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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe King's Jackal - Chapter 1
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The King's Jackal - Chapter 1 Post by :codebluenj Category :Long Stories Author :Richard Harding Davis Date :May 2012 Read :2464

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The King's Jackal - Chapter 1

Chapter I

The private terrace of the Hotel Grand Bretagne, at Tangier, was shaded by a great awning of red and green and yellow, and strewn with colored mats, and plants in pots, and wicker chairs. It reached out from the Kings apartments into the Garden of Palms, and was hidden by them on two sides, and showed from the third the blue waters of the Mediterranean and the great shadow of Gibraltar in the distance.

The Sultan of Morocco had given orders from Fez that the King of Messina, in spite of his incognito, should be treated during his stay in Tangier with the consideration due to his rank, so one-half of the Hotel Grand Bretagne had been set aside for him and his suite, and two soldiers of the Bashaw's Guard sat outside of his door with drawn swords. They were answerable with their heads for the life and safety of the Sultan's guest, and as they could speak no language but their own, they made a visit to his Majesty more a matter of adventure than of etiquette.

Niccolas, the King's majordomo, stepped out upon the terrace and swept the Mediterranean with a field-glass for the third time since sunrise. He lowered it, and turned doubtfully toward the two soldiers.

"The boat from Gibraltar--has she arrived yet?" he asked.

The two ebony figures shook their heads stiffly, as though they resented this introduction of a foreign language, and continued to shake their heads as the servant addressed the same question to them in a succession of strange tongues.

"Well," said Colonel Erhaupt, briskly, as he followed Niccolas out upon the terrace, "has the boat arrived? And the launch from the yacht," he continued, "has it started for shore yet?"

The man pointed to where the yacht lay, a mile outside the harbor, and handed him the glass.

"It is but just now leaving the ship's side," he said. "But I cannot make out who comes in her. Ah, pardon," he added quickly, as he pointed to a stout elderly gentleman who walked rapidly toward them through the garden. "The Gibraltar boat must be in, sir. Here is Baron Barrat coming up the path."

Colonel Erhaupt gave an exclamation of satisfaction, and waved his hand to the newcomer in welcome.

"Go tell his Majesty," he said to the servant.

The man hesitated and bowed. "His Majesty still sleeps."

"Wake him," commanded Erhaupt. "Tell him I said to do so. Well, Baron," he cried, gayly, as he stepped forward, "welcome--or are you welcome?" he added, with an uneasy laugh.

"I should be. I have succeeded," the other replied gruffly, as he brushed past him. "Where is the King?"

"He will be here in a moment. I have sent to wake him. And you have been successful? Good. I congratulate you. How far successful?"

The Baron threw himself into one of the wicker chairs, and clapped his hands impatiently for a servant. "Twelve thousand pounds in all," he replied. "That's more than he expected. It was like pulling teeth at first. I want some coffee at once," he said to the attendant, "and a bath. That boat reeked with Moors and cattle, and there was no wagon-lit on the train from Madrid. I sat up all night, and played cards with that young Cellini. Have Madame Zara and Kalonay returned? I see the yacht in the harbor. Did she succeed?"

"We do not know; the boat only arrived at daybreak. They are probably on the launch that is coming in now."

As Barrat sipped his coffee and munched his rolls with the silent energy of a hungry man, the Colonel turned and strode up and down the terrace, pulling at his mustache and glancing sideways. When the Baron had lighted a cigarette and thrown himself back in his chair, Erhaupt halted and surveyed him in some anxiety.

"You have been gone over two weeks," he said. "I should like to see you accomplish as much in as short a time," growled the other. "You know Paris. You know how hard it is to get people to be serious there. I had the devil's own time at first. You got my cablegram?"

"Yes; it wasn't encouraging."

