“Say, from a financial point of view it is not unworthy of your consideration,” I supplied, unable to conceal my disgust.
“Well, yes,” he resumed blandly, “you have hit it. However, I am by no means blind to her fascination. Moreover, the countess has a latent vein of fierceness in her nature which in time may endear her to my heart. Last night, for instance, we were at a ball at the Baron P——’s, and we danced together incessantly. While we were whirling about to the rhythm of an intoxicating melody, I, feeling pretty sure of my game, whispered half playfully in her ear: ’Countess, what would you say, if I should propose to you?’ ‘Propose and you will see,’ she answered gravely, while those big black eyes of hers flashed at until I felt half ashamed of my flippancy. Of course I did not venture to put the question then and there, although I was sorely tempted. Now that shows that she has spirit, to say the least. What do you think?”
“I think,” I answered, with emphasis, “that if I were a friend of the Countess von Brehm I should go to her to-morrow and implore her to have nothing to do with you.”
“By Jove,” he burst forth, laughing; “if I were a friend of the countess, I should do the very same thing; but being her lover, I cannot be expected to take such a disinterested view of the case. Moreover, my labor would be thrown away; for, entre nous, she is too much in love with me.”
I felt that if I stayed a moment longer we should inevitably quarrel. I therefore rose, somewhat abruptly, and pulled on my overcoat, averring that I was tired and should need a few hours of sleep before embarking in the morning.
“Well,” he said, shaking my hand heartily, as we parted in the hall, “if ever you should happen to visit Denmark again, you must promise me that you will look me up. You have a standing invitation to my future estate.”
Some three years later I was sitting behind my editorial desk in a newspaper office in Chicago, and the impressions from my happy winter in Copenhagen had well nigh faded from memory. The morning mail was brought in, and among my letters I found one from a Danish friend with whom I had kept up a desultory correspondence. In the letter I found the following paragraph:
“Since you left us, Dannevig has been going steadily down hill, until at last his order of Dannebrog just managed to keep him respectable. About a month ago he suddenly vanished from the social horizon, and the rumor says that he has fled from his numerous creditors, and probably now is on his way to America. His resources, whatever they were, gradually failed him, while his habits remained as extravagant as ever. If the popular belief is to be credited, he lived during the two last years on his prospect of marrying the Countess von Brehm, which prospect in Copenhagen was always convertible into cash. The countess, by the way,