J. Storer Clouston
Part 5 out of 5
that it took him a few seconds to awake to the full
possession of his faculties, even when disturbed by a loud
exclamation at his bedside. He then became aware of
the presence of an entire stranger in his room--a tall
and elderly man, with a long nose and a grizzled beard.
This intruder had apparently just drawn up the blind,
and was now looking about him with an expression of
the greatest concern.
"Mackenzie!" he cried, in the voice of one accustomed
to be heard with submission, "What have you
been doing to my room?"
The butler, too confused for coherent speech, was
in the act of bringing in a small portmanteau.
"I--I mentioned, Sir Justin, your room was hardly
ready for ye, sir. Perhaps, sir, if ye'd come into the
"What the deuce, there's hardly a stick of furniture
left! And whose clothes are these?"
"Mine," answered the Count suavely.
The stranger started violently, and turned upon the
bed an eye at first alarmed, then rapidly becoming lit
"Who--who is this?" he shouted.
"That, sir--that----" stammered Mackenzie.
"Is Count Bunker," said the Count, who remained
entirely courteous in spite of the inconvenience of this
intrusion. "Have I the pleasure of addressing Sir
"You have, sir."
"In that case, Mackenzie will be able to give you a
satisfactory account of my presence; and in half an
hour or so I shall have the pleasure of joining you
The Count, with a polite smile, turned over in bed, as
though to indicate that the interview was now at an
end. But his visitor apparently had other views.
"I should be obliged by some explanation from
yourself of your entry into my house," said he, steadily
keeping his eye upon the Count.
"Now how the deuce shall I get out of this hole
without letting Julia into another?" wondered Bunker;
but before he could speak, Mackenzie had blurted out--
"Miss Wallingford, sir--the gentleman is a friend
of hers, sir."
"What!" thundered Sir Justin.
"I assure you that Miss Wallingford was actuated
by the highest motives in honoring me with an
invitation to The Lash," said Bunker earnestly.
He had already dismissed an ingenious account of
himself as a belated wanderer, detained by stress of
weather, as certain to be contradicted by Julia herself,
and decided Instead on risking all upon his supposed
uncle's saintly reputation.
"How came she to invite you, sir?" demanded Sir
"As my uncle's nephew, merely."
Sir Justin stared at him in silence, while he brought
the full force of his capacious mind to bear upon the
"Your name, you say, is Bunker?" he observed at
"Count Bunker," corrected that nobleman.
"Ah! Doubtless, then, you are the same gentleman
who has been residing with Lord Tulliwuddle?"
"I am unaware of a duplicate."
"And the uncle you allude to----?"
By a wave of his hand the Count referred him to the
portrait upon the wall. Sir Justin now stared at it.
"Bunker--Count Bunker," he repeated in a musing
tone, and then turned to the present holder of that dignity
with a look in his eye which the adventurer disliked
"I will confer with you later," he observed.
"Mackenzie, remove my portmanteau."
In a voice inaudible to the Count he gave another
order, which was followed by Mackenzie also removing
the Count's clothes from their chair.
"I say, Mackenzie!" expostulated Bunker, now
beginning to feel seriously uneasy; but heedless of his
protest the butler hastened with them from the room.
Then, with a grim smile and a surprising alacrity
of movement, Sir Justin changed the key into the outside
of the lock, passed through the door, and shut and
locked it behind him.
"The devil!" ejaculated Count Bunker.
Here was a pretty predicament! And the most
ominous feature about it appeared to him to be the
deliberation with which his captor had acted. It seemed
that he had got himself into a worse scrape than he
He wasted no time in examining his prison with an
eye to the possibility of an escape, but it became very
quickly evident that he was securely trapped. From
the windows he could not see even a water-pipe within
hail, and the door was unburstably ponderous. Besides,
a gentleman attired either in pajamas or evening
dress will naturally shrink from flight across country
at nine o'clock in the morning. It seemed to the Count
that he was as well in bed as anywhere else, and upon
this opinion he acted.
In about an hour's time the door was cautiously
unlocked, and a tray, containing some breakfast, laid upon
the floor; but at the same time he was permitted to see
that a cordon of grooms and keepers guarded against
his flight. He showed a wonderful appetite, all
circumstances considered, smoked a couple of cigars, and
at last decided upon getting up and donning his evening
clothes. Thereafter nothing occurred, beyond the
arrival of a luncheon tray, till the afternoon was well
advanced; by which time even his good spirits had
become a trifle damped, and his apprehensions
At last his prison door was again thrown open, this
time by Sir Justin himself.
"Come in, my dear," he said in a grave voice; and
with a downcast eye and scarlet cheek the fair Julia
met her guest again.
Her father closed the door, and they seated
themselves before their prisoner, who, after a profound
obeisance to the lady, faced them from the edge of his
bed with an air of more composure than he felt.
"I await your explanation, Sir Justin," he began,
striking at once the note which seemed to him (so far
as he could guess) most likely to be characteristic of an
innocent and much-injured man.
"You shall have it," said Sir Justin grimly. "Julia,
you asked this person to my house under the impression
that he was the nephew of that particularly obnoxious
fanatic, Count Herbrand Bunker, and still engaged
upon furthering his relative's philanthropic and other
"But isn't he----" began Julia with startled eyes.
"I am Count Bunker," said our hero firmly.
"The nephew in question?" inquired Sir Justin.
Again Sir Justin turned to his daughter.
"I have already told you what I think of your
conduct under any circumstances. What your feelings
will be I can only surmise when I inform you that I
have detained this adventurer here until I had time to
despatch a wire and receive an answer from Scotland
Both Count and Julia started.
"What, sir!" exclaimed Bunker.
Quite unmoved by his protest, his captor continued,
this time addressing him--
"My memory, fortunately, is unusually excellent,
and when you told me this morning who you were
related to, I recalled at once something I had heard of
your past career. It is now confirmed by the reply I
received to my telegram."
"And what, Sir Justin, does Scotland Yard have to
say about me?"
"Julia," said her parent, "this unhappy young man
did indeed profess for some time a regard for his
uncle's teachings, and even, I believe, advocated them
in writing. In this way he obtained the disposal of
considerable funds contributed by unsuspicious persons
for ostensibly philanthropic purposes. About two
years ago these funds and Count Bunker simultaneously
disappeared, and your estimable guest was last heard
of under an assumed name in the republic of Uruguay."
Uncomfortable as his predicament was, this picture
of himself as the fraudulent philanthropist was too
much for Bunker's sense of humor, and to the extreme
astonishment of his visitors he went off into a fit of
laughter so hearty and prolonged that it was some time
before he recovered his gravity.
"My dear friends," he exclaimed at last, "I am not
that Bunker at all! In fact I was only created a few
weeks ago. Bring me back my clothes, and in return
I'll tell you a deuced sight funnier story even than
Sir Justin rose and led his daughter to the door.
"You will have an opportunity to-morrow," he
replied stiffly. "In the meantime I shall leave you to the
enjoyment of the joke."