"Well, I wasn't hopeful myself. They wouldn't believe a word of it at first. They said Louis hadn't shown such great love for his country or his people since his exile that they could feel any confidence in him, and that his conduct in the last six years did not warrant their joining any undertaking in which he was concerned. You can't blame them. They've backed him so many times already, and they've been bitten, and they're shy, naturally. But I swore he was repentant, that he saw the error of his ways, that he wanted to sit once more before he died on the throne of his ancestors, and that he felt it was due to his son that he should make an effort to get him back his birthright. It was the son won them. 'Exhibit A' I call him. None of them would hear of it until I spoke of the Prince. So when I saw that, I told them he was a fine little chap, healthy and manly and brave, and devoted to his priest, and all that rot, and they began to listen. At first they wanted his Majesty to abdicate, and give the boy a clear road to the crown, but of course I hushed that up. I told them we were acting advisedly, that we had reason to know that the common people of Messina were sick of the Republic, and wanted their King; that Louis loved the common people like a father; that he would re-establish the Church in all her power, and that Father Paul was working day and night for us, and that the Vatican was behind us. Then I dealt out decorations and a few titles, which Louis has made smell so confoundedly rank to Heaven that nobody would take them. It was like a game. I played one noble gentleman against another, and gave this one a portrait of the King one day, and the other a miniature of 'Exhibit A' the next and they grew jealous, and met together, and talked it over, and finally unlocked their pockets. They contributed about L9,000 between them. Then the enthusiasm spread to the women, and they gave me their jewels, and a lot of youngsters volunteered for the expedition, and six of them came on with me in the train last night. I won two thousand francs from that boy Cellini on the way down. They're all staying at the Continental. I promised them an audience this morning."

"Good," commented the Colonel, "good--L9,000. I suppose you took out your commission in advance?"

"I took out nothing," returned the other, angrily. "I brought it all with me, and I have a letter from each of them stating just what he or she subscribed toward the expedition,--the Duke Dantiz, so much; the Duke D'Orvay, 50,000 francs; the Countess Mattini, a diamond necklace. It is all quite regular. I played fair." The Colonel had stopped in his walk, and had been peering eagerly down the leafy path through the garden. "Is that not Zara coming now?" he asked. "Look, your eyes are better than mine."

Barrat rose quickly, and the two men walked forward, and bowed with the easy courtesy of old comrades to a tall, fair girl who came hurriedly up the steps. The Countess Zara was a young woman, but one who had stood so long on guard against the world, that the strain had told, and her eyes were hard and untrustful, so that she looked much older than she really was. Her life was of two parts. There was little to be told of the first part; she was an English girl who had come from a manufacturing town to study art and live alone in Paris, where she had been too indolent to work, and too brilliant to remain long without companions eager for her society. Through them and the stories of her wit and her beauty, she had come to know the King of Messina, and with that meeting the second part of her life began; for she had found something so attractive, either in his title or in the cynical humor of the man himself, that for the last two years she had followed his fortunes, and Miss Muriel Winter, art student, had become the Countess Zara, and an uncrowned queen. She was beautiful, with great masses of yellow hair and wonderful brown eyes. Her manner when she spoke seemed to show that she despised the world and those in it almost as thoroughly as she despised herself.

On the morning of her return from Messina, she wore a blue serge yachting suit with a golf cloak hanging from her shoulders, and as she crossed the terrace she pulled nervously at her gloves and held out her hand covered with jewels to each of the two men.

"I bring good news," she said, with an excited laugh. "Where is Louis?"

"I will tell his Majesty that you have come. You are most welcome," the Baron answered.

But as he turned to the door it opened from the inside and the king came toward them, shivering and blinking his eyes in the bright sunlight. It showed the wrinkles and creases around his mouth and the blue veins under the mottled skin, and the tiny lines at the corners of his little bloodshot eyes that marked the pace at which he had lived as truthfully as the rings on a tree-trunk tell of its quiet growth.

