mother.

After a few moments Karen said: "Would my playing disturb you?"

"No, dear. Please!"

So Karen rose and walked to the piano. Presently Darrel turned and
seated himself to listen to the deathless sanity of Beethoven flowing
from the keys under a young girl's slender fingers.

She was still seated there when Valentine came in, and turned her head
from the keyboard, stilling the soft chords.

"We had such a good time," said Valentine. "We caught half a dozen
trout, and then I took him to the Pulpit where we sat down and remained
very quiet; and just at sunset three boar came out to feed on the oak
mast; and he said that one of them was worth shooting!"

"You evidently _have_ had a good time," said Darrel, smiling. "What
happened to Guild. Did the boar tree _him_?"

"I think he'd be more likely to tree the boar," remarked the girl. And
to her mother she said: "He went on toward the winter fold to talk to
Michaud who has just returned from Trois Fontaines. There were a lot of
men there, ours and a number of strangers. So I left him to talk to
Michaud. What have you all been doing this afternoon?" turning to Karen,
and from her, involuntarily to Darrel.

"Miss Girard and I have conversed philosophically and satisfactorily
concerning everything on earth," he said. "I wish my conversations with
you were half as satisfactory."

Valentine laughed, but there was a slight flush on her cheeks, and again
she glanced at Karen, whose lovely profile only was visible where she
bent in silence above the keyboard.

"Your mother," remarked Darrel, "has decided to sail with me. Would you
condescend to join us, Valentine?"

"Mother, are you really going back when Harry sails?"

"Yes. I don't quite like the attitude of the men here. And Harry thinks
there is very likely to be trouble between them and the Germans across
the border."

The girl looked thoughtfully at her mother, then at Darrel, rather

"Mother," she said, "I think it is a good idea to get Harry out of the
country. He is very bad-tempered, and if the Germans come here and are
impudent to us he'll certainly get himself shot!"

"I! I haven't the courage of a caterpillar!" protested Darrel.

"You're the worst fibber in the Ardennes! You _did_ kill that grey boar
this morning! What do you mean by telling us that you went up a tree!
Maxl, the garde-de-chasse at the Silverwiltz gate, heard your shot and
came up. And you told him to dress the boar and send a cart for it.
Which he did!--you senseless prevaricator!"

"Oh, my!" said Darrel meekly.

"And you're wearing a bandage below your knee where the boar bit you
when you gave him the coup-de-grâce! Maxl washed and bound it for you!
What a liar you are, Harry! Does it hurt?"

"To be a liar?"

"No! where you were tusked?"

"Maxl was stringing you, fair maid," he said lightly.

"He wasn't! You walk lame!"

"Laziness and gout account for that débutante slouch of mine. But of
course if you care to hold my hand----"

The girl looked at him, vexed, yet laughing:

"I don't _want_ people who do not know you to think you really are the
dub you pretend to be! Do you wish Miss Girard to believe it?"

"Truth is mighty and must----"

"I know more about you than you think I do, Harry. Mr. Guild portrayed
for me a few instances of your 'mouse'-like courage. And I don't wish
you to lose your temper and be shot if the Uhlans ride into Lesse and
insult us all! Therefore I approve of our sailing for home. And the
sooner the better!"

"You frighten me," he said; "I think I'll ask Jean to pack my things
now." And he got up, limping, and started for the door.

"Mother," she said, "that boar's tusks may poison him. Won't you make
him let us bandage it properly?"

"I think you had better, Harry," said Mrs. Courland, rising.

"Oh, no; it's all right----"

"Harry!" That was all Valentine said. But he stopped short.

"Take his other arm, mother," said the girl with decision.

She looked over her shoulder at Karen; the two young girls exchanged a
smile; then Valentine marched off with her colossal liar.

                               CHAPTER XX

                             BEFORE DINNER

Michaud, head forester, had taken off his grey felt hat respectfully
when Valentine introduced him to Guild, there in the lantern light of
the winter sheep fold. A dozen or more men standing near by in shadowy
groups had silently uncovered at the same time. Two wise-looking sheep
dogs, squatted on their haunches, looked at him.

Then the girl had left Guild there and returned to the house.

"I should like to have a few moments quiet conversation with you," said
Guild; and the stalwart, white-haired forester stepped quietly aside
with him, following the younger man until they were out of earshot of
those gathered by the barred gate of the fold.

"You are Belgian?" inquired Guild pleasantly.

"_De Trois Fontaines, monsieur._"

It was a characteristic reply. A Belgian does not call himself a
Belgian. Always he designates his nationality by naming his
birthplace--as though the world must know that it is in Belgium.

"And those people over there by the sheep fold?" asked Guild.

"Our men--some of them--from Ixl, from the Black Erenz and the White,
from Lesse--one from Liège. And there is one, a stranger."

"From where?"


"Has he any political opinions?"

"He says his heart is with us. It is mostly that way in Moresnet."

"In Moresnet ten per cent of the people are Germans in sympathy,"
remarked Guild. "What is this man? A miner?"

"A charcoal burner."

"Does he seem honest?"

"Yes, Monsieur," said the honest forester, simply.

Guild laid one hand on the man's broad shoulder:

"Michaud," he said quietly, "I know I am among friends if you say I am.
I mean friends to Belgium."

The dark eyes of the tall forester seemed to emit a sudden sparkle in
the dusk.

"Monsieur is American?"

"Yes. My grandfather was Belgian."

"Monsieur is a friend?"

"Michaud, my name, in America is Guild. My name in Belgian is Kervyn
Gueldres. Judge, then, whether I am a friend to your country and your

"Gueldres!" whispered the forester, rigid. "Kervyn of Gueldres, Comte
d'Yvoir, Hastiere----"

"It is so written on the rolls of the Guides."

"Monsieur le Comte has served!"

"Two years with the colours. I am here to report for duty. Do you feel
safe to trust me now, Michaud, my friend?"

The tall, straight forester uncovered. "Trust a Gueldres! My God!"

"Put on your hat," said Guild, bluntly, "I am American when I deal with

"Monsieur le Comte----"

"'Monsieur' will do. Give me your hand! That is as it should be. We
understand each other I think. Now tell me very clearly exactly what
happened this morning on the hill meadows of the Paillard estate."

"Monsieur le----"

"Please remember!"

"Pardon! Monsieur Guild, the Grey Uhlans rode over the border and
laughed at the gendarme on duty. Straight they made for our hill
meadows, riding at ease and putting their horses to the hedges. Schultz,
our herdsman, saw them trotting like wolves of the Black Erenz, ran to
the wooden fence to close the gate, but their lances rattling on the
pickets frightened him.

"They herded the cattle while their officers sat looking on by the
summer fold.

"'Do not these cattle and sheep belong to the Paillard estate?' asks one
of the officers of Schultz. And, 'Very well then!' says he; 'we are
liquidating an old account with Monsieur Paillard!'

"And with that a company of the Grey Ones canters away across the valley
and up the slope beyond where our shepherd, Jean Pascal, is sitting with
his two dogs.

"'You, there!' they call out to him. 'Send out your dogs and herd your
sheep!' And, when he only gapes at them, one of their riders wheels on
him, twirling his lance and shoves him with the counter-balance.

"So they make him drive his flock for them across the valley, and then
over the border--all the way on foot, Monsieur; and then they tell him
to loiter no more but to go about his business.

"That is what has happened on our hill pasture. He, the lad, Pascal, is
over there with his dogs"--pointing toward the fold--"almost crazed with
grief and shame. And, Schultz, he wishes us to organize as a
franc-corps. Me? I don't know what to do--what with Monsieur Paillard
away, and the forests in my care. Were it not for my responsibility----"

"I know, Michaud. But what could an isolated franc-corps do? Far better
to join your class if you can--when your responsibility here permits.
Those young men, there, should try to do the same."

"Monsieur is right! Even the classes of 1915, '16, and '17 have been
called. I have reminded them. But this outrage on the hill pastures has
inflamed them and made hot-heads of everybody. They wish to take their
guns and hunt Grey Uhlans. They don't know what they are proposing. I
saw something of that in '70. Why the Prussians hung or shot every
franc-tireur they caught; and invariably the nearest village was burned.
And I say to them that even if Monsieur Paillard is dead, as many are
beginning to believe, his death does not alter our responsibility. Why
should we bring reprisals upon his roof, his fields, his forests? No,
that is not honest conduct. But if we are now really convinced of his
death, as soon as Madame Courland leaves, let us turn over the estate to
the proper authorities in Luxembourg. Then will each and all of us be
free to join the colours when summoned--if God will only show us how to
do it."

"Madame Courland and mademoiselle ought to go tomorrow," said Guild.
"One or another of your hotheads over there might get us into trouble
this very night."

"The man from Moresnet talks loudest. I have tried to reason with him,"
said Michaud. "Would you come to the fold with me?"

They walked together toward the lantern light; the men standing there
turned toward them and ceased their excited conversation.

"Friends," said old Michaud simply, "this gentleman's name is Kervyn of
Gueldres. I think that is sufficient for any Belgian, or for any man
from the Grand Duchy?"

Off came every hat.

"Cover yourselves," continued Michaud calmly. "Monsieur, who has become
an American, desires to be known as Monsieur Guild without further mark
of respect. This also is sufficient for us all, I suppose. Thou! Jean
Pascal, cease thy complaints and stand straight and wipe thy tears. By
God, I think there are other considerations in Lesse Forest than the
loss of thy sheep and of Schultz's cattle!"

"M-my sheep are gone!" blubbered the boy, "I was too cowardly to defend

"Be quiet," said Guild. "It was not a question of your courage! You did
wisely. Show equal wisdom now."

"But I shall go after Uhlans now with my fusil-de-chasse! Ah, the
cowards of Germans! Ah, the brigands----"

"Cowards! Assassins!" muttered the other. "Grey wolves run when a man
goes after them----"

"You are wrong," said Guild quietly. "Germans are no cowards. If they
were there would be no credit for us in fighting them. Don't make any
mistake you men of the Ardennes; their soldiers are as brave as any
soldiers. And where you belong is with your colours, with your classes,
and in uniform. That's where I also belong; that's where I am going if I
can find out how to go. Perhaps one of you can guide me. Think it over.
Keep cool, and listen to Michaud, who is older and wiser than all of

There was a profound silence. Then a voice from the darkness, very

"I have seen red. It is necessary for me to bleed an Uhlan!"

Guild walked toward the sound of the voice: "Who are you?" he demanded.

"_Moi, je suis de Moresnet!_"

"Then you'd better go back to the zinc mines of Moresnet, my friend. No
Uhlans will trouble you down there."

And, aside to Michaud: "Look out for that young man from Moresnet. He's
too hotly a Belgian to suit my taste."

"Monsieur, he is a talker," said Michael with a shrug.

"My friend, be careful that he is nothing more dangerous."

"Ah, sacré bleu!" exclaimed the forester, reddening to his white
temples--"if any of that species had the temerity to come among us!----"

"Michaud, they might even be among the King's own entourage.... No doubt
that fellow is merely, as you say, a talker. But--he should not be left
to wander about the woods _alone_. And, tell me, is there anybody else
you know of who might do something rash tonight along the boundary?"

"Monsieur--there are two or three poor devils who escaped the firing
squads at Yslemont. They live in our forest, hiding. Our people feed

Guild said in a troubled voice: "Such charity is an obligation. But
nevertheless it is a peril and a menace to us all."

"Were this estate my own," said the sturdy forester, "I would shelter
them as long as they desired to remain. But I am responsible to Monsieur
Paillard, and to his tenant, Madame Courland. Therefore I have asked
these poor refugees to continue on to Diekirch or to Luxembourg where
the sight of an Uhlan's schapska will be no temptation to them."

"You are right, Michaud." He held out his hand; the forester grasped it.
"Tomorrow we should talk further. Our duty is to join the colours, not
to prowl through the woods assassinating Uhlans. Good night! In the
morning then?"

"At Monsieur's service."

"And both of us at the service of the bravest man in Europe--Albert, the

Off came their hats. And, as they stood there in silence under the
stars, from far away across the misty sea of trees came the sound of a

"One of your men?" asked Guild sharply.

