Infomotions, Inc.Yolanda: Maid of Burgundy / Major, Charles, 1856-1913



Author: Major, Charles, 1856-1913
Title: Yolanda: Maid of Burgundy
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): yolanda; twonette; castleman; burgundy; fraeulein; duke; karl; princess; lord d'hymbercourt; count calli; burgher girl; castleman's house; asked yolanda; king louis
Contributor(s): Ganguli, Kisari Mohan [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 95,536 words (short) Grade range: 7-10 (grade school) Readability score: 69 (easy)
Identifier: etext12057
Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious

Discover what books you consider "great". Take the Great Books Survey.

The Project Gutenberg EBook of Yolanda: Maid of Burgundy, by Charles Major

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net


Title: Yolanda: Maid of Burgundy

Author: Charles Major

Release Date: April 16, 2004 [EBook #12057]
[Date last updated: September 15, 2004]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK YOLANDA: MAID OF BURGUNDY ***




Produced by Charles Aldarondo, Charlie Kirschner and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team.





YOLANDA

MAID OF BURGUNDY

_By_ CHARLES MAJOR


WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY

CHARLOTTE WEBER DITZLER

_MCMV_

1905.



CONTENTS

CHAPTER I
A CASTLE AMONG THE CRAGS

CHAPTER II
KNIGHTS-ERRANT

CHAPTER III
YOLANDA THE SORCERESS

CHAPTER IV
DOWN THE RHINE TO BURGUNDY

CHAPTER V
WHO IS YOLANDA?

CHAPTER VI
DUKE CHARLES THE RASH

CHAPTER VII
A RACE WITH THE DUKE

CHAPTER VIII
ON THE MOAT BRIDGE

CHAPTER IX
THE GREAT RIDDLE

CHAPTER X
THE HOUSE UNDER THE WALL

CHAPTER XI
PERONNE LA PUCELLE

CHAPTER XII
A LIVE WREN PIE

CHAPTER XIII
A BATTLE IN MID AIR

CHAPTER XIV
SIR KARL MEETS THE PRINCESS

CHAPTER XV
THE CROSSING OF A "T"

CHAPTER XVI
PARTICEPS CRIMINIS

CHAPTER XVII
TRIAL BY COMBAT

CHAPTER XVIII
YOLANDA OR THE PRINCESS?

CHAPTER XIX
MAX GOES TO WAR

CHAPTER XX
A TREATY WITH LOUIS XI



ILLUSTRATIONS

MAX AND YOLANDA
KARL AND MAX AT HAPSBURG CASTLE
MAX
THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY
MAX AT THE GATE OF THE LISTS



YOLANDA



CHAPTER I

A CASTLE AMONG THE CRAGS

Like the Israelites of old, mankind is prone to worship false gods, and
persistently sets up the brazen image of a sham hero, as its idol. I
should like to write the history of the world, if for no other reason
than to assist several well-established heroes down from their
pedestals. Great Charlemagne might come to earth's level, his
patriarchal, flowing beard might drop from his face, and we might see
him as he really was--a plucked and toothless old savage, with no more
Christianity than Jacob, and with all of Jacob's greed. Richard of
England, styled by hero-worshippers "The Lion-hearted," might be
re-christened "The Wolf-hearted," and the famous Du Guesclin might seem
to us a half-brutish vagabond. But Charles of Burgundy, dubbed by this
prone world "The Bold" and "The Rash," would take the greatest fall. Of
him and his fair daughter I shall speak in this history.

At the time of which I write Louis XI reigned over France, Edward IV
ruled in England, and his sister, the beautiful Margaret of York, was
the unhappy wife of this Charles the Rash, and stepmother to his gentle
daughter Mary. Charles, though only a duke in name, reigned as a most
potent and despotic king over the fair rich land of Burgundy. Frederick
of Styria was head of the great house of Hapsburg, and Count Maximilian,
my young friend and pupil, was his heir.

Of the other rulers of Europe I need not speak, since they will not
enter this narrative. They were all bad enough,--and may God have mercy
on their souls.

       *       *       *       *       *

Most of the really tragic parts in the great drama of history have been
played by women. This truth I had always dimly known, yet one does not
really know a fact until he feels it. I did not realize the extent to
which these poor women of history have suffered in the matter of
enforced marriages, until the truth was brought home to me in the person
of Mary, Princess of Burgundy, to whose castle, Peronne La Pucelle, my
pupil, Maximilian of Hapsburg, and I made a journey in the year 1476.

My knowledge of this fair lady began in far-off Styria, and there I
shall begin my story.

       *       *       *       *       *

In times of peace, life in Hapsburg Castle was dull; in times of war it
was doleful. War is always grievous, but my good mistress, the Duchess
of Styria, was ever in such painful dread lest evil should befall her
only child, Maximilian, that the pains of war-time were rendered doubly
keen to those who loved Her Grace.

After Maximilian had reached the fighting age there was too little war
to suit him. Up to his eighteenth year he had thrice gone out to war,
and these expeditions were heart-breaking trials for his mother.
Although tied to his mother's apron strings by bonds of mutual love, he
burned with the fire and ambition of youth; while I, reaching well
toward my threescore years, had almost outlived the lust for strife. Max
longed to spread his wings, but the conditions of his birth held him
chained to the rocks of Styria, on the pinnacle of his family's empty
greatness.

Perched among the mountain crags, our castle was almost impregnable; but
that was its only virtue as a dwelling-place. Bare walls, stone floors,
sour wine, coarse boar's meat, brown bread, and poor beds constituted
our meagre portion.

Duke Frederick was poor because his people were poor. They lived among
the rocks and crags, raised their goats, ploughed their tiny patches of
thin earth, and gave to the duke and to each man his due. They were
simple, bigoted, and honest to the heart's core.

Though of mean fortune, Duke Frederick was the head of the great House
of Hapsburg, whose founders lived in the morning mists of European
history and dwelt proudly amid the peaks of their mountain home. Our
castle in Styria was not the original Castle Hapsburg. That was built
centuries before the time of this story, among the hawks' crags of
Aargau in Switzerland. It was lost by the House of Hapsburg many years
before Max was born. The castle in Styria was its namesake.

To leaven the poor loaf of life in Castle Hapsburg, its inmates enjoyed
the companionship of the kindest man and woman that ever graced a high
estate--the Duke and Duchess of Styria. Though in their little court,
life was rigid with the starch of ceremony, it was softened by the
tenderness of love. All that Duke Frederick asked from his subjects was
a bare livelihood and a strict observance of ceremonious conventions.
Those who approached him and his son did so with uncovered head and
bended knee. An act of personal familiarity would have been looked on as
high treason. Taxes might remain unpaid, laws might be broken, and there
was mercy in the ducal heart; but a flaw in ceremony was unpardonable.

The boar's meat and the brown bread were eaten in state; the sour wine
was drunk solemnly; and going to bed each night was an act of national
importance. Such had been the life of this house for generations, and
good Duke Frederick neither would nor could break away from it.

Of all these painful conditions young Max was a suffering victim. Did
he sally forth to stick a wild boar or to kill a bear, the Master of the
Hunt rode beside him in a gaudy, faded uniform. Fore-riders preceded
him, and after-riders followed. He was almost compelled to hunt by
proxy, and he considered himself lucky to be in at the death. The bear,
of course, was officially killed by Maximilian, Count of Hapsburg, no
matter what hand dealt the blow. Maximilian, being the heir of Hapsburg,
must always move with a slow dignity becoming his exalted station. He
must, if possible, always act through an officer; I verily believe that
Duke Frederick, his father, regretted the humiliating necessity of
eating his own dinner.

Poor Max did not really live; he was an automaton.

Once every year Duke Frederick gave a tournament, the cost of which, in
entertainments and prizes, consumed fully two-thirds of his annual
income. On these occasions punctilious ceremony took the place of rich
wine, and a stiff, kindly welcome did service as a feast. These
tournaments were rare events for Max; they gave him a day of partial
rest from his strait-jacket life at the little court among the crags.

I shall give you here ten lines concerning myself. I am Italian by
birth--a younger son of the noble House of Pitti. I left home when but
little more than a boy. Journeying to the East, I became Sir Karl de
Pitti, Knight of the Holy Order of St. John, and in consequence I am
half priest, half soldier. My order and my type are rapidly passing
away. I fought and prayed in many lands during twenty years. To be
frank, I fought a great deal more than I prayed. Six years out of the
twenty I spent in Burgundy, fighting under the banner of Duke Philip the
Good, father to Charles the Rash. My mother was a Burgundian--a
Walloon--and to her love for things German I owe my name, Karl. During
my service under Duke Philip I met my Lord d'Hymbercourt, and won that
most valuable of all prizes, a trusted friend.

Fifteen years before the opening of this story I grew tired of fighting.
How I drifted, a sort of human flotsam, against the crags of Styria
would be a long, uninteresting story. By a curious combination of events
I assumed the duties of tutor to the small count, Maximilian of
Hapsburg, then a flaxen-haired little beauty of three summers. I taught
him all that was needful from books, and grounded him fairly well in
church lore, but gave my best efforts to his education in arms.

Aside from my duties as instructor to the young count, I was useful in
many ways about the castle. By reason of the half of me that was
priestly, I could, upon occasion, hear confession, administer the holy
sacrament, and shrive a sinner as effectively as the laziest priest in
Christendom. I could also set a broken bone, and could mix as bitter a
draught as any Jew out of Judea. So, you will see, I was a useful member
of a household wherein ancestry took the place of wealth, and pride was
made to stand for ready cash.

The good duke might have filled his coffers by pillaging travellers, as
many of his neighbors did; but he scorned to thrive by robbery, and
lived in grandiose but honest penury.

Max took readily to the use of arms, and by the time he was eighteen,
which was three years before our now famous journey to Burgundy, a
strong, time-hardened man might well beware of him. When the boy was
fourteen or fifteen, I began to see in him great possibilities. In
personal beauty and strength he was beyond compare. His eyes were as
blue as an Italian sky, and his hair fell in a mass of tawny curls to
his shoulders. His mother likened him to a young lion. Mentally he was
slow, but his judgment was clear and accurate. Above all, he was honest,
and knew not fear of man, beast, or devil. His life in Styria, hedged
about by ceremonious conventions, had given him an undue portion of
dignity and reticence, but that could easily be polished down by
friction with the rougher side of the world. Except myself and his
mother, he had never known a real friend.

To Max the people of the world were of two conditions: a very small
class to whom he must kneel, and a very large number who must kneel to
him. Even his mother addressed him publicly as "My Lord Count." On rare
occasions, in the deep privacy of her closet, mother-love would get the
better of her and break through the crust of ceremony. Then she indulged
herself and him in the ravishing, though doubtful, luxury of calling him
"Little Max." No one but I, and perhaps at rare intervals Duke
Frederick, ever witnessed this lapse from dignity on the part of Her
Grace, and we, of course, would not expose her weakness to the world.

This love-name clung to Max, and "Little Max," though somewhat
incongruous, was pretty when applied to a strapping fellow six feet two
and large of limb in proportion.

When the boy approached manhood, I grew troubled lest this strait-jacket
existence in Styria should dwarf him mentally and morally. So I began to
stir cautiously in the matter of sending him abroad into the world. My
first advances met with a rebuff.

"It is not to be thought of," said the duke.

"Send the count out to the rude world to associate with underlings?
Never!" cried the duchess, horrified and alarmed.

I had expected this, and I was not daunted. I renewed the attack from
different points, and after many onslaughts, I captured the bailey of
the parental fortresses; that is, I compelled them to listen to me. My
chief point of attack was Max himself. He listened readily enough, but
he could not see how the thing was to be done. When I spoke of the
luxuries of Italy and Burgundy, and told him of deeds of prowess
performed daily throughout the world by men vastly his inferior, his
eyes brightened and his cheek flushed. When I talked of wealth to be won
and glory to be achieved in those rich lands, and hinted at the barren
poverty of Styria, he would sigh and answer:--

"Ah, Karl, it sounds glorious, but I was born to this life, and father
and mother would not forgive me if I should seek another destiny. Fate
has fixed my lot, and I must endure it."

I did not cease my lay; and especially was the fat land of Burgundy my
theme, for I knew it well. Max would listen in enraptured silence. When
he was eighteen, I wrote, with deep-seated purpose, several letters to
my friend Lord d'Hymbercourt, who was at the time one of the councillors
of Charles the Rash, Duke of Burgundy. In those letters I dwelt at
length on the virtues, strength, and manly beauty of my pupil.

I knew that Charles often negotiated with other states the marriage of
his only child and heiress, Princess Mary. This form of treaty appeared
to be almost a mania with the rash Burgundian. I also knew that in no
instance had he ever intended to fulfil the treaty. His purpose in each
case was probably to create a temporary alliance with that one state
while he was in trouble with another. His daughter would inherit a
domain richer than that of any king in Europe, and the duke certainly
would be contented with nothing less than the hand of an heir to a
crown. Suitors for the fair Mary came from every land. All were
entertained; but the princess remained unbetrothed.

A few broad hints in my letters to Hymbercourt produced the result I so
much desired. One bright day our castle was stirred to its
foundation-stones by the arrival of a messenger from Duke Charles of
Burgundy, bearing the following missive:--

       *       *       *       *       *

"To His Grace, Duke Frederick of Styria, Elector of the Holy Roman
Empire, and Count of Austria; Charles, Duke of Burgundy and Count of
Charolois, sends greeting:--

"The said Duke Charles recommends himself to the most puissant Duke
Frederick, and bearing in mind the great antiquity and high nobility of
the illustrious House of Hapsburg, begs to express his desire to bind
the said noble House to Burgundy by ties of marriage.

"To that end, His Grace of Burgundy, knowing by fame the many virtues
of the young and valiant Count of Hapsburg, son to His Grace, Duke
Frederick, would, if it pleasures the said illustrious Duke Frederick,
suggest the appointment of commissioners by each of the high contracting
parties for the purpose of drawing a treaty of marriage between the
noble Count of Hapsburg and our daughter, Princess Mary of Burgundy. The
said commissioners shall meet within six months after the date of these
presents and shall formulate indentures of treaty that shall be
submitted to His Grace of Styria and His Grace of Burgundy.

"The lady of Burgundy sends herewith a letter and a jewel which she
hopes the noble Count of Hapsburg will accept as tokens of her esteem.

"May God and the Blessed Virgin keep His Grace of Styria in their
especial care."

Signed with a flourish. "CHARLES."

       *       *       *       *       *

This letter did not deceive me. I did not think for a moment that
Charles meant to give his daughter to Max. But it answered my purpose by
bringing Max to a realization of the nothingness of life in Styria, and
opening his eyes to the glorious possibilities that lay in the great
world beyond the mountain peaks.

Burgundy's missive produced several effects in the household of Castle
Hapsburg, though none were shown on the surface. I was glad, but, of
course, I carefully concealed the reasons for my pleasure from His
Grace. Duke Frederick was pleased to his toes and got himself very drunk
on the strength of it. Otherwise he smothered his delight. He "was not
sure"; "was not quite disposed to yield so great a favor to this
far-away duke"; "the count is young; no need for haste," and so on. The
duke had no intention whatever of sending such messages to Burgundy; he
simply wished to strut before his little court. Charles most certainly
would receive a pompous and affirmative answer. The poor duchess, torn
by contending emotions of mother-love and family pride, was flattered by
Burgundy's offer; but she was also grieved.

"We do not know the lady," she said. "Fame speaks well of her, but the
report may be false. She may not be sufficiently endued with religious
enthusiasm."

"She will absorb that from Your Grace," I answered.

Her Grace thought that she herself was religious and tried to impress
that belief on others; but Max was her god. In truth she was jealous of
any woman who looked on him twice, and she kept at the castle only the
old and harmless of the dangerous sex. She would have refused Burgundy's
offer quickly enough if her heart had been permitted to reply.

The effect of the letter on Max was tremendous. He realized its
political importance, knowing full well that if he could add the rich
domain of Burgundy to the Hapsburg prestige, he might easily achieve the
imperial throne. But that was his lesser motive. Hymbercourt's letters
to me had extolled Mary's beauty and gentleness. Every page had sung her
praises. These letters I had given to Max, and there had sprung up in
his untouched heart a chivalric admiration for the lady of Burgundy. He
loved an ideal. I suppose most men and every woman will understand his
condition. It was truly an ardent love.

Max kept Hymbercourt's letters, and would hide himself on the
battlements by the hour reading them, dreaming the dreams of youth and
worshipping at the feet of his ideal,--fair Mary of Burgundy, his
unknown lady-love.

Before the arrival of the messenger from Duke Charles, Max spoke little
of the Burgundian princess; but the message gave her a touch of reality,
and he began to open his heart to me--his only confidant.

There seemed to have been a reciprocal idealization going on in the
far-off land of Burgundy. My letters to Hymbercourt, in which you may be
sure Max's strength and virtues lost nothing, fell into the hands of
Madame d'Hymbercourt, and thus came under the eyes of Princess Mary.
That fair little lady also built in her heart an altar to an unknown
god, if hints in Hymbercourt's letters were to be trusted. Her maidenly
emotions were probably far more passive than Max's, though I have been
told that a woman's heart will go to great lengths for the sake of an
ideal. Many a man, doubtless, would fall short in the estimation of his
lady-love were it not for those qualities with which she herself
endows him.

Whatever the lady's sentiments may have been, my faith in Hymbercourt's
hints concerning them were strengthened by Mary's kindly letter and the
diamond ring for Max which came with her father's message to Styria.
They were palpable facts, and young Max built an altar in his holy of
holies, and laid them tenderly upon it.

Duke Frederick, with my help, composed a letter in reply to Burgundy's
message. It required many days of work to bring it to a form sufficient
in dignity, yet ample in assent. The missive must answer "yes" so
emphatically as to leave no room for doubt in Burgundy's mind, yet it
must show no eagerness on the part of Styria. (Duke Frederick always
spoke of himself as Styria.) Burgundy must be made to appreciate the
honor of this alliance; still, the fact must not be offensively
thrust upon him.

The letter was sent, and Charles of Burgundy probably laughed at it.
Duke Frederick appointed commissioners and fixed Cannstadt as the place
of meeting. Whatever Duke Charles's reasons for making the offer of
marriage may have been, they probably ceased to exist soon afterward,
for he never even replied to Duke Frederick's acceptance. For months
Castle Hapsburg was in a ferment of expectancy. A watch stood from dawn
till dusk on the battlements of the keep, that the duke might be
informed of the approach of the Burgundian messenger--that never came.
After a year of futile waiting the watch was abandoned. Anger, for a
time, took the place of expectancy; Duke Frederick each day drowned his
ill-humor in a gallon of sour wine, and remained silent on the subject
of the Burgundian insult.

Max's attitude was that of a dignified man. He showed neither anger nor
disappointment, but he kept the letter and the ring that Mary had sent
him and mused upon his love for his ideal--the lady he had never seen.

A letter from Hymbercourt, that reached me nearly two years after this
affair, spoke of a tender little maiden in Burgundy, whose heart
throbbed with disappointment while it also clung to its ideal, as tender
natures are apt to do. This hint in Hymbercourt's letter sank to the
tenderest spot in Max's heart.

On Max's twenty-first birthday he was knighted by the emperor. A grand
tournament, lasting five days, celebrated the event, and Max proved
himself a man among men and a knight worthy of his spurs. I had trained
him for months in preparation for this, his first great trial of
strength and skill. He was not lacking in either, though they would
mature only with his judgment. His strength was beyond compare. A man
could hardly span his great arm with both hands.

Soon after Max was knighted, I brought up the subject of his journey
into the world. I was again met by parental opposition; but Max was of
age and his views had weight. If I could bring him to see the truth, the
cause would be won. Unfortunately, it was not his desires I must
overcome; it was his scruples. His head and his heart were full of false
ideas and distorted motives absorbed from environment, inculcated by
parental teaching, and inherited from twenty generations of fantastic
forefathers. In-born motives in a conscientious person are stubborn
tyrants, and Max was their slave. The time came when his false but
honest standards cost him dearly, as you shall learn. But in Max's heart
there lived another motive stronger than the will of man; it was love.
Upon that string I chose to play.

One day while we were sunning ourselves on the battlements, I touched,
as if by chance, on the theme dear to his heart--Mary of Burgundy. After
a little time Max asked hesitatingly:--

"Have you written of late to my Lord d'Hymbercourt?"

"No," I answered.

A long pause followed; then Max continued: "I hope you will soon do so.
He might write of--of--" He did not finish the sentence. I allowed him
to remain in thought while I formulated my reply. After a time I said:--

"If you are still interested in the lady, why don't you go to Burgundy
and try to win her?"

"That would be impossible," he answered.

"No, no, Max," I returned, "not impossible--- difficult, perhaps, but
certainly not impossible."

"Ah, Karl, you but raise false hopes," he responded dolefully.

"You could at least see her," I returned, ignoring his protest, "and
that, I have been told, is much comfort to a lover!"

"Indeed, it would be," said Max, frankly admitting the state of his
heart.

"Or it might be that if you saw her, the illusion would be dispelled."

"I have little fear of that," he returned.

"It is true," I continued, "her father's domains are the richest on
earth. He is proud and powerful, noble and arrogant; but you are just as
proud and just as noble as he. You are penniless, and your estate will
be of little value; your father is poor, and his mountain crags are a
burden rather than a profit; but all Europe boasts no nobler blood than
that of your house. Lift it from its penury. You are worthy of this
lady, were her estates multiplied tenfold. Win the estates, Max, and win
the lady. Many a man with half your capacity has climbed to the pinnacle
of fame and fortune, though starting with none of your prestige. Why do
you, born a mountain lion, stay mewed up in this castle like a purring
cat in your mother's lap? For shame, Max, to waste your life when love,
fortune, and fame beckon you beyond these dreary hills and call to you
in tones that should arouse ambition in the dullest breast."

"Duke Charles has already insulted us," he replied.

"But his daughter has not," I answered quickly.

"That is true," returned Max, with a sigh, "but the Duke of Burgundy
would turn me from his gates."

"Perhaps he would," I replied, "if you should knock and demand surrender
to Maximilian, Count of Hapsburg. Take another name; be for a time a
soldier of fortune. Bury the Count of Hapsburg for a year or two; be
plain Sir Max Anybody. You will, at least, see the world and learn what
life really is. Here is naught but dry rot and mould. Taste for once the
zest of living; then come back, if you can, to this tomb. Come, come,
Max! Let us to Burgundy to win this fair lady who awaits us and
doubtless holds us faint of heart because we dare not strike for her. I
shall have one more sweet draught of life before I die. You will learn a
lesson that will give you strength for all the years to come, and will
have, at least, a chance of winning the lady. It may be one chance in a
million; but God favors the brave, and you have no chance if you remain
perched owl-like upon this wilderness of rock. Max, you know not what
awaits you. Rouse yourself from this sloth of a thousand years, and
strike fire from the earth that shall illumine your name to the end
of time!"

"But we have no money for our travels, and father has none to give me,"
he answered.

"True," I replied, "but I have a small sum in the hands of a merchant at
Vienna that will support us for a time. When it is spent, we must make
our bread or starve. That will be the best part of our experience. A
struggle for existence sweetens it; and if we starve, we shall deserve
the fate."

After three days Max gave me his answer.

"I will go with you, Karl," he said; "you have never led me wrong. If we
starve, I shall not be much worse off than I am here in Styria. It hurts
me to say that the love of my father and mother is my greatest danger;
but it is true. They have lived here so long, feeding on the poor
adulation of a poor people, that they do not see life truly. I have had
none of the joys and pleasures which, my heart tells me, life holds. I
have known nothing but this existence--hard and barren as the rocks that
surround me. I must, in time, return to Styria and take up my burden,
but, Karl, I will first live."

After this great stand, Max and I attacked first the father fortress and
then the mother stronghold. The latter required a long siege; but at
last it surrendered unconditionally, and the day was appointed when Max
and I should ride out in quest of fortune, and, perhaps,
a-bride-hunting. Neither of us mentioned Burgundy. I confess to
telling--at least, to acting--a lie. We said that we wished to go to my
people in Italy, and to visit Rome, Venice, and other cities. I said
that I had a small sum of gold that I should be glad to use; but I did
not say how small it was, and no hint was dropped that the heir to
Styria might be compelled to soil his hands by earning his daily bread.
We easily agreed among ourselves that Max and I, lacking funds to travel
in state befitting a prince of the House of Hapsburg, should go
incognito. I should keep my own name, it being little known. Max should
take the name of his mother's house, and should be known as Sir
Maximilian du Guelph.

       *       *       *       *       *

At last came the momentous day of our departure. The battlements of the
gate were crowded with retainers, many of them in tears at losing "My
young Lord, the Count." Public opinion in Castle Hapsburg unanimously
condemned the expedition, and I was roundly abused for what was held to
be my part in the terrible mistake. Such an untoward thing had never
before happened in the House of Hapsburg. Its annals nowhere revealed a
journey of an heir into the contaminating world. The dignity of the
house was impaired beyond remedy, and all by the advice of a foreigner.
There was no lack of grumbling; but of course the duke's will was law.
If he wished to hang the count, he might do so; therefore the grumbling
reached the duke's ears only from a distance.



CHAPTER II

KNIGHTS-ERRANT

The good mother had made a bundle for her son that would have brought a
smile to my lips had it not brought tears to my eyes. There were her
homely balsams to cure Max's ailments; true, he had never been ill, but
he might be. There was a pillow of down for his head, and a lawn
kerchief to keep the wind from his delicate throat. Last, but by no
means least, was the dear old mother's greatest treasure, a tooth of St.
Martin, which she firmly believed would keep her son's heart pure and
free from sin. Of that amulet Max did not stand in need.

We followed the Save for many leagues, and left its beautiful banks only
to journey toward Vienna. At that city I drew my slender stock of gold
from the merchant that had been keeping it for me, and bought a
beautiful chain coat for Max. He already had a good, though plain, suit
of steel plate which his father had given him when he received the
accolade. I owned a good plate armor and the most perfect chain coat I
have ever seen. I took it from a Saracen lord one day in battle, and
gave him his own life in payment. Max and I each bore a long sword, a
short sword, and a mace. We carried no lance. That weapon is burdensome,
and we could get one at any place along our journey.

I was proud of Max the morning we rode out of Vienna, true
knights-errant, with the greatest princess in Europe as our objective
prize. Truly, we were in no wise modest; but the God of heaven, the god
of Luck, and the god of Love all favor the man that is bold enough to
attempt the impossible.

My stock of gold might, with frugality, last us three months, but after
that we should surely have to make our own way or starve. We hoped that
Max would be successful in filling our purses with prize money and
ransoms, should we fall in with a tournament now and then; but, lacking
that good fortune, we expected to engage ourselves as escorts to
merchant caravans. By this kind of employment we hoped to be housed and
fed upon our travels and to receive at each journey's end a good round
sum of gold for our services. But we might find neither tournament nor
merchant caravan. Then there would be trouble and hardship for us, and
perhaps, at times, an aching void under our belts. I had often
suffered the like.

Ours, you see, was not to be a flower-strewn journey of tinselled prince
to embowered princess. Before our return to Styria, Max would probably
receive what he needed to make a man of him--hard knocks and rough
blows in the real battle of life. Above all, he would learn to know the
people of whom this great world is composed, and would return to
Hapsburg Castle full of all sorts of noxious heresies, to the
everlasting horror of the duke and the duchess. They probably would
never forgive me for making a real live man of their son, but I should
have my reward in Max.

To Max, of course, the future was rosy-hued. Caravans were waiting for
our protection, and princes were preparing tournaments for our special
behoof. _We_ want for food to eat or place to lay our heads? Absurd! Our
purses would soon be so heavy they would burden us; we should soon need
squires to carry them. If it were not for our desire to remain
incognito, we might presently collect a retinue and travel with herald
and banner. But at the end of all was sweet Mary of Burgundy waiting to
be carried off by Maximilian, Count of Hapsburg.

Just what the boy expected to do in Burgundy, I did not know. For the
lady's wealth I believe he did not care a straw--he wanted herself. He
hoped that Charles, for his own peace, would not be too uncivil and
would not force a desperate person to take extreme measures; but should
this rash duke be blind to his own interests--well, let him beware! Some
one _might_ carry off his daughter right from under the ducal nose. Then
let the Burgundian follow at his peril. Castle Hapsburg would open his
eyes. He would learn what an impregnable castle really is. If Duke
Charles thought he could bring his soft-footed Walloons, used only to
the mud roads of Burgundy, up the stony path to the hawk's crag, why,
let him try! Harmless boasting is a boy's vent. Max did not really mean
to boast, he was only wishing; and to a flushed, enthusiastic soul, the
wish of to-day is apt to look like the fact of to-morrow.

We hoped to find a caravan ready to leave Linz, but we were
disappointed, so we journeyed by the Danube to the mouth of the Inn, up
which we went to Muhldorf. There we found a small caravan bound for
Munich on the Iser. From Munich we travelled with a caravan to Augsburg,
and thence to Ulm, where we were overjoyed to meet once more our old
friend, the Danube. Max snatched up a handful of water, kissed it, and
tossed it back to the river, saying:--"Sweet water, carry my kiss to the
river Save; there give it to a nymph that you will find waiting, and
tell her to take it to my dear old mother in far-off Styria."

Do not think that we met with no hard fortune in our journeying. My gold
was exhausted before we reached Muhldorf, and we often travelled hungry,
meeting with many lowly adventures. Max at first resented the
familiarity of strangers, but hunger is one of the factors in
man-building, and the scales soon began to fall from his eyes. Dignity
is a good thing to stand on, but a poor thing to travel with, and Max
soon found it the most cumbersome piece of luggage a knight-errant
could carry.

Among our misfortunes was the loss of the bundle prepared by the
duchess, and with it, alas! St. Martin's tooth. Max was so deeply
troubled by the loss of the tooth that I could not help laughing.

"Karl, I am surprised that you laugh at the loss of my mother's sacred
relic," said Max, sorrowfully.

I continued to laugh, and said: "We may get another tooth from the first
barber we meet. It will answer all the purposes of the one you
have lost."

"Truly, Karl?"

"Truly," I answered. "The tooth was a humbug."

"I have long thought as much," said Max, "but I valued it because my
mother loved it."

"A good reason, Max," I replied, and the tooth was never afterward
mentioned.

From Ulm we guarded a caravan to Cannstadt. From that city we hoped to
go to Strasburg, and thence through Lorraine to Burgundy, but we found
no caravan bound in that direction. Our sojourn at Cannstadt exhausted
the money we got for our journeys from Augsburg and Ulm, and we were
compelled, much against our will, to accept an offer of service with one
Master Franz, a silk merchant of Basel, who was about to journey
homeward. His caravan would pass through the Black Forest; perhaps the
most dangerous country in Europe for travellers.

Knowing the perils ahead of us, I engaged two stout men-at-arms, and
late in February we started for Basel as bodyguard to good Master Franz.
Think of the heir of Hapsburg marching in the train of a Swiss merchant!
Max dared not think of it; he was utterly humiliated!

Our first good fortune at Muhldorf he looked on as the deepest
degradation a man might endure, but he could not starve, and he would
not beg. Not once did he even think of returning to Styria, and, in
truth, he could not have done so had he wished; our bridges were burned
behind us; our money was spent.

By the time we had finished half our journey to Basel, Max liked the
life we were leading, and learned to love personal liberty, of which he
had known so little. Now he could actually do what he wished. He could
even slap a man on the back and call him "comrade." Of course, if the
process were reversed,--if any one slapped Max on the back,--well,
dignity is tender and not to be slapped. On several occasions Max got
himself into trouble by resenting familiarities, and his difficulties at
times were ludicrous. Once a fist fight occurred. The heir of Hapsburg
was actually compelled to fight with his fists. He thrashed the poor
fellow most terribly, and I believe would have killed him had not I
stayed his hand. Another time a pretty girl at Augsburg became familiar
with him, and Max checked her peremptorily. When he grew angry, she
laughed, and saucily held up her lips for a kiss. Max looked at me in
half-amused wonder.

"Take it, Max; there is no harm in it," I suggested.

Max found it so, and immediately wanted more, but the girl said too many
would not be good for him. She promised others later on, if he were
very, very good. Thus Max was conquered by a kiss at the wayside.

The girl was very pretty, Max was very good, and she helped me
wonderfully in reducing his superfluous dignity. Her name was Gertrude,
and we spoke of her afterward as "Gertrude the Conqueror." She was a
most enticing little individual, and Max learned that persons of low
degree really may be interesting. That was his first great lesson. I had
some trouble after leaving Augsburg to keep him from taking too many
lessons of the same sort.

Our contract with Franz provided that we should receive no compensation
until after his merchandise had safely reached Basel, but then our
remuneration was to be large. Max had no doubt as to the safe arrival of
the caravan at Basel, and he rejoiced at the prospect. I tried to reduce
the rosy hue of his dreams, but failed. I suggested that we might have
fighting ahead of us harder than any we had known, though we had given
and taken some rough knocks on two of our expeditions. Max laughed and
longed for the fray; he was beginning to live. The fray came quickly
enough after we reached the Black Forest, and the fight was sufficiently
warm to suit even enthusiastic Max. He and I were wounded; one of our
men-at-arms was killed, and Franz's life was saved only by an heroic
feat of arms on Max's part. The robbers were driven off; we spent a
fortnight in a near-by monastery, that our wounds might heal, and again
started for Basel.

During the last week in March we approached Basel. Max had saved the
merchant's life; we had protected the caravan from robbery; and good
Franz was grateful. Notwithstanding our sure reward, Max was gloomy. The
future had lost its rosiness; his wound did not readily heal; Basel was
half a hundred leagues off our road to Burgundy. Why did we ever come to
Switzerland? Everything was wrong. But no man knows what good fortune
may lurk in an evil chance.

At the close of a stormy day we sighted Basel from the top of a hill,
and soon the lights, one by one, began to twinkle cosily through the
gloaming. All day long drizzling rain and spitting snow had blown in our
faces like lance points, driven down the wind straight from the icy
Alps. We were chilled to the bone; in all my life I have never beheld a
sight so comforting as the home lights of the quaint old Swiss city.

Franz soon found a wherry and, after crossing the Rhine, we marched
slowly down the river street, ducking our heads to the blast. Within
half an hour we passed under a stone archway and found ourselves snug in
the haven of our merchant's courtyard. Even the sumpter mules rejoiced,
and gave forth a chorus of brays that did one's heart good. Every tone
of their voices spoke of the warm stalls, the double feed of oats, and
the great manger of sweet hay that awaited them. Before going into the
house Max gave to each mule a stroke of his hand in token of affection.
Surely this proud automaton of Hapsburg was growing lowly in his tastes.
In other words, nature had captured his heart and was driving out the
inherited conventions of twenty generations. Five months of contact with
the world had wrought a greater cure than I had hoped five years would
work. I was making a man out of the flesh and blood of a Hapsburg. God
only knows when the like had happened before.

Max and I were conducted by a demure little Swiss maid to a large room
on the third floor of the house, overlooking the Rhine. There was no
luxury, but there was every comfort. There were two beds, each with a
soft feather mattress, pillows of down, and warm, stuffed coverlets of
silk. These were not known even in the duke's apartments at Hapsburg
Castle. There we had tarnished gold cloth and ancient tapestries in
abundance, but we lacked the little comforts that make life worth
living. Here Max learned another lesson concerning the people of this
world. The lowly Swiss merchant's unknown guest slept more comfortably
than did the Duke of Styria.

When we went down to supper, I could see the effort it cost Max to sit
at table with these good people. But the struggle was not very great;
five months before it would have been impossible. At Hapsburg he sat at
table with his father and mother only; even I had never sat with him in
the castle. At Basel he was sitting with a burgher and a burgher's frau.
In Styria he ate boar's meat from battered silver plate and drank sour
wine from superannuated golden goblets; in Switzerland he ate tender,
juicy meats and toothsome pastries from stone dishes and drank rich
Cannstadt beer from leathern mugs. His palate and his stomach jointly
attacked his brain, and the horrors of life in Hapsburg appeared in
their true colors.

On the morning of our second day at Basel, Franz invited us to be his
guests during our sojourn in the city. His house was large, having been
built to entertain customers who came from great distances to buy
his silks.

Max and I had expected to leave Basel when our wounds were entirely
healed, but we changed our minds after I had talked with Franz. The
conversation that brought about this change occurred one morning while
the merchant and I were sitting in his shop. He handed me a purse filled
with gold, saying:--

"Here is twice the sum I agreed to pay. I beg that you accept it since I
shall still be in your debt."

I knew by the weight of the gold that it was a larger sum than I had
ever before possessed. I did not like to accept it, but I could not
bring myself to refuse a thing so important to Max.

"We should not accept this from you, good Franz, but--but--"

"The boy saved my life and my fortune," he interrupted, "and I am really
ashamed to offer you so small a sum. You should have half of all
my goods."

I protested and thanked him heartily, not only for his gift, but also
for his manner of giving. Then I told him of our intended journey to
Burgundy--of course not mentioning the princess--and asked if he knew of
any merchant who would soon be travelling that way.

"There are many going down the river from Basel to Strasburg," he
answered, "and you may easily fall in with one any day. But there will
soon be an opportunity for you to travel all the way to Burgundy. I
know the very man for your purpose. He is Master George Castleman of
Peronne. He comes every spring, if there is peace along the road, to buy
silks. We now have peace, though I fear it will be of short duration,
and I am expecting Castleman early this season. He will probably be here
before the first of May. He is a rich merchant, and was one of the
councillors of Duke Philip the Good, father to the present Duke of
Burgundy. Years ago Duke Philip built a house for him abutting the walls
of Peronne Castle. It is called 'The House under the Wall,' and
Castleman still lives in it. He refused a title of nobility offered him
by Duke Philip. He is not out of favor with the present duke, but he
loves peace too dearly to be of use to the hot-headed, tempestuous
Charles. Duke Charles, as you know, is really King of Burgundy--the
richest land on earth. His domain is the envy of every king, but he will
bring all his grandeur tumbling about his head if he perseveres in his
present course of violence and greed."

At that moment Max joined us.

"I hear this Duke Charles has no son to inherit his rich domain?" I
observed interrogatively.

"No," answered Franz. "He has a daughter, the Princess Mary, who will
inherit Burgundy. She is said to be as gentle as her father is violent.
Castleman tells me that she is gracious and kind to those beneath her,
and, in my opinion, that is the true stamp of greatness."

Those were healthful words for Max.

"The really great and good have no need to assert their qualities," I
answered.

"Castleman often speaks of the princess," said Franz. "He tells me that
his daughter Antoinette and the Princess Mary have been friends since
childhood--that is, of course, so far as persons so widely separated by
birth and station can be friends."

I briefly told Max what Franz had said concerning Castleman, and the
young fellow was delighted at the prospect of an early start
for Peronne.

In Max's awakening, the radiance of his ideal may have been dimmed, but
if so, the words of Franz restored its lustre. If the boy's fancy had
wandered, it quickly returned to the lady of Burgundy.

I asked Franz if Duke Charles lived at Peronne.

"No, he lives at Ghent," he answered; "but on rare occasions he visits
Peronne, which is on the French border. Duke Philip once lived there,
but Charles keeps Peronne only as his watch-tower to overlook his old
enemy, France. The enmity, I hope, will cease, now that the Princess
Mary is to marry the Dauphin."

This confirmation of a rumor which I had already heard was anything but
welcome. However, it sensitized the feeling Max entertained for his
unknown lady-love, and strengthened his resolution to pursue his
journey to Burgundy at whatever cost.

I led Franz to speak of Burgundian affairs and he continued:--

"The princess and her stepmother, the Duchess Margaret, live at Peronne.
They doubtless found life at Ghent with the duke too violent. It is said
that the duchess is unhappily wedded to the fierce duke, and that the
unfortunate princess finds little favor in her father's eyes because he
cannot forgive her the grievous fault of being a girl."

While Franz was talking I was dreaming. A kind providence had led us a
half-hundred leagues out of our road, through wounds and hardships, to
Basel; but that quiet city might after all prove to be the open doorway
to Max's fortune. My air-castle was of this architecture: Max would win
old Castleman's favor--an easy task. We would journey to Peronne, seek
Castleman's house, pay court to Antoinette--I prayed she might not be
too pretty--and--you can easily find your way over the rest of
my castle.

Within a fortnight Max and I had recovered entirely from our wounds, and
were abroad each day in the growing warmth of the sunshine. We did not
often speak of Castleman, but we waited, each day wishing for his
speedy advent.

At last, one beautiful evening early in May, he arrived. Max and I were
sitting at our window watching the river, when the little company rode
up to the door of the merchant's shop. With Castleman were two young
women hardly more than girls. One of them was a pink and white young
beauty, rather tall and somewhat stout. Her face, complexion, and hair
were exquisite, but there was little animation in her expression. The
other girl had features less regular, perhaps, but she was infinitely
more attractive. She was small, but beautiful in form; and she sprang
from her horse with the grace of a kitten. Her face was not so white as
her companion's, but its color was entrancing. Her expression was
animated, and her great brown eyes danced like twinkling stars on a
clear, moonless night.

The young women entered the house, and we saw nothing more of them for
several days.

When we met Castleman, he gladly engaged our services to Peronne, having
heard from Franz of our adventures in the Black Forest. We left the
terms to him, and he suggested a compensation far greater than we should
have asked. The sum we received from Franz, together with that which we
should get from Castleman, would place us beyond want for a year to
come. Surely luck was with us.

After Castleman's arrival our meals were served in our room, and we saw
little of him or of Franz for a week or more. Twice I saw Castleman ride
out with the young women, and after that I haunted the front door of
the house. One bright afternoon I met them as they were about to
dismount. Castleman was an old man and quite stout, so I helped him from
his horse. He then turned to the fair girl of pink and white, saying:--

"Antoinette, daughter, this is Sir Karl de Pitti, who will accompany us
to Peronne."

I made my bow and assisted Fraeulein Antoinette to the ground. The other
young lady sprang nimbly from her saddle without assistance and waited,
as I thought, to be presented. Castleman did not offer to present her,
and she ran to the house, followed by serene Antoinette. I concluded
that the smaller girl was Fraeulein Castleman's maid. I knew that great
familiarity between mistress and servant was usual among the
burgher class.

The smaller girl was certainly attractive, but I did not care for her
acquaintance. Antoinette was the one in whose eyes I hoped to find
favor, first for myself and then for Max. By her help I hoped Max might
be brought to meet the Princess of Burgundy when we should reach
Peronne. I had little doubt of Max's success in pleasing Antoinette; I
was not at all anxious that he should please the smaller maid. There was
a saucy glance in her dark eyes, and a tremulous little smile constantly
playing about her red, bedimpled mouth, that boded trouble to a
susceptible masculine heart. Max, with all his simplicity, though not
susceptible, had about him an impetuosity when his interest was aroused
of which I had learned to stand in wholesome dread. I was jealous of any
woman who might disturb his dreams of Mary of Burgundy, and this little
maid was surely attractive enough to turn any man's head her way if she
so desired.

Later in the afternoon I saw Fraeulein Antoinette in the shop looking at
silks and laces. Hoping to improve the opportunity, I approached her,
and was received with a serene and gracious smile. Near Antoinette were
the saucy brown eyes and the bedimpled mouth. Truly they were
exquisitely beautiful in combination, and, old as I was, I could not
keep my eyes from them. The eyes and dimples came quickly to Antoinette,
who presented me to her "Cousin Fraeulein Yolanda Castleman." Fraeulein
Yolanda bowed with a grace one would not expect to find in a burgher
girl, and said with the condescension of a princess:--

"Sir Karl, you pleasure me."

I was not prepared for her manner. She probably was _not_ Antoinette's
maid. A pause followed my presentation which might have been meant by
the brown-eyed maid as permission to withdraw. But I was for having
further words with Antoinette. She, however, stepped back from her
cousin, and, if I was to remain, I must speak to my lady Fraeulein
Yolanda Castleman or remain silent, so I asked,--

"Do you reside in Basel, Fraeulein?"

"No, no," she replied, with no touch of bourgeois confusion, "I am a
Burgundian. Uncle Castleman, after promising Twonette" (I spell the name
as she pronounced it) "and me for years, has brought us on this long
journey into the world. I am enjoying it more than any one can know, but
poor uncle lives in dread of the journey home. He upbraids himself for
having brought us and declares that if he but had us home again, nothing
could induce him to start out with such a cargo of merchandise."

"Well he may be fearful," I answered. "Where one's greatest treasure is,
there is his greatest fear, but peace reigns on the road to Burgundy,
and I hope your good uncle's fears are without ground save in his love."

"I hear you are to accompany us, and of course we shall be safe," she
said, the shadow of a smile playing suspiciously about her mouth and
dancing in her eyes.

"Yes, I am to have that great _honor_," I replied, bowing very low. I,
too, could be sarcastic.

"Does the--will the--the gentleman who is with you accompany us?" asked
Fraeulein Yolanda. So! These maidens of Burgundy had already seen my
handsome Max! This one would surely be tempting him with her eyes and
her irresistible little smile.

"Yolanda!" exclaimed serene Twonette. Yolanda gave no heed.

"Yes, Fraeulein," I responded. "He goes with us. Do you live in Peronne?"

"Y-e-s," she replied hesitatingly. "Where is your home and your
friend's?"

"Yolanda!" again came in tones of mild remonstrance from Fraeulein
Antoinette. The dimples again ignored the warning and waited for
my answer.

"We have no home at present save the broad earth, Fraeulein," I
responded.

"You cannot occupy it all," she retorted, looking roguishly up to me.

"No," I responded, "we are occupying this part of the earth at present,
but we hope soon to occupy Burgundy."

"Please leave a small patch of that fair land for Twonette and me," she
answered, in mock entreaty. After a short pause she continued:--

"It seems easier for you to ask questions than to answer them."

"Fraeulein," I responded, "your question is not easily answered. I was
born in Italy. I lived for many years in the East, and--"

"I did not ask for your biography," she said, interrupting me. I did not
notice the interruption, but continued:--

"I spent six years in your fair land of Burgundy. My mother was a
Walloon. I dearly love her people, and hope that my home may soon be
among them."

The girl's face had been slightly clouded, but when I spoke lovingly of
the Walloons, the dimples again played around her mouth and a smile
brightened her eyes.

"I also am a Walloon," she answered; "and your friend? He surely is not
Italian: he is too fair."

"The Lombards are fair," I answered, "and the Guelphs, you know, are of
Lombardy. You may have heard of the Houses of Guelph and of Pitti."

"I have often heard of them," she answered; then, after a short
silence,--"I fear I have asked too many questions." A gentle, apologetic
smile lighted her face and won me instantly. I liked her as much as I
admired her. I knew that she wanted me to speak of Max, so to please her
I continued, even against my inclination:--

"My young friend, Sir Maximilian du Guelph, wanted to see the world. We
are very poor, Fraeulein, and if we would travel, we must make our way as
we go. We have just come from Ulm and Cannstadt, passing through the
Black Forest. Sir Max saved the life of our host, and in so doing was
grievously wounded. Good Master Franz rewarded us far beyond our
deserts, and for the time being we think we are rich."

"The name Maximilian is not Italian," observed Yolanda. "It has an
Austrian sound."

"That is true," I responded. "My name, Karl, is German. Few names
nowadays keep to their own country. Your name, Yolanda, for example,
is Italian."

"Is that true?" she answered inquiringly, taking up a piece of lace. I
saw that the interview was closing. After a moment's hesitation Yolanda
turned quickly to me and said:--

"You and your friend may sup with us this evening in the dining room of
our hostess. We take supper at five."

The invitation was given with all the condescension of a noble lady.
Twonette ventured:--

"What will father say, Yolanda?"

"I can guess what uncle will say, but we will give him his say and take
our own way. Nonsense, Twonette, if we are to journey to Peronne with
these gentlemen, our acquaintance with them cannot begin too soon. Come,
Sir Karl, and--and bring your young friend, Sir Maximilian."

It was clear to my mind that, without my young friend, Sir Maximilian, I
should not have had the invitation. Yolanda then turned to Franz and his
silks, and I, who had always thought myself of some importance, was
dismissed by a burgher girl. I soothed my vanity with the thought that
beauty has its own prerogatives.

Without being little, Yolanda was small; without nobility, she had the
_haute_ mien. But over and above all she had a sweet charm of manner, a
saucy gentleness, and a kindly grace that made her irresistible. When
she smiled, one felt like thanking God for the benediction.

That evening at five o'clock Max and I supped with Frau Franz. The good
frau and her husband sat at either end of the table, Castleman, his
daughter, and Yolanda occupied one side, while I sat by Max opposite
them. If Castleman had offered objection to the arrangement, he had
been silenced.

I was especially anxious that Max should devote himself to Twonette,
but, as I had expected, Yolanda's attractions were far too great to be
resisted. There was a slight Walloon accent in her French and German (we
all spoke both languages) that gave to her voice an exquisite cadence. I
spoke to her in Walloonish, and she was so pleased that she seemed to
nestle toward me. In the midst of an animated conversation she suddenly
became silent, and I saw her watching Max's hand. I thought she was
looking at his ring. It was the one that Mary of Burgundy had given him.



CHAPTER III

YOLANDA THE SORCERESS

Several days passed, during which we saw the Castlemans frequently. One
evening after supper, when we were all sitting in the parlor, Yolanda
enticed Max to an adjoining room, on the excuse of showing him an
ancient piece of tapestry. When it had been examined, she seated herself
on a window bench and indicated a chair for Max near by. Among much that
was said I quote the following from memory, as Max told me afterward:--

"So you are from Italy, Sir Max?" queried Yolanda, stealing a glance at
his ring.

"Yes," returned Max.

"From what part, may I ask?" continued the girl, with a slight
inclination of her head to one side and a flash from beneath the
preposterously long lashes toward his hand.

"From--from Rome," stammered Max, halting at even so small a lie.

"Ah, Sir Karl said you were from Lombardy," answered the girl.

"Well--that is--originally, perhaps, I was," he returned.

"Perhaps your family lives in both places?" she asked very seriously.

"Yes, that is the way of it," he responded.

"Were you born in both places?" asked Yolanda, without the shadow of a
smile. Max was thinking of the little lie he was telling and did not
analyze her question.

"No," he answered, in simple honesty, "you see I could not be born in
two places. That would be impossible."

"Perhaps it would be," replied Yolanda, with perfect gravity. Max was
five years her senior, but he was a boy, while she had the self-command
of a quick-witted woman, though she still retained the saucy
impertinence of childhood. Slow-going, guileless Max began to suspect a
lurking intention on Yolanda's part to quiz him.

"Did not Sir Karl say something about your having been born in Styria?"
asked the girl, glancing slyly at the ring.

"No, he did not," answered Max, emphatically. "I suppose I was born in
Rome--no, I mean Lombardy--but it cannot matter much to you, Fraeulein,
where I was born if I do not wish to tell."

The direct course was as natural to Max as breathing. The girl was
startled by his abruptness. After a pause she continued:--

"I am sure you are not ashamed of your birthplace, and--"

He interrupted her sharply:--

"I also am sure I am not ashamed of it."

"If you had permitted me to finish," she said quietly, "you would have
had no need to speak so sharply. I spoke seriously. I wanted to say that
I am sure you have no reason to feel ashamed of your birthplace, and
that perhaps I ought not to have asked a question that you evidently do
not want to answer. Uncle says if my curiosity were taken from me, there
would be nothing left but my toes."

Her contrition melted Max at once, and he said:--

I will gladly tell you, Fraeulein, if you want to know. I was born--"

"No, no," she interrupted, "you shall not tell me. I will leave you at
once and see you no more if you do. Besides, there is no need to tell
me; I already know. I am a sorceress, a witch. I regret to make the
confession, but it is true; I am a witch."

"I believe you are," answered Max, looking at her admiringly and seating
himself beside her on the window bench. He had learned from Gertrude of
Augsburg and many other burgher girls that certain pleasantries were
more objectionable to them in theory than in practice; but this burgher
girl rose to her feet at his approach and seemed to grow a head taller
in an instant. He quietly took his old place and she took hers. She
continued as if unconscious of what had happened:--

"Yes, I am a sorceress." Then she drew her face close to Max, and,
gazing fixedly into his eyes, said solemnly:--

"I can look into a person's eyes and know if they are telling me the
truth. I can tell their fortunes--past, present, and future. I can tell
them where they were born. I can tell them the history of anything of
value they have. Their jewellery, their--"

"Tell me any one of those things concerning myself," interrupted Max,
suddenly alive with interest.

"No, it is too great a strain upon me," answered the girl, with amusing
gravity.

"I entreat you," said Max, laughing, though deeply interested. "I
believe you can do what you say. I beg you to show me your skill in only
one instance."

The girl gently refused, begging Max not to tempt her.

"No, no, I cannot," she said, "good Father Brantome has told me it is
sinful. I must not."

Half in jest but all in earnest, Max begged her to try; and, after a
great deal of coaxing, she reluctantly consented to give a very small
exhibition of her powers. Covering her face with her hands, she remained
for the space of a minute as if in deep thought. Then, making a series
of graceful and fantastic passes in the air with her hands, as if
invoking a familiar spirit, she said in low, solemn tones:--

"You may now sit by me, Sir Max. My words must not be heard by any ears
save yours."

Max seated himself beside the girl.

"Give me your word that you will tell no one what I am about to do and
say," she said.

"I so promise," answered Max, beginning to feel that the situation was
almost uncanny.

"Now, place in my hand some jewel or valued article of which I may
speak," she said.

Excepting his sword and dagger, Max owned but one article of value--the
ring Mary of Burgundy had given him. He hesitatingly drew it from his
finger and placed it in the girl's hand. She examined it carefully,
and said:--

"Now, give me your hand, Sir Max." Her hand was not much larger than a
big snowflake in early spring, Max thought, and it was completely lost
to sight when his great fingers closed over it. The velvety softness of
the little hand sent a thrill through his veins, and the firm,
unyielding strength of his clasp was a new, delicious sensation to the
girl. Startled by it, she made a feeble effort to withdraw her hand; but
Max clasped it firmly, and she surrendered. After a short silence she
placed the ring to her forehead, closed her eyes, and drew her face so
near to Max that he felt her warm breath on his cheek. Max was learning
a new lesson in life--the greatest of all. She spoke in soft whispers,
slowly dropping her words one by one in sepulchral tones:--

"What--do--I see--surely I am wrong. No--I see clearly--a lady--a great
lady--a princess. She smiles upon a man. He is tall and young. His face
is fair; his hair falls in long, bright curls like yours. She gives him
this ring; she asks him to be her husband--no--surely a modest maiden
would not do that." She stopped suddenly, snatched her hand from Max,
returned the ring and cried, "No more, no more!"

She tossed her hands in the air, as if to drive off the spirits, and
without another word ran to the parlor laughing, and threw herself on
Uncle Castleman's knee. Max slowly made the sign of the cross and
followed the little enchantress. She had most effectually imposed on
him. He was inclined to believe that she had seen the ring or had heard
of it in Burgundy before the princess sent it; but Yolanda could have
been little more than a child at that time--three years before. Perhaps
she was hardly past fourteen, and one of her class would certainly not
be apt to know of the ring that had been sent by the princess. She might
have received her information from Twonette, who, Franz said, was
acquainted with Mary of Burgundy; but even had Yolanda heard of the
ring, the fact would not have helped her to know it.

After our first evening with the Castlemans we got on famously
together. True, Max and I felt that we were making great concessions,
and I do not doubt that we showed it in many unconscious words and acts.
This certainly was true of Max; but Yolanda's unfailing laughter, though
at times it was provoking, soon brought him to see that too great a
sense of dignity was at times ridiculous. He could not, however, always
forget that he was a Hapsburg while she was a burgher girl, and his good
memory got him many a keen little thrust from her saucy tongue. If Max
resented her sauciness, she ran away from him with the full knowledge
that he would miss her. She was much surer that she pleased and
delighted him than he was that he pleased her, though of the latter fact
she left, in truth, little room for doubt.

Max was very happy. He had never before known a playmate. But here in
Basel the good Franz and his frau, Yolanda, Twonette, fat old Castleman,
and myself were all boys and girls together, snatching the joys of life
fresh from the soil of mother earth, close to which we lived in rustic
simplicity.

