“Yes,” he said, “I will bring her here. I know she is in the palace. I saw her but a few moments since. Wait for Me.” “Stop,” said Maximilian, “have you the receipt for the $5,000 signed by Mrs. Plunkett?”
“No; but I can get it.”
“Do so, pray; and when you bring her here introduce me to her as Mr. Martin, and my friend here as Mr. Henry. She may refuse our assistance, and we must provide against the revenge of the Prince.”
“I will do as you command,” replied Rudolph, who acted throughout as if he felt himself in the presence of a superior officer.
As we sat waiting his return I was in a state of considerable excitement. Delight, to know that she was still the pure angel I had worshiped in my dreams, contended with trepidation as I felt I must soon stand in her presence.
The door opened and Rudolph entered; behind him came the tall form of the beautiful girl I had seen in the carriage: she seemed to me fairer than ever. Her eyes first fell upon me; she started and blushed. It was evident she recognized me; and I fancied the recognition was not unpleasant to her. She then turned to Maximilian and then to Rudolph, who introduced us as we had requested. I offered her a chair. She sat down, evidently astonished at such an interview, and yet entirely mistress of herself. After a moment’s pause,—for Maximilian, as he told me afterwards, was too bewildered with her splendid beauty to speak,—she said, in a sweet and gentle voice:
“Mr. Rudolph tells me that you desire to speak to me on matters of importance.”
At a sign from Maximilian Rudolph closed and locked the door. She started, and it seemed to me that her eyes turned to me with more confidence than to either of the others.
“Miss Washington,” said Maximilian, “it is true we desire to speak with you on matters of the greatest moment to yourself. But we shall say things so surprising to you, so harsh and cruel, so utterly in conflict with your present opinions, that I scarce know how to begin.”
She had grown paler during this speech, and I then said:
“Be assured that nothing but the profound respect we feel for you, and the greatest desire to serve you, and save you from ruin, could have induced us to intrude upon you.”
Her face showed her increasing alarm; she placed her hand on her heart, as if to still its beatings, and then, with constrained dignity, replied:
“I do not understand you, gentlemen. I do not know what the dangers are to which you allude. Can you not speak plainly?”
“My friend here, Mr. Henry,” said Maximilian, looking at me, “you have, I perceive, already recognized.”
“Yes,” she said, with another blush, “if I am not mistaken, he is the gentleman who saved the life of a poor beggar, some days since, and punished, as he deserved, our insolent driver. Miss Frederika, the Prince’s niece, has, at my request, refused since that time to permit him to drive us when we go out together, as we often do. I am glad to thank you again,” she said, with a charmingly ingenuous air, “for your noble act in saving that poor man’s life.”