places, "I have no word to tell you. I spare you, as you see, the
barbarity of a menu. What will come to you, monsieur and madame, is at
least of our best. I can promise that. And the wine is such as I myself
have selected, knowing well the taste of monsieur."
"And of madame also, I trust?" Herr Freudenberg remarked.
"Ah! monsieur," Henri continued, "when monsieur is not in Paris, madame
is invisible. Not once since I last had this pleasure of waiting upon
you, have I had the joy of seeing her."
Herr Freudenberg looked across the table at his companion with
"This is a city of conspirators," he declared. "You make a man vain and
happy and joyous at the same time. Let your dinner be served, then,
Henri. Since I was in Paris last I have eaten many times, but I have
The _maitre d'hotel_ departed, but for the next hour or so his eyes
were seldom far away from the table where sat his most esteemed client.
Once or twice, others of the diners sent for him.
"Henri," one asked, and then another, "tell us, who is it that dines
like a prince under the canopy of pink roses?"
"Monsieur," he replied, "it is Herr Carl Freudenberg of Leipzig."
"Herr Carl Freudenberg of Leipzig - but who is he?"
"He is a great manufacturer of toys, monsieur."
"A German!" one muttered.
"It is they who are spoiling Paris," another grumbled.
"They have at least the money!"
One woman alone shook her head.
"It is not money only," she murmured, "which buys these things here
The companion of Herr Carl Freudenberg was, without doubt, as charming
as she appeared, for Herr Freudenberg certainly enjoyed his dinner as a
man should. Nor were those lines of humor engraven about his mouth for
nothing, to judge by the frequent peals of laughter from mademoiselle.
Towards the close of dinner, Henri himself carried to them a superb
violet ice, with real flowers around the dish and an electric light
burning in the middle.
"For two days, madame," he announced, "our chef has dreamed of this. It
is a creation."
"It is exquisite!" mademoiselle cried, with a gesture of delight.
"Never in my life have I seen anything so wonderful."
"Henri," Herr Freudenberg said in an aside, "you will present my
compliments to the chef. You will shake him by the hand from me. You
will double the little affair which passes between us. Tell him that it
comes from one who appreciates the work of a great artist, even though
his French thickens a little in his throat."
Henri bowed low.
"If monsieur's body is German," he declared, "his soul at least belongs
to the land of romance."
They were alone again and the girl leaned across the table.
"Monsieur," she murmured, "it is cruel of you to come so seldom. You
see what you do? You spoil the keepers of our restaurants, you steal
away the hearts of your poor little companions, and then - one night or
two, perhaps, and it is over. Monsieur Freudenberg has gone. The earth
"Back to my toys, mademoiselle," he whispered. "One has one's work."
She looked at him long and tenderly.
"Monsieur," she said, "it is two months, a week and three days since
you were in Paris. Since then I have sung and danced, night by night,
but my heart has never been gay. Come oftener, monsieur, or may one not
sometimes cross the frontier and learn a little of your barbarous
For the first time the faintest shadow of gravity crossed his face.
"Mademoiselle," he replied, "alas! The world is full of hard places.
Behold me! When I am here, I am your devoted and admiring slave, but
believe me that when I leave Paris and set my face eastwards, I do not
exist. Dear Marguerite, it hurts me to repeat this - I do not exist."
She looked down into her plate.
"I understand," she murmured. "You said it to me once before. Have I
not always been discreet? Have I ever with the slightest word disobeyed
"Nor will you ever, dear Marguerite," he declared confidently, "for if
you did it would be the end. In the city where I make my toys, life as
we live it here is not known. It is not recognized. And there is one's
work in the world."
She looked up from her plate. Her expression had changed.
"It was foolish of me," she whispered. "To-night is one of those nights
in Heaven for which I spend all my days longing. I think no more of the
future. You are here. Tell me, from here - where?"
"To the Opera. I have engaged the box that you prefer. We arrive for
the last act of 'Samson et Dalila' and for the ballet."
"To the Abbaye. After that, there is the Rat Mort - Albert must not be
disappointed - and a new place, they tell me. One must see all these new
"And we leave here soon?"
"You are impatient!"
"Only to be alone with you," she answered. "Even those few moments in
the automobile are precious."
He smiled at her across the table. She was very pretty with her fair
hair and dark eyes, very Parisian, and yet with a shade of graceful
seriousness about her eyes and mouth.
