iu~~lrti~i Crl~~Bi3' E~~rRinkH
ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
THE VALLEY OF WISHES.
TORCHES TO LIGHT
THEM DOWN THE
FLIGHTS OF STEPS,
Prince of Lorlonia
THE VALLEY OF WISHES
A FAIRY TALE OF
THE DAYS OF CHIVALRY
THE COUNTESS OF JERSEY
AUTHOR OF MAURICE, OR THE RED JAR."
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY ALICE R. WOODWARD
MACMILLAN AND" CO.
AND NEW YORK
All rights reserved
RICHARD CLAY AND SONS, LIMITED,
LONDON AND BUNGAY.
I. OLGA AND HER BROTHER .
II. VLADIMIR TAKES ADVICE
III. THE ROSE CITY .
IV. OLGA FINDS A FRIEND .
V. ERIC NEEDS A FRIEND
VI. THE PLOT SUCCEEDS
VII. PRISONERS . .
VIII. THE FLIGHT . .
IX. MONKEY ISLAND . .
X. THE COUNCIL . .
XI. VICTORY AND TIDINGS .
XII. THE VALLEY OF WISHES
'. . I
S . 16
S . 31
. . 31
. . 46
. . 74
. . 89
S. . 9
. . 134
S. . 149
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Having procured torches to light them
down the flights of steps Frontispiece
"You must learn to take care of baby
Olga," said the Princess To face page 2
"I suggest nothing, my lord" ,, 23
The old man solemnly raised his right
hand ,, 43
Olga had run with Irene and Xenia to
her old post of observation ,, 78
The monkey gave the box to the little
girl ,, 107
"Ah, Queen," said he, "is all lost?
where shall I find rest ? ,, 155
Ten-eleven-twelve Olga sprang to
the first stone ,, 173
OLGA AND HER BROTHER
'COME here, Princess Olga,' cried the nurse,
' your mama wants you.'
Olga was picking roses in the garden, but
she ran as fast as her little legs could carry her
towards the broad verandah, where she knew
that she should find her mother.
The Princess of Lorlonia lay on a low couch
supported by a pile, of cushions, and her dark
eyes looked all the darker because her face was
so pale and thin. She smiled as Olga came
near her and said :
Baby wants to be taken out of the cradle,
Olga. Do you think that you can lift him ?'
Olga was delighted. She had often held
little Eric in her arms before, but she had, never
2 BRIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA CHAP.
been trusted to lift him out of his bed by her
very own self.
You had better fetch your little chair first,'
continued her mother, so that you can sit down
beside me when you have him in your arms.'
Olga obeyed ; and having carefully arranged
her little white and gold chair near her mother's
couch, she still more carefully bent over the
cradle of carved ebony in which Eric was begin-
ning to kick his legs and wave his arms, quite
determined to show that he had been quiet for
as long a time as could be expected of a sturdy
boy nine months old. He smiled when he saw
his sister and allowed her to take him up, and
to sit down and amuse him with his coral and
'You must learn to take care of baby, Olga,'
said the Princess. The day may come when
he will be left in your charge.'
'What do you mean, mama ?' asked the little
'Perhaps you cannot understand altogether,
darling,' answered her mother; but you know
that when your father died little Eric became
Prince of Lorlonia, and that all this part of the
country belongs to him.'
"YOU MUST LEARN
TO TAKE CARE OF
SAID THE PRINCESS.
1 OLGA AND HER BROTHER 3
'Yes, I know, mama, and I know that you
are to take care of him till he is a big boy, and
that 'then he is to take care of you.'
I will take care of him as long as I am alive,
my child,' said the Princess in a rather sad
voice ; 'but I may not live till he is a big boy.
You are eleven years older than Eric, and if I
die you must tell him that his father and
mother wanted him to be a brave man, to speak
the truth, and to take care of his people.'
'You won't die, my own mama,' cried Olga;
'you will live to be an old, old woman, and then
Eric and I will both take care of you.'
'I hope I may live till you both grow up, but
I do not know,' said the lady. Remember what
I have said if I do not. Remember, also, that
Eric and you are to live here with Count Radul
and his wife, and that you are not to be taken
away to any other castle or city as long as they
can protect you here.'
'I will remember, mama,' replied the little
Eric here showed signs of impatience. He
thought the conversation had lasted quite long
enough, and that his mother and sister having
settled his future to their satisfaction, ought to
ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
attend to his present amusement. Olga got up
and carried him towards some brilliantly flower-
ing bougainvillea. The little boy stretched out
his hands to the gay clusters, and crowed and
laughed, till his nurse, summoned by the Prin-
cess's hand-bell, bore him away for his evening's
meal and walk.
Olga ran back to her roses, for she had not
picked all she needed to fill the bowls in her
mother's room. Presently a clatter of horses'
feet and jingling armour sounded on the broad
road which lay below the terraced garden. This
road was almost hidden from sight by a narrow
plantation of myrtle and other shrubs, but from
the end of the uppermost terrace a glimpse
could be caught of any wayfarers who passed
along it just before they turned to mount the
hill on which the castle stood. Olga accord-
ingly scampered to that post of observation, and
then hurried back to her mother crying :
'Mama, mama Four knights and squires in
armour and a dozen men-at-arms They are
riding up to the castle, and I think the crest is
Cousin Vladimir's vulture. It is an ugly bird
like that, I am sure.'
Princess Anna turned, if possible, paler than
I OLGA AND HER BROTHER 5
before, and murmuring to herself' an ugly bird
indeed,' rang her bell hastily, and.said to Olga,
' Run in, dear ; send Amalia to me, and tell nurse
to change your frock and comb your hair.
Then come to my .room. Go,' she added to
the servant who answered the bell, 'ask Count
Radul to hasten to meet the guests who are
coming up to the castle, and beg the Countess
to join me in the saloon.'
Amalia came and helped her mistress, who
was very delicate, to go to her room and pre-
pare to receive.the unexpected visitors whoever
they might be.
The castle was so remote from other dwell-
ings of the same sort, and so entirely surrounded
by the vast possessions of the Princes of Lor-
lonia, that it was not usual in times of peace to
keep sentries on the look-out, though a small
garrison of armed retainers liyed, in the guard-
house under the command of the late Prince's
faithful vassal and friend, Count Radul.
The knights who were riding up to the outer
gateway must have been known as friends of
the family at the various outposts on the high-
ways and bridle-paths leading to. the castle,
or they would not have been allowed to pass
ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
uflchallenged. Nevertheless the widowed Prin-
ce's of Lorlonia knew only too well that some
outward friends are more dangerous than open
enemies, and she was more afraid of her hus-
band's cousin, Count, Vladimir, than of many
of the wild chieftains -or bandit leaders against
whom the Prince had fought in his lifetime.
The Princess had just put on a black satin
robe and Amalia was fastening a long veil of
white lawn to her hair with a large diamond
brooch, when a knock was heard at the door.
Come in.!' said the Princess; and Countess
Sophy Macovros, the wife of Count Radul,
entered the room in some excitement.
I ventured, Princess, to come to your cham-
ber instead of to the saloon as you desired, for
my husband thought that your Highness had
better be prepared with the news that the
stranger knights are Count Vladimir and his
'Thank you, Countess; I guessed as much,
for Olga saw that the crest was like my cousin's.
Has Count Radul met him ?'
He is just greeting him at the entrance, and
will take him for refreshment to the banqueting
hall. He bade me say that he will await your
SOLGA AND HER BROTHER
summons to conduct the, Count to the
It is well, Countess. As soon as Olga comes
we will go there.'
Olga; her blue eyes sparkling with excite-
ment, and wearing a white satin frock with lace
sleeves, now ran into the rqom, and her mother,
leaning on the Countess's arm, descended to the
saloon, where two young ladies, Xenia and
Irene, who acted as maids of honour, and two
pages, awaited her presence.
Countess Sophy led the lady to a large chair
of state at the end of the room, and Olga seated
herself on a little footstool at her right hand.
One of the pages was then sent to tell Count
Radul that the Princess was ready to receive her
guests whenever they were sufficiently refreshed
from the toils of their journey.
Not many minutes had elapsed before the
attendants who were waiting outside the saloon
threw open the large folding-doors, and the
Seneschal Marco, an old man richly dressed
in black velvet, with a long gold chain round
his neck, advanced into the room and announced,
' The noble and valorous Lord, the Count Vladi-
mir of Gravenia, has come to greet his well-
ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
beloved cousin, the gracious and noble Lady
Anna, Princess of Lorlonia, and her son, the
high-born and mighty Prince of Lorlonia.' The
seneschal struck the ground with his long white
staff, his token' of office, and stood, aside to
admit the Count so formally announced, who
entered with Count Radul on his right hand,
and followed by his own attendants and the
other gentlemen who were acting as officers of
the Princess's guard. Count Vladimir bowed
low to his kinswoman, who rose as he came
forward, and said,
'Welcome, Cousin Vladimir. I am glad to
see you at Lorlonia. Had you given me notice
I would have received you more fittingly.'
'I ask no other greeting, dear cousin, than
to see you well. And is this my dear little
Olga?' he added, stooping to kiss the child,
who submitted politely, but without much
Yes, this is Olga,' replied her mother. Will
you sit down, cousin?' She pointed to a chair
near her own, and the Count sat down. Count
Radul and his wife, at a sign from the Prin-
cess, also seated themselves; Xenia and Irene
remained in the background, and the other
I OLGA AND HER BROTHER 9
attendants conversed together at the lower ,end
of the room.
Count Vladimir, a tall dark man with restless
eyes, did not seem entirely at his ease. He ex-
plained that he had been suddenly summoned
to the Capital, where the King was calling a
council 6f his chief vassals, in order to discuss
some points connected with the defence of the
kingdom. He then continued,-
'I was on a visit in this neighbourhood, and
I could not pass near your castle, my dear
cousin, without calling to pay my respects, and
to offer my services as representing the interests
of my dear little cousin Eric at the Council.'
Thank you, Cousin Vladimir,' answered the
Princess rather coldly. It is very thoughtful
of you, but I have no need to trouble you with
the care of any interests except your own.
