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The St. Charles herald. [volume] (Hahnville, La.) 1873-1993, April 13, 1918, Image 5

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85034322/1918-04-13/ed-1/seq-5/

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S'
By MARY ROBERTS RINEHART
Trtg t, 1917, by the Ridgway Company All Rights Reserved Copyright, 1317, hy Mary Roberts Rinehart
COUNTESS LOSCHEK PLOTS TO FRUSTRATE THE MAR
RIAGE OF KARL AND HEDWIG
Synopsla. —The crown prince of Livonia, Ferdinand Willlum otto,
cn years old. taken to the opera by his aunt, tires of the* singing and
s po away to the park, where he makes the acquaintance of Bobby
orpe, a little American boy. Returning to the palace at night, he
llnds everything in an uproar ns a result of the search which has been
made for him. The same night tho chancellor calls to consult the
,<J > s grnndfather, the old king, who is very ill. The chancellor sug
gests that to preserve the kingdom, which is threatened by plots of
the terrorists to form n republic, the friendship of tin* neighboring
kingdom of Kamia be secured by giving the Princess Hedwig in mar
riage to King Karl of that country.
CHAPTER ill.—Continued.
Tho chancellor strode around the
screen, scratching two tables with his
•word as he advanced, and kissed the
hand of the Princess Annunciata. They
were old enemies and therefore al
ways very polite to each other. The
archduchess offered him a cup of tea,
which he took, although she ulways
made very bad tea. And for a few
moments they discussed things. Thus :
the king's condition ; the replanting of
the place with trees; and the date of
7
r
A
Î
%
W
»
They Were Old Enemies.
bringing out the Princess Hilda, who
was still in the school room.
But the archduchess suddenly came
to business. She was an abrupt per
son. "And now, general," she said,
"what is it?"
"I am in trouble, highness," replied
the chancellor simply.
"We are most of us in that condition
at all times. I suppose you mean this
absurd affair of yesterday. Why such
a turmoil about it! The boy ran
away. When he was ready he re
turned. He is here now. and safe."
"I am afraid he Is not as safe as
you think, madame",
"Why?"
He sat forward on the edge of his
chair, and told her of the 'udents at
the university, who wen mg Üred j
by some powerful voice ; the dis- !
appearance of the two si *<'s; of the
evidence that the Committee of Ten
was meeting again, and the failure to
discover their meeting place; of dis
affection among the people, according
to the reports of his agents. And then
to the real purpose of his visit. Karl
of Kamia had, unofficially, proposed
for the Princess Hedwig. He had
himself broached the matter to the
king, who had at least taken it under
advisement. The archduchess list
ened, rather pale.
"Madame, after centuries of inde
pendence we now face a crisis which
we cannot meet alone. Believe me, I
know of what I speuk. United, we
could stand against the world. Bnt a
divided kingdom, a disloyal and dis
contented people, spells the end.
And at last he convinced her. Bnt,
because she was built of a contrary ;
mold, she voiced on objection, not to
tho scheme, hut to Karl hlmsel .
dislike him. He Is arrogant and
'But
___ powerful, madame. Aud
it else is there to do?"
?bere was nothing else, and she
•w It. But she refused to broach
matter to Hedwig,
md It ended with the ehnneellor,
king most ferocious but inwardly
asv. undertaking to put. as one may
a flea into the Princess Hedwig's
*3 he strode out. the door into the
t room closed quietly.
CHAPTER IV.
— '
Th# Letter.
le Countess Loschek was alone,
ne and storming. She had sent her
it
j
!
I
a
;
maid away with a sharp word, and
now she was pacing the floor.
Hedwig, of all people!
She hated her. She had always
hated her. For her youth, first ; later,
when she saw how things were going,
for the accident that had made her a
granddaughter to the king.
And Karl !
