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tory. It is even more humane for surprise, for we had not heard any. the leader to be untrammelled, when thing to connect him with it, this he is once in action, by considera- man disappeared promptly. We tions as to life, and so on, for he have never succeeded in catching has planned his movements so as him, and all we could do was to to obtain a certain end with the outlaw him and strike his name off minimum of loss, and they must be the roll with ignominy." carried out exactly if he is to win. “ You leave too much responsiThe better an army, the more com- bility in the hands of these guards pletely has it given up its will to of yours," said Prince Otto Georg, its leader—that is to say, the more abruptly. “They will think themthoroughly is it drilled into a ma- selves supreme in the State.” chine. Your men

more like

“We are doing our best to reduce Cossacks, or irregular levies, at any their privileges gradually," said rate. It is easy to see that your Caerleon. “They have behaved army was drilled by Scythians, not extremely well so far, and we have by Germans.”

no excuse for heroic measures." “ You will hurt General Sert- “Nevertheless, you would find chaieff's feelings extremely if you such a measure your best policy, if tell him that,” said Caerleon, glanc- I may venture to advise you,” said ing back at the War Minister. “I the Prince. “I could almost envy believe we flatter ourselves that we you the task of bringing your army are in a very high state of military into shape. It would be little less efficiency."

exciting than actual war." Prince Otto Georg laughed silent- “Perhaps you would like the ly. “Your corps d'élite amuses me," privilege?” suggested Caerleon. he said—“your city guard, I mean, “But I forgot, you have declined and that portion of it especially it already. If you have no objecwhich you call the palace guard. tion, I should very much like to The uniforms of these gentlemen hear why you refused the Thracian are so magnificent, and their drill crown when it was offered you ?” so lamentable—to a German eye, at "To tell the truth," replied the least. They are beautiful to behold, Prince, confidentially, "it but a much smaller number of good because I thought that I should soldiers, or even of your Carlinos, find Thracia dull. Drakovics imwould scatter them with the greatest agined that I was afraid to accept

By the bye, is it true that the offer, but I was afraid I should you discovered a Scythian plot be bored. You see, it was not among the palace guard which likely that my election would led to the degradation of an excite the opposition yours did, officer?

for I had the Schwarzwald-Molzau “Not exactly,” said Caerleon, influence behind me. “although we seem to have been I must own, the position looks victimised very ingeniously by the more hopeful. You have the army officer you mean. He presented to reform, and Drakovics to conquer himself here as having thrown up a also. I see you are beginning to post in the Scythian army for the teach him that the State is not purpose of joining us, and we gave Drakovics, but he has not fully him a commission. About a month learnt the lesson yet. Yes, I think ago we were warned of a plot, which that, on the whole, the situation is contemplated murdering me, among distinctly interesting." other laudable objects, and to our "I am glad you find it so," said

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Caerleon. “I suppose I am

The War Minister was highly flatworthy of it.”

tered by this mark of favour, and “What! you are not thinking of he exchanged reminiscences of the abdicating ?" asked the Prince, in Franco-Prussian war at great length dismay.

with the Prince, having gone “Abdicating? No! Now that through it attached, as a great I'm here I'll stick to it. The king- favour, to the staff of one of the dom has cost me enough already, German princes. After such an

, but I'll stay on until I'm driven opening, it was not remarkable that out, and try the temperance experi- the conversation continued extremement properly, in spite of riots and ly warlike, and even became underioters."

sirably technical, to the unmilitary “You take things too seriously, auditor, when it turned on modern my dear fellow," said the older weapons and projectiles. This was man. “Look at me. I live quietly. in the smoking-room after dinner, I am not devoted to philanthropy, and although Caerleon was quite or any other form of excitement. content to let the two visitors disI recognise that these are the days cuss velocities and electric firingof management, not of despotism. apparatus together, Cyril objected If a wave of excitement should to being left out in the cold, and come, it might carry me with it, succeeded after a time in bringing though not by my own choice. the talk round to the comparatively Similarly, I might find it necessary, simple theme of the use of the rein your position, to issue a decree, volver in warfare. The two experts and enforce its fulfilment, but I rose to the bait, and displayed as should much prefer to flatter the much enthusiasm with regard to people into originating it themselves. the mechanism and makers of variBut you young men must always ous types of revolvers as to those plunge into things so madly. You of the machine-gun, and Cyril, who must have prompt obedience, flattered himself that he knew someunreasoning submission instantly. thing of revolvers, was able to join You have not learned to take things in the conversation. easily.”

