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THb HAH WTM TH, a\r r> ( i . AI< 




BY 

CARL REUTTI MASON 

AUTHOR OF DEATH'S CONFESSION. 



THE 

Hbbey press 




Copyright, 1901, 

by 
THE 

Press 



PREFACE. 



The historical novelist is indeed fortunate if 
in his searching through the musty pages of 
history he can find a character which conforms 
in every detail to the one his eye of imagination 
conceives. But as a general thing this is not 
the case and so one to fill this requisite must 
be furnished from the workings of his own 
mind; while the fundamental facts remain the 
same true and unchanged. 

An historical novel is not the place to study 
details; but to fasten dates and events firmly 
in the mind, it is by far better than the dry 
pages of history. So as a word of warning to 
my readers, I desire to say that no faith should 
be placed in the characters of my main heroes, 
as they are merely brought into action to fill a 
space, from the novelist's point of view. 

But the facts are the same. Grouchy did 

3 



2137582 



4 The Clash of Steel 

not appear and no definite reasons have ever 
been given for his non-appearance at the 
battle of Waterloo, which undoubtedly caused 
Napoleon's defeat. For the historical data of 
this work I am especially indebted to Guizot's 
History of France, which is very much opposed 
to Napoleon, and Abbott's Life of Napoleon, 
which places Napoleon's actions in a very 
favorable light, and Muhlbach's Historical 
Novels, which give the sentimental part of the 
life of the great Emperor. 

GAEL H. MASON. 



CONTENTS. 



BOOK I. 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I. A FATAL MISTAKE 7 

BOOK II. 

I. THE MAN IN THE RED CLOAK 19 

II. ACCEPTED 31 

III. IN WHICH A MYSTERIOUS STRANGER APPEARS 

IN PARIS 44 

IV. MADAME'S VISIT 55 

V. MADAME MAKES AN AGREEMENT 67 

VI. THE CARDINAL'S CAMEO 78 

VII. MADAME SPECULATES 93 

VIII. LOVE OR DUTY 102 

IX. THE NICKED RAPIER 109 

X. AN ACT OF PITY 117 

BOOK III. 

I. THE BURNING OF Moscow 125 

II. EXILE 130 

III. CAUGHT IN A NET 136 

5 



6 Contents. 

CHAPTER PAGE 

IV. CHATEAU DE NUIT 141 

V. THE BED SILK LADDER 146 

VI. THE WRONG MAN 157 

VII. THEN, SIRE, I DISOBEY 164 

VIII. A WARNING IN TIME 170 

IX. VICTORY AND DEATH 178 

X. A MYSTERY REVEALED 187 

XI. IN MORTE QUIETUS EST 195 



THE CLASH OF STEEL 



BOOK I. 

CHAPTER I. 

A FATAL MISTAKE. 

Like the evening star, slowly mounting its 
zenith at the evening twilight, rose Napoleon's 
fortune, for awhile it set, sparkled and flashed, 
then slowly it began to pale behind the ominous 
clouds which long had been gathering on the 
horizon. The star of his greatness began its 
being when he married the widow of M. Beau- 
harnais and turned back the horoscope of time 
so as to escape the laughter of his friends, I 
will not say the whole world, for at that time 
what a little noise the name of Napoleon Bona- 

7 



8 The Clash of Steel. 

parte, Corsican, General, made, but rather 
of Napoleon Bonaparte himself. Stronger it 
became until the 30th day of November, 1809, 
when it set, sparkled awhile, then began fading 
off into a dying ember. 

Fate long before had whispered into the 
sensitive ear of Josephine that when Napoleon 
should place the crown upon her head and 
whisper into her ear, "now Josephine you are 
Empress and I am Emperor of all France," that 
then had come the time for her to depart, for 
she felt that there could be no Emperor without 
an heir that should be a direct descendant of his 
blood. This she continually felt and often told 
the Emperor, who would try to allay her fears 
with some loving speech. But she knew and 
felt that he would sacrifice her at the altar of 
his ambition. 

Tip to this time there was no one whom the 
crown would fall back upon in case of 
Napoleon's death, unless it was Eugene, 
Napoleon's adopted son and Josephine's rightful 
child. But that would not suffice for the 
French people, Napoleon thought. Thus the 
poor woman saw that her fate was inevitable, to 
be banished, and she resigned herself to the 



A Fatal Mistake. 9 

coming blow. There was but one way before 
she surrendered entirely but if that failed all 
would be lost. This last chance was to marry 
Hortense, Josephine's daughter and Napoleon's 
step daughter to Napoleon's brother Louis. 
After much trouble, anguish and planning this 
was at last accomplished and her efforts were 
crowned by Hortense giving birth to a son. 

The old happiness returned, only to be 
changed into deeper despair, for the child died 
soon after. All to Josephine seemed lost and it 
was true, there was no doubt. She had recourse 
to no other plans and there was no longer a 
hope, there must be an heir to the throne which 
Napoleon had erected. Already the Emperor 
had consulted his councilors as to the move he 
was contemplating of divorcing Josephine. 

Negotiations were begun with several royal 
families and an assembly was called to find a 
suitable Empress for the throne of France, 
which soon would be vacant. The assembly 
proposed several names but that of Maria Louisa 
of Austria was met with the most favor by the 
Emperor, thereby giving rise to much dis- 
pleasure at several other courts. Napoleon 
combined diplomacy with necessity, as he would 



io The Clash of Steel. 

have called it. He felt that it was necessary 
to rid himself of Josephine and in choosing 
another wife, he preferred to choose one who 
would bring aid to his cause. 

At first the alliance with some Russian 
Princess seemed favorable and it was agreeable 
to Alexander but Napoleon preferred Austria, 
thinking thereby to gain a stronger power in 
his favor but he made one of the mistakes which 
cost him so dearly. Alexander's wrath was 
provoked and instead of gaining Austria's favor, 
it gained both Russia's and Austria's hatred. 
Now came the trying time. Napoleon called 
Hortense and requested of her that she inform 
her mother of the step he had been contemplat- 
ing but she refused, saying "you may break 
her heart sire, but I shall not." Next he tried 
to have Eugene break the news to his mother 
but again he was met with a stern refusal. 



It was on the evening of November 30th, 
1809. All day long the cold wind had driven 
the withered leaves about the streets in the same 
manner as Fate drives our hopes. First flutter- 
ing awhile on the almost barren branches, then 



A Fatal Mistake. 1 1 

they are torn from the stem and at last a 
whirlwind of disappointment hurls them into 
oblivion. 

The rain had come and died at times from 
the low clouds which hung over the earth. 
Occasionally a flurry of snow and perhaps a 
patter of hail, then gloom again, gloom every 
where, thick and impregnable as that settled on 
the brow of the eternally mute sphinx as she 
looks over the burning barren sands, guarding 
with her shade the flights of caravans of cen- 
turies. A day which, when dying makes one 
feel as though the sun would never again mount 
his throne "in majestic state," as though the 
angels had forgotten "with fairy hands to shift 
the scenery of the heavens." 

The occasional patter of horses hoofs, the 
rumble of a carriage, then silence as deep as 
that which hangs about the tomb or the chamber 
of the dead. A night fit for dreams of morality 
and deeds of violence. A night for sadness and 
languid melancholy, for charity and for murder, 
but then what is the difference between charity 
and murder, be it self murder or otherwise? 
They are often identical, often the same to 
some poor wretch laboring in poverty and dis- 



12 The Clash of Steel. 

tress or wallowing in wealth and dishonor. Yet 
he does not recognize the fact when the murder- 
ous blow descends that charity has been done. 
He does not feel that from a life of distress and 
pain he has been subpoenaed into a life of 
happiness or perhaps a life of silent, eternal 
sleep, anything better and nothing worse than 
the life he has led. 

Thus oftentimes the pauper is charitable in 
his poverty; when he fells his victim and the 
victim of despair with the same blow, who 
hesitates to do for himself that which the pauper 
has done for him. Who hesitates and fears. 
What? He knows not and still he feels that 
nothing can be worse than the life he has led 
and yet he hesitates. Draws the poniard from 
its sheath, feels its temper, sees it glitter in the 
light, a moment of thought, the dagger slips 
unstained into its sheath again. 

While the glitter of a stiletto, a sharp cry 
and all is over or still better a drop upon the 
lips, a dream of blissful happiness, perhaps the 
only he has known, the arms of his fairy mis- 
tress about him, the 'fever of her burning lips, 
the perfume of her hair as it hides his face, her 
hot breath upon the cheek then the stiffening 



A Fatal Mistake. 13 

of a muscle, the glassy stare of an eye, the rattle 
in the throat and then we know not but that he 
has happiness. 

The world will say he was a coward, but he 
is not. Let them who are loudest in their 
accusations of cowardice contemplate the very 
act and ascertain who is the coward. Let them 
prick their living flesh with the needle point 
of a poniard and feel the self murderer's 
thoughts and fears; let them feel the touch of 
the clear cold liquid of death and know that 
soon all will be over and let them feel the sting 
of their own taunt; let them then determine 
who is the coward and who is the bravado. 

In the salon of the Tuileries, sat the Emperor 
alone, his head reclining on his hand, his elbow 
on the arm of the chair. Some would picture 
him with tears coursing down his cheeks and 
a broken heart at the crushing duty he was 
about to perform for the welfare of France, as 
he thought, but I will not. Undoubtedly it 
caused him pain to contemplate the part he was 
about to play. Whom would it not cause pain? 
Into whose heart would it not strike remorse, 
but as for Napoleon being heart broken I doubt 
it. Let the soldier follow the war, the trades- 



14 The Clash of Steel. 

man his trade, the beggar his beggary and the 
ambitious his ambition. Napoleon had decided 
to follow his ambition and the time had come 
for him to act. He arose from the chair and 
as he paced the length of the room he murmured 
to himself awhile in an inaudible tone. ~No 
doubt morality was debating with evil, remorse 
with what he felt a duty. At last he straight- 
ened up as the servant called him for the even- 
ing meal and said in a voice stern and unfalter- 
ing, showing that his decision had been made 
"it is all over; tonight it must be consummated" 
and with a firm step, in which seemed to still lurk 
a bit of hesitancy, he left the room. No doubt 
remorse was still working in his mind. 

He entered the salle a manger to partake 
of the evening meal and also to break the ties 
that bound him to Josephine. Just as he en- 
tered the room, the door opposite opened and 
Josephine came in followed by Hortense. 
Anguish was painfully depicted upon her face 
and with morose step she approached the table 
and seated herself at her accustomed place, 
which soon she would leave forever. Every- 
thing at this moment of her departure seemed 
dearer to her than ever before. Undoubtedlv 



A Fatal Mistake. 15 

Hortense had in some way given her an under- 
standing of what was to happen as Josephine 
suppressed her tears with pain. 

Not a word was spoken. Josephine read her 
fate in the Emperor's actions for his eyes would 
not meet hers and her bosom heaved with sup- 
pressed anguish. It was as if leading a victim 
to be sacrificed at the shrine of ambition. The 
wind moaned about the building and dashed 
gusts of rain against the window with a ghostly 
patter, as if weeping for the Empress in her 
distress. 

Tears would well up in her eyes, but with 
an effort she would restrain them. The scenes 
of past happy days arose before her as in a 
dream. She saw again the time when Eugene 
received his father's sword from Napoleon's 
hand. She saw the Emperor return triumphant 
with victory. She saw again the time when 
he placed the crown upon her head; but then 
her happiness was ended. The silence was 
oppressive. A lackey dropped a cup and awoke 
'Josephine from her dream. No one spoke a 
word and a far off clock struck the hour in a 
slow drawing tone like a knell. The meal was 
finished. The Emperor arose and dismissed 



1 6 The Clash of Steel. 

those about him and as Josephine started to 
leave, he said to her in a choked voice: 

"Pray remain Josephine, I would speak with 
you." 

Hortense asked permission to remain, hut 
Napoleon denied it and she withdrew with a 
parting glance at her mother. All had left. 
The Empress stood at the closed door with 
bowed head for a moment, then turned and cast 
her eyes now filling with tears towards the 
Emperor. 

"My Josephine, my good Josephine, my life 
has been but one dream of happiness in your 
presence. Your words have been my consola- 
tion, your kisses have changed moments of hell 
into eternities of heaven. All I owe to you. 
All my greatness I attribute to you and it 
pierces my heart and soul with pain to tell 
you" 

"Sire," she said with tears and sobs choking 
her voice, "you need go no further. I under- 
stand it all; I understand it all. Those happy 
days are past and gone never to return. Was' 
I not right Sire, when I asked you not to 
become Emperor?" 

He approached and held her in his arms. 



A Fatal Mistake 17 

The tears were pouring from her eyes like the 
stream of an unchecked fountain. 

"Ah Sire, it breaks my heart to think that I 
must leave you, that never again shall I feel 
your arms about me or your kisses on my lips, 
that you shall never again press me to your 
heart, no more will Josephine be your wife. ~No 
more, no more," and she fainted sobbing 
violently in his arms. He gently laid her on 
the couch and called a physician and knelt by 
her side until she was revived and then he left. 

Then he retired to his own room and paced 
the floor until after midnight, when he threw 
himself upon the bed and fell into a. troubled 
sleep. Suddenly he was awakened by the 
creaking of a door. He looked in wonderment 
as the servants never entered the room after he 
had retired, when ISTapoleon gave such orders 
and he had done so that night, as he wished 
to be alone with his own thoughts. Slowly the 
door opened and a figure in white, her hair dis- 
heveled, entered. It was Josephine. The 
scene was embarrassing. Had Josephine the 
divorced wife the right to enter the chamber of 
a man who was no longer her husband? The 
stillness was only broken by the sobbing which 



1 8 The Clash of Steel. 

escaped her. Napoleon was the first to speak: 
"Josephine?" 

"My husband, my husband/' she cried, "you 
are still my husband. Tonight, but tomorrow 
no more," and sobbing and weeping almost 
hysterical she threw her arms about his neck. 

"Do not drive me away let me be with you 
if only your servant, your slave, anything, only 
let me be near you." 

But the fate of Josephine had been signed 
and sealed. That was her last night as the 
wife of Napoleon and as the first rays of the 
morning light sped over France, the past 
Empress stole from her husband's bed-chamber 
as a mistress from that of her lover and France 
was without an Empress. 



BOOK II. 

CHAPTEK I. 

THE MAN IN THE RED CLOAK. 

It was in a drinking inn on the outskirts of 
Paris, one cold dreary night where one could 
find idlers loitering, quarreling and arguing. 
There were merchantmen, groomsmen, common 
soldiers and officers who frequented these . 
places almost constantly. They were divided; 
off into separate groups, some arguing about 
their wares others drinking, some gambling,! 
either with the dice or the cards but all 
swearing. 

The French people forget easily. It was now 
the last of January and no one spoke of Jose- 
phine, she was not even thought of, the con- 
jecture now was, "who would be the next 
Empress?" The secret had not yet been 
officially given out but it was almost certain that 

19 



1O The Clash cf Steel. 

Napoleon's suit had been accepted by Maria 
Louisa of Austria. 

It was "bitter stinging cold outside and u 
heavy snow was falling and it seemed from the 
amount of noise they made, that the revelers 
were trying to drown out the ghostly whistle 
of the wind as it would rush about the building. 
Glasses clinked as two or three cavalry-men 
would bump them together, wishing each other 
a safe campaign. The dice rattled as they rolled 
over the table, perhaps settling the fate of some 
fair demoiselle and the cards were shuffled, with 
hands that seemed to feel that they had dealt 
the wrong card to their opponent and the correct 
one to their master. 

The laughter and noise grew louder and 
louder; but suddenly a silence, as deep as that 
which hangs about the tomb at "midnight's 
holiest hour," fell upon all the revelers. A 
man, had only opened and closed the door and 
stood shaking the snow from a great red cloak 
which almost entirely enveloped his fine form. 

I say that a man, had only opened and closed 
the door, for why should only a man cause such 
a silence to fall on these half drunken idlers, 
who feared no one on this side of the grave or 



The Man in the Red Cloak. 21 

the other but God and the devil himself. This 
thought presented itself to every mind but could 
not be explained. There seemed to be such 
graceful and serpentine movements about this 
man, that he seemed rather to glide than to 
walk. 

He was dressed in the garb of a cavalier, 
entirely in keeping with the style of France, 
with the exception of this long red cloak, on 
account of which he was immediately styled by 
the crowd as the "man in the red cloak." 

He strode across the room and the spurs on his 
high military boots seemed to vie in clearness of 
sound with that made by the long slender sword, 
which dangled loosely at his side. His face was 
shaded by a pair of mustaches and a beard, 
which ran to a point almost as sharp as that 
of his weapon. His hair and beard were black 
and his eyes were almost of the same shade, 
piercing as steel, glittering with a malicious, 
half sneaking half bold light, and restless as 
the needle of a compass, they would wander 
from object to object. A half sneering smile 
almost constantly played about his mouth and 
truly I do not doubt, that could the thoughts 
of this crowd have been compared, this one 



22 The Clash of Steel. 

would have been present in every mind; "how 
much like Goethe's creation of Mephisto." 

The man seated himself quietly at a vacant 
table and ordered a hot punch. The revelers 
seemed to lose the spirit which they formerly 
had, for some reason or other; they could not 
explain. This calm, deliberate character cast 
a chill over their feelings and dampened their 
ardor. He seemed to be a gloomy forebodance 
of evil and misfortune. The drink was brought 
and placed before the man, who gave the land- 
lord a coin which several times covered the price 
of the drink and when handed the change, 
merely made a motion with his hand as if to 
say "I require nothing more," began slowly 
to sip the beverage and the landlord, not having 
to be asked twice to keep the change, pocketed 
it and resumed his station. 

This action seemed to give new life to the 
revelers and again the glasses sounded, but 
louder than before, again the dice clattered 
as they rolled on the table and the cards were 
dealt with a still more certain hand and the 
noise grew louder than ever. The man sat and 
sipped his drink and when it was finished he 
calmly drew a gold case from his pocket and 



The Man in the Red Cloak. 23 

slowly and deliberately rolled a cigarette, lit it 
and blew the smoke into pale blue rings about 
his head while he mused. 

"I am now on the right road to Paris and 
must begin my work by praising their idol and 
shouting in a loud voice, Sdve L' Empereur.' ' 

During this time, the crowd did not lose the 
opportunity of remarking, that evidently the 
new-comer must not be very well acquainted in 
that part of Paris and there were few and they 
were too full for utterance who did not make 
some jeering remark about the stranger. These 
sallies of insults were principally led by a half 
drunken bully, who would, between his throws 
of dice, heap some new insult on the stranger. 

"I wonder if he plays and fights as well as he 
looks?" he asked in an undertone, but loud 
enough for the stranger to hear. The crowd 
laughed and cast sly glances in the direction of 
the object of their raillery. 

The man calmly blew rings of cigarette 
smoke in the air and acted as though he heard 
nothing. 

"Certainly he must be a shade returned from 
the time of the great Richelieu, to wear a cloak 
of such a color;" said he as he raked in the 



24 The Clash of Steel. 

last sou of his fourth victim and clamored 
loudly for some one else to match his luck 
with him, but all feared to venture. 

The stranger suddenly arose and strode across 
the room to where the bully was standing, call- 
ing for some one to compete with him, hoping 
that the stranger would hear and try his luck. 
The stranger picked up the dice and threw. 

"By what name may we style you, my dear 
sir?" asked the bully with mock politeness, of 
which the stranger seemed to take no notice 
whatever. 

"Call me Mario." 

"My name is Pierre, Corporal Moran of 
Napoleon's Guard and styled its best swords- 
man, may it please you." Pierre picked up the 
dice laughing at the throw which Mario had 
made and threw them upon the table and lost. 

"Come, double the amount," cried he. 

"Done" said Mario and the crowd gathered 
nearer to watch the game, as already the stakes 
were higher than usual. They threw again and 
Mario won once more. Once after that he won 
and the crowd began to make remarks about 
Pierre's luck. But the tide turned and Pierre 
soon had all of Mario's money and was turning 



The Man in the Red Cloak. 25 

away rejoicing when Mario called to him "come 
I still have this ring left, it is certainly worth 
600 francs we will play on, not with the dice 
but with the cards." 

Pierre flushed with victory and longingly eye- 
ing the diamond, which sparkled and glittered 
on Mario's finger, consented to play. Luck 
favored Pierre and Mario was down to his last 
part of the diamond. 

"Your remaining amount against twice 
mine," said Pierre anxious to close the game. 

"I am willing," was the answer. 

Mario took the cards and dealt. Pierre lost. 
A smile spread over Mario's features. The 
game went on and Pierre continued to lose until 
he was down to his last coin when Mario said: 
"it is but just I will wager all I have won from 
you against your last coin." 

"I certainly am willing." 

It was Mario's deal. How gracefully he 
shuffled. It seemed as if his dancing sharp 
eyes could read the face of every card through 
its back. It was played and Pierre lost. 

"Here," said Mario pushing all that he had 
won from him; "take your money I have no 
need of it." 



26 The Clash of Steel. 

Pierre's dignity was offended and he flushed 
red with anger. 

"Stranger, Pierre has never asked mercy of 
an enemy." 

"This mercy is given without its being asked 
and besides, I am no enemy, for I will venture 
another hundred that I can shout vive L' 
Empereur vive La France as loud as the next 
one," and he coolly lit another cigarette. 

Seeing that their leader was enraged the 
crowd gathered around the two and began to 
murmur that the stranger had half answered 
Pierre's taunt. He had proven that he could 
play as well as he looked, now perhaps he could 
fight as well. 

"You have wounded my pride and not alone 
that, I could forget it, but strangers should pre- 
serve their skill at cheating to play upon their 
friends who trust them and would not have 
noticed it." 

"You say I have cheated?" 

"You turned a card, it may have been acci- 
dent, but perhaps it was not; I think it was not." 

There was a shower of sparks. Mario's 
cigarette had hit Pierre square in the face as a 
challenge. 



The Man in the Red Cloak. 27 

"Another insult," he bellowed, "now there 
can be but one way to repair the wrongs you 
have done me." 

"At your service" coolly responded Mario." 

"When do you wish to cross swords?" 

"There is no time like the present;" said the 
stranger, his eyes snapping with their steely 
glitter. 

And so they left to fight, while the landlord 
cleared the table. 

The snow was still falling and a cold stinging 
wind rushed through the barren trees. In that 
part of Paris there ^was no trouble to find a 
vacant lot and there was no need of fear of the 
gendarmes interfering. The formality of choos- 
ing seconds was done away with, the whole 
crowd being witnesses to the fight. Pierre was 
confident of victory and so were his companions 
who had so often seen him prove himself a 
master of the art, for such a long list of 
casualties were to his credit. When they 
reached the place where they intended to hold 
the bout, Pierre drew his sword and turned to 
Mario. 

"Monsieur if you are slain what shall we do 
with your body?" 



28 The Clash of Steel. 

The sneer on Mario's lips widened into a leer- 
ing smile as he said: 

"Bury me here," and he pointed with his 
sword to the spot whereon he stood. 

"And to whom shall we deliver the sorrowful 
news of your demise?" continued Pierre. 

"Write it on the snow with the point of your 
sword in my blood and when the spring sun 
erases it, think then that often in the same 
manner are we blotted from the hearts of those 
we love," and he calmly placed himself on 
guard. 