Since we had left Styria, our life, with all its hardships, had been a
delight to Max, but it was also a series of constantly repeated shocks.
If the shocks came too rapidly and too hard, he solaced his bruised
dignity with the thought that those who were unduly familiar with him
did not know that he was the heir of the House of Hapsburg. So day by
day he grew to enjoy the nestling comfort of a near-by friend. This, I
grieve to say, was too plainly seen in his relations with Yolanda, for
she unquestionably nestled toward him. She made no effort to conceal her
delight in his companionship, though she most adroitly kept him at a
proper distance. If she observed a growing confidence in Max, she
quickly nipped it by showing him that she enjoyed my companionship or
that of old Franz just as much. On such occasions Max's dignity and
vanity required balm.

"Oh, Karl," he said to me one evening while we were preparing for bed,
"it seems to me I have just wakened to life, or have just got out of
prison. No man can be happy on a pinnacle above the intimate friendships
of his fellow-man and--and woman."

"Yes, 'and woman.' Well put, Max," said I.

Max did not notice my insinuation, but continued:--

"I have lived longer since knowing these lowly friends than in all the
years of my life in Styria. Karl, you have spoiled a good, stiff-jointed
Hapsburg, but you have made a man. If nothing more comes of this journey
into the world than I have already had, I am your debtor for life. What
would my dear old father and mother say if they should see me and know
the life I am leading? In their eyes I should be disgraced--covered
with shame."

"When you go back to Hapsburg," I said, "you can again take up your
old, petrified existence and eat your husks of daily adulation. You will
soon again find satisfaction in the bended knee, and will insist that
those who approach you bow deferentially to your ancestors."

"I shall, of course, return to Hapsburg," he said. "It is my fate, and
no man can change the destiny to which he was born. I must also endure
the bowing and the adulation. Men shall honor my ancestors and respect
in me their descendant, but I shall never again be without friends if it
be in my power to possess them. As I have said, that is difficult for
one placed above his fellow-man."

"There is the trouble with men of your degree," I answered. "Friends are
not like castles, cities, and courtly servitors. Those, indeed, one may
really own; but we possess our friends only as they possess us. Like a
mirror, a friend gives us only what we ourselves give. No king is great
enough to produce his own image unless he stands before the glass."

"Teach me, Karl, to stand before the glass," said Max, plaintively.

"You are before it now, my dear boy," I answered. "These new friends are
giving you only what you give them. With me, you have always been before
the glass."

"That has been true," said Max, "ever since the first day you entered
Hapsburg. Do you remember? I climbed on your knee and said, 'You have a
big, ugly nose!' Mother admonished me, and I quickly made amends by
saying, 'But I like you.'"

"I well remember, Max," I responded. "That day was one of mutual
conquest. That is the prime condition of friendship: mutual conquest and
mutual surrender. But you must have other friends than me. You see I am
not jealous. You must have friends of your own age."

"I now realize why I have hungered all my life," said Max, "though I
have never before known: I longed for friends. Is it not strange that I
should find them among these low-born people? It surely cannot be wrong
for me to live as I do, though father and mother would doubtless deem it
criminal."

"These good burgher folk are making you better and broader and
stronger," I answered. "But there is one thing I want to suggest: you
are devoting too much of your time to the brown-eyed little maid. You
must seek favor with Twonette. She is harmless, and through her you may,
by some freak of fortune, reach the goal of your desires. With the
prestige of your family and the riches of Burgundy, you may become the
most powerful man in the world, save the Pope."

"Perhaps Fraeulein Yolanda is also acquainted with the Princess Mary,"
responded Max, half reluctantly speaking Mary's name.

"No," I answered, "she is not." I asked her if she were. She laughed at
the suggestion, and said: 'Oh, no, no, the princess is a very proud
person and very exclusive. She knows but one burgher girl in Peronne, I
am told. That one is Twonette, and I believe she treats her most
ungraciously at times. I would not endure her snubs and haughty ways as
Twonette does. I seek the friendship of no princess. Girls of my own
class are good enough for me. "Twonette, fetch me a cup of wine."
"Twonette, thread my needle." "Twonette, you are fat and lazy and sleep
too much." "Twonette, stand up." "Twonette, sit down." Faugh! I tell you
I want none of these princesses, no, not one of them. I hate princesses,
and I tell you I doubly hate this--this--' She did not say whom she
doubly hated. She is a forward little witch, Max. She laughed merrily at
my questions concerning the princess, and asked me if we were going to
Burgundy to storm Mary's heart. 'Who is to win her?' she asked. 'You,
Sir Karl, or Sir Max? It must be you. Sir Max is too slow and dignified
even to think of scaling the walls of a maiden fortress. It must be you,
Sir Karl.' The saucy little elf rose from her chair, bowed low before me
and said, 'I do liege homage to the future Duke of Burgundy.' Then she
danced across the room, laughing at my discomfiture. She is charming,
Max, but remember Gertrude the Conqueror! Such trifling affairs are well
enough to teach a man the a-b-c of life but one with your destiny ahead
of him must not remain too long in his alphabet. Such affairs are for
boys, Max, for boys."

"Do not fear for me, Karl," answered Max, laughingly. "We are not apt to
take hurt from dangers we see."

"Do you clearly see the danger?" I suggested.

"I clearly see," he responded. "I admire Fraeulein Yolanda as I have
never admired any other woman. I respect her as if she were a princess;
but one of the penalties of my birth is that I may not think of her nor
of one of her class. She is not for me; she is a burgher maiden--out of
my reach. For that reason I feel that I should respect her."

The attitude of Max toward Yolanda was a real triumph of skill and
adroitness over inherited convictions and false education. She had
brought him from condescension to deference solely by the magic of her
art. Or am I wrong? Was it her artlessness? Perhaps it was her artful
artlessness, since every girl-baby is born with a modicum of that
dangerous quality.

"Perhaps you are right, Karl," added Max. "I may underrate the power of
this girl. As you have said, she is a little witch. But beneath her
laughter there is a rare show of tenderness and strength, which at
times seems pathetic and almost elfin. You are right, Karl. I will
devote myself to Twonette hereafter. She is like a feather-bed in that
she cannot be injured by a blow, neither can she give one; but
Yolanda--ah, Karl, she is like a priceless jewel that may be shattered
by a blow and may blind one by its radiance."

But Max's devotion to Twonette was a failure. She was certainly willing,
but Yolanda would have none of it, and with no equivocation gave every
one to understand as much. Still, she held Max at a respectful distance.
In fact, this Yolanda handled us all as a juggler tosses his balls. Max
must not be too attentive to her, and he must not be at all attentive to
Twonette. In this arrangement Twonette acquiesced. She would not dare to
lift her eyes to one upon whom Yolanda was looking!

Here was illustrated the complete supremacy of mind over matter.
Castleman, Twonette, Franz and his frau, Max and I, all danced when the
tiny white hand of Yolanda pulled the strings. A kiss or a saucy nod for
Castleman or Twonette, a smile or a frown for Max and me, were the
instruments wherewith she worked. Deftly she turned each situation as
she desired. Max made frequent efforts to obtain a private moment with
her, that he might ask a few questions concerning her wonderful
knowledge of his ring--they had been burning him since the night of her
sorcery--but, though she knew quite well his desire to question her, she
gave him no opportunity.

During the time that Castleman was buying his silks, the members of our
little party grew rapidly in friendship. In culture, education, and
refinement, the Castlemans were far above any burghers I had ever known.
Franz and his wife, though good, simple people, were not at all in
Castleman's class. They felt their inferiority, and did not go abroad
with us, though we supped daily with them. Each evening supper was a
little fete followed by a romp of amusement, songs, and childish games
in the frau's great parlor.

The Castlemans, Max, and I made several excursions into the mountains.
Yolanda and Twonette were in ecstasy at the mountain views, which were
so vividly in contrast with the lowlands of Burgundy.

"These mountains are beautiful," said patriotic Yolanda, "but our
lowlands raise bread to feed the hungry."

On one occasion we rode to the Falls of Schaffhausen, and often we were
out upon the river. During these expeditions Yolanda adroitly kept our
little party together, and Max could have no private word with her.

I had never been so happy as I was during the fortnight at Basel while
Castleman was buying silk. I was almost a child again; my fifty odd
years seemed to fall from me as an eagle sheds his plumes in spring. We
were all happy and merry as a May-day, and our joyousness was woven from
the warp and woof of Yolanda's gentle, laughing nature. Without her, our
life would have been comfortable but commonplace.

During all this time Max pondered in vain upon the remarkable manner in
which Yolanda had divined the secret of his ring. He longed to question
her, but she would not be questioned until she was ready to answer.

On a certain morning near the close of our sojourn in Basel, Max, after
many elephantine manoeuvres, obtained Yolanda's promise to walk out with
him to a near-by hill in the afternoon. It was a Sabbath day, and every
burgher maiden in Basel that boasted a sweetheart would be abroad with
him in the sunshine. Max could not help feeling that it was most
condescending in him, a prince, to walk out with Yolanda, a burgher
maiden. Should any one from Styria meet him, he would certainly sink
into the ground, though in a certain way the girl's reluctance seemed to
place the condescension with her.

After dinner, which we all took together that day, she put him off with
excuses until drowsy Uncle Castleman had taken himself off for a nap.
Then Yolanda quickly said:--

"Fetch me my hood, Twonette. I shall not need a cloak. I am going to
walk out with Sir Max."

Twonette instantly obeyed, as if she were a tire-woman to a princess,
and soon returned wearing her own hood and carrying Yolanda's.

"Ah, but you are not to come with us," said Yolanda. She was ready to
give Max the opportunity he desired, and would give it generously.

"But--but what will father say?" asked Twonette, uneasily.

"We shall learn what he says when we return. No need to worry about that
now," answered Yolanda. Twonette took off her hood.

Max and Yolanda climbed the hill, and, after a little demurring on the
girl's part, sat down on a shelving rock at a point where the river view
was beautiful. As usual, Yolanda managed the conversation to suit
herself, but after a short time she permitted Max to introduce the
subject on which he wished to talk.

"Will you tell me, Fraeulein," he asked, "how you were enabled to know
the history of my ring? I cannot believe you are what you said--a
sorceress--a witch."

"No, no," she answered laughingly, "I am not a sorceress."

"You almost made me believe you were," said Max, "but I am slow of wit,
as you have doubtless observed. I told Sir Karl you said you were a
sorceress, and he said--"

"You gave me your word you would not tell!" exclaimed Yolanda.

"Neither did I tell aught save that you said you were a sorceress. He
laughed and said--"

"Yes, yes, what did he say?" eagerly queried the girl.

"He said--I am sure you will not take amiss what he said?" responded
Max.

"No, no, indeed no! Tell me," she demanded eagerly.

"He said you were a witch, if brown eyes, dimpling smiles, and girlish
beauty could make one," answered Max.

"Ah, did he say that of me?" asked the girl, musingly. After a pause she
continued, "That was kind in Sir Karl and--and evidently sincere." After
another pause devoted to revery she said: "Perhaps I shall be his friend
sometime in a manner he little expects. Even the friendship of a
helpless burgher girl is not to be despised. But he is wrong. I am not
beautiful," she poutingly continued. "Now let us examine my face." She
laughed, and settled herself contentedly upon the stone, as if to take
up a serious discussion. "I often do so in the mirror. Vain? Of course
I am!"

"I am only too willing to examine it," said Max, laughingly.

"My mouth," she said, pursing her lips and lifting her face temptingly
for his inspection, "my mouth is--"

"Perfect," interrupted Max.

She looked surprised and said, "Ah, that was nicely spoken, Little Max,
and quickly, for you."

"'Little Max'!" exclaimed the young man. "Where heard you that name? No
one save my mother has ever used it; no one but Karl and my father has
ever heard her speak the words. Did Karl tell you of it?"

"Karl did not tell me," she responded, "and I never heard any one speak
the name. The name fits you so well--by contraries--that it came to me,
perhaps, by inspiration."

"That hardly seems possible," returned Max, "and your knowledge of how I
received the ring is more than remarkable."

"Let us talk about my face," said the girl, full of the spirit of
mischief, and wishing to put off the discussion of the ring. "Now, my
eyes, of which Sir Karl spoke so kindly, are--"

"The most wonderful in the world," interrupted Max. "They are brilliant
as priceless jewels, fathomless as deep water, gentle and tender as--"

"There, there, Little Max," she cried, checking with a gesture his flow
of unexpected eloquence. "I declare! you are not so slow as you seem. I
will tell you just how much of a sorceress I am. I thought to flatter
you by saying a great lady had given you the ring, and lo, I was right
unless you are adroitly leading me to believe in my own sorcery. Is she
a great lady? Come, tell me the story."

She unconsciously moved nearer to him with an air of pleasant
anticipation.

"Yes, it was a great lady, a very great lady who gave me the ring," he
said most seriously.

"And was I right in my other divination?" she asked, looking down and
flushing slightly. "Did--did she wish to marry you? But you need not
answer that question."

"I will gladly answer it," returned Max, leaning forward, resting his
elbow on his knees and looking at the ground between his feet. "I hoped
she did. I--I longed for it."

"Perhaps she possessed vast estates?" asked the girl, a slight frown
gathering on her brow.

"Yes, she possessed vast estates," said Max, "but I would gladly have
taken her penniless save for the fact that I am very poor, and that she
would suffer for the lack of luxuries she has always known."

"But how could the lady have felt sure you were not seeking her for the
sake of her estates?" asked Yolanda.

"She could not know," answered Max. "But I sought her for her own sake
and for no other reason."

"What manner of person was she?" asked Yolanda. "Was she dark or light,
short or tall, plain of feature or beautiful, amiable of temper or
vixenish? Was she like any one you have ever seen?"

She spoke in deep earnest and looked eagerly up to his face.

"She was beautiful of feature," answered Max. "Her eyes and her hair
were dark as yours are. She was short of stature, I have been told."

Yolanda laughed merrily: "I declare, Sir Max, you were in love with a
lady you had never seen. It was her estate you loved."

"No, no," said Max, earnestly. "I ardently desired--"

"Perhaps if you were to see her, your enthusiasm would vanish," said
Yolanda, interrupting him almost sharply. "My magic tells me she is a
squat little creature, with a wizened face; her eyes are sharp and
black, and her nose is a-peak, not unlike mine. That, she is sour and
peevish of temper, as I am, there can be no doubt. And, although she be
great and rich as the Princess of Burgundy, I warrant you she is not one
whit handsomer nor kinder in disposition than I."

Max started on hearing Mary of Burgundy's name, but quickly recovering
himself said:--

"I would not wish her better than you in any respect. You wrong both
yourself and the lady to speak as you do. Those who know her say the
lady has not her like in all the world."

A soft light came to Yolanda's face as he spoke, and she answered
slowly:--

"Doubtless the lady had like news of you, and is curious to know what
manner of man you are. She too may have dreamed of an ideal."

"How do you know she has never seen me?" asked Max, who had not fully
caught her reply when she spoke of the fact that he had never seen the
lady of the ring. "I shall surely come to believe you are a sorceress."

"No, I am not," she answered emphatically. "You shall carry that jest no
further. A moment since you said those who know her say so and so, and
you believed she was short of stature. Had you ever seen the lady, you
would know if she were tall or short. You would not be in doubt upon so
important a matter as the stature of your lady-love."

The reasoning and the reasoner were so irresistible that Max was easily
satisfied.

"But you have spoken of the lady as in the past. I hope she is not
dead?" asked Yolanda.

"No," answered Max, gravely, "our fathers did not agree. That is, her
father was not satisfied, and it all came to nothing save a--a
heartache for me."

It was well that Max was looking at the ground when she turned the soft
radiance of her eyes upon him, else he might have learned too much. His
modesty and honesty in admitting frankly that the lady's father was not
satisfied with the match pleased her and she sat in silence, smiling
contentedly. After a time she turned almost fiercely upon him:--

"Do you know what I should do, Sir Max, were I in your place?"

"What would you do, Fraeulein?" queried Max.

"I would show the lady that I was worthy of her by winning her, even
though she were on a throne, guarded by a thousand dragons. I am a
woman, Sir Max, and I know a woman's heart. The heart of a princess is
first the heart of a woman. Be sure the lady will thank you and will
reward you if you fight your way to her and carry her off against all
the world."

"But how is that to be done, Fraeulein?" asked Max, carelessly. In truth,
Mary of Burgundy was not uppermost in his heart at that moment.

"That is for a man to say and for a man to do," she responded. "A woman
knows only how to wait and to long for one who, alas! may never come.
She will wait for you, Sir Max, and when you come to her, she will place
her hand in yours and go with you wherever you wish to take her. Of
this, at least, my powers of sorcery are sufficient to assure you. Do
not fear! do not fear!"

She spoke earnestly, as if from the depths of a personal experience. Her
eyes glowed with the light of excitement and her face was radiant. Max
turned to her and saw all this beauty. Then he gently took her hand and
said huskily:--

"If I thought she were like you, Fraeulein, I would gladly go to the end
of the world to win from her even one smile."

"No, no, Sir Max," said Yolanda, withdrawing her hand, "we must have no
more such speeches from you. They are wrong coming from one of your
degree to a burgher girl of Peronne, if she be an honest girl. Our
stations are too far apart."

"That is true, Fraeulein," answered Max, sorrowfully, "but I mean no
disrespect. I honor you as if you were a princess"--here his tones took
energy and emphasis--"but I meant what I said, Fraeulein, I meant what I
said, and though I shall never say it again, I know that I shall mean it
all the days of my life."

The expression in her eyes as she looked up at him was one of mingled
pleasure and amusement. It seemed to say, "Do not be too sure that you
will never say it again," but she said nothing. After a moment she
suggested:--

"Shall we return, Sir Max?" They rose, and as they started back to Basel
he remarked:--

"The words 'Little Max' on your lips sounded sweet to me, Fraeulein.
They bring home to me the voice of my mother, and though I should not
care to hear another speak them, still, the words are very pretty on
your lips, and I like them."

Yolanda glanced quickly up to him with radiant eyes. He caught the
glance, and the last vestige of his ideal, Mary of Burgundy, left his
heart, driven out by the very real little enchantress that walked by
his side.



CHAPTER IV

DOWN THE RHINE TO BURGUNDY

Notwithstanding the idle, happy life we were leading, I was anxious to
begin our journey to Burgundy. Just what would--or could--happen when we
should reach that land of promise--perhaps I should say of no promise--I
did not know. I hoped that by some happy turn of fortune--perhaps
through Twonette's help--Max might be brought to meet Mary of Burgundy.
I had all faith in his ability to please her, or any woman, but what
advantage he could gain by winning her regard I could not guess. The
lady's personal preference would cut no figure in the choosing of a
husband. Her father would do that for her, and she would be powerless
against the will of a man whose chief impulses were those of a mad bull.
This arrogant duke, without so much as a formal withdrawal, had ignored
Duke Frederick's acceptance and had contracted his daughter's hand to
the Dauphin of France, who was a puny, weak-minded boy of fourteen.

Should Max and I go to Burgundy and say to Charles, "This is Maximilian
of Styria, to whom you offered your daughter in marriage," his answer
might be a sword thrust. Should the duke learn of our unbidden presence
in his domain, his love for making enemies would probably bring us into
trouble. Therefore, though I ardently wished to begin the journey, I had
no real cause to hope for good results, though there were many reasons
to fear the outcome of our adventures.

One may well ask why I continued in a course so dangerous. My answer is:
A man travels the road of his destiny. The Fates sometimes hunt out a
man for their purposes and snatch him from his hiding-place in the
by-ways, but they usually choose from the scenes of great events their
victims or their favorites. The man who fears to be their victim is
seldom chosen for their favorite. I should rather be their victim than
be overlooked; and what I should have chosen for myself I desired for
Max. I had no future save in him; I had been overlooked in the by-ways.

At the time of our journeying all Europe turned on a Burgundian pivot,
and the Fates were busy in that land. It was the stage of the world, on
which the strong, the great, and the enterprising of mankind were
playing; and I hoped that Max, who was strong and enterprising, would
find his part in this Burgundian drama. I was willing to risk
sacrificing him, though he was dearer to me than the blood of my heart,
if I might stand even a small chance to make him great.

At strange variance with my philosophy, I had faith in Max's luck. It
was more than faith; it was a fixed, intuitive conviction that he would
win. For these reasons, all growing out of what I felt rather than what
I reasoned, we continued our dangerous and apparently useless journey.
When a man feels himself led by an unseen hand, he should gladly follow.
There is an intuition that is better than reason.

       *       *       *       *       *

One bright morning in May we began our journey down the Rhine. My fears
had no place in Max's heart, and his self-confidence was to me a
harbinger of good fortune. A man may do anything that he knows he can
do; failure never disappoints him who expects it.

We left Basel by the west gate and took the road for Strasburg, leading
down the west bank of the Rhine. That was not the most direct route to
Peronne, but it was the safest because of the numerous river towns
wherein we might lie safely by night. The robber barons whom we had to
fear along the river were at least not pilfering vagabonds, such as we
should meet across country. Against the open attack of a brave foe we
felt that we could make a good defence. Our fighting force consisted of
Max, myself, and two lusty squires. We had also a half-score of men who
led the sumpter mules.

Castleman had purchased two beautiful chargers in Basel, pretending that
he wished to take them to Peronne for sale. He asked Max to ride one and
offered the other for my use. I was sure that his only reason for buying
the horses was his desire to present them to us, which he afterward did.
Max named his charger "Night," because of its spotless coat of black.
Yolanda rode a beautiful white mare which we re-christened "Day."
Castleman bestrode an ambling Flemish bay, almost as fat as its master
and quite as good-natured, which, because of its slowness, Yolanda
dubbed "Last Week."

We travelled slowly down the Rhine, enjoying the scenery and filling our
hearts with the sunshine of the soft spring days. Our cautious merchant
so arranged our lodging-places that we were never on the road after
dark. His system caused much delay, as we often rested a half-day in a
town that we might be able to lodge there over night. In this deliberate
manner of proceeding, life was a sweet, lazy holiday, and our journey
was like a May outing. We were all very happy--almost ominously so.

After the explanation between Max and Yolanda on the hill at Basel she
made no effort to avoid him, and he certainly did not avoid her. They
both evidently rested on his remark that he would never again speak
upon a certain subject. They fully understood each other's position.

Max knew that between him and the burgher maiden there could be no
thought of marriage. She, it seemed, was equally aware of that fact. All
that he had been taught to value in life--father, mother, family and
position, his father's subjects, who would one day be his, his father's
throne, on which he would one day sit--stood between him and Yolanda.
They stood between him and the achievement of any desire purely personal
to himself and not conducive to the welfare of his state. He felt that
he did not belong to himself; that his own happiness was never to be
considered. He belonged to his house, his people, and his ancestors.

Max had not only been brought up with that idea as the chief element in
his education, but he had also inherited it from two score generations
of men and women that had learned, believed, and taught the same lesson.
We may by effort efface the marks of our environment, but those we
inherit are bred in the bone. Yolanda was not for Max. He could not
control his heart; it took its inheritance of unbidden passion from a
thousand scores of generations which had lived and died and learned
their lesson centuries before the House of Hapsburg began; but he could
control his lips and his acts.

With Max's growing love for Yolanda came a knightly reverence which was
the very breath of the chivalry that he had sworn to uphold. This spirit
of reverence the girl was quick to observe, and he lost nothing by it in
her esteem. At times I could see that this reverential attitude of Max
almost sobered her spirits; to do so completely would have been as
impossible as to dam the current of a mountain stream.

On the evening of our first day out of Basel we were merrily eating our
suppers in a village where we had halted for the night, when I remarked
that I had met a man, while strolling near the river, who had said that
war was imminent between Burgundy and Switzerland. My remark immediately
caught Yolanda's sharp attention.

"Yes," said I, "we left Switzerland none too soon. This man tells me, on
what authority I know not, that a herald will soon be sent by Duke
Charles carrying defiance to the Swiss. What of value the duke expects
to obtain from barren Switzerland outside of Basel, I do not know.
Fighting for fighting's sake is poor sport."

"Forbear your wise saws, Sir Karl, and tell me what the man said,"
demanded Yolanda.

"He told me," I replied, "that he had heard the news at Metz, and that
it was supposed Duke Rene would muster his forces in Lorraine and turn
them against Burgundy in case of war with Switzerland."

"I predicted evil when Burgundy took Nancy from Lorraine," cried
Yolanda, excitedly. "The hollow conventions made with Lorraine after the
capture of that city were but the promises of a man under duress. The
only ties that will bind a narrow man are those of immediate
self-interest. There can be no lasting treaty between France and
Burgundy so long as King Louis covets Flanders and is able to bribe our
neighbors. These conventions between Burgundy, Lorraine, Bourbon, and
St. Pol will hold only so long as Burgundy does not need them."

"That is surely true, Fraeulein," I said.

"Yes," she continued, "and should Burgundy suffer any great misfortune
or be crippled for an hour, those small states would be upon his back
like a pack of wolves, and he would be ruined. Lorraine, Bourbon, and
St. Pol do not see that Burgundy alone stands between them and the
greedy maw of France. Should King Louis survive my--my Lord of Burgundy
five years, these dukes and counts will lose their feudal rights and
become servile vassals of France, not in name, as now they are, but in
sorry fact."

I was so astonished at this tempestuous outburst from an unexpected
quarter, and was so surprised at discovering an intimate knowledge of
great affairs in a simple burgher maid, that I dropped the piece of meat
I held in my fingers and stared in wonder across the table at Yolanda. I
had known from the first hour of meeting her that the girl's mind was
marvellously keen; but that a maid of seventeen or eighteen, in her
position, should have so firm a grasp of international affairs and
should possess so clear a conception of the troublous situation in
western Europe, astounded me.

In eastern Europe, where we were not blinded by neighborly hatred and
local jealousies, the truth of Yolanda's statement had long been
apparent. We carried our prophecy further and predicted that the
headlong passions of Charles the Rash would soon result in his death or
overthrow.

My point in dragging in this heavy load of political lore is this: In
case of the death of Charles of Burgundy, the future of western Europe
would depend on the brains and the bravery of the man who should marry
the Princess Mary. I felt that Max was chosen of God for that destiny.
Should he succeed in defending Burgundy against France, he would become
the most powerful man in Europe. No event save death could keep him from
achieving the imperial crown.

If the existing treaty of marriage between Mary and the Dauphin of
France were carried out, and if the Dauphin as king should possess
one-half the wisdom of his father, Louis, all western Europe would soon
be France. If this treaty were to fail and the Princess Mary espouse a
man capable of defending her territory, Burgundy would still remain a
wall of protection to the smaller states of the Rhine.

A long silence followed Yolanda's outburst, but her words had so
astonished me that my supper for the evening was finished. Castleman
plied his knife industriously; Yolanda nibbled at a piece of meat
between her dainty fingers, and Twonette gazed serenely out of the
open window.

Yolanda's words and Castleman's constraint filled me with wonder. There
was to me a mystery about this little beauty that had not been touched
on by my friend from Peronne. I hoped to gain information on the point
by inducing Yolanda to talk. She was willing enough.

"Fraeulein," I said, "I quite agree with you. It is a matter of surprise
to me that these noblemen you mention do not see the truth as you
state it."

"They are fools, Sir Karl, sodden fools," exclaimed Yolanda. "You could
buy their souls for a sou. King Louis buys them with an empty promise
of one."

"Why does not Duke Charles buy them?" I asked. "'Tis said he has
enormous quantities of ready gold in Luxembourg Castle."

"Because, Sir Karl," she responded almost savagely, "bribery is the
weapon of a coward. The Duke of Burgundy uses his money to pay
soldiers."

"But, Fraeulein," I answered, "the duke has for years--ever since before
his father's death--been wasting his money, sacrificing his soldiers,
and despoiling his land by wars, prosecuted to no good end. He has
conquered large territory, but he has paid for it with the blood of his
people. Neither they nor he are the better because of those accessions,
and the duke has made enemies who will one day surely wrest them from
him. A brave prince should not fear to be called a coward because of an
act that will bring peace and happiness to his subjects and save their
lives, their liberties, and their estates. That great end will ennoble
any means. The subjects of Burgundy are frugal and peace-loving. They
should be protected from the cruel cost of useless war. I would not
criticise Duke Charles, whose bravery is beyond compare, but for the
sake of his people I could wish that his boldness were tempered with
caution. Policy, not blows, appears to me the only way out of his
present and imminent danger."

"Perhaps you are right, Sir Karl," answered Yolanda, "but I advise you
to keep your views to yourself when you reach Burgundy. Should they come
to the duke's ears, you might lose yours."

"Indeed, Fraeulein, your warning is unnecessary," I responded laughingly.
"I already know the disposition of the duke toward those who disagree
with him. His ungovernable passions will surely lead him to a terrible
end. Bravery, if wise, is one of the noblest attributes of men. The
lack of wisdom makes it the most dangerous. Duke Charles ought to temper
his courage with love for his people. He should fight, when he must,
with wise bravery. If he should die, God pity the poor people of
Burgundy unless their princess choose a husband both wise and brave."

"But she will not be allowed to choose," cried Yolanda, passionately.
"Her freedom is less than that of any serf. She is bound hand and foot
by the chains of her birth. She is more to be pitied than the poorest
maiden in Burgundy. The saddest of all captives is she who is chained to
a throne."

"That surely is the bitterest draught fate offers to mortal man," sighed
Max.

"Yes," whispered Yolanda, huskily. "One cannot rebel; one may not even
kill one's self when one is condemned to live. One can do nothing but
endure and wait in haunting fear and, in rare moments, hope against a
million chances."

Evidently she meant us to know that she sorrowed for Max's martyrdom,
though how she had learned of his true station in life I could
not guess.

"It is strange," said I to Castleman, when Yolanda and Twonette had left
us, "that Fraeulein Yolanda, who seems to be all laughter and
thoughtlessness, should be so well informed upon the affairs of princes
and princesses, and should take this public matter so much to heart."

"Yes, she is a strange, unfortunate girl," answered Castleman, "and
truly loves her native land. She would, I believe, be another Joan of
Arc, had she the opportunity. She and her father do not at all agree. He
wholly fails to comprehend her."

"Is her father your brother?" I asked. I felt a sense of impertinence in
putting the question, but my curiosity was irresistible.

"Yes," answered Castleman, hesitatingly; then, as if hurrying from the
subject, he continued, "Her mother is dead, and the girl lives chiefly
under my roof."

I wanted to ask other questions concerning Yolanda, but I kept silent. I
had begun to suspect that she was not what she passed for--a burgher
girl; but Castleman was a straightforward, truthful man, and his words
satisfied me. I had, at any rate, to be content with them, since
Yolanda's affairs were none of mine. Had I not been sure that Max's
training and inheritance gave him a shield against her darts, she and
her affairs would have given me deep concern. At that time I had all the
match-making impulses of an old woman, and was determined that no woman
should step between Max and the far-off, almost impossible Princess
of Burgundy.

When we resumed our journey the next morning Yolanda was demure, grave,
and serious; but the bright sun soon had its way with her, and within a
half-hour after leaving the village she was riding beside Max, laughing,
singing, and flashing her eyes upon him with a lustre that dimmed the
sun--at least, so Max thought, and probably he was right. That evening
Max told me much of Yolanda's conversation.

The road we were travelling clung to the Rhine for several leagues. In
many places it was cut from the bank at the water's edge. At others it
ran along the brink of beetling precipices. At one of these Max guided
his horse close to the brink, and, leaning over in his saddle, looked
down the dizzy heights to the river below.

"Please do not ride so near the brink, Sir Max," pleaded Yolanda. "It
frightens me."

Max had little of the braggadocio spirit about him, but no rightly
constituted young man is entirely devoid of the desire to "show off" in
the presence of timid and interesting ladies. Without that spirit of
"show-off," what would induce our knights to meet in glorious
tournaments? Without it, what would our chivalry amount to? Without it,
why should a peacock spread its tail? I do not belittle it, since from
this spirit of "show-off" arises one great good--respect for the opinion
of our fellow-man. So Max, with a dash of "show-off" in his disposition,
laughed at Yolanda's fears and answered that he was in no danger.

"It is very brave in you, Sir Max, to go so near the brink," said
Yolanda, ironically, "but do you remember what Sir Karl said concerning
'wise bravery'? There can be no need for your bravery, and therefore no
wisdom in it. Were there good reason why you should go near the brink, I
should despise you if you refused; but there is no reason and, since it
frightens me, I wish you would remain in the road."

"Gladly I will," answered Max, reining his horse beside her.

"Do you know," said Yolanda, with as much seriousness as she could
easily command, "that your friend, Sir Karl, is a philosopher? His
phrase, 'wise bravery,' clings to me. I certainly wish the Duke of
Burgundy would learn it and take it to heart."

"I have heard many conflicting stories concerning this Duke Charles,"
said Max. "Some persons say he is all that is brave and noble; others
declare that he is fierce, passionate, and bad. I wonder which I shall
find him to be?"

"Do you expect to take service with him?" asked Yolanda, half sadly. At
the mention of the duke's name all smiles and dimples fled
incontinently.

"No," answered Max, "I think I shall not take service with the duke. In
truth, I don't know what I shall do. For what purpose I am going to
Burgundy I am sure I cannot say."

A short silence ensued, which was broken by Yolanda, speaking archly:--

"Perhaps you are going to Burgundy or to France to win the lady who gave
you the ring?" Max was surprised, and flushed as he answered:--

"That would be an impossible thought, Fraeulein. If you but knew who the
lady is, you would understand that such a hope on my part were a
phantasy. But I have no such hope or wish. I do not now want to win the
lady of the ring."

"No, no, Sir Max," said Yolanda, protestingly, "you must not basely
desert this lady-love whom you have never seen. If trouble should come
to her, whoever she is, you must hasten to her rescue and carry her
away. The best opportunity to rob, you know, comes in the midst of a
melee. Take her, Sir Max. I wish you success."

"Do you really wish me success, Fraeulein?" asked Max, looking straight
ahead. He was not at all flattered by her good wishes concerning the
lady of the ring.

"Indeed I do," responded the girl, joyously; "I will pray to the Virgin
and ask her to help you to win this fair lady who gave you the ring."

"I thank you for your good wishes," returned Max, "though I could easily
be satisfied with less enthusiasm on the subject."

"Indeed? Why, may I ask?"

"Because, Fraeulein--because I had hoped--" Max ceased speaking, and,
leaning forward, smoothed his horse's mane.

Yolanda waited for a moment and then, turning her face toward Max,
asked:--

"You had hoped for what, Sir Max?"

"I had hoped for nothing, Fraeulein," he answered. "I am satisfied as
matters now stand between us. Your words at supper last evening rang in
my ears all night, 'Chained to a throne; chained to a throne.' I knew
you referred to my unhappy lot when you spoke, though how you guessed
the truth concerning my station I do not know."

A surprised little smile spread over her face, but he did not see it. He
was still smoothing his horse's mane.

"You cannot know the terrible truth of your words," continued Max. "I
will tell you a part of my secret, Fraeulein. All my life I have been cut
off--chained to a throne--from the fellowship of men and the love of
friends. Karl is the only friend I have ever known save my mother until
I met you and your good people. Only the good God can know how I have
longed and hungered since childhood for friendship; even for
companionship. I did not know what I yearned for until since my arrival
at Basel. Truly it is not good for man to be alone, even though he be
upon a throne. I am not upon a throne, Fraeulein, but I am near one--a
small, barren throne, whose greatest attribute is its ancestry. My home
is a sad, lonely place--how lonely even you, who have guessed so
shrewdly and who speak so eloquently, cannot know. You should thank God
for your lowly birth and your lowly friends."

"I do," the girl answered, with a queer, half-sad, half-amused
expression upon her face which Max could not interpret.

"But we cannot break the chains that have been welded a thousand
years--that have grown stronger and tighter with each generation," said
Max. "You truthfully said, 'One may only endure.'"

"I also said that at rare moments one may hope," she answered, with
drooping head.

"Not I, Fraeulein. I may not even hope. I am doomed," answered Max.

"No, no, Sir Max," responded the drooping head.

After a prolonged silence Max said, "I am sure the secret of my station
is safe with you."

"You need not doubt, Sir Max," she responded. "You cannot know how safe
it is." She turned brightly upon him and continued, "Let me invoke my
spirits, Sir Max." She raised her eyes, saint-fashion, toward heaven,
and spoke under her breath: "I hear the word 'hope,' Sir Max, 'hope.' It
is very faint, but better faint than not at all."

"I tell you there is no hope for me, Fraeulein," responded Max,
desperately. "It is cruel in you to say there is. It is doubly cruel to
speak jestingly."

"I speak earnestly," said Yolanda. "There is hope. If you win the lady
who gave you the ring, you will be happy. I do not jest."

"You do. You mock me," cried Max. "I tell you, Yolanda, there is in all
the world no woman for me save--save one upon whom I may not think."
Yolanda's face grew radiant, though tears moistened her eyes. "Even
though it were possible for me to defy my parents, to turn my face
against my country, my people, and the sacred traditions of my house, by
asking her to share my life, there could be only wretchedness ahead for
her, and therefore unhappiness for me. The dove and the eagle may not
mate. Consider the fate of sweet Agnes Bernauer, who married Duke Albert
and perished in the Danube. I tell you, Fraeulein, I am hopeless. When I
return to my people, I shall do so knowing that life thereafter will be
something to endure, not a blessing to thank God for."

"No, no, Sir Max," murmured the girl, "you do not know."

Max turned upon her almost angrily:--

"A man knows when he lives; a man knows when he is dying, and a man, if
he be worthy of the name, knows when he loves a woman. I am not sure
that the sun shines, Fraeulein, than I am that I shall not forget this
woman nor cease to sorrow for her all the days of my life."

"You must not speak such words to me, Sir Max," said Yolanda,
reprovingly. "I, too, must live and be happy if--if I can."

She turned her face away from Max and, touching her horse with her whip,
passed a few feet ahead of him. If there were tears in her eyes, she did
not wish Max to see them. After several minutes of silence he spurred
his horse to her side.

"I did not intend to speak, Fraeulein. I once said I would never speak
again. I should not have spoken now, though I have told you only what
you already know. I ask no favor in return, not even a touch from
your hand."

"You shall have that at least, Sir Max," she answered, impulsively
reining her horse close to Max and placing her hand in his.

"Still, you wish me to win the lady who sent me the ring?" asked Max.

"Yes," returned Yolanda, softly. "It will mean your happiness and
mine--" Suddenly checking herself, she explained: "I shall be happy if
you are. A man cannot know how happy a woman may be for another's sake."

I felt no desire to reprove Max when he told me of his day's adventure
with Yolanda, since I could in no way remedy the evil. In fact, Max was
growing out of my jurisdiction. He had listened to my lectures and
advice since childhood and had taken them kindly, because my authority
grew out of my love for him and his love for me. He was a boy when we
left Styria, but he was a man when we were journeying down the Rhine.
Though the confidential relations between us had grown closer, my advice
was gradually taking the form of consultation. I did not seek his
confidences, and he gave them more freely, if that were possible, than
ever before. I did not offer my advice so readily, but he sought it more
frequently. Max told me the sorrowful little story of the day, and I did
not comment on it. I simply led him in another direction.

"Fraeulein Yolanda's words have given me food for thought," I said. "So
long as Duke Charles lives, there can be no union between Burgundy and
Hapsburg; but at the pace he is travelling he will surely receive his
_coup de grace_ before long, and I hope you will meet and know the
princess before the tragedy occurs. Then declare yourself and back your
claim with the duke's proposal, which has never been withdrawn. That the
people of Burgundy hate France and this French marriage there can be no
doubt. They are fools for so doing, but we may easily profit by their
lack of wisdom. In the event of the duke's death the inclinations of the
princess will be half the battle. So long as he lives they are no part
of it. If, by the help of Twonette, you should be so fortunate as to
meet the princess, our dream may be realized, and our house may become
the greatest in Europe."

"I suppose you are right, Karl," answered Max. "You are always right;
but I have no heart in this matter, and I hope nothing will come of it.
I have never known you to be so cold-blooded as in this affair."

"If you are to be hot-blooded, or even warm-blooded, you must turn your
back on your house and cast from you the duties and privileges of your
birth," I observed.

"You are right," he answered irritably. "But it will be difficult for me
to please one woman while thinking of another. Ah, Karl, I am growing
tired of this Burgundian dream. Dream? It is almost a nightmare."

Max's words did not alarm me; he was "chained to a throne." He would not
fail me if the hour of good fortune should come.

"Your thoughts of another woman will not stand in your way," I said.
"Experience is more necessary in dealing with women than in any other of
life's affairs, and this episode with Yolanda is what you need to
prepare you for--for what I pray you may have to do."

"Karl, please do not talk of this--this--my feeling for Yolanda as an
episode," he said, speaking almost angrily. "It is a part of my life,
and will be my sorrow as long as I live."

The boy's anger warned me that if I would lead him, I must do it gently.

"I believe, Max, you speak truly," I said; "but it will not be an
unmixed evil. Good will come of it, since the image of a pure woman
injures no man's heart. It keeps him in the narrow way and guides his
hand for righteousness."



CHAPTER V

WHO IS YOLANDA?

Next morning Yolanda came to breakfast smiling, bedimpled, and sparkling
as a sunlit mountain brook. Max, who was gloomy, took her sprightliness
amiss, thinking, no doubt, that her life also ought to be darkened by
the cloud that he thought was over-shadowing him. There was no doubt in
my mind that Yolanda had inspired a deep and lasting passion in Max,
though he was, I hoped, mistaken in the belief that it would darken his
life. But I would not give a kreutzer for a young fellow who does not
feel that life is worthless without his lady-love.

Yolanda did not take kindly to clouds of any sort, and she soon
scattered those that Max had conjured up. After we had resumed our
journey Max fell back to ride with her.

"Sir Max," she said, "if you allow yourself to become The Knight
Doleful, I will not only cease having speech with you, but I will
laugh at you."

The latter she did then and there. This from a burgher girl of Peronne
to a prince of the House of Hapsburg! The good duke and duchess would
have swooned with horror had they known of it. Max was inclined to be
angry, but, unfortunately for his ill-humor, he caught a glimpse of her
face, and he, too, laughed.

"I fear I am a great fool," he said. Yolanda did not contradict him. She
simply shrugged her shoulders as if to say, "That unfortunate condition
is apt, at times, to overtake the best of men."

Soon our little cavalcade came together, and we rode, laughing, and all
talking at once, for a league or more.

Our road had parted from the river at one of its great bends, and for an
hour we had been slowly climbing a long hill. When we reached the top,
we unsaddled for dinner in the shade of a tree by the wayside. A hundred
yards from the road was a dense copse of undergrowth and bushes on the
edge of the forest. Off to the east flowed the majestic Rhine, a league
distant, and to the north ran the road like a white ribbon, stretching
downhill to the valley and up again to the top of another hill, distant
perhaps a half-league.

While we were eating dinner, a cloud of dust arose from the hilltop
north of us, and immediately began descending in our direction. At
intervals, in the midst of the dust-cloud, we caught glimpses of men on
horseback riding at full gallop. This unwelcome sight brought our dinner
to an end. I at once ordered the sumpter mules taken to the copse on
the forest's edge, and directed every man to look to his arms and armor.
I asked Twonette and Yolanda to go with the mules, and Yolanda
became angry.

"_I_ go with the mules? Sir Karl, you forget yourself," cried the young
lady, drawing herself up with the dignity of a princess royal. Twonette
ran as rapidly as her feet could take her to seek refuge with the mules,
but Yolanda, with flashing eyes, declared:

"I will remain here."

I felt that an apology was due to this burgher girl.

"I will gladly apologize later, Fraeulein, but now I have only time to
beg that you will conceal yourself. These men probably are robbers. If
they see you, we shall be compelled to fight them, however great their
numbers. If we find their force too large for us, we may easily ransom
the mules and their packs, but we could make no terms for you. If they
are Black Riders, they will prefer a little gold to a great deal of
silk, but they will prefer you and Fraeulein Twonette to a great deal
of gold."

"I would not pay them one piece of gold," cried Yolanda, defiantly.
"Give me an arquebuse. I will help you fight."

The brave little heroine astonished me.

"Would you prefer that Max or your good uncle and perhaps some of our
poor mule-leaders should be killed by these pigstickers," I asked, "or
would you compound with them in some reasonable way? Shall we
fight them?"

"No, no," she answered, "wise bravery is better. I suppose I shall learn
the lesson some day."

While the troop of horsemen were under the crest of the hill, Yolanda
ran across the open to a place of concealment beside Twonette. Hardly
was she hidden when the dust-cloud rose from the brink of the hill, and
five men, well though roughly armed, galloped up to us and drew their
horses back upon their haunches.

"What have we here?" demanded the captain, a huge German. Their grimy
armor and bearded faces besmeared with black marked them as Black
Riders. I was overjoyed to see that they numbered but five.

"What is that to you?" I asked, putting on a bold front, though I feared
our mule-leaders would make but a sorry fight should we come to blows.

"That depends on what you have," responded our swart friend, coolly.
"Whatever you have, so much it is to us."

"What will you take in gold, my good man, and let us go our way in peace
with our cargo of silks?" asked Castleman.

"By your leave, friend," said I, interrupting the negotiations, "I am
in command when fighting is to be done. Let me settle with this fellow."

"Settle now, if you are so keen," cried the big German, drawing his
sword and spurring his horse upon me. I could not have withstood the
unexpected onrush, and certainly would have met with hard blows or
worse, had not Max come to my rescue. I hurriedly stepped back, and the
German, in following me, rode near a large stone by the roadside. He
had, doubtless, passed the stone many times in his travels up and down
the road, but the thought probably had never occurred to him that it
would be the cause of his death. The most potential facts in our lives
are usually too insignificant to attract attention.

When the German charged me, Max sprang upon the stone and dealt the
swart ruffian a blow such as no man may survive. Max's great battle-axe
crushed the Black Eider's helmet as if it were an egg-shell, and the
captain of our foes fell backward, hanging by his stirrups. One of our
squires shot one of the robbers, and the remaining three took flight.
Max caught the captain's horse, and coolly extricated the dead man's
feet from the stirrups. Then he thrust the body to the roadside with the
indifference of a man whose life has been spent in slaughter. Among his
many inheritances, Max probably had taken this indifference, together
with his instinctive love of battle. He was not quarrelsome, but he
took to a fight as naturally as a duck takes to water.

When the robbers had left, Yolanda came running from her hiding-place.
She was not frightened; she was aglow with excitement. She, too, must
have inherited the love of battle. Twonette was trembling with fear.

"Ah, Sir Max, it was beautifully done," said Yolanda. "You sprang upon
the rock with the quickness of a panther, and the blow was dealt with
the strength of a lion. I saw it all. When your battle-axe rose above
the robber's head, death was written on the steel. It was beautiful to
see you kill him, Sir Max. Strength is always beautiful in the eyes of a
woman, but it is doubly so when used in her defence and linked with
'wise bravery.' I thank you, Sir Karl, for teaching me that word. Sir
Max, I--I cannot thank you now."

She stopped speaking and covered her face with her hands. In a moment
she partly recovered composure and smiled her gratitude through a little
shower of tears. Max was, of course, aglow with pleasure at Yolanda's
praise, but he bore his honors meekly. He did not look upon his
tremendous feat of arms as of much importance.

Fearing the return of the Schwartreiter with reenforcements, we lost no
time in resuming our journey, Max and Yolanda quickly finished their
dinner, but Castleman, Twonette, and myself did not care to eat.

Within ten minutes after Max had killed the captain of the Black Riders
we were on our road travelling downhill, very joyful in our victory and
very proud of our knight, Sir Max. We left the dead men by the roadside,
but took with us two fine horses as compensation for our trouble. The
captain's great charger Max appropriated for his own. He will appear
again in this chronicle.

We rode silently but joyfully. Twonette slowly recovered from her
fright, and the pink crept back to her cheeks. The pink had not left
Yolanda's cheeks, nor had her nerves been disturbed by the adventures of
the morning. Max tried hard to suppress his exuberance of spirit, and
Yolanda laved him in the sunshine of her smiles.

Within three hours we were safely housed at a village by the Rhine.
Castleman, finding me alone, said:--

"You, Sir Karl, and Sir Max little know the value of the friend you have
made this day."

"I thank you, good Castleman," I answered, hardly liking so great an air
of condescension on the part of a burgher. An afterthought suggested
that perhaps Castleman had not referred to himself as the friend we had
made. Strange thoughts and speculations had of late been swarming in my
mind until they had almost taken the form of a refrain, "Who is
Yolanda?" Though the question repeated itself constantly by day and by
night, I received no whisper of an answer.

We travelled slowly, and it was not until the second day after our
conflict with the Black Riders that we found ourselves near Strasburg. A
league from the city gates we met Raoul de Rose, a herald of the Duke of
Burgundy. Yolanda recognized his banner at a distance and hastily veiled
herself. Twonette remained unveiled.

We halted, and De Rose, who was travelling alone, safe under a herald's
privileges, drew rein beside Castleman and me, who had been riding in
advance of our cavalcade. While Castleman was talking to De Rose,
Yolanda and Twonette rode forward, passing on that side of the highway
which left Castleman and me between them and the herald.

"Ah, good Castleman," said De Rose, "you are far from home these
troublous times."

"Your words imply bad news, monsieur," returned Castleman. "I have
already heard hints of trouble, though all was quiet when I
left Peronne."

"When did you leave?" asked the herald.

"More than two months ago," answered Castleman.

"With our rapidly moving duke, two months is ample time to make a deal
of trouble, to gain victories, and to compel peace among his
quarrelsome neighbors," answered De Rose. "It is publicly known that I
carry defiance to the Swiss. They cannot comply with Burgundy's terms,
and war will surely follow. Our duke will teach these Swiss sheep to
stop bleating, and when this war is finished, the dominion of Burgundy
will include the Alps. Duke Charles will have fresh ice for his dinner
every day--ice from the mountain tops."

"That is all he will get from the barren Swiss land, I fear," remarked
Castleman.

"But if he wants it?" answered De Rose, shrugging his shoulders.

"Yes," returned Castleman, "if the duke wants it, God give it him; but I
am sorry to see war with so peaceful a people as the Swiss."

"There are many persons in Burgundy foolish enough to agree with you,"
answered De Rose, laughingly, "but for my part, the will of my master
is my will."

"Amen!" said the cautious burgher.

De Rose smiled, and said:--

"There is but one will in Burgundy, and that will be done."

"Where is the duke?" asked Castleman.

"He is at home in Ghent," answered the herald.

"Is he to remain there?" asked the burgher, displaying a sudden
interest.

"I believe he goes soon to Peronne to look after his affairs, on the
French border, and to see the duchess and the princess before leaving
for Switzerland. It is also publicly known that the duke, while at
Peronne, intends to arrange for the immediate marriage of the princess
to the Dauphin. He wishes to tie the hands of King Louis before making
war elsewhere, and he is going to Peronne to cause this marriage to be
celebrated before he leaves Burgundy."

"Sacred God!" exclaimed the usually phlegmatic burgher. "We must hasten
home. Farewell, Monsieur de Rose. Your news indeed is bad--your news
of war."

Castleman urged "Last Week" to an unwonted pace, and drew rein beside
Yolanda. I followed slowly, and unintentionally overhead him say:--

"Your father will soon be in Peronne. The duke leaves Ghent within a day
or two."

"Holy Virgin!" cried Yolanda, excitedly. "We must make all haste, good
uncle. Hereafter we must travel night and day. We must double our
retinue at Strasburg and hasten forward regardless of danger and
fatigue. I wish we were across Lorraine and well out of Metz. If this
war begins, Lorraine will surely turn upon Burgundy."

"I begged you not to come upon this journey," said Castleman,
complainingly.

"I know you did, uncle," returned Yolanda, repentantly.

"But you would come," continued Castleman, determined to give vent to
his feelings. "I could not dissuade you, and now if the duke leaves
Ghent--if your father reaches Peronne--before we return, God help
us all."

"Yes, dear uncle," said Yolanda, humbly; "as usual, I was at fault. I
have been a source of trouble and danger to you nearly all my life, and
you, of all persons in the world, I would make happy."

I was riding ten paces behind Castleman, but the wind came toward me,
and I was an involuntary listener. What I had heard was of such
tremendous import to Max that I could not bring myself to rein back my
horse, though I despised myself for listening. I believe that moment
was, of all my life, the greatest test of my love for Max. No less a
motive could have induced me to become an eavesdropper. Castleman was
silent for a short time, and then I heard him say:--

"You have also brought me happiness, Yolanda, and I shall be wretched
when your father takes you from me. Twonette is not dearer to me than
you. Whatever befalls, I shall still thank God for the happiness He has
given me in you."

"Ah, uncle, your kind words almost break my heart," said Yolanda,
placing her kerchief to her eyes. "I wish you would not forgive me for
having brought you into this hard case. I wish you would upbraid me. I
will pray to the Blessed Virgin night and day to protect you from this
trouble my wilfulness has brought upon you. Never again will I be
wilful, dear uncle, never again--with you. At Strasburg I will make an
offering to the Virgin."

"Make her an offering of this young man on whom you are smiling,"
suggested Castleman. "I would have left him at Basel but for your
wilfulness and entreaties. We know nothing of him save that he is big,
honest, brave, gentle, and good to look upon. I have already warned you
against the great favor you show him. I shall not do so again. I advise
that we leave him at Metz."

"I will do as you advise," said Yolanda, mournfully. "I will offer even
this, my first great happiness, to the Virgin. Surely it will
propitiate her."

This conversation almost deprived me of the power to think. In a dimly
conscious fashion, I wondered whether Castleman could possibly have
meant the Duke of Burgundy when he told Yolanda that her father would
soon be at Peronne. I could find no other meaning for his words, and I
was almost ready to believe that the brown-eyed, laughing Yolanda was
none other than the far-famed Mary of Burgundy, whose tiny hand was
sought by every nation of Europe having a marriageable king or prince.

Kings in their dotage and princes in their nonage wooed her. Old men
and babes eagerly sought the favor of this young girl, and stood ready
to give their gold, their blood, and the lives of their subjects on even
the shadow of a chance to win her. The battle-field and the bower alike
had been wooing-ground for her smiles. After all this, she had been
affianced to the Dauphin of France, and her father would bring the
marriage about within a few weeks. To this girl I had thought to be
gracious, and had feared that I might be too condescending. I then
realized what a pitiable ass a man may make of himself by giving his
whole time and attention to the task.

Of course I was not sure that Yolanda was the princess. Her father,
spoken of by Castleman, might be, and probably was, a great lord in the
duke's train. Yolanda might be the love-daughter of Charles of Burgundy.
Many explanations might be given to Castleman's remarks; but I could not
help believing that Yolanda was the far-famed Burgundian princess. If
so, what a marvellous romance was this journey that Max and I had
undertaken, and what a fantastic trick fate had played in bringing these
two from the ends of the earth to meet in the quaint old Swiss city. It
seemed almost as if their souls had journeyed toward each other, since
the beginning of time.

That the princess should be abroad with Castleman and his daughter
unattended by even a lady-in-waiting seemed improbable--almost
impossible.

My wavering mind veered with each moment from the conviction that
Yolanda was the princess to a feeling of certainty that she was not, and
back again. That she was the princess seemed at one moment indubitably
true; the next moment it appeared absurdly impossible. Still,
Castleman's words rang in my ears.

I was glad that Max was riding a hundred yards behind me. My first
determination was that he should know nothing of what I had heard. My
second was that he and I should leave the party at Metz. If I were to
disclose to Max my suspicions concerning Yolanda, I well knew that it
would be beyond my power or that of any man to prevent his journeying
to Peronne.

This meeting with the princess far from home, one might suppose, was the
event of all others that I desired, but the situation presented many
points to be considered. If we should conduct Yolanda to Peronne and
should reach that city after the duke's arrival, there would be untold
trouble for us, if (oh, that mighty if!) she were the Princess Mary. I
was thoroughly frightened, since I could not know what trouble I might
bring to Max. We might, with comparative safety, visit Peronne at a
later period; but I sincerely hoped that Yolanda would offer Max to the
Virgin when we reached Metz.