"Dear Marguerite," he said, "I wait only for one of my agents who comes
to speak to me on a matter of business. He is due almost at this
moment. After he has been here, then we go. Cannot you believe," he
whispered, dropping his voice a little and leaning slightly across the
table, "that I, too, will love to feel your dear fingers in mine, your
lips, perhaps, for a moment, as we pass to the Opera?"
"It is a joy one must snatch," she murmured.
"There is no joy in life," he replied, "which is not the sweeter for
being snatched, and snatched quickly."
"And you a German!" she sighed.
Henri appeared once more, and after him Estermen. Herr Freudenberg,
with a word of excuse to his companion, turned to greet the newcomer.
Estermen stood quite close to the table. He was distinctly ill at ease.
"Herr Freudenberg," he said, "I have done my best. It was impossible
for me to obtain an introduction to this customer."
"Impossible?" Herr Freudenberg repeated, his face suddenly becoming
"Let me explain," Estermen continued hastily. "This customer arrived in
Paris last night or early this morning. He was called upon at once by a
lady who lives in the Avenue de St. Paul. She has told him a little
story about me - I am sure of it. He has refused to make my
"And you were content?"
Estermen spread out his pudgy hands.
"What can one do?" he muttered. "The man is quick-tempered. He dined
tonight in the country at the Maison Leon d'Or with madame. It was
there that I sought an introduction with him. It was impossible for me
to force myself."
"You know where to find him, I suppose?"
"I know the hotel at which he is staying."
"Make it your business to find him," Herr Freudenberg ordered. "Bring
him with you, if before one o'clock to the Abbaye Theleme; if
afterwards, to the Rat Mort."
Estermen looked stolidly puzzled.
"Am I to mention the subject of the toys of Herr Freudenberg's
Herr Freudenberg tore a corner from the programme which lay on the
table between them, and wrote a single word upon it.
"Study that at your leisure, my friend," he said. "Pay attention to the
task I impose upon you. Nothing is more important in my visit to Paris
than that I should make the acquaintance of this person. Much depends
upon it. I rely upon you, Estermen."
Estermen thrust the morsel of paper into his waist-coat pocket. Then he
leaned a little closer to this man who seemed to be his master.
"Herr Freudenberg," he began, "I spoke of a lady in the Avenue de St.
Paul, the companion to-night of the person whose acquaintance you are
anxious to make."
"What of her?" Herr Freudenberg asked calmly. "There are many ladies,
without a doubt, who live in the Avenue de St. Paul."
"The name of this one," Estermen continued slowly, "is Madame
Herr Freudenberg sat quite still in his place. His eyes seemed fixed
upon a cluster of the roses which hung down from the other side of the
sweet-smelling barrier by which they were surrounded. Yet something had
gone out of his face, something fresh had arrived. The half
contemptuous curl of the lips was finished. His mouth now was straight
and hard, his eyes set, the deep lines upon his forehead and around his
mouth were suddenly insistent. He sat so motionless that his face for a
moment seemed as though it were fashioned in wax. Then his lips moved,
he spoke in a whisper which was almost inaudible.
From across the table his companion watched him. At first she was
puzzled. When she heard the woman's name which came so softly from his
lips, she turned pale. Herr Freudenberg recovered from his fit of
abstraction almost as quickly as he had lapsed into it.
"I thank you, Estermen," he declared. "It is a coincidence, this. I am
obliged for your forethought in mentioning it. Until later, then."
The man made a somewhat clumsy bow, glanced admiringly at Herr
Freudenberg's companion, and departed. Herr Freudenberg was shaking his
"I fear," he said softly to himself, "sometimes I fear that I am not so
well served as might be in Paris. However, we shall see. For the moment
let us banish these dull cares. If you are ready, Marguerite, I think I
might suggest that the nearer way to the Opera is by the Champs
She rose to her feet and gave him her hand for a moment as she passed.
"If one could only find as easily the way to your heart, dear maker of
toys!" she murmured.
AT THE RAT MORT
Julien had been back in the hotel about half an hour and in his room
barely ten minutes when he was disturbed by a knock at the door.
Immediately afterwards, to his amazement, Estermen entered.
"What the devil are you doing up here?" Julien asked angrily. "How dare
you follow me about!"