"I don't know, Monsieur. Big boar feed late. A poacher perhaps. Perhaps
a garde-de-chasse at Trois Fontaines."

"I hope nothing worse."

"I pray God not."

They continued to listen for a while, but no other sound broke the
starry silence. And finally Guild turned away with a slight gesture, and
walked slowly back to the Lodge.

Lights from the tall windows made brilliant patches and patterns across
terrace and grass and flowers; the front door was open and the pleasant
ruddy lamp-light streamed out.

Valentine passing and mounting the stairs caught sight of him and waved
her hand in friendly salute.

"We're sterilizing Harry's shins--mother and I. The foolish boy was
rather badly tusked."

"Is he all right?"

"Perfectly, and bored to death by our fussing."

She ran on up the stairs, paused again: "We're not dressing for dinner,"
she called down to him, and vanished.

Guild said, "All right!" glanced at the hall clock, and sauntered on
into the big living-room so unmistakably American in its brightness and

But it was not until he had dropped back into the friendly embrace of a
stuffed arm-chair that he was aware of Karen curled up in the depths of
another, sewing.

"I didn't know you were here," he said coolly. "Have you had an
agreeable afternoon?"

"Yes, thank you."

"It's a very charming place."


"I think the Courlands are delightful."


"Miss Courland and I had a wonderful walk. We had no trouble in taking
all the trout we needed for dinner, and then we went to a rock called
The Pulpit, where we lay very still and talked only in whispers until
three wild boars came out to feed."

Karen lifted her eyes from her sewing. They seemed unusually dark to
him, almost purple.

"After that," he went on, "we walked back along the main ride to a
carrefour where the drive crosses; and so back here. That accounts for
my afternoon." He added, smiling carelessly: "May I ask you to account
for yours?"

"Yes, please."

"Very well, then I do ask it."

She bent over her sewing again: "I have been idle. The sun was
agreeable. I went for a little stroll alone and found an old wall and a
pool and a rose garden."

"And then?"

"The rose garden is very lovely. I sat there sewing and--thinking----"

"About what?"


He said steadily enough: "Were your thoughts pleasant?"


"Only partly?"

"Yes.... I remembered that you are joining your regiment."

"But that should not be an unpleasant thought for you, Karen."

"No. I would have it so, of course. It could not be otherwise under the

"It could not be otherwise," he said pleasantly; but his grey eyes never
left the pale, sweet profile bent above the leisurely moving needle.

"I understand."

"I know you understand _that_--at least, Karen."

"Yes. Other matters, too--a little better than I did--this morning."

"What matters?" he asked casually. But his heart was threatening to
meddle with his voice; and he set his lips sternly and touched his short
mustache with careless fingers.

Karen bent still lower over her sewing. The light was perfectly good,

"What," he asked again, "are the matters which you now understand better
than you did this morning?"


He laughed: "Do you think you understand love?"

"A little better than I did."

"In what way? You are not in love, are you, Karen?"

"I think--a--little."

"With whom?"

No answer.

"Not with _me_?"

"Yes." She turned swiftly in the depths of her chair to confront him as
he sprang to his feet.

"Wait!" she managed to say; and remained silent, one slim hand against
her breast. And, after a moment: "Would you not come any nearer,


"Not now, please.... Sit there where you were.... I can tell you
better--all I know--about it."

She bent again over her needle, sewing half blindly, the hurrying pulses
making her hand unsteady. After he was seated she turned her head partly
around for a moment, looking at him with a fascinated and almost
breathless curiosity.

"If I tell you, you will come no nearer; will you?" she asked.

"No. Tell me."

She sewed for a while at random, not conscious what her fingers were
doing, striving to think clearly in the menace of these new emotions,
the power of which she was divining now, realizing more deeply every

"I'll try to tell you," she said: "I didn't know anything--about
myself--this morning. What we had been to each other I considered
friendship. Remember it was my first friendship with a man. And--I
thought it _was_ that."

After a silence: "Was it anything deeper?" he asked.

"Yes, deeper.... You frightened me at first.... I was hurt.... But not
ashamed or angry. And I did not understand why.... Until you spoke and
said--what you said."

"That I love you?"

"Yes.... After that things grew slowly clearer to me. I don't know what
I said to you--half the things I said on the way back--only that I made
you angry--and I continued, knowing that you were angry and that I--I
was almost laughing--I don't know why--only that I needed time to try to
think.... You can't understand, can you?"

"I think so."

She looked up, then bowed her head once more.

"That is all," she said under her breath.

"Nothing more, Karen?"

"Only that--after you had gone away this afternoon I began to be a
little in love."

"Will it grow?"

"I think so."

"May I tell you that I love you?"

"Yes, please."

His clasped hands tightened on his knees; he said in a low unsteady
voice: "All my heart is yours, Karen--all there is in me of love and
loyalty, honour and devotion, is yours. Into my mind there is no thought
that comes which is not devoted to you or influenced by my adoration of
you. I love you--every word you utter, every breath you draw, every
thought you think I love. The most wonderful thing in the world would be
that you should love me; the greatest miracle that you might marry me.
Dare I hope for you, Karen?"


"That you will grow to really love me?"


"With all your heart?"

"I think so."

In the tremulous silence she turned again and looked at him, bending
very low over her work.

"Will you be gentle with me, Kervyn?"


"I mean--considerate--at first.... There is a great deal I don't know
about men--and being in love with one of them.... Brought up as I have
been, I could not understand that you should take me--in your arms.... I
was not angry--not even ashamed.... Only, never having thought of
it--and taking it for granted that, among people of your caste and mine,
to touch a man's lips was an act--of betrothal--perhaps of marriage----"

"Dearest, it _was_!"

"Yes, I understand now. But for a while I
felt--strangely--overwhelmed.... You can understand--having no
mother--and suddenly face to face with--you----"

She leaned her cheek against the back of the chair and rested so, her
small white hands folded over her sewing.

"I have yet to see Baron Kurt," she said half to herself. "I shall say
to him that I care for you. After that--when you come back, and if you
wish me to marry you--ask me."

He stood up: "How near may I come to you, Karen?"

"Not _very_ near--just now."

"Near enough to kiss your finger-tip."

"Yes, please."

Without turning her head she extended her arm; his lips touched lightly
the fragrant skin, and she pressed her fingers a trifle closer--a second
only--then her arm fell to her lap.

"After dinner," she said, "I shall show you the roses in the garden."

"They are no sweeter than your hand, Karen."

She smiled, her flushed cheek still resting against the cushions.

"It is very wonderful, very gentle after all," she murmured to herself.

"What, Karen?"

"I meant love," she said, dreamily.

                              CHAPTER XXI


Dinner was ended. Darrel lay on a lounge in the sitting-room, a victim
against his will to romance. Beside him on a low footstool sat
Valentine, reading aloud to him when she thought he ought to be read to,
fussing with his pillows when she chose to fuss, taking his cigarette
from his lips and inserting a thermometer at intervals, and always
calmly indifferent to his protests or to her mother's laughter.

For she had heard somewhere that a wild boar's teeth poisoned like a
lion's mauling; and the sudden revelation of a hero under the shattered
shell of modesty and self-depreciation which so long obscured the
romantic qualities in this young man determined her to make him continue
to play a rôle which every girl adores--the rôle of the stricken brave.

Never again could Darrel explain to her how timidity, caution, and a
native and unfeigned stupidity invariably characterized his behaviour at
psychological moments.

For Guild had told her all about this young man's cool resourcefulness
and almost nerveless courage during those hair-raising days in Sonora
when the great Yo Espero ranch was besieged, and every American prisoner
taken was always reported "Shot in attempting to escape."

She had never even known that Darrel had been in Mexico until Guild told
her about their joint mining enterprise and how, under a spineless
Administration, disaster had wiped out their property, and had nearly
done the same for them.

"Mother," said the girl, "I think I'll look at his shin again."

"Nonsense!" protested Darrel, struggling to sit up, and being checked by
a soft but firm little hand flat against his chest.

"I don't want to have my shin looked at," he repeated helplessly.

"Mother, I am going to change the dressing. Will you help?"

"For the love of Mike----"

"Be quiet, Harry!"

"Then make Guild go out of the room! He's laughing at me now!"

Karen was laughing, too, and now she turned to Guild: "Come," she said,
smilingly; "we are not welcome here. Also I do want you to see the rose
garden by star-light." And to Mrs. Courland, naïvely: "May we please be
excused to see your lovely garden?"

The pretty young matron smiled and nodded, busy with the box of
first-aid bandages for which Valentine was now waiting.

So Karen and Guild went out together into the star-light, across the
terrace and lawns and down along a dim avenue of beeches.

The night was aromatic with the clean sweet odour of the forest; a few
leaves had fallen, merely a tracery of delicate burnt-gold under foot.

Karen turned to the right between tall clipped hedges.

Mossy steps of stone terminated the alley and led down into an old
sunken garden with wall and pool and ghostly benches of stone, and its
thousands of roses perfuming the still air.

They were all there, the heavenly company, dimly tinted in crimson,
pink, and gold--Rose de Provence, Gloire de Dijon, Damask, Turkish,
Cloth of Gold--exquisite ghosts of their ardent selves--immobile
phantoms, mystic, celestial, under the high lustre of the stars.

Mirror-dark, the round pool's glass reflected a silvery inlay of the
constellations; tall trees bordered the wall, solemn, unstirring, as
though ranged there for some midnight rite. The thin and throbbing
repetition of hidden insects were the only sounds in that still and
scented place.

They leaned upon the balustrade of stone and looked down into the garden
for a while. She stirred first, turning a little way toward him. And
together they descended the steps and walked to the pool's rim.

Once, while they stood there, she moved away from his side and strolled
away among the roses, roaming at random, pausing here and there to bend
and touch with her face some newly opened bud.

Slender and shadowy she lingered among the unclosing miracles of rose
and gold, straying, loitering, wandering on, until again she found
herself beside the pool of mirror black--and beside her lover.

"Your magic garden is all you promised," he said in a low voice--"very
wonderful, very youthful in its ancient setting of tree and silvered
stone. And now the young enchantress is here among her own; and the
spell of her fills all the world."

"Do you mean me?"

"You, Karen, matchless enchantress, sorceress incomparable who has
touched with her wand the old-familiar world and made of it a paradise."

"Because I said I loved you--a little--has it become a paradise? You
know I only said '_a little_.'"

"I remember."

"Of course," she added with a slight sigh, "it has become more, now,
since I first said that to you. I shouldn't call it 'a little,' now; I
should call it----" She hesitated.


She seemed doubtful. "Yes, I think it is becoming 'much'--little by

"May I kiss--your hand?"

"Yes, please."

"And clasp your waist--very lightly--_this_ way?"

"In sign of betrothal?"


She looked up at him out of the stillest, purest eyes he had ever

"You know best, Kervyn, what we may do."

"I know," he said, drawing her nearer.

After a moment she rested her cheek against his shoulder.

Standing so beside the pool, breathing the incense of the roses, she
thought of the dream, and the gay challenge, "Who goes there?" She was
beginning to suspect the answer, now. It was Love who had halted her on
that flower-set frontier; the password, which she had not known then,
was "Love." Love had laughed at her but had granted her right of way
across that border into the Land of Dreams. And now, unchallenged, save
by her own heart, she had come once more to the borderland of flowers.

[Illustration: "Standing so beside the pool, breathing the incense of
the roses, she thought of the dream"]

"Halt!" said her heart, alert; "who goes there?"

"It is I, Karen, wearing the strange, new name of Love----"

She lifted her head, drew one hand swiftly across her eyes as though to
clear them, then stepped free from the arm that encircled her.


"Yes, I--I do love you," she stammered--"with all--all my heart----"

"_Halt!_" rang out a voice like a pistol shot from the darkness.

The girl stood rigid; Guild sprang to her side. "Qui vive!" cried the

"Belgium!" said Guild coolly.

"Then who goes there!--you!--below there in that garden?"

"Friends to Belgium," replied Guild in a quiet and very grave voice.
"Don't move, dearest," he whispered.

"What is happening?"

"I don't know, yet."

