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Title: Temporal Power: A Study in Supremacy
Author: Corelli, Marie
Language: English
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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.

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By Marie Corelli






































“In the beginning,” so we are told, “God made the heavens and the

The statement is simple and terse; it is evidently intended to be wholly
comprehensive. Its decisive, almost abrupt tone would seem to forbid
either question or argument. The old-world narrator of the sublime event
thus briefly chronicled was a poet of no mean quality, though moved by
the natural conceit of man to give undue importance to the earth as his
own particular habitation. The perfect confidence with which he explains
‘God’ as making ‘two great lights, the greater light to rule the day,
the lesser light to rule the night,’ is touching to the verge of pathos;
and the additional remark which he throws in, as it were casually,--‘He
made the stars also,’ cannot but move us to admiration. How childlike
the simplicity of the soul which could so venture to deal with the
inexplicable and tremendous problem of the Universe! How self-centred
and sure the faith which could so arrange the work of Infinite and
Eternal forces to suit its own limited intelligence! It is easy and
natural to believe that ‘God,’ or an everlasting Power of Goodness and
Beauty called by that name, ‘created the heavens and the earth,’ but one
is often tempted to think that an altogether different and rival element
must have been concerned in the making of Man. For the heavens and the
earth are harmonious; man is a discord. And not only is he a discord in
himself, but he takes pleasure in producing and multiplying discords.
Often, with the least possible amount of education, and on the slightest
provocation, he mentally sets Himself, and his trivial personal opinion
on religion, morals, and government, in direct opposition to the
immutable laws of the Universe, and the attitude he assumes towards the
mysterious Cause and Original Source of Life is nearly always one of
three things; contradiction, negation, or defiance. From the first to
the last he torments himself with inventions to outwit or subdue Nature,
and in the end dies, utterly defeated. His civilizations, his dynasties,
his laws, his manners, his customs, are all doomed to destruction and
oblivion as completely as an ant-hill which exists one night and is
trodden down the next. Forever and forever he works and plans in vain;
forever and forever Nature, the visible and active Spirit of God, rises
up and crushes her puny rebel.

There must be good reason for this ceaseless waste of human life,--this
constant and steady obliteration of man’s attempts, since there can be
no Effect without Cause. It is, as if like children at a school, we were
set a certain sum to do, and because we blunder foolishly over it
and add it up to a wrong total, it is again and again wiped off
the blackboard, and again and again rewritten for our more careful
consideration. Possibly the secret of our failure to conquer Nature lies
in ourselves, and our own obstinate tendency to work in only one groove
of what we term ‘advancement,’--namely our material self-interest.
Possibly we might be victors if we would, even to the very vanquishment
of Death!

So many of us think,--and so thought one man of sovereign influence
in this world’s affairs as, seated on the terrace of a Royal palace
fronting seaward, he pondered his own life’s problem for perhaps the
thousandth time.

“What is the use of thinking?” asked a wit at the court of Louis
XVI. “It only intensifies the bad opinion you have of others,--or of

He found this saying true. Thinking is a pernicious habit in which very
great personages are not supposed to indulge; and in his younger days he
had avoided it. He had allowed the time to take him as it found him, and
had gone with it unresistingly wherever it had led. It was the best way;
the wisest way; the way Solomon found most congenial, despite its end
in ‘vanity and vexation of spirit.’ But with the passing of the years a
veil had been dropped over that path of roses, hiding it altogether from
his sight; and another veil rose inch by inch before him, disclosing
a new and less joyous prospect on which he was not too-well-pleased to

The sea, stretching out in a broad shining expanse opposite to him,
sparkled dancingly in the warm sunshine, and the snowy sails of many
yachts and pleasure-boats dipped now and again into the glittering waves
like white birds skimming over the tiny flashing foam-crests. Dazzling
and well-nigh blinding to his eyes were the burning glow and exquisite
radiance of colour which seemed melted like gold and sapphire into
that bright half-circle of water and sky,--beautiful, and full of a
dream-like evanescent quality, such as marks all the loveliest scenes
and impressions of our life on earth. There was a subtle scent of
violets in the air,--and a gardener, cutting sheafs of narcissi from the
edges of the velvety green banks which rolled away in smooth undulations
upward from the terrace to the wider extent of the palace pleasaunce
beyond, scattered such perfume with his snipping shears as might have
lured another Proserpine from Hell. Cluster after cluster of white
blooms, carefully selected for the adornment of the Royal apartments,
he laid beside him on the grass, not presuming to look in the direction
where that other Workman in the ways of life sat silent and absorbed in
thought. That other, in his own long-practised manner, feigned not to
be aware of his dependant’s proximity,--and in this fashion they
twain--human beings made of the same clay and relegated, to the same
dust--gave sport to the Fates by playing at Sham with Heaven and
themselves. Custom, law, and all the paraphernalia of civilization, had
set the division and marked the boundary between them,--had forbidden
the lesser in world’s rank to speak to the greater, unless the greater
began conversation,--had equally forbidden the greater to speak to the
lesser lest such condescension should inflate the lesser’s vanity so
much as to make him obnoxious to his fellows. Thus,--of two men, who,
if left to nature would have been merely--men, and sincere enough at
that,--man himself had made two pretenders,--the one as gardener, the
other as--King! The white narcissi lying on the grass, and preparing to
die sweetly, like sacrificed maiden-victims of the flower-world,
could turn true faces to the God who made them,--but the men at
that particular moment of time had no real features ready for God’s
inspection,--only masks.

“C’est mon metier d’être Roi!” So said one of the many dead and gone
martyrs on the rack of sovereignty. Alas, poor soul, thou would’st
have been happier in any other ‘métier’ I warrant! For kingship is a
profession which cannot be abandoned for a change of humour, or cast
aside in light indifference and independence because a man is bored by
it and would have something new. It is a routine and drudgery to which
some few are born, for which they are prepared, to which they must
devote their span of life, and in which they must die. “How shall we
pass the day?” asked a weary Roman emperor, “I am even tired of killing
my enemies!”

‘Even’ that! And the strangest part of it is, that there are people who
would give all their freedom and peace of mind to occupy for a few
years an uneasy throne, and who actually live under the delusion that a
monarch is happy!

The gardener soon finished his task of cutting the narcissi, and though
he might not, without audacity, look at his Sovereign-master, his
Sovereign-master looked at him, furtively, from under half-closed
eyelids, watching him as he bound the blossoms together carefully, with
the view of giving as little trouble as possible to those whose duty
it would be to arrange them for the Royal pleasure. His work done, he
walked quickly, yet with a certain humble stealthiness,--thus admitting
his consciousness of that greater presence than his own,--down a broad
garden walk beyond the terrace towards a private entrance to the palace,
and there disappeared.

The King was left alone,--or apparently so, for to speak truly, he was
never alone. An equerry, a page-in-waiting,--or what was still more
commonplace as well as ominous, a detective,--lurked about him, ever
near, ever ready to spring on any unknown intruder, or to answer his
slightest call.

But to the limited extent of the solitude allowed to kings, this man
was alone,--alone for a brief space to consider, as he had informed
his secretary, certain documents awaiting his particular and private

The marble pavilion in which he sat had been built by his father, the
late King, for his own pleasure, when pleasure was more possible than it
is now. Its slender Ionic columns, its sculptured friezes, its painted
ceilings, all expressed a gaiety, grace and beauty gone from the world,
perchance for ever. Open on three sides to the living picture of the
ocean, crimson and white roses clambered about it, and tall plume-like
mimosa shook fragrance from its golden blossoms down every breath of
wind. The costly table on which this particular Majesty of a nation
occasionally wrote his letters, would, if sold, have kept a little town
in food for a year,--the rich furs at his feet would have bought bread
for hundreds of starving families,--and every delicious rose that nodded
its dainty head towards him with the breeze would have given an hour’s
joy to a sick child. Socialists say this kind of thing with wildly
eloquent fervour, and blame all kings in passionate rhodomontade for the
tables, the furs and the roses,--but they forget--it is not the sad
and weary kings who care for these or any luxuries,--they would be far
happier without them. It is the People who insist on having kings that
should be blamed,--not the monarchs themselves. A king is merely the
people’s Prisoner of State,--they chain him to a throne,--they make
him clothe himself in sundry fantastic forms of attire and exhibit his
person thus decked out, for their pleasure,--they calculate, often with
greed and grudging, how much it will cost to feed him and keep him in
proper state on the national premises, that they may use him at their
will,--but they seldom or never seem to remember the fact that there is
a Man behind the King!

It is not easy to govern nowadays, since there is no real autocracy,
and no strong soul likely to create one. But the original idea of
sovereignty was grand and wise;--the strongest man and bravest, raised
aloft on shields and bucklers with warrior cries of approval from the
people who voluntarily chose him as their leader in battle,--their
utmost Head of affairs. Progress has demolished this ideal, with many
others equally fine and inspiring; and now all kings are so, by right of
descent merely. Whether they be infirm or palsied, weak or wise, sane or
crazed, still are they as of old elected; only no more as the Strongest,
but simply as the Sign-posts of a traditional bygone authority. This
King however, here written of, was not deficient in either mental or
physical attributes. His outward look and bearing betokened him as far
more fit to be lifted in triumph on the shoulders of his battle-heroes,
a real and visible Man, than to play a more or less cautiously inactive
part in the modern dumb-show of Royalty. Well-built and muscular, with
a compact head regally poised on broad shoulders, and finely formed
features which indicated in their firm modelling strong characteristics
of pride, indomitable resolution and courage, he had an air of rare and
reposeful dignity which made him much more impressive as a personality
than many of his fellow-sovereigns. His expression was neither foolish
nor sensual,--his clear dark grey eyes were sane and steady in their
regard and had no tricks of shiftiness. As an ordinary man of the
people his appearance would have been distinctive,--as a King, it was

He had of course been called handsome in his childhood,--what heir to a
Throne ever lived that was not beautiful, to his nurse at least?--and in
his early youth he had been grossly flattered for his cleverness as well
as his good looks. Every small attempt at witticism,--every poor joke he
could invent, adapt or repeat, was laughed at approvingly in a chorus of
admiration by smirking human creatures, male and female, who bowed
and bobbed up and down before the lad like strange dolphins disporting
themselves on dry land. Whereat he grew to despise the dolphins, and
no wonder. When he was about seventeen or eighteen he began to ask odd
questions of one of his preceptors, a learned and ceremonious personage
who, considering the extent of his certificated wisdom, was yet so
singularly servile of habit and disposition that he might have won a
success on the stage as Chief Toady in a burlesque of Court life. He was
a pale, thin old man, with a wizened face set well back amid wisps of
white hair, and a scraggy throat which asserted its working muscles
visibly whenever he spoke, laughed or took food. His way of shaking
hands expressed his moral flabbiness in the general dampness, looseness
and limpness of the act,--not that he often shook hands with his pupil,
for though that pupil was only a boy made of ordinary flesh and blood
like other boys, he was nevertheless heir to a Throne, and in strict
etiquette even friendly liberties were not to be too frequently taken
with such an Exalted little bit of humanity. The lad himself, however,
had a certain mischievous delight in making him perform this courtesy,
and being young and vigorous, would often squeeze the old gentleman’s
hesitating fingers in his strong clasp so energetically as to cause him
the severest pain. Student of many philosophies as he was, the worthy
pedagogue would have cried out, or sworn profane oaths in his agony, had
it been any other than the ‘Heir-Apparent’ who thus made him wince with
torture,--but as matters stood, he merely smiled--and bore it. The young
rascal of a prince smiled too,--taking note of his obsequious hypocrisy,
which served an inquiring mind with quite as good a field for
logical speculation as any problem in Euclid. And he went on with his
questions,--questions, which if not puzzling, were at least irritating
enough to have secured him a rap on the knuckles from his tutor’s cane,
had he been a grocer’s lad instead of the eldest son of a Royal house.

“Professor,” he said on one occasion, “What is man?”

“Man,” replied the professor sedately, “is an intelligent and reasoning
being, evolved by natural processes of creation into his present
condition of supremacy.”

“What is Supremacy?”

“The state of being above, or superior to, the rest of the animal

“And is he so superior?”

“He is generally so admitted.”

“Is my father a man?”

“Assuredly! The question is superfluous.”

“What makes him a King?”

“Royal birth and the hereditary right to his great position.”

“Then if man is in a condition of supremacy over the rest of creation, a
king is more than a man if he is allowed to rule men?”

“Sir, pardon me!--a king is not more than a man, but men choose him as
their ruler because he is worthy.”

“In what way is he worthy? Simply because he is born as I am, heir to a


“He might be an idiot or a cripple, a fool or a coward,--he would still
be King?”

“Most indubitably.”

“So that if he were a madman, he would continue to hold supremacy over a
nation, though his groom might be sane?”

“Your Royal Highness pursues the question with an unwise
flippancy;”--remonstrated the professor with a pained, forced smile.
“If an idiot or a madman were unfortunately born to a throne, a regency
would be appointed to control state affairs, but the heir would, in
spite of natural incapability, remain the lawful king.”

“A strange sovereignty!” said the young prince carelessly. “And a still
stranger patience in the people who would tolerate it! Yet over all
men,--kings, madmen, and idiots alike,--there is another ruling force,
called God?”

“There is a force,” admitted the professor dubiously--“But in the
present forward state of things it would not be safe to attempt to
explain the nature of that force, and for the benefit of the illiterate
masses we call it God. A national worship of something superior to
themselves has always been proved politic and necessary for the people.
I have not at any time resolved myself as to why it should be so; but so
it is.”

“Then man, despite his ‘supremacy’ must have something more supreme than
himself to keep him in order, if it be only a fetish wherewith to tickle
his imagination?” suggested the prince with a touch of satire,--“Even
kings must bow, or pretend to bow, to the King of kings?”

“Sir, you have expressed the fact with felicity;” replied the professor
gravely--“His Majesty, your august father, attends public worship with
punctilious regularity, and you are accustomed to accompany him. It is a
rule which you will find necessary to keep in practice, as an example to
your subjects when you are called upon to reign.”

The young man raised his eyebrows deprecatingly, with a slight ironical
smile, and dropped the subject. But the learned professor as in duty
bound, reported the conversation to his pupil’s father; with the
additional observation that he feared, he very humbly and respectfully
feared, that the developing mind of the prince appeared undesirably
disposed towards discursive philosophies, which were wholly unnecessary
for the position he was destined to occupy. Whereupon the King took his
son to task on the subject with a mingling of kindness and humour.

“Do not turn philosopher!” he said--“For philosophy will not so much
content you with life, as with death! Philosophy will chill your best
impulses and most generous enthusiasms,--it will make you over-cautious
and doubtful of your friends,--it will cause you to be indifferent to
women in the plural, but it will hand you over, a weak and helpless
victim to the _one_ woman,--when she comes,--as she is bound to come.
There is no one so hopelessly insane as a philosopher in love! Love
women, but not _a_ woman!”

“In so doing I should follow the wisest of examples,--yours, Sir!”
 replied the prince with a familiarity more tender than audacious, for
his father was a man of fine presence and fascinating manner, and
knew well the extent of his power to charm and subjugate the fairer
sex,--“But I have a fancy that love,--if it exists anywhere outside the
dreams of the poets,--is unknown to kings.”

The monarch bent his brows frowningly, and his eyes were full of a deep
and bitter melancholy.

“You mistake!” he said slowly--“Love,--and by that name I mean a wholly
different thing from Passion,--comes to kings as to commoners,--but
whereas the commoner may win it if he can, the king must reject it. But
it comes,--and leaves a blank in the proudest life when it goes!”

He turned away abruptly, and the conversation was not again resumed. But
when he died, those who prepared his body for burial, found a gold chain
round his neck, holding the small medallion portrait of a woman, and a
curl of soft fair hair. Needless to say the portrait was not that of the
late Queen-Consort, who had died some years before her Royal spouse, nor
was the hair hers,--but when they brought the relic to the new King, he
laid it back with his own hands on his father’s lifeless breast, and let
it go into the grave with him. For, being no longer the crowned Servant
of the State, he had the right as a mere dead man, to the possession of
his love-secret.

So at least thought his son and successor, who at times was given to
wondering whether if, like his father, he had such a secret he would
be able to keep it as closely and as well. He thought not. It would be
scarcely worth while. It can only be the greatest love that is always
silent,--and in the greatest,--that is, the ideal and self-renouncing
love,--he did not believe; though in his own life’s experience he had
been given a proof that such love is possible to women, if not to men.
When he was about twenty, he had loved, or had imagined he loved, a
girl,--a pretty creature, who did not know him as a prince at all,
but simply as a college student. He used to walk with her hand in hand
through the fields by the river, and gather wild flowers for her to
wear in her little white bodice. She had shy soft eyes, and a timid, yet
trusting look, full of tenderness and pathos. Moved by a romantic sense
of honour and chivalry, he promised to marry her, and thereupon wrote an
impulsive letter to his father informing him of his intention. Of course
he was summoned home from college at once,--he was reminded of his high
destiny--of the Throne that would be his if he lived to occupy it,--of
the great and serious responsibilities awaiting him,--and of how
impossible it was that the Heir-Apparent to the Crown should marry a

“Why not?” he cried passionately--“If she be good and true she is as fit
to be a queen as any woman royally born! She is a queen already in her
own right!”

But while he was being argued with and controlled by all the authorities
concerned in king’s business, his little sweetheart herself put an end
to the matter. Her parents told her all unpreparedly, and with no doubt
unnecessary harshness, the real position of the college lad with whom
she had wandered in the fields so confidingly; and in the bewilderment
of her poor little broken heart and puzzled brain, she gave herself
to the river by whose flowering banks she had sworn her maiden
vows,--though she knew it not,--to her future King; and so, drowning her
life and love together, made a piteous exit from all difficulty. Before
she went forth to die, she wrote a farewell to her Royal lover, posting
the letter herself on her way to the river, and, by the merest chance he
received it without a spy’s intervention. It was but one line, scrawled
in a round youthful hand, and blotted with many tears.

“Sir--my love!--forgive me!”

It would be unwise to say what that little scrap of ill-formed writing
cost the heir to a throne when he heard how she had died,--or how he
raged and swore and wept. It was the first Wrong forced on him as Right,
by the laws of the realm; and he was young and generous and honest, and
not hardened to those laws then. Their iniquity and godlessness appeared
to him in plain ugly colours undisguised. Since that time he had
perforce fallen into the habit and routine of his predecessors, though
he was not altogether so ‘constitutional’ a sovereign as his father had
been. He had something of the spirit of one who had occupied his throne
five hundred years before him; when strength and valour and wit and
boldness, gave more kings to the world than came by heritage. He did
unconventional things now and then; to the grief of flunkeys, and the
alarm of Court parasites. But his kingdom was of the South, where hot
blood is recognized and excused, and fiery temper more admired than
censured, and where,--so far as social matters went,--his word, whether
kind, cold, or capricious, was sufficient to lead in any direction that
large flock of the silly sheep of fashion who only exist to eat, and
to be eaten. Sometimes he longed to throw himself back into bygone
centuries and stand as his earliest ancestor stood, sword in hand, on
a height overlooking the battle-field, watching the swaying rush of
combat,--the glitter of spears and axes--the sharp flight of arrows--the
tossing banners, the grinding chariots, the flying dust and carnage
of men! There was something to fight for in those days,--there was
no careful binding up of wounds,--no provision for the sick or the
mutilated,--nothing, nothing, but ‘Victory or Death!’ How much grander,
how much finer the old fierce ways of war than now, when any soldier
wounded, may write the details of his bayonet-scratch or bullet-hole
to the cheap press, and the surgeon prys about with Rontgen-ray
paraphernalia and scalpel, to discover how much or how little escape
from dissolution a man’s soul has had in the shock of contest with his
foe! Of a truth these are paltry days!--and paltry days breed paltry
men. Afraid of sickness, afraid of death, afraid of poverty, afraid of
offences, afraid to think, afraid to speak, Man in the present era
of his boasted ‘progress’ resembles nothing so much as a whipped
child,--cowering under the outstretched arm of Heaven and waiting in
whimpering terror for the next fall of the scourge. And it is on this
point especially, that the monarch who takes part in this unhesitating
chronicle of certain thoughts and movements hidden out of sight,--yet
deeply felt in the under-silences of the time,--may claim to be
unconventional;--he was afraid of nothing,--not even of himself as King!



The little episode of his first love, combined with his ungovernable
fury and despair at its tragic conclusion, had of course the natural
result common in such a case, to the fate of all who are destined to
occupy thrones. A marriage was ‘arranged’ for him; and pressing reasons
of state were urged for the quick enforcement and carrying out of the
‘arrangement.’ The daughter of a neighbouring potentate was elected
to the honour of his alliance,--a beautiful girl with a pale, cold
clear-cut face and brilliant eyes, whose smile penetrated the soul with
an icy chill, and whose very movement, noiseless and graceful as it was,
reminded one irresistibly of slowly drifting snow. She was attended
to the altar, as he was, by all the ministers and plenipotentiaries of
state that could possibly be gathered together from the four quarters of
the globe as witnesses to the immolation of two young human lives on
the grim sacrificial stone of a Dynasty; and both prince and princess
accepted their fate with mutually silent and civil resignation. Their
portraits, set facing each other with a silly smile, or taken in
a linked arm-in-arm attitude against a palatial canvas background,
appeared in every paper published throughout the world, and every
scribbler on the Press took special pains to inform the easily
deluded public that the Royal union thus consummated was ‘a romantic
love-match.’ For the People still have heart and conscience,--the
People, taken in the rough lump of humanity, still believe in love, in
faith, in the dear sweetness of home affections. The politicians who
make capital out of popular emotion, know this well enough,--and are
careful to play the tune of their own personal interest upon the gamut
of National Sentiment in every stump oration. For how terrible it
would be if the People of any land learned to judge their preachers and
teachers by the lines of fact alone! Inasmuch as fact would convincingly
prove to them that their leaders prospered and grew rich, while they
stayed poor; and they might take to puzzling out reasons for this
inadequacy which would inevitably cause trouble. For this, and divers
other motives politic, the rosy veil of sentiment is always
delicately flung more or less over every new move on the national
debating-ground,--and whether marriageable princes and princesses love
or loathe each other, still, when they come to wed, the words ‘romantic
love-match’ must be thrown in by an obliging Press in order to satisfy
the tender scruples of a people who would certainly not abide the
thought of a Royal marriage contracted in mutual aversion. Thus much
soundness and right principle there is at least, in what some superfine
persons call the ‘common’ folk,--the folk whose innermost sense of truth
and straightforwardness, not even the proudest statesman dare outrage.

But with what unuttered and unutterable scorn the youthful victims
of the Royal pairing accepted the newspaper-assurances of the devoted
tenderness they entertained for each other! With what wearied
impatience both prince and princess received the ‘Wedding Odes’ and
‘Epithalamiums,’ written by first-class and no-class versifiers for the
occasion! What shoals of these were cast aside unread, to occupy the
darkest dingiest corner of one of the Royal ‘refuse’ libraries! The
writers of such things expected great honours, no doubt, each and every
man-jack of them,--but apart from the fact that the greatest literature
has always lived without any official recognition or endowment from
kings,--being in itself the supremest sovereignty,--poets and rhymesters
alike never seem to realize that no one is, or can be, so sickened by an
‘Ode’ as the man or woman to whom it is written!

The brilliant marriage ceremony concluded, the august bride and
bridegroom took their departure, amid frantically cheering crowds, for
a stately castle standing high among the mountains, a truly magnificent
pile, which had been placed at their disposal for the ‘honeymoon’ by
one of the wealthiest of the King’s subjects,--and there, as soon as
equerries, grooms-in-waiting, flunkeys, and every other sort of indoor
and outdoor retainer would consent to leave them alone together, the
Royal wife came to her Royal husband, and asked to be allowed to speak
a few words on the subject of their marriage, ‘for the first and last
time,’ said she, with a straight glance from the cold moonlight mystery
of her eyes. Beautiful at all times, her beauty was doubly enhanced by
the regal attitude and expression she unconsciously assumed as she made
the request, and the prince, critically studying her form and features,
could not but regard himself as in some respects rather particularly
favoured by the political and social machinery which had succeeded in
persuading so fair a creature to resign herself to the doubtful destiny
of a throne. She had laid aside her magnificent bridal-robes of ivory
satin and cloth-of-gold,--and appeared before him in loose draperies of
floating white, with her rich hair unbound and rippling to her knees.

“May I speak?” she murmured, and her voice trembled.

“Most assuredly!”--he replied, half smiling--“You do me too much honour
by requesting the permission!”

As he spoke, he bowed profoundly, but she, raising her eyes, fixed them
full upon him with a strange look of mingled pride and pain.

“Do not,” she said, “let us play at formalities! Let us be honest
with each other for to-night at least! All our life together must from
henceforth be more or less of a masquerade, but let us for to-night be
as true man and true woman, and frankly face the position into which we
have been thrust, not by ourselves, but by others.”

Profoundly astonished, the prince was silent. He had not thought this
girl of nineteen possessed any force of character or any intellectual
power of reasoning. He had judged her as no doubt glad to become a great
princess and a possible future queen, and he had not given her credit
for any finer or higher feeling.

“You know,”--she continued--“you must surely know--” here, despite the
strong restraint she put upon herself, her voice broke, and her slight
figure swayed in its white draperies as if about to fall. She looked at
him with a sense of rising tears in her throat,--tears of which she
was ashamed,--for she was full of a passionate emotion too strong for
weeping--a contempt of herself and of him, too great for mere clamour.
Was he so much of a man in the slow thick density of his brain she
thought, as to have no instinctive perception of her utter misery? He
hastened to her and tried to take her hands, but she drew herself away
from him and sank down in a chair as if exhausted.

“You are tired!” he said kindly--“The tedious ceremonial--the still more
tedious congratulations,--and the fatiguing journey from the capital to
this place have been too much for your strength. You must rest!”

“It is not that!”--she answered--“not that! I am not tired,--but--but--I
cannot say my prayers tonight till you know my whole heart!”

A curious reverence and pity moved him. All day long he had been in
a state of resentful irritation,--he had loathed himself for having
consented to marry this girl without loving her,--he had branded himself
inwardly as a liar and hypocrite when he had sworn his marriage vows
‘before God,’ whereas if he truly believed in God, such vows taken
untruthfully were mere blasphemy;--and now she herself, a young thing
tenderly brought up like a tropical flower in the enervating hot-house
atmosphere of Court life, yet had such a pure, deep consciousness of God
in her, that she actually could not pray with the slightest blur of a
secret on her soul! He waited wonderingly.

“I have plighted my faith to you before God’s altar to-day,” she said,
speaking more steadily,--“because after long and earnest thought, I saw
that there was no other way of satisfying the two nations to which we
belong, and cementing the friendly relations between them. There is
no woman of Royal birth,--so it has been pointed out to me--who is so
suitable, from a political point of view, to be your wife as I. It is
for the sake of your Throne and country that you must marry--and I
ask God to forgive me if I have done wrong in His sight by wedding
you simply for duty’s sake. My father, your father, and all who are
connected with our two families desire our union, and have assured
me that, it is right and good for me to give up my life to yours. All
women’s lives must be martyred to the laws made by men,--or so it seems
to me,--I cannot expect to escape from the general doom apportioned to
my sex. I therefore accept the destiny which transfers me to you as a
piece of human property for possession and command,--I accept it freely,
but I will not say gladly, because that would not be true. For I do not
love you,--I cannot love you! I want you to know that, and to feel it,
that you may not ask from me what I cannot give.”

There were no tears in her eyes; she looked at him straightly and
steadfastly. He, in his turn, met her gaze fully,--his face had paled
a little, and a shadow of pained regret and commiseration darkened his
handsome features.

“You love someone else?” he asked, softly.

She rose from her chair and confronted him, a glow of passionate pride
flushing her cheeks and brow.

“No!” she said--“I would not be a traitor to you in so much as
a thought! Had I loved anyone else I would never have married
you,--no!--though you had been ten times a prince and king! No! You
do not understand. I come to you heartwhole and passionless, without
a single love-word chronicled in my girlhood’s history, or a single
incident you may not know. I have never loved any man, because from
my very childhood I have hated and feared all men! I loathe their
presence--their looks--their voices--their manners,--if one should touch
my hand in ordinary courtesy, my instincts are offended and revolted,
and the sense of outrage remains with me for days. My mother knows of
this, and says I am ‘unnatural,’--it may be so. But unnatural or not, it
is the truth; judge therefore the extent of the sacrifice I make to God
and our two countries in giving myself to you!”

The prince stood amazed and confounded. Did she rave? Was she mad?
He studied her with a curious, half-doubting scrutiny, and noted the
composure of her attitude, the cold serenity of her expression,--there
was evidently no hysteria, no sur-excitation of nerves about this calm
statuesque beauty which in every line and curve of loveliness silently
mutinied against him, and despised him. Puzzled, yet fascinated, he
sought in his mind for some clue to her meaning.

“There are women” she went on--“to whom love, or what is called love, is
necessary,--for whom marriage is the utmost good of existence. I am not
one of these. Had I my own choice I would live my life away from all
men,--I would let nothing of myself be theirs to claim,--I would give
all I am and all I have to God, who made me what I am. For truly and
honestly, without any affectation at all, I look upon marriage, not as
an honour, but a degradation!”

Had she been less in earnest, he might have smiled at this, but her
beauty, intensified as it was by the fervour of her feeling, seemed
transfigured into something quite supernatural which for the moment
dazzled him.

“Am I to understand--” he began.

She interrupted him by a swift gesture, while the rich colour swept over
her face in a warm wave.

“Understand nothing”--she said,--“but this--that I do not love you,
because I can love no man! For the rest I am your wife; and as your
wife I give myself to you and your nation wholly and in all things--save

He advanced and took her hands in his.

“This is a strange bargain!” he said, and gently kissed her.

She answered nothing,--only a faint shiver trembled through her as she
endured the caress. For a moment or two he surveyed her in silence,--it
was a singular and novel experience for him, as a future king, to be the
lawful possessor of a woman’s beauty, and yet with all his sovereignty
to be unable to waken one thrill of tenderness in the frozen soul
imprisoned in such exquisite flesh and blood. He was inclined to
disbelieve her assertions,--surely he thought, there must be emotion,
feeling, passion in this fair creature, who, though she seemed a goddess
newly descended from inaccessible heights of heaven was still _only_
a woman? And upon the whole he was not ill-pleased with the curious
revelation she had made of herself. He preferred the coldness of women
to their volcanic eruptions, and would take more pains to melt the snow
of reserve than to add fuel to the flame of ardour.

“You have been very frank with me,” he said at last, after a pause, as
he loosened her hands and moved a little apart from her--“And whether
your physical and mental hatred of my sex is a defect in your nature,
or an exceptional virtue, I shall not quarrel with it. I am myself not
without faults; and the chiefest of these is one most common to all men.
I desire what I may not have, and covet what I do not possess. So! We
understand each other!”

She raised her eyes--those beautiful deep eyes with the moonlight
glamour in them,--and for an instant the shining Soul of her, pure and
fearless, seemed to spring up and challenge to spiritual combat him who
was now her body’s master. Then, bending her head with a graceful yet
proud submission, she retired.

From that time forth she never again spoke on this, or any other subject
of an intimate or personal nature, with her Royal spouse. Cold as an
iceberg, pure as a diamond, she accepted both wifehood and motherhood as
martyrdom, with an evident contempt for its humiliation, and without one
touch of love for either husband or children. She bore three sons, of
whom the eldest, and heir to the throne was, at the time this history
begins, just twenty. The passing of the years had left scarcely a trace
upon her beauty, save to increase it from the sparkling luminance of
a star to the glory of a full-orbed moon of loveliness,--and she had
easily won a triumph over all the other women around her, in the power
she possessed to command and retain the admiration of men. She was one
of those brilliant creatures who, like the Egyptian Cleopatra, never
grow old,--for she was utterly exempt from the wasting of the nerves
through emotion. Her eyes were always bright and clear; her skin
dazzling in its whiteness, save where the equably flowing blood flushed
it with tenderest rose,--her figure remained svelte, lithe and
graceful in all its outlines. Finely strung, yet strong as steel in her
temperament, all thoughts, feelings and events seemed to sweep over her
without affecting or disturbing her mind’s calm equipoise. She lived her
life with extreme simplicity, regularity, and directness, thus driving
to despair all would-be scandal-mongers; and though many gifted and
famous men fell madly in love with their great princess, and often, in
the extremity of a passion which amounted to disloyalty, slew themselves
for her sake, she remained unmoved and pitiless.

Her husband occasionally felt some compassion for the desperate fellows
who thus immolated themselves on the High Altar of her perfections,
though it must be admitted that he received the news of their deaths
with tolerable equanimity, knowing them to have been fools, and as such,
better out of the world than in it. During the first two or three years
of his marriage he had himself been somewhat of their disposition, and
as mere man, had tried by every means in his power to win the affection
of his beautiful spouse, and to melt the icy barrier which she, despite
their relations with each other, had resolutely kept up between herself
and him. He had made the attempt, not because he actually loved her, but
simply because he desired the satisfaction of conquest. Finding the
task hopeless, he resigned himself to his fate, and accepted her at the
costly valuation she set upon herself; though for pastime he would often
pay court to certain ladies of easy virtue, with the vague idea that
perhaps the spirit of jealousy might enter that cold shrine of womanhood
where no other demon could force admission, and wake up the passions
slumbering within. But she appeared not to be at all aware of his
many and open gallantries; and only at stray moments, when her frosty
flashing glance fell upon him engaged in some casual flirtation, would a
sudden smarting sense of injury make him conscious of her contempt.

But he could reasonably find no fault with her, save the fault of being
faultless. She was a perfect hostess, and fulfilled all the duties of
her exalted position with admirable tact and foresight,--she was ever
busy in the performance of good and charitable deeds,--she was an
excellent mother, and took the utmost personal care that her sons should
be healthily nurtured and well brought up,--she never interfered in any
matter of state or ceremony,--she simply seemed to move as a star moves,
shining over the earth but having no part in it. Irresponsive as she
was, she nevertheless compelled admiration,--her husband himself admired
her, but only as he would have admired a statue or a painting. For his
was an impulsive and generous nature, and his marriage had kept his
heart empty of the warmth of love, and his home devoid of the light of
sympathy. Even his children had been born more as the sons of the nation
than his own,--he was not conscious of any very great affection for
them, or interest in their lives. And he had sought to kindle at many
strange fires the heavenly love-beacon which should have flamed its
living glory into his days; so it had naturally chanced that he had
spent by far the larger portion of his time on the persuasion of mere
Whim,--and as vastly inferior women to his wife had made him spend it.

But at this particular juncture, when the curtain is drawn up on certain
scenes and incidents in his life-drama, a change had been effected in
his opinions and surroundings. For eighteen years after his marriage, he
had lived on the first step of the Throne as its next heir; and when
he passed that step and ascended the Throne itself, he seemed to have
crossed a vast abyss of distance between the Old and the New. Behind him
the Past rolled away like a cloud vanishing, to be seen no more,--before
him arose the dim vista of wavering and uncertain shadows, which no
matter how they shifted and changed,--no matter how many flashes of
sunshine flickered through them,--were bound to close in the thick gloom
of the inevitable end,--Death. This is what he was chiefly thinking of,
seated alone in his garden-pavilion facing the sea on that brilliant
southern summer morning,--this,--and with the thought came many others
no less sad and dubious,--such as whether for example, his eldest son
might not already be eager for the crown?--whether even now, though
he had only reigned three years, his people were not more or less
dissatisfied under his rule?

His father, the late King, had died suddenly,--so suddenly that there
was neither help nor hope for him among the hastily summoned physicians.
Stricken numb and speechless, he kept his anguished eyes fixed to the
last upon his son, as one who should say--“Alas, and to thee also, falls
this curse of a Crown!” Once dead, he was soon forgotten,--the pomp
of the Royal obsequies merely made a gala-day for the light-hearted
Southern populace, who hailed the accession of their new King with
as much gladness as a child, who, having broken one doll, straightway
secures another as good, if not better. As Heir-Apparent the succeeding
sovereign had won great popularity, and was much more generally beloved
than his father had been,--so that it was on an extra high wave of
jubilation and acclamation that he and his beautiful consort were borne
to the Throne.

Three years had passed since then; and so far his reign had been
untroubled by much difficulty. Difficulty there was, but he was kept
in ignorance of it,--troubles were brooding, but he was not informed
of them. Things likely to be disagreeable were not conveyed to his
ears,--and matters which, had he been allowed to examine into them,
might have aroused his indignation and interference, were diplomatically
hushed up. He was known to possess much more than the limited
intelligence usually apportioned to kings; and certainly, as his tutor
had said of him in his youth, he was dangerously “disposed towards
discursive philosophies.” He was likewise accredited with a conscience,
which many diplomats consider to be a wholly undesirable ingredient in
the moral composition of a reigning monarch. Therefore, those who move
a king, as in the game of chess, one square at a time and no more,--were
particularly cautious as to the ‘way’ in which they moved him. He had
shown himself difficult to manage once or twice; and interested persons
could not pursue their usual course of self-aggrandisement with him,
as he was not susceptible to flattery. He had a way of asking straight
questions, and what was still worse, expecting straight answers, such as
politicians never give.

Nevertheless he had, up to the present, ruled his conduct very much on
the lines laid down by his predecessors, and during his brief reign
had been more or less content to passively act in all things as
his ministers advised. He had bestowed honours on fools because his
ministers considered it politic,--he had given his formal consent to
the imposition of certain taxes on his people, because his ministers
had judged such taxes necessary,--in fact he had done everything he was
expected to do, and nothing that he was not expected to do. He had not
taken any close personal thought as to whether such and such a political
movement was, or was not, welcome to the spirit of the nation, nor had
he weighed intimately in his own mind the various private interests of
the members of his Government, in passing, or moving the rejection
of, any important measure affecting the well-being of the community at
large. And he had lately,--perhaps through the objectionable ‘discursive
philosophies’ before mentioned,--come to consider himself somewhat of a
stuffed Dummy or figure-head; and to wonder what would be the result,
if with caution and prudence, he were to act more on his own initiative,
and speak as he often thought it would be wise and well to speak? He
was but forty-five years old,--in the prime of life, in the plenitude of
health and mental vigour,--was he to pass the rest of his days guarded
by detectives, flunkeys and physicians, with never an independent
word or action throughout his whole career to mark him Man as well as
Monarch? Nay, surely that would be an insult to the God who made him!
But the question which arose in his mind and perplexed him was, How
to begin? How, after passive obedience, to commence resistance? How to
break through the miserable conventionalism, the sordid commonplace of
a king’s surroundings? For it is only in medieval fairy-tales that kings
are permitted to be kingly.

Yet, despite custom and usage, he was determined to make a new departure
in the annals of modern sovereignty. Three years of continuous slavery
on the treadmill of the Throne had been sufficient to make him thirst
for freedom,--freedom of speech,--freedom of action. He had tacitly
submitted to a certain ministry because he had been assured that the
said ministry was popular,--but latterly, rumours of discontent and
grievance had reached him,--albeit indistinctly and incoherently,--and
he began to be doubtful as to whether it might not be the Press which
supported the existing state of policy, rather than the People. The
Press! He began to consider of what material this great power in his
country was composed. Originally, the Press in all countries, was
intended to be the most magnificent institution of the civilized
world,--the voice of truth, of liberty, of justice--a voice which in its
clamant utterances could neither be bribed nor biassed to cry out false
news. Originally, such was meant to be its mission;--but nowadays, what,
in all honesty and frankness, is the Press? What was it, for example, to
this king, who from personal knowledge, was able to practically estimate
and enumerate the forces which controlled it thus:--Six, or at the most
a dozen men, the proprietors and editors of different newspapers sold in
cheap millions to the people. Most of these newspapers were formed into
‘companies’; and the managers issued ‘shares’ in the fashion of tea
merchants and grocers. False news, if of a duly sensational character,
would sometimes send up the shares in the market,--true information
would equally, on occasion, send them down. These premises granted,
might it not follow that for newspaper speculators, the False would
often prove more lucrative than the True? And, concerning the persons
who wrote for these newspapers,--of what calling and election were they?
Male and female, young and old, they were generally of a semi-educated
class lacking all distinctive ability,--men and women who were, on an
average, desperately poor, and desperately dissatisfied. To earn daily
bread they naturally had to please the editors set in authority over
them; hence their expressed views and opinions on any subject could only
be counted as _nil_, being written, not independently, but under the
absolute control of their employers. Thus meditating, the King summed up
the total of his own mental argument, and found that the vast sounding
‘power of the Press’ so far as his own dominion was concerned, resolved
itself into the mere trade monopoly of the aforesaid leading dozen
men. What he now proposed to himself to discover among other things,
was,--how far and how truly these dozen tradesmen voiced the mind of the
People over whom he was elected to reign? Here was a problem, and one
not easy to solve. But what was very plain and paramount to his mind
was this,--that he was thoroughly sick and tired of being no more than
a ‘social’ figure in the world’s affairs. It was an effeminate part to
play. It was time, he considered, that he should intelligently try his
own strength, and test the nation’s quality.

“If there is corruption in the state,” he said to himself, “I will
find its centre! If I am fooled by my advisers then I will be fooled no
longer. With whatsoever brain and heart and reason and understanding the
Fates have endowed me, I will study the ways, the movements, the desires
of my people, and prove myself their friend, as well as their king.
Suppose they misunderstand me?--What matter!--Let the nation rise
against me an’ it will, so that I may, before I die, prove myself worthy
of the mere gift of manhood! To-day”--and, rising from his chair, he
advanced a step or two and faced the sea and sky with an unconscious
gesture of invocation; “To-day shall be the first day of my real
monarchy! To-day I begin to reign! The past is past,--for eighteen long
years as prince and heir to the throne I trifled away my time among the
follies of the hour, and laughed at the easy purchase I could make of
the assumed ‘honour’ of men and women; and I enjoyed the liberty and
license of my position. Since then, for three years I have been the
prisoner of my Parliament,--but now--now, and for the rest of the time
granted to me on earth, I will live my life in the belief that its
riddle must surely meet with God’s own explanation. To me it has become
evident that the laws of Nature make for Truth and Justice; while the
laws of man are framed on deception and injustice. The two sets of laws
contend one against the other, and the finite, after foolish and vain
struggle, succumbs to the infinite,--better therefore, to begin with
the infinite Order than strive with the finite Chaos! I, a mere earthly
sovereign, rank myself on the side of the Infinite,--and will work for
Truth and Justice with the revolving of Its giant wheel! My people have
seen me crowned,--but my real Coronation is to-day--when I crown myself
with my own resolve!”

His eyes flashed in the sunshine;--a rose shook its pink petals on the
ground at his feet. In one of the many pleasure-boats skimming across
the sea, a man was singing; and the words he sang floated distinctly
along on the landward wind.

  “Let me be thine, O love,
  But for an hour! I yield my heart and soul
  Into thy power,--Let me be thine, O Love of mine,
  But for an hour!”

The King listened, and a faint shadow darkened the proud light on his

“‘But for an hour!’” he said half aloud--“Yes,--it would be enough! No
woman’s love lasts longer!”



An approaching step echoing on the marble terrace warned him that he was
no longer alone. He reseated himself at his writing-table, and feigned
to be deeply engrossed in perusing various documents, but a ready smile
greeted the intruder as soon as he perceived who it was,--one Sir Roger
de Launay, his favourite equerry and intimate personal friend.

“Time’s up, is it, Roger?” he queried lightly,--then as the equerry
bowed in respectful silence--“And yet I have scarcely glanced at these
papers! All the same, I have not been idle--I have been thinking.”

Sir Roger de Launay, a tall handsome man, with an indefinable air
of mingled good-nature and lassitude about him which suggested the
possibility of his politely urging even Death itself not to be so
much of a bore about its business, smiled doubtfully. “Is it a wise
procedure, Sir?” he enquired--“Conducive to comfort I mean?”

The King laughed.

“No--I cannot say that it is! But thought is a tonic which sometimes
restores a man’s enfeebled self-respect. I was beginning to lose that
particular condition of health and sanity, Roger!--my self-respect
was becoming a flaccid muscle--a withering nerve;--but a little
thought-exercise has convinced me that my mental sinews are yet on the
whole strong!”

Sir Roger offered no reply. His eyes expressed a certain languid
wonderment; but duty being paramount with him, and his immediate errand
being to remind his sovereign of an appointment then about due, he began
to collect the writing materials scattered about on the table and put
them together for convenient removal. The smile on the King’s face
deepened as he watched him.

“You do not answer me, De Launay,”--he resumed, “You think perhaps that
I am talking in parables, and that my mind has been persuaded into a
metaphysical and rambling condition by an hour’s contemplation of the
sunlight on the sea! But come now!--have you not yourself felt a longing
to break loose from the trammels of conventional routine,--to be set
free from the slavery of answering another’s beck and call,--to be
something more than my attendant and friend----”

“Sir, more than your friend I have never desired to be!” said Sir Roger,

The King extended his hand with impulsive quickness, and Sir Roger as
he clasped it, bent low and touched it with his lips. There was no
parasitical homage in the act, for De Launay loved his sovereign with a
love little known at courts; loyally, faithfully, and without a particle
of self-seeking. He had long recognized the nobility, truth and courage
which graced and tempered the disposition of the master he served, and
knew him to be one, if not the only, monarch in the world likely to
confer some lasting benefit on his people by his reign.

“I tell you,” pursued the King, “that there is something in the mortal
composition of every man which is beyond mortality, something which
clamours to be heard, and seen, and proved. We may call it conscience,
intellect, spirit or soul, and attribute its existence, to God, as a
spark of the Divine Essence, but whatever it is, it is in every one
of us; and there comes a moment in life when it must flame out, or be
quenched forever. That moment has come to me, Roger,--that something in
me must have its way!”

“Your Majesty no doubt desires the impossible!”--said Sir Roger with a
smile, “All men do,--even kings!”

“‘Even kings!’” echoed the monarch--“You may well say ‘even’ kings! What
are kings? Simply the most wronged and miserable men on earth! I do not
myself put in a special claim for pity. My realm is small, and my people
are, for aught I can learn or am told of them, contented. But other
sovereigns who are my friends and neighbours, live, as it were, under
the dagger’s point,--with dynamite at their feet and pistols at their
heads,--all for no fault of their own, but for the faults of a system
which they did not formulate. Conspirators on the threshold--poison in
the air,--as in Russia, for example!--where is the joy or the pride of
being a King nowadays?”

“Talking of poison,” said Sir Roger blandly, as he placed the last
document of those he had collected, neatly in a leather case and
strapped it--“Your Majesty may perhaps feel inclined to defer giving the
promised audience to Monsignor Del Fords of the Society of Jesus?”

“By Heaven, I had forgotten him!” and the King rose. “This is what you
came to remind me of, Roger? He is here?”

De Launay bowed an assent.

“Well! We have kept a messenger of Mother Church waiting our
pleasure,--and not for the first time in the annals of history! But why
do you associate his name with poison?”

“Really, Sir, the connection is inexplicable,--unless it be the memory
of a religious lesson-book given to me in my childhood. It was an
illustrated treasure, and one picture showed me the Almighty in
the character of an old gentleman seated placidly on a cloud,
smiling;--while on the earth below, a priest, exactly resembling this
Del Fortis, poured a spoonful of something,--poison--or it might have
been boiling lead--down the throat of a heretic. I remember it impressed
me very much with the goodness of God.”

He maintained a whimsical gravity as he spoke, and the King laughed.

“De Launay, you are incorrigible! Come!--we will go within and see this
Del Fortis, and you shall remain present during the audience. That
will give you a chance to improve your present impression of him.
I understand he is a very brilliant and leading member of his
Order,--likely to be the next Vicar-General. I know his errand,--the
papers concerning his business are there--,” and he waved his hand
towards the leather case Sir Roger had just fastened--“Bring them with

Sir Roger obeyed, and the King, stepping forth from the pavilion, walked
slowly along the terrace, watching the sparkling sea, the flowering
orange-trees lifting their slender tufts of exquisitely scented bloom
against the clear blue of the sky, the birds skimming lightly from point
to point of foliage, and the white-sailed yachts dipping gracefully
as the ocean rose and fell with every wild sweet breath of the scented
wind. Pausing a moment, he presently took out a field-glass and looked
through it at one of the finest and fairest of these pleasure-vessels,
which, as he surveyed it, suddenly swung round, and began to scud away

“The Prince is on board?” he asked.

“Yes, Sir,” replied De Launay--“His Royal Highness intends sailing as
far as The Islands, and remaining there till sunset.”

“Alone, as usual?”

“As usual, Sir, alone, save for his captain and crew.”

The King walked on in silence for a minute. Then he paused abruptly.

“I do not like it, De Launay!”--he said decisively--“I do not like his
abnormal love of solitude. Books are all very well--poetry is in its way
excellent,--music, as we are told ‘hath charms’--but the boy broods too
much, and stays away too much from Court. What woman attracts him?”

Sir Roger’s eyes opened wide as the King turned suddenly round upon him
with this question.

“Woman, Sir? I know of none. The Prince is but twenty----”

“At twenty,” said the King,--“boys love--the wrong girl. At thirty they
marry--the wrong woman. At forty they meet the only true and fitting
soul’s companion,--and cry for the moon till the end! My son is in the
first stage, or I am much mistaken,--he loves--the wrong girl!”

He walked on,--and De Launay followed, with a vague sense of amusement
and disquietude in his mind. What had come to his Royal master, he
wondered? His ordinary manner had changed somewhat,--he spoke with less
than the customary formality, and there was an expression of freedom
and authority, combined with a touch of defiance in his face, that was
altogether new to the observation of the faithful equerry.

Arrived at the palace, and passing through one of the long and spacious
painted corridors, lit by richly coloured mullioned windows from end to
end, the King came face to face with a lady-in-waiting carrying a large
cluster of Madonna lilies. She drew aside, with a deep reverence,
to allow him to pass; but he stopped a moment, looking at the great
gorgeous white flowers faint with fragrance, and at the slight retiring
figure of the woman who held them.

“Are these for the chapel, Madame?” he asked.

“No, Sir! For the Queen.”

‘For the Queen!’ A quick sigh escaped him. He still stood, caught by
a sudden abstraction, looking at the dazzling whiteness of the snowy
blooms, and thinking how fittingly they would companion his beautiful,
cold, pure Queen Consort, who had never from her marriage day uttered
a word of love to him, or given him a glance of tenderness. Their
rich odours crept into his warm blood, and the bitter old sense of
unfulfilled longing, longing for affection, for comprehension, for all
that he had not possessed in his otherwise brilliant life, vexed and
sickened him. He turned away abruptly, and the lady-in-waiting, having
curtsied once more profoundly, passed on with her glistening sheaf of
bloom and disappeared vision-like in a gleam of azure light falling
through one of the further and higher casements. The King watched her
disappear, the meditative line of sadness still puckering his brow,
then, followed by his equerry, he entered a small private audience
chamber, where Sir Roger de Launay notified an attendant gentleman usher
that his Majesty was ready to receive Monsignor Del Fortis.

During the brief interval occupied in waiting for his visitor’s
approach, the King selected certain papers from those which Sir Roger
had brought from the garden pavilion and placed them in order on the

“For the past six months,” he said “I have had this Jesuit’s name before
me, and have been in twenty minds a month about granting or refusing
what his Society demands. The matter has been discussed in the Press,
too, with the usual pros and cons of hesitation, but it is the People I
am thinking of, the People! and I am just now in the humour to satisfy a
Nation rather than a Church!”

De Launay said nothing. His opinion was not asked.

“It is a case in which the temporal overbalances the spiritual,”
 continued the King--“Which plainly proves that the spiritual must be
lacking in some essential point somewhere. For if the spiritual were
always truly of God, then would it always be the strongest. The question
which brings Monsignor Del Fortis here as special emissary of the
Vicar-General of the Society of Jesus, is simply this: Whether or no a
certain site in a particularly fertile tract of land belonging chiefly
to the Crown, shall be granted to the Jesuits for the purpose of
building thereon a church and monastery with schools attached. It seems
a reasonable request, set forth with an apparently religious intention.
Yet more than forty petitions have been sent in to me from the
inhabitants of the towns and villages adjacent to the lands, imploring
me to refuse the concession. By my faith, they plead as eloquently as
though asking deliverance from the plague! It is a curious dilemma. If I
grant the people’s request I anger the priests; if I satisfy the priests
I anger the people.”

“You mentioned a discussion in the Press, Sir--” hinted Sir Roger.

“Oh, the Press is like a weathercock--it turns whichever way the wind
of speculation blows. One day it is ‘for,’ another ‘against.’ In this
particular case it is diplomatically indifferent, except in one or two
cases where papal money has found its way into the newspaper offices.”

At that moment the door was flung open, and Monsignor Del Fortis was
ceremoniously ushered into the presence of his Majesty. At the
first glance it was evident that De Launay had reasonable cause for
associating the mediaeval priestly torturer pictured in his early
lesson-book with the unprepossessing personage now introduced. Del
Fortis was a dark, resentful-looking man of about sixty, tall and thin,
with a long cadaverous face, very strongly pronounced features and small
sinister eyes, over which the level brows almost met across the sharp
bridge of nose. His close black garb buttoned to the chin, outlined his
wiry angular limbs with an almost painful distinctness, and the lean
right hand which he placed across his breast as he bowed profoundly to
the King, looked more like the shrunken hand of a corpse than that of
a living man. The King observed him attentively, but not with favour;
while thoughts, strange, and for him as a constitutional monarch
audacious, began to move in the undercurrents of his mind, stirring him
to unusual speech and action. Sir Roger, retiring to the furthest end of
the room stood with his back against the door, a fine upright soldierly
figure, as motionless as though cast in bronze, though his eyes showed
keen and sparkling life as they rested on his Royal master, watching his
every gesture, as well as every slightest movement on the part of his
priestly visitor.

“You are welcome, Monsignor Del Fortis,”--said the King, at last
breaking silence.--“To save time and trouble, I may tell you that I need
no explanation of the nature of your business.”

The Jesuit bowed with an excessive humility.

“You wish me to grant to your Society,” continued the monarch--“that
portion of the Crown lands named in your petition, to be held in
your undisputed possession for a long term of years,--and in order to
facilitate my consent to this arrangement, your Vicar-General has sent
you here to furnish the full details of your building scheme. Am I so
far correct?”

The priest’s dark secretive eyes glittered craftily a moment as he
raised them to the open and tranquil countenance of the sovereign,--then
once again he bowed profoundly.

“Your Majesty has, with your customary care and patience, fully studied
the object of my errand”--he replied in a clear thin, somewhat rasping
voice, which he endeavoured to make smooth and conciliatory--“But it
is impossible that your Majesty, immersed every day in the affairs
of state, should have found time to personally go through the various
papers formally submitted to your consideration. Therefore, the
Vicar-General of our Order considered that if the present interview with
your Majesty could be obtained, I, as secretary and treasurer for the
proposed new monastery, might be able to explain the spiritual, as well
as the material advantages to be gained by the use of the lands for the
purpose mentioned.”

He spoke slowly, enunciating each word with careful distinctness.

“The spiritual part of the scheme is of course the most important to
you!”--said the King with a slight smile,--“But material advantages
are never entirely overlooked, even by holy men! Now I am merely a
‘temporal’ sovereign; and as such, I wish to know how your plan will
affect the people of the neighbouring town and district. What are your
intentions towards them? Their welfare is my chief concern; and what
I have to learn from you is,--How do you propose to benefit them by
maintaining a monastery, church and schools in their vicinity?”

Again Del Fortis gave a furtive glance upward. Seeing that the King’s
eyes were steadily fixed upon him, he quickly lowered his own, and gave
answer in an evidently prepared manner.

“Sir, the people of the district in question are untaught barbarians. It
is more for their sakes,--more for the love of gathering the lost sheep
into the fold, than for our own satisfaction, that we seek to pitch our
tents in the desert of their ignorance. They, and their children, are
the prey of heathenish modern doctrines, which alas!--are too prevalent
throughout the whole world at this particular time,--and, as they are
at present situated, no restraint is exercised upon them for the better
controlling of their natural and inherited vices. Unless the gentle hand
of Mother Church is allowed to rescue these, her hapless and neglected
ones; unless she has an opportunity afforded her of leading them out of
the darkness of error into the light of eternal day--”

He broke off, his eloquence being interrupted by a gesture from the

“There is a Government school in the town,”--said the monarch, referring
to one or two documents on the table before him.--“There is also a Free
Public Library, and a Free School of Art. Thus it does not seem that
education is quite neglected.”

“Alas, Sir, such education is merely disastrous!” said Del Fortis, with
a deep sigh,--“Like the fruit on the tree of knowledge in the Garden of
Eden, it brings death to the soul!”

“You condemn the Government methods?” asked the King coldly.

The Jesuit moved uneasily, and a dull flush reddened his pale skin.

“Far be it from me, Sir, as a poor servant of the Church, to condemn
lawful authorities,--yet we should not forget that the Government is
temporal and changeable,--the Church is spiritual and changeless. We
cannot look for entire success in a scheme of popular education which is
not formulated under the guidance or the blessing of God!”

The King leaned forward a little in his chair, and surveyed him fixedly.

“How do you know that it is not formulated under the guidance and
blessing of God?” he asked suddenly--“Has the Almighty given you His
special opinion and confidence on the matter?”

Monsignor Del Fortis started indignantly.

“Sir! Your Majesty----”

De Launay made a step forward, but the King motioned him back.
Accordingly he resumed his former position, but his equable temperament
was for once seriously disturbed. He saw that his Royal master was
evidently bent on speaking his mind; and he knew well what a dangerous
indulgence that is for all men who desire peace and quietness in their

“I am aware of what you would say,” pursued the King--“You would say
that the Church--your Church--is the only establishment of the kind
which receives direct inspiration from the Creator of Universes. But
I do not feel justified in limiting the control of the Almighty to
one special orbit of Creed. You tell me that a government system of
education for the people is a purely temporal movement, and that, as
such, it is not blessed by the guidance of God. Yet the Pope seeks
‘temporal’ power! It is explained to us of course that he seeks it
in order that he may unite it to the spiritual in his own
person,--theoretically for the good of mankind, if practically for the
advancement of his own particular policy. But have you never thought,
Monsignor, that the marked severance of what you call ‘temporal’ power,
from what you equally call ‘spiritual’ power, is God’s work? Inasmuch
as nothing can be done without God’s will; for even if there is a devil
(which I am inclined to doubt) he owes his unhappy existence to God as
much as I do!”

He smiled; but Del Fortis stood rigidly silent, his head bent, and one
hand folded tight across his breast, an attitude Sir Roger de Launay
always viewed in every man with suspicion, as it suggested the
concealment of a weapon.

“You will admit” pursued the King, “that the action of human thought is
always progressive. Unfortunately your Creed lags behind human thought
in its onward march, thus causing the intelligent world to infer that
there must be something wrong with its teaching. For if the Church
had always been in all respects faithful to the teaching of her Divine
Master, she would be at this present time the supreme Conqueror of
Nations. Yet she is doing no more nowadays than she did in the middle
ages,--she threatens, she intimidates, she persecutes all who dare to
use for a reasonable purpose the brain God gave them,--but she does not
help on or sympathize with the growing fraternity and civilization of
the world. It is impossible not to recognize this. Yet I have a profound
respect for each and every minister of religion who honestly endeavours
to follow the counsels of Christ,”--here he paused,--then added with
slow and marked emphasis--“in whose Holy Name I devoutly believe for the
redemption of whatever there is in me worth redeeming;--nevertheless my
first duty, even in Christ, is plainly to the people of the country over
which I am elected to rule.”

The flickering shadow of a smile passed over the Jesuit’s dark features,
but he still kept silence.

“Therefore,” went on the King--“it is my unpleasant task to be compelled
to inform you, Monsignor, that the inhabitants of the district your
Order seeks to take under its influence, have the strongest objection
to your presence among them. So strong indeed is their aversion towards
your Society, that they have petitioned me in numerous ways, (and with
considerable eloquence, too, for ‘untaught barbarians’) to defend them
from your visitation. Now, to speak truly, I find they have all the
advantages which modern advancement and social improvement can give
them,--they attend their places of public worship in considerable
numbers, and are on the whole decent, God-fearing, order-loving subjects
to the Throne,--and more I do not desire for them or for myself.
Criminal cases are very rare in the district,--and the poor are
more inclined to help than to defraud each other. All this is so far
good,--and, I should imagine,--not displeasing to God. In any case, as
their merely temporal sovereign, I must decline to give your Order any
control over them.”

“You refuse the concession of land, Sir?” said Del Fortis, in a voice
that trembled with restrained passion.

“To satisfy those of my subjects who have appealed to me, I am compelled
to do so,” replied the King.

“I pray your Majesty’s pardon, but a portion of the land is held by
private persons who are prepared to sell to us----”

A quick anger flashed in the King’s eyes.

“They shall sell to me if they sell at all,”--he said,--“I repeat,
Monsignor, the fact that the law-abiding people of the place have
sought their King’s protection from priestly interference;--and,--by
Heaven!--they shall have it!”

There was a sudden silence. Sir Roger de Launay drew a sharp
breath,--his habitual languor of mind was completely dissipated, and he
studied the inscrutable face of Del Fortis with deepening suspicion and
disfavour. Not that there was the slightest sign of wrath or dismay on
the priest’s well-disciplined countenance;--on the contrary, a chill
smile illumined it as he spoke his next words with a serious, if
somewhat forced composure.

“Your Majesty is, without doubt, all powerful in your own particular
domain of society and politics,” he said--“But there is another
Majesty higher than yours,--that of the Church, before which dread and
infallible Tribunal even kings are brought to naught----”

“Monsignor Del Fortis,” interrupted the King, “We have not met this
morning, I presume, to indulge in a religious polemic! My power is,
as you very truly suggest, merely temporal--yours is spiritual. Yours
should be the strongest! Go your way now to your Vicar-General with the
straight answer I have given you,--but if by your ‘spiritual’ power
you can persuade the people who now hate your Society, to love it,--to
demand it,--to beg that you may be permitted to found a colony among
them,--why, in that case, come to me again, and I will grant you the
land. I am not prejudiced one way or the other, but I will not hand
over any of my subjects to the influence of priestcraft, so long as they
desire me to defend them from it.”

Del Fortis still smiled.

“Pardon me, Sir, but we of the Society of Jesus are your subjects also,
and we judge you to be a Christian and Catholic monarch----”

“As I am, most assuredly!” replied the King--“Christian and Catholic are
words which, if I understand their meaning, please me well! ‘Christian’
expresses a believer in and follower of Christ,--‘Catholic’ means
universal, by which, I take it, is intended wide, universal love and
tolerance without sect, party, or prejudice. In this sense the Church
is not Catholic--it is merely the Roman sect. Nor are you truly my
subjects, since you have only one ruler, the Supreme Pontiff,--with
whom I am somewhat at variance. But, as I have said, we are not here to
indulge in argument. You came to proffer a request; I have given you the
only answer I conceive fitting with my duty;--the matter is concluded.”

Del Fortis hesitated a moment,--then bowed low to the ground;--anon,
lifting himself, raised one hand with an invocative gesture of profound

“I commend your Majesty to the mercy of God, that He may in His wisdom,
guard your life and soften your heart towards the ministers of His Holy
Religion, and bring you into the ways of righteousness and peace! For
the rest, I will report your Majesty’s decision to the Vicar-General.”

“Do so!”--rejoined the King--“And assure him that the decision is
unalterable,--unless the inhabitants of the place concerned desire to
have it revoked.”

Again Del Fortis bowed.

“I humbly take my leave of your Majesty!”

The monarch looked at him steadfastly as he made another salutation, and
backed out of the presence-chamber. Sir Roger de Launay opened the door
for him with alacrity, handing him over into the charge of an usher with
the whispered caution to see him well off the Royal premises; and then
returning to his sovereign, stood “at attention.” The King noted his
somewhat troubled aspect, and laughed.

“What ails you, De Launay?” he asked--“You seem astonished that for once
I have spoken my mind?”

“Sir, to speak one’s mind is always dangerous!”

“Dangerous--danger!--What idle words to make cowards of men! Danger--of
what? There is only one danger--death; and that is sure to come to every
man, whether he be a hero or a poltroon.”


“But--what? De Launay, if you love me, do not look at me with so
expostulatory an air! It does not become your inches! Now listen!--when
the next press reporter comes nosing round for palace news, let him be
told that the King has refused permission to the Jesuits to build on any
portion of the Crown lands demanded for the purpose. Let this be made
known to Press and People--the sooner the better!”

“Sir,” murmured De Launay--“We live in strange times----”

“Why, there you speak most truly!” said the King, with emphasis--“We do
live in strange times--the very strangest perhaps, since Aeneas Sylvius
wrote concerning Christendom. Do you remember the words he set down so
long ago?--‘It is a body without a head,--a republic without laws or
magistrates. The pope or the emperor may shine as lofty titles, as
splendid images,--but they are unable to command, and no one is willing
to obey!’ History thus repeats itself, De Launay;--and yet with all its
past experience, the Roman Church does not seem to realize that it is
powerless against the attacks of intellectual common sense. Faith in
God,--a high, perfect, pure faith in God, and a simple following of
the Divine Teacher of God’s command, Christ;--these things are wise and
necessary for all nations; but, to allow human beings to be coerced by
superstition for political motives, under the disguise of religion, is
an un-Christian business, and I for one will have no part in it!”

“You will lay yourself open to much serious misconstruction, Sir,” said
De Launay.

“Let us hope so, Roger!” rejoined the King with a smile--“For if I am
never misunderstood, I shall know myself to be a fool! Come,--do not
look so glum!--I want you to help me.”

“To help you, Sir?” exclaimed De Launay eagerly,--“With my life, if you
demand it!”

The King rested one hand familiarly on his shoulder.

“I would rather take my own life than yours, De Launay!” he
said--“No,--whatever difficulties I get myself into, you shall not
suffer! But--as I told you a while ago,--there is something in me that
must have its way. I am sick to death of conventionalities,--you must
help me to break through them! You are right in saying that we live in
strange times;--they are strange times!--and they may perchance be all
the better for a strange King!”



Some hours later on, Sir Roger de Launay, having left his Sovereign’s
presence, and being off duty for a time, betook himself to certain
apartments in the west wing of the palace, where the next most
trusted personage to himself in the confidence of the King, had his
domicile,--Professor von Glauben, resident physician to the Royal
Household. Heinrich von Glauben was a man of somewhat extraordinary
character and individuality. In his youth he had made a sudden meteoric
fame for his marvellous skill and success in surgery, as also for his
equally surprising quickness and correctness in diagnosing obscure
diseases and tracing them to their source. But, after creating a vast
amount of discussion and opposition among his confrères, and almost
reaching that brilliant point of triumph when his originality and
cleverness were proved great enough to win him a host of enemies, he
all at once threw up the game as it were, and, resigning the favourable
opportunities of increasing distinction offered him in his native
Germany, accepted the comparatively retired and private position he now
occupied. Some said it was a disappointment in love which had caused his
abrupt departure from the Fatherland,--others declared it was irritation
at the severe manner in which his surgical successes had been handled
by the medical critics,--but whatever the cause, it soon became evident
that he had turned his back on the country of his birth for ever, and
that he was apparently entirely satisfied with the lot he had chosen.
His post was certainly an easy and pleasant one,--the members of the
Royal family to which his services were attached were exceptionally
healthy, as Royal families go; and he was seldom in more than merely
formal attendance, so that he had ample time and opportunity to pursue
those deeper forms of physiological study which had excited the wrath
and ridicule of his contemporaries, as well as to continue the writing
of a book which he intended should make a stir in the world, and which
he had entitled “The Moral and Political History of Hunger.”

“For,” said he--“Hunger is the primal civilizer,--the very keystone and
foundation of all progress. From the plain, prosy, earthy fact that man
is a hungry animal, and must eat, has sprung all the civilization of
the world! I shall demonstrate this in my book, beginning with the
scriptural legend of Adam’s greed for an apple. Adam was evidently
hungry at the moment Eve tempted him. As soon as he had satisfied his
inner man, he thought of his outer,--and his next idea was, naturally,
tailoring. From this simple conjunction of suggestions, combined with
what ‘God’ would have to say to him concerning his food-experiment and
fig-leaf apron, man has drawn all his religions, manners, customs and
morals. The proposition is self-evident,--but I intend to point it out
with somewhat emphasised clearness for the benefit of those persons
who are inclined to arrogate to themselves the possession of superior
wisdom. Neither brain nor soul has placed man in a position of
Supremacy,--merely Hunger and Nakedness!”

The Professor was now about fifty-five, but his exceptionally powerful
build and robust constitution gave him the grace in appearance of many
years younger, though perhaps the extreme composure of his temperament,
and the philosophic manner in which he viewed all circumstances, whether
pleasing or disastrous, may have exercised the greatest influence in
keeping his eyes clear and clean, and his countenance free of unhandsome
wrinkles. He was more like a soldier than a doctor, and was proud of his
resemblance to the earlier portraits of Bismarck. To see him in his
own particular ‘sanctum’ surrounded by weird-looking diagrams of
sundry parts of the human frame, mysterious phials and stoppered flasks
containing various liquids and crystals, and all the modern appliances
for closely examining the fearful yet beautiful secrets of the living
organism, was as if one should look upon a rough and burly giant engaged
in some delicate manipulation of mosaics. Yet Von Glauben’s large hand
was gentler than a woman’s in its touch and gift of healing,--no surgeon
alive could probe a wound more tenderly, or with less pain to the
sufferer,--and the skill of that large hand was accompanied by the
penetrative quality of the large benevolent brain which guided it,--a
brain that could encompass the whole circle of the world in its
observant and affectionate compassion.

“Ach!--who is there that can be angry with anyone?--impatient with
anyone,--offended with anyone!” he was wont to say--“Everybody suffers
so much and so undeservedly, that as far as my short life goes I have
only time for pity--not condemnation!”

To this individual, as a kind of human calmative and tonic combined,
Sir Roger de Launay was in the habit of going whenever he felt his
own customary tranquillity at all disturbed. The two were great
friends;--friends in their mutual love and service of the King,--friends
in their equally mutual but discreetly silent worship of the Queen,--and
friends in their very differences of opinion on men and matters in
general. De Launay, being younger, was more hasty of judgment and quick
in action; but Von Glauben too had been known to draw his sword with
unexpected rapidity on occasion, to the discomfiture of those who
deemed him only at home with the scalpel. Just now, however, he was in a
particularly non-combative and philosophic mood; he was watching certain
animalculae wriggling in a glass tube, the while he sat in a large
easy-chair with slippered feet resting on another chair opposite,
puffing clouds of smoke from a big meerschaum,--and he did not stir from
his indolent attitude when De Launay entered, but merely looked up and
smiled placidly.

“Sit down, Roger!” he said,--then, as De Launay obeyed the invitation,
he pushed over a box of cigars, and added--“You look exceedingly tired,
my friend! Something has bored you more than usual? Take a lesson from
those interesting creatures!” and he pointed with the stem of his pipe
to the bottled animalculae--“They are never bored,--never weary of doing
mischief! They are just now living under the pleasing delusion that the
glass tube they are in is a man, and that they are eating him up alive.
Little devils! Nothing will exhaust their vitality till they have gorged
themselves to death! Just like a great many human beings!”

“I am not in the mood for studying animalculae,” said De Launay
irritably, as he lit a cigar.

“No? But why not? They are really quite as interesting as ourselves!”

“Look here, Von Glauben, I want you to be serious--”

“My friend, I am always serious,” declared the Professor--“Even when I
laugh, I laugh seriously. My laughter is as real as myself.”

“What would you think,”--pursued De Launay--“of a king who freely
expressed his own opinions?”

“I should say he was a brave man,” answered the Professor; “He would
certainly deserve my respect, and he should have it. Even if the laws
of etiquette were not existent, I should feel justified in taking off my
hat to him.”

“Never from henceforth wear a hat at all then,” said De Launay--“It will
save you the trouble of continually doffing it at every glimpse of his

Von Glauben drew his pipe from his mouth and gazed blankly at the
ceiling for a few moments in silence. “His Majesty?” he presently
murmured--“Our Majesty?”

“Yes; our Majesty--our King”--replied De Launay--“For some inscrutable
reason or other he has suddenly adopted the dangerous policy of speaking
his mind. What now?”

“What now? Why nothing particular just now,--unless you have something
to tell me. Which, judging from your entangled expression of eye, I
presume you have.”

De Launay hesitated a moment. The Professor saw his hesitation.

“Do not speak, my friend, if you think you are committing a breach of
confidence,” he said composedly--“In the brief affairs of this life, it
is better to keep trouble on your own mind than impart it to others.”

“Oh, there is no breach of confidence;” said De Launay, “The thing is as
public as the day, or if it is not public already, it soon will be
made so. That is where the mischief comes in,--or so I think. Judge for
yourself!” And in a few words he gave the gist of the interview which
had taken place between the King and the emissary of the Jesuits that

“Nothing surprises me as a rule,”--said the Professor, when he had heard
all--“But if anything could prick the sense of astonishment anew in
me, it would be to think that anyone, king or commoner, should take
the trouble to speak truth to a Jesuit. Why, the very essence of their
carefully composed and diplomatic creed, is to so disguise truth that it
shall be no more recognisable. Myself, I believe the Jesuits to be the
lineal descendants of those priests who served Bel and the Dragon. The
art of conjuring and deception is in their very blood. It is for the
Jesuits that I have invented a beautiful new verb,--‘To hypocrise.’ It
sounds well. Here is the present tense,--‘I hypocrise, Thou hypocrisest,
He hypocrises:--We hypocrise, You hypocrise, They hypocrise.’ Now
hear the future. ‘I shall hypocrise, Thou shalt hypocrise, He shall
hypocrise; We shall hypocrise, You shall hypocrise, They shall
hypocrise.’ There is the whole art of Jesuitry for you, made
grammatically perfect!”

De Launay gave a gesture of impatience, and flung away the end of his
half-smoked cigar.

“Ach! That is a sign of temper, Roger!” said Von Glauben, shaking his
head--“To lift one’s shoulders to the lobes of one’s ears, and waste
nearly the half of an exceedingly expensive and choice Havana, shows
nervous irritation! You are angry, my friend--and with me!”

“No I am not,” replied De Launay, rising from his chair and beginning
to pace the room--“But I do not profess to have your phlegmatic
disposition. I feel what I thought you would feel also,--that the King
is exposing himself to unnecessary danger. And I know what you do not
yet know, but what this letter will no doubt inform you,”--and he drew
an envelope bearing the Royal seal from his pocket and handed it to the
Professor--“Namely,--that his Majesty is bent on rushing voluntarily
into various other perils, unless perhaps, your warning or advice may
hinder him. Mine has no effect,--moreover I am bound to serve him as he

“Equally am I also bound to serve him;”--said Von Glauben, “And gladly
and faithfully do I intend to perform my service wherever it may lead
me!” Whereupon, shaking himself out of his recumbent position, like a
great lion rolling out of his lair, he stood upright, and breaking the
seal of the envelope he held, read its contents through in silence. Sir
Roger stood opposite to him, watching his face in vain for any sign of
astonishment, regret or dismay.

“We must do as he commands,”--he said simply as he finished reading the
letter and folded it up for safe keeping--“There is no other way; not
for me at least. I shall most assuredly be at the appointed place, at
the appointed hour, and in the appointed manner. It will be a change;
certainly lively, and possibly beneficial!”

“But the King’s life--”

“Is in God’s keeping!” said Von Glauben,--“Believe me, Roger, no harm
comes undeservedly to a brave man with a good conscience! It is a bad
conscience which invites mischief. I am a great believer in the law of
attraction. The good attracts the good,--the bad, the bad. That is why
truthful persons are generally lonely--because nearly all the world’s
inhabitants are liars!”

“But the King--” again began Sir Roger.

“The King is a man!” said Von Glauben, with a flash of pride in his
eyes--“Which is more than I will say for most kings! Who shall blame
him for asserting his manhood? Not I! Not you! Who shall blame him for
seeking to know the real position of things in the country he governs?
Not I! Not you! Our business is to guard and defend him--with our own
lives, if necessary,--we shall do that with a will, Roger, shall we
not?” And with an impulsive quickness of action, he took a sword from
a stand of weapons near him, drew it from its scabbard and kissing the
hilt, held it out to De Launay who did the same--“That is understood!
And for the rest, Roger my friend, take it all lightly and easily--as a
farce!--as a bit of human comedy, with a great actor cast for the chief
role. We are only supers, you and I, but we shall do well to stand near
the wings in case of fire!”

He drew himself up to his great height and squared his shoulders,--then
smiled benevolently.

“I believe it will be all very amusing, Roger; and that your fears for
the safety of his Majesty will be proved groundless. Remember, Court
life is excessively dull,--truly the dullest form of existence on
earth,--it is quite natural that he who is the most bored by it should
desire some break in the terrible monotony!”

“The monotony will certainly be broken with a vengeance, if the King
continues in his present humour!”--said De Launay grimly.

“Possibly! And let us hope the comfortable self-assurance and
complacency of a certain successful Minister may be somewhat seriously
disturbed!” rejoined Von Glauben,--“For myself, I assure you I see

“And I scent danger,”--said De Launay--“For if any mischance happen to
the King, the Prince is not ripe enough to rule.”

A slight shadow darkened the Professor’s open countenance. He looked
fixedly at Sir Roger, who met his gaze with equal fixity.

“The Prince,”--he said slowly--“is young--”

“And rash--” interposed De Launay.

“No. Pardon me, my friend! Not rash. Merely honest. That is all! He is
a very honest young man indeed. It is unfortunate that he is so; a
ploughman may be honest if he likes, but a prince--never!”

De Launay was silent.

“I will now destroy a world”--continued Von Glauben, “Kings,
emperors, popes, councillors and common folk, can all perish
incontinently,--as--being myself for the present the free agent of the
Deity concerned in the matter,--I have something else to do than to look
after them,”--and he took up the glass vessel containing the animalculae
he had been watching, and cast it with its contents into a small stove
burning dimly at one end of the apartment,--“Gone are their ambitions
and confabulations for ever! How easy for the Creator to do the same
thing with us, Roger! Let us not talk of any special danger for the
King or for any man, seeing that we are all on the edge of an eternal

De Launay stood absorbed for a moment, as if in deep thought. Then
rousing himself abruptly he said:--

“You will not see the King, and speak with him before to-morrow night?”

“Why should I?” queried the Professor. “His wish is a command which I
must obey. Besides, my good Roger, all the arguments in the world will
not turn a man from having his own way if he has once made up his own
mind. Advice from me on the present matter would be merely taken as an
impertinence. Moreover I have no advice to give,--I rather approve of
the plan!”

Sir Roger looked at him; and noting the humorous twinkle in his eyes
smiled, though somewhat gravely.

“I hope, with you, that the experiment may only prove an amusing one,”
 he said--“But life is not always a farce!”

“Not always, but often! When it is not a farce it is a tragedy. And such
a tragedy! My God! Horrible--monstrous--cruel beyond conception, and
enough to make one believe in Hell and doubt Heaven!”

He spoke passionately, in a voice vibrating with strong emotion. De
Launay glanced at him wonderingly, but did not speak.

“When you see tender young children tortured by disease,” he
went on,--“Fair and gentle women made the victims of outrage and
brutality--strong men killed in their thousands to gain a little
additional gold, an extra slice of empire,--then you see the tragic,
the inexplicable, the crazy cruelty of putting into us this little pulse
called Life. But I try not to think of this--it is no use thinking!”

He paused,--then in his usual quiet tone said:

“To-morrow night, then, my friend?”

“To-morrow night,” rejoined De Launay,--“Unless you receive further
instructions from the King.”

At that moment the clear call of a trumpet echoing across the
battlements of the palace denoted the hour for changing the sentry.
“Sunset already!” said Von Glauben, walking to the window and throwing
back the heavy curtain which partially shaded it, “And yonder is Prince
Humphry’s yacht on its homeward way.”

De Launay came and stood beside him, looking out. Before them the sea
glistened with a thousand tints of lustrous opal in the light of the
sinking sun, which, surrounded by mountainous heights of orange and
purple cloud, began to touch the water-line with a thousand arrowy darts
of flame. The white-sailed vessel on which their eyes were fixed, came
curtseying over the waves through a perfect arch of splendid colour,
like a fairy or phantom ship evoked from a poet’s dream.

“Absent all day, as he has been,” said De Launay, “his Royal Highness is
punctual to the promised hour of his return.”

“He is, as I told you, honest;” said Von Glauben, “and it is possible
his honesty will be his misfortune.”

De Launay muttered something inaudible in answer, and turned to leave
the apartment.

Von Glauben looked at him with an affectionate solicitude.

“What a lucky thing it is you never married, Roger! Otherwise you would
now be going to tell your wife all about the King’s plans! Then she,
sweet creature, would go to confession,--and her confessor would tell a
bishop,--and a bishop would tell a cardinal,--and a cardinal would tell
a confidential monsignor,--and the confidential monsignor would tell the
Supreme Pontiff,--and so all the world would be ringing with the news
started by one little pretty wagging tongue of a woman!”

A faint flush coloured De Launay’s bronzed cheek, but he laughed.

“True! I am glad I have never married. I am still more glad--of
circumstances”--he paused,--then went on, “which have so chanced to me
that I shall never marry.” He paused again--then added--“I must be gone,
Von Glauben! I have to meet Prince Humphry at the quay with a message
from his Majesty.”

“Surely,” said the Professor, opening his eyes very wide, “The Prince is
not to be included in our adventure?”

“By no means!” replied De Launay,--“But the King is not pleased with his
son’s frequent absences from Court, and desires to speak with him on the

Von Glauben looked grave.

“There will be some little trouble there,” he said, with a half
sigh--“Ach! Who knows! Perhaps some great trouble!”

“Heaven forbid!” ejaculated Sir Roger,--“We live in times of peace. We
want no dissension with either the King or the people. Till to-morrow
night then?”

“Till to-morrow night!” responded Von Glauben, whereupon Sir Roger with
a brief word of farewell, strode away.

Left to himself, the Professor still stood at his window watching the
approach of the Prince’s yacht, which came towards the shore with such
swift and stately motion through the portals of the sunset, over the
sparkling water.

“Unfortunate Humphry!” he muttered,--“What a secret he has entrusted me
with! And yet why do I call him unfortunate? There should be nothing to
regret--and yet--! Well! The mischief was done before poor Heinrich
von Glauben was consulted; and if poor Heinrich were God and the Devil
rolled into one strange Eternal Monster, he could not have prevented it!
What is done, can never be undone!”



A singular pomp is sometimes associated with the announcement that my
Lord Pedigree, or Mister Nobody has ‘had the honour of dining’ with
their Majesties the King and Queen. Outsiders read the thrilling line
with awe and envy,--and many of them are foolish enough to wish that
they also were Lords Pedigree or Misters Nobody. As a matter of sad and
sober fact, however, a dinner with royal personages is an extremely
dull affair. ‘Do not speak unless you are spoken to,’ is a rule which,
however excellent and necessary in Court etiquette, is apt to utterly
quench conversation, and render the brightest spirits dull and inert.
The silent and solemn movements of the Court flunkeys,--the painful
attitudes of those who are _not_ ‘spoken to’; the eager yet laboured
smiles of those who _are_ ‘spoken to ‘;--the melancholy efforts at
gaiety--the dread of trespassing on tabooed subjects--these things tend
to make all but the most independent and unfettered minds shrink from
such an ordeal as the ‘honour’ of dining with kings. It must, however,
be conceded that the kings themselves are fully aware of the tediousness
of their dinner parties, and would lighten the boredom if they could;
but etiquette forbids. The particular monarch whose humours are the
subject of this ‘plain unvarnished’ history would have liked nothing
better than to be allowed to dine in simplicity and peace without his
conversation being noted, and without having a flunkey at hand to watch
every morsel of food go into his mouth. He would have liked to eat
freely, talk freely, and conduct himself generally with the ease of a
private gentleman.

All this being denied to him, he hated the dinner-hour as ardently as
he hated receiving illuminated addresses, and the freedom of cities. Yet
all things costly and beautiful were combined to make his royal table a
picture which would have pleased the eyes and taste of a Marguerite de
Valois. On the evening of the day on which he had determined, as he
had said to himself, to ‘begin to reign,’ it looked more than usually
attractive. Some trifling chance had made the floral decorations more
tasteful--some amiable humour of the providence which rules daily
events, had ordained that two or three of the prettiest Court ladies
should be present;--Prince Humphry and his two brothers, Rupert and
Cyprian, were at table,--and though conversation was slow and scant, the
picturesqueness of the scene was not destroyed by silence. The apartment
which was used as a private dining-room when their Majesties had no
guests save the members of their own household, was in itself a gem of
art and architecture,--it had been designed and painted from floor to
ceiling by one of the most famous of the dead and gone masters, and its
broad windows opened out on a white marble loggia fronting the ocean,
where festoons of flowers clambered and hung, in natural tufts and
trails of foliage and blossom, mingling their sweet odours with the
fresh scent of the sea. Amid all the glow and delicacy of colour, the
crowning perfection of the perfect environment was the Queen-Consort,
lovelier in her middle-age than most women in their teens. An exquisite
figure of stateliness and dignity, robed in such hues and adorned with
such jewels as best suited her statuesque beauty, and attended by ladies
of whose more youthful charms she was never envious, having indeed no
cause for envy, she was a living defiance to the ravages of time, and
graced her royal husband’s dinner-table with the same indifferent
ease as she graced his throne, unchanging in the dazzling light of her
physical faultlessness. He, looking at her with mingled impatience
and sadness, almost wished she would grow older in appearance with her
years, and lose that perfect skin, white as alabaster,--that
glittering but cold luminance of eye. For experience had taught him the
worthlessness of beauty unaccompanied by tenderness, and fair faces had
no longer the first attraction for him. His eldest son, Prince Humphry,
bore a strong resemblance to himself,--he was tall and slim, with a fine
face, and a well-built muscular figure; the other two younger princes,
Rupert and Cyprian, aged respectively eighteen and sixteen, were like
their mother,--beautiful in form and feature, but as indifferent to all
tenderness of thought and sentiment as they were full of splendid health
and vigour. And, despite the fact that the composition and surroundings
of his household were, to all outward appearances, as satisfactory as a
man in his position could expect them to be, the King was intellectually
and spiritually aware of the emptiness of the shell he called ‘home.’

Love was lacking; his beautiful wife was the ice-wall against which all
waves of feeling froze as they fell into the stillness of death. His
sons had been born as the foals of a racing stud might be born,--merely
to continue the line of blood and succession. They were not the dear
offspring of passion or of tenderness. The coldness of their mother’s
nature was strongly engendered in them, and so far they had never shown
any particular affection for their parents. The princes Rupert and
Cyprian thought of nothing all day but sports and games of skill; they
studied serious tasks unwillingly, and found their position as sons of
the reigning monarch, irksome, and even ridiculous. They had caught the
infection of that diseased idea which in various exaggerated forms is
tending to become more or less universal, and to work great mischief to
nations,--namely, that ‘sport’ is more important than policy, and that
all matters relating to ‘sport,’ are more worth attention than wisdom in
government. Of patriotism, or love of country they had none; and laughed
to scorn the grand old traditions and sentiments of national glory and
honour, which had formerly inspired the poets of their land to many
a wild and beautiful chant of battle or of victory. How to pass the
day--how best to amuse themselves--this was their first thought on
waking every morning,--football, cricket, tennis and wrestling formed
their chief subjects of conversation; and though they had professors
and tutors of the most qualified and certificated ability, they made
no secret of their utter contempt for all learning and literature. They
were fine young animals; but did less with the brains bestowed upon them
than the working bee who makes provision of honey for the winter, or the
swallow that builds its nest under warmly sheltered eaves.

Prince Humphry, however, was of a different nature. From a shy, somewhat
unmanageable boy, he had developed into a quiet, dreamy youth, fond of
books, music, and romantic surroundings. He avoided the company of his
brothers whenever it was possible; their loud voices, boisterous spirits
and perpetual chatter concerning the champions of this or that race
or match, bored him infinitely, and he was at no pains to disguise his
boredom. During the last year he seemed to have grown up suddenly into
full manhood,--he had begun to assert his privileges as Heir-Apparent,
and to enjoy the freedom his position allowed him. Yet the manner of
his enjoyment was somewhat singular for a young man who formed a central
figure in the circle of the land’s Royalty,--he cared nothing at all
for the amusements and dissipations of the time; he merely showed an
abnormal love of solitude, which was highly unflattering to fashionable
society. It was on this subject that the King had decided to speak
with him,--and he watched him with closer attention than usual on this
particular evening when his habit of absenting himself all day in his
yacht had again excited comment. It was easy to see that the Prince had
been annoyed by the message Sir Roger de Launay had conveyed to him on
his arrival home,--a message to the effect that, as soon as dinner was
concluded, he was required to attend his Majesty in private; and all
through the stately and formal repast, his evident irritation and
impatience cast a shadow of vague embarrassment over the royal
party,--with the exception of the princes Rupert and Cyprian, who were
never embarrassed by anything, and who were more apt to be amused than
disquieted by the vexation of others. Welcome relief was at last given
by the serving of coffee,--and the Queen and all her ladies adjourned to
their own apartments. With their departure the rest of the circle soon
dispersed, there being no special guests present; and at a sign from
De Launay, Prince Humphry reluctantly followed his father into a small
private smoking-room adjacent to the open loggia, where the equerry,
bowing low, left the two together.

For a moment the King kept silence, while he chose a cigar from
the silver box on the table. Then, lighting it, he handed the box
courteously to his son.

“Will you smoke, Humphry?”

“Thanks, Sir,--no.”

The King seated himself; Prince Humphry remained standing.

“You had a favourable wind for your expedition today;” said the monarch
at last, beginning to smoke placidly--“I observe that The Islands appear
to have won special notice from you. What is the attraction? The climate
or the scenery?”

The Prince was silent.

“I like fine scenery myself,--” continued the King--“I also like a
change of air. But variation in both is always desirable,--and for this,
it is unwise to go to the same place every day!”

Still the Prince said nothing. His father looked up and studied his face
attentively, but could guess nothing from its enigmatical expression.

“You seem tongue-tied, Humphry!” he said--“Come, sit down! Let us talk
this out. Can you not trust me, your father, as a friend?”

“I wish I could!” answered the young man, half inaudibly.

“And can you not?”

“No. You have never loved me!”

The King drew his cigar from his mouth, and flicking off a morsel of
ash, looked at its end meditatively.

“Well--no!--I cannot say honestly that I have. Love,--it is a ridiculous
word, Humphry, but it has a meaning on certain occasions!--love for the
children of your mother is an impossibility!”

“Sir, I am not to blame for my mother’s disposition.”

“True--very true. You are not to blame. But you exist. And that you do
exist is a fact of national importance. Will you not sit down?”

“At your command, Sir!” and the Prince seated himself opposite his
father, who having studied his cigar sufficiently, replaced it between
his lips and went on smoking for a few minutes before he spoke again.
Then he resumed:--

“Your existence, I repeat, Humphry, is a fact of national importance.
To you falls the Throne when I have done with it, and life has done
with me. Therefore, your conduct,--your mode of life--your example in
manners--concern, not me, so much as the nation. You say that you cannot
trust me as a friend, because I have never loved you. Is not this a
somewhat childish remark on your part? We live in a very practical
age--love is not a necessary tie between human beings as things go
nowadays;--the closest bond of friendship rests on the basis of cash

“I am perfectly aware of that!” said the Prince, fixing his fine dark
eyes full on his father’s face--“And yet, after all, love is such a
vital necessity, that I have only to look at you, in order to realize
the failure and mistake of trying to do without it!”

The King gave him a glance of whimsical surprise.

“So!--you have begun to notice what I have known for years!” he said
lightly--“Clever young man! What fine fairy finger is pointing out to
you my deficiencies, while supplying your own? Do you learn to estimate
the priceless value of love while contemplating the romantic groves and
woodlands of The Islands? Do you read poetry there?--or write it? Or
talk it?”

Prince Humphry coloured,--then grew very pale.

“When I misuse my time, Sir,” he said--“Surely it will then be needful
to catechise me on the manner in which I spend it,--but not till then!”

“Fairly put!” answered the King--“But I have an idea--it may be a
mistaken idea,--still I have it--that you _are_ misusing your time,
Humphry! And this is the cause of our present little discussion. If I
knew that you occupied yourself with the pleasures befitting your age
and rank, I should be more at ease.”

“What do you consider to be the pleasures befitting my age and rank?”
 asked the Prince with a touch of satire; “Making a fool of myself

The King smiled.

“Well!--it would be better to make a fool of yourself generally than
particularly! Folly is not so harmful when spread like jam over a whole
slice of bread,--but it may cause a life-long sickness, if swallowed in
one secret gulp of sweetness!”

The Prince moved uneasily.

“You think I am catechising you,--and you resent it--but, my dear boy,
let me again remind you that you are in a manner answerable to the
nation for your actions; and especially to that particular section of
the nation called Society. Society is the least and worst part of the
whole community--but it has to be considered by such servants of the
public as ourselves. You know what James the First of England wrote
concerning the ‘domestic regulations’ on the conduct of a prince and
future king? ‘A king is set as one on a stage, whose smallest, actions
and gestures all the people gazinglie do behold; and, however just in
the discharge of his office, yet if his behaviour be light or dissolute,
in indifferent actions, the people, who see but the outward part,
conceive preoccupied conceits of the king’s inward intention, which
although with time, the trier of all truth, will evanish by the evidence
of the contrarie effect, yet, _interim patitur justus_, and prejudged
conceits will, in the meantime, breed contempt, the mother of rebellion
and disorder.’ Poor James of the ‘goggle eyes and large hysterical
heart’ as Carlyle describes him! Do you not agree with his estimate of a
royal position?”

“I am not aware, Sir, that my behaviour can as yet be called light or
dissolute;” replied the Prince coldly, with a touch of hauteur.

“I do not call it so, Humphry”--said the King--“To the best of my
knowledge, your conduct has always been most exemplary. But with all
your excessive decorum, you are mysterious. That is bad! Society will
not endure being kept in the dark, or outside the door of things, like
a bad child! It wants to be in the room, and know everything and
everybody. And this reminds me of another point on which the good
English James offers sound advice. ‘Remember to be plaine and sensible
in your language; for besides, it is the tongue’s office to be the
messenger of the mind, it may be thought a point of imbecilitie of
spirit, in a king to speak obscurely, much more untrewly, as if he stood
in awe of any in uttering his thoughts.’ That is precisely your mood at
the present moment, Humphry,--you stand ‘in awe’--of me or of someone
else,--in ‘uttering your thoughts.’”

“Pardon me, Sir,--I do not stand in awe of you or of anyone;” said the
Prince composedly--“I simply do not choose to ‘utter my thoughts’ just

The King looked at him in surprise, and with a touch of admiration. The
defiant air he had unconsciously assumed became him,--his handsome
face was pale, and his dark eyes coldly brilliant, like those of his
beautiful mother, with the steel light of an inflexible resolve.

“You do not choose?” said the King, after a pause--“You decline to give
any explanation of your long hours of absence?--your constant visits to
The Islands, and your neglect of those social duties which should keep
you at Court?”

“I decline to do so for the present,” replied the young man decisively;
“I can see no harm in my preference for quietness rather than
noise,--for scenes of nature rather than those of artificial folly. The
Islands are but two hours sail from this port,--little tufts of land set
in the sea, where the coral-fishers dwell. They are beautiful in
their natural adornment of foliage and flower;--I go there to read--to
dream--to think of life as a better, purer thing than what you call
‘society’ would make it for me; you cannot blame me for this?”

The King was silent.

“If it is your wish,”--went on the Prince--“that I should stay in the
palace more, I will obey you. If you desire me to be seen oftener in
the capital, I will endeavour to fulfil your command, though the streets
stifle me. But, for God’s sake, do not make me a puppet on show before
my time,--or marry me to a woman I hate, merely for the sake of heirs to
a wretched Throne!”

The King rose from his chair, and, walking towards the garden, threw the
rest of his cigar out among the foliage, where the burning morsel shone
like a stray glowworm in the green. Then he turned towards his son;--his
face was grave, almost stern.

“You can go, Humphry!” he said;--“I have no more to say to you at
present. You talk wildly and at random, as if you were, by some means or
other, voluntarily bent upon unfitting yourself for the position you
are destined to occupy. You will do well, I think, to remain more in
evidence at Court. You will also do well to be seen at some of the
different great social functions of the day. But I shall not coerce you.
Only--consider well what I have said!--and if you have a secret”--he
paused, and then repeated with emphasis--“I say, if you have a secret of
any kind, be advised, and confide in me before it is too late! Otherwise
you may find yourself betrayed unawares! Good-night!”

He walked away without throwing so much as a backward glance at the
Prince, who stood amazed at the suddenness and decision with which he
had brought the conversation to a close; and it was not till his tall
figure had disappeared that the young man began to realize the doubtful
awkwardness of the attitude he had assumed towards one who, both as
parent and king, had the most urgent claim in the world upon his respect
and obedience. Impatient and angry with himself, he crossed the loggia
and went out into the garden beyond. A young moon, slender as a bent
willow wand, gleamed in the clear heavens among hosts of stars more
brilliantly visible than itself, and the soft air, laden with the
perfume of thousands of flowers, cooled his brain and calmed his nerves.
The musical low murmur of the sea, lapping against the shore below the
palace walls, suggested a whole train of pleasing and poetical fancies,
and he strolled along the dewy grass paths, under tangles of scented
shrubs and arching boughs of pine, giving himself up to such idyllic
dreams of life and life’s fairest possibilities, as only youthful and
imaginative souls can indulge in. He was troubled and vexed by his
father’s warning, but not sufficiently to pay serious heed to it. His
‘secret’ was safe so far;--and all he had to do, so he considered, was
to exercise a little extra precaution.

“There is only Von Glauben,”--he thought, “and he would never betray me.
Besides it is a mere question of another year--and then I can make all
the truth known.”

The lovely long-drawn warble of a nightingale broke the stillness
around him with a divine persistence of passion. He listened, standing
motionless, his eyes lifted towards the dark boughs above him, from
whence the golden notes dropped liquidly; and his heart beat quickly as
he thought of a voice sweeter than that of any heavenly-gifted bird, a
face fairer than that of the fabled goddess who on such a night as this
descended from her silver moon-car to enchant Endymion;--and he murmured
half aloud--

“Who would not risk a kingdom--ay! a thousand kingdoms!--for such
happiness as I possess! It is a foolish, blind world nowadays, that
forgets the glory of its youth,--the glow, the breath, the tenderness of
love!--all for amassing gold and power! I will not be of such a world,
nor with it;--I will not be like my father, the slave of pomp and
circumstance;--I will live an unfettered life--yes!--even if I have to
resign the throne for the sake of freedom, still I will be free!”

He strolled on, absorbed in romantic reverie, and the nightingale’s
song followed him through the winding woods down to the shore, where the
waves made other music of their own, which harmonised with the dreamy
fancies of his mind.

Meanwhile, the King had sought his consort in her own apartments.
Walking down the great corridor which led to these, the most beautiful
rooms in the palace, he became aware of the silvery sound of stringed
instruments mingling with harmonious voices,--though he scarcely heeded
the soft rush of melody which came thus wafted to his ears. He was full
of thoughts and schemes,--his son’s refusal to confide in him had not
seriously troubled him, because he knew he should, with patience, find
out in good time all that the young Prince had declined to explain,--and
his immediate interest was centred in his own immediate plans.

On reaching the ante-room leading to the Queen’s presence-chamber, he
was informed that her Majesty was listening to a concert in the rosery.
Thither he went unattended,--and passing through a long suite of
splendid rooms, each one more sumptuously adorned than the last, he
presently stepped out on the velvet greensward of one of the most
perfect rose gardens in the world--a garden walled entirely round with
tall hedges of the clambering flowers which gave it its name, and which
were trailed up on all sides, so as to form a ceiling or hanging
canopy above. In the centre of this floral hall, now in full blossom,
a fountain tossed up one tall column of silver spray; and at its upper
end, against a background of the dainty white roses called “Felicité
perpétuelle” sat the Queen, in a high chair of carved ivory, surrounded
by her ladies. Delicious music, performed by players and singers who
were hidden behind the trees, floated in voluptuous strains upon the
air, and the King, looking at the exquisite grouping of fair women and
flowers, lit by the coloured lamps which gleamed here and there among
the thick foliage, wondered to himself how it chanced, that amid
surroundings which were calculated to move the senses to the most
refined and delicate rapture, he himself could feel no quickening pulse,
no touch of admiration. These open-air renderings of music and song were
the Queen’s favourite form of recreation;--at such times alone would her
proud face soften and her eyes grow languid with an unrevealed weight of
dreams. But should her husband, or any one of his sex break in upon the
charmed circle, her pleasure was at once clouded,--and the cold hauteur
of her beautiful features became again inflexibly frozen. Such was the
case now, when perceiving the King, she waved her hand as a sign for the
music to cease; and with a glance of something like wonderment at his
intrusion, saluted him profoundly as he entered the precincts of her
garden Court. But for once he did not pause as usual, on his way to
where she sat,--but lightly acknowledging the deep curtseys of the
ladies in attendance, he advanced towards her and raising her hand in
courtly homage to his lips, seated himself carelessly in a low chair at
her feet.

“Let the music go on!” he said; “I am here to listen.”

The Queen looked at him,--he met her eyes with an expression that she
had never seen on his face before.

“Suffer me to have my way!” he said to her in a low tone--“Let your
singers finish their programme; afterwards do me the favour to dismiss
your women, for I must speak with you alone.”

She bent her head in acquiescence; and re-seated herself on her ivory
throne. The sign was given for the continuance of the music, and the
King, leaning back in his chair, half closed his eyes as he listened
dreamily to the harmonious throbbing of harps and violins around him,
in the stillness of the languid southern night. His hand almost brushed
against his wife’s jewelled robes--the scent of the great lilies on her
breast was wafted to him with every breath of air, and he thought--“All
this would be Paradise,--with any other woman!” And while he so thought,
the clear tenor voice of one of the unseen singers rang out in half gay,
half tender tones:

  If I loved you, and you loved me,
  How happy this little world would be--
  The light of the day, the dancing hours,
  The skies, the trees, the birds and flowers,
  Would all be part of our perfect gladness;--
  And never a note of pain or sadness
  Would jar life’s beautiful melody
  If I loved you, and you loved me!

  ‘If I loved you!’ Why, I scarcely know
  How if I did, the time would go!--
  I should forget my dreary cares,
  My sordid toil, my long despairs,
  I should watch your smile, and kneel at your feet,
  And live my life in the love of you, Sweet!--
  So mad, so glad, so proud I should be,
  If I loved you, and you loved me!

  ‘If you loved me!’ Ah, nothing so strange
  As that could chance in this world of change!--
  As well expect a planet to fall,
  Or a Queen to dwell in a beggar’s hall--
  But if you did,--romance and glory
  Might spring from our lives’ united story,
  And angels might be less happy than we--
  If I loved you and you loved me!

  ‘If I loved you and you loved me!’
  Alas, ‘t is a joy we shall never see!
  You are too fair--I am too cold;--
  We shall drift along till we both grow old,
  Till we reach the grave, and gasping, die,
  Looking back on the days that have passed us by,
  When ‘what might have been,’ can no longer be,--
  When I lost you, and you lost me!

The song concluded abruptly, and with passion;--and the King, turning on
his elbow, glanced with a touch of curiosity at the face of his Queen.
There was not a flicker of emotion on its fair cold calmness,--not a
quiver on the beautiful lips, or a sigh to stir the quiet breast on
which the lilies rested, white and waxen, and heavily odorous. He
withdrew his gaze with a half smile at his own folly for imagining that
she could be moved by a mere song to any expression of feeling,--even
for a moment,--and allowed his glance to wander unreservedly over the
forms and features of the other ladies in attendance who, conscious of
his regard, dropped their eyelids and blushed softly, after the fashion
approved by the heroines of the melodramatic stage. Whereat he began to
think of the tiresome sameness of women generally; and their irritating
habit of living always at two extremes,--either all ardour, or all

“Both are equally fatiguing to a man’s mind,” he thought
impatiently--“The only woman that is truly fascinating is the one who
is never in the same mind two days together. Fair on Monday, plain on
Tuesday, sweet on Wednesday, sour on Thursday, tender on Friday, cold on
Saturday, and in all moods at once on Sunday,--that being a day of rest!
I should adore such a woman as that if I ever met her, because I should
never know her mind towards me!”