"Sir Julien," his visitor answered, "I beg that you will not make a
commotion. It was perfectly easy for me to gain admission here. It will
be perfectly easy for me, if it becomes necessary, to leave without
trouble. I ask you to be reasonable. I am here. Listen to what I have
to say. You are prejudiced against me. It is not fair. You have spoken
with a woman who is my enemy. Give me leave, at least, to address a few
words to you. You will not be the loser."
Julien was angry, but underneath it all he was also curious.
"Well, go on, then."
"You are reasonable," said Estermen, laying his hat and stick upon the
bed. "Listen. Your story is known at Berlin as well as in Paris. There
is only one opinion concerning it and that is that you have been
"I am not asking for sympathy, sir," Julien answered coldly.
"Nor am I offering it," the other returned. "I am stating facts. There
are many who do not hesitate to say that you have been made the victim
of a political plot, conceived among the members of your own party;
that you are suffering at the present moment from your masterly efforts
on behalf of peace."
"Pray go on," Julien invited. "I consider all this grossly impertinent,
but I am willing to listen to what you have to say."
"The greatest man in Germany," Estermen continued, "when he heard of
your misfortune, declared at once that the peace of Europe was no
longer assured. I am here to-night, Sir Julien, without credentials, it
is true, but I am the spokesman of a very great person indeed. He is
anxious to know your plans."
"I have no plans."
"Your political future, then - "
"I have no political future," Julien interrupted. "That is finished for
"But the thing is absurd!" protested Estermen. "There is no other man
but you capable of dealing tactfully and diplomatically with my
country. Your blundering predecessors brought us twice within an ace of
war. If the man takes your place to whom rumor has already given it, I
give Europe six weeks' peace - no more. We are a sensitive nation, as
you know. You learned how to humor us. No one before you tried. You
kept your alliance with France, but you were not afraid to show us the
open hand. There are those in Berlin, Sir Julien, who consider you the
greatest statesman England ever possessed."
"I listen," Julien said. "Pray proceed."
"It cannot be," Estermen went on, "that you mean to accept the
"I have no alternative," Julien answered.
"It is not, then, a question of money?" Estermen ventured slowly. "The
Press tell us that you are poor."
"Money, in this case, would scarcely help," Julien remarked.
"There is no man in the world who can afford to despise the power of
money," Estermen said quietly.
"Are you here to offer me any?"
"I am not. Have you anything to give in exchange for it?"
Julien laughed a little shortly.
"I imagined," he declared, "that with your first remarks you had
climbed to the dizziest heights of impertinence. I perceive that I was
mistaken. I am a discarded minister," - dryly. "I may be supposed to
have in my possession secrets for which your country would pay. Is it
not to those facts that I am indebted for the honor of this visit?"
"Not in the least," answered Estermen. "Our own Secret Service keeps us
supplied with such information as we desire. My object in seeking you
is this. The Prince von Falkenberg is in Paris for a few hours only. He
wants to meet you. I have been ordered to arrange this meeting, if
Julien did not attempt to conceal his interest.
"Why on earth didn't you say so at once?" he exclaimed. "What does he
want of me?"
Estermen shrugged his shoulders.
"Who knows? Who knows what Falkenberg ever wants? He is here, there and
everywhere - today in Paris, tomorrow in Berlin, next week in Moscow.
Yet it is he, as you know well, who shapes the whole destinies of my
country. It is he alone in whom the Emperor has blind and absolute
confidence. If he holds up his hand, it is war. If he holds it down, it
"What does he do in Paris?" Julien inquired.
Estermen shook his head.
"He arrived this morning and disappeared. Tonight he sent me orders
that I was to search for you."
"Where is he now?" Julien asked.
"At eight o'clock tonight," Estermen said, "he declared himself to be
Herr Carl Freudenberg, dealer in German toys. He dressed, dined at the
Ambassadeurs with Mademoiselle Ixe from the Opera, sent for me, learned
that I was at the Maison Leon d'Or, telephoned there, and all for this
one thing - that I should bring you to him without a moment's delay."
"But where is he now?" Julien asked again.
Estermen glanced at the clock and at a piece of paper which he took
from his pocket.
"It is one o'clock within a few minutes," he remarked. "Herr
Freudenberg is either at the Abbaye Theleme or the Rat Mort."
Julien scarcely hesitated.
"When you first came in," he admitted, "I felt like throwing you out.
