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in a startled voice, -

"That you must never do. Promise that you never will! Promise me that
you will never try;" and again Gaydon stirred in his corner.

Clementina made no answer to the passionate words. She did not promise,
but she drew a breath, and then from head to foot she shivered. Wogan
dared not repeat his plea for a promise, but he felt that though she had
not given it, none the less she would keep it. They sat for awhile
silent. Then Clementina came back to her first question.

"Tell me of the King," she said very softly. And as the carriage rolled
down the mountain valley through the night and its wheels struck flashes
of fire from the stones, Wogan drew a picture for her of the man she was
to marry. It was a relief to him to escape from the dangerous talk of
the last hour, and he spoke fervently. The poet in him had always been
sensitive to the glamour of that wandering Prince; he had his
countrymen's instinctive devotion for a failing cause. This was no
suitable moment for dwelling upon the defects and weaknesses. Wogan told
her the story of the campaign in Scotland, of the year's residence in
Avignon. He spoke most burningly. A girl would no doubt like to hear of
her love's achievements; and if James Stuart had not so many to his name
as a man could wish, that was merely because chance had served him ill.
So a fair tale was told, not to be found in any history book, of a
night attack in Scotland and how the Chevalier de St. George, surprised
and already to all purposes a prisoner, forced a way alone through nine
grenadiers with loaded muskets and escaped over the roof-tops. It was a
good breathless story as he told it, and he had just come to an end of
it when the carriage drove through the village of Wellishmile and
stopped at the posting-house. Wogan opened the door and shook Gaydon by
the shoulder.

"Let us try if we can get stronger horses here," said he, and he got
out. Gaydon woke up with surprising alacrity.

"I must have fallen asleep," said he. "I beseech your Highness's
forgiveness; I have slept this long while." It was no business of his if
Wogan chose to attribute his own escape from Newgate as an exploit of
the King's. The story was a familiar one at Bologna, whither they were
hurrying; it was sufficiently known that Charles Wogan was its hero. All
this was Wogan's business, not Gaydon's. Nor had Gaydon anything to do
with any city of dreams or with any lady that might ride into it, or
with any black horse that chanced to carry her. Poets no doubt talked
that way. It was their business. Gaydon was not sorry that he had slept
so heartily through those last stages. He got down from the carriage and
met Wogan coming from the inn with a face of dismay.

"We are stopped here. There is no help for it. We have gained on the
Prince of Baden, who is no more than two stages ahead. The relays which
carried him from here to the next stage have only this instant come
back. They are too tired to move. So we must stay until they are
refreshed. And we are still three posts this side of Trent!" he cried.
"I would not mind were Trent behind us. But there's no help for it. I
have hired a room where the Countess and her niece can sleep until such
time as we can start."

Clementina and Mrs. Misset descended and supped in company with Gaydon
and Wogan, while Misset and O'Toole waited upon them as servants. It was
a silent sort of supper, very different from the meal they had made that
morning. For though the fare was better, it lacked the exhilaration.
This delay weighed heavily upon them all. For the country was now for a
sure thing raised behind them, and if they had gained on the Prince of
Baden, their pursuers had no less certainly gained on them.

"Would we were t'other side of Trent!" exclaimed Wogan; and looking up
he saw that Clementina was watching him with a strange intentness. Her
eyes were on him again while they sat at supper; and when he led her to
the door of her room and she gave him her hand, she stood for a little
while looking deep into his eyes. And though she had much need of sleep,
when she had got into the room and the door was closed behind her, she
remained staring at the logs of the fire.

For she knew his secret, and to her eyes he was now another man. Before,
Wogan was the untiring servant, the unflinching friend; now he was the
man who loved her. The risks he had run, his journeyings, his unswerving
confidence in the result, his laborious days and nights of preparation,
and the swift execution, - love as well as service claimed a share in
these. He was changed for ever to her eyes; she knew his secret. There
was the cloud no bigger than a man's hand. For she must needs think over
all that he had said and done by the new light the secret shed. When did
he first begin to care? Why? She recalled his first visit long ago to
Ohlau, when he rode across the park on his black horse charged with his
momentous errand. She had been standing, she remembered, before the
blazing log-fire in the great stone hall, much as she was standing now.
Great changes had come since then. She was James Stuart's chosen
wife - and this man loved her. He had no hope of any reward; he desired
even that she should not know. She should no doubt have been properly
sorry and compassionate, but she was a girl simple and frank. To be
loved by a man who could so endure and strive and ask no guerdon, - that
lifted her. She thought the more worthily of herself because he loved
her. She was raised thereby. She could not be sorry; her blood pulsed,
her heart sang, the starry eyes shone with a brighter light. He loved
her. She knew his secret. A little clock chimed the hour upon the
mantel-shelf, and lifting her eyes she saw that just twenty-four hours
had passed since she had driven out of Innspruck up the Brenner.

