We marched with forty thousand men, and laid siege to the city of Granson, in the district of Vaud. The Swiss sent ambassadors under a flag of truce, begging Charles to spare them, and saying, according to my friend Comines, that "there were among them no good prisoners to make, and that the spurs and horses' bits of the duke's army were worth more money than all the people of Switzerland could pay in ransoms, even if they were taken." Charles rejected all overtures, and on the third of March the brave little Swiss army sallied against us, "heralding their advances by the lowings of the Bull of Uri and the Cow of Unterwalden, two enormous instruments which had been given to their ancestors by Charlemagne."
God was against Charles of Burgundy, and his army was utterly routed by one of less than a fourth its size. I was with Charles after the battle, and his humiliation was more pitiful than his bursts of ungovernable wrath were disgusting. The king of France, hoping for this disaster, was near by at Lyons.
A cruel man is always despicable in misfortune. Charles at once sent to King Louis a conciliatory, fawning letter, recanting all that he had said in his last missive from Peronne, and expressing the hope that His Majesty would adhere to the treaty and would consent to the marriage of Princess Mary and the Dauphin at once. In this letter Yolanda had no opportunity to insert a disturbing "t." Louis answered graciously, saying that the treaty should be observed, and that the marriage should take place immediately upon the duke's return to Burgundy.
"We have already forwarded instructions to Paris," wrote King Louis, "directing that preparations be made at once for the celebration of this most desired union at the holy church of St. Denis. We wondered much at Your Grace's first missive, in which you so peremptorily desired us not to move in this matter till your return; and we wondered more at Your Lordship's ungracious reply to our answer in which we consented to the delay Your Grace had asked."
Well might King Louis wonder. Charles also wondered, and cursed the stupidity of the Bishop of Cambrai, who had so "encumbered his letter with senseless courtesy as to distort its meaning."
Charles despatched letters to Peronne and Ghent, ordering immediate preparations for the marriage. As usual, poor Mary was not considered of sufficient importance to receive notice of the event that concerned her so vitally. Others would prepare her, as one might fatten a lamb for slaughter. The lamb need not be consulted or even informed; the day of its fate would be sufficient for it. I was in despair. Max, in his ignorance, was indifferent.
After a short delay, the duke gathered his wrath and his army and laid siege to the town of Morat, announcing his intention to give no quarter, but to kill all, old and young, men, women, and children. The Swiss were prepared for us. "The energy of pride was going to be pitted against the energy of patriotism." Again disaster fell upon Charles. Thousands of his army were slain, and thousands fled in hopeless rout. His soldiers had never wanted to fight, and one man defending his hearth is stronger than half a score attacking it.
The loss of this battle drove Charles back to Burgundy. With a few of his train, including Max and myself, he retired to the Castle of La Riviera. Here he learned that Rene, Duke of Lorraine, had mustered his forces and had laid siege to Nancy, which city Charles had taken from Duke Rene, some years before, and had garrisoned with Burgundians and English. Upon hearing this unwelcome news, Charles began the arduous task of collecting another army. He was compelled to leave the neighborhood of Switzerland and fly to the rescue of Nancy.
The first of January found us before Nancy, but our arrival was three days too late. The city had capitulated to Duke Rene. On the fifth of January a battle was fought before Nancy, but Fortune had turned her back for all and all on this cruel Duke of Burgundy and Count of Charolois. The disasters at Granson and Morat were repeated. At nightfall Charles could not be found. I supposed that he had escaped, but the next morning his body was found by a washerwoman, frozen in the ice of a pond. He had been killed through the machinations of Campo-Basso. Duke Rene magnanimously gave Charles regal burial, and dismissed his followers without ransom. You may be sure I was eager to return to Peronne.
Fortune, in turning her back upon Charles, had turned her smiling face toward Max. Her ladyship's smiles were too precious to be wasted, so we made post-haste for Peronne, I spurred by one motive, Mary of Burgundy, Max by another—Yolanda. His heart had grieved for her in castle, in camp, and in din of battle. He had, unknown to me, formed a great and noble resolution; and there was no horse swift enough to keep pace with his desire when we started for Peronne.
I was the first to announce the duke's death. The dark news was given by me to the duchess and the princess in Margaret's parlor. These poor women tried to grieve, but they were not hypocrites, and they could not weep. Each had received at Charles's hands only ill-usage and cruelty, and in their hearts they must have felt relief at his death.
