A.E. W. Mason.

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discharge of an obligation; it was not a reply to any definite
objection. Such arguments would only have confirmed her in her
stubbornness. He made accordingly an appeal to sentiment.

"Your Highness's daughter," said he, "spoke a minute since of the
hazards my friends and I have run to compass her escape. As regards four
of us, the words reached beyond our deserts. For we are men. Such
hazards are our portion; they are seldom lightened by so high an aim.
But the fifth! The words, however kind, were still below that fifth
one's merits; for the fifth is a woman."

"I know. With all my heart I thank her. With all my heart I pity her."

"But there is one thing your Highness does not know. She runs our
risks, - the risk of capture, the risk of the night, the storm, the snow,
she a woman by nature timid and frail, - yet with never in all her life
so great a reason for timidity, or so much frailty of health as now. We
venture our lives, but she ventures more."

The mother bowed her head; Clementina looked fixedly at Wogan.

"Speak plainly, my friend," she said. "There are no children here."

"Madam, I need but quote to you the words her husband used. For my part,
I think that nobler words were never spoken, and with her whole heart
she repeats them. They are these: 'The boy would only live to serve his
King; why should he not serve his King before he lives?'"

The mother was still silent, but Wogan could see that the tears
overbrimmed her eyes and rolled down her cheeks. Clementina was silent
for a while too, and stood with her eyes fixed thoughtfully on Wogan.
Then she said gently, -

"Her name."

Wogan told her it, and she said no more; but it was plain that she would
never forget it, that she had written it upon her heart.

Wogan waited, looking to the Princess, who drying her tears rose from
her chair and said with great and unexpected dignity, -

"How comes it, sir, that with such servants your King still does not sit
upon his throne? My daughter shall not fall below the great example set
to her. My fears are shamed by it. My daughter goes with you to-night."

It was time that she consented, for even as Wogan flung himself upon his
knee and raised her hand, M. Chateaudoux appeared at the door with a
finger on his lips, and behind him one could hear a voice grumbling and
cursing on the stairs.

"Jenny," said Wogan, and Jenny stumbled into the room. "Quiet," said he;
"you will wake the house."

"Well, if you had to walk upstairs in the dark in these horrible
shoes - "

"Oh, Jenny, your cloak, quick!"

"Take the thing! A good riddance to it; it's dripping wet, and weighs a

"Dripping wet!" moaned the mother.

"I shall not wear it long," said Clementina, advancing from the
embrasure of the window. Jenny turned and looked her over critically
from head to foot. Then she turned away without a word and let the cloak
fall to the ground. It fell about her feet; she kicked it viciously
away, and at the same time she kicked off one of those shoes of which
she so much complained. Jenny was never the woman to mince her language,
and to-night she was in her surliest mood. So she swore simply and
heartily, to the mother's utter astonishment and indignation.

"Damn!" she said, hobbling across the room to the corner, whither her
shoe had fallen. "There, there, old lady; don't hold your hands to your
ears as though a clean oath would poison them!"

The Princess-mother fell back in her chair.

"Does she speak to me?" she asked helplessly.

"Yes," said Wogan; and turning to Jenny, "This is the kind-hearted

Jenny turned to Clementina, who was picking the cloak from the floor.

"And you are the beautiful heiress," she said sourly. "Well, if you are
going to put that wet cloak on your shoulders, I wish you joy of the
first kiss O'Toole gives you when you jump into his arms."

The Princess-mother screamed; Wogan hastened to interfere.

"Jenny, there's the bedroom; to bed with you!" and he took out his
watch. At once he uttered an exclamation of affright. Wogan had
miscalculated the time which he would require. It had taken longer than
he had anticipated to reach the villa against the storm; his conflict
with Jenny in the portico had consumed valuable minutes; he had been at
some pains to over-persuade the Princess-mother; Jenny herself amongst
the trees in the darkness had waited more than the quarter of an hour
demanded of her; Wogan himself, absorbed each moment in that moment's
particular business, - now bending all his wits to vanquish Jenny, now to
vanquish the Princess-mother, - even Wogan had neglected how the time
sped. He looked at his watch. It was twenty-five minutes to ten, and at
ten the magistrate would be knocking at the door.

"I am ready," said Clementina, drawing the wet cloak about her shoulders
and its hood over her head. She barely shivered under its wet heaviness.

