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tory. It is even more humane for the leader to be untrammelled, when he is once in action, by considerations as to life, and so on, for he has planned his movements so as to obtain a certain end with the minimum of loss, and they must be carried out exactly if he is to win. The better an army, the more completely has it given up its will to its leader-that is to say, the more thoroughly is it drilled into a machine. Your men are more like Cossacks, or irregular levies, at any rate. It is easy to see that your army was drilled by Scythians, not by Germans."

"You will hurt General Sertchaieff's feelings extremely if you tell him that," said Caerleon, glancing back at the War Minister. "I believe we flatter ourselves that we are in a very high state of military efficiency."

Prince Otto Georg laughed silently. "Your corps d'élite amuses me," he said "your city guard, I mean, and that portion of it especially which you call the palace guard. The uniforms of these gentlemen are so magnificent, and their drill so lamentable-to a German eye, at least. They are beautiful to behold, but a much smaller number of good soldiers, or even of your Carlinos, would scatter them with the greatest ease. By the bye, is it true that you discovered a Scythian plot among the palace guard which led to the degradation of an


"Not exactly," said Caerleon, "although we seem to have been victimised very ingeniously by the officer you mean. He presented himself here as having thrown up a post in the Scythian army for the purpose of joining us, and we gave him a commission. About a month ago we were warned of a plot, which contemplated murdering me, among other laudable objects, and to our

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surprise, for we had not heard anything to connect him with it, this man disappeared promptly. We have never succeeded in catching him, and all we could do was to outlaw him and strike his name off the roll with ignominy."

"You leave too much responsibility in the hands of these guards of yours," said Prince Otto Georg, abruptly. "They will think themselves supreme in the State."

"We are doing our best to reduce their privileges gradually," said Caerleon. "They have behaved extremely well so far, and we have no excuse for heroic measures."

"Nevertheless, you would find such a measure your best policy, if I may venture to advise you," said the Prince. "I could almost envy you the task of bringing your army into shape. It would be little less exciting than actual war."

"Perhaps you would like the privilege?" suggested Caerleon. "But I forgot, you have declined it already. If you have no objection, I should very much like to hear why you refused the Thracian crown when it was offered you?"


"To tell the truth," replied the Prince, confidentially, "it because I thought that I should find Thracia dull. Drakovics imagined that I was afraid to accept the offer, but I was afraid I should be bored. You see, it was not likely that my likely that my election would excite the opposition yours did, for I had the Schwarzwald-Molzau influence behind me. But now, I must own, the position looks more hopeful. You have the army to reform, and Drakovics to conquer also. I see you are beginning to teach him that the State is not Drakovics, but he has not fully learnt the lesson yet. Yes, I think that, on the whole, the situation is distinctly interesting."

"I am glad you find it so," said

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Caerleon. "I suppose worthy of it."

"What! you are not thinking of abdicating?" asked the Prince, in dismay.

"Abdicating? No! Now that I'm here I'll stick to it. The kingdom has cost me enough already, but I'll stay on until I'm driven out, and try the temperance experiment properly, in spite of riots and rioters."

"You take things too seriously, my dear fellow," said the older man. "Look at me. I live quietly. I am not devoted to philanthropy, or any other form of excitement. I recognise that these are the days of management, not of despotism. If a wave of excitement should come, it might carry me with it, though not by my own choice. Similarly, I might find it necessary, in your position, to issue a decree, and enforce its fulfilment, but I should much prefer to flatter the people into originating it themselves. But you young men must always plunge into things so madly. You must have prompt obedience, unreasoning submission instantly. You have not learned to take things easily."

"I am afraid I have an unconquerable prejudice in favour of wearing out rather than rusting out," said Caerleon, with a quiet smile, "and I think your own history would be on my side, Prince, if I called it as a witness against you."

Prince Otto Georg smiled, much gratified by the compliment, and the atmosphere at the palace that evening was extremely agreeable. A State banquet had been held the night before in honour of the guest, but this evening, at Prince Otto's special request, General Sertchaieff had been invited informally to join the royal party, since he wished to have some conversation with him.


The War Minister was highly flattered by this mark of favour, and he exchanged reminiscences of the Franco-Prussian war at great length. with the the Prince, having gone through it attached, as a great favour, to the staff of one of the German princes. After such an opening, it was not remarkable that the conversation continued extremely warlike, and even became undesirably technical, to the unmilitary auditor, when it turned on modern. weapons and projectiles. This was in the smoking-room after dinner, and although Caerleon was quite content to let the two visitors discuss velocities and electric firingapparatus together, Cyril objected to being left out in the cold, and succeeded after a time in bringing the talk round to the comparatively simple theme of the use of the revolver in warfare. The two experts rose to the bait, and displayed as much enthusiasm with regard to the mechanism and makers of various types of revolvers as to those of the machine-gun, and Cyril, who flattered himself that he knew something of revolvers, was able to join. in the conversation.