A soft serenade rendered by violins, with a harp accompaniment, was
followed by a gay mazurka, played by all the instruments together,--and
this finished the musical programme.

The Queen rose, accepting the hand which the King extended to her,
and moved with him slowly across the rose-garden, her long snowy train
glistering with jewels, and held up from the greensward by a pretty
page, who, in his picturesque costume of rose and gold, demurely
followed his Royal lady’s footsteps,--and so amid the curtseying
ladies-in-waiting and other attendants, they passed together into a
private boudoir, at the threshold of which the Queen’s train-bearer
dropped his rich burden of perfumed velvet and gems, and bowing low,
left their Majesties together.

Shutting the door upon him with his own hand, the King drew a heavy
portière across it,--and then walking round the room saw that every
window was closed,--every nook secure. The Queen’s boudoir was one of
the most sacred corners in the whole palace,--no one, not even the most
intimate lady of the Court in personal attendance on her Majesty, dared
enter it without special permission; and this being the case, the
Queen herself was faintly moved to surprise at the extra precaution
her husband appeared to be taking to ensure privacy. She stood silently
watching his movements till he came up to her, and bowing courteously,

“I pray you, be seated, Madam! I will not detain you long.”

She obeyed his gesture, and sank down in a chair with that inimitable
noiseless grace which made every attitude of hers a study for an artist,
and waited for his next words; while he, standing opposite to her, bent
his eyes upon her face with a certain wistfulness and appeal.

“I have never asked you a favour,” he began--“and--since the day we
married,--I have never sought your sympathy. The years have come and
gone, leaving no visible trace on either you or me, so far as outward
looks go,--and if they have scarred and wrinkled us inwardly, only God
can see those scars! But as time moves on with a man,--I know not how it
is with a woman,--if he be not altogether a fool, he begins to consider
the way in which he has spent, or is spending his life,--whether he has
been, or is yet likely to be of any use to the world he lives in,--or
if he is of less account than the blown froth of the sea, or the sand
on the shore. Myriads and myriads of men and women are no more than
this--no more than midges or ants or worms;--but every now and then in
the course of centuries, one man does stand forth from the million,--one
heart does beat courageously enough to send the firm echo of its
pulsations through a long vista of time,--one soul does so exalt and
inspire the rest of the world by its great example that we are, through
its force reminded of something divine,--something high and true in a
low wilderness of shams!”

He paused; the Queen raised her beautiful eyes, and smiled strangely.

“Have you only just now thought of this?” she said.

He flushed, and bit his lip.

“To be perfectly honest with you, Madam, I have thought of nothing worth
thinking about for many years! Most men in my position would probably
make the same confession. Perhaps had you given me any great work to do
for your sake I should have done it! Had _you_ inspired me to achieve
some great conquest, either for myself or others, I should no doubt
have conquered! But I have lived for twenty-one years in your admirable
company without being commanded by you to do anything worthy of a
king;--I am now about to command Myself!--in order to leave some notable
trace of my name in history.”

While he thus spoke, a faint flush coloured the Queen’s cheeks, but it
quickly died away, leaving her very pale. Her fingers strayed among the
great jewels she wore, and toyed unconsciously with a ruby talisman cut
in the shape of a heart, and encircled with diamonds. The King noted the
flash of the gems against the whiteness of her hand, and said:

“Your heart, Madam, is like the jewel you hold!--clear crimson, and full
of fire,--but it is not the fire of Heaven, though you may perchance
judge it to be so. Rather is it of hell!--(I pray you to pardon me for
the roughness of this suggestion!)--for one of the chief crimes of
the devil is unconquerable hatred of the human race. You share
Satan’s aversion to man!--and strange indeed it is that even the most
sympathetic companionship with your own sex cannot soften that aversion!
However, we will not go into this;--the years have proved you true to
your own temperament, and there is nothing to be said on the matter,
either of blame or of praise. As I said, I have never asked a favour of
you, nor have I sought the sympathy which it is not in your nature
to give. I have not even claimed your obedience in any particular
strictness of form; but that is my errand to you to-night,--indeed it is
the sole object of this private interview,--to claim your entire, your
unfaltering, your implicit obedience!”

She raised her head haughtily.

“To what commands, Sir?” she asked.

“To those I have here written,--” and he handed her a paper folded
in two, which she took wonderingly, as he extended it. “Read this
carefully!--and if you have any objections to urge, I am willing to
listen to you with patience, though scarcely to alter the conditions
laid down.”

He turned away, and walked slowly through the room, pausing a moment
to whistle to a tiny bird swinging in a gilded cage, that perked up its
pretty head at his call and twittered with pleasure.

“So you respond to kindness, little one!” he said softly,--“You are more
Christ-like in that one grace than many a Christian!”

He started, as a light touch fell on his shoulder, and he saw the Queen
standing beside him. She held the paper he had given her in one hand,
and as he looked at her enquiringly she touched it with her lips, and
placed it in her bosom.

“I swear my obedience to your instructions, Sir!” she said,--“Do not
fear to trust me!”

Gently he took her hands and kissed them.

“I thank you!” he said simply.

For a moment they confronted each other. The beautiful cold woman’s eyes
drooped under the somewhat sad and searching gaze of the man.

“But--your life!--” she murmured.

“My life!” He laughed and dropped her hands. “Would you care, Madam, if
I were dead? Would you shed any tears? Not you! Why should you? At this
late hour of time, when after twenty-one years passed in each other’s
close company we are no nearer to each other in heart and soul than if
the sea murmuring yonder at the foot of these walls were stretching
its whole width between us! Besides--we are both past our youth! And,
according to certain highly instructed scientists and philosophers, the
senses and affections grow numb with age. I do not believe this theory
myself--for the jejune love of youth is as a taper’s flame to the great
and passionate tenderness of maturity, when the soul, and not the body,
claims its due; when love is not dragged down to the vulgar level of
mere cohabitation, after the fashion of the animals in a farmyard,
but rises to the best height of human sympathy and intelligent
comprehension. Who knows!--I may experience such a love as that
yet,--and so may you!”

She was silent.

“Talking of love,”--he went on--“May I ask whether our son,--or rather
the nation’s son, Humphry,--ever makes you his confidante?”

“Never!” she replied.

“I thought not! We do not seem to be the kind of parents admired
in moral story-books, Madam! We are not the revered darlings of our
children. In fact, our children have the happy disposition of animal
cubs,--once out of the nursing stage, they forget they ever had parents.
It is quite the natural and proper thing, born as they were born,--it
would never do for them to have any over-filial regard for us. Imagine
Humphry weeping for my death, or yours! What a grotesque idea! And as
for Rupert and Cyprian,--it is devoutly to be hoped that when we die,
our funerals may be well over before the great cricket matches of the
year come on, as otherwise they will curse us for having left the world
at an inconvenient season!” He laughed. “How sentiment has gone out
nowadays, or how it seems to have gone out! Yet it slumbers in the
heart of the nation,--and if it should ever awaken,--well!--it will be
dangerous! I asked you about Humphry, because I imagine he is entangled
in some love-affair. If it should be agreeable to your humour to go with
me across to The Islands one day this week, we may perhaps by chance
discover the reason of his passion for that particular kind of scenery!”

The Queen’s eyes opened wonderingly.

“The Islands!” she repeated,--“The Islands? Why, only the coral-fishers
live there,--they have a community of their own, and are jealous of all
strangers. What should Humphry do there?”

“That is more than I can tell you,” answered the King,--“And it is more
than he will himself explain. Nevertheless, he is there nearly every
day,--some attraction draws him, but what, I cannot discover. If Humphry
were of the soul of me, as he is of the body of me, I should not even
try to fathom his secret,--but he is the nation’s child--heir to its
throne--and as such, it is necessary that we, for the nation’s sake,
should guard him in the nation’s interests. If you chance to learn
anything of the object of his constant sea-wanderings, I trust you will
find it coincident with your pleasure to inform me?”

“I shall most certainly obey you in this, Sir, as in all other things!”
 she replied.

He moved a step or two towards her.

“Good-night!” he said very gently, and detaching one of the lilies from
her corsage, took it in his own hand. “Good-night! This flower will
remind me of you;--white and beautiful, with all the central gold deep

He looked at her intently, with a lingering look, half of tenderness,
half of regret, and bowing in the courtliest fashion of homage, left her

She remained alone, the velvet folds of her train flowing about her
feet, and the jewels on her breast flashing like faint sparks of flame
in the subdued glow of the shaded lamplight. She was touched for the
first time in her life by the consciousness of something infinitely
noble, and altogether above her in her husband’s nature. Slowly she
drew out the paper he had given her from her bosom and read it through
again--and yet once again. Almost unconsciously to herself a mist
gathered in her eyes and softened into two bright tears, which dropped
down her fair cheeks, and lost themselves among her diamonds.

“He is brave!” she murmured--“Braver than I thought he could ever be--”

She roused herself sharply from her abstraction. Emotions which were
beyond her own control had strangely affected her, and the humiliating
idea that her moods had for a moment escaped beyond her guidance made
her angry with herself for what she considered mere weakness. And
passing quickly out of the boudoir, in the vague fear that solitude
might deepen the sense of impotence and failure which insinuated itself
slowly upon her, like a dull blight creeping through her heart and soul,
she rejoined her ladies, the same great Queen as ever, with the same
look of indifference on her face, the same chill smile, the same
perfection of loveliness, unwithered by any visible trace of sorrow or
of passion.



The next day the heavens were clouded; and occasional volleys of heavy
thunder were mingled with the gusts of wind and rain which swept over
the city, and which lashed the fair southern sea into a dark semblance
of such angry waves as wear away northern coasts into bleak and rocky
barrenness. It was disappointing weather to multitudes, for it was the
feast-day of one of the numerous saints whose names fill the calendar of
the Roman Church,--and a great religious procession had been organized
to march from the market-place to the Cathedral, in which two or three
hundred children and girls had been chosen to take part. The fickle
bursts of sunshine which every now and again broke through the lowering
sky, decided the priests to carry out their programme in spite of the
threatening storm, in the hope that it would clear off completely with
the afternoon. Accordingly, groups of little maidens, in white robes and
veils, began to assemble with their flags and banners at the appointed
hour round the old market cross, which,--grey and crumbling at the
summit,--bent over the streets like a withered finger, crook’d as it
were, in feeble remonstrance at the passing of time,--while glimpses of
young faces beneath the snowy veils, and chatter of young voices, made
brightness and music around its frowning and iron-bound base. Shortly
before three o’clock the Cathedral bells began to chime, and crowds
of people made their way towards the sacred edifice in the laughing,
pushing, gesticulating fashion of southerners, to whom a special service
at the Church is like a new comedy at the theatre,--women with coloured
kerchiefs knotted over their hair or across their bosoms--men, more or
less roughly clad, yet all paying compliment to the Saint’s feast-day
by some extra smart touch in their attire, if it were only a pomegranate
flower or orange-blossom stuck in their hats, or behind their ears.
It was a mixed crowd, all of the working classes, who are proverbially
called ‘the common,’ as if those who work, are not a hundred times
more noble than those who do nothing! A few carriages, containing some
wealthy ladies of the nobility, who, to atone for their social sins,
were in the habit of contributing largely to the Church, passed every
now and again through the crowd, but taken as a spectacle it was simply
a ‘popular’ show, in which the children of the people took part, and
where the people themselves were evidently more amused than edified.

While the bells were ringing the procession gradually formed;--a
dozen or more priests leading,--incense-bearers and acolytes walking
next,--and then the long train of little children and girls carrying
their symbolic banners, following after. The way they had to walk was a
steep, winding ascent, through tortuous streets, to the Cathedral, which
stood in the centre of a great square on an eminence which overlooked
the whole city, and as soon as they started they began to sing,--softly
at first, then more clearly and sweetly, till gradually the air grew
full of melody, rising and falling on the capricious gusts of wind which
tore at the gilded and emblazoned banners, and tossed the white veils of
the maidens about like wreaths of drifting snow. Two men standing on the
Cathedral hill, watched the procession gradually ascending--one tall and
heavily-built, with a dark leonine head made more massive-looking by
its profusion of thick and unmanageable hair--the other lean and
narrow-shouldered, with a peaked reddish-auburn beard, which he
continually pulled and twitched at nervously as though its growth on his
chin was more a matter of vexation than convenience. He was apparently
not so much interested in the Church festival as he was in his
companion’s face, for he was perpetually glancing up at that brooding
countenance, which, half hidden as it was in wild hair and further
concealed by thick moustache and beard, showed no expression at all,
unless an occasional glimpse of full flashing eyes under the bushy
brows, gave a sudden magnetic hint of something dangerous and not to be
trifled with.

“You do not believe anything you hear or read, Sergius Thord!” he
said--“Will you twist your whole life into a crooked attitude of
suspicion against all mankind?” He who was named Sergius Thord, lifted
himself slowly from the shoulders upwards, the action making his great
height and broad chest even more apparent than before. A gleam of white
teeth shone under his black moustache.

“I do not twist my life into a crooked attitude, Johan Zegota,” he
replied. “If it is crooked, others have twisted it for me! Why should I
believe what I hear, since it is the fashion to lie? Why should I
accept what I read, since it is the business of the press to deceive the
public? And why do you ask me foolish questions? You should be better
instructed, seeing that your creed is the same as mine!”

“Have I ever denied it?” exclaimed Zegota warmly--“But I have said, and
I say again that I believe the news is true,--and that these howling
hypocrites,--” this with an angry gesture of his hand towards the open
square where the chanting priests who headed the procession were coming
into view--“have truly received an unlooked-for check from the King!”

Sergius Thord laid one hand heavily on his shoulder.

“When the King--when any king--does anything useful in the world, then
you may hang me with your own hands, Zegota! When did you ever hear,
except in myths of the past, of a monarch who cared for his people more
than his crown? Tell me that! Tell me of any king who so truly loved the
people he was called upon to govern, that he sacrificed his own money,
as well as his own time, to remedy their wrongs?--to save them from
unjust government, to defend them from cruel taxation?--to see that
their bread was not taken from their mouths by foreign competition?--and
to make it possible for them to live in the country of their birth in
peace and prosperity? Bah! There never was such a king! And that this
man,--who has for three years left us to the mercy of the most accursed
cheat and scoundrel minister that ever was in power,--has now declared
his opposition to the Jesuits’, is more than I will or can believe.”

“If it were true?”--suggested Zegota, with a more than usually vicious
tug at his beard.

“If it were true, it would not alter my opinion, or set aside my
intention,” replied Thord,--“I would admit that the King had done one
good deed before going to hell! Look! Here come the future traitresses
of men--girls trained by priests to deceive their nearest and dearest!
Poor children! They know nothing as yet of the uses to which their lives
are destined! If they could but die now, in their innocent faith and
stupidity, how much better for all the world!”

As he spoke, the wind, swooping into the square, and accompanied by
a pattering gust of rain, fell like a fury upon the leaders of the
religious procession and tore one of the great banners out of the hands
of the priest who held it, beating it against his head and face with so
much force that he fell backward to the ground under its weight, while
from a black cloud above, a flash of lightning gleamed, followed almost
instantaneously by a loud clap of thunder, which shook the square with
a mighty reverberation like that of a bursting bomb. The children
screamed,--and ran towards the Cathedral pellmell; and for a few moments
there ensued indescribable confusion, the priests, the people, and the
white-veiled girls getting mixed together in a wild hurly-burly. Sergius
Thord suddenly left his companion’s side, and springing on a small
handcart that stood empty near the centre of the square, his tall
figure rose up all at once like a dark apparition above the heads of
the assembled crowd, and his voice, strong, clear, and vibrating with
passion, rang out like a deep alarm bell, through all the noise of the

“Whither are you going, O foolish people? To pray to God? Pray to
Him here, then, under the flash of His lightning!--in the roll of His
thunder!--beneath His cathedral-canopy of clouds! Pray to Him with all
your hearts, your brains, your reason, your intelligence, and leave mere
lip-service and mockery to priests; and to these poor children, who, as
yet, know no better than to obey tyrants! Would you find out God? He
is here--with me,--with you!--in the earth, in the sky, in the sun and
storm! Whenever Truth declares a living fact, God speaks,--whenever we
respond to that Truth, God hears! No church, no cathedral contains His
presence more than we shall find it here--with us--where we stand!”

The people heard, and a great silence fell upon them. All faces were
turned toward the speaker, and none appeared to heed the great drops
of fast-falling rain. One of the priests who was trying to marshal the
scattered children into their former order, so that they might enter the
Cathedral in the manner arranged for the religious service, looked up
to see the cause of the sudden stillness, and muttered a curse under his
breath. But even while the oath escaped his lips, he gave the signal for
the sacred chanting to be resumed, and in another moment the ‘Litany
of the Virgin’ was started in stentorian tones by the leaders of the
procession. Intimidated by the looks, as well as by the commands of the
priests, the girls and children joined in the chanting with tremulous
voices, as they began to file through the Cathedral doors and enter the
great nave. But a magnetic spell, stronger than any invocation of the
Church, had fallen upon the crowd, and they all stood as though caught
in the invisible web of some enchanter, their faces turned upwards to
where Thord’s tall figure towered above them. His eyes glittered as
he noted the sudden hush of attention which prevailed, and lifting
his rough cap from his head, he waved it towards the open door of the
Cathedral, through which the grand strains of the organ rolling out from
within gave forth solemn invitation:--

“Sancta Dei Genitrix, Ora pro nobis!”

sang the children, as they passed in line under the ancient porch,
carved with the figures of forgotten saints and bishops, whose stone
countenances had stared at similar scenes through the course of long

“Sancta Dei Genitrix, ora pro nobis!” echoed Sergius Thord--“Do you hear
it, O men? Do you hear it, O women? What does it teach you? ‘Holy Mother
of God!’ Who was she? Was she not merely a woman to whom God descended?
And what is the lesson she gives you? Plainly this--that men should be
as gods, and women as the mothers of gods! For every true and brave man
born into the world has God within him,--is made of God, and must return
to God! And every woman who gives birth to one such, true, brave man,
has given a God-incarnated being to the world! ‘Sancta Dei Genitrix!’
Be all as mothers of gods, O women! Be as gods, O men! Be as gods in
courage, in truth, in wisdom, in freedom! Suffer not devils to have
command of you! For devils there are, as there are gods;--evil there
is, as there is good. Fiends are born of women as gods are--and yet evil
itself is of God, inasmuch as without God there can be neither evil nor
good. Let us help God, we His children, to conquer evil by conquering
it in ourselves--and by refusing to give it power over us! So shall
God show us all goodness,--all pity! So shall He cease to afflict His
children; so will He cease to torture us with undeserved sorrows and
devilish agonies, for which we are not to blame!”

He paused. The singing had ceased; the children’s procession had entered
the Cathedral, and the doors still stood wide open. But the people
remained outside, crowded in the square, and gathering momentarily in
greater numbers.

“Look you!” cried Sergius Thord--“The building which is called the
Sanctuary of God, stands open--why do you not all enter there? Within
are precious marbles, priceless pictures, jewels and relics--and a great
altar raised up by the gifts of wicked dead kings, who by money sought
to atone for their sins to the people. There are priests who fast and
pray in public, and gratify all the lusts of appetite in private. There
are poor and ignorant women who believe whatsoever these priests tell
them--all this you can see if you go inside yonder. Why do you not go?
Why do you remain with me?”

A faint murmur, like the rising ripple of an angry sea, rose from the
crowd, but quickly died away again into silence.

“Shall I tell you why you stay?” went on Thord,--“Because you know I
am your friend--and because you also know that the priests are your
enemies! Because you know that I tell you the truth, and that the
priests tell you lies! Because you feel that all the promises made to
you of happiness in Heaven cannot explain away to your satisfaction the
causes of your bitter suffering and poverty on earth! Because you are
gradually learning that the chief business of priestcraft is to deceive
the people and keep them down,--down, always down in a state of wretched
ignorance. Learn, learn all you can, my brothers--take the only good
thing modern government gives you--Education! Education is thrown at
us like a bone thrown to a dog, half picked by others and barely
nourishing--but take it, take it, friends, for in it you shall find the
marrow of vengeance on your tyrants and oppressors! The education of
the masses means the downfall of false creeds,--the ruin of all
false priests! For it is only through the ignorance of the many
that tyrannical dominion is given into the hands of the few! Slavish
submission to a corrupt government would be impossible if we all refused
to be slaves. O friends, O brothers, throw off your chains! Break down
your prison doors! Some good you have done already--be brave and strong
to do more! Press forward fearlessly and strive for liberty and justice!
To-day we are told that the King has refused crown-lands to the Jesuits.
Shall we be told to-morrow that the King has dismissed Carl Pérousse
from office?”

A long wild shout told how this suggestion had gone straight home to the

“Shall we be told this, I ask? No! Ten thousand times no! The refusal
of the King to grant the priests any wider dominion over us is merely
an act of policy inspired by terror. The King is afraid! He fears the
people will revolt against the Church, and so takes part with them lest
there should be trouble in the land, but he never seems to think there
may be another kind of revolt against himself! His refusal to concede
more place for the accursed practice of Jesuitry is so far good; but his
dismissal of Pérousse would be still better!”

A perfect hurricane of applause from the people gave emphatic testimony
to the truth of these words.

“What is this man, Carl Pérousse?” he went on--“A man of the
people--whose oaths were sworn to the people,--whom the people
themselves brought into power because he promised to remain faithful to
them! He is false,--a traitor and political coward! A mere manufacturer
of kitchen goods, who through our folly was returned to this country’s
senate;--and through our still further credulity is now set in almost
complete dominion over us. Well! We have suffered and are suffering
for our misplaced belief in him;--the question is, how long shall we
continue to suffer? How long are we to be governed by the schemes of
Carl Pérousse, the country’s turncoat,--the trafficker in secret with
Jew speculators? It is for you to decide! It is for you to work out your
own salvation! It is for you to throw off tyranny, and show yourselves
free men of reason and capacity! Just as the priests chant long prayers
to cover their own iniquity, so do the men of government make long
speeches to disguise their own corruption. You know you cannot believe
their promises. Neither can you believe the press, for if this is not
actually bought by Pérousse, it is bribed. And you cannot trust the
King; for he is as a house divided against itself which must fall! Slave
of his own passions, and duped by women, what is he but a burden to the
State? Justice and power should be on the side of kings,--but the days
are come when self-interest and money can even buy a throne! O men, O
women, rouse up your hearts and minds to work for yourselves, to redress
wrongs,--to save your country! Rouse up in your thousands, and with
your toil-worn hands pull down the pillars of iniquity and vice that
overshadow and darken the land! Fight against the insolent pride of
wealth which strives to crush the poor; rouse, rouse your hearts!--open
your eyes and see the evils which are gathering thick upon us!--and
like the lightnings pent up in yonder clouds, leap forth in flame and
thunder, and clear the air!”

A burst of frantic acclamation from the crowd followed this wild
harangue, and while the loud roar of voices yet echoed aloft, a band of
armed police came into view, marching steadily up from the lower streets
of the city. Sergius Thord smiled as he saw them approach.

“Yonder comes the Law!” he said--“A few poor constables, badly paid, who
if they could find anything better to do than to interfere with their
fellow-men would be glad of other occupation! Before they come any
nearer, disperse yourselves, my friends, and so save them trouble! Go
all to your homes and think on my words;--or enter the Cathedral and
pray, those who will--but let this place be as empty of you in five
minutes as though you never had been here! Disperse,--and farewell! We
shall meet again!”

He leaped down from his position and disappeared, and in obedience to
his command the crowd began to melt away with almost miraculous speed.
Before the police could reach the centre of the square, there were only
some thirty or forty people left, and these were quietly entering the
Cathedral where the service for the saint whose feast day was being
celebrated was now in full and solemn progress.

For one instant, on the first step of the great porch, Sergius Thord and
his companion, Johan Zegota, met,--but making a rapid sign to each other
with the left hand, they as quickly separated,--Zegota to enter the
Cathedral, Thord to walk rapidly down one of the narrowest and most
unfrequented streets to the lower precincts of the city.

The afternoon grew darker, and the weather more depressing, and by the
time evening closed in, the rain was pouring persistently. The wind had
ceased, and the thunder had long since died away, its force drenched out
by the weight of water in the clouds. The saint’s day had ended badly
for all concerned;--many of the children who had taken part in the
procession had been carried home by their parents wet through, all the
pretty white frocks and veils of the little girls having been completely
soaked and spoilt by the unkind elements. A drearier night had seldom
gloomed over this fair city of the southern sea, and down in the
quarters of the poor, where men and women dwelt all huddled miserably
in overcrowded tenements, and sin and starvation kept hideous company
together, the streets presented as dark and forbidding an aspect as the
heavy skies blackly brooding above. Here and there a gas-lamp flared
its light upon the drawn little face of some child crouching asleep in a
doorway, or on the pinched and painted features of some wretched outcast
wending her way to the den she called ‘home.’ The loud brutal laughter
of drunken men was mingled with the wailing of half-starved and fretful
infants, and the mean, squalid houses swarmed with the living spawn of
every vice and lust in the calendar of crime. Deep in the heart of the
so-called civilized, beautiful and luxurious city, this ‘quarter of the
poor,’ the cancer of the social body, throbbed and ate its destructive
way slowly but surely on, and Sergius Thord, who longed to lay a sharp
knife against it and cut it out, for the health of the whole community,
was as powerless as Dante in hell to cure the evils he witnessed. Yet
it was not too much to say that he would have given his life to ease
another’s pain,--as swiftly and as readily as he would have taken
life without mercy, in the pursuit of what he imagined to be a just

“How vain, after all, is my labour!” he thought--“How helpless I am to
move the self-centred powers of the Government and the Throne! Even were
all these wretched multitudes to rise with me, and make havoc of the
whole city, should we move so much as one step higher out of the Gehenna
of poverty and crime? Almost I doubt it!”

He walked on past dark open doorways, where some of the miserable
inhabitants of the dens within, stood to inhale the fresh wet air of the
rainy night. His tall form was familiar to most of them,--if they were
considered as wolves of humanity in the sight of the law, they were
all faithful dogs to him; doing as he bade, running where he commanded,
ready at any moment to assemble at any given point and burn and pillage,
or rob and slay. There were no leaders in the political government,--but
this one leader of the massed poor could, had he chosen, have burned
down the city. But he did not choose. He had a far-sighted, clear
brain,--and though he had sworn to destroy abuses wherever he could find
them, he moved always with caution; and his plans were guided, not
by impulse alone, but by earnest consideration for the future. He was
marked out by the police as a dangerous Socialist; and his movements
were constantly tracked and dodged, but so far, he had done nothing
which could empower his arrest. He was a free subject in a free country;
and provided he created no open disturbance he had as much liberty as
a mission preacher to speak in the streets to those who would stop to
listen. He paused now in his walk at the door of one house more than
commonly dingy and tumble-down in appearance, where a man lounged
outside in his shirt-sleeves, smoking.

“Is all well with you, Matsin?” he asked gently.

“All is well!” answered the man called Matsin,--“better than last night.
The child is dead.”

“Dead!” echoed Thord,--“And the mother----”

“Asleep!” answered Matsin. “I gave her opium to save her from madness.
She was hungry, too--the opium fed her and made her forget!”

Thord pushed him gently aside, and went into the house. There on the
floor lay the naked body of a dead child, so emaciated as to be almost a
skeleton; and across it, holding it close with one arm, was stretched a
woman, half clothed, her face hidden in her unbound dark hair, breathing
heavily in a drugged sleep. Great tears filled Thord’s eyes.

“God exists!” he said,--“And He can bear to look upon a sight like this!
If I were God, I should hate myself for letting such things be!”

“Perhaps He does hate Himself!” said the man Matsin, who had also come
in, and now looked at the scene with sullen apathy--“That may be the
cause of all our troubles! I don’t understand the ways of God; or the
ways of man either. I have done no harm. I married the woman--and we had
that one child. I worked hard for both. I could not get sufficient money
to keep us going; I did metal work--very well, so I was told. But they
make it all abroad now by machinery--I cannot compete. They don’t want
new designs they say--the old will serve. I do anything now that I
can--but it is difficult. You, too,--you starve with us!”

“I am poor, if that is what you mean,” said Thord,--“but take all I have
to-night, Matsin--” and he emptied a small purse of silver coins into
the man’s hand. “Bury the poor little innocent one;--and comfort the
mother when she wakes. Comfort her!--love her!--she needs love! I will
be back again to-morrow.”

He strode away quickly, and Matsin remained at his door turning over the
money in his hand.

“He will sacrifice something he needs himself, for this,” he muttered.
“Yet that is the man they say the King would hang if ever he got hold of
him! By Heaven!--the King himself should hang first!”

Meanwhile Sergius Thord went on, slackening his pace a little as he
came near his own destination, a tall and narrow house at the end of the
street, with a single light shining in one of the upper windows. There
was a gas-lamp some few paces off, and under this stood a man reading,
or trying to read, a newspaper by its flickering glare. Thord glanced at
him with some suspicion--the stranger was too near his own lodging for
his pleasure, for he was always on his guard against spies. Approaching
more closely, he saw that though the man was shabbily attired in a rough
pilot suit, much the worse for wear, he nevertheless had the indefinable
look and bearing of a gentleman. Acting on impulse, as he often did,
Thord spoke to him.

“A rough night for reading by lamplight, my friend!” he said.

The man looked up, and smiled.

“Yes, it is, rather! But I have only just got the evening paper.”

“Any special news?”

“No--only this--” and he pointed to a bold headline--“The King _versus_
The Jesuits.”

“Ah!” said Thord, and he studied the looks and bearing of the stranger
with increasing curiosity. “What do you think of it?”

“What do I think? May I ask, without offence, what _you_ think?”

“I think,” said Thord slowly, “that the King has for once in his life
done a wise thing.”

“‘For once in his life!’” repeated the stranger dubiously--“Then I
presume your King is, generally speaking, a fool?”

“If you are a subject of his--” began Thord slowly----

“Thank Heaven, I am not! I am a mere wanderer--a literary loafer--a
student of men and manners. I read books, and I write them too,--this
will perhaps explain the eccentricity of my behaviour in trying to read
under the lamplight in the rain!”

He smiled again, and the smile was irresistibly pleasant. Something
about him attracted Thord, and after a pause he asked:

“If you are, as you say, a wanderer and a stranger in this town, can I
be of service to you?”

“You are very kind!” said the other, turning a pair of deep, dark, grey
meditative eyes upon him,--“And I am infinitely obliged to you for the
suggestion. But I really want nothing. As a matter of fact, I am waiting
for two friends of mine who have just gone into one of the foul and
filthy habitations here, to see what they can do for a suddenly bereaved
family. The husband and father fell dead in the street before our
eyes,--and those who picked him up said he was drunk, but it turned out
that he was merely starved,--_merely_!--you understand? Merely starved!
We found his home,--and the poor widow is wailing and weeping, and the
children are crying for food. I confess myself quite unable to bear the
sight, and so I have sent all the money I had about me to help them
for to-night at least. By my faith, they are most hopelessly, incurably

“Their lot is exceedingly common in these quarters,” said Thord,
sorrowfully. “Day after day, night after night, men, women and children
toil, suffer and die here without ever knowing what it is to have one
hour of free fresh air, one day of rest and joy! Yet this is a great
city,--and we live in a civilized country!” He smiled bitterly, then
added--“You have done a good action; and you need no thanks, or I would
thank you; for my life’s work lies among these wretched poor, and I am
familiar with their tragic histories. Good-night!”

“Pray do not go!” said the stranger suddenly--“I should like to talk to
you a little longer, if you have no objection. Is there not some
place near, where we can go out of this rain and have a glass of wine

Sergius Thord stood irresolute,--gazing at him, half in liking, half in

“Sir,” he said at last, “I do not know you--and you do not know me. If I
told you my name, you would probably not seek my company!”

“Will you tell it?” suggested the stranger cheerfully--“Mine is at your
service--Pasquin Leroy. I fear my fame as an author has not reached your

Thord shook his head.

“No. I have never heard of you. And probably you have never heard of me.
My name is Sergius Thord.”

“Sergius Thord!” echoed the stranger; “Now that is truly remarkable!
It is a happy coincidence that we should have met to-night. I have just
seen your name in this very paper which you caught me reading--see!--the
next heading under that concerning the King and the Jesuits--‘Thord’s
Rabble.’ Are not you that same Thord?”

“I am!” said Thord proudly, his eyes shining as he took the paper and
perused quickly the few flashy lines which described the crowd outside
the Cathedral that afternoon, and set him down as a crazy Socialist, and
disturber of the peace, “And the ‘rabble’ as this scribbling fool
calls it, is the greater part of this city’s population. The King
may intimidate his Court; but I, Sergius Thord, with my ‘rabble’ can
intimidate both Court and King!”

He drew himself up to his full majestic height--a noble figure of a man
with his fine heroic head and eagle-like glance of eye,--and he who had
called himself Pasquin Leroy, suddenly held out his hand.

“Let me see more of you, Sergius Thord!” he said,--“You are the very
man for me! They say in this paper that you spoke to a great multitude
outside the Cathedral this afternoon, and interfered with the religious
procession; they also say you are the head of a Society called the
Revolutionary Committee;--now let me work for you in some department of
_that_ business!”

“Let you work for me?” echoed Thord astonished--“But how?”

“In this way--” replied the other--“I write Socialistic works,--and for
this cause have been expelled from my native home and surroundings. I
have a little money--and some influence,--and I will devote both to your
Cause. Will you take me, and trust me?”

Thord caught his extended hand, and looked at him with a kind of fierce

“You mean it?” he said in thrilling tones--“You mean it positively and

“Positively and truly!” said Leroy--“If you are working to remedy the
frightful evils abounding in this wretched quarter of the poor, I will
help you! If you are striving to destroy rank abuses, I ask nothing
better than to employ my pen in your service. I will get work on the
press here--I will do all I can to aid your purposes and carry out your
intentions. I have no master, so am free to do as I like; and I will
devote myself to your service so long as you think I can be of any use
to you.”

“Wait!” said Thord--“You must not be carried away by a sudden generous
impulse, simply because you have witnessed one scene of the continual
misery that is going on here daily. To belong to our Committee means
much more than you at present realize, and involves an oath which you
may not be willing to take! And what of the friends you spoke of?”

“They will do what I do,” replied Leroy--“They share my
fortunes--likewise my opinions;--and here they come,--so they can speak
for themselves,” this, as two men emerged from a dark street on the
left, and came full into the lamplight’s flare--“Axel Regor, Max
Graub--come hither! Fortune has singularly favoured us to-night! Let me
present to you my friend--” and he emphasized the word, “Sergius Thord!”

Both men started ever so slightly as the introduction was performed,
and Thord looked at them with fresh touches of suspicion here and there
lurking in his mind. But he was brave; and having once proceeded in
a given direction was not in the habit of turning back. He therefore
saluted both the new-comers with grave courtesy.

“I trust you!” he then said curtly to Leroy, “and I think you will not
betray my trust. If you do, it will be the worse for you!”

His lips parted in a slight sinister smile, and the two who were
respectively called Axel Regor and Max Graub, exchanged anxious glances.
But Leroy showed no sign of hesitation or alarm.

“Your warning is quite unnecessary, Sergius Thord,” he said,--“I pledge
you my word with my friendship--and my word is my bond! I will also hold
myself responsible for my companions.”

Thord bent his head in silent recognition of this assurance.

“Then follow me, if such is your desire,” he said--“Remember, there is
yet time to go in another direction, and to see me no more; but if you
once do cast in your lot with mine the tie between us is indissoluble!”

He paused, as though expecting some recoil or hesitation on the part of
those to whom he made this statement, but none came. He therefore strode
on, and they followed, till arriving at the door of the tall, narrow
house, where the light in the highest window gleamed like a signal, he
opened it with a small key and entered, holding it back courteously for
his three new companions to enter with him. They did so, and he closed
the door. At the same moment the light was extinguished in the upper
window, and the outside of the house became a mere wall of dense
blackness in the driving rain.



Up a long uncarpeted flight of stairs, and into a large lofty room on
the second storey, Thord led the way for his newly-found disciples to
follow. It was very dark, and they had to feel the steps as they went,
their guide offering neither explanation nor apology for the Cimmerian
shades of gloom. Stumbling on hands and knees they spoke not a word;
though once Max Graub uttered something like an oath in rough German;
but a whisper from Leroy rebuked and silenced him, and they pursued
their difficult ascent until, arriving at the room mentioned, they found
themselves in the company of about fifteen to twenty men, all sitting
round a table under two flaring billiard lamps, suspended crookedly
from the ceiling. As Thord entered, these men all rose, and gave him an
expressive sign of greeting with the left hand, the same kind of gesture
which had passed between him and Zegota on the Cathedral steps in the
morning. Zegota himself was one of their number. There was also another
personage in the room who did not rise, and who gave no sign whatever.
This was a woman, who sat in the embrasure of a closed and shuttered
window with her back to the whole company. It was impossible to say
whether she was young or old, plain or handsome, for she was enveloped
in a long black cloak which draped her from shoulder to heel. All that
could be distinguished of her was the white nape of her neck, and a
great twist of dead gold hair. Her presence awakened the liveliest
interest in Pasquin Leroy, who found it impossible to avoid nudging his
companions, and whispering--

“A woman! By Heaven, this drama becomes interesting!”

But Axel Regor and Max Graub were seemingly not disposed to levity, and
they offered no response to their lighter minded comrade beyond vague
hasty side-looks of alarm, which appeared to amuse him to an extent that
threatened to go beyond the limits of caution. Sergius Thord, however,
saw nothing of their interchange of glances for the moment,--he
had other business to settle. Addressing himself at once to the men
assembled, he said.--

“Friends and brothers! I bring you three new associates! I have not
sought them; they have sought me. On their own heads be their destinies!
They offer their names to the Revolutionary Committee, and their
services to our Cause!”

A low murmur of approbation from the company greeted this announcement.
Johan Zegota advanced a little in front of all the rest.

“Every man is welcome to serve us who will serve us faithfully,” he
said. “But who are these new comrades, Sergius Thord? What are they?”

“That they must declare for themselves,” said Thord, taking a chair at
the head of the table which was evidently his accustomed place--“Put
them through their examination!”

He seated himself with the air of a king, his whole aspect betokening an
authority that would not be trifled with or gainsaid.

“Gott in Himmel!”

This exclamation burst suddenly from the lips of the man called Max

“What ails you?” said Thord, turning full upon him his glittering eyes
that flashed ferocity from under their shaggy brows--“Are you afraid?”

“Afraid? Not I!” protested Graub--“But, gentlemen, think a moment! You
speak of putting us--myself and my friends--through an examination! Why
should you examine us? We are three poor adventurers--what can we have
to tell?”

“Much, I should imagine!” retorted Zegota--“Adventurers are not such
without adventures! Your white hairs testify to some experience of

“My white hairs--_my_ white hairs!” exclaimed Graub, when a touch from
Axel Regor apparently recalled something to his mind for he began to
laugh--“True, gentlemen! Very true! I had forgotten! I have had some
adventures and some experiences! My good friend there, Pasquin Leroy,
has also had adventures and experiences,--so have we all! Myself, I am a
poor German, grown old in the service of a bad king! I have been kicked
out of that service--Ach!--just for telling the truth; which is very
much the end of all truth telling, is it not? Tell lies,--and kings will
reward you and make you rich and great!--but tell truth, and see what
the kings will give you for it! Kicks, and no halfpence! Pardon! I
interrupt this so pleasant meeting!”

All the men present looked at him curiously, but said nothing in
response to his outburst. Johan Zegota, seating himself next to Sergius
Thord, opened a large parchment volume that lay on the table, and taking
up a pen addressed himself to Thord, saying--

“Will you ask the questions, or shall I?”

“You, by all means! Proceed in the usual manner.”

Whereupon Zegota began.--

“Stand forth, comrades!”

The three strangers advanced.

“Your names? Each one answer separately, please!”

“Pasquin Leroy!”

“Axel Regor!”

“Max Graub!”

“Of what nationality, Pasquin Leroy?”

Leroy smiled. “Truly I claim none!” he said; “I was born a slave.”

“A slave!”

The words were repeated in tones of astonishment round the room.

“Why, yes, a slave!” repeated Leroy quietly. “You have heard of black
slaves,--have you not heard of white ones too? There are countries
still, where men purchase other men of their own blood and
colour;--tyrannous governments, which force such men to work for
them, chained to one particular place till they die. I am one of
those,--though escaped for the present. You can ask me more of my
country if you will; but a slave has no country save that of his
master. If you care at all for my services, you will spare me further
examination on this subject!”

Zegota looked enquiringly at Thord.

“We will pass that question,” said the latter, in a low tone.

Zegota resumed--

“You, Axel Regor--are you a slave too?”

Axel Regor smiled languidly.

“No! I am what is called a free-born subject of the realm. I do what I
like, though not always how I like, or when I like!”

“And you, Max Graub?”

“German!” said that individual firmly; “German to the
backbone--Socialist to the soul!--and an enemy of all ruling
sovereigns,--particularly the one that rules _me_!”

Thord smiled darkly.

“If you feel inclined to jest, Max Graub, I must warn you that jesting
is not suited to the immediate moment.”

“Jesting! I never was more in earnest in my life!” declared Graub,--“Why
have I left my native country? Merely because it is governed by Kaiser

Thord smiled again.

“The subject of nationality seems to excite all three of you,” he said,
“and though we ask you the question _pro forma_, it is not absolutely
necessary that we should know from whence you come. We require your
names, and your oath of fealty; but before binding yourselves, I will
read you our laws, and the rules of membership for this society; rules
to which, if you join us, you are expected to conform.”

“Suppose, for the sake of argument,” said Pasquin Leroy,--“that
after hearing the rules we found it wisest to draw back? Suppose my
friends,--if not myself,--were disinclined to join your Society;--what
would happen?”

As he asked the question a curious silence fell upon the company, and
all eyes were turned upon the speaker. There was a dead pause for a
moment, and then Thord replied slowly and with emphasis:--

“Nothing would happen save this,--that you would be bound by a solemn
oath never to reveal what you had heard or seen here to-night, and that
you would from henceforth be tracked every day and hour of your life by
those who would take care that you kept your oath!”

“You see!” exclaimed Axel Regor excitedly, “There is danger----”

“Danger? Of what?” asked Pasquin Leroy coldly;--“Of death? Each one
of us, and all three of us would fully merit it, if we broke our word!
Gentlemen both!”--and he addressed his two companions, “If you fear any
harm may come to yourselves through joining this society, pray withdraw
while there is yet time! My own mind is made up; I intend to become
familiar with the work of the Revolutionary Committee, and to aid its
cause by my personal service!”

A loud murmur of applause came from the company. Axel Regor and Max
Graub glanced at Leroy, and saw in his face that his decision was

“Then we will work for the Cause, also,” said Max Graub resignedly.
“What you determine upon, we shall do, shall we not, Axel?”

Axel Regor gave a brief assent.

Sergius Thord looked at them all straightly and keenly.

“You have finally decided?”

“We have!” replied Leroy. “We will enrol ourselves as your associates at

Whereupon Johan Zegota rose from his place, and unlocking an iron safe
which stood in one corner of the room, took out a roll of parchment and
handed it to Thord, who, unfolding it, read in a clear though low voice
the following:--

“We, the Revolutionary Committee, are organized as a Brotherhood, bound
by all the ties of life, death, and our common humanity, to destroy
the abuses, and redress the evils, which self-seeking and tyrannous
Governments impose upon the suffering poor.

“_Firstly:_ We bind ourselves to resist all such laws as may in any
degree interfere with the reasonable, intellectual, and spiritual
freedom of man or woman.

“_Secondly:_ We swear to agitate against all forms of undue and
excessive taxation, which, while scarcely affecting the rich, make life
more difficult and unendurable to the poor.

“_Thirdly:_ We protest against the domination of priestcraft, and
the secret methods which are employed by the Church to obtain undue
influence in Governmental matters.

“_Fourthly:_ We are determined to stand firmly against the entrance of
foreign competitors in the country’s trade and business. All heads
and ruling companies of firms employing foreigners instead of native
workmen, are marked out by us as traitors, and are reserved for
traitors’ punishment.

“_Fifthly:_ We are sworn to exterminate the existing worthless
Government, and to replace it by a working body of capable and
intelligent men, elected by the universal vote of the entire country.
Such elections must take place freely and openly, and no secret
influence shall be used to return any one person or party to power.
Those attempting to sway opinion by bribery and corruption, will be
named to the public, and exposed to disgrace and possible death.

“_Sixthly:_ We are resolved to unmask to the public the duplicity,
treachery, and self-interested motives of the Secretary of State, Carl

“_Seventhly:_ We are sworn to bring about such changes as shall elevate
a Republic to supreme power, and for this purpose are solemnly pledged
to destroy the present Monarchy.”

“These,” said Sergius Thord, “are the principal objects of our Society’s
work. There are other points to be considered, but these are sufficient
for the present. I will now read the rules, which each member of our
Brotherhood must follow if he would serve us faithfully.”

He turned over another leaf of the parchment scroll he held, and
continued, reading very slowly and distinctly:

“_Rule 1_.--Each member of the Revolutionary Committee shall swear
fidelity to the Cause, and pledge himself to maintain inviolable secrecy
on all matters connected with his membership and his work for the

“_Rule 2_.--No member shall track, follow, or enquire into the movements
of any other member.

“_Rule 3_.--Once in every month all members are expected to meet
together at a given place, decided upon by the Chief of the Committee at
the previous meeting, when business will be discussed, and lots drawn,
to determine the choice of such members as may be fitted to perform such

“_Rule_ 4.--No member shall be bound to give his address, or to state
where he travels, or when or how he goes, as in all respects save that
of his membership he is a free man.

“_Rule_ 5.--In this same respect of his membership, he is bound to
appear, or to otherwise report himself once a month at the meeting of
the Committee. Should he fail to do so either by person, or by letter
satisfactorily explaining his absence, he will be judged as a traitor,
and dealt with accordingly.

“_Rule_6.--In the event of any member being selected to perform any deed
involving personal danger or loss to himself, the rest of the members
are pledged to shelter him from the consequences of his act, and to
provide him with all the necessaries of life, till his escape from harm
is ensured and his safety guaranteed.”

“You have heard all now,” said Thord, as he laid aside the parchment
scroll; “Are you still willing to take the oath?”

“Entirely so!” rejoined Pasquin Leroy cheerfully; “You have but to
administer it.”

Here a man, who had been sitting in a dark corner apart from the table,
with his head buried in his hands, suddenly looked up, showing a thin,
fine, eager face, a pair of wild eyes, and a tumbled mass of dark curly
hair, plentifully sprinkled with grey.

“Ah!” he cried,--“Now comes the tragic moment, when the spectators hold
their breath, and the blue flame is turned on, and the man manages the
lime-light so that its radiance shall fall on the face of the chief
actor--or Actress! And the bassoons and ‘cellos grumble inaudible
nothings to the big drum! Administer the oath, Sergius Thord!”

A smile went the round of the company.

“Have you only just wakened up from sleep, Paul Zouche?” asked Zegota.

“I never sleep,” answered Zouche, pushing his hair back from his
forehead;--“Unless sleep compels me, by force, to yield to its coarse
and commonplace persuasion. To lie down in a shirt and snore the
hours away! Faugh! Can anything be more gross or vulgar! Time flies so
quickly, and life is so short, that I cannot afford to waste any moment
in such stupid unconsciousness. I can drink wine, make love, and kill
rascals--all these occupations are much more interesting than sleeping.
Come, Sergius! Play the great trick of the evening! Administer the

A frowning line puckered Thord’s brows, but the expression of vexation
was but momentary. Turning to Leroy again he said:

“You are quite ready?”

“Quite,” replied Leroy.

“And your friends----?”

Leroy smiled. “They are ready also!”

There followed a pause. Then Thord called in a clear low tone--


The woman sitting in the embrasure of the window rose, and turning round
fully confronted all the men. Her black cloak falling back on either
side, disclosed her figure robed in dead white, with a scarlet sash
binding her waist. Her face, pale and serene, was not beautiful; yet
beauty was suggested in every feature. Her eyes seemed to be half closed
in a drooping indifference under the white lids, which were fringed
heavily with dark gold lashes. A sculptor might have said, that whatever
claim to beauty she had was contained in the proud poise of her throat,
and the bounteous curve of her bosom, but though in a manner startled
by her appearance, the three men who had chanced upon this night’s
adventure were singularly disappointed in it. They had somehow expected
that when that mysterious cloaked feminine figure turned round, a vision
of dazzling beauty would be disclosed; and at the first glance there
was nothing whatever about this woman that seemed particularly worthy of
note. She was not young or old--possibly between twenty-eight or
thirty. She was not tall or short; she was merely of the usual medium
height,--so that altogether she was one of those provoking individuals,
who not seldom deceive the eye at first sight by those ordinary looks
which veil an extraordinary personality.

She stood like an automatic figure, rigid and silent,--till Sergius
Thord signed to his three new associates to advance. Then with a
movement, rapid as a flash of lightning, she suddenly drew a dagger from
her scarlet girdle, and held it out to them. Nerved as he was to meet
danger, Pasquin Leroy recoiled slightly, while his two companions
started as if to defend him. As she saw this, the woman raised her
drooping eyelids, and a pair of wonderful eyes shone forth, dark blue
as iris-flowers, while a faint scornful smile lifted the corners of her
mouth. But she said nothing.

“There is no cause to fear!” said Sergius Thord, glancing with a touch
of derision in his looks from one to the other, “Lotys is the witness
of all our vows! Swear now after me upon this drawn dagger which she
holds,--lay your right hands here upon the blade!”

Thus adjured, Pasquin Leroy approached, and placed his right hand upon
the shining steel.

“I swear in the name of God, and in the presence of Lotys, that I will
faithfully work for the Cause of the Revolutionary Committee,--and that
I will adhere to its rules and obey its commands, till all shall be done
that is destined to be done! And may the death I deserve come suddenly
upon me if ever I break my vow!”

Slowly and emphatically Pasquin Leroy repeated this formula after
Sergius Thord, and his two companions did the same, though perhaps less
audibly. This ceremony performed, the woman called Lotys looked at them
steadfastly, and the smile that played on her lips changed from scorn
to sweetness. The dark blue iris-coloured eyes deepened in lustre, and
flashed brilliantly from under their drowsy lids,--a rosy flush tinted
the clear paleness of her skin, and like a statue warming to life she
became suddenly beautiful.

“You have sworn bravely!” she said, in a low thrilling voice. “Now sign
and seal!”

As she spoke she lifted her bare left arm, and pricked it with the point
of the dagger. A round, full drop of blood like a great ruby welled up
on the white skin. All the men had risen from their places, and were
gathered about her;--this ‘taking of the oath’ was evidently the
dramatic event of their existence as a community.

“The pen, Sergius!” she said.

Thord approached with a white unused quill, and a vellum scroll on which
the names of all the members of the Society were written in ominous red.
He handed these writing implements to Leroy.

“Dip your pen here,” said Lotys, pointing to the crimson drop on her
arm, and eyeing him still with the same half-sweet, half-doubting
smile--“But when the quill is full, beware that you write no treachery!”

For one second Leroy appeared to hesitate. He was singularly unnerved by
the glances of those dark blue eyes, which like searchlights seemed to
penetrate into every nook and cranny of his soul. But his recklessness
and love of adventure having led him so far, it was now too late to
retract or to reconsider the risks he might possibly be running. He
therefore took the quill and dipped it into the crimson drop that welled
from that soft white flesh.

“This is the strangest ink I have ever used!” he said lightly,--“but--at
your command, Madame----!”

“At my command,” rejoined Lotys, “your use of it shall make your oath

He smiled, and wrote his name boldly ‘Pasquin Leroy’ and held out the
pen for his companions to follow his example.

“Ach Gott!” exclaimed Max Graub, as he dipped the pen anew into the
vital fluid from a woman’s veins--“I write my name, Madame, in words of
life, thanks to your condescension!”

“True!” she answered,--“And only by your own falsehood can you change
them into words of death!”

Signing his name ‘Max Graub,’ he looked up and met her searching gaze.
Something there was in the magnetic depth of her eyes that strangely
embarrassed him, for he stepped back hastily as though intimidated. Axel
Regor took the pen from his hand, and wrote his name, or rather scrawled
it carelessly, almost impatiently,--showing neither hesitation nor
repugnance to this unusual method of subscribing a document.

“You are acting on compulsion!” said Lotys, addressing him in a low
tone; “Your compliance is in obedience to some other command than ours!
And--you will do well to remain obedient!”

Axel Regor gave her an amazed glance,--but she paid no heed to it, and
binding her arm with her kerchief, let her long white sleeve fall over

“So, you are enrolled among the sons of my blood!” she said, “So are
you bound to me and mine!” She moved to the further end of the table
and stood there looking round upon them all. Again the slow, sweet,
half-disdainful smile irradiated her features. “Well, children!--what
else remains to do? What next? What next can there be but
drink--smoke--talk! Man’s three most cherished amusements!”

She sat down, throwing back her heavy cloak on either side of her. Her
hair had come partly unbound, and noticing a tress of it falling on her
shoulder, she drew out the comb and let it fall altogether in a mass of
gold-brown, like the tint of a dull autumn leaf, flecked here and there
with amber. Catching it dexterously in one hand, she twisted it up again
in a loose knot, thrusting the comb carelessly through.

“Drink--smoke--talk, Sergius!” she repeated, still smiling; “Shall I

Sergius Thord stood looking at her irresolutely, with the half-angry,
half-pleading expression of a chidden child.

“As you please, Lotys!” he answered. Whereupon she pressed an invisible
spring under the table, which set a bell ringing in some lower quarter
of the house.

“Pasquin Leroy, Axel Regor, Max Graub!” she said--“Take your places for
to-night beside me--newcomers are always thus distinguished! And all of
you sit down! You are grouped at present like hungry wolves waiting to
spring. But you are not really hungry, except for something which is
not food! And you are not waiting for anything except for permission to
talk! I give it to you--talk, children! Talk yourselves hoarse! It will
do you good! And I will personate supreme wisdom by listening to you in

A kind of shamed laugh went round the company,--then followed the
scuffling of feet, and grating of chairs against the floor, and
presently the table was completely surrounded, the men sitting close up
together, and Sergius Thord occupying his place at their head.

When they were all seated, they formed a striking assembly of distinctly
marked personalities. There were very few mean types among them, and the
stupid, half-vague and languid expression of the modern loafer or ‘do
nothing’ creature, who just for lack of useful work plots mischief, was
not to be seen on any of their countenances. A certain moroseness and
melancholy seemed to brood like a delayed storm among them, and to cloud
the very atmosphere they breathed, but apart from this, intellectuality
was the dominant spirit suggested by their outward looks and bearing.
Plebeian faces and vulgar manners are, unfortunately, not rare in
representative gatherings of men whose opinions are allowed to sway the
destinies of nations, and it was strange to see a group of individuals
who were sworn to upset existing law and government so distinguished
by refined and even noble appearance. Their clothes were shabby,--their
aspect certainly betokened long suffering and contention with want and
poverty, but they were, taken all together, a set of men who, if they
had been members of a recognized parliament or senate, would have
presented a fine collection of capable heads to an observant painter.
As soon as they were gathered round the table under the presidency of
Sergius Thord at one end, and the tranquil tolerance of the mysterious
Lotys at the other, they broke through the silence and reserve which
they had carefully maintained till their three new comrades had been
irrecoverably enrolled among them, and conversation went on briskly.
The topic of ‘The King _versus_ the Jesuits’ was one of the first
they touched upon, Sergius Thord relating for the benefit of all his
associates, how he had found Pasquin Leroy reading by lamplight the
newspaper which reported his Majesty’s refusal to grant any portion of
Crown lands to the priests, and which also spoke of ‘Thord’s Rabble.’

“Here is the paper!” said Leroy, as he heard the narration; “Whoever
likes to keep it can do so, as a memento of my introduction to this

And he tossed it lightly on the table.

“Good!” exclaimed Paul Zouche; “Give it to me, and I will cherish it as
a kind of birthday card! What a rag it is! ‘Thord’s Rabble’ eh! Sergius,
what have you been doing that this little flea of an editor should jump
out of his ink-pot and bite you? Does he hurt much?”

“Hurt!” Thord laughed aloud. “If I had money enough to pay the man ten
golden coins a week where his present employer gives him five, he would
dance to any tune I whistled!”

“Is that so?” asked Leroy, with interest.

“Do you not know that it is so?” rejoined Thord. “You tell me you write
Socialistic works--you should know something concerning the press.”

“Ah!” said Max Graub, nodding his head sagely, “He does know much, but
not all! It would need more penetration than even _he_ possesses, to
know all! Alas!--my friend was never a popular writer!”

“Like myself!” exclaimed Zouche, “I am not popular, and I never shall
be. But I know how to make myself reputed as a great genius, and all the
very respectable literary men are beginning to recognize me as such. Do
you know why?”

“Because you drink more than is good for you, my poor Zouche!” said
Lotys tranquilly; “That is one reason!”

“Hear her!” cried Zouche,--“Does she not always, like the Sphinx,
propound enigmas! Lotys,--little, domineering Lotys, why in the name of
Heaven should I secure recognition as a poet, through drunkenness?”

“Because your vice kills your genius,” said Lotys; “Therefore you
are quite safe! If you were less of a scamp you would be a great
man,--perhaps the greatest in the country! That would never do! Your
rivals would never forgive you! But you are a hopeless rascal, incapable
of winning much honour; and so you are compassionately recognized
as somebody who might do something if he only would--that is all, my
Zouche! You are an excellent after-dinner topic with those who are more
successful than yourself; and that is the only fame you will ever win,
believe me!”

“Now by all the gods and goddesses!” cried Paul--“I do protest----”

“After supper, Zouche!” interrupted Lotys, as the door of the room
opened, and a man entered, bearing a tray loaded with various eatables,
jugs of beer, and bottles of spirituous liquors,--“Protest as much as
you like then,--but not just now!”

And with quick, deft hands she helped to set the board. None of the men
offered to assist her, and Leroy watching her, felt a sudden sense of
annoyance that this woman should seem, even for a moment, to be in the
position of a servant to them all.

“Can I do nothing for you?” he said, in a low tone--“Why should you wait
upon us?”

“Why indeed!” she answered--“Except that you are all by nature awkward,
and do not know how to wait properly upon yourselves!”

Her eyes had a gleam of mischievous mockery in them; and Leroy was
conscious of an irritation which he could scarcely explain to himself.
Decidedly, he thought, this Lotys was an unpleasant woman. She was
‘extremely plain,’ so he mentally declared, in a kind of inward
huff,--though he was bound to concede that now and then she had a very
beautiful, almost inspired expression. After all, why should she not set
out jugs and bottles, and loaves of bread, and hunks of ham and cheese
before these men? She was probably in their pay! Scarcely had this idea
flashed across his mind than he was ashamed of it. This Lotys, whoever
she might actually be, was no paid hireling; there was something in her
every look and action that set her high above any suspicion that she
would accept the part of a salaried _comédienne_ in the Socialist farce.
Annoyed with himself, though he knew not why, he turned his gaze
from her to the man who had brought in the supper,--a hunchback,
who, notwithstanding his deformity, was powerfully built, and of a
countenance which, marked as it was with the drawn pathetic look of
long-continued physical suffering, was undeniably handsome. His large
brown eyes, like those of a faithful dog, followed every movement of
Lotys with anxious and wistful affection, and Leroy, noticing this,
began to wonder whether she was his wife or daughter? Or was she
related in either of these ways to Sergius Thord? His reflections were
interrupted by a slight touch from Max Graub who was seated next to him.

“Will you drink with these fellows?” said Graub, in a cautious
whisper--“Expect to be ill, if you do!”

“You shall prescribe for me!” answered Leroy in the same low tone--“I
faithfully promise to call in your assistance! But drink with them I
must, and will!”

Graub gave a short sigh and a shrug, and said no more. The hunchback was
going the round of the table, filling tall glasses with light Bavarian

“Where is the little Pequita?” asked Zouche, addressing him--“Have you
sent her to bed already, Sholto?”

Sholto looked timorously round till he met the bright reassuring glance
of Lotys, and then he replied hesitatingly--

“Yes!--no--I have not sent the little one to bed;--she returned from
her work at the theatre, tired out--quite tired out, poor child! She is
asleep now.”

“Ha ha! A few years more, and she will not sleep!” said Zouche--“Once in
her teens--”

“Once in her teens, she leaves the theatre and comes to me,” said Lotys,
“And you will see very little of her, Zouche, and you will know less!
That will do, Sholto! Good-night!”

“Good-night!” returned the hunchback--“I thank you, Madame!--I thank
you, gentlemen!”

And with a slight salutation, not devoid of grace, he left the room.

Zouche was sulky, and pushing aside his glass of beer, poured out for
himself some strong spirit from a bottle instead.

“You do not favour me to-night, Lotys,” he said irritably--“You
interrupt and cross me in everything I say!”

“Is it not a woman’s business to interrupt and cross a man?” queried
Lotys, with a laugh,--“As I have told you before, Zouche, I will not
have Sholto worried!”

“Who worries him?” grumbled Zouche--“Not I!”

“Yes, you!--you worry him on his most sensitive point--his daughter,”
 said Lotys;--“Why can you not leave the child alone? Sholto is
an Englishman,” she explained, turning to Pasquin Leroy and his
companions--“His history is a strange one enough. He is the rightful
heir to a large estate in England, but he was born deformed. His father
hated him, and preferred the second son, who was straight and handsome.
So Sholto disappeared.”

“Disappeared!” echoed Leroy--“You mean----”

“I mean that he left his father’s house one morning, and never returned.
The clothes he wore were found floating in the river near by, and it
was concluded that he had been drowned while bathing. The second son,
therefore, inherited the property; and poor Sholto was scarcely missed;
certainly not mourned. Meanwhile he went away, and got on board a
Spanish trading boat bound for Cadiz. At Cadiz he found work, and also
something that sweetened work--love! He married a pretty Spanish girl
who adored him, and--as often happens when lovers rejoice too much in
their love--she died after a year’s happiness. Sholto is all alone in
the world with the little child his Spanish wife left him, Pequita. She
is only eleven years old, but her gift of dancing is marvellous, and
she gets employment at one of the cheap theatres here. If an influential
manager could see her performance, she might coin money.”

“The influential manager would probably cheat her,” said
Zouche,--“Things are best left alone. Sholto is content!”

“Are you content?” asked Johan Zegota, helping himself from the bottle
that stood near him.

“I? Why, no! I should not be here if I were!”

“Discontent, then, is your chief bond of union?” said Axel Regor,
beginning to take part in the conversation.

“It is the very knot that ties us all together!” said Zouche
with enthusiasm.--“Discontent is the mother of progress! Adam was
discontented with the garden of Eden,--and found a whole world outside
its gates!”

“He took Eve with him to keep up the sickness of dissatisfaction,” said
Zegota; “There would certainly have been no progress without _her_!”

“Pardon,--Cain was the true Progressivist and Reformer,” put in Graub;
“Some fine sentiment of the garden of Eden was in his blood, which
impelled him to offer up a vegetable sacrifice to the Deity, whereas
Abel had already committed murder by slaying lambs. According to the
legend, God preferred the ‘savour’ of the lambs, so perhaps,--who
knows!--the idea that the savour of Abel might be equally agreeable to
Divine senses induced Cain to kill him as a special ‘youngling.’ This
was a Progressive act,--a step beyond mere lambs!”

Everyone laughed, except Sergius Thord. He had fallen into a heavy,
brooding silence, his head sunk on his breast, his wild hair falling
forward like a mane, and his right hand clenched and resting on the

“Sergius!” called Lotys.

He did not answer.

“He is in one of his far-away moods,”--said one of the men next to Axel
Regor,--“It is best not to disturb him.”

Paul Zouche, however, had no such scruples. “Sergius!” he cried,--“Come
out of your cloud of meditation! Drink to the health of our three new

All the members of the company filled their glasses, and Thord, hearing
the noise and clatter, looked up with a wild stare.

“What are you doing?” he asked slowly;--“I thought some one spoke of
Cain killing Abel!”

“It was I,” said Graub--“I spoke of it--irreverently, I fear,--but the
story itself is irreverent. The notion that ‘God,’ should like roast
meat is the height of blasphemy!”

Zouche burst into a violent fit of laughter. But Thord went on talking
in a low tone, as though to himself.

“Cain killing Abel!” he repeated--“Always the same horrible story is
repeated through history--brother against brother,--blood crying out for
blood--life torn from the weak and helpless body--all for what? For a
little gold,--a passing trifle of power! Cain killing Abel! My God, art
Thou not yet weary of the old eternal crime!”

He spoke in a semi-whisper which thrilled through the room. A momentary
hush prevailed, and then Lotys called again, her voice softened to a
caressing sweetness.


He started, and shook himself out of his reverie this time. Raising his
hand, he passed it in a vague mechanical way across his brow as though
suddenly wakened from a dream.

“Yes, yes! Let us drink to our three new comrades,” he said, and rose
to his feet. “To your health, friends! And may you all stand firm in the
hour of trial!”

All the company sprang up and drained their glasses, and when the toast
was drunk and they were again seated, Pasquin Leroy asked if he might be
allowed to return thanks.

“I do not know,” he said with a courteous air, “whether it is
permissible for a newly-enrolled associate of this Brotherhood to make
a speech on the first night of his membership,--but after the cordial
welcome I and my comrades, strangers as we are, have received at your
hands, I should like to say a few words--if, without breaking any rules
of the Order, I may do so.”

“Hear, hear!” shouted Zouche, who had been steadily drinking for the
last few moments,--“Speak on, man! Whoever heard of a dumb Socialist!
Rant--rant! Rant and rave!--as I do, when the fit is on me! Do I not,
Thord? Do I not move you even to tears?”

“And laughter!” put in Zegota. “Hold your tongue, Zouche! No other man
can talk at all, if you once begin!”

Zouche laughed, and drained his glass.

“True!--my genius is of an absorbing quality! Silence, gentlemen!
Silence for our new comrade! ‘Pasquin’ stands for the beginning of a
jest--so we may hope he will be amusing,--‘Leroy’ stands for the king,
and so we may expect him to be non-political!”



As Leroy rose to speak, there was a little commotion. Max Graub upset
his glass, and seemed to be having a struggle under the table with Axel

“What ails you?” said Leroy, glancing at his friends with an amazed
air--“Are you quarrelling?”

“Quarrelling!” echoed Max Graub, “Why, no--but what man will have his
beer upset without complaint? Tell me that!”

“You upset it!” said Regor angrily--“I did not.”

“You did!” retorted Graub, “and because I pushed you for it, you showed
me a pistol in your pocket! I object to be shown a pistol. So I have
taken it away. Here it is!” and he laid the weapon on the table in front
of him.

A look of anger darkened Leroy’s brows.

“I was not aware you carried arms,” he said coldly.

Sergius Thord noticed his annoyance.

“There is nothing remarkable in that, my friend!” he interposed--“We all
carry arms,--there is not one of us at this table who has not a loaded
pistol,--even Lotys is no exception to this rule.”

“Now by my word!” said Graub, “_I_ have no loaded pistol,--and I will
swear Leroy is equally unarmed!”

“Entirely so!” said Leroy quietly--“I never suspect any man of evil
intentions towards me.”

As he said this, Lotys leaned forward impulsively and stretched out her
hand,--a beautiful hand, well-shaped and white as a white rose petal.

“I like you for that!”--she said--“It is the natural attitude of a brave

A slight colour warmed his bronzed skin as he took her hand, pressed it
gently, and let it go again. Axel Regor looked up defiantly.

“Well, I _do_ suspect every man of evil intentions!” he said, “So you
may all just as well know the worst of me at once! My experience of life
has perhaps been exceptionally unpleasant; but it has taught me that as
a rule no man is your friend till you have made it worth his while!”

“By favours bestowed, or favours to come?” queried Thord,
smiling,--“However, without any argument, Axel Regor, I am inclined to
think you are right!”

“Then a weapon is permissible here?” asked Graub.

“Not only permissible, but necessary,” replied Thord. “As members of
this Brotherhood we live always prepared for some disaster,--always
on our guard against treachery. Comrades!” and raising his voice
he addressed the whole party. “Lay down your arms, all at once and

In one instant, as if in obedience to a military order, the table was
lined on either side with pistols. Beside these weapons, there was a
goodly number of daggers, chiefly of the small kind such as are used
in Corsica, encased in leather sheaths. Pasquin Leroy smiled as he saw
Lotys lay down one of those tiny but deadly weapons, together with a
small silver-mounted pistol.

“Forewarned is forearmed!” he said gaily;--“Madame, if I ever offend, I
shall look to you for a happy dispatch! Gentlemen, I have still to
make my speech, and if you permit it, I will speak now,--unarmed as I
am,--with all these little metal mouths ready to deal death upon me if I
happen to make any observation which may displease you!”

“By Heaven! A brave man!” cried Zouche; “Thord, you have picked up
a trump card! Speak, Pasquin Leroy! We will forgive you, even if you
praise the King!”

Leroy stood silent for a moment, as if thinking. His two companions
looked up at him once or twice in unquestionable alarm and wonderment,
but he did not appear to be conscious of their observation. On the
contrary, some very deeply seated feeling seemed to be absorbing his
soul,--and it was perhaps this suppressed emotion which gave such a rich
vibrating force to his accents when he at last spoke.

“Friends and Brothers!” he said;--“It is difficult for one who has never
experienced the three-fold sense of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity
until to-night, to express in the right manner the sense of gratitude
which I, a complete stranger to you, feel for the readiness and
cordiality of the welcome you have extended to me and my companions,
accepting us without hesitation, as members of your Committee, and as
associates in the work of the Cause you have determined to maintain. It
is an Ideal Cause,--I need not tell you that! To rescue and protect the
poor from the tyranny of the rich and strong, was the mission of Christ
when He visited this earth; and it would perhaps be unwise on my part,
and discouraging to yourselves, to remind you that even He has failed!
The strong, the selfish, and the cruel, still delight in oppressing
their more helpless fellows, despite the theories of Christianity. And
it is perfectly natural that it should be so, seeing that the
Christian Church itself has become a mere system of money-making and

A burst of applause interrupted him. Eyes lightened with eager
enthusiasm, and every face was turned towards him. He went on:--

“To think of the great Founder of a great Creed, and then to consider
what his pretended followers have made of Him and His teaching,
is sufficient to fill the soul with the sickness of despair and
humiliation! To remember that Christ came to teach all men the Gospel
of love,--and to find them after eighteen hundred years still preferring
the Gospel of hate,--is enough to make one doubt the truth of religion
altogether! The Divine Socialist preached a creed too good and pure
for this world; and when we try to follow it, we are beaten back on all
sides by the false conventionalities and customs of a sacerdotal system
grown old in self-seeking, not in self-sacrifice. Were Christ to come
again, the first thing He would probably do would be to destroy all
the churches, saying: ‘I never knew you: depart from me ye that work
iniquity!’ But till He does come again, it rests with the thinkers
of the time to protest against wrongs and abuses, even if they cannot
destroy them,--to expose falsehood, even if they cannot utterly undo
its vicious work. Seeing, however, that the greater majority of men
are banded on the side of wealth and material self-interest, it is
unfortunately only a few who remain to work for the cause of the poor,
and for such equal rights of justice as you--as we--in our present
Association claim to be most worthy of man’s best efforts. It may be
asked by those outside such a Fraternity as ours,--‘What do they want?
What would they have that they cannot obtain?’ I would answer that
we want to see the end of a political system full of bribery and
corruption,--that we desire the disgrace and exposure of such men as
those, who, under the pretence of serving the country, merely line their
own coffers out of the taxes they inflict upon the people;--and that
if we see a king inclined to favour the overbearing dominance of a
political party governed by financial considerations alone,--a party
which has no consideration for the wider needs of the whole nation, we
from our very hearts and souls desire the downfall of that king!”

A low, deep murmur responded to his words,--a sound like the snarl of
wolves, deep, fierce, and passionate. A close observer might perhaps
have detected a sudden pallor on Leroy’s face as he heard this ominous
growl, and an involuntary clenching of the hand on the part of Axel
Regor. Max Graub looked up.

“Ah so, my friends! You hate the King?”

No answer was vouchsafed to this query. The interruption was evidently
unwelcome, all eyes being still fixed on Leroy. He went on tranquilly:

“I repeat--that wherever and whenever a king--any king--voluntarily and
knowingly, supports iniquity and false dealing in his ministers, he
lays himself open to suspicion, attack, and dethronement! I speak with
particular feeling on this point, because, apart from whatever may be
the thoughts and opinions of these who are assembled here to-night,
I have a special reason of my own for hating the King! That reason
is marked on my countenance! I bear an extraordinary resemblance to
him,--so great indeed, that I might be taken for his twin brother if he
had one! And I beg of you, my friends, to look at me long and well, that
you make no error concerning me, for, being now your comrade, I do not
wish to be mistaken for your enemy!”

He drew himself up, lifting his head with an air of indomitable pride
and grace which well became him. An exclamation of surprise broke from
all present, and Sergius Thord bent forward to examine his features with
close attention. Every man at the table did the same, but none regarded
him more earnestly or more searchingly than Lotys. Her wonderful eyes
seemed to glow and burn with strange interior fires, as she kept them
steadily fixed upon his face.

“Yes--you are strangely like the King!” she said--“That is,--so far as I
am able to judge by his portraits and coins. I have never seen him.”

“I _have_ seen him,”--said Sergius Thord, “though only at a distance.
And I wonder I did not notice the strange resemblance you bear to him
before you called my attention to it. Are you in any way related to

“Related to him!” Leroy laughed aloud. “No! If the late King had
any bastard sons, I am not one of them! But I pray you again all to
carefully note this hateful resemblance,--a resemblance I would fain rid
me of--for it makes me seem a living copy of the man I most despise!”

There was a pause,--during which he stood quietly, submitting himself
to the fire of a hundred wondering, questioning, and inquisitorial eyes
without flinching.

“You are all satisfied?” he then asked; “You, Sergius Thord,--my chief
and commander,--you, and all here present are satisfied?”

“Satisfied?--Yes!” replied Thord; “But sorry that your personality
resembles that of a fool and a knave!”

A strange grimace distorted the countenance of Max Graub, but he quickly
buried his nose and his expression together in a foaming glass of beer.

“You cannot be so sorry for me as I am for myself!” said Leroy, “And now
to finish the few words I have been trying to say. I thank you from my
heart for your welcome, and for the trust you have reposed in me and my
companions. I am proud to be one of you; and I promise that you shall
all have reason to be glad that I am associated with your Cause! And to
prove my good faith, I undertake to set about working for you without a
day’s delay; and towards this object, I give you my word that before our
next meeting something shall be done to shake the political stronghold
of Carl Pérousse!”

Sergius Thord sprang up excitedly.

“Do that,” he said, “and were you a thousand times more like the King
than you are, you shall be the first to command our service and honour!”

Loud acclamation followed his words, and all the men gathered close up
about Leroy. He looked round upon them, half-smiling, half-serious.

“But you must tell me what to do!” he said. “You must explain to me why
you consider Pérousse a traitor, and how you think it best his treachery
should be proved. For, remember, I am a stranger to this part of the
country, and my accidental resemblance to the King does not make me his

“True!” said Paul Zouche,--his eyes were feverishly bright and his
cheeks flushed--“To be personally like a liar does not oblige one to
tell lies! To call oneself a poet does not enable one to write poetry!
And to build a cathedral does not make one a saint! To know all the
highways and byways of the Pérousse policy, you must penetrate into the
depths and gutter-slushes of the great newspaper which is subsidised by
the party to that policy! And this is difficult--exceedingly difficult,
let me assure you, my bold Pasquin! And if you can perform such a
‘pasquinade’ as shall take you into these Holy of Holy purlieus
of mischief and money-making, you will deserve to be chief of the
Committee, instead of Sergius! Sergius talks--he will talk your head
off!--but he does nothing!”

“I do what I can,”--said Thord, patiently. “It is true I have no access
to the centres of diplomacy or journalism. But I hold the People in the
hollow of my hand!”

He spoke with deep and concentrated feeling, and the power of his
soul looked out eloquently from the darkening flash of his eyes. Leroy
studied his features with undisguised interest.

“If you thus hold the People,” he said,--“Why not bid them rise against
the evil and tyranny of which they have cause to complain?”

Thord shook his head.

“To rouse the People,” he replied, “would be worse than to rouse a herd
of starving lions from their forest dens, and give them freedom to slay
and devour! Nay!--the time is not yet! All gentle means must be tried;
and if these fail--why then--!”

He broke off, but his clenched hand and expressive glance said the rest.

“Why do you not use the most powerful of all the weapons ever invented
for the destruction of one’s enemies--the Pen?” asked Max Graub. “Start
a newspaper, for example, and gibbet your particular favourite Carl
Pérousse therein!”

“Bah! He would get up a libel case, and advertise himself a little more
by that method!” said Zegota contemptuously; “And besides, a newspaper
needs unlimited capital behind it. We have no rich friends.”

“Rich friends!” exclaimed Lotys suddenly; “Who speaks of them--who needs
them? Rich friends expect you to toady to them; to lick the ground under
their feet; to fawn and flatter and lie, and be anything but honest men!
The rich are the vulgar of this world;--no one who has heart, or soul,
or sense, would condescend to seek friendships among those whose only
claim to precedence is the possession of a little more yellow metal than
their neighbours.”

“Nevertheless, they and their yellow metal are the raw material, which
Genius may as well use to pave its way through life,” said Zegota.
“Lotys, you are too much of an idealist!”

“Idealist! And you call yourself a realist, poor child!” said Lotys
with a laugh; “I tell you I would sooner starve than accept favour or
assistance from the merely rich!”

“Of course you would!” said Zouche, “And is not that precisely the
reason why you are set in dominion over us all? We men are not sure of
ourselves--but--Heaven knows why!--we are sure of You! I suppose it is
because you are sure of yourself! For example, we men are such wretched
creatures that we cannot go long without our food,--but you, woman, can
fast all day, and scorn the very idea of hunger. We men cannot bear
much pain,--but you,--woman,--can endure suffering of your own without
complaint, while attending to our various lesser hurts and scratches.
Wherefore, just because we feel you are above us in this and many other
things, we have set you amongst us as a warning Figurehead, which cries
shame upon us if we falter, and reminds us that you, a woman, can do,
and probably will do, what we men cannot. Imagine it! You would bear all
things for love’s sake!--and, frankly speaking, we would bear nothing at
all, except for our own immediate and particular pleasure. For that, of
course, we would endure everything till we got it, and then--pouf!--we
would let it go again in sheer weariness and desire for something else!
Is it not so, Sergius?”

“I am glad you know yourself so well!” said Thord gloomily. “Personally,
I am not prepared to accept your theory.”

“Men are children!” said Lotys, still smiling; “And should be treated as
children always, by women! Come, little ones! To bed, all of you! It is
growing late, and the rain has ceased.”

She went to the window, and unbarring the shutters, opened it. The
streets were wet and glistening below, but the clouds had cleared, and a
pale watery moon shone out fitfully from the misty sky.

“Say good-night, and part;” she continued. “It is time! This day month
we will meet here again,--and our new comrades will then report what
progress they have made in the matter of Carl Pérousse.”

“Tell me,” said Leroy, approaching her, “What would you do, Madame, if
you had determined, on proving the corruption and falsehood of this at
present highly-honoured servant of the State?”

“I should gain access to his chief tool, David Jost, by means of
the Prime Minister’s signet,” said Lotys,--“If I could get the
signet!--which I cannot! Nor can you! But if I could, I should persuade
Jost to talk freely, and so betray himself. He and Carl Pérousse move
the Premier and the King whichever way they please.”

“Is that so--?” began Leroy, when he was answered by a dozen voices at

“The King is a fool!”

“The King is a slave!”

“The King accepts everything that is set before him as being rightly and
wisely ordained,--and never enquires into the justice of what is done!”

“The King assumes to be the friend of the People, but if you ask him
to do anything for the People, you only get the secretary’s usual
answer--‘His Majesty regrets that it is impossible to take any action in
the matter’!”

“Wait!--wait!--” said Leroy, with a gesture which called for a moment’s
silence; “The question is,--_Could_ the King do anything if he would?”

“I will answer that!” said Lotys, her eyes flashing, her bosom heaving,
and her whole figure instinct with pride and passion; “The King could do
everything! The King could be a man if he chose, instead of a dummy! The
King could cease to waste his time on fools and light women!--and though
he is, and must be a constitutional Monarch, he could so rule all social
matters as to make them the better,--not the worse for his influence!
There is nothing to prevent the King from doing his most kingly duty!”

Leroy looked at her for a moment in silence.

“Madame, if the King heard your words he might perhaps regret his many
follies!” he said courteously;--“But where Society is proved worse,
instead of better for a king’s influence, is it not somewhat too late to
remedy the evil? What of the Queen?”

“The Queen is queen from necessity, not from choice!” said Lotys;--“She
has never loved her husband. If she had loved him, perhaps he
might,--through her,--have loved his people more!”

There was a note of pathos in her voice that was singularly tender and
touching. Anon, as if impatient with herself, she turned to Sergius

“We must disperse!” she said abruptly; “Daybreak will be upon us before
we know it, and we have done no business at all this evening. To enrol
three new associates is a matter of fifteen minutes; the rest of our
time has been wasted!”

“Do not say so, Madame!” interposed Max Graub, “You have three new
friends--three new ‘sons of your blood,’ as you so poetically call
them,--though, truly, I for one am more fit to be your grandfather! And
do you consider the time wasted that has been spent in improving and
instructing your newly-born children?”

Lotys turned upon him with a look of disdain.

“You are a would-be jester;” she said coldly; “Old men love a jest, I
know, but they should take care to make it at the right time, and in the
right place. They should not play with edge-tools such as I am, though I
suppose, being a German, you think little or nothing of women?”

“Madame!” protested Graub, “I think so much of women that I have never
married! Behold me, an unhappy bachelor! I have spared any one of your
beautiful sex from the cruel martyrdom of having to endure my life-long

She laughed--a pretty low laugh, and extended her hand with an air of
queenly condescension.

“You are amusing!” she said,--“And so I will not quarrel with you!

“Auf wiedersehn!” and Graub kissed the white hand he held. “I shall hope
you will command me to be of service to you and yours, ere long!”

“In what way, I wonder,” she asked dubiously; “What can you do best?
Write? Speak? Or organize meetings?”

“I think,” said Graub, speaking very deliberately, “that of all my
various accomplishments, which are many--as I shall one day prove to
you--I can poison best!”


The exclamation broke simultaneously from all the company. Graub looked
about him with a triumphant air.

“Ah so,--I know I shall be useful,” he said; “I can poison so
very beautifully and well! One little drop--one, little microbe of
mischief--and I can make all your enemies die of cholera, typhoid,
bubonic plague, or what you please! I am what is called a Christian
scientific poisoner--that is a doctor! You will find me a most
invaluable member of this Brotherhood!”

He nodded his head wisely, and smiled. Sergius Thord laid one hand
heavily on his shoulder.

“We shall find you useful, no doubt!” he said, “But mark me well,
friend! Our mission is not to kill, but to save!--not to poison, but to
heal! If we find that by the death of one traitor we can save the lives
of thousands, why then that traitor must die. If we know that by killing
a king we destroy a country’s abuses, that king is sent to his account.
But never without warning!--never without earnest pleading that he
whom the laws of Truth condemn, may turn from the error of his ways and
repent before it is too late. We are not murderers;--we are merely the
servants of justice.”

“Exactly!” put in Paul Zouche; “You understand? We try to be what God is

“Blaspheme not, Zouche!” said Thord; “Justice is the very eye of
God!--the very centre and foundation of the universe.”

Zouche laughed discordantly.

“Excellent Sergius! Impulsive Sergius!--with big heart, big head and
no logic! Prove to me this eternal justice! Where does it begin? In the
creation of worlds without end, all doomed to destruction, and therefore
perfectly futile in their existence? In the making of man, who lives his
little day with the utmost difficulty, pain and struggle, and is then
extinguished, to be heard of no more? The use of it, my Sergius!--point
out the use of it! No,--there is no man can answer me that! If I could
see the Creator, I would ask Him the question personally--but He
hides Himself behind the great big pendulum He has set
swinging--tick--tock!--tick--tock! Life--Death!--Life--Death!--and
never a reason why the clock is set going! And so we shall never have
justice,--simply because there is none! It is not just or reasonable
to propound a question to which there is no answer; it is not just or
reasonable to endow man with all the thinking powers of brain, and all
the imaginative movements of mind, merely to turn him into a pinch of
dust afterwards. Every generation, every country strives to get justice
done, but cannot,--merely for the fact that God Himself has no idea
of it, and therefore it is naturally lacking in His creature, man. Our
governing-forces are plainly the elements. No Divine finger stops the
earthquake from engulfing a village full of harmless inhabitants, simply
because of the injustice of such utter destruction! See now!--look at
the eyes of Lotys reproaching me! You would think they were the eyes
of an angel, gazing at a devil in the sweet hope of plucking him out of

“Such a hope would be vain in your case, Zouche,” said Lotys tranquilly;
“You make your own hell, and you must live in it! Nevertheless, in some
of the wild things you say, there is a grain of truth. If I were God, I
should be the most miserable of all beings, to look upon all the misery
I had myself created! I should be so sorry for the world, that I should
put an end to all hope of immortality by my own death.”

She made this strange remark with a simplicity and wistfulness which
were in striking contrast to the awful profundity of the suggestion, and
all her auditors, including the half-tipsy Zouche, were silent.

“I should be so sorry!” she repeated; “For even as a mortal woman my
pity for the suffering world almost breaks my heart;--but if I were
God, I should have all the griefs of all the worlds I had made to answer
for,--and such an agony would surely kill me. Oh,--the pain, the tears,
the mistakes, the sins, the anguish of humanity! All these are frightful
to me! I do not understand why such misery should exist! I think it
must be that we have not enough love in the world; if we only loved each
other faithfully, God might love us more!”

Her eyes were wet; she caught her breath hard, and smiled a little
difficult smile. Something in her soul transfigured her face, and made
it for the moment exquisitely lovely, and the men around her gazed at
her in evidently reverential silence. Suddenly she stretched out both
her hands:

“Good-night, children!”

One by one the would-be-fierce associates of the Revolutionary Committee
bent low over those fair hands; and then quietly saluting Sergius Thord,
as quietly left the room, like schoolboys retiring from a class where
the lessons had been more or less badly done. Paul Zouche was not very
steady on his feet, and two of his comrades assisted him to walk as
he stumbled off, singing somewhat of a ribald rhyme in _mezza-voce_.
Pasquin Leroy and his two friends were the last to go. Lotys looked at
them all three meditatively.

“You will be faithful?” she said.

“Unto death!” answered Leroy.

She came close up to him, placing one hand on his arm, and glanced
meaningly towards Sergius Thord, who was standing at the threshold
watching Zouche stumbling down the dark stairs.

“Sergius is a good man!” she said; “One of the mistaken geniuses of this
world,--savage as a lion, yet simple as a child! Whoever, and whatever
you are, be true to him!”

“He is dear to you?” said Leroy on a sudden impulse, catching her hand;
“He is more to you than most men?”

She snatched away her hand, and her eyes lightened first with wrath,
then with laughter.

“Dear to me!” she echoed,--“to Me? No one man on earth is dearer to me
than another! All are alike in my estimation,--all the same barbaric,
foolish babes and children--all to be loved and pitied alike! But
Sergius Thord picked me out of the streets when I was no better than
a stray and starving dog,--and like a dog I serve him--faithfully! Now

She stretched out her hand in an attitude of command, and there was
nothing for it but to obey. They therefore repeated their farewells,
and in their turn, went out, one by one, down the tortuous staircase.
Sholto, the hunchback, was below, and he let them out without a word,
closing and barring the door carefully behind them. Once in the street
and under the misty moonlight, Pasquin Leroy nodded a careless dismissal
to his companions.

“You will return alone?” enquired Max Graub.

“Quite alone!” was the reply.

“May I not follow you at a distance?” asked Axel Regor.

Leroy smiled. “You forget! One of the rules we have just sworn to
conform to, is--‘No member shall track, follow or enquire into the
movements of any other member.’ Go your ways! I will thank you both for
your services to-morrow.”

He turned away rapidly and disappeared. His two friends remained gazing
somewhat disconsolately after him.

“Shall we go?” at last said Max Graub.

“When you please,” replied Axel Regor irritably,--“The sooner the better
for me! Here we are probably watched,--we had best go down to the quay,
and from thence----”

He did not finish his sentence, but Graub evidently understood its
conclusion--and they walked quickly away together in quite an opposite
direction to that in which Leroy had gone.

Meanwhile, up in the now closed and darkened house they had left behind
them, Lotys stood looking at Sergius Thord, who had thrown himself
into a chair and sat with his elbows resting on the table, and his head
buried in his hands.

“You make no way, poor Sergius!” she said gently. “You work, you write,
you speak to the people, but you make no way!”

He looked up fiercely.

“I do make way!” he said; “How can you doubt it? A word from me, and the
massed millions would rise as one man!”

“And of what use would that be?” enquired Lotys. “The soldiers would
fire on the people, and there would be riot and bloodshed, but no actual
redress for wrong. You work vainly, Sergius!”

“If I could but kill the King!” he muttered.

“Another king would succeed him,” she said. “And after all, if you only
knew it, the King may be a miserable man enough--far more miserable,
perhaps, than any of us imagine ourselves to be. No, Sergius!--I repeat
it, you work vainly! You have made me the soul of an Ideal which you
will never realise? Tell me, what is it you yourself would have, out of
all your work and striving?”

He looked at her with great, earnest, burning eyes.

“Power!” he said. “Power to change the mode of government; power to put
down the tyranny of priestcraft--power to relieve the oppressed, and
reward the deserving--power to make of you, Lotys, a queen among women!”

She smiled.

“I am a queen among men, Sergius, and that suffices me! How often must
I tell you to do nothing for my sake, if it is for my sake only? I am a
very simple, plain woman, past my youth, and without beauty--I deserve
and demand nothing!”

He raised himself, and stretched out his arms towards her with a gesture
of entreaty.

“You deserve all that a man can give you!” he said passionately. “I
love you, Lotys! I have always loved you ever since I found you a little
forsaken child, shivering and weeping on the cold marble steps of
the Temesvar place in Buda. I love you!--you know I have always loved
you!--I have told you so a hundred times,--I love you as few men love

She regarded him compassionately, and with a touch of wistful sorrow in
her eyes. Her black cloak fell away on either side of her in two shadowy
folds, disclosing her white-robed form and full bosom, like a pearl in a
dark shell.

“Good-night, Sergius!” she said simply, and turned to go.

He gave an exclamation of anger and pain.

“That is all you say--‘Good-night’!” he muttered. “A man gives you his
heart, and you set it aside with a cold word of farewell! And yet--and
yet--you hold all my life!”

“I am sorry, Sergius,” she said, in a gentle voice; “very sorry that it
is so. You have told me all this before; and I have answered you often,
and always in the same way. I have no love to give you, save that which
is the result of duty and gratitude. I do not forget!--I know that
you rescued me from starvation and death--though sometimes I question
whether it would not have been better to have let me die. Life is worth
very little at its utmost best; nevertheless, I admit I have had a
certain natural joy in living, and for that I have to thank you. I have
tried to repay you by my service--”

“Do not speak of that,” he said hurriedly; “I have done nothing! You are
a genius in yourself, and would have made your way anywhere,--perhaps
better without me.”

She smiled doubtfully.

“I am not sure! The trick of oratory does not carry one very far,--not
when one is a woman! Good-night again, Sergius! Try to rest,--you look
worn out. And do not think of winning power for my sake; what power I
need I will win for myself!”

He made no answer, but watched her with jealous eyes, as she moved
towards the door. On the threshold she turned.

“Those three new associates of yours--are they trustworthy, think you?”

He gave a gesture of indifference.

“I do not know! Who is there we can absolutely trust save ourselves?
That man, Leroy, is honest,--of that I am confident,--and he has
promised to be responsible for his friends.”

“Ah!” She paused a moment, then with another low breathed ‘good-night’
she left the room.

He looked at the door as it closed behind her--at the chair she had left

“Lotys!” he whispered.

His whisper came hissing softly back to him in a fine echo on the empty
space, and with a great sigh he rose, and began to turn out the flaring
lamps above his head.

“Power!--Power!” he muttered--“She could not resist it! She would never
be swayed by gold,--but power! Her genius would rise to it--her beauty
would grow to it like a rose unfolding in the sun! ‘Past youth, and
without beauty’ as she says of herself! My God! Compare the tame
pink-and-white prettiness of youth with the face of Lotys,--and that
prettiness becomes like a cheap advertisement on a hoarding or a
match-box! Contrast the perfect features, eyes and hair of the newest
social ‘beauty,’--with the magical expression, the glamour in the eyes
of Lotys,--and perfection of feature becomes the rankest ugliness! Once
in a hundred centuries a woman is born like Lotys, to drive men mad with
desire for the unattainable--to fire them with such ambition as should
make them emperors of the world, if they had but sufficient courage to
snatch their thrones--and yet,--to fill them with such sick despair at
their own incompetency and failure, as to turn them into mere children
crying for love--for love!--only love! No matter whether worlds are
lost, kings killed, and dynasties concluded, love!--only love!--and then
death!--as all sufficient for the life of a man! And only just so
long as love is denied--just so long we can go on climbing towards the
unreachable height of greatness,--then--once we touch love, down we
fall, broken-hearted; but--we have had our day!”

The room was now in darkness, save for the glimmer of the pale moon
through the window panes, and he opened the casement and looked out.
There was a faint scent of the sea on the air, and he inhaled its salty
odour with a sense of refreshment.

“All for Lotys!” he murmured. “Working for Lotys, plotting, planning,
scheming for Lotys! The government intimidated,--the ministry cast
out,--the throne in peril,--the people in arms,--the city in a
blaze,--Revolution and Anarchy doing their wild work broad-cast
together,--all for Lotys! Always a woman in it! Search to the very depth
of every political imbroglio,--dig out the secret reason of every war
that ever was begun or ended in the world,--and there we shall find the
love or the hate of a woman at the very core of the business! Some
such secrets history knows, and has chronicled,--and some will never be
known,--but up to the present there is not even a religion in the world
where a Woman is not made the beginning of a God!”

He smiled somewhat grimly at his own fanciful musings, and then,
shutting the window, retired. The house was soon buried in profound
silence and darkness, and over the city tuneful bells rang the half-hour
after midnight. Four miles distant from the ‘quarter of the poor,’ and
high above the clustering houses of the whole magnificent metropolis,
the Royal palace towered whitely on its proud eminence in the glimmer
of the moon, a stately pile of turrets and pinnacles; and on the
battlements the sentries walked, pacing to and fro in regular march,
with regular changes, all through the night hours. Half after midnight!
‘All’s well!’ Three-quarters, and still ‘All’s well’ sounded with the
clash of steel and a tinkle of silvery chimes. One o’clock struck,--and
the drifting clouds in heaven cleared fully, showing many brilliant
stars in the western horizon,--and a sentry passing, as noiselessly as
his armour and accoutrements would permit, along the walled battlement
which protected and overshadowed the windows of the Queen’s apartments,
paused in his walk to look with an approving eye at the clearing
promise of the weather. As he did so, a tall figure, wrapped in a thick
rain-cloak, suddenly made its unexpected appearance through a side door
in the wall, and moved rapidly towards a turret which contained a secret
passage leading to the Queen’s boudoir,--a private stairway which was
never used save by the Royal family. The sentry gave a sharp warning

“Halt! Who goes there?”

The figure paused and turned, dropping its cloak. The pale moonlight
fell slantwise on the features, disclosing them fully.

“T is I! The King!”

The soldier recoiled amazed,--and quickly saluted. Before he could
recover from his astonishment he was alone again. The battlement was
empty, and the door to the turret-stairs,--of which only the King
possessed the key,--was fast locked; and for the next hour or more the
startled sentry remained staring at the skies in a sort of meditative
stupefaction, with the words still ringing like the shock of an
alarm-bell in his ears:

“‘T is I! The King!”



The next day the sun rose with joyous brightness in a sky clear as
crystal. Storm, wind, and rain had vanished like the flying phantoms of
an evil dream, and all the beautiful land sparkled with light and life
in its enlacing girdle of turquoise blue sea. The gardens of the Royal
palace, freshened by the downpour of the past night, wore their most
enchanting aspect,--roses, with leaves still wet, dropped their scented
petals on the grass,--great lilies, with their snowy cups brimming with
rain, hung heavily on their slim green stalks, and the air was full of
the deliciously penetrating odour of the mimosa and sweetbriar. Down one
special alley, where the white philadelphus, or ‘mock orange’ grew in
thick bushes on either side, intermingled with ferns and spruce firs,
whose young green tips exhaled a pungent, healthy scent that entered
into the blood like wine and invigorated it, Sir Roger de Launay was
pacing to and fro with a swinging step which, notwithstanding its ease
and soldierly regularity, suggested something of impatience, and on a
rustic seat, above which great clusters of the philadelphus-flowers hung
like a canopy, sat Professor von Glauben, spectacles on nose, sorting a
few letters which he had just taken from his pocket for the purpose of
reading them over again carefully one by one. He was a very particular
man as regarded his correspondence. All letters that required answering
he answered at once,--the others, as he himself declared, ‘answered
themselves’ in silence.

“There is no end to the crop of fools in this world,” he was fond of
saying;--“Glorious, precious fools! I love them all! They make
life worth living--but sometimes I am disposed to draw the line at
letter-writing fools. These persons chance to read a book--my book for
example,--that particularly clever one I wrote on the possibilities of
eternal life in this world. They at once snatch their pens and write to
say that they are specially deserving of this boon, and wish to live for
ever--will I tell them how? And these are the very creatures I will not
tell how--because their perpetual existence would be a mistake and a
nuisance! The individuals whose lives are really valuable never ask
anyone how to make them so.”

He looked over his letters now with a leisurely indifference. The
morning’s post had brought him nothing of special importance. He glanced
from his reading now and again at De Launay marching up and down, but
said nothing till he had quite finished with his own immediate concerns.
Then he removed his spectacles from his nose and put them by.

“Left--Right--Left--Right--Left--Right! Roger, you remind me of my
drilling days on a certain flat and dusty ground at Coblentz! The
Rhine!--the Rhine! Ah, the beautiful Rhine! So dirty--so dull--with its
toy castles, and its big, ugly factory chimneys, and its atrociously
bad wine! Roger, I beseech you to have mercy upon me, and leave off that
marching up and down,--it gets on my nerves!”

“I thought nothing ever got on your nerves,” answered Sir Roger,
stopping abruptly--“You seem to take serious matters coolly enough!”

“Serious matters demand coolness,” replied Von Glauben. “We should only
let steam out over trifles. Have you seen his Majesty this morning?”

“Yes. I am to see him again at noon.”

“When do you go off duty?”

“Not for a month, at least.”

“Much may happen in that month,” said the Professor sententiously;
“_Your_ hair may grow white with the strangeness of your experiences!”

Sir Roger met his eyes, and they both laughed.

“Though it is no laughing matter,” resumed Von Glauben. “Upon my soul as
a German,--if I have any soul of that nationality,--I think it may be a
serious business!”

“You have come round to my opinion then,” said De Launay. “I told you
from the first that it was serious!”

“The King does not think it so,” rejoined Von Glauben. “I was summoned
to his presence early this morning, and found him in the fullest health
and highest spirits.”

“Why did he send for you then?” enquired De Launay.

“To feel his pulse and look at his tongue! To make a little game of
me before he stepped out of his dressing-gown! And I enjoyed it, of
course,--one must always enjoy Royal pleasantries! I think, Roger, his
Majesty wishes this entire affair treated as a pleasantry,--by us at any
rate, however seriously he may regard it himself.”

De Launay was silent for a minute or two, then he said abruptly:

“The Premier is summoned to a private audience of the King at noon.”

“Ah!” And Von Glauben drew a cluster of the overhanging philadelphus
flowers down to his nose and smelt them approvingly.

“And”--went on De Launay, speaking more deliberately, “this afternoon
their Majesties sail to The Islands----”

Von Glauben jumped excitedly to his feet.

“Not possible!”

Sir Roger looked at him with a dawning amusement beginning to twinkle in
his clear blue eyes.

“Quite possible! So possible, that the Royal yacht is ordered to be
in readiness at three o’clock. Their Majesties and suite will dine on
board, in order to enjoy the return sail by moonlight.”

The Professor’s countenance was a study. Anxiety and vexation struggled
with the shrewd kindness and humour of his natural expression, and his
suppressed feelings found vent in a smothered exclamation, which sounded
very much like the worst of blasphemous oaths used in dire extremity by
the soldiers of the Fatherland.

“What ails you?” demanded De Launay; “You seem strangely upset for a man
of cool nerve!”

“Upset? Who--what can upset me? Nothing! Roger, if I did not respect you
so much, I should call you an ass!”

Sir Roger laughed.

“Call me an ass, by all means,” he said, “if it will relieve your
feelings;--but in justice to me, let me know why you do so! What is my
offence? I give you a piece of commonplace information concerning the
movements of the Court this afternoon, and you jump off your seat as if
an adder had bitten you. Why?”

“I have the gout,” said Von Glauben curtly.

“Oh!” And again Sir Roger laughed. “That last must have been a sharp

“It was--it was! Believe me, my excellent Roger, it was exceedingly
severe!” His brow smoothed, and he smiled. “See here, my dear
friend!--you know, do you not, that boys will be boys, and men will be

“Both are recognised platitudes,” replied Sir Roger, his eyes still
twinkling merrily; “And both are frequently quoted to cover our various

“True, true! But I wish to weigh more particularly on the fact that men
will be men! I am a man, Roger,--not a boy!”

“Really! Well, upon my word, I should at this moment take you for a raw
lad of about eighteen,--for you are blushing, Von Glauben!--actually

The Professor drew out a handkerchief, and wiped his brow.

“It is a warm morning, Roger,” he said, with a mildly reproachful air;
“I suppose I am permitted to feel the heat?” He paused--then with a
sudden burst of impatience he exclaimed: “By the Emperor’s head! It is
of no use denying it--I am very much put out, Roger! I must get a boat,
and slip off to The Islands at once!”

Sir Roger stared at him in complete amazement.

“You? You want to slip off to The Islands? Why, Von Glauben----!”

“Yes--yes,--I know! You cannot possibly imagine what I want to go there
for! You wouldn’t suppose, would you, that I had any special secrets--an
old man like me;--for instance, you would not suspect me of any love
secrets, eh?” And he made a ludicrous attempt to appear sentimental.
“The fact is, Roger,--I have got into a little scrape over at The
Islands--” here he looked warmer and redder than ever;--“and I want to
take precautions! You understand--I want to take care that the King does
not hear of it--Gott in Himmel! What a block of a man you are to stand
there staring open-mouthed at me! Were you never in love yourself?

“In love? In love!--you,--Professor? Pray pardon me--but--in love? Am I
to understand that there is a lady in your case?”

“Yes!--that is it,” said Von Glauben, with an air of profound relief;
“There is a lady in my case;--or my case, speaking professionally, is
that of a lady. And I shall get any sort of a sea-tub that is available,
and go over to those accursed Islands without any delay!”

“If the King should send for you while you are absent--” began De Launay

“He will not send. But if he should, what of it? I am known to be
somewhat eccentric--particularly so in my love of hard work, fresh air
and exercise--besides, he has not commanded my attendance. He will not,
therefore, be surprised at my absence. I tell you, Roger,--I _must_ go!
Who would have expected the King to take it into his head to visit The
Islands without a moment’s warning! What a freak!”

