moment for mother! She never troubled even to raise her lorgnettes. She
never attempted any of that glaring-through-you sort of business. She
just looked up at Mrs. Carraby's hand and looked up at her eyes and
walked by without changing a muscle. Of course I did the same - very
nearly as well, too, I believe. Cat!"
Julien frowned slightly.
"You can imagine," he said, "that I am not very keen about discussing
Mrs. Carraby. Yet, after all, her husband and his career were, I
suppose, the most important things in life to her."
"Then she's going to have a pretty rocky time," Lady Anne decided. "I
don't understand much about politics, but I know it's no use putting a
tradesman into the Foreign Office. He's wobbly already, and as for Mrs.
Carraby - well, I don't know if she ever went on with you like it,
Julien, but you remember Bob Sutherland - the one in the Guards, I
mean? - well, she's going an awful pace with him."
"I think," he declared, "that Mrs. Carraby can take care of herself."
"Perhaps," Lady Anne replied, looking thoughtfully at her cigarette.
"You see, the woman knows in her heart that she's impossible. She
copies all our bad tricks. She sees that we all flirt as a matter of
course, and she tries to outdo us. It's the old story. What one person
can do with impunity, another makes an awful hash of. We can go to the
very gates because when we get there we know how to shrug our shoulders
and turn away. I am not sure that Mrs. Carraby has breeding enough for
that. She'll go through, if Bob has his way."
"You are becoming rather an advanced young person," Julien remarked, as
he paid the bill.
"My dear Julien," she said, "I've told you before that you never knew
me. If you had appreciated me as I deserved, when you came that cropper
you wouldn't have called on me to say good-bye. You'd have left that
red-headed friend of yours at home and told me that the empty place in
the taxicab was mine."
He laughed and then suddenly became grave.
"Supposing I had?" he whispered.
She looked at him, startled. In that moment he seemed to see a new
thing in her face, a new and marvelous softness. It passed like a
flash - so swiftly that it left him wondering whether it was not indeed
a trick of his imagination.
"Absurd!" she murmured. "Tell me, what is there we can do now? Must I
"On the contrary," he declared, "you are engaged to me for the evening.
Only I must call at my rooms. Do you mind?"
"I mind nothing," she assured him. "Let us take a carriage and drive
about the streets. Julien, what a yellow moon!"
They clambered into a little _voiture_, and with a hoarse shout
and a crack of the whip from the _cocher_, they started off. Lady
Anne leaned back with an exclamation of content.
"If only it weren't so theatrical!" she sighed. "The streets seem so
clean and the buildings so white and the sky so blue and the people so
gay. Yet I suppose the bitterness of life is here as in the other
places. Why do you want to call at your rooms, Julien?"
"There is just a chance," he explained, "that there may be a telegram
from Kendricks. I want to know what they think of my article."
She laughed scornfully.
"I can tell you that. There is only one thing they can think. How these
people will hate you who are trying to make mischief between France and
Julien smiled grimly.
"I shouldn't be surprised," he admitted. "It may come to a tussle
between us yet."
They pulled up before the door of his rooms. She, too, alighted.
"I want to see what your quarters are like," she said calmly. "I may
come up, mayn't I?"
"By all means," he assented.
She followed him up the dark stairs and into his room. He turned on the
lights. She looked around at his little salon, with its French
furniture, its open windows with the lime trees only a few feet away,
and threw herself into an easy-chair with a sigh of content.
"Julien, how delightful!" she exclaimed. "Is there anything for you?"
He walked to the mantelpiece. There was a telegram and a note for him.
The former he tore open and his eyes sparkled as he read it aloud.
Magnificent. Be careful. Am coming over at once.
He passed it on to her. Then he opened the note.
I am coming to your rooms for my answer to-night.
Even as he read it there was a knocking at the door. She looked up
"Who is that?"
"It may be the man who writes me here," he told her.
She rose softly to her feet and pointed to the door which divided the
apartments. He nodded and she passed through into the inner room.
Julien went to the outside door and threw it open. It was indeed Herr
Freudenberg who stood there.
"Come in," he invited.
Herr Freudenberg removed his hat and entered.