“I wish I could show you what “I am afraid I have an uncon- I mean,” he said at last, after an querable prejudice in favour of animated discussion of various wearing out rather than rusting knotty points, “but we can't try out,” said Caerleon, with a quiet pistol-practice in this room, for fear smile, “and I think your own his- of breaking something.". They were tory would be on my side, Prince, not in the sacred “den” which if I called it as a witness against Caerleon had established in an outyou.”

of-the-way upper room, but in the Prince Otto Georg smiled, much State smoking-room, so to speak, gratified by the compliment, and furnished in gorgeous Moorish style the atmosphere at the palace that by the late king. “ Caerleon has a evening was extremely agreeable. revolver of the kind I was describA State banquet had been held the ing, and I believe it's the best.” night before in honour of the guest, “Let us send for it, if the Prince but this evening, at Prince Otto's would like to see it,” said Caerleon. special request, General Sertchaieff “ I'll get it,” said Cyril, “if you'll had been invited informally to join give me your keys. I'll get mine the royal party, since he wished to too. It's a newer make, but I don't have some conversation with him. think it's quite so good.”


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He returned in a few moments charger, as was 'urt to-day by the with both weapons, and explained General's 'orse knockin' up agin their action to the guests, General 'im, and when I come back to the Sertchaieff showing special interest, 'ouse, I see as things ain't right.

I and examining the mechanism over Do your lordship know as there and over again. Indeed it seemed ain't a single sentry about ? I come almost as though he had looked at all the way up 'ere without meetin' it too long for his peace of mind, one, nor a servant neither, right for just before taking his leave, from the door I come in at.” having arranged that the Prince “Good gracious!” cried Cyril, should visit the arsenal in a day or “there's something wrong,

Can two, and inspect the new machinery, the guards have deserted in a which would then be unpacked, he lump?” might have been observed, although, "Well, my lord," said Wright, as it happened, he was not, to slip “they may be all a-sleepin' in their

a Cyril's revolver into his own pocket, beds, or they mayn't." and take it away with him. Cyril “We must go down and rouse did not happen to remember it when them up,” said Cyril, getting out he went to bed, and the loss was of bed. “You go in by this door, therefore not discovered. Prince Wright, and wake the King, while Otto Georg was escorted to the I get some clothes on.” rooms he occupied in the front of Almost the first thought that the palace, Caerleon and Cyril be- occurred to Cyril's mind now was took themselves to theirs in the the recollection of his revolver, but western wing, and peace settled when he felt for it in vain in its down upon the building.

accustomed place, he remembered Cyril had been asleep some time that he must have left it downwhen he was awakened by a low, stairs. hurried tapping at his door. Sitting “I must go and look for it," up, he called to the intruder to he said to himself, as he hurried come in, wondering sleepily why into his clothes. “ Caerleon has the sentry in the passage could his, at any rate. I noticed him not keep people from knocking him carrying it.” up at that time of night. To his But while the words were in his astonishment Wright entered, clos- mouth, Caerleon came in hastily in ing the door carefully behind him, bis shirt-sleeves, with his revolver and striking a match as he ad- in his hand. vanced.

“Who has been tampering with “How dare you come in like this, Cyril ?” he asked, sharply. this, Wright?" demanded Cyril, “Some one has given it a wrench, angrily. “ You must be drunk.” and the trigger won't work." Wright took no notice of the ac- “There's something fishy about cusation, but lit a candle, and this,” said Cyril. “Does it strike placed it in such a position that you that our guns are at the other the mirror came between it and end of the house, and that we the window.

have no other weapons here?” “No, my lord," arresting Cyril's “If you ask me, my lords,” said hand as he was about to turn on Wright, impressively, “I think it's the electric light, “don't show no foul play.” more light, if you vally your life. “ Stuff!” said Caerleon.

" Don't I've been down at the stables, croak until you're told, Wright. my lord, lookin' to 'is Majesty's If we haven't got weapons, we

o the

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must make some—not that I think ough fright, which would teach there's any danger, but it's as well them not to confide too trustfully to be on the safe side."

in their sovereign's powers of sleep “Of course, ” said Cyril,

on another occasion. The head of guards may have all struck work at the great staircase was reached once, and be enjoying sweet repose without any alarm; but Wright, in their quarters, but the coinci- looking out into the courtyard from dence about the revolvers is sus- a window, pointed out to Cyril in picious."

a whisper that there were no lights “I have it !” cried Caerleon, visible there. They began to de“There are our dress-swords, which scend the stairs, and as they did will be better than nothing. Put so, there was a sound of footsteps on a coat or something, Cyril, in the hall beneath, and several while I get them out, and don't men appeared from the direction stand there shivering."

of the entrance. Both parties He went back to his room, and caught sight of each other at the returned with his own sword, same moment, and halted, Caerleon, while Wright unearthed Cyrils; Cyril, and Wright half-way beand armed with these elaborate if tween the head of the stair and the not particularly dependable weap- landing in the middle, the others ons, they prepared to leave the on the lowest step. They were room.