Pierre was a member of Xapoleon's famous 
guard and was considered its best swordsman. 
He fought well; but Mario fought better. The 
snow would creak beneath their feet as they 
would lunge arid retreat. It soon became evi- 
dent that Mario was only playing with his 
opponent as a cat does with a mouse before it 
strikes its final blow. The same half sneer 
played about his lips and his graceful move- 
ments gave him the agility of a serpent. Finally 
he asked: "think you now that you will write 
Mario in blood on the snow?" Pierre was 
breathing too hard to make reply. 

Nearer and nearer Mario's thrusts would 



The Man in the Red Cloak. 29 

come and Pierre seemed unable to ward them 
off. Despair was plainly shown on his face and 
he was fighting viciously, thrusting at random 
and rushing like a maddened bull, but Mario 
would gracefully step aside and Pierre's sword 
always found nothing but vacancy. The crowd 
grew anxious, closed around the combatants, and 
many placed their hands on the hilts of their 
swords. Now Mario's sword brought blood on 
the arm. Now it touched the neck, now it 
struck forward with force over Pierre's guard 
and buried itself in his shoulder and, exhausted, 
Pierre sank to the ground bleeding furiously. 

There were shouts, curses, cries and the rasp- 
ing of swords as they slid from their sheaths. 
They all rushed forward to murder Mario and 
to help Pierre. In the confusion the lights 
were extinguished and blows were given, but all 
seemed to reach nothing. Finally a torch was 
relighted and raised in the air. 

Mario had disappeared. He could not be 
found. The surprise forced the crowd into 
silence and they stood looking at each other in 
wonderment, for every one felt that he had 
struck in time to stop him forever. 

As they stood there in amazement, they heard 



30 The Clash of Steel. 

the sound of a horse as it slowly cantered by, 
they saw the flutter of a red cloak and a mocking 
laugh fell on their ears. 

"You will hear more of Mario," cried the 
rider as he spurred his horse onward. 

It was a sorry looking crowd that carried 
poor Pierre back to the inn and wild were the 
conjectures of who Mario might be. Some 
thought him to be a spy for the king, others a 
nobleman entering Paris but all concluded that 
he was mysterious, daring and brave and all 
recalled their feelings when he had entered the 
inn. 



Accepted. 3 1 



CHAPTER II. 

ACCEPTED. 

The afternoon's sun was dying fast in the 
west as a figure strode slowly up the street, 
glancing from door to door at every house, but 
none seemed to be the one he was looking for, 
as he passed onward after each stop. Suddenly 
he halted and said half aloud to himself; "it is 
here that I am to meet her I am sure. This is 
the street and the house answers the description. 
Xow for the signal;" and he gave three sharp 
trills. He waited for a few moments and 
slowly the door swung open and a figure in black 
glided across the threshold. The door closed 
again very quietly, and during the whole opera- 
tion there was not the slightest disturbance. 

At the foot of the stone steps, which led to 
the house the figure stopped and repeated the 
three trills. The man was about to advance and 
address the figure, when she, for it was a woman, 



32 The Clash of Steel. 

said in a low voice: "follow me. Do not act as 
if you know me" and she started down the street 
with the man following closely at her heels. 
After she had crossed several streets she sud- 
denly came to a halt and waited for the man to 
come nearer. 

"It is indeed you Mario; I had almost come 
to the conclusion that you were not coming. 
You are a little late." 

"Yes I had a quarrel with a bully on my way 
from Chateau de ISTuit as I entered Paris." 

"It is needless to ask who won, for you are 
here." 

"Yes on business. What is the news." 

The duke and the king are willing to give you 
an audience tonight, therefore this precaution. 
So you have just come in time as the duke who 
is here, in disguise of course, is soon to join his 
forces and the king is going from Paris, where 
I do not know." 

"Well let us proceed at once," said the man 
anxiously. 

"We still have a few minutes yet before the 
appointed time and now Mario tell me why you 
have given up your former life to become a spy 
in the hands of a dethroned sovereign?" 



Accepted. 33 

"I may tell you that later on." 

"Was it to be with me?" she asked hoping 
the answer would be in the affirmative. 

"Perhaps" was the cold response. 

"I do not wholly believe that is the cause but 
think it more a plan for revenge. 

The man's face underwent a change, the half 
sneer about his lips played off into hard-set lines. 
His eyes flashed and he spoke but the few words, 
"speak not of the past," but they were enough 
as they w T ere said in such a tone that they were 
all that was necessary. The woman saw the 
change and in a soft voice began, "you know 
Mario, that I have always loved you. Yes I 
have loved you dearer than anything, even 
dearer than life and yet you have not spoken one 
word of love to me, not one action of yours has 
told me that you cared for me and I believe 
that you love or did love another. Forgive my 
hasty speech, it was my jealousy that forced 
me to say what I did." 

The man did not like the confession and 
entreaty for undoubtedly there was some truth 
in them. 

"Come;" said he, "take me to the king." 

"Sh !" exclaimed the woman, "do not speak 



34 The Clash of Steel. 

so loud about the king. He may be discovered 
and all would be lost. Now be perfectly quiet 
and follow me," and she moved off in a slow 
walk, glancing 'from right to left to see that she 
was not watched. 

Instead of returning by the way she had come 
she wound around corners that seemed to lead 
in a directly opposite direction from the house 
she had left. Suddenly she stopped on a corner 
and waited for the man to come. 

"Now" said she when he had arrived "come 
with me and be quiet. I shall do most of the 
talking." 

She then advanced to the third house from the 
corner and gave the three trills. A few 
seconds later they were answered from within 
the house and the door slowly opened. 

"Follow me" she whispered then turning to 
a shadow, which stood behind the door, she said : 

"Frangois, let him enter, by order of the 
King." 

The man did not answer, but- the rasping of 
steel showed that he had understood the counter- 
sign and had obeyed by replacing his sword in 
its scabbard. The room was dark and it was 
some time before their eyes became accustomed 



Accepted. 3 5 

to the gloom. The woman stretched out her 
hand and took Mario's and started to walk. He 
followed her and passed through a long room, 
then suddenly she stopped, for a strong door 
barred their way. She rapped three times and 
the door slowly swung open and as they passed 
through she said: "descend my lor " -The 
man pressed her hand and the word she would 
have spoken died on her lips. They then de- 
scended a long flight of stairs, which made. not 
the slightest noise beneath their feet and at the 
bottom of which burned a dim sickly light. 
When they had descended he could feel the 
coolness of stones beneath his feet and the damp- 
ness of walls around him. 

Mario saw nothing, but he heard his guide in 
a low voice say: "By order of the King" and 
again a sword slid into its sheath. Then she 
led him through a tunnel just wide enough for 
them to walk side by side, which seemed to 
Mario to have no end. They wound around 
corners and often at these places there were 
intersecting passage ways, leading in opposite 
directions, but the guide pressed onward. 
Every now and then a rumble would be heard 
over their heads like the muttering of an 



36 The Clash of Steel. 

approaching storm. It was the rolling of 
wagons on the streets above. After some time 
his guide again gave the password and they 
ascended a short flight of stairs and entered into 
a room handsomely furnished but dimly lighted. 
"Wait here" she said, "and I will see if the King 
is ready to admit you." 

She left the man standing before the fire, beat- 
ing his high boots with his long gloves from 
which he had withdrawn his hands. He was 
tall and well built and although he tried to dis- 
guise his features by his beard, the lines still 
showed to a keen observer that he did not pos- 
sess the face of a Frenchman. He spoke French 
fluently, but every now and then an accent 
would slip into his speech which showed, that 
his tongue fain would wander in another direc- 
tion. After a few moments the woman returned 
and told him that the King was ready to receive 
him, "but," said she in a word of warning, "be 
firm he suspects that France is not your native 
country and that you are not risking yourself for 
that alone. v 

The man made no reply but thought that the 
woman made this statement, merely to gain 
information for herself. She then led him into 



Accepted. 37 

another room. It was now almost dark and by 
the light of a candelabrum on a table almost 
covered with papers, he saw a man writing, 
while another paced the length of the room in 
a dreamy mood. They were evidently expect- 
ing the visit for they were not disturbed in the 
least by the entrance of the two. 

Mario was just wondering how the King 
would trust himself in the heart of. Paris with 
so few guards about his person. At this moment 
the King arose a*nd drew aside the curtains of 
the window and in a stern voice said: "Deliver 
these orders to Franc,ois" and a hand reached 
forth and received the papers and the curtains 
were again drawn to. 

Napoleon would have given a fortune to have 
known that the King was in Paris and he would 
have given another, greater than the first, to 
have bribed one of the guards to remove him; 
but the King was supposed to be in exile and 
so the Emperor did not know that he was right 
within his grasp, could he but remove the cover. 
The King turned to Mario. 

"I understand that you desire to place your- 
self at our service." 

"You have been correctly informed your 
Majesty." 



38 The Clash of Steel. 

"But now the cause of this risk?" 

"France, my King and ," was the answer 
but the last word was not spoken but the word 
revenge trembled on his lips but was unheard. 

"And what?" asked the King. 

"And their liberty." 

"Your answers falter." 

"My deeds shall not." 

"Your tongue at times seems to falter as 
though it was traveling uncertain paths, when 
you pronounce some words." 

"I have been traveling much of late your 
Majesty." 

"Well it is true a Frenchman is always a 
Frenchman no matter where he is. Is it not so 
my Lor ?" 

"Mario is my name," was the cool response 
to the King's speech, which showed that 
suspicion lurked in his mind as to the kind of 
man he dealt with." 

"But how am I to know that you are not a 
spy in Napoleon's hands?" 

"My acts shall speak and prove all that." 

"Do you not know that if you are caught by 
Napoleon, that it would mean certain death ? " 



Accepted. 39 

"I should then die for a good cause your 
Majesty." 

"Well now to do away with idle words; how 
do you intend to operate?" 

"I have men and means. You shall have all 
news of any importance. It shall be conveyed 
to you through your faithful servants Francois 
and Lilly. My chateau shall be my head- 
quarters but of course I will not be known as 
Mario there." 

"And the name of your chateau." 

"Chateau de Nuit." 

"A peculiar name, where is it located." 

"On the boundaries of France, Belgium and 
Germany." 

The King began to move restlessly in his 
chair and the color came and went in his face, 
evidently anxiety was on his mind. 

"It is a large stone building?" 

"Yes Sire." 

"With stone lions holding shields with the 
Fleurs de Lis on them?" 

"The same your Majesty." 

"Sacre, my private chateau, if he should dis- 
cover the secret" murmured the King under 



40 The Clash of Steel. 

his breath his hand fumbling with the pen he 
held. "I must contrive to get it out of there" 
he murmured. 

Mario noticed the King's anxiety, but played 
his part by seemingly seeing nothing, though in 
reality he was observing the King's every action 
and it set his mind working, trying to interpret 
this demeanor. 

"How long have you occupied this chateau?" 
asked the King. 

Probably a month." 

"It is a very mysterious place is it not?" 

"Very, but how comes your Majesty to know 
of the place?" 

"By hearsay, purely by hearsay, for a King 
must know everything that is in his domain." 

"If -his Majesty should accept me, anything 
he should command would be done." 

"Then the only command I could give a spy 
is do your duty." 

"Then you accept me?" 

"Yes, providing you do not command too high 
a price for your services." 

"I ask nothing." 

"What do you expect." 

"Nothing."" 



Accepted. 41 

"Good, that is well, you are accepted. Let 
your deeds speak well against Napoleon." 

"Have no fears your Majesty, they will." 

'You are dismissed," and the King began to 
write at the table and Mario left with his guide. 
As he was about to turn away, the woman 
stopped him. 

"Where to now Mario?" 

"To Chateau de Nuit to make preparations, 
my men are there," and he strode off. The 
woman followed him with her eyes and mused: 
"No; he is not spy for King or France, he is 
spy for Mario and Mario alone," and she disap- 
peared into the house. 

In the room the King was still writing and 
the Duke was pacing the floor. The King laid 
down his pen and stared into vacancy. A fear 
was creeping over his mind. Had Fate 
prompted that strange being he had just met, to 
place himself in his service and also to buy his 
private chateau, the owner of which only the 
valet of the King had known and this servant 
was dead, so the secret remained only in his 
hands. Would not this man now turn to be a 
double edged weapon if he should discover the 
hiding place of the secret and if used too harshly 



42 The Clash of Steel. 

would rebound and cause its user more harm, 
than good? It was too late to retract the step 
he had now taken, for Mario was already in pos- 
session of the chateau and it was better for the 
King to ha ye him as friend, than even neutral. 
The only thing to do was trust to luck or to 
remove the greater part of the secret. 

Suddenly the Duke interrupted his musings: 
"What do you think of the man." 

"In what way" asked the King. 

"As a spy." 

"Good." 

"Why?" 

"In the first place he is not a Frenchman." 

"Why, how do you know that?" 

"His tongue falters, his beard is too sharp 
and Frenchmen do not wear cloaks like his." 

"What makes you think he will be good in 
our service?" 

"He is forced on by more than love of King 
or country." 

"What makes you think that?" 

"Did you not notice the continual sneer about 
his lips, did you not see that he did not care to 
speak about the past and did you not notice him 



Accepted. 43 

correct me when I was going to call him by a 
title." 

"Yes, now I do recall it. What do you think 
is his motive, or what is it that forces him to 
become a spy in our hands?" 

"Kevenge." - 

"Kevenge?" 

"Yes a man does not sneer, nor answer the 
way he did iinless there is something more than 
the object to serve King or country hidden in 
his heart. He is no common man. There is a 
motive in all this and it is revenge." 



44 The Clash of Steel. 



CHAPTER III. 

IN WHICH A MYSTERIOUS STRANGER AP- 
PEARS IN PARIS. 

Strangers, who for more than five years had 
passed up a certain street in Paris, which I need 
not name, would stop in front of a building 
blackened by neglect and age and would wonder 
that such a place should be allowed to fall in 
ruin. On inquiring what house it was they 
would be told that it was called the "Alhambra" 
probably because it was deserted, or perhaps 
because before it was abandoned, it had been 
inhabited by a Moor of royal blood who had 
come from his home in sunny Spain to rest and 
enjoy the frivolity of the French nation. Its 
doors were closed and bolted. Its shutters were 
fastened by their hooks and re-enforced by bars 
and bolts. The old gate, bearing the strange 
design of the Moor's coat of arms was rusting 
on its hinges, barring an entrance to the court 



A Mysterious Stranger Appears in Paris. 45 

yard, as firm as that of a mausoleum. Weeds 
had grown up in the cracks of the massive 
stones and floor of the court yard, which long 
had ceased to echo to human foot-steps. 

The "Alhambra" was indeed an appropriate 
name for this place of Moorish desertion. From 
the court ran a pair of wide stairs of probably 
twelve or fifteen steps and then a huge arch, 
the key stone bearing the curious armorial of its 
past lord, then a sort of alcove or porch with 
an arch to the west, then another arch over the 
entrance of two large doors of carved oak. 
Through these portals no one had passed for 
more than five years, since the day of the Moor's 
untimely death, which stirred all Paris into a 
state of excitement. 

When the corpse was borne from the house, 
the old brown faced, white haired butler was 
seen to close the door, not without one lingering 
look of sadness and regret. Then he produced 
a massive key and the bolt turned without a 
change being made on the interior of the build- 
ing. Then he tottered away, possibly return- 
ing to the land of his birth, probably not, no 
one knew. But since then no one had placed 
a foot within the court yard, much less the 



46 The Clash of Steel. 

building which stood silent, stern, a monument 
for its deceased Lord. Year came and year 
went. Time and the elements joined hands 
every day in tinting the stone building, with its 
beautiful carvings, a somber hue, as if it at last 
had realized its loss and were now assuming its 
mourning garb. 

The Moor's history, if not found in the 
archives of the nation, was for a day, or proba- 
bly a month, for the world forgets soon and 
the French nation much sooner, written in the 
minds of the people. The first that was known 
of him was his building of the mansion we have 
been speaking of, then his entering it with his 
strange retinue. Then his appearance at the 
opera and the showering of a necklace of dia- 
monds and gems of priceless value at the feet 
of the prima donna, because she sang a song 
of his native land with such grace and fervor. 
N"ext came the rumor of his liaison with the 
most noted grisette and mistress of the times. 
Silks, gowns almost beyond price, jewels, 
fortunes were heaped upon her in profusion. 
Nothing was made secret. Like husband and 
wife they lived at the "Alhambra." To make 
a reception or a ball a success the Moor must 



A Mysterious Stranger Appears in Paris. 47 

be induced to grace the liall with his presence. 
Once he consented to be present, the word was 
given out and the ball-room was crowded to 
overflowing, but should he decline the invita- 
tion the hall was deserted. Theaters were 
crowded to excess, when it was known that he 
had a box and managers were not tardy in 
announcing that fact when it was true. 

Xow this strange character had in his retinue 
a servant who accompanied him almost con- 
stantly when in public and acted as a kind of 
interpreter and manager. Tall, straight and 
handsome with his olive skin and black hair and 
eyes which expressed as much as his lips spoke, 
quiet, but sharp and shrewd, he had no match 
as a valet and companion. 

A year had passed since the Moor's entrance 
into Paris, when one morning, the old gray 
haired butler came before his master and in 
his strange and mysterious way made it clear 
to his Lord, without offending him, that it was 
to his advantage to watch his mistress and his 
servant. 

The Moor laid a trap and giving out that he 
should be gone for a night, he kindly dismissed 
the valet, as he wished to go unattended. The 



48 The Clash of Steel. 

servant fearing a plot, as it was an unusual 
occurrence for the Lord to go into public with- 
out his company, mounted a horse and followed 
the brougham which bore his Lord. The Moor 
knowing the shrewdness of his servant and see- 
ing the horse following his carriage, ordered 
the coachman to drive to the Tuileries. This 
threw the young man off his guard, as he 
thought he was going to visit the King and 
wished to see him in secret. So he returned. 

About midnight the Moor also returned and 
quietly entered the house and peering through 
the curtains of his mistress' room he found her 
in the arms of her lover. For a moment he 
gazed, then his passion got the best of him and 
he thrust the curtains aside. The woman 
shrieked, but the young Moor was calm and 
quiet. On the wall, were hung many strange 
moorish weapons as ornaments. The lord 
grasped a scimitar and rushed upon the youth 
who had stolen the affections of his mistress. 
As he struck the young man swerved to one 
side and the blow which otherwise would have 
split his skull, crashed into his shoulder and 
dyed his gown with his blood. Then they drew 
closer and a hand to hand struggle ensued; but 



A Mysterious Stranger Appears in Paris. 49 

the loss of blood began to tell on the youth for 
each moment he was growing weaker. 

A long curved dagger hung at his side, but it 
was on the side which was unhurt and in such 
a position that he could not reach it. Suddenly 
the woman recovering from her fear and realiz- 
ing the result if the youth should fail to strangle 
the lord, stole to his side and drew the long 
glittering blade from its sheath and pressed the 
handle in the youth's hand, who grasped it 
tremblingly for life was fast ebbing from him. 
With his last effort, he raised it and plunged its 
curved blade in his old master's breast. Then 
both sank to the floor with the life gone from 
one and fast ebbing from the other. Then 
the woman fled from the house and disappeared. 
Ko one knew where. 

Then came a lapse of many years during 
which the building stood lonely and silent. The 
old butler had never appeared, but some 
believed he would. Strange to say the mis- 
tress had been the only person, who was not 
a Moor, who had seen the interior decorations 
and embellishments of this strange mansion. 
No one except her had gone farther than the 
door and it must have caused much talk and 



50 The Clash of Steel. 

wonder when, one day the doors were seen to 
open and a man, handsomely dressed, come out. 
He must have come during the night for no 
one saw him enter. The shutters were being 
opened and cleaned. The old lock on the gate 
had been turned and allowed the gates to part 
and swing back on their rusty hinges. The 
oak door was being polished the windows 
cleaned and everything was being thoroughly 
renovated. After awhile, the man returned in 
his carriage, drawn by a pair of beautiful black 
horses and embellished with a coat of arms on 
its doors. The coachman who assisted the man 
was dressed in full livery and at the door he 
was met by a valet, dressed as many a courtier 
wished to be. After taking a scrutinizing 
glance at the building, the man entered the 
house followed by his valet. 

The tongues of the neighborhood were set 
wagging. Everybody spoke about the new 
occupant of the "Alhambra" and guessed who 
he might be. His carriage bore an armorial, 
strange indeed, but it sufficed, he was of some 
nobility. His form was good, his face hand- 
some and his eyes bright and sharp, his hair 
and beard black. This the women noticed. His 



A Mysterious Stranger Appears in Paris. 51 

horses were good, his carriage of the latest 
style, his dress up-to-date, his demeanor cold and 
haughty, even to indifference. This the men 
noticed. But no one could come to a conclusion 
as to who he was and from whence he came. 

"Would he come to the opera that night?" 
the women wondered. 

"Would he play at Madame Stilsits?" the 
men hoped. 

All day long the "Alhambra" was being 
placed in a proper state for its new master, but 
strange to say, not a bit of new furniture was 
brought to the house. All day long carriages 
passed by to see the changes and even Napoleon 
himself would have passed, had not etiquette 
placed a restraint on rulers, for so strange a 
thing was it to see that building, which had 
stood vacant for so many years, now occupied 
that it seemed almost a miracle. Then again, 
it brought back recollections of the Moor and 
his murder and assassination. 

Two days passed and the stranger of the 
"Alhambra" did not appear either at the opera 
or at Madame Stilsits; but on the third night 
there was a vacant box at the theater. All eyes 
were directed towards it hoping, that the 



52 The Clash of Steel. 

stranger might appear. Bets were even made 
that he would. The manager being asked if he 
would come said that he did not know, but 
that a servant in livery had bought the box for 
the season and he could not tell whom it was for. 

The curtain was falling on the conclusion of 
the first act and no one had entered the box. 
The audience was impatient to see the owner, 
but he did not come. The curtain arose for the 
next act and for an instant there was darkness 
in the hall, necessitated to form some stage 
effect. When the eyes had become accustomed 
to the gloom, they were turned towards the box. 
It was occupied. A man sat calmly gazing at 
the stage. A general murmur of, "there he is," 
arose in the hall to the annoyance of the actors. 
A valet stood at the door of the box as if he had 
been there all evening. At the conclusion of 
the second act and the hall was again in a blaze; 
every one gazed at the occupant of the box, 
where the stranger sat gazing about him, as if 
nothing unusual were occurring. Every one 
desired to visit him; but no one knew him. 

It happened that Madame de Ebersville and 
a crowd occupied a box near that of the stranger, 
have a plan to gain 



A Mysterious Stranger Appears in Paris. 53 

visit from the stranger." She leaned forward, 
as if intensely studying some face across the hall, 
then as if not noticing what she were doing, 
she let her kerchief fall, directly into the 
stranger's box. She could not resist the tempta- 
tion to look if it had fallen in the right place. 
The crowd seeing her act cheered. The 
stranger picked up the kerchief, handed it to 
his valet with a card and again turned to the 
orchestra. 

The valet presented himself at the door of 
Madame de Ebersville's box and handed her the 
kerchief with a bow. The hall was in an uproar 
of laughter for they knew that all this had been 
done to gain a visit from the stranger. The 
valet handed her the kerchief and card saying, 
"My lord desires a visit tomorrow." 

