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My Friend the Chauffeur By A. M. Williamson Characters: 29515

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:03

I had heard travellers speak, and had read in books, of that mighty feat of engineering the road to Montenegro; but even so I was not prepared for the thrilling grandeur of that night drive in the mountains.

With a carriage and two horses, counting halts for rests we must have been seven good hours on the way to Cettinje; but my little twelve horse-power car worked with me heart and soul (I shall always believe now that she's got something of the sort, packed away in her engine), and we reached the lonely Montenegrin frontier, near the mountain-top, in not much over an hour after our start. I caught the glimmer of the white stones that mark the dividing line between Austrian ground and the brave little Principality, and knew what they must mean. Twenty minutes more saw us at the highest point of the stupendous road; and dipping for a flight downward, we arrived not long after in the cup-like plain where the first Montenegrin village showed a few lights. I stopped at a small inn, ordered brandy for the Countess (who was half dead with cold or terror of our wild race beside precipices) and inquired of the German-speaking landlord about the Prince's car.

Yes, a big red automobile had rushed by, much to the surprise of everyone, about an hour ago. No doubt it was bound for Cettinje; but there had been no news of it since.

We flashed on without waiting for further parley. It was a long way yet, but the car devoured the road as if she were starving. At last we saw a single light to the left, and then a bunch of lights huddled together in a mountain-ringed plain, half a mile or so beyond. To my annoyance I had to slacken speed for a flock of belated and bewildered sheep, just as we were nearing the first light, but in a moment we would have shot ahead again, had not my attention been caught by the sharp yelping of a little dog


It was not the defiant yap of an enemy to motors, but rather a glad welcome; and the thin shred of sound was curiously familiar. Instead of putting on speed, I stopped dead in the middle of the road.

"Whist! Airole, is that you?" I called.

In an instant a tiny black form was making wild springs at the car, trying to get in. It was Airole and no other.

"This is where they are," I said. "In that house, yonder. If it hadn't been for the dog, we'd have gone on, and-" It wasn't worth while to finish.

I drove to the side and stopped the engine. The Countess would go with me, of course, and it was better that she should; for she was the girl's aunt, and this was the pass her foolishness had brought her to.

Airole pattered before us, leaping at the shut door of a rough, two-story house of dark stone. I knocked; no one came, and I pounded again. If there had been no answer that time, I meant to try and break the door in with my shoulder, which has had some experience as a battering ram and perhaps those inside guessed at my intentions, for there followed a scrambling sound. A bolt was slipped back, and then a tall Montenegrin, belted and armed with knife and big revolver, blocked up the doorway.

I tried him in Italian. No use; he jabbered protests in Slavic, with a wife peeping curiously over his shoulder, as the Countess peeped over mine. Finally, to save time and somebody's blood, perhaps, I offered an Austrian note and it proved a passport. They let us go in; and entering, I heard Miss Destrey's voice raised in fear or anger, behind another closed door.

Then most of the blood in my body seemed to spring to my head, and I have no very distinct recollection of anything more, till I found that I had done to that second door what I'd meant to do to the first, and that Maida had run straight into my arms.

"My darling!" I heard myself exclaiming. I know that I held her tight against my heart for an instant, saying, "Thank Heaven!" that she seemed to have been mine for all the past and must belong to me for all the future. I know that she was sobbing a little, that she clung to me; and that then, remembering the man and what was owing him, I put her away to begin his punishment.

"You unspeakable ruffian!" I threw the words at him, and threw myself at the same time. I think we struggled for a few moments, but I am younger than he, as well as bigger, so it was not much credit to my prowess that I soon had my hand twisted in his collar and was shaking him as if he'd been a rat


It was the Countess who stopped the fun, by hurling herself between us, quite like the heroine of old-fashioned melodrama. "Oh, for my sake, for my sake!" she was wailing. "It wasn't his fault. Wait and let him have the chance to explain."

One more shake I gave, and threw him off, so that he staggered back against the wall.

"He threatened to shoot me at last," cried Maida.

"Shall I kill him?" I asked.

"No," she said trembling. "Let him go. You are here. I am safe."