Even this Inst June, when Karl had
made his looked-for visit to the sum
mer palace where the court had been
In residence, he had already had the
thing In mind. Even when his arms
had been about her, Olga Loschek, he
had been looking over her shoulder,
ns it were, at Hedwig. He had had it
all In his wicked head, even then. For
Karl was wicked. She loathed him
while she loved him.
Hedwig would marry Karl. She
might be troublesome, would indeed
almost certainly be troublesome.
Strangely enough, the countess hated
her the more for that. To vaine so
lightly the tiling for which Olga
Loschek would have given her soul,
this in itself was hateful. But there
was more. The countess saw much
with her curiously wide, almost child
ishly bland eyes; it was only now that
it occurred to her to turn what she
knew of Hedwig and Nikky to account.
She stopped pacing the floor, and
sat down. Suppose Hedwig and Nikky
Larisch went away together? Hod
wig, she felt, would have the courage
even for that. That would stop things.
But Hedwig did not trust her. And
there was about Nikky a dog-like qual
ity of devotion, which warned her
that, the deeper his love for Hedwig,
tho more unlikely he would be to
tiring her to disgrace. Nikky might
be difficult.
She must try for Hedwig** con
fidence ! But Karl ! How to reach
him? Not with reproaches, not with
anger. She knew her man well. To
hold him off was the first thing. To
postpone the formal proposal, and gain
time. If the ehnneellor had been right,
and things were as bad as they ap
peared, the king's dentil would precipi
tate n crisis. Might, Indeed, overturn
the throne.
The king was very feeble. Tills
affair of yesterday had told on him.
The gossip of the court was that the
duy had seen a change for the worse.
His heart was centered on the crown
prince.
Ah, here was another viewpoint.
Suppose the crown prince had not
come back? What would happen, with
the king dead, and no king? Chaos,
of course. A free hand to revolution.
Hedwig fighting for her throne, and
Inevitably losing It.
But that was further than she oared
to go Just then. She would finish cer
tain work that she had set out to do,
and then she was through. No longer
would dread and terror grip her tn the
night hours.
But she would finish. Karl should
never say she had failed him. She
had in her possession papers for which
he waited or pretended to wait: data
secured by means she did not care to
remember; plans and figures carefully
compiled—a thousand deaths in one. If
they were found on her. She would
get them out of her hands at once.
It was still but little after five. She
brought her papers together on her
small mahogany desk, from such hid
ing places as women know—the linings
of perfumed sachets, the toes of email
slippers, the secret pocket In a muff;
and having locked her doors, put
them In order. Her hands were
trembling, but she worked skillfully.
She was free until the dinner hour,
but >he had a great deal to do. The
papers in order, she went to a panel
in the wall of her dressing room, nnd,
sliding it aside, revealed the safe in
which her Jewels were kept. Not that
her Jewels were very valuable, hut the
safe was there, and she used It.
The countess took out a Jewel-case,
emptied It, lifted its chamois cushions,
and took out a small book. It was an
indifferent hiding place, but long Im
munity had made her careless. Re
ferring to the book, she wrote a letter
In code. It was. to all appearances,
a friendly letter referring to a family
In her native town, and asking that
the recipient see that assistance be
sent them before Thursday of the fol
lowing week. The assistance was
specified with much detail—at her ex
pense to send so many blankets, so
many loaves of bread, a long list
Having finished, she destroyed, by
burning, a number of papers, watch
ing until the last ash had turned from
to
no
he
to
of
a
of
a
j

dull red to smoking gray. The code
l«Kik she hesitated over, but at last,
with a shrug of her shoulders, she re
turned it to its hiding place in the*
Jewel-case.
Coupled with her bitterness was a
sense of relief. Only when the papers
were destroyed had she realized the
weight they had tieen. She summoned
Minna, tier maid, and dressed for tho
street. Then, Minna accompanying
her. she summoned her carriage and
went shopping.
