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About The Sunday Oregonian. (Portland, Ore.) 1881-current | View Entire Issue (Nov. 10, 1907)
THE SUXDAY OREGOXIAX, PORTLAND, NOVEMBER 10, 1907.
IR WJCNT to Meran. The place was
practically decided for us by
Amelia's French maid, who really
acts on such occasions as our guide and
She Is such a clever girl. Is Amelia's
French maid. Whenever we are going
inywhere Amelia generally asks (and ac
cepts) her advice as to choice of hotels
and furnished rooms. Cesarine has been
all over the continent In her time; and,
being Alsatian by birth, she, of course,
peaks German as well as she ('speaks
F rench, while her long residence with
Amelia has made her at last almost
equally at home In our native England.
Bhe Is a treasure, that girl; so neat and
dexterous, and not above dabbling In any
thing on earth she may be asked to turn
her hand to. She walks the world with a
little case in one hand and an etna In the
other. She can cook an omelette on -Occasion
or drive a Norwegian cariole; she
ran sew and knit, and make dresses, and
cure a cold, and do anything else on
earth you ask her. Her salads are the
most savory I ever tasted; while as for
'her coffee (which she prepares for us in
the train on long Journeys), there isn't
a, chef do rulsine at a Western club to be
named In the same day with her. -
So when Amelia said. In her imperious
way, "Cesarine, we want to go to the
Tyrol now at once in mid-October;
where do you advise us to put up?"
TesHiine answered, like a shot, "The
Krxherzog Johanu, of course, at Meran,
for the Autumn."
"Is he an Archduke?" Amelia
' esked. a little staggered at such apparent
familiarity with imperial personages.
"Ma fol! no, mo'dame. He is an hotel
as you would say In England, the Vic
toria, or the Prince of Wales' the most
comfortable hotel In all South Tyrol; and
at this time of yeur, naturally, it begins
already to be cold at Innsbruck.
So to Meran we went; and a prettier
of more picturesque place, I confess, I
riave seldom set eyes on. A rushing
torrent; high hills arid mountain peaks;
terraced vineyard slopes: old walls and
towers; quaint, arcaded streets; a craggy
waterfall; a promenade after the fashion
of a German spa: and when you lift your
eyes from the ground, rugged summits of
Dolomites. It was a combination such as
I had never before beheld; a Rhine town
plumped down among green Alpine
heights, and threaded by the cool colon
nades of Italy.
I approved Cesarine's choice; and I was
particularly glad she had pronounced for
a hotel, where all is plain sailing. In
stead of advising a furnished villa, the
arrangements for which would naturally
have fallen in large par upon the shoul
ders of the wretched secretary. As In
tny case I have to do three hours' work
a daj-. I feel that such additions to my
normal burden may well be spared me. I
tipped Cesarine half a sovereign, in fact,
for her Judicious choice. Cesarine glanced
at It on her palm In her mysterious,
curious, half-smiling way, and pocketed
it at once with a "Mere!, monseur!" that
had a touch of contempt In It. I always
fancy Cesarine has large Ideas of her own
jn the subject of tipping, and thinks
very small beer of the -modest sums a
mere secretary can alone afford to bestow
The great peculiarity of Meran is the
number of schlosses (1 believe my plural
Is strictly irregular, but very convenient
to English ears) which you can see In
every direction from Its outskirts. A
statistical eye. it Is supposed, can count
no fewer than 40 of these picturesque,
rumshackled old castles from a point on
the Kuechelberg. For myself. I hate
statistics (except as an element In finan
cial prospectuses), and I really don't
know how many ruinous piles Isabel and
Amelia counted under Cesarine's guid
ance; but I remember that most of them
were quaint and beautiful, and that their
variety of architecture seemed positively
bewildering. One would be square, with
funny little turrets stuck out at 'each
angle: while another would rejoice In a
hie. round keep, and spread on either
side long. Ivy-clad halls and delightful
bastions. Charles was Immensely taken
with them. He loves the picturesque, and
bas a poet hidden In that financial bouI
of his. (Very effectually hidden though,
I am ready to grant you.) From the
moment he came he felt at once he would
like to possess a castle of his own among
these romantic mountains. "Seldon!" he
'exclaimed, contemptuously. "They call
Seldon a castle! But you and I know
very w-sll. and it was built In 1SW0 with
sham antique names, for Maopherson of
Beldon, at market prices, by Cubltt &
Co., worshipful contractors.1 of London.
