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Title: A servant of Satan - Romantic career of Prado the assassin
Author: Berard, Louis
Language: English
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  A

  SERVANT

  OF

  SATAN

  [Illustration: PRADO]

  Romantic Career of

  PRADO

  The ASSASSIN!

  _The
  Great Riddle
  which the French Police
  WERE UNABLE TO SOLVE._

  FAR
  AND NEAR
  SERIES, NO. 8. - 1889.

  STREET & SMITH NEW YORK.



[Illustration: The SELECT SERIES]


THE SELECT SERIES

OF

POPULAR AMERICAN COPYRIGHT NOVELS.

This Series is issued monthly, and fully illustrated. The following are
the latest issues:

  No. 22—A HEART'S BITTERNESS, by Bertha M. Clay.
  No. 21—THE LOST BRIDE, by Clara Augusta.
  No. 20—INGOMAR, by Nathan D. Urner.
  No. 19—A LATE REPENTANCE, by Mrs. Mary A. Denison.
  No. 18—ROSAMOND, by Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller.
  No. 17—THE HOUSE OF SECRETS, by Mrs. Harriet Lewis.
  No. 16—SIBYL'S INFLUENCE, by Mrs. Georgie Sheldon.
  No. 15—THE VIRGINIA HEIRESS, by May Agnes Fleming.
  No. 14—FLORENCE FALKLAND, by Burke Brentford.
  No. 13—THE BRIDE ELECT, by Annie Ashmore.
  No. 12—THE PHANTOM WIFE, by Mrs. M. V. Victor.
  No. 11—BADLY MATCHED, by Helen Corwin Pierce.


[Illustration: Yours truly

Prado.]


  THE FAR AND NEAR SERIES—NO. 8.

  ISSUED MONTHLY.

  SUBSCRIPTION PRICE, $3.00 PER YEAR.      JUNE, 1889.

  _Entered at the Post-Office, New York, as Second-Class Matter._


  A SERVANT OF SATAN.

  Romantic Career of PRADO the Assassin.

  From Notes Communicated to a Friend on the Eve of His Execution.

  An Extraordinary Record of Crime in Many Lands—He
  was Reared in a Royal Palace.

  The Great Riddle which the French Police were Unable to Solve.

  By LOUIS BERARD.


  NEW YORK:

  STREET & SMITH, Publishers,

  31 Rose Street.



  Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1889,

  BY STREET & SMITH,

  In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.



PREFACE.


“Prado was a wonderful fellow,” said Chief Inspector Byrnes, of the New
York police, recently, “and for criminal ingenuity and devilishness
stands without a peer. I question whether cupidity lay at the
foundation of his diabolical work, inclining to the belief that some
great wrong worked on his mind and embittered him against the wealthier
members of the class of women whom he selected as his victims.
Certainly the opening chapters of the story would indicate as much.
The fact that this recital of Prado's crimes is made up from notes
furnished by the man himself makes it unusually interesting, and the
splendidly written and graphically illustrated story will find a place
in the scrap-book of every police detective in the country.

“I do not think a career like Prado's in Paris could be possible in
this city. Our police system is so different from that of Paris that we
can weave a net about criminals much easier. We do not have to unreel
miles of red tape before starting out on a hunt for criminals, but
are at work with scores of detectives, aided by the entire force, if
necessary, before a victim of murder is fairly cold. We seek motives,
study the antecedents and acquaintances of the slain, and, following
clew after clew, we make it so warm for an assassin that he seeks
safety rather than a duplication of crime. Prado, however, was an
assassin far above the average of men in intelligence and ingenuity,
and gave evidence of having moved in high circles of society, and I
should not be surprised if the story will make clear his identity to
students of the ‘Almanac de Gotha.’”—_New York World._



A SERVANT OF SATAN.



PROLOGUE.


It was at Madrid, in the month of April, 1880, that I first made the
acquaintance of the extraordinary man, who, under the pseudonym of
“Prado” met his fate beneath the Paris guillotine. I had just driven
back into town from witnessing the execution by the “garrote” of the
regicide Francisco Otero, and was in the act of stepping from my
brougham, when suddenly the crowd assembled on the Puerto del Sol
parted as if by magic to give place to a runaway carriage. I had
barely time to note the frantic efforts of the coachman to stop the
onward course of the frightened horses, when there was a terrible
crash, and the victoria was shattered to splinters against one of the
heavy posts on the square. The coachman, still clutching hold of the
reins, was torn from the box, and dragged some hundred yards farther
along the ground, before the horses were stopped and he could be
induced to release his hold of the ribbons. To the surprise of all the
spectators, he escaped with a few bruises. His master, however—the
only other occupant of the carriage—was less fortunate. Hurled by the
shock with considerable violence to the pavement, almost at my very
feet, he remained unconscious for some minutes. When at length he
recovered his senses, and attempted to rise with my assistance, it was
found that he had broken his ankle, and was unable to stand upright.
Placing him in my trap, I drove him to the address which he gave me—a
house in the Calle del Barquillo—and on our arrival there, assisted
the door porter and some of the other servants to carry him up stairs
to a very handsome suite of apartments on the second floor. On taking
my departure, he overwhelmed me with thanks for what he was pleased
to call my kindness, and entreated me to do him the favor of calling,
handing me at the same time a card bearing the name of Comte Linska de
Castillon.

A couple of days later, happening to be in the neighborhood of the
Calle del Barquillo, I dropped in to see how he was getting on. He
received me with the greatest cordiality, and so interesting was
his conversation that it was quite dark before I left the house. It
turned out that he, too, had been present at the execution of the
wretched Otero, and that he was on his way home when his horses became
frightened and bolted. After discussing all the horrible details of the
death of the regicide, the conversation took the direction of capital
punishment in foreign countries—a theme about which he displayed the
most wonderful knowledge.

From the graphic manner in which he described the strange tortures
and cruel methods of punishment practiced at the courts of the native
princes in India and China, it was evident that he was speaking of
scenes which he had witnessed, and not from mere hearsay. He seemed
equally well acquainted with the terrors of lynch law in the frontier
territories of the United States, and with the military executions of
spies and deserters in warfare. In short, it became clear to me that he
was a great traveler, and that he was as well acquainted with America
and Asia as he was with the ins and outs of almost every capital in
Europe. His French, his Spanish, his German, and his English, were all
equally without a trace of foreign accent. His manners were perfect,
and displayed unmistakable signs of birth and breeding. Although not
above the ordinary stature, he was a man of very compact and muscular
build. Dressed in the most perfect and quiet taste, his appearance,
without being foppish, was one of great _chic_ and elegance. No trace
of jewelry was to be seen about his person. His hands and feet were
small and well shaped; his mustache was black, as were also his large
and luminous eyes. His hair, slightly gray toward the temples, showed
traces of age, or, perhaps, of a hard life. But the most remarkable
thing about him was his smile, which seemed to light up his whole face,
and which was singularly winning and frank. I confess I took a great
fancy to the man, who at the time was exceedingly popular in Madrid
society. He was to be seen in many of the most exclusive _salons_, was
present at nearly all the ministerial and diplomatic receptions, and
apparently enjoyed universal consideration. Our intimacy continued
for about a couple of years, during the course of which I had the
opportunity of rendering him one or two more slight services. Toward
the end of 1882, I was obliged to leave Madrid rather suddenly, being
summoned to Torquay by the dangerous illness of my mother, who is an
English woman, and I did not return to Spain until several years later,
when I found that Comte Linska de Castillon had meanwhile gone under—in
a financial sense—and had disappeared from the surface.

It is unnecessary to describe here the horror and consternation with
which I learned that “Prado,” the man charged with numerous robberies
and with the murder of the demi-mondaine, Marie Aguetant, was no other
than my former friend, Comte Linska de Castillon. Of course, I made
a point of attending the trial. I confess, however, that I had some
difficulty in recognizing in the rather unprepossessing individual
in the prisoner's dock the once elegant _viveur_ whom I had known at
Madrid. His features had become somewhat bloated and coarse, as if by
hard living, his dress was careless and untidy, his hair gray and his
eyes heavy. It was only on the rare occasions when he smiled that his
face resumed traces of its former appearance. Day after day I sat in
court and listened to the evidence against him. The impression which
the latter left on my mind was that, however guilty he undoubtedly had
been of other crimes—possibly even of murder—he was, nevertheless,
innocent of the death of Marie Aguetant, the charge on which he was
executed. The crime was too brutal and too coarse in its method to have
been perpetrated by his hand. Moreover, the evidence against him in the
matter was not direct, but only circumstantial. Neither the jewelry
nor the bonds which he was alleged to have stolen from the murdered
woman have ever been discovered. Neither has the weapon with which the
deed was committed been found, and the only evidence against him was
that of two women, both of loose morals, and both of whom considered
themselves to have been betrayed by him. The one, Eugenie Forrestier, a
well-known _femme galante_, saw in the trial a means of advertising her
charms, which she has succeeded in doing in a most profitable manner.
The other, Mauricette Courouneau, the mother of his child, had fallen
in love with a young German and was under promise to marry him as soon
as ever the trial was completed, and “Prado's head had rolled into the
basket of Monsieur de Paris.”

Shortly after the sentence had been pronounced upon the man whom I had
known as “Comte Linska de Castillon” I visited him in his prison, and
subsequently at his request called several times again to see him.
He seemed very calm and collected. Death apparently had no terrors
for him, and on one occasion he recalled the curious coincidence that
our first meeting had been on our way home from the execution of the
regicide Otero. The only thing which he seemed to dread was that
his aged father—his one and solitary affection in the world—should
learn of his disgrace. In answer to my repeated inquiries as to who
his father was he invariably put me off with a smile, exclaiming,
“Demain, demain!” (to-morrow). He appeared, however, to be filled with
the most intense bitterness against the other members of his family,
step-mother, half-brothers and sisters, who, he declared, had been the
first cause of his estrangement from his father and of his own ruin.

[Illustration: “YOU WILL FIND BOTH IN THIS SEALED PACKET.”]

Although condemned criminals are never informed of the date of their
execution until a couple of hours before they are actually led to the
scaffold, yet “Prado,” or “Castillon” appeared to have an intuition of
the imminence of his death. For two days before it took place, when I
was about to take leave, after paying him one of my customary visits,
he suddenly exclaimed:

“I may not see you again. It is possible that this may be our last
interview. You are the only one of my former friends who has shown me
the slightest kindness or sympathy in my trouble. It would be useless
to thank you. I am perfectly aware that my whole record must appear
repulsive to you, and that your conduct toward me has been prompted by
pity more than by any other sentiment. Were you, however, to know my
true story you would pity me even more. The statements which I made
to M. Guillo, the Judge d'Instruction who examined me, were merely
invented on the spur of the moment, for the purpose of showing him that
my powers of imagination were, at any rate, as brilliant as his own. No
one, not even my lawyer, knows my real name or history. You will find
both in this sealed packet. It contains some notes which I have jotted
down while in prison, concerning my past career.”

As he said this he placed a bulky parcel in my hand.

“I want you, however,” he continued, “to promise me two things. The
first is that you will not open the outer covering thereof until after
my execution; the second, that you will make no mention or reference
to the name inscribed on the inner envelope until you see the death of
its possessor announced in the newspapers. It is the name of my poor
old father. He is in failing health and can scarcely live much longer.
When he passes away you are at liberty to break the seals and to use
the information contained therein in any form you may think proper. The
only object I have in now concealing my identity is to spare the old
gentleman any unnecessary sorrow and disgrace.”

He uttered these last words rather sadly and paused for a few minutes
before proceeding.

“With regard to the remainder of my family,” said he at last, “I am
totally indifferent about their feelings in the matter.”

“One word more, my dear Berard,” he continued. “I am anxious that
these papers should some day or other be made known to the world.
They will convince the public that at any rate I am innocent of the
brutal murder for which I am about to suffer death. My crimes have
been numerous; they have been committed in many different lands, and
I have never hesitated to put people out of the way when I found them
to be dangerous to my interests. But whatever I may have done has been
accomplished with skill and delicacy. My misdeeds have been those of
a man of birth, education, and breeding, whereas the slayer of Marie
Aguetant was, as you will find out one of these days, but a mere vulgar
criminal of low and coarse instincts, the scum indeed of a Levantine
gutter.

“And now good-by my dear Berard. I rely on you to respect the wishes of
a man who is about to disappear into Nirwana. You see,” he added with a
smile, “I am something of a Buddhist.”

Almost involuntarily I grasped both his hands firmly in mine. I was
deeply moved. All the powers of attraction which he had formerly
exercised on me at Madrid came again to the surface, and it was he who
gently pushed me out of the cell in order to cut short a painful scene.

Two days later one of the most remarkable criminals of the age expiated
his numerous crimes on the scaffold in the square in front of the
Prison de la Grande Roquette.

Late last night, when alone in my library, I broke the seals of the
outer envelope of the parcel which he had confided to me. When I saw
the name inscribed on the inner covering I started from my chair. It
was a name of worldwide fame, one of the most brilliant in the “Almanac
de Gotha,” and familiar in every court in Europe. However, mindful
of my promise to the dead, I locked the package away in my safe. My
curiosity, however, was not put to a very severe test, for about a week
later the papers of every country in Europe announced the death of the
statesman and soldier whose name figured on the cover of the parcel of
documents.

Without further delay I broke the seals of the inner wrapper. The whole
night through and far on into the next day, I sat poring over the
sheets of closely written manuscript—the confessions of the man who had
been guillotined under the assumed name of “Prado.” They revealed an
astounding career of crime and adventure in almost every corner of the
globe, and thoroughly impressed me with the conviction that, however
innocent he may have been of the murder of Marie Aguetant, yet he fully
deserved the penalty which was finally meted out to him. Of scruples
or of any notions of morality he had none, and so cold-blooded and
repulsive is the cynicism which this servant of Satan at times displays
in the notes concerning his life which he placed at my disposal, I
have been forced to use considerable discretion in editing them. While
careful to reproduce all the facts contained in the manuscript, I have
toned down a certain Zola-like realism of expression impossible to
render in print, and have shaped the disjointed memoranda and jottings
into a consecutive narrative.

One word more before finally introducing the real Prado to the world.
However great my desire to accede to the last wish of my former friend,
I cannot bring myself to disclose to the general public the real name
of the unfortunate family to which he belonged. There are too many
innocent members thereof who would be irretrievably injured by its
disclosure.

But the pseudonym which I have employed is so transparent, and the
history of the great house in question so well known, that all who have
any acquaintance of the inner ring of European society will have no
difficulty in recognizing its identity.

  LOUIS BERARD.



CHAPTER I.

A SECRET MARRIAGE.


Count Frederick von Waldberg, who was tried and guillotined at Paris
under the name of Prado, was born at Berlin in 1849 and was named
after King Frederick William IV. of Prussia, who, together with Queen
Elizabeth, was present at the christening and acted as sponsor. This
somewhat exceptional distinction was due to the fact that the child's
father, Count Heinrich von Waldberg, was not only one of the favorite
aides-de-camp generals of his majesty, but had also been a friend and
companion of the monarch from his very boyhood.

Although at the time the general had not yet achieved the great
reputation as a statesman which he subsequently attained, yet he
was already known throughout Europe as an ambassador of rare skill
and diplomacy, and as one of the most influential personages of the
Berlin Court. Married in 1847 to a princess of the reigning house of
Kipper-Deutmolde, a woman of singular beauty, little Frederick was the
first and only offspring of their union. The child was scarcely a year
old when the mother died at Potsdam, after only a few days' illness,
leaving the whole of her fortune in trust for the boy. The general was
inconsolable, and so intense was his grief that for some days it was
feared that his mind would give way. The very kindest sympathy was
displayed by both the king and his consort, the latter in particular
being deeply moved by the motherless condition of little Frederick.
During the next three years the child spent much of his time in her
majesty's private apartments, both at Berlin and Potsdam, and, herself
childless, Queen Elizabeth did her utmost to act the part of a mother
to the pretty curly headed boy.

After four years of widowhood the general became convinced that it was
not “good for man to be alone,” and cast his eyes about him in search
of another wife. Greatly to the disgust of the beauties of the Prussian
capital, who were only too ready to surrender their hands and their
hearts to the high rank and station of Count von Waldberg, his choice
fell on an Italian lady, whose sole recommendation in his eyes was, as
he publicly proclaimed to his friends, that she bore certain traces of
resemblance to his dead princess.

Several children were born of this second marriage, and, as usual in
such cases, poor little Frederick suffered the ordinary fate of a
step-child. The new Countess von Waldberg could not bring herself to
forgive the boy for being the heir to a large fortune, while her own
children had nothing but a meager portion to which they could look
forward. Moreover she was intensely jealous of the marked favor and
interest which both the king and the queen displayed toward their
godson whenever the family came to Berlin. As, however, the general
spent the first ten years of his second marriage at the foreign
capitals to which he was accredited as ambassador, Frederick but
rarely saw his royal friends. His childhood was thoroughly embittered
by the repellent attitude of his step-mother and of his half brothers
and sisters toward him. His father, it is true, was always kind and
affectionate; but engrossed by the cares and duties of his office, he
often allowed whole days to pass without seeing his eldest son, whose
time was wholly spent in the company of servants, grooms, and other
inferiors.

At the age of fifteen he was entered at the School of Cadets at
Brandenburg, and while there was frequently detached to act as page
of honor at the various court functions at Berlin and Potsdam. He was
scarcely eighteen years old when he received his first commission as
ensign in a regiment of the foot-guards, Queen Elizabeth making him a
present of his first sword on the occasion.

Frederick, in receipt of a handsome allowance from the trustees of his
mother's fortune, now entered on a course of the wildest dissipation.
The fame of his exploits on several occasions reached the ears of the
king, who kindly, but firmly, reproved the lad for his conduct, and
urged him to remember what was due to names so honored as those of
his father and his dead mother. Nothing, however, seemed to have any
effect in checking the career of reckless and riotous extravagance
on which he had embarked, and at length, after being subjected to
numerous reprimands and sentences of arrest, he was punished by being
transferred to a line regiment engaged in frontier duty on the Russian
border. His dismay at being thus exiled from the court and capital
to the wilds of Prussian Poland was impossible to describe, and he
bade farewell to his numerous friends of both sexes as if he had been
banished for life to the mines of Siberia. The most painful parting of
all was from a pretty little girl, whom he had taken from behind the
counter of “Louise's” famous flower shop, and installed as his mistress
in elegant apartments near the “Thier Garten.”

Rose Hartmann was a small and captivating blonde, with dark-blue eyes,
fringed with long black lashes. The lovers were at that time in the
honey-moon of their liaison, and while Frederick was sincerely and
deeply attached to the girl, she on her side was chiefly attracted
by the luxuries and pleasures which he had placed within her reach.
Whereas he was almost heart-broken at the idea of leaving her, she
only apprehended in the separation a sudden end to all the advantages
of a life of ease and indulgence and a return to her former obscure
existence. To make a long story short, she played her cards so well
during the last days of the young lieutenant's stay at Berlin, that
on the eve of his departure she induced him to contract a secret
marriage with her. It is needless to add that this was a fatal step,
as far as the future career of Frederick was concerned. But he was
scarcely nineteen years old at the time, and in the hands of a clever
and designing woman several years his senior. Of course, they adopted
every possible measure to prevent their altered relations from becoming
known, for in the first place German officers are prohibited, under
severe penalties, from marrying without having previously obtained
an official authorization from the Minister of War; and secondly,
Frederick was perfectly aware of the intense indignation with which
both his father and the royal family would regard such a terrible
misalliance. Two days after the ceremony Frederick left for his new
garrison, promising Rose that he would make speedy arrangements whereby
she would be enabled to rejoin him.

In due course he arrived at his destination—a dreary-looking village in
the neighborhood of Biala—and was received with considerable coldness
by his new colonel and fellow-officers who did not particularly
relish the notion that their regiment should be regarded as a kind of
penitentiary for offending guardsmen. The commander, in particular,
was a thorough martinet, who looked with extreme disfavor on all the
mannerisms and dandified airs of the young count. Thoroughly out of
sympathy with his uncongenial messmates, Frederick soon began to feel
oppressed by the monotony and solitude of his existence, and repeatedly
urged Rose by letter and telegram to join him. This, however, she
was in no hurry to do, as she naturally preferred the gay life of
the capital, with plenty of money to spend and numerous admirers, to
the dreariness and discomfort of a Polish village in the middle of
winter. At length, however, Frederick's letters grew so pressing that
delay was no longer possible, and she started for Biala with a perfect
mountain of luggage. On her arrival there she was met by her husband,
who was beside himself with joy at seeing her again. Of course, it was
more than ever necessary that their true relationship should remain a
secret, and accordingly Rose took up her residence under an assumed
name at the solitary inn of the village where Frederick was quartered.
Every moment that he could spare from his military duties he spent
with her, and it is scarcely necessary to state that their apparently
questionable relations were soon the talk of the whole place. The
person, however, who felt herself the most aggrieved by the presence
of Rose in the village was the colonel's wife, who was profoundly
indignant that the “woman” of a mere lieutenant should presume to
cover herself with costly furs and wear magnificent diamonds, whereas
she—good lady—was forced to content herself with cloaks lined with
rabbit-skin and a total absence of jewelry. Morning, noon, and night
she assailed her lord and master on the subject, and to such a pitch of
irritation she had brought him by her vituperations that, when at the
end of a week he finally decided to summon Count von Waldberg to his
presence, he was in a frame of mind bordering on frenzy.

“Your conduct, sir, is a scandal and a disgrace to the regiment,” was
the greeting which he offered to the young lieutenant, as the latter
stepped into his room. “You appear to be lost to all sense of decency
and shame.”

Frederick, pale to the very lips, stepped rapidly forward and looked
his chief defiantly in the face, exclaiming as he did so:

“I am at a loss to understand, colonel, in what manner I have merited
such a torrent of abuse.”

“You know perfectly well to what I am alluding,” retorted the colonel.
“How dare you bring that infernal woman to this place, and install her
right under our very nose here at the inn? I don't intend to have any
of these Berlin ways here. If you can't do without her, have the good
taste, at least, to keep her at Biala, where there are houses for women
of that class.”

With almost superhuman efforts to remain calm, the young officer
murmured hoarsely:

“I must insist, sir, on your speaking of the lady——”

“Lady, indeed!” fairly yelled the colonel, who was becoming black in
the face with rage; “that vile——”

As he uttered these words he was felled to the ground by a terrific
blow in the face from Frederick, who exclaimed as he struck him:

“She is my wife, you scoundrel!”



CHAPTER II.

A SHOCKED FATHER.


The sun was just rising from behind Vesuvius when one of those hideous
and awkward-looking cabs which infest the streets of Naples crawled
up to the park gates of a handsome villa on the road to Posilipo.
Carelessly tossing a five-lire note to the driver, a young man whose
travel-stained appearance showed traces of a long journey jumped to
the ground and violently rang the bell. Some minutes elapsed before
the porter was sufficiently aroused from his sleep to realize the fact
that a stranger was waiting for admittance, and when he finally issued
forth to unlock the gates, his face bore manifest evidence of the
intense disgust with which he regarded the premature disturbance of his
ordinarily peaceful slumbers.

“Is this the Count von Waldberg's villa?” inquired the stranger.

“Yes,” replied the porter in a gruff voice. “What of that?”

“I want to speak to him at once. Unlock the gate.”

“Indeed! You want to see his excellency?”

“At once!”

“At this hour? Per Bacco! Who has ever heard of such a thing? You will
have to come back later in the day, my young friend—very much later in
the day—if you wish to be granted the honor of an audience,” and with
that he turned away and was about to leave the stranger standing in the
road, when suddenly steps were heard approaching along the gravel path
which led up to the villa, and a tall, soldierly figure appeared in
view.

“Good morning, Beppo; what brings you out of bed at this unearthly hour
of the morning? This is rather unusual, is it not?”

“It is, indeed, Sig. Franz. It is a young fellow outside there who
actually insists on seeing his excellency at once.”

On hearing this Franz, who was the general's confidential valet, took a
cursory glance at the stranger, and suddenly seizing the pompous porter
by the shoulder, caused him to wheel round with such violence as to
almost destroy his equilibrium.

“Open, you fool! It is the young count! What do you mean by keeping him
waiting out in the road? Are you bereft of your senses?”

Snatching the keys from the hands of the astonished Italian he brushed
past him, threw open the gates and admitted Frederick, for it was he.

“Herr Graf, Herr Graf, what an unexpected pleasure is this. How
delighted his excellency will be!”

“I don't know so much about that, Franz, but I want to speak to my
father at once. Let him know that I am here, and ask him to receive me
as soon as possible.”

After conducting Frederick to a room on the first floor of the villa
and attending to his wants the old servant left him to notify the
general of his son's arrival.

The young man had meanwhile dragged a low arm-chair to the open window,
and sat gazing with a tired and troubled expression at the magnificent
landscape stretched out before him.

Four days had elapsed since the exciting scene described in the last
chapter. The violence of the blow inflicted by Frederick had caused
the colonel to fall heavily against the brass corner of a ponderous
writing-table, cutting a deep gash across his forehead, and the blood
trickled freely from the wound as he lay unconscious on the ground.
The sight of the prostrate figure of his commanding officer recalled
the young lieutenant to his senses, and he realized in a moment the
terrible consequences of his act. Visions of court-martial, life-long
incarceration in a fortress, or even death, flashed like lightning
through his brain and, rushing from the room, he hastened to his
stables. Hastily saddling the fleetest of the three horses which he had
brought from Berlin, he galloped at break-neck speed to the nearest
point of the frontier, and within an hour after the incident was out of
German territory, and for the moment, at any rate, safe from pursuit.
Four hours after passing the border line he rode into the Austrian town
of Cracow, and alighted at the Hotel de Saxe. Having but little money
about him at the moment of his flight, he disposed of his horse to the
innkeeper, and with the proceeds of the sale purchased an outfit of
civilian clothes in lieu of his uniform, and a ticket to Naples, where
his father was spending the winter.

Before his departure for Cracow, Frederick posted a letter to Rose
instructing her to lose no time in leaving the neighbourhood of Biala
and to proceed to Berlin, where she was to remain until he wrote to her
from Naples.

His object in proceeding to the latter place was easy to understand.
He knew that the general was the only man who possessed sufficient
influence in the highest quarters to venture to intercede on his
behalf, and although he was acquainted with his father's strict ideas
on all questions pertaining to military discipline, yet he retained a
faint hope that parental affection would overpower the former and would
induce him to regard, with a certain amount of indulgence, his eldest
son's conduct. Moreover, Frederick was at the time in great financial
difficulties. The debts which he had contracted before leaving Berlin
were enormous. His appeal to the trustees of the fortune left to him
by his mother for an increase of his allowance, or, at any rate, for
an advance sufficient to stave off the most pressing claims, had been
met by a stern refusal, and the “cent per cent. gentry” of the capital
proved equally obdurate in declining to loan any further sums on the
strength of the inheritance due him at his majority. On the other
hand, it was perfectly clear to Frederick that he would be obliged to
remain absent from Germany for several years, until the incident with
his colonel had blown over. But he could not hope to do this without
money—especially now that he was married—and the only person from
whom there was the slightest prospect of his obtaining any financial
assistance was his father.

He was in no cheerful frame of mind as he thought of all this while
awaiting his father's summons. Had the latter already received news
of his son's conduct? That was hardly possible. It was too soon. How,
then, was he to explain the events of the last ten days to the general,
of whom he stood somewhat in awe?

His meditations were interrupted by Franz's return to tell him that
General von Waldberg was ready to receive him.

“His excellency would hardly believe me when I told him of the Herr
Graff's arrival,” said Franz, with a beaming smile, “but he is much
delighted, as I knew he would be.”

Frederick's heart sank as he pictured to himself the grief and anger
which the discovery of the true reason of his unexpected visit would
cause his father.

His hesitating knock at the general's door was answered by a cheery
“Come in;” and hardly had he entered the room when he found himself
clasped in his father's arms. General Count von Waldberg was still
at that time a remarkably handsome and young-looking man. Tall, and
straight as a dart, his appearance was extremely aristocratic; his
hair and mustache were tinged with gray, but his bright blue eyes were
undimmed by age.

After the first greetings had been exchanged, the general sat down on a
couch, and said, laughingly:

“Now, my dear boy, tell me by what trick you have managed to obtain
from your new colonel a leave of absence after such a short service in
his regiment. I know you of old. What fresh deviltry have you been up
to? Come, make a clean breast of it at once, and let us have it over.”

[Illustration: FREDERICK CONFESSES TO HIS FATHER.]

“My dear father,” murmured the young man, with downcast eyes, “I am
afraid that the confession which I have to make will pain you very
much. The fact is, I—I—took French leave.”

“Come, come, that is more serious than I thought,” exclaimed the
general, whose genial smile had suddenly given way to a very stern
expression. “Surely you are joking. You don't mean to tell me that you
are here without the permission of your superiors?”

Frederick bent his head, and did not reply.

“But are you aware that this is nothing less than an act of desertion?”
thundered the general, exasperated by his son's silence, and starting
to his feet. “You must be bereft of your senses, sir, to dare to tell
me that a Count von Waldberg has deserted from his regiment. Speak!
Explain. I command you!”

“I was provoked beyond all endurance by my colonel,” replied Frederick,
in short, broken sentences. “We quarrelled, and in a moment of blind
passion I struck him a blow in the face which felled him to the ground.
I was compelled to make my escape in order to avoid a court-martial.”

The general, now as pale as his son, advanced a step toward him, and,
laying his hand heavily on the young man's shoulder, said, in a tone of
voice which betrayed the most intense emotion:

“Do you mean to say that you actually struck your superior officer! and
that, after committing this unpardonable crime, you made matters worse
by deserting, like a coward, instead of at least displaying the courage
to remain and face the consequences, whatever they might be? Great God,
that I should live to see this day?”

Frederick, who by this time thoroughly realized that the only course to
adopt lay in throwing himself entirely on his father's mercy, muttered,
in a low voice:

“The colonel, who has always displayed the most marked dislike toward
me ever since I joined his regiment, summoned me five days ago, to
reprimand me concerning my relations with a lady who was staying at the
inn of our village—in fact, who had come there on my account.”

“Ah!” exclaimed the general, “I was sure of it. Another of those
insane scrapes into which you are always being led by some disreputable
_cocotte_.”

“Stay, father,” interrupted Frederick. “Not a word more, I entreat you.
It was just for such a remark that I struck my colonel. I will not hear
a word against the woman who is my wife.”

“Your wife! your wife! Do you want me to believe that you have
married without my consent—without the permission of the military
authorities—without the approval of your family and of your king? Who,
then, is the woman whom you were so ashamed to acknowledge?”

“A pure and noble-hearted girl, whose only sin is her humble birth,”
retorted Frederick.

“Enough, sir! Tell me her name, and how you came to know her.”

“Her name was Rose Hartmann, and she——Well, she was a shop-girl at
Louise's when I first made her acquaintance.”

The general had by this time become perfectly calm, but it was a calm
that boded far worse than his former anger.

“Look here, Frederick,” said he, very coldly, “I have full reason
to mistrust you now; and before I take any step in this unfortunate
matter, I must write to Berlin, and to your regiment, for the purpose
of discovering the full extent of your misconduct. You will be good
enough to consider yourself as under arrest here. I forbid you to leave
your room under any pretext whatever. I will tell your step-mother that
you are ill, and can see nobody, not even her, and I shall take good
care that all our friends are left in ignorance of your presence here.
And now leave me. I want to be alone. I will send for you when I want
you.”

Frederick, thoroughly cowed by his father's manner, murmured some words
of regret and explanation, but the general pointed toward the door, and
he left his presence with a heavy heart.

Returning to the rooms to which Franz had conducted him on his arrival,
he gave himself up to the gloomiest forebodings, and spent hours in
gazing abstractedly out of the windows. His meals were brought him by
Franz, whose feelings can more easily be imagined than described.

On the third day after his interview with his father, one of the
Italian servants knocked at the door, and handed him a letter, which
bore the Biala postmark, and which evidently had escaped the vigilance
of both the general and of Franz. It was from Rose, and its contents
agitated him beyond all measure. She wrote him that she had been
subjected to the greatest indignity after his flight—in fact, treated
like a mere common camp-follower—and had been turned out of the inn
and driven from the village by the orders of the colonel. She added
that, having but little money, she had not been able to proceed any
farther than Biala, where she was now awaiting his instructions and
remittances. She concluded by declaring that if after all she had
suffered for his sake, he did not at once send a sufficient sum to
enable her to leave the place and to return to Berlin, she would put
an end to her days, having no intention to continue to live as she was
doing now.

