“Here, sit down, dear sir, and partake of a few things. We live so far from civilization that we seldom get a good chicken. But eggs I can offer you, eggs and ham, cooked by me on an electric machine.”
“You have no servants?” Gerald ventured.
“Not one. I can’t trust them near my—toys. The princess plays Chopin mazourkas after she makes the beds in the morning, and in the afternoon she is my assistant in the laboratory.” Again the young man looked about him. If the room was a laboratory, where were the retorts, the oven, the phials, the jars, the usual apparatus of a modern chemist? He saw nothing, except an old-fashioned electric fan and a few dusty books. The fireworks—were those overgrown wheels and gaunt windmills and gas-house the secret of the prince’s self-banishment to this dreary coast? What dreams did he seek to incarnate on this strand, in this queer tower, locked away from the world with a charming princess—a fairy princess whose heart beat with love for the oppressed, in whose hand he might some time see the blazing torch of freedom? He, himself, was enveloped by the hypnotism of the place. Mila spoke:—
“I fear I must leave you. I am studying to-night and—I go early to rest. Pray dine as well as you can, with such a chef.” She smiled mischievously at her uncle, courtesied in peasant fashion to the bewildered Gerald, who put out his hand, fain to touch hers, and disappeared. The prince gazed inquiringly at the young man.
“Revolutionists soon become friends, do they not? The Princess Mila is part Russian, part Roumanian,—my sister married a Roumanian,—hence her implacable political attitude. I can’t lead her back to civilized thinking. She sees war in the moon, sun, and stars. And I—I have forsworn violence. Ah! if I could only make the prince change. Bakounine’s death had no effect; Netschajew’s fate did not move him; nor was Illowski’s mad attempt to burn down Paris with his incendiary symphony an example to our prince that those who take up the sword perish by the sword. Ah, Tolstoy, dear Leon Nikolaievitch, you showed me the true way to master the world by love and not by hate! Until I read—but there, it’s late. Come with me to your room. You may smoke and sleep when you will. In the morning I will show you my—toys.” They shook hands formally and parted.
His bed was hard, and his room cheerless, but anything, even a haymow, rather than walking back to the station. After he went to his bed, he rehearsed the day’s doings from the three hours’ ride in the train to the tower. How weary he was! Hark—some one played the piano! A Chopin mazourka! It was the princess. Mila! How lovely her touch!... Mila! What a lovely name! A sleeping princess. A prince with such a sleepy head. How the girl could play ... along the spiral road he saw the music glow in enigmatic figures of fire....