The reasoning and the reasoner were so irresistible that Max was easily satisfied.
“But you have spoken of the lady as in the past. I hope she is not dead?” asked Yolanda.
“No,” answered Max, gravely, “our fathers did not agree. That is, her father was not satisfied, and it all came to nothing save a—a heartache for me.”
It was well that Max was looking at the ground when she turned the soft radiance of her eyes upon him, else he might have learned too much. His modesty and honesty in admitting frankly that the lady’s father was not satisfied with the match pleased her and she sat in silence, smiling contentedly. After a time she turned almost fiercely upon him:—
“Do you know what I should do, Sir Max, were I in your place?”
“What would you do, Fraeulein?” queried Max.
“I would show the lady that I was worthy of her by winning her, even though she were on a throne, guarded by a thousand dragons. I am a woman, Sir Max, and I know a woman’s heart. The heart of a princess is first the heart of a woman. Be sure the lady will thank you and will reward you if you fight your way to her and carry her off against all the world.”
“But how is that to be done, Fraeulein?” asked Max, carelessly. In truth, Mary of Burgundy was not uppermost in his heart at that moment.
“That is for a man to say and for a man to do,” she responded. “A woman knows only how to wait and to long for one who, alas! may never come. She will wait for you, Sir Max, and when you come to her, she will place her hand in yours and go with you wherever you wish to take her. Of this, at least, my powers of sorcery are sufficient to assure you. Do not fear! do not fear!”
She spoke earnestly, as if from the depths of a personal experience. Her eyes glowed with the light of excitement and her face was radiant. Max turned to her and saw all this beauty. Then he gently took her hand and said huskily:—
“If I thought she were like you, Fraeulein, I would gladly go to the end of the world to win from her even one smile.”
“No, no, Sir Max,” said Yolanda, withdrawing her hand, “we must have no more such speeches from you. They are wrong coming from one of your degree to a burgher girl of Peronne, if she be an honest girl. Our stations are too far apart.”
“That is true, Fraeulein,” answered Max, sorrowfully, “but I mean no disrespect. I honor you as if you were a princess”—here his tones took energy and emphasis—“but I meant what I said, Fraeulein, I meant what I said, and though I shall never say it again, I know that I shall mean it all the days of my life.”
The expression in her eyes as she looked up at him was one of mingled pleasure and amusement. It seemed to say, “Do not be too sure that you will never say it again,” but she said nothing. After a moment she suggested:—
“Shall we return, Sir Max?” They rose, and as they started back to Basel he remarked:—