A.E. W. Mason.

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still striking he heard on the other side of the wall the brushing of
footsteps amongst leaves and grass. Wogan tapped gently on a little door
in the wall. It was opened no less gently, and Edgar the secretary
admitted him, led him across the garden and up a narrow flight of stairs
into a small lighted cabinet. Two men were waiting in that room. One of
them wore the scarlet robe, an old man with white hair and a broad
bucolic face, whom Wogan knew for the Pope's Legate, Cardinal Origo. The
slender figure of the other, clad all in black but for the blue ribbon
of the Garter across his breast, brought Wogan to his knee.

Wogan held out the Pope's procuration to the Chevalier, who took it and
devoutly kissed the signature. Then he gave his hand to Wogan with a
smile of friendliness.

"You have outsped your time by two days, Mr. Wogan. That is unwise,
since it may lead us to expect again the impossible of you. But here,
alas, your speed for once brings us no profit. You have heard, no doubt.
Her Highness the Princess Clementina is held at Innspruck in prison."

Wogan rose to his feet.

"Prisons, sir," he said quietly, "have been broken before to-day. I
myself was once put to that necessity." The words took the Chevalier
completely by surprise. He leaned back in his chair and stared at Wogan.

"An army could not rescue her," he said.

"No, but one man might."

"You?" he exclaimed. He pressed down the shade of the lamp to throw the
light fully upon Wogan's face. "It is impossible!"

"Then I beg your Majesty to expect the impossible again."

The Chevalier drew his hand across his eyes and stared afresh at Wogan.
The audacity of the exploit and the imperturbable manner of its proposal
caught his breath away. He rose from his chair and took a turn or two
across the room.

Wogan watched his every gesture. It would be difficult he knew to wring
the permission he needed from his dejected master, and his unruffled
demeanour was a calculated means of persuasion. An air of confidence was
the first requisite. In reality, however, Wogan was not troubled at this
moment by any thought of failure. It was not that he had any plan in his
head; but he was fired with a conviction that somehow this chosen woman
was not to be wasted, that some day, released by some means in spite of
all the pressure English Ministers could bring upon the Emperor, she
would come riding into Bologna.

The Chevalier paused in his walk and looked towards the Cardinal.

"What does your Eminence say?"

"That to the old the impulsiveness of youth is eternally charming," said
the Cardinal, with a foppish delicacy of speaking in an odd contrast to
his person.

Mr. Wogan understood that he had a second antagonist.

"I am not a youth, your Eminence," he exclaimed with all the indignation
of twenty-seven years. "I am a man."

"But an Irishman, and that spells youth. You write poetry too, I
believe, Mr. Wogan. It is a heady practice."

Wogan made no answer, though the words stung. An argument with the
Cardinal would be sure to ruin his chance of obtaining the Chevalier's
consent. He merely bowed to the Cardinal and waited for the Chevalier to
speak.

"Look you, Mr. Wogan; while the Emperor's at war with Spain, while
England's fleet could strip him of Sicily, he's England's henchman. He
dare not let the Princess go. We know it. General Heister, the Governor
of Innspruck, is under pain of death to hold her safe."

"But, sir, would the world stop if General Heister died?"

"A German scaffold if you fail."

"In the matter of scaffolds I have no leaning towards any one
nationality."

The Cardinal smiled. He liked a man of spirit, though he might think him
absurd. The Chevalier resumed his restless pacing to and fro.

"It is impossible."

But he seemed to utter the phrase with less decision this second time.
Wogan pressed his advantage at the expense of his modesty.

"Sir, will you allow me to tell you a story, - a story of an impossible
escape from Newgate in the heart of London by a man in fetters? There
were nine grenadiers with loaded muskets standing over him. There were
two courtyards to cross, two walls to climb, and beyond the walls the
unfriendly streets. The man hoodwinked his sentries, climbed his two
walls, crossed the unfriendly streets, and took refuge in a cellar,
where he was discovered. From the cellar in broad daylight he fought his
way to the roofs, and on the roofs he played such a game of
hide-and-seek among the chimney-tops - " Wogan broke off from his story
with a clear thrill of laughter; it was a laugh of enjoyment at a
pleasing recollection. Then he suddenly flung himself down on his knee
at the feet of his sovereign. "Give me leave, your Majesty," he cried
passionately. "Let me go upon this errand. If I fail, if the scaffold's
dressed for me, why where's the harm? Your Majesty loses one servant out
of his many. Whereas, if I win - " and he drew a long breath. "Aye, and I
shall win! There's the Princess, too, a prisoner. Sir, she has ventured
much. I beg you give me leave."