The man stood and glared at us like an animal at bay. I saw his eyes dart from Maida to me, from me to the Countess, and rest on her as if begging something. And his hunted instinct was right. If there were hope left for him anywhere, it was with her


"Don't believe anything they say of me," he panted, dry-lipped. "Corramini tricked me by sending his wife's servant in your place, dressed in your things, wearing your motor-mask. She wouldn't speak. I didn't know the truth till I got here. I thought it was you I had run away with to Montenegro, hoping I might persuade you to marry me, when you were out of the way of your daughter, who hates me, and would ruin me with you if she could. I would have left Miss Destrey behind, if I could have hoped you'd come without her. Imagine my feelings when I found out I'd lost you! If I have frightened her it was in my blind rage against her and every one concerned in the trick. As for your chauffeur, he is not worth fighting, and as I am a gentleman, I do not even return the blows of one who is not-especially before ladies."

"Aunt Kathryn, you must not believe his falsehoods," cried Maida. "If you do-if you let yourself care for him-he will spoil your life."

The Countess petulantly stopped her ears. "I won't listen to you," was her answer. "I knew there had been trickery of some sort, and you may as well save your breath, for whatever you say I will believe nothing against the man I love."

With that she took her fingers from her ears, and held out both hands to Dalmar-Kalm. He ran to take them, and pressed his lips ardently first upon one, then the other plump cushion of dimpled satin.

Disgusted with this exhibition of a woman's folly, while I pitied it, I could look no more, but turned to Maida.

"Will you let me take you away?" was all that my lips said, but my eyes said more, in memory of that first moment of our meeting, which was, please God, to influence our whole future-hers and mine.

"Yes," she answered."But-I can't leave here without Aunt Kathryn."

"You must go with Miss Destrey, Countess," I insisted. "Whatever you may decide later in regard to Prince Dalmar-Kalm, in any case you must go with your niece and me to stop at an hotel in Cettinje, for the night."

The man would not let go her hand. "Promise me you will not leave Montenegro till you are my wife," he begged. "If you do, I feel I shall lose you for ever."

"I'll do my best," faltered the lady, as a lady should, I suppose, who feels herself a heroine of romance. I could almost have respected that scoundrel for his diplomacy. His motto was, "Get what you want, or if you can't, take what you can;" and he was living up to it, playing up to it before an audience as no other man I ever saw could or would. He didn't seem to care what we thought of him, now that he was gaining his point. But when fatty degeneration of the soul sets in, there is room for little real pride in a man's breast.

"You will not allow yourself to be prejudiced against me?" he went on.

"Never," vowed the Countess. "No one had better try it."

"I will not try after to-night, if what I have to tell doesn't change your mind," said Maida. "But, just this once-"


"Very well then, I will say nothing except-"

"Be careful!"

"Oh," and the girl turned imploringly to me, "take us somewhere, so that I can talk to her alone."

"There's said to be a good enough hotel in Cettinje. I'll take you both there," I ventured.

"Come and see me early-early, Prince," said the Countess.

"Yes. But I am not 'Prince' to you now. I am 'Otto.'"

"Otto, then."

* * *

So I got them away, leaving the man behind, to his own devices, and at the door I had the joy of wrapping Maida in my big coat. How glad I was that I had brought it! I drove them to a hotel in the place at the end of the long main street, and when the Countess had hurried ostentatiously off to her room, that no nefarious attempts might be made upon her resolution. She and I stood for a moment hand in hand, in the dim hall.

"You are mine?" I asked.

"Are you sure you want me?"

"I've been sure of that-too sure for my peace of mind since the first day I saw your dear face-the loveliest on earth. But I never thought to have you. I never thought that I would have a right to ask, for I'm poor-horribly poor."

"Oh, as if that mattered!"

"I know it doesn't now, for this that's happened has given us to each other. I'll work hard and make money. Nothing can part us-I couldn't bear it. But it seems too good to be true. Is it possible you care for me?"

"I think I've cared-ever since the first few days. I'd never guessed that I would meet a man like you. But oh, I did not mean to marry any man."

"I know, darling. I know what you'd planned. I lay awake nights over it, wondering if, beggar as I was, I couldn't snatch you from that cold future. But I shouldn't have thought I had the right if this thunderbolt hadn't struck me."

