The vintner had indeed heard something. He knew not what this noise was, but it was enough to set his heels to flying. A phase had developed in his character that defied analysis; suspicion, suspicion of daylight, of night, of shadows moving by walls, of footsteps behind. Only a little while ago he had walked free-hearted and careless. This growing habit of skulking was gall and wormwood. Once in his room, which was directly over the office of the American consulate, he fell into a chair, inert and breathless. What a night! What a series of adventures!
“Only a month ago I was a boy. I am a man now, for I know what it is to suffer. Gretchen, dear Gretchen, I am a black scoundrel! But if I break your heart I shall break my own along with it. I wonder how much longer it will last. But for that vintner’s notice I should have been lost.”
By and by he lighted a candle. The room held a cot, a table, and two chairs. The vintner’s wardrobe consisted of a small pack thrown carelessly into a corner. Out of the drawer in the table he took several papers and burned them. The ashes he cast out of the window. He knew something about police methods; they were by no means all through with him. Ah! A patch of white paper, just inside the door, caught his eye. He fetched it to the candle. What he read forced the color from his cheeks and his hands were touched with transient palsy.
“The devil! What shall I do now?” he muttered, thoroughly dismayed.
What indeed should he do? Which way should he move? How long had he been in Dreiberg? Ah, that would be rich! What a joke! It would afford him a smile in his old age. Carmichael, Carmichael! The vintner chuckled softly as he scribbled this note:
“If Herr Carmichael
would learn the secret of number forty
Krumerweg, let him attire himself as a vintner and be in the
Krumerweg at eight o’clock to-night.”
“So there is a trap, and I am to beware of a mountaineer, a carter, a butcher, and a baker? Thanks, Scharfenstein, my friend, thanks! You are watching over me.”
He blew out his candle and went to bed.
A DAY DREAM
Colonel Von Wallenstein curled his mustaches. It was a happy thought that had taken him into the Adlergasse. This Gretchen had been haunting his dreams, and here she was, coming into his very arms, as it were. The sidewalk was narrow. Gretchen, casually noting that an officer stood in the way, sensibly veered into the road. But to her surprise the soldier left the sidewalk and planted himself in the middle of the road. There was no mistaking this second maneuver. The officer, whom she now recognized, was bent on intercepting her. She stopped, a cold fury in her heart.
To make sure, she essayed to go round. It was of no use. So she stopped again.