be rich - very rich indeed. You can make an idyll of this love of yours.
You can travel around the world in your own yacht, you can visit all
strange countries, you can wander where you will, and all the time
affairs in the world will go on very much the same as if you had stayed
and given the best hours of your life to the dusty treadmill. I am an
old man, Lady Anne, and I have an evil name in your country. They call
me greedy, subtle, and ambitious. I may be all these things, but let me
assure you that if I had my time over again my master could find
another servant and my country another toiler. There are fairer flowers
in life to be plucked than any which can be reached from the high
places in Downing Street or Berlin.... Let me, at least, Lady Anne,
make sure of your support? Mind, I am not threatening now - I plead."
Lady Anne looked at him gravely.
"Sir Julien," she declared, "will answer you for himself."
"But I want your own decision," Falkenberg insisted. "I want you to see
the truth as I see it. I want you to tell me that you agree with me."
She shook her head.
"But I do not!" she exclaimed. "To me you have spoken like a sophist.
One does not gain happiness by seeking it. You may be honest in some
part of what you say - I cannot tell. Only I think that you have
mistaken Sir Julien's ideas - and mine."
"You disappoint me!" Falkenberg murmured.
Sir Julien smiled.
"Not very much, I think," he said. "You always did believe in trying
the hundredth chance. Let us come back to the reasonable part of our
discussion. Do you propose, then, that I should leave this house at
this moment with you?"
"My car is entirely at your service," Falkenberg suggested.
"Do I seem to you so ingenuous?" Julien inquired. "I am wondering what
resources are open to me. I might propose to Lady Anne here that she
telephone for the gendarmes. Why should I not have an escort to take me
to an hotel?"
Falkenberg shrugged his shoulders.
"I like the idea," he admitted. "By all means, do as you say. Only do
me the favor to remember that this is my wife's house and with her
authority I request that you leave it immediately."
"I wonder," Julien asked, "what may be in store for me? - what pleasant
schemes you have hatched?"
Falkenberg shrugged his shoulders.
"Listen," he said, - "if you listen attentively you will hear the murmur
of Paris calling you back. Almost you can hear the falling of a
thousand feet upon the pavements of the boulevards, the voice of life.
You may find an asylum there. Who can tell?"
They heard the soft swirl of a woman's gown passing over the marble
floor. They all turned. It was Madame Christophor who stood there.
"Still here?" she remarked.
"It is not my intention to linger," he assured her. "Prince von
Falkenberg has given me your message. I am prepared to go."
Lady Anne moved hastily forward.
"Do you know," she cried, "that they will kill him? Do you know that
this man," she added, pointing to Falkenberg, "has admitted it? Would
you dare to send him out to be butchered in the streets?"
"The young lady exaggerates," Falkenberg protested. "This is a
perfectly respectable neighborhood. What possible harm can come to an
English gentleman? Besides, I have offered him, if he will, the
protection of my car."
Madame Christophor sighed. She waved back Sir Julien.
"Alas!" she exclaimed, "there has been a slight misunderstanding."
She touched a bell which stood on the table by her side. Almost
immediately a tall, pale-faced man in dark clothes appeared, followed
by Jean, the butler.
"My dear Prince," she said to her husband, "I do assure you that you
need have no special anxiety. Let me present to you Monsieur Bourgan of
the French Detective Service. Monsieur Bourgan - the Prince von
Falkenberg - Sir Julien Portel!"
Monsieur Bourgan saluted. The two men looked at him, - as yet they
"I suppose," Madame Christophor continued, "that I am a somewhat
nervous woman, but you see I can always plead the privilege of my sex.
I was delighted to have Sir Julien here with me, but in a sense it was
a responsibility. It occurred to me then to send a message to the
Minister of the Police, who happens to be a great friend of mine, and
at his suggestion Monsieur Bourgan here, who is, as I have no doubt you
both well know, very distinguished in the Service, has taken up his
residence in my house. He has occupied, as a matter of fact, the next
room to Sir Julien's. Forgive me," she added, smiling at them all, "if
I kept this little matter secret, but I know that men hate a fuss. I
propose, dear Prince," she added, turning to her husband, "that
Monsieur Bourgan accompanies you to your rooms. You need not fear then
There was an absolute silence. It was broken at last by the Prince von
"I must confess," he said slowly, "that I do not altogether
Madame Christophor faced him with a faint smile upon her lips. The
smile itself told him all that he desired to know.
