and that awful dull man from here, and the Russian. Shall you ever
forget that speechless Russian, who never opened his lips except to
disagree? Sometimes I caught your eye across the table. And, Sir
Julien, you know, I presume, whose was the triumph of those days?"
Julien smiled doubtfully.
"Yours, of course," Herr Freudenberg continued. "The Press even
ventured to find fault with me. England, as usual, they declared, had
gained all she desired and had given the very minimum. However, we will
not waste time in reminiscences. To-day the only pleasure I have in
thinking of that conference is the fact that you and I came together.
When you left Berlin - I saw you off, you remember - I told those who
stood around that there went the future Prime Minister of England. I
believed it, and I am seldom mistaken. Tell me, what piece of
transcendental ill-fortune is this which brings you here an exile?"
"I committed an act of transcendental folly," Julien replied. "I have
no one to blame but myself. I not only wrote an indiscreet letter, but
I put my name to it. I was deceived, too, in the character of the woman
to whom it was sent."
"It is so trifling an error," Herr Freudenberg said thoughtfully, "made
by many a man without evil results. One learns experience as one passes
on in life. It is a hard price that you are paying for yours. Come,
that is finished. Now answer me. What are you going to do?"
Julien laughed, a little bitterly.
"My friend," he answered, stretching out his hand and taking a
cigarette from the open box upon the table, "you ask rather a hard
question. My resignation was accepted, was even required of me.
Politics and diplomacy are alike barred to me. There is no return. What
is there left? I may write a book. So far as my means permit, I may
travel. I may play games, take a walk in the morning, play bridge in
the afternoon, eat heavily and sleep early. What is there left, Herr
Freudenberg - tell me of your wisdom - for a man about whose ears has
come crashing the scaffolding of his life?"
Herr Freudenberg looked across at his companion, and in that dimly-lit
room his eyes were bright and his lips firm.
"To rebuild, my friend," he declared. "Choose another foundation and
"You recognize, I presume," Julien said, "that I require a few more
details if your advice is to be of value?"
"The details are here in this room," Herr Freudenberg replied firmly.
"Be my man. I cannot offer you fame, because fame comes only, nowadays,
to the man who serves his own country. You see, I make no pretense at
deceiving you, but I offer you a life of action, I offer you such
wealth as your imagination can have conceived, and I offer you
"Revenge," Julien repeated, a little vaguely.
"Upon the political party by whose scheming that letter was first of
all elicited from you and then made public," Herr Freudenberg said
slowly. "Do you imagine that it was a thoughtless act of that woman's?
Do you know that her reward is to be a peerage for her husband?"
"You, too, believe that it was a trap, then?" Julien remarked.
"Of course. Don't you know yourself that you were a thorn in the flesh
to your own party? They hated you because you were not afraid to preach
war when war might have saved your country from what is to come. They
hated you because you were a strong man in a strong place, and because
the people believed in you. They hated you because the policy which
would have been yours in the four or five years to come, would have
been the policy which would have brought the country around you, which
alone would have kept your party in power. You were the only figure in
politics which the imperialist party in England had to fear. Mrs.
Carraby - I believe that was the lady's name - is ill-paid enough with
that peerage. Leave out the personal element - or leave it in, if you
will, for when I speak of my country I know no friendships - but, my
dear friend, let me tell you that I myself would have given more than a
peerage - I would have given a principality - to the person who threw you
out of English politics."
Julien's eyes were bright. Somehow or other, his old dreams, his old
faith in himself had returned for a moment. And then the bitterness all
swept in upon him.
"I think, Herr Freudenberg," he said, "that you are talking a little in
the skies. At any rate, it makes no difference. Those things have
"Those things have passed," Herr Freudenberg assented. "There is no
future for you in England. That is why I wish to rescue you from the
ignominy of which you yourself have spoken. I repeat my offer. Be my
man. You shall taste life and taste it in such gulps as you wish."
Julien shook his head slowly.
"My friend," he said, "it is the cruel part of our profession that one
man's life can be given to one country alone."
"Wrong!" Herr Freudenberg declared briskly. "I am not going to decry
patriotism. The welfare of my country is the religion which guides my
life. But you - you have no country. There is no England left for you.
She has thrown you out. You are a wanderer, a man without ties or home.
