“The words ‘Little Max’ on your lips sounded sweet to me, Fraeulein. They bring home to me the voice of my mother, and though I should not care to hear another speak them, still, the words are very pretty on your lips, and I like them.”
Yolanda glanced quickly up to him with radiant eyes. He caught the glance, and the last vestige of his ideal, Mary of Burgundy, left his heart, driven out by the very real little enchantress that walked by his side.
DOWN THE RHINE TO BURGUNDY
Notwithstanding the idle, happy life we were leading, I was anxious to begin our journey to Burgundy. Just what would—or could—happen when we should reach that land of promise—perhaps I should say of no promise—I did not know. I hoped that by some happy turn of fortune—perhaps through Twonette’s help—Max might be brought to meet Mary of Burgundy. I had all faith in his ability to please her, or any woman, but what advantage he could gain by winning her regard I could not guess. The lady’s personal preference would cut no figure in the choosing of a husband. Her father would do that for her, and she would be powerless against the will of a man whose chief impulses were those of a mad bull. This arrogant duke, without so much as a formal withdrawal, had ignored Duke Frederick’s acceptance and had contracted his daughter’s hand to the Dauphin of France, who was a puny, weak-minded boy of fourteen.
Should Max and I go to Burgundy and say to Charles, “This is Maximilian of Styria, to whom you offered your daughter in marriage,” his answer might be a sword thrust. Should the duke learn of our unbidden presence in his domain, his love for making enemies would probably bring us into trouble. Therefore, though I ardently wished to begin the journey, I had no real cause to hope for good results, though there were many reasons to fear the outcome of our adventures.
One may well ask why I continued in a course so dangerous. My answer is: A man travels the road of his destiny. The Fates sometimes hunt out a man for their purposes and snatch him from his hiding-place in the by-ways, but they usually choose from the scenes of great events their victims or their favorites. The man who fears to be their victim is seldom chosen for their favorite. I should rather be their victim than be overlooked; and what I should have chosen for myself I desired for Max. I had no future save in him; I had been overlooked in the by-ways.
At the time of our journeying all Europe turned on a Burgundian pivot, and the Fates were busy in that land. It was the stage of the world, on which the strong, the great, and the enterprising of mankind were playing; and I hoped that Max, who was strong and enterprising, would find his part in this Burgundian drama. I was willing to risk sacrificing him, though he was dearer to me than the blood of my heart, if I might stand even a small chance to make him great.