Part 5 out of 11
and fretted himself for the next half hour into an impatience which
only found vent in the prosaic and everyday performance of dressing
himself. Ah!--if those who consider a Prime Minister great and exalted,
could only see him as he pulls on his trousers, and fastens his shirt
collar, what a disillusion would be promptly effected! Especially if,
like the Marquis de Lutera, he happened to be over-stout, and difficult
to clothe! This particular example of Premiership was an ungainly man;
his proud position could not make him handsome, nor lend true dignity
to his deportment. Old Mother Nature has a way of marking her
specimens, if we will learn to recognize the signs she sets on certain
particular 'makes' of man. The Marquis de Lutera was 'made' to be a
stock-jobber, not a statesman. His bent was towards the material gain
and good of himself, more than the advantage of his country. His
reasoning was a slight variation of Falstaff's logical misprisal of
honour. He argued; "If I am poor, then what is it to me that others are
rich? If I am neglected, what do I care that the people are prosperous?
Let me but secure and keep those certain millions of money which shall
ensure to me and my heritage a handsome endowment, not only for my
life, but for all lives connected with mine which come after me,--and
my 'patriotism' is satisfied!"
He had just finished insinuating himself by degrees into his morning
coat, when his servant entered.
"Well!" he asked impatiently.
"Mr. Jost is coming round at once, Excellency. He ordered his carriage
directly he read your note."
"He sent no answer?"
"When he arrives, show him into the library."
The Marquis thereupon left his sleeping apartment, and descended to the
library himself. The sun was streaming brilliantly into the room, and
the windows, thrown wide open, showed a cheerful display of lawn and
flower-garden, filled with palms and other semi-tropical shrubs, for
though the Premier's house was in the centre of the fashionable quarter
of the city, it had the advantage of extensive and well-shaded grounds.
A law had been passed in the late King's time against the felling of
trees, it having been scientifically proved that trees in a certain
quantity, not only purify the air from disease germs affecting the
human organization, but also save the crops from many noxious insect-
pests and poisonous fungi. Having learned the lesson at last, that the
Almighty may be trusted to know His own business, and that trees are
intended for wider purposes than mere timber, the regulations were
strict concerning them. No one could fell a tree on his own ground
without, first of all, making a statement at the National Office of
Aboriculture as to the causes for its removal; and only if these causes
were found satisfactory, could a stamped permission be obtained for
cutting it down or 'lifting' it to other ground. The result of this
sensible regulation was that in the hottest days of summer the city was
kept cool and shady by the rich foliage branching out everywhere, and
in some parts running into broad avenues and groves of great thickness
and beauty. The Marquis de Lutera's garden had an additional charm in a
beautiful alley of orange trees, and the fragrance wafted into his room
from the delicious blossoms would have refreshed and charmed anyone
less troubled, worried and feverish, than he was at the time. But this
morning the very sunshine annoyed him;--never a great lover of Nature,
the trees and flowers forming the outlook on which his heavy eyes
rested were almost an affront. The tranquil beauty of an ever renewed
and renewing Nature is always particularly offensive to an uneasy
conscience and an exhausted mind.
The sound of wheels grinding along the outer drive brought a faint
gleam of satisfaction on his brooding features, and he turned sharply
round, as the door of the library was thrown open to admit Jost, whose
appearance, despite his jaunty manner, betokened evident confusion and
"Good-morning, Mr. Jost!" said the Marquis stiffly, as his confidential
man ushered in the visitor,--then when the servant had retired and
closed the door, he added quickly--"Now what does this mean?"
Jost dropped into a chair, and pulling out a handkerchief wiped the
perspiration from his brow.
"I don't know!" he said helplessly; "I don't know what it means! I have
told you the truth! A man came to see me late last night, saying he was
sent by you on urgent business. He said you wished me to explain the
position we held, and the amount of the interests we had at stake, as
there were grave discoveries pending, and complexities likely to ensue.
He gave his name--there is his card!"
And with a semi-groan, he threw down the bit of pasteboard in question.
The Marquis snatched it up.
"'Pasquin Leroy'! I never heard the name in my life," he said fiercely.
"Jost, you have been done! You mean to tell me you were such a fool as
to trust an entire stranger with the whole financial plan of campaign,
and that you were credulous enough to believe that he came from me--me
--De Lutera,--without any credentials?"
"Credentials!" exclaimed Jost; "Do you suppose I would have received
him at all had credentials been lacking? Not I! He brought me the most
sure and confidential sign of your trust that could be produced--your
The Marquis staggered back, as though Jost's words had been so many
direct blows on the chest,--his countenance turned a livid white.
"My signet-ring!" he repeated,--and almost unconsciously he looked at
the hand from which the great jewel was missing; "My signet!"--Then he
forced a smile--"Jost, I repeat, you have been done!--doubly fooled!--
no one could possibly have obtained my signet,--for at this very
moment it is on the hand of the King!"
Jost rose slowly out of his chair, his eyes protruding out of his head,
his jaw almost dropping in the extremity of his amazement.
"The King!"--he gasped--"The King!"
"Yes, man, the King!" repeated De Lutera impatiently,--"Only yesterday
morning his Majesty, having mislaid his own ring for the moment,
borrowed mine just before starting on his yachting cruise. How you
stare! You have been fooled!--that is perfectly plain and evident!"
"The King!" repeated Jost stupidly--"Then the man who came to me last
night--" He broke off, unable to find any words for the expression of
the thoughts which began to terrify him.
"Well!--the man who came to you last night," echoed the Marquis,--"He
was not the King, I suppose, was he?" And he laughed derisively.
"No--he was not the King," said Jost slowly; "I know _him_ well
enough! But it might have been someone in the King's service! For he
knew, or said he knew, the King's intentions in a certain matter
affecting both you and Carl Pérousse,--and in a more distant way,
myself--and warned me of a coming change in the policy. Ah!--it is
now your turn to stare, Marquis! You had best be on your guard, for if
the person who came to me last night was not your messenger, he was the
King's spy! And, in that case, we are lost!"
The Marquis paced the room with long uneven strides,--his mind was
greatly agitated, but he had no wish to show his perturbation too
openly to one whom he considered as a mere tool in his service.
"I know," went on Jost emphatically, "that the ring he wore was yours!
I noticed it particularly while I was talking to him. It would take a
long time and exceptional skill to make any imitation of that sapphire.
There is no doubt that it was your signet!"
The Premier halted suddenly in his nervous walk.
"You told him the whole scheme, you say?"
"And his reply?"
"Was, that the King had discovered it, and proposed insisting on an
"Well! Then he warned me to look out for myself,--as anyone connected
with Carl Pérousse's financial deal would inevitably be ruined during
the next few weeks."
"Who is going to work the ruin?" asked the Marquis with a sneer; "Do
you not know that if the King dared to give an opinion on a national
crisis, he would be dethroned?"
"There are the People--" began Jost.
"The People! Human emmets--born for crushing under the heel of power! A
couple of 'leaders' in your paper, Jost, can guide the fool-mob any
"That depends!" said Jost hesitatingly; "If what the fellow said last
night be true--"
"It is not true!" said the Premier authoritatively. "We are going on in
precisely the same course as originally arranged. Neither King nor
People can interfere! Go home, and write an article about love of
country, Jost! You look in the humour for it!"
The Jew's expression was anything but amiable.
"What is to be done about last night?" he asked sullenly.
"Nothing at present. I am going to the palace at two o'clock--I shall
see the King, and find out whether my signet is lost, stolen or
strayed. Meanwhile, keep your own counsel! If you have been betrayed
into giving your confidence to a spy in the foreign service, as I
imagine--(for the King has never employed a spy, and is not likely to
do so), and he makes known his information, it can be officially
denied. The official denial of a Government, Jost, like charity, has
before now covered a multitude of sins!"
An instinctive disinclination for further conversation brought the
interview between them abruptly to a close, and Jost, full of a
suspicious alarm, which he was ashamed to confess, drove off to his
newspaper offices. The Premier, meantime, though harassed by secret
anxiety, managed to display his usual frigid equanimity, when, after
Jost's departure, his private secretary arrived at the customary time,
to transact under his orders the correspondence and business of the
day. This secretary, Eugčne Silvano by name, was a quiet self-contained
young man, highly ambitious, and keenly interested in the political
situation, and, though in the Premier's service, not altogether of his
way of thinking. He called the Marquis's attention now to a letter that
had missed careful reading on the previous day. It was from the Vicar-
General of the Society of Jesus, expressing surprise and indignation
that the King should have refused the Society's request for such land
as was required to be devoted to religious and educational purposes,
and begging that the Premier would exert his influence with the monarch
to persuade him to withdraw or mitigate his refusal.
"I can do nothing;" said the Marquis irritably,--"the lands they want
belong to the Crown. The King can dispose of them as he thinks best."
The secretary set the letter aside.
"Shall I reply to that effect?" he enquired.
The Marquis nodded.
"I know," said Silvano presently with a slight hesitation, "that you
never pay any attention to anonymous communications. Otherwise, there
is one here which might merit consideration."
"What does it concern?"
"A revolutionary meeting," replied Silvano, "where it appears the
woman, Lotys, is to speak."
The Premier shrugged his shoulders and smiled. "You must enlighten me!
Who is the woman Lotys?"
"Ah, that no one exactly knows!" replied the secretary. "A strange
character, without doubt, but--" He paused and spoke more
emphatically--"She has power!"
Lutera gave a gesture of irritation.
"Bah! Over whom does she exercise it. Over one man or many?"
"Over one half the population at least," responded Silvano, quietly,
turning over a few papers without looking up.
The Marquis stared at him, slightly amused.
"Have you taken statistics of the lady's followers," he asked; "Are you
one of them yourself?"
Silvano raised his eyes,--clear dark eyes, deep-set and steady in their
"Were I so, I should not be here;" he replied--"But I know how she
speaks; I know what she does! and from a purely political point of view
I think it unwise to ignore her."
"What is this anonymous communication you speak of?" asked the Premier,
after a pause.
"Oh, it is brief enough," answered Silvano unfolding a paper, and he
"To the Marquis de Lutera, Premier.
"Satisfy yourself that those who meet on Saturday night where Lotys
speaks, have already decided on your downfall!"