If Yolanda were the princess, and if the duke with his intentions
regarding her immediate marriage, should reach Peronne and find his
daughter absent, his wrath against all concerned would be unappeasable.
If he should learn that she had been absent from Peronne on this
journey, even though she reached home before her father, Castleman would
probably lose his head for the crime of taking her, and all concerned in
the journey might meet with evil fortune. Any of these catastrophes
might occur if she were the princess. If she were not the princess, some
other great catastrophe, hinted by Castleman and dreaded by Yolanda,
might happen; and it is well for disinterested persons to remain away
from the scene of impending trouble.

Aside from all these good reasons for cutting short our journey to
Peronne, was the fact that our motive for going there had ceased to
exist. The princess was soon to become the wife of the Dauphin. If
Yolanda were not the princess, there was still good reason why we should
abandon her at Metz. She was dangerously attractive and was gaining too
great a hold on Max. We were under contract to escort Castleman to
Peronne, and no danger should prevent us from fulfilling our agreement;
but if Castleman should voluntarily release us, our obligation
would cease.

As we passed under the portcullis at Strasburg, Max spurred his horse
to Yolanda's side. She neither lifted her veil nor gave any sign of
recognition. The news of impending war had been discussed, and Max
supposed Yolanda was frightened. He spoke reassuringly to her, and she
answered:--

"I thank you, Sir Max, but our danger is greater than you know."

It was four o'clock when we reached Strasburg, where we stopped at The
Cygnet. Soon after we entered the inn, Twonette and Yolanda went forth,
heavily veiled, and walked rapidly in the direction of the cathedral.
Yolanda was going to make her offering to the Virgin of the man she
loved; surely woman could make no greater.

When Yolanda and Twonette had gone, Castleman asked me to assist him in
procuring a score of men-at-arms. They might be needed in crossing
Lorraine from Strasburg to Metz.

"I shall travel night and day till we reach home," said Castleman. "I
have news of war that hastens us, and--and it is most important that
Yolanda should deliver certain papers at the castle before the duke
arrives at Peronne. If she reaches the castle one hour or one minute
after the duke, the results will be evil beyond remedy."

"I sincerely hope there may be no delay," I answered, believing that the
papers were an invention of Castleman's.

"Yes," responded the burgher; "and, Sir Karl, I deem it best for all
concerned that you and Sir Max part company with us at Metz. I thank you
for your services, and hope you will honor us by visiting Peronne at
some future time. But now it is best that you leave us to pursue our
journey without you."

Castleman's suggestion was most welcome to me, and I communicated it to
Max when I returned to the inn. He was sorrowful; but I found that he,
too, felt that he should part from Yolanda.

Castleman and I found the burgomaster, to whom we paid five hundred
guilders (a sum equal to his entire annual salary), and within an hour a
troop of twenty men-at-arms awaited us in the courtyard of The Cygnet.
Castleman barely touched his meat at supper, though he drank two bottles
of Johannesburg; Max ate little, and I had no appetite whatever.

When Yolanda returned, I said:--

"Fraeulein, will you not eat?"

"I do not care to eat," she replied, and I could easily see that she was
struggling to keep back the tears. "Let us resume our journey at once. I
see the men-at-arms are waiting."

Our rare days of sunshine had surely been weather-breeders. We were all
under a dark cloud.

We left Strasburg by the north gate, and, as the city fell back of us,
Max, riding by my side, asked:--

"What is the evil news that has cast this gloom over Yolanda and good
Castleman? If our friends are in danger, I would not leave them at Metz,
and you would not have me do so."

"The evil news grows out of the war," I answered evasively. "I heard
every word spoken by the herald and Castleman. The burgher is wise to
hasten home. If he delays his journey even for a day, he may find
Burgundy--especially Lorraine--swarming with lawless men going to the
various rendezvous. He also tells me he has important papers that must
be delivered in the castle before the duke arrives at Peronne."

"It is strange," said Max, "that news of merely a general nature should
produce so gloomy an effect; but, if you heard all that De Rose said,
that must be the only cause."

"I cannot say," I responded, "what the cause may be. All I know is that
De Rose spoke of the impending war, and said that the duke was hastening
to Peronne for the purpose of consummating the French marriage at once.
There is now no reason why we should journey to Peronne. My air-castles
have crumbled about my ears in fine shape."

"I am not sorry, Karl," replied Max. "During the last fortnight I have
changed. Should my marriage with the princess, by any marvellous
chance, become possible, it would now be wholly for the sake of her
estates, and I despise myself when I try to think that I wish to bring
it about. Ah, Karl, it is now impossible even to hope for this marriage,
and I tell you I am glad of it. We will see the world, then we will
return to Styria; and I shall thank you all my life for having made a
man of me."



CHAPTER VI

DUKE CHARLES THE RASH

Our caravan travelled with the mournfulness of a funeral procession.
Early in the evening Max spoke to Yolanda:--

"I hear your uncle desires Sir Karl and me to leave you at Metz."

"Yes," she answered dolefully, hanging her head, "we part at Metz. I
shall see you there before I leave, and then--and then--ah, Sir Max, I
was wrong and you were right; there is no hope."

"What of the lady who gave me the ring?" asked Max, in a feeble effort
to banter her.

"She would have made you very happy, Sir Max. Her estates would have
compensated for all losses elsewhere."

"You know, that is not true, Yolanda," said Max, earnestly.

"I am not sure, Sir Max," responded the girl, "and do not wish to be
sure. I will see you at Metz, and there we may part. It is our fate. We
must not be doleful, Sir Max, we must be--we must be--happy and brave."
Her poor little effort to be happy and brave was piteous.

Castleman soon fell back with Yolanda, and Max rode forward beside me.

At midnight we offsaddled by a stream in a forest and allowed our horses
and mules to rest until sunrise. Then we took up our journey again, and
by forced marches reached Metz one morning an hour before dawn. We
waited in a drizzling rain till the gates opened, and, after a long
parley with the warder, entered the city. We were all nearly exhausted,
and our poor mules staggered along the streets hardly able to carry
their burdens another step. Two had fallen a half-league outside of
Metz; and three others fell with their loads within the city gates.

Castleman had determined to stop with a merchant friend, and after what
seemed a long journey from the gates we halted at the merchant's house.
Our host left us in his parlor while he went to arrange for breakfast.
When he had gone Castleman turned to me:--

"You and Sir Max will, if you please, find good lodging at the Great
Tun. My friend will send a man in advance to bespeak your comfort."

Max and I rose to leave, and Yolanda offered him her hand, saying:--

"It may be that we are to part here at Metz, but I will send for you
soon and will see you before we leave, and--and--" She could not speak
further; tears were in her eyes and her voice. It was not so easy after
all to be happy and brave.

"You will not fail to send for me?" asked Max, clinging to her hand.

"I will not fail," she answered, looking up timidly and instantly
dropping her eyes. "Of that you have better assurance than you will
ever know."

Castleman followed us to the street door and handed me a purse of gold.

"I have expected to part from you here," he said, "and it may be so; but
I fear I shall need your services still further. My mules are unfit to
travel at present; they may never be fit to use; surely not within a
fortnight. I must find other sumpter mules, wait for those I have to
regain their strength, or leave my goods at Metz. My fortune is invested
in these silks, and if I leave them here, I shall never see them again.
In case the Duke of Lorraine succeeds in rallying his subjects against
Burgundy, I shall find it difficult to buy sumpter mules on the eve of
war, and may be compelled to remain in Metz until my own mules are able
to travel. In that event may I depend upon you and Sir Max to escort my
niece and my daughter to Peronne without me?"

I answered promptly, though against my desires:--"You may depend on
us."

At midnight I was aroused by a knock at my door. I arose and admitted
Castleman.

"I will take you at your word, Sir Karl," said the burgher. "I cannot
obtain sumpter mules, and I shall be ruined in fortune if I leave my
silks at Metz. I have had word that the Duke of Burgundy leaves Ghent
the day after to-morrow for Peronne. If he leaves late in the day, you
may, by starting at once, reach Peronne Castle ahead of him. His journey
will be shorter than yours by twenty-five leagues, but you will have a
better road. If you travel with all haste, you may be able to take
Yolanda, with--with the important papers, to the castle a half-day
before my lord arrives there. Are you ready to begin the journey
at once?"

"We are ready," answered Max.

"I will meet you at the Deutsches Thor Gate within an hour," said
Castleman. "My daughter and my niece will be there. Since you are to
travel rapidly I advise a small retinue. Your squires have proved
themselves worthy men, and I feel sure you will be able to protect
your charges."

"We'll not boast of what we shall do, good Castleman," said Max, "but
we'll do our best."

"If you reach Peronne after the duke arrives," said Castleman, "I advise
you not to enter the gates of the city, but to leave Burgundy at once
and with all the speed you can make. If you reach Peronne before the
duke, I advise you not to tarry; but if you determine to remain, you
will go to The Mitre--a quiet inn kept by my good friend Marcus Grote. I
strongly advise you not to remain at Peronne; but if you do not see fit
to follow my advice, I hope you will remain close at The Mitre until my
return, which, I trust, will be within three weeks. Danger will attend
you if you do not follow my suggestion. In any case, Sir Max, I hope you
will not visit my house. My words may seem ungracious, but they are for
your good and mine. When I return to Peronne, I shall be happy if you
will honor my poor house; but until my return, untold trouble to many
persons may follow your disregard of what I say."

Castleman then departed, and we immediately arranged for the journey.

Max and I, with our squires, were waiting at the Deutsches Thor Gate
when Castleman arrived with Twonette, Yolanda, and a guide. I knocked at
the door of the lodge to rouse the warder, who, of course, was asleep,
and that alert guardian of a drowsy city came grumbling to the wicket.

"What in the devil's name do you want at this time of night?" he
growled. "The gates won't open till dawn."

"Yes, they will," replied Castleman. "I have the burgomaster's order."

"I open the gates only on an order from the governor of the citadel,"
said the warder.

"I have not that, my good friend," responded Castleman, "but I have a
hundred silver marks in my purse."

"Let me see the burgomaster's order," said the worthy gatekeeper. "I am
always glad to be accommodating."

Castleman handed over the order and the purse, and the warder pretended
to read the paper in the dark.

"I'll open the gate to accommodate you and to please the burgomaster,"
he said.

The gates screeched upon their hinges, and every link in the portcullis
chain groaned as if it wished to alarm the city. When the portcullis was
a-block, Max, myself, and the squires mounted our horses. Yolanda leaned
down from her saddle and, placing her arms about Castleman's neck,
kissed him. Twonette followed her example; then our small cavalcade
passed out through the gate, and we entered on our long, hard race with
the Duke of Burgundy.

At dawn Yolanda called me to her side.

"Our guide will conduct us to Cinq Voies on the Somme, eight leagues
this side of Peronne," she said. "There we shall dismiss him. From Cinq
Voies the road is straight to Peronne down the river. Shall we put our
horses to the gallop?"

To her last suggestion I objected:--

"We have no relays. These horses must carry us to Peronne. In Styria we
have an adage, 'If you would gallop on a long journey, walk
your horse.'"

"In Styria!" exclaimed Yolanda, laughing. "You told me you were from
Italy."

"So I am," I replied.

"Now you say _we_ have an adage in Styria," she returned, amused at my
discomfiture. "I hope you have not been wandering from the path of truth
in your long journey, Sir Karl."

"No farther than yourself, Fraeulein," I answered.

A frown came instantly to her face and, after a moment's hesitation, she
retorted:--

"Ah, but I am a woman; I am privileged to wander a little way from the
narrow road. A man may protect himself with his sword and battle-axe,
and need never stray. A woman's defence lies in her wit and her tongue."
The frown deepened, and she turned sharply upon me: "But in what
respect, pray, have I wandered? I have not spoken a word to you which
has not been the exact truth. If I have left anything untold, it is
because I do not wish to tell it, in which case, of course, you would
not wish to pry."

Her audacity amused me, and though I knew I ought to hold my tongue, I
could not resist saying:--

"I have asked no questions, Fraeulein."

Yolanda cast a surprised glance toward me and then broke into a merry
laugh.

"That is to say _I_ have asked too many questions. Good for you, Sir
Karl! I have had the worst of this encounter. I will ask no more
questions nor give you further cause to wander from the truth. Your
memory, Sir Karl, is poor. 'To be a good liar, one must have a good
memory,' as King Louis of France has said."

"Ask all the questions you wish, Fraeulein," I responded penitently, "I
will answer with the truth."

"There is no need to ask questions," she said, giving me a side glance
full of sauciness. "I already know all that I wish to know."

I could not resist saying:--

"Perhaps, Fraeulein, I know quite as much about you as you know about
us."

"There is little to know about me that is really worth while, but what
little there is I sincerely hope you do not know," she replied half
angrily. "If you do know anything which I have left untold, or if, in
your vanity, you think you have discovered some great mystery concerning
me, I advise you to keep your supposed knowledge to yourself. The day
that I am made sure you know too much, our friendship ceases, and that,
Sir Karl, would give me pain. I hope it would pain you."

I at once began an orderly though hasty retreat.

"I do not know to what you refer concerning yourself," I explained. "All
I know about you is that you are Fraeulein Castleman, and a very charming
person, whom I would have for my friend, if that be possible. I spoke
but jestingly. I have often doubted that you are a burgher maiden, but
there my knowledge ceases; and I am willing that it should so remain
till you see fit to enlighten me."

"There is little knowledge in doubt," said Yolanda, with a nervous
laugh, "though a doubt usually precedes wisdom."

Although I was looking at my horse's ears, I could see the light of her
eyes as she watched me inquiringly. After a long pause she stroked her
horse's mane with her whip, and said, musingly:--

"A man should seek to know only the languages, philosophy, and other
useful learning. Useless knowledge has cost many a man his head."

After a long pause she turned to me with a broad smile:--

"But it is usually not dangerous so long as it does not lodge in the
tongue."

I replied quickly:--

"Fraeulein, when my tongue makes a fool of me, I pray God I may lose it."

"God save all fools by a like fate," she answered.

I was sure she did not mean to include me in the category of fools.

This conversation revealed to me two facts: first, I learned that by
some means--possibly the ring Max wore--this girl, Yolanda, whoever she
might be, knew Max. Second, I discovered in myself a dangerous
propensity to talk, and of all sure roads to ruin the tongue is the
surest. A man's vanity prompts him to be witty; hatred prompts him to
cut his enemy, and his love of truth often prompts him to speak it at
the wrong time. These three motives combined often prompt him to lose
his head. Max and I were on dangerous ground, and one untimely error
might make it perilous.

We travelled rapidly, and near midnight of the second day out of Metz we
reached Cinq Voies on the Somme. The village, consisting of a large inn,
a church, a priest's house, and a farrier's shop, is situate at the
meeting of five roads, from which the hamlet takes its name. One road
led down from Cambrai and Ghent in the north, one from Liege in the
northeast, and the one over which we had travelled from Metz came out of
the southeast. Two roads led westward to Peronne. One followed the right
bank of the Somme, passed Peronne, and thence on to Amiens. Another road
followed the left bank of the Somme, touched Peronne, and thence ran
southwesterly to Paris.

When we reached Cinq Voies on the Somme--within eight leagues of
Peronne--we halted for supper, very tired and weary. While supper was
preparing, we held a consultation, and determined to rest there for the
night. I advised against this course, believing that the duke would pass
that way on his road from Ghent to Peronne. But Yolanda's sweet face
was pinched by weariness, and Twonette was sound asleep. Our horses, I
feared, might fail, and leave us hopelessly in the lurch. Therefore, I
gave the command to offsaddle, and we halted at the inn for the night.

Our host told me his house was full of guests who had arrived two hours
before, but he found a room for Yolanda and Twonette, and told Max and
me to sleep, if we could, on the tap-room floor. After an hour on the
hard boards I went to the stable, and, rousing a groom, gave him a
silver crown for the privilege of sleeping on a wisp of hay. I fell
asleep at once and must have slept like the dead, for the dawn was
breaking when one of our squires wakened me. I could not believe that I
had been sleeping five minutes, but the dim morning light startled me,
and I ordered the horses saddled.

I hastened to the inn and wakened Max, to whose well-covered bones a
board was as soft as a feather bed. While I was speaking to him, I heard
a noise in an adjoining room and saw the door opening. Max and I barely
escaped through an open arch when a commanding figure clad in light
armor entered the tap-room.

I had not seen Charles of Burgundy since he was a boy--he was then Count
of Charolois--but I at once knew with terrifying certainty that I looked
on the most dreaded man in Europe. He had changed greatly since I last
had seen him. He was then beardless; now he wore a beard that reached
almost to his belt, and I should not have recognized in him the young
Count of Charolois. There was, however, no doubt in my mind concerning
his identity.

Even had I failed to see the angry scar on his neck, of which I had
often heard, or had I failed to note the lack of upper teeth (a fact
known to all Europe) which gave his face an expression of savagery, I
should have recognized him by his mien. There was not another man like
him in all the world, and I trust there never will be. His face wore an
expression of ferocity that was almost brutal. The passions of anger,
arrogance, and hatred were marked on every feature; but over all there
was the stamp of an almost superhuman strength, the impress of an iron
will, the expression of an exhaustless energy, and the majesty of a
satanic bravery. If Yolanda was the daughter of this terrible man, and
if he should discover that I had her hidden in the room above his head,
I should never eat another breakfast. Truly, Max and I were on
perilous ground.

Max remained in concealment, and I climbed the stairs, two steps at a
time, to Yolanda's room. I gently knocked, and received a
sleepy response.

"Rise at once," I whispered. "I must speak to you instantly."

"Enter--we are already dressed," answered Yolanda.

When I entered she had risen from the bed and was rubbing her eyes.

"We were so tired we slept in our garments. Don't we show it?" said
Yolanda.

Her hands were above her head, vainly endeavoring to arrange her hair,
which had fallen in a great tumble of dark curls over her shoulder. Rest
had flushed her cheeks, and her lips and her eyes were moist with the
dew of sleep. Though my business was urgent I could not resist
exclaiming:--

"Ah, Fraeulein, you surely are beautiful."

"I thank you, Sir Karl," she answered, flashing a smile upon me. "You
may kiss my hand."

She offered me her hand and asked:--

"But what is your news?"

While she spoke I heard voices and the tramping of hoofs beneath the
window in front of the inn, and turned to look. I quickly drew away from
the window and beckoned Yolanda:--

"Come here, Fraeulein."

She came to my side, and as she looked out upon the road two men emerged
from the inn door. One of them was the Duke of Burgundy. She clutched my
arm and whispered excitedly:--

"Watch them, Sir Karl! Note the road they take! If they go by the right,
we shall take the left. We _must_ reach Peronne Castle before the duke.
Death itself hangs upon the issue, Sir Karl."

I watched till the duke and all his people had left the inn; then I
followed till I saw them take the road leading down the right bank of
the Somme. When I returned to the inn, I paid the score, and gave each
member of our little party a _boule_ of bread to be eaten as we rode;
and within five minutes after the duke's departure we were fording the
Somme to take the left bank for Peronne.



CHAPTER VII

A RACE WITH THE DUKE

Neither road clung to the river in all its windings, but at too frequent
intervals both touched the stream at the same points. At places the
roads hugged the Somme, separated only by its width--perhaps two hundred
yards. These would be our danger points. I did not know them, and
Yolanda's knowledge of the road was imperfect.

Soon after leaving Cinq Voies, the road on the right bank--the one taken
by the duke--gained a mile over the road on the left by cutting across a
great bend in the river around which we had to travel. We therefore lost
the duke's cavalcade at the outset.

Hoping to pass the duke before the roads came again within sight of each
other, we urged our horses to full speed. But the duke also was
travelling rapidly, as we learned when we reached the first point of
contact. Should the duke's men see us they would certainly hail. Four
men in armor and two ladies, travelling the road to Peronne would not be
allowed to pass unchallenged. Fortunately, just before the danger point,
a clump of trees and underbushes grew between our road and the river.
Max, who was riding a hundred yards in advance, suddenly stopped and
held up his hand warningly. We halted immediately, and Max turned back
to us, guiding his horse to the roadside to avoid raising a dust-cloud.

We listened in silence, and I beckoned the squires to our sides. The men
of our little party all dismounted and stood by their horses' heads,
ready to strike the noses of the animals should they offer to salute the
horses across the river with a neigh. Had not our danger been so great
it would have been amusing to see each man, with uplifted hand, watching
the eyes of his horse as intently as though they were the eyes of his
lady-love. Yolanda laughed despite the danger, but covered her mouth
with her hand when I frowned warningly.

Presently we heard the tramping of horses and the voices of men across
the river, and soon the duke approached at a canter. I could not help
speculating on the consequences should His Grace know that Yolanda was
watching him--if Yolanda were his daughter.

That "if" would surely be the death of me.

When the duke had passed a little way down the road, I peered through
the bushes and saw the dust-cloud ahead of us.

We could not venture from our hiding-place till the duke was out of
sight, and by the delay we lost a good half-league in our race. I asked
Yolanda if she knew how far it was to the next point of contact, She did
not know, but I learned from a peasant that the river made a great bend,
and that our road gained nearly a league over the other before each
again touched the river. This was our great chance.

We put our horses to their best; and when we again reached the river,
Max, who was riding in advance, announced that the other cavalcade was
not in sight. If it had passed, our race was lost; if it had not, we
felt that we could easily ride into Peronne ahead of Duke Charles. At
that point the roads followed the river within a stone's throw of each
other for a great distance. If the duke had not reached this point, our
need for haste was greater than ever before. We must be beyond the open
stretch before the other cavalcade should come up to it.

Our poor blown horses were loath to run, but we urged them to it. When
we had covered half this open road, we took to the sod at the roadside
to avoid raising a telltale cloud of dust. After a hard gallop we
reached a forest where the road again left the river. Here we halted to
breathe our horses and to watch the road on the right bank. After ten
minutes we became uneasy and began to fear that the duke's cavalcade had
passed us, but Max insisted that our fears were groundless.

"Their dust could not have settled so quickly," he declared. "We should
see at least traces of it. They cannot have passed."

"One cannot help believing," said Yolanda, musingly, "that there are men
who command the elements. One would almost say they make the rain to
fall or to cease, the wind to rise or to drop, to suit their purposes,
and the dust to lie quietly beneath their horses' feet. I pray God we
may soon know, else I shall surely die of suspense."

"There are also some persons, Fraeulein, whom God answers quickly," said
Max, looking under his hand down the road. "Do you see yonder
dust-cloud? It is a good two miles back of us."

"It may not be the duke," said Yolanda, doubtingly.

"Let us trust it is," said Max, "and lose no more time here."

We watered our horses at a small brook and entered the forest, feeling
that our race was won. The exultation of victory was upon Yolanda, and
her buoyant spirits mounted to the skies. All fear and gloom had left
her. She laughed and sang, and the sunshine of her humor filled all our
hearts with delight. Since leaving Metz we had travelled so rapidly, and
a cloud of uncertainty and fear was so constantly over us, that Yolanda
had spoken little to Max or to any one; but now that victory was in her
grasp, she intended to waste not one moment more in troubled thoughts
and painful fears.

"Ride beside me, Sir Max," she cried, beckoning him as if she were a
great princess and he her page. Max spurred his horse to her side, and
after a moment Twonette fell back with me. I overheard all that was said
between Max and Yolanda, and though I do not pretend to quote
accurately, I will give you the substance of their conversation.

"I cannot help laughing," she said, suiting the action to the word,
"over our tragic parting at Metz. We were separated a whole day!"

"But we supposed it was to be for a very long time," said Max. "We--that
is, I--feared I should never see you again. As it was, the day seemed
long to me, Fraeulein."

The girl laughed joyously. She had, you remember, offered Max to the
Virgin at Strasburg. Perhaps part of her joy was because the Queen of
Heaven had returned him to her.

"I should like to try a separation for many days," she said.

"You will soon have the opportunity," returned Max, with wounded vanity.
She paid no heed to his remark, and continued:--

"The second day would not seem so long to you. The third would be still
shorter, and at the end of a fortnight--nay, at the end of a week--you
would wonder how you were ever brought to fix your eyes on a poor
burgher girl, even for a passing moment--you, a great lord. You see, I
have no vast estates to hold you constant, such as those possessed by
the forward lady who sent you the letter and the ring. Do you know, Sir
Max, if I were very fond of you,--if I were your sweetheart,--I should
be jealous of this brazen lady, very jealous."

There was a glint in her eyes that might have caused one to believe the
jealousy already existed.

"Your raillery ill becomes you," said Max, half sullenly. "If I forget
my rank and hold it of small account for your sake, you should not make
a jest of it."

You see, he had not entirely washed out of himself the ceremonious
starch of Hapsburg.

She glanced quickly toward him and answered poutingly:--

"If you don't like my jesting, Sir Max, you may leave me to ride alone."

"You asked me to ride with you," returned Max, "but if you have changed
your mind and insist on being ill-tempered, I will--"

She reached out her hand, and, grasping his bridle-reins, threw them
over the pommel of her saddle.

"Now let me see what you will do, my great Lord Somebody," she cried
defiantly. "You shall not only ride beside me, but you shall also
listen good-humoredly to my jests when I am pleased to make them, and
bear with my ill-humor when I am pleased to be ill-humored."

Max left the bridle-reins in her hand, but did not smile. She was not to
be driven from her mood.

"You are such a serious person, Sir Max, that you must, at times, feel
yourself a great weight--almost burdensome--to carry about." She
laughed, though his resentment had piqued her, and there was a dash of
anger in her words. "Ponderous persons are often ridiculous and are apt
to tire themselves with their own weight--no, Sir Max, you can't get
away. I have your reins."

"I can dismount," returned Max, "and leave you my horse to lead."

He turned to leave his saddle, but she caught his arm, rode close to his
side, and, slipping her hand down his sleeve, clasped his hand--if a
hand so small as hers can be said to clasp one so large as his.

A beautiful woman is born with a latent consciousness of her power over
the subjugated sex. Max found in the soft touch of the girl's hand a
wonderful antidote to her sharp words. She continued to hold his hand as
compensation while she said, laughing nervously:--

"Sir Max, you are still young. A friend would advise you: Never lose a
chance to laugh, even though it be at your own expense. There will
always be opportunity to grieve and be gloomy. I tell you frankly, Sir
Max, I almost wept when I bade you good-by at Metz. Now, I am telling
you my state secret and am giving you more than you have asked."

Max joyfully interrupted her:--

"I can forgive you all your raillery, Fraeulein, for that admission."

"Yes, I confess it is a very important admission," she said, in
half-comic seriousness, "but you see, I really did weep when I parted
from my great mastiff, Caesar, at Peronne."

The saucy turn was made so quickly that its humor took Max unawares, and
he laughed.

"There, there! Sir Max, there is hope for you," she cried exultantly.
Then she continued, stealing a side glance at him, "I loved Caesar very,
very much."

There was a satisfying implication in her laughing words, owing to the
fact that she had almost wept at Metz. Max was eager to take advantage
of the opportunity her words gave him, for his caution was rapidly
oozing away; but he had placed a seal on his lips, and they were
shut--at least, for the time. His silence needed no explanation to
Yolanda, and she continued laughingly:--

"Yes, I almost wept. Perhaps I did weep. I will not say truly that I did
not, Sir Max, but within an hour I was laughing at my foolish self and
feared that you, too, would be laughing at me. I wondered if in all the
world there was another burgher maiden so great a fool as to lift her
eyes to a mighty lord, or to think that he could lower his eyes to her
with true intent."

At that point in the conversation I felt that the seal upon Max's lips
would not stand another attack. It was sure to melt; so I rode to
Yolanda's side and interrupted the interesting colloquy.

Max supposed the girl to be of the burgher class, and if by any chance
she were Mary of Burgundy, he might ruin his future, should he become
too insistent upon his rank in explaining the reasons why he could not
follow the path of his inclinations. He might make himself ridiculous;
and that mistake will ruin a man with any woman, especially if she be
young and much inclined to laugh.

During the foregoing conversation we had been travelling at a six-mile
canter. The day was warm, and I suggested breathing the horses in the
shade of the forest.

"I believe we are approaching the river," I said, "and we should rest
the horses before taking a dash over the open road."

Yolanda assented--in a manner she seemed to have taken command of the
party--and we halted under the trees. Max rode forward to a point from
which he could view the other road, and waved his hand to let us know
that the duke was not in sight. We immediately put spurs to our horses
and covered the stretch of open road by the river in a short, brisk
gallop. On leaving the road again we saw no indication of the duke's
cavalcade. Evidently the race was ours by an easy canter. From that
point to within two miles of Peronne, Yolanda's song was as joyous as
that of a wooing bird. The sun beat down upon us, and blinding clouds of
dust rose from every plunge of our horses' hoofs; but Yolanda's song
transformed our hot, wearisome journey into a triumphant march.
Happiness seemed to radiate from her and to furnish joy for all.

For a stretch of two miles up river from Peronne the roads approached
each other, but, owing to an intervening marsh, they were fully half a
mile apart. We, or at least Yolanda, had apparently forgotten the duke
when, near the hour of eight in the morning, we approached the marsh;
but when we entered the open country we saw, to our consternation, the
duke's cavalcade within one mile of Peronne. Where they had passed us we
did not know, nor did we stop to consider. They were five minutes ahead,
and if we could not enter Peronne in advance of them, it were no worse
had they been a day before us.

Yolanda cast one frightened glance toward the duke's party, and struck
her horse a blow with her whip that sent it bounding forward at a
furious gallop. We reached the river and were crossing as the duke
entered Cambrai Gate--the north entrance to the city. We would enter by
the gate on the south known as the Somme Gate; Cambrai Gate was nearer
the castle.

The duke, I supposed, would go directly to the castle; where Yolanda
would go I could not guess. From outside the Somme Gate we saw the duke
enter Cambrai, but after we had passed under the arch we could not see
him for a time because of intervening houses. The huge, grim pile of
stone known as Peronne Castle loomed ominously on the opposite side of
the small town. Yolanda veiled herself before passing under the gate and
hastened, though without conspicuous speed, toward the castle.

I afterward learned that there was but one entrance to the castle from
the town. It was known as the Postern, though it had a portcullis and a
drawbridge spanning the moat. To the Postern the duke took his way, as
we could see at intervals by looking down cross streets. Yolanda did not
follow him. She held her course down a narrow street flanked by
overhanging eaves. Looking down this street, I could see that it
terminated abruptly at the castle wall, which rose dark and unbroken
sixty feet above the ground.

At the end of this street a stone footbridge spanned the moat, leading
to a strip of ground perhaps one hundred yards broad and two hundred
long that lay between the moat and the castle wall. At either end of
this strip the moat again turned to the castle. The Cologne River joined
the moat at the north end of this tract of ground and flowed on by the
castle wall to the Somme. In a grove of trees stood a large two-story
house of time-darkened stone, built against the castle wall. One could
not leave the strip of ground save by the stone footbridge, unless by
swimming the moat or scaling the walls.

When we reached the footbridge, Yolanda and Twonette, without a word of
farewell, urged their horses across, and, springing from their saddles,
hurriedly entered the house. Max and I turned our horses' heads, and, as
we were leaving the footbridge, saw the duke's cavalcade enter the
Postern, which was perhaps three hundred yards back and north of the
strip on which stood the House under the Wall.

To reach the Postern in the castle wall from the footbridge one must go
well up into the town and cross the great bridge that spans the Cologne;
then back along the north bank of the river by the street that leads to
the Postern. From the House under the Wall to the Postern, by way of the
Cologne bridge, is a half-hour's walk, though in a direct line, as the
crow flies, it may be less than three hundred yards. Neither Max nor I
knew whether our journey had been a success or a failure.

We rode leisurely back to the centre of the town, and asked a carter to
direct us to Marcus Grote's inn, The Mitre. We soon found it, and gave
mine host the letter that we bore from Castleman. Although the hour of
nine in the morning had not yet struck, Max and I eagerly sought our
beds, and did not rise till late in the afternoon. The next morning we
dismissed our squires, fearing they might talk. We paid the men, gave
them each a horse, and saw them well on their road back to Switzerland.
They were Swiss lads, and could not take themselves out of Burgundy fast
enough to keep pace with their desires.

Notwithstanding Castleman's admonition, Max determined to remain in
Peronne; not for the sake of Mary the princess, but for the smile of
Yolanda the burgher girl. I well knew that opposition would avail
nothing, and was quite willing to be led by the unseen hand of fate.

The evening of the second day after our arrival I walked out at dusk and
by accident met my friend, the Sieur d'Hymbercourt. He it was to whom my
letters concerning Max had been written, and who had been responsible
for the offer of Mary's hand. He recognized me before I could avoid him,
so I offered my hand and he gave me kindly welcome.

"By what good fortune are you here, Sir Karl?" he asked.

"I cannot tell," I answered, "whether it be good or evil fortune that
brings me. I deem it right to tell you that I am here with my young
pupil, the Count of Hapsburg."

Hymbercourt whistled his astonishment.

"We are out to see a little of the world, and I need not tell you how
important it is that we remain unknown while in Burgundy. I bear my own
name; the young count has assumed the name of his mother's family and
wishes to be known as Sir Maximilian du Guelph."

"I shall not mention your presence even to my wife," he replied. "I
advise you not to remain in Burgundy. The duke takes it for granted that
Styria will aid the Swiss, or at least will sympathize with them in this
brewing war, and I should fear for your safety were he to discover you."

"I understand the duke recently arrived in Peronne?" I asked.

"Yes," answered Hymbercourt, "we all came yesterday morning."

"How is the fair princess? Did she come with you?" I asked, fearing to
hear his reply.

"She is well, and more beautiful than ever before," he answered. "She
did not come with us from Ghent; she has been here at the castle with
her stepmother, the Duchess Margaret. They have lived here during the
last two or three years. The princess met her father just inside the
Postern, lovely and fresh as a dew-dipped rose."

"She met her father just inside the Postern?" I asked, slowly dropping
my words in astonishment. "She was in the castle yard when her father
entered,--and at the Postern?"

"Yes, she took his hand and sprang to a seat behind him," answered
Hymbercourt.

"She met him inside the Postern, say you?" I repeated musingly.

"What is there amazing about so small an act?" asked Hymbercourt. "Is it
not natural that she should greet her father whom she has not seen for
a year?"

"Indeed, yes," I replied stumblingly, "but the weather is very hot,
and--and I was thinking how much I should have enjoyed witnessing the
meeting. She doubtless was dressed in gala attire for so rare an
occasion?" I asked, wishing to talk upon the subject that touched me so
nearly. Yolanda was in short skirts, stained and travel-worn, when
she left us.

"Indeed she was," answered Hymbercourt. "I can easily describe her
dress. She loves woman's finery, and I must confess that I too love it.
She wore a hawking costume; a cap of crimson--I think it was
velvet--with little knots on it and gems scattered here and there. A
heron's plume clasped with a diamond brooch adorned the cap. Her hair
hung over her shoulders. It is very dark and falls in a great bush of
fluffy curls. When her headgear is off, her hair looks like a black
corona. She is wonderfully beautiful, wonderfully beautiful. Her gown
was of red stuff. Perhaps it was of velvet like the cap. It was hitched
up with a cord and girdle, with tassels of gold lace and--and--Sir Karl,
you are not listening."

"I am listening," I replied. "I am greatly interested. Her gown--she
wore a gown--she wore a gown--"

"Yes, of course she wore a gown," laughingly retorted Hymbercourt. "Your
lagging attention is what I deserve, Sir Karl, for trying in my lame
fashion to describe a woman's gear to a man who is half priest, half
warrior. I do not wonder that you did not follow me."

I had heard him, but there was another question dinning in my ears so
loudly that it drowned all other sounds--"Who is Yolanda?"

Yolanda was entering the door of the House under the Wall less than five
minutes before I saw the duke pass through the Postern. Marcus Grote had
told me there were but two openings to the castle, the Postern and the
great gate on the other side of the castle by the donjon keep. To reach
the great gate one must pass out by Cambrai or the Somme Gate and go
around the city walls--an hour's journey.

With an air of carelessness I asked Hymbercourt concerning the various
entrances to the castle. He confirmed what Grote had said. Considering
all the facts, I was forced to this conclusion: If the Princess Mary had
met the duke at the Postern, Yolanda was not the Princess Mary.

The next day I reconnoitred the premises, and again reached the
conclusion that Yolanda could not have met the duke inside the Postern
unless she were a witch with wings that could fly thither over the
castle walls; ergo, she was not the princess. With equal certainty she
was not a burgher girl.

In seeking an identity that would fit her I groped among many absurd
propositions. Yolanda might be the duke's ward, or she might be his
daughter, though not bearing his name. My brain was in a whirl. If she
were the princess, I wished to remain in Peronne to pursue the small
advantage Max had assuredly gained in winning her favor. The French
marriage might miscarry. But if she were not the princess, I could not
get my Prince Max away from her dangerous neighborhood too quickly. I
could not, of course, say to Max, "You shall remain in Peronne," or "You
shall leave Peronne at once;" but my influence over him was great, and
he trusted my fidelity, my love, and my ability to advise him rightly. I
had always given my advice carefully, but, above all, I had given him
the only pleasurable moments he had ever known. That, by the way, may
have been the greatest good I could have offered him.

When Max was a child, the pleasure of his amusements was smothered by
officialism. My old Lord Aurbach, though gouty and stiff of joint, was
eager to "run" his balls or his arrows, and old Sir Giles Butch could be
caught so easily at tag or blind man's buff that there was no sport for
Max in doing it. Everything the boy did was done by the heir of Styria,
except on rare occasions when he and I stole away from the castle. Then
we were boys together, and then it was I earned his love and confidence.
At such times we used to leave the Hapsburg ancestry to care for itself
and dumped Hapsburg dignity into the moat. But the crowning good I had
brought to him was this journey into the world. The boy loathed the
clinging dignities that made of him, at home, a royal automaton, tricked
out in tarnished gold lace, faded velvets, and pompous airs. He often
spoke of the pleasures I had given him. One evening at Grote's inn I
answered:--

"Nonsense, Max, nonsense," though I was so pleased with his gratitude I
could have wept.

"It is not nonsense. You have saved me from becoming a mummy. I see it
all, Karl, and shudder to think of the life that might have been mine. I
take no pleasure in seeing gouty old dependents bowing, kneeling, and
smirking before me. Of course, these things are my prerogative, and a
man born to them may not forego what is due to his birth even though it
irks him. But such an existence--I will not call it living--saps the
juice of life. Even dear old mother is compelled to suppress her love
for me. Often she has pressed me to her breast only to thrust me away at
the approach of footsteps. By the way, Karl," continued Max, while
preparing for bed, "Yolanda one day at Basel jestingly called me
'Little Max.'"

"The devil she did," I exclaimed, unable to restrain my words.

"Yes," answered Max, "and when in surprise I told her that it was my
mother's love-name for me, she laughed saucily, 'Yes, I know it is.'"

"The dev-- Max, you can't mean what you say?" I cried, in an ecstasy of
delight over the news he was telling me.

"Indeed I do," he returned. "I told her I loved the name as a sweet
reminder of my mother."

"What did she say?" I asked.

"She seemed pleased and flashed her eyes on me--you know the way she
has--and said: 'I, too, like the name. It fits you so well--by
contraries.' Where could she have learned it, and how could she have
known it was my mother's love-name for me?"

"I cannot tell," I answered.

So! here was a small fact suddenly grown big, since, despite all
evidence to the contrary, it brought me back to my old belief that this
fair, laughing Yolanda was none other than the great Princess of
Burgundy. I was sure that she had gained all her information concerning
Max from my letters to Hymbercourt.

It racks a man's brain to play shuttlecock with it in that fashion.
While I lay in bed trying to sleep, I thought of the meeting between the
duke and the princess at the Postern, and back again flew my mind to the
conviction that Yolanda was not, and could not possibly be, the Princess
Mary. For days I had been able to think on no other subject. One moment
she was Yolanda; the next she was the princess; and the next I did not
know who she was. Surely the riddle would drive me mad. The fate of
nations--but, infinitely more important to me, the fate of Max--depended
upon its solution.

Castleman had told us to remain at the inn until his return, and had
exacted from Max, as you will remember, a promise not to visit the House
under the Wall, which we had learned was the home of our burgher friend.
We therefore spent our days and evenings in Grote's garden near the
banks of the river Cologne.

One afternoon, while we were sitting at a table sipping wine under the
shade of a tree near the river bank, Max said:--

"I have enjoyed every day of our journey, Karl. I have learned the great
lesson of life, and am now ready to go back to Styria and take up my
burden. We must see our friends and say farewell to them. Then--"

"You forget the object of our journey to Burgundy," I answered.

"No, I have not forgotten it," he replied. "I had abandoned it even
before I heard of the impending French marriage."

"Not with my consent, Max," I answered almost fiercely. "The princess is
not yet married, and no one can foresee the outcome of these present
complications into which the duke is plunging. We could not have reached
Burgundy at a more auspicious time. God's hand seems to have been in our
venture. If evil befall the duke, there will be an open gate for you,
Max,--a gate opened by fate."

I could not, by my utmost effort, force myself entirely away from the
belief that Yolanda was the princess, and I was near to telling Max of
my suspicions; but doubt came before my words, and I remained silent.
Before many days I was glad of my caution.

"I knew," said Max, "that I would pain you, Karl, by this determination
to return to Styria without so much as an effort to do--to do what we--
what you wished; but it must be as I say. I must leave Burgundy and go
back to my strait-jacket. I have lived my life, Karl, I have had my
portion of sweet joy and sweeter pain. The pain will give me joy as long
as I live. Now for my duty to my father, my house, and my ancestors."

"But your duty to all these lies here in Peronne," I answered, almost
stifled by the stupendous import of the moment.

"I suppose you are right," sighed Max, speaking gently, though with
decision. "But that duty I'll shirk, and try to make amends in other
ways. I shall never marry. That, Karl, you may depend upon. Styria may
go at my death to Albert of Austria, or to his issue."

"No, no! Max," I cried. He ignored my interruption.

"Along with the countless duties that fall to the lot of a prince are a
few that one owes to himself as a man. There are some sacrifices a man
has no right to inflict upon himself, even for the sake of his family,
his ancestors, or his state." He paused for the space of a minute, and,
dropping his words slowly, continued in a low voice vibrant with
emotion: "There is but one woman, Karl, whom I may marry with God's
pleasure. Her, I may not even think upon; she is as far from me as if
she were dead. I must sacrifice her for the sake of the obligations and
conditions into which I was born; but--" here he hesitated, rose slowly
to his feet, and lifted his hands above his head, "but I swear before
the good God, who, in His wisdom, inflicted the curse of my birth upon
me, that I will marry no other woman than this, let the result be
what it may."

He sank back into the chair and fell forward on the table, burying his
face in his arms. His heart for the moment was stronger than his
resolution.

"That question is settled," thought I. No power save that of the Pope
could absolve the boy from his oath, and I knew that the power of ten
score of popes could not move him from its complete fulfilment. The oath
of Maximilian of Hapsburg, whose heart had never coined a lie, was as
everlasting as the rocks of his native land and, like Styria's mountain
peaks, pierced the dome of heaven.

If Yolanda were not the princess, our journeying to Burgundy had been in
vain, and our sojourn in Peronne was useless and perilous. It could not
be brought to a close too quickly. But (the question mark seems at times
to be the greatest part of life) if Yolanda were Mary of Burgundy, Max
had, beyond doubt, already won the lady's favor, unless she were a
wanton snare for every man's feet. That hypothesis I did not entertain
for a moment. I knew little of womankind, but my limited knowledge told
me that Yolanda was true. Her heart was full of laughter,--a rare, rich
heritage,--and she was little inclined to look on the serious side of
life if she could avoid it; but beneath all there was a real Yolanda,
with a great, tender heart and a shrewd, helpful brain. She was somewhat
of a coquette, but coquetry salts a woman and gives her relish. It had
been a grievous waste on the part of Providence to give to any girl such
eyes as Yolanda's and to withhold from her a modicum of coquetry with
which to use them. Taken all in all, Yolanda, whoever she was, would
grace any station in life. But if she were not the princess, I would be
willing to give my life--nay, more, I would almost be willing to take
hers--rather than see her marry Maximilian of Hapsburg. Happiness could
not come from such a union.

Should Max marry a burgher girl, his father and mother would never look
upon his face again. It would alienate his subjects, humble his house,
and bring him to the level of the meanest noble on the Danube. To all
these dire consequences Max was quite as wide awake as I. He had no
intention of bringing them upon his house, though for himself he would
have welcomed them. So I felt little uneasiness; but when a great love
lays hold upon a great heart, no man may know the outcome.



CHAPTER VIII

ON THE MOAT BRIDGE

Awaiting Castleman's return, we remained housed up at The Mitre, seldom
going farther abroad than Grote's garden save in the early morning or
after dark. But despite our caution trouble befell us, as our burgher
friend had predicted.

Within a week Max began to go out after dark without asking me to
accompany him. When he came into our room late one evening, I asked
carelessly where he had been. I knew where he had been going, and had
burned to speak, but the boy was twenty-two. Within the last few months
he had grown out of my tutelage, and his native strength of character
had taught me to respect him and in a certain way to fear him. From the
promptness of his reply I thought that he had wished me to ask
concerning his outgoing and incoming.

"I have been to the bridge over the moat, near Castleman's House under
the Wall," he answered.

"What did you there?" I asked, seeing his willingness to be questioned.

"I stood there--I--I--" He paused, laughed, and stammered on. "I looked
at the castle and at the moat, like a silly fool, and--and--"

"Castleman's house?" I suggested, helping him out.

"Y-e-s," he answered hesitatingly, "I could not help seeing it. It is
close by the bridge--not twenty paces distant."

"Did you see any one else--except the house?" I asked.

"No," he returned promptly. "I did not want to see any one else. If I
had I should have entered the house."

"Why, then, did you go to the bridge?" I queried.

"I cannot answer that question even to myself," he replied. "I--I--there
is a constant hungering for her, Karl, that I cannot overcome; it seems
as if I am compelled to go to the bridge, though I know I should not. It
is very foolish in me, I am sure, but--"

"I heartily agree with you," I answered. "It is not only foolish, it is
rash; and it may bring you great trouble."

I did not deem it necessary to tell him that he was following in the
footsteps of his race. I left him to suppose that he was the only fool
of the sort that had ever lived. The thought would abate his vanity.

"But I _must_ go to the bridge," he continued, finishing the sentence I
had interrupted, "and I do not see how there can be evil in it."

"No, Max, it Is not wrong in itself," I said reprovingly; "but
Castleman, evidently for good reasons, asked you to stay away from his
house, and counselled us to remain close at the inn. It has also this
evil in it for you, aside from the danger: it will make your duty harder
to perform. When a man longs for what he may not have, he should not
think upon it, much less act on it. Our desires, like covetousness and
jealousy, feed upon themselves. We may, if we but knew it, augment or
abate them at will."

"I shall always think on--on my love for Yolanda," he replied. "I would
not abate it one jot; I would augment it in my heart. But, Karl--you
see, Karl, it is not a question of my own strength to resist. I need no
strength. There is no more reason for you to warn me against this danger
than to admonish a child not to long for a star, fearing he might get
it. The longing may be indulged with impunity; the star and the danger
are out of reach."

I had nothing to say; Max was stronger and nobler than ever I had
believed.

Max continued to go to the bridge, and I made no effort to prevent him.
Meddling mars more frequently than it mends, and when the Fates are
leading, a man is a fool to try to direct their course. Whatever was to
be would be. Fate held Max by the hand and was leading him. I almost
feared to move or to speak in his affairs, lest I should make a mistake
and offend these capricious Fates. The right or the wrong of his visits
to the moat depended entirely upon the answer to my riddle, "Who is
Yolanda?" and I dared not put it to the touch.

On one occasion he returned from the bridge, and without lighting the
lamp, sat on the arm of my chair. The moonlight streaming through the
window illumined his head as with a halo. He tossed the damp curls from
his face, and his eyes were aglow with joy. There was no need to tell me
what had happened, but he told me.

"Ah, Karl, I've seen the star," he cried triumphantly. He was but a
boy-man, you must remember.

"I was sure you would see her," I answered. "How did you bring the
meeting about?"

"I did not bring it about," he answered, laughing softly. "The star came
to the child."

"All things come to him that waits at the bridge," I replied
sarcastically. He paid no heed to the sarcasm, but continued:--

"She happened to be near the bridge when I got there, and she came to
me, Karl,--she came to me like a real star falling out of the darkness."

That little fact solved once more my great riddle--at least, it solved
it for a time. Yolanda was not Mary of Burgundy. I had little knowledge
of princesses and their ways, but I felt sure they were not in the habit
of lurking in dark places or wandering by sluggish moats in the black
shadow of a grim castle. A princess would not and could not have been
loitering by the bridge near the House under the Wall. Castleman's words
concerning Yolanda's residence under his roof came back and convinced me
that my absurd theory concerning her identity was the dream of a madman.

"She happened to be near the bridge?" I asked, with significant
emphasis.

"Perhaps I should not have used the word 'happened,'" returned Max.

"I thought as much. What did she have to say for herself, Max?"

"If I were not sure of your devotion, Karl, I should not answer a
question concerning Yolanda put in such a manner," he replied; "but I'll
tell you. When I stepped on the bridge, she came running to me from the
shadow of the trees. Her arms were uplifted, and she moved so swiftly
and with such grace one could almost think she was flying--"

"Witches fly," I interrupted. My remark checked his flow of enthusiasm.
After a long silence I queried, "Well?"

Max began again.

"She gave me her hand and said: 'I knew you would come again, Sir Max. I
saw you from the battlements last night and the night before and the
night before that. I could not, with certainty, recognize you from so
great a distance, but I was sure you would come to the bridge--I do not
know why, but I was sure you would come; so to-night I too came. You
cannot know the trouble I took or the risk I ran in coming. You have not
seen me for many days, yet you remember me and have come five times to
the bridge. I was wrong when I said you would forget the burgher girl
within a fortnight. Sir Max, you are a marvel of constancy.' At that
moment the figures of two men appeared on the castle battlements,
silhouetted against the moon; they seemed of enormous stature, magnified
in the moonlight. One of them was the Duke of Burgundy. I recognized him
by his great beard, of which I have heard you speak. Yolanda caught one
glimpse of the men and ran back to the house without so much as giving
me a word of farewell."

"What did you say during the brief interview?" I asked.

"Not one word," he replied.

"By my soul, you are an ardent lover," I exclaimed.

"I think she understood me," Max replied, confidently; and doubtless he
was right.

Once more the riddle was solved. A few more solutions and there would be
a mad Styrian in Burgundy. My reflections were after this fashion:
Princesses, after all, do wander by the moat side and loiter by the
bridge. Princesses do go on long journeys with no lady-in-waiting to do
their bidding and no servants ready at their call. Yolanda was Mary of
Burgundy, thought I, and Max had been throwing away God-given
opportunities. Had she not seen Max from the battlements, and had she
not fled at sight of the duke? These two small facts were but scant
evidence of Yolanda's royalty, but they seemed sufficient.

"What would you have me say, Karl?" asked Max. "You would not have me
speak more than I have already said and win her love beyond her power to
withdraw it. That I sometimes believe I might do, but if my regard for
her is true, I should not wish to bring unhappiness to her for the sake
of satisfying my selfish vanity. If I am not mistaken, a woman would
suffer more than a man from such a misfortune."

Here, truly, was a generous love. It asked only the privilege of giving,
and would take nothing in return because it could not give all. If
Yolanda were Mary of Burgundy, Max might one day have a reward worthy of
his virtue. Yolanda's sweetness and beauty and Mary's rich domain would
surely be commensurate with the noblest virtue. I was not willing that
Max should cease wooing Yolanda--if I might give that word to his
conduct--until I should know certainly that she was not the princess.
This, I admit, was cruel indifference to Yolanda's peace of mind or
pain of heart, if Max should win her love and desert her.

Because of a faint though dazzling ray of hope, I encouraged Max after
this to visit the bridge over the moat, dangerous though it was; and
each night I received an account of his doings. Usually the account was
brief and pointless. He went, he stood upon the bridge, he saw the House
under the Wall, he returned to the inn. But a night came when he had
stirring adventures to relate.

At the time of which I am writing every court in Europe had its cluster
of genteel vagabonds,--foreigners,--who stood in high favor. These
hangers-on, though perhaps of the noblest blood in their own lands, were
usually exiles from their native country. Some had been banished for
crimes; others had wandered from their homes, prompted by the love of
roaming so often linked with unstable principles and reckless
dispositions. Burgundy under Charles the Rash was a paradise for these
gentry. The duke, who was so parsimonious with the great and wise Philip
de Comines that he drove him to the court of Louis XI, was open-handed
with these floating villains.

In imitation of King Louis's Scotch guard, Charles had an Italian guard.
The wide difference in the wisdom of these princes is nowhere more
distinctly shown than in the quality of the men they chose to guard
them. Louis employed the simple, honest, brave Scot. Charles chose the
most guileful of men. They were true only to self-interest, brave only
in the absence of danger. The court of Burgundy swarmed with these
Italian mercenaries, many of whom had followed Charles to Peronne. Count
Campo-Basso, who afterward betrayed Charles, was their chief. Among his
followers was a huge Lombard, a great bully, who bore the name of
Count Calli.

On the evening of which I speak Max had hardly stepped on the bridge
when Yolanda ran to him.

"I have been waiting for you, Sir Max," she said. "You are late. I
feared you would not come. I have waited surely an hour, though I am
loath to confess it lest you think me a too willing maiden."

"It would be hard, Fraeulein, for me to think you too willing--you are
but gracious and kind, and I thank you," answered Max. "But you have not
waited an hour. Darkness has fallen barely a quarter of that time."

"I was watching long before dark on the battlements, and--"

"On the battlements, Fraeulein?" asked Max, in surprise.

"I mean from--from the window battlements in uncle's house. I've been
out here under the trees since nightfall, and that seems to have been at
least an hour ago. Don't you understand, Sir Max?" she continued,
laughing softly and speaking as if in jest; "the longer I know you the
more shamefully eager I become; but that is the way with a maid and a
man. She grows more eager and he grows less ardent, and I doubt not the
time will soon arrive, Sir Max, when you will not come at all, and I
shall be left waiting under the trees to weep in loneliness."

Max longed to speak the words that were in his heart and near his lips,
but he controlled himself under this dire temptation and remained
silent. After a long pause she stepped close to him and asked:--

"Did you not want me to come?"

Max dared not tell her how much he had wanted her to come, so he went to
the other extreme--he must say something--and, in an excess of
caution, said:--

"I would not have asked you to come, Fraeulein, though I much desired it;
but sober judgment would prompt me to wish that--that is, I--ah,
Fraeulein, I did not want you to come to the bridge."

She laughed softly and said:--

"Now, Little Max, you do not speak the truth. You did want me to come,
else why do you come to the bridge? Why do you come?"

In view of all the facts in the case the question was practically
unanswerable unless Max wished to tell the truth, so he evaded
by saying:--

"I do not know."

She looked quickly up to his face and stepped back from him:--

"Did you come to see Twonette? I had not thought of her. She is but
drained milk and treacle. Do you want to see her, Sir Max? If so, I'll
return to the house and send her to you."

"Fraeulein, I need not answer your question," returned Max, convincingly.

"But I love Twonette. I know you do not come to see her, and I should
not have spoken as I did," said Yolanda, penitently.

Perhaps her penitential moods were the most bewitching--certainly they
were the most dangerous--of all her many phases.

"You know why I come to the bridge, even though I do not," said Max.
"Tell me, Fraeulein, why I come."

"That is what you may tell me. I came to hear it," she answered softly,
hanging her head.

"I may not speak, Fraeulein," he replied, with a deep, regretful sigh.
"What I said to you on the road from Basel will be true as long as I
live, but we agreed that it should not again be spoken between us. For
your sake more than for mine it is better that I remain silent."

Yolanda hung her head, while her fingers were nervously busy with the
points of her bodice. She uttered a low laugh, flashed her eyes upon
him for an instant, and again the long lashes shaded them.