As she got into bed a horse galloped up to the inn and stopped. She
remembered that she had not ridden on his black horse out of the sunrise
across the plain. He loved her, and since he loved her, surely - She fell
asleep puzzled and wondering why. She was waked up some two hours
afterwards by a rapping on the door, and she grew hot and she recognised
Wogan's voice cautiously whispering to her to rise with all speed. For
in her dreams from which she had wakened, she had ridden across the flat
green plain into the round city of dreams.




CHAPTER XVI


When the horse galloped up to the door, the Princess turned on her side
and went to sleep. In the common-room below Gaydon and Wogan were
smoking a pipe of tobacco over the fire. Both men rose on the instant;
Wogan stealthily opened the door an inch or so and looked down the
passage. Gaydon raised a corner of the blind and peered through the
window. The two remaining members of the party, Misset and O'Toole, who
as lackeys had served the supper of the Princess, were now eating their
own. When the Princess turned over on her side, and Wogan stepped on
tiptoe to the door and Gaydon peeped through the window, Misset laid
down his knife and fork, and drawing a flask from his pocket emptied its
contents into an earthenware water-jug which stood upon the table.
O'Toole, for his part, simply continued to eat.

"He is getting off his horse," said Gaydon.

"Has he ridden hard, do you think?" asked Misset.

"He looks in a mighty ill-humour."

O'Toole looked up from his plate, and became gradually aware that
something was occurring. Before he could speak, however, Gaydon dropped
the blind.

"He is coming in. It will never do for him to find the four of us
together. He may not be the courier from Innspruck; on the other hand,
he may, and seeing the four of us he will ask questions of the landlord.
Seeing no more than two, he will very likely ask none."

O'Toole began to understand. He understood, at all events, that for him
there was to be no more supper. If two were to make themselves scarce,
he knew that he would be one of the two.

"Very well," said he, heaving a sigh which made the glasses on the table
dance, and laying his napkin down he got up. To his surprise, however,
he was bidden to stay.

"Gaydon and I will go," said Wogan. "Jack will find out the fellow's
business."

Misset nodded his head, took up his knife and fork again. He leaned
across the table to O'Toole as the others stepped out of the room.

"You speak only French, Lucius. You come from Savoy." He had no time to
say more, for the new-comer stamped blustering down the passage and
flung into the room. The man, as Gaydon had remarked, was in a mighty
ill-humour; his clothes and his face were splashed with mud, and he
seemed, moreover, in the last stage of exhaustion. For though he bawled
for the landlord it was in a weak, hoarse voice, which did not reach
beyond the door.

Misset looked at him with sympathy.

"You have no doubt come far," said he; "and the landlord's a laggard.
Here's something that may comfort you till he comes;" and he filled a
glass half full with red Tyrol wine from the bottle at his elbow.

The man thanked him and advanced to the table.

"It is a raw hot wine," continued Misset, "and goes better with water;"
and he filled up the glass from the water-jug. The courier reached out
his hand for it.

"I am the thirstiest man in all Germany," said he, and he took a gulp of
the wine and immediately fell to spluttering.

"Save us," said he, "but this wine is devilishly strong."

"Try some more water," said Misset, and again he filled up the glass.
The courier drank it all in a single draught, and stood winking his eyes
and shaking his head.

"That warms a man," said he. "It does one good;" and again he called for
the landlord, and this time in a strange voice. The landlord still
lagged, however, and Misset did not doubt that Wogan had found a means
to detain him. He filled up the courier's glass again, half wine, half
water. The courier sat heavily down in a chair.

"I take the liberty, gentlemen," said he. "I am no better than a
dung-heap to sit beside gentlemen. But indeed I can stand no longer.
Never have I stridden across such vile slaughter-house cattle as they
keep for travellers on the Brenner road. I have sprained my legs with
spurring 'em. Seven times," he cried with an oath, - "seven times has a
horse dropped under me to-day. There's not an inch of me unbruised,
curse me if there is! I'm a cake of mud."