The lands of Lorlonia pay a certain annual
sum to his Majesty and are free from further
charge or. burden. Count Radul Macdvros
looks after their defence, and my son's other
officers see that the laws of his land are
carried out. When Eric is old enough he
may choose to follow the King to the wars,
but meantime the council cannot affect him or
ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
his interests in any way. The King loved his
father, and will certainly not try to interfere
with the rights of the son.'
Certainly, certainly, dear Anna,' said
Vladimir, with an annoyance which he vainly
tried to hide under a show of affection. Allow
me, however, to say that ladies do not always
understand the concerns of courts and kings.
Circumstances alter cases, and his Majesty or
his advisers may wish to ask more from Lor-
lonia either in men or money than was formerly
given. It would be of great advantage to your
son if I, as his kinsman, were to receive your
authority to speak for him in the Council.'
'I am not at all afraid of demands from
the King, Cousin Vladimir,' replied the Princess
quietly ; and if his Majesty had any com-
munication to make he would send me a mes-
senger direct, by whom I should send a direct
answer. Circumstances, as you justly remark,
alter cases, and I should like to know full
particulars of any case which might arise before
authorising anybody, even a relation, to speak
in my name and my son's.'
Vladimir frowned darkly, while Count Radul
looked on the ground to hide a smile of satis-
OLGA AND HER BROTHER
faction. He understood very well why Count
Vladimir wanted permission to speak in Eric's
name. The Count thought that he would
bribe the King and council with offers of men
and money from his little cousin's lands, and
that, in return, rights would be given him
over the whole country of Lorlonia, that he
would be appointed guardian during the boy's
infancy, and perhaps contrive in the end to
make himself master in his place. Both Count
Vladimir and Count Radul, however, knew that
the Princess spoke truly. The King had been
a great friend of the late Prince's, he respected
his widow, and would not listen to any one who
did not speak, in the first instance at all events,
with her authority.
'Well, my lady,' said Vladimir after a pause,
trying to speak in a gay and cheerful manner,
' since you will not allow me to act a kinsman's
part towards my little cousin, will you at least
allow me to see him?'
'Certainly,' replied the Princess, relieved that
the Count gave up the argument so readily.
'George,' added she, beckoning to one of the
pages, 'go and bid Nania bring Prince Eric
ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
'Let me go,' exclaimed Olga jumping up,
and throwing her arms round her mother's neck
she whispered, I want to see that nurse puts on
his right frock.'
'Very well;' answered her mother smiling,'
and the little girl ran off. The seneschal
watched her proceedings with considerable dis-
approval. Though very fond of his little
Princess he did not think that she ought to run
messages in the presence of strangers, and he
took care that the attendants should be ready
to throw the doors wide open when she returned
with her brother and his nurse, while he
himself marched into the room wielding his
white staff with added importance, and an-
nouncing in a voice of unwonted solemnity,
'The Highborn Noble and Mighty Eric, Prince
of Lorlonia, Count of Mandania, Hospodar of
Tortosima, and Lord Paramount of all the
Cities, Towns and Territories between the
Mountains of Vassilos and the River Mitrovek.'
The poor little Prince, Count, Hospodar and
Lord Paramount looked almost appalled at
the recital of his own dignities and at the
stately manner in which the assembly rose and
saluted at his entrance. The sight of his
t OLGA AND HER BROTHER 13
mother however reassured him, and he looked
round pleased with the jingle of the swords
and spurs, the flashing of the helmets carried
by the knights and men-at-arms, and the glitter
of the breast-plates which they wore.
He is a soldier's son,' said Count Radul,
'and knows a soldier when he sees him.'
Count Vladimir, who, during Olga's absence,
had been talking to the Princess and Countess
Sophy about his journey and the beauty of the
surrounding country, now rose hastily and tried
to take the baby from Nania.
The little fellow would not allow this. He
did not cry but, pushing his cousin away with
his tiny hand, held out both arms to Count
Radul, and insisted with energetic move-
ments that he should take him and carry
him to his mother. Seated on her lap he
broke into a cheerful smile, and seemed
thereby to respond to the greetings of the
Count Vladimir turned away with a forced
laugh and remarked to the Princess, Your boy
is a fine child, but does not know his friends.'
Indeed he does,' broke in Olga, Eric loves
every one who loves him'
14 ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA CHAP.
'He does not love me, Olga,' replied the
'Well, you see, he can't know yet whether
you love him,' retorted the little girl.
'Hush, Olga,' said her mother, 'your cousin
quite understands that Eric is a baby and will
learn in time to behave properly.'
I hope he will learn both to know me and
to love me,' remarked the Count.
After a little further conversation the Princess
and her children retired, the Princess begging
that her cousin would excuse her presence at
supper as she was not strong enough for late
Count and Countess Macovros attended her
to the door of her own apartments, and as they
went back to the saloon the former muttered to
his wife, 'It will be a good thing for the family
if they all know friend from foe as quickly as
You don't think the Count will do the child
any harm, do you ?' whispered the Countess,
alarmed by his manner.
He shall not have the chance if I can help
it,' returned her husband. 'But hush walls
have ears when there are strangers in the house.'
I OLGA AND HER BROTHER 15
Meantime Count Vladimir had called his
favourite squire, the red-haired and crafty
Nicholas, to look at the view from the large
window at the end of the saloon. As they
stood together in the recess he murmured in
an angry tone,
'The brat is as obstinate as his mother. I
wish I had him in my power !
VLADIMIR -TAKES ADVICE
THE castle of Lorlonia was in reality a stately
palace of black and white marble solidly built,
and surrounding a paved courtyard: in the
midst of which played a beautiful fountain
supplied from a water-tower, which also served
as a post of observation for the watchmen in
times of war or danger.
An arcade with alternate columns of black
and white marble ran round three sides of the
court, on the fourth was a wide entrance with
elaborately wrought bronze gates, opening on
to a broad gravelled terrace with a smooth lawn
Except where the ground was artificially
levelled, the hill on which the castle was
CHAP. II VLADIMIR TAKES ADVICE
erected sloped gradually away in all directions.
On two sides it was laid out in gardens and
pleasure-grounds, the third was covered with
stables and outbuildings of various kinds, and
up the northern approach wound, amidst oak and
chestnut trees, the broad road by which Vladimir
had arrived on his visit to his cousin's home.
The whole hill where it reached the plain was
encircled by a high stone wall with small
fortified guard-towers at intervals. Travellers
from the south-west entered through an archway
protected by a portcullis, and passed along the
foot of the western garden from which Olga had
first caught sight of the men-at-arms.
Vladimir, whose temper was not improved by
his failure to obtain the object of his visit,
refused to spend more than one night at the
castle, and at an early hour on the morning
following his arrival assembled his troop on
the terrace outside the bronze gates.
Princess Anna, who was anxious not to offend
him more than possible, came out to say
good-bye, holding by the hand Olga, whose
golden curls were shining brightly in the
morning sunlight. Nania stood near with little
Eric in her arms. The boy was enchanted by
ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
the sight of so many horses and soldiers, and in
high good humour even consented to shake
hands with his dark-browed cousin. 'Good-bye,
young man,' said Vladimir, 'and take my
advice. If people in this world offer you
friendship, don't refuse it. There is not so
much spare kindness going begging.'
I hope neither Eric nor I shall ever refuse
friendship, cousin Vladimir,' said the Princess.
' Certainly not that of our kinsmen. We shall
always be glad to see you here, and we wish you
a prosperous journey.'
'Good-bye, my lady Olga,' said the Count
turning to her. What do you wish me ?'
I wish you to love Eric really and truly,'
replied the little girl earnestly.
'Teach Eric to love me then,' said the
knight laughing; and kissing the hand of the
Princess he vaulted on his horse, Count Radul
brought him the stirrup-cup, and after pledging
the company at large, he returned the golden
goblet with a final bow, and rode away.
Nicholas,' said he, as the heavy portcullis
of the south-western archway fell behind them,
'methinks fair means have failed to gain our
ends. What is to be our next move ?'
VLADIMIR TAKES ADVICE
'I hardly know, my lord. You have many
friends on the King's council. Would they not
support you if you applied directly to be made
guardian of the little Prince ?'
'Perhaps they might, but it would be of little
use. The council has nothing to do with
Lorlonia and its Prince. The whole thing
depends on the King himself. He will believe
anything Princess Anna says, and do anything
'You are the nearest relation, my lord, and
must succeed to the Principality if anything
should happen to the child.'
'There is Olga-but a girl might be'more
easily managed if the boy and his mother were
out of the way.'
'Princess Anna cannot live long.'
'No, but you will *see. She will leave the
boy in charge of that impertinent fellow, Radul
Macovros. He behaves already as if he were
lord of the castle. I am certain that she has
spoken to the King about it, and probably to
all the neighboring Counts and Hospodars.
Most of them are friends or relations of her own.'
Nicholas was silent for a few minutes, and
then said :
20 ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA CHAP.
My lord, I hardly see how open force or open
policy will help us.'
I did not suppose you would,' retorted his
leader : have you anything that is not open to
suggest ? We are not talking in the market-
Nicholas looked cautiously behind him. The
other squires were talking and laughing together
well out of earshot. They were fully aware that
their lord did not care for interruption when
conferring with his favourite. The men-at-arms
and baggage mules were following at a still more
It is all right,' said the Count impatiently,
'those fools are not listening. What is this
desperate secret ? Have you contrived to bribe
any of my cousin's people ?'
'Not a chance of that I am afraid, my lord.
They have too comfortable quarters, and too easy
a time of it, with a lady and a baby to rule them.'
'Afraid of having to go out and fight like
men, I suppose-the cowards !' exclaimed Vladi-
mir. Well, then, let's hear-what is your
famous plan ?'
'My lord, did you ever hear of the pink
marble quarries of Lorlonia ?'
VLADIMIR TAKES ADVICE
'Hear of them? I should think so. They
bring in a golden harvest every year to that
lucky brat, as they did to his father before him.
What of them ?'
'Some of them lie not far from the road
by which we travel to-morrow, and we might
turn aside to visit them if your lordship pleased.'
'Why should I please? Do you hope to
corrupt the quarrymen ?'
I beg your pardon, my lord. I am afraid
you will laugh at me.'
I shall make you laugh on the wrong side of
your mouth if you don't get on quicker with
what you have to say. What have quarries and
quarrymen to do with my claims on Lorlonia?'
