“Yes. It was a poor fool of a Dane. He got into a row with somebody about the war. Said he would undertake to whip ten Deutschers single-handed; that he had done so many a time in the Schleswig-Holstein war. Then there was some fighting, and he was shot.”
I spoke a few words to the policeman at the door, and was admitted. The saloon was empty but in the billiard-room at its rear I saw a doctor in his shirt-sleeves, bending over a man who lay outstretched on a billiard-table. A bartender was standing by with a basin of water and a bloody towel.
“Do you know his name?” I inquired of the police officer.
“They used to call him Danish Bill,” he answered. “Have known him for a good while. Believe his real name was Danborg, or Dan—something.”
“Not Dannevig?” I cried.
“Dannevig? Yes, I guess you have got it.”
I hastily approached the table. There lay Dannevig—but I would rather not describe him. It was hard to believe it, but this heavy-lidded, coarse-skinned, red-veined countenance bore a cruel, caricatured resemblance to the clean-cut, exquisitely modelled face of the man I had once called my friend. A death-like stupor rested upon his features; his eyes were closed, but his mouth half open.
“By Jove!” exclaimed the physician, in a burst of professional enthusiasm, “what a splendid animal he must have been! Hardly saw a better made man in all my life.”
“But he is not dead!” I protested, somewhat anxiously.
“No; but he has no chance, that I can see. May last over to-morrow, but hardly longer. Does any one know where he lodges?”
No one answered.
“But, Himmel! he cannot stay here.” The voice was the bartender’s, but it seemed to be addressed to no one in particular.
“I have known him for years,” I said. “Take him to my rooms; they are only a dozen blocks away.”
A carriage was sent for, and away we drove, the doctor and I, slowly, cautiously, holding the still unconscious man between us. We laid him on my bed, and the doctor departed, promising to return before morning.
A little after midnight Dannevig became restless, and as I went to his side, opened his eyes with a look of full, startled consciousness.
“I’m about played out, old fellow, aint I?” he groaned.
I motioned to him to be silent.
“No,” he went on, in a strained whisper, “it is no use now. I know well enough how I stand. You needn’t try to fool me.”
He lay for a while motionless, while his eyes wandered restlessly about the room. He made an effort to speak, but his words were inaudible. I stooped over him, laying my ear to his mouth.
“Can—can you lend me five dollars?”
“You will find—a pawnbroker’s check—in my vest pocket,” he continued. “The address is—is—on it. Redeem it. It is a ring. Send it—to—to the Countess von Brehm—with—with—my compliments,” he finished with a groan.