"But, my dear Prince," she declared, "it is my anxiety for your safety
which induces me to propose this. Only a few minutes ago you were
telling me that you feared that you had become an extremely unpopular
person in Paris, and that the very streets were not safe for you. Under
the circumstances, one can scarcely wonder at it! The French
Government, however, is above all small feelings. A private citizen in
Paris, even though he be an enemy of France, is a person to be
respected. The protection of the detective force of Paris is at your
service. Monsieur Bourgan, you will do me the great favor of conducting
my husband to his rooms. Afterwards you will return here to continue
your watch over Sir Julien."
"I am entirely at your command, madame," Monsieur Bourgan replied.
Falkenberg hesitated for one single moment. He seemed to be measuring
the distance between Julien and himself. Under the pretense of picking
up a match, Monsieur Bourgan was almost between them. Falkenberg
laughed softly, then most graciously he made his adieux.
"Lady Anne," he said, bowing, "one is permitted to wish you every
happiness? Sir Julien, let me assure you," he continued, "that it has
been a pleasure to renew our acquaintance. Dear Henriette," he added,
"this care for my safety touches me! And the boy?"
"He is safe in my room," she assured him. "It is absurd of me, no
doubt, but I have turned the key upon him and placed a footman outside
the door. Take care of yourself, dear Rudolf. Monsieur Bourgan, I know,
will watch over you well. Yet you are one of those who take risks
Falkenberg raised her fingers to his lips.
"Almost, dear Henriette," he murmured, "you make me regret that I ever
have to leave Paris at all."
She leaned a little towards him.
"I bear you no ill-will, Rudolf," she said softly. "Take my advice.
Leave Paris quickly."
His eyes held hers as though seeking for some meaning to her words. She
only shook her head. He turned and followed Jean. Monsieur Bourgan
brought up the rear. Madame Christophor shrugged her shoulders.
"Really," she declared, with a sigh, "life is becoming altogether too
complicated. Never mind, I have got rid of Prince Falkenberg for you,
Sir Julien. Between ourselves, I think that he will receive a hint to
leave Paris, and before very long. Listen - there goes his car."
"Dear Madame Christophor," Lady Anne whispered, "you are wonderful!"
Madame Christophor was already moving away.
"Not really wonderful," she replied. "Only a little human. I must go to
THE ONE WAY OUT
Estermen started up from his chair. In the unlit room the figure of
his master seemed to have assumed a portentous, almost a threatening
"Who's that?" he cried out.
Falkenberg calmly turned on the electric light.
"Still here, my friend?" he remarked significantly.
Estermen began to tremble.
"There is plenty of time," he faltered. "I am not sure about the man
opposite. It may be some one else he is watching."
Falkenberg walked to the window and stood there in the full glare of
the light. The man opposite was still sipping his eternal coffee. He
glanced casually at Falkenberg and back at his paper.
"You fool!" the latter said to Estermen. "Can't you see that he is
waiting only to draw the others in? Do you know that I - I, Von
Falkenberg, Chancellor of Germany, have received what they are pleased
to call a hint from the French Minister of Police that it would be
advisable for me to leave Paris? This is your blundering, Estermen!"
"Not mine only," the man muttered. "Do you know that there are those
who wait for you in your rooms?"
Falkenberg turned away.
"Stay here till I return," he ordered.
He turned the key of his own apartments and entered. His servant
hurried up to him.
"There waits for Your Highness," he announced, "the Baron von
"Here?" he exclaimed.
"In His Excellency's private apartment. There waits also - "
Falkenberg had already departed. He opened the door of his room. His
secretary rose hastily to his feet.
"What do you here, Neudheim?" Falkenberg demanded. "What has happened?"
"Excellency," the young man replied, "there is trouble. Within half an
hour of your leaving, I had important news. I dared not telegraph. I
have followed you. I took a special train from the frontier."
"Go on," Falkenberg said calmly. "It is something serious?"
"Indeed, yes, Your Excellency!" the Baron continued. "It is concerning
the Agdar matter."
Falkenberg's face lit up.
"An ultimatum!" he exclaimed. "So much the better!"
Baron von Neudheim shook his head.
"For once, I am afraid," he said, "we have been trapped. His Excellency
himself sent for me. The reply from Downing Street has been received."