"You need not be _too_ considerate for my sake, Sir Max," she whispered;
"though--though I confess that I never supposed any man could bring me
to this condition of boldness."

Max caught her hands, and, clasping them between his own, drew the girl
toward him. The top of her head was below his chin, and the delicious
scent from her hair intoxicated his senses. She felt his great frame
tremble with emotion, and a thrill of exquisite delight sped through
every fibre of her body, warming every drop of blood in her veins. But
Max, by a mighty effort, checked himself, and remained true to his
self-imposed renunciation in word and act. After a little time she drew
her hands from his, saying:--

"You are right, Max, to wish to save yourself and me from pain."

"I wish to save you, Yolanda. I want the pain; I hope it will cling to
me all my life. I want to save you from it."

"Perhaps you are beginning too late, Max," said the girl, sighing,
"but--but after all you are right. Even as you see our situation it is
impossible for us to be more than we are to each other. But if you knew
all the truth, you would see how utterly hopeless is the future in which
I at one time thought I saw a ray of hope. Our fate is sealed, Max; we
are doomed. Before long you shall know. I will soon tell you all."

"Do you wish to tell me now, Fraeulein?" he asked.

"No," she whispered.

"In your own good time, Yolanda. I would not urge you."

Max understood Yolanda's words to imply that her station in life was
even lower than it seemed, or that there was some taint upon herself or
her family. Wishing to assure her that such a fact could not influence
him, he said:--

"You need not fear to tell me all concerning yourself or your family.
There can be no stain upon you, and even though your station be
less than--"

"Hush, Max, hush," she cried, placing her hand protestingly against his
breast. "You do not know what you are saying. There is no stain on me or
my family."

Max wondered, but was silent; he had not earned the right to be
inquisitive.

The guard appeared at that moment on the castle battlements, and Max and
Yolanda sought the shelter of a grove of trees a dozen paces from the
bridge on the town side of the moat. They seated themselves on a bench,
well within the shadow of the trees, and after a moment's silence
Max said:--

"I shall not come to the bridge again, Fraeulein. I'll wait till your
uncle returns, when I shall see you at his house. Then I'll say farewell
and go back to the hard rocks of my native land--and to a life harder
than the rocks."

"You are right in your resolve not to come again to the bridge," said
Yolanda, "for so long as you come, I, too, shall come--when I can. That
will surely bring us trouble sooner or later. But when Uncle Castleman
returns, you must come to his house, and I shall see you there. As to
your leaving Peronne, we will talk of that later. It is not to be
thought of now."

She spoke with the confidence of one who felt that she might command him
to stay or order him to go. She would settle that little point
for herself.

"I will go, Fraeulein," said Max, "soon after your uncle's return."

"Perhaps it will be best, but we will determine that when we must--when
the time comes that we can put it off no longer. Now, I wish you to
grant me three promises, Sir Max. First, ask me no questions concerning
myself. Of course, you will ask them of no one else; I need not demand
that promise of you."

"I gladly promise," he answered. "What I already know of you is
all-sufficient."

"Second, do not fail to come to my uncle's house when he invites you.
His home is worthy to receive the grandest prince in the world. My--my
lord, Duke Philip the Good, was Uncle Castleman's dear friend. The old
duke, when in Peronne, dined once a week with my uncle. Although uncle
is a burgher, he could have been noble. He refused a lordship and
declined the Order of the Golden Fleece, preferring the freedom of his
own caste. I have always thought he acted wisely."

"Indeed he was wise," returned Max. "You that have never known the
restraints of one born to high estate cannot fully understand how
wise he was."

Yolanda glanced up to Max with amusement in her eyes:--

"Ah, yes! For example, there is poor Mary of Burgundy, who is to marry
the French Dauphin. I pity her. For all we know, she may be longing for
another man as I--I longed for my mastiff, Caesar, when I was away. By
the way, Sir Max, are you still wearing the ring?" She took his hand and
felt for the ring on his finger. "Ah, you have left it off," she cried
reproachfully, answering her own question.

"Yes," answered Max. "There have been so many changes within the last
few weeks that I have taken it off, and--and I shall cease to wear it."

"Then give it to me, Sir Max," she cried excitedly.

"I may not do that, Fraeulein," answered Max. "It was given to me by one
I respect."

"I know who the lady is," answered Yolanda, tossing her head saucily and
speaking with a dash of irritation in her voice.

"Ah, you do?" asked Max. "Tell me now, my little witch, who is the lady?
If you know so much tell me."

Yolanda lifted her eyes solemnly toward heaven, invoking the help of her
never failing familiar spirit.

"I see an unhappy lady," she said, speaking in a low whisper, "whose
father is one of the richest and greatest princes in all the world. A
few evenings ago while we were standing on the moat bridge talking, I
saw the lady's father on the battlements of yonder terrible castle. His
form seemed magnified against the sky till it was of unearthly size and
terrible to look on--doubly terrible to those who know him. If she
should disobey her father, he would kill her with his battle-axe, I
verily believe, readily as he would crush a rebellious soldier. Yet she
fears him not, because she is of his own dauntless blood and fears not
death itself. She is to marry the Dauphin of France, and her wishes are
of so small concern, I am told that she has not yet been notified. This
terrible man will sell his daughter as he would barter a horse. She is
powerless to move in her own behalf, being bound hand and foot by the
remorseless shackles of her birth. She will become an unhappy queen,
and, if she survives her cruel father, she will, in time, take to her
husband this fat land of Burgundy, for the sake of which he wishes to
marry her. She is Mary of Burgundy, and even I, poor and mean of
station, pity her. She--gave--you--the--ring."

"How did you learn all this, Fraeulein? You are not guessing, as you
would have had me believe, and you would not lie to me. What you have
just said is a part with what you said at Basel and at Strasburg. How
did you learn it, Fraeulein?"

"Twonette," answered Yolanda.

That simple explanation was sufficient for Max. Yolanda might very
likely know the private affairs of the Princess Mary through Twonette,
who was a friend of Her Highness.

"But you have not promised to visit Uncle Castleman's house when he
invites you," said Yolanda, drawing Max again to the bench beside her.

"I gladly promise," said Max.

"That brings me to the third promise I desire," said Yolanda. "I want
you to give me your word that you will not leave Burgundy within one
month from this day, unless I give you permission."

"I cannot grant you that promise, Fraeulein," answered Max.

"Ah, but you must, you shall," cried Yolanda, desperately clutching his
huge arms with her small hands and clinging to him. "I will scream, I
will waken the town. I will not leave you, and you shall not shake me
off till I have your promise. I may not give you my reasons, but trust
me, Max, trust me. Give me your unquestioning faith for once. I am not a
fool, Max, nor would I lie to you for all the world, in telling you that
it is best for you to give me the promise. Believe me, while there may
be risk to me in what I ask, it is best that you grant it, and that you
remain in Peronne for a month--perhaps for two months, unless I sooner
tell you to go."

"I may not give you the promise you ask, Fraeulein," answered Max,
desperately. "You must know how gladly I would remain here forever."

"I believe truly you want to stay," she answered demurely, "else I
surely would not ask this promise of you. Your unspoken words have been
more eloquent than any vows your lips could coin, and I know what is in
your heart, else my boldness would have been beyond excusing. What I
wish is that your desire should be great enough to keep you when I ask
you to remain."

"I may not think of myself or my own desires, Fraeulein," he answered.
"Like the lady of Burgundy, I was shackled at my birth."

"The lady of Burgundy is ever in your mind," Yolanda retorted sullenly.
"You would give this promise quickly enough were she asking it--she
with her vast estate."

There was an angry gleam in the girl's eyes, and a dark cloud of
unmistakable jealousy on her face. She stepped back from Max and hung
her head. After a moment of silence she said:--

"You may answer me to-morrow night at this bridge, Sir Max. If you do
not see fit to give me the promise, then I shall weary you no further
with importunity, and you may go your way."

There was a touch of coldness in her voice as she turned and walked
slowly toward the bridge. Max called softly:--

"Yolanda!"

She did not answer, but continued with slow steps and drooping head. As
her form was fading into the black shadow of the castle wall he ran
across the bridge to her, and took her hand:--

"Fraeulein, I will be at the bridge to-morrow night, and I will try to
give the promise you ask of me."



CHAPTER IX

THE GREAT RIDDLE

Max was cautious in the matter of making promises, as every honest man
should be, since he had no thought of breaking them once they were
given. Therefore, he wished to know that he could keep his word before
pledging it. His lifelong habit of asking my advice may also have
influenced him in refusing the promise that he so much wished to give;
or perhaps he may have wanted time to consider. He did not want to give
the promise on the spur of an impulse.

When he had finished telling me his troubles, I asked:--

"What will you do to-morrow night?"

My riddle was again solved; Yolanda was the princess. Her words were
convincing. All doubt had been swept from my mind. There would be no
more battledore and shuttlecock with my poor brain on that subject. So
when Max said, "I do not know what I shall do," I offered my opinion;
"You surprise me, Max. You lack enterprise; there is no warmth in your
blood. The girl cannot harm you. Give her the promise. Are your veins
filled with water and caution?"

"What do you mean, Karl?" cried Max, stepping toward me with surprise
and delight in his face. "Are you advising me wrongly for the first time
in my life?" Then there was a touch of anger in his voice as he
continued: "Have I blood in my veins? Aye, Karl, burning, seething
blood, and every drop cries wildly for this girl--this child. I would
give the half of it to make her my wife and to make her happy. But I
would not abate one jot of my wretchedness at her expense. As I treat
her I pray God to deal with me. I cannot make her my wife, and if I am
half a man, I would not win her everlasting love and throw it to the
dogs. She all but asked me last night to tell her of my love for her,
and almost pressed hers upon me, but I did not even kiss her hand. Ah,
Karl, I wish I were dead!"

The poor boy threw himself on the bed and buried his face in his hands.
I went to him and, seating myself on the bed, ran my fingers through
his curls.

"My dear Max, I have never advised you wrongly. Perhaps luck has been
with me. Perhaps my good advice has been owing to my great caution and
my deep love for you. I am sure that I do not advise you wrongly now. Go
to the bridge to-morrow night, and give Yolanda the promise she asks.
If she wants it, give her the ring. Keep restraint upon your words and
acts, but do not fear for one single moment that my advice is wrong.
Max, I know whereof I speak."

Max rose from the bed and looked at me in surprise; but my advice jumped
so entirely with the longing deep buried in his heart that he took it as
a dying man accepts life.

The next evening Max met Yolanda under the trees near the bridge.

"I may remain but a moment," she said hurriedly and somewhat coldly. "Do
you bring me the promise?"

"Yes," answered Max. "I have also brought you the ring, Fraeulein, but
you may not wear it, and no one may ever see it."

"Ah, Max, it is well that you have brought me the promise, for had you
not you would never have seen me again. I thank you for the promise and
for the ring. No one shall see it. Of that you may be doubly sure. If by
any chance some meddlesome body should see it and tell this arrogant
lady of the castle that I have the keepsake she sent you, there would be
trouble, Max, there would be trouble. She is a jealous, vindictive
little wretch and you shall not think on her. No doubt she would have me
torn limb from limb if she knew I possessed the jewel. When I touch it,
I feel that I almost hate this princess, whose vast estates have a
power of attraction greater than any woman may exert."

There was real anger in her tone. In truth, dislike and aversion were
manifest in every word she spoke of the princess, save when the tender
little heart pitied her.

"Now I must say good night and adieu, Sir Max, until uncle returns,"
said Yolanda. She gave Max her hands and he, in bringing them to his
lips, drew her close to him. At that moment they were startled by a
boisterous laugh close beside them, and the fellow calling himself Count
Calli slapped Max on the back, saying in French:--

"Nicely done, my boy, nicely done. But you are far too considerate. Why
kiss a lady's hand when her lips are so near? I will show you, Fraeulein
Castleman, exactly how so delicate a transaction is conducted by an
enterprising gentleman."

He insultingly took hold of Yolanda, and, with evident intent to kiss
her, tried to lift the veil with which she had hastily covered her face.
Max struck the fellow a blow that felled him to the ground, but Calli
rose and, drawing his dagger, rushed upon Max. Yolanda stood almost
paralyzed with terror. Max was unarmed, but he seized Calli's wrist and
twisted it till a small bone cracked, and the dagger fell from his hand
to the ground. Calli's arm hung limp at his side, and he was powerless
to do further injury. Max did not take advantage of his helplessness,
but said:--

"Go, or I will twist your neck as I have broken your wrist."

Max had gone out that evening without arms or armor. He had not even a
dagger.

When Calli had passed out of sight, Yolanda stooped, picked up his
dagger, and offered it to Max, saying:--

"He will gather his friends at once. Take this dagger and hasten back to
the inn, or you will never reach it alive. No, come with me to Uncle
Castleman's house. There you may lie concealed."

"I may not go to your uncle's house, Fraeulein," answered Max. "I can go
safely to the inn. Do not fear for me."

Yolanda protested frantically, but Max refused.

"Go quickly, then," she said, "and be on your guard at all times. This
man who came upon us is Count Calli, the greatest villain in Burgundy.
He is a friend of Campo-Basso. Now hasten to the inn, if you will not
come with me to uncle's house, and beware, for this man and his friends
will seek vengeance; of that you must never allow yourself to doubt.
Adieu, till uncle comes."

Max reached the inn unmolested. We donned our mail shirts, expecting
trouble, and took turn and turn watching and sleeping. Next day we hired
two stalwart Irish squires and armed them cap-a-pie. We meant to give
our Italian friends a hot welcome if they attacked us, though we had, in
truth, little fear of an open assault. We dreaded more a dagger thrust
in the back, or trouble from court through the machinations of
Campo-Basso.

The next morning Max sent one of our Irishmen to Castleman's house with
a verbal message to Fraeulein Castleman. When the messenger returned, he
replied to my question:--

"I was shown into a little room where three ladies sat. 'What have you
to say?' asked the little black-haired one in the corner--she with the
great eyes and the face pale as a chalk-cliff. I said, 'I am instructed,
mesdames, to deliver this simple message: Sir Max is quite well.' 'That
will do. Thank you.' said the big eyes and the pale face. Then she gave
me two gold florins. The money almost took my breath, and when I looked
up to thank her, blest if the white face wasn't rosy as a June dawn.
When I left, she was dancing about the room singing and laughing, and
kissing everybody but me--worse luck! By Saint Patrick, I never saw so
simple a message create so great a commotion. 'Sir Max is quite well.'
I'm blest if he doesn't look it. Was he ever ill?"

After five or six days we allowed ourselves to fall into a state of
unwatchfulness. One warm evening we dismissed our squires for an hour's
recreation. The Cologne River flows by the north side of the inn garden,
and, the spot being secluded, Max and I, after dark, cooled ourselves by
a plunge in the water. We had come from the water and finished dressing,
save for our doublets, which lay upon the sod, when two men approached
whom we thought to be our squires. When first we saw them, they were in
the deep shadow of the trees that grew near the water's edge, and we did
not notice their halberds until they were upon us. When the men had
approached within four yards, we heard a noise back of us and turning
saw four soldiers, each bearing an arquebuse pointed in our direction.
At the same moment another man stepped from behind the two we had first
seen and came quickly to me. He was Count Calli. In his left hand he
held a parchment. Max and I were surrounded and unarmed.

"I arrest you on the order of His Grace, the duke," said Calli, in low
tones, speaking French with an Italian accent.

"Your authority?" I demanded.

"This," he said, offering me the parchment, "and this," touching his
sword. I took the parchment but could not read it in the dark.

"I'll go to the inn to read your warrant," I said, stooping to take up
my doublet.

"You will do nothing of the sort," he answered. "One word more from
you, and there will be no need to arrest you. I shall be only too glad
to dispense with that duty."

I felt sure he wished us to resist that he might have a pretext for
murdering us. I could see that slow-going Max was making ready for a
fight, even at the odds of seven to two, and to avert trouble I spoke
softly in German:--

"These men are eager to kill us. Our only hope lies in submission."

While I was speaking the men gathered closely about us, and almost
before my words were uttered, our wrists were manacled behind us and we
were blindfolded. Our captors at once led us away. A man on either side
of me held my arms, and by way of warning I received now and then a
merciless prod between my shoulder-blades from a halberd in the hands of
an enthusiastic soul that walked behind me. Max, I supposed, was
receiving like treatment.

After a hundred paces or more we waded the river, and then I knew
nothing of our whereabouts. Within a half-hour we crossed a bridge which
I supposed was the one over the moat at the Postern. There we halted,
and the password was given in a whisper. Then came the clanking of
chains and creaking of hinges, and I knew the gates were opening and the
portcullis rising. After the gates were opened I was again urged forward
by the men on either side of me and the enterprising soul in the rear.

I noticed that I was walking on smooth flags in place of cobble-stones,
and I was sure we were in the bailey yard of the castle. Soon I was
stopped again, a door opened, squeaking on its rusty hinges, and we
began the descent of a narrow stairway. Twenty or thirty paces from the
foot of the stairway we stopped while another door was opened. This, I
felt sure, was the entrance to an underground cell, out of which God
only knew if I should ever come alive. While I was being thrust through
the door, I could not resist calling out, "Max--Max, for the love of God
answer me if you hear!" I got no answer. Then I appealed to my guard:--

"Let me have one moment's speech with him, only one moment. I will pay
you a thousand crowns the day I am liberated if you grant me
this favor."

"No one is with you," the man replied. "I would willingly earn the
thousand crowns, but if they are to be paid when you are liberated, I
fear I should starve waiting for them."

With these comforting words they thrust me into the cell, manacled and
blindfolded. I heard the door clang to; the rusty lock screeched
venomously, and then I was alone in gravelike silence. I hardly, dared
to take a step, for I knew these underground cells were honeycombed
with death-traps. I could not grope about me with my hands, for they
were tied, and I knew not what pitfall my feet might find.

How long I stood without moving I did not know; it might have been an
hour or a day for all I could tell. I was almost stupefied by this
misfortune into which I had led Max. I do not remember having thought at
all of my own predicament. I cannot say that I suffered; I was benumbed.
I remember wondering about Max and speculating vaguely on his fate, but
for a time the thought did not move me. I also remember sinking to the
floor, only half conscious of what I was doing, and then I must have
swooned or slept.

When I recovered consciousness I rose to my feet. A step or two brought
me against a damp stone wall. Three short paces in another direction,
and once more I was against the wall. Then I stopped, turned my back to
the reeking stone, and cursed the brutes that had treated me with such
wanton cruelty. It was not brutal; it was human. No brute could feel it;
only in the heart of man could it live.

By chafing the back of my head against the wall I succeeded in removing
the bandage from my eyes. Though I was more comfortable, I was little
better off, since I could see nothing in the pitiless black of my cell.
I stretched my eyes, as one will in the dark, till they ached, but I
could not see even an outline of the walls.

A burning thirst usually follows excitement, and after a time it came to
me and grew while I thought upon it. My parched throat was almost
closed, and I wondered if I were to be left to choke to death. I knew
that in Spain and Italy such refinement of cruelty was oftened
practised, but I felt sure that the Duke of Burgundy would not permit
the infliction of so cruel a fate, did he know of it. But our captors
were not Burgundians, and I doubted if the duke even knew of our
imprisonment. I suffered intensely, though I believe I could have
endured it with fortitude had I not known that Max was suffering a
like fate.

I believed I had been several days in my cell when I heard a key turn in
the lock. The door opened, and a man bearing a basket and a lantern
entered. He placed the basket on the ground and, with the lantern hung
over his arm, unfastened the manacles of my wrists. In the basket were a
_boule_ of black bread and a stone jar of water. I eagerly grasped the
jar, and never in my life has anything passed my lips that tasted so
sweet as that draught.

"Don't drink too much at one time," said the guard, not unkindly. "It
might drive you mad. A man went mad in this cell less than a month ago
from drinking too much water."

"How long had he been without it?" I asked of this cheering personage.

"Three days," he responded.

"I did not know that men of the north could be so cruel as to keep a
prisoner three days without water," I said.

"It happened because the guard was drunk," answered the fellow,
laughing.

"I hope you will remain sober," said I, not at all intending to be
humorous, though the guard laughed.

"I was the guard," he replied. "I did not intend to leave the prisoner
without water, but, you see, I was dead drunk and did not know it."

"Perhaps you have been drunk for the last three or four days since I
have been here?" I asked.

He laughed boisterously.

"You here three or four days! Why, you are mad already! You have been
here only over night."

Well! I thought surely I _was_ mad!

Suddenly the guard left me and closed the cell door. I called
frantically to him, but I might as well have cried from the bottom
of the sea.

After what seemed fully another week of waiting, the guard again came
with bread and water. By that time my mind had cleared. I asked the
guard to deliver a message to my Lord d'Hymbercourt and offered a large
reward for the service. I begged him to say to Hymbercourt that his
friends of The Mitre had been arrested and were now in prison. The
guard willingly promised to deliver my message, but he did not keep his
word, though I repeated my request many times and promised him any
reward he might name when I should regain my liberty. With each visit he
repeated his promise, but one day he laughed and said I was wasting
words; that he would never see the reward and that in all probability I
should never again see the light of day. His ominous words almost
prostrated me, though again I say I suffered chiefly for Max's sake.
Could I have gained his liberty at the cost of my life, nay, even my
soul, I should have been glad to do it.

But I will not further describe the tortures of my imprisonment. The
greatest of them all was my ignorance of Max's fate. It was a frightful
ordeal, and I wonder that my reason survived it.



CHAPTER X

THE HOUSE UNDER THE WALL

To leave Max and myself in our underground dungeon, imprisoned for an
unknown, uncommitted crime, while I narrate occurrences outside our
prison walls looks like a romancer's trick, but how else I am to go
about telling this history I do not know. Yolanda is quite as important
a personage in this narrative as Max and myself, and I must tell of her
troubles as I learned of them long afterwards.

Castleman reached home ten days or a fortnight after our arrest,
bringing with him his precious silks, velvets, and laces to the last
ell. As he had predicted, they were quadrupled in value, and their
increase made the good burgher a very rich man.

Soon after Castleman reached the House under the Wall, Yolanda came
dancing into the room where he was sitting with good Frau Katherine,
drinking a bottle of rich Burgundy wine well mixed with pepper
and honey.

"Ah, uncle," she cried joyously, "at last you are at home, and I have a
fine kiss for you."

"Thank you, my dear," said Castleman, "you have spoiled my wine. The
honey will now taste vinegarish."

"You are a flatterer, uncle--isn't he, tante?" laughed Yolanda, turning
to Aunt Castleman.

"I am afraid he is," said the good frau, in mock distress. "Every one
tries to spoil him."

"You more than any one, tante," cried Yolanda.

"Tut, tut, child," cried Frau Katherine, "I abate his vanity with
frowns."

Yolanda laughed, and the burgher, pinching his wife's red cheek,
protested:--

"_You_ frown? You couldn't frown if you tried. A clear sky may rain as
easily. Get the peering glass, Yolanda, and find, if you can, a wrinkle
on her face."

Yolanda, who was always laughing, threw herself upon the frau's lap and
pretended to hunt for wrinkles. Soon she reported:--

"No wrinkles, uncle--there, you dear old tante, I'll kiss you to keep
you from growing jealous of uncle on my account."

"If any one about this house has been spoiled, it's you, Yolanda," said
Frau Kate, affectionately.

"When you speak after that fashion, tante, you almost make me weep,"
said Yolanda. "Surely you and uncle and Twonette are the only friends I
have, and give me all the joy I know. But, uncle, now that you are at
home, I want you to drink your wine quickly and give me a great deal of
joy--oh, a great deal."

"Indeed I will, my dear. Tell me where to begin," answered Castleman,
draining his goblet.

Yolanda flushed rosily and hesitated. At that moment Twonette, who had
already greeted her father, entered the room.

"Twonette will tell you," said Yolanda, laughing nervously.

"What shall I tell him?" asked Twonette.

"You will tell him what I want him to do quickly, at once, immediately,"
pleaded Yolanda. "You know what I have waited for this long,
weary time."

"Tell him yourself what you want quickly, at once, immediately,"
answered Twonette. "I, too, have wants."

"What do you want, daughter?" asked Castleman, beaming upon Twonette.

"I want thirty ells of blue velvet for a gown, and I want you to ask
permission of the duke for me to wear it."

"Many noble ladies would not dare to ask so much of the duke," suggested
Castleman.

"It is true, George," said Frau Kate, "that only noble ladies of high
degree are permitted to wear velvet of blue; but it is also true that
only your stubbornness has deprived our daughter of that privilege. She
might now be noble had you not been stubborn."

"I also want--" began Twonette.

"You shall wear the duke's own color, purple, if you will hold your
tongue about worthless matters and tell your father what I want," cried
Yolanda, impetuously thrusting Twonette toward Castleman.

"You tell him your own wants," answered Twonette, pouting. "Then perhaps
his own daughter may have his ear for a moment or two."

Yolanda laughed at Twonette's display of ill-temper.

"Well, uncle, since I must tell my own tale, I will begin," said
Yolanda, blushing. "I want you to go to The Mitre and ask a friend--two
friends--of yours here to supper this evening. I have waited a weary
time for you to give this invitation, and I will not wait another hour,
nay, not another minute. We have a fat peacock that longs to be killed;
it is so fat that it is tired of life. We have three pheasants that will
die of grief if they are not baked at once. I myself have been feeding
them this fortnight past in anticipation of this feast. We have a dozen
wrens for a live pie, so tame they will light on our heads when you cut
the crust. We shall have a famous feast, uncle. There will be present
only tante, you, Twonette, our two guests, and myself. Now, uncle, the
wine is consumed. Hurry to the inn."

"My dear child," said Castleman, seriously, "you know that I am almost
powerless to refuse any request you make, but in this case I must
do so."

"Ah, uncle, please tell me why," coaxed Yolanda, with trouble in her
eyes and grief at the corners of her mouth.

"Because you must see no more of this very pleasing young man," answered
Castleman. "I yielded to your wishes at Basel and brought him with us; I
was compelled to send him with you from Metz; but now that our journey
is over, I shall thank him and pay him an additional sum, since my goods
are safe home, and say farewell to him. I believe he is a worthy and
honorable young man, but we do not know who he is, and if we did--"

"Ah, but _I_ know who he is," interrupted Yolanda, tossing her head.
"_We_ may not know, but _I_ know, and that is sufficient."

"Do you know?" asked Castleman. "Pray tell me of him. The information
was refused me; at least, it was not given. He is probably of noble
birth, but we have nobles here in Peronne whom we would not ask to our
house. We know nothing of this wandering young Max, save that he is
honest and brave and good to look upon."

"In God's name, uncle, what more would you ask in a man?" cried Yolanda,
stamping her foot. "'Noble, honest, brave, and good to look upon!' Will
not those qualities fit a man for any one's regard and delight any
woman's heart? I tell you I will have my way in this. I tell you I know
his degree. I know who he is and what he is and all about him, though I
don't intend to tell you anything, and would inform you now that it's no
business of yours."

"Did you coax all this information out of him, you little witch?" asked
Castleman, smiling against his will.

"I did not," retorted Yolanda, leaning forward and lifting her chin
defiantly. "I learned it soon after we reached Basel. I discovered it
by--by magic--by sorcery. He will tell you as much."

"By the magic of your eyes and smiles. That's the way you wheedled it
out of him, and that's the way you coax every one to your will," said
Castleman, laughing while Yolanda pouted.

"I never saw a girl make such eyes at a man as you made at this Sir
Max," said Twonette, who was waiting for her blue velvet gown.

"Twonette, you are prettier with your mouth shut. Silence becomes you,"
retorted Yolanda, favoring Twonette with a view of her back. "Now,
uncle," continued Yolanda, "all is ready: peacock, pheasants, wrens; and
I command you to procure the guests."

Castleman laughed at her imperious ways and said:--

"I will obey your commands in all else, Yolanda, but not in this."

The girl, who was more excited than she appeared to be, stood for a
moment by her uncle's side, and, drawing her kerchief from its pouch,
placed it to her eyes.

"Every one tries to make me unhappy," she sobbed. "There is no one to
whom I may turn for kindness. If you will not do this for me, uncle, if
you will not bring him--them--to me, I give you my sacred word I will go
to them at the inn. If you force me to do an act so unmaidenly, I'll
leave you and will not return to your house. I shall know that you do
not love me!"

Castleman was not ready to yield, though he was sure that in the end he
would do so. He also knew that her threat to go to the inn was by no
means an idle word.

Yolanda was not given to tears, but she used them when she found she
could accomplish her ends by no other means. A long pause ensued, broken
by Yolanda's sobs.

"Good-by, uncle. Good-by, tante. Good-by, Twonette. I mean what I say,
uncle. I am going, and I shall not come back if you will not do this
thing for me. I am going to the inn."

She kissed them all and started toward the door. The loving old tante
could not hold out. She, too, was weeping, and she added her
supplications to Yolanda's.

"Do what she asks, father--only this once," said Frau Kate.

"Only this once," pleaded Yolanda, turning her tear-moistened eyes upon
the helpless burgher.

"I suppose I must surrender," exclaimed Castleman, rising from his
chair. "I have been surrendering to you, your aunt, and Twonette all my
life. First Kate, then Twonette, and of late years they have been
reenforced by you, Yolanda, and my day is lost. I do a little useless
fighting when I know I am in the right, but it is always followed by a
cowardly surrender."

"But think of your victories in surrender, uncle. Think of your
rewards," cried Yolanda, running to his side and kissing him. "Many a
man would fight a score of dragons for that kiss."

"Dragons!" cried Castleman, protestingly. "I would rather fight a
hundred dragons than do this thing for you, Yolanda. I know little
concerning the ways of a girl's heart, but, ignorant as I am, I could
see--Mother, I never saw a girl so infatuated with a man as our Yolanda
is with this Sir Max--this stranger."

"There, tante," cried Yolanda, turning triumphantly to Frau Kate, "you
hear what uncle says. Now you see the great reason for having him
here--this Sir Max and his friend. But, uncle, if you think I mean to
make a fool of myself about this man, put the notion out of your head. I
know only too well the barrier between us, but, uncle mine," she
continued pleadingly, all her wonted joyousness driven from her face, "I
am so wretched, so unhappy. If I may have a moment of joy now, for the
love of the Blessed Virgin don't deny me. I sometimes think you love me
chiefly because I so truly deserve your pity. As for this young man, he
is gentle, strong, and good, and, as you say, he certainly is good to
look upon. Twonette knows that, don't you, Twonette? He is wise, too,
and brave, even against the impulse of his own great heart. He thinks
only of my good and his own duties. I am in no danger from him, uncle.
He can do me only good. I shall be happier and better all my life long
for having known him. Now, uncle?"

"I will fetch him," exclaimed Castleman, seeking his hat. "You may be
right or you may be wrong, but for persuasiveness I never saw your like.
I declare, Yolanda, you have almost made me feel like a villain for
refusing you."

"I wish the world were filled with such villains, uncle. Don't you,
tante?" said Yolanda, beaming upon the burgher.

"No," answered the frau, "I should want them all for my husbands."

"God forbid!" cried Yolanda, lifting her hands as she turned toward the
door, laughing once more. "Tell them to be here by six o'clock, uncle.
No! we will say five. Tell them to come on the stroke of five. No! four
o'clock is better; then we will sup at six, and have an hour or two
before we eat. That's it, uncle; have them here by four. Tell them to
fail not by so much as a minute, upon their allegiance. Tell them to be
here promptly on the stroke of four."

She ran from the room singing, and Castleman started toward the front
door.

"The girl makes a fool of me whenever she wishes," he observed, pausing
and turning toward his wife. "She coaxed me to take her to Basel, and
life was a burden till I got her home again. Now she winds me around her
finger and says, 'Uncle Castleman, obey me,' and I obey. Truly, there
never was in all the world such another coaxing, persuasive little witch
as our Yolanda."

"Poor child," said Frau Kate, as her husband passed out of the door.

Castleman reached The Mitre near the hour of one, and of course did not
find us. At half-past four, Yolanda entered the great oak room where
Twonette and Frau Kate were stitching tapestry.

"Where suppose you Sir Max is--and Sir Karl?" asked Yolanda, with a
touch of anger in her voice. "Why has he not come? I have been watching
but have not seen him--them. He places little value on our invitation
to slight it by half an hour. I am of half a mind not to see him when
he comes."

"Your uncle is downstairs under the arbor, Yolanda," said Frau
Castleman, gently. "He will tell you, sweet one, why Sir Max is
not here."

Frau Katherine and Twonette put aside their tapestry, and went with
Yolanda to question Castleman in the arbor.

"Well, uncle, where are our guests?" asked Yolanda.

"They are not at the inn, and have not been there since nearly a
fortnight ago," answered Castleman.

"Gone!" cried Yolanda, aflame with sudden anger. "He gave me his word he
would not go. I'm glad he's gone, and I hope I may never see his face
again. I deemed his word inviolate, and now he has broken it."

"Do not judge Sir Max too harshly," said Castleman; "you may wrong him.
I do not at all understand the absence of our friends. Grote tells me
they went to the river one night to bathe and did not return. Their
horses and arms are at the inn. Their squires, who had left them two
hours before, have not been seen since. Grote has heard nothing of our
friends that will throw light on their whereabouts. Fearing to get
himself into trouble, he has stupidly held his tongue. He was not
inclined to speak plainly even to me."

"Blessed Mother, forgive me!" cried Yolanda, sinking back upon a
settle. After a long silence she continued: "Two weeks ago! That was a
few days after the trouble at the bridge."

"What trouble?" asked Castleman.

"I'll tell you, uncle, and you, tante. Twonette already knows of it,"
answered Yolanda. "Less than three weeks ago I was with Sir Max near the
moat bridge. It was dark--after night--"

"Yolanda!" exclaimed Castleman, reproachfully.

"Yes, uncle, I know I ought not to have been there, but I was," said
Yolanda.

"Alone with Sir Max after dark?" asked the astonished burgher.

"Yes, alone with him, after it was _very_ dark," answered Yolanda. "I
had met him several times before."

Castleman tried to speak, but Yolanda interrupted him:--

"Uncle, I know and admit the truth of all you would say, so don't say
it. While I was standing very near to Sir Max, uncle, very near, Count
Calli came upon us and offered me gross insult. Sir Max, being unarmed,
knocked the fellow down, and in the struggle that ensued Count Calli's
arm was broken. I heard the bone snap, then Calli, swearing vengeance,
left us. Why Sir Max went out unarmed that night I do not know. Had he
been armed he might have killed Calli; that would have prevented
this trouble."

"I, too, wonder that Sir Max went out unarmed," said Castleman musingly.
"Why do you suppose he was so incautious?"

"Perhaps that is the custom in Styria. There may be less danger, less
treachery, there than in Burgundy," suggested Yolanda.

"In Styria!" exclaimed Castleman. "Sir Karl said that he was from Italy.
He did not tell me of Sir Max's home, but I supposed he also was from
Italy, or perhaps from Wuertemberg--there are many Guelphs in
that country."

"Yes, I will tell you of that later, uncle," said Yolanda. "When Calli
left us, Sir Max returned safely to the inn, having promised me not to
leave Peronne within a month. This trouble has come from Calli and
Campo-Basso."

"But you say this young man is from Styria?" asked Castleman, anxiously.

"Yes," replied Yolanda, drooping her head, "he is Maximilian, Count of
Hapsburg."

"Great God!" exclaimed Castleman, starting to his feet excitedly. "If I
have brought these men here to be murdered, I shall die of grief; all
Europe will turn upon Burgundy."

Yolanda buried her face in Mother Kate's breast; Castleman walked to and
fro, and sympathetic Twonette wept gently. It was not in Twonette's
nature to do anything violently. Yolanda, on the contrary, was intense
in all her joys and griefs.

"Did Sir Max tell you who he is?" asked Castleman, stopping in front of
Yolanda.

"No," she replied, "I will tell you some day how I guessed it. He does
not know that I know, and I would not have you tell him."

"Tell me, Yolanda," demanded Castleman, "what has passed between you and
this Sir Max?"

"Nothing, uncle, save that I know--ah, uncle, there is nothing. God pity
me, there can be nothing. Whatever his great, true heart feels may be
known to me as surely as if he had spoken a thousand vows, but he would
not of his own accord so much as touch my hand or speak his love. He
knows that one in his station may not mate with a burgher girl. He
treats me as a true knight should treat a woman, and if he feels pain
because of the gulf between us, he would not bring a like pain to me. He
is a strong, noble man, Uncle Castleman, and we must save him."

"If I knew where to begin, I would try at once," said Castleman, "but I
do not know, and I cannot think of--"

"I have a plan," interrupted Yolanda, "that will set the matter going.
Consult my Lord d'Hymbercourt; he is a friend of Sir Karl's; he may help
us. Tell him of the trouble at the bridge, but say that Twonette, not
I, was there. If Lord d'Hymbercourt cannot help us, I'll try another way
if I die for it."

Castleman found Hymbercourt and told him the whole story, substituting
Twonette for Yolanda.

"It is the work of that accursed Basso," said Hymbercourt, stroking his
beard. "No villany is too black for him and his minions to do."

"But what have they done?" asked Castleman. "They surely would not
murder these men because of the quarrel at the bridge."

"They would do murder for half that cause," replied Hymbercourt. "A
brave man hates an assassin, and I am always wondering why the duke, who
is so bold and courageous, keeps this band of Italian cut-throats at
his court."

"What can we do to rescue our friends if they still live, or to avenge
them if dead?" asked Castleman.

"I do not know," answered Hymbercourt. "Let me think it all over, and I
will see you at your house to-night. Of this I am certain: you must not
move in the matter. If you are known to be interested, certain facts may
leak out that would ruin you and perhaps bring trouble to one who
already bears a burden too heavy for young shoulders. We know but one
useful fact: Calli and Campo-Basso are at the bottom of this evil. The
duke suspects that the states adjacent to Switzerland, including Styria,
will give aid to the Swiss in this war with Burgundy, and it may be
that Duke Charles has reasons for the arrest of our friends. He may have
learned that Sir Max is the Count of Hapsburg. I hope his finger is not
in the affair. I will learn what I can, and will see you to-night. Till
then, adieu."

True to his promise, Hymbercourt went to Castleman's that evening, but
he had learned nothing and had thought out no plan of action. Two days
passed and there was another consultation. Still the mystery was as far
from solution as on the day of its birth. Yolanda was in tribulation,
and declared that she would take the matter into her own hands. Her
uncle dissuaded her, however, and she reluctantly agreed to remain
silent for a day or two longer, but she vowed that she would give tongue
to her thoughts and arouse all Burgundy in behalf of Max and myself if
we were not soon discovered.



CHAPTER XI

PERONNE LA PUCELLE

The next morning Duke Charles went down to the great hall of the castle
to hear reports from his officers relating to the war that he was about
to wage against the Swiss. When the duke ascended the three steps of the
dais to the ducal throne, he spoke to Campo-Basso who stood upon the
first step at the duke's right.

"What news, my Lord Count?" asked Charles. "I'm told there is a
messenger from Ghent."

"Ill news, my lord," answered Campo-Basso.

"Out with it!" cried the duke. "One should always swallow a bitter
draught quickly."

"We hear the Swiss are gathering their cantons in great numbers," said
Campo-Basso.

"Let the sheep gather," said Charles, waving his hands. "The more they
gather to the fold, the more we'll shear." He laughed as if pleased with
the prospect, and continued, "Proceed, my Lord Count."

"The Duke of Lorraine is again trying to muster his subjects against
Your Grace, and sends a polite message asking and offering terms of
agreement. Shall I read the missive, my lord?"

"No!" cried the duke, "Curse his soft words. There is no bad news yet.
Proceed."

"It is rumored, Your Grace," continued the count, "that Frederick, Duke
of Styria, is preparing to aid the Swiss against Your Grace."

"With his advice?" asked the duke. "The old pauper has nothing else to
give, unless it be the bones of his ancestors."

"It is said, Your Highness, that Wuertemberg will also aid the Swiss, and
that Duke Albert will try to bring about a coalition of the German
states for the purpose of assisting the Swiss, aiding Lorraine, and
overthrowing Burgundy. This purpose, our informant tells us, has been
fostered by this same Duke Frederick of Styria."

"This news, I suppose, is intended for our ears by the Duke of Styria.
He probably wishes us to know that he is against us," said Charles. "He
wanted our daughter for his clown of a son, and our contempt for his
claims rankles in his heart. He cannot inflame Wuertemberg, and
Wuertemberg cannot influence the other German princes."

The duke paused, and Campo-Basso proceeded:--

"The citizens of Ghent, my lord, petition Your Grace for the restoration
of certain communal rights, and beg for the abolition of the hearth tax
and the salt levy. They also desire the right to elect their own
burgomaster and--"

"Give me the petition," demanded the duke. Campo-Basso handed the
parchment to Charles, and he tore it to shreds.

"Send these to the dogs of Ghent, and tell them that for every scrap of
parchment I'll take a score of heads when I return from Switzerland."

"We hear also, my lord," said the Italian, "that King Edward of England
is marshalling an army, presumably for the invasion of France and,
because of the close union that is soon to be between King Louis and
Burgundy, I have thought proper to lay the news before Your Grace."

"Edward wants more of King Louis' gold," answered Charles. "We'll let
him get it. We care not how much he has from this crafty miser of the
Seine. Louis will buy the English ministers, and the army will suddenly
vanish. When King Edward grows scarce of gold, he musters an army, or
pretends to do so, and Louis fills the English coffers. The French king
would buy an apostle, or the devil, and would sell his soul to either to
serve a purpose. Have you more in your budget, Sir Count?"

"I have delivered all, I believe, my lord," answered Campo-Basso.

"It might have been worse," said the duke, rising to quit his throne.

"One moment, my lord! There is another matter to which I wish to call
Your Grace's attention before you rise," said the count. "I have for
your signature the warrants for the execution of the Swiss spies, who,
Your Highness may remember, were entrapped and arrested by the
watchfulness of Your Grace's faithful servant, the noble Count Calli."

"Give me the warrant," said the duke, "and let the execution take place
at once."

Hymbercourt had been standing in the back part of the room, paying
little attention to the proceedings, but the mention of Calli's name in
connection with the Swiss spies quickly roused him, and he hurriedly
elbowed his way to the ducal throne. A page was handing Charles a quill
and an ink-well when Hymbercourt spoke:--

"My Lord Duke, I beg you not to sign the warrant until I have asked a
few questions of my Lord Campo-Basso concerning these alleged spies."

"Why do you say 'alleged spies,' my Lord d'Hymbercourt?" asked the duke.
"Do you know anything of them? Are they friends of yours?"

"If they are friends of mine, Your Grace may be sure they are not
spies," answered Hymbercourt. "I am not sure that I know these men, but
I fear a mistake has been made."

A soft cry, a mere exclamation, was heard behind the chancel in the
ladies' gallery, which was above the throne, a little to the right. But
it caused no comment other than a momentary turning of heads in that
direction.

"On what ground do you base your suspicion, my lord?" asked Charles.

"Little ground, Your Grace," answered Hymbercourt. "I may be entirely
wrong; but I beg the privilege of asking the noble Count Calli two or
three questions before Your Grace signs the death warrant. We may avert
a grave mistake and prevent a horrible crime."

"It is a waste of valuable time," answered Charles, "but if you will be
brief, you may proceed. Count Calli, come into presence."

Calli stepped forward and saluted the duke on bended knee.

"Your questions, Hymbercourt, and quickly," said Charles, testily. "We
are in haste. Time between the arrest and the hanging of a spy
is wasted."

"I thank you, my lord," said Hymbercourt. He then turned to Calli, and
asked, "When were these men arrested?"

"More than a fortnight ago," answered Calli.

"How came you to discover they were spies?" asked Hymbercourt.

"I watched them, and their actions were suspicious," replied the
Italian.

"In what respect were they suspicious?"

"They went abroad only at night, and one of them was seen near the
castle several evenings after dark," responded Calli.

"Is that your only evidence against them?" demanded Hymbercourt.

"It is surely enough," replied Calli, "but if more is wanted, they were
overheard to avow their guilt."

"What were they heard to say and where did they say it?" asked
Hymbercourt.

"I lay concealed, with six men-at-arms, near the river in the garden of
The Mitre Inn, where the spies had been bathing. We heard them speak
many words of treason against our gracious Lord Duke, but I did not move
in their arrest until the younger man said to his companion: 'I will
to-morrow gain entrance to the castle as a pedler and will stab this
Duke Charles to death. You remain near the Postern with the horses, and
I will try to escape to you. If the gate should be closed, ride away
without me and carry the news to the cantons. I would gladly give my
life to save the fatherland.'"

"Hang them," cried the duke. "We are wasting time."

"I pray your patience, my Lord Duke," said Hymbercourt, holding up his
hand protestingly. "I know these men whom Count Calli has falsely
accused. They are not spies; they are not Swiss; neither are they
enemies of Burgundy. Were they so, I, my lord, would demand their death
were they a thousand-fold my friends. I stake my life upon their
honesty. I offer my person and my estates as hostages for them, and
make myself their champion. Count Calli lies."

Hymbercourt's words caused a great commotion in the hall. Swords and
daggers sprang from the scabbards of the Italians, and cries of
indignation were uttered by the mercenaries, who saw their crime
exposed, and by the Burgundians, who hated the Italians and their
dastardly methods. Charles commanded silence, and Campo-Basso received
permission to speak.

"Since when did my Lord d'Hymbercourt turn traitor?" said he. "His
fealty has always been as loud-mouthed as the baying of a wolf."

"I am a Burgundian, my lord," said Hymbercourt, ignoring the Italian and
addressing Charles. "I receive no pay for my fealty. I am not a foreign
mercenary, and I need not defend my loyalty to one who knows me as he
knows his own heart."

"My Lord d'Hymbercourt's honor needs no defence," said Charles. "I trust
his honesty and loyalty as I trust myself. He may be mistaken; he may be
right. Bring in these spies."

"Surely Your Grace will not contaminate your presence with these
wretches," pleaded Campo-Basso. "Consider the danger to yourself, my
dear lord. They are desperate men, who would gladly give their lives to
take yours and save their country. I beg you out of the love I bear Your
Grace, pause before you bring these traitorous spies into your sacred
presence."

"Bring them before me!" cried the duke. "We will determine this matter
for ourselves. We have a score of brave, well-paid Italians who may be
able to protect our person from the onslaught of two manacled men."

       *       *       *       *       *

On this same morning the guard had been to my cell with bread and water,
and had departed. I did not know, of course, whether it was morning,
noon, or night, but I had learned to measure with some degree of
accuracy the lapse of time between the visits of the guard, and was
surprised to hear the rusty lock turn long before the time for his
reappearance. When the man entered my cell, bearing his lantern,
he said:--

"Come with me."

The words were both welcome and terrible. I could not know their
meaning--whether it was liberty or death. I stepped from the cell and,
while I waited for the guard to relock the door, I saw the light of a
lantern at the other end of a passageway. Two men with Max between them
came out of the darkness and stopped in front of me. Our wrists were
manacled behind us, and we could not touch hands. I could have wept for
joy and grief at seeing Max.

"Forgive me, Max, for bringing you to this," I cried.

"Forgive me, Karl. It is I who have brought you to these straits," said
Max. "Which is it to be, think you, Karl, liberty or death?"

"God only knows," I answered.

"For your sake, Karl, I hope He cares more than I. I would prefer death
to the black cell I have just left."

We went through many dark passageways and winding stairs to the audience
hall.

When we entered the hall, the courtiers fell back, leaving an aisle from
the great double doors to the ducal throne. When we approached the duke,
I bent my knee, but Max simply bowed.

"Kneel!" cried Campo-Basso, addressing Max.

"If my Lord of Burgundy demands that I kneel, I will do so, but it is
more meet that he should kneel to me for the outrage that has been put
upon me at his court," said Max, gazing unfalteringly into the
duke's face.

"Who are you?" demanded the duke, speaking to me.

"I am Sir Karl de Pitti," I replied. "Your Grace may know my family; we
are of Italy. It was once my good fortune to serve under your father and
yourself. My young friend is known as Sir Maximilian du Guelph."

"He is known as Guelph, but who is he?" demanded Charles.

"That question I may not answer, my lord," said I, speaking in the
Walloon tongue.

"You shall answer or die," returned the duke, angrily.

"I hope my Lord of Burgundy will not be so harsh with us," interrupted
Max, lifting his head and speaking boldly. "We have committed no crime,
and do not know why we have been arrested. We beg that we may be told
the charge against us, and we would also know who makes the charge."

"Count Calli," said the duke, beckoning that worthy knight, "come
forward and speak."

Calli came forward, knelt to the duke, and said:

"I, my lord, charge these unknown men as being Swiss spies and
assassins, who seek to murder Your Grace and to betray Burgundy."

"You lie, you dog," cried Max, looking like an angry young god. "You lie
in your teeth and in your heart. My Lord of Burgundy, I demand the
combat against this man who seeks my life by treachery and falsehood. I
waive my rank for the sweet privilege of killing this liar."

"My Lord Duke," I exclaimed, interrupting Max, "if my Lord d'Hymbercourt
is in presence, I beg that I may have speech with him."

Hymbercourt stepped to my side, and the duke signified permission to
speak.

"My Lord d'Hymbercourt," said I, turning to my friend, "I beg you to
tell His Grace that we are not spies. I may not, for reasons well known
to you, give you permission to inform His Grace who my young companion
is, and I hope my Lord of Burgundy will be satisfied with your assurance
that we are honest knights who wish only good to this land and its
puissant ruler."

"Indeed, my Lord Duke, I was right," answered Hymbercourt. "Again I
offer my person and my estates as hostages for these men. They are not
spies. They are not of Switzerland, nor are they friends to the Swiss;
neither are they enemies of Burgundy. I doubt not they will gladly join
Your Lordship in this war against the cantons. These knights have been
arrested to gratify revenge for personal injury received and deserved by
this traitorous Count Calli."

"It is false," cried Campo-Basso.

"It is true--pitifully true, my lord," returned Hymbercourt. "This young
knight was at the moat bridge near Castleman's House under the Wall
talking with a burgher maid, Fraeulein Castleman. Count Calli stole upon
them without warning and insulted the maiden. My young friend knocked
down the ruffian, and, in the conflict that ensued, broke Calli's arm.
Your Grace may have seen him carrying it in a sling until within the
last forty-eight hours.

"For this deserved chastisement Count Calli seeks the young man's life
by bearing false witness against him; and with it that of my old friend,
Sir Karl de Pitti. It is Burgundy's shame, my lord, that these
treacherous mercenaries should be allowed to murder strangers and to
outrage Your Grace's loyal subjects in the name of Your Lordship's
justice. Sir Maximilian du Guelph has demanded the combat against this
Count Calli. Sir Maximilian is a spurred and belted knight, and under
the laws of chivalry even Your Grace may not gainsay him."

"My lord, I do not fight assassins and spies," said Calli, addressing
the duke.

"I do," cried Max, "when they put injuries upon me as this false coward
has done. I will prove upon his body, my Lord Duke, who is the assassin
and the spy. My Lord d'Hymbercourt will vouch that my rank entitles me
to fight in knightly combat with any man in this presence. My wrists are
manacled, my lord, and I have no gage to throw before this false knight;
but, my Lord of Burgundy, I again demand the combat. One brave as Your
Grace is must also be just. We shall leave Count Calli no excuse to
avoid this combat, even if I must tell Your Grace my true rank
and station."

"This knight," said Hymbercourt, addressing Charles and extending his
hand toward Max, "is of birth entitling him to meet in the lists any
knight in Burgundy, and I will gladly stand his sponsor."

"My Lord d'Hymbercourt's sponsorship proves any man," said the duke,
who well knew that Campo-Basso and his friends would commit any crime to
avenge an injury, fancied or real.

"My Lord Duke, I pray your patience," said Campo-Basso, obsequiously.
"No man may impugn my Lord d'Hymbercourt's honesty, but may he not be
mistaken? In the face of the evidence against this man, may he not be
mistaken? The six men who were with Count Calli will testify to the
treasonable words spoken by this young spy."

"Does any other man in presence know these men?" asked the duke. No one
responded.

After a little time Hymbercourt broke silence.

"I am grieved and deeply hurt, my lord, that you should want other
evidence than mine against the witnesses who make this charge. I am a
Burgundian. These witnesses are Italians who love Your Grace for the
sake of the gold they get. I had hoped that my poor services had earned
for me the right to be believed, but if I may have a little time, I will
procure another man whose word shall be to you as the word of
your father."

"Bring him into our presence," answered the duke. "We will see him
to-morrow at this hour."

"May I not crave Your Grace's indulgence for a half-hour?" pleaded
Hymbercourt. "I will have this man here within that time."

"Not another minute," replied the duke. "Heralds, cry the rising."

"Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! His Grace, the Duke of Burgundy, is about to rise.
His Grace has risen," cried the herald.

The duke left the hall by a small door near the dais.

Hymbercourt was standing beside us when the captain of the guard
approached to lead us back to our cells.

"May we not have comfortable quarters, and may we not be placed in one
cell?" I asked, appealing to Hymbercourt. "I have been confined in a
reeking, rayless dungeon unfit for swine, and doubtless Sir Max has been
similarly outraged."

Hymbercourt put his hand into his pouch and drew forth two gold pieces.
These he stealthily placed in the captain's hand, and that worthy
official said:--

"I shall be glad to oblige, my lord."

Hymbercourt left us, and Campo-Basso, beckoning the captain to one side,
spoke to him in low tones. The captain, I was glad to see, was a
Burgundian.

After we left the hall we were taken to our old quarters. The captain
followed me into the cell, leaving his men in the passageway.

"My Lord Count ordered me to bring you here," he said; "but I will, if I
can, soon return with other men who are not Italians and will remove
you to a place of safety."

"Am I not safe here? Is my friend in danger?" I asked.

The man smiled as though amused at my simplicity:--

"If you remain here to-night, there will be no need to hang you in the
morning. Our Italian friends have methods of their own that are simple
and sure. But I will try to find a way to remove you before--before the
Italians have time to do their work. I will see my Lord d'Hymbercourt,
and if the duke has not gone a-hunting, we will induce His Grace to
order your removal to a place of safety."

"But if the duke is gone, cannot you get the order when he returns?" I
asked.

"That will be too late, I fear," he answered, laughing, and with these
comforting remarks he left me.

After two or three hours--the time seemed days--I heard a key enter the
lock of my cell door. If the hand inserting the key was that of an
Italian, I might look for death. To my great joy the man was my
Burgundian captain.

"The duke had gone a-hunting," he said, "and I could not find my Lord
d'Hymbercourt; but Her Highness, the princess, asked me to remove you,
and I am willing to risk my neck for her sweet sake. I am to place you
in one of the tower rooms, out of the reach of our Italian cut-throats."

"Will my young friend be with me?" I asked eagerly.

"Yes," responded the captain.

Again I met Max with a man-at-arms in the passageway outside my cell
door, and we all went up the steps together. We were hurried through
dark passages to a spiral stairway, which we climbed till my knees
ached. But we were going up instead of down, and I was overjoyed to have
the aching leave my heart for my knees.

The room in which the Burgundian left us was large and clean. There were
two beds of sweet straw upon the floor, and to my unspeakable joy there
was a bar on the door whereby it could be locked from within. There were
also two tubs of water for a bath. On a rude bench was a complete change
of clothing which had been brought by some kind hand from the inn. On an
oak table were two bottles of wine, a bowl of honey, a cellar of pepper,
white bread, cold meat, and pastry. A soul reaching heaven out of
purgatory must feel as we felt then. We were too excited to eat, so we
bathed, dressed, and lay down on the straw beds.

Before leaving us our captain had said:--

"Do not unbolt your door except to the password 'Burgundy.'"

We slept till late in the afternoon. When we wakened the sun was well
down in the west, and we could see only its reflected glare in the
eastern sky. There was but one opening in the room through which the
light could enter--a narrow window, less than a foot wide. The light in
the room was dim even at noon, but the long darkness had so affected our
eyes that the light from the window was sufficient to illumine the
apartment and to make all objects plainly discernible. There was little
to be seen. The arched roof was of solid masonry; the walls were without
a break save the narrow window and the door. Through the window we could
see only a patch of sky in the east, reddened by the reflection of the
sinking sun; but the sight was so beautiful that Max and I were loath to
leave it even for supper.

