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Frontispiece by George F. Gray 

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Copyright, 1906, by 
£. Grant Richards 

Copyright, 1907, by 

John W. Luce & Company 

Boston, Bfiass., U. S. A. 







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The Plimpton Press Norwood Mass. USA. 

The whole city was one blase of light; in eveiy window 
lighted candles had been placed, and almost every room 
from the first floor up to the attics contained an inner 
pyramid of light, formed by a glittering Christmas tree. 
It was Christmas eve, and although the streets were far 
less crowded than they had been on any night during 
the last three weeks, plenty of people were moving 
about in them. Folks who had not bought a tree 
themselves nevertheless took a keen interest in the trees 
of their neighbours; and those who had a tree and chil- 
dren of their own were glad to draw back the window- 
curtains so that these childless ones might see the brave 
preparations they had made. As on a mountain, the 
trees gradually grew smaller as the height increased, 
but those one could see from the street were dazzling 
indeed, lit with hundreds of coloured tapers and flashing 
with gold globes and silver stars; festooned with bright 
ribbcms and hung with a myriad tinsel trifles. But one 
felt that the others, which one could not see because 
they were hidden away under the high-pitched roofs, 
ought to have given, at least, as much pleasure; since, 
though they were no doubt less gorgeous to look at, 
they had really coist so much more. 
iQ Most of the sightseers found their way sooner or 

0Q later to the wide open space between the museum and 



the new municipal theatre, where the miniature town 
of stalls, which had hitherto been busy with the sale of 
Christmas-tree decorations, now oflFered every variety 
of temptation in the way of food. There were Frank- 
fort sausages to be eaten piping hot with a slice of rye 
bread, and a delectable kind of currant loaf, frosted 
with sugar and shaped like a long French roll, that 
comes from Dresden, while on all sides were displayed 
cakes of every imaginable kind made of the gingerbread 
for which Leipzig itself is famous. These delicacies 
appealed chiefly, of course, to ever hungry youth, to the 
shop-girl and her soldier-lover, who were both blessed 
with healthy appetites. Their parents were, for the 
most part, well content to look on; but they complained 
that Christmas was no longer what it had been, recalling 
how, when they were young, it used to freeze for ten 
weeks at a stretch each year; how winter was not mixed 
up with summer then, nor sunmier with winter; how, 
in short, everything had not only been better but 
cheaper in those happy never-to-be-forgotten days. 

The second floor of one of the houses formed a strik- 
ing contrast to the general illumination; for all the 
light behind the three windows that looked out upon 
the Augustus Platz was concentrated on a big desk 
which stood in one comer of the lofty oak-panelled 
room. Here, high above the heads of the pleasure- 
seeking crowd, sat an elderly man, writing, as it were, 
for dear life, quite oblivious of all the bustle that was 
going on in the square outside. Not that Curt Weigand 
was out of s}rmpathy with these good people, being by 
birth one of them, but he had long ceased to take any 
part in their joys or sorrows; his services had been ren- 



dered to humanity at laige rather than to his townsfolk, 
so that few of them knew the great suigeon» even by 
sight. At the moment he was engaged upon an impor- 
tant paper, no less than his Presidential address in the 
Physiological Section of the forthcoming Congress at 
Vienna; and, contrary to precedent, the Professor had 
determined to communicate a discovery, instead of 
indicating the direction in which one might be looked 
for. His hand had been to some extent forced by the 
fact that rumours concerning his recent investigations 
were already current in medical circles. 

Every doctor in Europe knew that the famous phys- 
iologist had made a journey to Central Asia in order to 
secure specimens of a certain rare shrub which grew 
in the foot-hills of the Hindoo Kush. Vaguely they 
had heard that its habitat and properties had been 
brought to the Professor's notice by a pupil of his, a 
young man of native birth, now a doctor of medicine 
and resident in Leipzig. But one only knew the actual 
result obtained. Ahmed Khan alone had seen the 
effect that a volatile fluid extracted from the fibres of this 
plant could produce upon the nervous system of highly 
organised animals. For many months they had 
watched this effect together, and it had always proved 
so remarkaUe that Weigand was fuU of anxiety to 
publish the knowledge of their discovery to the scien- 
tific world. It had been for that reason that he had 
broken away from generalities in the paper before him, 
to describe the extraordinary success of their prelim- 
inary experiments with a new anaesthetic which might 
possibly bring about another revolution in surgery. 
Certainly it would create a sensation among his f ellown 



workers; it would also encounter no little opposition. 
There were quarters from which hostility was, of course, 
to be expected; neither Paris nor St. Petersburg would 
readily admit that a Grerman could find out anything, 
while some even of the Professor's Berlin colleagues 
would be far from pleased that they had not made the 
discovery themselves. It would, indeed, only be wel- 
comed by English men of science; but, then, they might 
not hear of it for such a long time. 

Weigand had, however, no desire to claim the entire 
credit himself. To be sure, he had read, years ago, 
how the sap of this wonderful plant was employed with 
deadly effect by Ghazis; and how, when the fakirs cut 
themselves with knives, they first smeared them with a 
pulp made from its leaves. But he could never have 
got a single specimen without the help of his assistant. 
For the tribesmen were well aware that the plant con- 
tained a powerful poison and had always jealously 
guarded the secret of its whereabouts. Indeed, it was 
doubtful whether any one but a native would have been 
permitted to gather the leaves, even if he had been able 
to discover one of the few spots where the shrub ap- 
peared. As the Professor's pen glided rapidly on, his 
mind was filled with that glow of satisfaction which is 
felt only by those who have realised a great and un- 
selfish ambition. He had no disturbing doubts about 
the eflicacy of this hitherto unknown anodyne; for 
although it had not yet been tried on that supremely 
important animal man, it had answered perfectly with 
some of man's nearest relations. The drug proved 
safe to administer, and held its subject in a state of 
completely suspended animation for several hours. 



So absorbed was Weigand in his writing that he did 
not look up when a soldier-like man, in a semi-military 
uniform, opened the door at the farther end of the room. 
The postman marched towards the Professor's desk, 
halting only when he reached it; then, bringing his heels 
together and his left hand up to the circular badge in his 
cap, he held out a thin piece of folded paper. 

"For his Excellency, the Privy CounciUor, Professor, 
Doctor von Weigand,'' he said in the parade-ground 
voice of an under-officer, anxious not to deprive the re- 
cipient of one particle of his correct official style. 
"Tcha!" exclaimed the Professor, with a long-drawn 
sigh of disgust, turning at last towards the intruder. 
TVhen he had glanced hurriedly through the telegram, 
he again took up his pen and wrote a few words very 
distinctly on the form which had been placed before 
him. He then rose, and having ceremoniously con- 
ducted the messenger to the door, went to the foot of a 
staircase that led to an upper room and called out loud 
enough to be heard above — 

"Ahmed, come here a moment, if you please!" 

A few seconds later the door at the top of the stairs 
opened, and a tall man in a long white apron with 
sleeves stepped out on to the landing. His thick dark 
hair, which was brushed straight back from the fore- 
head, showed that he was not very old — though his 
pallid face gave no particular indication of youth, so 
long as his firm red lips remained hidden by the droop 
of a silky black moustache. He did not, at first sight, 
suggest the Oriental, but rather a somewhat unconmion 
type of European. One thing, however, about him 
immediately struck a stranger as belonging to a semi- 



savage race. His gait, though swift, was of an ungainly 
and ahnost ape-like character. To the casual observer 
he seemed, therefore, to move awkwardly, but his tread 
was wonderfully soft, while, in repose, his attitude 
often produced the impression that he was drawing 
himself together for a spring. In this one trait the 
natural instinct of generations of hunters pierced 
through the acquired habit of the student. As he 
stood at the head of the stairs, his slim figure sharply 
outlined against the stronger light in the room behind 
him, lea^g forward witf hiTknees slightly bent, it 
became marked in a peculiar degree. 

I am called away, my friend," said the Professor. 
Must you go, sir?'' asked his assistant. 

''Yes! Although it is only to stand by a death-bed, 
I fear." 

He then went to a large oblong table that occupied 
the centre of the room, and picked up from among the 
books and pamphlets with which it was piled a copy of 
the Imperial Railway Guide. Returning to his desk, 
the Professor quickly found the page he required; and, 
after glancing at it for a moment under the light, he 
looked round towards Ahmed and said: ''I shall want 
you to accompany me to-night; the train leaves here at 
eleven o'clock. You will be ready then ? " 

''I shall be ready as soon as I have told Louis about 
feeding our pensioners." Ahmed repUed. pointing to 
the room behind him. " When do we return ? " 

"Not till to-morrow, at the earliest," said the Professor, 
with a glance of regret at his desk, as he bent over it to 
gather the scattered sheets of MS. together, so that he 
might continue his interrupted work during the joumey« 



"Then, with your permiasion. I wfli take Fritzchen 
home, and ask some one to look after him to-night." 
As he said this the yomig man stooped down to pat a 
small dog, of the Dachshund family, though obviously 
a poor relation of whom his thoroughbred cousins had 
no great reason to be proud. It had trotted out on to 
the landing after him, slightly dragging one of its hind 
feet, and it now gazed inquiringly up at him with a look 
of intelligence in its big brown eyes. 

''Ah," said his master, addressing the dog, as though 
there were the most perfect understanding between 
them, ''you will howl to-night, my Fritzchen, and then, 
perhaps, Elsa may let you sleep on her bed. Eh, you 

Less than an hour later Doctor Weigand was being 
driven, with his assistant, down the Goethe Strasse, 
past the great gloomy theatre and the frozen lake be- 
yond it, towards the farthest of the three big railway 
stations that stand side by side to the north of the 
public gardens. The snow had been swept up into 
heaps, so that their drosky bowled along at a good rate, 
and before eleven they were comfortably seated in a 
first-class coup6, which a uniformed official had im- 
mediately placed at the disposal of his Excellency. 
Moreover, this a£Pable personage charged himself with 
a brief telegram the Professor dashed off in great haste; 
and he also promised that, notwithstanding all orders 
to the contrary, the Frankfort express should stop at 
the insignificant station of Sachsenroda. 

By the time this matter had been satisfactorily 
settled, the train was on the point of starting, and in a 
few seconds it was gliding out from under the great 



glass roof. Meanwhile the station authorities big and 
small stood to attention; and saluted as the carriage 
containing the famous doctor passed them. But Mei- 
gand, unconscious of all this official politeness, had 
already sunk back into the farther comer of the com- 
partment. His writing materials, held in a roomy 
black leather portfolio, were spread out on his knee, 
and after slowly turning over the pages of a large note- 
book for a little while, he plunged once more into the 
address he intended to deliver at the approaching 
medical Congress. But until he was able to take up 
the broken thread of his exposition, the Professor gave 
vent to his feelings of suppressed irritation by muttering 
to himself in an undertone: '^ Why do they send for me, 
only when it is of no use ? To pronounce sentence, and 
acquit the physician in attendance of blame: when if 
one had been called in earlier perhaps something might 
have been done. Not that they have lost any time in 
this case; it must, though, have ended fatally from the 
first. That's why Engelbrecht is so anxious to have 
my opinion, I suppose.'' 

Altiiough the Professor had not the smallest idea that 
he was thinking aloud, these words were distinctly 
heard by his silent assistant, whose ears had been 
trained from boyhood to catch sounds which would be 
quite inaudible to the man who had always lived in 
cities. Strangely enough Ahmed had lost none of his 
original faculties through contact with Western culture; 
but had rather brought them to perfection in his bio- 
logical researches; his eye was as keen, his hand as 
sure,- and both worked together with the same wonder- 
ful accord as when he had depended upon them for 



self-preservation. He had listened to Weigand*s mut- 
tered tirade, with his upper Kp lifted by a curious smile, 
which partly revealed the regular curve of his strong 
teeth; and following out the Professor's thought, he 
reflected: After all, the highest skill availed little in any 
serious complication; so much remained that the most 
daring surgeon could not do. However intricate an 
operation was, it must be performed in less than three 
hours, and however successful, the subject did not 
always recover from the anaesthetic. Would that be 
changed one day? And would he have assisted in 
bringing that change about? Then, as though to set 
his mind at rest, he drew out from his breast-pocket a 
small oblong case and opened it veiy carefuUy, in order 
not to damage the fragile object it contained. This 
was a slender stoppered glass tube, holding some 
colourless mobile fluid, which as he tilted the case 
gently backwards and forwards had the appearance of 
an ordinaiy spirit-level. He looked upon it steadfastly, 
for a long time, with an expression of intense pride. 
It was indeed extremely precious, being the extract of 
that terrible plant which his people knew by its Arabic 
name Summ tU Kabtlh or the death-dealer; but con- 
centrated and refined, still deadly in unskilful hands, 
yet capable of saving life. '^Had it not already saved 
Fritzchen from destruction when his leg was crushed 
under that cruel wheel, and what this marvellous vege- 
table essence had done for a dog, might it not also 
accomplish for a man ?" But, as he put the case away 
with tile same loving care, he remembered that this 
question could only be answered at the risk of a man's 



Solitary and bent with sorrow, at the end of the long 
platform of the dimly lighted Sachsenroda station stood 
a tall, soldier-like figure, whose eyes were intently fixed 
on the dark opening of the tunnel into which the line 
soon plunged. At a respectful distance several men in 
various military and civil undress uniforms were 
grouped together, while, in the shadow midway between 
these silent attendants and their well-beloved Prince, 
was stretched a gigantic boarhound wearing a muzzle 
of stout leather studded with brass. The dog, from 
time to time, looked stealthily up at him whom grief 
held thus aloof from all companionship, with that gaze 
of mute inquiry which can convey far more comfort 
than any spoken expression of human sympathy. 
Sigurd could not guess what the nature of the blow was 
that had so suddenly fallen upon the husband of his 
mistress, but he seemed to divine that it was one which 
passed his power of consolation; besides, he did not 
venture to show himself, well knowing that he had no 
right to be there. He had broken loose when he heard 
the horses being put to in the dark stable-yard, and had 
followed the royal troika all the way to the station, 
which it reached more than a quarter of an hour before 
the other sledges. 
The Grand Duke had been awaiting the arrival of 



the express from Leipzig with an impatience that 
increased with each succeeding moment Though it 
was not time to pass Sachsenroda for another five 
minutes, he now again asked the station-master whether 
anything had occurrred to cause a delay. ''No, your 
Royal Highness," the anxious official promptly replied, 
'* it has just been signalled from Mittelbuig, and should 
be here to the moment." The raUway man would 
assuredly have hastened the arrival of tiie train if he 
could; for the Grand Duke of Thiiringen was beloved 
by his subjects and they had reason to love him, for 
he had ever been, in the best sense of the words, the 
father of the land. He had kept peace within its 
frontiers, and had fought for it when threatened by 
enemies from without, having served with distinction 
in those campaigns of victoiy that had welded their 
people into a great nation. Yet in spite of his years 
he bore himself perfectly erect, as a rule, and stiU had 
the firm footstep of a strong man. To-night, however, 
he was crushed under the disaster that had overtaken 
his beautiful young wife. 

It was many years since her Imperial and Royal 
Highness, the late Grand Duchess, had been laid to 
rest under the golden dome of the Greek chapel on the 
slope of the wooded hill above Mittelburg, and about 
eighteen months ago he had married Amalia Paulli, an 
Austrian actress who had played for two seasons at the 
Court Theatre, in which he had always taken such a 
profound interest. The breath of scandal had never 
touched the good name of Countess Lichtenthal, and 
she was even more popular with all classes than the 
Grand Duchess herself had been ; though the Russian, 






as they called her, had made herself famous throughout 
the land for her charities and her rigid adherence to 
etiquette. No wonder, then, that her husband adored 
his morganatic wife. 

At last there came a low dull rumble, that grew into 
a loud roar as the engine fire flashed out of the tunnel, 
and the great heavy train came to a standstill, with a 
tremendous jerk that caused several timid passengers 
to put their heads out of the window and ask whether 
there was anything wrong. Unheedful of these inquiries, 
the guards, followed by iiie station officials, ran towards 
the centre of the train and flung open a door. And 
by the time Doctor Weigand had awakened from a deep 
slumber and descended from the carriage, the Grand 
Duke had reached the place. Pulling himself up with 
a visible effort, he stretched out his left hand to the 
Professor, who grasped it warmly, and, glancing at the 
other hand which was bandaged, said, ^^Your Royal 
Highnesses message did not mention the fact that you 
were hurt yourself.** 

"It is nothing,** replied the Grand Duke; "my hand 
was slightly scorched while helping to put out the 
flames. But it is not on my own account that I begged 
you come, my dear Weigand. It is because of the 
injuries, the horrible injuries that have been sustained 
by another, one who is — ** His eyes filled with tears, 
and he was unable to complete the sentence. For a 
few seconds he turned his head away, and then taking 
the Professor by the arm led him towards the first 
of the three sleighs, which were drawn up outside 
the station, their big lamps making circles of light in the 
surrounding darkness. Ahmed foUowed, carrying the 


great man's portfolio in one hand and a big leather bag 
in the other, both of which he refused to entrust to the 
drab-coated lackeys who eagerly oflFered to relieve him 
of them. He was accompanied by one of the Grand 
Ducal Chamberlains, who allotted him a place along 
with two minor Court officials in the second sleigh, the 
last being filled by the military staff. While taking his 
seat, Ahmed noticed the stately manner in which the 
coachmen sat bareheaded, holding their hats in their 
hands until they got the word to start. 

The Russian sledge, drawn by three thoroughbred 
blacks, in which Weigand was seated alone with the 
Grand Duke, dashed off at a great pace over the smooth, 
hard-packed snow, and the straggling Kttle town of 
Sachsenroda had already been left behind when he 
asked his companion to explain how the accident had 
come about. 

Such a recital, the Professor realised, would be apt 
to relieve the tension of the tortured husband's mind, 
while from it he himself would learn the preliminary 
facts in the case. At first, however, the Grand Duke 
experienced considerable difficulty in finding words to 
describe what had happened, but he made a brave 
effort to control his emotions, and after a few moments 
his speech grew more coherent. 

" It occurred in a second," he said, " before anybody 
could realise the danger. We must have been blind, 
but somehow one does not think of these things when 
one is happy; and it was enough to make one happy, 
merely to see her with the children about her. Poor 
dear, she had so looked forward to to-night! Amy has 
always loved little ones, though she has none of her own. 



And to-night she wanted to give them a glorious treat, 
an evening they would not forget until Christmas came 
again. She had instructed the foresters to bring in a 
tree which was so big that it could only just be got into 
the audience-chamber, and round the room we had 
placed presents for everybody with our own hands. 
The things had been coming for weeks from Vienna, 
where she had ordered them months ago, and the 
decorations of the Christmas tree itself had been 
arranged, under Amy's direction, with the exquisite 
taste that belongs only to the bom artist. 

" We had risen from the table early, so as not to keep 
our little guests waiting, and when I entered the bril- 
liantly lighted room, with Amy by my side, I was struck 
with the beauty of the scene. After we had made one 
tour of the room together and had talked to some of 
the parents, we were separated by a swarm of little 
people, who had at first clung fast to the skirts of their 
mothers, but who soon crowded round my wife. She 
had drawn them to her with her sweet smile, that seemed 
to embrace them all and yet to have a special meaning 
for each of them. It is part of herself. Professor, and 
not a grace acquired by practice, though naturally it 
always charmed those who saw her on the stage. Amy 
knew the name of every child, too, and could tell on 
which table it would find the toy meant for it. But, 
eager and excited as they were to know what she had 
given them, they appeared in no hurry to leave her. 

The little ones followed the Countess towards the 
lighted tree, and gazed in wonder at the thousand 
sparkling ornaments that it was loaded with. One of 
these, a tinsel figure of Harlekin, so fascinated Minna 



Schultz, the five-year-old daughter of our head-forester, 
that she b^ged Amy to give it to her; and when my 
wife told her that she might have the doU to-morrow, 
the child's eyes fiUed with tears. Alarmed at these 
signals of distress. Amy decided to gratify her little 
friend's wish at once, and bent forward in order to 
unfasten the figure from the branch it hung on. But it 
was fixed there by a wire that took some time to un- 
wind, and meanwhile one of the tapers lower down 
must have set fire to an end of the lace shawl which was 
loosely draped about my wife's shoulders. An instant 
later she had sprung back, thrown the doU down beside 
the terrified Minna, and was rushing towards the door, 
the upper part of her dress in a blaze. Eveiy one 
in the room seemed, for the moment, paralysed with 
horror; at any rate, no one attempted to extinguish 
those cruel flames. I know that I did not myself im- 
mediately grasp what had happened. My poor dear 
was half-way up the stairs before I could overtake her 
and wrap a wooUen cloth I had snatched from one of 
the tables tightly round her." 

It was evident that in smothering the flames the 
Grand Duke's right hand had been badly burnt, though 
he did not allude to his own injuries. Weigand had 
carefuUy abstained from interrupting him by a single 
query; but, as soon as he was sure that his account of 
the accident had come to an end, he asked him two or 
three direct questions. 

" Of course, the Court physician was sent for at once ? ** 
"Yes!" answered his companion somewhat wearily. 
"I believe Doctor Engelbrecht was fetched without 



"" What did he say, after he had examined the extent 
of the surface attacked?" 

"Nothing definite. When he saw how severely 
Amy's neck and face were scorched he shook his head, 
but when I pressed for his opinion he refused to com- 
mit himself, and suggested an immediate consultation 
with you. Professor." 

"Well, your Royal Highness," said Weigand, putting 
as much hopefulness into his words as was possible in 
the circumstances, "there again no time was lost." 

"Yes; we acted promptly enough then,^' said the 
Grand Duke, with an accent of bitter self-reproach. 
"That telegram was sent off, and the treatment you 
advised was followed religiously; but even that gave 
no apparent relief! Hour after hour I have had to sit 
by the side of my wife and to watch her sufferings, 
knowing that we could do nothing to alleviate them; 
to hear her moan like a dumb animal in pain; to see 
the cold sweat break out upon her forehead, while from 
time to time she shivered all over, and her face was 
contracted with spasms of intolerable agony. But you 
will help us to save her, my friend, I feel sure of that. 
You see, I put my trust in your skill." 

"Your Royal Highness," replied the Professor, in a 
grave, calm tone, "we will put our trust in the healing 
power of nature." 

Still, although pain was a favourable symptpm, he 
knew too well the narrow limits of this force, where 
man is concerned, to be at all certain of a recovery, and 
much as he wished to comfort the despairing man by 
his side, he had failed to speak with that accent of con- 
viction which inspires hope. And as they were hurried 



across the open wind-swept plateau under the pale 
stars, both men relapsed into silence, feeling cold in 
spite of their heavy wraps, which were not proof against 
the chill that arose from within. A few minutes later, 
after traversing the triple avenue of limes that led to 
the palace of Wilhelmsbrunn, they were pulled up 
short, with much jangling of bells and scraping of iron 
shoes on the slippery ground, beneath a heavy classic 
portico that formed the main entrance to the enormous 
stone building. It was only then Weigand discovered 
that the now steaming Orloffs had left the horses in 
the other two sledges far behind. Off the narrow 
tracks made by the runners and the horses' hoofs one 
sank over a foot deep into the snow at every step, so 
that, after ploughing through it for more than half an 
hour, the big hound had been obliged to lie down 
exhausted, near the top of the hill. There he was seen 
by Ahmed, who came up with him a few minutes later. 
The young man at once asked his companions to stop 
the sledge, and before it could come to a halt, he had 
jumped out on the roadside. 

''Take care!" shouted the chamberlain, horrified at 
seeing him approach Sigurd. ''That is a very savage 

"He*s a very tired dog," replied Ahmed, laughingly, 
as he bent down towards the breathless hound that was 
in evident distress, panting loudly, and vainly endeav- 
ouring to get rid of its muzzle. 

" For heaven's sake, doctor," the courtier cried out, 
in a tone of still greater alarm, "do not touch him; 
the dog is dangerous — capable of killing one, they 



'^Yes," said Ahmed, calmly wibuckling the thick 
strap romid Sigurd's neck, ''people say that, perhaps, 
but a dog is generaUy better than his reputation. 
There!" he exclaimed, a second later, as the Great 
Dane rose with a tremendous shake and sidled up to 
him. It would, indeed, have rubbed its unmuzzled 
head against the doctor's 1^, had he not repulsed this 
friendly demonstration and re-entered the sledge. 
When Ahmed had again taken his seat, the others 
expressed their astonishment at the manner in which 
the dog behaved, and all were agreed that if the Coun- 
tess could have seen it she would have been overjoyed. 
For Sigurd belonged to her, they told him, and Madame 
declared that the dog was never vicious, which they 
doubted, though with her, poor lady, he had always 
been gentleness itself. They also told him — now that 
the barrier between them and the stranger was broken 
— much more concerning Countess Lichtenthal's great 
amiability, which they declared to be as remarkable 
as her beauty. 

The Grand Duke conducted Weigand quickly 
through a lofty pillared hall, where a long line of ser- 
vants waited with sad faces and mournful mien, and 
then hastened on before him up a great marble stair- 
case, towards the apartments of the Countess. At the 
anteroom door they were met by a stout, bald-headed 
man, whom the Professor had some difSculty in recog- 
nising as his fellow-student, Greorg Engelbrecht. For 
there was little in the present appearance of that once 
distinguished member of the Corps Saxonia to recall 
the slim youth of those far-off days. His small eyes 
had become surrounded by heavy wrinkled bags from 



which they blinked perpetuaUy, while a feeble smile of 
deprecation played about the comers of his pursed-up 
lips. Nor was his manner particularly reassuring 
when he answered the anxious husband's rapid ques- 
tions, ** Countess Lichtenthal is progressing as favour- 
ably as could be expected," he said, adding, with a 
wave of his fat hand towards the Professor, "" but, Herr 
Geheimrat von Weigand would wish to see the patient 
at once." 

'' If I may dare to ask such a favour," said the great 
doctor, bowing ceremoniously and screwing his eyes up 
to hide the twinkle of amusement that had flickered in 
them. Without waiting for any further permission the 
Grand Duke opened the bedroom door and led Wei- 
gand over to the low couch on which the injured woman 
was lying. She did not perceive them at first; but after 
a proloi^ed fit of trembling she shifted her position a 
Ettle, and her strained eyes met those of her husband, 
who was gazing at her with an expression of the utmost 

" I have brought some one to see you. Amy," he said, 
bending over her, and speaking in a soft tone. She 
seemed to hear him, yet not to attach any meaning to 
his words. It was only when the Professor had sat 
down by the bed and had gently replaced the blankets 
she had thrown away from her tortured body, that she 
noticed the presence of a stranger. But soon his mag- 
netic personality began to act upon her quivering 
nerves, and as if by magic gradually lifted her out of 
the abyss of depression into which she had sunk. Her 
laboured breathing grew quieter, directly the Professor 
placed his long narrow white hand upon her brow, 



while the deep-drawn sighing moans ceased altogether. 
For the first moment since the accident the look of in- 
tense pain faded from her eyes, and in a little while 
they closed as though relief had come at last. 

In the meantime Weigand had mastered all the details 
of the case from the elaborate clinical history which 
Engelbrecht had placed m his hands. He had also 
put a few short questions to the nurse who, dressed in 
the uniform of the Little Sisters of the Poor, stood in a 
respectful attitude of attention to answer them. Then, 
having satisfied himself upon the all-important matter 
of food and stimulants, the Professor asked his col- 
league to inquire if Dr. Ahmed had yet arrived. After 
an absence of a few seconds the Court physician re- 
turned, ushering in the sallow-faced young man, who 
still carried the bag from which he would, on no con- 
sideration, allow himself to be parted, and which he 
now set down on a small table by the side of his chief. 

Without turning his head away from the patient, 
Weigand gave a whispered direction to his assistant. 
Ahmed at once opened the bag, and, after having 
washed his hands with even more than usual care, took 
from it a case of hypodermic syringes, together with 
several tubes containing minute white spheroids. He 
selected two of these small particles from different 
tubes, and dropped them into a measure of distilled 
water, which he had poured out from a bottle contained 
in the bag. While the stuff was dissolving he tested 
one of the sjninges two or three times, and then pro- 
ceeded to fiU it with the solution. This done, every- 
thing was ready and Weigand motioned him to approach 
on the other side of the bed, and turning back the 



blankets indicated a spot on the woman's arm that had 
escaped injury. 

As Ahmed bent forward, and slowly inserted the 
needle under the skin, which he had first squeezed up 
between his fingers, his keen eyes fell for the first time 
on the face of Countess Lichtenthal. Meanwhile her 
husband had held himself a little aloof, silently mar- 
velling at Weigand's placid self-possession — so different 
from the helpless anxiety of his own Court physi- 
cian — and watching the wonderful effect mere contact 
¥^th the great healer had produced. Neither he nor 
Engelbrecht nor the Sister of Mercy gave a thought to 
the busy assistant, regarding him only as the humble 
acolyte of this high-priest of medicine. But had they 
been looking at him, they would have seen a curious 
change come over his features. For on a sudden his 
dark half-shut eyes had flashed open to their utmost 
extent, while his mouth had been drawn aside with the 
startled expression of one who unexpectedly recog- 
nises a familiar face. It was, too, a look in which 
horror mingled with surprise; an involuntary evidence 
of some rapid association of ideas, that was suppressed 
as soon as the young man had regained control over 
his emotions. 



As she swiftly sank into a deep restful calm bordering 
on sleep Countess Lichtenthars breathing became less 
laboured and her pulse stronger. When Weigand saw 
that the desired effect had been produced, he wrote a 
few instructions for the guidance of the nurse and softly 
retired from the room, beckoning the others to follow 
him. Directly the door had been closed behind them 
the Grand Duke turned a gaze of mute appeal on the 
doctor, such as an innocent man might fix upon his 
judge; and, drawing him a little apart from the rest, 
asked him, as plainly as if he had spoken the words, 
"Is there any hope?" 

The Professor, who felt that it would be cruel to 
stand on professional etiquette and keep him waiting 
till his opinion had been filtered through Engelbrecht, 
answered the unspoken question at once. "Unless 
something unexpected occurs I have no fear for the 
Countess's life.** Notwithstanding the reservation im- 
plied by the stress laid on the last word, this news was 
so good that the distracted husband's overwrought 
mind reeled, as it were, because of the weight which 
had been thus suddenly lifted from it. He grew faint 
and cold, and would have fallen forward but for the 
Professor's outstretched arms. It was, as Weigand 
had foreseen, the after effect of shock upon a brave 



man, whose eveiy thought had been for another. He 
forthwith had the insensible Grand Duke carried to his 
bed, and ordered him, the moment consciousness re- 
turned, to swallow a glass of hot brandy and water in 
which a quantity of opium had been dissolved. Then, 
having ascertained that the Grand Duke's hand had 
already been dressed with solution of picric acid, Wei- 
gand gave strict injunctions that the dressing was not 
to be disturbed, and at last permitted his portly col- 
league to lead him down the great staircase of honour 
to the audknce-chamber that had been hastily set in 
order for their consultation. 

The tables that had been ranged round the room 
earlier were there no longer, but at the farther end of it 
there still stood the gigantic Christmas tree, its half- 
consumed candles clearly showing that the festivities 
had come to a premature close. The Professor glanced 
along the walls at the full-length ceremonial portraits 
in dull gold frames, set against a background of faded 
crimson silk, and up at the painted ceiling where a 
warlike form in a Roman toga was but dimly visible, 
as only the electric-light brackets beside the sculptured 
marble mantelpiece had been turned on. Then, walk- 
ing towards the log-fire on the broad open hearth, he 
made an elaborate pretence of warming his hands. 
He keenly felt what a mockery the formalities of his 
calling must sometimes be; he knew that he was ex- 
pected immediately to communicate his views to the 
man who looked at him with growing impatience, 
unable apparently even to frame an intelligent ques- 
tion. Yet, though the Hofrat indicated, by the uneasy 
shuffling of his feet and blinking of his heavy eyelids, 



that he had many questions to put, Weigand said 
nothing, but turned his attention from the fire to the 
glimmer of grey light, which had begun to show through 
the eastern windows; his gaze next seemed for a time 
to wander thoughtfully round the heavy mouldings of 
the gilded cornice, then, as if by accident, to rest upon 
the strained features of his assistant. When, at length, 
he did speak it was to put a question himself. He 
addressed it to Engelbrecht, but directed a side glance 
of inquiry towards their silent junior, whose whole 
attitude betrayed intense anxiety to express an 

'^Will this poor lady retain her reason when she 
discovers that she has lost her good looks ?" asked the 

"Wer — wer — why not?'* stammered the aston- 
ished Hof rat. 

"That is precisely what I want to find out. Come, 
Engelbrecht, you know the patient's history. Are 
there not grounds for supposing that the loss would be 
a special calamity in this case ?" 

"I can only say, your Excellency" — it gave the 
pompous Court physician actual pain to call the son 
of a small apothecary by this exalted title — "that 
Countess lichtenthal has always been greatly admired; 
but as the wife of our most gracious ruler she must feel 
herself above the considerations — 

jeii aoove me cousiaerauuns " 

Which influence all other women," interjected Wei- 
gand, in a tone of delicate irony. Then, turning 
abruptly to his assistant, he said: "And you, my friend, 
what do you think about it, eh?" 

"I am of your opinion, sir," replied Ahmed^ who 



knew that the chief never spoke until he had arrived 
at one. 

'^ Oh, are you, young man ? Perhaps you have heard 
something that confirms my view, then ?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"Something your companions told you during the 
long drive here, eh?" 

Ahmed nodded assent, without expressing the smallest 
wonder that Weigand had guessed the substance of 
what the others had told him, after his adventure with 
Sigurd had led them to talk about the dog's mistress. 
But Engelbrecht, unfamiliar with the marvellous In- 
tuition of a great original observer, was struck dumb 
with amazement. Still, in a vague way, he b^an to 
follow the Professor's line of thought. He called to 
mind that Countess Lichtenthal had been praised 
chiefly, if not solely, for her beauty; it was, therefore, 
probable that she would over-prize the quality by 
virtue of which she had held all who saw her spell- 
bound. For when an actress finds herself unable to 
reach the hearts of her audience, she must rely entirely 
on the grace of outline and brilliancy of colouring 
which give her an absolute sway over their eyes. Such 
a woman would naturally imagine that she was loved 
for her beauty alone. Was it not the force which had 
drawn men to her feet, and attracted the princely 
patron of dramatic art who had made her his wife? 
And what matter if she were utterly wrong in her 
imagination; what if it were evident that the Grand 
Duke had chosen her simply because she was the 
one woman he had ever loved ? If she were obsessed 
with this fixed idea, how would she bear the blow 


which robbed her of all that she valued most in the 
world ? 

There arose in his mind a vivid picture of the beau- 
tiful AmaUa PauUi as he had seen her for the first time 
on the stage of the Court Theatre at Mittelburg. She 
had come specially from Vienna, to play in a great 
revival of " Maria Stuart." There had been diplomatic 
difficulties in the way, but Serenissimus had got over 
them. For the PauUi had exactly fitted with his ideal 
of the Queen of Scots, and though her classic features 
bore no particular resemblance to those depicted in the 
odd three hundred existing portraits of that much- 
painted lady, it was impossible to say that she might 
not be more like the fair original than any one of them. 
Five years had passed since that night, yet the Hofrat 
could well remember the sensation her appearance had 
created. In spite of her somewhat metallic voice, the 
charm of her manner and the dignity with which she 
moved had won raptiu*ous applause from an audience 
that had the unenviable distinction of being the coldest 
and most critical in all Germany. 

Perhaps her obvious success with their beloved Prince 
had made the loyal Thiiringeners more enthusiastic 
than usual in their reception of the stranger. At any 
rate, Amalia Paulli had been in no hurry to return to 
the Hofburg; nor did it cause much surprise when she 
was released from hier Vienna engagement in order to 
make the Grand Ducal capital her artistic home. And 
while she had found a host of flatterers, among whom 
the courtly Engelbrecht had been one of the most 
assiduous, she had also become a real favourite with 
the people. So that when, two years ago, an announce- 



ment had appeared that she was about to retire from 
the stage, great and universal r^ret had been expressed, 
which had, however, turned to the liveliest satisfaction 
when the news of her approaching marriage with the 
Grand Duke was published. No one had ever grudged 
the Paulli her elevation to the rank of Countess, or her 
place nearest to their sovereign. Moreover, the tactful 
manner in which she had since filled that difficult posi- 
tion had added genuine affection to the r^ard all good 
citizens felt for the lady who stood so high, and yet was 
ever ready to lend a willing ear to the grievances of the 
lowliest in the land. 

All that was essential of this Weigand had gathered 
from her appearance and the tone in which the Grand 
Duke had spoken of her, together with the sympathetic 
attitude of every one about the court. One danger he 
saw clearly to threaten this much-admired and much- 
loved lady; but, as yet, he did not quite see how that 
danger could be counteracted. The question pre- 
sented itself, whether this were a risk which must be 
run, or whether means might be taken to avoid it. 
With that alternative in his mind, the Professor ignored 
Engelbrecht's blank stare, and, putting his head on 
one side with a quizzical air of inquiry, said — 

"Well, young man, possibly you could suggest some 
way out of the difficulty ?'* 

"K my opinion were seriously invited," said Ahmed, 
suppressing a passionate desire to impart his views. 

"Oh, but it is!" 

"Then I beUeve I could." 

"I thought as much. Well?" 

"To begin with," replied Ahmed, rapidly, "all 



knowledge of her disfigurement should be kept from 
the patient until it has been removed." 

"By natural processes?" asked the Professor. 

"Assisted by the resources of surgery." 

" Are you hinting at an operation ? " said Engelbrecht, 
addressing himself to the speaker. 

"That is what I recommend," answered his junior 

"In the nature of skin-grafting?" 


"And may I be permitted to ask whether you realise 
that the patient could not withstand the removal of 
another inch of undamaged tissue ? " 

"I have taken that fact into consideration." 

"Then how do you propose to operate, my friend ?** 
the Hofrat asked, with an air of triumph. 

"By obtaining the necessary material elsewhere." 

"Your Excellency will scarcely sanction such a 
scheme?" said Engelbrecht, with a gesture which was 
at once expressive of deference to the great surgeon 
and repudiation of his assistant. 

"I cannot say until I hear how our young colleague 
intends to carry it out," the Professor answered, in the 
impartial tone of one whose mind is open to conviction. 
"At present," he added, "I perceive two obstacles to 
its success. In the first place we are not so situated as 
to get the required material readily, though such a 
thing is, of course, easily managed in our clinic at 
Leipzig. Next, the patient would have to be held in 
a state of complete anaesthesia for several hours." 

" I'd like to know how he hopes to do it ! " said Engel- 
brecht, who was too disgusted at the unorthodox char- 



acter of Ahmed's proposal to address this question to 
him directly. 

"'By means of an alkaloid we have recently been 
employing in our experiments." 

"" And what might that be ? " inquired the Hofrat, his 
curiosity getting the better of his indignation. 

"It is a secret — for the moment," Ahmed replied, 
with a side glance at his chief, which was answered by 
a smile of approval on the part of the great man. 

Conscious of a hidden understanding between them, 
and angry at not being considered worthy to enjoy as 
much of the Professor's confidence as he entrusted to 
this youth, Engelbrecht burst into a frenzy. 

'^ Ah!" he almost shouted, "a secret; then it matches 
well with the treatment of an empiric/ But I will not 
allow you to experiment upon my patient, sir." 

"' Surely, that would be a matter for his Royal High- 
ness to decide," said Weigand, in a quiet dry way 
which plainly warned the Hofrat that he must not 
exceed the authority vested in him as body physician. 

The worthy man, his voice shaken with anxiety, 
replied, "Yes, yes, of course! But you would never 
countenance anything of the kind yourself ? " 

"That remains to be seen." 

"And the use also of some new untried anaesthetic ? " 


"Then fdl I can say," said Engelbrecht, who still 
trembled with rage, " is that, if recourse to such methods 
is suggested, I retire from the case. I will not be a 
party to the practice of experimental surgery upon a 
fellow-creature. I shall make no official protest, out 
of respect for the eminent position you hold, Geheimrat 



Weigand; but I ask your permission to withdraw my- 
self from your deliberations." Then with a low bow 
to the Professor, he said, '^I have the honour!" adding, 
with a curt nod to Ahmed, "your servant, sir." And 
as neither of them made any motion to detain him, he 
stalked majestically out of the room. 

After a moment's pause the Professor shook his fore- 
finger at Ahmed, and said, in a tone of mock reproach, 
"You see, young man, the disgrace into which you 
have got me with your enthusiasm for patching up 
wounded mortality. Do you think they are going to 
let you treat a countess with the same freedom as that 
mongrel cur you picked up in the road ? " 

"It would be best for her if they did." 

"Perhaps; but how are we to convince her husband 
of that?" 

"I believe I could convince him." 

"Indeed! I am to leave you here in charge, then, 
and you will get his consent yourself, eh ? " 


At noon, when Dr. Weigand bade adieu to the Grand 
Duke, who had insisted on accompanying him to the 
carriage, his other patient was still sleeping. And 
though the Professor had paid her a second prolonged 
visit he had been careful not to disturb this most 
favourable condition. Acting under his direction, 
Ahmed had dulled the lower portions of the large 
mirrors in the Countess's bedroom, so that when she 
was lifted while her wounds were re-dressed, she could 
not possibly catch sight of her reflection in the glass. 

Though the full effects of her injuries would only be 



apparent after the contraction caused by healing had 
b^un, it was important that she should know nothing 
of the distortion which was in progress. Moreover, as 
the thought of how she looked would probably be the 
first that occurred to her, directly her mind became 
once more normal, it would be necessary to reassure 
her on the subject at all costs. To this end her at- 
tendants were instructed to give satisfactory answers 
to any questions that she might put to them, and in no 
case to express sympathy on the score of her disfigure- 
ment. They were also strictly enjoined not to bring 
a looking-glass within the patient's reach under any 
consideration. Confident, therefore, that proper steps 
were being taken to avert the principal danger he had 
foreseen, Uie Professor was able to depart in far better 
spirits than he had arrived. Things were not, after all, so 
bad as they might have been, and if the Grand Duke's 
face were a true index to his mind, he would certainly 
listen to any sound aigument. When Weigand had 
stepped into the low hunting-sledge that was to take 
him to the station, he laid his hand lightly on the Prince's 
right arm, and said, '^ Remember, you must take care 
of yourself, sir, and not be over anxious about Countess 
Lichtenthal. The worst should be passed in another 
thirty hours. After that the process of recovery will 
be slow, and conditions may arise which demand a 
somewhat heroic treatment. In the meantime I leave 
your Royal Highness in extremely skilful hands." 

Having thus darkly shadowed forth his assistant's 
plan of action, he leant back in his seat, and the ex- 
pectant driver of the troika, who took this as a sign that 
he might start, immediately clapped on his Astrachan 



cap> and, releasing his grip on a yoke of three eager 
horses, bore the Professor oflf across the snow-covered 
park, in the opposite direction to that by which he had 
come that morning. An hour afterwards Weigand 
hurried on to the platform at Mittelburg, just in time 
to catch the fast train for Leipzig. 



After the Professor had departed, his pupil experienced 
an unaccustomed feeling of isolation. Ahmed had 
often watched alone by a sick-bed for days and nights 
together; but when evening came in the big silent 
palace he felt, as it were, cut off from all human sym- 
pathy. He knew that others waited within call ready 
to do his bidding; but they were strangers, unable to 
give that moral support which is to be derived from the 
mere presence of a friend. 

During the greater part of his life Ahmed had been a 
solitary man, but of late he had grown to watch for the 
return of another. A woman had made herself neces- 
sary to him, and he longed to see her again now, with 
an impatience that was absolutely distressing to one 
who had hitherto been so self-contained. Yet they 
had lived in the same house and on the same floor for 
some time before he was aware of her existence. It all 
came back to him during these lonely hours of silent 
watching: how one sultry night in late sunmier, when 
nearly every one had deserted the town, his notice had 
first been attracted to her. On reaching the entrance- 
hall she had fainted, and when he let himself in soon 
afterwards he found her lying there. As it was obvious 
that she would be more comfortable and have more 
air in her own room, he had carried her up the six 



flights of stairs that led to the third floor, and had 
placed her on a couch by an open window, having 
meanwhile summoned their good-natured landlady to 
her assistance. 

Next day Frau Mankel had been fuU of messages of 
thanks to Ahmed from his fellow-lodger. But he would 
not allow that the girl had the least ground for being 
grateful; he had only done what any one would have 
done in the circumstances. It had given him no par- 
ticular trouble either, for she was not heavy, and bring- 
ing her upstairs had scarcely made him feel out of 
breath. Nevertheless, Elsa Hartvig became hence- 
forth devotedly attached to the tall young surgeon, and 
the way in which he made light of the matter only 
increased her admiration for him. She was a romantic 
girl in spite of the rough training in the hospital, and 
being full of enthusiasm for her work looked upon a 
doctor as the greatest of heroes. She had, therefore, 
been interested in Ahmed ever since he came to occupy 
rooms on the other side of the landing; and though she 
had made no attempt to attract his attention, she had 
always hoped that the day might arrive when he would 
notice the slim figure in a grey gown which flitted past 
him so frequently on the stairs. 

Now that by accident he had become conscious of 
her presence near him, Elsa thought that he must ^t 
last feel some desire to make her acquaintance. Nor 
would she have been mistaken in this, had Ahmed's 
thoughts not been engaged elsewhere, for the red- 
haired, pale-faced nurse was rather an attractive per- 
son, even at first sight But the young man had looked 
upon her with eyes that saw nothing of her charms. 



His mind had been fnU of the experiments he was con- 
ducting for Professor Weigand; the success of which 
proved that they possessed an anaesthetic more effective 
than any hitherto known. He had abeady performed 
operations under it which would have been impossible 
had the ordinary anaesthetics been used. As yet he 
had employed the new drug only on monkeys, dogs, 
rabbits, guinea-pigs, frogs, and animals of a low or- 
ganisation, but soon the day might come when the 
Professor would permit him to try its effect on man. 
Indeed, he was growing so impatient that he had half 
made up his mind to experiment upon himself, if Dr. 
Weigand was not able to determine before long in what 
strength the injection might be given with safety. But 
even had his thoughts been less fully engrossed by his 
work, there would have been no room in them for 
Elsa Hartvig. 

Chance had led him to take shelter one wet evening 
in a dingy little music-hall off the busy street through 
which he passed on his way home. And there, after he 
had sat a while in the thick reek of rank cigar smoke, 
taking no particular notice of the performers who 
followed one another on the stage, his attention had 
been suddenly arrested by the graceful dancing of a 
young woman dressed as a Russian gipsy. From that 
day he had been a frequent visitor to the third-rate 
place of amusement where she appeared, and the study 
of Mariska, as she was styled in the programme, had 
become with him an object of ever-increasing interest, 
to the exclusion of all other studies except that of 

He had soon seen that she was under the influence of 



her partner, a sturdy, ill-conditioned fellow, who played 
her accompaniments on a sort of zither, and whose 
name Ahmed afterwards learnt to be Mnischko. . It 
seemed also that she was afraid of him; and, from the 
way in which she cowered whenever this man looked 
at her, the yomig doctor thought it probable that he 
beat her. Mariska, as she called herself, used to move 
about among the guests when she had finished singing, 
and she would drink with some of them; but her eyes 
turned each time for permission towards the scowling 
zither-player, who sat in a comer of the hall. After a 
few nights he perceived that not only were her move- 
ments entirely directed by Mnischko, but that by no 
chance was she ever allowed to come near him. This 
so irritated Ahmed that he determined to set to work 
to counteract the fellow's influence; a task which 
seemed easy to him since he had made special study 
of certain obscure psychic phenomena. 

He had always found that, whenever he could get 
anybody to remain moderately still and to direct their 
gaze steadily on one point for several minutes, it was 
not hard to control their subsequent movements; if 
only his subject possessed the smallest capacity for 
mental concentration. Therefore one night, when 
Mariska took her stand on the Uttle platform to sing, 
as soon as her accompanist had bent over his instru- 
ment to play the prelude, Ahmed made a gesture with 
the object of attracting her attention to the signet ring 
on his left hand. The manoeuvre was successful, for 
during the whole of her song she kept her eyes glued on 
the stone, and only when the applause broke out at its 
conclusion did she look up with a troubled dazed 



expression. That was the moment to see if he had 
obtained a hold over her. He drew his hand gently back 
towards him, putting the full strength of his will-power 
into the command he intended to convey, and waited. 
Ahmed had shut his eyes so that nothing should divert 
his mind, and for a long while he sat there in silence. 
At last he heard the sound of some one close to him 
breathing heavily, and, on opening his eyes, he beheld 
Mariska seated on the opposite side of the small table, 
leaning her elbows on it and resting her chin on her 
hands, so that her face was within a foot of his own. 
From that evening Mnischko's spell over her was 
broken. She would scarcely look at him, even when he 
was playing her accompaniments, and spent most of 
her spare time at Ahmed's table. 

Frau Mankel, being a widow, and no less romantic 
than Elsa herself, had seen how things stood between 
her lodgers, and had tried hard to awaken a feeling of 
sympathy in Ahmed for the girl. 

**She comes home so tired," the good lady said to 
him, "they keep her standing for such long hours 
during the operations; and even in the wards she never 
has a moment to sit down. That's why she went off 
in a faint the other night, poor thing!" 

** I know," he had replied, *' it's hard work for any 
one who is not strong. But the Fraulein might do 
something else; she isn't obliged to be a hospital nurse; 
and, as long as she is one, it's no good complaining." 

**Oh, she doesn't complain," said Frau Mankel, 
" she is too fond of the work for that, and she is very 
clever at it, I am told." 

**She told you so herself, I suppose." 



''No, Herr Doctor, it was a friend of mine, the 
medical student Meyer, who lives on the fourth floor. 
He comes in for a cup of coffee sometimes, on the 
chance of seeing Fraulein Hartvig; he's a great admirer 
of hers." 

''Is he really?" said Ahmed, without the smallest 
sign of being interested." 

"Yes, indeed," continued Frau Mankel, not to be 
silenced by this show of indifference. "But she pays 
no attention to him, will hardly listen to him even. 
No, her thoughts are engaged elsewhere." 

" Ah, at the hospital. That is as it should be. Ours 
is an all-absorbing occupation, madam; we have no 
time to attend to anything else." 

" Herr Meyer tells me that he thought he saw you at 
the Lustige Winkel one evening." 

"Possibly he did see me. I have been there once 
or twice." 

" Really, you surprise me, Herr Doctor; such a queer 
place, a mere tingel-tangel." 

"Yes, it is rather a curious place; still, it amuses me 
more than your Crystal Palace." 

"But that's quite respectable; a professor might go 

"Ah, then according to Herr Meyer it is against 
medical etiquette to be seen at a tingel-tangel ? " 

"He didn't say as much." 

"But he thinks it?" 

"Well, yes!" 

" Then why does he go to one himself ? " 

" He can do as he pleases; he is only a student." 

"So am I, Frau Mankel; we do not all cease to study 



when we become doctors; and at present I am going 
through a post-graduate course at the Lustige Winkel. 
You understand?" 

His amiable landlady did not in the least understand, 
but contented herself with smiling, and shaking her 
head somewhat sadly. There were many things she 
could not hope to understand about this stranger. 
Why was he never homesick, although he had no 
friends ? Could it be that he did not care for any one 
in the whole wide world ? These and a host of other 
questions she asked herself continually, without ever 
being able to answer them to her satisfaction, though 
she had thought of every sort of solution to the mystery. 
But, woman like, she respected Ahmed all the more 
for being able to keep hb own counsel, and as yet had 
always left him to pursue his lonely way in peace. It 
was unwise, she felt, to worry him; he would only go 
elsewhere if she did. Elsa would be worse off than 
ever then. No; she must wait till he gets ill and she 
can nurse him, thought Frau Mankel, who knew how 
weak men are when they feel the least unwell. 

Late summer passed into early autunm, and autunm, 
in turn, gave way to winter, but neither fog nor frost 
laid the hardy hill-man up for a single day. Fraulein 
Hartvig had, therefore, no opportunity to prove her 
gratitude by nursing him through so much as a cold. 
Spring came, bringing the great fair, when the stalls 
overflowed from the Augustus Platz into the side 
streets, and the hotels were filled with strangers of all 
nationalities, and still the occasion for the nurse's 
services had not arisen. However, since we are. all 
dq>endent sooner or later on the help of those about 



us, the time at length came when Elsa could be useful 
to Ahmed. 

Night after night, in spite of the widow's well-meant 
protest, Ahmed had gone to the Lustige Winkel. 
There, in the intervals between her songs, Mariska 
would sit by his side, sipping a glass of sweet wine. 
She had little to say on any subject that did not directly 
concern herself, but she was good to look at, her beauty 
being of no common order. Moreover, the evident 
pleasure she took in Ahmed's society flattered him, 
though he felt that it was only the outcome of sugges- 
tion, and no more due to any exercise of her own will 
than her changed attitude towards the musician. And 
before long he had convincing proof that this was in- 
deed the case. She had of late been in the habit of 
going home alone after the performance. But one 
night, towards the end of May, she confided to Ahmed 
the fact that Mnischko, who, she said, was beside 
himself with rage, had taken to following her, and she 
b^ged the young man to see her safely back to her door. 
Of course he readily consented; and when she came 
down the long passage that led from the hall into the 
street, there, sure enough, stood the musician waiting 
under the great arc-lamp outside. 

Some frequenter of the Lustige Winkel had given 
Mariska a half-bred dachshund, of which she seemed 
very fond. During the evening she would allow it to 
wander about the concert-hall, where it made many 
friends and no foes, except, perhaps, the cooks who had 
constantly to drive it out of the neighbouring kitchen. 
As usual, the dog came trotting out in front of Mariska, 



turning to bark at her every moment in its joy at the 
prospect of a run. It sniffed at Ahmed in an inquiring 
fashion when he joined its mistress by the entrance, 
and it uttered a deep low growl of defiance when they 
passed Mnischko, who had slunk aside out of their way. 
On catching sight of her accompanist the girl clung to 
Ahmed's arm, apparently in a state of abject terror; 
and, from what she had told him of Mnischko's former 
cruelty to her, he was not surprised that she should 
stand in dread of this most sinister-looking person. 
For she had made no secret of the nature of their 
previous relations, nor of the hard life she had led 
with him. 

As they walked on down the street they could hear 
the sound of footsteps that always kept at about the 
same distance behind them. More than once Mariska 
turned to Ahmed to warn him of the danger and to ask 
him if he were afraid. Even when the young doctor 
at last answered with a laugh that he had no fear, 
except on Mnischko's own account, as he had often 
been brought into close contant with enemies possessed 
of much greater cunning and strength, she did not 
seem quite reassured, but went on to say that she felt 
certain the man would do her a mischief one day. She 
hurried along, almost dragging Ahmed, who had no 
desire to elude pursuit in this undignified manner, with 
her; meanwhile the dachshund ran on before them and 
at times darted into the gutter to nose some tempting 
piece of garbage. They were just turning the comer 
when a huge Post-office van loomed in front of them, 
and there immediately arose the ear-piercing cry of a 
wounded animal. For the fraction of a second Ahmed 



thought that his companion's apprehensions had been 
realised. Then, what had actually happened flashed 
upon him. and. bending forward, he ^cked up the 
dog's mangled body before the back wheel of the wag- 
gon could touch it, but not until after the front wheel 
had inflicted terrible injuries. 

"Put him down," screamed Mariska; "he will bite 

" Nonsense," Ahmed replied calmly, " the poor little 
creature can recognise a friend, although he is mad- 
dened with pain." 

"That's it," she cried in the same frenzied tone; 
"he is mad and he will bite you. Leave him alone, 
doctor, and some one will soon put him out of his 

Ahmed said nothing; indeed he seemed scarcely 
aware of the woman's presence until he had done all 
that was possible to alleviate the sufferings of her dog. 
But when he had placed a thick pencil between the 
animal's teeth and bound up its bleeding hind-1^ in a 
white silk muffler that he had been wearing, he ex- 
plained to Mariska that she must go home alone, as he 
would have to attend to the fractured limb at once. 
He thereupon hailed a passing drosky, and told the 
coachman to take a liberal fare out of his pocket and 
to drive Mariska to her lodgings as fast as the police 
allowed him. Having satisfied himself that Mnischko 
had fallen a long way behind, Ahmed bade the girl 
good-night and strode off with the dog in his arms. 
But, before he had gone very far, a feeling of r^ret at 
having been forced to leave her thus abruptly caused 
him to turn and look after her. What the young man 



then saw sent a cold shiver through his whole body. 
Mariska had stopped the drosky a few yards farther on 
and was beckoning to the man from whom she had 
been flying a moment before in such terror. 

Till Mnischko had mounted into the carriage beside 
the girl and they had driven off together, laughing 
loudly, Ahmed stood as though paralysed. Shaking 
off this feeling of utter helplessness, not without a 
considerable effort of will, he had hurried back to the 
Briiderstrasse, as quickly as the burden he was bearing 
with so much care would permit him. There a friendly 
night-watchman had opened the street door for him, 
using the doctor's own big house-key; but, being unable 
to unlock the door above, Ahmed had been obliged to 
push the electric bell with his elbow. 

Frau Mankel had gone to bed hours before. How- 
ever, Elsa, who was sitting up reading, heard him ring, 
and went at once to open the half-glass door for him. 

In the dim light of an oil lamp that himg in the hall 
she saw that he was canying some live creature in his 
arms, which every now and then uttered a low moan of 
pain. Seeing also that he was prevented from doing 
anything himself Elsa first lighted the lamps in his 
sitting-room, and then fetched a large shovel of burning 
coals from the stove in hers so as to make up his fire. 
She next cleared away the cover and some books from 
a small wooden table, placed it under the light and 
spread a white cloth over it. 