Frederick was nearly heart-broken. He had no funds, beyond a few lire
notes, and, in his present position, no means of obtaining any except
through his father. He therefore immediately wrote a few lines, which
he sent to the general by Franz, entreating him to let him have at once
a check for a couple of hundred thalers.

The general's reply was a decided refusal, and couched in such terms as
to leave no glimmer of hope that he would relent in the matter.

Driven to desperation, Frederick turned over in his mind a hundred
different schemes for raising the money he required, but he was forced
to acknowledge to himself that each was more hare-brained than the
other; and in the bitterness of his heart he ended by cursing the day
he was born.

That night, after all the inmates of the villa had retired to rest,
they were startled by several pistol-shots, and the sound of a
violent scuffle in the general's library, on the ground floor. The
general himself and several of the men-servants rushed to the spot
from which the noise proceeded, and discovered Frederick, who, in his
dressing-gown, stood near a shattered window, with a smoking revolver
in his hand.

[Illustration: HE HELD A SMOKING REVOLVER IN HIS HAND.]

As they entered the room Frederick fired another shot through the
window and shouting, “I have hit one of them, I am sure. I heard a
scream!” jumped into the garden and rushed across the lawn and through
the shrubbery, followed by the general and the more or less terrified
servants. All their endeavors to capture the midnight intruders proved,
however, fruitless, and whether wounded or not, the burglars had
evidently succeeded in making good their escape.

On returning to the library it was ascertained that the general's desk
had been forced open and that a considerable sum of money in gold and
notes, together with several valuable bonds and railway shares, had
been abstracted therefrom. Frederick related that he had been awakened
shortly after midnight by a strange grating sound proceeding from the
room immediately beneath his own. That, jumping out of bed, he had
quickly put on his dressing-gown, and seizing a loaded revolver, had
softly crept down stairs. Peeping through the keyhole he had seen two
men who, by the light of a small taper, were ransacking his father's
desk. His efforts in the dark to open the door must have evidently
disturbed them, for by the time he managed to enter they had reached
the window and were in the act of leaping into the gardens when he
fired several shots at them in rapid succession. It was at this
juncture that his father and the servants had appeared on the scene.

So gratified was the general by the courage and presence of mind
displayed by Frederick in attacking the burglars single-handed that
he forgot for the moment both the loss of his stolen property and the
grave offenses of which the young man had been guilty. Grasping his
son's hands he expressed his satisfaction to him in no measured terms,
and indeed was on the point of releasing him from any further arrest
or confinement to his room. On second thought, however, he decided
to await the replies to his letters from Berlin before doing so,
especially as he was extremely anxious that none of the visitors to the
villa should become aware of Frederick's presence at Naples.

Early next morning Gen. Von Waldberg drove into Naples to inform
the chief of police of the robbery committed at his residence and
to request him to offer a reward for the capture of the thieves and
the recovery of the stolen property. As he rode back to Posilipo he
reflected, with feelings of much gratification, on the pluck shown by
his son during the night, and determined to write at once an account
of the whole occurrence to the king, in the hope that it might induce
his majesty to regard with greater leniency the lad's misconduct. He
was just in the act of entering his library for this purpose when he
happened to catch sight of one of the Italian servants coming down
stairs from Frederick's room with a bulky envelope in his hand. On
perceiving the general the man attempted to conceal it, but the old
count was too quick, and, ordering him into the library, exacted the
surrender of the letter.

“Where are you going, and what is this?” demanded he of the frightened
Neapolitan. The latter's eyes lowered before his master's stern gaze,
and he confessed in faltering tones that the “young count” had told him
to go and post the letter immediately and without letting any one know
about it.

“You need not trouble yourself any further about the matter,” remarked
the general, “Franz will attend to it, and see here, if you breathe a
word about this either to Count Frederick or to any one else you will
be turned out of the house at an hour's notice. Do you understand?”

“Si eccellenza, si eccellenza,” murmured the badly scared Italian, as
with many low bows he backed out of the general's presence.

As soon as the door was closed the old count raised his glasses to
his eyes for the purpose of discovering the destination of his son's
letter. It was addressed to Rose Hartmann, at Biala, and judging by its
bulk certainly contained something besides ordinary note-paper.

[Illustration: ROSE HARTMANN, COUNTESS VON WALDBERG.]

Suddenly a terrible suspicion flashed through his mind. He remembered
Frederick's urgent appeal for money on the previous day. But no! The
idea was too horrible. It was impossible. The boy was certainly a
thorough scapegrace, but not that! No, not that! The unhappy father
dashed the letter down on the table and began pacing up and down the
room in an agony of incertitude and doubt. Could his son be guilty?
The solution of the mystery was contained in that envelope. Would he
be justified in opening it? The whole honor of the ancient house of
Waldberg was at stake. It was absolutely necessary that he, as its
chief, should know whether or not one of the principal members thereof
was a common thief. If so it was his duty to mercilessly lop off the
rotten branch of the family tree. After long hesitation he finally
seized the letter, and with one wrench tore open the envelope. As
he did so an exclamation of horror and disgust escaped his blanched
lips, for several Prussian bank-notes of considerable value, which he
immediately recognized as his property, fell at his feet on the carpet.

It is impossible to describe the intense misery of the wretched father
when he found that the thief who was being tracked by the Neapolitan
police was no other than his first-born. For several hours he sat at
his writing-table, his gray head bowed in grief and almost prostrated
by this awful discovery. For a long time he was totally unable to
decide what was to be done, and, indeed, had Frederick presented
himself before him at that time he would have been almost capable of
killing him with his own hand in his paroxysm of anger and shame.

Shortly after darkness had set in, Franz entered Frederick's room and
handed him a sealed letter addressed in his father's hand. Glancing at
its contents the young man uttered a cry of despair and terror, and
springing to his feet was rushing toward the door, when Franz quietly
placed himself with his back against it, saying:

“His excellency's orders are that the Herr Graf must not leave this
room under any pretext until the hour of departure. I have his
strict commands to remain with the Herr Graf and to prevent him from
communicating with anybody in the house.

The old soldier's lips quivered as he spoke, and his eyes were full of
tears. For it cut him to the very heart to see the suffering depicted
on the lad's face, and what between his loyalty and devotion to his
master and his affection for the young man whom he had carried about in
his arms as a child, he was in great distress.

Frederick groaned, and picking up his father's letter read it over once
more. It ran as follows:

     “You have betrayed and robbed me! You are not only a deserter,
     but also a thief. I intercepted your letter to the woman you call
     your wife, and feeling myself justified under the circumstances to
     open it I found therein the proofs of your crime. You will leave
     my house to-night forever. The proceeds of your robbery will keep
     you for some time from want. It will be all that you will have to
     depend on, for having become an outlaw by your desertion, and your
     attack on your colonel, the Prussian Government will never permit
     you to enter into possession of your mother's fortune. You never
     need hope to see me again, or to hold any further communication
     with me or mine. You are no longer a child of mine. I solemnly
     renounce you as my son. May God Almighty keep you from further
     crime.

         “COUNT H. VON WALDBERG.”

That night at 10 o'clock Frederick embarked at Naples on a
Marseilles-bound steamer, being escorted to the wharf by Franz.

He never saw his father again.



CHAPTER III.

A HORRIBLE PREDICAMENT.


The strains of a beautiful old German melody, rendered by a rich
contralto voice, floated through the night air and caused many a
passer-by to linger beneath the open windows of a house in the Avenue
Friedland whence they proceeded. It was a singularly beautiful woman
who was singing, seated at the piano, in the half light of a daintily
furnished drawing-room. Dressed in a marvelous composition of white
velvet and old lace, with fragrant gardenias nestling in her bosom and
in her soft, golden hair, her low bodice displayed to great advantage
the marble whiteness and perfect outline of her bust.

“Nonsense, nonsense,” cries a cheery voice from the balcony where
Frederick von Waldberg has been enjoying his after-dinner weed. With
a light-hearted laugh he flings his half-burnt cigar into the street
and steps into the room. Approaching his wife he encircles her slender
waist with his arm and draws her curly head upon his shoulder.

“Dare to repeat, now, you perverse little woman, that you are sad. What
ails you? Have you not all you can wish for, including a devoted slave
of a husband who has given up everything for you, and is only governed
by your sweet will?”

“Yes, dear, yes, dear,” murmurs Rose, gently disengaging herself from
his embrace, “but you can't think how it pains me to know that it is I
who have been the cause of your quarrel with your father—and then the
future is so uncertain. We have not very much money left, and how we
shall manage to keep up this establishment is more than I can tell.”

“Never mind; leave that to me. I will find the means somehow or other;
only don't fret,” replies Frederick, in a low voice. “As long as you
continue to love me everything will be all right. You are not yet tired
of me, Weibchen, are you?”

She laughs saucily, but there is a queer light in her dark-blue eyes as
she seats herself again at the piano and runs her fingers dreamily over
the keys.

Three months have elapsed since the burglary at Gen. von Waldberg's
Neapolitan residence, and some eight or ten weeks since Count and
Countess Frederick von Waldberg have taken up their quarters in Paris.
They live recklessly and extravagantly, like children who are intent
on sipping all the sweets of the cup of life without giving a moment's
thought to the dregs at the bottom thereof, and which they are bound to
reach sooner or later.

Frederick's careless and easy-going nature had enabled him to forget in
an incredibly short space of time all the tragic scenes through which
he passed at Biala and Naples. He is still passionately in love with
his wife, whose beauty is the talk of Paris. He has not attempted to
enter society, but when the young couple drive in the “Bois” in their
well-appointed victoria, or enter a box at one of the fashionable
theaters, they are the cynosure of all eyes. Moreover Frederick has
picked up many male acquaintances, and the choice fare and exquisite
wines which are always to be found at his hospitable board prove nearly
as great an attraction as the lovely eyes and matchless elegance of the
mistress of the house.

Rose has, outwardly at least, become a perfect _femme du monde_. She
has picked up all the ways and mannerisms of the higher classes with a
quickness that astonishes and delights her husband. But it is fortunate
that he is unable to fathom the depths of her heart. For it is just as
hard, as mercenary and corrupt as of yore, and she often involuntarily
yearns for the gutter from which her husband has raised her.

Toward 9 o'clock Frederick called for his coat and hat, and, kissing
his wife tenderly, exclaimed:

“Do not wait up for me, little woman, as I shall not be home from the
club till about 2 o'clock.”

With that he left the house and strolled down the avenue to one of the
well-known _cercles de jeu_ (gambling clubs) of the Boulevards.

Luck, however, was against him for once, and shortly after 11 o'clock,
having sustained heavy losses, he left the club and walked rapidly
home, in a very bad temper.

Letting himself in with his latch-key he walks softly up stairs and
enters the drawing-room where a light is still dimly burning. His
footsteps fall noiselessly on the thick carpet, and wishing to surprise
Rose, who could hardly have retired for the night at this comparatively
early hour, he pulls aside the heavy drapery of tawny plush which
screens the door of her “boudoir,” and peeps in. Hardly has he done
so than he springs forward with a yell of rage, for there on a low
oriental divan he beholds his wife, his beloved Rose, in the arms of
his butler.

The terrified servant makes a dash for the nearest door and escapes
through the adjoining conservatory. Frederick, scorning to pursue him,
turns his attention to Rose. Brutally grasping her arm, he raises her
from the ground where she has flung herself on her knees at his feet,
and without a word he drags her down stairs, stopping for a moment in
the hall below to throw a gorgeous red-brocaded opera-cloak, which
hangs there, on the speechless woman's shoulders. Opening the front
door, he thrusts her into the street, exclaiming hoarsely as he bangs
it behind her:

“That is where you belong.”

For a few minutes Rose stood on the pavement, dazed and trembling, but
suddenly recalling to mind the expression of her infuriated husband's
eyes as he pushed her down stairs she was seized with terror and fled
down the avenue.

She had not gone very far when two men, springing from a dark side
street, arrested her wild flight by clutching her arms.

“Where is your police permit?” exclaimed the taller of the two.

Rose stared helplessly at them without replying.

“Why don't you answer?” yelled the other, shaking her violently. “Don't
you hear me talking to you? Are you drunk?”

The unfortunate woman draws herself up, and, shaking off the dirty
hand of the “Agents-des-Mœurs” (police charged with the control of the
women of ill-repute,) replied:

“I do not know what you mean. There is some mistake. I am the Countesse
de Waldberg; let me go!”

“Countess indeed! Is that all? We know all about such countesses. They
belong in the St. Lazarre Prison when they run round without their
‘livret’(police permit.) Allons! come along! Enough of these airs and
graces! A decent woman does not pace the streets at midnight in a
ball-dress.”

[Illustration: ROSE ARRESTED BY THE PARIS POLICE.]

With a shriek of horror Rose made a sudden dart forward, but has not
got far before she is seized by the hair with such force as to throw
her on the pavement. Picking her up again, the Agents-des-Mœurs call a
passing night cab, and, bundling the now fainting woman into it, order
the coachman to drive to the police station.

On arriving at the police station Rose was roughly dragged from the cab
by the two Agents des Mœurs and thrust into the “Violon”—a filthy cell
which was already crowded with a score or two of drunk and disorderly
women. The atmosphere which reigned in the place was indescribably
horrible and nauseating; and the shrieks, the yells, and the disgusting
songs and discordant cries of its occupants were only interrupted
from time to time when the door was opened to give admittance to some
fresh samples of the feminine scum of the Paris streets. Such was the
pandemonium in which the Countess von Waldberg passed the first night
after being driven out of her luxuriously appointed home in the Avenue
Friedland.

       *       *       *       *       *

When at length day began to dawn through the iron grating of the
solitary window of the cell, she breathed a sigh of relief. The scene
around her was one fit to figure in “Dante's Inferno.” Every imaginable
type of woman seemed to be assembled within the circumscribed limits of
those four grimy walls, from the demi-mondaine in silks and satins who
had been run in for creating a disturbance at Mabille, down to the old
and tattered ragpicker who had been arrested for drunkenness; from the
bourgeoise who had been discovered in the act of betraying her husband,
down to the ordinary street-walker, who had been caught abroad without
her police livret. Here and there, too, were a shoplifter, a _bonne_
who had assaulted her mistress, and a market woman who, in a moment of
fury, had chewed off her antagonist's nose. Dressed in the most motley
of costumes, they lay about on the wooden bench which ran round the
cell, or were stretched prostrate on the damp and dirty brick floor.

Amid these surroundings Rose presented a truly strange appearance as
she stood up in the cold morning light, with her costly white velvet
gown all stained with mud, from which the superb lace flounces had been
partly torn by the brutal hands of the men who had arrested her. Her
beautiful golden hair lay in tangled masses on her bare shoulders, from
which the red opera-cloak had fallen as she rose to her feet. She was
very pale and there was a hard and stony look in her sunken eyes.

She had had time to reflect on the events of the previous evening, and
thoroughly realized the fact that after what had happened Frederick
would refuse to acknowledge her as his wife. It would be, therefore,
more than useless to appeal to him to substantiate the statements which
she had at first made as to her rank and condition; indeed, matters
might be only aggravated by such a course, and she determined to
maintain the strictest silence concerning her former life. Her heart,
however, was filled to overflowing with bitterness against her husband,
to whose conduct she attributed her present horrible predicament.
Intense hatred had taken the place of any feelings of affection which
she might formerly have possessed for him, and she then and there
registered a solemn oath that she would never rest until she had
wreaked a terrible vengeance for all she had suffered on his account.

At eight o'clock she was brought into court and charged with having
been found plying an immoral trade in the public streets, without
having previously obtained the required license from the “Prefecture
de Police.” For this offense the magistrate, without much questioning,
sentenced her to three months' imprisonment at St. Lazarre. Shortly
afterward the police-van, which in French bears the euphonic name
of “Panier a Salade” (Salad Basket), drew up at the door of the
station-house, and Rose, with most of the women who had spent the night
in the same cell with her, was bundled into the dismal conveyance. The
latter then rattled off through the streets along which she had last
driven reclining lazily on the soft cushions of her victoria, to the
well-known prison in the Faubourg St. Denis, within the walls of which
even an hour's sojourn is sufficient to brand a woman with infamy for
the remainder of her days.

On alighting in the court-yard of St. Lazarre, Rose was taken to
the clerk's office, where her name, age, and origin were entered on
the prison register. She gave her name as Rose Hartmann, her age as
twenty-five, and declared, in response to the inquiries on the subject,
that she had no profession and was of German extraction. From thence
she was passed on to the hands of “Madame la Fouilleuse,” as the
searcher is nicknamed, who made her strip, and, after having searched
her clothes and even her hair, bade her put on the prison dress,
consisting of coarse linen under-clothes, blue cotton hose, thick
shoes, a brown stuff dress, brown woolen cap, and large blue cotton
cloth apron.

The prison regulations at St. Lazarre were then and are still very
severe. The prisoners have to get up at five o'clock in the morning.
They sleep four together in one room, and have no other toilet utensils
than small pitchers of water and basins no bigger than a moderate-sized
soup plate. This makes their morning bath a rather difficult operation.
Their meals, except when they are allowed meat on Sundays, consist of
a dish of thin vegetable broth, a piece of brown bread, and fricasseed
vegetables. While they are at table, a Sister of the religious order
of Marie-Joseph reads aloud to them extracts from some pious book. Ten
hours of the long, weary day are spent in doing plain needlework, and
they have to be in bed for the night at 7:30 o'clock. At eight o'clock
all lights are extinguished throughout the prison, and during the long
night no sound is heard in the big pile of buildings but the steps of
the Sisters of Marie-Joseph, who are on guard, and who pace the long
corridors at fixed intervals to see that there is no talking going on.

It must be acknowledged that all this was a cruel change to Rose, who,
at any rate during the previous twelve months, had been accustomed to a
life of elegance, refinement, and cruelty.



CHAPTER IV.

THE HAREM.


A fortnight after the events described in the previous chapter the
war broke out which cost Napoleon III. his throne, and all the
German residents in Paris were forced to take their departure at an
exceedingly short notice. Among their number was Count Frederick von
Waldberg, who, since the disappearance of Rose, had plunged into the
wildest course of dissipation and debauchery, as if with the intention
of drowning all memory of the past. The discovery of his wife's infamy
had exercised a most disastrous effect on the young man's mind. It
had rendered him thoroughly hardened and cynical, and had definitely
banished forever any remnant of moral feeling or conscience, which
he had until then retained. When he reflected on all the brilliant
prospects and future which he had surrendered for Rose's sake, he
grew sick at heart, and determined to put to good account the bitter
experience which he had acquired. Never again would he allow himself
to be softened and influenced by any _affaire de cœur_, but, on the
contrary, women should become subservient to his interests. He would
deal with them in the same relentless and cruel manner that Rose had
dealt with him. The old life was dead and gone, and he made up his mind
to start out on a new career unburdened by any such baggage as scruples
or honor.

It was in this frame of mind that he embarked at Marseilles on board an
English steamer bound for Alexandria. Being debarred from returning to
Germany or Italy, and France having now closed her doors against him,
he decided to leave Europe for a time and to try his luck in the Orient.

In due course he arrived at Cairo and took up his residence at
Shepheard's well-known hostelry. He could not help being struck by the
novelty of the scenes which met his eye on every side, and the ancient
capital of Egypt, with its narrow, winding streets; its fierce sunlight
and dark shadows, its palaces, gardens, and waving palm trees, appealed
to all his artistic instincts.

One afternoon, as he was riding round Gezireh, his attention was
attracted to a brougham drawn by two magnificent black horses which
had pulled up under one of the grand old sycamore trees that shade
the avenue, and near to the kiosk in the Khedival gardens, where a
military band was rendering with more vigor than harmony several of the
most popular airs from “La Grande Duchesse.” The only occupant of the
carriage was a woman dressed in Turkish fashion, but whose “yashmak,”
or vail, was of a transparency which enhanced rather than concealed
her lovely features. The large, dark, and sensuous eyes which glanced
at him between the tulle folds of the vail sent a thrill through his
very heart, and he involuntarily checked his horse and stood gazing
at the enchanting vision. At this moment a gigantic black eunuch, who
was evidently in attendance on the lady and who had been standing on
the off side of the carriage, suddenly became aware of the admiring
looks cast by the young stranger on his mistress. He rushed up to the
carriage window, with stifled oath pulled down the silken blind, and
then, turning to the coachman, ordered him to drive on. He then mounted
a magnificent barb which was being walked up and down by a gorgeously
dressed “sais,” or groom, and galloped after the brougham, casting as
he did so a look of such malignance at Frederick that the latter, taken
by surprise, did not even retain enough presence of mind to make any
attempt to follow the carriage.

For several days in succession Frederick made a point of spending his
afternoons in riding round Gezireh in the hope of obtaining another
glance at the beautiful Hanem; but she did not put in an appearance,
and the young man had almost forgotten the incident, when one morning,
while riding along the road which Khedive Ismail, with truly oriental
gallantry, had caused to be constructed from Cairo out to the Pyramids
for the use of Empress Eugenie, on the occasion of her visit in 1869,
he suddenly caught sight of the black horses and brougham coming slowly
toward him. There was no one else in view, and the ordinarily watchful
eunuch had taken advantage of the solitude of the spot to relax his
vigilance and to lag a good way behind. Frederick was therefore enabled
to gaze unhindered at the Oriental beauty. He bowed low over his
horse's mane, and was delighted to see that not only was his salutation
graciously responded to, but that, moreover, the lady, raising one of
her small jeweled hands to her “yashmak,” pulled it slightly aside so
as to discover to his enraptured eyes a face so perfectly lovely that
he was fairly staggered. She smiled enchantingly at him, and, putting
the tips of her fingers to her rosy lips, motioned him away with a
look full of promise. Frederick would fain have drawn nearer to the
carriage, but the coachman suddenly started his horses off at a sharp
trot, and there was nothing for him to do but to resume his canter out
to the Pyramids and to receive with a smile the angry glances of his
friend the eunuch, whom he passed shortly afterward.

Neither the Sphinx nor the Pyramids possessed much attraction for
Frederick that day, and his stay out at Gezireh was but a short one.
He was in a hurry to get back into town. He was perfectly wild with
delight at the idea of his adventure. Who could the beautiful creature
be? He had noticed a princess' coronet on the panels of the carriage,
and the black horses and glittering liveries of the coachman, footman,
and of the two grooms would lead to belief that they belonged to a
member of the Khedival family. Moreover, the eunuch in attendance was
certainly a person of high rank, a fact which was demonstrated by the
ribbon of the Order of the “Osmanieh” which he wore in his button-hole.

Frederick was puzzled to know how all this would end. That the fair
lady looked upon him with favor was undeniable.

But he knew enough about the strict rules of an oriental harem to doubt
whether he would ever be able to meet her alone, as the eunuch had
already noticed his admiration of the lady and would certainly warn his
master, the Pasha. However, Frederick determined to go to the bitter
end, no matter what the cost might be.

Two days later he was lounging on the terrace of the hotel, lazily
watching the throng of Arabs, donkeys, and beggars jostling one another
along the Esbekleh street, when his attention was suddenly attracted
by a ragged individual, with a very black countenance and a basket of
flowers, who was evidently trying to catch his eye. Frederick, leaning
over the balustrade, was about to throw a few piasters to the man,
when the latter suddenly broke loose from the crowd, and walking up
the marble steps, “salaamed” to him in the most approved fashion; then
squatting down on the ground in front of him, he extracted a bunch of
flowers from his basket. Frederick was about to motion him away, when
the man hurriedly thrust the roses into his hands, whispering in a low,
guttural voice:

“Letter for you.”

He then “salaamed” again and, arising from the ground, began displaying
his wares to some ladies who were sitting under the veranda. Frederick,
whose thoughts immediately turned to the lady whom he had met two days
before on the road to the Pyramids, repaired at once to his room and,
cutting the thread which bound the flowers together, brought to view
a small, square envelope without any address. Carefully opening it he
extracted therefrom a highly perfumed sheet of pink paper on which the
following words were written:

     “If you wish to see me again, go to-night between 11 and 12
     o'clock to the farther end of the Mouski street and follow the
     woman who will give you a bunch of lotus flowers. She will bring
     you to me. Destroy this.”

Frederick dropped the note to the floor in his surprise and delight.
His wildest anticipations were surpassed, for in a few hours he would
see his “houri” face to face.

[Illustration: THE “MOUSKI” STREET AT CAIRO, EGYPT.]

At 11 o'clock that night he wandered up the long Mouski street, which
at that hour looked weird and deserted. He took care to keep as much
as possible in the more shadowy portions of the thoroughfare, so as
not to attract the attention of the few Arabs who, wrapped in their
spectral-looking “burnous,” were still to be met with here and there.
After about an hour's walk he stopped at the end of the long street
and looked about him. Nobody was in sight, and he was just thinking of
retracing his steps when a hand was laid on his arm and a vailed woman,
without uttering a word, placed a small bunch of lotus flowers in his
hand. She then beckoned to him to follow her, saying in a low, musical
voice:

“Taala hena” (come this way).

A few steps brought them to a high stone wall, in which a small kind
of postern was pierced. Taking hold of his hand she led him under the
archway, and, inserting a small key in the lock, she opened the door
and pushed him into the garden.

Frederick, for a moment, believed that he had been suddenly transported
into fairy-land. He found himself in an immense garden, where groups of
feathery palms and dark sycamores made a fitting background for masses
of brilliant flowers and shrubs in full bloom. The air was redolent
with the perfume of thousands of orange trees and starry jessamine,
while the high wall, which looked so bare and grim from without, was
on the inside covered with blue passion-flowers and pink aristolochus.
Numerous marble fountains sent their silvery jets of spray toward the
dark-blue heavens, and a flock of red flamingoes stalked majestically
up and down the long stretches of velvety lawn.

In the distance a white alabaster palace gleamed in the glorious
Egyptian moonlight, which rendered the scene almost as bright as day;
and its cupolas and minarets, all fretted and perforated, looked like
some wonderful piece of old lacework.

Frederick followed his silent companion through a dense thicket of
rose-bushes, where a narrow path had been cut. He noticed that she was
very careful to keep away from the bright light of the moon and that
she occasionally stopped to listen. After about ten minutes' walk they
reached a side entrance of the palace. The woman, once more taking hold
of his hand, led him up six or seven steps and into a narrow passage
where a silver hanging-lamp shed a dim light on the tapestried walls.
Turning suddenly to the left she lifted a large gold-embroidered
drapery which hung before an archway and motioned him inside.

[Illustration: FREDERICK CONDUCTED TO THE PRINCESS' HAREM.]

Frederick was in the harem of the famous Princess M.

Emerging from the comparative darkness of the gardens, Frederick was
fairly dazzled by the brilliancy of the scene which met his eyes. He
found himself in a lofty apartment, the walls of which were entirely
covered with silver brocade. White velvet divans ran all around the
room, and from the painted ceiling hung a rock-crystal chandelier,
lighted by at least a hundred wax candles. Great masses of blooming
camellias, azalias, and tuberoses were tastefully arranged in silver
vases on tables of transparent jade. The floor was covered with a
white velvet carpet richly embroidered with silver, and the windows
were hung with fairy-like draperies of silver gauze and point lace.

At the farther end of the apartment was a kind of broad, oriental
divan, and there, nestling among a pile of cushions, reclined the jewel
of which all the splendors above described formed but the unworthy
setting. Princess Louba, a little over twenty-two years of age at the
time, was certainly one of the loveliest women of the day. Tall and
exquisitely proportioned, her hands and feet were marvelously small
and the rich contours of her figure were absolutely perfect. She had
one of those dead white complexions, ever so delicately tinted with
pink, which remind one of the petal of a tea-rose or the interior of
a shell. Her large, languid black eyes were shaded by long and curly
eyelashes, and her straight eyebrows almost met over a small, aquiline
nose, the sensuous nostrils of which quivered at the slightest emotion.
In piquant contrast to her dark eyes, her hair, of a pale golden color,
hung down to below her knees. She was dressed in a long “djebba,” or
loose robe of white crepe de chine, the semi-transparent folds of which
clung to her form as the morning dew clings to a flower which it is
loth to conceal.

For several minutes Frederick stood as if transfixed, unable to remove
his fevered gaze from the lovely apparition which rendered him blind to
all else. He could see nothing but the princess, as she lay there in
all her indolent beauty.

The “Muezzin” droning forth his harmonious summons to prayers from the
loftiest galleries of the minarets, had but just notified the faithful
that it was two hours after midnight, when suddenly one of the curtains
was softly drawn aside, and a woman scarcely less beautiful than the
princess herself glided into the room.

Her largo violet eyes flashed triumphantly, and a mocking, cruel smile
hovered around her red lips as she advanced toward the princess and her
lover.

“Enfin! Louba Hanem!” exclaimed she, in French. “At length I have you
in my power! Revenge always comes to those who can afford to wait! For
months and months you have been the favorite of our lord, the pearl of
surpassing value, beside whom all were but as dross, the treasure of
his heart and the joy of his life, while I—I—was left far behind—hardly
noticed—often repulsed—I, who am as beautiful as you, and who love
him with a love of which you are utterly incapable! How often have I
besought Allah to grant me my revenge! He has heard my prayer! for
within the hour that is now passing away our lord will have slain
both your lover and yourself! Even at this very moment you are being
watched, and at a sign from me he will be summoned hither to behold
with his own eyes the shameful manner in which you betray him with a
dog of an unbeliever!”

Princess Louba had meanwhile started to her feet, and stood there in
all her glorious beauty, white and trembling with rage and with terror.

“Who is it that will dare to raise his or her hand against me, the
daughter of his highness! Who are you but a mere slave—a toy bought by
our lord! The pastime of one short hour, thereafter to be flung back
into the depths of ignominy from which you were raised by his hand! You
shall suffer cruelly for your present insolence. I will cause you to be
whipped until every particle of skin has been torn from your body.”

“Will you, indeed, Louba Hanem? I challenge you to try it. You will
find that even your royal father will be powerless to save either your
lover or yourself.”

With a snake-like motion of her supple body the vindictive creature
glided to one of the windows opening out on to the veranda and was
about to issue forth on her dangerous errand, when, with one bound,
Frederick was alongside of her, and, grasping her firmly by the arm,
exclaimed:

“What is it you want? Is it money? If so, you shall have it! If you
will only be silent! Speak! What do you require?”

With a look of unutterable scorn, she replied:

“Keep your money. It is revenge that I seek! Your touch defiles me! Let
me go, or it will be the worse for you! Are you then so anxious to die
a few minutes sooner that you dare to tempt me thus?”

Tearing away her arm from Frederick's grasp, she drew a long stiletto
or dagger from her bosom and made a violent lunge at his heart.
Frederick, now thoroughly infuriated, and realizing the fact that he
had to deal with a desperate and half-crazy woman, wrenched the knife
from her and hurled it away among the shrubs in the garden. For one
moment she struggled desperately to release herself, but seeing that it
was of no avail and that the young man's slender hands held her like a
vise, she uttered one loud cry for assistance, which rang through the
silence of the night.

“Curse you, be quiet! you she-devil!” hissed Frederick in her ear. “If
you utter another sound, I will kill you.”

[Illustration: “IF YOU UTTER ANOTHER SOUND, I WILL KILL YOU.”]

Once more the girl attempted to scream, but Frederick's fingers
clutched her throat like steel and stifled her voice. For the space
of several seconds—they seemed to him so many hours—he maintained his
grasp, and when at length he released his hold the slight body of the
girl fell with a dull thud to the tessellated floor of the veranda.
Instinctively he bent down over her, and suddenly, with a thrill of
horror, realized that she was dead.

At the same moment he heard the sound of heavy steps hurrying to the
spot where he was, and, forgetting everything except that his life was
at stake, he leaped over the alabaster balustrade of the terrace, and
fled through the gardens without looking behind him.

