ST. CHARLES HERALD.
Long Live the King
MARY ROBERTS RINEHART
CopWrtt.lWp , RM „ M Oompaoj
Copyright, 1317, b 7 MarylRoberta Rinehart
COUNTESS LOSCHEK'S SECRET MESSAGE CAUSES A LOT
' ' OF TROUBLE FOR SEVERAL PEOPLE
ton years old. taken to theOriern v n"* I ' C^dinan,, Willil1 ™ "'to.
s!l P s away to the nark when, i ' !lUIlt • ,m>s " f fho singing and
Thorpe, a little American hov it !""*!'* ,ho a,( iualntn»ce of BobBy
hnds everything in an uproar^.'* Iu,ur " ln « 'he palace at night, he
made for him. The same ni ^ ,7 M * 1 <l 1,10 which has been
boy's grandfather the old km? , '' huncol,or niI,s ''"'»suit the
gests that to preserve Hie i" '° ' S V,>ry i]l ' Th <* 'Wellor sug
| he ter rorists to form public "'the 11 - *" threat ' >npd 1,y ' ,lots " f
kingdom of Karnyi be secured hv'giving th
nage to King Karl of that country
friendship of the neighboring
Princess Hedwig in mar
" -rsr, ""'ÄÄ'Äir »ästss
plot» to prevent his tuuriinge to I Id wig. sb c
message to Kin
sends a secret
loti; or. you cannot look back, and
•—and remember your own life, and al
low me to be wretched. You can
Hedwig began to cry.
1 he archduchess hated tears, and
h r softer moments were only mo
ments. ' Dry your eyes, and don't be
silly.'" she said coldly. "You have al
Avays known that something of the
sort was inevitable."
She moved toward the door. The
two princesses and her lady in wait
ing remained still until she had left
the table. Then they fell In behind
her. and the little procession moved to
the stuffy boudoir, for coffee. But
Hilda slipped her arm around her sis
ter's waist, and the touch comforted
"He may be very nice," Hilda volun
teered cautiously. "Perhaps it is Karl.
I am quite mad about Karl, myself."
Hedwig, however, was beyond listen
ing. She went slowly to a window,
and stood gazing out. Looming against
the sky-line, in the very center of the
$lace, was the heroic figure of her dead
grandmother. She fell to wondering
about these royal women who had pre
ceded. Her mother, frankly unhappy
in her marriage, permanently embit
tered ; her grandmother. Hedwig had
never seen the king young. She could
not picture him as a lover. To her
be was a fine and lonely figure. But
romantic? Had he ever been roman
She slipped out onto the balcony
and closed the curtains behind her.
As her eyes grew accustomed to the
darkness she saw that there %vas some
one below, under the trees. Her heart
beat rapidly. In a moment she was
certain. It was Nikky down there,
Nikky, gazing up at her as a child may
look at a star. With a quick gesture
Hedwig drew the curtain back. A
thin ray of light fell on her, on her
slim bare arms, on her light draperies,
on her young face. He had wanted
to see her, and he should see her. Then
she dropped the curtain, and twisted
her hands together lest, in spite of
her, they reach out toward him.
Did she fancy it, or did the figure
salute her? Then came the quick ring
of heels on the old stone pavement.
She knew his footsteps, even as she
knew every vibrant, eager inflection of j
his voice. He went away, across tire
square, like one who, having bent his
kuee to a saint, turns back to the busi
ness of the world.
In the boudoir the archduchess had
picked up some knitting to soothe her
jangled nerves. "You may play now,
Hilda," she said.
Annunclata dozed, and Hilda played
softly. The countess' opportunity had
come. She put down the dreary em
broidery with which she filled the
drearier evenings, and moved to the
window. She walked quietly, like a
Her first words to Hedwig were
those of Peter Nlburg as he linked
arms with his enemy and started down
the street "A fine night, highness,
Hedwlg raised her eyes to the s.ars.
"It is very lovely."
"A night to spend out-of-doors, in
stead of being shut up—" She
finished her sentence with a shrug of
Hedwlg was not fond of the count
ess. She did not know why. Thi
truth being, of course that between
thorn lay the barrier of her own
nocence When the countess' arm
touched hers, she drew aside.