"As Aunt Kathryn-poor Aunt Kathryn!-is always saying, 'It must have been meant.' I never promised that-that I would join the Sisters, you know. I suppose this is why my father would have me go abroad when I came of age. He was afraid I might make up my mind before I had-found my heart."

"Have you found it now-for sure?"

"No. I-I've lost it."

"Angel! But you've got mine instead. You won't mind marrying a beggar and being a beggaress?"

The adorable creature laughed. "I shall love it," she said. There was no one in the hall except Airole, and the shadows were asleep-so I kissed her: and knew why I had been born. I'd often wondered, but I never will again.

* * *

We had a fierce tussle with the Countess to prevent her stopping in Montenegro and marrying her Prince there and then, as soon as might be. The truth was, and she owned it, that she was afraid to face Beechy till she had been made irrevocably a Princess. But finally we prevailed, almost by force, and tore the poor lady from her lover, who protested that he would follow, were it to the world's end. I believed he would, too, for he had threatened to be the last man in Maida's world; the Countess was now the last woman in his, and he would hold on to her and her money as a drowning man grasps at a substantial spar.

I shall never forget that drive down from the mountain land where a King rode to fetch a fairy bride


At Cattaro we took the fishing boat which had carried me yesterday; and I think the sailor-men realized, when they saw what I had brought back, that I wasn't a madman after all.

Then the spin from Castelnuovo to Ragusa that I had taken in such a different mood fifteen hours before. And at Ragusa, Beechy, still pale and shaken, springing up from her sofa to meet Maida and me as we opened the door.

Ralph sprang up too, and his chair had been drawn so close to her sofa that the rush of her white wrapper-or whatever it was-upset it.

"Where's Mamma?" came the first question, as was natural.

"She's gone to her room, and we're to talk to you before she sees you," said Maida. "Oh Beechy, you must be good to her; she's miserable."

Then we told the story, preparing Beechy for her mother's decision, and I expected hysterics. But she neither laughed nor cried. She only sat still, looking curiously guilty and meek.

"Isn't it dreadful? But I couldn't do anything," said Maida. "He is a wicked man-you don't know yet how wicked. He got me up to Montenegro by a horrid pretence, and when I wouldn't promise to marry him at once he tried arguments for about an hour, then locked the door of a room in the house where we were because his motor broke down, and threatened to shoot me. I don't know if he really would. Perhaps not. But anyway, Mr. Barrymore saved me. He came just then and burst the door open."

"It's all my fault from beginning to end!" broke out Beechy, tragically. "I confessed to Sir Ralph yesterday, when I was only worried for fear something might happen, but now it has happened, I'll confess to you, too. I got afraid Mamma would really marry the Prince-oh, but that wasn't the way it began! Just for fun, long ago, when we first started, I let him pump me-it was great fun then-and told him how rich Mamma was, and would be, even if she married again. I thought it would be such larks to watch his game, and so it was for a while, till I was in an awful stew for fear I'd gone too far and couldn't stop things. I was ready then to do something desperate rather than find myself saddled with that Prince for my step-father. So I sacrificed you."

"I don't see-" Maida began; but Beechy cut her short.

"Why, when we went to that Sisterhood of yours, I overheard the Mother Superior, or whatever you call her, confiding to Mamma that you were a tremendous heiress, that you didn't quite know how rich you were yourself, and wouldn't be told till you were safely back from Europe. It was a secret, and I hadn't any business to know. But I let it out to the Prince, when I was in such a state about him and Mamma, in Bellagio. He went for you at once, as I knew he would-but what's the matter, Mr. Barrymore? It isn't for you to be angry with me. It's for Maida."

"I'm not angry with you, but with myself," I said. And then for a minute I forgot Ralph and Beechy, and remembered only Maida. "Don't think I knew," I said. "If I had, I wouldn't-"

"Oh, don't say you wouldn't. I love to feel you had to," the Angel cried. "I hold you to your word, oh, with all my heart in my right to you. Beechy, your Chauffeulier and I-are engaged."

"There!" the child exclaimed, with a look at Ralph I couldn't fathom. "Didn't I tell you so?"