"Well?" Falkenberg interrupted impatiently.
"Your Excellency, the reply to our note is exceedingly courteous. It
states that the unrest referred to had already been reported to the
British Government, and a warship which left Portsmouth under sealed
orders some months ago was instructed to proceed to the port last week.
The note goes on to state that no intimation was given to Germany, as
the British Government was not aware that Germany had any interests,
but it further contains an assurance that the welfare of all white men
will receive equal attention." Falkenberg set his teeth.
"What battleship was sent?" he asked.
"The 'Aida,'" the young man replied slowly, - "a first-class cruiser,
twenty-six thousand tons."
Falkenberg was silent for a moment. His face had grown dark.
"And ours," he muttered, "was a third-rate gunboat! Who in all Downing
Street could have planned a coup like this?"
"It was Sir Julien Portel - his last official action," the Baron
answered. "The papers to-morrow will be full of this. The Press of
Germany and England and France have the whole story."
"Which is to say," Falkenberg exclaimed, "that we are to be the
laughing-stock of Europe! Anything else?"
"There is an imperial summons commanding your presence at Potsdam at
once," Neudheim acknowledged reluctantly.
"I start for the frontier in a quarter of an hour," Falkenberg decided.
"I shall drive to Chalons and telegraph for a special train from
"You will let me accompany you?" the young man begged.
Falkenberg hesitated, then he shook his head.
"No, it is my wish that you return by train. Take a day's holiday, if
you will. You will be back in time."
The young man's expression was clouded. He was obviously disappointed.
"But, Excellency," he pleaded, "there is trouble in Berlin. It is best,
indeed, that I should be by your side."
Falkenberg held out his hand.
"My dear Fritz," he replied, "you will obey my orders, as you always
have done. It is my wish that you return by the ordinary train
"There is nothing I can do - no message - "
"Nothing!" Falkenberg interrupted. "Look after yourself. Leave me now,
if you please."
The young man moved reluctantly towards the door.
"Excellency," he protested, "I do not desire a day's holiday. Things in
Berlin are bad. Let us talk together on our way north. You have never
yet known defeat. We can plan our way through, or fight it. Don't tell
me to leave you, dear master!" he wound up, with a sudden change of
tone. "There are still ways."
Falkenberg laid his hand upon the young man's shoulder.
"Fritz," he said, "my orders, if you please! Remember that I never
suffer them to be disputed. Goodbye!"
The young man left the room. As he passed down the stairs he shivered.
Falkenberg passed into an inner apartment. Already he had guessed who
it was waiting for him. Mademoiselle rose to her feet with a little
"At last!" she exclaimed. "Dear maker of toys, how long you have been!
How weary it has been to wait!"
She came into his arms. He patted her head gently.
"Dear little one!"
"You are taking me to supper?" she begged.
He shook his head. Her face fell, the big tears were already in her
"But you are troubled!" she cried. "Oh, come and forget it all for a
time! Isn't that what you told me once was my use in the world - that I
could chatter to you, or sing, or lead you through the light paths, so
that your brain could rest? Let me take you there, dear one. To-night,
if ever, you have the look in your face. You need rest. Come to me!"
He looked at her steadfastly, looked at her feeling as one far away
gazing down upon some strange element in life. Then a thought came to
"Little one," he whispered, "you are irresistible. Wait, then. It may
be as you desire. Only, after supper I pass on."
"And I with you?" she implored.
He shook his head.
Once more he returned to Estermen's apartments. Estermen was still
there, smoking furiously. The room was blue with tobacco smoke.
Falkenberg regarded him with distaste.
"Make yourself presentable, man," he ordered. "We sup in the Montmartre
and we leave in a few minutes."
"What, I?" Estermen exclaimed, springing up.
"You and I and mademoiselle," Falkenberg told him. "I have made plans.
You may perhaps escape - who can tell?"
Estermen, with a little sob of relief, hurried into his sleeping
apartment. Soon they were all three in the big car, gliding through the
busy streets. It was getting towards midnight and they took their place
among the crowd of vehicles climbing the hill, only wherever the street
was broad enough they passed always ahead. At the Rat Mort they came to
a stand-still. Falkenberg led the way up the narrow stairs, greeted
Albert with both hands, nodded amiably to the _chef d'orchestre_,
the flower girl and the head waiter, who crowded around him.