Presently, nearer the balustrade above them, the voice came again: "Is
it Monsieur Guild?"

"Yes. Who are you?"

"Pardon. Will Monsieur come up to the terrace? I am watching the wall
beyond the pool."

They ascended the stone steps; Karen moving lightly beside him. In the
shadow of the clipped yews a dark form stirred.

"Pardon. I did not recognize Monsieur Guild nor Mademoiselle. There is

It was Schultz the herdsman; his rifle was in his hand and he wore two
cartridge-belts crossed over his smock en bandoulière.

He touched his hat to Karen, but turned immediately toward the star-lit
sky-line where the dark coping of the wall cut it.

"What is the trouble?" asked Guild with a sinking heart.

"God knows how it happened, Monsieur Guild--but there was bad blood
tonight and hot heads full of it. Then, very far in the forest, a shot
was fired."

"I heard it. What happened?"

"Listen, Monsieur! The Moresnet man and the boy, Jean Pascal, put their
heads together. I don't know how it was, but even after what you said to
us, and after Michaud told us to remain prudent and calm, somehow after
we heard that shot we all, one by one, took down our guns; and after a
little while we found ourselves together in the carrefour.

"And from there we went, without saying a word, to the Calvary on the
hill pasture road. It was as though each of us understood without
telling each other--without even hinting at a plan.

"And by and by we went down by the rivulet at the foot of the hill
pastures, and there, as we expected, were two of the Yslemont refugees.
They had their guns. And one of them had a _spiked helmet_."

"Go on," said Guild, compressing his lips.

"He had taken it near Trois Fontaines, not below the hill. We all
examined it. We saw red, Monsieur. Then a calf which had escaped the
Grey Wolves moved in the bushes near us. The Moresnet man caught it, and
he and the shepherd, little Jean Pascal, took the dumb beast and tied it
to a sapling near the road. On _our_ side of the boundary! But we all
knew what might happen."

There was a silence; then Schultz said in a low, hoarse voice: "It was
fated to be. We took both sides of the road in the long grasses of the
ditches. And the calf bawled for company.

"The company came after a while--two Grey Wolves. First we heard the
clink-clink of their horses' feet; then we saw their lances against the

"They came on, picking their way. And of a sudden the electric
breast-torch on one of them breaks out like a blinding star, plays over
the road, then lights up the calf which is terrified and backs into the

"He drives his lance-butt into the sod and gets out of his saddle. His
comrade sits the other horse, pistol lifted, elbow on thigh. And there
comes then another Uhlan, walking and leading his horse--three of the
dirty brigands, Monsieur, across the border and on our side!"

"Go on."

"Eh bien--we bled them!"

"You killed them?"

"Yes, Monsieur--two there by the hedge in the grassy ditch; the other
hung to his horse for a while--but came off sideways. One spur caught
and his horse took him back that way--across the border."

"Go on."

"We took their schapskas. Jean Pascal wished to go across the border
after more Wolves. He was crazy. And the blood made us all a little
drunk. And then we found that the Moresnet man had gone. That chilled

He wiped his face with his sleeve, never taking his eyes from the wall
across the garden.

"After that," he said, "we lay very still, watching. And in a little
while an Uhlan crossed the hill pasture walking his horse slowly against
the stars. Then there were others moving across the sky up there, and we
also heard others on the road. So we have been quietly falling back into
the forest where, if they follow, they shall not go back, please God!"

"Where is Michaud?"

"He was very angry, but, since the affair has really begun, he is with
us, of course."

"Where is he?"

"He went to the house to find you an hour ago."

Guild bit his lip in silence. The stupidity of what had been done, the
utter hopelessness of the situation sickened him.

The slow, groping peasant mind, occupied always with the moment's
problem only, solving it by impulse and instinct alone--what could be
done with such a mind--what could be hoped from it except under
patiently inculcated military discipline.

Loosened from that, and defending its property from actual or threatened
aggression, it became a furtive, fierce and quickened mind, alternately
cunning and patiently ferocious. But of reason, or of logic, it reckons
nothing, knows nothing.

Trouble had begun--trouble was abroad already in the star-light--moving,

"What is your word?" he asked bluntly.


He turned to Karen, who stood quietly beside him: "The ladies must leave
this house tonight. There is no time at all to waste. There is going to
be real trouble here by morning. And I am going to ask you if you will
give these American ladies shelter tonight at Quellenheim. Will you,

"Of course."

"From there they can go to the city of Luxembourg tomorrow, and so into
Holland. But they ought to go now."

"And you, Kervyn?"

"I shall be very busy," he said. "Come back to the house, now."

They walked away together, moving quickly along the beech-woods; she
with that youthful, buoyant step as lithe as a young boy's; he beside
her with grave, preoccupied face and ears alert for the slightest sound.



"Will you come back to Quellenheim, too?"

"I can't do that, dearest."

"May I ask you what you are going to do?"

"Dear, I don't know yet. I haven't formed any plan at all."

"Is it not very dangerous for you to remain here?"

"No, I think not.... That is--I shall see how this matter threatens to

He felt her hand lightly on his arm, looked around, halted. She came to
him, laid her cheek against his breast in silence.

"You must not be afraid for me, Karen."

"I shall try--to remember."

He lifted one of her hands. It was cold and delicately fragrant. He
kissed it.

"The Bank at Diekirch is my address. I shall try to write you. I shall
come back some day and marry you. Do you love me, Karen?"

"With all--all my--soul."

"And you will marry me?"

"Yes, Kervyn."

She looked up, her eyes brilliant as wet stars. And very gently, almost
timidly, they exchanged their betrothal, lip to lip.

He drew her to him a little closer--held her so a moment, scarcely in
contact. Then they turned again to the grassy ride and moved swiftly
forward toward the drive.

Every light in the house had been lit, apparently. The automobile stood
before the door; three forest waggons with their big fine horses were in
line behind; and servants were loading them with American trunks,
suitcases, and luggage of every description, under the active direction
of Darrel.

When he saw Guild and Karen coming he called out: "Your luggage is
packed! Mrs. Courland and Valentine and their two maids are filling
hampers with bed linen and knick-knacks. You've heard what's happened,
of course?"

"Yes," said Guild. "I don't think you had better waste any more time
packing. Let the ladies get into the car and start. Michaud and I can
gather up what's left of their effects and send it after them in the
last waggon! Where is Michaud?"

"Talking to Mrs. Courland inside. Here he comes, now!----"

The white-haired forester came out behind Mrs. Courland, caught sight of
Guild, and made a slight gesture expressing infinite despair.

"I know," said Guild. "I'll talk it over with you after the household
leaves." And to Mrs. Courland, who appeared calm but a trifle dazed:
"Miss Girard offers you Quellenheim for the night, and for longer if you

"Please," said Karen, coming forward--"it would be very gracious of you
to come. Will you, Mrs. Courland?"

"Thank you, dear--yes--it will be the greatest convenience. I don't know
when we should arrive at Luxembourg if we started now." She took one of
Karen's hands and turned to Guild: "What a terrible thing our people
have done! Michaud came to tell us; Harry started everybody packing up.
You will come with us, of course?"

"Perhaps later, thank you." He turned to Valentine who was coming out in
hat and coat, followed by a pale-faced maid carrying both arms full of

"Please don't lose any time," said Guild, selecting wraps for Mrs.
Courland and for Karen. "Are your servants ready?"

"Nobody is ready," said Valentine, "but everybody is here or in the
hall, I think."

Guild gave his arm to Mrs. Courland and helped that active young matron
spring into the touring car. Karen went next. Valentine and two maids
followed; Guild slammed the door.

"All right!" he said curtly to the chauffeur, then, hat in hand, he said
gaily: "Au revoir! A happy reunion for us all!"

As the car rolled out into the shining path of its own lamps Karen
turned and looked back at him. And as long as he could see her she was
looking back.

After the car followed two of the forest waggons, one filled with
servants, the other loaded with luggage. Darrel came out of the house
with the last odds and ends of property belonging to the Courlands and
flung it pell-mell into the last waggon.

"Come on," he said briskly to Guild.

"No, go ahead, Harry. I'm stopping to talk with Michaud----"

"Well how are you going to get to Quellenheim?"

"When I'm ready to go I'll get there."

"You're not coming?"

"Not now."

Darrel came over and said, dropping his voice: "After this murdering
business it won't do for _you_ to be caught here."

"I don't mean to be caught here. Don't worry--and get a move on!"

"What are you intending to do?"

"I don't know yet. Come, Harry, start that waggon!"

Darrel shrugged his shoulders, mounted the seat beside the driver, and
the forest waggon rolled away into the darkness.

Guild was still looking after it, listening to Michaud's report of the
sniping affair near Trois Fontaines, when he saw the figure of a man
walking back from the direction the waggon had taken. The man walked
with a visible limp.

"You idiot!" said Guild sharply as Darrel strolled up, his features
blandly defiant.

"Go on with what you were saying to Michaud," insisted Darrel, unruffled
by his reception.

"Come, Harry--this is downright damn foolishness. If you've let the
waggon go on, you'll have to foot it to Quellenheim. You can't stay


"Because, you infernal butter-in, you'll get mixed up in a particularly
nasty mess. And it doesn't concern Yankees, this mess we're in, Michaud
and I."

"Oh hell!" said Darrel; "go on and talk, Michaud!"

"Are you going to poke your nose into this?" demanded Guild.

"It's in now."

"See here, Harry! Your sticking by me is gratuitously silly and it
annoys me. You don't have to. This isn't any of your business, this

Darrel lighted a cigarette and sat down on the terrace steps. Guild
glared at him.

"Will you go to the devil!" he snapped out.

"No, I won't."

Michaud, perplexed, had remained silent.

"If things go wrong they'll make a clean sweep of us all, I tell you,"
said Guild. "Once more, Harry, will you mind your own business?"

"No," said Darrel, blandly.

Guild turned to Michaud: "What were you saying?"

The forester, controlling his anger and emotion, continued the story of
the sniper near Trois Fontaines. Then he outlined the miserable affair
of the hill pasture.

"There remains for us now only two courses," he ended. "Either we turn
franc-tireur and make our bivouac yonder in the forest, or we gather our
people at The Pulpit, lie there tonight, and at daylight strike out for
the Dutch frontier."

Guild nodded.

"There is a little hole in the rocks at The Pulpit--scarce large enough
to be called a cave. Since the war came upon us, foreseeing necessity,
my men have carried arms and provisions to The Pulpit--well hidden,
Monsieur. I think, now, that it is a better refuge than this house."

The three men looked up at the house. Michaud made a hopeless gesture:
"I suppose _they_ will destroy it, now. God knows. But if Monsieur
Paillard be truly dead as we now believe, and his poor body lies rotting
under the ruins of Wiltz-la-Vallée, then there is nobody to mourn this
house excepting the old forester, Michaud.... And I think he has lived
on earth too long."

He went slowly toward the house, entered it. One by one all the lighted
windows grew dark. Presently he reappeared drawing the door-key from his
pocket. Very deliberately he locked the door from the outside, looked in
silence at the darkened house, and, facing it, quietly removed his hat.

The silent salute lasted but a moment; he put on his grey hat with the
pheasant's feather sticking up behind, picked up his fowling-piece and
hung it over one shoulder, his big, weather-browned hand resting on the

"Eh bien, Messieurs?" he inquired calmly.

"Bring in your men, Michaud," said Guild. "I know where The Pulpit is,
but I couldn't find it at night. I'll wait at the carrefour for you."
And, to Darrel: "What did you do with my luggage?"

"Sent it to Quellenheim."

"_That rücksack, too?_"


"Damnation," said Guild very calmly; "it had papers in it which are
enough to hang anybody!"

"You'd better go and get it, then."

"I'll have to, that's all."

They walked across the lawn and out along the dark drive in silence.
Where the ride crossed at the carrefour they halted. There was a
dilapidated shrine there to Our Lady of Lesse. They seated themselves on
the stone base.

"Harry," said Guild, "how long do you intend to follow me about in this
absurd way?"

"I'd like to see you safe across the Dutch frontier."

"Thanks," said Guild drily.