Well, my lord,' continued Nicholas, speak-
ing more quickly, three or four miles beyond
the quarries, which are surrounded with a little
workmen's town, there is a vast deserted city,
with temples and palaces all complete, built
entirely of this precious pink marble. There
are houses and baths, beautiful fountains and
groves of orange and almond trees, yet no man,
woman, or child of the workmen's town will go
to live in these palaces, or even wander in the
2z ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA CHAP.
'Well-what of it ? Do you propose that I
should seize the marble city and make it my
capital ?' sneered Vladimir. 'Is this your cun-
ning plan when open force and open policy fail?'
'Not exactly, if your lordship will have
patience. The marble city is abandoned and
avoided because the country people say that it
'Haunted! what nonsense !' cried Vladimir
Perhaps it is nonsense,' continued Nicholas,
'but I have known wise men who thought quite
'And what was the wise men's story ?' asked
'They say that every palace, temple, and
garden is inhabited by little white dwarfs, the
subjects of a magician who threw some spell
over the place centuries ago. The dwarfs sleep
by day in secret chambers but at night they
throng the city, feast and work and follow all
the occupations of mankind. Their master is
seldom seen, but if any one has the courage to
lie down to sleep in the Great Hall of the
principal palace on Midsummer Eve the dwarfs
will lead him to their master and he will answer
" I SUGGEST
ii VLADIMIR TAKES ADVICE 2
three questions and give counsel which never
fails. Some add that none can succeed in this
quest save those who are akin to the Princes of
You expect a reasonable man to believe this
tale And even if it were true, what then ?'
'To-morrow,' remarked Nicholas quietly,
'will be Midsummer Eve.'
And you suggest that I should spend the
night in your precious city ?'
'I suggest nothing, my lord. It occurred to
me that your lordship might care to visit the
famous pink marble quarries of Lorlonia since
you were in the neighbourhood, and this re-
minded me of a legend not unconnected with
your family. No doubt the superintendent of
the quarries would be pleased to show you
hospitality, but if the works would not interest
you there is an end of the matter.'
The Count made no answer. Nicholas fell a
little behind, and when next his lord spoke it
was on quite a different subject. That evening
the Count and his retainers slept at a little
country inn. At supper Vladimir asked the
landlord who attended him whether the quarries
of pink marble were worth a visit.
24 ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA CHAP.
'Assuredly, noble lord,' replied the man.
'All who see them say there are none like them
in the world. They are called the Rose Quarries,
for the marble has veins as delicate as a blush
rose, and it glows like pearls and opals. If your
Excellency should please to stop to-morrow on
your way to Mandania, which is our Prince's
frontier town, as your Excellency knows, the
master of the Rose Quarries would be proud to
show them to his Highness's kinsman.'
'Then they lie between here and thefrontier ?
Could I inspect them, and push on, to sleep at
Mandania to-morrow night ?'
Not well, noble Count; they lie a little off
the high road and it would take some hours to
see all their marvels. If your Excellency
pleases, I will send a messenger to Master
Jagietto at daybreak and bid him prepare a
lodging for all your noble party.'
'Do so, good man. Tell him that one of
the sheds or quarrymen's huts will be all that
Nicholas grinned to himself but said nothing.
The whole population of the little workmen's
town was astir when the gaily armed train rode
up soon after noon on Midsummer Eve, and
i VLADIMIR TAKES ADVICE 25
Jagietto, Master of the Rose Quarries, received
his Prince's cousin with all possible respect and
The quarries were very extensive and gave
employment to a large number of men who
lived with their families in little huts scattered
all over the mountain side. At the foot, on
the banks of a smoothly flowing river, were
more substantially built houses, belonging to
the foremen, tradesmen, and other of the richer
The river had wharves on its banks against
which were fastened rafts and flat-bottomed
boats, in readiness to take away the blocks of
marble to other towns and seaports.
Vladimir was shown all the wonders of the
place, the quarries themselves where men were
boring and splitting the rocks with crowbars
and pickaxes, the yards where the- huge masses
were hewn into shapes more convenient for
transport, and the workshops where the finer
specimens were prepared by skilled workmen for
their final destination as columns and other
ornaments for the palaces of kings and nobles.
The marble was indeed marvellously beau-
tiful, and when smoothly polished was more
26 ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA CHAP.
like some lovely pink pearl than the solid
material used for buildings and pavements.
'Now,' said Jagietto, 'your Excellency has
seen all our work-a-day premises. Will you be
gracious enough to come to our Rose Hall
where we have made ready some refreshment ?'
Vladimir was getting very hungry and was
only too glad to follow his guide through a
long gallery leading from one of the quarries
right into the side of a hill. When he again
issued into daylight he could not refrain from a
cry of astonishment. He found himself in a
large circular chamber, open at the top to the
sky, but surrounded entirely by walls of the
finest pink marble fancifully adorned with
representations of animals, flowers, ferns, trees,
'Yes,' said Jagietto with an air of pride and
satisfaction, from this part of the mountain we
quarry the most beautiful marble, and when the
middle of this pit had been cleared out,.the
great-grandfather of our present Prince gave
orders that the walls should be left standing,
dressed and polished, just to show what our
mines could produce. Since then our best
workmen in their spare time have amused
I VLADIMIR TAKES. ADVICE 27
themselves by carving all these pictures on the
walls, and now I don't believe there is such
another hall in the world as ours.'
'I should think not indeed,' replied Vladimir,
who was only too anxious to flatter his little
cousin's subjects with smooth words and com-
pliments, and whose good humour was certainly
increased by the sight of a plentiful banquet
spread on a marble table and surrounded by
marble seats. While they were eating, the
Count asked the superintendent many questions
about the works and the extent of the quarries,
and Jagietto, pleased with his apparent interest,
gave him all the information in his power.
'Yes,' he said, 'your Excellency must have
seen many castles and palaces enriched with our
marble. I often grieve that his Highness's own
castle of Lorlonia was built before these quar-
ries were opened. Our pink would be much
handsomer than the black and white of which
it is constructed.'
'Surely,' said Vladimir, this rose marble was
known long before the Castle of Lorlonia was
built? Have I not heard of some very fine
buildings now no longer in use, which lie just
beyond these quarries and are all made of this
ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
beautiful marble ? If I had time I should rather
like to visit them.'
'Ah well,' replied Jagietto, there are a few
deserted houses which some people call the Rose
City, but I would not advise your Excellency
to waste your time in going there. The path
is exceedingly rough, in fact impassable for
horses, and no one lives in the place. .It is true
that some marble like ours must have been
used in building there, but probably it was
picked up accidentally, and then the whole
thing was forgotten till Prince Hetgar's time.
Let me give your lordship some of this
Jagietto was evidently anxious to drop the
subject, and Vladimir, who had learnt all that
he wanted to know, did not wish to continue a
conversation which might have enlightened his
followers, so he accepted the venison and began
to talk about hunting.
One of the workshops near the entrance to
the principal quarry had been hastily prepared
as a lodging for the men-at-arms, and Jagietto
invited the Count, Nicholas, and the two other
squires to sleep at his own house.
Vladimir requested that Nicholas might
ii VLADIMIR TAKES ADVICE 29
share his room, which he was satisfied to find
was on the ground floor and had large windows
opening into the garden. He said he was very
tired and asked Jagietto to allow him to retire
to his chamber as soon as the sun had set. An
hour later when all was quiet in the Master's
house, two figures crept stealthily through the
little garden and crossed the small strip of level
ground lying between the workmen's town and
the marble mountains.
'Are you sure that you know the way?'
asked one impatiently.
I made careful inquiry, my lord,' replied
the other, 'and the men told me that none
cared to follow yonder dark path between the
two peaks. Wise men may take the road which
And fall into dangers which fools avoid,'
retorted his chief. Nevertheless he followed on.
Presently the path became nothing but a track,
rough with fallen stones and hard to trace by
the dim light of the stars, for the moon was
not yet risen.
'There is no path at all,' exclaimed the
Count, after another hour or so of hard walk-
ing. Your city is a mere fool's dream.'
30 ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
S'Does your lordship 'choose to return?'
asked Nicholas calmly. 'Yonder are walls and
odlumns, perchance there is no oracle behind
them, and it would be lost labour to proceed.'
'Since we have come so far we may as well
see the business out,' replied the Count in a
somewhat surly tone; and Nicholas with a grim
smile scrambled over the mass of rock which
formed a kind of final barricade between the
narrow pass and an open plain on the other
In this plain, which stretched away to the
west, but was' bounded on the south by a great
forest, and on the east by another ridge of
mountains, rose the dark walls and stately roofs
which the sharp eyes of the squire had detected
from a distance. Just as the Count gained his
side the full moon arose over the mountain-
tops, and, sailing silently into the cloudless
sky, poured a flood of light with sudden and
startling illumination over the deserted mansions
of the Rose City.
THE ROSE CITY
IF the marble banqueting-hall of Prince Hetgar
had looked beautiful in the golden.sunlight, far
more lovely appeared the city whose roseate
walls caught and threw back the silver radiance
of the moon. Right and left the crimson ram-
parts stretched, their smooth surface broken at
regular intervals by stately columns, whose
rounded form made them appear rather paler
than ,the marble on which they cast their
shadows, and whose delicate veins could be
clearly traced in the mystical light.
Just in front of the strangers there was a
wide opening in the wall, where gates had
doubtless hung in olden times, but which now
afforded an unimpeded view into the very heart
32 'ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
of the city. A broad avenue ran directly from it,
having on either side a r6w of colossal statues of
kings and warriors, each holding in his hand a
sword, a spear, or a sceptre. Behind these appeared
splendid buildings with domes, colonnades, and
slender towers, and at the end of the avenue
could be seen a vast portico which was evidently
the entrance to the chief palace of the city.
Every statue, every column, every building was
built of the same pure marble, whose almost
transparent texture glowed and varied from the
deepest crimson to the palest possible shade of
pink, and the richly carved ornaments with
which the whole was adorned seemed in very
deed to be framed of newly-opened roses. The
dark shadows cast by the statues appeared as
if thrown by living guardians of the city,
and, bold as Vladimir undoubtedly was, his
heart beat somewhat faster as he looked at the
silent path along which he was shortly to
'Now, my lord,' said Nicholas, if you wish
to consult the oracle you must go forward alone.
