Poor soul! I hope there may be nothing worse scored to my account. THE Constable of Zenda and James, Mr. Rassendyll's servant, sat at breakfast in the hunting-lodge. They were in the small room which was ordinarily used as the bedroom of the gentleman in attendance on the king: they chose it now because it commanded a view of the approach.
The man seemed to see Rudolf, for he broke into a quick trot. Mr. Rassendyll's position was critical; this fact alone accounts for the dangerous step into which he allowed himself to be forced. Here he was, a man unable to give account of himself, of remarkable appearance, and carrying a revolver, of which one barrel was discharged.
"But I hate waiting, and if the door is not open in two minutes, I shall arouse the good folk with a shot. You see? You quite see, don't you?" Again the barrel's motion pointed and explained Mr. Rassendyll's meaning. Under this powerful persuasion Bauer yielded.
Bauer had no wish to get into trouble with the police, and, moreover, he had intended nothing but a reconnaissance; he was therefore without any weapon, and he was a child in Rudolf's grasp. He had no alternative but to obey the suasion of Mr. Rassendyll's arm, and they two began to walk down the Konigstrasse.
Would the one hold both? With a great spasm of effort Rupert put it to the proof. The smile that bent Mr. Rassendyll's lips gave the answer. He could hold both, with one hand he could hold both: not for long, no, but for an instant. And then, in the instant, his left hand, free at last, shot to the breast of the count's coat.
To Sapt it seemed now as if they played some foolish game that was to end with the playing, now as if they obeyed some mysterious power which kept its great purpose hidden from its instruments. Mr. Rassendyll's servant moved and arranged and ordered all as deftly as he folded his master's clothes or stropped his master's razor. Old Sapt stopped him once as he went by.
Come, lad for our love and her honor! While he was alive I'd have killed you sooner than let you take it. He's dead. Now for our love and her honor, lad!" I do not know what thoughts passed in Mr. Rassendyll's mind. His face was set and rigid. He made no sign when Sapt finished, but stood as he was, motionless, for a long while. Then he slowly bent his head and looked down into the queen's eyes.
The project that had taken shape in the thoughts of Mr. Rassendyll's servant, and had inflamed Sapt's daring mind as the dropping of a spark kindles dry shavings, had suggested itself vaguely to more than one of us in Strelsau.
Even if he were victorious in the duel, and both did not die, yet the noise of the firearms would greatly decrease his chances of escape. Moreover, he was a noted swordsman, and conceived that he was Mr. Rassendyll's superior in that exercise. The steel offered him at once a better prospect for victory and more hope of a safe fight.
Rassendyll's servant, being informed of the summons, was at my elbow with a card of the trains from Strelsau to Zenda, without waiting for any order from me. I had talked to this man in the course of our journey, and discovered that he had been in the service of Lord Topham, formerly British Ambassador to the Court of Ruritania.