"There's one more thing to be done before you go," said Wogan; but
before he could say what that one thing was, Jenny, who had now
recovered her shoe, ran across the room and took the beautiful heiress
by both hands. Jenny was impulsive by nature. The Princess-mother's
distress and Clementina's fearlessness made her suddenly ashamed that
she had spoken so sourly.

"There, there, old lady," she said soothingly; "don't you fret. They are
very good friends your niece is going with." Then she drew Clementina
close to her. "I don't wonder they are all mad about you, for I can't
but say you are very handsome and richly worth the pains you have
occasioned us." She kissed Clementina plump upon the cheek and
whispered in her ear, "O'Toole won't mind the wet cloak, my dear, when
he sees you."

Clementina laughed happily and returned her kiss with no less sincerity,
if with less noise.

"Quick, Jenny," said Wogan, "to bed with you!"

He pointed to the door which led to the Princess's bedroom.

"Now you must write a letter," he added to Clementina, in a low voice,
as soon as the door was shut upon Jenny. "A letter to your mother,
relieving her of all complicity in your escape. Her Highness will find
it to-morrow night slipped under the cover of her toilette."

Clementina ran to a table, and taking up a pen, "You think of
everything," she said. "Perhaps you have written the letter."

Wogan pulled a sheet of paper from his fob.

"I scribbled down a few dutiful sentiments," said he, "as we drove down
from Nazareth, thinking it might save time."

"Mother," exclaimed Clementina, "not content with contriving my escape,
he will write my letters to you. Well, sir, let us hear what you have
made of it."

Wogan dictated a most beautiful letter, in which a mother's claims for
obedience were strongly set out - as a justification, one must suppose,
for a daughter's disobedience. But Clementina was betrothed to his
Majesty King James, and that engagement must be ever the highest
consideration with her, on pain of forfeiting her honour. It was
altogether a noble and stately letter, written in formal, irreproachable
phrases which no daughter in the world would ever have written to a
mother. Clementina laughed over it, but said that it would serve. Wogan
looked at his watch again. It was then a quarter to ten.

"Quick!" said he. "Your Highness will wait for me under the fourth tree
of the avenue, counting from the end."

He left the mother and daughter alone, that his presence might not check
the tenderness of their farewell, and went down the stairs into the dark
hall. M. Chateaudoux was waiting there, with his teeth chattering in the
extremity of his alarm. Wogan unlatched the door very carefully and saw
through the chink the sentry standing by the steps. The snow still fell;
he was glad to note the only light was a white glimmering from the waste
of snow upon the ground.

"You must go out with her," Wogan whispered to Chateaudoux, "and speak a
word to the sentry."

"At any moment the magistrate may come," said Chateaudoux, though he
trembled so that he could hardly speak.

"All the more reason for the sentinel to let your sweetheart run home at
her quickest step," said Wogan, and above him he heard Clementina come
out upon the landing. He crept up the stairs to her.

"Here is my hand," said he, in a low voice. She laid her own in his,
and bending towards him in the darkness she whispered, -

"Promise me it shall always be at my service. I shall need friends. I am
young, and I have no knowledge. Promise me!"

She was young indeed. The freshness of her voice, its little tremble of
modesty, the earnestness of its appeal, carried her youth quite home to
Mr. Wogan's heart. She was sweet with youth. Wogan felt it more clearly
as they stood together in the darkness than when he had seen her plainly
in the lighted room, with youth mantling her cheeks and visible in the
buoyancy of her walk. Then she had been always the chosen woman. Wogan
could just see her eyes, steady and mysteriously dark, shining at him
out of the gloom, and a pang of remorse suddenly struck through him.
That one step she was to take was across the threshold of a prison, it
was true, but a prison familiar and warm, and into a night of storm and
darkness and ice. The road lay before her into Italy, but it was a road
of unknown perils, through mountains deep in snow. And this escape of
to-night from the villa, this thunderous flight, with its hardships and
its dangers, which followed the escape, was only the symbol of her life.
She stepped from the shelter of her girlhood, as she stepped across the
threshold of the villa, into a womanhood dark with many trials,
storm-swept and wandering. She might reach the queendom which was her
due, as the berlin in which she was to travel might - nay, surely
would - rush one day from the gorges into the plains and the sunlight of
Italy; but had Wogan travelled to Rome in Gaydon's place and talked with
Whittington outside the Caprara Palace, it is very likely that she would
never have been allowed by him to start. Up till now he had thought only
of her splendid courage, of the humiliation of her capture, of her
wounded pride; she was the chosen woman. Now he thought of the girl, and
wondered of her destiny, and was stricken with remorse.

