one side, threading their way among the throng of customers in the
cafe. Loud voices shouted for an explanation.
"It was a pickpocket," some one called out from among those who came
streaming from the room, - "a tall man with a wound on the forehead. Did
no one see him?"
They all looked towards the door.
"He passed out so swiftly," they murmured.
Several of them had already reached the door of the cafe and were
rushing down the street in the direction which Falkenberg had taken.
"There were two others," a grim voice shouted from behind.
A waiter, who had seen the two men sit down, looked doubtfully towards
them. Kendricks pushed a note into his hand.
"Serve us with something quickly," he begged.
The man pocketed the note and set before them the beer which he was
carrying. Kendricks, whose knuckles were bleeding, laid his hand under
the table. Julien took a long drink of the beer and began to recover
"So far," he declared, "I have found your evening with the masses a
"Wait till my hand has stopped bleeding," he said, "and we will slip
out. That was a narrow escape for Falkenberg. What a pluck the fellow
"It seems almost like a foolhardy risk," Julien muttered. "If those
fellows could have got at him, they'd have killed him. Have they gone
back to their room, I wonder? Let us hear what the people say about the
"What was the disturbance?" he asked.
The man shrugged his shoulders.
"It was a meeting in one of the private rooms of the cafe," he
declared, "a meeting of some society. They were taking a vote when they
discovered a pickpocket. He bolted out of the room. They say that he
has got away."
"Did he steal much?" Julien inquired.
The man shook his head.
"A watch and chain, or something of the sort," he told them. "The
excitement is all over now. The gentlemen have gone back to their
Julien smiled and finished his beer.
"Is our evening at an end, Kendricks?" he asked.
Kendricks shook his head.
"Not quite," he replied, binding his handkerchief around his knuckles.
"If you are ready, there is just one other call we might make."
"More German _brasseries_?"
Kendricks smiled grimly.
"Not to-night. We climb once more the hill. We pay our respects to
"The Rat Mort?"
Kendricks, as they entered the cafe, recognized his friends with joy
"It is fate!" he exclaimed, striking a dramatic attitude.
"It is the gentleman who ate both portions of chicken!" mademoiselle
"It is the gallant Englishman of the Cafe Helder," madame laughed, her
double chin becoming more and more evident.
"And yonder, in the corner, sits Mademoiselle Ixe," Kendricks whispered
to Julien. "For whom does she wait, I wonder?".
"For Herr Freudenberg?" suggested Julien.
"For Herr Freudenberg, let us pray," Kendricks replied.
The husband of madame, the father of mademoiselle, the rightly
conceived future papa-in-law-to-be of the attendant young man, rose to
his feet in response to a kick from his wife.
"If monsieur is looking for a table," he suggested, "there is room here
adjoining ours. It will incommode us not in the slightest."
"Of all places in the room," Kendricks declared, with a bow, "the most
desirable, the most charming. Madame indeed permits - and mademoiselle?"
There were more bows, more pleasant speeches. A small additional table
was quickly brought. Kendricks ignored the more comfortable seat by
Julien's side and took a chair with his back to the room. From here he
leaned over and conversed with his new friends. He started flirting
with mademoiselle, he paid compliments to madame, he suddenly plunged
into politics with monsieur. Julien listened, half in amusement, half
in admiration. For Kendricks was not talking idly.
"A man of affairs, monsieur," Kendricks proclaimed himself to be. "My
interest in both countries, madame," he continued, knowing well that
she, too, loved to talk of the affairs, "is great. I am one of those,
indeed, who have benefited largely by this delightful alliance."
Alliance! Monsieur smiled at the word. Kendricks protested.
"But what else shall we call it, dear friends?" he argued. "Are we not
allied against a common foe? The exact terms of the _entente_,
what does it matter? Is it credible that England would remain idle
while the legions of Germany overran this country?"
Monsieur was becoming interested. So was madame. It was madame who
spoke - one gathered that it was usual!
"What, then," she demanded, "would England do?"
"She would come to the aid of your charming country, madame."
"But how?" madame persisted pertinently.