"Oracular!" said the Marquis carelessly;--"To decide is one thing--to
fulfil the decision is another! Lotys, whoever she may be, can preach
to her heart's content, for all I care! I am rather surprised, Silvano,
that a man of your penetration and intelligence should attach any
importance to revolutionary meetings, which are always going on more or
less in every city under the sun. Why, it was but the other day, the
police were sent to disperse a crowd which had gathered round the
fanatic, Sergius Thord; only the people had sufficient sense to
disperse themselves. A street-preacher or woman ranter is like a cheap-
jack or a dispenser of quack medicines;--the mob gathers to such
persons out of curiosity, not conviction."
The secretary made no reply, and went on with other matters awaiting
At a few minutes before two o'clock the Marquis entered his carriage,
and was driven to the palace. There he learned that the King was
receiving, more or less unofficially, certain foreign ambassadors and
noblemen of repute in the Throne-room. A fine band was playing military
music in the great open quadrangle in front of the palace, where
pillars of rose-marble, straight as the stems of pine-trees, held up
fabulous heraldic griffins, clasping between their paws the country's
shield. Flags were flying,--fountains flashing,--gay costumes gleamed
here and there,--and the atmosphere was full of brilliancy and gaiety,
--yet the Marquis, on his way to the audience-chamber, was rendered
uncomfortably aware of one of those mysterious impressions which are
sometimes conveyed to us, we know not how, but which tend to prepare us
for surprise and disappointment. Some extra fibre of sensitiveness in
his nervous organization was acutely touched, for he actually fancied
he saw slighting and indifferent looks on the faces of the various
flunkeys and retainers who bowed him along the different passages, or
ushered him up the state stairway, when--as a matter of fact,--all was
precisely the same as usual, and it was only his own conscience that
gave imaginary hints of change. Arrived at the ante-chamber to the
Throne-room, he was surprised to find Prince Humphry there, talking
animatedly to the King's physician, Professor Von Glauben. The Prince
seemed unusually excited; his face was flushed, and his eyes
extraordinarily brilliant, and as he saw the Premier, he came forward,
extending his hand, and almost preventing Lutera's profound bow and
"Have you business with the King, Marquis?" enquired the young man with
a light laugh. "If you have, you must do as I am doing,--wait his
The Premier lifted his eyebrows, smiled deprecatingly, and murmuring
something about pressure of State affairs, shook hands with Von
Glauben, whose countenance, as usual, presented an impenetrable mask to
"It is rather a new experience for me," continued the Prince, "to be
treated as a kind of petitioner on the King's favour, and kept in
attendance,--but no matter!--novelty is always pleasing! I have been
cooling my heels here for more than an hour. Von Glauben, too, has been
waiting;--contrary to custom, he has not even been permitted to enquire
after his Majesty's health this morning!"
Lutera maintained his former expression of polite surprise, but said
nothing. Instinct warned him to be sparing of words lest he should
betray his own private anxiety.
The Prince went on carelessly.
"Majesty takes humours like other men, and must, more than other men, I
suppose, be humoured! Yet there is to my mind something unnatural in a
system which causes several human beings to be dependent on another's
"You will not say so, Sir, when you yourself are King," observed the
"Long distant be the day!" returned the Prince. "Indeed, I hope it may
never be! I would rather be the simplest peasant ploughing the fields,
and happy in my own way, than suffer the penalties and pains
surrounding the possession of a Throne!"
"Only," put in Von Glauben sententiously, "you would have to take into
consideration, Sir, whether the peasant ploughing the fields is happy
in his own way. I have made 'the peasant ploughing the fields' a
special form of study,--and I have always found him a remarkably
discontented, often ill-fed--and therefore unhealthy individual."
"We are all discontented, if it comes to that!" said Prince Humphry
with a light laugh,--"Except myself! I am perfectly contented!"
"You have reason to be, Sir," said Lutera, bowing low.
"You are quite right, Marquis!--I have! More reason than perhaps you
are aware of!"
His eyes lightened and flashed; he looked unusually handsome, and the
Premier's shifty glance rested on him for a moment with a certain
curiosity. But he had not been accustomed to pay very much attention to
the words or actions of the Heir-Apparent, considering him to be a very
'ordinary' young man, without either the brilliancy or the ambition
which should mark him out as worthy of his exalted station. And before
any further conversation could take place, Sir Roger de Launay entered
the room and announced to the Marquis that the King was ready to
receive him. Prince Humphry turning sharply round, faced the equerry.
"I am still to wait?" he enquired, with a slight touch of hauteur.
Sir Roger bowed respectfully.
"Your instant desire to see the King, your father, Sir, was
communicated to his Majesty at once," he replied. "The present delay is
by his Majesty's own orders. I much regret----"
"Regret nothing, my dear Sir Roger," he said. "My patience does not
easily tire! Marquis, I trust your business will not take long?"
"I shall endeavour to make it as brief as possible, Sir," replied the
Premier deferentially as he withdrew.
It was with a certain uneasiness, however, in his mind that he followed
Sir Roger to the Throne-room. There was no possibility of exchanging so
much as a word with the equerry; besides, De Launay was not a talking
man. Passing between the lines of attendants, pages, lords-in-waiting
and others, he was conscious of a certain loss of his usual self-
possession as he found himself at last in the presence of the King,--
who, attired in brilliant uniform, was conversing graciously and
familiarly with a select group of distinguished individuals whose
costume betokened them as envoys or visitors from foreign courts in the
diplomatic service. Perceiving the Premier, however, he paused in his
conversation, and standing quite still awaited his approach. Then he
extended his hand, with his usual kindly condescension. Instinctively
Lutera's eyes searched that hand, with the expression of a guilty soul
searching for a witness to its innocence. There shone the great
sapphire--his own signet--and to his excited fancy its blue glimmer
emitted a witch-like glow of menace. Meanwhile the King was speaking.
"You are just a few minutes late, Marquis!" he said; "Had you come a
little earlier, you would have met M. Pérousse, who has matters of
import to discuss with you." Here he moved aside from those immediately
in hearing. "It is perhaps as well you should know I have 'vetoed' his
war propositions. It will rest now with you, to call a Council to-
morrow,--the next day,--or,--when you please!"
Completely taken aback, the Premier was silent for a moment, biting his
lips to keep down the torrent of rage and disappointment that
threatened to break out in violent and unguarded speech.
"Sir!--Your Majesty! Pardon me, but surely you cannot fail to
understand that in a Constitution like ours, the course decided upon by
Ministers _cannot_ be vetoed by the King?"
The monarch smiled gravely.
"'Cannot' is a weak word, Marquis! I do not include it in my
vocabulary! I fully grant you that a plan of campaign decided upon by
Ministers as you say, has _not_ been 'vetoed' by a reigning
sovereign for at least a couple of centuries,--and the custom has
naturally fallen into desuetude,--but if it should be found at any
time,--(I do not say it _has_ been found) that Ministers are
engaged in a seriously mistaken policy, and are being misled by the
doubtful propositions of private financial speculators, so much as to
consider their own advantage more important and valuable than the
prosperity of a country or the good of a people,--then a king who does
_not_ veto the same is a worse criminal than those he tacitly
supports and encourages!"
Lutera turned a deadly white,--his eyes fell before the clear, straight
gaze of his Sovereign,--but he said not a word.
"A king's 'veto' has before now brought about a king's dethronement,"
went on the monarch; "Should it do so in my case, I shall not greatly
care,--but if things trend that way, I shall lay my thoughts openly
before the People for their judgment. They seldom or never hear the
Sovereign whom they pay to keep, speak to them on a matter gravely
affecting their national destinies,--but they shall hear _me_,--if
The Marquis moistened his dry lips, and essayed to pronounce a few
"Your Majesty will run considerable risk----"
"Of being judged as something more than a mere dummy," said the King--
"Or a fool set on a throne to be fooled! True! But the risk can only
involve life,--and life is immaterial when weighed in the balance
against Honour. By the way, Marquis, permit me to return to you this
valuable gem";--Here drawing off the Premier's sapphire signet, he
handed it to him--"Almost I envy it! It is a fine stone!--and worthy of
its high service!"
"Your Majesty has increased its value by wearing it," said Lutera,
recovering a little of his strayed equanimity in his determination to
probe to the bottom of the mystery which perplexed his mind. "May I
"Anything in reason, my dear Marquis," returned the King lightly, and
smiling as he spoke. "A thousand questions if you like!"
"One will suffice," answered the Premier. "I had an unpleasant dream
last night about this very ring----"
"Ah!" ejaculated the King; "Did you dream that I had dropped it in the
sea on my way to The Islands yesterday?"
He spoke jestingly, yet with a kindly air, and Lutera gained courage to
look boldly up and straight into his eyes.
"I did not dream that you had lost it, Sir," he answered--"but that it
had been stolen from your hand, and used by a spy for unlawful
A strange expression crossed the King's face,--a look of inward
illumination; he smiled, but there was a quiver of strong feeling under
the smile. Advancing a step, he laid his hand with a light, half-
warning pressure on the Premier's shoulder.
"Dreams always go by contraries, Marquis!" he said;--"I assure you, on
my honour as a king and a gentleman, that from the moment you lent it
to me, till now,--when I return it to you,--_that ring has never left
The Royal 'at home' was soon over. Many of those who had the felicity
of breathing in the King's presence that afternoon remarked upon his
Majesty's evident good health and high spirits, while others as freely
commented on the unapproachableness and irritability of the Marquis de
Lutera. Sir Walter Langton, the great English traveller, who was taking
his leave of the Sovereign that day, being bound on an expedition to
the innermost recesses of Africa, was not altogether agreeably
impressed by the Premier, whom he met on this occasion for the first
and only time. They had begun their acquaintance by talking
generalities,--but drifted by degrees into the dangerous circle of
politics, and were skirting round the edge of various critical
questions of the day, when the Marquis said abruptly:
"An autocracy would not flourish in your country, I presume, Sir
Walter? The British people have been too long accustomed to sing that
they 'never, never will be slaves.' Your Government is really more or
less of a Republic."
"All Governments are so in these days, I imagine," replied Langton.
"Autocracy on the part of a monarch is nowhere endured, save in
Russia,--and what is Russia? A huge volcano, smouldering with fire, and
ever threatening to break out in flame and engulf the Throne! Monarchs
were not always wisdom personified in olden times,--and I venture to
consider them nowadays less wise and more careless than ever. Only a
return to almost barbaric ignorance and superstition would tolerate any
complete monarchical authority in these present times of progress. It
is only the long serfdom of Russia that hinders the triumph of Liberty
there, as elsewhere."