He caught up his long dressing-gown across his chest as though it were a mantle, and with a quick glance to see that there were no other witnesses to his deshabille, bent and kissed the woman's hand, and taking it in his own stroked it gently.

"My dear Marie," he lisped, "it is like heaven to have you back with us again. We have felt your absence every hour. Pray be seated, and pardon my robe. I saw you through the blinds and could not wait. Tell us the glorious news. The Baron's good words I have already overheard; I listened to them with great entertainment while I was dressing. I hoped he would say something discourteous or foolish, but he was quite discreet until he told Erhaupt that he had kept back none of the money. Then I lost interest. Fiction is never so entertaining to me as the truth and real people. But tell us now of your mission and of all you did; and whether successful or not, be assured you are most welcome."

The Countess Zara smiled at him doubtfully and crossed her hands in her lap, glancing anxiously over her shoulder.

"I must be very brief, for Kalonay and Father Paul are close behind me," she said. "They only stopped for a moment at the custom-house. Keep watch, Baron, and tell me when you see them coming."

Barrat moved his chair so that it faced the garden-path, the King crossed his legs comfortably and wrapped his padded dressing-robe closer around his slight figure, and Erhaupt stood leaning on the back of his chair with his eyes fixed on the fine insolent beauty of the woman before them.

She nodded her head toward the soldiers who sat at the entrance to the terrace, as silent and immovable as blind beggars before a mosque. "Do they understand?" she asked.

"No," the King assured her. "They understand nothing, but that they are to keep people away from me--and they do it very well. I wish I could import them to Paris to help Niccolas fight off creditors. Continue, we are most impatient."

"We left here last Sunday night, as you know," she said. "We passed Algiers the next morning and arrived off the island at mid-day, anchoring outside in the harbor. We flew the Royal Yacht Squadron's pennant, and an owner's private signal that we invented on the way down. They sent me ashore in a boat, and Kalonay and Father Paul continued on along the southern shore, where they have been making speeches in all the coast-towns and exciting the people in favor of the revolution. I heard of them often while I was at the capital, but not from them. The President sent a company of carbineers to arrest them the very night they returned and smuggled me on board the yacht again. We put off as soon as I came over the side and sailed directly here.

"As soon as I landed on Tuesday I went to the Hotel de Messina, and sent my card to the President. He is that man Palaccio, the hotel-keeper's son, the man you sent out of the country for writing pamphlets against the monarchy, and who lived in Sicily during his exile. He gave me an audience at once, and I told my story. As he knew who I was, I explained that I had quarrelled with you, and that I was now prepared to sell him the secrets of an expedition which you were fitting out with the object of re-establishing yourself on the throne. He wouldn't believe that there was any such expedition, and said it was blackmail, and threatened to give me to the police if I did not leave the island in twenty-four hours--he was exceedingly rude. So I showed him receipts for ammunition and rifles and Maxim guns, and copies of the oath of allegiance to the expedition, and papers of the yacht, in which she was described as an armored cruiser, and he rapidly grew polite, even humble, and I made him apologize first, and then take me out to luncheon. That was the first day. The second day telegrams began to come in from the coast-towns, saying that the Prince Kalonay and Father Paul were preaching and exciting the people to rebellion, and travelling from town to town in a man-of-war. Then he was frightened. The Prince with his popularity in the south was alarming enough, but the Prince and Father Superior to help him seemed to mean the end of the Republic.