Kendricks was immediately fluent. He talked in ornate phrases of the
resources of the British Empire, the perfection of her fleet, the
wonder of her new guns. Julien, who knew him well, was amazed not only
at his apparent earnestness, but at his insincerity. He was speaking
well and with a wealth of detail which was impressive enough. His
little company of new friends were listening to him with marked
attention; Julien alone seemed conscious that they were listening to a
man who was speaking against his own convictions.
"Monsieur! Monsieur Julien!"
It was the voice of Mademoiselle Ixe. She was leaning slightly forward
in her place. Julien turned quickly around and she motioned him to a
seat by her side. He rose at once and accepted her invitation.
"I do not disturb you?" she asked. "It seemed to me that your friend
was talking with those strange people there and that you were not very
much interested. It is dull when one sits here alone."
"Naturally," Julien agreed. "My friend talks politics, and for my part
it is very certain that I would sooner talk of other things with
She was a born flirt - a matter of nationality as well as temperament,
and not to be escaped - and her eyes flashed the correct reply. But a
moment later she was gazing wistfully at the door.
"You expect Herr Freudenberg?" Julien inquired.
"I cannot tell," she replied. "I must not say that I am expecting him
because he did not ask me to meet him here. But I thought, perhaps,
that he might come - so I risked it. I was restless to-night. I do not
sing this week because Herr Freudenberg is in Paris, and without any
occupation it is hard to control the thoughts. I sat at home until I
could bear it no longer. _Eh bien!_ I sent for a little carriage
and I ventured here. There is a chance that he may come."
"Mademoiselle permits that I offer her some supper?" Julien suggested.
She hesitated and glanced at the clock.
"You are very kind, Sir Julien," she answered. "I have waited because I
have thought that there was a chance that he might come, and to sup
alone is a drear thing. If monsieur really - Ah! Behold! After all, it
is he! It is he who comes. What happiness!"
It was indeed Herr Freudenberg who had mounted the stairs and was
yielding now his coat to the attentive _vestiaire_ - Herr
Freudenberg, unruffled and precisely attired in evening clothes. He
showed not the slightest signs of his recent adventure. He chatted
gayly to Albert and waved his hand to mademoiselle. He came towards
them with a smile upon his face, walking lightly and with the footsteps
of a young man. Yet mademoiselle shivered, her lip drooped.
"He is not pleased," she murmured. "I have done wrong."
There was nothing apparent to others in Herr Freudenberg's manner to
justify her conviction. He raised her fingers to his lips with charming
"Dear Marguerite," he exclaimed, "this is indeed a delightful surprise!
And Sir Julien, too! I am enchanted. Once more let us celebrate. Let us
sup. I am in time, eh?"
"With me, if you please," Julien insisted, taking up the menu.
Herr Freudenberg smiled genially.
"Host or guest, who cares so long as we are joyous?" he cried, sitting
on mademoiselle's other side. "Although to-night," he added, with a
humorous glance at Julien, "it should surely be I who entertains! Dear
He patted her hand. She looked at him pathetically and he smiled back
"Be happy, my child," he begged. "It is gone, that little twinge. It
was perhaps jealousy," he whispered in her ear. "Sir Julien has
captured many hearts."
She drew a sigh of content. She raised his hand to her lips. Then she
dabbed at her eyes with the few inches of perfumed lace which she
called a handkerchief. It was passing, that evil moment.
"There is no man in the world," she told him softly, "who should be
able to make you jealous. In your heart you know."
He laughed lightly.
"You will make me vain, dear one. Give me your little fingers to hold
for a moment. There - it is finished."
He looked around the room with the light yet cheerful curiosity of the
pleasure-seeker. Then he leaned over towards Julien.
"What does our shock-headed friend the journalist do in that company?"
he asked, with a backward motion of his head.
"He is devoted to madame with the double chin. He is apparently also
devoted to mademoiselle, the daughter of madame with the double chin.
He is contemplating, I believe, an alliance with the bourgeoisie."
Herr Freudenberg watched the group for a moment with a slight frown.
"They are types," he said under his breath, "absolute types. Kendricks
is studying them, without a doubt."
He continued his scrutiny of the room. Then he leaned towards
"There is Mademoiselle Soupelles there," he pointed out, "sitting with
an untidy-looking man in a morning coat and a red tie. You see them?"
"But certainly," mademoiselle agreed. "They are together always. It is
an alliance, that."
