In front of the house in the Avenue Louise, an hour before the beginning of the ceremony, there stood the landau that was to take the bride to the cathedral. Carriage after carriage passed, bearing the visitors from the new world, to the church. All were gone save the bride, her mother and her uncle. Down the carpeted steps and across to the door of the carriage came Dorothy and her uncle, followed by the genius of the hour. At the last moment Dorothy shuddered, turned sick and faint for an instant, as she thought of a ship far out at sea.
The footman swung up beside the driver, and they were off by quiet streets toward the church where waited all impatient, the vast assemblage and the triumphant prince. The silence inside the carriage was like that of the tomb. What were the thoughts of the occupants could not well be described.
“Are we not almost there, Dorothy?” nervously asked her mother, after many minutes. “Good heavens! We are late! O, what shall we do?” cried she in despair. In an instant the somber silence of the cab’s interior was lost. The girl forgot her prayer in the horror of the discovery that there was to be a hitch in the well-planned arrangements. Her mother frantically pulled aside the curtains and looked out, fondly expecting to see the lights of St. Gudule on the hill. Uncle Henry dropped his watch in his nervousness and was all confusion.
“We are not near the church, my—why, where are we? I have never seen these houses before. Henry, Henry, call to the driver! He has lost his way. My heavens, be quick!”
It was not necessary to hail the driver, for at that instant the carriage came to a sudden standstill. The door opened quickly, and before the eyes of the astonished occupants loomed the form of a masked man. In his hand he held a revolver.
WITH STRANGE COMPANIONS
“A word, a sound and I fire!” came the cold, hard voice of the man in the mask. He spoke in French. The trio sat petrified, speechless, breathless. So sudden, so stunning was the shock to their senses that they were as graven images for the moment. There was no impulse to scream, to resist; they had no power to da either.
“We will injure no one unless there is an outcry or a struggle. Monsieur, Madame, there is no occasion for alarm; no more is there a chance to escape,” said the mask quietly. Three pairs of eyes looked dumbly into the gleaming holes in the black mask that covered his face.
“The police?” finally whispered Mrs. Garrison, coming slowly out of her stupor.
“Silence, madame! You are not to speak. Faint if you like; we will not object to that and it may be a relief to you,” said the man, sarcastically gallant. “I must ask you to make room for me inside the carriage. We cannot remain here; the police may come this way—I mean those who are not engaged in guarding the grand cathedral to which you were going.” He was inside the carriage and sitting beside Dorothy when he concluded the last observation. With a shudder she drew away from him. “Pardon, Mademoiselle, I must implore you to endure my presence here for a time. We have quite a distance to travel together.”