Macpherson charged me for that sham
antiquity a preposterous price, at which
one ought to procure a real ancestral
mansion. Now. these castles are real.
They are hoary with antiquity. Schloss
Tyrol is Romanesque 10th or 11th cen
tury." I had been reading It up In Baedeker.)
That's the sort of place for me I 10th or
11th century. I could live here, remote
from stocks and shares, for ever: and In
these sequestered glens, recollect. Sey,
my boy, where are no Colonel Clays.
As a matter of fact, he could have lived
here six weeks, and then tired for Park
Place. Monte Carlo. Brighton.
As for Amelia, strange to say, she was
actually taken with this new . fad of
Charles' as a rule she hates everywhere
on earth save London, except during" the
time when no respectable person can be
seen In town, and when modest blinds
hade the scandalized face of Mayfalr
and Belgravla. She bores herself to
death even at Seldon Castle. Rosshlre,
and yawns all day long In Paris, or Vien
na. She Is a confirmed cockney. Tet.
for some occult reason, my amiable s!s-
tr-ln-law fell In love witn soutn iyrui.
She wanted to vegetate In that lush
vegetation, where grapes were being
picked: pumpkins growing over the walls;
Virginia creeper draped over quaint gray
schlosses with crimson old oaks, and
everything was as beautiful as a dream
of Burne-Jones.' (I know I am quite
right In mentioning Burne-Jones. especial
ly In connection with Romanesque archi
tecture, because t heard him highly
praised on that very ground by our friend
and enemy. Dr. Edward Polperro.) So
perhaps it was excusable that Amelia
hould fall in love with It all, under the
circumstances: besides, she Is largely in
fluenced by what Cesarine Rays, and
Cesarine declares there is no climate in
Europe like Meran In Winter. I do not
agree with her. The sun sets behind the
hills at 2 o'clock in the afternoon and a
nasty warm wind blows moist over the
snow In January and February.
However, Amelia set Cesarine to in
quire of the people at the hotel about the
market price of tumble down ruins, and
the number of such eligible family mau
soleums Just then for sale in the immedi
ate neighborhood. Cesarine returned
-Un a full, true and particular list,
adorned with flowers of rhetoric which
would have delighted the soul of good
old John Robins. They were all pic
turesque, all Romanesque, all richly lvy
rlad all commodious, all historical, and
the property of high well born grafs and
verv honorable frelherrs. Most of them
had' been the scene of celebrated tourna
ments: several of them had witnessed
the gorgeous marriages of holy Roman
Emperors, and every one of them was
provided with some choice and selected
first-class murders. Ghosts could be ar
ranged for or not. as desired, and ar
morial bearings could be thrown in with
the most for a moderate extra remunera
tion. The two we liked be-st of all these
tempting piles were Schloss Planta and
Schloss Lebensteln. We drove past both,
and even I myself, I confess, was dls-
I ; ; ; ;
Being an Incident in the Life of a Master 'Rogue
.. , 1 ..- r-y , -,7 " "" ' . ;
No IV. "The Episode of the Tyrolean Castle" By Grant Allen
tlnctly taken with' them. (Besides, when
a big purchase like this Is on the stocks,
a poor beggar of a secretary has always
a chance of exerting his influence and
earning for himself some modest com
mission.) Schloss Planta was the most
striking externally, I should say, with
Its Rhinelike towers, and Its great
gnarled stems, that looked as if they an
tedated the house of Hapsburg; but Le
bensteln was said to be better preserved
within, and more fitted In every way for
modern occupation. Its staircase has
been photographed by 7000 amateurs.
We got tickets to view. The Jnvalu
able Cesarine procured them for us.