"It was sure to come," said Margaret. "The duke's bravery led him always into danger. It is God's will, and it must be right."
The princess walked to the window, and said nothing, until I was about to leave; then she turned to me nervously and asked:—
"Did—did Sir Max come with you?"
I looked at her in surprise, and glanced inquiringly toward the duchess.
"My mother knows all, Sir Karl," said the princess, reassuringly. "There have been many things which I could not have done without her help. I have made many rapid changes, Sir Karl, from a princess to a burgher girl, and back again, and I should have failed without my mother's help. I surely mystified you often before you knew of the stairway in the wall. Indeed, I have often hurried breathless to Uncle Castleman's house to deceive you. Mother invented a burgher girl's costume that I used to wear as an under-bodice and petticoat, so, you see, I have been visiting you in my petticoats. I will show you some fine day—perhaps. I have but to unfasten a half-score of hooks, and off drops the princess—I am Yolanda! I throw a skirt over my head, fasten the hooks of a bodice, don my head-dress, and behold! the princess once more. Only a moment intervenes between happiness and wretchedness. But tell me, Sir Karl, have you ever told Sir Max who I am?"
"Never, Your Highness—"
"Yolanda," she interrupted, correcting me smilingly.
"Never, Yolanda," I responded. "He does not even suspect that you are the princess. I shall be true to you. You know what you are doing."
"Indeed I do, Sir Karl," she replied. "I shall win or lose now in a short time and in short skirts. If Max will wed me as Yolanda, I shall be the happiest girl on earth. If not, I shall be the most wretched. If he learns that I am the princess, and if I must offer him the additional inducement of my estates and my domains to bring him to me, I shall not see him again, Sir Karl, if I die of grief for it."
I knew well what she meant, but I did not believe that she would be able to hold to her resolution if she were put to the test. I was, however, mistaken. With all my knowledge of the girl I did not know her strength.
We reached Peronne during the afternoon and, of course, went early the same evening to Castleman's.
We were greeted heartily by the good burgher, his wife, and his daughter. Twonette courtesied to Max, but when she came to me, this serene young goddess of pink and white offered me her cheek to kiss. I, who had passed my quasi-priestly life without once enjoying such a luxury, touched the velvet cheek with my lips and actually felt a thrill of delight. Life among the burghers really was delicious. I tell you this as a marked illustration of the fact that a man never grows too old to be at times a fool. Twonette slipped from the room, and within fifteen minutes returned. She went directly to Max and said:—
"Some one is waiting for you in the oak room above."
She pointed the way, and Max climbed the stairs two steps at a time. I thought from his eagerness he would clear the entire flight at one bound. To his knock a soft voice bade him enter. The owner of the voice was sitting demurely at the farthest end of the room on a cushioned bench. Her back rested against the moving panel that led to the stairway in the wall. She did not move when Max entered. She had done all the moving she intended to do, and Max must now act for himself. He did. He ran down the long room to her, crying:—
She rose to greet him, and he, taking her in his arms, covered her face with kisses. The unconscious violence of his great strength bruised and hurt her, but she gloried in the pain, and was passive as a babe in his arms. When they were seated and half calm, she clutched one of his great fingers and said:—
"You kept your word, Little Max. You came back to me."
"Did you not know that I would come?" he asked.
"Ah, indeed, I knew—you are not one that makes a promise to break it. Sometimes it is difficult to induce such a man to give his word, and I found it so, but once given it is worth having—worth having, Little Max."
She smiled up into his face while she spoke, as if to say, "You gave me a deal of trouble, but at last I have captured you."
"Did you so greatly desire the promise, Yolanda?" asked Max, solely for the pleasure of hearing her answer.
"Yes," she answered softly, hanging her head, "more than any man, can know. It must be an intense longing that will drive a modest girl to boldness, such as I have shown ever since the day I first met you at dear old Basel. It almost broke my heart when father—fatherland—when Burgundy made war on Switzerland." The word "land" was a lucky thought, and came to the girl just in the nick of time.
Max was too much interested in the girl to pay close attention to any slips she might make about the war with Switzerland. It is true he was now a soldier, and war was all right in its place; but there are things in life compared with which the wars of nations are trivial affairs. All subjects save one were unwelcome to him.
"Now I am going to ask a promise from you, Fraeulein," said Max, loosening his hand from her grasp and placing his arm about her waist. She offered no objections to the new situation, but blushed and looked down demurely to her folded hands.