"Tonight," said the lady in waiting
dreamilv. "I should like to be in a
motor, speeding over mountain roads.
I come from the mountains, you know.
And I miss them." . ,,
Hedwlg moved, a little impatient y,
but ns the countess went on. she lis
tened. After all, Nikky, too. came
from the mountains. And because she
was sorry for the countess, who was
homesick, and perhaps because just
then she had to speak to some one,
she turned to her at last with the thing
that filled her mind.
"This marriage," she said bitterly.
"Is it talked about? Am I the only
one in the palnce who has not known
"No highness, I had heard nothing.
Of course, there are always rumors.
-L to the other, the matter my
j mother referred to." Hedwig held her
I head very high, "I—she was unjust,
j Am I never to have any friends?"
1'riends, highness? One may have
( friends, of course. It is not friendship
I »hey fear."
j "What then?"
"A lover," said the countess softly.
It is impossible to see Captain Lar
i.seh in your presence, and not
"And not realize, highness, that he
is in love with you."
"How silly!" said the Princess Hed
wig, with glowing eyes.
"But highness!" implored the count
ess. "If only you would use a little
caution. Open defiance is its own de
"I am not ashamed of what I
said Hedwig hotly.
"Ashamed ! Of course net. But
things that are harmless in others in
your position—you are young. Y'ou
should have friends, gayety. I am,"
she smiled grimly in the darkness,
"not so old myself but that I cun un
Hedwig stood still. The old city was
preparing for sleep. In the place a
few lovers loitered, standing close, and
the faint tinkling of a bell told of the
Blessed Sacrament being carried
through the streets to some bedside of
the dying. The Princess Hedwlg
bowed her head.
It seemed to her, all at once, that
the world was full of wretchedness and
death, and of separation, which might
be worse than death.
"I wish I could help you, highness,"
said the countess. "I should like to
see you happy. But hnppiness does
not come of itself. We must fight for
"Fight? What chance have I to
fight?" Hedwig asked scornfully.
"One thing, of course, I could do,"
pursued the countess. "On those days
w }j en y 0U wish to have tea with—hi^
royal highness, I could arrange, per
haps, to let you know if any member
of the family intended going to his
It Avas a moment before Hedwig
comprehended. Then she turned to
lier haughtily. "When I wish to have
tea with my cousin," she said coldly,
"I shall do it openly, countess."
She left the balcony abruptly, abnn
j ( ] on j n g the countess to solitary fury,
the 1 greater because triumph had
seemed so near. Alone, she went red
and white, bit her lips, behaved ac
cording to all the time-honored tra
ditions. And even sw ore—in a polite,
lady-in-waiting fashion, to be sure—
to get even.
Things were going very wrong for
Perhaps, at the very first, he had
been In love with the princess, not the
woman. It had been rather like him
to fix on the unattainable and wor
ship it from afar. Because, for all the
friendliness of their growing intimacy,
Hedwlg was still a star, whose light
touched him, but whose warmth was
not for him. He would have died
fighting for her with a smile on his
lips. But he had no hope of living
for her, unless, of course, she should
happen to need him, which was most
uniikely. He had no vanity whatever,
although in parade dress, with white
gloves, he hoped he cut a decent figure.
So she had been his star, and as cold
and remote. And then, that very
morning, Hedwig had been thrown.
Not badly—she was too expert for
that. As a matter of fact, feeling her
self going, she had flung two strong
young arms around her horse's neck,
and had almost succeeded in lighting
on her feet. It was not at all
But Nikky's heart had stopped beat
ing. He had lifted her up from where
she sat, half vexed and wliolly
ashamed, and carried her to a chair.
That was all. But when it was all
over, and Hedwlg was only a trifle
wobbly and horribly humiliated,
Nikky Larisch knew the truth about
himself, knew that he was in love
with the granddaughter of his king,
and that under no conceivable circum
stances would he ever be able to tell
her so. Knew, then, that happiness
and he had said a long farewell, and
would thereafter travel different
So that night he started out to think
things over. Probably never before in
bis life had hi» deliberately done such
a thing. He had never, as a fact,
thought much at all. It had been his
comfortable habit to let the day take
care of itself. Beyond minor prob
lems of finance—minor because his in
come was trifling—he had considered
little. In the last border war he had
distinguished himself only when It was
a matter of doing, not of thinking.