"We must eat before the light dies," said Max, whose young stomach was
more imperious than mine, "or we shall have to eat in the dark. I have
had more than enough of that."

"Fall to," I said, as we drew the stools to the table. With the first
mouthful of clean, delicious food my appetite returned, and I ate
ravenously. Had the repast been larger I believe we should have killed
ourselves. Fortunately it was consumed before we were exhausted, and we
came off alive and victorious. After supper darkness fell, and Max sat
beside me on the bench. He was very happy, for he felt that our troubles
would end with the night. I put my arm over his neck and begged him to
forgive me for bringing this evil upon him.

"You shall not blame yourself, Karl," he protested. "There is no fault
in you. No one is to blame save myself; I should not have gone to the
bridge. I wonder what poor Yolanda is doing. Perhaps she is suffering in
fear and is ignorant of our misfortune. Perhaps she thinks I have broken
my promise and left Peronne. I can see her stamp her little foot, and I
see her great eyes flashing in anger. Each new humor in her seems more
beautiful than the last, Karl. Knowing her, I seem to have known all
mankind--at least, all womankind. She has wakened me to life. Her touch
has unsealed my eyes, and the pain that I take from my love for her is
like a foretaste of heaven. I believe that a man comes to his full
strength, mental and moral, only through the elixir of pain."

"We surely have had our share of late," I said dolefully.

"All will soon be well with us, Karl; do not fear. We shall be free
to-morrow, and I will kill this Calli. Then I'll go back to Styria a
better, wiser, stronger man than I could ever have been had I remained
at home. This last terrible experience has been the keystone of my
regeneration. It has taught me to be merciful even to the guilty, and
gentle with the accused. No man shall ever suffer at my command until he
has been proved guilty. Doubtless thousands of innocent men as free from
crime and evil intent as we, are wasting their lives away in dungeons as
loathsome as those that imprisoned us."

"Calli will not fight you," I said.

"If he refuses, I will kill him at the steps of the throne of Burgundy,
let the result be what it may. God will protect me in my just vengeance.
I will then go home; and I'll not return to Burgundy till I do so at the
head of an army, to compel Duke Charles to behead Campo-Basso."

"What will you do about Yolanda, Max?" I asked.

The interference of the princess in our behalf had thrown more light on
my important riddle, and once again I was convinced that she
was Yolanda.

"I'll keep her in my heart till I die, Karl," he responded, "and I pray
God to give her a happier life than mine can be. That is all I can do."

"Will you see her before you go?" I asked, fully intending that there
should be no doubt on the question.

"Yes, and then--" He paused; and, after a little time, I asked:--

"And what then, Max?"

"God only knows what, Karl. I'm sure I don't," he answered.

We talked till late into the night, lay down on our soft, clean beds of
straw, and were soon asleep.

I did not know how long I had been sleeping when I was wakened by a
voice that seemed to fill the room, low, soft, and musical as the tones
of an Aeolian harp. I groped my way noiselessly in the dark to Max's bed
and aroused him. Placing my hand over his mouth to insure silence, I
whispered:--

"Listen!"

He rested on his elbow, and we waited. After a few seconds the voice
again resounded through the room, soft as a murmured ave, distinct as
the notes of a bird. Max clutched my hand. Soon the voice came again,
and we heard the words:--

"Little Max, do you hear? Answer softly."

"I hear," responded Max.

There was an uncanny note in the music of the voice. It seemed almost
celestial. We could not tell whence it came. Every stone in the walls
and ceiling, every slab in the floor seemed resonant with silvery tones.
After Max had answered there was a pause lasting two or three minutes,
and the voice spoke again:--

"I love you, Little Max. I tell you because I wish to comfort you. Do
not fear. You shall be free to-morrow. Do not answer. Adieu."

"Yolanda! Yolanda!" cried Max, pleadingly; but he received no answer. He
put his hand on my shoulder and said:--

"It was Yolanda, Karl--ah, God must hate a child that He brings into
the world a prince."

For the rest of the night we did not sleep, neither did we speak. The
morrow was to be a day of frightful import to us, and we awaited it in
great anxiety.

When the morning broke and the sun shot his rays through the narrow
window, we carefully examined the floor and walls of our room, but we
found no opening through which the voice could have penetrated. In the
side of the room formed by the wall of the tower, the mortar had fallen
from between two stones, leaving one of them somewhat loose, but the
castle wall at that point was fully sixteen feet thick, and it was
impossible that the voice should have come through the layers of stone.

From my first acquaintance with Yolanda there had seemed to be a
supernatural element in her nature, an elfin quality in her face and
manner that could not be described. Max had often told me that she
impressed him in like manner. The voice in our stone-girt chamber,
coming as it did from nowhere, and resounding as it did everywhere,
intensified that feeling till it was almost a conviction, though I am
slow to accept supernatural explanations--a natural one usually exists.
Of course, there are rare instances of supernatural power vested in men
and women, and Yolanda's great, burning eyes caused me at times, almost
to believe that she was favored with it.

The voice that we had heard was unquestionably Yolanda's, but by what
strange power it was enabled to penetrate our rock-ribbed prison and
give tongues to the cold stones I could not guess, though I could not
stop trying. Here was another riddle set by this marvellous girl for my
solving. This riddle, however, helped to solve the first, and confirmed
my belief that Yolanda was Mary of Burgundy.

After breakfast Max and I were taken to the great hall, where we found
Castleman standing before the ducal throne, speaking to Charles. The
burgher turned toward us, and as we approached I heard him say:--

"My lord, these men are not spies."

"Who are they?" demanded the duke.

Castleman gave our names and told the story of our meeting at Basel,
after we had escorted Merchant Franz from Cannstadt. Then he narrated
Max's adventure at the moat bridge, closing with:--

"Count Calli grossly insulted Fraeulein Castleman, for which Sir Max
chastised him; and no doubt, my lord, this arrest has been made
for revenge."

"Has the younger man name or title other than you have given?" asked
Charles.

The burgher hesitated before he answered:--

"He has, my lord, though I may not disclose it to Your Grace without his
permission, unless you order me so to do upon my fealty. That I humbly
beg Your Grace not to do."

"I beg Your Grace not to ask me to disclose my identity at this time,"
said Max. "I am willing, should you insist upon knowing who I am, to
tell it privately in Your Grace's ear; but I am travelling incognito
with my friend, Sir Karl de Pitti, and I beg that I may remain so. My
estate is neither very great nor very small, but what it is I desire for
many reasons not to divulge. These reasons in no way touch Burgundy, and
I am sure Your Grace will not wish to intrude upon them. Within a month,
perhaps within a few days, I will enlighten you. If you will permit me
to remain in Peronne, I will communicate my reasons to you personally;
if I leave, I will write to Your Grace. I give my parole that I will,
within a month, surrender myself to Your Lordship, if you are not
satisfied, upon hearing my explanations, that my word is that of an
honorable knight, and my station one worthy of Your Grace's respect. I
hope my Lord d'Hymbercourt and my good friend Castleman will stand as
hostages for me in making this pledge."

Both men eagerly offered their persons and their estates as hostages,
and the duke, turning to the captain of the guard, said:--

"Remove the manacles from these knights."

The chains were removed, and the duke, coming down to the last step of
the dais, looked into Max's face.

Max calmly returned the fierce gaze without so much as the faltering of
an eyelid.

"All step back save this young man," ordered the duke, extending his
open palm toward the courtiers.

We all fell away, but the duke said:--

"Farther back, farther back, I say! Don't crowd in like a pack of yokels
at a street fight!"

Charles was acting under great excitement. I was not sure that it was
not anger since his mien looked much like it. I did not know what was
going to happen, and was in an agony of suspense. Anything was possible
with this brutish duke when his brain was crazed with passion.

All who had been near the ducal throne moved back, till no one was
within ten yards of Charles save Max. The duke wore a dagger and a shirt
of mail; Max wore neither arms nor armor. After the courtiers stepped
back from the throne a deep, expectant hush fell upon the room. No one
could guess the intentions of this fierce, cruel duke, and I was
terribly apprehensive for Max's safety. Had Max been armed, I should
have had no fear for him at the hands of the duke or any other man.

Charles stepped from the dais to the floor beside Max, still gazing
fixedly into his face. The men were within four feet of each other. The
silence in the room was broken only by the heavy breathing of excited
courtiers. The duke's voice sounded loud and harsh when he spoke to Max,
and his breath came in hoarse gusts:--

"You are accused, Sir Knight, by credible witnesses of intent to murder
me. For such a crime it is my privilege to kill you here and now with my
own hand. What have you to say?"

Charles paused for a reply, drawing his dagger from its sheath. When Max
saw the naked weapon, I noticed that he gave a start, though it was
almost imperceptible. He at once recovered himself, and straightening to
his full height, stepped to within two feet of the duke.

"If I plotted or intended to kill you, my lord," said Max, less moved
than any other man in the room, "it is your right to kill me; but even
were I guilty I doubt if my Lord of Burgundy, who is noted the world
over for his bravery, would strike an unarmed man. If Your Grace wished
to attack me, you would give me arms equal to your own. If you should
kill me, unarmed as I am, you would be more pitiable than any other man
in Burgundy. You would despise yourself, and all mankind would
spurn you."

"Do you not fear me?" asked the duke, still clutching the hilt of his
unsheathed dagger.

"I do not believe you have the least intent to kill me," answered Max,
"but if you have, you may easily do so, and I shall be less to be
pitied than you. No, I do not fear you! Do I look it, my lord?"

"No, by God, you don't look it. Neither have you cause to fear me," said
Charles. "There is not another man in Christendom could have stood this
ordeal without flinching."

To a brave man, bravery is above all the cardinal virtue. Charles turned
toward his courtiers and continued:--

"There is one man who does not fear me--man, say I? He is little more
than a boy. Men of Burgundy, take a lesson from this youth, and bear it
in mind when we go to war."

The duke began to unbuckle his shirt of mail, speaking as he did so:--

"I'll soon learn who has lied. I'll show this boy that I am as brave as
he."

Charles turned to Calli.

"Sir Count, did you not say this knight wished to kill me, even at the
cost of his own life?"

"I so said, my lord, and so maintain upon my honor as a knight and upon
my hope of salvation as a Christian. I so heard him avow,"
answered Calli.

"I will quickly prove or disprove your words, Sir Count," said the duke,
removing his mail shirt and throwing it to the floor. Then he turned to
Max and offered him the hilt of his dagger: "If you would purchase my
death at the cost of your life, here is my dagger, and you may easily
make the barter. I am unarmed. One blow from that great arm of yours
will end all prospects of war with your Switzerland."

Max hesitatingly took the dagger and looked with a puzzled expression
from it to the duke's face. Campo-Basso and his Italian friends moved
toward their lord as if to protect him, but Charles waved them back with
a protesting palm.

"Switzerland is not my native land, Your Grace, nor do I seek your life.
Take your dagger," said Max.

"I offer you better terms," said Charles. "If you wish to kill me, I now
give you safe conduct beyond the borders of Burgundy."

"My lord, you are mistaken," said Max, impatiently, tossing the dagger
to the floor and stepping back from the duke. A soft ripple of laughter
was heard in the ladies' gallery.

"No, it is not I that am mistaken," said Charles. "It is Campo-Basso and
his friends. Count Calli, prepare to give the combat to this knight,
whoever he may be, and God have mercy on your soul, for the day of your
death is at hand."

Another ripple of soft laughter came from the ladies' gallery.

"I cannot fight him," wailed Calli. "I am suffering from a broken arm.
My horse fell with me three weeks ago, as Your Grace well knows."

"When your arm mends, you must fight and prove your cause, or by the
soul of God, you hang! We'll make a fete of this combat, and another of
your funeral. There shall be a thousand candles, and masses sufficient
to save the soul of Satan himself. My Lord Campo-Basso, let not the like
of this happen again. Vengeance in Burgundy is mine, not my Italians'.
Heralds, dismiss the company. These men are free."

All departed save Castleman, Hymbercourt, Max, and myself, who remained
at the duke's request.

"If you will remain at the castle, you are most welcome," said Charles,
addressing Max and me.

I would have jumped at the offer, but Max thanked the duke and declined.

"We will, with Your Grace's permission, remain at Grote's inn for a
short time and then ask leave to depart from Burgundy."

The duke answered:--

"As you will. I do not press you. If you change your mind, come to the
castle, and you will be very welcome."

He turned and, with brief adieu, left the great-hall by the small door
near the dais. Castleman, Hymbercourt, and Max passed out through the
great doors, and I was about to follow them when I was startled by the
voice I had heard in the night:--

"Little Max, Little Max," came softly from the ladies' gallery.

I paused to hear more, but all was silent in the great hall. The words
could have come from no other lips than Yolanda's--Mary's. True, I
reasoned, Yolanda might be one of the ladies of the court, perhaps a
near relative of the duke. Once the horrifying thought that he was her
lover came to my mind, but it fled instantly. There was no evil
in Yolanda.

Max did not hear the voice. I intended to tell him of it when we should
reach the inn, and I thought to tell him also that I believed Yolanda
was the Princess Mary. I changed my mind, however, and again had reason
to be thankful for my silence.



CHAPTER XII

A LIVE WREN PIE

The next day came the invitation to sup at Castleman's, and we were on
hand promptly at the appointed time--four o'clock. Before leaving the
inn I had determined to ask Castleman to satisfy my curiosity concerning
Yolanda. With good reason I felt that it was my duty and my right to
know certainly who she was. She might not be Mary of Burgundy, but she
surely was not a burgher girl, and in some manner she was connected with
the court of Duke Charles.

Max and I were sitting in the long room (it was on the ground floor and
extended across the entire front of the house) with Castleman when Frau
Kate entered followed by Yolanda and Twonette. The frau courtesied, and
gave us welcome. Twonette courtesied and stepped to her father's side.
Yolanda gave Max her hand and lifted it to be kissed. The girl laughed
joyously, and, giving him her other hand, stood looking up into his
face. Her laughter soon became nervous, and that change in a womanly
woman is apt to be the forerunner of tears. They soon came to moisten
Yolanda's eyes, but she kept herself well in hand and said:--

"It has been a very long time, Sir Max, since last I saw you."

"A hard, cruel time for me, Fraeulein. Your hot-headed duke gives strange
license to his murderous courtiers," answered Max.

"It has been a hard time for others, too," she responded. "Hard for
uncle, hard for tante, hard for Twonette--very hard for Twonette." She
spoke jestingly, but one might easily see her emotion.

"And you, Fraeulein?" he asked smilingly.

"I--I dare not say how hard it has been for me, Little Max. Do you not
see? I fear--I fear I shall--weep--if I try to tell you. I am almost
weeping now. I fear I have grown gray because of it," she answered,
closing with a nervous laugh. Max, too, could hardly speak. She smiled
up into his face, and bending before him stood on tiptoe to bring the
top of her head under his inspection.

"You may see the white hairs if you look carefully," she said.

Max laughed and stooped to examine the great bush of fluffy dark hair.

"I see not one white hair," he said.

"Look closely," she insisted.

He looked closely, and startled us all, including Yolanda, by putting
his lips to the fragrant, silky mass.

"Ah!" exclaimed Yolanda, stepping back from him and placing her hand to
the top of her head on the spot that he had kissed. She looked up to him
with a fluttering little laugh:--

"I--I did not know you were going to do that."

"Neither did I," said Max.

Castleman and his wife looked displeased and Twonette's face wore an
expression of amused surprise.

After a constrained pause Frau Katherine said:--

"Our guests are not in the habit of kissing us."

"No one has kissed you, tante," retorted Yolanda, "nor do they intend to
do so. Do not fear. I--I brought it on myself, and if I do not complain,
you may bear up under it."

"It certainly is unusual to--" began the frau.

"Tante," cried Yolanda, flushing angrily and stamping her foot. Tante
was silent.

"Your words night before last brought marvellous comfort to us,
Fraeulein," said Max. "Where were you, and how--"

"My words? Night before last?" asked Yolanda, in open-eyed wonder, "I
have not seen you since three weeks ago."

"You called to me in my prison in the tower," said Max. "You called to
me by the name you sometimes use."

"Ah, that is wonderful," exclaimed Yolanda. "I wakened myself night
before last calling your name, and telling you not to fear. I was
dreaming that you were in danger, but I also dreamed that you would soon
be free. Can it be possible that the voice of a dreamer can travel to a
distance and penetrate stone walls? You almost make me fear myself by
telling me that you heard my call."

Like most persons, Max loved the mysterious, so he at once became
greatly interested. He would have discussed the subject further had not
Yolanda turned to me, saying:--

"Ah, I have not greeted Sir Karl."

She gave me her hand, and I would have knelt had she not prevented me by
a surprised arching of her eyebrows. My attempt to salute her on my knee
was involuntary, but when I saw the warning expression in her eyes, I
quickly recovered myself. I bowed and she withdrew her hand.

"Let us go to the garden," she suggested.

The others left the room, but Yolanda held back and detained me by a
gesture.

"You would have knelt to me," she said almost angrily.

"Yes, mademoiselle," I replied, "the movement was involuntary."

"I once warned you, Sir Karl, not to try to learn anything concerning
me. I told you that useless knowledge was dangerous. You have been
guessing, and probably are very far wrong in your conclusion. But
whatever your surmises are, don't let me know them. Above all, say
nothing to Sir Max; I warn you! Unless you would see no more of me, bear
this warning in mind. Yolanda is a burgher girl. Treat her accordingly,
and impress the fact on Sir Max. Were I as great as the ill-tempered
Princess of Burgundy, whose estates you came to woo, I should still
despise adulation. Bah! I hate it all," she continued, stamping her
foot. "I hate princes and princesses, and do not understand how they can
endure to have men kneel and grovel before them. This fine Princess of
Burgundy, I am told, looks--" She paused and then went on: "I sometimes
hate her most of all. I am a burgher girl, I tell you, and I am proud of
it. I warn you not to make me other."

"Your warning, my lady, is--"

"Fraeulein!" interrupted Yolanda, angrily stamping her foot, "or
Yolanda--call me either. If I give you the privilege, you should value
it sufficiently to use it."

"Yolanda, I will sin no more," I responded. Her face broke into a smile,
and she took my arm, laughing contentedly.

I walked out to the garden--Yolanda danced out--and we sat with the
others under the shade of the arbor vines. Castleman and Max drank
sparingly of wine and honey, while I sipped orange water with Yolanda,
Twonette, and Frau Kate.

"What do you think of Burgundy, Sir Max?" asked the burgher.

"I like Grote's inn well," answered Max. "I like the castle dungeon ill.
I have seen little else of Burgundy save in our journey down the Somme.
Then I saw nothing but the road on the opposite bank. Had I tried to see
the country I should have failed; the dust-cloud we carried with us was
impenetrable." He turned to Yolanda, "That was a hard journey for you,
Fraeulein."

"No, no," she cried, "it was glorious. The excitement was worth a
lifetime of monotony; it was delightful. I could feel my heart beat all
the time, and no woman is sure she lives until she feels the beating of
her heart."

I suspected a double meaning in her words, but no trace of
self-consciousness was visible in her face.

"I have often wondered, Fraeulein, if the papers reached the castle
before the duke arrived?" asked Max.

"What papers?" queried Yolanda.

"Why, the papers we made the mad race to deliver," answered Max.

"Oh, y-e-s," responded the girl, "they arrived just in time."

"And were delivered at the gate?" I suggested.

A quick, angry glance of surprise shot from Yolanda's eyes, and rising
from her chair she entered the house. Twonette followed her, and the two
did not return for an hour. I was accumulating evidence on the subject
of my puzzling riddle, but I feared my last batch might prove expensive.
I saw the mistake my tongue had led me into. Many a man has wrecked his
fortune by airing his wit.

When Yolanda returned, she sat at a little distance from us, pouting
beautifully. The cause of her unmistakable ill-humor, of course, was
known only to me, and was a source of wonder to Max. At the end of five
minutes, during which there had been little conversation, Max, who was
amused at Yolanda's pouting, turned to her, and said:--

"The Fates owe me a few smiles as compensation for their frowns during
the last three weeks. Won't you help them to pay me, Fraeulein?"

Her face had been averted, but when Max spoke she turned slowly and gave
him the smile he desired as if to say, "I am not pouting at you."

Her act was so childlike and her face so childishly beautiful that we
all smiled with amusement and pleasure. Yolanda saw the smiles and
turned on us, pouting though almost ready to laugh. She rose from her
chair, stamped her foot, stood irresolutely for a moment, and then
breaking into a laugh, drew her chair to our little circle--next to
Max--and sat down.

"Tante, is supper never to be served?" she asked. "I am impatient to see
the live wren pie."

"Live wren pie?" asked Max, incredulously.

"Yes. Have you never seen one?" asked Yolanda.

"Surely not," he replied.

"Ah, you have a treat in store," she exclaimed, clapping her hands
enthusiastically. "Uncle carves the pie, the wrens fly out, you open
your mouth, and the birds, being very small, fly down your throat and
save you the trouble eating them. They are trained to do it, you know."

A chorus of laughter followed this remarkable statement. Max leaned
forward, rested his elbows on his knees, looked at the ground for the
space of half a minute, and said:--

"I was mistaken in saying that I had never partaken of the dish. While
at Basel I foolishly opened my mouth, and a beautiful little bird flew
down my throat to my heart."

Frau Castleman coughed, and the burgher moved in his chair and swallowed
half a goblet of wine. Twonette laughed outright at the pretty turn Max
had made upon Yolanda, and I ridiculously tried to keep my face
expressionless. Yolanda laughed flutteringly, and the long lashes fell.

"That was prettily spoken, Sir Max," she said, smiling. "No Frenchman
could improve upon it. You are constantly surprising me."

"Are Frenchmen apt at such matters, Fraeulein?" I asked.

"I have known but few Frenchmen," she responded. "You know Burgundy and
France are natural enemies, like the cat and the dog. I have little love
for the French. I speak only from hearsay."

"You will do well to learn to like them," I suggested. "Burgundy itself
will soon be French, if the Princess Mary weds the Dauphin."

By speaking freely of the princess, I hoped Yolanda might believe that,
whatever my surmises were concerning her identity, I did not suspect
that she was Mademoiselle de Burgundy.

Yolanda sighed, but did not answer. Silence fell upon our little party,
and after a long pause I turned to Twonette:--

"I remember that Franz told me at Basel, Fraeulein Twonette, that you and
this famous Princess Mary of Burgundy were friends."

"Yes," answered Twonette, with an effort not to smile, "she has, at
times, honored me with her notice."

"Out of that fact grows Twonette's serene dignity," laughed Yolanda. "On
the strength of this acquaintance she quite lords it over us at times,
and is always reminding me of the many haughty virtues of her friend as
a pattern that I should follow. You see, I am incessantly confronted
with this princess."

I thought it was a pretty piece of acting, though the emphasis of her
dislike for the princess was unmistakably genuine.

"The duke has graciously invited us to the castle," I said, "and I hope
to have the honor of seeing the princess."

When I spoke of the duke's invitation, I at once caught Yolanda's
attention.

"You will not meet the princess if you go to the castle," said Yolanda.
"She is an ill-natured person, I am told, and is far from gracious to
strangers."

"I do not hope for such an honor," I replied. "I should like merely to
see her before I leave Burgundy. That is all the favor I ask at her
hands. She is a lady famed throughout all Europe for her beauty and her
gentleness."

"She doesn't merit her fame," responded Yolanda, carefully examining her
hands folded in her lap, and glancing nervously toward Max.

"Do you know Her Highness?" I asked.

"I--I have heard enough of her and have often seen her," she replied.
"She usually rides out with her ladies at this hour. From the upper end
of the garden you may soon see her come through the Postern gate, if you
care to watch."

"I certainly should like to see her," I answered, rapidly losing faith
in my conclusion that Yolanda was the princess.

The Castlemans did not offer to move, but Yolanda, springing to her
feet, said, "Come," and led the way.

The upper end of the garden, as I have told you, was on the banks of the
Cologne at a point where it flowed into the castle moat. The castle
wall, sixty feet high at that point, bordered the west side of the
garden. The moat curved along the right side, and the river flowed past
the upper end. Castleman's house faced south, and stood on the lower end
of the strip of ground that lay between the castle wall and the moat.
The Postern was perhaps three hundred yards north from the upper end of
Castleman's garden. Since it was on the opposite side of the river, one
could reach the Postern, from Castleman's house, only by going up to the
town bridge and back to the castle by the street that followed the north
side of the Cologne.

We all walked to the upper end of the garden, and stood leaning against
the low stone wall at the river's edge. We had waited perhaps ten
minutes when we heard a blare of trumpets and saw a small cavalcade of
ladies and gentlemen ride from the castle and pass over the drawbridge.

"The lady in scarlet is the duchess," said Castleman.

"She is English," remarked Yolanda, "and loves bright colors."

"Which is the princess?" I asked of Yolanda, feeling that I also was
acting my part admirably. To my surprise she answered promptly:--

"She in blue with a falcon on her shoulder. Am I not right, uncle?"

"Yes," responded Castleman. Twonette confirmed the statement.

My air-castles fell noiselessly about my head. My dreams vanished like
breath from a cold mirror, and the sphinx-like face of my great riddle
rose before me in defiance.

After the cavalcade had passed I found myself with Yolanda a dozen paces
from the others.

"Fraeulein," I said, "I want to confess I thought you were the Princess
Mary of Burgundy."

Yolanda laughed softly.

"I was sure you had some such absurd notion. I supposed you had seen
her, and had believed she was Yolanda, the burgher girl; that mistake
has often been made. You may see this princess at the castle, and I warn
you not to be deceived. I have the great honor, it is said, to resemble
Her Highness as one pea resembles another. I have been told that she has
heard of the low-born maiden that dares to have a face like hers, and
she doubtless hates me for it, just as I bear her no good-will for the
same reason. When two women greatly resemble each other, there is
seldom good feeling between them. Each believes the other is stealing
something of her personality, and a woman's vanity prompts her to resent
it. If you make the mistake with the princess that you made with me, I
warn you it will not be so easily corrected."

My poor riddle! My stony sphinx! My clinging hallucination! Again I
should have it with me, stalking at my side by day, lying by me at
night, whirling through my brain at all times, and driving me mad with
its eternal question, "Who is Yolanda?" The solution of my riddle may be
clear to you as I am telling you the story. At least, you may think it
is, since I am trying to conceal nothing from you. I relate this history
in the order of its happening, and wish, if possible, to place before
you the manner in which this question of Yolanda's identity puzzled me.
If you will put yourself in my place, you will at once realize how
deeply I was affected by this momentous, unanswered, unanswerable
question, "Who is Yolanda?" and you will understand why I could not see
the solution, however clear you may believe it to be to yourself.

We soon went in to supper and, after the peacock, the pheasants, and the
pastries were removed, we were served with a most delicious after-dish
in sparkling glass cups. It was frozen orange-water mixed with wine of
Burgundy. I had never tasted a dish so palatable. I had dined at the
emperor's table in Vienna; I had lived in Italy; I had sojourned in the
East, where luxuries are most valued and used, but I had never partaken
of a more delicious supper than that which I ate at the house of my rich
burgher friend, George Castleman. There might have been a greater
showing of plate, though that was not lacking, but there could have been
no whiter linen nor more appetizing dishes than those which good Frau
Kate gave us that evening.

After the frozen wine had disappeared, a serving-maid brought in a
stoneware pan covered with a snowy pastry, made from the whites of eggs
and clear sugar. At its entry Yolanda clapped her hands and cried out
with childish delight. When the pan was placed before Castleman, she
exclaimed:--

"Be careful, uncle! Don't thrust the knife too deep, or you will kill
the birds."

Uncle Castleman ran the point of the knife around the outer edge of the
crust, and, with a twist of the blade, quickly lifted it from the pan,
when out flew a dozen or more wrens. Yolanda's delight knew no bounds.
She sprang from her chair, exclaiming:--

"Catch them! Catch them!" and led the way.

She climbed on chairs, tables, and window shelves, and soon had her
hands full of the demure little songsters. Max, too, was pursuing the
wrens, and Twonette, losing part of her serenity, actually caught a
bird. The sport was infectious, and soon fat old Castleman was puffing
like a tired porpoise, and sedate old Karl de Pitti was in the chase.
Frau Katherine grabbed desperately at a bird now and then, but she was
too stout to catch one and soon took her chair, laughing and out of
breath. Yolanda screamed with laughter, and after she had caught six or
seven birds and put them in the cage provided for them, she asked Max to
lift her in his arms that she might reach one resting on a beam near the
ceiling. Max gladly complied, and Yolanda, having caught the
bird, said:--

"Now, Sir Max, open your mouth."

"I have already swallowed one," said Max, laughing, "and I will swallow
none other so long as I live."

As Max lowered her to the floor her arm fell about his neck for an
instant, and the great strong boy trembled at the touch of this
weak girl.

Out to the garden we went again after supper, and when dusk began to
fall, Yolanda led Max to a rustic seat in the deep shadow of the vines.
I could not hear their words, but I learned afterward of the
conversation.

When I thought Yolanda was the princess, I was joyful because of the
marked favor that she showed Max. When I thought she was a burgher girl,
I felt like a fussy old hen with a flock of ducks if he were alone with
her. She seemed then a bewitching little ogress slowly devouring my
handsome Prince Max. That she was fair, entrancing, and lovable beyond
any woman I had ever known, only added to my anxiety. Would Max be
strong enough to hold out against her wooing? I don't like to apply the
word "wooing" to a young girl's conduct, but we all know that woman does
her part in the great system of human mating when the persons most
interested do the choosing; and it is right that she should. The modesty
that prevents a woman from showing her preference is the result of a
false philosophy, and flies in the face of nature. Her right to choose
is as good as man's.

If Yolanda's wooing was more pronounced than is usual with a modest
young girl, it must be remembered that her situation was different. She
knew that Max had been restrained from wooing her only because of the
impassable gulf that lay between them. Ardor in Max when marriage was
impossible would have been an insult to Yolanda. His reticence for
conscience' sake and for her sake was the most chivalric flattery he
could have paid her. She saw the situation clearly, and, trusting Max
implicitly, felt safe in giving rein to her heart. She did not care to
hide from him its true condition. On the contrary she wished him to be
as sure of her as she was of him, for after all that would be the only
satisfaction they would ever know.

I argued: If Yolanda were the princess, betrothed to the Dauphin, the
gulf between her and Max was as impassable as if she were a burgher
girl. In neither case could she hope to marry him. Therefore, her
girlish wooing was but the outcry of nature and was without boldness.

The paramount instinct of all nature is to flower. Even the frozen
Alpine rock sends forth its edelweiss, and the heart of a princess is
first the heart of a woman, and must blossom when its spring comes. All
the conventions that man can invent will not keep back the flower. All
created things, animate and inanimate, have in them an uncontrollable
impulse which, in their spring, reverts with a holy retrospect to the
great first principle of existence, the love of reproduction.

Yolanda's spring had come, and her heart was a flower with the sacred
bloom. Being a woman, she loved it and cuddled it for the sake of the
pain it brought, as a mother fondles a wayward child. Max, being a man,
struggled against the joy that hurt him and, with a sympathy broad
enough for two, feared the pain he might bring to Yolanda. So this
unresponsiveness in Max made him doubly attractive to the girl, who was
of the sort, whether royal or bourgeois, before whom men usually fall.

"I thought you had left me, Sir Max," she said, drawing him to a seat
beside her in the shade.

"I promised you I would not go," he responded, "and I would not
willingly break my word to any one, certainly not to you, Fraeulein."

"I was angry when I heard you had left the inn," she said, "and I spoke
unkindly of you. There has been an ache in my heart ever since that
nothing but confession and remission will cure."

"I grant the remission gladly," answered Max. "There was flattery in
your anger."

The girl laughed softly and, clasping her hands over her knee, spoke
with a sigh.

"I think women have the harder part of life in everything. I again ask
you to promise me that you will not leave Peronne within a month."

"I cannot promise you that, Fraeulein," answered Max.

"You will some day--soon, perhaps--know my reasons," said Yolanda, "and
if they do not prove good I am willing to forfeit your esteem. That is
the greatest hostage I can give."

"I cannot promise," answered Max, stubbornly.

"I offer you another inducement, one that will overmatch the small
weight of my poor wishes. I promise to bring you to meet this Mary of
Burgundy whom you came to woo. I cannot present you, but I will see that
Twonette brings about the meeting. I tell you, as I have already told
Sir Karl, that it is said I resemble this princess, so you must not
mistake her for me."

When Max told me of this offer I wondered if the girl had been testing
him, and a light dawned on me concerning her motives.

"I did not come to woo her," answered Max, "though she may have been a
part of my reason for coming. I knew that she was affianced to the
Dauphin of France. Her beauty and goodness were known to me through
letters of my Lord d'Hymbercourt, written to my dear old friend Karl.
Because of certain transactions, of which you do not know and of which I
may not speak, I esteemed her for a time above all women, though I had
never seen her. I still esteem her, but--but the other is all past now,
Fraeulein, and I do not wish to meet the princess, though the honor would
be far beyond my deserts."

"Why do you not wish to meet her?" asked Yolanda, with an air of
pleasure. Max hesitated, then answered bluntly:--

"Because I have met you, Fraeulein. You should not lead me to speak such
words."

Yolanda touched Max's arm and said frankly:--

"There can be no harm, Max. If you knew all,--if I could tell you
all,--you would understand. The words can harm neither of us." She
hesitated and, with drooping head, continued: "And they are to me as the
sun and the south wind to the flowers and the corn. You already know all
that is in my heart, or I would not speak so plainly. In all my life I
have known little of the sweet touch of human sympathy and love, and,
Max, my poor heart yearns for them until at times I feel like the
flowers without the sun and the corn without the rain,--as if I will die
for lack of them. I am almost tempted to tell you all."

"Tell me all, Yolanda," entreated Max, "for I, too, have suffered from
the same want, though my misfortune comes from being born to a high
estate. If you but knew the lonely, corroding misery of those born to a
station above the reach of real human sympathy, you would not envy, you
would pity them. You would be charitable to their sins, and would thank
God for your lowly lot in life. I will tell you my secret. I am
Maximilian of Hapsburg."

"I have known it since the first day I saw you at Basel," answered
Yolanda.

"I have felt sure at times that you did," responded Max, "though I
cannot think how you learned it. Will you tell me of yourself?"

The girl hung her head and hesitated. Once she lifted her face to speak,
but changed her mind.

"Please don't ask me now. I will tell you soon, but not now, not now. Be
patient with me. I do pity you. I do, I do. If we could help each
other--but we cannot, and there is no use longing for it. I sometimes
fear that your attitude is the right one, and that it is best that we
should part and meet no more."

The proposition to part and meet no more was good in theory, but Max
found that the suggestion to make a fact of it frightened him.

"Let us not speak of that now," he said. "The parting will come soon
enough. You will surely deem me cold and unworthy, Fraeulein, but you
cannot understand. One may not call a man hard and selfish who plucks
out his eye for the sake of a God-imposed duty, or who deliberately
thrusts away happiness and accepts a life of misery and heartache
because of the chains with which God bound him at his birth."

"Ah, I do understand, Max; I understand only too well," answered the
girl.

I have often wondered why Max did not suspect that Yolanda was the
Princess Mary; but when I considered that he had not my reasons to lead
him to that conclusion, I easily understood his blindness, for even I
was unconvinced. Had I not overheard Castleman's conversation with
Yolanda on the road to Strasburg, after meeting De Rose, the supposition
that the burgher girl travelling unattended with a merchant and his
daughter could possibly be the Princess Mary would have been beyond the
credence of a sane man. The thought never would have occurred to me.
Even with Castleman's words always ringing in my ears, I was
constantly in doubt.

"There is no reason why one should deliberately hasten the day of one's
thralldom," said Yolanda, softly. "If one may be free and happy for an
hour without breaking those terrible chains of God's welding, is he not
foolish to refuse the small benediction? The memory of it may sweeten
the years to come."

"To woman, such a memory is sweet," answered Max, striving to steel his
heart against the girl. "To men, it is a bitter regret."

To me he had spoken differently of his pain.

"Then be generous, Little Max, and give me the sweet memory," said the
girl, carried away by the swirling impulse of her heart.

"You will not need it," answered Max. "Your lot will be different from
mine."

"Yes, it will be different, Max--it will be worse," she cried
passionately, almost in tears. "I think I shall kill myself when you
leave Burgundy." She paused and turned fiercely upon him, "Give me the
promise I ask. I demand at least that consolation as my right--as a poor
return for what you take from me."

Max gently took her hand, which was at once lost in his great clasp.

"Fraeulein, I will not leave Burgundy within a month, whatever the
consequences may be," he said tenderly.

"Upon your honor?" she asked, joyously clapping her hands.

"Every promise I make, Fraeulein, is on my honor," said Max, seriously.

"So it is, Little Max, so it is," she answered gently. Then they rose
and came to the table where Castleman and I were sitting.

Yolanda had gained her point and was joyful over her victory.

Frau Katherine was asleep in a high-backed chair. Twonette slept in a
corner of the arbor, her flaxen head embowered in a cluster of leaves
and illumined by a stray beam of moonlight that stole between the vines.

"I am going in now. Come, Twonette," said Yolanda, shaking that plump
young lady to arouse her. "Come, Twonette."

Twonette slowly opened her big blue eyes, but she was slower in
awakening.

"Twonette! Twonette!" cried Yolanda, pulling at the girl's hand. "I
declare, if you don't resist this growing drowsiness you will go down in
history as the 'Eighth Sleeper,' and will be left snoring on
resurrection morn."

When Twonette had awakened sufficiently to walk, we started from the
arbor to the house. As we passed from beneath the vines, the frowning
wall of the castle and the dark forms of its huge towers, silhouetted in
black against the moon-lit sky, formed a picture of fierce and sombre
gloom not soon to be forgotten.

"The dark, frowning castle reminds one of its terrible lord," said Max,
looking up at the battlements.

"It does, indeed," answered Yolanda, hardly above a whisper. Then we
went into the house.

"We hope to see you again for supper to-morrow evening, don't we,
uncle?" said Yolanda, addressing Max and me, and turning to Castleman.

"Yes--yes, to-morrow evening," said the burgher, hesitatingly.

Max accepted the invitation and we made our adieux.

At the bridge over the Cologne we met Hymbercourt returning to his house
from the castle. While we talked, the cavalcade of ladies and gentlemen
that we had watched from Castleman's garden cantered up the street.

"You will now see the princess," said Hymbercourt. "She comes with the
duke and the duchess. They left the castle at five, and have been riding
in the moonlight."

We stepped to one side of the street as the cavalcade passed, and I
asked Hymbercourt to point out the princess.

"She rides between the duke--the tall figure that you may recognize by
his long beard--and the page carrying a hooded falcon," he answered.

Surely this evidence should have put my mind at rest concerning my
hallucination that Yolanda was Mary of Burgundy; but when we reached
the inn and Max told me of his conversation with Yolanda the riddle
again sprang up like a jack-in-the-box. I felt that I was growing weak
in mind. Yolanda's desire to tell Max her secret, and her refusal; her
longing for human sympathy, and the lack of it; her wish that he should
remain in Peronne for a month--all these made me feel that she was
the princess.

I could not help hoping that Hymbercourt was mistaken in pointing out
Her Highness. She rode in the shadow of the buildings and the moon was
less than half full. Yolanda might have wished to deceive us by pointing
out the princess while we watched the cavalcade from Castleman's garden.
The burgher and Twonette might have been drawn into the plot against us
by the impetuous will of this saucy little witch. Many things, I
imagined, had happened which would have appeared absurd to a sane
man--but I was not sane. I wished to believe that Yolanda was the
princess, and I could not get the notion out of my head.

Yolanda's forwardness with Max, if she were Mary of Burgundy, could
easily be explained on the ground that she was a princess, and was
entitled to speak her mind. I was sure she was a modest girl, therefore,
if she were of lowly birth, she would have hesitated to speak so plainly
to Max. So, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I refused to
be convinced that Yolanda was not Mademoiselle de Burgundy. I loved the
thought so dearly that I could not and would not part with it. That
night, while I lay pondering over the riddle, I determined to do no more
guessing, and let the Fates solve it for me. They might give me the
answer soon if I would "give it up."

The next evening we went to Castleman's house, but we did not see
Yolanda. Frau Kate said she was indisposed, and we ate supper without
her. It was a dull meal,--so much does a good appetite wait upon good
company,--and for the first time I realized fully the marvellous quality
of this girl's magic spell. Max, of course, was disappointed, and we
walked back to The Mitre in silence.



CHAPTER XIII

A BATTLE IN MID AIR

A day or two after the supper of the wren pie, Max bought from a pedler
a gray falcon most beautifully marked, with a scarlet head and neck, and
we sent our squires to Hymbercourt, asking him to solicit from the
duke's seneschal, my Lord de Vergy, permission to strike a heron on the
marshes. The favor was easily obtained, and we went forth that afternoon
to try the new hawk.

The hours passed quickly. The hawk was perfectly trained, and as fierce
as a mountain wildcat. Its combats in mid air were most exciting. It
would attack its prey and drive it back to a point nearly over our
heads. There it waged the battle of death. It had killed three herons,
all of which had fallen at our feet, and we were returning home when a
fourth rose from the marsh. We were on a side road or path, perhaps five
hundred yards from the main highway.

At the moment Max gave wing to his bird, two ladies and three gentlemen
came up the road, returning to Peronne, and halted to witness the
aerial combat. That they were of the court, I could easily see by their
habits, though the distance was so great that I could not distinguish
their faces.

Never did hawk acquit itself more nobly. It seemed to realize that it
had a distinguished audience. The heron opened the battle desperately,
and persisted in keeping its course to the south. The hawk, not ready
for battle till the prey should be over our heads, circled round and
round the heron, constantly striking, but carefully avoiding the _coup
de grace_. After the birds had flown several hundred yards away from us,
and were growing small in the distance, the heron, less hardy than its
knightly foe, showed signs of weariness and confusion. It changed its
course, still flying away from us. This did not suit the hawk, and it
continued circling about its faltering prey with a vicious swiftness
well calculated to inspire terror. Its movements became so rapid that it
appeared to describe a gray circle about the heron. These circles, with
the heron as the centre, constantly grew smaller, and after a time we
could see that the birds were slowly but surely approaching us.

When they were almost over our heads, the hawk rose with incredible
swiftness above its prey, and dropped like a bolt of gray lightning upon
the heron. Then followed a struggle that lasted while the birds fell
three hundred feet. When within fifty feet of the ground the hawk
suddenly spread its wings and stood motionless in mid air, watching its
vanquished foe as it fell to a spot within ten yards of where we stood.
The movement of the falcon in descending to us can only be described as
a settling or gradual sinking, with outstretched, motionless wings. When
Max piped, the bird flew to its master's wrist and held down its beak
for the hood.

At the close of the battle, the gentlemen of our little audience clapped
their hands, and the ladies waved their kerchiefs. Max and I raised our
caps and reined our horses toward the main road. As we approached, the
ladies and one of the gentlemen resumed their journey toward Cambrai
Gate, but the others awaited us. When we reached them we found, to our
surprise, Duke Charles and my Lord d'Hymbercourt.

"Ah, it is our unknown knight who was so eager to fight Count Calli,"
exclaimed the duke.

"And still eager, Your Grace," answered Max. He uncovered upon
approaching the duke, but after a moment said, "By Your Grace's leave,"
and resumed his cap. I, of course, remained uncovered. The duke showed
surprise and irritation as he answered:--

"Since you do not see fit to tell us who you are, you should have the
grace to remain uncovered."

Max glanced quickly at the duke's face, and removed his cap, as he
answered, smiling:--

"If it pleases Your Grace, I will remain uncovered even though I be the
Pope himself."

The duke saw the humor of the situation and replied:--

"One who owns so noble a hawk may remain covered in any man's presence.
Never have I seen so rare a battle in mid air. The soul of Roland
himself must inhabit the bird."

"Will Your Grace accept the hawk?" Max asked.

"Gladly," answered the duke, "though I hesitate to deprive you of a bird
to which you must be attached."

"Do not hesitate to give me that pleasure, my lord," answered Max. "The
bird is yours. His name is Caesar. I will send him to the castle
this evening."

"Do not send him," suggested the duke. "Double your kindness by bringing
him to-morrow at the noon hour, after the morning audience. We must now
follow the princess. Adieu, messieurs."

The duke touched his cap, and we bent almost to our horses' manes.

Charles and Hymbercourt rode forward at a brisk canter, and Max and I
followed slowly. We entered Cambrai Gate three or four minutes after the
duke and the princess.

Max, eager to exhibit his hawk to Yolanda, proposed that we ride
directly to Castleman's house.

While we were crossing the Cologne bridge we saw the duke's party enter
the castle by the Postern, and as we turned a corner toward Castleman's
the ladies looked in our direction and the gentlemen lifted their caps.

"Yolanda will be delighted when she sees my hawk," said Max.

I did not answer, but I thought that Yolanda would not see the bird that
evening, since she had just entered the castle with her father. I was in
great glee of spirits; I had at last trapped the young lady. If she were
not at Castleman's house there could be but one answer to my riddle. I
did not merely believe that I should not find her there; I knew I
should not.

Max and I hitched our horses, and when Castleman's front door opened,
lo! there stood Yolanda. Never in all my life have I taken such a fall.

Somewhat out of breath, Yolanda exclaimed:--

"Ah, Sir Max and Sir Karl, I saw you coming and ran to give you
welcome."

She was in an ecstasy of glee, strangely out of proportion to the event,
and there was a look of triumph in her eyes.

After we entered the house Yolanda's laughter continued, and if it
ceased for a moment it broke out again without a pretext. She was always
pleased to see Max, and never failed to show her pleasure in laughter
more or less; but Max's presence could hardly account for her high
merriment and the satisfaction she seemed to feel, as if a great victory
had been gained. My sense of utter defeat had nothing but Yolanda's
peculiar conduct to comfort it.

To the arbor we went, Yolanda carrying the hawk on her shoulder and
caressing it with her cheek. In the garden, when our adventures were
related, Yolanda, all excitement, could not keep her chair, but danced
delightedly like a child and killed a score of imaginary herons.

She stroked the falcon's wings, and when I said, "My lord the duke has
graciously consented to accept the bird," she turned upon Max,
exclaiming in mock anger:--

"The duke has graciously consented to accept the bird! I should think it
required little grace to accept such a gift, though much to give it. Why
don't you give the bird to me, Sir Max, if you are eager to part
with it?"

"I would gladly have given it to you, Fraeulein," answered Max, "had I
supposed you could use it on the duke's marshes. Only nobles practise
the royal sport of falconry."

Yolanda glanced quickly from Max to Castleman, turned her face to the
bird upon her shoulder, and said, with a touch of dignity:--

"We receive small favors from court once in a while, don't we, uncle?
We are not dirt under the nobles' feet, if we are plain burgher folk,
are we, uncle?"

"Don't you know, Fraeulein, what great pleasure I should have taken in
giving you the bird?" asked Max.

Yolanda bent her head to one side, placed her cheek against the falcon's
wing and pouted. Her pout was prettier even than her smile, and that is
saying a great deal.

After a few minutes Yolanda started to walk up the garden path and Max
followed her, leaving the Castlemans and me under the arbor. Yolanda,
still pouting, carried Caesar on her shoulder, lavishing caresses on the
bird that excited Max's bitterest envy. Max spoke at intervals, but she
answered only to the bird. After many futile efforts to make her speak,
he said:--

"If you won't talk to me, I'll go back to the arbor."

She turned to the bird: "We are willing, Caesar, aren't we--if he can
go."

Max laughed and started toward the arbor.

"Tell him to come back, Caesar. Tell him to come back," exclaimed
Yolanda.

"I take no orders from a bird," declared Max, with pretended
seriousness. Then she turned toward him and her face softened. She
smiled and the dimples came, though there was a nervous tremor in the
upturned corners of her mouth that belied her bantering air and brought
Max quickly to her side. I saw the pantomime, though I did not hear the
words; and I knew that neither Max nor any other man could withstand the
quivering smile that played upon Yolanda's lips and the yearning
invitation that was in her eyes. If Max did not soon take himself away
from Burgundy and lead himself out of this temptation, I feared that in
the end he would cast aside his ancient heritage, rend his sacred family
ties, and forego everything he possessed in response to this mighty cry
of nature, offering the one chance in life for happiness.

"Now you will give me the bird--I know you will," exclaimed Yolanda.

A remnant of the pout still hovered about her lips, doing battle with
the dimples of a smile.

"I have already given him to the duke," answered Max.

"Tell the duke the bird escaped, or died suddenly of an apoplexy. Tell
him anything you like, but give me the hawk," said Yolanda.

"Would you have me lie, Fraeulein?" asked Max, amused at her persistency.
"I cannot do that, even for you. If you insist upon having the bird, I
may go to the duke and withdraw my gift."

"Would you do that for me, Sir Max?" she asked, eagerly.

"Ay, and a great deal more, Fraeulein. I tremble at the thought of what
you could make me do," he answered.

"In the fiend's name, let the duke have the bird," cried Yolanda. "He
will pout more than I if you don't. He is of a sullen nature."

"Do you know the duke?" asked Max, suspecting for the first time that
Yolanda might be more intimate about the court than he had supposed.

"I have heard much of him from those who know him," answered Yolanda.

So the duke got Caesar.

The next morning Hymbercourt came to the inn to accompany us to the
castle. While we were sipping a mug of wine at a garden table,
he said:--

"I do not want to be officious in your affairs, but I am convinced that
it will be well for you to tell the duke who you are. If you do not see
fit to do so, it were wise in you to leave Burgundy at your earliest
convenience."

"I cannot leave within a month," said Max. I knew the cause of his
detention, and, ignoring his remark, turned to Hymbercourt:--

"Do you want to give the reasons for your advice?"

"Yes, I am quite willing," he answered, "but I would not have my words
repeated."

"Of that you may rest assured," I answered.

"If you do not tell the duke who you are," said Hymbercourt, "he will
soon learn it from our Italian friends, who have the fiend's own energy
in the pursuit of vengeance. They will discover who you are, and you
will lose the advantage of a frank avowal. Duke Charles admires Sir Max,
but our liege lord is capricious and can easily fancy that others are
plotting to injure him. I am sure that he will now receive the Count of
Hapsburg graciously if you tell him that Sir Max is that person. What he
would do were he to learn the fact highly colored by his Italians, I
cannot say. These mercenaries have a strange influence over His Grace,
and there is not a nobleman in Burgundy who does not fear them."

"How will the duke feel concerning the old proposition of marriage?" I
asked.

"That, I hope, will be of no moment now, since the duke is arranging for
the immediate celebration of this marriage with the Dauphin. I am given
to understand that His Grace, the Bishop of Cambrai, secretary to the
duke, has received orders to draught a letter to King Louis expressing
our lord's pleasure. King Louis is so eager for the marriage, which will
once more bring Burgundy to the French kingship, that Duke Charles deems
it sufficiently courteous to express his intentions to Louis, rather
than to request the king's compliance. The duke's contempt for the king
of France is so great that he causes the letter to be written in
English, a language which Charles loves because of the English blood in
his veins, and which Louis, with good reason, hates."

"Has this letter been despatched?" I asked, concealing as well as I
could my deep concern.

Max heard Hymbercourt's statement without even a show of interest. Had
he suspected that Hymbercourt was speaking of Yolanda's marriage, there
surely would have been a demonstration.

"No," answered Hymbercourt, "the letter has not been sent, but the duke
will despatch it at once. It will probably be the chief business of this
morning's audience. The duke wants the marriage celebrated before he
leaves for Switzerland. That will be within three or four weeks. I am
not informed as to the details of the ceremony, but I suppose the
princess will be taken to St. Denis, and will there be married. The
unfortunate princess, doubtless, has not yet been told of her impending
fate, though she may have heard of it by rumor. There will be tears and
trouble when she learns of it, for she has a strong dash of her father's
temper. But--" He shrugged his shoulders as if to say that her tears
would count for nothing.

Hymbercourt's words took the heart out of me; and when he left us for a
moment, I urged Max to leave Burgundy at once.

"I must see Yolanda and ask her to release me from my promise before I
go," he said.

"You are surely not so weak as to allow a burgher girl to hold you?" I
asked.

"The girl does not hold me," he answered. "I was so weak as to give my
promise, and that holds me."

"She will give you your release if you demand it," I suggested.

"If she does, I will go with you to-morrow. It is time that we were out
of Burgundy. I will forego even my combat with Calli to get away. I
should not have given Yolanda my promise; but she is so persuasive, and
I pity her, and--and, oh! Karl, I--the trouble is, I love her, and it is
like death to part from her forever. That is my weakness."

The poor, suffering boy leaned forward on the table and buried his face
in his arms.

"That isn't your weakness, Max, it's your strength," I responded. "Few
men are so unfortunate as to escape it. God must pity those who do. It
may be well to tell the duke who you are. If he is displeased, we may
leave Burgundy at once. If he receives you graciously, we may remain and
you may fight this Calli. That is the one duty that holds you
in Peronne."

My heart was hardened with years, and its love of just vengeance was
stronger than young Max could feel. Besides, he was possessed by a
softer passion; and though he felt it his pleasant duty to fight Calli,
vengeance held second place in his breast.

Hymbercourt returned, and we started for the castle accompanied by our
squires; all riding in fine state.

We arrived at the great hall before the duke had arisen from the morning
audience, and waited unobserved in the back part of the chamber. Our
Irish squire, Michael, carried Caesar, hooded and belled. He was held by
a golden chain that we had bought from a goldsmith, notwithstanding our
purse was growing dangerously light.

There was a great stir in the hall as we entered. The courtiers were
buzzing like a swarm of bees discussing a new queen. Evidently matters
of importance had been under consideration. Campo-Basso, my Lord de
Vergy, seneschal of Burgundy, and the Bishop of Cambrai, clerk to the
duke, were standing on the second step of the dais, each with hand
resting on knee, and leaning eagerly toward the duke. Charles and these
councillors were speaking in low tones, and the courtiers of less degree
were taking advantage of the intermission in public business to settle
the great question among themselves. Each petty courtier felt that he
could offer a suggestion that would be of great value, could he but gain
the duke's ear.

After a little time, Charles saw Hymbercourt with us, and sent a page to
fetch him. Hymbercourt left us, and soon we saw him in whispered
conversation with the duke. Soon after Hymbercourt had gone to the
ducal throne, Calli, with two Italians, stopped four paces from where we
were standing. He gazed insolently at Max, and said in Italian to his
companions:--

"There is the loutish outlander, who boasted before the duke that he
would fight me. He is a big callow fellow, and it would be a shame to
stick the swine."

Max, who understood the Italian language sufficiently to grasp Calli's
meaning, flushed angrily, but I touched his arm and he turned his back
upon the fellow. Then I spoke in tones that Calli could not fail
to hear:--

"Never turn your face from a cowardly foe, Max. He will, if he can, stab
you in the back. Your revenge will come when you send his soul to hell."

Calli grasped his dagger hilt and muttered something about the duke's
presence. The incident determined us in the course Max should take. He
should tell the duke who he was, remain in Burgundy to kill this fellow
Calli, and to meet such other fortune as the Fates might have in
store for him.

Hymbercourt and the duke spoke together for the space of five minutes,
evidently discussing a parchment that Charles held in his hand. Then the
duke resumed his seat, and handed the parchment to the Bishop of
Cambrai, when all save His Reverence stepped from the dais to the
floor. A herald commanded silence, and the bishop spoke:--

"It is the will of our most gracious lord that I announce to the court
the impending marriage of Her Grace, the Princess, Mademoiselle de
Burgundy, to the princely Dauphin of France, son to our lord's royal
ally, King Louis. His Grace of Burgundy hopes within three weeks to open
his campaign against the Swiss, and it is his intention to cause the
marriage ceremony to take place before his departure. When the details
have been arranged, they will be announced to the court."

