The Guns of Europe/Chapter II
JOHN and Mr. Anson ate breakfast not long after daylight, as they expected to take an early train for Prague. They sat by a window in a small dining-room, overlooking pleasant gardens, and the Elbe, flowing just beyond the stretch of grass and flowers. The weather of the fickle valley had decided once again to be good. The young sunshine gilded the surface of the river and touched the gray buildings with gold. John was reluctant to leave it, but he had the anticipation, too, of fresh conquests, of new cities to be seen and explored.
"We'll be in Prague tonight," he said, "and it will be something very different, a place much more medieval than any we have yet visited."
"That's so," said Mr. Anson, and he trailed off into a long historical account of Prague, which would serve the double purpose of instructing John, and of exhibiting his own learning. The waiter, who could speak English, and with whom John, being young, did not hesitate to talk at times, was bent over, pouring coffee at his elbow.
"Pardon me, sir, but where did you say you were going?" he asked almost in a whisper.
"I shouldn't go there, sir, if I were you."
"You'll run into a war."
"What do you mean, Albrecht ?"
But Albrecht was already on the way to the kitchen, and he was so long in returning that John dismissed his words as merely the idle talk of a waiter who wished to entertain Herr Simmering's American guests. But when they went to an agency, according to their custom, to buy the railway tickets to Prague they were informed that it would be better for them not to go to the Czech capital. Both were astonished.
"Why shouldn't we go to Prague?" asked Mr. An- son with some indignation. "I've never heard that the Czechs object to the presence of Americans."
"They don't," replied the agent blandly. "You can go to Prague without any trouble, but I don't think you could leave it for a long time."
"And why not. Who would wish to hold us in Prague?"
"Nobody in particular. But there would be no passenger trains during the mobilization."
The eyes of John and Mr. Anson opened wider.
"Mobilization. What mobilization?" asked the elder.
"For the war that Austria-Hungary is going to make on Servia. The various army corps of Bohemia will be mobilized first"
"A war!" exclaimed Mr. Anson, "and not a word about it beforehand! Why this is a thunderbolt!"
John was thoughtful. The agent had made an amazing statement. It was, in truth a thunderbolt, as Mr. Anson had said, and it came out of a perfectly clear sky. He suddenly remembered little things, meaning nothing at the time, but acquiring significance now, the curious actions of Captain von Boehlen, the extraordnary demonstration at the return of the Saxon king to his palace, and the warning words of the waiter. He felt anew their loss in not knowing the language of the country and he gave voice to it.
"If we'd been able to speak German we might have had some hint of this," he said.
"We'll learn German, and be ready for it the next time we come," said Mr. Anson. "Now, John, in view of what we've heard, it would be unwise to go to Prague. Have you anything else in mind?"
"Let's go straight to Vienna. It's a great capital, and it has so much railroad communication that we could certainly get out of it, when we want to do so. Besides, I'm bound to see the Danube."
"And your uncle, the Senator, is there. Well, we'll chance it and go to Vienna. Can we get a train straight through to that city?"
"One leaves in an hour and is due at nine tonight," replied the agent to whom he had addressed the question.
They bought the tickets, and when the Vienna express left the station the two with their baggage were aboard it. John was by the window of their compartment, watching the beautiful country. He loved rivers and lakes and hills and mountains more than either ancient or modern cities, and as they sped along the valley of the Elbe, often at the very edge of the river, his mind and his eyes were content. His absorption in what was flitting by the window kept him for some time from noticing what was passing in the train. A low, but impatient exclamation from Mr. Anson first drew his attention.
"I never saw such crowding before in a European train," said he. "This compartment is marked for six, and already nine people have squeezed into it."
"That's so," said John, "and there are men sitting on their valises in the corridors. An enormously large proportion of them are officers, and I've noticed that great crowds are gathered at every station we pass. The Austrians seem to get a lot of excitement out of a war with a little country like Servia, in which the odds in their favor are at least twenty to one."