The Master of the White Dwarfs will only
receive one inquirer at a time ; if two go to-
gether, though they may hear sounds, no form
THE ROSE CITY
will appear to them and no voice will answer
'You are more ready to send me into a
trap than to walk into it yourself, Nicholas,
methinks,' said Vladimir.
There was an angry flash in the squire's eye,
but he answered in his usual smooth voice,' Just
as your lordship pleases. I am quite ready to
ask three questions on my own account if you
prefer to let me go in your stead, though, as I
have not the honour of belonging to your lord-
ship's family, it is doubtful whether I should
get an answer.'
'And if I bade you ask the questions for me ?'
'It would be useless. The Master answers
each man for himself, not for another.'
Well, then, stay here and wait for me. I
fear neither dwarf nor soothsayer, but I care
little to be the dupe of man or magic.'
SSo saying the Count waved his hand to his
follower as a sign to remain outside, and hurry-
ing forward, passed the gateway and trod firmly
up the avenue. Nicholas looked after him.
'Wise men must serve fools, I suppose,' mut-
tered he, but they will ask their share of the
spoil, and, if possible, avoid the danger;' and
ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
wrapping his cloak around him, he sat down
with his back against a rock to await his lord's
He saw him pass the statues without looking
up at one of them, but it seemed to him as if
the sculptured chiefs bent their heads and
frowned at the intruder. At length the Count
paused on the steps of the portico for a moment,
then he advanced yet more boldly, mounted to
the platform at the top, and entering a narrow
doorway, disappeared from the sight of his
A strange spectacle greeted Vladimir when
he had passed the doorway. He found himself
in a spacious hall, perfect in every part, for the
lapse of ages did not appear to have affected
the Rose City in the smallest degree. Neither
weather nor the hand of man had displaced a
single block of marble, nor injured one carved
leaf in the mass of ornament around. The
centre part of the hall was paved with rich pink
and white mosaic representing festivals and
hunting-scenes, and was surmounted by a high
dome of rock crystal, through which the moon-
beams fell in broken rays. This dome was
supported by pillars, each twisted into some
THE ROSE CITY
quaint and novel shape, and between the pillars
and the outer walls of the hall was a wide corri-
dor, roofed and floored with sculptured marble and
raised several feet above the mosaic pavement.
The corridor was prepared as if for a feast,
soft silken cushions were scattered in all direc-
tions, gorgeous curtains woven with threads of
gold and silver were looped to the pillars, and
from pillar to pillar all round the hall were
festooned garlands of fresh roses. At intervals
were placed little silver tables only a few inches
high, and against the walls were fastened silver
sconces bearing torches of sweet-smelling wood.
The torches were not lighted and no food was
as yet placed upon the tables.
'Well,' said Vladimir to himself, 'whoever
occupies this palace has some idea of making
himself comfortable. I incline to suspect that
the whole city is the head-quarters of a band of
robbers who give out that it is haunted in order
to keep intruders at a distance. What shall I
do now ? If they find me here the chances are
that they will kill me as the surest way of
making me hold my tongue. Shall I go back ?
That impudent fellow Nicholas will laugh at me
to himself and his companions even if he dare
36 ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA CHAP.
not do so to my face. Besides, I should like
to see the owners of all this property. They
keep it in excellent repair anyhow. White
dwarfs Those tables look about the size for
dwarfs, but it must be all nonsense. Yet how
could robbers, or indeed any mortals, live here
and never be seen by the quarrymen ? Perhaps
Jagietto knows all about it and is paid to keep
quiet. Well, I will know the truth some-
how. Sleep here? Lie down to sleep I
think was the condition. It would be diffi-
cult to sleep in these strange quarters. I
suppose I can help myself to a few of these
cushions.' So saying the Count picked up
half-a-dozen, carried them to the darkest corner
of the corridor, arranged them as a bed, and
All was silent ; even the night wind rustling
the orange-trees in the orchards, and the musical
fall of the fountains which he had heard as he
walked up the avenue, did not reach him here.
He shut his eyes, thinking that possibly the
unseen inhabitants expected that of him, but he
heard nothing. He opened them again and
watched the moonbeams falling on the pave-
ment-still nothing. He began once more to
THE ROSE CITY
think over the questions he should ask the master
of the White Dwarfs if he ever made his ac-
quaintance, and so thinking he became really
drowsy and closed his eyes without meaning to
Ah what was that? Vladimir roused
himself in haste and leaned on his elbow. Had
he been asleep ? was he dreaming ? Silence still,
yet no longer solitude. The hall was thronged
with little beings, men and women no bigger
than children of four or five years old, with
perfectly white faces, clear blue eyes, hair of the
palest yellow, and clothes made of white silk
trimmed with white swansdown. All the tables
were now spread with food and wine, and every
torch was lighted, shedding a dazzling lustre
and delicious odours.
As the Count looked on amazed all the
little white people rose to their feet, one who
seemed to be leader of the ceremonies gave a
signal, soft music played, and the whole assembly
sang in chorus as follows,
Many a chieftain and many a knight
Loved his lady and faced his foes,
Feasted where flowers and lamps shone bright
In the Crimson City, the Hall of the Rose.
38 ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA CHAP.
Years wheel onward, valour is vain
Spells to scatter the Master throws,
Never shall beauty her sway regain
In the Crimson City, the Hall of the Rose.
Years roll onward and ours the home,
Trees that blossom and stone that glows,
Where silver light through the crystal dome
Floods the Crimson City, the Hall of the Rose.
He is dreaming, we guard his sleep;
Mighty Master! 't is he who knows
How we, his servants, our vigil keep
In the Crimson City, the Hall of the Rose.
'Now,' said the leader as the voices died
away, sit and feast, White Dwarfs of the Rose
City. This is Midsummer Eve, and though
our lord slumbers as is his wont he bids you
'May none come to disturb our feast to-night
then,' remarked a rather cross-looking dwarf
who sat at the same table with the first speaker.
'If there is one thing which' I dislike more
than another, it is when a tiresome inquisitive
mortal comes asking questions and wanting
'You have not to give the answers, Repan,'
cried another, so what can it matter to you ?'
'Besides,' added a fourth, we frightened the
II THE ROSE CITY 39
last man who came so thoroughly that I don't
think we have had any one here for three years.'
'If mortals were wise they would keep their
questions to themselves,' said a very sapient-
looking dwarf. I never knew any good come
of the answers they get.'
That is only because they don't understand
them and don't know how to use them,' re-
joined a lady dwarf; 'but then mortals are
'Is it true that no one can get an answer
from the master unless he belongs to the family
of the Princes of Lorlonia ?' asked one.
I am not quite certain,' replied the president,
'but I believe that our lord is obliged to answer
the Princes of Lorlonia and their kindred,
while he can do as he pleases if any one else
ventures into his presence.'
'Then,' exclaimed Vladimir, suddenly rising
and advancing towards the table at which this
conversation was carried on, take me to your
master. I am cousin to the Prince of Lorlonia,
this is Midsummer Eve, and I demand answers
to three questions.'
'Not so fast; replied the president, rising
to his feet with an air of great composure, and
40 ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
waving his hand. In an instant every torch
was extinguished, and as a cloud passed over the
moon at the same moment the hall was
wrapped in darkness.
Immediately at least a dozen dwarfs threw
themselves upon the indignant Count and fastened
his hands and feet tightly with cords. Not till this
was done did the president speak again or make
any answer to Vladimir's angry protests.
'Throw him on the ground and sit upon
him,' was his next order, and five or six dwarfs
carried out the first injunction, while several
more obeyed the second and placed themselves
upon the prisoner's arms, legs, and chest with
evident satisfaction to themselves and much
inconvenience to their victim.
Now, sir, who are you, and what right have
you as a spy in our banqueting-hall ?' demanded
the president with a very severe air.
I am Count Vladimir of Gravenia, and as I
told you before I am cousin to the Prince of
Lorlonia !' gasped the furious noble. I am not
a spy. Do you think I want to see your
trumpery feast, or that you will frighten me
with your silly conjuring tricks ? I heard you
say yourself that your master, whoever he may
n THE ROSE CITY 41
be, is bound to answer the kinsmen of Lorlonia,
so take me to him without more delay, or the
armies of our house shall come and batter down
your wretched city.'
'You may or may not be related to the
Princes of Lorlonia,' returned the president
very calmly, while the dwarfs who were using
the Count as a seat indulged in a few private
kicks, I should not, however, have guessed it
by your manners, and since you listened to our
conversation you are certainly a spy. As to
armies, they might batter for months and they
would make little difference to a city which has
stood here for centuries. Nevertheless, this is
Midsummer Eve, and I will take my master's
pleasure concerning you. Meantime, as you
have interrupted my friends at their banquet,
they may get what amusement they can out of
you while I am away.'
So saying he left the hall, and the- cloud
rolling away from the moon gave the mis-
chievous dwarfs light enough to fall upon the
unfortunate Count, and they forthwith pro-
ceeded to pinch him, beat him, and even kick
him from one to another as an unwieldy foot-
ball. His struggles and remonstrances were
42 ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA CHAP.
alike in vain, and he felt like a battered mass
when the return of the president put a stop to
this lively game.
'Our master is graciously pleased to desire
your presence, so get up and follow me,' said
the dwarf. 'I advise you to try and behave
with the courtesy becoming the rank which you
claim. You can untie his hands and feet,' he
added, addressing Vladimir's late tormentors,
who appeared unwilling to let him go.
The cords were slowly unfastened and the
freed prisoner struggled to his feet, scowling
fiercely on all around, but afraid to express his
wrath in words lest the attack should be
'Now come,' said the leader rather im-
patiently, and taking a torch he entered a long
narrow passage which issued from one corner of
the hall, and seemed to have no light from the
Bruised and sore the Count stumbled after
him, dimly guided by the flickering torch, and
presently arrived in another hall smaller than
that which they had left. From this a staircase
ascended to an upper story and brought them
to yet another long dark passage.
THE OLD MAN
HIS RIGHT HAND.
II THE ROSE CITY 43
'Where are we going? You are leading me
into some pitfall !' exclaimed the Count.