"But, my dear sir----"
Sir Justin turned his back, and the door closed upon
Count Bunker's position was now less supportable
"Escape I must," he thought.
And hardly had he breathed the word when a gleam of
his old luck seemed to return. He was standing by the
window, and presently he observed a groom ride up on
a bicycle, dismount, and push it through an outhouse
door. Then the man strolled off, and he said to himself,
with an uprising of his spirits--
"There's my steed--if I could once get to it!"
Then again he thought the situation over, and
gradually the prospect of a midnight ride on a bicycle over
a road he had only once traversed, clad in his emblazoned
socks and blue-lapelled coat, appeared rather less
entertaining than another night's confinement. So he lit his
last cigar, threw himself on the bed, and resigned himself
to the consolations of an innocent heart and a
The clearness of the Count's conscience may be
gauged when it is narrated that no sooner
had he dismissed the stump of his cigar toward
the grate than he dropped into a peaceful
doze and remained placidly unconscious of his perils
for the space of an hour or more. He was then awakened
by the sound of a key being gently turned, and
his opening eyes rested upon a charming vision of Julia
Wallingford framed in the outline of the door.
"Hush!" she whispered; "I--I have brought a note
Smoothing his hair as he met her, the Count thanked
her with an air of considerable feeling, and took from
her hand a twisted slip of paper.
"It was brought by a messenger--a man in a kilt,
who came in a motor car. I didn't know whether father
would let you have it, so I brought it up myself."
"Is the messenger waiting?"
"No; he went straight off again."
Unrolling the scrap he read this brief message
scrawled in pencil and evidently in dire haste--
"All is lost! I am prisoner! Go straightway to
London for help from my Embassy.
"R. VON B."
"Good heavens!" he exclaimed aloud.
"Is it bad news?" asked Julia, with a solicitude that
instantly suggested possibilities to his fertile brain.
"Horribly!" he said. "It tells of a calamity that
has befallen a very dear friend of mine! Oh, Rudolph,
Rudolph! And I a helpless prisoner!"
As he anticipated, this outburst of emotion was not
without its effect.
"I am so sorry!" she said. "I--I don't believe,
Count Bunker, you are as guilty as father says!"
"I swear to you I am not!"
"Can I--help you?"
He thought swiftly.
"Is there any one about the house just now?"
"Oh yes; the keeper is stationed in the hall!"
"Miss Wallingford, if you would atone for a deep
injury which you have inadvertently done an innocent
man, bring me fifty feet of stout rope! And, I say,
see that the door of the bicycle house is left unlocked.
Will you do this?"
A sound on the stairs alarmed her, and with a fleeting
smile of sympathy she was gone and the door locked
upon him again.
Again the time passed slowly by, and he was left to
ponder over the critical nature of the situation as revealed
by the luckless Baron's intelligence. Clearly he
must escape to-night, at all hazards.
"What's that? My rope?" he wondered.
But it was only the arrival of his dinner, brought as
before upon a tray and set just within the door, as
though they feared for the bearer's life should he venture
within reach of this desperate adventurer from
"A very large dish for a very small appetite," he
thought, as he bore his meal over to the bed and drew
his chair up before it.
It looked indeed as though a roasted goose must be
beneath the cover. He raised it, and there, behold! lay
a large coil of excellent new rope. The Count chuckled.
"Commend me to the heart and the wit of women!
What man would ever have provided so dainty a dish
as this? Unless, indeed" (he had the breadth of mind
to add) "it happened to be a charming adventuress
who was in trouble."
Drinking the half pint of moderate claret which they
had allowed him to the happiness and prosperity of all
true-hearted women, he could not help regretting that
his imprisoned confederate should be so unlikely to enjoy
similar good fortune.
"He went too far with those two dear girls. A
woman deceived as he has deceived them will never forgive
him. They'd stand sentry at his cell-door sooner
than let the poor Baron escape," he reflected
commiserately, and sighed to think of the disastrous effect
this mishap might have both upon his friend's diplomatic
career and domestic felicity.
While waiting for the dusk to deepen, and endeavoring
to console himself for the lack of cigars with the
poor remedy of cigarettes, he employed his time profitably
in tying a series of double knots upon the line of
rope. Then at last, when he could see the stars bright
above the trees and hear no sound in the house, he
pulled his bed softly to the open window, and to it
fastened one end of his rope securely. The other he
quietly let drop, and losing not an instant followed it
hand under hand, murmuring anathemas on the rough
wall that so scraped his evening trousers.
On tiptoe he stole to the door through which the
bicycle had gone. It yielded to a push, and once inside
he ventured to strike a match.
"By Gad! I've a choice of half a dozen," he exclaimed.
It need scarcely be said that he selected the best;
and after slitting with his pocket-knife the tires of all
the others, he mounted and pedalled quietly down the
drive. The lodge gates stood open; the road, a trifle
muddy but clear of all traffic, stretched visible for a
long way in the starlight; the breeze blew fair behind
"May Providence guide me to the station," he
prayed, and rode off into the night.
Suppose the clock be set back four-and-twenty
hours, and behold now the Baron von Blitzenberg,
the diplomatist and premier baron of
Bavaria, engaged in unhappy argument with
himself. Unhappy, because his reason, though so
carefully trained from the kindergarten upward, proved
unable to combat the dismal onsets of superstition.
"Pooh! who cares for an old picture?" Reason
"It is an omen," said Superstition simply; and Reason
stood convicted as an empty braggart.
But if Time be the great healer, Dinner is at least a
clever quack, and when he and old Mr. Rentoul had
consumed well-nigh a bottle and a half of their host's
port between them, the outlook became much less
gloomy. A particularly hilarious evening in the drawing-
room completed the triumph of mind over what he
was now able to term "jost nonsense," and he slept
that night as soundly as the Count was simultaneously
slumbering in Sir Justin's bed-room. And there was
no unpleasant awakening in the Baron's case. On the
contrary, all nature seemed in a conspiracy to make
the last day of his adventure pleasant. The sun shone
brightly, his razors had an excellent edge, sausages
were served for breakfast, and when he joined the
family afterwards he found them as affectionately
kind as a circle of relations. In fact, the Baron had
dropped more than one hint the night before of such a
nature that they had some reason for supposing
relationship imminent. It is true Eva was a little
disappointed that the actual words were not yet said, and
when he made an airy reference to paying a farewell
call that morning upon their neighbors at Lincoln
Lodge, she exhibited so much disapproval in her air
that he said at once--
"Ach, vell, I shall jost go after lonch and be back
in an hour and a half. I jost vish to say good-bye,
zat is all."
Little guessing how much was to hang upon this
postponement, he drove over after luncheon with a
mind entirely reassured. With only an afternoon to
be safely passed, no mishap, he was sure, could possibly
happen now. If indeed the Maddisons chose to be
offended with him, why, then, his call would merely be
the briefer and he would recommend Eva for the post
of Lady Tulliwuddle without qualification. It was his
critics who had reason to fear, not he.