Oh, the agony of those minutes! The cold perspiration was streaming
from his forehead, and his heart was beating so violently that it
nearly took his breath away. In what direction was he to escape? The
immense gardens seemed to constitute an interminable labyrinth of
gravel paths, winding in and out of the clusters of trees and bushes.
Twice he found himself at the foot of the high stone wall, which,
however, offered no foothold by which he could ascend to the summit. At
one moment he nearly fell into a small lake, which lay half-concealed,
buried between moss-covered banks. Like a hunted animal, he was about
to retrace his steps, when he saw in the distance a score or so of
men, carrying torches, who were running in all directions, shouting
loudly as they drew nigh to him. His desperation was such that he
thought for one moment of giving himself up to them. But the instinct
of self-preservation was too strong, and once more he sped along in the
shadow of a tall hedge of arbutus, till suddenly he found his flight
again arrested by the wall.

[Illustration: FREDERICK FLEES THROUGH THE GARDENS.]

Stay! What was that? A door! Yes, the very door by which he had entered
a few hours previously. Trembling from head to foot, he tried the
lock. It yielded to his pressure, and with one wild, cat-like spring,
he bounded into the dark street which led to the Mouski. Closing the
massive oak postern after him, he rushed onward, casting terrified
glances behind him from time to time as he ran. But all was still;
and the noise of his footsteps was the only sound which disturbed the
quiet hour of dawn. Gradually he slackened his speed, and, turning down
into a dark side-street, cautiously threaded his way among the maze of
narrow passages and by-ways of the Hebrew quarter. At last he arrived
at the gate of the Esbekieh Gardens, and a few minutes afterward
reached the Hotel Shepheard. Ten minutes later he was seated in his own
room, hardly able to realize that he was, for the moment, at any rate,
out of danger.

To remain at Cairo was out of the question. This last adventure was
likely to involve more serious consequences than any of his previous
scrapes. Seizing a time-table, he discovered, to his unspeakable
relief, that a steamer bound for Bombay was leaving Suez the very same
day. He hurriedly packed up his belongings, and, summoning the porter,
informed him that he had been called away on matters of the utmost
importance, and ordered his trunks to be conveyed without delay to the
railway station.

That afternoon at four o'clock a majestic steamer of the Peninsular and
Oriental Company weighed its anchor at Suez, and proceeded down the
Red Sea. She carried among the passengers on board Count Frederick von
Waldberg, who had been fortunate enough to escape arrest for the murder
of M. Pasha's second wife.



CHAPTER V.

MAKING NEW ACQUAINTANCES.


Frederick's fellow-passengers on board the mail steamer comprised
the usual contingent of Calcutta and Bombay merchants; of judges,
collectors, and other members of the Indian Civil Service en route to
rejoin their posts on the expiration of their leave of absence, and of
a considerable sprinkling of military men, some of whom were on their
way to the East for the first time. There were also quite a number of
ladies and young girls who had been spending the hot season in England,
and who were returning for the winter to their husbands and fathers.
Besides these, there were several Parsee and other native traders, who,
having been welcomed as princes and nabobs at Paris, and elsewhere
in Europe, found it difficult to reconcile themselves again to the
contemptuous treatment which even the humblest British subaltern deems
it his duty to extend to the “black men.”

For the first three days after leaving Suez, Frederick failed to put in
an appearance either at table or on deck, and remained most of the time
in the seclusion of his own cabin. His nerves had been rudely shaken by
the exciting scenes attending his departure from Cairo, and he felt a
cold shiver run down his back when he thought of the terrible fate that
would have been his lot had he fallen into the hands of the janizaries
and eunuchs of M. le Pasha. With all its veneer of civilization, Egypt
was then, and still is to this day, an essentially oriental country.
The mysteries of the harem are still as dark and shadowy as in days of
yore; and notwithstanding all that may be said to the contrary, neither
justice nor police legislation has ever succeeded in penetrating the
Zenana. Within its walls, the pasha, or bey, especially if he be
wealthy and influential, is absolute master of life and death of the
inmates. He is accountable to no one for what goes on in his harem; and
the stranger who dares to commit the unpardonable offense of invading
its sanctity must be prepared to face either death or the most horrible
forms of mutilation and torture.

Of remorse for the death of the pasha's second wife, Frederick felt
none. He had strangled her in self-defense; and, although he had no
intention of killing her at the time, yet he considered that she fully
merited her fate. He was equally indifferent as to what had become of
the princess. His enthusiasm had given way to feelings of anger against
her for causing him to incur so terrible a danger. It is evident,
however, that she must have succeeded in giving some satisfactory
explanation to the pasha, both as to the presence of a stranger in her
apartments, and as to the death of his second wife, for she is alive to
this day, and neither increasing age nor corpulency had had the effect
of putting a stop to her adventures, which from time to time furnish a
piece of gossip, seasoned highly enough even for the jaded palates of
the Cairenes. Her husband, the pasha, expired somewhat suddenly a few
years ago, and she has not since remarried.

On the fourth day of the voyage, just as the vessel was steaming past
the barren island of Perim, Frederick, who by this time had entirely
recovered, made his way on deck, and, with a cigar in his mouth, leaned
against the bulwarks, watching signals which were being displayed
from the masthead of the fort. He was just about to turn away and to
stroll forward for the purpose of inspecting the strange assortment
of native deck passengers bound for Aden, when he was accosted by a
handsome young Englishman, who requested the favor of a light for his
pipe. A conversation sprang up between the two, during the course of
which Frederick discovered that his new acquaintance was a wealthy
young guardsman, Sir Charles Montgomery by name, who was on his way
out to take up a staff appointment at Calcutta. The name of General
von Waldberg was not unknown to the baronet, and he therefore had no
hesitancy about introducing Frederick not only to his fellow-officers,
but also to most of of the other prominent passengers on board. The
young count soon became a great favorite, especially with the ladies.
Much of his time, however, was spent in the smoking-room on deck,
playing cards with Sir Charles, and some four or five of the latter's
messmates. During the first two days Frederick lost heavily, which
he could ill afford, for, after paying his hotel bill at Cairo, and
purchasing his passage for Bombay, he had found that his money was
almost exhausted. On the third day, however, his spell of bad luck came
to an end, and from that time forth his winnings were considerable.
No matter what the game might be, his hand was invariably such as to
arouse the envy and admiration of all beholders. Both Sir Charles and
two other of the officers lost large sums to him, and at length one
night, on rising from the card-table, the baronet was sharply taken to
task by one of his fellow-losers, a Captain Clery, who inquired, with
some asperity, whether he was sure of “that dused German fellow.”

“What do you mean? What on earth are you driving at, my dear Clery?
What should I know more about him than you do yourself? There is no
doubt about his being the son of old General von Waldberg, whose name
you are just as well acquainted with as I am.”

“That is just what puzzles me,” replied the captain. “How can you
explain the fact that a man of his station and military training should
be here on board a Bombay-bound steamer, instead of being with the
German Army before Paris? There is something very fishy and queer about
him.”

“I don't agree with you one bit,” retorted Sir Charles. “I think he is
a very nice fellow—remarkably bright and amusing, and exceedingly wide
awake and clever.”

“Too clever by half,” muttered Captain Clery, savagely twisting his
heavy blonde mustache. “I am going to watch his game. I don't believe
he plays fair. It isn't natural that he should win whenever there is a
heavy stake on the table. I believe he is simply plucking us like so
many blue-necked pigeons.”

Had Frederick obtained any inkling of the purport of Captain Clery's
remarks about his extraordinary run of luck, or was it mere coincidence
that he lost twenty guineas at _ecarte_ on the following afternoon? Be
this as it may, the fact remains that during the rest of the voyage
he seized various pretexts for absenting himself from the card-table,
and devoted his whole time to a very lovely girl, Florence Fitzpatrick
by name, to whom he had been presented by Sir Charles. Her father,
who hailed from County Cork, held a high command in the Army of the
“Guicowar,” or King of Baroda, and had made the acquaintance of General
von Waldberg some years previously at Vienna. The old count had not
only treated him with much kindness and consideration, but had also
obtained him facilities for attending the annual maneuvers of the
Prussian and Austrian Armies. He was therefore delighted to have an
opportunity of making some return for the courtesy shown to him by
Frederick's father, and warmly pressed the young man to visit him at
Baroda.

About a fortnight after landing in India, just as Frederick was
beginning to grow heartily sick of Bombay, he received a letter from
Colonel Fitzpatrick reminding him of his promise to spend a few weeks
at Baroda, and urging him to come up at once so as to be in time for
a big tiger-hunt which was about to take place. Accordingly, on the
next day, having telegraphed to the colonel to announce his impending
arrival, he started on his journey up country.



CHAPTER VI.

FETTERS DIFFICULT TO SEVER.


Baroda is, without exception, one of the most interesting and
picturesque cities in India. It is perched on the lofty, precipitous
banks of the River Wishwamitra. Large marble staircases lead down to
the water's edge, and above them rise thousands of minarets, bell
towers, temples, kiosks, and pagodas half screened here and there by
masses of dark green foliage.

Frederick met with a very hospitable reception on his arrival at
Colonel Fitzpatrick's comfortable bungalow. He could not help being
touched by the heartiness of welcome extended to him, and Florence
appeared to him more charming and beautiful than ever.

As in duty bound, the colonel immediately took steps to notify the
Guicowar of Frederick's presence in the capital, and a few days
afterward received an intimation that his highness would be glad to
grant Count von Waldberg the honor of an audience. Accordingly, on
the appointed day, Frederick, accompanied by Fitzpatrick, drove to
the royal palace, and after traversing numerous halls and gorgeous
apartments thronged with courtiers, found himself in the presence of
the Guicowar, to whom he was introduced with due form and ceremony.

The first moments of the interview were passed almost in silence. Then
the Guicowar, addressing Frederick in English, declared that he was
happy to receive the son of so illustrious a soldier and statesman
as General von Waldberg, and bade him consider himself at home in
his dominions, adding that he would do all that lay in his power to
render Frederick's sojourn in Baroda as agreeable as possible. The
Guicowar wore a red velvet tunic, over which was spread a profusion
of magnificent jewels. His turban was adorned with an aigrette of
diamonds, among which sparkled the famous “Star of the South.” He
was at the time a man of about thirty-five years of age and of tall
and commanding stature. His complexion was tolerably clear, and his
strongly marked features at once gave a perfect idea of this singular
man, who to extreme gentleness in every-day intercourse united the most
atrocious cruelty on many other occasions. The origin of the dynasty
of the Guicowars is very interesting. Their name, “Guicowar,” of which
they are so extremely proud, signifies in the Mahratta language,
“Keeper of Cows,” and they are fond of tracing their descent to a
family of “Koumbis,” or peasants.

After a time hookhas, with jeweled amber mouthpieces, were brought
in, and both the colonel and Frederick, following the example of the
Guicowar, began to smoke in true oriental fashion. Meanwhile a number
of pretty girls, covered with trinkets and attired in thin chemises,
had stepped into the room. They were bayaderes, or dancing girls,
who played, sang, and danced for the entertainment of the Guicowar's
guests, moving with all the languid voluptuousness peculiar to the
East. These privileged individuals are allowed to come and go as they
please in the royal palace, as if to make up for the absence of the
ladies secluded in their Zenana. When, at the close of the audience,
which had lasted about two hours, Frederick at length took leave of
his dusky highness, he was thoroughly enraptured with all he had
seen. The Court of the Guicowar is the only one in India which has
preserved down to the present time the customs of the middle ages in
all their primitive splendor, and during his stay at Baroda, Frederick
had numerous opportunities of admiring the extreme luxury and lavish
magnificence of ceremonies which are not to be witnessed anywhere else
in the world.

Frederick soon began to feel as if he were a member of the colonel's
family. The old gentleman treated him like a son, and was never tired
of introducing him to all his friends and acquaintances. One morning he
proposed that they should call together on a Hindoo lady, the widow of
a great dignitary, and whose wealth was enormous. Being free of control
and of advanced notions, she was fond of frequenting good European
society, and would, so the colonel declared, be delighted to make Count
von Waldberg's acquaintance. The opportunities of entering the house of
a lady of great fortune and high caste in India are exceedingly rare,
for the rules of the Zenana are so strict and so full of deeply rooted
prejudices that even widows, proverbially forward, seldom dare to break
through them. Frederick, therefore, declared in reply that he would be
much pleased to avail himself of the colonel's offer.

The widow received them in a magnificently decorated room. Her face
was partly vailed by a rose-colored silk scarf, and her dress was
literally ablaze with diamonds, rubies, and gold. She was a woman of
between forty and fifty years of age, very dark, and with piercing
coal-black eyes. When the colonel and his young friend entered, she
quickly rose from the divan, and having shaken hands with them both in
European fashion, invited them to take seats on either side of her.
She began by thanking Colonel Fitzpatrick for having brought Count von
Waldberg to see her, and then, turning to the latter, added graciously
that she would be “at home” to him whenever he might deign to call
for the purpose of cheering her lonely life by his welcome presence.
Frederick assured her that he would frequently avail himself of her
permission,and the conversation then turned to European topics and to
social scandal both at home and abroad, concerning which the widow
appeared to know much more than might reasonably have been expected
from a Hindoo lady living in the seclusion of a Baroda Zenana.

Frederick could not help noticing the very marked impression that he
was producing on the widow. She addressed herself almost exclusively to
him, and her piercing eyes hardly ever left his face. She insisted on
their staying until nightfall, and when Frederick pleaded some urgent
business appointment she prevailed on Frederick to allow the colonel
to depart alone and to remain behind, at any rate until it was time
for the city gates to close. The heat being intense indoors, the widow
shortly afterward made a proposal that they should adjourn to the
gardens of her palace, and conducted him along a winding path sheltered
from the glare of the sun by the dense foliage of the sycamore trees to
a fairy-like kiosk, built on a kind of rocky promontory, which seemed
to hang out over the river. A gentle breeze made its way through the
closed lattices of the windows, and a pink marble fountain perfumed the
atmosphere with its jet of rose-water.

Frederick had entered this charming _buen retiro_ a free man. When he
left it he was enthralled by fetters which he would find it difficult
to sever.

He had been about four months at Baroda when one morning as he was in
the act of mounting his pony to ride over to pay his customary visit
to the widow a diminutive black boy stealthily slipped a note into his
hand. Hastily turning round Frederick recognized the grinning features
of Florence's little page, who, after making a profound salaam,
disappeared as fast as his legs would carry him. Putting his horse at a
walk the young count opened the letter and read the following words:

      “I will be this evening, at dusk, in the wood adjoining our
     bungalow, near the little temple of Jain. Meet me there. I must
     speak to you alone and without delay. I have a communication to
     make to you of such importance that our lives are endangered
     thereby. Oh, my love, my love! Why are you so cruel?”

With a stifled curse Frederick crushed the note in his hand and thrust
it into one of the outside pockets of his jacket. Then, giving his
unfortunate pony a vicious dig with his spurs, he started off at a
sharp canter, and fifteen minutes later he alighted at the palace of
the widow, who, having become insanely jealous, was making his life a
perfect burden to him.

On that particular morning she was more than usually fractious and
exacting, and it was only by playing the part of an enthusiastic
and passionate lover that he could in any way pacify her. When at
length he reached home he was in a state of exasperation bordering on
frenzy. Flinging himself upon the couch in his room he gave way to a
most violent fit of rage. Suddenly remembering Florence's note he put
his hand into his pocket, with the object of reading it once more.
The letter, however, was gone. It was in vain that he turned all his
pockets inside out; the note had disappeared. This caused him a moment
of anxiety, but on second thought he remembered that it bore neither
signature nor address, and, taking it for granted that it had dropped
from his pocket while riding, he dismissed the subject from his mind.

Shortly after sundown he started to walk through the wood to the little
temple of Jain where Florence had requested him to meet her. It was
a lovely and romantic spot. The small temple, built of delicately
chiseled stone forming a kind of open trellis work, was surmounted
by nine little carved domes and tiny fretted minarets. All round the
building rose half-broken columns, the ruins of a mosque, while huge
trees covered the spot with deep shade, and Barbary figs, cactuses and
poisonous euphorbias enveloped the ancient stones. Thousands of parrots
and humming birds dwelt in the branches of the sycamores and palms and
flew off at the slightest sound. The place was very lonely, and as he
approached it there was no sound save the babble of a brook whispering
among tall rushes and lotus plants to be heard in the quiet evening air.

Florence, who had been sitting on the fragments of the basalt column,
rose to her feet as she saw him coming, and advanced toward him with
outstretched hands. She had been a very beautiful girl a few months
previously, but the brilliant pink color, which was one of her chief
charms, had now given place to a sickly pallor. Her cheeks were haggard
and drawn and her soft brown eyes had a sad and hunted expression which
was very painful to see in one so young and fair.

“Fred,” exclaimed she, as he took her hands in his and bent to kiss
her cheek. “I cannot bear this any longer. You promised me long ago
that you would talk to my father! Why don't you do so now? The time
has come! I have asked you to come here to-day to tell you that soon I
shall be unable to conceal my shame any longer. Already now I tremble
every time my dear father looks at me, and I have no strength left to
carry on this horrible deceit any longer.”

As she said this she leaned her head on her lover's shoulder and sobbed
bitterly.

The expression on Frederick's face became very dark, now that her face
was hidden against his breast and that she could no longer see him.
He bit his lips savagely and his eyes flashed with anger. Here was a
pretty state of things. What was he to do? She must be pacified with
new promises and induced to wait till he could find means to flee once
more before the storm which he seemed to call forth wherever he went.
He tried to compose his features and to soften the tones of his voice.
Drawing the weeping girl closer to him he murmured, gently:

“Look here, Florence, you must not give way like this! You only hurt
yourself and pain me. You know how doubly precious your life is to me
now. Do not doubt me! Believe me, I am acting for the best. You shall
be my wife long before many days are passed and long before there
is any danger of discovery. You are nervous and low-spirited, and
exaggerate the difficulties of our situation. I adore you! That ought
to satisfy you, together with the knowledge that I will guard you from
any misfortune and trouble. Cheer up, darling! Better times are coming.
Have patience but a little longer.”

As he said this they both gave a sudden start of terror. Behind them in
the thicket they heard the noise of a broken twig and the rustle of a
dress. Florence, in an agony of fright, tore herself from his embrace
and disappeared in the direction of her father's bungalow, exclaiming
as she rushed off:

“God help us! We are discovered!”

Frederick, turning toward the tangled bushes whence the sound had
proceeded, found himself face to face with the widow.

The latter presented a truly awful appearance as she advanced toward
him. Her black eyes were distended with fury, and her face, from which
the vail had fallen, was distorted by a cruel and mocking smile.

“Is that the way you keep your troth to me, you miserable scoundrel?”
screamed she, clutching hold of Frederick's arm. “Is that my reward for
the love of which I have given you so many proofs? Is that the return
for the bounty I have heaped upon you—for all my lavish generosity?”

“Silence!” exclaimed Frederick, “and cease to taunt me about your gifts
and presents. They have been purchased dearly enough in all conscience.
I have never given you the right to control my actions. Although I may
be a mere boy compared to you, yet I am old enough to take care of
myself.

“Is that it, then? So I am too old for you! You dare to let me see that
all your pretenses of love were only due to your greed for my wealth!
The widow is good enough to furnish you with money and to help you to
pay your numerous debts! But you require something younger, lovelier,
and more attractive than I am, to satisfy your passions.”

Frederick muttered a terrible oath.

“I wonder,” she continued, “what your friend Col. Fitzpatrick will say
when I inform him how you have betrayed his hospitality and dishonored
his daughter. As there is a heaven above us, I swear to take such a
revenge, both on you and upon your light-o'-love, that you will live to
curse the day on which you were born.”

Frederick, exasperated beyond all expression, shook her hand roughly
off his arm, saying as he did so:

“Do anything you please, but be silent now! You have said more than
enough! I have done forever with yourself, your money, and the very
questionable charms of your acquaintance! Good-evening.”

Turning his back on her, he was about to effect his retreat when the
frantic woman bounded toward him and clutched him by his coat with such
violence that he nearly lost his balance.

“Thief, coward, traitor! You shall not leave me thus!” hissed the widow
through her clenched teeth.

Almost blind with rage, Frederick caught her by both arms and pushed
her from him with such brutality that she fell backward, striking her
head as she did so on the jagged edge of a broken marble column. The
young man attempted to raise her from the ground, but she lay back
lifeless on the greensward.

Trembling with fear, Frederick put his hand to her heart. It had ceased
to beat. For the second time within the space of six months Frederick
had become a murderer. The full horror of the situation flashed through
his mind like a streak of lightning. He must leave Baroda at once. But
how was he to do so without money? Not a moment was to be lost, and
without casting a look behind him he hurried toward the city, leaving
the corpse of his victim lying among the ruins of the temple, with her
poor livid face and wide-open eyes, still distorted by passion, turned
upward toward the dark heavens, where the crescent of the new moon was
rising.

Half an hour later Frederick presented himself at the gate of the
widow's palace and asked to see her. The servants replied that their
mistress had gone out two hours previously and that she was expected
back every minute. If his excellency would take the trouble of walking
up stairs he might wait for her in her boudoir. Shortly afterward
Frederick came down stairs again, and handing the servant a card for
the widow declared that, being pressed for time, he was unable to wait
any longer.

He then hastened to his hotel and locked himself up in his room,
determined to pack up his belongings and find an excuse for leaving
Baroda the next morning. He was not short of money now, for, emptying
his pockets on the table, he sat for some moments gazing at a heap of
gold pieces and jewels which must have amounted to a value of over
several thousands of pounds. Locking this treasure in a small trunk, he
was just about to change his clothes for evening dress when there was a
loud knock at the door. Frederick started and looked helplessly around
him before hoarsely exclaiming:

“Who is there?”

“It is I,” replied the voice of Col. Fitzpatrick. “Open the door, my
dear boy. I want to speak to you.”

Somewhat reassured, Frederick hastened to admit the colonel, who,
throwing himself on a chair, exclaimed:

“A terrible thing has happened. You will be horribly shocked. Our poor
old friend, the widow, has been found murdered near the ruins of the
Temple of Jain,” and without noticing the ashy hue of Frederick's face
he continued: “Her assassin was captured just as he was attempting to
remove from her corpse the jewels which she wore. The whole town is in
an uproar about it, and the culprit was nearly torn to pieces by the
people when he was taken through the streets on his way to the prison.”

[Illustration: ROBBING THE MURDERED WIDOW.]

“You say her murderer is captured?”

“Yes,” answered the colonel, “and a villainous, hang-dog looking fellow
he is, too—a member of some of those wandering tribes of beggars who
infest our part of the country—and no mercy will be shown to him.”

Frederick instantly realized that it was necessary for his safety
that he should remain at least some days longer at Baroda, so as not
to arouse, by his sudden departure, suspicions which had, so luckily
for him, taken another direction, and, coolly finishing his toilet,
he accompanied the colonel to a dinner party at the bungalow of the
English political resident.

Three days afterward Frederick received an invitation from the Guicowar
to be present at the execution of the widow's murderer, who was
condemned to undergo the punishment of “death by the elephant.”

[Illustration: EXECUTION BY ELEPHANT.]

This punishment is one of the most frightful that can possibly be
imagined. The culprit, secured hand and foot, is fastened to the
elephant's hind leg by a long cord passed round his waist. The latter
is urged into a rapid trot through the streets of the city, and
every step gives the cord a violent jerk which makes the body of the
condemned wretch bound on the pavement. On arriving at the place of
execution he is released, and by a refinement of cruelty a glass of
water is given to him. Then when he has sufficiently recovered to feel
the throes of death his head is placed upon a stone block, and the
elephant executioner is made to crush it beneath his enormous foot.

Up to this juncture Frederick, though very pale, had remained standing
behind the Guicowar's chair, his eyes intently fixed on the horrible
scene which was being enacted before his eyes. But at the moment when
the head of the poor innocent man was being crushed to atoms under the
dull thud of the monster's foot he uttered a cry of horror and sank to
the ground in a dead faint.



CHAPTER VII.

ARREST EVADED.


The transcontinental express was speeding on its way along the banks of
the mighty River Ganges, between Agra and Benares, on a dark night at
the beginning of the rainy season. On reaching Allahabad two English
officers boarded the train, and on displaying their tickets were
shown to their places in one of the three roomy compartments of the
luxuriously appointed sleeping-cars.

The lamp was shaded by a green silk blind, and the hermetically closed
gauze musquito curtains of one of the upper berths indicated that it
was tenanted by a sleeping traveler.

Not having very far to go, the new-comers stretched themselves on their
couches without undressing and began to converse in a low tone of voice.

“Have you heard about this terrible business at Baroda?” inquired the
taller of the two.

“No,” replied the other. “I am only just down from the hills and have
hardly seen a newspaper or spoken to a civilized being since we landed
at Bombay.”

“Well,” continued the former, “do you remember that young German Count
whom we had on board on our voyage out and who‘rooked’ us so terribly
at cards?”

“By Jove, I should think I did! Why, he won a couple of hundred off
me. Never saw such infernal luck. Wasn't his name Dalberg or Waldberg,
or something of the kind? He was awfully spooney on old Fitzpatrick's
pretty daughter, now that I think of it. What's become of the fair
Florence?”

“She's dead, poor girl.”

“Dead! You don't mean to say so! Why, she looked the very embodiment of
health and happiness on board. What on earth did she die of?”

“Well, the story is a sad one, and makes my blood boil whenever I think
of it. It appears that old Fitzpatrick invited Waldberg, whose father
he had met in Europe, to visit him at Baroda, and had him staying at
his house for quite a number of weeks. The only return which the
cursed scoundrel saw fit to make for all the hospitality and kindness
lavished on him by the colonel was to betray the latter's daughter
under a promise of marriage.

“Unable to conceal her shame any longer, and driven to desperation
by the sudden disappearance of her lover from Baroda, the poor girl
committed suicide. She was seen by some natives, who were on their way
down the river, to throw herself into the stream, but on quickly rowing
to the spot they were unable to find any trace of her body, which
had evidently been dragged under by the crocodiles which infest the
Wishwamitra.

[Illustration: FLORENCE FITZPATRICK'S SUICIDE.]

It is said that she left a letter imploring her father's pardon, and
stating the reasons which had led her to put an end to her life. The
old man's grief, I hear, is something heart-rending, and in the agony
of the first moments, he allowed the secret of his daughter's ruin by
Count von Waldberg to escape his lips. His frenzy against the latter is
beyond all description, and he has sworn to hunt him down, wherever he
may have fled to, to bring him to account.”

While Captain Clery—for it was he—was in the act of thus describing
the fate of poor Florence Fitzpatrick, the curtains of the upper berth
were slightly pushed aside, and the head of a man might have been seen
to bend forward as he listened intently to the story. But at the last
words thereof he hurriedly closed the curtains again and disappeared
from view.

This incident had escaped the notice of the two officers, and Captain
Clery continued as follows:

“But this is not all. There are some very ugly suspicions concerning
Waldberg in connection with the murder of a rich Hindoo widow, who was
found dead, with her skull fractured, among the ruins of an ancient
temple, in a wood adjoining the Fitzpatrick bungalow. Her servants have
since made disclosures which conclusively prove that Waldberg had been
her lover during almost the entire period of his stay at Baroda. A
quarter of an hour before her body was discovered, Waldberg is said to
have visited her apartments alone, and a considerable amount of money
and jewels are ascertained to have been abstracted therefrom. Moreover,
in the letter which Florence left for her father she hinted that one of
the reasons of her suicide was that she believed her lover to have been
guilty of a terrible crime and declared that her last interview with
him had taken place near the ruins of the temple above mentioned, just
before the body of the murdered woman was discovered. An unfortunate
Bengalee beggar, who was found hovering over the corpse of the widow
as if about to rob it of its jewels, was publicly put to death a few
days later on the charge of having killed her. The execution took place
in the presence of Waldberg, who is now believed to have been the real
assassin and who was invited by the Guicowar to witness the horrible
scene. It appears that the count was unable to bear the sight, and that
he fainted away, creating a great commotion thereby. A few hours later
he suddenly left Baroda, informing the colonel by letter that he was
called away on most urgent business. He has not been heard of since,
but the police are on the look out for him.”

A few minutes later the train steamed into the station of Allahabad,
and the two officers, gathering up their cloaks, swords, and other
traps, left the sleeping-car.

As soon as the express had again started on its way to Calcutta the
man who had displayed such an intense interest in the conversation of
Captain Clery and his friend cautiously descended from his berth and
began to dress himself as noiselessly as possible. Drawing the blind
aside for a moment from the lamp, the dim light thereof revealed the
features of Frederick von Waldberg. As soon as he had finished dressing
he repaired to the cabinet de toilette of the sleeping-car, taking
with him a small leather dressing-case. When he emerged therefrom
a few minutes later it was to be seen that he had shaven off the
short beard which he had allowed to grow during his stay at Baroda.
Anxious, however, to avoid attracting the attention of the conductor
to this metamorphosis, he threw a light Inverness cape overcoat over
his shoulders, pulled the collar over his ears, and, drawing his soft
felt traveling hat low down over his eyes, sat motionless in a corner,
apparently fast asleep.

The morning after his arrival at Calcutta, Frederick took passage
on a sailing ship bound for Havre. He was dressed in the garb of a
workingman, and gave his name as Franz Werner, and his trade as that
of a painter and decorator. He informed the skipper that, his health
having been broken by a long stay in the murderous climate of Bengal,
the doctor had prescribed the long sea voyage round the Cape as his
only hope of recovery. He gave this as the reason for his preferring
to return to Europe by a sailing ship instead of by one of the mail
steamers via the Suez Canal.

Once again Frederick had succeeded in evading capture and arrest for
his crimes.



CHAPTER VIII.

A COMPACT WITH ROSE.


Toward the end of September, 1871, Count Frederick von Waldberg,
alias Franz Werner, arrived in Paris and took up his quarters at a
well-known hotel in the Rue de Rivoli under the name of Baron F. Wolff.
He stated that he had just arrived from Japan, a country in which he
claimed to have resided for over two years. As he spent his money very
liberally he was taken at his word and treated with great respect and
consideration at the hotel, where he soon made the acquaintance of
several American and English families who proposed to spend the winter
at Paris. Frederick's personal appearance had undergone such a change
during the twelve months which had elapsed since he left Paris that
there was not much fear of his being recognized by any of his former
acquaintances. He had grown taller and broader, his face was bronzed by
the Indian sun, and his beard, which he had once more allowed to grow
during the long sea voyage, caused him to look much older than he was
in reality.

One night, some two months after his arrival at Paris, he accompanied
three of his new acquaintances to the Jardin Mabille, at that time a
well-known rendezvous of the _jeunesse doree_ and of the demi-mondaines
of every class.

[Illustration: FREDERICK AT THE JARDIN MABILLE.]

He was standing near the orchestra, leaning against one of the
artificial palm trees loaded with fantastically colored glass fruits,
each of which contained a tiny gas jet, and was watching the gay
throng of dancers as they bounded through the intricate figures of a
disheveled can-can, when suddenly a woman, who was conspicuous by the
enormous amount of satin, lace, and flowers which she had managed to
accumulate about the lower part of her person, and by the extraordinary
scantiness of her corsage, stopped in front of him, and with the tip
of her satin-slippered foot delicately knocked his hat from off his
head to the ground. This being by no means an unusual feat among the
female habitues of Mabille, the incident did not attract much attention
and no one noticed the start of surprise and consternation with which
Frederick recognized in the painted creature with dyed hair his wife
Rose—Countess of Waldberg.

As his hat fell to the ground, the mocking smile on Rose's face
disappeared. Her features assumed a hard, stony expression; there was
a dangerous glitter in her eyes, and she gave one or two convulsive
little shivers, as if striving to control her feelings. Then, rapidly
bending toward him, she murmured:

“Come with me, quickly. I must speak to you at once.”

Frederick, realizing that the recognition had been mutual and afraid
that if he made any attempt to resist she would create a disturbance
and reveal his identity to all the bystanders, followed her without a
word. They soon reached a part of the gardens which was comparatively
deserted, and Rose led the way to a small arbor. Throwing herself
down on one of the wooden benches, she crossed her arms, and, looking
insolently into her husband's face, exclaimed, in a hard, rasping voice:

“Concealment is useless with me. I would have recognized you fifty
years hence. If love is blind, hatred is not. I have a little account
to square with you, _mon cher_, and you had better hear me out. I am
not surprised at your look of alarm when you realized who it was that
had kicked at your hat. It is unpleasant to be recognized when one has
so very much to keep dark.”

“What do you mean? I do not understand you.”