"Well, it doesn't matter now, does it?" was his retort. "How shall I feel if you don't wish Miss Destrey your best wishes?"

"Oh, I do, I do," exclaimed the strange

child. "And I congratulate the Chauffeulier. But he must do some congratulating too. I'm going to put up my hair, come out in a long dress, and be engaged to Sir Ralph."

Maida's great eyes were greater than ever. "Beechy!" she protested. "You aren't fourteen!"

"No, I know I'm not; but I'm seventeen. And when I told Ralph that, he proposed at once. You see he's been my father confessor ever since we've been on this trip, so he knows all that's best and worst of me; and I do think we shall have real fun when we're married. I told Mamma I'd have no Princes on my ranch, and I won't. But if she's fool enough to take that man, after all, she and I can visit each other's ranches after this, and we'll be all right. Mine's going to be in England or Scotland in summer, and in winter I'm to live with Félicité and the duck. Oh, I shall be happy, and so will Ralph, I hope. But I never thought a good democrat like Papa's daughter would go and marry a man with a title."

"A mere baronet. It needn't go against the grain much," remarked Sir Ralph. "Think how much worse it is for your poor cousin!"


"To marry a 'real live lord,' who will some day be a marquis."

"Oh!" exclaimed Beechy. "She who said she would like to teach other American girls a lesson."

"I didn't know," Maida faltered.

"What?" asked Ralph. "You didn't tell her?"

"I forgot all about it," I said. "But Maida, dearest, it doesn't matter. I-"

"Nothing matters but you," she said.

"And you," I added.


* * *

Good Fiction Worth Reading.

A series of romances containing several of the old favorites in the field of historical fiction, replete with powerful romances of love and diplomacy that excel in thrilling and absorbing interest.

* * *

WINDSOR CASTLE. A Historical Romance of the Reign of Henry VIII. Catharine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. By Wm. Harrison Ainsworth. Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by George Cruikshank. Price, $1.00.

"Windsor Castle" is the story of Henry VIII., Catharine, and Anne Boleyn. "Bluff King Hal," although a well-loved monarch, was none too good a one in many ways. Of all his selfishness and unwarrantable acts, none was more discreditable than his divorce from Catharine, and his marriage to the beautiful Anne Boleyn. The King's love was as brief as it was vehement. Jane Seymour, waiting maid on the Queen, attracted him, and Anne Boleyn was forced to the block to make room for her successor. This romance is one of extreme interest to all readers.

HORSESHOE ROBINSON. A tale of the Tory Ascendency in South Carolina in 1780. By John P. Kennedy. Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by J. Watson Davis. Price, $1.00.

Among the old favorites in the field of what is known as historical fiction, there are none which appeal to a larger number of Americans than Horseshoe Robinson, and this because it is the only story which depicts with fidelity to the facts the heroic efforts of the colonists in South Carolina to defend their homes against the brutal oppression of the British under such leaders as Cornwallis and Tarleton.

The reader is charmed with the story of love which forms the thread of the tale, and then impressed with the wealth of detail concerning those times. The picture of the manifold sufferings of the people, is never overdrawn, but painted faithfully and honestly by one who spared neither time nor labor in his efforts to present in this charming love story all that price in blood and tears which the Carolinians paid as their share in the winning of the republic.

Take it all in all, "Horseshoe Robinson" is a work which should be found on every book-shelf, not only because it is a most entertaining story, but because of the wealth of valuable information concerning the colonists which it contains. That it has been brought out once more, well illustrated, is something which will give pleasure to thousands who have long desired an opportunity to read the story again, and to the many who have tried vainly in these latter days to procure a copy that they might read it for the first time.

THE PEARL OF ORR'S ISLAND. A story of the Coast of Maine. By Harriet Beecher Stowe. Cloth, 12mo. Illustrated. Price, $1.00.

Written prior to 1862, the "Pearl of Orr's Island" is ever new; a book filled with delicate fancies, such as seemingly array themselves anew each time one reads them. One sees the "sea like an unbroken mirror all around the pine-girt, lonely shores of Orr's Island," and straightway comes "the heavy, hollow moan of the surf on the beach, like the wild, angry howl of some savage animal."

