“Fraeulein!” exclaimed the girl, lifting her head and looking a very queen in miniature. “Fraeulein! Do you know, sir, to whom you speak?”
“I beg your pardon, most gracious princess,” I replied. “Did you not command me to address you as Fraeulein or Yolanda?”
“My name, sir, is not Yolanda. You have made a sad mistake,” said the princess, drawing herself up to her full height. Then I thought of Yolanda’s words when she told me that she resembled the princess as one pea resembles another.
The girl trembled, and even in the dim light I could see the gleam of anger in her eyes. I was endeavoring to frame a suitable apology when she spoke again:—
“Fraeulein! Yolanda! Sir, your courtesy is scant to give me these names. I do not know you, and—did I not tell you that if you made this mistake with the princess you would not so easily correct it? That I—you—Blessed Virgin! I have betrayed myself. I knew I should. I knew I could not carry it out.”
She covered her face with her hands and began to weep, speaking while she sobbed:—
“My troubles are more than I can bear.”
I wished to reassure her at once:—
“Most Gracious Princess—Yolanda—your secret is safe with me. You are as dear to me as if you were my child. You have nestled in my heart and filled it as completely as one human being can fill the heart of another. I would gladly give my poor old life to make you happy. Now if you can make use of me, I am at your service.”
“You will not tell Sir Max?” she sobbed.
She was no longer a princess. She was the child Yolanda.
“As I hope for salvation, no, I will not tell Sir Max,” I responded.
“Sometime I will give you my reasons,” she said.
“I wish none,” I replied.
After a short pause, she went on, still weeping gently:—
“If I must go to France, Sir Karl, you may come there to be my Lord Chamberlain. Perhaps Max should not come, since I shall be the wife of another, and—and there would surely be trouble. Max should not come.”
She stepped quickly to my side. Her hand fell, and she grasped mine for an instant under the folds of her cloak; then she ran from the passage, and I went to the room where Max and Hymbercourt were waiting.
After a few moments the duke joined us. Wine was served, but Charles did not drink. On account of the excessive natural heat of his blood he drank nothing but water. His Grace was restless; and, although there was no lack of courtesy, I fancied he did not wish us to remain. So after our cups were emptied I asked permission to depart. The duke acquiesced by rising, and said, turning to Max:—
“May we not try our new hawk together this afternoon?”
“With pleasure, Your Grace,” responded Max.
“Then we’ll meet at Cambrai Gate near the hour of two,” said the duke.