“Jack, you are hiding something from me. Are you going to leave the city to search for her?”
“No,” said I. “The truth is,” with a miserable attempt to smile, “I have an engagement to-morrow morning, and it is impossible to tell how long it will last. Good night.”
Fate played loose with me that night. As I was turning down the corridor I ran into the Prince. He was accompanied by Von Walden and an attache whom I knew.
“Good evening,” said the Prince. “Do you not prefer the French opera, after all?”
“All good music is the same to me,” I answered, calmly returning his amused look with a contemptuous one. “Wagner, Verdi, Gounod, or Bizet, it matters not.”
The attache passed some cigarettes. Only the Prince refused.
“No thanks. I am not that kind of a villain.” He laughed as he uttered these words, and looked at me.
I would have given much to possess that man’s coolness.
“Till we meet again,” he said, as I continued on. “Shall I add pleasant dreams?”
“I am obliged to you,” I answered over my shoulder, “but I never have them. I sleep too soundly.”
“Cousin,” said I, later, “what was that opera?”
“I forgot to bring along a program,” said Pembroke.
When Pembroke and I arrived at the Strasburg inn, on the north road, neither the Prince nor Von Walden were in evidence. I stepped from our carriage and gazed interestedly around me. The scene was a picturesque one. The sun, but half risen, was of a rusty brass, and all east was mottled with purple and salmon hues. The clearing, a quarter of a mile away, where the Prince and I were to settle our dispute, was hidden under a fine white snow; and the barren trees which encircled it stood out blackly. Pembroke looked at his watch.
“They ought to be along soon; it’s five after six. How do you feel?” regarding me seriously.
“As nerveless as a rod of steel,” I answered. “Let us go in and order a small breakfast. I’m a bit cold.”
“Better let it go at a cup of coffee,” he suggested.
“It will be more consistent, that is true,” I said. “Coffee and pistols for two.”
“I’m glad to see that you are bright,” said Pembroke. “Hold out your hand.”
I did so.
“Good. So long as it doesn’t tremble, I have confidence of the end.”
We had scarcely finished our coffee when the Prince, followed by Von Walden, entered.
“Pardon me,” he said, “for having made you wait.”
“Permit me,” said I, rising, “to present my second; Mr. Pembroke, His Highness Prince Ernst of Wortumborg.”
The two looked into each other’s eyes for a space, and the Prince nodded approvingly.
“I have heard of Your Highness,” said my cousin, with a peculiar smile.