Keep quiet if you don't want to be pitched
head foremost over the parapet,' retorted the
dwarf, emerging from the corridor on to a marble
terrace surrounded by a kind of marble lattice
carved as delicately as ivory fret-work. In
the centre of the terrace was a canopy of
silver supported by eight silver columns, and
beneath it, on a couch covered with cloth of
gold, lay a very old man with a long white
A dwarf stood near each column swinging a
censer of perfume, while three others crouched
at the head, and three at the foot of the bed,
slowly waved large fans of ostrich feathers to
and fro, that a soft scented breeze might refresh
the sultry night.
Was the old man sleeping or waking ? His
eyes were closed and Vladimir could not tell,
till a hollow voice said-
'Let him approach;' and his guide, who
evidently disliked him, pushed him roughly
As he drew near to the couch the old man
solemnly raised his right hand, and the Count saw
4-4 ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
on his forefinger an enormous diamond set in a
massive silver ring. Somewhat to his surprise
he perceived his own face clearly reflected in the
It is well,' said the old man ; the mortal
who disturbs' my rest is of the princely house.
Let him ask his three questions and begone.'
Taken almost unawares in spite of his
previous preparation, the Count mustered his
courage and his wits as well as he could, and
asked in a tolerably firm voice-
'Who shall be Prince of Lorlonia ?'
'He who will win it by a wish and hold it
by the love of his people,' replied the sage.
'That does not tell me much. It might be
I or another,' muttered the Count to himself,
and then asked aloud,
What shall happen to Prince Eric?'
'His fate lies in the hand of a girl,' was
'I don't see much good in being pounded to
a jelly for this information,' was the discon-
tented thought of the inquirer. I must get
something more to the purpose out of the old
fellow this time.'
After a moment's pause he said, I was told,
mr THE ROSE CITY 45
Father, that you give counsel which never fails.
Deign to tell me how I may win and wear the
princely diadem of Lorlonia?'
Very slowly and distinctly came the answer-
'Beyond the mountains which lie to the east
of the Rose City is the Valley of Wishes, where
every wish uttered by men, women and children
during the past twelve months takes form on
New Year's Day. Whoever can first cross the
stream which flows at the foot of those moun-
tains on the further side of the Black Gorge,
after the Great Bell of this city has tolled the
passing of the Old Year, may choose amongst
his wishes that which he will have fulfilled.
No more. Leave me to rest. The Great Bell
tolls and Midsummer Day is here.'
Before Vladimir could speak, or question the
old man further, a deafening sound broke upon
his ears. One-two-three, tolled out into
the night, and ere the twelfth clash of the
mighty bell had sounded he fell senseless on
When he opened his eyes again he was lying
near the rocks outside the City and Nicholas
was bending over him.
OLGA FINDS A FRIEND
IT was the first day of August, and the sun
shone gloriously on the Castle of Lorlonia, yet
all within, it were sad. Princess Anna had died
a week before, and the vassals of the Princedom
had been assembled in the castle to escort her to
her grave. Now many of them had gone home,
after again, swearing fealty to the little Eric, and
solemnly confiding him and Olga to the
guardianship of Count Radul Macovros and his
wife, in accordance with the wishes of the dead
Princess. Six of the principal nobles were
chosen as a Council of Regency to look after
the affairs of the State until 'he came of age, and
each of-these in turn was to pay a monthly visit
to the castle, to see that little Eric was well and
/LT fl A "TNITC A T T~tT'
C APr. UV J. -r1.L.O rX' .CILND.L1 4-7
Vladimir was one of the six, and he and a
few others still stayed on at the castle, saying
that they could not leave the little orphans
quite so soon, and would remain a few days to
cheer them up.,
Poor little Olga, who had cried till she was
tired, was sitting in the garden with CountessSophy
Macovros, and Nania was walking up and down
carrying Prince Eric, who could not understand
why all around him wore black clothes and
looked so dull, and why he did not see his mama.
'What shall we do, Countess Sophy?'
exclaimed Olga, leaning her head against her
friend, 'Cousin Vladimir pretends to be fond of
us, but I never can like him, and I am sure
he does not like Eric-and he won't go away
and leave us alone.'
'He will go in a few days, dear,' replied the
Countess, putting her arm round the little girl.
'It is quite, natural that he should wait to see
everything settled before he leaves:'
S"Xenia says he is always walking up and
down the dark avenue plotting with Nicholas,
arid sometimes Sir Witold was with them before
he left, and, she is sure they are up to some
48 ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
Xenia cannot possibly know anything about
it, and ought not to frighten you. Besides
Jagellon, the Hospodar of Dorzyn, who was
one of your father's greatest friends, is here, and
means to stay as long as Count Vladimir is in
Olga was silenced though not convinced, and
at this minute Irene, a tall fair girl who had, like
Xenia, been lady-in-waiting to Princess Anna,
hastened towards Countess Sophy and begged her
to come at once, as Count Radul was seeking
Now, Olga,' said the lady, kissing the child
as she left her, 'do not trouble your little head
any more. Remember that you have plenty of
friends to take care of you and Eric. Go and
play with him, dear, and make him happy, that
is what your mother would wish you to do.'
Olga went towards a bench where Nania had
now seated herself, and tried her best to play
with Eric, but she felt so dull and miserable
that she could not succeed as usual in making
her little brother laugh, and, quite out of spirits,
she said that she would go and pick him some
flowers from her own garden and bring them
back to him.
iv OLGA FINDS A FRIEND 49
Won't you call Lady Irene or Lady Xenia
to go with you, Princess Olga?' asked the
nurse, 'or shall I send Catherine ? It is a long
way to your garden in the wood, and I suppose
that is where you mean to go.'
'No, please don't, Nania. I shall not meet
any one in the wood path, and I had far
rather be alone. I shall not be very long, and I
shall be able to play with baby much better
when I have had a walk by myself.'
The nurse hesitated. The wood in which
Olga had made a little garden for herself lay, it
is true, within the wall which surrounded the
hill on which the castle stood, but it was the
most distant part of the enclosed grounds, and
through it flowed a small stream which ran in
under an arch in the wall near one of the guard
towers, and out again beneath a similar opening
about a mile off.
Princess Anna had never given any special
orders that Olga was not to go there alone, but
generally a lady-in-waiting or one of the maids
had gone with her, and Nania was very anxious
that all her late mistress's wishes should be
carefully carried out.
However, she could not imagine that any
5o ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
possible danger awaited Olga in the wood, and
as the poor child would plainly be the better for
an undisturbed walk, the nurse allowed her to
go, only cautioning her to come straight home
as soon as she had gathered her flowers.
Quietly enough at first Olga followed the
broad gravelled paths, and flights of stone steps
which descended from terrace to terrace, but
when the neatly-kept gardens ended and the
mossy woodland tracks began, her spirits rose,
and she began to run down the hill as she was
accustomed to do. As she drew near the
sheltered glade in which she had chosen the spot
for her garden she heard a sound of struggling,
and angry voices. She stopped for a moment,
and then crept quietly on, till through an opening
in the trees she could see what was happening
without herself being seen. To her surprise she
saw Ivan, the head forester, who lived with some
of his men in the guard-house near the entrance
of the stream, holding by the arm a boy a little
older than herself, whom he seemed about to
strike with the stock of his musket.
Stop, Ivan, what are you doing? What has
that boy done ?P' cried the little girl. Both Ivan
and the boy looked up and saw Olga, who had
OLGA FINDS A FRIEND
issued from her hiding-place and was standing
on the top of a bank just above them.
Though Ivan did not strike the boy he con-
tinued to hold his, arm, and Olga had a good
chance of looking at him. He was gaily and
somewhat strangely dressed in a suit of dark
green velvet with tight red silk sleeves, red
stockings, and a red cap. His hair was dark,
and his black eyes were very bright and spark-
ling. He was a pretty boy despite his some-
what mischievous expression.
I beg your pardon, Princess Olga,' said Ivan,
'but this young man deserves a thrashing if ever
boy did. He has not only pulled up the flowers
in your garden, but has pulled down your
rockery, and he won't tell me how he got here,
where he and the likes of him have no business.'
'Pulled down my rockery! Oh, boy, why
ever did you do that ?' exclaimed Olga.
'I did not know it was your rockery,'
answered the boy, looking rather ashamed. 'I
wanted to make a bridge over the stream, and
those stones looked handy for it. If you will
tell this old fellow to let me .go, I'll soon build
up the rockery again.'
'I'd better thrash him first, Princess Olga,
52 ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
indeed I had,' entreated Ivan, with energy, 'it
will teach him not to come here again-it's the
only way with these young poachers.'
I'm not a poacher,' cried the boy, indignantly,
'I'm-well, never mind-the young lady shall
decide. Is this old man to thrash me or not ?
I'll stand still and let him do it if you say so,
but he could not do it by himself, not he !'
'No, no,' said Olga hastily, 'let him go,
Ivan, and I'll see that he builds up the rockery
again all right.'
But I must see him off the premises, my
lady,' insisted Ivan. It will never do to leave
him trespassing on the grounds of my lord,
Well, come back in half an hour-we shall
have done the rockery by that time,' said Olga.
Ivan still objected, but Olga was firm, and at
last the old man moved discontentedly away,
determining to return in a very short half hour,
and not to be far off meantime.
Olga had very few child companions, and saw
these rarely, so the bright eyes and gay appear-
ance of the young trespasser had taken her fancy,
and no sooner was Ivan out of sight than she
Iv OLGA FINDS A FRIEND 53
I think the bridge was rather a good idea.
Suppose we build it instead of the rockery ?'
'All right-but what will old Thrashem say ?'
'Oh, well-you see it was my rockery. I
don't see what it matters to him.'
Nor I either ; let's build the bridge by all
means. We must make haste though, for I have
to go back.'
'Go back where.? Where did you come
The boy looked round cautiously to see that
no one was listening and then said,
It is a secret-I cannot tell you exactly, but
you have done me a good turn and you are a
nice girl, so I will tell you something if you
will promise not to tell any one else.'
Olga's eyes filled with tears as she answered-
'My father and mother are both dead, so I
suppose I can promise now. If they had been
alive I must have told them.'
I am very sorry they are dead,' answered
the boy, pausing as he arranged a stone near the
bank. 'Perhaps that is another reason for
telling you what I was going to say. You have
been a friend to me and I can be a friend to
you if you need one. My father is travelling
ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
back to his own country, and as he stopped for
a night on his journey not far from here, I
thought I would explore the neighbourhood.