“And here comes the reason of the freak, if I am not very much
mistaken,” said De Launay, lowering his voice as an approaching figure
flung its lengthy shadow on the path,--“Prince Humphry!”

Von Glauben hastily drew back, De Launay also, to allow the Prince to
pass. He was walking slowly, and reading as he came. Looking up from
his book he saw, them, and as they saluted him profoundly, bade them

“You are up betimes, Professor,” he said lightly; “I suppose your
scientific wisdom teaches you the advantage of the morning air.”

“Truly, Sir, it is more healthful than that of the evening,” answered
Von Glauben in somewhat doleful accents.--“For example, a sail across
the sea with the morning breeze, is better than the same sort of
excursion in the glamour of the moon!”

Prince Humphry looked steadfastly at him, and evidently read something
of a warning, or a suggestion, in his face, for he coloured slightly and
bit his lip.

“Do you agree with that theory, Sir Roger,” he said, turning to De

“I have not tested it, Sir,” replied the equerry, “But I imagine that
whatever Professor von Glauben asserts must be true!”

The young man glanced quickly from one to the other, and then with a
careless air turned over the pages of the book he held.

“In the earlier ages of the world,” he said,--“men and women, I think,
must have been happier than they are now, if this book may be believed.
I find here written down--What is it, Professor? You have something to

“Pardon me, Sir,” said Von Glauben,--“But you said--‘If this book may be
believed.’ I humbly venture to declare that no book may be believed!”

“Not even your own, when it is written?” queried the Prince with
a smile; “You would not like the world to say so! Nay, but listen,
Professor,--here is a thought very beautifully expressed--and it was
written in an ancient language of the East, thousands of years before
we, in our quarter of the world, ever dreamt of civilization.--‘Of all
the sentiments, passions or virtues which in their divers turns affect
the life of a man, the influence and emotion of Love is surely the
greatest and highest. We do not here speak of the base and villainous
craving of bodily appetite; but of that pure desire of the unfettered
soul which beholding perfection, straightway and naturally flies to
the same. This love doth so elevate and instruct a man, that he seeketh
nothing better than to be worthy of it, to attempt great deeds and
valiantly perform them, to confront foul abuses, and most potently
destroy them,--and to esteem the powers and riches of this world as
dross, weighed against this rare and fiery talisman. For it is a jewel
which doth light up the heart, and make it strong to support all sorrow
and ill fortune with cheerfulness, knowing that it is in itself of
so lasting a quality as to subjugate all things and events unto its
compelling sway.’ What think you of this? Sir Roger, there is a whole
volume of comprehension in your face! Give some word of it utterance!”

Sir Roger looked up.

“There is nothing to say, Sir,” he replied; “Your ancient writer merely
expresses a truth we are all conscious of. All poets, worthy the name,
and all authors, save and except the coldest logicians, deem the world
well lost for love.”

“More fools they!” said Von Glauben gruffly; “Love is a mere illusion,
which is generally destroyed by one simple ceremony--Marriage!”

Prince Humphry smiled.

“You have never tried the cure, Professor,” he said, “But I daresay you
have suffered from the disease! Will you walk with me?”

Von Glauben bowed a respectful assent; and the Prince, with a kindly nod
of dismissal to De Launay, went on his way, the Professor by his
side. Sir Roger watched them as they disappeared, and saw, that at the
furthest end of the alley, when they were well out of ear-shot, they
appeared to engage in very close and confidential conversation.

“I wonder,” he mused, “I wonder what it all means? Von Glauben is
evidently mixed up in some affair that he wishes to keep secret from
the King. Can it concern Prince Humphry? And The Islands! What can Von
Glauben want over there?”

His brief meditation was interrupted by a soft voice calling.


He started, and at once advanced to meet the approaching intruder, his
sister, Teresa de Launay, a pretty brunette, with dark sparkling eyes,
one of the favourite ladies of honour in attendance on the Queen.

“What were you dreaming about?” she asked, as he came near, “And what is
the Prince doing with old Von Glauben?”

“Two questions at once, Teresa!” he said, stooping his tall head to
kiss her; “I cannot possibly answer both in a breath! But answer me just
one--What are you here for?”

“To summon _you_!” she answered. “The Queen desires you to wait upon her

She fixed her bright eyes upon him as she spoke, and an involuntary sigh
escaped her, as she noted the touch of pallor that came on his face at
her words.

“Where is her Majesty?” he asked.

“Here--close at hand--in the arbour. She spied you at a distance through
the trees, and sent me to fetch you.”

“You had best return to her at once, and say that I am coming.”

His sister looked at him again, and hesitated--he gave a slight, vexed
gesture of impatience, whereupon she hurried away, with flying footsteps
as light as those of a fabled sylph of the woodlands. He watched her
go, and for a moment an expression came into his eyes of intense
suffering--the look of a noble dog who is suddenly struck undeservedly
by an unkind master.

“She sends for me!” he muttered; “What for? To amuse herself by reading
every thought of my life with her cold eyes? Why can she not leave me

He walked on then, with a quiet, even pace, and presently reaching the
end of the alley, came out on a soft stretch of greensward facing a
small ornamental lake and fountain. Here grew tall rushes, bamboos and
flag-flowers--here, too, on the quiet lake floated water-lilies, white
and pink, opening their starry hearts to the glory of the morning sun. A
quaintly shaped, rustic arbour covered with jasmine, faced the pool, and
here sat the Queen alone and unattended, save by Teresa de Launay,
who drew a little apart as her brother, Sir Roger, approached, and
respectfully bent his head in the Royal presence. For quite a minute he
stood thus in dumb attention, his eyes lowered, while the Queen glanced
at him with a curious expression, half of doubt, half of commiseration.
Suddenly, as if moved by a quick impulse, she rose--a stately, exquisite
figure, looking even more beautiful in her simple morning robe of white
cashmere and lace, than in all the glory of her Court attire,--and
extended her hand. Humbly and reverentially he bent over it, and kissed
the great jewel sparkling like a star on the central finger. As he
then raised his eyes to her face she smiled;--that smile of hers, so
dazzling, so sweet, and yet so cold, had sent many men to their deaths,
though she knew it not.

“I see very little of you, Sir Roger,” she said slowly, “notwithstanding
your close attendance on my lord the King. Yet I know I can command your

“Madam,” murmured De Launay, “my life----”

“Oh, no,” she rejoined quickly, “not your life! Your life, like mine,
belongs to the King and the country. You must give all, or not at all!”

“Madam, I do give all!” he answered, with a look in his eyes of mingled
pain and passion; “No man can give more!”

She surveyed him with a little meditative, almost amused air.

“You have strong feelings, Sir Roger,” she said; “I wonder what it is
like--to _feel_?”

“If I may dare to say so, Madam, I should wish you to experience the
sensation,” he returned somewhat bitterly; “Sometimes we awaken to
emotions too late--sometimes we never awaken. But I think it is wisest
to experience the nature of a storm, in order to appreciate the value of
a calm!”

“You think so?” She smiled indulgently. “Storm and calm are to me alike!
I am affected by neither. Life is so exceedingly trivial an affair, and
is so soon over, that I have never been able to understand why people
should ever trouble themselves about anything in it.”

“You may not always be lacking in this comprehension, Madam,” said
Sir Roger, with a certain harshness in his tone, yet with the deepest
respect in his manner; “I take it that life and the world are but a
preparation for something greater, and that we shall be forced to learn
our lessons in this preparatory school before we leave it, whether we
like it or no!”

The slight smile still lingered on her beautiful mouth,--she pulled a
spray of jasmine down from the trailing clusters around her, and set it
carelessly among the folds of her lace. Sir Roger watched her with moody
eyes. Could he have followed his own inclination, he would have snatched
the flower from her dress and kissed it, in a kind of fierce defiance
before her very eyes. But what would be the result of such an act?
Merely a little contemptuous lifting of the delicate brows--a slight
frown on the fair forehead, and a calm gesture of dismissal. No more--no
more than this; for just as she could not be moved to love, neither
could she be moved to anger. The words of an old song rang in his

   She laughs at the thought of love--
  Pain she scorns, and sorrow she sets aside--
  My heart she values less than her broidered glove,
    She would smile if I died!

“You are a man, Sir Roger de Launay,” she said after a pause, “And
man-like, you propound any theory which at the moment happens to fit
your own particular humour. I am, however, entirely of your opinion
that this life is only a term of preparation, and with this conviction I
desire to have as little to do with its vile and ugly side as I can. It
is possible to accept with gratitude the beautiful things of Nature, and
reject the rest, is it not?”

“As you ask me the question point-blank, Madam, I say it is
possible,--it can be done,--and you do it. But it is wrong!”

She raised her languid eyelids, showing no offence.


“Wrong, Madam!” repeated Sir Roger bluntly; “It is wrong to shut from
your sight, from your heart, from your soul the ugly side of Nature;--to
shut your ears to the wants--the pains--the tortures--the screams--the
tears, and groans of humanity! Oh, Madam, the ugly side has a strange
beauty of its own that you dream not of! God makes ugliness as he makes
beauty; God created the volcano belching forth fire and molten lava, as
He created the simple stream bordered with meadow flowers! Why should
you reject the ugly, the fierce, the rebellious side of things? Rather
take it into your gracious thoughts and prayers, Madam, and help to make
it beautiful!”

He spoke with a force which surprised himself--he was carried away by a
passion that seemed almost outside his own identity. She looked at him

“Does the King teach you to speak thus to me?” she asked.

De Launay started,--the hot colour mounting to his cheeks and brow.


“Nay, no excuse! I understand! It is your own thought; but a thought
which is no doubt suddenly inspired by the King’s actions,” she went on
tranquilly; “You are in his confidence. He is adopting new measures of
domestic policy, in which, perchance, I may or may not be included--as
it suits my pleasure! Who knows!” Again the little musing smile crossed
her countenance. “It is of the King I wish to speak to you.”

She glanced around her, and saw that her lady-in-waiting, Teresa de
Launay, had discreetly wandered by herself to the edge of the water-lily
pool, and was bending over it, a graceful, pensive figure in the near
distance, within call, but certainly not within hearing.

“You are in his confidence,” she repeated, drawing a step nearer to him,
“and--so am I! You will not disclose his movements--nor shall I! But you
are his close attendant and friend,--I am merely--his wife! I make you
responsible for his safety!”

“Madam, I pray you pardon me!” exclaimed De Launay; “His Majesty has a
will of his own,--and his sacred life is not in my hands. I will defend
him to the utmost limit of human possibility,--but if he voluntarily
runs into danger, and disregards all warning, I, as his poor servant, am
not to blame!”

Her eyes, brilliant and full of a compelling magnetism, dwelt upon him

“I repeat my command,” she said deliberately, “I make you responsible!
You are a strong man and a brave one. If the King is rash, it is
the duty of his servants to defend him from the consequences of his
rashness; particularly if that rashness leads him into danger for a
noble purpose. Should any mischance befall him, let me never see your
face again! Die yourself, rather than let your King die!”

As she spoke these words she motioned him away with a grand gesture of
dismissal, and he retired back from her presence in a kind of
stunned amazement. Never before in all the days of her social sway as
Crown-Princess, had she ever condescended to speak to him on any
matter of confidence,--never during her three years of sovereignty as
Queen-Consort had she apparently taken note, or cared to know any of the
affairs connected with the King, her husband. The mere fact that now her
interest was roused, moved De Launay to speechless wonderment. He hardly
dared raise his eyes to look at her, as she turned from him and went
slowly, with her usual noiseless, floating grace of movement, towards
the water-lily pool, there to rejoin her attendant, Teresa de Launay,
who at the same time advanced to meet her Royal mistress. A moment more,
and Queen and lady of honour had disappeared together, and De Launay was
left alone. A little bird, swinging on a branch above his head, piped
a few tender notes to the green leaves and the sunlit sky, but beyond
this, and the measured plash of the fountain, no sound disturbed the
stillness of the garden.

“Upon my word, Roger de Launay,” he said bitterly to himself, “you are
an ass sufficiently weighted with burdens! The love of a Queen, and the
life of a King are enough for one man’s mind to carry with any degree of
safety! If it were not for the King, I think I should leave this country
and seek some other service--but I owe him much,--if only by reason of
my own heart’s folly!”

Impatient with himself, he strode away, straight across the lawn and
back to the palace. Here he noticed just the slightest atmosphere of
uneasiness among some of the retainers of the Royal household,--a
vague impression of flurry and confusion. Through various passages and
corridors, attendants and pages were either running about with extra
haste, or else strolling to and fro with extra slowness. As he
turned into one of the ante-chambers, he suddenly confronted a tall,
military-looking personage in plain civilian attire, whom he at once
recognized as the Chief of the Police.

“Ah, Bernhoff!” he said lightly, “any storms brewing?”

“None that call for particular attention, Sir Roger,” replied the
individual addressed; “But I have been sent for by the King, and am here
awaiting his pleasure.”

Sir Roger showed no sign of surprise, and with a friendly nod passed on.
He began to find the situation rather interesting.

“After all,” he argued inwardly, “there is nothing to hinder the King
from being a social autocrat, even if he cannot by the rules of the
Constitution be a political one. And we should do well to remember that
politics are governed entirely by social influence. It is the same thing
all over the world--a deluded populace--a social movement which elects
a parliament and ministry--and then the result,--which is, that this or
that party hold the reins of government, on whichever side happens to be
most advantageous to the immediate social and financial whim. The people
are the grapes crushed into wine for their rulers’ drinking; and the
King is merely the wine-cup on the festal board. If he once begins to be
something more than that cup, there will be an end of revelry!”

His ideas were not without good foundation in fact. Throughout all
history, where a strong man has ruled a nation, whether for good or ill,
he has left his mark; and where there has been no strong man, the annals
of the time are vapid and uninteresting. Governments emanate from social
influences. The social rule of the Roman Emperors bred athletes, heroes,
and poets, merely because physical strength and courage, combined with
heroism and poetic perception were encouraged by Roman society. The
social rule of England’s Elizabeth had its result in the brilliant
attainments of the many great men who crowded her Court--the social rule
of Victoria, until the death of the Prince Consort, bred gentle women
and chivalrous men. In all these cases, the reigning monarchs governed
society, and society governed politics. Politics, indeed, can scarcely
be considered apart from society, because on the nature and character of
society depend the nature and character of politics. If society is
made up of corrupt women and unprincipled men, the spirit of political
government will be as corrupt and unprincipled as they. If any King,
beholding such a state of things, were to suddenly cut himself clear of
the corruption, and to make a straight road for his own progress--clean
and open--and elect to walk in it, society would follow his lead, and as
a logical consequence politics would become honourable. But no monarchs
have the courage of their opinions nowadays,--if only one sovereign of
them all possessed such courage, he could move the world!

The long bright day unwound its sunny hours, crowned with blue skies and
fragrant winds, and the life and movement of the fair city by the sea
was gay, incessant and ever-changing. There was some popular interest
and excitement going on down at the quay, for the usual idle crowd had
collected to see the Royal yacht being prepared for her afternoon’s
cruise. Though she was always kept ready for sailing, the King’s orders
this time had been sudden and peremptory, and, consequently, all the
men on board were exceptionally hard at work getting things in immediate
readiness. The fact that the Queen was to accompany the King in the
afternoon’s trip to The Islands, where up to the present she had never
been, was a matter of lively comment,--her extraordinary beauty never
failing to attract a large number of sight-seers.

In the general excitement, no one saw Professor von Glauben quietly
enter a small and common sailing skiff, manned by two ordinary fishermen
of the shore, and scud away with the wind over the sea towards the
west, where, in the distance on this clear day, a gleaming line of light
showed where The Islands lay, glistening like emerald and pearl in the
midst of the dark blue waste of water. His departure was unnoticed,
though as a rule the King’s private physician commanded some attention,
not only by reason of his confidential post in the Royal household, but
also on account of certain rumours which were circulated through the
country concerning his wonderful skill in effecting complete cures where
all hope of recovery had been abandoned. It was whispered, indeed, that
he had discovered the ‘Elixir of Life,’ but that he would not allow its
properties to be made known, lest as the Scripture saith, man should
‘take and eat and live for ever.’ It was not advisable--so the Professor
was reported to have said--that all men should live for ever,--but only
a chosen few; and he, at present, was apparently the privileged person
who alone was fitted to make the selection of those few. For this and
various other reasons, he was generally looked at with considerable
interest, but this morning, owing to the hurried preparations for the
embarking of their Majesties on board the Royal yacht, he managed to
escape from even chance recognition,--and he was well over the sea,
and more than half-way to his destination before the bells of the city
struck noon.

Punctual to that hour, a close carriage drove up to the palace. It
contained no less a personage than the Prime Minister, the Marquis de
Lutera,--a dark, heavy man, with small furtive eyes, a ponderous
jaw, and a curious air of seeming for ever on an irritable watch for
offences. His aspect was intellectual, yet always threatening; and his
frigid manner was profoundly discouraging to all who sought to win his
attention or sympathy. He entered the palace now with an easy, not to
say assertive deportment, and as he ascended the broad staircase which
led to the King’s private apartments, he met the Chief of the Police
coming down. This latter saluted him, but he barely acknowledged
the courtesy, so taken by surprise was he at the sight of this
administrative functionary in the palace at so early an hour. However,
it was impossible to ask any questions of him on the grand staircase,
within hearing of the Royal lackeys; so he continued on his way
upstairs, with as much dignity as his heavily-moulded figure would
permit him to display, till he reached the upper landing known as the
‘King’s Corridor,’ where Sir Roger de Launay was in waiting to conduct
him to his sovereign’s presence. To him the Marquis addressed the

“Bernhoff has been with the King?”

“Yes. For more than an hour.”

“Any robbery in the palace?”

De Launay smiled.

“I think not! So far as I am permitted to be cognisant of events, there
is nothing wrong!”

The Marquis looked slightly perplexed.

“The King is well?”

“Remarkably well--and in excellent humour! He is awaiting you,
Marquis,--permit me to escort you to him!”

The carved and gilded doors of the Royal audience-chamber were thereupon
flung back, and the Marquis entered, ushered in by De Launay. The
doors closed again upon them both; and for some time there was profound
silence in the King’s corridor, no intruder venturing to approach save
two gentlemen-at-arms, who paced slowly up and down at either end on
guard. At the expiration of about an hour, Sir Roger came out alone,
and, glancing carelessly around him, strolled to the head of the grand
staircase, and waited patiently there for quite another thirty minutes.
At last the doors were flung open widely again, and the King himself
appeared, clad in easy yachting attire, and walking with one hand
resting on the arm of the Marquis de Lutera, who, from his expression,
seemed curiously perturbed.

“Then you will not come with us, Marquis?” said the King, with an air
of gaiety; “You are too much engrossed in the affairs of Government to
break loose for an afternoon from politics for the sake of pleasure? Ah,
well! You are a matchless worker! Renowned as you are for your studious
observation of all that may tend to the advancement of the nation’s
interests--admired as you are for the complete sacrifice of all your own
advantages to the better welfare of the country, I will not (though I
might as your sovereign), command your attendance on this occasion! I
know the affairs you have in hand are pressing and serious!”

“They will be more than usually so, Sir,” said the Marquis in a low
voice; “for if you persist in maintaining your present attitude, the
foreign controversy in which we are engaged can scarcely go on. But your
action will be questioned by the Government!”

The King laughed.

“Good! By all means question it, my dear Marquis! Prove me an
unconstitutional monarch, if you like, and put Humphry on the throne in
my place,--but ask the People first! If they condemn me, I am satisfied
to be condemned! But the present political difference between ourselves
and a friendly nation must be arranged without offence. There does not
exist at the moment any reasonable cause for fanning the dispute into a
flame of war.”--He paused, then resumed--“You will not come with us?”

“Sir, if you will permit me to refuse the honour on this occasion----”

“The permission is granted!” replied the King, still smiling; “Farewell,
Marquis! We are not in the habit of absenting ourselves from our own
country, after the fashion of certain of our Royal neighbours, who shall
be nameless; and we conceive it our duty to make ourselves acquainted
with the habits and customs of all our subjects in all quarters of our
realm. Hence our resolve to visit The Islands, which, to our shame be it
said, we have neglected until now. We expect to derive both pleasure and
instruction from the brief voyage!”

“Are the islanders aware of your intention, Sir?” enquired the Marquis.

“Nay--to prepare them would have spoilt our pleasure!” replied the King.
“We will take them by surprise! We have heard of certain countries,
whose villages and towns have never seen the reigning sovereign,--and
though we have been but three years on the throne, we have resolved that
no corner of our kingdom shall lack the sunlight of our presence!”
 He gave a mirthful side-glance at De Launay. Then, extending his hand
cordially, he added: “May all success attend your efforts, Marquis,
to smooth over this looming quarrel between ourselves and our friendly
trade-rivals! I, for one, would not have it go further. I shall see you
again at the Council during the week.”

As the premier’s hand met that of his Sovereign, the latter exclaimed

“Ah!--I thought I missed a customary friend from my finger; I have
forgotten my signet-ring! Will you lend me yours for to-day, Marquis?”

“Sir, if you will deign to wear it!” replied the Marquis readily, and
at once slipping off the ring in question, he handed it to the King, who
smilingly accepted it and put it on.

“A fine sapphire!” he said approvingly; “Better, I think, than my ruby!”

“Sir, your praise enhances its value,” said De Lutera bowing profoundly;
“I shall from henceforth esteem it priceless!”

“Well said!” returned the King, “And rightly too!--for diplomacy is wise
in flattering a king to the last, even while meditating on his possible
downfall! Adieu, Marquis! When we next meet, I shall expect good news!”

He descended the staircase, closely attended by De Launay, and passed
at once into a larger room of audience, where some notable persons of
foreign distinction were waiting to be received. On the way thither,
however, he turned to Sir Roger for a moment, and held up the hand on
which the Marquis de Lutera’s signet flashed like a blue point of flame.

“Behold the Premier’s signet!” he said with a smile; “Methinks, for
once, it suits the King!”



Surrounded by a boundless width of dark blue sea at all visible
points of view, The Islands, lovely tufts of wooded rock, trees, and
full-flowering meadowlands, were situated in such a happy position as to
be well out of all possibility of modern innovation or improvement. They
were too small to contain much attraction for the curious tourist; and
though they were only a two-hours’ sail from the mainland, the distance
was just sufficiently inconvenient to keep mere sight-seers away. For
more than a hundred years they had been almost exclusively left to the
coral-fishers, who had made their habitation there; and the quaint,
small houses, and flowering vineyards and gardens, dotted about in the
more fertile portions of the soil, had all been built and planned by a
former race of these hardy folk, who had handed their properties down
from father to son. They were on the whole, a peaceable community.
Coral-fishing was one of the chief industries of the country, and the
islanders passed all their days in obtaining the precious product,
cleansing, and preparing it for the market. They were understood to be
extremely jealous of strangers and intruders, and to hold certain social
traditions which had never been questioned or interfered with by any
form of existing government, because in themselves they gave no cause
for interference, being counted among the most orderly and law-abiding
subjects of the realm. Very little interest was taken in their doings by
the people of the mainland,--scarcely as much interest, perhaps, as is
taken by Londoners in the inhabitants of Orkney or Shetland. One or two
scholars, a stray botanist here and there, or a few students fond of
adventure, had visited the place now and again, and some of these had
brought back enthusiastic accounts of the loveliness of the natural
scenery, but where a whole country is beautiful, little heed is given
to one small corner of it, particularly if that corner is difficult of
access, necessitating a two hours’ sail across a not always calm
sea. Vague reports were current that there was a strange house on The
Islands, built very curiously out of the timbers and spars of wrecked
vessels. The owner of this abode was said to be a man of advanced age,
whose history was unknown, but who many years ago had been cast
ashore from a great shipwreck, and had been rescued and revived by the
coral-fishers, since when, he had lived among them, and worked with
them. No one knew anything about him beyond that since his advent The
Islands had been more cultivated, and their inhabitants more prosperous;
and that he was understood to be, in the language or dialect of the
country, a ‘life-philosopher.’ Whereat, hearing these things by chance
now and then, or seeing a scrappy line or two in the daily press when
active reporters had no murders or suicides to enlarge upon, and wanted
to ‘fill up space,’ the gay aristocrats or ‘smart set’ of the metropolis
laughed at their dinner-parties and balls, and asked one another
inanely, “What is a ‘life-philosopher’?”

In the same way, when a small volume of poetry, burning as lava, wild
as a storm-wind, came floating out on the top of the seething soup of
current literature, bearing the name of Paul Zouche, and it was said
that this person was a poet, they questioned smilingly, “Is he dead?”
 for, naturally, they could not imagine these modern days were capable
of giving birth to a living specimen of the _genus_ bard. For they,
too, had their motor-cars from France and England;--they, too, had their
gambling-dens secreted in private houses of high repute,--they, too, had
their country-seats specially indicated as free to such house-parties
as wished to indulge in low intrigue and unbridled licentiousness; they,
too, weary of simple Christianity, had their own special ‘religions’
of palmistry, crystal-gazing, fortune-telling by cards, and Esoteric
‘faith-healing.’ The days were passing with them--as it passes with many
of their ‘set’ in other countries,--in complete forgetfulness of all
the nobler ambitions and emotions which lift Man above the level of his
companion Beast. For the time is now upon us when what has formerly been
known as ‘high’ is of its own accord sinking to the low, and what has
been called the ‘low’ is rising to the high. Strange times!--strange
days!--when the tradesman can scorn the duchess on account of her ‘dirty
mind’--when a certain nobleman can get no honest labourers to work
on his estate, because they suspect him of ‘rooking’ young college
lads;--and when a church in a seaport town stands empty every Sunday,
with its bells ringing in vain, because the congregation which should
fill it, know that their so-called ‘holy man’ is a rascal! All over the
world this rebellion against Falsehood,--this movement towards Truth is
felt,--all over the world the people are growing strong on their legs,
and clear in their brains;--no longer cramped and stunted starvelings,
they are gradually developing into full growth, and awaking to
intelligent action. And wherever the dominion of priestcraft has been
destroyed, there they are found at their best and bravest, with a
glimmering dawn of the true Christian spirit beginning to lighten their
darkness,--a spirit which has no race or sect, but is all-embracing,
all-loving, and all-benevolent;--which ‘thinketh no evil,’ but is so
nobly sufficing in its tenderness and patience, as to persuade the
obstinate, govern the unruly, and recover the lost, by the patient
influence of its own example. On the reverse side of the medal, wherever
we see priestcraft dominant, there we see ignorance and corruption, vice
and hypocrisy, and such a low standard of morals and education as is
calculated to keep the soul a slave in irons, with no possibility of any
intellectual escape into the ‘glorious liberty of the free.’

The afternoon was one of exceptional brilliance and freshness, when,
punctually at three o’clock, the Royal yacht hoisted sail, and dipped
gracefully away from the quay with their Majesties on board, amid the
cheers of an enthusiastic crowd. A poet might have sung of the scene in
fervid rhyme, so pretty and gay were all the surroundings,--the bright
skies, the dancing sea, the flying flags and streamers, and the soft
music of the Court orchestra, a band of eight players on stringed
instruments, which accompanied the Royal party on their voyage of
pleasure. The Queen stood on deck, leaning against the mast, her eyes
fixed on the shore, as the vessel swung round, and bore away towards the
west;--the people, elbowing each other, and climbing up on each other’s
shoulders and on the posts of the quay, merely to get a passing
glimpse of her beauty, all loyally cheering and waving their hats and
handkerchiefs, were as indifferent to her sight and soul as an ant-heap
in a garden walk. She had accustomed her mind to dwell on things beyond
life, and life itself had little interest for her. This was because she
had been set among the shams of worldly state and ceremonial from her
earliest years, and being of a profound and thoughtful nature, had grown
up to utterly despise the hollowness and hypocrisy of her surroundings.
In extenuation of the coldness of her temperament, it may be said that
her rooted aversion to men arose from having studied them too closely
and accurately. In her marriage she had fulfilled, or thought she had
fulfilled, a mere duty to the State--no more; and the easy conduct of
her husband during his apprenticeship to the throne as Heir-Apparent,
had not tended in any way to show her anything particularly worthy
of admiration or respect in his character. And so she had gone on her
chosen way, removed and apart from his,--and the years had flown by,
and now she was,--as she said to herself with a little touch of
contempt,--‘old--for a woman!’--while the King remained ‘young,--for
a man! ‘This was a mortifying reflection. True, her beauty was more
perfect than in her youth, and there were no signs as yet of its decay.
She knew well enough the extent of her charm,--she knew how easily she
could command homage wherever she went,--and knowing, she did not care.
Or rather--she had not cared. Was it possible she would ever care, and
perhaps at a time when it was no use caring? A certain irritability,
quite foreign to her usual composure, fevered her blood, and it arose
from one simple admission which she had been forced to make to herself
within the last few days, and this was, that her husband was as much her
kingly superior in heart and mind as he was in rank and power. She
had never till now imagined him capable of performing a brave deed, or
pursuing an independently noble course of action. Throughout all the
days of his married life he had followed the ordinary routine of his
business or pleasure with scarce a break,--in winter to his country
seat on the most southern coast of his southern land,--in spring to
the capital,--in full summer to some fashionable ‘bath’ or ‘cure,’--in
autumn to different great houses for the purpose of shooting other
people’s game by their obsequious invitation,--and in the entire round
he had never shown himself capable of much more than a flirtation with
the prettiest or the most pushing new beauty, or a daring ride on the
latest invention for travelling at lightning speed. She had noticed
a certain change in him since he had ascended the throne, but she had
attributed this to the excessive boredom of having to attend to State

Now, however, all at once and without warning, this change had developed
into what was evidently likely to prove a complete transformation--and
he had surprised her into an involuntary, and more or less reluctant
admiration of qualities which she had never hitherto suspected in
him. She had consented to join him on this occasion in his trip to
The Islands, in order to try and fathom the actual drift of his
intentions,--for his idea that their son, Prince Humphry, had yielded
to some particular feminine attraction there, piqued her curiosity even
more than her interest. She turned away now from her observation of the
shore, as it receded on the horizon and became a mere thin line of light
which vanished in its turn as the vessel curtsied onward; and she moved
to the place prepared for her accommodation--a sheltered corner of the
deck, covered by silken awnings, and supplied with luxurious deck chairs
and footstools. Here two of her ladies were waiting to attend upon her,
but none of the rougher sex she so heartily abhorred. As she seated
herself among her cushions with her usual indolent grace, she raised
her eyes and saw, standing at a respectful distance from her, a
distinguished personage who had but lately arrived at the Court, from
England,--Sir Walter Langton, a daring traveller and explorer in far
countries,--one who had earned high distinction at the point of the
sword. He had been presented to her some evenings since, among a crowd
of other notabilities, and she had, as was her usual custom with all
men, scarcely given him a passing glance. Now as she regarded him, she
suddenly decided, out of the merest whim, to call him to her side. She
sent one of her ladies to him, charged with her invitation to approach
and take his seat near her. He hastened to obey, with some surprise, and
no little pleasure. He was a handsome man of about forty, sun-browned
and keen of eye, with a grave intellectual face after the style of a
Vandyk portrait, and a kindly smile; and he was happily devoid of all
that unbecoming officiousness and obsequiousness which some persons
affect when in the presence of Royalty. He bowed profoundly as the Queen
received him, saying to him with a smile:--

“You are a stranger here, Sir Walter Langton!--I cannot allow you to
feel solitary in our company!”

“Is it possible for anyone to feel solitary when you are near, Madam?”
 returned Sir Walter gallantly, as he obeyed the gesture with which she
motioned him to be seated;--“You must be weary of hearing that even your
silent presence is sufficient to fill space with melody and charm! And
I am not altogether a stranger; I know this country well, though I have
never till now had the honour of visiting its ruling sovereign.”

“It is very unlike England,” said the Queen, slowly unfurling her fan of
soft white plumage and waving it to and fro.

“Very unlike, indeed!” he agreed, and a musing tenderness darkened his
fine hazel eyes as he gazed out on the sparkling sea.

“You like England best?” resumed the Queen.

“Madam, I am an Englishman! To me there is no land so fair, or so much
worth living and dying for, as England!”

“Yet--I suppose, like all your countrymen, you are fond of change?”

“Yes--and no, Madam!” replied Langton.--“In truth, if I am to speak
frankly, it is only during the last thirty or forty years that my
countrymen have blotted their historical scutcheons by this fondness for
change. Where travelling is necessary for the attainment of some worthy
object, then it is wise and excellent,--but where it is only for the
purpose of distracting a self-satiated mind, it is of no avail, and
indeed frequently does more harm than good.”

“Self-satiated!” repeated the Queen,--“Is not that a strange word?”

“It is the only compound expression I can use to describe the
discontented humour in which the upper classes of English society exist
to-day,” replied Sir Walter. “For many years the soul of England has
been held in chains by men whose thoughts are all of Self,--the honour
of England has been attainted by women whose lives are moulded from
first to last on Self. To me, personally, England is everything,--I have
no thought outside it--no wish beyond it. Yet I am as ashamed of some of
its leaders of opinion to-day, as if I saw my own mother dragged in the
dust and branded with infamy!”

“You speak of your Government?” began the Queen.

“No, Madam,--I have no more quarrel with my country’s present Government
than I could have with a child who is led into a ditch by its nurse. It
is a weak and corrupted Government; and its actual rulers are vile and
abandoned women.”

The Queen’s eyes opened in a beautiful, startled wonderment;--this man’s
clear, incisive manner of speech interested her.

“Women!” she echoed, then smiled; “You speak strongly, Sir Walter! I
have certainly heard of the ‘advanced’ women who push themselves so much
forward in your country, but I had no idea they were so mischievous! Are
they to be admired? Or pitied?”

“Pitied, Madam,--most sincerely pitied!” returned Sir Walter;--“But such
misguided simpletons as these are not the creatures who rule, or
play with, or poison the minds of the various members who compose
our Government. The ‘advanced’ women, poor souls, do nothing but talk
platitudes. They are perfectly harmless. They have no power to persuade
men, because in nine cases out of ten, they have neither wit nor beauty.
And without either of these two charms, Madam, it is difficult to put
even a clever cobbler, much less a Prime Minister, into leading strings!
No,--it is the spendthrift women of a corrupt society that I mean,--the
women who possess beauty, and are conscious of it,--the women who have
a mordant wit and use it for dangerous purposes--the women who give up
their homes, their husbands, their children and their reputations
for the sake of villainous intrigue, and the feverish excitement of
speculative money-making;--with these--and with the stealthy spread of
Romanism,--will come the ruin of my country!”

“So grave as all that!” said the Queen lightly;--“But, surely, Sir
Walter, if you see ruin and disaster threatening so great an Empire in
the far distance, you and other wise men of your land are able to stave
it off?”

“Madam, I have no power!” he returned bitterly. “Those who have thought
and worked,--those who are able to see what is coming by the light of
past experience, are seldom listened to, or if they get a hearing, they
are not seldom ridiculed and ‘laughed down.’ Till a strong man speaks,
we must all remain dumb. There is no real Government in England at
present, just as there is no real Church. The Government is made up
of directly self-interested speculators and financiers rather than
diplomatists,--the Church, for which our forefathers fought, is yielding
to the bribery of Rome. It is a time of Sham,--sham politics, and sham
religion! We have fallen upon evil days,--and unless the people rise, as
it is to be hoped to God they will, serious danger threatens the glory
and the honour of England!”

“Would you desire revolution and bloodshed, then?” enquired the Queen,
becoming more and more interested as she saw that this Englishman
did not, like most of his sex, pass the moments in gazing at her in
speechless admiration,--“Surely not!”

“I would have revolution, Madam, but not bloodshed,” he replied;--“I
think my countrymen are too well grounded in common-sense to care for
any movement which could bring about internal dissension or riot,--but,
at the same time, I believe their native sense of justice is great
enough to resist tyranny and wrong and falsehood, even to the death. I
would have a revolution--yes--but a silent and bloodless one!”

“And how would you begin?” asked the Queen.

“The People must begin, Madam!” he answered;--“All reforms must begin
and end with the People only! For example, if the People would decline
to attend any church where the incumbent is known to encourage practices
which are disloyal to the faith of the land, such disloyalty would soon
cease. If the majority of women would refuse to know, or to receive, any
woman of high position who had voluntarily disgraced herself, they
would soon put a stop to the lax morality of the upper classes. If our
builders, artisans and mechanics would club together, and refuse to make
guns or ships for our enemies in foreign countries, we should not run
the risk of being one day hoisted with our own petard. In any case, the
work of Revolution rests with the people, though it is quite true they
need teachers to show them how to begin.”

“And are these teachers forthcoming?”

“I think so!” said Sir Walter meditatively. “Throughout all history, as
far back as we can trace it, whenever a serious reform has been needed
in either society or government, there has always been found a leader to
head the movement.”

The Queen’s beautiful eyes rested upon him with a certain curiosity.

“What of your King?” she said.

“Madam, he is my King!” he replied,--“And I serve him faithfully!”

She was silent. She began to wonder whether he had any private motive
to gain, any place he sought to fill, that he should assume such a
touch-me-not air at this stray allusion to his Sovereign.

“Lèse-majesté is so common nowadays!” she mused;--“It is such an
ordinary thing to hear vulgar _parvenus_ talk of their king as if he
were a public-house companion of theirs, that it is somewhat remarkable
to find one who speaks of his monarch with loyalty and respect.
I suppose, however, like everyone else, he has his own ends to
serve!--Kings are the last persons in the world who can command absolute

She glanced dreamily over the sea, and perceiving a slight shade
of weariness on her face, Sir Walter discreetly rose, craving her
permission to retire to the saloon, where he had promised to join
the King. When he had left her, she turned to one of her ladies, the
Countess Amabil, and remarked:

“A very personable gentleman, is he not?”

“Madam,” rejoined the Countess, who was very lovely in herself, and of a
bright and sociable disposition;--“I have often thought it would be more
pleasant and profitable for all of us if we had many such personable
gentlemen with us oftener!”

A slight frown of annoyance crossed the Queen’s face. The Countess was
a very charming lady; very fascinating in her own way, but her decided
predilection for the sterner sex often led her to touch on dangerous
ground with her Royal mistress. This time, however, she escaped the
chilling retort her remark might possibly, on another occasion, have
called down upon her. The Queen said nothing. She sat watching the
sea,--and now and again took up her field-glass to study the picturesque
coast of The Islands, which was rapidly coming into view. Teresa de
Launay, the second lady in attendance on her, was reading, and, seeing
her quite absorbed in her book, the Queen presently asked her what it

“You have smiled twice over that book, Teresa,” she said kindly;--“What
is it about?”

“Madam, it speaks of love!” replied Teresa, still smiling.

“And love makes you smile?”

“I would rather smile than weep over it, Madam!” replied Teresa, with
a slight colour warming her fair face;--“But as concerns this book,
I smile, because it is full of such foolish verses,--as light and
sweet--and almost as cloying,--as French _fondants_!”

“Let me hear!” said the Queen; “Read me a few lines.”

“This one, called ‘A Canzonet’ is brief enough for your Majesty’s
immediate consideration,” replied Teresa;--“It is just such a thing as
a man might scribble in his note-book after a bout of champagne, when
he is in love for ten minutes! He would not mean a word of it,--but it
might sound pretty by moonlight!” Whereupon she read aloud:--

 My Lady is pleased to smile,
    And the world is glad and gay;
  My Lady is pleased to weep;--
    And it rains the livelong day!

  My Lady is pleased to hate,
    And I lose my life and my breath;
  My Lady is pleased to love,--
    And I am the master of Death!

  I know that my Lady is Love,
    By the magical light about her;
  I know that my Lady is Life,
    For I cannot live without her!

“And you do not think any man would truly mean as much love as this?”
 queried the Queen.

“Oh, Madam, you know he would not! If he had written such lines about
the joys of dining, or the flavour of an excellent cigar, they might
then indeed be taken as an expression of his truest and deepest feeling!
But his ‘Lady’! Bah! She is a mere myth,--a temporary peg to hang a
stray emotion on!”

She laughed, and her laughter rippled merrily on the air.

“I do not think the men who write so easily about love can ever truly
feel it,” she went on;--“Those who really love must surely be quite
unable to express themselves. This man who sings about his ‘Lady’ being
pleased to do this or do that, was probably trying to obtain the good
graces of some pretty housemaid or chorus girl!”

A slight contemptuous smile crossed the Queen’s face; from her
expression it was evident that she agreed in the main with the opinion
of her vivacious lady-in-waiting. Just at that moment the King and his
suite, with Sir Walter Langton and one or two other gentlemen, who
had been invited to join the party, came up from the saloon, and the
conversation became general.

“Have you seen Humphry at all to-day?” enquired the King aside of De
Launay. “I sent him an early message asking him to join us, and was told
he had gone out riding. Is that true?”

“I have not seen his Royal Highness since the morning, Sir,” replied
the equerry; “He then met me,--and Professor von Glauben also--in the
gardens. He gave me no hint as to whether he knew of your intention to
sail to The Islands this afternoon or not; he was reading, and with some
slight discussion on the subject of the book he was interested in, he
and the Professor strolled away together.”

“But where is Von Glauben?” pursued the King; “I sent for him likewise,
but he was absent.”

“I understood him to say that you had not commanded his attendance again
to-day, Sir,” replied Sir Roger;--“He told me he had already waited upon

“Certainly I did not command his attendance when I saw him the first
thing this morning,” replied the King; “I summoned him then merely to
satisfy his scruples concerning my health and safety, as he seemed
last night to have doubts of both!” He smiled, and his eyes twinkled
humourously. “Later on, I requested him to join us in this excursion,
but his servant said he had gone out, leaving no word as to when he
would return. An eccentricity! I suppose he must be humoured!”

Sir Roger was silent. The King looked at him narrowly, and saw that
there was something in his thoughts which he was not inclined to utter,
and with wise tact and discretion forbore to press any more questions
upon him. It was not a suitable time for cross-examination, even of the
most friendly kind; there were too many persons near at hand who might
be disposed to listen and to form conjectures; moreover the favouring
wind had so aided the Royal yacht in her swift course that The Islands
were now close at hand, and the harbour visible, the run across from the
mainland having been accomplished under the usual two hours.

The King scanned the coast through his glass with some interest.

“We shall obtain amusement from this unprepared trip,” he said,
addressing the friends who were gathered round him; “We have forbidden
any announcement of our visit here, and, therefore, we shall receive
no recognition, or welcome. We shall have to take the people as we find

“Let us hope they will prove themselves agreeable, Sir,” said one of the
suite, the Marquis Montala, a somewhat effeminate elegant-looking man,
with small delicate features and lazily amorous eyes,--“And that the
women of the place will not be too alarmingly hideous.”

“Women are always women.” said the King gaily; “And you, Montala, if you
cannot find a pretty one, will put up with an ugly one for the moment
rather than have none at all! But beauty exists everywhere, and I
daresay we shall find it in as good evidence here as in other parts of
the kingdom. Our land is famous for its lovely women,”--and turning to
Sir Walter Langton he added--“I think, Sir Walter, we can almost beat
your England in that one particular!”

“Some years ago, Sir, I should have accepted that challenge,” returned
Sir Walter, “And with the deepest respect for your Majesty, I should
have ventured to deny the assertion that any country in the world could
surpass England for the beauty of its women. But since the rage for
masculine sports and masculine manners has taken hold of English girls,
I am not at all disposed to defend them. They have, unhappily, lost all
the soft grace and modesty for which their grandmothers were renowned,
and one begins to remark that their very shapes are no longer feminine.
The beautiful full bosoms, admired by Gainsborough and Romney, are
replaced by an unbecoming flatness--the feet and hands are growing large
and awkward, instead of being well-shaped, white and delicate--the
skin is becoming coarse and rough of texture, and there is very little
complexion to boast of, if we except the artificial make-up of the women
of the town. Some few pretty and natural women remain in the heart of
the forest and the country, but the contamination is spreading, and
English women are no longer the models of womanhood for all the world.”

“Are you married, Sir Walter?” asked the King with a smile.

“To no woman, Sir! I have married England--I love her and work for her

“You find that love sufficient to fill your heart?”

“Perhaps,” returned Sir Walter musingly--“perhaps if I speak personally
and selfishly--no! But when I argue the point logically, I find
this--that if I had a wife she might probably occupy too much of my
time,--certes, if I had children, I should be working for them and their
future welfare;--as it is, I give all my life and all my work to my
country, and my King!”

“I hope you will meet with the reward you merit,” said the Queen gently;
“Kings are not always well served!”

“I seek no reward,” said Sir Walter simply; “The joy of work is always
its own guerdon.”

As he spoke the yacht ran into harbour, and with a loud warning cry the
sailors flung out the first rope to a man on the pier, who stood gazing
in open-mouthed wonder at their arrival. He seemed too stricken with
amazement to move, for he failed to seize the rope, whereat, with an
angry exclamation as the rope slipped back into the water, and the yacht
bumped against the pier, a sailor sprang to land, and as it was thrown
a second time, seized it and made it fast to the capstan. A few
more moments and the yacht was safely alongside, the native islander
remaining still motionless and staring. The captain of the Royal vessel
stepped on shore and spoke to him.

“Are there any men about here?”

The individual thus addressed shook his head in the negative.

“Are you alone to keep the pier?”

The head nodded in the affirmative. A voice, emanating from a thickly
bearded mouth was understood to growl forth something about ‘no strange
boats being permitted to harbour there.’ Whereupon the Captain walked up
to the uncouth-looking figure, and said briefly.

“We are here by the King’s order! That vessel is the Royal yacht, and
their Majesties are on board.”

For one instant the islander stared more wildly than ever, then with a
cry of amazement and evident alarm, ran away as fast as his legs could
carry him and disappeared. The captain returned to the yacht and related
his experience to Sir Roger de Launay. The King heard and was amused.

“It seems, Madam,” he said, turning to the Queen, “That we shall have
The Islands to ourselves; but as our visit will be but brief, we shall
no doubt find enough to interest us in the mere contemplation of the
scenery without other human company than our own. Will you come?”

He extended his hand courteously to assist her across the gangway of the
vessel, and in a few minutes the Royal party were landed, and the yacht
was left to the stewards and servants, who soon had all hands at work
preparing the dinner which was to be served during the return sail.



The King and Queen, followed by their suite and their guests, walked
leisurely off the pier, and down a well-made road, sparkling with
crushed sea-shells and powdered coral, towards a group of tall trees and
green grass which they perceived a little way ahead of them. There was
a soothing quietness everywhere,--save for the singing of birds and the
soft ripple of the waves on the sandy shore, it was a silent land:

    “In which it seemed always afternoon--
    All round the coast the languid air did swoon--
    Breathing like one that hath a weary dream.”

The Queen paused once or twice to look around her; she was vaguely
touched and charmed by the still beauty of the scene.

“It is very lovely!” she said, more to herself than to any of her
companions; “The world must have looked something like this in the first
days of creation,--so unspoilt and fresh and simple!”

The Countess Amabil, walking with Sir Walter Langton, glanced
coquettishly at her cavalier and smiled.

“It is idyllic!” she said;--“A sort of Arcadia without Corydon or
Phyllis! Do all the inhabitants go to sleep or disappear in the daytime,
I wonder?”

“Not all, I imagine,” replied Sir Walter; “For here comes one, though,
judging from the slowness of his walk, he is in no haste to welcome his

The personage he spoke of was indeed approaching, and all the members of
the Royal party watched his advance with considerable curiosity. He was
tall and upright in bearing, but as he came nearer he was seen to be a
man of great age, with a countenance on which sorrow and suffering had
left their indelible traces. There were furrows on that face which tears
had hollowed out for their swifter flowing, and the high intellectual
brow bore lines and wrinkles of anxiety and pain, which were the soul’s
pen-marks of a tragic history. He was attired in simple fisherman’s garb
of rough blue homespun, and when he was within a few paces of the King,
he raised his cap from his curly silver hair with an old-world grace and
deferential courtesy. Sir Roger de Launay went forward to meet him and
to explain the situation.

“His Majesty the King,” he said, “has wished to make a surprise visit to
his people of The Islands,--and he is here in person with the Queen. Can
you oblige him with an escort to the principal places of interest?”

The old man looked at him with a touch of amusement and derision.

“There are no places here of interest to a King,” he said; “Unless
a poor man’s house may serve for his curious comment! I am not his
Majesty’s subject--but I live under his protection and his laws,--and I
am willing to offer him a welcome, since there is no one else to do so!”

He spoke with a refined and cultured accent, and in his look and bearing
evinced the breeding of a gentleman.

“And your name?” asked Sir Roger courteously.

“My name is Réné Ronsard,” he replied. “I was shipwrecked on this coast
years ago. Finding myself cast here by the will of God, here I have

As he said this, Sir Roger remembered what he had casually heard at
times about the ‘life-philosopher’ who had built for himself a dwelling
on The Islands out of the timbers of wrecked vessels. This must surely
be the man! Delighted at having thus come upon the very person most
likely to provide some sort of diversion for their Majesties, and
requesting Ronsard to wait at a distance for a moment, he hastened back
to the King and explained the position. Whereupon the monarch at once
advanced with alacrity, and as he approached the venerable personage who
had offered him the only hospitality he was likely to receive in
this part of his realm, he extended his hand with a frank and
kindly cordiality. Réné Ronsard accepted it with a slight but not
over-obsequious salutation.

“We owe you our thanks,” said the King, “for receiving us thus readily,
and without notice; which is surely the truest form of hospitable
kindness! That we are strangers here is entirely our own fault, due to
our own neglect of our Island subjects; and it is for this that we have
sought to know something of the place privately, before visiting it with
such public ceremonial and state as it deserves. We shall be indebted to
you greatly if you will lend us your aid in this intention.”

“Your Majesty is welcome to my service in whatever way it can be of
use to you,” replied Ronsard slowly; “As you see, I am an old man and
poor--I have lived here for well-nigh thirty years, making as little
demand as possible upon the resources of either rough Nature or smooth
civilization to provide me with sustenance. There is poor attraction for
a king in such a simple home as mine!”

“More than all men living, a king has cause to love simplicity,”
 returned the monarch, as with his swift and keen glance he noted the old
man’s proud figure, fine worn features, and clear, though deeply-sunken
eyes;--“for the glittering shows of ceremony are chiefly irksome to
those who have to suffer their daily monotony. Let me present you to the
Queen--she will thank you as I do, for your kindly consent to play the
part of host to us to-day.”

“Nay,”--murmured Ronsard--“No thanks--no thanks!” Then, as the King
said a few words to his fair Consort, and she received the old man’s
respectful salutation in the cold, grave way which was her custom,
he raised his eyes to her face, and started back with an involuntary

“By Heaven!” he said suddenly and bluntly, “I never thought to see any
woman’s beauty that could compare with that of my Gloria!”

He spoke more to himself than to any listener, but the King hearing
his words, was immediately on the alert, and when the whole Royal party
moved on again, he, walking in a gracious and kindly way by the old
man’s side, and skilfully keeping up the conversation at first on mere
generalities, said presently:--

“And that name of Gloria;--may I ask you who it is that bears so strange
an appellation?”

Ronsard looked at him somewhat doubtingly.

“Your Majesty considers it strange? Had you ever seen her, you would
think it the only fitting name for her,” he answered,--“For she is
surely the most glorious thing God ever made!”

“Your wife--or daughter?” gently hinted the King.

The old man smiled bitterly.

“Sir, I have never owned wife or child! For aught I know Gloria may have
been born like the goddess Aphrodite, of the sunlight and the sea! No
other parents have ever claimed her.”

He checked himself, and appeared disposed to change the subject. The
King looked at him encouragingly.

“May I not hear more of her?” he asked.

Ronsard hesitated--then with a certain abruptness replied--

“Nay--I am sorry I spoke of her! There is nothing to tell. I have said
she is beautiful--and beauty is always stimulating--even to Kings! But
your Majesty will have no chance of seeing her, as she is absent from
home to-day.”

The King smiled;--had the rumours of his many gallantries reached The
Islands then?--and was this ‘life-philosopher’ afraid that ‘Gloria
‘--whoever she was--might succumb to his royal fascinations? The thought
was subtly flattering, but he disguised the touch of amusement he felt,
and spoke his next words with a kindly and indulgent air.

“Then, as I shall not see her, you may surely tell me of her? I am no
betrayer of confidence!”

A pale red tinged Ronsard’s worn features--anon he said:--

“It is no question of confidence, Sir,--and there is no secret or
mystery associated with the matter. Gloria was, like myself, cast up
from the sea. I found her half-drowned, a helpless infant tied to a
floating spar. It was on the other side of these Islands--among the
rocks where there is no landing-place. There is a little church on the
heights up there, and every evening the men and boys practise their
sacred singing. It was sunset, and I was wandering by myself upon the
shore, and in the church above me I heard them chant ‘Gloria! Gloria!
Gloria in excelsis Deo!’ And while they were yet practising this line
I came upon the child,--lying like a strange lily, in a salt
pool,--between two shafts of rock like fangs on either side of her,
bound fast with rope to a bit of ship’s timber. I untied her little
limbs, and restored her to life; and all the time I was busy bringing
her back to breath and motion, the singing in the church above me was
‘Gloria!’ and ever again ‘Gloria!’ So I gave her that name. That was
nineteen years ago. She is married now.”

“Married!” exclaimed the King, with a curious sense of mingled relief
and disappointment. “Then she has left you?”

“Oh, no, she has not left me!” replied Ronsard; “She stays with me till
her husband is ready to give her a home. He is very poor, and lives in
hope of better days. Meanwhile poverty so far smiles upon them that they
are happy;--and happiness, youth and beauty rarely go together. For once
they have all met in the joyous life of my Gloria!”

“I should like to see her!” said the King, musingly; “You have
interested me greatly in her history!”

The old man did not reply, but quickening his pace, moved on a little
in advance of the King and his suite, to open a gate in front of them,
which guarded the approach to a long low house with carved gables and
lattice windows, over which a wealth of roses and jasmine clambered in
long tresses of pink and white bloom. Smooth grass surrounded the place,
and tall pine trees towered in the background; and round the pillars
of the broad verandah, which extended to the full length of the house
front, clematis and honeysuckle twined in thick clusters, filling the
air with delicate perfume. The Royal party murmured their admiration of
this picturesque abode, while Ronsard, with a nimbleness remarkable
for a man of his age, set chairs on the verandah and lawn for his
distinguished guests. Sir Walter Langton and the Marquis Montala
strolled about the garden with some of the ladies, commenting on the
simple yet exquisite taste displayed in its planting and arrangement;
while the King and Queen listened with considerable interest to the
conversation of their venerable host. He was a man of evident culture,
and his description of the coral-fishing community, their habits and
traditions, was both graphic and picturesque.

“Are they all away to-day?” asked the King.

“All the men on this side of The Islands--yes, Sir,” replied Ronsard;
“And the women have enough to do inside their houses till their husbands
return. With the evening and the moonlight, they will all be out in
their fields and gardens, making merry with innocent dance and song,
for they are very happy folk--much happier than their neighbours on the

“Are you acquainted with the people of the mainland, then?” enquired the

“Sufficiently to know that they are dissatisfied;” returned Ronsard
quietly,--“And that, deep down among the tangled grass and flowers of
that brilliant pleasure-ground called Society, there is a fierce and
starving lion called the People, waiting for prey!”

His voice sank to a low and impressive tone, and for a moment his
hearers looked astonished and disconcerted. He went on as though he had
not seen the expression of their faces.

“Here in The Islands there was the same discontent when I first came.
Every man was in heart a Socialist,--every young boy was a budding
Anarchist. Wild ideas fired their brains. They sought Equality. No man
should be richer than another, they said. Equal lots,--equal lives. They
had their own secret Society, connected with another similar one across
the sea yonder. They were brave, clever and desperate,--moved by a
burning sense of wrong,--wrong which they had not the skill to explain,
but which they felt. It was difficult to persuade or soothe such men,
for they were men of Nature,--not of Shams. But fierce and obstinate
as they were, they were good to me when I was cast up for dead on their
seashore. And I, in turn, have tried to be good to them. That is, I have
tried to make them happy. For happiness is what we all work for and seek
for,--from the beginning to the end of life. We go far afield for it,
when it oftener lies at our very doors. Well!--they are a peaceful
community now, and have no evil intentions towards anyone. They grudge
no one his wealth--I think if the truth were known, they rather pity the
rich man than envy him. So, at any rate, I have taught them to do. But,
formerly, they were, to say the least of it, dangerous!”

The King heard in silence, although the slightest quizzical lifting of
his eyebrows appeared to imply that ‘dangerous’ was perhaps too strong a
term by which to designate a handful of Socialistic coral-fishers.

“It is curious,” went on Ronsard slowly, “how soon the sense of wrong
and injustice infects a whole community. One malcontent makes a host of
malcontents. This is a fact which many governments lose sight of. If I
were the ruler of a country--”

Here he suddenly paused--then added with a touch of brusqueness--

“Pardon me, Sir; I have never known the formalities which apply to
conversation with a king, and I am too old to learn now. No doubt I
speak too boldly! To me you are no more than man; you should be more by
etiquette--but by simple humanity you are not!”

The King smiled, well pleased. This independent commoner, with his rough
garb and rougher simplicity of speech, was a refreshing contrast to the
obsequious personages by whom he was generally surrounded; and he felt
an irresistible desire to know more of the life and surroundings of one
who had gained a position of evident authority among the people of his
own class.

“Go on, my friend!” he said. “Honest expression of thought can offend
none but knaves and fools; and though there are some who say I have a
smack of both, yet I flatter myself I am wholly neither of the twain!
Continue what you were saying--if you were ruler of a country, what
would you do?”

Réné Ronsard considered for a moment, and his furrowed brows set in a
puzzled line.

“I think,” he said slowly, at last, “I should choose my friends and
confidants among the leaders of the people.”

“And is not that precisely what we all do?” queried the King lightly;
“Surely every monarch must count his friends among the members of the

“But the Government does not represent the actual people, Sir!” said
Ronsard quietly.

“No? Then what does it represent?” enquired the King, becoming amused
and interested in the discussion, and holding up his hand to warn back
De Launay, and the other members of his suite who were just coming
towards him from their tour of inspection through the garden--“Every
member of the Government is elected by the people, and returned by the
popular vote. What else would you have?”

“Ministers have not always the popular vote,” said Ronsard; “They are
selected by the Premier. And if the Premier should happen to be shifty,
treacherous or self-interested, he chooses such men as are most likely
to serve his own ends. And it can hardly be said, Sir, that the People
truly return the members of Government. For when the time comes for one
such man to be elected, each candidate secures his own agent to bribe
the people, and to work upon them as though they were so much soft
dough, to be kneaded into a political loaf for his private and
particular eating. Poor People! Poor hard-working millions! In the main
they are all too busy earning the wherewithal to Live, to have any time
left to Think--they are the easy prey of the party agent, except--except
when they gather to the voice of a real leader, one who though not in
Government, governs!”

“And is there such an one?” enquired the King, while as he spoke his
glance fell suddenly, and with an unpleasant memory, on the flashing
blue of the sapphire in the Premier’s signet he wore; “Here, or

“Over there!” said Ronsard impressively, pointing across the landscape
seawards; “On the mainland there is not only one, but many! Women,--as
well as men. Writers,--as well as speakers. These are they whom Courts
neglect or ignore,--these are the consuming fire of thrones!” His old
eyes flashed, and as he turned them on the statuesque beauty of the
Queen, she started, for they seemed to pierce into the very recesses of
her soul. “When Court and Fashion played their pranks once upon a time
in France, there was a pen at work on the ‘_Contrat Social_’--the pen
of one Rousseau! Who among the idle pleasure-loving aristocrats
ever thought that a mere Book would have helped to send them to the
scaffold!” He clenched his hand almost unconsciously--then he spoke
more quietly. “That is what I mean, when I say that if I were ruler of
a country, I should take special care to make friends with the
people’s chosen thinkers. Someone in authority”--and here he smiled
quizzically--“should have given Rousseau an estate, and made him a
marquis--_in time_! The leaders of an advancing Thought,--and not
the leaders of a fixed Government are the real representatives of the

Something in this last sentence appeared to strike the King very

“You are a philosopher, Réné Ronsard,” he said rising from his chair,
and laying a hand kindly on his shoulder. “And so, in another way am
I! If I understand you rightly, you would maintain that in many cases
discontent and disorder are the fermentation in the mind of one man,
who for some hidden personal motive works his thought through a whole
kingdom; and you suggest that if that man once obtained what he wanted
there would be an end of trouble--at any rate for a time till the next
malcontent turned up! Is not that so?”

“It is so, Sir,” replied Ronsard; “and I think it has always been so.
In every era of strife and revolution, we shall find one dissatisfied
Soul--often a soul of genius and ambition--at the centre of the

“Probably you are right,” said the monarch indulgently; “But evidently
the dissatisfied soul is not in _your_ body! You are no Don Quixote
fighting a windmill of imaginary wrongs, are you?”

A dark red flush mounted to the old man’s brow, and as it passed away,
left him pale as death.

“Sir, I have fought against wrongs in my time; but they were not
imaginary. I might have still continued the combat but for Gloria!”

“Ah! She is your peace-offering to an unjust world?”

“No Sir; she is God’s gift to a broken heart,” replied Ronsard gently.
“The sea cast her up like a pearl into my life; and so for her sake
I resolved to live. For her only I made this little home--for her
I managed to gain some control over the rough inhabitants of these
Islands, and encouraged in them the spirit of peace, mirth and gladness.
I soothed their discontent, and tried to instil into them something of
the Greek love of beauty and pleasure. But after all, my work sprang
from a personal, I may as well say a selfish motive--merely to make the
child I loved, happy!”

“Then do you not regret that she is married, and no longer yours to
cherish entirely?”

“No, I regret nothing!” answered Ronsard; “For I am old and must soon
die. I shall leave her in good and safe hands.”

The King looked at him thoughtfully, and seemed about to ask another
question, then suddenly changing his mind, he turned to his Consort and
said a few words to her in a low tone, whereupon as if in obedience to
a command, she rose, and with all the gracious charm which she could
always exert if she so pleased, she enquired of Ronsard if he would
permit them to see something of the interior of his house.

“Madam,” replied Ronsard, with some embarrassment; “All I have is at
your service, but it is only a poor place.”

“No place is poor that has peace in it,” returned the Queen, with one
of those rare smiles of hers, which so swiftly subjugated the hearts of
men. “Will you lead the way?”

Thus persuaded, Réné Ronsard could only bow a respectful assent, and
obey the request, which from Royalty was tantamount to a command.
Signing to the other members of the party, who had stood till now at a
little distance, the Queen bade them all accompany her.

“The King will stay here till we return,” she said, “And Sir Roger will
stay with him!”

With these words, and a flashing glance at De Launay, she stepped across
the lawn, followed by her ladies-in-waiting, with Sir Walter Langton and
the other gentlemen; and in another moment the brilliant little group
had disappeared behind the trailing roses and clematis, which hung
in profusion from the oaken projections of the wide verandah round
Ronsard’s picturesque dwelling. Standing still for a moment, with Sir
Roger a pace behind him, the King watched them enter the house--then
quickly turning round on his heel, faced his equerry with a broad smile.

“Now, De Launay,” he said, “let us find Von Glauben!”

Sir Roger started with surprise, and not a little apprehension.

“Von Glauben, Sir?”

“Yes--Von Glauben! He is here! I saw his face two minutes ago, peering
through those trees!” And he pointed down a shadowy path, dark with the
intertwisted gloom of untrained pine-boughs. “I am not dreaming, nor am
I accustomed to imagine spectres! I am on the track of a mystery, Roger!
There is a beautiful girl here named Gloria. The beautiful girl is
married--possibly to a jealous husband, for she is apparently hidden
away from all likely admirers, including myself! Now suppose Von Glauben
is that husband!”

He broke off and laughed. Sir Roger de Launay laughed with him; the
idea was too irresistibly droll. But the King was bent on mischief, and
determined to lose no time in compassing it.

“Come along!” he said. “If this tangled path holds a secret, it shall
be discovered before we are many minutes older! I am confident I saw Von
Glauben; and what he can be doing here passes my comprehension!
Follow me, Roger! If our worthy Professor has a wife, and his wife is
beautiful, we will pardon him for keeping her existence a secret from us
so long!”

He laughed again; and turning into the path he had previously indicated,
began walking down it rapidly, Sir Roger following closely, and
revolving in his own perplexed mind the scene of the morning, when Von
Glauben had expressed such a strong desire to get away to The Islands,
and had admitted that there was “a lady in the case.”

“Really, it is most extraordinary!” he thought. “The King no sooner
decides to break through conventional forms, than all things seem
loosened from their moorings! A week ago, we were all apparently fixed
in our orbits of exact routine and work--the King most fixed of all--but
now, who can say what may happen next!”

At that moment the monarch turned round.

“This path seems interminable, Roger,” he said; “It gets darker, closer
and narrower. It thickens, in fact, like, the mystery we are probing!”

Sir Roger glanced about him. A straight band of trees hemmed them in
on either side, and the daylight filtered through their stems pallidly,
while, as the King had said, there seemed to be no end to the path they
were following. They walked on swiftly, however, exchanging no further
word, when suddenly an unexpected sound came sweeping up through the
heavy branches. It was the rush and roar of the sea,--a surging, natural
psalmody that filled the air, and quivered through the trees with the
measured beat of an almost human chorus.

“This must be another way to the shore,” said the King, coming to a
standstill; “And there must be rocks or caverns near. Hark how the waves
thunder and reverberate through some deep hollow!”

Sir Roger listened, and heard the boom of water rolling in and rolling
out again, with the regularity and rhythm of an organ swell, but he
caught an echo of something else besides, which piqued his curiosity
and provoked him to a touch of unusual excitement,--it was the sweet and
apparently quickly suppressed sound of a woman’s laughter. He glanced at
his Royal master, and saw at once that he, too, had sharp ears for that
silvery cadence of mirth, for his eyes flashed into a smile.

“On, Roger,” he said softly; “We are close on the heels of the problem!”

But they had only pressed forward a few steps when they were again
brought to a sudden pause. A voice, whose gruffly mellow accents were
familiar to both of them, was speaking within evidently close range, and
the King, with a warning look, motioned De Launay back a pace or two,
himself withdrawing a little into the shadow of the trees.

“Ach! Do not sing, my princess!” said the voice; “For if you open your
rosy mouth of music, all the birds of the air, and all the little fishes
of the sea will come to listen! And, who knows! Someone more dangerous
than either a bird or a fish may listen also!”

The King grasped De Launay by the arm.

“Was I not right?” he whispered. “There is no mistaking Von Glauben’s

Sir Roger looked, as he felt, utterly bewildered. In his own mind he
felt it very difficult to associate the Professor with a love affair.
Yet things certainly seemed pointing to some entanglement of the sort.
Suddenly the King held up an admonitory finger.

“Listen!” he said.

Another voice spoke, rich and clear, and sweet as honey.

“Why should I not sing?” and there was a thrill of merriment in the
delicious accents. “You are so afraid of everything to-day! Why? Why
should I stay here with nothing to do? Because you tell me the King
is visiting The Islands. What does that matter? What do I care for the
King? He is nothing to me!”

“You would be something, perhaps, to him if he saw you,” replied the
guttural voice of Von Glauben. “It is safer to be out of his way.
You are a very wilful princess this afternoon! You must remember your
husband is jealous!”

The King started.

“Her husband! What the devil does Von Glauben know about her husband!”

De Launay was dumb. A nameless fear and dismay began to possess him.

“My husband!” And the sweet voice laughed out again. “It would be
strange indeed for a poor sailor to be jealous of a king!”

“If the poor sailor had a beautiful wife he worshipped, and the King
should admire the wife, he might have cause to be jealous!” replied
Von Glauben; “And with some ladies, a poor sailor would stand no chance
against a king! Why are you so rebellious, my princess, to-day? Have I
not brought a letter from your beloved which plainly asks you to keep
out of the sight of the King? Have I not been an hour with you here,
reading the most beautiful poetry of Heine?”

“That is why I want to sing,” said the sweet voice, with a touch of
wilfulness in its tone. “Listen! I will give you a reading of Heine
in music!” And suddenly, rich and clear as a bell, a golden cadence of
notes rang out with the words:

  “Ah, Hast thou forgotten, That I possessed thy heart?”

The King sprang lightly out of his hiding-place, and with De Launay
moved on slowly and cautiously through the trees.

“Ach, mein Gott!” they heard Von Glauben exclaim--“That is a bird-call
which will float on wings to the ears of the King!”

A soft laugh rippled on the air.

“Dear friend and master, why are you so afraid?” asked the caressing
woman’s voice again;--“We are quite hidden away from the Royal
visitors,--and though you have been peeping at the King through the
trees, and though you know he is actually in our garden, he will never
find his way here! This is quite a secret little study and schoolroom,
where you have taught me so much!--yes--so much!--and I am very
grateful! And whenever you come to see me you teach me something
more--you are always good and kind!--and I would not anger you for the
world! But what is the good of knowing and feeling beautiful things, if
I may not express them?”

“You do express them,--in yourself,--in your own existence and
appearance!” said the Professor gruffly; “but that is a physiological
accident which I do not expect you to understand!”

There was a moment’s silence. Then came a slight movement, as of quick
feet clambering among loose pebbles, and the voice rang out again.

“There! Now I am in my rocky throne! Do you remember--Ah, no!--you know
nothing about it,--but I will tell you the story! It was here, in this
very place, that my husband first saw me!”

“Ach so!” murmured Von Glauben. “It is an excellent place to make a
first appearance! Eve herself could not have chosen more picturesque
surroundings to make a conquest of Adam!”

Apparently his mild sarcasm fell on unheeding ears.

“He was walking slowly all alone on the shore,” went on the voice,
dropping into a more plaintive and tender tone; “The sun had sunk,
and one little star was sparkling in the sky. He looked up at the

“Then he saw a woman’s eye,” interpolated Von Glauben; “Which is always
more attractive to weak man than an impossible-to-visit planet! What
does Shakespeare say of women’s eyes?

  ‘Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
  Having some business, do entreat her eyes
  To twinkle in their spheres till they return.
  What if her eyes were there, they in her head?
  The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars,
  As daylight doth a lamp; her eye in heaven
  Would through the airy regions stream so bright,
  That birds would sing and think it were not night!’”

“Ach! That is so!”

As the final words left his lips, a rich note of melody stirred the air,
and a song in which words and music seemed thoroughly welded together,
rose vibratingly up to the quiet sky:

        “Here by the sea,
        My Love found me!
  Seagulls over the waves were swinging;
  Mermaids down in their caves were singing,
  And one little star in the rosy sky
  Sparkled above like an angel’s eye!
        My Love found me,
        And I and he
    Plighted our troth eternally!
        Oh day of splendour,
        And self-surrender!
    The day when my Love found me!

        Here, by the sea,
        My King crown’d me!
  Wild ocean sang for my Coronation,
  With the jubilant voice of a mighty nation!--
  ‘Mid the towering rocks he set my throne,
  And made me forever and ever his own!
        My King crown’d me,
        And I and he
    Are one till the world shall cease to be!
        Oh sweet love story!
        Oh night of glory!
    The night when my King crown’d me!”

No language could ever describe the marvellous sweetness of the voice
that sung these lines; it was so full of exquisite triumph, tenderness
and passion, that it seemed more supernatural than human. When the song
ceased, a great wave dashed on the shore, like a closing organ chord,
and Von Glauben spoke.

“There! You wanted your own way, my princess, and you have had it! You
have sung like one of the seraphim;--do not be surprised if mortals are
drawn to listen. Sst! What is that?”

There was a pause. The King had inadvertently cracked a twig on one of
the pine-boughs he was holding back in an endeavour to see the speakers.
But he now boldly pushed on, beckoning De Launay to follow close, and in
another minute had emerged on a small sandy plateau, which led, by means
of an ascending path, to a rocky eminence, encircled by huge boulders
and rocky pinnacles, which somewhat resembled peaks of white coral,--and
here, on a height above him,--with the afternoon sun-glow bathing her
in its full mellow radiance, sat a visibly enthroned goddess of the
landscape,--a girl, or rather a perfect woman, more beautiful than
any he had ever seen, or even imagined. He stared up at her in dazzled
wonder, half blinded by the brightness of the sun and her almost equally
blinding loveliness.

“Gloria!” he exclaimed breathlessly, hardly conscious of his own
utterance; “You are Gloria!”

The fair vision rose, and came swiftly forward with an astonished look
in her bright deep eyes.

“Yes!” she said, “I am Gloria!”



Scarcely had she thus declared herself, when the Bismarckian head and
shoulders of Von Glauben appeared above the protecting boulders; and
moving with deliberate caution, the rest of his body came slowly after,
till he stood fully declared in an attitude of military ‘attention.’ He
showed neither alarm nor confusion at seeing the King; on the contrary,
the fixed, wooden expression of his countenance betokened some
deeply-seated mental obstinacy, and he faced his Royal master with the
utmost composure, lifting the slouched hat he wore with his usual stiff
and soldierly dignity, though carefully avoiding the amazed stare of his
friend, Sir Roger de Launay.

The King glanced him up and down with a smiling air of amused curiosity.

“So this is how you pursue your scientific studies, Professor!” he said
lightly; “Well!”--and he turned his eyes, full of admiration, on the
beautiful creature who stood silently confronting him with all that
perfect ease which expresses a well-balanced mind,--“Wisdom is often
symbolised to us as a marble goddess,--but when Pallas Athene takes so
fair a shape of flesh and blood as this, who shall blame even a veteran
philosopher for sitting at her feet in worship!”

“Pardon me, Sir,” returned Von Glauben calmly; “There is no goddess of
Wisdom here, so please you, but only a very simple and unworldly young
woman. She is--” Here he hesitated a moment, then went on--“She is
merely the adopted child of a fisherman living on these Islands.”

“I am aware of that!” said the King still smiling. “Réné Ronsard is his
name. He is my host to-day; and he has told me something of her. But,
certes, he did not mention that you had adopted her also!”

Von Glauben flushed vexedly.

“Sir,” he stammered, “I could explain--”

“Another time!” interrupted the King, with a touch of asperity.
“Meanwhile, present your--your pupil in the poesy of Heine,--to me!”

Thus commanded, the Professor, casting a vexed glance at De Launay,
who did not in the least comprehend his distress, went to the girl, who
during their brief conversation had stood quietly looking from one
to the other with an expression of half-amused disdain on her lovely

“Gloria,” he began reluctantly--then whispering in her ear, he
muttered--“I told you your voice would do mischief, and it has done it!”
 Then aloud--“Gloria,--this--this is the King!”

She smiled, but did not change her erect and easy attitude.

“The King is welcome!” she said simply.

She had evidently no intention of saluting the monarch; and Sir Roger
de Launay gazed at her in mingled surprise and admiration. She was
certainly wonderfully beautiful. Her complexion had the soft clear
transparency of a pink sea-shell--her eyes, large and lustrous, were as
densely blue as the dark azure in the depths of a wave,--and her hair,
of a warm bronze chestnut, caught back with a single band of red coral,
seemed to have gathered in its rich curling clusters all the deepest
tints of autumn leaves flecked with a golden touch of the sun. Her
figure, clad in a straight garment of rough white homespun, was the
model of perfect womanhood. She stood a little above the medium height,
her fair head poised proudly on regal shoulders, while the curve of the
full bosom would have baffled the sculptural genius of a Phidias. The
whole exquisite outline of her person was the expressed essence of
beauty, from the lightest wave of her hair, down to her slender ankles
and small feet; and the look that irradiated her noble features was that
of child-like happiness and repose,--the untired expression of one who
had never known any other life than the innocent enjoyment bestowed upon
her by God and divine Nature. Beautiful as his Queen-Consort was and
always had been, the King was forced to admit to himself that here was a
woman far more beautiful,--and as he looked upon her critically, he saw
that there was a light and splendour about her which only the happiness
of Love can give. Her whole aspect was as of one uplifted into a
finer atmosphere than that of earth,--she seemed to exhale purity from
herself, as a rose exhales perfume, and her undisturbed serenity and
dignity, when made aware of the Royal presence, were evidently not the
outcome of ill-breeding or discourtesy, but of mere self-respect and
independence. He approached her with a strange hesitation, which for him
was quite a new experience.

“I am glad I have been fortunate enough to meet you!” he said
gently;--“Some kindly fate guided my steps down the path which brought
me to this part of the shore, else I might have gone away without seeing

“That would have been no loss to your Majesty,” answered Gloria
calmly;--“For to see me, is of no use to anyone!”

“Would your husband say so?” hazarded the King with a smile.

Her eyes flashed.

“My husband would say what is right,” she replied. “He would know better
how to talk to you than I do!”

He had insensibly drawn nearer to her as he spoke; meanwhile Von
Glauben, with a disconsolate air, had joined Sir Roger de Launay, who,
by an enquiring look and anxious uplifting of his eyebrows, dumbly asked
what was to be the upshot of this affair,--only to receive a dismal
shake of the head in reply.

“Possibly I know your husband,” went on the King, anxious to continue
conversation with so beautiful a creature. “If I do, and he is in my
personal service, he shall not lack promotion! Will you tell me his

A startled look came into the girl’s eyes, and a deep blush swept over
her fair cheeks.

“I dare not!” she said;--“He has forbidden me!”

“Forbidden you!” The King recoiled a step--a vague suspicion rankled
in his mind. “Then, though your King asks you a friendly question, you
refuse to answer it?”

Von Glauben here gripped Sir Roger so fiercely by the arm, that the
latter nearly cried out with pain.

“She must not tell,” he muttered--“She must not--she will not!”

But Gloria was looking straight at her Royal questioner.

“I have no King but my husband!” she said firmly. “I have sworn before
God to obey him in all things, and I will not break my vow!”

“Good girl! Wise girl!” exclaimed Von Glauben. “Ach, if all the
beautiful women so guarded their tongues and obeyed their husbands, what
a happy world it would be!”

The King turned upon him.

“True! But you are not bound by the confidences of marriage,
Professor,--so that while in our service our will must be your law! You,
therefore, can perhaps tell me the name of the fortunate man who has
wedded this fair lady?”

The Professor’s countenance visibly reddened.

“Sir,” he stammered--“With every respect for your Majesty, I would
rather lose my much-to-be-appreciated post with you than betray my

The King suddenly lost patience.

“By Heaven!” he exclaimed, “Is my command to be slighted and set aside
as if it were naught? Not while I am king of this country! What mystery
is here that I am not to know?”

Gloria laughed outright, and the pretty ripple of mirth, so unforced and
natural, diverted the monarch’s irritation.

“Oh, you are angry!” she said, her lovely eyes twinkling and sparkling
like diamonds:--“So! Then your Majesty is no more than a very common man
who loses temper when he cannot have his own way!” She laughed again,
and the King stared at her unoffended,--being spellbound, both by her
regal beauty, and her complete indifference to himself. “I will speak
like the prophets do in the Bible and say, ‘Lo! there is no mystery,
O King!’ I am only poor Gloria, a sailor’s wife,--and the sailor has a
place on board your son the Crown Prince’s yacht, and he does not want
his master to know that he is married lest he lose that place! Is not
that plain and clear, O King? And why should I disobey my beloved in
such a simple matter?”

The King was still in something of a fume.

“There is no reason why you should disobey,” he said more quietly, but
still with vexation;--“But, equally, there is no reason why your husband
should be dismissed from the Crown Prince’s service, because he has
chosen to marry. If you tell me his name, I will make all things easy
for him, for you, and your future. Can you not trust me?”

With wonderful grace and quickness Gloria suddenly sprang forward,
caught the King’s hand, kissed it, and then threw it lightly away from

“No!” she said, with a pretty defiance; “I kiss the hand of the
country’s King--but I have my own King to serve!”

And pausing for no more words, she turned away, sprang lightly up the
rocks as swiftly as a roe-deer, and disappeared. And from some hidden
corner, clear and full and sweet, her voice rang out above the peaceful
plashing of the waves:

           “My King crown’d me!
            And I and he
  Are one till the world shall cease to be!”

Stricken dumb and confused by the suddenness of her action, and the
swiftness of her departure, the King stood for a moment inert, gazing
up the rocky height with the air of one who has seen a vision of heaven
withdrawn again into its native element. Some darkening doubt troubled
his mind, and it was with an altogether changed and stern countenance
that he confronted Von Glauben.

“Last night, Professor, you were somewhat anxious for our health and
safety,” he said severely; “It is our turn now to be equally anxious
for yours! We are of opinion that you, like ourselves, run some risk of
danger by meddling in affairs which do not concern you! Silence!”
 This, as the Professor, deeply moved by his Royal master’s evident
displeasure, made an attempt to speak. “We will hear all you have to say
to-morrow. Meanwhile--follow your fair charge!” And he pointed up in the
direction whither Gloria had vanished. “Her husband”--and he emphasized
the word,--“whoever he is, appears to have entrusted her safety to
you;--see that you do not betray his trust, even though you have
betrayed mine!”

At this remark Von Glauben was visibly overcome.

“Sir, you have never had reason to complain of any lack of loyalty in
me to you and to your service,” he said with an earnest dignity which
became him well;--“In the matter of the poor child yonder, whose
beauty would surely be a fatal snare to any man, there is much to be
told,--which if told truly, will prove that I am merely the slave of
circumstances which were not created by me,--and which it is possible
for a faithful servant of your Majesty to regret! But a betrayer of
trust I have never been, and I beseech your Majesty to believe me when I
say that the acuteness of that undeserved reproach cuts me to the heart!
I yield to no man in the respect and affection I entertain for your
Royal person, not even to De Launay here--who knows--who knows--”

He broke off, unable through strong emotion to proceed.

“‘Who knows’--What?” enquired the King, turning his steadfast eyes on
Sir Roger.

“Nothing, Sir! Absolutely nothing!” replied the equerry, opening his
eyes as widely as their habitual langour would permit; “I am absolutely
ignorant of everything concerning Von Glauben except that he is an
honest man! That I certainly do know!”

A slight smile cleared away something of the doubt and displeasure on
the King’s face. Approaching the disconsolate Professor, he laid one
hand on his shoulder and looked him steadily in the eyes.

“By my faith, Von Glauben, if I thought positively that you could play
me false in any matter, I would never believe a man again! Come! Forgive
my hasty speech, and do not look so downcast! Honest I have always
known you to be,--and that you will prove your honesty, I do not doubt!
But--there is something in this affair which awakens grave suspicion in
my mind. For to-day I press no questions--but to-morrow I must know
all! You understand? _All_! Say this to the girl, Gloria,--say it to her
husband also--as, of course, you know who her husband is. If he serves
on Prince Humphry’s yacht, that is enough to say that Humphry himself
has probably seen her. Under all the circumstances, I confess, my
dear Von Glauben, that your presence here is a riddle which needs

“It shall be explained, Sir--” murmured the Professor.

“Naturally! It must, of course be explained. But I hope you give me
credit for not being altogether a fool; and I have an idea that my son’s
frequent mysterious visits to The Islands have something to do with this
fair Gloria of Glorias!” Von Glauben started involuntarily. “You perhaps
think it too? Or know it? Well, if it is so, I can hardly blame him
overmuch,--though I am sorry he should have selected a poor sailor’s
wife as a subject for his secret amours! I should have thought him
possessed of more honour. However--to-morrow I shall look to you for a
full account of the matter. For the present, I excuse your attendance,
and permit you to remain with her whom you call ‘princess’!”

He stepped back, and, taking De Launay’s arm, turned round at once, and
walked away back to Ronsard’s house by the path he had followed with
such eagerness and care.

Von Glauben watched the two tall figures disappear, and then with a
troubled look, began to climb slowly up the rocks in the direction where
Gloria had gone. His reflections were not altogether as philosophical as
usual, because as he said to himself--“One can never tell how a woman is
going to meet misfortune! Sometimes she takes it well; and then the men
who have ruthlessly destroyed her happiness go on their way rejoicing;
but more often she takes it ill, and there is the devil to pay!
Yet--Gloria is not like any ordinary woman--she is a carefully selected
specimen of her sex, which a kindly Nature has produced as an example
of what women were intended to be when they were first created. I wonder
where she has hidden herself?”

Arriving at the summit of the ascent, he peered down towards the sea.
Slopes of rank grass and sea-daisies tufted the rocks on this side,
divided by certain deep hollows which the action of the waves had
honeycombed here and there; and below the grass was the shore, powdered
thickly with sand, of a fine, light, and sparkling colour, like gold
dust. Here in the full light of the sinking sun lay Gloria, her head
pillowed against a rough stone, on the top of which a tall cluster of
daisies, sometimes called moon-flowers, waved like white plumes.

“Gloria!” called Von Glauben.

She looked up, smiling.

“Has Majesty gone?” she asked.

“Gone for the present,” replied the Professor, beginning to put one
foot cautiously before the other down a roughly hewn stairway in the
otherwise almost inaccessible cliff. “But, like the sun which is setting
to-night, he will rise again to-morrow!”

“Shall I come and help you down?” enquired the girl, turning on her
elbow as she lay, and lifting her lovely face, radiant as a flower,
towards him.

“Whether down or up, you shall never help me, my princess!” he replied.
“When I can neither climb nor fall without the assistance of a woman’s
hand, I shall take a pistol and tell it to whisper in my ear--‘Good-bye,
Heinrich Von Glauben! You are all up--finish--gone!’”

Here, with a somewhat elephantine jump, he alighted beside her and threw
himself on the warm sand with a deep sigh of mingled exhaustion and

“You would be very wicked to put a pistol to your ear,” said Gloria
severely;--“It is only a coward who shoots himself!”

“Ach so! And it is a brave man who shoots others! That is curious, is it
not, princess? It is a little bit of man’s morality; but we have no time
to discuss it now. We have something more serious to consider,--your

She looked at him wonderingly.

“My husband? Do you really think he will be very angry that the King saw

The Professor appeared to be considering the question; but in reality he
was studying the exquisite delicacy of the face turned so wistfully
upon him, and the lovely lines of the slim throat and rounded chin--“So
beautiful a creature”--he was saying within himself--“And must she also
suffer pain and disillusion like all the rest of her unfortunate sex!”
 Aloud he replied.

“My princess, it is not for me to say he will be ‘angry,’--for how could
he be angry with the one he loves to such adoration! He will be sorry
and troubled--it will put him into a great difficulty! Ach!--a whole
nest of difficulties!”

“Why?” And Gloria’s eyes filled with sudden tears. “I would not grieve
him for the world! I cannot understand why it should matter at all, even
if the King does find out that he is married. Are the rules so strict
for all the men who serve on board the Royal vessels?”

Von Glauben bit his lips to hide an involuntary smile. But he answered
her with quite a martinet air.

“Yes, they are strict--very strict! Particularly so in the case of your
husband. You see, my child--you do not perhaps quite understand--but he
is a sort of superior officer on board; and in close personal attendance
on the Crown Prince.”

“He did not tell me that!” said the girl a little anxiously; “Yet
surely it would not matter if he loses one place; can he not easily get

Von Glauben was looking at her with a grave, almost melancholy

“Listen, my princess,--listen to your poor old friend, who means you
so much good, and no harm at all! Your husband--and I too, for that
matter,--wished much to prevent the King from seeing you--for--for many
reasons. When I heard he was coming to The Islands, I resolved to arrive
here before him, and so I did. I said nothing to Ronsard, not even to
warn him of the King’s impending visit. I took you just quietly, as I
have often done, for a walk, with a book to read and to explain to you,
because you tell me you want to study; though in my opinion you know
quite enough--for a woman. I gave you a letter from your husband, and
you know he asked you in that letter to avoid all possibility of meeting
with the King. Good! Well, now, what happens? You sing--and lo! his
Majesty, like a fish on a hook, is drawn up open-mouthed to your feet!
Now, who is to blame? You or I?”

A little perplexed line appeared on the girl’s fair brows. “I am, I
suppose!” she said somewhat plaintively,--“But yet, even now, I do
not understand. What is the King? He is nothing! He does nothing for
anybody! People make petitions to him, and he never answers them--they
try to point out errors and abuses, and he takes no trouble to remedy
them--he is no better than a wooden idol! He is not a real man, though
he looks like one.”

“Oh, you think he looks like one?” murmured Von Glauben; “That is to say
you are not altogether displeased with his appearance?”

Gloria’s eyes darkened a moment with thought,--then flashed with

“No,” she said frankly--“He is more kingly than I thought a king could
be. But he should not lose temper. That spoils all dignity!”

Von Glauben smiled.

“Kings are but mortal,” he said, “and never to lose temper would be
impossible to any man.”

“It is such a waste of time!” declared Gloria--“Why should anyone lose
self-control? It is like giving up a sword to an enemy.”

“That is one of Réné Ronsard’s teachings,”--said the Professor--“It is
excellent in theory! But in practice I have seen Réné give way to temper
himself, with considerable enjoyment of his own mental thunderstorm. As
for the King, he is generally a very equable personage; and he has one
great virtue--that is courage. He is brave as a lion--perhaps braver
than many lions!”

She raised her eyes enquiringly.

“Has he proved it?”

Rather taken aback by the question, he stared at her solemnly.

“Proved it? Well! He has had no chance. The country has been at peace
for many years--but if there should ever be a war----”

“Would he go and fight for the country?” enquired Gloria.

“In person? No. He would not be allowed to do that. His life would be

“Of course!” interrupted the girl with a touch of contempt; “But if he
would allow himself to be ruled by others in such a matter, I do not
call him brave!”

The Professor drew out his spectacles, and fixing them on his nose with
much care, regarded her through them with bland and kindly interest.

“Very simple and primitive reasoning, my princess!” he said; “And from
an early historic point of view, your idea is correct. In the olden
times kings went themselves to battle, and led their soldiers on to
victory in person. It was very fine; much finer than our modern ways
of warfare. But it has perhaps never occurred to you that a king’s
life nowadays is always in danger? He can do nothing more completely
courageous than to show himself in public!”

“Are kings then so hated?” she asked.

“They are not loved, it must be confessed,” returned Von Glauben, taking
off his spectacles again; “But that is quite their own fault. They
seldom do anything to deserve the respect,--much less the affection of
their subjects. But this king--this man you have just seen--certainly
deserves both.”

“Why, what has he done?” asked Gloria wonderingly. “I have heard people
say he is very wicked--that he takes other men’s wives away from them--”

The Professor coughed discreetly.

“My princess, let me suggest to you that he could scarcely take other
men’s wives away from them, unless those wives were perfectly willing to

She gave an impatient gesture.

“Oh, there are weak women, no doubt; but then a king should know better
than to put temptation in their way. If a man undertakes to be strong,
he should also be honourable. Then,--what of the taxes the King imposes
on the people? The sufferings of the poor over there on the mainland are
terrible!--I know all about them! I have heard Sergius Thord!”

The Professor gave an uncomfortable start.

“You have heard Sergius Thord? Where?”

“Here!” And Gloria smiled at his expression of wonderment. “He has
spoken often to our people, and he is father Réné’s friend.”

“And what does he talk about when he speaks here?” enquired Von Glauben.
“When does he come, and how does he go?”

“Always at night,” answered Gloria; “He has a sailing skiff of his own,
and on many an evening when the wind sets in our quarter, he arrives
quite suddenly, all alone, and in a moment, as if by magic, the
Islanders all seem to know he is here. On the shore, or in the fields he
assembles them round him, and tells them many things that are plain and
true. I have heard him speak often of the shortness of life and its many
sorrows, and he says we could all make each other happy for the little
time we have to live, if we would. And I think he is right; it is only
wicked and selfish people who make others unhappy!”

The Professor was silent. Gloria, watching him, wondered at his somewhat
perturbed expression.

“Do you know the King very well?” she asked suddenly. “He seemed very
cross with you!”

Von Glauben roused himself from a fit of momentary abstraction.

“Yes,--he was cross!” he rejoined. “I, like your husband, am in his
service--and I ought to have been on duty to-day. It will be all right,
however--all right! But--” He paused for a moment, then went on--“You
say that only wicked and selfish people make others unhappy. Now suppose
your husband were wicked and selfish enough to make _you_ unhappy; what
would you say?”

A sweet smile shone in her eyes.

“He could not make me unhappy!” she said. “He would not try! He loves
me, and he will always love me!”

“But, suppose,” persisted the Professor--“Just for the sake of
argument--suppose he had deceived you?”

With a low cry she sprang up.

“Impossible!” she exclaimed; “He is truth itself! He could not deceive

“Come and sit down again,” said Von Glauben tranquilly; “It is
disturbing to my mind to see you standing there pronouncing your faith
in the integrity of man! No male creature deserves such implicit trust,
and whenever a woman gives it, she invariably finds out her mistake!”

But Gloria stood still, The rich colour had faded from her cheeks--her
eyes were dilated with alarm, and her breath came and went quickly.

“You must explain,” she said hurriedly; “You must tell me what you
mean by suggesting such a wicked thought to me as that my husband could
deceive me! It is not right or kind of you,--it is cruel!”

The Professor scrambled up hastily out of his sandy nook, and
approaching her, took her hand very gently and respectfully in his own
and kissed it.

“My dear--my princess--I was wrong! Forgive me!” he murmured, and
there was a little tremor in his voice; “But can you not understand the
possibility of a man loving a woman very much, and yet deceiving her for
her good?”

“It could never be for her good,” said Gloria firmly; “It would not be
for mine! No lie ever lasts!”

Von Glauben looked at her with a sense of reverence and something like
awe. The after-glow of the sinking sun was burning low down upon the
sea, and turning it to fiery crimson, and as she stood bathed in its
splendour, the white rocks towering above her, and the golden sands
sparkling at her feet, she appeared like some newly descended angel
expressing the very truth of Heaven itself in her own presence on earth.
As they stood thus, the sudden boom of a single cannon echoed clear
across the waves.

“There goes the King!” said Von Glauben; “Majesty departs for the
present, having so far satisfied his curiosity! That gun is the signal.
Child!”--and turning towards her again, he took both her hands in his,
and spoke with emphatic gravity and kindness--“Remember that I am your
friend always! Whatever chances to you, do not forget that you may
command my service and devotion till death! In this strange life, we
never know from day to day what may happen to us, for constant change is
the law of Nature and the universe,--but after all, there is something
in the soul of a true man which does not change with the elements,--and
that is--loyalty to a sworn faith! In my heart, I have sworn an oath of
fealty to you, my beautiful little princess of the sea!--and it is a vow
that shall never be broken! Do you understand? And will you remember?”

Her large dark blue eyes looked trustingly into his.

“Indeed, I will never forget!” she said, with a touch of wistfulness in
her accents; “But I do not know why you should be anxious for me--there
is nothing to fear for my happiness. I have all the love I care for in
the world!”

“And long may you keep it!” said the Professor earnestly; “Come! It will
soon be time for me to leave you, and I must see Réné before I go. If
you follow my advice, you will say nothing to him of having met the
King--not for the present, at any rate.”

She agreed to this, though with some little hesitation,--then they
ascended the cliff, and walking by way of the pine-wood through which
the King had come, arrived at Ronsard’s house, to find the old man quite
alone, and peacefully engaged in tying up the roses and jessamine on
the pillars of his verandah. His worn face lighted up with animation and
tenderness as Gloria approached him and threw her arms around his neck,
and to her he related the incident of the King and Queen’s unexpected
visit, as a sort of accidental, uninteresting, and wholly unimportant
occurrence. The Queen, he said, was very beautiful; but too cold in her
manner, though she had certainly taken much interest in seeing the house
and garden.

“It was just as well you were absent, child,” he added--“Royalty brings
an atmosphere with it which is not wholesome. A king never knows what it
is to be an honest man!”

“Those are your old, discarded theories, Ronsard!” said Von Glauben,
shaking his head;--“You said you would never return to them!”

“Aye!” rejoined Ronsard;--“I have tried to put away all my old thoughts
and dreams for her sake”--and his gaze rested lovingly on Gloria as,
standing on tiptoe to reach a down-drooping rose, she gathered it and
fastened it in her bosom. “There should only be peace and contentment
where _she_ dwells! But sometimes my life’s long rebellion against sham
and injustice stirs in my blood, and I long to pull down the ignorant
people’s idols of wood and straw, and set up men in place of dummies!”

“A Mumbo-Jumbo of some kind has always been necessary in the world, my
friend,” said the Professor calmly; “Either in the shape of a deity or
a king. A wood and straw Nonentity is better than an incarnated fleshly
Selfishness. Will you give me supper before I leave?”

Ronsard smiled a cheery assent, and Gloria preceding them, and singing
in a low tone to herself as she went, they all entered the house

Meanwhile, the Royal yacht was scudding back to the mainland over crisp
waters on the wings of a soft breeze, with a bright moon flying through
fleecy clouds above, and silvering the foam-crests of the waves
below. There was music on board,--the King and Queen dined with their
guests,--and laughter and gay converse intermingled with the sound
of song. They talked of their day’s experience--of the beauty of The
Islands--of Ronsard,--his quaint house and quainter self,--so different
to the persons with whom they associated in their own exclusive
and brilliant Court ‘set,’ and the pretty Countess Amabil flirting
harmlessly with Sir Walter Langton, suggested that a ‘Flower Feast’ or
Carnival should be held during the summer, for the surprise and benefit
of the Islanders, who had never yet seen a Royal pageant of pleasure on
their shores.

But Sir Roger de Launay, ever watching the Queen, saw that she was very
pale, and more silent even than was her usual habit, and that her eyes
every now and again rested on the King, with something of wonder, as
well as fear.



In one of the ultra-fashionable quarters of the brilliant and
overcrowded metropolis which formed the nucleus and centre of everything
notable or progressive in the King’s dominions, there stood a large and
aggressively-handsome house, over-decorated both outside and in, and
implying in its general appearance vulgarity, no less than wealth. These
two things go together very much nowadays; in fact one scarcely ever
sees them apart. The fair, southern city of the sea was not behind other
modern cities in luxury and self-aggrandisement, and there were certain
members of the population who made it their business to show all they
were worth in their domestic and home surroundings. One of the most
flagrant money-exhibitors of this kind was a certain Jew named David
Jost. Jost was the sole proprietor of the most influential newspaper
in the kingdom, and the largest shareholder in three other newspaper
companies, all apparently differing in party views, but all in reality
working into the same hands, and for the same ends. Jost and his
companies virtually governed the Press; and what was euphoniously termed
‘public opinion’ was the opinion of Jost. Should anything by chance
happen to get into his own special journal, or into any of the other
journals connected with Jost, which Jost did not approve of, or which
might be damaging to Jost’s social or financial interests, the editor
in charge was severely censured; if the fault occurred again he was
promptly dismissed. ‘Public opinion’ had to be formed on Jost’s humour;
otherwise it was no opinion at all. A few other newspapers led a
precarious existence in offering a daily feeble opposition to Jost; but
they had not cash enough to carry on the quarrel. Jost secured all the
advertisers, and as a natural consequence of this, could well afford
to be the ‘voice of the people’ ad libitum. He was immensely wealthy,
openly vicious, and utterly unscrupulous; and made brilliant speculative
‘deals’ in the unsuspecting natures of those who were led, by that bland
and cheery demeanour which is generally associated with a large paunch,
to consider him a ‘good fellow’ with his ‘heart in the right place.’
With regard to this last assertion, it may be doubted whether he had a
heart at all, in any place, right or wrong. He was certainly not given
to sentiment. He had married for money, and his wife had died in a
mad-house. He was now anxious to marry again for position; and
while looking round the market for a sufficiently perfect person of
high-breeding, he patronized the theatre largely, and ‘protected’
several ballet-girls and actresses. Everyone knew that his life was
black with villainy and intrigue of the most shameless kind, yet
everyone swore that he was a good man. Such is the value of a limitless

It was very late in the evening of the day following that on which the
King had paid his unexpected visit to The Islands,--and David Jost had
just returned from a comic opera-house, where he had supped in private
with two or three painted heroines of the footlights. He was in an
excellent humour with himself. He had sprung a mine on the public; and
a carefully-concocted rumour of war with a foreign power had sent up
certain stocks and shares in which he had considerable interest. He
smiled, as he thought of the general uneasiness he was creating by a
few headlines in his newspaper; and he enjoyed to the full the tranquil
sense of having flung a bone of discord between two nations, in order to
watch them from his arm-chair fighting like dogs for it tooth and claw,
till one or the other gave in.

“Lutera will have to thank me for this,” he said to himself; “And he
will owe me both a place and a title!”

He sat down at his desk in his warm and luxuriously-furnished
study,--turned over a few letters, and then glanced up at the clock. Its
hands pointed to within a few minutes of midnight. Taking up a copy of
his own newspaper, he frowned slightly, as he saw that a certain leading
article in favour of the Jesuit settlement in the country had not

“Crowded out, I suppose, for want of space,” he said; “I must see that
it goes in to-morrow. These Jesuits know a thing or two; and they are
not going to plank down a thousand pounds for nothing. They have paid
for their advertisement, and they must have it. They ought to have had
it to-day. Lutera must warn the King that it will not do to offend the
Church. There’s a lot of loose cash lying idle in the Vatican,--we may
as well have some of it! His Majesty has acted most unwisely in refusing
to grant the religious Orders the land they want. He must be persuaded
to yield it to them by degrees,--in exchange of course for plenty of
cash down, without loss of dignity!”

At that moment the door-bell rang softly, as if it were pulled with
extreme caution. A servant answered it, and at once came to his master’s

“A gentleman to see you, sir, on business,” he said.

Jost looked up.

“On business? At this time of night? Say I cannot see him--tell him to
come again to-morrow!”

The servant withdrew, only to return again with a more urgent statement.

“The gentleman says he must see you, sir; he comes from the Premier.”

“From the Premier?”

“Yes, sir; his business is urgent, he says, and private. He sent in his
card, sir.”

Here he handed over the card in question, a small, unobtrusive bit of
pasteboard, laid in solitary grandeur on a very large silver salver.

David Jost took it up, and scanned it with some curiosity. “‘Pasquin
Leroy’! H’m! Don’t know the name at all. ‘Urgent business; bear
private credentials from the Marquis de Lutera’!” He paused again,
considering,--then turned to the waiting attendant. “Show him in.”.

“Yes, sir!”

Another moment and Pasquin Leroy entered,--but it was an altogether
different Pasquin Leroy to the one that had recently enrolled himself
as an associate of Sergius Thord’s Revolutionary Committee. _That_
particular Pasquin had seemed somewhat of a dreamer and a visionary,
with a peculiar and striking resemblance to the King; _this_ Pasquin
Leroy had all the alertness and sharpness common to a practised
journalist, press-reporter or commercial traveller. Moreover, his
countenance, adorned with a black mustache, and small pointed beard,
wore a cold and concentrated air of business--and he confronted the Jew
millionaire without the slightest embarrassment or apology for having
broken in upon his seclusion at so unseasonable an hour. He used a
pince-nez, and was constantly putting it to his eyes, as though troubled
with short-sightedness.

“I presume your matter cannot wait, sir,” said Jost, surveying him
coolly, without rising from his seat,--“but if it can--”

“It cannot!” returned Leroy, bluntly.

Jost stared.

“So! You come from the Marquis de Lutera?”

“I do.”

“Your credentials?”

Leroy stepped close up to him, and with a sudden movement, which was
somewhat startling, held up his right hand.

“This signet is, I believe, familiar to you,--and it will be enough to
prove that I come on confidential business which cannot be trusted to

Jost gazed at the flashing sapphire on the stranger’s hand with a sense
of deadly apprehension. He recognised the Premier’s ring well enough;
and he also knew that it would never have been sent to him in this
mysterious way unless the matter in question was almost too desperate
for whispering within four walls. An uneasy sensation affected him;
he pulled at his collar, looked round the room as though in search of
inspiration, and then finally bringing his small, swine-like eyes to
bear on the neat soldierly figure before him, he said with a careless

“You probably bring news for the Press affecting the present policy?”

“That remains to be seen!” replied Leroy imperturbably; “From a
perfectly impartial standpoint, I should imagine that the present policy
may have to alter considerably!”

Jost recoiled.

“Impossible! It cannot be altered!” he said roughly,--then suddenly
recollecting himself, he assumed his usual indolent equanimity, and
rising slowly, went to a side door in the room and threw it open.

“Step in here,” he said; “We can talk without fear of interruption. Will
you smoke?”

