“But, I am no longer an officer of any army. I have been court-martialed—for my conduct there—you know—that fight at St. Genevieve. My abolitionist tendencies have always made me persona non grata in my own mess. There’s been all sort of pressure brought on me to drop it. Now the government itself, not wishing these things to come to a focus, has ordered me to a court-martial. Very well, I’ve been sentenced. My parole is ended, for the law has acted on my conduct. Rather than go back many steps in rank, I have thrown up my commission. This morning I resigned. I am wearing my uniform, I don’t doubt, for the last time.”
“And that, although you fought in the cause of freedom! Although you have fought honorably in an earlier war! Is it not horrible!”
“I could not do otherwise,” said he simply. “I have no regrets.”
“But don’t you see,”—she turned upon him suddenly—“it only leaves you all the more free!”
“I can not understand you.”
“Will it not give you and your friend, Lieutenant Kammerer here, precisely the opportunity you’ve wished?”
“Still I do not follow you.”
“My dear Countess,” ventured the German, “I’ll go anywhere under your orders. You may be sure of that.”
She turned from them. “Come to my hotel, will you not, to-morrow? I may have something to say to you.” Thus she passed back into the throng, and into the arms of fickle and repentant Washington, which marveled when she danced, flushed, excited, yet absorbed, with the gallant old general, himself intoxicated by the music and by all this warm talk of freedom, of equality, of democracy,—in Washington!
IN THE NAME OF ALTRUISM
In her apartments at the hotel the following morning Josephine St. Auban looked over the journals of the day. There were many columns of description of the only social event of the previous day thought worth extended mention. The visitors from Hungary were lauded to the skies. There did not lack many references to the similarity between the present struggles of the Hungarian people and those of our own earlier days. A vast amount of rampant Americanism was crowded into all these matters.
[Illustration: She looked over the journals of the day.]
Joined to this, there was considerable mention of the reappearance in Washington society of the beautiful Countess, Josephine St. Auban, now discovered to have been originally a member of this Hungarian commission, and recently journeying in the western states of the republic. This beautiful countess was now invested with a romantic history. She was a friend and protegee of the old General Zewlinski, a foreign noblewoman half American by birth, of rank, wealth and distinction, who had taken a leading part in the cause of Hungary in her struggle with the oppressing monarchies.