“I do not know,” answered Hymbercourt. “Let me think it all over, and I will see you at your house to-night. Of this I am certain: you must not move in the matter. If you are known to be interested, certain facts may leak out that would ruin you and perhaps bring trouble to one who already bears a burden too heavy for young shoulders. We know but one useful fact: Calli and Campo-Basso are at the bottom of this evil. The duke suspects that the states adjacent to Switzerland, including Styria, will give aid to the Swiss in this war with Burgundy, and it may be that Duke Charles has reasons for the arrest of our friends. He may have learned that Sir Max is the Count of Hapsburg. I hope his finger is not in the affair. I will learn what I can, and will see you to-night. Till then, adieu.”
True to his promise, Hymbercourt went to Castleman’s that evening, but he had learned nothing and had thought out no plan of action. Two days passed and there was another consultation. Still the mystery was as far from solution as on the day of its birth. Yolanda was in tribulation, and declared that she would take the matter into her own hands. Her uncle dissuaded her, however, and she reluctantly agreed to remain silent for a day or two longer, but she vowed that she would give tongue to her thoughts and arouse all Burgundy in behalf of Max and myself if we were not soon discovered.
PERONNE LA PUCELLE
The next morning Duke Charles went down to the great hall of the castle to hear reports from his officers relating to the war that he was about to wage against the Swiss. When the duke ascended the three steps of the dais to the ducal throne, he spoke to Campo-Basso who stood upon the first step at the duke’s right.
“What news, my Lord Count?” asked Charles. “I’m told there is a messenger from Ghent.”
“Ill news, my lord,” answered Campo-Basso.
“Out with it!” cried the duke. “One should always swallow a bitter draught quickly.”
“We hear the Swiss are gathering their cantons in great numbers,” said Campo-Basso.
“Let the sheep gather,” said Charles, waving his hands. “The more they gather to the fold, the more we’ll shear.” He laughed as if pleased with the prospect, and continued, “Proceed, my Lord Count.”
“The Duke of Lorraine is again trying to muster his subjects against Your Grace, and sends a polite message asking and offering terms of agreement. Shall I read the missive, my lord?”
“No!” cried the duke, “Curse his soft words. There is no bad news yet. Proceed.”
“It is rumored, Your Grace,” continued the count, “that Frederick, Duke of Styria, is preparing to aid the Swiss against Your Grace.”
“With his advice?” asked the duke. “The old pauper has nothing else to give, unless it be the bones of his ancestors.”
“It is said, Your Highness, that Wuertemberg will also aid the Swiss, and that Duke Albert will try to bring about a coalition of the German states for the purpose of assisting the Swiss, aiding Lorraine, and overthrowing Burgundy. This purpose, our informant tells us, has been fostered by this same Duke Frederick of Styria.”