I got in under the arch-where the. stream runs
in you know.'
However did you manage that ?' said Olga,
'you did not swim, for you are not wet, and
your velvet clothes are not spoilt. It is not
possible in any other way '
'Isn't it? Never mind; by the way I got
in you could get out if necessary. Now I can
give you a servant who would bring me a
message at any time if you wanted to send for
'Why do you think I should want to send
for you ?'
'If you don't think it likely it does not
matter. I did hear folks say that trouble might
be brewing up here. You have a little brother,
have you not ?'
'Yes, a dear little boy!' cried Olga. 'I
should like you to see him '
'Perhaps I shall some day,' continued the
strange boy still busy with the stones. 'Is
your brother the Prince of the country ?'
'Yes, he is. How much you know about us !'
OLGA FINDS A FRIEND
'Perhaps I do and perhaps I don't. Well,
would you like my servant?'
Olga paused much perplexed-
'You are a very puzzling boy,' she answered
at length. 'I have promised not to tell some-
thing you were going to tell me and I really
don't know now what it is. Was it that you
were travelling with your father, or that you
got in under the arch, or what ? If it is about
the servant I could not have a fresh servant in
the castle without telling any one and saying
where I got him.'
'You must not tell any one anything about
me,' returned the boy, 'except just what old
Thrashem knows-or will know--that he found
me spoiling your garden and that I helped you
build a bridge instead of a rockery because you
wished it. As for the servant, if you would
like to have him I will arrange that you shall
keep him without any one except yourself know-
ing anything about him.'
Olga hesitated again. It was really a very
perplexing position for a little girl not quite
twelve years old. She did not in the least wish
to deceive her guardians or to act .against their
desires, yet at the same time she felt bound to
ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
do all she could to protect Eric, and she fancied
that Count Vladimir was more dangerous than
any of her friends suspected. If she had been
a little older she would have thought the danger
of accepting a stranger's help and a servant
whom she had to hide, at least as great as that
of trusting to such protection as she had
already, but perhaps as it turned out it was
fortunate that this did not strike her. She
believed in the good will of her new companion
I should certainly like to have some one
whom I could send to fetch help if I wanted
it-only perhaps it might be naughty to keep a
man hidden from everybody else.'
'I assure you it would not be in the least
naughty to keep the servant I mean. Anyhow,
if you agree you shall see him to-morrow, and
if you don't like him you shall send him away.
Listen carefully to this, however. He can
understand what you say though he cannot
'Cannot speak?' interrupted Olga aston-
'Not a word,' replied the boy. 'Come
down here about this time, or as near it as you
Iv OLGA FINDS A FRIEND 57
can manage, to-morrow, and he will be waiting
for you. He will hold my red cap in his hand
and you will know him by that. You may
give him any orders you like. Take the red
cap and keep it carefully, and if ever you want
my help give the servant the cap, or throw
it to him if you cannot get near him. That's
all; now be quiet, here is Thrashem coming
'It's not half an hour.
'No, I never supposed he would trust me so
long. Here, give me a stone-pretend to be
'Whatever are you doing, Princess Olga?'
grumbled Ivan as he came up. 'I never
thought you would let that young scamp lead
you into mischief. Why you will block up the
whole stream, spoil the trout-fishing, make the
water overflow the banks, and ruin the young
'Oh, Ivan, don't be angry I thought a
bridge such a capital idea.'
'Well-capital idea or not it can't be carried
out now, for this young master is coming with
me, and he will have to walk out of the wood
pretty quick or he will make acquaintance with
ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
a stick after all. Now come along you-what's-
'Yes, what is your name?' asked Olga
'Red Cap for the present. Good-bye,'
laughed the boy, as Ivan marched him off.
Good-bye, don't hurt him, Ivan,' cried Olga.
'Not if he behaves himself,' replied the
Olga watched them out of sight, gathered a
few flowers and slowly climbed up the hill. On
reaching the castle she gave the account of her
expedition which Red Cap had suggested, and
Countess Sophy and the nurse, pleased that she
had found something to amuse and interest her,
did not blame her for letting a strange boy help
her to build the bridge.
Had they known what else that boy had
promised to do for her they would have been
considerably alarmed, but of that they were
All next morning Olga was in a fever of
excitement. The events of the last week were
however quite sufficient to account for her state
of mind, and nobody suspected that she had any
other cause for her restlessness, for being unable
OLGA FINDS A FRIEND
to settle either to work or play, and for constantly
wanting to know the time.
Early in the afternoon-she told the nurse that
she wanted to go back to her garden. Well,'
said Nania, 'I suppose you will find no more
strange boys there. I really wish you would
take some one with you.'
Ivan is sure to have kept a sharp look-out
for boys,' answered the child. Don't be anxious,
nurse. It is much nicer to go alone.'
Nania again consented, though somewhat
reluctantly, and Olga made haste to escape before
she should encounter Countess Sophy or any one
else likely to ask questions.
Along the walks, down the steps, down the
mossy path she ran, and with beating heart leapt
over the last bank which overhung her garden.
On the few remaining piled-up stones of her
rockery, red cap in hand, was seated her new
servant-a monkey !
ERIC NEEDS A FRIEND
OLGA stood still in blank amazement. Surely
Red Cap had played her just such a mischievous
trick as she might have expected. What pos-
sible good could a monkey do either her or
The monkey on seeing her approach started
up from his seat and held out the cap with a
low and very profound bow; then he stood in
an attitude of attention as if awaiting her com-
'Are you my new servant?' she asked at
length in a tone of disappointment. The monkey
bowed again, and again held out the cap which
Olga took rather reluctantly.
'What can you do?' she said, not quite
. ERIC NEEDS A FRIEND
knowing how to continue the conversation. The
creature glanced round and noticed a small
summer-house where Olga kept her gardening
tools. He ran to it, fetched a watering-pot,
filled it at the stream, and proceeded carefully to
water such of the plants as were in the shade
of the trees, avoiding those in the glare of
the sun. He looked up at the little girl as
if asking her approval, then, seeing that she had
dropped her hood, he picked it up, and carefully
replaced it on her head.
'I see,' she said, 'you mean that you will
*work for me and wait upon me. That is it,
isn't it ?'
The monkey nodded, and grinned to show his
What shall I call you? You must have a
name, you know. Will Tommy do?'
The monkey shook his head, ran back to the
garden, and picked a leaf of mustard which he
'held up to her.
What-Mustard ? What a funny name!
Is that what you want me to call you ?'
The ape nodded two or three times.
Very well, I don't mind, I don't think it is
62 ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA CHAP.
a very pretty name, but if you like it that ismost
important. Now then, Mustard, where shall you
sleep, and what shall you eat ?'
Without a moment's hesitation Mustard
sprang up into an immense oak tree and curled
himself up into one of the big branches so that
he was completely hidden by the thick leafy
screen. Then stretching himself he jumped
thence into a chestnut tree, picked one or two
nuts, broke off the outer rind, cracked the shell
and ate the kernel with an air of the utmost
content. Olga clapped her hands and laughed
for the first time since her mother's death.
'Oh, you dear Mustard! you are a nice
monkey and I like you very much.'
Mustard acknowledged the compliment by
springing with one bound to her feet.
'I do wish Eric could see you,' she con-
tinued, it would make him crow, and I dare say
he would soon learn to say Mustard. Couldn't
we manage it ?''
Mustard shook his head again very solemnly
and held up one hand in a warning manner.
'Oh, very well,' said Olga regretfully.
'Perhaps some day everything will be safe, and
then you can see him. Now I must go. I
v ERIC NEEDS A FRIEND 63
will come back here to-morrow alone, if nurse
will let me;. if she' won't, and you see anybody
coming with me, you must hide, you under-
Mustard made a low bow and pointed to the
large tree as much as to say that his hiding-
place was always ready ; and bidding him
good-bye Olga ran up the hill much more
merrily than she had done the day before.
As she reached the highest terrace she met
Irene 'coming to look for her.
'Where have you been, Olga.?' cried the
young lady, Countess Sophy is looking for
'I have been in my garden." Is anything the
'Why, yes-the Hospodar has to return at
once to Dorzyn.'
'At once You don't mean this afternoon ?
He'was to stay here as long as Cousin Vladimir.
Is he going too ?'
'No, worse luck !' replied Irene. 'The Count
is not going, .but my Lord Jagellon is. A
messenger arrived post haste about an hour
ago and brought news of some disturbance at
home-enemies trying to stir up a rising in
ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
Dorzyn I believe, and the Hospodar is obliged
to set off post haste to quiet his own people.'
Irene stopped here, but the brown-eyed
Xenia, who came up in time to hear her last
words, was more communicative.
Yes, and most of us can make a pretty good
guess as to how those disturbances arose. Count
Vladimir's lordship of Gravenia is not so far
away from Dorzyn. It is easy enough to send
a few banditti over the border and to stir up
strife, if you want to bring the Master home
again when he is in a place where he interferes
with your wicked plots.'
'Hush, Xenia You know Countess Macov-
ros said you should not talk when you cannot
be certain that what you say is true; you only
put ideas into the child's head.'
'Well, all you cautious people may lose that
blessed baby with your prudence. That's all I
can say. Anyhow, Olga must make haste, for
Countess Sophy-wants her to say good-bye to the
Hospodar, and he will be off in half an hour.
She will hardly have time to change her frock.'
Never mind my frock. Where is the
Hospodar?' exclaimed Olga in great excite-
ERIC NEEDS A FRIEND
In the arcade,' answered Xenia; 'but you
had better come to Countess Sophy first. She
is going out to say good-bye to him directly.
Count Radul will take him the stirrup-cup, and
you and Eric are to be there.'
'No, I must see him at once,' cried Olga,
setting off to run to the house.
Irene wished to detain her, but Xenia held
her friend back.
Let the child go. When Count and Countess
Macovros come out to speed the Hospodar,
Count Vladimir will be there also. Give Olga
a chance of seeing him alone, she can do no
harm, and may do some good.'
Olga meantime reached the arcade, which
surrounded the large courtyard, and found the
Hospodar Jagellon, as Xenia had said, standing
there with two or three squires to whom he was
giving final directions. One of the other nobles
who had remained at the castle was with him,
Vladimir and Radul were still inside the house.
