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 second-hand.

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 excitement.

“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, hasn't he?”

“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 now?”

“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 no treaty?

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 being entertained.

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 strain beneath.”

“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 came.”

“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 Count?”

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 up.

“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 jealousy before.

“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.

“Nothing less.”

“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 deliberate.

“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, bitterly.

“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 castle gates.

“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.

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