"It will, I fear, be very easy for you, Max, to induce me to promise anything you wish. It will be all too easy, for I am not strong, as you are." She glanced into his face, but her eyes fell quickly to her hands.
"I shall soon leave you again, Fraeulein, and what I wish is of such moment that I—I almost fear to ask."
"Yes, Max," she murmured, gently reaching across his knee, and placing her hand in his by way of encouragement.
"It is this, Fraeulein. I am going back to Styria, and I want to carry with me your promise to be my wife," said Max, softly.
The girl's head fell over against his shoulder, and she clasped his free hand between both of hers.
"I will ask my father's consent," said Max. "I will tell him of you and of my great love, which is so great, Fraeulein, that all the world is nothing beside it and beside you, and he will grant my request."
"But if he doesn't, Max?" asked the face hidden upon his breast.
"If he does not, Fraeulein, I will forego my country and my estates. I will come back to you and will work in the fields, if need be, to make you as happy as you will make me."
"There will be no need for that, Max," she answered, tears of happiness slowly trickling down her cheeks, "for I am rich."
"That I am sorry to hear," he responded.
"Don't you want to know who I am before you wed me?" she asked, after a long pause. She had almost made up her mind to tell him.
"That you may tell me when you are my wife," said Max. "I thought you were the Princess Mary, but I am almost glad that you are not. I soon knew that I was wrong, for I knew that you would not deceive me."
The girl winced and concluded to postpone telling her momentous secret. She was now afraid to do so. As a matter of fact, she had in her heart a healthy little touch of womanly cowardice on small occasions. After a long, delicious pause, Max said:—
"Have I your promise, Fraeulein?"
"Y-e-s," she answered hesitatingly, "I will be your wife if—if I can, and if you will take me when you learn who I am. There is no taint of disgrace about me, Max," she added quickly, in response to the look of surprise on his face. "But I am not worthy of you, and I fear that if your father but knew my unworthiness, he would refuse his consent to our marriage. You must not tell him of my boldness. I will tell you all about myself before you leave for Styria, and then, if you do not want me, you may leave me to—to die."
"I shall want you, Yolanda. I shall want you. Have no doubt of that," he answered.
"With the assurance that there is no stain or taint upon me or my family, do you give me your word, Max, that you will want me and will take me, whoever I am, and will not by word or gesture show me that you are angry or that you regret your promise?"
"I gladly give you that promise," answered Max.
"Did you ever tell a lie, Little Max?" she asked banteringly, "or did you ever deliberately break a promise?"
"Did I ever steal or commit wilful murder?" asked Max, withdrawing his arm.
"No, Max; now put it back again," she said.
After a long pause she continued:—
"I have lied."
Max laughed and drew her to him.
"Your lies will harm no one," he said joyously.
"No," she responded, "I only lie that good may come of it."
Then silence fell upon the world—their world. Was not that hour with Max worth all the pains that Yolanda had taken to deceive him?
Yolanda and Max came down to the long room, and she, too, gave me her cheek to kiss.
Twonette had prepared a great tankard of wine and honey, with pepper and allspice to suit Yolanda's taste, and we all sat before the great blazing yule fire, as joyful and content as any six people in Christendom. Twonette and Yolanda together occupied one large chair; Twonette serenely allowing herself to be caressed by Yolanda, who was in a state of mind that compelled her to caress some one. Gentle Frau Kate was sleeping in a great easy chair near the chimney-corner. Max sat at one side of the table,—the side nearest Yolanda,—while Castleman and I sat by each other within easy reach of the wine. I knew without the telling, all that had occurred upstairs, and the same light seemed to have fallen upon the Castlemans. Good old George was in high spirits, and I could see in his eye that he intended to get drunk and, if possible, to bring me, also, to that happy condition. After many goblets of wine, he remarked:—
"The king of France will probably be upon us within a fortnight after he hears the sad news from Nancy."
Yolanda immediately sat upright in her chair, abandoning Twonette's soft hand and softer cheek.
"Why do you believe so, uncle?" she asked nervously.
"Because he has waited all his life for this untoward event to happen."
"Preparations should be made to receive him," said Yolanda.
"Ah, yes," replied Castleman, "but Burgundy's army is scattered to the four winds. It has given its blood for causes in which its heart was not. We lack the strong arm of the duke, to force men to battle against their will. King Louis must be fought by policy, not by armies; and Hymbercourt is absent."
