Max was cautious in the matter of
making promises, as every honest man should be, since
he had no thought of breaking them once they were
given. Therefore, he wished to know that he could
keep his word before pledging it. His lifelong
habit of asking my advice may also have influenced
him in refusing the promise that he so much wished
to give; or perhaps he may have wanted time to consider.
He did not want to give the promise on the spur of
When he had finished telling me his troubles, I asked:
“What will you do to-morrow night?”
My riddle was again solved; Yolanda
was the princess. Her words were convincing.
All doubt had been swept from my mind. There would
be no more battledore and shuttlecock with my poor
brain on that subject. So when Max said, “I
do not know what I shall do,” I offered my opinion;
“You surprise me, Max. You lack enterprise;
there is no warmth in your blood. The girl cannot
harm you. Give her the promise. Are your
veins filled with water and caution?”
“What do you mean, Karl?”
cried Max, stepping toward me with surprise and delight
in his face. “Are you advising me wrongly
for the first time in my life?” Then there was
a touch of anger in his voice as he continued:
“Have I blood in my veins? Aye, Karl, burning,
seething blood, and every drop cries wildly for this
girl this child. I would give the
half of it to make her my wife and to make her happy.
But I would not abate one jot of my wretchedness at
her expense. As I treat her I pray God to deal
with me. I cannot make her my wife, and if I am
half a man, I would not win her everlasting love and
throw it to the dogs. She all but asked me last
night to tell her of my love for her, and almost pressed
hers upon me, but I did not even kiss her hand.
Ah, Karl, I wish I were dead!”
The poor boy threw himself on the
bed and buried his face in his hands. I went
to him and, seating myself on the bed, ran my fingers
through his curls.
“My dear Max, I have never advised
you wrongly. Perhaps luck has been with me.
Perhaps my good advice has been owing to my great caution
and my deep love for you. I am sure that I do
not advise you wrongly now. Go to the bridge
to-morrow night, and give Yolanda the promise she asks.
If she wants it, give her the ring. Keep restraint
upon your words and acts, but do not fear for one
single moment that my advice is wrong. Max, I
know whereof I speak.”
Max rose from the bed and looked at
me in surprise; but my advice jumped so entirely with
the longing deep buried in his heart that he took it
as a dying man accepts life.
The next evening Max met Yolanda under
the trees near the bridge.
“I may remain but a moment,”
she said hurriedly and somewhat coldly. “Do
you bring me the promise?”
“Yes,” answered Max.
“I have also brought you the ring, Fraeulein,
but you may not wear it, and no one may ever see it.”
“Ah, Max, it is well that you
have brought me the promise, for had you not you would
never have seen me again. I thank you for the
promise and for the ring. No one shall see it.
Of that you may be doubly sure. If by any chance
some meddlesome body should see it and tell this arrogant
lady of the castle that I have the keepsake she sent
you, there would be trouble, Max, there would be trouble.
She is a jealous, vindictive little wretch and you
shall not think on her. No doubt she would have
me torn limb from limb if she knew I possessed the
jewel. When I touch it, I feel that I almost
hate this princess, whose vast estates have a power
of attraction greater than any woman may exert.”
There was real anger in her tone.
In truth, dislike and aversion were manifest in every
word she spoke of the princess, save when the tender
little heart pitied her.
“Now I must say good night and
adieu, Sir Max, until uncle returns,” said Yolanda.
She gave Max her hands and he, in bringing them to
his lips, drew her close to him. At that moment
they were startled by a boisterous laugh close beside
them, and the fellow calling himself Count Calli slapped
Max on the back, saying in French:
“Nicely done, my boy, nicely
done. But you are far too considerate. Why
kiss a lady’s hand when her lips are so near?
I will show you, Fraeulein Castleman, exactly how
so delicate a transaction is conducted by an enterprising
He insultingly took hold of Yolanda,
and, with evident intent to kiss her, tried to lift
the veil with which she had hastily covered her face.
Max struck the fellow a blow that felled him to the
ground, but Calli rose and, drawing his dagger, rushed
upon Max. Yolanda stood almost paralyzed with
terror. Max was unarmed, but he seized Calli’s
wrist and twisted it till a small bone cracked, and
the dagger fell from his hand to the ground.
Calli’s arm hung limp at his side, and he was
powerless to do further injury. Max did not take
advantage of his helplessness, but said:
“Go, or I will twist your neck
as I have broken your wrist.”
Max had gone out that evening without
arms or armor. He had not even a dagger.
When Calli had passed out of sight,
Yolanda stooped, picked up his dagger, and offered
it to Max, saying:
“He will gather his friends
at once. Take this dagger and hasten back to
the inn, or you will never reach it alive. No,
come with me to Uncle Castleman’s house.