Although she had not gained what she 
desired, she had received something just as good, 
for now it would be through her that he would 
be introduced into society. Thus musing she 
read the card she held in her hand; "Prince de 
Tristesse." 

In showing the card to the other occupants of 
the box, she held it high enough for the audi- 
ence to see. The laughter subsided. 



54 The Clash of Steel. 

"Prince of Sadness" what a strange name she 
murmured as she handed the card to her husband 
an elderly man while she was still young. 

"You are not going to take advantage of this 
are you?" he asked. 

"Why not," she replied? "It will now be 
through me that he will be introduced into 
society. Do you think that I would lose this 
opportunity? It would be foolish if I did so. 
You will go with me will you not Eugenie" she 
asked tourning towards a young lady who sat in 
the rear of the box. 

"If I should not be intruding Madame I 
would be pleased to accompany you" she 
answered in a soft sweet voice. 



Madame's Visit. 55 



CHAPTER IV. 

MADAME'S VISIT. 

The next afternoon, the carriage of Madame 
de Ebersville drove up in front of the "Alham- 
bra" and Madame and her companion Eugenie 
alighted and mounted the steps. Hardly had 
they reached the alcove, when the door noise- 
lessly swung back and a valet ushered them 
into a parlor, exquisitely decorated with Moorish 
draperies and hangings. On the floor of flesh 
colored, rose marble were heavy rugs into which 
their feet sunk up to the ankles. 

Rich draperies of gold and purple cloths hung 
from the great arch above the doors, which gave 
a pleasing contrast to the almost barren pink 
colored marble walls. Here and there hung 
massive paintings of warm landscape, scenes of 
sunny Spain. In corners stood life size statues 
of nymphs and cupids, carved from the same 
material as the floor and walls and the rosy tints 



56 The Clash of Steel. 

of the figures and their beautifully molded 
forms, gave them almost a life like appearance. 

The high spacious ceilings were embellished 
with figures in exquisite mosaic work. From 
the four corners of the ceiling of the room, 
hung the half body of a nude figure, holding in 
her outstretched hands a lamp, which when lit 
shed a light of wonderful brilliancy throughout 
the room. From a distance, somewhere, they 
could hear the musical ripple and drip of a 
fountain. 

Madame de Ebersville nodded to her com- 
panion. "Is it not wonderful, ~L should like to 
see more," she said. Just then the curtains 
drew apart and the stranger at the opera, of 
the night before, stood in the door-way. "Ah 
Madame, pardon the delay and you Mandamoi- 
selle also." Madame was wondering how he 
knew by what titles to call them and as a 
venture to open the conversation began: 

"It is we who are to be pardoned prince, for 
this is very embarrassing to you, my name is 

"Madame Andreas de Ebersville," interrupted 
the prince. 

"Now that you know me, allow me to intro- 
duce my friend Madamoiselle 



Madame's Visit. 57 

"Eugenie de Veres, daughter of Baron de 
Veres." 

"Correct, but how came you to know us." 

"That is my business, in fact the affair of 
every gentleman who expects a visit in order not 
to create embarrassment. But pray be seated. 
It is indeed to the lucky mishap of the kerchief 
that I owe this visit." 

"It was very distressing to me." 

"Then, but I hope not now. Madamoiselle 
is admiring my paintings." 

"Yes, they are beautiful; such coloring and 
such grace are seldom seen." 

"Yes; the names are on the pictures; but I 
do not know them they are by foreign artists. I 
should have thought that Madame and you 
Madamoiselle Eugenie would have seen them 
before. 

"Prince, you are not acquainted with the his- 
tory of the 'Alhambra' or you would not speak 
that way" interposed the elder lady, "no one 
excepting one has ever placed himself in this 
house who was not a Moor." 

"Ah that is true? I did not know that. So 
the place was hidden from mortal eyes. Well 
it is very strange." 



58 The Clash of Steel. 

"But Monsieur should have known the his- 
tory of this house hefore he bought it." 

"I did not buy it. But as to the Moor's 
history, I am thoroughly acquainted with it." 

Madame de Ebersville was in torture to know 
how the "Alhambra" had come into his posses- 
sion if he had not bought it, but felt that it 
would be too rude to ask. Perhaps if she should 
lead the way he would tell of his own accord. 

"Well if the pleasure of seeing the interior 
of this house has been denied you I shall not be 
like the Moor. I shall conduct you around and 
be pleased to show you through its mysteries and 
its surprises." 

The prince arose and his companions did like- 
wise and holding the curtains apart he led them 
into a sort of hall-way, which divided the build- 
ing into two parts and led them into what ap- 
peared to be a kind of conservatory, for in the 
distance they could see the green of luxurious 
vegetation. The hall was of pure red granite, 
walls, floor, ceiling and all and at every door 
hung heavy maroon draperies, bordered and 
adorned with gold. Directly in front of them 
was a large arched doorway, protected by no cur- 
tains and through this they could see the silvery 



Madame's Visit. 59 

spray of the fountain as it rose and fell into the 
great basin. Nymphs, holding jars in their 
hands, were scattering sprays over the beautiful 
large pond lilies floating in the bowl, while a 
colossal statue of Neptune, waving his hand to 
myriads of life size mermaids, sent a cooling 
refreshment to their armsful of blood red roses. 
On all sides were blossoms emitting delightful 
fragrance. Here, a huge banana tree raised its 
head towards the glass roof as if to be the first to 
reach the rays of the sun; there a modest patch 
of violets bloomed and perfumed the air, narcis- 
sus, daisies, hibiscus, tulips, flowers from every 
country, clime and zone all mingled in a happy 
unison. 

"Oh this is a regular paradise" cried Eugenie 
delighted with the scene before her. 

Next, the prince led them into the dining 
hall, a spacious room in which not a bit of 
marble appeared, for all was of solid oak. A 
long table sat solidly with its lion carved feet 
upon a floor polished into the brilliancy and 
smoothness of a mirror. Heavy oaken chairs, 
to match the table with their soft morocco seats 
and backs, were dispersed throughout the room. 

Directly back of the head of the table, ex- 



60 The Clash of Steel. 

tending out from the walls, Avcre two massive 
heraldic lions grasping between them a large 
shield, now bearing the arms of the Prince of 
Sadness, instead of that of the Moor. All the 
panels of the walls were carved and inlaid with 
darker and lighter wood. 

From here he led them into the library a 
room all of cherry, very plain, with cases of 
books and manuscripts, all bound in cherry 
colored leather, covering the extent of the walls 
from the floor to the ceiling. At one end of the 
room stood a large desk with papers scattered 
about in reckless profusion. They then left the 
library and the prince lifting the curtain, showed 
them into a hall equally as large as the con- 
servatory, the floor of which was of mosaic 
work. 

"This" said the prince "is the -art hall of the 
"Alhambra." 

The walls, up to half their height were per- 
fectly plain polished marble, but. from there on 
up they were one mass of carving, figure after 
figure, design after design, but none alike, ran 
the whole length of the walls and as they 
reached the ceiling became more complicated 
and beautiful. At last in the center, terminat- 



Madame's Visit. 61 

ing into a large beautiful chandelier, hanging 
half way down from the great dome above by 
the arms of sylphs, dragons, nymphs, and satyrs 
in a profusion of a thousand lights. All through 
the hall stood statues and statuettes, some of 
every marble and granite found in the world. 
Here was a Venus de Milo, here a Diana, there 
a Venus and a Cupid. But in the center of the 
room stood the grandest of all. 

"That," said the prince, "is known as the blind 
statue." 

"Oh, it is beautiful, magnificent' 7 cried both 
the women in one voice. 

It was a group with the central figure that of 
a beautiful Greek slave girl, ready for the bath 
and her form was molded from the most beauti- 
ful flesh colored marble while near her, in splen- 
did contrast, were two kneeling black waiting 
maids, shaped from the blackest of marble. 

"All is perfect but the eyes of the bather," 
exclaimed Madame de Ebersville. 

"That is partially why it is called the blind 
statue. The carver of this grand work, had al- 
most finished his task, when one day while work- 
ing with his chisel a piece of marble struck him 
in the eye. It totally disabled the one optic and 



61 The Clash of Steel. 

the other was so sensitive to the effect, that slowly 
it began to dim. The poor sculptor toiled day 
and night so as to finish before he should be 
totally blind. Xot a moment's rest would he 
take. All was finished to the eyes of that beau- 
tiful figure when, his sight vanished and under 
the strain he died at the feet of the creation he 
had given every attribute of outward seeming, 
save the "window of the soul." If Madame will 
come soon again and you also Madamoiselle, I 
will be pleased to show you the rest of the house, 
but now we will withdraw to the parlor and be 
served and over the tea-cup I will tell you how 
I came to be the possessor of the "Alhambra." 

They returned to the parlor and hardly had 
they entered when they were waited on by a 
servant in full livery. 

"Oh do tell us how this paradise came into 
your possession." 

"Well, it came about in this way. It is a 
strange tale. I was traveling in southern Spain 
and in an out of the way place, near Granada, 
I came upon an old gray-haired man lying on 
the ground. Thinking him asleep I passed by 
very lightly, in order not to disturb him. But 
some strange feeling possessed me and I returned 



Madame's Visit. 63 

and saw that it was not a natural sleep that held 
him so still and that he had fainted. Placing 
my flask of liquor to his lips and forcing a few 
drops into his mouth, he after awhile opened his 
eyes and gazed about him. He thanked me 
with great vehemence and after he gained 
enough strength began a rambling conversation. 
Then he related to me how his master, a Moor 
of royal blood, had taken the idea into his head 
to go to some foreign land and build a palace 
and there live a life of luxury. 

The poor old man was forced to go with him. 
Then he told of the tragedy and how after it 
was all over he had taken the keys, left the 
house just as it was and had wandered back 
without any funds, excepting what he had on 
his person and they were soon exhausted, for he 
would not touch anything in the polluted house. 
Then he told how at last he had reached the 
sunny shores of Spain to die in his native land 
and now that he was there, all was over, but to 
relieve himself of a burden and that was to rid 
himself of this place in France. Then he 
handed me a key from beneath his gown and 
told me the exact location of the "Alhambra" 
and said that whoever possessed the knowledge 



64 The Clash of Steel. 

of a secret hiding place, in the building, would 
then become possessor of the palace. As he was 
fast sinking and as no one, excepting the Moor 
and himself had known of the place, he told me 
of it." 

"So you did not buy the palace?" said Ma- 
dame de Ebersville. 

"Yes Madame, I purchased it at the price of 
a decent burial." 

"Prince, you are strange; you have told us 
nothing but sad tales" said Eugenie. 

"Madamoiselle oftentimes circumstances and 
surroundings force us into moods of melancholy 
or happiness. But as the "Alhambra" seems to 
be a fated place and as you desired to know its 
history, probably that was conducive to the 
mood." 

"As the prince has been so kind in showing 
us into the mysteries, which so few have seen, 
I feel it my duty to introduce him into society 
and at the court." 

"Into society perhaps Madame, but not at 
court." 

"Ah I thought the name you have was as- 
sumed." 

"You have guessed correctly and if I should 



Madame's Visit. 65 

go to court I would have to lay aside my pseu- 
donym and that I do not wish to do." 

''But nevertheless that will not prevent me 
introducing you at Madame Stilsits, who has 
many friends, who visit her daily. Gaming 
goes on the whole night through and all the lat- 
est news is there discussed and all gossip is 
brought to view." 

"That will suit me greatly. As for playing I 
can play but little as Madame will see and as for 
gossip I talk little, but hear much; so it will 
pjease me any time." 

"Let me see, this is Wednesday; will Friday 
suit?" 

"With pleasure." 

"So be it then. Come Eugenie, it is growing 
late. Au revoir prince, your name suits you." 

"An revoir Madame until Friday, and you 
Madamoiselle, will you be \vith us?" 

"Yes I shall come too. Au revoir." 

Madame de Ebersville and Eugenie entered 
the carriage and drove away. 

"What a beautiful house" said Eugenie. 

"Yes, and what a beautiful man." 

"He is indeed strange, so obliging and still so 
cold and indifferent. He will make quite a stir 



66 The Clash of Steel. 

ft 

at Madame Stilsits, and to think that it is you 
who will introduce him; but may he not lose 
too much in her place there?" 

"That is his own look out. He cannot blame 
me if he loses. I will have done my part but 
here we are" and they both alighted from the 
carriage at Madame de Ebersville's home. 



Madame Makes An Agreement. 67 



CHAPTER V: 

MADA'ME MAKES AN AGREEMENT. 

The next evening the prince occupied his box 
at the opera and Madame and Eugenie occupied 
theirs also. Monsieur Le Baron de Ebersville 
was not present. The beauty of the "Alham- 
bra" had reached many ears, of course through 
the channel which was only open and that was 
Madame de Ebersville, and every one sat gazing 
at the master of such a palace, which was finer 
than that of the Emperor. The curtain had 
fallen on the first act when Madame turned to 
Eugenie: "I should be pleased to receive the 
prince in our box and you Eugenie, would it 
please you?" 

The color in Eugenie's face expressed her 
sentiments more eloquently than her meek "yes." 
Hardly had they spoken, when the door opened 
and the prince entered. 



68 The Clash of Steel. 

"Madame, I should hope that I am not intrud- 
ing." 

"Not in the least; we are always pleased to 
see your Grace. But the play, does it suit your 
taste?" 

"Very much so. I am delighted with your 
French renditions. Why so pensive Madam- 
oiselle; are you in love or contemplating mar- 
riage? Love is but the prelude to marriage as 
the first act to a tragedy. Shun the prelude and 
the play will cease." 

"Why prince to hear you speak one should 
think that you have been disappointed in love?" 

"Perhaps, Madame. But the bards of old and 
the bards of today have painted only the beauti- 
ful side of love. They have only pictured it 
as a pathway of beautiful flowers, emitting a 
pleasing perfume. The sky overhead in their 
dreams is pure ethereal blue, the sun shines 
bright and laughs on the lovers' journey, as they 
wander hand in hand. But the romanciers and 
the tragedians' pen, pictures it oftentimes in a 
truer light. Joy and pain follow closely on each 
others heels and fight a battle royal for su- 
premacy. But as a general thing pain conquers 
and joy falls by the wayside. The path in the 



Madame Makes An Agreement. 69 

romance and tragedy is often covered with, 
thistles and thorns, then stretches of barren sand, 
the sky is dark and the sun is obscured by black 
ominous clouds; only now and then appears a 
ray of brightness through the rain drops of 
tears." 

"Oh prince, the play has led you into this 
mood. You must cast it off even if it is becom- 
ing to you." 

"My name Madame, signifies my disposition." 

Eugenie was occupied gazing at the audience. 

"But the Baron, why is he not here tonight 
Madame?" asked the prince in an undertone. 

"He is ill." 

"Seriously?" 

"No, only a fit of indisposition caused by " 

"Reverses," he says. 

"Prince you are indeed plain spoken. What 
do you mean?" 

"Only that Monsieur le Baron has speculated 
and lost." 

"But how came you to know?" 

"There are oftentimes things which it is ones 
duty to know." 

"But if this should get out? Prince I speak 
frankly with you, for I feel that I can trust you. 



yo The Clash of Steel. 

Monsieur le Baron has speculated. Last even- 
ing when I returned from your house I found 
him sitting alone in deep thought. I could see 
that something had occurred. He would not 
tell me at first, but after awhile he told me the 
exact state of affairs. He had speculated in 
silks and today had lost. This has not been his 
first reverse. Steadily has fortune turned 
against him, until hoping to gain back all, he 
staked everything today. He has lost. We 
are ruined, utterly ruined. Tomorrow a vast 
sum is due, if we get no renewal and the news 
of our loss gets noised around we shall be lost." 

"Madame there is no poison for which there 
is not an antidote, nor an evil for which there is 
not a remedy. All is not lost." 

"What do you mean? I cannot understand 
you." 

"I mean this, Madame, that you will get a 
renewal tomorrow, only follow my dictates and 
answer my questions. Is the man to whom your 
husband is indebted in this house?" 

"Yes in one of the boxes." 

"That is good, all will be well." 

"I do not understand." 

"He will not hear of the failure this afternoon. 



Madame Makes An Agreement. 71 

]\Iy presence in your box will make him feel 
secure and he would give much to make my 
acquaintance; is it not so?" 

"It is, I spoke to some of his family today. 
But how did you know?" 

"As to that I will not speak, but now to make 
things more secure I shall give to you a box, 
which when you see him looking directly at us 
and of course at some proper time in the play, 
you will throw it at the feet of the prima donna;" 
and with this from his pocket he took a pale 
blue plush box and handed it to her as he opened 
it. 

"!N"o no" cried Madame "I cannot think of 
it." 

"But you must. Still the game is not yet 
played. Do not think you can never repay me 
for you can." 

"No I could never repay you." 

"Yes. You are in a favorable position at 
court." 

"Yes." 

"In fact the Empress is- confidential to a cer- 
tain extent." 

"You are wonderful, you know everything." 

"Not everything, there are still things I de- 



yi The Clash of Steel. 

sire to know and following Cicero's adage of: 
"whenever you desire to find out a secret go to 
the man's mistress;" in this case it is his wife. 
There are things I desire to know. In that way 
you can repay me." 

"You are then a spy?" 

"Perhaps." 

"And you want me to be one also." 

"Not necessarily." 

"I cannot. It would be wrong." 

"Madame, it is hard to lose one's position." 

"But you give us only a temporary relief." 

"I told you that the game was not yet finished. 
Tomorrow night we go to Madame Stilsits. I 
shall play and you shall play also." 

"But if I lose." 

"Madame will not lose. Come, now is the 
time." 

"I cannot. I cannot." 

"It is hard to fail. Now or all will be lost." 

The prima donna had just finished a pretty 
love pleading. Madame de Ebersville arose in 
the box and all eyes were turned upon her. For 
a moment she paused as if hesitating, then she 
tossed the blue box at the feet of the prima 
donna. There was a burst of applause from the 



Madame Makes An Agreement. 73 

audience. The die had been cast. A smile 
spread about the prince's lips as he whispered 
"well done, he was looking directly at you." 

Then a breath of silence spread over the house 
as the prima donna stooped to pick up the box 
and opening it she drew forth a beautiful neck- 
lace of diamonds formed into three strands and 
terminating at the center into a beautiful cluster, 
which sparkled in the brilliant light with daz- 
zling fire. Then she turned, after clasping the 
necklace about her neck and in her best effort 
sang the song again, facing the Madame's box. 
But Madame seemed not to hear it. Her face 
was as white as her dress and beads of perspira- 
tion were standing on her forehead. 

"What an awful power had this man," she 
was wondering and the burst of applause from 
the audience at the conclusion of the song awoke 
her from her revery and she applauded with the 
rest. 

All through the rest of the performance, Ma- 
dame sat as in a dream. She then only realized 
the power of this man who had disguised him- 
self as the Prince of Sadness and the contract 
she had entered upon, but then she calmed her- 
self by the thought, that it was for the best. 



74 The Clash of Steel. 

The prince was conversing with Eugenie whose 
beaming face plainly showed the pleasure his 
attentions gave her. To Eugenie he gave the 
explanation, that he himself had intended to give 
the necklase to the prima donna but thought the 
latter course the best. Any explanation would 
have sufficed with Eugenie, for anything he 
might do was correct in her eyes. 

At last the performance was concluded and the 
prince assisted them into their carriage and wish- 
ing them a safe journey, he turned away with a 
smile on his face. 

"No Madame; the game is not yet played. 
It has just begun. Tomorrow night you will 
win and you are mine." Then he was driven to 
the "Alhambra" where he was met by his gray- 
headed valet. 

"Gaston have everything in preparation to 
leave in a day or so. We shall soon leave Paris 
for awhile." 

"Monsieur, a message for you," and the valet 
handed him a sealed letter which the prince hast- 
ily read. 

"It is true; Napoleon is pushing on to Russia. 
Fleur de Lis." 

Madame de Ebersville's carriage was whirling 



Madame Makes An Agreement. 75 

over the pavements towards the home of Eu- 
genie. Both the occupants sat in silence, in 
thought. Both debating, one with herself, the 
other with fortune. Madame saw only the 
prince's smile of victory, while Eugenie heard 
only his kind polished words. Madame knew 
that her husband would hear of her actions at 
the opera and knew that she would have to 
give an explanation. What should it be? 
Well she would tell him all. ISTo, that would 
not do she was a spy and her husband in the 
good graces of jSTapoleon's favor. She would 
only tell him that it was the prince, who assisted 
her and instead of him giving the necklace to 
the actress as he had intended to do, he had given 
it to her, merely as an honor. She still had some 
money of her own left, if she lost that little, 
that would not amount to much, while on the 
other hand if she won, something might still be 
regained. Well at any rate the stake was large 
and she must meet it. Then either victory and 
the recovery of position or loss and failure. At 
any rate the game was begun and must be played 
to its end. 

"Love is but the prelude to marriage as the 
first act to a tragedy. Shun the prelude and the 



76 The Clash of Steel 

play will cease," was rumbling in Eugenie's ears. 
She heard it in the noise of the wheels and in 
the sigh of the wind. "Is he not right," she 
asked herself. "What is love but the ticket of 
the lottery of marriage. The prize great, the 
price at first small then at last greater until 
finally disastrous failure, if no winning is made? 
Love is but a game of chance and like all games 
it is fascinating. If once we lose, we play on to 
win back what we have lost. If we win a little 
at first, we play on to win more. .The time to 
stop is at its beginning, but we rush on and chase 
the ignus fatus of success. Brother tramples 
on brother, friend strikes friend, neighbor battles 
with neighbor, in their mad rush like moths to- 
wards that flame of success. We say no and an 
inward voice says yes, so we battle with our- 
selves, the voices raise themselves in a clamorous 
deafening din, but in the midst of it all we rush 
on and some escape the blaze of love, others pass 
through it purged and successful, while the most 
fall and linger in the agony of despair." "No" 
said the thoughts of Eugenie. "Yes," said the 
inward voice, then began the battle and she 
rushed on, while the carriage stopped at the door 
of her home and she alighted. 



Madame Makes An Agreement. 77 

"Tomorrow night?" asked Madame, aroused 
from her thoughts. 

"Yes" answered Eugenie meekly, amidst tho 
din of the inward battle. "Yes" thought sho 
"'I like the rest shall rush on and if I fall there 
are many before me who have done the same." 



78 The Clash of Steel. 



CHAPTEK VI. 

THE CARDINAL'S CAMEO. 

Madame Stilsits' house, as referred to before, 
was the rendezvous of the upper class of aris- 
tocrary, where they would assemble and pass the 
time away at gaming and rioting. Many a 
scandal had its germ planted there and many the 
fortunes that had been lost and won over the 
tables. Duels, the outcome of scandal, were 
frequent, suicide had its share, but all would 
be so skillfully covered and concealed that sel- 
dom the outside world knew of them. Glasses 
would clink after the games were finished. 
Loser drank with winner, bankrupt with million- 
aire, the one perhaps moody, silent and melan- 
choly, the other joyous, happy and content. 