That is why I claim you as my man. I want to show you the way to
"You puzzle me," Julien admitted. "You talk about revenge. I know you
far too well to believe that you would propose to me any scheme which
would involve the raising even of my little finger against the country
which has turned me out."
"Naturally," Herr Freudenberg agreed. "You do me no less than justice,
my dear Sir Julien. What I do hope that you have firmly fixed in your
mind is that I, despite your halfpenny papers, your novelists seeking
for a new sensation, and your weird middle class, I, Carl Freudenberg,
maker of toys, am the honest and sincere friend of England. The work
which I ask you to do for me would be as much in the interests of your
country as of my own, only when I say your country, I mean your country
governed by the political party in which I have faith and confidence. I
tell you frankly that an England governed as she is at present is a
country I loathe. If I raise my hand against her - not in war, mind, but
in diplomacy - if I strive to humble her to-day, it is because I would
cover if I could the political party who are in power at this moment
with disrepute and discredit. Why should you yourself shrink from
aiding me in this task? They are the party in whose ranks - high in
whose ranks, I might say - are those who stooped with baseness, with
deceit unmentionable, to rid themselves of you. Therefore, I say
strike. Come with me and you shall help. And when the time comes, I
think I can promise you that I can show you a way back, a way which you
have never guessed."
Julien looked across the table long and earnestly.
"Herr Freudenberg," he said, "if I answer you in the negative, it is
because of your own words. The love of your country, you told me not
long ago, is your religion. For her good you would make use even of
those you call your friends. Now I am sincere with you. I do not know
whether to trust you or not. For that reason I cannot attempt to
discuss this matter with you. I do not ask even that you explain
"You mean that at any rate you cannot trust me entirely?" Herr
Freudenberg replied. "Well, if you had, I should have been disappointed
in you. Still, I have said things that were in my heart to say to you.
We send now for Mademoiselle Ixe. Before very long we talk together
Herr Freudenberg touched the bell. A waiter appeared almost
"Find mademoiselle," he ordered. "Tell her that we wait impatiently."
Mademoiselle was not far away. Herr Freudenberg passed his arm through
"We return, I think," he said. "This little room has served its
Julien on the landing tried to make his adieux, but his host only
laughed at him. Mademoiselle Ixe held out her hand and led him into the
room by her side.
"He wishes it," she murmured softly. "He has so few nights here, one
must do as he desires."
The little party returned to their table in the corner. Somehow or
other, their coming seemed to enliven the room. There was more spirit
in the music, more animation in the conversation. Albert walked with a
sprightlier step. Then Julien, in his passage down the room, received a
distinct shock. He stopped short.
"Kendricks, by Jove!" he exclaimed.
Kendricks, sitting alone at a small table, with a bottle of champagne
in front of him and a huge cigar in his mouth, waved his hand joyfully.
Then he glanced at his friend's companions, frowned for a moment, and
gazed fixedly at Herr Freudenberg.
"Julien, by all that's lucky!" he called out. "And I haven't been in
Paris four hours! I called at your hotel and they told me you were out.
"I am not alone," Julien began to explain, -
Herr Freudenberg turned round.
"You must present your friend," he declared. "He must join us."
Julien hesitated for a moment.
"Kendricks," he said, "this is my friend, Herr Freudenberg."
The two men shook hands. Kendricks as yet had scarcely taken his eyes
off Herr Freudenberg's face.
"I am glad to meet you, sir," he remarked. "It is odd, but your face
seems familiar to me."
Herr Freudenberg leaned over the table.
"My friend, Mr. Kendricks," he said, "you are, I believe, a newspaper
man, and you should know the world. When you see a face that is
familiar to you in Paris, and in this Paris, it goes well that you
forget that familiarity, eh?"
"It is sound," he agreed. "I will join you, with pleasure."
"Mademoiselle," Herr Freudenberg continued, "permit me to introduce my
new friend, Mr. Kendricks. Mr. Kendricks - Mademoiselle Ixe. We will now
begin, if it is your pleasure, to spend the evening. There is room in
our corner, Mr. Kendricks. Come there, and presently Mademoiselle Ixe
will sing to us, mademoiselle with the yellow hair there will dance,
the orchestra shall play their maddest music. This is Paris and we are
young. Ah, my friends, it comes to us but seldom to live like this!"