The Marquis listened eagerly, and with evident satisfaction.
"I agree with you!" he said. "You consider, then, that in no country,
under any circumstances, could the people be expected to obey their
"Certainly not! Even Rome, with its visible spiritual Head and
Sovereign, has no real power. It imagines it has; but let it make any
decided step to ensnare the liberties of the people at large, and the
result would be somewhat astonishing! Personally--" and he smiled
gravely--"I have often thought that my own country would be very much
benefited by a couple of years existence under an autocrat--an autocrat
like Cromwell, for example. A man strong and fierce, intelligent and
candid,--who would expose shams and destroy abuses,--who would have no
mercy on either religious, social, or political fraud, and who would
perform the part of the necessary hard broom for sweeping the National
house. But, unfortunately, we have no such man. You have,--in your
The Premier heard this name with unconcealed amazement.
"Sergius Thord! Why he is a mere fanatic----"
"Pardon me!" interrupted Sir Walter,--"so was Cromwell!"
"But, my dear sir!" remonstrated the Marquis smilingly,--"Is it
possible that you really consider Sergius Thord any sort of an
influence in this country? If you do, I assure you you are greatly
"I think not," responded Sir Walter quietly; "With every respect for
you, Marquis, I believe I am not mistaken! Books written by Sergius
Thord are circulating in their thousands all over the world--his
speeches are reported not only here, but in journals which probably you
never hear of, in far-off countries,--in short, his propaganda is
simply enormous. He is a kind of new Rousseau, without,--so far as I
can learn,--Rousseau's private vices. He is a man I much wished to see
during my stay here, but I have not had the opportunity of finding him
out. He is an undoubted genius,--but I need not remind you, Marquis,
that a man is never a prophet in his own country! The world's
'celebrity' is always eyed with more or less suspicion as a strange
sort of rogue or vagabond in his own native town or village!"
At that moment, the King, having concluded a conversation with certain
of his guests, who were thereupon leaving the Throne-room, approached
them. He had not spoken a word to the Premier since returning him his
signet-ring, but now he said:
"Marquis, I was almost forgetting a special request I have to make of
"A request from you is a command, Sir!" replied Lutera with
hypocritical deference and something of a covert sneer, which did not
escape the quick observation of Sir Walter Langton.
"In certain cases it should be so," returned the King tranquilly; "And
in this you will probably make it so! I have received a volume of poems
by one Paul Zouche. His genius appears to me deserving of
encouragement. A grant of a hundred golden pieces a year will not be
too much for his hundred best poems. Will you see to this?"
The Marquis bowed.
"I have never heard of the man in question," he replied hesitatingly.
"Probably not," returned the King smiling;--"How often do Premiers read
poetry, or notice poets? Scarcely ever, if we may credit history! But
in this case----"
"I will make myself immediately acquainted with Paul Zouche, and inform
him of your Majesty's gracious intention," the Marquis hastened to say.
"It is quite possible he may refuse the grant," continued the King;
"Sometimes--though seldom--poets are prouder than Prime Ministers!"
With a brief nod of dismissal he turned away, inviting Sir Walter
Langton to accompany him, and there was nothing more for the Marquis to
do, save to return even as he had come, with two pieces of information
puzzling his brain,--one, that the King's 'veto' had stopped a
declaration of war,--unless,--which was a very remote contingency,--he
and his party could persuade the people to go against the King,--the
other, that some clever spy, with the assistance of a fraudulent
imitation of his signet-ring, had become aware of the financial
interests involved in a private speculation depending on the intended
war, which included himself, Carl Pérousse, and two or three other
members of the Ministry. And, out of these two facts might possibly
arise a whole train of misfortune, ruin and disgrace to those
It was considerably past three o'clock in the afternoon when the King,
retiring to his own private cabinet, desired Sir Roger de Launay to
inform Prince Humphry that he was now prepared to receive him. Sir
Roger hesitated a moment before going to fulfil the command. The King
looked at him with an indulgent smile.
"Things are moving too quickly, you think, Roger?" he queried. "Upon my
soul, I am beginning to find a new zest in life! I feel some twenty
years younger since I saw the face of the beautiful Gloria yesterday!
We must promote her sailor husband, and bring his pearl of the sea to
"It was on this very subject, Sir, that Von Glauben wished to see your
Majesty the first thing this morning," said Sir Roger;--"But you
refused him so early an audience. Yet you will remember that yesterday
you told him you wished for an explanation of his acquaintance with
this girl. He was ready and prepared to give it, but was prevented,--
not only by your refusal to see him,--but also by the Prince."
Drawing up a chair to the open window, the King seated himself
deliberately, and lit a cigar.
"Presumably the Prince knows more than the Professor!" he said calmly;
"We will hear both, and give Royalty the precedence! Tell Prince
Humphry I am waiting for him."
Sir Roger withdrew, and in another two or three minutes returned,
throwing open the door and ushering in the Prince, who entered with a
quick step, and brief, somewhat haughty salutation. Puffing leisurely
at his cigar, the King glanced his son up and down smilingly, but said
not a word. The Prince stood waiting for his father to speak, till at
last, growing impatient and waiving ceremony, he began.
"I came, Sir, to spare Von Glauben your reproaches,--which he does not
merit. You accused him yesterday, he tells me, of betraying your trust;
he has neither betrayed your trust nor mine! I alone am to blame in
"In what matter?" enquired the King quietly.
Prince Humphry coloured deeply, and then grew pale. There was a ray of
defiance in the light of his fine eyes, but the tumult within his soul
showed itself only in an added composure of his features.
"You wish me to speak plainly, I suppose," he said;--"though you know
already what I mean. I repeat,--I, and I alone, am to blame,--for--for
anything that seemed strange to you yesterday, when you met Von Glauben
at The Islands."
The King's serious face lightened with a gleam of laughter.
"Nothing seemed very strange to me, Humphry," he said, "except the one
fact that I found Von Glauben,--whom I supposed to be studying
scientific problems,--engaged in studying a woman instead! A very
beautiful woman, too, who ought to be something better than a sailor's
wife. And I do not understand, as yet, what he has to do with her,
unless--" Here he paused and went on more slowly--"Unless he is, as I
suspect, acting for you in some way, and trying to tempt the fair
creature with the prospect of a prince's admiration while the sailor
husband is out of the way! Remember, I know nothing--I merely hazard a
guess. You are an habitué of The Islands;--though I learned, on enquiry
of the interesting old gentleman who was good enough to be my host,
Réné Ronsard, that nobody had ever seen you there. They had only seen
your yacht constantly cruising about the bay. This struck me as
curious, I must confess. Some of your men were well known,--
particularly one,--the husband of the pretty girl I saw. Her name, it
seems, is Gloria,--and I must admit that it entirely suits her. I can
hardly imagine that if you have visited The Islands as often as you
seem to have done, you can have escaped seeing her. She is too
beautiful to remain unknown to you--particularly if her husband is, as
they tell me, in your service. I asked her to give me his name, but she
refused it point-blank. I do not wish to accuse you of an amour, which
you are perhaps quite innocent of--but certain things taken in their
conjunction look suspicious,--and I would remind you that honour in
princes,--as in all men,--should come before self-indulgence."
"I entirely agree with you, Sir!" said the Prince, composedly; "And in
the present case honour has been my first thought, as it will be my
last. Gloria is my wife!"
"Your wife!" The King rose, his tall figure looking taller, his eyes
sparkling with anger from under their deep-set brows. "Your wife! Are
you mad, Humphry! You!----the Heir-Apparent to the Throne! You have
"I have!" replied the Prince, and the words now came coursing rapidly
from his lips in his excitement--"I love her! I love her with all my
heart and soul!--and I have given her the only shield and safeguard
love in this world can give! I have married her in my own name--the
name of our family,--which neither she nor any of the humble folk out
yonder have ever heard--but she is wedded to me as fast as Church and
Law can make it,--and there is only one wrong connected with my vows to
her--she does not know who I am. I have deceived her there,--but in
nothing else. Had I told her of my rank, she would never have married
me. But now she is mine,--and for her sake I am willing to resign all
pretension to the Throne in favour of my brother Rupert. Let it be so,
I implore you! Let me live my own life of love and liberty in my own
Rigid as a statue the King stood,--his lips were set hard and his eyes
lowered. Long buried thoughts rose up from the innermost recesses of
his being, and rushed upon his brain in a deluge of remembrance and
regret. What!--after all these years, had the ghost of his first love,
the little self-slain maiden of his boyhood's dream, risen to avenge
herself in the life of his son? The strangeness of the comparison
between himself as he was now, and the eager passionate youth he was
then, smote him with a sense of sharp pain. Away in those far-off days
he had believed in love as the chief glory of existence; he had
considered it as the poets would have us consider it,--a saving,
binding, holding and immortal influence, which leads to all pure and
holy things, even unto God Himself, the Highest and Holiest of all.
When he lost that belief, how great was his loss!--when he ceased to
experience that pure idealistic emotion, how bitter became the monotony
of living! Rapidly the stream of memory swept over his innermost soul
and shook his nerves, and it was only through a strong effort of self-
repression that at last, lifting up his eyes he fixed them on the
flushed face of his son, and said in measured tones.
"This is a very unexpected and very unhappy confession of yours,
Humphry! You have acted most unwisely!--you have been disloyal to me,
who am not only your father, but your King! You have proved yourself
unworthy of the nation's trust,--and you have deceived, more cruelly
than you think, an innocent and too-confiding girl. I shall not dispute
the legality of your marriage;--that would not be worth my while. You
have no doubt taken every step to make it as binding as possible;--
however, that is but a trifling matter in your case. You know that such
a marriage is, and can only be morganatic;--and as the immediate
consequence of your amazing folly, a suitable Royal alliance must be
arranged for you at once. The nuptials can be celebrated with the
attainment of your majority next year."
He spoke coldly and calmly, but his heart was beating with mingled
wrath and pain, and even while he thus pronounced her doom, the
exquisite face of Gloria floated before him like the vision of a
perfect innocence ruined and betrayed. He realised that he possibly had
an unusual character to reckon with in her,--and he had lately become
fully aware that there was as much determination and latent force in
the disposition of his son, as in the mother who had given him birth.
Pale and composed, the young Prince heard him in absolute silence, and
when he had finished, still waited a moment, lest any further word
should fall from the lips of his parent and Sovereign. Then he spoke in
quite as measured, cold and tranquil a manner as the King had done.