She reached the palace again in
time to dress for dinner. Somewhere
on that excursion she hud left the let
ter, to be sent to its destination over
the border by special messenger that
night
I'rince Ferdinand William Otto, at
the moment of her return, was pre
paring for bed. He washed himself,
with Oskar standing by, holding a
great soft towel. Even the towels
were too large. And he brushed his
teeth, and had two drinks of water,*
because a stlfllsh feeling in his throat
persisted. And at last he crawled up
into the high bed that was so much
too big for him, and had to crawl out
again, becauso he had forgotten his
prayers.
When everything was done, and the
hour of putting out the light could no
longer be delayed, he said good night
to Oskar, who bowed. There was a
great deal of bowing in Otto's world.
Then, whisk ! it was dark, with only
the moon fuce of the cathedral clock
for company. And as it was now
twenty minutes pnst seven, the two
hands drooped until it looked like a
face with a cruel mouth, and was
really very poor company.
Oskar, having bowed himself into
the corridor and past the two sentries,
reported to a very great dignitary
across the hall that his royal highness
the Crown Prince Ferdinand William
Otto was in bed. And the dignitary
had a chance to go away and get his
dinner.
But alone in his great bed. the
crown prince was shedding a few
shamefaced tears. He was extremely
ashamed of them, ne felt that under
no circumstances would his soldier
fnther have behaved so. He reached
out and secured one of the two clean
folded handkerchiefs that were always
placed on the bedside stand at night,
nnd blew his nose very loudly. But
he could not sleep.
He gave Miss Braithwaite time to go
to her sitting room, and for eight
o'clock to pass, because once every
hour, all night, a young gentlemun of
the court, appointed for this puriiose
and dabbed a "wet nurse" by Jealous
comrades, cautiously opened his door
and made a stealthy circuit of the
room, to see that ail was well.
The crown prince pH up. He neg
lected to put on his bedroom slippers,
of course, and in his bare feet he
padded across the room to the study
door. It was not entirely dark. A
night light burned there. It stood on
a table directly under the two crossed
swords. Beneath the swords, In a
burnt wood frame, were the pictures
of his father and mother. Hedwig had
given him a wood-burning outfit at
Christmas, and he had done the work
himself. It consisted of the royal
arms, somewhat out of drawing and
not exactly in the center of the frame,
and a floral border of daisies, ex
tremely geometrical, because he had
drawn them In first with a compass.
The boy, however, gave the pictures
only a hasty glance and proceeded, In
a businesslika manner, to carry a
straight chair to the cabinet. On the
top shelf sat the old cloth dog. Its
shoe-button eyes looked glazed with
sleep, hut its ears were quite alert,
Very cautiously the crown prince un
locked the dotir, stepped precariously
to the lower shelf of the cabinet,
hung there by one royal hand, und
lifted the dog down.
At nine o'clock the wet nurse took
off his sword in another room and
leaned it ugalust a chair. Then he
examined his revolver, in accordance
with a formula prescribed by the old
king. Then he went in nnd examined
the room with u flashlight, und lis
tened to the crown prince's breathing.
He had been a croupy baby. And, at
last, he turned the flashlight on to the
tied. A pair of shoe-button eyes
stared at him from the pillow.
"Well, I'm-!" said the wet nurse.
And went out, looking thoughtful.
• •••••*
In a shop where, that afternoon, the
countess had purchased some Lyons
silks, one of the clerks, Peter Ni burg,
was free at last. At seven o'clock,
having put awuy the last rolls of silk
on the shelves behind him, and covered
them with calico to keep off the dust ;
having given a final glance of disdain
at the clerk in the linens, ucross;
having reached under the counter for
his stiff black hat of good quality and
his silver-topped cane; having donned
the hat and hung the stick to his arm
with two swnggerlng gestures ; having
prepared his offensive, so to speak, he
advanced.
Between Peter NIburg and Herman
Spier of the linen», was a feud. Its
source, in the person of a pretty
cashier, had gone, but the feud re
mained. It was of the a*ct that smiles
i
with the lips and scowls with the eyes
that speaks pleasantly quite awful !
things, although it was Peter NIburg j
who did most of the talking.