The Chevalier laid his hand gently upon Wogan's shoulder, but he did not
assent. He looked again doubtfully to the Cardinal, who said with his
pleasant smile, "I will wager Mr. Wogan a box at the Opera on the first
night that he returns, that he will return empty-handed."

Wogan rose to his feet and replied good-humouredly, "It's a wager I
take the more readily in that your Eminence cannot win, though you may
lose. For if I return empty-handed, upon my honour I'll not return at
all."

The Cardinal condescended to laugh. Mr. Wogan laughed too. He had good
reason, for here was his Eminence in a kindly temper and the Chevalier
warming out of his melancholy. And, indeed, while he was still laughing
the Chevalier caught him by the arm as a friend might do, and in an
outburst of confidence, very rare with him, he said, "I would that I
could laugh so. You and Whittington, I do envy you. An honest laugh,
there's the purge for melancholy. But I cannot compass it," and he
turned away.

"Sure, sir, you'll put us all to shame when I bring her Royal Highness
out of Innspruck."

"Oh, that!" said the Chevalier, as though for the moment he had
forgotten. "It is impossible," and the phrase was spoken now in an
accent of hesitation. Moreover, he sat down at a table, and drawing a
sheet of paper written over with memoranda, he began to read aloud with
a glance towards Wogan at the end of each sentence.

"The house stands in the _faubourgs_ of Innspruck. There is an avenue of
trees in front of the house; on the opposite side of the avenue there is
a tavern with the sign of 'The White Chamois.'"

Wogan committed the words to memory.

"The Princess and her mother," continued the Chevalier, "are imprisoned
in the east side of the house."

"And how guarded, sir?" asked Wogan.

The Chevalier read again from his paper.

"A sentry at each door, a third beneath the prisoners' windows. They
keep watch night and day. Besides, twice a day the magistrate visits the
house."

"At what hours?"

"At ten in the morning. The same hour at night."

"And on each visit the magistrate sees the Princess?"

"Yes, though she lies abed."

Wogan stroked his chin. The Cardinal regarded him quizzically.

"I trust, Mr. Wogan, that we shall hear Farini. There is talk of his
coming to Bologna."

Wogan did not answer. He was silent; he saw the three sentinels standing
watchfully about the house; he heard them calling "All's well" each to
the other. Then he asked, "Has the Princess her own servants to attend
her?"

"Only M. Chateaudoux, her chamberlain."

"Ah!"

Wogan leaned forward with a question on his tongue he hardly dared to
ask. So much hung upon the answer.

"And M. Chateaudoux is allowed to come and go?"

"In the daylight."

Wogan turned to the Cardinal. "The box will be the best box in the
house," Wogan suggested.

"Oh, sir," replied the Cardinal, "on the first tier, to be sure."

Wogan turned back to the Chevalier.

"All that I need now is a letter from your Majesty to the King of Poland
and a few rascally guineas. I can leave Bologna before a soul's astir in
the morning. No one but Whittington saw me to-day, and a word will keep
him silent. There will be secrecy - " but the Chevalier suddenly cut him
short.

"No," said he, bringing the palm of his hand down upon the table.
"Here's a blow that we must bend to! It's a dream, this plan of yours."

"But a dream I'll dream so hard, sir, that I'll dream it true," cried
Wogan, in despair.

"No, no," said the Chevalier. "We'll talk no more of it. There's God's
will evident in this arrest, and we must bend to it;" and at once Wogan
remembered his one crowning argument. It was so familiar to his
thoughts, it had lain so close at his heart, that he had left it
unspoken, taking it as it were for granted that others were as familiar
with it as he.

"Sir," said he, eagerly, "I have never told you, but the Princess
Clementina when a child amongst her playmates had a favourite game. They
called it kings and queens. And in that game the Princess was always
chosen Queen of England."

The Chevalier started.

"Is that so?" and he gazed into Wogan's eyes, making sure that he spoke
the truth.

"In very truth it is," and the two men stood looking each at the other
and quite silent.

It was the truth, a mere coincidence if you will, but to both these men
omens and auguries were the gravest matters.

"There indeed is God's finger pointing," cried Wogan. "Sir, give me
leave to follow it."

The Chevalier still stood looking at him in silence. Then he said
suddenly, "Go, then, and God speed you! You are a gallant gentleman."