“Oh, yes, you do. The newspapers have hinted at your doings in India,
and a man who had made your acquaintance out there caught sight of one
of your portraits in my rooms about a fortnight ago. From him—I forget
his name, but he was an English captain—I heard the whole story of your
connection with the murder of——”

“Hush, for Heavens sake! not so loud!” interrupted Frederick,
terror-stricken. “You don't know what you are saying! If any one were
to hear you!”

“What do I care if the whole world hears?” retorted Rose. “You didn't
take the trouble of thinking about the world's opinion when you thrust
your wife out into the street in the middle of the night and suffered
her to be locked up at St. Lazarre as a common street-walker. Every dog
has its day, Monsieur le Comte, and I mean to show you that I can be as
cruel and relentless as you are yourself.”

“You surely will not betray me, Rose. You loved me once. I am a rich
man now, and can do much for you, if you will only be reasonable,”
exclaimed Frederick, imploringly.

He saw that his safety depended on Rose's silence and determined to do
everything that he could to propitiate her and to gain time. She looked
up with something like relenting in her hard blue eyes. The mention
of his wealth had evidently created some impression on her mercenary
nature.

“Why, why,” laughed she, “misfortunes seem to have rendered you more
reasonable, and to have softened your temper somewhat. It's more than
they have done for me. I don't think that I ever had what you can call
_un cœur sensible_ (a soft heart), but now I have none left at all.
Give me money, jewels, an easy life, and I am easy enough to manage! A
fig for sentiment! It's all bosh!”

Frederick, shuddering at the vulgarity displayed by the woman who was
still legally his wife, and fearing that his friends, missing him,
might hunt him up and insist on being introduced to his companion,
touched her lightly on the shoulder, saying:

“Come, Rose, let me take you home. It is impossible to talk quietly
here, and I have much to say to you. This is no place for you.”

The woman shook his hand off, with a sneer.

“How very particular you have become! This place is decidedly more
pleasant than the “violon” (cell at police station) or St. Lazarre.
It is true that the society which one meets at the Jardin Mabille is
slightly mixed, but by far not so much as in the two places I have
just mentioned. Come home with me, if you like. It will show you what
you have made of me—of me, the Countess von Waldberg. I wonder if your
conscience ever troubles you. You have a good deal to answer for, my
dear Frederick!”

Frederick having dispatched a waiter to fetch her wraps from the
cloak-room, for she had been sitting all this time with bared
shoulders, offered her his arm and led her away. As they were stepping
forth into the street, the young man felt a slight tap on his shoulder,
and, turning quickly around, found himself face to face with one of his
American friends, who laughingly exclaimed:

“I see you have met your fate, my dear Wolff; I congratulate you. Don't
forget that we have those two men to lunch at the hotel to-morrow.”

And with a parting “au revoir, baron,” he jumped into a fiacre, and
in a loud, cheery tone of voice, bade the coachman drive home to the
Hotel Kensington. A couple of minutes later, Frederick, who was greatly
put out at thus having his alias and his residence made known to Rose,
hailed a passing cab, and a quarter of an hour afterward arrived at her
apartments in the Rue de Constantinople. They consisted of four rooms,
the tawdry ornaments, greasy furniture, vulgar attempts at display and
false elegance of which denoted that their tenant had sunk to the level
of a third-rate _cocotte_.

Before Frederick left Rose that night he succeeded in exacting a
promise from her that as long as he maintained her in luxury and gave
her all the money she wanted, she would make no attempt to reveal
his identity or to injure him in any way. He handed her a couple of
thousand-franc bank-notes on his departure, and, promising to call on
the following afternoon, strolled back to his hotel.

“She knows too much! She is dangerous! This will never do!” he muttered
to himself, as he walked along under the arcades of the Rue de Rivoli.

He knew full well that as he was able to provide her with money, he
would not have much to fear from her. She was far too careful of her
own interests to kill the goose that laid the golden eggs by forcing
him to take to flight. But, unfortunately, he was ever of a spendthrift
disposition. His tastes, pleasures, and mode of life were extravagant;
gold escaped like water through his fingers, and he realized that as
soon as the last penny of the money which he had abstracted from the
murdered widow's apartments at Baroda had been spent he would find
himself powerless to silence Rose, whose revelations would inevitably
result in a demand for his extradition on the part of the Anglo-Indian
Government.

Several days went by. He had installed Rose in a very handsomely
furnished apartment on the Avenue de l'Imperatrice, and had presented
her with a carriage and pair, besides providing her with jewels and
handsome dresses. It became noised abroad among the demi-monde that she
had become the mistress of a wealthy Austrian named Baron Wolff, and
both Frederick and Rose were careful to avoid any allusion to the real
relationship which existed between them.

Rose found that by means of a few judicious taunts and threats she
was able to get anything she wanted out of him. Of love between this
curiously assorted couple there was none, and with each additional
demand for money on her part the hatred and loathing with which he
regarded her increased.

One evening, about a month after his meeting with Rose at the Jardin
Mabille, Frederick entered her drawing-room half an hour before dinner,
carrying in his hand a large bouquet of gardenias and white lilac. It
was her birthday, and after having duly congratulated her he handed
her a blue velvet box, which she opened with a cry of delight. It
contained a bracelet composed of superb sapphires which a few months
previously had figured on the wrist of the murdered widow at Baroda.
Kissing her hand with old-fashioned courtesy, Frederick clasped the
jewel round Rose's shapely arm, and then led her before one of the huge
mirrors which gleamed here and there between the plush hangings of the
luxuriously appointed room. They were indeed a handsome couple as they
stood there gazing at their reflections in the glass. Rose was now
dressed in perfect taste, and her pale-blue satin dinner dress set off
her beauty to perfection. Suddenly she looked up at him with a mocking
smile, and exclaimed, with a sneer:

“What a charming pair we are to be sure! No wonder we love each other
so tenderly.”

They remained a long time at table that night, sipping their wine, and
for a wonder chatting peacefully and pleasantly. Suddenly Rose jumped
up and exclaimed:

“By the by, Frederick, I must show you a letter which I received
to-day. There is a kind of East Indian nabob who is staying here at the
Grand Hotel. He has seen me at the opera, and writes to make me the
most dazzling proposals,” added she, cynically.

It was one of Rose's chief delights to show her husband what she had
now become; and without giving him time to say a word she ran lightly
out of the room in quest of the letter.

Hardly had she disappeared behind the portiere which hung before the
door than Frederick, who had suddenly grown very pale, took from his
waistcoat-pocket a small cut-glass bottle filled with a colorless and
transparent fluid. Bending over the table, he dropped part of its
contents in the half-finished glass of green chartreuse which stood in
front of Rose's plate. With an almost supernatural coolness he shook
the mixture, so as to amalgamate it properly, and then sank back into
his chair and lit a cigar, as if to give himself what the French call a
“countenance.”

At this moment Rose reappeared, holding in her hand an open letter.

“Let me read this to you. It will show you that if you don't behave I
can do without you, sir,” she said.

“Nonsense, Rose! What pleasure can it afford you to be always teasing
me? You are not half so bad as you try to make yourself out to be.
Here, let me drink your health again. That will be much more to the
purpose!”

Rose laughed a harsh, unlovely laugh, and seizing hold of her glass
clinked it against her husband's and tossed the liquor down her throat
with a “cranerie” which showed that she was not afraid of a stiff drink!

“What a peculiar taste this chartreuse has,” she said, as she threw
herself back in her chair.

Frederick laughed rather uneasily.

“You swallowed it too quickly. It is a pity, for it is good stuff, and
I prefer taking mine more quietly,” continued he, raising his own glass
to his lips.

“I feel awfully jolly to-night,” exclaimed Rose, jumping up from her
chair again and beginning to restlessly pace the floor. “We ought to go
out. Why don't you take me to some theater? Oh! it's too late for that!
Let us go to my boudoir and have some music; it will remind us of past
times.”

She left the room, beckoning him to follow. He did so, but as soon as
she rose from the table he quietly pocketed the glass from which she
had been drinking. He found Rose in the act of opening all the windows
in her boudoir. She was unusually flushed, and he noticed that the
pupils of her bright blue eyes were greatly contracted. This gave her
so strange and wild a look that he started back as she turned toward
him.

“How oppressively hot it is to-night, Frederick!” said she, in a
muffled voice, and breathing heavily.

“Why, no; it is not warmer than usual. You must have been drinking too
much, Rose. Compose yourself. Come here and lie down on the sofa, while
I play you some of your favorite melodies.”

Saying this, he sat down at the piano and began to play at random,
watching her intently all the time as she flitted about the room.
At the end of a few minutes she flung herself down on a lounge and
closed her eyes. She breathed more heavily than before, and from time
to time passed her hand across her forehead, which was bathed in cold
perspiration.

All at once she opened her eyes again. They were now dilated as if by
pain.

“Frederick,” she cried, in a low, oppressed kind of tone, “please come
here. I am not feeling well. I wish you would give me a glass of water.”

He walked to a side table and brought her a large glass filled to the
brim with iced water, which she drank eagerly.

“I am so sleepy,” murmured she, lying down again on the cushions.

Frederick sat down near her on the edge of the lounge, and watched
her curiously. Her face had assumed a cadaverous aspect, and now and
again she shuddered from head to foot. She appeared to be suffocating,
and there was a bluish tint round her drawn mouth and sunken eyes.
Frederick did not move. His face was nearly as white as that of his
victim. But he made no attempt to help or to assist her. He cruelly,
and in cold blood this time, allowed the poison to take definite hold
of her system, and his pitiless eyes remained fastened on her distorted
face without once relenting.

Gradually her breathing became less and less audible, and a few
moments later it had entirely ceased. Placing his hand to her bosom he
convinced himself that the beating of the heart had stopped forever.

Then arising from the couch he calmly removed his picture from its
place on the table, and then, loudly ringing the bell, he summoned the
servants.

The violence of the peal brought two or three of them to the door. They
found Baron Wolff apparently in a state of extreme excitement, trying
with all his might to revive their mistress as she lay unconscious on
the sofa.

“Quick! For Heaven's sake! Run for a doctor! Madam is very ill. She is
in a fit!” exclaimed he, wringing his hands.



CHAPTER IX.

ARRESTED.


Two nights afterward, as Frederick was seated at dinner in the large
dining-room of the Cafe Riche, two well dressed men walked up to his
table and informed him that they had a warrant for his arrest on a
charge of having murdered the demi-mondaine, Rose Hartmann.

[Illustration: FREDERICK ARRESTED FOR MURDER.]

It is needless to recount the weary formalities and interrogatories
to which Frederick was subjected during the next few weeks. He was,
however, clever enough to evade all attempts made to discover his
real identity, and was encouraged by his lawyer to believe that his
conviction on the evidence which had been obtained against him would be
a matter of great difficulty.

A month later the trial was opened with due form and ceremony. As soon
as the judges—dressed in their scarlet robes lined with ermine—had
taken their seats, immediately under the life-like picture of the
Crucifixion which forms so striking a feature of every French court
of justice, the prisoner was led in between two “Gardes de Paris,”
and was conducted to his place in the dock. The court-room was
comparatively empty, popular interest at that moment being centered in
the courts-martial which were being held at Versailles on the various
leaders of the Commune. After again stating in reply to the inquiries
of the president that his name was Frederick Wolff, and that he was of
Austrian origin, although born in London, his indictment was read. It
charged him with having administered a poisonous dose of morphia to his
mistress a _femme galante_ of the name of Rose Hartmann, a native of
Berlin. It further stated that an autopsy had revealed the fact that
the dose had been administered in a manner which displayed an intimate
knowledge of the chemical properties of the drug.

Frederick's counsel thereupon arose and began his speech in defense
of the young man. He urged that his client could have no object in
murdering his mistress, to whom he was passionately attached, and on
whom he had showered innumerable and lavish tokens of his affection. He
painted in graphic colors the career of the dead woman in the annals
of the Parisian _galanterie_, related how Frederick had made her
acquaintance at the Jardin Mabille, and finally wound up by insinuating
that, the woman being addicted to the use of chloral and morphia as
sleeping draughts, her death was due to an overdose of the drug,
administered by her own hand. He concluded his speech by an eloquent
appeal to the jury to acquit his client.

The advocate-general (district attorney) then arose and begged leave
of the court to summon two witnesses of whose existence he had only
become aware a few hours previously, and whose testimony was calculated
to shed a most important light on the case. A few moments afterward a
short, fat man, with spectacles, was shown into the witness-box.

Frederick, who had retained a stoical calm until then, became deadly
pale.

The witness, after having been duly sworn, stated that his name was
Christian Martin, and that he was a bookseller by trade. He testified
that about ten days before the newspapers published an account of the
murder of Rose Hartmann, a young man visited his shop in the Rue de
Rivoli, and purchased several works on toxicology. He had specially
asked for the most recent publications on the subject of opium and
morphine, and explained that he had recently returned from a long
sojourn in the far East, where he had become interested in the study
of the deleterious effects of these drugs among the natives. The
bookseller added that the stranger had declined to allow him to send
the books selected, but had insisted on taking them away with him in
his carriage. M. Martin's attention had been specially attracted to the
young man by the mention of his residence in the Orient, and by the
remarkable knowledge which he displayed of the properties of hashish,
and other narcotics used by the Asiatics. He had, however, thought
no more about the matter until the previous evening, when passing in
front of the offices of the _Figaro_, a portrait displayed on the
bulletin-board of the newspaper had caught his eye. On examining it
more closely, he had recognized therein the features of the gentleman
who had visited his shop some weeks previously for the purpose of
buying books on toxicology; and having learned from the superscription
that it was the picture of “Baron” F. Wolff, the suspected murderer
of Rose Hartmann, he had deemed it his duty to inform the commissary
of police of the district of the facts above mentioned. The latter,
knowing that the trial was about to begin, had given him a letter to
the advocate-general and had sent him off post-haste to the Palais de
Justice.

[Illustration: FREDERICK ON TRIAL FOR HIS LIFE.]

The sensation produced by this evidence both on the judges and the jury
was most prejudicial to Frederick's case, which until then had appeared
extremely promising.

But the climax was reached when, a few minutes afterward, a lady, in an
extremely loud and startling toilet, was ushered into the witness-box.
Frederick gazed at her inquiringly, but was unable to recall to mind
ever having met her before.

“Your name, madam?” inquired the president.

“Cora de St. Augustin.”

“Your residence?”

“206 Rue Blanche.”

“Your age?”

(After a moment's hesitation). “Nineteen.”

“Your profession?”

(A long pause). “Premiere danseuse.”

The Judge—“Of what theater? Is it of the Grande Opera?”

(A little longer pause). “_Non, mon President—du—du Jardin Mabille._”

This announcement appeared to create a considerable amount of amusement
in court.

After furnishing the court with information on all these points, “Mme.
de St. Augustin” proceeded to relate that she had been on terms of
great intimacy with Rose Hartmann, whose acquaintance she admitted,
after some pressure on the part of the president, to having made at
St. Lazarre. Meeting Rose a few days after the latter's migration from
the Rue de Constantinople to the Avenue de l'Imperatrice, she had
congratulated her on her altered fortunes, and had questioned her about
her new “_Protecteur_.” Rose, it appeared, had replied, that, as far as
the material advantages were concerned, she had nothing to complain of,
but that her lover was a peculiar kind of man, with whom she did not
feel altogether safe, and that, if she listened to her presentiments,
she would certainly decline to have anything further to do with him.
“She added,” declared the fair Cora, “‘I have a queer, uncanny feeling
about that man. Indeed, I shouldn't be surprised if I came to grief
through him some day. Remember, _ma chere_, if anything ever happens to
me, you may depend upon it that he will have had something to do with
the matter. I believe him to be capable of anything, but he is too good
a catch, financially speaking, to be abandoned until a more desirable
party turns up.’”

Then, satisfied with the impression which her remarks had produced,
the witness turned toward the judges, and inquired whether “_ces
messieurs_” had any further questions to ask. On receiving a reply in
the negative, she swept out of the witness-box, and dropping a low
courtesy, in which she graciously included both the public and the
tribunal, she passed out.

Thereupon, the advocate-general arose and commenced his argument for
the prosecution. He used the evidence of the two witnesses who had
just been heard by the court with crushing effect, and wound up his
brilliant and clever peroration by a demand to the jury that they
should mete out to the prisoner the full penalty of the law.

The jury then retired, and remained absent about three-quarters of an
hour. When they reappeared, their foreman, in response to the inquiry
of the presiding judge, declared that their unanimous verdict was to
the effect that the prisoner was guilty of the murder of Rose Hartmann;
but that, in view of the purely circumstantial nature of the evidence
submitted to them, they recommended him to the mercy of the court.

The president, addressing Frederick, asked whether he had any reason to
put forward why the sentence of the law should not be pronounced upon
him.

Amid a profound silence, Frederick answered:

“I can only once more swear by all that I hold sacred that I am
innocent of the crime laid to my charge. I was deeply attached to the
poor girl whom I am accused of having murdered, and it ought to be
clear to every one present that I had no possible object to attain in
putting an end to her days. It is not mercy I demand, but justice.”

The president, after consulting with his two associate judges, then,
in a loud and impressive voice, pronounced the sentence of the
court, whereby “Frederick Wolff” was condemned to twenty years penal
servitude, and to ten years more police supervision and loss of civil
rights.



CHAPTER X.

FREDERICK'S PUNISHMENT.


The judge had scarcely uttered the last words of the sentence, when
Frederick's arms were grasped on either side by a stalwart “Garde de
Paris,” and he was hurried from the court-room. Instead of being taken
back to the “Mazas” House of Detention, where he had been imprisoned
until then, he was conveyed to “La Grande Roquette,” which he was to
visit some years later under still more dramatic circumstances.

“La Grande Roquette,” besides containing the cells for prisoners under
sentence of death, is used as a depot for convicts pending their
transfer either to the penitentiaries or to the penal colonies.

On arriving within the gloomy walls of this terrible prison, from
whose portals none step forth excepting to the scaffold or to undergo
a long term of disgrace and social death, Frederick was taken to the
“Greffe” (register's office). There he surrendered the name of “Wolff,”
under which he had been sentenced, and received instead the numeral by
which henceforth he was to be designated. From thence he was conducted
to the barber-shop, where his beard was removed and his head shaved.
The clothes which he had worn until then were now taken away from him,
and he was forced to assume the hideous garb of a condemned prisoner.

[Illustration: FREDERICK IN HIS CONVICT DRESS.]

A few days later a special train, consisting of eight railway
carriages, partitioned off into small and uncomfortable cells, lighted
only by ventilators from the roof, steamed out of the Gare d'Orleans
on its way to St. Martin de Re. Among the number of blood-stained
criminals of every imaginable category which constituted its living
freight, was Frederick Count von Waldberg, alias Franz Werner, alias
Baron Wolff, but now known only as No. 21,003.

Before proceeding any further, it may be as well to devote a few
words to an explanation of the somewhat remarkable fact that nobody
at Paris should have recognized the identity of Baron Wolff with the
Count von Waldberg, who had resided for some months on the banks of
the Seine previous to the fall of the empire. In the first place, as
has been already stated, his personal appearance had undergone a most
remarkable change during his absence in the East; and, secondly, the
siege by the Germans and the subsequent insurrection of the Commune
had so thoroughly disorganized the metropolitan police and judicial
administrations, whose ranks were now filled by entirely new and
inexperienced men that his success in concealing his real rank and
station had nothing surprising in it.

On reaching St. Martin de Re, Frederick was manacled to a
repulsive-looking prisoner, and was fastened to a long chain to which
some sixty other convicts were attached. Escorted by gendarmes with
loaded rifles, they were led down to the sea-shore and embarked on huge
flat-bottomed barges or pontoons for conveyance to the ship which lay
in the offing, which was to be their place of abode for the three weary
months which would elapse before their arrival in New Caledonia.

The Loire was one of the small fleet of old sailing ships which have
been fitted up for the transport of convicts to Noumea and to Cayenne,
and which are nicknamed “Les Omnibuses du Bagne.” Steam vessels are
not used for this purpose, as speed is no object, and the voyage to
France's penitential colony in Australasia is effected via the Cape of
Good Hope, instead of by the Suez Canal. The lower decks are divided up
into a series of large iron cages, in which the convicts are imprisoned
by groups of sixty. These cages are separated from each other by narrow
passages, along which armed sentinels pace day and night. Once every
morning, and once every afternoon, the prisoners are brought up on
deck for an hour's airing when the weather is fine; but when storms
prevail, they are frequently confined in the stifling atmosphere of the
lower decks for whole weeks at a time. In front of every cage, hydrants
are fixed, by means of which, in case of any serious disturbance, the
inmates can be deluged with powerful jets of cold water, and if that
prove ineffectual, then with hot water.

A heavy gale was blowing in the Bay when the Loire spread its sails to
the wind and started on its long and dreary voyage.

A fortnight later the vessel cast anchor in the port of Santa Cruz, of
the Canary Islands, where a stay of six days was to be made for the
purpose of shipping the provisions which were to last until the arrival
of the transport at its destination. While there, Frederick and three
of his fellow-prisoners, who had formed part of the gang employed one
night to clean the deck from the dirt occasioned by the embarkation
of some eighty head of cattle and numerous sheep and poultry, took
advantage of the darkness and of the rough weather which prevailed, to
slip overboard. The guard-boat happened to be on the other side of the
ship, and the fugitives would probably have reached land and effected
their escape, had not they suddenly encountered a cutter, which was
bringing off several of the ship's officers who had been dining on
shore. Unfortunately for the convicts, the moon, which had been hidden
until then by the clouds, shone forth for a few minutes and shed its
light on the shorn heads of the swimmers. The latter immediately
plunged, in order to avoid detection. But it was too late. They had
already been caught sight of by the officers. The latter having hailed
the watch on board the ship and called for assistance, then rounded
their boat on the fugitives. Aware of the terrible punishment which
awaited them if captured, the poor wretches made almost superhuman
efforts to escape, and turned a deaf ear to the threats of their
pursuers that they would fire on them. One by one, however, they were
run down and dragged on board. Frederick alone, who was a magnificent
swimmer, continued to elude the cutter by swimming under water, coming
to the surface only from time to time, to take breath. Volleys of
buckshot swept the spot whenever his head appeared for a moment above
water; but he seemed to bear a charmed life. Suddenly, however, one of
the sailors espied him, as, miscalculating his distance, he emerged on
the surface within a few feet of the boat. Quick as lightning, the man
raised his oar and brought it down with terrific force on Frederick's
head, rendering him unconscious.

When Frederick recovered his senses, he found himself in a dark cell in
the lowest part of the hold, heavily chained, and with his head covered
with bandages.

[Illustration: FREDERICK CAPTURED WHILE ATTEMPTING TO ESCAPE.]

Four days after leaving the Canary Islands, the attention of the
convicts was attracted to some rather unusual preparations which were
being made between decks. A detachment of fifty marines filed in and
took up their position amidships. At a word of command on the part
of their officer, they proceeded to load their rifles. Two gendarmes
who were accompanying the convoy thereupon appeared and likewise
loaded their revolvers, with a good deal of ostentation. A few minutes
afterward the warders pasted up in each cage an “order of the day,”
signed by the commander, wherein it was stated that in accordance with
a decision of the court-martial, the four convicts who had attempted to
escape in the harbor of Santa Cruz were about to receive forty lashes
of the “cat.”

This instrument of torture, which is only used for the punishment of
prisoners under sentence of penal servitude, is composed of five thongs
of plaited whipcord, thirty inches long and about an inch thick. At the
end of each thong are three knots, with small balls of lead. The handle
is about two to three feet long and an inch and a half in diameter, and
is composed of very heavy teak wood. The thongs are carefully tarred
until they become as stiff and as hard as iron, after which they are
dipped for several hours in the strongest kind of vinegar.

The officers having assembled, a wooden bench was brought in by two of
the warders, and thereupon the men about to undergo punishment appeared
on the scene, stripped to the waist and barefooted. The sentence was
then read aloud by the officer of the watch.

Convict No. 21,003, the number by which Frederick was known, was the
first to undergo the punishment. Two of the warders seized him, and
stretching him at full length on the wooden bench, face downward, bound
him thereto by means of ropes tied round his shoulders, waist, and
ankles.

A brawny prisoner who had volunteered to act as corrector, now stepped
forth from the ranks, seized the “cat,” and began to let it fall
heavily and at regular intervals on the back and shoulders of the
unfortunate Frederick, allowing enough time between each blow to make
the suffering still more acute. The first strokes left long, livid
stripes on the young man's white skin. Soon, however, the blood oozed
forth, and by the time the twentieth blow was inflicted, Frederick's
back was one mass of lacerated and bleeding wounds. He bore the cruel
punishment with Spartan courage, never uttering a complaint or letting
a moan escape him. But when they untied his bonds and attempted to
raise him from the bench, it was found that he had become insensible.

For two weeks after this cruel punishment Frederick lay in the ship's
hospital, part of the time in a state of delirium brought on by
wound-fever. When at length he had recovered sufficiently to be able to
leave the infirmary his tortures began afresh. Both he and the three
convicts who had attempted to escape with him were set to perform the
most disgusting and revolting kind of work that could be found on a
vessel freighted with such an enormous cargo of human beings. It is
needless to describe what these duties were, but it will be sufficient
to state that they were peculiarly repugnant to Frederick, reared
as he had been in palaces, and accustomed to every form of the most
refined and elegant luxury. As a further disciplinary measure they
were deprived of one of their two meals a day. The food on board the
transport was execrable, and for some reason or other none was ever
served out to the prisoners between the hours of 6 o'clock on Saturday
morning and 6 o'clock on Sunday evening.

Frederick bore all these hardships in silence, but became more and more
embittered against mankind. His heart grew as hard as stone. Every
slight vestige of good feeling, morality, and humanity disappeared,
and by the time he arrived in New Caledonia he had become the most
desperate and dangerous of all the blood-stained criminals on board.



CHAPTER XI.

ANOTHER VICTIM.


At last, ninety-three days after her departure from St. Martin de Re,
the Loire cast anchor in the Bay of Noumea. The town, perched on the
slope of a hill, is quite picturesque with its flat-roofed white houses
that are shaded by gigantic cocoanut trees, and half hidden by huge
bushes of a kind of scarlet rhododendron of a singular luxuriance and
beauty. Owing to the frequence of cyclones and tornadoes no building is
more than one-story high, even the church tower having been razed to
the ground by a storm which took place a short time before Frederick
reached the colony.

The young man, however, had no opportunity of examining the town more
closely. For shortly before midday the convicts were placed on barges
rowed by naked savages, and conveyed to the barren and desolate Island
of Nou, distant about an hour from the city. On landing the convicts
were taken to a shed where they were ordered to strip. Their bodies
were then plentifully besprinkled with the most nauseating kind of
insect powder, after which they were furnished with their new kit,
consisting of coarse canvas trousers, jackets and shirts, straw hats,
wooden shoes, hammocks and dingy-colored blankets. They were then
locked up by batches of sixty in long, low buildings, the small windows
of which were heavily barred.

There they were left without either food or water until the following
morning. The night was horrible. The most impenetrable darkness
prevailed, no lantern or any kind of light having been provided to
dispel the gloom. The heat and foul odors due to the want of proper
ventilation were indescribable, and the men, driven almost frantic by
thirst and hunger, rendered the long, weary hours of the night still
more hideous with their yells, oaths, and execrations. At about 2
o'clock in the morning a fearful cry of agony rang through the building:

“Help! Help! They are killing me! Let me go, cowards! Help for the love
of God!”

A great silence followed this heart-rending appeal, which was only
broken by the sound of a few shuddering gasps. A few minutes later the
pandemonium broke loose again with increased violence and continued
until morning. When day began to pierce through the grated windows the
cause of the awful cries for help which had made the blood of even some
of the most hardened criminals run cold became apparent. Stretched on
the ground, with his open eyes distended by pain and terror, lay the
dead body of the convict who during the voyage out had volunteered to
act as the “corrector” on the occasion of the flogging of Frederick
and of the three men who attempted to escape with him in the harbor
of Santa Cruz. Death had evidently been caused by strangulation, for
purple finger-marks were plainly visible on the victim's throat.

At 6 o'clock the doors were thrown open, and the warders ordered the
prisoners to file out into the open air. After having been ranged in
line, the roll was called. The several numerals by which the respective
convicts were known were called forth and responded to by their owners.
Suddenly there was a pause caused by the failure of No. 21,265, to
answer the summons.

“Where the devil is No. 21,265?” shouted the head warder, in an angry
tone of voice.

The convicts remained silent.

Fearing that the missing man had escaped, several of the
“gardes-chiourmes” (sub-warders) rushed into the building where the
prisoners had spent the night, and reappeared a few moments later
bearing the body of the murdered man.

Of course the convicts one and all denied any knowledge as to how their
comrade had come to his death, and as it was impossible to discover
which of the sixty prisoners had been the perpetrator or perpetrators
of the deed, a report was made to the governor stating that a fight
had taken place among the newly arrived convicts during the night, in
the course of which one of their number had met his death. To tell the
truth, the affair attracted but little attention on the part of the
authorities. After all, it was but a convict the less. As, however,
it was deemed necessary to take some notice of the matter, the ten
prisoners who had the largest number of black marks against their name,
and among whom was Frederick, were sentenced to undergo the following
punishment. Their hands were tightly secured behind their backs and
fastened to a chain attached to iron rings in the exterior wall of
the building in which the murder had been committed. The chains were
sufficiently loose to enable them either to squat on the ground or to
stand upright. But being unable to use their hands to convey their
miserable pittance of bread and water to their mouths, they were forced
to bend their faces down to the ground in order to seize the bread with
their teeth and to lap up the water like dogs.

[Illustration: FREDERICK UNDERGOING PUNISHMENT.]

In defiance of all notions of humanity or decency they were left bound
in this cruel manner for seven days and seven nights, exposed to the
weather and unable to defend themselves from the bites of the myriads
of musquitoes and other aggressive insects.

When, at the end of this week of indescribable torture, they were
released, five of their number, including Frederick, were in such a
state as to necessitate their being sent to the hospital. Frederick,
who possessed a wonderfully strong constitution and powerful physique,
soon recovered. Two of his companions, however, had their arms
paralyzed for the remainder of their lives from the effects of this
appalling treatment.

For two long years Frederick remained on the Island of Nou, subject to
the never-ending tyranny and brutality of the jailers and overseers,
who are recruited from the very lowest ranks of society. The slightest
appearance of hesitation or failure on the part of the convict to
submit to every caprice of the “chiourme” was immediately interpreted
as an act of insubordination, and formed the subject of daily reports
to the superintendent, who responded thereto by sending vouchers either
for a flogging or for an imprisonment during a certain number of days
in the dark punishment cell.

One day matters came to a climax. Frederick, with a gang of about
twelve others, was engaged on the main landing in breaking stones for
the construction of a new road. Two warders with loaded rifles kept
watch over them. One of the two, however, seeing the men quietly at
work withdrew after a while to a neighboring farm-house, which belonged
to an ex-convict who was still under the supervision of the police.

The fate of these liberated convicts is scarcely a happy one. For
although they are permitted to summon to their side the wife, sisters,
or children whom they may have left behind them in France, or, if they
prefer it, to marry some female ex-convict, yet their womankind are
entirely subject to the caprices and passions of the various prison
functionaries. Even the very lowest sub-warder has it in his power to
force these unfortunate people to submit to his demands, no matter how
outrageous their nature may be, since any refusal would inevitably
entail a denunciation, accusing either the husband or wife, or possibly
both, of acts of insubordination. Needless to add that the word of
persons who are under police supervision and who are deprived of their
civil rights has no weight whatsoever when opposed by that of a prison
official.

One of the warders having, as has been stated above, retired to a
neighboring farm-house, his companion sat down under the shade of some
bushes which grew at the top of a small mound, whence he could exercise
a careful watch over the men intrusted to his charge. The heat was
overpowering, and from time to time he refreshed himself with long
pulls from a suspicious-looking flask which he had hidden away in an
inside pocket. The liquor, whatever it was, instead of rendering him
more good-humored and tractable, seemed to call forth all the latent
savagery of his nature. Every time one of the unfortunate convicts
attempted to rest from his work for a few brief moments the brute
would force him, by means of taunts and threats, to resume his task.
Not a moment's respite would he permit them for the purpose of slaking
their intense thirst with a drink of water; and for six long hours,
in the very hottest part of the day, he kept them exposed without
interruption to the scorching rays of the tropical sun.