But lie was young, and the night
was crisp and beuutiful. He took a
long breath, and looked up at the stars.
After all. things might not be so bad.
Hedwlg might refuse this marriage.
They were afraid that she would, or
why have^asked his help? When he
thought of King Karl, he drew himself
up, and his heels rang hard on the
pavement. Karl! A hard man and a
good king—that was Karl. And old.
From tho full manhood of his twenty
three years Nikky surveyed Karl's al
most forty, and considered it age.
It was typical of Nikky to decide
that he heeded a hard walk. He
translated most of his ».motions into
motion. So he set off briskly, turn
ing into the crowded part of the city.
And here it was that Nikky hap
pened on the thing that was to take
him far that night, and bring about
many curious things. Not far ahead
of him two men were talking. They
went slowly, arm in arm. One was
talking loquaciously, using his free
arm, on which hung a cane, to gestic
ulate. The other walked with bent
Nikky, pausing to light a cigarette,
fell behind. But the wind was tricky,
and with his third match he stepped
into a stone archway, lighted his
cigarette, buttoned his tunic high
against the chill, and emerged to i
silent but violent struggle just ahead
The two men had been attacked by
three others, and as he stared, the
loquacious one went down. Instantly
a huge figure of a man outlined against
the light from a street lamp, crouched
over the prostrate form of the fallen
man. Even in the Imperceptible sec
ond before he started to run toward
the group, Nikky saw' that the silent
one, unmolested, was looking on.
A moment later he was In the thick
of things and fighting gloriously. His
soldierly cap fell off. His fair hair
bristled with excitement. He flung out
arms that were both furious and
strong, and with each blow the group
assumed a new formation. Unluckily,
a great deal of the fighting was done
over the prostrate form of Peter Ni
But disaster, inglorious disaster,
waited for Nikky. Peter Niburg, face
down on the pavement, was groaning,
and Nikky had felled one man and
was starting on a second with the fight
ing appetite of twenty-three, when
something happened. One moment
Nikky was smiling, with a cut lip, and
hair in his eyes, and the next he was
dropped like an ox, by a blow from
behind. Landing between his shoul
der blades, it jerked his head back
with a snap, and sent him reeling. A
second followed, delivered by a huge
Down went Nikky, and lay still.
The town slept on. Street brawls
were not uncommon, especially in the
neighborhood of the Hungaria. Those
who roused grumbled about quarrel
some students, and slept again.
Perhaps two minutes later, Nikky
got up. He was another minute in lo
cating himself. His cap lay in the
In the Thick of Things and Fighting
gutter. Beside him, on his back, lay
a sprawling and stertorous figure,
with, so quick the downfall, a cane
still hooked to his arm.
Nikky bent over Peter Niburg.
Bending over made his head ache
"Here, man!" he said. "Get upl
Peter Niburg made an inarticulate
reference to a piece of silk of certain
quality, and lay still. But his eyes
opened slowly, and he stared up at
the stars. "A fine night," lie said
thickly. "A very fine—" Suddenly h<
raised himself to a sitting posture.
Terror gave him strength. "I've been
robbed," he said. "Robbed. I am
ruined. I am dead."
"Tut," said Nikky, mopping bis rut
lip. "If you sire dead, your spirit
speaks with an uncommonly lusty
voice! Como, get up. We present to
gether a shameful picture of defeat."
But he raised Peter Niburg gently
from the ground and, finding his knees
unstable, from fright or weakness,
stood him against a house wall. Peter
Niburg, with rolling eyes, felt for his
letter, and, the saints he praised,
"Ah !" he said, and straightened tip.
"After nil, it is not so bad as I feared.
They got nothing."
He made a manful effort to walk,
but tottered, reeled. Nikky caught
"Careful !" he said. "The colossus
was doubtless the one who got us
both, and we are likely to feel his
weight for some time. Where do you
Peter Niburg was not for saving,
lie would have preferred to pursue his
solitary if uncertain way. But Nikky
was no half Samaritan. Toward Peter
Niburg's lodging, then, they made a
"These recent gentlemen," said Nik
ky. as they went along, "they are, per
haps, personal enemies?"