"For as many as choose to come!" he declared. "The round table! The
best supper in France! It is a gala night, Albert. Serve us of your
best. Mademoiselle will sing. We are here to taste the joys of life."
Albert led the way.
"Ah, monsieur," he said, "it is good, indeed, to hear your voice! There
is no one who comes here who enters more splendidly into the spirit of
the place. When you are here I know that it will be a joyful evening
for all. They catch it, too, those others," he explained. "Sometimes
they come here stolid, British. They look around them, they eat, they
drink, they sit like stuffed animals. Then comes monsieur - dear
monsieur! He talks gayly, he laughs, he waves salutes, he drinks wine,
he makes friends. The thing spreads. It is the spirit - the real spirit.
Behold! Even the dull, once they catch it, they enjoy."
Falkenberg took the cushioned seat in the corner. Close to his side was
mademoiselle, her hand already clasping his. Estermen, gaunt, red-eyed,
still haggard with fear, sat a few feet away.
"Wine!" Falkenberg ordered. "Pommery - bottles of it! Never mind if we
cannot drink it. Let us look at it. Let us imagine the joys that come,
added to those we feel."
Already the wine was rushing into their glasses. Falkenberg raised his
"To our last supper, dear Marguerite!" he whispered.
She shivered all over. She looked at him, her face was suddenly
"Jest? But is it not a night for jests!" he answered. "Why not? Ah,
Marguerite, I take it back! To our first supper! Let us say to
ourselves that to-night we stand upon the threshold of life. Let us say
to ourselves that never before have I seen how blue your eyes shine,
how sweet your mouth, how soft your fingers, how dear the thrill which
passes from you to me. Close to me, Marguerite - close to me, little
one! Our first evening!"
"Dearest," she whispered, "first or last, there could never be another.
It is you who make my life. It is you who, when you go, leave it
He held her hand more tightly.
"Ah, little friend," he murmured, "you spoil me with your sweet
phrases! You set the music playing in my heart - the witch music, I
think. Come, we must speak to Estermen," he continued, looking
resolutely away from her. "We cannot have him sitting there glum, a
death's-head at our feast. Estermen, drink, man! Is this a funeral
party? Wake up. Mademoiselle who dances there looks towards you. Why
not? You see, she waves her hand. You have waltzed with her before. Ask
her to sit down with us. I have ordered supper. See, mademoiselle
approaches, Estermen. More glasses, waiter. Open more wine. There is
champagne here for everybody. Mademoiselle does us great honor. Permit
The little dancing girl obeyed his invitation. She sat by Estermen's
side, but she cast a longing glance at Falkenberg. Their glasses were
filled. Estermen drank quickly, all the time looking about him with the
furtive air of a whipped dog.
"To-night," Falkenberg cried, as he lifted his glass, "I have but one
command - be joyful. Why not? To-night I have Marguerite by my side, and
you - you can choose from the world of Marguerites. There is nothing in
life like this - the hour of midnight, the music of the moment, the wine
of the hour, the woman we love. Drink, Estermen, once more. Fix your
thoughts upon the present. Mademoiselle looks around her. She finds you
dull. She will seek for another admirer. Ah, mademoiselle!" he added,
leaning across the table, "if the sweetest girl in Paris were not here
already by my side, do you think that I would permit you to be for an
instant the companion of a dumb admirer?"
Mademoiselle laughed back into his eyes.
"If monsieur's friend were but as gallant as monsieur himself!"
"He is depressed," Falkenberg declared, "but it passes. Behold! Another
glass like that, Estermen! Drink till you feel it bubbling in your
veins. Look at him now!"
Falkenberg leaned back in his place and pressed his companion's arm.
Indeed, the wine was working its magic. The terror was passing from
Estermen's face. Already he was becoming more natural.
"Leave them alone," Falkenberg said softly. "He will have no relapse.
The wine is in his blood. Ah, Marguerite! never did you seem so sweet
to me as tonight, when my face is set for the cold north! Have you joy
in remembering, little one? Have you sentiment enough for that?"
"I have sentiment enough," she whispered, "to suffer every time you
leave me. To-night I am afraid to let you go. Oh! dear - my dear - take
me with you! I have begged you before, but to-night I beg you in a
different manner. I am afraid to be left alone. I care not where or
whatever the end of your journey may be. Take me with you, dear one. It
is because I love that I ask this!"