"I need not remind you, Sir, that the days of tyranny are over. You
cannot force me into bigamy against my will!"
His father uttered a quick oath.
"Bigamy! Who talks of bigamy?"
"You do, Sir! I have married a beautiful and innocent woman,--she is my
lawful wife in the sight of God and man; yet you coolly propose to give
me a second wife under the 'morganatic' law, which, as I view it, is
merely a Royal excuse for bigamy! Now I have no wish to excuse myself
for marrying Gloria,--I consider she has honoured me far more than I
have honoured her. She has given me all her youth, her life, her love,
her beauty and her trust, and whatever I am worth in this world shall
be hers and hers only. I am quite prepared"--and he smiled somewhat
sarcastically,--"to make it a test case, and appeal to the law of the
realm. If that law tolerates a crime in princes, which it would punish
in commoners, then I shall ask the People to judge me!"
"Indeed!" And the King surveyed him with a touch of ironical amusement
and vague admiration for his audacity. "And suppose the people fail to
appreciate the romance of the situation?"
"Then I shall resign my nationality;" said the young man coolly;
"Because a country that legalises a wrong done to the innocent, is not
worth belonging to! Concerning the Throne,--as I told you before--I am
ready to abandon it at once. I would rather lose all the kingdoms of
the world than lose Gloria!"
There was a pause, during which the King took two or three slow paces
up and down the room. At last he turned and faced his son; his eyes
were softer--his look more kindly.
"You are very much in love just now, Humphry!" he said; "And I do not
wish to be too hard on you in this matter, for there can be no question
as to the extraordinary beauty of the girl you call your wife----"
"The girl who _is_ my wife," interrupted the Prince decisively.
"Very well; so let it be!" said his father calmly; "The girl who
_is_ your wife--for the present! I will give you time--plenty of
time--to consider the position reasonably!"
"I have already considered it," he declared.
"No doubt! You think you have considered it. But if _you_ do not
want to meditate any further upon your marriage problem, you must allow
me the leisure to do so, as one who has seen more of life than you,--as
one who takes things philosophically--and also--as one who was young--
once;--who loved--once;--and who had his own private dreams of
happiness--once!" He rested a hand on his son's shoulder, and looked
him full and fairly in the eyes. "Let me advise you, Humphry, to go
abroad! Travel round the world for a year!"
The Prince was silent,--but his eyes did not flinch from his father's
steady gaze. He seemed to be thinking rapidly; but his thoughts were
not betrayed by any movement or expression that could denote anxiety.
He was alert, calm, and perfectly self-possessed.
"I have no objection," he said at last; "A year is soon past!"
"It is," agreed the King, with a sense of relief at his ready assent;
"But by the end of that time----"
"Things will be precisely as they are now," said the Prince tranquilly;
"Gloria will still be my wife, and I shall still be her husband!"
The King gave a gesture of annoyance.
"Whatever the result," he said, "she cannot, and will not be Crown
"She will not envy that destiny in my brother Rupert's wife," said
Prince Humphry quietly; "Nor shall I envy my brother Rupert!"
"You talk like a fool, Humphry!" said the King impatiently; "You cannot
resign your Heir-Apparency to the Throne, without giving a reason;--and
so making known your marriage."
"That is precisely what I wish to do," returned the young man. "I have
no intention of keeping my marriage secret. I am proud of it! Gloria is
mine--the joy of my soul--the very pulse of my life! Why should I hide
my heart's light under a cloud?"
His voice vibrated with tender feeling,--his handsome features were
softened into finer beauty by the passion which invigorated him, and
his father looking at him, thought for a moment that so might the young
gods of the fabled Parnassus have appeared in the height of their
symbolic power and charm. His own eyes grew melancholy, as he studied
this vigorous incarnation of ardent love and passionate resolve; and a
slight sigh escaped him unconsciously.
"You forget!" he said slowly, "you have, up to the present deceived the
girl. She does not know who you are. When she hears that you have
played a part,--that you are no sailor in the service of the Crown
Prince, as you have apparently represented yourself to be, but the
Crown Prince himself, what will she say to you? Perhaps she will hate
you for the deception, as much as she now loves you!"
A shadow darkened the young Prince's open countenance, but it soon
"She will never hate me!" he said,--"For when I do tell her the truth,
it will be when I have resigned all the ridiculous pomp and
circumstance of my position for her sake----"
"Perhaps she will not let you resign it!" said the King; "She may be as
unselfish as she is beautiful!"
There was a slight, very slight note of derision in his voice, and the
Prince caught it up at once.
"You wrong yourself, Sir, more than you wrong my wife by any lurking
misjudgment of her," he said, with singularly masterful and expressive
dignity. "As her husband, and the guardian of her honour, I also claim
her obedience. What I desire is her law!"
The King laughed a little forcedly.
"Evidently you have found the miracle of the ages, Humphry!" he said;
"A woman who obeys her master! Well! Let us talk no more of it. You
have been guilty of an egregious folly,--but nothing can make your
marriage otherwise than morganatic. And when the State considers a
Royal alliance for you advisable, you will be compelled to obey the
country's wish,--or else resign the Throne."
"I shall obey the country's wish most decidedly," said the Prince,
"unless it asks me to commit bigamy,--as you suggest,--in which case I
shall decline! Three or four Royal sinners of this class I know of, who
for all their pains have not succeeded in winning the attachment of
their people, either for themselves or their heirs. Their people know
what they are, well enough, and despise their fraudulent position as
heartily as I do! I am perfectly convinced that if it were put to the
vote of the country, no people in the world would wish their future
monarch to be a bigamist!"
"How you stick to a word and a phrase!" exclaimed the King irritably;
"The morganatic rule does away with the very idea of bigamy!"
"How do you prove it, Sir?" queried the Prince. "Bigamy is the act of
contracting a second marriage while the first partner is alive. It is
punished severely in commoners;--why should Royalty escape?"
The King began to laugh. This boy was developing 'discursive
philosophies' such as his own old tutor had abhorred.
"Upon my life, I do not know, Humphry!" he declared; "You must ask the
departed shades of those who made themselves responsible for kingship
in the first place. Personally, I do not come under the law. I have
only married once myself!"
His son looked full at him;--and the intensity of that look affected
and unsteadied his usual calm nerves. But he was not one to shirk an
"You would say, Humphry, if your filial respect permitted you, that my
one marriage has been amplified in various other ways. Perfectly true!
When women lie down and ask you to walk over them, you do it if you are
a man and a king! When, on the contrary, women show you that they do
not care whether you are royal or the reverse, and despise you more
than admire you, you run after them for all you are worth! At least I
do! I always have done so. And, to a certain extent, it has been
amusing. But the limit is reached. I am growing old!" Here he took up
the cigar he had thrown aside when his son had first startled him by
the announcement of his marriage, and relighting it, began to smoke
peaceably. "I am, as I say, growing old. I have never found what is
called love. You have--or think you have! Enjoy your dream, Humphry--
but--take my advice and go abroad! See whether travel does not work a
change in you or,--in her!" He paused a moment, and while the Prince
still regarded him fixedly, added; "Will you tell the Queen?"
"I will leave you to tell her, Sir, with your permission;" replied the
Prince; "I cannot expect her sympathy."
"Von Glauben, then, is the only person you have trusted with your
"Von Glauben was no party to my marriage, Sir. I was married fully
three months before I told him. He was greatly vexed and troubled,--
but when he saw Gloria, he was glad."
"Glad!" echoed the King; "For what reason, pray?"
"I am afraid, Sir," said the young man with a smile, "his gladness was
but a part of his science! He said it was better for a prince to wed a
healthy and beautiful commoner, than the daughter of a hundred
With a movement of intense indignation, the monarch sprang up from the
chair in which he had just seated himself.
"Now, by Heaven!" he exclaimed; "Von Glauben goes too far! He shall
suffer for this!"
"Why?" queried the Prince calmly; "You know that what he says is
perfectly true. True? Why, there is scarcely a Royal house in the world
save our own, without its hereditary curse of disease or insanity. We
pay more attention to the breeding of horses than the breeding of
The plain candour and veracity of the statement, left no room for
"You have seen Gloria," went on the Prince; "You know she is the most
beautiful creature your eyes ever rested upon! Von Glauben told me you
were stricken dumb, and almost stupefied at sight of her----"
"Damn Von Glauben!" said the King.
His son smiled ever so slightly, but continued.
"You have made yourself acquainted with her history--"
"Yes!" said the King; "That she is a foundling picked up from the sea--
a castaway from a wreck!--no one knows who her father and mother were,
and yet you, in your raving madness and folly of love, would make her
Crown Princess and future Queen!"
The Prince went on unheedingly.
"She is beautiful--and the simple method of her bringing up has left
her unspoilt and innocent. She is ignorant of the world's ways--because
--" and his voice sank to a reverential tenderness--"God's ways are
more familiar to her!" He paused, but his father was silent; he
therefore went on. "She is healthy, strong, simple and true,--more
fit for a throne, if such were her destiny, than any daughter of any
Royal house I know of. Happy the nation that could call such a woman
"As I have already told you, Humphry," returned the King, "you are in
love!--with the love of a headstrong, passionate boy for a beautiful
and credulous girl. I do not propose to discuss the subject further.
You are willing to go abroad, you tell me,--then make your preparations
at once. I will select one or two necessary companions for you, and you
can start when you please. I would let Von Glauben accompany you, but--
for the present--I cannot well spare him. Your intended voyage must be
made public, and in this way nothing will be known of the manner in
which you have privately chosen to make a fool of yourself. I will
explain the situation to the Queen;--but beyond that I shall say
nothing. Let me know by to-morrow how soon you can arrange your
The Prince bowed composedly, and was about to retire, when the King
called him back.
"You do not ask my pardon, Humphry, for the offence you have
The young man flushed, and bit his lip.
"Sir, I cannot ask pardon for what I do not consider is wrong! I have
married the woman I love; and I intend to be faithful to her. You
married a woman you did not love--and the result, according to my
views, and also according to my experience of my mother and yourself,
is more or less regrettable. If I have offended you, I sincerely beg
your forgiveness, but you must first point out the nature of the
offence. Surely, it must be more gratifying to you to know that I
prefer to be a man of honour than a common seducer?"
The King looked at him, and his own eyes fell under his son's clear
"Enough! You may go!" he said briefly.
The door opened and closed again;--he was gone.