Ahmed had been long familiar with the rapid and 
business-like manner in which a well-trained nurse 
goes about her work. But he could not help admiring 
Fraulein Hartvig's quiet way of doing things. She 



knew exactly what was wanted, and went to work with- 
out asking a single question. Having laid the crippled 
dog on the table with the utmost care Ahmed gently 
removed the blood-stained handkerchief from its 
mangled 1^. The animal shivered as though it were 
cold, and its breath came in a series of quick short 
pants, but when the doctor withdrew the pencil, which 
its sharp teeth had nearly bitten through, it b^an 
immediately to Uck his hand. With the aid of Elsa 
he succeeded in getting it to swallow some brandy. 
By this time the kettle she had placed on a spirit-lamp 
started to boil, and Ahmed was soon able to bathe the 
wounds with warm water in which a powerful antiseptic 
had been dissolved. When these had been thoroughly 
cleansed he gave the dog a strong dose of morphia, and 
set the 1^ as far as was possible at the time. He then 
placed the dog on a cushion near the stove, and, after 
thanking Elsa for her kindness, sent her off to bed, 
telling her to sleep soundly as he should want her 
assistance early next morning. There being nothing 
more to be done, the doctor stretched himself upon a 
sofa he had drawn up by the side of his little patient. 

Before it was light the nurse crept softly back to 
relieve him from his watch, and as soon as Ahmed had 
washed and shaved and changed his clothes he hastened 
to the Augustus Platz in order to b^ his chief to excuse 
him from attendance in the laboratory that morning. 
Although it was not yet seven o'clock he found Profes- 
sor Weigand busily engaged in reading his voluminous 
polyglot correspondence and dictating answers to the 
less important letters which his secretary took down in 
shorthand. However, the great man did not show the 



smallest sign of annoyance at being interrupted, and 
not only granted Ahmed's request, but also despatched 
a note to the resident surgeon at the hospital asking 
that Nurse Elsa might be given leave of absence for 
the day. After paying a short visit upstairs to see that 
the laboratory attendant did not neglect his charges 
while he was away, Ahmed returned to the Briider- 
strasse in high spirits, bringing his instruments with him. 

The doctor had no sooner finished breakfast than he 
took off his coat and put on a long waterproof apron. 
Meanwhile Elsa rolled up her sleeves and sterilised the 
instrument she was using for the operation in a big basin 
of boiling water. She also laid out some prepared 
gauze, rolls of linen, and small sponges, together with 
a heap of medicated cotton-wool on a side table within 
reach of her hand. Ahmed had by this time lifted 
the dog, which was still under the influence of the 
morphia, on to the operating-table. And observing 
with pleasure the unobtrusive interest of the nurse in 
his proceedings, he explained to her exacUy what he 
intended to do. 

In the ordinary way there would be no course open 
but the amputation of a limb so badly crushed. That, 
however, was not how he proposed to treat the case. 
He hoped to secure complete anaesthesia for several 
hours by injecting the dog with one-twentieth of a 
grain of the v^etable extract he had recently been 
employing in the laboratory. This would enable him 
completely to reduce the compound fracture, to draw 
the torn nerve tissues together, and manipulate the 
lacerated muscles into their normal position. It 
would be a most intricate and tedious business, in 



which he would need all the assistance she could give 
him; but if they were successful and the dog had re- 
ceived no great internal injuries it would live to run 
about again. Though, to ensure this, he feared that 
a second operation would be necessary, since it was 
more than probable that the large bones would not 
reunite in the first instance. 

Elsa's grey eyes sparkled and her pale face flushed 
with pride when he thus associated her in the success 
of his operation. She would have been delighted to 
help him in no matter how humble a way, but she was 
overjoyed at being allowed to participate in his work. 
She felt that her constant privilege of watching the 
greatest surgeon in the country was as nothing to that 
of waiting upon a look or anticipating a want of this 
young man. 

When speaking of the operation afterwards, Ahmed 
always said that Elsa deserved most of the credit for 
its success. She had acted as a clever assistant rather 
than as a mere nurse; and he declared that, but for her, 
he would never have been able to make such a good 
job of it. Nor was it then only that she proved herself 
indispensable. For, as Ahmed had predicted, the 
thigh bone was so extensively damaged that a wide 
gap remained between the healthy portions through 
which they must be made to rejoin in order that the 
dog should have the use of its leg. The problem of 
inserting a fresh piece of bone and of inducing a new 
growth was, however, not one which presented the 
same difficulty to Ahmed as it might have done to most 
other surgeons. His most recent experiments in the 
Professor's laboratory had been directed to a study of 



the localisation of functions; and for these he had been 
obliged to employ several highly organised animals, 
such as monkeys and dogs, in place of the more humble 
victims which it is the custom to sacrifice in the inves- 
tigation of bacteriological phenomena. He, therefore, 
only had to wait until one of the dogs, which under the 
new anaesthetic had already been deprived of a con- 
siderable part of its brain, unfortunately succumbed 
to the shock of a further operation, to get the piece of 
living bone requisite for patching up the dachshund's 

This time the young man did not explain to Elsa 
all the cruel necessities of the case, though she guessed, 
when she saw him sewing splinters of bone into the 
cavity, how they had been obtained, and in her heart 
she revolted at the injustice which condenmed one 
creature to suffer for the benefit of another, or even for 
the welfare of the race. But to Ahmed it was sufficient 
that the animal destroyed had been spared all sensa- 
tion of pain, and even Elsa rejoiced over the marvel- 
lous skiU which he displayed in causing these widely 
separated sections of bone to grow together again and 
form once more part of a mobile limb. For this second 
operation proved a brilliant success, the report of which 
circulated tiirough the hospital, and drew a compU- 
ment from the great Professor Weigand himself. 

But if tiie preservation of the Hmb was due to Ahmed, 
it was Elsa who tended the dog during the long period 
that followed before he could be set at liberty; and she 
had no easy task to prevent him from scratching him- 
self with his bandaged Ic^. To be sure, Ahmed helped 
her in this, taking alternate watches with her by the 



basket in which the little dachshund was secured. He 
also devised a stiff leather case, which, while holding 
the limb in the required position, yet gave a certain 
decree of freedom of movement to the restless little 

At first the dog had to be kept under morphia and 
fed artificially; but when in time he was able to eat 
solids, Elsa found out how to tempt him with beef 
jelly and calves' liver and all those things which even 
a sick dog cannot resist. She it was who christened 
him Fritz, and who lavished upon him the maternal 
instinct that is always ready to manifest itself in every 
true woman. Ahmed, too, was no longer interested 
in the dog merely as a case, having grown to look on 
him as a companion. Fritz would lick his hand when- 
ever he placed it within reach of the dog's delicate 
muzzle; and never showed the least inclination to snap 
at him when he touched the wounded limb. ''His 
late mistress could not have known much about him," 
thought Ahmed, ''or she would not have been afraid 
of his doing such a thing." 

The doctor's face darkened at the recollection of the 
dancing girl, whom he had not seen, nor experienced 
any desire to see, since the night of Fritz's accident. 
What had happened on that night seemed to have 
blotted the woman out of his mind. Or could it be 
from another cause? Was the repulsion he had felt 
at her unfeeling conduct towards the dog and the 
wanton manner in which she had thrown herself in the 
arms of her former lover the only reason why she 
attracted him no more ? At any rate he had not told 
Elsa to whom Fritzchen belonged. It was better that 



she should regard him as a stray cur picked up in the 
gutter; she would prize him all the more, because he 
had no value for others. 

The mongrel accepted Elsa's attentions with com- 
placence, though directly he ceased to be dependent on 
them he attached himself exclusively to Ahmed. Dog 
like, when at length the leather case was removed from 
his leg, he acknowledged one master, and crawled 
about after Ahmed in an ecstasy of mute devotion. 
Still Elsa could not blame Fritz for being dominated 
by the doctor's masterful personality, and she felt very 
grateful to him for having brought them together. 
But one evening Herr Meyer, who had heard about 
the operation from Frau Mankel, called in to see for 
himself how it had succeeded, and immediately recog- 
nised Fritz as the identical little brown dog that he had 
observed following one of the performers about at the 
Lustige Winkel. 

^You couldn't remember a dog you had only seen 
once," said Elsa. 

** I saw it on several occasions," he replied, ^ and I 
should know it again anywhere. Why, I have bought 
it a sausage more than once, out of regard for its mis- 
tress, Mariska, the Russian dancer. Now I think of 
it," he added, ^ she was rather friendly with the doctor. 
No doubt that's why he gave himself so much trouble 
about the dog." 

^You must be mistaken, Herr M^er," Elsa pro- 
tested indignantly. 

**Yes, perhaps I am, Fraulein Hartvig," said the 
young man, mournfully, after looking at her straight in 
the face for a little while. 



'^ Ahmed does not trust me," she thought, when the 
medical student had gone. ** He believed I should be 
jealous of that woman, and he was right; I am jealous 
of her; I was, the first time I heard of her, months ago, 
from Frau Mankel." 

*^Ah, Fritzchen," she said, addressing herself to the 
dog, ^you could tell me whether she loved him. You 
could tell me — But no, you could tell me nothing. 
You are his dog now, and you must keep his secrets." 

She had knelt down beside Fritz, putting her arms 
round his neck, and he had gazed up at her with his 
great dark eyes, searching, yet inscrutable as those of 
all dumb animals are. At that moment Ahmed had 
softly entered the room, and Elsa was not aware of his 
presence until he spoke. 

** One might almost fancy that you were asking Fritz 
somequestion," he said, noting her eager look of inquiiy. 

**I was," said Elsa, rising: swiftly from her Imees, 
not a UtUe confused at big surprised in such an 
attitude by Ahmed. 

^ You did not expect the dog to answer it, Fraulein 

*'No. Fritz is as clever as his master at keeping 
things close," she replied. 

** Ah," he said, with a laugh, ^ that is a good point in 
him, and he hasn't many, poor beast. But do I gather 
that his master has offended by concealing something 
which ought to have been communicated?" 


" Indeed ? What could that be ? " 

** You ought to have informed me that Fritz was the 
properly of some one else." 



'"Well," replied Ahmed, smiling at the seriousness 
with which she said this, ** I told you he was not mine, 
so that he must have belonged to some one else; and 
as long as no one claims him " 

^ But any day she might/' said £lsa» quickly, with a 
reproachful gluice. 

**Ah, you know who Fritz's owner was, then?" 

^Yes, and when he is quite well again, I suppose 
you will take him back to her." 

^No; I do not think she'd care for him now that he 
is lame." 

**She must be very heartless then." 

^ Perhaps," Ahmed said, rather sadly. 

^But of course she is so pretty that no man 
would ever find it out," said Elsa, with a bitter 

**Until it was too late, eh?" 

**You were fond of this woman?" 


^But you went to that place to see her night after 

**Yes, she interested me." 

**She fascinated you, you mean." 

**It is possible." 

*^ And she does still," Elsa continued, with an accent 
of intense excitement, coming close to him, and looking 
into his eyes: '*she will lure you back." 

^'I think not," Ahmed answered calmly. *^ But what 
matter if she did ? " 

*' It would matter a great deal to me," Elsa replied 
in a low earnest tone, her breathing becoming rapid 
and short. 




""Elsa!" he exclaimed hoarsely, taking her in his 
arms, and drawing her towards him. 

She made no more effort to escape from him than 
when he had Ufted her limp form from the gromid that 
night she fainted, but this time she trembled with the 
consciousness of his embrace. *'I could not bear to 
lose you now, Ahmed," whispered Elsa, as she raised 
her hands and passed them gently down his dark 
straight hair until they rested together on the back of 
his neck. Her caress caused a wave of pleasure to 
rush along the young man's tense nerves. This son 
of an austere race, who believe themselves descended 
from the lost tribes of the children of Israel, had never 
given full play to his emotions before. It was not the 
custom of his people: even in war, their great pursuit, 
some thing would be held back, a reserve of force 
against some desperate emergency; and he had been 
taught to look on love as a childish sport, well enough 
for Kafirs who took to themselves but one wife. Be- 
sides he had been always busy striving after that which 
his fathers had ever valued most — knowledge. But 
now, in a moment, he had lost self-control; his body 
shook as though with fear. This woman had subju- 
gated his reason, intoxicated his senses with the warm 
perfume of her breath, the glitter of her red-gold hair, 
and the soft pleading of her voice. Ahmed bent his 
head down, till his face nearly touched hers; he tried 
to tell Elsa that he cared for her as he had never cared 
for any other woman, but the words refused to form 
themselves in his strained throat. He could only clasp 
her more tightly in his arms and gaze at her harder 
than before; but when their Hps met he closed his eyes. 


After that kiss they were transported into a new world, 
in which the one shadow was Elsa's dread that Frau 
Mankel would discover their secret She had given 
herself freely to this man, and felt full of joy at having 
won his love, for whatever changes time might bring 
she was sure he loved her then. Her only fear was 
that they would be separated, that the good woman 
with whom th^ were living would not let them both 
stay. And they could not leave together without every- 
body knowing what they were to one another. Elsa 
thought of the Pfarrhaus in the little village near 
Konigsbeig, where the old ladies would shake their 
heads at the mention of her name when they sipped 
their afternoon coffee with the parson's fat wife; of the 
church bells that would not ring for her if ever she went 
back to be wed; and of the rough hands that would 
pluck off her myrtle wreath. All this must happen 
once the other nurses heard that she and Dr. Ahmed 
were friends. A bitter resentment, bom of envy, 
would be aroused within them, making it their solemn 
duty to publish her shame. But as long as he and she 
could remain where th^ were no one need suspect 
that there was anything between them, and no one 
would write the letter which must alter the face of 
home for her. 



Meanwhile Elsa went about her work at the hospital 
as usual, but with a radiant look of happiness in her 
eyes that caused her fellow-nurses to nudge each other 
and smile. If she was on day duty she would huny 
back to the Briiderstrasse with a light, quick step, in 
spite of the long hours in the wards and the operating- 
theatre. And on a fine evening, when she had 
changed her dress, she would sit with Ahmed, listen- 
ing to the rc^mental band in a lamp-lit concert- 
garden where Fritz would hobble after them, and 
claim a share of thdr supper, eaten under the lime- 

Frau Mankel was not blind to the change that had 
come over her lodgers; but she liked the young doctor 
and the lonely girl too well to show that she noticed any 
difference in them. It is always better to leave lovers 
alone, the romantic creature told herself. They are 
shy birds, and the spring-time is so short. To her it 
was pure delight to watch the new found pleasure these 
young people took in the company of one another, and 
she had not the least wish to know more. What their 
plans for the future might be was not her business; it 
was enough for her that, for the moment, they were 
happy. Nor did she forget that when one is young 
one does not plan and scheme as one must do when 
one is old. But though the amiable widow kept her 
own counsel, she found occasion before long to show 
Eka that she still bore her a good heart. For one 
evening when the nurse asked her if Herr Meyer had 
paid her a visit lately, Frau Mankel said that she had 
not seen the medical student for some days, and that 
she doubted if he would come again. And on Elsa's 



inquiring why she thought that, she admitted that she 
had asked him not to call. 

** It arose through a remark of his about the doctor/* 
she said, ^something disparaging about his treatment 
of Fritz." 

^Oh," said Eka, with a contemptuous smile, ^you 
need not have minded what he said about that, if 
Gehamrat Weigand is satisfied." 

'^ Yes, yes, I told him so; but it didn't convince him. 
I fear he has taken a dislike to Dr. Ahmed," the widow 
said, beaming through her spectacles at Elsa, ''and 
perhaps he has some reason I know nothing about 
At any rate, I thought it just as well that for the present 
he should not come here again." 

Suddenly Frau Mankel's friendly, weather-stained 
face, with its frame of smooth, white hair, grew indis- 
tinct to Elsa as she reached forward to grasp those 
strong, rough hands. But through the haze which 
had spread itself over her eyes, she could see the good 
soul's kindly purpose. 

" You gave up seeing your friend for my sake," she 
said, ** because you were afraid he might talk about 
me at the hospital." 

The older woman did not reply in words, but by a 
gentle pressure of the girl's fingers let her understand 
that she had guessed the reason of this small sacrifice. 

Henceforth Elsa Hartvig was free from all appre- 
hension; for she knew that if Frau Mankel remained 
her friend it would prevent people from gossiping. 
Indeed, there was nothing to set their tongues wagging. 
Neither she nor Ahmed neglected any duty they had 
to perform; Elsa was as regular as ever in her attend- 



ance at the hospital night or day, and he was always 
in his place, no matter how early or late the Professor 
might want him. Each morning at eight o'clock he 
would march off to the Augustus Platz with Fritz at 
his heels, and he never thought of leaving the laboratory 
until that day's work had been finished and every 
preparation made for the next. So that it was often 
midnight before Elsa caught the sound of his firm 
footstep on the stairs, preceded by the scuffle of the 
dog's returning feet. Yet she was well content, since, 
outside his work, he belonged to her alone. The 
presence of Fritz was a proof that he had been no- 
where else than to Professor Weigand's, or at least 
that he had not been to the one place she dreaded; for 
he was too fond of the dog to take him there, and run 
the risk of his being claimed. Elsa was still jealous 
of the woman she had never seen; so much so that she 
had gone out of her way many times to read the pro- 
gramme exhibited under a wire screen near the entrance 
to the Lustige Winkel; and one day she was delighted 
to see that the name of Mariska had disappeared from 
it The creature had gone away then, she thought, 
to practise her wiles on other men. And, with the 
sublime selfishness of love, she cared not how much 
they might suffer, so long as Ahmed was safe, though 
by this time Elsa could have trusted him not to look 
at any one but herself. 

SuLer had come again. nuUdng the ci.y one great 
furnace. But there were shady spots within easy 
reach of it, and as the University was not turning out 
the manufactured article all the year round. Professor 
Weigand had ceased to lecture for a while. Nor were 



the hospitab ninning at full pressure, since even sur- 
geons must sometimes take a holiday. Thus every 
now and then Ahmed and Elsa were able to get away 
for the afternoon. They would take the train out to 
one of the less frequented pleasure resorts, and walk 
up into the pine woods till they reached some pictu- 
resque lookout place, where they got gUmpses of the 
distant country. 

On such expeditions the fine air of the hills brought 
a flush of health to the nurse's pale cheeks, and her eyes 
grew brighter as they drank in the fresh beauty of the 
forest Seeing how she loved nature, Ahmed told her 
about his own country; the great mountain ranges 
whose peaks were wrapped in everlasting snow, and 
the fertile well-watered valleys that were famous for 
their fruit. But when Elsa declared that nothing 
would please her more than to see the wide gorges and 
narrow defiles he had described, he became silent 
And after a while he explained that, for his part, he 
had given up all hope of seeing them again. The 
knowledge he had acquired would be of little use to 
him in that wild land, even if it were not a source of 
danger. Mullah and Hakim would alike be envious 
of his superior wisdom, though both professed that 
nothing was to be learned which the Prophet had not 
written. He had noticed the sidelong way in which 
they regarded him when he went back there with the 
Professor. Besides, what was to be done with people 
who persisted in bleeding for every sort of malady, and 
who thought honey a sovereign specific ? No, Ahmed 
would not care to leave his Western friends now. K 
he had been called upon to sit in the place of his father, 



it would be different; then he might have done some 
good, might have used his experience to some purpose. 
But as things were, his own brother would look on him 
as an enemy. And he would do better to remain 

Elsa was delighted to hear him say this, for with the 
natural anxiety of love she had foreseen a day when 
Ahmed would long to return to his own people. She 
did not realise, at first, that he was as completely cut 
off from his kinsfolk as she was from hers. 

They were utterly alone in the world, these two; 
and, as the months went by, they became more and 
more absorbed in each other, so that there was scarcely 
a thought they did not share in common. Elsa, though 
the least exacting of women, yet possessed the faculty 
of her sex for occupying a man's whole attention, and 
it seemed to Ahmed that there was no room in his 
mind for any one else. 

One day, however, early in October, Herr Meyer met 
him on the stairs, and Contrary to his custom of late, 
did not pass by with a curt nod, but stopped to talk. 

^Have you heard the news?** b^an the medical 
student, who had evidently watched for an opportunity 
to tell him something. 

**What news?" said Ahmed. 

**Why, about your friend Mariska, of course," re- 
plied the other. 

** No; what of her ? ** Ahmed asked in a tone of utter 

'"It appears that she has been mixed up in killing 

some one." 



^Not that fellow Mnischko!" exclaimed the doctor* 
suddenly becoming interested. 

**With his help, they think. Anyhow, they have 
both been arrested. There is an accomit of it in the 
evening paper. I fancied you would like to know 
about this, so I brought mine down for you to see," 
said Meyer, handing him a copy of a local evening 
edition, which he had been turning over in his fingers 
while he spoke. 

*^ Thank you," said Ahmed in a hoarse voice, taking 
the paper. " It is very friendly of you, Herr Meyer." 

*'Not worth mentioning between neighbours," the 
student replied, then with a bow he said, ^ I take my 
leave, Herr Doctor," and turned to go upstairs again. 

^ Adieu!" said Ahmed politely, looking hard at the 
paper he held in his hand, but without being able to 
read a word of it. The whole of the type on the page 
seemed slowly to twist itself into one confused mass, 
out of which he could make nothing. Doubtless it was 
all printed there, the account of what had happened, 
and the reasons why suspicion had fallen on this 
wretched pair. Whether these were justified against 
Mnischko he cared not, but if the woman were guilty 
Ahmed felt that he also was to blame. For had he not 
abandoned her to the influence of that man? He 
might have saved her I This was an idea that gradually 
became a settled conviction with him. He had known 
Mariska's shallow nature to be singularly open to 
su^^estion, for good or ill, and yet he had made no 
effort to rescue her from evil surroundings. An ardent 
desire to save his fellow-creatures from su£Fering was 
the keynote of Ahmed's character. He had the bom 



physician's love of healing for its own sake, and it cut 
him to the quick to think that he had lost a case, as it 
were, through negligence. 

But he remembered that something might still be 
done to prevent her from being condenmed; money 
would help, no doubt, and he had plenty at command. 
Ahmed's brain was so busy with these thoughts that 
he had not moved from the spot where Meyer had met 
him, when Fritz, who had no such preoccupation, had 
gallopped upstairs and begun to scratch furiously at 
Frau Mankel's door. Elsa waited a moment for the 
familiar footstep that ought to have followed, and then 
hastened out of her room to let the dog in, wondering 
what could possibly have brought Fritz home before 
his master. All of a sudden a feeling of alarm took 
hold of her, and she fancied that some accident must 
have happened to Ahmed. Instinctively she leant over 
the balustrade, peering down the staircase; and a little 
way below she saw him standing quite still. When 
she called to him softly by name, he gave a start of 
surprise, looking almost dazed for the moment. But 
he pulled himself together directly, and came on up 
the stairs towards her. As soon as she had lighted the 
lamp in the sitting-room, she perceived that his face 
was a shade paler than usual, and again she b^an to 
fear that he might have met with an accident, some- 
thing he was afraid to tell her about. The dangers of 
the Physiological Laboratory were well known to Elsa; 
she could appreciate the constant risk of infection from 
some deadly bacillus that the workers in it ran every 
day of their lives. Her mind being, therefore, filled 
to overflowing with horrors, she looked anxiously at 



the young surgeon and, in a faltering voice, asked him 
if he were hurt 

"^No," he answered, with an jattempt at a smile; 
** what makes you ask ? " 

** There is something the matter, Ahmed; I can see it" 

** Well, yes, there is something, and I suppose I must 
tell you, since you would only think it a great deal 
worse than it is, if I didn't," Ahmed said, putting one 
arm round her waist and stroking her chin with his 
other hand. Soothing her thus, as one might pacify a 
child, he led her towards the sofa and set her down 
beside him. Then, placing the paper in her hand, he 
pointed to the part of it which Herr Meyer had marked 
with red ink, and said — 

•^Read that!'* 

Elsa did as he told her, reading aloud, while he leant 
back and listened. But for some time she could not 
understand either the drift of what she read or its 
bearing upon Ahmed. 

The newspaper reporter, who tried to make his 
account of the murder as complete as possible, had 
begun it with a description of the finding of the body. 
This opening incident in the Zwimau Drama, as he 
called it, had occurred in the baggage-hall of the raU- 
way station at Mittelbuig. A faint odour had drawn 
the attention of one of the porters to a big trunk which 
had remained unclaimed for two or three days. He 
had communicated the fact to his superiors, and they 
in tuni had summoned the assistance of the police, 
who at once proceeded to break open the box. In it 
they had discovered the body of a corpulent but vigor- 
ous man, whom the medical authorities pronounced to 



have been strangled. The corpse was in the initial 
stages of decomposition and it was clothed in a dark 
suit made by a Hamburg tailor, the pockets of which 
had been emptied. But on particulars being tele- 
graphed to Hamburg they were said to tally with the 
description of a certain Herr Giesecke, a wholesale 
dealer in novelties, who had been paying an annual 
visit to his clients in the neighbourhood of Dresden, 
and who had been expected home for some days. 
Giesecke's wife, alarmed by not hearing from her 
husband, had informed the police of his unaccountable 
absence, adding, in confidence, that she feared her 
husband was addicted to low company. This had 
been corroborated to some extent by the Chief of the 
Dresden Police Bureau, who reported that the Ham- 
burger had been known to his men as a frequenter of 
one of the smaller concert-halls in a quarter which was 
under constant observation, but that he had been gone 
from the city for over a week. 

The writer then launched out into a pan^yric on 
the police of Germany, where the detection and pre- 
vention of crime had been so scientifically co-ordinated 
that there was no loophole of escape. So in the case 
of this unfortunate merchant, unseen eyes had followed 
him from the moment he took his ticket at the Leip- 
ziger Bahnhof in Dresden up to the night when he 
failed to return to his room at the Black Eagle in 
Zwimau. And in less than twenty-four hours the 
police had found out that Giesecke left the hotel about 
nine o'clock; and was observed to make his way across 
the Marktplatz towards the Klostergasse, down which 
he disappeared. Attached to a beer-restaurant in this 



narrow street was a long room in which minor music- 
hall artistes from time to time gave isolated per- 
formances, and for that evening the proprietor had 
announced, as a special attraction, the appearance of 
the famous Russian dancer Mariska. 

From this point Elsa's curiosity was aroused and she 
read on eagerly. 

The Hamburger entered the Hall and took his seat 
at a table, where he was joined soon by the dancing girl 
whose acquaintance he had made at Dresden. Pre- 
sumably he had come to Zwimau for the sole purpose 
of seeing her again, since the business he might do in 
so small a town could not have justified his vbit. Be 
that as it may, the restaurant-keeper acknowledged 
that he had welcomed the arrival of Mariska's rich 
admirer, who had ordered champagne and in every way 
behaved like a true cavalier. He had also been glad to 
see that the woman's partner, Mnischko, paid no par- 
ticular attention to the pair, but was content to sit with 
him in a comer drinking numerous gUsses of local 
beer, and grumbling at the badness of trade. When 
the performance was over Mnischko sat on with the 
host discussing the ruin that socialism had brought 
upon the country. For political agitation, he declared, 
caused working men to crowd into stuffy halls to hear 
demagogues and to waste on them the money that they 
might have spent on art. 

The fellow had not forgotten this conversation be- 
cause he remembered pointing out that these people 
didn't save anjrthing even for beer, since it all went 
nowadays in talk and tobacco. Mariska and her 
companion, he was sure, had left the place earlier, 



having driven ofiF together in a closed drosky. The 
driver had stated that he took them to the end of an 
alley near the city wall, and that there the woman had 
got out of the carriage. She had stood for some min- 
utes talking in a whisper to her friend inside, and then 
turning abruptly away had gone down the dark pas- 
sage. ''To the Black Eagle," the man had shouted. 
But before the horse's head was round he had jumped 
out, handed the driver a two-mark piece, and started 
off after the woman. 

That was the last the police had been able to learn of 
Herr Giesecke in this life. But the writer had gathered 
that their theory of what had happened afterwards was 
founded on the strongest circumstantial evidence. 
They supposed that the deceased had overtaken Marie 
Schiller, for such was the dancer's real name, and 
accompanied her to her apartments in the upper part 
of a dilapidated house, backing on to the old wall. It 
is as lonely a spot as could be found anywhere in the 
crowded town, and obviously the merchant went there 
against his better judgment. At least, such was the 
interpretation placed upon that long whispered col- 
loquy at the carriage door. Nevertheless the large 
room upstairs to which she conducted him' could not 
have presented a very forbidding appearance, for 
Giesecke seems to have been quite at his ease there, 
since he lighted a cigar and seated himself in an arm- 
chair near the stove. No doubt Marie did her best to 
make him feel at home, and was probably sitting on 
his knee, when Mnischko stole silently into the room. 
The street door had purposely been left ajar, and the 
man must have taken off his boots before coming up 



the stairs; for the old couple to whom the house be- 
longed, and who lived in the basement, only heard two 
people pass their bedroom that night, and naturally 
believed them to be Marie and her husband coming 
home together. At all events, Mnischko must have 
entered without disturbing the merchant, for he had 
evidently succeeded in throwing a noose over Giesecke*s 
head and drawing it tightly about his throat before the 
wretched man could utter a sound. What followed 
might never be exactly established, but so much is 
certain; the murdered man was robbed of everything 
he had about him, even the studs out of his shirt 
being taken. He was then lifted into a laige, imita- 
tion American-trunk, which Mnischko had purchased 
second-hand from a broker in the town that day. As 
he was very heavy it had probably required two 
people to effect this, and considerable force must 
have been used in pressing the body down into the 
box,. so that the lid could be made to shut. Next day 
a street porter conveyed the box to the station, where 
jocular remarks were exchanged about its weight: but 
no sort of suspicion having arisen in the mind of any 
one it was despatched along with the strollers to 

There they had abandoned it, hastening westwards 
in order to put the greatest possible distance between 
them and its ghastly contents. And, as they were in 
possessi(m of ample funds taken from their victim, had 
it not been for the prompt action of the officials, they 
would certainly have escaped to America. Four days 
later, however, the man and woman had both been 
arrested in the act of stepping on board a steamer at 



Bremerhaven, and brought back to Zwimau, where 
they were now awaiting trial. 

"'Oh, Ahmed!" Elsa cried, letting the paper fall and 
throwing her arms about his neck, ^they might have 
killed you." 

"It would have scarcely been worth their while," 
said the doctor, with a grim smile. "I do not carry 
laige sums of money on me like a merchant. Neither 
do I drink wine that deadens the senses. Herr Mnischko 
could not have taken me by surprise so easily as he did 
the man from Hamburg. Besides," he added thought- 
fully, **Mariska would have warned me." 

** I wonder you believe that after what you have just 
heard about her," said Elsa, quickly. 

"When I was a boy in my father's house," b^an 
Ahmed, in a calm, matter-of-fact tone, " Nasrullah, my 
elder brother, was angry because he feared I might, if 
I grew up straight and strong, be chosen in his place, 
although his mother was my father's chief wife. So 
one day he loosed a young she-tiger into the room where 
I slept. She was a fierce creature except to him who 
had reared her; but when my people came they found 
me playing with her, as a child will with a kitten, and 
from that day she was tame only with me. Then 
Nasrullah ordered her to be killed, though she had been 
a great favourite." 

** I would rather trust myself to the mercy of a tigress 
than to that of a dangerous woman," said Elsa, not in 
the least convinced by his illustration. 

" Perhaps you would be right, my treasure," replied 
Ahmed, smiling again in the same bitter manner; 
"women have very little mercy for one another." 



** You think she would not be dangerous to you ? ** 

*a know it!" 

Ahmed then went on to explain how his own experi- 
ments on Mariska led him to believe that she had acted 
under the influence of Mnischko. But Elsa would not 
agree that an ignorant person like this could have 
exerted sufficient brain force to displace entirely the 
will of another. She did not, however, aigue the point 
any further, since she soon found out that Ahmed was 
fully persuaded of the woman's innocence. It was 
only when he told her that he intended to go to Zwimau 
next day the she ventured to protest. 

**What could you possibly do there .^" she asked. 

"Secure an advocate for her," he answered. 

**That might be done by writing." 

"No. I must see Marie Schiiler myself." 

"Ah!" exclaimed the nurse, starting away from him 
with an mvoluntary movement of disgust. 

"That is to say, if I can," he continued quietly, 
making no effort to retain her. "I must have her 
consent before I engage a lawyer to defend her." 

Elsa moved towards him again and placed her head 
on his shoulder; then, looking up at him with a re- 
signed expression, she said : " It is very good of you to 
take all this trouble about the poor thing, Ahmed." 

" It is the least I can do after having failed her, when 
she needed my help, and, after all, I suppose one ought 
to do as much for a human being, as one would for a 
dog!" he said, leaning down and patting Fritz's smooth 
brown coat, an action which provoked the dachshund 
to scramble up on to the sofa by his side and to lick 
hb face. 



**He belongs to her/' said Elsa, with a deep sigh» 
looking at Fritz r^retfully. 

""Yes," Ahmed replied, ^and I have no doubt he 
would speak a good word for her if he could, in spite 
of her wanting me to leave him to die that night." 

"You never told me that, Ahmed." 

"No; it is one of the things about her that I would 
rather forget." 

"Was she acting under the influence of some one 
else then ? ** Elsa asked slowly, with a touch of malice 
in her tone. 

"She was under the influence of fear, an emotion 
that has been the cause of many a cruel deed." 

" You don't mean that I am jealous of this woman ? " 
said Elsa, lifting her head and looking at him defiantly. 

"You behave as though you were," said he, with 
a frown which made her drop her eyes, in dread that 
she had angered him beyond forgiveness. " But," he 
added in a lighter tone, quickly relaxing his furrowed 
brows, "you have no reason to be." 

Hien drawing her towards him in his strong arms, 
he bent over her and kissed her white throat, so that 
she was afraid no more. 



Ahmed was unable to leave Leipzig next day, because 
the Professor could not spare him, but on the morning 
after he set out early for Zwimau. And when he 
arrived he found that sleepy mediaeval town to be still 
in a ferment of excitement over the murder. TTie first 
person he met informed him that Marie had been 
lodged in the new prison, and offered to conduct him 
to that part of the Castle, but begged him to go by way 
of the city wall in order to pass the house where the 
deed had beea perpetrated. ^This self-appobted guide 
appeared quite hurt at his refusal to visit the actual 
scene of the crime, though he, nevertheless, led the 
doctor up the winding road to the fortress, and only 
took leave of him at its gates, after politely pointing out 
the prison building. On reaching this, Ahmed re- 
membered that he was scarcely provided with the 
credentials to secure admittance to the prisoner. By 
a happy inspiration, however, he hit upon the idea of 
asking for the prison doctor; and before long a plump, 
sleek little man, of a pronouncedly Jewish type, came 
tripping into the haU, holding Ahmed's card in his 
hand. Dr. Meissener, who found life unendurable in 
Zwimau, had been on the eve of taking his holiday 
when the accused persons had been suddenly thrust 
upon him. Otherwise, there was no prisoner of im- 



portance, this not being a convict establishment; but, 
with the appearance of these two his chance of spending 
Christmas in Berlin had vanished. Could it be pos- 
sible that his Leipzig colleague was willing to fill his 
place temporarily ? All this the little man stated with 
the utmost volubility, not allowing Ahmed to speak a 
single word; and, having at length come to an end, 
seemed much disappointed when he politely r^retted 
his inability to do this. ''To what, then, am I in- 
debted for the honour?" he inquired, with an accent 
of disillusion. On Ahmed's explaining the purpose of 
his visit, the prison doctor declared that it would have 
given him the greatest pleasure to oblige; but — and, 
with a tremendous shrug of the shoulders, he had con- 
veyed the utter impossibility of what was asked. 
Ahmed did not intend to be put off thus, without mak- 
ing a desperate effort to attain his object, and he was 
not slow to take advantage of the hint his colleague had 
let fall. Therefore, drawing him a little on one side, 
he said, in a confidential tone: ''If it is a question of 
the woman's health that keeps you here, perhaps I 
might be of assistance." 

" How so ? " asked Meissener, rapidly turning a pair 
of gold-rinmied spectacles upon him. 

"At any rate, you would have no concern on the 
man's account"? 

" None whatever; he is not in the least likely to cheat 
the Scharfrichter." 

" But of course a woman subject to violent hysteria 
requires close attention." 

" How do you know she is hysterical ? " 

"I told you. Doctor Meissener, that I had studied 



her case. Shall I tell you what has happened since she 
has been in your chaige ? " 

""Oh, please," said the little man, with an incredu- 
lous smile. "Clairvoyance is always interesting." 

"Well," replied Ahmed, undisturbed by the other's 
tone of orthodox contempt for anything of an occult 
nature, " for the first twelve hours the woman remained 
in a dull stupor, out of this she passed into a rage that 
lasted until her strength was exhausted, when she fell 
to sleep, and since then she has gone at short intervak 
from one fit of rage into another." 

"Merciful heaven, yes!" exclaimed the astonished 
doctor. "You are right! She has behaved like a 
freshly caged wild beast most of the time. And I can 
do nothing to stop her. Our r^ulations do not permit 
me to administer drugs unless a prisoner is ill." 

" That is what I meant," Ahmed answered, " when I 
said I mi^t be able to help you! Suppose I could 
quiet this woman without breaking your rules?" 

"Ah, if you could do that you'd save me a lot of 
trouble. But how ? " 

"I am not prepared to say yet, only I pledge my 
professional reputation that she will cause you no 
further anxiety, after I have seen her." 

"Agreed," said Meissener. "You shall! You will 
see her in my presence, of course, and anything you 
wish to give her must be inspected by me." 

" Oh, you need not be afraid," Ahmed replied, with a 
fine smile. " I do not want to poison her; I have come 
to save her life." 

" You have a hard task before you then, if all I hear 
about the murder is correct," said Meissener, chuckling 



as he turned to lead him up to the infirmary where 
Marie had been placed under the charge of a female 
attendant. Their entrance to the room came as a 
surprise to both its inmates, for the doctor had unlocked 
the door with his pass key. The woman on guard, 
however, on hearing the hinges grate, put down her 
knitting, and was about to move, when Meissener 
stopped her with a gesture. Marie, who had stood on 
tiptoe, reaching up to the iron bars of the window, 
turned away from it after a little while, with a deep 
sigh. She had been in one of her calmer moods, but 
the sight of the prison doctor threw her into a fresh 
paroxysm. "Ah," she cried, "you have come back 
again to blink at me with your beads of eyes, you little 
black pig!" 

" Pigs are lucky, my child," he said good-humouredly. 

" Not when they squint at one, as you do," said the 
woman, extending her hand towards the doctor with 
two fingers elevated, as though to ward ofiF the evil eye. 
" It is by your orders that I am watched by the pig-dog 
there," she continued, pointing to the placid attendant, 
who visibly writhed under this unforgivable insult. 

" It is no good abusing Fraulein Finke," the doctor 
said; "she does not wish to remain, I am sure!" 

"Indeed, I do not," said the offended woman. 

"And if you cannot be left to yourself it is your own 

" You will say next that it is my fault I am here at 

"That is as may be," said Meissener, with a careless 
shrug of the shoulders, and an accompanying move- 
ment of both hands. "At any rate it is not mine; and 



you have no reason to be angry with me just now. I 
have brought you a friend." 

Up to then Marie had taken no notice of the doctor's 
companion, believing him to be simply an assistant 
from the prison infirmary. But when Meissener 
alluded to him in these terms she advanced a few steps 
nearer to Ahmed. 

'"Oh," she said, failing to recognise him, '"another 
of your Ghetto breed!" There was perhaps much in 
his appearance to justify her mistake. His glossy 
straight black hair, full lips, and olive skin gave him a 
somewhat Semitic aspect. Coming forward a little, 
he looked into her eyes with a fixed stare; and though 
she had already opened her mouth to hurl some insult 
at him, she uttered no sound. He gazed at her thus 
for less than a minute, and then took one step back- 
wards. Immediately she made a similar step towards 
him, and when a moment after he advanced two or 
three steps, she retired before him in the same way. 
Doctor Meissener, who was much nearer to Marie, 
bent forward to look at her closely, but she paid not 
the slightest attention to him. As he looked, her eye- 
balls rolled upwards out of sight, and her eyelids 
quivered gently together, while the muscles of her 
throat made a curious swallowing movement When 
Ahmed pointed to a chair, she walked straight to it and 
seated herself without once opening her eyes. He then 
b^an to speak to her in a slow impressive manner, but 
in a dialect which Meissener, though by no means a 
poor linguist, could not understand. Ahmed had first 
learnt Russian from the Cossack escort of the various 
distinguished soldiers who came from time to time to 



his country on hunting expeditions, so that he was able 
to talk to Marie in the tongue her mother had taught 
her as a child, one that the smattering of many lan- 
guages she had acquired in her vagrant life had not 
caused her to forget 

" You have been unwell, Mariska ? " he said in Little 
Russian, glancing at his colleague's face to see if the 
words conveyed any meaning to him. "You have 
been badly used, moya gorlitschko ? " 

"Yes, yes!" Marie answered, in a deep low voice. 

" Has any one here ill-treated you ? " he said, standing 
back so that Meissener, who was still gazing eagerly at 
the woman, should not observe how closely he watched 

"No; they have not been unkind; it was the people 
outside who frightened me, the men who howled and 
the women who shook their fists at me. They made me 
afraid on the way here from the railway, and I was 
glad to be inside these walls for a time, till the thought 
came that I should only leave them once again alive." 

"You must dismiss that thought from your mind, 
Mariska." Ahmed put an immense depth of meaning 
into these words, which he intended as a suggestion 
that the woman would be forced to obey. He had 
satisfied himself while Marie was speaking that the 
prison doctor, who no doubt knew some Russian, was 
utterly unable to follow anything they said. 

" For the future you will dwell only on such pleasant 
memories as may help you to bear your captivity in 
patience. And when the hour of your trial comes you 
will say nothing, except that you are innocent. You 
will answer no question, either at that or any other 



time; nor will you speak to the people in this place 
more than is necessary. Think of the men who have 
loved you, and of the women who have hated you, 
Mariska. Now you may awaken, and you must reply 
in the affirmative to the questions I shall ask you." 
Having given this last conunand rather quickly, but 
nevertheless very distinctly, he leant forward and blew 
lightly on her eyes. Whereupon she opened them 
slowly and smiled at him with a look of friendly recog- 
nition, as though she had not known who he was before. 
^You remember me, then, Marie?" he said, speaking 
in German once more. 

*' Yes," she answered, in a somewhat sleepy tone. 

" And you trust me ? " 

"Yes," she answered again with a yawn, stretching 
her arms. 

"You are willing that I should find some one to 
defend you ? " 

" Yes," she answered for the third time mechanically, 
without appearing to take any special interest in the 
matter. Hien clasping her hands behind her head she 
leant back against the wall in an unconscious attitude 
of artistic repose and was very soon fast asleep. 

"There," said Ahmed, pointing towards her, "I 
promised that you should have no more trouble with 

"And upon my life," exclaimed Meissener, "I don't 
believe we shall! You have a wonderful power over 
the woman, and if you are as successful with all your 
other subjects, I envy you the possession of such a gift." 

"It is nothing uncommon in my country," said the 
other modestly. " Many of the fakirs have it to a far 



greater extent, being able to produce insensibility to 
pain; which is, of course, beyond my power." 

** Hum,'* muttered the little doctor to himself, *' I'm 
not so sure of that!" adding, in a tone of undisguised 
admiration, "I've met few men capable of exerting a 
stronger magnetic influence than you, my friend." 
Meissener thereupon, taking his arm, marched him out 
of the room and down the corridor to his own apart- 
ments. He insisted upon his remaining to the midday 
meal, and would take no refusal, although Ahmed 
protested that he had business in the town. "What- 
ever this precious business may be," said his host, *' and 
I think I can guess what it is, no people here will see 
you till they have finished their dinner, so that there is 
plenty of time for you to have your own first." 

Ahmed made no further objection, deciding that it 
might, after all, be the wisest course to take the little 
man into his confidence. Nor was any particular 
revelation necessary, since Meissener knew the main 
reason of his visit and alluded to it the moment they 
were seated at table. His colleague from Leipzig had 
put him under an obligation by calming the fury who 
had been placed in his care, and he was anxious to 
return this service if he could. Besides, he thought 
he saw his way to save himself still further trouble in 
the matter. 

** You are going to look for some one to defend this 
lady ? " he said, after seeing that his guest's wants were 
supplied. And when Ahmed had assented to this with 
a nod, he added, "Then you cannot do better than call 
upon the Rechtsanwalt Ehrlich at No. 7 Marktplatz. 
He is a friend of mine, and, like myself, a Jew. We 



were students together at Berlin. I would give you a 
letter of introduction, but as you are going to him on a 
matter of business nothing of the kind will be neces- 

'"I will call on your friend without delay," said 
Ahmed, glancing at his watch. 

** There is no hurry," Meissener replied. ** You will 
not find him at his office until half-past one. Ehrlich 
dines at the Black Eagle every day, and the table dChMe 
is not over much before then. He is a clever fellow, 
and who knows that he won't get her ofiF ? " 

*'If he does," said Ahmed, quickly, guessing the 
other's unspoken thought, ''you will be rid of her, after 
the trial. Are you prepared to give him any assist- 

The prison doctor did not answer for a moment, 
then, with a slight hunching of his shoulders, and a 
marked raising of his moustache, he said, ''I should 
certainly put no obstacles in his way, but I do not see 
how I am to help him." 

''Suppose his defence was that the woman was 
mentally unsound?" 

" My opinion on the point might not be asked." 

"But if it were?" 

"It would depend upon what I observed between 
this and the trial." 

"You are not in a position to support that view 

"To be perfectly frank with you, no! But I am 
open to conviction, and shall not go out of my way to 
upset any evidence you are able to bring. However, 
I reconunend you to have a talk with the Rechtsanwalt 



first." With this piece of sound advice the little man 
bade an almost affectionate farewell to his guest, whose 
acquaintance he had only made that morning. 

Ahmed's long l^s carried him so fast down hill that 
he had groped his way through the arched entrance of 
No. 7 Marktplatz and up a broad flight of oak stairs 
before the lawyer had returned. He stood for some 
time gazing at the plate on the door, which informed 
possible clients that Adolph Ehrlich, Doctor utrisque 
juris, Rechtsanwalt, was to be consulted from 9 a.m 
to 12.30 P.M., and from 1.30 p.m. to 6. Uncertain 
whether to ring the bell or to go away for a little while, 
he was still hesitating when he heard a light quick 
footstep behind him, and, looking round, found him- 
self face to face with a thin man of medium height, 
dressed in the conventional black of the learned pro- 
fessions. The lawyer at once ushered Ahmed into his 
study and, with an apology for having detained him, 
invited him to be seated. Then in an attitude of at- 
tention, with one of his knees crossed over the other 
and both his hands clasped about it, he silently listened 
to everything Ahmed had to say. 

When the doctor had concluded, Herr Ehrlich did 
not speak immediately, but leaned back in his chair, 
screwed up his forehead into a net of wrinkles, took off 
his pince-nez, rubbed them on a coloured silk handker- 
chief, straightened out his thin l^s to their full extent, 
and looked hard at his sharp-pointed in-turned toes as 
if seeking inspiration from some unexpected source. 
During this interval Ahmed, not wishing to disturb the 
lawyer's train of thought, remained perfectly still; and, 
after a little time, he pulled himself together, put on 



his glasses again, and turned them towards his client 
*^ My advice in this business is, for the present, to leave 
the question of responsibility on one side," he said. 
*'We can secure that as a line of retreat, but should 
fight the main issue on broader grounds. Of course 
I know the details of the crime already; one cannot 
dine at the hotel, or drink a glass of beer in the Buig 
Keller, without hearing many times over everything 
there is to be told. And naturally my mind set itself 
to work to construct a scheme of defence, though there 
did not seem to be much chance of my services being 
retained. It appeared to me that the proper course 
would be to strike out boldly for justifiable homicide, 
or at least for circumstances of extreme provocation. 
Since we cannot hope to prove that Mnischko did not 
strangle this man, we must show that he acted under 
the influence of an incontrollable emotion." 

But we are not interested in the fellow," said Ahmed. 

There, I think, you are mistaken," continued the 
lawyer. *' It is most important to lift the affair out of 
the category to which the prosecution will assert it 
belongs, into that of the crime of passion. As the 
story is being told in the streets, this is a murder that 
has been classed; every step of it is familiar. Your 
notion that we should defend the woman by suggesting 
that she was so entirely in this man's power as to have 
no will of her own is open to a very grave objection. 
Admit the theory of the prosecution, and it follows that 
the crime was not only premeditated, but planned with 
diabolical ingenuity. And the woman must then be 
convicted of at least an equal share of guilt with the 
man; unless you can produce evidence of her insanity 



in the past, or a general consensus of medical opinion 
that she was insane at the time when the crime was 
committed. But I understand you cannot count upon 
doing that. On the other hand, if we represent Mariska 
as a vain, frivolous, light-headed, impressionable crea- 
ture, to whom nothing was more natural than that she 
should fall in love with her Hamburg admirer, and 
Mnischko as being intensely passionate and jealous to 
the verge of madness, we may persuade the jury that 
he killed Herr Giesecke in a sudden access of rage at 
unexpectedly finding him in the company of his para- 
mour. If we can obtain any sort of corroboration of 
this theory from the various witnesses who are bound 
to testify, we shall rob the crime of its preconcerted 
character, and it will not prevent us from calling you 
to prove that the woman is easily capable of being in- 
fluenced. Moreover, it has the advantage of not plac- 
ing the prosecution in possession of our ultimate ground 
of appeal against an adverse verdict. For if we were 
to put forward a direct plea of irresponsibility they 
would be sure to call rebutting evidence. Further, the 
feeling that he was saddled with the entire onus of the 
crime would be calculated to provoke a confession on 
the man's part. And though this would not, by itself, 
cause the conviction of our client, it could not fail to 
have a tremendously damaging effect." 

** What do you propose, then ? " said Ahmed. 

''To defend both the prisoners on the lines I have 
indicated. It should not be difficult to secure the 
consent of Mnischko to my representing him; and I 
think I might undertake to arrange that myself. But 
it is another matter whether I ought to app^r for them 



in court. The case will come on at the next sitting of 
the Oberlandesgericht in Mittelbuig, and if money 
were not a consideration " 

"'Pray spare no expense," said Ahmed, who, as he 
never spent anything on himself, had saved the major 
portion of the princely allowance he received from his 
father, and had even put by some of his earnings, so 
that he was, relatively speaking, a man of capital. 

Ehrlich, who loved to conduct all his cases in the 
most economical manner consistent with a successful 
issue, and had not the smallest notion of overcharging 
any one however rich, replied, with a faint smile of 
amusement at the young stranger's eagerness, '' The 
extra costs would not be very great, if I engaged a 
colleague from Berlin to plead our cause. I could do 
it myself; but I judge this to be an affair that should be 
handled by a specialist. For just as some of you 
doctors take up special departments of medicine, so 
certain jurists devote themselves to particular branches 
of law; and in criminal proceedings no one stands 
higher to-day than my friend Justizrat Simonsohn. 
He will give a new aspect to the case by his lucid 
exposition of our theory of defence, and get more 
out of the witnesses than I could hope to do. Also 
his mere appearance in court will impress the jury, 
and carry a certain amount of weight with the 

^If you can secure his services, let him name any 
fee he likes," said Ahmed, delighted with the lawyer's 
description of this brilliant advocate. 

** Oh ! the fee is not so exorbitant," Ehrlich answered, 
raising hb hand as though to reprove the doctor's reck- 



lessness. ^'A thousand marks and his travelling ex- 
penses, say twelve hundred in all." 

^ Very moderate, indeed!" replied the young man. 

** Then the only remaining question is, WiU he come ?" 

" Is there any doubt ? " 

"Every doubt" 

" But surely you can persuade him." 

" Well," said the lawyer, smiling, " I think I might. 

Eveiy one says that the Mariska is an exceedingly 
beautiful woman; and Simonsohn, like all great men, 
has a weakness for beautiful women. On that account 
he is always ready to defend one in the courts. Be- 
sides, he knows they attract attention; and that is 
what a popular advocate wants. No fee would induce 
Simonsohn to come all the way from Berlin, unless he 
thought this trial would be talked about. But I fancy 
I can satisfy him on that point. For the rest, you may 
safely leave the matter in my hands. Dr. Ahmed." 
Then rising and glancing at the card he had placed on 
the desk beside him, he added: "I have your address, 
I see." There being nothing more to ask, he bowed 
the doctor out of his book-lined study, conducting him 
through a hall into which the books had overflowed, 
and taking leave of him ceremoniously at the door. 

Ahmed returned to Leipzig with a far lighter heart 
than that with which he had left it in the morning. He 
felt that his time had not been wasted, and that he had 
found a good friend in Meissener, and a trustworthy 
ally in Ehrlich. Elsa could see that he was greatly 
pleased with the result of his day's work, when he told 
her that he had visited the prison and consulted a 
lawyer. She was glad, too, because during the last 



two days there had been an uncomfortable state of 
tension between them, which might, at any moment, 
have broken out into mutual recriminations. But now 
that Ahmed's mind had been to a certain degree set at 
rest, this danger had passed. Elsa was relieved also 
to find that he had apparently dismissed Mariska 
entirely from his thoughts. So they drifted along once 
more in perfect harmony for several weeks, until one 
evening a bulky letter came in a large oblong sealed 
envelope for Ahmed. It caught Elsa's eye directly 
she saw it, lying on the hall table with a sedate air of 
official importance. And when the doctor returned a 
little later, he was by no means surprised to find it 
there, for he guessed that it could only be a formal 
summons to attend the trial. He knew that the hearing 
was fixed for the next week, as he had been in constant 
correspondence with Herr Ehrlich, whom he had sup- 
plied with all the necessary funds, and who had made 
every preparation for the defence. But the young man 
had not broached the subject of his giving evidence to 
Elsa, as he feared that it would again arouse her jeal- 
ousy. Perhaps he might have even invented some 
imaginary patient to whom he had been sent by Pro- 
fessor Weigand, if she had not seen this tell-tale letter, 
about which she was sure to question him. He could 
scarcely explain it away by saying that some one con- 
nected with the High Court of Mittelburg had been 
taken ill. Besides, she must know all about it in a few 
days when the account of the trial was published; so 
that it might be better to tell her the truth at once. He 
therefore said, in a casual tone, as he entered the room, 
*' I have just received this letter, Elsa." 



**Yes," she answered; "I noticed it as I came in. 
It looked so imposing." 

^ It is from the Court of Justice at Mittelburg, calling 
upon me to give evidence." 

" Oh ! " said Elsa, with a sigh of relief, " I thought 
that envelope might contain your appointment to a 
professorship somewhere, and I was selfish enough to 
feel sorry." 

" Because of my promotion ? *' 

** No; because it might take you to some place a long 
way off, and then, perhaps, I should never see you 

*' Elsa," the young man said solemnly, ** is there any 
place so far off that you could not join me there ? '' 

**Not if you would let me," replied the nurse, her 
voice broken with emotion. ** I will follow you to the 
end of the earth, Ahmed, if need be, and you do not 
thrust me from you." She threw her arms round his 
neck as she said this, and clung to him, as though she 
dreaded that he might be taken from her at that mo- 
ment. Possibly the impulse sprang, too, from some 
subconscious interpretation of his thoughts which 
warned her that they were occupied by another. How- 
ever this may have been, the instinctive demonstration 
of her love was not without its effect on Ahmed. Hold- 
ing her to him with one arm, he pushed back the heavy 
red mass of hair from her forehead, and, gazing into 
her upturned eyes, said, in a low earnest voice, " We 
have gone too far hand in hand ever to turn back, 
Elsa, and while I live, I hope always to have you by 
my side, for if you left me, I should be altogether 



** I too have no one else to care for me now/' said the 
nurse a little regretfully; ""but I do not mind that, 
Ahmed, so long as I am sure of you." 

'"Look into my eyes/' he said, with a fond smile, 
** and see a picture which should make you quite sure. 
You can have very little faith in yourself if you doubt 
me," he added lightly, after a moment's pause, during 
which she gazed at the twin reflections of herself. 
'^And you pay yourself an ill compliment when you 
are jealous of any other woman — Marie, for instance ! " 

^Oh, but I'm not in the least," replied Elsa. 

'^ Ah! I'm glad to hear you say that," said Ahmed, 
quickly, '* because the trial I have to attend on Monday 
is hers." 

** You are going to give evidence ? ** 



**Her mental condition." 

^You won't say anything about having known her 
at that tingel-tangel ? 

** Not unless they ask me." 

** But they will ask you, of course.' 

" WeU, what then ? 

** Your colleagues here will be offended." 


** Because they do not consider it fitting that a doctor 
should visit such places." 

'^I don't think Professor Weigand would care; and 
for the others, I am not dependent on their goodwiU. 
So that you need scarcely object, Elsa." 

** It is for your own sake, Ahmed." 

**I must obey my conscience, no matter what hap- 



£ me." 

m, oi course." 


pens," said he finnly. Elsa saw then that she could 
not dissuade him, and changed her tone to one of agree- 

''I am content that you should do what you think 
right, Ahmed," she said, " and I only trust you may be 
able to help this poor creature." 

"Thank you for those words, dear," he said; "they 
have made my mind easier than it has been for some 
time past." 

And Elsa knew from the look of love in his eyes, and 
the tender note in his voice, that she had won a great 
victory by her submissiveness that night. 



AHifED was grateful to Elsa for not having seriously 
opposed his decision; but he did not think it prudent to 
inform her that he had paid a second visit to Zwimau. 
This had been the result of a clever manoeuvre on the 
part of his astute lawyer. Herr Ehrlich had come to 
the conclusion that although the interest the young 
doctor had displayed in the female prisoner was con- 
vincing evidence of a soft heart, it lacked the impar- 
tiality that carries weight with a hard-headed jury. 
He had, therefore, approached his ex-fellow-student, 
Meissener, in the Buig Keller one evening, on the 
subject of an official examination of the woman. And 
having that very day heard from Ahmed that the Pro- 
fessor was overwhelmed with work, he suggested that 
Weigand should be asked to see Marie Schuler. 