Princes, Barons, Dukes, men and women of 
rank assembled here and shuffled the paste- 
boards, played the colors, or rolled the dice and 
either won or lost. Generals, marshals, captains, 



The Cardinal's Cameo. 79 

all frequented this place and gossip and rumor 
.held high sway. No one or no action was let 
pass by without some remark. The latest topic 
and it had the honor of having more discussion 
than any since the Emperor's marriage, was the 
appearance of the Prince de Tristesse, the 
strange occupant of the mysterious "Alhambra" 
and on this evening all were in expectation, for 
it was announced that he would appear. The 
gamesters lacked interest in the play and the 
betting was light ; all had their eyes on the door 
when any one was announced. Madame de 
Ebersville had not yet begun to play but sat 
nervously picking at her fan, for it was by her 
he was to be introduced. M. le Baron was not 
there but Eugenie was by her side, closely 
watching the curtains of the doorway, but Ma- 
dame was too much engrossed in hei own 
thoughts to notice the battle which Engenie was 
waging in her heart. 

At last there was a rumble of wheels outside 
as a carriage drove up the road leading to the 
entrance and a short time after, the porter at 
the door, called out "Le Prince de Tristesse" and 
all arose, something which had never happened 
before. Madame advanced to the door-way as 



8o The Clash of Steel. 

the curtains were drawn aside and the prince 
dressed in faultless black, advanced and extended 
his hand to her. 

"I hope that I am not late" he said in his 
musical voice. 

" 'It is never late at Madame Stilsits" is our 
motto Monsieur, but come and I shall introduce 

you." 

He was then introduced to the company and 
created quite a sensation by his ready wit and 
his acquaintance and reference to each one's 
title and bits of history. Eugenie was seated at 
the end of the room nervously playing with her 
fan, her large gray eyes following the prince 
about the room. "No" echoed the inward 
voice but it was drowned out by the shrill "yes" 
which was sounding in her mind. The battle 
was at its height. The prince was now ap- 
proaching in her direction. 

"Ah Madamoiselle you have come, I am de- 
lighted with my reception, such galantry and 
beauty have seldom done me honor before." 

"Prince of Sadness as you style yourself you 
must be mistaken," said Madamoiselle, "for if 
I err not there are all ranks and oftentimes the 



The Cardinal's Cameo. 81 

best classes present at your fancied court of 
sadness." 

"You are right in that respect, for at that 
court all classes have their places. On the right 
hand is a pauper who looks across at the king or 
queen on the left and amidst sighs says; "I am 
not happy, why am I not like him, he has luxury, 
wealth and plenty," while the nobility on their 
part look over and say, "Look at that pauper, no 
wealth to worry him, no diplomatic schemes to 
follow, look at his healthy body and mind; why 
am I not like him?" There the disappointed fall 
with their burden and the unhappy sink beneath 
its weight and ask for rest. Have you ever 
stopped to think how few times in the seventy 
years, that are allotted to man, that he can say 
'now I am truly happy?' The young wish to 
have the experience of years upon them and old 
age prays and sighs for the buoyant grace and 
steps of his youth."* 

"But what consolation does the Prince of Sad- 
ness give these poor wretches who can find no 
rest?" asked Eugenie. 

"None, none at all, and were I to give con- 
solation and advice they would not follow it, 



82 The Clash of Steel. 

they would say 'my malady is incurable, I am 
doomed and must submit to its ravings.' ' 

"Come come" said Madame "this is not the 
time or place to preach a sermon." 

"True we must game. Eugenie do you not 
play?" 

"No I find more pleasure by looking on." 

"That is right, watch the fire but do not step 
too closely or pick up the glowing coal to "view 
its beauty or try to solve its mystery. Then it 
will not harm you, but take care do not look at 
it too much or too long, lest it dazzle and blind 
your eyes. But Madame a word with you ere 
we go to the tables" and he and Madame walked 
arm in arm towards the other room. 

"You have money?" he asked. 

"Some." 

"How much?" 

"About 6,000 francs. 

"That will do. Stake high every other time 
I deal, take no chances at other times." 

They entered the room and accepted places 
which brought them directly opposite. The 
deal was to the Prince's right two players, the 
cards were dealt, the bets were made and the 
player next to him won. His turn came to deal 



The Cardinal's Cameo. 83 

but the betting was light and only small sums 
were staked. Next the prince dealt. A player 
several seats to his left drew a king, that 
amounted to seven points, the man next to him 
also drew a king and both bet high. The banker 
who was of course the prince bet double the 
amount. It was becoming interesting. Neither 
of the two opponents drew cards while the prince 
did. Then came the decision, both opponents 
had seven points, the card the prince drew made 
his seven and a half and he won. So the game 
progressed and so it came his deal again. Ma- 
dame staked high against three opponents and 
won a nice sum. The game was steadily increas- 
ing in interest, both Madame and the prince 
waging small sums, when any one else dealt. 

Once Madame was given a king amounting to 
seven. She staked high and was met by several 
other players. She drew no cards the second 
deal and some one held seven and a half so 
consequently she lost. The prince's eyes flashed 
fire as his met her's and she understood. After 
that she followed his instructions more explicitly 
and when the game was finished she had won a 
good round sum. 

Then they wandered back to the ante chamber 



84 The Clash of Steel. 

and on the way Madame said "yon are indeed 
strange, prince bnt I feel that I have done 
wrongly." 

"Why, may I ask." 

"Well to play." 

"Has Madame never played before?" 

"Yes er bnt " 

"You are wondering how you came to win 
every time I dealt?" 

"To be frank yes." 

"The Prince of Sadness has magic in his 
touch. Did the players distrust me? No, then 
why should you?" 

"Well enough of this but you are too kind 
to me." 

"Not at all, you shall amply repay me. The 
Emperor is now moving on to Russia." 

"How do you know." 

"Details are too long. But what I want to 
know is for what reason. You can learn the 
reason for me can you not?" 

"I am a spy." 

"No Madame only a debtor paying a debt." 

"Well then if I can find out you shall know 
tomorrow night. But where?" 



The Cardinal's Cameo. 85 

"Here. You have not jet met all your hus- 
band's reverses, we shall play some more." 

The news of Madame's winnings had come to 
the ears of her husband and as answer to his 
questions she turned over the sum to him. 
Well, at this stage of his financial state it made 
little difference where the money came from and 
besides it was considered no wrong to gamble 
and Madame attributed her winnings to a phe- 
nomenal run of luck. Although in her own 
mind she had wished herself out of the bargain 
a thousand times, for she saw the prince's hold 
becoming tighter upon her, but now that she 
had once started she must make the best of it. 
The renewal had been given, thanks to the 
prince's presence in the box and the plan of the 
gift to the prima donna. 

The next night she and Eugenie were again 
at Madame Stilsits anxiously waiting for the 
prince to come. She had spent the greater part 
of the afternoon with the Empress and had 
gained the information she desired. The in- 
ward voice of Eugenie had been almost silenced 
and she had gradually surrendered to the malady 
that was preying on her heart. 

At last the prince came. As he entered the 



86 The Clash of Steel. 

room his eyes met with those of a certain captain 
who was leaning on the back of a chair, convers- 
ing with the wife of his general. The prince's 
face brightened while that of the captain's be- 
came clouded as if some uncertainty of convic- 
tion still remained in his mind as to whether he 
had seen the prince's face before. The prince 
then approached Madame and Eugenie and ex- 
tended to them his greeting. The captain saun- 
tered closer and his eyes seemed never to leave 
the prince's face. The subject on which Ma- 
dame and Eugenie had been conversing was 
jewelry and as the prince approached Madame 
said, "we have just been trying to decide whether 
or not my theory of that one can tell one's dis- 
position by the jewelry one wears, is true or not." 

"Pray explain yourself Madame and let me 
be your judge." 

"Well I claim that one can read the tempera- 
ment and disposition of a person by the jewelry 
or the kind of jewelry one most admires. For 
instance take our hostess, she is fond of opals, 
they flash fire, are brilliant, mysterious and gay ; 
is she not all of that? Then, Eugenie here, her 
favorite jewels are rubies and pearls, they are 
so deep and burning in one respect, but do not 



The Cardinal's Cameo. 87 

give out any fire, and pearls are always the sig- 
nificant of tears, silent and lasting. While you 
prince wear no jewelry whatever that I have 
noticed, excepting- that cameo on the little finger. 
It is the head of a warrior, and from it I should 
read you as reserved, melancholy, and by the 
figure still a lover of a fair fight." 

"Madame has a good theory and in most cases 
it holds good. As for you admiring this cameo, 
you are not the first to do so. Kings, emperors, 
queens and nobles of all rank have tried to pur- 
chase it or to solve its secret. There is also a 
history connected with it that makes it doubly 
valuable. 

One day there came to the shop of an alchem- 
ist, here in the heart of your beautiful city, a 
man of ordinary dress and requested of the chem- 
ist that he form a drug that would be deadly 
poison, but in such a form that it would, before 
being dissolved, appear as a gem, and secondly, 
that there should be no traces of poison left in 
the stomach or blood of the victim." The man 
offered a vast reward and the chemist devoted all 
his time to this one end. Day and night he 
labored without success and one midnight, after 
failure after failure, as he was despairing and had 



88 The Clash of Steel. 

almost decided to take the virus he had just 
prepared from many acids and poisons, a drop 
from a retort over the table fell into the paste 
he was mixing. Out of despair he tried the new 
mixture on some animals which he kept for that 
purpose and to his astonishment it was the very 
poison he had sought for so long. But as that, 
one drop, which completed his compound had 
fallen from one or perhaps several of the retorts, 
above the table, he knew not its composition, 
but the poison was his. He then moulded it 
into a cameo and when the man came again it 
was given to him for a vast sum after a trial of 
its strength. The chemist never knew the iden- 
tity of the man to whom he had sold the poison- 
ous ring. But some years later, the ring was 
found on the hand of the dead statesman and 
priest, who had lived through one whole intri- 
gue and plot, the Cardinal Armond de Richelieu. 
Several years ago it came into my possession and 
I have worn it ever since, more as a curiosity 
than a precaution." 

"That is indeed strange, but how does it 
work,'' asked Madame. 

"By a spring here at the side the set is forced 
from its place. But come I see they are form- 
ing a game." 



The Cardinal's Cameo. 89 

The captain had advanced to inform them 
that they were making a set to play. 

"Allow me" said Madame "to introduce to 
you, prince, the Captain Moran of Napoleon's 
own guard." 

"We have met before, have we not, but under 
a different name?" asked the captain fastening 
his eyes firmly on those of the prince, but no 
change was perceptible as the prince answered. 

"Perhaps, but at any rate if an old acquaint- 
ance I am pleased to renew it, and if new, I am 
happy to begin it" and they went on to the 
tables while the prince murmured to himself: 
"sacre, I did not think he would remember 
Mario; he is still uncertain." 

All began gaming and the bets that night were 
unusually large. The prince was quiet and 
several times he seemed to awaken from reveries 
when addressed. What plan was he now re- 
volving in his mind? The captain lost steadily 
when the prince dealt and Madame won con- 
tinually. The captain's loss was already counted 
by the thousand francs, while Madame's gain 
was that and far more and "when the game 
stopped,, the captain was moody and showed his 
heavy "loss, for in fact he was bankrupt and 



90 The Clash of Steel. 

many others at the table were heavy losers, the 
prince losing about a thousand francs and Ma- 
dame's winnings were something unheard of 
before at Madame Stilsits'. 

When they stopped gaming they grouped 
about in small companies and refreshments were 
served. Madame did not seem joyous over her 
winnings and the captain had almost ceased to 
talk and sat brooding. The wine was passed 
and it so happened, that there were not enough 
glasses by one, on the tray which the waiter had 
brought for the group where the prince and the 
captain sat, and it also happened, that it was the 
captain who was not served. Madame was look- 
ing directly at the prince, she saw the lines in 
his face set firm, the steely glitter in his eye was 
brighter than usual. "What was he doing? She 
saw the cameo slip from its setting in the ring 
and fall lightly into the blood red wine. There 
was but one bubble and the deadly poison was 
dissolved. 

"What is he going to do" thought she spell- 
bound. 

"Here captain, heavy losers should drown 
their sorrows first." Madame was in agony, it 
was going too far she would cry out and de- 



The Cardinal's Cameo. 91 

nounce him. No she could not do that. That 
would only be denouncing herself. She must 
calmly sit by and see that man poisoned. 

"No, I shall be served soon" Madame heard, 
as in a dream the captain say. But the prince 
had no turning back now. 

"I deem it an honor, for who serves Napoleon 
is with me an equal and a compatriot, even if I 
do not take the field as you do. Thereby do me 
the honor accept it and I will offer a toast. 

Here's to the bowl of nectar sweet 

Around which again, old friendships meet. 

Heap high its rim with laurel leaf 

And though our meeting here be brief, 

This hour's remembrance shall linger still, 

As the ivy clings to the mouldering mill. 

And though our joy and wassail be not long 

For what is life but a short sad song; 

Its notes now shrill and loud now but a sad refrain; 

Let's bump, for who knows when we will meet again. 

Then think not of the morrow's dawn or set, 

We're glad to meet again and part with a regret." 

Without suspicion the captain accepted the 
;lass just as the servant brought one to the 
prince. Madame could not drink her's, there 
was an awful lump in her throat and her mind 
was whirling. The captain raised the glass to 



92 The Clash of Steel. 

liis lips, a few inarticulate cries broke from 
Madame and she sank unconscious to the floor 
and in so doing knocked the glass from the cap- 
tain's hand and shattered it on the floor. Stim- 
ulants were supplied and Madame gradually 
came to, looking about her with a wild stare. The 
prince came forward and leaning on his and 
Eugenie's arms they led her to the carriage and 
the prince accompanied them on their journey 
home ordering his own vehicle to follow. 



Madame Speculates. 93 



CHAPTER YH. 

MADAME SPECULATES. 

M adame's nerves had received a severe shock 
but it gradually wore away. It all seemed to 
her like some horrible dream, for there beside 
her in the carriage was the prince, so attentive 
and soothing her with pleasing words. She 
could hardly believe what had happened and as 
if to convince herself, she glanced at the prince's 
hand; which in the excitement of assisting her 
to the coach he had neglected to glove. Sure 
enough there was the ring without its cameo 
set. Again that horrible scene rushed before 
her eyes. 

"Prince your cameo is missing," she meekly 
said in an undertone for her head was resting 
on his shoulder and the noise of the wheels made 
her voice inaudible to Eugenie. 

"Jewelry like poisons are sometimes worth- 
less. But how is Madame now?" 



94 The Clash of Steel. 

"Much better. The captain is he well?" 

"Perfectly, you are a good doctor." This was 
all the reference made to the affair. 

"Madame has made a big winning tonight. 
But the debts are not yet paid." 

"Prince, I shall never again enter Madame 
Stilsits." 

"That is not necessary. Madame will do well 
by buying silks tomorrow. Buy at nine in the 
morning as much as you have won tonight and 
sell at two in the afternoon." 

"What do you mean?" 

"I mean that you should buy all the silks avail- 
able and you can buy much for now they are 
Very low, but sell promptly at two in the after- 
noon at the highest price. But the reason of 
Napoleon's visit into Russia, what does he 
mean?" 

"I visited the Empress this afternoon." 

"Yes." 

"She wondered at my strange acquaintance at 
the "Alhambra." 

"I knew that." 

So the plot was thickening. Madame could 
not now play him false for she saw by his last 
remark that there must be another source from 



Madame Speculates. 95 

which he also gained information, probably a 
spy watching a spy. 

"In the course of the conversation I learned 
that Napoleon's main reason was to conquer 
Alexander because" 

"He loves Josephine and Napoleon is jealous 
even with his new love." 

"I also learned that he shall march on and 
take all the cities, ending with Moscow, which 
will place the entire country in his power." 

Then a silence. 

"I may soon leave Paris." 

"So soon?" came to Eugenie's ears as the 
horses had slackened into a walk. She did not 
know that they had been conversing. 

"I have business somewhere else." 

"And in the meantime?" 

"If you gain news of any movements, a mes- 
sage to the "Alhambra will reach me," pursued 
the two not noticing that the brougham did not 
make enough noise to completely drown their 
voices. 

A suspicion was dawning upon Eugenie's 
mind. Either Madame was faithless to her hus- 
band, an old ill-humored man or there may be 
something deeper. "No, it could not be either," 



96 The Clash of Steel. 

she thought "Madame is the soul of honor 
and the prince is the same." The inward voice 
could not be heard. Eugenie was rushing on at 
a tremendous rate and even if she thought, that 
she was mistaken nevertheless the suspicion re- 
mained. "He is going away? Where? To 
some mistress?" She had never thought of that 
before. Her love had grown so strong for him 
that she had not even given it a thought, that he 
might care for some one else. Then besides he 
had never encouraged her, rather the opposite. 
"Love is but the prelude to marriage as the first 
act to a tragedy, shun the prelude and the play 
will cease." He posed as a single man, but may 
he not even be married for all she knew. "No, 
he is honorable, it cannot be, but still he is going 
away. Where ?" Suspicion, to lovers is the rack 
of the inquisition of love and it tortured and rent 
the fibers of her brain until she felt that she 
would go mad. The carriage stopped at Ma- 
dame's and they entered the house after making 
an engagement with the prince. 

The next morning, through her lawyer, a poor 
struggling honest young man, who had inces- 
santly tried to get into the good graces of Eu- 
genie's favor and Madame was not at all adverse 



Madame Speculates. 97 

to this, but had so far failed completely, bought 
up all the available silks and that was much, for 
the market was stocked with silks and the price 
was at a fabuously low ebb. He went about 
it in a quiet way and in an hour had bought over 
thirty thousand francs worth of the fabric, when 
suddenly there was a rush. 

The price of silks immediately jumped to 
twice its former station, then three times as 
much and steadily advanced. He at first won- 
dered at Madame's strange actions but he was 
told with such force to buy all the available silks, 
as if she doubted if he w r ould explicitly follow 
her dictates, for he had tried to dissuade her 
when she informed him of his mission. Know- 
ing his kindly feeling towards her, she thought 
that he may only invest a small amount in order, 
as he thought, to save the rest for her. But now 
that the order's were so forcibly impressed upon 
his mind, he went ahead as she had bid him, but 
not without hesitancy. 

Madame did not for one moment mistrust the 
prince's counsel, for she felt that he had dealt 
squarely with her and would not betray so valu- 
able a tool. Steadily the price of silks went up. 
Jean congratulated himself that he had invested 



98 The Clash of Steel. 

the whole sum and had not followed his first im- 
pulse. At noon the stock suddenly came to a 
standstill and he drove pell mell to Madame. 

"Madame," he shouted as he rushed into the 
house, "the stock is at a stand. Your instruc- 
tions were not to sell until two precisely. My 
advice is to sell without delay." Madame was 
wavering. 

"Perhaps it would be best?" she half asked 
herself. Then the remembrance of the conver- 
sation with the prince came back to her and she 
was again firm. "No, wait until two. Not a 
moment sooner." 

"Madame has heard my advice; you run your 
own risk." 

"It is my own money invested and if I lose, 
it is my own money lost, you will get your fee 
the same." 

"Oh Madame you have grossly misjudged 
me. It was not for my fee that I thought, it was 

only your own welfare and that of " he 

hesitated. 

"Of Eugenie" Madame finished. Pardon 
me, my words were hasty and as far as Eugenie 
is concerned, you know how my feelings are 
toward you, but it seems of no avail." 

"Not until then?" 



Madame Speculates. 99 

"Not until two." 

"But if the stock begins to decline." 

"Not until two." 

He came back and on the way he met a friend 
who rushed up to him exclaiming: "Silks are 
still going up, up, up, it seems as though they 
will never stop, why, the paper published an 
account this morning, directly after you bought 
the silks, that Le Prince de Tristesse had invested 
a fortune and that he had received word from a 
reliable source, that silks would rise higher than 
they had ever before. A reporter had seen the 
letter on the prince's desk with his own eyes." 

Higher and higher the price arose until by two 
o'clock they had reached a stage unheard of be- 
fore. Buyers were plentiful, but sellers few. 
Those who had stock would not sell. Precisely 
at two, Jean sold the entire amount and not a 
moment too soon, for the silks began to decline 
as speadily as they had risen, until at midnight 
they were back again to their first price, or very 
near it. Madame had gained a fortune, which 
far exceeded the one her husband had lost on 
the same article. Those who did not sell, lost 
and those who did not buy early in the day, lost 
vast amounts of money. 



ioo The Clash of Steel. 

That evening Madame, Engenie and a gather- 
ing of friends assembled at the "Alhambra" and 
viewed again its beauties and its mysteries. The 
prince met Madame with a smile, "You made a 
fortune this morning did you not?" 

"Yes thanks to your advice. But how did 
you know all beforehand?" 

"Nothing was easier it is very simple. The 
people are interested it seems, intensely inter- 
ested in Le Prince de Tristesse, is it not so?" 

"They are." 

"Because I am rich, strange and mysterious." 

"Yes." 

"Well, I am daily beset by reporters and tale- 
bearers until I have closed my doors against 
them. Well yesterday one visited me, a letter 
was on my desk, presumably addressed to me, 
telling me to buy all silk possible as there would 
be a great jump in the price. Reporters' eyes 
are for their papers, this one saw the dispatch, 
just what I wanted, while I of course was oc- 
cupied. He read it, his eyes bulged, he fidgeted 
in his chair to get away. Finally I gave him 
my attention, then seeing the dispatch, I quickly 
tore it into fragments as though it were for no 
one but myself to see. Then I kept him occu- 



Madame Speculates. 101 

pied long enough until I was certain that he 
would have no time to invest what little money 
he might have saved. And then it was all over. 
His paper gave an account how the Prince de 
Tristesse had received a dispatch, then there was 
a rush for the stock with the result. But come, 
let us mingle with the crowd, the next dance is 
about to begin and I must find Engenie. 



IO2 The Clash of Steel. 



CHAPTEE vrn. 

LOVE OR DUTY. 

The "Alhambra" was ablaze with light, its 
chandeliers were sparkling and glittering and 
the sweet strains of music swelled and died 
throughout the grand reception room of pure 
white marble. The musical tinkle of the foun- 
tain echoed through the hall a pleasant accom- 
paniment. Gracefully the dancers swayed and 
glided in perfect rythm with the music of the 
hidden orchestra. Eugenie, leaning lightly on 
the prince's arm, entered the hall and prepared 
to dance. 

The conversation of the night before between 
Madame and the prince was still ringing in her 
ears and poisoning her brain with suspicion. 
"Would some one else be leaning on his arm to- 
morrow night, some one he loved dearly?" she 
asked herself, "some one he did not dissuade 
from loving him, but rather encouraged?" For 



Love or Duty. 103 

some reason she was in a mood for melancholy. 
"Was it because he was going away, or was it 
that she might never see him again?" she won-* 
dered. 

That music, that intoxicating swell of har- 
mony, now rising and thundering like a turbu- 
lent battle, then sinking to a low mournful ca- 
dence like the pleading of a soul in agony. Oh 
the tears were ready to start at any moment. 
What a power this man had to conjure up her 
feelings of love without the least encouragement, 
but rather by its discouragement. Would he 
not breathe one word of love, one embrace, one 
glance, to say that "It is not another I go to see ; 
it is duty that calls me hence." No, not a word, 
nor a glance, nor a sigh. Onward they floated 
as a boat glides in silence over the mirror-like 
surface of the silent lake, giving not the least 
ripple to warn its dreamers of the depth they 
were gliding to. She could not believe it was 
another he was going to, it could not be. To- 
night she must know. That feeling of jealousy 
and love was driving her on. But how was she 
to find out? 

