“Gabriel,” said Maximilian,—and his face was flushed and working,—“this is—or was—my father.”
I took the poor hand in my own and kissed it, and spoke encouragingly to him. And this, I thought, was once a wealthy, handsome, portly, learned gentleman; a scholar and a philanthropist; and his only crime was that he loved his fellow-men! And upon how many such men have the prison doors of the world closed—never to open again?
They took him away to the bath; they fed him; they put upon him the clothes of a gentleman. He smiled in a childish way, and smoothed the fine cloth with his hands; and then he seemed to realize, for the first time, that he was, indeed, no longer a prisoner—that his jailers had gone out of his life forever.
“I must go now,” said Maximilian, hurriedly; “I will be back this evening. I have a duty to perform.”
He returned at nightfall. There was a terrible light in his eyes.
“I have avenged my father,” he said to me, in a hoarse whisper. “Come this way.”
He took me into the library, for he would not have the women hear the dreadful story. I shut the door. He said:
“I had made all the necessary arrangements to prevent the escape of the Count and his accomplices. I knew that he would fly, at the first alarm, to his yacht, which lies out in the harbor. He had ruined my father by bribery; so I brought his own instrument to bear upon him, and bribed, with a large sum, his confidential friend, who was in command of his vessel, to deliver him up to me. As I had anticipated, the cunning wretch fled to the yacht; they took him on board. Then they made him prisoner. He was shackled and chained to the mast. He begged for his life and liberty. He had brought a fortune with him in gold and jewels. He offered the whole of it to his friend, as a bribe, for he surmised what was coming. The faithful officer replied, as I had instructed him, that the Count could not offer that treasure, for he himself had already appropriated it to his own purposes. The miscreant had always