Who can read of the beginning of that sweet life, named Mara, which came into this world under the very shadow of the Death angel's wings, without having an intense desire to know how the premature bud blossomed? Again and again one lingers over the descriptions of the character of that baby boy Moses, who came through the tempest, amid the angry billows, pillowed on his dead mother's breast.

There is no more faithful portrayal of New England life than that which Mrs. Stowe gives in "The Pearl of Orr's Island."

* * *

GUY FAWKES. A Romance of the Gunpowder Treason. By Wm. Harrison Ainsworth. Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by George Cruikshank. Price, $1.00.

The "Gunpowder Plot" was a modest attempt to blow up Parliament, the King and his Counsellors. James of Scotland, then King of England, was weak-minded and extravagant. He hit upon the efficient scheme of extorting money from the people by imposing taxes on the Catholics. In their natural resentment to this extortion, a handful of bold spirits concluded to overthrow the government. Finally the plotters were arrested, and the King put to torture Guy Fawkes and the other prisoners with royal vigor. A very intense love story runs through the entire romance.

THE SPIRIT OF THE BORDER. A Romance of the Early Settlers in the Ohio Valley. By Zane Grey. Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by J. Watson Davis. Price, $1.00.

A book rather out of the ordinary is this "Spirit of the Border." The main thread of the story has to do with the work of the Moravian missionaries in the Ohio Valley. Incidentally the reader is given details of the frontier life of those hardy pioneers who broke the wilderness for the planting of this great nation. Chief among these, as a matter of course, is Lewis Wetzel, one of the most peculiar, and at the same time the most admirable of all the brave men who spent their lives battling with the savage foe, that others might dwell in comparative security.

Details of the establishment and destruction of the Moravian "Village of Peace" are given at some length, and with minute description. The efforts to Christianize the Indians are described as they never have been before, and the author has depicted the characters of the leaders of the several Indian tribes with great care, which of itself will be of interest to the student.

By no means least among the charms of the story are the vivid word-pictures of the thrilling adventures, and the intense paintings of the beauties of nature, as seen in the almost unbroken forests.

It is the spirit of the frontier which is described, and one can by it, perhaps, the better understand why men, and women, too, willingly braved every privation and danger that the westward progress of the star of empire might be the more certain and rapid. A love story, simple and tender, runs through the book.

RICHELIEU. A tale of France in the reign of King Louis XIII. By G. P. R. James. Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by J. Watson Davis. Price, $1.00.

In 1829 Mr. James published his first romance, "Richelieu," and was recognized at once as one of the masters of the craft.

In this book he laid the story during those later days of the great cardinal's life, when his power was beginning to wane, but while it was yet sufficiently strong to permit now and then of volcanic outbursts which overwhelmed foes and carried friends to the topmost wave of prosperity. One of the most striking portions of the story is that of Cinq Mar's conspiracy; the method of conducting criminal cases, and the political trickery resorted to by royal favorites, affording a better insight into the statecraft of that day than can be had even by an exhaustive study of history. It is a powerful romance of love and diplomacy, and in point of thrilling and absorbing interest has never been excelled.

* * *

DARNLEY. A Romance of the times of Henry VIII. and Cardinal Wolsey. By G. P. R. James. Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by J. Watson Davis. Price, $1.00.

In point of publication, "Darnley" is that work by Mr. James which follows "Richelieu," and, if rumor can be credited, it was owing to the advice and insistence of our own Washington Irving that we are indebted primarily for the story, the young author questioning whether he could properly paint the differences in the characters of the two great cardinals. And it is not surprising that James should have hesitated; he had been eminently successful in giving to the world the portrait of Richelieu as a man, and by attempting a similar task with Wolsey as the theme, was much like tempting fortune. Irving insisted that "Darnley" came naturally in sequence, and this opinion being supported by Sir Walter Scott, the author set about the work.

As a historical romance "Darnley" is a book that can be taken up pleasurably again and again, for there is about it that subtle charm which those who are strangers to the works of G. P. R. James have claimed was only to be imparted by Dumas.