"I learned while I was down there that the people think the father put some sort of a ban on every one who had anything to do with driving the Dominican monks out of the island and with the destruction of the monasteries. I don't know whether he did or not, but they believe he did, which is the same thing, and that superstitious little beast, the President, certainly believed it; he attributed everything that had gone wrong on the island to that cause. Why, if a second cousin of the wife of a brother of one of the men who helped to fire a church falls off his horse and breaks his leg they say that he is under the curse of the Father Superior, and there are many who believe the Republic will never succeed until Paul returns and the Church is re-established. The Government seems to have kept itself well informed about your Majesty's movements, and it has never felt any anxiety that you would attempt to return, and it did not fear the Church party because it knew that without you the priests could do nothing. But when Paul, whom the common people look upon as a living saint and martyr, returned hand in hand with your man Friday, they were in a panic and felt sure the end had come. So the President called a hasty meeting of his Cabinet. And such a Cabinet! I wish you could have seen them, Louis, with me in the centre playing on them like an advocate before a jury. They were the most dreadful men I ever met, bourgeois and stupid and ugly to a degree. Two of them were commission-merchants, and one of them is old Dr. Gustavanni, who kept the chemist's shop in the Piazza Royale. They were quite silly with fear, and they begged me to tell them how they could avert the fall of the Republic and prevent your landing. And I said that it was entirely a question of money; that if we were paid sufficiently the expedition would not land and we would leave them in peace, but that----"

The King shifted his legs uneasily, and coughed behind his thin, pink fingers.

"That was rather indiscreet, was it not, Marie?" he murmured. "The idea was to make them think that I, at least, was sincere; was not that it? To make it appear that though there were traitors in his camp, the King was in most desperate earnest? If they believe that, you see, it will allow me to raise another expedition as soon as the money we get for this one is gone; but if you have let them know that I am the one who is selling out, you have killed the goose that lays the golden eggs. They will never believe us when we cry wolf again----"

"You must let me finish," Zara interrupted. "I did not involve you in the least. I said that there were traitors in the camp of whom I was the envoy, and that if they would pay us 300,000 francs we would promise to allow the expedition only to leave the yacht. Their troops could then make a show of attacking our landing-party and we would raise the cry of 'treachery' and retreat to the boats. By this we would accomplish two things,--we would satisfy those who, had contributed funds toward the expedition that we had at least made an honest effort, and your Majesty would be discouraged by such treachery from ever attempting another attack. The money was to be paid two weeks later in Paris, to me or to whoever brings this ring that I wear. The plan we finally agreed upon is this: The yacht is to anchor off Basnai next Thursday night. At high tide, which is just about daybreak, we are to lower our boats and land our men on that long beach to the south of the break-water. The troops of the Republic are to lie hidden in the rocks until our men have formed. Then they are to fire over their heads, and we are to retreat in great confusion, return to the yacht, and sail away. Two weeks later they are to pay the money into my hands, or," she added, with a smile, as she held up her fourth finger, "to whoever brings this ring. And I need not say that the ring will not leave my finger."

There was a moment's pause, as though the men were waiting to learn if she had more to tell, and then the King threw back his head and laughed softly. He saw Erhaupt's face above his shoulder, filled with the amazement and indignation of a man who as a duellist and as a soldier had shown a certain brute courage, and the King laughed again.

"What do you think of that, Colonel?" he cried, gayly. "They are a noble race, my late subjects."

"Bah!" exclaimed the German. "I didn't know we were dealing with a home for old women."

The Baron laughed comfortably. "It is like taking money from a blind beggar's hat," he said.

"Why, with two hundred men that I could pick up in London," Erhaupt declared, contemptuously, "I would guarantee to put you on the throne in a fortnight."

"Heaven forbid!" exclaimed his Majesty. "So they surrendered as quickly as that, did they?" he asked, nodding toward Madame Zara to continue.

The Countess glanced again over her shoulder and bit her lips in some chagrin. Her eyes showed her disappointment. "It may seem an easy victory to you," she said, consciously, "but I doubt, knowing all the circumstances, if any of your Majesty's gentlemen could have served you as well. It needed a woman and----"

"It needed a beautiful woman," interrupted the King, quickly, in a tone that he would have used to a spoiled child. "It needed a woman of tact, a woman of courage, a woman among women--the Countess Zara. Do not imagine, Marie, that we undervalue your part. It is their lack of courage that distresses Colonel Erhaupt."