At length, overcome by the sultriness of the atmosphere and by the
frequency of his potations, he sank off into a deep and drunken sleep,
his rifle still loosely lying across his knees. Frederick's attention
having been attracted thereto by one of his comrades, he immediately
perceived that the moment had arrived for carrying into effect his
long-cherished project of escape. Quick as lightning he communicated
his intention to his fellow-prisoners. A few sturdy blows with the
hammers which they had been using until then for breaking the stones
were sufficient to relieve them of their waist and ankle chains, and
in a moment they had overpowered and tightly bound and gagged their
still sleeping warder. Frederick seized his rifle, and accompanied by
the others made a bolt for the woods, which they were able to reach
unobserved. It was not until an hour after nightfall, when they were
already several miles distant from the spot where they had regained
their liberty, that the booming of the big guns of the fort at stated
intervals proclaimed the fact to them that their escape had become
known and that a general alarm had been given.

On becoming aware of this they held a kind of council of war, and it
was determined that they should scatter in groups of two and three,
which they considered would be more likely to enable them to avoid
being recaptured.

The notes left by “Prado” do not mention the fate of those from whom
he parted company at the time. It is probable that they either were
caught by the posses of warders sent in their pursuit or else that they
fell into the hands of the “Canaks,” as the ferocious natives of New
Caledonia are called. The “Canaks” before deciding as to what to do
with their prisoners would probably hesitate, influenced on the one
hand by their appetite for human flesh and on the other by their greed
for the handsome reward offered by the Government for the capture,
either alive or dead, of runaway convicts.

For many days Frederick and his two companions wandered through almost
impenetrable forests. They were frightened by every sound, by every
rustle of a leaf, and were dependent for food on the berries, fruits,
and roots, which they devoured with some apprehension, afraid lest
they should contain some unknown and deadly poison. Everywhere around
them they felt that death was hovering. The dense foliage of the trees
completely hid the sky and surrounded them with deep shadows, which
appeared full of horror and mystery. Large birds flew off as they
advanced, with a startling flutter of their heavy wings, and their
only resting-place at night was among the branches of some lofty tree.
Frequently they had to wade through pestilential swamps, in which
masses of poisonous snakes and other loathsome reptiles squirmed and
raised their hissing heads against the intruders. Once they were almost
drowned in a deep lake of liquid mud which was so overgrown with
luxuriant grasses and mosses that they had mistaken it for terra firma.

At length, on the twelfth day after their escape, they reached, shortly
after nightfall, a small coast-guard station. The night was very dark
and a heavy tropical rain was falling. A little after midnight the
three men, who had remained hidden until then among the rocks, made
their way down the little creek, where the open boat used by the coast
guards lay at anchor. Gliding noiselessly into the water, they swam out
to where the tiny craft was rising and falling under the influence of
a heavy ground swell. In a few moments they were safely on board.

The tide was going out, and, unwilling to attract the attention of the
coast guards by the noise which would attend the raising of the anchor,
they quietly slipped the cable and allowed the boat to drift silently
out to sea.

It was a terrible voyage on which they had embarked and must have been
regarded as fool-hardy and insane to the last degree were it not that
to remain on the island meant life-long captivity and sufferings so
intolerable that death would be but a happy release. As soon as they
had drifted far enough they spread the boat's single sail to the wind,
and by daylight were well-nigh out of sight of land. On searching the
craft they discovered, to their unspeakable delight, that a locker in
the bow contained a sack of ship's biscuits, while in the stern was a
small cask of water, both of which had evidently been kept on board
by the coast-guards for use in case of their being becalmed at any
distance from their station. It was little enough, in all conscience,
but to Frederick and to his starving companions it seemed the most
delicious fare which they had ever tasted.

Frederick's two fellow-fugitives were men of the lowest class. The one
was a thorough type of the Paris criminal, with a pale face, bleary
eyes, and an outrageously flat, turned-up nose. His breast was adorned
with a tattooed caricature of himself, of which he was inordinately
proud. The other was a miner who had been condemned to penal servitude
for life for killing his chief in response to some violent reproaches
which had been addressed to him by the latter.

Without compass, without even a sailor's knowledge of the
constellations, they sailed aimlessly before the wind, intent only
on increasing the distance which already lay between them and their
abhorred prison. Their only hope was that they would be picked up
by some passing vessel which, as long as it did not fly the French
colors, would certainly not deliver them back into the hands of their
tormentors.

They had been sailing along for some four or five days when the water
began to give out. Only a little drop remained. Moreover, there
was no protection to be obtained from the burning rays of the sun,
the reflection of which on the blue waters of the Pacific seemed
to increase the heat tenfold. The three men had agreed to keep the
remaining drops of water until the very last extremity, and then only
to divide it up into equal shares before preparing to undergo the
terrible death by thirst which stared them in the face. Suddenly the
ex-miner was seized with convulsions, brought on, no doubt, by the
terrific heat of the midday sun on his unprotected head. When these
ceased he started to his feet, and, with the yell of a maniac, for
such he had now become, made a rush for the water cask. Divining his
intention, Frederick and the Parisian “_voyou_” threw themselves
before him, and a desperate hand-to-hand struggle ensued, which was,
however, brought to a quick end by the madman breaking loose from them
and, with a cry of “Water, water!” jumping head foremost into the sea,
almost capsizing the boat as he did so.

A moment afterward, and before he had time to come to the surface
again, the spot where he had disappeared became tinged with blood, and
the fins of several huge sharks appeared between the waves. Raising
his eyes to the horizon from this terrible scene, Frederick suddenly
exclaimed:

“A sail, a sail!”

[Illustration: RESCUE OF FREDERICK AND HIS FELLOW FUGITIVE.]



CHAPTER XII.

IN LUCK AGAIN.


About three weeks later, a bark, whose storm-beaten and weather-stained
appearance showed traces of a long and tempestuous voyage, cast anchor
in the port of Batavia. Among the first to land were a couple of men
who, although dressed in the garb of common sailors, yet displayed
the most palpable evidence that they belonged to some other sphere in
life. They presented a strange contrast to one another. The taller of
the two, it was easy to see by his well-shaped hands and feet, by his
clear-cut features, and by his general bearing, was a gentleman by
birth and education, whereas his companion had evidently sprung from
the lower classes.

“Safe at last,” muttered the former, who was no other than Frederick
von Waldberg. “As long as I was on board that ship, I always had a kind
of feeling that we were in danger, somehow or other, of being delivered
up to the French authorities. I can't help thinking that the skipper
had his doubts as to the authenticity of the story which we told him.”

“At any rate, he kept his own counsel about it,” replied his companion,
with a laugh; “and here we are at last beyond the reach of our friends,
the ‘gardes chiourmes’ (prison warders). Just look at this! How
different from La Nouvelle! (New Caledonia). The very air seems to reek
with prosperity and wealth. See those houses there. How glorious it
would be to have the looting of one of them!”

“Hush, you idiot!” exclaimed Frederick. “There must be lots of people
here who understand French, and I don't suppose that you want everybody
to know who you are.”

“They will find it out soon enough, to their cost,” replied the other,
under his breath, as they strolled on.

Frederick and his fellow-convict had been in the last stage of
exhaustion when rescued by the Dutch bark, which was on its way from
Amsterdam to Java, and during the first three days were unable to
give any account of themselves. On recovering, however, they informed
the skipper that they were the solitary survivors of a French vessel
engaged in the Polynesian trade. They asserted that the boat had broken
loose from the sinking ship before its full complement of the crew had
been embarked, and that, owing to the darkness, and to the gale which
prevailed, they were unable to return to the ship.

During the time which had elapsed since their break for liberty, both
their hair and beards had grown, and moreover they had taken the
precaution to remove from their scanty attire all traces which might
have revealed the fact that it had formed part of the garb of a French
convict.

They now found themselves in a strange country, without a cent in
their pockets, and without any honest means in view of obtaining
a livelihood. The very clothes on their backs they owed to the
charity of the sailors of the bark. They applied at several of the
great warehouses and stores for employment, and, meeting with no
success, then addressed themselves to the occupants of several of the
magnificent villas in the suburbs, begging for food and money. The
Dutch, however, are not of a particularly generous nature. If they
err, it is on the side of economy and excessive caution. Everywhere
Frederick and his companion were met with the same response, “Apply
to your consul.” As this was about the last person to whom the two
ex-convicts would have dreamed of addressing themselves, there seemed
to be every prospect that they would spend the night in the open air,
and remain both dinnerless and supperless. They were just about to turn
their steps once more in the direction of the port, when suddenly a
man who had been watching them for some few moments as they wandered
aimlessly along, stepped across the street, and inquired in German
what they were looking for, and whether he could be of any assistance
to them. Frederick at once replied in the same language that they were
destitute and starving, and that they were exceedingly anxious to
discover some means of earning a decent living.

“Have you tried any of our merchants and storekeepers?” asked the
stranger.

“Yes,” replied Frederick; “but it is a hopeless task. It appears, from
what they say, that they all have more employees than they know what to
do with.”

“How would you like if I were to obtain for you this very night the
sum of fifty guilders apiece, and an agreeable means of livelihood for
several years to come?”

Frederick's face brightened visibly as he replied:

“Of course we should be delighted, and exceedingly grateful to you. Do
you mean it seriously? It would be cruel to joke on such a subject with
men in our position.”

“I can assure you,” rejoined the stranger, “that I am thoroughly
serious about the matter. What I propose to you is that you should
enlist in the Dutch Army here. You know that the colonial troops
receive a high rate of pay. The promotion is rapid, the duties are
light; and although certificates of good conduct in the past are
required, yet your face inspires me with such confidence, and your
destitute appearance with such sympathy, that I am prepared to give the
authorities the requisite guarantees in your behalf.”

Frederick quickly communicated the friendly offer to his companion,
and after a few minutes' consultation, they decided on accepting it,
with many thanks. It was indeed a perfect godsend for them, and it is
impossible to say what would otherwise have been their fate.

Shortly before nightfall, and after providing the two men with a good
square meal, the benevolent stranger accompanied them to the railway
station, and took the train with them to “Meester Cornelis,” the great
central depot and headquarters of the Dutch Army in the East. On
arriving there, an hour later, he conducted them to the bureau of the
chief recruiting officer. After undergoing examination by a regimental
surgeon, who pronounced them physically fit for active service, they
were duly enrolled as soldiers of a regiment of fusileers. Their
friend, thereupon, having obtained a voucher from the recruiting
officer, proceeded to the paymaster's bureau, where a sum of money was
counted out to him on presentation of the document. Of this amount he
handed fifty guilders to each of the two men, and then bade them adieu,
and left them in charge of the sergeant who had piloted them through
the barracks.

It is probable that neither Frederick nor his companion would have been
so effusive in their protestations of gratitude toward the stranger,
had they been aware of the fact at the time that he had appropriated to
himself the major portion of the bounty of three hundred guilders which
becomes the property of every European recruit who takes service in the
Dutch Colonial Army.

The latter, which numbers some 27,000 men, is composed of men of almost
every nationality. Germans and Swiss form the major portion of the
foreign element, which comprises, however, many Russians, Frenchmen,
Englishmen, and Americans. At least half of all these are men who have
previously occupied a more elevated rank in life. Ruined clubmen,
bankrupt merchants and traders, fugitive cashiers and dishonest clerks,
and a large sprinkling of deserters from the various European armies,
figure largely among the contingent. Among the corporals and simple
privates are to be found men who have held even colonels' commissions
in the Prussian and Austrian Armies, while once prominent but now
ruined noblemen, such as the two Counts E——, of Berlin, and Prince
R——, of Vienna, are to be seen figuring as mess-sergeants, and even as
orderlies of half-educated and coarse Dutch infantry officers. Indeed,
there is scarcely a foreigner in the Dutch Colonial Army who has not
some sad or dark history attached to his name. Few of them ever return
to their native land, for the climate of Java is deadly. It has been
calculated that, of all the men who enlist, not more than thirty-five
per cent. live through the whole period of their service. Of the 27,000
men who constitute the army, an average of at least 6,000 men are
permanently on the sick list and _hors de combat_.

The name under which Frederick had been enrolled was Frederick Gavard,
of Alsace, while his companion had described himself as Charles Renier,
of Paris.

During the next three years Frederick and his fellow fugitive endured
all the hardships of a soldier's life. Frederick had now learned
how to control his former ungovernable temper, and had acquired the
conviction that there is much more to be obtained by concealing one's
real sentiments and by biding one's time than by any headstrong act
of violence. Although he kept his hands free from crime during this
period, yet it must not for one moment be gathered therefrom that his
moral character had undergone any improvement. On the contrary, he was
a far more dangerous character now than he had ever been before. It
was but the absence of a suitable opportunity for making a profitable
_coup_ that prevented him from adding to his list of crimes.

By dint of the most careful observance of the regulations, by his
remarkable intelligence, and by the evidences which he displayed of
having undergone a most careful military training, he had succeeded in
working his way up to the rank of sergeant. He was regarded with favor
by his superiors and respected by his inferiors. Curiously enough he
had kept himself free from any of those entanglements with native women
which constitute the bane and shadow of a soldier's life in the East.
At any rate, if he was engaged in intrigues of that kind they were kept
secret from everybody.

The chief trial and annoyance to which he was subjected was the
difficulty which he experienced in getting rid of Charles Renier, the
companion of his flight from New Caledonia. The man was constantly
getting into trouble and appealing to him for assistance and for
money. Frederick dared not refuse him, as he was afraid that he would
disclose his past history. Hardly a month elapsed without Charles being
sentenced for some scrape or other to receive “twentig Rietslagen”
(twenty blows from the terrible Malacca cane of the corporal), and he
was on the high-road to terminate his military career by the “strop,”
as the gallows is called out there. At length, catching sight one day
of a corporal in the act of leaving the rooms inhabited by the dusky
Mme. Renier for the time being, he threw himself upon him and thrashed
him to within an inch of his life, showing thereby the superiority
of the French “Savatte” over the Dutch “Boxie!” Indeed, he left the
unfortunate man in a shocking condition, his jaw broken, and one of his
ears partly torn from his head. Then, bursting into the woman's room,
he seized the faithless damsel by the throat and kicked and pounded her
into unconsciousness. After these exploits, well knowing that if caught
he would probably be court-martialed and hanged, he deemed it prudent
to show a pair of clean heels, and on the following morning his name
was posted up as that of a deserter, and a reward was offered for his
capture.

It may incidentally be stated that there are no less than an average
of three hundred to four hundred desertions every year in the Dutch
East Indies.

A few weeks later Frederick, who had meanwhile been promoted to the
rank of pay sergeant, was walking quietly along one evening after dark
in the outskirts of Padang, when suddenly he was startled by a strange
noise proceeding from behind a clump of bushes. A second later he heard
a voice calling gently, “Wolff! Wolff!” Frederick started violently,
for there was no one in the colony who knew him by the name under which
he had been sentenced for murder at Paris, excepting Charles Renier.
Before he had time to recover from his disagreeable surprise the face
of his former fellow-convict showed itself peering through the branches
of a “summak” bush.

“Come nearer. I don't want to be seen, and I must speak to you.”

“What is it?” said Frederick, angrily, as he approached. “You know I
can't be seen talking to you. A price has been set on your head, and
were it to be known that I had held any communication with you without
delivering you up to the authorities I would be court-martialed. What
is it you want? Money again?”

“No, not from you at any rate.”

“Well, then, what is it? Explain quickly! I have no time to lose!”

“All I want is your assistance in a little business transaction of my
own invention.”

“A pretty kind of transaction that must be.”

“I assure you it is. I am very proud of it. It is the finest _coup_
imaginable, and you know that you have always put me off with the
assurance that if ever anything really good turned up I might rely upon
you to take a hand in it.”

“Well, speak, man! What is it? Don't keep me here the whole night!”
exclaimed Frederick, who began to feel interested.

“It is merely this: The boat from Batavia, which arrived yesterday,
brought a considerable amount of specie for the payment of the troops
here. I know that you have been promoted to the rank of pay-sergeant,
and that you have been ordered to sleep on a camp-bed in the office
where the safe containing the money is placed.”

“What of that?” inquired Frederick.

“I want you to allow yourself to be surprised to-morrow night, when
I and a few of my ‘pals’ will creep in by the window and take a look
at the safe with some profit to ourselves. There will be no danger
for you, as we shall tie you down to your bed and gag you, so as to
convince the authorities that it was no fault of yours if the money is
gone. The only thing I want for you to do is not to give an alarm when
you hear us coming.”

Frederick began by firmly refusing to have anything to do with the
matter. But upon Renier, who had nothing more to lose, threatening
him to make public the fact that he was nothing more than an escaped
convict under sentence to penal servitude for murder, and as such
extraditable, he gave way and promised to do what he was asked in
return for a share in the proceeds of the robbery.

On the following night some six or seven figures might have been seen
creeping noiselessly through the gardens of the bungalow, on the first
floor of which were located the paymaster's offices. The leader of the
gang, having climbed up on the roof of the veranda, followed by two of
his men, gently pushed open a window which had been left ajar. A moment
later two pistol-shots rang out in rapid succession, followed by a loud
cry. A second afterward another shot was heard.

[Illustration: HOW HE RID HIMSELF OF ONE BURDEN.]

Immediately the whole place was in an uproar. On entering the room
the officers found Frederick Gavard, the pay-sergeant, standing guard
over the safe, while near the window lay stretched the dead body of
the deserter, Charles Renier, and on the roof of the veranda outside
lay another corpse, also of a deserter, shot through the head. In
the garden and on the flower-beds were traces of numerous footsteps,
showing that the house had been attacked by a large gang.

Six weeks afterward the troops at Padang were formed into a square,
and the officer in command of the place summoned the pay-sergeant,
Frederick Gavard, from the ranks, and pinned on his breast the silver
cross which had been conferred upon him by the Governor-General of the
East Indies for his gallantry in defending the treasure chest of the
cantonment against heavy odds.

[Illustration: FREDERICK GETS THE SILVER CROSS.]

At no period of Frederick's career did his prospects seem more
promising than now. Renier, who had been the only person in the colony
who was acquainted with his past record, was dead, and instead of
being punished as he might have been for putting an end to the days
of the man who had possessed so dangerous a knowledge concerning him,
he had been rewarded for the deed as if it had been one of the most
brilliant feats that he could possibly have accomplished. Not only had
he received a decoration ordinarily conferred for acts of valor on the
field of battle, but about three months later he had the pleasure of
learning that he had been promoted to the rank of a lieutenant. His
colonel, who had taken a great fancy to him, now frequently invited him
to his quarters, where he spent many agreeable hours.

The regiment having been transferred to Batavia, he had the opportunity
of meeting at his colonel's house all the most prominent members of the
Dutch East India Society. The colonel's young wife was extremely fond
of amusements of all kinds and held open house. Many were the dinners,
soirees, balls, or croquet parties which Frederick helped her to
organize; besides this, he often accompanied her to the houses of her
numerous friends, where his good looks, charming manner, talents, and
witty conversation soon made him a universal favorite.

Among the most brilliant entertainments of the season was a superb
ball given by a Mr. and Mrs. Van der Beck, who were intimate friends
of the colonel and his wife. The dance was preceded by some private
theatricals. The piece performed was “La Belle Helene,” the role of
Paris being filled by Frederick and that of Helene by Mme. Van der
Beck, who, although no longer in the first bloom of youth, was still
a remarkably handsome woman. Tall, with magnificent auburn hair and
lustrous hazel eyes, she was, like many of the Dutch ladies in the far
East, slightly inclined to embonpoint, a disposition due to their lazy
and indolent existence and to the high living in which they indulged.
When, in the second act of the operetta, she made her appearance in
the great scene with Paris she was greeted with a murmur of admiration
and approval. Her skirt of primrose-colored satin was parted, Greek
fashion, from the hem to the hip on the left side in such a manner
as to reveal an exceedingly shapely leg, and her magnificent hair,
loosened and falling far below her waist, covered her low-cut and
gold-embroidered “peplum” like a royal mantle. Frederick as Paris, in a
costume of pale-blue and silver, looked like a Greek god, and when they
began the “duo du Reve” a perfect storm of applause broke out. It was
noticed by many of those present that Mme. Van der Beck acted her part
with rather more fervor and feeling than might have been considered
strictly necessary for a drawing-room performance. However, as Mr. Van
der Beck himself was in raptures about his wife's acting, there was
nothing more to be said in the matter.

From that time forth Frederick became a constant visitor at the Van
der Beck villa, and strange to say, was as great a favorite of the
husband as he was of the wife. Mr. Van der Beck was one of the most
prominent and wealthy merchants of the East India trade, and owned vast
warehouses, not only at Batavia, but also at Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

[Illustration: LEFT IN CHARGE OF MRS. VAN DER BECK.]

The life in these Dutch colonies is an extremely agreeable one.
Hospitality is practised on a scale unknown in Europe. No invitation
is considered necessary to dine or lunch with one's friends, for
everybody keeps open house, and an addition of half a dozen impromptu
guests at the dinner-table is quite an ordinary occurrence. The ladies
in particular are accustomed to a life of such indolence and ease that
they are utterly incapable of doing anything for themselves. They lie
all day on their sofas or in their hammocks, clad in diaphanous muslin
peignoirs, eating bonbons, smoking cigarettes or drinking small cups
of coffee. In the cool hours of the evening, however, they seem to
wake up, and go to the dinners, balls, and the theater, and are then
as lively and loquacious as possible, banishing their laziness and
languor till the moment when they return home and have nobody except
their husbands to fascinate.

Some time had elapsed since Frederick had made the acquaintance of the
Van der Becks, when one day a letter arrived from Holland informing
Mr. Van der Beck of the death of his eldest brother, and demanding his
immediate presence in Amsterdam. As it was the worst season of the year
for traveling, and he was extremely solicitous of his wife's health,
he decided that it would be imprudent for her to accompany him. Madam
submitted to this with much more equanimity than she usually displayed
in her relations with her lord and master, and three days later,
escorted by Frederick, she accompanied her husband to the steamer. As
Mr. Van der Beck's absence was to last six months, if not more, he
intrusted his wife with all the interests of his house and business and
even with the signature of the firm. She was a remarkably clever and
shrewd woman, and had on more than one occasion given him proof of her
ability in business matters. In taking leave he especially recommended
her to the care of Frederick, adding that he knew how much he could
depend on the young man's friendship and devotion.

The deep mourning necessitated by the death of so near a relative
forcing Mme. Van der Beck to withdraw entirely from society, she was
now free to devote all her time to Frederick, with whom she became, as
the days went by, more and more infatuated. Strong-minded as she was in
all other respects, she seemed to have surrendered her whole will-power
to the young officer, whose word was absolute law to her. He spent
all the hours he could dispose of with her, and their intimacy grew
apace. Frederick, as has been seen often before this, knew how to make
himself perfectly irresistible to women. His manners were caressing
and winning, and this, added to his numerous talents and good looks,
made him a very dangerous friend for a woman like Nina Van der Beck,
who had reached that period of life when the passions are most easily
aroused. When a woman on the wrong side of thirty-five falls in love
she is generally apt to make a much greater fool of herself than a
girl would do, and if the man she loves is some years her junior she
invariably makes an absolute idol of him, anxious, as it were, to make
up in devotion and self-sacrifice for all that she feels may be missing
in other respects.

As to Frederick, he at last began to see his way to bringing to a close
his stay at Batavia, of which he had become heartily sick. By means of
the most insidious suggestions and advice, he prevailed upon Nina to
cautiously and gradually realize all her husband's available property.
This, added to her own fortune, which was considerable, rendered
her a very desirable prize indeed, and Frederick had all reason to
congratulate himself on his luck.

Mr. Van der Beck had been absent a little over four months, when
Frederick one day applied for a four weeks' leave of absence. This was
readily granted by his colonel, with whom Frederick had remained on the
most excellent terms.



CHAPTER XIII.

A SAINT'S DEATH.


Among the passengers who landed at Singapore a week later were Mrs.
Van der Beck and Frederick. Twenty-four hours afterward they left for
Hong-Kong on board the French Messageries Maritime mail steamer Tigre,
having given their names as Mr. and Mrs. Muller, from Grats, Austria.

On touching at the French port of Saigon, where the steamer was to
remain some twenty hours, they went on shore and, hiring a carriage,
drove around the town, which Nina was curious to visit. After
inspecting the park and the magnificent palace of the governor-general,
they repaired to a fashionable restaurant, where they dined. While
sipping their coffee the French waiter, who had been dazzled by a
princely _pourboire_ from Frederick, informed them that there was
at that moment in the town a very good opera-bouffe troupe which
gave performances every evening at a cafe chantant in the vicinity
of the restaurant. He even offered to get him tickets. Nina having
manifested a desire to witness the performance, they crossed the
street and entered the wooden building, which was brilliantly lighted
with rows of gas-jets, and took their seats in the front row of the
auditorium. A few minutes after the curtain had gone up a gentleman in
undress uniform took the seat on the other side of Mme. Van der Beck.
Frederick, glancing indifferently at him, suddenly recognized, to his
horror, the municipal surgeon of the convict hospital at Noumea. He
fairly shuddered as he realized what the consequences might be should
he be recognized by the man who had attended him several times during
his illness on the Island of Nou. But with his usual coolness in
matters of the kind he did not show his terror either by word or look.

During the course of the piece, Nina having dropped her fan, her
neighbor picked it up, and seized this occasion to enter into
conversation with her. He looked several times inquiringly at Frederick
as if seeking to recall to mind a half-forgotten face. At last, bowing
courteously, he addressed himself to the man, saying:

“I can't help thinking that I have had the pleasure of meeting you
before, but I cannot remember where.”

With incredible audacity Frederick quietly replied: “Your face also
seems very familiar to me. Perhaps we have met at Paris. Have you been
long absent from France?”

Thereupon the conversation turned on Paris and Parisian society, and
toward midnight “Mr. and Mrs. Muller,” taking leave of the surgeon,
returned on board the Tigre.

Early the next morning, before the steamer cast loose its moorings,
Frederick, who was smoking his morning's cigar on deck, saw a sight
which, hard-hearted as he was, deeply moved him. A Jesuit missionary
was carried on board in a dying condition. This unfortunate man
had been detained for two years as a prisoner by the Anamites, and
during the whole of this time the inhuman monsters had kept him in a
wooden cage, so small that he could neither stand up nor lie down. As
an additional refinement of cruelty, thick wedges of wood had been
inserted between his fingers and toes and secured there with supple
willow twigs. The hair of the poor wretch, who was only twenty-six
years old, had become as white as snow, and he was entirely paralyzed!
He died before the vessel reached Hong-Kong.

Frederick, as he directed his steps toward the saloon, could not help
making a comparison between the easy and luxurious life he, who so
little deserved it, was now enjoying, and the shattered and broken
existence of this saint, who had never done anything but good during
his short but pure and admirable career.

With a movement of impatience, quickly followed by a sneer, he turned
away, and, dismissing these thoughts from his mind, knocked at the door
of Nina's cabin.



CHAPTER XIV.

SUICIDE.


A fortnight later, the snow-capped peak of the lordly and beautiful
Mount Fusiyama appeared in sight, and a few hours afterward the steamer
rounded the promontory and cast anchor in the port of Yokohama. The
ship was soon surrounded by some score of native boats, and having
taken their place in the “sampan” of the Grand Hotel, Frederick and
his inamorata were rowed on shore. The first few days were spent in
visiting the various sights and curiosities of the place, and so
enchanted were the couple with the beauty and picturesque aspect of the
environs that they determined to remain for a time in Japan.

With the assistance of the hotel officials, they secured a very pretty
Japanese “yashiki,” or villa, situated at about half an hour's distance
from the town, and caused such European furniture as they were likely
to require to be transported thither. When all was ready, they took up
their residence there, with a large retinue of native servants, both
male and female. These were under the orders of an ex-Samurai (member
of the lower grades of the nobility), who spoke both English and
German, and who was to act as their interpreter and major-domo.

The secrecy with which it had been necessary to observe all their
relations until the moment when they left Batavia, had imbued their
intrigue with a certain degree of piquancy, and the constant change of
scene which had passed before their eyes like a kaleidoscope, since
they left Java, had prevented any danger of monotony and _ennui_. The
experiment which they were now, however, about to enter upon was a
most perilous one. With no European society in the neighborhood, and
dependent solely on one another for conversation and diversion, it was
only natural that a man of Frederick's character and temperament should
soon begin to weary of the sameness and dreariness of his existence. It
is useless to expect that any man should remain in a state of perpetual
adoration for an indefinite length of time before his lady-love, no
matter how beautiful she may be. Familiarity breeds contempt, and this
is especially the case when the lady is no longer young and has become
sentimental and exacting. Accustomed as Nina had been at Batavia to see
Frederick, and in fact all the other men by whom she was surrounded,
anxious for a smile and ever ready to execute her slightest behest,
it cut her to the very heart to see how, after the first few weeks of
their residence in Japan, her lover's affection toward her decreased.
He betrayed traces of weariness in her society, and spent much of his
time in riding about alone in the neighborhood.

At about a quarter of an hour's distance from the house, and standing
on the banks of a small river, was a pretty village, of which the chief
attraction was a “chaya,” or tea-house. It was here that Frederick's
horse might have been frequently seen walking up and down, attended by
his “betto” (native groom), while his master was being entertained by
the graceful “mousmes,” who constitute so charming a feature of every
Japanese restaurant.

Stretched on a mat of the most immaculate whiteness, Frederick would
remain for hours, lazily sipping his tea and watching the voluptuous
dances of the “geishas” (dancing-girls). Although not beautiful, yet
the Japanese women, when young, are exceedingly pretty and captivating.
They have many winning and gracious little ways, and are thoroughly
impressed with the notion that their sole mission in life is to provide
amusement for the sterner sex.

The young man appreciated these little excursions into the country
all the more since, with commendable caution, Madame Van der Beck had
insisted that all the female servants employed in the house should
be married women. In order to realize what this meant, it must be
explained that on their wedding-day, the Japanese wives are obliged
by custom and tradition to shave off their eyebrows and to stain
their teeth a brilliant black, so that their husbands may have no
further grounds for jealousy. Their appearance is therefore scarcely
prepossessing.

Nina, more and more embittered by her lover's ever-increasing
indifference, lost much of her former good humor and cheerfulness. She
spent the whole day brooding alone in the gardens which surrounded her
villa. These were laid out with much ingenuity and artistic feeling by
one of the most famous Japanese landscape gardeners. Miniature rivers
traversed the ground in every direction, spanned by miniature bridges,
and with miniature temples and pagodas on their banks. There were also
miniature waterfalls, miniature junks, and even miniature trees, the
latter being especially curious. By some method which has been kept a
profound secret by the great guild of horticulturists at Tokio, trees
even two hundred and three hundred years old have been treated in such
a manner as to stunt their growth and to prevent them from attaining a
height of more than two or, at the most, three feet. Their trunks are
gnarled and twisted by age, but there is no trace of the pruning-knife,
and they constitute an exact representation in miniature of the
grand old sycamore, oak, and cedar trees which line the magnificent
fifty-mile avenue which leads up to the sacred shrines of “Nikko.” The
object which the Japanese have in view in thus stunting the growth of
certain classes of their trees is the fact that owing to the want of
space the inhabitants of cities are obliged to content themselves with
very small gardens. In order to make these appear larger and to allow
for the composition of the landscape, which is the Japanese ideal of a
garden, they are obliged to arrange everything in miniature, and since
trees of normal size would be out of keeping with the rest they have
discovered an ingenious scheme of dwarfing them to a corresponding size.

One day, a few minutes after Frederick had arrived on his customary
visit to the (tea-house), he was suddenly called out into the
court-yard, where he found his betto stretched dead on the ground.
Frederick had been in such a hurry to get away from home that he had
ridden too fast, and the unfortunate native, whose duty, as in all
oriental countries, it was to run before the horse, had, on reaching
his destination, expired of the rupture of an aneurism of the heart.
Much annoyed by this incident, Frederick ordered the corpse to be
conveyed home at once, and spent the remainder of the day with the
pretty “mousmes” at the tea-house.

When he returned home that evening, the widow of his ill-fated groom
rushed up to him and, kissing his boot, entreated his pardon for the
“stupidity of which her husband had been guilty in dying while out with
the master and occasioning him thereby the trouble of attending to his
own horse.”