They all sat down together. Herr Freudenberg gave reckless orders for
more wine. The _chef d'orchestre_ was at his elbow, Albert hovered
in the background. Kendricks leaned over and whispered in his friend's
"Julien, who is our friend?"
"A manufacturer of toys from Leipzig," Julien answered grimly.
"The toys that giants play with!" Kendricks muttered. "I have never
forgotten a face in my life."
"Then forget this one for a moment," Julien advised him quickly. "This
is not a night for memories. I have lived with the ghosts of them long
Their party became larger. The little dancing girl came to drink wine
with them and remained to listen to Herr Freudenberg. A friend of
Mademoiselle Ixe - a tall, fair girl in a blue satin gown - detached
herself from her friends and joined them. Herr Freudenberg, with his
arm resting lightly around Mademoiselle Ixe's waist, talked joyously
and incessantly. It was not until some one lifted the blind and
discovered that the sun was shining that they spoke of a move. Then, as
the _vestiaire_ came hurrying up with their coats and wraps, Herr
Freudenberg lifted his glass.
"One last toast!" he cried. "Dear Marguerite, my friends, all of
you - to the sun which calls us to work, to the moon which calls us to
pleasure, to the love that crowds our hearts!"
He raised his companion's hand to his lips and drew her arm through
"Come," he cried, "to the streets! We will take our coffee from the
stall of Madame Huber."
THE MORNING AFTER
Kendricks and Julien drove down from the hill in a small open
victoria. The sun had risen, but here and there were traces of a fading
twilight. A faint mauve glow hung over the sleeping streets. The
sunlight as yet was faint and the morning breeze chilly. As they passed
down the long hill, tired-looking waiters were closing up the night
cafes. Bedraggled revelers crept along the pavements with weary
With every yard of their progression, the meeting between the two
extremes of life seemed to become more apparent. The children of the
night - the weary, unwholesome products of dissipation, rubbed shoulders
with the children of the morning - girls, hatless, in simple clothes,
walking with brisk footsteps to their work; market women, brown-cheeked
and hearty, setting out their wares upon the stalls; the youth of
Paris, blithe and strenuous, walking light-footed to the region of
warehouses and factories. Julien and Kendricks looked out upon the
little scene with interest. Both had been sleepy when they had left the
cafe, but there was something stimulating in the sight of this thin but
constant stream of people. Kendricks sat up and began to talk.
"Julien," he declared, "this Paris never alters. It's a queer little
world and a rotten one. We are here just at the ebbing of the tide.
Don't you feel the hatefulness of it - the thin-blooded scream for
pleasure which needs the lash of these painted women, these gaudy
cafes, this yellow wine all the time? My God! and they call it
pleasure! Look at these people going to their work, Julien. There's
where the red blood flows. They're the people with the taste of life
between their teeth. Can't you see them at their pleasures - see them
sitting in a beer-garden with a girl and a band, their week's money in
their pocket, and the knowledge that they've earned it? Perhaps
sometimes they look up the hill and wonder at the craze for it all. Did
you see the stream coming up to-night - automobiles, victorias,
carriages of every sort; pale-faced men who had lunched too well, dined
too well, flogging their tired systems in the craze for more
excitement, more pleasure; eating at an unwholesome hour, smoking
sickly cigarettes, kissing rouged lips, listening to the false music of
that hard laughter? Look at those girls arm in arm, off to their little
milliner's shop. Hear them laugh! You don't hear anything like that,
Julien, on the top of the hill."
"Of course," Julien remarked, stifling a yawn, "if you've come to Paris
to be moral - "
"Not I!" Kendricks broke in roughly. "Bless you, I'm one of the worst.
A wild night in Paris calls me even now from any part of the world. But
Lord, what fools we are! And, Julien, we get worse. It's the old people
who keep these places going."
"The older we get," Julien replied, "the harder we have to struggle for
Kendricks wheeled suddenly in his place.
"Tell me how long you have known Herr Freudenberg?" he insisted. "How
many times have you been seen with him? Is it the truth that you met
him to-night for the first time?"
"My dear David!" he protested, -
"To tell you the truth, Julien," Kendricks interrupted, "there's some
hidden trouble, some mysterious influence at work which seems to be
upsetting the relations just now between France and England. To be
frank with you, I know that Carraby, at a Cabinet meeting yesterday,
suggested that you were at the bottom of it."