"One of them, it is true, did wish to fight," the Countess continued, with a smile; "a Frenchman named Renauld, whom they have put in charge of the army. He scoffed at the whole expedition, but they told him that a foreigner could not understand as they did the danger of the popularity of the Prince Kolonay, who, by a speech or two among the shepherds and fishermen, could raise an army."

The King snapped his fingers impatiently.

"An army of brigands and smugglers!" he exclaimed. "That for his popularity!" But he instantly raised his hands as though in protest at his own warmth of speech and in apology for his outbreak.

"His zeal will ruin us in time. He is deucedly in the way," he continued, in his usual tone of easy cynicism. "We should have let him into our plans from the first, and then if he chose to take no part in them we would at least have had a free hand. As it is now, we have three different people to deceive: this Cabinet of shopkeepers, which seems easy enough; Father Paul and his fanatics of the Church party; and this apostle of the divine right of kings, Kalonay. And he and the good father are not fools----"

At these words Madame Zara glanced again toward the garden, and this time with such evident uneasiness in her face that Barrat eyed her with quick suspicion.

"What is it?" he asked, sharply. "There is something you have not told us."

The woman looked at the King, and he nodded his head as though in assent. "I had to tell them who else was in the plot besides myself," she said, speaking rapidly. "I had to give them the name of some man who they knew would be able to do what I have promised we could do--who could put a stop to the revolution. The name I gave was his--Kalonay's."

Barrat threw himself forward in his chair.

"Kalonay's?" he cried, incredulously.

"Kalonay's?" echoed Erhaupt. "What madness, Madame! Why name the only one who is sincere?"

"She will explain," said the King, in an uneasy voice; "let her explain. She has acted according to my orders and for the best, but I confess I----"

"Some one had to be sacrificed," returned the woman, boldly, "and why not he? Indeed, if we wish to save ourselves, there is every reason that it should be he. You know how mad he is for the King's return, how he himself wishes to get back to the island and to his old position there. Why, God only knows, but it is so. What pleasure he finds in a land of mists and fogs, in a ruined castle with poachers and smuggling fishermen for companions, I cannot comprehend. But the fact remains, he always speaks of it as home and he wishes to return. And now, suppose he learns the truth, as he may at any moment, and discovers that the whole expedition for which he is staking his soul and life is a trick, a farce; that we use it only as a bait to draw money from the old nobility, and to frighten the Republic into paying us to leave them in peace? How do we know what he might not do? He may tell the whole of Europe. He may turn on you and expose you, and then what have we left? It is your last chance. It is our last chance. We have tried everything else, and we cannot show ourselves in Europe, at least not without money in our hands. But by naming Kalonay I have managed it so that we have only to show the written agreement I have made with the Republic and he is silenced. In it they have promised to pay the Prince Kalonay, naming him in full, 300,000 francs if the expedition is withdrawn. That agreement is in my hands, and that is our answer to whatever he may think or say. Our word is as good as his, or as bad; we are all of the same party as far as Europe cares, and it becomes a falling out among thieves, and we are equal."

Baron Barrat leaned forward and marked each word with a movement of his hand.

"Do I understand you to say," he asked, "that you have a paper signed by the Republic agreeing to pay 300,000 francs to Kalonay? Then how are we to get it?" he demanded, incredulously. "From him?"

"It is made payable to him," continued the woman, "or to whoever brings this ring I wear to the banking-house of the Schlevingens two weeks after the expedition has left the island. I explained that clause to them by saying that Kalonay and I were working together against the King, and as he might be suspicious if we were both to leave him so soon after the failure of the expedition we would be satisfied if they gave the money to whichever one first presented the ring. Suppose I had said," she went on, turning to the King, "that it was either Barrat or the Colonel here who had turned traitor. They know the Baron of old, when he was Chamberlain and ran your roulette wheel at the palace. They know he is not the man to turn back an expedition. And the Colonel, if he will pardon me, has sold his services so often to one side or another that it would have been difficult to make them believe that this time he is sincere. But Kalonay, the man they fear most next to your Majesty--to have him turn traitor, why, that was a master stroke. Even those boors, stupid as they are, saw that. When they made out the agreement they put down all his titles, and laughed as they wrote them in. 'Prince Judas' they called him, and they were in ecstasies at the idea of the aristocrat suing for blood-money against his sovereign, of the man they feared showing himself to be only a common blackmailer. It delighted them to find a prince royal sunk lower than themselves, this man who has treated them like curs--like the curs they are," she broke out suddenly--"like the curs they are!"