He looked at her for a moment and there were wonderful things in his
"Ah, little girl," he murmured, "you teach one so much! One passes
through life too often with one's eyes closed, one finds the great
things in strange places, the rarest flowers even by the roadside.
Drink your wine, press my fingers - like that. See, it is the _chef
d'orchestre_ who approaches. You shall sing - sing to me, little
He motioned to the musician, who with a smile of delight held up his
hand to the orchestra. Mademoiselle hummed a few bars. The man who
listened nodded his head. Then he raised his violin, he passed his bow
across the strings. With the touch of his fingers he drew from them a
little melody. Mademoiselle assented. Her head was back against the
wall, her eyes half closed. Then she began to sing; sang so that in a
few moments the passionate words which streamed from her lips held the
room breathless. It was no ordinary music. It was the love prayer of a
woman, starting in sadness, passing on to passion, ending in wild
entreaty. As she finished she turned her head towards her companion.
"You shall not go alone!" she cried, and her words might well have been
the text of her song.
Falkenberg shook his head.
"Something gayer," he begged, - "something more like the wine which
foams in our glasses."
She obeyed him after only a moment's hesitation, yet in the first few
bars her song came to an abrupt end, her voice choked. She leaned
suddenly forward in her place, her face was hidden between her hands.
They all gazed at her curiously.
"Nerves!" one declared.
"Hysterics!" another echoed.
"It is the life they lead, these women," an American explained to a
little party of guests. "They weep or they laugh always. Life with them
quivers all the time. They pass from one emotion to another - they
seldom know which. Look, it is over with her."
It was over, indeed. She raised her head and sang, sang ravishingly,
charmingly, a gay love-song. Falkenberg was the first to applaud her.
"To-night, dear," he murmured, "you are wonderful. You sing from the
heart, your voice has feeling, you bring to one the exquisite
moments.... Behold, the supper arrives! Estermen has made friends now
with his little _danseuse_. Sit closer to me, dear. These are the
golden hours. Give me your hand, look into my eyes, drink with me....
How the minutes pass! There is magic in this place."
Towards four o'clock Falkenberg and his companions came down the narrow
stairs, out into the morning. A fine rain was falling, the pavements
were already wet. Falkenberg was still gay, still laughing and talking.
Behind, a little company - the _chef d'orchestre_, the chief
_maitre d'hotel_, the flower girl - wondering at his generosity,
stood at the head of the stairs to bid him godspeed. He gave a louis to
the _commissionaire_ and called for a special carriage. He had
almost to lift Marguerite inside.
"Dear child," he said, holding her hands, "here we must part for a
time - not for so long, perhaps. Who can tell? It is a comfortable
carriage, this. Here is a handful of money for the fare. It is of no
use to me."
He emptied his pockets into her lap as she sat there. She made no
effort to pick up the shower of gold and silver.
"What do you mean - that it is of no use to you?"
"We drive for home," he answered. "We shall need no money to take us
He drew her face very close to his.
"When you arrive at your apartment," he said, "you will find there a
little packet from me. Be wise, dear. If chance will have it that we do
not meet again very soon, may it help you to take all out of life that
you can find. Only sometimes when the heart is joyous, when the wine
flows and your feet are keeping time to the music of life, think for a
moment - of one who dwells, alas! in a quieter country. Dear
He kissed her, first upon the lips and then lightly on the forehead.
Then gently he thrust away the arms which she had wound around his
neck. He waved to the coachman to drive off. With a little shrug of the
shoulders he took his own place in the great touring car. Estermen,
too, clambered into the tonneau.
"You have supped well, I trust, Henri?" the Prince asked the chauffeur.
"Without a doubt, Excellency," the man replied.
"Then drive for the frontier," Falkenberg ordered. "We will stop you
when we need a rest."
They left Paris in the semi-darkness. They were away in the country
before the faintest gleam of daylight broke through the eastern clouds.
Even then the way was still obscured. It was a stormy morning, and
banks of murky clouds were piled up where the sun should have risen.
The rain still fell. Soon they commenced to ascend a range of hills. At
the summit Falkenberg pulled the check-string.
"Henri," he said, "come in behind here. I will drive for a time - it
will amuse me."
The man descended. Falkenberg took his place at the wheel. Estermen,
obeying his gesture, scrambled into the seat by his side.
"Go to the signpost," his master ordered the chauffeur. "Tell me