"Do you know aught of him, Sir Karl?" asked Yolanda.
"I do not, Fraeulein," I answered, "save that he was alive and well when we left Nancy."
"That, at least, is good news," she replied, "and I make sure he will soon come to Burgundy's help."
"I am sure he is now on his way," I answered.
"What can Burgundy do?" she asked, turning to Castleman and me. "You will each advise—advise the princess, I hope."
"If she wishes my poor advice," I responded, "she has but to ask it."
"And mine," said Castleman, tipping his goblet over his nose.
"If we are to have clear heads to-morrow," I suggested, "we must drink no more wine to-night. The counsel of wine is the advice of the devil."
"Right you are, Sir Karl. Only one more goblet. Here's to the health of the bride to be," said Castleman.
Yolanda leaned back in her chair beside Twonette, and her face wore a curious combination of smile and pout.
On the way to the inn, Max, who was of course very happy, told me what had happened in the oak room and added:—
"I look to you, Karl, to help me with father."
"That I will certainly do," I answered. I could not resist saying: "We came to Burgundy with the hope of winning the princess. Fortune has opened a door for you by the death of her father. Don't you wish to try?"
"No," said Max, turning on me. A moment later he added, "If Yolanda were but the princess, as I once believed she was, what a romance our journey to Burgundy would make!"
My spirits were somewhat dampened by Castleman's words concerning the French king. Surely they were true, since King Louis was the last man in Europe to forego the opportunity presented by the death of Charles. Should the Princess Mary lose Burgundy just at the time when Max had won her, my disappointment would indeed be great, and Max might truly need my help with his father.
A TREATY WITH LOUIS XI
The next day Castleman and I were called to the castle, and talked over the situation with the duchess and the Princess Mary. In the midst of our council, in walked Hymbercourt and Hugonet. They were devoted friends of Mary.
Our first move was to send spies to the court of France; so two trusted men started at once. Paris was but thirty leagues distant, and the men could reach it in fifteen hours. Half a day there should enable them to learn the true condition of affairs, since they carried well-filled purses to loosen the tongues of Cardinal Balau and Oliver the Barber. The bribery plan was Mary's, and it worked admirably.
Within forty-eight hours the spies returned, and reported that King Louis, with a small army, was within fifteen leagues of Peronne. He had quickly assembled the three estates at Paris, all of whom promised the king their aid. In the language of the chancellor, "The commons offered to help their king with their bodies and their wealth, the nobles with their advice, and the clergy with their prayers." This appalling news set Peronne in an uproar.
Recruiting officers were sent out in all directions, the town was garrisoned, and fortifications were overhauled. Mary was again in trouble, and the momentous affairs resting on her young shoulders seemed to have put Max out of her mind. I expected her to call him into council and reveal herself, but she did not.
On the day after we learned of King Louis' approach, the princess called Hymbercourt, Hugonet, Castleman, and myself to her closet and graciously asked us to be seated about a small table.
"I have formed a plan that I wish to submit to you," she said. "I'll send to King Louis an invitation to visit me here at Peronne, under safeguard. When he comes, I intend to offer to restore all the cities that my father took from him, if he will release me from the treaty of marriage, and will swear upon the Cross of Victory to support me against my enemies, and to assist me in subduing Ghent, now in rebellion. What think you of the plan?"
"Your Highness is giving King Louis nearly half your domain," suggested Hymbercourt.
"True," answered the princess, "but it is better to give half than to lose all. Where can we turn for help against this greedy king? When Burgundy is in better case, we'll take them all from him again."
"Your Highness is right," answered Hymbercourt. "But what assurance have you that King Louis will accept your terms?"
"Little, my lord, save that King Louis does not know our weakness. Oliver has by this time told him that he has news of a vast army collecting within twenty leagues of Peronne. If Louis accepts our terms, Oliver and the cardinal are each to receive twenty thousand crowns out of our treasury at Luxembourg. My father fought King Louis with blows; I'll fight His Majesty with his own weapon, gold. That is the lesson my father should have learned."
I rose to my feet during her recital and looked down at her in wonder.
"Yolanda"—I began, but corrected myself—"Your Highness needs no councillor. I, for one, deem your plan most wise, and I see in it the salvation of Burgundy."
The other councillors agreed with me most heartily.