Armed with these, we drove off one
fine afternoon, meaning to go to Planta.
by Cesarine's recommendation. Half
way there, however, we changed our
minds, as It was such a lovely day. and
went on up the long, slow hill to Leben
steln. I must say the drive through the
grounds was simply charming. The castle
stands perched (say rather poised, like
St. Michael, the archangel. In Italian pic
tures) on a solitary stack or crag of
rock, looking down on every side upon its
own rich vineyards. Chestnuts line the
glens; the valley of the Btsch spreads be
low like a picture. The vineyards alone
make a splendid estate, by the way: they
produce a delicious red wine, which Is
exported to Bordeaux, and there bottled
and sold as a vintage claret under the
name of Chateau Monnivet. Charles rev
eled in the idea of growing his own
"Here we could sit," he cried to Ame
lia, "In the most literal sense, under our
own vine and fig tree. Delicious retire
ment! For my part, I'm sick and tired
of the hubbub of Threadneedle street."
. We knocked at the door for there was
really no bell, but a ponderous, old-fashioned,
wrought iron knocker. So delt
ciously medieval! The late Graf von
Lebensteln had recently died, we knew;
and his son, the present Count, a young
man of means, having Inherited from his
mother's family a still more ancient and
splendid schloss in the Salzburg district,
desired to sell this outlying estate In or
der to afford himself a yacht, after the
manner, that Is now becoming fashionable
with the noblemen and gentlemen in Ger
many and Austria.
The door was opened for us by a high
well born menial, attired in a very an
cient and honorable livery. Nice antique
hall; suits of ancestral armor, trophies
of Tyrolese hunters, coats of arms of
ancient Counts the very thing to take
Amelia's aristocratic and romantic fancy.
The whole to be sold exactly as it stood;
ancestors to be included at a valuation.
We went through the reception-rooms.
They were lofty, charming, and with
glorious views, all the more glorious for
being framed by those graceful Roman
esque windows, with their slender pillars
and quaint round-topped arches. Sir
Charles had made his mind up. "I must
and will have It!" he cried. "This is the
place for me. Seldon! Pah. Seldon is a
Could we see the high well born Count?
The lix-eried servant (somewhat haughti
ly) would Inquire of bis serenity. Sir
Charles sent up his card, and-also Lady
Vandrtft's. These foreigners know title
spells money In England.
He was right In his surmise. Two
minutes later the Count entered with our
cards In his hands. A good looking
young man, with the characteristic Tyro
lese long black mustache, dressed in a
gentlemanly variant on the costume of
the country. His air was a Jager'B; the
usual blackcock's plume stuck jauntily in
the side of the conical hat (which he held
in his hand), after the universal Austrian
He waved us to seats. We sat down.
He spoke to us in French, his English, he
remarked, with a pleasant smile, being a
negligible quantity. We might speak it.
he went on; he could understand pretty
well: but he preferred to answer, if we
would allow him. in French or German.
"Frneh." Charles replied, and the ne
gotiation continued thenceforth In that
language. -It is the only one, save Eng
lish and his ancestral Dutch, with which
my brother-in-law possesses even a nod
We praised the beautiful scene. The
Count's face lighted up with patriotic
pride. Yes; it was beautiful, his own
green Tyrol. He was proud of It and at
tached to It. But he could endure to sell
this place." the home of his fathers, be
cause he had a finer in the Salzkam
mergut, and a pied-a-terre near Inns
bruck. For Tyrol lacked Just one Joy
the sea. He was a passionate yachts
man. For that he had resolved to sell
this estate: after all. three country
houses, a ship, and a mansion in Vienna
aro more than one man can comfortably
"Exactly," Charles answered. "If I
can come to terms with you about this
charming estate I shall sell my own cas
tle in the Scotch highlands." And ho
tried to look like a proud Scotch chief
who harangues his clansmen.
Then they got to business. The Count
was a delightful man to do business
with. His manners were perfect. While
we were talking to him. a surly person,
a steward or bailiff, or something of the
sort, came into the room unexpectedly
Land addressed him In German, which
none of us understood. We were im
pressed by the singular urbanity and
benignity of the nobleman's demeanor
toward this sullen dependent. He evi
dently explained to the fellow what sort
of people we were, and remonstrated
with him in a very gentle way for inter
rupting us. The . steward understood,
and clearly regretted his insolent air; for
after a few sentences he went out, and
as he did so he bowed and made pro
testations of polite regard in his own
language. The Count turned to us and
smiled. "Our people," he said, "are like
your own Scotch peasants kind-hearted,
picturesque, free, musical.-, poetic, but
wanting, alas. In polish to strangers."
