“You have had an adventure?”—distrustfully.
“Yes. Be still.”
There were tones in Gretchen’s voice that the young vintner could never quite understand. There was a will little less than imperial, and often as he rebelled, he never failed to bow to it.
“What was this adventure?” he demanded, as the music stopped.
She told him about the geese, the grand duke, and the two crowns. He laughed, and she joined him, for it was amusing now.
The musicians were putting away their instruments, the crowd was melting, the attendants were stacking the chairs, so the two lovers went out of the gardens toward the town and the Krumerweg.
Meanwhile Carmichael had lectured the policeman, who was greatly disturbed.
“Your Excellency, I am sure Colonel von Wallenstein meant no harm.”
“Are you truthfully sure?”
The policeman plucked at his beard nervously. “It is every man for himself, as your excellency knows. Had I spoken to the colonel, he would have had me broken.”
“You could have appealed to the duke.”
“Perhaps. I am sorry for the girl, but I have a family to take care of.”
“Well, mark me; this little woman loves music; she comes here often. The next time she is annoyed by Wallenstein or any one else, you report it to me. I’ll see that it reaches his highness.”
“I shall gladly do that, your Excellency.”
Carmichael left the gardens and wandered with aimless step. He was surprised to find that he was opposite the side gates to the royal gardens. His feet had followed the bent of his mind. Yet he did not cross the narrow side street. The sound of carriage wheels caused him to halt. He waited. The carriage he had seen by the fountain drew up before the gates, and the woman in black alighted. She spoke to the sentinel, who opened the gates and closed them. The veiled lady vanished abruptly beyond the shrubbery.
“I wonder who that was?” was Carmichael’s internal question. “Bah! Some lady-in-waiting with an affair on hand.”
FOR HER COUNTRY
“Count, must I tell you again not to broach that subject? There can be no alliance between Ehrenstein and Jugendheit.”
“Why?” asked Count von Herbeck, chancellor, coolly returning the angry flash from the ducal eyes.
“There are a thousand reasons why, but it is not my purpose to name them.”
“Name only one, your Highness, only one.”
“Will that satisfy you?”
“One of my reasons is that I do not want any alliance with a country so perfidious as Jugendheit. What! I make overtures? I, who have been so cruelly wronged all these years? You are mad.”
“But what positive evidence have you that Jugendheit wronged you?”
“Positive? Have I eyes and ears? Have I not seen and read and heard?” This time the duke struck the desk savagely. “Why do you always rouse me in this fashion, Herbeck? You know how distasteful all this is to me.”