Herr Freudenberg was dressed for the evening with his usual fastidious
neatness. He had the air of a man who had been engaged for many nights
in some arduous occupation. There were dark rims under his eyes, the
lines upon his forehead were deeper. Nevertheless, he smiled with
something of his old gayety as he accepted the chair which Julien
placed for him.
"My dear Sir Julien," he said, "I have come a good many hundred miles
at a most inconvenient moment for the sake of a brief conversation with
Julien raised his eyebrows.
"You surprise me!" he exclaimed. "I had no idea that the mission you
spoke of was so urgent."
"Nor is it," Herr Freudenberg replied. "As a matter of fact, it
scarcely exists at all, or if it did exist, it was created simply as a
means of removing you from within the reach of practical politics for
some months. I have foresight, you see, Sir Julien. I saw what was
coming. Permit me to tell you that I do not like your letter in _Le
Grand Journal_ yesterday, a letter which I understand appeared also
in the London _Post_."
"I am sorry," Julien said calmly. "Still, to be perfectly frank, it
wasn't written with a view of pleasing or displeasing you. It was
written in a strenuous attempt to preserve the friendship between
France and England."
"It is to be followed, I presume, by others?" Herr Freudenberg asked.
"It is the first of a series," Julien admitted.
"You know," Herr Freudenberg remarked, glancing at his finger-nails for
a moment, "that it is most diabolically clever?"
"You flatter me," Julien murmured.
"Not at all. I have spoken the truth. I am here to know what price you
will take to suppress the remainder of the series."
"I will take," he replied, "the exact amount of the last war indemnity
which was paid to you by France."
Herr Freudenberg smiled.
"A mere trifle to the war indemnity we shall be asking from England
before very long."
"I am not avaricious," Julien declared. "Those are my terms."
Herr Freudenberg sighed.
"My friend," he said, "it would be better if you talked of this matter
reasonably. There are other ways of securing the non-continuance of
those letters than by purchase."
"Precisely," Julien answered, "but Paris, in its beaten thoroughfares,
at any rate, is a law-abiding city. I don't fancy that I shall come to
much grief here."
"A brave man," Herr Freudenberg remarked, "seldom believes that he will
come to grief."
"If the blow falls, nevertheless, it is at least considerate of you
that you bring me warning!"
"Rubbish!" Herr Freudenberg interposed. "Listen, Sir Julien, I ask you
to consider this matter as a reasonable person. We don't want war. We
don't mean to have war. But the desire of my Ministers - my own
desire - really is to inflict a crushing diplomatic humiliation upon the
present Government of Great Britain. It is composed of incompetent and
objectionable persons. We desire to humiliate them. Yet who is it that
we find taking up the cudgels on their behalf? You - the man whom they
drove out, the man whom from sheer jealousy they ousted from their
ranks. Why, you should be with us, not against us."
"I have no grudge whatever against my party," Julien said. "You seem to
have been misinformed upon that subject. Besides, I am an Englishman
and a patriot. The whole series of my articles will be written, and I
shall do my best to point out exactly the means by which this present
coolness between our two countries has been engineered."
"I will give you," Herr Freudenberg offered, "a million francs not to
write those articles."
Julien pointed to the door.
"You are becoming offensive!"
Herr Freudenberg rose slowly to his feet. There was a little glitter in
"I have gone out of my way," he declared, "to be friendly with you,
most obstinate of Englishmen. That now is finished. You shall not write
"You threaten me?"
"There are times," Julien remarked quietly, "when I scarcely know
whether to take you seriously. There is surely a little of the
burlesque about such a statement?"
Herr Freudenberg shrugged his shoulders slightly.
"You think so? Nevertheless, no man whom I have ever threatened has
done the thing against which I have warned him."
Julien turned towards the door to open it. Herr Freudenberg, with
footsteps like a cat, came up behind him. Suddenly he threw his long,
sinewy arm around the other's neck. Taken utterly unprepared, Julien
was powerless. Herr Freudenberg swung him round upon his back and knelt
upon his chest.
"This," he said calmly, "distresses me extremely. Yet what am I to do?"
He whistled softly. The door was opened. Estermen came in with
suspicious alacrity. There was scarcely any need of words. In a moment
Julien's legs and arms were bound and a gag thrust between his teeth.
Herr Freudenberg moved before the door and listened.
"Estermen has reported to me," he remarked, "that you keep no
manservant. Any intrusion here, therefore, is scarcely to be feared.