Miss Maddison was at home, the staff of footmen
assured him, and, holding his head as high as a chieftain
should, he strode into her sanctuary.
"Do I disturb you?"
He asked this with a quicker beating heart. Not
Eleanor alone, but her father and Ri confronted him,
and it was very plain to see that a tempest was in the
brewing. Her eyes were bright with tears and
indignation; their brows heavy with formidable frowns.
At the first moment of his entering, extreme astonishment
at seeing him was clearly their dominant emotion,
and as evidently it rapidly developed into a sentiment
even less hospitable.
"Why, this beats the devil!" ejaculated Mr. Maddison;
and for a moment this was the sole response to
The next to speak was Ri--
"Show it him, Poppa! Confront him with the
With ominous deliberation the millionaire picked up
a newspaper from the floor, where apparently it had
been crumpled and flung, smoothed out the creases, and
approached the Baron till their noses were in danger
of collision. While executing this manoeuvre the silence
was only broken by the suppressed sobbing of his
daughter. Then at last he spoke.
"Our mails, sir, have just arrived. This, sir, is
'The Times' newspaper, published in the city of London
He shook it in the Baron's face with a sudden
vehemence that caused that nobleman to execute an
abrupt movement backward.
"Take it," continued the millionaire--"take it, sir,
and explain this if you can!"
So confused had the Baron's mind become already
that it was with difficulty he could decipher the following
"Tulliwuddle--Herringay.--In London, privately,
Lord Tulliwuddle to Constance, daughter of Robert
The Baron's brain reeled.
"Here is another paragraph that may interest you,"
pursued Mr. Maddison, turning the paper outside in
with an alarmingly vigorous movement, and presenting
a short paragraph for the Baron's inspection. This
"PEER AND ACTRESS.
"As announced in our marriage column, the wedding
took place yesterday, privately, of Lord Tulliwuddle,
kinsman and heir of the late peer of that name, so well
known in London and Scottish society, and Miss Constance
Herringay, better known as 'Connie Fitz Aubyn,'
of the Gaiety Theatre. It is understood that the
young couple have departed for the Mediterranean."
In a few seconds given him to prepare his mind, the
Baron desperately endeavored to imagine what the
resourceful Bunker would say or do under these awful
"Well, sir?" said Mr. Maddison.
"It is a lie!"
Ri laughed scornfully.
"Mean to say no such marriage took place?"
"It vas not me."
"Who was it, then?"
"Anozzer man, perhaps."
"Another Lord Tulliwuddle?" inquired the millionaire.
"Zey have made a mistake mit ze name. Yes, zat is
"Can it be possible?" cried Eleanor eagerly, her
grief for the moment forgotten.
"No," said her father; "it is not possible. The
announcement is confirmed by the paragraph. A mistake
The Baron thought he perceived a brilliant idea.
"Ach, it is ze ozzer Tollvoddle!" he exclaimed.
"So! zat is it, of course."
"You mean to say there is another peerage of Tulliwuddle?"
"Fetch Debrett, Ri!"
But Ri had already not only fetched Debrett, but
found the place.
"A darned lie. Thought so," he observed succinctly.
The luckless diplomatist was now committed to perdition.
"It is not in ze books," he exclaimed. "It is bot a
"And illegitimate also."
"Sir," burst forth Ri, "you are a thundering liar!
Is this your marriage notice?"
The Baron changed his tactics.
"Yes!" he declared.
"Don't fuss, Eleanor," said her father kindly.
"That ain't true, anyhow. Why, the day before yesterday
he was throwing that darned hammer."
"Which came down last night in our yard with the
head burst!" added Ri contemptuously. "Found you
out there too!"
"Is that so!" exclaimed his father.
"That is so, sir!"
The three looked at him, and it was hard to say
whether indignation or contempt was more prominent
in their faces. This was more than he could endure.
"I vill not be so looked at!" he cried; "I vill leave
"No you won't!" said Ri.
And the Baron saw his retreat cut of by the athletic
and determined young man.
"Before you leave, we have one or two questions to
ask you," said Mr. Maddison. "Are you Lord Tulliwuddle,
or are you not?"
"Yes!--No!" replied the Baron.
Expanding his chest, he made the awe-inspiring
"I am moch greater zan Tollyvoddle! I am ze
Baron Rudolph von Blitzenberg!"
"Another darned lie!" commented Ri.
Mr. Maddison laughed sardonically; while Eleanor,
with flashing eyes, now joined in the attack upon the
"You wretched creature! Isn't it enough to have
shammed to be one peer without shamming to be another?"
"Bot I am! Ja, I swear to you! Can you not see
zat I am noble?"
"Curiously enough we can't," replied Mr. Maddison.
But his daughter's scepticism was a little shaken by
the fervor of his assurances.
"But, Poppa, perhaps he may be a German peer."
"German waiter, more likely!" sneered Ri. "What
shall we do with him? Tar and feathers, I guess, would
just about suit his complaint."
"No, Ri, no," said his father cautiously. "Remember
we are no longer beneath the banner of freedom.
In this benighted country it might lead into trouble.
Guess we can find him accommodation, though, in that
bit of genuine antique above the harness-room. It's
fitted with a very substantial lock. We'll make Dugald
M'Culloch responsible for this BARON till the police
take him over."
Vain were the Baron's protests; and upon the
appearance of Dugald M'Culloch, fisherman and facto-
tum to the millionaire, accompanied by three burly
satellites, vain, he perceived, would be the most
desperate resistance. He plead the privileges of a foreign
diplomatist, threatened a descent of the German army
upon Lincoln Lodge, guaranteed an intimate acquaintance
with the American ambassador--"Who vill make
you sorry for zis!" but all without moving Mr.
Maddison's resolution. Even Eleanor whispered a word for
him and was repulsed, for he overheard her father
replying to her--
"No, no, Eleanor; no more a diplomatist than you
would have been Lady Tulliwuddle. Guess I know
what I'm doing."
Whereupon the late Lord Tulliwuddle, kilt and all,
was conveyed by a guard of six tall men and deposited
in the bit of genuine antique above the harness-room.
This proved to be a small chamber in a thick-walled
wing of the original house, now part of the back premises;
and there, with his face buried in his hands, the
poor prisoner moaned aloud--
"Oh, my life, she is geblasted! I am undone! Oh,
I am lost!"
"Will it be so bad as that, indeed?"
He looked up with a start, and perceived Dugald,
his jailor, gazing upon him with an expression of
"The master will be sending me with his car to tell
the folks at Hechnahoul," added Dugald.
Still the Baron failed to comprehend the exchange
of favors suggested by his jailor's sympathetic
"Go, zen!" he muttered, and bent his head.
"You will not be wishing to send no messages to
At last the prisoner understood. For a sovereign
Dugald promised to convey a note to the Count; for
five he undertook to bribe the chauffeur to convey him
to The Lash, when he learned where that gentleman
was to be found. And he further decided to be faithful
to his trust, since, as he prudently reflected--
"If he will be a real chentleman after all it shall not
be well to be hard with him. And if he will not be,
nobody shall know."