Frederick, much amused at this display of truly oriental courtesy,
tossed the woman a few yen notes and entered the the house, laughing,
with the intention of telling Madame Van der Beck about it. The smile,
however, faded from his lips when he came into her presence, for,
having learned from the men who had brought home the groom's body, the
nature of the place where Frederick was in the habit of passing his
days, her feelings of jealousy and anger were aroused to a boiling
pitch. Thoroughly spoiled, accustomed to have every whim humored, and
with no notion of how to control her temper, she gave full vent to a
perfect torrent of reproaches and abuse against the man for whom she
had sacrificed husband, rank, and position. She taunted him bitterly
with his ingratitude, and it was only with the greatest difficulty that
he at length succeeded in restoring her to anything like calm.

Had she but known the true character and the past record of the man to
whom she had so rashly confided her happiness, it is probable that she
would have exercised a greater restraint over her temper. Frederick had
now lost all sense of her charms and attractions, and was determined to
cut himself loose from bonds which, though gilded, had become irksome
to him. Moreover, he lived in constant dread that her husband, Mr.
Van der Beck, would end by discovering their place of refuge. This
last encounter with his mistress brought matters to a climax, and
he determined to put into execution, without any further delay, the
projects which he had been maturing for some time past.

A few days later, he rode into Yokohama and took the train up to Tokio.
There he directed his jinrikisha, as the little two-wheeled carriages
(drawn at a sharp trot by one, two, or three coolies, harnessed tandem
fashion) are called, to take him to the quarter of the metropolis
inhabited by the merchants dealing in furs. After considerable trouble,
he succeeded in finding some skins of the wild-cat, with which he
returned to the railway station and thence to Yokohama.

On reaching home, he seized the earliest possible moment to lock
himself up in his room, where he spent an hour in cutting off the
short, hard hairs of the furs which he had purchased, and, locking them
away in a small box, he then destroyed the skins.

While stationed in the interior of Java, a native soldier to whom
he had shown some acts of kindness had displayed his gratitude by
making him acquainted with the properties of the chopped hair of a
wild-cat when mixed with food. These hairs are swallowed without
being noticed, but remain stuck by their points in the intestines. Any
attempts to remove them or to relieve the patient by means of medicines
are useless, since the hairs merely bend in order to give way to the
medicament and then resume their former position. In a very short
space of time, they produce terrible and incurable ulcerations of the
intestines, and in the course of a few weeks the victim, who is unable
to take any further food or nourishment, wastes away and finally dies
of exhaustion and inanition.

It was of this fiendish method that Frederick was about to avail
himself for the purpose of getting rid of his rich inamorata, whose
money, however, he was determined at all costs to retain.

Mme. Van der Beck soon began to notice an agreeable change in the
conduct of Frederick. His indifference and coldness vanished entirely
and he became once more an attentive and devoted lover. He no longer
spent his days at the “chaya,” but remained at home, and only left
the house to accompany her on her drives in the lovely environs of
Yokohama. Nina was at first at a loss to understand the reason of so
radical a reformation, but finally made up her mind that it was to be
attributed to the sorrow she had manifested at his neglect; and her
love for him revived in all its former intensity.

One day while driving in the neighborhood their attention was suddenly
attracted by cries for assistance which proceeded from the banks of
a small stream. On approaching the spot they found that an English
phaeton of somewhat antiquated build, and drawn by an exceedingly
vicious looking pair of half-broken Japanese ponies, had been
overturned into the water. The carriage was imbedded in the mud, and
the grooms were making frantic efforts to extricate the terrified
horses from the tangle of harness and reins. On the bank stood a
Japanese gentleman in native costume, who was giving directions
to his men. Frederick, having alighted, courteously raised his hat
and inquired if he could be of any assistance, an offer which was
gratefully accepted. With the help of his servants the ponies were
at length freed, but it was found impossible to pull the heavy and
cumbrous vehicle out of the mud. At Nina's pressing solicitation, the
Japanese, who, judging by his dress and appearance, was evidently a
man of high rank, allowed himself to be prevailed upon to accept a
seat in her carriage and to be driven to his home. The latter was an
extremely pretty country house surrounded by vast grounds. On taking
leave of them, with many profuse expressions of gratitude, he requested
permission to call upon them on the following day. They learned
subsequently from their major-domo that their new acquaintance was one
of the most famous statesmen of the land.

On the following day he paid them a long visit, and before he left
requested them to spend the next afternoon at his yashiki. There for
the first time they caught a glimpse of Japanese life such as is rarely
enjoyed by foreigners.

On arriving in the court-yard and entering the house they found the
entire body of servants and dependents of the establishments assembled
in two rows under the heavy portico of carved wood. All were on their
knees, and when Frederick and Nina passed between their ranks every
head was lowered to the ground in silent and respectful greeting to the
guests of their lord. At this moment the master of the house appeared,
and in his flowing silken robes, with his slow and dignified movements,
presented a striking contrast to the restless and frisky little Japs
whom one is accustomed to see rushing through the streets of London and
Paris.

A magnificent banquet was then served in true Japanese style. Six girls
in gorgeous apparel entered the dining hall, and, falling on their
knees, prostrated themselves till their heads touched the floor. They
wore the most artistic of dresses, with huge sashes of a soft rich
color. In their hands they bore several native instruments of music,
including a “koto,” a kind of horizontal harp or zither; a “samasin,”
or banjo, and a “yokobuc,” or flute. The fair musicians, still kneeling
on the floor, began to play and to sing a strangely weird but somewhat
exciting melody. Meanwhile other handmaidens, scarcely less richly
dressed than the first, made their appearance, carrying costly lacquer
trays with egg-shell porcelain cups containing slices of the feelers
of the octopus, or devil-fish, wonderfully contrived soups, oranges
preserved in sirups, and various other extraordinary confections. At
first both Nina and Frederick made fruitless attempts to convey the
viands to their mouths by means of the chop-sticks which had been
placed before them, but soon, following the example of their host, they
overcame this difficulty by raising the cups to their lips and gulping
down the contents.

Then came the most dainty morsel of the feast, which is to the Japanese
epicure what fresh oysters and Russian sterlet are to us. Resting on
a large dish of priceless Kioto porcelain, garnished with a wreath of
variegated bamboo leaves, was a magnificent fish of the turbot species.
It was still alive, for its gills and its mouth moved regularly. To
Nina's horror, the serving girl raised the skin from the upper side of
the fish, which was already loose, and picked off slice after slice of
the living creature, which, although alive, had been carved in such a
manner that no vital part had been touched; the heart, gills, liver,
and stomach had been left intact, and the damp sea-weed on which the
fish rested sufficed to keep the lungs in action. The miserable thing
seemed to look with a lustrous but reproachful eye upon the guests
while they consumed its body. To be buried alive is horrible enough in
all conscience, but to be eaten alive must be even still worse. It
should be added that this particular fish, the dai, is only good when
eaten alive. The moment it is dead the flesh becomes opaque, tough, and
starchy. The wine consisted of warm “sakke” and other kinds of liquor
distilled from rice.

Toward the end of the repast, which lasted several hours, a sliding
panel was suddenly drawn aside and an elderly Japanese lady made her
appearance, crawling on her hands and knees. She was followed by a
considerably younger looking woman and two little girls. On Frederick
looking inquiringly at his host, the latter, with a contemptuous jerk
backward of his thumb, said:

“Oh! my wife,” at which words the good lady touched the floor with her
forehead.

The younger woman was equally briefly introduced as “Okamisan,” and was
the second wife of the worthy host. Of the two little girls one was a
daughter by the first wife and the other by Okamisan, who all dwelt on
the best of terms together.

Both Frederick and Nina were about to rise from the cushions on which
they were sitting on the floor in order to greet the ladies, but they
were forced by their entertainer to keep their places, while with an
important wave of the hand he dismissed his family.

On her way home that night Nina complained of feeling very ill, but
attributing it to the effects of the extraordinary and mysterious
dishes of which she had partaken, she attached no particular importance
thereto.

On the following day she was but little better, and from that time
forth was scarcely ever well. Her languor and loss of appetite
increased day by day. At Frederick's suggestion one of the best
European doctors at Yokohama was summoned to attend to her case, but
the remedies which he prescribed proved of no avail. She was rarely
able to leave the grounds of the villa, and grew more feeble as the
time passed by. Frederick was unremitting in his attention, and nursed
her with what was apparently the most tender solicitude.

Their residence at the “vashiki” was brought to a sudden close shortly
afterward by a tragic incident. A valuable gold bracelet belonging to
Nina had disappeared, and as the young Samurai (nobleman) who acted
as interpreter and major-domo, had engaged the servants and rendered
himself personally responsible for their honesty, Frederick laid the
blame on him, and reproached him about the theft in the most violent
and unmeasured terms. The poor fellow seemed to take the matter to
heart very much, but uttered no word of response.

The following day, however, he summoned all his friends and relatives,
to the number of about twenty, and caused them to assemble in one of
the detached pavilions of the villa which had been assigned to his
use. Squatting on their heels around the room, with their “hibashi” or
charcoal boxes in front of them, from the burning embers of which they
every few minutes lighted their small and peculiarly shaped pipes, they
listened in silence to a long document which the young man, who was
seated in the middle of the room, read to them. Its contents were to
the effect that he had rendered himself responsible for the honesty of
the servants of his employer's establishment, that an important theft
had occurred, that he had been held accountable, and that not only
had he been loaded with reproaches, but even himself been suspected
of being the thief. Dishonor such as this could only be wiped out by
his blood. He had therefore requested his friends and relatives to be
present during his last moments, and to receive his dying wishes.

As soon as he had concluded the reading of this document every one
of those present prostrated himself with a long-drawn exclamation
of “Hai,” which seemed to come from the very depths of the heart.
This was to indicate that they fully approved of the course which he
intended to adopt.

After a few moments of profound silence the young man, in a low but yet
matter-of-fact tone of voice, addressed each one of those present in
succession, giving directions as to the disposal of his property and
messages for absent acquaintances.

Then there was another silence, during which cups of tea and “sakke”
were passed around.

Suddenly, on a sign from the young man, the person nearest to him, and
who was his dearest relative, arose and left the room. On returning a
few minutes later he drew from his loose and flowing sleeve a short
but heavy Japanese sword about twenty inches in length. The whole of
the broad, heavy blade and the razor-like edge were hidden by a double
layer of fine but opaque Japanese tissue paper, which effectually
concealed from sight every trace of the deadly steel excepting about a
quarter of an inch of the point. Prostrating himself before the young
Samurai he handed it to him with much formality.

The latter received it in the same ceremonious manner, and having
taken one last whiff at his pipe and replaced it in the fire-box, he
bared his stomach, and inserting the point into his left side, plunged
it up to its hilt, and then, without a cry, without a moan, or even
a single exclamation of pain, drew it swiftly across to the right
side and halfway back again before he fell forward on his face. A few
gasps were all that was heard, except the deep-drawn sighs of those
present. The plucky young fellow was dead. Almost every internal organ
had been severed by the terrible cut, and he lay there motionless in a
pool of blood, the red color of which contrasted vividly with the pure
whiteness of the straw matting.

[Illustration: COMMITTING HARI-KARI.]

Tenderly raising him up, his friends bore the corpse into an adjoining
room, where, after washing off the blood and cleansing the body, they
clothed it in the full costume of a Samurai and laid him on a mat,
with his legs drawn up and crossed, his hands folded on his breast,
and his two swords—the long one for his enemies and the short one for
himself—lying on the ground by his side. Not a trace of pain or anguish
was to be seen on the dead man's face, which looked incredibly calm and
peaceful.

During that whole night his friends sat by the body, moaning and
chanting in a low voice some kind of “Shinto” songs or verse.

It was only on the morrow that Frederick and Nina were made acquainted
with all the particulars of the tragedy of the previous evening. The
doctor happening to arrive shortly afterward, and being informed of
the terrible incident, immediately impressed upon them the necessity
of leaving the spot at once, and even recommended them to quit Japan
as soon as possible. At any rate, he urged that they should drive
back with him to Yokohama and take up their residence temporarily at
the Grand Hotel, within the boundaries of the foreign settlement. He
explained to them that since their major-domo had committed hari-kari
in consequence of his deeming himself mortally insulted by Frederick,
it had become the bounden and solemn duty of the nearest relative of
the dead man to avenge his honor.

Nina, whose nerves had already received a terrible shock on hearing of
her major-domo's tragical end—a shock which in her feeble condition
of health she was scarcely in a position to bear—now became terribly
alarmed, and insisted on acting on the doctor's advice. Frederick,
knowing how small are the chances of a European against the deadly
swords of the Samurai, which cut through flesh and bone, readily
consented, and, having hastily gathered together their money, jewelry,
papers, and other portable valuables, they drove to Yokohama in the
doctor's carriage.

Nina, however, even when comfortably established in the handsome
apartments on the first floor of the Grand Hotel, was in a constant
state of dread and terror. She was convinced that every native
whom she saw passing along the wharf was intent on murdering her
beloved Frederick, and the idea of remaining any longer in Japan was
intolerable to her. Having become aware that a steamer was about to
leave two days later for San Francisco, she prevailed upon Frederick
to secure passages, and accordingly at the hour appointed for sailing
she was carried on board in an exceedingly feeble condition.

Before taking leave of them their friend, the doctor, who had attended
to the removal of all their property from the villa, solemnly informed
Frederick that he considered his wife's case almost hopeless; that he
believed her to be suffering from decomposition of the blood, and that
her only chance of recovery lay in a radical change of climate and a
sea voyage.



CHAPTER XV.

DEAD.


It was a magnificent, sunshiny morning when the great paddle-wheel
steamer of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company raised its anchor and
started forth on its twenty-three days' journey to San Francisco. As
it rounded the point it passed almost within a stone's throw of the
inward-bound French mail-boat from Hong-Kong. Mme. Van der Beck, who,
lying back in a deck chair, had been gazing languidly at the French
vessel through a pair of opera-glasses, suddenly raised herself in her
chair, and, uttering a piercing shriek, fell back in a dead faint.
Quickly turning his gaze in the direction of the passing ship Frederick
was able, even without the assistance of the glasses, to recognize in
one of the passengers on the hurricane deck Nina's husband, Mr. Van der
Beck.

A moment later the French vessel rounded into the bay and passed out of
sight, while the American mail steamer proceeded out to sea. Nina was
borne down to her cabin, and a long time elapsed before she could be
restored to consciousness. From that time forth she sank day by day.
The glimpse which she had caught of her bitterly wronged husband had
proved a final and crushing blow, and although her love for Frederick
never wavered, yet it was easy to perceive that her heart was filled
with remorse at the fatal step which she had taken in eloping with him
from Batavia.

One evening some ten days after their departure from Japan, Mme. Van
der Beck, who was feeling more oppressed and restless than usual,
insisted on being carried up on deck, where she was laid on a cane
lounge and propped up with cushions.

The night was a beautiful one. The dark-blue waters of the Pacific were
so calm and still that they reflected the myriads of stars, and the
full moon shed its soft, silvery light on the track of foam made by the
vessel in its rapid progress.

Nina at first lay perfectly still looking up at the sky, and now and
again gently stroking Frederick's hand, which she had taken in both
her own. The young man, who was sitting on a camp-stool close at her
side, looked unusually sad and listless, and from time to time his eyes
scanned her colorless face as it rested on the white pillows, with an
expression of mingled remorse and sorrow. He knew that her days were
numbered, and for once in his life he was on the verge of regretting
what he had done. After all, this poor woman's only crime had been
that she had loved him too well. She had always tried her very best to
render him happy, and he had, in return, brought on her nothing but
sorrow and death.

Suddenly Nina raised herself slightly and said in a low, exhausted
voice:

“My darling, I have been very happy with you. But you must not grieve!
It is best so! It is best so!”

This was the first time that she had ever alluded to the possibility of
her death; and Frederick, greatly shocked, exclaimed:

“Why, what do you mean, dear? What are you talking about? I don't
understand you.”

“Oh! yes, you do! You know well that I am dying! You love me so much
that you do not like to think of the possibility thereof. But I feel
sure that it is better for us to talk about it now that the time of
separation is so near at hand. I shall never reach America. I feel it;
and I want to arrange everything for you before I go!”

“Nonsense, Nina! Don't talk in that way, my dear girl! I cannot spare
you. This voyage was all that was wanted to set you up. You are only
suffering from langour and weakness. In a few days you will be yourself
again.”

She shook her head gently, and turning her face toward him replied,
while tears welled up in her large, soft eyes and glittered like
diamonds in the moonlight.

“I have only one wish, Frederick. I want you to return to—to—my
husband—all that I have taken from him. My own fortune and my jewels
you must keep. They are yours. I have written a kind of last will or
testament this afternoon, leaving to you all I have. But it has long
been a subject of bitter remorse to me that I should have taken away
one penny of what belonged to him. Will you promise me, dear, to fulfil
my last wishes in this matter?”

“Why, of course—certainly; anything you please, my dear girl. But for
my sake stop talking of so terrible a possibility as your leaving me. I
cannot bear it.”

Raising her small, emaciated hand to his lips he kissed it tenderly. As
he lifted his eyes once more to her face he was startled by the change
he saw there. Her thin and delicate features had become drawn and
haggard, and her eyes were dull as if a film had gathered over them.

He started up alarmed. He was not himself that night and he felt
ashamed of the softness which had crept unawares into his head. He bent
over the dying woman and moistened her parched lips with a few drops of
brandy and water. She looked up at him somewhat revived and murmured
wistfully:

“Take me in your arms, darling. I shall die easier so.”

He knelt down beside her and gently drew her head onto his shoulder.
For a few minutes there was perfect silence. Then, suddenly, Nina threw
her arms around his neck, gasping:

“Don't let me die! Hold me closer, Frederick! Keep me here.”

She clung to him in terror for a second. Then a spasm shook her from
head to foot, and relaxing her hold, she sank back on her pillow.

Nina Van der Beck was dead, and one more life was added to the number
of Frederick von Waldberg's victims.



CHAPTER XVI.

LANDING AT SAN FRANCISCO.


On the following evening at sunset, the deck of the steamer presented a
most impressive appearance. All the officers and passengers of the ship
were assembled around the corpse of poor Nina Van der Beck, over which
the captain was reading the burial service. The evening was gloomy and
threatening, and the dark-green waves were beginning to be capped with
foam. Overhead there was a glaring red sky, of the fierce, angry color
of blood which tinged the water around the ship a lurid crimson. Away
in the west the sun, like a gigantic ball of fire, was sinking behind
a bank of ominous-looking clouds, and from time to time a passing
shadow shivered on the troubled waters like a streak of purple. Several
huge albatross were unceasingly circling around the vessel with broad
expanded wings, and their discordant cries added to the weird fantasy
of the scene. The engines had been stopped, and the silence was only
broken by the slashing of the waves against the ship's side and the
melancholy moaning of the wind through the rigging, which was so strong
as to sometimes almost drown the voice of the commander as he proceeded
with the service.

On the deck at his feet lay a long, narrow object, sewed up in a
canvas cover. An Austrian flag had been thrown partly over it, so as
to conceal as much as possible the rigid outline of the corpse which
produced so dismal an impression in its shroud of sail-cloth, to which
two heavy cannonballs had been attached.

Frederick was leaning against the bulwark, close to the place where
an opening had been purposely prepared. His arms were folded on his
breast, and his head was bent; but, although he was deadly pale, he
showed no trace of emotion, and remained so perfectly still that he
might have been carved in marble. Only once during the brief ceremony
did his unnatural calm give way. The captain had arrived at those most
solemn words of a burial service at sea:

     “We therefore commit her body to the deep, looking for the
     resurrection of the body when the sea shall give up her dead.”

[Illustration: NINA BURIED AT SEA.]

Four quartermasters, with bared heads, at that moment seized the
corpse, and, placing it on an inclined plank, allowed it to gently
glide downward into the dark waters. The waves opened for an instant,
with a low, hissing sound, and then closed again over all that remained
of the once beautiful and admired Nina. Frederick shuddered, as if
overcome by a great terror, and an expression of horror swept over
his livid features. Making his way through the group of mourners, he
rapidly walked forward to the very bows of the vessel, and for three
long hours he remained there motionless, leaning against the bulwark,
peering into the gathering darkness, and apparently heedless of the
terrible storm which was coming on.

The tempest, which had announced itself by an alarming fall of the
barometer, burst forth shortly after ten o'clock that night in all its
intensity. It seemed as if the very elements were raising their voices
in protest against the great crime which had been committed. For a time
the wind was so powerful that the ship could make no headway, and the
very waves were beaten down by its terrific force. The air for a depth
of about fifteen feet above the surface of the water was covered with
a dense kind of mist, formed of pulverized spray. It was impossible to
stand on deck without being tied.

On the following day the wind lulled slightly, and then the waves, as
if released from the pressure which had kept them down, burst upon
the vessel in all their mad fury. Seas mountain high swept the deck
from stem to stern, carrying almost all before them. The boats were
torn from their davits and shattered to pieces. The smoking-room,
pilot-house, and captain's cabin were severely damaged, and the
paddle-boxes splintered to match-wood, leaving the huge wheels exposed
to view.

In the midst of all this turmoil, Frederick was below in the saloon,
half-stretched on a divan, making an attempt to read. Suddenly a
terrific lurch sent everything flying to starboard, and the young man,
without touching the table in front of him, was hurled clean over it
through the air to the other side of the cabin, where his head came in
violent contact with the heavy brass lock of the door.

For a moment it was thought that he was dead. Some artery had been cut,
and a torrent of blood deluged his face and clothes. As soon as his
fellow-passengers were able to regain their feet, they carried him off
to the surgeon's quarters, where some minutes elapsed before he could
be restored to his senses.

Marvelous to relate, it was found that he had sustained no injury
beyond a deep and jagged cut extending over the top of the head. This
was carefully sewed up, and with the exception of severe headaches
during the next few weeks, accompanied by slight fever, Frederick
suffered no ill effects from his accident.

The wound, although it had healed well, yet left, even when the hair
had grown again, a slight scar, which the French police might have
discovered at the time of “Prado's” imprisonment and execution, had
they taken the trouble to shave the front part of his head.

The storm had driven the steamer so far out of its course that it did
not arrive in front of the Golden Gate until the twenty-ninth day after
leaving Yokohama. A few hours later the good ship was made fast to
the enormous wharf of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. Frederick
hastened on shore, and was driven to one of the leading hotels.

In the afternoon, having gone down to see about the passing of his
luggage through the custom-house, he was much amused by the sight of
the landing of the five or six hundred Chinese who had made the passage
across the Pacific with him. If ever human beings were treated like
chattels it was on this occasion. The inspectors first of all began
by carefully examining the strange-looking bundles and boxes which
constituted their baggage; and, having ascertained that there was no
opium concealed therein, they marked them with a large hieroglyphic
in white chalk, in order to show that they had been duly passed. The
owners themselves were then taken in hand, and their persons equally
minutely searched, after which ceremony their backs were ornamented
with a similar large hieroglyphic in chalk. The spectacle they
presented as they marched into San Francisco, labeled in this fashion,
from the highest mandarin down to the humblest coolie, was ludicrous
beyond description, and was greeted with many a hearty laugh.



CHAPTER XVII.

HURLED OVER THE FALLS.


Frederick had intended to leave San Francisco on the following day
for the Atlantic coast. He was seized, however, that same night with
a severe attack of fever, which kept him confined to his bed for over
a fortnight. As soon, however, as he had sufficiently recovered to
be able to travel, he betook himself to the offices of the railway
company and purchased a ticket for New York, engaging for himself the
private saloon on board the sleeping-car. On the next night he took
the ferry-boat over to Oakland, and embarked on the transcontinental
express. Among his fellow-passengers were a couple of young English
noblemen, who had been visiting the Yosemite Valley, and who were now
on their way to Ottawa. Frederick soon became acquainted with them,
and created the most favorable impression. The name under which he
introduced himself to them was the Comte de Vaugedale, and he gave them
to understand that he was traveling around the world for his health.
As both his manners and appearance bespoke every trace of aristocratic
birth and breeding, and as he seemed to have plenty of money, the young
Englishmen saw no cause to treat him with the distrust and suspicion
which foreigners ordinarily experience at the hands of the subjects of
her britannic majesty.

The time was spent in playing whist and _ecarte_, games at which
Frederick, who was an exceedingly wealthy man, could afford to
lose in such a cool manner as to attract the admiration of his
fellow-travelers. So agreeable did they find their new acquaintance,
that they prevailed upon him to accompany them to Canada, instead of
going straight to New York, as had been originally his intention.

In due time they arrived at Ottawa, having spent a few days en route at
Salt Lake City, Omaha, and Chicago.

During the two weeks which they spent in the Canadian capital, they
were most hospitably entertained by various persons of high birth and
breeding in that city. They were also included among the guests at the
ball given by the governor-general at Rideau Hall, where the man who,
as “Prado,” was some years later to suffer an ignominious death at the
hands of M. Deibler (the Paris executioner) had the honor of dancing
with the illustrious personage who at that time graced the vice-regal
mansion with her presence.

At the conclusion of their visit to Ottawa, the three young men started
for Niagara Falls, which they were anxious to see, and on arriving
there, took up their residence at one of the principal hotels on the
Canadian side of the cataract.

The day after their arrival was spent in visiting the Cave of the
Winds, and other sights of the place. That same evening, after
dinner, Frederick, leaving his two friends playing billiards at the
hotel, lighted a cigar, and strolled down toward the Falls. As he was
walking along the edge of the precipitous bank of the mighty torrent,
he suddenly heard footsteps advancing toward him from the opposite
direction. Raising his eyes to see who the stranger might be, he
recognized, to his horror, in the bright moonlight, the last person on
earth whom he wished to meet—the husband of Nina, Mr. Van der Beck.

Frederick hoped that Nina's husband would fail to recognize him, and
pulling his hat down over his eyes quickened his pace for the purpose
of preventing the latter from obtaining a glimpse of his features. His
onward course, however, was brought to a sudden stop by Mr. Van der
Beck, who, courteously raising his hat, requested him to give him a
light for his cigar. As the two men stood face to face, the moon, which
for a moment past had been obscured by a fleeting cloud, suddenly shone
forth again, casting its bright rays full on Frederick's face.

With a hoarse cry, the old man started back when he recognized the
man who had so grievously wronged him. His face assumed a terrible
expression; his eyes glittered fiercely, and, trembling with suppressed
fury from head to foot, he seemed for a moment unable to speak.

The situation was truly an awful one for both.

In striking contrast with the violent passions which surged in the
breasts of both the husband and lover of the ill-fated Nina Van der
Beck was the deep calm and loveliness of the scene around them. Not
a breath of wind stirred the lofty branches of the trees. The moon
was sailing majestically across the dark heavens, shedding a light so
bright and pure that every blade of grass, every pebble in the path
was distinguishable in the silvery sheen. Many feet beneath them, they
could hear the mighty rush of waters as they sped on their tumultuous
course between their rocky banks, and from a short distance off came
the dull and unceasing roar of the great Niagara Falls.

At length Mr. Van der Beck broke the silence and exclaimed in a dry,
hollow voice:

“I have caught you at last, Frederick Gavard. My hour has come! God
help you, for I have much to avenge.”

Frederick, who had by this time regained all his habitual composure,
contemptuously shrugged his shoulders and replied with a sneer:

“This is rather melodramatic, Mr. Van der Beck. May I inquire how
you propose to take your revenge? I can make some allowance for your
feelings. I quite realize that the role of a betrayed husband has its
drawbacks, but——”

“Silence! How dare you add insult to the bitter injury you have
done to me. Have you no atom of feeling left? When you think
of the unhappy woman you have ruined—of the friend you have
betrayed—dishonored—robbed—yes, robbed, not only of his wife, but
of his fortune! Do you suppose that I shall allow you to escape
unpunished?—you who have shattered my life and killed the woman I loved
so passionately.”

With these words Mr. Van der Beck took a step toward Frederick and
raised his hand in a threatening manner.

“Stay, you old fool! You do not know what you are talking about. You
had best not tempt me too far. I am not in a mood to be trifled with,”
retorted the young man, defiantly.

“Neither am I!” exclaimed the infuriated Mr. Van der Beck. “You have in
your possession still a part of my fortune. I will have you arrested as
a robber and a thief if I do not kill you before then, as the destroyer
of my happiness. But whatever happens you shall not escape me.”

Frederick uttered a short mocking laugh.

“I have followed you half across the world,” continued Mr. Van der
Beck, “and I swear by Heaven that I will put a stop to your shameless
career and hinder you from doing any further harm.”

The old man looked so awful in his anger that Frederick involuntarily
recoiled. They were now standing on the edge of the path and within a
few feet of the brink of the yawning abyss beneath him. Mr. Van der
Beck violently grasped the young man by the shoulder, exclaiming:

“Come with me. It is of no use to resist. I am armed; and, though I am
but a feeble old man compared to you, you will have to follow me.”

Saying this, he pulled a revolver from his breast-pocket and leveled it
at Frederick's breast.

A fiendish expression swept over the young man's features. With one
swift blow of his arm he dashed the weapon from Mr. Van der Beck's
hand, and, seizing him in his iron grasp, he pushed him toward the
precipice. There was a short struggle, during which the moon was once
again obscured by a fleecy cloud. Twice a cry for help rang through
the still night air; twice the two men, struggling frantically, almost
rolled together over the brink. But at last, putting forth all his
strength, Frederick actually lifted his adversary by the waist from the
ground and with one mighty effort hurled him into the surging waters
below. There was a crash of falling stones, an agonized cry, which was
heard even above the roar of the cataract, and a splash.

[Illustration: FREDERICK HURLS MR. VAN DER BECK OVER THE FALLS.]

Then all was silent again.

In the woods an owl hooted twice dismally, and a dog in the distance
uttered that peculiar howl which is only heard when the Angel of Death
passes through the air.

When the moon shone forth again Frederick might have been seen picking
up the revolver which had belonged to Mr. Van der Beck from the ground.
After hesitating for a minute he flung it into the river. Then, having
arranged as best he could the disorder of his dress occasioned by the
struggle, he turned on his heels and walked back slowly to the hotel,
muttering to himself as he went:

“It was his own fault. What need had he to cross my path? However, it
is best so. Dead men tell no tales.”

When Frederick re-entered the billiard-room at the hotel his friends
noticed that he was very pale. He called for a glass of brandy, and
when it was brought drained it at one gulp.

“My dear boy,” exclaimed one of the young Englishmen, “what the duse is
the matter with you? Have you seen a ghost? How ill you look!”

“Oh, there is nothing much the matter with me,” replied Frederick. “I
suppose I have caught a chill; it is fearfully damp about here.”

“You should have remained with us. We have had a stunning game.”

“Well, I am glad, all the same, that I went. The view of the falls by
moonlight is well worth seeing. Yes,” added Frederick, abstractedly,
“on the whole, I am glad I went.”



CHAPTER XVIII.

IN NEW YORK.


On the following morning the three young men crossed over to the
American side of the Niagara and took the train to New York. They had
hardly settled down at their hotel when cards began to pour in on them.
The names of both of Frederick's traveling companions were well known,
and the one which he himself had assumed sounded sufficiently grand to
inspire a desire on the part of the hospitable New Yorkers to become
acquainted with its possessor. Photographers called the first thing
next morning to request the privilege of taking their pictures, and
several young ladies who were staying at the same hotel sent up their
albums by the waiter with a request for autographs.

A day or two later Frederick, glancing over the papers, caught sight of
a paragraph dated from the Falls, which related that a Dutch gentleman
who had arrived there and taken up his residence at a hotel on the
American side had been missing for several days, and that as he had
appeared to be in a very melancholy frame of mind on his arrival it was
feared that he had thrown himself into the rapids.

During the time which Frederick and his friends remained in New
York they dined out almost every evening, and there is some ground
for surprise as to why Frederick should not have availed himself of
the opportunity which he had of marrying one of the wealthiest and
handsomest women of New York society.

As this portion of “Prado's” career deals with certain personalities
which would be easily recognized here, even under a pseudonym, it is
better, considering the nature of the circumstances, to dismiss it with
this brief allusion.



CHAPTER XIX.

AN UNEXPECTED MEETING.


Among the passengers on board the Cunard steamer which made its way
up to its moorings in the Mersey on a misty and stormy morning three
months after the tragedy which had taken place at Niagara Falls were
Count Frederick de Vaugelade and his two English fellow-travelers, Mr.
Harcourt and Lord Arthur Fitzjames. The intimacy between the three
young men had become very much closer, and Frederick was under promise
to visit each of them at his father's country-seat as soon as the
London season was over.