"Don't mention it. I really can reconcile myself to your having your
bally head knocked off in uniform, but this sort of thing seems rather

"It is. Won't you go on to Quellenheim to oblige me?"

"I'll wait till tomorrow morning," replied Darrel pleasantly.

Guild was silent. They sat there for an hour or more scarcely exchanging
a word. Then somebody whistled, cautiously, very near them, and another
carefully modulated whistle answered.

"Who goes there!" came a challenging voice.


"Our men," said Guild, rising.

Michaud came up in the darkness. "The shepherd, Jean Pascal, and
Schultz, and the men of Yslemont are out there yet. Nothing I say
affects them. They say that they need another Uhlan to bleed.

"Won't they obey you?"

"No, by God! The two sheep dogs of Jean are there, grave and wise as two
big-eared devils squatting. And the half-crazed lad is teaching them to
track Uhlans--making them sniff the bloody schapskas like a hunter who
trains pups with a dead hare!"

He looked around at the dozen shadowy figures gathering in the
carrefour; the star-light sparkled on guns and belts and slings, and
here and there on the vizor of a casquette-de-chasse.

"The Grey Wolves," said Michaud, "can never find us in The Pulpit. If
Monsieur is ready?"

"Quite ready," said Guild. And the shadowy file, led by Michaud, moved
straight into the woods.

                              CHAPTER XXII

                              DRIVEN GAME

The stars had faded; a watery grey light glimmered through the forest.
Deer crossed the grassy carrefour by the shrine, picking a dainty way
toward forest depths; rabbits hopped homeward through dew-drenched ferns
and bracken; a cock-pheasant saluted the dawn; the last wild boar still
lingered amid the beech mast, rooting, coughing, following the furrows
that his bristly snout was making while his furry bat-like ears, cocked
forward, remained on duty, and his tail wriggled pleasurably.

The silent watchers aloft behind the rocky escarpement of The Pulpit,
looking down through leafy branches to the carrefour, saw the last
little roedeer trot past on his fastidious way; saw the last rabbit
vanish in the warren; saw the lone boar lift his huge and shaggy head to
listen with piggish suspicion, then turn and go, silent as some
monstrous spectre.

From under hazel bushes pheasants stepped out to ruffle and preen and
peck pensively among the fallen leaves, awaiting the promise of the sun,
their white collars gleamed below their gorgeous heads; the sombre
splendour of their plumage made brilliant spots along the ride. Here and
there a hen-pheasant crept modestly about the business of breakfast. A
blue and rosy jay alighted near, sign that the forest peace promised to

After a long while far in the west the grey was touched with rose.
Darrel, lying beside Guild, chin on his folded arms, stirred slightly.

"Sunrise," he said.

Michaud, on the other side, reared himself on his hands and lay watching
the west.

"It is too early for the sun," he said. "That is a fire."

Pinker, ruddier, redder grew the western sky. Silent, intent, forester,
garde-de-chasse, charcoal burner, strained their keen eyes.

Then a heavy sigh like a groan escaped Michaud.

"The Lodge," he said, hoarsely, under his breath. "Oh God, my master's

All around among the rocks men were drawing deep breaths, muttering,
restless; their eyes were fixed like the eyes of caged wild things.

"The Grey Wolves," growled an old garde--"Ah, the cowards--the dirty
Prussian whelps! Ah! Look at that; my God! Marie adored, Virgin of
Lesse; stand by us now!"

Against the sky specks like tinsel twinkled; smoke became visible.

"House, stables, granneries, quarters, garage, all are on fire," said
Michaud in a mechanical voice. His face was grey and without expression,
his words accentless.

The smoke appeared further north.

"The cattle-barns and the hay-stacks," he went on monotonously....
Beyond are the green-houses, runs, dove-cotes, and our little shop....
They are now afire... Everything is on fire. Lesse is burning,
burning.... The stubble beyond is burning.... And beyond that the
nursery acres--the seedlings and the--Marie adored, Virgin of Lesse,
have pity on my little trees--my nurslings--my darlings----"

"Hark!" whispered Guild. Far away up the ride horses were coming at a
heavy trot; and now the noise of wheels became audible. And now below
them two German dragoons cantered into view, carbines poised; a waggon
passed--a strange grey vehicle driven by a grey-clad soldier wearing a
vizorless forage cap. It was piled with dead pigeons and chickens.
Behind that another waggon followed, all splashed with blood, and in it
swayed and jolted the carcasses of dead pigs freshly killed, lurching
and slipping over the crimsoned straw. Behind galloped six Uhlans, their
lances perpendicular in the buckets, the cords from their cloth-covered
schapskas bellying behind.

"Not a shot!" said Michaud in a perfectly distinct voice, pushing up the
rifle of the old garde-de-chasse. "There is nothing to do now, nom de
Dieu!--for the necks of our fowls are already wrung and the dead hogs
are tasting their own _boudin_. Our affair is with the living pigs."

After a few moments more dragoons came, trotting their superb horses
along the ride, alertly scanning the woods to right and left as they
passed, their carbines at a ready.

Waggons followed--hay waggons, carts loaded with potato sacks, straw,
apples, bags of flour, even firewood and bundles of faggots--a dozen
vehicles or more of every description.

"Ours," said Michaud in his emotionless tones. "What they could not take
is burning yonder."

More grey dragoons closed the file of waggons, then a dozen Uhlans, who
turned frequently in their saddles and kept looking back.

"Scoundrels!" muttered the garde-de-chasse, laying his rifle level; but
Michaud turned on him and struck up the weapon.

"Thou!" he said coldly--"do thy duty when I tell thee, or I become

Somebody said: "There are no more. We have not bled one single wolf!"

"Look yonder," whispered Guild.

Out into the carrefour stepped briskly eight or ten German officers,
smart and elegant and trim in their sea-grey uniforms and their spiked
helmets shrouded with grey so that there was not a glitter from point to

A dozen non-commissioned officers followed, carrying two military rifles

The officers looked curiously at the shrine of Our Lady of Lesse, and
the sad-faced Virgin looked back at them out of her carven and sightless

One by one the officers took posts at the four corners of the grassy
clearing or on the steps of the shrine. They were laughing and
conversing; some smoked; some inspected the rifles brought up by their
non-com gun-bearers. The sun had not yet risen; the silvery smoke of the
Silverwiltz marked its high waterfall below the gorge of the glen; fern
fronds drooped wet to the wet dead leaves beneath, matted grasses
glistened powdered with dew.

In the still grey air of morning the smoke from the German officers'
pipes and cigars rose upward in straight thin bands; a jeweled bracelet
on the wrist of an infantry major reflected light like a frost crystal.

The officers ceased their careless conversation; one by one they became
quiet, almost motionless where they had taken their several positions.
Behind them, stiff and erect, the non-coms stood with the spare guns,
rifles or fowling-pieces.

An air of silent expectancy settled over the carrefour; officer and
non-com were waiting for something.

Michaud had already divined; Guild knew; so did Darrel. Every woodsman
in The Pulpit knew. Some of them were trembling like leashed dogs.

Then in the forest a sound became audible like a far halloo. Distant
answers came through the woodland silence, from north, from south--then
from west and east.

Guild whispered to Darrel: "They are driving the forest! They have a
regiment out to beat it!"

The German officers at their stands no longer moved as much as a finger.
Against the grey trees they were all but invisible.

Suddenly out into the carrefour stepped a superb red stag, ears alert,
beautiful head half turned at gaze. Instantly a rifle spoke; and the
magnificent creature was down in the ride, scuffling, scrambling, only
to fall and lie panting with its long neck lifted a little.

Crack! The antlered head fell.

Then out of the wood trotted three bewildered pigs--an old boar, a
yearling on which the stripes were still visible, and a huge fierce sow.
A ripple of rifle shots checked them; the old boar stood swinging his
great furry head right and left; the yearling was down, twitching; the
sow ran, screaming horribly. Two shots followed; the old boar kneeled
down very quietly like a trick-horse in a circus, still facing his
enemies. He did not look as though he were dead.

The yearling had ceased its twitching; the sow was down, too, a great
lump of coarse black fur in the ditch.

Then the rifles began again; a company of little roe deer whirled into
the ride and went down or stumbled with delicate limbs dangling broken,
or leaped to a height incredible in the agony of a death wound.

Pell-mell after them galloped a whole herd of red deer; the German
rifles rattled steadily. Now and then blasts from fowling-pieces dropped
running or incoming pheasants, cock and hen alike; or crumpled up some
twisting rabbit or knocked a great hare head over heels.

Faster and faster came the terrified wild things, stag, roe, boar, and
hare; steadily the German rifles cracked and rattled out death; thicker
and swifter pelted the meteor flight of pheasants; birds of all sorts
came driving headlong in their flight; big drab-tinted wood-pigeons, a
wild duck or two, widgeon and mallard; now and then a woodcock fluttered
past like some soft brown bat beating the air; now and then a
coq-de-la-bruyere, planing on huge bowed wings above collapsed and fell
heavily to the loose roar of the fowling-pieces.

Crippled, mutilated creatures were heaped along the ride; over them
leaped their panic-stricken comrades only to stumble in the rifle-fire
and lie struggling or inert.

A veil of smoky haze made the carrefour greyer now, through which at
intervals a dying stag lifted its long neck from the shambles about him
or some strong feathered thing beat its broken wings impotently upon the

Once a great boar charged, and was shot to pieces, spattering the steps
of the shrine with blood. Once a wounded hare dragged its tortured body
to the shrine, as though for sanctuary. A non-com swung it crashing
against the granite cross.

And now a more sinister thing occurred. Out from the forest, amid the
stampeding game, reeled a man! His blue smock hung in ribbons; one
bleeding fist grasped a rifle; the cartridges en bandoulière glittered.

For a second he stood there, swaying, panting, bewildered in the smoke
haze; then three non-coms fired at him at once.

At that he straightened up, stood so for a second as though listening,
then he took one uncertain step and pitched into a patch of briers on
his face.

Presently some German foot-soldiers appeared in the ride, moving
cautiously, scanning every ditch, every hollow, every thicket, their
rifles poised for a snap-shot. A roebuck floundered up and went off
before them like the wind, unnoticed. Then one of the soldiers fired,
and a boy jumped out from behind a hazel bush and started to run along
the edge of the woods. He was followed by two sheep dogs.

"Jean Pascal!" said Michaud calmly. "May God pardon him now."

As the little shepherd ran, the soldiers stood and fired at him, aiming
carefully. They broke his leg as he passed the carrefour. The lad raised
himself from the ground to a sitting position and was sobbing bitterly,
when they shot him again. That time he fell over on his side, his hands
still covering his dead and tear-wet face. His dogs trotted around him,
nuzzling him and licking his hands. An officer shot them both.

Schultz broke cover in a few moments, his rifle at his cheek; and,
dropping to one knee in the ride, he coolly opened fire on the officers
by the shrine. But he had time only for a single shot which jerked a
spiked helmet from a cavalry major's clipped head. Then they knocked him

As the herdsman lay gasping in the roadway with a bullet in his stomach,
looking with dull and glazing eyes at the rifle flashes, three men from
Yslemont--blackened, haggard, ragged creatures--burst out, fighting like
wildcats with the beaters behind them.

Two were bayoneted and clubbed to death in the briers; the last man ran
like a crazed hare, doubling, dodging, twisting among the trees where
the rifle hail filled the air with twigs and splinters and tattered

After him lumbered a dozen foot-soldiers, clumping along in their
hob-nailed ammunition boots. Then, high above on The Pulpit, Guild spoke
sharply to Michaud, who gave a jerk to his white head and made a little
gesture to the others behind him.

"Now," added Guild in a low voice.

"Fire," said Michaud calmly.

The rocky glen roared with the volley. The foot-soldiers below halted in
astonishment and looked up. One fell sideways against a tree; another
dropped to his knees and remained motionless, the spike of his helmet
buried deep in the soft earth.

They were shouting down by the carrefour now; clear, mellow whistle
signals sounded persistently. Horses were coming, too; the ride
reverberated with their galloping. And all the while The Pulpit
resounded with the rifle-fire of its little garrison, and soldiers were
dropping along the carrefour and the ride.