'Oh, my lord,' cried the little girl, as she
ran up to him nearly crying, don't go, please
don't go !'
'What is the matter, Princess Olga ?' asked
the Hospodar kindly and with some anxiety.
66 ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
'Come in here and tell me all about it.' He
made a sign of excuse to his friend and led the
child into one of the rooms which opened on to
the arcade. 'Now what is it, my dear ? Why
do you want me not to go ?'
Olga coloured deeply. She dared not say
how much she distrusted her cousin, and mur-
'You were my father's friend. I know little
Eric is safe as long as you are here.'
'My dear child, your little brother is sur-
rounded with trusty friends and vassals, and
will be perfectly safe when I am gone.'
'Countess Sophy said,', added Olga more
boldly but still embarrassed, 'that you had
promised to stay as long-as long-as any one
'I -meant, it is true,' replied Jagellon also
somewhat perplexed, 'to have left the castle on
the same day as your coushi and my friend the
Lord of Wurbat. A messenger however has
just arrived with bad news which obliges me to
start at once. Your cousin Vladimir and my
lord of Wurbat leave in two days, and Count
and Countess Macovros will easily entertain
them for that short time. Really, my little
v ERIC NEEDS A FRIEND 67
lady, you will have nothing to fear and no
cause to trouble yourself either about the
guest who goes or the guests who stay behind.'
He did not know what .caused the child's
anxiety, and though he himself distrusted
Vladimir he did not imagine that the Count
had any immediate intention of injuring Eric.
He rather thought, as did some of the other
nobles, that what he intended to do in the end
was to deprive them one by one of their share
in the guardianship of the little Prince and to
make himself sole Regent. This they were
fully determined to prevent.
Jagellon stroked the little girl's hair and tried
to cheer her, but Olga became desperate.
'No,' she said,' it is not about entertaining
them. It is that I know Count Vladimir hates
Eric and wants to get rid of him that he may
be Prince himself. Mama. told me to take
care of Eric, and so I will, but I am too little
to fight my cousin, so I don't want you to go
while he is here.'
'But, my dear child,' answered Jagellon, now
really uneasy, 'even if your ideas were true,
which I do not think they are, Count Radul is
quite able to protect the little Prince, and
68 ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
he and all his men-at-arms are devoted, to
Olga felt rather ashamed of appearing to
mistrust so good and true a friend as Count
Radul; at the same time, though she was too
young either to understand her own fears or to
explain them, she felt that once inside the
castle, Count Vladimir was almost as powerful
as her brother's proper guardian, and a great
deal more cunning and unscrupulous. How-
ever, words failed her, and she remained silent,
while the Hospodar went on :
Be sure, Princess Olga, if you need help,
which I hope and believe you will not, you
have only to send for me, and I will come at
once and defend you and your brother to the
very utmost of my power.'
The words of Jagellon recalled to the child's
mind those of Red Cap. He too had promised
help if she should send to him-he had told
her how to send. How should she send for the
Hospodar if she needed him ? Mustard might
be a messenger if he could find the way. He
was so clever that perhaps he knew where
Dorzyn lay, but if he got there he would be
unable to speak. These thoughts flashed
v ERIC NEEDS A FRIEND 69
quickly through her mind, and then she
'Perhaps I could not write to you. I might
not be able to get paper. Will you give me
something, or tell me of something which I could
send as a token ?'
SThe Hospodar smiled and drew a ring off
'You are a very determined little lady, and
very'thoughtful for your age. Here is a ring
which your father gave me. Keep it till we
meet again, and meantime, if you want me, send
it to me.'
Thank you very much; here they come.
Please don't say I asked you,' said Olga greatly
confused; and hiding the ring in her dress she
hastened to join Countess Sophy Macovros who
at that minute came out of the castle accom-
panied by Nania carrying Eric, and followed by
Count Radul and Count Vladimir.
All the usual ceremonies of farewell were
carried out, warm good wishes were interchanged
between Count Vladimir, Count Radul, and the
Hospodar of Dorzyn. Jagellon, before he
went, once more kissed the hand of the baby
Eric, and swore to be faithful to him and to
70 ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
defend him against every foe; then turning to
Olga he added : And you, Princess Olga, shall
always find me a true knight ready to come at
your call.' So saying he leapt into his saddle,
and having received the stirrup-cup from the
hands of Radul, he bowed low to all present
and clattered away followed by his gallant
So, cousin Olga, you have enlisted a champion
in your service?' said Count Vladimir in a
sneering tone as he watched the Hospodar's
departure with an air of grim satisfaction.
'I like the Hospodar very much, cousin
Vladimir,' replied Olga timidly, 'but I don't
exactly know that he is my champion.'
You don't want one, my dear, so long as I
am here,' was the answer. 'Well, Prince Eric,
and what have you to say to your kinsman ?'
The constant efforts of Count and Countess
Macovros, united to those of the nurse, had
taught Eric that Vladimir was a person to be
treated with respect, and he held out his hand
with much dignity, though without the merry
smile with which the little Prince was accustomed
to greet his favourites.
'So we are becoming better acquainted, are
v ERIC NEEDS A FRIEND 71
we ? You had better take him indoors, nurse;
evening is drawing in.'
It is quite warm as yet, my lord,' returned
Nania, somewhat offended by what she regarded
as an interference with her department.
Countess Sophy, however, made her a hasty
sign to retire, and she carried the Prince into
the castle, accompanied by Olga, who was be-
ginning to feel tired after all the events and
excitements of the afternoon. The Countess
soon followed their example, and Count Vladi-
mir, Count Macovros, and the Lord of Wurbat
were left standing in the courtyard.
'I think, Count,' said Wurbat, 'that you*
propose returning to Gravenia the day after
'Probably, my lord,' answered Vladimir. 'I
am only waiting to see that my little cousin is
comfortably settled in all respects, and then I
shall leave him in the hands of our good
Radul here, and return to look after my own
Then we can ride together for the first two
'Certainly, my lord. Shall we arrange to have
our trains ready at daybreak ?'
72 ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA CHAP.
That will suit me exactly. I think of going
for a stroll this fine evening; will you accom-
If your lordship will excuse me, I have some
letters to write, as a messenger has just ridden
in post from Gravenia.'
'Then I will not interrupt you. Count
Macovros, will you come with me?'
Count Radul readily agreed, and he and the
Lord of Wurbat walked away together.
Vladimir waited till they were out of sight,
and then shouted impatiently, Nicholas !'
The squire appeared immediately from some
dim recess of the arcade, and asked, What is
your lordship's pleasure ?'
So far so good. We have got rid of this old
fool of a Hospodar, with his ancestral friendship
and all the rest of it. I suppose there is enough
work awaiting him in Dorzyn to occupy him for
at least a fortnight ?'
'Quite, my lord. Companies of raiders from
Gravenia have entered his territory in six or
seven different places. Your lordship's do-
minions will benefit greatly by their departure
-almost as much as you will benefit by the
departure of the Hospodar from Lorlonia. On
v ERIC NEEDS A FRIEND 73
all accounts it is better that he should be at
home and looking after his own subjects.'
Good. Now are our bands ready in the neigh-
bourhood of the south-western guard house ?'
'There are five bands of fifty men each, my
lord, two hundred and fifty in all, hidden
among the low hills and the woods just outside
the gateway. You have only to persuade the
Lord of Wurbat and his men to ride on a little
in advance of your own followers. Make some
excuse for their lingering behind, and see that
the drawbridge is kept down and the portcullis
raised in readiness for their departure. When
they reach the gateway they must engage the
attention of the guard, and the first fifty will be
on the bridge and secure the passage before the
defenders realise what has happened. This once
achieved nothing can prevent the entrance of
the other four bands. It would be well to get
Wurbat and his men out of sight before any
skirmish begins, as the longer we can prevent
news' from spreading in the neighbourhood,
the more time will Sir Witold have to play
his part, and the firmer will be your lordship's
hold on the castle and lands of Lorlonia.'
THE PLOT SUCCEEDS
THE portcullis was raised and the drawbridge
lowered as the Lord of Wurbat and his ten
followers rode out of the south-western gateway
Count Vladimir rode with them, accompanied
by Nicholas and two men-at-arms. As he crossed
the drawbridge he shouted to the warders,
'Do not raise the bridge or drop the gate for
a few minutes. The rest of my band are
following. They were delayed by an accident
to the baggage mules ; but my Lord of Wurbat
and I wanted to push on, and the others will be
'Very good, my Lord Count,' replied the
head warder and as the last man-at-arms
THE PLOT SUCCEEDS
crossed the bridge, he added aside to his
companions, 'We shall be glad enough to see
the last of that rascally crew. Let them make
good speed back to Gravenia-Lorlonia wants
none of them.'
True enough,' answered one of the men,
'they are boasting braggarts, always ready to
quarrel, and as for that Nicholas with his hang-
dog face, if he does not mean mischief to our
young Prince, I'll roast my pike and eat it.'
Better keep it cool to thrust into the squire's
body methinks,' retorted another; and they
continued their comments on Vladimir's band for
some minutes, looking meanwhile alternately
towards the castle to see if the laggards were
coming, and towards the retreating forms of the
advance guard who were presently out of sight.
'Come,' said the head warder, 'if those
fellows don't make haste, I shall have this bridge
up again. These are not days in which to risk
Here they are,' cried a soldier; and sure
enough, the remainder of the troop came
trotting along the path at the foot of the
'Make haste,' shouted the head warder, and
76 ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA CHAP.
all the others turned to look at them, thus
failing to observe that armed men were ap-
proaching slowly on either hand, keeping close
to the outside of the wall.
SThe foremost of the band from within just
reached the gate, when a dozen of the assailants
from without sprang forward and took posses-
sion of the bridge.
The head warder instantly gave orders to
lower the portcullis, and at the same time
wound his horn as a signal to the guards at the
other towers. It was too late. Vladimir's men
within the gateway had seized the warders who
attempted to obey the orders given, and though
these struggled gallantly and nearly succeeded in
freeing themselves, the delay gave time for the
attacking party to swarm across the bridge, and
their numbers, which were increased every
minute by fresh arrivals, soon overpowered the
scanty guard, and enabled the first comers to
keep the entrance open till the whole two
hundred and fifty traitors who had been
concealed in the neighbourhood were inside the
The other garrisons who had started on hear-
ing the signal, which was passed from tower
vi THE PLOT SUCCEEDS 77
to tower, arrived separately, some half-dozen
men at a time, and were easily overcome by
their numerous and successful foes. Two or
three ran up to the castle, and caused the great
bell to be rung; Count Radul was soon on the
spot, only to be made prisoner like the rest.