And Herman hated Peter. The cash- !
1er was gone, had married a restaurant i
keeper, and already she waxed fat.
But Herman's hatred grew with the j
days. And business being bad. much !
of the time he stood behind his linens
nnd thought about a certain matter,
which was this :
How did Peter NIburg do It?
They were paid the same scant
wage. Each Monday they stood to
gether, Peter smiling and he frowning,
und received into open palms exactly
enough to live on, without extras. And
each Monday Peter pocketed his cheer
fully, and went back to his post, twirl
ing his mustache as though all the
money of the realm Jingled In his
trousers.
To accept the Inevitable, to smile
over one's poverty, that is one thing.
But there was more to it. Peter made
his money go amazingly far. It was
Peter, for instance, who the summer
before, the American Scenic Railway
had opened to the public, with much
crossing of flags, the national emblem
and the stars and stripes, it was Peter
who had Invited the lady to an eve
ning of thrills on that same railway
at a definite sum per thrill.
It was Peter, then, who made the
Impossible possible, who wore good
clothes and did not have his boots
patched, who went, rumor said, to the
opera now and then, nnd followed the
score on his own battered copy.
IIow?
Herman Spier had suspected him of
many things ; had secretly audited his
cash slips; had watched him for sur
reptitious parcels of silk. Once he ha<l
thought he had him. But the package
of Lyons silk, opened by the pro
prietor at Herman's suggestion, proved
to be material for a fancy waistcoat,
and paid for by Peter Niburg's own
hand.
With what? Herman stood con
fused, even confounded, but still
suspicious. And now, this very day.
he had stumbled on something. A
great lady from the court had made a
purchase, and had left, under n roil
of silk, a letter. There was no mis
take. And Peter NIburg had put
away the silk, and pocketed the letter,
after a swift glance over the little
shop.
An intrigue, then, with Peter Nibnrg
ns the go-between, or—something else.
Something vastly more Important, the
discovery of which would bring Her
man prominence beyond his fellows In
a certain secret order to which he be
longed.
In a way, he was a stupid man, this
pale-eyed clerk who sold the quaint
red nnd yellow cottons of the common
people side by side with the heavy
linens that furnished forth the tallies
of the rich. But hatred gave him wits.
Gave him speed, too. He was only
thirty feet behind Peter Nibnrg when
that foppish gentleman reached the
corner.
Herman was skilled in certain mat
ters. He knew, for instance, that a
glance Into u shop window, a halt to
tie a shoe, mny be a ruse for pass
ing a paper to other hands. But Peter
did not stop. He went, not more
swiftly than usual, to his customary
.Il
Se
F?.
i
******
rt
m
wmm
m
mm
i wm '
a, 7
'/A mill
He Lurked in the Shadows Outside
and Watched.
restaurant, one which faced over the
square and commanded a view of the
palace. And there he settled himself
in u window and ordered his dinner.
From the outside Herman stared
In. He lurked in the shadows outside,
and watched,
Peter sat alone, ond stared out.
Herman took shelter, and watched.
But Peter Nibnrg did not see him.
His eyes were fixed on the gloomy
i
J mass «cross, shot with small lights|
from di.'i'ji windows, which vviis tin* j
a
p
«•rer was i aim. He lie
,i ,.
irr!' '! !
1
\ such 1.-Itol-S as tile oil
• r.< *,
*• hiil- !
:
th u
ill hi** breast pocket.
X * *
eon-i
scie
•me stirred in him. I
f Ik
> dill
not
do this work, others w<
iuld.
-■
!
ie had until midnight.
At
that
hot!
r a messenger would r
•oeiv
e tile
!
j
!
i
j
!
letter from him in the colonnad
tin* cathedral. On this night, each
week, the messenger waited. Some
times there was a letter, sometimes
none. That was nil. It was amazing
ly simple, and for it one received the
difference between penury and com
fort.