"It would please me," Herr Freudenberg continued, still speaking almost
under his breath, "to converse with the companion of Mademoiselle
Soupelles. From you, dear Marguerite, I conceal nothing. I made no
appointment with you to-night because it was my intention to speak with
that person, and I could not tell where he would be. All has happened
fortunately. We spend our evening together, after all. See what you can
do to help me. Go and talk to your friend, Mademoiselle Soupelles.
Bring them here if you can. Sir Julien thinks he is ordering the
supper, but he is too late; I ordered it from Albert as I entered."
Mademoiselle rose at once and shook out her skirts. She kissed her hand
across the room to her friend.
"I go to speak to her," she promised. "What I can do I will. You know
that, dear one. But he is a strange-looking man, this companion of
hers. You know who he is? His name is Jesen. If I were Susanne, I would
see to it that he was more _comme-il-faut_."
Herr Freudenberg laughed.
"Never mind his appearance," he said. "He can drive the truth into the
hearts of this people as swiftly and as surely as any man who ever took
up a pen. Bring him here, little sweetheart, and to-morrow we visit
She glanced at him almost reproachfully.
"As if that mattered!" she murmured, as she glided away.
Julien turned discontentedly to his companion.
"This fellow will take no order from me," he objected. "Do you own this
place, Herr Freudenberg, that you must always be obeyed here?"
"By no means," Herr Freudenberg replied. "To-night is an exception. I
ordered supper as I entered. You see, there are others whom I may ask
to join. You shall have your turn when you will and I will be a very
submissive guest, but to-night - well, I have even at this moment
charged mademoiselle with a message to her friend and her friend's
companion. I have begged them to join us. On these nights I like
company - plenty of company!"
"In that case, perhaps," Julien suggested, "I may be _de trop_."
Freudenberg laid his hand upon his companion's shoulder.
"My friend," he said earnestly, "it is not for you to talk like that,
to-night of all nights. If I say little, it is because we are both men
of few words, and I think that we understand. You know very well what
you and your shock-headed friend have done for me. Not that I believe,"
he went on, "that it would ever come to me to be hounded to death by
such a gang. I am too fervent a believer in my own star for that. But
one never knows. It is well, anyhow, to escape with a sound skin."
"Why did you run such a risk?" Julien asked him.
"Partly," Freudenberg answered, "because I was really curious to know
what those fellows were driving at; and partly," he added, "because,
alas! I am possessed of that restless spirit, that everlasting craving
for adventures, which drives one on into any place where life stirs. I
knew that these people were plotting something against me. I wanted to
hear it with my own ears, to understand exactly what it was against
which I must be prepared. But now, Sir Julien, I question you. As for
me, my presence there was reasonable enough; but what were you doing in
such a place? What interests have you in German socialism?"
Julien shrugged his shoulders.
"I cannot say that I have any," he admitted. "It was Kendricks who took
me. He is showing me Paris - Paris from his own point of view. He took me
first to a restaurant, where we dined for two francs and sat at the
same table with those people to whom he is now making himself so
agreeable. Kendricks has democratic instincts. His latest fad is to try
and instil them into me."
Herr Freudenberg looked thoughtfully across at the journalist, still
deep in argument with his friends.
"I am not sure that I understand that man," he declared. "In a sense he
impresses me. I should have put him down as one of those who do nothing
without a set and fixed purpose. But enough of other people. Listen. I
wish to speak with you - of yourself. I am glad that we have met
to-night. I have another and altogether a different proposition to make
Julien remained silent for several moments. Herr Freudenberg watched
"A proposition to make to me," Julien repeated at last. "Well, let me
Herr Freudenberg leaned towards him.
"Sir Julien," he said, "there has happened to you, as to many of us, a
little slip in your life. It is a wise thing if for a few months you
pass off the stage of European affairs. You are of an adventurous
spirit. Will you undertake a commission for me? Listen. I will
guarantee that it is something which does not, and could not ever, by
any chance, affect in the slightest degree the interests of your
country. It is a commission which will take you a year to execute, and
it will lead you into a new land. It will require tact, diplomacy and
some courage. If you succeed, your reward will be an income for life.
If you fail, the worst that can happen to you is that you will have
passed a year of your life without effective result. Still, you will at
least have traveled, you will at least have seen new phases of life."