The Baron felt a trifle less hopeless now, yet so black
did the prospect remain that he firmly believed he
should never be able to raise his head again and meet
the gaze of his fellow-men; not at least if he stayed in
that room till the police arrived.
Not even the news of Flodden brought direr
dismay to Hechnahoul than Mr. Maddison's
brief note. Lord Tulliwuddle an impostor?
That magnificent young man a fraud? So
much geniality, brawn, and taste for the bagpipes
merely the sheep's clothing that hid a wandering wolf?
Incredible! Yet, on second thoughts, how very much
more thrilling than if he had really been an ordinary
peer! And what a judgment on the presumption of
Mr. and Mrs. Gallosh! Hard luck on Eva, of course
--but, then, girls who aspire to marry out of their
own station must expect this kind of thing.
The latter part of this commentary was naturally
not that of the pretender's host and hostess. In the
throes of their anger and chagrin their one consoling
reflection was that no friends less tried than Mr. and
Mrs. Rentoul happened to be there to witness their
confusion. Yet other sufferers since Job have found
that the oldest friends do not necessarily of er the most
"Oh, oh! I feel like to die of grief!" wailed poor
"Aye; it's an awful smack in the eye for you," said
Mr. Rentoul sagely.
"Smack in the eye!" thundered his host. "It's a
criminal offence--that's what it is! It's a damned
swindle! It's a----"
"Oh, hush, hush!" interrupted Mrs. Rentoul in a
shocked voice. "What words for a lady to hear!
After all, you must remember you never made any
"Inquiries! What for should I be making inquiries
about my guests? YOU never dropped a word of such
a thing! Who'd have listened if I had? It was just
Lord Tulliwuddle this and Lord Tulliwuddle that from
morning to night since ever he came to the Castle."
"Duncan's so simple-minded," groaned Mrs. Gallosh.
"And what were you, I'd like to know? What were
you?" retorted her justly incensed spouse. "Never
a word did I hear, but just that he was such an aristocratic
young man, and any one could see he had blue
blood in his veins, and stuff of that kind!"
"I more than once had my own doubts about that,"
said the alcohol expert with a knowing wink. "There
was something about him---- Ah, well, he was not
exactly my own idea of a lord."
"YOUR idea?" scoffed his oldest and best of friends.
"What do YOU know of lords, I'd like to know?"
"Well, well," answered the sage peaceably, "maybe
we've neither of us had much opportunity of judging
of the nobility. It's just more bad luck than anything
else that you should have gone to the expense of setting
up in style in a lord's castle and then having
this downcome. If I'd had similar ambeetions it might
have been me."
This soft answer was so far from turning away
wrath, that Mrs. Rentoul again felt compelled to stem
the tide of her host's eloquence.
"Oh, hush!" she exclaimed; "I'd have fancied you'd
be having no thoughts beyond your daughter's affliction."
"My Eva! my poor Eva! Where is the suffering
child?" cried Mrs. Gallosh. "Duncan, what'll she be
"Making a to-do like the rest of the women-folk,"
replied her husband, with rather less sympathy than
the occasion seemed to demand.
In point of fact Eva had disappeared from the
company immediately after hearing the contents of Mr.
Maddison's letter, and whatever she had been doing,
it had not been weeping alone, for at that moment she
ran into the room, her face agitated, but rather, it
seemed, with excitement than grief.
"Papa, lend me five pounds," she panted.
"Lend you--five pounds! And what for, I'd like
"Don't ask me now. I--I promise to tell you later
--some time later."
"I'll see myself----! I mean, you're talking nonsense."
Eva's lip trembled.
"Hi, hist! Eva, my dear," said Mr. Rentoul; "if
you're wanting the money badly, and your papa doesn't
see his way----"
He concluded his sentence with a wink and a dive
into his trousers-pocket, and a minute later Eva had
fled from the room again.
This action of the sage, being at total variance to
his ordinary habits (which indeed erred on the economical
side), was attributed by his irate host--with a
certain show of reason--to the mere intention of annoying
him; and the conversation took a more acrimonious
turn than ever. In fact, when Eva returned
a few minutes later she was just in time to hear her
father thunder in an infuriated voice--
"A German waiter, is he? Aye, that's verra probable,
verra probable indeed. In fact I might have
known it when I saw you and him swilling a bottle and
a half of my best port together! Birds of a feather
--aye, aye, exactly!"
The crushing retort which the sage evidently had
ready to heap upon the fire of this controversy was
anticipated by Miss Gallosh.
"He isn't a German waiter, papa! He is a German
BARON--and an ambassador, too!"
The four started and stared at her.
"Where did you learn that?" demanded her father.
"I've been talking to the man who brought the
letter, and he says that Lord Tulli--I mean the Baron
--declares positively that he is a German nobleman!"
"Tuts, fiddlesticks!" scoffed her father.
"Verra like a whale," pronounced the sage.
"I wouldn't believe what HE said," declared Mrs.
"One can SEE he isn't," said Mrs. Rentoul.
"The kind of Baron that plays in a German band,
perhaps," added her husband, with a whole series of
winks to give point to this mot.
"He's just a scoundrelly adventurer!" shouted Mr.
"I hope he'll get penal servitude, that's what I
hope," said his wife with a sob.
"And, judging from his appearance, that'll be no
new experience for him," commented the sage.
So remarkably had their judgment of the late Lord
Tulliwuddle waxed in discrimination. And, strange to
say, his only defender was the lady he had injured
"I still believe him a gentleman!" she cried, and
swept tearfully from the room.
While his late worshippers were trampling
his memory in the mire, the Baron von
Blitzenberg, deserted and dejected, his
face still buried in his hands, endured
the slow passage of the doleful afternoon. Unlike the
prisoner at The Lash, who, by a coincidence that happily
illustrates the dispensations of Providence, was
undergoing at the same moment an identical ordeal,
the Baron had no optimistic, whimsical philosophy to
fall back upon. Instead, he had a most tender sense
of personal dignity that had been egregiously outraged--
and also a wife. Indeed, the thought of Alicia
and of Alicia's parent was alone enough to keep his
head bowed down.
"Ach, zey most not know," he muttered. "I shall
give moch money--hondreds of pound--not to let zem
find out. Oh, what for fool have I been!"
So deeply was he plunged in these sorrowful meditations,
and so constantly were they concerned with the
two ladies whose feelings he wished to spare, that when
a hum of voices reached his ear, one of them strangely
--even ominously--familiar, he only thought at first
that his imagination had grown morbidly vivid. To
dispel the unpleasant fancies suggested by this imagined
voice, he raised his head, and then the next
instant bounded from his chair.
"Mein Gott!" he muttered, "it is she."
Too thunderstruck to move, he saw his prison door
open, and there, behold! stood the Countess of Grillyer,
a terrible look upon her high-born features, a Darius
at either shoulder. In silence they surveyed one another,
and it was Mr. Maddison who spoke first.