“With pleasure!” replied Leroy, accepting a cigar from the case Jost
extended--then glancing with a slight smile at the broad, squat Jewish
countenance which had, in the last couple of minutes, lost something of
its habitual redness, he added--“I am glad you are disposed to discuss
matters with me in a friendly, as well as in a confidential way. It is
possible my news may not be altogether agreeable to you;--but of course
you would be more willing to suffer personally, than to jeopardise the
honour of Ministers.”

He uttered the last sentence more as a question than a statement.

Jost shifted one foot against the other uneasily.

“I am not so sure of that,” he said after a pause, during which he had
drawn himself up, and had endeavoured to look conscientious; “You see I
have the public to consider! Ministers may fall; statesmen may be thrown
out of office; but the Press is the same yesterday, to-day, and for

“Except when a great Editor changes his opinions,” said Leroy
tranquilly,--“Which is, of course, always a point of reason
and conscience, as well as of--advantage! In the present case I
think--but--shall we not enter the sanctum of which you have so
obligingly opened the door? We can scarcely be too private when the
King’s name is in question!”

Jost opened his furtive eyes in amazement.

“The King? What the devil has he to do with anything but his women and
his amusements?”

A very close observer might have seen a curious expression flicker over
Pasquin Leroy’s face at these words,--an expression half of laughter,
half of scorn,--but it was slight and evanescent, and his reply was
frigidly courteous.

“I really cannot inform you; but I am afraid his Majesty is departing
somewhat from his customary routine! He is, in fact, taking an active,
instead of a passive part in national affairs.”

“Then he must be warned off the ground!” said Jost irritably; “He is a
Constitutional monarch, and must obey the laws of the Constitution.”

“Precisely!” And Leroy looked carefully at the end of his cigar; “But at
present he appears to have an idea that the laws of the Constitution are
being tampered with by certain other kings;--for example,--the kings of

Jost muttered a half-inaudible oath.

“Come this way,” he said impatiently;--“Bad news is best soon over!”

Leroy gave a careless nod of acquiescence,--then glancing round the
room, up at the clock, and down again to Jost’s desk, strewn with
letters and documents of every description, he smiled a little to
himself, and followed the all-powerful editor into the smaller adjoining
apartment. The door closed behind them both, and Jost turned the key in
the lock from within.

For a long time all was very silent. Jost’s valet and confidential
servant, sleepy and tired, waited in the hall to let his master’s
visitor out,--and hearing no sound, ventured to look into the study now
and then,--but to no purpose. He knew the sanctity of that inner chamber
beyond; he knew that when the Premier came to see the great Jost,--as
he often did,--it was in that mysterious further room that business was
transacted, and that it was as much as his place was worth to venture
even to knock at the door. So, yawning heavily, he dozed on his bench
in the hall,--woke with a start and dozed again,--while the clock slowly
ticked away the minutes till with a dull clang the hour struck One. Then
on again went the steady and wearisome tick-tick of the pendulum, for a
quarter of an hour, half an hour,--and three-quarters,--till the
utterly fatigued valet was about to knock down a few walking-sticks and
umbrellas, and make a general noise of reminder to his master as to how
the time was going, when, to his great relief, he heard the inner door
open at last, and the voice of the mysterious visitor ring out in clear,
precise accents.

“Nothing will be done publicly, of course,--unless Parliament insists on
an enquiry!” The speaker came towards the hall, and the valet sprang up
from his bench, and stood ready to show the stranger out.

Jost replied, and his accents were thick and unsteady.

“Enquiry cannot be forced! The Marquis himself can burk any such

“But--if the King should insist?”

“He would be breaking all the rules of custom and precedent,” said
Jost,--“And he would deserve to be dethroned!”

Pasquin Leroy laughed.

“True! Good-night, Mr. Jost! Can I do anything for you in Moscow?” The
two men now came into the full light shed by the great lamp in the hall.
Jost looked darkly red in the face--almost apoplectic; Leroy was as
cool, imperturbable and easy of manner as a practised detective or
professional spy.

“In Moscow,” Jost repeated--“You are going straight to Russia?”

“I think so.”

“I suppose you are in the secret service?”

“Exactly! A curious line of business, too, which the outside world knows
very little of. Ah!--if the excellent people--the masses as we
call them--knew what rogues had the ruling of their affairs in some
countries--not in this country, of course!” he added with a quizzical
smile,--“but in some others, not very far away, I wonder how many
revolutions would break out within six months! Good-night, Mr. Jost!”

“Good-night!” responded Jost briefly. “You will let me know any further

“Most assuredly!”

The servant opened the door, and Pasquin Leroy slipped a gold coin worth
a sovereign into his hand, whereupon, of course, the worthy domestic
considered him to be a ‘real gentleman.’ As soon as he had passed into
the street, and the door was shut and barred for the night, Jost bade
his man go to bed, a command which was gladly obeyed; and re-entering
his study, passed all the time till the breaking of dawn in
rummaging out letters and documents from various desks, drawers and
despatch-boxes, and burning them carefully one by one in the open grate.
While thus employed, he had a truly villainous aspect,--each flame he
kindled with each paper seemed to show up a more unpleasing expression
on his countenance, till at last,--when such matter was destroyed as he
had at present determined on,--he drew himself up and stood for a moment
surveying the pile of light black ashes, which was all that was left of
about a hundred or more incriminating paper witnesses to certain matters
in which he had more than a lawful interest.

“It will be difficult now to trace my hand in the scheme!” he said
to himself, frowning heavily, as he considered various uncomfortable
contingencies arising out of his conversation with his late visitor.
“If the thunderbolt falls, it will crush Carl Pérousse--not me. Yes! It
means ruin for him--ruin and disgrace--but for me--well! I shall find
it as easy to damn Pérousse as it has been to support him, for he cannot
involve me without adding tenfold to his own disaster! I think it will
be safe enough for me--possibly not so safe for the Premier. However,
I will write to him to-morrow, just to let him know I received his

In the meantime, while David Jost was thus cogitating unpleasant and
even dangerous possibilities, which were perhaps on the eve of occurring
to himself and certain of his associates in politics and journalism,
Pasquin Leroy was hurrying along the city streets under the light of
a clear, though pallid and waning moon. Few wanderers were abroad;
the police walked their various rounds, and one or two miserable women
passed him, like flying ghosts in the thin air of night. His mind was
in a turmoil of agitation; and the thoughts that were tossing rapidly
through his brain one upon the other, were such as he had never known
before. He had fathomed a depth of rascality and deception, which but a
short month ago, he could scarcely have believed capable of existence.
The cruel injury and loss preparing for thousands of innocent
persons through the self-interested plotting of a few men, was almost
incalculable,--and his blood burned with passionate indignation as he
realized on what a verge of misery, bloodshed, disaster and crime the
unthinking people of the country stood, pushed to the very edge of a
fall by the shameless and unscrupulous designs of a few financiers,
playing their gambling game with the public confidence,--and cheating
nations as callously as they would have cheated their partners at cards.

“Thank God, it is not too late!” he murmured; “Not quite too late to
save the situation!--to rescue the people from long years of undeserved
taxation, loss of trade and general distress! It is a supreme task that
has been given me to accomplish!--but if there is any truth and right
in the laws of the Universe, I shall surely not be misjudged while
accomplishing it!”

He quickened his pace;--and to avoid going up one of the longer
thoroughfares which led to the citadel and palace, he decided to cross
one of the many picturesque bridges, arched over certain inlets from the
sea, and forming canals, where barges and other vessels might be towed
up to the very doors of the warehouses which received their cargoes.
But just as he was about to turn in the necessary direction, he halted
abruptly at sight of two men, standing at the first corner in the way
of his advance, talking earnestly. He recognized them at once as Sergius
Thord and the half-inebriated poet, Paul Zouche. With noiseless step
he moved cautiously into the broad stretch of black shadow cast by the
great façade of a block of buildings which occupied half the length of
the street in which he stood, and so managing to slip into the denser
darkness of a doorway, was able to hear what they were saying. The full,
mellow, and persuasive tone of Thord’s voice had something in it of

“You shame yourself, Zouche!” he said; “You shame me; you shame us all!
Man, did God put a light of Genius in your soul merely to be quenched by
the cravings of a bestial body? What associate are you for us? How can
you help us in the fulfilment of our ideal dream? By day you mingle with
litterateurs, scientists, and philosophers,--report has it that you have
even managed to stumble your way into my lady’s boudoir;--but by night
you wander like this,--insensate, furious, warped in soul, muddled
in brain, and only the heart of you alive,--the poor unsatisfied
heart--hungering and crying for what itself makes impossible!”

Zouche broke into a harsh laugh. Turning up his head to the sky, he
thrust back his wild hair, and showed his thin eager face and glittering
eyes, outlined cameo-like by the paling radiance of the moon.

“Well spoken, my Sergius!” he exclaimed. “You always speak well! Your
thoughts are of flame--your speech is of gold; the fire melts the
ore! And then again you have a conscience! That is a strange
possession!--quite useless in these days, like the remains of the tail
we had when we were all happy apes in the primeval forest, pelting the
Megatherium or other such remarkable beasts with cocoanuts! It was a
much better life, Sergius, believe me! A Conscience is merely a mental
Appendicitis! There should be a psychical surgeon with an airy lancet to
cut it out. Not for me!--I was born perfect--without it!”

He laughed again, then with an abrupt change of manner he caught Thord
violently by the arm.

“How can you speak of shame?” he said--“What shame is left in either
man or woman nowadays? Naked to the very skin of foulness, they flaunt
a nudity of vice in every public thoroughfare! Your sentiments, my grand
Sergius, are those of an old world long passed away! You are a reformer,
a lover of truth--a hater of shams--and in the days when the people
loved truth,--and wanted justice,--and fought for both, you would have
been great! But greatness is nowadays judged as ‘madness’--truth as
‘want of tact’--desire for justice is ‘clamour for notoriety.’ Shame?
There is no shame in anything, Sergius, but honesty! That is a disgrace
to the century; for an honest man is always poor, and poverty is the
worst of crimes.” He threw up his arms with a wild gesture,--“The worst
of crimes! Do I not know it!”

Thord took him gently by the shoulder.

“You talk, Zouche, as you always talk, at random, scarcely knowing, and
certainly not half meaning what you say. There is no real reason in your
rages against fate and fortune. Leave the accursed drink, and you may
still win the prize you covet--Fame.”

“Not I!” said Zouche scornfully,--“Fame in its original sense belonged
also to the growing-time of the world--when, proud of youth and the
glow of life, the full-fledged man judged himself immortal. Fame now is
adjudged to the biped-machine who drives a motor-car best,--or to the
fortunate soap-boiler who dines with a king! Poetry is understood to be
the useful rhyme which announces the virtues of pills and boot-blacking!
Mark you, Sergius!--my latest volume was ‘graciously accepted by the
King’! Do you know what that means?”

“No,” replied Thord, a trifle coldly; “And if it were not that I know
your strange vagaries, I should say you wronged your election as one of
us, to send any of your work to a crowned fool!”

Zouche laughed discordantly.

“You would? No, you would not, my Sergius, if you knew the spirit in
which I sent it! A spirit as wild, as reckless, as ranting, as defiant
as ever devil indulged in! The humility of my presentation letter to his
Majesty was beautiful! The reply of the flunkey-secretary was equally
beautiful in smug courtesy: ‘Sir, I am commanded by the King to thank
you for the book of poems you have kindly sent for his acceptance!’ I
say again, Thord, do you know what it means?”

“No; I only wish that instead of talking here, you would let me see you
safely home.”

“Home! I have no home! Since _she_ died--” He paused, and a grey shadow
crossed his face like the hue of approaching sickness or death.
“I killed her, poor child! Of course you know that! I neglected
her,--deserted her--left her to die! Well! She is only one more added
to the list of countless women martyrs who have been tortured out of an
unjust world--and now--now I write verses to her memory!” He shivered as
with cold, still clinging to Thord’s arm. “But I did not tell you what
great good comes of sending a book to the King! It means less to a
writer than to a boot-maker. For the boot-maker can put up a sign:
‘Special Fitter for the ease of His Majesty’s Corns’--but if a poet
should say his verse is ‘accepted’ by a monarch, the shrewd public take
it at once to be bad verse, and will have none of it! That is the case
with my book to-day!”

“Why did you send it?” asked Thord, with grave patience. “Your business
with kings is to warn, not to flatter!”

“Just so!” cried Zouche; “And if His Most Gracious and Glorious had been
pleased to look inside the volume, he would have seen enough to startle
him! It was sent in hate, my Sergius,--not in humility,--just as the
flunkey-secretary’s answer was penned in derision, aping courtesy! How
you look, under this wan sky of night! Reproachful, yet pitying, as the
eyes of Buddha are your eyes, my Sergius! You are a fine fellow--your
brain is a dome decorated with glorious ideals!--and yet you are like
all of us, weak in one point, as Achilles in the heel. One thing could
turn you from man into beast--and that would be if Lotys loved--not
you--she never will love you--but another!”--Thord started back as
though suddenly stabbed, and angrily shook off his companion, who only
laughed again,--a shrill, echoing laugh in which there was a note of
madness and desolation. “Bah!” he exclaimed; “You are a fool after all!
You work for a woman as I did--once! But mark you!--do not kill her--as
I did--once! Be patient! Watch the light shine, even though it does not
illumine your path; be glad that the rose blooms for itself, if not for
you! It will be difficult!--meanwhile you can live on hope--a bitter
fruit to eat; but gnaw it to the last rind, my Sergius! Hope that Lotys
may melt in your fire, as a snowflake in the sun! Come! Now take the
poor poet home,--the drunken child of inspiration--take him home to his
garret in the slums--the poet whose book has been accepted by the King!”

Pulling himself up from his semi-crouching position, he seized Thord’s
arm again more tightly, and began to walk along unsteadily. Presently he
paused, smiling vacantly up at the gradually vanishing stars.

“Lotys speaks to our followers on Saturday,” he said; “You know that?”

Thord bent his head in acquiescence.

“You will be there, of course. I shall be there! What a voice she has!
Whether we believe what she says or not, we must hear,--and hearing, we
must follow. Where shall we drink in the sweet Oracle this time?”

“At the People’s Assembly Rooms,” responded Thord; “But remember,
Zouche, she does not speak till nine o’clock. That means that you will
be unfit to listen!”

“You think so?” responded Zouche airily, and leaning on Thord he
stumbled onward, the two passing close in front of the doorway where
Pasquin Leroy stood concealed. “But I am more ready to understand wisdom
when drunk, than when sober, my Sergius! You do not understand. I am
a human eccentricity--the result of an _amour_ between a fiend and an
angel! Believe me! I will listen to Lotys with all my devil-saintly
soul,--you will listen to her with all your loving, longing heart--and
with us two thus attentive, the opinions of the rest of the audience
will scarcely matter! How the street reels! How the old moon dances! So
did she whirl pallidly when Antony clasped his Egyptian Queen, and lost
Actium! Remember the fate of Antony, Sergius! Kingdoms would have been
seized and controlled by men such as you are, long before now--if there
had not always been a woman in the case--a Cleopatra--or a Lotys!”

Still laughing foolishly, he reeled onwards, Sergius Thord
half-supporting, half-leading him, with grave carefulness and brotherly
compassion. They were soon out of sight; and Pasquin Leroy, leaving his
dark hiding-place, crossed the bridge with an alert step, and mounted a
steep street leading to the citadel. From gaps between the tall leaning
houses a glimpse of the sea, silvered by the dying moonlight, flashed
now and again; and in the silence of the night the low ripple of small
waves against the breakwater could be distinctly heard. A sense of
holy calm impressed him as he paused a moment; and the words of an old
monkish verse came back to him from some far-off depth of memory:

  Lord Christ, I would my soul were clear as air,
  With only Thy pure radiance falling through!

He caught his breath hard--there was a smarting sense as of tears in his

“So proudly throned, and so unloved!” he muttered. “Yet,--has not the
misprisal and miscomprehension been merited? Whose is the blame? Not
with the People, who, despite the prophet’s warning, ‘still put their
trust in princes’--but with the falsity and hollowness of the system!
Sovereignty is like an old ship stuck fast in the docks, and unfit
for sailing the wide seas--crusted with barnacles of custom and
prejudice,--and in every gale of wind pulling and straining at a rusty
chain anchor. But the spirit of Change is in the world; a hurrying
movement that has wings of fire, and might possibly be called
Revolution! It is better that the torch should be lighted from the
Throne than from the slums!”

He went on his way quickly,--till reaching the outer wall of the
citadel, he was challenged by a sentinel, to whom he gave the password
in a low tone. The man drew back, satisfied, and Leroy went on, mounting
from point to point of the cliff, till he reached a private gate leading
into the wide park-lands which skirted the King’s palace. Here stood a
muffled and cloaked figure evidently watching for him; for as soon as
he appeared the gate was noiselessly opened for his admittance, and he
passed in at once. Then he and the person who had awaited his coming,
walked together through the scented woods of pine and rhododendrons, and
talking in low and confidential voices, slowly disappeared.



The Marquis de Lutera was a heavy sleeper, and for some time had been
growing stouter than was advisable for the dignity of a Prime Minister.
He had been defeated of late years in one or two important measures;
and his colleague, Carl Pérousse, had by gradual degrees succeeded in
worming himself into such close connection with the rest of the members
of the Cabinet, that he, Lutera, felt himself being edged out, not only
from political ‘deals,’ but from the profits appertaining thereto. So,
growing somewhat indifferent, as well as disgusted at the course affairs
were taking, he had made up his mind to retire from office, as soon as
he had carried through a certain Bill which, in its results, would have
the effect of crippling the people of the country, while helping on his
own interests to a considerable degree. At the immediate moment he had
a chance of looming large on the political horizon. Carl Pérousse could
not do anything of very great importance without him; they were both
too deeply involved together in the same schemes. In point of fact, if
Pérousse could bring the Premier to a fall, the Premier could do the
same by Pérousse. The two depended on each other; and Lutera, conscious
that if Pérousse gained any fresh accession of power, it would be to
his, Lutera’s, advantage, was gradually preparing to gracefully resign
his position in the younger and more ambitious man’s favour. But he was
not altogether comfortable in his mind since his last interview with the
King. The King had shown unusual signs of self-will and obstinacy.
He had presumed to give a command affecting the national policy; and,
moreover, he had threatened, if his command were not obeyed, to address
Parliament himself on the subject in hand, from the Throne. Such an
unaccustomed, unconstitutional idea was very upsetting to the Premier’s
mind. It had cost him a sleepless night; and when he woke to a new day’s
work, he was in an extremely irritable humour. He was doubtful how to
act;--for to complain of the King would not do; and to enlighten the
members of the Cabinet as to his Majesty’s declared determination to
dispose amicably of certain difficulties with a foreign power, which
the Ministry had fully purposed fanning up into a flame of war, might
possibly awaken a storm of dissension and discussion.

“We all want money!” said the Marquis gloomily, as he rose from his
tumbled bed to take his first breakfast, and read his early morning
letters--“And to crush a small and insolent race, whose country is rich
in mineral product, is simply the act of squeezing an orange for
the necessary juice. Life would be lost, of course, but we are
over-populated; and a good war would rid the country of many scamps
and vagabonds. Widows and orphans could be provided for by national
subscriptions, invested as the Ministry think fit, and paid to
applicants after about twenty years’ waiting!” He smiled sardonically.
“The gain to ourselves would be incalculable; new wealth, new schemes,
new openings for commerce and speculation in every way! And now the King
sets himself up as an obstacle to progress! If he were fond of money, we
could explain the whole big combine, and offer him a share;--but with
a character such as he possesses, I doubt if it would work! With some
monarchs whom I could name, it would be perfectly easy. And yet,--for
the three years he has been on the throne, he has been passive
enough,--asking no questions,--signing such documents as he has been
told to sign,--uttering such speeches as have been written for him,--and
I was never more shocked and taken aback in my life than yesterday
morning, when he declared he had decided to think and act for himself!
Simply preposterous! An ordinary man who presumes to think and act for
himself is always a danger to the community--but a king! Good Heavens!
We should have the old feudal system back again.”

He sipped his coffee leisurely, and opened a few letters; there were
none of very pressing importance. He was just about to glance through
the morning’s newspaper, when his man-servant entered bearing a note
marked ‘Private and Immediate.’ He recognized the handwriting of David

“Anyone waiting for an answer?” he enquired.

“No, Excellency.”

The man retired. The Marquis broke the large splotchy seal bearing the
coat-of-arms which Jost affected, but to which he had no more right than
the man in the moon, and read what seemed to him more inexplicable than
the most confusing conundrum ever invented.

“MY DEAR MARQUIS,--I received your confidential messenger last night,
and explained the entire situation. He left for Moscow this morning, but
will warn us of any further developments. Sorry matters look so grave
for you. Should like a few minutes private chat when you can spare the

“Yours truly, DAVID JOST.”

Over and over again the Marquis read this brief note, staring at its
every word and utterly unable to understand its meaning.

“What in the world is the fellow driving at!” he exclaimed angrily--“‘My
messenger’! ‘Explained the entire situation’! The devil! ‘Left for
Moscow’! Upon my soul, this is maddening!” And he rang the bell sharply.

“Who brought this note?” he asked, as his servant entered.

“Mr. Jost’s own man, Excellency.”

“Has he gone?”

“Yes, Excellency.”

“Wait!” And sitting down he wrote hastily the following lines:

“DEAR SIR,--Your letter is inexplicable. I sent no messenger to you last
night. If you have any explanation to offer, I shall be disengaged and
alone till 11.30 this morning.

“Yours truly,--DE LUTERA.”

Folding, sealing, and addressing this, he marked it ‘Private’ and gave
it to his man.

“Take this yourself,” he said, “and put it into Mr. Jost’s own hands.
Trust no one to deliver it. Ask to see him personally, and then give it
to him. You understand?”

“Yes, Excellency.”

His note thus despatched, the Marquis threw himself down in his
arm-chair, and again read Jost’s mysterious communication.

“Whatever messenger has passed himself off as coming from me, Jost must
have been crazy to receive him without credentials,” he said. “There
must be a mistake somewhere!”

A vague alarm troubled him; he was not moved by conscientious scruples,
but the idea that any of his secret moves should be ‘explained’ to a
stranger was, to say the least of it, annoying, and not conducive to
the tranquillity of his mind. A thousand awkward possibilities suggested
themselves at once to his brain, and as he carried a somewhat excitable
disposition under his heavy and phlegmatic exterior, he fumed and
fretted himself for the next half hour into an impatience which only
found vent in the prosaic and everyday performance of dressing himself.
Ah!--if those who consider a Prime Minister great and exalted, could
only see him as he pulls on his trousers, and fastens his shirt collar,
what a disillusion would be promptly effected! Especially if, like
the Marquis de Lutera, he happened to be over-stout, and difficult to
clothe! This particular example of Premiership was an ungainly man; his
proud position could not make him handsome, nor lend true dignity to his
deportment. Old Mother Nature has a way of marking her specimens, if we
will learn to recognize the signs she sets on certain particular ‘makes’
of man. The Marquis de Lutera was ‘made’ to be a stock-jobber, not a
statesman. His bent was towards the material gain and good of himself,
more than the advantage of his country. His reasoning was a slight
variation of Falstaff’s logical misprisal of honour. He argued; “If I
am poor, then what is it to me that others are rich? If I am neglected,
what do I care that the people are prosperous? Let me but secure and
keep those certain millions of money which shall ensure to me and my
heritage a handsome endowment, not only for my life, but for all
lives connected with mine which come after me,--and my ‘patriotism’ is

He had just finished insinuating himself by degrees into his morning
coat, when his servant entered.

“Well!” he asked impatiently.

“Mr. Jost is coming round at once, Excellency. He ordered his carriage
directly he read your note.”

“He sent no answer?”

“None, Excellency.”

“When he arrives, show him into the library.”

“Yes, Excellency.”

The Marquis thereupon left his sleeping apartment, and descended to the
library himself. The sun was streaming brilliantly into the room, and
the windows, thrown wide open, showed a cheerful display of lawn and
flower-garden, filled with palms and other semi-tropical shrubs, for
though the Premier’s house was in the centre of the fashionable quarter
of the city, it had the advantage of extensive and well-shaded grounds.
A law had been passed in the late King’s time against the felling of
trees, it having been scientifically proved that trees in a certain
quantity, not only purify the air from disease germs affecting the human
organization, but also save the crops from many noxious insect-pests and
poisonous fungi. Having learned the lesson at last, that the Almighty
may be trusted to know His own business, and that trees are intended for
wider purposes than mere timber, the regulations were strict concerning
them. No one could fell a tree on his own ground without, first of all,
making a statement at the National Office of Aboriculture as to
the causes for its removal; and only if these causes were found
satisfactory, could a stamped permission be obtained for cutting it down
or ‘lifting’ it to other ground. The result of this sensible regulation
was that in the hottest days of summer the city was kept cool and shady
by the rich foliage branching out everywhere, and in some parts running
into broad avenues and groves of great thickness and beauty. The Marquis
de Lutera’s garden had an additional charm in a beautiful alley of
orange trees, and the fragrance wafted into his room from the delicious
blossoms would have refreshed and charmed anyone less troubled, worried
and feverish, than he was at the time. But this morning the very
sunshine annoyed him;--never a great lover of Nature, the trees and
flowers forming the outlook on which his heavy eyes rested were almost
an affront. The tranquil beauty of an ever renewed and renewing
Nature is always particularly offensive to an uneasy conscience and an
exhausted mind.

The sound of wheels grinding along the outer drive brought a faint gleam
of satisfaction on his brooding features, and he turned sharply
round, as the door of the library was thrown open to admit Jost, whose
appearance, despite his jaunty manner, betokened evident confusion and

“Good-morning, Mr. Jost!” said the Marquis stiffly, as his confidential
man ushered in the visitor,--then when the servant had retired and
closed the door, he added quickly--“Now what does this mean?”

Jost dropped into a chair, and pulling out a handkerchief wiped the
perspiration from his brow.

“I don’t know!” he said helplessly; “I don’t know what it means! I have
told you the truth! A man came to see me late last night, saying he was
sent by you on urgent business. He said you wished me to explain the
position we held, and the amount of the interests we had at stake, as
there were grave discoveries pending, and complexities likely to ensue.
He gave his name--there is his card!”

And with a semi-groan, he threw down the bit of pasteboard in question.

The Marquis snatched it up.

“‘Pasquin Leroy’! I never heard the name in my life,” he said fiercely.
“Jost, you have been done! You mean to tell me you were such a fool as
to trust an entire stranger with the whole financial plan of campaign,
and that you were credulous enough to believe that he came from
me--me--De Lutera,--without any credentials?”

“Credentials!” exclaimed Jost; “Do you suppose I would have received him
at all had credentials been lacking? Not I! He brought me the most sure
and confidential sign of your trust that could be produced--your own

The Marquis staggered back, as though Jost’s words had been so many
direct blows on the chest,--his countenance turned a livid white.

“My signet-ring!” he repeated,--and almost unconsciously he looked at
the hand from which the great jewel was missing; “My signet!”--Then he
forced a smile--“Jost, I repeat, you have been done!--doubly fooled!--no
one could possibly have obtained my signet,--for at this very moment it
is on the hand of the King!”

Jost rose slowly out of his chair, his eyes protruding out of his head,
his jaw almost dropping in the extremity of his amazement.

“The King!”--he gasped--“The King!”

“Yes, man, the King!” repeated De Lutera impatiently,--“Only yesterday
morning his Majesty, having mislaid his own ring for the moment,
borrowed mine just before starting on his yachting cruise. How you
stare! You have been fooled!--that is perfectly plain and evident!”

“The King!” repeated Jost stupidly--“Then the man who came to me last
night--” He broke off, unable to find any words for the expression of
the thoughts which began to terrify him.

“Well!--the man who came to you last night,” echoed the Marquis,--“He
was not the King, I suppose, was he?” And he laughed derisively.

“No--he was not the King,” said Jost slowly; “I know _him_ well enough!
But it might have been someone in the King’s service! For he knew, or
said he knew, the King’s intentions in a certain matter affecting both
you and Carl Pérousse,--and in a more distant way, myself--and warned
me of a coming change in the policy. Ah!--it is now your turn to stare,
Marquis! You had best be on your guard, for if the person who came to me
last night was not your messenger, he was the King’s spy! And, in that
case, we are lost!”

The Marquis paced the room with long uneven strides,--his mind was
greatly agitated, but he had no wish to show his perturbation too openly
to one whom he considered as a mere tool in his service.

“I know,” went on Jost emphatically, “that the ring he wore was yours! I
noticed it particularly while I was talking to him. It would take a long
time and exceptional skill to make any imitation of that sapphire. There
is no doubt that it was your signet!”

The Premier halted suddenly in his nervous walk.

“You told him the whole scheme, you say?”

“I did.”

“And his reply?”

“Was, that the King had discovered it, and proposed insisting on an

“And then?”

“Well! Then he warned me to look out for myself,--as anyone connected
with Carl Pérousse’s financial deal would inevitably be ruined during
the next few weeks.”

“Who is going to work the ruin?” asked the Marquis with a sneer; “Do you
not know that if the King dared to give an opinion on a national crisis,
he would be dethroned?”

“There are the People--” began Jost.

“The People! Human emmets--born for crushing under the heel of power!
A couple of ‘leaders’ in your paper, Jost, can guide the fool-mob any

“That depends!” said Jost hesitatingly; “If what the fellow said last
night be true--”

“It is not true!” said the Premier authoritatively. “We are going on
in precisely the same course as originally arranged. Neither King
nor People can interfere! Go home, and write an article about love of
country, Jost! You look in the humour for it!”

The Jew’s expression was anything but amiable.

“What is to be done about last night?” he asked sullenly.

“Nothing at present. I am going to the palace at two o’clock--I shall
see the King, and find out whether my signet is lost, stolen or strayed.
Meanwhile, keep your own counsel! If you have been betrayed into giving
your confidence to a spy in the foreign service, as I imagine--(for the
King has never employed a spy, and is not likely to do so), and he makes
known his information, it can be officially denied. The official denial
of a Government, Jost, like charity, has before now covered a multitude
of sins!”

An instinctive disinclination for further conversation brought the
interview between them abruptly to a close, and Jost, full of a
suspicious alarm, which he was ashamed to confess, drove off to his
newspaper offices. The Premier, meantime, though harassed by secret
anxiety, managed to display his usual frigid equanimity, when, after
Jost’s departure, his private secretary arrived at the customary time,
to transact under his orders the correspondence and business of the day.
This secretary, Eugène Silvano by name, was a quiet self-contained young
man, highly ambitious, and keenly interested in the political situation,
and, though in the Premier’s service, not altogether of his way of
thinking. He called the Marquis’s attention now to a letter that
had missed careful reading on the previous day. It was from the
Vicar-General of the Society of Jesus, expressing surprise and
indignation that the King should have refused the Society’s request for
such land as was required to be devoted to religious and educational
purposes, and begging that the Premier would exert his influence with
the monarch to persuade him to withdraw or mitigate his refusal.

“I can do nothing;” said the Marquis irritably,--“the lands they want
belong to the Crown. The King can dispose of them as he thinks best.”

The secretary set the letter aside.

“Shall I reply to that effect?” he enquired.

The Marquis nodded.

“I know,” said Silvano presently with a slight hesitation, “that you
never pay any attention to anonymous communications. Otherwise, there is
one here which might merit consideration.”

“What does it concern?”

“A revolutionary meeting,” replied Silvano, “where it appears the woman,
Lotys, is to speak.”

The Premier shrugged his shoulders and smiled. “You must enlighten me!
Who is the woman Lotys?”

“Ah, that no one exactly knows!” replied the secretary. “A
strange character, without doubt, but--” He paused and spoke more
emphatically--“She has power!”

Lutera gave a gesture of irritation.

“Bah! Over whom does she exercise it. Over one man or many?”

“Over one half the population at least,” responded Silvano, quietly,
turning over a few papers without looking up.

The Marquis stared at him, slightly amused.

“Have you taken statistics of the lady’s followers,” he asked; “Are you
one of them yourself?”

Silvano raised his eyes,--clear dark eyes, deep-set and steady in their

“Were I so, I should not be here;” he replied--“But I know how she
speaks; I know what she does! and from a purely political point of view
I think it unwise to ignore her.”

“What is this anonymous communication you speak of?” asked the Premier,
after a pause.

“Oh, it is brief enough,” answered Silvano unfolding a paper, and he
read aloud:

“To the Marquis de Lutera, Premier.

“Satisfy yourself that those who meet on Saturday night where Lotys
speaks, have already decided on your downfall!”

“Oracular!” said the Marquis carelessly;--“To decide is one thing--to
fulfil the decision is another! Lotys, whoever she may be, can preach
to her heart’s content, for all I care! I am rather surprised, Silvano,
that a man of your penetration and intelligence should attach any
importance to revolutionary meetings, which are always going on more
or less in every city under the sun. Why, it was but the other day,
the police were sent to disperse a crowd which had gathered round the
fanatic, Sergius Thord; only the people had sufficient sense to disperse
themselves. A street-preacher or woman ranter is like a cheap-jack or
a dispenser of quack medicines;--the mob gathers to such persons out of
curiosity, not conviction.”

The secretary made no reply, and went on with other matters awaiting his

At a few minutes before two o’clock the Marquis entered his carriage,
and was driven to the palace. There he learned that the King was
receiving, more or less unofficially, certain foreign ambassadors and
noblemen of repute in the Throne-room. A fine band was playing military
music in the great open quadrangle in front of the palace, where pillars
of rose-marble, straight as the stems of pine-trees, held up fabulous
heraldic griffins, clasping between their paws the country’s shield.
Flags were flying,--fountains flashing,--gay costumes gleamed here and
there,--and the atmosphere was full of brilliancy and gaiety,--yet the
Marquis, on his way to the audience-chamber, was rendered uncomfortably
aware of one of those mysterious impressions which are sometimes
conveyed to us, we know not how, but which tend to prepare us for
surprise and disappointment. Some extra fibre of sensitiveness in his
nervous organization was acutely touched, for he actually fancied he saw
slighting and indifferent looks on the faces of the various flunkeys and
retainers who bowed him along the different passages, or ushered him up
the state stairway, when--as a matter of fact,--all was precisely the
same as usual, and it was only his own conscience that gave imaginary
hints of change. Arrived at the ante-chamber to the Throne-room, he was
surprised to find Prince Humphry there, talking animatedly to the King’s
physician, Professor Von Glauben. The Prince seemed unusually excited;
his face was flushed, and his eyes extraordinarily brilliant, and as
he saw the Premier, he came forward, extending his hand, and almost
preventing Lutera’s profound bow and deferential salutation.

“Have you business with the King, Marquis?” enquired the young man
with a light laugh. “If you have, you must do as I am doing,--wait his
Majesty’s pleasure!”

The Premier lifted his eyebrows, smiled deprecatingly, and murmuring
something about pressure of State affairs, shook hands with Von Glauben,
whose countenance, as usual, presented an impenetrable mask to his

“It is rather a new experience for me,” continued the Prince, “to
be treated as a kind of petitioner on the King’s favour, and kept in
attendance,--but no matter!--novelty is always pleasing! I have been
cooling my heels here for more than an hour. Von Glauben, too, has been
waiting;--contrary to custom, he has not even been permitted to enquire
after his Majesty’s health this morning!”

Lutera maintained his former expression of polite surprise, but said
nothing. Instinct warned him to be sparing of words lest he should
betray his own private anxiety.

The Prince went on carelessly.

“Majesty takes humours like other men, and must, more than other men, I
suppose, be humoured! Yet there is to my mind something unnatural in a
system which causes several human beings to be dependent on another’s

“You will not say so, Sir, when you yourself are King,” observed the

“Long distant be the day!” returned the Prince. “Indeed, I hope it may
never be! I would rather be the simplest peasant ploughing the fields,
and happy in my own way, than suffer the penalties and pains surrounding
the possession of a Throne!”

“Only,” put in Von Glauben sententiously, “you would have to take into
consideration, Sir, whether the peasant ploughing the fields is happy
in his own way. I have made ‘the peasant ploughing the fields’ a special
form of study,--and I have always found him a remarkably discontented,
often ill-fed--and therefore unhealthy individual.”

“We are all discontented, if it comes to that!” said Prince Humphry with
a light laugh,--“Except myself! I am perfectly contented!”

“You have reason to be, Sir,” said Lutera, bowing low.

“You are quite right, Marquis!--I have! More reason than perhaps you are
aware of!”

His eyes lightened and flashed; he looked unusually handsome, and
the Premier’s shifty glance rested on him for a moment with a certain
curiosity. But he had not been accustomed to pay very much attention to
the words or actions of the Heir-Apparent, considering him to be a very
‘ordinary’ young man, without either the brilliancy or the ambition
which should mark him out as worthy of his exalted station. And before
any further conversation could take place, Sir Roger de Launay entered
the room and announced to the Marquis that the King was ready to receive
him. Prince Humphry turning sharply round, faced the equerry.

“I am still to wait?” he enquired, with a slight touch of hauteur.

Sir Roger bowed respectfully.

“Your instant desire to see the King, your father, Sir, was communicated
to his Majesty at once,” he replied. “The present delay is by his
Majesty’s own orders. I much regret----”

“Regret nothing, my dear Sir Roger,” he said. “My patience does not
easily tire! Marquis, I trust your business will not take long?”

“I shall endeavour to make it as brief as possible, Sir,” replied the
Premier deferentially as he withdrew.

It was with a certain uneasiness, however, in his mind that he followed
Sir Roger to the Throne-room. There was no possibility of exchanging so
much as a word with the equerry; besides, De Launay was not a talking
man. Passing between the lines of attendants, pages, lords-in-waiting
and others, he was conscious of a certain loss of his usual
self-possession as he found himself at last in the presence of the
King,--who, attired in brilliant uniform, was conversing graciously
and familiarly with a select group of distinguished individuals whose
costume betokened them as envoys or visitors from foreign courts in the
diplomatic service. Perceiving the Premier, however, he paused in his
conversation, and standing quite still awaited his approach. Then he
extended his hand, with his usual kindly condescension. Instinctively
Lutera’s eyes searched that hand, with the expression of a guilty
soul searching for a witness to its innocence. There shone the great
sapphire--his own signet--and to his excited fancy its blue glimmer
emitted a witch-like glow of menace. Meanwhile the King was speaking.

“You are just a few minutes late, Marquis!” he said; “Had you come
a little earlier, you would have met M. Pérousse, who has matters of
import to discuss with you.” Here he moved aside from those immediately
in hearing. “It is perhaps as well you should know I have ‘vetoed’
his war propositions. It will rest now with you, to call a Council
to-morrow,--the next day,--or,--when you please!”

Completely taken aback, the Premier was silent for a moment, biting his
lips to keep down the torrent of rage and disappointment that threatened
to break out in violent and unguarded speech.

“Sir!--Your Majesty! Pardon me, but surely you cannot fail to understand
that in a Constitution like ours, the course decided upon by Ministers
_cannot_ be vetoed by the King?”

The monarch smiled gravely.

“‘Cannot’ is a weak word, Marquis! I do not include it in my vocabulary!
I fully grant you that a plan of campaign decided upon by Ministers as
you say, has _not_ been ‘vetoed’ by a reigning sovereign for at least
a couple of centuries,--and the custom has naturally fallen into
desuetude,--but if it should be found at any time,--(I do not say it
_has_ been found) that Ministers are engaged in a seriously mistaken
policy, and are being misled by the doubtful propositions of private
financial speculators, so much as to consider their own advantage more
important and valuable than the prosperity of a country or the good of
a people,--then a king who does _not_ veto the same is a worse criminal
than those he tacitly supports and encourages!”

Lutera turned a deadly white,--his eyes fell before the clear, straight
gaze of his Sovereign,--but he said not a word.

“A king’s ‘veto’ has before now brought about a king’s dethronement,”
 went on the monarch; “Should it do so in my case, I shall not greatly
care,--but if things trend that way, I shall lay my thoughts openly
before the People for their judgment. They seldom or never hear the
Sovereign whom they pay to keep, speak to them on a matter gravely
affecting their national destinies,--but they shall hear _me_,--if

The Marquis moistened his dry lips, and essayed to pronounce a few

“Your Majesty will run considerable risk----”

“Of being judged as something more than a mere dummy,” said the
King--“Or a fool set on a throne to be fooled! True! But the risk can
only involve life,--and life is immaterial when weighed in the balance
against Honour. By the way, Marquis, permit me to return to you this
valuable gem”;--Here drawing off the Premier’s sapphire signet, he
handed it to him--“Almost I envy it! It is a fine stone!--and worthy of
its high service!”

“Your Majesty has increased its value by wearing it,” said Lutera,
recovering a little of his strayed equanimity in his determination to
probe to the bottom of the mystery which perplexed his mind. “May I

“Anything in reason, my dear Marquis,” returned the King lightly, and
smiling as he spoke. “A thousand questions if you like!”

“One will suffice,” answered the Premier. “I had an unpleasant dream
last night about this very ring----”

“Ah!” ejaculated the King; “Did you dream that I had dropped it in the
sea on my way to The Islands yesterday?”

He spoke jestingly, yet with a kindly air, and Lutera gained courage to
look boldly up and straight into his eyes.

“I did not dream that you had lost it, Sir,” he answered--“but that
it had been stolen from your hand, and used by a spy for unlawful

A strange expression crossed the King’s face,--a look of inward
illumination; he smiled, but there was a quiver of strong feeling under
the smile. Advancing a step, he laid his hand with a light, half-warning
pressure on the Premier’s shoulder.

“Dreams always go by contraries, Marquis!” he said;--“I assure you, on
my honour as a king and a gentleman, that from the moment you lent it
to me, till now,--when I return it to you,--_that ring has never left my



The Royal ‘at home’ was soon over. Many of those who had the felicity
of breathing in the King’s presence that afternoon remarked upon his
Majesty’s evident good health and high spirits, while others as freely
commented on the unapproachableness and irritability of the Marquis de
Lutera. Sir Walter Langton, the great English traveller, who was taking
his leave of the Sovereign that day, being bound on an expedition to the
innermost recesses of Africa, was not altogether agreeably impressed by
the Premier, whom he met on this occasion for the first and only time.
They had begun their acquaintance by talking generalities,--but drifted
by degrees into the dangerous circle of politics, and were skirting
round the edge of various critical questions of the day, when the
Marquis said abruptly:

“An autocracy would not flourish in your country, I presume, Sir Walter?
The British people have been too long accustomed to sing that they
‘never, never will be slaves.’ Your Government is really more or less of
a Republic.”

“All Governments are so in these days, I imagine,” replied Langton.
“Autocracy on the part of a monarch is nowhere endured, save in
Russia,--and what is Russia? A huge volcano, smouldering with fire, and
ever threatening to break out in flame and engulf the Throne! Monarchs
were not always wisdom personified in olden times,--and I venture to
consider them nowadays less wise and more careless than ever. Only a
return to almost barbaric ignorance and superstition would tolerate any
complete monarchical authority in these present times of progress. It
is only the long serfdom of Russia that hinders the triumph of Liberty
there, as elsewhere.”

The Marquis listened eagerly, and with evident satisfaction.

“I agree with you!” he said. “You consider, then, that in no country,
under any circumstances, could the people be expected to obey their
monarch blindly?”

“Certainly not! Even Rome, with its visible spiritual Head and
Sovereign, has no real power. It imagines it has; but let it make any
decided step to ensnare the liberties of the people at large, and
the result would be somewhat astonishing! Personally--” and he smiled
gravely--“I have often thought that my own country would be very much
benefited by a couple of years existence under an autocrat--an autocrat
like Cromwell, for example. A man strong and fierce, intelligent and
candid,--who would expose shams and destroy abuses,--who would have no
mercy on either religious, social, or political fraud, and who would
perform the part of the necessary hard broom for sweeping the National
house. But, unfortunately, we have no such man. You have,--in your
Sergius Thord!”

The Premier heard this name with unconcealed amazement.

“Sergius Thord! Why he is a mere fanatic----”

“Pardon me!” interrupted Sir Walter,--“so was Cromwell!”

“But, my dear sir!” remonstrated the Marquis smilingly,--“Is it possible
that you really consider Sergius Thord any sort of an influence in this
country? If you do, I assure you you are greatly mistaken!”

“I think not,” responded Sir Walter quietly; “With every respect for
you, Marquis, I believe I am not mistaken! Books written by Sergius
Thord are circulating in their thousands all over the world--his
speeches are reported not only here, but in journals which probably you
never hear of, in far-off countries,--in short, his propaganda is
simply enormous. He is a kind of new Rousseau, without,--so far as I
can learn,--Rousseau’s private vices. He is a man I much wished to see
during my stay here, but I have not had the opportunity of finding him
out. He is an undoubted genius,--but I need not remind you, Marquis,
that a man is never a prophet in his own country! The world’s
‘celebrity’ is always eyed with more or less suspicion as a strange sort
of rogue or vagabond in his own native town or village!”

At that moment, the King, having concluded a conversation with certain
of his guests, who were thereupon leaving the Throne-room, approached
them. He had not spoken a word to the Premier since returning him his
signet-ring, but now he said:

“Marquis, I was almost forgetting a special request I have to make of

“A request from you is a command, Sir!” replied Lutera with hypocritical
deference and something of a covert sneer, which did not escape the
quick observation of Sir Walter Langton.

“In certain cases it should be so,” returned the King tranquilly; “And
in this you will probably make it so! I have received a volume of poems
by one Paul Zouche. His genius appears to me deserving of encouragement.
A grant of a hundred golden pieces a year will not be too much for his
hundred best poems. Will you see to this?”

The Marquis bowed.

“I have never heard of the man in question,” he replied hesitatingly.

“Probably not,” returned the King smiling;--“How often do Premiers read
poetry, or notice poets? Scarcely ever, if we may credit history! But in
this case----”

“I will make myself immediately acquainted with Paul Zouche, and inform
him of your Majesty’s gracious intention,” the Marquis hastened to say.

“It is quite possible he may refuse the grant,” continued the King;
“Sometimes--though seldom--poets are prouder than Prime Ministers!”

With a brief nod of dismissal he turned away, inviting Sir Walter
Langton to accompany him, and there was nothing more for the Marquis to
do, save to return even as he had come, with two pieces of information
puzzling his brain,--one, that the King’s ‘veto’ had stopped a
declaration of war,--unless,--which was a very remote contingency,--he
and his party could persuade the people to go against the King,--the
other, that some clever spy, with the assistance of a fraudulent
imitation of his signet-ring, had become aware of the financial
interests involved in a private speculation depending on the intended
war, which included himself, Carl Pérousse, and two or three other
members of the Ministry. And, out of these two facts might possibly
arise a whole train of misfortune, ruin and disgrace to those concerned.

It was considerably past three o’clock in the afternoon when the King,
retiring to his own private cabinet, desired Sir Roger de Launay to
inform Prince Humphry that he was now prepared to receive him. Sir Roger
hesitated a moment before going to fulfil the command. The King looked
at him with an indulgent smile.

“Things are moving too quickly, you think, Roger?” he queried. “Upon
my soul, I am beginning to find a new zest in life! I feel some twenty
years younger since I saw the face of the beautiful Gloria yesterday! We
must promote her sailor husband, and bring his pearl of the sea to our

“It was on this very subject, Sir, that Von Glauben wished to see your
Majesty the first thing this morning,” said Sir Roger;--“But you refused
him so early an audience. Yet you will remember that yesterday you told
him you wished for an explanation of his acquaintance with this girl. He
was ready and prepared to give it, but was prevented,--not only by your
refusal to see him,--but also by the Prince.”

Drawing up a chair to the open window, the King seated himself
deliberately, and lit a cigar.

“Presumably the Prince knows more than the Professor!” he said calmly;
“We will hear both, and give Royalty the precedence! Tell Prince Humphry
I am waiting for him.”

Sir Roger withdrew, and in another two or three minutes returned,
throwing open the door and ushering in the Prince, who entered with a
quick step, and brief, somewhat haughty salutation. Puffing leisurely at
his cigar, the King glanced his son up and down smilingly, but said not
a word. The Prince stood waiting for his father to speak, till at last,
growing impatient and waiving ceremony, he began.

“I came, Sir, to spare Von Glauben your reproaches,--which he does not
merit. You accused him yesterday, he tells me, of betraying your trust;
he has neither betrayed your trust nor mine! I alone am to blame in this

“In what matter?” enquired the King quietly.

Prince Humphry coloured deeply, and then grew pale. There was a ray of
defiance in the light of his fine eyes, but the tumult within his soul
showed itself only in an added composure of his features.

“You wish me to speak plainly, I suppose,” he said;--“though you know
already what I mean. I repeat,--I, and I alone, am to blame,--for--for
anything that seemed strange to you yesterday, when you met Von Glauben
at The Islands.”

The King’s serious face lightened with a gleam of laughter.

“Nothing seemed very strange to me, Humphry,” he said, “except the
one fact that I found Von Glauben,--whom I supposed to be studying
scientific problems,--engaged in studying a woman instead! A very
beautiful woman, too, who ought to be something better than a sailor’s
wife. And I do not understand, as yet, what he has to do with her,
unless--” Here he paused and went on more slowly--“Unless he is, as
I suspect, acting for you in some way, and trying to tempt the fair
creature with the prospect of a prince’s admiration while the sailor
husband is out of the way! Remember, I know nothing--I merely hazard a
guess. You are an habitué of The Islands;--though I learned, on enquiry
of the interesting old gentleman who was good enough to be my host, Réné
Ronsard, that nobody had ever seen you there. They had only seen your
yacht constantly cruising about the bay. This struck me as curious, I
must confess. Some of your men were well known,--particularly one,--the
husband of the pretty girl I saw. Her name, it seems, is Gloria,--and I
must admit that it entirely suits her. I can hardly imagine that if you
have visited The Islands as often as you seem to have done, you can
have escaped seeing her. She is too beautiful to remain unknown to
you--particularly if her husband is, as they tell me, in your service. I
asked her to give me his name, but she refused it point-blank. I do not
wish to accuse you of an amour, which you are perhaps quite innocent
of--but certain things taken in their conjunction look suspicious,--and
I would remind you that honour in princes,--as in all men,--should come
before self-indulgence.”

“I entirely agree with you, Sir!” said the Prince, composedly; “And
in the present case honour has been my first thought, as it will be my
last. Gloria is my wife!”

“Your wife!” The King rose, his tall figure looking taller, his eyes
sparkling with anger from under their deep-set brows. “Your wife! Are
you mad, Humphry! You!----the Heir-Apparent to the Throne! You have
married her!”

“I have!” replied the Prince, and the words now came coursing rapidly
from his lips in his excitement--“I love her! I love her with all my
heart and soul!--and I have given her the only shield and safeguard love
in this world can give! I have married her in my own name--the name of
our family,--which neither she nor any of the humble folk out yonder
have ever heard--but she is wedded to me as fast as Church and Law can
make it,--and there is only one wrong connected with my vows to her--she
does not know who I am. I have deceived her there,--but in nothing else.
Had I told her of my rank, she would never have married me. But now she
is mine,--and for her sake I am willing to resign all pretension to the
Throne in favour of my brother Rupert. Let it be so, I implore you! Let
me live my own life of love and liberty in my own way!”

Rigid as a statue the King stood,--his lips were set hard and his eyes
lowered. Long buried thoughts rose up from the innermost recesses of his
being, and rushed upon his brain in a deluge of remembrance and regret.
What!--after all these years, had the ghost of his first love, the
little self-slain maiden of his boyhood’s dream, risen to avenge herself
in the life of his son? The strangeness of the comparison between
himself as he was now, and the eager passionate youth he was then,
smote him with a sense of sharp pain. Away in those far-off days he had
believed in love as the chief glory of existence; he had considered it
as the poets would have us consider it,--a saving, binding, holding and
immortal influence, which leads to all pure and holy things, even unto
God Himself, the Highest and Holiest of all. When he lost that belief,
how great was his loss!--when he ceased to experience that pure
idealistic emotion, how bitter became the monotony of living! Rapidly
the stream of memory swept over his innermost soul and shook his nerves,
and it was only through a strong effort of self-repression that at last,
lifting up his eyes he fixed them on the flushed face of his son, and
said in measured tones.

“This is a very unexpected and very unhappy confession of yours,
Humphry! You have acted most unwisely!--you have been disloyal to me,
who am not only your father, but your King! You have proved yourself
unworthy of the nation’s trust,--and you have deceived, more cruelly
than you think, an innocent and too-confiding girl. I shall not dispute
the legality of your marriage;--that would not be worth my while.
You have no doubt taken every step to make it as binding as
possible;--however, that is but a trifling matter in your case. You
know that such a marriage is, and can only be morganatic;--and as the
immediate consequence of your amazing folly, a suitable Royal alliance
must be arranged for you at once. The nuptials can be celebrated with
the attainment of your majority next year.”

He spoke coldly and calmly, but his heart was beating with mingled wrath
and pain, and even while he thus pronounced her doom, the exquisite
face of Gloria floated before him like the vision of a perfect innocence
ruined and betrayed. He realised that he possibly had an unusual
character to reckon with in her,--and he had lately become fully aware
that there was as much determination and latent force in the disposition
of his son, as in the mother who had given him birth. Pale and composed,
the young Prince heard him in absolute silence, and when he had
finished, still waited a moment, lest any further word should fall
from the lips of his parent and Sovereign. Then he spoke in quite as
measured, cold and tranquil a manner as the King had done.

“I need not remind you, Sir, that the days of tyranny are over. You
cannot force me into bigamy against my will!”

His father uttered a quick oath.

“Bigamy! Who talks of bigamy?”

“You do, Sir! I have married a beautiful and innocent woman,--she is my
lawful wife in the sight of God and man; yet you coolly propose to give
me a second wife under the ‘morganatic’ law, which, as I view it, is
merely a Royal excuse for bigamy! Now I have no wish to excuse myself
for marrying Gloria,--I consider she has honoured me far more than I
have honoured her. She has given me all her youth, her life, her love,
her beauty and her trust, and whatever I am worth in this world shall
be hers and hers only. I am quite prepared”--and he smiled somewhat
sarcastically,--“to make it a test case, and appeal to the law of the
realm. If that law tolerates a crime in princes, which it would punish
in commoners, then I shall ask the People to judge me!”

“Indeed!” And the King surveyed him with a touch of ironical amusement
and vague admiration for his audacity. “And suppose the people fail to
appreciate the romance of the situation?”

“Then I shall resign my nationality;” said the young man coolly;
“Because a country that legalises a wrong done to the innocent, is not
worth belonging to! Concerning the Throne,--as I told you before--I am
ready to abandon it at once. I would rather lose all the kingdoms of the
world than lose Gloria!”

There was a pause, during which the King took two or three slow paces
up and down the room. At last he turned and faced his son; his eyes were
softer--his look more kindly.

“You are very much in love just now, Humphry!” he said; “And I do not
wish to be too hard on you in this matter, for there can be no question
as to the extraordinary beauty of the girl you call your wife----”

“The girl who _is_ my wife,” interrupted the Prince decisively.

“Very well; so let it be!” said his father calmly; “The girl who _is_
your wife--for the present! I will give you time--plenty of time--to
consider the position reasonably!”

“I have already considered it,” he declared.

“No doubt! You think you have considered it. But if _you_ do not want to
meditate any further upon your marriage problem, you must allow me the
leisure to do so, as one who has seen more of life than you,--as one who
takes things philosophically--and also--as one who was young--once;--who
loved--once;--and who had his own private dreams of happiness--once!” He
rested a hand on his son’s shoulder, and looked him full and fairly in
the eyes. “Let me advise you, Humphry, to go abroad! Travel round the
world for a year!”

The Prince was silent,--but his eyes did not flinch from his father’s
steady gaze. He seemed to be thinking rapidly; but his thoughts were not
betrayed by any movement or expression that could denote anxiety. He was
alert, calm, and perfectly self-possessed.

“I have no objection,” he said at last; “A year is soon past!”

“It is,” agreed the King, with a sense of relief at his ready assent;
“But by the end of that time----”

“Things will be precisely as they are now,” said the Prince tranquilly;
“Gloria will still be my wife, and I shall still be her husband!”

The King gave a gesture of annoyance.

“Whatever the result,” he said, “she cannot, and will not be Crown

“She will not envy that destiny in my brother Rupert’s wife,” said
Prince Humphry quietly; “Nor shall I envy my brother Rupert!”

“You talk like a fool, Humphry!” said the King impatiently; “You cannot
resign your Heir-Apparency to the Throne, without giving a reason;--and
so making known your marriage.”

“That is precisely what I wish to do,” returned the young man. “I have
no intention of keeping my marriage secret. I am proud of it! Gloria is
mine--the joy of my soul--the very pulse of my life! Why should I hide
my heart’s light under a cloud?”

His voice vibrated with tender feeling,--his handsome features were
softened into finer beauty by the passion which invigorated him, and his
father looking at him, thought for a moment that so might the young gods
of the fabled Parnassus have appeared in the height of their symbolic
power and charm. His own eyes grew melancholy, as he studied this
vigorous incarnation of ardent love and passionate resolve; and a slight
sigh escaped him unconsciously.

“You forget!” he said slowly, “you have, up to the present deceived the
girl. She does not know who you are. When she hears that you have played
a part,--that you are no sailor in the service of the Crown Prince, as
you have apparently represented yourself to be, but the Crown Prince
himself, what will she say to you? Perhaps she will hate you for the
deception, as much as she now loves you!”

A shadow darkened the young Prince’s open countenance, but it soon
passed away.

“She will never hate me!” he said,--“For when I do tell her the truth,
it will be when I have resigned all the ridiculous pomp and circumstance
of my position for her sake----”

“Perhaps she will not let you resign it!” said the King; “She may be as
unselfish as she is beautiful!”

There was a slight, very slight note of derision in his voice, and the
Prince caught it up at once.

“You wrong yourself, Sir, more than you wrong my wife by any lurking
misjudgment of her,” he said, with singularly masterful and expressive
dignity. “As her husband, and the guardian of her honour, I also claim
her obedience. What I desire is her law!”

The King laughed a little forcedly.

“Evidently you have found the miracle of the ages, Humphry!” he said;
“A woman who obeys her master! Well! Let us talk no more of it. You have
been guilty of an egregious folly,--but nothing can make your marriage
otherwise than morganatic. And when the State considers a Royal alliance
for you advisable, you will be compelled to obey the country’s wish,--or
else resign the Throne.”

“I shall obey the country’s wish most decidedly,” said the Prince,
“unless it asks me to commit bigamy,--as you suggest,--in which case I
shall decline! Three or four Royal sinners of this class I know of,
who for all their pains have not succeeded in winning the attachment of
their people, either for themselves or their heirs. Their people know
what they are, well enough, and despise their fraudulent position as
heartily as I do! I am perfectly convinced that if it were put to the
vote of the country, no people in the world would wish their future
monarch to be a bigamist!”

“How you stick to a word and a phrase!” exclaimed the King irritably;
“The morganatic rule does away with the very idea of bigamy!”

“How do you prove it, Sir?” queried the Prince. “Bigamy is the act of
contracting a second marriage while the first partner is alive. It is
punished severely in commoners;--why should Royalty escape?”

The King began to laugh. This boy was developing ‘discursive
philosophies’ such as his own old tutor had abhorred.

“Upon my life, I do not know, Humphry!” he declared; “You must ask the
departed shades of those who made themselves responsible for kingship
in the first place. Personally, I do not come under the law. I have only
married once myself!”

His son looked full at him;--and the intensity of that look affected
and unsteadied his usual calm nerves. But he was not one to shirk an
unpleasant suggestion.

“You would say, Humphry, if your filial respect permitted you, that my
one marriage has been amplified in various other ways. Perfectly true!
When women lie down and ask you to walk over them, you do it if you are
a man and a king! When, on the contrary, women show you that they do
not care whether you are royal or the reverse, and despise you more than
admire you, you run after them for all you are worth! At least I do! I
always have done so. And, to a certain extent, it has been amusing. But
the limit is reached. I am growing old!” Here he took up the cigar he
had thrown aside when his son had first startled him by the announcement
of his marriage, and relighting it, began to smoke peaceably. “I am, as
I say, growing old. I have never found what is called love. You have--or
think you have! Enjoy your dream, Humphry--but--take my advice and go
abroad! See whether travel does not work a change in you or,--in her!”
 He paused a moment, and while the Prince still regarded him fixedly,
added; “Will you tell the Queen?”

“I will leave you to tell her, Sir, with your permission;” replied the
Prince; “I cannot expect her sympathy.”

“Von Glauben, then, is the only person you have trusted with your

“Von Glauben was no party to my marriage, Sir. I was married fully three
months before I told him. He was greatly vexed and troubled,--but when
he saw Gloria, he was glad.”

“Glad!” echoed the King; “For what reason, pray?”

“I am afraid, Sir,” said the young man with a smile, “his gladness was
but a part of his science! He said it was better for a prince to wed
a healthy and beautiful commoner, than the daughter of a hundred
scrofulous kings!”

With a movement of intense indignation, the monarch sprang up from the
chair in which he had just seated himself.

“Now, by Heaven!” he exclaimed; “Von Glauben goes too far! He shall
suffer for this!”

“Why?” queried the Prince calmly; “You know that what he says is
perfectly true. True? Why, there is scarcely a Royal house in the world
save our own, without its hereditary curse of disease or insanity.
We pay more attention to the breeding of horses than the breeding of

The plain candour and veracity of the statement, left no room for

“You have seen Gloria,” went on the Prince; “You know she is the most
beautiful creature your eyes ever rested upon! Von Glauben told me you
were stricken dumb, and almost stupefied at sight of her----”

“Damn Von Glauben!” said the King.

His son smiled ever so slightly, but continued.

“You have made yourself acquainted with her history--”

“Yes!” said the King; “That she is a foundling picked up from the sea--a
castaway from a wreck!--no one knows who her father and mother were, and
yet you, in your raving madness and folly of love, would make her Crown
Princess and future Queen!”

The Prince went on unheedingly.

“She is beautiful--and the simple method of her bringing up has left her
unspoilt and innocent. She is ignorant of the world’s ways--because--”
 and his voice sank to a reverential tenderness--“God’s ways are more
familiar to her!” He paused, but his father was silent; he therefore
went on. “She is healthy, strong, simple and true,--more fit for a
throne, if such were her destiny, than any daughter of any Royal house I
know of. Happy the nation that could call such a woman their Queen!”

“As I have already told you, Humphry,” returned the King, “you are in
love!--with the love of a headstrong, passionate boy for a beautiful and
credulous girl. I do not propose to discuss the subject further. You are
willing to go abroad, you tell me,--then make your preparations at once.
I will select one or two necessary companions for you, and you can start
when you please. I would let Von Glauben accompany you, but--for the
present--I cannot well spare him. Your intended voyage must be made
public, and in this way nothing will be known of the manner in which
you have privately chosen to make a fool of yourself. I will explain
the situation to the Queen;--but beyond that I shall say nothing. Let me
know by to-morrow how soon you can arrange your departure.”

The Prince bowed composedly, and was about to retire, when the King
called him back.

“You do not ask my pardon, Humphry, for the offence you have committed?”

The young man flushed, and bit his lip.

“Sir, I cannot ask pardon for what I do not consider is wrong! I have
married the woman I love; and I intend to be faithful to her. You
married a woman you did not love--and the result, according to my views,
and also according to my experience of my mother and yourself, is
more or less regrettable. If I have offended you, I sincerely beg your
forgiveness, but you must first point out the nature of the offence.
Surely, it must be more gratifying to you to know that I prefer to be a
man of honour than a common seducer?”

The King looked at him, and his own eyes fell under his son’s clear
candid gaze.

“Enough! You may go!” he said briefly.

The door opened and closed again;--he was gone.

The King, left alone, fixed his eyes on the sparkling line of the sea,
brightly blue, and the flower-bordered terrace in front of him. Life was
becoming interesting;--the long burdensome monotony of years had changed
into a variety of contrasting scenes and colours,--and in taking up the
problem of human life as lived by others, more than as lived by himself,
he had entered on a new path, untrodden by conventionalities, and
leading, he knew not whither. But, having begun to walk in it, he was
determined to go on--and to use each new experience as a guide for the
rest of his actions. His son’s marriage with a commoner--one who indeed
was not only a commoner but a foundling--might after all lead to good,
if properly taken in hand,--and he resolved not to make the worst of it,
but rather to let things take their own natural course.

“For love,” he said to himself somewhat bitterly, “in nine cases out of
ten ends in satiety,--marriage, in separation by mutual consent! Let
the boy travel for a year, and forget, if he can, the fair face which
captivates him,--for it is a fair face,--and more than that,--I honestly
believe it is the reflex of a fair soul!”

His eyes grew dreamy and absorbed; away on the horizon a little white
cloud, shaped like the outspread wings of a dove, hovered over the sea
just where The Islands lay.

“Yes! Let him see new scenes--strange lands, and varying customs; let
him hear modern opinions of life, instead of reading the philosophies of
Aurelius and Epictetus, and the poetry written ages ago by the dead wild
souls of the past;--and so he will forget--and all will be well!
While for Gloria herself,--and the old revolutionist Ronsard--we shall
doubtless find ways and means of consolation for them both!”

Thus he mused,--yet in the very midst of his thoughts the echoing memory
of a golden voice, round and rich with delight and triumph rang in his

  “My King crown’d me!
    And I and he
  Are one till the world shall cease to be!”



“I have discovered the secret of successful living, Professor,” said
the King, a couple of hours later as, walking in one of the many thickly
wooded alleys of the palace grounds, he greeted Von Glauben, who had
been told to meet him there, and who had been waiting the Royal approach
with some little trepidation,--“It is this,--to draw a straight line of
conduct, and walk in it, regardless of other people’s crooked curves!”

The Professor looked at him, and saw nothing but kindliness expressed
in his eyes and smile,--therefore, taking courage he replied without

“Truly, Sir, if a man is brave enough to do this, he may conquer
everything but death, and even face this last enemy without much alarm.”

“I agree with you!” replied the monarch; “And Humphry’s line has
certainly been straight enough, taken from the point of his own
perspective! Do you not think so?”

Von Glauben hesitated a moment--then spoke out boldly.

“Sir, as you now know all, I will frankly assure you that I think
his Royal Highness has behaved honourably, and as a true man! Society
pardons a prince for seducing innocence--but whether it will pardon him
for marrying it, is quite another question! And that is why I repeat,
he has behaved well. Though when he first told me he was married, I
suffered a not-to-be-explained misery and horror; ‘For,’ said he--‘I
have married an angel!’ Which naturally I thought (deducting a certain
quantity of the enthusiasm of youth for the statement) meant that he had
married a bouncing housemaid with large hands and feet. ‘That is well,’
I told him--‘For divorce is now made easy in this country, and you can
easily return the celestial creature to her native element!’ At which
I resigned myself to hear some oaths, for violent expletives are
always refreshing to the masculine brain-matter. But his Royal Highness
maintained the good breeding which always distinguishes him, and merely
proceeded with his strange confession of romance,--which, as you, Sir,
are now happily aware of it, I need not recapitulate. Your knowledge of
the matter has lifted an enormous burden from my mind; Ach! Enormous!”

He gave a deep breath, and drew himself up to his full height--squared
his shoulders, and then, as it were stood firm, as though waiting

The King laughed good-naturedly, and took him by the arm.

“Tell me all you know, Von Glauben!” he said; “I am acquainted with the
gist and upshot of the matter,--namely, Humphry’s marriage; but I am
wholly ignorant of the details.”

“There is little to tell, Sir,” said Von Glauben;--“Of the Prince’s
constant journeyings to The Islands we were all aware long ago; but
the cause of those little voyages was not so apparent. To avoid the
suspicion with which a Royal visitor would be viewed, the Prince, it
appears, assumed to be merely one of the junior officers on his own
yacht,--and under this disguise became known and much liked by the
Islanders generally. He fell in love at first sight with the beautiful
girl your Majesty saw yesterday--Gloria; ‘Glory-of-the-Sea’--as I
sometimes call her, and they were married by the old parish priest in
the little church among the rocks--the very church where, as her adopted
father, Ronsard, tells me, he heard the choristers singing a ‘Gloria in
Excelsis’ on the day he found her cast up on the shore.”

“Well!” said the King, seeing that he paused; “And is the marriage
legal, think you?”

“Perfectly so, Sir!” replied Von Glauben; “Registered by law, as well
as sanctified by church. The Prince tells me he married her in his
own name,--but no one,--not even the poor little priest who married
them,--knew the surname of your Majesty’s distinguished house, and I
believe,--nay I am sure--” here he heaved an unconscious sigh, “it will
bring a tragedy to the girl when she knows the true rank and title of
her husband!”

“How came _you_ to make her acquaintance? Tell me everything!--you know
I will not misjudge you!”

“Indeed, Sir, I hope you will not!” returned the Professor
earnestly;--“For there was never a man more hopelessly involved than
myself in the net prepared for me by this romantic lover, who has
the honour to be your son. In the first place, directly I heard this
confession of marriage, I was for telling you at once; but as he had
bound me by my word of honour before he began the story, to keep his
confidence sacred, I was unable to disburden myself of it. He said he
wanted to secure me as a friend for his wife. ‘That,’ said I firmly, ‘I
will never be! For there will be difficulty when all is known; and if
it comes to a struggle between a pretty fishwife and the good of a
king--ach!--mein Gott!--I am not for the fishwife!’”

The King smiled; and Von Glauben went on.

“Well, he assured me she was not a fishwife. I said ‘What is she then?’
‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘she is an angel! You will come and see her;
you will pass as an old friend of her sailor husband; and when you have
seen her you will understand!’ I was angry, and said I would not go with
him; but afterwards I thought perhaps it would be best if I did, as I
might be able to advise him to some wise course. So I accompanied him
one afternoon in the past autumn to The Islands (he was married last
summer) and saw the girl,--the ‘Glory-of-the-Sea.’ And I must confess
to your Majesty, my heart went down before her beauty and innocence in
absolute worship! And if you were to kill me for it, I cannot help it--I
am now as devoted to her service as I am to yours!”

“Good!” said the King gently;--“Then you must help me to console her in
Humphry’s absence!”

Professor Von Glauben’s eyes opened widely, with a vague look of alarm.

“In his absence, Sir?”

“Yes! I am sending him abroad. He is quite willing to go, he tells me.
His departure will make all things perfectly easy for us. The girl must
remain in her present ignorance as to the position of the man she has
really married. The sailor she supposes him to be will accompany the
Prince on his yacht,--and it must be arranged that he never returns! She
is young, and will easily be consoled!”

Von Glauben was silent.

“_You_ will not betray the Prince’s identity with her lover,” went
on the King, “and no one else knows it. In fact, you will be the very
person best qualified to tell her of his departure, and--in due time, of
his fictitious death!”

They were walking slowly under the heavy shadow of crossed ilex
boughs,--and Von Glauben came to a dead halt.

“Sir,” he said, in rather unsteady accents; “With every respect for your
Majesty, I must altogether decline the task of breaking a pure heart,
and ruining a young life! Moreover, if your Majesty, after all your
recent experiences,”--and he laid great emphasis on these last words,
“thinks there is any ultimate good to be obtained by keeping up a lie,
and practising a fraud, the lessons we have learned in these latter days
are wholly unavailing! You began this conversation with me by speaking
of a straight line of conduct, which should avoid other people’s crooked
curves. Is this your Majesty’s idea of a straight line?”

He spoke with unguarded vehemence, but the King was not offended. On the
contrary, he looked whimsically interested and amused.

“My dear Von Glauben, you are not usually so inconsistent! Humphry
himself has kept up a lie, and practised a fraud on the girl----”

“Only for a time!” interrupted the Professor hastily.

“Oh, we all do it ‘only for a time.’ Everything--life itself--is ‘only
for a time!’ You know as well as I do that this absurd marriage can
never be acknowledged. I explained as much to Humphry; I told him he
could guard himself by the morganatic law, provided he would consent
to a Royal alliance immediately--but the young fool swore it would be
bigamy, and took himself off in a huff.”

“He was right! It would be bigamy;--it _is_ bigamy!”, said the
Professor; “Call it by what name you like in Court parlance, the act of
having two wives is forbidden in this country. The wisest men have come
to the conclusion that one wife is enough!”

“Humphry’s ideas being so absolutely childish,” went on the King, “it is
necessary for him to expand them somewhat. That is why I shall send
him abroad. You have a strong flavour of romance in your Teutonic
composition, Von Glauben,--and I can quite sympathise with your
admiration for the ‘Glory-of-the-Sea’ as you call her. From a man’s
point of view, I admire her myself. But I know nothing of her moral or
mental qualities; though from her flat refusal to give me her husband’s
name yesterday, I judge her as wilful,--but most pretty women are that.
And as for my line of conduct, it will, I assure you, be perfectly
‘straight,’--in the direction of my duty as a King,--apart altogether
from sentimental considerations! And in this, as in other things,--”
 he paused and emphasised his words--“I rely on your honour and faithful

The Professor made no reply. He was, thinking deeply. With a kind of
grim scorn, he pointed out to himself that his imagination was held
captive by the mental image of a woman, whose eyes had expressed trust
in him; and almost as tenderly as the lover in Tennyson’s ‘Maud’ he
could have said that he ‘would die, To save from some slight shame one
simple girl.’ Presently he braced himself up, and confronted his Royal

“Sir,” he said very quietly, yet with perfect frankness; “Your Majesty
must have the goodness to pardon me if I say you must not rely upon
me at all in this matter! I will promise nothing, except to be true to
myself and my own sense of justice. I have given up my own country for
conscience’ sake--I can easily give up another which is not my own, for
the same reason. In the matter of this marriage or ‘mésalliance’ as the
worldly would call it,--I have nothing whatever to do. While the Prince
asked me to keep his secret, I kept it. Now that he has confided it to
your Majesty, I am relieved and satisfied; and shall not in any way, by
word or suggestion, interfere with your Majesty’s intentions. But, at
the same time, I shall not assist them! For as regards the trusting
girl who has been persuaded that she has won a great love and complete
happiness for all her life,--I have sworn to be her friend;--and I must
respectfully decline to be a party to any further deception in her case.
Knowing what I know of her character, which is a pure and grand one, I
think it would be far better to tell her the whole truth, and let her
be the arbiter of her own destiny. She will decide well and truly, I am

He ceased; the King was silent. Von Glauben studied his face

“You are a thinker, Sir,--a student and a philosopher. You are not
one of those kings who treat their kingship as a license for the free
exercise of intolerant humours and vicious practices. Were you no
monarch at all, you would still be a sane and thoughtful man. Take my
humble advice, Sir--for once put the unspoilt nature of a pure woman to
the test, and find out what a grand creature God intended woman to
be, in her pristine simplicity and virtue! Send for Gloria to this
Court;--tell her the truth!--and await the result with confidence!”

There was a pause. The King walked slowly up and down; at last he spoke.

“You may be right! I do not say you are wrong. I will consider your
suggestion. Certainly it would be the straightest course. But first a
complete explanation is due to the Queen. She must know all,--and if
her interest can be awakened by such a triviality as her son’s
love-affair--” and he smiled somewhat bitterly,--“perhaps she may agree
to your plan as the best way out of the difficulty. In any case”--here
he extended his hand which the Professor deferentially bowed over--“I
respect your honesty and plain speaking, Professor! I have reason to
approve highly of sincerity,--wherever and however I find it,--at the
present crisis of affairs. For the moment, I will only ask you to be on
your guard with Humphry;--and say as little as possible to him on the
subject of his marriage or intended departure from this country.
Keep everything as quiet as may be;--till--till we find a clear and
satisfactory course to follow, which shall inflict as little pain as
possible on all concerned. And now, a word with you on other matters.”

They walked on side by side, through the garden walks and ways,
conversing earnestly,--and by and by penetrating into the deeper
recesses of the outlying woodlands, were soon hidden among the crossing
and recrossing of the trees. Had they kept to the open ground, from
whence the wide expanse of the sea could be viewed from end to end,
their discussions might perhaps have been interrupted, and themselves
somewhat startled,--for they would have seen Prince Humphry’s yacht,
with every inch of canvas stretched to the utmost, flying rapidly before
the wind like a wild white bird, winging its swift, straight way to the
west where the sun shot down Apollo-like shafts of gold on the gleaming
purple coast-line of The Islands.



It is not easy to trace the causes why it so often happens that
semi-educated, and more or less shallow men rise suddenly to a height
of brilliant power and influence in the working of a country’s policy.
Sometimes it is wealth that brings them to the front; sometimes the
strong support secretly given to them by others in the background,
who have their own motives to serve, and who require a public
representative; but more often still it is sheer unscrupulousness,--or
what may be described as ‘walking over’ all humane and honest
considerations,--that places them in triumph at the helm of affairs. To
rise from a statesman to be a Secretary of State augurs a certain
amount of brain, though not necessarily of the highest quality; while it
certainly betokens a good deal of dash and impudence. Carl Pérousse, one
of the most prominent among the political notabilities of Europe, had
begun his career by small peddling transactions in iron and timber
manufactures; he came of a very plebeian stock, and had received only
a desultory sort of education, picked up here and there in cheap
provincial schools. But he had a restless, domineering spirit of
ambition. Ashamed of his plebeian origin, and embittered from his
earliest years by a sense of grudge against those who moved in the
highest and most influential circles of the time, the idea was always in
his mind that he would one day make himself an authority over the
very persons, who, in the rough and tumble working-days of his younger
manhood, would not so much as cast him a word or a look. He knew that
the first thing necessary to attain for this purpose was money; and he
had, by steady and constant plod, managed to enlarge and expand all his
business concerns into various, important companies, which he set afloat
in all quarters of the world,--with the satisfactory result that by
the time his years had run well into the forties, he was one of the
wealthiest men in the country. He had from the first taken every
opportunity to insinuate himself into politics; and in exact proportion
to the money he made, so was his success in acquiring such coveted
positions in life as brought with them the masterful control of various
conflicting aims and interests. His individual influence had extended by
leaps and bounds till he had become only secondary in importance to
the Prime Minister himself; and he possessed a conveniently elastic
conscience, which could be stretched at will to suit any party or any
set of principles. In personal appearance he was not prepossessing.
Nature had branded him in her own special way ‘Trickster,’ for those who
cared to search for her trademark. He was tall and thin, with a narrow
head and a deeply-lined, clean-shaven countenance, the cold immovability
of which was sometimes broken up by an unpleasant smile, that merely
widened the pale set lips without softening them, and disclosed a
crooked row of smoke-coloured teeth, much decayed. He had small eyes,
furtively hidden under a somewhat restricted frontal development,--his
brows were narrow,--his forehead ignoble and retreating. But despite a
general badness, or what may be called a ‘smirchiness’ of feature, he
had learned to assume an air of superiority, which by its sheer audacity
prevented a casual observer from setting him down as the vulgarian he
undoubtedly was; and his amazing pluck, boldness and originality in
devising ways and means of smothering popular discontent under various
‘shows’ of apparent public prosperity, was immensely useful to all such
‘statesmen,’ whose statesmanship consisted in making as much money
as possible for themselves out of the pockets of their credulous
countrymen. He was seldom disturbed by opposing influences; and even now
when he had just returned from the palace with the full knowledge that
the King was absolutely resolved on vetoing certain propositions he had
set down in council for the somewhat arbitrary treatment of a certain
half-tributary power which had latterly turned rebellious, he was more
amused than irritated.

“I suppose his Majesty wants to distinguish himself by a melodramatic
_coup d’état_” he said, leaning easily back in his chair, and studying
the tips of his carefully pared and polished finger-nails;--“Poor fool!
I don’t blame him for trying to do something more than walk about his
palace in different costumes at stated intervals,--but he will find his
‘veto’ out of date. We shall put it to the country;--and I think I can
answer for that!”

He smiled, as one who knows where and how to secure a triumph, and his
equanimity was not disturbed in the least by the unexpected arrival of
the Premier, who was just then announced, and who, coming in his turn
from the King’s diplomatic reception, had taken the opportunity to call
and see his colleague on his way home.

“You seem fatigued, Marquis!” he said, as, rising to receive his
distinguished guest, he placed a chair for him opposite his own. “Was
his Majesty’s conversazione more tedious than usual?”

Lutera looked at him with a dubious air.

“No!--it was brief enough so far as I was immediately concerned,” he
replied;--“I do not suppose I stayed more than twenty minutes in
the Throne-room altogether. I understand you have been told that our
proposed negotiations are to be vetoed?”

Pérousse smiled.

“I have been told--yes!--but I have been told many things which I do
not believe! The King certainly has the right of veto; but he dare not
exercise it.”

“Dare not?” echoed the Marquis--“From his present unconstitutional
attitude it seems to me he dare do anything!”

“I tell you he dare not!” repeated Pérousse quietly;--“Unless he wishes
to lose the Throne. I daresay if it came to that, we should get on quite
as well--if not better--with a Republic!”

Lutera looked at him with an amazed and reluctant admiration.

“_You_ talk of a Republic? You,--who are for ever making the most loyal
speeches in favour of the monarchy?”

“Why not?” queried Pérousse lightly;--“If the monarchy does not do as it
is told, whip it like a naughty child and send it to bed. That has been
easily arranged before now in history!”

The Marquis sat silent,--thinking, or rather brooding heavily. Should
he, or should he not unburden himself of certain fears that oppressed
his mind? He cleared his throat of a troublesome huskiness and began,--

“If the purely business transactions in which you are engaged----”

“And you also,” put in Pérousse placidly.

The Premier shifted his position uneasily and went on.

“I say, if the purely business transactions of this affair were publicly

“As well expect Cabinet secrets to be posted on a hoarding in the open
thoroughfare!” said Pérousse. “What afflicts you with these sudden pangs
of distrust at your position? You have taken care to provide for all
your own people! What more can you desire?”

Lutera hesitated; then he said slowly:--

“I think there is only one thing for me to do,--and that is to send in
my resignation at once!”

Carl Pérousse raised himself a little out of his chair, and opened his
narrow eyes.

“Send in your resignation!” he echoed; “On what grounds? Do me the
kindness to remember, Marquis, that I am not yet quite ready to take
your place!”

He smiled his disagreeable smile,--and the Marquis began to feel

“Do not be too sure that you will ever have it to take,” he said with
some acerbity; “If the King should by any means come to know of your
financial deal----”

“You seem to be very suddenly afraid of the King!” interrupted Pérousse;
“Or else strange touches of those catch-word ideals ‘Loyalty’ and
‘Patriotism’ are troubling your mind! You speak of _my_ financial
deal,--is not yours as important? Review the position;--it is simply
this;--for years and years the Ministry have been speculating in office
matters,--it is no new thing. Sometimes they have lost, and sometimes
they have won; their losses have been replaced by the imposition of
taxes on the people,--their gains they have very wisely said nothing
about. In these latter days, however, the loss has been considerably
more than the gain. ‘Patriotism,’ as stocks, has gone down. ‘Honour’
will not pay the piper. We cannot increase taxation just at present; but
by a war, we can clear out some of the useless population, and invest in
contracts for supplies. The mob love fighting,--and every small victory
won, can be celebrated in beer and illuminations, to expand what is
called ‘the heart of the People.’ It is a great ‘heart,’ and always
leaps to strong drink,--which is cheap enough, being so largely
adulterated. The country we propose to subdue is rich,--and both you and
I have large investments of land there. With the success which our arms
are sure to obtain, we shall fill not only the State coffers (which have
been somewhat emptied by our predecessors’ peculations), but our own
coffers as well. The King ‘vetoes’ the war; then let us hear what the
People say! Of course we must work them up first; and then get their
verdict while they are red-hot with patriotic excitement. The Press,
ordered by Jost, can manage that! Put it to the country; (through
Jost);--but do not talk of resigning when we are on the brink of
success! _I_ will carry this thing through, despite the King’s ‘veto’!”

“Wait!” said the Marquis, drawing his chair closer to Pérousse, and
speaking in a low uneasy tone; “You do not know all! There is some
secret agency at work against us; and, among other things, I fear that
a foreign spy has been inadvertently allowed to learn the mainspring of
our principal moves. Listen, and judge for yourself!”

And he related the story of David Jost’s midnight experience, carefully
emphasising every point connected with his own signet-ring. As he
proceeded with the narration, Pérousse’s face grew livid,--once or twice
he clenched his hand nervously, but he said nothing till he had heard

“Your ring, you say, had never left the King’s possession?”

“So the King himself assured me, this very afternoon.”

“Then someone must have passed off an imitation signet on David Jost,”
 continued Pérousse meditatively. “What name did the spy give?”

“Pasquin Leroy.”

Carl Pérousse opened a small memorandum book, and carefully wrote the
name down within it.

“Whatever David Jost has said, David Jost alone is answerable for!”
 he then said calmly--“A Jew may be called a liar with impunity, and
whatever a Jew has asserted can be flatly denied. Remember, he is in our

“I doubt if he will consent to be made the scapegoat in this affair,”
 said Lutera; “Unless we can make it exceptionally to his advantage;--he
has the press at his command.”

“Give him a title!” returned Pérousse contemptuously; “These Jew
press-men love nothing better!”

The Marquis smiled somewhat sardonically.

“Jost, with a patent of nobility would cut rather an extraordinary
figure!” he said; “Still he would probably make good use of
it,--especially if he were to start a newspaper in London! They would
accept him as a great man there!”

Pérousse gave a careless nod; his thoughts were otherwise occupied.

“This Pasquin Leroy has gone to Moscow?”

“According to his own words, he was leaving this morning.”

“I daresay that statement is a blind. I should not at all wonder if he
is still in the city. I will get an exact description of him from Jost,
and set Bernhoff on his track.”

“Do not forget,” said the Marquis impressively, “that he told Jost in
apparently the most friendly and well-meaning manner possible, that the
King had discovered the whole plan of our financial campaign. He even
reported _me_ as being ready to resign in consequence----”

“Which apparently you are!” interpolated Pérousse with some sarcasm.

“I certainly have my resignation in prospect,” returned Lutera
coldly--“And, so far, this mysterious spy has seemingly probed my
thoughts. If he is as correct in his report concerning the King, it is
impossible to say what may be the consequence.”

“Why, what can the King do?” demanded Pérousse impatiently, and with
scorn for the vacillating humour of his companion; “Granted that he knew
everything from the beginning----”

“Including your large land purchases and contract concessions in the
very country you propose war with,” put in the Marquis,--“Say that he
knew you had resolved on war, and had already started a company for the
fabrication of the guns and other armaments, out of which you get the
principal pickings--what then?”

“What then?” echoed Pérousse defiantly--“Why nothing! The King is as
powerless as a target in a field, set up for arrows to be aimed at! He
dare not divulge a State secret; he has no privilege of interference
with politics; all he can do is to ‘lead’ fashionable society--a poor
business at best--and at present his lead is not particularly apparent.
The King must do as We command!”

He rose and paced up and down with agitated steps.

“To-day, when he told me he had resolved to ‘veto’ my propositions, I
accepted his information without any manifestation of surprise. I merely
said it would have to be stated in the Senate, and that reasons would
have to be given. He agreed, and said that he himself would proclaim
those reasons. I told him it was impossible!”

“And what was his reply?” asked the Marquis.

“His reply was as absurd as his avowed intention. ‘Hitherto it has been
impossible,’ he said; ‘But in Our reign we shall make it possible!’ He
declined any further conversation with me, referring me to you and our
chief colleagues in the Cabinet.”


“Well! I pay no more attention to a King’s sudden caprice than I do to
the veering of the wind! He will alter his mind in a few days, when the
exigency of the matters in hand becomes apparent to him. In the same
way, he will revoke his decision about that grant of land to the
Jesuits. He must let them have their way.”

“What benefit do we get by favouring the Jesuits?” asked Lutera.

“Jost gets a thousand a year for putting flattering notices of the
schools, processions, festivals and such nonsense in his various
newspapers; and our party secures the political support of the Vatican
in Europe,--which just now is very necessary. The Pope must give his
Christian benediction not only to our Educational system, but also to
the war!”

“Then the King has set himself in our way already, even in this matter?”

“He has! Quite unaccountably and very foolishly. But we shall persuade
him still to be of our opinion. The ass that will not walk must be
beaten till he gallops! I have no anxiety whatever on any point; even
the advent of Jost’s spy, with an imitation of your signet on his finger
appears to me quite melodramatic, and only helps to make the general
situation more interesting,--to me at least;--I am only sorry to see
that you allow yourself to be so much concerned over these trifles!”

“I have my family to think of,” said the Marquis slowly; “My reputation
as a statesman, and my honour as a minister are both at stake.” Pérousse
smiled oddly, but said nothing. “If in any way my name became a subject
of popular animadversion, it would entirely ruin the position I believe
I have attained in history. I have always wished,--” and there was a
tinge of pathos in his voice--“my descendants to hold a certain pride in
my career!”

Pérousse looked at him with grim amusement.

“It is a curious and unpleasant fact that the ‘descendants’ of these
days do not care a button for their ancestors,” he said; “They generally
try to forget them as fast as possible. What do the descendants of
Robespierre, (if there are any), care about him? The descendants of
Wellington? The descendants of Beethoven or Lord Byron? Among the many
numerous advantages attending the world-wide fame of Shakespeare is that
he has left no descendants. If he had, his memory would have been more
vulgarised by _them,_ than by any Yankee kicker at his grave! One of the
most remarkable features of this progressive age is the cheerful ease
with which sons forget they ever had fathers! I am afraid, Marquis, you
are not likely to escape the common doom!”

Lutera rose slowly, and prepared to take his departure.

“I shall call a Cabinet Council for Monday,” he said; “This is Friday.
You will find it convenient to attend?”

Pérousse, rising at the same time, assented smilingly.

“You will see things in a better and clearer light by then,” he said.
“Rely on me! I have not involved you thus far with any intention of
bringing you to loss or disaster. Whatever befalls you in this affair
must equally befall me; we are both in the same boat. We must carry
things through with a firm hand, and show no hesitation. As for the
King, his business is to be a Dummy; and as Dummy he must remain.”

Lutera made no reply. They shook hands,--not over cordially,--and
parted; and as soon as Pérousse heard the wheels of the Premier’s
carriage grinding away from his outer gate, he applied himself
vigorously to the handle of one of the numerous telephone wires fitted
up near his desk, and after getting into communication with the quarter
he desired, requested General Bernhoff, Chief of the Police, to attend
upon him instantly. Bernhoff’s headquarters were close by, so that he
had but to wait barely a quarter of an hour before that personage,--the
same who had before been summoned to the presence of the

To him Pérousse handed a slip of paper, on which he had written the
words ‘Pasquin Leroy.’

“Do you know that name?” he asked.

General Bernhoff looked at it attentively. Only the keenest and closest
observer could have possibly detected the slight flicker of a smile
under the stiff waxed points of his military moustache, as he read it.
He returned it carefully folded.

“I fancy I have heard it!” he said cautiously; “In any case, I shall
remember it.”

“Good! There is a man of that name in this city; trace him if you
can! Take this note to Mr. David Jost”--and while he spoke he hastily
scrawled a few lines and addressed them--“and he will give you an
exact personal description of him. He is reported to have left for
Moscow,--but I discredit that statement. He is a foreign spy, engaged,
we believe, in the work of taking plans of our military defences,--he
must be arrested, and dealt with rigorously at once. You understand?”

“Perfectly,” replied Bernhoff, accepting the note handed to him; “If he
is to be discovered, I shall not fail to discover him!”

“And when you think you are on the track, let me have information at
once,” went on Pérousse; “But be well on your guard, and let no one
learn the object of your pursuit. Keep your own counsel!”

“I always do!” returned Bernhoff bluntly. “If I did not there might be

Pérousse looked at him sharply, but seeing the wooden-like impassiveness
of his countenance, forced a smile.

“There might indeed!” he said; “Your tact and discretion, General,
do much to keep the city quiet. But this affair of Pasquin Leroy is a
private matter.”

“Distinctly so!” agreed Bernhoff quietly; “I hold the position

He shortly afterwards withdrew, and Carl Pérousse, satisfied that he had
at any rate taken precautions to make known the existence of a spy in
the city, if not to secure his arrest, turned to the crowding business
on his hands with a sense of ease and refreshment. He might not have
felt quite so self-assured and complacent, had he seen the worthy
Bernhoff smiling broadly to himself as he strolled along the street,
with the air of one enjoying a joke, the while he murmured,--

“Pasquin Leroy,--engaged in taking plans of the military defences--is
he? Ah!--a very dangerous amusement to indulge in! Engaged in taking
plans!--Ah!--Yes!--Very good,--very good; excellent! Do I know the
name? Yes! I fancy I might have heard it! Oh, yes, very good
indeed--excellent! And this spy is probably still in the city?
Yes!--Probably! Yes--I should imagine it quite likely!”

Still smiling, and apparently in the best of humours with himself
and the world at large, the General continued his easy stroll by the
sea-fronted ways of the city, along the many picturesque terraces,
and up flights of marble steps built somewhat in the fashion of the
prettiest corners of Monaco, till he reached the chief promenade and
resort of fashion, which being a broad avenue running immediately
under and in front of the King’s palace facing the sea, was in the late
sunshine of the afternoon crowded with carriages and pedestrians. Here
he took his place with the rest, saluting a fellow officer here, or a
friend there,--and stood bareheaded with the rest of the crowd, when
a light gracefully-shaped landau, drawn by four greys, and escorted
by postillions in the Royal liveries, passed like a triumphal car,
enshrining the cold, changeless and statuesque beauty of the Queen,
upon whom the public were never weary of gazing. She was a curiosity to
them--a living miracle in her unwithering loveliness; for, apparently
unmoved by emotion herself, she roused all sorts of emotions in others.
Bernhoff had seen her a thousand times, but never without a sense of new

“Always the same Sphinx!” he thought now, with a slight frown shading
the bluff good-nature of his usual expression; “She is a woman who
will face Death as she faces Time,--with that cold smile of hers which
expresses nothing but scorn of all life’s little business!”

He proceeded meditatively on his way to the palace itself, where, on
demand, he was at once admitted to the private apartments of the King.



Silver-white glamour of the moon, and velvet darkness of deep branching
foliage held the quiet breadth of The Islands between them. Low on the
shore the fantastic shapes of one or two tall cliffs were outlined black
on the fine sparkling sand,--tiny waves rose from the bosom of the calm
sea, and cuddling together in baby ripples made bubbles of their crests,
and broke here and there among the pebbles with low gurgles of laughter,
and in the warm silence of the southern night the nightingales began to
tune up their delicate fluty voices with delicious tremors and pauses in
the trying of their song. The under-scent of hidden violets among moss
flowed potently upon the quiet air, mingled with strong pine-odours and
the salt breath of the gently heaving sea,--and all the land seemed as
lonely and as fair as the fabled Eden might have been, when the first
two human mated creatures knew it as their own. To every soul that loves
for the first time, the vision of that Lost Paradise is granted; to
every man and woman who know and feel the truth of the divine passion is
vouchsafed a flashing gleam of glory from that Heaven which gives them
to each other. For the voluptuary--for the animal man,--who like his
four-footed kindred is only conscious of instinctive desire, this pure
expansion of the heart and ennobling of the thought is as a sealed
book,--a never-to-be-divulged mystery of joy, which, because he cannot
experience it, he is unable to believe in. It is a glory-cloud in
which the privileged ones are ‘caught up and received out of sight.’ It
transfuses the roughest elements into immortal influences,--it colours
the earth with fairer hues, and fills the days with beauty; every hour
is a gem of sweet thought set in the dreaming soul, and the lover, at
certain times of rapt ecstasy, would smile incredulously were he told
that anyone living could be unhappy. For love goes back to the beginning
of things,--to the time when the world was new. It has its birth in that
primeval light when ‘the morning stars sang together, and all the
sons of God shouted for joy.’ If it is real, deep, passionate and
disinterested love, it sees no difficulties and knows no disillusions.
It is a sufficient assurance of God to make life beautiful. But in these
days of the eld-time of nations, when all things are being mixed and
prepared for casting into a new mould of world-formation, where we and
our civilizations are not, and shall not be,--any more than the Egyptian
Rameses is part of us now,--love in its pristine purity, faith and
simplicity, is rare. Very little romance is left to hallow it; and it is
doubtful whether the white moon, swinging like a silver lamp in heaven
above the peaceful Islands, shed her glory anywhere on any such
lovers in the world, as the two who on this fair night of the southern
springtime, with arms entwined round each other, moved slowly up and
down on the velvet greensward outside Ronsard’s cottage,--Gloria and her
‘sailor’ husband.

Gloria was happy,--and her happiness made her doubly beautiful. Clad in
her usual attire of white homespun, with her rich hair falling unbound
over her shoulders in girl-fashion, and just kept back by a band of
white coral, she looked like a young goddess of the sea; her lustrous,
starlike eyes gazed up into the tender responsive ones of the handsome
stripling she had so trustfully wedded, and not a shadow of doubt
or fear darkened the heaven of her confidence. She did not know how
beautiful she was,--she did not realise that her body was like one of
the unfettered, graceful and perfectly-proportioned figures of women
left to our wondering reverence by the Greek sculptors,--she had never
thought about herself at all, not even to compare her fair brilliancy
of skin with the bronzed, weather-beaten faces of the fisher-folk among
whom she dwelt. Resting her delicate classic head against the encircling
arm of her lover and lord, her beauty seemed almost unearthly in its
pure transparency of feature, outlined by the silver glimmer of the
moonbeams; and the young man by her side, with his handsome dark head,
tall figure and distinguished bearing, looked the fitting mate for her
fair, blossoming womanhood. No two lovers were ever more ideally matched
in physical perfection; and as they moved slowly to and fro on the soft
dark grass, brushing the dewy scent from hanging rose-boughs that pushed
out inviting tufts of white and pink bloom here and there from the
surrounding foliage, they would have served many a poet for some sweet
idyll, or romance in rhyme, which should hold in its stanzas the magic
of immortality. Yet there was a shade of uneasiness in the minds of
both,--Prince Humphry was more silent than usual, and seemed absorbed
in thought; and Gloria, looking timidly up from time to time at the dark
poetic face of her ‘sailor’ lover, felt with a woman’s quick instinct
that something was troubling him, and remorsefully concluded that she
was to blame,--that he had heard of her having been seen by the King,
and that he was evidently vexed by it. He had arrived that evening
suddenly and unexpectedly; for she and her ‘little father,’ as she
called Réné Ronsard, had just begun their frugal supper, when the Crown
Prince’s yacht swept into the bay and dropped anchor. Half an hour later
he, the much-beloved ‘junior officer’ in the Crown Prince’s service had
appeared at the cottage door, greatly to their delight, for they did not
expect to see him so soon. They had supped together, and then Ronsard
himself had gone to superintend a meeting at a small social club he had
started for the amusement of the fisher-folk, wisely leaving the young
wedded lovers to themselves. And they had for a long time been very
quiet, save for such little words of love as came into tune with the
interchange of caresses,--and after a pause of anxious inward thought,
Gloria ventured on a timid query.

“Dearest,--are you _very_ angry with me?”

He started,--and stopping in his walk, turned the fair face up between
his two hands, as one might lift a rose on its stem, and kissed it

“Angry? How can I ever be angry with you, Sweet? Besides what cause have
I for anger?”

“I thought, perhaps--” murmured Gloria, “that if the Professor told you
what I did yesterday,--when the King came--”

“He did tell me;” and the Prince still gazed down on that heavenly
beauty which was the light of the world to him. “He told me that you
sang;--and that your golden voice was a musical magnet which drew his
Majesty to your feet! I am not surprised,--it was only natural! But
I could have wished it had not happened just yet; however, it has
happened, and we must make the best of it!”

“It was my fault,” said the girl penitently;--“I had the fancy to sing;
and I _would_ sing, though the good Professor told me not to do so!”

The Prince was silent. He was bracing his mind to the inevitable. He had
determined that on this very night Gloria should know the truth. For he
was instinctively certain that if he went abroad, as his father wished
him to do, some means would be taken to remove her altogether from the
country before his return; and his idea was to tell her all, and make
her accompany him on his travels. As his wife, she was bound to obey
him, he argued within himself; she should, she must go with him!
Unconsciously Gloria’s next words supplied him with an opening to the

“Why did you never tell me that the Professor was in the King’s
service?” she asked. “He seemed to know him quite well,--indeed, almost
as a friend!”

“He is the King’s physician,” answered the Prince abruptly; “And,
therefore, he is very greatly in the King’s confidence.”

He walked on, still keeping his arm round her, and seemed not to see the
half-frightened glance she gave him.

“The King’s physician!” she echoed;--“He does not seem a great person at
all,--he is quite a simple old German man!”

Her lover smiled.

“To be physician to the King, my Gloria, is not a very wonderful honour!
It merely implies that the man so chosen is perhaps the ablest fencer
with sickness and death; the greatness is in the simple old German
himself, not in the King’s preference. Von Glauben is a good man.”

“I know it;” said Gloria gently; “He is good,--and very kind. He said
he would always be my friend,--but he was very strange in his manner
yesterday, and almost I was vexed with him. Do you know what he said? He
asked me what I should do if you--my husband, had deceived me? Can you
imagine such a thing?”

Now was the supreme moment. With a violently beating heart the Prince
halted, and putting both arms round her waist, drew her up to him in
such a way that their eyes looked close into each other’s, and their
lips were within kissing touch.

“Yes, my sweetest one! I can imagine such a thing! Such a thing is
possible! Consider it to be true! Consider that I _have_ deceived you!”

She did not move from his clasp, but into her large, lovely trusting
eyes came a look of grief and terror, and her face grew ashy pale.

“In what way?” she whispered faintly; “Tell me! I--I--cannot believe

“Gloria,--Gloria! My love, my darling! Do not tremble so! Do not fear!
I have not deceived you in any evil way,--what I have done was for
your good and mine; but now--now there is no longer any need of
deception,--you may, and _shall_ know all the truth, my wife, my dearest
in the world! You shall know me as I truly am at last!”

She moved restlessly in his strong clasp,--she was trembling from head
to foot, as if her blood was suddenly chilled.

“As you truly are!” she echoed, with pale lips--“Are you not then what I
have believed you to be?”

And she made an effort to withdraw herself entirely from his embrace.
But he held her fast.

“I am your husband, Gloria!” he said, “and you are my wife! Nothing can
alter that; nothing can change our love or disunite our lives. But I am
not the poor naval officer I have represented myself to be!--though I am
glad I adopted such a disguise, because by its aid I wooed and won your
love! I am not in the service of the Crown Prince,--except in so far
as I serve my own needs! Why, how you tremble!”--and he held her
closer--“Do not be afraid, my darling! Lift up your eyes and look at me
with your own sweet trusting look,--do not turn away from me, because
instead of being the Prince’s servant, I am the Prince himself!”

“The Prince!” And with a cry of utter desolation, Gloria wrenched
herself out of his arms, and stood apart, looking at him in wild alarm
and bewilderment. “The Prince! You--you!--my husband! You,--the King’s
son! And you have married _me_!--oh, how cruel of you!--how cruel!--how

Covering her face with her hands, she broke into a low sobbing,--and the
Prince, cut to the heart by her distress, caught her again in his arms.

“Hush, Gloria!” he said, with an accent of authority, though his own
voice was tremulous; “You must not grieve like this! You will break my
heart! Do you not understand? Do you not see that all my life is bound
up in you?--that I give it to you to do what you will with?--that I care
nothing for rank, state or throne without you?--that I will let all the
world go rather than lose you? Gloria, do not weep so!--do not weep!
Every tear of yours is a pang to me! What does it matter whether I am
prince or commoner? I love you!--we love each other!--we are one in the
sight of Heaven!”

He held her passionately in his arms, kissing the soft clusters of hair
that fell against his breast, and whispering all the tenderest words
of endearment he could think of to console and soothe her anguish. By
degrees she grew calmer, and her sobs gradually ceased. Dashing the
tears from her eyes, she looked up,--her face white as marble.

“You must not tell Ronsard!” she said in faint tones that shook with
fear; “He would kill you!”