He was certainly an exception, if he
described them -aright: for he made us
feel at home , from the moment we en
tered. He named his price in frank terms. His
lawyers at Meran' held the needful doc
uments and would arrange the negotia
tions in detail I with us. It was a stiff
sum, I must Bay an extremely stiff sum
but no doubt he was charging us a
fancy price for a fancy os.stle. "He will
come down in time," Charles said. 'The
sum first named in all these transactions
Is invariably a feeler. They know I'm a
millionaire, and people always Imagine
millionaires are positively mde of
I may add that people always imagine
It must be easier to squeeze money out
of millionaires than out of other people
which is the reverse of the truth, or
how could they ever have amassed their
millions? Instead of oozing gold as a tree
oozes gum. they mop it up like blotting
paper, and seldom give It out again.
We drove back from this first Inter
view none the less very well satisfied.
The price was too high; but prelimi
naries, were arranged, and for the rest,
the Count desired us to discuss all de
tails with his lawyers In the chief street.
Vnter den Lauben. We Inquired about
these lawyers and found they were most
respectable and respected men;' they had
done the family business on either side
for sever, generations.
.They showed us plans and title deeds.
Everything quite en regie. Till we came
to the price there was no hitch of any
As to the price, however, the lawyers
were obdurate. They stuck out for the
Count's first sum to the uttermost florin.
It was a very big estimate. We talked
and shilly-shallied till Sir Charles grew
angry. He lost his temper at last.
"They know I'm a millionaire. Sey."
he said, "and they're playing the old
game of trying to diddle me. But I won't
be diddled. Except Colonel Clay, no man
" ' " 1
- ' '
has ever yet succeeded in bleeding me.
And snarl I let myself be bled as if I
were a chamois among these innocent
mountains? Perish the thought!" Then
he reflected a little in silence. "Sey," he
muBed on, at last, "the question is. are
they Innocent? Do you know. I begin to
believe there is no such thing left as
pristine Innocence anywhere. This Tyro
lese Count knows the value of a pound
as distinctly as if he hung out in Chapel
Court or Klmberlcy."
Things dragged on in this way, incon
clusively, for a week or two. We bid
down; the lawyers stuck to it. Sir
Charles grew half sick of the whole silly
business. For my own part, I felt sure
if the high, well-brorn Count didn't
quicken his pace my respected relative
would shortly have had enough of the
Tyrol altogether.- and be proof against
the most lovely crag-crowning castles.
Butthe Count didn't see It. He came to
call on us at our hotel a rare honor for
a stranger with these haughty and ex
clusive Tyrolese nobles and even en
tered unnanounced in the most friendly
manner. But when It came to pounds,
shillings and pence he was absolute ada
mant. Not one kreutzer would he abate
from his original proposal.
"You misunderstand," he said, with
pride; "we Tyrolese gentlemen are not
shopkeepers or merchants. W7e do not
higgle.' If we say a thing, we stick to
it. Were you an Austrian, I should
feel insulted by your ill-advised at
tempt to beat dov.-n my price. But as
you belong to a great commercial Na
He broke" off with a snort and
shrugged his shoulders compassion
We saw film several times driving in
and out of the schloss, and every time
he waved his hand at us gracefully.
But when we tried to bargain, it was
always the same thing; he retired be
hind the shelter of his Tyrolese no
bility. We might take it or leave It.
'Twas still Schloss Lebensteln.
The lawyers were as bad. We tried
all we knew, and got no "forrader."
At last Charles gave up the attempt
in disgust. He was tiring, as I ex-
pected. "It's the prettiest place I ever
saw in my life," he said; "but. hang it
all, Sey, I won't be Imposed upon."
So he made up his mind, It being
now December, to return to London.
We met the Count next day. and
stopped his carriage and told him so.
Charles thought this would have the
Immediate effect of bringing the man
to reason. But he only lifted his hat,
with the black cock's feather, and
smiled a bland smile. The Archduke
Karl is inquiring about It." he an
swered, and drove on without parley.
Charles used some strong; worde.
which I will not transcribe (I am a
family man), and returned to England.