Peter Niburg reflected. He thought i
not. "But I know why they came," he
said unguardedly. "Some early morn
ing. my friend, you will hear of a man
lying dead in the street. That man
will bo I."
"The thought has a moral," observed j
Nikky. "Do not trust yourself out-of- j
doors at night."
But he saw that Peter Niburg kept |
bis hand over his breast pocket.
Never having dealt In mysteries, j
Nikky was slow at recognizing one. ;
But, he reflected, many things were
going on in the old city in these trou
bled days. Came to Nikky, all at once,
that this man on his arm might be one
of the hidden eyes of government.
"These are difficult times," he ven
tured, "for those who are loyal."
Peter Niburg gave him a sidelong
glance. "Difficult Indeed," he said
"I think," Nikky observed, "that,
after I see you safely home, I shall
report this small matter to the police."
But here Peter Niburg turned even
paler. "Not—not the police !" he
"But why? You and I, my friend,
will carry their Insignia for some days.
I have a mind to pay our debts."
Peter Nlburg considered. He stop
ped and faced Nikky. "I do not wish
the police." he said. "Perhaps I have
said too little. This Is a private mat
ter. An affair of Jealousy."
"Naturally, not a matter for pub
"Very well," Nikky assented. But
in his mind was rising dark suspicion.
He had stumbled on something. He
cursed his stupidity that it meant, so
far, nothing more than a mystery to
him. He did not pride himself on his
"You were not alone, I think?"
Peter Niburg suddenly remembered
Herman, and stopped.
"Your friend must have escaped."
"He would escape." said Peter Ni
burg scornfully. "He is of the type
He lapsed into sullen silence. Soon
he paused before a quiet house, one !
of the many which housed in cavernous
depths uncounted clerks and other
small fry of the city. "Good night to
you." said Toter Niburg. Then, rather
tardily. "And my thanks. But for
you I should now—" he shrugged his
"Good night, friend," said Nikky.
"And better keep your bed tomorrow."
He had turned away and Peter Ni
burg entered the house.
Nikky inspected himself in the glow
of a street lamp. Save for some dust,
and a swollen lip, which he could not
see, he was not unpresentable. Well
enough, anyhow, for the empty streets.
But before he started he looked the
house and the neighborhood over care
fully. He might wish to return to that
For two hours he walked, and re
sumed his Interrupted train of thought.
At last, having almost circled the city,
he came to the Cathedral. It was
nearly midnight by the clock in the
high tower. He stopped and consulted
his watch. The fancy took him to go
up the high steps, and look out over
the city from the colonnade.
Once there, he*stood leaning against
a column, looking out There was
someone coming along the quiet
streets, with a stealthy, shuffling gait
that caught bis attention. So, for in
stance, might a weary or a wounded
man drag along. Exactly so, indeed,
had Peter Niburg shambled Into his
house but two hours gone.
The footsteps paused, hesitated,
commenced a painful struggle up the
ascent. Nikky moved behind his col
umn, and waited. L T p ami up, weary
step after weary step. The shadowy
figure, coming close, took a form, be
came a man—became Peter Niburg.
Now, indeed, Nikky roused. Beaten
and sorely bruised, Peter Niburg
should have been in bed. What
stealthy business of the nigbt brought
Fortunately for Nikky's hiding place,
the last step or two proved too much
for the spy. He groaned, and sat
down painfully, near the top. His
head lolled forward, and he supported
It on two shaking hands. Thus he sat,
huddled and miserable, for five min
utes or thereabouts. The chime rang
out Ute hour.
