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The King's Jackal   By: (1864-1916)

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The King's Jackal


The private terrace of the Hotel Grand Bretagne, at Tangier, was shaded by a great awning of red and green and yellow, and strewn with colored mats, and plants in pots, and wicker chairs. It reached out from the Kings apartments into the Garden of Palms, and was hidden by them on two sides, and showed from the third the blue waters of the Mediterranean and the great shadow of Gibraltar in the distance.

The Sultan of Morocco had given orders from Fez that the King of Messina, in spite of his incognito, should be treated during his stay in Tangier with the consideration due to his rank, so one half of the Hotel Grand Bretagne had been set aside for him and his suite, and two soldiers of the Bashaw's Guard sat outside of his door with drawn swords. They were answerable with their heads for the life and safety of the Sultan's guest, and as they could speak no language but their own, they made a visit to his Majesty more a matter of adventure than of etiquette.

Niccolas, the King's majordomo, stepped out upon the terrace and swept the Mediterranean with a field glass for the third time since sunrise. He lowered it, and turned doubtfully toward the two soldiers.

"The boat from Gibraltar has she arrived yet?" he asked.

The two ebony figures shook their heads stiffly, as though they resented this introduction of a foreign language, and continued to shake their heads as the servant addressed the same question to them in a succession of strange tongues.

"Well," said Colonel Erhaupt, briskly, as he followed Niccolas out upon the terrace, "has the boat arrived? And the launch from the yacht," he continued, "has it started for shore yet?"

The man pointed to where the yacht lay, a mile outside the harbor, and handed him the glass.

"It is but just now leaving the ship's side," he said. "But I cannot make out who comes in her. Ah, pardon," he added quickly, as he pointed to a stout elderly gentleman who walked rapidly toward them through the garden. "The Gibraltar boat must be in, sir. Here is Baron Barrat coming up the path."

Colonel Erhaupt gave an exclamation of satisfaction, and waved his hand to the newcomer in welcome.

"Go tell his Majesty," he said to the servant.

The man hesitated and bowed. "His Majesty still sleeps."

"Wake him," commanded Erhaupt. "Tell him I said to do so. Well, Baron," he cried, gayly, as he stepped forward, "welcome or are you welcome?" he added, with an uneasy laugh.

"I should be. I have succeeded," the other replied gruffly, as he brushed past him. "Where is the King?"

"He will be here in a moment. I have sent to wake him. And you have been successful? Good. I congratulate you. How far successful?"

The Baron threw himself into one of the wicker chairs, and clapped his hands impatiently for a servant. "Twelve thousand pounds in all," he replied. "That's more than he expected. It was like pulling teeth at first. I want some coffee at once," he said to the attendant, "and a bath. That boat reeked with Moors and cattle, and there was no wagon lit on the train from Madrid. I sat up all night, and played cards with that young Cellini. Have Madame Zara and Kalonay returned? I see the yacht in the harbor. Did she succeed?"

"We do not know; the boat only arrived at daybreak. They are probably on the launch that is coming in now."

As Barrat sipped his coffee and munched his rolls with the silent energy of a hungry man, the Colonel turned and strode up and down the terrace, pulling at his mustache and glancing sideways. When the Baron had lighted a cigarette and thrown himself back in his chair, Erhaupt halted and surveyed him in some anxiety.

"You have been gone over two weeks," he said. "I should like to see you accomplish as much in as short a time," growled the other. "You know Paris. You know how hard it is to get people to be serious there... Continue reading book >>

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