"Promise me," she repeated, and her hand tightened upon his and clung to
it. Wogan had no fine sentiments wherewith to answer her; but his voice
took a depth of sincerity and tenderness quite strange to her. Her
fingers ceased to tremble.

They went down into the hall. Chateaudoux, who had been waiting in an
agony of impatience, opened the door and slipped out; Clementina
followed him.

The door was left ajar behind them, and Wogan in the hall saw
Chateaudoux speak with the sentinel, saw the sentinel run hurriedly to
Clementina, saw Clementina disappear into the snow. Chateaudoux ran back
into the hall.

"And you!" he asked, as he barred and locked the door. "The magistrate
is coming. I saw the lights of the guard across the avenue."

Clementina was outside in the storm; Wogan was within the house, and the
lights of the guard were already near.

"I go by the way I came," said he; "I have time;" and he ran quickly up
the stairs. In the room he found the Princess-mother weeping silently,
and again, as he saw this weak elderly woman left alone to her fears and
forebodings, remorse took hold on him.

"Courage, madam," said he, as he crossed the room; "she goes to wed a

"Sir, I am her mother," replied the Princess, gaining at this moment a
suitable dignity from her tears. "I was wondering not of the King, but
of the man the King conceals."

"You need not, madam," said Wogan, who had no time for eulogies upon his
master. "Take his servant's loyalty as the measure of his merits."

He looked out of the window and suddenly drew back. He stood for a
moment with a look of great fear upon his face. For the sentinel was
back at his post; Wogan dared not at this moment risk a struggle, and
perhaps an outcry. Clementina was waiting under the avenue of trees;
Wogan was within the house, and the lights of the guard were already
flaring in the roadway. Even as Wogan stood in the embrasure of the
window, he heard a heavy knocking on the door.


Wogan closed the window cautiously. The snow had drifted through and lay
melting in a heap beneath the sill. He drew the curtain across the
embrasure, and then he crossed to the bedroom door.

"Jenny," he whispered, "are you in bed?"


"Lie close! Do not show your face nor speak. Only groan, and groan most
delicately, or we are lost."

He closed the door upon Jenny, and turning about came face to face with
the Princess-mother. She stood confronting him, a finger on her lips,
and terror in her eyes; and he heard the street-door open and clang to

"The magistrate!" she whispered.

"Courage, your Highness. Keep them from the bed! Say that her eyes are
weak and cannot bear the light."

He slipped behind the curtain into the embrasure, picturing to himself
the disposition of the room, lest he should have left behind a trifle to
betray him. He had in a supreme degree that gift of recollection which
takes the form of a mental vision. He did not have to count over the
details of the room; he summoned a picture of it to his mind, and saw
it and its contents from corner to corner. And thus while the footsteps
yet sounded on the stair, he saw Clementina's bundle lying forgotten on
a couch. He darted from his hiding-place, seized it, and ran back. He
had just sufficient and not a second more time, for the curtain had not
ceased to swing when the magistrate knocked, and without waiting for an
answer entered. He was followed by two soldiers, and these he ordered to
wait without the door.

"Your Highness," he said in a polite voice, and stopped abruptly. It
seemed to Wogan behind the curtain that his heart stopped at the same
moment and with no less abruptness. There was no evidence of
Clementina's flight to justify that sudden silence. Then he grew faint,
as it occurred to him that he had made Lady Featherstone's
mistake, - that his boot protruded into the room. He clenched his teeth,
expecting a swift step and the curtain to be torn aside. The window was
shut; he would never have time to open it and leap out and take his
chance with the sentry underneath. He was caught in a trap, and
Clementina waited for him in the avenue, under the fourth tree. All was
lost, it seemed, and by his own folly, his own confidence. Had he only
told her of the tavern under the city wall, where the carriage stood
with its horses harnessed in the shafts, she might still have escaped,
though he was trapped. The sweat passed down his face. Yet no swift step
was taken, nor was the curtain torn aside.