Misset knew very well why the courier had suffered these falls. The
horses he had ridden had first been tired by the Prince of Baden, and
then had the last spark of fire flogged out of them by the Princess's
postillions. He merely shrugged his shoulders, however, and said, "That
looks ill for us."

The courier gazed suddenly at Misset, then at O'Toole, with a dull sort
of suspicion in his eyes.

"And which way might you gentlemen be travelling?"

"To Innspruck; we're from Trent," said Misset, boldly.

The courier turned to O'Toole.

"And you too, sir?"

O'Toole turned a stolid, uncomprehending face upon the courier.

"Pour moi, monsieur, je suis Savoyard. Monsieur qui vous parle, c'est
mon compagnon de négoce."

The courier gazed with blank, heavy eyes at O'Toole. He had the
appearance of a man fuddled with drink. He heaved a sigh or two.

"Will you repeat that," he said at length, "and slowly?"

O'Toole repeated his remark, and the courier nodded at him. "That's
very strange," said he, solemnly, wagging his head. "I do not dispute
its truth, but it is most strange. I will tell my wife of it." He turned
in his chair, and a twinge from his bruises made him cry out. "I shall
be as stiff as a mummy in the morning," he exclaimed, and swore loudly
at "the bandits" who had caused him this deplorable journey. Misset and
O'Toole exchanged a quick glance, and Misset pushed the glass across the
table. The courier took it, and his eyes lighted up.

"You have come from Trent," said he. "Did you pass a travelling carriage
on the road?"

"Yes," said Misset; "the Prince of Baden with a large following drove
into Trent as we came out."

"Yes, yes," said the courier. "But no second party behind the Prince?"

Misset shook his head; he made a pretence of consulting O'Toole in
French, and O'Toole shook his head.

"Then I shall have the robbers," cried the courier. "They are to be
flayed alive, and they deserve it," he shouted fiercely to Misset.
"Gallows-birds!"

He dropped his head upon his arms and muttered "gallows-birds" again. It
seemed that he was falling asleep, but he suddenly sat up and beat on
the table with his fist.

"I have eaten nothing since the morning. Ah - gallows-birds - flayed
alive, and hanged - no, hanged and flayed alive - no, that's impossible."
He drank off the wine which Misset had poured out for him, and rose from
his chair. "Where's the landlord? I want supper. I want besides to speak
to him;" and he staggered towards the door.

"As for supper," said Misset, "we shall be glad if you will share ours.
Travellers should be friendly."

O'Toole caught the courier by the arm and with a polite speech in French
drew him again down into his chair. The courier stared at O'Toole and
forgot all about the landlord. He had eaten nothing all day, and the
wine and the water-jug had gone to his head. He put a long forefinger on
O'Toole's knee.

"Say that again," said he, and O'Toole obeyed. A slow, fat smile spread
all over the courier's face.

"I'll tell my wife about it," said he. He tried to clap O'Toole on the
back, and missing him fell forward with his face on the table. The next
minute he was snoring. Misset walked round the table and deftly picked
his pockets. There was a package in one of them superscribed to "Prince
Taxis, the Governor of Trent." Misset deliberately broke the seal and
read the contents. He handed the package to O'Toole, who read it, and
then flinging it upon the ground danced upon it. Misset went out of the
room and found Wogan and Gaydon keeping watch by Clementina's door. To
them he spoke in a whisper.

"The fellow brings letters from General Heister to the Governor of Trent
to stop us at all costs. But his letters are destroyed, and he's lying
dead-drunk on the table."

The three men quickly concerted a plan. The Princess must be roused; a
start must be made at once; and O'Toole must be left behind to keep a
watch upon the courier, Wogan rapped at the door and waked Clementina;
he sent Gaydon to the stables to bribe the ostlers, and with Misset went
down to inform O'Toole.

O'Toole, however, was sitting with his eyes closed and his head nodding,
surrounded by scraps of the letter which he had danced to pieces. Wogan
shook him by the shoulder, and he opened his eyes and smiled fatuously.

"He means to tell his wife," he said with a foolish gurgle of laughter.
"He must be an ass. I don't think if I had a wife I should tell her.
Would you, Wogan, tell your wife if you had one? Misset wouldn't tell
his wife."

