“Kill the Italians! Murder the assassins! Down with the mercenaries,” cried the populace, who hated the duke’s guard. The barriers were broken down, and an interesting battle ensued. Surely the people got their full satisfaction of blood and excitement that day. The Italians drew their swords, but, being separated, they were at a disadvantage, though their assailants carried only staves. I expected the duke to stop the fight, but he withdrew to a little distance and watched it with evident interest. My interest was more than evident; it was uproarious. I have never spent so enjoyable a day. The fight raged after Max and I left, and there was many a sore head and broken bone that night among the Italian mercenaries of the Duke of Burgundy.
When Max and I returned to Peronne, we went to the noble church of St. Jean and offered our humble gratitude. Max, having thrown off his anger, proposed to buy a mass for the dead friar; but I was for leaving him in purgatory where he belonged, and Max, as usual, took my advice.
On reaching the inn, Max cried loudly for supper. His calmness would have done credit to a hardened warrior. There was at least one hardened warrior that was not calm. I was wrought almost to a pitch of frenzy and could not eat, though the supper prepared by Grote was a marvel in its way. The old man, usually grave and crusty, after the manner of German hosts, actually bent his knee to Max and said:—
“My poor house has entertained kings and princes; but never has it had so great an honor as that which it now has in sheltering you.”
That night the duke came with Hymbercourt to honor us at the inn. Each spoke excitedly and warmly. Max seemed to be the only calm man in Peronne.
YOLANDA OR THE PRINCESS?
After these adventures we could no longer conceal Max’s identity, and it soon became noised about that he was Count of Hapsburg. But Styria was so far away, and so little known, even to courtiers of considerable rank, that the fact made no great stir in Peronne. To Frau Kate and Twonette the disclosure came with almost paralyzing effect.
The duke remained with us until late in the night, so Max and I did not go over to the House under the Wall. When we were alone in our room, Max said:
“The Princess Mary has treated me as if I were a boy.”
“She saved your life,” I returned. “Calli would certainly have killed you had she not acted quickly.”
“I surely owe her my life,” said Max, “though I have little knowledge of what happened after I fell from my horse until I rose to my feet by her help. I complain of her conduct in deceiving me by pretending to be a burgher maiden. It was easily done, Karl, but ungraciously.”
“You are now speaking of Yolanda,” I said, not knowing what the wishes of the princess might be in regard to enlightening him. He looked at me and answered:—