You will permit me?"
He took one of the tumblers from the tray, rinsed it out with
soda-water, and poured the contents of a small phial into it. Then he
came and stood over Julien.
"My obstinate Englishman," he proceeded, "this tumbler contains the
waters of forgetfulness. Let me assure you upon my honor that the
liquid is harmless. Its one effect is to reduce those who take it to
such a state that for the space of a week or two their mental faculties
are impaired. You will drink this in a few minutes. You will awake
feeling weak, languid, indisposed for exercise, incapable of mental
effort. The doctor will prescribe a tonic, you will go away, but it
will be months before you are able to set yourself to any task
requiring the full use of your faculties. At the end of that time, I
trust that you will have found wisdom. Will you swallow the draught?"
Julien shook his head violently. Herr Freudenberg sighed.
"I was hoping," he continued, "that you would not force me to mention
the alternative. I should dislike exceedingly having to inflict any
more lasting injury upon you, but you stand in my path and I permit no
one to do that. Drink, and in a month or two all will be as it is now.
Refuse, and I shall leave Estermen to deal with you, and let me warn
you that his methods are not so gentle as mine. More men than one who
have been foolish have disappeared in Paris."
"If you move a step this way," a calm voice said from the other end of
the room, "I shall shoot."
Herr Freudenberg turned his head. Estermen, whose nerves were less
under control, gave a little cry. Lady Anne was standing upon the
threshold of the doorway between the two rooms, and in her very steady
hand was grasped a small revolver. The two men were speechless.
"It has taken me some time to find this," Lady Anne went on, "and
longer still to find the cartridges. I do not understand in the least
what has happened, but I am perfectly serious when I tell you that I
shall shoot either of you two if you move a step towards me."
Herr Freudenberg looked into the revolver, looked at Lady Anne and made
her a little bow.
"Mademoiselle," he said, "who you may be I do not, alas! know. Sir
Julien, however, is indeed to be congratulated that he possesses
already so charming and courageous a friend with the entree to his
Lady Anne lifted the revolver a few inches and fired. The bullet struck
the wall barely a foot over Herr Freudenberg's head. A faint puff of
blue smoke floated up towards the ceiling.
"I do not like impertinence," she remarked. "If you have any more such
speeches to make - "
"Mademoiselle, I have none," Herr Freudenberg interrupted, bowing.
"Allow me, on the contrary, to offer you my apologies and to express my
admiration for your bearing. I must, alas! acknowledge myself, for the
moment, vanquished. I shall leave you to release our dear friend, Sir
Julien. But, if you are wise, mademoiselle, if you are really his
friend, you will advise him to obey the injunction which I have sought
to lay upon him to-day. A little affair like this which goes wrong, is
nothing. I have a dozen means of enforcing my words, not one of which
has ever failed."
"I do not know who you are," Lady Anne said calmly, "or what it is
against which you are warning Sir Julien, but I am perfectly certain of
one thing. He will do what is right and what he conceives to be his
duty, without fear of threats from you or any one."
Herr Freudenberg bowed low. Estermen, who had been glancing more than
once uneasily towards the revolver, was already at the door.
"Mademoiselle," Herr Freudenberg declared, "bravery is a splendid gift,
discretion a finer. Sir Julien knows who I am and he knows that I have
yet to admit myself vanquished in any scheme in which I engage. He will
use his judgment. Meanwhile, mademoiselle!"
He bowed low, turned and left the room. Lady Anne listened to his
retreating footsteps. Then she crossed the room quickly and bent over
"Are you hurt?" she asked breathlessly.
He shook his head. She fumbled for a few minutes with the gag and
"Not a bit," he assured her. "Don't put the revolver down yet, but
fetch me a knife. You'll find one on the mantelpiece in the bedroom."
She did as he told her. In a few minutes he was free. He stood up,
"The fellow came up behind me," he explained, "while I was walking to
the door. Anne, what a brick you are!"
He held out his hand. She took it, laughing frankly.
"My dear Julien," she exclaimed, "what else could any one do? I heard
the row and, - shall I admit it? - peeped through the keyhole. I couldn't
see anything, so I opened the door softly and heard something of what
was going on. This old revolver was lying on your dressing-table, but I
had an awful hunt for the cartridges. Whoever were those men?"