Misset interrupted him.

"What have you drank since I went out of the room?" he asked roughly. He
took up the water-jug and turned it topsy-turvy. It was quite empty.

"Only water," said O'Toole, dreamily, and he laughed again. "Now I
wouldn't mind telling my wife that," said he.

Misset let him go and turned with a gesture of despair to Wogan.

"I poured my flask out into the water-bottle. It was full of burnt
Strasbourg brandy, of double strength. It is as potent as opium. Neither
of them will have his wits before to-morrow. It will not help us to
leave O'Toole to guard the courier."

"And we cannot take him," said Wogan. "There is the Princess to be
thought of. We must leave him, and we cannot leave him alone, for his
neck's in danger, - more than in danger if the courier wakes before him."

He picked up carefully the scraps of the letter and placed them in the
middle of the fire. They were hardly burnt before Gaydon came into the
room with word that horses were already being harnessed to the berlin.
Wogan explained their predicament.

"We must choose which of us three shall stay behind," said he.

"Which of us two," Misset corrected, pointing to Gaydon and himself.
"When the Princess drives into Bologna, Charles Wogan, who first had the
high heart to dare this exploit, the brain to plot, the hand to execute
it, - Charles Wogan must ride at her side, not Misset, not Gaydon. I take
no man's honours." He shook Wogan by the hand as he spoke, and he had
spoken with an extraordinary warmth of admiration. Gaydon could do no
less than follow his companion's example, though there was a shade of
embarrassment in his manner of assenting. It was not that he had any
envy of Wogan, or any desire to rob him of a single tittle of his due
credit. There was nothing mean in Gaydon's nature, but here was a
halving of Clementina's protectors, and he could not stifle a suspicion
that the best man of the four to leave behind was really Charles Wogan
himself. Not a word, however, of this could he say, and so he nodded his
assent to Misset's proposal.

"It is I, then, who stay behind with O'Toole and the courier," he said.
"Misset has a wife; the lot evidently falls to me. We will make a shift
somehow or another to keep the fellow quiet till sundown to-morrow,
which time should see you out of danger." He unbuckled the sword from
his waist and laid it on the table, and that simple action somehow
touched Wogan to the heart. He slipped his arm into Gaydon's and said
remorsefully, -

"Dick, I do hate to leave you, you and Lucius. I swept you into the
peril, you two, my friends, and now I leave you in the thick of it to
find a way out for yourselves. But there is no remedy, is there? I shall
not rest until I see you both again. Goodbye, Lucius." He looked at
O'Toole sprawling with outstretched legs upon his groaning chair. "My
six feet four," said he, turning to Gaydon; "you must give me the
passport. Have a good care of him, Dick;" and he gripped O'Toole
affectionately by the arms for a second, and then taking the passport
hurried from the room. Gaydon had seldom seen Wogan so moved.

The berlin was brought round to the door; the Princess, rosy with sleep,
stepped into it; Wogan had brought with him a muff, and he slipped it
over Clementina's feet to keep her warm during the night; Misset took
Gaydon's place, and the postillion cracked his whip and set off towards
Trent. Gaydon, sitting before the fire in the parlour, heard the wheels
grate upon the road; he had a vision of the berlin thundering through
the night with a trail of sparks from the wheels; and he wondered
whether Misset was asleep or merely leaning back with his eyes shut, and
thus visiting incognito Woman's fairy-land of dreams. However, Gaydon
consoled himself with the reflection that it was none of his business.




CHAPTER XVII


But Gaydon was out of his reckoning. There were no fairy tales told for
Misset to overhear, and the Princess Clementina slept in her corner of
the carriage. If a jolt upon a stone wakened her, a movement opposite
told her that her sentinel was watchful and alert. Three times the
berlin stopped for a change of horses; and on each occasion Wogan was
out of the door and hurrying the ostlers before the wheels had ceased to
revolve.

"You should sleep, my friend," said she.

"Not till we reach Italy," he replied; and with the confidence of a
child she nestled warmly in her cloak again and closed her eyes. This
feeling of security was a new luxury to her after the months of anxiety
and prison. The grey light of the morning stole into the berlin and
revealed to her the erect and tireless figure of her saviour. The sun
leaped down the mountain-peaks, and the grey of the light was now a
sparkling gold. Wogan bade her Highness look from the carriage window,
and she could not restrain a cry of delight. On her left, mountain-ridge
rose behind mountain-ridge, away to the towering limestone cliffs of
Monte Scanupia; on her right, the white peaks of the Orto d'Abram
flashed to the sun; and between the hills the broad valley of the Adige
rolled southwards, - a summer country of villages and vines, of
mulberry-trees and fields of maize, in the midst of which rose the
belfries of an Italian town.