Whether the prison doctor saw through the Recht- 
sanwalt's ruse or not, is uncertain, as he gave no audible 
expression to his thoughts at the time. But after 
drinking a whole glass of Erlanger to his friend's 
special health, he promised to put the matter before 
Freiherr von Baltzan, who, he declared, had taken a 
fancy to the creature himself. In saying this Meisse- 
ner was probably not without warrant, since the Gov- 
ernor at once agreed to do what was proposed, and 
even offered to pay Dr. Weigand's fee, though not 



ill-pleased to hear that it had been already provided 
for. As a matter of fact, no one was ever called upon 
to pay it, for the Professor, being unable to come when 
voa Baltzan wrote to him, sent Dr. Ahmed in his 
place. It was naturally beneath the dignity of the 
Grovemor to receive an assistant, so he had allowed 
Meissener to do the honours, and had thus given 
Ahmed another chance of talking confidentially to his 
colleague. The little man had welcomed him effusively, 
and assured him that he would find the prisoner quite 

** Since you saw her," he said, '^ she has become as 
quiet as a lamb; she hardly speaks at aU, except in 
answer to a direct question, and then only in a mono- 
syllable." This improvement he ascribed entirely to 
the wonderful influence that Ahmed had exerted; and 
he was profuse in his thanks to him for having brought 
it about. 

The young man smiled at the extravagance of the 
prison doctor's gratitude, but nevertheless hastened to 
take advantage of it, by pointing out the advisability of 
saying nothing about his previous visit. 

Meissener agreed that it would certainly serve no 
purpose to speak of that first visit now, and went on to 
say that, as the thing had been irregular, he had men- 
tioned it to no one, not even to the Governor. 

''Let it remain between us, then," said Ahmed, ''a 
professional secret?'* 

When Meissener had signified his assent with a nod, 
Ahmed reflected that only two other people, Eba and 
Ehrlich, knew of hb having been in Zwimau before. 
The Rechtsanwalt would assuredly never betray the 



fact, and Fraulein Hartvig would not know that he had 
gone there again. 

This was the sole visit to which he should allude; and 
he might safely pose at the trial as an independent 
medical authority who had been asked to see the 
prisoner by her official attendant. He could allow it 
to appear that he had then recognised her as the dancing 
girl he had previously known at Leipzig. Before going 
up to the infirmary he had been careful to ascertain 
whether the same woman was looking after Marie. 

''No/' Meissener had replied. ''She is alone now; 
we did not consider it necessary to have her watched 
after she left off raving. She ought to have been put in 
one of the ceUs, but the Governor thought it would be 
best to let her remain where she was.'' 

When they entered the room Marie was sitting by 
the stove, reading a book which the susceptible von 
Baltzan had lent her; but she looked up from it on 
Meissener's calling her by name, and immediately 
recognised his companion. 

"Ah, doctor!" she exclaimed, speaking in Little 
Russian, "you have come back at last! Oh, I have 
been waiting for you, waiting, waiting." She let the 
book slip from her fingers, and came quickly towards 
Ahmed. Then, falling upon her knees before him, 
she clasped his hand and pressed it to her lips in an 
agony of self-abandonment. 

Meissener, who judged this to be no part of the 
official consultation, turned away from them to gaze 
out of the high barred window, as though he had sud- 
denly observed something extraordinary in the aspect 
of the sky. 



^Save me!" the woman cried, in a tone of intense 
emotion, clinging to him and looking up into his face 
with an expression of passionate entreaty. 

*' That is what I am ttying to do, Mariska," Ahmed 
answered in the same dialect, passing his disengaged 
hand slowly downwards over her yellow hair; then, 
gently releasing his other hand, he made a similar 
movement with it on the opposite side. In a few 
moments her agitation became less violent, and she 
allowed him to lift her from the ground. And when 
the prison doctor turned towards them he found that 
Marie was seated calmly in her chair again. 

Ahmed then proceeded to examine the woman in a 
thoroughly professional manner, calling Meissener's 
attention to certain symptoms. Meanwhile she re- 
mained quite passive, neiUier saying anything herself, 
nor seeming to take any notice of what was said by 
the doctors. When Ahmed had finished he promised 
to send his colleague a written report on the prisoner 
for official reference, which, he b^ged, should be 
regarded as confidential and not on any account pro- 
duced, unless it were called for after his evidence at 
the trial. 

In this also Dr. Meissener cheerfully acquiesced, 
provided that he was not asked personally to support 
a plea of irresponsibility; as in that case it would be his 
duty to conmiunicate the document to the prosecution 

^'No such plea will be raised in the first instance,'' 
replied Ahmed. 

** Ah, so I understand from Ehrlich — a clever head, 
my friend; but I am glad he has left me out of his plan," 



said the little man, with a grimace of mingled admira- 
tion and dread. 

Marie evidently heard them talking, but their words 
conveyed no meaning to her. When, however, Ahmed 
had passed his hands slowly upwards in front of her 
face, she once more assumed an air of comprehension, 
and into her great blue eyes, which had all the while 
been fixed upon him, there came an expression of in- 
finite confidence. Quick to note this look and to per- 
ceive that it indicated a frame of mind in which implicit 
obedience would be paid to his conmiands, he returned 
her steady stare, and again addressed her in her mother 

^Mariska, you have entrusted your defence to me 
and I shall not fail you. I have found an advocate 
who will plead for your life as though you were his own 
child. But whatever may be said, you must make no 
sign that you hear. You must sit there before your 
judges as at the trial of some one else, some one who is 
nothing to you. Remember that! You understand 

" Yes," she answered in a low voice. ** I understand, 
my brother, and I will remember." Her mouth was 
slowly drawn down on one side into a curious smile. 
An exp.^ession that Ahmed knew well; one that denoted 
subjection to the wiU of another, together with the 
existence of some secret understanding. And he hoped 
that Meissener had never perceived this look of cun- 
ning in the woman's face, as it always caused him to 
shudder when he saw it there himself. 

Before saying good-bye to the prison doctor, Ahmed 
apologised to him for having, when on an official visit, 



spoken to Marie in a language with which his colleague 
might not be acquainted. He further declared that he 
had only done so because the woman was much more 
familiar with Ruthenian than with either high or low 
German. But the little man, who, in spite of his 
brutal directness in matters that another would con- 
sider private, had none of the vulgar curiosity that 
more tactful people often display, was loud in his 
assurances that his visitor might have talked to the girl 
in Chinese, if he had chosen, without giving him the 
least offence. The two doctors, therefore, shook hands 
warmly on parting, and remained the best of friends. 

They did not meet again until that bleak December 
day on which the sitting of the Oberlandesgericht 
opened at Mittelburg; when they ran across one an- 
other by accident in the great hall of the Palace of 
Justice. Ahmed was glad to hear from Meissener, 
who had come over early that morning from Zwimau 
with the prisoners, that Marie's health had not suffered. 
And when he saw her in court later on, she certainly 
appeared little the worse for her long imprisonment 
In this respect she presented a striking contrast to 
Mnischko, on whom all these weeks of being shut up 
within four waUs had obviously told. The man's 
gaunt face had become ashen grey, his haggard eyes 
wandered restlessly about the court, and his bony 
fingers moved nervously along the brass rail before 
him, as though he were picking out a tune on some 
invisible instrument. Meanwhile the woman looked 
straight before her, not seeming to take any notice of 
her surroundings, but with a resigned pathetic ex- 



pression in her eyes and the pose of her body> which 
gave her an aspect of martyrdom. 

Soon, however, the attention of eveiybody was 
directed to the selecticm of the jury. And Ahmed, who 
had never seen a trial of any kind before, watched the 
proceedings with breathless interest. As the names 
were drawn one by one and caUed out, a pause was 
made to enable each side to exercise their privilege of 
challenge. Only twice before the number was com- 
plete did the representative of the prosecution, Staat- 
sanwalt Nelke, pronounce the word ** refused " ; while, 
for the prisoners, Ehrlich made but one objection. 
This was to the name of a certain ship-captain; and 
why he should not desire to have so superior a man on 
the juiy, Ahmed was at a loss to understand. 

Now that the Court was at length constituted the 
minds of all present turned to the issue before it, and to 
the contending lawyers who were to fight out this 
matter to the death. The good people of Mittelbuig 
were not often given an opportunity of witnessing such 
a contest, and though th^ took a pardonable pride in 
their official gladiator they rejoiced in the fact that he 
would that day meet a redoubtable antagonist For 
they by no means desired that he should have a walk- 
over, nor did th^ consider it probable against the 
celebrated advocate, who had come all the way from 
Berlin, and whom they were so anxious to hear. But 
gradually, as the evidence against the prisoners was 
unfolded, any chance of an acquittal seemed to recede 
farther and farther as each fresh person was called. 
Sometimes, when the prosecuting counsel had brought 
his examination to an end, Simonsohn would rise to his 



feet and put a few short questions to the witnesses; but 
oftener he would allow them to leave the stand un- 
questioned. So that in spite of his massive head, thin 
intellectual features, and crisp, curly, black beard 
deep-rooted in his big, bare throat, the spectators 
b^an to lose faith in him. But behind that impene- 
trable mask a subtle mind was busy, working faster 
even than the pen which ran so rapidly over the paper 
before him, and from time to time, after making a 
verbatim note of any important point in the evidence, 
he exchanged a significant glance with Herr EhrUch. 
who sat by his side. 

When the long list of witnesses for the prosecution 
had been gone through the judges decided to adjourn 
the Court at that point. During the interval Ahmed 
was introduced to Simonsohn, and before they had 
talked together for many minutes he discovered what 
a grasp this extraordinary man had on the facts. He 
somewhat surprised the doctor by saying that he only 
wanted him to prove that Marie had always been vol- 
atile and shallow-minded. But Ahmed was still more 
surprised when he said that he did not intend to call 
many other witnesses. 

On the Court being reassembled, Ehrlich imme- 
diately opened the case for the defence, and the first 
witness called was the proprietor of the concert-hall 
at Dresden where the prisoners had appeared; a jovial 
little fellow, with an air of not knowing why on earth 
he had been asked to give evidence. To be sure he 
had known the accused; both of them, for some time; 
and Mnischko, he might say, well. But as to the 
Mariska, he could only say, that, for his part, he had 


found none like her, none at once so popular and so 
proper in her conduct Did her partner Mnischko 
i^pear to object to the marked attentions Herr Gie- 
secke paid her? Yes; the witness thought he did. 
Why P Because he was sullen and ill-tempered during 
Herr Giesecke's visits to the hall. Was that an un- 
usual thing with the musician ? Very unusual; he had 
at other times always found him a charming companion. 
When Ehrlich had finished his examination the prose- 
cuting counsel stood up and asked the concert-hall 
proprietor if it were true that the police kept an eye on 
his establishment. *' Possibly/' he answered; *'they 
come there often enough, and they never seem in a 
great hurry to go." 

^ You mean that the police authorities stay to see if 
they approve of your performances?'' asked the 

**No," said the witness, with a broad grin. **To 
see if they approve of my wine, and they can't do that 
until they've drunk a bottle apiece." This reply pro- 
voked a certam amount of supp.«ssed merriZil. ^d 
under cover of the titter which ran through the court 
Herr Nelke dropped back into his seat, after making a 
dignified gesture of protest. Several other witnesses 
followed, who testified to their knowledge of the pris- 
oners at various times, and who were questioned as to 
their own status by the prosecution; but nothing of any 
great moment was elicited from them by either side. 
When, however. Dr. Ahmed came forward to take his 
place at the witness-stand, the people who had ceased 
to listen to what was being said, and had begun to 
whisper to one another, immediately became silent 



His appearance alone created a feeling of interest which 
his foreign name helped to increase. 

Ehrlich laid considerably more stress on Ahmed's 
princely birth than was agreeable to the yowig man. 
But as this fact evidently impressed the jury more than 
his numerous medical titles and distinctions, he sub- 
mitted to the lawyer's questions about his father with a 
good grace. Having got what he wanted, Ehrlich left 
the witness to tell the Court what he knew of the female 
prisoner in his own words. And after hesitating for a 
few seconds, as though to consider where he should 
start, Ahmed began to give his evidence exactly at the 
point selected by his astute legal adviser. 

He told the Court how he was sent by his chief to see 
a woman in the castle at Zwimau, whose health had 
caused the prison doctor some anxiety. How he found 
that she was a dancer whom he had previously known 
at Leipzig, and in whom he had taken an interest. He 
went on to explain that this was of a scientific rather 
than a personal kind; and that, though his attention 
had been attracted to Marie Schiller in the first place 
by her beauty, it had been further engaged by her 
mental qualities. Not that these were of a high order, 
on the contrary, they were in all probability below the 
average even among the uneducated members of her 
class. He would describe her as undeveloped, a grown- 
up child incapable of sustained thought or consecutive 
action; and what he had noticed in her when at liberty 
had been confirmed by what he had observed during a 
prolonged examination of her in the prison. The 
woman was, in his opinion, deficient in will-power, 
and over-sensitive to outside suggestions. She would, 



therefore, be unable to offer a serious resistance to the 
repeated entreaties of another to perform any act, no 
matter how much opposed to her own inclination. He 
then concluded by reciting the clinical symptoms which 
Marie exhibited that tended to support this view. 
And never once had she looked at him while the Court 
hung breathless on his words; but as he turned to go 
she followed him mechanically with her eyes. He was 
not yet, however, allowed to leave the witness-stand, 
for the prosecuting counsel motioned to him to remain; 
and asked him, in an almost deferential tone, if he 
suggested that the female prisoner had acted under 
some occult influence. To this question Ahmed re- 
plied that it was not his province to suggest what might 
have happened. 

** But do you think it possible P " said Nelke. 

**That depends upon how you define the word 
* occult,'" Ahmed answered. 

** I will put it to you in another way, then, doctor," 
said the Staatsanwalt, with unruffled urbanity of man- 
ner. ** Do you believe that the woman conmiitted this 
crime in the hypnotic state?" 

"No," replied the young man quickly. **I do not 
believe her capable of committing such a crime in any 
condition whatsoever." 

If Staatsanwalt Nelke had hoped to obtain some 
damaging admission from the witness, or to involve 
him in a contradiction, he had only succeeded in giving 
him an opportunity to state his personal conviction in 
Marie's innocence. And seeing that he was not likely 
by further questions to shake Ahmed's evidence, he 
resolved to deal with it later on; he no doubt remem- 



bered that it is always much easier for counsel to make 
an expert appear foolish in a speech than in the wit- 

The evidence on both sides being now complete* the 
president read out the questions, that, after consulta- 
tion with his fdlow-judges. and lengthy and conflicting 
objections on the part of Simonsohn and Nelke, he had 
decided to put to the jury. These had the advantage 
of being exceedingly simple, and ran thus: — 

*' Is the accused Mnischko Lajos proved to have been 
guilty of intentionally and deliberately killing Joseph 
Giesecke ? " 

If this should be answered in the negative, *' Is he 
proved guilty of intentionally killing Joseph Giesecke, 
but without deliberation ? " And if not, *' Is he proved 
guilty of killing Joseph Giesecke, on the spot, being 
enraged at an unprovoked insult offered to him by the 
deceased ? '* 

The first two questions were substantially repeated 
when the charge of abetting Mnischko was framed 
against Marie Schiiler; but the third question in her 
case took an entirely different shape, and one that had 
been most strongly objected to by the prosecution. It 
left the jury to say whether the accused at the time of 
the perpetration of the deed was in a state of uncon- 
sciousness or mental disturbance, that prevented the 
exercise of her free will; or whether she was compelled 
to assist in it, either through irresistible force or through 
a threat, associated with an immediate and unavoid- 
able danger to her life. 

The amended questions hating been again read out, 
Staatsanwalt Nelke bc^an hb exposition of the case 



for the prosecution. With relentless logic he built up 
the evidences of the crime piece by piece, until every 
statement had been fitted into its place. AU this he 
did without any appearance of effort, as if it were a 
thing no one, who had the facts before him, could have 
failed to do. And Ahmed wondered how any man 
could go so coolly to work to deprive another of life. 
For what else was the elderly, grey-whiskered advocate 
doing with his glib, suave speech and expressive, though 
subdued, gestures? It was not his function, he had 
said, to implore the jury to convict the prisoners; 
nevertheless he was tiying hard to make it impossible 
for them to do otherwise. 

Ahmed, who had sat straining forward to catch each 
word all this time, underwent what was positive phys- 
ical torture while Herr Nelke proceeded to comment 
upon the fact that the trunk could be securely fastened 
without the aid of a rope. For what purpose, then, 
asked the prosecuting counsel, pointing tx) the coil on 
the table, had Mnischko provided himself with the 
stout cord that was lying there? When, however, 
after having brought every detail of the murder into 
high relief, he turned his attention to the doctor's own 
evidence, Ahmed leaned back in his seat, with a smile 
of profound indifference. What was the meaning of 
this testimony produced at the eleventh hour, asked 
Herr Nelke, if it did not amount to a plea of irrespon- 
sibility on the part of the female prisoner ? But if the 
defence desired to put forward such a plea, why had 
they not called upon the doctor officially attached to 
the Court to examine this woman ? And even suppos- 
ing the Leipzig surgeon to be right in his opinion, h^ 


688434 ^ 


had only told the jury that the woman was susceptible 
of being influenced. 

"Well,'* he continued, **we are all more or less 
capable of being influenced by others, according to our 
individual tendency towards good or evil; but this does 
not render us unaccountable for our actions. We have 
to pay the penalty for the evil we do, just as we are 
permitted to take the credit for the good. Moreover, 
there is another side to this contention. What if the 
woman influenced the man? It does not seem im- 
possible. In Dresden we hear that he was angry 
because of the deceased's attentions to his paramour, 
while in Zwimau he appears to have r^arded them 
without noticeable disfavour. What had brought 
about this change in his attitude towards the Hamburg 
merchant? Had the woman in the meantime per- 
suaded him to kill and rob her admirer ? " 

This attack direct on Marie Schiller caused all the 
greater sensation on account of its unexpectedness, and 
it was made the more emphatic by the abrupt manner 
in which Herr Nelke resumed his seat. He had spoken 
so calmly and dispassionately that the horrible char- 
acter of his final innuendo did not become at once 
apparent. Then, as through a collective instinct, all 
eyes were concentrated on Marie to see if her face 
betrayed any sign of emotion. None was visible, 
however, unless it were an almost imperceptible droop 
at the comer of the mouth, that no one except Ahmed 
observed. And he only saw it, because he knew the 
muscle which pulled the lip down into that servile 
smile, having often wished that he could insert a long 
circular knife, with a curved cutting edge at its ex- 



tremity, under the skin so as to divide the ccmtrolling 
nerve. Still» if her expression had remained unaltered* 
a marked change had come over Mnischko's pallid 
face; for the sudden rush of blood to his head had 
turned it from a greenish grey to a leaden blue. This 
congestion gave him the staring look of surprise that 
is seen sometimes in the bloated features of a man who 
has been drowned, and Ahmed felt that the juiy must 
recognise it as the aspect of one who has ceased to 

But, like eveiybody else in court, the members of the 
juiy, having glanced involuntarily at the female pris- 
oner, next turned their attrition to her advocate. 
Slowly, after a pause long enough to allow the buzz of 
conversation which had followed the end of Herr 
Nelke's speech to subside, Justizrat Simonsohn rose. 
Speaking in the same placid measured tones which the 
prosecuting counsel had adopted, he began by com- 
phmenting his coUeague on the able way in which he 
had reconstructed the crime. ^'The Staatsanwalt,'* 
he said, *^has, with infinite care, painted a picture in 
lurid colours of everything that took place in the house 
in the Wallgasse on the fatal night. He is to be con- 
gratulated on the judicious use he has made of the 
heterogeneous mass of circumstantial evidence that 
was placed, a little too freely perhaps, at his disposal 
by the police." 

He then examined the evidence for the prosecution 
in detail, and tried to show that nothing was proved 
except that Joseph Giesecke met his death at the hands 
of the male prisoner. He did not seek to deny that 
such was the fact And the accused, Mnischko, would 







confess to having killed the Hamburger; but the cir- 
cumstances that led up to the act, he would show, wete 
entirely different to those the prosecuting counsel had 
depicted. From the beginning Marie had repulsed 
the advances of Giesecke, as much as was possible for 
one who must be polite to every visitor to the place in 
which she worked for her living. On the evening 
when he had driven with her to the comer of the Wall- 
gasse she had indignantly refused to allow him to ac- 
company her home. But after she thought she had 
succeeded in sending him away he had returned, as 
the jury had heard the drosky-driver describe, and 
forced himself into the house. *' Conceive the position 
of this woman — knowing that her lover, who was 
furiously jealous of the man, must come back to find 
him there before long. Doubtless she implored him 
to be gone, warning him of the danger if he remained, 
while he probably disr^arded her entreaties, in the 
idea that he had at worst to deal with a blackmailer." 

" K I possessed the art of the Staatsanwalt," he con- 
tinued, ** I might draw a graphic picture of what fol- 
lowed when the accused entered that room. But I 
prefer to leave the actual details to your imagination. 
Giesecke may well have offered Mnischko money to be 
rid of him, and thus directly provoked the assault that 
proved fatal. The prosecution have sought to make a 
great deal out of the rope, but in a struggle to the death 
any weapon that comes to hand is grasped. And 
nothing would be more natural than that this piece of 
rope should have been lying within reach of Mnischko, 
or that he should have twisted it about his antagonist's 
throat if he got the chance. Who could say exactly 



what happened at such a tune? Could the accused 
himself tell them in what order his actions followed 
one another ? AU he would know for certain was that 
at last the moment came when he realised that hehad 
killed this man, and that his next impulse had been to 
remove the traces of his criminal act Of course, he 
should not have yielded to that impulse. But were 
they to expect in an ignorant stroller the same high 
standard of duty which governs the conduct of educated 
citizens ? And, above all, should we expect the woman, 
who felt herself the unwilling cause of a deed which she 
had been powerless to prevent, to betray the man she 
regarded as her husband? Emphatically no! It 
would have been easy for Marie Schiller to clear her- 
self of all complicity in this crime had she chosen to 
denounce Mnischko at the first opportunity. But she 
did not choose to secure her safety at the expense of 
another; and what has been her reward? Without 
the authority of the man by whose side she is now 
standing, that basest of all excuses in the world's his- 
tory had been made for him — 'the woman tempted 

Little by little the Justizrat had thrown off his calm 
judicial manner, and he closed with a passionate 
appeal to the jury, urging them, if in any doubt, to err 
on the side of mercy. ''It has been sought," he said 
in conclusion, with a wide sweep of the left hand 
towards Herr Nelke, "to represent this woman as 
capable of every infamy. Why? Merely in order to 
harmonise her character with the fantastic theoiy of 
the prosecution, without a scrap of evidence, and in 
the face of trustworthy testimony to the contrary. 



The jury have been invited to disregard the evidenc 
of Dr. Ahmed; but the opinion of an expert in psy- 
chology b at least as valuable as that of a street-porter 
or a housemaid or any other of the intelligent witnesses 
called on the other side. And he has certainly proved 
that the female prisoner is a light-headed, frivolous, 
easily influenced creature, in no way resembling the 
cold, calculating, purposeful Lucretia Borgia indicated 
by the prosecution. I invite you to accept the simplest 
solution of the known data, one that must occur to any 
mall who looks at them with an open mind; and if you 
will shut out of your deliberations everything which is 
not supported by evidence, I am perfectly willing that 
you should dismiss all I have said from your minds." 

After his advocate's brilliant speech the few halting 
sentences Mnischko uttered in his own defence proved 
a painful anticlimax, yet, though his words were not 
fluent, he spoke fervently, as a man must who is plead- 
ing for his life. He described how he had not intended 
to return home at all that night when Herr Giesecke 
died. He had quarrelled with Marie in the morning, 
and had bought the big American trunk so that she 
might pack her things separately from his. For he 
had meant to leave her, before she threw him over 
finally for the Hamburger. That was why he had not 
gone back to the house with her as usual, but had sat 
talking to the proprietor of the concert-room instead. 
Then, after a time, the feeling had come over him that 
he must see her once more before they parted, and he 
had returned to their lodgings. There he had dis- 
covered the stranger embracing Marie, who struggled 



to get free. From that moment he had no longer been 
master of his actions. He could only say that the man 
had offered him mcmey, and that he had killed him; 
had strangled him with his hands at first, and then 
with the rope, which he had picked up in his teeth. 

There was something at once horrible and ccmvincing 
in this last detaU, which caused every one to gaze at 
Mnischko's square jaw and solid yellow teeth, as 
though fascinated by their ugliness, and so they hardly 
heard when his companion, speaking in a low level 
tone, said, ^I am innocent'' Nor was this strange, 
for she put no expression into the words, but repeated 
them mechanically at the prompting of Ehrlich. 

Soon, however, all eyes were fastened on the presi- 
dent, who addressed himself to the task of enlightening 
the jury upon the difference between manslaughter and 
murder. He treated rather of such cases in general 
than of the particular issue they were called upon to 
tiy; and, without expressing any opinion as to the 
validity of the evidence, left them to answer **yes" or 
^no" to the questions he then signed and handed to 
them. On the retirement of the jury the prisoners 
were also led away. It was already dark outside, and 
the electric light had been turned on for some time; 
and every minute the suspense became more unbear- 
able to Ahmed. He wondered how the people who 
still crowded the court could sit there chatting to each 
other upon indifferent matters, utterly forgetful of those 
two lives which hung in the balance. After a weary 
half -hour of waiting, which seemed an eternity to him, 
an official entered from the direction of the juiy-room, 
and he thought that the jury were returning at last. 



But he was quickly undeceived, for the man had only 
come to fetch something from among the exhibits. 
When Simonsohn saw that this was the coil of rope, 
he glanced at Ehrlich and shook his head. 

It was not till a full hour later, during which Ahmed 
had in despair lost all count of time, and had sunk into 
a state of lethargy, that the twelve men solemnly filed 
back into court. In a second there was a dead silence, 
and every one listened intently for the words that were 
about to fall from the foreman. He spoke firmly, in a 
clear, well-modulated voice, saying, *'On my honour 
and conscience, I declare the verdict of the jury to be, 
to the question: 'Is the accused, Mnischko Lajos, 
proved to have been guilty of intentionally and de- 
liberately killing Joseph Giesecke?' — Yes, by more 
than seven votes! To the question: 'Is the accused, 
Marie Schiller, proved to have been guilty of inten- 
tionally and deliberately abetting the accused, Mnischko 
Lajos, in killing Joseph Giesecke?' — Yes, by more 
than seven votes." 

From that moment everything passed before Ahmed's 
eyes as though in a dream. His most distinct memory 
was of the manner in which Mnischko collapsed into 
an inanimate bundle when he heard the verdict, and 
of how, when her turn came, Marie laughed in a strange, 
hollow, mirthless way. But of Simonsohn's conten- 
tions on their behalf he could remember nothing, save 
that the word "environment" occurred somewhere in 
them. And he could not recall that either of the 
condemned exhibited any peculiar emotion when 
their sentence was finaUy pronounced. Mnischko had 
realised what his fate must be, as soon as he had heard 



the answer of the juiy, and, from that moment, had 
looked like a dead man; but Ahmed hoped that Marie 
had remained insensible to what was happening all 
through the trial. The two were led out again as the 
Court rose, and Ahmed was glad that the woman did 
not turn her eyes towards him, for he had dreaded to 
see in them a look of bitter reproach. He knew that 
she would be unreasonable if she blamed him, yet he 
found some difficulty himself in muttering a few words 
of thanks to Simonsohn when the Justizrat came over 
to say good-bye to him. 

^Our one chance was that they would not inspect 
the rope," said the great advocate. " That is why we 
objected to the ship^^aptain being on the jury. It 
contains a knot that could only have come there by 

** Well," he added, with a gesture which was intended 
to console, "you still have your plea of irresponsibility. 
I scarcely touched that myself, because I hoped to do 
better for you. It means life-long imprisonment, you 


He then politely took leave of Ahmed, who allowed 
himself to be conducted to the station by Meissener 
and Ehrlich. The lawyer made every eflfort to reassure 
him by explaining that he intended to present a memo- 
rial on Marie Schiller's behalf to the Minister of Justice; 
and the good-natured little doctor promised that he 
would do all in his power for her while she was under 
his charge. But Ahmed, though grateful to them both, 
was so disheartened that he could only grasp their 
hands in silence. And when he crept up to his third 
floor in the Briiderstrasse a little after midnight, he 



hardly had strength enough even to clhnb the stairs 
one at a time, so completely had hb moral defeat been 
transmuted into physical fatigue. 

Once in his own room» he sank down on the sofa by 
the stove, too tired to sleep. But soon a cold object 
inserted itself into the hand that hung listlessly by his 
side, and he was aware that Fritz had scrambled out of 
his comfortable basket in orde/ to bring him a mute 
token of sympathy. ''Ah, Fritzchen," he said sadly, 
stroking the dog's long head, ^ I saved you, but I cannot 
save your mistress. She will have to die.'' A choking 
sound rose in his throat that compelled him to rub the 
back of his hand across his eyes. Then some one stole 
softly into the room and sat beside him. It was Elsa, 
who had kept the fire burning and who had waited up 
for him, thinking that perhaps he might return. By 
some subtle instinct she knew that the worst had come 
to pass; she knew, also, that no words of hers could 
comfort him. Therefore she leant her head against 
his shoulder and said nothing. She guessed, more- 
over, that his thoughts that night were with the woman 
in the prison at Zwimau. 



Often during his long night vigil at the palace of Wil- 
helmsbrunn Ahmed foimd it difficult to believe that his 
patient was not the imhappy creature whose acquittal 
he had tried in vain to secure, but whom he still hoped 
to save from paying the death penalty. Their features 
were indeed curiously similar, both in colouring and 
expression, however different these two women might 
be in disposition. The likeness of Coimtess Lichten- 
thal to Mariska had not only startled Ahmed out of his 
self-composure when he first recognised it, but had 
brought the dancing girl so vividly before his eyes that 
he felt almost as though he were again going through 
the ordeal of the past three months. Towards day- 
break he contrived to shake off these morbid fancies. 
He had his duty as a doctor to think of, and of one 
thing, at any rate, he meant to make sure. This other 
young life should not slip through his fingers. Such 
was the dominant thought in Ahmed's mind when he 
went to the private apartments of the Grand Duke that 
morning. It being St Stephen's day, his Royal High- 
ness had attended early mass; but as he was still unable 
to take any part in the Christmas festivities, which he 
had ordered should be held as usual, he had since busied 
himself with the transaction of those minor affairs of 
state that occupy so much of a reigning prince's time. 



The young man consequently found him seated at a 
large table in the library with a pile of papers before 
him. After telling him that the Coimtess had made 
such satisfactory progress that she would be permitted 
to see him later in the day, he carefully examined the 
Grand Duke's right arm and renewed the dressing on 
the hand which had been so badly scorched. At the 
same time, he warned him not to attempt to use this 
hand for some days. He was just about to retire, 
when his august patient, who had hitherto scarcely 
spoken half-a-dozen words, suddenly asked him a 
question which brought him to a standstill at the 

" Is my wife in any immediate need of your services. 
Dr. Ahmed ? " 

'"No. We shall disturb Countess Lichtenthal as 
little as possible during the next few hours. I am 
hoping that she will faU into a natural sleep." 

'" Good! Then please take a seat; I have something 
of importance to ask you," said the Grand Duke, 
pointing to a chair on the opposite side of the table. 

Ahmed returned immediately and took the chair 
indicated, with a feeling of uneasiness as to what his 
Royal Highness was about to say. He could imagine 
this to be nothing except the outcome of his having been 
denoimced by von Engelbrecht, through one of the 
Court officials. But he soon saw that he had wronged 
the Hofrat, who had evidently kept his word not to 
make any formal protest, in spite of his having meta- 
phorically washed his hands of the case on the previous 

*^ You are interested in the fate of the woman named 



Schiller, I gather ? " said the Grand Duke, drawing an 
open portfolio towards him with his iminjured hand. 

** Yes/' replied Ahmed, whose breath had been almost 
taken away by the imexpected nature of the question. 

** I have been reading a report of her trial and I came 
across your name. It struck me that I had met it 
before, and I then remembered to have heard Professor 
Weigand ask if Dr. Ahmed had arrived. You are 
described here as Ahmed IGian, a native of northern 
India. I see also that your father is a tributary of the 
Ameer of Afghanistan. You are, therefore, the son 
of a prince!" 

"But not the son of his favourite wife, sir." 

"Ah, I understand! Still you are of royal birth, and 
that should create a natural bond of sympathy between 
us. You will, then, not take it amiss if I am perfectly 
open with you?" 

The young man bowed in token of assent, and, after 
a slight pause, the Grand Duke continued. 

"Your evidence has interested me in the woman, but 
it has failed to convince me that she is not legally re- 

" It failed to convince her judges," said Ahmed, with 
a suspicion of rancour in his tone. 

" That would not weigh with me if I were sure that 
your opinion was right. Come now. Dr. Ahmed, tell 
me exactly what you know about her. There are 
details perhaps which you could not speak of in court." 

" I told the Court everything of importance." 

"As to your conclusions, but I would like to hear 
some of the steps that brought you to them. For in- 
stance, what first made you believe the woman mad ? " 



^ I don't go so far as to say that she is mad in the 
ordinary sense of the word. What I do say is, that she 
acted imder the influence of another, the man Mnischko, 
supposing that she had a share in the crime at all. I 
hold that this woman is incapable of exercising the least 
mental force; and, therefore, that she could not follow 
out a deliberate scheme of any kind, unless her actions 
were controlled by some one who possessed consider- 
able will-power." 

" Ah," said the Grand Duke, " if that were so, my 
course would be clear enough; but how do you know it 
to be the case ? " 

"I have experimented upon her by means of sug- 
gestion myself." 

** Since the murder ? " 

"No; before it, when she was performing with 
Mnischko at a miserable little concert-hall in Leipzig." 

"How long ago?" 

"Over a year! For a time I succeeded in com- 
pletely destroying the obvious influence this fellow 
exerted upon her." 


" Merely by mental suggestion. As long as that was 
maintained Mnischko had no hold over the woman 
whatever. But one night my thoughts were diverted 
from her by an accident to a poor little dog. I then 
saw how quickly the man's influence could reassert 
itself. He had been following us, in an aimless way, 
and the moment my back was turned on Mariska she 
summoned him to her side." 

"Well?" inquired the Grand Duke, with a flicker 
of amusement in his tired eyes. 



'"I did not see the woman again imtil the day I 
visited her in the prison at Zwimau." 

** Where you were sent by Dr. Weigand ? " 

"'Yes/' replied the young man, after a moment's 

''And at the trial you testified in the woman's 
favour," said the Grand Duke, with an expression of 
deep thought in his knitted brows and firmly closed 
lips. ''You were more charitable than most people. 
Dr. Ahmed. But, tell me, how do you accoimt for her 
sudden revulsion of feeling towards this man ? " 

"Simply enough; her emotions have no depth; they 
are the mere reflections of something which tdces place 
outside her, and always tend to follow the line of least 
resistance. She showed this in her behaviour about 
the dog; she was fond of it, up to the point when she 
fancied it had become a source of danger, then fear 
quickly got the better of her affection, and she wanted 
me to leave it to die. So too with me; as long as I 
devoted myself to her I was the only person she cared 
for in the world. Yet directly she felt that my thoughts 
were occupied with something else, and that for the 
moment she stood alone, her mind reverted to the old 
bondage, and she once more surrendered to the in- 
fluence of a man who ill-treated her, but whose slave 
she was ready to become again, because he filled her 

" Well," said the Grand Duke, gravely, " I am glad 
to have heard this from your own lips, my friend. But 
to decide in such a case is a heavy responsibility, the 
heaviest that can ever be laid on the conscience of one 
man. Heaven knows that I would rather shirk it, 



that I am very reluctant to sign the authority which 
my minister has placed before me. And yet how can 
I refuse to sign it? Does what you have told me 
justify such a refusal on my part?" 

Ahmed did not feel that these words were really 
addressed to him, and he therefore made no attempt 
to answer the questions they contained. But as the 
Grand Duke rose and walked over towards one of the 
windows, he also got up from his chair and stood in an 
attitude of watchful attention. For several minutes 
the older man looked out at the dripping trees that cut 
the white landscape with their gaunt black blanches; 
then, as if he had gained some fresh inspiration from 
this cheerless view, he turned his eyes towards the erect 
figure of the doctor, and said — 

"What you have told me proves this woman to be 
without the moral sense. But although she is cer- 
tainly depraved it does not necessarily follow that she 
is insane." 

"All I urge on her behalf is, that her mind is not 
normal, and that she acted under the influence of 
another," said Ahmed. 

"Yes; but that view is not borne out by the facts 
which came to light at the trial. She knew that Gie- 
secke was in the habit of carrying a large sum of money 
on him, and she appears to have enticed him to the 
house where he met his death in order to give her lover 
an opportunity of murdering him." 

" I contend that she had no alternative but to obey 
this man." 

"Still she must have realised what he intended to 
do. It was a cold-blooded, carefully prepared busi- 



ness, and, though I am no jurist, I aee clearly that she 
ought to share the fate of her accomplice," said the 
Grand Duke, going over to the table and taking a 
document from among the papers in the open portfolio. 
'" Therefore, imless you can produce some more cogent 
reason why I should not sign this " 

**You cannot sign it to-day, your Royal Highness." 

**Why not?" 

*' Because that dressing should on no account be 
disturbed," said Ahmed, pointing to the bandage on 
the Grand Duke's right hand. 

** Well, to-morrow, or the next day, then ? " 

"Perhaps! It will entirely depend upon whether 
the inflammation becomes acute, and to prevent that 
your arm must have complete rest." 

"Very good; there is no immediate hurry. The 
execution does not take place for two or three weeks," 
and the Grand Duke shut up the portfolio, intimating, 
with a dignified bend of the head, that the audience 
was over. 

" I am glad of that, sir," said the doctor, who paid 
as little regard to Court etiquette as he did to that of 
his own profession, and who had throughout spoken 
to the Grand Duke with the freedom which can only 
exist between those of more or less equal rank, though 
with the proper respect which a young man should 
show to his senior. "For I would suggest," he went 
on, "that you made use of what I cannot help con- 
sidering a providential delay to satisfy yourself as to 
the woman's state of mind." 

"You mean," said the Grand Duke, quickly, looking 
hard at the stranger who thus ventured, as it were, to 



prescribe his line of action in this matter, ''that I 
should see her myself?" 

"No, sir," answered Ahmed, with an accent of 
anxiety which betrayed the apprehension of some 
unexpected danger. "There is no need that your 
Royal Highness should put yourself to such trouble: 
it would be quite sufficient if you instructed a qualified 
psychologist to visit the prisoner and make a report 
upon her mental condition. You would thus get a 
trustworthy and perfectly unbiassed opinion." 

" Should I ? " the Grand Duke said, half to himself. 
"Trustworthy, no doubt; but perfectly unbiassed, I 
question that. No, my friend, these specialists in 
mental disorders are ready to certify you or me or any 
one else insane, at a moment's notice. If I am to 
adopt your suggestion I must choose an adviser upon 
whom I can rely." 

" This is not a case in which the opinion of a layman, 
even if he were a legal expert, would be of any 

" I do not propose to visit Zwimau myself, and there- 
fore I shall not send a layman, Dr. Ahmed. But if I 
ask one of the fiirst medical authorities in Europe to go 
there will that content you ? Have you any objection 
to oflFer to the name of Geheimrat Weigand ? " 

"None whatever, of course. If my illustrious chief 
can find the time his verdict must be conclusive." 
Ahmed said this in a confident tone, but his voice 
lacked the note of enthusiasm; and, from the falling 
of his lower jaw, a keener observer than the Grand 
Duke would have gathered that, for some unaccount- 
able cause, he was disappointed at the selection. Still, 




however strong his reasons may have been for prefer- 
ring the judgment of an ordinary mental expert to that 
of the great surgeon in this particular case, he was 
careful not to show them openly. And it was soon 
arranged that, if the Grand Duke's adjutant could 
persuade Weigand to see Marie Schiller, Dr. Ahmed 
should be spared for a few hours in order that he 
might meet his distinguished colleague at Zwimau, 
and bring back the Professor's confidential report upon 
her mental condition. 

After he had paid another visit to his patient, and 
had told her attendant not on any account to rouse 
her out of the light slumber in which he found her, 
Ahmed went to his own room, took off his coat, and 
flung himself upon the bed in which he had not yet 
had a chance of sleeping. But notwithstanding his 
long watch in the sick-room, he rose in less than two 
hours' time, and, having dipped his head in a basin of 
cold water, was soon wide awake again. He then 
comfortably settled himself on the sofa by the roimd 
table which stood near the window, and at once b^an 
to write a letter that had evidently been framed already. 

'^ My dear Elsa," it ran, '' this is the first moment I 
have had to myself since I arrived yesterday morning 
before daybreak at Wilhelmsbrunn. I am afraid I 
shall be away for some time, as my patient, the Countess 
Lichtenthal, has burned herself very badly; and if we 
cannot do something for her she will only recover to 
find herself hideous. You will admit that such a fate 
would be worse than death to a pretty woman, and 
applaud me for trying to save her from it Of course 



this will be difficult, and not a thing I can manage here. 
But I could remove her in a week or so, if the Grand 
Duke, her husband, consents to my operating. I wish 
I had you here to do the nursing, for I am far from 
satisfied with the women the Court doctor has engaged, 
and would rather have you single-handed. They are 
convent-taught, both of them, and cannot even turn the 
patient in bed properly, but fancy they know all about 
nursing, and look hurt if one tells them anything. I 
hope to get rid of these sisters of ignorance soon, as I 
am glad to say I have already got rid of their sponsor, 
the Hofrat Engelbrecht. You would have laughed 
had you heard this ridiculous person informing the 
Grand Duke last night that he did not propose to come 
any more unless his Royal Highness particularly de- 
sired him to do so. The old Prince, who is not without 
a vein of dry humour, replied, that he could not think 
of troubling such a busy man to drive all that way 
again for nothing. I was not sorry to see the last of 
him, as he must have been a hindrance to me in my 
treatment of the case. 

** What my exact method will be, when the time 
comes for operation, I cannot yet say, but I know of a 
source from which I could take the material required 
to repair the extensive loss of skin tissue that the Coun- 
tess has sustained. The manner in which this is done 
will depend on whether that unfortunate woman at 
Zwimau is to be executed. The Grand Duke has 
asked Professor Weigand to decide her fate; and though 
the chief does not hold the most advanced views with 
regard to criminal responsibility, I feel sure that he 
cannot bring himself to pronounce sentence of death 



on a fellow-creature. I would not be so sure if the 
decision were in your hands, Elsa, for I remember how 
prejudiced you were against Marie Schiiler before she 
was unplicated in the murder. You are an ideal nurae, 
and working with you has spoiled me. I have no 
patience with these clumsy-fingered women here in 
consequence. Still, with all your cleverness, you are 
just as quick as any other of your sex to take an un- 
reasoning dislike to a woman you have never seen. I 
think some one must have told you that I used once 
to admire Marie's big blue eyes and flaxen hair. But, 
if I did, it was before you taught me that a red halo, 
like that of your favourite Madonna at Dresden, was 
the most perfect setting to a pale face. And, when I 
discovered all that we could be to one another, I soon 
forgot this singing girl. What interested me specially 
in her was her extraordinary sensitiveness to the exer- 
cise of will-power, which was so great that I came to 
the conlusion that she could not be held directly re- 
sponsible for her actions, her mind being the mere 
reflex of another's. 

^ I have given much study to this subject; and it was 
only natural that I should attempt to overcome the 
control which Mnischko had acquired over her. It 
would take too long to describe how I did this, or how 
she again fell under that man's sinister influence. But 
you know to what purpose he used his power, and thus 
why, when this woman was put on trial for her life, I 
could not agree with you that I should have remained 
silent. If I had done so, I should have felt myself a 
murderer. I am aware that your desire was to protect 
my professional reputation. However, you forgot one 



important fact; people do not employ a surgeon be- 
cause he is respectable, but because he b skilful. And 
when this dreadful thing had been done» when I had 
confessed to having wasted my nights in that terrible 
place where Mariska sung, no one seemed the least 
distressed. Why, even that most dignified of men, the 
Grand Duke, did not lift so much as an eyebrow, 
although I told him a great deal more than I judged 
it necessary to tell in court. My sole regret is that I 
did no good, that my evidence was not regarded as 
sufficient to prove that the woman had no independent 
will of her own. And even now I am by no means 
certain that she will escape the doom which hangs 
over her. But I shall not give up all hope of saving 
her from it yet awhile.*' 

Ahmed brought his letter to an end with a few brief 
messages of a£Pection and a request that the recipient 
should give Fritzchen a pat on his behalf. Then, 
having folded the three closely written sheets of note- 
paper together, he placed them in an envelope which 
he had already addressed to Fraulein Hartvig, care of 
Frau Wittwe Mankel, Leipzig, Briiderstrasse, 14, III. 

No sooner had the Professor returned to his rooms, 
on the evening of Christmas day, than, in spite of the 
fatigues of the journey and an almost sleepless night, 
he set to work to finbh his paper on the new anaesthetic. 
But while enumerating its many advantages, he did 
not omit to state that it had not always been perfectly 
constant in its action. This, he pointed out, would no 
doubt be found due to some impurity in the extract 



they had used; and, when properly standardised, he 
felt confident the solution would give uniform results. 
It had already saved an immense amoimt of suffering 
to the animals they had operated upon for injuries of a 
character which could not otherwise have been dealt 
with; notably in the case of the dachshimd Fritz, whose 
hind leg was so crushed that amputation seemed the 
only possible course. 

However, when he left off writing, Weigand reflected 
that as yet he had no experience of how this stuff would 
act upon a human being. He still regarded the dis- 
closure of its existence as premature, but had been 
forced into making it by the unauthorised and erroneous 
descriptions of the drug which had already appeared in 
the newspapers. Nevertheless he felt certain that the 
time had come when it might be used in the case of one 
who was a free agent, or for whom relatives decided 
with a full knowledge of the risk. And for this reason 
he had not opposed Ahmed's suggestion, though he 
wished that it might have been possible to make a more 
exhaustive test of the drug's action beforehand. 

Next day the Professor entered the large lecture hall 
at the Physiological Institute, punctually as ever, on 
the stroke of three. A look round the crowded benches 
that ascended in semicircles almost to the top of the 
room would have had a cheering effect upon him at any 
other time. But on that day he was unable entirely 
to banish from his thoughts the picture of a beautiful 
woman, whose tear-stained features were contracted 
with pain, and whose bright, blue eyes seemed to follow 
him with a pathetic look of appeal. The feeling of 
distress which this memory occasioned him was inten- 



sified by an accident that occurred during the course 
of hb lecture. He had attempted to show the cause 
of a certain functional disturbance connected with the 
process of breathing, and had employed a live rabbit 
for the purpose; but for once he had proved unsuc- 
cessful in a public demonstration. The animal's 
larynx had collapsed under pressure, and after a brief 
flutter of the heart it had died. 

The failure of this experiment had caused an out- 
break of laughter amongst some of the less serious 
students, on hearing which the Professor had turned 
his leonine head in their direction, and said, with an 
accent of scornful pity, ^ I can see nothing in the death 
of a rabbit to provoke a smile." Still, much as he 
despised these stupid young men, he could not alto- 
gether acquit himself of blame. Had the force applied 
from his apparatus been too great, or were the breathing 
organs of the little creature abnormally weak? He 
r^retted the absence of Ahmed, to whom he had grown 
used to look for the careful selection and preparation 
of his subjects. And, as he left the hall when his 
lecture was over, the Professor seriously asked himself 
whether it were possible that he no longer retained the 
same firm hold over his mind. Had his thoughts 
strayed, for an instant, back to that bedroom in the 
palace ? It almost appeared that this might have been 
the case. And what if it were ? All men are subject 
to such momentary wanderings of the mind. All but 
one class of men, surgeons; they must have perfect con- 
trol over every fibre of the brain. And, so long as they 
shall operate, they must have absolute confidence in 
themselves. Perhaps, then, the day was coming when 



Curtius von Weigand would have to give up practical 
work. Something would of course remain to him in 
the way of consultation, but the glory of his life would 
be gone. 

With this discomforting reflection he had nearly 
reached the Augustus Platz when an officer in undress 
uniform suddenly accosted him. *' Have I the honour 
of addressing Privy Coimcillor von Weigand?** he 
asked, with a military salute. 

**That is my name/' said the Professor, directing a 
puzzled look at the fresh-coloured, blunt features; 
blond, upturned moustache, and attentive, spectacled 
eyes of his questioner. 

*' Captain von Bredowshausen, Fliigeladjutant to his 
Royal Highness the Grand Duke of Thliringen," said 
the soldier, after bringing his heels together with a 
click and making a courtier-like bow. 

**Very great pleasure," murmured Weigand. **I 
ought to have known you at once. You were with his 
Royal Highness at the railway-station. I hope you 
are not the bearer of bad news." 

'^No; I was to tell you that Countess Lichtenthal is 
progressing favourably." 

''Ah, that's good! It was very kind of the Grand 
Duke to let me know." 

''Serenissimus entrusted me with a further message. 
He would have sent a letter, but, as you know, he 
is not yet able to write, and he judged the matter too 
private to be tel^raphed. I have already been to 
your house " 

** K you will be so good as to return there with me. 
Captain von Bredowshausen," said the Professor, **it 



is only a few steps, and I shall then be able to listen to 
you without fear of interruption." He conducted the 
soldier first through a wide carriage-entrance into a 
stone-paved courtyard, and then through an inner 
doorway; then on up the broad staircase that led to 
his own floor and into his reception-room. As soon 
as his guest was seated, Weigand invited him to b^in, 
by saying, **Now, I am all attention." 

^^His Royal Highness," said Bredowshausen, taking 
a cigar from the box which the Professor had pushed 
towards him, '" charged me to explain first, that he felt 
he was asking a great favour, especially after your 
kindness in coming to Wilhelmsbrunn." 

** Well ? " said the Professor, with a nod of encour- 

^'He wishes you to see a woman who is under sen- 
tence of death at Zwimau." 

" Marie Schiiler ? " The woman on whose behalf my 
assistant gave evidence." 

"Yes; you will remember the case, of course. She 
was implicated with a male accomplice in the murder 
of a Hamburg merchant. Her advocate raised the 
question of her sanity, but she was nevertheless con- 
demned, and she will be executed, unless you can 
report that she is not responsible for her actions." 

"But why doesn't the Grand Duke appeal to a 
recognised authority in psychology?" said Weigand, 
spreading out his hands with a gesture of astonish- 

" I don't know," replied the soldier, pulling hard at 
his cigar in an heroic effort to suppress a smile at the 
great man's simplicity. " Perhaps he has little faith in 



mental specialists, or perhaps he relies much on your 
judgment, Herr Geheimrat" 

^ That is flattering on the part of his Royal Highness; 
still, we doctors are always unwilling to travel out of 
our prc^r sphere." 

^ I fancy you would find it rather difficult to do that, 
Herr Professor,'* said von Bredowshausen. '* Besides, 
as you said just now, your colleague. Dr. Ahmed, has 
already pronounced upon the woman's state of mind." 

" Yes; but he had known something of her before — 
that is why he was called upon to give evidence, you 


^'That is also why Serenissimus cannot accept his 
view as final, unless you support it." 

"' He has discussed the matter with my young friend, 

** I believe so! And if agreeable to your Excellency, 
Dr. Ahmed would meet you in Zwimau to-morrow, at 
any time you appoint." 

Weigand picked up the state railway-guide, which 
seemed to open of itself at the page he had looked at 
two days before; then, running his finger down the long 
columns of names, he suddenly brought it to a halt, 
and said — 

**I will be there at midday." 



A FEW minutes before noon next day Ahmed was already 
waiting on the arrival-platform of the railway-station 
at Zwimau. Being used to a far colder winter than 
that of Central Europe, he had not yet found any need 
to put on his heavy sheepskin overcoat. His appear- 
ance thus formed a striking contrast to that of Weigand, 
who descended from the Leipzig train, a little later, 
wrapped from head to foot in furs. The great sur- 
geon turned up the big beaver collar of his coat and 
pressed his sealskin cap well down over his ears, before 
getting into the sledge that Ahmed had engaged for 
them. But his ruddy cheeks showed how near to the 
surface the warm blood still coursed, as he said, settling 
himself in his seat, "It is colder than ever, my son." 
The young man made no reply to this remark; indeed, 
as the wind blew hard in their faces and the Professor's 
ears were covered, no conversation was possible during 
the drive up to the castle. 

They passed in silence through the narrow streets of 
the old-world town, which had been little changed by 
the enormous economic progress of recent years. 
Zwimau still wore the aspect of a fortified burg in the 
Middle Ages, and, as the sim sparkled upon the irr^u- 
lar, snow-covered roofs and the leaden-framed window- 
panes, thrown into high-relief by the dark carved 



oak-beams that supported the overhanging facades, 
Weigand was delighted with the succession of pictures 
of a feudal city in midwinter which presented themselves 
to his all-observant ^es. Gradually the sledge drew 
clear of the town, and passed b^ieath the frowning 
walls of the fortress, portions of which were coeval with 
the Roman occupation. 

The doctors were allowed to enter unchallenged at 
the main gate, and were driven through the great outer 
court into a smaller inner court. The sledge stopped 
before an iron-clamped door in a gloomy wing, that 
was obviously more modem than its surroundings, 
though the character of the original structure had been 
carefully preserved. 

Directly they had alighted the sentry on guard pulled 
a chain on the side of tiie doorway, which caused a big 
bell to reverberate through the entire building. 

After some little delay the door was thrown open, and 
a bearded janitor in a dark uniform appeared in the 
entrance. Whereupon Ahmed handed him a letter 
with an official seal, bidding him to have it delivered, 
at once, to the Governor of the prison. 

"Meal time," the man answered gruffly; **the Frei- 
herr is not to be disturbed on any account." Then, 
after looking at them inquiringly, he added, "Unless 
you are invited to the midday table ? " 

"We have not that honour," said Ahmed; "but we 
bring a letter from his Royal Highness " 

" It is from the Grand Duke himself ? " 


"Even so," replied the man, shaking his head, "I 
may not disturb him. Those are his orders. 'Lud- 



wig,' he says to me, * I will look at nothing when I am 
at meals ; not even if it is a telegram from the Emperor/ " 

^Do you mean to say, then, that Privy Councillor 
von Weigand must be kept waiting until your master 
has finished his food ? " 

**That would not be necessary," answered Ludwig, 
with increased respect, "if the Privy Councillor will 
consent to see our chief warder." And, upon a nod 
of agreement from Weigand, he offered to go himself 
in search of this less inaccessible personage. After 
admitting the two strangers into the dark entrance-hall 
and closing the massive door behind them, he invited 
them to be seated before a blazing fire of coke in a' 
little room off it, that served as a porter's lodge. He 
then clattered away into the recesses of the prison. 

While the Professor was slowly thawing himself, he 
told Ahmed that he regarded this visit to Zwimau as a 
mere formality, and had only undertaken it in order to 
add weight to the opinion the young man had already 

" I am sure to take the same view that you did, since 
we both see things as they are and without prejudg- 
ment," he said, looking with undisguised approval at 
his favourite pupil. 

" If that be so in my case, sir," said Ahmed, " it is 
because you have shown me how to do it." But there 
was a lack of responsiveness in his tone, as though his 
mind was not altogether free from doubt. 

" I was glad to see you at the station this morning," 
continued Weigand, " for I knew then that your patient 
at Wilhelmsbrunn was getting on well." 

"Countess Lichtenthal was sleeping quietly when I 



kft, and I think I may safely say that the improvement 
of yesterday is maintained." 

** Grood» good! You'd hardly believe it, Ahmed, but 
that lady's face has haunted me. Ever since I saw her 
I have been thinking what she must have been like 
before the accident No ordinary type of beauty, and 
well worth preserving for its own sake, even if it were 
not necessary to save her good looks in order to make 
the remainder of her life endurable." 

The Professor was musing thus, half to himself, 
when the bearded Ludwig returned with a short, thick- 
set, middle-aged man. 

^Herr Holtzmann," he said, introducmg his com- 
panion to the two doctors. 

The chief warder, who was not by any means devoid 
of intelligence, saw at once with what class of visitor 
he had to deal, and put on as gracious a manner as his 
own exalted official position would allow. 

^ Might I ask," said he, '" to what fortunate circum- 
stance we owe the pleasure of the Privy Councillor's 

^ I am here to see a woman who is awaiting execu- 
tion," replied Weigand. 

" It is permitted to no one to see a condemned pris- 
oner, except relations and, of course, the priest, if his 
presence is desired, and the doctor." 

** I am a doctor, and so is my friend." 

"Yes; but I mean our own doctor." 

** Herr Holtzmann," said the Professor, ** I have been 
requested to see this woman by his Royal Highness; 
that letter" — he here pointed to the sealed envelope 
which the big porter still held in his hand — ** is my 





authority, and, as my time is precious, I must beg you 
to have it delivered to the Governor without further 
delay, if you are unable to act on your own respon- 

The chief warder looked, first at the letter, and then 
at Weigand, who was rapidly growing impatient 
Then, after a moment's pause, he said, in a tone that 
still betrayed certain misgivings, "Very well, I will 
prepare the woman for your reception." 

" That is exactly what I do not want you to do," said 
Weigand. "I wish to see Marie Schiller without her 
being told anything about the purpose of my visit; that 
is why I asked the Grand Duke not to announce my 
coming beforehand." 

"But would it not be better, perhaps, if she were 
warned that some one had come to see her?" said 

"No, my friend," replied the Professor, "I do not 
even want her to know that I have come to see her at 
all. Herr Holtzmann will conduct me to her cell, and 
present me to the person in charge of the prisoner, as if 
I were some one who was making an official tour of 
inspection; but, not on any account, as a doctor." 

The chief warder, who, when unable to give orders 
to others, loved to receive them himself, bowed in 
acknowledgment of the commands that the Professor 
had thus directly laid upon him. 

"Moreover, as the woman knows you, Ahmed, I 
think it will be best that I should first see her alone; I 
shall, if necessary, ask you to join me later." 

There could be no doubt this time that the young 
man was diasppointed at the turn events had taken, so 



much so indeed that, though he said nothing, he showed 
it plainly enough by the way in which he shrugged his 
shoulders. Something characteristic in his manner 
must have. attracted the attention of Holtzmann, who 
had already moved towards the door, for he turned 
back and said — 

^^ Excuse me. Dr. Ahmed, for not recognising you. 
It was you, of course, who visited the prisoner before 
the trial. You were sent here by Rechtsanwalt Ehrlich. 
But since you saw her, the poor creature has grown 
much more silent, almost dumb, in fact; no one can 
now get an intelligent word out of her, not even the 
women who look after her." 