"]\Iadamoiselle is quiet." 

"Monsieur is going to leave?" 



IO4 The Clash of Steel. 

"Late tonight." 
"You will come again?" 
"Perhaps, no one can tell his fate." 
"Monsieur you are always gloomy." 
Silence. The music ceased. Eugenie ex- 
cused herself, the tears were ready to start at 
any time she could not trust herself longer. 
"He was going away to some one else." Hurry- 
ing along the hall, choking back her sobs, seek- 
ing some place to give free vent to her feelings, 
she sought the secluded spot of the library and 
throwing herself into the great chair before the 
desk, she laid her head upon her arms and her 
whole frame shook with anguish. The hot tears 
sprang from her eyes upon her bare arms, her 
hand clutched a bundle of papers as if for sup- 
port. 

Slowly the storm of anguish began to pass 
away. Her weakness turned to firmness. 

"Why should I love this man ?" she asked her- 
self. "I have only known him for a short space 
of time, let him go to his mistress' embraces. 
Let him shower her mouth with his kisses; I 
shall not show the weakness of my sex, I can- 
not, no I will not confess to a soul my feelings. 
In the whirlpool of my love I shall sink without 



Love or Duty. 105 

a cry for mercy upon my lips, or reach out a 
hand for assistance. I shall sink it deep in my 
heart and bury it there, then no one can " 

The room was dimly lighted, her eyes had 
fallen upon the papers which she had by chance 
held in her hand, which she had grasped with 
the frenzy of her anguish. The music floated 
upon her ears like a strange weird accompani- 
ment to her recital. Slowly her hand relaxed its 
grasp, a pallor over-spread her face, for she rec- 
ognized the seal of the exiled king. By the dim 
light she read: "Go at once to Russia. Na- 
poleon is pressing on" then the seal. 

The words were few but she interpreted their 
meaning. Suddenly there came over her a 
strange feeling, from a chill it turned to burning 
hot, it seemed as though the penetrating glance 
oi a pair of eyes were upon her; the door was at 
her back, she arose and there stood the prince, a 
smile upon his beautiful face. The paper fell 
from her hand and fluttered to the floor. She 
was as if pinioned to the spot whereon she stood. 
The conversation of the night before flashed 
through her mind. Madame was then also a 
spy. The silence was awkward ; finally the voice 
of the prince, low, firm and musical sounded in 
the room. 



io6 The Clash of Steel. 

"Madamoiselle understands the paper she has 
read?" The answer was a nod. 

"Madamoiselle wondered at my strange de- 
parture. She knows now why?" 

Again a nod. Then she spoke. 

"You are a spy." 

"A spy must never acknowledge it, even if 
it is true." 

"It is then duty that calls you away?" 

"Yes Madamoiselle." 

"I am a loyal subject to Napoleon, one cry 
would place you in the hands of the authorities." 

"I am at your mercy" said he calmly. 

Then silence. 

"Disclosure would mean ?" 

"Death to me." 

There was an awful struggle in her mind. 
It was the old battle between love and duty. 

"This is the only proof to compromise you?" 

"Here. Yes." " 

Slowly she stooped and hesitatingly picked up 
the scrap of paper which lay between them. 
Like a statue she stood for a moment, then slowly 
she raised the paper, until it reached the flame 
of light and a few charred crisps fell at her feet. 
"Monsieur has his freedom. Once I give it but 



Love or Duty. 107 

once only, and if it ever so happens that I should 
be in such a position again, I would be forced 
to act differently." 

"The cause Mademoiselle, I cannot under- 
stand?" 

"Never mind the cause, the action is enough. 
Call it weakness, call it mercy, they are often- 
times the same. But by this action, judge me 
not as you would judge Madame. She may be 
your spy but I am not." 

"Madamoiselle has my deepest gratitude. 
The workings and caprices of fate we know not. 
I leave tonight, perhaps never to return again. 
A spy's life is not his own. It may be his king's, 
it may be his country's, mine is neither. It be- 
longs to that passion which drives one on and on, 
until he either accomplishes his end or falls in 
the attempt. Revenge, revenge, strong, burn- 
ing, glowing runs in my veins and forces me on- 
ward. Napoleon's ambition is favor, wealth and 
greatness. I like a vampire will fasten my 
fangs upon it and suck its strength away, or die 
in the attempt. To die? What is it, but the 
cessation of pain and passion. Enough Madam- 
oiselle the night grows late and ere the morn I 
shall be on my way to accomplish my end and 



io8 The Clash of Steel. 

should we never meet again, place love in 
shackles of forgetfulness and let honor be your 
only shrine of worship." He stooped and kissed 
her hand quickly, she making no resistance but 
stood as if petrified and he was slowly with- 
drawing when she raised her head. 

"Monsieur has an affair of honor at day- 
break." 

An expression of astonishment and embarrass- 
ment overspread his face. 

"How know you that?" 

"I saw the exchange of cards." 

"Madamoiselle will favor me by keeping this 
affair quiet. It will soon be over and I shall be 
lying on the ground or on my way by day- 
break." 

Monsieur Andre is a fine swordsman." 

"You fear for me?" 

"N o, I do not know your ability." 

"Trust it to me. Au revoir Madamoiselle, 
au revoir, perhaps forever," and he was gone. 



The Nicked Rapier. 109 



CHAPTEE IX. 

THE NICKED RAPIER. 

That night Madame de Ebersville and Eu- 
genie rode home together. At Madame's door 
Eugenie made the strange request to spend the 
night with her and Madame surmised correctly 
that something was amiss, for all the way home 
Eugenie had nervously played with the trim- 
ming on her cape which protected her bare 
shoulders from the cool morning air. It was 
almost two in the morning when they entered 
Madame's home. 

"Eugenie what is it? I can see something is 
worrying you." 

"Oh Madame something awful, something be- 
yond comprehension. Monsieur Le Prince 
fights Monsieur Andre at sun-rise." 

"Is that all ? He is capable of taking care of 
himself, do you not think? But how did you 
find this out?" 



no The Clash of Steel. 

"I saw the cards exchanged. But that is not 
all. I warned the prince of Monsieur's ability 
as a swordsman. I did not see the prince after 
that. I was strolling down through the conserv- 
atory, when in a secluded nook, hidden by palms 
I heard voices in a guarded conversation. It 
was Monsieur Andre and his second the Le Cap- 
tain Moran making arrangements for the duel." 

"Moran" he said "I know it will succeed. He 
must be put out of the way." 

"But Monsieur that is not fair, can you not 
kill him in a fair duel, you who are considered 
the best swordsman of France? I do not like 
this work at all." 

"I tell you I do not trust him. I have seen 
him use a foil at play with Monsieur Edmonds, 
and he uses it excellently. My plan will suc- 
ceed admirably, a little niche with a file will 
be made close to the hilt of one of the rapiers. 
You will hold three for the choice. As he has 
first pick, hold the one with the nicked blade 
closer to him than the others. If he chooses 
that one, well and good. If he does not I will 
have to rely upon my skill. Should I see him 
take the defective weapon I will know my 
game. So there is not such a bad business about 



The Nicked Rapier. 1 1 1 

it. If he chooses the nicked rapier, a quick 
stroke, after a few feints, will snap it close to the 
hilt. There will be no suspicion. It will be 
attributed to the steel being cold or a flaw. 
Come what do you say?" 

"No I do not like it." 

"Besides I suspect him." 

"Of what?" 

"A spy to the king." 

"Are you sure?" 

"No. I am not positive. Come you have lost 
much the last few days, play this thing through 
and you will be amply rewarded." 

"Then" said Eugenie "I rushed out to find 
Le prince but he was not to be found. The 
butler said that he had left in a carriage. Oh 
Madame what shall I do?" 

"Trust to his good luck." 

"What and let him be foully murdered?" 

"What do you care?" 

"What do I care? Honor is enough to care 
for." 

"Perhaps it is more than honor, which makes 
you so impatient to save him." 

"I am not a spy as others are" was the cold 
retort. 



ii2 The Clash of Steel. 

Madame's face flushed but she let the taunt 
go by unheeded. 

"You go rest yourself and tomorrow all will 
be well. You are excited and nervous and per- 
haps it is not as bad as you think." 

Eugenie saw plainly that Madame was not 
much concerned about the prince's safety, for 
should he be killed then a great secret would 
be taken from her mind. So Eugenie formed 
her own plans and withdrew to her room in 
silence. 

About an half hour before dawn a figure in 
black stole from Eugenie's room and quietly 
hastened along the corridors, out into the open 
air. For a moment she paused and then she 
hurried through the court-yard to the stable. It 
would take too much time to wake the groom. 
A window was silently opened, applying her 
strength it opened wide enough to admit her. 

Madame had in her stable a beautiful black 
horse for her own pleasure riding. In climbing 
through the window, Eugenie over-turned an 
obstacle which made much noise. For a mo- 
ment she stood and held her breath but every- 
thing was silent. Could she find Madame's sad- 
dle ? She was rumaging about in the dark when 



The Nicked Rapier. 113 

suddenly a light flashed in her face and the bar- 
rel of a pistol was pointed straight at her. At 
the sight of Eugenie the groom lowered the 
weapon. 

"Madame is very ill, and I am going fo,r some 
medicine from the doctor. Quick saddle her 
horse." 

"Madamoiselle I will go for you." 
"No that will not do, you do not know what 
she requires. Quick, saddle him." There was 
no alternative so he quickly followed her in- 
structions. All through the operation of sad- 
dling the horse, the animal stood champing his 
bit and violently pawing the floor. 

"Madamoiselle he is wild this morning, it is 
best you let me go." 

"No I cannot; I will manage him all right." 
Helping her slight figure into the saddle, he 
let loose the rein and the animal sped along the 
driveway at a rapid rate. It was a full half 
hour's ride from Madame's home to the forest 
where the bout was to be held and Eugenie knew 
that she had no time to lose. A cold breeze was 
stirring and the noise of the clattering hoofs, on 
the pavements, awoke the echoes. The animal 
needed no encouragement, only too glad to have 



H4 The Clash of Steel. 

his freedom he sped along the road at a terrific 
gait, Madamoiselle riding him gracefully. 
After awhile she reached the edge of the forest 
and followed the little winding pathway, the 
over-hanging boughs at times just grazed her 
head. The morning twilight was just breaking 
and here and there a red streak, like a smear of 
blood, flashed on the horizon. ISTow and then 
a twitter of the birds in the trees sounded as she 
passed in her hurried flight. 

"They must have begun" she murmured to 
herself. A few moments later and she heard in 
the distance the cold rasp of steel. Her face 
was burning hot and the breeze was a welcome 
balm. 

"Mon Dieu ! what if he has chosen the nicked 
rapier." Now for the first time, she urged the 
horse to quicken his speed. The clash came 
louder and nearer at every stride. "Mon Dieu ! 
any moment may be the end." The sound had 
ceased, her face turns from fire to cold. Was it 
over? She could draw the picture in her mind, 
of the prince laying on the ground, the soil about 
him dyed crimson with his fast ebbing life, the 
handle of the broken rapier in his hand good 
God why had she not started sooner . "What 



The Nicked Rapier. 115 

was that? Xo it was not over yet, again the 
sound caught her ear, they were at it once more. 
Probably the last pause was caused by a touch. 

Onward the horse staggered, weak with his 
exhaustion; another moment and she rushed 
into the open spot, riding between the astonished 
combatants who, at the sound of her approach 
had ceased their onslaught. Hastily she dis- 
mounted. "Madamoiselle de Yere," all ex- 
claimed. She was cold and deliberate but it was 
forced. 

"Madamoiselle" the prince said "I asked and 
you promised that this affair of honor would be 
uninterrupted." 

"Monsieur, this is not an affair of honor. It 
is murder, base murder." 

"Well then do not disturb us" said Andre 
coldly, "come Monsieur we will finish" and he 
brushed Madamoiselle roughly aside. There 
was a swish and Eugenie's riding whip fell full 
across his face and left its mark. 

"Stop" she cried "you murderer and coward." 

Had Madamoiselle been a man, she would 
have been killed on the spot. As it was, Andre 
rushed forward, and no one knows how the affair 
would have ended, but Captain Moran wrenched 



n6 The Clash of Steel. 

the rapier from his hand and stood between him 
and Eugenie, his handsome face beaming with 
rage. 

"Is it not enough to make one attempt?" he 
asked. 

"What is the meaning of this Madamoiselle, 
the endangerment of your life?" enquired the 
prince. 

"It means Monsieur, that I have come to save 
you from being murdered." 

"I do not understand?" 

"Monsieur will try his weapon over his knee, 
if it does not break he may resume the bout 
without interruption and I will withdraw. I 
mean that if you have not chosen the nicked 
rapier " 

"What is this about a nicked rapier?" 

"You have almost been the victim of a base 
plot. Monsieur will do me the honor to try his 
sword." 

Andre, during the conversation, was slowly 
edging from the group towards where the horses 
which had brought them were tethered to a tree. 
The prince bent his weapon across his knee and 
it snapped like a twig. Just then there was a 
shout and Andre who had gained his horse leaped 
into the saddle and dashed away. 



An Act of Pity. 1 1 7 



CHAPTER X. 

AN ACT OF PITY. 

The frozen stillness of the north was disturbed 
by the rumbling wheels of artillery and the 
tramp of armed men. "Russia must be con- 
quered," was Napoleon's thought. "The world 
must bow at my feet." Campaigning in Russia 
was bound to try his patience and control, it was 
not the same as fighting over ground which was 
well known, where there was an abundance of 
provisions and where there was not the sting of 
bitter cold. Only Napoleon's prestige and the 
constant hope of victory led the weakened army 
onward. The suffering was almost unendurable. 
True, battles were won, but at what cost? A 
cost so great that they were almost as much as 
a defeat. Each day brought fresh misfortune 
and new dissatisfaction. Soldiers dreamed of 
home and dear ones. The camp-fires only served 
to bring happy recollections of the past. But 



n8 The Clash of Steel. 

Napoleon said, Alexander must be humbled and 
Moscow must fall, if he must do it himself. 

Thus far he had met with stern resistance but 
always was he victorious. Moscow must fall in 
a short time, for he was now not more than a 
night's march from his destiny. The city must 
be taken eitKer by surprise or by force, but sur- 
render it must, for Napoleon's mind was set and 
nothing could dissuade him. 

Just as dusk was falling, a man wrapped deep 
in a long red cloak, his face almost hidden in its 
folds, sat near to the smouldering embers of a 
dying fire, shaded so as not to attract attention. 
Near by sat another, warming his tingling fingers 
at the fire, a youth with a slender, light figure 
and an honest open face. The ground was 
covered for miles and miles, as far as the eye 
could reach, with a white coating of snow. At 
times flakes would descend and strike the face 
with a stinging coldness. Suddenly the youth 
raised his head and spoke: "Mario, will Na- 
poleon move on Moscow tonight, do you think?" 

"Nothing is more probable Frangois, he will 
take it by surprise if we do not warn the city." 

At this point the army was divided. Some 
camped at one place and the other half was fur- 
ther in advance. Between these two sat Mario 



An Act of Pity. 1 1 9 

and Frangois, the King's servant. The soldiers 
were of better spirit for shelter was near at hand 
and Napoleon had promised them that, that 
night they should have plenty of comfort. 

Suddenly ' hoof falls were audible in the dis- 
tance. Quickly the two quietly slid from the 
fire into the darkness. Soon the rider came 
nearer, changing his course to find the meaning 
of the dying embers. Suddenly, from the dark- 
ness came a Hand, which seized the bridle, send- 
ing the horse back upon his haunches with such 
force that it unseated its rider. A curse broke 
from the man as he sprawled upon the snow. 
For a moment he was stunned, but for a moment 
only and he was on his feet, his hand on his 
sword, but he was not quick enough. A strong 
hand gripped his throat and another held his 
wrist as in a vice of steel. Strangely there was 
not the least noise. 

Hand to hand they struggled, but the dis- 
mounted rider was no match for his opponent, 
and he was soon on his back, the man pressing 
heavily upon his breast with his knee. 

"Come your orders," panted the captor. 

"I have none." 

"You lie. Produce them. Quick ! Your 
life depends upon it. There is not a moment to 



I2O The Clash of Steel. 

lose, you are the messenger to order the advance 
guard to move, and Napoleon may now he 
inarching on to join them and then take Mos- 
cow." 

"I have no orders" panted the man. 

The figure made no answer, but from heneath 
his cloak drew his dagger and pressed it to the 
prostrate man's neck. 

"Quick not a moment must be lost." The 
man felt the point uncomfortably near his jug- 
gler and said: 

"In my bosom." 

With a quick, dexterous movement the man 
ripped the doublet clean and reached the order. 
Then by the light of the fire, still holding the 
man beneath him he read: 

"Will join you soon, then take Moscow by 
surprise at daybreak." 

As the light flashed up the men's eyes met, 
and almost simultaneously, they exclaimed 
"Pierre;" "Mario." These were the only words 
spoken and Mario and Francois quickly bound 
Captain Moran hand and foot with their sword 
belts, but not without a struggle for he recog- 
nized the result should Napoleon's army not 
stumble upon him. 

"Napoleon will take Moscow at day-break, I 



An Act of Pity. 121 

surmised as much. Au revoir Monsieur le 
Captain," and with a triumphant laugh Mario 
disappeared. From a clump of trees Mario led 
his horse and waited for Frangois, who had re- 
mained behind, to scatter the still glowing em- 
bers. It seemed as though the last spark of the 
Captain's hope was dying. He understood his 
fate, should he not be discovered ere morning. 
The Captain's eyes followed Frangois' every 
movement with entreaty plainly written in them, 
but he said nothing. 

"Monsieur, you are brave" whispered Fran- 
cois. 

No answer. 

"I cannot see a brave man die of starvation 
and cold without a chance." 

"Come. Come," shouted Mario. Frangois 
stood hesitatingly. One stroke of his knife 
would free the man. Pity was working in his 
mind. Mario was again calling him to hasten 
and he started to follow him. When, suddenly, 
as if his mind had been made up, he retraced 
the few steps he had taken, he stooped over the 
prostrate man and drew his knife from its sheath. 
"I will release you" he whispered "but do not 
move until we are gone." 

"Sacre are you coming?" cried Mario impati- 



122 The Clash of Steel. 

ently. The bonds were cut the man was free, but 
he lay still and as Frangois bounded away the 
cold wind brought him the heartfelt words, 
"Merci, merci Monsieur." 

Mounting his horse, he and Mario dug their 
spurs into the flanks and away they dashed to 
warn Moscow of its impending danger. On- 
ward they struggled through the deep snow, 
while the cold cutting wind brought fresh flakes 
to blind them and hinder their progress. The 
darkness was intense, not a spark was discerni- 
ble and they relied wholly upon Mario's knowl- 
edge of the way they were traveling. Onward 
they rode in silence, every now and then giving 
their horses a breathing spell. They had ridden 
an hour or so when Mario suddenly stopped, 
"What is it?" Francois asked. 

"Do you not hear anything?" 

"No" he answered. 

"Faster faster," was all Mario said but in such 
a way that meant to serve as a warning. On- 
ward they rushed while the snow began to fall 
heavier and heavier, their horses at times stumb- 
ling into drifts, which the wind had heaped high. 
After awhile they stopped again. This time 
sure enough, there came to Frangois' ears a low 



An Act of Pity. 1 23 

ominous sound, a sound of terror and horror, 
but lie could not make it out. Was it the rum- 
ble of cannon wheels, or the trampling of cav- 
alry? He could not interpret the sound. 

"It cannot be the army?" he asked. 

"Worse. We must move faster, or we will 
never reach Moscow." 

"What is it?" asked the terrified Frangois. 

Mario gave no time for explanation as every 
moment was valuable, but Francois heard the 
word "wolves." Louder and louder that low 
muttering growl grew. But Moscow must be 
warned. 

Already Francois' horse was stumbling with 
weakness and every moment brought the blood 
thirsty pack nearer to its prey and it would only 
be a short time when there would be an en- 
counter. 

Suddenly without warning Francois' horse 
stumbled, but regained itself, but was lagging 
far behind Mario. "Had the pack stumbled 
upon the Captain? Praise God, his conscience 
was clear but Mario's how was his?" It did not 
seem to bother him the least, this disciple of the 
devil. The next moment Mario drew rein. 
The snarling and snapping was clearly audible. 



124 The Clash of Steel. 

"Dismount. Your horse can no longer carry 
you," he said and coolly drew his sword from its 
sheath and thrust the cold steel through its pant- 
ing sides. The animal sank to the ground. 
"That will serve to hold them for a time. But 
if we do not soon come upon a village we are 
lost. Mount back of me." 

The growls were louder now, as the beasts 
fought over the carcass of the horse but it would 
only be a moment's respite and a whetting to 
their appetite. Mario's horse labored faithfully 
onward under its double weight but the pack was 
soon again moving. 

"Use your spurs." Mario shouted and the 
blood came faster from the already bleeding 
sides of the horse, but of no avail. The leaders 
of the pack were already upon them and one 
sprang forward at the laboring beast's neck, but 
found the needle point of Mario's blade and 
sank down, to have its life blood drank by its 
followers and serve as another respite. Sud- 
denly there loomed up a hut before them, then 
a larger house. They were saved, it was the 
outskirts of Moscow, into the yard of an inn they 
rushed and Moscow was warned. 



BOOK III. 

CHAPTEK I. 

THE BURNING OF MOSCOW. 

Some time afterwards, the advancing army 
stumbled upon Pierre's benumbed body. After 
awhile he was revived and his first words were: 
"the man in the red cloak," but that was enough, 
all understood. 

A curse broke from Napoleon, "Sacre, he is 
everywhere, we must move faster." 

Napoleon's dilapidated army the next day, the 
5th of September entered Moscow and to his sur- 
prise was met with no resistance, the first time 
in his Russian campaign. The authorities were 
gone and everything was quiet. 

Darkness had just settled over the city. The 
soldiers were comfortable and praised their 
leader. Rioting was at its height, the discarded 

dice were brought into play, the cards were shuf- 

125 



126 The Clash of Steel. 

fled and the noise within, drowned out the noise 
without. Cellars were looted of their stock 
and store of delicacies and wines. Soldiers 
chattered of their great victory. Officers con- 
gregated together, bumped their glasses, con- 
gratulated themselves, little doubting or little 
thinking of the great plot that was working 
against them. 

Suddenly in the midst of this revelry and was- 
sail, there came the cry of, "fire, fire." All 
rushed out to extinguish the blaze, but it was 
too late. That same cry sounded in every street, 
to the consternation of the whole army. The 
conflagration spread with such rapidity that soon 
the whole city was a sea of flame and smoke, 
fanned into greater fierceness by the strong wind. 
Mario had gained his point. 

Building after building fell midst showers of 
sparks, it seemed as if it were a huge funeral 
pyre, built to cremate Napoleon's ambition. 
Street after street became impassable. Horse- 
men dashed through the burning embers, shout- 
ing command after command, which were un- 
heeded. Men rushed hither and thither, but 
to no effect. Napoleon was stationed in the 
highest part of the city, reviewing the grand but 



The Burning of Moscow. 127 

awful and distracting sight before him, Dark 
figures were seen, flitting about in the shadows 
with fire-brands in their hands, setting fire to the 
parts of the city which were not yet consumed or 
being consumed. The army was in a wretched 
state. They had plenty of fire, but provisions 
were being taken right from their grasp. Every 
now and then a deafening explosion was heard, 
showing that powder was also used in the de- 
struction. 