For within the room the magistrate, a kindly citizen of Innspruck who
had no liking for this addition to his duties, stood gazing at the
Princess-mother with a respectful pity. It was the sight of her
tear-stained face which had checked his words. For two days Clementina
had kept her bed, and the mother's tears alarmed him.

"Her Highness, your daughter, suffers so much?" said he.

"Sir, it is little to be wondered at."

The magistrate bowed. That question was not one with which he had a mind
to meddle.

"She still lies in bed?" said he, and he crossed to the door. The mother
flung herself in the way.

"She lies in pain, and you would disturb her; you would flash your
lanterns in her eyes, that if perchance she sleeps, she may wake into a
world of pain. Sir, you will not."

"Your Highness - "

"It is the mother who beseeches you. Sir, would you have me on my

Wogan, but this moment recovered from his alarm, became again uneasy.
Her Highness protested too much; she played her part in the comedy too
strenuously. He judged by the ear; the magistrate had the quivering,
terror-stricken face before his eyes, and his pity deepened.

"Your Highness," he said, "I must pray you to let me pass. I have
General Heister's orders to obey."

The Princess-mother now gave Wogan reason to applaud her. She saw that
the magistrate, for all his politeness, was quite inflexible.

"Go, then," she said with a quiet dignity which once before she had
shown that evening. "Since there is no humiliation to be spared us, take
a candle, sir, and count the marks of suffering in my daughter's face;"
and with her own hand she opened the bedroom door and stood aside.

"Madam, I would not press my duty an inch beyond its limits," said the
magistrate. "I will stand in the doorway, and do you bid your daughter

The Princess-mother did not move from her position.

"My child," she said.

Jenny in the bedroom groaned and turned from one side to the other.

"You are in pain?"

Jenny groaned again. The magistrate himself closed the door.

"Believe me," said he, "no one could more regret than I the incivilities
to which I am compelled."

He crossed the room. Wogan heard him and his men descending the stairs.
He heard the door open and shut; he heard Chateaudoux draw the bolts.
Then he stepped out from the curtain.

"Your Highness, that was bravely done," said he, and kneeling he kissed
her hand. He went back into the embrasure, slipped the bundle over his
arm, and opened the window very silently. He saw the snow was still
falling, the wind still moaning about the crannies and roaring along
the streets. He set his knee upon the window-ledge, climbed out, and
drew the window to behind him.

The Princess-mother waited in the room with her hand upon her heart. She
waited, it seemed to her, for an eternity. Then she heard the sound of a
heavy fall, and the clang of a musket against the wall of the villa. But
she heard no cry. She ran to the window and looked out. But strain her
eyes as she might, she could distinguish nothing in that blinding storm.
She could not see the sentinel; nor was this strange, for the sentinel
lay senseless on the snow against the house-wall, and Mr. Wogan was
already running down the avenue.

Under the fourth tree he found Clementina; she took his arm, and they
set off together, wrestling with the wind, wading through the snow. It
seemed to Clementina that her companion was possessed by some new fear.
He said no single word to her; he dragged her with a fierce grip upon
her wrist; if she stumbled, he jerked her roughly to her feet. She set
her teeth and kept pace with him. Only once did she speak. They had come
to a depression in the road where the melted snow had made a wide pool.
Wogan leaped across it and said, -

"Give me your hand! There's a white stone midway where you can set your

The Princess stepped as he bade her. The stone yielded beneath her tread
and she stood ankle-deep in the water. Wogan sprang to her side and
lifted her out. She had uttered no cry, and now she only laughed as she
stood shivering on the further edge. It was that low musical,
good-humoured laugh to which Wogan had never listened without a thrill
of gladness, but it waked no response in him now.

"You told me of a white stone on which I might safely set my foot," she
said. "Well, sir, your white stone was straw."

They were both to remember these words afterwards and to make of them a
parable, but it seemed that Wogan barely heard them now. "Come!" he
said, and taking her arm he set off running again.

Clementina understood that something inopportune, something terrible,
had happened since she had left the villa. She asked no questions; she
trusted herself without reserve to these true friends who had striven at
such risks for her, she desired to prove to them that she was what they
would have her be, - a girl who did not pester them with inconvenient
chatter, but who could keep silence when silence was helpful, and face
hardships with a buoyant heart.