If there was nothing more about the work to attract especial attention, the account of the meetings of the kings on the historic "field of the cloth of gold" would entitle the story to the most favorable consideration of every reader.

There is really but little pure romance in this story, for the author has taken care to having entertained the tender passion one for another, and he succeeds in making such lovers as all the world must love.

CAPTAIN BRAND, OF THE SCHOONER CENTIPEDE. By Lieut. Henry A. Wise, U.S.N. (Harry Gringo). Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by J. Watson Davis. Price, $1.00.

The re-publication of this story will please those lovers of sea yarns who delight in so much of the salty flavor of the ocean as can come through the medium of a printed page, for never has a story of the sea and those "who go down in ships" been written by one more familiar with the scenes depicted.

The one book of this gifted author which is best remembered, and which will be read with pleasure for many years to come, is "Captain Brand," who, as the author states on his title page, was a "pirate of eminence in the West Indies." As a sea story pure and simple, "Captain Brand" has never been excelled, and as a story of piratical life, told without the usual embellishments of blood and thunder, it has no equal.

NICK OF THE WOODS. A story of the Early Settlers of Kentucky. By Robert Montgomery Bird. Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by J. Watson Davis. Price, $1.00.

This most popular novel and thrilling story of early frontier life in Kentucky was originally published in the year 1837. The novel, long out of print, had in its day a phenomenal sale, for its realistic presentation of Indian and frontier life in the early days of settlement in the South, narrated in the tale with all the art of a practiced writer. A very charming love romance runs through the story. This new and tasteful edition of "Nick of the Woods" will be certain to make many new admirers for this enchanting story from Dr. Bird's clever and versatile pen.

* * *

A COLONIAL FREE-LANCE. A story of American Colonial Times. By Chauncey C. Hotchkiss. Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by J. Watson Davis. Price, $1.00.

A book that appeals to Americans as a vivid picture of Revolutionary scenes. The story is a strong one, a thrilling one. It causes the true American to flush with excitement, to devour chapter after chapter, until the eyes smart, and it fairly smokes with patriotism. The love story is a singularly charming idyl.

THE TOWER OF LONDON. A Historical Romance of the Times of Lady Jane Grey and Mary Tudor. By Wm. Harrison Ainsworth. Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by George Cruikshank. Price, $1.00.

This romance of the "Tower of London" depicts the Tower as palace, prison and fortress, with many historical associations. The era is the middle of the sixteenth century.

The story is divided into two parts, one dealing with Lady Jane Grey, and the other with Mary Tudor as Queen, introducing other notable characters of the era. Throughout the story holds the interest of the reader in the midst of intrigue and conspiracy, extending considerably over a half a century.

IN DEFIANCE OF THE KING. A Romance of the American Revolution. By Chauncey C. Hotchkiss. Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by J. Watson Davis. Price, $1.00.

Mr. Hotchkiss has etched in burning words a story of Yankee bravery, and true love that thrills from beginning to end, with the spirit of the Revolution. The heart beats quickly, and we feel ourselves taking a part in the exciting scenes described. His whole story is so absorbing that you will sit up far into the night to finish it. As a love romance it is charming.

GARTHOWEN. A story of a Welsh Homestead. By Allen Raine. Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by J. Watson Davis. Price, $1.00.

"This is a little idyl of humble life and enduring love, laid bare before us, very real and pure, which in its telling shows us some strong points of Welsh character-the pride, the hasty temper, the quick dying out of wrath.... We call this a well-written story, interesting alike through its romance and its glimpses into another life than ours. A delightful and clever picture of Welsh village life. The result is excellent."-Detroit Free Press.

MIFANWY. The story of a Welsh Singer. By Allan Raine. Cloth, 12mo. with four illustrations by J. Watson Davis. Price, $1.00.

"This is a love story, simple, tender and pretty as one would care to read. The action throughout is brisk and pleasing; the characters, it is apparent at once, are as true to life as though the author had known them all personally. Simple in all its situations, the story is worked up in that touching and quaint strain which never grows wearisome, no matter how often the lights and shadows of love are introduced. It rings true, and does not tax the imagination."-Boston Herald.

* * *

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the publishers, A. L. BURT COMPANY, 52-58 Duane St., New York.

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