"Guess this is a friend of yours," he observed.
One thought and one only filled the prisoner's mind
--she must leave him, and immediately.
"No, no; I do not know her!" he cried.
"You do not know me?" repeated the Countess in
a voice rich in promise.
"Certainly I do not."
"She knows you all right," said the millionaire.
"Says she does," put in Ri in a lower voice; "but
I wouldn't lay much money on her word either."
"Rudolph! You pretend you do not know me?"
cried the Countess between wrath and bewilderment.
"I never did ever see sochlike a voman before,"
reiterated the Baron.
"What do you say to that, ma'am?" inquired Mr.
"I say--I blush to say--that this wretched young
man is my son-in-law," declared the Countess.
As she had come to the house inquiring merely for
Lord Tulliwuddle, and been conducted straight to the
prisoner's cell, the stupefying effect of this announcement
may readily be conceived.
"What!" ejaculated the Dariuses.
"It is not true! She is mad! Take her avay,
please!" shouted the Baron, now desperate in his
resolution to say or do anything, so long as he got rid of
his formidable relative.
The Countess staggered back.
"Is he demented?" she inquired.
"Say, ma'am," put in Ri, "are you the mother of
Miss Constance Herringay?"
"Of----? I am Lady Grillyer!"
"See here, my good lady, that's going a little
too far," said the millionaire not unkindly. "This
friend of yours here first calls himself Lord
Tulliwuddle, and then the Baron von something or other.
Well, now, that's two of the aristocracy in this under-
sized apartment already. There's hardly room for
a third--see? Can't you be plain Mrs. Smith for a
The Countess tottered.
"Fellow!" she said in a faint voice, "I--I do not
"Thought that would fetch her down," commented
"Lead her back to ze train and make her go to
London!" pleaded the Baron earnestly.
"You stick to it, you don't know her?" asked Mr.
"No, no, I do not!"
"Is her name Lady Grillyer?"
"Not more zan it is mine!"
"Rudolph!" gasped the Countess inarticulately.
"He is--he WAS my son!"
"Stoff and nonsense!" roared the Baron. "Remove
her!--I am tired."
"Well," said Mr. Maddison, "I guess I don't much
believe either of you; but whether you know each other
or not, you make such a remarkably fine couple that
I reckon you'd better get acquainted now. Come, Ri."
And before either Countess or Baron could interpose,
their captors had slipped out, the key was turned,
and they were left to the dual enjoyment of the antique
"Teufel!" shouted the Baron, kicking the door
frantically. "Open him, open him! I vill pay you a
hondred pound! Goddam! Open!"
But only the gasps of the Countess answered him.
It is generally conceded that if you want to see the
full depths of brutality latent in man, you must
thoroughly frighten him first. This condition the Countess
of Grillyer had exactly succeeded in fulfilling, with the
consequence that the Baron, hitherto the most complacent
and amiable of sons-in-law, seemed ambitious
of rivalling the Turk. When he perceived that no
answer to his appeals was forthcoming, dark despair
for a moment overcame him. Then the fiendishly
ingenious idea struck him--might not a woman's screams
accomplish what his own lungs were unable to effect?
Turning an inflamed and frowning countenance upon
the lady who had intrusted her daughter's happiness
to his hands, he addressed her in a deep hissing voice--
"Shcream, shcream, voman! Shcream loudly, or I
vill knock you!"
But the Countess was made of stern stuff. Outraged
and frightened though she was, she yet retorted
"I will not scream, Rudolph! I--I demand an
Executing a step of the sword-dance within a yard
of her, he reiterated
"Shcream so zat zey may come back!"
She blinked, but held her ground.
"I insist upon knowing what you mean, Rudolph!
I insist upon your telling me! What are you doing
here in that preposterous kilt?"
The Baron's wits brightened with the acuteness of
"Ha!" he cried, "I vill take my kilt off--take him
off before your eyes this instant if you do not
But she merely closed her eyes.
"If you dare! If you dare, Rudolph, I shall inform
your Emperor! And I will not look! I cannot see
Whether in deference to imperial prejudices, or
because a kiltless man would be thrown away upon a lady
who refused to look at him, the Baron regretfully
desisted from this project. At his wits' end, he besought
"Make zem take you avay, so zat you vill be safe
from my rage! I do not trost myself mit you. I am
so violent as a bull! Better zat you should go; far
better--do you not see?"
"No, Rudolph, no!" replied the adamant lady. "I
have come to guard you against your own abandoned
nature, and I shall only leave this room when you do!"
She sat down and faced him, palpitating, but immovable;
and against such obstinacy the unhappy Rudolph
gave up the contest in despair.
"But I shall not talk mit her; oh, Himmel, nein!"
he said to himself; and in pursuance of this policy sat
with his back turned to her while the shadows of evening
gradually filled the room. In vain did she address
him: he neither answered nor moved. Indeed, to
discourage her still further, he even summoned up a
forced gaiety of demeanor, and in a low rumble of
discords sang to himself the least respectable songs he
"His mind is certainly deranged," thought the
Countess. "I must not let him out of my sight. Ah,
But in time, when the dusk was thickening so fast
that her son-in-law's broad back had already grown
indistinct of outline, and no voice or footstep had come
near their prison, her thoughts began to wander from
his case to her own. The outrageous conduct of those
Americans in discrediting her word and incarcerating
her person, though overshadowed at the time by the
yet greater atrocity of the Baron's behavior, now
loomed up in formidable proportions. And the gravity
of their offence was emphasized by an unpleasant
sensation she now began to experience with considerable
"Do they mean to starve us as well as insult us?"
The Baron's thoughts also seemed to have drifted
into a different channel. He no longer sang; he
fidgeted in his chair; he even softly groaned; and at
last he actually changed his attitude so far as to survey
the dim form of his mother-in-law over one
"Oh, ze devil!" he exclaimed aloud. "I am so
"That is no reason why you should also be profane,"
said the Countess severely.
"I did not speak to you," retorted the Baron, and
again a constrained silence fell on the room.
The Baron was the first to break it.
"Ha!" he cried. "I hear a step."
"Thank God!" exclaimed the Countess devoutly.
In the blaze of a stable lantern there entered to them
Dugald M'Culloch, jailor.
"Will you be for any supper?" he inquired, with a
politeness he felt due to prisoners with purses.
"I do starve!" replied the Baron.
"And I am nearly fainting!" cried the Countess.
Both rose with an alacrity astonishing in people so
nearly exhausted, and made as though they would pass
out. With a deprecatory gesture Dugald arrested
"I will bring your supper fery soon," said he.
"Here?" gasped the Countess.
"It is the master's orders."
"Tell him I vill have him ponished mit ze law, if he
does not let me come out!" roared the Baron.
Their jailor was courtesy itself; but it was in their
prison that they supped--a silent meal, and very plain.
And, bitterest pill of all, they were further informed
that in their prison they must pass the night.
"In ze same room!" cried the Baron frantically.