General Sertchaieff, Louis O'Ma“Haven't you got a weapon of lachy, and six stalwart troopers of any sort, Wright?" asked Caerleon the palace guard. For a moment of the groom.

astonishment kept both parties “Buckle, your Majesty," re- silent, then Caerleon recovered turned Wright, unfastening the himself.

. strap round his waist. "'E ain't “May I ask the meaning of this, bad at a pinch."

General ? What brings you to Thus unsatisfactorily accoutred, the palace at this hour, in the they took their way along the cor- company of a man who is a traitor ridor. The electric light was burn- . and a spy ing brightly, but, as Wright had “ Milord Caerleon," returned said, there was not a human being the War Minister, “I am deputed to be seen.

It felt almost uncanny by the National Convention to into be marching noiselessly over the form you that Thracia has returned thick carpets, in the blaze of light, to her former allegiance. The palwithout hearing a sound or utter- ace is in the hands of the patriotic ing a word, and Cyril and Wright supporters of the exiled King, and caught themselves glancing appre- you might well expect no mercy to hensively at the open doors of be shown you. Our gracious mondark rooms and at the heavy folds arch, however, abhors bloodshed, of portières. As for Caerleon, he even in the case of an adventurer was far too angry with the guards whose usurpation has been mainon account of what he conceived tained by means of force and to be their dereliction of duty to treachery, and it has been decided, have any thought of supernatural in accordance with his expressed terrors, or even of the more pal- wish, to spare your life on pable danger of a possible enemy dition of your abdicating and leavlurking to intercept him. He in- ing the country instantly." tended to go straight to the guard- “And you bring me this mesroom and give the guards a thor- sage ?” said Caerleon. “I hope I

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am to understand that you have trustworthy blade broke off in his been compelled to do so by force ?” hand, and he was left to repel his

“Milord,” said General Sert- assailants with the remaining half; chaieff, “your remark touches my but their shout of triumph distracted honour. I am acting of my own the attention of General Sertchaieff, free will as the agent of my rightful who glanced aside for a moment, sovereign, King Peter II."

and in that moment Cyril ran him “X. !” cried Cyril.

through the arm and forced him to fools we have been!” But the drop his sword. Wright whisked veins on Caerleon's forehead were up the sword immediately, and swelling, and there was a dangerous thrust it into Caerleon's hand before glitter in his eye.

any of the enemy could prevent him, “Then you are a perjured traitor," and the fight was now more equal, was his answer to General Sert- since General Sertchaieff retired dischaiefr. “As for abdicating, I'll do abled. He retreated no farther nothing of the sort, and I'll leave than the half-way landing, however, the country just as soon as you can and taking out his revolver, began get me out of it, and not before.” to fire and load as fast as he could

Come on, you bloomin'cowards!" with his left hand. yelled Wright, the joy of battle “If he's going to pot at us one carrying him away. “We ain't by one, we're done for !” gasped afraid of yer! Eight men don't Cyril. dare fight three. Yah!”

“If he shoots no better than this, The long-drawn contempt infused we're all right," returned Caerleon, into the last monosyllable seemed breathlessly, and the fight went on to stimulate the courage of the in silence until a sudden exclamaattacking party, and they made a tion from Cyril showed the King rush up the steps and fell upon the his brother's sword shivered at his defenders, who were much embar- feet. At the same moment a heavy rassed by the extent of their posi- blow from behind threw him fortion, for the staircase was very ward among the enemy, and a howl wide. Cyril singled out General of rage from Wright proclaimed that Sertchaieff as his opponent, and if an attack in the rear had proved any one had found time to watch successful. When Caerleon rethem, a very pretty display of covered his scattered senses, he swordsmanship might have been found himself held down by four observed. Louis O'Malachy had men, while Cyril and Wright were not mounted the stairs with the rest in a like predicament. Under cover of his party, but had disappeared, of the noise made by General Sertapparently to summon further assist- chaieff's pistol practice, Louis O'Malance, and the soldiers left their achy had led a party round and leader to tackle Cyril, and devoted taken the position from behind. their attention to Caerleon. He “I think your lordship will now found himself hard put to it to see the advisability of submitting maintain his position against them, without further resistance,” said although Wright, using as a buckler General Sertchaieff, smoothly, as he a chair which he had caught up on tied a handkerchief round his the landing, rendered him yeoman wounded arm. Caerleon made no service, dealing fierce and disabling answer, for he had caught Wright's blows with his belt on the heads eye, and seen his free hand stealing and wrists of the opposing swords- towards the ankle of one of the men

All too soon Caerleon's un- who held him, and in another instant



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