The King, left alone, fixed his eyes on the sparkling line of the sea,
brightly blue, and the flower-bordered terrace in front of him. Life
was becoming interesting;--the long burdensome monotony of years had
changed into a variety of contrasting scenes and colours,--and in
taking up the problem of human life as lived by others, more than as
lived by himself, he had entered on a new path, untrodden by
conventionalities, and leading, he knew not whither. But, having begun
to walk in it, he was determined to go on--and to use each new
experience as a guide for the rest of his actions. His son's marriage
with a commoner--one who indeed was not only a commoner but a
foundling--might after all lead to good, if properly taken in hand,--
and he resolved not to make the worst of it, but rather to let things
take their own natural course.
"For love," he said to himself somewhat bitterly, "in nine cases out of
ten ends in satiety,--marriage, in separation by mutual consent! Let
the boy travel for a year, and forget, if he can, the fair face which
captivates him,--for it is a fair face,--and more than that,--I
honestly believe it is the reflex of a fair soul!"
His eyes grew dreamy and absorbed; away on the horizon a little white
cloud, shaped like the outspread wings of a dove, hovered over the sea
just where The Islands lay.
"Yes! Let him see new scenes--strange lands, and varying customs; let
him hear modern opinions of life, instead of reading the philosophies
of Aurelius and Epictetus, and the poetry written ages ago by the dead
wild souls of the past;--and so he will forget--and all will be well!
While for Gloria herself,--and the old revolutionist Ronsard--we shall
doubtless find ways and means of consolation for them both!"
Thus he mused,--yet in the very midst of his thoughts the echoing
memory of a golden voice, round and rich with delight and triumph rang
in his ears:
"My King crown'd me!
And I and he
Are one till the world shall cease to be!"
THE PROFESSOR ADVISES
"I have discovered the secret of successful living, Professor," said the
King, a couple of hours later as, walking in one of the many thickly
wooded alleys of the palace grounds, he greeted Von Glauben, who had
been told to meet him there, and who had been waiting the Royal
approach with some little trepidation,--"It is this,--to draw a
straight line of conduct, and walk in it, regardless of other people's
The Professor looked at him, and saw nothing but kindliness expressed
in his eyes and smile,--therefore, taking courage he replied without
"Truly, Sir, if a man is brave enough to do this, he may conquer
everything but death, and even face this last enemy without much
"I agree with you!" replied the monarch; "And Humphry's line has
certainly been straight enough, taken from the point of his own
perspective! Do you not think so?"
Von Glauben hesitated a moment--then spoke out boldly.
"Sir, as you now know all, I will frankly assure you that I think his
Royal Highness has behaved honourably, and as a true man! Society
pardons a prince for seducing innocence--but whether it will pardon him
for marrying it, is quite another question! And that is why I repeat,
he has behaved well. Though when he first told me he was married, I
suffered a not-to-be-explained misery and horror; 'For,' said he--'I
have married an angel!' Which naturally I thought (deducting a certain
quantity of the enthusiasm of youth for the statement) meant that he
had married a bouncing housemaid with large hands and feet. 'That is
well,' I told him--'For divorce is now made easy in this country, and
you can easily return the celestial creature to her native element!' At
which I resigned myself to hear some oaths, for violent expletives are
always refreshing to the masculine brain-matter. But his Royal Highness
maintained the good breeding which always distinguishes him, and merely
proceeded with his strange confession of romance,--which, as you, Sir,
are now happily aware of it, I need not recapitulate. Your knowledge of
the matter has lifted an enormous burden from my mind; Ach! Enormous!"
He gave a deep breath, and drew himself up to his full height--squared
his shoulders, and then, as it were stood firm, as though waiting
The King laughed good-naturedly, and took him by the arm.
"Tell me all you know, Von Glauben!" he said; "I am acquainted with the
gist and upshot of the matter,--namely, Humphry's marriage; but I am
wholly ignorant of the details."
"There is little to tell, Sir," said Von Glauben;--"Of the Prince's
constant journeyings to The Islands we were all aware long ago; but the
cause of those little voyages was not so apparent. To avoid the
suspicion with which a Royal visitor would be viewed, the Prince, it
appears, assumed to be merely one of the junior officers on his own
yacht,--and under this disguise became known and much liked by the
Islanders generally. He fell in love at first sight with the beautiful
girl your Majesty saw yesterday--Gloria; 'Glory-of-the-Sea'--as I
sometimes call her, and they were married by the old parish priest in
the little church among the rocks--the very church where, as her
adopted father, Ronsard, tells me, he heard the choristers singing a
'Gloria in Excelsis' on the day he found her cast up on the shore."
"Well!" said the King, seeing that he paused; "And is the marriage
legal, think you?"
"Perfectly so, Sir!" replied Von Glauben; "Registered by law, as well
as sanctified by church. The Prince tells me he married her in his own
name,--but no one,--not even the poor little priest who married them,--
knew the surname of your Majesty's distinguished house, and I believe,
--nay I am sure--" here he heaved an unconscious sigh, "it will bring
a tragedy to the girl when she knows the true rank and title of her
"How came _you_ to make her acquaintance? Tell me everything!--you
know I will not misjudge you!"
"Indeed, Sir, I hope you will not!" returned the Professor earnestly;--
"For there was never a man more hopelessly involved than myself in the
net prepared for me by this romantic lover, who has the honour to be
your son. In the first place, directly I heard this confession of
marriage, I was for telling you at once; but as he had bound me by my
word of honour before he began the story, to keep his confidence
sacred, I was unable to disburden myself of it. He said he wanted to
secure me as a friend for his wife. 'That,' said I firmly, 'I will
never be! For there will be difficulty when all is known; and if it
comes to a struggle between a pretty fishwife and the good of a king--
ach!--mein Gott!--I am not for the fishwife!'"
The King smiled; and Von Glauben went on.
"Well, he assured me she was not a fishwife. I said 'What is she then?'
'I tell you,' he replied, 'she is an angel! You will come and see her;
you will pass as an old friend of her sailor husband; and when you have
seen her you will understand!' I was angry, and said I would not go
with him; but afterwards I thought perhaps it would be best if I did,
as I might be able to advise him to some wise course. So I accompanied
him one afternoon in the past autumn to The Islands (he was married
last summer) and saw the girl,--the 'Glory-of-the-Sea.' And I must
confess to your Majesty, my heart went down before her beauty and
innocence in absolute worship! And if you were to kill me for it, I
cannot help it--I am now as devoted to her service as I am to yours!"
"Good!" said the King gently;--"Then you must help me to console her in
Professor Von Glauben's eyes opened widely, with a vague look of alarm.
"In his absence, Sir?"
"Yes! I am sending him abroad. He is quite willing to go, he tells me.
His departure will make all things perfectly easy for us. The girl must
remain in her present ignorance as to the position of the man she has
really married. The sailor she supposes him to be will accompany the
Prince on his yacht,--and it must be arranged that he never returns!
She is young, and will easily be consoled!"
Von Glauben was silent.
"_You_ will not betray the Prince's identity with her lover," went
on the King, "and no one else knows it. In fact, you will be the very
person best qualified to tell her of his departure, and--in due time,
of his fictitious death!"
They were walking slowly under the heavy shadow of crossed ilex
boughs,--and Von Glauben came to a dead halt.
"Sir," he said, in rather unsteady accents; "With every respect for
your Majesty, I must altogether decline the task of breaking a pure
heart, and ruining a young life! Moreover, if your Majesty, after all
your recent experiences,"--and he laid great emphasis on these last
words, "thinks there is any ultimate good to be obtained by keeping up
a lie, and practising a fraud, the lessons we have learned in these
latter days are wholly unavailing! You began this conversation with me
by speaking of a straight line of conduct, which should avoid other
people's crooked curves. Is this your Majesty's idea of a straight
He spoke with unguarded vehemence, but the King was not offended. On
the contrary, he looked whimsically interested and amused.
"My dear Von Glauben, you are not usually so inconsistent! Humphry
himself has kept up a lie, and practised a fraud on the girl----"
"Only for a time!" interrupted the Professor hastily.
"Oh, we all do it 'only for a time.' Everything--life itself--is 'only
for a time!' You know as well as I do that this absurd marriage can
never be acknowledged. I explained as much to Humphry; I told him he
could guard himself by the morganatic law, provided he would consent to
a Royal alliance immediately--but the young fool swore it would be
bigamy, and took himself off in a huff."
"He was right! It would be bigamy;--it _is_ bigamy!", said the
Professor; "Call it by what name you like in Court parlance, the act of
having two wives is forbidden in this country. The wisest men have come
to the conclusion that one wife is enough!"
"Humphry's ideas being so absolutely childish," went on the King, "it
is necessary for him to expand them somewhat. That is why I shall send
him abroad. You have a strong flavour of romance in your Teutonic
composition, Von Glauben,--and I can quite sympathise with your
admiration for the 'Glory-of-the-Sea' as you call her. From a man's
point of view, I admire her myself. But I know nothing of her moral or
mental qualities; though from her flat refusal to give me her husband's
name yesterday, I judge her as wilful,--but most pretty women are that.
And as for my line of conduct, it will, I assure you, be perfectly
'straight,'--in the direction of my duty as a King,--apart altogether
from sentimental considerations! And in this, as in other things,--" he
paused and emphasised his words--"I rely on your honour and faithful
The Professor made no reply. He was, thinking deeply. With a kind of
grim scorn, he pointed out to himself that his imagination was held
captive by the mental image of a woman, whose eyes had expressed trust
in him; and almost as tenderly as the lover in Tennyson's 'Maud' he
could have said that he 'would die, To save from some slight shame one
simple girl.' Presently he braced himself up, and confronted his Royal
"Sir," he said very quietly, yet with perfect frankness; "Your
Majesty must have the goodness to pardon me if I say you must not rely
upon me at all in this matter! I will promise nothing, except to be
true to myself and my own sense of justice. I have given up my own
country for conscience' sake--I can easily give up another which is not
my own, for the same reason. In the matter of this marriage or
'mésalliance' as the worldly would call it,--I have nothing whatever to
do. While the Prince asked me to keep his secret, I kept it. Now that
he has confided it to your Majesty, I am relieved and satisfied; and
shall not in any way, by word or suggestion, interfere with your
Majesty's intentions. But, at the same time, I shall not assist them!
For as regards the trusting girl who has been persuaded that she has
won a great love and complete happiness for all her life,--I have sworn
to be her friend;--and I must respectfully decline to be a party to any
further deception in her case. Knowing what I know of her character,
which is a pure and grand one, I think it would be far better to tell
her the whole truth, and let her be the arbiter of her own destiny. She
will decide well and truly, I am sure!"
