THb HAH WTM TH, a\r r> ( i . AI<
CARL REUTTI MASON
AUTHOR OF DEATH'S CONFESSION.
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
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.
I. A FATAL MISTAKE 7
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
I. THE BURNING OF Moscow 125
II. EXILE 130
III. CAUGHT IN A NET 136
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
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-
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
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:
"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.
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
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
Accepted. 3 1
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
"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
"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
"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?"
"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
"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
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
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
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
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
"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 ? "
"I should then die for a good cause your
"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
"And the name of your chateau."
"Chateau de Nuit."
"A peculiar name, where is it located."
"On the boundaries of France, Belgium and
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?"
"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"
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
"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."
"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
"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."
"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
"He is forced on by more than love of King
"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
correct me when I was going to call him by a
"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?"
"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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"Now that you know me, allow me to intro-
duce my friend Madamoiselle
Madame's Visit. 57
"Eugenie de Veres, daughter of Baron de
"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
"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
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
"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
"This" said the prince "is the -art hall of the
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"Ah I thought the name you have was as-
"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
"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.
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
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
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-
"Not in the least; we are always pleased to
see your Grace. But the play, does it suit your
"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
"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."
"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
"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
"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
"!N"o no" cried Madame "I cannot think of
"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
"In fact the Empress is- confidential to a cer-
"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?"
"And you want me to be one also."
"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
"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
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-
"Gaston have everything in preparation to
leave in a day or so. We shall soon leave Paris
"Monsieur, a message for you," and the valet
handed him a sealed letter which the prince hast-
"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.
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
" 'It is never late at Madame Stilsits" is our
motto Monsieur, but come and I shall introduce
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
"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
"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.
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
"What is he going to do" thought she spell-
"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
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
"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
"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
"I visited the Empress this afternoon."
"She wondered at my strange acquaintance at
"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
"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
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
"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
"Madame has heard my advice; you run your
"It is my own money invested and if I lose,
it is my own money lost, you will get your fee
"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
"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?"
"Because I am rich, strange and mysterious."
"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.
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
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-*
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.
"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-
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
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?"
"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.
"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-
"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-
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-
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
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
"Eugenie what is it? I can see something is
"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."
"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
"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
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
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
"Madame is very ill, and I am going fo,r some
medicine from the doctor. Quick saddle her
"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
"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
"Madamoiselle" the prince said "I asked and
you promised that this affair of honor would be
"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
"Is it not enough to make one attempt?" he
"What is the meaning of this Madamoiselle,
the endangerment of your life?" enquired the
"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
"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
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
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-
"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-
"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
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-
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.
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,
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-
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
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-
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-
"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
Then there was a cry "save yourself Majesty:
save yourself Napoleon, the house is undermined
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
"I beg Monsieur's pardon but does he leave
"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-
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
"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
"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
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
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
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-
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.
146 The Clash of Steel.
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."
"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
"Nothing is impossible. We will try. I
have a plan. Call up the Swiss he is here is he
"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
"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
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
"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?"
"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
"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
"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
"]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.
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
"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
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
The Wrong Man. 157
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-
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-
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
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
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
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.
"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
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
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
"From "Wellington?" he asked looking to-
"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
"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
"To wait may cost you your throne, we must
act, or all may be lost, there is but one who can
carry that order."
"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
"No; I shall wait, life is more precious than
a kingdom. I would rather lose."
"No, Sire you shall not lose. I will deliver
"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
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
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
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
"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
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
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.
iy8 The Clash of Steel.
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
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
"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-
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
"Napoleon" said the General sullenly.
"Were you not to attack Bliicher and then
"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
"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
"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
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
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
"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-
"But his name?"
"I knew him by many. 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."
"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."
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
" 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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