Having delivered himself of this piece of news, he 
respectfully beckoned the Professor to follow him down 
a long stone corridor, to a spiral iron staircase in the 
centre of the building. And as Weigand marched 
after his sturdy leader, the deep furrows of his brow 
were drawn together into a curiously thoughtful frown, 
as though some problem had recently presented itself 
to his mind that was capable of no satisfactory solution. 

His pupil's face would certainly have furnished the 
answer, had not Ahmed been trained from earliest 
youth to control the expression of his emotions. It 
had not been safe for any one in the house of the Ameer 
to show displeasure at the will of the chief; not even 
for his own son. So that, great as the annoyance was 
which Ahmed felt at the inopportune announcement of 
the change that had taken place in Mariska after his 
second visit, he kept it to himself, and, like a wise man, 
turned the time of enforced inaction to the best possible 



^ Is Dr. Meissener still here P " he asked the porter. 
Ludwig replied that the prison doctor had been unable 
to get leave of absence, and would have to stay at 
Zwimau until after the execution. He also informed 
him that the doctor was anxious to get away, not having 
had a holiday for over a year and being worn out by 
the monotony of his work. 

^ It is a hard life for us all," said the man, shaking 
his head, '*from the Governor downwards." 

^'I can understand that," said Ahmed. ''You must 
have a holiday sometimes or you would go out of your 
minds. It is a good rule of your Governor's to leave 
the prison behind him at meal times. Still I almost 
think you ought to have that letter placed in hb hands 
directly he rises from table." 

"Yes," the porter answered, **you are right! As it 
is, he may be angry. But what is one to do? One 
must obey orders ! However, I will see that he gets it 
the moment he has finished his midday meal." 

With these words, Ludwig hurried out of the room 
and quickly turned down a passage at right angles to 
the main corridor, his keys jangling at his side as he 
strode away over the flagstones. 

As soon as Ahmed was alone he sank into the por- 
ter's chair, with his l^s crossed and his head inclined 
slightly forward, in the attitude of one who was about 
to snatch a few moments' sleep. But he nevertheless 
remained wide awake, and b^an rapidly to concentrate 
his attention upon the lapis-lazuli signet-ring on the 
little finger of his left hand, which rested on his knee. 
After he had focussed his eyes upon the blue stone 
for a little time the clear-cut Arabic letters engraved 



on it became blurred; and before long the young 
man's limbs grew rigid. He had> indeed, thrown him- 
self into that state of nervous tension in which, it ap- 
pears, certain highly developed individuals can project 
the energy of their minds outside their bodies, and 
thus, at some distance, exert a controlling influence 
upon the actions of others, over whose wills they have 
on previous occasions obtained command. 

Meanwhile the Professor had followed Herr Holtz- 
mann up the iron stairs to the next floor, down a long 
gallery, and through two heavy doors into a separate 
portion of the prison. Holtzmann informed him that 
this was the new infirmary block, which had only 
recently been completed, and had hitherto been un- 
occupied, except by the prison doctor. The female 
prisoner had been quartered here, he explained, partly 
because the Governor was interested in her case — the 
Herr Geheimrat would guess the reason when he saw 
her — and partly because the condemned cells were so 
dark that those confined there had been known to go 
out of their minds. 

*' The man Mnischko is in one of them," he added, 
pointing downwards, ^but he does not seem to care 
what happens to him now, so long as he has enough to 
eat and drink. He is resigned to his fate, like most 
criminals after trial, when they have no hope of pardon." 

They had nearly reached the end of the corridor 
when Holtzmann halted and called the Professor's 
attention to a low archway in the wall facing them. 

** There," he said, ** it is through that gate they will 
have to pass when they start on their long journey. It 
will be some way for him to come down from there, 



and I dare say we shall have to give him a helping 
hand; but it won't be far for her. She is here." 

He proceeded to tap sharply with his keys on the 
iron-studded door to their right, before which they 
were now standing. After a few moments a small 
panel behind an iron grill in the door was drawn back 
and a woman's face appeared in the opening. 

" I have brought you a visitor, Frau Schmidt," said 
the chief warder, unlocking the door. 

**Well," answered the woman, in a thin, querulous 
voice, ** I am sure he is welcome. It is a treat to see a 
human face after being mewed up with a dumb animal 
for hours." 

** May I open, then ? Is your charge presentable ? " 

** Oh yes; she never n^lects her personal appearance. 
You can come in." 

As Weigand entered, a stout, elderly woman with 
grizzled hair, stepping aside, dropped him a curtsey, 
and he then became aware of another woman at the 
farther end of the room. She was seated by a tall 
earthenware stove, in a crouching position. Her 
figure was bathed in a flood of light, which poured 
down through a high barred window, making the 
strands of yellow hair that escaped from the blue 
cotton handkerchief she had tied about her head look 
like spun gold. She did not seem to have noticed the 
entrance of the two men, and continued to move her 
fingers slowly in the air as though laboriously picking 
out a melody on some stringed instrument. Nor did 
the Professor do anything on his part to attract her 
attention, but ostensibly devoted himself to Frau 
Schmidt. He b^an by asking her a series of questions, 



in the manner of one who was studying the conditions 
of prison life» rather than in that of a doctor. Then» 
without any apparent purpose^ he inquired if her 
charge slept well. 

"Oh yes," replied Frau Schmidt, "when I have 
been on night duty, she has always slept sound 

"That's good," said he, still careful not to appear 
more interested in the subject than politeness de- 
manded. "She gives very little trouble, then; and 
she's always as neat and tidy as she b now, eh ? " 

"Yes, indeed. Marie takes a pride in herself; she 
may be wanting, but she knows the value of her good 

Weigand, who had intentionally turned his back to 
the prisoner, looked quickly round and caught her eyes 
fixed full upon him. She had listened, then; and there 
was an expression in her face which indicated the 
presence of a certain amount of intelligence; a low 
order, perhaps, but not that blank detachment from 
external affairs she had at first exhibited. A hot flush 
came to the woman's cheek when she felt herself sur- 
prised, and, for a moment, her mobile mouth was 
twisted into a curious smile that flickered also about 
the comers of her blue eyes. It was that half -plaintive, 
half-defiant look with which an attractive woman will 
sometimes greet a stranger. But as Weigand steadily 
returned her glance, Marie dropped her eyes and 
folded her hands upon her lap in an attitude of appeal. 
And, after he had gazed at her for a little while, he 
gradually perceived the wonderful grace and the superb 
contour of her features. He was astonished, too, by 



the singular resemblance they bore to those of the face 
he had been trying to picture in its normal aspect. 

** Yes," he thought, " that is how Countess Lichten- 
thal would look when her features were in repose. She 
would carry her head a trifle better, perhaps, and she 
could not possibly have shaped her lips into that 
servile curve; but, in form and colouring, her face 
would be just such another masterpiece of nature as 

Weigand, whose profound knowledge of anatomy had 
given him a sense of beauty almost as great as that of 
the artist, was, for the moment, lost in admiration of 
this supremely beautiful creature. 

*^ Could it be possible that behind so fair a face there 
lurked a sordid soul? Yes," he reflected, "such 
anomalies have been known, and their existence is the 
great difficulty in the establishment of any true system 
of physiognomy." Soon, however, remembering that 
he was not inunediately concerned with this general 
speculation, but with the more particular question as 
to whether the woman's brain was disordered, he 
began to revolve in his mind the means by which he 
might directly put this matter to the test. First it was 
necessary that he should see her eyes again. In order 
to do this at his ease he walked over to her, and placing 
his hand gently upon her head turned it towards the 

" Do you suffer any pain here ? " he said, and, as she 
did not answer his question, he added in that soothing 
tone all good doctors possess, " any sensation, I mean, 
in the top of your head ? " 

The woman still remained silent Then Weigand,, 



beginning to suspect that she actually did not hear 
him, bent down and looked hard into her half -closed 

^Strange," he muttered to himself, ^veiy strange; a 
few moments ago the woman was wide awake, and 
now she is almost asleep." 

**She has just shut her eyes!" exclaimed Frau 
Schmidt, who had been eagerly watching. 

** Yes, and I doubt if we could make her open them," 
said the Professor. ""Have you seen her in this state 
before? Come here and look at her carefully!" 

** No, sir," replied the attendant, drawing closer, " I 
don't remember ever to have seen her sit quite so still 
as that, though she has often moved very little for an 
hour at a time." 

The Professor grasped the upper part of Marie 
Schiller's arm with one hand and her wrist with the 
other. He then tried to bend it, but finding that it 
resisted a considerable amount of pressure, he allowed 
it to drop again by her side in a lifeless fashion. 

** Is there anything wrong, sir ? " said Frau Schmidt, 
with an anxious side-glance in the direction of Holtz- 
mann, who had stood motionless in the doorway all the 
while. "You don't think she has gone oflF?" 

"Fainted, eh? No, my good Frau Schmidt," re- 
plied Weigand. "The woman is in a cataleptic con- 
dition, but I do not imagine it will last long, and there 
is no danger unless she were roughly or suddenly 
disturbed. You must let her come to of her own 
accord, that is all!" 

Having given these instructions, the Professor made 
a sign to Holtzmann that he was ready to go, where- 



upon the attentive warder immediately milocked the 
door and ushered him out of the room. 

"Now," said Weigand, looking at his watch, "my 
time is short, and I would like to see this fellow 
Mnischko. It is no part of my errand; but it may 
throw some light on what at present seems dark." 

Once Holtzmann had made up his slow-moving 
mind that the Professor was a personage whose com- 
mands were to be obeyed, he was prepared to do any- 
thing required of him with alacrity. So that before 
long he had led Weigand down a dingy winding stone 
stairway below the level of the ground, from the foot 
of which he conducted him through one dim-lit pas- 
sage after another until they had reached a low iron 
door. Holtzmann again struck the door three times 
with a key, and after a short time it was opened from 
within by a well-set-up young man in the same sombre 
uniform as that worn by the chief warder. But even 
after the Professor had entered, it took him several 
seconds before he could make out objects distinctly. 
He then perceived that he was standing in a huge stone 
chamber, lighted by one long narrow opening in the 
vaulted roof. A thin ray of sunshine which penetrated 
through this fell upon a rough wooden table near the 
opposite wall, and rendered two men who were seated 
on stools at each side of it just visible to the eye that 
had grown accustomed to the prevailing gloom. One 
of these was a uniformed attendant, and the other a 
middle-aged man with a shock of rough iron-grey hair 
and a white stubble of beard. Mnischko had been 
playing a game of skat with his two guardians, and his 
attention was deeply engrossed in the greasy cards he 



held in his knotted, grimy fingers. Putting the hand 
down on the table with a grunt of annoyance at the 
interruption, he turned to see who the intruder was, 
and when he caught sight of a tall dark figure in the 
doorway, he made an impatient gesture as though to 
wave it away. 

"No good your coming here, friend!** he cried out. 
'*No priest or parson or preacher for me. Let the 
dead bury the dead. There is a text for you ! Twist 
it into some meaning, if you can, and with that, 

He said all this quickly, and in a bantering tone, as 
though the matter were of no moment; but he never- 
theless contrived to express profound contempt for the 
supposed office of his visitor. 

Weigand, who had watched the man's face with 
intense curiosity, and who had listened to his words 
with an even greater interest, answered quietly, 

"'My business is with the living; I am a physician." 

'* Pardon," said Mnischko, rising to his feet, and 
bowing with both hands folded on his breast. " If the 
barin is a doctor I make him my compliment But I 
have no need of his services. I am in excellent health 
for a man about to die; and I do not even pretend to 
be mad. It's not worth the trouble!" 

This last statement caused the Professor to lift his 
bushy eyebrows with a movement of surprise. 

"" Permit me to ask one question," he said, pointing 
to the cards upon the table. **How long have you 
been engaged upon this game, my friend ? " 

" How long would it be ? " said Mnischko, turning to 
the warder nearest to him. ** An hour ? " 



** Not so long," replied the warder. 

**Over half-an-hour?" asked Weigand. 

** Nearer three-quarters," he answered, after glancing 
at his watch. 

" It was a beer-skat," explained Mnischko; "we play 
for three glasses when we have any money " 

" Might I be allowed ? " said the Professor, address- 
ing this request for permission to Holtzmann. 

** Certainly, the Herr Geheimrat can give anjiliing 
in .reason," said the chief warder. " He may always 
buy cigars, and occasionally a glass of beer. He does 
not often get the chance though. The fellow hasn't 
so many admirers as the lady upstairs. She has flowers, 
and boxes of sweets, and offers of marriage sent to her 
every day." 

This was obviously news to Mnischko, who testified 
to the disgust with which it filled him by spitting upon 
the ground, while a dark scowl spread itself over his 
face; but his expression soon changed to one of abso- 
lute contentment when Weigand placed a twenty-mark 
piece on the table before him. The man was so over- 
whelmed by such unexpected generosity that he could 
hardly stanmier forth his thanks. And the Professor 
left him gazing intently at the gold coin, as though he 
almost believed that it would vanish if he stretched out 
his hand to touch it. 

"A curious type," Weigand thought, as he slowly 
ascended from these subterranean abodes, '" prominent 
frontal ridge, small eyes, and powerful jaw; a throw- 
back, perhaps, to one of our early ancestors. Hardy 
in the pursuit of pleasure, and indifferent to pain; not 
incapable of gratitude, but more prone to revenge. 



A less responsible creature, in many ways, than the 
woman who shared his crime." 

The Professor was met at the top of the steps by 
Baron von Baltzan, a handsome, well-preserved man 
of fifty, who appeared to be in a tremendous state of 
excitement, and who had evidently been in search of 

**My dear Privy Councillor," he said, coming for- 
ward with both hands outstretched, and graspmg those 
of the Professor with much warmth. ** Forgive me for 
not having welcomed you before. But this fellow " — 
indicating the big porter with a jerk of his head — ** in- 
terpreted something I had said in joke as an order, and 
delayed to inform me of your Excellency's arrival. It 
would, of course, have given me the very greatest pleas- 
ure to put myself at your disposal. I regret exceedingly 
that " 

" Believe me, it b quite unnecessary," said Weigand, 
as soon as he could decently interrupt the effusive 
apologies of the Governor. **Your deputy here has 
shown me all that I wished to see, thank you." 

*' I am glad to hear it; but if there is anything I could 
do myself, pray conmiand me." 

*' There is nothing, unless you would be so good as to 
ask your people to fetch me a drosky." 

**You shall have my own carriage. Oh, I insist 
upon it!" said the Governor. "Where is my orderly? 
Ludwig, bustle yourself and call the man; tell him to 
hurry. Do you hear?" 

Baron von Baltzan was so anxious to do everything 
in his power for the Professor's comfort, and looked so 
genuinely distressed when he declined to take any 



refreshment, that Weigand could not bring himself to 
hurt the Governor's feelings by persisting in his refusal. 
Having beckoned to Ahmed, who had been chatting 
with a jovial little man in the entrance-hall, he allowed 
Von Baltzan to lead them through a side passage into 
his private apartments, which were furnished in the 
most luxurious style. There, while the Governor's 
soldier-servant offered them caviar sandwiches and 
various liqueurs, Ahmed introduced his diminutive 
companion, who was no other than the prison doctor, 
to the Professor. 

Meissener at once expressed the utmost disappoint- 
ment that he, too, had not had the privilege of placing 
himself at the service of his distinguished colleague. 

'"I have had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Ahmed 
before," he said, *' and, for his sake also, I would like 
to have done the honours. I am afraid he found him- 
self shamefully neglected though. Imagine, Herr Ge- 
heimrat, I discovered him all alone by the fire in the 
porter's room there. But he must have been thinking 
deeply over some matter, for I had considerable diffi- 
cult in attracting his attention. If his eyes had been 
shut I should have fancied the coke had sent him to 
sleep. It has that effect sometimes, no doubt." 

^No doubt!" said the Professor, glancing at Ahmed. 



Again the Professor and his pupil drove in silence 
through the quaint old town, and on under a narrow 
arch in the city wall to the big railway-station, which 
triumph of modem ugliness the good people of Zwimau 
have wisely kept outside their gates. Even when they 
had reached the comparative shelter of the great glass 
roof Weigand did not seem in a mood to talk. He 
marched up and down the departure-platform for 
several minutes, deep in thought. Then suddenly 
turning to Ahmed, who had walked by his side without 
attempting to utter a word, he said, ** I will accompany 
you to Wilhelmsbrunn. It will serve two purposes, 
for I shall then be able to give the Grand Duke my 
opinion on this woman, and I can have another look 
at your patient." 

Anxious as Ahmed was to know what judgment the 
Professor had arrived at in the case of Marie Schiller, 
he forbore to ask him any direct question on the point. 
But this was not so much due to the restrictive influence 
of medical etiquette as to the fact that he augured ill 
for the woman from Weigand's reticence. He therefore 
made no comment upon the Professor's decision, be- 
yond vaguely expressing the pleasure it gave him; and, 
when the local train for Mittelburg had been backed 
into the station, they both silently mounted into a com- 



partment to which the railway officials attached an 
iron label, proclaiming it to be reserved, and for some 
time after the train had started neither of them spoke. 
At last Weigand broke the silence by calling his com- 
panion's attention to the view of the now distant town 
that a curve in the line had just brought in sight 

'^Look here, my friend!" he said, pointing to the 
cluster of red roofs that followed the steep hillside up 
towards the dark, frowning walls of the fortress, ^ that 
is a picture of what our Grerman land looked like in the 
days when force was the sole argument. Observe the 
way in which these fat chickens nestled under the wing 
of the lean hawk who poised himself aloft there ready 
to strike at any less powerful foe. 

" Doubtless the burghers paid dearly for such aristo- 
cratic patronage; still they had reason to feel secure 
under the protection of that great gaunt citadel. For, 
though it has been attacked and its outworks battered 
to pieces times out of number, its gates have but once 
opened to an enemy; and then only through treachery." 

**Ah!" exclaimed the young man, gazing back on 
the dark irregular mass of buildings which, broken by 
numerous conical-topped towers, stood out against the 
skyline above Zwimau, in the deep red glow of the 
setting sun. *' In our country that is the first way we 
try to take a fort." 

"And if it fails?" 

**We wait till the enemy have ceased to watch for 
our coming." 

**Not an ineflfective method either," said Weigand, 
with a thoughtful smile, and again relapsed into silence. 

Neither of them said anjiliing more during the rest 



of the short railway joumqr, nor while thqr were driving 
from the station at Mittelburg up to Wilhdmsbrunn. 
On reaching the palace thejr at once hastened to the 
Countess Lichtenthal's apartments. Thqr had not 
long entered the room where their patient was lying 
before they discovered that an unexpected change had 
taken place in her condition. Ahmed had left her in 
the morning in a restful state, and he was therefore 
surprised to notice several unfavourable symptoms. 
The Professor also, who had formed a very favourable 
opinion from the rq>ort given him by his pupil, ex- 
perienced the same feeling of disappointment From 
the extent of her injuries he had expected to find the 
patient feverish, but he had certainly hoped not to find 
her delirious. Yet the Countess was moving from side 
to side, muttering to herself continuously; and though 
no distinct idea could be gathered of what was in her 
mind, her words conveyed the general notion of some 
prevailing horror. Unable to ascertain the cause of 
her trouble from the woman's broken and inconsecu- 
tive sentences, the Professor, after having had an ice- 
pack applied to her head, addressed himself to the 
nurse in order to find out what had produced this 

Sister Anna protested that she knew of nothing 
which could have excited the Countess, but on being 
closely questioned as to everything that had occurred 
during the doctor's absence, she admitted that madame 
had experienced great concern when the wounds about 
her neck had been re-dressed. 

" Why were the bandages removed ? " asked Ahmed, 
interrupting her. ** Did they become loose ? " 



** No," replied the nurse, ** but Sister Elizabeth and I 
thought they ought to be renewed; we imagined that 
you had forgotten." 

^Forgotten! they should not have been touched for 
another twelve hours! There," he added, appealing to 
Weigand, '"what can one do with such idiots?" and 
then turning to the nurse again, *'Well, what hap- 

'" Madame was quite herself, and wished to see how 
she appeared," said the nurse, in a deprecating tone. 
'" She would not be satisfied when we told her that she 
looked just the same as she always did, but ordered us 
to give her a mirror." 

**And you obeyed her?" 

**What else could I do?" replied the woman, ex- 
tending her arms with a gesture of helplessness. 

"What I told you to do, you stupid creature," re- 
torted Ahmed, fiercely, his voice almost stifled with 

The woman shrunk back and folded her hands on 
her breast, gazing at the infuriated doctor with an 
expression of helplessness not unmixed with reproach. 

"Softly, my friend," said the Professor, putting his 
hand upon Ahmed's shoulder and drawing him aside, 
"we shall gain nothing by losing our temper; we have 
to consider carefully what steps we must take. In the 
first place, our patient will need watching night and 
day with the utmost attention." 

"How is that to be done by these fools?" asked 
Ahmed, still boiling with indignation. 

"We must not hurt people's feelings, my son, even 
if they are not very wise. After all, most of us make 



mistakes sometimes," said Weigand, gravely; ''but," 
he added, turning to the outraged sister of mercy, ^I 
think this lady will see for herself that, if she is unable 
to carry out our instructions, it is impossible for us to 
continue to work with her." The woman mutely 
assented to this proposition, with a submissive nod; 
it being the one strong point of her training that she 
had been taught not to remonstrate against the wishes 
of those in authority, nor to make use of many words. 

^We must get assistance from Leipzig, Ahmed," 
said Weigand. 

** Exactly what I wanted to do from the first," an- 
swered the young man. 

"Yes; no doubt it would have been better. Then, 
as I said before, we have to consider the feelings of 
others. Remember, we have offended Engelbrecht 
already^ But I trust this good lady will be more rea- 
sonable. She will understand the necessity we are 
under, of having nurses who are accustomed to our 

*' I know of one with whom it is a pleasure to work," 
said Ahmed, again ignoring the susceptibilities of the 
other who was present. 

"Well," said Weigand, good-humouredly, "we must 
see if we can't persuade her to take chaige of the 

"Oh, she'll think it an honour to work for you, sir." 

" ReaUy ? What's her name ? " 

" Hartvig. Nurse Elsa of the Weigand Clmic." 

"I think I know her then. But Frilulein Hartvig 
will require an assistant." 

"No! I can get on with her alone. I shall do night 



duly myself until the patient takes a turn for the 

•*Very good!'* 

** Then I may send for her ? ** 

^Yes, the moment I have explained matters to the 
Grand Duke. I will ask if I may see him at once." 

Then, after assuring the sister, who had begun to 
sob when she saw her dismissal was inevitable, that he 
would, as far as possible, absolve her from blame, the 
Professor left the room. 

On entering the private apartments Weigand ad- 
dressed himself to a member of the household, who 
wore a coat the front of which was completely covered 
with gold lace arabesques, while embroidered on each 
of its tails was a golden key. This gorgeous person- 
age, whom Weigand had not seen before, but whose 
uniform proclaimed to be the chamberlain on duly, 
smiled when he heard that the somewhat shabby- 
looking Professor wished to speak immediately to his 
Royal Highness, and declared, with an air of polite 
weariness, that it would be quite impossible. But in 
the meantime Weigand had been recognised by one of 
the equerries, who whispered his name to the chamber- 
lain, whereon that listless gentleman's attitude suddenly 
became alert, and, with far less formality than official 
etiquette demanded, he hurried away to inform his 
Royal Highness of the great surgeon's arrival. A few 
moments later the Grand Duke came rapidly down 
the room towards Weigand, and greeted him with 
the utmost cordiality. He then led him through the 
intervening antechambers, in which several people were 
still waiting for an audience, into his private cabinet. 



When the double doors had been closed behind them, 
the Professor gently broke the news of the relapse in 
Countess Lichtenthal's condition to her husband. 
And never in all his long years of practice had he ex- 
perienced more difficulty in softening the blow, and 
endeavouring to inspire fresh hope. 

At first the Grand Duke had been inclined to rage 
against the nurses, as the agents who had brought 
about this disaster; but soon he turned his rage upon 
himself for his folly in having let the doctor leave the 
palace at such a time. 

^Had your assistant remained here this could not 
have happened," he cried. " What does the life of any 
other woman matter to me, compared with that of the 
one woman I love ? '* 

The Professor made no attempt to check this out- 
biu*st; but, when the Grand Duke had grown calmer, 
gradually drew him on to consider how the recurrence 
of any similar error of judgment could be prevented. 
His Royal Highness readily agreed with Weigand that 
the convent-trained sisters must be got rid of. A mes- 
senger was immediately despatched to Dr. Ahmed, 
instructing him to telegraph to FrSulein Hartvig, and, 
on her arrival, to send the nursing sisters about their 
business, and warn them in the meanwhile not to 
intrude themselves upon the notice of the Grand Duke. 

His Royal Highness then, with a supreme effort of 
self-control, for the moment banished the misfortune 
that had befallen his wife from his thoughts. It was 
unlike him ever to n^lect the wants of a guest, and he 
was horrified, on inquiiy, to hear that Dr. Weigand 
had eaten nothing except a few sandwiches since his 



early breakfast at home. Without further delay he 
ordered his people to have dinner served at once in the 
next room, which command was obeyed with the more 
alacrily as the food had been prepared for some time, 
and the cooks had already informed the major-domo 
that if it were not placed on the table before long it 
would be spoiled. 

When the chamberlain had ushered the Grand Duke 
to his seat and had been graciously dismissed, along 
with the other gentlemen-in-waiting, his Royal High- 
ness bade the Professor take the place on his right hand. 
But Weigand could not help seeing that his host's eyes 
turned mechanically towards the vacant chair on the 
opposite side of the small oval table, and only left it 
when they rested for a while on him, or wandered away 
to a picture at the other end of the room. 

Taking advantage of the silence which fell upon 
them from time to time during the course of their meal, 
Weigand ventured to glance at this picture himself. 
It was the portrait of a flaxen-haired lady in a low- 
waisted, black velvet gown with a deep, starched ruff. 
She held a crucifix in one hand, while with the other 
she drew back her veil, disclosing a perfect profile and 
exquisitely modelled features, the pallor of which was 
accentuated by her sombre drapery and relieved by a 
rich blot of crimson in the delicate curve of her lips. 
But, life-like as the artist had made this portrait of a 
singularly attractive woman, its effect upon the Pro- 
fessor was greater than that which the mere beauty of 
any picture could of itself produce. At first he could 
scarcely credit his eyes. Surely that was the face of 
the woman he had seen in the prison at Zwimau that 



afternoon; the same yellow hair, touched with gold 
where the light fell on it, the same straight line of nose 
and forehead, the same full sensuous mouth; and yet, 
no, not quite the same, less animal, more informed 
with intellect; in fact, the face of a better woman. 
Yes, in spite of the wonderful likeness to Marie Schiller, 
he could see now that it was the face which had haunted 
him for the last few days: there were the tear-swollen 
and pain-distorted features of the Countess set in the 
smiling contentment of conscious beauty. Again the 
fear of what might follow on the knowledge which had 
been revealed to her that day possessed Weigand's 
mind. Could he hope that this lady's tottering reason 
would recover its balance? If they coud only have 
kept her in ignorance of the mischief the flames had 
worked upon her throat, until they had been able to 
avert its most terrible consequences, all might have 
been well. But once she was aware of the danger 
that threatened her, it would never be absent from her 
thoughts for a moment. 

^You are looking at my wife's portrait," said the 
Grand Duke, who had observed the direction of his 

**Yes," replied the Professor; **I was lost in ad- 

^ I do not wonder at that; it is a very fine bit of paint- 
ing, and wonderfully like — what she was," the Grand 
Duke said, with a break in his voice. ^'That was 
exactly how she appeared in the first act of 'Maria 
Stuart,'" he continued, gazing tenderly at the picture; 
''she looked too young, of course, for that unhappy 
queen whoi the hour of her execution was so near at 



hand. But we thought it pardonable to suppose that 
time had dealt gently with her during all those bitter 
years of captivity. And I remember when she sat for 
that portrait the painter said that Amalia Paulli was 
not one of those who would grow old soon." A shade 
passed over his handsome, careworn face as he recalled 
these words, and his eyes became moist, so that he 
could no longer see the picture of her he loved. 

Meanwhile the last of many dbhes having been pre- 
sented, the major-domo directed his subordinates to 
place the coffee and liqueurs on the table, together with 
cigars and a lighted taper. He then marshalled them 
quietly from the room, and retired himself, leaving the 
two solitary old men alone. For a considerable time 
they remained silent, each busy with his own thoughts, 
the Professor being careful not to look at his com- 
panion, who was slowly endeavouring to get the better 
of his emotion. When the Grand Duke had at last 
succeeded in doing this, he leant forward and pushed 
the open cigar-box nearer to Weigand, who accepted 
his tacit invitation with a polite gesture. After they 
had been smoking for some while, the Grand Duke 
again turned to him and said, '"As to the inmiediate 
object of your visit, Herr Geheimrat: I owe the pleasure 
of seeing you here to a journey you were so kind as to 
undertake at my request to-day." 

'"I wished to make my report in person," said the 

** Far better always, when possible. I am extremely 
anxious to hear what you think about this woman; 
because I should like to save her from such an awful 
fate," said the Grand Duke, looking up once more 



at the picture of the queen whose head fell on the 

^I do not see how you can well do that/' replied 
Weigand, slowly shaking his head. 

^ You believe that she is accountable for her actions ? ** 

** Quite!" 

** Notwithstanding all that Dr. Ahmed says about her 
having acted under the influence of another?'' 

^Mere surmise! I saw no evidence of a predom- 
mating wUl-power in the man." 

*'Oh, you saw this Mnischko, thai?" 

^ Yes, I found him a brute; but not, perhaps, without 
redeeming qualities. Certainly he has courage enough 
to face death without flinching." 

**Oh," said the Grand Duke, who, like all brave 
men, greatly admired courage in others. ^He im- 
pressed you more favourably than the woman?" 

**I regret to say he did," replied the Professor. 
** He seemed less cunning than his accomplice and less 
cowardly. As to their relative guilt, of course I know 
nothing; but of this I am convinced: the woman's 
madness is simply a pretence." 

*' You think she has put it all on since the crime ? " 

'"At the suggestion of some one. Her advocate, 
perhaps, but some one who saw the futility of any other 
line of defence. Oh, she doesn't do it badly from a 
lay point of view, but she has none of the constant and 
easily recognised symptoms of mania; otherwise I 
should not pronounce so unhesitating an opinion. 
Still it is several years now since I was in the habit of 
seeing such cases; and, perhaps, it would be more 
satisfactory if you consulted a professed psychologist." 



'"No," said the Grand Duke, ^I shall take no other 
opinion but yours, Herr Greheimrat That was what 
I told this young man, and he made no protest at the 
time. Besides, it is scarcely wonderful that he should 
have adopted an opposite view with regard to this 
woman's sanity; he told me how he had admired her 
when he saw her on the stage. I cannot blame him 
for that; but it makes me suspect the soundness of his 
judgment where she is concerned. By-the-bye, he 
also told me that he had been able to will her to do 
things — make her obey him, donH you know, in some 
mysterious way." 

^Did he say that?'' asked Weigand, in a tone of 

^ Something of the sort," the Grand Duke answered, 
** but I did not attach much importance to it Those 
things are mostly make believe." 

** Not always, though," said the Professor, gravely. 

As Weigand was anxious to pay another visit to his 
patient before he left the palace, he shortly afterwards 
took leave of the Grand Duke. He did not, however, 
at once enter the apartments of the Countess, but 
walked on past them down the long corridor, with a 
slow, measured step, his shoulders bent and his hands 
clasped behind his back. He was pondering over the 
events of the day, unable to decide off-hand whether 
what had occurred would oblige him to withdraw from 
Ahmed that complete and unhesitating confidence he 
had hitherto reposed in him. For many reasons he 
was reluctant to come to such a conclusion. Ahmed 
had been recommended to his care by a colleague at 
St. Petersbuig whom he esteemed highly. And he 



had always found the young man absolutely trust- 
worthy; he had known hun intunately for some years, 
had travelled with him in a dangerous country, where 
he had proved a faithful and invaluable ally. Besides, 
there was between them that closest of all bonds which 
links the teacher and the taught. To this native of a 
far-off land Curtius von Weigand had conununicated 
the result of his profound researches into the secret 
springs of life. In a manner, he had made Ahmed his 
natural successor, a pupil favoured above all others, 
and one who in turn must hand on the torch of knowl- 
edge, when his master had grown too feeble to hold it 
longer aloft. What, then, if for once that pupil had 
endeavoured to hoodwink him ? 

Were there not circumstances which accounted for 
this mystification, if indeed they did not justify it? 
The temptation to save this wretched woman from 
paying the penalty of her crime might well have proved 
irresistible to the man who had confessed that he 
admired her. Of course, the Professor had seen 
through the attempted deception, since had he not 
years ago earned the reputation of being one of the 
keenest observers in Europe without making his proofs; 
and his perceptive powers had gained rather than lost 
in acuteness with the passage of time. He had there- 
fore, without the least difficulty, discovered the very 
simple artifice by means of which his pupil had striven 
to throw sand in the eyes of justice. 

To b^in with, it was Ahmed, and no other, who had 
prompted the woman to assume an attitude of indiffer- 
ence at her trial. And it was Ahmed who had thrown 
her into a trance that day in order that she might not 



be surprised into some rational utterance, or the ex- 
pression of a reasoning interest He must have been 
desperate to use such an expedient, and would without 
doubt have left the woman to her own devices had she 
been under observation by any ordinary doctor. The 
Professor could not, therefore, help feeling flattered at 
the implied compliment, and he could not bring him- 
self to be really angry with Ahmed for practising a 
trick on him which had proved so transparent. More- 
over, when all was said, its net result had been to show 
indirectly that Marie Schiller was not out of her mind, 
since persons who are really mad are seldom susceptible 
to suggestion; for if they were it would be possible to 
cure various mental disorders by this means, which is 
hardly ever the case. Still the fact that his pupil was 
capable of such an underhand scheme would have 
considerably shaken the Professor's confidence, if what 
he had seen in the sick-room later had not tended to 
re-establish it. There Ahmed had exhibited the true 
zeal of the physician; his heat even had been rather to 
his credit than otherwise, and it had sprung from an 
impulse which no man could simulate. He might be 
relied on then to do everjihing in his power for any one 
entrusted to his care, never relaxing his vigilance until 
all the resources of science had been exhausted. And 
if his conduct had fallen below the standard of pro- 
fessional honour that day, it had not been through any 
want of sjmo^pathy with suffering humanity, but through 
a too ardent desire to save a fellow-creature from an 
ignominious death. 

For these reasons Weigand determined to say nothing 
to his assistant about the active part he had taken in 



helping Marie Schiller to maintain her pose of insanity. 
It was not a matter he could speak of, wiless he meant 
to censure the young man severely; and if he continued 
to leave him in charge at Wilhelmsbnmn such a course 
would be extremely detrimental to the interests of the 

Being no longer in a state of hesitation, the next time 
he reached his patient's door he entered the room. He 
was relieved to find Countess Lichtenthal much quieter 
than when he had seen her last. She had ceased to 
turn restlessly from side to side, and was lying almost 
still, moving her hands at intervals in a graceful man- 
ner, whUst she repeated a string of fragments taken at 
random from the various pieces in which she had played, 
her gestures, however, bearing no sort of relation to 
her words. 

Ahmed, who had been seated alone in the semi- 
darkened room, had risen on Weigand's entrance and 
had turned back a screen by the bedside so that the 
light of a lamp behind it might faU upon the patient 
For some minutes the Professor listened attentively to 
the disconnected sentences that the Countess continued 
to pour forth without taking the faintest notice of his 
presence. He then motioned to his assistant to replace 
the screen, and withdrew to the fireplace, at the farther 
end of the room. When this had been done, and the 
water-proof sheet under the ice-packing readjusted, 
Ahmed joined him there. 

** I see," said Weigand, ** that you have already dis- 
pensed with the services of the nurses." 

"Yes," replied Ahmed, who kept his eyes fixed on 
the bed opposite, white paying the strictest attention to 



every word the Professor uttered. **I can watch the 
case better, now that I have not got to watch them also; 
besides, I was afraid that the sight of them might have 
re-acted on the patient from an association of ideas. 

** Possibly it might," said Weigand, **and of course 
your task will be to banish this notion from her 

"Yes; I rely on Nurse Elsa to help me in that" 

** When do you expect Fraulein Hartvig ? " 

** About four o'clock to-morrow morning. She will 
come by the same train we did the other night" 

** You have managed to have the express stopped at 
Sachsenroda? Admirable! But you are sure you 
wiD not require a second nurse ? " 

" Quite, thank you. I can get any extra assistance 
I want from the ordinary attendants of the Countess, 
who are most anxious to do all that is possible for their 

"Ah, I don't wonder at that, Ahmed; she must have 
been a fascinating woman, and from everything I hear 
much beloved. I have seen a portrait of Countess 
Lichtenthal to-night, and I was greatly impressed by 
her nobility of outlook. Yet, at the same time, I no- 
ticed a curious resemblance in her features to those of 
some one else, some one you know." 

" Indeed," said the young man, with a look of sur- 
prise. "There are so few of your countrywomen 
known to me, and I cannot say that I have seen a like- 
ness in our patient to any of them." 

" Not to the woman I visited at Zwimau ? ** 

Ahmed again looked surprised, but, after a moment's 
pause, appearing to recognise a likeness between the 



two women for the first time, he said, ^Yes, perhaps 
there is some vague resemblance." 

^Much more than that," the Professor replied; ^an 
absolute identity of form and colour in every feature; 
it is only their expression that differs, and even that 
would be similar but for a furtive smile at the comer 
of Marie Schiller's mouth." 

^Ah!" exclaimed Ahmed, with a sigh of genuine 
distress, ** what a terrible difference in their lives!" 

''Yes, indeed!'* said Weigand, in a tone of com- 
passion. *' There was that one tell-tale trace of weak- 
ness in the woman's character from the b^inning, and 
all the rest may have followed as a matter of course. 
I am ready to believe that this wretched creature has 
been, in a way, the victim of circumstances; but I am 
unable to accept your view, Ahmed, that she is not to 
be held responsible." 

** I am sorry," said Ahmed, with an accent of resig- 

** So am I, my son. I regret the existence of a law 
that avenges one murder by another. Nevertheless, I 
could not allow my abhorrence of bloodshed to preju- 
dice me in this woman's favour. And in my opinion she 
is sane, except in the sense that all criminals are mad." 

Knowing that these words destroyed any hope which 
he might have still entertained that his ill^itimate 
efforts on the prisoner's behalf had proved successful, 
Weigand endeavoured to console him for their failure 
with a warm pressure of the hand, accompanied by a 
friendly glance which was meant to assure the young 
man that he had not forfeited the personal r^ard of 
his chief. 



Ahmed was in despair at the failure of his new attempt 
to save Mariska's life. As he watched by the bedside 
of Countess Lichtenthal through the still hours of the 
morning, it required a conscious effort on his part to 
remember that he was not looking at the condemned 
woman. The more familiar he became with Countess 
Lichtenthal's features the more like they appeared to 
those of Marie. No wonder, then, that the Professor 
had observed it directly he saw her portrait; and prob- 
ably he would have done so even without that aid, 
since nothing seemed ever to escape his notice. This 
was a further reason why Ahmed had not wished that 
Weigand should visit Marie; for he had wanted, if 
possible, to keep the knowledge of her likeness to the 
Countess to himself. It was something he would far 
rather no one else had known; and his inunediate fear 
was that Weigand might have mentioned the likeness 
to the Grand Duke. Whether this had been the case 
or not, he would find out at the earliest opportunity, 
since if it were already known to the husband it must 
be made use of while its influence was fresh in his mind. 
For, from the moment when he first saw the Countess, 
a scheme had unconsciously been forming itself in 
Ahmed's brain to be adopted only wh^i all others had 
proved unsuccessful. It was on the principle of an 
exchange, the life of one woman against the beauty of 



another. But what had happened within the last 
twenty-four hours had not only brought this scheme 
into the r^ion of active thought, but driven Ahmed to 
consider the means by which it could eventuaUy be 
efiPected. For this purpose he had been reading, all 
night, in a comer screened off from the bed. 

The work that he had been thus absorbed in, when 
not attending to his patient, was a treatise on plastic 
surgery which had recently been sent to him by the 
writer, Dr. Osip Petrakoff, Professor of Morphology 
at the University of St. Petersburg. It contained an 
account of several new experiments, conceived on more 
daring lines than any previously carried out, even at 
Leipzig. Many of them, however, had failed, owing 
to the impossibility of keeping the subjects sufficiently 
long in a state of complete anaesthesia. And in the 
letter which had accompanied the book Dr. Petrakoff 
recommended his former pupil to see whether he could 
obtain more successful results with the wonderful drug 
he was reported to have discovered. Ahmed had 
found this letter, which was of considerable length, 
between two of the pages, and, though it did not bear 
upon the operation he had in view, had allowed it to 
divert him from the treatise itself. For the third or 
fourth time he read Dr. Petrakoff's statement of how, 
during the past year, positive results had been obtained 
in a series of attempts to locate certain moral functions 
of the brain. This having always been Ahmed's 
favourite subject of research, his eyes glistened and his 
fingers shook with nervous excitement as he once more 
glanced rapidly through his Russian colleague's letter, 
the contents of which he already knew almost by heart 



** There are unfortunately some things," wrote the 
St. Petersburg professor, ** which it is not at present 
advisable to publish, and among these must be reck- 
oned an operation that a friend of mine lately made 
upon the brain of a human being in the neighbourhood 
of this city. To explain why is unimportant; but, in 
order to save a man's life, it was found necessary to 
remove those portions of his brain in which memory 
is seated. You will remember that we have often dis- 
cussed the possibility of such an operation, and I am 
aware that you have yourself conducted experiments 
of an analogous character on anthropoid apes with 
apparent success. But this is the first instance that 
has come under my notice in which it has been per- 
formed upon a member of our own species. The 
diagrams which I have copied overleaf from those 
supplied to me by my friend will show you exactly how 
the thing was done; and, though I dare not predict 
quite so successful an issue to every similar operation, 
I can assure you that in this particular case the desired 
result was achieved without the infliction of any fur- 
ther injury upon the subject." 

For a long while the young man gazed at two delicate 
pen-and-ink sketches that occupied a whole side of the 
thin vellum-like paper, becoming each moment more 
and more engrossed in the train of ideas they called up. 
''Some one has been released from the Schlusselburg 
by administrative order," he thought; **some one who 
knew a state secret. It was not convenient to the 
authorities that he should die there, and stiU less con- 
venient that he should carry his knowledge into the 
outside world." Ahmed put the neatly written sheets 



of manuscript back into the book with a sigh, which 
was eloquent of r^ret. He fully realised that the 
opportunity for carrying out any such conclusive in- 
vestigations could occur only in Russia, and he was 
unable to speculate on the identity of Dr. PetrakoflTs 
mysterious friend without feeling an acute pang of 
envy. But this unworthy emotion soon disappeared 
when he had again turned his attention to the St 
Petersburg professor's published work. It was the 
somewhat novel method of repairing tissues described 
in this volume which had originally inspired Ahmed 
to make the proposal that had so horrified Dr. Engel- 
brecht And he was even more certain now that it 
was the only hopeful method of treating the Countess 
Lichtenthal's case. One point, of course, remained 
stiU unsolved, as to what tiie action of the new anaes- 
thetic would be on a human being. That must be 
satisfactorily settled before anything else was done; 
but Ahmed smiled when he reflected how easy 
it was to answer this question. And what matter if 
the drug proved unsafe, or even fatal? There, at 
least, would be an end of doubt! Having decided 
that its discoverer was to be the first person to test 
its properties, his mind grew calmer, and the hope 
which Weigand had banished gradually bc^an to 

Towards daybreak a slender figure in a dark dress 
glided in at the door so gently that another would not 
have heard it open; but the young man turned his head 
in that direction at once, and rising quickly from his 
seat, went to meet Elsa, with both hands outstretched. 
When she placed her hands in his he felt that they ha4 



grown numb, and, remembering how cold it was out- 
side, led her over to the fire. Then as she thawed her 
frozen fingers in front of the blazing logs piled high on 
the wide open hearth, he looked at her in silence. Yet 
even if it had been possible for him to speak he could 
have told her nothing more. Elsa knew he was pleiased 
to see her; not merely because she could be a useful 
assistant, but because he liked to have her near him. 
She had come straight up in her txaveUing cloak, and 
as he took it from her he saw that it was coated with a 
thin glaze of ice. The cold must have been intense he 
knew. StiU he was glad that Elsa had come in spite 
of it; and as she again bent forward to catch the warmth 
of the friendly flames, she seemed to him more than 
ever before the embodiment of all that a man's true 
companion should be. Immediately after warming 
herself, Elsa had gone over to the bed and leant across 
it to smooth out the clothes which a restless movement 
of the patient had just disturbed. She then stood for 
some minutes looking intently at the Countess, who 
slowly turned her head from one side to the other in 
her feverish troubled sleep. However, at last Ahmed 
beckoned to her, and, by walking towards the door, 
signified that it was high time she retired to rest herself. 
And although she told him in a whisper that she had 
slept enough already in the train, he insisted that she 
must at least lie down until he sent for her. There- 
fore, as submission to the doctor's will becomes second 
nature to a good nurse, she obeyed. 

"What a pity!" she said softly, glancing back at the 
patient. " But what a triumph for you, Ahmed, if you 
can prevent the worst!" 



When, a few hours later, Elsa relieved the young 
man from his long watch, he was almost dropping with 
fatigue, and no sooner had he flung off the things he 
had been wearing since the morning of the previous 
day, than he sank into a deep, dreamless slumber. 
Nor did he wake from this until the winter sun was 
already low on the horizon. Nevertheless he did not 
waste much time either in dressing or at breakfast, for 
half-an-hour afterwards he looked in at the sick-room, 
which the nurse had made meanwhile a picture of neat- 
ness. Then, with a smile of gratitude to Elsa, he 
went on his way to see the Grand Duke, and being 
informed that his Royal Highness had gone for a walk 
in the park, at once hurried off to find him there. He 
had little difficulty in this, as the footprints of the 
Grand Duke and his adjutant, accompanied by those 
of a large dog, were plainly visible on the crisp, newly 
fallen snow outside. Ahmed had not gone far when 
he came in sight of the two men standing by the edge 
of a plantation on some rising ground that conmianded 
a view of the lake. When he got nearer he saw that 
the younger of them, who was in an undress cavalry 
uniform, stared wistfully at the fast moving skaters on 
the level ice, while the elder, in a grey-green hunter's 
jacket, tight breeches, and high boots, bent his eyes 
upon the ground, oblivious of the crowd before him. 
But, regardless of etiquette, Ahmed walked straight 
towards him, through it should have been apparent to 
any one that the Grand Duke was lost in meditation. 
As he did so, his quick ear caught the dull thuds of an 
animal's feet approaching rapidly from one side, and 
a moment later he saw a big, slate-coloured boarhound, 



Sigurdy clear the comer of the plantation. With per- 
fect confidence that the recognition would soon become 
mutual, Ahmed stood still while it rushed headlong at 
him. The thick bristles on its neck were raised, and 
it was uttering a low angry growl as it advanced, which 
must have been heard by his Royal Highness, for he 
looked up at once, but before he had recovered his 
presence of mind sufficiently to call the dog by name 
it had leapt upon the defenceless doctor. However, 
to the Grand Duke's infinite relief, though the boar- 
hound had placed its massive paws on his shoulders and 
brought its open jaws within an inch of his throat, it 
made no attempt to seize him. In less than a second 
it was on all fours once more, rubbing its great 
head against his 1^ and allowing him to grasp the 
stout leather thong attached to its brass-studded 
collar. It was evident that the equerry had relaxed 
his hold of this lead in his excitement at watching the 

** Merciful powers, Bredowshausen ! " exclaimed the 
Grand Duke to the conscience-stricken captain, "you 
have given me a mortal fright. How came you to let 
Sigurd get loose?" 

**I can't tell, sir," replied Bredowshausen, saluting 
"except, perhaps, because I did not feel the strap 
through the cold." 

"Possibly," said the Grand Duke; "but I cannot 
trust you with him again." 

Then, moving a few steps forward, he asked, in an 
eager tone of voice, if Ahmed were the bearer of ill 
news, and when the doctor had replied that his patient's 
condition was unchanged, he said : " Thank Heaven for 



that» and thank Heaven that you were not hurt, my 

"" There was no danger of it, your Royal Highness/* 
said Ahmed, with a light laugh, twisting the dog's 
pricked ear in his fingers, and then running them 
through the hair at the back of its neck. 

'*Oh, there was though,'' said the Grand Duke; 
'* Sigurd is gentle enough with those he knows, espe- 
cially with my wife, who has always made a pet of him, 
but he is very savage to strangers! I am at a loss to 
know how you made friends with him." 

** I am fond of dogs." 

''Yes; only Sigurd has never taken to any one like 
this before." 

''Because no one else understood him!" Ahmed 
answered. "But I think I do. With your Royal 
Highness's permission, I would show you how well." 

"I have no objection," said the Grand Duke, who 
was still several yards away from the doctor. "In- 
deed, after what I have seen already of your skill in 
dog taming, I am even curious." 

" Well, sir," said Ahmed, dropping the leather lead, 
and drawing his fingers gently downwards behind the 
dog's ear, " will you please call him to you now ? " 

"Sigurd!" the Grand Duke called, in a low affec- 
tionate tone. Then, after a slight pause, he repeated 
the dog's name with an accent of conmiand; but again 
Sigurd paid no attention to him, though on each occa- 
sion he looked up inquiringly at the doctor. 

"Now once more, if you please, sir." 

This time his Royal Highness called the hound to 
him in the indifferent manner of one who did not 



expect it to obey; but, to his surprise, alter a rapid side 
glance at Ahmed, it came bounding towards him. 
"Wonderful," he exclaimed, "perfectly wonderful!'* 
" Yes," echoed his companion, " wonderful ! Worthy 
of a circus." 

Bredowshausen had a vague idea that what the doc- 
tor had done had not been accomplished without some 
previous preparation. But his remark procured a stem 
look of reproach from the Grand Duke. When, there- 
fore, Ahmed b^ged him for a private audience, he was 
the more ready to dismiss his equerry. " There are a 
few minutes of light left, captain," he said, with a 
wave of his hand, "go and disport yourself on the 


"At your order, sir," said Bredowshausen. Then 
after standing bolt upright for one second, he darted 
oflf down-hill to the lake, where before long he was 
skating with a pretty English miss from the pension 
at Sachsenroda. 

"You wish to re-open the matter that was decided 
yesterday?" asked the Grand Duke, looking hard at 
Ahmed under his shaggy, iron-grey eyebrows. 


"To what end?" 

" Because I want to make use of this woman in order 
to preserve my patient from disfigurement." 

"What do you mean? Speak plainly," said the 
Grand Duke in a hoarse tone. 

"Your Royal Highness knows that there is a simi- 
larity between Countess Lichtenthal and the con- 
demned woman — in age," said Ahmed, with a 
questioning glance at the Grand Duke. 



*'Yes» I see she is about the same age as my wife; 
but what of that ? " 

*^ There is a general resemblance in colouring. For 
Marie Schiller is also a blonde; her skin, too, is of the 
same texture as the Countess's. And physically, at 
least, she is free from any kind of taint" 


^The best way to save Countess Lichtenthal's ap- 
pearance would be by transplanting a portion of healthy 
skin to her throat from that of a living subject And 
I do not know where we are to find another so 
suitable for this purpose as the woman at Zwimau. 
Besides, it would be quite impossible in the time to 
make sure that any one, who was wiUing to submit to 
the operation, possessed no inherited disease, — even 
if any young woman in full health would consent to 
the utter destruction of her good looks, which it in- 
volves. But with Marie Schiller the case is different 
She would readily sacrifice her beauty to save her 

^Ah, I see what you mean now," said the Grand 
Duke, thoughtfully; ^you wish me to drive a bargain 
with the murderess for the sake of my wife. I am to 
remit the death penalty and order her to be imprisoned 
at my pleasure. And then she is to be informed by 
you what my pleasure is." 

'^ She would be glad to do so much out of gratitude, 
and if later on she were set at liberty." 

** Of course," said the Grand Duke, ** that would be 
part of the arrangement. First I am to declare that 
the woman is mad, and then, in a little while, I am to 
discover that I was mistaken. You have thought it all 



out» my friend. But/' he added gravely, ^'it is too 

They were both silent for some time. His Royal 
Highness at length turned again to Ahmed, and placing 
his hand on the doctor's arm, said, in a low earnest 
voice, "' My friend, had you broached this scheme the 
other day I might have been tempted to concur in it 
for the sake of one who is very dear to me. And I 
thank Heaven you did not; since, had I yielded, I could 
never have known another moment's peace. Had it 
been possible, with a clear conscience, I would have 
pardoned this woman; for, had your view been en- 
dorsed by Professor Weigand, I would not have listened 
to those who told me that it was nevertheless expe- 
dient she should die. But to set the law aside for one's 
own benefit is another matter, a thing which no man 
of honour in a position of final responsibility could 
ever do. No doubt, you have lost sight of everything 
except the safety of your patient; and I do not care to 
think any the worse of you for that. Still, I am glad 
that I was saved from this temptation. The paper 
you saw in my cabinet is now in the hands of the Min- 
ister of Justice, signed; and I could not demand its 
return, even if I would." 

After a long pause, Ahmed asked, with a gesture of 
resignation, ** When will the sentence be carried out ? " 

^In two or three weeks; the actual date is fixed by 
the Grovemor of the prison." 

** The execution takes place privately ? " 


** And afterwards, what is done with the body ? ** 

** Burned, I believe!" 



^ Ah!" exclaimed the young man, who thai checked 
hunself , as though he had been about to say something 
else but had thought it inadvisable. 

"^You have something in your mind, doctor," said 
the Grand Duke, with an acceat of inquiry. 


"What is it?" 

" I have spoken of the best way to repair the injury 
the Countess has sustained, but there is another method 
that might answer almost as well." 

** Let me hear about this method." 

^ That I should take what I require from the body 
of this woman immediately after death." 

**Would it be possible ?" 

** Under certain conditions, yes." 


" If I were allowed beforehand to administer a drug 
we have lately employed in the laboratory with success, 
that prevents the tissues from passing into the death- 
rigour for a prolonged period." 

" Has it no other effect ? " 

" It would also render the subject insensible to pain." 

"The aim of the law is not to inflict torture," said 
the Grand Duke, slowly, as though considering the 
question in all its bearings. "But we have not yet 
arrived at putting the condemned to a painless death." 

" Still, as a matter of fact," replied Ahmed, " many 
are practically unconscious during their last hours, and 
I believe it is not unusual for a narcotic to be given in 
cases of extreme nervous susceptibility." 

" Perhaps, and I have no personal objection to that 
part of your proposal; but there are many features in it 



I do not like. To take one. Would the operation you 
suggest have the approval of Dr. Weigand ? '* 

**He has approved of it already." 

** You have discussed the matter then ? ** 

** Yes, at our first consultation here.'* 

** And he thought it feasible ? " 

"^Absolutely. More than that, he considered it im- 
perative, and since the Countess discovered the char- 
acter of her injuries it has become still more urgent. 
Then it was only her reason for which we feared, now 
it is her life also." 

** Yes," said the Grand Duke, ** I guessed from the 
Professor's tone last night that she was in danger. 
Tell me. Dr. Ahmed, when am I to be allowed to see 
her again?" 

" To-morrow," he replied, " if we can keep her fairly 
quiet in the meantime. But only then for a little while, 
and you must be prepared to find that the Countess 
does not recognise you." 

"If I agreed to your carrying oul this operation it 
would necessitate her being taken away?" 


•* To that place?" 


" I could never reconcile myself to it." 

"Your Royal Highness may think differently to- 


** After I have seen my wife ? " 

The doctor bent his head in assent, and another long 
silence fell upon both men, who had already turned 
their footsteps mechanically towards the palace. After 
a while, however, the Grand Duke raised his eyes from 



the ground, at which he had been staring vacantly, and 
asked his companion how he intended to do the thing 
without its being known by everybody. That, Ahmed 
explained, was a question he could not answer off- 
hand. It would be difficult, no doubt, and yet he fan- 
cied he could arrange it Of course, it was essential 
that it should remain a profound secret between them; 
no one even in the palace would be told more than was 
absolutely necessary. His Royal Highness would per- 
ceive, when he had seen the patient's distressed con- 
dition, that something must be done to remove the 
cause as quickly as possible; and he would judge for 
himself whether this were a time at which any senti- 
mental considerations should be taken into account. 
As to the place, beyond its melancholy associations, it 
could not be better adapted to the purpose. The in- 
firmaiy at Zwimau was constructed on modem lines, 
and from a hygienic point of view was much safer than 
Wilhelmsbrunn itself. All that the people in the 
palace need know was that Countess Lichtenthal had 
been removed for special treatment to a private hos- 
pital; but where this was situated they must not be told. 
Dr. Weigand, on the other hand, must know all about 
it, as he would probably like to carry out the actual 
operation himself; but then, of course, he could be 
depended upon never to breathe a word to any one. 
To be sure," said the Grand Duke, half to himself, 

if the Professor advbed it, I suppose I cannot with- 
hold my consent." 

They had nearly reached the aitrance of the palace 
by this time, so having caught up Sigurd's leash, his 
Royal Highness beckoned to a man in the same sort of 




forester's uniform that he wore hunself and gave the 
great Dane into his charge. Whereupon the hound 
made a desperate attempt to regain his liberty, and 
almost succeeded in pulling his keeper back towards 
Ahmed, from whom he was obviously unwilling to be 
parted. It seemed, indeed, that the man would not 
be able to move him from the spot, but after the doctor 
had come near to Sigurd and had stroked his head 
gently two or three times he allowed himself to be led 
away without any further resistance. 

**You have a marvellous influence over that beast, 
doctor," said the Grand Duke, in a tone of sincere 
admiration. "Have you ever tried your power with 
other animals?" 

"I have seldom had occasion," replied Ahmed, 
smiling. "I find all animals friendly; except when 
one is hurting them, and then they become like men." 