"The Austrians are a polite, agreeable, but volatile race," said Mr. Anson. "They are brave, but in war they are usually beaten. Napoleon made his early reputation out of the Austrians. They are—wait a minute, John, and I will read you more about them from this excellent book on Austria that I bought in Dresden."
"Excuse me this time; won't you, sir. We're coming to another station, and the crowd is bigger than ever. I want to see if they cheer us more than they did at the one a few miles back."
When they were beyond the town John turned his attention to the occupants of the compartment who had now increased to ten. They did not differ from ordinary travelers, but his attention was held longest by a young man, not much above his own age. He was handsome and blonde with a fine open face, and John put him down as a Viennese. He knew that the Viennese, although fellow Germans, were much unlike the Berliners, their souls being more akin to those of the French.
He could not remember at what station the young man had boarded the train, but it was evident that he was already weary, as his head rested heavily against the cushion and his eyelids drooped. "A good fellow, I'm sure," said John to himself. "I'd like to know him. I hope he's going on to Vienna with us."
They were well across the Austrian border now, and an officer came through the train, asking for passports. Luckily, John and Mr. Anson had provided themselves with such documents, not because they believed them of any value, but, as John said, they always ran true to form, and if any official paper were offered they meant to have their share of it. Now they found these documents, considered worthless hitherto, very useful. The Austrian officer smiled when he looked at them.
"Amerikanischer," he said, showing his large, even white teeth. "I haf a cousin leeving in New York."
"I've no doubt he's a fine fellow," said John, as the officer passed on, "and I wish I knew him. I believe it's true, Mr. Anson, that we Americans are the spoiled children of the world."
"It's so, John, although I object to the adjective, 'spoiled,' and it's so because we're far away, and mind our own business. Of course a democracy like ours does many foolish things, and often we make ourselves look ridiculous, but remember John, that we're an honest, straight-forward people, and it's foreign to all our nature to tread on the weak or cower before the strong."
John thought little of the words then, Mr. Anson preached so much—although he was to remember them later—because his attention was diverted to the young stranger whom the officer was now asking for his passport. The youth—he was little more than such—raised his head languidly from the cushion and without wholly lifting his weary lids produced his passport from the inside pocket of his coat. John could not keep from seeing the name on it, "August Wilhelm Kempner."
"Ah, from Vienna," said the examining officer, "and your occupation is described here as that of a painter."
"Yes," said the weary youth, "but I fear that it is no occupation at all in times like these."
As he spoke in German John did not understand him, but he knew that he was making some sort of explanation. He also saw that the officer was satisfied, as, smiling with the courtesy common to the Austrians, he passed into the corridor, and entered the next compartment. John, by and by, spoke to young Kempner, using good French—he remembered that many Austrians understood French—and the young man promptly replied but in broken and fragmentary French.
The two managed to carry on a more or less connected conversation, in which several people in the compartment joined freely with scraps of English, French and German, helping out one another, as best they could, and forming a friendly group. It seemed to John that something of the ordinary stiffness prevailing among strangers was relaxed. All of them, men and women, were moved by an unusual emotion and he readily attributed it to the war, although a great state like Austria-Hungary should not become unduly excited over a struggle with a little one like Servia.
But he let Mr. Anson do most of the talking for America, and by and by began to watch through the window again. The green of the rich country rested both eye and brain, and, a war between Austria-Hungary and Servia was not such a tremendous affair. There was always trouble down in that Balkan region. Trouble there, was far less remarkable than the absence of it. As for himself he wanted to see the Danube, which these careless Viennese persisted in calling the Donau, and the fine old capital which had twice turned back the Turks, but not Napoleon.
He soon saw that they would reach Vienna long after the destined time. The stops at every station were long and the waiting crowds thickened. "I did not know so many people were anxious to see our entry into the capital," said John.
"They are numerous, but not more so than we deserve," replied Mr. Anson in the same vein.
It was midnight when they reached Vienna. John bade farewell to Kempner, his companion of the journey to whom he had been strongly attracted, and after the slight customs examination drove away with Mr. Anson to a modest hotel.