"I have still another plan which I hope may frighten King Louis into accepting our terms. During the conference which I hope to hold with His Majesty, I shall receive a message from my mother's brother, King Edward of England. The missive, of course, will be directed to my father, since the English king cannot yet know of the duke's death. The messenger will be an English herald, and will demand immediate audience, and—and—however, I'll keep the remainder of that plan to myself."
A broad smile appeared on the faces of all present. Hugonet gazed at the princess and laughed outright.
"Why did not your father take you into his council?" he asked.
"I should have been no help to him," she responded. "A woman's wits, dear Hugonet, must be driven by a great motive."
"But you would have had the motive," answered Hugonet.
"There is but one motive for a woman, my lord," she answered.
Hugonet unceremoniously whistled his astonishment, and Yolanda blushed as she said:—
"You shall soon know."
Mary's plan for an interview with Louis succeeded perfectly. He came post-haste under safe conduct to Peronne.
Whatever may be said against Louis, he did not know personal fear. He had a wholesome dread of sacrificing the lives of his people, and preferred to satisfy his greed by policy rather than by war. Gold, rather than blood, was the price he paid for his victories. Taken all in all, he was the greatest king that France ever had—if one may judge a king by the double standard of what he accomplishes and what it costs his people. He almost doubled the territory of France, and he lost fewer men in battle than any enterprising monarch of whom I know.
Within forty-eight hours of receiving the safe conduct, King Louis was sitting beside Mary on the dais of the ducal throne in the great hall. She was heavily veiled, being in mourning for her father. At her left stood Hymbercourt, Hugonet, Max, and myself. At the king's right stood Cardinal Balau and Oliver the Barber, each anticipating a rich reward in case Louis should accept Mary's terms. Back of them stood a score of the king's courtiers. Many questions of state were discussed; and then Hymbercourt presented Mary's offer to King Louis. The king hesitated. After a long pause he spoke, looking straight ahead, at nothing; as was his custom.
"We will consult with our friends and make answer soon," he said, speaking to nobody.
Louis seemed to think that if he looked at no one and addressed nobody, when he spoke, he might the more easily wriggle out of his obligations later on.
Mary had caused to be drawn up in duplicate a treaty in accordance with the terms that she had outlined at our little council. It was handed to Oliver when the king rose to retire to a private room, to discuss the contents with his councillors.
At the moment when King Louis rose to his feet, a herald was announced at the great hall door.
"A message from His Majesty, King Edward of England," cried the Burgundian herald. Louis resumed his seat as though his feet had slipped from under him.
"We are engaged," answered Mary, acting well a difficult part. "Let the herald leave his packet, or deliver it later."
A whispered conversation took place between the Burgundian herald and the Englishman. Then spoke the Burgundian:—
"Most Gracious Princess, the English herald has no packet. He bears a verbal message to your late father, and insists that he must deliver it to Your Highness at once."
"Must, indeed!" cried Mary, indignantly. Then turning to the king: "These English grow arrogant, Your Majesty. What has the herald to say? Let him come forward. We have no secrets from our most gracious godfather, King Louis."
The English herald approached the ducal throne, but did not speak.
"Proceed," said Mary, irritably.
"With all deference, Most Gracious Princess," said the herald, "the subject-matter of my message is such that it should be communicated privately, or at Your Highness's council-board."
"If you have a message from my good uncle, King Edward, deliver it here and now," said the princess.
"As you will, Most Gracious Princess," said the herald. "King Edward has amassed a mighty army, which is now awaiting orders to sail for France; and His Majesty asks permission to cross the territory of Burgundy on his way to Paris. He will pay to Your Highness such compensation as may be agreed upon when His Majesty meets you, which he hopes may be within a month. His Majesty begs a written reply to the message I bear."
Mary paused before she answered.
"Wait without. My answer depends upon the conclusions of His Majesty, the King of France."
The herald withdrew, but in the meantime Louis had descended to the floor and was busily conning the treaty that Mary had caused to be written. He was whispering with Cardinal Balau and Oliver, and was evidently excited by the news he had just heard from England. When he resumed his seat beside Mary, he said:—
"By this treaty, which is simple and straightforward, Your Highness cedes to me certain cities herein named, in perpetuity; and in consideration thereof, I am to be with you friend of friend and foe of foe. I am to aid you in subduing your rebellious subjects, and to sustain you in your choice of a husband. I am also to release you from the present contract of marriage with my son, the Dauphin."