The bishop had barely stopped speaking when the shutter in the chancel
of the ladies' gallery above the throne opened, and a voice rang through
the vast audience hall, like the tones of an alarm bell:--

"Make one more announcement, please, my Lord Bishop. Say that if this
wondrous ceremony is to come off within three weeks, the Dauphin of
France must be content with a dead bride."

No one saw the face of the speaker. The shutter closed, and a deep
silence fell upon the room. The duke sprang angrily to his feet; his
face was like a thunder-cloud. He looked toward the ladies' gallery, and
stood for a moment like the incarnation of wrath. A puzzled expression
followed the glare of anger; and within a moment he laughed, and waved
his hands to the heralds, directing them to cry the rising. The
audience was dismissed, and the courtiers left the hall, laughing in
imitation of their lord and master.

Nothing could be more indicative of cruelty than the laughter that
followed the passionate protest of the unhappy princess. To the duke,
and of course to his courtiers, the girl's suffering and the fate that
was in store for her were mere matters of mirth. They laughed at her
pain as savages laugh at the agonies of a tortured victim.

I was so startled by the cry of the princess that for a time I could not
think coherently. My first clear thought was of Yolanda. If she were the
princess, this sacrifice that is practised without a protest throughout
the world had come home to me, for Yolanda had nestled in my heart. That
she, the gentle, the tender, the passionate, the sensitive, should be
the victim of this legalized crime; that she, innocent of all fault,
save that she had been born a girl, should be condemned to misery
because the laws of chivalry and the laws of God, distorted by men to
suit their purposes, declared her to be the chattel of her father, moved
me as I was never moved before. My sympathy for this rare, sweet girl,
so capable of joy, so susceptible to pain, almost brought tears to my
eyes; for I could not help thinking that she was the suffering princess.

When the courtiers had left the great hall Hymbercourt, Max, and I
approached the duke. Hymbercourt and I made obeisance on bended knee,
but Max saluted the duke with a low bow. After the duke had spoken,
Max said:--

"I hope Your Grace has not forgotten your promise to honor me by
accepting the falcon you admired yesterday."

"I have not, my unknown friend," answered the duke.

Max took the bird from Michael and offered it to Charles, who accepted
the gift graciously. I looked toward Hymbercourt and he, understanding
my unspoken word, again bent his knee before the duke:--

"My gracious lord, it is the desire of this young knight that he be
presented to you in due form under his own name and title, though he
would humbly ask that he be permitted to retain the name by which he is
known in Burgundy. His reasons for so doing are good, though they would
not interest Your Grace. Have I my lord's permission to present him?"

"In God's name, yes!" exclaimed the duke, stirred by some irritation,
but spurred by curiosity.

"My lord," said Hymbercourt, speaking to the duke and extending his hand
toward Max, "it is my great honor to present to Your Grace his highness,
Maximilian, Count of Hapsburg."

"By the just God, my lord, you certainly have given us a surprise," said
the duke, stepping back and making no offer of his hand to Max. He
passed the falcon to a page, and continued, "What business have these
men at my court?"

"None, Your Grace, absolutely none," answered Max, standing proudly
before the duke and steadfastly meeting his gaze. "It was my desire to
see the world and to learn something of its people before I undertook to
govern my own. My country is not rich and fat like this great land of
Burgundy. I have neither the means nor the inclination to travel in
state; so my dear friend and instructor, Sir Karl de Pitti, undertook to
guide me and teach me in this journey to the outer world. I would rather
have missed seeing all other countries than Burgundy, and of all the
princes of the world Your Grace was and is to me the most interesting.
Your hand is the strongest, your courage the bravest, and your land the
richest in Europe. We heard at Metz that you were here in Peronne; and
now, my lord, you understand what business I have in Burgundy."

I had never given the boy credit for so much adroitness. What the duke's
intentions were, immediately after Hymbercourt presented Max, I could
not have told, but his words sounded ominous, and the expression of his
face was anything but pleasant. Max, though not quarrelsome, was not
given to the soft answer that turneth away wrath; but on this occasion
discretion came to his rescue, and he made the soft answer with a
dignity and boldness that won Charles's respect. The duke's face
softened into a half-smile,--if anything so hard as his face can be said
to soften,--and he offered his hand to Max. He withdrew it almost
instantly from Max's grasp, and said:--

"Are you sure my armament against Switzerland is no part of the reason
for your presence in Burgundy?" Like all highly pugnacious men, he was
suspicious. "I have been told your father is a friend to the Swiss."

"Does Your Grace mean to ask if I am here in the capacity of a spy, as
Calli has charged?" asked Max, lifting his head and looking boldly into
the duke's face.

"I do not know," said the duke, hesitatingly. "I do not say you are. I
do not think you are, but--"

"I am glad Your Grace does not think we are spies, and am pleased to
believe that you would not put so great an insult upon us," answered
Max, "else we should ask permission to leave Burgundy at once. I am sure
my lord knows we are not spies. If Your Lordship had a son, would you
send him forth as a spy for the sake of Burgundy? Much less would you do
it for another land. Your Grace is misinformed. My father is not a
friend to the Swiss; neither does he hate them, though perhaps he has
better cause to do so than has Your Grace. Your quarrel with the Swiss
is over a few cart-loads of sheepskins. These same Swiss took from my
father our ancient homestead, the old Castle of Hapsburg, and the
surrounding territory of Aargau."

"I have heard of the spoliation, and have often wondered at your
father's meek submission," said the duke, with an almost imperceptible
sneer. Like Richard the Lion-hearted, of England, butchery was this
duke's trade, and he despised a man who did not practise it on all
possible occasions. A pretext for a quarrel is balm to the soul of
a hero.

"The mountains of Switzerland, my lord, are the graveyard of foreign
soldiers," Max replied. "Old Hapsburg Castle is a mere hawks' crag, as
its name implies, and the half-score of mountain peaks my father lost
with it are not worth the life of his humblest subject. He loves his
people, and would not shed their blood to soothe his wounded pride. The
man who makes war should fight in the front rank."

"There is where I fight, young sir," returned Charles.

"The world knows that fact, my lord," responded Max. "My father cannot
fight at the head of his army, therefore, he makes war only in defence
of his people's hearths. It is possible that after consulting with my
friend, Sir Karl, I may ask the honor of serving with Your Grace against
these Swiss who despoiled my house. Is Your Grace now satisfied that we
are not Swiss spies? And are we welcome to sojourn for a time in
Peronne? Or shall we leave Burgundy and return to my father in Styria,
to tell him that you turned a guest and a friend from your door?"

"You are very welcome, Sir Count, and you, Sir Karl," answered the duke,
giving his right hand to Max and familiarly offering me his left. This
hard duke had been beaten into a gracious mood by Max's adroit mixture
of flattery and boldness.

A soft answer may turn away wrath, but it may also involve the
disagreeable necessity of turning the other cheek. If it be not tempered
by spirit, it is apt to arouse contempt. The duke remained silent for
the space of a minute or two. He was evidently struggling to suppress a
good impulse. Then he turned to me and said, laughingly:--

"By my soul, Sir Karl, you have brought us a Roland and a Demosthenes in
one. Where learned you your oratory, Sir Count?"

"From a just cause, my lord," quickly retorted Max.

"I fear I have had the worst of this encounter, Hymbercourt," said the
duke, smiling, "and I see nothing left for me but apology."

"I sincerely hope Your Grace will not embarrass us by apologizing," said
Max.

Charles hesitated, gave a short laugh, and apologized by placing his
hand on Max's shoulder.

"Let us go into the little parley room," he said. "Hymbercourt, lead the
way with Sir Max; Sir Karl and I will follow presently."

Max and Hymbercourt passed out at a small door near the throne, and the
duke turned to me:--

"I like the boy's modest boldness, and I hope that I may induce him and
you to accompany me against the Swiss. I would not accept his offer made
on the spur of the moment, but if, on talking it over with him, you make
up your minds to come with me, I will make it well worth your while.
This war will be but a May-day outing. We'll speak on the subject again.
Meantime, I understand that you and Sir Max wish to remain incognito
at Peronne?"

"We do, Your Grace," I responded. "I fear it will be impossible to
accept the honor you have offered, but, as you have graciously said, we
will, if you wish, speak of it again."

"I am content," said the duke. "Let us follow Hymbercourt."



CHAPTER XIV

SIR KARL MEETS THE PRINCESS

The duke and I passed through the door by which Max and Hymbercourt had
left the hall, and entered a narrow passageway eight or ten yards long,
having two doors at the farther end. The door to the right, I soon
learned, led to the little parley room where Max and Hymbercourt had
gone. The door to the left opened into a staircase that led to the
apartments of the duchess. A narrow flight of stone steps that led from
the ladies' gallery opened into the passage, and, just as the duke
entered in advance of me, two ladies emerged from the stairs. They did
not see me in the shadow, and supposed that the duke was alone. The
taller, who I soon learned was the duchess, hastened down the passage
and through the door leading to her apartments. The smaller I at once
recognized. She was Yolanda.

"Father, you cannot mean to send me into France," she cried, trying to
detain the duke. "Kill me, father, if you will, but do not send me to
that hated land. I shall not survive this marriage a fortnight, and if I
die, Burgundy will go to our cousin of Bourbon."

"Don't hinder me, daughter," returned the duke, impatiently. "Don't you
see we are not alone?"

Yolanda turned in surprise toward me, and the duke said:--

"Go by the right door, Sir Karl. I will be with you at once. I wish to
speak with the duchess."

He hurriedly followed his wife and left me alone with Yolanda.

"Fraeulein, my intrusion was unintentional," I stammered. "I followed the
duke at his request."

"Fraeulein!" exclaimed the girl, lifting her head and looking a very
queen in miniature. "Fraeulein! Do you know, sir, to whom you speak?"

"I beg your pardon, most gracious princess," I replied. "Did you not
command me to address you as Fraeulein or Yolanda?"

"My name, sir, is not Yolanda. You have made a sad mistake," said the
princess, drawing herself up to her full height. Then I thought of
Yolanda's words when she told me that she resembled the princess as one
pea resembles another.

The girl trembled, and even in the dim light I could see the gleam of
anger in her eyes. I was endeavoring to frame a suitable apology when
she spoke again:--

"Fraeulein! Yolanda! Sir, your courtesy is scant to give me these names.
I do not know you, and--did I not tell you that if you made this mistake
with the princess you would not so easily correct it? That
I--you--Blessed Virgin! I have betrayed myself. I knew I should. I knew
I could not carry it out."

She covered her face with her hands and began to weep, speaking while
she sobbed:--

"My troubles are more than I can bear."

I wished to reassure her at once:--

"Most Gracious Princess--Yolanda--your secret is safe with me. You are
as dear to me as if you were my child. You have nestled in my heart and
filled it as completely as one human being can fill the heart of
another. I would gladly give my poor old life to make you happy. Now if
you can make use of me, I am at your service."

"You will not tell Sir Max?" she sobbed.

She was no longer a princess. She was the child Yolanda.

"As I hope for salvation, no, I will not tell Sir Max," I responded.

"Sometime I will give you my reasons," she said.

"I wish none," I replied.

After a short pause, she went on, still weeping gently:--

"If I must go to France, Sir Karl, you may come there to be my Lord
Chamberlain. Perhaps Max should not come, since I shall be the wife of
another, and--and there would surely be trouble. Max should not come."

She stepped quickly to my side. Her hand fell, and she grasped mine for
an instant under the folds of her cloak; then she ran from the passage,
and I went to the room where Max and Hymbercourt were waiting.

After a few moments the duke joined us. Wine was served, but Charles did
not drink. On account of the excessive natural heat of his blood he
drank nothing but water. His Grace was restless; and, although there was
no lack of courtesy, I fancied he did not wish us to remain. So after
our cups were emptied I asked permission to depart. The duke acquiesced
by rising, and said, turning to Max:--

"May we not try our new hawk together this afternoon?"

"With pleasure, Your Grace," responded Max.

"Then we'll meet at Cambrai Gate near the hour of two," said the duke.

"I thank Your Grace," said Max, bowing.

On our way back to the inn, I told Max of my meeting with the princess,
and remarked upon her resemblance to Yolanda.

"You imagined the resemblance, Karl. There can be but one Yolanda in the
world," said Max. "Her Highness, perhaps, is of Yolanda's complexion and
stature,--so Yolanda has told me,--and your imagination has furnished
the rest."

"Perhaps that is true," said I, fearing that I had already spoken too
freely.

So my great riddle was at last solved! The Fates had answered when I
"gave it up." I was so athrill with the sweet assurance that Yolanda was
the princess that I feared my secret would leap from my eyes or spring
unbidden from my lips.

I cast about in my mind for Yolanda's reasons in wishing to remain
Yolanda to Max, and I could find none save the desire to win his heart
as a burgher girl. That, indeed, would be a triumph. She knew that every
marriageable prince in Europe coveted her wealth and her estates. The
most natural desire that she or any girl could have would be to find a
worthy man who would seek her for her own sake. As Yolanda, she offered
no inducement save herself. The girl was playing a daring game, and
a wise one.

True, there appeared to be no possibility that she could ever have Max
for her husband, even should she win his heart as Yolanda. In view of
the impending and apparently unavoidable French marriage, the future
held no hope. But when her day of wretchedness should come, she would,
through all her life, take comfort from the sweetest joy a woman can
know--that the man she loved loved her because she was her own fair
self, and for no other reason. There would, of course, be the sorrow of
regret, but that is passive, while the joy of memory is ever active.

When Max and I had departed, the duke turned to Hymbercourt and said:--

"The bishop's letter is not sufficiently direct. It is my desire to
inform King Louis that this marriage shall take place at once--now!
_Now_! It will effectually keep Louis from allying with Bourbon and
Lorraine, or some other prince, while I am away from home. They all hate
me, but not one of the cowards would say 'Booh!' unless the others were
back of him. A word from Louis would kindle rebellion in Liege and
Ghent. This war with Switzerland is what Louis has waited for; and when
I march to the south, he will march into Burgundy from the west unless
he has a counter motive."

"That is but too true, my lord," said Hymbercourt.

"But if my daughter marries the Dauphin, Louis will look upon Burgundy
as the property of the French kingship in the end, and the marriage will
frighten Bourbon and Lorraine to our feet once more. This hypocrite,
Louis, has concocted a fine scheme to absorb Burgundy into his realm by
this marriage with my daughter. But I'll disappoint his greed. I'll
whisper a secret in your ear, Hymbercourt,--a secret to be told to no
one else. I'll execute this treaty of marriage now, and will use my
crafty foe for my own purposes so long as I need him; but when I return
from Switzerland, I will divorce my present duchess and take a fruitful
wife who will bear me a son to inherit Burgundy; then King Louis may
keep the girl for his pains."

The duke laughed, and seemed to feel that he was perpetrating a great
joke on his rival.

"But your brother-in-law, Edward of England, may object to having his
sister divorced," suggested Hymbercourt.

"In that case we'll take a page from King Louis' book," answered
Charles. "We'll use gold, Hymbercourt, gold! I shall not, however, like
Louis, buy Edward's ministers! They are too expensive. I'll put none of
my gold in Hastings's sleeve. I'll pension Shore's wife, and Edward will
not trouble himself about his sister. He prefers other men's sisters. Do
not fear, Hymbercourt; the time has come to meet Louis' craft
with craft."

"And Your Grace's unhappy daughter is to be the shuttlecock, my lord?"
suggested Hymbercourt.

"She will serve her purpose in the weal of Burgundy, as I do. I give my
life to Burgundy. Why should not this daughter of mine give a few tears?
But her tears are unreasonable. Why should she object to this marriage?
Even though God should hereafter give me a son, who should cut the
princess out of Burgundy, will she not be queen of France? What more
would the perverse girl have? By God, Hymbercourt, it makes my blood
boil to hear you, a man of sound reason, talk like a fool. I hear the
same maudlin protest from the duchess. She, too, is under the spell of
this girl, and mourns over her trumped-up grief like a parish priest at
a bishop's funeral."

"But, my lord, consider the creature your daughter is to marry," said
Hymbercourt. "He is but a child, less than fourteen years of age, and is
weak in mind and body. Surely, it is a wretched fate for your daughter."

"I tell you the girl is perverse," interrupted the duke. "She would
raise a storm were the Dauphin a paragon of manliness. He is a poor,
mean wretch, whom she may easily rule. His weakness will be her
advantage. She is strong enough, God knows, and wilful enough to face
down the devil himself. If there is a perverse wench on all the earth,
who will always have her own way by hook or by crook, it is this
troublesome daughter of mine. She has the duchess wound around her
finger. I could not live with them at Ghent, and sent them here for the
sake of peace. When she is queen of France she will also be king of that
realm--and in God's name what more could the girl ask?"

"But, my lord, let me beg you to consider well this step before you take
it. I am sure evil will come of it," pleaded Hymbercourt.

"I have considered," answered the duke. "Let me hear no more of this
rubbish. Two women dinning it into my ears morning, noon, and night are
quite enough for my peace of mind. I hear constantly, 'Dear father,
don't kill me. Spare your daughter,' and 'Dear my lord, I beg you not to
sacrifice the princess, whom I so love.' God's mercy! I say I am tired
of it! This marriage shall take place at once! Now, now, now, do you
hear, Hymbercourt? Tell the bishop to write this letter in English. We
will make the draught as bitter as possible for Louis. He hates the
sight of an English word, and small wonder. Direct the bishop to make
the letter short and to the point. Tell him to say the marriage shall
take place _now_. Have him use the word _now_. Do you understand?"

"Yes, my lord," answered Hymbercourt.

"Order him to fetch the missive immediately to the apartments of the
duchess. It shall be read, signed, and despatched in the presence of my
daughter and my wife, so that they may know what they have to expect.
I'll see that I'm bothered no more with their tears and their senseless
importunities."

"I'll carry out your instructions," said Hymbercourt, bowing and taking
his leave.

The duke went to his wife's parlor and fell moodily into a chair. The
duchess was sitting on a divan, and the princess was weeping in her
arms. After a long silence, broken only by Mary's half-smothered sobs,
the duke turned sharply upon the women:--

"For the love of God, cease your miserable whimpering," growled his
lordship. "Is not my life full of vexations without this deluge of tears
at home? A whimpering woman will do more to wear out the life of a man
than a score of battling enemies. Silence, I say; silence, you fools!"

Mary and the duchess were now unable to control themselves. Charles rose
angrily and, with his clenched hand raised for a blow, strode across the
room to the unhappy women. Clinging to each other, the princess and
Duchess Margaret crouched low on the divan. Then this great hero, whom
the world worships and calls "The Bold," bent over the trembling women
and upbraided them in language that I will not write.

"God curse me if I will have my life made miserable by a pair of fools,"
cried the duke. "I am wretched enough without this useless annoyance.
Enemies abroad and disobedience in my own family will drive me mad!"

The women slipped from the divan to the floor at the duke's feet, and
clung to each other. The duchess covered the princess to protect her
from the duke's blow, and, alas! took it herself. Charles stepped back,
intending to kick his daughter, but the duchess again threw herself on
Yolanda and again received the blow. By that time the duke's fury was
beyond all measure, and he stooped to drag his wife from Yolanda that he
might vent his wrath upon the sobbing girl. The duchess, who was a
young, strong woman, sprang to her feet and placed herself between
Yolanda, lying on the floor, and the infuriated duke.

"You shall not touch the child, my lord!" cried the duchess. "Though she
is your child, you shall not touch her if I can help it. Twice, my lord,
you have almost killed your daughter in your anger, and I have sworn to
prevent a recurrence of your brutality or to die in my attempt to
save her."

She snatched a dagger from her bosom, and spoke calmly: "Now come, my
lord; but when you do so, draw your dagger, for, by the Virgin, I will
kill you if you do not kill me, before you shall touch that girl. Before
you kill me, my lord, remember that my brother of England will tear you
limb from limb for the crime, and that King Louis will gladly help him
in the task. Come, my husband! Come, my brave lord! I am but a weak
woman. You may easily kill me, and I will welcome death rather than life
with you. When I am out of the way, you may work your will on your
daughter. Because I am your wife, my brother has twice saved you from
King Louis. You owe your domain and your life to me. I should sell my
life at a glorious price if my death purchased your ruin. Come,
my lord!"

The duke paused with his hand on his dagger; but he knew that his
wife's words were true, and he realized that his ruin would follow
quickly on the heels of her death.

"You complain that the world and your own family are against you, my
lord," said the duchess. "It is because you are a cruel tyrant abroad
and at home. It is because you are against the world and against those
whom you should protect and keep safe from evil. The fault is with you,
Charles of Burgundy. You have spoken the truth. The world hates you, and
this girl--the tenderest, most loving heart on earth--dreads you as her
most relentless enemy. If I were in your place, my lord, I would fall
upon my sword."

Beaten by his wife's just fury, this great war hero walked back to his
chair, and the duchess tenderly lifted Mary to the divan.

"He will not strike you, child," said Margaret. Then she fell to kissing
Yolanda passionately, and tears came to her relief.

Poor Yolanda buried her face in her mother's breast and tried to smother
her sobs. Charles sat mumbling blasphemous oaths. At the expiration of
half an hour, a page announced the Bishop of Cambrai and other
gentlemen. The duke signified that they were to be admitted; and when
the bishop entered the room, Charles, who was smarting from his late
defeat, spoke angrily:--

"By the good God, my Lord Bishop, you are slow! Does it require an hour
to write a missive of ten lines? If you are as slow in saving souls as
in writing letters, the world will go to hell before you can say
a mass."

"The wording was difficult, Your Grace," replied the bishop
obsequiously. "The Lord d'Hymbercourt said Your Grace wished the missive
to be written in English, which language my scrivener knows but
imperfectly. After it was written I received Your Lordship's
instructions to use the word 'now,' so I caused the letter to be
rewritten that I might comply with your wishes."

"Now" is a small word, but in this instance it was a great one for
Yolanda, as you shall soon learn.

"Cease explaining, my Lord Bishop, and read me the missive," said the
duke, sullenly.

The bishop unfolded the missive, which was in a pouch ready for sealing.
Yolanda stopped sobbing that she might hear the document that touched so
closely on her fate. Her tear-stained face, with its childlike pathos,
but served to increase her father's anger.

"Read, my Lord Bishop! Body of me, why stand you there like a wooden
quintain?" exclaimed the duke. "By all the gods, you are slow! Read,
I say!"

"With pleasure, my lord," answered the bishop.

"To His Majesty, King Louis of France, Charles, Duke of Burgundy and
Count of Charolois, sends this Greeting:--

"His Grace of Burgundy would recommend himself to His Majesty of France,
and would beg to inform the most puissant King Louis that the said
Charles, Duke of Burgundy, will march at the head of a Burgundian army
within three weeks from the date of these presents, against the Swiss
cantons, with intent to punish the said Swiss for certain depredations.
Therefore, the said Charles, Duke of Burgundy and Count of Charolois,
begs that His Majesty of France will now move toward the immediate
consummation of the treaty existing between Burgundy and France, looking
to the marriage of the Princess Mary, Mademoiselle de Burgundy, with the
princely Dauphin, son to King Louis; and to these presents said Charles,
Duke of Burgundy, requests the honor of an early reply.

"We recommend Your Majesty to the protection of God, the Blessed Virgin,
and the Saints."

"Words, words, my Lord Bishop," said Charles. "Why waste them on a
graceless hypocrite?"

"I thought only to be courteous," returned the bishop.

"Why should we show King Louis courtesy?" asked the duke. "Is it because
we give him our daughter to be the wife of his bandy-shanked,
half-witted son? There is small need for courtesy, my Lord Bishop. We
could not insult this King Louis, should we try, while he sees an
advantage to be gained. Give me the letter, and I will sign it, though I
despise your whimpering courtesy, as you call it."

Charles took the letter, and, going to a table near a window, drew up a
chair.

"Give me a quill," he said, addressing the bishop. "Did you not bring
one, my lord?"

"Your Grace--Your Grace," began the bishop, apologetically.

"Do you think I am a snivelling scrivener, carrying quill and ink-well
in my gown?" asked the duke. "Go to your parlor and fetch ink and
quill," said Charles, pointing with the folded missive toward Yolanda.

"A page will fetch the quill and ink, my lord," suggested the duchess.

"Go!" cried the duke, turning angrily on the princess. Yolanda left the
room, weeping, and hastened up the long flight of steps to her parlor.
It was the refinement of cruelty in Charles to send Yolanda for the
quill with which he was to sign the instrument of her doom.

Still weeping, Yolanda hurried back with the writing materials, but
before entering the room she stopped at the door to dry her tears and
stay her sobs. When she entered, she said:--

"There is the quill, father, and there is the ink."

She placed them before the duke and stood trembling with one hand on the
table. After a moment she spoke in a voice little above a whisper:--"You
will accomplish nothing, my lord, my father, by sending the letter. I
shall die before this marriage can take place. I am willing to obey you,
but, father, I shall die. Ah, father, pity me."

She fell upon her knees before the duke and tried to put her hands
about his shoulders. He repulsed her, and, taking up the quill, signed
the letter. After he had affixed his signature and had sealed the
missive with his private seal, he folded the parchment and handed it to
the bishop, saying:--

"Seal the pouch, my lord, and send Byron, the herald, here to receive
our personal instructions."

"The herald has not yet returned from Cambrai, my lord," said De Vergy,
who stood near by. "He is expected between the hours of five and six
this evening."

"Leave the letter, my lord," said Charles, "and send Byron to me when he
arrives. I shall be here at six o'clock to give him full instructions."

The letter was deposited in a small iron box on the table, and the duke
left the room, followed closely by the lords and pages.



CHAPTER XV

THE CROSSING OF A "T"

Yolanda and her stepmother remained on the divan in silence for fully an
hour after the duke had left. The duchess was first to speak.

"Be resigned, sweet one, to your fate. It is one common to women. It was
my hard fate to be compelled to marry your father. It was your mother's,
poor woman, and it killed her. God wills our slavery, and we must
submit. We but make our fate harder by fighting against it."

Yolanda answered with convulsive sobs, but after a while she grew more
calm.

"Is there nothing I can do to save myself?" she asked.

"No, sweet one," answered the duchess.

"Has God put a curse upon women, mother?" asked Yolanda.

"Alas! I fear He has," answered Margaret. "The Holy Church teaches us
that He punishes us for the sin of our mother Eve, but though He
punishes us, He loves us, and we are His children. He knows what is best
for us here and hereafter."

"He certainly is looking to my _future_ good, if at all," sighed
Yolanda. "But I do believe in God's goodness, mother, and I am sure He
will save me. Holy Virgin! how helpless a woman is." She began to weep
afresh, and the duchess tried to soothe her.

"I believe I will pray to the Virgin. She may help us," said the girl,
in a voice that was plaintively childlike.

"It is a pious thought, Mary," answered the duchess.

Yolanda slipped from the divan to the floor, and, kneeling, buried her
face in her mother's lap. She prayed aloud:--

"Blessed Virgin, Thou seest my dire need. Help me. My prayer is short,
but Thou, Blessed Lady, knowest how fervent it is." The duchess crossed
herself, bowed her head, and murmured a fervent "Amen."

Yolanda rose from her prayer with a brighter face, and exclaimed almost
joyfully:--

"It was impious in me to doubt God's love, mother. I do believe I heard
the Blessed Virgin say, 'Help is at hand.' At least, I felt her
words, mother."

Yolanda moved about the room aimlessly for several minutes and by chance
stopped at the table. She started to take up the quill and ink-well to
carry them back to her parlor, which was in Darius (Darius was the name
of the tower that rose from the castle battlements immediately above
Castleman's House under the Wall), and her eyes rested on the small iron
box in which the letter to King Louis had been deposited. An unconscious
motive, perhaps it was childish curiosity, prompted her to examine the
missive. She took the pouch from the box and found it unsealed. She
listlessly drew out the missive and began to read, when suddenly her
face grew radiant with joy. She ran excitedly to her mother, who was
sitting on the divan, and exclaimed:--

"Oh! mother, the sweet Blessed Virgin has sent help!"

"In what manner, child?" asked the duchess, fondling Yolanda's hair
while the girl knelt beside her.

"Here, mother, here! Here is help; here in this very letter that was
intended to be my undoing. I cannot wait to thank the Holy Mother." She
crossed herself and buried her face in her mother's lap while she
thanked the Virgin.

"What is it, Mary, and where is the help?" asked Margaret, fearing the
girl's mind had been touched by her troubles.

"Listen!" cried Yolanda.

Her excitement was so great that she could hardly see the words the
bishop's scrivener had written.

"Listen, listen! Father in this letter first tells the king that
he--that is, father, you understand--is going to war with Lorraine--no,
with Bourbon. I am wrong again. Father is so constantly warring with
some one that I cannot keep track of his enemies--against the Swiss.
See, mother, it is the Swiss. He says he will go--will start--will begin
the war--no, I am wrong again. I can hardly see the words. He says he
will march at the head of a Burgundian army--poor soldiers, I pity
them--within three weeks. Ah, how short that time seemed when I heard
the letter read an hour ago. How long it is now! I wish he would march
to-morrow. Three long weeks!"

"But, my dear, how will that help you?" asked the duchess. "In what
manner will--"

"Do not interrupt me, mother, but hear what follows. Father says he will
march in three weeks and 'begs that His Majesty of France will _now_
move toward the immediate consummation of the treaty existing between
Burgundy and France looking to the marriage of the Princess,
Mademoiselle de Burgundy, with the princely Dauphin, son to King Louis.'
In that word 'now,' mother, lies my help."

"In what manner does help lie in the word 'now,' child?" asked the
duchess.

"In this, mother. 'Now' is a little word of three letters, n-o-v. See,
mother, the letter 'v' is not perfectly made. We will extend the first
prong upward, cross it and make 't' of it, using the second prong as a
flourish. Then the letter will read, 'begs that His Majesty of France
will _not_ move toward the immediate consummation of the treaty.' What
could be more natural than that my father should wish nothing of
importance to occur until after this war with Switzerland is over? The
French king, of course, will answer that he will not move in the matter,
and his letter will throw father into a delightful frenzy of rage. It
may even induce him to declare war against France, and to break off the
treaty of marriage when he returns from Switzerland. He has often done
battle for a lesser cause. It will at least prevent the marriage for the
present. It may prevent it forever."

"Surely that cannot be; King Louis will immediately explain the mistake
to your father," suggested Margaret.

"But father, you know, will not listen to an explanation if he fears it
may avert blows," returned Yolanda; "and he will be sure not to believe
King Louis whose every word he doubts. I shall enjoy King Louis' efforts
to explain. 'Hypocrite,' 'liar,' 'coward,' 'villain,' will be among
father's most endearing terms when speaking of His Majesty. If by chance
the error of 'not' for 'now' be discovered, the Bishop of Cambrai and
father will swear it is King Louis who has committed the forgery. But
should the worst come, our 't' will have answered its purpose, at least
for the present. The bishop may suffer, but I care not. He did his part
in bringing about this marriage treaty, bribed, doubtless, by King
Louis' gold. In any case, we have no reason to constitute ourselves the
bishop's guardians. We have all we can do to care for ourselves--and
more."

She sprang to her feet and danced about the room, ardently kissing the
letter she had so recently dreaded.

"Mary, you frighten me," said the duchess. "If we should be discovered
in changing this letter, I do believe your father would kill us. I do
not know that it would be right to make the alteration. It would be
forgery, and that, you know, is a crime punishable by death."

"_We_ shall not be discovered," said Mary. "You must have no part in
this transaction, mother. Father would not kill me; I am too valuable as
a chattel of trade. With my poor little self he can buy the good-will of
kings and princes. I am more potent than all his gold. This alteration
can be no sin; it is self-defence. Think how small it is, mother. It is
only a matter of the crossing of a 't.' But I care not how great the
crime may be; I believe, mother, I would commit murder to save myself
from the fate father wishes to put upon me."

"You frighten me, child," said Margaret. "I tremble in terror at what
you propose to do."

"I, too, am trembling, mother," sighed Yolanda, "but you must now leave
the room. You must know nothing of this great crime."

The girl laughed nervously and tried to push her mother from the room.

"No, I will remain," said the duchess. "I almost believe that you are
right, and that the Virgin has prompted you to do this to save
yourself."

"I know she has," answered Yolanda, crossing herself. "Now leave me. I
must waste no more time."

"I will remain with you, Mary," said Margaret, "and I will myself make
the alteration. Then I'll take all the blame in case we are discovered."

Margaret rose, walked over to the table, and took up the quill. She
trembled so violently that she could not control her hand.

"No, mother, you shall not touch it," cried Yolanda, snatching the
parchment from the countess and holding it behind her. "If I would let
you, you could not make the alteration; see, your hand trembles! You
would blot the parchment and spoil all this fine plan of mine. Give me
the quill, mother! Give me the quill!"

She took the quill from Margaret's passive hand and sat down at the
table. Spreading the missive before her, she dipped the quill in the
ink-well, and when she lifted it, a drop of ink fell upon the table
within a hair's breadth of the parchment.

"Ah, Blessed Virgin!" cried Yolanda, snatching the missive away from the
ink blot. "If the ink had fallen on the parchment, we surely had been
lost. I, too, am trembling, and I dare not try to make the alteration
now. What a poor, helpless creature I am, when I cannot even cross a 't'
to save myself. Blessed Virgin, help me once more!"

But help did not come. Yolanda's excitement grew instead of subsiding,
and she was so wrought upon by a nameless fear that she began to weep.
Margaret seated herself on the divan and covered her face with her
hands. Yolanda walked the floor like a caged wild thing, uttering
ejaculatory prayers to the Virgin. Again she took up the quill, but
again put it down, exclaiming:--

"I have it, mother! There is a friend of whom I have often told you--Sir
Karl. He will help us if I can bring him here in time. If father has
left the castle, I'll take the letter to my parlor and fetch Sir Karl.
He is a brave, strong old man and his hand will not tremble."

Yolanda left the room and soon returned.

"Father has gone to the marshes," she whispered excitedly. "We have
ample time if I can find Sir Karl."

She took the missive, the ink, and the quill to her parlor in Darius
Tower, and hurried to Castleman's house. How she got there I will
soon tell you.

She found Twonette sewing, and hastily explained her wishes.

"Run, Twonette, to The Mitre, and fetch me Sir Karl. I don't want Sir
Max to know that I am sending. I think Sir Max has gone falconing with
father; I pray God he has gone, and I pray that Sir Karl has not. Tell
Sir Karl to come to me at once. If he is not at the inn send for him. If
you love me, Twonette, make all haste. Run! Run!"

Twonette's haste was really wonderful. When she found me her cheeks were
like red roses, and she could hardly speak for lack of breath. For the
first and last time I saw Twonette shorn of her serenity.

The duke had not invited me to go hawking, and fortunately I had stayed
at home cuddling the thought that Yolanda was the Princess Mary, and
that my fair Prince Max had found rare favor in her eyes.

"Yolanda wants you at my father's house immediately," said Twonette,
when I stepped outside the inn door. "The need is urgent beyond
measure." Whereupon she courtesied and turned away. Twonette held that
words were not made to be wasted, so I asked no questions. I almost ran
to Castleman's house, and was taken at once to a large room in the
second story. It was on the west side of the house immediately against
the castle wall. The walls of the room were sealed with broad oak
panels, beautifully carved, and the west end of the apartment--that next
the castle wall--was hung with silk tapestries. When I entered the room
I found Yolanda alone. She hurriedly closed the door after me and spoke
excitedly:--

"I am so glad Twonette found you, Sir Karl. I am in dire need. Will you
help me?"

"I will help you if it is in my power, Yolanda," I answered. "You can
ask nothing which I will not at least try to do."

"Even at the risk of your life?" she asked, placing her hand upon my
arm.

"Even to the loss of my life, Yolanda," I replied.

"Would you commit an act which the law calls a crime?" she asked,
trembling in voice and limb.

"I would do that which is really a crime, if I might thereby serve you
to great purpose," I answered. "God often does apparent evil that good
may come of it. An act must be judged as a whole, by its conception, its
execution, and its result. Tell me what you wish me to do, and I will do
it without an 'if'--God giving me the power."

"Then come with me."

She took my hand and led me to the end of the room next the castle
wall. There she held the draperies to one side while she pushed back one
of the oak panels. Through this opening we passed, and the draperies
fell together behind us. After Yolanda had opened the panel a moment of
light revealed to me a flight of stone steps built in the heart of the
castle wall, which at that point was sixteen feet thick. When Yolanda
closed the panel, we were in total darkness. She took my left hand in
her left and with her right arm at my back guided me up the long, dark
stairway. While mounting the steps, she said:--"Now, Sir Karl, you have
all my great secrets--at least, they are very great to me. You know who
I am, and you know of this stairway. No one knows of it but my mother,
uncle, aunt, Twonette, and my faithful tire-woman, Anne. Even my father
does not know of its existence. If he knew, he would soon close it. My
grandfather, Duke Philip the Good, built it in the wall to connect his
bedroom with the house of his true friend, burgher Castleman. Some day
I'll tell you the story of the stairway, and how I discovered it. My
bedroom is the one my grandfather occupied."

The stairway explained to me all the strange occurrences relating to
Yolanda's appearances and disappearances at Castleman's house, and it
will do the same for you.

After we had climbed until I felt that surely we must be among the
clouds, I said:--

"Yolanda, you must be leading me to heaven."

"I should like to do that, Sir Karl," she responded, laughing softly.

"I would gladly give my life to lead you and Max to heaven," said I.

"Ah, Sir Karl," she answered gently, pressing my hand and caressingly
placing her cheek against my arm. "I dare not even think on that. If he
could and would take me, believing me to be a burgher girl, he would
truly lead me to heaven."

After a pause, while we rested to take a breath, I said: "What is it you
want me to do, Yolanda? I am unarmed."

"I shall not ask you to do murder, Sir Karl," she said, laughing
nervously. I fancied I could see a sparkle of mirth in her eyes as she
continued: "It is not so bad as that. Neither is there a dragon for you
to overthrow. But I shall soon enlighten you--here we are at the top of
the steps."

At the moment she spoke I collided with a heavy oak partition, in which
Yolanda quickly found a moving panel, and we entered a dimly lighted
room. I noticed among the furniture a gorgeously tapestried bed. A rich
rug, the like of which I had seen in Damascus, covered the floor. The
stone walls were draped with silk tapestry, and a jewelled lamp was
pendant from the vaulted ceiling. This was Yolanda's bedroom, and truly
it was a resting-place worthy of the richest princess in Christendom. I
felt that I was in the holy of holies. I found difficulty in believing
that the childlike Yolanda could be so important a personage in the
politics of Europe. She seemed almost to belong to me, so much at that
time did she lean on my strength.

Out of her sleeping apartment she led me to another and a larger room,
lighted by broad windows cut through the inner wall of the castle, which
at that point was not more than three or four feet thick. This was
Yolanda's parlor. The floor, like that of the bedroom, was covered with
a Damascus rug. The windows were closed by glass of crystal purity, and
the furniture was richer than any I had seen in the emperor's palace.

Yolanda led me to a table, pointed to a chair for me, and drew up one
for herself. At that moment a lady entered, whom Yolanda ran to meet.
The princess took the lady's hand and led her to me:--

"Sir Karl, this is my mother. As you already know, she is my stepmother,
but I forget that in the love I bear her, and in the sweet love she
gives to me."

I bent my knee before the duchess, who gave me her hand to kiss,
saying:--

"The princess has often spoken to me of you, Sir Karl. I see she has
crept into your heart. She wins all who know her."

"My devotion to Her Highness is self-evident and needs no avowal," I
answered, "but I take pleasure in declaring it. I am ready to aid her at
whatever cost."

"Has the princess told you what she wants you to do?" asked the duchess.

I answered that she had not, but that I was glad to pledge myself
unenlightened. I then placed a chair for the duchess, but, of course,
remained standing. Yolanda resumed her chair, and said:--

"Fetch a chair, Sir Karl. We are glad to have you sit, are we not,
mother?"

"Indeed we are," said Margaret. "Please sit by the table, and the
princess will explain why she brought you here."

"I believe I can now do it myself, mother," said Yolanda, taking a
folded parchment from its pouch.

"See, my hand is perfectly steady. Sir Karl has given me strength."

She spread the parchment before her, and, taking a quill from the table,
dipped it in the ink-well.

"I'll not need you after all, Sir Karl. I find I can commit my own
crime," she said, much to my disappointment. I was, you see, eager to
sin for her. I longed to kill some one or to do some other deed of
valiant and perilous villany.

Yolanda bent over the missive, quill in hand, but hesitated. She
changed her position on the chair, squaring herself before the
parchment, and tried again, but she seemed unable to use the quill. She
placed it on the table and laughed nervously.

"I surely am a great fool," she said. "When I take the quill in my hand,
I tremble like a squire on his quintain trial. I'll wait a moment, and
grow calm again," she added, with a fluttering little laugh peculiar to
her when she was excited. But she did not grow calm, and after she had
vainly taken up the quill again and again, her mother said:--

"Poor child! Tell Sir Karl what you wish him to do."

Yolanda did so, and then read the missive. I did not know the English
language perfectly, but Yolanda, who spoke it as if it were her mother
tongue, translated as she read. I had always considered the island
language harsh till I heard Yolanda speak it. Even the hissing "th" was
music on her lips. Had I been a young man I would doubtless have made a
fool of myself for the sake of this beautiful child-woman. When she had
finished reading the missive, she left her chair and came to my side.
She bent over my shoulder, holding the parchment before me.

"What I want to do, but can't--what I want you to do is so small and
simple a matter that it is almost amusing. I grow angry when I think
that I cannot do so little a thing to help myself; but you see, Sir
Karl, I tremble and my hand shakes to that extent I fear to mar the
page. I simply want to make the letter 't' on this parchment and I
can't. Will you do it for me?"

"Ay, gladly," I responded, "but where and why?" Then she pointed out to
me the word "nov" in the manuscript and said:--

"A letter 't,' if deftly done, will make 'not' instead of 'nov.' Do you
understand, Sir Karl?"

I sprang to my feet as if I had been touched by a sword-point. The
thought was so ingenious, the thing itself was so small and the result
was so tremendous that I stood in wonder before the daring girl who had
conceived it. I made no answer. I placed the parchment on the table,
unceremoniously reached in front of the duchess for the quill, and in
less time than one can count three I made a tiny ink mark not the
sixteenth part of an inch long that changed the destinies of nations for
all time to come.

I placed the quill on the table and turned to Yolanda, just in time to
catch her as she was about to fall. I was frightened at the sight of her
pale face and cried out:--

"Yolanda! Yolanda!"

Margaret quickly brought a small goblet of wine, and I held the princess
while I opened her lips and poured a portion of the drink into her
mouth. I had in my life seen, without a tremor, hundreds of men killed,
but I had never seen a woman faint, and the sight almost unmanned me.

Stimulated by the wine Yolanda soon revived; and when she opened her
eyes and smiled up into my face, I was so joyful that I fell to kissing
her hands and could utter no word save "Yolanda, Yolanda." She did not
at once rise from my arms, but lay there smiling into my face as if she
were a child. When she did rise she laughed softly and said, turning to
the duchess:--

"'Yolanda' is the name by which Sir Karl knows me. You see, mother, I
was not mistaken in deeming him my friend."

Then she turned suddenly to me, and taking my rough old hand in hers,
lifted it to her lips. That simple act of childish gratitude threw me
into a fever of ecstasy so great that death itself could have had no
terrors for me. He might have come when he chose. I had lived through
that one moment, and even God could not rob me of it.

Yolanda moved away from me and took up the parchment.

"Don't touch it till the ink dries," I cried sharply.

She dropped it as if it were hot, and the duchess came to me, and
graciously offered her hand:--

"I thank you with my whole heart, not only for what you have done, but
for the love you bear the princess. She is the one I love above all
others, and I know she loves me. I love those who love her. As the
French say, '_Les amies de mes amies sont mes amies.'_ I am a poor
helpless woman, more to be pitied than the world can believe. I have
only my gratitude to offer you, Sir Karl, but that shall be yours so
long as I live."

"Your Grace's reward is far too great for the small service I have
rendered," I replied, dropping to my knee. I was really beginning to
live in my sixtieth year. I was late in starting, but my zest for life
was none the less, now that I had at last learned its sweetness through
these two gracious women.

When we had grown more composed, Yolanda explained to me her hopes
regarding the French king's answer to the altered missive, and the whole
marvellous possibilities of the letter "t" dawned upon my mind. The
princess bent over the parchment, watching our mighty "t" while the ink
was drying, but the process was too slow for her, so she filled her
cheeks and breathed upon the writing. The color returned to her face
while I watched her, and I felt that committing a forgery was a small
price to pay for witnessing so beautiful a sight. Yolanda's breath soon
dried the ink, and then we examined my work. I had performed wonders.
The keenest eye could not detect the alteration. Yolanda, as usual,
sprang from the deepest purgatory of trouble to the seventh heaven of
joy. She ran about the room, singing, dancing, and laughing, until the
duchess warned her to be quiet. Then she placed her hand over her mouth,
shrugged her shoulders, walked on tiptoe, and spoke only in whispers.
Margaret smiled affectionately at Yolanda's childish antics and said:--

"I think the conspirators should disperse. I hope, Sir Karl, that I may
soon meet you in due form. Meantime, of course, it is best that we do
not know each other."

After examining the missive for the twentieth time, Yolanda placed it in
its pouch and turned to the duchess.

"Take it, mother, to the iron box, and I will lead Sir Karl back to
Uncle Castleman's," she said.

The duchess graciously offered me a goblet of wine, and after I had
drunk, Yolanda led me down the stairway to the House under the Wall.
While descending Yolanda called my attention to a loose stone in the
wall of the staircase.

"The other end of this stone," she said, "penetrates the wall of the
room that you and Sir Max occupied the night before you were liberated.
The mortar has fallen away, and it was here that I spoke to you and told
you not to fear."

Here was another supernatural marvel all too easily explained.



CHAPTER XVI

PARTICEPS CRIMINIS

That evening after supper Max and I walked over to Castleman's. The
evening was cool, and we were sitting in the great parlor talking with
Castleman and Twonette when Yolanda entered. The room was fully fifty
feet long, and extended across the entire front of the house. A huge
chimney was built at the east end of the room, and on either side of the
fireplace was a cushioned bench. A similar bench extended across the
entire west end of the room. When Yolanda entered she ran to me and
took my hand.

"Come, Sir Karl, I want to speak with you," she said.

She led me to the west end of the room, sat down on the cushioned bench,
and drew in her skirts that I might sit close beside her.

"I want to tell you about the missive, Sir Karl," she whispered,
laughing and shrugging her shoulders in great glee. "Mother returned it
to the box, and when I left you I hurried back and haunted the room,
fearing that some one might meddle with the parchment. Near the hour of
six o'clock father entered. I was sitting on the divan, and he sat down
in his great chair, of course taking no notice of me--I am too
insignificant for so great a person to notice, except when he is
compelled to do so. I was joyful in my heart, but I conjured up all my
troubles that I might make myself weep. I feared to show any change in
myself, so I sobbed aloud now and then, and soon father turned angrily
toward me. 'Are you still there?' he asked. 'Yes, father,' I answered,
as if trying to stifle my sobs. 'Are you really going to send that cruel
letter to King Louis?'"

"Cruel, indeed," I interrupted.

"Ah, yes! Well, father made no reply, and I went over to him and began
to plead. I should have wanted to cut my tongue out had I succeeded, but
I had little fear. Father is not easily touched by another's suffering,
and my tears only hardened his heart. Well, of course, he repulsed me;
and soon a page announced Byron the herald and the Bishop of Cambrai.
Father took the packet from the iron box, and put his fingers in the
pouch, as if he were going to take out the letter. He hesitated, and
during that moment of halting I was by turns cold as ice and hot as
fire. Finally his resolution took form, and he drew out the missive. I
thought I should die then and there, when he began to look it over. But
after a careless glance he put it back in the pouch, and threw it on
the table in front of the bishop. I could hardly keep from shouting for
joy. He had failed to see the alteration, and in case of its discovery,
he might now be his own witness against King Louis, should that crafty
monarch dare to alter my father's missive by so much as the crossing of
a 't'. If father hereafter discovers anything wrong in the letter, he
will be able to swear that King Louis was the evil doer, since father
himself put the letter in the pouch with his own hands. Father will
never suspect that a friend came to me out of far-away Styria to commit
this crime."

"I rejoice that I came," I said.

"And I," she answered. "I feared the bishop would read the letter, but
he did not. He tied the ribbon, softened the lead wafer over the lamp
flame, and placed it on the bow-knot; then he stamped it with father's
small seal. When it was finished I did not want to laugh for joy--when
one is very happy one wants to weep. That I could safely do, and I did.
The bishop handed the letter to Byron, and father spoke commandingly:
'Deliver the missive to the French king before you sleep or eat, unless
he has left Paris. If he has gone to Tours, follow him and loiter not.'
'And if he is not in Tours, Your Grace?' asked Byron. 'Follow him till
you find him,' answered father, 'if you must cross the seas.' 'Shall I
do all this without eating or sleeping?' asked Byron. Father rose
angrily, and Byron said: 'If Your Grace will watch from the donjon
battlements, in five minutes you will see me riding on your mission.
When Your Grace sees me riding back, it will be, I fear, the ghost
of Byron.'

"It was a wearisome task for me to climb the donjon stairs, but I knew
father would not be there to watch Byron set out, and I felt that one of
the family should give him God-speed; so alone, and frightened almost
out of my wits, I climbed those dark steps to the battlements, and gazed
after Byron till he was a mere speck on the horizon down toward Paris. I
pray God there may be a great plenty of trouble grow out of the crossing
of this 't'. Father is always saying that women were put on earth to
make trouble, so I'll do what little I can to make true His Lordship's
words." She threw back her head, laughing softly. "Is it not glorious,
Sir Karl?"

"Indeed, Princess--" I began, but she clapped her hand over my mouth and
I continued, "Indeed, Yolanda, the plan is so adroit and so effective
that it fills me with admiration and awe."

"I like the name Yolanda," said she, looking toward Max, who was sitting
with Twonette on one of the benches by the chimney.

"And I, too, like it," I responded. "I cannot think of you as the
greatest and richest princess in Europe."

"Ah, I wish I, too, could forget it, but I can't," she answered with a
sigh, glancing from under her preposterously long lashes toward Max
and Twonette.

"How came you to take the name Yolanda?" I asked.

"Grandfather wished to give me the name in baptism," she answered, "but
Mary fell to my lot. I like the present arrangement. Mary is the name of
the princess--the unhappy, faulty princess. Yolanda is my name. Almost
every happy hour I have ever spent has been as Yolanda. You cannot know
the wide difference between me and the Princess Mary. It is, Sir Karl,
as if we were two persons."

She spoke very earnestly, and I could see that there was no mirth in her
heart when she thought of herself as the Princess Mary; she was
not jesting.

"I don't know the princess," I said laughingly, "but I know Yolanda."

"Yes; I'll tell you a great secret, Sir Karl. The Princess Mary is not
at all an agreeable person. She is morose, revengeful, haughty, cold--"
here her voice dropped to a whisper, "and, Sir Karl, she lies--she lies.
While Yolanda--well, Yolanda at least is not cold, and I--I think she is
a very delightful person. Don't you?"

There was a troubled, eager expression in her eyes that told plainly she
was in earnest. To Yolanda the princess was another person.

"Yolanda is very sure of me," I answered.

"Ah, that she is," answered the girl. You see, this was a real case of
billing and cooing between December and May.

A short silence followed, during which Yolanda glanced furtively toward
Max and Twonette.

"You spoke of your grandfather," said I, "and that reminds me that you
promised to tell me the story of the staircase in the wall."

"So I did," answered Yolanda, haltingly. Her attention was at the other
end of the room.

"Do you think Twonette a very pretty girl?" she asked.

"Yes," I answered, surprised at the abrupt question. I caught a glimpse
of Yolanda's face and saw that I had made a mistake, so I continued
hastily: "That is--yes--yes, she is pretty, though not beautiful. Her
face, I think, is rather dollish. It is a fine creation in pink and
white, but I fear it lacks animation."

"Now for the stairway in the wall," said Yolanda, settling herself with
the pretty little movements peculiar to her when she was contented. "As
I told you, grandfather built it. Afterward he ceded Peronne to King
Louis, and for many years none of our family ever saw the castle. A few
years ago King Louis ceded it to my father. Father has never lived here,
and has visited Peronne only once in a while, for the purpose of
looking after his affairs on the French border. The castle is very
strong, and, being here on the border at the meeting of the Somme and
the Cologne, it has endured many sieges, but it has never been taken. It
is called 'Peronne La Pucelle.'

"Father's infrequent visits to the castle have been brief, and all who
have ever known of the stairway are dead or have left Burgundy, save the
good people in this house, my mother, my tire-woman, and myself. Three
or four years ago, when I was a child, mother and I, unhappy at Ghent
and an annoyance to father, came here to live in the castle, and--and--I
wonder what Sir Max and Twonette find to talk about--and Twonette and I
became friends. I love Twonette dearly, but she is a sly creature, for
all she is so demure, and she is bolder than you would think, Sir Karl.
These very demure girls are often full of surprises. She has been
sitting there in the shadow with Sir Max for half an hour. That, I say,
would be bold in any girl. Well, to finish about the staircase: my
bedroom, as I told you, was my grandfather's. One day Twonette was
visiting me, and we--we--Sir Max, what in the world are you and Twonette
talking about? We can't hear a word you say."

"We can't hear what you are saying," retorted Max.

"I wish you were young, Sir Karl," whispered Yolanda, "so that I might
make him jealous."

"Shall we come to you?" asked Max.

"No, no, stay where you are," cried Yolanda; then, turning to me, "Where
did I stop?"

"Your bedroom--" I suggested.

"Yes--my bedroom was my grandfather's. One day I had Twonette in to play
with me, and we rummaged every nook and corner we could reach. By
accident we discovered the movable panel. We pushed it aside, and
spurring our bravery by daring each other, we descended the dark
stairway step by step until we came suddenly against the oak panel at
the foot. We grew frightened and cried aloud for help. Fortunately,
Tante Castleman was on the opposite side of the panel in the oak room,
and--and--"

She had been halting in the latter part of her narrative and I plainly
saw what was coming.

"Tante Castleman was--was--It was fortunate she--was in--" She sprang to
her feet, exclaiming: "I'm going to tell Twonette what I think of her
boldness in sitting there in the dark with Sir Max. Her father is not
here to do it." And that was the last I heard of the stairway in
the wall.

Yolanda ran across the room to the bench by the fireplace and stamped
her foot angrily before Twonette.

"It--it is immodest for a girl to sit here in the deep shadow beside a
gentleman for hours together. Shame, Twonette! Your father is not here
to correct you."

Castleman had left the room.

Twonette laughed, rose hurriedly, and stood by Yolanda in front of Max.
Yolanda, by way of apology, took Twonette's hand, but after a few words
she coolly appropriated her place "in the deep shadow beside a
gentleman." A princess enjoys many privileges denied to a burgher girl.
When a girl happens to be both, the burgher girl is apt to be influenced
by the princess, as the princess is apt to be modified by the life of
the burgher girl. Presently Yolanda said:--

"Please go, Twonette, and mix a bowl of wine and honey. Yours is
delicious. Put in a bit of allspice, Twonette, and pepper, beat it well,
Twonette, and don't spare the honey. Now there's a good girl. Go
quickly, but don't hurry back. Haste, you know, Twonette, makes waste,
and you may spoil the wine."

Twonette laughed and went to mix the wine and honey. I walked back to
the other end of the room, and sat down by a window to watch the night
gather without. I was athrill with the delightful thought that, all
unknown to the world, unknown even to himself, Max, through my
instrumentality, was wooing Mary of Burgundy within fifty feet of where
I sat. He was not, of course, actively pressing his suit, but all
unconsciously he was taking the best course to win her heart forever and
ever. Now, with a propitious trick of fortune, my fantastic dream,
conceived in far-off Styria, might yet become a veritable fact. By what
rare trick this consummation might be brought about, I did not know, but
fortune had been kind so far, and I felt that her capricious ladyship
would not abandon us.

Yolanda turned to Max with a soft laugh of satisfaction, settled her
skirts about her, as a pleased woman is apt to do, and said
contentedly:--

"There, now!"

