“If you are to be hot-blooded, or even warm-blooded, you must turn your back on your house and cast from you the duties and privileges of your birth,” I observed.
“You are right,” he answered irritably. “But it will be difficult for me to please one woman while thinking of another. Ah, Karl, I am growing tired of this Burgundian dream. Dream? It is almost a nightmare.”
Max’s words did not alarm me; he was “chained to a throne.” He would not fail me if the hour of good fortune should come.
“Your thoughts of another woman will not stand in your way,” I said. “Experience is more necessary in dealing with women than in any other of life’s affairs, and this episode with Yolanda is what you need to prepare you for—for what I pray you may have to do.”
“Karl, please do not talk of this—this—my feeling for Yolanda as an episode,” he said, speaking almost angrily. “It is a part of my life, and will be my sorrow as long as I live.”
The boy’s anger warned me that if I would lead him, I must do it gently.
“I believe, Max, you speak truly,” I said; “but it will not be an unmixed evil. Good will come of it, since the image of a pure woman injures no man’s heart. It keeps him in the narrow way and guides his hand for righteousness.”
WHO IS YOLANDA?
Next morning Yolanda came to breakfast smiling, bedimpled, and sparkling as a sunlit mountain brook. Max, who was gloomy, took her sprightliness amiss, thinking, no doubt, that her life also ought to be darkened by the cloud that he thought was over-shadowing him. There was no doubt in my mind that Yolanda had inspired a deep and lasting passion in Max, though he was, I hoped, mistaken in the belief that it would darken his life. But I would not give a kreutzer for a young fellow who does not feel that life is worthless without his lady-love.
Yolanda did not take kindly to clouds of any sort, and she soon scattered those that Max had conjured up. After we had resumed our journey Max fell back to ride with her.
“Sir Max,” she said, “if you allow yourself to become The Knight Doleful, I will not only cease having speech with you, but I will laugh at you.”
The latter she did then and there. This from a burgher girl of Peronne to a prince of the House of Hapsburg! The good duke and duchess would have swooned with horror had they known of it. Max was inclined to be angry, but, unfortunately for his ill-humor, he caught a glimpse of her face, and he, too, laughed.
“I fear I am a great fool,” he said. Yolanda did not contradict him. She simply shrugged her shoulders as if to say, “That unfortunate condition is apt, at times, to overtake the best of men.”
Soon our little cavalcade came together, and we rode, laughing, and all talking at once, for a league or more.