How you got here I don't know. I suppose it is no use complaining to
the hotel people. But there is no man on the face of this earth in whom
I am more interested than Falkenberg. I shall change my clothes, and in
a quarter of an hour I am at your service. Wait for me downstairs."
Estermen drew a little sigh of relief. "I shall await you, Sir
Julien," he declared.
All Paris seemed to be seeking distraction as they drove in the
automobile along the Boulevard des Italiens. Julien sat with folded
arms in the corner of the automobile. He had no fancy for his
companion. He was anxious so far as possible to avoid speech with him.
Estermen, on the contrary, seemed only too desirous of removing the
impression of dislike of which he was acutely conscious. He talked the
whole of the time of the cafes and the women, of everything he thought
might be interesting to his companion. Julien listened in grim silence.
Only once he interrupted.
"What brings Herr Freudenberg to Paris?" he inquired once more.
Estermen was suddenly reticent.
"He has affairs here," he said. "He is also like us others - a man who
loves his pleasure. You will find him tonight with a most charming
companion - Mademoiselle Ixe of the Opera. Before the coming of Herr
Freudenberg, I remember her well - the companion at times of many.
To-day she is changed, _triste_ when he is not here, faithful in a most
They swung round to the left.
"Herr Freudenberg," Estermen continued, "is a great lover of the night
life of Paris. He goes from one cafe to the other. He is untired,
sleepless. He seems to find inspiration where others find fatigue."
Julien raised his eyebrows, but he said nothing. These were not his
impressions of the man whom they were seeking!
They drew up presently at the doors of the Abbaye Theleme. There were
crowds of people trying to gain admission. Estermen elbowed his way
"Herr Freudenberg?" he asked of the man who stood at the door.
The man's forbidding face changed like magic.
"Herr Freudenberg left but ten minutes ago for the Rat Mort. Those who
inquired for him were to follow."
Estermen nodded and touched Julien on the arm.
"We will walk," he said. "It is at the corner there."
They presented themselves at the doors of a smaller and dingier cafe.
Estermen elbowed the way up the narrow stairs. They emerged in a small
room, brilliantly lit and filled with people. The usual little band was
playing gay music. A corpulent _maitre d'hotel_ bowed as they appeared.
"Herr Freudenberg," Estermen began.
The waiter's bow by this time was a different affair.
"Monsieur will follow me," he invited.
At the corner table at the far end of the room - the most desired of
any - sat Herr Freudenberg with Mademoiselle Ixe by his side. They met
the flower girl coming away with empty arms. The table of Herr
Freudenberg was smothered with roses. There was a shade more color in
the cheeks of Mademoiselle Ixe, in her eyes a light as soft as any
which the eyes of a woman who loved could know. Herr Freudenberg,
unruffled, had still the air of a man who finds life pleasant. As the
two men came up the room, he rose and held out both his hands.
"Ah!" he exclaimed, "it is indeed my friend of Berlin! Welcome, dear
Sir Julien! We meet on neutral ground, is it not so? We meet now in the
city of pleasures. Let us sit for a little time and talk, and forget
that you and I once wrote a chapter together in the history - of
toymaking. But first," he added, turning to Mademoiselle Ixe,
"mademoiselle permits me to introduce a very dear and cherished
acquaintance to an equally dear and cherished friend. This gentleman,
dear Marguerite, and I make toys in different countries, and there was
a time when it was necessary for us to consult together. So he came to
Berlin and I have never forgotten his visit. For the present, join us,
dear Julien. You permit that I call you by your first name? It is after
midnight, and after midnight in Paris one permits everything. Now we
drink together, we three, for Estermen must leave us, I know. We drink
together to the making of toys, the building of toy palaces, and the
love of one another. Come, Monsieur Albert, see that your _sommelier_
opens that bottle that you have chosen for us so carefully," he
continued, turning to the manager who was hovering close at hand. "This
is a meeting and we need the best wine that ever came from the
vineyards of France. A dear friend, Albert. Bow low to him, indeed, for
he is worthy of it. Afterwards we will perhaps eat something. Send your
waiter. But above all, monsieur, see to it that mademoiselle with the
fair curls dances once more. My friend, I think, would like to see her.
And we must have music. Let the band never cease playing. Ah! it is
here, dear Albert, that one learns to forget how strenuous life really
is. It is here that one may unbend. The wine!"