"I wish I could show you what I mean," he said at last, after an animated discussion of various knotty points, "but we can't try pistol-practice in this room, for fear of breaking something." They were not in the sacred "den" which Caerleon had established in an outof-the-way upper room, but in the State smoking-room, so to speak, furnished in gorgeous Moorish style by the late king. "Caerleon has a revolver of the kind I was describing, and I believe it's the best."

"Let us send for it, if the Prince would like to see it," said Caerleon.

"I'll get it," said Cyril, "if you'll give me your keys. I'll get mine too. It's a newer make, but I don't think it's quite so good."


He returned in a few moments with both weapons, and explained their action to the guests, General Sertchaieff showing special interest, and examining the mechanism over and over again. Indeed it seemed almost as though he had looked at it too long for his peace of mind, for just before taking his leave, having arranged that the Prince should visit the arsenal in a day or two, and inspect the new machinery, which would then be unpacked, he might have been observed, although, as it happened, he was not, to slip Cyril's revolver into his own pocket, and take it away with him. Cyril did not happen to remember it when he went to bed, and the loss was therefore not discovered. Prince Otto Georg was escorted to the rooms he occupied in the front of the palace, Caerleon and Cyril betook themselves to theirs in the western wing, and peace settled down upon the building.

Cyril had been asleep some time when he was awakened by a low, hurried tapping at his door. Sitting up, he called to the intruder to come in, wondering sleepily why the sentry in the passage could not keep people from knocking him up at that time of night. To his astonishment Wright entered, closing the door carefully behind him, and striking a match as he advanced.

"How dare you come in like this, Wright?" demanded Cyril, angrily. "You must be drunk." Wright took no notice of the accusation, but lit a candle, and placed it in such a position that the mirror came between it and the window.

"No, my lord," arresting Cyril's hand as he was about to turn on the electric light, "don't show no more light, if you vally your life. I've been down at the stables, my lord, lookin' to 'is Majesty's

charger, as was 'urt to-day by the General's 'orse knockin' up agin 'im, and when I come back to the 'ouse, I see as things ain't right. Do your lordship know as there ain't a single sentry about? I come all the way up 'ere without meetin' one, nor a servant neither, right from the door I come in at."

"Good gracious!" cried Cyril, "there's something wrong. Can the guards have deserted in a lump?"

"Well, my lord," said Wright, "they may be all a-sleepin' in their beds, or they mayn't."

"We must go down and rouse them up," said Cyril, getting out of bed. "You go in by this door, Wright, and wake the King, while I get some clothes on."

Almost the first thought that occurred to Cyril's mind now was the recollection of his revolver, but when he felt for it in vain in its accustomed place, he remembered that he must have left it downstairs.

"I must go and look for it,” he said to himself, as he hurried into his clothes. "Caerleon has

his, at any rate. I noticed him carrying it."

But while the words were in his mouth, Caerleon came in hastily in his shirt-sleeves, with his revolver in his hand.

"Who has been tampering with this, Cyril?" he asked, sharply. "Some one has given it a wrench, and the trigger won't work."

"There's something fishy about this," said Cyril. "Does it strike you that our guns are at the other end of the house, and that we have no other weapons here?"

"If you ask me, my lords," said Wright, impressively, "I think it's foul play."

"Stuff!" said Caerleon. "Don't croak until you're told, Wright. If we haven't got weapons, we

must make some-not that I think there's any danger, but it's as well to be on the safe side."

"Of course," said Cyril, "the guards may have all struck work at once, and be enjoying sweet repose in their quarters, but the coincidence about the revolvers is suspicious."

"I have it!" cried Caerleon. "There are our dress-swords, which will be better than nothing. Put on a coat or something, Cyril, while I get them out, and don't stand there shivering."

He went back to his room, and returned with his own sword, while Wright unearthed Cyril's; and armed with these elaborate if not particularly dependable weapons, they prepared to leave the


"Haven't you got a weapon of any sort, Wright?" asked Caerleon of the groom.

"Buckle, your Majesty," returned Wright, unfastening the strap round his waist. "'E ain't bad at a pinch."