He sat down thereupon and wrote a letter to the King of Poland, asking
him to entrust the rescue of his daughter into Wogan's hands. This
letter Wogan took and money for his journey.

"You will have preparations to make," said the Chevalier. "I will not
keep you. You have horses?"

Mr. Wogan had two in a stable at Bologna. "But," he added, "there is a
horse I left this morning six miles this side of Fiesole, a black horse,
and I would not lose it."

"Nor shall you," said the Chevalier.

Wogan crept back to his lodging as cautiously as he had left it. There
was no light in any window but in his own, where his servant, Marnier,
awaited him. Wogan opened the door softly and found the porter asleep in
his chair. He stole upstairs and made his preparations. These, however,
were of the simplest kind, and consisted of half-a-dozen orders to
Marnier and the getting into bed. In the morning he woke before daybreak
and found Marnier already up. They went silently out of the house as
the dawn was breaking. Marnier had the key to the stables, and they
saddled the two horses and rode through the blind and silent streets
with their faces muffled in their cloaks.

They met no one, however, until they were come to the outskirts of the
town. But then as they passed the mouth of an alley a man came suddenly
out and as suddenly drew back. The morning was chill, and the man was
closely wrapped.

Wogan could not distinguish his face or person, and looking down the
alley he saw at the end of it only a garden wall, and over the top of
the wall a thicket of trees and the chimney-tops of a low house
embosomed amongst them. He rode on, secure in the secrecy of his
desperate adventure. But that same morning Mr. Whittington paid a visit
to Wogan's lodging and asked to be admitted. He was told that Mr. Wogan
had not yet returned to Bologna.

"So, indeed, I thought," said he; and he sauntered carelessly along, not
to his own house, but to one smaller, situated at the bottom of a
_cul-de-sac_ and secluded amongst trees. At the door he asked whether
her Ladyship was yet visible, and was at once shown into a room with
long windows which stood open to the garden. Her Ladyship lay upon a
sofa sipping her coffee and teasing a spaniel with the toe of her
slipper.

"You are early," she said with some surprise.

"And yet no earlier than your Ladyship," said Whittington.

"I have to make my obeisance to my King," said she, stifling a yawn.
"Could one, I ask you, sleep on so important a day?"

Mr. Whittington laughed genially. Then he opened the door and glanced
along the passage. When he turned back into the room her Ladyship had
kicked the spaniel from the sofa and was sitting bolt upright with all
her languor gone.

"Well?" she asked quickly.

Whittington took a seat on the sofa by her side.

"Charles Wogan left Bologna at daybreak. Moreover, I have had a message
from the Chevalier bidding me not to mention that I saw him in Bologna
yesterday. One could hazard a guess at the goal of so secret a journey."

"Ohlau!" exclaimed the lady, in a whisper. Then she nestled back upon
the sofa and bit the fragment of lace she called her handkerchief.

"So there's an end of Mr. Wogan," she said pleasantly.

Whittington made no answer.

"For there's no chance that he'll succeed," she continued with a touch
of anxiety in her voice.

Whittington neither agreed nor contradicted. He asked a question
instead.

"What is the sharpest spur a man can know? What is it that gives a man
audacity to attempt and wit to accomplish the impossible?"

The lady smiled.

"The poets tell us love," said she, demurely.

Whittington nodded his head.

"Wogan speaks very warmly of the Princess Clementina."

Her Ladyship's red lips lost their curve. Her eyes became thoughtful,
apprehensive.

"I wonder," she said slowly.

"Yes, I too wonder," said Whittington.

Outside the branches of the trees rustled in the wind and flung shadows,
swift as ripples, across the sunlit grass. But within the little room
there was a long silence.




CHAPTER IV


M. Chateaudoux, the chamberlain, was a little portly person with a
round, red face like a cherub's. He was a creature of the house, one
that walked with delicate steps, a conductor of ceremonies, an expert in
the subtleties of etiquette; and once he held his wand of office in his
hand, there was nowhere to be found a being so precise and
consequential. But out of doors he had the timidity of a cat. He lived,
however, by rule and rote, and since it had always been his habit to
take the air between three and four of the afternoon, he was to be seen
between those hours at Innspruck on any fine day mincing along the
avenue of trees before the villa in which his mistress was held
prisoner.

