“As to their intentions toward us,” said Chase, “they are firm in their determination that no one shall leave the chateau alive. Rasula was quite frank with me. He is a cool devil. He calmly notified me that we will all be dead inside of two weeks. No ships will put in here so long as the plague exists. It has been cleverly managed. I asked him how we were to die and he smiled as though he was holding something back as a surprise for us. He came as near to laughing as I’ve ever seen him when I asked him if he’d forgotten my warships. ’Why don’t you have them here?’ he asked. ‘We’re not ready,’ said I. ’The six months are not up for nine days yet.’ ‘No one will come ashore for you,’ he said pointedly. I told him that he was making a great mistake in the attitude he was taking toward the heirs, but he coolly informed me that it was best to eradicate all danger of the plague by destroying the germs, so to speak. He agreed with me that you have no chance in the courts, but maintains that you’ll keep up the fight as long as you live, so you might just as well die to suit his convenience. I also made the interesting discovery that suits have already been brought in England to break the will on the grounds of insanity.”
“But what good will that do us if we are to die here?” exclaimed Bobby Browne.
“None whatsoever,” said Chase calmly. “You must admit, however, that you exhibited signs of hereditary insanity by coming here in the first place. I’m beginning to believe that there’s a streak of it in my family, too.”
“And you—you saw him killed?” asked the Princess in an awed voice, low and full of horror.
“Yes. I could not avoid it.”
“They killed him on your—on your—” she could not complete the sentence, but shuddered expressively.
“Yes. He deserved death, Princess. I am more or less like the Moslem in one respect. I might excuse a thief or a murderer, but I have no pity for a traitor.”
“You saw him killed,” she said in the same awed voice, involuntarily drawing away from him.
“Yes,” he said, “and you would have seen him killed, too, if you had gone down with me to appear against him.”
She looked up quickly and then thanked him, almost in a whisper.
CENTURIES TO FORGET
“My lord,” said Saunders the next day, appearing before his lordship after an agitated hour of preparation, “it’s come to a point where something’s got to be done.” He got that far and then turned quite purple; his collar seemed to be choking him.
“Quite right, Saunders,” said Deppingham, replacing his eyeglass nervously, “but who’s going to do it and what is there to be done?”
“I’m—er—afraid you don’t quite understand, sir,” mumbled the little solicitor, glancing uneasily over his shoulder. “If what Mr. Chase says is true, we’ve got a precious short time to live. Well, we’ve—we’ve concluded to get all we can out of the time that’s left, my lord.”