[Illustration: "The Pulpit resounded with the rifle-fire of its little

"Pigs of Prussians!" shouted the old garde-de-chasse; "does a Belgian
game-drive suit you now! Ah, scoundrels, bandits, sound the _Mort_ on
your imbecile whistles. For the swine of the North are dying fast!"

"Be silent," said Michaud coldly. "You tarnish your own courage!"

Guild and Darrel had taken rifles; they stood firing down at the
carrefour where the horses of the Uhlan advanced guard were plunging
about in disorder under a confusion of lances and fluttering pennons.

But the confusion lasted only a few moments; horsemen whirled their
mounts and cleared out at full speed; the carrefour was empty of
officers now; not a German was visible in the early sunshine, only the
steady clatter of their rifle-fire continued to pelt the heights where
bullets cracked and smacked on the rocks.

"Enough," said Michaud quietly. "It is time to leave. André, bring thou
a bar to me."

A charcoal burner ran to the hole in the rocks and drew out a crowbar.
Michaud took it, shoved it under the edge of the ledge, found a fulcrum,
motioned the men back.

Two other men threw their weight on the bar; the ledge lifted easily.
Suddenly the entire parapet gave way, crashing like an avalanche into
the glen below.

"They shall need wings who follow us," said the old man grimly.
"Monsieur," turning calmly to Guild, "if we cross the Dutch border
unarmed, will they interne us?"

"No, I think not."

"And from there we may be free to find our way to the colours?"


"By sea?"

"By land and sea to Dunkirk. I know of no easier or quicker way."

"Monsieur goes with us?"

"First I must stop at Quellenheim." He added, in a low voice: "By
mistake my papers were sent there last night. Our King must see those

"Bien," said Michaud. "We bivouac near Quellenheim tonight--time for a
crust, Monsieur, while you go to the house and return. Is it agreeable
to Monsieur?"

"Perfectly." And, to Darrel: "Take your chance while it remains and join
the Courlands when they leave Quellenheim. Will you promise?"

"I'll see," said Darrel, carelessly tossing his rifle across his
shoulder and stepping into the silent file of men which was already
starting across the ridge.

                             CHAPTER XXIII

                              CANDLE LIGHT

It was nearly eleven o'clock at night before they bivouacked without
fires in the woods behind the Lodge at Quellenheim.

The circuitous forest route had wearied the men; they threw themselves
on the dead leaves and moss; some slept where they lay, others groped in
sacks with toil-stiffened fingers searching for crusts, which they
munched slowly, half asleep.

Guild drew Darrel and Michaud aside.

"To go by Luxembourg and Holland is too long and too uncertain," he
said. "If we could cross the railway beyond Trois Fontaines before
daylight we should have a clear country before us to Antwerp."

It had been days since the household at Lesse had heard any war news,
but Darrel recollected that there had been rumours of a German drive
toward Antwerp.

Michaud nodded. "It is possible," he said. "Brussels they may have
taken; I don't know; but Antwerp, never! I _know_, Monsieur; I served my
time with the artillery in the Scheldt forts. No German army could pass
the outer ring of fortresses; the country can be flooded. Also our King
is there with his Guides and Lancers and Chasseurs-à-cheval; the entire
army is there. No, Monsieur, Antwerp is open to us if you desire to take
us there."

"I do," said Guild. "It is the better way for all of us if the country
still remains clear. It is better for us than to engage in a Chasse aux
Uhlans. If I could lead a dozen sturdy recruits into Antwerp it would be
worth while. And, except for the post at Trois Fontaines and the troops
patrolling the railway, I can not see why the country is not open to us
north of Liège."

"I know this country. It is my country," said Michaud, "and troops or no
troops I can take you across the railroad before daylight." He shrugged
his massive shoulders: "What is a Prussian patrol to a head forester?"

"You believe you can do it?"

"I pledge my honour, Monsieur."

Guild looked at Darrel: "I wish I knew whether there has been a drive
toward Antwerp. If there has been it must have come from the sea by
Ostend. But I do not believe Ostend has been taken." He turned to
Michaud: "If the country is clear, why could we not pick up more men en
route? Why should we not recruit in every hamlet, every village?"

"Mon Dieu, Monsieur, if there are hardy companions willing to go with
the ragged men of the forest, well and good. Yet I could wish for at
least one uniform among us. That represents authority and gives

Guild said thoughtfully: "I have an officer's uniform of the Guides
among my luggage."

"Lord!" exclaimed Darrel, "you brought it with you?"

"There was to have been a regimental dinner in Brussels in September. I
was asked last June, and they requested me to wear uniform. I had my
uniform, so I packed it."

"Then it is there in your luggage at Quellenheim!"


"Well," said Darrel heartily, "I'm devilish glad of it. If they catch
you in uniform they can't court-martial you with a jerk of their

"I'm not worrying about that," said Guild carelessly, "but," looking at
Michaud, "if you think a reserve officer in uniform is likely to
encourage recruiting, I certainly shall use my uniform. You know your
own people better than I do. I leave it to you, Michaud."

"Then, Monsieur, wear your uniform. It means everything to us all; we
honour and respect it; it represents authority; better still, it
reassures our people. If an officer of the Guides is seen in charge of a
batch of recruits, no young man, whose class has been summoned to the
colours, would entertain any misgivings. Nor dare anybody hang back! Our
women would jeer and ridicule them."

"Very well," said Guild. "Now take me as far as the wood's edge where I
can see the house at Quellenheim. Wait for me there and guide me back
here, for I never could find this dark bivouac alone."

"Follow, Monsieur," said the old man simply.

In single file the three men moved forward through the darkness, Michaud
leading without hesitation, Guild following close, and Darrel bringing
up the rear.

In a few minutes the bluish lustre of the stars broke through the
forest's edge. An overgrown ride ran westward; beyond, the highway from
Trois Fontaines bisected it; and out of this curved the Lodge road.

It was dark and deserted; and when Guild came in sight of the Lodge,
that, too, was dark.

Up the long avenue he hastened to the house; the fountain splashed
monotonously in the star-light; the circle of tall trees looked down
mournfully; the high planets twinkled.

He walked around the house, hoping to find a light in the kitchen. All
was black, silent, and wrapped in profoundest shadow.

He picked up a few pebbles from the driveway, counted the windows until
he was certain which one was Karen's. Her window was open. He tossed a
pebble against it; and then another into the room itself.

Suddenly the girl appeared at the window.

"Karen!" he called. She leaned out swiftly, her braided hair falling to
the sill.

"Kervyn!" she whispered.

"Dear, I've only a moment. Could you come down and let me in without
waking the others?"

"The others? Kervyn, they have gone!"


"Everybody's gone! A patrol of hussars galloped here from Trois
Fontaines and ordered them across the Dutch frontier. I felt dreadfully;
but there was nothing to do. So poor Mrs. Courland and her daughter and
her servants have gone on toward Luxembourg with all their luggage. I'm
here alone with the Frau Förster. Shall I let you in?"

"Did my luggage go to Luxembourg?"

"No; it is in the room you occupied."

"Then come down quickly and let me in," he said. "If there are German
patrols abroad I don't care to be caught here."

The girl disappeared; Guild went to the front door and stood looking
down the driveway and listening to catch any warning sound.

The next moment the door behind him opened and Karen's trembling hands
were in his.

He gazed down into the pale face framed by its heavy braids. In her slim
nightdress and silken chamber robe she appeared very girlish.

"What has happened, Kervyn? Your clothes are torn and muddy and you look
dreadfully white and tired."

"Karen, they burned Lesse this morning."

"Oh!" she gasped.

"Everything at Lesse is in ashes. Some of the men are dead. The
survivors are in the woods behind your house waiting for me."

She clung to his arm as they entered the house; Guild picked up one of
the lighted candles from the oak table. She took the other and they
ascended the stairs together.

"There was sniping," he said. "That always brings punishment to innocent
and guilty alike. Lesse is a heap of cinders; they drove the forest and
shot the driven game from the steps of the carrefour shrine. Men fell
there, too, under their rifles--the herdsman, Schultz, the Yslemont men,
the little shepherd lad with both his dogs. When their bearers came our
way we fired on them."

"_You!_ Oh, Kervyn! It means death if they find you!"

"I shall not be found." He took her by the hands a moment, smiled at
her, then turned swiftly and entered his room holding the candle above
his head.

After his door had remained closed for a few moments she knocked.

"Kervyn," she called, "I am frightened and I am going to dress."

"No need of that," came his voice; "I shall be gone in five minutes."

But she went away with her lighted candle and entered her room. The
travelling gown she wore from England lay ready; boots, spats, and

Swiftly she unbraided and shook out her hair and twisted it up again,
her slim fingers flying. A sense of impending danger seized and
possessed her; almost feverishly she flung from her the frail night
garments she wore, and dressed with ever-increasing fear of something
indefinitely menacing but instant. What it might be she did not even try
to formulate in thought; but it frightened her, and it seemed very, very

She dragged on her brown velvet hat and pinned it, and at the same
moment she heard a sound in the hallway which almost stopped her heart.

It was the ringing step of a spurred boot.

Terrified, she crept to her door, listened, opened a little way. Near
the stair-head a candle shone, its yellow light glimmering on the wall
of the passage. Then she heard Guild's guarded voice:


"Y-yes," she faltered in amazement as a tall figure turned toward her
clothed in the complete uniform of the Guides.

"Kervyn! Is it _you_? Why are you in that uniform?" She came toward him
slowly, her knees still tremulous from fear, and rested one hand on his

"Dearest, dearest," he said gently, "why are you trembling? There is no
reason for fear. I am in uniform because I shall attempt to take a few
recruits and volunteers across the railway line tonight. We are going to
try to make Antwerp, which is a quicker, and I think a surer, route than
through Luxembourg and Holland. Besides, they _might_ interne us. They
would without a doubt if I were in uniform and if the Lesse men came to
the frontier with their guns and bandoulières."

"Kervyn, how _can_ you get to Antwerp? You can't _walk_, dear!"

"We'll start on foot, anyway," he said cheerfully. "Now I must go.
They're waiting. Why did you dress, Karen?"

"I don't know." She looked up at him in a dazed way. "I wanted to be
with you."

"I'm going back to the forest, dear."

"Could I come?"

"No. I don't want you to be out at night. There's only a fireless camp
there and a dozen ragged and dirty men. Besides, there might be some
sort of trouble."


"Not likely. Still there _might_ be patrols out from Trois Fontaines,
even from Lesse. I don't know. Michaud says he can take us across the
railway line before daylight. If he can do that I think we shall find
the country clear beyond. Anyway, we'll know soon. Now I must say

She laid her cold hands in his, tried to speak, but could not. Then, of
a sudden, her fingers gripped his in terror; there came the rushing
swish of an automobile around the gravel circle outside, a loud resonant
humming, a sharp voice speaking in German, a quick reply in the same

"The--the valet's room. Quick!" she gasped, pushing him backward across
the room and through the doorway. Behind him the swinging leather door
closed silently again; the girl stood rigid, white as a sheet, then she
walked to the oak table, picked up a book, and dropped into the depths
of a leather arm-chair.

Outside the mellow whirr of the motor had ceased; the door of the car
closed with a click; quick, firm steps ascended the path; there came a
low jingling sound, the clash of metal, then a key was rattled in the
outer lock, turned sharply, and the door creaked open.

Karen rose to her feet. Every atom of colour had fled her cheeks.


"You?" she said in a ghost of her own voice.

Kurt von Reiter seemed astonished. He came forward very quickly, a tall,
thin, faultless figure moulded perfectly into his tight sea-grey
uniform. Bending only a very little from the waist as though too tightly
buttoned in, he bowed above the icy hand she extended, paid his respects
with flawless courtesy, straightened up, placed his shrouded spiked
helmet on the table.

"I had scarcely expected to find you awake," he said. "It is after two
o'clock in the morning."

She made a supreme effort at self-control.

"I have been a trifle nervous, Kurt. There was trouble at Lesse Forest
last evening."

"Yes. Who told you?"

"I was there."

"At Lesse!"

"Yes, a guest of Mrs. Courland--an American lady."

"I know about her. She is a friend of Mr. Guild."