On the day after their arrival in London Lord Arthur called at
Frederick's hotel in Piccadilly, and after taking him for a lounge in
the Row, and thence to lunch at his club, proceeded to his father's
house in Park lane and introduced his friend to his mother and sisters.
From that time forth Frederick became almost a daily visitor at the
Marquis of Kingsbury's house.

His great attraction there was Lady Margaret, familiarly called “Pearl”
in the family, a charming little brunette, with large, mischievous gray
eyes and a joyful, light-hearted disposition which made her a general
favorite. She set up a desperate flirtation with Frederick, and the
latter began to believe that luck was decidedly with him, and that it
only depended on himself to become a member of one of the greatest
families of the United Kingdom.

Lady Margaret's elder sister, Lady Alice, appeared, however, from
the first to be prejudiced against the young man, and showed him by
her marked coldness that she at least was not following the general
example of admiring everything that he did or said. Indeed, he soon
realized that she might become in an emergency a very serious obstacle
to his matrimonial projects.

The marquis himself took an immense fancy to Frederick, and introduced
him everywhere with such marked favor that the hopes of the young man
began to grow into certitude.

One evening Frederick called toward 10 o'clock at the mansion in
Park lane, and was ushered by the groom of the chambers into the
drawing-room. The ladies had not yet left the dining-room, and he sat
down on an ottoman to wait for them, taking up an album to while away
the time.

As he was idly turning over the leaves he suddenly uttered an
exclamation of surprise as he caught sight of a portrait of his old
enemy, Capt. Clery.

“By Jove, this is unfortunate,” muttered he. “I hope the man is not in
London, for if he is we may meet any day here and I shall be in a fine
hole.”

He was so absorbed in the contemplation of the pictures that he did
not hear the door open. A tall, soldierly figure entered the room and
walked slowly toward where Frederick was sitting. As he laid his opera
hat down on the table Frederick looked up, and could not help starting
to his feet as he saw the original of the picture standing before him.

Frederick's first thought was to effect his escape without delay. But
while he hesitated for a moment as to the means of doing so without
attracting Captain Clery's attention, the drawing-room doors were
thrown open, and Lady Kingsbury, followed by her daughters and two
other ladies in full evening dress, entered the room. Baffled in his
purpose, Frederick now determined to put the best face on the matter
that he could. Of one thing he was certain, namely, that there had been
no gleam of recognition in Clery's eye when the latter had cursorily
glanced at him on entering. The drawing-rooms were but dimly lighted
by several shaded lamps, and the great change which had taken place in
Frederick's appearance during the years which had elapsed since he left
India encouraged him to hope that he might possibly escape detection,
even on closer inspection. He therefore advanced toward the lady of the
house, and, bowing low, kissed her outstretched hand with the graceful
and never-failing courtesy that was habitual to him in his relations
with the fair sex.

“How are you, my dear count? so glad to see you!” exclaimed the
marchioness; then, as she caught sight of Captain Clery, who had
meanwhile approached, she added: “Why, Charlie, is that you? I did
not know you were back in town. Let me introduce you to the Comte de
Vaugelade, a new but already very dear friend of ours.”

The two men bowed to each other, and Frederick began to feel more sure
of his ground as Clery gave no token of ever having met him before.

The conversation soon became general, and Frederick, always a brilliant
talker, surpassed himself that evening and kept them all interested and
amused by his witty sallies and repartees until a late hour.

He noticed that on two or three occasions the colonel—for such Clery
had now become—fixed his piercing blue eyes somewhat inquiringly on
him, as if trying to place him. It was evident that he was rather
puzzled.

At midnight they left the house together and strolled toward
Piccadilly, chatting rather pleasantly on various topics. As they were
about to take leave of each other, Colonel Clery suddenly exclaimed:

“I don't know why, but I have an impression that I have had the
pleasure of meeting you once before, count. Your face seems familiar,
although your name was until to-night unknown to me.”

“I fear that you must be mistaken, colonel,” quietly rejoined
Frederick, taking out his match-box to light a cigarette. “I am quite
sure that I have never had the honor of an introduction to you before—a
circumstance which I certainly could not have forgotten had it taken
place,” added he, with a bow.

Thereupon the two men shook hands cordially, and Frederick made his way
back to his hotel, leaving Colonel Clery to hail a passing hansom and
to drive home.

As the cab rattled up Piccadilly toward St. James, the colonel
thoughtfully twirled his mustache as he muttered to himself:

“Dashed if I can make it out! Where on earth did I meet that French
fellow before? It seems to me as if he were connected with some
disagreeable incident of my past life, but I will be blessed if I
can remember when or how. I must try to find it out, however. The
Kingsburys are making such a friend of him; and I am afraid that little
Pearl is fast losing her heart to him. I must have a talk with Alice
about the matter, and ask her where Arthur picked him up.”

On the following day, meeting Lord Arthur in the Row, Colonel Clery
questioned him about Frederick.

“Oh, Vaugelade is a capital fellow!” exclaimed the young lord. “Tommy
Harcourt and I traveled with him all over America. Lots of money, you
know; good form and all that. The girls at Ottawa and New York were all
crazy about him. We thought we should never be able to get him away.
Awfully good fellow, and the most agreeable traveling companion I have
ever met!”

“Well, but, my dear boy, do you know anything more definite about him?
You see, one can never know too much about these blasted foreigners.
Wasn't it somewhat imprudent to introduce him to your mother and
sisters? I am afraid that Pearl is becoming rather infatuated with him.”

“Oh, hang it, Clery, you croak like an old parson. Pearl is a desperate
flirt, and is always going it with some fellow or other. What would
be the harm anyhow? I don't think the pater would object very much.
Vaugelade has fortune, birth, position, good looks, talents.”

“What on earth do you know about his birth, position, or fortune beyond
what he tells you himself?” remonstrated the colonel.

A look of real annoyance passed over Lord Arthur's good-humored face,
as he exclaimed, with unusual asperity:

“Now, see here, Charlie, I think you have said enough. Vaugelade is a
friend of mine, and I won't hear another word against him. Why, man
alive, he is not poaching on your preserves. On the contrary, I am
rather inclined to believe that he and Alice don't hit it off well
together.”

“Shows her good sense,” interrupted Colonel Clery.

“Well, that is neither here nor there. Don't let us quarrel about it,
there's a good fellow. By Jove, when you and Alice are married your
house will be difficult of approach. I have never seen such people as
you both are for always picking holes in everybody.”

Nothing more was said about the matter, and Colonel Clery decided to
keep his own counsel in future.

A week later the colonel and Frederick both dined in Park lane, and
as nobody was going out that night, the party assembled after dinner
in Lady Kingsbury's boudoir and began looking over some magnificent
photographs which Clery had given to Lady Alice on his return from
India.

“Oh, by the by, my dear count,” said Lady Kingsbury to Frederick,
who was sitting near her, “you must tell me all about that horrible
story of the elephant execution which you told Pearl the other day.
She has been talking so much to me about it that I am quite anxious to
hear from you if it is really true. Surely it is impossible that such
barbarous cruelty should still be practiced in a country over which her
majesty's power extends!”

“I don't believe a word of it!” exclaimed Lady Alice, in very decided
tones. “The count, as we all know, is a great hand at oriental
embroidery, no matter how flimsy the fabric on which it reposes.”

“My dear,” remonstrated her mother, “how can you say such a rude thing
when Monsieur de Vaugelade has assured your sister that he himself has
witnessed the ghastly scene with his own eyes!”

Colonel Clery, who was turning over the photographs, quickly looked up
at this moment and cast a searching look on Frederick.

“Now, Charlie,” said Lady Alice, crossing over to him, “you have been
in India. Do tell us if you have ever heard of this mode of execution?”

“Yes,” replied the colonel, slowly, “I have. It is, however, a very
rare occurrence, and during the whole of my long stay in the East I
have only known it to be applied on two occasions, both of which, as
far as I can remember, took place at Baroda, a God-forsaken spot, ruled
by a cruel and tyrannical man, who snaps his fingers at English laws. I
particularly remember the last of these two executions, for the victim
was a poor devil whose innocence was discovered some weeks after his
having been put to death.”

“Oh, now, you must tell us all about it,” cried Lady Margaret, whose
love of the horrible was a standing joke in the family. “It positively
sounds like a story out of a novel.”

Colonel Clery, who had risen and was now standing before the
fire-place, turned his eyes full upon Frederick and remarked:

“You really ought to ask Count de Vaugelade to tell you all about it,
instead of me. Having been present on one of these occasions, he is
certainly in a better position to satisfy your curiosity than I am.”

“Not at all, my dear colonel. If the ladies insist on hearing about
this _vilaine affaire_, I had much rather that you would tell them.
But,” he added, in a somewhat agitated voice, “is it not rather a
dismal subject to discuss? Let us talk of something else.”

“No, no,” urged Lady Margaret. “We are in for the horrible! Don't
disappoint us, I beg of you.”

“Well, then, as the count is so modest and declines to give us another
proof of his talents as a narrator, I will tell you what I know about
the matter,” said Colonel Clery, as he resumed his seat.

“It was about eight or nine years ago, and I had only recently
returned to India from a long furlough in England, when all Baroda
and Bombay society were startled by the announcement of the murder
of a very prominent and well-known Hindoo widow, whose body had been
discovered among the ruins of a temple in the outskirts of Baroda. A
poor, half-witted beggar had been found removing some jewels from the
corpse as it lay in the long grass, and it was immediately taken for
granted that it was he who had killed her. He was immediately seized
and dragged before the guicowar or king, who lost no time in sentencing
him to suffer death by the elephant. This most atrocious punishment,
as Monsieur de Vaugelade will doubtless have informed you, consists in
tying the culprit, who is securely bound hand and foot and unable to
stir, by a long rope to the hind leg of the monster. The latter is then
urged to a sharp trot, and at each movement of its leg the helpless
body of the victim is jerked with a bound over the stone pavement.
This is kept up for about the space of half a mile or so, after which
the poor wretch's sufferings are brought to a close, his head being
placed on a stone block and crushed flat by the ponderous foot of the
elephant.”

There was a murmur of horror among those present, in which even Lord
Arthur joined, and Frederick, who had been sitting motionless on
the sofa with Lady Kingsbury's toy terrier lying across his knees,
unconsciously twisted the little dog's ear so violently that it gave
a suppressed howl, and, reproachfully looking at him, retired to its
mistress' skirts in high dudgeon.

“Remember, please,” remarked the colonel, “that you insisted that I
should tell you all this, and that I did so against my own inclination.”

“Yes, of course, of course, my dear Charlie. But do go on, please,”
exclaimed Lady Margaret, impatiently.

“All right, Pearl. You are really the most blood-thirsty little woman I
have ever met. I suppose I shall have to spin you the remainder of the
yarn,” replied the colonel, as he laughed somewhat constrainedly.

“I forgot to tell you that a man of the name of Count von Waldberg, a
Prussian nobleman, with whom we had become acquainted on our passage
out to Bombay, was at the time staying at Baroda with a Colonel
Fitzpatrick. This young man never took my fancy, and I had had occasion
to believe him to be a rather shady character.”

“Just like you. You always manage to see the dark side of everybody,”
interrupted Lord Arthur, who was lounging on a pile of cushions.

“Please, Arthur, spare us your remarks. Do, there's a good fellow,”
cried the irrepressible Pearl.

“When you have quite finished fighting there I will resume my story,”
exclaimed Colonel Clery.

“Don't mind them, Charlie. We are all very anxious to hear the end,”
rejoined Lady Kingsbury, smiling.

“Very well. I was just telling you about this man Waldberg. He was
invited by the Guicowar of Baroda to be present at the execution which
I have just described, and created quite a sensation by fainting away
at the most crucial moment thereof. Some days later he disappeared
from Baroda, leaving a letter for Colonel Fitzpatrick, in which he
stated that he had been called away on pressing business, and he has
never been heard of since. However, it was ascertained soon after
his departure that he was the last person who had been seen with the
murdered woman before her death, and that he had been noticed within a
short time of the crime near the very spot where the body was found. It
was also discovered that he had been on terms of considerable intimacy
with her, and that half an hour before the body was found he had called
at the house, and, under pretext of waiting for her, had spent some
time alone in her boudoir. As a considerable sum of money and some
very valuable jewels were afterward found by the widow's executors to
be missing from a desk in this particular room, the theft, as well
as the murder, was immediately laid at Count von Waldberg's door. It
was too late, however, for the bird had flown, and all efforts of the
police were powerless even to trace him out of India. I must add that
there were some very distressing circumstances with regard to Colonel
Fitzpatrick's lovely daughter, who, on hearing of the count's sudden
departure, committed suicide by drowning herself in the river.”

“How horrible!” exclaimed Lady Margaret. “Why, the man must have been a
perfect monster!”

“Not in appearance, at any rate. He was a very good-looking
fellow—remarkably handsome—not very tall, but of aristocratic bearing,
with small hands and feet, large, soft black eyes, and a black
mustache. Yes, I remember him perfectly now!”

At this juncture Frederick, who had risen, glanced at the clock, and,
addressing Lady Kingsbury, said, apologetically:

“I am afraid that this interesting story has made me forget how late
the hour is. I must pray you to excuse me and to permit me to take my
leave.”

“Why, it is actually 2 o'clock!” exclaimed the marchioness. “I had no
idea it was so late. Good-night, my dear count. Do come to luncheon
to-morrow. You know that you promised to accompany us to the exhibition
of water-colors in the afternoon. I am so anxious to hear your opinion
about our English pictures.”

After duly expressing his thanks and acceptance of the invitation, and,
after bidding adieu, Frederick was moving toward the door, accompanied
by Lord Arthur, when Colonel Clery called out to him:

“Wait a moment for me, count. I will walk part of the way with you, if
you will allow it. I have got to go, too.”

Frederick bowed his assent, and the two men went down stairs together,
Lord Arthur calling after them over the balustrades.

“_Dolce repose_, Charlie; don't dream of all these blood-and-thunder
stories, and don't treat poor Vaugelade to any more of them on his way
home. You are enough to give a fellow the creeps.”

For a minute after they had left the house Colonel Clery and Frederick
walked on in silence. The night was very dark, and a fine drizzling
rain was beginning to fall.

Suddenly Colonel Clery stopped short in front of Frederick, and laying
his hand on the latter's arm said, quietly:

“I know you now—you are Count von Waldberg!”

The light of a street lamp was shining full on Frederick's face,
and Colonel Clery remarked, with surprise, that not a muscle of his
features moved.

“May I inquire, Colonel Clery, what on earth you mean by this
astounding piece of insolence; for I can scarcely regard it in any
other light after what you have told us to-night about the gentleman
whose name you are attempting to father on me in such a preposterous
fashion. Had I not spent the entire evening in your company I should be
tempted to believe that you had been drinking.”

“I am perfectly aware of what I am saying,” replied the colonel, “and
I should not have ventured to make such an assertion had I not been
sure of my ground. Ever since I first met you here in London I have
been seeking to recall your face. I knew that I had seen you before,
but could not remember where. To-night, however, the conversation about
the Baroda executions has brought the whole thing back to me, and I
recognize you perfectly now. I cannot be mistaken.”

“It is to be regretted, for your own sake, that you are,” replied
Frederick, “and very much so, too. I will hold you accountable for
this deliberate calumny, Colonel Clery. A man should have proper proof
before daring to accuse a gentleman of such crimes as those which your
Count Waldberg or Walderburg seems, according to your story, to have
committed.”

Colonel Clery was fairly staggered by Frederick's extraordinary
coolness and self-possession. He began to ask himself whether he
had not been committing some awful blunder in asserting that M. de
Vaugelade and Count Waldberg were one and the same person.

“Of course,” faltered he, at length, “if you can give me any proof to
show that you are not the man I believe you to be, I shall be only too
happy to beg your pardon for what I have said, and attribute it all to
a most remarkable resemblance.

“I am quite ready to give you any proof you may desire,” replied
Frederick, very stiffly. “I may add, however, that were it not for
the peculiar and privileged position which you hold with regard to the
Kingsburys I should not dream of taking the trouble to exculpate myself
in your eyes. It is for their sake alone that I consent to lower myself
to answer your ridiculous insinuations.”

During this conversation they had walked on, and had passed Frederick's
hotel without noticing it. They were now very near Colonel Clery's
rooms, in St. James.

“Have you got any—any papers about you which could convince me of my
mistake and prove your identity?” inquired Clery, somewhat hesitatingly.

“Well, I have my passport, which is attached to my pocket-book,
and some cards and letters besides, if that will suffice,” replied
Frederick with a sneer; “but I do not suppose that you wish me to sit
down here on the curbstone in the rain and let you examine them by the
light of the street lamps.”

“Certainly not. Come up to my room—that is, if you don't object. It
will be best for both of us to have this matter settled once and for
all.”

“All right; show the way. But I must acknowledge that you English are
an infernally queer lot, and well deserve to be called ‘originals.’”

Colonel Clery, taking a latch-key from his pocket, opened the house
door and preceded Frederick up a broad flight of steps. Opening another
door on the first floor he ushered him into a large but cozy-looking
sitting-room. The heavy Turkish curtains were drawn before the windows,
and a reading lamp, shaded by a crimson silk screen, was burning on
a low side table, leaving part of the room in semi-darkness. Here
and there on the tapestried walls were trophies of remarkably fine
Damascened Indian swords and inlaid matchlocks. A few good water-colors
hung over the sofa, and on the chimney was a large photograph of Lady
Alice, in a splendid enameled frame, standing between two old Satsuma
vases filled with cut flowers.

Colonel Clery mechanically motioned Frederick to the sofa, but the
latter, taking from his pocket a small portefeuille and three or four
letters, handed them to him, saying:

“Look at these first, colonel, so as to convince yourself before
anything else that you are not now harboring a thief and assassin under
your roof.”

Colonel Clery, throwing his hat and overcoat on a chair, and taking the
documents from Frederick, sat down on a low arm-chair in front of the
table for the purpose of examining them by the light of the lamp.

Had he been able to glance behind his chair he would scarcely have been
reassured by the expression which came over Frederick's features as
soon as he felt that he was no longer observed. But the colonel was so
absorbed in the perusal of one of the letters handed to him that he did
not even notice that Frederick had softly approached and was bending
over him as if to read over his shoulder.

[Illustration: FREDERICK KILLS COLONEL CLERY.]

Noiselessly Frederick removed from his collar a long and slender
pearl-headed platinum pin with a very sharp point, which he habitually
wore in the evening to keep his white tie in place. After a rapid
glance at the nape of the colonel's neck, which was fully exposed
to view as he bent over the latter, Frederick, with a swift downward
motion of his hand, buried this novel kind of a stiletto to the very
head between the first and second vertebræ of the spinal column.
Without a cry, without a sound, the unfortunate officer fell forward
on the table as if he had been struck by lightning. Death had been
instantaneous, the spinal marrow having been touched by the unerring
and steady prick of the tiny weapon.

This was but another instance of the dangerous knowledge which
Frederick had acquired from the natives during his sojourn in Java. All
the more dangerous, as when death has been brought about in this way no
trace of violence remains except the minute puncture at the back of the
neck produced by the pin. This is almost certain to escape observation
unless specially looked for, and the death is attributed to a sudden
failure of the action of the heart.

Frederick, having ascertained that the colonel was quite dead, took
from his contracted hand the letter he had been reading, replaced it in
the portefeuille with the others, and then restored it to his pocket.
Bending once more over the lifeless form of the colonel he drew the pin
from the almost invisible wound, which had not even bled, and replaced
it in his tie. Then, taking the body in his arms, he dragged it to the
lounge, on which he carefully laid it, closing the wide-open eyes and
arranging the pillows under the head. Lowering the lamp, he went softly
to the door, and, after listening intently for some minutes to hear if
any one was about, he stepped out of the room, and closing the door
after him, walked down stairs and into the quiet, lonely street.



CHAPTER XX.

LADY ALICE'S SUSPICION.


The next day was a fine one. The sun was shining brightly, the sky was
a deep transparent blue, and as Frederick walked through the park on
his way to the Kingsbury mansion he stopped several times to enjoy the
cool morning air. The trees were clothed in all the fresh beauty of
their spring garments, dew was sparkling like diamonds on the velvetry
lawns, where flocks of sheep were peacefully grazing, and the still
sheet of water of the Serpentine flashed like a mirror in the bright
morning light. Great rose-bushes, with their sweet-smelling pink, red,
and white blossoms, perfumed the air, while the paths were bordered
with a rainbow of many-colored flowers, over which yellow butterflies
were hovering. In the distance there was a kind of dim silvery haze
hanging midway between heaven and earth, and through its gauzy vail the
tall clumps of trees and bushes looked almost fairy-like and unreal.

As he reached the Marble Arch Frederick espied an old beggar woman who
was squatting outside on the pavement close to the park railings. She
was a repulsive-looking object. Her face was seamed and lined with
numerous wrinkles, clearly defined by the dirt which was in them; her
bushy gray eyebrows were drawn frowningly over her watery, red-rimmed
blue eyes; her nose was hooked like the beak of a bird of prey, and
from her thin-lipped mouth two yellow tusks protruded, like those of a
wild boar.

Frederick, with one of those momentary contrasts which made him so
difficult to understand, stopped in front of the old crone and dropped
a guinea into her palm. She raised one skinny hand to shade her eyes
and looked curiously at the generous stranger.

“Thank ye, my lord,” muttered she.

“You'll drink it,” I suppose, said Frederick, gazing at her inflamed
nose and sunken cheeks, which bore unmistakable signs of debauchery.

“Werry likely,” retorted the hag with a grin; “I'm a fortune to the
public 'ouse, I am. And it's the only pleasure I 'ave in my blooming
life, blarst it!”

Ignoring this polite speech, the young man directed his steps to the
Kingsbury residence, and was ushered by the groom of the chambers into
the morning-room of the marchioness. It was a long, low apartment,
oak-paneled, and had an embossed and emblazoned ceiling from which
silver lamps of old Italian work hung by silver chains. The blinds
were drawn down, and the hues of the tapestry, of the ivories which
stood here and there on the carved brackets, of the paintings on the
walls, and of the embroideries on the satin furniture, made a rich
chiaro-oscuro of color. Large baskets and vases full of roses and
lilies rendered the air heavy with their intoxicating odor.

Frederick sat down on a low couch to await the mistress of the house.
His brows were knit and he murmured to himself abstractedly.

“Do they know it already? Hardly yet, I should think. Well, I must make
_bonne contenance_ if I wish to win the game. By Heaven! it's worth the
candle.”

He had been brooding in this fashion for some ten minutes, when
the door opened, and Lady Kingsbury, wrapped in a loose gown of
olive-colored cashmere, with a profusion of old lace at her breast,
and open sleeves, entered the room. She was very pale, and her still
beautiful eyes showed traces of weeping.

She advanced toward Frederick with outstretched hands, saying in a
broken, unsteady voice:

“Pardon me for keeping you waiting, my dear count. But this terrible
misfortune has upset me so much that I am quite ill and ought not to
have left my room.”

“Good Heaven! my dear Lady Kingsbury, what has happened?” exclaimed
Frederick, with an air of the most profound surprise.

“Oh! it is too, too awful! My poor, poor Alice! Colonel Clery has been
found dead in his room this morning!”

“Dead! dead! Colonel Clery! Great God! Why, I left him in perfect
health a few hours ago! What could have caused his death?”

“Heart disease, I presume; though nobody who saw him would ever have
believed him to be subject thereto. When his servant entered his rooms
this morning he found him lying on the lounge, still wearing his
evening dress. Surprised at such a proceeding on the part of a man who
was as regular and methodical in his habits as was his master, the
valet approached the sofa and attempted to rouse him. But he was dead!
and the doctor, who was immediately called in, declared that he must
have been so for some hours,” concluded Lady Kingsbury, bursting into
fresh tears.

“This is really terrible,” said Frederick, with a display of
considerable emotion. “I cannot tell you how shocked I am! One could
not help being fond of Colonel Clery. He was a man in a thousand, and
though our acquaintance was so short I feel his loss as that of an old
and dear friend. Will you think me indiscreet if I ask how Lady Alice
bears this crushing blow?”

“Don't talk about it,” sobbed the marchioness, “I almost fear that she
will go out of her mind. Her otherwise cold and indifferent nature was
centered in Charlie, whom she had loved for several years. Her father
at first objected to the match, having looked higher for his eldest
daughter. But he had to give way before the unwavering constancy of
the two young people. I don't know what is to become of Alice now. It
breaks my very heart to see her silent despair!”

“I will not keep you away from her any longer. She needs your loving
care and sympathy,” said Frederick, rising. “I trust that you will
forgive my intrusion on your sorrow, and that you will tell me frankly
if I can be of any use to you. Dispose of me entirely. You have been
so kind to me that I should deem it a great favor to be able to be of
service to you.”

“Thank you so much, my dear M. de Vaugelade. It is very kind of you to
say so. Don't think that I am sending you away. I hope you will come
soon again, but I really am afraid that I cannot bear much more this
morning.”

Kissing her hand, Frederick bowed himself out and was slowly descending
the wide staircase when he heard himself called by name.

Turning himself quickly round he saw Lady Alice standing at the head
of the stairs and beckoning to him. Was this the bright and happy girl
whom he had left but a few hours ago? Her head leaned backward against
the high, carved panel of the wall, her face was deadly pale and cold,
and had the immutability of a mask of stone. Other women might moan
aloud in their misery and curse their fate, but she was one of those
who choke down their hearts in silence and conceal their death-wounds.

A few steps brought Frederick to her side. He did not dare to salute
her, for it seemed to him as if her whole being shrank within her as
she saw him there. Without looking at him, she spoke in a voice quite
firm though it was faint from feebleness.

“I have but little to say to you. I want only to ask you, how and where
you parted last night with—with—him?”

She almost lost her self-control. Her lips trembled and she pressed her
hand on her breast.

Frederick staggered slightly, as if under some sword-stroke from an
unseen hand. A great faintness came upon him. For a moment he was
speechless and mute. She looked up at him steadily once. Then she spoke
again in that cold, forced, measured voice which seemed to his ear as
hard and pitiless as the strokes of an iron hammer.

“I ask you how you parted with him?”

With a mighty effort he broke the spell which held him mute, and
murmured, with a suffocated sound in his voice, as though some hand
were clutching at his throat:

“I left him well and happy. Why do you ask me? I know nothing more.”

“Are you so sure of that?” she asked, fixing her cold eyes upon him.

“Lady Alice! what do you mean?” exclaimed Frederick, who, seeing the
danger, was regaining his entire self-possession.

“Nothing,” she answered wearily. “Go. It is best so. I must have
time—time to think.”

She passed her hand over her forehead twice, as if in pain, and he,
bowing low, walked down stairs blindly, not knowing whither he went.
Mechanically he reached the entrance, passed the threshold, and went
out into the bright spring sunlight.



CHAPTER XXI.

PLANS FOR THE FUTURE.


The morning papers on the following day contained the announcement of
Colonel Charles Clery's sudden death, and after devoting some space to
a brief outline of his career, concluded with the following sentences:

“The late colonel dined the night before his death at the house of the
Marquis of Kingsbury, in Park lane. He appeared to be in excellent
health and spirits, and left some time after midnight with the Comte
de Vaugelade, in whose company he walked up Piccadilly. The count is
reported to be the last person who saw him alive.

A couple of days later, and before Frederick had had an opportunity of
calling again at Park lane, a well-known society paper, renowned for
the venom of its attacks and for the correctness of its information,
published the following paragraph:

“Who is the Comte de Vaugelade, the foreign nobleman, in whose company
the late Colonel Clery was last seen alive? We are informed, both at
the Belgian Legation and at the French Embassy, that the name and the
title are extinct.”

These words caught Frederick's eye as he was glancing over the papers
after his early breakfast in the privacy of his own room three days
after Colonel Clery's death. He immediately realized that this,
together with Lady Alice's mysterious words, was making London too hot
for him. It was a great disappointment to have to leave England just as
he believed that he was on the point of obtaining his heart's fondest
wish—namely, a wife belonging to a wealthy and noble family, who
would place her husband for once and all in the sphere to which he was
born. He could then have left his career of adventurer far behind him,
and lived the untrammeled life of a gentleman of means and leisure,
respected and honored by all.

Men, according to the old Greeks, were the toys of the gods, who, from
their high estate in Olympus, put evil and foul instincts and desires
into their mortal hearts, and then, when the evil actions became the
outlet of evil thoughts, amused themselves by watching the fruitless
efforts made by their victims to escape a cruel and merciless goddess,
called Nemesis, who stood there ready to punish them. The gods may have
enjoyed it, but how about the poor mortals? In these days of skepticism
and unbelief we have dropped this deity, but only to replace her by
another, whom we have christened Fate, and whom we use as a scapegoat
upon which to lay the blame of our own shortcomings. The true religion
of Fate, however, is that our lives are the outcome of our actions.
Every action, good or bad, has its corresponding reward—as Frederick
found to his cost.

He resolved to leave London without delay; but, fearing that if he
traveled via Dover or Folkestone, he might meet a number of his English
acquaintances, and thereby attract attention—a thing he particularly
wished to avoid—he determined to take the train for Southampton that
very afternoon, and thence to proceed to St. Malo, on the coast of
Brittany.

Before his departure, he wrote a long letter to Lady Kingsbury,
informing her that to his great sorrow he had been called away by his
only sister's dangerous illness, and that, having no time to come and
make his adieus in person, he begged her ladyship to remember him
most gratefully to the marquis, and to her son and daughters, whose
kindness, as well as her own, he could never forget. He added that
he hoped soon to be able to return to London, since it was his most
cherished wish to meet them all again.

That same evening he embarked on board one of those small steamboats
which make the passage between Southampton and St. Malo, and as he lay
tossing on the narrow couch of the deck cabin, many a bitter thought
filled his troubled mind. He got but little sleep, and when the vessel
steamed into the harbor of St. Malo he was standing on deck, looking
moodily into the deep, transparent waters, where the jelly-fish were
floating many fathoms beneath the surface of the bay, and where a
school of porpoises were sporting in the foaming track left by the ship.

St. Malo is one of the most picturesque places in France, and one of
the most ancient. It is fortified, and its gray, moss-grown walls and
battlements, when seen from the entrance of the harbor, carry one back
to old feudal times.

Frederick, having passed his trunks through the custom-house, made his
way to the best hotel in the place—a grim-looking stone building, with
mullioned windows, rusty iron balconies, and peaked roof, which looked
more like one of Dore's pictures than any modern hostelry. Entering
the office of the hotel, he asked for a sitting-room and bedroom, and
was soon ushered into the very suite of apartments in which the poet
Chateaubriand had been born. The ponderous oak furniture of the rooms,
coupled with the dark paneling of the walls, rendered them a rather
gloomy place of abode.

He walked listlessly to the window, and amused himself in watching
the crowd of peasants, who, as it was market-day, were assembling
upon the esplanade in front of the hotel. The poorer classes have
kept here in all its integrity the costume which was worn before the
French revolution of 1793 by the peasants in Brittany and the Vendee.
The men with their red coats, baggy white breeches, tied with ribbons
at the knee over their crimson stockings, low silver-buckled shoes,
and three-cornered hats; the women with their short dark woolen
petticoats, blue or pink aprons, lace fichus, and white caps, which
look like the wings of a gigantic butterfly, presented a scene not only
animated, but also exceedingly picturesque, which appealed strongly to
Frederick's artistic instincts. Taking his sketch-book with him, he
went down stairs again, with the intention of making a few sketches of
this queer little town and its quaint inhabitants.

He walked over to St. Servan, and, after spending some time in taking
a sketch of the walls and turrets of St. Malo, he hired a boat and
rowed over to the island of Grand Bey, where he intended to visit
Chateaubriand's monument. When he returned to the Hotel de France, he
ordered his dinner to be brought up to his sitting-room; and long after
the piquant little chambermaid had removed the cloth, and noiselessly
left the great dark room, he sat wrapt deep in thought, brooding over
the past and planning out the future, which seemed very uncertain to
him at that moment.



CHAPTER XXII.

FREDERICK MEETS HIS FATHER.


A few days later, a cab drew up at the door of a hotel on the Puerto
del Sol at Madrid, and from it alighted Frederick von Waldberg, in his
latest _role_ as Count Linska de Castillon.