Julien's eyes suddenly flashed fire.
"D - n that fellow!" he muttered. "Does anybody believe it?"
Kendricks shrugged his shoulders.
"Scarcely. And yet, Julien, it pays to be careful. You can't afford to
be seen in public places with the enemies of your country."
"Is Carl Freudenberg an enemy of my country?"
Kendricks leaned back in his seat and laughed scornfully.
"Julien," he exclaimed, "there are times when you are very simple! Do
you indeed mean that you would try to deceive even me? You would
pretend that I, David Kendricks, of the _Post_, don't know that
Herr Freudenberg and the Prince von Falkenberg, ruler of Germany, are
one and the same person? Maker of toys, he calls himself! Maker of
fools' palaces, if you like, builder of prison houses, if you will. No
man was ever born with less of a conscience, more solely and wholly
ambitious both for his country and for himself, than the man with whom
you talked to-night. You knew him?"
"Naturally," Julien answered. "We met at Berlin."
"The man is a great genius," Kendricks continued. "No one will deny him
that. They speak of his weaknesses. They talk of his drinking bouts, of
his plunges into French dissipation. The man hasn't a single dissipated
thought in his mind. He moves through this world - this little Paris
world - with one idea only. He gets behind the scenes. He comes here
secretly, drops hints here and there as a private person, lets himself
be considered a Parisian of Parisians. All the time he listens and he
drops his cunning words of poison and he works. What are his ambitions?
Do you know, Julien?"
"Do you?" Julien asked.
"It seems to me that I have some idea," Kendricks answered. "This is
your hotel, isn't it?"
"Are you going to stay here?"
Kendricks shook his head.
"I stay at a little hotel in the Rue Taitbout. I stay there because it
is full of the weirdest set of foreigners you ever knew. This morning
we breakfast together?"
"Come and see me when you will," Julien invited, "or I will come to
you; not to breakfast, though - I am engaged."
"To Herr Freudenberg?" Kendricks asked quickly.
"To the lady whom your little friend, the manicurist, sent me to
visit," Julien replied. "Perhaps now you will tell me that she is an
ambassadress in disguise?"
"I'll tell you nothing about her this morning," Kendricks said. "I'll
tell you nothing which you ought not to find out for yourself."
"Do you think I may breakfast with her safely?" Julien inquired.
"Heaven knows - I don't!" Kendricks replied. "No man is safe with such a
woman as Madame Christophor. But let it go. We dine together to-night.
I'll tell you some news then. I'm going to unroll a plan of campaign.
There's work for you, if you like it; - nothing formulated as yet, but
it's coming - perhaps hope - who knows?"
The sun rose higher in the heavens, the mauve light faded from the sky.
Morning had arrived in earnest and Paris settled herself down to the
commencement of another day. Julien, for the first time since he had
left England, was asleep five minutes after his head had touched the
pillow. Herr Freudenberg, on the contrary, made no attempt at all to
retire. In the sitting-room of his apartments in the Boulevard
Maupassant he sat in his dressing-gown, carefully studying some letters
which had arrived by the night mail. Opposite to him was a secretary;
by his side Estermen, who appeared to be there for the purpose of
making a report.
"Not a document," Estermen was saying, "not a line of writing of any
sort in his trunk, his bureau, or anywhere about his room."
Herr Freudenberg nodded thoughtfully.
"But these Englishmen are the devil to deal with!" he said. "The
luncheon is ordered to-day in the private room at the Armenonville?"
"Everything has been attended to," Estermen replied.
Herr Freudenberg was thoughtful for several moments. Then with a wave
of his hand he dismissed Estermen.
"You, too, can go, Fritz," he said to his secretary. "You have had a
long night's work."
"You yourself, Excellency, should sleep for a while," his secretary
Herr Freudenberg shook his head.
"Sleep," he declared, "is a waste of time. I need no sleep. As you go,
you can tell my servant to prepare a warm bath. I will rest then for an
hour and walk in the Champs Elysees."
The secretary withdrew and Herr Freudenberg was alone. He picked up a
crumpled rose that lay upon the table and twirled it for a moment or
two in his fingers. The action seemed to be wholly unconscious. His
eyes were set in a fixed stare, his thoughts were busy weaving out his
plans for the day. It was not until he was summoned to his bath that he
rose and glanced at the withered flower. Then he smiled.