"Fraeulein, you are very kind to me," said Max.

"Yes--yes, I am, Sir Max," she responded, beaming on him. "Now, tell me
what you and Twonette have been talking about."

"You," answered Max.

A laugh gurgled in her throat as she asked:--

"What else?"

"I'll tell you if you will tell me what you and Sir Karl were saying,"
he responded.

"Ah, I see!" she exclaimed, clapping her hands gleefully. "You were
jealous."

"I admit it," he answered, so very seriously that one might have thought
him in earnest. "And you, Fraeulein?"

"I jealous?" she responded, with lifted eyebrows. "You are a vain man,
Sir Max. I was not jealous--only--only a tiny bit--so much--" and she
measured the extent of her jealousy on the pink tip of her little
finger. "I am told you were falconing with the Duke of Burgundy to-day.
If you go in such fine company, I fear we shall see little of you."

"There is no company finer than--than--" Max checked his tongue.

"Say it, Max, say it," she whispered coaxingly, leaning toward him.

"Than you, Fraeulein." The girl leaned back contentedly against the wall,
and Max continued: "Yes, his lordship was kind to me, and most gracious.
I cannot believe the stories of cruelty I hear of him. I have been told
that on different occasions he has used personal violence on his wife
and daughter. If that be true, he must be worse than the brutes of the
field, but you may be sure, Yolanda, the stories are false."

"Alas! I fear they are too true," responded the girl, sighing in memory
of the afternoon.

"He is a pleasing companion when he wishes to be," said Max, "and I hear
his daughter, the princess, is much like him."

"Heavens!" exclaimed Yolanda, "I hope she is like him only when he is
pleasing."

"That is probably true," said Max.

"There is where I am really jealous, Max--this princess--" she said,
leaning forward and looking up into his face with unmistakable
earnestness.

"Why?" asked Max, laughing.

"Because men love wealth and high estate. There are scores of men--at
least, so I have been told--eager to marry this princess, who do not
even know that she is not hideous to look upon and vixenish in temper.
They would take her gladly, with any deformity, physical, mental, or
moral, for the sake of possessing Burgundy."

"But I am told she is fair and beautiful," said Max.

"Believe it not," said Yolanda, sullenly. "Whoever heard of a rich
princess who was not beautiful? Anne and Joan, daughters of King Louis,
are always spoken of as paragons of beauty; yet those who know tell me
these royal ladies are hideous. King Louis has nicknamed Joan 'The
Owlet' because she is little, ill-shapen, and black. Anne is tall, large
of bone, fat, and sallow. He should name her 'The Giantess of Beaujeu';
and the little half-witted Dauphin he should dub 'Knight of the Princely
Order of House Rats.'"

That she was deeply in earnest there could be no doubt.

"I hope you do not speak so freely to others," said Max. "If His Grace
of Burgundy should hear of your words he might--"

"I hope you will not tell him," said Yolanda, laughing. "But this Mary!"
she continued, clinging stubbornly to the dangerous topic. "You came to
woo her estates, and in the end you will do so."

I am convinced that the girl was intensely jealous of herself. When she
feared that Max might seek the Princess Mary, her heart brooded over the
thought that he would do so for the sake of her wealth and her domains.

"I have told you once, Fraeulein, what I will do and what I will not. For
your own sake and mine I'll tell you no more," said Max.

"If I were a great princess," said Yolanda, pouting and hanging her
head, "you would not speak so sharply to me." Evidently she was hurt by
Max's words, though they were the expression, not of his displeasure,
but of his pain.

"Fraeulein, forgive me; my words were not meant to be sharp. It was my
pain that spoke. You torture me and cause me to torture myself," said
Max. "To keep a constant curb on one's ardent longing is exhausting. It
takes the heart out of a man. At times you seem to forget that my
silence is my great grief, not my fault. Ah, Fraeulein! you cannot
understand my longing and my struggle."

"I do understand," she answered plaintively, slipping her hand into his,
"and unless certain recent happenings have the result I hope for, you,
too, will understand, more clearly than you now do, within a very
short time."

She covered her face with her hands. Her words mystified Max, and he was
on the point of asking her to explain. He loved and pitied her, and
would have put his arm around her waist to comfort her, but she sprang
to her feet, exclaiming:--

"No, no, Little Max, let us save all that for our farewell. You will not
have long to wait."

Wisdom returned to Max, and he knew that she was right in helping him to
resist the temptation that he had so valiantly struggled against since
leaving Basel.

All that I had really hoped for in Styria, all our fair dreams upon the
castle walls of Hapsburg, had come to pass. Max had, beyond doubt, won
the heart of Mary of Burgundy, but that would avail nothing unless by
some good chance conditions should so change that Mary would be able to
choose for herself. In such case, ambition would cut no figure in her
choice. The chains of duty to family, state, and ancestry that bound
Max's feet so firmly would be but wisps of straw about Yolanda's slender
ankles. She would have no hesitancy in making her choice, were she free
to do so, and states might go hang for all she would care. Her heart was
her state. Would she ever be able to choose? Fortune had been kind to us
thus far; would she remain our friend? She is a coquette; but the heart
of a coquette, if truly won, is the most steadfast of all.

Twonette brought in the wine and honey; Castleman soon returned and
lighted the lamp, and we all sat talking before the small blaze in the
fireplace, till the great clock in the middle of the room chimed the
hour of ten. Then Yolanda ran from us with a hurried good night, and Max
returned with me to the inn.

       *       *       *       *       *

I cannot describe the joy I took from the recurring thought that I was
particeps criminis with the Princess of Burgundy in the commission of a
crime. At times I wished the crime had been greater and its extenuation
far less. We hear much about what happens when thieves fall out, but my
observation teaches me that thieves usually remain good friends. The
bonds of friendship had begun to strengthen between Yolanda and me
before she sought my help in the perpetration of her great crime. After
that black felony, they became like links of Milan chain. I shared her
secrets, great and small.

One day while Yolanda and I were sitting in the oak room,--the room from
which the panel opened into the stairway in the wall,--I said to her:--

"If your letter 't' causes a break with France, perhaps Max's
opportunity may come."

"I do not know--I cannot hope," she responded dolefully. "You see, when
father made this treaty with France, he was halting between two men in
the choice of a husband for me. One was the Dauphin, son to King Louis,
whom father hates with every breath he draws. The other was the Duke of
Gelders, whom father really likes. Gelders is a brute, Sir Karl. He kept
his father in prison four years, and usurped his domain. He is a
drunkard, a murderer, and a profligate. For reasons of state father
chose the Dauphin, but if the treaty with France is broken, I suppose it
will be Gelders again. If it comes to that, Sir Karl--but I'll not say
what I'll do. My head is full of schemes from morning till night, and
when I sleep my poor brain is a whirl of visions. Self-destruction,
elopement, and I know not what else appeal to me. How far is it to
Styria, Sir Karl?" she asked abruptly.

"Two or three hundred leagues, perhaps--it may be more," I answered. "I
do not know how far it is, Yolanda, but it is not far enough for your
purposes. Even could you reach there, Styria could not protect you."

"I was not thinking of--of what you suppose, Sir Karl," she said
plaintively.

"What were you thinking of, Yolanda?" I asked.

"Of nothing--of--of--a wild dream of hiding away from the world in some
unknown corner, at times comes to me in my sleep--only in my sleep, Sir
Karl--for in my waking hours I know it to be impossible. The only
pleasant part of being a princess is that the world envies you; but what
a poor bauble it is to buy at the frightful price I pay!"

"I have been on mountain tops," I answered philosophically, "and I find
that breathing grows difficult as one ascends."

"Ah, Sir Karl," she answered tearfully, "I believe I'll go upstairs and
weep."

I led her to the moving panel and opened it for her. Without turning her
face she held back her hand for me to kiss. Then she started up the dark
stone steps, and I knew that she was weeping. I closed the panel and sat
on the cushioned bench. To say that I would have given my old life to
win happiness for her but poorly measures my devotion. A man's happiness
depends entirely on the number and quality of those to whom his love
goes out. Before meeting Yolanda I drew all my happiness from loving one
person--Max. Now my source was doubled, and I wished for the first time
that I might live my life again, to lay it at this girl's feet.



CHAPTER XVII

TRIAL BY COMBAT

Max had waited until Calli's arm was mended to bring up the subject of
the trial by combat; but when he would have taken it before the duke, I
dissuaded him by many pretexts, and for a few days it was dropped. But
soon it was brought forward in a most unpleasant way. Max and I were in
the streets of Peronne one afternoon, and as we approached a group of
ragged boys, one of them cried out:--

"There is the fellow that challenged Count Calli, but won't fight him!"

Max turned upon the boy, caught him roughly by the shoulder, and asked
him where he got his information. The frightened boy replied that his
father was a hostler in the duke's stables, and had heard Count Calli
say that the fellow who had challenged him was "all gauntlet but
no fight."

We at once sought Hymbercourt, who, on being closely questioned,
admitted that the Italians in the castle were boasting that the stranger
who seemed so eager to fight when Calli's arm was lame, had lost his
courage now that the arm was healed.

Of course I was in a deal of trouble over this combat, and heartily
wished the challenge had never been given, though I had all faith in
Max's strength and skill. I, who had fought constantly for twenty years,
had trained him since his tenth birthday. I had not only trained him; I
had introduced him to the lists at eighteen--he being well grown, strong
of limb, and active as a wildcat. I waged him against a famous tilt-yard
knight, and Max held his own manfully, to his great credit and to my
great joy. The battle was a draw. My first great joy in life came a few
months afterward, when Max unhorsed this same knight, and received the
crown of victory from the queen of the lists.

But this combat would be a battle of death. Two men would enter the
lists; one would die in the course.

Max could, with propriety, announce his title and refuse to fight one so
far beneath him as Calli; but even my love for the boy and my fear of
the outcome, could not induce me to advise this. The advice would have
been little heeded had I given it. Max was not one in whose heart hatred
could thrive, but every man should have a just sense of injury received,
and no one should leave all vengeance to God. In Max's heart this sense
was almost judicial. The court of his conscience had convicted Calli of
an unforgivable crime, and he felt that it was his God-appointed duty to
carry out the sentence.

While I had all faith in Max's strength and skill, I also knew Calli to
be a strong, time-hardened man, well used to arms. What his skill was, I
could not say, but fame proclaimed it great. It would need to be great
to kill Max, boy though he was, but accidents are apt to happen in the
lists, and Calli was treacherous. I was deep in trouble, but I saw no
way out but for Max to fight. So, on the morning after our conversation
with Hymbercourt, Max and I sought admission to the duke's audience.
Charles had been privately told of our purpose and of course was
delighted at the prospect of a battle to the death.

A tournament with, mayhap, a few broken heads furnished him great
enjoyment; but a real battle between two men, each seeking the other's
life, was such keen pleasure to his savage, blood-loving nature, that
its importance could hardly be measured. Charles would have postponed
his war against the Swiss, I verily believe, rather than miss this
combat between Max and Calli.

The duke hurried through the business of the morning, and then turned
toward Max, signifying that his time had come. Max stepped before the
ducal throne, made his obeisance, and said:--

"May it please Your Highness to recall a wage of battle given by me some
weeks ago, in this hall and in this august presence, to one who calls
himself Count Calli? The cause of my complaint against the said Calli I
need not here rehearse. I have waited to repeat my defiance until such
time as Count Calli's arm should mend. I am told that he is now strong;
and, most gracious Lord Charles, Duke of Burgundy, I again offer my wage
of battle against this said knight and demand the trial by combat."

Thereupon he drew an iron gauntlet from his girdle and threw it clanking
on the stone floor. The gauntlet lay untouched for the space of a minute
or two; and the duke turned toward Calli and Campo-Basso, who stood
surrounded by their Italian friends at the right of the throne. After a
long pause Charles said:--

"Will Count Calli lift the gage, or shall we appoint a court of heraldry
to determine whether or no the combat shall take place?"

There was a whispered conversation among the Italians, after which
Campo-Basso addressed the duke.

"My most gracious lord," said he, "the noble Count Calli is loath to
lift the gage of an unknown man, and would make bold to say that he will
not do so until he is satisfied that he who so boastingly offers it is
worthy in blood, station, and knighthood to stand before him."

"For all that I will stand surety," said Hymbercourt, turning to the
duke and to Campo-Basso.

"The Lord d'Hymbercourt's honor is beyond reproach," replied the
Italian, "but Count Calli must have other proof."

Hymbercourt was about to make an angry reply, but he was silenced by the
duke's uplifted hand.

"We will ourself be surety for this knight," said Charles.

"We cannot gainsay Your Lordship's surety, most gracious duke," returned
Campo-Basso; "but with all meekness and humility we would suggest, with
Your Grace's permission, that when a man jeopards his life against
another he feels it his right to know at least his foe's name."

"Count Calli must content himself with knowing that the knight's name is
Sir Maximilian du Guelph. If Count Calli is right and his cause just,
God will give him victory, and the whole world shall know of his deed.
If he is in the wrong and his cause unjust, may God have mercy on
his soul."

A long pause ensued during which Max stood before the duke, a noble
figure of manly beauty worthy the chisel of a Greek sculptor. The
shutter in the ladies' gallery was ajar and I caught a glimpse of
Yolanda's pale, tear-stained face as she looked down upon the man she
loved, who was to put his life in peril to avenge her wrong.

"We are wasting time, Count Calli," spoke the duke. "Take up the gage or
demand a court. The charge made by Sir Max will certainly justify a
court of chivalry in ordering the combat. The truth or falsity of that
charge you and Sir Max must prove on each other's bodies. His desire to
remain unknown the court will respect; he has ample precedent. If you
are convinced by the word of our Lord d'Hymbercourt and myself that he
is of birth and station worthy to engage with you in knightly and mortal
combat, you can ask no more. Few courts of chivalry, I take it, would
hold the evidence inconclusive. Take up or leave the gage, Sir Count,
and do one or the other at once."

Calli walked over to the gauntlet and, taking it from the floor, held it
in his right hand while he bent his knee before the duke. He did not
look toward Max, but turned in the direction of his friends and tucked
the gauntlet in his girdle as he strode away.

"We appoint this day twelve days, on a Sunday afternoon, for the
combat," said Charles. "Then these men shall do their endeavor, each
upon the other; and may God give victory to the right!"

       *       *       *       *       *

That evening, as usual, Max and I were at Castleman's. Yolanda did not
come down till late, but when she came she clung silently to Max, and
there was a deep pathos in her every word and glance. As we left, I went
back and whispered hurriedly to her:--

"Have no fear, dear one. Our Max will take no harm."

My words were bolder than my heart, but I thought to comfort her.

"I have no fear, Sir Karl," she said, in a trembling voice. "There is no
man so strong and brave as Max. He is in the right, and God is just. The
Blessed Virgin, too, will help him. It would be sacrilege to doubt her.
I do not doubt. I do not fear, Sir Karl, but, oh, my friend--" Here she
buried her face on my breast and wept convulsively. Her words, too, had
been bolder than her heart--far bolder.

The brooding instinct in me--the faint remnant of mother love, that kind
Providence has left in every, good man's heart--longed to comfort her
and bear her pains. But I was powerless to help her, and, after all, her
suffering was wholesome. In a moment she continued, sobbing while
she spoke:--

"But--oh! if by any mischance Max should fall; if by treachery or
accident--oh, Sir Karl, my heart is breaking. Do not let Max fight."
These words were from her woman's heart. "His station will excuse him,
but if the affair has gone too far for him to withdraw, tell him to--to
leave Burgundy, to run away, to--"

"Yolanda, what are you saying?" I asked. "Would you not rather see him
dead than a coward?"

"No, no, Sir Karl," she cried, wrought almost to a frenzy by her grief
and fear. "No, no, anything but dead."

"Listen to reason, Yolanda," I answered. "I, who love Max more than I
love the blood of my heart, would kill him with my own hand rather than
have cause to call him coward and speak the truth."

"No, no," she cried desperately, grasping my hand. "Do not let him
fight. Ah, Sir Karl, if you bear me any love, if my grief and unhappy
lot have touched your heart, even on the smallest spot, I pray you, do
this thing for me. Do not let Max fight with this Count Calli. If
Max falls--"

"But Max will not fall," I answered boldly. "He has overthrown better
men than Calli."

"Has he? Ah, tell me, has he? He is little more than a boy. I seem older
than he at times, and it is hard to believe what you say, though I know
he is strong, and that fear has no place in his heart. Tell me, whom has
he overthrown?"

"Another time, Yolanda," I responded soothingly, "but this I say now to
comfort you. Calli is no match for our Max. In the combat that is to
come, Max can kill him if he chooses, barring accidents and treachery.
Over and above his prowess, his cause, you know, is just, and for that
reason God will be with him."

"Yes, yes," sobbed Yolanda, "and the Virgin, too."

The Virgin was a woman in whom she could find a woman's sympathy. She
trusted God and stood in reverent awe of Him; but one could easily see
that the Virgin held her heart and was her refuge in time of trouble.
When I turned to leave she called me back, saying:--

"I have a mind to tell Max the truth--to tell him who I am."

"I would not do so now," I answered, fearing, perhaps with good reason,
the effect of the disclosure on Max. "After the combat, if you wish to
tell him--"

"But if he should fall?" said the girl, beginning to weep again and
clinging desperately to my arm. "If he should fall, not knowing who
I am?"

"Max will not fall, Yolanda. Dismiss that fear from your heart."

My bold words served a double purpose. They at least partially satisfied
Yolanda, and they strengthened me.

Of course Max and I at once began to prepare for the combat. The charger
we had captured from the robbers on the Rhine now came to our hand as if
sent by Providence. He was a large, active horse, with limbs like steel.
He was an intelligent animal, too, and a good brain is almost as
valuable in a horse as in a man. He had evidently borne arms all his
life, for when we tried him in the tilt-yard we found him trained at
every point.

There was no heavy plate at the Peronne armorer's large enough for Max,
so Hymbercourt dropped a hint to Duke Charles, and His Grace sent two
beautiful suits to our inn. One was of Barcelona make, the other an old
suit which we judged had come from Damascus. I tried the latter with my
sword, and spoiled a good blade. Although the Damascus armor was too
heavy by a stone, we chose it, and employed an armorer to tighten a few
nuts, and to adjust new straps to the shoulder plates and arm pieces.

We caused lists to be built outside the walls, and Max worked eight
hours a day to harden himself. He ran against me, against our squires,
who were lusty big fellows, and now and then against Hymbercourt, who
was a most accomplished knight.

Yolanda was prone to coax Max not to fight, and her fear showed itself
in every look and gesture. Her words, of course, could not have turned
him, but her fears might have undermined his self-confidence. So I
pointed out to her the help he would get from encouragement, and the
possible hurt he would take were her fears to infect him. After my
admonition, her efforts to be cheerful and confident almost brought
tears to my eyes. She would sing, but her song was joyless. She would
banter Max and would run imaginary courses with him, taking the part of
Calli, and always falling dead at Max's feet; but the moment of
relaxation brought a haunting, terrified expression to her eyes. The
corners of her sweet mouth would droop, effacing the cluster of dimples
that played about her lips, and the fair, childish face, usually so
joyful, wore the mask of grief. For the first time in her life real
happiness had come, not within her grasp, but within sight; and this
combat might snatch it from her.

Once when I was helping Max to buckle on his armor for a bout at
practice, he said:--

"Yolanda seems to treat this battle as a jest. She laughs and banters me
as if it were to be a justing bout. I wonder if she really has a heart?"

"Max, I am surprised at your dulness," I said. "Do you not see her
manner is assumed, though her fear is small because of her great faith
in your prowess?"

"I'll try to deserve her faith," answered Max.

       *       *       *       *       *

When at last the day arrived, Max was in prime condition. At the inn we
carefully adjusted the armor and fitted it on him. One of our squires
led the charger, carefully trapped, to the lists, which had been built
in an open field outside the town, west of the castle.

Max and I, accompanied by Hymbercourt and two other friends, rode down
to Castleman's, and Max entered the house for a few minutes. Yolanda had
told him that she would not be at the lists, and Max felt that it were
better so.

Twonette and her father had gone to the lists when we reached the House
under the Wall, but Yolanda and Frau Kate were awaiting us. There was a
brief greeting and a hurried parting--tearful on Yolanda's part. Then we
rode around to the Postern and entered the courtyard of the castle.
Crossing the courtyard, we passed out through the great gate at the
keep, and soon stood demanding admission to the lists.

The course was laid off north and south, the sun being in the southwest.
The hour of battle was fixed at four o'clock, and the combat was to
continue till sundown, if neither champion fell before that time. The
pavilion for the duke and the other spectators was built at the west
side of the false lists--a strip of ground ten feet wide, extending
entirely around the true lists, but separated from it by a barrier or
railing three feet high.

It was an hour after we left Castleman's house before Max and I entered
the false lists. As I expected, the princess was sitting in the pavilion
with her father and Duchess Margaret. A veil partly concealed her
features, and when Max rode down the false lists to make his obeisance
before the duke and the duchess, he could not know that the white face
of Yolanda looked down upon him. I was sorry to see the princess in the
pavilion, because I knew that if an untoward fate should befall Max, a
demonstration would surely follow in the ducal gallery.

At the gate of the true lists, Max was met by a priest, who heard his
oath, and by a herald, who read the laws and the agreement relating to
the combat. A court of heraldry had decided that three lances should be
broken, after which the champions, if both alive, should dismount and
continue the fight with battle-axes of whatever weight they might
choose. If either knight should be disabled, it was the other's right
to kill him.

After Max had entered the true lists the gates were closed, and
Hymbercourt, myself, and our squires stood outside the barrier at the
north end of the false lists,--the north being Max's station on
the course.

Max sat his charger, lance in rest; Calli waited in the south, and these
two faced each other with death between them.

When all was ready the heralds raised their banners, and the duke gave
the word of battle. There was a moment of deep silence, broken by the
thunder of tramping hoofs, as horses and men rushed upon each other.
Calli and Max met in mid-course, and the din of their contact was like
the report of a cannon. Each horse fell back upon its haunches; each
rider bent back upon his horse. Two tough yule lances burst into a
hundred splinters. Then silence ensued, broken after a moment by a storm
of applause from the pavilion.

The second course was like the first, save that Max nearly unhorsed
Calli by a marvellous helmet stroke. The stroke loosened Calli's helmet
by breaking a throat-strap, but neither he nor his friends seemed to
notice the mishap, and the third course was begun without remedying it.
When the champions were within ten yards of each other, a report like
the discharge of an arquebuse was heard, coming apparently from beneath
the pavilion. I could not say whence the report came--I was too intent
upon the scene in the lists to be thoroughly conscious of happenings
elsewhere--but come it did from somewhere, and Max's fine charger
plunged forward on the lists, dead. Max fell over his horse's head and
lay half-stunned upon the ground.

Above the din rose a cry, a frantic scream, that fairly pierced my
heart. Well I knew the voice that uttered it. The people in the pavilion
rose to their feet, and cries of "Treachery! treachery!" came from all
directions. Calli was evidently expecting the shot, for just before it
came he reined in his horse, and when Max fell the Italian instantly
brought his charger to a standstill and began to dismount with all the
speed his heavy armor would permit. When safely down, he unclasped his
battle-axe from the chain that held it to his girdle and started toward
Max, who was lying prone upon the ground. Cries of "Shame! shame!" came
from the pavilion, but no one, not even the duke, dared to interfere; it
was Calli's right to kill Max if he could.

I had covered my eyes with my hand, thinking that surely the boy's hour
had come. I removed my hand when I heard the scream, and I have thanked
God ever since for prompting me to do that little act, for I saw the
most beautiful sight that my eyes have ever beheld. Calli had reached
his prostrate foe and was standing over him with battle-axe uplifted to
deal the blow of death. At that same moment Yolanda sprang from the
duke's side, cleared the low railing in front of the ducal box, and
jumped to the false lists six or eight feet below. Her gown of scarlet
and gold shone with dazzling radiance in the sunlight.

Calli was facing the pavilion, and Yolanda's leap probably attracted his
attention. However that may have been--perhaps it was because of Calli's
haste, perhaps it was the will of God--the blow fell short, and Calli's
battle-axe, glancing from Max's helmet, buried itself in the hard
ground. While Calli was struggling to release his axe, Yolanda cleared
the low barrier of the true lists, sped across the intervening space
like a flash of red avenging flame, and reached Max not one second too
soon, for Calli's axe was again uplifted. She fell upon Max, and had the
axe descended she would have received the blow. Calli stepped back in
surprise, his heel caught on the toe of Max's iron boot, he fell prone
upon his back, and the weight of his armor prevented him from rising
quickly. The glancing blow on Max's helmet had roused him, and when he
moved Yolanda rose to her knees beside him.

"Let me help you," she cried, lifting Max's mailed hand to her shoulder;
Max did so, and by help of the frail girl he drew himself to his knees
and then to his feet. Meantime, Calli was attempting to rise. I can
still see the terrible picture. Calli's panting horse stood near by with
drooping head. Max's charger lay quivering in the convulsions of death.
Calli, whose helmet had dropped from his head when he fell, lay resting
on his elbow, half risen and bareheaded. Max stood deliberately taking
his battle-axe from his girdle chain, while Yolanda still knelt at his
feet. Battle-axe in hand, Max stepped toward Calli, who had risen to his
knees. The expression on the Italian's face I shall never forget. With
bared head and upturned face he awaited the death that he knew he
deserved. Max lifted his battle-axe to give the blow. I wondered if he
would give it. He lowered the axe, and a shout went up from the
pavilion:--

"Kill him! Kill him!"

He lifted the axe again, and a silence like the hush of death fell upon
the shouting audience. Again Max hesitated, and I distinctly heard
Yolanda, who was still upon her knees, whisper:--

"Kill him! Kill him!"

Then came the shouts of a thousand voices, thrilling me to the marrow:--

"Kill him! Kill him!" and I knew that if I were standing in Max's shoes,
Calli would die within a moment. I also remember wondering in a flash of
thought if Max were great enough to spare him. Again the battle-axe came
slowly down, and the din in the pavilion was deafening:--

"Kill him! Kill him!"

Again the battle-axe rose; but after a pause, Max let it fall to the
ground behind him; and, turning toward the girl, lifted her with his
mailed hands to her feet. When she had risen Max looked into her face,
and, falling back a step, exclaimed in a voice hushed by wonder:--

"Yolanda!"

His words coming to the girl's ears, like a far-away sound, from the
cavernous recesses of his helmet, frightened her.

"No, no, my name is not Yolanda. You are mistaken. You do not know me.
I--I am the princess. You do not know me."

Her words were prompted by two motives: she wished to remain unknown to
Max, and she feared lest her father should come to know that a great
part of her life was spent as a burgher girl. Her hands were clasped at
her breast; her face was as pale as a gray dawn; her breath came in
feeble gusts, and her words fell haltingly from her lips. She took two
steps forward, her eyes closed, and she began to fall. Max caught her
and lifted her in his strong arms. On great occasions persons often do
trivial acts. With Yolanda held tightly in the embrace of his left arm,
Max stooped to the ground and picked up his battle-axe with his right
hand. Then he strode to the north end of the lists and placed the girl
in my arms.

"Yolanda," he said, intending to tell me of his fair burden.

"No, Max," I whispered, as he unfastened his helmet. "Not Yolanda, but
the princess. The two resemble each other greatly."

"Yolanda," returned Max, doggedly. "I know her as a mother knows her
first-born."

Not one hundred seconds had elapsed between the report of the arquebuse
and the placing of Yolanda in my arms; but hardly had Max finished
speaking when a dozen ladies crowded about us and took possession of the
unconscious princess.

After the duke had set on foot a search for the man who had fired the
arquebuse, he came down to the false lists and stood with Hymbercourt
and me, discussing the event. Campo-Basso said that his heart was "sore
with grief," and the Italians jabbered like monkeys. One of them wanted
to kiss Max for sparing his kinsman's life, but Max thrust him off with
a fierce oath. The young fellow was in an ugly mood, and if I had been
his enemy, I would sooner have crossed the path of a wounded lion than
his. He was slow to anger, but the treachery he had encountered had
raised all of Satan that was in him. Had he stood before Calli thirty
seconds longer that treacherous heart would have ceased to beat.

While we were standing in the false lists, speaking with the duke, an
Italian approached Max, bowed low, and said:--

"The noble Count Calli approaches to thank you for your mercy and to
extol your bravery."

Max turned his head toward the centre of the course, and saw Calli
surrounded by a crowd of jabbering friends who were leading him toward
us. A black cloud--a very mist from hell--came over Max's face. He
stooped and took his battle-axe from the ground. I placed my hand on the
boy's arm and warningly spoke his name:--

"Max!" After a pause I continued, "Leave murder to the Italians."

Max uttered a snort of disdain, but, as usual, he took my advice. He
turned to Campo-Basso, still grasping his battle-axe:--

"Keep that fellow away from me," he said, pointing toward Calli. "My
merciful mood was brief. By the good God who gave me the villain's life,
I will kill him if he comes within reach of my axe."

An Italian ran to the men who had Calli in charge, and they turned at
once and hurried toward the south gate of the lists. All this action was
very rapid, consuming only a minute or two, and transpired in much less
time than it requires to tell of it.

While our squires were removing Max's armor, I heard the duke say:--

"Arrest Calli. We will hold him until the shot is explained. If he was
privy to it, he shall hang or boil." Then the duke, placing his hand on
Max's shoulder, continued: "You are the best knight in Christendom, the
bravest, the most generous, and the greatest fool. Think you Calli would
have spared you, boy?"

"I am not Calli, my lord," said Max.

"You certainly are not," returned the duke.

Visions of trouble with France growing out of Yolanda's "t," and of a
subsequent union between Max and the princess, floated before my mind,
even amidst the din that surrounded me. Taking the situation by and
large, I was in an ecstasy of joy. Max's victory was a thousand
triumphs in one. It was a triumph over his enemy, a triumph over his
friends, but, above all, a triumph over himself. He had proved himself
brave and merciful, and I knew that in him the world had a man who would
leave it better and happier than he found it.

Calli was arrested and brought to the duke's presence. Of course he
denied all knowledge of the shot that had killed Max's horse. Others
were questioned, including three Italian friars wearing cassocks and
cowls, who bore a most wondrous testimony.

"Your Grace," said one of the friars, "we three men of God can explain
this matter that so nearly touches the honor of our fair countryman, the
noble Count Calli."

"In God's name, do so," exclaimed the duke.

"This is the explanation, most gracious lord. When the third course was
preparing, we three men of God prayed in concert to God the
Father,"--all the friars crossed themselves,--"God the Son, and God the
Holy Ghost, to save our countryman, and lo! our prayers were most
graciously answered; for, noble lord, at the moment when this most
valiant knight was about to kill our friend, we each heard a report
marvellously like to the discharge of an arquebuse. At the same instant
a fiery shaft descended from the palm of a mighty hand in the heavens,
and the horse of this valiant and most generous knight, Sir Max, fell
dead, stricken by the hand of God."

I had no doubt that this absurd explanation would be received with
scorn and derision; but the friar knew his audience, and I did not. His
statement was not really accepted as true, but it was not cast aside as
utterly absurd. I saw that it might easily be believed.

"Why did not others see your wondrous shaft from the hand of God?" I
asked.

"Because, noble lord," answered the friar, "our eyes were looking upward
in prayer. All others were fixed on this worldly combat."

The explanation actually seemed to explain.

Just then the men who had been sent out to seek evidence concerning the
shot returned, and reported that no arquebuse was to be found. The lists
were surrounded by an open field, and a man endeavoring to escape would
have been seen.

"Did you search all places of possible concealment for an arquebuse?"
asked the duke.

"All, my lord," answered the men, who were Burgundians and to be
trusted.

Faith in the friars absurd story was rapidly gaining ground, and several
of the Italian courtiers, emboldened by encouragement, affirmed upon
their hope of salvation and their knightly honor that they, too, had
witnessed the descent of the shaft from heaven. Touch a man on his
superstitions, and he will believe anything you tell him. If you assure
him that an honest friend has told you so and so, he may doubt you, but
tell him that God tells you, and he will swallow your hook. If you would
have your lie believed, tell a great one.

Charles, more credulous and gullible than I should have believed, turned
to Hymbercourt. He spoke reverentially, being, you understand, in the
presence of a miracle:--

"This is a wondrous happening, my lord," said the duke.

"If it happened, Your Grace," returned Hymbercourt, "it certainly was
marvellous."

"Don't you think it did happen? Do not you believe that this bolt came
from the hand that was seen by these worthy friars?" asked the duke.

"The shaft surely did not come from a just God, my lord," returned
Hymbercourt.

"Whence, then, did it come?" asked the duke. "No arquebuse has been
found, and a careful scrutiny has been made."

"Aye!" echoed the friars. "Whence else did it come? Whence, my Lord
d'Hymbercourt, whence?"

I had noticed our Irish servant Michael standing near one of the friars.
At this point in the conversation the Irishman plucked me by the sleeve,
pointed to a friar, and whispered a word in my ear. Like a stone from a
catapult I sprang on the friar indicated, threw him to the ground, and
drew from under his black cassock an arquebuse.

"Here is the shaft from God!" I exclaimed, holding the arquebuse up to
view. Then I kneeled on the prostrate wretch and clutched his throat.
Anger gathered in my brain as lightning clusters about a mountain top. I
threw aside the arquebuse and proceeded to kill the canting mendicant. I
do not know that I killed him; I hope I did. I cannot speak with
certainty on that point, for I was quickly thrown away from him by the
avenging mob that rushed upon us and tore the fellow limb from limb. The
other friars were set upon by the populace that had witnessed the combat
from without the lists, and were beaten so unmercifully that one of them
died. Of the other's fate I know nothing, but I have my secret desires.

"Kill the Italians! Murder the assassins! Down with the mercenaries,"
cried the populace, who hated the duke's guard. The barriers were broken
down, and an interesting battle ensued. Surely the people got their full
satisfaction of blood and excitement that day. The Italians drew their
swords, but, being separated, they were at a disadvantage, though their
assailants carried only staves. I expected the duke to stop the fight,
but he withdrew to a little distance and watched it with evident
interest. My interest was more than evident; it was uproarious. I have
never spent so enjoyable a day. The fight raged after Max and I left,
and there was many a sore head and broken bone that night among the
Italian mercenaries of the Duke of Burgundy.

When Max and I returned to Peronne, we went to the noble church of St.
Jean and offered our humble gratitude. Max, having thrown off his anger,
proposed to buy a mass for the dead friar; but I was for leaving him in
purgatory where he belonged, and Max, as usual, took my advice.

On reaching the inn, Max cried loudly for supper. His calmness would
have done credit to a hardened warrior. There was at least one hardened
warrior that was not calm. I was wrought almost to a pitch of frenzy and
could not eat, though the supper prepared by Grote was a marvel in its
way. The old man, usually grave and crusty, after the manner of German
hosts, actually bent his knee to Max and said:--

"My poor house has entertained kings and princes; but never has it had
so great an honor as that which it now has in sheltering you."

That night the duke came with Hymbercourt to honor us at the inn. Each
spoke excitedly and warmly. Max seemed to be the only calm man
in Peronne.



CHAPTER XVIII

YOLANDA OR THE PRINCESS?

After these adventures we could no longer conceal Max's identity, and it
soon became noised about that he was Count of Hapsburg. But Styria was
so far away, and so little known, even to courtiers of considerable
rank, that the fact made no great stir in Peronne. To Frau Kate and
Twonette the disclosure came with almost paralyzing effect.

The duke remained with us until late in the night, so Max and I did not
go over to the House under the Wall. When we were alone in our room,
Max said:

"The Princess Mary has treated me as if I were a boy."

"She saved your life," I returned. "Calli would certainly have killed
you had she not acted quickly."

"I surely owe her my life," said Max, "though I have little knowledge of
what happened after I fell from my horse until I rose to my feet by her
help. I complain of her conduct in deceiving me by pretending to be a
burgher maiden. It was easily done, Karl, but ungraciously."

"You are now speaking of Yolanda," I said, not knowing what the wishes
of the princess might be in regard to enlightening him. He looked at me
and answered:--

"Karl, if a woman's face is burned on a man's heart, he knows it when he
sees it."

"You know Yolanda's face, certainly, and I doubt if Yolanda will thank
you for mistaking another's for it."

"I have made no mistake, Karl," he answered.

"I am not so sure," I replied. "The girl you placed in my arms seemed
taller by half a head than Yolanda. I noticed her while she was
standing. She seemed rounder and much heavier in form; but I, too,
thought she was Yolanda, and, after all, you may be right."

"I caught but a glimpse of her face, and that poorly," said Max. "It is
difficult to see anything looking downward out of a helmet; one must
look straight ahead. But the glimpse I had of her face satisfied me."

"Do not be too sure, Max. I once took another man for myself." Max
laughed. "I am sure no one could have told us apart. He was the Pope,
and I his cousin. Yolanda herself once told me--I believe she has also
told you--that she has the honor to resemble the princess."

I did not wish to lie to Max, and you will note that I did not say the
princess was not Yolanda. Still, I wished him to remain ignorant upon
the important question until Yolanda should see fit to enlighten him. I
was not sure of her motive in maintaining the alias, though I was
certain it was more than a mere whim. How great it was I could not know.
Should she persist in it I would help her up to the point of telling Max
a downright falsehood. There I would stop.

We spent two evenings at Castleman's, but did not see Yolanda. On the
first evening, after an hour of listlessness, Max hesitatingly asked:--

"Where is Yo--that is, the princess has not been here this evening."

"The princess!" exclaimed Frau Kate. "No, she has not been here this
evening--nor the duke, nor the king of France. No titled person, Sir
Count, save yourself, has honored us to-day. Our poor roof shelters
few such."

"I mean Yolanda," said Max. Good-natured Frau Kate laughed softly, and
Twonette said, with smiling serenity:--

"Yolanda's head will surely be turned, Sir Count, when she hears you
have called her the princess. So much greatness thrust upon her will
make it impossible for us to live with her."

"She rules us all as it is, sweet soul," said Castleman.

"Yolanda is ill upstairs, Sir Count," said Frau Kate. "She wanted to
come down this evening, but I commanded otherwise. Twonette, go to her.
She will be lonely."

Twonette rose, courtesied, and departed. This splendid bit of acting
almost made me doubt that Yolanda was the princess, and it shook Max's
conviction to its very foundation.

I wish to warn you that the deception practised upon Max by Yolanda will
seem almost impossible, except on the hypothesis that Max was a very
simple fellow. But the elaborate scheme designed and executed by this
girl, with the help of the Castlemans and myself,--all of whom Max had
no reason to distrust,--would have deceived any man. Max, though simple
and confiding where he trusted,--judging others' good faith by his
own,--was shrewd for his years, and this plan of Yolanda's had to be
faultless, as it really was, to mislead him.

On the morning of the fourth day after the trial by combat, Yolanda made
her appearance at Castleman's, looking pale and large-eyed. Max and I
had walked down to the House under the Wall before going to dine with
the duke. Soon after we were seated Twonette left, and within five
minutes Yolanda came suddenly upon us in the long parlor. She ran to
Max, grasping both his hands. For a moment she could only say, "Max,
Max," and he remained silent.

When she recovered control of her voice she said:--

"How proud we are of you, Sir Max! Uncle and aunt have told me how
brave and merciful you were at the combat."

"Your Highness surely knows all that can be told on the subject, since
you were there and took so active a part in the adventure," answered
Max. "It is I who should be grateful, and I am. I owe my life to Your
Highness."

"You honor me too much, Sir Max," said Yolanda, looking up with surprise
and bowing low before him. "Let my elevation be gradual that I may grow
accustomed to my rank. Make of me first a great lady, and then, say, a
countess. Afterward, if I prove worthy, call me princess."

"We will call you a princess now, Your Highness," answered Max, not to
be driven from his position.

"Very well," cried Yolanda, with a laugh and a sweeping courtesy. "If
you will have me a princess, a princess I'll be. But I will not be the
Princess of Burgundy. She saved your life, and I am jealous of her--I
hate her."

She stamped her foot, and the angry gleam in her eyes was genuine. There
could be no doubt that she was jealous of the princess. I could not
account for her unique attitude toward herself save on one hypothesis:
she was, even to herself, two distinct persons. Yolanda was a happy
burgher girl; Mary was a wretched princess. The two widely differing
conditions under which she lived were so distinct, and were separated by
a gulf so broad, that to her the princess and the burgher girl were in
no way related.

With change of condition there was always a change of person. The
unhappy princess would come down the stairway in the wall; God would
kindly touch her, and lo! she was transformed into a happy Yolanda.
Yolanda's light feet would climb the dark stone steps, and God was once
more a frowning father. There must also be added Max's share in her
emotions. Perhaps she feared the princess as she would have dreaded a
rival; since she longed with all her passionate, tender heart to win Max
for herself only. It would have been an easy task, as princess, to win
him or any man; but if she could win him as Yolanda, the burgher girl,
the prize would be the greatest that could fall to a woman.

The true situation dawned upon me as I stood before Max and watched
Yolanda. I thought of her adroit plan to make trouble with France, and I
wanted to shout for joy. The impossible might yet happen. God's hand
surely had been in our journeying to Burgundy. Max might yet win this
peerless princess, this priceless girl; or, reverse it if you choose,
Mary of Burgundy might win this peerless man, and might at the same time
attain the unutterable joy of knowing that she had won him for her
own sake.

Perhaps her yearning had led her to hope that he might in the end be
willing to fling behind him his high estate for the sake of a burgher
girl. Then, when she had brought him to that resolution, what a joy it
would be to turn upon him and say: "I am not a burgher girl. I am
Princess Mary of Burgundy, and all these things which you are willing to
forego for my sake you may keep, and you may add to them the fair land
of Burgundy!" Her high estate and rich domains, now the tokens of her
thralldom, would then be her joy, since she could give them to Max.

While these bright hopes were filling my mind, Yolanda was playing well
her part. She, too, evidently meant to tell no lies, though she might be
forced to act many. Her fiery outburst against the Princess of Burgundy
astonished Max and almost startled me. Still, the conviction was strong
with him that Yolanda was Mary.

"If--if you are the princess, Yo--Yolanda," said Max, evidently
wavering, "it were ungracious to deceive me."

"But I _am_ the princess," cried Yolanda, lifting her head and walking
majestically to and fro. "Address me not by that low, plebeian
name, Yolanda."

She stepped upon a chair and thence to the top of the great oak table
that stood in the middle of the room. Drawing the chair up after her she
placed it on the table, and, seating herself on this improvised throne,
lifted one knee over the other, after the manner of her father. She
looked serenely about her in a most amusing imitation of the duke, and
spoke with a deep voice:--

"Heralds!"

No one responded. So she filled the office of herald herself and cried
out:--

"Oyez! Oyez! The princess now gives audience!" Resuming the ducal voice,
she continued, "Are there complaints, my Lord Seneschal?" A pause. "Ah,
our guards have stolen Grion's cow, have they? The devil take Grion and
his cow, too! Hang Grion for complaining." A pause ensues while the duke
awaits the next report. "The Swiss have stolen a sheepskin? Ah, we'll
skin the Swiss. My Lord Seneschal, find me fifty thousand men who are
ready to die for a sheepskin. Body of me! A sheepskin! I do love
it well."

Yolanda's audience was roaring with laughter by this time, but her face
was stern and calm.

"Silence, you fools," she cried hoarsely, but no one was silent, and Max
laughed till the tears came to his eyes. Yolanda on her throne was so
irresistibly bewitching that he ran to her side, grasped her about the
waist, and unceremoniously lifted her to the floor. When she was on her
feet, he raised her hand to his lips and kissed it, saying:--

"Yolanda or Mary--it's all one to me. There is not another like you in
all the world."

She drew herself up haughtily: "Sir, this indignity shall cost you
dear," and turning her back on him she moved away three or four paces.
Then she stopped and glanced over her shoulder. His face had lost its
smile, and she knew the joke had gone far enough; so the dimples began
to cluster about the quivering corners of her mouth, the long black
lashes fell for a moment, a soft radiance came to her eyes, and
she asked:--

"Which shall it be, Sir Max, Yolanda or the princess?"

"Yolanda," cried Max, huskily, while he held out his hands to her. Quick
as the movement of a kitten, she sprang to him and allowed his arms to
close about her for one brief moment. While one might count ten she
rested her head on his breast, but all too quickly she turned her face
to his and whispered:--

"Are you sure? Is it Yolanda?"

"Yes, yes, Yolanda. Thank God! it is Yolanda," he replied, placing his
hand before his eyes. She slipped from his arms, and Max, too deeply
moved to speak, walked over to the window and looked out upon the
frowning walls of Peronne the Impregnable. There was irony for you!

Probably Max was not sure that Yolanda was Yolanda; but, if he was,
conviction had come through his emotions, and it might be temporary. He
was, however, soon to be convinced by evidence so cunningly constructed
that he was compelled to abandon the testimony of his own eyes and
accept that of seemingly incontestable facts.

"We are to dine privately with the duke at twelve o'clock," I said,
while Max was standing at the window.

"Indeed?" asked Yolanda, arching her eyebrows; surprise and displeasure
evident in her voice. She glanced at the great clock, then looked toward
Max, and said:--

"It lacks but thirty minutes of that time now, and I suppose I shall
soon lose you."

Max turned from the window, saying:--"Yes, we must go, or we shall be
late."

"Does the princess dine with you?" asked Yolanda.

"I do not know, Fraeulein," answered Max. Thereupon Yolanda left the room
pouting, and we took our departure, having promised to return to
Castleman's after dinner.

We went at once to the castle; and thirty minutes after leaving
Castleman's we were in the small parlor or talking room of Duchess
Margaret, where the famous letter to the king of France had been signed
by Duke Charles. When we entered we saw the duchess and the princess
sitting upon the divan. The duke was in his great oak chair, and
Hymbercourt and two other gentlemen were standing near by. I made
obeisance to Charles on bended knee. He rose to receive Max, and, after
a slight hesitation, offered his hand, saying:--

"You are welcome, my Lord Count."

A year had passed since I had heard Max addressed as "my lord," and the
words sounded strange to my ears. I turned quickly toward the princess,
expecting to see a sparkle of mirth in her eyes, but Yolanda's ever
present smile was wholly lacking. The countenance of the princess was
calm, immovable, and expressionless as a mirror. I could hardly believe
that it was the radiant, bedimpled, pouting face I had just seen at
Castleman's, and for the first time in all my experience I realized that
I was face to face with a dual personality. The transformation was so
complete that I might easily have been duped had I not known beyond
peradventure the identity of Yolanda and Mary.

After the duke had kindly saluted Max, His Grace presented us to the
ladies. When the princess rose to receive us, she seemed at least half a
head taller than Yolanda. Her hair was hidden, and her face seemed
fuller. These changes were probably wrought by her head-dress, which
towered in two great curved horns twelve inches high. She wore a long,
flowing gown that trailed two yards behind her, and this added to her
apparent height. Max had seen Yolanda only in the short skirts of a
burgher girl's costume.

When Max rose, after kneeling before the princess, he gazed into her
eyes, but the glance he received in return was calm and cold. Yolanda
was rich, red wine, hot and strong; the princess was cold, clear water.
The one was exhilarating, at times intoxicating; the other was chilling.
The face of the princess, though beautiful, was touched with disdain.
Every attitude was one of dignity and hauteur. Her words, though not
lacking intelligence, were commonplace, and her voice was that of her
father's daughter. Yolanda was a girl; the princess was a woman. The
metamorphosis was complete, and Max's hallucination, I felt sure, would
be cured. The princess's face was not burned on his heart, whatever
might be true of Yolanda's. I can give no stronger testimony to the
marvellous quality of the change this girl had wrought in herself than
to tell you that even I began to doubt, and wonder if Yolanda had
tricked me. The effect on Max was instantaneous. After looking into the
princess's face, he said:--

"I wish to thank Your Highness for saving my life. I surely had been
killed but for your timely help."

The situation bordered on the ridiculous.

"Do not thank me, my Lord Count," responded the princess, in cold and
measured words. "I should have done the same for any man in your hard
case. I once saved a yokel in like manner. Two common men were fighting
with staves. One would have beaten the other to death had I not entered
the lists and parted them. Father feared a similar exhibition on my part
and did not wish me to attend your combat. He says now that I shall go
to no more. I certainly made myself ridiculous. I enjoy a fair fight,
whatever the outcome may be, but I despise murder. My act was entirely
impersonal, Sir Count."

"On the lists I addressed Your Highness as 'Yolanda,'" said Max. "Your
resemblance to one whom I know well was so great as to deceive me."

I was eager to take Max away from the dangerous situation, but I could
not. The duke, the courtiers, and myself had moved several paces from
Max and the princess. I, however, kept my eyes and ears open to what
occurred between them.

"Yes," returned the princess, haughtily, "I remember you so addressed
me. I have heard of the person to whom you refer. She is, I believe, a
niece of one Castleman, a burgher of Peronne. I know Castleman's
daughter--a simple creature, with no pretence of being else. It has been
said that--what do they call her? Yolanda, I believe--resembles me in
some respects and is quite proud of the distinction. I am sure I thank
no one for the compliment, since she is a low creature, but I accept
your apology, my Lord Count."

"I do not apologize, Your Highness," answered Max, in tones of equal
hauteur. "You probably do not know the lady of whom you speak."

The princess seemed to increase by an inch or two in stature as she drew
herself up, and answered:--

"Of course we do not know her."

"If you knew her, Your Highness would apologize," retorted Max.

Seeing the angry color mounting to his face, I stepped to his side and
joined in the conversation. Presently dinner was announced, and I
rejoiced when we parted from the princess. Turning our faces toward the
ladies, we moved backward from the room, and went with the duke to the
dinner hall.

Compared with Castleman's daily fare, the duke's dinner was almost
unpalatable. We had coarse beef, coarse boar's meat, coarse bread,--not
black, but brown. Frau Kate's bread was like snow. The sour wine on the
duke's table set our teeth on edge, though it was served in huge golden
goblets studded with rare gems. At each guest's plate was a jewelled
dagger. The tablecloth was of rich silk, soiled by numberless stains.
Leeks and garlic were the only vegetables served.

Nothing of importance occurred at the table, but after dinner the duke
abruptly offered Max a large sum of gold to accompany him to
Switzerland. Max thanked His Grace and said he would give him an answer
soon. The duke urged an early reply, and Max said:--

"With Your Grace's permission we will attend to-morrow's morning
audience, and will make our answer after Your Lordship has risen."

Charles acquiesced, and we soon left the castle. The duke, as I have
already told you, was very rich. Hymbercourt once told me that he had
two hundred and fifty thousand gold crowns in his coffers at Luxembourg.
That was probably more than the combined treasuries of any two kings in
Europe could show. Max and I were short of money, and the sum that the
duke offered seemed enormous. Neither Max nor his father, Duke
Frederick, had ever possessed as much money at one time.

While we were leisurely walking across the courtyard toward the Postern,
three ladies and two gentlemen, accompanied by outriders and pages
carrying falcons, rode by us and passed out through the Postern. We
followed, and overtook them at the town end of the drawbridge, where
they had halted. When we came up to them, we recognized the duchess and
the princess. The duchess bowed smilingly, but the princess did not
speak, though she looked in our direction.

The cavalcade turned to the left, and went up a narrow street toward
Cambrai Gate, evidently bound for the marshes. Max and I walked straight
ahead toward the Cologne bridge, intending, as we had promised, to go
back to Castleman's. Two hundred yards up the street I glanced back, and
saw a lady riding through the Postern, back to the castle. I knew at
once that the princess had returned, and I was sure of meeting
Yolanda,--sweet, smiling, tender Yolanda,--at the dear old House under
the Wall. I did not like the princess; she was cold, haughty,
supercilious, and perhaps tinged with her father's cruelty. I longed
ardently for Yolanda to come out of her skin, and my heart leaped with
joy at the early prospect.

I was right in my surmise. Yolanda's sweet face, radiant with smiles and
soft with dimples, was pressed against the window-pane watching for us
when we crossed the moat bridge at Castleman's door.

"To see her face again is like coming back to heaven; isn't it, Karl?"
said Max.

Yolanda ran to the door and opened it.

"I am glad you did not stay with her," she said, giving a hand to Max
and to me, and walking into the room between us. She was like a child
holding our hands.

I had seen the world and its people in all its phases, and I prided
myself on my shrewdness, but without my knowledge of the stairway in the
wall, I would have sworn that Yolanda had played a trick on me by
leading me to believe that she was the Princess Mary. Even with full
knowledge of all the facts, I found myself doubting. It is small cause
for wonder, therefore, that Max was deceived.

"Uncle is at the shop," said Yolanda. "Tante is at a neighbor's, and
Twonette, of course, is asleep. We three will sit here on this bench
with no one to disturb us, and I shall have you both all to myself. No!
There! I'll sit between you. Now, this is delightful."

She sat between us, crossed her knees--an unpardonable crime, Frau Kate
would have thought--and giving a hand to Max and to me, said
contentedly:--

"Now, tell me all about it."

I was actually on the point of beginning a narrative of our adventures,
just as if she did not already know them,--so great was the spell she
had thrown over me,--when Max spoke:--

"We had a poor dinner, but a kind host, therefore a fine feast. The duke
has asked us to go to Switzerland with him. Judging by the enormous sum
he offers for our poor services, he must believe that he will need no
other help to conquer the Swiss."

"Yes--yes, that is interesting," said Yolanda, hastily, "but the
princess--tell me of her."

"She is a very beautiful princess," answered Max.

"Yes--I suppose she is," answered Yolanda. "I have it dinned into my
ears till I ought to believe it; but tell me of her manner, her
conversation, her temper. What of them?"

"She is a most beautiful princess," answered Max, evidently intending to
utter no word against Her Highness, though as a matter of fact he did
not like her at all. "I am sure she deserves all the good that fame
speaks of her."

Yolanda flung our hands from her, sprang to her feet, and faced us
angrily.

"That's the way with all men. A rich princess, even though she be a cold
devil, is beautiful and good and gentle and wise and true and quick of
wit. Men care not what she is if her house be great and rich and
powerful. If her domains are fat and broad, she deserves 'all the good
that fame speaks of her.' She can win no man for herself. She cannot
touch a man's heart; she can only satisfy his greed. You went to the
castle, Sir Max, to see this princess. You want Burgundy. That is why
you are in Peronne!"

The girl's passionate outburst was sincere, and showed me her true
motive for deceiving Max. Her plan was not the outgrowth of a whim; it
was the result of a tremendous motive conceived in the depths of her
soul. She had found the man she loved, and was taking her own way to win
him, if she could, for herself. She judged all men by the standard that
she had just announced. She would never believe in the love of a man who
should woo her as Princess Mary of Burgundy.

Her words came near accomplishing more than she desired. When she
stopped speaking, Max leaned forward and gently took her hand.

"Yolanda, this princess is nothing to me, and I swear to you that I will
never ask her to marry--"

A frightened gleam came to the girl's eyes when she understood the oath
that Max was about to take, and she quickly placed her hand over his
mouth. Max was swearing too much.

"You shall not make that oath, Little Max," she said. "You shall not say
that you will never marry her, nor shall you say that you will never
marry any one else. You must remain free to choose the right wife when
the right time comes. You must tread the path that God has marked out
for you. Perhaps it leads to this princess; no one can tell. If so, you
must accept your fate, Sir Max." She sighed at the mere thought of so
untoward a fate for Max.

"I need make no oath not to marry the princess," answered Max. "She is
beyond my reach, even though I were dying for love of her."

"And you are not dying for love of her, are you?" asked Yolanda, again
taking the seat between Max and me.

"No," he responded.

"Nor for love of any woman?" she asked, looking toward Max.

"I'll not say that," he replied, laughing softly, and taking her hands
between his.

"No, no," she mused, looking in revery out the window. "No, we will not
say that."

I have always been as unsentimental as a man well can be, but I believe,
had I been in Max's place, I should have thrown away my crown for the
sake of Yolanda, the burgher girl. I remember wondering if Max would be
strong enough finally to reach the same conclusion. If he should be, my
faith in Yolanda's powers led me to believe that she would contrive a
plan to make him her husband, despite her father, or the devil and
all his imps.