Even his mother-in-law's solicitude shrank from this
vigil; but with unruffled consideration for their comfort
their guardian and his assistants made up two
beds forthwith. The Baron, subdued to a fierce and
snarling moodiness, watched their preparations with a
"Put not zat bed so near ze door," he snapped.
In his ear his jailor whispered, "That one's for you,
sir, and dinna put off your clothes!"
The Baron started, and from that moment his air
of resignation began to affront the Countess as deeply
as his previous violence. When they were again alone,
stretched in black darkness each upon their couch, she
lifted up her voice in a last word of protest--
"Rudolph! have you no single feeling for me left?
Why didn't you stab that man?"
But the Baron merely retorted with a lifelike
affectation of snoring.
For a long time the Baron lay wide awake,
every sense alert, listening for the creak of
a footstep on the wooden stair that led up
from the harness-room to his prison. What
else could the strange words of Dugald have meant,
save that some friend proposed to climb those stairs
and gently open that stubborn door? And in this
opinion he had been confirmed when he observed that on
Dugald's departure the key turned with a silence
suggesting a recently oiled lock. His bed lay along the
wall, with the head so close to the door that any one
opening it and stretching forth a hand could tweak
him by the nose without an effort (supposing that
were the object of their visit). Clearly, he thought,
it was not thus arranged without some very special
purpose. Yet when hour after hour passed and nothing
happened, he began to sleep fitfully, and at last,
worn out with fruitless waiting, dropped into a
He was in the midst of a harassing dream or drama,
wherein Bunker and Eva played an incoherent part
and he himself passed wearily from peril to peril, when
the stage suddenly was cleared, his eyes started open,
and he became wakefully conscious of a little ray of
light that fell upon his face. Before he could raise
his head a soft voice whispered urgently,
With admirable self-control he obeyed implicitly.
"Who is zere?" he whispered back.
The voice seemed for a moment to hesitate, and then
He started so audibly that again she breathed peremptorily--
"Hush! Lie still till I come back. You--you
don't deserve it, but I want to save you from the disgrace
"Ach, zank you--mine better angel!" he murmured,
with a fervor that seemed not unpleasing to his rescuer.
"You really are a nobleman in trouble?"
"I swear I am!"
"And didn't mean anything really wrong?"
More kindly than before she murmured--
"Well, I guess I'll take you out, then. I've bribed
Dugald, so that's all right. When my car's ready
I'll send him up for you. You just lie still till he
From which it appears that Count Bunker's appreciation
of the sex fell short of their meed.
Hardly daring to breathe for fear of awakening
his fellow-prisoner, trembling with agitation, and
consumed by a mad impatience for action, the Baron
passed five of the longest minutes he had ever endured.
At the end of that time he heard a stealthy step upon
the stairs, and with infinite precautions threw off his
bedclothes and sat upright, ready for instant departure.
But how slowly and with what a superfluity of
precaution his jailor moved! When the door at length
opened he wondered that no ray of light fell this
"Dugald!" he whispered eagerly.
"Hush!" replied a softer voice than Dugald's; as
soft, indeed, as Eleanor's, yet clearly different.
"Who is zat?" he gasped.
"Eva Gallosh!" said the silken voice. "Oh, is that
"Yes--yes--it is me."
"And are you really a Baron and an ambassador?"
"Oh yes--yes--certainly I am."
"Then--then I've come to help you to escape! I've
bribed Dugald--and I've got a dog-cart here. Come
quickly--but oh, be very quiet!"
For a moment the Baron actually hesitated to flee
from that loathed apartment. It seemed to him that
if Fortune desired to provide him with opportunities
of escape she might have had the sense to offer these
one at a time. For how could he tell which of these
overtures to close with? A wrong decision might be
fatal; yet time unquestionably pressed.
"Mein Gott!" he muttered irresolutely, "vich shall
At that moment the other bed creaked, and, to his
infinite horror, he heard a suspicious voice demand--
"Is that you talking, Rudolph?"
Poor Eva, who was quite unaware of the presence
of another prisoner, uttered a stifled shriek; with a cry
of "Fly, quickly!" the Baron leaped from his bed,
and headlong down the wooden stairs they clattered
A dim vision of the thrice-bribed Dugald, screeching,
"The car's ready for ye, sir!" but increased their
Outside, a motor car stood panting by the door, and
in the youthful driver, turning a pale face toward
them in the lamp's radiance, the Baron had just time
to recognize his first fair deliverer.
"Good-bye!" he whispered to his second, and flung
Some one followed him; the door was slammed, and
with a mighty throbbing they began to move.
"Rudolph! Rudolph!" wailed a voice behind them.
"Zank ze goodness SHE is not here!" exclaimed the
"Whisht! whisht!" he could hear Dugald expostulate.
With a violent start he turned to the fellow-passenger
who had followed him in.
"Are you not Dugald?" he demanded hoarsely.
"No--it's--it's me! I dursn't wait for my dog-
"Eva!" he murmured. "Oh, Himmel! Vat shall
Only a screen of glass separated his two rescuers,
and the one had but to turn her head and look inside,
or the other to study with any attention the roll of
hair beneath their driver's cap, in order to lead to most
embarrassing consequences. Not that it was his fault
he should receive such universal sympathy: but would
these charming ladies admit his innocence?
"How thoughtful of Dugald to have this car----"
"Hush!" he muttered hoarsely. "Yes, it was
thoughtful, but you most not speak too loudly."
"For fear----?" she smiled, and turned her eyes
instinctively toward their driver.
"Excuse me," he muttered, sweeping her as gently
as possible from her seat and placing her upon the
"It vill not do for zem to see you," he explained in
"How awful a position," he reflected. "Oh, I hope
it may still be dark ven we get to ze station."
But with rising concern he presently perceived that
the telegraph posts along the roadside were certainly
grown plainer already; he could even see the two thin
wires against a paling sky; the road behind was visible
for half a mile; the hill-tops might no longer be
confounded with the clouds-day indubitably was breaking.
Also he recollected that to go from Lincoln
Lodge to Torrydhulish Station one had to make a vast
detour round half the loch; and, further, began to
suspect that though Miss Maddison's driving was beyond
reproach her knowledge of topography was
scarcely so dependable. In point of fact she increased
the distance by at least a third, and all the while day
was breaking more fatally clear.
To discourage Miss Gallosh's efforts at conversation,
yet keep her sitting contentedly upon the floor;
to appear asleep whenever Miss Maddison turned her
head and threw a glance inside, and to devise some
adequate explanation against the inevitable discovery
at the end of their drive, provided him with employment
worthy of a diplomatist's steel. But now, at last,
they were within sight of railway signals and a long
embankment; and over a pine wood a stream of smoke
moved with a swelling roar. Then into plain view
broke the engine and carriage after carriage racing
behind. Regardless of risk, he leaped from his seat
and flung up the window, crying--
"Ach, look! Ve shall be late!"
"That train is going north," said Eleanor. "Guess
we've half an hour good before yours comes in."
