Harry Anguish was a discreet, forbearing fellow. He did not demand a full
explanation of his friend. There was enough natural wit in his merry head
to see that in connection with their departure there was something that
would not admit of discussion, even by confidential friends. He shrewdly
formed his own conclusions and held his peace. Nor did he betray surprise
when Lorry informed him, in answer to a question, that he intended to
remain in Edelweiss for some time, adding that he could not expect him to
do likewise if he preferred to return to Paris. But Mr. Anguish preferred
to remain in Edelweiss. Had not the Countess Dagmar told him she would
always be happy to see him at the castle, and had he any reason to
renounce its walls? And so it was that they tarried together.
Lorry loitered aimlessly, moodily about the town, spending gloomy days and
wretched nights. He reasoned that it were wisdom to fly, but a force
stronger than reason held him in Edelweiss. He ventured several times to
the castle wall, but turned back resolutely. There was hope in his breast
that she might send for him; there was, at least, the possibility of
seeing her should she ride through the streets. Anguish, on the other
hand, visited the castle daily. He spent hours with the pretty Countess,
undismayed by the noble moths that fluttered about her flame, and he was
ever persistent, light-hearted and gay. He brought to Lorry's ears all
that he could learn of the Princess. Several times he had seen her and had
spoken with her. She inquired casually after the health of his friend, but
nothing more. From the Countess he ascertained that Her Highness was
sleeping soundly, eating heartily and apparently enjoying the best of
spirits—information decidedly irritating to the one who received it
They had been at the hotel for over a week when one afternoon Anguish
rushed into the room, out of breath and scarcely able to control his
“What's up?” cried Lorry. “Has the Countess sacked you?”
“Not on your coin! But something is up, and I am its discoverer. You
remember what you said about suspecting Prince Gabriel of being the chief
rascal in the abduction job? Well, my boy, I am now willing to stake my
life that he is the man.” The news-bearer sat down on the edge of the bed
and drew the first long breath he had had in a long time.
“Why do you think so?” demanded the other, all interest.
“Heard him talking just now. I didn't know who the fellow was at first,
but he was talking to some strange-looking soldiers as I passed. As soon
as I heard his voice I knew he was Michael. There isn't any question about
it, Lorry. I am positive. He did not observe me, but I suppose by this
time he has learned that his little job was frustrated by two Americans
who heard the plot near the castle gates. He has nerve to come here,
“If he is guilty, yes. Still, he may feel secure because he is a powerful
prince and able to resent any accusation with a show of force. Where is he
“I left him there. Come on! We'll go down and you can see for yourself.”
They hurried to the corridor, which was swarming with men in strange
uniforms. There were a few Graustark officers, but the majority of the
buzzing conversationalists were dressed in a rich gray uniform.
“Who are these strangers?” asked Lorry.
“Oh, I forgot to tell you. Prince Lorenz is also here, and these gray
fellows are a part of his retinue. Lorenz has gone on to the castle.
What's the matter?” Lorry had turned pale and was reaching for the wall
with unsteady hand.
“He has come for his answer,” he said, slowly, painfully.
“That's right! I hadn't thought of that. I hope she turns him down. But
there's Gabriel over yonder. See those three fellows in blue? The middle
one is the prince.”
Near the door leading to the piazza stood several men, gray and blue. The
man designated as Gabriel was in the center, talking gaily and somewhat
loudly, puffing at a cigarette between sentences. He was not tall, but he
was strongly and compactly built. His hair and cropped beard were as black
as coal, his eyes wide, black and lined, It was a pleasure-worn face, and
Lorry shuddered as he thought of the Princess in the power of this
evil-looking wretch. They leisurely made their way to a spot near the
talkers. There was no mistaking the voice. Prince Gabriel and Michael were
one and the same, beyond all doubt. But how to prove it to the
satisfaction of others?
Skepticism would follow any attempt to proclaim the prince guilty because
his voice sounded like that of the chief conspirator. In a matter where
whole nations were concerned the gravest importance would be attached to
the accusation of a ruler. Satisfying themselves as to the identity of
that peculiar voice, the friends passed through to the piazza.
“What's to be done?” asked Anguish, boiling over with excitement.
“We must go to Baron Dangloss, tell him of our positive discovery, and
then consult Count Halfont.”
“And Her Royal Highness, of course.”
“Yes, I suppose so,” said Lorry, flicking the ashes from his cigar with a
finger that was now steady. He was serving the Princess again.
They hurried to the Tower, and were soon in the presence of the fierce
little chief of police. Lorry had spent many hours with Dangloss of late,
and they had become friends. His grim old face blanched perceptibly as he
heard the assertions of the young men. He shook his head despairingly.
“It may be as you say, gentlemen, but I am afraid we can do nothing. To
charge a prince with such a crime and on such evidence would be madness. I
am of your belief, however. Prince Gabriel is the man I have suspected.