The Prince smiled indulgently; his only thought was for her, and so long
as he could dry her tears, Ronsard’s rage or pleasure was nothing to

“He would kill you!” repeated Gloria, with wide open tear-wet eyes;
“He hates all kings, in his heart!--and if he knew that you--_you_--my
husband,--were what you say you are;--if he thought you had married me
under a disguise, only to leave me and never to want me any more----”

“Gloria, Gloria!” cried the Prince, in despair; “Why will you say such
things! Never to want you any more! I want you all my life, and every
moment of that life! Gloria, you must listen to me--you must not turn
from me at the very time I need you most! Are you not brave? Are you not
true? Do you not love me?”

With a pathetic gesture she stretched out her hands to him.

“Oh, yes, I love you!” she said; “I love you with all my heart! But you
have deceived me!--my dearest, you have deceived me! And if you had
only told me the truth, I would never,--for your own sake,--have married

“I know that!” said the Prince; “And that is why I determined to win you
under the mask of poverty! Now listen, my Princess and my Queen!--for
you are both! I want all your help--all your love--all your trust! Do
not be afraid of Ronsard; he will, he can do nothing to harm me! You are
my wife, Gloria,--you have promised before God to obey me! I claim your

She stood silent, looking at him,--pale and fair as an ivory statue of
Psyche, seen against the dark background of the heavily-branched trees.
Her mind was stunned and confused; she had not yet grasped the full
consciousness of her position,--but as he spoke, the old primitive
lessons of faith, steadfastness of purpose, and unwavering love and
trust in God, which her adopted father had instilled into her from
childhood, rose and asserted their sway over her startled, but unspoilt

“You need not claim it!” she said, slowly; “It is yours always! I shall
do whatever you tell me, even if you command me to die for your sake!”

With a swift impulsive action, full of grace and spirit, he dropped on
one knee and kissed her hand.

“And so I pledge my faith to my Queen!” he said joyously. “Gloria! my
‘Glory-of-the-Sea’!--you will forgive me for having in this one thing
misled you? Think of me as your sailor lover still!--it is a much harder
thing to be a king’s son than a simple, independent seafarer! Pity me
for my position, and help me to make it endurable! Come now with me down
to that rocky nook on the shore where I first saw you,--and I will tell
you exactly how everything stands,--and how I trust to your love for me
and your courage, to clear away all the difficulties before us. You do
not love me less?”

“I could not love you less!” she replied slowly; “but I cannot think of
you as quite the same!”

A shadow of pain darkened his face.

“Gloria,” he said sadly; “If your love was as great as mine you would

She stood a moment wavering and uncertain; their eyes were riveted
on each other in a strange spiritual attraction--her soft lips were a
little relaxed from their gravity as she steadfastly regarded him. She
was embarrassed, conscious, and very pale; but he drank in gratefully
the wonder and shy worship of those pure eyes,--and waited. Suddenly
she sprang to him and closed her arms about his neck, kissing him with
simple and loving tenderness.

“I do forgive! Oh, I do forgive!” she murmured; “Because I love you, my
darling--because I love you! Whatever you wish I will do for your love’s
sake--believe me!--but I am frightened just now!--it is as if I did not
know you--as if someone had taken you suddenly a long way off! Give me
a little time to recover my courage!--and to know”--here a faint smile
trembled on her beautiful curved mouth--“to know,--and to _feel_,--that
you are still my own!--even though the world may try to part you from
me!--still my very own!”

The warmth of passionate feeling in her face flushed it into a rose-glow
that spread from chin to brow,--and clasping her to his breast, he gave
her the speechless answer that love inscribes on eyes and lips,--then,
keeping his arm tenderly about her, he led her gently into the path
through the pinewood, which wound down to their favourite haunt by the

The moonlight had now increased in brilliancy, and illumined the
landscape with all the opulence, splendour and superabundance of
radiance common to the south,--the air was soft and balmy, and one great
white cloud floating lazily under the silver orb, moved slowly to the
centre of the heavens,--the violet-blue of night falling around it like
an imperial robe of state. The two youthful figures passed under the
pine-boughs, which closed over them odorously in dark arches of shadow,
and wended their slow way down to the seashore, from whence they could
see the Royal yacht lying at anchor, every tapering line of her fair
proportions distinctly outlined against the sky, and all her
masts shining as if they had been washed with silver dew; and
the Heir-Apparent to a throne was,--for once in the history of
Heir-Apparents,--happy--happy in knowing that he was loved as princes
seldom or never are loved,--not for his power, not for his rank, but
simply for himself alone, by one of the most beautiful women in the
world, who,--if she knew neither the ways of a Court, nor the wiles of
fashion,--had something better than either of these,--the sanctity of
truth and the strength of innocence.

Réné Ronsard, coming back from his pleasurable duties as host and
chairman to his fishermen-friends, found the cottage deserted, and
smiled, as he sat himself down in the porch to smoke, and to wait for
the lover’s return.

“What a thing it is to be young!” he sighed, as he gazed meditatively
at the still beauty of the night around him;--“To be young,--and in
love with the right person! Hours go like moments--the grass is never
damp--the air is never cold--there is never time enough to give all the
kisses that are waiting to be given; and life is so beautiful, that we
are almost able to understand why God created the universe! The rapture
passes very quickly, unfortunately--with some people;--but if I ever
prayed for anything--which I do not--I should pray that it might
remain with Gloria! It surely cannot offend the Supreme Being who is
responsible for our existence, to see one woman happy out of all the
tortured millions of them! One exception to the universal rule would not
make much difference! The law that the strong should prey on the weak,
nearly always prevails,--but it is possible to hope and believe that on
rare occasions the strong may be magnanimous!”

He smoked on placidly, considering various points of philosophic
meditation, and by and by fell into a gentle doze. The doze deepened
into a dream which grew sombre and terrible,--and in it he thought
he saw himself standing bareheaded on a raised platform above surging
millions of people who all shouted with one terrific uproar of
unison--“Regicide! Regicide!” He looked down upon his hands, and saw
them red with blood!--he looked up to the heavens, and they were flushed
with the same ominous hue. Blood!--blood!--the blood of kings,--the dust
of thrones!--and he, the cause! Choked and tormented with a parching
thirst, it seemed in the dream that he tried to speak,--and with all
his force he cried out--“For her sake I did it! For her sake!” But
the clamour of the crowd drowned his voice,--and then it was as if the
coldness of death crept slowly over him,--slowly and cruelly, as though
his whole body were being enclosed within an iceberg,--and he saw
Gloria, the child of his love and care, laid out before him dead,--but
robed and crowned like a queen, and placed on a great golden bier of
state, with purple velvet falling about her, and tall candles blazing
at her head and feet. And voices sang in his ears--“Gloria! Gloria in
excelsis Deo!”--mingling with the muffled chanting of priests at some
distant altar; and he thought he made an attempt to touch the royal
velvet pall that draped her beautiful lifeless body, when he was roughly
thrust back by armed men with swords and bayonets who asked him “What do
you here? Are you not her murderer?”--and he cried out wildly “No, no!
Never could I have harmed the child of my love! Never could I hurt a
hair of her head, or cause her an hour’s sorrow! She is all I had in
the world!--I loved her!--I loved her! Let me see her!--let me
touch her!--let me kiss her once again!” And then the scene suddenly
changed,--and it was found that Gloria was not dead at all, but walking
peacefully alone in a garden of flowers, with lilies crowning her,
and all the sunshine about her; and that the golden bier of state had
changed into a ship at sea which was floating, floating westward bearing
some great message to a far country, and that all was well for him and
his darling. The troubled vision cleared from his brain, and his sleep
grew calmer; he breathed more easily, and flitting glimpses of fair
scenes passed before his dreaming eyes,--scenes in some peaceful and
beautiful world, where never a shadow of sorrow or trouble darkened the
quiet contentment of happy and innocent lives. He smiled in his sleep,
and heaved a deep sigh of pleasure,--and so, gently awoke, to feel a
light touch on his shoulder, and to see Gloria standing before him. A
smile was on her face,--the fragrance of the woodlands and the sea clung
about her garments,--she held a few roses in her hand, and there was
something in her whole appearance that struck him as new, commanding,
and more than ever beautiful.

“You have returned alone?” he said wonderingly.

“Yes. I have returned alone! I have much to tell you, dear! Let us go



The large gaunt building, which was dignified by the name of the
‘People’s Assembly Rooms,’ stood in a dim unfashionable square of the
city which had once been entirely devoted to warehouses and storage
cellars. It had originally served a useful purpose in providing
temporary shelter for foreign-made furniture, which was badly
constructed and intrinsically worthless,--but which, being cheaply
imported and showy in appearance, was patronized by some of the upper
middle-classes in preference to goods of their own home workmanship.
Lately, however, the foreign import had fallen to almost less than
nothing; and whether or no this was due to the secret machinations of
Sergius Thord and his Revolutionary Committee, no one would have had
the hardihood to assert. Foreign tradesmen, however, and foreign workmen
generally had certainly experienced a check in their inroads upon
home manufactures, and some of the larger business firms had been so
successfully intimidated as to set up prominent announcements outside
their warehouses to the effect that “Only native workmen need apply.”
 Partly in consequence of the “slump” in foreign goods, the “Assembly
Rooms,” as a mere building had for some time been shut up, and given
over to dust and decay, till the owners of the property decided to
let it out for popular concerts, meetings and dances, and so make some
little money out of its bare whitewashed walls and comfortless ugliness.
The plan had succeeded fairly well, and the place was beginning to be
known as a convenient centre where thousands were wont to congregate, to
enjoy cheap music and cheap entertainment generally. It was a favourite
vantage ground for the disaffected and radical classes of the metropolis
to hold forth on their wrongs, real or imaginary,--and the capacities of
the largest room or hall in the building were put to their utmost
extent to hold the enormous audiences that always assembled to hear the
picturesque, passionate and striking oratory of Sergius Thord.

But there were one or two rare occasions when even Sergius Thord’s
attractions as a speaker were thrown into the background, by the
appearance of that mysterious personality known as Lotys,--concerning
whom a thousand extravagant stories were rife, none of which were true.
It was rumoured among other things as wild and strange, that she was
the illegitimate child of a certain great prince, whose amours were
legion--that she had been thrown out into the street to perish, deserted
as an infant, and that Sergius Thord had rescued her from that impending
fate of starvation and death,--and that it was by way of vengeance for
the treatment of her mother by the Exalted Personage involved, that
she had thrown in her lot with the Revolutionary party, to aid their
propaganda by her intellectual gifts, which were many. She was known to
be very poor,--she lived in cheap rooms in a low quarter of the city;
she was seldom or never seen in the public thoroughfares,--she appeared
to have no women friends, and she certainly mixed in no form of social
intercourse or entertainment. Yet her name was on the lips of the
million, and her influence was felt far beyond the city’s radius.
Even among some of the highest and wealthiest classes of society this
peculiar appellation of “Lotys,” carrying no surname with it, and
spoken at haphazard had the effect of causing a sudden silence, and
the interchange of questioning looks among those who heard it, and who,
without knowing who she was, or what her aims in life really were, voted
her “dangerous.” Those among the superior classes who had by rare
chance seen her, were unanimous in their verdict that she was not
beautiful,--“but!”--and the “but” spoke volumes. She was known
to possess something much less common, and far more potent than
beauty,--and that was a fascinating, compelling spiritual force,
which magnetised into strange submission all who came within its
influence,--and many there were who admitted, though with bated breath
that ‘An’ if she chose’ she could easily become a very great personage

She herself was, or seemed to be, perfectly unconscious of the many
discussions concerning her and her origin. She had her own secret
sorrows,--her sad private history, which she shut close within her own
breast,--but out of many griefs and poverty-stricken days of struggle
and cruel environment, she had educated herself to a wonderful height of
moral self-control and almost stoical rectitude. Her nature was a broad
and grand one, absolutely devoid of pettiness, and full of a strong,
almost passionate sympathy with the wrongs of others,--and she had
formed herself on such firm, heroic lines of courage and truth and
self-respect, that the meaner vices of her sex were absolutely unknown
to her. Neither vanity, nor envy, nor malice, nor spleen disturbed the
calmly-flowing current of her blood,--her soul was absorbed in pity for
human kind, and contemplation of its many woes,--and so living alone,
and studiously apart from the more frivolous world, she had attained a
finely tempered and deeply thoughtful disposition which gave her equally
the courage of the hero and the resignation of the martyr. She had long
put away out of her life all possibility of happiness for herself. She
had, by her unwearying study of the masses of working, suffering men and
women, come to the sorrowful conclusion that real happiness could only
be enjoyed by the extremely young, and the extremely thoughtless,--and
that love was only another name for the selfish and often cruel and
destructive instincts of animal desire. She did not resent these ugly
facts, or passionately proclaim against the gloomy results of life such
as were daily displayed to her,--she was only filled with a profound and
ceaseless compassion for the evils which were impossible to cure.
Her tireless love for the sick, the feeble, the despairing, the
broken-hearted and the dying, had raised her to the height of an angel’s
quality among the very desperately poor and criminal classes;--the
fiercest ruffians of the slums were docile in her presence and obedient
to her command;--and many a bold plan of robbery,--many a wicked
scheme of murder had been altogether foregone and abandoned through the
intervention of Lotys, whose intellectual acumen, swift to perceive the
savage instinct, or motive for crime, was equally swift to point out
its uselessness as a means of satisfying vengeance. No preacher could
persuade a thief of the practical ingloriousness of thieving, as Lotys
could,--and a prison chaplain, remonstrating with an assassin after his
crime, was not half as much use to the State as Lotys, who could induce
such an one to resign his murderous intent altogether, before he had so
much as possessed himself of the necessary weapon. Thousands of people
were absolutely under her moral dominion,--and the power she exercised
over them was so great, and yet so unobtrusive, that had she bidden the
whole city rise in revolt, she would most surely have been obeyed by the
larger and fiercer half of its population.

With the moneyed classes she had nothing in common, though she viewed
them with perhaps more pity than she did the very poor. An overplus of
cash in any one person’s possession that had not been rightfully earned
by the work of brain or body, was to her an incongruity, and a defection
from the laws of the universe;--show and ostentation she despised,--and
though she loved beautiful things, she found them,--as she herself
said,--much more in the everyday provisions of nature, than in the
elaborate designs of art. When she passed the gay shops in the
principal thoroughfares she never paused to look in at the jewellers’
windows,--but she would linger for many minutes studying the beauty of
the sprays of orchids and other delicate blossoms, arranged in baskets
and vases by the leading florists; while,--best delight of all to her,
was a solitary walk inland among the woods, where she could gather
violets and narcissi, and, as she expressed it ‘feel them growing
about her feet.’ She would have been an extraordinary personality as a
man,--as a woman she was doubly remarkable, for to a woman’s gentleness
she added a force of will and brain which are not often found even in
the stronger sex.

Mysterious as she was in her life and surroundings, enough was known of
her by the people at large, to bring a goodly concourse of them to the
Assembly Rooms on the night when she was announced to speak on a subject
of which the very title seemed questionable, namely, “On the Corruption
of the State.” The police had been notified of the impending meeting,
and a few stalwart emissaries of the law in plain clothes mixed with the
in-pouring throng. The crowd, however, was very orderly;--there was
no pushing, no roughness, and no coarse language. All the members of
Sergius Thord’s Revolutionary Committee were present, but they came as
stragglers, several and apart,--and among them Paul Zouche the poet,
was perhaps the most noticeable. He had affected the picturesque in his
appearance;--his hat was of the Rembrandt character, and he had donned
a very much worn, short velveteen jacket, whose dusty brown was relieved
by the vivid touch of a bright red tie. His hair was wild and bushy, and
his eyes sparkled with unwonted brilliancy, as he nodded to one or
two of his associates, and gave a careless wave of the hand to Sergius
Thord, who, entering slowly, and as if with reluctance, took a seat at
the very furthest end of the hall, where his massive figure showed least
conspicuous among the surging throng. Keeping his head down in a pensive
attitude of thought, his eyes were, nevertheless, sharp to see every
person entering who belonged to his own particular following,--and a
ray of satisfaction lighted up his face, as he perceived his latest new
associate, Pasquin Leroy, quietly edge his way through the crowd, and
secure a seat in one of the obscurest and darkest corners of the badly
lighted hall. He was followed by his comrades, Max Graub and Axel
Regor,--and Thord felt a warm glow of contentment in the consciousness
that these lately enrolled members of the Revolutionary Committee were
so far faithful to their bond. Signed and sealed in the blood of
Lotys, they had responded to the magnetism of her name with the prompt
obedience of waves rising to the influence of the moon,--and Sergius,
full of a thousand wild schemes for the regeneration of the People, was
more happy to know them as subjects to her power, than as adherents
to his own cause. He was calmly cognisant of the presence of General
Bernhoff, the well-known Chief of Police;--though he was rendered a
trifle uneasy by observing that personage had seated himself as closely
as possible to the bench occupied by Leroy and his companions. A faint
wonder crossed his mind as to whether the three, in their zeal for the
new Cause they had taken up, had by any means laid themselves open to
suspicion; but he was not a man given to fears; and he felt convinced in
his own mind, from the close personal observation he had taken of Leroy,
and from the boldness of his speech on his enrolment as a member of the
Revolutionary Committee, that, whatever else he might prove to be, he
was certainly no coward.

The hall filled quickly, till by and by it would have been impossible to
find standing room for a child. A student of human nature is never long
in finding out the dominant characteristic of an audience,--whether its
attitude be profane or reverent, rowdy or attentive, and the bearing of
the four or five thousand here assembled was remarkable chiefly for its
seriousness and evident intensity of purpose. The extreme orderliness of
the manner in which the people found and took their seats,--the entire
absence of all fussy movement, fidgeting, staring, querulous changing of
places, whispering or laughter, showed that the crowd were there for
a deeper purpose than mere curiosity. The bulk of the assemblage was
composed of men; very few women were present, and these few were all of
the poor and hard-working classes. No female of even the lower middle
ranks of life, with any faint pretence to ‘fashion,’ would have been
seen listening to “that dreadful woman,”--as Lotys was very often called
by her own sex,--simply because of the extraordinary fascination she
secretly exercised over men. Pasquin Leroy and his companions spoke now
and then, guardedly, and in low whispers, concerning the appearance
and demeanour of the crowd, Max Graub being particularly struck by the
general physiognomy and type of the people present.

“Plenty of good heads!” he said cautiously. “There are thinkers
here--and thinkers are a very dangerous class!”

“There are many people who ‘think’ all their lives and ‘do’ nothing!”
 said Axel Regor languidly.

“True, my friend! But their thought may lead, while, they themselves
remain passive,” joined in Pasquin Leroy sotto-voce;--“It is not at all
impossible that if Lotys bade these five thousand here assembled burn
down the citadel, it would be done before daybreak!”

“I have no doubt at all of that,” said Graub. “One cannot forget that
the Bastille was taken while the poor King Louis XVI. was enjoying
a supper-party and ‘a little orange-flower-water refreshment’ at

Leroy made an imperative sign of silence, for there was a faint stir
and subdued hum of expectation in the crowd. Another moment,--and Lotys
stepped quietly and alone on the bare platform. As she confronted her
audience, a low passionate sound, like the murmur of a rising storm,
greeted her,--a sound that was not anything like the customary applause
or encouragement offered to a public speaker, but that suggested
extraordinary satisfaction and expectancy, which almost bordered on
exultation. Pasquin Leroy, raising his eyes as she entered, was startled
by an altogether new impression of her to that which he had received on
the night he first saw her. Her personality was somehow different--her
appearance more striking, brilliant and commanding. Attired in the same
plain garment of dead white serge in which he had previously seen
her, with the same deep blood-red scarf crossing her left shoulder and
breast,--there was something to-night in this mere costume that seemed
emblematic of a far deeper power than he had been at first inclined to
give her. A curious sensation began to affect his nerves,--a sudden and
overwhelming attraction, as though his very soul were being drawn out
of him by the calm irresistible dominance of those slumbrous dark-blue
iris-coloured eyes, which had the merit of appearing neither brilliant
nor remarkable as eyes merely, but which held in their luminous depths
that intellectual command which represents the active and passionate
life of the brain, beside which all other life is poor and colourless.
These eyes appeared to rest upon him now from under their drooping
sleepy white eyelids with an inexpressible tenderness and fascination,
and he was suddenly reminded of Heinrich Heine’s quaint love-fancy;
“Behind her dreaming eyelids the sun has gone to rest; when she opens
her eyes it will be day, and the birds will be heard singing!” He began
to realise depths in his own nature which he had till now been almost
unconscious of; he knew himself to a certain extent, but by no means
thoroughly; and awakening as he was to the fact that other lives around
him presented strange riddles for consideration, he wondered whether
after all, his own life might not perhaps prove one of the most complex
among human conundrums? He had often meditated on the inaccessibility of
ideal virtues, the uselessness of persuasion, the commonplace absurdity,
as he had thought, of trying to embody any lofty spiritual dream,--yet
he was himself a man in whom spiritual forces were so strong that he was
personally unaware of their overflow, because they were as much a part
of him as his breathing capacity. True, he had never consciously tested
them, but they were existent in him nevertheless.

He watched Lotys now, with an irritable, restless attention,--there
was a thrill of vague expectation in his soul as of new things to be
done,--changes to be made in the complex machinery of human nature,--and
a great wonder, as well as a great calm, fell upon him as the first
clear steady tones of her voice chimed through the deep hush which had
prepared the way for her first words. Her voice was a remarkable one,
vibrant, yet gentle,--ringing out forcefully, yet perfectly sweet. She
began very simply,--without any attempt at a majestic choice of words,
or an impressive flow of oratory. She faced her audience quietly,--one
bare rounded arm resting easily on a small uncovered deal table in front
of her;--she had no ‘notes’ but her words were plainly the result of
deliberate and careful thinking-out of certain problems needful to be
brought before the notice of the people. Her face was colourless,--the
dead gold hair rippling thickly away in loose clusters from the white
brows, fell into their accustomed serpentine twisted knot at the nape of
her neck; and the scarlet sash she wore, alone relieved the statuesque
white folds of her draperies; but as she spoke, something altogether
superphysical seemed to exhale from her as heat exhales from fire--a
strange essence of overpowering and compelling sweetness stole into
the heavy heated air, and gave to the commonplace surroundings and the
poorly clothed crowd of people an atmosphere of sacredness and beauty.
This influence deepened steadily under the rhythmic cadence of her
voice, till every agitated soul, every resentful and troubled heart in
the throng was conscious of a sudden ingathering of force and calm, of
self-respect and self-reliance. The gist of her intention was plainly to
set people thinking for themselves, and in this there could be no manner
of doubt but that she succeeded. Of the ‘Corruption of the State’ she
spoke as a thing thoroughly recognised by the masses.

“We know,--all of us,”--she said, in the concluding portion of her
address, “that we have Ministers who personally care nothing for the
prosperity or welfare of the country. We know--all of us,--that we
have a bribed Press; whose business it is to say nothing that shall
run counter to Ministerial views. We know,--all of us,--that it is this
bribed Ministerial press which leads the ignorant, (who are not behind
the scenes,) to wrong and false conclusions;--and that it is solely upon
these wrong and false conclusions of the wilfully misled million,
that the Ministry itself rests for support. On one side the Press
is manipulated by the Jews; on the other by the Jesuits. There is no
journal in this country that will, or dare, publish the true reflex of
popular opinion. Therefore the word ‘free’ cannot be applied to that
recording-force of nations which we call Journalism; inasmuch as it
is now a merely purchased Chattle. We should remember, when we read
‘opinions of the Press,’--on any great movement or important change in
policy, that we are merely accepting the opinions of the bound and paid
Slave of Capitalists;--and we should take care to form our judgment for
ourselves, rather than from the Capitalist point of view. Were there a
strong man to lead,--the shiftiness, treachery, and deliberate neglect
practised on the million by those who are now in office, could
not possibly last;--but where there is no strength, there must be
weakness,--and where a long career of deceit has been followed, instead
of a course of plain dealing, failure in the end is inevitable.
With failure comes disaster; and often something which augments
disaster--Revolt. The people, weary of constant imposition,--of
incessant delays of the justice due to them,--as well as the
unscrupulous breaking of promises solemnly pledged,--will--in the
long run, take their own way, as they have done before in history, of
securing instant amelioration of those wrongs which their paid rulers
fail to redress. Who will dare to say that, under such circumstances,
it is ill for the people to act? Sometimes it is a greater Consciousness
than their own that moves them; and the wronged and half-forgotten Cause
of all worlds makes His command known through His creatures, who obey
His impulse,--even as the atoms gathering in space cluster at His will
into solar systems, and bring forth their burden of life!”

She paused, and leaning forward a little, her eyes poured out their
flashing searchlight as it seemed into the very souls of her hearers.

“Dear friends!--dear children!” she said, and in her tone there was the
tenderness of a great compassion, almost bordering on tears,--“What
is it, think you all, that makes the age in which we live so sad, so
colourless, so restless and devoid of hope and peace? It is not that we
are the inhabitants of a less wonderful or less beautiful world,--it is
not as if the sun had ceased to shine, or the birds had forgotten how
to sing! Triumphs of science,--triumphs of learning and discovery, these
are all on the increase for our help and furtherance. With so much
gain in evident advancement, what is it we have lost?--what is it
we miss?--whence come the dreariness and emptiness and satiety,--the
intolerable sense of the futility of life, even when life has most
to offer? Dear children, you are all so sad!--many of you so
broken-hearted!--why is it?--how is it? Poverty alone is not the
cause,--for it is quite possible to be poor, yet happy! True enough it
is that in these days you are ground down by the imposition of taxes,
which try all the strength of your earnings to pay; but even this is
an evil you could mitigate for yourselves, by strong and united public
protest. How is it that you do not realise your own strength? You are
not like the poor brutes of the field and forest, who lack the reason
which would show them how superior in physical force alone they are to
the insignificant biped who commands them. Could the ox understand his
own strength, he would never be led to the slaughter-house;--he and
his kind would become a terror instead of a provision. You are not
oxen,--yet often you are as patient, as dull, as blind and reasonless
as they! You form clubs, societies, and trades-unions;--but in how many
cases do you not enter upon small and querulous differences which so
weaken your unity that presently it falls to pieces and has no more
power in it? This is what your tyrants in trade rely on and hope for;
the constant recurrence of quarrels and dissensions among yourselves.
No Society lasts which tolerates conflicting argument or differing
sentiments in itself. Why is it that the Jesuits,--whom you are all
unanimous in hating,--are still the strongest political Brotherhood
on the face of the earth? Because they are bound to maintain in every
particular the tenets of their Order. No matter how vile, or how
reprehensibly false their theories, they are compelled to carry on the
work and propaganda of their Union, despite all loss and sacrifice to
themselves. This is the secret of their force. Expelled from one land,
they take root in another. Suppressed entirely by Pope Clement XIV., in
1773, they virtually ignored suppression, and took up their headquarters
in Russia. The influence they exerted there still lies on the serf
population, like one of the many chains fastened to a Siberian exile’s
body. Yet they were driven from Russia in 1820,--from Holland in
1816,--from Switzerland in 1847, and from Germany in 1872. Latterly they
have been expelled from France. Nevertheless, in spite of these numerous
expulsions, and the universal odium in which they are held,--they still
flourish; still are they able to maintain their twenty-two generals and
their four Vicars;--and still all countries have, in their turn, to deal
with their impending or fulfilled invasion. Why is it that a Society
so criminal in historic annals, should yet remain as a force in our
advanced era of civilization? Simply, because it is of One Mind! Bent on
evil, or good,--self-renunciation or self-aggrandisement,--it is still
of One Mind! Friends,--were you like them, also of One Mind, your
injuries, your oppressions, your taxations would not last long! The
remedy for all is easy, and rests with yourselves,--only yourselves! But
some of you have lost heart--and other some have lost patience. You look
round upon the squalid corners of this great city--you shudder at the
cruelty of the daily life with which you have to contend,--you enter
poor rooms, which you are compelled to call ‘home,’ where the sick and
dying, the newly-born and the dead are huddled all together,--ten,
and sometimes fifteen in one small den of four whitewashed walls;--and
sickened and tired, you cry out ‘Is life worth no more than this? Is
God’s scheme for the human race no more than this? Then why were we born
at all? Or, being born, why may we not die at once, self-slain?’ Ah,
yes, dear friends!--you often feel like this; we all of us often feel
like this! But--it is not God who has made life thus hard for you,--it
is yourselves! It is you who consent to be down-trodden,--it is you who
resign your freewill, your thought, your originality of character, into
the dominating power of others. True,--wealth controls affairs to a vast
extent nowadays,--but there is a stronger power than wealth, and that is
Soul! It is not the possession of gold that has given the greatest
men their position. This is a commercial age, we own,--and
certainly,--because of the base and degrading love of
accumulation,--Intellectuality is for the moment often set aside as
something valueless--but whenever Intellectuality truly asserts itself,
there is at once made visible an acting force of the Divine, which
is practically limitless and irresistible. Think for yourselves,
friends!--do not let a hired Press think for you! Think for
yourselves--judge for yourselves, and act for yourselves! By your
observation of a statesman’s life, you shall know his capabilities. If
he has once been a turncoat, he will be a turncoat again. If he has been
known to speculate privately in a forthcoming political crisis, which he
alone knows of in advance----”

Here the speaker was interrupted by what sounded more like a snarl than
a shout. “Pérousse! Pérousse!”

The name was hissed out, and tossed from one rank to another of the
audience, and one or two of the police present glanced enquiringly
towards Bernhoff their chief,--but he sat with folded arms and
inscrutable demeanour, making no sign. Lotys raised her small,
beautifully-shaped white hand to enjoin silence. She was obeyed

“I speak of no one man,” she said with deliberate emphasis; “I accuse no
one man,--or any man! I say ‘if’ any man gambles with State policy, he
is a traitor to the country! But such gambling is not a novelty in the
history of nations. It has been practised over and over again. Only mark
you all this one God’s truth!--that whenever it _has_ occurred--whenever
the rulers of a State _are_ corrupt,--whenever society sinks into such
moral defilement that it sees nothing better, nothing higher than the
love of money,--then comes the downfall!--then Ruin and Anarchy set up
their dominion,--and Heaven’s rage rolls out upon the offenders, till
their offence be cleansed away in rivers of blood and tears!”

She waited a moment,--and changing her attitude, seemed as it were,
to project her thought into her audience, by the sudden passion of her
commanding gesture, and the flash of her deep luminous eyes.

“We have heard of the Great Renunciation!” she said; “How God Himself
took human form, and came to this low little earth to prove how nobly
we should live and die! But in our day,--we with our preachers and
teachers, our press and our parliamentary orators,--our atheistical
statesmen on all hands, have come upon the Great Obliteration!--the
Obliteration of God altogether in our ways of life! We push Him out, as
if He were not. He is not in our Churches--He is not in our Laws--He
is not in our Commerce. Only when we are brought low by pain and
sickness--when we are confronted by death itself--then we call out ‘God!
God!’ like cowards, praying for help from the Power we have negatived
all our lives! Here is the evil, O children all!--we have forgotten Our
Father! We arrange all our affairs in life without giving Him a thought!
Our pleasures, our gains, our advantages,--are calculated without
consulting His good pleasure. He is last, or not at all,--when He should
be first, and in everything! The end of this is misery;--it must be so;
it cannot by law be anything else. For what is God? Who is God? God is
a name merely,--but we give it to that Unseen, but ever working Force
which rules the Universe! The coldest atheist that ever breathed
must own that somehow,--by some means or other,--the Universe _is_
ruled,--for if it were not, we should know nothing of it. Therefore,
when we set aside, or leave out the consciousness and acknowledgment of
the Ruler, the ruling of our affairs must, of necessity, go wrong!

“I cannot preach to you--I cannot out of my own conscience recommend to
you one or the other form of faith as the way to peace and wisdom;--but
I can and do Beseech you to remember the Note Dominant of this great
Universe--the Note that sounds through high and low,--through small
and great alike!--and that must and will in due course absorb all our
discords into Everlasting Harmony! Try not to put this fact out of your
lives,--that Justice and Order are the rule of the spheres; and that
whenever we depart from these, even in the smallest contingency,
confusion reigns. How hard it is to believe in Justice and Order, you
will tell me,--when the poor are not treated with the same consideration
as the rich,--and when money will buy place and position! True! It is
hard to believe,--but it is believable nevertheless. As the lungs and
the heart are the life of the human body, so are Justice and Order the
life of the Universe,--and when these are pushed out of place, or become
diseased in the composition of a human state or community, then the
life of that state or community is threatened;--and unless remedies are
quickly to hand, it must end. You all know the position of things among
yourselves to-day;--you all know that there is no trust to be placed in
Churches, Kings or Parliaments;--that the world is in a state of ferment
and unrest,--moving towards Change;--change imminent--change, possibly,
disastrous! And if it is You who know, it is likewise You who must seize
the hour as it approaches!--seize it as you would seize a robber by the
throat, and demand its business;--search its heart;--deprive it of its
weapons;--and learn from it its message! A message it may be of wild
alarm--of tearing up old conventions;--of thrusting forth old abuses; a
message full of clamour and outcry--but whatever the uproar, doubt not
that we shall hear the voice of the Forgotten God thundering in our
ears at the close! We shall have found our way closer to Him--and with
penitence and prayer, we shall ask to be forgiven for having wandered
away from Him so long!

“And will He not pardon? Yes,--He will, because He must! To Him we owe
our existence;--He alone is responsible for our life, our probation, our
progress, our striving through many errors towards Perfection! He,
who sees all, must needs have pity for His creature Man! Out of the
evolutions of a blind Time, He has made the poor weak human being, who
in the first days of his sojourn on earth had neither covering nor home.
Less protected than the beasts of the forest, he found himself compelled
to Think!--to think out his own means of shelter,--to contrive his own
weapons of defence. Slowly, and by painful degrees, from Savagery he has
emerged to Civilization;--wherefore it is evident that his Maker meant
Thought to be his first principle, and Action his second. He who does
not work, shall not eat;--he who does not use all his faculties for
improvement, shall by and by have none to use. Injustice and corruption
are amongst us, merely because we ourselves have failed to resist their
first inroads. Who is it that complains of wrong? Let him hasten to
his own amending,--and he will find a thousand hands, a thousand hearts
ready to work with him! All Nature is on the side of health in the body,
as of health in the State. All Nature fights against disease,--physical
and moral. Therefore do not,--dear friends and children!--sit idle and
passive, submitting yourselves to be deceived, as if you had no force
to withstand deception! Show that you hate lies, and will have none of
them,--show that you will not be imposed upon--and decline to be led
or governed by party agents, who persuade you to your own and your
country’s destruction! The voice of the People can no longer be heard
in a purchased Press;--let it echo forth then, in stronger form
than ephemeral print, which to-day is glanced at, and to-morrow is
forgotten;--wherever and whenever you are given the chance to meet,
and to speak, let your authority as the workers, the ratepayers, and
supporters of the State be heard; and do not You, without whom even the
King could not keep his throne, consent to be set aside as the Unvalued
Majority! Prove, by your own firm attitude that without You, nothing
can be done! It is time, oh people of my heart!--it is time you spoke
clearly! God is moving His thought through your souls--God stirs in you
the fear, the discontent, the suspicion that all is not well with your
country;--and it is the Spirit of God which breathes in the warning note
of the time--

  “‘Hark to the voice of the time!
    The multitude think forthemselves,
    And weigh their condition each one;
    The drudge has a spirit sublime,
    And whether he hammers or delves,
    He reads when his labour is done;
    And learns, though he groan under poverty’s ban,
    That freedom to Think, is the birthright of man!’

“Learn,” she continued,--as a low deep murmur of agreement ran through
the room; “Learn to what strange uses God puts even such men of this
world, whose sole existence has been for the cause of amassing
money! They have acted as the merest machines, gathering in the
millions;--gathering, gathering them in! For what purpose? Lo, they are
smitten down in the prime of their lives, and the gold they have
piled up is at once scattered! Much of it becomes used for educational
purposes;--and some of these dead millionaires have, as it were thrown
Education at the heads of the people, and almost pauperised it. Far
away in Great Britain, a millionaire has recently made the Scottish
University education ‘free’ to all students,--instead of, as it used to
be, hard to get, and well worth working to win. Now,--through the wealth
of one man, it is turned into a pauper’s allowance;--like offering the
smallest silver coin to a reduced gentleman. The pride,--the skill,--the
self-renunciation,--the strong determination to succeed, which form
fine character, and which taught the struggling student to win his
own University education, are all wiped out;--there is no longer any
necessity for the practice of these manly and self-sustaining virtues.
The harm that will be done is probably not yet perceivable; but it will
be incalculable. Education, turned into a kind of pauper’s monopoly,
will have widely different results to those just now imagined! But
with all the contemptuous throwing out of the unneeded kitchen-waste of
millionaires,--still Education is the thing to take at any price, and
under any circumstances;--because it alone is capable of giving power!
It alone will ‘put down the mighty from their seats, and exalt the
humble and the meek.’ It alone will give us the force to fight our
taskmasters with their own weapons, and to place them where they should
be, coequal with us, but not superior,--considerate of us, but not
commanding us,--and above all things, bound to make their records of
such work as they do for the State--clean!”

A hurricane of applause interrupted her,--she waited till it subsided,
then went on quietly.

“There should be no scheming in the dark; no secret contracts for which
we have to pay blindly;--no refusal to explain the way in which the
people’s hard-earned money is spent; and before foreign urbanities and
diplomacies and concessions are allowed to take up time in the Senate,
it is necessary that the frightful and abounding evils of our own
land,--our own homes,--be considered. For this we purpose to demand
redress,--and not only to demand it, but to obtain it! Ministers
may refuse to hear us; but the Country’s claims are greater than any
Ministry! A King’s displeasure may cause court-parasites to tremble--but
a People’s Honour is more to be guarded than a thousand thrones!”

As she concluded with these words, she seemed to grow taller, nobler,
more inspired and commanding,--and while the applause was yet shaking
the rafters of the hall, she left the platform. Shouts of “Lotys!
Lotys!” rang out again and again with passionate bursts of
cheering,--and in response to it she came back, and by a slight gesture
commanded silence.

“Dear friends, I thank you all for listening to me!” she said simply,
her rich voice trembling a little; “I speak only with a woman’s impulse
and unwisdom--just as I think and feel--and always out of my great
love for you! As you all know, I have no interests to serve;--I am only
Lotys, your own poor friend,--one who works with you, and dwells among
you, seeing and sharing your hard lives, and wishing with all my heart
that I could help you to be happier and freer! My life is at
your service,--my love for you is all too great for any words to
express,--and my gratitude for your faith and trust in me forms my daily
thanksgiving! Now, dear children all,--for you are truly as children in
your patience, submission and obedience to bitter destiny!--I will ask
you to disperse quietly without noise or confusion, or any trouble that
may give to the paid men of law ungrateful work to do;--and in your
homes, think of me!--remember my words!--and while you maintain order by
the steadiness and reasonableness of your difficult lives, still avoid
and resent that slavish obedience to the yoke fastened upon you by
capitalists,--who have no other comfort to offer you in poverty than the
workhouse; and no other remedy for the sins into which you are thrust
by their neglect, than the prison! Take, and keep the rights of your
humanity!--the right to think,--the right to speak,--the right to know
what is being done with the money you patiently earn for others;--and
work, all together in unity. Put aside all petty differences,--all small
rancours and jealousies; and even as a Ministry may unite to defraud
and deceive you, so do you, the People, unite to expose the fraud, and
reject the deception! There is no voice so resonant and convincing as
the voice of the public; there is no power on earth more strong or more
irresistible than the power of the People!”

She stood for one moment more,--silent; her eyes brilliant, her face
beautiful with inspired thought,--then with a quiet, half-deprecatory
gesture, in response to the fresh outbreak of passionate cheering, she
retired from the platform. Pasquin Leroy, whose eyes had been riveted on
her from the first to the last word of her oration, now started as from
a dream, and rose up half-unconsciously, passing his hand across his
brow, as though to exorcise some magnetic spell that had crept over
his brain. His face was flushed, his pulses were throbbing quickly. His
companions, Max Graub and Axel Regor, looked at him inquisitively. The
audience was beginning to file out of the hall in orderly groups.

“What next?” said Graub; “Shall ye go?”

“I suppose so,” said Leroy, with a quick sigh, and forcing a smile;
“But--I should have liked to speak with her----”

At that moment his shoulder was touched by a man he recognised as Johan
Zegota. He gave the sign of the Revolutionary Committee bond, to which
Leroy and his comrades responded.

“Will you all three come over the way?” whispered Zegota cautiously; “We
are entertaining Lotys to supper at the inn opposite,--the landlord is
one of us. Thord saw you sitting here, and sent me to ask you to join

“With pleasure,” assented Leroy; “We will come at once!”

Zegota nodded and disappeared.

“So you will see the end of this escapade!” said Max Graub, a trifle
crossly. “It would have been much better to go home!”

“You have enjoyed escapades in your time, have you not, my friend? Some
even quite recently?” returned Leroy gaily. “One or two more will not
hurt you!”

They edged their way out among the quietly moving crowd, and
happening to push past General Bernhoff, that personage gave an almost
imperceptible salute, which Leroy as imperceptibly returned. It was
clear that the Chief of Police was acquainted with Pasquin Leroy, the
‘spy’ on whose track he had been sent by Carl Pérousse, and moreover,
that he was evidently in no hurry to arrest him. At any rate he allowed
him to pass with his friends unmolested, out of the People’s Assembly
Rooms, and though he followed him across the road, ‘shadowing him,’
as it were, into a large tavern, whose lighted windows betokened
some entertainment within, he did not enter the hostelry himself, but
contented his immediate humour by walking past it to a considerable
distance off, and then slowly back again. By and by Max Graub came out
and beckoned to him, and after a little earnest conversation Bernhoff
walked off altogether, the ring of his martial heels echoing for some
time along the pavement, even after he had disappeared. And from within
the lighted tavern came the sound of a deep, harmonious, swinging

  “Way, make way!--for our banner is unfurled,
      Let each man
stand by his neighbour!   The thunder of our footsteps shall roll
through the world,      In the March of the Men of Labour!”

“Yes!” said Max Graub, pausing to listen ere re-entering the
tavern--“If--and it is a great ‘if’--if every man will stand by his
neighbour, the thunder will be very loud,--and by all the deities that
ever lived in the Heaven blue, it is a thunder that is likely to last
some time! The possibility of standing by one’s neighbour is the only
doubtful point!”



Inside the tavern, from whence the singing proceeded, there was a
strange scene,--somewhat disorderly yet picturesque. Lotys, seated at
the head of a long supper-table, had been crowned by her admirers with
a wreath of laurels,--and as she sat more or less silent, with a rather
weary expression on her face, she looked like the impersonation of
a Daphne, exhausted by the speed of her flight from pursuing Apollo.
Beside her, nestling close against her caressingly, was a little
girl with great black Spanish eyes,--eyes full of an appealing,
half-frightened wistfulness, like those of a hunted animal. Lotys kept
one arm round the child, and every now and again spoke to her some
little caressing word. All the rest of the guests at the supper-board
were men,--and all of them members of the Revolutionary Committee. When
Pasquin Leroy and his friends entered, there was a general clapping of
hands, and the pale countenance of Lotys flushed a delicate rose-red, as
she extended her hand to each.

“You begin your career with us very well!” she said gently, her eyes
resting musingly on Leroy; “I had not expected to see you to-night!”

“Madame, I had never heard you speak,” he answered; and as he addressed
her, he pressed her hand with unconscious fervour, while his eloquent
eyes dilated and darkened, as, moved by some complex emotion, she
quickly withdrew her slender fingers from his clasp. “And I felt I
should never know you truly as you are, till I saw you face the people.

He paused. She looked at him wonderingly, and her heart began to beat
with a strange quick thrill. It is not always easy to see the outlines
of a soul’s development, or the inchoate formation of a great love,--and
though everything in a certain sense moved her and appealed to her that
was outside herself, it was difficult to her to believe or to admit that
she, in her own person, might be the cause of an entirely new set of
thoughts and emotions in the mind of one man. Seeing he was silent, she
repeated softly and with a half smile.


“Now,” continued Leroy quickly, and in a half-whisper; “I do know you
partly,--but I must know you more! You will give me the chance to do

His look said more than his words, and her face grew paler than before.
She turned from him to the child at her side--

“Pequita, are you very tired?”

“No!” was the reply, given brightly, and with an upward glance of the
dark eyes.

“That is right! Pasquin Leroy my friend! this is Pequita,--the child we
told you of the other night, the only daughter of Sholto. She will dance
for us presently, will you not, my little one?”

“Yes, indeed!” and the young face lighted up swiftly at the suggestion;
while Leroy, taking the seat indicated to him at the supper-table,
experienced a tumult of extraordinary sensations,--the chief one of
which was, that he felt himself to have been ‘snubbed,’ very quietly but
effectually, by a woman who had succeeded, though he knew not how, in
suddenly awakening in him a violent fever of excitement, to which he was
at present unable to give a name. Rallying himself, however, he glanced
up and down the board smilingly, lifting his glass to salute Sergius
Thord, who responded from his place at the bottom of the table,--and
very soon he regained his usual placidity, for he had enormous strength
of will, and kept an almost despotic tyranny over his feelings. His
companions, Max Graub and Axel Regor, were separated from him, and from
each other, at different sides of the table, and Paul Zouche the poet,
was almost immediately opposite to him. He was glad to see that he was
next but one to Lotys--the man between them being a desperado-looking
fellow with a fierce moustache, and exceedingly gentle eyes,--who, as
he afterwards discovered, was one of the greatest violinists in the
world,--the favourite of kings and Courts,--and yet for all that, a
prominent member of the Revolutionary Committee. The supper, which was
of a simple, almost frugal character, was soon served, and the landlord,
in setting the first plate before Lotys, laid beside it a knot of deep
crimson roses, as an offering of homage and obedience from himself. She
thanked him with a smile and glance, and taking up the flowers, fastened
them at her breast. Conversation now became animated and general; and
one of the men present, a delicate-looking young fellow, with a head
resembling somewhat that of Keats, started a discussion by saying

“Jost has sold out all his shares in that new mine that was started
the other day. It looks as if he did not think, after all his newspaper
puffs, that the thing was going to work.”

“If Jost has sold, Pérousse will,” said his neighbour; “The two are
concerned together in the floating of the whole business.”

“And yet another piece of news!” put in Paul Zouche suddenly; “For if we
talk of stocks and shares, we talk of money! What think you, my friends!
I, Paul Zouche, have been offered payment for my poems! This very
afternoon! Imagine! Will not the spheres fall? A poet to be paid for
his poems is as though one should offer the Creator a pecuniary
consideration for creating the flowers!”

His face was flushed, and his eyes deliriously bright.

“Listen, my Sergius!” he said; “Wonders never cease in this world; but
this is the most wonderful of all wonders! Out of the merest mischief
and monkeyish malice, the other day I sent my latest book of poems to
the King--”

“Shame! shame!” interrupted a dozen voices. “Against the rules, Paul!
You have broken the bond!”

Paul Zouche laughed loudly.

“How you yell, my baboons!” he cried; “How you screech about the rules
of your lair! Wait till you hear! You surely do not suppose I sent the
book out of any humility or loyalty, or desire for notice, do you? I
sent it out of pure hate and scorn, to show him as a fool-Majesty, that
there was something he could not do--something that should last when
_he_ was forgotten!--a few burning lines that should, like vitriol,
eat into his Throne and outlast it! I sent it some days ago, and got an
acknowledgment from the flunkey who writes Majesty’s letters. But this
afternoon I received a much more important document,--a letter from
Eugène Silvano, secretary to our very honourable and trustworthy
Premier! He informs me in set terms, that his Majesty the King has been
pleased to appreciate my work as a poet, to the extent of offering me a
hundred golden pieces a year for the term of my natural life! Ha-ha! A
hundred golden pieces a year! And thus they would fasten this wild bird
of Revolutionary song to a Royal cage, for a bit of sugar! A hundred
golden pieces a year! It means food and lodging--warm blankets to sleep
in--but it means something else,--loss of independence!”

“Then you will not accept it?” said Pasquin Leroy, looking at him with
interest over the rim of the glass from which he was just sipping his

“Accept it! I have already refused it! By swift return of post!”

Shouts of “Bravo! bravo!” echoed around him on all sides; men sprang up
and shook hands with him and patted him on the back, and even over the
dark face of Sergius Thord there passed a bright illumining smile.

“Zouche, with all thy faults, thou art a brave man!” said the young man
with the Keats-like head, who was in reality confidential clerk to one
of the largest stockbrokers in the metropolis; “A thousand times better
to starve, than to accept Royal alms!”

“To your health, Zouche!” said Lotys, leaning forward, glass in hand.
“Your refusal of the King’s offered bounty is a greater tragedy than any
you have ever tried to write!”

“Hear her!” cried Zouche, exultant; “She knows exactly how to put it!
For look you, there are the true elements of tragedy in a worn coat
and scant food, while the thoughts that help nations to live or die are
burning in one’s brain! Then comes a King with a handful of gold--and
gold would be useful--it always is! But--by Heaven! to pay a poet for
his poems is, as I said before, as if one were to meet the Deity on His
way through space, scattering planets and solar systems at a touch, and
then to say--‘Well done, God! We shall remunerate You for your creative
power as long as You shall last--so much per aeon!’”

Leroy laughed.

“You wild soul!” he said; “Would you starve then, rather than accept a
king’s bounty?”

“I would!” answered Paul. “Look you, my brave Pasquin! Read back over
all the centuries, and see the way in which these puppets we call kings
have rewarded the greatest thinkers of their times! Is it anywhere
recorded that the antique virgin, Elizabeth of England, ever did
anything for Shakespeare? True--he might have been ‘graciously
permitted’ to act one of his sublime tragedies before her--by
Heaven!--she was only fit to be his scrubbing woman, by intellectual
comparison! Kings and Queens have always trembled in their shoes, and on
their thrones, before the might of the pen!--and it is natural therefore
that they should ignore it as much as conveniently possible. A general,
whose military tactics succeed in killing a hundred thousand innocent
men receives a peerage and a hundred thousand a year,--a speculator who
snatches territory and turns it into stock-jobbing material, is called
an ‘Empire Builder’; but the man whose Thought destroys or moulds a new
World, and raises up a new Civilization, is considered beneath a crowned
Majesty’s consideration! ‘Beneath,’ by Heaven!--I, Paul Zouche, may yet
mount behind Majesty’s chair, and with a single rhyme send his crown
spinning into space! Meanwhile, I have flung back his hundred golden
pieces, with as much force in the edge of my pen as there would be in
my hand if _you_ were his Majesty sitting there, and I flung them across
the table now!”

Again Leroy laughed. His eyes flashed, but there was a certain regret
and wistfulness in them.

“You approve, of course?” he said, turning to Sergius Thord.

Sergius looked for a moment at Zouche with an infinitely grave and
kindly compassion.

“I think Paul has acted bravely;” he then said slowly; “He has been true
to the principles of our Order. And under the circumstances, it must
have been difficult for him to refuse what would have been a certain

“Not difficult, Sergius!” exclaimed Zouche, “But purely triumphant!”

Thord smiled,--then went on--“You see, my friend,” and he addressed
himself now to Leroy; “Kings have scorned the power of the pen too
long! Those who possess that power are now taking vengeance for neglect.
Thousands of pens all over the world to-day are digging the grave of
Royalty, and building up the throne of Democracy. Who is to blame?
Royalty itself is to blame, for deliberately passing over the claims
of art and intellect, and giving preference to the claims of money. The
moneyed man is ever the friend of Majesty,--but the brilliant man
of letters is left out in the cold. Yet it is the man of letters who
chronicles the age, and who will do so, we may be sure, according to his
own experience. As the King treats the essayist, the romancist or the
historian, so will these recording scribes treat the King!”

“It is possible, though,” suggested Leroy, “that the King meant well in
his offer to our friend Zouche?”

“Quite possible!” agreed Thord; “Only his offer of one hundred gold
pieces a year to a man of intellect, is out of all proportion to the
salary he pays his cook!”

A slight flush reddened Leroy’s bronzed cheek. Thord observed him
attentively, and saw that his soul was absorbed by some deep-seated
intellectual irritation. He began to feel strangely drawn towards him;
his eyes questioned the secret which he appeared to hold in his mind,
but the quiet composure of the man’s handsome face baffled enquiry.
Meanwhile around the table the conversation grew louder and less
restrained. The young stockbroker’s clerk was holding forth eloquently
concerning the many occasions on which he had seen Carl Pérousse at
his employer’s office, carefully going into the closest questions
of financial losses or gains likely to result from certain political
moves,--and he remembered one day in particular, when, after purchasing
a hundred thousand shares in a certain company, Pérousse had turned
suddenly round on his broker with the cool remark--“If ever you breathe
a whisper about this transaction, I will shoot you dead!”

Whereat the broker had replied that it was not his custom to give away
his clients’ business, and that threats were unworthy of a statesman.
Then Pérousse had become as friendly as he had been before menacing;
and the two had gone out of the office and lunched together. And the
confidential clerk thus chattering his news, declared that his employer
was now evidently uneasy; and that from that uneasiness he augured a
sudden fluctuation or fall in what had lately seemed the most valuable
stock in the market.

“And you? Your news, Valdor,” cried one or two eager voices, while
several heads leaned forward in the direction of the fiercely-moustached
man who sat next to Lotys. “Where have you been with your fiddle? Do you
arrive among us to-night infected by the pay, or the purple of Royalty?”

Louis Valdor, by birth a Norseman, and by sympathies a cosmopolitan,
looked up with a satiric smile in his dark eyes.

“There is no purple left to infect a man with, in the modern slum of
Royalty!” he said; “Tobacco-smoke, not incense, perfumes the palaces of
the great nowadays--and card-playing is more appreciated than music! Yet
I and my fiddle have made many long journeys lately,--and we have sent
our messages of Heaven thrilling through the callous horrors of Hell!
A few nights since, I played at the Russian Court--before the beautiful
Empress--cold as a stone--with her great diamonds flashing on her
unhappy breast,--before the Emperor, whose furtive eyes gazed unseeingly
before him, as though black Fate hovered in the air--before women, whose
lives are steeped in the lowest intrigue--before men, whose faces are
as bearded masks, covering the wolf’s snarl,--yes!--I played before
these,--played with all the chords of my heart vibrating to the violin,
till at last a human sigh quivered from the lips of the statuesque
Empress,--till a frown crossed the brooding brow of her spouse--till the
intriguing women shook off the spell with a laugh, and the men did the
same with an oath--and I was satisfied! I received neither ‘pay,’ nor
jewel of recognition,--I had played ‘for the honour’ of appearing before
their Majesties!--but my bow was a wand to wake the little poisoned asp
of despair that stings its way into the heart under every Royal mantle
of ermine, and that sufficed me!”

“Sometimes,” said Leroy, turning towards him; “I pity kings!”

“I’ faith, so do I!” returned Valdor. “But only sometimes! And if you
had seen as much of them as I have, the ‘sometimes’ would be rare!”

“Yet you play before them?” put in Max Graub.

“Because I must do so to satisfy the impresarios who advertise me to the
public,” said Valdor. “Alas!--why will the public be so foolish as to
wish their favourite artist to play before kings and queens? Seldom,
if ever, do these Royal people understand music,--still less do they
understand the musician! Believe me, I have been treated as the veriest
scullion by these jacks-in-office; and that I still permit myself
to play before them is a duty I owe to this Brotherhood,--because it
deepens and sustains my bond with you all. There is no king on the
face of the earth who has dignity and nobleness of character enough to
command my respect,--much less my reverence! I take nothing from kings,
remember!--they dare not offer me money--they dare not insult me with
a jewelled pin, such as they would give to a station-master who sees a
Royal train off. Only the other day, when I was summoned to play before
a certain Majesty, a lord-in-waiting addressed me when I arrived with
the insolent words--‘You are late, Monsieur Valdor!--You have kept the
King waiting!’ I replied--‘Is that so? I regret it! But having kept his
Majesty waiting, I will no longer detain him; au revoir!’ And I returned
straightway to the carriage in which I had come. Majesty did without his
music that evening, owing to the insolence of his flunkey-man! Whether I
ever play before him again or not, is absolutely immaterial to me!”

“Tell me,” said Pasquin Leroy, pushing the flask of wine over to him
as he spoke; “What is it that makes kings so unloved? I hate them
myself!--but let us analyse the reasons why.”

“Discuss--discuss!” cried Paul Zouche; “Why are kings hated? Let Thord
answer first!”

“Yes--yes! Let Thord answer first!” was echoed a dozen times.

Thord, thus appealed to, looked up. His melancholy deep eyes were
sombre, yet full of fire,--lonely eyes they were, yearning for love.

“Why are kings hated?” he repeated; “Because today they are the effete
representatives of an effete system. I can quite imagine that if, as in
olden times, kings had maintained a position of personal bravery, and
personal influence on their subjects, they would have been as much
beloved as they are now despised. But what we have to see and to
recognise is this: in one land we hear of a sovereign who speculates
hand-and-glove with low-born Jew contractors and tradesmen,--another
monarch makes no secret of his desire to profit financially out of a
gambling hell started in his dominions,--another makes his domestic
affairs the subject of newspaper comment,--another is always
apostrophising the Almighty in public;--another is insane or
stupid,--and so on through the whole gamut. Is it not natural that an
intelligent People should resent the fact that their visibly governing
head is a gambler, or a voluptuary? Myself, I think the growing
unpopularity of kings is the result of their incapability for kingship.”

“Now let me speak!” cried Paul Zouche excitedly; “There is another root
to the matter,--a root like that of a certain tropical orchid, which
according to superstition, is shaped like a man, and utters a
shriek when it is pulled out of the earth! Pull out this screaming
mystery,--hatred of kings! In the first place it is because they are
hateful in themselves,--because they have been brought up and educated
to take an immeasurable and all-absorbing interest in their own
identity, rather than in the lives, hopes and aims of their subjects. In
the second--as soon as they occupy thrones, they become overbearing
to their best friends. It is a well-known fact that the more loyal and
faithful you are to a king, the more completely is he neglectful of
you! ‘Put not your trust in princes,’ sang old David. He knew how
untrustworthy they were, being a king himself, and a pious one to boot!
Thirdly and lastly,--they only give their own personal attention to
their concubines, and leave all their honest and respectable subjects to
be dealt with by servants and secretaries. Our King, for example, never
smiles so graciously as on Madame Vantine, the wife of Vantine the
wine-grower;--and he buys Vantine’s wines as well as his wife, which
brings in a double profit to the firm!”

Leroy looked up.

“Are you sure of that?”

Zouche met his eyes with a stare and a laugh.

“Sure? Of course I am sure! By my faith, your resemblance to his
Majesty is somewhat striking to-night, my bold Leroy! The same straight
brows--the same inscrutable, woman-conquering smile! I studied his
portrait after the offer of the hundred golden pieces--and I swear you
might be his twin brother!”

“I told you so!” replied Leroy imperturbably;--“It is a hateful
resemblance! I wish I could rid myself of it. Still after all, there
is something unique in being countenanced like a King, and minded as a

“True!” put in Thord gently;--“I am satisfied, Pasquin Leroy, that you
are an honest comrade!”

Leroy met his eyes with a grave smile, and touched his glass by way of

“You do not ask me,” he said then, “whether I have been able to serve
your Cause in any way since last we met?”

“This is not our regular meeting,” said Johan Zegota; “We ask no
questions till the general monthly assembly.”

“I see!” And Leroy looked whimsically meditative--“Still, as we are all
friends and brothers here, there is no harm in conveying to you the fact
that I have so far moved, in the appointed way, that Carl Pérousse has
ordered the discovery and arrest of one Pasquin Leroy, supposed to be a
spy on the military defences of the city!”

Lotys gave a little cry.

“Not possible! So soon!”

“Quite possible, Madame,” said Leroy inclining his head towards her
deferentially. “I have lost no time in doing my duty!” And his eyes
flashed upon her with a passionate, half-eager questioning. “I must
carry out my Chief’s commands!”

“But you are in danger, then?” said Sergius Thord, bending an anxious
look of enquiry upon him.

“Not more so than you, or any of my comrades are,” replied Leroy; “I
have commenced my campaign--and I have no doubt you will hear some
results of it ere long!”

He spoke so quietly and firmly, yet with such an air of assurance and
authority, that something of an electric thrill passed through the
entire company, and all eyes were fixed on him in mingled admiration and

“Of the ‘Corruption of the State,’ concerning which our fair teacher
has spoken to-night,” he continued, with another quick glance at
Lotys--“there can be no manner of doubt. But we should, I think, say the
‘Corruption of the Ministry’ rather than of the State. It is not because
a few stock-jobbers rule the Press and the Cabinet, that the State is
necessarily corrupt. Remove the corruptors,--sweep the dirt from the
house--and the State will be clean.”

“It will require a very long broom!” said Paul Zouche. “Take David Jost,
for example,--he is the fat Jew-spider of several newspaper webs,--and
to sweep him out is not so easy. His printed sheets are read by the
million; and the million are deluded into believing him a reliable

“Nothing so easy as to prove him unreliable,” said Leroy composedly;
“And then----”

“Then the million will continue to read his journals out of
sheer curiosity, to see how long a liar can go on lying!” said
Zouche;--“Besides a Jew can turn his coat a dozen times a day; he has
inherited Joseph’s ‘coat of many colours’ to suit many opinions. At
present Jost supports Pérousse, and calls him the greatest statesman
living; but if Pérousse were once proved a fraud, Jost would pen a
sublimely-conscientious leading article, beginning in this strain;--’
We are now at liberty to confess that we always had our doubts of M.

A murmur of angry laughter went round the board.

“There was an article this evening in one of Jost’s off-shoot journals,”
 went on Zouche, “which must have been paid for at a considerable cost.
It chanted the praises of one Monsignor Del Fortis,--who, it appears,
preached a sermon on ‘National Education’ the other day, and told all
the sleepy, yawning people how necessary it was to have Roman Catholic
schools in every town and village, in order that souls might be saved.
The article ended by saying--‘We hear on good authority that his Majesty
the King has been pleased to grant a considerable portion of certain
Crown lands to the Jesuit Order, for the necessary building of a
monastery and schools’----”

“That is a lie!” broke in Pasquin Leroy, with sudden vehemence. “The
King is in many respects a scoundrel, but he does not go back on his

Axel Regor looked fixedly across at him, with a warning flash in the
light of his cold languid eyes.

“But how do you know that the King has given his word?”

“It was in the paper,” said Leroy, more guardedly; “I was reading about
it, as you know, on the very night I encountered Thord.”

“Ah! But you must recollect, my friend, that a statement in the papers
is never true nowadays!” said Max Graub, with a laugh; “Whenever I read
anything in the newspaper, unless it is an official telegram, I know it
is a lie; and even official telegrams have been known to emanate from
unofficial sources!”

By this time supper was nearly over, and the landlord, clearing the
remains of the heavier fare, set fruit and wine on the board. Sergius
Thord filled his glass, and made a sign to his companions to do the
same. Then he stood up.

“To Lotys!” he said, his fine eyes darkening with the passion of his
thought. “To Lotys, who inspires our best work, and helps us to retain
our noblest ideals!”

All present sprang to their feet.

“To Lotys!”

Pasquin Leroy fixed a straight glance on the subject of the toast,
sitting quietly at the head of the table.

“To Lotys!” he repeated; “And may she always be as merciful as she is

She lifted her dark-blue slumbrous eyes, and met his keen scrutinizing
look. A very slight tremulous smile flickered across her lips. She
inclined her head gently, and in the same mute fashion thanked them all.

“Play to us, Valdor!” she then said; “And so make answer for me to our
friends’ good wishes!”

Valdor dived under the table, and brought up his violin case, which he
unlocked with jealous tenderness, lifting his instrument as carefully as
though it were a sleeping child whom he feared to wake. Drawing the bow
across the strings, he invoked a sweet plaintive sound, like the first
sigh of the wind among the trees; then, without further preliminary
wandered off into a strange labyrinth of melody, wherein it seemed that
the voices of women and angels clamoured one against the other,--the
appeals of earth with the refusals of Heaven,--the loneliness of life
with the fulness of immortality,--so, rising, falling, sobbing, praying,
alternately, the music expostulated with humanity in its throbbing
chords, till it seemed as if some Divine interposition could alone
end the heart-searching argument. Every man sat motionless and mute,
listening; Paul Zouche, with his head thrown back and eyes closed as in
a dream,--Johan Zegota’s hard, plain and careworn face growing softer
and quieter in its expression,--while Sergius Thord, leaning on one
elbow, covered his brow with one hand to shade the lines of sorrow

When Valdor ceased playing, there was a burst of applause.

“You play before kings,--kings should be proud to hear you!” said Leroy.

“Ah! So they should,” responded Valdor promptly; “Only it happens that
they are not! They treat me merely as a _laquais de place_,--just as
they would treat Zouche, had he accepted his Sovereign’s offer. But
this I will admit,--that mediocre musicians always get on very well with
Royal persons! I have heard a very great Majesty indeed praise a
common little American woman’s abominable singing, as though she were
a prima-donna, and saw him give a jewelled cigar-case to an amateur
pianist, whose fingers rattled on the keyboard like bones on a tom-tom.
But then the common little American woman invited his Majesty’s ‘chères
amies’ to her house; and the amateur pianist was content to lose money
to him at cards! Wheels within wheels, my friend! In a lesser degree
the stock-jobber who sets a little extra cash rolling on the Exchange is
called an ‘Empire Builder.’ It is a curious world! But kings were
never known to be ‘proud’ of any really ‘great’ men in either art or
literature; on the contrary, they were always afraid of them, and always
will be! Among musicians, the only one who ever got decently honoured
by a monarch was Richard Wagner,--and the world swears that _his_ Royal
patron was mad!”

Paul Zouche opened his eyes, filled his glass afresh, and tossed down
the liquor it contained at a gulp.

“Before we have any more music,” he said, “and before the little Pequita
gives us the dance which she has promised,--not to us, but to Lotys--we
ought to have prayers!”

A loud laugh answered this strange proposition.

“I say we ought to have prayers!” repeated Zouche with semi-solemn
earnestness,--“You talk of news,--news in telegram,--news in
brief,--official scratchings for the day and hour,--and do you take no
thought for the fact that his Holiness the Pope is ill--perhaps dying?”

He stared wildly round upon them all; and a tolerant smile passed over
the face of the company.

“Well, if that be so, Paul,” said a man next to him, “it is not to be
wondered at. The Pope has arrived at a great age!”

“No age at all!--no age at all!” declared Zouche. “A saint of God
should live longer than a pauper! What of the good old lady admitted to
hospital the other day whose birth certificate proved her beyond doubt
to be one hundred and twenty-one years old? The dear creature had not
married;--nor has his Holiness the Pope,--the real cause of death is
in neither of them! Why should he not live as long as his aged sister,
possessing, as he does the keys of Heaven? He need not unlock the little
golden door, even for himself, unless he likes. That is true orthodoxy!
Pasquin Leroy, you bold imitation of a king, more wine!”

Leroy filled the glass he held out to him. The glances of the company
told him Zouche was ‘on,’ and that it was no good trying to stem the
flow of his ideas, or check the inconsequential nature of his speech.
Lotys had moved her chair a little back from the table, and with both
arms encircling the child, Pequita, was talking to her in low and tender

“Brethren, let us pray!” cried Zouche; “For all we know, while we sit
here carousing and drinking to the health of our incomparable Lotys, the
soul of St. Peter’s successor may be careering through Sphere-Forests,
and over Planet-Oceans, up to its own specially built and particularly
furnished Heaven! There is only one Heaven, as we all know,--and the
space is limited, as it only holds the followers of St. Peter, the good
disciple who denied Christ!”

“That is an exploded creed, Zouche,” said Thord quietly; “No man of
any sense or reason believes such childish nonsense nowadays! The most
casual student of astronomy knows better.”

“Astronomy! Fie, for shame!” And Zouche gave a mock-solemn shake of the
head; “A wicked science! A great heresy! What are God’s Facts to the
Church Fallacies? Science proves that there are millions and millions
of solar systems,--millions and millions of worlds, no doubt
inhabited;--yet the Church teaches that there is only one Heaven,
specially reserved for good Roman Catholics; and that St. Peter and
his successors keep the keys of it. God,--the Deity--the Creator,--the
Supreme Being, has evidently nothing at all to do with it. In fact,
He is probably outside it! And of a surety Christ, with His ideas of
honesty and equality, could never possibly get into it!”

“There you are right!” said Valdor; “Your words remind me of a
conversation I overheard once between a great writer of books and a
certain Prince of the blood Royal. ‘Life is a difficult problem!’ said
the Prince, smoking a fat cigar. ‘To the student, it is, Sir,’ replied
the author; ‘But to the sensualist, it is no more than the mud-stye
of the swine,--he noses the refuse and is happy! He has no need of the
Higher life, and plainly the Higher life has no need of him. Of course,’
he added with covert satire, ‘your Highness believes in a Higher life?’
‘Of course, of course!’ responded the Royal creature, unconscious of any
veiled sarcasm; ‘We must be Christians before anything!’ And that same
evening this hypocritical Highness ‘rooked’ a foolish young fellow of
over one thousand English pounds!”

“Perfectly natural!” said Zouche. “The fashionable estimate of
Christianity is to go to church o’ Sundays, and say ‘I believe in God,’
and to cheat at cards on all the other days of the week, as active
testimony to a stronger faith in the devil!”

“And with it all, Zouche,” said Lotys suddenly; “There is more good in
humanity than is apparent.”

“And more bad, beloved Lotys,” returned Paul. “Tout le deux se disent!
But let us think of the Holy Father!--he who, after long years of
patient and sublime credulity, is now, for all we know, bracing himself
to take the inevitable plunge into the dark waters of Eternity! Poor
frail old man! Who would not pity him! His earthly home has been so
small and cosy and restricted,--he has been taken such tender care
of--the faithful have fallen at his feet in such adoring thousands,--and
now--away from all this warmth and light and incense, and colour of
pictures and stained-glass windows, and white statuary and purple
velvets, and golden-fringed palanquins,--now--out into the cold he
must go!--out into the darkness and mystery and silence!--where all the
former generations of the world, immense and endless, and all the old
religions, are huddled away in the mist of the mouldered past!--out into
the thick blackness, where maybe the fiery heads of Bel and the
Dragon may lift themselves upward and leer at him!--or he may meet the
frightful menace of some monstrous Mexican deity, once worshipped with
the rites of blood!--out--out into the unknown, unimaginable Amazement
must the poor naked Soul go shuddering on the blast of death, to face he
truly knows not what!--but possibly he has such a pitiful blind trust
in good, that he may be re-transformed into some pleasant living
consciousness that shall be more agreeable even than that of Pope of
Rome! ‘Mourir c’est rien,--mais souffrir!’ That is the hard part of it!
Let us all pray for the Pope, my friends!--he is an old man!”

“When you are silent, Zouche,” said Thord with a half smile; “We may
perhaps meditate upon him in our thoughts,--but not while you talk thus
volubly! You take up time--and Pequita is getting tired.”

“Yes,” said Lotys; “Pequita and I will go home, and there will be no
dancing to-night.”

“No, Lotys! You will not be so cruel!” said Zouche, pushing his grey
hair back from his brows, while his wild eyes glittered under the
tangle, like the eyes of a beast in its lair; “Think for a moment! I do
not come here and bore you with my poems, though I might very well do
so! Some of them are worth hearing, I assure you;--even the King--curse
him!--has condescended to think so, or else why should he offer me pay
for them? Kings are not so ready to part with money, even when it is
Government money! In England once a Premier named Gladstone, gave two
hundred and fifty pounds a year pension to the French Prince, Lucien
Buonaparte, ‘for his researches into Celtic literature’! Bah! There were
many worthier native-born men who had worked harder on the same subject,
to choose from,--without giving good English money to a Frenchman! There
is a case of your Order and Justice, Lotys! You spoke to-night of these
two impossible things. Why will you touch on such subjects? You know
there is no Order and no Justice anywhere! The Universe is a chance
whirl of gas and atoms; though where the two mischiefs come from nobody
knows! And why the devil we should be made the prey of gas and atoms is
a mystery which no Church can solve!”

As he said this, there was a slight movement of every head towards
Lotys, and enquiring eyes looked suggestively at her. She saw the look,
and responded to it.

“You are wrong, Zouche!--I have always told you you are wrong,” she said
emphatically, “It is in your own disordered thoughts that you see no
justice and no order,--but Order there is, and Justice there is,--and
Compensation for all that seems to go wrong. There is an Intelligence at
the core of Creation! It is not for us to measure that Intelligence,
or to set any limits to it. Our duty is to recognize it, and to set
ourselves as much as possible in harmony with it. Do you never, in sane
moments, study the progress of humanity? Do you not see that while the
brute creation remains stationary, (some specimens of it even becoming
extinct), man goes step by step to higher results? This is, or should
be, sufficient proof that death is not the end for us. This world is
only one link in our chain of intended experience. I think it depends on
ourselves as to what we make of it. Thought is a great power by which we
mould ourselves and others; and we have no right to subvert that power
to base uses, or to poison it by distrust of good, or disbelief in the
Supreme Guidance. You would be a thousand times better as a man, Zouche,
and far greater as a poet, if you could believe in God!”

She spoke with eloquence and affectionate earnestness, and among all the
men there was a moment’s silence.

“Well, _you_ believe in Him;” said Zouche at last, “and I will catch
hold of your angel’s robe as you pass into His Presence and say to
Him;--’ Here comes poor Zouche, who wrote of beautiful things among ugly
surroundings, and who, in order to be true to his friends, chose poverty
rather than the gold of a king!’”

Lotys smiled, very sweetly and indulgently.

“Such a plea would stand you in good stead, Zouche! To be always true
to one’s friends, and to persistently believe in beauty, is a very long
step towards Heaven!”

“I did not say I _believed_ in beauty,” said Zouche suddenly and
obstinately;--“I dream it--I think it--but I do not see it! To me the
world is one Horror--nothing but a Grave into which we all must fall!
The fairest face has a hideous skull behind it,--the dazzling blue of
the sea covers devouring monsters in its depths--the green fields, the
lovely woodlands, are full of vile worms and noxious beetles,--and
space itself swarms with thick-strewn worlds,--flaming comets,--blazing
nebulae,--among which our earth is but a gnat’s wing in a huge flame!
Horrible!--horrible!” And he spoke with a kind of vehement fury. “Let us
not think of it! Why should we insist on Truth? Let us have lies!--dear,
sweet lies and fond delusions! Let us believe that men are all honest,
and women all loving!--that there are virgins and saints and angels,
as well as bishops and curates, looking after us in this wild world of
terror,--oh, yes!--let us believe!--better the Pope’s little private
snuggery of a Heaven, than the crushing truth which says ‘Our God is a
consuming fire’! Knowledge deepens sorrow,--truth kills!--we must--we
must have a little love, and a few lies to lean upon!”

His voice faltered,--and a sudden ashy paleness overspread his
features,--his head fell back helplessly, and he seemed transfixed and
insensible. Leroy and one or two of the others rose in alarm, thinking
he had swooned, but Sergius Thord warned them back by a sign. The little
Pequita, slipping from the arms of Lotys, went softly up to him.

“Paul! Dear Paul!” she said in her soft childish tones.

Zouche stirred, and stretching out one hand, groped with it blindly in
the air. Pequita took it, warming it between her own little palms.

“Paul!” she said; “Do wake up! You have been asleep such a long time!”

He opened his eyes. The grey pallor passed from his face; he lifted his
head and smiled.

“So! There you are, Pequita!” he said gently; “Dear little one! So brave
and cheerful in your hard life!”

He lifted her small brown hand, and kissed it. The feverish tension
of his brain relaxed,--and two large tears welled up in his eyes, and
rolled down his cheeks. “Poor little girl!” he murmured weakly; “Poor
little hard-working girl!”

All the men sat silent, watching the gradual softening of Zouche’s
drunken delirium by the mere gentle caress of the child; and Pasquin
Leroy was conscious of a curious tightening of the muscles of his
throat, and a straining compassion at his heart, which was more like
acute sympathy with the griefs and sins of humanity than any emotion he
had ever known. He saw that the thoughtful, pitiful eyes of Lotys were
full of tears, and he longed, in quite a foolish, almost boyish fashion,
to take her in his arms and by a whispered word of tenderness, persuade
those tears away. Yet he was a man of the world, and had seen and known
enough. But had he known them humanly? Or only from the usual standpoint
of masculine egotism? As he thought this, a strain of sweet and solemn
music stole through the room,--Louis Valdor had risen to his feet, and
holding the violin tenderly against his heart, was coaxing out of its
wooden cavity a plaintive request for sympathy and attention. Such
delicious music thrilled upon the dead silence as might have fitted
Shelley’s exquisite lines.

   “There the voluptuous nightingales,
      Are awake through all the broad noon-day,
  When one with bliss or sadness fails,
      And through the windless ivy-boughs
  Sick with sweet love, droops dying away
      On its mate’s music-panting bosom;
      Another from the swinging blossom,
  Watching to catch the languid close
      Of the last strain; then lifts on high
      The wings of the weak melody,
  Till some new strain of feeling bear
      The song, and all the woods are mute;
  When there is heard through the dim air
  The rush of wings, and rising there
      Like many a lake-surrounded flute
  Sounds overflow the listener’s brain,
  So sweet that joy is almost pain.”

“Thank God for music!” said Sergius Thord, as Valdor laid aside his bow;
“It exorcises the evil spirit from every modern Saul!”

“Sometimes!” responded Valdor; “But I have known cases where the evil
spirit has been roused by music instead of suppressed. Art, like virtue,
has two sides!”

Zouche was still holding Pequita’s hand. He looked ill and exhausted,
like a man who had passed through a violent paroxysm of fever.

“You are a good child, Pequita!” he was saying softly; “Try to be always
so!--it is difficult--but it is easier to a woman than to a man! Women
have more of good in them than men!”

“How about the dance?” suggested Thord; “The hour is late,--close on
midnight--and Lotys must be tired.”

“Shall I dance now?” enquired Pequita.

Lotys smiled and nodded. Four or five of the company at once got up, and
helped to push aside the table.

“Will you play for me, Monsieur Valdor?” asked the little girl, still
standing by the side of Zouche.

“Of course, my child! What shall it be? Something to suggest a fairy
hopping over mushrooms in the moonlight?--or Shakespeare’s Ariel
swinging on a cobweb from a bunch of may?”

Pequita considered, and for a moment did not reply, while Zouche, still
holding her little brown hand, kissed it again.

“You are very fond of dancing?” asked Pasquin Leroy, looking at her dark
face and big black eyes with increasing interest.

She smiled frankly at him.

“Yes! I would like to dance before the King!”

“Fie, fie, Pequita!” cried Johan Zegota, while murmurs of laughter and
playful cries of ‘Shame, Shame’ echoed through the room.

“Why not?” said Pequita; “It would do me good, and my father too! Such
poor, sad people come to the theatre where I dance,--they love to see
me, and I love to dance for them--but then--they too would be pleased if
I could dance at the Royal Opera, because they would know I could then
earn enough money to make my father comfortable.”

“What a very matter-of-fact statement in favour of kings!” exclaimed Max
Graub;--“Here is a child who does not care a button for a king as king;
but she thinks he would be useful as a figure-head to dance to,--for
idiotic Fashion, grouping itself idiotically around the figure-head,
would want to see her dance also--and then--oh simple conclusion!--she
would be able to support her father! Truly, a king has often been put to
worse uses!”

“I think,” said Pasquin Leroy, “I could manage to get you a trial at the
Royal Opera, Pequita! I know the manager.”

She looked up with a sudden blaze of light in her eyes, sprang towards
him, dropped on one knee with an exquisite grace, and kissed his hand.

“Oh!--you will be goodness itself!” she cried;--“And I will be
grateful--indeed I will!--so grateful!”

He was startled and amazed at her impulsive action, and taking her
little hand, gently pressed it.

“Poor child!” he said;--“You must not thank me till I succeed. It is
very little to do--but I will do all I can.”

“Someone else will be grateful too!” said Lotys in her rich thrilling
voice; and her eyes rested on him with that wonderful magnetic sweetness
which drew his soul out of him as by a spell; while Zouche, only
partially understanding the conversation said slowly:--

“Pequita deserves all the good she can get; more than any of us. We do
nothing but try to support ourselves; and we talk a vast amount about
supporting others,--but Pequita works all the time and says nothing. And
she is a genius--she does not know it, but she is. Give us the Dagger
Dance, Pequita! Then our friend Leroy can judge of you at your best, and
make good report of you.”

Pequita looked at Lotys and received a sign of assent. She then nodded
to Valdor.

“You know what to play?”

Valdor nodded in return, and took up his violin. The company drew back
their seats, and sat, or stood aside, from the centre of the room.
Pequita disappeared for a moment, and returned divested of the plain
rusty black frock she had worn, and merely clad in a short scarlet
petticoat, with a low white calico bodice--her dark curls tumbling in
disorder, and grasping in her right hand a brightly polished, unsheathed
dagger. Valdor began to play, and with the first wild chords the
childish figure swayed, circled, and leaped forward like a young Amazon,
the dagger brandished aloft, and gleaming here and there as though it
were a snaky twist of lightning. Very soon Pasquin Leroy found himself
watching the evolutions of the girl dancer with fascinated interest.
Nothing so light, so delicate or so graceful had he ever seen as this
little slight form bending to and fro, now gliding with the grace of a
swan on water--now leaping swiftly as a fawn,--while the attitudes she
threw herself into, sometimes threatening, sometimes defiant, and often
commanding, with the glittering steel weapon held firmly in her tiny
hand, were each and all pictures of youthful pliancy and animation.
As she swung and whirled,--sometimes pirouetting so swiftly that her
scarlet skirt looked like a mere red flower in the wind,--her bright
eyes flashed, her dark hair tangled itself in still richer masses, and
her lips, crimson as the pomegranate, were half parted with her panting

“Brava! Brava!” shouted the men, becoming more and more excited as their
eyes followed the flash of the dagger she held, now directed towards
them, now shaken aloft, and again waved threateningly from side to side,
or pointed at her own bosom, while her little feet twinkled over
the floor in a maze of intricate and perfectly performed steps;--and
“Brava!” cried Pasquin Leroy, as breathless, but still glowing and
bright with her exertions, she suddenly out of her own impulse, dropped
on one knee before him with the glittering dagger pointed straight at
his heart!

“Would that please the King?” she asked, her pearly teeth gleaming into
a mischievous smile between the red lips.

“If it did not, he would be a worse fool than even I take him for!”
 replied Leroy, as she sprang up again, and confronted him. “Here is a
little souvenir from me, child!--and if ever you do dance before his
Majesty, wear it for my sake!”

He took from his pocket a ring, in which was set a fine brilliant of
unusual size and lustre.

She looked at it a moment as he held it out to her.

“Oh, no,” she faltered, “I cannot take it--I cannot! Lotys dear, you
know I cannot!”

Lotys, thus appealed to, left her seat and came forward. Taking the ring
from Leroy’s hand, she examined it a moment, then gently returned it.

“This is too great a temptation for Pequita, my friend,” she said
quietly, but firmly. “In duty bound, she would have to sell it in order
to help her poor father. She could not justly keep it. Let me be the
arbiter in this matter. If you can carry out your suggestion, and obtain
for her an engagement at the Royal Opera, then give it to her, but not
till then! Do you not think I am right?”

She spoke so sweetly and persuasively, that Leroy was profoundly
touched. What he would have liked would have been to give the child a
roll of gold pieces,--but he was playing a strange part, and the time to
act openly was not yet.

“It shall be as you wish, Madame!” he said with courteous deference.
“Pequita, the first time you dance before the King, this shall be

He put aside the jewel, and Pequita kissed his hand impulsively,--as
impulsively she kissed the lips of her friend Lotys--and then came the
general dispersal and break-up of the assembly.

“Tell me;” said Sergius Thord, catching Leroy’s hand in a close and
friendly grasp ere bidding him farewell; “Are you in very truth in
personal danger on account of serving our Cause?”

“No!” replied Leroy frankly, returning the warm pressure; “And rest
assured that if I were, I would find means to elude it! I have managed
to frighten Carl Pérousse, that is all--and Jost!”

“Jost!” echoed Sergius; “The Colossus of the Press? Surely it would take
more than one man to frighten him!”

Leroy laughed.

“I grant you the Jewish centres of journalism are difficult to shake!
But they all depend on stocks and shares!”

A touch on his arm caused him to turn round,--Paul Zouche confronted
both him and Thord, with a solemn worn face, and lack-lustre eyes.

“Good-night, friends!” he said; “I have not kicked at a king with my
boot, but I have with my brain!--and the effort is exhausting! I am
going home to bed.”

“Where is your home?” asked Leroy suddenly.

Zouche looked mysterious.

“In a palace, dear sir! A palace of golden air, peopled with winged
dreams! No money could purchase it;--no ‘Empire Builder’ could build
it!--it is mine and mine alone! And I pay no taxes!”

“Will you put this to some use for me?” said Leroy, holding out a gold
piece; “Simply as comrade and friend?”

Zouche stared at him.

“You mean it?”

“Of course I mean it! Zouche, believe me, you are going to be the
fashion! You will be able to do _me_ a good turn before long!”

Zouche took the gold piece, and as he took it, pressed the giver’s hand.

“You mean well!” he said tremulously; “You know--as Sergius does, that
I am poor,--often starving--often drunk--but you know also that there
is something _here_!”--and he touched his forehead meaningly. “But to be
the ‘fashion’! Bah! I do not belong to the Trade-ocracy! Nobody becomes
the ‘fashion’ nowadays unless they have cheated their neighbours by
short weight and falsified accounts! Good-night! You might be the King
from your looks;--but you have something better than kingship--Heart!
Good-night, Pequita! You danced well! Good-night, Lotys! You spoke well!
Everyone does everything well, except poor Zouche!”

Pequita ran up to him.

“Good-night, dear Paul!”

He stooped and kissed her gently.

“Good-night, little one! If ever you show your twinkling feet at the
Opera, _you_ will be the ‘fashion’--and will you remember Paul then?”

“Always--always!” said Pequita tenderly; “Father and Lotys and I will
always love you!”

Zouche gave a short laugh.

“Always love me! Me! Well!--what strange things children will say, not
knowing in the least what they mean!”

He gave a vague salute to the entire company, and walked out of the
tavern with drooping head. Others followed him,--every man in going,
shook hands with Lotys and Sergius Thord,--the lamps were extinguished,
and the landlord standing in the porch of his tavern watched them all
file out, and bade them all a cordial farewell. Pequita’s home was with
her father in the house where Sergius Thord dwelt, and Lotys kissing her
tenderly good-night, left her to Thord’s care.

“And who will see you home, Lotys?” enquired Thord.

“May I for once have that honour?” asked Pasquin Leroy. His two
companions stared in undisguised amazement, and there was a moment’s

Then Lotys spoke.

“You may!” she said simply.

There was another silence while she put on her hat, and wrapped herself
in her long dark cloak. Then Thord took Pequita by the hand.

“Good-night, Lotys!”

“Good-night, Sergius!”

Leroy turned to his two friends and spoke to them in a low tone.

“Go your ways!” he said peremptorily; “I will join you later!”

Vain were their alarmed looks of remonstrance; and in another moment all
the party had separated, and only Max Graub and Axel Regor remained on
the pavement outside the tavern, disconsolately watching two figures
disappearing in the semi-shadowed moonlight--Pasquin Leroy and
Lotys--walking closely side by side.

“Was there ever such a drama as this?” muttered Graub, “He may lose his
life at any moment!”

“If he does,” responded Regor, “It will not be our fault. We do our best
to guard him from the consequence of one folly,--and he straightway runs
into another! There is no help for it; we have sworn to obey him, and we
must keep our oath!”

They passed slowly along the street, too absorbed in their own
uncomfortable reflections for the interchange of many words. By the
rules of the Revolutionary Committee, they were not allowed ‘to follow
or track any other member’ so they were careful to walk in a reverse
direction to that taken by their late comrades. The great bell of the
Cathedral boomed midnight as they climbed towards the citadel, and the
pale moon peeping whitely through piled-up fleecy clouds, shed a silver
glare upon the quiet sea. And down into the ‘slums,’ down, and ever
deeper, into the sad and cheerless ‘Quarter of the Poor’ Pasquin Leroy
walked as though he trod lightly on a path of flowers,--his heart
beating high, and his soul fully awakened within him, thrilled, he knew
not why, to the heart’s core by the soft low voice of Lotys,--and glad
that in the glimpses of the moonlight her eyes were occasionally lifted
to his face, with something of a child’s trust, if not of a woman’s



The spring was now advancing into full summer, and some time had passed
since the Socialist party had gathered under their leaders to the voice
of Lotys. Troublous days appeared to be impending for the Senate, and
rumours of War,--war sometimes apparently imminent, and again suddenly
averted,--had from time to time worried the public through the Press.
But what was even more disturbing to the country, was the proposed
infliction of new, heavy and irritating taxes, which had begun to affect
the popular mind to the verge of revolt. Twice since Lotys had spoken
at the People’s Assembly Rooms had Sergius Thord addressed huge mass
meetings, which apparently the police had no orders to disperse, and his
power over the multitude was increasing by leaps and bounds. Whenever
he spoke, wherever he worked, the indefatigable Pasquin Leroy was
constantly at his side, and he, in his turn began to be recognized
by the Revolutionary Committee as one of their most energetic
members,--able, resolute, and above all, of an invaluably inscrutable
and self-contained demeanour. His two comrades were not so effectual
in their assistance, and appeared to act merely in obedience to his
instructions. Their attitude, however, suited everyone concerned as
well as, if not better than, if they had been overzealous. Owing to what
Leroy had stated concerning the possibility of his arrest as a spy,
his name was never mentioned in public by one single member of the
Brotherhood; and to the outside Socialist following, he therefore
appeared simply as one of the many who worked under Sergius Thord’s
command. Meanwhile, there were not lacking many other subjects for
popular concern and comment; all of which in their turn gave rise to
anxious discussion and vague conjecture. A Cabinet Council had been
held by the Premier, at which, without warning, the King had attended
personally, but the results were not made known to the public. Yet
the general impression was that his Majesty seemed to be perfectly
indifferent to the feelings or the well-being of his subjects; in fact,
as some of them said with dismal shakings of the head, “It was all a
part of the system; kings were not allowed to do anything even for the
benefit of their people.” And rising Socialism, ever growing stronger,
and amassing in its ranks all the youthful and ambitious intellects of
the time, agreed and swore that it was time for a Republic. Only by a
complete change of Government could the cruelly-increasing taxation
be put down; and if Government was to be changed, why not the dummy
figure-head of Government as well?

Thus Rumour talked, sometimes in whispers--sometimes in shouts;--but
through it all the life of the Court and fashion went on in the same
way,--the King continued to receive with apparent favour the most
successful and most moneyed men from all parts of the world; the Queen
drove or walked, or rode;--and the only prospective change in the social
routine was the report that the Crown Prince was about to leave the
country for a tour round the world, and that he would start on his
journey in his own yacht about the end of the month. The newspapers made
a great fuss in print over this projected tour; but the actual people
were wholly indifferent to it. They had seen very little of the Crown
Prince,--certainly not enough to give him their affection; and whether
he left the kingdom or stayed in it concerned them not at all. He had
done nothing marked or decisive in his life to show either talent,
originality of character, or resolution; and the many ‘puffs’ in the
press concerning him, were scarcely read at all by the public, or
if they were, they were not credited. The expression of an ordinary
working-man with regard to his position was entirely typical of the
general popular sentiment;--“If he would only do something to prove he
had a will of his own, and a mind, he would perhaps be able to set the
Throne more firmly on its legs than it is at present.”

How thoroughly the young man _had_ proved that he indeed possessed ‘a
will of his own,’ was not yet disclosed to the outside critics of his
life and conduct. Only the King and Queen, and Professor von Glauben
knew it;--for even Sir Roger de Launay had not been entrusted with the
story of his secret marriage. The Queen had received the news with her
usual characteristic immobility. A faint cold smile had parted her lips
as she listened to the story of her son’s romance,--and her reply to the
King’s brief explanation was almost as brief:--

“Nearly all the aristocracy marry music-hall women!” she said; “One
should therefore be grateful that a Crown Prince does not go lower in
his matrimonial choice than an innocent little peasant!”

“The marriage is useless, of course,” said the King; “It has satisfied
Humphry’s exalted notions of honour; but it can never be acknowledged or

“Of course not!” she agreed languidly; “It certainly clears up the
mystery of The Islands, which you were so anxious to visit;--and
I suppose the next thing you will do is to marry him again to some
daughter of a Royal house?”

“Most assuredly!”

“As _you_ were married to _me?_” she said, raising her eyes to his
face with that strange deep look which spoke eloquently of some mystery
hidden in her soul.

His cheeks burned with an involuntary flush. He bowed.

“Precisely! As I married you!” he replied.

“The experiment was hardly successful!” she said with her little cold
smile. “I fear you have often regretted it!”

He looked at her, studying her beauty intently,--and the remembrance of
another face, far less fair of feature, but warm and impassioned by the
lovely light of sympathy and tenderness, came between his eyes and hers,
like a heavenly vision.

“Had you loved me,” he said slowly, “I might never have known what it
was to need love!”

A slight tremor ran through her veins. There was a strange tone in his
voice,--a soft cadence to which she was unaccustomed,--something that
suggested a new emotion in his life, and a deeper experience.

“I never loved anyone in my life!” she answered calmly--“And now the
days are past for loving. Humphry, however, has made up for my lack of
the tender passion!”

She turned away indifferently, and appeared to dismiss the matter
altogether from her mind. The first time she saw her son, however, after
hearing of his marriage, she looked at him curiously.

“And so your wife is very lovely, Humphry!” she said with a slightly
derisive smile.

He was not startled by the suddenness of her observation nor put out by

“She is the loveliest woman I have ever seen,--not excepting yourself,”
 he replied.

“It is a very foolish affair!” she continued composedly; “But
fortunately in our line of life such things are easily arranged;--and
your future will not be spoiled by it. I am glad you are going abroad,
as you will very soon forget!”

The Prince regarded her steadfastly with something of grave wonderment
as well as compassion,--but he made no reply, and with the briefest
excuse left her presence as soon as possible, in order to avoid further
conversation on the subject. She, herself, however, found her mind
curiously perturbed and full of conjectures concerning her son’s idyllic
love-story, in which all considerations for her as Queen and mother
seemed omitted,--and where she, as it were, appeared to be shut outside
a lover’s paradise, the delights of which she had never experienced.
The King held many private conferences with her on the matter, in which
sometimes Professor von Glauben was permitted to share;--and the
upshot of these numerous discussions resulted in a scheme which was as
astonishing in its climax as it was unexpected. Over and over again it
has been proved to nations as well as to individuals, that the whole
course of events may be changed by the fixed determination of one
resolute mind; but it is not often that the moral force of a mere girl
succeeds in competing with the authority of kings and parliaments. But
so it chanced on this occasion, and in the following manner.

One glorious early morning, the sun having risen without a cloud in the
deep blue of the sky, and the sea being as calm as an inland lake, the
King’s yacht was seen to weigh anchor and steam away at her fullest
speed towards The Islands. Little or no preparation had been made
for her short voyage; there was no Royal party on board, and the only
passenger was Professor von Glauben. He sat solitary on deck in a
luxurious chair, smoking his meerschaum pipe, and dubiously considering
the difficult and peculiar situation in which he was placed. He made
no attempt to calculate the possible success or failure of his
mission--‘for,’ said he very sagely, ‘it all depends on a woman, and God
alone knows what a woman will do! Her ways are dark and wonderful, and
altogether beyond the limit of the comprehension of man!’

His journey was undertaken at the King’s command; and equally by the
King’s command he had been compelled to keep it a secret from Prince
Humphry. He had never been to The Islands since the King’s ‘surprise
visit’ there, and he was of course not aware that Gloria now knew the
real rank and position of her supposed ‘sailor’ husband. He was at
present charged to break the news to her, and bring her straightway to
the palace, there to confront both the King and Queen, and learn from
them the true state of affairs.

“It is a cruel ordeal,” he said, shaking his head sorrowfully; “Yet I
myself am a party to its being tried. For once in my life I have pinned
my faith on the unspoilt soul of an unworldly woman. I wonder what will
come of it? It rests entirely with Gloria herself, and with no one else
in the world!”

As the yacht arrived at its destination and dropped anchor at some
distance from the pier, owing to the shallowness of the tide at that
hour of the day, The Islands presented a fair aspect in the dancing
beams of the summer sunlight. Numbers of fruit trees were bursting into
blossom,--the apple, the cherry, the pink almond and the orange blossom
all waved together and whispered sweetness to one another in the pure
air, and the full-flowering mimosa perfumed every breath of wind.
Fishermen were grouped here and there on the shore, mending or drying
their nets; and in the fields beyond could be perceived many workers
pruning the hedges or guiding the plough. The vision of a perfect
Arcadia was presented to the eye; and so the Professor thought, as
getting into the boat lowered for him, he was rowed from the yacht to
the landing-place, and there dismissed the sailors, warning them that at
the first sound of his whistle they should swiftly come for him again.

“What a pity to spoil her peace of mind--her simplicity of life!” he
thought, as he walked at a slow and reluctant pace towards Ronsard’s
cottage; “And I fear we shall have trouble with the old man! I wonder if
his philosophy will stand hard wear and tear!”

The pretty, low timber-raftered house confronted him at the next bend in
the road, and presented a charming aspect of tranquillity. The grass in
front of it was smooth as velvet and emerald-green, and in one of the
flower borders Ronsard himself was digging and planting. He looked up as
he heard the gate open, but did not attempt to interrupt his work;--and
Von Glauben advanced towards him with a considerable sense of anxiety
and insecurity in his mind. Anon he paused in the very act of greeting,
as the old man turned his strong, deeply-furrowed countenance upon him
with a look of fierce indignation and scorn.

“So! You are here!” he said; “Have you come to look upon the evil your
Royal master has worked? Or to make dutiful obeisance to Gloria as

Von Glauben was altogether taken aback.

“Then--you know--?” he stammered.

“Oh yes, I know!” responded Ronsard sternly and bitterly; “I know
everything! There has been full confession! If the husband of my Gloria
were more prince than man, my knife would have slit his throat! But he
is more man than prince!--and I have let him live--for her sake!”

“Well--that is so far good!” said Von Glauben, wiping the perspiration
from his brow, and heaving a deep sigh of relief; “And as you fully
comprehend the situation, it saves me the trouble of explaining it! You
are a philosopher, Ronsard! Permit me to remind you of that fact! You
know, like myself, that what is done, even if it is done foolishly,
cannot be undone!”

“I know it! Who should know it so well as I!” and Ronsard set a delicate
rose-tree roughly in the hole he had dug for it, and began to fiercely
pile in the earth around it;--“Fate is fate, and there is no gainsaying
it! The law of Compensation will always have its way! Look you,
man!--and listen! I, Réné Ronsard, once killed a king!--and now in my
old age, the only creature I ever loved is tricked by the son of a king!
It is just! So be it!”

He bent his white head over his digging again, and Von Glauben was for
a moment silent, vaguely amazed and stupefied by this sudden declaration
of a past crime.

“You should not say ‘tricked,’ my friend!” he at last ventured to
remark; “Prince Humphry is an honest lad;--he means to keep his word!”

Ronsard looked up, his eyes gleaming with fury.

“Keep his word? Bah! How can he? Who in this wide realm will give him
the honourable liberty to keep his word? Will he acknowledge Gloria as
his wife before the nation?--she a foundling and a castaway? Will he
make her his future queen? Not he! He will forsake her, and live with
another woman, in sin which the law will sanctify!”

He went on planting the rose-tree, then,--dropping his spade,--tossed up
his head and hands with a wild gesture.

“What, and who is this God who so ordains our destiny!” he exclaimed;
“For surely this is His work,--not mine! Hidden away from all the world
with my life’s secret buried in my soul, I, without wife, or children or
friends, or any soul on earth to care whether I lived or died, was sent
an angel comforter;--the child I rescued from the sea! ‘Gloria, Gloria
in excelsis Deo!’ the choristers sang in the church when I found her! I
thought it true! With her,--in every action, in every thought and
word, I strove,--and have faithfully striven,--to atone for my past
crime;--for I was forced through others to kill that king! When proved
guilty of the deed, I was told by my associates to assume madness,--a
mere matter of acting,--and, being adjudged as insane, I was sent with
other criminals on a convict ship, bound for a certain coast-prison,
where we were all to be kept for life. The ship was wrecked off the
rocks yonder, and it was reported that every soul on board went down,
but I escaped--only I,--for what inscrutable reason God alone knows!
Finding myself saved and free, I devoted my life to hard work, and to
doing all the good I could think of to atone--to atone--always to atone!
Then the child was sent to me; and I thought it was a sign that my
penance was accepted; but no!--no!--the compensating curse falls,--not
on me,--not on me, for if only so, I would welcome it--but on Her!--the
child of my love--the heart of my heart!--on Her!”

He turned away his face, and a hard sob broke from his labouring chest.
Von Glauben laid a gentle, protective hand on his shoulder.

“Ronsard, be a man!” he said in a kind, firm voice; “This is the first
time you have told me your true history--and--I shall respect your
confidence! You have suffered much--equally you have loved much! Doubt
not that you are forgiven much. But why should you assume, or foresee
unhappiness for Gloria? Why talk of a curse where perhaps there is only
an intended blessing? Is she unhappy, that you are thus moved?”

Ronsard furtively dashed away the tears from his eyes.

“She? Gloria unhappy? No,--not yet! The delights of spring and summer
have met in her smile,--her eyes, her movements! It was she herself who
told me all! If he had told me, I would have killed him!”

“Eminently sensible!” said Von Glauben, recovering his usual phlegmatic
calm; “You would have killed the man she loves best in the world. And so
with perfect certainty you would have killed her as well,--and probably
yourself afterwards. A perfect slaughterhouse, like the last scene in
Hamlet, by the so admirable Shakespeare! It is better as it is. Life is
really very pleasant!”

He sniffed the perfumed air,--listened with appreciation to the trilling
of a bird swinging on a bough of apple-blossom above him, and began to
feel quite easy in his mind. Half his mission was done for him, Prince
Humphry having declared himself in his true colours. “I always said,”
 mused the Professor, “that he was a very honest young man! And I think
he will be honest to the end.” Aloud he asked:

“When did you know the truth?”

“Some days since,” replied Ronsard. “He--Gloria’s husband--I can as yet
call him by no other name--came suddenly one evening;--the two went out
together as usual, and then--then my child returned alone. She told
me all,--of the disguise he had assumed--and of his real identity--and
I--well! I think I was mad! I know I spoke and acted like a madman!”

“Nay, rather say like a philosopher!” murmured Von Glauben with a
humorous smile; “Remember, my good fellow, that there is no human being
who loses self-control more easily and rapidly than he who proclaims the
advantage of keeping it! And what did Gloria say to you?”

Ronsard looked up at the tranquil skies, and was for a moment silent.
Then he answered.

“Gloria is--just Gloria! There is no woman like her,--there never
will be any woman like her! She said nothing at all while I raged and
swore;--she stood before me white and silent,--grand and calm, like some
great angel. Then when I cursed _him,_--she raised her hand, and like
a queen she said: ‘I forbid you to utter one word against him!’ I stood
before her mute and foolish. ‘I forbid you!’ She,--the child I reared
and nurtured--menaced me with her ‘command’ as though I were her slave
and servant! You see I have lost her!--she is not mine any more--she is
_his_--to be treated as he wills, and made the toy of his pleasure! She
does not know the world, but I know it! I know the misery that is in
store for her! But there is yet time--and I will live to avenge her

“Possibly there will be no wrong to avenge,” said Von Glauben
composedly; “But if there is, I have no doubt you would kill another
king!” Ronsard turned pale and shuddered. “It is stupid work, killing
kings,” went on the Professor; “It never does any good; and often
increases the evil it was intended to cure. Your studies in philosophy
must have taught you that much at least! As for your losing Gloria,--you
lost her in a sense when you gave her to her husband. It is no use
complaining now, because you find he is not the man you took him for.
The mischief is done. At any rate you are bound to admit that Gloria
has, so far, been perfectly happy; she will be happy still, I truly
believe, for she has the secret of happiness in her own beautiful
nature. And you, Ronsard, must make the best of things, and meet fate
with calmness. To-day, for instance, I am here by the King’s command,--I
bear his orders,--and I have come for Gloria. They want her at the

Ronsard stepped out of his flower-border, and stood on the greensward
amazed, and indignantly suspicious.