For the next two months we heard
little from Amelia save her regret that
the Count wouldn't sell us Schloss Le
bensteln. Its pinnacles had fairly
pierced her heart. Strange to say, she
was absolutely infatuated about the
cnstle She rather wanted the place
while she was there, and thought she
could get it; now she thought she
couldn't, her soul (If she. has one) was
wildly set upon it. Moreover, Cesarine
further infliimed her desire by gently
hinting a fact which she picked up at
the courier's table d'hote at the hotel
that the Count had been far from anx
ious to sell his ancestral and historical
estate to a South African diamond
king. He thought the honor of the
family demanded, at least, V that he
should secure a wealthy buyer of good
One morning in February, however,
Amelia returned from the Row all
smiles and tremors. (She bad been or
ders! horse exercise to-correct the in
creasing excessiveness of her figure.)
"Who do you think I saw riding In
the park?" she Inquired. "Why, the
Count of Lebenstein."
"No!" Charles exclaimed, incredulous.
"Yes," Amelia answered.'
"M-ust be mistaken," Charles cried.
Rut Amelia stuck to it- More than
that, she sent out emissaries to Inquire
diligently from the London lawyers,
whose name had been mentioned to us
by tne ancestral firm In TTnter den
Lauben as their Engrisn agents, as to
the whereabouts of our friend; and her
emissaries learned In effect that the
Count was in town, and stopping at
. "I see through it," Charles exclaimed.
"He finds he's made a mistake and now
he's come over here to reopen negotia
tions." I was all for waiting prudently till
the Count made the first move. "Don't
let him see your eagerness," I said; but
Amelia's ardor could not now be re
strained. She insisted that Charles
should call on the Graf as a mere re
Cuin or Ills politeness In the Tyrol..
He ' was as charming as ever. He
talked to us with delight about the
quaintness - of London. He would -he
ravished to dine next evening with Sir
Charles. He desired his respectful salu
tlons meanwhile to Miladl Vandrift and
He dined with us. almost en famille.
Amelle's cook did wonders. In the billiard-room,
about midnight, Charles re
opened the subject. The Count was really
touched. It pleased him that still, amid
the distractions of the city of five million
souls, we should remember with affection
his beloved Lebensteln. .
"Come to my lawyers." he said, "to-
morrow, and I will talk it over with you."
We went a most respectable firm in
Southampton row;' old family solicitors.
They had done business for years for the
late Count, who had inherited from his
grandmother estates irt Ireland, and they
were glad to be honored with the confi
dence of his successor. Glad, too, to
make the acquaintance of a prince of
finance like Sir Charles Vandrift. Eager
(rubbing their hands) to arrange matters
satisfactorily all round for everybody.
(Two capital families with which to be
mixed up, you see.) , -
Sir Charles named a price, and referred
them to his solicitors. The Count named
a higher, but still a little come-down, and
left the matter to be settled between the
lawyers. He was a soldier and a gentle
man, he said, with a Tyrolese toss of his
high-born head; he would abandon details
to men of business.
As I was really desirous to oblige Ame
lia, I met the Count accidentally next day
on the steps . Morley's. (Accidentally,
that Is to say. so far as he was con
cerned, though I had been hanging about
in Trafalgar Square for half an hour to
see him.) I explained in guarded terms
that I had a great deal of influence in my
way with Sir Charles, and that a word
from me . I broke off. He stared at
"Commission?" he inquired, at last, with
a queer little smile.
"Well, not exactly commission," I an
swered, wincing. "Still, a friendly word;
you know. One good turn deserves an
other." He looked at me from head to foot vith
a curious scrutiny. For one moment I
feared the Tyrolese nobleman in him was
going to raise Its foot and take active
measures. For the next. I saw that Sir
Charles was right, after all. and that
pristine Innocence has removed from this
planet to other quarters.
He named his lowest price.
"M. Ventvorth." he said, impressively,
"I am a Tyrolese seigneur; I do not dab
ble, myself. In commissions and percent
ages. But If your influence with Sir
Charles we understand each other, do
we not? as between gentlemen a llttie
friendly present no money, of course
but the equivalent of say 5 per cent in
jewelry. or whatever sum above his bid
today you induce-him to offer eh? c' est
"Ten per cent is more usual," I mur
mured. He was the Austrian hussar again.
"Five, monsieur or nothing."