Julien was puzzled.
"You cannot seriously propose to me," he protested, "to undertake a
diplomatic errand for a country which has absolutely no claims upon
me - to which I am not even attracted?" he added.
Herr Freudenberg tapped with his forefinger upon the table. Upon his
lips was a genial and tolerant smile. He had the air of a preceptor
devoting special pains upon the most backward member of his
"My friend," he said, "there is no political question involved
whatever. The mission which I ask you to undertake would lead you into
a remote part of Africa, where neither your country nor mine has at
present any interests. More than this I cannot tell you unless you show
signs of accepting my invitation. The negotiations which you would have
to conduct are simply these. Four years ago a distinguished German
scientist who was in command of a somewhat rash expedition, was
captured by the ruler of the country to which I wish you to travel. For
some time the question of a mission to ascertain his fate has been upon
the carpet. It is true that we have received letters from him. He
professes to be happy and contented, to have been kindly treated, and
to have accepted a post in the army of his captor. We wish to know
whether these letters are genuine or not. If they are genuine, all is
well, but a suspicion still remains among some of us that the person in
question is being held in torture as an example to other white men who
might penetrate so far. This is the first object in the journey which I
propose to you. There is nothing political about it at all, as you
perceive. It is purely a matter of humanity.... Ah! I see that our
party is to be increased. Here are some new friends who arrive."
Mademoiselle Ixe had succeeded. She returned now to her place, followed
by the girl with the chestnut-colored hair and her companion. At close
quarters the latter, at any rate, was scarcely prepossessing. He was a
man of middle age, untidily dressed, whose clothes were covered with
cigar ash and recent wine stains, whose linen was none of the cleanest,
and whose eyes behind his pince-nez were already bloodshot. Herr
Freudenberg, however, seemed to notice none of these unpleasant
defects. He grasped him vigorously by the hand.
"It is Monsieur Jesen!" he exclaimed. "Often you have been pointed out
to me, and I have long wished to have the pleasure of making your
acquaintance. Sit down and join us, monsieur. Your little friend,
too, - ah, mademoiselle!"
He bent low over the girl's hand and placed a seat for her. The party
was now arranged. Their host beamed upon them all.
"Come," he continued, "this is perhaps my last night in Paris for some
time! We have had adventures, too, within these few hours. You find us
celebrating. My English friend here is one of us. I will not introduce
him by name. Why should we trouble about names? We are all friends, all
good fellows, here to pass the time agreeably, to drink good wine, to
look into beautiful eyes, mademoiselle, to amuse ourselves. It is the
science of life, that. Monsieur Jesen, mademoiselle, dear Marguerite,
my English friend here, let me be sure that your glasses are filled. To
the very brim, garcon - to the very brim! Let us drink together to the
joyous evenings of the past, to the joyous evenings of the future, to
these few present hours that lie before us when we shall sit here and
taste further this very admirable vintage. To the wine we drink, to the
lips we love, to this hour of life!"
For the moment there was no more serious conversation. Herr Freudenberg
had started a vein of frivolity to which every one there was quick to
respond. Only every now and then he himself, the giver of the feast,
had suddenly the look of a different man as he sat and whispered in the
ear of Monsieur Jesen.
At two o'clock, with obvious reluctance, Kendricks' new friends
departed. Their leave-taking was long and ceremonious. Kendricks,
indeed, insisted upon escorting mademoiselle to the door. Madame left
the place with the assured conviction that a prospective son-in-law was
soon to present himself - it could be for no other reason that the
English gentleman had so sedulously attached himself to their party.
Monsieur, having less sentiment, was not so sure. Mademoiselle had both
hopes and fears. They discussed the matter fully on their homeward
Kendricks strolled over to the table where Julien was and touched him
on the shoulder.
"Is this to be another all-night sitting?" he asked.
Herr Freudenberg was deep in conversation with Monsieur Jesen - the
friend of mademoiselle's friend. He glanced up, but his greeting was
almost perfunctory. Kendricks looked keenly at the man who was leaning
back in his padded seat. The eyes of Monsieur Jesen were a little more
bloodshot now. He had spilt wine down the front of his waistcoat, cigar
ash upon his coat-sleeve. He was by no means an inviting person to look
at. Yet about his forehead and mouth there was an expression of power.