There you may lie concealed.”
“I may not go to your uncle’s
house, Fraeulein,” answered Max. “I
can go safely to the inn. Do not fear for me.”
Yolanda protested frantically, but Max refused.
“Go quickly, then,” she
said, “and be on your guard at all times.
This man who came upon us is Count Calli, the greatest
villain in Burgundy. He is a friend of Campo-Basso.
Now hasten to the inn, if you will not come with me
to uncle’s house, and beware, for this man and
his friends will seek vengeance; of that you must
never allow yourself to doubt. Adieu, till uncle
Max reached the inn unmolested.
We donned our mail shirts, expecting trouble, and
took turn and turn watching and sleeping. Next
day we hired two stalwart Irish squires and armed
them cap-a-pie. We meant to give our Italian
friends a hot welcome if they attacked us, though we
had, in truth, little fear of an open assault.
We dreaded more a dagger thrust in the back, or trouble
from court through the machinations of Campo-Basso.
The next morning Max sent one of our
Irishmen to Castleman’s house with a verbal
message to Fraeulein Castleman. When the messenger
returned, he replied to my question:
“I was shown into a little room
where three ladies sat. ’What have you
to say?’ asked the little black-haired one in
the corner she with the great eyes and
the face pale as a chalk-cliff. I said, ’I
am instructed, mesdames, to deliver this simple message:
Sir Max is quite well.’ ’That will
do. Thank you.’ said the big eyes and the
pale face. Then she gave me two gold florins.
The money almost took my breath, and when I looked
up to thank her, blest if the white face wasn’t
rosy as a June dawn. When I left, she was dancing
about the room singing and laughing, and kissing everybody
but me worse luck! By Saint Patrick,
I never saw so simple a message create so great a
commotion. ‘Sir Max is quite well.’
I’m blest if he doesn’t look it. Was
he ever ill?”
After five or six days we allowed
ourselves to fall into a state of unwatchfulness.
One warm evening we dismissed our squires for an hour’s
recreation. The Cologne River flows by the north
side of the inn garden, and, the spot being secluded,
Max and I, after dark, cooled ourselves by a plunge
in the water. We had come from the water and finished
dressing, save for our doublets, which lay upon the
sod, when two men approached whom we thought to be
our squires. When first we saw them, they were
in the deep shadow of the trees that grew near the
water’s edge, and we did not notice their halberds
until they were upon us. When the men had approached
within four yards, we heard a noise back of us and
turning saw four soldiers, each bearing an arquebuse
pointed in our direction. At the same moment
another man stepped from behind the two we had first
seen and came quickly to me. He was Count Calli.
In his left hand he held a parchment. Max and
I were surrounded and unarmed.
“I arrest you on the order of
His Grace, the duke,” said Calli, in low tones,
speaking French with an Italian accent.
“Your authority?” I demanded.
“This,” he said, offering
me the parchment, “and this,” touching
his sword. I took the parchment but could not
read it in the dark.
“I’ll go to the inn to
read your warrant,” I said, stooping to take
up my doublet.
“You will do nothing of the
sort,” he answered. “One word more
from you, and there will be no need to arrest you.
I shall be only too glad to dispense with that duty.”
I felt sure he wished us to resist
that he might have a pretext for murdering us.
I could see that slow-going Max was making ready for
a fight, even at the odds of seven to two, and to
avert trouble I spoke softly in German:
“These men are eager to kill
us. Our only hope lies in submission.”
While I was speaking the men gathered
closely about us, and almost before my words were
uttered, our wrists were manacled behind us and we
were blindfolded. Our captors at once led us away.
A man on either side of me held my arms, and by way
of warning I received now and then a merciless prod
between my shoulder-blades from a halberd in the hands
of an enthusiastic soul that walked behind me.
Max, I supposed, was receiving like treatment.
After a hundred paces or more we waded
the river, and then I knew nothing of our whereabouts.
Within a half-hour we crossed a bridge which I supposed
was the one over the moat at the Postern. There
we halted, and the password was given in a whisper.
Then came the clanking of chains and creaking of hinges,
and I knew the gates were opening and the portcullis
rising. After the gates were opened I was again
urged forward by the men on either side of me and
the enterprising soul in the rear.
I noticed that I was walking on smooth
flags in place of cobble-stones, and I was sure we
were in the bailey yard of the castle. Soon I
was stopped again, a door opened, squeaking on its
rusty hinges, and we began the descent of a narrow
stairway. Twenty or thirty paces from the foot
of the stairway we stopped while another door was opened.
