Caesar's Column eBook

Ignatius Donnelly
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 287 pages of information about Caesar's Column.

“‘Her name is Estella Washington,’ replied Celestine; ’she is about eighteen years old.’

“‘Estella Washington,’ he said respectfully; ’that is a great name.  What is she like?’

“‘I have told you already,’ was the reply, ’that she is of magnificent beauty, tall, fair, stately, graceful and innocent.,

“‘Indeed, I must see her.’

“He hurried to his library and rang my bell.

“‘Rudolph,’ he said, when I appeared, ’who is this Estella Washington that you brought into the house some weeks since?  Celestine has been telling me about her.  How comes it I have never seen her?’

“My heart came into my mouth with a great leap; but I controlled my excitement and replied: 

“’My lord, I reported to you the fact of the purchase some time since, and the payment of $5,000 to an aunt of Estella.’

“‘True,’ he said, ’I remember it now; but I was much occupied at the time.  How comes it, however, that she has been in the house and I have never seen her?’

“I determined not to betray Frederika, and so I replied: 

“’It must have been by accident, your lordship; and, moreover, Estella is of a very quiet, retiring disposition, and has kept her room a great part of the time since she came here.’

“‘Go to her and bring her here,’ he said.

“There was no help for it; so I proceeded to Estella’s room.

“‘Miss Washington,’ I said, ’I have bad news for you.  The Prince desires to see you!’

“She rose up, very pale.

‘’’My God,’ she said, ‘what shall I do?’

“And then she began to fumble in the folds of her dress for the knife your friend gave her.

“‘Be calm and patient,’ I said; ’do nothing desperate.  On the night after next your friend will come for you.  We must delay matters all we can.  Keep your room, and I will tell the Prince that you are too sick to leave your bed, but hope to be well enough to pay your respects to him to-morrow afternoon.  We will thus gain twenty-four hours’ delay, and we may be able to use the same device again to-morrow.’

“But she was very much excited, and paced the room with hurried steps, wringing her hands.  To calm her I said: 

“‘You are in no danger.  You can lock your door.  And see, come here,’ I said, and, advancing to one of the window sills, I lifted it up and disclosed, neatly coiled within it, a ladder of cords, with stout bamboo rounds.  ‘As a last resort,’ I continued, ’you can drop this out of the window and fly.  All the rooms in this older part of the palace are furnished with similar fire-escapes.  You see that yellow path below us; and there beyond the trees you may perceive a part of the wall of the gardens; that path terminates at a little gate, and here is a key that will unlock it.  Study the ground well from your windows.  Your escape would, however, have to be made by night; but as you would run some risk in crossing the grounds, and, when you passed the gate, would find yourself in the midst of a strange world, without a friend, you must only think of flight as your last resource in the most desperate extremity.  We must resort to cunning, until your friends come for you, on Monday night.  But be patient and courageous.  Remember, I am your friend, and my life is pledged to your service.’

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Caesar's Column from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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