Finding, however, the Spanish capital intolerably hot and dismally
empty, he soon turned his steps northward again, and took up his
residence in the pretty seaport town of St. Sebastien, which is the
most fashionable bathing-place on the Peninsula. It was crowded at the
time with all the cream of Spanish society; and Frederick, with his
ordinary skill and _savoir faire_, soon became acquainted with all the
best people there, including a clique of gay young clubmen, who turned
the night into day, and gambled, danced, flirted, and drank, with
untiring energy.

Frederick's passion for cards soon revived in all its intensity in this
vortex of dissipation, and he seldom left the “Salon de Jeu” of the
Casino before the small hours of the morning. At first he won a great
deal, but soon his luck began to fail him, and at the end of three
weeks he discovered, to his disgust, that he had left on the green
baize of the card-table a sum of over 150,000 francs.

“This has got to stop,” muttered he, angrily, “or I shall soon be
running down hill at a rapid pace. The question is, how can I stop now
without arousing comment?”

At the beginning of his stay in St. Sebastien, he had been introduced
by a young Madrilene, who was staying at the same hotel, to a charming
family, composed of the father, an old Spanish grandee; the mother,
who had been a beauty, and their lovely daughter, Dolores. Don Garces
y Marcilla was evidently a wealthy man, and occupied a luxuriously
appointed villa on the sea-shore. Frederick soon began to be a constant
visitor at this house, and his attentions to the fair Dolores were so
marked that they became the talk of the beau-monde of St. Sebastien.
Dolores was a remarkably dashing and handsome girl, with fiery black
eyes and raven tresses. Her complexion was dark, and her lips were of
the vivid crimson of a pomegranate flower. She was evidently very much
in love with Frederick, and he had but little doubt that he would be
accepted if he chose to ask her to be his wife.

For him this marriage presented many advantages. To begin with, it
would open wide to him the doors of the Spanish aristocracy. The Garces
y Marcilla prided themselves on being able to trace their descent from
the kings of Aragon, and were high up on the social ladder. Then, there
was also the question of money. Frederick had found out that Dolores
would not only receive on her wedding-day a dowry of 200,000 francs—not
a big sum in itself, although in Spain it is considered quite large—but
that, Don Garces y Marcilla being a rich man, she would further inherit
a fortune at his death. Since he had lost all hopes of obtaining the
hand of Lady Margaret, a marriage with the daughter of Don Garces
seemed to him to be the most advantageous to his interests.

Still undecided, however, as to the course he should adopt, he one
morning directed his steps toward the Garces villa, with the object of
inviting the whole family to a dinner which he proposed giving, some
days later, for the purpose of returning in some measure the courtesy
and hospitality with which they had received him.

As it was near midday, all the servants were down below at luncheon,
and his approach was unnoticed. Walking along the veranda, he soon
came to the long French windows of the drawing-room, and, peeping in
between the half-closed blinds, he saw Dolores, who, stretched on an
oriental divan, was smoking a cigarette. There was but little light
in the corner of the room where she reclined, but he could plainly
distinguish the outline of her voluptuous form in its soft loose white
wrapper, and the gleam of the rings on her small hands. Her great black
eyes seemed positively to glow in the semi-darkness as she looked up at
the rings of blue smoke that floated through the air.

Frederick's heart began to beat faster. He vaguely felt that his hour
of fate had come.

They were as completely alone as if they had been in a desert. No one
of the household would have dared to approach that room without a
summons from her. A nightingale was singing in the Cape jasmine which
wreathed the veranda. Gently he pushed open the casement of the window,
and stepped into the room. She raised herself on her elbow, and,
flinging her half-finished cigarette into a silver tray on the table,
stretched out her hand to him, saying, in her low, melodious voice:

“This is a surprise. I am glad to see you.”

“Is it really so?” murmured he, bending over the small, cool hand,
which he retained in his own, prolonging the fleeting moments with
irresistible pleasure. Every gesture, glance, and breath of this girl
allured him; a swift and wicked temptation flashed through his brain.
He knew that she loved him, and that she was at his mercy. A shudder
passed over him, and before he knew what he was about he had wound his
arms around her and pressed his lips to hers. It was but a second, and
then he thrust her away from him. She gave him a look of such intense
surprise and pain, that, dropping on one knee before her, he murmured,
in a voice which still shook with suppressed passion:

“Dona Dolores, will you be my wife?”

Three weeks later, on the first of November, 1879, at the Church of
Santa Maria, the marriage of Dona Dolores Garces y Marcella with Count
Linska de Castillon was celebrated with great pomp.

[Illustration: FREDERICK MARRIED DOLORES.]

That same evening the young couple left for Madrid, where a handsome
suite of apartments had been prepared for them in a house on the Calle
del Barquillo.

The first weeks of the honey-moon were delightful. Through his wife's
relatives Frederick became acquainted with all the leaders of society
at Madrid. The life of the young couple was a whirl of perpetual
excitement and pleasure; they were invited everywhere and attended
court receptions, embassy balls, and official entertainments. Frederick
was very proud of Dolores, and she became every day more and more
infatuated with her handsome and gifted husband. Frederick, who had a
love for everything beautiful, and who was a born artist, had arranged
their apartment of the Calle del Barquillo with such exquisite taste
and elegance that it was the talk of the whole town. The luxury
displayed in every detail, from the magnificent Gobelin tapestries
which lined the walls down to the dinner services of priceless Sevres
and Japanese porcelain, the marvelous toilets which he insisted that
his wife should wear, and the splendid dinners and entertainments they
gave all cost a great deal of money, and at the end of the winter
season Frederick could once more foresee the moment when not only his
own fortune but also his wife's dowry would have vanished. He had been
made a member of several clubs, and with a view of reimbursing himself
for what his daily life cost, he began to risk large sums at the card
table.

Six months after his marriage he met with a rather serious accident.
His horses took fright while he was being driven home one morning from
witnessing the execution by the “garrote” of the regicide Francisco
Otero, and he was flung with such violence to the pavement that his
ankle was broken. His victoria having been shattered to pieces, he
was driven to his house by a young stranger who had witnessed the
catastrophe and had offered his assistance. An intimacy soon sprang up
between the two, and the affection which Frederick displayed toward
the stranger, whose name was Louis Berard, was one of the only really
disinterested ones in his life.

As soon as Frederick had recovered sufficiently to travel, he left
Madrid with his wife for a few weeks' sojourn at Biarritz, on the Bay
of Biscay. The weather was not yet hot enough to be disagreeable,
and the sea-breeze proved very beneficial to him. The pretty bathing
resort, far from being deserted at this season of the year, still
contained a considerable number of English, American, and Russian
families who had been wintering there, and the Casino was nearly as
animated and frequented as in the months of September and October,
which constitute the fashionable season of Biarritz.

One morning Frederick, who could now walk without any difficulty,
proposed to his wife that they should go for a stroll to the
Vieux-Port, and they set off in high spirits, taking a path along the
shore, which latter is lined here with lofty cliffs, in which large
and mysterious-looking caves have been excavated by the waves. It was
a lovely day, although the sun was not shining. Both sea and sky were
of that delicate pearly tint which reminds one of the inside of a
shell; the violets were thick in the hedges, and the yellow blossoms
of the butterwort were flung like so many gold pieces over the brown
furrows of the fields. Far below them the sea was full of life; market
boats and fishing boats, skiffs and canoes of all kinds, with striped
sails, were crossing each other on its surface. There were lovely white
wreaths of mist to the southward, airy and suggestive as the vail of
a bride, and the silver-shining wings of a score of white sea-gulls
dipped now and again in the hollows of the lazy wavelets. The air was
full of the intense perfume of the trees, which were starred all over
with their white and pink blossoms. In the distance the beautiful
coast of Spain stretched away into endless realms of sparkling, though
subdued, light, and the lofty range of the Pyrenees rose blue and
snow-crowned behind the fairy shore of this enchanted paradise.

Frederick and Dolores walked briskly along arm in arm. The path was
narrow and there was just room for two people to pass between the
precipice and the tall hawthorn hedges intermingled with bowlders of
fallen rocks, from between which here and again there rose great stone
pines, relics of those wild pine woods which, before the modern culture
had appeared on the scene with ax and spade, had doubtless covered the
whole of the table land.

Suddenly at a sharp curve of the path they came face to face with a
lady and gentleman who were approaching from the opposite direction.
The lady was young and rather good-looking; the gentleman was old, and
his hair and mustache were snow-white, but his erect bearing and still
firm step belied his age. He was a tall, aristocratic-looking man, with
piercing blue eyes, and gave one the impression of being an officer in
plain clothes. In the button-hole of his light gray frock-coat was the
rosette of the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor. Frederick pulled
Dolores on one side to make room for the strangers, but as he did so he
became pale to the very lips. Involuntarily he bared his head and made
a rapid movement toward the old gentleman. But he was met by so haughty
a gaze that he lowered his eyes and, forgetting the astonished Dolores,
he walked quickly on. He had recognized his father, General Count von
Waldberg, from whom he had parted under such painful circumstance
eleven years before.



CHAPTER XXIII.

REACHING THE CLIMAX.


From this time forth Frederick commenced to go, from a moral
standpoint, more and more down hill. On returning to Madrid he lived
fast and recklessly, neglecting Dolores and spending his nights in
gambling-hells, where he lost piles of money. On several occasions he
was forced to appeal to his father-in-law to pay his debts of honor.
The old gentleman came to his rescue without a murmur, his intense
love for his daughter preventing him from using harsh words toward
the husband whom she still continued to adore, notwithstanding the
ever-increasing neglect with which he treated her. It is true that
Dolores, having ceased going much into society, did not hear about
the numerous successes of her lord among the demi-monde, but his once
courteous and deferential behavior to her had now given place to
continual irritability, and to never-ending quarrels about money and
other domestic matters.

At last the climax came. Frederick, after a particularly unlucky week,
during which he had sustained heavier losses than ever, finding it
impossible to obtain the sum which he urgently required, actually went
so far as to forge his father-in-law's name for the amount of 25,000
francs. Don Garces y Marcilla, giving way to the entreaties of his
daughter, who threw herself at his feet, paid the amount and saved
Frederick from prison and disgrace; but he declared to Dolores that if
she did not leave her husband and return to the shelter of his house he
would disown her and never see her again. There was a terrible scene;
but Dolores was immovable, and refused to abandon the man she loved,
although she could no longer either respect or esteem him. Her father,
who was a violent man, drove her from the home of her childhood, and
warned her if she ever dared to cross his threshold again he would have
her turned away by his servants.

The situation had now become a truly desperate one. Frederick sold his
horses and carriages, his furniture, and valuable bric-a-brac—yes, even
his wife's jewels and costly dresses, and moved with her to a small
house in the outskirts of Madrid. Unknown to her, however, he hired a
suite of rooms in a fashionable street, and, going into partnership
with two disreputable adventurers, he started a private gambling hell.

Poor Dolores! her days of happiness were over. She was now always alone
in the dingy little house in the suburbs. Weeping and privations were
fast robbing her of her beauty, and Frederick, whenever he looked at
her, which was seldom, had the cruelty to taunt her with what he called
“her washed-out appearance!” He bitterly complained of having married a
woman who was of no earthly use to him.

“Had you but known how to play your cards,” he would often say to her,
“you might have avoided the quarrel with your infernal old idiot of a
father. He is soft enough, in all conscience, when one knows how to
handle him. But, no; you must needs go into heroics and get yourself
kicked out of the house for your pains. Upon my word, Dolores, you are
worse than a fool. Without you I would never have come down in the
world like this.”

The poor woman, terrified by the violence of her husband, who was
fast losing his former refinement and distinction, and was becoming
downright brutal, could only cry and sob, imploring her dear “Eric” to
take pity on her. But her tears only seemed to exasperate him more,
and as lately his gambling saloon, thanks to his partners, who were
nothing but vulgar sharpers, had got into bad repute with the _jeunesse
doree_, who cautiously avoided going there, he one fine morning gave
the slip to his army of creditors, and, abandoning Dolores without a
cent of money, started alone for Paris.

The unfortunate woman, when she discovered that she had been deserted,
nearly went out of her mind with grief and despair. But nothing could
destroy her love for Frederick, and she resolved to discover his
hiding-place and to entreat him to let her live with him, if only as
his servant.

Women are singularly illogical. The whole world may be against a man,
but the woman who loves him will stand boldly forward as his champion.
No matter how vile a man may be, if a woman loves him she exalts him
to the rank of a demi-god and refuses to see the clay feet of her
idol. When he is forsaken by all, she still clings to him. When all
others frown, she still smiles on him, and when he dies, she adores and
reverences his memory as that of a martyr of circumstances. God help
the man who in time of trouble has not a true and loving woman to stand
by his side and help him through life's bitter struggle!

However, Dolores, being penniless, had to leave her little house
and to seek refuge at the lodgings of her old nurse, who lived in a
narrow, dark street in the slums of Madrid. Old Carmen loved her, and,
although the good woman was poor herself (her husband having, before he
departed from this life, managed to drink up every penny), she took the
unfortunate Dolores in and tended her through a violent fit of illness,
brought on by sorrow and privation.

Dolores' home was now in a dark lane which glowed like a furnace
during the hot months of the Spanish summer. She tried to earn some
money by doing a little plain needlework, but often as she sat by
the open casement of the small window which looked out into a dirty,
ill-smelling alley, where ragged children played all day long in the
dried-up gutter, she would let her head fall on the greasy window-sill
and weep scalding tears of pain and regret. Far happier were the
victims whom Frederick had dispatched from this world than this
broken-hearted creature whose life he had shattered and ruined.

In the middle of 1883 Frederick arrived in Paris, and continued to live
there in the same reckless and dissipated fashion. He lost all the
little money he had brought with him from Spain, and sank lower and
lower, cheating at cards, swindling hotel and lodging-house keepers,
and gradually rolling to the very bottom of the social scale. More than
once he went to bed without a dinner, and in one word he now belonged
to the very lowest class of adventurers. Driven by the pangs of hunger
and misery, he even went so far as to blackmail several ladies of high
rank and position, but somehow or other always managed to escape the
vigilant eye of the French police.

One night, having made a few napoleons at baccarat, he bought seats at
the Folies-Bergeres, and after a scanty dinner at a cheap restaurant
he proceeded thither accompanied by the woman who was then living with
him, a gaudily dressed, red-haired, and brazen-faced creature, who was
well known on the outer boulevards.

During a pause in the performance the well-assorted couple repaired to
the foyer, where they began to pace up and down, arm in arm, among the
crowd of habitues, where here and there a stranger was noticeable who
had come to see the fun.

Suddenly Frederick and his companion found themselves face to face
with a lady and gentleman who were just about to leave the place.
As Frederick caught sight of the lady he unconsciously dropped his
companion's arm and bowed low. Lady Margaret, for it was she, looked at
him in haughty surprise, then turned to her husband as if to complain
of this piece of insolence.

“Well,” exclaimed the latter in English, and in a very audible tone of
voice, “I told you what you would expose yourself to if you came here.
You see, Pearl, that's what comes of always insisting on visiting the
most extraordinary places.”

That night, for the first time in his life, Frederick von Waldberg
got drunk; the words of the young Englishman had shown him, more than
anything else, to what depths he had sunk. Lady Margaret, the girl
whom he had once fancied loved him, had not even recognized, in the
degraded individual he had now become, the man who had aspired to her
hand. Crimsoning to the very roots of his hair, he left the red-haired
_cocotte_ standing in the middle of the floor, directed his steps
towards the _buvette_, and, ordering a _demi-setier_ (about half a
pint) of brandy to be served him, drained it at a gulp.

One evening, in the month of January, 1885, Frederick, who beyond
the clothes on his back now possessed nothing but a well-worn suit
of evening dress and a few shirts, happened to be strolling down the
Champs Elysees, when suddenly his attention was attracted by sounds of
a violent altercation. On approaching the spot whence they proceeded
he found a middle-aged man, manifestly a foreigner, who was undergoing
severe treatment at the hands of a couple of students from the Quartier
Latin. The stranger was accompanied by a tall and exceedingly handsome
blonde. The students, with the impudence peculiar to their class, had
ventured on some remarks of a tender and even indiscreet nature to the
lady, whose escort had been quick to resent the insult. The students,
however, were decidedly getting the best of the scuffle when Frederick
appeared on the scene. Not even the life of dissipation and debauchery
into which he had allowed himself to sink had been able to diminish
the power of his muscular arms. Dashing his fist into the face of
the taller of the two students, he sent him sprawling on the ground
at some distance, on seeing which the other prudently took to his
heels. Then bending down Frederick picked up the little man's hat and
returned it to him, at the same time expressing the hope that he had
escaped without any serious damage. The stranger was most profuse in
his expressions of gratitude, in which the lady cordially joined, and
insisted that Frederick should accompany them to take supper at the
Cafe “Americain.” Nothing loth, Frederick acquiesced, and it was almost
daylight before they finally separated.

Frederick found that his new acquaintance was an American, whose name
is equally well known in the highest social circles both of New York
and New Orleans, and whose mature age and sedate appearance does not
prevent him from burning the candle at both ends, in Europe as well
as in the States. The lady by whom he was accompanied was a Mme.
Varlay, who had deserted her husband some three months previous to
this date, and had adopted the “_nom de guerre_” of Eugenie Forestier.
During the course of the supper the fair Eugenie cast several admiring
glances at the man who had displayed such muscular power in effecting
their deliverance, and Frederick quickly perceived that he had made
an impression upon her. Before they parted a mutual interchange of
addresses took place, and arrangements were made for a theater party to
take place some days later.

On the following afternoon Frederick called on Mme. Forestier, who
soon became deeply infatuated with him. Indeed, from that time forth
Frederick may be said to have practically lived at her expense—or
rather at that of her American lover. When, however, in the month of
April the latter took his departure for the United States, the finances
of the lady underwent a disastrous change. The drafts received from
New York and Newport were few and far between, and in course of time
Eugenie found it necessary to dispose of her jewels, and even of her
fine laces and dresses, in order to keep the wolf from the door.

It was during this period of penury that Frederick spent much of his
time in dictating to Eugenie letters to her American friend, in which
terms of endearment and devotion were most artistically blended with
requests for money. Clever as were these compositions, they ended by
dispelling any feelings of affection which might have existed on the
part of her ex-lover, and in the month of October he sent her from New
Orleans a draft on a bank at Boulogne-sur-Mer for a couple of thousand
francs, announcing to her at the same time that it would be impossible
for him to make any further remittances. Within a few weeks the money
was spent, and in the month of January, 1886, almost every article of
any value possessed by Eugenie or by Frederick had found its way to the
_mont-de-piete_ (pawnshop).

Frederick's companion during most of this time was a Spaniard of the
name of Ybanez, his accomplice in many of his schemes for raising the
wind by all kinds of questionable means. One night about the 15th
or 16th of January, 1886, Ybanez came to Frederick and informed him
that an Italian friend of his had a certain number of jewels in his
possession which he (Ybanez) believed to be the proceeds of a robbery,
and which his friend the Italian was anxious to get rid of on the sly.
Ybanez added that as he himself had been afraid to take any action
in the matter, and that as his friend had fully realized the danger
of disposing of the jewels at Paris, he had advised him to sell them
either at Marseilles, Bordeaux, or some other large provincial town at
a distance from the metropolis.

“Well, where has he finally decided to take them to?” inquired
Frederick, quickly.

“To Marseilles,” replied Ybanez.

“When is he going to start?”

“By the _rapide_ (limited express) of to-night.”

The two men looked sharply at one another for a few seconds. They had
understood each other.

Negligently and without apparent intention Ybanez continued to speak
of his Italian friend, and casually gave Frederick a full and minute
description of his personal appearance.



CHAPTER XXIV.

HIS SINS FOUND HIM OUT.


That same evening at the Gare de Lyons, a minute before the train
started out of the station, a man dressed in a gray overcoat and
wearing a soft felt traveling hat was hustled by the conductor into
a coupe which until then had been tenanted by one solitary traveler.
A shade of annoyance passed over the face of the latter as the door
opened. It was evident that he had hoped to remain in undisturbed
possession of the compartment. But he soon regained his equanimity.
For from the fussy manner in which the intruder collected and arranged
in the netting his impediments, among which was a lunch-basket, he
surmised that he had to deal with a _petit bourgeois_, probably a small
shop-keeper, who was totally unaccustomed to travel any farther than
Bougival or Asnieres.

A conversation quickly sprang up between the two, and the man in gray
displayed the greatest interest and unfeigned astonishment at the
recital of his companion's adventures in foreign lands, and especially
in Egypt and the Soudan. In response to a further inquiry, the latter
explained that his knowledge of those countries was due to the fact of
his having held a high position on the staff of General Lord Wolseley
during the Nile expedition of 1884 for the rescue of Gordon.

In return for these confidences the man in gray stated that he was a
wholesale grocer in the Faubourg Montmartre, and that he was on his
way to visit a married sister who was established at Avignon. He added
confidentially that he had never in his life been farther away from
Paris than Fontainebleau.

Shortly after they passed Melun the alleged grocer opened his
lunch-basket and began to feast on some cold chicken, wine, and a
box of sardines, which probably came from his shop in the Faubourg
Montmartre. Suddenly he appeared to remember the fact that his
fellow-traveler might possibly be hungry, too, and rather shyly asked
if monsieur would do him the honor of joining him in his repast. This
invitation was readily accepted, and a bottle of excellent Burgundy
followed by a dram of old cognac, put the two men in such good humor
that they began to grow more and more confidential.

The man in gray imparted to his companion all kinds of little tricks
in the grocery trade, such as mingling sand with brown sugar,
oleomargarine with fresh table butter, and he even acknowledged, to the
great amusement of the other, that he had a Japanese in his employ to
carefully open the boxes of prime tea received from China and Japan,
who after having mixed the contents with some tea of very inferior
quality, recanted them in such an adept manner that it was impossible
for the retail grocers to detect the fact that they had ever been
opened or their contents adulterated.

On the other hand Lord Wolseley's alleged staff officer horrified his
grocer friend by a detailed description of the Soudanese method of
killing their enemies, namely, by a swift, sweeping stroke across the
throat with an exceedingly sharp knife, and which is invariably yielded
from behind, so that the slayer escapes being deluged by the blood of
his victim.

“When one has the knack,” added he, with a significant sweep of his
hand, “one can almost sever the head with such a stroke.”

Meanwhile both of the men had been smoking some exceedingly fine
Manilla cheroots, which it is well known are slightly washed with
opium, and which the grocer had offered to his new acquaintance. By and
by they both dropped off into a deep sleep, the slumbers of the alleged
staff officer being far more heavy than those of his companion, as it
was easy to perceive by his stertorous breathing. Indeed, it almost
sounded as if he was under the influence of some particularly strong
narcotic.

Suddenly the grocer stealthily opened his eyes, and, having assured
himself that his fellow-traveler was asleep, proceeded to examine the
contents not only of his pockets but also of his valise. An exclamation
of satisfaction burst from his lips as he found the objects of his
search, which, as he held them up to the dim light of the lamp, it was
easy to perceive consisted of valuable jewelry.

As he raised his face toward the lamp for the purpose of examining his
booty his false beard fell off and revealed the features of Frederick
von Waldberg.

The sleeping man who had been drugged both by means of the brandy and
of the cigar which had been offered to him was Pranzini, who over a
year later was guillotined for the murder of a demi-mondaine named
Marie Regnault, who, together with her maid and the latter's child,
were found in her apartment of the Rue Montaigne, slain in identically
the same fashion in which Marie Aguetant had been killed two days
previous to Pranzini's and Frederick's departure together from Paris.
All four victims had been murdered with the same sweeping backward
stroke of the knife so graphically described by Pranzini to the alleged
grocer.

When the train steamed into Dijon, Frederick gathered up all his
belongings and got out.

Pranzini did not awake till after leaving Avignon, and only discovered
after his arrival in Marseilles that he had been robbed. Of course,
under the circumstances, he was unable to apply to the police for
assistance, for these jewels were those stolen from Marie Aguetant,
whom he, Pranzini, had killed, but for whose murder “Prado” suffered
death.

Frederick, after leaving Dijon, made his way across country to
Bordeaux, and from thence to Madrid, where he pawned the jewels, with
the help of a woman of the name of Ximenes.

It was mainly on the evidence adduced by this very woman, to the effect
that the jewels in question had been pawned by Linska de Castillon,
alias “Prado” (the name which he gave on his arrest), that he was
condemned for the murder of Marie Aguetant, which he had not committed,
but of which Pranzini alone was guilty.

Pranzini always bore a grudge against _l'homme en gris_ (the man in the
gray coat), whose name he did not know, but whom he accused of having
been his accomplice in the triple murder of the Rue Montaigne.

Frederick, on the other hand, when the trial of Pranzini took place,
recognized in the features of the prisoner those of his traveling
companion from whom he had stolen the jewels subsequently identified as
those of Marie Aguetant.

For obvious reasons he remained silent at the time.

But why did he not speak when, later on, his own life was at stake? The
only explanation of this mysterious silence is to be found in the last
lines of the confession which he intrusted to Louis Berard. They are,
word for word, as follows:

     “I know that I yet could save myself. Why should I not say the
     truth, that Pranzini, the assassin of Marie Regnault, was also
     the slayer of Marie Aguetant, of whose murder I am unjustly
     accused! My reason for remaining silent and for refusing to sign
     my _recours en grace_ (appeal for mercy) is that I am heartily
     sick of life. I am bound, in any case, to be condemned to penal
     servitude for robbery; a second time I would not escape from
     Noumea. My life is destroyed; all my ambitions are dead—I have
     nothing more to live for in this world. I am happy to leave it.
     The guillotine, toward which I am going, is a just retribution for
     other crimes. My sins have found me out.

         “(Signed)

           COUNT FREDERICK VON WALDBERG.”

Such is the extraordinary history of the man who was guillotined on
the 4th of December, 1888, under the alias of “Prado,” and who, having
escaped punishment for the innumerable atrocities he had committed,
finally suffered death for a crime of which he was innocent.

  LOUIS BERARD.


[THE END.]



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favorably with the most meritorious works of fiction. The language
is graceful and forcible; the style is earnest and captivating; the
incidents are novel and dramatic—a series of animated pictures, so very
life-like that the reader becomes impressed with their reality; the
characters are capitally drawn, and speak and act like sentient beings;
while the plot is fresh and ingenious, and evolved with the tact of a
master-hand.

PRICE, TWENTY-FIVE CENTS.

Issued in clean, large type, with handsome lithographed cover, and for
sale by all Booksellers and Newsdealers; or sent, _postage free_, to
any address, on receipt of price, by the publishers,

STREET & SMITH,

  P. O. Box 2734.      31 Rose St., New York.



STREET & SMITH'S SELECT SERIES

OF

POPULAR AMERICAN COPYRIGHT STORIES,

BY POPULAR AUTHORS.

In Handsome Paper Covers, 25 Cents.

NO. 4

TWO INTENSELY INTERESTING STORIES.

BONNY JEAN;

OR,

THE CHEST OF GOLD.

By Mrs. E. BURKE COLLINS,

Author of “Sir Philip's Wife,” “Married for Gold,” etc.

A love story of absorbing interest, artistic in construction, and
founded on an entrancing plot.


A SEVERE THREAT.

By Mrs. E. BURKE COLLINS,

Author of “Bonny Jean,” “Sir Philip's Wife,” etc.

A story exciting in action, brisk in movement, with several highly
wrought dramatic scenes.

PRICE, TWENTY-FIVE CENTS.

For sale by all Booksellers and News Agents, or will be sent, _postage
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price, by the publishers,

STREET & SMITH,

  P. O. Box 2734.      31 Rose St., New York.



STREET & SMITH'S SELECT SERIES

OF

POPULAR AMERICAN COPYRIGHT STORIES,

BY POPULAR AUTHORS.

NO. 5.

BRUNETTE AND BLONDE;

OR,

THE STRUGGLE FOR A BIRTHRIGHT.

By Mrs. ALEX. McVEIGH MILLER,

Author of “The Senator's Bride,” “A Dreadful Temptation,” “The Bride of
the Tomb,” etc.

This is a natural and admirably told story, graceful in diction, with
well-drawn characters, and the author's graphic power is evidenced in
many dramatic scenes of exciting interest.


NO. 6.

A STORMY WEDDING.

By Mrs. MARY E. BRYAN,

Author of “Manch,” “Ruth the Outcast,” “Bonny and Blue,” etc.

A spirited and earnestly written story, with a fresh and ingenious
plot, which is so artistically developed that the interest never lags.

Both of these books are uniform in size with the others of the series
of AMERICAN COPYRIGHT STORIES, with handsome lithographed covers.

Price, Twenty-five Cents Each.

They are for sale by every Bookseller and News Agent, or will be sent
to any address in the United States or Canada on receipt of price.

STREET & SMITH,

  P. O. Box 2734.      31 Rose St., New York.



[Illustration: The Secret Service Series.]


THE SECRET SERVICE SERIES.

This Series comprises the best Detective Stories, by the most popular
authors, ever published. It is issued monthly, and the books are fully
illustrated. The following are the latest issues:

     No. 18—A WALL STREET HAUL, by Nick Carter.

     No. 17—THE OLD DETECTIVE'S PUPIL, by Nick Carter.

     No. 16—THE MOUNTAINEER DETECTIVE, by Clayton W. Cobb.

     No. 15—TOM AND JERRY, by Tony Pastor.

     No. 14—THE DETECTIVE'S CLEW, by “Old Hutch.”

     No. 13—DARKE DARRELL, by Frank H. Stauffer.

     No. 12—THE DOG DETECTIVE, by Lieutenant Murray.

     No. 11—THE MALTESE CROSS, by Eugene T. Sawyer.

     No. 10—THE POST-OFFICE DETECTIVE, by Geo. W. Goode.

     No. 9—OLD MORTALITY, by Young Baxter.

     No. 8—LITTLE LIGHTNING, by Police Captain James.

     No. 7—THE CHOSEN MAN, by “Old Sleuth.”



THE CELEBRATED

SOHMER

GRAND, SQUARE AND UPRIGHT

[Illustration]

PIANOS


Are at present the most popular,

AND PREFERRED BY THE LEADING ARTISTS.


The SOHMER Pianos are used in the following Institutions:

     Convent of the Sacred Heart, Manhattanville, N. Y.

     Vogt's Conservatory of Music.

     Arnold's Conservatory of Music, Brooklyn.

     Philadelphia Conservatory of Music.

     Villa de Sales Convent, Long Island.

     N. Y. Normal Conservatory of Music.

     Villa Maria Convent, Montreal.

     Vassar College, Poughkeepsie.

     And most all the leading first-class theaters in NEW YORK and
     BROOKLYN.


The Wonderful Bijou Grand

(lately patented) by =SOHMER= & CO., the =Smallest Grand= ever
manufactured (length only 5 feet) has created a sensation among
musicians and artists. The music loving public will find it in their
interest to call at the warerooms of =SOHMER= & CO., and examine the
various styles of Grands, Uprights, and Square Pianos. The original and
beautiful designs and improvements in Grands and Upright Pianos deserve
special attention.


_Received First Prize Centennial Exposition, Philadelphia, 1876._

_Received First Prize at Exhibition, Montreal, Canada, 1881 and 1882._

SOHMER & CO.,

MANUFACTURERS OF GRAND, SQUARE AND UPRIGHT PIANOFORTES,

Warerooms, 149, 151, 153, 155 East 14th St., N. Y.



  ┌───────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┐
  │ Transcriber's Note:                                               │
  │                                                                   │
  │ Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note.      │
  │                                                                   │
  │ Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant  │
  │ form was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.     │
  │                                                                   │
  │ Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.             │
  │                                                                   │
  │ Mid-paragraph illustrations have been moved between paragraphs    │
  │ and some illustrations have been moved closer to the text that    │
  │ references them.                                                  │
  │                                                                   │
  │ Italicized words are surrounded by underline characters,  _like   │
  │ this_. Words in bold characters are surrounded by equal signs,    │
  │ =like this=.                                                      │
  │                                                                   │
  │ Other corrections:                                                │
  │                                                                   │
  │ p. 36: Cercies changed to Cercles (Cercles de jeu).               │
  │                                                                   │
  │ p. 73: Barona changed to Baroda (to visit him at Baroda).         │
  │                                                                   │
  │ p. 197: Arignon changed to Avignon (after leaving Avignon).       │
  │                                                                   │
  │ French words with diacritics appear without. This was not         │
  │ corrected.                                                        │
  └───────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┘





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