Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

free his hands, and in the effort had only rubbed the wrists raw and bleeding.

He turned his attention to his prison. The window, barred to keep people out, was entirely effective for the purpose of keeping him in; and, even if it had not been so, the court outside was a trap. He ran his eye along the rows of shelves covered with bottles and cans, and as he did so a memory flashed across his mind of his long-ago visit to the Château Gui. This closet then had been bare and empty, and surely, if his recollection served him, it had been the original pantry of the house before the new wing was built, and there had been a square hole in the wall for the purpose of passing dishes from the kitchen. This aperture he clearly remembered, and, although the cans and jars piled on the shelves totally hid the whitewashed wall, yet he was sure of the place. With a ray of hope he turned his back to the shelves, and painfully, using his tied fists, began to move the jars aside piece by piece. It occurred to him that this closet had prob

ably been stocked before the princess's arrival, and that therefore she might well be ignorant of any such opening. He had just begun this task when he heard steps in the passage outside, and he instantly flung himself on the floor again. The key turned, the door opened, and Claudia, bearing a tray, stood before him. Evidently she had not been to bed, for she wore the same gorgeous dress of the night before, embroidered gray satin and pearls at her throat. Her face was jaded and her eyes were red. uncertainly in the doorway.

She stopped

Hugh!" said

"I have saved your life, she, almost in a whisper. He made no an

swer.

"If you promise not to try to escape you may come out." Still he kept silence. "Won't you speak to me?" "There is nothing to say!"

"I begged your life-isn't that a little? You shall not be touched, war or no war."

To this he answered "Thank you" dryly enough, and she sighed heavily.

"Here is your breakfast." She set down the tray. "I will untie your hands so you can eat it."

He held them out to her in silence, and she undid the knots. Carnegie was hungry and ate heartily. The irony of the dainty tray, with its napkin and silver and porcelain, to say nothing of the food itself, made him smile.

"It is more like an invalid's fare than a prisoner's!" he remarked.

"I didn't want you to be starved.”

66

Carnegie wondered how his jailers came to permit this sort of thing, which was certainly not en règle. “I don't think you realize," said he, what an absurd and unnecessary affair you are mixed up in-futile and theatrical to the last degree. You have sacrificed a great deal, princess, to allow your friend d'Arcos a sight of papers which will not do him the least particle of good."

66

"Will you give me your parole?" she asked him piteously again; and in reply he turned his hands to her to be retied.

The princess's fingers trembled and were cold as they touched his, and she gave a little exclamation in undertone at sight of his raw wrists. To ease him she slipped the rope down to tie it in a fresh place, and he smiled. a little to himself as he felt her do this. Then he heard the door shut, the key turn, and the footsteps die away.

It took him just one minute to free his hands from Claudia's fetters. He found a bottle of sweet oil, and, breaking off the neck, rubbed his wrists with the contents. Then he flew like a tiger at the long rows of cans.

CHAPTER XV.

A HUNDRED YARDS DASH.

CARNEGIE counted upon an hour or two of solitude, but he did not intend to be caught unawares. He took off his coat and hung it over the keyhole, and he also half closed the shutters of the little window. Then he set to work, and in a very few minutes had laid bare a portion of the whitewashed wall behind the stores, only, it is true, to meet with disappointment. Could he have been mistaken? Or had he merely set to work upon the wrong shelf? Full of this doubt he recommenced operations on the next shelf below, for he realized that instinctively he had begun somewhat high up. At first he seemed doomed again to failure, but a second glance reassured him, and set his heart beating with hope. The surface of

« AnteriorContinuar »