Karen nodded; a painful and fixed smile quivered in her colourless lips.

"Was Mr. Guild there also?" inquired von Reiter.


"He left with the others, I suppose."

She said: "Everybody was in a panic. I invited them to come here, but a
patrol from Trois Fontaines galloped up and ordered them to go through
Luxembourg--across the Dutch frontier. It seemed very harsh."

The girl had seated herself again; von Reiter drew up a chair beside the
table opposite her and sat down. Candle light played over his dry,
sandy-blond face and set his blue eyes glittering.

"Are you well, Karen?"

"Quite, thank you. And you?"

"God be thanked, in perfect health." He did not mention three broken
ribs still bandaged and which had interfered with the perfectly
ceremonious bow of a German officer.

He said: "I took this opportunity to come. It was my first chance to see
you. Been travelling since noon."

"You--remain tonight?"

"I can not. I came for one reason only. You know what it is, Karen."

She did not answer.

He waited a moment, looked absently around the room, glanced up at the
stag's antlers, then his gaze returned to her.

"Were you much frightened by what happened at Lesse?" he asked. "You do
not look well."

"I am well."

"Did you experience any trouble in leaving England?"

"Yes, some."

"And Mr. Guild? Was he--useful?"


Von Reiter gazed at the girl thoughtfully. One elbow rested on the table
corner, the clenched fist supporting his chin. In the other hand he
continued to crumple his gloves between lean, powerful, immaculate

"Karen," he said, "did you bring with you whatever papers you happened
to possess at the time?"

After a moment the girl answered in a low voice: "No."

"Did you destroy them?"


"What became of them?" he insisted. A mottled flush gathered on his
cheek-bones; after a few seconds the carefully scrubbed features of the
man grew pink.

"What papers had you?" he asked.

She looked up at him in silence and a deeper colour stained his face so
that in contrast his pale mustache, en croc, and his clipped hair
appeared almost white.

"Kurt," she said, "how could you permit me to be involved in such

"Karen, do you imagine I supposed that war with England was imminent? I
never dreamed that England would intervene! And when she did, and when
it was already too late to reach you, the anxiety concerning you, and
concerning what papers might still be passing from the Edmeston Agency
through your hands, nearly drove me insane."

"Yet you instructed me to bring back with me any papers I might have in
my possession."

"I tell you I did not count on war with England. Nobody did. I meant
only that you were to bring with you what papers you had when you
returned. Did not Grätz instruct you to destroy your papers?"


Von Reiter's lean jaws snapped. "Then what did you do with them?"

"I put them into my satchel. On board the steamer the satchel was opened
and the papers taken."

Anger, apprehension, twitched at his thin lips; then a deeper emotion
softened the grim lines of his features.

"God be thanked," he said, "that you were not involved in England. It
was a living nightmare to me--that constant uncertainty concerning you.
I could not reach you; I could do nothing, make no arrangements. Cipher
code was forbidden even from neutral countries. It was only at the last
moment I found a secret wireless lane still open to us. In that way I
managed to notify Grätz that this man Guild was on his way to find you
and bring you back here; that no more papers were to be sent through you
to me; and that what you had were to be destroyed. Did you hear from him
at all?"

"He telephoned that my maid had been arrested on a serious charge and
that I was to leave Hyacinth Villa at once with Mr. Guild. He said
nothing about papers. But I remembered what I had promised you, and I
put into my satchel what papers I had.... They nearly lost me my life,"
she added, gazing steadily at him.

"Do you mean to say that you knew the papers were compromising and still
you undertook to bring them? Were you insane to attempt such a thing?"

"Had I not promised you, Kurt?"

"Circumstances alter conditions and absolve promises however solemn.
Common sense decides where honour is involved."

She flushed brightly: "There I am more English than German, Kurt. A
promise is a promise, and not"--she looked at him musingly--"not what
the British press reproaches us for calling a 'scrap of paper.'"

He said grimly: "When a supposed friend suddenly aims a blow at you,
strike first if you can and discuss the ethics afterward. We tore up
that 'scrap of paper' before the dirty fingers of England could clutch
it, that's all."

"And lost the world's sympathy. Oh, Kurt!"

"But we retained the respect born of fear. We invaded Belgium before the
others could do it, that's all.... I do not care to discuss the matter.
The truth is known to us and that is sufficient."

"It is not sufficient if you desire the sympathy of the world."

Von Reiter's eyes became paler and fixed and he worried the points of
his up-brushed mustache with powerful, lean fingers.

"Make no mistake," he said musingly. "America's turn will come.... For
all the insolence she has offered in our time of need, surely, surely
the time is coming for our reckoning with her. We have not forgotten von
Diederichs; we shall not forget this crisis. All shall be arranged with
method and order when we are ready.... Where is that American--or
Belgian, as he seems to think his honour of the moment requires him to

"Mr. Guild?"


"He did not come here when the others arrived from Lesse Forest."

"He's a fire-brand," said von Reiter coldly. "Our system of information
informed us sufficiently. I should have had him extinguished at Yslemont
had he not been the one man who stood any chance of getting into England
and bringing you back."

"Also you trusted him," she said quietly.

"Yes, I did. He is a Gueldres of Yvoir. The Gueldres have never lied.
When he said he'd return, that settled the matter." Von Reiter's eyes
had an absent look as though following a detached idea, and his features
became expressionless.

"When the war ends," he said, "and if that man ever comes to Berlin, it
would afford me gratification to offer him my hand--or my card. Either
extreme would suit me; he is not a man to leave one indifferent; it is
either friendship or enmity--the hand or the card. And I do not know yet
which I might prefer."

He looked up and around at her, his sombre, blond features hardening:

"I need not ask you whether his attitude toward you was respectful."

"It was--respectful."

"That question, of course, answered itself. The record of that family is
part of Belgian history.... Do you know where he went after he kept his
word and delivered you here?"

"He went to Lesse."

"And then?"

She remained silent.

"Do you know?" he repeated.


"Is there any reason why you should not tell me?"

She was mute.

"Karen," he said gently, "is there any reason why your confidence should
be withheld from me? I have come here tonight for my answer. I have only
an hour to stay. It was a long way to come for one single word from a
young girl. But I would have travelled the world over for that word from
you. Will you give me my answer, Karen?"

She looked up, dumb, her mouth tremulous, unable to control her emotion
for the moment. His keen eyes searched hers; he waited, thin lips

"Kurt--I--do not love you," she whispered.

He took it in silence; not a muscle quivered.

"Will you marry me, Karen, and try?"

"I can not."

"Is it your profession? Is it your desire for liberty?"


"Is it--_another man_?"

As he spoke he saw in her eyes that he had guessed the truth.

For a full minute he sat there like a statue, one arm extended on the
table, the bony hand clenched. After a long while he lifted his head and
turned upon her a visage terrifying in its pallour and rigidity.

"Is it--Guild?" he asked with an effort.


"_Is_ it?" The heavy colour suddenly flooded his face; lie drew a deep,
sharp breath. "Is he still in this neighbourhood? Is he, perhaps, coming
here to see you? Is _that_ why you are awake and dressed at this hour?"

"Kurt, you have no right----"

"I am at liberty to ask you these questions----"

"No! It is an impertinence----"

"Do you regard it that way? Karen! Is _this_ what has happened--" He
choked, turned his congested face, glaring about him at the four walls
of the room. Suddenly some instinct of suspicion seized him, possessed
him, brought him to his feet in one bound. And instantly the girl rose,

"I know why you are awake and dressed!" he said harshly. "You _are_
expecting him! Are you?"

She could not answer; her breath had deserted her, and she merely stood
there, one hand resting on the table, her frightened eyes fixed on the
man confronting her.

But at his first step forward she sprang in front of him. She strove to
speak; the infernal blaze in his eyes terrified her.

"Is _this_ what you have done to me?" he said; and moved to pass her,
but she caught his arm, and he halted.

                              CHAPTER XXIV

                           A PERSONAL AFFAIR

"My God!" he said, "it would not surprise me to find him here in the
house!... He _is_ here--or you would never wear a face like that!...
What do you mean to do, block my way in my own house?" as she confronted

"Kurt--" Her white lips merely formed the word.

"_Is_ he here? Answer me!"


"Answer me!"

Behind them a voice broke in quietly: "I'll answer for us all.... Don't
touch that holster, General! I can kill you first.... Now, then, am I to
pass that door without violence?... Because I'm going to pass it one way
or another----"

He came forward, his naked sabre shining in the candle light, his grey
eyes level, cool, and desperate.

Von Reiter stared at this tall young fellow in the gay uniform of the
Guides. His hand, which had instantly moved toward his holster, remained

"I am going out of that door," repeated Guild.

"Will General Baron von Reiter be good enough to move aside?"

The German's eyes narrowed. "So," he said very quietly, "it is not to be
the hand after all, but an exchange of cards. I am not sorry--" With a
movement too swift for the eye to follow, his sword was out and
glittering in his hand, and he sprang on Guild, beating at his guard,
raining blows like lightning.

The girl had fallen against the table, one hand at her throat as though
choking back the bursting cry of fright; her brain rang with the
dissonance and metallic clamour; the flashing steel dazzled her. Two oak
chairs fell crashing as Guild gave ground under the terrific onslaught;
there was not a word spoken, not a sound except the infernal din of the
sabres and the ceaseless shifting of armed heels on the floor.

Suddenly von Reiter went down heavily; the doormat slipping under foot
had flung him to the floor with a crash across a fallen chair. After a
second or two he groaned.

Guild looked down at him, bewildered, sword in hand--watched him as he
struggled to his feet. The German was ghastly white. A fit of coughing
shook him and he tried to disguise it with his hand.

"Pick up your sabre!" motioned Guild.

Von Reiter stooped, recovered his sword, adjusted the hilt to his hand.
He coughed again, and there was a trace of blood on his lips, but his
face was dead white. He looked very steadily at Guild.

"Acknowledgments to the Comte d'Yvoir," he said with an effort; and the
shadow of a smile touched his thin, grim lips.

"Do I pass?" demanded Guild, as grimly.

Von Reiter started to speak, and suddenly his mouth was full of blood.

"Kurt," cried the girl in an agonized voice, "do you mean to kill him or
that he is to kill _you_!--_here_--before my face?"

"I mean--just--that!"

He sprang at Guild again like a tiger, but Guild was on him first, and
the impact hurled von Reiter against the table. His sabre fell
clattering to the floor.

[Illustration: "The impact hurled von Reiter against the table"]

For a moment, white as a corpse, he looked at his opponent with sick
eyes, then, suddenly faint, he slid into the great leather chair. There
was more blood on his lips; Guild, breathing heavily, bent over and
looked at him, ignorant of what had happened.

Karen came and took his hand in hers. Then a slight groan escaped him
and he opened his eyes.

"Are you badly hurt?" asked Guild.

"I'm a little sick, that's all. I think when I fell some ribs broke--or

"I meant fairly by you," said Guild miserably.

"You played fair. It was bad luck--bad luck--that's all." He closed his
pain-sickened eyes: "God, what luck," he mumbled--"really atrocious!"

Guild, still holding his naked sword, drew his automatic with his left
hand. Then he looked silently at Karen.

"Can't you leave the house by the garden?" she whispered tremulously.

"The gate is padlocked."

"Kervyn, they'll kill you if you step out of that door!"

Von Reiter, drowsy with pain, opened his eyes:

"No, they won't," he said. "Be kind enough to speak to my aide. I--I'm
afraid I'm rather--ill."

He glanced at Guild: "Honour of an officer," he added weakly.

Karen stepped to the door and flung it open.

"Captain!" she called sharply.

A moment later the young hussar aide-de-camp who had escorted Guild to
the British lines came clanking in.

He glanced obliquely at Guild and at Karen, but when his eyes fell on
von Reiter he stared, astonished. Nevertheless, his spurred heels
clicked together at salute.

Von Reiter's eyes became ironical. He looked for a moment at his aide,
then his gaze wandered to Karen and to Guild.

"Where do you desire to go?" he asked with an effort.

"To Antwerp."

"The road is still open." And, to the hussar: "Safe conduct for Captain
the Comte d'Yvoir across the railway. Write it now."