“They want her at the Palace!” he repeated; “Why? What for? To do her
harm? To make her miserable? To insult and threaten her? No, she shall
not go!”

“Look here, my friend,” said the Professor with mild patience; “You
have--for a philosopher--a most unpleasant habit of jumping to wrong
conclusions! Please endeavour to compose the tumult in your soul, and
listen to me! The King has sent for Gloria, and I am instructed to take
charge of her, and escort her to the presence of their Majesties. No
insult, no threat, no wrong is intended. I will bring her back again
safe to you immediately the audience is concluded. Be satisfied,
Ronsard! For once ‘put your trust in princes,’ for her husband will be
there,--and do you think he would suffer her to be insulted or wronged?”

Ronsard’s sunken eyes looked wild,--his aged frame trembled violently,
and he gave a hopeless gesture.

“I do not know--I do not know!” he said incoherently; “I am an old man,
and I have always found it a wicked world! But--if you give me your word
that she shall come to no harm, I will trust _you_!”

Silently Von Glauben took his hand and pressed it. Two or three minutes
passed, weighted with unuttered and unutterable thoughts in the minds of
both men; and then, in a somewhat hushed voice, the Professor said:

“Ronsard, I am just now reminded of the tragic story of Rudolf of
Austria, who killed himself through the maddening sorrow of an ill-fated
love! We, in our different lines of life should remember that,--and let
no young innocent heart suffer through our follies--our rages against
fate--our conventions--our more or less idiotic laws of restraint and
hypocrisy. The tragedy of Prince Rudolf and the unhappy Marie Vetsera
whom he worshipped, was caused by the sin and the falsehood of
others,--not by the victims of the cruel catastrophe. Therefore, I say
to you, my friend, be wise in time!--and control the natural stormy
tendency of your passions in this present affair. I assure you, on my
faith and honour as a man, that the King has a kindly heart and a brave
one,--together with a strong sense of justice. He is not truly known to
his people;--they only see him through the pens of press reporters, or
the slavish descriptions of toadies and parasites. Then again, the Crown
Prince is an honourable lad; and from what I know of him, he is not
likely to submit to conventional usages in matters which are close to
his life and heart. Gloria herself is of such an exceptional character
and disposition, that I think she may be safely left to arbitrate her
own destiny----”

“And the Queen?” interrupted Ronsard suddenly;--“She, at any rate, as a
woman, wife and mother, will be gentle?”

“Gentle, she certainly is,” said Von Glauben, with a slight sigh; “But
only because she does not consider it worth while to be otherwise! God
has put a stone in the place where her heart should be! However,--she
will have little to say, and still less to do with to-day’s business.
You tell me you will trust me; I promise you, you shall not repent your
trust! But I must see Gloria herself. Where is she?”

Ronsard pointed towards the cottage.

“She is in there, studying,” he said; “Books of the old time;--books
that few read. She gets them all from Sergius Thord. How would it be,
think you, if he knew?”

The pleasantly rubicund countenance of the Professor grew a shade paler.

“Sergius Thord--Sergius Thord?--H’m--h’m--let me see!--who is he? Ah!
I remember,--he is the Socialist lion, for ever roaring through the
streets and seeking whom he may devour! I daresay he is not without

“Cleverness!” echoed Ronsard; “That is a tame word! He has genius, and
the people swear by him. Since the proposed new taxation, and other
injustices of the Government, he has gained adherents by many thousands.
You,--whom I once took to be a mere German schoolmaster, a friend of the
young ‘sailor’ whom my child so innocently wedded,--you whom I now know
to be the King’s physician--surely you cannot live on the mainland, and
in the metropolis, without knowing of the power of Sergius Thord?”

“I know something--not much;” replied the Professor guardedly; “But
come, my friend, _I_ have not deceived you! I was in very truth a poor
‘German schoolmaster,’ once,--before I became a student of medicine
and surgery. And that I am the King’s physician, is merely one of
those accidental circumstances which occur in a world of chance.
But schoolmaster as I have been, I doubt if I would set our
‘Glory-of-the-Sea’ to study books recommended to her by Sergius Thord.
The poetry of Heine is more suitable to her age and sex. Let us break
in upon her meditations.” And he walked across the grass with one arm
thrust through that of Ronsard; “For she must prepare herself. We ought
to be gone within an hour.”

They passed under the low, rose-covered porch into a wide square room,
with raftered ceiling and deep carved oak ingle nook,--and here at the
table, with a quarto volume opened out before her, sat Gloria, resting
her head on one fair hand, her rich hair falling about her in loose
shining tresses, and her whole attitude expressive of the deepest
absorption in study. As they entered, she looked up and smiled,--then
rose, her hand still resting on the open book.

“At last you have come again, dear Professor!” she said; “I began to
think you had grown weary in well-doing!”

Von Glauben stared at her, stricken speechless for a moment. What
mysterious change had passed over the girl, investing her with such an
air of regal authority? It was impossible to say. To all appearance she
was the same beautiful creature, clad in the same simple white homespun
gown,--yet were she Empress of half the habitable globe, she could
not have looked more environed with dignity, sweetness and delicately
gracious manner. He understood the desolating expression of
Ronsard,--‘You see I have lost her!--she is not mine any more--she is
his!’ He recognised and was suddenly impressed by that fact;--she
was ‘his’--the wife of the Crown Prince and Heir-Apparent to the
Throne;--and evidently with the knowledge of her position had arisen the
pride of love and the spirit of grace to support her honours worthily.
And so, as Von Glauben met her eyes, which expressed their gentle wonder
at his silence, and as she extended her hand to him, he came slowly
forward and bowing low, respectfully kissed that hand.

“Princess,” he said, in a voice that trembled ever so slightly; “I shall
never be weary in well-doing,--if you are good enough to call my
service and friendship for you by that name! I hesitated to come
before,--because I thought--I feared--I did not know!--”

“I understand!” said Gloria tranquilly; “You did not think the Prince,
my husband, would tell me the truth so soon! But I know all, and now--I
am glad to know it! Dearest,” and she moved swiftly to Ronsard who was
standing silent in the doorway--“come in and sit down! You make yourself
so tired sometimes in the garden;” and she threw a loving arm about him.
“You must rest; you look so pale!”

For all answer, he lifted the hand that hung about his neck, to his lips
and kissed it tenderly.

“They want you, Gloria!” he said tremulously; “They want you at the
Palace. You must go to-day!”

She lifted her brilliant eyes enquiringly to Von Glauben, who responded
to the look by at once explaining his mission. He was there, he said, by
the King’s special command;--their Majesties had been informed of their
son’s marriage by their son himself; and they desired at once to see
and speak with their unknown daughter-in-law. The interview would be
private; his Royal Highness the Crown Prince would be present;--it might
last an hour, perhaps longer,--and he, Von Glauben, was entrusted to
bring Gloria to the Palace, and escort her back to The Islands again
when all was over. Thus, with elaborate and detailed courtesy, the
Professor unfolded the nature of his enterprise, while Gloria, still
keeping one arm round Ronsard, heard and smiled.

“I shall obey the King’s command!” she said composedly; “Though,--having
no word from the Prince, my husband, concerning this mandate,--I might
very well refuse to do so! But it may be as well that their Majesties
and their son’s wife should plainly, and once for all, understand each
other. Dear Professor, you look sadly troubled. Is there some little
convention, some special ceremonial of so-called ‘good manners,’ which
you are commissioned to teach me, before I make my appearance at Court
under your escort?”

Her lovely lips smiled,--her eyes laughed,--she looked the very
incarnation of Beauty triumphant. Von Glauben’s brain whirled,--he felt
bewitched and dazzled.

“I?--to teach you anything? No, my princess!--and please think how
loyally I have called you ‘Princess’ from the beginning!--I have always
told you that you have a spiritual knowledge far surpassing all material
wisdom. Conventions and ceremonials are not for you,--you will make
fashion, not follow it! I am not troubled, save for your sake, dear
child!--for you know nothing of the world, and the ways of the Court may
at first offend you--”

“The ways of Hell must have seemed dark to Proserpine,” said Ronsard in
his harsh, strong voice; “But Love gave her light!”

“A very just reminder!” said Von Glauben, well pleased;--“Consider
Gloria to be the new Proserpine to-day! And now she must forgive me for
playing the part of a tyrannical friend, and urging her to hasten her

Gloria bent down and kissed Ronsard gently.

“Trust me, little father!” she whispered; “You have not taught me great
lessons of truth in vain!”

Aloud she said.

“The King and Queen wish to see me and speak with me,--and I know the
reason why! They desire to fully explain to me all that my husband
has already told me,--which is that according to the rules made for
monarchs, our marriage is inadmissible. Well!--I have my answer ready;
and you, Professor, shall hear me give it! Wait but a few moments and I
will come with you.”

She left the room. The two men looked at each other in silence. At last
Von Glauben said:--

“Ronsard, I think you will soon reap the reward of your
‘life-philosophy’ system! You have fed that girl from her childhood on
strong intellectual food, and trained the mental muscles rather than the
physical ones. Upon my word, I believe you will see a good result!”

Ronsard, who had grown much calmer and quieter during the last few
minutes, raised himself a little from the chair into which he had sunk
with an air of fatigue, and looked dreamily towards the open lattice
window, where the roses hung in a curtain of crimson blossom.

“If it be so, I shall praise God!” he said; “But the years have come and
gone with me so peacefully since I made my home on these quiet shores,
that the exercise of what I have presumed to call ‘philosophy’ has had
no chance. Philosophy! It is well to preach it,--but when the blow of
misfortune falls, who can practise it?”

“You can,” replied the Professor;--“I can! Gloria can! I think we all
three have clear brains. There is a tendency in the present age
to overlook and neglect the greatest power in the whole human
composition,--the mental and psychical part of it. Now, in the present
curious drama of events, we have a chance given to exercise it; and it
will be our own faults if we do not make our wills rule our destinies!”

“But the position is intolerable--impossible!” said Ronsard, rising and
pacing the room with a fresh touch of agitation. “Nothing can do away
with the fact that we--my child and I--have been cruelly deceived!
And now there can be only one of two contingencies; Gloria must be
acknowledged as the Prince’s wife,--in which case he will be forced to
resign all claim to the Throne;--or he must marry again, which makes her
no wife at all. That is a disgrace which her pride would never submit
to, nor mine;--for did I not kill a king?”

“Let me advise you for the future not to allude to that disagreeable
incident!” said Von Glauben persuasively: “Exercise discretion,--as I
do! Observe that I do not ask you what king you killed;--I am as careful
on that matter as I am concerning the reasons for which I myself left
my native Fatherland! I make it a rule never to converse on painful
subjects. You tell me you have tried to atone; then believe that the
atonement is made, and that Gloria is the sign of its acceptance,
and--happy augury!--here she comes.”

They both instinctively turned to confront the girl as she entered. She
had changed her ordinary white homespun gown for another of the same
kind, equally simple, but fresh and unworn; her glorious bronze-chestnut
hair was unbound to its full rippling length, and was held back by a
band or fillet of curiously carved white coral, which surmounted the
rich tresses somewhat in the fashion of a small crown, and she
carried, thrown over one arm, the only kind of cloak she ever wore,--a
burnous-like wrap of the same white homespun as her dress, with a hood,
which, as the Professor slowly took out his glasses and fixed them on
his nose out of mere mechanical habit, to look at her more closely, she
drew over her head and shoulders, the soft folds about her exquisite
face completing a classic picture of such radiant beauty as is seldom
seen nowadays among the increasingly imperfect and repulsive specimens
of female humanity which ‘progress’ combined with sensuality, produce
for the ‘advancement’ of the race.

“I have no Court dress,” she said smiling; “And if I had I should not
wear it! The King and Queen shall see me as my husband sees me,--what
pleases him, must suffice to please them! I am quite ready!”

Von Glauben removed the spectacles he had needlessly put on. They were
dim with a moisture which he furtively polished off, blinking his eyes
meanwhile as if the light hurt him. He was profoundly moved--thrilled
to the very core of his soul by the simplicity, frankness and courage of
this girl whose education was chiefly out of wild Nature’s lesson-book,
and who knew nothing of the artificial world of fashion.

“And I, my princess, am at your service!” he said; “Ronsard, it is but a
few hours that we shall be absent. To-night with the rising of the
moon we shall return, and I doubt not with the Prince himself as chief
escort! Keep a good heart and have faith! All will be well!”

“All _shall_ be well if Love can make it so!” said Ronsard;--“Gloria--my
child--!” He held out his wrinkled hands pathetically, unable to say
more. She sank on her knees before him, and tenderly drawing down those
hands upon her head, pressed them closely there.

“Your blessing, dearest!” she said; “Not in speech--but in thought!”

There was a moment’s sacred silence;--then Gloria rose, and throwing
her arms round the old man, the faithful protector of her infancy and
girlhood, kissed him tenderly. After that, she seemed to throw all
seriousness to the winds, and running out under the roses of the porch
made two or three light dancing steps across the lawn.

“Come!” she cried, her eyes sparkling, her face radiant with the gaiety
of her inward spirit; “Come, Professor! This is not what we call a
poet’s day of dreams,--it is a Royal day of nonsense! Come!” and here
she drew herself up with a stately air--“WE are prepared to confront the

The Professor caught the infection of her mirth, and quickly followed
her; and within the next half-hour Réné Ronsard, climbing slowly to
the summit of one of the nearest rocks on the shore adjacent to his
dwelling, shaded his eyes from the dazzling sunlight on the sea, and
strained them to watch the magnificent Royal yacht steaming swiftly over
the tranquil blue water, with one slight figure clad in white leaning
against the mast, a figure that waved its hand fondly towards The
Islands, and of whom it might have been said:

  “Her gaze was glad past love’s own singing of,
  And her face lovely past desire of love!”



That same afternoon there was a mysterious commotion at the
Palace,--whispers ran from lip to lip among the few who had seen her,
that a beautiful woman,--lovelier than the Queen herself,--had, under
the escort of the uncommunicative Professor von Glauben, passed into
the presence of the King and Queen, to receive the honour of a private
audience. Who was she? What was she? Where did she come from? How was
she dressed? This last question was answered first, being easiest
to deal with. She was attired all in white,--‘like a picture’ said
some--‘like a statue’ said others. No one, however, dared ask any direct
question concerning her,--her reception, whoever she was, being of a
strictly guarded nature, and peremptory orders having been given to
admit no one to the Queen’s presence-chamber, to which apartment she
had been taken by the King’s physician. But such dazzling beauty as
hers could not go altogether unnoticed by the most casual attendant,
sentinel, or lord-in-waiting, and the very fact that special commands
had been issued to guard all the doors of entrance to the Royal
apartments on either hand, during her visit, only served to pique and
inflame the general curiosity.

Meantime,--while lesser and inferior personages were commenting on the
possibility of the unknown fair one being concerned with some dramatic
incident that might have to be included among the King’s numerous
gallantries,--the unconscious subject of their discussion was quietly
seated alone in an ante-room adjoining the Queen’s apartments, waiting
till Professor von Glauben should announce that their Majesties were
ready to receive her. She was not troubled or anxious, or in any way
ill at ease. She looked curiously upon the splendid evidences of
Royal state, wealth and luxury which surrounded her, with artistic
appreciation but no envy. She caught sight of her own face and figure
in a tall mirror opposite to her, set in a silver frame; and she studied
herself quietly and critically with the calm knowledge that there was
nothing to deplore or to regret in the way God and Nature had been
pleased to make her. She was not in the slightest degree vain,--but
she knew that a healthy and quiet mind in a healthy and unspoilt body,
together form what is understood as the highest beauty,--and that these
two elements were not lacking in her. Moreover, she was conscious of a
great love warming her heart and strengthening her soul,--and with
this great motive-force to brace her nerves and add extra charm to her
natural loveliness, she had no fear. She had enjoyed the swift voyage
across the sparkling sea, and the fresh air had made her eyes doubly
lustrous, her complexion even more than usually fair and brilliant.
She did not permit herself to be rendered unhappy or anxious as to the
possible attitude of the King and Queen towards her,--she was prepared
for all contingencies, and had fully made up her mind what to say.
Therefore, there was no need to fret over the position, or to be
timorously concerned because she was called upon to confront those who
by human law alone were made superior in rank to the rest of mankind.

“In God’s sight all men are equal!” she said to herself: “The King is
a mere helpless babe at birth, dependant on others,--as he is a mere
helpless corpse at death. It is only men’s own foolish ideas and
conventions of usage in life that make any difference!”

At that moment the Professor entered hurriedly, and impulsively seizing
her hands in his own, kissed them and pressed them tenderly. His face
was flushed--he was evidently strongly excited.

“Go in there now, Princess!” he whispered, pointing to the adjacent
room, of which the door stood ajar; “And may God be on your side!”

She rose up, and releasing her hands gently from his nervous grasp,

“Do not be afraid!” she said; “You, too, are coming?”

“I follow you!” he replied.

And to himself he said: “Ach, Gott in Himmel! Will she keep her so
beautiful calm? If she will--if she can--a throne would be well lost for
such a woman!”

And he watched her with an admiration amounting almost to fear, as she
passed before him and entered the Royal presence-chamber with a proud
light step, a grace of bearing and a supreme distinction, which, had she
been there on a day of diplomatic receptions, would have made half the
women accustomed to attend Court, look like the merest vulgar plebeians.

The room she entered was very large and lofty. A dazzle of gold ceiling,
painted walls and mirrors flashed upon her eyes, with the hue of silken
curtains and embroidered hangings,--the heavy perfume of hundreds of
flowers in tall crystal vases and wide gilded stands made the air drowsy
and odorous, and for a moment, Gloria, just fresh from the sweet breath
of the sea, felt sickened and giddy,--but she recovered quickly, and
raised her eyes fearlessly to the two motionless figures, which, like
idols set in a temple for worship, waited her approach. The King,
stiffly upright, and arrayed in military uniform, stood near the Queen,
who was seated in a throne-like chair over-canopied with gold,--her
trailing robes were of a pale azure hue bordered with ermine, and
touched here and there with silver, giving out reflexes of light, stolen
as it seemed from the sea and sky,--and her beautiful face, with its
clear-cut features and cold pallor, might have been carved out of ivory,
for all the interest or emotion expressed upon it. Gloria came straight
towards her, then stopped. With her erect supple form, proud head
and fair features, she looked the living embodiment of sovereign
womanhood,--and the Queen, meeting the full starry glance of her eyes,
stirred among her Royal draperies, and raised herself with a slow
graceful air of critical observation, in which there was a touch
of languid wonder mingled with contempt. Still Gloria stood
motionless,--neither abashed nor intimidated,--she made no curtsey or
reverential salutation of any kind, and presently removing her gaze from
the Queen, she turned to the King.

“You sent for me,” she said; “And I have come. What do you want with

The King smiled. What a dazzling Perfection was here, he thought! A
second Una unarmed, and strong in the courage of innocence! But he was
acting a special part, and he determined to play it well and thoroughly.
So he gave her no reply, but turned with a stiff air to Von Glauben.

“Tell the girl to make her obeisance to the Queen!” he said.

The Professor very reluctantly approached the ‘Glory-of-the-Sea’ with
this suggestion, cautiously whispered. Gloria obeyed at once. Moving
swiftly to the Queen’s chair, she bent low before her.

“Madam!” she said, “I am told to kneel to you, because you are the
Queen,--but it is not for that I do so. I kneel, because you are my
husband’s mother!”

And raising the cold impassive hand covered with great gems, that
rested idly on the rich velvets so near to her touch, she gently kissed
it,--then rose up to her full height again.

“Is it always like this here?” she asked, gazing around her. “Do you
always sit thus in a chair, dressed grandly and quite silent?”

The smile deepened on the King’s face; the Queen, perforce moved at last
from her inertia, half rose with an air of amazement and indignation,
and Von Glauben barely saved himself from laughing outright.

“You,” continued Gloria, fixing her bright glance on the King; “You have
seen me before! You have spoken to me. Then why do you pretend not to
know me now? Is that Court manners? If so, they are not good or kind!”

The King relaxed his formal attitude, and addressed his Consort in a low

“It is no use dealing with this girl in the conventional way,” he said;
“She is a mere child at heart, simple and uneducated;--we must treat her
as such. Perhaps you will speak to her first?”

“No, Sir, I much prefer that you should do so,” she replied. “When I
have heard her answers to you, it will be perhaps my turn!”

Thereupon the King advanced a step or two, and Gloria regarded him
steadfastly. Meeting the pure light of those lovely eyes, he lost
something of his ordinary self-possession,--he was conscious of a
certain sense of embarrassment and foolishness;--his very uniform,
ablaze with gold and jewelled orders, seemed a clown’s costume compared
with the classic simplicity of Gloria’s homespun garb, which might have
fitly clothed a Greek goddess. Sensible of his nervous irritation, he
however overcame it by an effort, and summoning all his dignity, he
‘graciously,’ as the newspaper parasites put it, extended his hand.
Gloria smiled archly.

“I kissed your hand the other day when you were cross!” she said; “You
would like it kissed again? There!”

And with easy grace of gesture she pressed her lips lightly upon it. It
would have needed something stronger than mere flesh and blood to resist
the natural playfulness and charm of her action, combined with her
unparalleled beauty, and the King, who was daily and hourly proving
for himself the power and intensity of that Spirit of Man which makes
clamour for higher things than Man’s conventionalities, became for the
moment as helplessly overwhelmed and defeated by a woman’s smile,
a woman’s eyes, as any hero of old times, whose conquests have been
reported to us in history as achieved for the sake of love and beauty.
But he was compelled to disguise his thoughts, and to maintain an
outward expression of formality, particularly in the presence of his
Queen-Consort,--and he withdrew the hand that bore her soft kiss upon it
with a well-simulated air of chill tolerance. Then he spoke gravely, in
measured precise accents.

“Gloria Ronsard, we have sent for you in all kindness,” he said; “out of
a sincere wish to remedy any wrong which our son, the Crown Prince has,
in the light folly and hot impulse of his youth, done to you in your
life. We are given to understand that there is a boy-and-girl attachment
between you; that he won your attachment under a disguised identity, and
that you were thus innocently deceived,--and that, in order to satisfy
his own honourable scruples, as well as your sense of maidenly virtue,
he has, still under a disguise, gone through the ceremony of marriage
with you. Therefore, it seems that you now imagine yourself to be his
lawful wife. This is a very natural mistake for a girl to make who is as
young and inexperienced as you are, and I am sorry,--very sorry for the
false position in which my son the Crown Prince has so thoughtlessly
placed you. But, after very earnest consideration, I,--and the Queen
also,--think it much better for you to know the truth at once, so that
you may fully realize the situation, and then, by the exercise of a
little common sense, spare yourself any further delusion and pain. All
we can do to repair the evil, you may rest assured shall be done. But
you must thoroughly understand that the Crown Prince, as heir to the
Throne, cannot marry out of his own station. If he should presume to
do so, through some mad and hot-headed impulse, such a marriage is not
admitted or agreed to by the nation. Thus you will see plainly that,
though you have gone through the marriage ceremony with him, that counts
as nothing in your case,--for, according to the law of the realm, and in
the sight of the world, you are not, and cannot be his wife!”

Gloria raised her deep bright eyes and smiled.

“No?” she said, and then was silent.

The King regarded her with surprise, and a touch of anger. He had
expected tears, passionate declamations, and reiterated assurances of
the unalterable and indissoluble tie between herself and her lover, but
this little indifferently-queried “No?” upset all his calculations.

“Have you nothing to say?” he asked, somewhat sternly.

“What should I say?” she responded, still smiling; “You are the King; it
is for you to speak!”

“She does not understand you, Sir,” interrupted the Queen coldly; “Your
words are possibly too elaborate for her simple comprehension!”

Gloria turned a fearless beautiful glance upon her.

“Pardon me, Madam, but I do understand!” she said; “I understand that by
the law of God I am your son’s wife, and that by the law of the world I
am no wife! I abide by the law of God!”

There was a moment’s dead silence. Professor von Glauben gave a discreet
cough to break it, and the King, reminded of his presence turned towards

“Has she no sense of the position?” he demanded.

“Sir, I have every reason to believe that she grasps it thoroughly!”
 replied Von Glauben with a deferential bow.

“Then why----”

But here he was again interrupted by the Queen. She, raising herself in
her chair, her beautiful head and shoulders lifted statue-like from
her enshrining draperies of azure and white, stretched forth a hand and
beckoned Gloria towards her.

“Come here, child!” she said; then as Gloria advanced with evident
reluctance, she added; “Come closer--you must not be afraid of me!”

Gloria smiled.

“Nay, Madam, trouble not yourself at all in that regard! I never was
afraid of anyone!”

A shadow of annoyance darkened the Queen’s fair brows.

“Since you have no fear, you may equally have no shame!” she said
in icy-cold accents; “Therefore it is easy to understand why you
deliberately refuse to see the harm and cruelty done to our son, the
Crown Prince, by his marriage with you, if such marriage were in the
least admissible, which fortunately for all concerned, it is not. He
is destined to occupy the Throne, and he must wed someone who is fit to
share it. Kings and princes may love where they choose,--but they can
only marry where they must! You are my son’s first love;--the thought
and memory of that may perhaps be a consolation to you,--but do not
assume that you will be his last!”

Gloria drew back from her; her face had paled a little.

“You can speak so!” she said sorrowfully; “You,--his mother! Poor
Queen--poor woman! I am sorry for you!”

Without pausing to notice the crimson flush of vexation that flew
over the Queen’s delicate face at her words, she turned, now with some
haughtiness, to the King.

“Speak plainly!” she said; “What is it you want of me?”

Her flashing eyes, her proud look startled him--he moved back a step
or two. Then he replied with as much firmness and dignity as he could

“Nothing is wanted of you, my child, but obedience and loyalty! Resign
all claim upon the Crown Prince as his wife; promise never to see him
again, or correspond with him,--and--you shall lose nothing by the
sacrifice you make of your little love affair to the good of the

“The good of the country!” echoed Gloria in thrilling tones. “Do _you_
know anything about it? You--who never go among your people except to
hunt and shoot and amuse yourself generally? You, who permit wicked
liars and spendthrifts to gamble with the people’s money! The good of
the country! If my life could only lift the burden of taxation from the
country, I would lay it down gladly and freely! If I were Queen, do you
think I could be like her?” and she stretched forth her white arm to
where the Queen, amazed, had risen from her seat, and now stood erect,
her rich robes trailing yards on the ground, and flashing at every point
with jewels. “Do you think I could sit unmoved, clad in rich velvet and
gems, while one single starving creature sought bread within my kingdom?
Nay, I would sell everything I possessed and go barefoot rather! I would
be a sister, not a mere ‘patroness’ to the poor;--I would never wear a
single garment that had not been made for me by the workers of my own
land;--and the ‘good of the country’ should be ‘good’ indeed, not ‘bad,’
as it is now!”

Breathless with the sudden rush of her thoughts into words, she stood
with heaving bosom and sparkling eyes, the incarnation of eloquence and
inspiration, and before the astonished monarch could speak, she went on.

“I am your son’s wife! He loves me--he has wedded me honourably and
lawfully. You wish me to disclaim that. I will not! From him and him
alone, must come my dismissal from his heart, his life and his soul. If
he desires his marriage with me dissolved, let him tell me so himself
face to face, and before you and his mother! Then I shall be content to
be no more his wife. But not till then! I will promise nothing without
his consent. He is my husband,--and to him I owe my first obedience.
I seek no honour, no rank, no wealth,--but I have won the greatest
treasure in this world, his love!--and that I will keep!”

A door opened at the further end of the room--a curtain was quietly
pushed aside, and the Crown Prince entered. With a composed, almost
formal demeanour, he saluted the King and Queen, and then going up to
Gloria, passed his arm around her waist, and held her fast.

“When you have concluded your interview with my wife, Sir,--an interview
of which I had no previous knowledge,” he said quietly, addressing the
King; “I shall be glad to have one of my own with her!”

The King answered him calmly enough.

“Your wife,--as you call her,--is a very incorrigible young person,” he
said. “The sooner she returns to her companions, the fisher-folk on The
Islands, the better! From her looks I imagined she might have sense;
but I fear that is lacking to her composition! However, she is perfectly
willing to consider her marriage with you dissolved, if you desire it. I
trust you _will_ desire it;--here, now, and at once, in my presence
and that of the Queen, your mother;--and thus a very unpleasant and
unfortunate incident in your career will be satisfactorily closed!”

Prince Humphry smiled.

“Dissolve the heavens and its stars into a cup of wine, and drink them
all down at one gulp!” he said; “And then, perhaps, you may dissolve my
marriage with this lady! If you consider it illegal, put the question
to the Courts of Law;--to the Pope, who most strenuously supports
the sanctity of the marriage-tie;--ask all who know anything of the
sacrament, whether, when two people love each other, and are bound by
holy matrimony to be as one, and are mutually resolved to so remain, any
earthly power can part them! ‘Those whom God hath joined together, let
no man put asunder.’ Is that mere lip mockery, or is it a holy bond?”

The King gave an impatient gesture.

“There is no use in argument,” he said, “when argument has to be carried
on with such children as yourselves. What cannot be done by persuasion,
must be done by force. I wished to act kindly and reasonably by both of
you--and I had hoped better things from this interview,--but as matters
have turned out, it may as well be concluded.”

“Wait!” said Gloria, disengaging herself gently from her husband’s
embrace; “I have something to say which ought to meet your wishes, even
though it may not be all you desire. I will not promise to give up my
husband;--I will not promise never to see him, and never to write to
him--but I will swear to you one thing that should completely put your
fears and doubts of me at rest!”

Both the King and Queen looked at her wonderingly;--a brighter, more
delicate beauty seemed to invest her,--she stood very proudly upright,
her small head lifted,--her rich hair glistening in the soft sunshine
that streamed in subdued tints through the high stained-glass windows
of the room,--her figure, slight and tall, was like that of the goddess
dreamt of by Endymion.

“You are so unhappy already,” she continued, turning to the Queen; “You
have lost so much, and you need so much, that I should be sorry to
add to your burden of grief! If I thought I could make you glad,--if
I thought I could make you see the world through my eyes, with all the
patient, loving human hearts about you, waiting for the sympathy you
never give; I would come to you often, and try to find the warm pulse of
you somewhere under all that splendour which you clothe yourself in,
and which is as valueless to me as the dust on the common road! And if
I could show _you_” and here she fixed her steadfast glance upon the
King,--“where you might win friends instead of losing them,--if I could
persuade you to look and see where the fires of Revolution are beginning
to smoulder and kindle under your very Throne,--if I could bear messages
from you of compassion and tenderness to all the disaffected and
disloyal, I would ask you on my knees to let me be your daughter in
affection, as I am by marriage; and I would unveil to you the secrets of
your own kingdom, which is slowly but steadily rising against you! But
you judge me wrongly--you estimate me falsely,--and where I might have
given aid, your own misconception of me makes me useless! You consider
me low-born and a mere peasant! How can you be sure of that?--for truly
I do not know who I am, or where I came from. For aught I can tell,
the storm was my father, and the sea my mother,--but my parents may as
easily have been Royal! You judge me half-educated,--and wholly unworthy
to be your son’s wife. Will the ladies of your Court compete with me in
learning? I am ready! What I hear of their attainments has not as
yet commanded my respect or admiration,--and you yourself as King, do
nothing to show that you care for either art or learning! I wonder,
indeed, that you should even pause to consider whether your son’s wife
is educated or not!”

Absolutely silent, the King kept his eyes upon her. He was experiencing
a novel sensation which was altogether delightful to him, and more
instructive than any essay or sermon. He, the ostensible ruler of the
country, was face to face with a woman who had no fear of him,--no awe
for his position,--no respect for his rank, but who simply spoke to him
as though he had been any ordinary person. He saw a scarcely perceptible
smile on his son’s handsome features,--he saw that Von Glauben’s eyes
twinkled, despite his carefully preserved seriousness of demeanour, and
he realized the almost absurd powerlessness of his authority in such an
embarrassing position. The assumption of a mute contempt, such as
was vaguely expressed by the Queen, appeared to him to be the best
policy;--he therefore adopted that attitude, without however producing
the least visible effect. Gloria’s face, softly flushed with suppressed
emotion, looked earnest and impassioned, but neither abashed nor afraid.

“I have read many histories of kings,” she continued slowly; “Of their
treacheries and cruelties; of their neglect of their people! Seldom
have they been truly great! The few who are reported as wise, lived and
reigned so many ages ago, that we cannot tell whether their virtues
were indeed as admirable as described,--or whether their vices were not
condoned by a too-partial historian. A Throne has no attraction for me!
The only sorrow I have ever known in my life, is the discovery that the
man I love best in the world is a king’s son! Would to God he were poor
and unrenowned as I thought him to be, when I married him!--for so we
should always have been happy. But now I have to think for him as well
as for myself;--his position is as hard as mine,--and we accept our fate
as a trial of our love. Love cannot be forced,--it must root itself, and
grow where it will. It has made us two as one;--one in thought,--one in
hope,--one in faith! No earthly power can part us. You would marry him
to another woman, and force him to commit a great sin ‘for the good of
the country’? I tell you, if you do that,--if any king or prince does
that,--God’s curse will surely fall upon the Throne, and all that do
inherit it!”

She did not raise her voice,--she spoke in low thrilling accents,
without excitement, but with measured force and calm. Then she beckoned
the Crown Prince to her side. He instantly obeyed her gesture. Taking
him by the hand, she advanced a little, and with him confronted both the
King and Queen.

“Hear me, your Majesties both!” she said in clear, firm accents; “And
when you have heard, be satisfied as to ‘the good of the country,’ and
let me depart to my own home in peace, away from all your crushing and
miserable conventions. I take your son by the hand, and even as I swore
my faith to him at the marriage altar, so I swear to you that he is
free to follow his own inclination;--his law is mine,--his will my
pleasure,--and in everything I shall obey him, save in this one decree,
which I make for myself in your Majesties’ sovereign presence--that
never, so help me God, will I claim or share my husband’s rank as Crown
Prince, or set foot within this palace, which is his home, again, till
a greater voice than that of any king,--the voice of the Nation itself,
calls upon me to do so!”

This proud declaration was entirely unexpected; and both the King and
Queen regarded the beautiful speaker in undisguised amazement. She,
gently dropping the Prince’s hand, met their eyes with a wistful pathos
in her own.

“Will that satisfy you?” she asked, a slight tremor shaking her voice as
she put the question.

The King at once advanced, and now spoke frankly, and without any

“Assuredly! You are a brave girl! True to your love, and true to the
country at one and the same time! But while I accept your vow, let me
warn you not to indulge in any lurking hope or feeling that the Nation
will ever recognize your marriage. Your own willingly-taken oath at
this moment practically makes it null and void, so far as the State
is concerned;--but perhaps it strengthens it as a bond of--youthful

An open admiration flashed in his bold fine eyes as he spoke,--and
Gloria grew pale. With an involuntary movement she turned towards the

“You--Madam--you--Ah! No,--not you!--you are cruel!--you have not a
woman’s heart! My love--my husband!”

The Prince was at once beside her, and she clung to him trembling.

“Take me away!” she whispered; “Take me away altogether--this place
stifles me!”

He caught her in his strong young arms, and was about to lead her to the
door, when she suddenly appeared to remember something, and releasing
herself from his clasp, put him away from her with a faint smile.

“No, dearest! You must stay here;--stay here and make your father and
mother understand all that I have said. Tell them I mean to keep my vow.
You know how thoroughly I mean it! The Professor will take me home!”

Then the Queen moved, and came towards her with her usual slow noiseless

“Let me thank you!” she said, with an air of gracious condescension;
“You are a very good girl, and I am sure you will keep your word! You
are so beautiful that you are bound to do well; and I hope your future
life will be a happy one!”

“I hope so, Madam!” replied Gloria slowly; “I think it will! If it is
not happier than yours, I shall indeed be unfortunate!”

The Queen drew back, offended; but the King, who had been whispering
aside to Von Glauben, now approached and said kindly.

“You must not go away, my child, without some token of our regard. Wear
this for Our sake!”

He offered her a chain of gold bearing a simple yet exquisitely
designed pendant of choice pearls. Her face crimsoned, and she pushed it
disdainfully aside.

“Keep it, Sir, for those whose love and faith can be purchased with
jewelled toys! Mine cannot! You mean kindly no doubt,--but a gift from
you is an offence, not an honour! Fare-you-well!”

Another moment and she was gone. Von Glauben, at a sign from the King,
hastily followed her. Prince Humphry, who had remained almost entirely
mute during the scene, now stood with folded arms opposite his Royal
parents, still silent and rigid. The King watched him for a minute or
two--then laid a hand gently on his arm.

“We do not blame you over-much, Humphry!” he said; “She is a beautiful
creature, and more intelligent than I had imagined. Moreover she has
great calmness, as well as courage.”

Still the Prince said nothing.

“You are satisfied, Madam, I presume?” went on the King addressing his
Consort;--“The girl could hardly make a more earnest vow of abnegation
than she has done. And when Humphry has travelled for a year and seen
other lands, other manners, and other faces, we may look upon this
boyish incident in his career as finally closed. I think both you and I
can rest assured that there will be no further cause for anxiety?”

He put the question carelessly. The Queen bent her head in acquiescence,
but her eyes were fixed upon her son, who still said nothing.

“We have not received any promise from Humphry himself,” she said;
“Apparently he is not disposed to take a similar oath of loyalty!”

“Truly, Madam, you judge me rightly for once!” said the Prince, quietly;
“I am certainly not disposed to do anything but to be master of my own
thoughts and actions.”

“Remain so, Humphry, by all means!” said the King indulgently. “The
present circumstances being so far favourable, we exact nothing more
from you. Love will be love, and passion must have its way with boys of
your age. I impose no further restriction upon you. The girl’s own word
is to me sufficient bond for the preservation of your high position. All
young men have their little secret love-affairs; we shall not blame you
for yours now, seeing, as we do, the satisfactory end of it in sight!
But I fear we are detaining you!” This with elaborate politeness. “If
you wish to follow your fair _inamorata_, the way is clear! You may

Without any haste, but with formal military stiffness the Prince
saluted,--and turning slowly on his heel, left the presence-chamber.
Alone, the King and his beautiful Queen-Consort looked questioningly at
one another.

“What think you, Madam, of the heroine of this strange love-story?” he
asked with a touch of bitterness in his voice. “Does it not strike you
that even in this arid world of much deception, there may be after all
such a thing as innocence?--such a treasure as true and trusting
love? Were not the eyes of this girl Gloria, when lifted to your face,
something like the eyes of a child who has just said its prayers to
God,--who fears nothing and loves all? Yet I doubt whether you were

“Were you?” she asked indifferently, yet with a strange fluttering at
her heart, which she could not herself comprehend.

“I was!” he answered. “I confess it! I was profoundly touched to see a
girl of such beauty and innocence confront us here, with no other shield
against our formal and ridiculous conventionalities, save the pure
strength of her own love for Humphry, and her complete trust in him. It
is easy to see that her life hangs on his will; it is not so much her
with whom we have to deal, as with him. What he says, she will evidently
obey. If he tells her he has ceased to love her, she will die quite
uncomplainingly; but so long as he does love her, she will live, and
expand in beauty and intelligence on that love alone; and you may be
assured, Madam, that in that case, he will never wed another woman! Nor
could I possibly blame him, for he is bound to find all--or most women
inferior to her!”

She regarded him wonderingly.

“Your admiration of her is keen, Sir!” she said, amazed to find herself
somewhat irritated. “Perhaps if she were not morganatically your
daughter-in-law, you might be your son’s rival?”

He turned upon her indignantly.

“Madam, the days were, when you, as my wife, had it in your power
to admit no rivals to the kingdom of your own beauty! Since then,
I confess, you have had many! But they have been worthless rivals
all,--crazed with their own vanity and greed, and empty of truth and
honour. A month or two before I came to the Throne, I was beginning to
think that women were viler than vermin,--I had grown utterly weary of
their beauty,--weary--ay, sick to death of their alluring eyes, sensual
lips, and too freely-offered caresses; the uncomely, hard-worked woman,
earning bread for her half-starved children, seemed the only kind of
feminine creature for which I could have any respect--but now--I am
learning that there _are_ good women who are fair to see,--women who
have hearts to love and suffer, and who are true--ay--true as the sun in
heaven to the one man they worship!”

“A man who is generally quite unworthy of them!” said the Queen with a
chill laugh; “Your eloquence, Sir, is very touching, and no doubt
leads further than I care to penetrate! The girl Gloria is certainly
beautiful, and no doubt very innocent and true at present,--but when
Humphry tires of her, as he surely will, for all men quickly tire of
those that love them best,--she will no doubt sink into the ordinary
ways of obtaining consolation. I know little concerning these amazingly
good women you speak of; and nothing concerning good men! But I quite
agree with you that many women are to be admired for their hard work.
You see when once they do begin to work, men generally keep them at it!”
 She gathered up her rich train on one arm, and prepared to leave the
apartment. “If you think,” she continued, “as you now say, that Humphry
will never change his present sentiments, and never marry any other
woman, the girl’s oath is a mere farce and of no avail!”

“On the contrary, it is of much avail,” said the King, “for she has
sworn before us both never to claim any right to share in Humphry’s
position, till the nation itself asks her to do so. Now as the
nation will never know of the marriage at all, the ‘call’ will not be

The Queen paused in the act of turning away.

“If you were to die,” she said; “Humphry would be King. And as King, he
is quite capable of making Gloria Queen!”

He looked at her very strangely.

“Madam, in the event of my death, all things are possible!” he said; “A
dying Sovereignty may give birth to a Republic!”

The Queen smiled.

“Well, it is the most popular form of government nowadays,” she
responded, carelessly moving slowly towards the door; “And perhaps
the most satisfactory. I think if I were not a Queen, I should be a

“And I, if I were not a King,” he responded, “should be a Socialist!
Such are the strange contradictions of human nature! Permit me!” He
opened the door of the room for her to pass out,--and as she did so, she
looked up full in his face.

“Are you still interested in your new form of amusement?” she said; “And
do you still expose yourself to danger and death?”

He bowed assent.

“Still am I a fool in a new course of folly, Madam!” he answered with a
smile, and a half sigh. “So many of my brother monarchs are wadded
round like peaches in wool, with precautions for their safety, lest they
bruise at a touch, that I assure you I take the chances of danger and
death as exhilarating sport, compared to their guarded condition. But it
is very good of you to assume such a gracious solicitude for my safety!”

“Assume?” she said. Her voice had a slight tremor in it,--her eyes
looked soft and suffused with something like tears. Then, with her usual
stately grace, she saluted him, and passed out.

Struck at the unwonted expression in her face, he stood for a moment
amazed. Then he gave vent to a low bitter laugh.

“How strange it would be if she should love me now!” he murmured.
“But--after all these years--too late! Too late!”

That night before the King retired to rest, Professor von Glauben
reported himself and his duty to his Majesty in the privacy of his own
apartments. He had, he stated, accompanied Gloria back to her home in
The Islands; and, he added somewhat hesitatingly, the Crown Prince had
returned with her, and had there remained. He, the Professor, had left
them together, being commanded by the Prince so to do.

The King received this information with perfect equanimity.

“The boy must have his way for the present,” he said. “His passion will
soon exhaust itself. All passion exhausts itself sooner or--later!”

“That depends very much on the depth or shallowness of its source, Sir,”
 replied the Professor.

“True! But a boy!--a mere infant in experience! What can he know of the
depths in the heart and soul! Now a man of my age----”

He broke off abruptly, seeing Von Glauben’s eyes fixed steadfastly upon
him, and the colour deepened in his cheek. Then he gave a slight laugh.

“I tell you, Von Glauben, this little love-affair--this absurd
toy-marriage is not worth thinking about. Humphry leaves the country
at the end of this month,--he will remain absent a year,--and at
the expiration of that time we shall marry him in good earnest to a
royally-born bride. Meanwhile, let us not trouble ourselves about this
sentimental episode, which is so rapidly drawing to its close.”

The Professor bowed respectfully and retired. But not to sleep. He had a
glowing picture before his eyes,--a picture he could not forget, of the
Crown Prince and Gloria standing with arms entwined about each other
under the rose-covered porch of Ronsard’s cottage saying “Good-night”
 to him, while Ronsard himself, his tranquillity completely restored,
and his former fears at rest, warmly shook his hand, and with a curious
mingling of pride and deference thanked him for all his friendship--‘all
his goodness!’

“And no goodness at all is mine,” said the meditative Professor, “save
that of being as honest as I can to both sides! But there is some change
in the situation which I do not quite understand. There is some new
plan on foot I would swear! The Prince was too triumphant--Gloria too
happy--Ronsard too satisfied! There is something in the wind!--but I
cannot make out what it is!”

He pondered uneasily for a part of the night, reflecting that when
he had returned from The Islands in the King’s yacht, he had met the
Prince’s own private vessel on her way thither, gliding over the waves,
a mere ghostly bunch of white sails in the glimmering moon. He had
concluded that it was under orders to embark the Prince for home
again in the morning; and yet, though this was a perfectly natural and
probable surmise, he had been unable to rid himself altogether of a
doubtful presentiment, to which he could give no name. By degrees,
he fell into an uneasy slumber, in which he had many incompleted
dreams,--one of which was that he found himself all alone on the wide
ocean which stretched for thousands of miles beyond The Islands,--alone
in a small boat, endeavouring to row it towards the great Southern
Continent that lay afar off in the invisible distance,--where few but
the most adventurous travellers ever cared to wander. And as he pulled
with weak, ineffectual oars against the mighty weight of the rolling
billows, he thought he heard the words of an old Irish song which he
remembered having listened to, when as quite a young man he had paid his
first and last visit to the misty and romantic shores of Britain.

                “Come o’er the sea
              _Cushla ma chree_!--
         Mine through sunshine, storm and snows!--
                 Seasons may roll,
                 But the true soul,
         Burns the same wherever it goes;
  Let fate frown on, so we love and part not,
  ‘T is life where thou art, ‘t is death where thou art not!
                 Then come o’er the sea,
              _Cushla ma chree_!
           Mine wherever the wild wind blows!”

Then waking with a violent start, he wondered what set of brain-cells
had been stirred to reproduce rhymes that he had, or so he deemed, long
ago forgotten. And still musing, he almost mechanically went on with the
wild ditty.

            “Was not the sea
            Made for the free,
  Land for Courts and chains alone!--
            Here we are slaves,
            But on the waves,
  Love and liberty are our own!”

“This will never do!” he exclaimed, leaping from his bed; “I am becoming
a mere driveller with advancing age!”

He went to the window and looked out. It was about six o’clock in the
morning,--the sun was shining brightly into his room. Before him lay the
sea, calm as a lake, and clear-sparkling as a diamond;--not a boat was
in sight;--not a single white sail on the distant horizon. And in the
freshness and stillness of the breaking day, the world looked but just
newly created.

“How we fret and fume in our little span of life!” he murmured. “A few
years hence, and for us all the troubles which we make for ourselves
will be ended! But the sun and the sea will shine on just the same--and
Love, the supremest power on earth, will still govern mankind, when
thrones and kings and empires are no more!”

His thoughts were destined to bear quick fruition. The morning deepened
into noon--and at that hour a sealed dispatch brought by a sailor, who
gave no name and who departed as soon as he had delivered his packet,
was handed to the King. It was from the Crown Prince, and ran briefly

“At your command, Sir, and by my own desire, I have left the country
over which you hold your sovereign dominion. Whither I travel, and how,
is my own affair. I shall return no more _till the Nation demands my
service_,--whereof I shall doubtless hear should such a contingency ever
arise. I leave you to deal with the situation as seems best to your good
pleasure and that of the Government,--but the life God has given me
can only be lived once, and to Him alone am I responsible for it. I am
resolved therefore to live it to my own liking,--in honesty, faith and
freedom. In accordance with this determination, Gloria, my wife, as in
her sworn marriage-duty bound, goes with me.”

For one moment the King stood transfixed and astounded; a cloud of anger
darkened his brows. Crumpling up the document in his hand, he was about
to fling it from him in a fury. What! This mere boy and girl had
baffled the authority of a king! Anon, his anger cooled--his countenance
cleared. Smoothing the paper out he read its contents again,--then

“Well! Humphry has something of me in him after all!” he said. “He is
not entirely his mother! He has a heart,--a will, and a conscience,--all
three generally lacking to sons of kings! Let me be honest with myself!
If he had given way to me, I should have despised him!--‘but for Love’s
sake he has opposed me; and by my soul!--I respect him!”



Rumour, we are told, has a million tongues, and they were soon all at
work, wagging out the news of the Crown Prince’s mysterious departure.
Each tongue told a different story, and none of the stories tallied.
No information was to be obtained at Court. There nothing was said, but
that the Prince, disliking the formal ceremony of a public departure,
had privately set sail in his own yacht for his projected tour round
the world. Nobody believed this; and the general impression soon gained
ground that the young man had fallen into disgrace with his Royal
parents, and had been sent away for a time till he should recognize the
enormity of his youthful indiscretions.

“Sent away--you understand!” said the society gossips; “To avoid further

The Prince’s younger brothers, Rupert and Cyprian, were often plied
with questions by their intimates, but knowing nothing, and truly caring
less, they could give no explanation. Neither King nor Queen spoke a
word on the subject; and Sir Roger de Launay, astonished and perplexed
beyond measure as he was at this turn in affairs, dared not put any
questions even to his friend Professor von Glauben who, as soon as the
news of the Prince’s departure was known, resolutely declined to speak,
so he said, “on what did not concern him.” Gradually, however, this
excitement partially subsided to give place to other forms of social
commotion, which beginning in trifles, swiftly expanded to larger and
more serious development. The first of these was the sudden rise of
a newspaper which had for many years subsisted with the greatest
difficulty in opposition to the many journals governed by David Jost. It
happened in this manner.

Several leading articles written in favour of a Jesuit settlement in
the country, had appeared constantly in Jost’s largest and most widely
circulated newspaper, and the last of these ‘leaders,’ had concluded
with the assertion that though his Majesty, the King, had at first
refused the portion of Crown-lands needed by the Society for building,
he had now ‘graciously’ re-considered the situation, and had been
pleased to revoke his previous decision. Whereat, the very next morning
the rival ‘daily’ had leaped into prominence by merely two headlines:


And there, plainly set forth, was the Royal and authoritative refusal to
grant the lands required, ‘Because of the earnest petition of our loving
subjects against the said grant,’--and till ‘our loving subjects’’
objections were removed, the lands would be withheld. This public
announcement signed by the King in person, created the most
extraordinary sensation throughout the whole country. It was the one
topic at every social meeting; it was the one subject of every sermon.
Preachers stormed and harangued in every pulpit, and Monsignor Del
Fortis, lifting up his harsh raucous voice in the Cathedral itself,
addressed an enormous congregation one Sunday morning on the matter,
and denounced the King, the Queen, and the mysteriously-departed Crown
Prince in the most orthodox Christian manner, commending them to the
flames of hell, and the mercy of a loving God at one and the same

Meanwhile, the newspaper that had been permitted to publish the King’s
statement got its circulation up by tens of thousands, the more so as
certain brilliant and fiery articles on the political situation began
to appear therein signed by one Pasquin Leroy, a stranger to the reading
public, but in whom the spirit of a modern ‘Junius’ appeared to have
entered for the purpose of warning, threatening and commanding. A
scathing and audacious attack upon Carl Pérousse, Secretary of State, in
which the small darts of satire flew further than the sharpest arrows of
assertion, was among the first of these, and Pérousse himself, maddened
like a bull at the first prick of the toreador, by the stinging truths
the writer uttered, or rather suggested, lost no time in summoning
General Bernhoff to a second interview.

“Did I not tell you,” he said, pointing to the signature at the end of
the offending article, “to ‘shadow’ that man, and arrest him as a common

Bernhoff bowed stiffly.

“You did! But it is difficult to arrest one who is not capable of being
arrested. I must be provided first with proofs of his guilt; and I must
also obtain the King’s order.”

“Proofs should be easy enough for you to obtain,” said Pérousse
fiercely; “And the King will sign any warrant he is told. At least, you
can surely find this rascal out?--where he lives, and what are his means
of subsistence?”

“If he were here, I could,” responded Bernhoff calmly; “I have made
all the necessary preliminary enquiries. The man is a gentleman of
considerable wealth. He writes for his own amusement, and--from
a distance. I advise you--” and here the General held up an
obstinate-looking finger of warning; “I advise you, I say, to let him
alone! I can find no proof whatever that he is a spy.”

“Proof! I can give you enough--” began Pérousse hotly, then paused in
confusion. For what could he truly say? If he told the Chief of Police
that this Pasquin Leroy was believed to have counterfeited the Prime
Minister’s signet, in order to obtain an interview with David Jost, why
then the Chief of Police would be informed once and for all that the
Prime Minister was in confidential communication with the Jew-proprietor
of a stock-jobbing newspaper! And that would never do! It would, at
the least, be impolitic. Inwardly chafing with annoyance, he assumed an
outward air of conscientious gravity.

“You will regret it, General, I think, if you do not follow out my
suggestions respecting this man,” he said coldly; “He is writing for the
press in a strain which is plainly directed against the Government. Of
course we statesmen pay little or no heed to modern journalism, but the
King, having taken the unusual, and as I consider it, unwise step of
proclaiming certain of his intentions in a newspaper which was, until
his patronage, obscure and unsuccessful, the public attention has been
suddenly turned towards this particular journal; and what is written
therein may possibly influence the masses as it would not have done a
few weeks ago.”

“I quite believe that!” said Bernhoff tersely; “But I cannot arrest
a man for writing clever things. Literary talent is no proof of

Pérousse looked at him sharply. But there was no satire in
Bernhoff’s fixed and glassy eye, and no expression whatever in his
woodenly-composed countenance.

“We entertain different opinions on the matter, it is evident!” he
said; “You will at least grant that if he cannot be arrested, he can be
carefully watched?”

“He _is_ carefully watched!” replied Bernhoff; “That is to say, as far
as _I_ can watch him!”

“Good!” and Pérousse smiled, somewhat relieved. “Then on the first
suspicion of a treasonable act----”

“I shall arrest him--in the King’s name, when the King signs the
warrant,” said Bernhoff; “But he is one of Sergius Thord’s followers,
and at the present juncture it might be unwise to touch any member of
that particularly inflammable body.”

Pérousse frowned.

“Sergius Thord ought to have been hanged or shot years ago----”

“Then why did not you hang or shoot him?” enquired Bernhoff.

“I was not in office.”

“Why do you not hang or shoot him now?”

“Why? Because----”

“Because,” interrupted Bernhoff, again lifting his grim warning finger;
“If you did, the city would be in a tumult and more than half the
soldiery would be on the side of the mob! By way of warning, M.
Pérousse, I may as well tell you frankly, on the authority of my
position as Head of the Police, that the Government are on the edge of a
dangerous situation!”

Pérousse looked contemptuous.

“Every Government in the world is on the edge of a dangerous situation
nowadays!” he retorted;--“But any Government that yields to the mob
proves itself a mere ministry of cowardice.”

“Yet the mob often wins,--not only by excess of numbers, but by sheer
force of--honesty!”--said Bernhoff sententiously; “It has been known to
sweep away, and re-make political constitutions before now.”

“It has,”--agreed Pérousse, drawing pens and paper towards him, and
feigning to be busily occupied in the commencement of a letter--“But it
will not indulge itself in such amusements during _my_ time!”

“Ah! I wonder how long your time will last!” muttered Bernhoff to
himself as he withdrew--“Six months or six days? I would not bet on the
longer period!”

In good truth there was considerable reason for the General’s dubious
outlook on affairs. A political storm was brewing. A heavy tidal wave
of discontent was sweeping the masses of the people stormily against the
rocks of existing authority, and loud and bitter and incessant were the
complaints on all sides against the increased taxation levied upon every
rate-payer. Fiercest of all was the clamour made by the poor at
the increasing price of bread, the chief necessity of life; for the
imposition of a heavy duty upon wheat and other cereals had made the
common loaf of the peasant’s daily fare almost an article of luxury.
Stormy meetings were held in every quarter of the city,--protests were
drawn up and signed by thousands,--endless petitions were handed to
the King,--but no practical result came from these. His Majesty was
‘graciously pleased’ to seem blind, deaf and wholly indifferent to the
agitated condition of his subjects. Now and then a Government orator
would mount the political rostrum and talk ‘patriotism’ for an hour
or so, to a more or less sullen audience, informing them with much
high-flown eloquence that, by responding to the Governmental demands
and supporting the Governmental measures, they were strengthening the
resources of the country and completing the efficiency of both Army
and Navy; but somehow, his hydraulic efforts at rousing the popular
enthusiasm failed of effect. Whereas, whenever Sergius Thord spoke,
thousands of throats roared acclamation,--and the very sight of Lotys
passing quietly down the poorer thoroughfares of the city was sufficient
to bring out groups of men and women to their doors, waving their hands
to her, sending her wild kisses,--and almost kneeling before her in
an ecstasy of trust and adoration. Thord himself perceived that the
situation was rapidly reaching a climax, and quietly prepared himself
to meet and cope with it. Two of the monthly business meetings of the
Revolutionary Committee had been held since that on which Pasquin Leroy
and his two friends had been enrolled as members of the Brotherhood,
and at the last of these, Thord took Leroy into his full confidence, and
gave him all the secret clues of the Revolutionary organization which
honeycombed the metropolis from end to end. He had trusted the man in
many ways and found him honest. One trifling proof of this was perhaps
the main reason of Thord’s further reliance upon him; he had fulfilled
his half-suggested promise to bring the sunshine of prosperity into the
hard-working, and more or less sordid life of the little dancing-girl,
Pequita. She had been sent for one morning by the manager of the
Royal Opera, who having seen the ease, grace, and dexterity of her
performance, forthwith engaged her for the entire season at a salary
which when named to the amazed child, seemed like a veritable shower of
gold tumbling by rare chance out of the lap of Dame Fortune. The
manager was a curt, cold business man, and she was afraid to ask him any
questions, for when the words--“I am sure a kind friend has spoken to
you of me--” came timidly from her lips, he had shut up her confidence
at once by the brief answer--

“No. You are mistaken. We accept no personal recommendations. We only
employ proved talent!”

All the same Pequita felt sure that she owed the sudden lifting of her
own and her father’s daily burden of life, to the unforgetting care and
intercession of Leroy. Lotys was equally convinced of the same, and
both she and Sergius Thord highly appreciated their new associate’s
unobtrusive way of doing good, as it were, by stealth. Pequita’s
exquisite grace and agility had made her at once the fashion; the Opera
was crowded nightly to see the ‘wonderful child-dancer’; and valuable
gifts and costly jewels were showered upon her, all of which she brought
to Lotys, who advised her how to dispose of them best, and put by the
money for the comfort and care of her father in the event of sickness,
or the advance of age. Flattered and petted by the great world as she
now was, Pequita never lost her head in the whirl of gay splendour, but
remained the same child-like, loving little creature,--her one idol
her father,--her only confidante, Lotys, whose gentle admonitions and
constant watchfulness saved her from many a dangerous pitfall. As yet,
she had not attained the wish she had expressed, to dance before the
King,--but she was told that at any time his Majesty might visit the
Opera, and that steps would be taken to induce him to do so for the
special purpose of witnessing her performance. So with this half promise
she was fain to be content, and to bear with the laughing taunts of
her ‘Revolutionary’ friends, who constantly teased her and called her
‘little traitor’ because she sought the Royal favour.

Another event, which was correctly or incorrectly traced to Leroy’s
silently working influence, was the sudden meteoric blaze of Paul Zouche
into fame. How it happened, no one knew;--and _why_ it happened was
still more of a mystery, because by all its own tenets and traditions
the social world ought to have set itself dead against the ‘Psalm of
Revolution,’--the title of the book of poems which created such an
amazing stir. But somehow, it got whispered about that the King
had attempted to ‘patronise’ the poet, and that the poet had very
indignantly resented the offered Royal condescension. Whereat, by
degrees, there arose in society circles a murmur of wonder at the poet’s
‘pluck,’ wonder that deepened into admiration, with incessant demand for
his book,--and admiration soon expanded, with the aid of the book, into
a complete “craze.” Zouche’s name was on every lip; invitations to great
houses reached him every week;--his poems began to sell by thousands;
yet with all this, the obstinacy of his erratic nature asserted itself
as usual, undiminished, and Zouche withdrew from the shower of praise
like a snail into its shell,--answered none of the flattering requests
for ‘the pleasure of his company,’ and handed whatever money he made
by his poems over to the funds of the Revolutionary Committee, only
accepting as much out of it as would pay for his clothes, food, lodging,
and--drink! But the more he turned his back on Fame, the more hotly
it pursued him;--his very churlishness was talked about as something
remarkable and admirable,--and when it was suggested that he was fonder
of strong liquor than was altogether seemly, people smiled and nodded
at each other pleasantly, tapped their foreheads meaningly and murmured:
‘Genius! Genius!’ as though that were a quality allied of divine
necessity to alcoholism.

These two things,--the advent of a new dancer at the Opera, and the
fame of Paul Zouche, were the chief topics of ‘Society’ outside its own
tawdry personal concern; but under all the light froth and spume of the
pleasure-seeking, pleasure-loving whirl of fashion, a fierce tempest
was rising, and the first whistlings of the wind of revolt were already
beginning to pierce through the keyholes and crannies of the stately
building allotted to the business of Government;--so much so indeed that
one terrible night, all unexpectedly, a huge mob, some twenty thousand
strong, surrounded it, armed with every conceivable weapon from muskets
to pickaxes, and shouted with horrid din for ‘Bread and Justice!’--these
being considered co-equal in the bewildered mind of the excited
multitude. Likewise did they scream with protrusive energy: ‘Give us
back our lost Trades!’ being fully aware, despite their delirium, that
these said ‘lost Trades’ were being sold off into ‘Trusts,’ wherein
Ministers themselves held considerable shares, A two-sided clamour
was also made for ‘The King! The King!’ one side appealing, the other
menacing,--the latter under the belief that his Majesty equally had
‘shares’ in the bartered Trades,--the former in the hope that the
country’s Honour might still be saved with the help of their visible

Much difficulty was experienced in clearing this surging throng of
indignant humanity, for though the soldiery were called out to effect
the work, they were more than half-hearted in their business, having
considerable grievances of their own to avenge,--and when ordered
to fire on the people, flatly refused to do so. Two persons however
succeeded at last in calming and quelling the tumult. One was Sergius
Thord,--the other Lotys. Carl Pérousse, seized with an access of
‘nerves’ within the cushioned luxury of his own private room in the
recesses of the Government buildings, from whence he had watched the
demonstration, peered from one of the windows, and saw one half of the
huge mob melt swiftly away under the command of a tall, majestic-looking
creature, whose massive form and leonine head appeared Ajax-like above
the throng; and he watched the other half turn round in brisk order,
like a well-drilled army, and march off, singing loudly and lustily,
headed by a woman carried shoulder-high before them, whose white robes
gleamed like a flag of truce in the glare of the torches blazing around
her;--and to his utter amazement, fear and disgust, he heard the very
soldiers shouting her name: “Lotys! Lotys!” with ever-increasing and
thunderous plaudits of admiration and homage. Often and often had he
heard that name,--often and often had he dismissed it from his thoughts
with light masculine contempt. Often, too, had it come to the ears
of his colleague the Premier, who as has been shown, even in intimate
converse with his own private secretary, feigned complete ignorance
of it. But it is well understood that politicians generally, and
diplomatists always, assume to have no knowledge whatever concerning
those persons of whom they are most afraid. Yet just now it was
unpleasantly possible that “the stone which the builders rejected” might
indirectly be the means of crushing the Ministry, and reorganizing
the affairs of the country. His meditations on this occasion were
interrupted by a touch on the shoulder from behind, and, looking up, he
saw the Marquis de Lutera.

“Almost a riot!” he said, forcing a pale smile,--“But not quite!”

“Say, rather, almost a revolution!” retorted the Marquis
brusquely;--“Jesting is out of place. We are on the brink of a very
serious disaster! The people are roused. To-night they threatened to
burn down these buildings over our heads,--to sack and destroy the
King’s Palace. The Socialist leader, Thord, alone saved the situation.”

“With the aid of his mistress?” suggested Pérousse with a sneer.

“You mean the woman they call Lotys? I am not aware that she is his
mistress. I should rather doubt it. The people would not make such a
saint of her if she were. At any rate, whatever else she may be, she
is certainly dangerous;--and in a country less free than ours would be
placed under arrest. I must confess I never believed in her ‘vogue’ with
the masses, until to-night.”

Pérousse was silent. The great square in front of the Government
buildings was now deserted,--save for the police and soldiery on guard;
but away in the distance could still be heard faint echoes of singing
and cheering from the broken-up sections of the crowd that had lately
disturbed the peace.

“Have you seen the King lately?” enquired Lutera presently.


“By his absolute ‘veto’ against our propositions at the last Cabinet
Council, the impending war which would have been so useful to us, has
been quashed in embryo,” went on the Premier with a frown;--“This of
course you know! And he has the right to exercise his veto if he likes.
But I scarcely expected you after all you said, to take the matter so

Pérousse smiled, and shrugged his shoulders deprecatingly.

“However,” continued the Marquis with latent contempt in his tone;--“I
now quite understand your complacent attitude! You have simply turned
your ‘Army Supplies Contract’ into a ‘Trust’ Combine with other
nations,--so you will not lose, but rather gain by the transaction!”

“I never intended to lose!” said Pérousse calmly; “I am not troubled
with scruples. One form of trade is as good as another. The prime object
of life nowadays is to make money!”

Lutera looked at him, but said nothing.

“To amalgamate all the steel industries into one international Union,
and get as many shares myself in the combine is not at all an unwise
project,” went on Pérousse,--“For if our country is not to fight, other
countries will;--and they will require guns and swords and all such
accoutrements of war. Why should we not satisfy the demand and pocket
the cash?”

Still the Marquis looked at him steadily.

“Are you aware,”--he asked at last, “that Jost, to save his ‘press’
prestige, has turned informer against you?”

Pérousse sprang up, white with fury.

“By Heaven, if he has dared!--”

“There is no ‘if’ in the case”--said Lutera very coldly--“He has, as he
himself says, ‘done his duty.’ You must be pretty well cognisant of
what a Jew’s notions of ‘duty’ are! They can be summed up in one
sentence;--‘to save his own pocket.’ Jost is driven to fury and
desperation by the sudden success of the rival newspaper, which has been
so prominently favoured by the King. The shares in his own journalistic
concerns are going down rapidly, and he is determined--naturally
enough--to take care of himself before anyone else. He has sold out of
every company with which you have been, or are associated--and has--so
I understand,--sent a complete list of your proposed financial ‘deals,’
investments and other ‘stock’ to--”

He paused.

“Well!” exclaimed Pérousse irascibly--“To whom?”

“To those whom it may concern,”--replied Lutera evasively--“I really can
give you no exact information. I have said enough by way of warning!”

Pérousse looked at him heedfully, and what he saw in that dark brooding
face was not of a quieting or satisfactory nature.

“You are as deeply involved as I am--” he began.

“Pardon!” and the Marquis drew himself up with some dignity--“I _was_
involved;--I am not now. I have also taken care of myself! I may have
been misled, but I shall let no one suffer for my errors. I have sent in
my resignation.”

“Fool!” ejaculated Pérousse, forgetting all courtesy in the sudden
access of rage that took possession of him at these words;--“Fool, I
say! At the very moment when you ought to stick to the ship, you desert

“Are _you_ not ready to run to the helm?” enquired Lutera with a satiric
smile; “Surely you can have no doubt but that his Majesty will command
you to take office!”

With this, he turned on his heel, and left his colleague to a space
of very disagreeable meditation. For the first time in his bold and
unscrupulous career, Pérousse found himself in an awkward position.
If it were indeed true that Jost and Lutera had thrown up the game,
especially Jost, then he, Pérousse, was lost. He had made of Jost, not
only a tool, but a confidant. He had used him, and his great leading
newspaper for his own political and financial purposes. He had entrusted
him with State secrets, in order to speculate thereon in all the
money-markets of the world. He had induced him to approach the Premier
with crafty promises of support, and to inveigle him by insidious
degrees into the same dishonourable financial ‘deal.’ So that if this
one man,--this fat, unscrupulous turncoat of a Jew,--chose to speak out,
he, Carl Pérousse, Secretary of State, would be the most disgraced and
ruined Minister that ever attempted to defraud a nation! His brows grew
moist with fever-heat, and his tongue parched, with the dry thirst of
fear, as the gravity of the situation was gradually borne in upon him.
He began to calculate contingencies and possibilities of escape from the
toils that seemed closing around him,--and much to his irritation and
embarrassment, he found that most of the ways leading out of difficulty
pointed first of all to,--the King.

The King! The very personage whom he had called a Dummy, only bound
to do as he was told! And now, if he could only persuade the King that
he,--the poor Secretary of State,--was a deeply-injured man, whose
life’s effort had been solely directed towards ‘the good of the
country,’ yet who nevertheless was cruelly wronged and calumniated by
his enemies, all might yet be well.

“Were he only like other monarchs whom I know,” he reflected. “I could
have easily involved him in the Trades deal! Then the press could have
been silenced, and the public fooled. With five or six hundred thousand
shares in the biggest concerns, he would have been compelled to work
under me for the amalgamation of our Trades with the financial forces of
other countries, regardless of the rubbish talked by ‘patriots’ on the
loss of our position and prestige. But he is not fond of money,--he is
not fond of money! Would that he were!--for so _I_ should be virtually
king of the King!”

Cogitating various problems on his return to his own house that evening,
he remembered that despite numerous protests and petitions, the King
had, up to the present, paid no attention to the appeals of his people
against the increasing inroads of taxation. The only two measures he had
carried with a high and imperative hand, were first,--the ‘vetoing’ of
an intended declaration of war,--and the refusal of extensive lands to
the Jesuits. The first was the more important action, as, while it had
won the gratitude and friendship of a previously hostile State, it had
lost several ‘noble’ gamblers in the griefs of nations, some millions
of money. The check to the Jesuits was comparatively trivial, yet it had
already produced far-reaching effects, and had offended the powers at
the Vatican. But, beyond this, things remained apparently as they were;
true, the Socialists were growing stronger;--but there was no evidence
that the Government was growing weaker.

“After all,” thought Pérousse, as a result of his meditations; “there is
no immediate cause for anxiety. If Lutera has sent in his resignation,
it may not be accepted. That rests--like other things--with the
King.” And a vague surprise affected him at this fact. “Curious!” he
muttered,--“Very curious that he, who was a Nothing, should now be a
Something! The change has taken place very rapidly,--and very strangely!
I wonder what--or who--is moving him?”

But to this inward query he received no satisfactory reply. The
mysterious upshot of the whole position was the same,--namely, that
somehow, in the most unaccountable, inexplicable manner, the wind and
weather of affairs had so veered round, that the security of Ministers
and the stability of Government rested, not with themselves or the
nature of their quarrels and discussions, but solely on one whom they
were accustomed to consider as a mere ornamental figure-head,--the King.

Some few days after the unexpected turbulent rising of the mob, it was
judged advisable to give the people something in the way of a ‘gala,’
or spectacle, in order to distract their attention from their own
grievances, and to draw them away from their Socialistic clubs and
conventions, to the contemplation of a parade of Royal state and
splendour. The careful student of History cannot fail to note that
whenever the rottenness and inadequacy of a Government are most
apparent, great ‘shows’ and Royal ceremonials are always resorted to, in
order to divert the minds of the people from the bitter consideration of
a deficient Exchequer and a diminishing National Honour. The authorities
who organize these State masquerades are wise in their generation. They
know that the working-classes very seldom have the leisure to think for
themselves, and that they often lack the intelligent ability to foresee
the difficulties and dangers menacing their country’s welfare;--but
that they are always ready, with the strangest fatuity, patience, and
good-nature, to take their wives and families to see any new variation
of a world’s ‘Punch and Judy’ play, particularly if there is a savour of
Royalty about it, accompanied by a brass band, well-equipped soldiers,
and gilded coaches. Though they take no part in the pageant, beyond
consenting to be hustled and rudely driven back by the police like
intrusive sheep, out of the sacred way of a Royal progress, they
nevertheless have an instinctive (and very correct) idea that somehow or
other it is all part of the ‘fun’ for which they have paid their money.
There is no more actual reverence or respect for the positive Person of
Royalty in such a parade, than there is for the Wonderful Performing Pig
who takes part in a circus-procession through a country town. The public
impression is simple,--That having to pay for the up-keep of a Throne,
its splendours should be occasionally ‘trotted out’ to see whether they
are worth the nation’s annual expenditure.

Moved entirely by this plain and practical sentiment, the popular breast
was thrilled with some amount of interest and animation when it was
announced that his Majesty the King would, on a certain afternoon, go in
state to lay the foundation-stone of the Grand National Theatre, which
was the very latest pet project of various cogitating Jews and cautious
millionaires. The Grand National Theatre was intended to ‘supply,’
according to a stock newspaper phrase, ‘a long-felt want.’ It was to be
a ‘philanthropic’ scheme, by which the ‘Philanthropists’ would receive
excellent interest for their money. Ostensibly, it was to provide the
‘masses’ with the highest form of dramatic entertainment at the lowest
cost;--but there were many intricate wheels within wheels in the
elaborate piece of stock-jobbing mechanism, by which the public would
be caught and fooled--as usual--and the speculators therein rendered
triumphant. Sufficient funds were at hand to start the building of the
necessary edifice, and the King’s ‘gracious’ consent to lay the first
stone, with full state and ceremony, was hailed by the promoters of
the plan as of the happiest augury. For with such approval and support
openly given, all the Snob-world would follow the Royal ‘lead’--quite
as infallibly as it did in the case of another monarch who, persuaded to
drink of a certain mineral spring, and likewise to ‘take shares’ in its
bottled waters, turned the said spring into a ‘paying concern’ at
once, thereby causing much rejoicing among the Semites. The ‘mob’ might
certainly decline to imitate the Snob-world,--but, considering the
recent riotous outbreak, it might be as well that the overbold and
unwashen populace should be awed by the panoply and glory of earthly
Majesty passing by in earthly splendour.

Alas, poor Snob-world! How often has it thought the same thing! How
often has it fancied that with show and glitter and brazen ostentation
of mere purse-power, it can quell the rage for Justice, which, like
a spark of God’s own eternal Being, burns for ever in the soul of a
People! Ah, that rage for Justice!--that divine fury and fever which
with strong sweating and delirium shakes the body politic and cleanses
it from accumulated sickly humours and pestilence! What would the
nations be without its periodical and merciful visitations! Tearing
down old hypocrisies,--rooting up weedy abuses,--rending asunder rotten
conventions,--what wonder if thrones and sceptres, and even the heads
of kings get sometimes mixed into the general swift clearance of
long-accumulated dirt and disorder! And vainly at such times does the
Snob-world anxiously proffer golden pieces for the price of its life!
There shall not then be millions enough in all the earth, to purchase
the safety of one proved Liar who has wilfully robbed his neighbour!

No hint of the underworkings of the people’s thought, or the movement
of the times was, however, apparent in the aspect of the gay multitudes
that poured along the principal thoroughfares of the metropolis on the
day appointed for the ceremony in which the King had consented to take
the leading part. Poor and rich together, vied with one another to
secure the various best points of view from whence the Royal pageant
could be seen, winding down in glittering length from the Palace and
Citadel, past the Cathedral, and so on to the great open square, where,
surrounded by fluttering flags and streamers, a huge block of stone hung
suspended by ropes from a crane, ready to be lowered at the Royal touch,
and fixed in its place by the Royal trowel, as the visible and solid
beginning of the stately fabric, which, according to pictorial models
was to rise from this, its first foundation, into a temple of art and
architecture, devoted to Melpomene and Thalia.

It was a glorious day,--the sun shone with vigorous heat and lustre from
a cloudless sky,--the sea was calm as an inland pool--and people wore
their lightest, brightest and most festive attire. Fair “society” dames,
clad in the last capricious mode of ever-changing Fashion, and shading
their delicate, and not always natural, complexions with airy parasols,
filmy and finely-coloured as the petals of flowers, queened it over
the flocking crowds of pedestrians, as they were driven past in their
softly-cushioned carriages drawn by high-stepping horses;--all the
boudoirs and drawing-rooms of the most exclusive houses seemed to have
emptied their luxury-loving occupants into the streets,--and the whole
town was, for a few hours at any rate, apparently given over to holiday.
As the long line of soldiery preceding the King’s carriage, wound
down from the Citadel, groups of people cheered, and waved hats and
handkerchiefs,--then, when his Majesty’s own escort came into view, the
cheering was redoubled,--and at last when the cumbrous, over-gilded,
over-painted “Cinderella” State-coach appeared, and the familiar, but
somewhat sternly-composed features of the King himself were perceived
through the glass windows, a roar of acclamation, like the thundering of
a long wave on an extensive stretch of rock-bound coast, echoed far
and near, and again and again was repeated with increased and
ever-increasing clamour. Who,--hearing such an enthusiastic
greeting--would or could have imagined for one moment that the King, who
was the object and centre of these tremendous plaudits, was at the same
time judged as an enemy and an obstruction to justice by more than
one half of the population! Yet it was so,--and so has often been. The
populace will shout itself hoarse for any cause; whether it be a king
going to be crowned, or a king going to be executed, the stimulus is
the same, and the enthusiasm as passionate. It is merely the contagious
hysteria of a moment that tickles their lungs to expansion in
noise;--but the real sentiment of admiration for a fine character which
might perhaps have moved the subjects of Richard Coeur de Lion to
cries of exultation, is generally non-existent. And why? For no cause
truly!--save that Lion-Hearts in kings no more pulsate through nations.

By the time the Royal procession reached its destination the crowd
had largely increased, and the press of people round the scene of the
forthcoming function was great enough to be seriously embarrassing
to both the soldiery and the police. Slowly the gorgeous State-coach
lumbered up to the entrance of the ground railed off for the
ceremony,--and between a line of armed guards, the King alighted.
Vociferous cheering again broke out on all sides, which his Majesty
acknowledged in the usual formal manner by a monotonous military salute
performed at regular intervals. Received with obsequious deference by
all the persons concerned in the Grand National Theatre project, he
conversed with one or two, shook hands with others, and was just on the
point of addressing a few of his usual suave compliments to some pretty
women who had been invited to adorn the scene, when David Jost advanced
smilingly, evidently sure of a friendly recognition. For had not
the King, when Crown Prince and Heir-Apparent, hunted game in his
preserves?--yea, had he not even dined with him?--and had not he, Jost,
written whole columns of vapid twaddle about the ‘Royal smile’ and the
‘Royal favour’ till the outside public had sickened at every stroke
of his flunkey pen? How came it, then, that his Majesty seemed on this
occasion to have no recollection of him, and looked over and beyond
him in the airiest way, as though he were a far-off Jew in Jerusalem,
instead of being the assumptive-Orthodox proprietor of several European
newspapers published for the general misinformation and plunder of
gullible Christians? Dismayed at the Royal coldness of eye, Jost stepped
back with an uncomfortably crimson face; and one of the ladies present,
personally knowing him, and seeing his discomfiture, ventured to call
the King’s attention to his presence and to make way for his approach,
by murmuring gently, “Mr. Jost, Sir!”

“Ah, indeed!” said the monarch, with calm grey eyes still fixed on
vacancy,--“I do not know anyone of that name! Permit me to admire
that exquisite arrangement of flowers!” and, smiling affably on the
astonished and embarrassed lady, he led her aside, altogether away from
Jost’s vicinity.

Stricken to the very dust of abasement by this direct “cut” so publicly
administered, the crestfallen editor and proprietor of many journals
stood aghast for a moment,--then as various unbidden thoughts began
to chase one another through his bewildered head, he was seized with a
violent trembling. He remembered every foolish, imprudent and disloyal
remark he had made to the stranger named Pasquin Leroy who had called
upon him bearing the Premier’s signet,--and reflecting that this very
Pasquin Leroy was now, by some odd chance, a contributor of political
leaders and other articles to the rival daily newspaper which had
published the King’s official refusal of a grant of land to the Jesuits,
he writhed inwardly with impotent fury. For might not this unknown man,
Leroy,--if he were,--as he possibly was,--a friend of the King’s--go
to the full length of declaring all he knew and all he had learned from
Jost’s own lips, concerning certain ‘financial secrets,’ which if fully
disclosed, would utterly dismember the Government and put the nation
itself in peril? Might he not already even have informed the King? With
his little, swine-like eyes retreating under the crinkling fat of his
lowering brows, Jost, hot and cold by turns, wandered confusedly out
of the ‘exclusive’ set of persons connected with the ‘Grand
National Theatre’ scheme, who were now gathered round the suspended
foundation-stone to which the King was approaching. He pretended not
to see the curious eyes that stared at him, or the sneering mouths that
smiled at the open slight he had received. Pushing his way through
the crowd, he jostled against the thin black-garmented figure of a
priest,--no other than Monsignor Del Fortis, who, with an affable word
of recognition, drew aside to allow him passage. Affecting his usual
‘company-manner’ of tolerant good-nature, he forced himself to speak to
this ‘holy’ man, who, at any rate, had paid him good money in round
sums for so-called ‘articles’ or rather puff-advertisements in his paper
concerning Church matters.

“Good-day, Monsignor!” he said--“You are not often seen at a Royal
pageant! How comes it that you, of all persons in the world have brought
yourself to witness the laying of the foundation-stone of a Theatre?
Does not your calling forbid any patronage of the mimic Art?”

The priest’s thin lips parted, showing a glimmer of wolfish teeth behind
the pale stretched line of flesh.

“Not by any means!” he replied suavely--“In the present levelling and
amalgamation of social interests, the Church and Stage are drawing very
closely together.”

“True!” said Jost, with a grin--“One might very well be taken for the

Del Fortis looked at him meditatively.

“This,” he said, waving his lean hand towards the centre of the
brilliant crowd where now the King stood, “is a kind of drama in its
way. And you, Mr. Jost, have just played one little scene in it!”

Jost reddened, and bit his lip.

“I am also another actor on the boards,” continued Del Fortis smiling
darkly;--“if only as a spectator in the ‘super’ crowd. And other
comedians and tragedians are doubtless present, of whom we may hear

“The King has nasty humours sometimes,” said Jost shortly, looking down
at the flower in his buttonhole, and absently flicking off one of its
petals with his fat forefinger--“He ought to be made to pay for them!”

“Ha, ha! Very good! Certainly!” and Del Fortis gave a
piously-deprecating nod--“He ought to be made to pay! Especially when
he hurts the feelings of his old friends! Are you going, Mr. Jost? Yes?
What a pity! But you no doubt have your reporters present?”

“Oh, there are plenty of them about,”--said Jost carelessly, “But I
shall condense all the account of these proceedings into a few lines.”

“Ha,--ha!” laughed Del Fortis,--“I understand! Revenge--revenge!
But--in certain cases--the briefest description is sometimes the most
graphic--and startling! Good-day!”

Jost returned the salute curtly, and went,--not to leave the scene
altogether, but merely to take up a position of vantage immediately
above and behind the surging crowd, where from a distance he could watch
all that was going on. He saw the King lift his hand towards the ropes
and pulleys of the crane above him,--and as it was touched by the Royal
finger, the foundation stone was slowly lowered into the deep socket
prepared for it, where gold and silver coins of the year’s currency
had already been strewn. Then, with the aid of a silver trowel set in a
handle of gold, and obsequiously presented by the managing director of
the scheme, his Majesty dabbed in a little mortar, and declared in a
loud voice that the stone was ‘well and truly laid.’ A burst of cheering
greeted the announcement, and the band struck up the country’s National
Hymn, this being the usual sign that the ceremony was at an end.
Whereupon the King, shaking hands again cordially with the various
parties concerned, and again shedding the lustre of his smile upon
the various ladies with whom he had been conversing, made his way very
leisurely to his State equipage, which, with its six magnificently
caparisoned horses, stood prepared for his departure, the door
being already held open for him by one of the attendant powdered and
gold-laced flunkeys. Sir Roger de Launay walked immediately behind his
Sovereign, and Professor von Glauben was close at hand, companioned by
two of the gentlemen of the Royal Household. All at once a young man
pushed himself out of the crowd nearest to the enclosure,--paused a
moment irresolute, and then, with a single determined bound reached the
King’s side.

“Thief of the People’s money! Take that!” he shouted, wildly,--and,
brandishing aloft a glittering stiletto, he aimed it straight at the
monarch’s heart!

But the blow never reached its destination, for a woman, closely veiled
in black, suddenly threw herself swiftly and adroitly between the
King’s body and the descending blade, shielding his breast with both her
outstretched arms. The dagger struck her violently, piercing her flesh
through the upper part of her right shoulder, and under the sheer force
of the blow, she fell senseless.

The whole incident took place in less time than it could be breathlessly
told,--and even as she who had risked her life to save the King’s, sank
bleeding to the ground, the police seized the assassin red-handed in his
mad and criminal act, and wrenched the murderous weapon from his hand.
He was a mere lad of eighteen or twenty, and seemed dazed, submitting to
be bound and handcuffed without a word. The King, perfectly tranquil and
unhurt, bared his head to the wild cries and hysterical cheering of the
excited spectators to whom his narrow escape from death appeared a kind
of miracle, moving them to frantic paroxysms of passionate enthusiasm,
and then bent anxiously down over the prostrate form of his rescuer,
endeavouring himself to raise her from the ground. A hundred hands at
once proffered assistance;--Sir Roger de Launay, pale to the lips with
the shock of sick horror he had experienced at what might so easily have
been a national catastrophe, assisted the police in forming a strong
cordon round the person of his beloved Royal master, in order to guard
him against any further possible attack,--and Professor von Glauben,
obeying the King’s signal, knelt down by the unconscious woman’s side to
examine the extent of her injury. Gently he turned back the close folds
of her enveloping veil,--then gave a little start and cry:

“Gott in Himmel!” And he hastily drew down the veil again as the King
approached with the question--

“Is she dangerously hurt?”

“No, Sir!--I think not--I hope not--but--!”

And the Professor’s eyes looked volumes of suggestion. Catching his
expression, the King drew still nearer.

“Uncover her face,--give her air!” he commanded.

With a perplexed side-glance at Sir Roger de Launay, the Professor
obeyed,--and the sunshine fell full on the white calm features and
closed eyelids of “the woman known as Lotys.” Her black dress was darkly
stained and soaked with oozing blood--and the deep dull gold of her hair
was touched here and there with the same crimson hue;--but there was a
smile on her lips, and her face was as fair and placid as though it had
been smoothed out of all pain and trouble by the restful touch of Death.
Silently, and with a perfectly inscrutable demeanour, the King surveyed
her for a moment. Then, raising his plumed hat with grave grace and
courtesy, he looked on all those who stood about him, soldiery, police
and spectators.

“Does anyone here present know this lady?” he demanded.

A crowd of eager heads were pushed forward, and then a low murmur began,
which deepened into a steady roar of delighted acclamation.

“Lotys! Lotys!”

The name was caught up quickly and repeated from mouth to mouth--till
away on the extreme outskirts of the crowd it was tossed back again with
shouts--“Lotys! Lotys!”

Swiftly the news ran like an electric current through the whole body of
the populace, that it was Lotys, their own Lotys, their friend, their
fellow-worker, the idol of the poorer classes, that had saved the life
of the King! Half-incredulous, half-admiring, the mob listened to the
growing rumour, and the general excitement increased in intensity among
them. David Jost, from his point of observation, caught the infection,
and realizing at once the value of the dramatic “copy” for his paper, to
be obtained out of such a situation, jumped into the nearest vehicle and
was driven straight to his offices, there to send electric messages
of the news to every quarter of the world, and to endeavour by printed
loyal outbursts of “gush” to turn the current of the King’s displeasure
against him into a more favourable direction. Meanwhile the King himself
gave orders that his wounded rescuer should be conveyed in one of the
Royal carriages straight to the Palace, and there attended by his own
physician. Professor von Glauben was entrusted with the carrying-out of
this command,--and the monarch, then entering his own State-equipage,
started on his homeward progress.

Thundering cheers now greeted him at every step;--for an hour at least
the populace went mad with rapture, shouting, singing and calling
alternately for “The King!” and “Lotys!” with no respect of persons,
or consideration as to their differing motives and opposite stations in
life. Two facts only were clear to them,--first an attempt had been
made to assassinate the King,--secondly, that Lotys had frustrated the
attempt, and risked her own life to save that of the monarch. These
were enough to set fire to the passionate sentiments of a warm-blooded,
restless Southern people, and they gave full sway to their feelings
accordingly. So, amid deafening plaudits, the Royal procession wended
its way back to the Citadel, the State-coach moving at a snail’s pace in
order to allow the people to see the King for themselves, and make sure
he was uninjured, as they cheered, and followed it in surging throngs
to the very gates of the Palace,--while in another and reverse direction
the wretched youth whose miserable effort to commit a dastard crime had
so fortunately failed, was marched off, under the guard of a strong
body of police to the State-Prison, there to await his trial and
condemnation. A small crowd, hooting and cursing the criminal, pursued
him as he went, and one personage, austere and dignified, also followed,
at a distance, as though curious to see the last of the would-be
murderer ere he was shut out from liberty,--and this was Monsignor Del



When Lotys recovered from her death-like swoon, she found herself on a
sofa among heaped-up soft cushions, in a small semi-darkened room hung
with draperies of rose satin, which were here and there drawn aside
to show exquisite groupings of Saxe china and rare miniatures on
ivory;--the ceiling above her was a painted mirror, where Venus in her
car of flowers, drawn by doves, was pictured floating across a crystal
sea,--the floor was strewn with white bearskins,--the corners were
filled with palms and flowers. As she regarded these unaccustomed
surroundings wonderingly, a firm hand was laid on her wrist, and a
brusque voice said in her ear:--

“Lie still, if you please! You have been seriously hurt! You must rest.”

She turned feebly towards the speaker, and saw a big burly man with a
bald head, seated at her side, who held a watch in one hand, and felt
her pulse with the other. She could not discern his features plainly,
for his back was set to the already shaded light, and her own eyes were
weak and dim.

“You are very kind!” she murmured--“I do not quite remember--Ah, yes!”
 and a quick flash of animation passed over her face--“I know now! The
King! Is--is all well?”

“All is well, thanks to you!” replied the gruff voice--“You have saved
his life.”

“Thank God!”--and she closed her eyes again wearily, while two slow
tears trickled from under the shut white lids--“Thank God!”

Professor von Glauben, placed in charge of her by the King’s command,
gently relinquished the small white hand he held, and stepping
noiselessly to a table near at hand, poured out from one of the various
little flasks set thereon, a cordial the properties of which were alone
known to himself, and held the glass to her lips.

“Drink this off at once!”--he said authoritatively, yet kindly.

She obeyed. He then, turning aside with the empty glass, sat down
and watched her from a little distance. Soon a faint flush tinged her
dead-white skin, and presently, with a deep sigh, she opened her eyes
again. Then she became aware of a stiffness and smart in her right
shoulder, and saw that it was tightly bandaged, and that the bodice of
her dress was cut away from it. Lying perfectly still, she gradually
brought her strong spirit of self-control to bear on the situation, and
tried to collect her scattered thoughts. Very few minutes sufficed her
to recollect all that had happened, and as she realised more and more
vividly that she was in some strange and luxurious abode where she had
no business or desire to be, she gathered all the forces of her mind
to her aid, and with but a slight effort, sat upright. Professor
von Glauben came towards her with an exclamation of warning--but she
motioned him back with a very decided gesture.

“Please do not trouble!” she said--“I am quite able to move--to
stand--see!” And she rose to her feet, trembling a little, and steadying
herself by resting one hand on the edge of the sofa. “I do not know who
you are, but I am sure you have been most kind to me! And if you would
do me a still greater kindness, you will let me go away from here at

“Impossible, Madame!” declared the Professor, firmly--“His Majesty, the

“What of his Majesty, the King?” demanded Lotys with sudden hauteur--“Am
I not mistress of my own actions?”

The Professor made an elaborate bow.

“Most unquestionably you are, Madame!” he replied--“But you are also for
the moment, a guest in the King’s Palace; and having saved his life,
you will surely not withhold from him the courteous acceptance of his

“The King’s Palace!” she echoed, and a little disdainful smile crossed
her lips--“I,--Lotys,--in the King’s Palace!” She moved a few steps, and
drew herself proudly erect. “You, sir, are a servant of the King’s?”

“I am his Majesty’s resident physician, at your service!” he said, with
another bow--“I have had the honour of attending to the wound you so
heroically received in his defence,--and though it is not a dangerous
wound, it is an exceedingly unpleasant one I assure you,--and will give
you a good deal of pain and trouble. Let me advise you very earnestly
to stay where you are, and rest--do not think of leaving the Palace

She sighed restlessly. “I must not think of staying in it!” she replied.
“But I do not wish to seem churlish--or ungrateful for your care and
kindness;--will you tell the King--” Here she broke off abruptly, and
fixed her eyes searchingly on his face. “Strange!” she murmured--“I seem
to have seen you before,--or someone very like you!”

The Professor was troubled with a sudden fit of coughing which made him
very red in the face, and obliged him to turn away for a moment in order
to recover himself. Still struggling with that obstinate catch in his
throat he said:

“You were saying, Madame, that you wished me to tell the King

“Yes!” said Lotys eagerly--“if you will be so good! Tell him that
I thank him for his courtesy;--but that I must go away from this
Palace,--that I cannot--may not--stop in it an hour longer! He does not
know who it is that saved his life,--if he did, he would not wish me to
remain a moment under his roof! He would be as anxious and willing for
me to leave as I am to go! Will you tell him this?”

“Madame, I will tell him,” replied the Professor deferentially, yet with
a slight smile--“But--if it will satisfy your scruples, or ease your
mind at all,--I may as well inform you that his Majesty does know who
you are! The populace itself declared your name to him, with shouts of
acclamation.” She flushed a vivid red, then grew very pale.

“If that be so, then he must also be aware that I am his sworn enemy!”
 she said,--“And, that in accordance with the principles I hold, I cannot
possibly remain under his roof! Therefore I trust, sir, you will have
the kindness to provide me with a way of quick exit before my presence
here becomes too publicly reported.”

The Professor was slightly nonplussed. He considered for a moment; then
rapidly made up his mind.

“Madame, I will do so!” he said--“That is, if you will permit me first
of all to announce your intention of leaving the Palace, to the King.
Pardon me for suggesting that his Majesty can hardly regard as an enemy
a lady who has saved his life at the risk of her own.”

“I did not save it because he is the King,” she said curtly, “And you
are at liberty to tell him so. Please make haste to inform him at once
of my desire to leave the Palace,--and say also, that if he considers he
owes me any gratitude, he will show it by not detaining me.”

The Professor bowed and retired. Lotys, left alone, sat down for a
moment in one of the luxuriously cushioned chairs, and pressed her left
hand hard over her eyes to try and still their throbbing ache. Her
right arm was bound up and useless,--and the pain from the wound in her
shoulder caused her acute agony,--but she had a will of iron, and she
had trained her mental forces to control, if not entirely to master, her
physical weaknesses. She thought, not of her own suffering, but of the
exciting incident in which mere impulse had led her to take so marked a
share. It was by pure accident that she had joined the crowd assembled
to see the King lay the foundation-stone of the proposed new Theatre.
She had been as it were, entangled in the press of the people, and
had got pushed towards the centre of the scene almost against her own
volition. And while she had stood,--a passive and unwilling spectator
of the pageant,--her attention had been singularly attracted towards the
uneasy and restless movements of the youth who had afterwards attempted
the assassination of the monarch. She had watched him narrowly; though
she could not have explained why she did so, even to herself. He was
a complete stranger to her, and yet, with her quick intuition, she
had discerned a curious expression of anxiety and fear in his face, as
though of the impending horror of a crime,--a look which, because it
was so strained and unnatural, had aroused her suspicion. When she had
sprung forward to shield the King, only one idea had inspired her,--and
that idea she would not now fully own even to herself, because it was so
entirely, weakly feminine. Nevertheless, from woman’s weakness has often
sprung a hero’s strength--and so it had proved in this case. She did
not, however, allow herself to dwell on the instinctive impulse which
had thrown her on the King’s breast, ready to receive her own death-blow
rather than that he should die; she preferred to elude that question,
and to consider her action solely from the standpoint of those
Socialistic theories with which she was indissolubly associated.

“Had I not frustrated the attempt, the crime would have been set down
to us and our Brotherhood,” she said to herself, “Sergius--or Paul
Zouche--or I myself--or even Pasquin--yes, even he!--might, and
doubtless would, have been accused of instigating it. As it is, I think
I have saved the situation.” She rose and walked slowly up and down
the room. “I wonder who is behind the wretched boy concerned in
this business? He is too young to have determined on such a deed
himself,--unless he is mad;--he must be a tool in the hands of others.”

Here spying her long black cloak hanging across a chair, she took it
up and threw it round her,--her face was reflected back upon her from
a mirror set in the wall, round which a cluster of ivory cupids
clambered,--and she looked critically at her white drawn features, and
the disordered masses of her hair. Loosening these abundant locks,
she shook them down and gathered them into her one uncrippled hand,
preparatory to twisting them into the usual knot at the back of her
head, the while she looked at the little sculptured _amorini_ set round
the mirror, with a compassionate smile.

“Such a number of mimic Loves where there is no real love!” she said
half aloud,--when the opening of a door, and the swaying movement of a
curtain pushed aside, startled her; and still holding her rich hair up
in her hand she turned quickly,--to find herself face to face with,--the

There was an instant’s dead silence. Dropping the silken gold weight
of her tresses to fall as they would, regardless of conventional
appearances, she stood erect, making all unconsciously to herself,
a picture of statuesque and beauteous tragedy. Her plain black
garments,--the long cloak enveloping her slight form, and the glorious
tangle of her unbound hair rippling loosely about her pale face, in
which her eyes shone like blue flowers, made luminous by the sunlight
of the inspired soul behind them, all gave her an almost supernatural
air,--and made her seem as wholly unlike any other woman as a strange
leaf from an unexplored country is unlike the foliage common to one’s
native land. The King looked steadfastly upon her; she, meeting his gaze
with equal steadfastness, felt her heart beating violently, though,
as she well knew, it was not with fear. She had no thought of Court
etiquette,--nor had she any reason to consider it, his Majesty having
himself deliberately trespassed upon its rules by visiting her thus
alone and unattended. She offered no reverence,--no salutation;--she
simply stood before him, quite silent, awaiting his pleasure,--though
in her eyes there shone a dangerous brilliancy that was almost feverish,
and nervous tremors shook her from head to foot. The strange dumb spell
between them relaxed at last. With a kind of effort which expressed
itself in the extra rigidity and pallor of his fine features, the King

“Madame, I have come to thank you! Your noble act of heroism this
afternoon has saved my life. I do not say it is worth saving!--but the
Nation appears to think it is,--and in the name of the Nation, whose
servant I am, I offer you my personal gratitude--and service!”

He bowed low as he said these words gravely and courteously. Her eyes
still searched his face wistfully, with the eager plaintive expression
of a child looking for some precious treasure it has lost. She strove
to calm her throbbing pulses,--to quiet the hurrying blood in her
veins,--to brace herself up to her usual impervious height of composure
and self-control.

“I need no thanks!” she answered briefly--“I have only done my duty!”

“Nay, Madame, is it quite consistent with your duty to shield from death
one so hated by your disciples and followers?” he asked, with a tinge of
melancholy in his accents--“You--as the famous Lotys--should have helped
to kill, not to save!”

She regarded him fearlessly.

“You mistake!” she said--“As King, you should learn to know your
subjects better! We are not murderers. We do not seek your life,--we
seek to make you understand the need there is of honesty and justice. We
live our lives among the poor; and we see those poor crushed down into
the dust by the rich, without hope and without help,--and we
endeavour to rouse them to a sense of this Wrong, so that they may, by
persistence, obtain Right. We do not want the death of any man! Even
to a traitor we give warning and time, ere we punish his treachery. The
unhappy wretch who attempted your life to-day was not of our party, or
our teaching, thank God!”

“I am sure of that!” he said very gently, his face brightening with a
kind smile,--then, seeing her swerve, as though about to fall, he caught
her on one arm--“You are faint! You must not stand too long. I fear you
are suffering from the pain of that cruel wound inflicted on you for my

“A little--” she managed to say, with white lips--“But it is nothing--it
will soon pass----”

She sank helplessly into the chair he placed for her, and mutely watched
him as he walked to the window and threw it open, admitting the sweet,
fresh, sea-scented air, and a flood of crimson radiance from the setting

“I am informed that you wish to quit the Palace at once,” he said,
averting his gaze from hers for a moment;--“Need I say how much I regret
this decision of yours? Both I and the Queen had hoped you would have
remained with us, under the care of our own physician, till you were
quite recovered. But I owe you too great a debt already to make any
further claim upon you--and I will not command you to stay, if you
desire to go.”

She lifted her head;--the faint colour was returning to her cheeks.

“I thank you!” she said simply;--“I do indeed desire to go. Every moment
spent here is a moment wasted!”

“You think so?”--and, turning from the window where he stood, he
confronted her again;--“May I venture to suggest that you hardly do
justice to me, or to the situation? You have placed me under very great
obligations--surely you should endure my company long enough to tell me
at least how I can in some measure show my personal recognition of your
brave and self-sacrificing action!”

She looked at him in musing silence. A strange glow came into her
eyes,--a deeper crimson flushed her cheek.

“You can do nothing for me!” she said, after a long pause, “You are a
King--I, a poor commoner. I would not be indebted to you for all the
world! I am prouder of my ‘common’ estate than you are of your royalty!
What are ‘royal’ rewards? Jewels, money, place, title! All valueless
to me! If you would serve anyone, serve the People;--do something to
deserve their trust! If you would show _me_ any personal recognition, as
you say, for saving your life, make that life more noble!”

He heard her without offence, holding himself mute and motionless. She
rose from her seat, and approached him more closely.

“Perhaps, after all, it is well that I was,--unconsciously and against
my own volition,--brought here,” she said; “Perhaps it is God’s will
that I should speak with you! For, as a rule none of your unknown
subjects can, or may speak with you!--you are so much hemmed in and
ringed round with slaves and parasites! In so far as this goes, you are
to be pitied; though it rests with you to shake yourself free from the
toils of vulgar adulation. Your flatterers tell you nothing. They are
careful to keep you shut out of your own kingdom--to hide from you
things that are true,--things that you ought to know; they fool you with
false assurances of national tranquillity and content,--they persuade
you to play, like an over-grown child, with the toys of luxury,--they
lead you, a mere puppet, round and round in the clockwork routine of a
foolish and licentious society,--when you might be a Man!--up and doing
man’s work that should help you to regenerate and revivify the whole
country! I speak boldly--yes!--because I do not fear you!--because I
have no favours to gain from you,--because to me,--Lotys,--you,--the
King--are nothing!”

Her voice, perfectly tranquil, even, and coldly sweet, had not a single
vibration of uncertainty or hesitation in it--and her words seemed to
cut through the stillness of the room with clean incisiveness like
the sweep of a sword-blade. Outside, the sea murmured and the leaves
rustled,--the sun had sunk, leaving behind it a bright, pearly twilight
sky, flecked with pink clouds like scattered rose-petals.

He looked straight at her,--his clear dark grey eyes were filled with
the glowing fire of strongly suppressed feeling. Some hasty ejaculation
sprang to his lips, but he checked it, and pacing once or twice up and
down, suddenly wheeled round, and again confronted her.

“If, as a king, I fall so far short of kingliness, and am nothing to
you,”--he said deliberately; “Why did you shield me from the assassin’s
dagger a while ago? Why not have let me perish?”