"Ah," said the Grand Duke, with a gruflF laugh. 
" You have not much faith in the friendliness of your 

** I had no great reason to at home, sir," Ahmed said 
bitterly; **my brother twice did his best to kill me, and 
if I went back he would try for the third time, and 
succeed, perhaps; unless — " There he stopped short, 
as though he had suddenly remembered that his feel- 
ings could be of no interest to any one else; but added 
in a lighter tone, "I have found good friends in this 
country though." 

*' I am glad to hear it, doctor," said the Grand Duke, 
kindly; then, with a courteous inclination of the head, 
he took leave of the young man, and walked slowly off 
up the stone steps with his eyes cast down, his body 



bent slightly forward^ and his hands clasped behind 
his back. 

Ahmed watched the stooping figure until it was out 
of sight, with an expression of pity in his half-closed 
eyes; and then strolled away down the path that had 
been swept in front of the palace. He felt that he could 
think more clearly in the open air; and he had much 
that was of importance to think about. The Grand 
Duke would fall in with his new plan; that was certain, 
as certain as that he had rejected the old one. The 
young man passed up and down before the long f afade 
several times in the dusk, working out the details of 
his scheme. And as the darkness gathered round him 
the light within also seemed to fail; his brain had grown 
cold, and he could no longer see his way through the 
windings of the difficult road on which he was about to 
start. Up to a certain point it ran straight forward; 
but then it branched in two directions, each leading to 
a widely different goal. *' Which would he take ? " he 
asked himself. But the reply that slowly rose up out 
of his inner consciousness proved as enigmatic as that 
of an oracle. *' It will be the one that you meant to 
take from the first.'* 

This answer to his unspoken question, which seemed 
to have been uttered by some one standing close behind 
him, caused Ahmed to look round in a guilty way, to 
see if he were still alone; for so startling a revelation 
was it that he could scarcely persuade himself that the 
actual words had not been whispered in his ear. Then 
he turned his steps towards the entrance of the palace, 
and was soon in his own comfortable room once more. 
He drew a chair towards the glowing stove, and took 



from his pocket a small leather-bomid diary^ with 
various printed memoranda; among others a record of 
the phases of the moon. Ahmed opened it at the page 
on which these particulars appeared, and found that 
the moon would be nearly at the full in two or three 
days. Having ascertained this fact, he turned over 
another leaf and looked through the notes which he 
had made on the blank pages that followed the calendar 
for the year. One of them he evidently r^arded as 
being of the utmost importance; for, when he had 
confirmed his recollection of the date, he closed the 
book with a sigh of relief. The entry in question 
showed that the approaching Physiological Congress 
would meet at Vienna in a fortnight's time and would 
sit for over a week. 



Next day, when Elsa resumed her duties in the morn- 
ing, the doctor did not at once retire to rest, but re- 
mained to receive the Grand Duke. The Countess 
was stiU slightly delirious, though her temperature had 
fallen considerably. But when her husband came 
into the room she took no notice of him, and continued 
to mutter to herself in the same low monotone as before. 
Elsa rose from the chair at the bedside, and the Grand 
Duke took her place. For the moment he was too dis- 
tressed to speak to his wife; however, in a little while 
he found the courage to inquire how she felt 

**Very well,** replied the Countess, without looking 
at him. 

** Really well. Amy ? *' he asked in despair, his voice 
trembling with emotion. 

** No,'* she answered quickly, ** not well at all; I never 
shall be again. Don't let Hans see me, now that I am 
hideous; I want him to think of me as I was." 

The Grand Duke put his hands before his face to 
hide the tears that he could not hold back any longer. 
She did not know him, and she had spoken of herself 
as though she were a dying woman, as though she had 
no wish to live now that her beauty was gone. The 
doctor was right, then, in thinking it would be worth 
while to risk much in order to restore that which she 



valued above all else. Not that her being disfigured 
would have made the smallest difference to his love; 
but he could not convince her of the fact. In faltering 
tones he tried to tell her that it did not matter how she 
looked. She would always be the same to him, be- 
cause he saw the beauty of her mind. If only she were 
content with his love, and with the love of all who knew 
the goodness of her heart, nothing would be changed. 
Yet, even as he spoke the words, he felt that they failed 
to cany his meaning, and seemed hollow compared 
with the depth of sincere devotion that prompted them. 
Perhaps this was only because the woman to whom 
they were spoken did not listen to them, but grew more 
restless every moment, and, whenever he paused to see 
if they had awakened any responsive echo in her mind, 
muttered a single sentence to herself, over and over 
again — 
** Farewell! Now I have nothing more on earth." 
At first he could not place the phrase, which sounded 
strangely familiar, but after a while he recognised it; 
and then, each time she repeated the sentence, it fell 
like a death-knell upon his ear. It was the last line 
of her favourite part, and all the mournful ideas asso- 
ciated with the words crowded upon him, so that 
again his eyes were filled with tears. 

Both the nurse and the doctor had turned their 
heads away, and, but for the necessity of guarding 
against a sudden impulse on the part of the patient to 
get up, they would have retired from the room. As 
soon, however, as the Grand Duke had mastered his 
emotion he rose slowly and came towards the foot of 
the bed. 



^ You axe the new nurse» thai," he said to Elsa, who 
was standing there. "And your name is ?** 

" Elsa, your Royal Highness," she replied, dropping 
him a curtsey. 

**Eka," he repeated. ** Nurse Elsa; it's a pretty 
name, and you — " He had looked at her pale fac3 
with a certain curiosity, as though he were anxious to 
find out what sort of person this was to whom the care 
of his beloved had been entrusted, and, seeing a trace 
of moisture in her laige expressive eyes, he knew that 
she must be sympathetic; therefore, since she had been 
vouched for by tiie Professor himself as a good nurse, 
he felt he might place absolute confidence in her. The 
Grand Duke liked Elsa's fine frank outlook, and he 
noted the intelligence in her eyes, and self-reliance in 
the carriage of her head. His feeling of satisfaction 
showed itself in the grave smile of approval with which 
he eventually turned away from her. 

" I think we are in safe hands now, doctor," said the 
Grand Duke, as he moved towards the door and beck- 
oned to Ahmed to follow him; then, after bowing to 
Elsa, he went out, leaving her profoundly impressed 
by the natural dignity of his manner. Accustomed to 
the studied abruptness of the lesser lights of medicine, 
there was a peculiar fascination to the nurse in this 
graceful courtesy. In her own romantic way she could 
not help wondering if Ahmed would ever rule over his 
people, and be a great captain like this simple old 
soldier-prince. The Grand Duke led Ahmed down 
the long corridor and through the vast picture-gallery 
and several smaller rooms thrcmged with dignitaries 
in oflScial uniform awaiting audience, to his private 



cabinet. As the double doors were about to be closed 
behind them he made a sign to the chief marshal of 
the Court that no one ebe would be received that 
morning. And the moment they were alone he sank 
into an armchair, in an attitude of intense dejection, 
his face buried in his hands, oblivious, for the time 
being, of his companion. At last he raised his head 
and pulling himself together with an effort, rose stiffly 
to his feet. 

''You will excuse the forgetfulness of an old man, 
my friend," he said, his voice stiD trembling slightly. 
''But sorrow is always selfish, and mine to-day has 
been very great. So great that I have almost despaired 
of ever knowing gladness again. Ah, if you could give 
her back to me as she was a few days ago there is no 
torture of suspense I would not endure without com- 
plaint. For I see now that unless this happens she 
will not live. Nothing else will comfort her, poor 
child ! And it is hardly strange; she has been so praised 
for her beauty. You, who have only seen her since 
this accident, can form no idea of what she looked like 
before. But if you will come with me. Dr. Ahmed, I 
will show you a portrait in which the artist has caught 
her expression to the life." The Grand Duke opened 
the door into the next room and motioned Ahmed to 
go in. ** There," he said, pointing to the picture that 
had so struck Weigand, ** that is a good likeness of my 
wife." Ahmed moved slowly back and soon reached 
a spot where the cold wintry light brought every fea- 
ture of the portrait into focus. But when he had done 
this he was quite unable to suppress an ejaculation of 
admiration and astonishment. 



*' Yes/' said the Grand Duke, interpreting Ahmed's 
inarticulate exclamation. ^It is veiy fine. But it 
does not flatter her in the least That is exactly how 
she appeared as Maria Stuart'' 

^Countess Lichtenthal b painted in fancy dress» 
then?" asked Ahmed, gradually taking in all the de- 
tails of the unfamiliar costume. 

^ She is represented in her favourite character," said 
her husband. ^ My wife was not, perhaps, one of our 
greatest actresses; but she was undoubtedly a most 
beautiful woman, and for that reason specially suited 
to the part of this ill-fated queen. I wish you could 
have seen her in it." 

^ So do I," Ahmed replied, in a tone full of meaning. 
And for some time he gazed at the picture, lost in 
thought, utterly forgetting the presence of the Grand 
Duke. He was not, however, thinking of the likeness 
it bore to the sitter; but of the still closer likeness that 
must once have existed between Countess Lichtenthal 
herself and the condenmed woman. For he now saw 
that there was an even greater similarity between their 
features than he had supposed possible, and that the 
minute shades of difference that did occur could easily 
be eliminated. They both represented a perfect but 
not uncommon type of beauty; only to be met with, 
however, in Austria, and then generally among women 
of mixed nationality. Ahmed therefore felt sure, after 
he had studied her face for a little while, that Countess 
Lichtenthal must be of the same half-Sclav, half- 
Magyar race from which Marie Schtiler had sprung. 
Observing that the young man was deep in the con- 
templation of his wife's portrait the Grand Duke had 



not interrupted him; but, when Ahmed at last turned 
from the picture, he said, as they walked back together 
towards the other room — 

**I will write to Professor Weigand immediately, 
and if he b agreed you shall have a free hand. Dr. 

The young man silently bowed in acknowledgment 
of these welcome words; and at once retired from the 
royal presence with the customary formal compliments. 
Looking neither to the right nor to the left, he moved 
rapidly through the antechambers with his habitual 
long cat-like stride, his head thrown back, and nothing 
in his face to indicate to any one of the crowd of cour- 
tiers, who glanced curiously at him as he passed, that 
he had carried his point in a matter of life and death. 
Still when he reached his own room, his set features 
relapsed into a thin smile; it was not, however, a smile 
of triumph, but rather that faint reflection of inward 
pleasure to be seen in the face of one who is conducting 
an intricate experiment to a successful issue. And in 
spite of his having been up for twenty hours, during 
which his brain had been busily occupied, he did not 
go to bed at once; but first sat down to make some 
fresh entries in his book. Among these there was one 
which seemed strangely out of keeping with the rest; 
it ran thus, " Maria Stuart, black velvet." 

Elsa kept watch till nearly twelve that night, before 
the doctor came to take her place in the sick-room. 
When Ahmed returned, the Countess was a trifle rest- 
less, though not more so than he had expected her to 
be. Elsa lingered for a few minutes after he came, in 
order to give him the chance to say a word or two to 



her. Speaking softly he told her she must try to sleep 
till late in the morning, and spend as many hours as 
possible in the open air each day. He also said that 
she was not to come back again before six o'clock in the 
evening, as he intended to remain on duty till then, and 
wished her to take the next eighteen hours straight off. 
For answer, Elsa clasped his hand warmly and looked 
him fondly in the eyes. With his assurance that she 
would carry out his instructions to the letter, she was 
about to leave the room, when Ahmed asked her in a 
casual tone, if she knew who wrote the stage play in 
which Maria Stuart appeared. Elsa was obliged to 
admit that she did not; nor did she remember ever to 
have read it 

*' You see I have had so little time for reading any- 
thing except medical books,'* she said. 

"Exactly my case," replied Ahmed, with an accent 
of regret. "' I've always thought it a waste of time to 
read plays, or see them acted, either; but it is not so 

Elsa crossed noiselessly over to the door, looking 
back at him with a smile of farewell as she went out of 
the room; and no sooner was she gone than Ahmed 
settled himself in his comer behind the screen. He 
had just placed a portfolio containing a laige-scale 
map of the district on the table before him, when his 
attention was suddenly arrested by something the 
Countess was muttering to herself. A name had 
fallen from her lips, and in an instant he was listening 
breathlessly, so that not a word of what followed should 
escape him. 

" Maria Stuart is in the play of that name by Schiller. 



Eveiybody knows that!" she said in a low voice, but 
quite distinctly enough to reach the young man's ear; 
and she then broke off into a stream of incoherent 
sounds that conveyed no meaning even to him. 

'' I did not know it," said Ahmed to himself, *' and I 
might have remained in ignorance of the fact for some 
time yet, if you had not heard me ask the question, 
Coimtess Lichtenthal. Evidently that lady's name is 
always in your mind. I wonder if you have ever for a 
moment thought that you were a reincarnation of her ? 
Such things have been, and are not unlikely to happen 
again, when the living brood over-long upon some 
fancied resemblance to the dead. Well, I shall see 
how things stand better after I have read the play. 
By Schiller?" he added, speaking the words aloud. 
"One of your great poets, I believe! Thank you, 
Coimtess." And leaning forward, with the grim sug- 
gestion of a bow to his patient, he wrote the author's 
name in his pocket-book. He then b^an again 
closely to study the map, which he had borrowed from 
one of the Grand Duke's adjutants. Sheet by sheet 
he pieced together the section he required, in order to 
trace out the course of the main roads between Wil- 
helmsbrunn and Zwimau. When he had calculated 
out all the intermediate distances, Ahmed carefully 
compared the varying elevations and came to the 
conclusion that the easiest road measured about forty- 
four kilometres. Therefore, unless a heavy fall of 
snow occurred meanwhile, the journey from the palace 
to Zwimau Castle might be made in three hours, and, 
allowing for a halt of half-an-hour midway, the moon 
would be well up for the whole time during the next 



two or three nights. Two things were certain : firstly, 
the Countess must be conveyed there by road; and, 
secondly, if her destination was to be concealed, she 
must be removed imder cover of night The question 
was, Could this be done with safety ? But, on reflec- 
tion, he thought that, without doubt, it could, provided 
adequate precautions were taken. 

Early neict morning one of the attendants brought 
Ahmed a note from the Grand Duke, asking how his 
wife was and when he might see her. To this the 
doctor replied that Countess Lichtenthal was somewhat 
stronger, and, for the time being, free from delirium, 
but that it was advisable to keep the Coimtess per- 
fectly quiet, and that hb Royal Highness must decide 
whether he would run the risk of a distressing out- 
break on her part, which, in view of what had already 
happened, seemed inevitable, if her thoughts were 
again drawn to the subject of her injuries. Before 
long he received a second note from the Grand Duke, 
expressing his willingness to wait imtil the danger of 
any such imtoward occurrence had passed, and en- 
closing a letter from Professor Weigand. For a time 
Ahmed could scarcely distinguish the words of his 
chiefs letter, his excitement being so violent that a 
tremor ran through his whole body. Soon, however, 
he conquered this momentary weakness and proceeded 
to read the letter with the utmost attention; and, on 
finding that the Professor approved of his proposal, 
he could not suppress a low cry of exultation. Towards 
the end of his letter the Professor informed the Grand 
Duke that it was absolutely impossible for him to 



perform the operation, since, at the time when it would 
be necessary to operate, he must be in Vienna, but that 
his Royal Highness might place entire confidence in 
Dr. Ahmed, to whom he contemplated surrendering 
the active part of his practice, and whose manual 
dexterity could not be surpassed. As the young man 
read these words he smiled pleasantly; gratified by so 
high a compliment, and rejoicing also in the success 
of this first step in his weU-thought-out plan. 

That evening, Ahmed was again closeted with the 
Grand Duke for a considerable time. And when he 
took leave of his Royal Highness he carried with him, 
in addition to a roU of bank-notes, an autographed 
letter of the Grand Duke's to Freiherr von Baltzan, 
and an order to the Master of Horse bidding him put 
the stable at Dr. Ahmed's disposition. Having ob- 
tained a written authority from this high official, he 
went straight to the stable and selected the pair of 
horses best suited for his purpose. Ahmed told the 
head groom to have them fed for a long journey and 
ready saddled in the courtyard at midnight. He then 
hurried away to his own room, so that he might snatch a 
few hours' rest before it was necessary to take the road. 
And when, at the time appointed, he walked quietly up 
to the stable gate, he appeared quite as fresh as if he 
had slept for a whole night. The groom, who stood 
waiting imder the archway holding the heads of the 
horses, was astonished to hear that Ahmed did not 
require him to ride either of them. His surprise in- 
creased when he was told to fetch a halter and an extra 
piece of rope. But he could not help admiring the 
workman-like style in which the doctor, after slipping 



oB the bridle, put the halter on one of the horses and 
then deftly attached it to the rope that he had first made 
fast to the mUitary saddle on the other. Ahmed» who 
was wearing high cannon boots, stamped his feet to 
find out whether the snow had clung to them. He 
next looked at the horses' shoes, and, having made 
sure that they were sufficiently rough, he mounted the 
bridled horse, and told the man to remove the saddle 
from the other. While this was being done he looked 
up at the moon and noted its position with regard to 
the stars; he then touched the horse he was riding 
lightly with his heel, so that it started off over the firm 
crisp snow, the led horse trotting placidly by its side. 

"In truth the Herr doctor had no need of me," 
thought the groom, as he watched them disappear 
down the long avenue. "One can see that he has 
served with the cavalry, and, it would seem, with those 
singing devils of Cossacks." 

He guessed rightly, for the doctor had learned that 
part of horsemanship he did not know by intuition from 
these obliging neighbours of his; and like them made 
nothing of riding, Cossack-fashion, a himdred versts 
in the day. In fact, for so short a journey as that on 
which he was boimd that night, he would not have 
taken two horses unless he had had some further use 
for them. Jogging along the edge of the road, he rode 
over twenty kilometres before he made a halt. He 
knew by the pace he had travelled at, and the distance 
the moon had moved in the sky, that he could not now 
be far from a villa^^e which lies about half-way between 
Wilhelmsbrunn ^d Zwimau. And when he had 
topped the next hill he saw, in the dip below, a cluster 



of houses, that threw a long black shadow across the 
road. ''This must be Ober-Karlsdorf»" he thought, 
** and the least dilapidated of those buildings is the inn/' 

Ahmed rode slowly by these houses, scanning each 
in turn, and had passed nearly all of them when his 
sharp eyes caught the word *" Herberge," painted over a 
door in white characters upon a black ground. Luckily 
it was on the moonlit side of the road or he would never 
have seen it There was not a sign of life about the 
place, but, at length, Ahmed perceived a dim light 
shining in the solitary window of a vast bam-like 
structure, a little to one side of the house. Dismoimting 
and leading his horse towards this window, he tapped 
sharply on the glass with his fingers. In a few seconds 
the casement flew open, and a close-cropped head was 
thrust out. 

''What is it?" asked the stableman, in a rough 
sleepy voice, with an accent of suspicion, that was not 
without a shade of alarm. " Is the place on fire ? " 

"Not that I know!" replied Ahmed, laughing at his 
absurd look of apprehension. 

"Then what do you wake one up for?" he growled. 

" Because I want you to take my horse,*' sard Ahmed. 

"Oh, you have got a horse!" exclaimed the stable- 
man, with an enormous increase of respect' in his tone. 
" I'U be at your honour's service in a minute." 

Thereupon he disappeared, taking the light with 
him; and, in an incredibly short space of time, he came 
out of the door with a lantern in his hand. When he 
distinguished the second horse, he cried out in amaze- 
ment: "Two horses and only one rider! Anything 
like that I have not seen in all the days of my life." 



Again Ahmed smiled at his surprise, and directed 
him to hold the horse he had been riding, while he him- 
self took oB the saddle. He quickly put it on the led 
horse, and as quickly changed the halter for the bridle; 
then turning to the stableman, who still stared at him 
open-mouthed, he said — 

""Take that horse into the stable; give him a good 
rub down, a drink of water in half-an-hour, and a feed 
in the morning. Look after him weU, my friend. It 
will be worth your while! I shall return to-morrow to 
see how he has been treated, and, if I find everything in 
order, I will leave his companion with you for a time." 

After glancing into the stable to see that it was 
reasonably comfortable, Ahmed put a thaler into the 
ostler's hand, mounted the fresh horse, and rode away. 
The light of the moon had almost failed when he walked 
his horse up the steep slopes of the winding road 
that led up to Hohen-Zwimau. He had approached 
the castle this time through the pine-woods, only strik- 
ing the road by which he had come before just beneath 
the outer fortifications. At the point where the two 
roads met there stood a restaurant, greatly used in 
summer time, but deserted in winter by the good people 
of Zwimau. On that accoimt Ahmed feared it might 
be shut up. However, with some diflBculty he suc- 
ceeded in waking the house-boy, who, propitiated by 
the gift of a small coin, not only found an empty stall 
in the cowshed for the horse, but rolled a couch up to 
the big iron stove in the great bare dining-room for the 
doctor to rest on. 

About eight o'clock, after making himself as pre- 
sentable as possible, Ahmed rang at the entrance to 



von Baltzan's private apartments. The soldier-ser- 
vant who opened the door recognised him immediately, 
and ushered him into a reception room, where he was 
very soon joined by the genial baron, who apparently 
did not intend to keep any one accredited by the Grand 
Duke waiting a second time. He had, therefore, 
hurried into the room, and, having shaken hands 
e£Fusively with Ahmed, insisted that he should share 
his morning cup of co£Fee. And only when the doctor 
had comfortably seated himself at the breakfast table 
did von Baltzan ask him to what he was to ascribe the 
pleasure of seeing him. To this question Ahmed re- 
plied by handing him the Grand Duke's letter, which 
the Governor, after politely demanding permission, 
began at once to read. It was not long, but its contents 
were of so cryptic a nature that he read the whole letter 
through twice before he looked up from it, and said, 
in an official tone — 

" I am at your orders, doctor. Tell me exactly what 
you want me to do." 

Thus directly challenged, Ahmed, indicating, with a 
wave of the hand, that he was merely making a 
request, explained that he wished to bring somebody 
to the castle on the next night but one. The person 
alluded to would be lodged in the prison infirmary, 
unseen by any one, and while there would be in the 
sole charge of the woman who would arrive at the 
same time, and would be visited by nobody but 

*^ No one will attempt to discover the identity of this 
person, or even to guess at it," the doctor added quietly, 
but in a slow, impressive way. 



*'I understand that perfectly/* said von Baltzan» 
glancing again at the letter. 

'^In the meantime/' continued Ahmed, **I am to 
take over the duties of Dr. Meissener, who will be given 
leave of absence &om to-morrow evening. The con- 
denmed woman will then come under my care. This 
is absolutely essential, because her health is of the 
greatest importance to my plans. By-the-bye, Baron, 
have you fixed the execution ? " 

^ On the last day possible," said the Governor, with 
a deep sigh; *^the death-warrant was sent to me yes- 
terday. It must be carried out within a fortnight '* 

*'In thirteen days' time, then," said the doctor; 
"that will suit my purpose." 

"Am I permitted to inquire what it might be?" 

" Certainly! And I feel bound to tell you that I shall 
want your help." 


"I must first warn you that it is rather a ghastly 
business, even from a medical point of view. Of 
course, you will not breathe a word of what I say to 
any one; not even to Meissener. My purpose is to 
use tissue taken from the body of this woman imme- 
diately after death, in order to repair certain injuries 
the person I told you of has sustained. It is necessary, 
therefore, that the prisoner should remain in good 
health up to the end, and that her body should be 
handed to me the moment the execution is over." 

"But, man," cried the Governor, quite unable to 
repress the disgust with which this cold-blooded pro- 
posal inspired him, " how could you do such a thing ? 
You who have known her?" 



Ahmed looked at von Baltzan's horrified face, for a 
little whQe, with a not unsympathetic smile, and then 
said gravely, ** Baron» we doctors are sometimes forced 
to do such things/' 

But the sentimental Governor, who had fallen more 
in love with Marie every day, wrinkling his short nose 
and protruding his brushed-up moustache, muttered 
to himself in an undertone — 

^ Then, thank Heaven I am not a doctor." 



Adolph Meibseneb was obviously delighted to see his 
Leipzig colleague so soon again; and, undemonstrative 
as Ahmed was, he felt a glow of genuine pleasure at 
the cordial welcome which the little man extended to 
him. Directly th^ had exchanged the usual greetings, 
the prison doctor's joyful coimtenance grew serious 
once more. Asked what was the matter, he silently 
shook his head; and it became evident to Ahmed that 
he had something of a painful nature to commimicate. 
At last, however, the little man overcame his hesitation 
and began to speak rapidly, as was always his habit. 
** I am glad to see you for another reason, my friend. 
It is on account of Marie Schiller; her condition since 
you were here has led me to believe that you were 
right about her state of mind. You are, of course, 
aware that she placed implicit faith in your power to 
save her. Well, it appears that she knew you accom- 
panied the Professor the other day." 

^ How could she, unless you told her ? ^ asked Ahmed. 

** I do not know," replied the other, ** except that it 
was not through me, nor through any one else, as far 
as I can ascertain. The thing b a mystery. She says 
that she saw you; that you came to her and told her to 
sleep; and that when she awoke you were gone." 

** An hallucination," said Ahmed, calmly. 

'* Exactly!" Meissener answered, ^and that is what 



has brought me round to your opinion. I regard it as 
a convincing symptom of insanity." 

"Have you no other evidence?" 

** Nothing so conclusive. But yesterday, against my 
advice. Baron von Baltzan told her that there was no 
hope that her sentence would be commuted. He had 
certain religious scruples, which I naturally do not 
share, about leaving her in ignorance of her fate. He 
did no good though, for since then she has been sunk 
in a deeper apathy than ever; and it is as much as we 
can do to force her to take food. But when you have 
seen her yourself you will know how she is, better than 
I can tell you." As he said this, the little man marched 
o£F down the passage which led to the end ward. Open- 
ing the iron door with his master key, he stood aside 
to allow Ahmed to enter. They foimd Marie sitting 
on a low stool, with her mass of hair in the wildest 
disorder. She was gazing out of the window, as though 
wrapped in the contemplation of some far-off object. 
Meissener exchanged a significant glance with the 
infirmary attendant on duty, which was not unnoticed 
by Ahmed, though he said nothing. For several 
minutes he looked at Marie steadfastly in silence, and 
not until the tension had become almost unbearable to 
the prison doctor did he approach her, in order to 
touch her lightly on the arm. The contact of his 
fiingers seemed to exert a magnetic effect upon the 
woman, for she started at once to her feet and faced 

*'Oh," she said, in a dull, flat, and quite strange 
voice, after pushing back the yellow tangle that fell 
before her eyes. "You are another of them — come 



to look at me before it is too late? Well, you may 
look your fiU; it is all the same to me; in a few days I 
shall be dead. Fancy that — dead! I, who am so 
full of life now. Perhaps you are a priest and have 
come to tell me that I should think only of another life, 
though you don't know that there is one a bit more 
than I do. But I shall soon, if I know anything at all 
then." She came a little nearer to him; and, when she 
had looked at his clothes, continued to speak in the 
same level tone, as though the subject was one which 
did not concern her personally. *'No, not a priest! 
A doctor then ? You have come to beg them for my 
body so that you can cut it to pieces, and discover why 
I am not like other women." 

Ahmed was shocked to find that she did not recog- 
nise him. As far as he could judge, too, her condition 
was most critical, evidently bordering upon mania. 
This was the one contingency, which he had not fore- 
seen, and against which he had consequently not pro- 
vided. Yet he saw now that it was of all things the 
likeliest to happen. For the great danger of feigned 
insanity is that it may soon cease to be a pretence, and 
the attitude which he had ordered her to assume at her 


trial was essentiaUy that of a mad woman. He had 
also forgotten the tremendous mental strain that she 
had been subjected to since then. Or, perhaps, he 
had thought that she would remain unconscious of 
what had taken place, owing to the suggestion he had 
conveyed to her. Still the effect of a suggestion, how- 
ever powerful at the moment, works off in time; and 
it was now obvious to him that the horror of her 
situation had slowly dawned upon Marie; and that it 



threatened to overthrow her reason, unless she could be 
speedily convinced that there was no such terrible fate 
in store for her. 

All these considerations flashed through Ahmed's 
brain in the fraction of a second. *' Matuschka," he 
said in a low voice, speaking in the language which 
was most familiar to her, " don't you know me ? " She 
put both her hands on his shoulders and peered up 
into his face. Then suddenly she pushed him from 
her and burst into a flood of tears. Ahmed's features 
were contracted with pain; it was the first time he had 
seen this beautiful creature weep. He had always 
thought her coldness to be her one fault; and the fact 
that she was not of an emotional temperament made 
the present tearful demonstration all the more ominous. 
But, knowing that the least trace of weakness on his 
part would provoke a violent outburst of hysteria in 
Marie which might leave her a hopeless imbecile, he 
fought hard to preserve his own mental equilibrium. 
She exhibited already the worst symptoms of melan- 
cholia. If, therefore, this was not to become the con- 
firmed habit of her mind, it was of vital importance 
that she should at once be made to speak calmly and 
naturally. Ahmed was also fully cognisant that his 
influence over her had sensibly diminished, if indeed it 
had not entirely disappeared. For this reason he did 
not attempt to address her with an accent of conmiand, 
but spoke in the most soothing tone imaginable. *' You 
cannot really believe that I have deserted you, my 
dove. For, if I had, I should not be here now; and 
surely you have not forgotten me. You remember 
what I told you, Matuschka ? " 



** Yes," she murmured, between her sobs. 

*" Ah, that is right,'* he said, with a smile, adding, as 
he clasped her hands warmly in his, ^and you still 
trust me?" 

•^I don't know!" 

^But you ought to. Listen now! The sun will not 
rise a second time before you see me again. And then 
I shall be near you always imtil you are free once more. 
You hear what I say ? " 

'^Yes; but can I be certain that it is true? Th^ 
teU me that I shall only leave it when the hour comes 
for me to die." 

'' That hour will not come for many years, and soon 
you shall be set at liberty. I swear that if you do not 
fret about the present, you shall be surroimded for the 
future by all that is beautiful." 

'" You do not mean in another world ? " asked Marie, 
speaking no longer with the accent of indifference she 
had previously adopted. 

"'No; in this world, in the midst of eveiything you 
love," Ahmed answered solemnly, with an air of ab- 
solute assurance. 

*'Ah," she said, *'I am glad you did not mean in 
heaven. Because, if there is such a place, I should 
not get to it." 

''Hush! do not think of such things," said 
Ahmed, horrified by the amount of conviction she had 
put into the words. *' Think only that I am your 
friend, and that I will not fail you. You believe it, 
Matuschka ? " 


** And you will obey me ? " 




** Sleep then, my dove!" 

As he said this, he passed his hands lightly over her 
hair, and downwards along her arms. He next led her 
gently to a bench into which she sank with a sigh of 
fatigue; and after a few moments she had closed her 

When they returned to the surgery Meissener con- 
gratulated him on the ease with which he had re-estab- 
lished his influence over the condenmed woman. But 
Ahmed knew that it would only be by a continued 
effort that he could retain his hold on Marie's will; he 
feared, moreover, that despair might reassert itself in 
her mind during the next two days. To prevent this 
he asked the prison doctor to give her a powerful sleep- 
ing draught on that and the foUowing evenii^. And 
when Meissener hinted that he had no authority to do 
this, Ahmed replied — 

** My dear colleague, from this moment I am answer- 
able for everything that is done in these wards. It has 
been arranged that your holiday begins at eight o'clock 
to-morrow evening. You will, of course, receive offi- 
cial notice of this from Baron von Baltzan; but you may 
take my word for it that I have been appointed as your 
deputy. I hope you don't mind." 

*^ Mind ? " exclaimed the little man, almost jumping 
for joy at this unexpected piece of good news, " why, 
my dear fellow, I shall be eternally grateful to you. 
It's not only that I badly wanted a rest, but this mis- 
erable business has been getting on my nerves. On 
my word of honour, I am as sorry for the poor creature 



as you are, and I rejoice that she should be under your 
care, because I could do nothing for her myself. But 
I say," he added in a less exuberant tone, '* how about 
yourself? Can you bear it, my friend, when they 
come to lead her out to execution? You'll have to 
make the autopsy, you know!" 

"Yes," said Aluned, apparently unperturbed by the 
prospect. **I know; it is terrible, but " 

"" Nothing you or I can do will alter it now," said 
Meissener, interpreting his thought. 

"I suppose not," said the other, bowing his head 
mournfully, as though in token of agreement 

As he would not see Ahmed again before he went on 
his holiday, Meissener insbted on showing him over 
the entire infirmary. He was particularly proud of 
the fine stock of fresh drugs, and he ascribed the ab- 
sence of sickness to the fact that he always dispensed 
them freely. As an instance of his watchful super- 
vision he cited the case of the man Mnischko, who 
would have been seriously ill, if the doctor had not 
immediately diagnosed the cause. ** I gave him a dose 
of the same stuff that I take myself whenever I have 
an attack of liver brought on by being shut up in this 
beastly hole," he added. Ahmed listened attentively 
to all that the talkative little man had to say, and having 
extracted a promise from him to carry out his mstruc- 
tions with r^ard to the opiate, he bade him farewell, 
and departed. 

It was only a little after nine when Ahmed left the 
prison, after he had said good-bye to the Governor. 
He went straight back to the restaurant at the cross- 
roads, saddled and bridled his horse, and rode off down 



the hill towards the town. There he asked the first 
tradesman he saw if there was a good saddler in the 
place, and a sturdy red-faced butcher answered some- 
what indignantly that better work was not to be found 
in the country than that of Martin Schultz in the Klos- 
tergasse. With a nod of thanks the young man hur- 
ried on to the shop of Herr Schultz and astonished that 
worthy by saying that he wanted a new set of double 
harness to take away with him. When he learned that 
it must fit the horse Ahmed was riding and another of 
the same build, he admitted that he had a set which 
might answer the purpose, but that it had been made to 
the order of a customer, the Graf von Altenberg, and 
that consequently it was not for sale. If, however, 
the stranger would give him time he would make 
another set 

*' I cannot," said Ahmed, with the abruptness of one 
who was accustomed to be obeyed. ''I will take the 
set you have and the Herr Graf must wait." 

'^Must indeed!" muttered Schultz, who, being a 
person of considerable importance m his own estima- 
tion, was outraged at being spoken to in so peremptory 
a fashion. 

"Yes!" said Ahmed, quietly. "And the sooner you 
understand that the better. The price is of no con- 

"Oh!" exclaimed the saddler, "that puts the matter 
in another light. Time is money, and the Herr Grafs 
money is a long time coming. Perhaps he can wait, 
' if your Excellency pays cash down." 

- This Ahmed agreed to do as soon as he had seen the 
harness, and he made no demur on finding that it waa 



of a light collarless pattern designed for Graf Alten- 
berg's new sporting-wagon. He ordered the saddler 
to pack it in two small sacks, and paid the somewhat 
exorbitant price without making any comment Hav- 
ing tied the sacks together, he hung them across the 
front of his saddle, remounted his horse, and rode oB 
down the street. In this very Klostergasse, he remem- 
bered, was the beer house where Mnischko and Marie 
had performed on the night when Giesecke met his 
death. Either this memory, or the fact that he had 
got chilled while stopping to bargain with the saddler, 
caused Ahmed to shiver slightly; whereupon he uiged 
his horse into a sharp trot towards the open country. 

The doctor was anxious not to attract attention, 
being unwilling that Herr Schultz should hear from 
some gossip at the Burg Keller who his customer had 
been. He had on that account threaded his way 
through the less-frequented streets, and had seen no 
face with which he was familiar. But among those 
who were astir at this comparatively early hour he had 
encountered one whose face left a distinct impression 
on him. At the moment when Ahmed had turned 
somewhat rapidly out of the Klostergasse, he had been 
obliged to rein in his horse in order to avoid knocking 
down a man who was walking in the middle of the road 
with his eyes bent on the ground. The stranger, who 
was of middle height, and who wore a three-cornered 
hat and a long flowing black cloak, had stepped quickly 
out of the way, and raising his eyes had looked stead- 
fastly at Ahmed. In another second the priest had 
passed on, with a polite bow to Ahmed, and was soon 
out of sight, having apparently sunk at once into the 



same deep meditations as before. The yomig man 
felt, however, that the priest had observed him closely 
enough to note every detail of his appearance, and he 
inwardly rejoiced that it was not the habit of priests 
to gossip with their neighbours. 

With some little trouble he hit o£F the road by which 
he had come, about four or five kilometres outside the 
town, at the place where it emerged from the woods 
that extend right up to the castle walls. And two hours 
later he turned into the courtyard of the inn at Ober 
Karlsdorf. The ostler had been on the look-out for 
his coming and ran to his assistance immediately. 
But Ahmed, after giving him the sacks which contained 
the harness and telling him to put them in a place of 
safety, proceeded himself to take saddle and bridle off 
the horse. When he had ascertained that the other 
horse had been well looked after, Ahmed wasted no 
time in giving the stableman directions as to what was 
required of him. Then, having made him repeat his 
orders, he rewarded him with a gold coin, and prom- 
ised him another if they were carried out faithfully. 
The doctor thereupon took a piece of paper from his 
pocket, and studied a sketch-map he had made before 
leaving Wilhelmsbrunn. He foimd that the nearest 
railway-station was only a kilometre from the village, 
and remembered that this was one of the reasons why 
he had selected Ober Karlsdorf for his change of 
horses. With a sheepskin cloak thrown over his 
shoulder and a big military saddle balanced on top of 
it, he looked a somewhat curious figure, when he walked 
into the little station at Karlsdorf. Luckily, however, 
there were few people about in the middle of the day 



to see him, and as he only took a third-class ticket the 
railway officials imagined him to be the trainer or body- 
groom to some nobleman. He had been careful that 
neither they nor the ostler should see the grand ducal 
cipher on the bridle which he carried in his hand; and 
he was equally careful not to expose it to view when he 
alighted from the slow train at the Mittelburg ter- 
minus. Moreover, he did not engage a drosky from 
the rank in front of the station, but walked some little 
way until he met an old fellow, who was jogging along 
dozing on his box. However, on being told to go as 
fast as he could to the stable at Wilhelmsbrunn, he 
became thoroughly alert, and drove oB at a good 
pace. Ahmed dismissed him with a handsome gratuity 
outside the entrance to the stable-yard, and carrying 
the saddle and bridle made straight for the men's 
quarters. There he handed the things to a helper, and 
sent an other to fetch the head groom. When that all- 
important functionary appeared the doctor gave him 
numerous instructions, which the man promised to see 
fulfilled. Nor did he venture to express any surprise 
on being informed that the pair of bays would not be 
brought back for a considerable time; since the Master 
of Horse had told him that the doctor must make 
whatever use of the grand ducal stable he desired. 

It was almost dusk when Ahmed entered the sick- 
room that afternoon, and he apologised to Elsa for 
being over three hours behind his time. But she made 
light of this delay, declaring that she could look after 
her patient for sixty hours at a stretch, if their wants 
were supplied by the servants, who indeed had been 
most attentive. Yet Ahmed, noticing that the nurse 



seemed a shade paler than usual, thought that the long 
hours of watching must have exhausted her. However, 
Elsa would not admit that this was the case, though 
she did not disguise the fact that the weak condition 
of Countess Lichtenthal had caused her some anxiety. 
And it was plain to Ahmed that the tender-hearted 
creature had suffered in sympathy with her charge. 
It distressed him also to find that the Countess's pulse 
had become more feeble, since he had last noted its 
fast, fluttering, intermittent throb. Still he hoped that 
she would nevertheless be strong enough to bear the 
journey next night. The actual wounds were in a 
most satisfactory state; while the surroimding inflam- 
mation had not extended. The nurse longed to ask 
Ahmed if he thought the Countess would recover; but 
the influence of her hospital training was too powerful 
to allow of her putting so direct a question to the doc- 
tor. She was not a little surprised, therefore, when 
he answered her unspoken thought by saying — 

*" Elsa, the case can only have one issue if we leave 
nature to take its course. On that accoimt I have 
decided to remove this lady to a place where I can 
perform the operation I wrote to you about. Before 
you come back, then, you must get ready to start to- 
morrow evening. I shall want you here at six o'clock 
in the morning, as I have to catch an early train to 
Leipzig; and I may not be back till the last moment. 
Good night!" 

He had ordered and it was not for her to criticise. 
But inwardly Elsa protested against what the man she 
loved was about to do. She felt that the removal of 
this woman in her present state involved a terrible risk, 



no matter what precautions might be taken to nainimise 
it. Why» then, she asked herself, was he willing to 
incur this risk ? It would be better, of course, to run 
any risk rather than to allow the Countess to die, with- 
out making an attempt to save her. But would that 
overtaxed heart respond to another call? Elsa had 
such faith in Ahmed's surgical skill, that she did not 
doubt that if the thing were possible he would do it 
successfully. But, for the moment, she doubted whether 
he had correctly estimated the chances of recovery 
after the operation. And, with this painful feeling of 
uncertainty in her mind, the tired nurse found it veiy 
hard to tsjl asleep that night 



When the fast train from Mittelbuig arrived in Leipzig 
at a few minutes before eleven next morning, Ahmed 
had a big task before him. Knowing, therefore, that 
he had not a moment to spare he picked out a drosky 
of the first class, and soon reached Dr. Weigand's house. 
But he was greatly relieved when he discovered 
that the Professor was not in his rooms, having been 
caUed away to perform a difficult operation. Nor did 
he take long to collect the various instruments he 
required from his private cabinet He explained to 
the laboratory attendant that he would not be able to pay 
his respects to the Professor, since he was much pressed 
for time; and hurried oB with his bag. Ahmed's 
next call was on one of the leading instrument-makers, 
with whom he spent over half-an-hour in devising 
certain alterations in a litter, which the workmen 
promised to finish, so that he could take the thing with 
him by the two o'clock train. He also selected a port- 
able dental machine and some fine-toothed circular 
saws, which he instructed them to pack separately. 
He then drove to the Briiderstrasse, stopping at a 
bookseller's on the way, and, having paid the driver 
for the hour, let him go. 

The good Frau Mankel was delighted to see Ahmed 
again, and Fritz was simply frantic with joy. Indeed, 



he baxked so loudly that the kind soul could hardly 
make herself heard. Her great anxiety was that the 
doctor should share her midday meal, and this he 
readily agreed to do» if she would excuse him mean- 
while. He went on to say that he had come not only 
to wish her joy on the first day of the new year, but to 
ask her help as well. Certainly she would be glad to 
do anything in her power. What might it be ? Could 
she direct him to some trustworthy dressmaker in the 
neighbourhood ? Why, of course she could and would 
too! Fraulein Fuchs in the very next street made up 
customer's own material in aU the latest fashions. 
But would she provide the material herself? To be 
sure she would if paid in advance. She was not rich, 
poor thing; she didn't rob people enough for that! 
Ahmed thanked Frau Mankel, made a note of the num- 
ber, and said that he would go round to the dressmaker 
at once, but would not forget to be back in good time 
for dinner. He then walked briskly o£P, and before long 
he had groped his way down a dark passage and up 
two flights of stairs, at the top of which he discovered a 
half glass door, with the name of Fuchs & Cie. painted 
on it. 

For some time Fraulein Fuchs, a thin-faced, middle- 
aged woman with bright beads of eyes, could not under- 
stand what it was the young man wanted. But when 
she grasped at last that he wished her to make two 
black silk-velvet gowns to the rough measurements 
which he gave her, and in the fashion of a bygone age, 
she was utterly mystified. However, as Ahmed counted 
into her hand a quantity of gold coins, she saw that he 
meant business, and she undertook to execute this 



unusual order to the best of her ability. Having 
directed her to get the dresses done within a week, and 
to despatch them by passenger-train to the railway- 
station at Zwimau, where they would be caUed for»he 
turned to go, leaving the woman more puzzled than 
ever. But on reaching the door he looked round, and 
said almost as though it were an afterthought: ^If I 
receive them in good time, I will send you a present of 
two hundred marks." 

He did not go straight back to the Briiderstrasse; 
for, finding that he was not due there for a quarter of 
an hour, it occurred to him to call in at the bank. 
Ahmed had no intention of spending any of the money 
the Grand Duke had given him, without being able to 
render a detailed account for it And as money is 
the only argument with many people, he felt it would 
be just as well to obtain a suflScient supply of it. He 
was, therefore, in the act of cashing a cheque, when 
one of the partners hurried out from behind a partition 
with a large square envelope in his hand. The banker 
delivered thb to Ahmed with a friendly bow, and 
informed hhn that it had arrived two days before, to- 
gether with a draft to the doctor's credit for twenly 
thousand marks. The largeness of the amount men- 
tioned greatly surprised the young man, since, although 
his father had always been most generous, this sum 
far exceeded any that he had previously sent. 

For a little while Ahmed stood gazing at the familiar 
green seal, wondering what thought was in the Prince's 
mind when he set his signet upon the wax. But he 
did not remain long in doubt on this point, for the 
banker having left him, he broke the seal and, running 



his eye rapidly over the formal greetings written in an 
ornamental hand by a secretary, came at once to the 
pith of the letter. He then saw that his father had 
dictated a strong appeal to him to return home as soon 
as possible. Ahmed could detect beneath the scribe's 
polite Arabic phrases the rough vernacular of the old 
Afghan chief, who had always been a great man of 
arms, but never one of letters; and he was touched by 
the obvious sincerity of his father's affection. There 
was something also of self-interest in the Prince's 
letter. It appeared that he had been of late by no 
means pleased with the conduct of Nasrullah. Always 
arrog Jt. this youBg ra^'s bearing had grown insuffi 
able since he had felt hunself secure of the succession. 
Nasrullah had become the slave of wine and play, 
both of which were abhorrent to the true believer. 
Indeed, he had been at so much trouble to prove how 
unequal he would be to the responsibilities of govern- 
ment that his father thought seriously of appointing 
another in his place. The letter went on to hint, in 
thinly veiled terms, that this other would be Ahmed 
himself, if he were found wise and free from such 
Western sinfulness. It practically concluded with the 
announcement that funds had been placed at his dis- 
posal in order to enable him to travel as befitted a 
Prince. Then followed a string of salutations and 
benedictions which his father had evidentiy left to the 
discretion of the scribe. Ahmed refolded the parch- 
ment and put it into his pocket, along with the bank- 
notes the cashier had handed to him in exchange for 
his cheque. As he walked back to the Briiderstrasse 
he turned its contents over slowly in his mind. Of 



course, the thing was impossible, at any rate for some 
time to come. He had pledged his word to that woman 
at Zwimau, and he had to reckon with the Grand Duke 
as well. There must be a settlement in full of all his 
obligations before he left the country. Then, perhaps, 
he might go back to dispute the throne of hb fathers 
with Nasrullah Khan. For, though if he followed his 
own inclinations he would certainly remain where he was 
and pursue his career as a surgeon, he could not turn 
an altogether deaf ear to the call of kinship. 

When the doctor took his accustomed place at the 
table where he had sat so often with Elsa, Frau Mankel 
was full of questions about her. The sight of the 
dachshund also recalled her to Ahmed and caused him 
to feel a certain amount of self-reproach; for beyond 
seeing that she did not neglect the aU-important matter 
of her health, he had not thought much about the nurse 
since she had been in attendance at Wilhelmsbrunn. 
But he was able to tell the good lady that she was quite 
well, a little overworked, perhaps, though not more 
so than must often have been the case before. 

" Yes, poor girl," said Frau Mankel, ** they worked 
her hard enough at the hospital. And I am sure you 
would not let her do too much. You are more likely 
to overwork yourself; and, if you'll excuse my saying 
it, Herr Doctor, you are looking worn out, and as 
though you have been worried to death." 

*' Oh," replied Ahmed in a light tone, *' it has been 
an anxious time for both of us, no doubt, but it will be 
over shortly, and then we can have a good rest." 

**Not before you will want it," said she. 

As soon as he had eaten a few of the good things the 



servant girl set before them, and swallowed a cup of 
coffee, Ahmed had to take leave of his amiable hostess. 
There was one other thing he still had to buy, a port- 
able stove, capable of warming a laige carriage and 
of being moved about with safety. Not an easy thing 
to choose in a hurry; Ahmed considered himself lucky, 
therefore, when he found exactly what he wanted in 
the first ironmonger's shop that he entered. And this 
piece of good fortune gave him plenty of time at the 
station to claim the packages which the instrument- 
maker's men had brought, and to'secure a comfortable 
seat before the express started. He also had time to 
send Baron von Baltzan a telegram, the sense of which 
would be intelligible only to him. It ran thus : *' Every- 
thing arranged for observation, transit complete at 
three a.m." 

Directly the train b^an to move Ahmed took one of 
the books he had bought that morning out of his pocket. 
It was a volume of Schiller's plays, the play which came 
first being *' Maria Stuart," a tragedy; and so engrossed 
did the young man become in this dramatic story that 
he lost all consciousness of the outside world until the 
train drew up with a jerk in the brilliantly lighted 
station at Mittelburg. A few minutes later he was 
driving away over the trampled snow towards the stables 
of Wilhelmsbrunn, where he gave the stove to the head 
groom, telling him to have it placed in the big family 
waggon, which was to be used that night, and to have it 
lighted at once. From the stables he drove on to the 
palace; and, after seeing that the servants had brought 
the other two packages up to his room, he hurried 
off, bag still in hand, to see whether his patient had 



improved during the day. When Elsa met him with a 
grave face, he Imew at once that the Countess had lost, 
rather than gained, ground. But he had not been 
altogether unprepared for finding her weaker that 
evening; he had, in fact, brought with him an apparatus 
with which he hoped, for the time being, to restore her 
impaired vitality. Ahmed opened the bag, which he 
never allowed any one else to touch, and the nurse 
drew near to help him. But he would not allow her 
to do so, saying that he required no assbtance, while 
she was obviously in need of rest. " Gro and lie down 
for three hours," he said. *'I shan't want you until 
ten o'clock. We start about eleven. You will be 

" Yes," she answered, in a low voice, adding, after a 
slight pause, as though the words had escaped her; 
" but, Ahmed, b it safe ? " 

"Perfectly," he replied; "when you come back you 
will see a great change in the patient. As far as the 
journey is concerned you may make your mind quite 
easy, Elsa." 

" And afterwards ? ** 

" We must hope for the best." 

" If the worst were to happen it would kill the Grand 

"Yes," said Ahmed, softly; "if his wife were to die, 
he would take it greatly to heart, no doubt. There- 
fore we must contrive to keep her alive, no matter 
what happens. Remember that, Elsa! And now, 

He enforced his request by pointing towards the 
door, and Elsa, falling under the spell of that calm 


reposeful manner, which never failed to inspire her 
with confidence, crept quietly from the room. 

When the nurse returned, she found Countess Lich- 
tenthal asleep, and Elsa knew, from the regularily of 
her breathing, that the patient was wonderfully better 
than when she had left her. It seemed almost as if 
the doctor had put new blood into those flaccid veins. 
Turning towards him with a look of adnuration in her 
eyes, she became aware of the presence of the Grand 
Duke, who was sitting huddled up in an arm-chair by 
the fireplace. He had come to take leave of his be- 
loved; but the Countess, being again in a lethargy, 
induced by the powerful soporific which Ahmed had 
previously administered, had not recognised him. As 
he sat there gazing into the fire, he was torn by con- 
tending emotions; sorrow at having to part with her 
like this, and fear that he might never see her alive 
again; but stronger than either was the hope that she 
would be saved, as it were, by a miracle, and given 
back to him in all her matchless beauty. This young 
man had promised that it should be so, and he was 
backed by the greatest authority in Europe. He must, 
therefore, be allowed to do whatever he considered 
best, no matter how hard the suspense might be to bear. 

Elsa guessed what was passing in his mind, and she 
felt full of pity for him as he stood there, silently watch- 
ing their preparations. After everything else had been 
made ready, she helped Ahmed to shift the sleeping 
woman gently on to the litter, which was placed at the 
side of her bed, and to put the covering in position, so 
as to screen it all round, leaving only a small breathing 



space open. The next thing was to ascertain that the 
carriage had been brought round to the right place, 
and that it was sufficiently warm. To do this Ahmed 
had to go downstairs himself, and while the doctor was 
thus engaged, the Grand Duke walked across to where 
Elsa was standing and took her hand in his. He 
wished to express his gratitude to her for the sympa- 
thetic interest she had taken in the pati^it, but hb 
heart was too fuU for coherent utterance, so that he 
could only press her hand and murmur the words, 
**Be kind to her!" He felt that this injunction was 
quite imnecessaiy, that the Madonna-like nurse could 
not be unkind to any one; stiU, though the words spoken 
in no way expressed his meaning, the look with whicn 
they were accompanied conveyed to Elsa that in some 
sp^M maimer he entrusted his wife to her care. But 
while she was glad to find he had so much faith in her, 
she felt that it involved a new and terrible responsibility. 
The moment had come to move the pati^it, for 
Ahmed now returned with the two men whom he had 
previously instructed how to carry a litter. With his 
assistance they lifted it up from the bed, and walked 
slowly oflF with it, keeping well out of step. They were 
preceded by Ahmed, and followed by the Grand Duke 
and Elsa, together with the Countess's two maids, who 
were weeping bitterly, while the other servants stood 
aside, in a mournful attitude, to let them pass. It was 
quite dark under the colonnade, and torches were held 
aloft by the foresters, in order that the bearers of the 
litter might see their way. But outside the white park 
was battled in a pale flood of moonlight Ahmed 
quickly had the litter suspended from the big flat roof 



of the carriage, and when Elsa had taken her place 
beside it, he closed the door, having first made sure 
that nothing had been left behind. Then, after bow- 
ing ceremoniously to his Royal Highness, he climbed 
on to the box and gave the coachman the signal to start. 

Having been already told the road he was to travel, 
and the distance he was expected to make, the driver 
at once settled his spl^idid pair of black-browns into a 
steady trot which they kept up with ease. Neverthe- 
less, nearly two hours elapsed before they reached the 
hiU on the Wilhelmsbrunn side of Ober Karlsdorf . As 
they got to the top Ahmed was glad to see a man riding 
along towards them, and leading an extrahorse. The 
grand ducal coachman seemed a little hurt when he 
was informed that he might now take his pair quietly 
back to the stable; but he set to work cheerfully to 
unharness his horses. Soon the bays were in their 
place, and Ahmed, mounting on the box with the ostler 
by his side, drove off down the hill. 

After passing the village, Ahmed pulled up and told 
the ostler to hold the horses for a mom^it. He then 
w^it to the door of the carriage, and asked Elsa how 
she and her charge had borne the journey so far. But, 
on being assured that all was weU, he did not go away 
at once, for, taking a small brush and a bottle contain- 
ing some thick dark fluid from his pocket, he first 
painted over the royal crown which was emblazoned 
on the panel of the door. When this had been done, 
he mounted the box, gathered up the reins, and, having 
given the stableman two thalers for his master and 
another twenty^mark piece for himself, drove off again, 
leaving him thoroughly contented with his night's 



work. Nor was the doctor less pleased with the way 
in which his orders had been carried out» and in which 
eveiything had gone exactly as he had planned. Above 
all the moon served him well, and was stiU bright when 
he walked his horses up the zigzag road which led to the 
heights above Zwimau. It was, therefore, with a feeling 
of perfect satisfaction that he drew up at the ^itrance 
to von Baltzan's apartments in the Castle of Hoh^i- 
Zwimau just as the abbey clock was striking three. 

** To the moment," said the Governor, who had come 
out directly he heard the sound of wheels. *^ Driving 
yourself, too; you must be frozen, doctor." 

He was accompanied by his two soldier-servants, 
and a groom ran forward from the adjoining stable to 
catch the horses' heads. But, before Ahmed allowed 
the m^i to approach the litter, he pulled the hood well 
down over the face of its occupant. The Governor 
himself then led the way up his own private staircase 
and through an iron door into the infirmary. Fol- 
lowing him the two men turned into a large but well- 
heated room on the right of the corridor, and^ having 
placed the litter on a b^, silently retired. Von Baltzan 
was about to copy their example when he came face to 
face with Elsa, and was so obviously captivated by her 
appearance that the doctor, after a moment's hesita- 
tion, made them known to each other. Whereupon 
von Baltzan overwhelmed Fraulein Hartvig with com- 
plim^its, declaring that he was then and always at her 
service. Elsa, however, took so little notice of his 
polite attentions that he made no attempt to prolong 
them, and withdrew, as soon as he had giv^i Ahmed a 
letter which Meissener had left for him. 



The doctor then put a big screen round the door, so 
that on one opening it would see mto the room; and 
having uncovered the litter, with Elsa's help quietly 
lifted the sleeping woman on to the bed. He found 
the pulse still quick, but steadier and stronger than it 
had been wh^i he returned from Licipzig. The jour- 
ney, therefore, had not hurt her, and, if she got over 
the shock of finding herself in strange surroundings as 
well, any danger from it might be said to have passed. 
But as he looked round the bare whitewashed waUs 
and up at the deep-set barred windows, Ahmed was 
not without a feeling of misgiving. It was further 
strengthened by Elsa's asking him, in an awe-struck 
whisper, if the place were a prison. He had to admit 
that it was attached to one. 

*^That woman is here, then!'' she said quickly. 

** Yes," he replied. 

** This is what you had in your mind when you wrote 
to me, Ahmed ? " 

*" Well, to a certain eictent. I had hoped to keep the 
poor creature alive, though. However, as that was 
not possible, I must make the best use I can of her 
when she is dead." 