He ceased; the King was silent. Von Glauben studied his face
"You are a thinker, Sir,--a student and a philosopher. You are not one
of those kings who treat their kingship as a license for the free
exercise of intolerant humours and vicious practices. Were you no
monarch at all, you would still be a sane and thoughtful man. Take my
humble advice, Sir--for once put the unspoilt nature of a pure woman to
the test, and find out what a grand creature God intended woman to be,
in her pristine simplicity and virtue! Send for Gloria to this Court;--
tell her the truth!--and await the result with confidence!"
There was a pause. The King walked slowly up and down; at last he
"You may be right! I do not say you are wrong. I will consider your
suggestion. Certainly it would be the straightest course. But first a
complete explanation is due to the Queen. She must know all,--and if
her interest can be awakened by such a triviality as her son's love-
affair--" and he smiled somewhat bitterly,--"perhaps she may agree to
your plan as the best way out of the difficulty. In any case"--here he
extended his hand which the Professor deferentially bowed over--"I
respect your honesty and plain speaking, Professor! I have reason to
approve highly of sincerity,--wherever and however I find it,--at the
present crisis of affairs. For the moment, I will only ask you to be on
your guard with Humphry;--and say as little as possible to him on the
subject of his marriage or intended departure from this country. Keep
everything as quiet as may be;--till--till we find a clear and
satisfactory course to follow, which shall inflict as little pain as
possible on all concerned. And now, a word with you on other matters."
They walked on side by side, through the garden walks and ways,
conversing earnestly,--and by and by penetrating into the deeper
recesses of the outlying woodlands, were soon hidden among the crossing
and recrossing of the trees. Had they kept to the open ground, from
whence the wide expanse of the sea could be viewed from end to end,
their discussions might perhaps have been interrupted, and themselves
somewhat startled,--for they would have seen Prince Humphry's yacht,
with every inch of canvas stretched to the utmost, flying rapidly
before the wind like a wild white bird, winging its swift, straight way
to the west where the sun shot down Apollo-like shafts of gold on the
gleaming purple coast-line of The Islands.
AN "HONOURABLE" STATESMAN
It is not easy to trace the causes why it so often happens that semi-
educated, and more or less shallow men rise suddenly to a height of
brilliant power and influence in the working of a country's policy.
Sometimes it is wealth that brings them to the front; sometimes the
strong support secretly given to them by others in the background, who
have their own motives to serve, and who require a public
representative; but more often still it is sheer unscrupulousness,--or
what may be described as 'walking over' all humane and honest
considerations,--that places them in triumph at the helm of affairs. To
rise from a statesman to be a Secretary of State augurs a certain
amount of brain, though not necessarily of the highest quality; while
it certainly betokens a good deal of dash and impudence. Carl Pérousse,
one of the most prominent among the political notabilities of Europe,
had begun his career by small peddling transactions in iron and timber
manufactures; he came of a very plebeian stock, and had received only a
desultory sort of education, picked up here and there in cheap
provincial schools. But he had a restless, domineering spirit of
ambition. Ashamed of his plebeian origin, and embittered from his
earliest years by a sense of grudge against those who moved in the
highest and most influential circles of the time, the idea was always
in his mind that he would one day make himself an authority over the
very persons, who, in the rough and tumble working-days of his younger
manhood, would not so much as cast him a word or a look. He knew that
the first thing necessary to attain for this purpose was money; and he
had, by steady and constant plod, managed to enlarge and expand all his
business concerns into various, important companies, which he set
afloat in all quarters of the world,--with the satisfactory result that
by the time his years had run well into the forties, he was one of the
wealthiest men in the country. He had from the first taken every
opportunity to insinuate himself into politics; and in exact proportion
to the money he made, so was his success in acquiring such coveted
positions in life as brought with them the masterful control of various
conflicting aims and interests. His individual influence had extended
by leaps and bounds till he had become only secondary in importance to
the Prime Minister himself; and he possessed a conveniently elastic
conscience, which could be stretched at will to suit any party or any
set of principles. In personal appearance he was not prepossessing.
Nature had branded him in her own special way 'Trickster,' for those
who cared to search for her trademark. He was tall and thin, with a
narrow head and a deeply-lined, clean-shaven countenance, the cold
immovability of which was sometimes broken up by an unpleasant smile,
that merely widened the pale set lips without softening them, and
disclosed a crooked row of smoke-coloured teeth, much decayed. He had
small eyes, furtively hidden under a somewhat restricted frontal
development,--his brows were narrow,--his forehead ignoble and
retreating. But despite a general badness, or what may be called a
'smirchiness' of feature, he had learned to assume an air of
superiority, which by its sheer audacity prevented a casual observer
from setting him down as the vulgarian he undoubtedly was; and his
amazing pluck, boldness and originality in devising ways and means of
smothering popular discontent under various 'shows' of apparent public
prosperity, was immensely useful to all such 'statesmen,' whose
statesmanship consisted in making as much money as possible for
themselves out of the pockets of their credulous countrymen. He was
seldom disturbed by opposing influences; and even now when he had just
returned from the palace with the full knowledge that the King was
absolutely resolved on vetoing certain propositions he had set down in
council for the somewhat arbitrary treatment of a certain half-
tributary power which had latterly turned rebellious, he was more
amused than irritated.
"I suppose his Majesty wants to distinguish himself by a melodramatic
_coup d'état_" he said, leaning easily back in his chair, and
studying the tips of his carefully pared and polished finger-nails;--
"Poor fool! I don't blame him for trying to do something more than walk
about his palace in different costumes at stated intervals,--but he
will find his 'veto' out of date. We shall put it to the country;--and
I think I can answer for that!"
He smiled, as one who knows where and how to secure a triumph, and his
equanimity was not disturbed in the least by the unexpected arrival of
the Premier, who was just then announced, and who, coming in his turn
from the King's diplomatic reception, had taken the opportunity to call
and see his colleague on his way home.
"You seem fatigued, Marquis!" he said, as, rising to receive his
distinguished guest, he placed a chair for him opposite his own. "Was
his Majesty's conversazione more tedious than usual?"
Lutera looked at him with a dubious air.
"No!--it was brief enough so far as I was immediately concerned," he
replied;--"I do not suppose I stayed more than twenty minutes in the
Throne-room altogether. I understand you have been told that our
proposed negotiations are to be vetoed?"
"I have been told--yes!--but I have been told many things which I do
not believe! The King certainly has the right of veto; but he dare not
"Dare not?" echoed the Marquis--"From his present unconstitutional
attitude it seems to me he dare do anything!"
"I tell you he dare not!" repeated Pérousse quietly;--"Unless he wishes
to lose the Throne. I daresay if it came to that, we should get on
quite as well--if not better--with a Republic!"
Lutera looked at him with an amazed and reluctant admiration.
"_You_ talk of a Republic? You,--who are for ever making the most
loyal speeches in favour of the monarchy?"
"Why not?" queried Pérousse lightly;--"If the monarchy does not do as
it is told, whip it like a naughty child and send it to bed. That has
been easily arranged before now in history!"
The Marquis sat silent,--thinking, or rather brooding heavily. Should
he, or should he not unburden himself of certain fears that oppressed
his mind? He cleared his throat of a troublesome huskiness and began,--
"If the purely business transactions in which you are engaged----"
"And you also," put in Pérousse placidly.
The Premier shifted his position uneasily and went on.
"I say, if the purely business transactions of this affair were
"As well expect Cabinet secrets to be posted on a hoarding in the open
thoroughfare!" said Pérousse. "What afflicts you with these sudden
pangs of distrust at your position? You have taken care to provide for
all your own people! What more can you desire?"
Lutera hesitated; then he said slowly:--
"I think there is only one thing for me to do,--and that is to send in
my resignation at once!"
Carl Pérousse raised himself a little out of his chair, and opened his
"Send in your resignation!" he echoed; "On what grounds? Do me the
kindness to remember, Marquis, that I am not yet quite ready to take
He smiled his disagreeable smile,--and the Marquis began to feel
"Do not be too sure that you will ever have it to take," he said with
some acerbity; "If the King should by any means come to know of your
"You seem to be very suddenly afraid of the King!" interrupted
Pérousse; "Or else strange touches of those catch-word ideals 'Loyalty'
and 'Patriotism' are troubling your mind! You speak of _my_
financial deal,--is not yours as important? Review the position;--it
is simply this;--for years and years the Ministry have been speculating
in office matters,--it is no new thing. Sometimes they have lost, and
sometimes they have won; their losses have been replaced by the
imposition of taxes on the people,--their gains they have very wisely
said nothing about. In these latter days, however, the loss has been
considerably more than the gain. 'Patriotism,' as stocks, has gone
down. 'Honour' will not pay the piper. We cannot increase taxation just
at present; but by a war, we can clear out some of the useless
population, and invest in contracts for supplies. The mob love
fighting,--and every small victory won, can be celebrated in beer and
illuminations, to expand what is called 'the heart of the People.' It
is a great 'heart,' and always leaps to strong drink,--which is cheap
enough, being so largely adulterated. The country we propose to subdue
is rich,--and both you and I have large investments of land there. With
the success which our arms are sure to obtain, we shall fill not only
the State coffers (which have been somewhat emptied by our
predecessors' peculations), but our own coffers as well. The King
'vetoes' the war; then let us hear what the People say! Of course we
must work them up first; and then get their verdict while they are red-
hot with patriotic excitement. The Press, ordered by Jost, can manage
that! Put it to the country; (through Jost);--but do not talk of
resigning when we are on the brink of success! _I_ will carry this
thing through, despite the King's 'veto'!"
"Wait!" said the Marquis, drawing his chair closer to Pérousse, and
speaking in a low uneasy tone; "You do not know all! There is some
secret agency at work against us; and, among other things, I fear that
a foreign spy has been inadvertently allowed to learn the mainspring of
our principal moves. Listen, and judge for yourself!"
And he related the story of David Jost's midnight experience, carefully
emphasising every point connected with his own signet-ring. As he
proceeded with the narration, Pérousse's face grew livid,--once or
twice he clenched his hand nervously, but he said nothing till he had
"Your ring, you say, had never left the King's possession?"
"So the King himself assured me, this very afternoon."