So little can mortals read the stars that he heaved
a sigh of relief, and even murmured--
"Ve have timed him very luckily!"
Ten minutes later they descended the hill to Torrydhulish
Station. The north-going train had paid its
brief call and vanished nearly from sight again; no
one seemed to be moving about the station, and the
Baron told himself that nothing worse remained than
the exercise of a little tact in parting with his deliverers.
"Ach! I shall carry it off gaily," he thought, and leaping
lightly to the ground, exclaimed with a genial
air, as he gave his hand to Eva.
"Vell! Now have I a leetle surprise for you,
Nor did he at all exaggerate their sensation.
Alas, that it should be so far beyond the power of
mere inky words to express all that was implied in
Nor is it less impossible to supply the significance
of Eleanor's intonation.
"Ladies, ladies!" he implored, "do not, I pray you,
misunderstand! I vas not responsible--I could not
help it. You both VOULD come mit me! No, no, do
not look so at me! I mean not zat--I mean I could not
do vizout both of you. Ach, Himmel! Vat do I say?
I should say zat--zat----"
He broke off with a start of apprehension.
"Look! Zere comes a man mit a bicycle! Zis is
too public! Come mit me into ze station and I shall
eggsplain! He waves his fist! Come! you vould not
be seen here?"
He offered one arm to Eva, the other to Eleanor;
and so alarming were the gesticulations of the
approaching cyclist, and so beseeching the Baron's tones,
that without more ado they clung to him and hurried
on to the platform.
"Come to ze vaiting-room!" he whispered. "Zere
shall ve be safe!"
Alack for the luck of the Baron von Blitzenberg!
Out of the very door they were approaching stepped
a solitary lady, sole passenger from the south train,
and at the sight of those three, linked arm in arm, she
staggered back and uttered a cry more piercing than
the engine's distant whistle.
"Rudolph!" cried this lady.
"Alicia!" gasped the Baron.
His rescuers said nothing, but clung to him the more
tightly, while in the Baroness's startled eyes a harder
light began to blaze.
"Who are these, Rudolph?"
He cleared his throat, but the process seemed to take
some time, and in the meanwhile he felt the grip of his
"Who is that lady?" demanded Eleanor.
"His wife," replied the Baroness.
The Baron felt his arms freed now; but still his
Alicia waited an answer. It came at last, but not from
the Baron's lips.
"Well, here you all are!" said a cheerful voice
They turned as though they expected to see
an apparition. Nor was the appearance of
the speaker calculated to disappoint such
expectations. Their startled eyes beheld
indeed the most remarkable figure that had ever wheeled
a bicycle down the platform of Torrydhulish Station.
Hatless, in evening clothes with blue lapels upon the
coat, splashed liberally with mud, his feet equipped
only with embroidered socks and saturated pumps, his
shirt-front bestarred with souvenirs of all the soils for
thirty miles, Count Bunker made a picture that lived
long in their memories. Yet no foolish consciousness
of his plight disturbed him as he addressed the Baron.
"Thank you, Baron, for escorting my fair friends
so far. I shall now take them off your hands."
He smiled with pleasant familiarity upon the two
astonished girls, and then started as though for the
first time he recognized the Baroness.
"Baroness!" he cried, bowing profoundly, "this is
a very unexpected pleasure! You came by the early
train, I presume? A tiresome journey, isn't it?"
But bewilderment and suspicion were all that he
could read in reply.
"What--what are YOU doing here?"
He was not in the least disconcerted.
"Meeting my cousins" (he indicated the Misses
Gallosh and Maddison with an amiable glance), "whom
the Baron has been kind enough to look after till my
Audaciously approaching more closely, he added, in
a voice intended for her ear and the Baron's alone--
"I must throw myself, I see, upon your mercy, and
ask you not to tell any tales out of school. Cousins,
you know, don't always want their meetings advertised--
do they, Baron?"
Alicia's eyes softened a little.
"Then, they are really your----"
"Call 'em cousins, please! I have your pledge that
you won't tell? Ah, Baron, your charming wife and
I understand one another."
Then raising his voice for the benefit of the company
"Well, you two will want to have a little talk in the
waiting-room, I've no doubt. We shall pace the platform.
Very fit Rudolph's looking, isn't he, Baroness?
You've no idea how his lungs have strengthened."
"His lungs!" exclaimed the Baroness in a changed
Giving the Baron a wink to indicate that there lay
the ace of trumps, he answered reassuringly--
"When you learn how he has improved you'll forgive
me, I'm sure, for taking him on this little trip.
Well, see you somewhere down the line, no doubt--I'm
going by the same train."
He watched them pass into the waiting-room, and
then turned an altered face to the two dumbfounded
girls. It was expressive now solely of sympathy and
"Let us walk a little this way," he began, and thus
having removed them safely from earshot of the waiting-
room door, he addressed himself to the severest
part of his task.
"My dear girls, I owe you I don't know how many
apologies for presuming to claim you as my friends.
The acuteness of the emergency is my only excuse, and
I throw myself most contritely upon your mercy!"
This second projection of himself upon a lady's
mercy proved as successful as the first.
"Well," said Eleanor slowly, "I guess maybe we
can forgive you for that; but what I want to know
is--what's happened?--who's who?--and where just
exactly are we?"
"That's just what I want to know too," added Eva
Indeed, they both had a hint of tears in their eyes,
and in their voices.
"What has happened," replied the Count, "is that a
couple of thoughtless masqueraders came up here to
play a little joke, and succeeded in getting themselves
into a scrape. For your share in getting us out of it
we cannot feel too grateful."
"But, who is----?" the girls began together, and
then stopped, with a rise of color and a suspicion of
displeasure in their interchange of eyes.
"Who is who? Well, my friend is the Baron von
Blitzenberg; and the lady is, as she stated, his wife."
"Then all this time----" began Eva.
"He was married!" Eleanor finished for her. "Oh,
the heartless scoundrel! To think that I rescued him!"
"I wouldn't have either!" said Eva; "I mean if--
if I had known he treated you so badly."
"Treated ME! I was only thinking of YOU, Miss
"Dear ladies!" interposed the Count with his ready
tact, "remember his excuse."
"The beauty, the charm, the wit of the lady who
took by storm a heart not easily captured! He himself,
poor fellow, thought it love-proof; but he had not
then met HER. Think mercifully of him!"
He was so careful to give no indication which of the
rival belles was "her," that each was able to take to
herself a certain mournful consolation.
"That wasn't MUCH excuse," said Eleanor, yet with
a less vindictive air.
"Certainly not VERY much," murmured Eva.
"He ought to have thought of the pain he was giving
HER," added Eleanor.
"Yes," said Eva. "Indeed he ought!"
"Yes, that is true," allowed the Count; "but
remember his punishment! To be married already now
proves to be less his fault than his misfortune."
By this time he had insidiously led them back to
"And must you return at once?" he exclaimed.
"We had better," said Eleanor, with a suspicion of
a sigh. "Miss Gallosh, I'll drive you home first."