Elsa shuddered; she had grown familiar with horrors 
during her hospital experience, but there was some- 
thing so ghoulish about this that it seaii an involuntary 
thriU of revulsion through her whole body. She realised 
for the first time, that there were depths in Ahmed 
which she could not fathom. She did not in her heart 
believe him capable of cold-blooded cruelty, and yet it 
seemed to her, as it had seemed to von Baltzan, that 
he must be Inhuman, if he could mutilate the corpse 



of a woman he had admired. Utterly miable to find 
the key to the apparent contradictions between the 
young man's actions and his character, she said nothing 
more at the time; but went to the room which had 
been set apart for her, to change her travelling cloth^, 
so that she might be able to come on duty again 

Ahmed, left to himself, sat down by the bedside, and 
opening Meissener's letter b^an to read it 

**My dear colleague," the doctor wrote, **I must 
once more thank you for the much-needed holiday 
which your kindness permits me to take. Wh^iever 
you wish to recall me, you have only to tel^raph to 
the address of my brother-in-law. Baron Kaunitz, 
Berlin W., Matthaikirchstrasse 16, and I will be back 
in twelve hours. Not that you will find your duties 
heavy, as there are very few prisoners, none of whom 
are at present on the sick-list. If any of them com- 
plain of being ill, you may get a hint from my case- 
book as to what is the matter with them. Generally 
it turns out to be either liver or malingering, but it is 
sometimes both of these combined, as each tends to 
bring on the other. However, you will devote most of 
your time to Marie Schiiler, and I am glad to report 
that I left her at eight o'clock in a fairly satisfactory 
state. I gave her a stiff sleeping-draught last night, 
which had the desired effect, and I have given her 
another not quite so strong this evening. But I believe 
your presence is more likely to prevent the woman 
from becoming melancholy mad than any drugs would 
ever be. At any rate, you have my cordial good 
wishes in your self-appointed task. — With reiterated 



best thanks, I have the honour to be, your most obe- 
dient servant, Adolph Meissener, Doc. Med. Pogt- 
scriptum. — The enclosed pass-kqr opens every door 
in Uie infirmary, where you will be entirely your own 

The young man's forehead was drawn into a frown 
when he came to the final words. ** His own master ? ** 
he thought; *'yes, he meant to be that now!** After 
eliminating Dr. Engelbrecht and the sisters of mercy, 
and even tlie Professor himself, from the case, he would 
scarcely let any one else interfere with his treatment of 
it The Grand Duke would not attempt to do so, for 
he had promised to be content with a daily bulletin. 
And, though Herr von Baltzan regarded the proposed 
operation with the utmost disfavour, he would not dare 
to act contrary to an express command. As Ahmed 
was turning these things over in his mind, he suddenly 
became conscious of the fact that Countess Lichtenthal 
had awakened. On looking at her he saw that she 
had apparently remained quite still; she had, however, 
opened her eyes, and her gaze had been slowly wan- 
dering round the room; while an expression of bewil- 
derment came into her drawn features. But a peaceful 
smile took its place when the doctor leaned over towards 
her and whispered the one word, ^Fotheringay." 



Ahmed's first care in the morning, after a few hours' 
rest, was to visit the end ward. Marie had never been 
out of his thoughts for one moment since he had last 
seen her, and it was with a feeUng of trepidation that 
he knocked gently at the door. Knowing that success 
entirely depended on her preserving the balance of her 
mind, and that the least jar might snap the slender 
thread by which her reason hung, he was filled with 
vague fears. However, when Frau Schmidt, who had 
been told he would take over M eissener's duties from 
that day, let him in, he experi^iced an immediate 
sense of relief. Marie had risen already, and Was 
braiding her long yellow hair with her accustomed 
neatness; moreover, she recognised him at once. ** You 
have kept your words," she said, catching sight of his 
face in the glass, and looking round. 

*^You did not doubt that I would?" he asked. 

**No!" she said, in a tone of unconcern, turning her 
back to him again, and tying up one of her long plaits 
with a piece of ribbon. Seeing that she was about to 
bind up her hair, he said, as though the idea had just 
occurred to him, **Why don't you arrange it high on 
your head, Matuschka? It would look better!" 

** You think so ? " she replied, glancing in the mirror, 
and twisting the plaits tc^ether. Then with two or 



three deft turns she formed them into a heavy coQ well 
up on the back of her head. 

"" That's ever so much better/' said Ahmed, when 
she looked at him again as if inviting his approval 
'"Isn't it, Frau Schmidt?" he added, turning towards 
the attendant. 

" Yes," said she, after surveying Marie critically for 
a little while. ** It gives her less the air of a country 
woman, and more that of a gracious lady." 

""She is right, Matuschka; you have the look of a 
great lady now!" said the doctor, with an accent of 
intense gratification. 

'"Really?" asked Marie, coquettishly, glancing at 
the mirror again in a self-satisfied manner. 

"Of course," he replied quickly, "you always were 
like one, and you have only put on the air of a peasant 
girl, because it was in character with your dancing. 
But you don't care about poor people, do you, Ma- 
tuschka? You prefer to read about the great?" 

"I like to hear what they do best!" 

" Well, I have brought you some books that are all 
about princes and princesses, and love-making and 
duels. Will you read them ? " 

"That I will!" 

"Very good!" he said, handing her two or three 
richly illustrated volumes which the Licipzig bookseller 
had recommended to him. "Here they are!" Then 
pointing to one of them, he added in a soft persuasive 
tone: "B^in with this; it is the story of a beautiful 
lady who marries a prince. Try to put yourself in her 
place; you ought not to find it hard." 

Marie smiled as she took the volumes from him; and, 



spreading the book he had indicated out on her lap, 
she was soon absorbed in the pictures. 

*' If she reads that," he thought, "' it will distract her 
from her sourroundings;" while, with a nod to Frau 
Schmidt, who had resumed her interminable knitting, 
he silently left the room. 

His next business was to pay a visit to the prison 
proper. Lictting himself in by his pass-key to the 
gallery, he made his way to the chief warder's office. 

Herr Holtzmann sprang to his feet on seeing Ahmed; 
but expressed no surprise, since he too had been in- 
formed that the Licipzig surgeon would take Dr. Meis- 
sener's place for a time. He had no cases of illness to 
report, and was glad to say that, for the moment, all 
was well. His assistants could certainly not complain 
of being overworked, as there was hardly anything for 
them to do. 

** There was no need of a big new building in such a 
dead-and-alive place as this, sir," he said; ^our old 
quarters in the castle would have done well enough. 
But, after the last prison congress in Petersburg, the 
Grand Duke sent a Herr Sanitatsrat to visit us, and he 
insisted that, unless we were moved at once, we should 
all die of gaol fever. They built this wing for us then, 
on a plan the doctors declared was a model of comfort 
But all I can say, sir, with respect to your colleagues, 
is that I have been a martyr to rheumatism ever 

Ahmed let the chief warder talk on unchecked, for 
he was anxious to get on good terms with him, and had 
sufficient knowledge of men to know that nothing has a 
greater effect on them than a sympathetic attitude 



towards their grievances. There was also one pos- 
sibility which he rather dreaded. 

He did not want to see Mnischko; and wished, 
therefore, that if the condemned man had any recur- 
rence of his chronic trouble, the nature of which he 
guessed, to be able to send him Meissener's usual 
prescription, without being called upon to pay him a 
visit. This was a matter which would rest to a large 
extent with Holtzmann; for that reason, Ahmed went 
carefully into the chief warder's symptoms, and told 
him exactly what to eat and what to avoid. He also 
promised to send him some saline tablets which would 
act like a charm upon his rheumatism. But, perhaps, 
what pleased Holtzmann most was the information 
that his malady was of a different character to the 
ordinary ailment, being known to the faculty as ** Rheu- 
matoid Arthritis." Holtzmann showed his satisfaction 
by the solemn manner in which he asked the doctor to 
pronounce this new name for his complaint again; and 
Ahmed saw that he had made a firm friend of the chief 
warder, who was not now likely to disturb him without 
serious cause, and Mnischko's trouble was not of a 
serious nature. At the door Ahmed paused a second, 
and then, slipping a hundred-mark note into the chief 
warder's hand, told him to see that the condemned 
man did not want for any little comforts which the 
rules permitted. 

*'Ah, doctor," said Holtzmann, with a grin, '"that 
will do him more good than Herr Meissener's mixture ! " 
adding, as he smoothed out the stiff slip of paper, ^it's 
a prescription he couldn't make up." 

Having thus quickly discharged his formal duties. 


Ahmed returned to the business on which his attention 
was centred. On Altering the ward where the Countess 
was lying, he found that Elsa again looked grave. 
The patient's pulse was considerably weaker, and her 
temperature somewhat below normal. Every indica- 
tion of the danger of a rapid collapse was present, not 
so markedly, perhaps, as on the previous evening, but 
the means he had used to avert it then were no longer 
available. However, if the blood-pressure could not 
be again restored by an infusion of salt-water, there 
were other methods of stimulating the heart's action, 
and Ahmed's resources would not be exhausted until 
they had all been tried. He had, therefore, no inmoie- 
diate fear for the patient's life; nevertheless he was 
not without a keen sense of disappointment. And, 
as he mentally ticked off the days, he asked himself 
whether her strength would hold out till the date fixed 
for the execution. 

He came to the conclusion that, provided extreme 
care were taken of her, she ought to last for another 
eleven days, but it would be chiefly due to the way in 
which she was nursed. This reflection reminded him 
how much he owed already to the watchfulness of Elsa, 
and how much he still relied on her help. He felt that 
he had been in a manner n^lecting her of late. It 
was not likely that she would fancy herself slighted by 
his devoting his entire attention to the patient; but, if 
she guessed that his thoughts had been occupied by 
that other woman, she would most certainly be indig- 
nant. And how could he tell that she had not guessed ? 
She had been quick to read his thoughts before. It 
seemed strange, too, that she had said nothing when 


she heard Marie was in this very place. Had she 
ceased to be jealous of her, he wondered, now that the 
end was so close at hand ? 

Elsa had remained silent also this morning ; even now 
that she was going, she only whispered ** Good-bye!'' 
Ahmed followed her, and when they were outside the 
door, put his arms round her and drew her to him. 
She looked back, uttering a low ciy of alarm, which he 
stifled with a kiss. But there was no responsive warmth 
in Elsa's lips, as she tried gently to free herself from 
his embrace. 

Releasing her at once, the young man said in a Ume 
of reproach, *' You are not angiy with me ? ** 

*' Oh, no," she answered rapidly, with an accent of 
distress, '"only you took me by surprise, and I was 
afraid that some one might see us." 

** You used not to think of others when I kissed you." 

*' It was different th^i, Ahmed : we had only ourselves 
to think of. But we are bound to consider others now; 
we are in a position of trust" 

*'Of course we are!" he repUed, shrugging his 

"Yes, but " 



Elsa shook her head as she said this, and turning 
away from him went into her room on the opposite 
side of the corridor. 

"' What can she mean ? " thought Ahmed, as he slowly 
re-entered the ward. There was that in her tone, 
though she had spoken lightly, which pointed to some 
deep-rooted conviction; and if she had merely intended 



to allude to the paramount duty that a doctor owes to 
his patient, why had she hesitated? Soon, however, 
he ceased to puzzle over what the real significance of 
Elsa's words had been, for he had several more pressing 
problems to solve. Above all, there were two sources 
of imminent danger; on the one hand, the critical state 
of Marie's mind, and on the other, Countess Lichten- 
thal's great physical weakness, both of which condi- 
tions required the most delicate treatment. In the 
first case he could almost count on preventing any 
further mental disturbance by the use of suggestion, 
while in the second he expected that an equally good 
result would be produced by the same means, only in 
this case the suggestion must come from the patient 
herself. Still if he were so fortunate as to succeed in 
both cases, he had yet to face a difficult and complicated 

In order to perform this operation with assurance of 
success, the subject would have to be kept in a state of 
complete insensibility to pain for a prolonged period. 
And Ahmed felt that, to obtain perfectly favourable 
conditions, it would be advisable to use the newly dis- 
covered anaesthetic, but first he would have to try the 
action of the drug upon a human being; and he, tiiere- 
fore, came to the conclusion that this ought to be done 
at once. If the initial experiment proved inconclusive, 
it might then be repeated, allowing an interval between 
the injections, which could not take place close to- 
gether, for fear that the efiFect of the poison should be 

During the day, when not actively engaged in at- 
tending to his pati^it, Ahmed busied himself with the 



study of certain note-books which contained a detailed 
account of various experim^its which he had made, 
under the new anaesthetic, upon a large number of 
highly organised animals. With the aid of the data 
thus collected he worked out roughly what the maxi- 
mum strength of the injection should be in the case of 
a man; and once he had settled this all-important point 
to his own satisfaction, with characteristic self-conmiand 
he dismissed the matter from his mind. 

The doctor then resumed his interrupted reading of 
SchiUer's play, and was quickly engrossed in the tragic 
fifth act. No doubt many of its beauties escaped him; 
but he was too much interested in the stoiy, of which 
he had scarcely known the outlines, to find it dull. 
By the time he had finished this it was dusk; but he 
sat for a long while without lighting the lamp. He 
could understand now the hold that such a part might 
obtain over the imagination of a sensitive actress. 
What was more probable, therefore, than that, in any 
sudden reverse of fortune, she might id^itify herself 
with this much-persecuted lady? Thus musing, he 
was startled by hearing among the words, which the 
Countess continued to mutter to herself when free 
from pain, some of those that he had been reading. 

'"Be calm, Hanna! These baubles do not make a 
queen." She was going through her part from the 
first entrance; and she seemed to know that he was 
Ibtening, for she spoke the lines far more clearly than 
usual, and with such a nice appreciation of their value 
that before long the doctor's ^es were moist with tears. 
It was only when, her voice gradually growing faint, 
she at last lapsed mto silence, that Ahmed perceived 



that his suggestion had abeady borne fruit. Even 
then the thought was too greatly tinged with sadness 
to leave any room for a sense of triumph. In this 
sombre frame of mind he lighted the lamp and turned 
to the task of writing his daily report to the Grand 
Duke. But the fact that his heart was full of pity for 
the Countess made it all the harder to find words of 
comfort for her husband. 

Ahmed was still writing wh^i the nurse returned. 

"'You have come back sooner than I expected, 
Elsa," he said, looking up at her. 

*'I have rested long enough," she answered. 

*' Well," said the doctor, bringing his letter to a close 
and sealing it up, *' I am glad you are here now because 
you can go off all the earlier. I don't believe you have 
slept veiy much lately, and you must get a little more 
fresh air. You wiU take a good walk to-morrow after- 

He had spoken the last sentence in a tone of com- 
mand, but so kindly that Elsa was touched by his evi- 
dent solicitude for her health. She could not help feeling 
also that she had wronged him in her thoughts of late; 
and on this account she was anxious to make amends 
for her coldness to him that morning. But they had 
fallen back into their relations of doctor and nurse; 
this then was not the time for personal explanation, 
especially as he had turned his attention to the patient. 
As she watched his gentleness in handling the wounded 
surface and in applying the fresh gauze, she was still 
more ashamed of her doubts. She had often seen him 
at work before, but never with an air of greater devo- 
tion to the task m hand. 



On reflection, therefore, Elsa felt sure that, whatever 
the risks of operating might be, Ahmed was right to 
incur them, and that he would do nothing without 
taking every possible precaution. She had a strik- 
ing proof of this shortly; for, wh«i the doctor had 
finished the dressing and had made a final examina- 
tion of his patient, he drew Elsa aside, saying, ^I 
want you to help me to-night in an experim«it I am 

The nurse murmured that she would be glad to do 
anything she could, and he continued — ^ I am going 
to give myself a dose of the anaesthetic I used in the 
case of our Fritzch«i, and I want you to look in at the 
surgery once or twice to see how it acts." 

'" But are you sure it is safe, Ahmed ? " she asked, in 
a tone of great anxiety. 

-One is never sure of anything," he replied ^th a 
smile, ** only the Professor and I have so much faith in 
our discovery that we intend to give it a trial. I want 
to employ this extract," he added, taking the cherished 
phial from his pocket, '^in my forthcoming operation; 
and it is first necessary to see how the drug acts on the 
human body. I propose to test that thoroughly to- 
night, and all I require you to do is to find out if am I 
in the least d^ree sensible to pain during the first four 
hours after the injection." 

'"Ahmed," she cried, unable to suppress her fears, 
'"have you thought how much depends on your life? 
The safety of your patient, and — and — " But she 
could not complete the sentence, as her voice died 
away in her throat. 

""Yes," he said calmly, placing his hand on her 



shoulder. ^But the thing has to be done, and you 
must help me." 

** Of course I will do that," she replied. 

^ Thank you, Elsa! I shall take the stuff about 
midnight, and you will find me lying on the couch in 
there," he said, pointing in the direction of the suigeiy. 
** Whai you come to see me, I want you to apply the 
tenninab of an electric batteiy you wiU fin/ 'on the 
table to these muscles," and he touched the side of his 
face. "If they do not contract, you will then know 
that the anaesthesia is deep-seated. It ought to pass 
off by about four o'clock." 

Ahmed went towards the door, but, turning as he 
came to the screen round it, he looked back, and said 
in a quiet matter-of-fact tone, " If it shouldn't, you will 
find a paper on the table containing directions what 
to do." 

Yet in spite of the casual manner in which he had 
spoken these last words, Elsa felt that he had realised 
how serious his danger was. For a long while she sat 
shivering with terror, and it was only with a great effort 
that she at length recovered her self-possession. What- 
ever happened, she determined to carry out his orders, 
and if anything went wrong not to lose her head. 

After Ahmed had seen the Governor and given him 
his letter for the Grand Duke, with a word of thanks 
for the way in which all his wants had been anticipated, 
he went at once to the end ward. There he was 
delighted to learn from the attendant, who had replaced 
Frau Schmidt, that Marie had read herself to sleep 
with her picture book. On hearing this piece of good 
news he declined to go inside, as he had no wish to 



disturb her; and walked softly away towards the 

For some little time the doctor busied himself about 
the room, making up the fire for the night. He then 
changed the clothes he had been wearing all day for a 
more comfortable suit, and put on a flannel shirt, with 
a loose collar, so that his breathing would be perfectly 
free. The next thing to be done was to write out the 
instructions he had promised to leave for Elsa; and to 
put what she might need within her reach. 

When all these preparations were finished, Ahmed 
looked at his watch and found that it marked a few 
minutes to twelve. Seeing that the hour for his ex- 
periment had nearly arrived, he rinsed a hypodermic 
syringe in boiling water; then he poured some distilled 
water into a measuring glass, and added to it, drop by 
drop, a minute quantity of the volatile fluid contained 
in his sealed tube. After comparing the amount of 
the drops he had counted with the difference shown 
by the scale engraved on the tube, he re-sealed it care- 
fully, and put it back in its case. Sitting down on the 
sofa, he next wound up his watch and placed it open 
on the table by his side, along with a small electric 
battery, a flask of brandy, some glass capsules in a 
bottle, and a sheet of notepaper on which were a few 
boldly written lines. Nothing more remained for him 
now to do, but to fill the syringe, and hold it in his 
hand until the clock struck. 

Up to that moment he had been too busy to think 
about anything except what he was doing; but in the 
brief space, during which he waited for the hands of 
his watch to point together to the hour, Elsa's words 



recurred to him. Was he justified, he thought, in 
taking any risk, wh«i so much depended upon him? 
And once again he answered the question in the affirm- 
ative. For, in order that the operation which he had 
in view should be entirely successful, it was necessary 
that it should be performed single-handed. He would, 
therefore, require much more time than it was possible 
to obtain by the use of ordinary anaesthetics. It was 
then essential that he should use the new drug, and to 
do this with absolute security he must make a prelim- 
inary trial of it on himself. So no sooner did the first 
stroke of midnight sound from the abbey tower than 
Ahmed plunged the needle under his skin, and slowly 
pressed the piston home. 

The action of the drug was not so swift as to prevent 
him from replacing his syringe, and stretching himself 
in an easy attitude on the couch. But though he had 
no sudd«i sensation of paralysis, before long the objects 
in the room grew indistinct, and then it seemed to the 
\ ^AAOg man as though he were being borne swiftly aloft 

After a little while this fancy took a definite form, 
and he imagined that bearers were carrying him up 
the slopes of a great mountain in his own land, far up 
above the snow-line, to a height where the air was 
wonderfully pure, but oh! — so difficult to breathe — 
though one seemed almost to float in it, one's body felt 
so light — and all around it was still — dead still. 

T^«i Elsa crept into the surgery, at about half-past 
twelve, Ahmed was lying motionless with his head 
thrown back, and his limbs extended stiffly. But on 
listening to his heart she discovered that it was beating 
regularly. However, the muscles of his face remained 

' 2S2 


quiescent wh«i she stimulated them with the electric 
current, though wh«i she excited those in the ball of 
her thumb it twitched violently. He was, therefore, 
in a state of complete insensibility, and the nurse could 
see no cause for alarm so far. She went back to the 
ward in a less anxious frame of mind; but as a pre- 
caution, took with her the paper of instructions, so that 
she might study them at her ease. 

The Countess had fallen into light slumber, and 
Elsa was able to leave her every now and th«i with an 
easy consci«ice, and during the next three hours she 
paid several visits to the surgery, without remarking 
any particular change in the doctor's condition. But 
as four o'clock approached, she expected that his facial 
muscles would again gradually respond to the electric 
current. Yet not only did this not happen, but his 
breathing became shallow and gasping, while the 
heart's action was perceptibly weaker. 

Soon also Elsa was horrified to see his face grow 
livid, and his eyes congested, while a thin froth spread 
itself over his lips. She knew then that there was not 
a moment to be lost; and without getting flurried, she 
at once set to work to bring Ahmed back to conscious- 
ness. Directly she had wiped the foam from his 
mouth, she undid his collar and turned his shirt back. 
She next pulled his tongue well forward, and breaking 
one of the glass capsules in a handkerchief held it to 
his nose. When this had been done, she ran to the 
window and threw it open; then, fetching some cold 
water, she dashed it in the young man's face. But as 
he still gave no sign of life, Elsa realised that she must 
have assistance. Therefore, she went quickly down 



the passage, and knocked at the first door she came to. 
After a slight pause she was answered by Fraulein 
Finke in a drowsy voice; however, as soon as she under- 
stood what was wanted of her, the woman promised to 
come at once. 

Elsa hurried away to the ward, and, having made 
sure that the Countess was still asleep, turned out the 
lamp; then, locking the door after her, she went quickly 
back to the suigery, where she was joined before long 
by Fraulein Finke. Acting under Elsa's directions, 
she alternately dragged the doctor's arms back above 
his head and pressed them close to his sides, while Elsa 
herself made use of the battery to stimulate his respira- 
tion. After what seemed to both of them an age, they 
heard the welcome sound of the air being drawn into 
his lungs, and by degrees he began to breathe again. 
Their next care was to keep him perfectly quiet, and 
as soon as it was possible induce him to swallow a big 
dose of brandy. But it was a long while before he 
became conscious of what was going on around him. 
His face even then remaining deadly pale, and his 
pupils dilated. 

At last, however, satisfied that aU danger had passed, 
Elsa was able to let Fraulein Finke resume her broken 
night's rest, after thanking her for the prompt aid she 
had rendered. Left alone with Ahmed, Elsa endeav- 
oured to restore his circulation by wrapping him in 
blankets, and she was rewarded shortly by seeing the 
colour return to his pallid lips. 

His first thought when he came fully to himself was 
of her. " Elsa," he whbpered, " but for you I should 
be dead." 



Then for an instant her presence of mind vanished, 
and bending down she pressed her warm Ups against 
his. ** I only carried out your instructions/' she said 
softly, ** and, thank Heaven, you did not die." 

A moment later he suddenly rose up with a look of 
grave apprehension in his face. ** But how long have 
you been here ? " he asked, in a hoarse voice. 

"Over an hour!** 

" Then some one may have seen the Countess.*' 

**No; I locked the door." 

** Elsa ! '* he cried, in a tone of admiration, and with a 
sigh of inmiense relief, sank back on the couch ex- 



Eii3A did not get the walk, which the doctor had ordered 
her, that day, it being quite dark before Ahmed came 
to take her place. Since the crisis of the morning, he 
had slept for several hours, and on waking long after 
noon he had found that the depression caused by the 
poison had almost entirely disappeared. Still he 
allowed himself to be persuaded by the nurse, to take 
a turn in the open air himself, so that he might shake 
off the effects of the drug altogether. 

After a brisk walk Ahmed returned to the prison 
with his mental faculties no longer dulled. And he 
soon had reason to be glad that this was so. For, on 
going to the end ward, he found Marie in a violently 
disturbed state of mind. Directly she saw him she 
ran towards him and clinging to him, exclaimed, *' You 
are safe then ! But why didn't you come this morn- 
ing ? I was afraid you were ill." These words were 
followed by an outburst of hysteria, and Ahmed felt that 
he would have to exercise the fullest power of his will 
to cahn her. Knowing that it was useless to ask the 
excited woman any questions, he turned for an explana- 
tion to Frau Schmidt, who informed him that the at- 
tendant on duty during the night had told her that the 
prisoner had awakened in a fright about four o'clock, 
as if from a bad dream. And, though this had passed 



off after a time, Marie had been very restless ever since, 
seeming to be alarmed about something or somebody. 
*'It would look almost," she added, ^as though she 
was anxious on your account, sir." 

"Yes," said the doctor, ** it docs look like that" 
"And it's hardly strange if she were, when you 
didn't come to see her," remarked the woman, widi a 
meaning smUe. 

" I was prevented from paying her a visit this morn- 
ing," said Ahmed, omitting to point out that Marie's 
anxiety b^an long before the hour at which she could 
reasonably have expected to see him. He had no wish 
to enlighten Frau Schmidt as to the intimate psychic 
relations which existed between him and her charge, 
though in his own mind he had no doubt what had 
caused the phenomenon of the early morning. Evi- 
dently his influence had reasserted itself over Marie, 
and so long as he was at no great distance she would 
possess a subconscious knowledge of his presence. 
But when his vital forces began to decline, she would 
inmiediately become conscious that something she 
looked to for support was slipping away from her. It 
was an interesting, if not uncommon, experience; and 
very welcome to Ahmed, since it rendered his task all 
the easier. But his active energies were at once di- 
rected to soothing Marie's passionate though shallow 
emotions. The woman rocked to and fro under the 
stress of the nerve-storm to which she had abandoned 
herself: possibly not without a certain sense of pleasure. 
However, Ahmed took care not to touch her, knowing 
that direct contact would only aggravate her hysteria. 
But, lifting both hb hands above her head, he lowered 



them gently until they were within less than an inch of 
her hair; he then passed them slowly over it and on 
downwards, following the outline of her form; and 
then, with a wide sweep up, he raised them again to 
their first position. This movement he repeated 
several times, without any apparent effect; but, at 
length, she ceased to sway her body and gradually 
became quite silent. 

When Ahmed had looked at her steadily for a little 
while, her arms dropped to her sides, and she half- 
closed her eyes. 

^Matuschka, you should b^ Frau Schmidt's par- 
don for making such a scene," said he, in a tone of 
admonition, as though reproving a fractious child. 

**I am sorry, very sorry!** she replied, with a far-off 
sound in her voice. 

** There's no need to be," said the attendant, good- 
naturedly ; " I imderstood what upset you, my dear." 

Marie paid no attention to the words which were 
meant so kindly; but, turning away, went over to the 
stove and sat down in her usual chair. 

*' She has forgotten all about it," said Ahmed, with a 
gesture of apology. " We had best leave her to herself 
for the present," he added in a whisper, as, unnoticed 
by Marie, he quietly left the room. 

Elsa was standing at the table, bending over a spirit- 
lamp, when Ahmed entered. But she looked up as the 
door opened, and smiled with pleasure on seeing that 
the young man was quite himself again. He wanted 
to set her free at once, but she insisted playfully that she 
could not trust him with the cup of meat-extract she 
was preparing for the patient. From her tone he 



gathered that Elsa was now more confident about the 
Countess, and, as he found that the sick woman had 
rallied considerably, it was with a far lighter heart than 
on the previous evening that he sat down to write his 
report to the Grand Duke. Having put this in an 
unaddressed «iveIope, he asked Elsa to give it to von 
Baltzan, and then bade her good-night charging her 
solemnly not to return until next evening. For the 
following twenly-four hours Ahemd looked after his 
patient alone, and succeeded in maintaining the im- 
provement she had already made, though her vitality 
was still at a low ebb. He also contrived to retain his 
hold on the mind of the woman in the end ward, and 
when he mentally commanded Marie to centre her 
thoughts upon her book, he knew that she had at once 
obeyed. With the Countess, too, his suggestion had 
worked well; for not only did she seem oblivious of her 
actual surroundings, but the idea of her threatened 
disfigurement seemed to be fading, little by little, from 
her mind. 

At the appointed hour Elsa came back, looking all 
the better for her rest and a long tramp in the keen 
frosty air on the castle heights. But the doctor would 
not listen to her proposal that she should take some of 
his duty, and insisted that henceforth the nurse must 
do no more than her share of the work. In the morn- 
ing, therefore, he relieved her at six o'clock, forbidding 
her to return until the same hour that ev«iing. And 
in this manner they replaced one another each twelve 
hours for the next two days and nights, during which 
time there was no apparent change in the pati«it's 



On the third morning Ahmed informed Elsa that he 
would remain that day till midnight, when she would in 
turn have to take a watch of eighteen hours; so that, 
from the next evening, he should be on guard at night 
and she during the day. This process of reversing 
their hours gave the nurse a little longer time cm hand 
than usual, and having taken a great fancy to Fraulein 
Finke, Elsa thought she would like to have her as a 
companion. She, therefore, asked the first woman 
she met in the corridor if Nurse Finke was at liberty. 

**No," replied the attendant, **not till this evening." 

** That won't be any use; it will be dark again then," 
said Elsa, sorrowfully. " Can't she get oflF before ? ** 

*'No, she can't," said the woman, with a laugh, 
** Finke has only just gone on duty. Down there," she 
added, pointing back over her shoulder to the end ward; 
**she took my place." 

"Where is she?" asked Elsa. 

"^In the last room on your left; she's with the con- 
demned woman." And having said this, the prison 
nurse hurried off to her own quarters. Left thus 
abruptly to herself, Elsa hesitated for some time what 
to do next. There could then be no use in saying 
anything about a walk to Fraulein Finke; and yet Elsa 
turned instinctively towards the place to which the 
prison nurse had pointed. Some force, over which 
she had no control, seemed to drag her in that direction. 
But, as she stood irresolutely staring at the iron door of 
the end ward, she knew that she was impelled solely 
by a desire to see the woman in whom Ahmed took 
such a profound interest. Elsa felt that it would be 
weak of her to yield to this impulse; but nevertheless 



she yielded, and she knocked softly on the sliding panel 
of the door. After a little while it was drawn back, 
and Fraulein Finke's face appeared in the opening. 

''Oh, it's you, nurse," she said, with an accent of 

"Yes," stanunered Elsa. **I wanted you to come 
for a walk." 

*' It was very kind of you, but I can't to-day." 

"I know." 

"Still you thought you'd tell me." 


" I am glad you did, nurse. It's something to know 
that you remembered me." 

"I haven't forgotten how kind you were the other 

"Oh, that was no more than any one would have 
done. Besides the doctor did me a good turn once. 
If it hadn't been for him I'd have had a wild beast to 
look after. He's all right now, I hope ? " 

"Quite, thank you! Good-bye!" said Elsa, turning 
to go. 

" Stop a minute," exclaimed the attendant. " Don't 
run away without seeing Aer/" 

"Can I?" 

"Yes! I mayn't let you in; but I'll leave the grill 
open for a moment, and you can look through it." 
Fraulein Finke thereupon stepped aside; and Elsa, 
by putting her head close to the door, was able to see 
into the room. 

Her eyes at once became fixed on Marie, who was 
lying down reading by the light of an oil lamp. For 
some time Elsa could not see her face, but before long 



she glanced up from the book as she turned a page. 
And in a second the nurse's heart was filled with 

** Would any one look at me, who had ever seen her ? '* 
she asked herself. '' How could any man fail to admire 
such a face ? " she thought. "' So perfect, and yet unlike 
all other faces!'* Then a doubt suddenly flashed upon 
her: ** Was it so unlike all other faces? Surely there 
was one like it, a face which she knew. Yes, there 
could be no question that this woman bore an extraor- 
dinary resemblance to the Countess. It was strange 
that Ahmed had never alluded to it. Could it be that 
he had not seen the likeness ? " 

Reflecting that this was scarcely possible, since 
nothing so patent could escape the notice of such a 
practised observer, Elsa withdrew in silence and the 
panel was immediately closed. The same thoughts 
haunted her while she took a solitary walk that after- 
noon, causing her to wonder whether there was any 
connection between Ahmed's reticence about this like- 
ness and his dread that during her absence in the 
surgery some one might have seen Countess Lichten- 
thal. When Elsa returned to the ward at midnight, 
she had it in her mind to mention the subject to him if 
an opportunity arose. But the first words he spoke 
startled her so much that she forgot eveiyUiing 

** I am going to test that stuff again," he said calmly, 
as though it were a matter of course. ** But you need 
not be frightened, Elsa. I shall not take more than 
half the quantity. My only fear is that it will have 
no effect." 



''After the alarm it caused us last time, I do not 
think you ought to run such a risk," said she, in an 
anxious tone and with a look of reproach. 

Ahmed hastened to assure her that there was no risk 
whatever; so, as usual, she gave way, promising, with 
the best grace she could, to assist him once more. On 
this occasion, however, Ahmed's estimate of the action 
of the drug proved perfectly correct. For the nurse 
found that a smaller dose rendered him insensible, but 
did not produce relaxation of the muscles. And, on 
becoming conscious, he had been forced reluctantly to 
admit that this was not sufficient for his purpose. 
Doubtless, after a number of tests on various indi- 
viduals, it would be possible to ascertain the exact 
amount which, without endangering the life of the 
subject, gave complete aneesthesia. But he had not 
the time for such trials, and, so far as his forthcoming 
operation was concerned, the newly discovered drug 
would be of no use. This must seriously affect his 
plans, but it should not make them impracticable. 
Though in one important particular he would have to 
modify them, for he would now require the help of 

When Ahmed paid his usual morning visit to the end 
ward about eight o'clock he found Marie dozing, and 
not having met Fraulein Finke since the night on which 
she had been called up by Elsa, he took the opportunity 
to thank her for the prompt assistance she had ren- 
dered. He congratulated her also on the fact that the 
condenmed woman had become apparently indifferent 
to her fate, without relapsing into melancholia. Then 
he hurried off to see the chief warder, with whom he 



had been careful to keep in close touch. Heir Holtz- 
mann not only reported that aU was well in the prison^ 
but declared that the rheumatic pains in his joints were 
already beginning to disappear under the doctor's 
treatment. Ahmed, however, protested that the credit 
was entirely due to hb own perseverance. Where- 
upon they parted, on the best possible terms, Holtz- 
mann ushering the doctor out with as much ceremony 
as though he had been Baron von Baltzan himself. 

On getting back to the surgery Ahmed opened his 
pocket-book, and studied certain notes he had made in 
it. From one of these, written on the day of his journey 
to Leipzig, he found that there was a matter which 
needed immediate attention. He likewise verified the 
date of the execution, and mentally resolved to ask the 
Grovemor at what hour it would be carried out. Early, 
no doubt, so that the prisoner now had rather less than 
four days to live; and Ahmed felt that he had no time 
to lose in making his final preparations. 

Glad to be abroad in daylight once more, the young 
man walked with a swinging easy stride down towards 
the narrow streets of Zwimau. Hastening onwards he 
crossed the busy market-place, and turned into a street 
that led, through one of the dark stone gates, out to the 
big, yellow-brick railway-station. This was so full of 
country people bringing farm-produce to the city, that 
it was a long time before he could attract the attention 
of the official who presided over the parcels department. 
While he was waiting he had more than sufficient 
lebure to reflect upon the fact that it was from this very 
place that the trunk which held Giesecke's body had 
been despatched, and presumably by the people en- 



gaged in regbtering luggage at that moment At last, 
however, the important personage who sat in a little 
glass case writing out receipts glanced in Ahmed's 
direction, intimating that his turn had come. On 
being asked by the doctor if a parcel for him had ar- 
rived from Leipzig, he acknowledged that a box so 
addressed was in his possession. Only before giving it 
up he must satisfy himself that Ahmed was the person 
for whom it was intended. The doctor chafed visibly 
under this fresh delay; but he made no audible protest; 
and before long he convinced the departmental chief, by 
means of some old envelopes, that he was indeed the 
Dr. Ahmed to whom the parcel in question was directed. 
The great man thereupon waved his hand towards an 
oblong card-board case on a distant shelf, and imme- 
diately one of his satellites brought it to Ahmed, to- 
gether with a paper which must be signed before the 
box was taken away. 

*' You may open it first," said the porter, ** to see that 
the contents are not damaged." 

** Thank you; it isn't necessary," Ahmed replied. 

** No claim can be aUowed afterwards," growled the 
chief in a tone of warning. 

" None will be made ! '* 

Thus reassuring the mind of that exalted official, 
Ahmed marched off with the box under his arm, and 
walked straight back towards the castle, only stopping 
twice on the way. The first time he was compelled to 
do so by meeting Herr Ehrlich, who condoled with him 
on the rejection of their appeal to the Minister of 
Justice, at the same time asserting that they had done 
everything which was possible to save this woman's life. 



** You have done your part, Herr Ehrlich," said the 
doctor, solemnly. ** And I am doing what I can/* 

•* You are going to see her now?" 

**Yes; I have just come from the station." 

** You have some hope left ? " 

^ I shall not give up hoping until aU is over." 

** That's right, my friend!" exclaimed the Recht- 
sanwalt, grasping Ahmed's hand warmly. Guessing 
however, that the young man was impatient to be gone, 
he did not detain him any longer. 

The rate at which, in spite of his burden, Ahmed 
walked away showed that the lawyer had not been 
wrong. Yet, notwithstanding his evident desire to 
waste no more time, he spent a good quarter of an 
hour in the fashionable ladies' shop of Zwimau, over 
the choice of a little gift for Marie. The article he 
wanted, being one worn only in sunmier, was not on 
sale; but, as he refused every sort of substitute, the 
shop-girl contrived to find something of the kind among 
the last season's stock, though it had become so soiled 
that she was greatly surprised he bought it. 

Ahmed locked the door of his room before he began 
to unpack the cardboard case, labelled Madame Fuchs 
et Cie. And he was a long while comparing the two 
black velvet dresses it contained, in order to make sure 
that they were precisely similar. However, he was 
eventually persuaded that no one could detect any 
difference in them unless after looking into their details 
very closely; in short, that they were as much alike as 
it is possible for any two things to be which are fash- 
ioned by the human hand. 

Feelmg, therefore, that the dressmaker had weU 



earned her reward, he wrapped two hundred-mark 
notes in a blank sheet of paper and put them into an 
envelope, which he forthwith directed to Fraulein 
Fuchs, so that he might have it ready to post next day. 
For he could not spare the time to go out again that 
afternoon, and, simple as it seemed, this was a matter 
which he preferred to do himself. His next task was 
to refold the dresses in the tissue paper with which 
they had been carefully covered. Then, after locking 
one of them up in an empty drawer of Dr. Meissener's 
bureau, he placed the other back in the box. When 
he had packed this in its original wrapper and corded 
it, he unlocked his door and went into the surgery, 
taking the parcel with him. 

Ahmed put the box down on a chair as he hurried 
through the room, a glance at his watch having warned 
him that it was high time for his promised visit to the 
end ward. It had already grown dusk, and he found 
Marie sitting in her usual place by the stove, apparently 
lost in thought. 

'" Fraulein told me you would come back," she said, 
with an accent of reproach. *'But I had begun to 
think that she must be mistaken." 

"No," replied Ahmed, in a cheerful tone; ** Fraulein 
Finke was right. I said that I would return, and here 
I am. I have brought something with me too, some- 
thing for some one who is in a good temper." 

*' What is it ? Show it to me quickly." 

"Here it is," he said, handing her the smaU packet 
he had bought in the town. " But you won't be able 
to see it." 

"I asked Fraulein not to light the lamp for a little 



while," explained Marie. ^ I wanted to sit and think 
about what I have been reading," she added, pointing 
to the book by her side. ''It is all so wonderful; but 
b it real ? Are there people like that, people who have 
everything any one could wish for ? ** 

''Oh yes," Ahmed answered, smiling under cover 
of the darkness. "There are a few, a very few, who 
have everything." 

" How happy they must be, and how good!" 

"They ought to be; yet — it is nice to read about 
them, though, isn't it ? " 

"Very nice, but nicer still to be one of them. I 
should be quite happy and quite — good," she said, 
with a sudden change of manner, " if I were rich." 

"Well, who knows, Mariska, perhaps you will be 
one day." 

"Ah, if that could only come true!" she exclaimed, 
in an ecstasy at the prospect he seemed to hold out to 

"How can it?" thought Fraulein Finke as she 
trimmed the lamp. "And was it not wrong of the 
doctor to fill this woman with such hopes, when it 
might even be to-morrow that they would come to 
wake her for the last time." 

Ahmed had meanwhile been watching her and the 
mechanism of the oil lamp she was lighting. He 
noticed that if the wick were turned a little too high it 
fiared considerably, causing a tongue of fiame to shoot 
up above the chimney. But his attention was soon 
diverted from the lamp by Marie's cry of rapture when 
she discovered that the packet he had given her con- 
tained something to wear. It was only a long narrow 



strip of gauze with a fancy border; stiU it pleased her as 
a new toy, however cheap, pleases a child. 

"" How kind of you to bring me this," she said. ** I'll 
put it on at once." In another moment she was stand- 
ing before the glass, tying the thing round her neck. 
And no sooner had she arranged it to her satisfaction 
than she insisted upon knowing what Friiulein Finke 
thought of the effect. This the attendant declared to 
be most becoming, and especially suited to the way in 
which she had done her hair. 

^I'm so glad you like it," replied Marie, running 
her fingers through the long ends of the flinty stuff 
that f eU in a graceful curve from the throat She then 
turned quickly to Ahmed with a smile of gratitude, and 
said, "DyakUou Vam, Doktor." 

Her unconscious lapse into the dialect of Little Russia 
gave the doctor an excuse to continue their conversa- 
tion in that language, which he had not used hitherto 
for fear of offending Fraulein Finke, and possibly 
arousing her suspicions. But even now, he made a 
gesture of apology to her before answering Marie. 

**This trifle is not worthy of your thoughts, my 
turtledove! But I have something much prettier for 
you to wear." 

*'And when may I have it?** 

** I can't say yet. You must ask Baron von Baltzan's 
permission first, but without letting him know I sug- 
gested it." 

*' I'll ask him to-morrow morning; and I'll make him 
believe that I b^ged you to give me the thing ever so 
long ago; only you must tell me what it is." 

**A black velvet dress." 



When Ahmed rose next day, after six hours' sleep» he 
was somewhat astonished to receive a verbal message 
asking him to breakfast with the Governor. Hitherto 
Baron von Baltzan had studiously avoided him, except 
in his official capacity as doctor. There must be some 
reason for this sudden change of front, thought Ahmed, 
and he had not to wait long before he discovered its 
origin. For no sooner had he entered the Grovemor's 
reception room than he found that another guest had 
been bidden to the midday meal. A middle-aged man, 
with close-cropped, iron-grey hair and a swarthy, clean- 
shaved face, whom von Baltzan introduced as ^ Father 
Klein," came forward to shake hands with Ahmed» 
who knew at once that he had seen him before. After 
a moment, he realised that this was the priest whom he 
had nearly run into on his ride back to Oberkarlsdorf. 
He also had an uncomfortable sensation that the priest 
recognised him. A moment later the Grovemor in- 
vited them to precede him into the adjoining room. 
They had been conversing at table some time before 
von Baltzan alluded to the matter which they had met 
to discuss, although, from the presence of Father 
Klein, Ahmed had guessed its nature. At length, 
however, the Governor b^an — 
** You are not of our faith, I think, doctor?** 



**No!'* replied he, **my people are traditional fol- 
lowers of Mohammed." 

"" Nevertheless you can sympathise with our desire 
to do aU things in order/' said von Baltzan. 

""To bring the consolations of the Church to those 
about to die/' added Father IGein, endeavouring to 
explain the Governor's official vagueness. Ahmed 
signified assent by a nod; he preferred to remain silent 
until there was some advantage to be gained by speak- 

^ My friend," said von Baltzan, indicating the priest, 

** is one of the good fathers from our abbey, and he is 
sometimes kind enough to say mass here." 

** It is my privilege to do so," protested Father Klein, 
with a deprecatory wave of the hand. 

** Well," continued the Grovemor, ** be that as it may, 
he takes an interest in my black sheep, and he is natu- 
rally anxious that the two who are under sentence of 
death should not die with aU their sins unabsolved." 

*' Even if absolution were impossible," said the priest, 
** they might at least be prepared to meet their Judge." 

**Have you seen either of them?" asked Ahmed. 

**Yes," answered Father Klein. **I was taken to 
see the man by Baron von Baltzan." 

^And he behaved badly," added the Governor. 

' Yes, it was strange how violent he became," said 
Father IGein, mournfully. ** The man raged against 
our Church, making use of such horrid blasphemies 
that I thought it best to leave him. Not that I fear 
coarse words myself, but because I did not wish to 
bring further punishment on his head." 

^ Possibly the fellow was drunk! He seems to have 



been in funds of late/' said von Baltzan, with a shrewd 
glance at the doctor. 

'^ It is a deplorable state of things," said the priest 

^Perhaps it is/' replied von Baltzan, not without a 
trace of resentment at the other's tone. ^ However, I 
do not know that this was so," he continued. ^ But, 
no matter what made him so furious, after such an 
outbreak I hesitated to risk a similar demonstration 
on the part of his accomplice. That is why," he added 
with a suspicion of malice, ^ I refused to take you to 
this woman before I had consulted the doctor." 

** You did well, Herr Baron," said Ahmed. 

^Why?" asked the priest, lifting his black eye- 

'"Because," answered the young man calmly, '"she, 
too, is infected with this same bias against your sacred 
office. Father Klein. Probably she derives it from her 
association with thb man; but it is too much of the 
nature of a fixed idea for us to hope that it could be 
speedily eradicated. I know this from what has re- 
peatedly fallen from her lips. You have not heard, 
perhaps, that we have had great trouble with this 
woman on account of her mental condition, but I 
assure you that even now it gives me considerable 

**Yes," said the Governor, **if it had not been for 
our friend here we should have had a raving lunatic 
on our hands. Although for some reason the poor 
creature was held to be sane at her trial." 

**For want of sufficient evidence," said Ahmed; **yet 
I did my best to convince the judges that she was not 



^ If that is the case, she should be pardoned/' said 
the priest in a tone of sympathy. 

"No doubt," replied .^Jimed; "but our efforts to 
secure a pardon have also failed. All we have been 
able to obtain is permission to put her out of this 
world in the most merciful manner possible." 

" By the authority of his Royal Highness the Grand 
Duke," explained von Baltzan. 

" In order to do that," added Ahmed, " it is essential 
she should not know that the hour of execution is 
drawing close. It will be — ?" he asked, turning to 
the Grovemor. 

" In three days," von Baltzan answered, " at seven 
o'clock in the morning; the executioner will arrive here 
to-morrow as soon as it is dark." 

"Then," said Ahmed, solenmly, "unless you wish 
him to behead a madwoman, she nuist be told nothing 
until the morning of the next day. By that time I can 
promise she will be unconscious; but only on condition 
that nothing occurs to disturb her mental equilibrium 
meanwhile. If it does, if you decide to awaken fears, 
which I have with difficulty banished from her mind, I 
will not answer for the consequences." 

"By Heaven, he b right!" shouted von Baltzan, 
rising from the table, at which they had sat long after the 
meal was finished. 

"From his point of view, perhaps," said the priest; 
"but to let this woman die unrepentant is to kill the 
soul along with the body." 

" The woman is an infidel," said the Governor; " I can 
answer for that myself; a beautiful creature, but without 
even an elementary knowledge of right and wrong." 



^ Still, if she belongs to our Church," said Father 
Klein, '*it is my duty !" 

^She does not," answered Ahmed; ''her mother was 
a Russian, of gipsy blood, and her father a Sclavok 
pedlar from Hungary. Neither of them belonged to 
the orthodox religion; nor was their daughter baptized." 

''But she might be received into our Church even 
now," argued the priest. 

" Not unless she consented," said von Baltzan, " and 
he has told you she never would consent." 

'* I would like to convince myself of that," the priest 

'*And I would like to give you the opportunity of 
doing so, my father," replied the Grovemor. " Only I 
cannot take such a responsibility upon myself, after 
what Dr. Ahmed has said." 

'*You would rather take the more terrible respon- 
sibility of sending her to eternal torment ? " 


"Baron von Baltzan!" 

"Father Klein, you know that, although a man of 
the world, I am a faithful son of the Church. Yet in 
this case I must obey my own conscience, and it tells 
me that I should do wrong if I did not leave this woman 
to die in peace." 

"That is what I wish to render possible." 

"But it cannot be in the way you wish. No! Let 
her stand before the judgment-seat, with the children 
who are unbaptized!" 

Father Klein recognised that it was of no use to 
insist beyond a certain point. Therefore, on seeing 
that the Governor's mind was finally made up, he bowed 



his head in tacit agreement Ahmed had retired to the 
farther end of the room while these two argued the ques- 
tion out, but now that they had apparently come to an 
understanding he rejoined them, and at once gathered 
what their decision had been from Father Klein's down- 
cast expression. And as the priest took his leave, he 
followed close behind him, but von Baltzan, who had 
accompanied them to the door, detained the doctor for 
a moment, when Father Klein had bowed himself out 

'*I am thoroughly convinced that your view is cor- 
rect," he said. ^'All the same it's dangerous to inter- 
fere with the Church. Indeed, I might have hesitated 
had I not been sure of your support, if any question of 
my conduct arises." 

'"I shall be glad to repeat what I have said to the 
Grand Duke." 

"It should not be necessary, still if it is — !" ex- 
claimed von Baltzan, snapping his fingers defiantly. 
Then, with a start, as though suddenly remembering 
the fact, he added, in a confidential tone, "" Oh, by the 
way, Marie spoke to me about some dress she had 
bothered you to get for her. Black velvet, eh! A 
curious fancy; but we am do no harm by humouring 
it. Has the thing arrived ? " 

"Yes; it is in a box upstairs in my surgery." 

" Then we might give it to her at once. I could do 
that myself, if you can't spare the time." 

"If you would be so kind, Herr Baron." 

"With pleasure! I'll send my servant for it this 

" My best thanks." 

" No, it is for me to thank you, doctor; I am obliged 




to you for taking such care of this poor creature, and ** 
— he continued, sinking his voice into a whisper — *" as 
to your other patient, who is to be nameless, I trust 

'"As well as can be expected. 

** Ah ! — Grood-bye, my friend. 

They thereupon cordially grasped each other by the 
hand, and Ahmed hurried away through the courtyard 
in the direction taken by Father Klein. Luckily the 
priest was still in sight when Ahmed emerged from 
the outer gate. He had halted for a little while on the 
castle heights, pausing to look down at the joyous 
throng on the ice in the flooded meadows below, and 
he seemed to be participating, with the keenest delight, 
in their sport. So that the doctor, who had studied 
Father IGein's face as he drew near to him, thought, 
*'This is, after all, a man to be trusted: a good man." 
And it was not until Ahmed had come quite close to 
him that the priest noticed his presence. Then turn- 
ing towards him, he exclaimed, *'Ah, my friend, we 
meet again ! For the third time, eh ? '' 

*'I was on my way to the town when I saw your 
Reverence," said Ahmed, who was by no means sur- 
prised at the allusion to their first meeting in the Klos- 

*'And you stopped to speak to me! I am pleased 
you did." 

''So am I, sir; and I am glad to find you do not re- 
gard me as an enemy." 

**We count no one that," said the priest, with a 
certain benign solemnity. ^Our task b to make all 
men our friends." 



" Then, if I, an unbeliever, were to ask you a favour, 
you would grant it ?** 

" Certainly I would, if it were in my power." 

•*! think it should be." 

*'Then let me hear what it is." 

*' Nothing that directly concerns me," began Ahmed, 
*' but rather some one else, with whom I am concerned. 
I will try not to speak in riddles; but first I shaU have to 
ask you two or three questions. Father IGein." 

^ By aU means, and I will answer them if I can." 

"TTiank you," said Ahmed with a bow. **As you 
know, I am not of your faith; but I have been given to 
understand that anything told to a priest is kept an 
inviolable secret." 

*' If it is told under the seal of confession." 

** But if I were to tell you something ?** 

** Whether I divulged it or not, could only depend 
upon my private promise." 

" You would not pledge yourself beforehand ? ** 

''I should be loath to do so; but in certain circum- 
stances I might." 

"Suppose, then, that I were to tell you of a person 
who was on the point of death, and who desired to see 
a priest?** 

" It would be my duty to go to that person at once." 

" But if I could only tell you that the person might 

** It would make no diflFerence.*' 

** Well, Father Klein, I know of a person, who may 
indeed recover, yet is very near death now." 

"Take me to this person!" said the priest, with a 
quick movement towards Ahmed. 



**Not till you have given me your word never to 
reveal anything you may learn in the course of your 
vbit," replied the doctor. 

•*Andif Irefuse?" 

** I can tell you nothing more." 

Father Klein remained silent, looking straight be- 
fore him, for a little while, during which time Ahmed 
could gauge the intensity of the conflict going on in his 
mind, by the nervous twitching of his mouth, and the 
uneasy shuffling of his feet. At length, however, the 
priest turned to him again with a set face and said, 
very deliberately, **So be it! Since I can do nothing 
without you, I agree to your conditions. I will not 
mention the fact of my visit to a living soul." 

"Nor make any use whatsoever of anything which 
this person may tell you, that is not under the seal of 
confession ? ** 

"I agree." 

**No matter what may come to your knowledge 
hereafter ? " 

'* I have given my word." 

"And I accept it, without reserve." 

" Good ! But now, let me know when I can see this 


" No sooner than that ? " 

" Impossible ! You must not, if you please, be at the 
prison before the lights are turned out. Ask for Herr 
Holtzmann; he will conduct you to the infirmary, 
where you will find me waiting for you." 

" I shall be there at a few minutes past eight o'clock, 
bringing what is needed myself." 



With a slight bend of the head, Father Klein then 
started to go on his way; however, on seeing that 
Ahmed made a move in the same direction, he dropped 
into step with him, and they walked down the road 
together. But the priest, who felt that his companion 
might interpret silence as hostility, tactfully reopened 
the conversation. 

^ You are a native of India, I fancy ? " he said. 

'" Of Eastern Afghanistan," replied Ahmed. 

" Indeed!** exclaimed the priest, " a grand country; I 
have never met elsewhere with such magnificent moun- 
tain sceneiy as in the Hindoo Koosh, nor heard such 
wild music as that of your hill-men." 

** You have been there then ?" 

** Oh yes — I have travelled about a good deal in my 
time. We have missions all over the world, and I have 
made more than one journey through Central Asia." 

^Really!" said Ahmed, staring with amazement at 
the placid countenance of the man by his side. 

** I have friends in your country, too," continued the 
priest, " members of our Society, and they still write to 
me sometimes. I had a letter from one of them only 
the other day." 

" What did he say ? " asked the doctor; ^ did he give 
you any news?" 

** Yes; he told me that, though we made few converts, 
our instruction classes were well attended, and he spoke 
of the favour shown to us by the reigning prince, a man 
of very liberal views, whom, I regret to say, he reported 
to be failing in health." 

^ There was nothing of that in the last letter I re- 
ceived, said Ahmed. 



" Such a thing may not be mentioned among his own 
people, perhi^, any more than the scandal created by 
his son.'* 

** His son ? ** Ahmed echoed. 

^Nasrullah Khan, his appointed successor. My 
friend writes that he has the gravest misgivings as to 
what may happen when this unprincipled young man 
reigns in the place of his enlightened father. It is 
indeed very doubtful whether he will be able to restrain 
the fanaticism of the Mullahs against the teachers of 
an alien faith. For they are but too likely to blame 
the influence of our people for his own shortcomings, 
which are especially abhorrent from the standpoint of 
your co-religionists." 

" How so ? ** asked Ahmed. 

^ He has, it seems, acquired a taste for strong liquors 
from the Russian ofScers, with whom he loves to play 
cards; and, being unseasoned to such excess, he must 
inevitably drink himself to death, before long." 

"Well," said Ahmed, frowning darkly, "the sooner 
the better." 

" You hate him so much that you wish him dead ? " 
the priest asked, in a horrified tone. 

" Why not ? — he has twice tried to kill me." 

"For what possible motive?'* 

"Because I am his brother, and he feared that I 
might one day take his place." 

"Then you are the prince whom my friend speaks 
of as studying at Petersburg ? " 

"Yes; but I left Russia a long while ago," replied 
Ahmed. " I have not had much time for letter-writing ; 
besides, to whom should I write, except my father? 




And he is no great writer of letters himself, though I 
had one from him the other day, which was rather 
difficult to answer — he wants me to go back! 

** And you f Have you no wish to return ? 

^ I will not say that. But I have no wish to do so 
while Nasrullah lives." 


*' Because if I did it would be a question of my life 
or his. There is not room for both of us on the steps 
of my father's throne." 

"" Ah!" exclaimed the priest, ** in that case, no doubt, 
you do well to remain away." 

"Yes," said Ahmed, slowly, "I think it best" 

They had arrived at the comer of the Klostergasse, 
and Father Klein said, pointing to the carved stone 
gate of the chapter-house, "Our ways part here. 
Strange, that I of all men in this country should have 
met you. Prince Ahmed." 

"Yes, it seems so to us. Father Klein; but doubtless 
it was written that we should meet." 

"I am not fatalist enough to believe that," replied 
the priest; " but, since it has happened, I am quite sure 
that our meeting will serve some unseen purpose of 
Him who set us here." 

"It may well be!" said Ahmed. 

"Until to-night, then, good-bye." 

The young man stood for some time gazing after the 
retreating figure of Father Klein, and only when it had 
disappeared did his mind revert to the errand that had 
brought him to the Marks Platz. He then walked 
over to the principal post-office, and dropped into the 
letter-box the envelope which he had addressed to 



Frliulein Fuchs on the previous day. As he came 
back across the square he looked up at the windows 
of Ehrlich's room. How long it now seemed to be 
since he had consulted him; and what a network of 
intrigue had spun itself about this woman in the mean- 
time! It should all have been so simple, thought 
Ahmed, yet who could now say where it might end? 
He knew that his attempt to save her had already 
dragged him into deep water; but he had foreseen that 
it must, and was prepared to struggle out as best he 
might, or to sink. The mischief would not stop there, 
however; other lives were involved as well as his, that 
of the lonely old prince at Wilhelmsbrunn; and that 
of Elsa, too, perhaps. 