On one afternoon during the month of October he passed a hawker, who,
tired with his day's tramp, was resting on a bench in the avenue, and
who carried upon his arm a half-empty basket of cheap wares. The man was
ragged; his toes were thrusting through his shoes; it was evident that
he wore no linen, and a week's growth of beard dirtily stubbled his
chin, - in a word, he was a man from whom M. Chateaudoux's prim soul
positively shrank. M. Chateaudoux went quickly by, fearing to be
pestered for alms. The hawker, however, remained seated upon the bench,
drawing idle patterns upon the gravel with a hazel stick stolen from a
hedgerow.

The next afternoon the hawker was in the avenue again, only this time on
a bench at the opposite end; and again he paid no heed to M.
Chateaudoux, but sat moodily scraping the gravel with his stick.

On the third afternoon M. Chateaudoux found the hawker seated in the
middle of the avenue and over against the door of the guarded villa. M.
Chateaudoux, when his timidity slept, was capable of good nature. There
was a soldier with a loaded musket in full view. The hawker, besides,
had not pestered him. He determined to buy some small thing, - a mirror,
perhaps, which was always useful, - and he approached the hawker, who for
his part wearily flicked the gravel with his stick and drew a curve here
and a line there until, as M. Chateaudoux stopped before the bench,
there lay sketched at his feet the rude semblance of a crown. The stick
swept over it the next instant and left the gravel smooth.

But M. Chateaudoux had seen, and his heart fluttered and sank. For here
were plots, possibly dangers, most certainly trepidations. He turned his
back as though he had seen nothing, and constraining himself to a slow
pace walked towards the door of the villa. But the hawker was now at his
side, whining in execrable German and a strong French accent the
remarkable value of his wares. There were samplers most exquisitely
worked, jewels for the most noble gentleman's honoured sweetheart, and
purses which emperors would give a deal to buy. Chateaudoux was urged to
take notice that emperors would give sums to lay a hand on the hawker's
purses.

M. Chateaudoux pretended not to hear.

"I want nothing," he said, "nothing in the world;" and he repeated the
statement in order to drown the other's voice.

"A purse, good gentleman," persisted the hawker, and he dangled one
before Chateaudoux's eyes. Not for anything would Chateaudoux take that
purse.

"Go away," he cried; "I have a sufficiency of purses, and I will not be
plagued by you."

They were now at the steps of the villa, and the sentry, lifting the
butt of his musket, roughly thrust the hawker back.

"What have you there? Bring your basket here," said he; and to
Chateaudoux's consternation the hawker immediately offered the purse to
the sentinel.

"It is only the poor who have kind hearts," he said; "here's the proper
purse for a soldier. It is so hard to get the money out that a man is
saved an ocean of drink."

The hawker's readiness destroyed any suspicions the sentinel may have
felt.

"Go away," he said, "quick!"

"You will buy the purse?"

The sentinel raised his musket again.

"Then the kind gentleman will," said the hawker, and he thrust the purse
into M. Chateaudoux's reluctant hand. Chateaudoux could feel within the
purse a folded paper. He was committed now without a doubt, and in an
extreme alarm he flung a coin into the roadway and got him into the
house. The sentinel carelessly dropped the butt of his musket on the
coin.

"Go," said he, and with a sudden kick he lifted the hawker half across
the road. The hawker happened to be Charles Wogan, who took a little
matter like that with the necessary philosophy. He picked himself up and
limped off.

Now the next day a remarkable thing happened. M. Chateaudoux swerved
from the regularity of his habits. He walked along the avenue, it is
true; but at the end of it he tripped down a street and turned out of
that into another which brought him to the arcades. He did not appear to
enjoy his walk; indeed, any hurrying footsteps behind startled him
exceedingly and made his face turn white and red, and his body hot and
cold. However, he proceeded along the arcades to the cathedral, which he
entered; and just as the clock struck half-past three, in a dark corner
opposite to the third of the great statues he drew his handkerchief from
his pocket.

The handkerchief flipped out a letter which fell onto the ground. In the
gloom it was barely visible; and M. Chateaudoux walked on, apparently
unconscious of his loss. But a comfortable citizen in a snuff-coloured
suit picked it up and walked straight out of the cathedral to the Golden
Fleece Inn in the Hochstrasse, where he lodged. He went up into his room
and examined the letter. It was superscribed "To M. Chateaudoux," and
the seal was broken. Nevertheless, the finder did not scruple to read
it. It was a love-letter to the little gentleman from one Friederika.