She shook back her gold hair, and regarded him almost defiantly.

“I did not save you because you are the King!” she replied--“Be assured
of that!”

He was vaguely astonished.

“Merely a humane sentiment then?” he said--“Just as you would have saved
a dog from drowning!”

A little smile crept reluctantly round the corners of her mouth.

“There was another reason,” she began in a low tone,--then
paused--“But--only a woman’s reason!”

Something in her changing colour,--some delicate indefinable touch of
tenderness and pathos, which softened her features and made them almost
ethereal, sent a curious thrill through his blood.

“A woman’s reason!” he echoed; “May I not hear it?”

Again she hesitated,--then, as if despising herself for her own
irresolution she spoke out bravely.

“You may!”--she said--“There is nothing to conceal--nothing of which I
am ashamed! Besides, it is the true motive of the action which you are
pleased to call ‘heroic.’ I saved your life simply because--because you
resemble in form and feature, in look and manner, the only man I love!”

A curious silence followed her words. The faint far whispering of the
leaves on the trees outside seemed almost intrusively loud in such a
stillness,--the placid murmur of the sea against the cliff below
the Palace became well-nigh suggestive of storm. Lotys was suddenly
conscious of an odd strained sense of terror,--she had spoken as
freely and frankly as she would have spoken to any one of her own
associates,--and yet she felt that somehow she had been over-impulsive,
and that in a thoughtless moment she had let slip some secret which
placed her, weak and helpless, in the King’s power. The King himself
stood immovable as a figure of bronze,--his eyes resting upon her with
a deep insistence of purpose, as though he sought to wrest some further
confession from her soul. The tension between them was painful,--almost
intolerable,--and though it lasted but a minute, that minute seemed
weighted with the potentialities of years. Forcing herself to break the
dumb spell, Lotys went on hurriedly and half desperately:--

“You may smile at this,” she said--“Men always jest with a woman’s
heart,--a woman’s folly! But folly or no, I will not have you draw
any false conclusions concerning me,--or flatter yourself that it was
loyalty to you, or honour for your position that made me your living
shield to-day. No!--for if you were not the exact counterpart of him who
is dearer to me than all the world beside, I think I should have let you
die! I think so--I do not know! Because, after all, you are not like
him in mind or heart; it is only your outward bearing, your physical
features that resemble his! But, even so, I could not have looked idly
on, and seen his merest Resemblance slain! Now you understand! It is
not for you, as King, that I have turned aside a murderer’s weapon,--but
solely because you have the face, the eyes, the smile of one who is
a thousand times greater and nobler than you,--who, though poor and
uncrowned, is a true king in the grace and thought and goodness of his
actions,--who, all unlike you, personally attends to the wants of the
poor, instead of neglecting them,--and who recognises, and does his best
to remedy, the many wrongs which afflict the people of this land!”

Her sweet voice thrilled with passion,--her cheeks
glowed,--unconsciously she stretched out her uninjured hand with an
eloquent gesture of pride and conviction. The King’s figure, till now
rigid and motionless, stirred;--advancing a step, he took that hand
before she could withhold it, and raised it to his lips.

“Madame, I am twice honoured!” he said, in accents that shook ever so
slightly--“To resemble a good man even outwardly is something,--to wear
in any degree the lineaments of one whom a brave and true woman honours
by her love is still more! You have made me very much your debtor”--here
he gently relinquished the hand he had kissed--“but believe me, I shall
endeavour most faithfully to meet the claim you have upon my gratitude!”
 Here he paused, and drawing back, bowed courteously. “The way for your
departure is clear,” he continued;--“I have ordered a carriage to be
in waiting at one of the private entrances to the Palace. Professor von
Glauben, my physician, who has just attended you, will escort you to it.
You will pass out quite unnoticed,--and be,--as you desire it--again at
full liberty. Let the memory of the King whose life you saved trouble
you no more,--except when you look upon his better counterpart!--as
then, perchance, you may think more kindly of him! For he has to
suffer!--not so much for his own faults, as for the faults of a system
formulated by his ancestors.”

Her intense eyes glowed with a fire of enthusiasm as she lifted them to
his face.

“Kingship would be a grand system,” she said, “if kings were true! And
Autocracy would be the best and noblest form of government in the world,
if autocrats could be found who were intellectual and honest at one and
the same time!”

He looked at her observantly.

“You think they are neither?”

“_I_ think? ‘I’ am nothing,--my opinions count for nothing! But History
gives evidence, and supplies proof of their incompetency. A great
king,--good as well as great,--would be the salvation of this present
time of the world!”

Still he kept his eyes upon her.

“Go on!”--he said--“There is something in your mind which you would fain
express to me more openly. You have eloquent features, Madame!--and your
looks are the candid mirror of your thoughts. Speak, I beg of you!”

The light of a daring inward hope flashed in her face and inspired her
very attitude, as she stood before him, entirely regardless of herself.

“Then,--since you give me leave,--I _will_ speak!” she said; “For
perhaps I shall never see you again--never have the chance to ask you,
as a Man whom the mere accident of birth has made a king, to have more
thought, more pity, more love for your subjects! Surely you should be
their guardian--their father--their protector? Surely you should not
leave them to become the prey of unscrupulous financiers or intriguing
Churchmen? Some say you are yourself involved in the cruel schemes which
are slowly but steadily robbing this country’s people of their Trades,
the lawful means of their subsistence; and that you approve, in the
main, of the private contracts which place our chief manufactures and
lines of traffic in the hands of foreign rivals. But I do not believe
this. We--and by we, I mean the Revolutionary party--try hard not to
believe this! I admit to you, as faithfully as if I stood on my trial
before you, that much of the work to which we, as a party have pledged
ourselves, consists in moving the destruction of the Monarchy, and the
formation of a Republic. But why? Only because the Monarchy has proved
itself indifferent to the needs of the people, and deaf to their
protestations against injustice! Thus we have conceived it likely that
a Republic might help to mend matters,--if it were in power for at least
some twenty or thirty years,--but at the same time we know well enough
that if a King ruled over us who was indeed a King,--who would refuse to
be the tool of party speculators, and who could not be moved this way or
that by the tyrants of finance, the people would have far more chance
of equality and right under a Republic even! Only we cannot find that
king!--no country can! You, for instance, are no hero! You will not
think for yourself, though you might; you only interest yourself in
affairs that may redound to your personal and private credit; or
in those which affect ‘society,’ the most dissolute portion of the
community,--and you have shown so little individuality in yourself or
your actions, that your unexpected refusal to grant Crown lands to
the Jesuits was scarcely believed in or accepted, otherwise than as a
caprice, till your own ‘official’ announcement. Even now we can scarcely
be brought to look upon it except as an impulse inspired by fear!
Herein, we do you, no doubt, a grave injustice; I, for one, honestly
believe that you have refused these lands to the Priest-Politicians,
out of earnest consideration for the future peace and welfare of your

“Nay, why believe even thus much of me?” he interrupted with a grave
smile; “May you not be misled by that Resemblance I bear, to one who is,
in your eyes, so much my superior?”

A faint expression of offence darkened her face, and her brows

“You are pleased to jest!” she said coldly; “As I said before, it is
man’s only way of turning aside, or concluding all argument with a
woman! I am mistaken perhaps in the instinct which has led me to speak
to you as openly as I have done,--and yet,--I know in my heart I can do
you no harm by telling you the truth, as others would never tell it
to you! Many times within this last two months the people have sent in
petitions to you against the heavy taxes with which your Government is
afflicting them, and they can get no answer to their desperate appeals.
Is it kingly--is it worthy of your post as Head of this realm, to turn a
deaf ear to the cries of those whose hard-earned money keeps you on the
Throne, housed in luxury, guarded from every possible evil, and happily
ignorant of the pangs of want and hunger? How can you, if you have a
heart, permit such an iniquitous act on the part of your Government as
the setting of a tax on bread?--the all in all of life to the very poor!
Have you ever seen young children crying for bread? I have! Have you
ever seen strong men reduced to the shame of stealing bread, to
feed their wives and infants? I have! I think of it as I stand here,
surrounded by the luxury which is your daily lot,--and knowing what I
know, I would strip these satin-draped walls, and sell everything of
value around me if I possessed it, rather than know that one woman or
child starved within the city’s precincts! Your Ministers tell you there
is a deficiency in the Exchequer,--but you do not ask why, or how the
deficiency arose! You do not ask whether Ministers themselves have
not been trafficking and speculating with the country’s money! For
if deficiency there be, it has arisen out of the Government’s
mismanagement! The Government have had the people’s money,--and have
thrown it recklessly away. Therefore, they have no right to ask for
more, to supply what they themselves have wilfully wasted. No right, I
say!--no right to rob them of another coin! If I were a man, and a king
like you, I would voluntarily resign more than half my annual kingly
income to help that deficit in the National Exchequer till it had been
replaced;--I would live poor,--and be content to know that by my act I
had won far more than many millions--a deathless, and beloved name of
honour with my people!”

She paused. He said not a word. Suddenly she became conscious that her
hair was unbound and falling loosely about her; she had almost forgotten
this till now. A wave of colour swept over her face,--but she mastered
her embarrassment, and gathering the long tresses together in her left
hand, twisted them up slowly, and with an evident painful effort. The
King watched her, a little smile hovering about his mouth.

“If I might help you!” he said softly--“but--that is a task for my

She appeared not to hear him. A sudden determination moved her, and she
uttered her thought boldly and at all hazards.

“If you do not, as the public report, approve of the financial schemes
out of which your Ministers make their fortunes, to the utter ruin of
the people in general,” she said slowly; “Dismiss Carl Pérousse from
office! So may you perchance avert a great national disaster!”

He permitted himself to smile indulgently.

“Madame, you may ask much!--and however great your demands, I will do
my utmost to meet and comply with them;--but like all your charming sex,
you forget that a king can seldom or never interfere with a political
situation! It would be very unwise policy on my part to dismiss M.
Pérousse, seeing that he is already nominated as the next Premier.”

“The next Premier!” Lotys echoed the words with a passionate scorn; “If
that is so, I give you an honest warning! The people will revolt,--no
force can hold them back or keep them in check! And if you should
command your soldiery to fire on the populace, there must be bloodshed
and crime!--on your head be the result! Oh, are you not, can you not be
something higher than even a king?--an honest man? Will you not open the
eyes of your mind to see the wickedness, falsehood and treachery of
this vile Minister, who ministers only to his own ends?--who feigns
incorruptibility in order to more easily corrupt others?--who assumes
the defence of outlying states, merely to hide the depredations he is
making on home power? Nay, if you will not, you are not worth a beggar’s
blessing!--and I shall wonder to myself why God made of you so exact a
copy of one whom I know to be a good man!”

Her breath came and went quickly,--her cheeks were flushed, and great
tears stood in her eyes. But he seemed altogether unmoved.

“I’ faith, I shall wonder too!” he said very tranquilly; “Good men are
scarce!--and to be the copy of one is excellent, though it may in some
cases be misleading! Madame, I have heard you with patience, and--if
you will permit me to say so--admiration! I honour your courage--your
frankness--and--still more--your absolute independence. You speak of
wrongs to the People. If such wrongs indeed exist----”

“If!” interrupted Lotys with a whole world of meaning in the expression.

“I say, if they indeed exist, I will, as far as I may,--endeavour to
remedy them. I, personally, have no hesitation in declaring to you that
I am not involved in the financial schemes to which you allude--though
I know two or three of my fellow-sovereigns who are! But I do not care
sufficiently for money to indulge in speculation. Nevertheless, let me
tell you, speculation is good, and even necessary in matters affecting
national finance, and I am confident--” here he smiled enigmatically,
“that the country’s honour is safe in the hands of M. Pérousse!”

At this she lifted her head proudly and looked at him, with eyes that
expressed so magnificent a disdain, that had he been any other than the
man he was, he might have quailed beneath the lightning flash of such
utter contempt.

“You are confident that the country’s honour is safe!” she repeated
bitterly; “I am confident that it is betrayed and shamed! And History
will set a curse against the King who helped in its downfall!”

He regarded her with a vague, lingering gentleness.

“You are harsh, Madame!” he said softly; “But you could not offend me if
you tried! I quarrel with none of your sex! And you will, I hope, think
better of me some day,--and not be sorry--as perhaps you are now--for
having saved a life so worthless! Farewell!”

She offered no response. The silken portière rustled and swayed,--the
door opened and shut again quietly--he was gone. Left alone, Lotys
dropped wearily on the sofa, and burying her head in the soft cushions,
gave way to an outburst of tears and sobbed like a tired and exhausted
child. In this condition Professor von Glauben, entering presently,
found her. But his sympathy, if he felt any, was outwardly very chill
and formal. Another dose of his ‘cordial,’--a careful examination and
re-strapping of the wounded shoulder,--these summed up the whole of his
consolation; and his precise cold manner did much to restore her to her
self-possession. She thanked him in a few words for his professional
attention, without raising her eyes to his face, and quietly followed
him down a long narrow passage which terminated in a small private door
giving egress to the Royal pleasure-grounds,--and here a hired close
carriage was waiting. Putting her carefully into this vehicle, the
Professor then delivered himself of his last instructions.

“The driver has no orders beyond the citadel, Madame,” he explained.
“His Majesty begged me to say that he has no desire to seem inquisitive
as to your place of residence. You will therefore please inform the
coachman yourself as to where you wish to be driven. And take care of
that so-much-wounded shoulder!” he added, relapsing into a kinder
and less formal tone;--“It will pain you,--but there will be no
inflammation, not now I have treated it!--and it will heal quickly, that
I will guarantee--I, who have had first care of it!”

She thanked him again in a low voice,--there was an uncomfortable lump
in her throat, and tears still trembled on her lashes.

“Remember well,” said the Professor cheerily; “how very grateful we
are to you! What we shall do for you some day, we do not yet know!
A monument in the public square, or a bust in the Cathedral? Ha, ha!
Goodbye! You have the blessing of the nation with you!”

She shook her head deprecatingly,--she tried to smile, but she could
not trust herself to speak. The carriage rolled swiftly down the broad
avenue and soon disappeared, and the Professor, having watched the last
flash of its wheels vanish between the arching trees, executed a slow
and somewhat solemn _pas-seul_ on the doorstep where it had left him.

“Ach so!” he exclaimed, almost audibly; “The King’s Comedy progresses!
But it had nearly taken the form of Tragedy to-day--and now Tragedy
itself has melted into sentiment, and tears, and passion! And with this
very difficult kind of human mixture, the worst may happen!”

He re-entered the Palace and returned with some haste to the apartments
of the King, whither he had been bidden.

But on arriving there he was met by an attendant in the ante-room who
informed him that his Majesty had retired to his private library and
desired to be left alone.


“I SAY--‘ROME’!”

The State prison was a gloomy fortress built on a wedge of rock that
jutted far out into the ocean. It stood full-fronted to the north, and
had opposed its massive walls and huge battlements to every sort of
storm for many centuries. It was a relic of mediaeval days, when torture
no less than death, was the daily practice of the law, and when persons
were punished as cruelly for light offences as for the greatest crimes.
It was completely honeycombed with dungeons and subterranean passages,
which led to the sea,--and in one of the darkest and deepest of these
underground cells, the wretched youth who had attempted the life of the
King, was placed under the charge of two armed warders, who marched up
and down outside the heavily-barred door, keeping close watch and guard.
Neither they nor anyone else had exchanged a word with the prisoner
since his arrest. He had given them no trouble. He had been carefully
searched, but nothing of an incriminating nature had been found upon
him,--nothing to point to any possible instigator of his dastard crime.
He had entered the dungeon allotted to him with almost a cheerful
air,--he had muttered half-inaudible thanks for the bread and water
which had been passed to him through the grating; and he had seated
himself upon the cold bench, hewn out of the stone wall, with a
resignation that might have easily passed for pleasure. As the time
wore on, however, and the reality of his position began to press more
consciously upon his senses, the warders heard him sigh deeply, and
move restlessly, and once he gave a cry like that of a wounded animal,

“For Thy sake, Lord Christ! For Thy sake I strove--for Thy sake, and in
Thy service! Thou wilt not leave me here to perish!”

He had been brought to the prison immediately after his murderous
attack, and the time had then been about four in the afternoon. It was
now night; and all over the city the joy-bells were clashing out music
from the Cathedral towers, to express the popular thanksgiving for the
miraculous escape and safety of the King. The echo of the chimes which
had been ringing ever since sunset, was caught by the sea and thrown
back again upon the air, so that it partially drowned the melancholy
clang of the prison bell, which in its turn, tolled forth the dreary
passing of the time for those to whom liberty had become the merest
shadow of a dream. As it struck nine, a priest presented himself to the
Superintendent of the prison, bearing a ‘permit’ from General Bernhoff,
Head of the Police, to visit and ‘confess’ the prisoner. He was led to
the cell and admitted at once. At the noise of a stranger’s entrance,
the criminal raised himself from the sunken attitude into which he had
fallen on his stone bench, and watched, by the light of the dim lamp set
in the wall, the approach of his tall, gaunt, black-garmented visitor
with evident horror and fear. When,--with the removal of the shovel
hat and thick muffler which had helped to disguise that visitor’s
personality,--the features of Monsignor Del Fortis were disclosed, he
sprang forward and threw himself on his knees.

“Mercy!--Mercy!” he moaned--“Have pity on me, in the name of God!”

Del Fortis looked down upon him with contempt, as though he were some
loathsome reptile writhing at his feet. “Silence!” he said, in a harsh
whisper--“Remember, we are watched here! Get up!--why do you kneel to
_me_? I have nothing to do with you, beyond such office as the Church
enjoins!” And a cold smile darkened, rather than lightened his features.
“I am sent to administer ‘spiritual consolation’ to you!”

Slowly the prisoner struggled up to a standing posture, and pressing
both hands to his head, he stared wildly before him.

“‘Spiritual consolation’!” he muttered--“‘Spiritual’?” A faint dull
vacuous smile flickered over his face, and he shuddered. “I understand!
You come to prepare my soul for Heaven!”

Del Fortis gave him a sinister look.

“That depends on yourself!” he replied curtly--“The Church can speed you
either way,--to Heaven, or--Hell!”

The prisoner’s hands clenched involuntarily with a gesture of despair.

“I know that!” he said sullenly--“The Church can save or kill! What of
it? I am now beyond even the power of the Church!”

Del Fortis seated himself on the stone bench.

“Come here!” he said--“Sit down beside me!”

The prisoner obeyed.

“Look at this!”--and he drew an ebony and silver crucifix from his
breast--“Fix your eyes upon it, and try, my son,”--here he raised his
voice a little--“try to conquer your thoughts of things temporal,
and lift them to the things which are eternal! For things temporal do
quickly vanish and disperse, but things eternal shall endure for ever!
Humble your soul before God, and beseech Him with me, to mercifully
cleanse the dark stain of sin upon your soul!” Here he began mumbling a
Latin prayer, and while engaged in this, he caught the prisoner’s hand
in a close grip. “Act--act with me!” he said firmly. “Fool!--Play a
part, as I do! Bend your head close to mine--assume shame and sorrow
even if you cannot feel it! And listen to me well! _You have failed_!”

“I know it!”

The reply came thick and low.

“Why did you make the attempt at all? Who persuaded you?”

The wretched youth lifted his head, and showed a wild white face, in
which the piteous eyes, starting from their sockets, looked blind with

“Who persuaded me?” he replied mechanically--“No one! No single
one,--but many!”

Del Fortis gripped him firmly by the wrist.

“You lie!” he snarled--“How dare you utter such a calumny! Who were you?
What were you? A miserable starveling--picked up from the streets and
saved from penury,--housed and sheltered in our College,--taught and
trained and given paid employment by us,--what have _you_ to say of
‘persuasion’?--you, who owe your very life to us, and to our charity!”

Roused by this attack, the prisoner, wrenching his hand away from the
priest’s cruel grasp, sprang upright.

“Wait--wait!” he said breathlessly--“You do not understand! You forget!
All my life I have been under One great influence--all my life I have
been taught to dream One great Dream! When I talk of ‘persuasion,’
I only mean the persuasion of that force which has surrounded me as
closely as the air I breathe!--that spirit which is bound to enter into
all who work for you, or with you! Oh no!--neither you nor any member
of your Order ever seek openly to ‘persuade’ any man to any act, whether
good or evil--your Rule is much wiser than that!--much more subtle! You
issue no actual commands--your power comes chiefly by suggestion! And
_with_ you,--working _for_ you--I have thought day and night, night and
day, of the glory of Rome!--the dominion of Rome!--the triumph of Rome!
I have learned, under you, to wish for it, to pray for it, to desire it
more than my own life!--do you, can you blame me for that? You dare not
call it a sin;--for your Order represents it as a virtue that condones
all sin!”

Del Fortis was silent, watching him with a kind of curious contempt.

“It grew to be part of me, this Dream!” went on the lad, his eyes
now shining with a feverish brilliancy--“And I began to see wonderful
visions, and to hear voices calling me in the daytime,--voices that no
one else heard! Once in the College chapel I saw the Blessed Virgin’s
picture smile! I was copying documents for the Vatican then,--and I
thought of the Holy Father,--how he was imprisoned in Rome, when
he should be Emperor of all the Emperors,--King of all the Kings! I
remembered how it was that he had no temporal power,--though all the
powers of the earth should be subservient to him!--and my heart beat
almost to bursting, and my brain seemed on fire!--but the Blessed
Virgin’s picture still smiled;--and I knelt down before it and swore
that I,--even I, would help to give the whole world back to Rome, even
if I died for it!”

He caught his breath with a kind of sob, and looked appealingly at Del
Fortis, who, fingering the crucifix he held, sat immovable.

“And then--and then” he went on, “I heard enough,--while at work in
the monastery with you and the brethren,--to strengthen and fire my
resolution. I learned that all kings are, in these days, the enemies
of the Church. I learned that they were all united in one resolve; and
that,--to deprive the Holy Father of temporal power! Then I set myself
to study kings. Each, and all of those who sit on thrones to-day passed
before my view;--all selfish, money-seeking, sensual men!--not one good,
true soul among them! Demons they seemed to me,--bent on depriving God’s
Evangelist in Rome of his Sacred and Supreme Sovereignty! It made me
mad!--and I would have killed all kings, could I have done so with
a single thought! Then came a day when you preached openly in the
Cathedral against this one King, who should by right have gone to his
account this very afternoon!--you told the people how he had refused
lands to the Church,--and how by this wicked act he had stopped the
progress of religious education, and had put himself, as it were, in the
way of Christ who said: ‘Suffer little children to come unto Me!’ And my
dreams of the glory of Rome again took shape--I saw in my mind all the
children,--the poor little children of the world, gathered to the
knee of the Holy Father, and brought up to obey him and him only!--I
remembered my oath before the Blessed Virgin’s picture, and all my soul
cried out: ‘Death to the crowned Tyrant! Death!’ For you said--and I
believed it--that all who opposed the Holy Father’s will, were opposed
to the will of God!--and over and over again I said in my heart: ‘Death
to the tyrant! Death!’ And the words went with me like the response of
a litany,--till--till--I saw him before me to-day--a pampered fool,
surrounded by women!--a blazoned liar!--and then--” He paused, smiling
foolishly; and shaking his head with a slow movement to and fro, he
added--“The dagger should have struck home!--it was aimed surely--aimed
strongly!--but that woman came between--why did she come? They said
she was Lotys!--ha ha!--Lotys, the Revolutionary sybil!--Lotys, the
Socialist!--but that could not be,--Lotys is as great an enemy of kings
as I am!”

“And an enemy of the Church as well!” said Del Fortis harshly--“Between
the Church and Socialism, all Thrones stand on a cracking earth,
devoured by fire! But make no mistake about it!--the woman was Lotys!
Socialist and Revolutionary as she may be, she has saved the life of the
King. This is so far fortunate--for you! And it is much to be hoped that
she herself is not slain by your dagger thrust;--death is far too easy
and light a punishment for her and her associates! We trust it may
please a merciful God to visit her with more lingering calamity!”

As he said this, he piously kissed the crucifix he held, keeping his
shallow dark eyes fixed on the prisoner with the expression of a cat
watching a mouse. The half-crazed youth, absorbed in the ideas of his
own dementia, still smiled to himself vaguely, and nervously plucked at
his fingers, till Del Fortis, growing impatient and forgetting for the
moment that they stood in a prison cell, the interior of which might
possibly be seen and watched from many points of observation unknown to
them, went up to him and shook him roughly by the arm.

“Attention!” he said angrily--“Rouse yourself and hear me! You talk
like a fool or a madman,--yet you are neither--neither, you
understand?--neither idiot-born nor suddenly crazed;--so, when on
your trial do not feign to be what you are not! Such ideas as you have
expressed, though they may have their foundation in a desire for good,
are evil in their results--yet even out of evil good may come! The power
of Rome--the glory of Rome--the dominion of Rome! Rome, supreme Mistress
of the world! Would you help the Church to win this great victory? Then
now is your chance! God has given you--you, His poor instrument,--the
means to effectually aid His conquest,--to Him be all the praise and
thanksgiving! It rests with you to accept His message and perform His

The high-flown, melodramatic intensity with which he pronounced these
words, had the desired effect on the stunned and bewildered, weak mind
of the unfortunate lad so addressed. His eyes sparkled--his cheeks
flushed,--and he looked eagerly up into the face of his priestly

“Yes--yes!” he said quickly in a breathless whisper--“But how?--tell me
how! I will work--oh, I will work--for Rome, for God, for the Blessed
Virgin!--I will do all that I can!--but how--how? Will the Holy Father
send an angel to take me out of this prison, so that I may be free to
help God?”

Del Fortis surveyed him with a kind of grim derision, A slight noise
like the slipping-back or slipping-to of a grating, startled him, and he
looked about him on all sides, moved by a sudden nervous apprehension.
But the massive walls of the cell, oozing with damp and slime, had
apparently no aperture or outlet anywhere, not even a slit in the
masonry for the admission of daylight. Satisfied with his hasty
examination, he took his credulous victim by the arm, and led him back
to the rough stone bench where they had first begun to converse.

“Kneel down here before me!”--he said--“Kneel, as if you were repeating
all the sins of your life to me in your last confession! Kneel, I say!”

Feebly, and with trembling limbs, the lad obeyed.

“Now,” continued Del Fortis, holding up the crucifix before him--“Try
to follow my words and understand them! To-morrow, or the next day, you
will be taken before a judge and tried for your attempted crime. Do you
realise that?”

“I do!” The answer came hesitatingly, and with a faint moan.

“Have you thought what you intend to say when you are asked your reasons
for attacking the King? Do you mean to tell judge and jury the story of
what you call your ‘persuasion’ to dream of the dominion of Rome?”

“Yes--yes!” replied the lad, looking up with an eager light on his
face--“Yes, I will tell them all,--just as I have told you! Then they
will know,--they will see that it was a good thought of mine--it would
have been a good sin! I will speak to them of the wicked wrongs done to
you and your Holy Order,--of the cruelty which the Christian Apostle in
Rome has to suffer at the hands of kings--and they will acknowledge me
to be right and just;--they will know I am as a man inspired by God to
work for the Church, the bride of Christ, and to make her Queen of all
the world!”

He stopped suddenly, intimidated by the cruel glare of the wolfish eyes
above him.

“You will say nothing of all this!” and Del Fortis shook the crucifix in
his face as though it were a threatening weapon; “You will say only what
_I_ choose,--only what _I_ command! And if you do not swear to speak as
I tell you, I will kill you!--here and now--with my own hands!”

Uttering a half-smothered cry, the wretched youth recoiled in terror.

“You will kill me? You--_you_?” he gasped--“No--no!--you could not do
that! you could not,--you are a holy man! I--I am not afraid that you
will hurt me! I have done nothing to offend you,--I have always
been obedient to you,--I have been your slave--your dog to fetch and
carry!--and you should remember,--yes!--you should remember that my
mother was rich,--and that because she too felt the call of God, she
gave all her money to the Church, and left me thrown upon the streets to
starve! But the Church rescued me--the Church did not forget! And I am
ready to serve the Church in all and every possible way,--I have done my
best, even now!”

He spoke with all the passionate self-persuasion of a fanatic, and Del
Fortis judged it wisest to control his own fierce inward impatience and
deal with him more restrainedly.

“That is true enough!” he said in milder accents;--“You are ready to
serve the Church,--I do not doubt it;--but you do not serve it in the
right way. No earthly good is gained to us by the killing of kings!
Their conversion and obedience is what we seek. This king you would
have slain is a baptised son of the Church; but beyond attending mass
regularly in his private chapel, which he does for the mere sake
of appearances, he is an atheist, condemned to the fires of Hell.
Nevertheless, no advantage to us could possibly be obtained by his
death. Much can be done for us by you--yes, _you_!--and much will depend
on the answers to the questions asked you at your trial. Give those
answers as _I_ shall bid you, and you will win a triumph for the cause
of Rome!”

The prisoner’s eyes glittered feverishly,--full of the delirium of
bigotry, he caught the lean, cold hand that held the crucifix, and
kissed it fervently.

“Command me!” he muttered--“Command!--and in the name of the Blessed
Virgin, I will obey!”

“Hear then, and attend closely to my words,” went on Del Fortis,
enunciating his sentences in a low distinct voice--“When you are brought
before the judge, you will be accused of an attempt to assassinate the
King. Make no denial of it,--admit it at once, and express contrition.
You will then be asked if any person or persons instigated you to commit
the crime. To this say ‘yes’!”

“Say ‘yes’!” repeated the lad--“But that will not be true!”

“Fool, does it matter!” ejaculated Del Fortis, almost savagely--“Have
you not sworn to speak as I command you? What is it to you whether it is
true or false?”

A slight shiver passed through the prisoner’s limbs--but he was silent.

“Say”--went on his pitiless instructor--“that you were enticed and
persuaded to commit the wicked deed by the teachings of the Socialist,
Sergius Thord, and his followers. Say that the woman Lotys knew of your
intention,--and saved the life of the King at the last moment, through
fear, lest her own seditious schemes should be discovered and herself
punished. Say,--that because you were young and weak and impressionable,
she chose you out to attempt the assassination. Do you hear?”

“I hear!” The reply came thickly and almost inaudibly. “But must I tell
these lies? I have never spoken to Sergius Thord in my life!--nor to the
woman Lotys;--I know nothing of them or their followers, except by the
public talk;--why should I harm the innocent? Let me tell the truth, I
pray of you!--let me speak as my heart dictates!--let me plead for the
Holy Father--for you--for your Order--for the Church!--”

He broke off as Del Fortis caught him by both hands in an angry grip.

“Do not dare to speak one word of the Church!” he said, “Or of us,--or
of our Order! Let not a single syllable escape your lips concerning your
connection with us and our Society!--or we shall find means to make you
regret it! Beware of betraying yourself! When you are once before the
Court of Law, remember you know nothing of Us, our Work, or our Creed!”

Utterly bewildered and mystified, the unhappy youth rocked himself
to and fro, clasping and unclasping his hands in a kind of nervous

“Oh why, why will you bid me to do this?” he moaned--“You know there
are times when I cannot be answerable for myself! How can I tell what
I shall do when I am brought face to face with my accusers?--when I see
all the dreadful eyes of the people turned upon me? How can I deny all
knowledge of those who brought me up, and nurtured and educated me? If
they ask me of my home, is it not with you?--under your sufferance and
charity? If they seek to know my means of subsistence, is it not through
you that I receive the copying-work for which I am paid? You would not
have me repudiate all this, would you? I should be worse than a dog in
sheer ingratitude if I did not bear open testimony to all the Church has
done for me!”

“Be, not worse than a dog, but faithful as a dog in obedience!”
 responded Del Fortis impressively--“And, for once, speak of the Church
with the indifference of an atheist,--or with such marked coldness as a
wise man speaks of the woman he secretly adores! Hold the Church and
Us too sacred for any mention in a Court of criminal law! But serve the
Church by involving the Socialist and Revolutionary party! Think of the
magnificent results which will spring from this act,--and nerve yourself
to tell a lie in order to support a truth!”

Rising unsteadily from his knees, the prisoner stood upright. By the
flicker of the dim lamp, he looked deadly pale, and his limbs tottered
as though shaken by an ague fit.

“What good will come of it?” he queried dully--“What good _can_ come of

“Great and lasting good will come of it!”--replied Del Fortis--“And it
will come quickly too;--in this way, for by fastening the accusation
of undue influence on Sergius Thord and his companions, you will obtain
Government restriction, if not total suppression of the Socialist
party. This is what we need! The Socialists are growing too strong--too
powerful in every country,--and we are on the brink of trouble through
their accursed and atheistical demonstrations. There will soon be
serious disturbances in the political arena--possibly an overthrow of
the Government, and a general election--and if Sergius Thord has the
chance of advancing himself as a deputy, he will be elected above all
others by an overpowering majority of the lower classes. _You_ can
prevent this!--you can prevent it by a single falsehood, which in
this case will be more pleasing to God than a thousand mischievous
veracities! Will you do it? Yes or No?”

The miserable lad looked helplessly around him, his weak frame trembling
as with palsy, and his uncertain fingers plucking at each other with
that involuntary movement of the muscles which indicates a disordered

“Will you, or will you not?” reiterated Del Fortis in a whisper that
hissed through the close precincts of the cell like the warning of a
snake about to sting--“Answer me!”

“Suppose I say I will not!”--stammered the poor wretch, with trembling
lips and appealing eyes--“Suppose I say I will not falsely accuse the
innocent, even for the sake of the Church----?”

“Then,” said Del Fortis slowly, rising and moving towards him;--“You had
best accept the only alternative--this!”

And he took from his breast pocket a small phial, full of clear,
colourless fluid, and showed it to him--“Take it!--and so make a quick
and quiet end! For, if you betray you connection with Us by so much as a
look,--a sign, or a syllable,--your mode of exit from this world may be
slower, less decent, and more painful!”

The miserable boy wrung his hands in agony, and such a cry of despair
broke from his lips as might have moved anyone less cruelly made
of spiritual adamant than the determined servant of the cruellest
‘religious’ Order known. The dull harsh clang of the prison bell struck
ten. The ‘priest’ had been an hour at the work of ‘confessing’ his
penitent,--and his patience was well-nigh exhausted.

“Swear you will attribute your intended assassination of the King,
to the influence of the Socialists!” he said with fierce
imperativeness--“Or with this--end all your difficulties to-night! It is
a gentle quietus!--and you ought to thank me for it! It is better than
solitary imprisonment for life! I will give you absolution for taking
it--provided I see you swallow it before I go!--and I will declare to
the Church that I left you shrived of your sins, and clean! Half an
hour after I leave you, you will sleep!--and wake--in Heaven! Make your

The last words had scarcely left his lips when the cell door was
suddenly thrown open, and a blaze of light poured in. Dazzled by the
strong and sudden glare, Del Fortis recoiled, and still holding the
phial of poison in his hand, stumbled back against the half-fainting
form of the poor crazed creature he had been terrorising, as a dozen
armed men silently entered the dungeon and ranged themselves in order,
six on one side and six on the other, while, in their midst one
man advanced, throwing back his dark military cloak as he came, and
displaying a mass of jewelled orders and insignia on his brilliant
uniform. Del Fortis uttered a fierce oath.

“The King!” he muttered, under his breath--“The King!”

“Ay, the King!” and a glance of supreme scorn swept over him from head
to foot, as the monarch’s clear dark grey eyes flashed with the glitter
of cold steel in the luminance of the torches which were carried by
attendants behind him; “Monsignor Del Fortis! You stand convicted of
the offence of unlawfully tampering with the conscience of a prisoner
of State! We have heard your every word--and have obtained a bird’s-eye
view of your policy!--so that,--if necessary,--we will Ourselves bear
witness against you! For the present,--you will be detained in this
fortress until our further pleasure!”

For one moment Del Fortis appeared to be literally contorted in every
muscle by his excess of rage. His features grew livid,--his eyes became
almost blood-red, and his teeth met on his drawn-in under-lip in a smile
of intense malignity. Baffled again!--and by this ‘king,’--the crowned
Dummy,--who had cast aside all former precedent, and instead of amusing
himself with card-playing and sensual intrigue, after the accepted
fashion of most modern sovereigns, had presumed to interfere, not only
with the Church, but with the Government, and now, as it seemed, had
acted as a spy on the very secrets of a so-called prison ‘confession’!
The utter impossibility of escaping from the net into which his own
words had betrayed him, stood plainly before his mind and half-choked
him with impotent fury,--till--all suddenly a thought crossed his
brain like a flash of fire, and with a strong effort, he recovered his
self-possession. Crossing his arms meekly on his breast, he bowed with
a silent and profound affectation of humility, as one who is bent under
the Royal displeasure, yet resigned to the Royal command,--then with a
rapid movement he lifted the poison-phial he had held concealed, to his
lips. His action was at once perceived. Two or three of the armed guards
threw themselves upon him and, after a brief struggle, wrenched the
flask from his hand, but not till he had succeeded in swallowing its
contents. Breathing quickly, yet smiling imperturbably, he stood upright
and calm.

“God’s will and mine--not your Majesty’s--be done!” he said. “In half an
hour--or less--Mother Church may add to her list of martyrs the name of
Andrea Del Fortis!--who died rather than sacrifice the dignity of his
calling to the tyranny of a king!”

A slight convulsion passed over his features,--he staggered backward.
The King, horror-stricken, signed to the prison warders standing by, to
support him. He muttered a word of thanks, as they caught him by both

“Take me where I can die quietly!” he said to them, “It will soon be
over! I shall give you little trouble!”

A cold, weak, trembling hand clasped his. It was the hand of the King’s
wretched assassin.

“Let me go with you!” he cried--“Let me die with you! You have been
cruel to me!--but you could not have meant it!--you were once kind!”

Del Fortis thrust him aside.

“Curse you!” he said thickly--“You are the cause--you--you are the
cause of this damned mischief! You!--God!--to think of it!--you devil’s
spawn!--you cur!”

His voice failed him, and he reeled heavily against the sturdy form of
one of the warders who held him--his lips were flecked with blood and
foam. Shocked and appalled, no less at his words, than at the fiendish
contortion of his features, the King drew near.

“Curse not a fellow-mortal, unhappy priest, in thine own passage towards
the final judgment!” he said in grave accents--“The blessing of this
poor misguided creature may help thee more than even a king’s free

And he extended his hand;--but with all the force of his now struggling
and convulsed body, Del Fortis beat it back, and raised himself by an
almost superhuman effort.

“Pardon! Who talks of pardon!” he cried, with a strong voice--“I do not
need it--I do not seek it! I have worked for the Church--I die for the
Church! For every one that says ‘The King!’--I say, ‘Rome’!”

He drew himself stiffly upright; his dark eyes glittered; his face,
though deadly pale, scarcely looked like the face of a dying man.

“I say, ‘Rome’!” he repeated, in a harsh whisper;--“Over all the
world!--over all the kingdoms of the world, and in defiance of all

He fell back,--not dead,--but insensible, in the stupor which precedes
death;--and was quickly borne out of the cell and carried to the prison
infirmary, there to receive medical aid, though that could only now
avail to soothe the approaching agonies of dissolution.

The King stood mute and motionless, lost in thought, a heavy darkness
brooding on his features. How strange the impulse that had led him to
be the mover and witness of this scene! By merest chance he had learned
that Del Fortis had applied for permission to ‘confess’ the would-be
destroyer of his life,--the life which Lotys had saved,--and acting--as
he had lately accustomed himself to do--on a sudden first idea or
instinct, he had summoned General Bernhoff to escort him to the prison,
and make the way easy for him to watch and overhear the interview
between priest and penitent,--himself unobserved. And from so slight
an incident had sprung a tragedy,--which might have results as yet

And while he yet mused upon this, General Bernhoff ventured respectfully
to approach him, and ask if it was now his pleasure to return to the
Palace? He roused himself,--and with a heavy sigh looked round on
the damp and dismal cell in which he stood, and at the crouching,
fear-stricken form of the semi-crazed and now violently weeping lad who
had attempted his life.

“Take that poor wretch away from here!” he said in hushed tones--“Give
him light, and warmth, and food! His evil desires spring from an unsound
brain;--I would have him dealt with mercifully! Guard him with all
necessary and firm restraint,--but do not brutalise his body more than
Rome has brutalised his soul!”

With that he turned away,--and his armed guard and attendants followed

That self-same midnight a requiem mass was sung in a certain chapel
before a silent gathering of black-robed stern-featured men, who prayed
“For the repose of the soul of our dear brother, Andrea Del Fortis,
servant of God, and martyr to the cause of truth and justice,--who
departed this life suddenly, in the performance of his sacred duties.”
 In the newspapers next day, the death of this same martyr and shining
light of the Church was recorded with much paid-for regret and
press-eulogy as ‘due to heart-failure’ and his body being claimed by
the Jesuit brotherhood, it was buried with great pomp and solemn
circumstance, several of the Catholic societies and congregations
following it to the grave. One week after the funeral,--for no other
ostensible cause whatever, save the offence of openly publishing his
official refusal of a grant of Crown lands to the Jesuits,--the Holy
Father, the Evangelist and Infallible Apostle enthroned in St. Peter’s
Chair, launched against the King who had dared to deny his wish
and oppose his will, the once terrible, but now futile ban of
excommunication; and the Royal son of the Church who had honestly
considered the good of his people more than the advancement of
priestcraft, stood outside the sacred pale,--barred by a so-called
‘Christian’ creed, from the mercy of God and the hope of Heaven.



For several days after the foregoing events, the editors and proprietors
of newspapers had more than enough ‘copy’ to keep them busy. The narrow
escape of the King from assassination, followed by his excommunication
from the Church, worked a curious effect on the minds of the populace,
who were somewhat bewildered and uncertain as to the possible
undercurrent of political meaning flowing beneath the conjunction
of these two events; and their feelings were intensified by the
announcement that the youth who had attempted the monarch’s life,--being
proved as suffering from hereditary brain disease,--had received a free
pardon, and was placed in a suitable home for the treatment of such
cases, under careful restraint and medical supervision. The tide of
popular opinion was now divided into two ways,--for, and against their
Sovereign-ruler. By far the larger half were against;--but the ban
pronounced upon him by the Pope had the effect of making even this
disaffected portion inclined to consider him more favourably,--seeing
that the Church’s punishment had fallen upon him, apparently because
he had done his duty, as a king, by granting the earnest petitions of
thousands of his subjects. David Jost, who had always made a point of
flattering Royalty in all its forms, now let his pen go with a complete
passion of toadyism, such as disgraced certain writers in Great Britain
during the reigns of the pernicious and vicious Georges,--and, seeing
the continued success of the rival journal which the King had personally
favoured, he trimmed his sails to the Court breeze, and dropped the
Church party as though it had burned his fingers. But he found various
channels on which he had previously relied for information, rigorously
closed to him. He had written many times to the Marquis de Lutera to ask
if the report of his having sent in his resignation was correct,--but
he had received no answer. He had called over and over again on Carl
Pérousse, hoping to obtain a few minutes’ conversation with him, but had
been denied an interview. Cogitating upon these changes,--which
imported much,--and wishing over and over again that he had been born an
Englishman, so that by the insidious flattery of Royalty he might obtain
a peerage,--as a certain Jew associate of his concerned in the same
business in London, had recently succeeded in doing,--he decided that
the wisest course to follow was to continue to ‘butter’ the King;--hence
he laid it on with a thick brush, wherever the grease of hypocrisy could
show off best. But work as he would, the ‘shares’ in his journalistic
concerns were steadily going down,--none of his numerous magazines or
‘half-penny rags,’ paid so well as they had hitherto done; while the one
paper which had lately been so prominently used by the King, continued
to prosper, the public having now learned to accept with avidity and
eagerness the brilliant articles which bore the signature of Pasquin
Leroy, as though they were somewhat of a new political gospel. The charm
of mystery intensified this new writer’s reputation. He was never seen
in ‘fashionable’ society,--no ‘fashionable’ person appeared to know
him,--and the general impression was that he resided altogether out of
the country. Only the members of the Revolutionary Committee were aware
that he was one of them, and recognised his work as part of the carrying
out of his sworn bond. He had grown to be almost the right hand of
Sergius Thord; wherever Thord sought supporters, he helped to obtain
them,--wherever the sick and needy, the desolate and distressed,
required aid, he somehow managed to secure it,--and next to Thord,--and
of course Lotys,--he was the idol of the Socialist centre. He never
spoke in public,--he seldom appeared at mass meetings; but his influence
was always felt; and he made himself and his work almost a necessity
to the Cause. The action of Lotys in saving the life of the King, had
created considerable discussion among the Revolutionists, not unmixed
with anger. When she first appeared among them after the incident, with
her arm in a sling, she was greeted with mingled cheers and groans, to
neither of which she paid the slightest attention. She took her seat
at the head of the Committee table as usual, with her customary
indifference and grace, and appeared deaf to the conflicting murmurs
around her,--till, as they grew louder and more complaining and
insistent, she raised her head and sent the lightning flash of her blue
eyes down the double line of men with a sweeping scorn that instantly
silenced them.

“What do you seek from me?” she demanded;--“Why do you clamour like
babes for something you cannot get,--my obedience?”

They looked shamefacedly at one another,--then at Sergius Thord and
Pasquin Leroy, who sat side by side at the lower end of the table. Max
Graub and Axel Regor, Leroy’s two comrades, were for once absent; but
they had sent suitable and satisfactory excuses. Thord’s brows were
heavy and lowering,--his eyes were wild and unrestful, and his attitude
and expression were such as caused Leroy to watch him with a little more
than his usual close attention. Seeing that his companions expected him
to answer Lotys before them all, he spoke with evident effort.

“You make a difficult demand upon us, Lotys,” he said slowly, “if
you wish us to explain the stormy nature of our greeting to you this
evening. You might surely have understood it without a question! For
we are compelled to blame you;--you who have never till now deserved
blame,--for the folly of your action in exposing your own life to save
that of the King! The one is valuable to us--the other is nothing to
us! Besides, you have trespassed against the Seventh Rule of our
Order--which solemnly pledges us to ‘destroy the present monarchy’!”

“Ah!” said Lotys, “And is it part of the oath that the monarchy should
be destroyed by murder without warning? You know it is not! You know
that there is nothing more dastardly, more cowardly, more utterly
loathsome and contemptible than to kill a man defenceless and unarmed!
We speak of a Monarchy, not a King;--not one single individual,--for if
he were killed, he has three sons to come after him. You have called me
the Soul of an Ideal--good! But I am not, and will not be the Soul of a

“Well spoken!” said Johan Zegota, looking up from some papers which he,
as secretary to the Society, had been docketing for the convenience of
Thord’s perusal; “But do not forget, brave Lotys, that the very next
meeting we hold is the annual one, in which we draw lots for the ‘happy
dispatch’ of traitors and false rulers; and that this year the name of
the King is among them!”

Lotys grew a shade paler, but she replied at once and dauntlessly.

“I do not forget it! But if lots are cast and traitors doomed,--it is
part of our procedure to give any such doomed man six months’ steady and
repeated warning, that he may have time to repent of his mistakes and
remedy them, so that haply he may still be spared;--and also that he
may take heed to arm himself, that he do not die defenceless. Had I not
saved the King, his death would have been set down to us, and our work!
Any one of you might have been accused of influencing the crazy boy who
attempted the deed,--and it is quite possible our meetings would have
been suppressed, and all our work fatally hindered,--if not entirely
stopped. Foolish children! You should thank me, not blame me!--but
you are blind children all, and cannot even see where you have been
faithfully served by your faithfullest friend!”

At these words a new light appeared to break on the minds of all
present--a light that was reflected in their eager and animated faces.
The knotted line of Thord’s brooding brows smoothed itself gradually

“Was that indeed your thought, Lotys,” he asked gently, almost
tenderly--“Was it for our sakes and for us alone, that you saved the

At that instant Pasquin Leroy turned his eyes, which till now had been
intent on watching Thord, to the other end of the table where the fine,
compact woman’s head, framed in its autumn-gold hair, was silhouetted
against the dark background of the wall behind her like a cameo. His
gaze met hers,--and a vague look of fear and pain flashed over her face,
as a faint touch of colour reddened her cheeks.

“I am not accustomed to repeat my words, Sergius Thord!” she answered
coldly; “I have said my say!”

Looks were exchanged, and there was a silence.

“If we doubt Lotys, we doubt the very spirit of ourselves!” said Pasquin
Leroy, his rich voice thrilling with unwonted emotion; “Sergius--and
comrades all! If you will hear me, and believe me,--you may take my word
for it, she has run the risk of death for Us!--and has saved Us from
false accusation, and Government interference! To wrong Lotys by so much
as a thought, is to wrong the truest woman God ever made!”

A wild shout answered him,--and moved by one impulse, the whole body of
men rose to their feet and drank “to the health and honour of Lotys!”
 with acclamation, many of them afterwards coming round to where she sat,
and kneeling to kiss her hand and ask her pardon for their momentary
doubt of her, in the excitement and enthusiasm of their souls. But Lotys
herself sat very silent,--almost as silent as Sergius Thord, who, though
he drank the toast, remained moody and abstracted.

When the company dispersed that night, each man present was carefully
reminded by the secretary, Johan Zegota, that unless the most serious
illness or misfortune intervened, every one must attend the next
meeting, as it was the yearly “Day of Fate.” Pasquin Leroy was told
that his two friends, Max Graub and Axel Regor must be with him, and he
willingly made himself surety for their attendance.

“But,” said he, as he gave the promise, “what is the Day of Fate?”

Johan Zegota pointed a thin finger delicately at his heart.

“The Day of Fate,” he said, “is the day of punishment,--or Decision
of Deaths. The names of several persons who have been found guilty of
treachery,--or who otherwise do injury to the people by the manner of
their life and conduct, are written down on slips of paper, which are
folded up and put in one receptacle, together with two or three hundred
blanks. They must be all men’s names,--we never make war on women.
Against some of these names,--a Red Cross is placed. Whosoever draws a
name, and finds the red cross against it, is bound to kill, within six
months after due warning, the man therein mentioned. If he fortunately
draws a blank then he is free for a year at least,--in spite of the
fatal sign,--from the unpleasant duty of despatching a fellow mortal
to the next world”--and here Zegota smiled quite cheerfully; “But if he
draws a Name,--and at the same time sees the red cross against it, then
he is bound by his oath to us to--_do his duty_!”

Leroy nodded, and appeared in no wise dismayed at the ominous suggestion

“How if our friend Zouche were to draw the fatal sign,” he said; “Would
he perform his allotted task, think you?”

“Most thoroughly!” replied Zegota, still smiling.

And with that, they separated.

Meanwhile, during the constant change and interchange of conflicting
rumours, some of which appeared to have foundation in fact, and others
which rapidly dispersed themselves as fiction, there could be no doubt
whatever of the growing unpopularity of the Government in power. Little
by little, drop by drop, there oozed out the secrets of the “Pérousse
Policy,” which was merely another name for Pérousse Self-aggrandisement.
Little by little, certain facts were at first whispered, and then more
loudly talked about, as to the nature of his financial speculations; and
it was soon openly stated that in the formation of some of the larger
companies, which were beginning to be run on the Gargantuan lines of the
“American Trust” idea, he had enormous shares,--though these “Trusts”
 had been frequently denounced as a means of enslaving the country,
and ruining certain trade-interests which he was in office to protect.
Accusations began to be guardedly thrown out against him in the Senate,
which he parried off with the cool and audacious skill of an expert
fencer, knowing that for the immediate moment at least, he had a
“majority” under his thumb. This majority was composed of persons who
had unfortunately become involved in his toils, and were, therefore,
naturally afraid of him;--yet it was evident, even to a superficial
student of events, that if once the innuendoes against his probity as a
statesman could be veraciously proved, this sense of intimidation
among his supporters would be removed, and like the props set against
a decaying house, their withdrawal would result in the ruin of the
building. It was pretty well known that the Marquis de Lutera had sent
in his resignation, but it was not at all certain whether the King was
of a mind to accept it.

Things were in abeyance,--political and social matters whirled giddily
towards chaos and confusion; and the numerous hurried Cabinet Councils
that were convened, boded some perturbation among the governing heads of
the State. From each and all of these meetings Ministers came away more
gloomy and despondent in manner,--some shook their heads sorrowfully and
spoke of “the King’s folly,”--others with considerable indignation flung
out sudden invectives against “the King’s insolence!”--and between the
two appellations, it was not easy to measure exactly the nature of the
conduct which had deserved them. For the King himself made no alteration
whatever in the outward character of his daily routine; he transacted
business in the morning, lunched, sometimes with his family, sometimes
with friends; drove in the afternoon, and showed himself punctiliously
at different theatres once or twice in the evenings of the week. The
only change more observant persons began to notice in his conduct was,
that he had drawn the line of demarcation very strongly between those
persons who by rank and worth, and nobility of life, merited his
attention, and those who by mere Push and Pocket, sought to win his
favour by that servile flattery and obsequiousness which are the
trademarks of the plebeian and vulgarian. Quietly but firmly, he dropped
the acquaintance of Jew sharks, lying in wait among the dirty pools of
speculation;--with ease and absoluteness he ‘let go’ one by one, certain
ladies of particularly elastic virtue, who fondly dreamed that they
‘managed’ him; and among these, to her infinite rage and despair, went
Madame Vantine, wife of Vantine the winegrower, a yellow-haired,
sensual “_femelle d’homme_,” whose extravagance in clothes, and reckless
indecency in conversation, combined with the King’s amused notice, and
the super-excellence of her husband’s wines, had for a brief period made
her ‘the rage’ among a certain set of exceedingly dissolute individuals.

In place of this kind of riff-raff of “_nouveaux riches_,” and
plutocrats, he began by degrees to form around himself a totally
different _entourage_,--though he was careful to make his various
changes slowly, so that they should not be too freely noticed and
commented upon. Great nobles, whether possessed of vast wealth and
estates, or altogether landless, were summoned to take their rightful
positions at the Court, where Vantine the wine-grower, and Jost the Jew,
no more obtained admittance;--men of science, letters and learning,
were sought out and honoured in various ways, their wives and daughters
receiving special marks of the Royal attention and favour; and round the
icy and statuesque beauty of the Queen soon gathered a brilliant bevy
of the real world of women, not the half-world of the ‘_femme galante_’
which having long held sway over the Crown Prince while Heir-Apparent
to the Throne, judged itself almost as a necessary, and even becoming,
appendage to his larger responsibility and state as King. These
excellent changes, beneficial and elevating to the social atmosphere
generally, could not of course be effected without considerable trouble
and heart-burning, in the directions where certain persons had received
their dismissal from such favour as they had previously held at Court.
The dismissed ones thirsted with a desire for vengeance, and took every
opportunity to inflame the passions of their own particular set against
the King, some of them openly declaring their readiness to side with the
Revolutionary party, and help it to power. But over the seething volcano
of discontent, the tide of fashion moved as usual, to all outward
appearances tranquil, and absorbed in trivialities of the latest
description; and though many talked, few dreamed that the mind of the
country, growing more compressed in thought, and inflammable in nature
every day, was rapidly becoming like a huge magazine of gunpowder
or dynamite, which at a spark would explode into that periodically
recurring fire-of-cleansing called Revolution.

Weighted with many thoughts, Sir Roger de Launay, whose taciturn and
easy temperament disinclined him for argument and kept him aloof from
discussion whenever he could avoid it, sat alone one evening in his own
room which adjoined the King’s library, writing a few special letters
for his Majesty which were of too friendly a nature to be dealt with in
the curt official manner of the private secretary. Once or twice he
had risen and drawn aside the dividing curtain between himself and the
King’s apartment to see if his Royal master had entered; but the room
remained empty, though it was long past eleven at night. He looked
every now and again at a small clock which ticked with a quick intrusive
cheerfulness on his desk,--then with a slight sigh resumed his work.
Letter after letter was written and sealed, and he was getting to the
end of his correspondence, when a tap at the door disturbed him, and his
sister Teresa, the Queen’s lady-in-waiting, entered.

“Is the King within?” she asked softly, moving almost on tiptoe as she

Sir Roger shook his head.

“He has been absent for some time,” he replied,--then after a
pause--“But what are you here for, Teresa? This is not your department!”
 and he took her hand kindly, noticing with some concern that there were
tears in her large dark eyes;--“Is anything wrong?”

“Nothing! That is,--nothing that I have any right to imagine--or to
guess. But--” and here she seemed a little confused--“I am commanded
by the Queen to summon you to her presence if,--if the King has not

He rose at once, looking perplexed. Teresa watched him anxiously, and
the expression of his face did not tend to reassure her.

“Roger,” she began timidly--“Would you not tell me,--might I not know
something of this mystery? Might I not be trusted?”

His languid eyes flashed with a sudden tenderness, as from his great and
stately height he looked down upon her pretty shrinking figure.

“Poor little Teresa!” he murmured playfully; “What is the matter? What
mystery are you talking about?”

“_You_ know--you must know!” answered Teresa, clasping her hands with
a gesture of entreaty; “There is something wrong, I am sure! Why is the
King so often absent--when all the household suppose him to be with
the Queen?--or in his private library there?” and she pointed to the
curtained-off Royal sanctum beyond.

“Why does the Queen herself give it out that he is with her, when he
is not? Why does he enter the Queen’s corridor sometimes quite late at
night by the private battlement-stair? Does it not seem very strange?
And since he was so nearly assassinated, his absences have been more
frequent than ever!”

Sir Roger pulled his long fair moustache meditatively between his

“When you were a little girl, Teresa, you must have been told the story
of Blue-beard;” he said; “Now take my advice!--and do not try to open
forbidden doors with your tiny golden key of curiosity!”

Teresa’s cheeks flushed a pretty rose pink.

“I am not curious;” she said, with an air of hauteur; “And indeed I am
far too loyal to say anything to anyone but to you, of what seems so
new and strange. Besides--the Queen has forbidden me--only it is just
because of the Queen--” here she stopped hesitatingly.

“Because of the Queen?” echoed Sir Roger; “Why?”

“She is unhappy!” said Teresa.

A smile,--somewhat bitter,--crossed De Launay’s face.

“Unhappy!” he repeated; “She! You mistake her, little girl! She does
not know what it is to be unhappy; nothing so weak and slight as
poor humanity affects the shining iceberg of her soul! For it _is_ an
iceberg, Teresa! The sun shines on it all day, fierce and hot, and never
moves or melts one glittering particle!”

He spoke with a concentrated passion of melancholy, and Teresa trembled
a little. She knew, as no one else did, the intense and despairing
love that had corroded her brother’s life ever since the Queen had been
brought home to the kingdom in all her exquisite maiden beauty, as bride
of the Heir-Apparent. Such love terrified her; she did not understand
it. She knew it was hopeless,--she felt it was disloyal,--and yet--it
was love!--and her brother was one of the truest and noblest of
gentlemen, devoted to the King’s service, and incapable of a mean or a
treacherous act. The position was quite incomprehensible to her, for she
was not thoughtful enough to analyse it,--and she had no experience of
the tender passion herself, to aid her in sympathetically considering
its many moods, sorrows, and inexplicable martyrdoms of mind-torture.
She contented herself now with repeating her former assertion.

“She is unhappy,--I am sure she is! You may call her an iceberg, if you
like, Roger!--men have such odd names for the women they are unable to
understand! But I have seen the iceberg shed tears very often lately!”

He looked at her, surprised.

“You have? Then we may expect the Pallas Athene to weep in marble? Well!
What did you say, Teresa? That her Majesty commanded my presence, if the
King had not returned?”

Teresa nodded assent. She was a little worried--her brother’s face
looked worn and pale, and he seemed moved beyond himself. She watched
him nervously as he pushed aside the dividing curtain, and looked into
the adjoining room. It was still vacant. The window stood open, and the
line of the sea, glittering in the moon, shone far off like a string
of jewels,--while the perfume of heliotrope and lilies came floating in
deliciously on the cool night-breeze. Satisfied that there was as yet no
sign of his Royal master, he turned back again,--and stooping his tall
head, kissed the charming girl, whose anxious and timid looks betrayed
her inward anxiety.

“I am ready, Teresa!” he said cheerfully; “Lead the way!”

She glided quickly on before him, along an inner passage leading to
the Queen’s apartments. Arriving at one particular door, she opened
it noiselessly, and with a warning finger laid on her lips, went in
softly,--Sir Roger following. The light of rose-shaded waxen tapers
which were reflected a dozen times in the silver-framed mirrors that
rose up to the ceiling from banks of flowers below, shed a fairy-like
radiance on the figure of the Queen, who, seated at a reading-table,
with one hand buried in the loosened waves of her hair, seemed absorbed
in the close study of a book. A straight white robe of thick creamy
satin flowed round her perfect form,--it was slightly open at the
throat, and softened with a drifting snow of lace, in which one or two
great jewels sparkled. As Sir Roger approached her with his usual formal
salute,--she turned swiftly round with an air of scarcely-concealed

“Where is the King?” she demanded.

Startled at the sudden peremptory manner of her question, Sir Roger
hesitated,--for the moment taken quite aback.

“Did I not tell you,” she went on, in the same imperious tone; “that I
made you responsible for his safety? Yet--though you were by his side
at the time--you could not shield him from attempted assassination! That
was left,--to a woman!”

Her breast heaved--her eyes flashed glorious lightning,--she looked
altogether transformed.

Had a thunder-bolt fallen through the painted ceiling at Sir Roger’s
feet, he could scarcely have been more astounded.

“Madam!” he stammered,--and then as the light of her eyes swept over
him, with a concentration of scorn and passion such as he had never seen
in them, he grew deadly pale.

“Who, and what is this woman?” she went on; “Why was it given to _her_
to save the King’s life, while you stood by? Why was she brought to the
Palace to be attended like some princess,--and then taken away secretly
before I could see her? Lotys is her name--I know it by heart!”

Like twinkling stars, the jewels in her lace scintillated with the quick
panting of her breath.

“The King is absent,”--she continued--“as usual;--but why are you not
with him, also as usual? Answer me!”

“Madam,” said De Launay, slowly; “For some few days past his Majesty has
absolutely forbidden me to attend him. To carry out _your_ commands I
should be forced to disobey _his_!”

She looked at him in a suppressed passion of enquiry.

“Then--is he alone?” she asked.

“Madam, I regret to say--he is quite alone!”

She rose, and paced once up and down the room, a superb figure of
mingled rage and pride, and humiliation, all comingled. Her eyes lighted
on Teresa, who had timorously withdrawn to a corner of the apartment
where she stood apparently busied in arranging some blossoms that had
fallen too far out of the crystal vase in which they were set.

“Teresa, you can leave us!” she said suddenly; “I will speak to Sir
Roger alone.”

With a nervous glance at her brother, who stood mute, his head slightly
bent, himself immovable as a figure of stone, Teresa curtseyed and

The Queen stood haughtily erect,--her white robes trailing around
her,--her exquisite face transfigured into a far grander beauty than had
ever been seen upon it, by some pent-up emotion which to Sir Roger was
well-nigh inexplicable. His heart beat thickly; he could almost hear its
heavy pulsations, and he kept his eyes lowered, lest she should read too
clearly in them the adoration of a lifetime.

“Sir Roger, speak plainly,” she said, “and speak the truth! Some little
time ago you said it was wrong for me to shut out from my sight, my
heart, my soul, the ugly side of Nature. I have remedied that fault! I
am looking at the ugly side of Nature now,--in myself! The rebellious
side--the passionate, fierce, betrayed side! I trusted you with the
safety of the King!”

“Madam, he _is_ safe!” said Sir Roger quietly;--“I can guarantee upon my
life that he is with those who will defend him far more thoroughly than
I could ever do! It is better to have a hundred protectors than one!”

“Oh, I know what you would imply!” she answered, impatiently; “I
understand, thus far, from what he himself has told me. But--there is
something else, something else! Something that portends far closer and
more intimate danger to him--”

She paused, apparently uncertain how to go on, and moving back to her
chair, sat down.

“If you are the man I have imagined you to be,” she continued, in
deliberate accents; “You perfectly know--you perfectly understand what I

Sir Roger raised his head and looked her bravely in the eyes.

“You would imply, Madam, that one, who like myself has been conscious of
a great passion for many years, should be able to recognise the signs of
it in others! Your Majesty is right! Once you expressed to me a wonder
as to what it was like ‘to feel.’ If that experience has come to you
now, I cannot but rejoice,--even while I grieve to think that you must
endure pain at the discovery. Yet it is only from the pierced earth
that the flowers can bloom,--and it may be you will have more mercy for
others, when you yourself are wounded!”

She was silent.

He drew a step nearer.

“You wish me to speak plainly?” he continued in a lower tone. “You give
me leave to express the lurking thought which is in your own heart?”

She gave a slight inclination of her head, and he went on.

“You assume danger for the King,--but not danger from the knife of the
assassin--or from the schemes of revolutionists! You judge him--as
I do--to be in the grasp of the greatest Force which exists in the
universe! The force against which there is, and can be no opposition!--a
force, which if it once binds even a king--makes of him a life-prisoner,
and turns mere ‘temporal power’ to nothingness; upsetting thrones,
destroying kingdoms, and beating down the very Church itself in the way
of its desires--and that force is--Love!”

She started violently,--then controlled herself.

“You waste your eloquence!” she said coldly; “What you speak of, I do
not understand. I do not believe in Love!”

“Or jealousy?”

The words sprang from his lips almost unconsciously, and like a
magnificent animal who has been suddenly stung, she sprang upright.

“How dare you!” she said in low, vibrating accents--“How dare you!”

Sir Roger’s breath came quick and fast,--but he was a strong man with a
strong will, and he maintained his attitude of quiet resolution.

“Madam!--My Queen!--forgive me!” he said; “But as your humblest
friend--your faithful servant!--let me have my say with you now--and
then--if you will--condemn me to perpetual silence! You despise Love,
you say! Yes--because you have only seen its poor imitations! The King’s
light gallantries,--his sins of body, which in many cases are not sins
of mind, have disgusted you with its very name! The King has loved--or
can love--so you think,--many, or any, women! Ah! No--no! Pardon me,
dearest Majesty! A man’s desire may lead him through devious ways both
vile and vicious,--but a man’s _love_ leads only one way to one woman!
Believe it! For even so, I have loved one woman these many years!--and
even so--I greatly fear--the King loves one woman now!”

Rigid as a figure of marble, she looked at him. He met her eyes calmly.

“Your Majesty asked me for the truth;” he said; “I have spoken it!”

Her lips parted in a cold, strained little smile.

“And--you--think,” she said slowly; “that I--I am what you call
‘jealous’ of this ‘one woman’? Had jealousy been in my nature, it would
have been provoked sufficiently often since my marriage!”

“Madam,” responded Sir Roger humbly; “If I may dare to say so to your
Majesty, it is not possible to a noble woman to be jealous of a man’s
mere humours of desire! But of Love--Love, the crown, the glory and
supremacy of life,--who, with a human heart and human blood, would not
be jealous? Who would not give kingdoms, thrones, ay, Heaven itself, if
it were not in itself Heaven, for its rapturous oblivion of sorrow, and
its full measure of joy!”

A dead silence fell between them, only disturbed by a small silver chime
in the distance, striking midnight.

The Queen again seated herself, and drew her book towards her. Then
raising her lovely unfathomable eyes, she looked at the tall stately
figure of the man before her with a slight touch of pity and pathos.

“Possibly you may be right,” she said slowly, “Possibly wrong! But I
do not doubt that you yourself personally ‘feel’ all that you
express,--and--that you are faithful!”

Here she extended her hand. Sir Roger bowed low over it, and kissed its
delicate smoothness with careful coldness. As she withdrew it again, she
said in a low dreamy, half questioning tone:

“The woman’s name is Lotys?”

Silently Sir Roger bent his head in assent.

“A man’s love leads only one way--to one woman! And in this particular
case that woman is--Lotys!” she said, with a little musing scorn, as of

She laid her hand on the bell which at a touch would summon back her
lady-in-waiting. “You have served me well, Sir Roger, albeit somewhat

He gave a low exclamation of regret.

“Roughly, Madam?”

A smile, sudden and sweet, which transfigured her usually passionless
features into an almost angelic loveliness, lit up her mouth and eyes.

“Yes--roughly! But no matter! I pardon you freely! Good-night!”

“Good-night to your Majesty!” And as he stepped backward from her
presence, she rang for Teresa, who at once entered.

“Our excommunication from the Church sits lightly upon us, Sir Roger,
does it not?” said the Queen then, almost playfully; “You must know that
we say our prayers as of old, and we still believe God hears us!”

“Surely, Madam,” he replied, “God must hear all prayers when they are
pure and honest!”

“Truly, I think so,” she responded, laying one hand tenderly on Teresa’s
hair, as the girl caressingly knelt beside her. “And--so, despite lack
of priestcraft,--we shall continue to pray,--in these uncertain and
dangerous times,--that all may be well for the country,--the people,
and--the King! Good-night!”

Again Sir Roger bowed, and this time altogether withdrew. He was strung
up to a pitch of intense excitement; the brief interview had been a most
trying one for him,--though there was a warm glow at his heart, assuring
him that he had done well. His suspicion that the King had admired, and
had sought out Lotys since the day she saved him from assassination,
had a very strong foundation in fact;--much stronger indeed than was
at present requisite to admit or to declare. But the whole matter was a
source of the greatest anxiety to De Launay, who, in his strong love
for his Royal master, found it often difficult to conceal his
apprehension,--and who was in a large measure relieved to feel that the
Queen had guessed something of it, and shared in his sentiments. He now
re-entered his room, and on doing so at once perceived that the King had
returned. But his Majesty was busy writing, and did not raise his head
from his papers, even when Sir Roger noiselessly entered and laid some
letters on the table. His complete abstraction in his work was a sign
that he did not wish to be disturbed or spoken to;--and Sir Roger,
taking the hint, retired again in silence.



Revolution! The flame-winged Fury that swoops down on a people like
a sudden visitation of God, with the movement of a storm, and the
devastation of a plague in one! Who shall say how, or where, the seed
is sown that springs so swiftly to such thick harvest! Who can trace its
beginnings--and who can predict its end! Tragic and terrible as its work
has always seemed to the miserable and muddle-headed human units, whose
faults and follies, whose dissoluteness and neglect of the highest
interests of the people, are chiefly to blame for the birth of this
Monster, it is nevertheless Divine Law, that, when any part of God’s
Universe-House is deliberately made foul by the dwellers in it, then
must it be cleansed,--and Revolution is the burning of the rubbish,--the
huge bonfire in which old abuses blazon their destruction to an amazed
and terror-stricken world. Yet there have been moments, or periods, in
history, when the threatening conflagration could have been stayed and
turned back from its course,--when the useless shedding of blood might
have been foregone--when the fierce passions of the people might have
been soothed and pacified, and when Justice might have been nobly done
and catastrophe averted, if there had been but one brave man,--one
only!--and that man a King! But in nearly all the convulsive throes of
nations, kings have proved themselves the weakest, tamest, most cowardly
and ineffectual of all the heads of the time--ready and willing enough
to sacrifice the lives of thousands of brave and devoted men to their
own cause, but never prepared to sacrifice themselves. Hence the cause
of the triumph of Democracy over effete Autocracy. Kings may not be
more than men,--but, certes, they should never be less. They should not
practise vices of which the very day-labourer whom they employ, would be
ashamed; nor should they flaunt their love of sensuality and intrigue in
the faces of their subjects as a ‘Royal example’ and distinctive ‘lead’
to vulgar licentiousness. The loftier the position, the greater the
responsibility;--and a monarch who voluntarily lowers the social
standard in his realm has lost more adherents than could possibly be
slain in his defence on the field of honour.

The King who plays his part as the hero of this narrative, was now fully
aware in his own mind and conscience of the thousands of opportunities
he had missed and wasted on his way to the Throne when Heir-Apparent.
Since the day of his ‘real coronation,’ when as he had expressed it
to his thoughts, he had ‘crowned himself with his own resolve,’ he had
studied men, manners, persons and events, to deep and serious purpose.
He had learned much, and discovered more. He had been, in a moral sense,
conquered by his son, Prince Humphry, who had proved a match for him in
his determined and honourable marriage for love, and love only,--though
born heir to all the conventions and hypocrisies of a Throne. He,--in
his day,--had lacked the courage and truth that this boy had shown.
And now, by certain means known best to himself, he had fathomed an
intricate network of deception and infamy among the governing heads
of the State. He had convinced himself in many ways of the unblushing
dishonesty and fraudulent self-service of Carl Pérousse. And--yet--with
all this information stored carefully up in his brain he, to all
appearances, took no advantage of it, and did nothing remarkable,--save
the one act which had been so much talked about--the refusal of land
in his possession to the Jesuits for a ‘religious’ (and political)
settlement. This independent course of procedure had resulted in his
excommunication from the Church. Of his ‘veto’ against an intended war,
scarcely anything was known. Only the Government were aware of the part
he had taken in that matter,--the Government and--the Money-market! But
the time was now ripe for further movement; and in the deep and almost
passionate interest he had recently learned to take in the affairs of
the actual People, he was in no humour for hesitation.

He had mapped out in his brain a certain plan of action, and he was
determined to go through with it. The more so, as now a new and close
interest had incorporated itself with his life,--an emotion so deep
and tender and overwhelming, that he scarcely dared to own it to
himself,--scarcely ventured to believe that he, deprived of true love
so long, should now be truly loved for himself, at last! But on this he
seldom allowed his mind to dwell,--except when quite alone,--in the deep
silences of night;--when he gave his soul up to the secret sweetness
which had begun to purify and ennoble his innermost nature,--when he saw
visioned before him a face,--warm with the passion of a love so grand
and unselfish that it drew near to a likeness of the Divine;--a love
that asked nothing, and gave everything, with the beneficent glory of
the sunlight bestowing splendour on the earth. His lonely moments,
which were few, were all the time he devoted to this brooding luxury of
meditation, and though his heart beat like a boy’s, and his eyes grew
dim with tenderness, as in fancy he dreamed of joy that might be, and
that yet still more surely might never be his,--his determined mind,
braced and bent to action, never faltered for a second in the new
conceptions he had formed of his duty to his people, who, as he now
considered, had been too long and too cruelly deceived.

Hence, something like an earthquake shock sent its tremor through the
country, when two things were suddenly announced without warning, as the
apparent results of the various Cabinet Councils held latterly so often,
and in such haste. The first was, that not only had his Majesty accepted
the resignation of the Marquis de Lutera as Premier, but that he
had decided--provided the selection was entirely agreeable to the
Government--to ask M. Carl Pérousse to form a Ministry in his place. The
second piece of intelligence, and one that was received with much more
favour than the first, by all classes and conditions of persons, was
that the Government had issued a decree for the complete expulsion of
the Jesuits from the country. By a certain named date, and within a
month, every Jesuit must have left the King’s dominions, or else
must take the risk of a year’s imprisonment followed by compulsory

Much uproar and discussion did this mandate excite among the clerical
parties of Europe,--much indignation did it breed within that Holy of
Holies situate at the Vatican,--which, having launched forth the ban of
excommunication, had no further thunderbolts left to throw at the
head of the recreant and abandoned Royalty whose ‘temporal power’ so
insolently superseded the spiritual. But the country breathed freely;
relieved from a dangerous and mischievous incubus. The educational
authorities gave fervent thanks to Heaven for sparing them from long
dreaded interference;--and when it was known that the excommunicated
King was the chief mover in this firm and liberating act, a silent wave
of passionate gratitude and approval ran through the multitudes of
the people, who would almost have assembled under the Palace walls
and offered a grand demonstration to their monarch, who had so boldly
carried the war into the enemy’s country and won the victory, had they
not been held back and checked from their purpose by the counter-feeling
of their disgust at his Majesty’s apparently forthcoming choice of Carl
Pérousse as Prime Minister.

Swayed this way and that, the people were divided more absolutely than
before into those two sections which always become very dangerous
when strongly marked out as distinctly separated,--the Classes and
the Masses. The comfortable wedge of Trade, which,--calling itself the
Middle-class,--had up to the present kept things firm, now split asunder
likewise,--the wealthy plutocrats clinging willy-nilly to the Classes,
to whom they did not legitimately belong; and the men of moderate income
throwing in their lot with the Masses, whose wrongs they sympathetically
felt somewhat resembled their own. For taxation had ground them down
to that particularly fine powder, which when applied to the rocks of
convention and usage, proves to be of a somewhat blasting quality. They
had paid as much on their earnings and their goods as they could or
would pay;--more indeed than they had any reasonable right to pay,--and
being sick of Government mismanagement, and also of what they still
regarded as the King’s indifference to their needs, they were prepared
to make a dash for liberty. The expulsion of the Jesuits they naturally
looked upon as a suitable retaliation on Rome for the excommunication of
the Royal Family; but beyond the intense relief it gave to all, it could
not be considered as affecting or materially altering the political
situation. So, like the dividing waves of the Red Sea, which rolled up
on either side to permit the passage of Moses and his followers--the
Classes and the Masses piled themselves up in opposite billowy sections
to allow Sergius Thord and the Revolutionary party to pass triumphantly
through their midst, adding thousands of adherents to their forces from
both sides;--while they were prepared to let the full weight of the
billows engulf the King, if, like Pharaoh and his chariots, he assumed
too much, or proceeded too far.

Professor von Glauben, seated in his own sanctum, and engaged in the
continuance of his “Political History of Hunger,” found many points in
the immediate situation which considerably interested him and moved him
to philosophical meditation.

“For,--take the feeling of the People as it now is,” he said to himself;
“It starts in Hunger! The taxes,--the uncomfortable visit of the
tax-gatherer! The price of the loaf,--concerning which the baker, or the
baker-ess, politely tells the customer that it is costly, because of the
Government tax on corn; then from the bread, it is marvellous how the
little clue winds upward through the spider-webs of Trade. The butcher’s
meat is dearer,--for says he--‘The tax on corn makes it necessary for me
to increase the price of meat.’ There is no logical reason given,--the
fact simply _is_! So that Hunger commences the warfare,--Hunger of Soul,
as well as Hunger of body. ‘Why starve my thought?’ says Soul. ‘Why tax
my bread?’ says Body. These tiresome questions continue to be asked,
and never answered,--but answers are clamoured for, and the people
complain--and then one fierce day the gods hear them grumble, and begin
to grumble back! Ach! Then it is thunder with a vengeance! Now in my own
so-beloved Fatherland, there has been this double grumbling for a
long time. And that the storm will burst, in spite of the
so-excellently-advertising Kaiser is evident! Hoch!--or _Ach_? Which
should it be to salute the Kaiser! I know not at all,--but I admit it is
clever of him to put up a special Hoarding-announcement for the private
view of the Almighty God, each time he addresses his troops! And he will
come in for a chapter of my history--for he also is Hungry!--he would
fain eat a little of the loaf of Britain!--yes!--he will fit into my
work very well for the instruction of the helpless unborn generations!”

He wrote on for a while, and then laid down his pen. His eyes grew
dreamy, and his rough features softened.

“What has become of the child, I wonder!” he mused; “Where has she
gone, the ‘Glory-of-the-Sea’! I would give all I have to look upon her
beautiful face again;--and Ronsard--he, poor soul--silent as a stone,
weakening day after day in the grasp of relentless age,--would die
happy,--if I would let him! But I do not intend to give him that
satisfaction. He shall live! As I often tell him, my science is of no
avail if I cannot keep a man going, till at least a hundred and odd
years are past. Barring accidents, or self-slaughter, of course!” Here
he became somewhat abstracted in his meditations. “The old fellow is
brave enough,--brave as a lion, and strong too for his years;--I have
seen him handle a pair of oars and take down a sail as I could never do
it,--and--he has accepted a strange and difficult situation heroically.
‘You must not be involved in any trouble by a knowledge of our
movements.’ So Prince Humphry said, when I saw him last,--though I did
not then understand the real drift of his meaning. And time goes on--and
time seems wearisome without any tidings of those we love!”

A tap at the door disturbed his mental soliloquy, and in answer to his
‘Come in,’ Sir Roger de Launay entered.

“Sorry to interrupt work, Professor!” he said briefly; “The King goes to
the Opera this evening, and desires you to be of the party.”

“Good! I shall obey with more pleasure than I have obeyed some of his
Majesty’s recent instructions!” And the Professor pushed aside his
manuscript to look through his spectacled eyes at the tall equerry’s
handsome face and figure. “You have a healthy appearance, Roger! Your
complexion speaks of an admirable digestion!”

De Launay smiled.

“You think so? Well! Your professional approval is worth having!” He
paused, then went on; “The party will be a pleasant one to-night. The
King is in high spirits.”

“Ah!” And Von Glauben’s monosyllable spoke volumes.

“Perhaps he ought not to be?” suggested Sir Roger with a slight touch of

“I do not know--I cannot tell! This is the way of it, Roger--see!” And
taking off his spectacles, he polished them with due solemnity. “If
I were a King, and ruled over a country swarming with dissatisfied
subjects,--if I had a fox for a Premier,--and was in love with a woman
who could not possibly be my wife,--I should not be in high spirits!”

“Nor I!” said De Launay curtly. “But the fox is not Premier yet. Do you
think he ever will be?”

Von Glauben shrugged his shoulders.

“He is bound to be, I presume. What else remains to do? Upset
everything? Government, deputies and all?”

“Just that!” responded Sir Roger. “The People will do it, if the King
does not.”

“The King will do anything he is asked to do--now--” said the Professor
significantly; “If the right person asks him!”

“You forget--she does not know--” Here checking himself abruptly, Sir
Roger walked to the window and looked out. It was a fair and peaceful
afternoon,--the ocean heaved placidly, covered with innumerable
wavelets, over which the seabirds flew and darted, their wings shining
like silver and diamonds as they dipped and circled up and down and
round the edges of the rocky coast. Far off, a faint rim of amethyst
under a slowly sailing white cloud could be recognized as the first line
of the shore of The Islands.

“Do you ever go and see the beautiful ‘Gloria’ girl now?” asked Sir
Roger suddenly. “The King has never mentioned her since the day we saw
her. And you have never explained the mystery of your acquaintance with
her,--nor whether it is true that Prince Humphry was specially attracted
by her. I shrewdly suspect----”


“That he has been sent off, out of harm’s way!”

“You are right,” said the Professor gravely; “That is exactly the
position! He has been sent off out of harm’s way!”

“I heard,” went on De Launay, “that the girl--or some girl of remarkable
beauty had been seen here--actually here in the Palace--before the
Prince left! And such an odd way he left, too--scuttling off in his
own yacht without--so far as I have ever heard--any farewells, or
preparation, or suitable companions to go with him. Still one hears such
extraordinary stories----”

“True!--one does!” agreed the Professor; “And after proper experience,
one hears without listening!”

De Launay looked at him curiously.

“The girl was certainly beautiful,” he proceeded meditatively; “And her
adopted father,--Réné Ronsard,--was not that his name?--was a quaint
old fellow. A republican, too!--fiery as a new Danton! Well! The King’s
curiosity is apparently satisfied on that score,--but”--here he began to
laugh--“I shall never forget your face, Von Glauben, when he caught you
on The Islands that day!--never! Like an overgrown boy, discovered with
his fingers in a jam-pot!”

“Thank you!” said the Professor imperturbably; “I can assure you that
the jam was excellent--and that I still remember its flavour!”

Sir Roger laughed again, but with great good-humour,--then he became
suddenly serious.

“The King goes out alone very often now?” he said.

“Very often,” assented the Professor.

“Are we right in allowing him to do so?”

“Allowing him! Who is to forbid him?”

“Is he safe, do you think?”

“Safer, it would seem, my friend, than when laying a foundation-stone,
with ourselves and all his suite around him!” responded the Professor.
“Besides, it is too late now to count the possible risks of the
adventure he has entered upon. He knows the position, and estimates
the cost at its correct value. He has made himself the ruler of his own
destiny; we are only his servants. Personally, I have no fear,--save of
one fatality.”

“And that?”

“Is what kills many strong men off in their middle-age,” said Von
Glauben; “A disease for which there is no possible cure at that
special time of life,--Love! The love of boys is like a taste for
green gooseberries,--it soon passes, leaving a disordered stomach and
a general disrelish for acid fruit ever afterwards;--the love of
the man-about-town between the twenties and thirties is the love of
self;--but the love of a Man, after the Self-and-Clothes Period has
passed, is the love of the full-grown human creature clamouring for its
mate,--its mate in Soul even more than in Body. There is no gainsaying
it--no checking it--no pacifying it; it is a most disastrous business,
provocative of all manner of evils,--and to a king who has always been
accustomed to have his own way, it means Victory or Death!”

Sir Roger gazed at him perplexedly,--his tone was so solemn and full of
earnest meaning.

“You, for example,” continued the Professor dictatorially, fixing his
keen piercing eyes full upon him; “You are a curious subject,--a very
curious subject! You live on a Dream; it is a good life--an
excellent life! It has the advantage, your Dream, of never becoming a
reality,--therefore you will always love,--and while you always love,
you will always keep young. Your lot is an exceedingly enviable one,
my friend! You need not frown,--I am old enough--and let us hope wise
enough--to guess your secret--to admire it from a purely philosophic
point of view--and to respect it!”

Sir Roger held his peace.

“But,” continued the Professor, “His Majesty is not the manner of man
who would consent to subsist, like you, on an idle phantasy. If he
loves--he must possess; it is the regal way!”

“He will never succeed in the direction _you_ mean!” said Sir Roger

“Never!” agreed Von Glauben with a profound shake of his head; “Strange
as it may seem, his case is quite as hopeless as yours!”

The door opened and closed abruptly,--and there followed silence. Von
Glauben looked up to find himself alone. He smiled tolerantly.

“Poor Roger!” he murmured; “He lives the life of a martyr by choice!
Some men do--and like it! They need not do it;--there is not the least
necessity in the world for their deliberately sticking a knife into
their hearts and walking about with it in a kind of idiot rapture. It
must hurt;--but they seem to enjoy it! Just as some women become nuns,
and flagellate themselves,--and then when they are writhing from their
own self-inflicted stripes, they dream they are the ‘brides of Christ,’
entirely forgetting the extremely irreligious fact that to have so many
‘brides’ the good Christ Himself might possibly be troubled, and would
surely occupy an inconvenient position, even in Heaven! Each man,--each
woman,--makes for himself or herself a little groove or pet sorrow, in
which to trot round and round and bemoan life; the secret of the whole
bemoaning being that he or she cannot have precisely the thing he or she
wants. That is all! Such a trifle! Church, State, Prayer and Power--it
can all be summed up in one line--‘I have not the thing I want--give it
to me!’”

He resumed his writing, and did not interrupt it again till it was time
to join the Royal party at the Opera.

That evening was one destined to be long remembered in the annals of the
kingdom. The beautiful Opera-house, a marvel of art and architecture,
was brilliantly full; all the fairest women and most distinguished men
occupying the boxes and stalls, while round and round, in a seemingly
never-ending galaxy of faces, and crowded in the tiers of balconies
above, a mixed audience had gathered, made up of various sections of the
populace which filled the space well up to the furthest galleries.
The attraction that had drawn so large an audience together was not
contained in the magnetic personality of either the King or Queen, for
those exalted individuals had only announced their intention of being
present just two hours before the curtain rose. Moreover, when their
Majesties entered the Royal box, accompanied by their two younger
sons, Rupert and Cyprian, and attended by their personal suite, their
appearance created very little sensation. The fact that it was the
first time the King had showed himself openly in public since his
excommunication from the Church, caused perhaps a couple of hundred
persons to raise their eyes inquisitively towards him in a kind of
half-morbid, half-languid curiosity, but in these days the sentiment
of Self is so strong, that it is only a minority of more thoughtful
individuals that ever trouble themselves seriously to consider the
annoyances or griefs which their fellow-mortals have to endure, often
alone and undefended.

The interest of the public on this particular occasion was centred in
the new Opera, which had only been given three times before, and in
which the little dancer, Pequita, played the part of a child-heroine.
The _libretto_ was the work of Paul Zouche, and the music by one of
the greatest violinists in the world, Louis Valdor. The plot was slight
enough;--yet, described in exquisite verse, and scattered throughout
with the daintiest songs and dances, it merited a considerably higher
place in musical records than such works as Meyerbeer’s “Dinorah,” or
Verdi’s “Rigoletto.” The thread on which the pearls of poesy and harmony
were strung, was the story of a wandering fiddler, who, accompanied by
his only child (the part played by Pequita), travels from city to
city earning a scant livelihood by his own playing and his daughter’s
dancing. Chance or fate leads them to throw in their fortunes with a
band of enthusiastic adventurers, who, headed by a young hare-brained
patriot, elected as their leader, have determined to storm the Vatican,
and demand the person of the Pope, that they may convey him to
America, there to convene an assemblage of all true Christians (or
‘New Christians’), and found a new and more Christ-like Church. Their
expedition fails,--as naturally so wild a scheme would be bound to
do,--but though they cannot succeed in capturing the Pope, they secure
a large following of the Italian populace, who join with them in singing
“The Song of Freedom,” which, with Paul Zouche’s words, and Valdor’s
music was the great _chef d’oevre_ of the Opera, rousing the listeners
to a pitch of something like frenzy. In this,--the last great
scene,--Pequita, dancing the ‘Dagger Dance,’ is supposed to infect the
people with that fervour which moves them to sing “The Freedom Chorus,”
 and the curtain comes down upon a brilliant stage, crowded with
enthusiasts and patriots, ready to fight and die for the glory of their
country. A love-interest is given to the piece by the passion of the
wandering fiddler-hero for a girl whose wealth places her above his
reach; and who in the end sacrifices all worldly advantage that she may
share his uncertain fortunes for love’s sake only.

Such was the story,--which, wedded to wild and passionate music, had
taken the public by storm on its first representation, not only on
account of its own merit, but because it gave their new favourite,
Pequita, many opportunities for showing off her exquisite grace as a
dancer. She, while preparing for the stage on this special night, had
been told that her wish was about to be granted--that she would now, at
last, really dance before the King;--and her heart beat high, and
the rich colour reddened in her soft childish face, as she donned her
scarlet skirts with more than her usual care, and knotted back her raven
curls with a great glowing damask rose, such as Spanish beauties
fasten behind tiny shell-like ears to emphasise the perfection of their
contour. Her thoughts flew to her kindest friend, Pasquin Leroy;--she
remembered the starry diamond in the ring he had wished to give her,
and how he had said, ‘Pequita, the first time you dance before the King,
this shall be yours!’

Where was he now, she wondered? She would have given anything to know
his place of abode, just to send him word that the King was to be at the
Opera that night, and ask him too, to come and see her in her triumph!
But she had no time to study ways and means for sending a message to
him, either through Sholto, her father, who always waited patiently
for her behind the scenes,--or through Paul Zouche, who, though as
_librettist_ of the opera, and as a poet of new and rising fame, was
treated by everyone with the greatest deference, still made a special
point of appearing in the shabbiest clothes, and lounging near the
side-wings like a sort of disgraced tramp all the time the performance
was in progress. Neither of them knew Leroy’s address;--they only met
him or saw him, when he himself chose to come among them. Besides,--the
sound of the National Hymn played by the orchestra, warned her that the
King had arrived; and that she must hold herself in readiness for her
part and think of nothing else.

The blaze of light in the Opera-house seemed more dazzling than usual
to the child, when her cue was called,--and as she sprang from the wings
and bounded towards the footlights, amid the loud roar of applause which
she was now accustomed to receive nightly, she raised her eyes towards
the Royal box, half-frightened, half-expectant. Her heart sank as she
saw that the King had partially turned away from the stage, and was
chatting carelessly with some person or persons behind him, and that
only a statuesque woman with a pale face, great eyes, and a crown
of diamonds, regarded her steadily with a high-bred air of chill
indifference, which was sufficient to turn the little warm beating heart
of her into stone. A handsome youth stared down upon her smiling,--his
eyes sleepily amorous,--it was the elder of the King’s two younger sons,
Prince Rupert. She hated his expression, beautiful though his features
were,--and hated herself for having to dance before him. Poor little
Pequita! It was her first experience of the insult a girl-child can be
made to feel through the look of a budding young profligate. On and on
she danced, giddily whirling;--the thoughts in her brain circling as
rapidly as her movements. Why would not the King look at her,--she
thought? Why was he so indifferent, even when his subjects sought most
to please him? At the end of the second act of the Opera a great fatigue
and lassitude overcame her, and a look of black resentment clouded her
pretty face.

“What ails you?” said Zouche, sauntering up to her as she stood behind
the wings; “You look like a small thunder-cloud!”

She gave an unmistakable gesture in the direction of that quarter of the
theatre where the Royal box was situated.

“I hate him!” she said, with a stamp of her little foot.

“The King? So do I!” And Zouche lit a cigarette and stuck it between
his lips by way of a stop-gap to a threatening violent expletive; “An
insolent, pampered, flattered fool! Yet you wanted to dance before
him; and now you’ve done it! The fact will serve you as a kind of
advertisement! That is all!”

“I do not want to be advertised through _his_ favour!” And Pequita
closed her tiny teeth on her scarlet under-lip in suppressed anger; “But
I have not danced before him yet! I _will_!”

Zouche looked at her sleepily. He was not drunk--though he had,--of
course,--been drinking.

“You have not danced before him? Then what have you been doing?”

“Walking!” answered Pequita, with a fierce little laugh, her colour
coming and going with all the quick wavering hue of irritated and
irritable Spanish blood, “I have, as they say ‘walked across the stage.’
I shall dance presently!”

He smiled, flicking a little ash off his cigarette.

“You are a curious child!” he said; “By and by you will want severely
keeping in order!”

Pequita laughed again, and shook back her long curls defiantly.

“Who is that cold woman with a face like a mask and the crown of
diamonds, that sits beside the King?”

It was Zouche’s turn to laugh now, and he did so with a keen sense of

“Upon my word!” he exclaimed; “A little experience of the world has
given you what newspaper men call ‘local colour.’ The ‘cold woman with
the face like a mask,’ is the Queen!”

Pequita made a little grimace of scorn.

“And who is the leering boy?”

“Prince Rupert.”

“The Crown Prince?”

“No. The Crown Prince is travelling abroad. He went away very
mysteriously,--no one knows where he has gone, or when he will come

“I am not surprised!” said Pequita; “With such a father and mother, and
such impudent-looking brothers, no wonder he wanted to get away!”

Zouche had another fit of laughter. He had never seen the little girl in
such a temper. He tried to assume gravity.

“Pequita, you are naughty! The flatteries of the great world are
spoiling you!”

“Bah!” said Pequita, with a contemptuous wave of her small brown hands.
“The flatteries of the great world! To what do they lead? To _that_!”
 and she made another eloquent sign towards the Royal box;--“I would
rather dance for you and Lotys, and Sergius Thord, and Pasquin Leroy,
than all the Kings of the world together! What I do here is for my
father’s sake--_you_ know that!”

“I know!” and Zouche smoked on, and shook his wild head
sentimentally,--murmuring in a _sotto-voce_:

  “What I do _here_, is for the need of gold,--
    What I do _there_, is for sweet love’s sake only;
  Love, ever timid _there_, doth _here_ grow bold,--
    And wins such triumph as but leaves me lonely!”

“Is that yours?” said Pequita with a sudden smile.

“Mine, or Shakespeare’s,” answered Zouche indolently; “Does it matter

Pequita laughed, and her cue being just then called, again she bounded
on to the stage; but this time she played her part, as the stock phrase
goes, ‘to the gallery,’ and did not once turn her eyes towards the place
where the King sat withdrawn into the shadow of his box, giving no sign
of applause. She, however, had caught sight of Sergius Thord and some of
her Revolutionary friends seated ‘among the gods,’ and that was enough
inspiration for her. Something,--a quite indefinable something,--a touch
of personal or spiritual magnetism, had been fired in her young soul;
and gradually as the Opera went on, her fellow-players became infected
by it. Some of them gave her odd, half-laughing glances now and
then,--being more or less amazed at the unusual vigour with which she
sang, in her pure childish soprano, the few strophes of recitative and
light song attached to her part;--the very prima-donna herself caught
fire,--and the distinguished tenor, who had travelled all the way from
Buda Pesth in haste, so that he might ‘create’ the chief rôle in the
work of his friend Valdor, began to feel that there was something
more in operatic singing than the mere inflation of the chest, and the
careful production of perfectly-rounded notes. Valdor himself played the
various violin solos which occurred frequently throughout the piece, and
never failed to evoke a storm of rapturous plaudits,--and many were
the half-indignant glances of the audience towards the Royal shrine of
draped satin, gilding, and electric light, wherein the King, like an
idol, sat,--undemonstrative, and apparently more bored than satisfied.
There was a general feeling that he ought to have shown,--by his
personal applause in public,--a proper appreciation of the many gifted
artists playing that evening, especially in the case of Louis Valdor,
the composer of the Opera itself. But he sat inert, only occasionally
glancing at the stage, and anon carelessly turning away from it to
converse with the members of his suite.

The piece went on;--and more and more the passion of Pequita’s pent-up
little soul communicated itself to the other performers,--till they
found themselves almost unconsciously obeying her ‘lead.’ At last came
the grand final act,--where, in accordance with the progress of the
story, the bold band of ‘New Christians’ are fought back from the gates
of the Vatican by the Papal Guard; and the Roman populace, roused to
enthusiasm, gather round their defeated ranks to defend and to aid them
with sympathy and support in their combat,--breaking forth all together
at last in the triumphant ‘Song of Freedom.’ Truly grand and majestic
was this same song,--pulsating with truth and passion,--breathing with
the very essence of liberty,--an echo of the heart and soul of strong
nations who struggle, even unto death, for the lawful rights of humanity
denied to them by the tyrants in place and power. As the superb roll and
swell of the glorious music poured through the crowded house, there was
an almost unconscious movement among the audience,--the people in the
gallery rose _en masse_, and at the close of the first verse, responded
to it by a mighty cheer, which reverberated through and through the
immense building like thunder. The occupants of the stalls and boxes
exchanged wondering and half-frightened looks,--then as the cheer
subsided, settled themselves again to listen, more or less spell-bound,
as the second verse began. Just before this had merged into its
accompanying splendid and soul-awakening chorus,--Pequita,--having
obtained the consent of the manager to execute her ‘Dagger Dance’ in the
middle of the song, instead of at the end,--suddenly sprang towards
the footlights in a pirouette of extravagant and exquisite
velocity--while,--checked by a sign from the conductor, the singers
ceased. Without music, in an absolute stillness as of death, the girl
swung herself to and fro, like a bell-flower in the breeze,--anon she
sprang and leaped like a scarlet flame--and again sank into a slow and
voluptuous motion, as of a fairy who dreamingly glides on tiptoe over
a field of flowers. Then, on a sudden, while the fascinated spectators
watched her breathlessly,--she seemed to wake from sleep,--and running
forward wildly, began to toss and whirl her scarlet skirts, her black
curls streaming, her dark eyes flashing with mingled defiance and scorn,
while drawing from her breast an unsheathed dagger, she flung it in the
air, caught it dexterously by the hilt again, twisted and turned it in
every possible way,--now beckoning, now repelling, now defending,--and
lastly threatening, with a passionate intensity of action that was
well-nigh irresistible.

Caught by the marvellous subtlety of her performance, quite one half
the audience now rose instinctively, all eyes being fixed on the strange
evolutions of this whirling, flying thing that seemed possessed by
the very devil of dancing! The King at last attracted, leaned slightly
forward from his box with a tolerant smile,--the Queen’s face was
as usual, immovable,--the Princes Rupert and Cyprian stared,
open-mouthed--while over the whole brilliant scene that remarkable
silence brooded, like the sultry pause before the breaking of a storm.
Triumphant, reckless, panting,--scarcely knowing what she did in her
excitement,--Pequita, suddenly running backward, with the lightness of
thistle-down flying before the wind, snatched the flag of the country
from a super standing by, and dancing forward again, waved it aloft,
till with a final abandonment of herself to the humour of the moment,
she sprang with a single bound towards the Royal box, and there--the
youthful incarnation of living, breathing passion, fury, patriotism, and
exultation in one,--dropped on one knee, the flag waving behind her, the
dagger pointed straight upward, full at the King!

A great roar,--like that of hundreds of famished wild beasts,--answered
this gesture; mingled with acclamations,--and when ‘The Song of Freedom’
again burst out from the singers on the stage, the whole mass of
people joined in the chorus with a kind of melodious madness. Shouts of
‘Pequita! Pequita!’ rang out on all sides,--then ‘Valdor! Valdor!’--and
then,--all suddenly,--a stentorian voice cried ‘Sergius Thord!’ At
that word the house became a chaos. Men in the gallery, seized by some
extraordinary impulse of doing they knew not what, and going they knew
not whither, leaped over each other’s shoulders, and began to climb down
by the pillars of the balconies to the stalls,--and a universal panic
and rush ensued. Terrified women hurried from the stalls and boxes in
spite of warning, and got mixed with the maddened crowd, a section of
which, pouring out of the Opera-house came incontinently upon the King’s
carriage in waiting,--and forthwith, without any reflection as to the
why or the wherefore, smashed it to atoms! Then, singing again ‘The Song
of Freedom,’--the people, pouring out from all the doors, formed into a
huge battalion, and started on a march of devastation and plunder.

Sergius Thord, grasping the situation from the first, rushed out of the
Opera-house in all haste, anxious to avert a catastrophe, but he was too
late to stop the frenzied crowd,--nothing could, or would have stopped
them at that particular moment. The fire had been too long smouldering
in their souls; and Pequita, like a little spark of fury, had set it in
a blaze. Through private ways and back streets, the King and Queen and
their sons, escorted by the alarmed manager, escaped from the Opera
unhurt,--and drove back unobserved to the Palace in a common fiacre--and
a vast multitude, waiting to see them come out by the usual doors, and
finding they did not come, vented their rage and disgust by tearing up
and smashing everything within their reach. Then, remembering in good
time, despite their excitement, that the manager of the Opera had done
nothing to deserve injury to himself or his property, they paused in
this work of destruction, and with the sudden caprice of children, gave
out ringing cheers for him and for Pequita;--while their uncertainty as
to what to do next was settled for them by Paul Zouche, who, mounting on
one of the pedestals which supported the columns of the entrance to
the Opera, where his wild head, glittering eyes and eager face looked
scarcely human, cried out:

“Damnation to Carl Pérousse! Why do you idle here, my friends, when you
might be busy! If you want Freedom, seek it from him who is to be your
new Prime Minister!”

A prolonged yell of savage approval answered him,--and like an angry
tide, the crowd swept on and on, gathering strength and force as it
went, and pouring through the streets with fierce clamour of shouting,
and clash of hastily collected weapons,--on and on to the great square,
in the centre of which stood the statue of the late King, and where the
house of Carl Pérousse occupied the most prominent position. And the
moon, coming suddenly out of a cloud, stared whitely down upon the
turbulent scene,--one too often witnessed in history, when, as Carlyle
says, ‘a Nation of men is suddenly hurled beyond the limits. For Nature,
as green as she looks, rests everywhere on dread foundations, and Pan,
to whose music the Nymphs dance, has a cry in him that can drive all men

In such distraction, and with such wild cry, the night of Pequita’s
long-looked-for dance before the King swept stormily on towards day.



News of this fresh and more violent disturbance among the people
brought the soldiery out in hot haste, who galloped down to the scene
of excitement, only to find the mounted police before them, headed by
General Bernhoff, who careering to and fro, cool and composed, forbade,
‘in the name of the King!’ any attempt to drive the mob out of the
square. Swaying uneasily round and round, the populace yelled and
groaned, and cheered and hissed; not knowing exactly whereunto they were
so wildly moved, but evidently waiting for a fresh ‘lead.’ The house of
Carl Pérousse, with its handsome exterior and stately marble portico,
offered itself as a tempting target to the more excitable roughs, and a
stone sent crashing through one of the windows would have certainly
been the signal for a general onslaught had not a man’s figure suddenly
climbed the pedestal which supported the statue of the late King in the
centre of the square, and lifted its living visible identity against the
frowning cold stone image of the dead. A cry went up from thousands
of throats--‘Sergius Thord!’--followed by an extraordinary clamour of
passionate plaudits, as the excited people recognised the grand head
and commanding aspect of their own particular Apostle of Liberty.
He,--stretching out his hands with a gesture of mingled authority and
entreaty,--pacified the raging sea of contradictory and conflicting
voices as if by magic,--and the horrid clamour died down into a dull
roar, which in its turn subsided into silence.