At ten minutes past the hour, Nikky
h''nrd the engine of an automobile.
machine came in sight, hut the
throbbing kept, on, from which he
-I'ldg' d that a car had been stopped
aro'imi t !i• • < orner. Peter Niburg heard
If, ami ruse. A moment later a man,
with the springiness of youth, mounted
the steps and confronted the messen
Niüy saw a great light. When
Beter Niburg put his hand to his
hniist pueket, there was no longer
renm fi, r doubt, nor, fur that matter,
time for thinking. As a matter of
fact, never afterward eouhl Nikky ro
ta!! thinking at all. He moved away
quietly, hidden by the shadows of the
colonnade. Behind him. tin the steps,
the two tin it were talking. Absorbed
in themselves ami their business, they
neither heard nor saw the figure that
slipped through the colonnade, anil
dropped, a blood curdling drop, from
the high end of it to tin* street be
Nikky's first impulse, beside the ear,
was to eut a tire. By getting his op
ponent into a stooping position, over
the damaged ......... it would he easier
A Sentry Stepped Into the Road.
to overcome him. But a hasty search
revealed that he had lost his knife in
the melee. And second thought gave
him a better plan. After nil, to get
the letter was not everything. To
know its destination would be impor
tant. He had no time to think fur
ther. The messenger was coming
down the steps, not stealthily, but clat
tering, with the ring of nails in the
heels of heavy boots.
Nikky flung his long length into the
tonneau, and there crouched. It was
dark enough to conceal him, but Nik
ky's was a large body In a small place.
However, the chauffeur ODly glanced
at the car, kicked a tire with a prac
ticed foot, and got In.
He headed for the open country.
Very soon his passenger knew that he
was in for a long ride possibly, a cold j
ride certainly. Within the city limits J
the car moved decorously, but when
the suburbs were reached, the driver
put on all his power. He drove care
fully, too, as one who must make haste
but cannot afford accident.
Nikky grew very uncomfortable.
His long legs ached. The place be
tween the shoulders where the con
cierge had landed his powerful blows
throbbed and beat. Also he was
puzzled, and he hated being puzzled.
He was unarmed, too. He disliked
that most of all.
After a time he raised his head. He
made out that they were going east,
toward the mountains, and he cursed
the luck that had left his revolver at
home. Still he lmd no plan but to
watch. Two hours' ride, at their pres
ent rate, would take them over the
border and into Karnia.
With a squealing of brakes the ma
chine drew up at the frontier. Here
was a chain across the highway, with
two sets of guards. Long before they
reached it, a sentry stepped Into the
road and waved his lantern.
Nikky burrowed lower into the car,
and attempted to look like a rug. In
the silence, while the sentry evidently
examined a passport and flashed a
lantern over the chauffeur, Nikky
cursed the ticking of his watch, the
beating of his own heart.
Then came a clanking as the chain
dropped in the road. The car bumped
over it, and baited again. The same
formalities, this time by Karnian
sentries. Then the jerk following a
hasty letting-in of the clutch, and they
were off again.
For some time they climbed steadily.
But Nikky, who knew tho mad, hided
his time. Then at iast, at two o'clock,
came the steep ascent to the very
crest of the mountain, and a falling
hack, gear by gear, until they climbed
slowly in the lowest.
Nikky unfolded his length quietly.
The gears were grinding, the driver
bent low over his wheel. Very de
liberately, now that he knew what he
was going to do. Nikky unbuttoned his
tunic and slipped it off. It was a rash I
thing, this plan he had in mind, rash
under any circumstances, in a moving
ear—particularly rash here, where be
tween the cliff and a precipice that
fell far away below, was only a wind
ing ribbon of uneven road.
Nikky, he waited his moment, and
then, with one singularly efficient ges
ture, he flung his tunic over the
chauffeur's head. He drove a car
himself, did Nikky—not his own, of
course; he was far too poor—and he
couured on one thing—an automobile
driver acts from the spina! cord, flütf
not from the brain. Therefore hlsi
brain may be seething with a thousand
frenzies, but he will shove out clutch:
and brake feet in an emergency, and
hold them out.
So it happened. The man's hand*
left the wheel, but he stopped his ear.
Not too soon. Not before if bad struck
the eiiff, and then taken a sickening
curve out toward the edge of tho
precipice. But stop it did, on the very
edge of eternity, and the chauffeur
held it ttiere.
"Set the hand brake!" Nikky said.
The lamps were near enough the edge
to make him dizzy.
The chauffeur censed struggling, and
set the hand brake. His head was stiff
covered. But having done that, ho
commenced a struggle more l'uriou*
than forceful, fur both of them wero
And now Nikky was forced to an!