On returning to the Castle, Ahmed walked on past 
the Governor's house to the prison entrance, where he 
learnt from the big door-keeper that Herr Holtzmann 
was in his room; and there sure enough he discovered 
him, indulging in an after-dinner nap. However, the 
affable chief warder neither resented the intrusion, nor 
made any difSculty about admitting Father Klein that 
evening. And on being asked if it would be necessary 
to consult von Baltzan first, or obtain his sanction 
afterwards, he replied with a smile, ** Neither! The 
Herr Baron generally goes to the cavalry casino about 
eight o'clock, leaving me in conmiand, and I will bring 
his Reverence up to you, on my own authority." 

^ I am much obliged to you, Herr Holtzmann," said 
the doctor, who had heard of the Governor's nightly 
visits to his ex-comrades, and had calculated on his 
absence when fixing the hour at which the priest was 
to come. 



**But, of course, I do not wont to get you into 
trouble," he added. 

"You need not be afraid, Herr Doctor!" answered 
the other, laughing outright. "Baron von Baltzan 
will ask me no questions, nor shaU I ask him any. 
And please do not talk about being obliged. It's the 
least I could do, after all your kindness to me." 

With the comfortable feeling of having managed a 
delicate affair rather well, Ahmed let himself into the 
infirmaiy and went at once to the end ward. There 
he found that Marie was in a flutter of excitement about 
the beautiful black dress which the Governor had 
handed to her, with such a flourish that she had come 
to look upon it as his gift. But as the doctor desired 
nothing more than that von Baltzan himself should 
share this illusion with her, he made no effort to dis- 
abuse her mind. And, having said that her thanks 
were due only to the Governor, he turned her attention 
from the dress to another matter, in which she was almost 
equally interested, by an adroit compliment upon the 
way she had done her hair. Marie confessed that she 
was veiy gratified he had noticed it, because she had 
given herself a great deal of trouble over it that day, 
in order to please him. Besides Fraulein Finke had 
been so kind as to help her, with the assistance of a 
picture in the book he had brought her. " She did that 
for your sake, doctor," said Marie, archly; **it seems 
that Fraulein has taken quite a fancy to you." At this 
indiscreet utterance the attendant became crimson, 
and Ahmed, while pretending not to be conscious of 
her embarrassment, took advantage of it to approach 
quite close to Marie. He then ran his fingers lightly 



over her head and down her arms, unobserved by 
FriLulein Finke» who on the recoveiy of her self-pos- 
session odIj noticed that Marie appeared suddenly to 
have grown so drowsy that she could hardly keep her 
eyes open. 

^The excitement has proved too much for her/' 
said Ahmed» pointing to the condemned woman, who 
had sunk into her accustomed place by the stove. 

^Poor thing/' exclaimed the attendant in a tone of 

^She'll drop off to sleep directly/' said the doctor; 
** in fact I doubt if she's awake now. See if she pays 
any attention to me when I speak to her in her own 

^ Moya Grorlitschko," he began, talking to Marie in 
the Cossack dialect, ^you hear me, though you make 
no sign, but by-and-by you will obey. You are to 
sleep on in that chair until the clock out there strikes 
eleven. Then you are to get up quickly, walk to the 
table, and reach across it for your book." 

While he was saying this, Fraulein Finke had watched 
Marie closely, but without seeing any look of compre- 
hension come into her face. Turning away from 
Marie, and picking up a book that she had let fall on 
the ground, Ahmed said to the attendant, *'She will 
soon be fast asleep." He then moved with silent tread 
towards the door, putting the book down on the op- 
posite side of the unlighted kmp as he passed the table. 

^ Sleep is the best thing for her," he whispered, 
opening the door. ^Please tell Frau Schmidt not tco 
disturb her." 




At six o'clock that evening when Ahmed came to 
relieve Elsa he fancied that she showed more signs of 
fatigue than usual, and was at a loss how to account for 
the fact, since she had only been on duty for twelve 
hours. However, she assured him that she felt quite 
herself; but admitted that she was not easy in her mind 
about the Countess. So that it was with no slight 
misgiving about Elsa's own health that Ahmed bade 
her good-night, having first insisted that she should 
not return until noon next day, and that she should 
get some fresh air in the meantime. He charged her 
also not to be over anxious about the patient, although 
he did not dare to tell her that there was no danger, 
because Countess Lichtenthal's increasing weakness 
had been all too evident during the last few days. And 
as soon as he was left to himself he began to think out 
what measures must be taken to restore this woman's 
ebbing vitality. There could be no question that the 
possibility of reviving it by a profusion of salt water 
had long ceased to exist. The doctor must, therefore, 
rely on the effect of certain powerful stimulants, which, 
of course, being transitory, would only be used as a 
last resource. Of these restoratives he expected the 
best result from oxygen, but he had l^t the heavy iron 
cylinder and elaborate inhaler in the surgery, as he did 



not inteDd to administer the gas that evening, or, at 
any rate, not until after Father Klein's visit. 

Having made a careful examination of his patient 
Ahmed sat down to write his report to the Grand Duke. 
Yet, although he knew the case to be desperate, he 
said nothing in it which pointed to a fatal termination. 
Nevertheless his words contained a warning of another 
kind, which was sufSciently alarming, though it might 
well escape the notice of one who was too distracted 
with grief to care about anything except the fact that 
they gave him hope. But if, in place of the sorrow- 
stricken husband, Weigand had read this bulletin, he 
would have at once seen in it a sinister hint that the 
patient's brain would be permanently affected. His 
report despatched, Ahmed sat down by the bedside to 
watch the Countess, and listened attentively for any 
words she might speak. But for a long while she 
uttered no articulate sound. Ahmed had observed 
that as the delirium grew less acute her thoughts be- 
came more and more centred in the character with 
which she now appeared to have almost completely 
identified herself; so much so, indeed, that he doubted 
whether she had any distinct consciousness of her own 
personality. Still he was by no means sure that the 
priest might not awaken in her thb dormant sense. 
He would not, therefore, have risked the possible ill 
effects of bringing her in contact with so disturbing an 
influence as Father Klein might prove to be, had it not 
been for certain words which Countess Lichtenthal 
had let fall on more than one occasion. And, although 
he had recognised them as those in which Schiller 
makes the unhappy Queen implore to be allowed the 



benefit of the sacrament, there was something so 
apposite in the passage to her own situation that he 
had felt they must have been repeated with special 
intent. Not having the heart to turn a deaf ear to her 
prayer, he had been casting about for some means of 
gratifying her implied desire, when he met Father 
Klein by accident, as it seemed. Ahmed glanced at 
his watch and saw that the time for the priest's visit 
was drawing near. He felt somewhat disappointed 
at not having heard a repetition of the words whi^h 
had caused him to sununon this spiritual aid to the 
Countess's bedside, but reflected that perhaps it 
was best after all she should not realise the need in 
which she stood of these last consolations of her 

Having done everything to make the patient as pre- 
sentable as possible, in spite of her disfiguring ban- 
dages, Ahmed left her dozing, while he took up his 
position outside the door. Standmg there, in the 
silence of the prison, he heard the hour strike in the 
abbey tower, and for a few minutes he waited for 
another sound of a less harmonious nature, beginning 
to wonder, after a while, whether the priest would fail 
him. At length, however, the iron door grated on its 
hinges, as it was slowly opened by Herr Holtzmann, 
who carried a lamp in his hand, in order to light his 
companion through the building which had already 
been plunged into darkness. 

Ahmed promised to bring Father Klein back to the 
chief warder's room, when the time came for him to 
leave. Then, having led the priest to the ward in 
which the sick woman was lying, he left him to perform 



his sacred office alone, after telling him that he would 
be close by and would come immediately on being 
caUed. The doctor found plenty to do in the surgery; 
indeed he was still busy among his apparatus, when 
he heard some one calling him by name, and was sur- 
prised to discoyjif from a glance at the surgery clock 
that nearly two h&urs had passed. Ahmed at once 
hastened to rejoin Father Klein, who stood waiting for 
him outside the door of the ward. With an apology 
to the priest for detaining him yet another moment, he 
went into the room to see how his patient had borne 
this long visit; but, on finding that the Countess was in 
much the same condition as before, he came out again 
almost inunediately. And after he had carefully 
turned the key behind him, he conducted Father Klein 
down the corridor towards the prison. When they 
reached the low iron wicket, the priest stopped and 
silently indicated by raising hb right hand with the fore- 
finger uplifted that he had something to say. This 
commanding gesture caused Ahmed to come to a halt, 
with his hand on the door. 

''How long have you known that this woman was 
dying ? ** he asked. 

''I do not know she is that now!" answered the 

**Oh yes, you do. I can see it, and your eyes are 
more skilled to detect the signs which herald death 
than mine." 

''You forget that the resources of modem medicine 
are practically unlimited." 

"For prolonging life, perhaps, not for recreating it. 
The woman is in a moribund state; you may keep Jher 



alive for a few days more, but, as far as this world is 
concerned, she is already dead." 

^'WeU, evenso?'* 

** Why, then, did you tell me that her recovery was 
possible ? " 

** Suppose it should occur ? " ^ 

^ That would be to suppose a miracle.*' 

**Such things have happened." 

^ In an age of belief; not in these days of mammon- 
worship and broken vows! But admitting that you 
had some vague hope she might be restored to health, 
why was I not sent for sooner ? ** 

** I did not feel sure till last night that she wished to 
see a priest." 

^ Is that the kind of excuse you would make to one 
of your own colleagues ? Would you wait to ascertain 
whether the patient wanted to see another doctor, if 
you were yourself in doubt?** 

*' Father Klein," answered the doctor, speaking in a 
slow, deliberate manner, *'l cannot be expected to 
decide with the same promptness in matters which I 
do not comprehend, as in those which come within my 
own province. But you may take it that I have done 
the best I could according to my lights. And please 
remember that I need not have sununoned you here. 

even now." 

** I am scarcely likely to forget that," said the priest, 
**when you have this day refused to consent to my 
visiting a woman who is about to die.** 

^ In that, also, I would have you believe that I acted 
for the best.'* 

** According to your lights, perhaps." 



** Which enable me to fonn a judgment on all the 

** You mean that there are some facts that you have 
kept back?" 

** Possibly! Though I admit nothing." 

" You have taken a grave responsibility upon your- 
self, Dr. Ahmed. And if the eternal welfare of any 
one has been imperiled by what you have done to-day, 
you will surely have to answer for it hereafter." 

** I shall be ready to justify my actions when the time 


""Even if you should be called to account in this 
world ? ** 


**Then on your own head be it!** replied the priest, 
in a tone of warning. ** Whatever happens I shall not 
break my promise, nor use the knowledge I have gained 
this night for any purpose, save only in the service of 
Him to whom all things are known." 

Having delivered himself of this solemn admonition. 
Father Klein permitted the doctor to lead him down 
the dark gallery to Herr Holtzmann's room, whence 
the chief warder was to conduct him out of the prison. 
As soon as Ahmed had placed the priest in Holtzmann's 
charge and expressed his gratitude to him for coming, 
he returned to his patient, whom he had been loath to 
leave so long alone. There was, however, something 
that for the moment weighed more on his mind than 
the ill effects which this visit might possibly have on 
the Countess; so that even when he had assured him- 
self that her condition gave no cause for inmiediate 
alarm, he appeared none the less anxious and alert. 



Indeed as he sat in the darkened room with bent brows 
and wide-open staring eyes he was, for the time being, 
miconscious of the sick woman. He had remained in 
the same cramped position leaning forward in his 
chair, and grasping its arms tightly with both hands, 
for almost an hour, when the sound of a female voice 
crying for help reached him. In an instant he had 
started to his feet and was at the door. Down the 
passage came Frau Schmidt running towards him, 
with an expression of horror in her white face. 

'* What is the matter?" asked Ahmed, as he went to 
meet her. 

^She has burnt herself," gasped the frightened 
woman, ** terribly." 

**A11 right," said he; "I'll come to her at once. In 
the meanwhile go back and keep her as quiet as you 

The attendant did as she was told, and in an in- 
credibly short space of time Ahmed entered the end 
ward with a bundle of bandages, a big bottle, and a 
morocco-leather case in iiis hand. He found Marie 
seated on a stool, her head buried in her hands, rocking 
herself to and fro, and uttering a low continuous moan- 
ing ciy of pain. While Frau Schmidt, who had grown 
somewhat calmer under the influence of Ahmed's 
perfect self-possession, tried in a breathless way to tell 
him how the thing had happened, he opened his case 
and rapidly prepared a solution of morphia, which he 
injected into Marie's arm. Whereupon her agonised 
movements soon ceased and she gradually became 
quite quiet. In the meantime the doctor had lifted 
her up and laid her gently down on the bed. He then 



proceeded to examine her injuries, and was greatly 
relieved to find that th^ were of a trifling nature. 

It seemed that a few minutes before the accident 
occurred the priscmer had been sound asleep, and that 
she must have risen up all of a sudden, walked over to 
the table, and leant deliberately across the lighted 
lamp. Before Frau Schmidt was aware that she had 
got up, Marie's gauze scarf had been in a blaze; and it 
was a mercy her hair had not been set on fire too: 
nothing but the way in which she now wore it piled up 
on the top of her head could have prevented that from 
happening. However, the good woman had acted 
promptly enough once the mischief was done. For 
dipping a sponge in water she had extinguished the 
flames before they had time to spread, though mean- 
while the flimsy gauze wrap had been reduced to tinder. 

The doctor had listened to her explanations with a 
perfectly grave countenance, but an inward feeling of 
amusement, as he went about his task of dressing the 
bums, and binding up Marie's neck in innumerable 
coils of surgical gauze. When he had finished this he 
turned to the attendant, and said in an extreme^ 
sympathetic tone — 

*' I am afraid you find this night work rather trying, 
Frau Schmidt." 

** Well, sir," she answered wearily, ** I do feel it a 
little more than I used. But, of course, when one's 
turn comes for duty at night one is still able to take it." 

" Only you have a sense of fatigue at times ? " asked 
Ahmed, with the same persuasive note of compassionate 
interest. ^'You are almost inclined, every now and 
then, to shut your eyes ? " 



^Yes, doctor; it is difficult to keep them open 

*" Exactly ! Just now, for instance, when our friend 
was so unfortunate as to set herself on fire, you had 
closed them, eh ? " 

''To tell the truth, I think I must have, though I 
can't remember how long." 

**Of course not," said Ahmed; **you lost conscious- 
ness for the moment, that was all, no doubt." 

" Yes," answered the woman, guiltily, ** it couldn't 
have been more than a minute or two." 

'"No, no! Nevertheless this accident happened in 
the meantime." 

** It did; but you won't tell any one that I was dozing, 
will you, doctor ? " 

" Why should I ? It's no affair of mine." 

'^ Couldn't you give me something to keep me 
awake ? " 

*' Oh, I don't think you'll go to sleep again to-night, 
Frau Schmidt." 

'"No, indeed, I have had too much of a shock for 
that; but to-morrow night, sir." 

** Well, I will see what I can do." 

" I should be so thankful if you would." 

** Very good; I'll try to make up something; and now 
I must be going. If you let her rest," he added, ** she 
may to a certain extent sleep off the pain, and I will 
come to see how she is early in the morning." 

As soon as the door had closed behind him, Ahmed 
smiled at the thought how readily the woman had taken 
up his suggestion, and how utterly unconscious she was 
that she had not made this request of her own free will. 



And as he watched through the long night by the bed- 
side of the Countess his mind was busy on the scheme 
he had prepared with such infinite forethought No 
step had been taken hastily, no detail neglected; every 
chance had been considered, every risk provided against 
with the same care, whether great or small, so that 
Ahmed felt that nothing now could happen to interfere 
with his calculations; he could see no combination that 
would defeat him, except a sudden change of attitude 
in the free-agents on whom he was dependent for suc- 
cess. And of these, none were the least likely to play 
him false. Elsa was of course absolutely sure, her 
obedience had always been unquestioning; the Grand 
Duke also was to be trusted, he had given his word, 
and he would not think of breaking it; Father Klein, 
too, even if he had a suspicion of anything being wrong, 
was pledged to secrecy; Baron von Baltzan showed no 
sign of opposition; and, for the rest, if one of them had 
the wish to make difficulties he would not have the 

Towards daybreak the doctor noticed that his pa- 
tient's breathing was more troubled; and he hastened 
to set up his apparatus for the inhalation of oxygen. 
And when Elsa returned to the ward at noon she found 
that Ahmed's words had been borne out; for there was 
a marked, if not great, improvement in the condition 
of the Countess. It was, therefore, in a far less de- 
spondent frame of mind that the nurse went about her 
work during the day and up till eight o'clock, at which 
hour Ahmed came to take her place. 

Having seen that Marie's bum had not caused her 
any great discomfort, as her attention was turned again 



to the black velvet diess which she had put on for the 
first time that day» and having given Frau Schmidt a 
bottle of stuff that would keep the good woman awake 
for at least twenty hours, he decided not to let Elsa 
remain on duly any Icmger. Contrary to his expecta- 
tion, she did not rebel against this order, but left the 
ward directly she had given him an account of the pa- 
tient's progress since noon. On the way towards her 
room Elsa met the Grovemor, who was coming down 
the corridor followed by a tall, gaunt, gr^ figure, which 
in the imperfect light seemed more like an exaggera- 
tion of his own shadow than that of another person. 

Von Baltzan for once, however, did not appear 
pleased at seeing the nurse with the copper-gold hair 
to whom he was always so polite. He looked, she 
thought, a trifle shamefaced and ill at ease, as though 
he had been detected in some dishonourable action, 
which he was endeavouring awkwardly to conceal. 
His companion in gr^, who was evidently of a retiring 
disposition, had placed himself on the farther side of 
the Governor; so that Elsa only caught a glimpse of a 
ragged red beard and a pair of watchful ferret-like eyes. 
Von Baltzan went straight on down the passage, past 
the end ward, till he came to a door facing him, which 
Elsa never remembered to have seen open. There, 
after fumbling about for a little while with a big bunch 
of keys, the Grovemor managed to find the right one. 
But even when they had turned the key in the lock, 
their combined efforts were required to push the heavy 
door open, and it only then yielded with a terrible 
rasping of its rusty hinges, the sound of which made 
Elsa shiver. For with the stealthy opening of that door 



the certainty had come to her that this man in grey 
was no other than he who would cany out the sentence 
of death. 

She understood then why von Baltzan had been so 
averse from speaking to her; no doubt he feared that 
the mere sight of the man would make a painful im- 
pression on her if she were to guess his errand, since 
even the knowledge of his presence in the prison must 
be a shock to her. 

Elsa was grateful to the Grovemor for his thought- 
fulness, yet for the moment she could not realise all 
that the coming of this man meant So entirely did 
the Countess occupy her thoughts, that everything 
which happened outside the sick-room seemed far ofiF 
and unreal; and in spite of her meeting with the exe- 
cutioner, her sleep that night was unbroken and dream- 
less. Meanwhile Ahmed had passed many anxious 
hours with his patient, whose life-stream was gradually 
ebbing, notwithstanding the constant administration 
of oxygen. The Countess had not uttered a syllable 
since the visit of Father Klein in Ahmed's hearing, and 
he felt sure, therefore, that she could scarcely have 
spoken of it to the nurse during his absence. But 
even so, Elsa must be alarmed by the woman's death- 
like look unless he could restore her to some semblance 
of vitality before the morning. To do that was no 
easy task, as any over-stimulation of the nerves might 
stop the already feeble action of her heart. However, 
he contrived, by means of a draught made up of power- 
ful drugs in minute quantities, to bring back tiie ap- 
pearance of life, if not health, to Countess Lichtenthal's 
pallid face. So that when Elsa came at eight o'clock, 



although she saw that the improvement of yesterday 
had not been maintained, she was not aware how low 
the vital forces of the patient had fallen. Neverthe- 
less, as the nurse turned to Ahmed with an expression 
of increased anxiely for guidance, he told her to call 
him at once should the patient's pulse suddenly grow 
weaker, and added that he would, in any case, look in 
during the day. 

Faithful to his promise, Ahmed came to see the 
Countess at two o'clock that afternoon and again at 
five. But on neither occasion did he find any marked 
change in her, though it was evident to him that her 
power of rallying had been exhausted. Not long after 
his second visit, Elsa heard a light tap at the door. 
On opening it she discovered Fraulein Finke, who 
explained that she had been sent by the doctor for a 
bottle, but had failed to find it in the surgery. She 
had thought that Elsa might possibly know where it 
was. The nurse was obliged to admit, however, that 
she had not seen any bottle answering to the descrip- 
tion of the one Fraulein Finke had come in search 

** I am sorry I can't help you," said Elsa» i^logeti- 

" Oh, it's my fault," replied her friend, ** I certainly 
thought the doctor said it was on the table. He wants 
the stuff for a dressing, so I'd best hurry back." 

*'Have you had an accident?" asked Elsa, her 
curiosity excited by the fact that Ahmed had made no 
mention of one. 

^Yes," answered the attendant, quickly. ^ Marie 
managed to bum herself the night before last, about 



the neck mostly. Doctor is bandaging it. I must be 
off. Good-bye!- 

The girl then ran away down the corridor; but Elsa 
stood still for some time, looking straight in front of her 
as though she had been deprived of the ability to move. 
At length she turned and went slowly back into the 
room. Walking over to her chair, Elsa sank into it in 
a limp, helpless fashion. She felt that repose alone 
would enable her to think, and that it was imperative 
she should at once think out her course of action. 
For what Fraulein Finke had told her had started a 
long train of ideas; but as yet Elsa could not see to 
what conclusion they were leading her. She wanted 
time to reflect, if her judgment were not to be swept 
away by the wave of doubt that had broken upon her 
of a sudden. Above all, she must be careful not to 
harbour, without ground, suspicion against one whose 
good faith she had hitherto relied on so implicitly. 
True, this was not the first time that doubts had arisen 
in her mind; but knowing how an atmosphere of doubt 
breeds treachery, Elsa would have even now banished 
every shadow of suspicion from her thoughts if she 
could; but, much as she wished to do so, it was no 
longer possible. The news of this accident to the 
prisoner, which made it necessary that her throat 
should be bandaged in a similar manner to the Coun- 
tess's, reminded Elsa of the close resemblance that 
these women bore to one another. A strange' coinci- 
dence, and rendered all the stranger by Ahmed's having 
spoken to her neither of the likeness, nor of the acci- 
dent. She asked herself whether he might not also be 
keeping his own counsel in other matters. Had he, 



for instance, told her his true opinion about the pa- 
tient's chance of recovery? These and many other 
questions of an equally unanswerable character Elsa 
pondered over as she sat watching by the bedside. 

Meanwhile, when Fraulein Finke returned the doctor 
had already found the bottle he wanted in the very 
place where he had left it, wrapped up with the other 
things, though he declared that he distinctly remem- 
bered having taken it back to the surgery. Marie's 
throat also was again neatly bandaged, so that the 
attendant had no opportunity of judging herself of the 
nature of the bum, though she did not think it could 
be very bad, from the fact that the doctor spent such a 
little time over it. She was not, therefore, surprised 
to observe that the condemned woman had fallen into 
a sonmolent state under the soothing influence of the 
doctor. Indeed, since she had heard certain myste- 
rious footsteps coming and going In the direction of the 
dbused door, she was glad that Marie should remain 
in ignorance of what was being prepared behind it 
For word had gone round among the attendants that a 
stranger had arrived, and they guessed that the pris- 
oners would be executed on the following day. 

Leaving Marie apparently lost in contemplation of 
the beauties of her black velvet gown, Ahmed went to 
seek out his friend Herr Holtzmann, whom he dis- 
covered in a state of nervous excitement about the 
business of next morning. 

** You must try not to think about it," said the doctor. 

^ I do, sir, but it's no good. I can think of nothing 
else. One may be a gaoler, but one remains a man. 
If it were only Mnischko, now! That wouldn't be so 



bad, perhiqps; but the woman too. Heaven! suppose 
she goes into a fit of hysterics!" 

** m answer for it that she won't" 

** Well, I*m half afraid I might break down myself if 
she did. I can't bear to see a woman ciy, doctor. My 
heart ought to have been hardened by the years I've 
spent in this place, and I dare say it has been, but not 
enough for me to look calmly on such a sight" 

Ahmed hastened to inform the chief warder that his 
feelings were shared by Baron von Baltzan, and that 
it had been agreed upon to place Marie under the in- 
fluence of a drug which would make her unconscious 
of her surroundings. It would necessitate her move- 
ments being directed by some one, probably the doctor 
himself, but it would spare them the painful spectacle 
of a violent emotional outburst on the part of the terri- 
fied woman, that must otherwise have been inevitable. 
Holtzmann, on hearing this, expressed the liveliest 
satisfaction, and declared that he could now face the 
ordeal of the morning with equanimity. For Mnischko, 
he was convinced, would meet his fate with composure. 
** He is no coward, that man," said the warder, ** and» 
thanks to your generosity, doctor, he has been able to 
keep hb courage up. You may depend upon it, that 
he'U walk with a firm step when the hour comes for 
them to lead him out." 

So far Ahmed had avoided an encounter with 
Mnischko, and, for the man's own sake, he was careful 
to arrange now that he should not be present at his 
execution, but that the chief warder should summon 
him only when it was over, in order that he might 
certify the death in due form. The other execution 



would follow, and in it he would accompany the con- 
demned woman to the place, and remain with her untU 
the end. Having settled these all-important points, the 
doctor took leave of Holtzmann, who told him that he 
should not have believed it possible that he could go 
about his preparations with so little apprehension. 

Ahmed, however, was very far from sharing the chief 
warder's assurance that there was nothing now to fear. 
As he walked back to his surgery the thought of the 
numerous preparations which he also had to make 
occupied his mind. And, perhaps for the first time, he 
realised how a single false step would undo all that he 
had done. But once again he told himself that, as far 
as things depended upon him, success was certam; 
moreover, that no matter what danger threatened, he 
would go calmly on to the end. While meditating 
thus, the doctor was busily employed mixing various 
drugs and extracts together, stopping every now and 
then to glance at a manuscript book. When he had 
finished domg this, he looked at his watch and saw that 
it was already past seven. Then, having put one of 
the little phials he had just filled into his pocket, he 
went to the end ward. Marie was still leaning back 
in her chair with her hands folded upon her lap, and 
Frau Schmidt volunteered the information that she had 
found her in the same attitude when she had come on 
duly at six o'clock. The good woman also, while 
thanking Ahmed for the stuff he had given her on the 
previous evening, complained that she had scarcely 
been able to close her eyes all day. Consequently she 
feared that she might drop off to sleep during the night. 
Ahmed expressed surprise, on hearing that the effect 



of the drug had lasted so long, but, at the same time, as- 
sured her that it would not act so powerfully if she should 
have recourse to it again. ** Yes," said the attendant, 
*" I suppose I had better take the stuff; it wouldn't do 
for me to be found asleep to-morrow morning." 

^ Ah, I thought you might want another dose, Frau 
Schmidt, so I've brought one with me," said Ahmed, 
handing her a bottle similar in eveiy respect to the 
empty one which he had taken from the shelf and 
dropped into his pocket. 

** Thank you, doctor," she said, putting the bottle 
down beside her. **I shall be glad when it's over," 
she added, in a whisper; ^they tell me this will be the 
last night!" 

**Yes," answered Ahmed, in the same low tone; 
**you will not have to keep watch again." 

^ I'm sorry for her, poor creature," said the woman, 
•* but it has to come sooner or later." 

"Exactly! But you won't let her see that, you 
know," said he, pointing to Marie. 

"Heaven forbid! Let her sleep in peace if she can» 
I say." 

" And if you feel sleepy yourself, Frau Schmidt, you 
know what to do ? " 

" Drink this off," she replied, holding up the bottle. 

" You can take it in a cup of coffee, if you like.'* 

Going across to the stove, Ahmed bent over Marie 
and made some trifling readjustment of the bandage 
round her throat. Then with his back turned to Frau 
Schmidt, so that she could not see what he was doing, 
he slowly pressed the half -closed eyelids of the motion- 
less woman down until they were quite shut." 


PuNCTUALLT at eight the doctor entered the room 
where his patient was lying, but Elsa did not come 
forward as usual to meet him, and it was some little 
time before he could distinguish her figure in the shadow 
by the bedside. She had sat there in the semi-darkness, 
so that no external object might distract her thoughts 
from the problem she was turning over in her mind, 
and so engrossing had these reflections proved that she 
neither heard the door open, nor saw Ahmed until he 
was standing close to her. Then she rose quickly and 
faced him. Something in the pose of her head, as well 
as in the way she had unconsciously clenched her 
hands, denoted resolve; and when she spoke it was with 
an accent of determination that made her voice sound 

^ I must speak to you alone," she said. 

In the half light Ahmed could not see the set expres- 
sion of her face, but the cold, hard inflection that she 
had given to the words warned him she was in deadly 

** Very good, if you will wait one moment," he said, 
kneeling down by the bed, and taking the patient's 
wrist in his fingers. After counting its scarcely per- 
ceptible throb for a little while, the doctor made the 
sick woman swallow a few drops out of the phial he 



had brought with hun, then he again felt her pulse, and 
not till he had observed a slight quickening in the beat 
did he turn towards Elsa. 

**Now," he said quietly, **come into the surgery." 

Ahmed led the way there, motioning to Elsa to lock 
the door of the ward behind her. When he had turned 
up the lamp which had been left alight in case of emer- 
gency, he looked straight at her, and, after a moment's 
pause, he made a gesture of inquiry, as though anxious 
to hear what she had to say. But it was evident that 
the nurse recoiled from speaking, and that Ahmed's 
dispassionate attitude had exercised a chilling effect 
upon her. She did not, however, keep him long in 
doubt as to the seriousness of her purpose. 

** That woman in the next room is dying," she said, 
at last overcoming her hesitation to speak. 

'^Have you only just found that out?" asked the 
doctor, with an accent of surprise. 

'^I have suspected it for some time; but I was not 
sure until to-day." 

*'My dear Elsa, it has been a foregone conclusion 
from llie moment that fool of a nun let her see herself 
in the glass." 

** Then why did you persuade her husband to allow 
you to perform this operation ? " 

** For reasons which I would rather not go into now, 
but which still hold good." 

'^Even though the Countess cannot recover ?** 


** You have no hope of saving her?" 

**None whatever." 

**Then why don't you send for a priest?" 



**She has received the sacrament ah-eady.*' 

^ You knew that the end was near, and yet you gave 
her husband no hmt ? " 

** It was impossible." 

** Because you intend to put another in her place ? ** 

**Yes," answered the doctor, calmly, **that is my 
intention, unless something occurs to prevent it. I 
wished to keep you out of this. And even now I should 
have told you nothing, if I had not required your help." 

** My help ! " cried Elsa, in a tone of horror. ** I will 
not lift a finger to help you." 

** Perhaps you will denounce me?'* 

**Idonot say that!** 

** Elsa, what I have to do to-night can be done with- 
out your assbtance, but to-morrow there is something 
which cannot. I tried hard to secure the means that 
would have enabled me to work alone, but when this 
failed me" — he here indicated the case which held 
the new anaesthetic — **I saw that it was not to be 

** You risked your life to find out a way ? '* 

** Well, to some extent, I suppose I did. At any rate, 
I should have died if it had not been for your watch- 
fulness that night. I have not forgotten what I owe 
to you, Elsa." 

•*You wiU owe me far more if I prevent you from 
committing a crime now." 

" Do you call it a crime to save a life ? " 

** Yes, if it can only be saved at the cost of another; 
and worst of all by sacrificing the innocent for the 

^ There can be no question of sacrifice. This woman 



wQl be dead in six hours; my difficulty has been to keep 
her alive so long. She is in a state of coma now, and 
for some time past she has lived in a world of shadows, 
without any percepticm of what was reaUy going on 
around her." 

^But even if Countess Lichtenthal should suffer 
nothing, it is cruel to impose a criminal up<m the man 
who loves her." 

^From a sentimental point of view, yes; but as a 
matter of actual fact, no. It is the kindest thing one 
could do, the only thing probably that would give him 
another hour free from grief." 

** Yes," said the nurse, bitterly, ^ that's it! You blot 
out the memory of his wife, and in her place you force 
him to accept what ? " 

**A very beautiful woman!" 

**A very bad one!" 

'^Not good, perhaps, in the sense that your people 
use the word when they apply it to a woman." 

**Bad, in every sense," said Elsa. 


''She helped to kill that man." 

''She wssaamsed of killing hun." 

** And proved to have done it." 

"Convicted, you mean. But I believe her to be 

"And I believe her guilty." 


"I don't know." 

"Then I will tell you why! You have an unreason- 
ing prejudice against the woman; therefore, you would 
condemn her unheard." 



*'The woman was tried, and found guilly," insisted 

**Yes," answered Ahmed, **and even if she were 
guilty it would make no difference to me.'' 

"Of course not; you are in love with her." 

" That is not true, Elsa." 

" Why put your life in danger, then, to save hers ? ** 

" Because I have given her my word." 

"And you mean to keep it?" 

" If it is possible, yes." 

"What if I say that you shall not?" 

The nurse stood facing him squarely, her eyes fixed 
on his, and it seemed to Ahmed that she looked taller 
as she spoke these threatening words. So, the thing 
he believed impossible had happened; this timid, loving 
creature had set her will against his; she had ceased 
to be a passive instrument in his hands, and suddenly 
become an enemy. He waited a little before answering 
her question, his forehead drawn down and his eyes 
almost hidden, as though reflecting on the situation 
which had come about so unexpectedly; then, speaking 
in a slow, deliberate manner, but without the smallest 
trace of fear, he said, "You could stop my doing this 
if you wished, Elsa, but I cannot see that you would 
do any good by it. You will not prevent Countess 
Lichtenthal from dying." 

"I shall prevent that woman from usurping her 

"Yes; but you forget that she will then be put to 

" No ; I forget nothing ! " 

" Surely you forget that I have promised to save her ? " 



** If it is possible," said Elsa, quoting his own words. 

**If I live/** said Ahmed, solemnly. 

** You do not mean — ? ** she cried. 

^ How could I face her to-morrow, after I had broken 
that promise ?** 

** You would be gone!" 

'"Exactly! I must take flight, of course. I could 
scarcely stay here to reckon with the Grand Duke, 
after leading him to suppose that his wife would be 
restored to perfect physical health in a few weeks. 
True, he might not survive the shock of finding that 
she was dead; but even then there are plenty of people 
who would demand an account of me. No, my dear 
Elsa, what you have to do is quite simple. Gro at once 
to Baron von Baltzan; he will tel^raph to Wilhelms- 
brunn; and, if you give the dying woman a few drops 
from this bottle every two hours, his Royal Highness 
may be here while she still breathes. Only, I shall not 
wait to meet him." 

** You will leave the prison ? " 

''Yes," said the young man, with a snule in which 
contempt for life mingled with a certain sadness at the 
thought of losing Elsa. '" I shall leave! but not by the 
door; that might be difficult; besides, there are so many 
easier and shorter ways upon that shelf," he added, 
pointing to the array of bottles in which his friend 
Meissener took a justifiable pride. 

"You would not kill yourself?" said the nurse, 
clutching at his sleeve in terror lest he should take up 
one of those deadly bottles then and there. 

••Undoubtedly I should!" 

**Oh, but you mustn't, you mustn't!" 



'"Why not?" he asked, with a slight shrug of the 

"^Because it would kill me too/' she said» in a low 
hoarse voice, ** and because," she continued, falling on 
her knees at his feet, ** that would mean the death of 

"^Elsa!" he cried, lifting her from the ground and 
holding her tight in his arms. 

For a moment she looked up at him, and he read in 
the flush that had mounted to her cheeks the confirma- 
tion of what she had said. But the next instant her 
head sank upon his breast, and a storm of sobs shook 
her whole frame. This was the first and the last time 
he felt that a conflict of will would arise between them, 
for from henceforth they were bound together by a 
living link. 

Nevertheless, if in future he must choose for her, he 
ought at least to be able to satisfy her that he acted 
according to his conscience, and, so far as his lights 
went, for the best Therefore he spoke to her very 
genUy, as one speaks to a frightened child, passing his 
hand over her hair with a slow soothmg movement 

** If the thing I am doing is wrong, Elsa, I alone shall 
be to blame, since you knew nothing of it, until it was 
too late for me to retrace my steps. Indeed, if some 
accident had not revealed my plan to you, I should 
have only told you when it had been accomplished. 
But it was ordered otherwise, and perhaps it is better 
you should know beforehand, so that you may be pre- 
pared for what must happen were I to fail. Now, if 
this should be the case, you will disclaim all knowledge 



of my attempt, for the sake of that other life which 
hangs on yours. Remember, too, that in helping me 
you can harm no one, and you may save a fellow- 
creature from an ignominious death." 

Elsa lifted her eyes to his in mute token of obedioice, 
and, bending down, Ahmed pressed his lips fervently 
on hers. For a long time neither of them spoke, over- 
come by the feeling that they might soon be separated 
from each other for ever. At last the young man 
broke the silence, saying, "^ We must go back; there is 
much to be done." 

But before leaving the surgery, he took a parcel 
wrapped in tissue paper out of the bureau in the ad- 
joining room. He carried this with him into the ward, 
setting it down carefuUy on a chair at the bottom of the 
bed. Then leaning over the dying woman he placed 
hb ear against her side, and found that during the last 
half -hour her heart-beat had grown feebler. The end 
was not so far off as he had anticipated; it was indeed 
only with the utmost difficulty that she could be made 
to swallow the cordial which he let fall drop by drop 
on her tongue. And soon the muscles of her throat 
would refuse to perform their functions even when 
mechanically stimulated. His first care was therefore 
to prevent the limbs from becoming rigid, and to do 
this he injected a small quantity of the extract which, 
he knew, could be relied on to produce a state of sus- 
pended animation. Ahmed had also discovered, from 
his experiments on animals, that the drug delayed the 
appearance of ri^ar martia for tei. or even twenty hours 
after death. And it could be given with perfect safety 
as in no case was there any chance of the patient's 



recovering. The immediate effect of the injection was 
to bring a glow of colour back to the dying woman's 
pallid face; but Ahmed warned Elsa that the improve- 
ment was only apparent, and that, though the essence 
would undoubtedly prolong life, no return to con- 
sciousness would occur. He explained the strange 
hallucination under which the Countess had been for 
many days, and how he had fostered it in order that her 
mind might be diverted from the subject of her dis- 
figurement, as weU as from the pain her injuries would 
otherwise have occasioned her. For this reason, if 
any knowledge of what was happening should filter 
into her brain, it would fit in with certain preconceived 
notions that she had cherished of late, and not cause 
her the least mental distress. It was just possible that 
she might fancy she was being dressed to play her 
favourite part; but before the hour came for her to 
step upon the stage, the curtain would have fallen for 
the last time. Elsa might rest assured, however, that 
if the Countess experienced any sensation it would be 
of a pleasurable nature. But from Ahmed's memory 
of hb own feelings, when under the drug, he was con- 
vinced that, after the first few seconds, she would 
become oblivious of her surroundings, and so remain 
until the end. Having told Elsa what was necessary, 
he then left the ward. 

The doctor next changed his boots for a pair of thick 
felt slippers, and after picking up a little blue glass 
bottle from the surgery table, he walked across the 
passage to Elsa's room. Striking a match, he looked 
about him for a moment, and, as soon as he had found 
the nurse's handbag, he hastily slipped a thick roll of 



bank notes into it. ** This will be more useful to me» 
if anything goes wrong to-night,'* he thought, putting 
his fingers on the smaU phial in his breast-pocket 
Ahmed, who moved slowly with cat-like tread, halted 
when he reached the end ward, and, holding his breath, 
listoied intently for some little time. Then he turned 
away and walked back, as softly as before, towards the 
other end of the building. There he stood for a while 
at the top of the staircase which led to the Governor's 
apartments. Not a sound came up it; no doubt, von 
Baltzan had, as usual, left the prison at nightfall for 
the more congenial atmosphere of the officers' casino. 
**So much the better," he reflected; **the fewer people 
about, the safer my task! Luckily my friend Herr 
Holtzmann is not given to prowling about here at any 
time, and even the stranger from Mittelburg, who has 
haunted this place all day long, must want a few hours' 
sleep to-night; it's to be hoped that Mnischko will 
sleep too." 

When Ahmed had made certain that no one was 
stirring below, he retraced his steps with the same 
caution to the end ward, slowly opened the door, and 
glided into the room. He had heard Frau Schmidt's 
heavy breathing, and guessed that the powerful opiate 
he had given her had already taken effect; though, had 
she been still awake, he could easily have made an 
excuse for this late visit. But the attendant was sound 
asleep with her head thrown back, and her mouth 
open. On the table, by the side of a cup that con- 
tained some dregs of coffee, stood the phial, and holding 
this up to the light, Ahmed found it to be empty. He 
then took out the little bottle that had been used on 



the previous eveaing, and put it down in place of the 
other, which he now pocketed. In the meantime he 
studied the position in which Marie was sitting, and 
came to the conclusion that she had moved very little 
since he had seen her three hours before. He was in 
the act of closing the door behind him, as nobelessly 
as possible, when he caught sight of a tall grey figure 
advancing towards him from the end of the corridor. 
The executioner passed quickly by in silence, but drew 
back the hood of the dark lantern he carried, so as to 
throw a shaft of light on Ahmed, who had stood dead 
still. And he had soon disappeared down the stair- 
case leading to von Baltzan's quarters; but the im- 
pression which his sinister side-glance had produced 
did not fade away so rapidly. '^What if this man 
comes back?" thought Ahmed; "suppose something 
in my face betrayed me when he turned his lantern on 
it just now?" However, the doctor was too much a 
man of action to pause to consider what might happen 
in circumstances which were beyond his control. He 
therefore followed the other down the corridor almost 
immediately, and re-entered the ward where he had 
left Elsa to complete her share of the work. This she 
had, with great reluctance, already done, so that the 
unconscious woman was lying on the bed fully dressed 
but without shoes. As Ahmed now required no fur- 
ther assistance from Elsa, and wanted to make sure 
that she should not be implicated in what he was about 
to do, he persuaded her to go at once to her own room, 
charging her not to leave it until sunmioned by him 
next morning, when he would have to perform an 
extremely difficult operation, during which he would 


need her aid in a new capacity. But if in the mean- 
time there was an alarm, and others should come to 
look for her, she must on no account be roused easOy. 
Elsa understood all that his final warning implied, and 
a mist of tears shut him out of her sight as they silently 
took leave of one another. She could not approve of 
what he was doing; yet, fiUed with horror as she was 
at the bare idea, she had assbted in its execution with- 
out fear of consequences, or r^ard to the moral re- 
sponsibility which such a deed entailed. 

For his own part, Ahmed had no more doubt that his 
present plan was the best possible, than when he had 
brought home the amputated limb from the laboratory 
in order to mend the dachshund's shattered thigh-bone. 
If any one could have saved the life of Countess Lich- 
tenthal, after the second shock, he would have done it; 
but even the Professor had taken a hopeless view of the 
case, and had only agreed to the proposed operation, 
as affording a remote chance of recovery, in the face of 
otherwise certain death. It would be a very great 
surprise to him to hear by-and-by that this operation 
had proved entirely a success, and the thing which 
Ahmed dreaded most, next to the failure of his scheme, 
was the task of telling Dr. Weigand how this had come 
about; for explanation of some sort he must make, but 
as far as possible he would avoid particulars, in the 
hope that the enormous amount of work the Professor 
got through each day would divert his mind from 
a case with which he had finished. The danger of 
detection in any other quarter he considered so small 
that it might be neglected. The risk would be run 
once and for all that night. As he had determined to 



incur this risk, and as his preparations were now fin- 
ished, he dismissed from his thoughts all considerations 
of what might happen afterwards and concentrated 
his whole attrition on the dying woman. The end 
came very slowly, and it was past midnight when she 
ceased to breathe. But even then it was difficult to 
believe her dead, so well had the drug preserved the 
peaceful expression of sleep. Having lowered the 
lamp Ahmed cautiously opened the door of the ward> 
and looked along the passage in both directions. He 
then walked swtftly down to the end ward, and after 
unlocking the door, hurried back to the head of the 
stairs. When he had listened there for a few seconds 
to hear if any one was coming up, he went to the room 
where the body lay, lifted it in his arms and carried it 
quickly down the passage. Ahmed pushed the un- 
locked door open with his shoulder and entered, gently 
closing it behind him. 

'"Rise, Mariska!" he said in a low tone. 

Marie got up at once from the bench on which she 
had been sitting so long; but her eyes remained shut. 

When he told her also to take off her shoes, she 
obeyed and came towards him. 

*' Stand there," he said, pointing to a spot by the side 
of the door. He then set his burden down on the bench 
in as nearly as possible the same position which she 
had occupied, taking great care to place the body in a 
life-like attitude, the last touch of resemblance being 
given by putting Marie's weD-wom shoes on the dead 
woman's feet. Ahmed had knelt down to do this, and 
he was just about to get up again, when a sound from 
outside suddenly arrested his movements. Catching 



his breath, he stopped to listen, and soon distinguished 
the cause of his alann. It was the sound of regular 
footsteps approaching down the corridor, they were 
fast drawing near, and before long he could recognise 
the ryhthmic tread of Baron von Baltzan. ^ That man 
in grey did suspect me, then, and he has conmiunicated 
with the Grovemor," thought Ahmed. What was he 
to do? Whatever it was, it must be done quickly. 
Glancing round at Marie, who stood motionless a litde 
to one side of the door, and at the figure he had posed 
on the bench by the stove, he went over to the sleeping 
Frau Schmidt, and quietly moved her chair back 
several feet. Then, after bringing the table with the 
lamp into the space thus left free, he came softly towards 
the door and placed hb ear close against it. Strangely 
enough, acute though his hearing was, he only caught 
the sound of a single footstep, and yet he did not think 
that the tread of any man could be so light as to escape 
him at a short distance. Was von Baltzan alone, 
then ? Well, it would not be long now before he knew, 
thought the doctor, as he took the little blue bottle out 
of his pocket and uncorked it, smiling at the fragrant 
odour of peach kernels which was di£Fused. Another 
question also flashed into his mind in that brief moment 
of waiting. Would the sacrifice of his life secure a 
respite for her ? If so, his purpose was accomplished. 
After what seemed to Ahmed an interminable delay, 
there came a tap on the iron door. He paused a few 
seconds, then drew back the panel inside the grill, and 
whispered "Sh — !" He was standing well back out 
of the line of sight, and could neither see von Baltzan 
nor be seen by him, Marie being in a similar position 



on the other side of the door. He knew that the Gov- 
ernor was looking in through the trap, and he waited 
breathless for the door to be opened. But, for some 
reason, von Baltzan appeared to hesitate about coming 
into the ward. He made no move of any kind for over 
a minute, remaining invisible to the doctor, who mean- 
while suffered an eternity of suspense. At last, how- 
ever, with a deep-drawn sigh, he turned away from 
the door. 

Ahmed breathed freely once again, and listened to 
the receding footsteps of the Governor with a growing 
sensation of relief as they gradually became faint. He 
knew then that he could not have borne this dead 
weight of silent uncertainty much longer; his limit of 
mental endurance had been all but reached, and in 
another second he felt that he must have cried out 
aloud. Fearless of death and indifferent to pain, he 
could meet danger face to face without flinching, but 
he had not the courage which can calmly abide the 
slow closing of the unseen hand of fate. That was the 
one quality possessed by his own people that Western 
culture had robbed him of, giving him in its place an 
indomitable desire to struggle against the force of cir- 
cumstance. This impulse had led him on, step by 
step, till he found himself in violent conflict with the 
law, and had urged him to carry out his plan, no mat- 
ter how slender its chances of success might be. There- 
fore the Governor had no sooner gone than Ahmed 
recovered his usual composure; he felt also a sense of 
shame at having been, even momentarily, unnerved. 
He was sure now that the executioner had guessed 
nothing, and that von Baltzan's visit had only been 



prompted by a feeling of sympathy for the condemned 

It never occurred to him that a way to retreat was 
still open. He well knew that the attempt to rescue 
Marie would constitute a crime; but he had made up 
his mind to commit that crime, and if it were found 
out he was provided with a swift, though rather painful, 
means of escape In the bottle that he now returned to 
his pocket Having extinguished the lamp, Ahmed 
poured the oil remaining in it on the heap of cinders 
beneath the stove and set it back on the table, so that 
it might seem to have burnt itself out. He then slowly 
opened the door, looked out into the passage, and 
listened a few seconds. Not seeing a sign of any one 
in the dim-lit corridor, nor hearing the smaUest sound, 
he whispered to the woman who had stood motionless 
by his side all the time, ** Come, Mariska!*' 

She took the hand he gave her and followed him out, 
walking as though in a dream, with her eyes closed. 
Gradually he pulled the door to behind them, and, 
holding the catch of the spring lock back with his key, 
let it fall silently into its place. For thb had to be 
done without in the least degree disturbing the slum- 
bers of Frau Schmidt. He then led Marie quickly 
down the passage and into the ward that Countess 
Lichtenthal had occupied until half-an-hour before. 

"Wake, Mariska!" he said, drawing his hand gently 
across her forehead, as soon as he had turned up the 
lamp. After a slight quivering of the eyelids her eyes 
opened, and she looked around her with an expression 
of wonder. 

"Where am I?** 



**Safe," answered Ahmed. 

**What has happened? How did I get here?** 
asked Marie in the same hoarse tone of surprise. 

** Is it not enough that you are safe, Mariska ? " 

"Yes, yes, of course; nothing eke matters; you have 
taken me away from the prison, then?'' 

"Not yet; but I will before very long." 

"You can, doctor?" 

" If you obey my orders, yes." 

"I have done so always; I will do anything you tell 
me," said Marie, throwing her arms round his neck 
and clinging to him in a sudden access of fear. 

" Even though I ask you to trust me blindly; to place 
yourself in my hands ? '' he said slowly, gazing at the 
agonised woman with a curious look of pity. 

" I will obey, whatever it is you ask, doctor." 

The perfume of her warm breath encircled him, and 
their lips were so near together that if he had bent his 
head forward ever so little they must have touched. 
It seemed to Ahmed that he was sinking beneath the 
surface of a fathomless sea, drawn down by the almost 
impalpable pressure of this woman's embrace, and as 
her mouth formed itself into that well-remembered 
smile a wave of emotion swept through his brain. He 
stretched out his hands unconsciously, and was about 
to clasp them round Marie's waist, when on a sudden 
there came between him and her the vision of another 
face, perhaps less lovely but more spiritual: the face 
of Elsa, staring at him with a pained look of reproach 
and bitter disappointment. For an instant he could 
scarcely believe that she had not entered the room, 
and so vivid was this impression on his mind that he 



turned his eyes towards the door to make sure that she 
was not really there. As he did this, he gently released 
Marie's arms from about his neck; the thought of Elsa 
awakening Ahmed to what a depth of ingratitude he 
would fall if he betrayed the confidence she had placed 
in him that night. For his sake she had helped him 
to save thb woman from certain death, for his sake she 
had even stifled her jealousy; against her instinct, Elsa 
had left him alone with the one rival that she feared, 
and he was within a little of proving that it would have 
been wiser to play the spy on him. And quick upon 
the heels of this thought there followed another. Had 
he not also been on the verge of making that one false 
step that might have wrecked his scheme? But, in 
spite of conscience and of reason, it was next to unpos- 
sible to resist the silent appeal of those burning, sen- 
suous lips that tempted him to forget all else but the 
fulfilment of a long-cherished, overmastering desire. 
Marie's hands still held fast to his, and their fingers 
had become interlaced, so that he could not free him- 
self without using more force than he had the heart to 
put forth. But, after one last strong convulsive closing 
of the fingers, she graduaUy relaxed her grasp; then, 
dropping her hands to her sides, she turned her head 
away from him. 

"Mariska," he said, "you promised to obejr me." 
"Yes," replied Marie, with a choking sound in her 
voice, as though struggling to suppress a sob. 

"Listen, then," said Ahmed, speaking with an 
accent of command, but not unsympathetically. "I 
am going to prepare a sleeping-draught, and you must 
be ready to take it in a few minutes." 



When the doctor returned he found Marie lying in 
bed with one arm across her eyes. Guessing that she 
held it in this position to hide her tears, he placed hb 
hand upon her feverish brow, and said in a kindly 
soothing tone — 

"Do not weep, my dove; the world has been very 
cruel to you till to-day, but henceforth it shall give you 
of its best. Come now, tiy and drink this!" he added, 
offering her a cup he had brought with him. "You 
won't dislike it, and it wiU dry your tears.*' She 
uncovered her face, and, raising her head a little, swal- 
lowed down the hot sweet wine as quickly as the con- 
tinuous throbbing of her breast would allow. Then 
turning her eyes to Ahmed, she said with a trembling 
note of pathos in her broken voice, "It had a bitter 
taste towards the end, but I drank it all, as you told 
me, doctor." 

''That was good, Mariska," he said, taking the cup 
from her; " and now compose yourself — think only of 
what I told you: that from to-day life will be made 
easy for you, while no memory of what has gone before 
will ever trouble you again." 

" There is one thing I can never forget," said Marie, 
slowly, as if she were thinking aloud, in a tone that 
sounded far off; "one memory that will remain with 
me to my last hour: his look that night when he first 
felt the noose about his throat. It was a look that 
told me that he knew I had lured him to his death. 
That is why I am so much afraid to die, because I 
dare not meet him, face to face, before the judg- 
ment-seat of God." Her voice sank into a whisper 
as she spoke these last words; and, letting her head 



fall back upon the pillow, in a few moments she was 
fast asleep. 

Ahmed, who had been struck with horror at her 
unconscious confession, watched her a little while 
longer; then, kneeling down beside her, he shaved away 
the hair that grew so low down upon her forehead, for 
some distance. After binding a pad of prepared gauze 
over the place he had laid bare, he picked up the black 
velvet dress that Marie had taken off, and quietly left 
the room with it. 

** Elsa was right," he thought; ** this woman is guilty. 
Well, so much the greater need was there to wipe out 
ihe past!" 


It was still dark when the doctor roused himself to look 
at his watch; but, as soon as he had struck a match, he 
saw that it was already half-past six, and before long 
the grey light of dawn poured in through the surgery 
window. Nor had he waited many minutes when a 
sound of heavy footsteps reached him from the direc- 
tion of the prison. After a short while he heard the 
door that led into the infirmary open. Then amidst 
the little group of men, which moved slowly down, the 
passage towards that other door at the farther end of 
it, he could detect the presence of one whose feet were 
dragged along, as though their owner lacked the power 
to lift them from the ground. And the aspect of this 
man was as plain to Ahmed as if he had seen him. 

Knowing that all would soon be over with Mnischko 
and that he would shortly be called on to add the final 
irony of attesting the cause of death, he went out into 
the corridor directly it had grown quiet again, in order 
to be ready when Holtzmann should come to summon 
him. He wanted also to make certain that no one else 
should enter the end ward before the time arrived for 
him to bring the condemned woman out. No one 
would wish to take this task out of his hands, to be sure; 
but it was nevertheless well to show that he only waited 
for their signal. 



They did not keep him waiting long; for, though the 
second-hand of his watch had never seemed to creep 
so slowly round the dial before, Ahmed was surprised 
to see how brief a space of time had really passed when 
the chief warder appeared in the doorway and beck- 
oned to him. Already the remains of the beheaded 
had been placed in a rough wooden shell; but it was 
not without an inward shudder that the doctor could 
bring himself to make the necessary examination. 
And he was grateful to von Baltzan for hurrying 
through these formalities as quickly as possible. So 
soon, therefore, as the requirements of the law had 
been satisfied, the coffin was borne away by two of 
the attendants. 

^ You would like to fetch her yourself ? ** von Baltzan 
asked Ahmed. 

** Yes," replied he. 

*" Then it b time," said the other gravely. 

*' She will not be conscious of what happens." 

**So much the better!** 

The doctor left the great dismal chamber in which 
the one feature that struck the eye was an upright 
block, draped in black, and bathed in the cold light 
that fell on it from three open casements. Groing into 
the end ward, Ahmed shut the door carefully behind 
him, and stood still a moment so as to regain complete 
control of his nerves. It was a great relief to him to 
find that the attendant had not awakaied, since she 
must inevitably have noticed something strange in the 
immobility of her charge. Fortunately, however, litde 
else in the appearance of the dead woman suggested 
that she was no longer alive. The doctor bound a 



large silk muffler over her eyes; thai taking Frau 
Schmidt by the elbows, he shook her to and fro mitil 
she showed signs of coming to herself. But before she 
was aware what had happened he went back to the 
Countess, and placing her left arm across his shoulder 
and his right arm round her body, lifted her to her feet 

'" Open the door," he said brusquely to the attendant 
who was still half asleep. She obeyed the order me- 
chanically, muttering as she walked over to the door, 
** I must have dropped off again." 

"Well, that doesn't matter now," said Ahmed. 

" I can't tell how I could, though," said the woman, 
in a puzzled tone as she fumbled with her keys. 

" You were tired out. I told you the stuff would not 
have the same effect again." While he said this, he 
moved towards the door, holding the dead body so that 
it seemed to be that of a semi-conscious woman who 
climg to him for support. As he passed out Frau 
Schmidt exclaimed in a whisper — 

"Her dress?" 

"Oh," said the doctor, with a frown, "you want 
that, eh ? " 

" It is mine by right," she answered, shuffling away 
down the corridor. 

Ahmed carried the lifeless figure into the centre of 
the big bare room and let it sink gently down upon its 
knees, the head resting on the block. And as he did 
this only one of the silent men who were standing round 
it observed him closely. Von Baltzan had at once 
turned his eyes away and furtively passed his hand 
across them, while the others under his command had 
done much the same, either being, like Holtzmann, 



genuinely affected, or following suit as a matter of 
discipline. But the tall red-bearded man in grey hold- 
ing a sharpened sword had, from the instant Ahmed 
entered the room, watched his every movement And 
now there occurred one of those terrible pauses that 
shake the most iron nerves; for if men have braced 
themselves to witness some awful sight an unwonted 
delay is more than flesh and blood can bear. At last 
the silence was broken by von Baltzan speaking in a 
hoarse voice — 

"Is there anything wrong?** 

"This woman is dead?" replied the executioner. 

"She is insensible," explained von Baltzan; "it was 
agreed that she should be made so." 

" She is dead ! " insisted the other. 

