“No,” she responded, “I only lie that good may come of it.”
Then silence fell upon the world—their world. Was not that hour with Max worth all the pains that Yolanda had taken to deceive him?
Yolanda and Max came down to the long room, and she, too, gave me her cheek to kiss.
Twonette had prepared a great tankard of wine and honey, with pepper and allspice to suit Yolanda’s taste, and we all sat before the great blazing yule fire, as joyful and content as any six people in Christendom. Twonette and Yolanda together occupied one large chair; Twonette serenely allowing herself to be caressed by Yolanda, who was in a state of mind that compelled her to caress some one. Gentle Frau Kate was sleeping in a great easy chair near the chimney-corner. Max sat at one side of the table,—the side nearest Yolanda,—while Castleman and I sat by each other within easy reach of the wine. I knew without the telling, all that had occurred upstairs, and the same light seemed to have fallen upon the Castlemans. Good old George was in high spirits, and I could see in his eye that he intended to get drunk and, if possible, to bring me, also, to that happy condition. After many goblets of wine, he remarked:—
“The king of France will probably be upon us within a fortnight after he hears the sad news from Nancy.”
Yolanda immediately sat upright in her chair, abandoning Twonette’s soft hand and softer cheek.
“Why do you believe so, uncle?” she asked nervously.
“Because he has waited all his life for this untoward event to happen.”
“Preparations should be made to receive him,” said Yolanda.
“Ah, yes,” replied Castleman, “but Burgundy’s army is scattered to the four winds. It has given its blood for causes in which its heart was not. We lack the strong arm of the duke, to force men to battle against their will. King Louis must be fought by policy, not by armies; and Hymbercourt is absent.”
“Do you know aught of him, Sir Karl?” asked Yolanda.
“I do not, Fraeulein,” I answered, “save that he was alive and well when we left Nancy.”
“That, at least, is good news,” she replied, “and I make sure he will soon come to Burgundy’s help.”
“I am sure he is now on his way,” I answered.
“What can Burgundy do?” she asked, turning to Castleman and me. “You will each advise—advise the princess, I hope.”
“If she wishes my poor advice,” I responded, “she has but to ask it.”
“And mine,” said Castleman, tipping his goblet over his nose.
“If we are to have clear heads to-morrow,” I suggested, “we must drink no more wine to-night. The counsel of wine is the advice of the devil.”
“Right you are, Sir Karl. Only one more goblet. Here’s to the health of the bride to be,” said Castleman.
Yolanda leaned back in her chair beside Twonette, and her face wore a curious combination of smile and pout.