In the midst of the falling buildings, a figure 
with a fluttering cloak, was making his way to 
the place where ISTapoleon was stationed. 
ISTearer and nearer he came, dodging into the 
shadows. Once a house toppled and fell amidst 
a burst of flame and revealed this man to Na- 
poleon. 

"Stop him. Stop him" he shouted "stop the 
man in the red cloak, he has caused all this." 

Several rushed forward, but were driven back 
by the awful heat. One dashed through the 
circle and met the approaching man. With 
their swords they fought, "the man ir the red 
cloak" carrying in his other hand a flaming torch. 
What his motive might be was not exactly clear, 
but he met his opponent and their swords 



128 The Clash of Steel 

crossed. Stroke after stroke, parry after parry, 
iunge after lunge and the man in the red cloak 
was slowly but surely forcing his opponent to re- 
treat into the circle of flame, which was separat- 
ing Napoleon and him more and more. 

Now they were treading the very sparks, so 
close were they to the fire. The heat was al- 
most unbearable but they fought on, the one with 
desperation, for death stared him in the face. 
The other with determination to gain his end. 
Suddenly a building fell and hid them from 
Napoleon's view, but after the sparks were gone 
and the smoke was driven away, he saw the nut- 
ter of a cloak to his left and its wearer was 
alone. 

Then there was a cry "save yourself Majesty: 
save yourself Napoleon, the house is undermined 
with powder." 

Napoleon retreated hastily through the outlet 
which was kept open for him. Hardly had he 
reached a place of safety, when there was a ter- 
rific explosion and the spot whereon he stood was 
a mass of smouldering ruins. Sullenly the 
lorces followed Napoleon upon that famous re- 
creat. Those who were not killed by the cos- 



The Burning of Moscow. 129 

sacks, who constantly hovered around the rear of 
the army, either died on the road from starva- 
tion and cold, or dragged themselves half dead 
after their defeated general. That was a mem- 
orable night, for it was the beginning of the end. 



130 The Clash of Steel. 



CHAPTEE II. 

EXILE. 

It seemed as if Napoleon's career was checked, 
even if not forever, for a time at least. De- 
jected and defeated, the victor of so many 
battles dragged himself homeward, followed by 
his dilapidated and bewildered army. The men 
were glad to hear once again the command that 
they were on their way to home and loved ones, 
their ardor and spirit had forsaken them and 
dejectedly they followed the conquered con- 
queror on his famous retreat. 

Peace was again, if such it may be styled, for 
Napoleon was vanquished and had surrendered 
and was sent into an exile, which to many others 
would not have been an exile: but to this Em- 
peror of Emperors and soldier of soldiers it was 
bitter humiliation. He was made an officer 
of the little Isle of Elba. 

The Bourbons ascended the throne they had 



Exile. 131 

lost, but it was not Louis XVI, lie had died and 
it was his brother Louis XVIII who was propped 
upon the vacant, insecure throne. The flag of 
the Bourbons floated and revelry and victorious 
joy, like the smouldering fires of a volcano, burst 
forth with renewed energy and force. 

Everywhere was pleasure and enjoyment with 
the Bourbons, while the Napoleonic followers 
quietly left their posts of honor and settled into 
silent submission. An entirely new regime was 
taking place and everything was changed. Na- 
poleon was an exile. Josephine was retired in 
the solitude of Malmaison, dreaming of happy 
days gone by, the Prince de Tristesse was absent 
from the "Alhambra," no one knew where, 
Mario was buried in the silent shadow of Chateau 
de Nuit. Thus for a time silent, peaceful pleas- 
ure, rested over the country so rent and torn by 
strife and war. 

But Napoleon on the island of Elba, like a 
lion rising from its night of restful slumber, 
hungry and impatient for another conflict to as- 
sert its powers, was silently and securely gather- 
ing about him an army to regain what he 
had lost. That restless spirit could not be satis- 
fied to remain within its bounds, that spirit 



132 The Clash of Steel. 

longed for contests it had so often fought. That 
warrior feeling arose in his hreast and longed for 
the din of battle, for the thunder of cannon and 
the rattle of musketry. His dreams must be 
realized. When Napoleon said must, there was 
no retraction, his will must either be fulfilled, or 
unconditional surrender. 

Suddenly Paris was thrown into a great state 
of excitement. Humors spread from mouth to 
mouth that Xapoleon had left the island with a 
handful of men and was on his way to the con- 
tinent. It was indeed true. On the 26th day 
of February, 1815, he set sail with a few barks 
conveying his little band. He passed the vigi- 
lance of those set to watch him and had gained a 
good start. What must have been his feelings 
on that day? Returning to a country where he 
did not know whether the people would meet him 
with resistance or with open arms. He returned 
to France and at Grenoble the troops sent out to 
prevent his entrance to the land he had caused 
so much suffering and pain, when they saw the 
gray coat of the Emperor and heard the voice 
which had commanded them above volleys of 
musketry, dropped their arms and shouted in one 



Exile. 133 

voice, "vive L' Empereur" and gathered about 
his standards. The French people are a strange 
nation and are ever ready for a change and now 
there was a chance. By this time they were dis- 
satisfied with the Bourbon regime and the old 
spirit of past days was again awakened and Xa- 
poleon had won the first victory in his new cam- 
paign without a struggle. One alone stood firm 
and he had promised to bring back the Corsican 
in an iron cage. But he was only firm, until he 
saw the colors under which he had so often 
fought and until he heard the shouts of his men, 
he had so often led beneath those colors, and he 
was again Marshall Xey. 

Like the rays of the morning sun, as they burst 
forth in the east, first playing along the horizon 
and then over-spreading all the heavens with a 
welcome light, so the news of Napoleon's return 
spread over all France. Hamlet and city joined 
in one acclamation of gladness at the Emperor's 
return. Onward Xapoleon went and nearer and 
nearer he came to Paris. Troops, that were sent 
out against him, were only sent to re-inforce his 
fast growing army, and generals who had in- 
tended to raise their swords against ^Napoleon, 



134 The Clash of Steel. 

broke their blades across their knees and joined 
with their soldiers to fight for the Emperor. 
The corporal violet had appeared, about whom a 
certain class of people had spoken, and the mean- 
ing of the bunches of violets, worn in the lapel 
or on the breast or in the hair was explained. 
Paris was terror stricken at the conqueror's near 
approach. Louis fled and the city was placed in 
the hands of Marshal Soult and the police. On- 
ward Napoleon came on his triumphal march, 
until once again he sat upon the throne, until 
once again he was Emperor of France. But his 
triumph was of short duration. It arose in a 
night and it was destined to fall in almost as 
short a time, but there was more action crowded 
into the hundred days following his return than 
any other space of time of the same duration. 

It was not the Frenchmen who defeated Na- 
poleon, it was not one nation that humbled the 
Emperor, but four. Alexander could not forget 
and the old feeling of hatred arose and would not 
be silenced. There was another, who could not 
smother out his feelings and gave them full play ; 
stronger than ever Mario again threw himself 
into the conflict, stronger than ever and with 



Exile. 135 

more cunning and daring. Through the com- 
bined efforts of these two, although working sep- 
arately, the old coalation of 1813, consisting of 
Russia, Prussia, England and Sweden was again 
renewed and again the joint forces took the field 
to conquer once more the conqueror. 



136 The Clash of Steel. 



CHAPTER in. 

CAUGHT IN A NET. 

The lily, the emblem of the House of Bour- 
bon, which had flourished at the breast of fair 
women at the court balls, began to fade and 
droop until it was succeeded entirely by the 
violet. Mario was again at work. He had been 
in Paris several days and, after ascertaining the 
strength of his adversary and in what manner to 
act, he decided to leave the city. At last when 
he arrived at the outskirts he was confronted by 
a soldier. 

"I beg Monsieur's pardon but does he leave 
the city?" 

"Yes." 

"Then you have the password ?" 

"Password? Is then Paris guarded?" 

"Yes Monsieur. We have orders to let no 
one pass without the word." 

"Whose orders are they?" 



Caught in a Net. 137 

"I received mine from the Captain, from 
whom he has them I do not know." 

"But if I have not the word?" 

"Then you cannot pass," said the guard reso- 
lutely. 

Several soldiers were at a distance and slowly 
approaching the two. 

"Be careful, I have my sword and may pass 
by that countersign." 

"Monsieur forgets that soldiers carry swords 
to enforce orders." 

"Come, away with idle words, I have great 
interests in leaving Paris, the affair is urgent and 
I have not time enough to return and get the 
password, but I have money." 

"Money may buy you into heaven, through 
the church, but money cannot buy you out of 
Paris." 

"Well, then I shall pass otherwise." 

"N"ot until you cross my dead body, the orders 
are strict and I shall not break them." 

It was too late for Mario to retreat, undoubt- 
edly Napoleon had thrown Paris into a sort of 
drag-net and it would not do for him to be caught 
in it. He had but one alternative and this he 
chose. By this time both had their swords in 



138 The Clash of Steel. 

hand and the fight was progressing rapidly, when 
the soldiers seeing their comrade engaged ran 
up. Then began a fight in which all partici- 
pated. Mario backed against a wall so as to 
keep them from forming a circle around him and 
fight him from all sides. The sentry fell with a 
deep wound in his neck and Mario fought like a 
demon the remaining three. Another fell but 
fatigue was fast showing itself and soon he 
fainted to the ground and the others rushed upon 
him and bound his hands behind his back. As 
one was kneeling over his prostrate body he 
sprang up with a cry. "It is Mario, the man in 
the red cloak, the Emperor will pay well for this 
capture." They carried him to an impromptu 
prison, formed from an old strongly built cha- 
teau, which had been changed into a prison dur- 
ing these stormy times as was often the case. A 
strong guard was placed about the prison and 
Mario was conveyed to a room, well guarded by 
bars and oaken doors. To make things more 
certain, for they trusted not this man, they man- 
acled his hands in strong irons. 

Like wild fire the news spread of Mario's 
strange capture. It was first whispered from 
mouth to mouth with uncertainty, for the cap- 



Caught in a Net. 139 

ture of such a dare-devil was so doubtful that few 
gave it credence, but soon the news was con- 
firmed and all the Emperor's followers shouted 
it aloud through the streets. "Mario is taken; 
Mario is taken," came from every corner and 
the Emperor and his army breathed freer, for 
there was not one who did not fear to meet this 
unknown, mysterious spy. 

A man, young, slender, more fit for a play- 
thing for the hearts of women than to carry a 
sword, was mingling in the crowd when suddenly 
a great burley soldier next to him shouted: 
"Mario is taken." 

"What is it you shout?" cried the young man. 

"Is it not good news for you? You who 
flashed your eyes on me in such a manner?" 

"Pardon, but did I hear you correctly, did 
you say that Mario, the man in the red cloak 
was captured?" 

"Those were my words and God be praised, 
for he causes more harm to our cause than all 
the armies put together and his sword in 
single combat is twice as long as any other." 

Francois, for it was he, the King's valet, and 
one of Mario's able assistants, whom we have al- 
ready met on the way to Moscow, when his pity 



140 The Clash of Steel. 

overcame him and he saved the Captain Pierre 
Moran's life, did not deem it wise to ask too many 
questions of one person so he procured the de- 
tails from many sources and being in possession 
of the pass-word he mounted his horse and left 
Paris. Once out of the city he pushed his horse 
at utmost speed for he knew that if Mario was to 
be saved it must be done quickly, for the Em- 
peror would not let this opportunity slip, to put 
this obstruction to his ambition and once its 
thwarter out of the way. 



Chateau De Nuit. 141 



CHAPTER IV. 

CHATEAU DE NUIT. 

In the midst of a dense forest, secluded and 
hidden by nature's screen, dark with the waring 
of time and the elements, .in a location solemn 
and quiet and still not far distant from the center 
of three states, stood an old stone chateau. Sit- 
uated near the boundary of three nations, it com- 
manded a source for information of these states, 
France, the seat of war and its beginning, Ger- 
many, the hot-bed of opposition and Belgium, 
the final scene for Napoleon's great tragedy. 

Surrounded by its moats and walls, protected 
by its turrets, it gave the appearance of a huge 
monument of the medieval times, times of the 
crusades. From its stately, frowning and scowl- 
ing, dark exterior it took from the depths of tra- 
dition, the characteristic name of Chateau de 
Xuit, figuratively meaning the "Palace of Mys- 
tery." Here was Mario's favorite rendezvous, 



142 The Clash of Steel. 

this was the base of his operations, here his orders 
were given and here his information was learned, 
from his band of characters peculiarly like him- 
self, silent, stern and quick of action. The band 
was formed of men of all nations. There were 
Swiss, driven into exile, French from hatred to 
Napoleon, Austrians from their love of daring 
and war, Germans to escape forced militarism 
only to take it up of their own free will and 
others, but all resolute and trained to action. 

Chateau de Xuit seemed to be a place of mys- 
tery and enchantment, the lord of this place, who 
was of course Mario, had often been suspected 
of treason, and detachments had, with their own 
eyes seen spies enter this old building but upon 
searching it the place would be found vacant of 
any person but the old gray-haired butler, who 
admitted them. It could not be understood; 
but tales of ghostly weirdness were current 
among the peasant people and soldiers to the 
effect that at midnight, chains could be heard 
clanking in the corridors and the dungeons, 
shrieks of victims being murdered without pity, 
figures in white were said to have been seen to 
walk the ramparts, holding their arms to heaven 
as if imploring mercy. Then the tramp of 



Chateau De Nuit. 143 

armed men, the clink of steel, the rasping of 
blades and then all would die off into silence, ex- 
cept when an owl would hoot in the distance or 
the clock in the dark ghostly tower would sound 
the time. 

These manifestations were attributed to the 
crimes committed by the former lord of the 
chateau. As far as the traditions were con- 
cerned, there was some truth in many of the 
statements. No figures were seen to walk the 
walls, nor the clank of chains ever echoed 
through the rooms, but the clash of steel was 
not at all infrequent, neither the tramp of armed 
men. 

Admittance few could gain, but one word and 
the door would be opened, but without that word 
they would, like the ponderous jaws of some 
sleeping beast, remain closed. There were five 
secret under-ground passways from the Chateau, 
the walls were all hollow with secret doors that 
would defy the ax or hammer, but would open 
with no noise and easily, let the right spring be 
touched. The rooms were of massive dimen- 
sions, high rough ceilings, floors well carpeted 
and finely furnished. On the walls hung mas- 
sive paintings, usually of some noble ancestor. 



144 The Clash of Steel. 

In the corners, like mute sentries stood full suits 
of armor straight and erect, with closed visors 
and sword and spear in hand. The least noise 
would set these spectral sentries whispering 
throughout the rooms and all in general had such 
a wierd aspect that it cast a clammy cold fear of 
mystery over all. 

It stood on a hill solemn, black, looking over 
the surrounding country. Spies were often 
traced to this place, but once the doors had 
opened their ponderous jaws and admitted them 
into the chateau's mysterious gloom, they would 
disappear as if the earth had opened and swal- 
lowed them from sight. On the wainscoating 
at one side of the room in which the climax of 
our tale will be played, on a high wooden panel 
were dull red spots which time had almost oblit- 
erated. 

If one would ask the butler of their origin, 
he would shake his head and say: "Monsieur, 
it was before my time, they were when I came, 
but the story has been handed down, that many 
years before while the lord of the chateau, 
in the midst of an assembly of banqueting 
guests on his wedding night, had, midst the 
silence of the assembly raised on high his 



Chateau De Nuit. 145 

goblet of blood red wine, to offer a toast. 
Ere he had uttered a word there was a shriek and 
a bat had dashed out its life against the glitter- 
ing goblet and its contents dyed the bridal robe 
of his bride with the blood red wine. That 
night, after the guests had left, still thinking of 
the omen, a masked man entered the deserted 
banquet hall and hand to hand he fought with 
the lord. Long and fiercely they fought, the 
lord slowly edging toward the wall, towards the 
secret panel which if he could reach, one touch 
of the spring would put him safely out of his 
opponent's reach. But the sword sheathed itself 
in his breast just as he reached the coveted spot 
and his blood dyed the wall." 

Here was Mario's headquarters, from here he 
operated. Fleur de Lis would often come to see 
him here, on important matters from the king 
and also to tell him of her love and devotion; 
the first receiving his immediate attention the 

last seemingly his disdain. 
10 



146 The Clash of Steel. 



CHAPTEK V. 

THE RED SILK LADDER. 

Dusk was slowly settling about the somber 
brow of Chateau de Nuit. The sun had already 
set and twilight was sinking slowly into deeper 
shadows over the world. In the great banquet 
hall of the Chateau, sat Fleur de Lis, idly dream- 
ing and musing what work was again before her; 
but she knew not how to begin as Mario had not 
yet returned to direct her movements. Suddenly 
she was awakened from her musings by the clat- 
ter of hoofs on the stones in the court-yard be- 
neath. She saw through the gloom a rider, 
hastily dismount and hurriedly enter the build- 
ing. She heard footsteps, anxiously coming up 
the stairs and soon a knock sounded on the daor 
and Frangois entered and threw himself breath- 
lessly in a chair to regain his composure. Fleur 
de Lis arose excitedly from where she sat, for 
she saw something was wrong and asked "what 



The Red Silk Ladder. 147 

brings you here in such haste Franc, ois? Is the 
king ill or dead?" 

"Neither. Mario is taken, all is lost." 

"Mario taken?" she cried, "it cannot be true, 
he is too shrewd to let such bunglers as those 
Frenchmen catch him." 

"It is true, he is now a captive in Paris and 
the whole city is rejoicing. There is no time to 
lose, they will either hang or shoot him soon. 
We must release him in some way." 

"But how?" 

"I am at a loss to know. Plan after plan has 
been passing through my mind on my way here, 
but none seemed plausible or capable of freeing 
him. He is strongly guarded and manacled. 
That makes the task all the harder," and he 
paced the length of the room impatiently. 

Lily sat in quiet, a look of hate playing over 
her white temples and her forehead was con- 
tracted into a deeper frown. Her clenched hand 
lay upon the table, showing with what resolu- 
tion she planned to accomplish the end which 
was revolving in her mind, how to gain Mario's 
release. Suddenly she looked up. 

"Where is he confined?" 



148 The Clash of Steel. 

"In the outskirts of Paris, in a chateau lately 
converted into a prison." 

"Do you know the place?" 

"Very well, I passed it on my way here and 
as I went by a crowd of gossiping soldiers, who 
now and then made gestures towards a narrow 
window on the third floor I learned the exact 
place where he is held." 

"Is there a guard about the place?" 

"TJiere are five sentries who continually pace 
the wall around the building. There is the de- 
tail at the entrance one at every corner and one 
at the door of Mario's cell. These are relieved 
every hour. It seems impossible to get him 
out." 

"Nothing is impossible. We will try. I 
have a plan. Call up the Swiss he is here is he 
not?" 

"Yes I saw him as I entered. I will have him 
here directly," and he hurriedly left the room 
while Lily again resumed her musings. 

Soon Frangois returned followed by a great 
powerful fellow, full six feet and as straight as 
a young sapling. He was a Swiss and emigrat- 
ing from his native country, he entered France 
during these stormy times and had allied himself 



The Red Silk Ladder. 149 

with Mario's little band of spies. As he entered 
he made an awkward bow to Lily and remained 
standing before her, waiting to hear what she 
wanted with him. 

"Andreas, can you shoot an arrow?" 

"Madamoiselle am I a Swiss or not? Every 
Swiss can shoot an arrow, it is a characteristic 
of our nation, it is learned from childhood." 

"Are you sure of your aim?" 

"As sure as Tell was." 

"You are conceited my man, but I only hope 
that your boasting is true. At least we will give 
you a trial of your skill. But have you a bow?" 

"Yes Madamoiselle one with which I amuse 
myself at leisure moments to recall days when I 
was at home." 

"Is it a toy?" 

"If toys will kill at a hundred paces, then it is 
such." 

"Well we will not stretch the bow to such a 
trial as that, the arrow will go less than that 
distance. Go bring it with a bunch of arrows 
and order four horses, for soon we will give a 
test to your skill." 

The man left wondering as he went what his 
task would be, but he obeyed and soon returned 



150 The Clash of Steel. 

bearing his bow and a bunch of arrows. After he 
had left to fulfill Fleur de Lis' orders, Frangois 
turned to her: "of what use can this man be to 
us with his arrows? They are out of date." 

"I shall tell you later" and she went to a side 
panel, pressed a spring and the wall opened, re- 
vealing a beautiful inlaid casket. From this 
she took a long light silk ladder, a small round 
file and some silk thread. Then she seated her- 
self at the table and on a small piece of paper 
wrote a few lines. By this time the Swiss had 
returned and she said: "now on to Paris at full 
speed." 

Frangois was full of curiosity to know the 
plan, but he knew it would not do to ask her. 
So he remained quiet. The Swiss followed 
dumb with curiosity, for to ask would do no 
good. They rode hard and in due time entered 
Paris. Darkness was just falling and with their 
faces muffled in their cloaks and as Francois had 
the pass-word they were admitted without any 
trouble. After awhile they arrived near the 
Chateau where Mario was confined and fastening 
their horses to a clump of trees on a vacant lot 
some distance away, they made ready to put 
Lily's plan into operation. 



The Red Silk Ladder. 151 

The night was very dark and a low muttering 
sounded in the west, announcing a coming storm. 
The prison loomed up dark and gloomy, only 
in a window in the third story was a light. The 
sentry was slowly pacing his beat about a hun- 
dred yards in length, at each end he would meet 
another sentry and after the challenge would 
pass over the same course again. All was quiet 
but for the tread of the sentry and now a distant 
clock struck ten. Three figures were behind a 
bush which grew on a vacant lot adjoining the 
prison. 

"There where you see the light is his cell" said 
Frangois. Lily then turned to the Swiss. "An- 
dreas do you see that window with a light in it?" 

"Yes." 

"Can you shoot an arrow through it?" 

"With ease Madamoiselle," said the crafty 
man measuring the distance with his eyes. 

"Then take an arrow, tie this note to it with 
this silk cord and fire it through the window. 
But take care, do not miss, for the life of your 
lord depends upon your skill. The note reads, 
there you need not strike a light I know it 
by memory." 

"Mario: two more arrows will follow this one, 



152 The Clash of Steel. 

the first will bear a file in the bottom of its shaft, 
the second will bring you a silk cord, pull it up 
when you are ready to descend. When you re- 
ceive the first arrow, darken the window for a 
second to let us know that you have received it 
safely. "When the next comes do the same, then 
file the links of your manacles and the bars at 
your window. When you are ready for the 
third, again darken the window for a moment 
and we will fire it. Then when you are ready 
to descend extinguish the light. You must cross 
the wall as best you can, it is rough and you can 
easily climb it. Trust to the signal to find us. 
We are directly opposite your window. Signed, 
Fleur de Eis." 

The note was carefully bound with a piece of 
silk cord and the archer, stepping aside so as not 
to have anything obstruct his aim, sprung the 
bow and waited for Lily to give the word when 
the guard was at the further end of his beat. 