They crossed the bridge and stopped before a pair of high folding doors.
They were the doors of the tavern. Wogan drew a breath of relief, pulled
the bobbin, and pushed the doors open. Clementina slipped through, and
in darkness she took a step forward and bruised herself against the
wheels of a carriage. Wogan closed the door and ran to her side.

"This way," said he, and held out his hand. He guided Clementina round
the carriage to a steep narrow stairway - it was more a ladder than a
stair - fixed against the inner wall. At the top of this stairway shone a
horizontal line of yellow light. Wogan led the Princess up the stairs.
The line of light shone out beneath a door. Wogan opened the door and
stood aside. Clementina passed into a small bare room lighted by a
single candle, where Mrs. Misset, Gaydon, and O'Toole waited for her
coming. Not a word was said; but their eyes spoke their admiration of
the woman, their knees expressed their homage to the Queen. There was a
fire blazing on the hearth, Mrs. Misset had a dry change of clothes
ready and warm. Wogan laid the Princess's bundle on a chair, and with
Gaydon and O'Toole went down the stairs.

"The horses?" he asked.

"I have ordered them," said Gaydon, "at the post-house. I will fetch
them;" and he hurried off upon his errand.

Wogan turned to O'Toole.

"And the bill?"

"I have paid it."

"There is no one awake in the house?"

"No one but the landlady."

"Good! Can you keep her engaged until we are ready?"

"To be sure I can. She shall never give a thought to any man of you but

O'Toole passed through a door at the bottom of the staircase into the
common-room of the inn. Wogan gently opened the big doors and dragged
the carriage out into the road. Gaydon with the horses galloped
silently up through the snow, and together the two men feverishly
harnessed them to the carriage. There were six for the carriage, and a
seventh for O'Toole to ride. The expedition which Wogan and Gaydon
showed was matched by the Princess. For while they were fastening the
last buckles, the door at the top of the stairs opened, and again that
night Clementina whispered, -

"I am ready."

"Come!" replied Wogan. She wore a scarlet cloak upon her shoulders, and
muffling it about her head she ran down with Mrs. Misset. Wogan opened
the lower door of the inn and called for O'Toole. O'Toole came running
out before Wogan had ended his words, and sprang into his saddle. Gaydon
was already on the box with the reins gathered in his hand. Wogan had
the carriage door open before Clementina had reached the foot of the
stairs; it was shut upon her and her companion almost before they were
aware they were within it; the carriage started almost before the door
was shut. Yet when it did start, Wogan was beside Gaydon upon the box.
Their movements, indeed, occurred with so exact a rapidity, that though
the hostess at once followed O'Toole to bid her guests farewell, when
she reached the big doors she saw only the back of the carriage lurching
through the ruts of snow.

"Quick!" cried Wogan; "we have lost too much time."

"A bare twenty minutes," said Gaydon.

"A good twelve hours," said Wogan.

Gaydon lashed the horses into a gallop, the horses strained at their
collars, the carriage raced out of the town and up the slopes of the
Brenner. The princess Clementina had been rescued from her prison.

"But we must keep her free!" cried Wogan, as he blew through his gloves
upon his frozen fingers. "Faster! Faster!"

The incline was steep, the snow clogged the wheels, the horses sank deep
in it. Gaydon might ply his whip as he would, the carriage might lurch
and leap from side to side; the pace was all too slow for Wogan.

"We have lost twelve hours," he cried. "Oh, would to God we were come to
Italy!" And turning backwards he strained his eyes down through the
darkness and snow to the hidden roofs of Innspruck, almost fearing to
see the windows from one end of the town to the other leap to a blaze of
light, and to hear a roar of many voices warn him that the escape was
discovered. But the only cry that he heard came from the lips of Mrs.
Misset, who put her head from the carriage and bade him stop.

Gaydon brought the horses to a standstill three miles out of Innspruck.


Wogan jumped down from his box and ran to the carriage-door.

"Her Highness is ill?" he cried in suspense.

"Not the least bit in the world," returned Clementina, whose voice for
once in a way jarred upon Wogan's ears. Nothing short of a positive
sickness could justify the delay.

"What is it, then?" he asked curtly, almost roughly, of Mrs. Misset.

"You carried a packet for her Highness. It is left behind at the

Wogan stamped impatiently on the ground.

"And for this, for a petticoat or two, you hinder us," he cried in a

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Online LibraryA.E. W. MasonClementina → online text (page 11 of 20)