While Herr Freudenberg talked the _sommelier_ had gravely served the
champagne in some tall and wonderful glasses brought from a private
cabinet by Monsieur Albert himself to honor his most treasured
visitors. Herr Freudenberg raised his glass, clinked it against the
glass of mademoiselle, clinked it against Julien's glass.
"Come," he cried, "to our better acquaintance, to our better
understanding! Mademoiselle," he added, lowering his tone, "to the
eternal continuance of those things which lie between you and me!"
Estermen had departed and Julien breathed the freer for it.
Mademoiselle Ixe chattered to him for a few moments, and Herr
Freudenberg whispered in the ears of Albert, who withdrew at once.
"One must eat," Herr Freudenberg declared. "Albert has some peaches,
wonderful peaches from the gardens where the sun always shines. Peaches
and macaroons - afterwards coffee. Ah! my friend, you remember those
somber banquets when we all hated one another because we all fancied
that the other wanted what we had a right to? Ugh! When I think of
Berlin in those days, when no one smiled, when one's sense of humor was
there only to be kept down with an iron hand, why, it gives one to
weep! Mademoiselle, I have a prayer to make."
"It is granted," she assured him softly.
"Presently the orchestra shall play the music of Faust. You will sing
to us? Tonight is one of my nights, never really perfect unless some
minutes of it move to the music of your voice."
She laughed softly.
"Yes, monsieur, I will sing," she answered, "but not the Jewel Song
tonight. Send the _chef d'orchestre_ to me."
At the merest signal he was there with his violin under his arm.
Mademoiselle whispered a word in his ear and he departed, all smiles.
The selection which they were playing suddenly ceased. _Monsieur le
chef_ alone played some Italian air, which no one wholly recognized but
every one found familiar. Slowly he walked around the tables, playing
still, always with his eyes upon Mademoiselle Ixe, and when at last he
stood before her, she threw her head back and sang.
The clatter of crockery diminished, the waiters paused in their tasks
or crept on tiptoe about the place. Men and women stood up at their
tables that they might see the singer better; conversation ceased. And
all the time the _chef d'orchestre_ drew music from his violin, and
mademoiselle, with half-closed eyes, her head thrown back, filled the
whole room with melody. Even she herself knew that she was singing as
she never sang at the Opera, as she had never sung when a great
impressario had come to try her voice, as one sings only when the heart
is shaking a little, and as she finished, the fingers of her left hand
slowly crept across the table into the hand of Herr Freudenberg, the
toymaker, and her last notes were sung almost in a whisper into his
ears. The room rose up to applaud. The _chef d'orchestre_ went back to
his place, bowing right and left. Herr Freudenberg raised the fingers
that lay between his hand to his lips.
"Ah, mademoiselle," he murmured, "I have no longer words!"
Albert came back. Scarcely more than a look passed between him and Herr
Freudenberg. Then the latter rose to his feet.
"Come," he said, "a little surprise for you. You, too, dear Julien. I
insist. This way."
They passed from the room. As mademoiselle rose to her feet, people
began once more to applaud.
"Mademoiselle will sing again presently, perhaps," Herr Freudenberg
answered a man who leaned forward. "We do not depart."
He led the way to the head of the staircase and they passed into the
back regions of the place - dim, ill-lit, mysterious. Albert, who had
preceded them, threw open the door of a room. There was a small supper
table laid for three, more flowers, more wine.
"It is that one may talk for five minutes," Herr Freudenberg explained.
But mademoiselle had already flitted away. The door somehow was closed,
the two men were alone.
POLITICS AND PATRIOTISM
Herr Freudenberg shrugged his shoulders and glanced at the
"Mademoiselle is a paragon," he declared. "Always she understands. Sir
Julien, will you not sit down for a moment? Let me confess that this
little supper-party is a pretense. For five minutes I wish to talk to
Julien seated himself without hesitation.
"My dear host," he said, "I left Berlin a year ago with only one
hope - or rather two. The first was that I might never have to visit
Berlin again! The second was that I might have the pleasure of meeting
you as speedily and as often as possible."
Herr Freudenberg smiled - a quiet, reminiscent smile.
"Even now," he remarked, "when I would speak to you for a moment on
more serious subjects, the strange humor of that round-table conference
comes home to me. There were you and I and our big friend from Austria,