Ahmed stepped forward, and, kneeling down beside 
her, lifted the woman's cold hand. Then, taking a 
lancet from his pocket, he said to the executioner, 
"Come here, and convince yourself." The doctor 
drew the point of the knife lightly across one of the 
limp fingers, and immediately a red stream welled 
out from it. 

"H'm!" muttered the man in grey. "I could not 
have believed it possible." 

The executioner stood to one side, poising his sword 
in the air, and the others covered their eyes. 

This time the Governor ordered them to take the 
body back to the ward, and for a little while Ahmed 
was hard at work with his sleeves rolled up. As von 
Baltzan had said when he first heard of what the doctor 
proposed to do, it was a ghastly business; more so even 



than the honest Governor dreamt of. And familiar 
as the doctor had long been with all the horrors of the 
dissecting-room thb was an ordeal at which his soul 
revolted. Yet not only were there tell-tale traces that 
must be removed before he could hand the body over 
to those who would destroy it; but it was also necessary 
to cany out a semblance of the operation he had 
described to von Baltzan, who, though incapable of 
understanding the details of such a process, had taken 
an involuntary interest in it So much indeed had his 
curiosity been excited that he came himself to the ward 
before Ahmed had quite finished. But the gruesome 
spectacle that met his eyes made him wish he had not 
vaitured to look again on the face of her whose beauty 
he had so greatly admired in life. He left at once with 
a heavy heart, and the firm conviction that he could 
never take the doctor's bloodstained hand in his again. 
Soon, however, men came to bear the body away, and 
nothing remained to mark its presence there but a 
black velvet gown with some ugly smears upon the 

Ahmed hurried off to his surgery carrying a little 
heap of things in his apron; these he soaked in paraffin 
and burnt piece by piece, giving a sigh of relief when 
they were finally consumed. Thai, having washed 
his hands and having made various preparations for 
the coming operation, he went across to Elsa's room. 
The fact that the nurse answered directly he called her 
name, made him fear that she must have heard those 
footsteps coming and going outside her door. And 
though she had seen nothing, no doubt her imagination 
would have supplied a vivid picture of all that passed. 



After telling her that he should want her assistance 
shortly, the doctor let himself into the ward where 
Marie was lying. She, at any rate, had slept on peace- 
fully, undisturbed by these muffled sounds. Moreover, 
when he looked closely at her placid expressionless 
features he could see no sign that she had been troubled 
by disquieting dreams; even the haunting memory of 
her victim's face seemed to have been absent from her 
mind in sleep. Soon it will be banished altogether 
thought Ahmed, as he b^an to get ready for the opera- 
tion. And before long he was joined by Elsa, who, m 
spite of her deadly pallor, went about the work of 
setting things in order with a resolute air. The young 
man could not help being struck by her splendid 
courage, and much as he had always admired her his 
heart was now filled with a new tenderness. Having 
determined to help him, Elsa made no protest when 
Ahmed explained what he required her to do, and 
although she had never been called on to administer 
chloroform before, the nurse felt sure she could give it 
safely. This left the doctor to operate alone; but he 
was accustomed to work single-handed in the laboratory. 
Besides, what he was about to do depended on his 
ability to repeat an experiment which he had per- 
formed with success on the brains of animals, and, 
as it did not involve the section of large arteries, he 
could the more easily dispense with the services of an 

yfhea Marie awoke about noon her eyes opened 
wide with astonishment on seeing the nurse, who stood 
by her bedside, holding a basin of beef -tea out to her. 
She ate it greedily, glancing up every now and then at 



Elsa's pale face, as though curious to know what sort 
of person this red-haired woman was who had taken 
the doctor's place. But to Elsa it seemed hardly 
possible that she was not attending the same patient 
as yesterday, so wonderfully like the Countess did this 
stranger appear. Only with the greatest difficulty 
could she persuade herself that the dying woman had 
not made a marvelous recoveiy during the night. For 
in spite of the bandage across Marie's forehead, her 
resemblance to Countess Lichtenthal was even more 
striking close at hand than it had been when Elsa saw 
her through the grill; and it was not until she had 
looked at Marie's features for a long time that she could 
perceive any single point of difference. Then it was 
merely a slight pucker to one side of the mouth, which, 
however, became more marked as soon as the woman 

^Where is the doctor?" she asked, pushing the 
empty bowl away. 

** He will be here directly," said Elsa. 

*' Your face is strange to me," said Marie, slowly; 
^you areu't one of the prison attendants?" 


** What are you doing here, then ?" 

" Helping the doctor." 

** Oh, he brought you with him?" 


** You have known him a long tune ? " 


** And you are very fond of him ? " asked Marie, with 
a sly look at Elsa, adding, when she remained silent, 
** Is he your husband ? " 



''No!" answered Elsa in a low voice, her pallid 
cheeks suddenly becoming suffused with colour. 

^'Ah!^ exclaimed Marie, with a smile that clearly 
displayed the expression of base cunning which formed 
the sole defect in an otherwise perfect face. To the 
nurse, who had been taught to observe such things, 
this expression revealed the history of a sordid UTe, 
and reminded her of all she had read about Marie at 
the time of the trial. It showed her that the woman 
was by nature heartless and by training the sport of 
man's passion. How could such a creature dbtin- 
guish between right and wrong? And since she had 
made a trade of love, why should she not in cold blood 
have helped to kill a man for gain ? Elsa experienced 
the warning sensation that a dangerous woman never 
fails to inspire in the breasts of all who are of her own 
sex; and, selfish in one thing, she offered up a silent 
prayer of thanks that Ahmed had escaped from this 
woman's toils. It gave her a glow of pleasure to fed 
that perhaps she had rescued him from the fate of the 
murdered man. Elsa did not then stop to consider 
how, if Marie were the abandoned creature she 
thought her, it would be a refinement of cruelty to 
foist her upon the Grand Duke in the place of his 
beloved wife. For she had already accepted Ahmed's 
view that there was no other way of saving his Royal 
Highness from life-long r^ret, and she had no idea 
even what kind of operation he intended to perform, 
though she guessed from his anxiety and the nature 
of his preparations that it was an extremdy difficult 

About one o'clock Ahmed entered the room, carrying 




a big leather bag which he set down carefully on a 
disused table. 

^ Well, Mariska," he said in a cheerful tone, coming 
over to the bed, **how are you this morning? None 
the worse for a good night's rest?" 

"' I am all the better," she answered. 

** That's right. No headache ? " 

" Not the least." 

*'Ah, I'm glad you've had a nice long sleep," said 
Ahmed, "because I wanted you to rest before I per- 
formed a trifling operation that is necessary. One of 
the bums you received the other day threatens to leave 
an ugly scar, unless we draw the skin together a little. 
And as this would be rather painful if you were wide 
awake, I am going to send you off again." 

"Won't the place get all right of itself?" she asked. 

"Possibly," he answered; "but it will spoil your 
good looks if it does." 

" I suppose you must do whatever you think best," 
she said, in a tone of resignation. 

She remained quite passive while he fixed a curious 
funnel-shaped mask over her face. And before long her 
deep r^ular breathing showed that the anaesthetic had 
produced its usual sensation of choking, quickly fol- 
lowed by an absence of any conscious sensation. Elsa 
continued, from time to time, to drop some chloroform 
into the metal receiver, while Ahmed was rapidly 
making his final preparations. He first put a long 
narrow table, with a mattress on it, near the bed, in a 
position where most light was to be obtained. Then 
from the surgery he fetched, besides cans of hot and 
cold water and some basins, the dental machine he had 



bought in Leipzig. When he had placed this by the 
side of the table farthest from the bed, he gave the 
treadle two or three turns in order to make sure that 
the small circular saw, which had been previously 
inserted in the movable socket, was revolving fredy. 
He next pulled his coat off, rolled up his shirt-sleeves, 
and slipped on a loose oilskin smock. Again he washed 
his hands, scrubbing them in soap and hot water, and 
afterwards plunging them into a solution of carbolic 
acid. Then, having taken certain instruments and a 
bundle of dressings out of his bag, he made a solution 
of biniodide of mercuiy with warm water m one of the 
basins, and dropped a piece of lint into it Eveiything 
being now ready, he lifted Marie's limp and apparently 
lifeless body up in his arms and laid it on the operating- 

To Elsa's intense surprise he left the bandages on the 
woman's throat undisturbed, and removed one that was 
bound tightly round her head. For as yet the nurse 
had been unable to fathom the object of this bandage, 
while she had naturally supposed that the operation 
which Ahmed was about to perform would simulate an 
extensive grafting of skin, such as he had described to 
her in his letter from Wilhelmsbrunn. But she now 
saw that the front of the woman's head had been pre- 
pared for an operation of a much more serious char- 
acter than that which she had hitherto imagined to 
have been intended. The exact nature of thb opera- 
tion she could not guess; nor, though she was standing 
on the opposite side of the table within a few feet of 
Ahmed, could she follow hb movements with any 
d^ree of certainty, as the administration of the anses* 



thetic demanded the closest attention on her part 
Vaguely, however, it seemed to her that, on the woman's 
forehead, where the hair ordinarily grew, he made a 
wide semicircular incbion, and pulled a long flap of 
scalp, together with the underlying membrane, down- 
wards so as to expose the bony surf ace beneath. Then 
by means of a high-geared apparatus driven with the 
root, such as dentist's use for drilling a hole in a tooth» 
he sawed in a circle through the skuU. When he had 
removed the separated piece of bone, he wrapped it in 
the lint that had been soaking in the tepid antiseptic 
solution, and set it down beside his instruments. At 
the same time he glanced at a diagram which he had 
ako placed on the table. 

From that point onwards Elsa could no longer see 
what he did; but she knew instinctively that the crucial 
moment had come, and, leaning over to him, with a 
towel she gently wiped away the perspiration that stood 
in big drops upon his brow. Ahmed had paused for 
an instant, not only in order to look once more at the 
sketches of a similar operation carried out by Petra- 
koff's nameless friend, but to see whether the uncon- 
scious woman exhibited any symptoms of collapse. 
On finding that there was no ground for alarm on this 
account, he made two cuts at right angles through the 
outer covering of the brain, and drew it apart from the 
centre so as to leave the inner membrane bare. This 
he tore away, and left exposed the frontal convolu- 
tions — throbbing with each breath the woman took. 
Then, without a pause, he b^an to perform the abla- 
tion of those parts of the cortex where memory-pictures 
are stored. In this most delicate operation he used the 



spatula-shaped handle of one of his metal scalpels, 
well knowing that the least deviation from the lines 
he had mapped out would damage sensoiy and motor 
areas which lie in close proximity to the associaticm 
centres of the frontal lobe which he wished to reach, 
and would thus produce functional disturbances of a 
permanent character. But, notwithstanding two violent 
movements of the woman's eyes that terrified Elsa, as 
far as Ahmed could judge at the time his incisions should 
have entailed no unforeseen consequences. 

Having stitched up the wound and bandaged it 
afresh, he then turned to a minor, yet important 
operation that must be performed in the interval before 
the patient came to. It was on the muscle connected 
with Marie's mouth, that his fingers had itched to cut 
during the trial. Quickly selecting the proper instru- 
ment, one with a long, thin, circular blade that ter- 
minated in a sharp flattened curve, he removed the 
inhaling mask from her face. Then he deftly plunged 
his knife under the skin, and in an instant had severed 
that branch of the facial nerve which actuated this 
particular muscle. Soon Marie was back in bed, and 
before she had even partially r^ained consciousness 
every trace of the operating-table and instruments had 
disappeared. For Ahmed could not bring himself to 
inflict an unnecessary wound on her throat in order to 
give colour to the supposed grafting. Who was likely, 
he asked himself, to examine it for minute scars ? As 
for the patient herself, she was sure to suffer a little 
pain from the scorched skin when he re-dressed it, and 
would naturally imagine that a portion of it had been 
torn away. The main difficulty was to prevent her 



from localising the real seat of the operation; but for 
some time to come her brain would be inactive, and 
when she had completely recovered, the doctor hoped 
that she would not trouble about anything that had 
happened meanwhOe. 

From that day the duties of both nurse and doctor 
were lighter, since the beautiful clean wound healed 
rapidly and soon became hidden by a new growth of 
hair, while Marie's temperature, which never rose very 
high, before long dropped to normal. So far the suc- 
cess of the operation had, therefore, been unmistakable, 
and the relief that this brought to Ahmed could only be 
gauged by Elsa, who had watched hb set anxious face 
in the hours of suspense with the all-observing eyes of 
love. It was sufficient reward to her now to see him 
go about his work with his usual composure, and to 
know that she again had the chief place in hb thoughts. 
She knew, too, that he was grateful to her for all she 
had done at his bidding. Not that he told her so in 
words, but from time to time, when their eyes met, she 
saw that he looked upon her in a new light, as one who 
was bound to him by a sacred and indbsoluble tie. 
And, womanlike, Elsa had no feeling of remorse at the 
sacrifice she had made of her own free wiU, since her 
paramount wish was to be of service to the man she 
loved. She also perceived from Ahmed's manner with 
hb patient that, whatever hb interest in this woman 
might have been at one time, he had come to r^ard 
her solely in the light of a case. And, for her own part, 
Eba was too good a nurse to let her personal dislike 
prevent her from paying the utmost attention to her 



But if the physical health of his patient no longer 
gave Ahmed any anxiefy, her mental development was 
a matter that required very careful handling. Before 
many days had passed he came to the conchisicm that 
he had been successful in eradicating her memory of 
past impressions. To begin with, on returning to 
consciousness, she had not recognised him, and since 
then she had always treated him as a stranger. StiU 
it would take a considerable time to discover whether 
the association of ideas might not reawaken bygone 
memories, and to determine how far the other allied 
functions of her brain had been impaired. Was she, 
for instance, incapable of responding to any fresh 
impressions or impulses? The doctor tested these 
questions in a variety of ways, by gradually supplying 
the woman with new material for the exercise of her 
half-dormant faculties. At first he gave her some 
recent photographs of the Grand Duke that he had 
bought in the town; and when she had turned them 
over for a few days, he added several pictures of Wil- 
helmsbrunn. He persuaded Elsa to read to her for 
hours at a stretch from another copy of the book that 
the woman had herself been so absorbed in a little 
while before; and he watched the eager manner in 
which she listened to the interminable descriptions of 
court ceremonials, without giving a hint that she knew 
one word of the thin little story that wandered through 
them. It was obviously all strange to her, and as 
fascinating as ever. 

One afternoon when she had been allowed to sit up. 
Ahmed gave her the photograph of a tall elderly man 
in an undress uniform, with a young and strikingly 



beautiful lady by his side. Beneath the figures were 
written in a plain round hand the names, Hans and 
Amy. The woman recognised the sharp features 
and dignified bearing of the Grand Duke at once, and 
picking up one of the other photographs, held it out 
to Ahmed, exclaiming, with a look of inquiry — 


" Yes," said the doctor. 

""But the Princess," she asked, staring hard at the 
picture, " who is she ? " 

** Yourself." 

" Amy ? " she said, looking troubled. 

''Amalia, Countess Lichtenthal," replied Ahmed, 

"Amalia," she repeated after him, and, glancing 
again at the name on the photograph, added with an 
accent of interrogation, '*Amy?" 

But suddenly a look of intelligence lighted up her 
face, and she cried out, " Am I really like that ? " 

" Yes, of course you are," he answered. 

** As beautiful as this picture ? " 

""More beautiful!" he said, holding a small mirror 
before her face. *' See." 

After the woman had looked at her own reflection in 
silence for some time, she gave a great sight of content- 
ment. Then, though she passed her hand once or 
twice over the short and almost colourless curls upon 
her forehead, with an air of wonder, she smiled, but 
chiefly with her eyes, her upper lip being raised ever 
so little, while the lower one remained dbnost immo- 
bile. But this pleased expression of hers came sur- 
prisingly near to that of the lady in the photograph, 



who was also smiling slightly. And from that moment 
Ahmed told himself that there was no danger of the 
woman*s past consciousness reasserting itself. If she 
had forgotten even what she looked like it was clear 
enough that her mind had become a blank. Moreover, 
he felt from her extreme susceptibility to suggestion 
that she would readily accept her altered circumstances 
as having always existed. The success of his operation 
had therefore been complete; but, on reflection, the 
young surgeon was inclined to give the credit for this 
to nature. To make what he had been fortunate 
enough to do possible, it would seem that the subject 
must either have an arrested intelligence or a brain 
which had become partially atrophied through long 
disuse. And he had rightly imagined that the mind 
of this woman only received direct impressions from 
the outside world, with little or no assistance from any 
antecedent idea. All that had been necessary then 
was to follow exactly the same lines that he had worked 
out in his experiments on certain highly organised 
animals, and that had been adopted by Dr. Petrakoffs 
friend in the case of the SchlUsselburg prisoner. But 
the fact that they had both been successful afforded 
no proof that they could have operated with like result 
on a fully developed and thoroughly active brain. 

Ahmed's reports to the Grand Duke described the 
general condition of his patient as in the highest degree 
satisfactory; but added that, though she would no 
doubt soon be restored to perfect health, it was to be 
feared that for a considerable time her mind would 
remain, to a certain extent, affected by the shock she 
had undergone. For this reason the doctor bagged 



his Royal Highness not to order him to bring her 
straight back from Zwimau, as he was anxious that she 
should be quite convalescent before being subjected 
to the least excitement. And to this further delay the 
Grand Duke consulted in spite of his impati^ice to 
see his beloved again. Ahmed was well aware that her 
prolonged imprisonment had been extremely preju- 
dicial to his patient, and that nothing but fresh air 
would bring the colour back to her cheeks. He, there- 
fore, rode off next day through the deep but fast dis- 
appearing snow towards Ober Karlsdorf in search of 
a quiet place to which she might be removed, directly 
it was possible. And not far from that straggling 
village he found a spot exactly suited to his require- 
ments. It was a little farm-house up in the pine- 
woods, much patronised in sunmier, but absolutely 
deserted at this unfriendly season. Still the proprietor 
said he could make him comfortable if his wants were 
simple, and he raised no objection to putting the whole 
of his house at the doctor's disposal. In any case 
there would have been no other visitors at such a time, 
and, but for the cows, there would not be a living 
creature within a mile of the Molkenhaus, except of 
course the man's own family and the farm servants. 
So, on his return, Ahmed told von Baltzan that he 
should take his patient away from the castle as soon 
as the roads were open. The Grovemor made no 
conmient on this decision, beyond asking him to give 
Meissener notice of his departure in order that the 
prison might not be without a doctor. He had been 
unable to conquer the feeling of disgust with which 
Ahmed's supposed operation filled him; and, man of 



the worid though he was, could not bring hunself to 
express any regret at parting with his guest 

A few days later the doctor watched the sun set from 
the castle heights for the last time. He had gone 
round the prison in the morning, and had said good- 
bye to Holtzmann, who seemed somewhat downcast at 
the prospect of being delivered again into the unsym- 
pathetic hands of Meissener. For the little man was 
already on his way back from Berlin, and, as the roads 
were now quite free from snow, all Ahmed's prepara- 
tions had been made for removing the pati^it that 
night, while she slept, so that to-morrow she would 
wake up in a room looking out on the forest above 
Karlsdorf. Away below in the flooded meadows, 
where a week before there had been a sheet of ice, the 
smooth surface of the water had the aspect of burnished 
gold. Above, the great disc slowly sank through red 
banks of mist; while all round the birds piped their 
shrill songs of praise, rejoicing that the land had been 
given back to them again. Lost in the contemplation 
of this scene, the doctor suddenly became aware of a 
dark figure standing by his side. 

** The winter is over," said Father Klein. 

"Yes," answered Ahmed; **it does not last long 

"'Not as long as in your country, of course. You 
will be going there soon ? " 

** I do not think so." 

'"Ah!" exclaimed the priest, in a tone of surprise. 
**But you are leaving Zwimau?'* 

**Why do you say that?*' asked the doctor. **I 
suppose Baron von Baltzan told you." 



''No; I saw it in your face as you gazed out across 
the valley. It was the look of a man who is going away 
and who does not mean to return. What you had to 
do here is finished, doctor ? " 

"Yes, Father Klein; I am leaving to-night.** 

" Then, perhaps, I shall not see you again." 

" I am afraid not." 

''I said, perhaps, because I, too, am a bird of pas- 
sage. I am going to the Royal Chapel at Buig Sach- 
senroda to take up the duties of a brother who is no 


''Indeed!" said Ahmed, calmly, but with an inward 
sense of misgiving. 

" It will be a wrench to leave my friends here," said 
the priest, pointing to the prison; "they have greater 
need of me than people who live in palaces, but the 
Grand Duke's wish is a command, and the members 
of our order are not free-agents." 

" You had some purpose in telling me this ? '* asked 
the doctor, after a moment's pause. 

" I confess it," said Father Klein. 


" I wanted to show you that I forget nothing." 

" But you will not make any use of what you know ?" 

"Except in the service of my Master." 

"You mean " 

"That should the safety of our people one day de- 
pend on you, I might remind you " 

" There would be no occasion ! I will gladly protect 
them, if I ever have the power." 

" It might be in your hands sooner than you think.'* 

" When that time comes, I shall keep my word." 



^ And I shaO keep mine," said the priest 
With a courteous bend of the head. Father Elem 
then turned to go, and as he went down the path glanced 
at a crumpled piece of pi^>er that he Uxk from the 
breast of his long black robe. It was a tdc^n^hie 
despatch from the College at Rome, omtaining a few 
disjointed Latin words that had no i^parent sense, 
though with a meaning perfectly clear to the brother 
who held a key to the secret cypher of the order. 
Ahmed stood for a few moments kxddng stra^ht in 
fnmt of him, but seeing nothing of the landscape. He 
knew now the price that he might be called upon to 
pay for this man's silence. 

Outside the two small circles of light round the 
carriage-lamps, the courtyard was plunged in darkness 
when the Governor's servants brought the covered 
litter down the steps that night Although it had 
struck nine, and von Baltzan had long been due at the 
garrison casino, he waited to see that everything was 
done in order. After helping Elsa into the carriage, 
he shook her cordially by both hands, and thus con- 
trived to avoid Ahmed, who in the meantime was dis- 
tributing a handful of gold among the servants and 
grooms. A moment late the doctor gathered up the 
reins and, with a formal bow to the baron, which was 
acknowledged by a sti£F military salute, started his 
horses into a trot It was not quite eleven o'clock 
when he drew them up, steaming, at the door of the 
Molkenhaus, to which he had been guided by the pine- 
wood torches that a couple of men were holding at the 
top of the steep forest-road which led to the farm. 



The proprietor himself ran out from the open door- 
way to welcome him, and Ahmed found that everything 
was in readiness within for the reception of his patient 
A bright log-fire was burning upstairs, and before many 
minutes the unconscious woman had been put to bed 
in the room she was to share with Elsa. The doctor 
saw also how clean straw had been laid down for the 
horses in the great bam-like stable, and felt sure from 
this that the host of the Molkenhaus would not n^lect 
any of his guests. 

^ Madame has been long ill ? " the stout maid-servant 
asked when she took away the breakfast things next 

"Yes; for some time," answered Elsa. 

**Ah, she'll soon get better here," replied the girl, 
with a sympathetic glance at the flaxen-haired lady 
who was reclining in an arm-chair supported by pil- 
lows and wrapped up in rugs. They were seated in a 
covered wooden balcony looking out upon a clearing 
that was bounded on the farther side by asc^iding 
rows of fir-trees. Not, perhaps, an altogether inspirit- 
ing view at this damp season; but to madame, as these 
good people called her, it seemed as though she had 
awakened in paradise. And from day to day she 
gained strength, so that in less than a week she was 
able to take short walks with Elsa. The semicircular 
cut in the skin above her forehead had healed com- 
pletely, while the hair had grown over it again, and the 
separated piece of bone was now firmly fixed in its 
place. Indeed the wound had healed so well and 
caused her so little discomfort, that she had paid no 
particular attention to it, accepting Ahmed's word that 



thb injury had occurred at the same time as certain 
bums (m her throat, the cause of which she had for- 
gotten, and every trace of which had long since dis- 

During their enforced companicxiship Elsa had been 
gradually drawn to this strange woman, with the mind 
of a young child, to whom everjrthing in the world 
seemed new. And she had noticed most of all the 
change from the hardened creature, who had guessed 
her secret and asked her that cruel question, to one 
who was innocent of any evil thought. Suspicion had 
no place in an intelligence that could scarcely master 
the simplest ideas; and Elsa was touched by the way 
this woman trusted her. Ev^i words came to her 
slowly as though she were learning the names of things 
for the first time, and all abstractions were beyond her 
grasp. She existed only in the present, taking pleasure 
in the veriest trifles; as indi£Ferent to the greatest joys 
that life holds as she was ignorant of its sorrows; and 
so, in all human probability, she would continue to the 
end, knowing neither love nor hate, neither hope nor 

Each day Ahmed devoted several hours to her edu- 
cation, teaching her to observe the common facts of 
nature and to find a beauty in the woods and streams 
and in the changing aspect of the sky, to which she had 
hitherto been dead, while Elsa listened in wonder at 
the patience he displayed in explaining the same thing 
over and over again. But there was one thing that 
madame showed a strong interest in from the first 
She never grew tired of looking at herself in the glass, 
and delighted in having her hair done by Elsa after the 



fashion of the photographs Ahmed had lately given 
her. These showed a lady who was dressed in full 
court costume, and who wore a tiara of diamonds, and 
a great collar of pearls. Every now and then she would 
glance from these treasured pictures to her own re- 
flection, always smiling as she recognised her likeness 
to them. At times, too, when the mirror was not 
within reach, she would pick up one of the photographs 
and stare at it for a while as though she required to be 
constantly reminded of her good looks. She should 
be happy in a palace, where all the walls will reflect 
her image, thought Elsa. 

And, indeed, madame had some reason to be vain, 
for six weeks of fresh air had brought the colour back 
to her cheeks, and given a new sparkle to her eyes. 
Her rose-red lips now struck the dominant note in a 
face that an artist might have despaired of transferring 
to his canvas, so delicate were its gradations of tone. 
But in her flesh tints and features Ahmed perceived an 
increasing resemblance to the picture of Countess 
Lichtenthal as ''Maria Stuart." This woman also 
looked like a queen, and possessed the grace of gesture 
and freedom of movement that are to be learnt only on 
the stage. She had, too, the unconscious charm that 
perfect health lends even to homely youth, and in her 
whole being there was but one discord. When she 
spoke, her voice sounded flat and toneless, as though 
she were repeating a lesson; and, try as he would, the 
doctor could not prevail upon her to utter the short 
name of *' Hans " with an accent of enthusiasm. There 
was no longer any light or shade in her speech, just as 
there was no more passion in her heart; henceforth 



she must depend wholly on her surroundings; her future 
would be one dead level of enjoyment or misery, as 
these were pleasant or the reverse. Even the delight 
she took in the contemplation of her beauty was guile- 
less, and she made no ^ort to attract Ahmed, though 
they were often alone for hours together. Meanwhile 
he had been able to satisfy himself that she could re- 
member nothing. For when he talked in the Cossack 
dialect, she did not appear to understand a word; nor 
did she show any sign of recognition when he called 

Before long Ahmed came to the conclusion that he 
might now take her to the man who waited so impa- 
tiently for her. He felt that there would be no greater 
risk of a violent awakening to full consciousness at the 
present than at some future time. He even doubted 
whether the sudden plunge into a new and brilliant 
world would produce any perceptible reaction in her 
mind. Therefore, though her attitude was by no means 
absolutely certain, he decided that the hour had come 
when she must be subjected to this ordeal. With that 
purpose in view he rode over one morning to Wilhelms- 
brunn, saw the Grand Duke himself, and made all 
arrangements for the return of Countess Lichtenthal 
on the next afternoon. 

It was almost dusk when the open landau that had 
met them half-way from Oberkarlsdorf passed through 
the great gateway of the park. Facing the horses sat 
a lady wrapped in rich furs, alone, while on the seat 
opposite were Elsa and Ahmed. He noted the dazed 
expression of her large blue eyes, as she looked out over 
the broad green slopes of the park to the russet planta- 



tions and the silver lake. She did not, however, seem 
to pay special attention to any particular beauty of the 
landscape, though its general air of grandeur evidently 
impressed her. And it was Ahmed who first caught 
sight of the Grand Duke standing on the same knoll, 
from which he had watched the departing carriage in 
the moonlight three months before. He was holding 
the big hound Sigurd by the leash, so that his wife 
might see that her favourite had not been neglected. 
The coachman drew up his horses wh^i he reached this 
place, and the lackey, springing to the ground, flung 
open the door of the carriage. 

As Ahmed helped the lady to alight, the Grand Duke 
came quickly towards her. "Hans," she cried, and 
soon she was nestling in his arms. But in his joy of 
seeing her again he had foigott^i everything else, and 
had let Sigurd loose. The hound crept slowly up to 
them, with its nose on the ground, sniffed at the hem 
of the lady's dress for a moment doubtfully, and then 
raising its massive head, uttered a low growl. She 
shrank away, with a look of surprise, and in another 
second it would have flown at her throat had not the 
doctor prevented it. Seizing the stout leather thong 
in both hands, Alimed dragged the powerful animal 
back, though it tore up the ground in its endeavour to 
get free. 

"' Is the beast mad ? " exclaimed the Grand Duke. 

""No; he has forgotten the Countess, that is all," 
answered Ahmed. 

"Then I will have him shot!*' 

" Will your Royal Highness give Sigurd to me ? " 

"If you will take him, yes!" 


The pale stars were shining in a cloudless sky when 
Ahmed drove through the Augustus Platz that night; 
but, late as it was, the windows of Dr. Weigand's work- 
room were not yet dark. And those three faint splashes 
of light half-way up the dead front of the comer house 
reminded him that he would have to render an account 
of his actions on the morrow. Wearied, however, by 
the anxieties of the last weeks, he could not then decide 
how this was to be done, although he well knew that 
the Professor's suspicions would be aroused by one 
incautious word. The young man trudged up the 
stairs to his third floor in the Brliderstrasse, carrying 
hb bag of instrum^its in one hand, and leading the 
huge slate-coloured hound with the other. Sigurd had 
hung hb head dejectedly throughout the journey; in 
some inexplicable manner he appeared to have guessed 
that sentence of death had been passed upon him, and 
that he had only been saved by the doctor's interven- 
tion. He was following hb new master into the hall 
wh^i Fritz rushed out of the kitchen and jumped up 
at Ahmed, frantic with joy. But sudd^ily seeing the 
intruder, he turned upon him with a savage snari. 
The hound did not take the slightest notice of thb 
absurd little creature, but looked inquiringly with hb 
great bloodshot eyes towards the doctor, and at the 
same time wagged hb tail in a deprecating way. 



"Down, Fritzchen, down!" said Ahmed. Frau 
Mankel, hearing the dachshund's shrill bark, hurried 
out to greet her ever-welcome guest. She was almost 
as delighted at the doctor's return as Fritz himself; so 
much so, indeed, that she made no objection to har- 
bouring the monster he had brought back with him, 
provided the two animals could agree together. 

** They'll be good friends in a few minutes, you may 
be sure, Frau Mankel." 

"Fritzchen is jealous," explained the landlady. 

" Well, he'll soon have Fraulein Hartvig to spoil him 
again," said Ahmed. 

" She is coming home before veiy long ? 

-Yes, in a few days; 

"Ah, that's good news! 

"And th«i we are to be married." 

"Really? I am so glad! Wh«i is it to be?" 

"I don't know yet; there are many formalities to be 
gone through first, and I have not received any letters 

" I have put several on your table." 

"They can wait till to-morrow." 

"You are tired?" 

"A little." 

Still, in spite of his fatigue and a certain sense of 
relief, sleep did not come easily to the doctor that night. 
He was troubled by the thought of Elsa, whom he had 
left behind at the palace. It had been necessary, but 
he bitterly regretted that this additional burden should 
have fallen on the nurse, about whose own health he 
was anxious. It was, therefore, with a feeling almost 
of remorse that he eventually shut his eyes. Never- 




theless, when he awoke next morning he was somewhat 
consoled by the reflection that Elsa*s ordeal would soon 
be at an end. And the sight of Sigurd, peacefuOy 
dozing on the floor by his bedside, told him that all 
danger of detection had been removed. After he had 
roused the dachshund that was lying curled up at his 
feet, he took the two dogs for a run in the great Ross- 
platz, and rejoiced to see that they had already begun 
to fraternise. Having given them their breakfast, 
Ahmed sat down to his own, and began to look through 
the letters that had arrived for him during the last few 
days. None of them were of any particular impor- 
tance, except one from the r^istrar, who requested 
him to call at the Standesamt And there was a k»ig 
letter from the Professor of Morphology at St Peters- 
burg, congratulating him on the discovery of the new 
anaesthetic, which Weigand had announced at the 
Medical Congress. Dr. Petrakoff also menticmed a 
rumour that had recently been current in official circles 
concerning the serious illness of NasruUah Khan. 
Ahmed wondered, as he read these words, whether 
Father Klein had not heard this news through those 
secret and far-reaching channels of communication 
which are always open to the members of the society. 
Still, in the absence of any letter from his father, he 
could but doubt the truth of the rumour, and, his mind 
being fully occupied with other things, he gave the 
subject no further consideration. 

Ahmed's first duty was to report himself in the 
Augustus Platz, and as he walked there, thinking over 
the line he should take with the Professor, his feeling 
of apprehension grew with eveiy step. But the Ge- 



heimrat was too pleased with the result of the opera- 
tion to trouble much about its details. He received 
his assistant with op^i arms, and smiled as a£Fec- 
tionately at him as though the young man were his own 

**Well, my friend," said Weigand. "You have 
covered yourself with glory; and you are more modest 
about it than I should have been at your age. You 
made nothing of it in your letters." 

^ I was lucky, sir," replied Ahmed. 

"Yes, by Heaven you were!" said the Professor. 
"All the same you managed the business cleverly 
enough. I was doubtful of its possibility myself. 
You weren't able to use the extract either?" 

"No; I found it uncertain in its action." 

" Tried it yourself, I suppose ? " 

"Yes, twice!" 

"Ah! Well, I feared as much. You remember, I 
hesitated about fixing the quantify for the human 
subject, and I touched on this difficulty in my paper. 
By-the-by, what did you use ? " 


"Indeed. I should not have thought the patient's 
heart would — but it did not, and that's more to the 
point than my mere opinion. Now as to this new 
anaesthetic of yours." 


" Oh yes; it will be named after you now, my friend. 
All the world knows that you are its discoverer." 

"Herr Geheimrat!" said Ahmed, in a tone of pro- 
test, and yet with gratitude. 

" Young man," said the Professor, shaking his finger 



at him playfully, ''you cannot help becoming famous 
if you do this sort of thing.** 

** But it was you, your Excellency, who directed me 

*" Oh, that is easy enough at my time of life. I have 
so much experience; too much, perhaps, for me to 
make any more discoveries myself. Still, as you say, 
I can help others." 

** You have been doing that all your life. Professor." 

*" I have tried ! *' said Weigand, with a certain inflec- 
tion of sadness in his voice. ** You see, my early days 
were spent among people who took no interest in my 
work; and consequently I did not get much help my- 
self. So I have made it a rule to do what I could for 
aU the beginners I've met, and however little that has 
been, at least I can say that I have never treated any 
of them imkindly." 

*' I can bear witness to that," said Ahmed. 

" Well, your case is different from theirs," replied the 
Professor, laughing at the young man's earnestness. 
^Besides, I don't look on you quite as a b^inner. 
You came to me with a reputation, which you have 
added to since. And I am rather afraid we shan't be 
able to keep you much longer, my son." 

** I have no wish to leave Leipzig, Professor." 

'' Perhaps not ! Still, you may have a call elsewhere, 
and, useful as you are to me, I shall not be so selfish ia..^ 
to stand in the way of your advancement." 

** But if I am content to stay here ? ** 

** I hope you are not," said Weigand, gravely. ** We 
do not earn the right to be content until we have reached 
the limit of our capacity; and though you are no be- 




ginner, your career is only at the b^inning; just as 
mine is nearing the end. *" Well," he continued in a 
lighter tone, '"I have been approached unofficially 
about the appointment of an extra-ordinary Professor 
in one of our Universities. I am asked if I can recom- 
mend any one for the post, and I shall put forward the 
name of my present chief -assistant, unless you have any 
special objection." 

As Ahmed remained silent, he added, after a slight 
pause, ** We will consider that settled, then." 

" I don't know how to thank you, Herr Geheimrat," 
said Ahmed, with an air of embarrassment that the 
Professor took to be the natural outcome of the young 
man's modesty. 

"Never mind about that," he answered, patting him 
on the shoulder; ""time enough to talk about thanks 
when you are appointed." 

Ahmed went to his work in the room upstairs with a 
strange feeling of exultation. The prize had fallen to 
him; of all the thousands who longed to teach from the 
professorial chair he, the alien, had been chosen. But 
although he was by no means insensible to the honour 
about to be conferred on him, he valued it most because 
it was the thing that Elsa had coveted for him. He 
would be his own master now, ivhile, as his wife, she 
would be looked up to and respected by the people 
whose good opinion shev held so dear. For him, it 
would mean exile, and the surrender of any vague hope 
he might have cherished of ever reigning in his native 
land. To make that possible he must obey his father's 
command and return at once; for if he failed to do this 



it mattered nothing that Nasnillah should be found 
wanting, another would surely take his place. Yet if 
he gave up the ambition to lead his countrymen a little 
forward on the path of progress, it would be to join the 
advance guard of that grand army, who are adding 
every day to the Empire of science. 

Tliat evening he wrote to Elsa, telling her of his 
unexpected stroke of good fortune, and Fritz, who had 
sat by his side while the letter was written, placed an 
inky paw on one comer of it, in token of i^proval. 

'^ Yes," said Ahmed to himself, looking at the dachs- 
hund's long inquisitive nose and large intelligent eyes, 
*^you are a true professor's dog, Fritzchen. But as for 
you, my friend," he continued, with an affectionate 
glance at the Great Dane, ^you are more suited to a j 

student, or, better still, to a hunter." And the young | 

man sighed, as he thought of those hunts over the wild * 

foothills after big game that he should never take part 
in again. His mind was reconciled to a life of learning, 
spent within the narrow circle of some old-world uni- 
versity; but his body craved for a wider sphere of action, 
for the chase that lasts from dawn to dusk, and for that 
deadly sport his people loved beyond all other things 
— the savage hunt that men call war. 

On the following evening, when the doctor came 
home after a long day's work in the laboratory, he found 
a letter waiting for him. It was from Elsa, and had 
been written the night before. 

"Dearest," it began, "I cannot describe how de- 
lighted I was to hear your good news. It is perhaps 
selfish of me to rejoice over much when I remember 



all that you must abandon to accept this post. But it 
fills me with such pride to feel you are making so great 
a sacrifice for my sake, that I can think of nothing else. 
I forget everything except the prospect of those peaceful 
years that await us in our new home; and dearest, you 
know that I could not bear to lose you now, could not 
give you up, even for your own good. 

*' I have been in an agony of appreh^ision for these 
last few days. But, thank Heaven, my att^idance 
here will soon be dispensed with, though I am glad to 
have had an opportunity of doing something for you 
that you could not trust to another. Everything has 
gone quite smoothly, and up till to-day I do not think 
there has been a happier man in the whole world than 
the Grand Duke. But perhaps his eyes are opening 
now to the mental condition of his wife. She, I need 
scarcely say, has been perfectly happy; content to be 
waited on hand and foot by a host of servants; pleased 
at being the centre of an admiring crowd of courtiers, 
though passively indifferent to the love of a devoted 
husband. She disappoints only those who expect some 
personal notice on her part. It distressed me to see 
how upset the excellent lady-in-waiting. Baroness Rens- 
berg, was by the unresponsive manner in which all her 
affectionate advances were received. I have been 
obliged to tell her that the coldness would wear off in 
time, but that for the present her mistress has not fully 
recovered from the after-shock of a serious operation. 
His Royal Highness, of course, lives in the same hope, and 
is always looking for the expression he misses from that 
beautiful face. Since this morning, however, I am afraid 
he has ceased to hope that it will reappear there soon. 



**The Grand Duke attended mass with her at the 
chapel in the Summer Palace. They drove in state 
to BuTg Sachsenroda, people lining both sides of the 
way and cheering as they went by, and from what I 
heard them say I do not believe it would be possible 
to exaggerate the popularity of Countess Lichtenthal. 
Her husband was delighted with the reception they 
gave her, and I am told that she won all hearts by the 
gracious way she smiled on every one who came within 
her sight. My place in the chapel not being far from 
the gilded chair on which she sat, by the side of the 
Grand Duke, I was able to watch her closely through- 
out the entire ceremony. This seemed very solenm and 
impressive, even to one who has been taught to despise 
all outward shows of faith. On her, however, it pro- 
duced no perceptible effect; she followed the service 
without a sign of emotion, standing when the others 
stood, and kneeling when they knelt And when, 
towards the end of it, the choir sung a great anthem, 
her eyes alone remained dry. 

Then there came to the altar-rails a tall man, who 
wore a black biretta and a gown with hanging sleeves. 
Speaking in a quiet, gentle tone, he drew a picture 
of the dark shadow of despair that had fallen on them of 
late only to be lifted that day, and of how the grief of 
their revered Prince had been shared by the humblest 
of his subjects, who were one with him in sorrow as in 
joy. So touching was the way in which he said this 
that all were again moved to tears, except the woman 
herself, who sat insensible as a statue, with a look of 
wonder in her steel-blue eyes. Yet, I doubt if this 
attitude of indifference was noted by any one but the 



Grand Duke, though I am quite sure he saw it, and 
that it chilled his tender heart. The rest were carried 
away by a great wave of enthusiasm and hung on the 
lips of thb priest — a stranger to them, I hear — who 
had given such eloquent utterance to their thoughts. 
After a slight pause the priest continued his discourse 
in a more exalted tone. ' A miracle has been worked,' 
he said, ' and in an age of little faith. But while there 
is faith among us even as a grain of mustard seed, we 
shall not have lost the power that moves mountains. 
Therefore, it may be well that we have seen, with our 
own eyes to-day, a manifestation of God's will as great 
as was the return of the daughter of Jairus to life. 
Let us then give praise to those whom He has made 
His instruments, but above all things let us not foiget 
to give the glory to God.' These sentences so impressed 
themselves on my mind that I almost fancy I have set 
them down in his exact words, but I am not certain, 
however, that I grasped his meaning. There seemed 
to be something hidden behind the words, some hint 
at a knowledge this man could not possibly possess; 
an accidental suggestion, no doubt, and yet one that 
made me feel somewhat uneasy. 

"In the afternoon we were visited by the Hofrat 
Engelbrecht. He conducted himself in the pompous 
style your description of him led me to expect, and 
appeared utterly incompetent to form an opinion on 
the case by the light of his own unaided judgment 
Indeed, beyond asking her several commonplace ques- 
tions, he did nothing to discover how she was; and if 
the issue had been less grave, I should have smiled at 
the barefaced way in which he consulted me — the 



nurse. Well, the outcome of this was that he made a 
most favourable report upon my patient to his Royal 
Highness, lauding you to the skies, and prophesying 
that in a very few weeks her state of mind would be 
absolutely normal. And when the Grand Duke sug- 
gested that perhaps it might be as well to have the 
opinion of a specialist in psychology on thb point, he 
politely shrugged his shoulders." 

Elsa's letter closed with a string of affectionate mes- 
sages, and an intimation that she would post it hersdf 
next morning, as she would not run the risk of its falling 
into any other hands than those of the man she loved. 

'"She was right," thought Ahmed; ^it would not do 
for any one else to see this. Th^ might read some- 
thing between the lines, just as she guessed that there 
was a hidden meaning in the words of Father Klein." 

Ahmed was so busy for the next few days carrying 
out a series of experiments the Professor had planned 
during hb absence, that he had very little time to think 
of hb own affairs. And one morning he was rather 
surprised not to find Weigand at hb desk. But as the 
attendant informed him that hb master had been called 
away early by a special messenger, Ahmed supposed 
that he had gone off to perform some critical operation 
in the neighbourhood and would return before night 
However, the Professor had not come back by the time 
the young man went home, after a long day spent in 
tabulating the results already obtained. Nor was the 
great surgeon in hb usual place next day when Ahmed 
entered the study at the accustomed hour. Weigand 
stood in front of the open fireplace warming hb hands 



with his back turned towards the door, and seeing that 
he seemed deep in thought, the young man passed on 
up the stairs leading to the laboratory. He had nearly 
reached the door when the Professor uttered his name 
in a low hoarse voice, but without turning in his direc- 
tion. He stopped, not quite sure that he had heard 
aright, and on his name being repeated in the same 
tone, he came down the stairs again. 

**Herr Dr. Ahmed," said Weigand for the third 
time, with an accent of reproach. 

**Yes, Herr Geheimrat," answered the young man 

** Do you know where I was yesterday ? *' 

"No, your Excellency." 

*'At Wilhehnsbrunn." 

There followed a prolonged pause, during which 
neither of them spoke; and then the Professor went on 
with what he had to say, still keeping his face fixed 
upon the fire. 

** The Grand Duke has once more consulted me about 
a mental case, and once more I am unable to agree with 
the opinion you have expressed. Dr. Ahmed." 

After another painful silence the Professor con- 
tinued. "I did not tell hb Royal Highness that the 
condition of the lady yonder will remain unchanged, 
because I thought it wiser not to deprive him of that 
last ray of hope; but I see no probability of any change 
for the better, and I have reason to believe, from what 
I observed, that you do not really hold an opposite 
view. In fact," he added, slightly raising his voice 
and speaking deliberately, "I think you know it i9 



•• WeD, your ExceDency ? ** said Ahmed. 

*• You do not deny this, then ? ** 

" No." 

** I was almost afraid you would/' said the Professor, 
turning round and looking him in the face for the first 


** Because you attempted to deceive me once; and 
had you tried to do so again, I might have been forced 
to taJce steps that I should have afterwards r^retted." 

** You do not propose to take any such steps now ? " 


** I am glad of that, your Excellency ! For I cannot 
think that you would have benefited any one by un- 
doing what I have done." 

"That is why I have left things as I found them; 
why I want to know nothing more; why I am making 
myself a party to a crime. You do not understand, 
perhaps, what that means to a man who has a sense of 
right and wrong." 

" I see no wrong in what I did." 

" Exactly; you do not see it, and yet it b there all the 
same. Oh, I admit that your motive may not have 
been base; but even so, you violated the trust reposed 
in you by virtue of your office as a physician, and by 
so doing proved yourself unworthy of the confid^ice 
of your fellows; therefore I can no longer recommend 
you to my colleagues. Dr. Ahmed." 

** I feared you would not, once you knew." 

*' But you hoped that I should never know ? ** 

" I thought of nothing except that I was pledged to 
save this woman's life." 



** At the cost of ruining your own." 

•* Possibly." 

" I am sorry, my friend, more sorry than I can say. 
If I could sign the form that lies there," said Weigand, 
pointing towards his desk, **I would. But look at it 
yourself, and you will soon find that I cannot. They 
put me on my word of honour, Ahmed, on my word of 

The Professor, who had walked over to the desk as 
he was speaking, now sank into a chair beside it, and 
buried his face in his hands. 

"A man may not break his word," said Ahmed, 
''and therefore he should not give it lightly. I am 
to blame, because I gave mine to that woman without 
a thought of the miseiy my keeping it might cause 

**You are not alone in the world?" asked the Pro- 
fessor, in a broken voice. 

** No, there is one who will go with me." 

"Go! Why should you go? You can stay with 
me, my friend." 

"After you have ceased to trust me?" 

" I have not said that, Ahmed; and though I cannot 
honourably recommend you as worthy of trust, I do 
not withdraw my confidence from you." 

" But I should not possess it to the same d^ree as I 
have done up till now; there would be reservations on 
your part; from time to time doubts might even arise 
whether you had been right to trust me at all. No, 
your Excellency, I could not remain here under such 
conditions; neither of us would be at our ease, and the 
work must suffer in consequence." 



^ Where do you propose to go, then ? ** 

" Back to my own land, to a people who put their 
faith in the sharp ear and the watchful eye/' 

**A savage people." 

"Not whoDy!" 

^ You told me that if ever you returned your brother 
would strive to murder you." 

** Of course, it is natural he should." 

" Then you are going to a certain death," Weigand 
exclaimed, starting to his feet 

** No," said the young man, with a faint smile. ** He 
might be prevented from killing me. Besides, it is 
often safest to meet danger face to face. Good-bye, 
Herr Professor." 

'" Good-bye, Ahmed, and may the All-merciful bless 
and keep you," said Weigand, solenmly, rabing his 
right arm, and gazing upwards with a look of supplica- 
tion in hb eyes. A moment later Ahmed silently left 
the room, and no sooner had the door closed behind 
him than the great man broke down altogether. He 
let hb hands fall on the mantelpiece, and leaning for- 
ward in an attitude of utter dejection, murmured two 
short words over and over again: **My son! my son!" 

In the meantime Ahmed made hb way across the 
broad open space by the side of the town theatre. He 
walked slowly onwards, taking no note either of where 
he was going, or of the bright sunshine, or the keen 
March breeze. One thought only occupied hb mind, 
the thought of how Elsa would bear thb blow to her 
hopes, for it must be a terrible disappointment to her. 
He felt that it was cruel to have rabed these hopes 
when they must be dashed to ground so soon. Of 



course, he would not have told her had he foreseen 
what was going to happen, but why should he have 
anticipated that fate would deal him such a stroke as 
it had done that day ? Full of these bitter reflections 
he went on and on, mechanically quickening his pace 
as he drew clear of the crowded thoroughfares, until 
he realised, all of a sudden, that he had wandered a 
long way from the Briiderstrasse, and at once turned 

When he got back he flung himself down on the sofa 
in his big empty room, and, for the first time in hb life, 
yielded to a feeling of utter helplessness. But soon he 
found that he was not alone: the dogs, hearing him 
come in, had deserted the kitchen, where Frau Mankel 
was superintending the pret>arations for dinner. Sigurd 
rested his head on one of Ahmed's knees, while Fritz 
placed his two front paws on the other, and both 
silently stared up into ilieir master's face. They were 
telling him, as plainly as if they had spoken, that they 
were there to console him, and, with the subtle instinct 
of their kind, they had chosen this moment to assure 
him that, no matter what misfortune had befallen him, 
he still had two faithful friends. Nor was he ungrateful 
to them for a sympathy which had been so unobtru- 
sively expressed. Indeed it gave him fresh courage, 
and made him feel more hopeful about the future. 

He had sat for a considerable time with his hands on 
the heads of hb two dumb companions when the open- 
ing of the hall door startled him out of hb musing. 
The dogs also heard this sound, which was succeeded 
by that of steps advancing towards them. Sigurd, 
without rabing hb head, gave a loud growl; Fritz» 



however, did not attempt to bark, although he trotted 
off at once to the door. It was opened immediately 
by Elsa, who came quickly over to Ahmed, and, kneel- 
ing down, threw her arms round his neck. Whereupon 
the big hound edged away into a comer of the room, 
eyeing her askance, but making no further protest as 
soon as he perceived that her presence was welcome to 
his master. The young man rose, lifting Elsa from 
the ground, and held her tightly in his arms. After a 
little while she recovered her breath, which she had 
lost in running up the stairs, and gasped out a few 
disjointed sentences. *'I was so anxious about you," 
she said, looking up at him, '^ I couldn't stop there any 
longer. I saw from hb face yesterday that he had 
guessed, and last night I told them I must go. I was 

** Of what, my treasure ? " asked Ahmed, gently. 

'' I don't know! But I was uneasy about you, 
and all kinds of horrible thoughts came into my 

** You thought I would take my own life ? " 

'"Yes! I feared you might, in a fit of madness. 
Oh, I knew you wouldn't if you had time to think, if 
you remembered that you would be killing others as 
well. But I could not foiget how you spoke about 
suicide at Zwimau, and that made me feel afraid, if 
things went wrong." 

" Well, you see your fears were unfounded. Things 
have gone wrong, and I am not dead." 

** Thank Heaven ! " cried Elsa, f ervaitly. 

"'Nothing ebe matters, then?" he asked, with a 
grave smile. 



*" How could anything else matter, as long as I have 
you still ? " she said. 

" Elsa, you once told me that if need were you would 
follow me to the end of the world. Well, time, they 
say, puts all things to the test, and to-day I ask you to 
be as good as your word. Come with me to my own 

** You must go back there, Ahmed ? " 


** Then, of course, I will go with you." 

"My love," said he, kissing her. And for a time 
they were silent; but when at length they came to them- 
selves, he asked her if she understood all that this 
promise meant. Was she willing to embrace the 
Mohammedan religion ? For this would be necessaiy 
in order that he might make her his wife. Therefore 
she would not only have to turn her back upon the 
land of her fathers but upon their faith as well. 

" I am ready to give up everything if I may be with 
you always," answered Elsa. 

" Then, come what may," said Ahmed, in the deep, 
vibrating tone of one who takes an oath at the altar, 
"nothing shall ever part us now but death." 

He had hardly spoken the words when there came a 
soft tapping at the door that was rendered almost 
inaudible by the loud growling of Sigurd and the shrill 
yelping of Fritz. "Down, dogs!" shouted Ahmed as 
he went to the door. On his opening it a dignified 
oriental in a semi-military costume stepped into the 
place left vacant by the maid-servant, who, after knock- 
ing, had discreetly retired into the background. The 
big, bearded warrior halted in the doorway and bent 



his body slowly forward from the waist; thai, rabing 
his hands to the sides of his gold-embroidered turban, 
he gravely uttered the salutaticHi, '"Khan! Khan!" 
He had no sooner drawn himself up again to his full 
height than Ahmed caught him by both hands, crying 
out, with an accent of joyful recognition, ** Saad Ali." 

'^ Ahmed Abdullah!" replied his old friend in the 
same tone. Then, after a moment's pause, the young 
man asked how his father was. 

** The Ameer is in good health," answered Saad Ali, 
** and yet he is much troubled in hb mind, because his 
son lingers so long on the way." 

*'But my brother b with him," said Ahmed. 

''The Prince Ebn Nasrullah b no more." 



••How long?" 

''For many days; he did not see the Moharrem. 
But before thb can be made known, I must have brought 
you back, so that the Ameer may not be without an 
heir. Such a thing would surely provoke strife." 

*' It is my father's will, then, that I should one day 
sit in hb place ? 

*'Yes, Khan! 

*' What if I have taken to myself a wife here ? " said 
Ahmed, pointing to Elsa, who had turned away and 
was standing by the window. 

"Bring the woman with you," replied Saad Ali, 
without even glancing at her, as it would have been a 
breach of decorum to look upon the wife of another. 

** But if she is not of our faith ? " 

**The Mullahs will instruct her in its principles." 



"Are you sure that my father will not force some 
other woman upon me ? " 

" If, in time, there is a son bom, the Ameer will be 

Well knowing that this was the uttermost that could 
be hoped for, Ahmed did not try to extract any further 
assurances from his father's trusted envoy. And, after 
a brief consultation with Elsa, he promised to be ready 
to leave Leipzig in forty-eight hours. 

Two days later a small group of people stood round 
the door of a reserved sleeping-car attached to the 
Berlin train, while at a respectful distance a crowd of 
loiterers had assembled to watch the departure of the 
Afghan Prince. For the news of this having got 
abroad, there was a widespread curiosity among the 
townfolk to see the dbtinguished stranger who had 
been residing in their midst. The report had also 
reached Zwimau, causing the genial little Meissener 
to huny over in order to bid good-bye to his colleague. 
And above him towered the tall Professor, who had 
come to grasp his favourite pupil by the hand for the 
last time. 

"I need scarcely ask you not to relinquish your 
studies," said Weigand. 

"No, Professor," replied the young man. **I have 
given too many years to the work for that, and though 
I may not have much time for research myself, I shall 
try to persuade others to take it up. I hope to found 
a new school of medicine, and perhaps your Excellency 
will help me in this." 

** I shall be very glad." 



^ HeiT Meiasoier has already promised to come out 
to us» by-and-by." 

"'I am greatly honoured/' said he, beaming with 
unaffected satisfacti<Hi. 

Just then the crowd in the background gave way a 
little, and three officers in brilliant, full-dress uniforms 
came forward. The foremost of these was Captain 
von Bredowshausoi, who approached Ahmed and 
saluted in military fashion, while his two companions 
halted a few paces behind him. ** His Royal EGghness, 
the Grand Duke of ThUringen, begs your acceptance 
of this," said von Bredowshausen, handing a morocco 
case to Ahmed with a low bow. 

** It gives me profound pleasure," he replied, slightly 
bending his head and opening the case as he spoke. 
On finding that it contained the insignia of the Grand 
Cross of the ThUringen family order, his cheeks became 
suffused with a flush, which the Grand Duke's equeny 
imagined to be of pleasure, but which Weigand knew 
to have been produced by a very different emotion. 

** Please convey my most grateful thanks to his Royal 
Highness," said Ahmed, shaking hands with von 
Bredowshausen and his comrades. 

In another moment the station-master advanced to 
warn them that the train was about to start. At the 
same time one of the guards fetched Frau Mankel out 
of the carriage where she had been saying good-bye to 
Elsa and the dogs. The tender-hearted creature was 
in tears, and could hardly see Ahmed when he pressed 
her hands in token of farewell. But she continued to 
wave to Elsa, who had come to the window. Ahmed, 
still standing on the steps at the back of the car, leaned 



over to take leave of the Professor and Meissener, whOe 
Saad Ali made sure that none of the servants nor any 
of their baggage was missing. The signal had been 
given, and the train had already started, when a sombre 
figure emerged from the crowd a little farther up the 

** Remember,** whispered the priest as the carriage 
that was labelled ** Eydtkuhnen " passed him. 

** I shall not forget," replied Ahmed. 

Within a few months of that day the following letter 
arrived at Burg Sachsenroda from the Manresa Station 
on the slopes of the Hindoo Koosh: — 

"Mt dear Father EIlein, 

** As we anticipated, the Ameer promptly acknowledged 
Ahmed Abdullah as his successor, and since then tiiat 
young man's European wife has given birth to a son. 

"This is well, for the Prince shows so excellent a 
disposition towards us, that you may rest assured our 
missionary work is safe. 

** Yours sincerely in Ct. 


The letter was sealed thus — 









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