I ' bowed and withdrew. "Well, five,
then," I answered, "just to oblige your
A secretary, after-all. can do a great
deal. When it came to the scratch. I had
but little difficulty in persuading Sir
Charles, with Amelia's aid, backed up on
either side by Isabel, and Cesarine, to
accede to the Count's most reasonable
proposal. The Southampton row people
had possession of certain facts as to the.
value of the wines In the Bordeaux mar
ket, which clinched the matter. In a week
or two all was settled: Charles and I met
the Count by appointment In Southamp
ton row. and saw him sign, seal and de
liver the title deeds of Schloss Leben
stein. My brother-in-law paid the pur
chase money Into the Count's own hands,
by check, crossed on a first-class London
firm, where the Count kept an accoun' to
his high, well-born order. Then he went
away with the proud knowledge that he
was owner of Schloss Lebenstein. And
what to me was more Important still, I
received next morning by post a check
for the 5 per cent, unfortunately drawn,
by some misapprehension, to my order
on the selfsame bankers, and with the
Count's signature. He explained In the
accompanying note that, the matter be
ing now quite satisfactorily concluded, he
saw no reason of delicacy why the
amount he had promised should not be
paid to me forthwith direct in money.
I cashed the check at once, and said
nothing about the affair, not even to
Isabel. My experience Is that women are
not to be trusted with Intricate matters
of commission and brokerage.
Though it was now late In March, and
the House was sitting. Sir Charles in
sisted that we must all run over at once
to take possession of our magnificent Ty
rolese castle. Amelia was almost equally
burning with eagerness. She gave her
self the airs of a Countess already. We
took the Orient express as far as Mu
nich: then the Brenner to Meran. and put
up for the night at the "Elrzherzog Jo
hann." Though we had telegraphed our
arrival, and expected some fuss, there
was no demonstration. Next morning we
drove out in state to the schloss, to en
ter Into enjoyment of our vines and fig
We were met at the door by the surly
steward. "I shall dismiss that - man,"
Charles muttered, as Lord of Lebensteln.
"He's too sour looking for my taste!
Never saw such a brute. Not a smile of
welcome!" ' -
He mounted the steps. The surly man
stepped forward and murmured a few
morose words in German. Charles
brushed him aside and strode on. Then
there followed a curious scene of mutual
misunderstanding. The surly man called
lustily for 'his servants to eject us. It
was some time before we began to catch
the truth. The surly man was tjhe real
Graf von Lebensteln.
And the Count with the mustache? It
dawned upon us now. Colonel Clay again!
more audacious than ever!
Bit by bit It all came out. He had rid
den behind us the first day we viewed th
place, and, giving himself out to the ser
vants as one of our party, had joined us
in the reception-room. We asked the real
Count why he had spoken to the in
truder. The Count explained In French
that the man with the mustache had in
troduced my brother-in-law as the great
South African millionaire, while he de
scribed himself as our courier and in
terpreter. As such he had had frequent
Interviews with the real Graf and his
(lawyers In Meran. and had driven almost
dally across to the castle. The owner
of the estate had named one price frfcm
the first, and had stuck to It manfully.
He stuck to It still; and if Sir Charles
chose to buy Schloss Lebenstein over
again he was welcome to have It. How
the London lawyers had ,been duped the
Count had not really the slightest Idea.
He regretted the Incident, and 'coldly)
wished us a very good morning.
There was nothing for It but to return
as best we might to the "Erzherzog
Johann," crestfallen, and telegrapn par
ticulars to the police in London.
Charles and I ran across posthaste to
England to track down the Italian. At
Southampton Row we found the legal
firm by no means penitent: on the con
trary, they were Indignant at the way we
had deceived them. An Imposter had
written to them on lebensteln paper from
Meran to say that he was coming to
London to negotiate the sale of the
schloss and surrounding property with the
famous millionaire. Sir Charles Vandrift,
and Sir Charles had demonstratively rec
ognized him at sight as the real Count
von Lebenstein. The firm had never
seen the present Graf at all, and had
swallowed the imposter whole, so to
speak, on the strength of Sir Charles'
obvious recognition. He had brought over
as documents some excellent forgeries
facslmilles othe originals which, as our
courier and interpreter, he had every op
portunity of examining and inspecting at
the Meran lawyers'. It was a deeply laid
plot, and It had succeeded to a marvel.
Yet. all of It depended upon the one small
fact that we had accepted the man with
the long mustache in the halt of the
schloss as the Count von Lebenstein on
his own representation.