"Shoot sure and quick," came the word. 

The archer stood for a moment immovable, 
but the bow bent slowly and steadily by hi? 
strong arm. Suddenly there was a sharp twang 
as the tension was released. The arrow sped 
forth with a hiss and all eyes were directed witli 



The Red Silk Ladder. 153 

close attention to the window. Almost at the 
same time as the twang of the string, a shadow 
spread through the frame of light. Shortly 
after, the light in the window was darkened for 
an instant. 

"He understands, now let's prepare the other 
arrow here is the file." 

"The shaft was neatly hollowed out and the 
file placed in it and tightly bound by a silk cord. 
This was the hardest test of the Swiss's skill ; but 
he never wavered and strung the arrow in his 
bow and prepared to fire. The sentry had just, 
passed when Lily gave the word. The twang of 
the string sounded again and the arrow went 
whistling through the air with a clearly audible 
hum, and entered the window. The sentry 
stopped and looked about him, for he had heard 
the noise, but by this time the lightning began 
to play and the thunder rolled louder at regular 
intervals, so he soon dismissed all suspicion. 

"There is the signal, he has it all right," cried 
FranQois. 

"]STow we must wait for the signal for the third 
arrow, but the elements are going to war against 
us. It is good that the string is silk, it will not 
be heavy," said Lily. Large drops of rain be- 



154 The Clash of Steel. 

gan to fall and the group sought shelter under 
the nearby trees, where they still could command 
a view of the window. 

Up in the cell, Mario had been sitting in a 
dejected mood. Plan after plan had been re- 
volving through his mind how to escape. But 
his hands were chained or undoubtedly he would 
have put some of them to test. Fate seemed 
against him. That night the jailer had come, 
to tell him that the Emperor had signed his death 
warrant and he should be shot in the court-yard 
below at sunrise. Though hope was gone, de- 
spair never once showed on his face, he was too 
brave to wince and thanked the jailor for his 
kindness to inform him of the fact and not to 
keep him in ignorance of his fate until he faced 
the soldiers, which was often the case. Once 
he had taken up the pen intending to confess all 
and disclose his identity but then he threw it 
down and said, "I have not yet accomplished my 
task and rather than leave it unfinished I shall 
die unknown." Hardly had the words been 
spoken when a deep thud sounded in the room 
and in the panel of the strong oaken door op- 
posite the window, he saw an arrow still quiver- 
ing. With an exclamation of joy, he sprang to 



The Red Silk Ladder. 155 

the door and withdrew the shaft. "Ah ! a note ; 
I thought something would happen. Lily would 
not leave me here to die, if she could help it" 
and he read the note which we have heard before. 
An exclamation of joy burst from him and he 
darkened the window to let them know that he 
had received the note and understood how to 
act. Then he stepped aside to let the other ar- 
row pass. After a short time it came and struck 
the door in exactly the same place. He then 
removed the file and set to work. The guard 
at the door never disturbed him and as the storm 
had now broken with all its fury, the file began 
to grate at the first link of his hand-cuffs with 
telling effect and in the course of an hour, the 
link was cut through and his hands were free to 
act. In less than another hour, an opening w r as 
made at the window, large enough to allow his 
body to pass through. 

Outside, the watchers could see him earnestly 
at work, stopping long enough to let the guard 
pass out of sight, then the file would grate away 
with renewed vigor. Finally the light was 
darkened as the signal for the third arrow. 

"He has filed the bars, now for the third ar- 
row, all goes well," said Lily as she fastened the 



156 The Clash of Steel. 

silk thread to the end of the third shaft. They 
then approached almost under the wall and the 
bowman took his stand, the arrow on the string 
and his bow bent waiting for Lily's command. 

"Shoot." 

The arrow left the bow, dragging the silk cord 
after it like a tail. Suddenly the tightness of 
the silk loosened and the thread fell across the 
wall. 

"It has reached all right" said the Swiss. 

"Andreas, I fear not, the string is loose." 

"Just so, it was tight until it struck, the force 
carrying more cord than is needed. That is why 
there is the slack. See I am right, there is the 
signal." 

Then they felt a tug at the string and it be- 
gan slowly to be pulled upwards. The silk 
ladder of flaming red was then attached to the 
end of the cord and was pulled up to the window 
where Mario was stationed. Then the light 
went out as the signal that he was ready to 
descend. 



The Wrong Man. 157 



CHAPTER VI. 

THE WRONG MAN. 

The rain was now falling in torrents. Sharp 
flashes of lightning came and died at regular 
intervals, followed by loud burst of thunder. 
Up in the cell, when Mario had made everything 
in preparation and had pulled up the red silk 
ladder, he fastened it securely and barricaded the 
door so as to prevent any attack from that part. 
Then he pushed his body through the space his 
file had cleared and placed his foot on the first 
rung of the ladder. A sense of giddiness seized 
him, as he swung out into space. The rain 
dashed against his face and matted his hair, for 
he wore no hat. Then he began slowly to de- 
scend, his only hope was that the guard should 
not see him by the flashes of lightning, clinging 
to the sides of the building. In the shadow of 
the wall Fleur de Lis, Frangois and the Swiss 
were watching in breathless suspense, the cling- 



158 The Clash of Steel. 

ing figure as he was shown to them by the light- 
ning flashes, suspended between heaven and 
earth. The Swiss had an arrow strung, closely 
watching the guard. 

"If the sentry sees him, shoot before he has 
time to challenge/' said Lily in breathless anxi- 
ety. 

Mario was about half way down when the 
guard suddenly stopped his walk and turned his 
face towards the building. Just then a sharp 
flash revealed Mario clinging to the ladder. The 
next moment the twang of a string was heard and 
the guard, without a cry tumbled into the court- 
yard, his sword clattering on the stones as he 
fell. Still Mario kept steadily descending and 
finally reached the ground; but now a new 
danger presented itself. The guard failing to 
challenge at the end of his beat, created suspi- 
cion in the mind of the other sentry, who started 
out to find the reason of the non-appearance of 
his comrade. Mario had now crossed the court- 
yard and having heard the guard fall on the 
stones, guessed the reason and thought the coast 
clear and immediately scaled the rough wall. 
Just as he reached the top he came face to face 
with the other sentry. So close were they and 



The Wrong Man. 159 

so taken by surprise that for a moment, both 
stood immovable. Mario was first to act, he 
was unarmed but immediately his hands caught 
the man's arms and pinned them to his sides be- 
fore he could reach his sword. A struggle en- 
sued. 

Hand to hand they fought, neither gaining a 
point. Mario's companions stood silently watch- 
ing the conflict, by the almost constant flashes of 
lightning but were unable to lend any assistance 
to their imperiled master. Finally Mario was 
slowly sliding his hand along the other's arm. 
ISTow he reached the elbow, but still the hand 
steadily moved upward, until with a sudden 
lurch it reached the shoulder. Then with a 
quick spring his hand clasped the sentry's throat. 
Tighter and tighter became his grip until the 
veins in the neck stood out like whip cords. 
Weaker and weaker the man became, his strug- 
gling ceased, his face was black, his tongue pro- 
truded, his body relaxed, the eyes were fixed, 
bulging from his head, then the lifeless form 
sank to the wall with the death rattle in his 
throat. With a mocking laugh Mario heaved a 
sigh of relief and removing the hat and cloak, he 
put them on, then stepping over the prostrate 



160 The Clash of Steel. 

body he began to descend on the other side of 
the wall to join his companions. After Mario 
had reached the other side of the wall, he stopped 
for a moment. A hand from the darkness took 
his and led him to a clump of bushes, where his 
liberators were waiting for him. Then they 
mounted hurriedly and started, for there was no 
time to be lost as it would only be a short time 
until his escape would be discovered and the 
gendarmes would be in full chase. The rain 
was still falling but the lightning and thunder 
had subsided. Onward they urged their horses, 
along the muddy streets. Suddenly there 
sounded behind them the clatter of horses' hoofs 
in hot pursuit. They were the gendarmes, com- 
ing sooner than expected. 

'Taster faster," shouted Mario and the rowles 
of his spurs dug deeper into his laboring horse's 
flanks. The sound in the distance grew nearer 
and nearer and the gendarmes were fast gaining 
upon them. Fleur de Lis was riding gracefully, 
urging her horse with word and whip. The 
Swiss coolly drew his weapon in preparation for 
the meeting. Every now and then Mario would 
cry to them to follow him with greater speed. 
Suddenly, without warning, Francois' horse 



The Wrong Man. 161 

stumbled, fell to his knees, rolled over and was 
unable to rise. Mario seeing his distress, drew 
rein and turned back to assist him. 

"Leave me my lord; leave me or they will 
capture you." 

Every moment brought the gendarmes closer. 
It was too late. They were upon them. There 
was clanking of swords, cries of pain and curses. 
But an awful mistake was being made. Hav- 
ing seen the man fall from his horse and the 
others turn back, they felt certain that it was 
Mario who had been unseated, for they felt that 
this dare-devil would not stop to save another 
man's life at the risk of his own and so they 
paid but little attention to the man who was play- 
ing so much havoc about them, in endeavoring to 
capture the unseated rider. Mario and the rest 
of the band, seeing that all hope for Frangois 
was cut off, fought their way through the circle 
and dashed away at full speed. The gendarmes 
paid little attention to them, but directed all 
their energy in capturing Frangois, who strug- 
gled gracefully, drawing with his arm his cloak, 
more and more about his face so that they would 
not recognize him, in order to give Mario time 

to get a greater distance between them. His 
n 



1 62 The Clash of Steel. 

plan was succeeding admirably and at last he 
surrendered. He was blindfolded in the dark- 
ness and still holding his cloak about his face, he 
was mounted on a horse and guarded by the 
gendarmes, was conveyed toward the chateau. 
As they reached the court-yard it was almost 
day. 

They forced him to dismount, led him to the 
rear of the building and forced him to stand 
and wait their further pleasure. Never once did 
they doubt that they did have the mysterious 
man in the red cloak. 

In silence, save for the echo of the foot-steps 
of the sentry set to watch him, Francois stood 
waiting for the time to disclose himself; only 
when he was certain that all capture of Mario 
was out of the question. In the distance after 
a short time, he heard the regular step of a squad 
of soldiers approaching him. He heard the dull 
thud of a pick at work. But never once did he 
realize that he was playing his game too far. 
Then he heard the order of a captain, he heard 
the click of musketry, he straightened up and 
the realization of what was going on about him, 
suddenly flashed through his mind, but it was 
too late. There was another sharp order, there 



The Wrong Man. 163 

was a terrible roar and Frangois fell forward 
his breast pierced by many bullets. 

A detail of three or four men were left to 
place his remains in the grave that had been 
dug for them. As they drew the cloak from the 
man's face, there was an awful expression of 
horror and terror depicted in the features now 
becoming cold and rigid. With a cry they 
sprang back. It was the wrong man. 



164 The Clash of Steel. 



CHAPTER VII. 

"THEN SIRE I DISOBEY." 

Paris was in a state of excitement at the an- 
nouncement of Mario's escape. The Emperor's 
followers were sullen and fearful. The Bour- 
bons received the news in joyous silence. In 
the few days that followed, the news of Mario's 
escape was felt and confirmed more strongly by 
this character's actions and achievements. This 
mysterious dare-devil was working harder than 
ever before. He would make his appearance it 
seemed, at places where he was least expected, 
striking here and there but, always single- 
handed. He was a valuable tool in the hands 
of the king and the allied forces. Not a bit of 
information ever escaped him. He would enter 
an enemy's camp, converse with the soldiers, 
plan with the generals, but always to his own 
advantage. The name of Mario was better 
known. It was feared from the lowest private 



"Then Sire I Disobey." 165 

to the Emperor himself. If ever a messenger 
was found dead, the name of Mario and the sight 
of the man in the red cloak, with his devilish 
grinning face would flash through every mind. 
If a courier was so fortunate as to return, after 
having met him, all that he could say, was that 
his orders were gone and that the man in the 
red cloak had taken them. He would enter a 
camp at day-break, disguised of course, stay all 
day, gain information, leave late at night by 
some sleeping sentry's post, and then to make 
him sleep sounder, the sentry would be found the 
next morning with a dagger in his breast with a 
dainty red bow tied to the hilt. The bow of 
ribbon, always red, answered all questions and 
left no doubt as to who had committed the 
deed. 

A reward had been placed upon his head but 
every one smiled at the idea of taking this dare- 
devil and no one cared to measure swords with 
him because they said, that his sword could al- 
ways reach just twice as far as theirs. So a few 
days passed. It was now the last days of May 
and Napoleon was fast losing his prestige. The 
coalition consisting of England, Austria, Prussia 
and Sweden as we have said before, was formed, 



1 66 The Clash of Steel. 

and so far had been very successful. Welling- 
ton was at the head of the forces and the king 
had retired to Ghent to await results. Mario was 
at the Chateau de Nuit, while Lily went to the 
King's hiding place. It was now evident that 
there would be a battle which would soon settle 
all strife, for both sides were now massing their 
forces, by marching into Belgium. General 
Grouchy had been detached with about thirty- 
four thousand men to detain Bliicher and both 
Generals were now near Chateau de Nuit, closely 
watching each other's actions. Then a week in 
June wore away and orders were given to 
Grouchy to detain Bliicher, then defeat him in 
battle, then to join Napoleon, who was now near 
Waterloo. 

One evening the King was sitting in a room of 
the chateau. He was musing, idly drumming 
on the arm of his chair, lost in a dream, absently 
looking through the open door, through which 
the rays of the setting sun were streaming. 
Silently he sat for some time and dusk was 
slowly falling. Suddenly, the silhouette of a 
woman was seen, outlined against the rosy sky. 
It was Fleur de Lis. Her face was flushed and 
excitement was plainly written on her features. 



"Then Sire I Disobey." 167 

Bowing to the "King she said: "Sire, I have 
news." 

"From "Wellington?" he asked looking to- 
wards her. 

"Yes and he says, that we must act quickly. 
Napoleon is now near Waterloo and a clash is 
inevitable. General Grouchy has been detached 
to keep Bliicher in check. Wellington desires 
that by some means, Grouchy must be detained, 
so as to let Bliicher join him." 

"But how shall this be accomplished, we have 
but little time and Grouchy may be marching 
now? Perhaps by false orders?" 

"That may do. But at any rate Mario must 
know and at once. There is no time to be lost; 
he must understand Wellington's orders." 

"But there is no one to carry the order, 
Francois is not here. We must wait for him 
to return." 

"Sire Francois will never come." 

"What do you mean?" 

"He was killed at Paris, because he was mis- 
taken for Mario." 

"Poor fellow! Do you know Fleur de Lis, 
that he was a brave man, a good friend, a good 
companion, and there were none better or more 
loyal in serving his king. I regret this very 



1 68 The Clash of Steel. 

much; but such is the fate of one who follows 
the wars" said the King, and he again resumed 
the revery he had been in before Fleur de Lis 
came, and a large tear was brushed from his eye. 

"But Sire we must act, and at once" said Fleur 
de Lis disturbing the silence. 

"I know not what to do; I have none here 
that I can trust with the order, it will have to 
wait." 

"To wait may cost you your throne, we must 
act, or all may be lost, there is but one who can 
carry that order." 

"Who?" 

"Louis the Eighteenth must carry that order 
or sacrifice his throne." 

"I? Lily you are mad." 

"I may be Sire, but that is all that will save 
your throne, for if Grouchy joins Napoleon all 
will be lost. Sire will you go ?" 

"No. I shall trust to fate." 

"Fate seldom favors cowards. Sire will you 
go?" 

"No; I shall wait, life is more precious than 
a kingdom. I would rather lose." 

"No, Sire you shall not lose. I will deliver 
the order." 

"You shall not," 



"Then Sire I Disobey." 169 

"Your success demands it. I will go." 

"You shall not, I command you." 

"Then Sire, I disobey," and she disappeared 
through the door. Soon a clatter of hoofs was 
heard and Louis nervously paced the floor, every 
now and then approaching the window. Lily 
rode hard and in due time, just as dusk was 
settling about the forest, she came in sight of the 
chateau. She knew that the place was guarded, 
so she decided to take the tunnel. Her horse 
was now covered with foam ; the night was grow- 
ing dark and she cautiously rode up to the en- 
trance of the tunnel. 

Although he was in ignorance of the fact, a 
guard was standing not more than a few yards 
from its entrance. Lily had advanced and see- 
ing the danger turned and started in the opposite 
direction, urging on the tired beast. The guard 
challenged and seeing the figure flee, leveled his 
gun and fired, but Lily went on untouched. 
She now tried the next, but advanced more cau- 
tiously this time but met with the same result, 
only a little closer call, for the ball passed 
through the rim of her hat. There was no use 
to try the tunnels, there was a guard at every 
fifty yards, so she withdrew a distance to think 
of some plan. 



170 The Clash of Steel 



CHAPTEE VIII. 

A WAKNING IN TIME. 

In the window of the banquet hall she could 
see a light burning and felt that Mario was there. 
She also wondered if he knew how closely his 
chateau was guarded, for already Grouchy be- 
gan to suspect that the Lord of Chateau de Nuit 
and Mario were one and the same person. She 
knew that he must be warned and also that he 
must have the order, so she decided upon a bold 
stroke. She would make a dash for the main 
gate of the court-yard and try to surprise the 
guard. Once within the enclosure she would 
be safe, for the danger lay in passing the line. 
So she slowly cantered about the building until 
on a direct line with the gate. Then she dis- 
mounted and took off her outer skirt and tore it 
into four pieces. Then she tore up some grass 
and filled each piece of cloth and bound one on 
each of the horse's hoofs. Then she took her 



A Warning in Time. 171 

pistol in hand and sent the tired beast forward 
with a bound. The horse made little noise with 
his muffled hoofs and she rode furiously. When 
about two hundred yards from the gate she un- 
expectedly ran aside of two guards, who had 
been carrying on a conversation. Like an arrow 
she was past them, but they had heard her com- 
ing for she was so close to them. They did not 
wait to challenge, but fired at the disappearing 
figure. Lily leaned forward in the saddle, over 
the horse's neck and the first ball sped wide its 
mark, but the next struck above the temple, just 
grazing the skull and leaving a furrow in the 
flesh, from which the blood flowed furiously. 

She reeled in the saddle for a moment but still 
remained conscious, slightly benumbed by the 
blow. Still she rode on. There was a numb- 
ness about her head and a sense of giddiness over- 
came her mind but she remained seated, brush- 
ing away with her arm the blood which blinded 
her. After a few moments she reached the 
court-yard and dismounting she set the horse 
free. At the door the old gray haired man met 
her but she brushed him aside and mounted the 
stairs. Her head was whirling and she stag- 
gered on, the wound in her head bleeding furi- 



172 The Clash of Steel. 

ously, covering her face. Mario was sitting in 
a chair in a state of study. As he heard her 
enter he raised his head. Lily staggered to the 
table for support. Her lips had lost their color 
and her voice was weak. 

"Mario the chateau is guarded on all sides, be 
careful," she was reeling and she wiped away 
the blood from her eyes. 

'1 come from the King and bring orders from 
Wellington. Grouchy, Grouchy," her voice 
was choked and her hand trembled with weak- 
ness. "Grouchy you must detain ," and be- 
fore he could reach her she fell heavily to the 
floor. Mario and the old man rushed to her. 
"Gaston call one of the monks." The man 
obeyed and descended the steps. "She is a true 
good girl and could I love ." Mario mur- 
mured ; but the old man entering with the priest, 
cut short his musings. 

"Take care of her, my Father. Remove her 
to a secret chamber, she is wounded in the head, 
spare no care to restore her as speedily as you 
can." Mario and the priest then carried her to 
the secret chamber, lighted by the old tottering 
man. 

The next day was the 14th of June and it 



A Warning in Time. 173 

wore itself away and night set in with a drench- 
ing rain and high wind, that whistled and 
moaned in the tree tops, driving dark banks of 
clouds from the west, giving promise of a wild 
night of thunder storm. For days both 
Grouchy's forces and those of Bliicher lay 
quietly, only now and then a skirmish or a picket 
shot at his post by some sharp-shooter. 

One cannot tell what the dice of fate will 
decide. Misfortune's strokes are sharp and give 
no warning, they are like lightning, first blind 
the victim then strike, leaving only blackened 
hopes. Some people are doomed to misfortune 
and always follow its dictations. One of this 
class was General Grouchy and just at this 
period, he was singled out, to make the mistake 
which has changed the fate of the world and will 
be talked about for ages and ages. 

He decided upon a bold stroke. That night 
he had intended to attack Chateau de Nuit, take 
its lord, whom he suspected to be Mario, then 
he would return late that same night and attack 
Bliicher. Then when he had defeated him in 
battle, he would march on and join Napoleon, 
who was now near Waterloo, where it was but a 
question of a short time when a conflict would 
take place, 



174 The Clash of Steel. 

With a detachment of fifty cavalrymen, he 
set out wrapped deep in his cloak to ward off the 
drenching rain. It was just the kind of night 
to make his secret arrest and then his bold at- 
tack, but fortune also had a hand in the game. 
They struck an easy canter, it being very hard 
for the horses to make much headway over the 
soggy ground. The rain had died down into a 
steady drizzle, but the clouds growing darker on 
the horizon and an occasional mutter of thunder, 
gave the assurance that nature promised a war 
of the elements. 

He reached and entered the court-yard with 
a rush. He dismounted and knocked heavily on 
the strong wooden door. A voice within called 
out: "Who is there?" 

"Open and you shall see" cried Grouchy in 
harsh tones not enjoying the rush of the wind 
and hoping to take the place by surprise, rather 
than by force. The door slowly swung open and 
an old gray haired man, stood holding a flaming 
torch high in air. 

"Is your Lord here?" 

"Xo Monsieur, he has gone on to Paris." 

"Come that lie may cost you your head. Re- 
veal his whereabouts or you are lost." 



A Warning in Time. 175 

"I ani telling the truth," said the old man 
very firmly. 

"What proof can you give ?" 

"Search," said the old man. 

"These chateaux often have secret hiding 
places, but should he be -found in the building, 
that lie will be your condemnation. Your old 
withering body shall grace the boughs of some 
old oak out yonder," said Grouchy as he began to 
search. 

The General watched him closely as his men 
began to search the building, but the old gray 
haired man still retained that same firmness, 
which seemed to make him half believe, that the 
old man told the truth. Search where they 
would, no one could they find in the building, 
but the old man who admitted them, and he 
looked on in silence as doors were torn open and 
the house ransacked in general. 

Grouchy was baf&ed. He knew not what to 
do. Finally he concluded to remain an hour or 
so, as he thought that possibly the spy might re- 
turn in the meantime and as he did not care to 
encounter the storm, which would soon burst in 
all its fury. He had an abundance of time, 
for he would not attack Bliicher until midnight, 



176 The Clash of Steel. 

so he thought that he might as well spend the 
time in a comfortable place and enjoy a good 
meal. 

His men were made comfortable in the base- 
ment, while he mounted the steps to the hall on 
the second floor and ordered the old man to 
bring a supper and build a fire in the huge fire- 
place, in order to dry his wet clothes. This the 
old man did, bringing him a good meal and set- 
ting a flask of wine on the table, he left without 
a word. Then he sat at the table and ate and 
drank, never once giving it a thought, that the 
wine might be drugged. He could hear his men 
down below, bumping their glasses, praising the 
wine of the Lord of Chateau de ISTuit and crying 
loudly for more. He finished his meal and pull- 
ing a great arm chair before the hearth, sat 
smoking a cigarette and gazing about him. 