One, more prudent than his fellows, perceived
what was happening, and instead of running
straight into the trap, set off at the top of his
speed to warn the inhabitants of the nearest
village, and thus to raise the country against the
treachery which threatened their prince.
Alas, his forethought was as vain as the
rash courage of his fellows He speedily en-
countered Vladimir, Nicholas, and their two
attendants, who had contrived at the first halt
to excuse themselves to their companions by
saying that they must wait to see the rest of
their train come up, and would then ride on and
overtake the Lord of Wurbat. Instead of
doing so they departed post haste for Lorlonia
and soon met the solitary fugitive. He refused
to tell his errand, but they recognized his livery,
arrested him on suspicion, put him on a horse
behind one of the men-at-arms, and rode still
more rapidly back to the scene of action.
ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
Meantime the women and children at the
Palace had been thrown into a state of terror.
They had seen Vladimir depart with a feeling of
great relief, and Olga had run with Irene and
Xenia to her old post of observation at the end
of the highest terrace to watch the troup as
they reached the bottom of the hill and turned
into the broad road below.
'Don't they look pretty, Irene ?' cried the
little girl. 'The spears shine so brightly and
the plumes dance up and down in the sunlight.'
'They do indeed,' replied the young lady.
'See, there is the Lord of Wurbat, and Count
Vladimir rides at his right hand.'
'That is the prettiest and the pleasantest
sight which I have seen for many a long day,'
added Xenia. Good-bye, my lord, and peace be
with you ; you leave more peace behind you
than we could ever enjoy while you were here !'
'Do take care, Xenia,' said the more cautious
Irene, 'you never know who may hear you.'
'Count Vladimir cannot hear me, nor
Nicholas either, they are much too far off,
thank goodness !'
'Yes, but all their people have not gone yet.
Something went wrong with the baggage mules,
~ "- III
"OLGA HAD RUN
WITH IRENE AND
XENIATO HER OLD
POST OF OBSERVA-
THE PLOT SUCCEEDS
and the men who escort them will pass in a few
Will they ?' said Olga ; 'then let us stay
here a little longer. I like to see men and
horses winding through the trees.'
Her companions agreed ; and while they
waited began to talk of their future plans.
Irene was to return to her mother in a few
weeks ; Xenia, on the other hand, was an orphan,
and her uncle, who was also her guardian, had
agreed to leave her for the present to act as
friend and governess to Olga under the superin-
tendence of Countess Sophy.
I am so glad that you will stay, Xenia,' said
the little girl, after they had discussed the
matter for a few minutes, but we shall miss
Irene, shall we not ? '
'Yes, dear, and I shall be sorry to go, though
very glad to see my mother again.'
The conversation went on in this manner till
a fresh clatter of hoofs and sound of voices
announced the passing of the baggage train.
'They have all passed now,' said Xenia,
'so we may as well go and gather flowers.'
The three girls were moving slowly along
the terrace, when they were startled by the
80 ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA CHAP.
sudden sound of a horn, followed by a loud and
confused noise of voices, and the clashing of
pikes, together with the occasional firing of a
musket, or arquebus.
What is that ? Irene, Xenia, what can that
be ?' cried poor little Olga, whose fears returned
twofold after the late relief of her cousin's
'Some enemy must have attacked the gate-
house, let us run and warn Count Radul,'
replied Irene ; and all three ran as fast as they
could to the castle. Count Radul seized his
sword and was on his way to the scene of
action before the messengers from the other
towers had time to reach the castle, but, as
already said, he was quickly overpowered by
Countess Sophy's first thought was for Eric,
and she bade Nania prepare a few clothes for
him and Olga in case flight were necessary and
possible. All the men from the guard-house
adjoining the castle had followed Count Radul,
so none remained to act as immediate protectors
except the seneschal, a few old men like himself,
and the pages who, though anxious to join in
the fray, had been sternly ordered back by the
vi THE PLOT SUCCEEDS 81
Master of the Household. Olga thought of
Mustard and had some, vague idea of running
to look for him, but Countess Sophy bade her
remain in the house, and she herself was
unwilling to leave her brother until she knew
what had really taken place.
The frightened household were not long left
A warlike procession was soon seen winding
up the northern approach. First appeared two
hundred of Vladimir's soldiers four abreast,
holding their pikes erect and marching with an
air of triumph. Then: rode a single horseman,
proudly displaying the Vulture banner of
Gravenia. Behind him walked the men-at-
arms from the various guard-houses, deprived
of their weapons and with their hands tied
behind their backs. Then came four of Vladi-
mir's squires, add in their midst, a prisoner and
without his sword, though not bound, Countess
Sophy was horrified to see her husband.
Last of all rode the triumphant Vladimir with
a few of his special attendants. He had left the
remainder of his force to garrison the guard
'Shut the gates !' cried the seneschal when
,S2 ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA CHAP.
the first soldiers came. in sight; and the pages,
who were waiting in the courtyard, hastened to
obey his order, and swung to the heavy bronze
gates which generally stood open all day.
The seneschal locked them and with a low
bow handed the keys to Countess Sophy, who,
speechless with anxiety, was standing in the
arcade, and saw only too clearly that all
possibility of defence was over.
By this time the soldiers had ranged them-
selves in a double rank round the broad gravelled
terrace in front of the gates, and Vladimir riding
into the centre ordered them to bring forward
.the'prisoners. All told these were about sixty
men, besides Count Radul and two or-three
squires who attended him.
Count Radul,' said Vladimir in -a haughty
tone, 'what, do you mean by resisting with an
armed force the cousin of your Prince, his,
guardian and rightful heir ?'
'Count Vladimir,' replied Radul, when my
master's kinsman has asked for peaceable en-
trance into these walls I have at no time failed
to render him due honour. When I arrived
to-day at the south-western gateway I found
him with all these alien soldiers fighting and
THE PLOT SUCCEEDS
wounding the faithful servants of my Prince.
How could I do otherwise than oppose him ?'
'Stand forth, Andrew,' said Vladimir, ad-
dressing the leader of the first fifty men who
had violently seized the bridge. Give an
account of what passed at a gateway.'
'So please your noble lordship,' began An-
drew, who had been carefully taught by Nicholas,
'my men and I were waiting to greet our mates
who had been stopping here in the castle--'
he hesitated, and Nicholas -prompted him-
You came up to the bridge from outside,
anxious to meet them as they came out, eh ?'
'Yes-we called out to them.'
'You did nothing of the sort,' broke in the
head warder, unable to contain himself. 'So
please you, my lord, they jumped on to the
bridge, and seized our men--'
'Silence, fellow 'shouted Vladimir in a voice
of thunder. 'If I rightly understand you,
Andrew, you wanted to give a friendly and
peaceable welcome to your companions, af~d
these warders attacked you ard tried to prevent
your coming together?'
'Yes, my lord Count, that is it.'
'And you, Count Radul,' continued the self-
84 ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA CHAP.
made judge, turning again to his prisoner, 'having
arrived in the midst of the disturbance, instead
of quieting your men and inquiring into the
cause of their drawn swords and uncalled for
wrath, joined in the attack on my people. Had
not they had other friends in the neighbourhood
who were quietly waiting to act as my escort on
my way home, I know not how my poor fellows
might have suffered. This is, however, a for-
tunate event. I have long suspected, and I now
have full proof, that you are a traitor to the
princely house of Lorlonia. You desire to
prevent all my little cousin's kinsmen from
visiting him and his castle, and to keep him a
hostage in your own hands. Your wicked plots
shall, however, be frustrated. Men of Lorlonia,'
he continued, raising his voice and speaking to
the disarmed soldiers, as one of the Council of
Regency and next heir to the Principality, I
hereby depose Count Radul from the guardian-
ship of Prince Eric, and I will assume the charge
of the children of Lorlonia and this castle until
I can communicate with the rest of the council.
I do this at great cost to myself, as I have urgent
business in Gravenia, but my duty to my cousin
demands this sacrifice.
vi THE PLOT SUCCEEDS 85
'I now desire that you at once swear obedience
to me as guardian and Regent. If you do this
you shall be free ; if not, you remain prisoners.'
A low murmuring arose amongst the men
who were thus addressed. They were all per-
fectly faithful to Eric, but some of the younger
ones did not fully understand the dispute between
his guardians. They were aware that Vladimir
was the children's nearest relation, and had not
the same reasons for suspecting him as those
who knew him better.
Ivan the forester, however, who had taken his
share in the fray, was equal to the occasion. I
beg your lordship's pardon, my lord Count,' said
he,' but your lordship has forgotten that you
are not the next heir to Prince Eric. Ladies
have governed Lorlonia ere now. I trust our
little Prince will live, reign, marry, and have
children. If not Princess Olga will be Princess
Vladimir frowned darkly and would have
made an angry reply had not Nicholas bent from
his saddle and whispered to him. Restraining
himself with difficulty he answered, This is
beside the question. For the time being neither
Prince Eric nor Princess Olga is old enough to
86 ERIC, PRINCE OF LORLONIA
govern. I am guardian and Regent. Will you
or will you not swear obedience to me ? Go
round, Nicholas, and ask them one by one. Set
those who promise free, the others shall be
presently marched off to prison. We have no
time to dally with scruples.'
About half the men questioned swore and
were set at liberty, though their arms were not
restored to them. Ivan, the head warders of all
the towers, and their principal followers, refused,
and remained bound.
'Now for you, Count Radul. If I have your
oath you shall be a prisoner here on parole. If
not, there are dungeons at Gravenia, and one is
ready for your occupation.'
'My oath will never be given to any but my
lawful Prince,' was the quiet reply.
'I knew your obstinacy and did not much
expect it,' was the contemptuous answer. 'As
I remarked before I have no time to waste, and
I have not the slightest inclination to argue.
Your lordship will start on your journey at
daybreak to-morrow. One little point, however,
remains to be settled. It concerns my friend
Countess Macovros. I observe that that excel-
lent lady is holding the keys of the gates in her