"Poor little Marguerite!" he murmured. "What a pity!"
He touched the rose with his lips, abandoned his first intention, which
seemed to have been to throw it into the fireplace, and put it back
carefully upon the table, side by side with an odd white glove.
"Queer little record of the froth of life," he said softly to himself.
"One soiled evening glove, a faded rose, a woman's tears, - they pass.
What can one do - we poor others who have to drive the wheels of life?"
He sighed, shrugged his high shoulders, and passed out.
BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Very soon after mid-day on the same morning, Herr Carl Freudenberg was
the host at a small luncheon party given in a private room of the most
famous restaurant in the Bois. His morning attire was a model of
correctness, his eyes were clear, his manner blithe, almost joyous.
There was no possible indication in his appearance of his misspent
hours. He was at once a genial and courteous host. Monsieur Decheles
sat at his right hand; Monsieur Felix Brant on his left; Monsieur
Pelleman opposite to him. The three men had arrived in an automobile
together and had entered the restaurant by the private way, but that
they were guests of some distinction was obvious from their reception
by the manager himself.
The luncheon was worthy of the great reputation of the place. It was
swiftly and well served. With the coffee and liqueurs the waiters
withdrew. Herr Freudenberg, with a smile, rose up and tried the door.
Then he returned to his place, lit a cigarette, and leaned back in his
"My dear friends," he announced, "now we can talk."
Monsieur Pelleman smiled.
"Yes," he admitted, "we can talk. In this excellent brandy, Monsieur
Carl Freudenberg, I drink your very good health. Long may these little
visits of yours continue."
Herr Freudenberg smiled his thanks.
"Monsieur Pelleman," he said, "and you, too, my dear friends, let me
assure you that there is nothing in the world which I enjoy so much as
these brief visits of mine to your delightful capital. No more I think
of the pressures and cares of office. I let myself go, and on these
occasions, as you know, I speak to you not in the language of
diplomacy, but as good friends who meet together to enjoy an hour or
two of one another's company, and who, because there is no harm to be
done by it, but much good, open their hearts and speak true words with
Monsieur Decheles smiled.
"It is a pleasure which we all share," he declared. "It is more
agreeable, without a doubt, to take lunch with Monsieur Carl
Freudenberg, and to speak openly, than to exchange long-winded
interviews, the true meaning of which is too much concealed by
diplomatic verbiage, with the excellent gentleman to whose good offices
are intrusted the destinies of Herr Freudenberg's great nation."
"Monsieur," Herr Freudenberg said, "to-day shall be no exception.
To-day I speak to you, perhaps, more openly than ever before. To-day I
perhaps risk much - yet why not speak the things which are in my heart?"
Monsieur Felix Brant took a cigarette from the box by his elbow, but he
felt for it only. His eyes never left the face of his host. Of the
three men, he seemed the one least in sympathy with the state of
affairs to which Herr Freudenberg had alluded so cheerfully. He watched
the man at the head of the table all the time as though every energy of
which he was possessed was devoted to the task of reading underneath
that suave but impenetrable face.
"Gentlemen," Herr Freudenberg continued, "there have been many
misapprehensions between your country and mine. Ten years ago we seemed
indeed on the highroad to friendship. It was then - I speak frankly,
mind - that your country made the one fatal mistake of recent years.
Great Britain, isolated, left behind in the race for power, a weakened
and decaying nation, having searched the world over for allies, held
out the timorous hand of friendship to you. What evil genius was with
your statesmen that day! When the history of these times comes to be
written, it is my firm belief that it will be then acknowledged that
the genius of the man who reigned over Great Britain at that time was
alone responsible for the commencement of what has become a veritable
Herr Freudenberg paused.
"There is no doubt," Monsieur Decheles asserted calmly, "that the
influence of the late king was immense among the people of France. He
appealed somehow to their imaginations, a great monarch who was also a
_bon viveur_, who had lived his days in Paris as the others."
Herr Freudenberg nodded thoughtfully.
"He is dead," he said, "and history will write him down as a great
king. Do you know that it is one of my theories that morals have
nothing to do with government? I doubt whether a more sagacious monarch