"You're too kind, Miss Maddison."
The Count assisted them in, greatly pleased to see
this amicable spirit. Then shaking hands heartily with
each, he said--
"I can speak for my friend with conviction, because
my own regard for the lady in question is as deep
and as sincere as his. Believe me, I shall never forget
He was rewarded with two of the kindest smiles ever
bestowed upon him, and as they drove away each secretly
wondered why she had previously preferred the
Baron to the Count. It seemed a singular folly.
"Two deuced nice girls," mused he; "I do believe
I told 'em the truth in every particular!"
He watched their car dwindle to a scurrying speck,
and then strolled back thoughtfully to purchase his
He found the signals down, and the far-off clatter
of the train distinctly audible through the early morning
air. A few minutes more and he was stepping into
a first-class compartment, his remarkable costume earning
(he could not but observe) the pronounced attention
of the guard. The Baron and Alicia, with an air
of mutual affection, entered another; both the doors
were closed, everything seemed ready, yet the train
"Start ze train! Start ze train! I vill give you a
pound--two pound--tree pound, to start him!"
The Count leaped up and thrust his head through
"What the dickens----!" thought he.
Hanging out of the other window he beheld the
clamant Baron urging the guard with frenzied entreaty.
"But they're wanting to go by the train, sir," said
"No, no. Zey do not! It is a mistake! Start
Following their gaze he saw, racing toward them,
the cause of their delay. It was a motor car, yet not
the same that had so lately departed. In this were
seated a young man and an elderly lady, both waving
to hold back the train; and to his vast amazement he
recognized in the man Darius Maddison, junior, in the
lady the Countess of Grillyer.
The car stopped, the occupants alighted, and the
Countess, supported on the strong arm of Ri, scuttled
down the platform.
"Bonker, take her in mit you!" groaned the Baron,
and his head vanished from the Count's sight.
Even this ordeal was not too much for Bunker's
"Madam, there is room here!" he announced
politely, as they swept past; but with set faces they
panted toward the doomed von Blitzenberg.
All of the tragedy that the Count, with strained
neck, could see or overhear, was a vision of the Countess
being pushed by the guard and her escort into that
first-class compartment whence so lately the Baron's
crimson visage had protruded, and the voice of Ri
"Guess you'll recognize your momma this time,
A whistle from the guard, another from the engine,
and they were off, clattering southward in the first
of the morning sunshine.
Inadequately attired, damp, hungry, and divorced
from tobacco as the Count was, he yet could say to himself
with the sincerest honesty
"I wouldn't change carriages with the Baron von
Blitzenberg--not even for a pair of dry socks and a
cigar! Alas, poor Rudolph! May this teach all young
men a lesson in sobriety of conduct!"
For which moral reflection the historian feels it
incumbent upon him, as a philosopher and serious
psychologist, to express his conscientious admiration.
IT was an evening in early August, luminous and
warm; the scene, a certain club now emptied of
all but a sprinkling of its members; the festival,
dinner; and the persons of the play, that gentleman
lately known as Count Bunker and his friend the
Baron von Blitzenberg. The Count was habited in
tweeds; the Baron in evening dress.
"It vas good of you to come up to town jost to see
me," said the Baron.
"I'd have crossed Europe, Baron!"
The Baron smiled faintly. Evidently he was scarcely
in his most florid humor.
"I vish I could have asked you to my club, Bonker."
"Are you dissatisfied with mine?"
"Oh, no, no! But---- vell, ze fact is, it vould be
reported by some one if I took you to ze Regents.
Bonker, she does have me watched!"
"The deuce, Baron!"
The diplomatist gloomily sipped his wine.
"You did hush it all up, eh?" he inquired presently.
"Zank you. I vas so afraid of some scandal!"
"So were they; that's where I had 'em."
"Did zey write in moch anger?"
"No--not very much; rather nice letters, in fact."
The Baron began to cheer up.
"Ach, so! Vas zere any news of--ze Galloshes?"
"Yes, they seem very well. Old Rentoul has caught
a salmon. Gallosh hopes to get a fair bag----"
"Bot did zey say nozing about--about Miss Eva?"
"The letter was written by her, you see."
"SHE wrote to YOU! Strange!"
"Very odd, isn't it?"
The Baron meditated for a minute and then inquired--
"Vat of ze Maddisons?"
"Well, I gather that Mr. Maddison is erecting an
ibis house in connection with the aviary. Ri has gone
to Kamchatka, but hopes to be back by the 12th----"
"And Eleanor--no vord of her?"
"It was she who wrote, don't you know."
"Eleanor--and also to you! Bot vy should she?"
"Can't imagine; can you?"
The Baron shook his head solemnly. "No, Bonker,
For some moments he pondered over the remarkable
conduct of these ladies; and then--
"Did you also hear of ze Wallingfords?" he
"I had a short note from them."
"From him, or----"
"So! Humph, zey all seem fond of writing letters."
"Why--have you had any too?"
"No; and I do not vant zem."
Yet his immunity did not appear to exhilarate the
"Another bottle of the same," said Bunker aside to
. . . . . .
It was an hour later; the scene and the personages
the same, but the atmosphere marvellously altered.
"To ze ladies, Bonker!"
"To HER, Baron!"
"To zem both!"
The genial heart, the magnanimous soul of Rudolph
von Blitzenberg had asserted their dominion again.
Depression, jealousy, repentance, qualms, and all other
shackles of the spirit whatsoever, had fled discomfited.
Now at last he saw his late exploits in their true heroic
proportions, and realized his marvellous good fortune
in satisfying his aspirations so gloriously. Raising
his glass once more, he cried--
"Dear Bonker, my heart he does go out to you!
Ach, you have given me soch a treat. Vunce more I
schmell ze mountain dew--I hear ze pipes--I gaze into
loffly eyes--I am ze noblest part of mineself! Bonker,
I vill defy ze mozzer of my wife! I drink to you, my
friend, mit hip--hip--hip--hooray!"
"You have more than repaid me," replied the Count,
"by the spectacle you have provided. Dear Baron,
it was a panorama calculated to convert a continent!"
"To vat should it convert him?" inquired the Baron
"To a creed even merrier than Socialism, more
convivial than Total Abstinence, and more perfectly
designed for human needs than Esperanto--the gospel
of 'Cheer up.' "
"Sheerup?" repeated the Baron, whose acquaintance
with the English words used in commerce and war
was singularly intimate, but who was occasionally at
fault with terms of less portentous import.
"A name given to the bridge that crosses the Slough
of Despond," explained the Count.
The Baron still seemed puzzled. "I am not any
wiser," said he.
"Never cease thanking Heaven for that!" cried
Bunker fervently. "The man who once dubs himself
wise is the jest of gods and the plague of mortals."
With this handsome tribute to the character and
attainments of one of these heroes, and the Baronial
roar that congratulated the other, our chronicle may
fittingly leave them; since the mutual admiration of
two such catholic critics is surely more significant
than the colder approval of a mere historian.
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