‘Don’t be unjust,’ said I.
‘I wish I could think I was!’ she rejoined. ’Frau von Dittmarsch was at Sarkeld, and received terrible news of you. She called on me, at my father’s residence over the water yonder, yesterday afternoon, desiring greatly to know—she is as cautious as one with a jewel in her custody—how it fared with you, whether you were actually in a dying state. I came here to learn; I have friends here: you were not alone, or I should have called on you. The rumour was that you were very ill; so I hired a furnished place for Frau von Dittmarsch at once. But when I saw you and him together, and the parting between you, I began to have fears; I should have countermanded the despatch I sent by the boat, had it been possible.’
‘It has gone! And tell me the name of the other.’
‘Frau von Dittmarsch has a husband.’
‘Not with her now. Oh! cruel! speak: her name?’
‘Her name, Harry?’ Her title is Countess von Delzenburg.’
‘Not in England.’
Then Ottilia was here!
My father was indeed a magician!
THE PRINCESS ENTRAPPED
‘Not princess in England,’ could betoken but one thing—an incredible act of devotion, so great that it stunned my senses, and I thought of it, and of all it involved, before the vision of Ottilia crossing seas took possession of me.
‘The Princess Ottilia, Miss Goodwin?’
‘The Countess of Delzenburg, Harry.’
‘To see me? She has come!’
’Harry, you talk like the boy you were when we met before you knew her. Yes and yes to everything you have to say, but I think you should spare her name.’
‘She comes thinking me ill?’
‘I’m as strong as ever I was.’
‘I should imagine you are, only rather pale.’
‘Have you, tell me, Clara, seen her yourself? Is she well?’
‘Pale: not unwell: anxious.’
’It may be about the political affairs of the Continent; they are disturbed.’
‘She spoke of me?’
‘She is coming by the next boat?’
‘It’s my fear that she is.’
‘Why do you fear?’
’Shall I answer you, Harry? It is useless now. Well, because she has been deceived. That is why. You will soon find it out.’
‘Prince Ernest is at Sarkeld?’
‘In Paris, I hear.’
’How will your despatch reach these ladies in time for them to come over by the next boat?’
’I have sent my father’s servant. The General—he is promoted at last, Harry—attends the ladies in person, and is now waiting for the boat’s arrival over there, to follow my directions.’
‘You won’t leave me?’