"When I tell you," he said, "you will think that I am mad. Yet this is
the truth. The man with whom you talked was Prince von Falkenberg."
"What, the German Minister?"
"It seems incredible, doesn't it? Falkenberg is a man possessed of one
idea - to upset the relations between France and England. For that
purpose he has been paying secret visits to Paris for the last year. He
has corrupted the Press here. He has wormed his way into the confidence
of one or two of the Ministers. The thing is a perfect mania with him.
He has taken it into his head that the articles which Kendricks has
made me promise to write, and the first one of which appeared in _Le
Grand Journal_ yesterday - the one you read at dinner-time - are going
to be exploited as an exposure of his methods. For that reason he came
ostensibly to confirm an offer which he made me some time ago. When I
refused, he offered me a large sum of money - anything to get rid of me
and to stop my writing these articles. Of course I declined, and there
Lady Anne began to laugh once more.
"Well," she said, "I suppose I'm not dreaming. It sounds like a page
out of an opera-bouffe. That man who was here, whom I threatened to
shoot, was really Prince Falkenberg?"
"There's no doubt whatever about it," Julien assured her. "The very
first night I was in Paris he sent for me. Anne," he went on, turning
once more towards her, "I haven't thanked you half enough. What a nerve
you have! You were splendid!"
"Don't talk rubbish, Julien," she protested. "The stroke of luck was
that I happened to be there. It must have been quite a surprise for him
to see an apparently respectable young woman step out of your bedroom.
I am inclined to fear, Julien, that I am compromised. Anyhow, mother
would say so!"
"Between ourselves," Julien remarked, "I don't think that Falkenberg
will mention the occurrence. Just wait while I put on another collar
and we'll go to that music-hall."
She glanced at the clock.
"I think you shall take me home instead."
He looked at her quickly.
"This affair has upset you!"
"My dear Julien," she said dryly, "what an absurd idea! Of course I am
quite used to these little affairs, to seeing you lie bound and gagged,
and pointing a revolver at that unpleasant-looking Prince, with a
horrible fear inside me all the time that if I did aim at anything I
shouldn't hit it! Nevertheless, I think I'll go home, if you don't
They descended the stairs and he called a little _voiture_.
"I suppose it would sound silly," he ventured, after a time, "if I said
anything more about thanking you?"
"Ridiculous!" she replied. "But what are you going to do? Are you going
to the police?"
He shook his head.
"I think that Herr Freudenberg, as he calls himself, would be too
clever for me if I tried anything of that sort. You see, I have put
this revolver into my pocket. I am going to avoid the lonely places,
and have Kendricks with me as much as possible."
"Take care of yourself," she advised, in a matter-of-fact tone, as they
turned into the street where Mademoiselle Rignaut lived. "I don't want
to hear of any tragedies."
"When shall I see you again?" Julien asked.
"It depends upon what reply I get from Madame Christophor," she
answered. "She may want me at once, and I don't know yet whether I'll
get an evening out or not! I shall have to leave you to discover that.
She vanished within the dark doorway. Julien stepped back into the
carriage more than a little puzzled. To him Anne had always seemed the
prototype of all that was serene and matter-of-fact. To-night he had
found her unrecognizable. There was something, too, in her face as she
had turned away, a slight tremble in her voice, that bewildered him. As
he drove back to his rooms through the lighted streets, it was strange
that, notwithstanding the exciting adventure through which he had
passed, his thoughts were chiefly concerned with the problem of this
unfamiliar Lady Anne!
LADY ANNE DECLINES
"My dear Julien!"
The Duchess was very impressive indeed. From the depths of an
easy-chair in her sitting-room at the Ritz Hotel she held out both her
hands, and in her eyes was that peculiar strained look which Julien had
only been privileged to observe once or twice in his life. It
indicated, or rather it was the Duchess's substitute for, emotion.
Julien at once perceived, therefore, that this was an occasion.
"First of all," she went on, motioning him to a chair, "first of all,
before I say a single word about this strange thing which has brought
me to Paris, let me congratulate you. I always knew, dear Julien, that
you would do something, that you would not allow yourself to be
altogether crushed by the machinations of that hateful woman."