Herr Freudenberg, with obvious regret, abandoned his conversation for a
"You are taking your friend away?" he remarked suavely. "We shall part
from him with regret. Sir Julien," he added, whispering in his ear, "I
must have your answer to my proposition. I will put it into absolutely
definite shape, if you like, within the next few days."
"I move into my old rooms - number 17, Rue de Montpelier - to-morrow
morning, or rather this morning," Julien replied. "You might telephone
or call there at any time."
"Tell me, is what I have proposed in any way attractive to you?" Herr
Freudenberg asked, still speaking in an undertone.
"In a sense it is," Julien answered. "It needs further consideration,
of course. I must also consult my friend."
Herr Freudenberg glanced at Kendricks and shrugged his shoulders. He
had the air of one slightly annoyed. Kendricks was bending over
Mademoiselle Ixe. Herr Freudenberg whispered in Julien's ear.
"You take too much advice from your boisterous friend, dear Sir
Julien," he asserted. "Mark my words, he will try to keep you here,
cooling your heels upon the mat. He will prevent you from raising your
hand to knock upon the door of destiny. These men who write are like
that. They do not understand action."
Kendricks turned from mademoiselle.
"You are ready, Julien?" he asked.
"Quite," Julien answered.
They made their adieux. Herr Freudenberg watched them leave the room.
The man by his side - Monsieur Jesen - also watched a little curiously.
"An English journalist," Herr Freudenberg remarked, "some say a man of
ability. I find him a trifle boisterous and uncouth. Monsieur Jesen,
our conversation interests me immensely. I feel sure - "
Jesen looked suspiciously around.
"We have talked enough of business," he declared. "It is an idea, this
of yours. For the rest, I cannot tell. A wonderful idea!" he continued.
"And as for me, am I not the man to embrace it?"
"You have but to say a single word," Herr Freudenberg reminded him
softly, "and all is arranged."
Monsieur Jesen puffed furiously at a cigarette. The fingers which had
held the match to it were shaking. The man himself seemed unsteady on
his seat. Yet it was obvious that his brain was working.
"Herr Freudenberg," he said, "there is but one weak point in all your
chain of arguments. To do as you ask, it will be necessary that I - I,
Paul Jesen, so well-known, whose opinions are followed by millions of
my country people - it would be necessary for me to abandon my
convictions, to turn a right-about-face. Ask yourself, is it not like
selling one's honor when one writes the things one does not believe?"
Herr Freudenberg smiled.
"My friend, you ask me a question the reply to which is already spoken.
I tell you that behind, at the back of your brain, you know and realize
the truth of all these things. Think, man! Call to mind the arguments I
have used. Remember, I have lifted the curtain, I have shown you the
things that arrive, the things that are inevitable."
Mademoiselle, the companion of Monsieur Jesen, had had enough of this.
It was her weekly holiday. She yawned and tapped her friend upon the
"My dear Paul," she protested, "while you and Herr Freudenberg talk as
two men who have immense affairs, Marguerite and I we weary ourselves.
If I am to be alone like this, very good. I speak to my friends. There
is Monsieur de Chaussin there. He throws me a kiss. Do you wish that I
sit with him? He looks, indeed, as though he had plenty to say! Or
there is the melancholy Italian gentleman, who raises his glass always
when I look. And the two Americans - "
"You have reason, little one," Monsieur Jesen interrupted. "Herr
Freudenberg, this is no place for such a discussion."
"Agreed!" Herr Freudenberg exclaimed. "We owe our apologies to
mademoiselle, your charming friend, and mademoiselle, my adored
companion," he added, turning to Marguerite. "Come, let us drink more
wine. Let us talk together. What is your pleasure, mademoiselle, the
friend of my good friend, Monsieur Jesen? Will you have them dance to
us? Is there music to which you would listen? Or shall we pray
Marguerite here that she sings? Let us, at any rate, be gay. And for
the rest, Monsieur Jesen, time has no count for us who live our lives.
When we leave here, you and I will talk more."
It was daylight before they left. The whole party got into Herr
"I drive you first to your rooms, Monsieur Jesen," he said. "I take
then the liberty of entering with you. The little conversation which we
have begun is best concluded within the shelter of four walls."