"And for my comrade, Mr. Darrel, and ten recruits," said Guild quietly.

"And for his comrade, Mr. Darrel, and ten recruits," repeated von Reiter
in a failing voice. But he was smiling.

"And--for _me_!" said Karen.

Von Reiter's eyes had almost closed; he opened them again, heavily, as
she spoke. Karen bent over him:

"Kurt, I must go. I can not remain here now. Besides--I

"Think well," he said drowsily. "Think diligently--at this
moment--solemn--supreme--" He raised himself a little, then relapsed:
"God," he murmured, "what luck to meet with under your own roof!..."
And, to the hussar: "Write it that Miss Karen Girard goes also--if she
so desires."

There was a silence. The hussar scribbled on the stamped paper in his
tablets. After he had finished he laid the tablets and the fountain pen
on von Reiter's knees. Very slowly the latter affixed his signature.

He said to the hussar: "I am ill. Go to Trois Fontaines and bring me a
medical officer."

When the hussar had gone and when the whirr of the automobile had died
away down the drive, Guild aided the hurt man to a sofa and Karen
brought pillows from a bedroom.

He was very thirsty, too, and she gave him water continually. At
intervals there were slight signs of mental wandering, perhaps symptoms
of pneumonia, from his crushed ribs, for he coughed a great deal and the
fever already reddened his blond skin. But in the main his mind seemed
to be clear. He opened his light-blue eyes and glanced at Guild

"Bad luck, old chap," he said in English, "but no reflection on you.
Just bad luck, bad, very bad! We Germans usually have an ally in God.
But the trinity is incomplete without luck."

Guild said in a low voice: "I am really sorry, von Reiter. I hope you
will come out all right. God knows I bear you no ill will."

"Many thanks. I shall come out all right. There is much work to do." A
ghost of the ironical smile touched his feverish lips again. "And much
work to be done after this business in Europe is settled.... I mean in
America. She must pay her reckoning. She must settle with us Germans....
I wish it might come soon---_now!_--while their present administration
remains--while yet this dull President and his imbecile and grotesque
cabinet ministers are in power.... I beg your pardon--seeing you in that
uniform made me forget that you are also _Mr. Guild_."

But the irony in his wearied eyes made it very plain that he had not

"Karen?" he said presently. She leaned forward in her chair beside him.

"It was just bad luck, very bad luck," he muttered; "but yours is
luck"--he turned his dulled eyes toward Guild--"luck to be envied....
Some day I hope it may be--the hand."

"It is now, if you wish," said Guild.

The other shook his head: "Too soon, too soon," he muttered. "Even a
German officer has his--limits. Between you and my luck I'm in a bad
way--a very bad mess."

Karen bent over his hand and touched it with her lips.

The fever was gaining; he began to roll his blond head from side to
side, muttering of love and luck and of the glory of God and the German
Empire. A slight smile remained on his lips.

Before the automobile arrived from Trois Fontaines the fever seized him
fiercely. His coughing racked him incessantly now, and the first heavy
hemorrhage soaked his grey tunic and undershirt.

They eased him all they could, laying open his broad blond chest and the
ribs now terribly discoloured where his fall had crushed them in again
under the bandage.

How the man could have risen and come at him again Guild could not
understand. He was terribly shocked.

Dreadful sounds came from his laboured breathing; he lay with eyes
closed now, one burning hand lying in Karen's.

Toward four o'clock in the morning a far, faint sound penetrated the

Von Reiter's eyes opened. "Halt!" he whispered. "Who goes there?"

It was Death. He seemed to understand that, for he sighed very lightly,
his hand closed on Karen's, and he lay gazing straight upward with
brilliant eyes.

A few moments later there came a rush, a crunching of gravel, the loud
purr of the motor outside.

Then Karen opened the door and a medical officer entered the room in

Guild turned to Karen: "I must go to the woods and bring in my men and
Darrel. Dearest, are you decided to go with me?"

"I could not remain here now. I do not wish to."

"Then wait for me," he said, and went out into the night.

A few moments later they took von Reiter upstairs to his own room. His
mind seemed to clear again for a while and he said feebly but distinctly
to his aide-de-camp:

"My daughter and her fiancé, the Comte d'Yvoir, are going to Antwerp for
their wedding. I remember that military trains now leave Trois Fontaines
by way of Trois Vierges, Liège, and Lesten. We control to Lesten, I

"Yes, Excellence."

"Write for me that my daughter and the Comte d'Yvoir shall be accorded
transportation as far as we control. You will take them to Trois
Fontaines in my automobile; you will make personal requisition of the
chef-de-gar for the privacy of a compartment. You will affix to the
outside of the compartment a notice that the persons in possession are
travelling on my business and under my personal protection, and that
they are not to be detained or interfered with in any way.... Write it
separately to be affixed." His voice was weak but perfectly distinct.

The hussar wrote steadily in his tablets, finished, and waited.

"Hold them while I sign," whispered von Reiter. He signed both orders.

"Take them now. I shall not need the car. I shall be here a long
time--a--long--time. I am ill. So inform headquarters by telegraph."

"At orders, Excellence."

Von Reiter closed his eyes: "Say to the Comte d'Yvoir that it was--bad
luck--very bad luck.... But not--his fault.... Tell him I
am--contented--that a Gueldres is to marry my--daughter."

The aide saluted. But the sick man said nothing more.

                               * * * * *

Von Reiter was still unconscious when Guild returned from the forest.

Karen met him on the steps; he drew her aside:

"Dear," he whispered, "there has been more violence during my absence.
The Lesse men caught a traitor--a wretched charcoal burner from
Moresnet--prowling about their camp.

"They hung him with his own belt. I saw him hanging to a beech-tree.

"Darrel was greatly worried when I told him that the Courlands had been
forced to continue on to Luxembourg City. He has gone to the hamlet of
Croix to hire a peasant to drive him after them and try to overtake

"As for the others, they will not come to Antwerp with me now. They have
seen 'red' again; and in spite of all I could do they have started back
toward Lesse to 'drive' Uhlans as they saw the wild game driven."

The girl shivered.

Guild made a hopeless gesture: "It means the death of every man among
them. The Uhlans will do the hunting and the driving, not the poor,
half-crazed peasants.... It means the end of Lesse and of every man who
had ever called it home."

The hussar appeared at the door. Guild looked up, returned the precise
salute, and his careworn features softened as he listened to the
instructions and the parting message from the now unconscious officer

There was a silence, then:

"Karen," he said quietly, "are you ready?"


The hussar asked whether there was luggage, and learning that there was
he sent the chauffeur in to bring out Guild's box and Karen's suit-case
and satchel.

The girl ran upstairs to the sick room. They admitted her.

Guild was standing by the car when she returned, a drooping, listless
figure, her handkerchief pressed to her face. He gave her his arm and
aided her into the car. The hussar stepped in beside the chauffeur.

Dawn was just breaking behind the house; the evergreens stood out,
massive and black against the silvering east.

As the car moved slowly out of the gravel circle the first bird

Guild bent over the girl beside him: "Is he still unconscious?"


"Is there any chance?"

"They don't know. It is the lungs. His body is all crushed in----"

She rested her cheek against his shoulder, weeping, as the great grey
car rushed on through the pallour of early dawn.

                              CHAPTER XXV

                            WHO GOES THERE!

Stretched out flat on the seat of a railway carriage, her tear-marred
face buried in her arms, her dishevelled hair tumbled around her neck
and shoulders, Karen lay asleep. In that car all the other compartments
seemed to be full of Saxon reserve artillery officers, their knobbed
helmets shrouded in new grey slips, their new, unwrinkled uniforms
suggestive of a very recent importation from across the Rhine.

Ahead, cattle cars, ore cars, and flat cars composed the long train, the
former filled with battery horses and cannoniers, the latter loaded with
guns, caissons, battery waggons, forges, and camp equipment, all in
brand-new grey paint.

Except when the train stopped at some heavily guarded station, nobody
came to their compartment. But at all stations officers opened the doors
and silently examined Guild's credentials--energetic, quick-moving, but
civil men, who, when the credentials proved acceptable, invariably
saluted his uniform with a correctness impeccable.

Nevertheless, before the train moved out again, always there was a group
of officers gazing in polite perplexity at the green jacket and forage
cap and the cherry-coloured riding breeches of a regiment which, they
were perfectly aware, was already in the saddle against them.

At one station Guild was able to buy bread and cheese and fruit. But
Karen still slept profoundly, and he did not care to awaken her.

From the car windows none of the tragic traces of war were visible
except only the usual clusters of spiked helmets along the line; the
inevitable Uhlans riding amid the landscape; slowly moving waggon-trains
pursuing roads parallel to the railway; brief glimpses of troops
encamped in fields. But nothing of the ravage and desolation which
blackened the land farther south was apparent.

In the latitude of Liège, however, Guild could see from the car windows
the occasional remains of ruined bridges damming small streams; and here
and there roofless and smoke-stained walls, or the blackened debris of
some burnt farm or factory or mill.

But the northern Ardennes did not appear to have suffered very much from
invasion as far as he could make out; and whether the region was heavily
occupied by an invading army he could not determine from the glimpses he
obtained out of the car windows.

The line, however, was vigilantly guarded; that he could see plainly
enough; but the sky-line of the low rolling country on either side might
be the limits of German occupation for all he could determine.

Two nights' constant wakefulness had made him very sleepy. He drowsed
and nodded in his corner by the shaking window, rousing himself at
intervals to cast a watchful glance at Karen.

She still slept like a worn-out child.

In the west the sun was already level with the car windows--a
cherry-hued ball veiled slightly in delicate brown haze. The train had
stopped at a siding in a young woodland. He opened the window to the
fresh, sweet air and looked out at the yellowing autumn leaves which the
setting sun made transparent gold.

It was very still; scarcely a sound except from very high in the air
somewhere came a faint clattering noise. And after a while he turned his
head and looked up at a flight of aeroplanes crossing the line at an
immense height.

Stately, impressive, like a migration of wide-winged hawks, they glided
westward, the red sun touching their undersides with rose. And he
watched them until they became dots, and disappeared one by one in

Presently, along the main track, came rushing a hospital train, the
carriages succeeding one another like flashes of light, vanishing into
perspective with a diminishing roar and leaving in its wake an odour of

Then the train he was on began to move; soldiers along the rails stood
at attention; a company of Uhlans cantered along a parallel road,
keeping pace with the cars for a while. Then the woods closed in again,
thick, shaggy forest land which blotted out the low-hanging sun.

He closed the window, turned and glanced at Karen. She slept. And he lay
back in his corner and closed his haggard eyes.

The next time he opened them the light in the car had become very dim.

Twilight purpled the woods and hills; dusk was arriving swiftly.

It was dark when, at a way station, a soldier opened the door, saluted,
and lighted the lamp in the compartment. The train lay there a long
while; they were unloading horses, cannon and waggons; teams were being
harnessed in the dark, guns limbered, cannoniers mounted, all in perfect
order and with a quiet celerity and an absence of noise and confusion
that fascinated Guild.

Presently, and within a space of time almost incredible, the artillery
moved off into the darkness. He could hear the rhythmical trample of
horses, the crunch of wheels, sabres rattling, the subdued clank and
clatter of a field battery on the march. But he could see no lights,
distinguish no loud voices, no bugle-calls. Now and then a clear whistle
note sounded; now and then a horse snorted, excited by the open air.

The car in which they were was now detached and sidetracked; the long
train backed slowly past and away into the darkness.

And after a while another locomotive came steaming out of the obscurity
ahead; he heard them coupling it to the car in which he sat. The jar did
not awaken Karen.

Presently they were in motion again; the tiled roof of an unlighted
railway station glided past the window; stars appeared, trees, a high
dark hill to the right.

A military guard came through the corridor, lantern in hand, and told
Guild that the car was now entirely empty and at his disposal.

So he rose and went forward where he could look out ahead and see the
dull glow of the smokestack and the ruddy light of the furnace.

For a long while he stood there watching the moving silhouettes of
engineer and fireman. The sombre red light trembled on the rails and
swept the wayside trees or painted with fiery streaks the sides of a cut
or glittered along the rocky wet walls of tunnels.