"Then someone must have passed off an imitation signet on David Jost,"
continued Pérousse meditatively. "What name did the spy give?"
Carl Pérousse opened a small memorandum book, and carefully wrote the
name down within it.
"Whatever David Jost has said, David Jost alone is answerable for!" he
then said calmly--"A Jew may be called a liar with impunity, and
whatever a Jew has asserted can be flatly denied. Remember, he is in
"I doubt if he will consent to be made the scapegoat in this affair,"
said Lutera; "Unless we can make it exceptionally to his advantage;--he
has the press at his command."
"Give him a title!" returned Pérousse contemptuously; "These Jew press-
men love nothing better!"
The Marquis smiled somewhat sardonically.
"Jost, with a patent of nobility would cut rather an extraordinary
figure!" he said; "Still he would probably make good use of it,--
especially if he were to start a newspaper in London! They would accept
him as a great man there!"
Pérousse gave a careless nod; his thoughts were otherwise occupied.
"This Pasquin Leroy has gone to Moscow?"
"According to his own words, he was leaving this morning."
"I daresay that statement is a blind. I should not at all wonder if he
is still in the city. I will get an exact description of him from Jost,
and set Bernhoff on his track."
"Do not forget," said the Marquis impressively, "that he told Jost in
apparently the most friendly and well-meaning manner possible, that the
King had discovered the whole plan of our financial campaign. He even
reported _me_ as being ready to resign in consequence----"
"Which apparently you are!" interpolated Pérousse with some sarcasm.
"I certainly have my resignation in prospect," returned Lutera coldly--
"And, so far, this mysterious spy has seemingly probed my thoughts. If
he is as correct in his report concerning the King, it is impossible to
say what may be the consequence."
"Why, what can the King do?" demanded Pérousse impatiently, and with
scorn for the vacillating humour of his companion; "Granted that he
knew everything from the beginning----"
"Including your large land purchases and contract concessions in the
very country you propose war with," put in the Marquis,--"Say that he
knew you had resolved on war, and had already started a company for the
fabrication of the guns and other armaments, out of which you get the
principal pickings--what then?"
"What then?" echoed Pérousse defiantly--"Why nothing! The King is as
powerless as a target in a field, set up for arrows to be aimed at! He
dare not divulge a State secret; he has no privilege of interference
with politics; all he can do is to 'lead' fashionable society--a poor
business at best--and at present his lead is not particularly apparent.
The King must do as We command!"
He rose and paced up and down with agitated steps.
"To-day, when he told me he had resolved to 'veto' my propositions, I
accepted his information without any manifestation of surprise. I
merely said it would have to be stated in the Senate, and that reasons
would have to be given. He agreed, and said that he himself would
proclaim those reasons. I told him it was impossible!"
"And what was his reply?" asked the Marquis.
"His reply was as absurd as his avowed intention. 'Hitherto it has been
impossible,' he said; 'But in Our reign we shall make it possible!' He
declined any further conversation with me, referring me to you and our
chief colleagues in the Cabinet."
"Well! I pay no more attention to a King's sudden caprice than I do to
the veering of the wind! He will alter his mind in a few days, when the
exigency of the matters in hand becomes apparent to him. In the same
way, he will revoke his decision about that grant of land to the
Jesuits. He must let them have their way."
"What benefit do we get by favouring the Jesuits?" asked Lutera.
"Jost gets a thousand a year for putting flattering notices of the
schools, processions, festivals and such nonsense in his various
newspapers; and our party secures the political support of the Vatican
in Europe,--which just now is very necessary. The Pope must give his
Christian benediction not only to our Educational system, but also to
"Then the King has set himself in our way already, even in this
"He has! Quite unaccountably and very foolishly. But we shall persuade
him still to be of our opinion. The ass that will not walk must be
beaten till he gallops! I have no anxiety whatever on any point; even
the advent of Jost's spy, with an imitation of your signet on his
finger appears to me quite melodramatic, and only helps to make the
general situation more interesting,--to me at least;--I am only sorry
to see that you allow yourself to be so much concerned over these
"I have my family to think of," said the Marquis slowly; "My reputation
as a statesman, and my honour as a minister are both at stake."
Pérousse smiled oddly, but said nothing. "If in any way my name became
a subject of popular animadversion, it would entirely ruin the position
I believe I have attained in history. I have always wished,--" and
there was a tinge of pathos in his voice--"my descendants to hold a
certain pride in my career!"
Pérousse looked at him with grim amusement.
"It is a curious and unpleasant fact that the 'descendants' of these
days do not care a button for their ancestors," he said; "They
generally try to forget them as fast as possible. What do the
descendants of Robespierre, (if there are any), care about him? The
descendants of Wellington? The descendants of Beethoven or Lord Byron?
Among the many numerous advantages attending the world-wide fame of
Shakespeare is that he has left no descendants. If he had, his memory
would have been more vulgarised by _them,_ than by any Yankee
kicker at his grave! One of the most remarkable features of this
progressive age is the cheerful ease with which sons forget they ever
had fathers! I am afraid, Marquis, you are not likely to escape the
Lutera rose slowly, and prepared to take his departure.
"I shall call a Cabinet Council for Monday," he said; "This is Friday.
You will find it convenient to attend?"
Pérousse, rising at the same time, assented smilingly.
"You will see things in a better and clearer light by then," he said.
"Rely on me! I have not involved you thus far with any intention of
bringing you to loss or disaster. Whatever befalls you in this affair
must equally befall me; we are both in the same boat. We must carry
things through with a firm hand, and show no hesitation. As for the
King, his business is to be a Dummy; and as Dummy he must remain."
Lutera made no reply. They shook hands,--not over cordially,--and
parted; and as soon as Pérousse heard the wheels of the Premier's
carriage grinding away from his outer gate, he applied himself
vigorously to the handle of one of the numerous telephone wires fitted
up near his desk, and after getting into communication with the quarter
he desired, requested General Bernhoff, Chief of the Police, to attend
upon him instantly. Bernhoff's headquarters were close by, so that he
had but to wait barely a quarter of an hour before that personage,--the
same who had before been summoned to the presence of the King,--
To him Pérousse handed a slip of paper, on which he had written the
words 'Pasquin Leroy.'
"Do you know that name?" he asked.
General Bernhoff looked at it attentively. Only the keenest and closest
observer could have possibly detected the slight flicker of a smile
under the stiff waxed points of his military moustache, as he read it.
He returned it carefully folded.
"I fancy I have heard it!" he said cautiously; "In any case, I shall
"Good! There is a man of that name in this city; trace him if you can!
Take this note to Mr. David Jost"--and while he spoke he hastily
scrawled a few lines and addressed them--"and he will give you an exact
personal description of him. He is reported to have left for Moscow,--
but I discredit that statement. He is a foreign spy, engaged, we
believe, in the work of taking plans of our military defences,--he must
be arrested, and dealt with rigorously at once. You understand?"
"Perfectly," replied Bernhoff, accepting the note handed to him; "If he
is to be discovered, I shall not fail to discover him!"
"And when you think you are on the track, let me have information at
once," went on Pérousse; "But be well on your guard, and let no one
learn the object of your pursuit. Keep your own counsel!"
"I always do!" returned Bernhoff bluntly. "If I did not there might be
Pérousse looked at him sharply, but seeing the wooden-like
impassiveness of his countenance, forced a smile.
"There might indeed!" he said; "Your tact and discretion, General, do
much to keep the city quiet. But this affair of Pasquin Leroy is a
"Distinctly so!" agreed Bernhoff quietly; "I hold the position
He shortly afterwards withdrew, and Carl Pérousse, satisfied that he
had at any rate taken precautions to make known the existence of a spy
in the city, if not to secure his arrest, turned to the crowding
business on his hands with a sense of ease and refreshment. He might
not have felt quite so self-assured and complacent, had he seen the
worthy Bernhoff smiling broadly to himself as he strolled along the
street, with the air of one enjoying a joke, the while he murmured,--
"Pasquin Leroy,--engaged in taking plans of the military defences--is
he? Ah!--a very dangerous amusement to indulge in! Engaged in taking
plans!--Ah!--Yes!--Very good,--very good; excellent! Do I know the
name? Yes! I fancy I might have heard it! Oh, yes, very good indeed--
excellent! And this spy is probably still in the city? Yes!--Probably!
Yes--I should imagine it quite likely!"
Still smiling, and apparently in the best of humours with himself and
the world at large, the General continued his easy stroll by the sea-
fronted ways of the city, along the many picturesque terraces, and up
flights of marble steps built somewhat in the fashion of the prettiest
corners of Monaco, till he reached the chief promenade and resort of
fashion, which being a broad avenue running immediately under and in
front of the King's palace facing the sea, was in the late sunshine of
the afternoon crowded with carriages and pedestrians. Here he took his
place with the rest, saluting a fellow officer here, or a friend
there,--and stood bareheaded with the rest of the crowd, when a light
gracefully-shaped landau, drawn by four greys, and escorted by
postillions in the Royal liveries, passed like a triumphal car,
enshrining the cold, changeless and statuesque beauty of the Queen,
upon whom the public were never weary of gazing. She was a curiosity to
them--a living miracle in her unwithering loveliness; for, apparently
unmoved by emotion herself, she roused all sorts of emotions in others.
Bernhoff had seen her a thousand times, but never without a sense of
"Always the same Sphinx!" he thought now, with a slight frown shading
the bluff good-nature of his usual expression; "She is a woman who will
face Death as she faces Time,--with that cold smile of hers which
expresses nothing but scorn of all life's little business!"
He proceeded meditatively on his way to the palace itself, where, on
demand, he was at once admitted to the private apartments of the King.