This, I felt sure, was the entrance to an underground
cell, out of which God only knew if I should ever
come alive. While I was being thrust through
the door, I could not resist calling out, “Max Max,
for the love of God answer me if you hear!”
I got no answer. Then I appealed to my guard:
“Let me have one moment’s
speech with him, only one moment. I will pay
you a thousand crowns the day I am liberated if you
grant me this favor.”
“No one is with you,”
the man replied. “I would willingly earn
the thousand crowns, but if they are to be paid when
you are liberated, I fear I should starve waiting
With these comforting words they thrust
me into the cell, manacled and blindfolded. I
heard the door clang to; the rusty lock screeched
venomously, and then I was alone in gravelike silence.
I hardly, dared to take a step, for I knew these underground
cells were honeycombed with death-traps. I could
not grope about me with my hands, for they were tied,
and I knew not what pitfall my feet might find.
How long I stood without moving I
did not know; it might have been an hour or a day
for all I could tell. I was almost stupefied by
this misfortune into which I had led Max. I do
not remember having thought at all of my own predicament.
I cannot say that I suffered; I was benumbed.
I remember wondering about Max and speculating vaguely
on his fate, but for a time the thought did not move
me. I also remember sinking to the floor, only
half conscious of what I was doing, and then I must
have swooned or slept.
When I recovered consciousness I rose
to my feet. A step or two brought me against
a damp stone wall. Three short paces in another
direction, and once more I was against the wall.
Then I stopped, turned my back to the reeking stone,
and cursed the brutes that had treated me with such
wanton cruelty. It was not brutal; it was human.
No brute could feel it; only in the heart of man could
By chafing the back of my head against
the wall I succeeded in removing the bandage from
my eyes. Though I was more comfortable, I was
little better off, since I could see nothing in the
pitiless black of my cell. I stretched my eyes,
as one will in the dark, till they ached, but I could
not see even an outline of the walls.
A burning thirst usually follows excitement,
and after a time it came to me and grew while I thought
upon it. My parched throat was almost closed,
and I wondered if I were to be left to choke to death.
I knew that in Spain and Italy such refinement of
cruelty was oftened practised, but I felt sure that
the Duke of Burgundy would not permit the infliction
of so cruel a fate, did he know of it. But our
captors were not Burgundians, and I doubted if the
duke even knew of our imprisonment. I suffered
intensely, though I believe I could have endured it
with fortitude had I not known that Max was suffering
a like fate.
I believed I had been several days
in my cell when I heard a key turn in the lock.
The door opened, and a man bearing a basket and a lantern
entered. He placed the basket on the ground and,
with the lantern hung over his arm, unfastened the
manacles of my wrists. In the basket were a boule
of black bread and a stone jar of water. I eagerly
grasped the jar, and never in my life has anything
passed my lips that tasted so sweet as that draught.
“Don’t drink too much
at one time,” said the guard, not unkindly.
“It might drive you mad. A man went mad
in this cell less than a month ago from drinking too
“How long had he been without
it?” I asked of this cheering personage.
“Three days,” he responded.
“I did not know that men of
the north could be so cruel as to keep a prisoner
three days without water,” I said.
“It happened because the guard
was drunk,” answered the fellow, laughing.
“I hope you will remain sober,”
said I, not at all intending to be humorous, though
the guard laughed.
“I was the guard,” he
replied. “I did not intend to leave the
prisoner without water, but, you see, I was dead drunk
and did not know it.”
“Perhaps you have been drunk
for the last three or four days since I have been
here?” I asked.
He laughed boisterously.
“You here three or four days!
Why, you are mad already! You have been here
only over night.”
Well! I thought surely I was mad!
Suddenly the guard left me and closed
the cell door. I called frantically to him, but
I might as well have cried from the bottom of the
After what seemed fully another week
of waiting, the guard again came with bread and water.
By that time my mind had cleared. I asked the
guard to deliver a message to my Lord d’Hymbercourt
and offered a large reward for the service. I
begged him to say to Hymbercourt that his friends
of The Mitre had been arrested and were now in prison.
The guard willingly promised to deliver my message,
but he did not keep his word, though I repeated my
request many times and promised him any reward he
might name when I should regain my liberty. With
each visit he repeated his promise, but one day he
laughed and said I was wasting words; that he would
never see the reward and that in all probability I
should never again see the light of day. His ominous
words almost prostrated me, though again I say I suffered
chiefly for Max’s sake. Could I have gained
his liberty at the cost of my life, nay, even my soul,
I should have been glad to do it.
But I will not further describe the
tortures of my imprisonment. The greatest of
them all was my ignorance of Max’s fate.
It was a frightful ordeal, and I wonder that my reason