At strange variance with my philosophy, I had faith in Max’s luck. It was more than faith; it was a fixed, intuitive conviction that he would win. For these reasons, all growing out of what I felt rather than what I reasoned, we continued our dangerous and apparently useless journey. When a man feels himself led by an unseen hand, he should gladly follow. There is an intuition that is better than reason.
* * * * *
One bright morning in May we began our journey down the Rhine. My fears had no place in Max’s heart, and his self-confidence was to me a harbinger of good fortune. A man may do anything that he knows he can do; failure never disappoints him who expects it.
We left Basel by the west gate and took the road for Strasburg, leading down the west bank of the Rhine. That was not the most direct route to Peronne, but it was the safest because of the numerous river towns wherein we might lie safely by night. The robber barons whom we had to fear along the river were at least not pilfering vagabonds, such as we should meet across country. Against the open attack of a brave foe we felt that we could make a good defence. Our fighting force consisted of Max, myself, and two lusty squires. We had also a half-score of men who led the sumpter mules.
Castleman had purchased two beautiful chargers in Basel, pretending that he wished to take them to Peronne for sale. He asked Max to ride one and offered the other for my use. I was sure that his only reason for buying the horses was his desire to present them to us, which he afterward did. Max named his charger “Night,” because of its spotless coat of black. Yolanda rode a beautiful white mare which we re-christened “Day.” Castleman bestrode an ambling Flemish bay, almost as fat as its master and quite as good-natured, which, because of its slowness, Yolanda dubbed “Last Week.”
We travelled slowly down the Rhine, enjoying the scenery and filling our hearts with the sunshine of the soft spring days. Our cautious merchant so arranged our lodging-places that we were never on the road after dark. His system caused much delay, as we often rested a half-day in a town that we might be able to lodge there over night. In this deliberate manner of proceeding, life was a sweet, lazy holiday, and our journey was like a May outing. We were all very happy—almost ominously so.
After the explanation between Max and Yolanda on the hill at Basel she made no effort to avoid him, and he certainly did not avoid her. They both evidently rested on his remark that he would never again speak upon a certain subject. They fully understood each other’s position.
Max knew that between him and the burgher maiden there could be no thought of marriage. She, it seemed, was equally aware of that fact. All that he had been taught to value in life—father, mother, family and position, his father’s subjects, who would one day be his, his father’s throne, on which he would one day sit—stood between him and Yolanda. They stood between him and the achievement of any desire purely personal to himself and not conducive to the welfare of his state. He felt that he did not belong to himself; that his own happiness was never to be considered. He belonged to his house, his people, and his ancestors.