“Do you think,” I asked, after a pause, “that she will be safe until to-morrow night? Should I not go to her at once? Could I not see Rudolph and have her descend the rope-ladder, and I meet her and bring her here?”
“No,” he replied, it is now too late for that; it is midnight. You can place full faith in Rudolph; his penetration and foresight are extraordinary. He will not sleep until Estella is out of that house; and his busy brain will be full of schemes in the meantime. The best thing we can do now is to go to bed and prepare, by a good long sleep, for the excitements and dangers of to-morrow night. Do not fear for Estella. She has ceased to be a child. In an hour she has risen to the full majesty of her womanhood.”
PREPARATIONS FOR TO-NIGHT
The next morning I found Maximilian in conference with a stranger; a heavily-built, large-jawed, uncommunicative man. As I was about to withdraw my friend insisted that I should sit down.
“We have been making the necessary arrangements for next Monday night,” he said. “The probabilities are great that we may be followed when we leave the house, and traced. It will not do to go, as Rudolph suggested, to the residence of any friend, and pass through it to another carriage. The Oligarchy would visit a terrible vengeance on the head of the man who so helped us to escape. I have instructed this gentleman to secure us, through an agent, three empty houses in different parts of the city, and he has done so; they stand in the center of blocks, and have rear exits, opening upon other streets or alleys, at right angles with the streets on which the houses stand. Then in these back streets he is to have covered carriages with the fleetest horses he can obtain. Our pursuers, thinking we are safely housed, may return to report our whereabouts to their masters. Estella being missed the next day, the police will visit the house, but they will find no one there to punish; nothing but curtains over the windows.”
“But,” said I, “will they not follow the carriage that brought us there, and thus identify its owner and driver, and force them to tell who employed them?”
“Of course; I have thought of that, and provided for it. There are members of the Brotherhood who have been brought from other cities in disguise, and three of these will have another carriage, which, leaving the Prince’s grounds soon after we do, will pursue our pursuers. They will be well armed and equipped with hand-grenades of dynamite. If they perceive that the spies cannot be shaken off, or that they propose to follow any of our carriages to their stables, it will be their duty to swiftly overtake the pursuers, and, as they pass them, fling the explosives under the horses’ feet, disabling or killing them. It will take the police some time to obtain other horses, and before they can do so, all traces of us will be lost. If necessary, our friends will not hesitate to blow up the spies as well as the horses.”