"This is Italy," she cried.

"But the Emperor's Italy," answered Wogan; and at half-past nine that
morning the carriage stopped in the public square of Trent. As Wogan
stepped onto the ground, he saw a cloud of dust at the opposite side of
the square, and wrapped in that cloud men on horseback like soldiers in
the smoke of battle; he heard, too, the sound of wheels. The Prince of
Baden had that instant driven away, and he had taken every procurable
horse in the town. Wogan's own horses could go no further. He came back
to the door of the carriage.

"I must search through Trent," said he, "on the mere chance of finding
what will serve us. Your Highness must wait in the inn;" and Clementina,
muffling her face, said to him, -

"I dare not. My face is known in Trent, though this is the first time
ever I saw it. But many gentlemen from Trent came to the Innspruck
carnival, and of these a good number were kind enough to offer me their
hearts. They were allowed to besiege me to their content. I must needs
remain in the shelter of the carriage."

Wogan left Misset to stand sentinel, and hurried off upon his business.
He ran from stable to stable, from inn to inn. The Prince of Baden had
hired thirty-six horses; six more were nowhere to be found. Wogan would
be content with four; he ended in a prayer for two. At each house the
door was shut in his face. Wogan was in despair; nowhere could delay be
so dangerous as at Trent, where there were soldiers, and a Governor who
would not hesitate to act without orders if he suspected the Princess
Clementina was escaping through his town. Two hours had passed in
Wogan's vain search, - two hours of daylight, during which Clementina had
sat in an unharnessed carriage in the market square. Wogan ran back to
the square, half expecting to find that she had been recognised and
arrested. As he reached the square, he saw that curious people were
loitering about the carriage; as he pushed through them, he heard them
questioning why travellers should on so hot a morning of spring sit
muffled up in a close, dark carriage when they could take their ease
beneath trees in the inn-garden. One man laughed out at the Princess and
the comical figure she made with her scarlet cloak drawn tight about her
face. Wogan himself had bought that cloak in Strasbourg to guard his
Princess from the cold of the Brenner, and guessed what discomfort its
ermine lining must now be costing her. And this lout dared to laugh and
make her, this incomparable woman, a butt for his ridicule! Wogan took a
step towards the fellow with his fists clenched, but thought the better
of his impulse, and turning away ran to the palace of Prince Taxis.

This desperate course alone remained to him; he must have speech with
the Prince-bishop himself. At the palace, however, he was informed that
the Prince was in bed with the gout. Mr. Wogan, however, insisted.

"You will present my duties to the Prince; you will show him my
passport; you will say that the Count of Cernes has business of the last
importance in Italy, and begs permission, since the Prince of Baden has
hired every post-horse in the town, to requisition half a dozen
farm-horses from the fields."

Mr. Wogan kicked his heels in the courtyard while the message was taken.
At any moment some rumour of the curious spectacle in the square might
be brought to the palace and excite inquiry. There might be another
courier in pursuit besides the man whom Gaydon kept a prisoner. Wogan
was devoured with a fever of impatience. It seemed to him hours before
the Prince's secretary returned to him. The secretary handed him back
his passport, and on the part of the Prince made a speech full of
civilities.

"Here's a great deal of jam, sir," said Wogan. "I misdoubt me but what
there's a most unpalatable pill hidden away in it."

"Indeed," said the secretary, "the Prince begs you to be content and to
wait for the post-horses to return."

"Ah, ah!" cried Wogan, "but that's the one thing I cannot do. I must
speak plainly, it appears." He drew the secretary out of ear-shot, and
resumed: "My particular business is to catch up the Prince of Baden. He
is summoned back to Innspruck. Do you understand?" he asked
significantly.

"Sir, we are well informed in Trent as to the Emperor's wishes," said
the secretary, with a great deal of dignity.

"No, no, my friend," said Wogan. "It is not by the Emperor the Prince of
Baden is summoned, though I have no doubt the summons is much to his


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Online LibraryA.E. W. MasonClementina → online text (page 13 of 20)