She rose and laughed uneasily as though at her own vehemence.

"I am tired," she said, avoiding the King's eyes; "the trip has tired me. If you will excuse me, I will go to my rooms--through your hall-way, if I may."

"Most certainly," said the King. "I trust you will be rested by dinner-time. Au revoir, my fair ambassadrice."

The woman nodded and smiled back at him brightly, and Louis continued to look after her as she disappeared down the corridor. He rubbed the back of his fingers across his lips, and thoughtfully examined his finger-nails.

"I wonder," he said, after a pause, looking up at Barrat. The Baron raised his eyebrows with a glance of polite interrogation.

"I wonder if Kalonay dared to make love to her on the way down."

The Baron's face became as expressionless as a death-mask, and he shrugged his shoulders in protest.

"--Or did she make love to Kalonay?" the King insisted, laughing gently. "I wonder now. I do not care to know, but I wonder."

According to tradition the Kalonay family was an older one than that of the House of Artois, and its name had always been the one next in importance to that of the reigning house. The history of Messina showed that different members of the Kalonay family had fought and died for different kings of Artois, and had enjoyed their favor and shared their reverses with equal dignity, and that they had stood like a rampart when the kingdom was invaded by the levelling doctrines of Republicanism and equality. And though the Kalonays were men of stouter stuff than their cousins of Artois, they had never tried to usurp their place, but had set an example to the humblest shepherd of unfailing loyalty and good-will to the King and his lady. The Prince Kalonay, who had accompanied the Dominican monk to Messina, was the last of his race, and when Louis IV. had been driven off the island, he had followed his sovereign into exile as a matter of course, and with his customary good-humor. His estates, in consequence of this step, had been taken up by the Republic, and Kalonay had accepted the loss philosophically as the price one pays for loving a king. He found exile easy to bear in Paris, and especially so as he had never relinquished the idea that some day the King would return to his own again. So firmly did he believe in this, and so keenly was his heart set upon it, that Louis had never dared to let him know that for himself exile in Paris and the Riviera was vastly to be preferred to authority over a rocky island hung with fogs, and inhabited by dull merchants and fierce banditti.

The conduct of the King during their residence in Paris would have tried the loyalty of one less gay and careless than Kalonay, for he was a sorry monarch, and if the principle that "the King can do no wrong" had not been bred in the young Prince's mind, he would have deserted his sovereign in the early days of their exile. But as it was, he made excuses for him to others and to himself, and served the King's idle purposes so well that he gained for himself the name of the King's jackal, and there were some who regarded him as little better than the King's confidential blackguard, and man Friday, the weakest if the most charming of his court of adventurers.

At the first hint which the King gave of his desire to place himself again in power, Kalonay had ceased to be his Jackal and would have issued forth as a commander-in-chief, had the King permitted him; but it was not to Louis's purpose that the Prince should know the real object of the expedition, so he assigned its preparation to Erhaupt, and despatched Kalonay to the south of the island. At the same time Madame Zara had been sent to the north of the island, ostensibly to sound the sentiment of the old nobility, but in reality to make capital out of the presence there of Kalonay and Father Paul.

The King rose hurriedly when the slim figure of the Prince and the broad shoulders and tonsured head of the monk appeared at the farthest end of the garden-walk.