"Really," Julien began, "I am not quite sure - "
"I mean your letters, of course," she interrupted. "The Duke, when he
finished the first one, said only one thing - 'Wonderful!' That is just
how we all feel about them, Julien. I met Lord Cardington only a few
hours before I left London, and he was absolutely enthusiastic. 'If one
thing,' he said, 'will save the country, it is this splendid attack
upon the new diplomacy!' - as you so cleverly called it. The Duke tells
me that that first article of yours is to be printed as a leaflet and
distributed throughout the country."
"I am very glad," Julien said, "to hear all this. Tell me, what brings
you to Paris? Is the Duke with you?"
The Duchess smiled at him reproachfully.
"You ask me what brings me to Paris, Julien? Come, come! You and I
mustn't begin like that. I want you to tell me at once where she is."
"Where who is?"
"Anne, of course! Please don't play with me. Consider what a terrible
time we have all been through."
Julien did not at once reply. His very hesitation seemed to afford the
Duchess a lively satisfaction.
"There!" she declared. "You are not going to pretend, then, that you
don't know? That is excellent. Julien, tell me at once where to find
her. Take me to her."
"I am afraid I can't do that," Julien objected.
"My dear - my dear Julien!" the Duchess protested. "This is all so
foolish. Why should there be any mystery about Anne's whereabouts? I am
not angry. I ought to be, perhaps, but you see I have guessed my dear
girl's secret. I've felt for her terribly during the last few weeks,
but it was so hard to know what to do. It seemed shocking at the time,
but perhaps, after all, the course which she adopted was the wisest."
"I am very glad to hear that you are taking it like that," Julien
remarked, "and I am sure Anne will be. I think the best thing I can do
is to go and see her and tell her that you are here - "
"She does not know, then?" the Duchess interrupted.
"Why, of course not," Julien replied. "I received your note early this
morning - before I was up, in fact - and you begged me so earnestly to
come round at once that I came straight here without calling anywhere."
The Duchess coughed.
"Very well, Julien, I will leave you to go and fetch Anne whenever you
like. I shall await you here impatiently. Tell me how it was that you
both managed to deceive us so completely?"
Julien shook his head.
"I haven't the slightest notion what you mean."
The Duchess shrugged her shoulders.
"For my part," she said, "I always looked upon dear Anne as the most
unemotional, unsentimental person. Naturally I thought that she was a
little attracted towards you, but on the other hand I had no idea that
she looked upon marriage as anything but a reasonable and necessary
part of life. I had no idea, even, that she had any real affection for
"Affection for me!"
Julien looked up. The Duchess was regarding him as a mother might look
at a naughty child whom she intended to pardon.
"I did notice," she continued, "that Anne seemed very silent for some
time after your departure, and there was a curious lack of enthusiasm
about her preparations for the wedding with Mr. Samuel Harbord. She
scarcely looked, even, at the pearls he gave her. You know that I found
them on the floor of her bedroom after she had gone away? Well, well,
never mind that," the Duchess went on. "When I got her hurried note and
understood the whole affair, I must say that on the whole it was a
relief to me. Dear Anne - she is only like what I was at her age, before
I married the Duke. You ought to be very proud and happy, Julien."
"I should be very happy," Julien declared, "to understand in the least
what you are talking about."
The Duchess stared at him.
"My good man," she cried, "my own daughter runs away on the eve of her
marriage, throws all Society into a commotion, comes to Paris to join
the man whom she cares for - you - you, Julien - and then you affect to
Julien was speechless for several moments. He was conscious of a little
wave of strange emotion. The walls of the hotel sitting-room fell away.
He was standing on the edge of the wood behind the shrubbery of
laurels. The smell of the country gardens, the distant music, the
delicious stillness, the queer, troubled look in Anne's eyes, her
suddenly quickened breath, that moment which had passed so soon! It
came back to him with a peculiar insistence during those few seconds!
Then he brushed it away.
"My dear Duchess," he said slowly, "you are laboring under some
extraordinary mistake. Anne and I were very good friends and I think
that we should have made a reasonably contented couple. That, however,
was naturally broken off at once owing to my misfortune. Anne's visit
to Paris, her sudden flight from London, had nothing whatever to do
with me. I met her here entirely by accident. No word has passed
between us which would suggest for a single moment that she looked upon
this matter any differently!"
The Duchess listened to him steadily. At first there were signs of a