He held our cards In his hands when
he came in; and the servant had not
given them to him. but to the genuine.
Count. That was the one unsolved mys
tery In the whole adventure. '
By the evening's post two letters ar
rived for us at Sir Charles' house one
for myself and one, for my employer. .
Sir Charles' ran thus:
"High Well Born Incompetence I only
just pulled through! A very small slip
nearly lost me everything. I believed
you were going to Schloss Planta that uay.
not to Schloss Lebensteln. Ydu changed
your mind -en route. That might have
spoiled all. Happily I perceived It, rode
up by the short cut, and arrived some
what hurriedly and hotly at the gate be
fore you. Then I Introduced myself. I
had one more bad moment when the rival
claimant to my name and title Intruded
Into the room. But fortune favors the
brave; your utter Ignorance of German
saved me. The rest was pap. It went
by itself almost.
"Allow me, now, as some small return
for your various welcome checks, to offer
you a useful and valuable present a Ger
man dictionary, grammar, and phrase
"I kiss your hand. No longer,
The other note was to me. It was as
"Dear Good Mr. Ventvorth Ha. ha, ha!
Just a W misplaced sufficed to take you
In, then! And I risked the TH, though
anybody with a head on his shoulders
would surely have known our TH Is by
far more difficult than our W for for
eigners! However, all's well that ends
well; and now I've got you. The Lord
has delivered you Into my hands, dear
friend on your own Initiative. I hold
my check. Indorsed toy you, ana cashed
at my banker's, as a hostage, so to speak,
for your future good behavior. If ever
you recognize me, and betray me to that
solemn old ass, your employer, remem
ber, I expose it, and you with it to him.
So now we understand each other. I had
not thought of this little dodge; It was
you who suggested It. However, 1 jumped
at it. Was It not well worth my while
paying you that slight commission in re
turn for a guarantee of your future
silence? Your mouth Is now closed. And
cheap, too, at the price.
"Yours, dear comrade In the great con
fraternity of rogues,
"CUTHBERT CLAY. Colonel."
Charles laid hiB note down and grizzled.
"What's yours. Sey?" he asked.
"From a lady," I answered.
He gazed at me suspiciously. "Oh, T
thought it was the same hand," he said.
His eye looked through me.
"No," I answered. "Mrs. Mortimer's."
But I confess I trembled.
He paused & moment. "You made all
Inquiries at this fellow's bank?" he went
on, after a deep sigh.
"Oh, yes," I put In quickly. (I had
taken good care about that, you may be
sure, lest he should spot the commission.)
"They say the self-styled Count von Le
benstein was Introduced to them by the
Southampton row folks and drew, as
usual, on the Lebenstein account. So
they were quite unsuspicious. A rascal
who goes about the world on that scale,
you know, and arrives with such cre
dentials as theirs and yours, naturally
imposes on anybody. The bank didn't
even require to have him formally iden
tified. The firm was enough. He came
to pay money In, not to draw it out; and
he withdrew his balance Just two days
later, saying he was in a hurry to get
back to Vienna."
Would he ask for items? I confess I
felt it was an awkward moment. Charles.,
however, was too full of regrets to
bother about the account. He leaned
back In his easy .chair, stuck his .hands
In his pockets, held his legs straight out
on the fender before him and looked the
very picture of hopeless despondency.
"Sey," he began, after a minute or
two. poking the fire, reflectively, "what
a genius that man has! 'Pon my soul, I
admire him! I sometimes wish " He
broke off and hesitated.
"Yes, Charles?" I answered.
"I sometimes wish we had got him on
the board of the Cloetedorp Goleor.das.
Magnificent combinations he would make
In. the city!"
I rose from my seat and stared solemn
ly at my misguided brother-in-law.
"Charles." I said, "you are beside
yourself. . Too much Colonel Clay has
told upon your clear and splendid Intel
lect. There are certain remarks which,
however true they may be, no self-respecting
financier should permit himself
to make, even In the privacy of his own
room, to his most Intimate friend and
"You are right. Sey," he sobbed out.
"Quite right. Forgive this outburst. At
moments of emotion the truth will some
times out, in spite of everything."
I respected his feebleness. I did not
even make It a fitting occasion to ask
for a trifling Increase of salary.