"They are coming!" he cried, with a guilty chuckle; "so I shall run away and finish dressing. I leave you to receive the first shock of Kalonay's enthusiasm alone. I confess he bores me. Remember, the story Madame Zara told them in the yacht is the one she told us this morning, that none of the old royalists at the capital would promise us any assistance. Be careful now, and play your parts prettily. We are all terribly in earnest."

Kalonay's enthusiasm had not spent itself entirely before the King returned. He had still a number of amusing stories to tell, and he reviewed the adventures of the monk and himself with such vivacity and humor that the King nodded his head in delight, and even the priest smiled indulgently at the recollection.

Kalonay had seated himself on one of the tables, with his feet on a chair and with a cigarette burning between his fingers. He was a handsome, dark young man of thirty, with the impulsive manner of a boy. Dissipation had left no trace on his face, and his eyes were as innocent of evil and as beautiful as a girl's, and as eloquent as his tongue. "May the Maria Santissima pity the girls they look upon," his old Spanish nurse used to say of them. But Kalonay had shown pity for every one save himself. His training at an English public school, and later as a soldier in the Ecole Polytechnique at Paris, had saved him from a too early fall, and men liked him instinctively, and the women much too well.

"It was good to be back there again," he cried, with a happy sigh. "It was good to see the clouds following each other across the old mountains and throwing black shadows on the campagna, and to hear the people's patois and to taste Messinian wine again and to know it was from your own hillside. All our old keepers came down to the coast to meet us, and told me about the stag-hunt the week before, and who was married, and who was in jail, and who had been hanged for shooting a customs officer, and they promised fine deer stalking if I get back before the snow leaves the ridges, for they say the deer have not been hunted and are running wild." He stopped and laughed. "I forgot," he said, "your Majesty does not care for the rude pleasures of my half of the island." Kalonay threw away his cigarette, clasping his hands before him with a sudden change of manner.

"But seriously," he cried, "as I have been telling them--I wish your Majesty could have heard the offers they made us, and could have seen the tears running down their faces when we assured them that you would return. I wished a thousand times that we had brought you with us. With you at our head we can sweep the island from one end to the other. We will gather strength and force as we go, as a landslide grows, and when we reach the capital we will strike it like a human avalanche.

"And I wish you could have heard him speak," Kalonay cried, his enthusiasm rising as he turned and pointed with his hand at the priest. "There is the leader! He made my blood turn hot with his speeches, and when he had finished I used to find myself standing on my tiptoes and shouting with the rest. Without him I could have done nothing. They knew me too well; but the laziest rascals in the village came to welcome him again, and the women and men wept before him and brought their children to be blessed, and fell on their knees and kissed his sandals. It was like the stories they tell you when you are a child. He made us sob with regret and he filled us with fresh resolves. Oh, it is very well for you to smile, you old cynics," he cried, smiling at his own fervor, "but I tell you, I have lived since I saw you last!"

The priest stood silent with his hands hidden inside his great sleeves, and his head rising erect and rigid from his cowl. The eyes of the men were turned upon him curiously, and he glanced from one to the other, as though mistrusting their sympathy.

"It was not me--it was the Church they came to welcome. The fools," he cried bitterly, "they thought they could destroy the faith of the people by banishing the servants of the Church. As soon end a mother's love for her children by putting an ocean between them. For six years those peasants have been true. I left them faithful, I returned to find them faithful. And now--" he concluded, looking steadily at the King as though to hold him to account, "and now they are to have their reward."

The King bowed his head gravely in assent. "They are to have their reward," he repeated. He rose and with a wave of his hand invited the priest to follow him, and they walked together to the other end of the terrace. When they were out of hearing of the others the King seated himself, and the priest halted beside his chair.