Now I am convinced. Before we can do anything in such a grave matter it
will be necessary to consult the Princess and her ministers. In case we
conclude to accuse the Prince of Dawsbergen, it must be after careful and
judicious thought. There are many things to consider, gentlemen. For my
part, I would be overjoyed to seize the villain and to serve him as we did
his tools, but my hands are tied, you see. I would suggest that you go at
once to the Princess and Count Halfont, tell them of your suspicions—”
“Not suspicions, my lord,—facts,” interrupted Anguish.
“Well, then, facts, and ascertain how they feel about taking up a
proposition that may mean war. May I ask you to come at once to me with
their answer. It is possible that they will call for a consultation with
the ministers, nobles and high officers. Still, I fear they will be
unwilling to risk much on the rather flimsy proof you can give. Gabriel is
powerful and we do not seek a war with him. There is another foe for whom
we are quietly whetting our swords.” The significant remark caused both
listeners to prick up their ears. But he disappointed, their curiosity,
and they were left to speculate as to whom the other foe might be. Did he
mean that Graustark was secretly, slyly making ready to resist, treaty or
It required prolonged urging on the part of Anguish to persuade Lorry to
accompany him to the castle, but, when once determined to go before the
Princess with their tale, he was eager, impatient to cross the distance
that lay between the hotel and the forbidden grounds. They walked rapidly
down Castle Avenue and were soon at the gates. The guard knew them, and
they were admitted without a word. As they hurried through the park they
saw many strange men in gray, gaudy uniforms, and it occurred to Lorry
that their visit, no matter how great its importance, was ill-timed.
Prince Lorenz was holding the center of the stage.
Anguish, with his customary impulsiveness, overruled Lorry's objections,
and they proceeded toward the entrance. The guards of the Princess saluted
profoundly, while the minions of Lorenz stared with ill-bred wonder upon
these two tall men from another world. It could be seen that the castle
was astir with excitement, subdued and pregnant with thriving hopes and
fears. The nobility of Graustark was there; the visitors of Axphain were
At the castle doors the two met their first obstacle, but they had
anticipated its presence Two guards halted them peremptorily.
“We must see Her Royal Highness,” said Anguish, but the men could not
understand him. They stoically stood their ground, shaking their heads.
“Let us find some one who can understand us,” advised Lorry, and in a few
moments they presented themselves before the guards, accompanied by a
young nobleman with whom they had acquaintance. He succeeded in advancing
them to the reception hall inside the doors and found for them a servant
who would carry a message to the Princess if it were possible to gain her
presence. The nobleman doubted very much, however, if the missive hastily
written by Lorry could find its way to her, as she had never been so
occupied as now.
Lorry, in his brief note, prayed for a short audience for himself and Mr.
Anguish, requesting that Count Halfont be present. He informed her that
his mission was of the most imperative nature and that it related to a
discovery made concerning the Prince who had tried to abduct her. In
conclusion, he wrote that Baron Dangloss had required him to lay certain
facts before her and that he had come with no intention to annoy her.
While they sat in the waiting room they saw, through the glass doors,
dozens of richly attired men and women in the hall beyond. They were
conversing animatedly, Graustark men and women with dejected faces,
Axphainians with exultation glowing in every glance. Lorry's heart sank
within him. It seemed hours before the servant returned to bid them follow
him. Then his blood leaped madly through veins that had been chilled and
lifeless. He was to see Her again!
Their guide conducted them to a small anteroom, where he left them. A few
moments later the door opened and there swept quickly into the room—the
Countess Dagmar, not the Princess. Her face was drawn with the trouble and
sorrow she was trying so hard to conceal. Both men were on their feet in
an instant, advancing to meet her.
“The Princess? Is she ill?” demanded Lorry.
“Not ill, but mad, I fear,” answered she, giving a hand to each. “Mr.
Lorry, she bids me say to you that she cannot see you. She appreciates the
importance of your mission and thanks you for the interest you have taken.
“Also, she authorizes me to assure you that nothing can be done at present
regarding the business on which you come.”
“She refuses to see us,” said he, slowly, his face whiter than ever.
“Nay; she begs that you will excuses her. Her Highness is sorely worn and
distressed today, and I fear cannot endure all that is happening. She is
apparently calm and composed, but I, who know her so well, can see the
“Surely she must see the urgency of quick action in this matter of ours,”
cried Anguish half angrily. “We are not dogs to be kicked out of the
castle. We have a right to be treated fairly—”
“We cannot censure the Princess, Harry,” said Lorry, calmly. “We have come
because we would befriend her, and she sees fit to reject our good
offices. There is but one thing left for us to do—depart as we
“But I don't like it a little bit,” growled the other.
“If you only knew, Mr. Anguish, you would not be so harsh and unjust,”
remonstrated the lady, warmly. Turning to Lorry she said: “She asked me to
hand you this and to bid you retain it as a token of her undying esteem.”
She handed him a small, exquisite miniature of the Princess, framed in
gold inlaid with rubies. He took it dumbly in his fingers, but dared not
look at the portrait it contained. With what might have seemed disrespect
he dropped the treasure into his coat pocket.
“Tell her I shall always retain it as a token' of her—esteem,” he
said. “And now may I ask whether she handed my note to her uncle, the
The Countess blushed in a most unaccountable manner.