Slicing Peter settled, a sfearning
platter before him. Herman turned
and hurried through the night. Tiiis
which he had hapr*ened on was a big
thing, too big for him alone. Two
heads were better than o ■*. He
would take advice.
Off the main avenue in* fell into a
smart trot. The color carne to his j
pole cheeks. A cold sweat broke out
over him. He was short of wind from j
many cigarettes. But at iast he j
reached the house. j
Black Humbert was not in his bn- j
reeu, behind th*- grating. With easy
familiarity Herman turned to a door
beyond and entered. A dirty little
room, it was littered now with the
preparations for a meal, on the bur«*
table were n loaf, a Jug of beer, and
a dish of fried veal. Tie* concierge
was at the stove making gravy in a
frying pun—a huge man, bearded and
heavy of girth, yet stepping lightly, ;
like a' cat. A dark man and called
"the Mack," he yet revealed, on full '
glunee, eyes curiously pule and flat, j
No greeting passed between them.
Humbert gave his visitor a quick
glance. Herman closed the door, und
wiped out the band of his liât. The
concierge i>oured the gravy over the
meat
"I have discovered something." Her
nrnn said. "As to its value, I know
nothing, or its use to us."
"Let me judge that"
"It is a matter of a letter."
"Sit down, man, and tell it. Or do
you wish me to draw the Information,
like had teeth?"
"A letter from the palace," said
Herman. And explained.
Biuek Humbert listened. He was j
skeptical, but not entirely incredulous, j
He knew the court—none better. The
women of the court wrote many let
ters. He saw a number of them,
through one of his men in the post
office. There were many intrigues.
After all, who could blame them? The
court was dreary enough these days,
and if they chose to amuse themselves
as liest they could—one must make
allowances.
"A liaison!" he said at last, with
his mouth full. "The countess is hand
some, and bored. Annunciata is driv
ing her to wickedness, as she drove
lier husband. But It is worth consid
eration. Even the knowledge of an
intrigue is often helpful. Of what
size was the letter?"
"A small envelope. I saw no more."
"So." The big man rose, and un
tied his soiled apron. "Go back," he
said, "and enter the restaurant. Or
der a small meal, that you may have j
finished when he does. Leave with
hlin and suggest the Hungaria."
"Ilungarln! I have no money."
"You will need no money. Now,
mark this: At a certain corner you
will be attacked and robbed. A mere
form," he added, ns lie saw Herman's
pallid face go whiter. "For the real
envelope will be substituted another.
In his breast pocket, you said. Well,
then suggest going to his room. He
may." added the concierge grimly, "re
quire your assistance. Leave him at
his lodging, but watch the house. It
is Important to know to whom he de
livers these letters."
As the man stood, he seemed to the
cowering Herman to swell until he
dominated the room. He took on au
thority. To Herman came suddenly
the memory of a hidden room, and
many men, and one. huge and tower
, who held the others in the hollow
of Ills hand. Back went Herman over
ids earlier route. But now he did not
run. Ills craven knees shook beneath
him. Fresh sweat, not of haste but
of fear, broke out over him. He who
was brave enough of tongue In the
meetings, who wits capable <>f rising
to heights of cruelty that amounted to
ferocity when one of a mob, was a
eownrd alone.
However, the sight of the restaurant,
and of his fellow clerk eating calmly,
quieted him. Peter NIburg was still
alone. Herman took a table near him,
and ordered a bowl of soup. Ills
hands shook, but the hot food revived
him. After all. it was simple enough,
i But, of course, it hinged entirely on
ids fellow clerk's agreeing to accom
pany him.
He glanced across. Peter NIburg
was eating, but bis eyes were fixed
on Madame Marie, at her high desk.
There was speculation in them, and
something else. Triumph, perhaps.
Suddenly Herman became calm.
Calm with hate.
And, after all. It was very easy.
