“Man, I can give you the crowns, but God knows I have no longer the power to give you immunity.”
The Gipsy shouldered his bundle.
“For God’s sake, wait!” begged the clock-mender.
But the Gipsy walked out, unheeding.
A WHITE SCAR
Two days later, in the afternoon.
“Grumbach,” said Carmichael, “what the deuce were you looking at the other night, with those opera-glasses?”
“At the ball?” Grumbach pressed down the ash in his pipe and brushed his thumb on his sleeve. “I was looking into the past.”
“With a pair of opera-glasses?”
“Yes.” Grumbach was perfectly serious.
“Oh, pshaw! You were following her highness with them. I want to know why.”
“She is beautiful.”
“You made a promise to me not long ago.”
“I did?” non-committally.
“Yes. Soon I shall be shaking the dust of Dreiberg, and I want to know beforehand what this Chinese puzzle is. What did you do that compelled your flight from Ehrenstein?”
Grumbach’s pipe hung pendulent in his hand. He swung it to and fro absently.
“I am waiting. Remember, you are an American citizen, for all that you were born here. If anything should happen to you, I must know the whole story in order to help you. You know that you may trust me.”
“It isn’t that, Captain. I have grown to like you in these few days.”
“What has that to do with it?” impatiently.
“Nothing, perhaps. Only, if I tell you, you will not be my friend.”
“Nonsense! What you did sixteen years ago doesn’t matter now. It is enough for me that you fought in my regiment, and that you were a brave soldier.”
“Those opera-glasses; it was an idea. Well, since you will know. I was a gardener’s boy. I worked under my brother Hermann. I used to ask the nurse, who had charge of her serene highness, where she would go each day. Then I’d cut flowers and meet them on the road somewhere and give the bouquet to the child. There was never any escort; a footman and a driver. The little one was always greatly pleased, and she would call me Hans. I was in love those days.” Grumbach laughed with bitterness. “Yes, even I. Her name was Tekla, and she was a jade. I wanted to run away, but I had no money. I had already secured a passport; no matter how. It was the first affair, and I was desperately hurt. One day a Gipsy came to me. I shall always know him by the yellow spot in one of his black eyes. I was given a thousand crowns to tell him which road her highness was to be driven over the next day. As I said, I was mad with love. Why a Gipsy should want to know where her highness was going to ride was of no consequence to me. I told him. I was to get the money the same night. It was thus that her highness was stolen; it was thus that