Long Live the King HTML version
At The Inn
The Countess Loschek was on her way across the border. The arrangements were not of
her making. Her plan, which had been to go afoot across the mountain to the town of Ar-
on-ar, and there to hire a motor, had been altered by the arrival at the castle, shortly after
the permission was given, of a machine. So short an interval, indeed, had elapsed that she
concluded, with reason, that this car now placed at her disposal was the one which had
brought that permission.
"The matter of passports for the border is arranged, madame," Black Humbert told her.
"I have my own passports," she said proudly.
"They will not be necessary."
"I will have this interview at my destination alone; or not at all."
He drew himself to his great height and regarded her with cold eyes. "As you wish," he
said. "But it is probably not necessary to remind madame that, whatever is discussed at
this meeting, no word must be mentioned of the Committee, or its plans."
Although he made no threat, she had shivered. No, there must be no word of the
Committee, or of the terror that drove her to Karl. For, if the worst happened, if he failed
her, and she must do the thing they had set her to do, Karl must never know. That card
she must play alone.
So she was not even to use her own passports! Making her hasty preparations, again the
Countess marveled. Was there no limit to the powers of the Committee of Ten?
Apparently the whole machinery of the Government was theirs to command. Who were
they, these men who had sat there immobile behind their masks? Did she meet any of
them daily in the Palace? Were the eyes that had regarded her with unfriendly steadiness
that night in the catacombs, eyes that smiled at her day by day, in the very halls of the
King? Had any of those shrouded and menacing figures bent over her hand with mocking
suavity? She wondered.
A hasty preparation at the last it was, indeed, but a careful toilet had preceded it. Now
that she was about to see Karl again, after months of separation, he must find no flaw in
her. She searched her mirror for the ravages of the past few days, and found them. Yet,
appraising herself with cold eyes, she felt she was still beautiful. The shadows about her
eyes did not dim them.
Everything hung on the result of her visit. If Karl persisted, if he would marry Hedwig in
spite of the trouble it would precipitate, then indeed she was lost. If, on the other hand, he
was inclined to peace, if her story of a tottering throne held his hand, she would defy the
Committee of Ten. Karl himself would help her to escape, might indeed hide her. It