Thus unsatisfactorily accoutred, they took their way along the corridor. The electric light was burning brightly, but, as Wright had said, there was not a human being to be seen. It felt almost uncanny to be marching noiselessly over the thick carpets, in the blaze of light, without hearing a sound or uttering a word, and Cyril and Wright caught themselves glancing apprehensively at the open doors of dark rooms and at the heavy folds of portières. As for Caerleon, he was far too angry with the guards on account of what he conceived to be their dereliction of duty to have any thought of supernatural terrors, or even of the more palpable danger of a possible enemy lurking to intercept him. He intended to go straight to the guardroom and give the guards a thor

ough fright, which would teach them not to confide too trustfully in their sovereign's powers of sleep on another occasion. The head of the great staircase was reached without any alarm; but Wright, looking out into the courtyard from a window, pointed out to Cyril in a whisper that there were no lights visible there. They began to descend the stairs, and as they did so, there was a sound of footsteps in the hall beneath, and several men appeared from the direction of the entrance. Both parties caught sight of each other at the same moment, and halted, Caerleon, Cyril, and Wright half-way between the head of the stair and the landing in the middle, the others on the lowest step. They were General Sertchaieff, Louis O'Malachy, and six stalwart troopers of the palace guard. For a moment astonishment kept both parties silent, then Caerleon recovered himself.

"May I ask the meaning of this, General? What brings you to the palace at this hour, in the company of a man who is a traitor and a spy?"

"Milord Caerleon," returned the War Minister, "I am deputed by the National Convention to inform you that Thracia has returned to her former allegiance. The palace is in the hands of the patriotic supporters of the exiled King, and you might well expect no mercy to be shown you. Our gracious monarch, however, abhors bloodshed, even in the case of an adventurer whose usurpation has been maintained by means of force and treachery, and it has been decided, in accordance with his expressed wish, to spare your life on condition of your abdicating and leaving the country instantly."

"And you bring me this message?" said Caerleon. "I hope I

am to understand that you have been compelled to do so by force?" "Milord," said General Sertchaieff, "your remark touches my honour. I am acting of my own free will as the agent of my rightful sovereign, King Peter II."

"X.!" cried Cyril. "What fools we have been!" But the veins on Caerleon's forehead were swelling, and there was a dangerous glitter in his eye.

"Then you are a perjured traitor," was his answer to General Sertchaieff. "As for abdicating, I'll do nothing of the sort, and I'll leave the country just as soon as you can get me out of it, and not before."

"Come on, you bloomin' cowards!" yelled Wright, the joy of battle carrying him away. "We ain't afraid of yer! Eight men don't dare fight three. Yah!"

The long-drawn contempt infused into the last monosyllable seemed to stimulate the courage of the attacking party, and they made a rush up the steps and fell upon the

defenders, who were much embarrassed by the extent of their position, for the staircase was very wide. Cyril singled out General Sertchaieff as his opponent, and if any one had found time to watch them, a very pretty display of swordsmanship might have been observed. Louis O'Malachy had not mounted the stairs with the rest of his party, but had disappeared, apparently to summon further assistance, and the soldiers left their leader to tackle Cyril, and devoted their attention to Caerleon. found himself hard put to it to maintain his position against them, although Wright, using as a buckler a chair which he had caught up on the landing, rendered him yeoman service, dealing fierce and disabling blows with his belt on the heads and wrists of the opposing swordsmen. All too soon Caerleon's un


trustworthy blade broke off in his hand, and he was left to repel his assailants with the remaining half; but their shout of triumph distracted the attention of General Sertchaieff, who glanced aside for a moment, and in that moment Cyril ran him through the arm and forced him to drop his sword. Wright whisked up the sword immediately, and thrust it into Caerleon's hand before any of the enemy could prevent him, and the fight was now more equal, since General Sertchaieff retired disabled. He retreated no farther than the half-way landing, however, and taking out his revolver, began to fire and load as fast as he could with his left hand.

"If he's going to pot at us one by one, we're done for!" gasped Cyril.

"If he shoots no better than this, we're all right," returned Caerleon, breathlessly, and the fight went on in silence until a sudden exclamation from Cyril showed the King his brother's sword shivered at his feet. At the same moment a heavy blow from behind threw him forward among the enemy, and a howl of rage from Wright proclaimed that an attack in the rear had proved successful. When Caerleon recovered his scattered senses, he found himself held down by four men, while Cyril and Wright were in a like predicament. Under cover of the noise made by General Sertchaieff's pistol practice, Louis O'Malachy had led a party round and taken the position from behind.

"I think your lordship will now see the advisability of submitting without further resistance," said General Sertchaieff, smoothly, as he tied a handkerchief round his wounded arm. Caerleon made no answer, for he had caught Wright's eye, and seen his free hand stealing towards the ankle of one of the men who held him, and in another instant

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