There is a power of finesse in the feminine mind that no man may fully
compass, and Yolanda, in that respect, was the flower of her sex. That
she had been able to maintain her humble personality with Max, despite
the fact that she had been compelled to meet him twice as princess,
proved her ability. Of course, she had the help of good old Castleman
and his sweet Frau Kate, serene Twonette, and myself; but with all this
help she probably would have failed without the stairway in the wall.

When we left Castleman's, I did not bring up the subject of Mary and
Yolanda. Max walked silently beside me until we had nearly reached the
inn, when he said:--

"I am almost glad I was wrong, Karl. I would not have Yolanda other
than she is. At times, wild thoughts suggest themselves to me; but I am
not so weak as to give way to them. I drive them off and clench my
teeth, determined to take the misery God doles out to me. I am glad we
are soon to leave Burgundy. The duke marches in three days, and it is
none too soon for me."

"Shall not we return to Burgundy?" I asked. "I want you to see Paris and
Brussels, and, if possible, London before we return to Styria. Don't you
think it best that we come back to Peronne after this war?"

"You are right, Karl; we must come back," he answered. "I do not fear
Yolanda. I am not weak."

"I sometimes wonder if we know our strength from our weakness," I
suggested. "There is doubtless much energy wasted by conscientious men
striving in the wrong direction, who fancy they are doing their duty."

"You would not have me marry Yolanda?" asked Max, a gleam of light
coming to his eyes.

"I do not know, Max," I responded. "A rare thing has happened to you.
You have won a marvellous love from a marvellous woman. She takes no
pains to conceal it. She could not hide it if she would. What you feel,
only you and God know."

"Only God," cried Max, huskily. "Only God. I cannot measure it."

"My dear boy," said I, taking his arm, "you are at a point where you
must decide for yourself."

"I have decided," returned Max. "If my father and mother were not
living, I might--I might--bah! there is but one life for me. I am
doomed. I make myself wretched by resistance."

"When we return to Peronne, you will know your mind," I answered
soothingly.

"I know my mind now," he answered. "I know that I would give half the
years of my life to possess Yolanda; but I also know the fate that God
has marked out for me."

"Then you know more than many a wise man thrice your age can boast,"
said I.

       *       *       *       *       *

The duke's armies had been gathering throughout Burgundy. Men had come
in great numbers to camp near Peronne, and the town was noisy with
martial preparations. Contrary to Hymbercourt's advice, the duke was
leaving Peronne Castle guarded by only a small garrison. Charles had
great faith in the strength of Peronne the Impregnable, and, although it
was near the French border, he trusted in its strength and in his treaty
with King Louis. He knew from experience that a treaty with Louis would
bind that crafty monarch only so long as it was to his interest to
remain bound; but Louis' interest in maintaining the treaty seemed
greater than Burgundy's, and Charles rested on that fact. Peronne was to
be left captained by the duchess and Mary, and garrisoned by five score
men-at-arms, who were either too old or too young to go to war.

Without discussing the duke's offer, Max and I decided to accept it,
though for different reasons. Max needed the gold; he also sniffed
battle, and wanted the excitement and the enterprise of war. I had all
his reasons, and still another; I wanted to give Yolanda time to execute
her plans.

The war with Switzerland would probably be short. Max would be with the
duke, and would, I hoped, augment the favor with which Charles already
honored him. Should Yolanda's letter make trouble with France, Duke
Charles might be induced, through his personal feelings, to listen to
Max's suit. If Charles returned from Switzerland victorious--and no
other outcome seemed possible--he would no longer have reason to carry
out the marriage treaty with France. It had been made largely for the
purpose of keeping Louis quiet while Charles was absent. Anything might
happen; everything might happen, while Max was with Charles in
Switzerland and Yolanda at home making trouble with France.

The next day, by appointment, we waited on the duke at the morning
audience. When we entered the great hall, the urgent business had been
transacted, and half a score of lords and gentlemen stood near the dais,
discussing some topic with the duke and with one another. We moved near
the throne, and I heard Charles say to Campo-Basso and Hymbercourt:--

"Almost three weeks have passed since our message to France, and we have
had no answer. What think you, gentlemen, of the delay?"

"His Majesty is not in Paris, or delays answering," said Hymbercourt.

"By the Host, if I could think that King Louis were holding Byron and
delaying an answer, I would change my plans and march on Paris rather
than on Switzerland."

"I fear, my lord," said Campo-Basso, with a sympathetic desire to make
trouble, if possible, "that His Majesty delays an answer while he frames
one that shall be elusive, yet conciliatory. King Louis, Your Grace
knows, thinks many times before each word he speaks or writes."

"If he has intentionally delayed this answer, I'll give him cause to
think many times _after_ his words," said Charles.

Conversations of like nature had occurred on several occasions since the
sending of the missive to Louis, and they offered the stormy duke
opportunity to vent his boastfulness and spleen. While Charles was
pouring out his wrath against his brother-in-law, Byron, the herald,
appeared at the door of the great hall. He announced himself, and, when
ordered to approach, ran to the dais, kneeled on the second step, and
placed a small sealed packet in the duke's hand.

"Did you find King Louis at Paris?" asked the duke, addressing Byron.

"I did, my lord."

"Paris is but thirty leagues distant, and you certainly have had
sufficient time since leaving us to journey across Europe and back. Did
not I command you to make haste?"

"You did, my lord," answered the herald. "King Louis put me off from day
to day, always promising me an answer, but giving it only yesterday
afternoon when the sun was half below the horizon."

Charles nervously broke the seals of the package, and attempted to read
the letter. He failed, and handed it to Campo-Basso, saying:--

"Read the missive. I already know its contents, but read, my lord,
read."

Campo-Basso read the letter.

"To Our Most Illustrious Brother Charles Duke of Burgundy, and Count of
Charolois:--

"We recommend us and send Your Grace greeting. We are anxious to
pleasure our noble brother of Burgundy in all things, and heartily
desire the marriage between our son and the illustrious Princess of
Burgundy, but we shall not move toward it until our said noble brother
shall return from Switzerland, nor will we do aught to distract his
attention from the perilous business he now has on hand. We pray that
the saints may favor his design, and would especially recommend that our
noble brother propitiate with prayers and offerings the holy Saint
Hubert. We, ourselves, have importuned this holy saint, and he has
proved marvellously helpful on parlous occasions.

"Louis, R."

The duke's anger was terrible and disgusting to behold. When his
transports of rage allowed him to speak, he broke forth with oaths too
blasphemous to write on a white page.

"The fawning hypocrite!" he cried. "He thinks to cozen us with his cheap
words. The biting insult in his missive is that he takes it for granted
that we are so great a fool as to believe him. Even his recommendation
of a saint is a lie. The world knows his favorite saint is Saint Andrew.
King Louis spends half his time grovelling on his marrow bones before
that saint and the Blessed Virgin. He recommends to us Saint Hubert,
believing that his holy saintship will be of no avail."

Charles was right. Sir Philip de Comines, seneschal to King Louis,
afterward told me that His Majesty, in writing this letter to the Duke
of Burgundy, actually took counsel and devoted much time and thought to
the choice of a baneful or impotent saint to recommend to his "noble
brother of Burgundy." Disaster to Louis had once followed supplication
to Saint Hubert, and the king hoped that the worthy saint might prove
equally unpropitious for Charles. Yolanda's wonderful "t" was certainly
the most stupendous single letter ever quilled. Here were the
first-fruits of it.

"Were it not that these self-sufficient Swiss need to be blooded, I
would turn my army against France to-morrow," said the duke.

"And have Bourbon and Lorraine upon Your Lordship's back from the east,
Ghent rebelling in the north, and the Swiss pouring in from the south,"
interrupted Hymbercourt.

"You are certainly right, my Lord d'Hymbercourt," replied Charles,
sullenly. "They surround us like a pack of starved wolves, ready to
spring upon us the moment we are crippled. Burgundy stands alone against
all Europe."

"A vast treasure, my lord, attracts thieves," said Hymbercourt.
"Burgundy is the richest land on earth."

"It is, indeed it is," replied the duke, angrily, "and I have no son to
keep it after me. But France shall not have it; that I swear upon my
knighthood. Write to France, my Lord Bishop of Cambrai, and tell King
Louis that my daughter shall not marry his son. Waste no words, my Lord
Bishop, in what you call courtesy. We need no double meaning in our
missives."

Those who heard the duke's words knew that he was committing a costly
error, but no one dared to suggest as much. One might, with equal
success, have flung soft words at a mad bull. Truly that "t"--but I will
speak of it no more, though I have a thrill of joy and mirth even now
when I think of it.

After many explosions, the duke's pent-up wrath found vent, and began to
subside. Espying Max and me he called us to the throne.

"Have you concluded to join us in our little holiday excursion against
these mountain swine?" asked His Grace, addressing us.

"We have, my lord. We shall be proud to serve under the banner of so
brave a prince," I answered.

"'We have' would have been sufficient, Sir Karl," answered the duke,
still surly from the dregs of his wrath. "We hear so many soft words
from France that we despise them in the mouths of honest men."

The duke then turned to his seneschal, De Vergy, and spoke in tones that
were heard all over the room:--

"My lord, Maximilian, Count of Hapsburg, and Sir Karl de Pitti have
consented to join our banners. Enroll them in places of honor, my Lord
Seneschal. See that they are supplied with horses, accoutrements, and
tents for themselves and their squires, and direct my Lord Treasurer to
pay to them upon demand a sum of money of which he shall be duly
notified."

When the duke stopped speaking, a murmur of approval ran through the
audience--though the Italians had no part in it. The murmur grew
clamorous and soon a mighty shout filled the vaulted roof:--

"Long life to the noble Count of Hapsburg! Burgundy and Styria forever!"

To me, the words seemed delightfully prophetic. Soon afterward the
audience was dismissed, and Max and I had the great honor of being asked
to join the duke's council. A council to the Duke of Burgundy was indeed
a veritable fifth wheel. He made his own plans and, right or wrong,
clung to them. He would, on rare occasions, listen to Hymbercourt,--a
man of few words, who gave advice as if he were lending a crown,--but
the suggestions of others antagonized him.

The question before the council this morning was: Should the duke's army
carry provisions, or should it take them from the countries through
which it was to pass? Charles favored the latter course, and it was
agreed upon. The people of non-belligerent states should be paid for the
provisions that were taken; that is, theoretically they should be paid.
The Swiss should furnish provision, gratis, and that doubtless would be
terribly practical.

On each of the three evenings intervening between the day of this
council and the departure of the army, we saw Yolanda at Castleman's.
She was always waiting when we arrived. She had changed in many
respects, but especially in her attitude regarding Max. She was kind and
gentle, but shy. Having dropped her familiar manner, she did not go near
him, but sat at a distance, holding Twonette's hand, and silently but
constantly watching him, as if she were awaiting something. Her eyes, at
times, seemed to be half-indignant interrogation points. At other times
I could see in them doubt, waiting, and hope--hope almost tired
with yearning.

It was no small love that she wanted from Max. She had hoped--perhaps I
should say she had longed with little hope--that he would, for the sake
of the burgher girl, Yolanda, be willing to turn his back on his family
and his land. But now he was leaving, and her dream was about to close,
since Max would probably never come back to her.

Not the least painful of Yolanda's emotions was the knowledge that she
could insure Max's return by telling him that she was the Princess of
Burgundy. But she did not want this man whom she loved so dearly, and
who, she knew, loved her, if she must win him as princess. She was
strangely impelled to reject a reprieve from a life of wretchedness,
unless it came through the high court of love.

Max, in speaking to me about his return, had wavered many times. One day
he would return; the next, he would swallow the bitter draught fate had
in store for him. He was a great, honest soul, and to such the call of
duty is compelling.

On the evening before our departure we went to sup with Castleman. On
our way down to the House under the Wall, Max said:--

"Karl, my duty is clear. I must not return to Peronne. If I do, I fear I
shall never leave it."

I did not answer; but I had resolved that he should return, and I
intended that my resolution should become a fact. Yolanda was not
present at supper, but she appeared soon after we had risen. We sat
under the dim light of a lamp in the long room. Yolanda was on the
cushioned bench in the shadow of the great chimney, silently clasping
Twonette's hand. Twonette, of course, was silent and serene. Castleman
and I talked disjointedly, and Max sat motionless, gazing through the
window into the night. After greeting us, Yolanda spoke not a word; but
ever in the deep shadow I could see the glow of her eyes looking toward
Max. That his heart was filled with a great struggle, I knew, and I
believed that Yolanda also knew.

We had many preparations to make before our departure next morning at
dawn, so after an hour Max and I rose to leave. Twonette, leaving
Yolanda, came to us, and the Castlemans all gave us a hearty God-speed.
Yolanda sat wordless in the shadow. I went to her and gave her my hand.

"Farewell, Fraeulein," I said.

Max followed me closely, and I stepped aside to make way for him. The
girl rose and stood irresolute before him. I went to the Castlemans, who
were standing at a distance.

"Fraeulein--" said Max. But she interrupted him, extending her hands,
which he clasped.

"Have you no word for me, Sir Max?" she asked pathetically, tears
springing to her eyes. "Are you coming back to me? Have you the right to
come into my life as you have done, and to leave me? Does God impose but
one duty on you--that of your birth?"

"Ah, Fraeulein," answered Max, huskily, "you know--you know what I
suffer."

"I surely do know," she responded, "else I would not speak so plainly.
But answer me, Sir Max. Answer my question. It is my right to know upon
what I may depend. Will you come back to me?"

The imperious will of the princess had come to the rescue of Yolanda,
the burgher girl.

Max paused before speaking, then grasped her hands fiercely and
answered:--

"Before God, Fraeulein, I will come back to you, if I live."

Yolanda sank upon the cushioned bench, covered her face with her hands,
and the pent-up storm of sobs and tears broke forth as Max and I passed
out the door.

Yolanda had won.



CHAPTER XIX

MAX GOES TO WAR

The next morning at dawn our army marched. Although Duke Charles would
not encumber himself with provisions for his men, he carried a vast
train of carts filled with plate, silk tents, rich rugs, and precious
jewels; for, with all his bravery, this duke's ruling passion was the
love of display in the presence of foreigners.

I shall not give the story of this disastrous war in detail; that lies
in the province of history, and my story relates only to Max and
Yolanda, and to the manner in which they were affected by the results
of the war.

We marched with forty thousand men, and laid siege to the city of
Granson, in the district of Vaud. The Swiss sent ambassadors under a
flag of truce, begging Charles to spare them, and saying, according to
my friend Comines, that "there were among them no good prisoners to
make, and that the spurs and horses' bits of the duke's army were worth
more money than all the people of Switzerland could pay in ransoms, even
if they were taken." Charles rejected all overtures, and on the third of
March the brave little Swiss army sallied against us, "heralding their
advances by the lowings of the Bull of Uri and the Cow of Unterwalden,
two enormous instruments which had been given to their ancestors by
Charlemagne."

God was against Charles of Burgundy, and his army was utterly routed by
one of less than a fourth its size. I was with Charles after the battle,
and his humiliation was more pitiful than his bursts of ungovernable
wrath were disgusting. The king of France, hoping for this disaster, was
near by at Lyons.

A cruel man is always despicable in misfortune. Charles at once sent to
King Louis a conciliatory, fawning letter, recanting all that he had
said in his last missive from Peronne, and expressing the hope that His
Majesty would adhere to the treaty and would consent to the marriage of
Princess Mary and the Dauphin at once. In this letter Yolanda had no
opportunity to insert a disturbing "t." Louis answered graciously,
saying that the treaty should be observed, and that the marriage should
take place immediately upon the duke's return to Burgundy.

"We have already forwarded instructions to Paris," wrote King Louis,
"directing that preparations be made at once for the celebration of this
most desired union at the holy church of St. Denis. We wondered much at
Your Grace's first missive, in which you so peremptorily desired us not
to move in this matter till your return; and we wondered more at Your
Lordship's ungracious reply to our answer in which we consented to the
delay Your Grace had asked."

Well might King Louis wonder. Charles also wondered, and cursed the
stupidity of the Bishop of Cambrai, who had so "encumbered his letter
with senseless courtesy as to distort its meaning."

Charles despatched letters to Peronne and Ghent, ordering immediate
preparations for the marriage. As usual, poor Mary was not considered of
sufficient importance to receive notice of the event that concerned her
so vitally. Others would prepare her, as one might fatten a lamb for
slaughter. The lamb need not be consulted or even informed; the day of
its fate would be sufficient for it. I was in despair. Max, in his
ignorance, was indifferent.

After a short delay, the duke gathered his wrath and his army and laid
siege to the town of Morat, announcing his intention to give no quarter,
but to kill all, old and young, men, women, and children. The Swiss were
prepared for us. "The energy of pride was going to be pitted against the
energy of patriotism." Again disaster fell upon Charles. Thousands of
his army were slain, and thousands fled in hopeless rout. His soldiers
had never wanted to fight, and one man defending his hearth is stronger
than half a score attacking it.

The loss of this battle drove Charles back to Burgundy. With a few of
his train, including Max and myself, he retired to the Castle of La
Riviera. Here he learned that Rene, Duke of Lorraine, had mustered his
forces and had laid siege to Nancy, which city Charles had taken from
Duke Rene, some years before, and had garrisoned with Burgundians and
English. Upon hearing this unwelcome news, Charles began the arduous
task of collecting another army. He was compelled to leave the
neighborhood of Switzerland and fly to the rescue of Nancy.

The first of January found us before Nancy, but our arrival was three
days too late. The city had capitulated to Duke Rene. On the fifth of
January a battle was fought before Nancy, but Fortune had turned her
back for all and all on this cruel Duke of Burgundy and Count of
Charolois. The disasters at Granson and Morat were repeated. At
nightfall Charles could not be found. I supposed that he had escaped,
but the next morning his body was found by a washerwoman, frozen in the
ice of a pond. He had been killed through the machinations of
Campo-Basso. Duke Rene magnanimously gave Charles regal burial, and
dismissed his followers without ransom. You may be sure I was eager to
return to Peronne.

Fortune, in turning her back upon Charles, had turned her smiling face
toward Max. Her ladyship's smiles were too precious to be wasted, so we
made post-haste for Peronne, I spurred by one motive, Mary of Burgundy,
Max by another--Yolanda. His heart had grieved for her in castle, in
camp, and in din of battle. He had, unknown to me, formed a great and
noble resolution; and there was no horse swift enough to keep pace with
his desire when we started for Peronne.

I was the first to announce the duke's death. The dark news was given by
me to the duchess and the princess in Margaret's parlor. These poor
women tried to grieve, but they were not hypocrites, and they could not
weep. Each had received at Charles's hands only ill-usage and cruelty,
and in their hearts they must have felt relief at his death.

"It was sure to come," said Margaret. "The duke's bravery led him always
into danger. It is God's will, and it must be right."

The princess walked to the window, and said nothing, until I was about
to leave; then she turned to me nervously and asked:--

"Did--did Sir Max come with you?"

I looked at her in surprise, and glanced inquiringly toward the duchess.

"My mother knows all, Sir Karl," said the princess, reassuringly. "There
have been many things which I could not have done without her help. I
have made many rapid changes, Sir Karl, from a princess to a burgher
girl, and back again, and I should have failed without my mother's help.
I surely mystified you often before you knew of the stairway in the
wall. Indeed, I have often hurried breathless to Uncle Castleman's house
to deceive you. Mother invented a burgher girl's costume that I used to
wear as an under-bodice and petticoat, so, you see, I have been visiting
you in my petticoats. I will show you some fine day--perhaps. I have but
to unfasten a half-score of hooks, and off drops the princess--I am
Yolanda! I throw a skirt over my head, fasten the hooks of a bodice, don
my head-dress, and behold! the princess once more. Only a moment
intervenes between happiness and wretchedness. But tell me, Sir Karl,
have you ever told Sir Max who I am?"

"Never, Your Highness--"

"Yolanda," she interrupted, correcting me smilingly.

"Never, Yolanda," I responded. "He does not even suspect that you are
the princess. I shall be true to you. You know what you are doing."

"Indeed I do, Sir Karl," she replied. "I shall win or lose now in a
short time and in short skirts. If Max will wed me as Yolanda, I shall
be the happiest girl on earth. If not, I shall be the most wretched. If
he learns that I am the princess, and if I must offer him the additional
inducement of my estates and my domains to bring him to me, I shall not
see him again, Sir Karl, if I die of grief for it."

I knew well what she meant, but I did not believe that she would be
able to hold to her resolution if she were put to the test. I was,
however, mistaken. With all my knowledge of the girl I did not know
her strength.

We reached Peronne during the afternoon and, of course, went early the
same evening to Castleman's.

We were greeted heartily by the good burgher, his wife, and his
daughter. Twonette courtesied to Max, but when she came to me, this
serene young goddess of pink and white offered me her cheek to kiss. I,
who had passed my quasi-priestly life without once enjoying such a
luxury, touched the velvet cheek with my lips and actually felt a thrill
of delight. Life among the burghers really was delicious. I tell you
this as a marked illustration of the fact that a man never grows too old
to be at times a fool. Twonette slipped from the room, and within
fifteen minutes returned. She went directly to Max and said:--

"Some one is waiting for you in the oak room above."

She pointed the way, and Max climbed the stairs two steps at a time. I
thought from his eagerness he would clear the entire flight at one
bound. To his knock a soft voice bade him enter. The owner of the voice
was sitting demurely at the farthest end of the room on a cushioned
bench. Her back rested against the moving panel that led to the
stairway in the wall. She did not move when Max entered. She had done
all the moving she intended to do, and Max must now act for himself. He
did. He ran down the long room to her, crying:--

"Yolanda! Yolanda!"

She rose to greet him, and he, taking her in his arms, covered her face
with kisses. The unconscious violence of his great strength bruised and
hurt her, but she gloried in the pain, and was passive as a babe in his
arms. When they were seated and half calm, she clutched one of his great
fingers and said:--

"You kept your word, Little Max. You came back to me."

"Did you not know that I would come?" he asked.

"Ah, indeed, I knew--you are not one that makes a promise to break it.
Sometimes it is difficult to induce such a man to give his word, and I
found it so, but once given it is worth having--worth having,
Little Max."

She smiled up into his face while she spoke, as if to say, "You gave me
a deal of trouble, but at last I have captured you."

"Did you so greatly desire the promise, Yolanda?" asked Max, solely for
the pleasure of hearing her answer.

"Yes," she answered softly, hanging her head, "more than any _man_, can
know. It must be an intense longing that will drive a modest girl to
boldness, such as I have shown ever since the day I first met you at
dear old Basel. It almost broke my heart when father--fatherland--when
Burgundy made war on Switzerland." The word "land" was a lucky thought,
and came to the girl just in the nick of time.

Max was too much interested in the girl to pay close attention to any
slips she might make about the war with Switzerland. It is true he was
now a soldier, and war was all right in its place; but there are things
in life compared with which the wars of nations are trivial affairs. All
subjects save one were unwelcome to him.

"Now I am going to ask a promise from you, Fraeulein," said Max,
loosening his hand from her grasp and placing his arm about her waist.
She offered no objections to the new situation, but blushed and looked
down demurely to her folded hands.

"It will, I fear, be very easy for you, Max, to induce me to promise
anything you wish. It will be all too easy, for I am not strong, as you
are." She glanced into his face, but her eyes fell quickly to her hands.

"I shall soon leave you again, Fraeulein, and what I wish is of such
moment that I--I almost fear to ask."

"Yes, Max," she murmured, gently reaching across his knee, and placing
her hand in his by way of encouragement.

"It is this, Fraeulein. I am going back to Styria, and I want to carry
with me your promise to be my wife," said Max, softly.

The girl's head fell over against his shoulder, and she clasped his free
hand between both of hers.

"I will ask my father's consent," said Max. "I will tell him of you and
of my great love, which is so great, Fraeulein, that all the world is
nothing beside it and beside you, and he will grant my request."

"But if he doesn't, Max?" asked the face hidden upon his breast.

"If he does not, Fraeulein, I will forego my country and my estates. I
will come back to you and will work in the fields, if need be, to make
you as happy as you will make me."

"There will be no need for that, Max," she answered, tears of happiness
slowly trickling down her cheeks, "for I am rich."

"That I am sorry to hear," he responded.

"Don't you want to know who I am before you wed me?" she asked, after a
long pause. She had almost made up her mind to tell him.

"That you may tell me when you are my wife," said Max. "I thought you
were the Princess Mary, but I am almost glad that you are not. I soon
knew that I was wrong, for I knew that you would not deceive me."

The girl winced and concluded to postpone telling her momentous secret.
She was now afraid to do so. As a matter of fact, she had in her heart a
healthy little touch of womanly cowardice on small occasions. After a
long, delicious pause, Max said:--

"Have I your promise, Fraeulein?"

"Y-e-s," she answered hesitatingly, "I will be your wife if--if I can,
and if you will take me when you learn who I am. There is no taint of
disgrace about me, Max," she added quickly, in response to the look of
surprise on his face. "But I am not worthy of you, and I fear that if
your father but knew my unworthiness, he would refuse his consent to our
marriage. You must not tell him of my boldness. I will tell you all
about myself before you leave for Styria, and then, if you do not want
me, you may leave me to--to die."

"I shall want you, Yolanda. I shall want you. Have no doubt of that," he
answered.

"With the assurance that there is no stain or taint upon me or my
family, do you give me your word, Max, that you will want me and will
take me, whoever I am, and will not by word or gesture show me that you
are angry or that you regret your promise?"

"I gladly give you that promise," answered Max.

"Did you ever tell a lie, Little Max?" she asked banteringly, "or did
you ever deliberately break a promise?"

"Did I ever steal or commit wilful murder?" asked Max, withdrawing his
arm.

"No, Max; now put it back again," she said.

After a long pause she continued:--

"I have lied."

Max laughed and drew her to him.

"Your lies will harm no one," he said joyously.

"No," she responded, "I only lie that good may come of it."

Then silence fell upon the world--their world. Was not that hour with
Max worth all the pains that Yolanda had taken to deceive him?

Yolanda and Max came down to the long room, and she, too, gave me her
cheek to kiss.

Twonette had prepared a great tankard of wine and honey, with pepper and
allspice to suit Yolanda's taste, and we all sat before the great
blazing yule fire, as joyful and content as any six people in
Christendom. Twonette and Yolanda together occupied one large chair;
Twonette serenely allowing herself to be caressed by Yolanda, who was in
a state of mind that compelled her to caress some one. Gentle Frau Kate
was sleeping in a great easy chair near the chimney-corner. Max sat at
one side of the table,--the side nearest Yolanda,--while Castleman and
I sat by each other within easy reach of the wine. I knew without the
telling, all that had occurred upstairs, and the same light seemed to
have fallen upon the Castlemans. Good old George was in high spirits,
and I could see in his eye that he intended to get drunk and, if
possible, to bring me, also, to that happy condition. After many goblets
of wine, he remarked:--

"The king of France will probably be upon us within a fortnight after he
hears the sad news from Nancy."

Yolanda immediately sat upright in her chair, abandoning Twonette's soft
hand and softer cheek.

"Why do you believe so, uncle?" she asked nervously.

"Because he has waited all his life for this untoward event to happen."

"Preparations should be made to receive him," said Yolanda.

"Ah, yes," replied Castleman, "but Burgundy's army is scattered to the
four winds. It has given its blood for causes in which its heart was
not. We lack the strong arm of the duke, to force men to battle against
their will. King Louis must be fought by policy, not by armies; and
Hymbercourt is absent."

"Do you know aught of him, Sir Karl?" asked Yolanda.

"I do not, Fraeulein," I answered, "save that he was alive and well when
we left Nancy."

"That, at least, is good news," she replied, "and I make sure he will
soon come to Burgundy's help."

"I am sure he is now on his way," I answered.

"What can Burgundy do?" she asked, turning to Castleman and me. "You
will each advise--advise the princess, I hope."

"If she wishes my poor advice," I responded, "she has but to ask it."

"And mine," said Castleman, tipping his goblet over his nose.

"If we are to have clear heads to-morrow," I suggested, "we must drink
no more wine to-night. The counsel of wine is the advice of the devil."

"Right you are, Sir Karl. Only one more goblet. Here's to the health of
the bride to be," said Castleman.

Yolanda leaned back in her chair beside Twonette, and her face wore a
curious combination of smile and pout.

On the way to the inn, Max, who was of course very happy, told me what
had happened in the oak room and added:--

"I look to you, Karl, to help me with father."

"That I will certainly do," I answered. I could not resist saying: "We
came to Burgundy with the hope of winning the princess. Fortune has
opened a door for you by the death of her father. Don't you wish
to try?"

"No," said Max, turning on me. A moment later he added, "If Yolanda were
but the princess, as I once believed she was, what a romance our
journey to Burgundy would make!"

My spirits were somewhat dampened by Castleman's words concerning the
French king. Surely they were true, since King Louis was the last man in
Europe to forego the opportunity presented by the death of Charles.
Should the Princess Mary lose Burgundy just at the time when Max had won
her, my disappointment would indeed be great, and Max might truly need
my help with his father.



CHAPTER XX

A TREATY WITH LOUIS XI

The next day Castleman and I were called to the castle, and talked over
the situation with the duchess and the Princess Mary. In the midst of
our council, in walked Hymbercourt and Hugonet. They were devoted
friends of Mary.

Our first move was to send spies to the court of France; so two trusted
men started at once. Paris was but thirty leagues distant, and the men
could reach it in fifteen hours. Half a day there should enable them to
learn the true condition of affairs, since they carried well-filled
purses to loosen the tongues of Cardinal Balau and Oliver the Barber.
The bribery plan was Mary's, and it worked admirably.

Within forty-eight hours the spies returned, and reported that King
Louis, with a small army, was within fifteen leagues of Peronne. He had
quickly assembled the three estates at Paris, all of whom promised the
king their aid. In the language of the chancellor, "The commons offered
to help their king with their bodies and their wealth, the nobles with
their advice, and the clergy with their prayers." This appalling news
set Peronne in an uproar.

Recruiting officers were sent out in all directions, the town was
garrisoned, and fortifications were overhauled. Mary was again in
trouble, and the momentous affairs resting on her young shoulders seemed
to have put Max out of her mind. I expected her to call him into council
and reveal herself, but she did not.

On the day after we learned of King Louis' approach, the princess called
Hymbercourt, Hugonet, Castleman, and myself to her closet and graciously
asked us to be seated about a small table.

"I have formed a plan that I wish to submit to you," she said. "I'll
send to King Louis an invitation to visit me here at Peronne, under
safeguard. When he comes, I intend to offer to restore all the cities
that my father took from him, if he will release me from the treaty of
marriage, and will swear upon the Cross of Victory to support me against
my enemies, and to assist me in subduing Ghent, now in rebellion. What
think you of the plan?"

"Your Highness is giving King Louis nearly half your domain," suggested
Hymbercourt.

"True," answered the princess, "but it is better to give half than to
lose all. Where can we turn for help against this greedy king? When
Burgundy is in better case, we'll take them all from him again."

"Your Highness is right," answered Hymbercourt. "But what assurance have
you that King Louis will accept your terms?"

"Little, my lord, save that King Louis does not know our weakness.
Oliver has by this time told him that he has news of a vast army
collecting within twenty leagues of Peronne. If Louis accepts our terms,
Oliver and the cardinal are each to receive twenty thousand crowns out
of our treasury at Luxembourg. My father fought King Louis with blows;
I'll fight His Majesty with his own weapon, gold. That is the lesson my
father should have learned."

I rose to my feet during her recital and looked down at her in wonder.

"Yolanda"--I began, but corrected myself--"Your Highness needs no
councillor. I, for one, deem your plan most wise, and I see in it the
salvation of Burgundy."

The other councillors agreed with me most heartily.

"I have still another plan which I hope may frighten King Louis into
accepting our terms. During the conference which I hope to hold with His
Majesty, I shall receive a message from my mother's brother, King Edward
of England. The missive, of course, will be directed to my father, since
the English king cannot yet know of the duke's death. The messenger will
be an English herald, and will demand immediate audience,
and--and--however, I'll keep the remainder of that plan to myself."

A broad smile appeared on the faces of all present. Hugonet gazed at the
princess and laughed outright.

"Why did not your father take you into his council?" he asked.

"I should have been no help to him," she responded. "A woman's wits,
dear Hugonet, must be driven by a great motive."

"But you would have had the motive," answered Hugonet.

"There is but one motive for a woman, my lord," she answered.

Hugonet unceremoniously whistled his astonishment, and Yolanda blushed
as she said:--

"You shall soon know."

Mary's plan for an interview with Louis succeeded perfectly. He came
post-haste under safe conduct to Peronne.

Whatever may be said against Louis, he did not know personal fear. He
had a wholesome dread of sacrificing the lives of his people, and
preferred to satisfy his greed by policy rather than by war. Gold,
rather than blood, was the price he paid for his victories. Taken all in
all, he was the greatest king that France ever had--if one may judge a
king by the double standard of what he accomplishes and what it costs
his people. He almost doubled the territory of France, and he lost fewer
men in battle than any enterprising monarch of whom I know.

Within forty-eight hours of receiving the safe conduct, King Louis was
sitting beside Mary on the dais of the ducal throne in the great hall.
She was heavily veiled, being in mourning for her father. At her left
stood Hymbercourt, Hugonet, Max, and myself. At the king's right stood
Cardinal Balau and Oliver the Barber, each anticipating a rich reward in
case Louis should accept Mary's terms. Back of them stood a score of the
king's courtiers. Many questions of state were discussed; and then
Hymbercourt presented Mary's offer to King Louis. The king hesitated.
After a long pause he spoke, looking straight ahead, at nothing; as was
his custom.

"We will consult with our friends and make answer soon," he said,
speaking to nobody.

Louis seemed to think that if he looked at no one and addressed nobody,
when he spoke, he might the more easily wriggle out of his
obligations later on.

Mary had caused to be drawn up in duplicate a treaty in accordance with
the terms that she had outlined at our little council. It was handed to
Oliver when the king rose to retire to a private room, to discuss the
contents with his councillors.

At the moment when King Louis rose to his feet, a herald was announced
at the great hall door.

"A message from His Majesty, King Edward of England," cried the
Burgundian herald. Louis resumed his seat as though his feet had slipped
from under him.

"We are engaged," answered Mary, acting well a difficult part. "Let the
herald leave his packet, or deliver it later."

A whispered conversation took place between the Burgundian herald and
the Englishman. Then spoke the Burgundian:--

"Most Gracious Princess, the English herald has no packet. He bears a
verbal message to your late father, and insists that he must deliver it
to Your Highness at once."

"Must, indeed!" cried Mary, indignantly. Then turning to the king:
"These English grow arrogant, Your Majesty. What has the herald to say?
Let him come forward. We have no secrets from our most gracious
godfather, King Louis."

The English herald approached the ducal throne, but did not speak.

"Proceed," said Mary, irritably.

"With all deference, Most Gracious Princess," said the herald, "the
subject-matter of my message is such that it should be communicated
privately, or at Your Highness's council-board."

"If you have a message from my good uncle, King Edward, deliver it here
and now," said the princess.

"As you will, Most Gracious Princess," said the herald. "King Edward has
amassed a mighty army, which is now awaiting orders to sail for France;
and His Majesty asks permission to cross the territory of Burgundy on
his way to Paris. He will pay to Your Highness such compensation as may
be agreed upon when His Majesty meets you, which he hopes may be within
a month. His Majesty begs a written reply to the message I bear."

Mary paused before she answered.

"Wait without. My answer depends upon the conclusions of His Majesty,
the King of France."

The herald withdrew, but in the meantime Louis had descended to the
floor and was busily conning the treaty that Mary had caused to be
written. He was whispering with Cardinal Balau and Oliver, and was
evidently excited by the news he had just heard from England. When he
resumed his seat beside Mary, he said:--

"By this treaty, which is simple and straightforward, Your Highness
cedes to me certain cities herein named, in perpetuity; and in
consideration thereof, I am to be with you friend of friend and foe of
foe. I am to aid you in subduing your rebellious subjects, and to
sustain you in your choice of a husband. I am also to release you from
the present contract of marriage with my son, the Dauphin."

"That is all, Your Majesty," said the princess. "It is short and to the
point."

"Indeed it is, Your Highness, and if you will answer King Edward and
will deny him the privilege of crossing Burgundy, I will sign the
treaty, and will swear upon the true cross to keep it inviolate."

Mary could hardly conceal her exultation, but she answered calmly:--

"Will Your Majesty sign now?"

Louis and Mary each signed the treaty, and the piece of the true cross
upon which the oath was to be made was brought before them, resting on a
velvet pillow. Now there were many pieces of the true cross, of which
Louis possessed two. Upon one of these he held the oath to be binding
and inviolate; it was known as the Cross of Victory. Upon the other his
oath was less sacred, and the sin of perjury was venial.

I stood near the throne, and, suspecting Louis of fraud, made bold to
inquire:--

"Most humbly I would ask Your Majesty, is this the Cross of Victory?"

The king examined the piece of wood resting on the cushion and said:--

"By Saint Andrew, My Lord Cardinal, you have committed an error. You
have brought me the wrong piece."

The Cross of Victory was then produced, with many apologies and excuses
for the mistake, and the oath was taken while Mary's tiny hand rested on
the relic beside King Louis' browned and wrinkled talon. When the
ceremony was finished, the king turned to Mary and said:--

"Whom will Your Highness select for a husband?"

"My father sometime had treaty with Duke Frederick of Styria, looking
to my marriage with his son Maximilian, and I shall ratify the compact."

Max was about to speak, but I plucked him by the sleeve.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now I shall hasten to the end. The king took his departure within an
hour, carrying with him his copy of the treaty. The audience was
dismissed, and the princess left the great hall by the door back of the
throne, having first directed Hymbercourt, Hugonet, Max, and myself to
follow within five minutes, under conduct of a page. Castleman excused
himself and left the hall.

The page soon came to fetch us, and we were taken to Mary's parlor,
adjoining her bedroom in Darius tower. From the bedroom, as you know,
the stairway in the wall descends to Castleman's house. In the parlor we
found Mary, the Duchess Margaret, and several ladies in waiting. All the
ladies, including Mary, were heavily veiled. When we entered, Mary
addressed Max:--

"Sir Count, you doubtless heard my announcement to the king of France.
It was my father's desire at one time to unite Styria and Burgundy by
marriage. I myself sent you a letter and a ring that you doubtless still
possess. Are you pleased with my offer?"

Max fell to his knee before the princess:--

"Your Highness's condescension is far beyond my deserts. There are few
men who could refuse your offer, but I am pledged to another, and I beg
Your Highness--"

"Enough, enough," cried the princess, indignantly. "No man need explain
his reasons for refusing the hand of Mary of Burgundy."

Astonishment appeared on all faces save mine. I thought I knew the
purpose of Her Highness. Max rose to his feet, and Mary said:--

"We'll go downstairs now, and, if you wish, Sir Count, you may there say
farewell." She whispered a word to her mother, and led the way into her
bedroom. The duchess indicated that Max and I were to follow. We did so,
and Margaret came after us.

"We'll go down by these steps," said the princess, leading us to the
open panel. "The way is dark, and you must use care in descending, Sir
Count, but this is the nearest way to the ground."

Max started down the steps and Mary followed close at his heels. I
followed Mary, and Duchess Margaret came after me.

When we had descended twenty steps, the upper panel was closed by some
one in the bedroom, and the stairway became inky dark. Ten steps
further, I stumbled and almost fell over a soft obstruction on the
stairs. I stooped and examined it. Fearing that the duchess might fall
when she reached it, I took it up. It was a lady's head-dress and veil.
A few steps farther I picked up a lady's bodice and then a skirt. By the
time I had made this collection, Max and Mary had reached the moving
panel at the foot of the stairs. I heard it slide back, and a flood of
light came in upon us. Yolanda, in burgher girl's costume, sprang over
the cushioned seat into Castleman's oak room. Max followed, and I, with
an armful of woman's gear, helped the duchess to step to the cushion and
thence to the floor. Max stood for a moment in half-vexed surprise, but
Yolanda, two yards off, laughed merrily:--

"You promised, Sir Max, that you would show no anger when you learned
who I was, and you said you would neither lie, steal, nor
commit murder."

The Castlemans stood near by, and the duchess and I joined them, forming
an admiring group. Max did not reply. He held out his arms to the girl,
and she ran to them. So closely did he hold her that she could hardly
move. She did, however, succeed in turning her face toward us, and said
poutingly:--

"Why don't you leave the room?"

THE END







End of Project Gutenberg's Yolanda: Maid of Burgundy, by Charles Major

*** END OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK YOLANDA: MAID OF BURGUNDY ***

***** This file should be named 12057.txt or 12057.zip *****
This and all associated files of various formats will be found in:
        http://www.gutenberg.net/1/2/0/5/12057/

Produced by Charles Aldarondo, Charlie Kirschner and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team.


Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions
will be renamed.

Creating the works from public domain print editions means that no
one owns a United States copyright in these works, so the Foundation
(and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United States without
permission and without paying copyright royalties.  Special rules,
set forth in the General Terms of Use part of this license, apply to
copying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works to
protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark.  Project
Gutenberg is a registered trademark, and may not be used if you
charge for the eBooks, unless you receive specific permission.  If you
do not charge anything for copies of this eBook, complying with the
rules is very easy.  You may use this eBook for nearly any purpose
such as creation of derivative works, reports, performances and
research.  They may be modified and printed and given away--you may do
practically ANYTHING with public domain eBooks.  Redistribution is
subject to the trademark license, especially commercial
redistribution.



*** START: FULL LICENSE ***

THE FULL PROJECT GUTENBERG LICENSE
PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU DISTRIBUTE OR USE THIS WORK

To protect the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting the free
distribution of electronic works, by using or distributing this work
(or any other work associated in any way with the phrase "Project
Gutenberg"), you agree to comply with all the terms of the Full Project
Gutenberg-tm License (available with this file or online at
http://gutenberg.net/license).


Section 1.  General Terms of Use and Redistributing Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic works

1.A.  By reading or using any part of this Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work, you indicate that you have read, understand, agree to
and accept all the terms of this license and intellectual property
(trademark/copyright) agreement.  If you do not agree to abide by all
the terms of this agreement, you must cease using and return or destroy
all copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in your possession.
If you paid a fee for obtaining a copy of or access to a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work and you do not agree to be bound by the
terms of this agreement, you may obtain a refund from the person or
entity to whom you paid the fee as set forth in paragraph 1.E.8.

1.B.  "Project Gutenberg" is a registered trademark.  It may only be
used on or associated in any way with an electronic work by people who
agree to be bound by the terms of this agreement.  There are a few
things that you can do with most Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works
even without complying with the full terms of this agreement.  See
paragraph 1.C below.  There are a lot of things you can do with Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works if you follow the terms of this agreement
and help preserve free future access to Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works.  See paragraph 1.E below.

1.C.  The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation ("the Foundation"
or PGLAF), owns a compilation copyright in the collection of Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works.  Nearly all the individual works in the
collection are in the public domain in the United States.  If an
individual work is in the public domain in the United States and you are
located in the United States, we do not claim a right to prevent you from
copying, distributing, performing, displaying or creating derivative
works based on the work as long as all references to Project Gutenberg
are removed.  Of course, we hope that you will support the Project
Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting free access to electronic works by
freely sharing Project Gutenberg-tm works in compliance with the terms of
this agreement for keeping the Project Gutenberg-tm name associated with
the work.  You can easily comply with the terms of this agreement by
keeping this work in the same format with its attached full Project
Gutenberg-tm License when you share it without charge with others.

1.D.  The copyright laws of the place where you are located also govern
what you can do with this work.  Copyright laws in most countries are in
a constant state of change.  If you are outside the United States, check
the laws of your country in addition to the terms of this agreement
before downloading, copying, displaying, performing, distributing or
creating derivative works based on this work or any other Project
Gutenberg-tm work.  The Foundation makes no representations concerning
the copyright status of any work in any country outside the United
States.

1.E.  Unless you have removed all references to Project Gutenberg:

1.E.1.  The following sentence, with active links to, or other immediate
access to, the full Project Gutenberg-tm License must appear prominently
whenever any copy of a Project Gutenberg-tm work (any work on which the
phrase "Project Gutenberg" appears, or with which the phrase "Project
Gutenberg" is associated) is accessed, displayed, performed, viewed,
copied or distributed:

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net

1.E.2.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is derived
from the public domain (does not contain a notice indicating that it is
posted with permission of the copyright holder), the work can be copied
and distributed to anyone in the United States without paying any fees
or charges.  If you are redistributing or providing access to a work
with the phrase "Project Gutenberg" associated with or appearing on the
work, you must comply either with the requirements of paragraphs 1.E.1
through 1.E.7 or obtain permission for the use of the work and the
Project Gutenberg-tm trademark as set forth in paragraphs 1.E.8 or
1.E.9.

1.E.3.  If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is posted
with the permission of the copyright holder, your use and distribution
must comply with both paragraphs 1.E.1 through 1.E.7 and any additional
terms imposed by the copyright holder.  Additional terms will be linked
to the Project Gutenberg-tm License for all works posted with the
permission of the copyright holder found at the beginning of this work.

1.E.4.  Do not unlink or detach or remove the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License terms from this work, or any files containing a part of this
work or any other work associated with Project Gutenberg-tm.

1.E.5.  Do not copy, display, perform, distribute or redistribute this
electronic work, or any part of this electronic work, without
prominently displaying the sentence set forth in paragraph 1.E.1 with
active links or immediate access to the full terms of the Project
Gutenberg-tm License.

1.E.6.  You may convert to and distribute this work in any binary,
compressed, marked up, nonproprietary or proprietary form, including any
word processing or hypertext form.  However, if you provide access to or
distribute copies of a Project Gutenberg-tm work in a format other than
"Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other format used in the official version
posted on the official Project Gutenberg-tm web site (www.gutenberg.net),
you must, at no additional cost, fee or expense to the user, provide a
copy, a means of exporting a copy, or a means of obtaining a copy upon
request, of the work in its original "Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other
form.  Any alternate format must include the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License as specified in paragraph 1.E.1.

1.E.7.  Do not charge a fee for access to, viewing, displaying,
performing, copying or distributing any Project Gutenberg-tm works
unless you comply with paragraph 1.E.8 or 1.E.9.

1.E.8.  You may charge a reasonable fee for copies of or providing
access to or distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works provided
that

- You pay a royalty fee of 20% of the gross profits you derive from
     the use of Project Gutenberg-tm works calculated using the method
     you already use to calculate your applicable taxes.  The fee is
     owed to the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark, but he
     has agreed to donate royalties under this paragraph to the
     Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.  Royalty payments
     must be paid within 60 days following each date on which you
     prepare (or are legally required to prepare) your periodic tax
     returns.  Royalty payments should be clearly marked as such and
     sent to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation at the
     address specified in Section 4, "Information about donations to
     the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation."

- You provide a full refund of any money paid by a user who notifies
     you in writing (or by e-mail) within 30 days of receipt that s/he
     does not agree to the terms of the full Project Gutenberg-tm
     License.  You must require such a user to return or
     destroy all copies of the works possessed in a physical medium
     and discontinue all use of and all access to other copies of
     Project Gutenberg-tm works.

- You provide, in accordance with paragraph 1.F.3, a full refund of any
     money paid for a work or a replacement copy, if a defect in the
     electronic work is discovered and reported to you within 90 days
     of receipt of the work.

- You comply with all other terms of this agreement for free
     distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm works.

1.E.9.  If you wish to charge a fee or distribute a Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work or group of works on different terms than are set
forth in this agreement, you must obtain permission in writing from
both the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation and Michael
Hart, the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark.  Contact the
Foundation as set forth in Section 3 below.

1.F.

1.F.1.  Project Gutenberg volunteers and employees expend considerable
effort to identify, do copyright research on, transcribe and proofread
public domain works in creating the Project Gutenberg-tm
collection.  Despite these efforts, Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works, and the medium on which they may be stored, may contain
"Defects," such as, but not limited to, incomplete, inaccurate or
corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other intellectual
property infringement, a defective or damaged disk or other medium, a
computer virus, or computer codes that damage or cannot be read by
your equipment.

1.F.2.  LIMITED WARRANTY, DISCLAIMER OF DAMAGES - Except for the "Right
of Replacement or Refund" described in paragraph 1.F.3, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, the owner of the Project
Gutenberg-tm trademark, and any other party distributing a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work under this agreement, disclaim all
liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including legal
fees.  YOU AGREE THAT YOU HAVE NO REMEDIES FOR NEGLIGENCE, STRICT
LIABILITY, BREACH OF WARRANTY OR BREACH OF CONTRACT EXCEPT THOSE
PROVIDED IN PARAGRAPH F3.  YOU AGREE THAT THE FOUNDATION, THE
TRADEMARK OWNER, AND ANY DISTRIBUTOR UNDER THIS AGREEMENT WILL NOT BE
LIABLE TO YOU FOR ACTUAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, PUNITIVE OR
INCIDENTAL DAMAGES EVEN IF YOU GIVE NOTICE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH
DAMAGE.

1.F.3.  LIMITED RIGHT OF REPLACEMENT OR REFUND - If you discover a
defect in this electronic work within 90 days of receiving it, you can
receive a refund of the money (if any) you paid for it by sending a
written explanation to the person you received the work from.  If you
received the work on a physical medium, you must return the medium with
your written explanation.  The person or entity that provided you with
the defective work may elect to provide a replacement copy in lieu of a
refund.  If you received the work electronically, the person or entity
providing it to you may choose to give you a second opportunity to
receive the work electronically in lieu of a refund.  If the second copy
is also defective, you may demand a refund in writing without further
opportunities to fix the problem.

1.F.4.  Except for the limited right of replacement or refund set forth
in paragraph 1.F.3, this work is provided to you 'AS-IS' WITH NO OTHER
WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO
WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTIBILITY OR FITNESS FOR ANY PURPOSE.

1.F.5.  Some states do not allow disclaimers of certain implied
warranties or the exclusion or limitation of certain types of damages.
If any disclaimer or limitation set forth in this agreement violates the
law of the state applicable to this agreement, the agreement shall be
interpreted to make the maximum disclaimer or limitation permitted by
the applicable state law.  The invalidity or unenforceability of any
provision of this agreement shall not void the remaining provisions.

1.F.6.  INDEMNITY - You agree to indemnify and hold the Foundation, the
trademark owner, any agent or employee of the Foundation, anyone
providing copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in accordance
with this agreement, and any volunteers associated with the production,
promotion and distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works,
harmless from all liability, costs and expenses, including legal fees,
that arise directly or indirectly from any of the following which you do
or cause to occur: (a) distribution of this or any Project Gutenberg-tm
work, (b) alteration, modification, or additions or deletions to any
Project Gutenberg-tm work, and (c) any Defect you cause.


Section  2.  Information about the Mission of Project Gutenberg-tm

Project Gutenberg-tm is synonymous with the free distribution of
electronic works in formats readable by the widest variety of computers
including obsolete, old, middle-aged and new computers.  It exists
because of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and donations from
people in all walks of life.

Volunteers and financial support to provide volunteers with the
assistance they need, is critical to reaching Project Gutenberg-tm's
goals and ensuring that the Project Gutenberg-tm collection will
remain freely available for generations to come.  In 2001, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation was created to provide a secure
and permanent future for Project Gutenberg-tm and future generations.
To learn more about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation
and how your efforts and donations can help, see Sections 3 and 4
and the Foundation web page at http://www.pglaf.org.


Section 3.  Information about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive
Foundation

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is a non profit
501(c)(3) educational corporation organized under the laws of the
state of Mississippi and granted tax exempt status by the Internal
Revenue Service.  The Foundation's EIN or federal tax identification
number is 64-6221541.  Its 501(c)(3) letter is posted at
http://pglaf.org/fundraising.  Contributions to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation are tax deductible to the full extent
permitted by U.S. federal laws and your state's laws.

The Foundation's principal office is located at 4557 Melan Dr. S.
Fairbanks, AK, 99712., but its volunteers and employees are scattered
throughout numerous locations.  Its business office is located at
809 North 1500 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84116, (801) 596-1887, email
business@pglaf.org.  Email contact links and up to date contact
information can be found at the Foundation's web site and official
page at http://pglaf.org

For additional contact information:
     Dr. Gregory B. Newby
     Chief Executive and Director
     gbnewby@pglaf.org

Section 4.  Information about Donations to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation

Project Gutenberg-tm depends upon and cannot survive without wide
spread public support and donations to carry out its mission of
increasing the number of public domain and licensed works that can be
freely distributed in machine readable form accessible by the widest
array of equipment including outdated equipment.  Many small donations
($1 to $5,000) are particularly important to maintaining tax exempt
status with the IRS.

The Foundation is committed to complying with the laws regulating
charities and charitable donations in all 50 states of the United
States.  Compliance requirements are not uniform and it takes a
considerable effort, much paperwork and many fees to meet and keep up
with these requirements.  We do not solicit donations in locations
where we have not received written confirmation of compliance.  To
SEND DONATIONS or determine the status of compliance for any
particular state visit http://pglaf.org

While we cannot and do not solicit contributions from states where we
have not met the solicitation requirements, we know of no prohibition
against accepting unsolicited donations from donors in such states who
approach us with offers to donate.

International donations are gratefully accepted, but we cannot make
any statements concerning tax treatment of donations received from
outside the United States.  U.S. laws alone swamp our small staff.

Please check the Project Gutenberg Web pages for current donation
methods and addresses.  Donations are accepted in a number of other
ways including including checks, online payments and credit card
donations.  To donate, please visit: http://pglaf.org/donate


Section 5.  General Information About Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works.

Professor Michael S. Hart is the originator of the Project Gutenberg-tm
concept of a library of electronic works that could be freely shared
with anyone.  For thirty years, he produced and distributed Project
Gutenberg-tm eBooks with only a loose network of volunteer support.

Project Gutenberg-tm eBooks are often created from several printed
editions, all of which are confirmed as Public Domain in the U.S.
unless a copyright notice is included.  Thus, we do not necessarily
keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper edition.

Each eBook is in a subdirectory of the same number as the eBook's
eBook number, often in several formats including plain vanilla ASCII,
compressed (zipped), HTML and others.

Corrected EDITIONS of our eBooks replace the old file and take over
the old filename and etext number.  The replaced older file is renamed.
VERSIONS based on separate sources are treated as new eBooks receiving
new filenames and etext numbers.

Most people start at our Web site which has the main PG search facility:

     http://www.gutenberg.net

This Web site includes information about Project Gutenberg-tm,
including how to make donations to the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation, how to help produce our new eBooks, and how to
subscribe to our email newsletter to hear about new eBooks.

EBooks posted prior to November 2003, with eBook numbers BELOW #10000,
are filed in directories based on their release date.  If you want to
download any of these eBooks directly, rather than using the regular
search system you may utilize the following addresses and just
download by the etext year.

     http://www.gutenberg.net/etext06

    (Or /etext 05, 04, 03, 02, 01, 00, 99,
     98, 97, 96, 95, 94, 93, 92, 92, 91 or 90)

EBooks posted since November 2003, with etext numbers OVER #10000, are
filed in a different way.  The year of a release date is no longer part
of the directory path.  The path is based on the etext number (which is
identical to the filename).  The path to the file is made up of single
digits corresponding to all but the last digit in the filename.  For
example an eBook of filename 10234 would be found at:

     http://www.gutenberg.net/1/0/2/3/10234

or filename 24689 would be found at:
     http://www.gutenberg.net/2/4/6/8/24689

An alternative method of locating eBooks:
     http://www.gutenberg.net/GUTINDEX.ALL



Colophon

This file was acquired from Project Gutenberg, and it is in the public domain. It is re-distributed here as a part of the Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts (http://infomotions.com/alex/) by Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.) for the purpose of freely sharing, distributing, and making available works of great literature. Its Infomotions unique identifier is etext12057, and it should be available from the following URL:

http://infomotions.com/etexts/id/etext12057



Infomotions, Inc.

Infomotions Man says, "Give back to the 'Net."