Peter NIburg was lonely. The burden
of the letter oppressed him. He
wanted the comfort of human conver
sation and the reassurance of a
familiar face. When the two met at
the rack by the door which contained
their lints. h!s expression was almoct
friendly. They went out together.
"A fine night," said Herman, and
cast an eye at the sky.
"Fine enough."
"Too good to waste In sleep. I was
thinking." observed Herman, "of an
hour or two at the Hungaria."
The Hungaria! Something in Peter's
pleasure-hungry heart leaped, but he
mocked his fellow clerk.
"Since when," he Inquired, "have
you frequented the Huoguria?"
f I
»
If
let
ing
Li
I
of
j
"I feel In the mood." was the some*
a hat sullen reply, "I work hard
■Hough. God knows, to have a little
a ngor wa»
!
1 pleasure mm >m! then." 1
!
: nil ing him shrew d. lb* tu
from Peter Niburg. then
gain. "If you t are to «.urn
-■ steil. "Not SUppOT, !
stand, bur a glass of ivi
'champagne," he added.
j
j
j
j
;
'
j
j
j
j
I peter Niburs
in* sug
yoii umler
fond Ol' sweet
(Juicily lu* pushed bis hat to tho
» a k of bis h< :.d, and hung his stick.
o\er ids forearm. After ail, why not?
Marie was gone. Let the past die.
If Herman could make the first move,
let him, Peter, make the second, lia
link* d arms with his old enemy.
"A line night." he said.
CHAPTER V.
The Right to Live and Love.
Dinner was over in the dull old din
ing room. The Archduchess An
nuacinta lighted n cigarette, anil
glanced acres* tin* table at H. einig.
Hedwig had I....... very silent during
tin* ineul. She had replied civilly
•r
Li V- ' •"
B
'U
V4
V
L
r
"Since When," He Inquired, "Have
You Frequented the Hungaria?"
when spoken to. Dut that was nil. Her
mother, who had caught the countess*
trick of narrowing her eyes, inspected
her from under lowered lids.
"Well?" she said. "Are you still
sulky?"
"I? Not at all, mother." Her head
went up, and she confronted her
mother squarely.
"I should like to inquire, if I may," **
observed the archduchess, "jnst how
you have spent the day. This morn*
nlng, for instance?"
Hedwig shrugged lier shoulders, but
her color rose.
"I rode."
"Where?"
"At the riding school, with Otto."
"Only with Otto?"
"Captain Larisch was there."
"Of course! Then you have prac
tically spent the day with him!"
"I have spent most of the day wit!»
Otto."
"This devotion to Otto—it is new,
I think. You were eager to get out
of the nursery. Now, it appears, you
must ily hack to schoolroom teas and
other absurdities. I should like to
know why."
"I think Otto is lonely, mother."
The archduchess was in one of her
sudden moods of irritation. Hedwig's
remark about Otto's loneliness, the
second that day, struck home. In lien
anger she forgot her refusal to the c
chancellor.
"I have something to say 'K
put an end to ttils sentiir
sense of yours, Hedwig, fe
bid your seeing this j*
Larisch, if I felt it , en p,»
not. You would pr C c_
anyhow, for that J01)() ^ v
and threw le |n
"!t Is tiTi, sl Monday
1,1 mak, ' Monday ir* ; i. J y
innv no* ., T, ' J
yo„r gr/ ü, ' n l '' e "
you tin, . ''»»'»»day i
from J *" 1 ' t ' 1 :,,i ' ■
Hedw 1 J - y o .
ing, veJMidnj m ■
the tab
"Not
The
not ail * jfiç jjood our?,
her chili
were her''* 11 * ' '
all that she'-mr! .ho F v .!- v.
and young. rv-rsity pr'*vo
most like regr* the- n-jr ,<*di
"Don't look lil>-e . oil
said. "It is ny li,t of or - t
nil. one marrthe best '*
difference Ht food on h.
men. If Vl keep
the thing!
"But
"surely I
Annun
had all
she w .
burned»
caus
eral i
the ne
TJX*
u

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