“Friends and brothers!” he cried; “Be calm! Be patient! What spirit
possesses you to thus destroy the chances of your own peace! What is
your aim? Justice? Ay--justice!--but how can you gain this by being
yourselves unjust? Will you remedy Wrong by injuring Right? Nay--this
must not be!--this cannot be, with _you_, whose passion for liberty is
noble,--whose love for truth is fixed and resolute,--and who seek no
more than is by human right your own! This sudden tempest, by which your
souls are tossed, is like an angry gust upon the sea, which wrecks great
vessels and drowns brave men;--be something more than the semblance of
the capricious wind which destroys without having reason to know why it
is bent on destruction! What are you here for? What would you do?”

A confused shouting answered him, in which cries of ‘Pérousse!’ and ‘The
King!’ were most prominent.

Sergius Thord looked round upon the seething mass below him, with a
strange sense of power and of triumph. He--even he--who could claim
to be no more than a poor Thinker, speaker and writer,--had won these
thousands to his command!--he had them here, willing to obey his
lightest word,--ready to follow his signal wheresoever it might take
them! His eyes glowed,--and the light of a great and earnest inspiration
illumined his strong features.

“You call for Carl Pérousse!” he said; “Yonder he dwells!--in the regal
house he has built for himself out of the sweating work of the poor!”
 A fierce yell from the populace and an attempt at a rush, was again
stopped by the speaker’s uplifted hand; “Wait, friends--wait! Think for
a moment of the result of action, before you act! Suppose you pulled
down that palace of fraud; suppose your strong hands righteously rent
it asunder;--suppose you set fire to its walls,--suppose you dragged out
the robber from his cave and slew him here, before sunrise--what then?
You would make of him a martyr!--and the hypocritical liars of
the present policy, who are involved with him in his financial
schemes,--would chant his praises in every newspaper, and laud his
virtues in every sermon! Nay, we should probably hear of a special
‘Memorial Service’ being held in our great Cathedral to sanctify the
corpse of the vilest stock-jobbing rascal that ever cheated the gallows!
Be wiser than that, my friends! Do not soil your hands either with the
body of Carl Pérousse or his ill-gotten dwelling. What we want for him
is Disgrace, not Death! Death is far too easy! An innocent child may
die; do not give to a false-hearted knave the simple exit common to the
brave and true! Disgrace!--disgrace! Shame, confusion, and the curse of
the country,--let these be your vengeance on the man who seeks to
clutch the reins of government!--the man who would drive the people like
whipped horses to their ruin!”

Another roar answered him, but this time it was mingled with murmurs of
dissatisfaction. Thord caught these up, and at once responded to them.

“I hear you, O People! I hear the clamour of your hearts and souls,
which is almost too strong to find expression in speech! You cannot
wait, you would tell me! You would have Pérousse dragged out here,--you
would tear him to pieces among you, if you could, and carry the
fragments of him to the King, to prove what a people can do with a
villain proposed to them as their Prime Minister!” Loud and ferocious
shouts answered these words, and he went on; “I know--I understand!--and
I sympathise! But even as I know you, you know me! Believe me now,
therefore, and hear my promise! I swear to you before you all”--and here
he extended both arms with a solemn and impressive gesture--“that this
month shall not be ended before the dishonesty of Carl Pérousse is
publicly and flagrantly known at every street corner,--in every town and
province of the land!--and before the most high God, I take my oath
to you, the People,--that he shall never be the governing head of the

A hurricane of applause answered him--a tempest of shouting that seemed
to surge and sway through the air and down to the earth again like the
beating of a powerful wind.

“Give me your trust, O People!” he cried, carried beyond himself with
the excitement and fervour of the scene--“Give me yourselves!”

Another roar replied to this adjuration. He stood triumphant;--the
people pressing up around him,--some weeping--some kneeling at his
feet--some climbing to kiss his hand. A few angry voices in the distance
cried out--‘The King!’--and he turned at once on the word.

“Who needs the King?” he demanded; “Who calls for him? What is he to
us? What has he ever been? Look back on his career!--see him
as Heir-Apparent to the Throne, wasting his time with dishonest
associates,--dealing with speculators and turf gamblers--involving
himself in debt--and pandering to vile women, who still hold him in
their grasp, and who in their turn rule the country by their caprice,
and drain the Royal coffers by their licentious extravagance! Now look
on him as the King,--a tool in the hands of financiers--a speculator
among speculators--steeped to the very eyes in the love of money,
and despising all men who do not bear the open blazon of wealth upon
them,--what has he done for the people? Nothing! What will he ever do
for the People? Nothing! Flattered by self-seekers--stuffed with eulogy
by a paid Press--his name made a byword and a mockery by the very women
with whom he consorts, what should we do with him in Our work! Let him
alone!--let him be! Let him eat and drink as suits his nature--and die
of the poison his own vices breed in his blood!--we want naught of him,
or his heirs! When the time ripens to its full fruition, we, the People,
can do without a Throne!”

At this, thousands of hats and handkerchiefs were tossed in the
air,--thousands of voices cheered to the very echo, and to relieve their
feelings still more completely the vast crowd once more took up ‘The
Song of Freedom’ and began singing it in unison steadily and grandly,
with all that resistless force and passion which springs from
deep-seated emotion in the soul. And while they were singing, Thord,
glancing rapidly about him, saw Johan Zegota close at hand, and to his
still greater satisfaction, Pasquin Leroy; and beckoning them both to
his side whispered his brief orders, which were at once comprehended.
The day was breaking; and in the purple east a line of crimson showed
where the sun would presently rise. A few minutes’ quick organisation
worked by Leroy and Zegota, and some few other of their comrades
sufficed to break up the mob into three sections, and in perfect order
they stood blocked for a moment, like the three wings of a great army.
Then once more Thord addressed them:

“People, you have heard my vow! If before the end of the month Carl
Pérousse is not ejected with contempt from office, I will ask my death
at your hands! A meeting will be convened next week at the People’s
Assembly Rooms where we shall make arrangements to approach the King. If
the King refuses to receive us, we shall find means to make him do so!
He _shall_ hear us! He is our paid servant, and he is bound to serve us
faithfully,--or the Throne shall be a thing of the past, to be looked
back upon with regret that we, a great and free people, ever tolerated
its vice and tyranny!”

Here he waited to let the storm of plaudits subside,--and then
continued: “Now part, all of you friends!--go your ways,--and keep order
for yourselves with vigilance! The soldiery are here, but they dare not
fire!--the police are here, but they dare not arrest! Give them no cause
even to say that it would have been well to do either! Let the spiritual
force of your determined minds,--fixed on a noble and just purpose,
over-rule mere temporal authority; let none have to blame you for murder
or violence,--take no life,--shed no blood; but let your conquest of the
Government,--your capture of the Throne,--be a glorious moral victory,
outweighing any battle gained only by brute force and rapine!”

He was answered by a strenuous cheer; and then the three great sections
of the multitude began to move. Out of the square in perfect order they
marched,--still singing; one huge mass of people being headed by Pasquin
Leroy, the other by Johan Zegota,--the third by Sergius Thord himself.
The soldiery, seeing there was no cause for interference, withdrew,--the
police dispersed, and once again an outbreak of popular disorder was
checked and for a time withheld.

But this second riot had startled the metropolis in good earnest.
Everyone became fully alive to the danger and increasing force of the
disaffected community,--and the Government,--lately grown inert and
dilatory in the transaction of business,--began seriously to consider
ways and means of pacifying general clamour and public dissatisfaction.
None of the members of the Cabinet were much surprised, therefore,
when they each received a summons from the King to wait upon him at the
Palace that day week,--‘to discuss affairs of national urgency,’ and the
general impression appeared to be, that though Carl Pérousse dismissed
the ‘street rowdyism,’ as he called it, with contempt, and spoke of
‘disloyal traitors opposed to the Government,’ he was nevertheless
riding for a fall; and that his chances of obtaining the Premiership
were scarcely so sure as they had hitherto seemed.

Meanwhile, Pequita, whose childish rage against the King for not
noticing her dancing or applauding it, had been the trifling cause of
the sudden volcanic eruption of the public mind, became more than ever
the idol of the hour. The night after the riot, the Opera-house was
crowded to suffocation,--and the stage was covered with flowers. Among
the countless bouquets offered to the triumphant little dancer, came
one which was not thrown from the audience, but was brought to her by a
messenger; it was a great cluster of scarlet carnations, and attached
to it was a tiny velvet case, containing the ring promised to her by
Pasquin Leroy, when, as he had said, she ‘should dance before the
King.’ A small card accompanied it on which was written ‘Pequita, from
Pasquin!’ Turning to Lotys, who, in the event of further turbulence, had
accompanied her to the Opera that night to take care of her, and who
sat grave, pale, and thoughtful, in one of the dressing-rooms near the
stage, the child eagerly showed her the jewel, exclaiming:

“See! He has kept his promise!”

And Lotys,--sighing even while she smiled,--answered:

“Yes, dear! He would not be the brave man he is, if he ever broke his

Whereat Pequita slipped the ring on her friend’s finger, kissing her and

“Take care of it for me! Wear it for me! For tonight, at least!”

Lotys assented,--though with a little reluctance,--and it was only while
Pequita was away from her, performing her part on the stage, that this
strange lonely woman bent her face down on the hand adorned with
the star-like gem and kissed it,--tears standing in her eyes as she

“My love--my love! If you only knew!”

And then the hot colour surged into her cheeks for sheer shame of
herself that she should love!--she--no longer in her youth,--and utterly
unconscious that there was, or could be any beauty in her deep lustrous
eyes, white skin, and dull gold hair. What had she to do with the
thoughts of passion?--she whose life was devoted to the sick and
needy,--and who had no right to think of anything else but how she
should aid them best, so long as that life should last! She knew well
enough that love of a great, jealous, and almost savage kind, was hers
if she chose to claim it--the love of Sergius Thord, who worshipped her
both as a woman and an Intellect; but she could not contemplate him as
her lover, having grown up to consider him more as a sort of paternal
guardian and friend. In fact, she had thoroughly resigned herself to
think of nothing but work for the remainder of her days, and to entirely
forego the love and tenderness which most women, even the poorest,
have the natural right to win; and now slowly,--almost unconsciously
to herself,--Love had stolen into her soul and taken possession of
it;--secret love for the man, who brave almost to recklessness, had
joined his fortunes in with Sergius Thord and his companions, and had
assisted the work of pushing matters so far forward, that the wrongs
done to the poor, and the numerous injustices of the law, which for
years had been accumulating, and had become part and parcel of the
governing system of the country, now stood a fair chance of being
remedied. She, with her quick woman’s instinct, had perceived that
where Sergius Thord, in his dreamy idealism, halted and was uncertain of
results, Pasquin Leroy stepped into the breach and won the victory. And,
like all courageous women, she admired a courageous man. Not that Thord
lacked courage,--he had plenty of the physical brute force known as
such,--but he had also a peculiar and uncomfortable quality of rousing
desires, both in himself and others which he had not the means of

Thus Lotys foresaw that, unless by some miraculous chance he obtained
both place and power, and a share in the ruling of things, there was
every possibility of a split in the Revolutionary Committee,--one half
being inclined to indulge in the criminal and wholly wasteful spirit
of Anarchy,--the other disposed to throw in its lot with the Liberal or
Radical side of politics. And she began to regard Pasquin Leroy, with
his even temperament, cool imperturbability, intellectual daring, and
literary ability, as the link which kept them all together, and gave
practical force to the often brooding and fantastic day-dreams of Thord,
who, though he made plans night and day for the greater freedom
and relief of the People from unjust coercion, had not succeeded in
obtaining as yet sufficient power to carry them into execution.

It was evident, however, to the whole country that the times were in a
ferment,--that the Government was growing more unpopular, and that Carl
Pérousse, the chief hinge on which Governmental force turned, was under
a cloud of the gravest suspicion. Meetings, more or less stormy
in character, were held everywhere by every shade of party in
politics,--and strong protests against his being nominated as Premier
were daily sent to the King. But to the surprise of many, and the
annoyance of most, his Majesty gave no sign. The newspapers burst into
rampant argument,--every little editor issued his Jovian ‘opinion’ on
the grave issues at stake;--David Jost kept his Hebraic colours flying
for the King,--judging that to flatter Royalty was always a safe course
for most Jews;--while in the rival journal, brilliant essays, leaders
and satires on the political situation, combined with point-blank
accusations against the Secretary of State, (which that distinguished
personage always failed to notice,) flew from the pen of the mysterious
writer, Pasquin Leroy, and occupied constant public attention.
Unlike the realm of Britain,--where the ‘golden youth’ enfeeble their
intellects by the perusal of such poor and slangy journalism that
they have lost both the art and wit to comprehend brilliant political
writing,--the inhabitants of this particular corner of the sunny south
were always ready to worship genius wherever even the smallest glimmer
of it appeared,--and the admiration Leroy’s writings excited was
fast becoming universal, though for the most part these writings were
extremely inflammable in nature, and rated both King and Court soundly.
But with the usual indifference of Royalty to ‘genius’ generally, the
King, when asked if he had taken note of certain articles dealing very
freely with both him and his social conduct, declared he had never heard
of them, or of their writer!

“I never,” he said with an odd smile, “pay any attention to clever
literature! I should be establishing a precedent which would be
inconvenient and disagreeable to my fellow sovereigns!”

The time went on; the King met his Ministers on the day he had summoned
them in private council,--and on the other hand Sergius Thord convened
a mighty mass-meeting for the purpose of carrying a resolution formed to
address his Majesty on the impending question of the Premiership. From
the King’s council, the heads of Government came away in haste, despair
and confusion; from the mass-meeting whole regiments marched through the
streets in triumphant and satisfied order.

After these events there came a night, when the sweet progress of calm
weather was broken up by cloud and storm,--and when heavy thunder boomed
over the city at long dull intervals, like the grinding and pounding of
artillery, without any rain to cool the heated ether, which was now and
again torn asunder by flashes of lightning. There was evidently a raging
tempest far out at sea, though the land only received suggestions of
this by the occasional rearing up of huge dark green billows which broke
against the tall cliffs, plumed with mimosa and myrtle, that guarded the
coast. Heavy scents of flowers were in the air--heavy heat weighed down
the atmosphere,--and there was a languor in the slow footsteps of the
men, who, singly, or in groups, arrived at the door of Sergius Thord’s
house to fulfil the dread compact binding upon them all in regard to the
‘Day of Fate.’ Pasquin Leroy and his two companions were among the
first to arrive, and to make their way up the dark steep stairs to the
Committee room, where, when they entered, they found the usual aspect of
things strangely altered. The table no longer occupied its position in
the middle of the floor; it was set on a raised platform entirely draped
with black. Large candelabra, holding six lights each, occupied either
end,--and in the centre one solitary red lamp was placed, shedding its
flare over a large bronze vessel shaped like a funeral urn. The rest
of the room was in darkness,--and with the gathering groups of men, who
moved silently and spoke in whispers, it presented a solemn and eerie

“Ah! You have now arrived,” said Max Graub, in a cautious sotto voce to
Leroy, “at the end of your adventures! Behold the number Thirteen! Six
lights at one end, six lights at the other,--that is twelve; and in the
centre the Thirteenth--the red Eye looking into the sepulchral urn! It
is all up with us!”

Leroy said nothing,--but the face of the man called Axel Regor grew
suddenly very pale. He drew Leroy a little aside.

“This is no laughing matter!” he said very earnestly; “Let me stand near
you--let me keep close at your side all the evening!”

Leroy smiled and pressed his hand.

“My dear fellow!” he said; “Have no fear! Or if you have fear, do not
show it! You stand in precisely the same danger as myself, or as any of
us; you may draw the fatal Signal!--but if you do, I promise you I will
volunteer myself in your place.”

“_You_!” said Regor with a volume of meaning in the utterance; “You
would stand in my place?”

“Why, of course!” replied Leroy cheerily; “Life is not such a wonderful
business, that death for a friend’s sake is not better!”

Regor looked at him, and a speechless devotion filled and softened his
eyes. Certain words spoken to him by a woman he loved echoed through his
brain, and he murmured:

“Nay, by the God above us, if death is in question, _I_ will die rather
than let _you_ die!”

“That will depend on my humour!” said Leroy, still smiling; “You will
require my permission to enter into combat with the last enemy before he
offers challenge!”

Max Graub here approached them with a warning finger laid on his lips.

“Hush--sh--sh!” he said; “Think as much as you like,--but talk as little
as you can! I assure you this is a most uncomfortable business!--and
here comes the axis of the revolving wheel!”

They made way,--as did all the men grouped together in the room,--for
the entrance of Sergius Thord and Lotys. These two came in together; and
with a silent salute which included the whole Committee, ascended the
raised platform. Lotys was deadly pale; and the white dress she wore,
with its scarlet sash, accentuated that paleness. She appeared for once
to move under the dominance of some greater will than her own,--she
moved slowly, and her head was bent,--and even to Pasquin Leroy as she
passed him, her faint smile of recognition was both sad and cold.
Once on the platform, she seated herself at the lower end of the
funereally-draped table; and leaning her head on one hand, seemed lost
in thought. Thord took his place at the opposite end,--whereupon Johan
Zegota moving stealthily to the door, closed it, locked it, and put the
key in his pocket. Then he in turn mounted the platform, and began in a
clear but low voice to call the roll of the members of the Committee.

Each man answered to his name in the same guarded tone; all without
a single exception were present;--and Zegota, having completed the
catalogue, turned to Thord for further instructions. The rest of the
company then seated themselves,--finding their chairs with some little
difficulty in the semi-darkness. When the noise of their shuffling feet
had ceased, Thord rose and advanced to the front of the platform.

“Friends,” he said slowly; “You are here to-night to determine by
the hand of Chance, or Destiny, which of certain traitors among many
thousands, shall meet with the punishment his treachery deserves. In
the list of those who are to-night marked down for death is Carl
Pérousse;--happy the man that draws _that_ name and is able to serve as
the liberator to his country! Another, is the Jew, David Jost,--because
it has been chiefly at his persuasion that the heads of the Government
have been tempted to gamble for their own personal motives with the
secrets of State policy. Another, is the Marquis de Lutera;--who though
he has, possibly through fear, resigned office, is to blame for having
made his own private fortune,--as well as the fortunes of all the
members of his family,--out of the injuries and taxations inflicted on
the People. To his suggestion we owe the cruel price of bread,--the tax
on corn, a necessity of life;--on his policy rests the responsibility
of opening our Trades to such an over-excess of Foreign Competition and
Supply that our native work and our native interests are paralysed by
the strain. To him,--as well as to Carl Pérousse, we owe the ridiculous
urbanities of such extreme foreign diplomacies as expose our secret
forces of war to our rivals;--from him emanates the courteous and almost
servile attention with which we foolishly exhibit our naval and military
defences to our enemies. We assume that a Minister who graciously
permits a foreign arsenal to copy our guns--a foreign dockyard to copy
and to emulate our ships,--is a traitor to the prosperity and continued
power of the country. Two of the great leaders in Trade are named on the
Death-list;--one because, in spite of many warnings, he employs foreign
workmen only; the other, because he ‘sweats’ native labour. The removal
of all these persons will be a boon to the country--the clearing of a
plague of rats from the national House and Exchequer! Lastly, the
King is named;--because,--though he has rescued the system of National
Education from Jesuit interference and threatening priestly dominance,
he has turned a deaf ear to other equally pressing petitions of his
People,--and also because he does nothing to either influence or guide
society to its best and highest ends. Under his rule, learning is set at
naught--Art, Science and Literature, the three saving graces which
make for the peace, prosperity and fraternity of nations,--are rendered
valueless, because no example is set which would give them their
rightful prominence,--and wine, cards and women are substituted,--the
three evil fates between which the honour of the Throne is brought into
contempt. We should know and remember that Lotys, when she lately
saved the life of the King, did,--as she herself can tell you,--plead
personally with him to save the people from the despotic government of
Carl Pérousse and his pernicious ‘majority’;--but though she rescued the
monarch at the risk of her own much more valuable existence--and equally
at the risk of being misunderstood and condemned by this very Society to
which her heart and soul are pledged,--he refused to even consider her
entreaty. Therefore, we may be satisfied that he has been warned;--but
it would seem that the warning is of no avail;--and whosoever to-night
draws the name of the King must be swift and sure in his business!”

There was a deep pause. Suddenly Max Graub rose, his bulky form and
great height giving him an almost Titanesque appearance in the gloom of
the chamber. Raising one hand as a signal, he asked permission to speak,
which was instantly accorded.

“To my chief, Sergius Thord, and my comrades,” he said with a slight
military salutation; “I wish to explain what perhaps they have already
discovered,--that I am a poor and uncouth German,--not altogether
conversant with your language,--and considerably bewildered by your
social ethics;--so that if I do not entirely understand things as I
should, you will perhaps pardon my ignorance, which includes other
drawbacks of my disposition. But when death is in question, I am always
much interested,--having spent all my days in trying to find out
ways and means of combating man’s chief enemy on his own ground.
Because,--though I fully admit the usefulness of death as a cleanser and
solvent; and as a means of clearing off hopelessly-useless persons, I
am not at all sure that it is an advisable way to get rid of the healthy
and the promising. I speak as a physician merely,--with an eye to what
is called the ‘stock’ of the human race; and what I now want to know is
this: On what scientific, ethical, or religious grounds, do you wish
to get rid of the King? Science, ethics, and religion being only in the
present day so many forms of carefully ministering to one’s Self,
and one’s own particular humour, you will understand that I mean,--as
concerns the ‘happy dispatch’ of this same King,--what good will it do
to you?”

There was a silence. No one vouchsafed any explanation. After a
considerable pause, Thord replied.

“It will do us no good. But it will show the country that we exist to
revenge injustice!”

“But--is the King unjust?”

“Can you ask it?” replied Thord with a certain grave patience. “During
your association with us, have you not learned?--and do you not know?”

“Sit down, Graub!” interrupted Pasquin Leroy suddenly; “I know the
King’s ways well enough,--and I can swear upon my honour that he
deserves the worst that can be done to him!”

A murmur of sullen approval ran through the room, and somewhat lowering
glances were cast at the audacious Graub, who had, by his few words,
created the very undesirable impression that he wished, in some remote
way, to interfere with the Committee solemnities in progress, and to
defend the King from attack. He sat down again looking more or less
crushed and baffled,--and Thord went on.

“We have little time to spend together to-night, and none to waste. Let
each man come forward now, and take his chance,--remembering,--lest his
courage fail him,--that whatever work is given him to do, this Committee
are sworn to stand by him as their associate and comrade!--to defend
him,--even at the risk of their own lives!--and to share completely in
the consequences of whatever act he may be called upon to perform in the
faithful following of his duty! Friends, repeat with me all together,
the Vow of Fealty!”

At once every man rose,--and all lifting their right hands on high
repeated in steady tones the following formula after their Chief,--

“We swear in the name of God, and by the eternal glory of Freedom! That
whosoever among us this night shall draw the Red Cross Signal which
destines him to take from life, a life proved unworthy,--shall be to us
a sacred person, and an object of defence and continued protection! We
guarantee to shield him at all times and under all circumstances;--we
promise to fight for him against the utmost combined power of the
law;--we are prepared to maintain an inviolate silence concerning
his movements, his actions and their ultimate result,--even to the
sufferance of imprisonment, punishment and death for his sake! And may
the curse of the Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth be upon us and our
children, and our children’s children, if we break this vow. Amen!”

The stern and impressive intensity with which these words were spoken
sent a slight tremor along even such steel-like nerves as those of
Pasquin Leroy, though he repeated the formula after Sergius Thord
with the attentive care of a child saying a lesson. At its conclusion,
however, a sudden thought flashed through his brain which brought a
wonderful smile to his lips, and a rare light in his eyes, and touching
the arm of Axel Regor, he whispered.

“Could anything be more protective to me,--_as you know me_,--than this
Vow of Fealty? By my faith, a right loyal vow!”

The man he so questioned looked at him doubtfully. He did not
understand. He himself had repeated the vow mechanically and without
thought, being occupied in serious and uncomfortable meditation as to
what possible dangerous lengths the evening’s business might be carried.
And, accustomed as he now was to the varying and brilliant moods of one
whom he had proved to be of most varying and brilliant intelligence,
his brain was not quick enough to follow the lightning-like speed of the
chain of ideas,--all moving in a perfectly organised plan,--conceived
by this daring, scheming and original brain, which had been so lately
roused to its own powers and set in thinking, working order. He
therefore merely expressed his mind’s bewilderment by a warning glance
mingled with alarm, which caused Leroy to smile again,--but the scene
which was being enacted, now demanded their closest attention, and they
had no further opportunity of exchanging so much as a word.

The Vow of Fealty being duly sworn, Sergius Thord stood aside, and made
way for Lotys, who, rising from her seat, lifted the funeral urn from
the table and held it out towards the men. She made a strange and weird
picture standing thus,--her white arms gleaming like sculptured ivory
against the dark bronze of the metal vase,--her gold hair touched with a
blood-like hue from the reflection of the red lamp behind her,--and her
face,--infinitely mournful and resigned,--wearing the expression of one
who, forced to behold evil, has no active part in it. As she took up her
position in the front of the platform, Thord again spoke.

“Let each man now advance and draw his fate! Whosoever receives a blank
is exempt for another year;--whosoever draws the name of a victim must
be prepared to do his duty!”

This order was at once obeyed. Each man rose separately and approaching
Lotys, saluted her first, and then drew a folded paper from the vessel
she held. But they moved forward reluctantly,--and most of their faces
were very pale. When Pasquin Leroy’s turn came to draw, he raised his
eyes to the woman’s countenance above him and marvelled at its cold
fixity. She seemed scarcely to be herself,--and it was plainly evident
that the part she was forced to play in the evening’s drama was a most
reluctant one.

At last all the lots were taken, and Johan Zegota lit up the gas-burners
in the centre of the room. A sigh of relief came from the lips of many
of the men who, on opening their papers found a blank instead of a name.
But Leroy, unfolding his, sat in dumb amazement,--feeling, and not for
the first time either, that surely God, or some special Providence, is
always on the side of a strong man’s just aim, fulfilling it to entire
accomplishment. For to him was assigned the Red Cross, marked with the
name of ‘The King!’ The words of Sergius Thord, uttered that very night,
rushed back on his mind;--“Whosoever draws the name of the King must be
swift and sure in his business!”

His heart beat high; he occupied at that moment a position no man in all
the world had ever occupied before;--he was the centre of a drama such
as had never before been enacted,--he had the greatest move to play
on the chess-board of life that could possibly be desired;--and the
greatest chance to prove himself the Man he was, that had ever
been given to one of his quality. His brain whirled,--his pulses
throbbed,--his eyes rested on Lotys with a passionate longing; something
of the god-like as well as the heroic warmed his soul,--for Danger and
Death stood as intimately close to him as Safety and Victory! What a
strange, what a marvellous card he held in the game of life!--and yet
one false move might mean ruin and annihilation! As in a dream he saw
the members of the Committee go up, one by one, to Sergius Thord, who,
as each laid their open papers before him, declared their contents.
When Paul Zouche’s paper was declared he was found to have drawn Carl
Pérousse, whereat he smiled grimly; and retired to his seat, walking
rather unsteadily. Max Graub had drawn a blank,--so had Axel Regor,--so
had Louis Valdor and many others.

At last it came to Leroy’s turn, and as he walked up to the platform and
ascended it, there was a look on his face which attracted the instant
attention of all present. His eyes were singularly bright,--his lithe
handsome figure seemed taller and more erect,--he bore himself with
a proud, even grand air,--and Lotys, moved at last from her chill and
melancholy apathy, gazed at him as he approached, with eyes in which a
profound sadness was mingled with the dark tenderness of many passionate
thoughts and dreams. He laid down his paper before Thord, who, taking it
up read aloud:

“Our friend and comrade, Pasquin Leroy, has received the Red Cross

Then pausing before uttering his next words he raised his voice a
little, so that he might be heard by everyone in the room, and added

“To Pasquin Leroy, Fate gives--the King!”

A low murmur of deep applause ran through the room. Max Graub and Axel
Regor sprang up with a kind of smothered cry, but Leroy stood immovable.
Instead of returning to his seat as the others had done, he remained
standing on the platform in front of the Committee table, between Lotys
and Sergius Thord. A strange smile rested on his lips,--his attitude was
inexplicable. Surveying all the men’s faces which were grouped before
him in a kind of chiaro-oscuro, he studied them for a moment, and then
turned his head towards Thord.

“Sergius,--so far, I have served you well! Destiny has now chosen me out
for even a greater service! May I speak a few words?”

Thord assented,--but a sudden sense of inquietude stirred in him as he
saw that Lotys had half risen, that her lips quivered, and that great
tears stood in her eyes.

“She grieves!” he thought, sullenly, in his strange and confused way of
balancing justice and injustice--“She grieves that the worthless life of
the King she saved, is now to be taken by a righteous hand!”

Meanwhile Leroy faced the assembly.

“Comrades!” he said; “This is the first time I have assisted in the
work of your Day of Fate,--the first time I have recognised how
entirely Providence moves _with_ you and _for_ you in the ruling of your
destinies! And because it is the first time, our Chief permits me to
address you with the same fraternal liberty which was allowed to me on
the night I became enrolled among you, as one of you! Since then, I have
done my best to serve you--” here he was interrupted by applause--“and
so far as it has been humanly possible, I have endeavoured to carry out
your views and desires because,--though many of them spring from
pure idealism, and are, I fear, impossible of realisation in this
world,--they contain the seed of much useful and necessary reform in
many institutions of this country. I have--as I promised you--shaken the
stronghold of Carl Pérousse;”--again the applause broke out, none
the less earnest because it was restrained. “I have destroyed the
press-power and prestige of that knavish Jew-speculator in false news,
David Jost; and wherever the wishes of this Society could be fulfilled,
I have honestly sought to fulfil them. On this night, of all nights in
the year, I should like to feel, and to know, that you acknowledge me as
your true comrade and faithful friend!”

At this, the whole of the company gave vent to an outburst of cheering.

“Do you doubt our love, that you ask of it?--or our gratitude that you
seek to have it expressed?” said Thord, leaning forward to clasp his
hand;--“Surely you know you have given new life and impetus to our
work!--and that you have gained fresh triumph for our Cause!”

Leroy smiled,--but though returning his grasp cordially, he said nothing
to him in person by way of reply, evidently preferring rather to address
the whole community than one, even though that one was his acknowledged

“I thank you all!” he said in response to the acclamations around him.
“I thank you for so heartily acknowledging me as your fellow-worker!
I thank you for giving me your confidence and employing my services!
Tonight--the most important night of my destiny--Fate has determined
that I shall perform the greatest task of all you have ever allotted to
me; and that with swiftness and sureness in the business I shall kill
the King! He is my marked victim! I am his chosen assassin!” Here
interrupting himself with a bright smile, he said: “Will someone
restrain my two friends, Max Graub and Axel Regor from springing out of
their seats? They are both extremely envious of the task which has been
allotted to me!--both are disappointed that it did not fall to them
to perform,--but I am not in the humour for arguing so nice a point of
honour with them just now!”

A laugh went round the company, and the two delinquents thus called to
order, and who had really been seeking in quite a wild and aimless way,
to scramble out of their seats and make for the platform, resumed their
places with heads bent low, lest those around them should see the deadly
pallor of their countenances. Leroy resumed.

“I rejoice, friends and comrades, that I have been elected to the high
task of removing from the Throne one who has long been unworthy
of it!--one who has wasted his opportunities both in youth and
middle-age,--and who, by his own fault in a great measure, has lost much
of the love and confidence of his people! I am glad and proud to be
the one chosen to put an end to the career of a monarch whose vices and
follies--which might have suited a gambler and profligate--are entirely
unbecoming to the Sovereign Ruler of a great Realm! I shall have no
fear in carrying out my appointed duty to the letter! I here declare my
acceptance of whatever punishment may be visited on one who removes from
life a King who brings kingliness into contempt! And,--as our Chief,
Sergius Thord, suggested to-night,--I shall be swift and sure in the
business!--there shall be no delay!”

Here, as he spoke he drew a pistol from his pocket and turned the muzzle
towards himself,--at which unexpected action there was a hasty movement
of surprise, terror and confusion among the company.

“Gentlemen all! Friends! Brothers!--as you have been,--and are to
me,--by the binding of our compact in the name of Lotys! It is the
determination of destiny,--as it is your desire,--that I should kill
the King! You have resolved upon it. You are sure that his death will
benefit the country. You have decided not to take into consideration any
of his possible good qualities, or to pity any of the probable sorrows
and difficulties besetting him in the uneasy position he is compelled
to occupy. You are quite certain among yourselves, that somehow or other
his removal will bring about that ideal condition of society which many
philosophers have written of, and which many reformers have desired,
but which has till now, proved itself incapable of being realised. The
King’s death, you think, will better all existing conditions, and you
wish me to fulfil not only the call of destiny, but your own desire. Be
it so! I am ready to obey! I will kill the King at once!--here and now!
I _am_ the King!”



This bold declaration, boldly spoken, had the startling effect of a
sudden and sharp flash of lightning in dense darkness. Amazement and
utter stupefaction held every man for the moment paralysed. Had a
volcano suddenly opened beneath their feet and belched forth its floods
of fire and lava, it could not have rendered them more helplessly
stricken and speechless.

“I _am_ the King!”

The words appeared to blaze on the air before them,--like the
handwriting on the wall at Belshazzar’s feast. The King! He,--their
friend, their advocate, he--Pasquin Leroy,--the most obedient, the most
daring and energetic of all the workers in their Cause--he--even he--was
the King! Was it,--could it be possible! Their eyes--all riveted in
fearful fascination upon him as he stood before them wholly at their
mercy, but cool, dauntless, and smilingly ready to die,--had the wild
uncomprehending stare of delirium;--the silence in the room was intense,
breathless and terrible. Suddenly, like a lion roused, Sergius Thord,
with a half-savage movement, sprang forward and seized him roughly by
the arm.

“You,--you are the King?” he said; “You,--Pasquin Leroy?” and struggling
for breath, his words almost choked him. “_You_! Enemy in the guise of
friend! You have fooled us! You have deceived us--you--!”

“Take care, Sergius!” said the monarch smiling, as he gently disengaged
himself from the fierce hand that clutched him; “This pistol is
loaded,--not to shoot you with!--but myself!--at your command! It would
be unfortunate if it went off and killed the wrong man by accident!”

His indomitable courage was irresistible; and Thord, relaxing his
grasp, fell back in something like awe. And then the spell of horror and
amazement that had struck the rest of the assemblage dumb, broke all
at once into a sort of wild-beast clamour. Every man ‘rushed’ for the
platform--and Max Graub and Axel Regor, taking swift and conscious
possession of their true personalities as Professor von Glauben and
Sir Roger de Launay, fought silently and determinedly to keep back the
crowding hands that threatened instant violence to the person of their
Royal master.

A complete hubbub and confusion reigned;--cries of “Traitor!” and “Spy!”
 were hurled from one voice to another; but before a single member of the
Committee could reach the spot where stood the undaunted Sovereign whom
they had so lately idolised as their friend and helper, and whom they
were now ready to tear to pieces, Lotys flung herself in front of him,
while at the same moment she snatched the pistol he held from his hand,
and fired it harmlessly into the air. The loud report--the flash of
fire,--startled all the men, who gaped upon her, thunderstruck.

“Through me!” she cried, her blue eyes flashing glorious menace;
“Through me your shots! Through me your daggers! On me your destroying
hands! Through my body alone shall you reach this King! Stand back all
of you! What would you do? King or commoner, he is your comrade and
associate! Sovereign or servant, he is the bravest man among you! Touch
him who dare! Remember your Vow of Fealty!”

Transfigured into an almost sublime beauty by the fervour of her
emotion, she looked the supreme incarnation of inspired womanhood, and
the infuriated men fell back, dismayed and completely overwhelmed by the
strong conviction of her words, and the amazing situation in which they
found themselves.

It was true!--he, the King,--whom they had accepted and known as Pasquin
Leroy,--was verily their own comrade! He had proved himself a thousand
times their friend and helper!--they had sworn to defend him at the
cost of their own lives, if need be,--to shelter and protect him in all
circumstances, and to accept all the consequences of whatever danger he
might run in the performance of his duty. His duty now,--according to
the fatal drawing of lots,--was that he should kill the King; and he had
declared himself ready to fulfil the task by killing himself! But--as he
was their comrade--they were bound in honour to guard his life!

These bewildering and maddening thoughts coursed like fire through the
brain of Sergius Thord,--the while his eyes, grown suddenly dark and
bloodshot, rested wonderingly on the tall upright figure of the monarch,
standing quietly face to face with the blood-thirsty Revolutionary
Committee, entirely unmoved by their fierce and lowering looks, and on
Lotys, white, beautiful and breathless, kneeling at his feet! A crushing
sense of impotence and failure rushed over his soul like a storm
wave,--his brain grew thick with the hurrying confusion, and a great
cry, like that of a wounded animal, broke from his lips.

“My God! My God! All my life’s work lost--in a single moment!”

The King heard. Gently, and with careful courtesy, raising Lotys from
the position in which she had thrown herself to guard him from attack
for the second time, he pressed her hands tenderly in his own.

“Trust me!” he whispered; “Have no fear! Not a man among them will touch
me now!”

With a slight gesture he signed her back to the chair she had previously
occupied. She sank into it, trembling from head to foot, but her eyes
feverishly brilliant and watchful, were widely open and alert, ready to
note the least movement or look that indicated further danger. Then the
King addressed himself to Thord.

“Sergius, I am entirely in your hands! I wait your word of command!
You are armed,--all my companions here are armed also! But Lotys has
deprived me of the only weapon I possessed,--though there are plenty
more in the room to be had on loan. What say you? Shall I kill the King?
Or will you?”

Thord was silent. A strong shudder shook his frame. The King laid a firm
hand on his shoulder.

“Friend!” he said in a low voice; “Believe me, I am your friend more
than ever!--you never had, and never will have a truer one than I! All
your life’s work lost, you say? Nay, not so! It is gained! You conquered
the People before I knew you,--and now you have conquered the People’s

Slowly Thord raised his great, dark, passionate eyes, clouded black with
thoughts which could find no adequate expression. The look in them
went straight to the monarch’s heart. Baffled ambition,--the hunger of
greatness,--the desire to do something that should raise his soul
above such common ruck of human emmets as make of the earth the merest
ant-hill whereon to eat and breed and die;--all this pent-up emotion
swam luminously in the fierce bright orbs, which like mirrors, reflected
the picture of the troubled mind within. The suppressed power of the
man, who, apart from his confused notions of ‘liberty, equality, and
fraternity’ could resort to the sternest and most self-endangering
measures for destroying what he considered the abuses of the law, had
moved the King, while disguised as Pasquin Leroy, to the profoundest
admiration for his bold character;--but perhaps he was never more moved
than at this supreme moment, when, hopelessly entangled in a net of most
unexpected weaving, the redoubtable Socialist had to confess himself
vanquished by the simple friendship and service of the very monarchy he
sought to destroy.

“Sergius,” said the King again,--“Trust me! Trust me as your Sovereign,
with the same trust that you gave to me as your comrade, Pasquin! For I
am still your comrade, remember! Nothing can undo the oath that binds
me to you and to the People! I have not become one of you to betray you;
but to serve you! Our present position is certainly a strange one!--for
by the tenets you hold, we should be sworn opponents, instead of, as we
are, sworn friends! Political agitators would have set us one against
the other for their own selfish ends; as matters stand, we are united in
the People’s Cause; and I may perhaps do you more good living than
dead! Give me a chance to serve you even better than I have done as yet!
Still,--if you judge my death would be an advantage to the country,--you
have but to say the word! I have sworn,--and I am ready to carry out the
full accomplishment of my vow! Do you understand? You are, by the rules
of this Committee my Chief!--there are no kings here; and I am good
soldier enough to obey orders! It is for you to speak!--straightly,
plainly, and at once,--to the Committee,--and to me!”

“Before God, you are brave!” muttered Thord, gazing at him in reluctant
admiration. “So brave, that it is almost impossible to believe that you
can be a King!”

He smiled.

“Speak! Speak, my friend!” he urged; “Our comrades are watching our
conference like famished tigers! Give them food!”

Thus adjured, Thord advanced, and confronted the murmuring,
gesticulating crowd of men, some of whom were wrathfully expostulating
with Johan Zegota, because he declined to unlock the door of the room
and let them out, till he had received his Chief’s commands to do so.
Others were grouped round Paul Zouche, who had sat apparently stricken
immovable in his chair ever since the King had declared his identity;
and others showed themselves somewhat inclined to ‘hustle’ Sir Roger
de Launay and Professor von Glauben, who guarded the approach to the
platform like sentinels,--though they were discreet enough to show no
weapons of defence.


The rich, deep voice of their leader thrilled through the room, and
brought them all to silence and attention.

“Comrades!” said Thord slowly,--his accents vibrating with the deepest
emotion. “I desire and command you all to be satisfied that no wrong has
been done to you! I ask you all to understand, fully and surely, that no
wrong is intended to you! The man whom we have loved,--the man who has
served us faithfully as Pasquin Leroy,--is still the same man, though
the King! Rank cannot alter his proved friendship and service,--nor
kingship break his bond! He is one of us,--signed and sealed in the
blood of Lotys;--and as one of us he must, and will remain! Have I
spoken truly?” he added, turning to the King, “or is there more that I
should say?”

Before any reply could be given a hubbub of voices cried:--

“Explain! Confess! Bind him to his oath!”

Whereat the King, stepping forward a pace or two, confronted his
would-be doubters and detractors with a dauntless composure.

“Explain? Confess? Friends, I will do both! but for binding me to my
oath, there is no need,--for it is too strong a compact of faith and
friendship ever to be broken! Would you have me remind _you_ of your Vow
of Fealty pronounced so solemnly this evening? Did you not swear that
‘Whosoever among us this night shall draw the Red Cross Signal which
destines him to take from life a life proved unworthy, shall be to us
a sacred person, and an object of defence and continued protection’?
As Pasquin Leroy, this vow applied to me,--as King, I ask no better or
stronger pledge of loyalty!”

All eyes were fixed upon him as he spoke. For some moments there was a
dead silence.

This silence was presently broken by a murmur of conflicting wonder,
impatience and uncertainty,--deepening as it ran,--and then,--as the
full situation became more and more apparent, coupled with the smiling
and heroic calm of the monarch who had thus placed himself voluntarily
in the hands of his sworn enemies, all their struggling passions were
suddenly merged in one great wave of natural and human admiration for a
brave man and a burst of impetuous cheering broke impulsively from every
lip. Once started, the infection caught on like a fever,--and again and
yet again the excited Revolutionists cheered ‘for the King!’--till they
made the room echo.

The tumult was extraordinary. Lotys sat silent, with clasped hands, her
eyes dilated with feverish watchfulness and excitement,--the tempest of
emotion in her own poor tortured soul, being of such a character which
no words, no tears, no exclamations could possibly relieve. The memory
of her interview with the King in his own Palace flashed across her
like a scene limned in fire. She had no power to think--she was simply
stunned and overwhelmed,--and held only one idea in her mind, and that
was to save him at all costs, even at the sacrifice of her own
life. Thord, carried away from his very self by the force of such a
‘Revolution’ as he had never planned or anticipated, stood more in the
attitude of one who was trying to think, rather than of one who was

“For the King!” cried Johan Zegota, suddenly giving vent to the feelings
he had long kept in check,--feelings which had made him a greater
admirer of the so-called “Pasquin Leroy” than of Thord himself;--“For
our sworn comrade, the King!”

Again the cheers broke out, to be redoubled in intensity when Louis
Valdor added his voice to the rest and exclaimed:

“For the first real King I have ever known!”

Then the excitement rose to its zenith,--and amidst the tempest of
applause, the King himself stood quiet, watching the turbulence with
the thoughtful eyes of a student who seeks to unravel some difficult
problem. Raising his hand gently, he, by this gesture created immediate
silence,--and so, in this hush remained for an instant, leaning
slightly against the Committee Table, draped as it was in its funereal
black,--the lights at either end of it, and the red lamp in its centre
flinging an unearthly radiance on his fine composed features. Long, long
afterwards, his faithful servants, Sir Roger de Launay and Heinrich
von Glauben retained a mental picture of him in that attitude,--the
dauntless smile upon his lips,--the dreamful look in his eyes,--resting,
as it seemed against a prepared funeral-bier, with the watch-lights
burning for burial,--and the face of Lotys, pale as a marble mask, yet
wearing an expression of mingled triumph and agony, shining near him
like a star amid the gloom, while the tall form of Sergius Thord in the
background loomed large,--a shadow of impending evil.

After a pause, he spoke.

“Comrades! I thank you for the expressed renewal of your trust in me. In
my heart and soul, as a man, I am one of you and with you;--even though
fate has made me a king! You demand an explanation--a confession. You
shall have both! When I enrolled myself as a member of your Committee,
I did so in all honesty and honour,--wishing to discover the object of
your Cause, and prepared to aid it if I found it worthy. When I
sealed my compact with you in the blood of Lotys, the Angel of our
Covenant,”--here the cheering again broke out,--and Lotys, turning
aside, endeavoured to restrain the tears that threatened to fall;--then,
as silence was restored, he resumed;--“When as I say, I did this,--you
will remember that on being asked of my origin and country, I answered
that I was a slave. I spoke truly! There is no greater slave in all
the length and breadth of the world than a king! Bound by the chains
of convention and custom, he is coerced more violently than any
prisoner,--his lightest word is misunderstood--his smallest action
is misconstrued,--his very looks are made the subject of comment--and
whether he walks or stands,--sits to give wearisome audience, or lies
down to forget his sorrows in sleep, he should assuredly be an object of
the deepest pity and consideration, instead of being as he often is, a
target for the arrows of slander,--a pivot round which to move the wheel
of social evil and misrule! The name of Freedom sounds sweet in your
ears, my friends!--how sweet it is--how dear it is, we all know! You are
ready to fight for it--to die for it! Then remember, all of you, that it
is a glory utterly unknown to a king! Were he to take sword in hand and
do battle for it unto the death, he could never obtain it;--he might
win it for his country, but never for himself! Nothing so glorious as
Liberty!--you cry! True!--but kings are prisoners from the moment
they ascend thrones! And you never set them free, save in the way you
suggested this evening;” and he smiled, “which way is still open to
you--and--to me! But while you take time to consider whether I shall or
shall not fulfil the duty which the drawing of lots on this Day of
Fate has assigned to me,--whether you, on your parts, will or will not
maintain the Vow of Fealty which we all have sworn together,--I will
freely declare to you the motives which led me to depart from the
conventional rule and formality of a merely ‘Royal’ existence, and to
become as a Man among men,--for once at least in the history of modern

He paused,--every eye was fixed upon him; and the stillness was so
intense that the lightest breath might be heard.

“I came to the Throne three years ago,” he resumed, “and I accepted its
responsibilities with reluctance. As Heir-Apparent, you all know, or
think you know, my career; for some of you have very freely expressed
your convictions concerning it! It was discreditable,--according to the
opinions formed and expressed by this Committee. No doubt it was!
Let any man among you occupy my place;--and be surrounded by the same
temptations,--and then comport himself wisely--if he can! Such an one
would need to be either god or hero; and I profess to be neither. But I
do not wish to palliate or deny the errors of the past. The present is
my concern,--the present time, and the present People. Great changes
are fermenting in the world; and of these changes, especially of those
directly affecting our own country, I became actively conscious, shortly
after I ascended the Throne. I heard of disaffections,--disloyalties;
I gathered that the Ministry were suspected of personal
self-aggrandisement. I learned that a disastrous policy was on foot
respecting National Education--in which priestcraft would be given every
advantage, and Jesuitry obtain undue influence over the minds of the
rising generation. I heard,--I studied,--and finding that I could get no
true answer on any point at issue from anyone of my supposed ‘reliable’
ministers, I resolved to discover things for myself. I found out
that the disaffected portion of the metropolis was chiefly under the
influence of Sergius Thord--and accordingly I placed myself in his way,
and became enrolled among you as ‘Pasquin Leroy’; his sworn associate.
I am his sworn associate still! I am proud that he should call me
friend;--and even as we have worked already for the People, so we will
work still--together!”

No restraint could have availed to check the wild plaudits that broke
out afresh at these words. Still thoughtfully and with grave kindness
contemplating all the eager and excited faces upturned to him, the King
went on.

“You know nearly all the rest. As Pasquin Leroy, I discovered all
the shameful speculations with the public money, carried on by Carl
Pérousse,--and found that so far, at any rate, your accusations against
him were founded in fact. At the first threatening suspicion of possible
condemnation the Marquis de Lutera resigned,--thus evidencing his guilty
participation in the intended plunder. A false statement printed
by David Jost, stating that I,--the King,--had revoked my decision
concerning the refusal of land to the Jesuits, caused me to announce
the truth of my own action myself, in the rival newspaper. Of my
excommunication from the Church it is unnecessary to speak; a man is
not injured in God’s sight by that merely earthly ban. Among other
things”--and he smiled,--“I found myself curiously possessed of a
taste for literature!--and proved, that whereas some few monarchs of
my acquaintance cannot be quite sure of their spelling, I could, at a
pinch, make myself fairly well understood by the general public, as
a skilled writer of polemics against myself!--as well as against the
Secretary of State. This, so far as I personally am concerned, has been
the humorous side of my little drama of disguise!--for sometimes I have
had serious thoughts of appearing as a rival to our friend, Paul Zouche,
in the lists of literary Fame!”

A murmur of wondering laughter ran round the room,--and all heads were
turned to one corner, as the King, with the kindly smile still lighting
up his eyes and lips, called:

“Zouche, are you there? Do you hear me?”

Zouche did hear. He had been sitting in a state of semi-stupor all the
evening,--his chaotic mind utterly confused and bewildered by the events
which had taken place;--but now, on being called, his usual audacious
and irrepressible spirit came to his aid, and he answered:

“O King, I hear! O King, your Majesty would make the deaf to hear,
and the dumb to speak! And if there is anything to be done to me for
abominating you, O King, who had the impudence to offer me a hundred
gold pieces a year for my poems, I, O King, will submit to the utmost
terrors of the law!”

A burst of laughter long and loud, relieved the pent-up feelings of the
company. The King laughed as heartily as the rest, and over the brooding
features of Thord himself came the shadow of a smile.

“We will settle our accounts together later on, Zouche!” said the
monarch gaily; “Meanwhile, I beg you to continue your harmless
abomination of me at your leisure!”

Another laugh went round, and then the King resuming his speech

“I have played two parts at once,--Revolutionist and King! But both
parts are after all but two sides of the same nature. When I first came
among you, I bade you all look at me well,--I asked you to note the
resemblance I bore to the ruling Sovereign. I called myself ‘the living
copy of the man I most despise.’ That was quite true! For there is no
one I despise more utterly than myself,--when I think what I might have
done with my million opportunities, and how much time I have wasted! You
all scrutinised me closely;--and I did not flinch! You all accepted my
service,--and I have served you well! I have noted every one of your
desires. Where possible, I have sought to fulfil them. Every accusation
you have brought against the Ministry has been sifted to the bottom,
and proved down to the hilt. My publicly-proclaimed decision to nominate
Carl Pérousse as Premier was merely thrown out as a test to try the
temper and quality of the nation. That test has answered its purpose
well! But there is no need for fear,--Carl Pérousse will never be
nominated to anything but disgrace! All his schemes are in my hand,--I
hold complete documentary proofs of his dishonesty and guilt; and the
very day which you have chosen as that on which to appeal to the King
against the choice of him as Prime Minister, will see him denounced by
myself in person to the Government.”

A storm of applause greeted this welcome announcement. For a moment all
the men went mad with excitement, shouting, stamping and singing,--while
again and yet again the cry: ‘For the King!’ echoed round and round in
tempestuous cheering.

Sergius Thord gazed blankly at the Scene with a strange sense of being
the dreaming witness of some marvellous drama enacted altogether away
from the earth. He could hot yet bring himself to realise that by such a
simple method as the independent working of one individual intelligence,
all his own followers had been swept round to loyalty and love for
a monarch, whom previously, though without knowing him, they had
hated--and sworn to destroy! Yet, in very truth, all the hatreds and
envys,--all the slanders and cruelties of the members of the human race
towards each other, spring from ignorance; and when disaffected persons
hate a king, they do so mostly because they do not know him, and
because they can form no true opinion of his qualities or the various
difficulties of his position. If the Anarchist, bent on the destruction
of some person in authority, only had the culture and knowledge
to recognise how much that person already suffers, by being in all
probability forced to fulfil duties for which he has no heart or mind,
he would stay his murderous hand, and pity rather than condemn. For the
removal of one ruler only means the installation of another,--and the
wild and often gifted souls of reformers, stumbling through darkness
after some great Ideal which resolves itself into a shadow and delusion
the nearer one approaches to it, need to be tenderly dealt with from the
standpoint of plainest simplicity and truth,--so that they may feel
the sympathetic touch of human love and care emanating from those very
quarters which they seek to assail. This had been the self-imposed
mission of the King who had played the part of ‘Pasquin Leroy’;--and
thus, fearing nothing, doubting nothing, and relying simply on his own
strength, discretion, and determination, he had gained a moral victory
over the passions of his secret foes such as he had never himself
anticipated. When silence was again restored, he proceeded:

“The various suggestions made in my presence during the time I have
been a member of this Committee, will all be carried out. The present
Government will naturally oppose every measure,--but I,--backed by
such supporters as I have now won,--will elect a new Government--a new
Ministry. When I began this bloodless campaign of my own, the present
Ministry were on the edge of war. Determined to provoke hostilities
with a peaceful Power, they were ready even with arms and ammunition,
manufactured by a ‘Company,’ of which Pérousse was the director and
chief shareholder! Contracts for army supplies were being secretly
tendered; and one was already secretly accepted and arranged for,--in
which Carl Pérousse and the Marquis de Lutera were to derive enormous
interest;--the head of the concern being David Jost. This plan was
concocted with devilish ingenuity,--for, if the war had actually broken
out, the supplies of our army would have been of the worst possible
kind, in order to give the best possible profit to the contractors; and
Jost, with his newspaper influence, would have satisfied the public mind
by printing constant reiterations of the completeness and excellence of
the supplies, and the entire contentment and jubilation of the men! But
I awoke to my responsibilities in time to checkmate this move. I
forbade the provocation intended;--I stopped the war. In this matter
at least--much loss of life, much heavy expenditure, and much
ill-will among other nations has been happily spared to us. For the
rest,--everything you have been working for shall be granted,--if you
yourselves will help me to realise your own plans! I want you in your
thousands!--ay, in your tens of thousands! I want you all on my side!
With you,--the representatives of the otherwise unvoiced People,--I will
enforce all the measures which you have discussed before me, showing
good and adequate reason why they should be carried. The taxes you
complain of shall be instantly removed;--and for the more speedy
replenishment of the National Exchequer, I gladly resign one half my
revenues from all sources whatsoever for the space of five years; or
longer, if considered desirable. But I want your aid! Will you all stand
by me?”

A mighty shout answered him.

“To the death!”

He turned to Thord.

“Sergius,” he said, “my task is finished--my confession made! The next
Order of this meeting must come from you!”

Thord looked at him amazedly.

“From me? Are you not the King?”

“Only so long as the People desire it!” replied the monarch gently; “And
are you not the representative of the People?”

Thord’s chest heaved. Burning tears stood in his eyes. The strangeness
of the situation--the deliberate coolness and resolve with which this
sovereign ruler of a powerful kingdom laid his life trustingly in his
hands, was too much for his nerve.

“Lotys!” he said huskily; “Lotys!”

She rose at once and came to him, moving ghostlike in her white
draperies, her eyes shining--her lips tremulous.

“Lotys,” he said, “The King is in our hands! You saved his life
once--will you save it again?”

She raised her bent head, and the old courageous light flashed in her
face, transfiguring its every feature.

“It is not for me to save!” she replied in clear firm tones; “It is for
you--and for all of us,--to defend!”

A ringing cheer answered her. Sergius Thord slowly advanced, and as he
did so, the King, seeing his movement frankly held out his hand. For
a moment the Socialist Chief hesitated--then suddenly yielding to his
overpowering impulse, caught that hand and raised his dark eyes full to
the monarch’s face.

“You have conquered me!” he said, “But only by your qualities as
a man--not by your authority as a king! You have won my honour--my
respect--my gratitude--my friendship--and with these, so long as you
are faithful to our Cause, take my allegiance! More I cannot say--more I
will not promise!”

“I need no more!” responded the King cheerily, enclosing his hand in a
warm clasp. “We are friends and fellow-workers, Sergius!--we can never
be rivals!”

As he spoke, his glance fell on Lotys. She shrank from the swift passion
of his gaze,--and her eyelids drooped half-swooningly over the bright
star-windows of her own too ardent soul. Abruptly turning from both her
and Thord, the King again addressed the company:

“One word more, my friends! It is arranged that you, with all your
thousands of the People are to convene together in one great multitude,
and march to the Palace to demand justice from the King. There is now
no need to do this,--for the King himself is one of you!--the King
only lives and reigns that justice in all respects may be done! I will
therefore ask you to change your plan;--and instead of marching to
the Palace, march with me to the House of Government. You would have
demanded justice from the King; the King himself will go with you to
demand justice for the People!”

A wild shout answered him; and he knew as he looked on the faces of his
hearers that he had them all in his power as the servants of his will.

“And now, gentlemen,” he proceeded; “I should perhaps make some excuses
for my two friends, known to you as Max Graub and Axel Regor. I told you
I would be responsible for their conduct, and, so far as they have been
permitted to go, they have behaved well! I must, however, in justice
to them, assure you that whereas I became a member of your Committee
gladly, they followed my example reluctantly, and only out of fidelity
and obedience to me. They have lived in the shadow of the Throne,--and
have learned to pity,--and I think,--to love its occupant! Because they
know,--as you have never known,--the heavy burden which a king puts on
with his crown! They have, however, in their way, served you under my
orders, and under my orders will continue to serve you still. Max
Graub, or, to give him his right name, Heinrich von Glauben, has a high
reputation in this country for his learning, apart from his position as
Household Physician to our Court;--Axel Regor is my very good friend Sir
Roger de Launay, who is amiable enough to support the monotony of his
duty as one of my equerries in waiting. Now you know us as we are! But
after all, nothing is changed, save our names and the titles we bear; we
are the same men, the same friends, the same comrades!--and so I trust
we shall remain!”

The cheering broke out again, and Sir Roger de Launay, who was quite as
overwhelmed with astonishment at the courage and coolness of his Royal
master as any Revolutionist present, joined in it with a will, as did
Von Glauben.

“One favour I have to ask of you,” proceeded the King, “and it is this:
If you exempt me to-night from killing the King;” and he smiled,--“you
must also exempt all the members of the Revolutionary Committee from
any similar task allotted to them by having drawn the fatal Signal! Our
friend, Zouche, for instance, has drawn the name of Carl Pérousse. Now I
want Zouche for better work than that of killing a rascal!”

Loud cheers answered him, and Zouche rising from his place advanced a

“Majesty!” he cried, “You are right! I hand your Majesty’s intended
Premier over to you with the greatest, pleasure in the world! Apart from
the fact of your being the King, I am compelled to admit that you have
common sense!”

Laughter and cheers resounded through the room again, and the King
quietly turning round, extinguished the red lamp on the table. The
thirteenth light was quenched; the Day of Fate was ended. As the ominous
crimson flare sank out, a sudden silence prevailed, and the King fixed
his eyes on Lotys.

“From you, Madame, must come my final exoneration! If you still condemn
me as a King, I shall be indeed unfortunate! If you still think well
of me as a man, I shall be proud! I have to thank you, not only for my
life, but for having helped me to make that life valuable! As Pasquin
Leroy, I have sought to serve you,--as King, I seek to serve you still!”

The silence continued. Every man present watched the visible emotion
which swept every vestige of colour from the face of Lotys, and made her
eyes so feverishly bright. Every man gazed at her as she rose from her
chair and came forward a little to the front of the platform. It was
with a strong effort that she raised her eyes to those of the King, and
in that one glance between them, the lightning flash of a resistless
love tore the veil of secrecy from their souls. But she spoke out

“I thank your Majesty!” she said; “I thank you for all you have done for
us as our comrade and associate,--for all you will yet do for us as our
comrade and associate still! It is better to be a brave man than a weak
King--but it is best to be a strong man and a strong king both
together! You have disproved the thoughts I had of you as King! You have
ratified--” here she paused, while the colour suddenly sprang to her
cheeks, and her breath came pantingly and quick,--“and strengthened the
thoughts I had of you as our Pasquin!” Her eyes softened with tears,
though she smiled. “We have believed in you; we believe in you still!
All is as it was,--save in the one thing new,--that where we were banded
together against the King, we are now united for, and with the King!”

These words were all that were needed to reawaken and confirm the
enthusiasm of the Revolutionists, whose ‘revolutionary’ measures were
now accepted and sworn to by the Crowned Head of the Realm. Thereupon,
they gave themselves up to the wildest cheering.

“Comrades!” cried Paul Zouche, in the midst of the uproar; “There is one
point you seem to have missed! The King,--God bless him!--doesn’t see
it,--Thord, glowering like an owl in his ivy-bush of hair, doesn’t see
it! It is only left to me to perceive the chief result of this evening’s

All the men laughed.

“What is it, Zouche?” demanded Louis Valdor.

“Ay! What is it?” echoed Zegota.

“Speak, Zouche!” said the King; “Whatever strange conclusion your poetic
brain discovers, doubt not but that we shall accept it,--from!”

“Accept it? I should think so!” cried Zouche; “You are bound to accept
it whether you like it or not; there is no other way out of it!”

“Well, what is it?” repeated Zegota impatiently; “Declare it!”

“It is this;” said Zouche, “Simply this,--that, with the King as our
comrade and associate, the Revolutionary Committee is no use! It is
finished! There can be no longer a Revolutionary Committee!”

“That is true!” said the King; “It may henceforth be known as a new

Cheer after cheer echoed through the crowded room, and while the noise
was at its height a knocking was heard outside and Sholto, the hunchback
father of Pequita, demanded admittance. Zegota unlocked the door, and in
a few minutes the situation was explained to the astonished landlord of
the Revolutionary Committee quarters. Overwhelmed at the news, and full
of gratitude for the kindness shown to his child, which he now knew had
emanated from the King in person, he would have knelt to kiss the Royal
hand, had not the monarch prevented him.

“No, my good Sholto!” he said gently; “Enough of such humility wearies
me in the monotonous routine of Court life; and were it not for custom
and prejudice, I would suffer no self-respecting man to abase himself
before me, simply because my profession is that of King! Tell Pequita
that I would not look at her, or applaud her dancing the other night,
because I wished her to hate the King and to love Pasquin!--but now you
must ask her for me, to love them both!”

Sholto bowed low, profoundly overcome. Was this the King against whom
they had all been in league?--this simple, unaffected man, who seemed
so much at home and at one with them all? Amazed and bewildered, he, by
general invitation, mixed with the rest of the men, for each of whom
the King had a kind and appreciative word, or a fresh pledge of his good
faith and intention towards them and the reforms they sought to effect.
Von Glauben was surrounded by a group of those among whom he had made
himself popular; and a hundred eager questions were asked of both him
and De Launay, who were ready enough to eulogise the daring of their
Royal master, and the determination with which he had resolved on making
his secret foes his open friends.

“After all,” said Zegota deprecatingly, “it is not so much the King whom
we were against, as the Government.”

“Ah! You forget, no doubt,” said Von Glauben, “that the King--any
King--is usually a Dummy in the hands of Government, unless, as in
the present instance, he chooses to become a living Personality for

“The King has created an autocracy!” said Louis Valdor; “and it will
last for his lifetime. But after----!”

“After him,--if his eldest son, Prince Humphry, comes to the
Throne,--the autocracy will be continued;” said Von Glauben decisively;
“For he is a young man who is singularly fond of having his own way!”

The conversation now became general; and the big, bare, common room
assumed in a few minutes almost the aspect of a Royal levée. This was
curious enough,--and furnished food for meditation to Professor von
Glauben, who was considerably excited by the dramatic dénouement of the
Day of Fate,--a climax for which neither he nor Sir Roger had been
in the least prepared. He said something of it to Sir Roger who was
watching Lotys.

“You look at the woman,” he said; “I look at the man! Do you think this
drama is finished?”

“Not yet!” answered De Launay curtly; “Nor is the danger over!”

The hum of talk continued; and the good feeling of friendship and unity
of the assemblage was intensified with every cordial handshake. When the
time came to break up, someone suggested that a carriage should be sent
for to convey the King and his two companions to the Palace. Whereat the
monarch laughed aloud and right joyously.

“By my faith!” he exclaimed; “You, my friends, would actually pamper me
already, by offering me a luxury which you yourselves do not propose
to enjoy! Ah, my friends, here comes in the mischief of the monarchical
system! What of your ‘Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity’? Do I ask to
have anything different to yourselves? Can I not walk, even as you do?
Have I not walked to, and from these meetings often? And even so, I
purpose to walk now! If you are true Revolutionists--as I am--do not
reverse your own theories! You complain,--and justly,--that a king is
over-flattered; do not then flatter him yourselves by insisting on such
convenience for him as he does not even demand at your hands!”

“You take us too literally, Sir,” said Louis Valdor; “Even
Revolutionists owe respect to their chief!”

“Sergius Thord is your Chief, my friend!” replied the monarch; “And,
from a Revolutionary point of view, mine! But you have never thought of
sending _him_ anywhere in a carriage! Ah!--what children we are! What
slaves of convention! ‘Liberty, Equality and Fraternity’ have been
the ideals of ages;--yet despite them, we are always ready to follow a
Leader,--and form ourselves into one body under a Head!”

“Provided the Head has brains in it!” said Zouche. “But otherwise--”

“You cut it off!” laughed the monarch--“and quite right too!”

They now began to separate. The hunchback Sholto explained that it was
long after midnight, and that he had already put out all the lights in
the basement.

Whereupon the King, turning to Sergius Thord said: “Farewell for the
moment, Sergius! Come to me at the Palace with the whole plan of the
meeting you are now organising; I shall hold myself ready to fall in
with your plans! Gather your thousands, and--leave the rest to me!”

Thord clasped his extended hand,--and was moved by a curious instinct
to bend down low over it after the fashion of a courtier, but restrained
himself almost by force. The men began to move; one after the other bade
good-night to the King--then to Thord, and last to Lotys, who, drawing
on her cloak, prepared to leave also.

“I will see you safely down the stairs,” said the King smilingly, to
her. “It is not the first time I have done so! How now, Zouche?”

Paul Zouche stood before him, his eyes full of a strange mingled pathos
and scorn.

“I have to thank your Majesty,” he said slowly, “for something I do not
in the least value,--Fame! It has come too late! Had it been my portion
three years ago, the woman I loved would have been proud of me, and I
should have been happy! She is dead now--and nothing matters!”

The King was silent. There was something both solemn and pitiful about
this wreck of manhood which was still kept alive by the fire of genius.

“With one word you might have saved me--and her!” he went on. “When you
came to the Throne,--and all the wretched versifiers in the kingdom were
scribbling twaddle in the way of ‘Coronation odes’ and medleys, I wrote
‘The Song of Freedom’ for your glory! All the people of the land know
that song now!--but you might have known it then! For now it is too
late!--too late to call her back;--too late to give me peace!”

He paused;--then--without another word--turned, and went out.

“Poor Zouche!” said the King gently; “I accept his reproach and
understand it! He is right! The recognition of his genius is one of the
thousand chances I have missed! But, as God lives, I will miss no more!”

A great quietude fell on the house as the Revolutionary Committee
dispersed. The last to leave was the King, his two friends, and Lotys.
Lotys declined all escort somewhat imperatively, refusing to allow
Sergius Thord to see her to her own home.

“I must be alone!” she said; “Do you not understand! I want to
think--I want to realise our change of position. I cannot talk to you,
Sergius,--no--not till to-morrow--you must let me be!”

He drew back, chilled and hurt by her tone, but forbore to press his
company on her. With another farewell to the King, he stood at the top
of the long dark winding stair watching the group descend,--first Von
Glauben, next De Launay,--thirdly, the King,--and lastly, Lotys.

“Good-night!” he called, as her white robes vanished in the gloom.

“Good-night!” she answered tremulously, as she disappeared.

And he, returning to the empty room, stared vacantly at the table draped
with black, and the funeral urn set upon it,--stared at the empty
chairs and bare walls, and listened as it were, to the midnight
silence,--realising that he as Chief of the Revolutionary Committee,
was no longer a chief but a servant!--and that the power he sought--that
power which he had endeavoured to attain in order that he might make
of Lotys, as he had said, ‘a queen among women!’ was only to be won
through,--the King! The King knew all his secret plans and his
aims,--he held the clue to the whole network of his Revolutionary
organisation,--and the only chance he now had of ever arriving at
the highest goal of his ambition was in the King’s hands! Thus was
he,--Socialist and Revolutionist,--made subject to the Throne; the very
rules he had drawn up for himself and his Committee making it impossible
that he could be otherwise than loyal, to a monarch who was at the same
time his comrade!

Meanwhile, in the thick darkness of the hall below, while Von Glauben
and De Launay were groping their way to the door which was cautiously
held open by Sholto, Lotys, moving with hesitating steps down the
stairs, felt rather than saw a head turned back upon her,--a flash of
eyes in the darkness, and heard her name breathed softly:


She grew dizzy and uncertain of her footing; she could not answer.
Suddenly a strong arm caught her,--she was drawn into a close, fierce,
jealous clasp; warm lips caressed her hair, her brow, her eyes; and a
voice whispered in her ear:

“You love me, Lotys! You love me! Hush!--do not deny it--you cannot deny
it!--you know it, as I know it!--you have told me you love me! You love
me, my Love! You love me!”

Another moment--and the King passed quietly out of the door with a bland
‘Good-night’ to Sholto, and joining his two companions, raised his hat
to Lotys with a courteous salutation.

“Good-night, Madame!”

She stood in the doorway, shuddering violently from head to
foot,--watching his tall figure disappear in the shadows of the street.
Then stretching out her hands blindly, she gave a faint cry, and
murmuring something inarticulate to the alarmed Sholto, fell senseless
at his feet.



To many persons of the servile or flunkey habit, the idea that a king
should ever comport himself as an ordinary,--or extraordinary,--man,
seems more or less preposterous; while to conceive him as endowed with
dash, spirit, and a love of adventure is judged almost as absurd and
impossible. The only potentate that ever appears, in legendary lore, to
have indulged himself to his heart’s content in the sport of adopting a
disguise and going about unrecognised among his subjects, is the witty
and delightful hero of the ‘Arabian Nights’ Entertainment,’ Caliph
Haroun Alraschid, who, as Tennyson describes him, had

  “Deep eyes, laughter-stirred
  With merriment of kingly pride;
  Sole star of all that place and time,
  I saw him in his golden prime.
  The good Haroun Alraschid!”

We accept Haroun; and acknowledge him to have been wise in the purport
of his wanderings through the streets of the city,--gaining new
experience with every hour, and studying the needs and complaints of his
people for himself;--but if we should be told of a modern monarch doing
likewise in our own day, we should mount on the stiff hobby-horse of our
ridiculous conventionality, and accuse him of having brought the
dignity of the Throne into contempt. Yet nothing perhaps can be more
contemptible than a monarch who is too surrounded by flunkeyism to be a
Man,--and, on the other hand, nothing could be more beneficial than the
feeling that perhaps a monarch may be so much of a man after all that no
one can be quite certain as to his whereabouts. It would be well if some
rowdy ‘clubs’ could be restrained by the idea that the Sovereign of the
Realm might step in unexpectedly,--or if the ‘slums’ could scarcely be
able to tell when he might not be among their inmates, disguised as one
of them, studying and knowing more in a day than his ministers would
tell him in several years. It is generally admitted that no man is fit
for a profession till he has thoroughly mastered its possibilities,--yet
it is not too much to declare that in the profession of Sovereignty the
few who practise it, have mastered it to so little purpose, that they
are almost entirely blind to the singular advantages which they might
obtain, not only for themselves, but for the entire world, if they chose
to put forth their own individuality, and, instead of wasting their time
on the scheming and self-seeking sections of Society, elected to try
their powers on the working and trade communities of the nation. But
throughout all history, the various careers of kings and emperors
contain instructive lessons of Lost Opportunity. Allowing for the
differences of climate and temperament, it may be taken for granted
that no people of any country are constitutionally able to rise above
a certain height of enthusiasm; and that when the high-water mark is
reached, their enthusiasm cools, and a reaction invariably sets in. For
this cause a monarch should never rely too much on the plaudits of the
mob in a time of conquest, or public festival of jubilation. He should
look upon such acclamation as the mere rising of a wave, which must in
due time sink again,--and if he would know his people thoroughly,
he should study that same shouting mob, not when it is affected by
hysteria, but during its everyday level condition of stubborn and
patient toil. So will he perhaps be able to lay his finger on the sore
places of life, and to find out where the seed of mischief is planted,
before it begins to grow. But he must give an individual interest to
such work; no information must be obtained or given through this person
or that person,--for the old maxim that ‘if you want anything done, do
it yourself’ applies to kings as well as to all other classes of men.

That the old adage had been amply practised by one king at least, was
soon known throughout the capital of the country over which the monarch
here written of held dominion. Somehow, and by some means or other, the
story oozed out bit by bit and in guarded whispers, that the King
had ‘trapped’ Carl Pérousse, as well as several other defaulting
ministers,--and that, strange and incredible as it appeared, he himself
was the very ‘Pasquin Leroy’ whose political polemics had created such
a stir. Once started, the rumour flew;--some disbelieved it;--others
listened, with ears stretched wide, greedy for more detail,--but
presently the scattered threads of gossip became woven into a
consecutive web of certainty so far as one point, at least, was
concerned,--and this was, that the King would personally address his
Parliament during the ensuing week on matters of national safety and
importance. Such an announcement was altogether unprecedented, and
excited the whole country’s attention. Plenty of discussion there was,
as to whether the King had any right to so address the members of the
Government,--and some oracular journals were of the opinion that he
was acting in an ‘unconstitutional manner.’ On the other hand, it
was discovered and proved that there was no actual law forbidding the
Sovereign to speak when any question of urgency appeared to call for his
expressed opinion.

While this affair was being contested and argued, a considerable
sensation was created by the news that the Marquis de Lutera had
suddenly left the country,--ostensibly for his health, which, everyone
was assured, had completely broken down. People shook their heads
ominously, and wondered when the King would give M. Pérousse the task of
forming a new Ministry,--while they watched with deepening interest the
progress of the various Government debates, which were carried on in the
usual way, following the lines laid down by the absent Premier, Marquis
de Lutera. Carl Pérousse, confronted by a thousand difficulties,
maintained his usual equable and audacious attitude, scouting with
scorn the rumour that the Socialist writer, ‘Pasquin Leroy’ was merely
a disguise adopted by the King himself,--and he was as cool and
imperturbable as ever when one morning David Jost succeeded in finding
him at home, and obtaining an audience.

“It was the King!” burst out Jost, as soon as he found himself alone
with his ally; “It was the King himself who wore Lutera’s signet, and
came to me disguised so well that his own father would not have known
him! The King himself, I say! And I told him everything!”

“More fool you!” returned Pérousse quietly; “However, fools generally
have to pay the price of their folly!”

“And knaves!” said Jost furiously; “But there is a power which cannot be
controlled, even by kings or statesmen--and that is--the pen!”

“And do you think you can use the pen?” queried Pérousse indolently;
“Excellent Shylock, you know you cannot! You can pay others to use it
for you! That is all!”

“I can make short work of _you_ at any rate!” said Jost, his little
eyes sparkling with rage; “For I see plainly enough now that even if our
plans had succeeded, you would have left me in the lurch!”

“Of course!” smiled Pérousse; “Are you so simple in the world’s ways as
not to be able to realise that such Jew pressmen as you are only made
for the use of politicians? We drop you, when we have done with you! Go
to London, Jost! Start a paper there! It is the very place for you! Get
a Cardinal to back you up, with funds to be used for the ‘conversion’ of
England! Or give a hundred thousand pounds to a hospital! You can become
naturalised as an Englishman if you like; any country does for a Jew!
And you will be a power of the realm in no time! They manage these sort
of things capitally there!”

“By God!” said Jost; “I could kill you!”

“What for?” demanded Pérousse; “Because you think I am going to be
proved a political fraud? Wait and see! If the King denounces me, I am
prepared to denounce the King!”

Jost stared, then laughed aloud.

“Denounce the King! You are bold! But you make up your sum with the
wrong numerals this time! The King holds the complete list of your
speculations in his hand,--he has got them through the agency of the
Revolutionary Committee, to which your stockbroker’s confidential clerk
belongs! You fool! All your schemes--all your ‘companies’ are known to
him root and branch--and you say you will ‘denounce’ him! If you do, it
will be a real comedy!--the case of a thief denouncing the officer who
has caught him red-handed in the act of thieving!”

With this parting shot, he made a violent exit. Pérousse left alone,
dismissed him, with all other harassments from his mind; for being
entirely without a conscience, he had very little care as to the results
of the King’s reported intentions. He was preparing a brilliant speech,
which he intended to deliver if occasion demanded; and on his own
coolness, mendacity and pluck, he staked his future.

“If I fail,” he said to himself; “I will go to the United States, and
end by becoming President! There are many such plans open to a man of

During the ensuing few days there were some extra gaieties at the
Palace,--and the King and Queen were seen daily in public. Everywhere,
they were greeted with frantic outbursts of cheering, and the recent
riotous outbreaks seemed altogether forgotten. The Opera was crowded
nightly, and undeterred by the fear of any fresh manifestations of
popular discontent, their Majesties were again present. This time
the King was the first to lead off the applause that hailed Pequita’s
dancing. And how her little feet flew!--how her eyes sparkled with
rapture--how the dark curls tossed, and the cherry lips smiled! To
her the King remained Pasquin!--a kind of monarch in a fairy tale,
who scattered benefits at a touch, and sunshine with a glance, and who
deserved all the love and loyalty of every subject in the kingdom! But
she had never had any idea of ‘Revolution,’ poor child!--save such a
revolving of chance and circumstance as should enable her father to
live in comfort, without anxiety for his latter days. And perhaps at
the bottom of all political or religious fanaticism we should find an
equally simple root of cause for the effect.

The day at last came when Sergius Thord held his mighty ‘mass meeting,’
convened in the Cathedral square,--all ready for marching orders. No
interference was offered either from soldiery or police; and the people
came pouring up from every quarter of the city in their thousands and
tens of thousands. By noon, the tall lace-like spire of the Cathedral
towered above a vast sea of human heads, which from a distance looked
like swarming bees; and as the bells struck the hour, Thord, mounting
the steps of a monument erected to certain heroes who had long ago
fallen in battle, was greeted with a roar of acclamation like the
thunder of heaven’s own artillery. But even while the multitude still
shouted and cheered, the sight of another figure, which quietly ascended
to the same position, caused a sudden hush,--a gradually deepening
silence of amazement and awe,--and then finally swift recognition.

“The King!” cried a voice.

“Pasquin Leroy!” shouted another, who was answered by yells and shrieks
of derision.

“The King!” was again the cry. And as the vast crowd circled round and
round, its million eyes wonderingly upturned, Sergius Thord suddenly
lifted his cap and waved it:

“Ay! The King!” His voice rang over the heads of the people with a rich
thrill of command. “The King, who here declares himself the friend of
our Cause! The King, who is with us to-day of his own will, at his own
request, by his own choice!--without escort,--unarmed--defenceless! The
King! The King who has resolved to go with us, and demand justice for
his overtaxed and suffering subjects! The King, who is one with us!--who
seeks no greater kingliness than that of being loved and trusted by his

The surprise of this announcement was so truly overpowering, that for
the moment the mighty mass of men stood inert; then,--as the situation
flashed upon them, such a thunder of cheering broke out as seemed to
make the very earth rock and the houses in the square tremble. The King
himself, standing by Thord, grew pale as he heard it, and his eyes were
suffused with something like tears.

“By Heaven!” he murmured; “The love of this people is worth having!”

“Did you ever doubt it?” queried Thord slowly, eyeing him with a touch
of wonder not unmixed with jealousy; “There is only one power which
keeps a king on his throne--the confidence of the nation! You had nearly
lost that! For though there is nothing so easy to win, there is nothing
so easy to lose!”

“True!” said the monarch, his eyes still resting tenderly on the excited
multitude below him. “I have deserved little at the people’s hands--but
perhaps--when I am gone--” he paused abruptly, then with a smile
added--“Give us our marching orders, Sergius!”

Thord obeyed,--and very soon, under his command, the huge multitude
arranged itself in blocks, or regiments, perfectly organised in
different companies, and entirely prepared to keep order. Dividing into
equal lines they made way quickly and with enthusiasm as they perceived
the King’s charger, which, richly caparisoned, had been brought for his
Majesty at Thord’s own earnest request.

When all was ready, the King sprang into the saddle, and gathering the
reins in one hand, sat for a moment bare-headed, the people
surging round him with repeated outbursts of applause. Without
a weapon,--without a single man of his own household to bear him
company,--without any armed escort,--he remained there enthroned;--the
centre,--not of ‘society,’--but of the People, who gathered round him as
their visible Head, with as much shouting and enthusiasm and worship,
as if he had, in his own person, made the conquest, single-handed, of a
hundred nations! Never, in his most gorgeous apparel,--never, even when
robed and crowned in state, had he looked so noble; never had he seemed
so worthy of the highest honour, reverence and admiration, as now! At
a signal from Thord, who led the way on foot, the thousands of the
city began to march to the House of Government, all gathering round one
principal figure, that of their King. A group of workmen constituted
themselves his body-guard, protecting his proudly-stepping charger from
so much as a stone that might startle it or check its progress, and
thus--liberated from the protection of flunkeys and flatterers,--the
monarch, surrounded by his true subjects advanced together as one Body,
to challenge and overthrow a fraudulent Ministry, whose measures had
been drawn up and passed, not for the good of the country, but for the
financial advantage and protection of themselves.

Never was such a wondrous sight seen, as that almost interminable
procession through the broad thoroughfares of the city, headed by a
Socialist, and centred by a King! No Royal ceremonial, overburdened with
snobbish conventionalities and hypocritical parade, ever presented so
splendid and imposing a sight as that concentrated mass of the actual
people,--the working muscle and sinew of the land’s common weal,
marching in steady and triumphant order,--surging like the billows of
the sea around that brave ship, their Sovereign, cheering him to the
echo, and waving around him the flags of the country, while he,
still bare-headed, rode dauntless in their midst looking every inch a
king!--more kingly indeed than he had ever seemed, and more established
in the affections of his subjects than any living monarch of the time.
So was he brought with ceaseless acclamation to the Government House,
where, as all knew, he purposed denouncing Carl Pérousse;--and thus did
he assert in his own person that a king, supported by a nation, is more
powerful than any government built up by mere party agency!

And even so, at his best and bravest, two women looked upon him and
loved him! One, from the outskirts of the great crowd where, shrouded
close in her veil, she waited tremblingly near the Government buildings,
and saw him alight from his charger, and enter there, amid the wild
shoutings of the populace,--the other, from a high window in the Royal
Palace, where she leaned watching the crowd,--the sunlight catching the
diamonds at her breast and sparkling in her proud cold eyes. And over
the whole city rang the continuous and exultant cry:

“The King! The King!”

And perhaps only one soul, prophetic in instinct, foresaw any terror in
the triumph!--only one voice, low and tremulous and weighted with tears
and prayers, murmured:

“Ah, dear God! Would he were not a King!”



Next day it was known through the length and breadth of the city that
the King, so long judged as a political Dummy, had proved himself a
living, acting authority. Every journal in city and province led off
its news under the one chief heading,--‘The King’s Speech.’ The King
had spoken;--and with no uncertain voice. Cool, brilliant in wording,
concise in statement,--cuttingly correct in facts, convincing in
argument, his unexpected denouncement of Carl Pérousse, and the Pérousse
‘majority,’ swept the Government off their feet by its daring
courage, and still more daring veracity. Documentary evidence of the
dishonourable speculations with the public money which had been so
freely indulged in by the Secretary of State, aided and abetted by
the Premier, was handed by the King in person to the authorities whose
business it was to examine such proofs,--the dishonourable measures used
to retain the ‘majority’ were fully exposed, and the whole House stood
thunderstruck and mentally paralysed, under the straight accusation
and merciless condemnation launched at their own lax tolerance of such
iniquitous practices, by their reigning monarch. With perfect dignity
and impressive calm, the King quietly demanded whether M. Carl Pérousse
would be pleased to explain his actions? Whether he had anything to
say in response to the charges brought against him? To this last query,
after a dead silence, during which every eye was fixed on the defaulting
Minister, who, in the course of the Royal speech had seen every bulwark
of his own intended defence torn away from him, Pérousse, with an ashy
white countenance answered:


And the silence around him continued; a silence more expressive than any
outspoken word of scorn.

But more surprises were in store for the Ministry, which found itself
thus suddenly overthrown. The King announced the marriage of his son,
the Crown Prince, to ‘a daughter of the People’! Boldly, and with
an ardent passion of truth lighting up every feature of his handsome
countenance, he stated this overwhelming piece of news in a perfectly
matter-of-fact way, adding, that in consequence of the step taken,--a
step which he did not himself in any way regret,--the Crown Prince asked
to be allowed to resign the Throne in favour of his brother Rupert.

“Unless,” continued his Majesty, “the Nation should be proved ready to
accept the wife he has chosen. It is needless to add that my son has
married without my consent, and this is the reason of his present
absence from the country. If the Nation accepts his wife, he will return
to the Nation; if not, I am bound to say, knowing his mind, that there
is nothing to be done, but to declare Prince Rupert Heir to the Throne.
This, however, I personally desire may be left to the consideration and
vote of the people!”

And when the House rose on that astonishing afternoon, they knew
they were no longer a House,--they knew the Government was entirely
overthrown, and that there would be a new Ministry and a General
Election. They had to realise also, that their ‘Bills’ for imposing
fresh taxes on the people were mere waste paper,--and they heard
likewise with redoubled amazement that the King had decided to resign
half his revenues for the space of five years, to assist the deficit in
the National Exchequer.

At the conclusion of the whole unprecedented scene, they saw the King
received, as it were, into the arms of a frenzied crowd, numbering many
tens of thousands, which spread round all the Government buildings, and
poured itself in thick streams through every street and thoroughfare,
and they had to accept the fact that their ‘majority’ was reduced to
a minority so infinitesimal, amid the greater wave of popular resolve,
that it was not worth counting.

Carl Pérousse, leaving the House by a private door of egress, shamed,
disgraced and crestfallen as he was, dared not trust the very sight of
himself to such an overwhelming multitude, and managed by lucky chance
to escape unobserved. He was assisted in this manoeuvre by General
Bernhoff. The Chief of the Police perceived him slinking cautiously
along the side-wall of an alley where the crowd had not penetrated, and
helped him into a passing cab that he might be driven rapidly and safely
to his home.

“You will no doubt excuse me”--said the General with a slight
smile--“for not having acted more rigorously in the matter of the
suspected ‘Pasquin Leroy’! I am afraid I should never have summed up
sufficient impudence to ask the King to sign a warrant against himself!”

Pérousse muttered an inarticulate oath by way of reply. He realised
fully that the game for him was lost. His speech of defence, so
carefully prepared had been useless, for he could not have uttered it in
the face of the damnatory evidence against him pronounced by the King,
and verified by his own public actions. Yet his audacity had not, in the
main, deserted him. He knew that, owing to his proved defalcations
and fraudulent use of the public money, his own property would be
confiscated to the Crown,--but he had always kept himself well prepared
for emergencies, and had invested in foreign securities under various
assumed names. Turning his attention to America, he felt pretty sure he
could do something there,--but so far as his own country was concerned,
he submitted to the inevitable, feeling that his day was done.

“The Jew is always triumphant!” he said, as he opened Jost’s newspaper
next morning, and read a full account of the proceedings in the House,
described with all the ‘colour’ and gush of Jost’s most melodramatic
reporter. “There is no doubt a ‘leader’ on my ‘unhappy position’ as a
fallen, but once trusted Minister!”

He was right; there was! A gravely-reproachful, sternly-commiserating
‘leader,’ wherein the apparently impeccable and highly conscientious
writer ‘deplored’ the laxity of those who supported M. Carl Pérousse in
his ‘regrettable’ scheme of self-aggrandisement.

“The rascal!” ejaculated Pérousse, as he read. “If I ever get a fresh
start in the United States or South Africa, I’ll put him on a gridiron,
and roast him to slow music!”

Meanwhile the whole country went mad over the King. No man was ever so
idolised; no man was ever made the centre of more hero-worship. In all
the excitement of a General Election, the wave of loyalty rose to its
extremest height, and no candidate that was not ready to follow the
lines of reform laid down by the monarch, had a ghost of a chance of
being returned as a deputy. With the abolition of the tax on bread, the
popular jubilation increased; bonfires were lit on every hill,--rockets
flared up star-like from every rocky point upon the coast, and the
Nation gave itself entirely up to joy.

All the long dormant sentiment of the multitude was roused to a
fever-heat by the story of Prince Humphry’s marriage, and he too, next
to his father, became a veritable hero of romance in the eyes of the
people, for whom Love, and all pertaining to love-matters form the most
interesting part of life. Following his announcement in the House, the
King issued a ‘manifesto,’ setting forth the facts of his son’s union
with ‘One Gloria Ronsard, of The Islands,’ and requesting the vote of
the people for, or against, the Prince as Heir-Apparent to the Throne.

The result of this bold and candid reliance on the Nation was one which
could never have been foreseen by so-called ‘diplomatic’ statesmen, who
are accustomed to juggle with simple facts, and who strive to cover up
and conceal the too distinct plainness of truth. An electric thrill
of chivalrous enthusiasm pulsated through the entire country; and the
unanimous vote of the people was returned to the King in entire favour
of the Crown Prince and his chosen bride. Perhaps no one was more
astonished at this than the King himself. He had been prepared for
considerable friction; he had been quite sure of opposition on the part
of ‘Society,’ but, Society, moved for once from its usual selfishness by
the boldness and daring of a heroic king, had ranked itself entirely on
his side, and was ready and even anxious to accept in Prince Humphry a
new kind of ‘Cophetua,’ even if he had chosen to wed a beggar-maid! And
it so chanced that there were many persons who had seen Gloria,--and
among these was Sergius Thord, He had not only seen her, but known
her;--he had studied her character and qualities,--and was aware that
she possessed one of the most pure and beautiful of womanly souls;--and
though taken by surprise at the discovery that the young ‘sailor’ she
had wedded was no other than the Crown Prince, yet, after the experience
he had personally gone through with one ‘Pasquin Leroy,’ he could
scarcely feel that any news, even of the most wonderful kind, was
so wonderful after all! So that, as soon as he learned the truth, he
brought all his enormous ‘following’ into unanimity as regarded the
Prince’s romantic love-story; and ere long there was not one in the
metropolis at least, who did not consider the marriage a good thing, and
likely to weld even more closely together the harmonious relationship
between people and Throne.

And so it chanced, that even while the General Election was still going
on all over the country, an incessant popular clamour was made for the
instant return of the Prince to his native land. The papers teemed with
suggestions as to the ‘welcoming home’ of the young hero of romance and
his bride, and Professor von Glauben, mentally giddy with the whirl of
events, was nevertheless triumphantly elated.

“Now that you know everything,” he said to Sir Roger de Launay, “I hope
you are satisfied! My ‘jam-pot’ that you spoke of, has turned out to be
a special Sweetmeat for the whole nation!”

“I am very much surprised, I confess!” said Sir Roger slowly; “I should
hardly have thought such a love-story possible in these modern days.
And I should certainly never have given the nation credit for so much

“A nation is always sentimental!” declared the Professor; “What does
a Government exist for? Merely to keep national sentiment in order.
Ministers know well enough, that despite the various ‘Bills’ brought in
for material advantage and improvement, they have always to deal with
the imaginative aspiration of the populace, rather than their conception
of logic. For truly, the masses have no logic at all; they will not stop
to count the cost of an Army, but they will shout themselves hoarse at
the sight of the Flag! The Flag is the Sentiment; the Army is the
Fact. The King has secured all the votes of the nation on a question of
Sentiment only,--but there is this pleasant scientific ‘fact underlying
the sentiment,--Gloria is fit to be the mother of kings! And that is
what I will not say of any royally-born woman I know!”

Sir Roger was silent.

“Consider our present Queen as a mother only!” he went on; “Beautiful
and impassive as a snow-peak with the snow shining upon it! What of her
sons? The Crown Prince is the best of them,--but he has only been saved
from inherited mischief by his love for Gloria. The other two boys,
Rupert and Cyprian, will probably be selfish libertines!”

Sir Roger opened his eyes in astonishment.

“Why do you say that?” he asked; “They are harmless lads enough! Cricket
and football are enough to make them happy.”

“For the present, no doubt!” agreed Von Glauben; “But it sometimes
happens that the young human animal who expends all his brains on
kicking a football, is quite likely to expend another sort of force when
he grows up, in morally kicking other things! At least, that is how I
regard it. The over-cultivation of physical strength leads to mental
callousness and brutality. These are scientific points which require
discussion,--not with you,--but with a scientist. Nothing should be
overdone. Too much enervation and lack of athleticism leads to moral
deterioration certainly,--but so does too much ‘sport’ as they call it.
There is a happy medium to be obtained on both sides, but human beings
generally miss it. Prince Humphry, born of a beautiful, introspective,
selfish--yes, I repeat it!--selfish mother, would, if he had married a
hard-natured, cold and conventional wife, probably have been the most
indifferent, casual, and careless sovereign that ever reigned; but,
united as he is to a trusting, warm-hearted, loving, womanly woman like
Gloria, he will probably make himself the idol of the Nation.”

“Not more so than his father is!” said Sir Roger, with a smile.

“Ach so! That would be difficult, I grant you!” agreed the Professor;
“As I told you, Roger, at the beginning of this drama in which we have
both played our little parts; no harm ever came undeservedly to a brave
man with a good conscience!”

“True! And no harm has come to the King--as yet!” said Sir Roger
thoughtfully. “But I sometimes fear one man----!”

“Sergius Thord?” suggested Von Glauben; “To speak honestly, so do I! But
I watch him--I watch him closely! He loves Lotys, as a tiger loves its
mate,--and if he should ever suspect----!”

“Hush!” said Roger quickly; “Do not speak of it! I assure you I am
always on guard!”

“Good! So am I! But Thord is too busy just now climbing the hill to look
either backward or aside. When he reaches the summit, it is possible he
may see the whole landscape at a glance!”

“He will reach the summit very soon!” said De Launay; “His election as
deputy for the city, is certain. From the moment he announced himself as
candidate, there has been no opposition.”

“He will be returned by an overwhelming majority,” said the Professor;
“And he will gain all the power he has been working for. Also, with the
power, he will obtain all the difficulty, responsibility, disappointment
and bitterness. Power is a dangerous possession, unless it is
accompanied by a cool head; and in that our friend Sergius Thord is
lacking. He is a creature of impulse--and a savage creature too!--a
half-educated genius,--than which nothing in the shape of humanity is
more desperately difficult to manage!”

“Lotys can manage him!” said Sir Roger.

“That depends!” And the Professor rubbed his nose irritably. “Women are
excellent diplomatists up to a certain point, but their limit is reached
when they fall in love! Passion and enthusiasm transform them into quite
as absurd fools as--men!”

Sir Roger smiled, and changed the subject.

But in a few days, what had been foreshadowed in their conversation came
true. One of the chief results of the General Election was the triumphal
return of Sergius Thord as Deputy for the Metropolis by an enormous
majority; and in the evening of the day on which the polling was
declared, great crowds assembled beneath the windows of his
house,--that house so long known as the quarters of the Revolutionary
Committee,--roaring themselves hoarse with acclamation. He was,
of course, called out before them to speak,--and he yielded to the
clamorous demand, as perforce he was bound to do, but strangely enough,
with extreme reluctance.

A certain vague weariness depressed his spirits; his undisputed election
as one of the most important Government-representatives of the people,
lacked the savour of the triumph he had expected;--and like all those
who have worked for years to win a coveted post and succeed at last
in winning it, he was filled with the fatal satiety of accomplishment.
Power,--temporal power,--was after all not so great as it had seemed!
He had climbed--he had striven; but all the joy was contained in the
climbing and the striving. Now that he had gained his point there seemed
nothing left to prick afresh his flagging ambition. Nevertheless, he
succeeded in addressing his enthusiastic followers and worshippers with
something of his old fervour and fire,--sufficiently well, at any rate,
to satisfy them, and send them off with renewed shouts of exultation,
expressive of their continued reliance on his courage and ability. But,
when left alone at last, his heart suddenly failed him.

“What is the use of it!” he thought wearily; “True, I now represent the
city,--I lead its opinions--I am its mouth-piece for the State,--and
the wrongs and injuries done to the million are mine to bring before the
Government; and my business it will be to force remedial measures
for the same. But what then? There will be, there must be, constant
discussion, argument, contradiction,--for there are always conflicting
opinions in every aspect of human affairs,--and it will be my work to
put down all contradiction,--all opposition,--and to carry the People’s
Cause with a firm hand. Yet--after all, if I succeed, it will be the
King’s doing,--not mine! To him I partly owe my present power; the power
I had before, was _all_ my own!”

Sullen and silent he brooded on the changes in his fortunes with no very
satisfied mind. While he could not, as a brave man, refuse his respect
and homage to the monarch who had quietly made himself complete master
of the ‘Revolutionary’ organisation, and who had succeeded in turning
thousands of disaffected persons into ardent Loyalists, he was
nevertheless troubled by a lurking suspicion that Lotys had secretly
known and favoured the King’s scheme. Vaguely ashamed in his own mind
of the idea, he yet found himself giving way to it now and again, as he
remembered how she had defended his life,--not once but twice,--and how
she had often frankly declared her admiration for the unselfishness,
heroism, and tireless energy of the so-called ‘Pasquin Leroy.’ After
much perplexed meditation, he came at last to one resolve.

“She must be my wife!” he said, his eyes gleaming with a sudden fire
of passion and determination combined; “If,--as she says,--she does not
love me, she must learn to love me! Then, all will be well! With her,
it is possible I may reach still greater heights; without her, I can do

Meantime, while the results of the Election to what was now called ‘The
Royal Government,’ were being daily recorded in all parts of the
world, and the King himself, from a selection of the ablest and most
honourably-proved men of the time, was forming a new Ministry, the news
of these radical changes in the kingdom’s affairs, spreading rapidly
everywhere by cable, as news always spreads nowadays, reached a certain
far corner in one of the most beautiful provinces of India,--a corner
scarcely known to the conventional traveller,--where, in a wondrous
palace, lent to them by one of the most civilised and kindly of Oriental
potentates,--a palace surrounded by gardens that might have been a true
copy of the fabled Eden, Prince Humphry and the fair ‘Gloria’ of his
life, were passing a happy, ‘hidden-away’ time of perfect repose.

The evening on which they learned that their own nation demanded their
return was ‘like the night of Al-Kadir, better than a thousand months.’
All day long the heat had been intense,--and they had remained indoors
enjoying the coolness of marble courts and corridors, and plashing
fountains,--but with the sunset a soft breeze had sprung up, and Gloria,
passing into the shadiest corner of the gardens, had laid herself down
in a silken hammock swung between two broad sycamore trees, and there,
gently swaying to and fro, she watched her husband reading the various
European journals that had arrived for his host by that day’s mail.
Beautiful always, she had grown lovelier than ever in these halcyon days
of rest, when ‘Love took up the harp of Life and smote on all the chords
with might; Smote the chord of Self, that, trembling, pass’d in music
out of sight.’ To her native grace she now united a distinctive dignity
which added to her always gracious and queenly charm, and never had she
looked more exquisite than now, when rocking gently in the suspended
network of woven turquoise silk fringed with silver, she rested her head
against cushions of the same delicate hue, and turned her expressive
eyes enquiringly towards her husband,--wondering what kept him so
silent, and what was the cause of the little line of anxiety which
furrowed his brow. Clad in a loose diaphanous robe of white, with a
simple band of silver clasping it round her supple form, her rich hair
caught carelessly back with a knot of scarlet passion-flowers, she
looked a creature too fair for earth, a being all divine; and the Prince
presently turning his glances towards her, evidently thought so, from
the adoring tenderness with which he bent over her and kissed the
ripe, red, smiling lips which pouted so deliciously to take the offered

“They want us back, my Gloria!” he said; “The Nation asks for me--and
for _you_!”

She raised herself a little on one arm.

“Do they know all?”

“Yes! The King, my father, has announced everything concerning our
marriage, not only to the Government, but by special ‘manifesto’ to the
People. I did not think he would be so brave!”

“Or so true!” said Gloria, her eyes darkening and deepening with the
intensity of her thought. “Let me read this strange news, Humphry!”

He gave her the papers,--and a few tears sparkled on her lashes like
diamonds and fell, as with a beating heart she read of the complete
triumph of the King over the Socialist and Revolutionary party,--of
his march with the multitude to the Government House,--of his bold
denunciation of Carl Pérousse, ending in the utter overthrow of a
fraudulent Ministry,--and of his determination to renounce for five
years, one half his royal revenues in order to personally assist the
deficit in the National Exchequer.

“He is, in very truth a King!” she said, looking up with flushed cheeks
and sparkling eyes,--“Surely the noblest in the world!”

Prince Humphry’s face expressed wonderment as well as admiration.

“I have been utterly mistaken in him,”--he confessed,--“Or else,
something has greatly changed his ideas. I should never have deemed him
capable of running so much risk of his position, or of showing so much
heroism, candour and self-sacrifice. All my life I have been accustomed
to see him more or less indifferent to everything but his own pleasure,
and more or less careless of the griefs of others; but now it seems
as if he had kept himself back on purpose, only to declare his true
character more openly and boldly in the end!”

Gloria read on, with eagerness and interest, till she came to the
King’s ‘manifesto’ regarding his son’s marriage with ‘a daughter of the
People.’ She pointed to this expression with the tapering, rosy point of
her delicate little finger.

“That is me!” she said; “I _am_ a daughter of the People! I am proud of
the name!”

“You are my wife!” said the Prince; “And you are Crown Princess of the

She looked meditative.

“I am not sure I like that title so well!” she said surveying him archly
under the shadow of her long lashes; “Indeed--if _you_ were not Crown
Prince,--I should not like it at all!”

Prince Humphry smiled, and tenderly touched the scarlet passion-flowers
in her hair.

“But as I am Crown Prince, you will try to put up with it, my Gloria!”
 and he kissed her again. “We must return home, Sweetheart!--and as
speedily as possible,--though I am sorry our restful honey-time is

Gloria looked wistfully around her,--over the long smooth undulating
lawns, the thickets of myrtle and orange, the lovely deep groves of
trees, and away to the peaks of the distant dark blue hills, over which
a great golden moon was slowly rising.

“I am sorry too!” she said; “I could live always like this, in peace
with you, far, far away from all the world! Hark!”

She held up her hand to invite attention, as the delicious warble of a
nightingale, or ‘bul-bul’ broke the heated silence into liquid melody.
Her lover-husband took that little uplifted hand, and drawing it in his
own, kissed it fondly,--and so for a moment they were very quiet, while
the little brown bird of music poured from its palpitating throat a
cadence of heart-moving song. Gradually, the golden splendour of the
Indian moonlight widened through the trees, enveloping them in its clear
luminous radiance; and the two beautiful human creatures, gazing into
each other’s eyes with all the unspeakable rapture of a perfect love,
touched that wondrous height of pure mutual passion which makes things
temporal seem very far off, and things eternal very near.

“If life could always be like this,” murmured Gloria; “We should surely
understand God better! We should feel that He truly loved us, and wished
us to love each other! Ah, if only all the world were as happy as I am!”

“You will help to make a great part of it so, my