“Shut up!” snapped Chauvenet.
“You will both of you do well to hold your tongues,” remarked Claiborne dryly. “One of these officers understands French, and I assure you they can not be bought or frightened. If you try to bolt, they will certainly shoot you. If you make a row about going on board your boat at Baltimore, remember they are government agents, with ample authority for any emergency, and that Baron von Marhof has the American State Department at his back.”
“You are wonderful, Captain Claiborne,” drawled Durand.
“There is no trap in this? You give us the freedom of the sea?” demanded Chauvenet.
“I gave you the option of a Virginia prison for conspiracy to murder, or a run for your life in your own boat beyond the Capes. You have chosen the second alternative; if you care to change your decision—”
Oscar gathered up the reins and waited for the word. Claiborne held his watch to the lantern.
“We must not miss our train, my dear Jules!” said Durand.
“Bah, Claiborne! this is ungenerous of you. You know well enough this is an unlawful proceeding—kidnapping us this way—without opportunity for counsel.”
“And without benefit of clergy,” laughed Claiborne. “Is it a dash for the sea, or the nearest county jail? If you want to tackle the American courts, we have nothing to venture. The Winkelried crowd are safe behind the bars in Vienna, and publicity can do us no harm.”
“Drive on!” ejaculated Chauvenet.
As the buckboard started, Baron von Marhof and Judge Claiborne rode up, and watched the departure from their saddles.
“That’s the end of one chapter,” remarked Judge Claiborne.
“They’re glad enough to go,” said Dick. “What’s the latest word from Vienna?”
“The conspirators were taken quietly; about one hundred arrests have been made in all, and the Hungarian uprising has played out utterly—thanks to Mr. John Armitage,” and the Baron sighed and turned toward the bungalow.
When the two diplomats rode home half an hour later, it was with the assurance that Armitage’s condition was satisfactory.
“He is a hardy plant,” said the surgeon, “and will pull through.”
If so be, you can discover a mode of life more desirable than the being a king, for those who shall be kings; then the true Ideal of the State will become a possibility; but not otherwise.—Marius the Epicurean.
June roses overflowed the veranda rail of Baron von Marhof’s cottage at Storm Springs. The Ambassador and his friend and counsel, Judge Hilton Claiborne, sat in a cool corner with a wicker table between them. The representative of Austria-Hungary shook his glass with an impatience that tinkled the ice cheerily.
“He’s as obstinate as a mule!”
Judge Claiborne laughed at the Baron’s vehemence.