Silver-white glamour of the moon, and velvet darkness of deep branching
foliage held the quiet breadth of The Islands between them. Low on the
shore the fantastic shapes of one or two tall cliffs were outlined
black on the fine sparkling sand,--tiny waves rose from the bosom of
the calm sea, and cuddling together in baby ripples made bubbles of
their crests, and broke here and there among the pebbles with low
gurgles of laughter, and in the warm silence of the southern night the
nightingales began to tune up their delicate fluty voices with
delicious tremors and pauses in the trying of their song. The under-
scent of hidden violets among moss flowed potently upon the quiet air,
mingled with strong pine-odours and the salt breath of the gently
heaving sea,--and all the land seemed as lonely and as fair as the
fabled Eden might have been, when the first two human mated creatures
knew it as their own. To every soul that loves for the first time, the
vision of that Lost Paradise is granted; to every man and woman who
know and feel the truth of the divine passion is vouchsafed a flashing
gleam of glory from that Heaven which gives them to each other. For the
voluptuary--for the animal man,--who like his four-footed kindred is
only conscious of instinctive desire, this pure expansion of the heart
and ennobling of the thought is as a sealed book,--a never-to-be-
divulged mystery of joy, which, because he cannot experience it, he is
unable to believe in. It is a glory-cloud in which the privileged ones
are 'caught up and received out of sight.' It transfuses the roughest
elements into immortal influences,--it colours the earth with fairer
hues, and fills the days with beauty; every hour is a gem of sweet
thought set in the dreaming soul, and the lover, at certain times of
rapt ecstasy, would smile incredulously were he told that anyone living
could be unhappy. For love goes back to the beginning of things,--to
the time when the world was new. It has its birth in that primeval
light when 'the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God
shouted for joy.' If it is real, deep, passionate and disinterested
love, it sees no difficulties and knows no disillusions. It is a
sufficient assurance of God to make life beautiful. But in these days
of the eld-time of nations, when all things are being mixed and
prepared for casting into a new mould of world-formation, where we and
our civilizations are not, and shall not be,--any more than the
Egyptian Rameses is part of us now,--love in its pristine purity, faith
and simplicity, is rare. Very little romance is left to hallow it; and
it is doubtful whether the white moon, swinging like a silver lamp in
heaven above the peaceful Islands, shed her glory anywhere on any such
lovers in the world, as the two who on this fair night of the southern
springtime, with arms entwined round each other, moved slowly up and
down on the velvet greensward outside Ronsard's cottage,--Gloria and
her 'sailor' husband.
Gloria was happy,--and her happiness made her doubly beautiful. Clad in
her usual attire of white homespun, with her rich hair falling unbound
over her shoulders in girl-fashion, and just kept back by a band of
white coral, she looked like a young goddess of the sea; her lustrous,
starlike eyes gazed up into the tender responsive ones of the handsome
stripling she had so trustfully wedded, and not a shadow of doubt or
fear darkened the heaven of her confidence. She did not know how
beautiful she was,--she did not realise that her body was like one of
the unfettered, graceful and perfectly-proportioned figures of women
left to our wondering reverence by the Greek sculptors,--she had never
thought about herself at all, not even to compare her fair brilliancy
of skin with the bronzed, weather-beaten faces of the fisher-folk among
whom she dwelt. Resting her delicate classic head against the
encircling arm of her lover and lord, her beauty seemed almost
unearthly in its pure transparency of feature, outlined by the silver
glimmer of the moonbeams; and the young man by her side, with his
handsome dark head, tall figure and distinguished bearing, looked the
fitting mate for her fair, blossoming womanhood. No two lovers were
ever more ideally matched in physical perfection; and as they moved
slowly to and fro on the soft dark grass, brushing the dewy scent from
hanging rose-boughs that pushed out inviting tufts of white and pink
bloom here and there from the surrounding foliage, they would have
served many a poet for some sweet idyll, or romance in rhyme, which
should hold in its stanzas the magic of immortality. Yet there was a
shade of uneasiness in the minds of both,--Prince Humphry was more
silent than usual, and seemed absorbed in thought; and Gloria, looking
timidly up from time to time at the dark poetic face of her 'sailor'
lover, felt with a woman's quick instinct that something was troubling
him, and remorsefully concluded that she was to blame,--that he had
heard of her having been seen by the King, and that he was evidently
vexed by it. He had arrived that evening suddenly and unexpectedly; for
she and her 'little father,' as she called Réné Ronsard, had just begun
their frugal supper, when the Crown Prince's yacht swept into the bay
and dropped anchor. Half an hour later he, the much-beloved 'junior
officer' in the Crown Prince's service had appeared at the cottage
door, greatly to their delight, for they did not expect to see him so
soon. They had supped together, and then Ronsard himself had gone to
superintend a meeting at a small social club he had started for the
amusement of the fisher-folk, wisely leaving the young wedded lovers to
themselves. And they had for a long time been very quiet, save for such
little words of love as came into tune with the interchange of
caresses,--and after a pause of anxious inward thought, Gloria ventured
on a timid query.
"Dearest,--are you _very_ angry with me?"
He started,--and stopping in his walk, turned the fair face up between
his two hands, as one might lift a rose on its stem, and kissed it
"Angry? How can I ever be angry with you, Sweet? Besides what cause
have I for anger?"
"I thought, perhaps--" murmured Gloria, "that if the Professor told you
what I did yesterday,--when the King came--"
"He did tell me;" and the Prince still gazed down on that heavenly
beauty which was the light of the world to him. "He told me that you
sang;--and that your golden voice was a musical magnet which drew his
Majesty to your feet! I am not surprised,--it was only natural! But I
could have wished it had not happened just yet; however, it has
happened, and we must make the best of it!"
"It was my fault," said the girl penitently;--"I had the fancy to sing;
and I _would_ sing, though the good Professor told me not to do
The Prince was silent. He was bracing his mind to the inevitable. He
had determined that on this very night Gloria should know the truth.
For he was instinctively certain that if he went abroad, as his father
wished him to do, some means would be taken to remove her altogether
from the country before his return; and his idea was to tell her all,
and make her accompany him on his travels. As his wife, she was bound
to obey him, he argued within himself; she should, she must go with
him! Unconsciously Gloria's next words supplied him with an opening to
"Why did you never tell me that the Professor was in the King's
service?" she asked. "He seemed to know him quite well,--indeed, almost
as a friend!"
"He is the King's physician," answered the Prince abruptly; "And,
therefore, he is very greatly in the King's confidence."
He walked on, still keeping his arm round her, and seemed not to see
the half-frightened glance she gave him.
"The King's physician!" she echoed;--"He does not seem a great person
at all,--he is quite a simple old German man!"
Her lover smiled.
"To be physician to the King, my Gloria, is not a very wonderful
honour! It merely implies that the man so chosen is perhaps the ablest
fencer with sickness and death; the greatness is in the simple old
German himself, not in the King's preference. Von Glauben is a good
"I know it;" said Gloria gently; "He is good,--and very kind. He said
he would always be my friend,--but he was very strange in his manner
yesterday, and almost I was vexed with him. Do you know what he said?
He asked me what I should do if you--my husband, had deceived me? Can
you imagine such a thing?"
Now was the supreme moment. With a violently beating heart the Prince
halted, and putting both arms round her waist, drew her up to him in
such a way that their eyes looked close into each other's, and their
lips were within kissing touch.
"Yes, my sweetest one! I can imagine such a thing! Such a thing is
possible! Consider it to be true! Consider that I _have_ deceived
She did not move from his clasp, but into her large, lovely trusting
eyes came a look of grief and terror, and her face grew ashy pale.
"In what way?" she whispered faintly; "Tell me! I--I--cannot believe
"Gloria,--Gloria! My love, my darling! Do not tremble so! Do not fear!
I have not deceived you in any evil way,--what I have done was for your
good and mine; but now--now there is no longer any need of deception,--
you may, and _shall_ know all the truth, my wife, my dearest in
the world! You shall know me as I truly am at last!"
She moved restlessly in his strong clasp,--she was trembling from head
to foot, as if her blood was suddenly chilled.
"As you truly are!" she echoed, with pale lips--"Are you not then what
I have believed you to be?"
And she made an effort to withdraw herself entirely from his embrace.
But he held her fast.
"I am your husband, Gloria!" he said, "and you are my wife! Nothing can
alter that; nothing can change our love or disunite our lives. But I am
not the poor naval officer I have represented myself to be!--though I
am glad I adopted such a disguise, because by its aid I wooed and won
your love! I am not in the service of the Crown Prince,--except in so
far as I serve my own needs! Why, how you tremble!"--and he held her
closer--"Do not be afraid, my darling! Lift up your eyes and look at me
with your own sweet trusting look,--do not turn away from me, because
instead of being the Prince's servant, I am the Prince himself!"
"The Prince!" And with a cry of utter desolation, Gloria wrenched
herself out of his arms, and stood apart, looking at him in wild alarm
and bewilderment. "The Prince! You--you!--my husband! You,--the King's
son! And you have married _me_!--oh, how cruel of you!--how cruel!
Covering her face with her hands, she broke into a low sobbing,--and
the Prince, cut to the heart by her distress, caught her again in his
"Hush, Gloria!" he said, with an accent of authority, though his own
voice was tremulous; "You must not grieve like this! You will break my
heart! Do you not understand? Do you not see that all my life is bound
up in you?--that I give it to you to do what you will with?--that I
care nothing for rank, state or throne without you?--that I will let
all the world go rather than lose you? Gloria, do not weep so!--do not
weep! Every tear of yours is a pang to me! What does it matter whether
I am prince or commoner? I love you!--we love each other!--we are one
in the sight of Heaven!"
He held her passionately in his arms, kissing the soft clusters of hair
that fell against his breast, and whispering all the tenderest words of
endearment he could think of to console and soothe her anguish. By
degrees she grew calmer, and her sobs gradually ceased. Dashing the
tears from her eyes, she looked up,--her face white as marble.
"You must not tell Ronsard!" she said in faint tones that shook with
fear; "He would kill you!"
The Prince smiled indulgently; his only thought was for her, and so
long as he could dry her tears, Ronsard's rage or pleasure was nothing
"He would kill you!" repeated Gloria, with wide open tear-wet eyes; "He
hates all kings, in his heart!--and if he knew that you--_you_--my
husband,--were what you say you are;--if he thought you had married me
under a disguise, only to leave me and never to want me any more----"
"Gloria, Gloria!" cried the Prince, in despair; "Why will you say such
things! Never to want you any more! I want you all my life, and every
moment of that life! Gloria, you must listen to me--you must not turn
from me at the very time I need you most! Are you not brave? Are you
not true? Do you not love me?"
With a pathetic gesture she stretched out her hands to him.
"Oh, yes, I love you!" she said; "I love you with all my heart! But you
have deceived me!--my dearest, you have deceived me! And if you had
only told me the truth, I would never,--for your own sake,--have
"I know that!" said the Prince; "And that is why I determined to win
you under the mask of poverty! Now listen, my Princess and my Queen!--
for you are both! I want all your help--all your love--all your trust!
Do not be afraid of Ronsard; he will, he can do nothing to harm me! You
are my wife, Gloria,--you have promised before God to obey me! I claim
Back to Full Books