Unsoidierlike tiling that he afterward
Tied to forget. For the driver de
veloped unexpected strength, refused
to submit, got the tunic <>(jr bis head,
and. seeing himself attacked by one
man only, took courage and fell to.
; U" I'b'ked tip it wrench from the seat
I beside him. and made u furious pas*
j : »t Nikky s head. Nikky ducked and,
• after a struggle secured tho weapon,
j All this in the ear, over the seat back.
It was then that Nikky raised tho
! wrench and stunned his man with it.
ir was hateful. The very dull thud
I f it was sickening. And there was a.
B;d minute or two when he thought
• in ii d ! ill d his opponent. The man
■ had sunk down in his seat, a sodden
; lump of inanimate human flesh. And
» Nikky. whose business, in a way, was
killing, was horrified.
i : '* chauffeur wakened, ton minutes
later, to find himself securely tied with
his own towing rope, and lying ex
tremely close to the edge of death.
B side him (in the ground sat a steady
eyed young man with a cut lip. The
young man had lighted a cigarette, and
was placing it carefully in the unin
jured side of his mouth.
"•Tust as soon as you are up to It,"
said Nikky, "we shall have a llttla
The chauffeur muttered something in
the peasant patois of Karnia.
"Come, come!" Nikky observed.
"Speak up. No hiding behind strange
tongues. But first, I have the letter.
That saves your worrying about It.
You can clear your mind for action."
Suddenly Nikky dropped his mocking
tone. He was in earnest, grim and
"I have a fancy, my friend," he said,
"to take that letter of yours on to Its
destination. But what that destination
is, you are to tell me."
The man on the ground grinned
sardonically. "You know better than
to ask that," he said. "I will never
Nikky had thought things out fairly
well, for him, in that ten minutes. In.
a businesslike fashion he turned the
prostrate prisoner on his side, 60 that
he faced toward the chasm. A late
moon showed its depth, and the valley
In which the air flowed swiftly. And
having thus faced him toward the next
world, Nikky, throwing away hi*
j cigarette because it hurt his lip. put a
J stone or two from the roadway behind
his prisoner, and anchored him there.
Then he sat down and waited.
"Any news?" he asked, at the end
of ten minutes' unbroken silence.
His prisoner said nothing. He was
thinking, doubtless. Weighing things,
too—perhaps life against betrayal, n
family against separation.
Nikky examined the letter again. It
was addressed to a border town In
Livonia. But the town lay far behind
them. Tho address, then, was a false
one. He whistled softly.
Half an hour.
"Come, come," said Nikky fiercely.
'We are losing time." He looked
fierce, too. His swollen lip did that.
And he was nervous. It occurred to
him that his prisoner, In desperation,
might roll over the edge himself, which
would be most uncomfortable.
But the precipice, and Nikky's fierce
lip, and other things, had got In their
work. The man on the ground stopped
muttering In his patois, and turned on
Nikky eyes full of hate.
"I will tell you," he said. "A*;
will free me. ■ And after that ,„ ,» '
"Certainly," xLy replie, ''.V
"You will follow me to tT, bt . , onda y
the earth—although that « '•*>' '** Deceinbt
necessary, because I don't i Monday
there—and finish me off." '«inlay in July
ly: "Now, where does th*.
I have a fancy for delivc.— . -__n
"If I teil you. what ther
"This: If you tell me pr# the fOOd 01
all goes well, I will return f
you. If I do not return, na ; un ® nt8
will not he released. Am ,rts and tb « 1
you meditate a treachery, 1 ** University ;
you and leave you, not here, bt.we the
a short distance, in the wood wé'Ç'-ScotJ
passed. And, because you are a braViat otcerc
man. and this thing may be less serfe beet fu*
mis than I think it is, I give you on
word of honor that if you advise,
correctly, I shall return and lib,
"I have only your word."
"And I yours," said Nikky.--
The chauffeur took a final
around, as far as he could se «
final shuddering look at the C- 1
the Ar. far below. "I will tel HHl-.U A1
-aid sullenly. * « • fa
The crown prince and a*.
cess Hedwig wait in vain fo. ****
return of Nikky, whose d T|k *
pearance they are unable to*
derstand. Watch for the ~ '
CTO -BT3 CONTINOaaa*
xml | txt