“Ah, you praise your acts because you desire your reward,” said his excellency, contemptuously opening his writing-desk, and drawing forth a well-filled purse. “You there have your pay, good man!”
Cecil indignantly rejected the money. “I am no Judas, who betrays his master for money,” said he. “Please remember, your excellency, for what I promised to fulfil your excellency’s commands, and what reward you promised me!”
“Ah, I now remember! You required my promise that no harm should befall the count!”
“Only on that condition did I promise my assistance,” said Cecil. “When your emissary sought me and called me to you, I only followed him, as you well know, most noble count, because you gave me to understand that my master’s life and safety were concerned. I came to you. Allow me, your excellency to repeat your own words. You said: ’Cecil, you have been represented to me as a true friend of your master. Fidelity is so rare a virtue, that it deserves reward. I will reward you by saving your life. Quickly leave this traitorous count, and break off all connection with him, else you are lost. I am secretly sent here in order to capture the count and his criminal ward, and take them to St. Petersburg. What there awaits the count may easily be imagined.’ Thus speaking, your excellency then showed me the command for the count’s arrest, signed by the empress. Upon which I asked: ’Is there no means of saving the count?’ ‘There is one,’ said you. ’Persuade the count to return immediately to St. Petersburg, leaving his ward behind him here, and I swear to you, in the name of the empress, that no harm shall come to him.’”
“Well,” impatiently cried the count, “what is the use of repeating all that, as I know it already?”
“Only because your excellency seems to forget that what I did was not done for your miserable gold, but for a totally different reward—the safety of a man whom I love as my own son.”
“You have my word—no harm shall come to him.”
“I doubt not your excellency’s word,” firmly and decidedly responded Cecil, “your word is all-powerful, and when you let your commanding voice be heard, all Russia trembles and bows before you. But here your voice resounds only between these walls, and nobody hears it but I alone. Give me an evidence of your word—a safety-pass, signed by your own hand, for my master, and then destroy the order for his arrest which you now hold!”
“Ah, it seems you would prescribe conditions?” said the count, proudly.
“Certainly I will,” said Cecil. “I have complied with your conditions, and now it is your turn, Sir Count, to comply with mine, for you knew them before!”
A dark glow of anger showed itself in the count’s face, and, passionately starting up, he approached Cecil, raising his arm threateningly against him.
“Sir Count,” said Cecil, stepping back, “you mistake! I am no Russian serf, I am a free man, and no one has a right so to threaten me!”