When at last he went back to the compartment, Karen was sitting up,
twisting her hair into shape.

"Do you feel rested?" he asked cheerfully, seating himself beside her.

"Yes, thank you. Where are we, Kervyn?"

"I don't know."

She was still busy with her hair, but her eyes remained on him.

"Can I do anything for you? Do you need anything?" he asked.

"I seem to need almost everything!" she protested, "including a bath and
a clergyman. Oh, Kervyn, _what_ a wedding journey! Is there anything
about me that resembles a bride? And I'm not even that, yet--just a
crumpled, soiled, disreputable child!"

"You are absolutely adorable just as you are!"

"No! I am unspeakable. And I want to be attractive to you. I really can
be very nice-looking, only you never saw me so----"


"I haven't had any clothes since I first met you!" she said excitedly.
"You know I can scarcely bear it to have you think of me this way. Will
I have time to buy a gown in Antwerp? How long will it take us to marry
each other? Because, of course, I shall not let you ride away with your
regiment until you are my husband."

She flushed again, and the tears sprang to her eyes. It was plain that
her nerves had given way under the long strain.

"Kervyn! Only yesterday war meant almost nothing to me. And look at me
now!--look at the girl you saw in England only a few days ago!--a woman
today!--a wife tomorrow, please God--and the fear of this war already
overwhelming me."

She brushed the starting tears from her eyes; they filled again. She
said miserably: "We women all inherit sorrow, it seems, the moment our
girlhood leaves us. A few days ago I didn't know what it was to be
afraid. Then you came. And with you came friendship. And with friendship
came fear--fear for _you_!... And then, very swiftly, love came; and my
girlhood was gone--gone--like yesterday--leaving me alone in the world
with you and love and war!"

He drew her face against his shoulder:

"This world war is making us all feel a little lonely," he said. "The
old familiar world is already changing under our bewildered eyes. It is
a totally new era which is dawning; a new people is replacing the
inhabitants of earth, born to new thoughts, new ideals, new ambitions.

"I think the old tyranny is already beginning to pass from men's souls
and minds; the old folk-ways, the old and out-worn terrors, the
tinselled dogmas, the old false standards, the universal dread of that
absolute intellectual freedom which alone can make a truly new heaven
and a new earth.

"All this is already beginning to pass away in the awful intellectual
revelation which this world war is making hour by hour.

"What wonder that we feel the approaching change, the apprehension of
that mortal loneliness which must leave us stripped of all that was
familiar while the old order passes--vanishes like mist at dawn."

He bent and touched her hand with his lips:

"But there will be a dawn, Karen. Never doubt it, sweet!"

"Shall our children see it--if God is kind to us?" she whispered.

"Yes. If God is very kind, I think that we shall see it, too."

The girl nodded, pressing her cheek against his, her eyes clear and
sweetly grave.

He said: "No man ever born, since Christ, has dared to be himself. No
woman, either.... I think our children will begin to dare."

She mused, wide-eyed, wondering.

"And he who takes up a sword," he said in a low voice, "shall find
himself alone like a mad dog in a city street, with every living soul
bent upon his extermination.

"Thus will perish emperors and kings. Our children's children shall have
heard of them, marvelling that we had lived to see them pass away into
the mist of fable."

After a while she lifted her face and looked at him out of wistful eyes:

"Meanwhile _you_ fight for them," she said.

"I am of today--a part of the mock mystery and the tarnished tinsel.
That grey old man of Austria quarrels with his neighbour of Servia, and
calls out four million men to do his murders for him. And an Emperor in
white and steel buckles on his winged helmet summons six million more in
the name of God.

"That is a tragedy called 'Today.' But it is the last act, Karen.
Already while we hold the stage the scene shifters are preparing the
drama called 'Tomorrow.'

"Already the last cues are being given; already the company that held
the stage is moving slowly toward the eternal wings. The stage is to be
swept clean; everything must go, toy swords and cannon, crowns and
ermine, the old and battered property god who required a sea of blood
and tears to propitiate him; the old and false idol once worshiped as
Honour, and set upon a pedestal of dead bones. All these must go,
Karen--are already going.... But--I am in the cast of 'Today'; I may
only watch them pass, and play my part until the curtain falls."

They remained silent for a long time. The train had been running very
slowly. Presently it stopped.

Guild rose and went to the door of the compartment, where a lantern
glimmered, held high. Soldiers opened the door; an officer of Guard
Cuirassiers saluted.

"We control the line no farther," he said. "Telegraphic orders direct me
to send you forward with a flag."

"May I ask where we are?" said Guild.

"Not far from Antwerp. Will you aid Madam to descend? Time presses. We
have a motor car at your disposal."

He turned, aided Karen to the wooden platform, which was thronged with
heavy cavalrymen, then lifted out their luggage, which a soldier in
fatigue cap took.

"There was also a box," said Guild to the officer of Cuirassiers.

"It is already in the tonneau." He drew a telegram from his pocket and
handed it to Guild, and the young man read it under the flickering
lantern light:


    I am told that I shall recover. It has been, so far, between us,
    only the sword; but I trust, one day, it shall be the hand. Luck
    was against me. Not your fault.

    I send to you and to my daughter my respect and my good will.
    Until a more auspicious day, then, and without rancour.

                                  Your friend the enemy,
                                         VON REITER, Maj.-Gen'l.

Karen, reading over his shoulder, pressed his arm convulsively. Tears
filled her eyes, but she was smiling.

"May we send a wire?" asked Guild of the officer.

An orderly came with pencil and telegraph blank. Guild wrote:

    We are happy to learn that you are to recover. Gratitude,
    respect, salute from me; from her, gratitude and love. It will
    always be the hand. May the auspicious day come quickly.

                                        GUELDRES, Capt. Reserve.

The orderly took the blank; Guild returned the salute of the Cuirassier
and followed the soldier who was carrying their luggage.

An automobile stood there, garnished with two white lanterns and a pair
of white flags.

A moment later they were speeding through the darkness out across a vast
dim plain.

An officer sat in the front seat beside a military chauffeur; behind
them, on a rumble, was seated a cavalryman.

In a few minutes the first challenge came; they stopped; helmeted
figures clustered around them, a few words were whispered, then on they
rolled, slowly, until there came another challenge, another delay; and
others followed in succession as the tall phantoms of Uhlans loomed up
around them in the night.

Two of these lancers wheeled and accompanied the automobile at a canter.
One of the riders was a trumpeter; and very soon the car halted and the
Uhlan set his trumpet to his lips and sounded it.

Almost immediately a distant bugle answered. The cavalryman on the
rumble stood up, hung one of the lanterns to a white flag, and waved it
slowly to and fro. Then the mounted Uhlan tied the flag to his
lance-tip, hung the lantern to it, and raised it high in the air.
Already the chauffeur had piled their luggage by the roadside; the
officer got out, came around, and opened the door. As Karen descended he
gave her his arm, then saluted and sprang to his place. The car backed
in a half circle, turned, backed again, swung clear around, and went
humming away into the darkness.

From the shadowy obscurity ahead came the trample of horses.

"Halt! Who goes there?" cried the mounted lancer.

"Parlementaire with a flag!"

The Uhlan trumpeter sounded the parley again, then, reversing his
trumpet, reined in and sat like a statue, as half a dozen cloaked riders
walked their horses up under the rays of the lantern which dangled from
the Uhlan's lifted lance.

A cavalryman wearing a jaunty Belgian forage cap leaned from his saddle
and looked earnestly at Guild.

"Who is this, if you please?" he asked curiously.

"Reserve cavalry officer and his wife," said the Uhlan crisply. "Orders
are to deliver them to you."

The Belgian lieutenant had already recognized the uniform of the Guides;
so had the other cavalrymen; and now they were hastily dismounting and
leading their horses forward.

"Karen," said Guild unsteadily, "it's my own regiment!" And he stepped
forward and took the lieutenant's hands in both of his. His features
were working; he could not speak, but the troopers seemed to understand.

They gave Karen a horse; Guild lifted her to the saddle, shortened the
stirrup, and set her sideways.

They offered him another horse, but he shook his head, flung one arm
over Karen's saddle and walked on slowly beside her stirrup.

Behind them the clatter of retreating hoofs marked the return of the
Uhlans. From somewhere in the darkness a farm cart rumbled up and
cavalrymen lifted in their luggage.

Now, under the clustered planets the cart and the troopers moved off
over a wide, smooth road across the plain.

And last of all came Karen with Guild on foot beside her.

[Illustration: "And last of all came Karen with Guild on foot beside

Her horse stepped slowly, cautiously; her slim hand lay on her lover's
shoulder, his arm was around her, and his cheek rested against her

All the world was before them now, with all that it can ever hold for
the sons of men--the eternal trinity, inexorable, unchangeable--Death,
and Life, and Love.

                              CHAPTER XXVI

                               AMICUS DEI


  _Through the April meadows ambling
  Where the new born lambs are gamb'ling
  Cometh May and vanisheth;--
  Cometh lovely June a-rambling;--
  July follows out of breath
  Scattering the playful swallows;
  On her heels a Shepherd follows,
  All dolled up like Old Man Death._


  _While he capers, pipes, and prances,
  Meadows wither where he dances;
  Suddenly the sunshine ends!
  Shrinking from his grinning glances,
  Every blossom wilts and bends.
  Spectral forests rise and tower,
  Bursting into crimson flower,
  And an iron rain descends._


  _Shepherd, Shepherd, lithely whirling,
  To your screaming pipes a-skirling,_
  _Tell me why you blithely dance?
  But the shrilling tempest, hurling
  Shrivelled blossoms of Romance,
  Answered: "Help! For Christ is dying!"
  And I heard the pipes replying:
  "Let the Friend of God advance!"_


  Prince of the Vanguard, armed from head to heel,
  And reassuring God amid your bayonets
  Where the Imperial standard frets
  And the sun sets
  Across five million marching acolytes in steel,
  Red looms a ruined world against the West,
  Red lie its dead beneath your sombre crest,
  And redly drips your sword
  And the lances of your horde
  Where all things died, the loveliest and best.
  In this dead land there stirs no pulse, no breath,
  For, where you ride, on your right hand rides Death.


  God's ally, self-ordained to wield His rod,
  Trampling His will into the heretics,
  Leveling their shrines to heaps of bricks,
  How the red stain sticks
  To the ten million pair of boots that plod!
  Quickly on Him your Iron Cross bestow
  That He may wash you whiter than the snow.


  Prince of the Vanguard, heed no bleeding clod
  Left on the reeking sod among your myrmidons
  Where the anathema of your Huns
  Hurled from iron guns
  Dashes a million frightened souls to God!
  Bright shines the promise of the Prince of Peace:
  "Sheer you My sheep; garner their fleece,"--
  Or was it "feed" He said?
  Too late! His sheep are dead.
  All things must die, and even Death shall cease.
  Then the Almighty on His throne may nod
  Unvexed by martyrs importuning God.

                                THE END

                           Transcriber Notes:

Passages in italics were indicated by _underscores_.

Small caps were replaced with ALL CAPS.

Throughout the dialogues, there were words used to mimic accents of
the speakers. Those words were retained as-is.

The illustrations have been moved so that they do not break up
paragraphs and so that they are next to the text they illustrate. Thus
the page number of the illustration might not match the page number in
the List of Illustrations, and the order of illustrations may not be the
same in the List of Illustrations and in the book.

Errors in punctuations and inconsistent hyphenation were not corrected
unless otherwise noted.

On page 5, "aid" was replaced with "aide".

On page 41, "night table" was replaced with "night-table".

On page 63, a period was added after "studying her face".

On page 63, a period was added after "roots of her hair".

On page 76, a period was added after "he said".

On page 78, "satched" was replaced with "satchel".

On page 104, "whisperd" was replaced with "whispered".

On page 111, two periods were replaced with one.

On page 131, a quotation mark was added after "9--18--4--19.".

On page 160, "had came" was replaced with "had come".

On page 182, a period was added after "courage nor intellect".

On page 205, a period was added after "her chin meditatively".

On page 274, a quotation mark was added after "I remember."

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