“Not while I was with her,” she said, recovering the presence of mind she
apparently had lost.
“She destroyed it, I presume,” said he, laughing harshly.
“I saw her place it in her bosom, sir, and with the right hand,” cried the
Countess, as if betraying a state secret.
“In her—you are telling me the truth?” cried he, his face lighting
“Now, see here, Lorry, don't begin to question the Countess's word. I
won't stand for that,” interposed Anguish, good-humoredly.
“I should be more than base to say falsely that she had done anything so
absurd,” said the Countess, indignantly.
“Where is she now?” asked Lorry.
“In her boudoir. The Prince Lorenz is with her—alone.”
“What!” he cried, jealousy darting into his existence. He had never known
“They are betrothed,” said she, with an effort. There was a dead silence,
broken by Lorry's deep groan as he turned and walked blindly to the
opposite side of the room. He stopped in front of a huge painting and
stared at it, but did not see a line or a tint.
“You don't mean to say she has accepted?” half whispered Anguish.
“Thank God, you are only a Countess,” he said, tenderly.
“Why—why—what difference can it make! I mean, why do you say
that?” she stammered, crimson to her hair.
“Because you won't have to sell yourself at a sacrifice,” he said,
foolishly. Lorry came back to them at this juncture, outwardly calm and
“Tell us about it, pray. We had guessed as much.”
“Out there are his people,—the wretches!” she cried, vindictively,
her pretty face in a helpless frown. “To-day was the day, you know, on
which he was to have his answer. He came and knelt in the audience
chamber. All Graustark had implored her to refuse the hated offer, but she
bade him rise, and there, before us all; promised to become his bride.
“The greatest sorrow Graustark has ever known grows out of that decision.
She is determined to save for us what her father's folly lost. To do this
she becomes the bride of a vile wretch, a man who soils her pure nature
when he thinks of her. Oh, we sought to dissuade her,—we begged, we
entreated, but without avail. She will not sacrifice one foot of Graustark
to save herself. See the triumphant smiles on their faces—the
brutes!” She pointed maliciously to the chattering visitors in the hall.
“Already they think the castle theirs. The union of Graustark and Axphain!
Just what they most desired, but we could not make her see it so.”
“Is the day set?” asked Lorry, bravely, after a moments silent inspection
of the dark-browed victors.
“Yes, and there is to be no delay. The marriage contract has already been
signed. The date is November 20th, the day on which we are to account to
Bolaroz for our war debt.
“The old Prince's wedding gift to Graustark is to be a document favoring
us with a ten years' extension,” she said, scornfully.
“And where is she to live?”
“Here, of course. She is Graustark's ruler, and here she insists on
abiding. Just contemplate our court! Over-run with those Axphain dogs! Ah,
she has wounded Graustark more than she has helped her.”
There was nothing more to be said or done, so, after a few moments, the
Americans took their departure. The Countess bade them farewell, saying
that she must return to the Princess.
“I'll see you to-morrow,” said Anguish, with rare assurance and the air of
an old and indispensable friend.
“And you, Mr. Lorry?” she said, curiously.
“I am very much occupied,” he mumbled.
“You do wrong in seeking to deceive me,” she whispered, as Anguish passed
through the door ahead of them. “I know why you do not come.”
“Has she told you?”
“I have guessed. Would that it could have been you and not the other.”
“One cannot be a man and a prince at the same time, I fancy,” he said,
“Nor can one be a princess and a woman.” Lorry recalled the conversation
in the sickroom two weeks before and smiled ironically. The friendly girl
left them at the door and they passed out of the castle.
“I shall leave Edelweiss to-morrow,” said one, more to himself than to his
companion, as they crossed the parade. The other gave a start and did not
look pleased. Then he instinctively glanced toward the castle.
“The Princess is at her window,” he cried, clutching Lorry's arm and
pointing back. But the other refused to turn, walking on blindly. “You
ought not to have acted like that, Gren,” said Anguish, a few moments
later. “She saw me call your attention to her, and she saw you refuse to
look back. I don't think that you should have hurt her.” Lorry did not
respond, and there was no word between them until they were outside the
“You may leave to-morrow, Lorry, if you like, but I'm going to stay a
while,” said Harry, a trifle confusedly.
“Haven't you had enough of the place?”
“I don't care a whoop for the place. You see, it's this way: I'm just as
hard hit as you, and it is not a Princess that I have to contend with.”
“You mean that you are in love with the Countess?”
“I'm sorry for you.”
“Think she'll turn me down?”
“Unless you buy a title of one of these miserable counts or dukes.”
“Oh, I'm not so sure about that. These counts and dukes come over and
marry our American girls. I don't see why I can't step in and pick out a
nice little Countess if I want to.”
“She is not as avaricious as the counts and dukes, I'll wager. She cares
nothing for your money.”
“Well, she's as poor as a church mouse,” said the other, doggedly.
“The Countess poor? How do you know?'
“I asked her one day and she told me all about it,” said Anguish.