"That is all, Your Majesty," said the princess. "It is short and to the point."
"Indeed it is, Your Highness, and if you will answer King Edward and will deny him the privilege of crossing Burgundy, I will sign the treaty, and will swear upon the true cross to keep it inviolate."
Mary could hardly conceal her exultation, but she answered calmly:—
"Will Your Majesty sign now?"
Louis and Mary each signed the treaty, and the piece of the true cross upon which the oath was to be made was brought before them, resting on a velvet pillow. Now there were many pieces of the true cross, of which Louis possessed two. Upon one of these he held the oath to be binding and inviolate; it was known as the Cross of Victory. Upon the other his oath was less sacred, and the sin of perjury was venial.
I stood near the throne, and, suspecting Louis of fraud, made bold to inquire:—
"Most humbly I would ask Your Majesty, is this the Cross of Victory?"
The king examined the piece of wood resting on the cushion and said:—
"By Saint Andrew, My Lord Cardinal, you have committed an error. You have brought me the wrong piece."
The Cross of Victory was then produced, with many apologies and excuses for the mistake, and the oath was taken while Mary's tiny hand rested on the relic beside King Louis' browned and wrinkled talon. When the ceremony was finished, the king turned to Mary and said:—
"Whom will Your Highness select for a husband?"
"My father sometime had treaty with Duke Frederick of Styria, looking to my marriage with his son Maximilian, and I shall ratify the compact."
Max was about to speak, but I plucked him by the sleeve.
* * * * *
Now I shall hasten to the end. The king took his departure within an hour, carrying with him his copy of the treaty. The audience was dismissed, and the princess left the great hall by the door back of the throne, having first directed Hymbercourt, Hugonet, Max, and myself to follow within five minutes, under conduct of a page. Castleman excused himself and left the hall.
The page soon came to fetch us, and we were taken to Mary's parlor, adjoining her bedroom in Darius tower. From the bedroom, as you know, the stairway in the wall descends to Castleman's house. In the parlor we found Mary, the Duchess Margaret, and several ladies in waiting. All the ladies, including Mary, were heavily veiled. When we entered, Mary addressed Max:—
"Sir Count, you doubtless heard my announcement to the king of France. It was my father's desire at one time to unite Styria and Burgundy by marriage. I myself sent you a letter and a ring that you doubtless still possess. Are you pleased with my offer?"
Max fell to his knee before the princess:—
"Your Highness's condescension is far beyond my deserts. There are few men who could refuse your offer, but I am pledged to another, and I beg Your Highness—"
"Enough, enough," cried the princess, indignantly. "No man need explain his reasons for refusing the hand of Mary of Burgundy."
Astonishment appeared on all faces save mine. I thought I knew the purpose of Her Highness. Max rose to his feet, and Mary said:—
"We'll go downstairs now, and, if you wish, Sir Count, you may there say farewell." She whispered a word to her mother, and led the way into her bedroom. The duchess indicated that Max and I were to follow. We did so, and Margaret came after us.
"We'll go down by these steps," said the princess, leading us to the open panel. "The way is dark, and you must use care in descending, Sir Count, but this is the nearest way to the ground."
Max started down the steps and Mary followed close at his heels. I followed Mary, and Duchess Margaret came after me.
When we had descended twenty steps, the upper panel was closed by some one in the bedroom, and the stairway became inky dark. Ten steps further, I stumbled and almost fell over a soft obstruction on the stairs. I stooped and examined it. Fearing that the duchess might fall when she reached it, I took it up. It was a lady's head-dress and veil. A few steps farther I picked up a lady's bodice and then a skirt. By the time I had made this collection, Max and Mary had reached the moving panel at the foot of the stairs. I heard it slide back, and a flood of light came in upon us. Yolanda, in burgher girl's costume, sprang over the cushioned seat into Castleman's oak room. Max followed, and I, with an armful of woman's gear, helped the duchess to step to the cushion and thence to the floor. Max stood for a moment in half-vexed surprise, but Yolanda, two yards off, laughed merrily:—
"You promised, Sir Max, that you would show no anger when you learned who I was, and you said you would neither lie, steal, nor commit murder."
The Castlemans stood near by, and the duchess and I joined them, forming an admiring group. Max did not reply. He held out his arms to the girl, and she ran to them. So closely did he hold her that she could hardly move. She did, however, succeed in turning her face toward us, and said poutingly:—
"Why don't you leave the room?"