The room of massive dimensions, was but illy 
lighted by a candelabrum on the table and the 
fire-light in the grate cast fitful figures on the 
high and rough looking ceiling. On the walls 
hung massive paintings of soldiers, probably 
ancestors of some of the lords of the chateau. 
The room had an uncanny wierd appearance, but 
to a soldier these things appear for a moment, 



A Warning in Time. 177 

only for a moment and then pass away. How 
slowly an hour passed. He looked at his watch 
and saw that it was nearly half past nine. By 
midnight he meant to have Bliicher defeated 
and then be on his way to Napoleon. Drawing 
a chair to the table, which had been cleared by 
the old man, with pen and paper he began to 
plan his movements against Bliicher and soon be- 
came so interested in his work that he began to 
murmur aloud as he planned. 

Slowly he began to become drowsy and to 
arouse himself, he began to pace the floor. 
Often, he would stop and be aroused from his 
reveries, by what seemed to be the penetrating- 
gaze of a pair of sharp eyes. His drowsiness 
steadily increased and soon he became so sleepy, 
that he fell in the chair, still standing before the 
hearth, over which hung a huge picture of some 
noble ancestor. Soon he fell asleep. 



12 



iy8 The Clash of Steel. 



CHAPTEK IX. 

VICTORY AND DEATH. 

Only a few moments seemed to have passed, 
when he was suddenly awakened by the clock 
in the tower striking eleven. The drowsiness 
had not completely left him. He stretched and 
yawning said: "I must go, or by midnight 
BKicher will be on his way to Wellington," and 
he started to arise. 

"Do not go yet," said a stern voice as slowly 
the great picture over the fire-place swung back. 
A strong well-built cavalier, stood behind in a 
niche in the wall which led to a secret passage- 
way. Grouchy rubbed his eyes and tried to 
convince himself that he was only dreaming, and 
that perhaps the drug in the wine had forced the 
delirium. He reached for his weapon, but be- 
fore eating, he had lain aside all his arms on the 
table, many feet away. The man stood like a 
statue, his head erect, his eyes sparkling and a 



Victory and Death. 179 

malicious smile playing about his lips. At his 
side he wore his sword, which clanked loudly as 
he climbed from the niche in the wall, never 
once removing his eyes from those of the Gen- 
eral, pushing the picture back into place as he 
did so. 

It was Mario. 

The General was dumbfounded. He could 
not move. With what grace Mario seated him- 
self in a chair near the General. The malicious 
smile never left his face, but seemed to mock his 
captive in his misery. At last the General found 
his speech. 

"I have come to arrest you sir." 

"On what grounds?" 

"That you are a spy." 

Mario only smiled. "But before going away 
to captivity and death, let us have a little con- 
versation." 

The General did not dare to move for Mario's 
hand touched his sword at the least stir he made. 
Thus they sat talking, while time rolled on, and 
Grouchy upon whom Napoleon's fate rested was 
utterly helpless. Mario seemed to delight in 



180 The Clash of Steel. 

his misery, for he watched his anxiety with pleas- 
ure. The rain began to swish against the win- 
dows and loud bursts of thunder vibrated 
through the great hall, while flashes of lightning 
seemed to cleave the heaven's breast and make 
the world as light as day for an instant. 

"Napoleon and Wellington will soon meet 
who will be the victor?" Mario tauntingly 
asked. 

"Napoleon" said the General sullenly. 

"Were you not to attack Bliicher and then 
join Napoleon?" 

"I intend to attack him tonight." 

"You have not much time. He leaves to join 
Wellington at midnight." 

Things were getting desperate, great drops 
of sweat stood on the General's forehead. Some- 
thing must be done he thought. Already the 
clock was striking the quarter before twelve. 
The storm still raged in unabated fury and 
flashes of lightning came and died at regular 
intervals. Grouchy could bear it no longer. 
He arose suddenly and Mario did likewise and 
facing the General began: 

"There is but one way. You have me in your 
power and I have you in mine. I am a spy in 



Victory and Death. 181 

the hands of "Wellington and the King. Your 
men are drugged on the floor below and of the 
same wine you drank, but not as much as they. 
Come" said he never once removing his glance, 
"to this balcony." 

The General obeyed him and stepped out into 
the cool air, hoping that by surprise he might 
strangle Mario; but he had probably foreseen 
this for he kept the General at a sword's dis- 
tance. The rain drove against their faces and 
the thunder rolled with a deafening noise, that 
shook the whole building. A clear piercing note 
of a bugle sounded in the distance and just then 
the heavens opened with a glaring light and 
revealed a line of struggling cavalry and cannon, 
laboring through the mud and rain. . 

Mario stood with his hand out-stretched, point- 
ing to the struggling mass which the lightning 
had shown the amazed General. That same 
ghastly smile played across his features and his 
eyes glittered with a malicious light. Grouchy 
was desperate. He felt that there might still 
be time enough for him to reach his camp and 
overtake Bliicher. Suddenly Mario turned to 
him and said: "I will give you one chance. 
By midnight the last soldier will have left 



1 82 The Clash of Steel. 

Blucher's camp. You still have time enough to 
overtake him. Come, we, will fight the battle 
which shall decide the fate of nations." 

He took from the wall an old pair of rapiers 
that showed a stain of blood. He gave the 
choice and Grouchy selected. 

"Come," said the General "on guard." 
Mario did not seem to be in a hurry, but 
slowly raised his rapier, letting the blade slide 
through his hand until it bent in an arch above 
his head, never once removing his eyes from 
those of the General, he suddenly loosed the 
blade, which released from its tension hissed 
through the air and struck the guard with a 
ringing click. The wind moaned dolefully 
around the old building, loud peals of thunder 
rolled along the heavens and the lightning 
seemed to play on their blades as they slid along 
each other with a rasping sound. Now Mario 
thrusts and the General parries; now the General 
lunges and Mario guards: but neither gains a 
point. Mario was fighting for time, w r hile 
Grouchy was battling with despair to save his 
commander from defeat. Time went on ; slowly 
but surely Mario was forcing him step by step 
to the wall as they slowly circled around the 



Victory and Death. 183 

room. Nearer and nearer his blade came to 
the heart at every stroke. Mario was a master 
hand at the art and never did he show himself to 
better advantage. Never once did that smile 
leave his face or his eye lose its brightness. 
Their breath came hard and heavy, a loud peal 
of thunder died away in the distance, just as the 
clock in the tower tolled the hour of midnight. 
A low laugh broke from Mario and through his 
labored breathing he hissed "it is too late; 
Napoleon is defeated." 

The General began to despair and felt that 
it would be better to throw aside his rapier and 
let him kill him, than to meet his disgrace. The 
fate of his commander depended on a stroke, 
and a bold one and he again took heart. But 
should that stroke fail, all would be lost. He 
watched and soon an opportunity presented itself, 
either Mario felt too certain that the affair would 
end in his favor, or now because he was so sure 
of Napoleon's defeat and that he had gained his 
point, he became reckless. With a quick rasp- 
ing stroke the General sent Mario's rapier hissing 
across the room, and his blade sank deep in his 
heart. He released his hold on the rapier and 
Mario slowly tottered, swayed, staggered and 



184 The Clash of Steel. 

fell in a heap on the floor, the weapon still quiver- 
ing in his breast. 

Grouchy did not wait for his hat or cloak but 
started for the door with a bound. A figure 
barred his way. It was the old tottering, gray 
haired man and in his hand he held a long 
glittering knife. Mario now writhing in agony, 
raised himself on his elbow and turned his glassy 
eyes to the door and saw the old man raising the 
knife. 

"Let him pass Gaston; let him pass. It is too 
late Napoleon has lost and I have won," and 
he again sank to the floor writhing in his blood. 
The old man reluctantly lowered the knife and 
stepped aside to let Grouchy pass. 

Mario's life was fast ebbing and he called for 
a priest. Soon the old man returned with a 
monk who knelt beside the dying man. His 
speech was now broken and weak; but he still 
wore the smile of triumph. 

"Father are you here, I cannot see. Come 
closer." 

"I am right by your side, what is your wish? 
Shall we remove the rapier?" 

"No, no, let it be, it ends a life of misery and 
trouble. My work is finished, now let me die in 
peace." 



Victory and Death. 185 

His eyes were glassy and his mind wandered. 
He was continually reaching with his trembling 
hand to his breast as if in search of something. 
His lips were pale and trembled as he spoke. 

"Father in my doublet, near my heart, quick, 
quick I cannot live long." 

The priest hastily opened the doublet and saw 
hanging to a golden chain a locket which was 
now covered with blood. This he removed from 
the dying man's neck. "Weaker and weaker 
Mario's voice became. Suddenly, he staggered 
to his feet. He seized the rapier which had 
fallen from his hand, and assuming a position for 
attack, his eyes flashing, he began to lunge and 
parry and retreat, staggering with weakness. 
"Come on, come on, I'll fight you now to the 
end, here's where I gain my victory of 
vengeance or I die without it. Go back to her 
Napoleon, go back to her defeated, disgraced, 
dishonored. You have won in one battle, you 
have gained the spoils of one victory, but I now 
have mine. Come on" he shouted, "come on, 
our score is almost settled. Go back to her and 
tell her that you have lost; you have lost to me, 
to me the " he tottered, struggled to raise from 
his knees on which he had fallen, but death was 



1 86 The Clash of Steel. 

conquering him and he fell to the floor. Then 
he raised his head, a calmness had come over him 
and the film was already on his eye. 

"Take that my Father, just as it is to the 
Empress Maria Louisa. You are a monk, you 
will gain admittance. Tell her that I the 
count " A shudder passed over his body his 
eyes became fixed and Mario was dead, without 
giving his name to the listening monk, but he 
knew his commission. 



A Mystery Revealed. 187 



CHAPTER X. 

A MYSTERY REVEALED. 

Some time after a monk called upon the de- 
throned Empress and asked for an audience. 
This was gained and he entered a room finely 
furnished and a woman approached him and 
bowed low. 

"What do you desire, my good Father?" 

"My lady, I come with a strange message and 
my duty is indeed hard for me to bear. But I 
never fail to fulfill a dying man's last request." 

"A dying man? But who can he be?" 

"A character strange and mysterious and 
although I have been with him for some time, 
he has seemed to me more of fanciful or super- 
natural creation." 

"But his name?" 

"I knew him by many. Mario." 

"Mario?" 

"Yes my lady, the man in the red cloak." 



1 88 The Clash of Steel. 

"But what does this concern me?" 

"He sends a message." 

"To me?" 

"Yes to you and desired me to give unto you 
this locket, which was about his neck and is dyed 
with his blood, which he shed for the King, but I 
should judge more for revenge." 

The woman took the locket. It was covered 
with stains of blood, which the monk had not 
erased. It was beautifully set with diamonds 
and rubies. She idly, as in a dream turned it 
over and over in her hands. She then opened it 
and staggered to a chair for support an exclama- 
tion breaking from her lips, "Eugene." After 
awhile she regained her self-possession. 

"But how did he die my Father?" 

"By the sword." 

"At whose hands?" 

"General Grouchey's of Napoleon's army." 

"He is a traitor. He failed to appear." 

"He failed to appear Madame, but he is no 
traitor; he was detained." 

"By Mario?" 

"Yes." 

"My Father I am about to tell you a story, 
which I trust you shall never breathe to another 



A Mystery Revealed. 189 

living being. You are in mystery and doubt as 
to who this strange man was. As you will re- 
member when I was a princess at the court of 
Austria, my hand was sought by Xapoleon. I 
accepted his suit and joined iny life with his 
and ascended the throne of France, as Empress. 
Several years before this, while yet but a young 
girl, I was riding one day in a coach through 
the streets of Vienna. The people on all sides 
were bowing and cheering me, for I was a 
favorite. Suddenly, the horses took fright and 
started to run at a terrific speed. The carriage 
swayed from side to side and the spectators stood 
by dumbfounded, unable to lend assistance. The 
coachman was hurled from the box and died 
beneath the wheels. Onward the maddened 
team rushed. I was told that a certain noble- 
man, the Count Eugene was riding on horse 
back followed by his courtiers, when he came 
upon the crowds of terrified citizens. Erom 
several he gained the information, that the 
Princess Maria Louisa was being drawn to death 
and destruction by a pair of maddened horses. 
Waiting to hear no more he dashed the rowels in 
the horse's flanks and at break neck speed pur- 
sued the fleeing team. Then began a race of 



190 The Clash of Steel. 

life and death. Onward we rushed for quite a 
distance, but the count was fast gaining upon 
the team. A few moments after I heard the 
clatter of hoofs in hot pursuit and then I fainted 
and knew no more. I was told afterward, how 
urging his noble beast forward he had gained so 
closely upon the team, that but a few strides 
more and he would reach the. reins. The foam 
was flowing from his horse's flanks, its nostrils 
were dilated, its eyes bulging, but he forced him 
onward, until he reached one of the horses' 
bridles then, leaning over he seized it by the 
bit and just as his horse sank to the ground, 
bleeding from its nostrils and mouth, he con- 
quered the maddened team and thus saved my 
life. 

A short time after that I met my rescuer at 
a court ball. Immediately a love affair sprang 
up between us and we were secretly betrothed. 
Then came Napoleon and offered his hand. I 
refused the count and accepted Napoleon's offer. 
Some time after that the Count Eugene dis- 
appeared and no one knew where he had gone. 
This, my Father, has been a revelation to me, 
although many and many a time has suspicion 
lurked in my mind, that this strange, mysterious 



A Mystery Revealed. 191 

man in the red cloak might be my former 
betrothed. Go now, my Father, let this be a 
secret between thee and me, let no one know of 
this. Here is a goodly sum to reward you. 
Bowing low, he kissed Madame's hand. Her 
head was turned away, suppressed sobs broke 
the silence in the room and he withdrew. 



At last the moment came and the battle which 
decided the fate of the world was begun. The 
night before the battle of Waterloo, the Duke 
of Wellington was in the midst of the gayety 
and splendor of a grand ball, given in his honor 
by the Duchess of Richmond. Lightly the 
dancers swayed in perfect rythm to the strains 
of sweet music. IsTewly made sweethearts hung 
on the soldier lover's arm. Glances were ex- 
changed and love words were spoken, little know- 
ing that perhaps they might be their last. 
Suddenly, above the laughter and gayety of this 
grand splendor, there burst upon their ears a 
loud, deep sound. For a moment all paused and 
then suspicions were again cast to the winds. 
But there it was again, there was no doubting 
this time, "It is, it is the cannon's opening roar" 



192 The Clash of Steel. 

came the whispered words from every month. 
Officers and soldiers bid hasty farewells, many of 
them their last and dashed to the front. Charge 
after charge was made and repulse after repulse 
was given. Blow after blow was dealt and 
received, as the day wore itself away. All day 
long they battled. There were volleys of 
musketry, there was booming of cannon, there 
were riderless horses dashing hither and thither, 
only a few drops of crimson on the saddle to 
tell the tale. There were groans on every side. 
There were men, rambling in unconsciousness, 
seeing in their dreams their homes in France, 
their loved ones about them, their sweethearts, 
their wives, the prattling children, as the scenes 
of quiet and peace arose in a mist before their 
eyes on this turbulent battlefield. Day wore 
itself slowly away. Wellington looked and 
longed for night and Bliicher, while Kapoleon 
sent messenger after messenger to recall Grouchy 
to his aid, but in vain. That General, that 
Emperor, that Conqueror, stood on the field with 
folded arms, a frown on his face, viewing the 
awful carnage before him, seeing victory within 
his grasp, if that one man would only come. 
Fate, it seemed, had played against him this day. 



A Mystery Revealed. 193 

Just as dusk, as if ashamed of her day's work 
of destruction, was slowly spreading the folds of 
her inky mantle over "the dead and dying in one 
red burial blent," Napoleon made one more 
effort. He drew that old guard, which had 
served him so faithfully and well in days gone 
by, into one solid phalanx and addressed them in 
tones of determination and pathos. He drew 
for them pictures, where they could see them- 
selves fighting an enemy which they had con- 
quered years before. Then he gave the order 
to charge. That grand and noble line of soldiers, 
who had followed him from victory to victory 
and had lost with him at Moscow, made their 
last charge. 

Up to the muzzles of the guns the exhausted 
men staggered, some tottering and falling 
beneath the shower of bullets, before they 
reached the line. Again and again they charged 
and again and again they were repulsed. Officer 
after officer was shot down and at last all seemed 
lost. ISTo one was there to lead. The soldiers 
began to fall back, awful holes were made in 
the line, when suddenly a figure sprang forward, 
seized the standard and rushed into the thickest 
of the fight, shouting for them to follow. It 

13 



194 The Clash of Steel. 

was the Captain Pierre Moran. For a moment 
everything seemed to vanish before them. 
Volley after volley rang out. Pierre staggered 
and tottered, but onward he led his few follow- 
ers. Another volley and he fell, bleeding from 
wounds in his breast and head, the colors which 
had seen so many victories completely covering 
him in their folds. Heavy cannonading was 
heard. "It is Grouchy" cried the French with 
joy. It was Bliicher. The soldiers were as if 
struck dumb. The lines swayed for an instant, 
tottered, then broke and fled. It was all over 
the die had been cast, and Napoleon had lost, 
and all because Grouchy failed to appear. 



In Morte Quietus Est. 195 



CHAPTER XL 

IN MORTE QUIETUS EST. 

Day was slowly waning and the tired sun was 
slowly sinking to rest. Fleecy clouds near the 
horizon were tinged with rose. Chateau de Nuit 
stood black and solemn, as if mourning for its 
dead master. Up in the banquet room he lay 
in his coffin of black, draped with fiery silk. 
Its folds falling loosely to the floor in solemn 
grandeur. He was dressed in the garb of a 
cavalier, of red, all red and the cloak of the 
same color, was carefully draped about him, with 
its flaming elegance drooping in folds as he was 
wont to wear it in life. Even in death his face 
still held his last smile of contented victory. 

The high rough walls looked upon the dead 
with solemn silence. No more would the echoes 
awaken to his footfalls and out of respect for 
their absent lord, it seemed they held a deep 
silence, as if they had forgotten all else but the 



196 The Clash of Steel. 

reverence due their silent master. At his head 
and feet stood two soldiers, in full armor, their 
visors closed, and immovable as statues. 

Dusk had almost lengthened its shadows into 
the silent gloom of night when the clatter of 
horses' hoofs sounded in the court-yard below. 
Two figures mounted the stairs and at the door, 
they uncovered, before entering the chamber of 
the dead. They were Wellington and the King. 
Slowly they approached the bier and stood in 
silence, gazing on the waxy features of the man 
to whom they owed their greatness. Thus they 
stood for some time, until they were interrupted 
by foot-steps. A figure entered the room, her 
hair loose, falling about her shoulders and 
temples with lustrous black curls. Her eye was 
wild and wandering. Above her temple on her 
pallid face gleamed a scar with a brilliant 
redness. 

"Where is Mario? Why doesn't he come? 
Why doesn't he come ?" and her articulation was 
broken, now with sobs and then with a peal of 
musical laughter. The King and Duke stood 
aside with bowed heads to let her pass. She 
seemed to take no notice of them, she sought only 
one person and him she could not find. 



In Morte Quietus Est. 197 

"Where is he ? Do you not know ? Where is 
Mario; can no one tell? He will come. He 
loves me. I know he will come. He will 
come," and she broke into a ringing laugh, which 
soon changed into sobbing. 

"Do you not know me Fleur de Lis?" asked the 
King. She started as from a dream and looked 
up into his face 'with her sad searching eyes. 
"No I No ! You are not Mario. You are not 
Mario," and she approached .the bier. Suddenly 
she stopped and fixed her eyes upon the dead. 
A shriek broke from her lips and she threw her- 
self upon the coffin, sobbing and laughing in 
turn. "I knew he would come. I knew he 
would not leave me," she murmured. "He is 
not dead. He is not dead. Mario ! Mario !" 
and the echoes only made answer by repeating 
the name she had shrieked aloud. Then she 
arose, her eye wildly wandering, she slowly left 
the room. 

A low chant swelled along the halls and a 
procession with solemn, swinging, steps and 
their heads cowled, six monks entered the room 
and stood by the coffin. Then the King ad- 
vanced and unbuckled his sword, placed the 
jeweled hilt in the hands of the dead man and 



198 The Clash of Steel. 

withdrew a step or two. Then a deep muttering 
drum rolled loud and long, then at regular 
intervals. The monks took up the dead and with 
solemn and measured steps bore it from the room, 
followed by the guard of honor and the King and 
Wellington. A few men followed closely 
behind, amongst these was the old tottering gray 
haired man. 

Slowly the procession pursued their walk to 
the court-yard and crossing the stone pavement, 
they came to the newly made grave. Slowly, 
amidst the rolling of the drum and the sobs of 
the followers, he was lowered into the grave. 
The King then approached and after a short 
prayer, ending with the words " in morte 
quietus est " and with a parring glance they 
left. In silence the King and the Duke rode 
for awhile, then the King spoke : " He was a 
strange man." 

" Very. Who was he ? " 

" I do not know." Then darkness and silence 
closed around them. 

In the outskirts of Paris, in the heart of a 
forest, stood an old nunnery. One could see the 
good sisters, moving about in the garden and 



In Morte Quietus Est. 199 

whenever the angelus sounded, one would single 
out in particular a maiden, beautiful, with down- 
cast glances, cross herself devoutly and count 
her beads. Could we draw nearer and hear her 
prayer we would be stirred by its pathos and 
melancholy. One day the Mother Superior 
found her in the shadow of the wall, seeking 
comfort from the rays of the mid-summer's sun 
and bending over her asked her, "sister why did 
you ever take our vows?" A tear-drop hung on 
her long lashes her breath came fast, for that 
question probably awoke dreams of past days. 
For a moment she remained in silence, a silence 
so deep one could hear the rippling of the dis- 
tant brook and the call of a bird for its lost 
mate. Then she raised her eyes and turning 
towards her Mother Superior she said, "I will 
give you an answer which you might think 
strange but I will say only these few words then 
ask me no more. 'Love is but the prelude to 
marriage as the first act to a tragedy; shun the 
prelude and the play will cease.' ' 

This was all she said. Hiding her face in her 
hands she sobbed bitterly and again she broke 
the silence saying, "I am following the advice 
of a very dear friend, which was, 'place love 



200 The Clash of Steel. 

in the shackles of forgetfulness and let honor 
be your only shrine of worship.' ' Without 
a word the Mother Superior withdrew, leav- 
ing her to dream and forget the days which 
brought pain and joy and thus we leave her 
with silence drawing her curtain about her feel- 
ings and her life. 



For many years after when strangers passed 
near the Chateau de Nuit, a figure in white 
would stop them and looking into their faces 
would turn away with a look of disappointment 
and murmur: "No it is not Mario, but he will 
come, he will come." Then an old gray haired 
man, leaning on a cane would tell them "she 
will not harm you; she is only mad." At night 
a song would be heard from the dark walls of 
Chateau de Nuit, the air wild and sad, then the 
peasants would shake their heads and say, "it is 
the voice of night in song." 




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