"I wish to speak with you, father," Louis said, "concerning this young American girl, Miss Carson, who has promised to help us--to help you--with her money. Has she said yet how much she means to give us," asked the King, "and when she means to let us have it? It is a delicate matter, and I do not wish to urge the lady, but we are really greatly in need of money. Baron Barrat, who arrived from Paris this morning, brings back no substantial aid, although the sympathy of the old nobility, he assures me, is with us. Sympathy, however, does not purchase Maxim guns, nor pay for rations, and Madame Zara's visit to the capital was, as you know, even less successful."

"Your Majesty has seen Miss Carson, then?" the priest asked.

"Yes, her mother and she have been staying at the Continental ever since they followed you here from Paris, and I have seen her once or twice during your absence. The young lady seems an earnest daughter of our faith, and she is deeply in sympathy with our effort to re-establish your order and the influence of the Church upon the island. I have explained to her that the only way in which the Church can regain her footing there is through my return to the throne, and Miss Carson has hinted that she is willing to make even a larger contribution than the one she first mentioned. If she means to do this, it would be well if she did it at once."

"Perhaps I have misunderstood her," said the priest, after a moment's consideration; "but I thought the sum she meant to contribute was to be given only after the monarchy has been formally established, and that she wished whatever she gave to be used exclusively in rebuilding the churches and the monastery. I do not grudge it to your Majesty's purpose, but so I understood her."

"Ah, that is quite possible," returned Louis, easily; "it may be that she did so intend at first, but since I have talked with her she has shown a willing disposition to aid us not only later, but now. My success means your success," he continued, smiling pleasantly as he rose to his feet, "so I trust you will urge her to be prompt. She seems to have unlimited resources in her own right. Do you happen to know from whence her money comes?"

"Her mother told me," said the priest, "that Mr. Carson before his death owned mines and railroads. They live in California, near the Mission of Saint Francis. I have written concerning them to the Father Superior there, and he tells me that Mr. Carson died a very rich man, and that he was a generous servant of the Church. His daughter has but just inherited her father's fortune, and her one idea of using it is to give it to the Church, as he would have done."

The priest paused and seemed to consider what the King had just told him. "I will speak with her," he said, "and ask her aid as fully as she can give it. May I inquire how far your Majesty has taken her into our plans?"

"Miss Carson is fully informed," the King replied briefly. "And if you wish to speak with her you can see her now; she and her mother are coming to breakfast with me to hear the account of your visit to the island. You can speak with her then--and, father," the King added, lowering his eyes and fingering the loose sleeve of the priest's robe, "it would be well, I think, to have this presentation of the young nobles immediately after the luncheon, while Miss Carson is still present. We might even make a little ceremony of it, and so show her that she is fully in our confidence--that she is one of our most valued supporters. It might perhaps quicken her interest in the cause."

"I see no reason why that should not be," said the priest, thoughtfully, turning his eyes to the sea below them. "Madame Zara," he added, without moving his eyes, "will not be present."

The King straightened himself slightly, and for a brief moment of time looked at the priest in silence, but the monk continued to gaze steadily at the blue waters.

"Madame Zara will not be present," the King repeated, coldly.

"There are a few fishermen and mountaineers, your Majesty," the priest continued, turning an unconscious countenance to the King, "who came back with us from the island. They come as a deputation to inform your Majesty of the welcome that waits you, and I have promised them an audience. If you will pardon me I would suggest that you receive these honest people at the same time with the others, and that his Highness the Crown Prince be also present, and that he receive them with you. Their anxiety to see him is only second to their desire to speak to your Majesty. You will find some of your most loyal subjects among these men. Their forefathers have been faithful to your house and to the Church for many generations."

"Excellent," said the King; "I shall receive them immediately after the deputation from Paris. Consult with Baron Barrat and Kalonay, please, about the details. I wish either Kalonay or yourself to make the presentation. I see Miss Carson and her mother coming. After luncheon, then, at, say, three o'clock--will that be satisfactory?"

"As your Majesty pleases," the priest answered, and with a bow he strode across the terrace to where Kalonay stood watching them.

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