"I am heart-broken," wrote Friederika, "but my fidelity to my
Chateaudoux has not faltered, nor will not, whatever I may be called
upon to endure. I cannot, however, be so undutiful as to accept my
Chateaudoux's addresses without my father's consent; and my mother, who
is of the same mind with me, insists that even with that consent a
runaway marriage is not to be thought of unless my Chateaudoux can
provide me with a suitable woman for an attendant."

These conditions fulfilled, Friederika was willing to follow her
Chateaudoux to the world's end. The comfortable citizen in the
snuff-coloured suit sat for some while over that letter with a strange
light upon his face and a smile of great happiness. The comfortable
citizen was Charles Wogan, and he could dissociate the obstructions of
the mother from the willingness of the girl.

The October evening wove its veils from the mountain crests across the
valleys; the sun and the daylight had gone from the room before Wogan
tore that letter up and wrote another to the Chevalier at Bologna,
telling him that the Princess Clementina would venture herself gladly if
he could secure the consent of Prince Sobieski, her father. And the next
morning he drove out in a carriage towards Ohlau in Silesia.

It was as the Chevalier Warner that he had first journeyed thither to
solicit for his King the Princess Clementina's hand. Consequently he
used the name again. Winter came upon him as he went; the snow gathered
thick upon the hills and crept down into the valleys, encumbering his
path. The cold nipped his bones; he drove beneath great clouds and
through a stinging air, but of these discomforts he was not sensible.
For the mission he was set upon filled his thoughts and ran like a fever
in his blood. He lay awake at nights inventing schemes of evasion, and
each morning showed a flaw, and the schemes crumbled. Not that his faith
faltered. At some one moment he felt sure the perfect plan, swift and
secret, would be revealed to him, and he lived to seize the moment. The
people with whom he spoke became as shadows; the inns where he rested
were confused into a common semblance. He was like a man in a trance,
seeing ever before his eyes the guarded villa at Innspruck, and behind
the walls, patient and watchful, the face of the chosen woman; so that
it was almost with surprise that he looked down one afternoon from the
brim of a pass in the hills and saw beneath him, hooded with snow, the
roofs and towers of Ohlau.

At Ohlau Wogan came to the end of his luck. From the moment when he
presented his letter he was aware of it. The Prince was broken by his
humiliation and the sufferings of his wife and daughter. He was even
inclined to resent them at the expense of the Chevalier, for in his
welcome to Wogan there was a measure of embarrassment. His shoulders,
which had before been erect, now stooped, his eyes were veiled, the fire
had burnt out in him; he was an old man visibly ageing to his grave. He
read the letter and re-read it.

"No," said he, impatiently; "I must now think of my daughter. Her
dignity and her birth forbid that she should run like a criminal in fear
of capture, and at the peril very likely of her life, to a king who,
after all, is as yet without a crown." And then seeing Wogan flush at
the words, he softened them. "I frankly say to you, Mr. Warner, that I
know no one to whom I would sooner entrust my daughter than yourself,
were I persuaded to this project. But it is doomed to fail. It would
make us the laughing-stock of Europe, and I ask you to forget it. Do you
fancy the Emperor guards my daughter so ill that you, single-handed, can
take her from beneath his hand?"

"Your Highness, I shall choose some tried friends to help me."

"There is no single chance of success. I ask you to forget it and to
pass your Christmas here as my very good friend. The sight is longer in
age, Mr. Warner, than in youth, and I see far enough now to know that
the days of Don Quixote are dead. Here is a matter where all Europe is
ranged and alert on one side or the other. You cannot practise secrecy.
At Ohlau your face is known, your incognito too. Mr. Warner came to
Ohlau once before, and the business on which he came is common
knowledge. The motive of your visit now, which I tell you openly is very
grateful to me, will surely be suspected."

Wogan had reason that night to acknowledge the justice of the Prince's
argument. He accepted his hospitality, thinking that with time he would
persuade him to allow the attempt; and after supper, while making
riddles in verse to amuse some of the ladies of the court, one of them,
the Countess of Berg, came forward from a corner where she had been busy
with pencil and paper and said, "It is our turn now. Here, Mr. Warner,
is an acrostic which I ask you to solve for me." And with a smile which
held a spice of malice she handed him the paper. Upon it there were ten
rhymed couplets. Wogan solved the first four, and found that the initial
letters of the words were C, L, E, M. The answer to the acrostic was
"Clementina." Wogan gave the paper back.

"I can make neither head nor tail of it," said he. "The attempt is


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