It was so late and he was so tired that he thought he would sleep heavily. But sleep passed him by, and it was such a rare thing that John was troubled greatly. What was the matter with him? It could not be all those sounds of shouting and singing that were floating in at the open window! He had slept many a time at home, when the crowds were cheering continuously on election night.
The noise increased, although it was at least two in the morning. He had always heard that Vienna was a gay city, and never slept, but he had scarcely expected such an ebullient night life, and, his curiosity aroused, he rose and dressed.
From his seat at the window he heard the singing much more plainly, and far down the avenue he saw columns of marching men. He could not understand the words they sang, but he knew from the beat of the music that they were Austrian and German patriotic songs, and his curiosity increasing, he went down into the street, nodding to the dozing porter who stood at the door.
He found the streets thronged with a multitude constantly growing larger, and vivid with a pleased excitement. He had no doubt that it was the war with the little Balkan state that caused it all, and he could not refrain from silent criticism of a great nation which made so much ado over a struggle with a country that it outnumbered enormously. But he recalled that the Viennese were a gay, demonstrative people, and their excitement and light-heartedness were certainly infectious.
He was sorry again that he could not speak German, and then he was glad, when he saw young Kemp- ner leaning against a closed window watching the parades. "I suppose that like me you couldn't sleep," he said in French.
Kempner started. He had not seen John's approach, and, for the moment, John almost thought that the look he gave him was not one of welcome. But it passed swiftly. Then he stretched out his hand and replied.
"No, I couldn't. If you who come from across the sea wish to witness the enthusiasm of my countrymen how much more would it appeal to me ?"
"Has anything definite happened?"
"Yes, Austria-Hungary declared war on Servia today. It had to come. As our Viennese will tell you the Servians are a race of murderers. They murdered their own king, and now they have murdered our Archduke and Archduchess, heaping another sorrow upon the head of our aged emperor. We will finish them in a week."
John rememberd some words of Burke about no one being able to indict a whole nation, and he was about to quote them, but second thought kept him silent. He must not argue with a people, perhaps justly infuriated about what was no business of his. He remained with Kempner, but sensitive and quick to receive impressions he soon concluded that the young Austrian wished to be alone. Perhaps he, too, was going to the war, and would soon have to tell his people good-by. That might account for his absent manner.
John, as soon as he conveniently could, gave an excuse and turned away. Kempner was polite, but did not seek to detain him. The American returned to his hotel, but at the first crossing looked back. He saw the form of Kempner disappearing into a narrow alley. "Taking a short cut home," said John to himself, "and it's what I ought to do, too. I've no business wandering about a strange city at such a time."
The same sleepy porter nodded to him, as he passed in and asked him no questions. Now slumber came quickly and he did not awake for breakfast, until Mr. Anson had pounded long and heavily on his door.
"Get up, John!" he cried. "Here's your uncle to see you, and youva sluggard, lying abed this late!"
John sprang up at the announcement of his uncle's presence. Sleep still lay heavy on his eyelids, and he was in a mental daze, but by the time he reached the door he had come out of it. They had not looked for his uncle the night before, owing to the lateness of the hour, although they were sure that he was stopping at the same hotel.
"Just a moment," he exclaimed, and without waiting to dress he opened the door, admitting the stalwart figure of the Senator, who hurried in to greet his favorite nephew.
"Jackie, my lad," he cried in a loud voice which had become oratorical from much use on the stump. "The sight of you is good for weak eyes. I'm always glad to see any American, any member of the finest race on God's earth, but I'm particularly glad to see you—they do say you look like me when I was a boy —although I'm bound to tell you that you're more than half asleep, on this your first morning in Vienna."
"I slipped out late to hear the shouting and singing and see the crowds, Uncle Jim. I haven't been in bed more than three or four hours. The city was so much awake that I had to stay awake, too."
"Well, don't you do it again. Always get your sleep, especially when you are on foreign travel. It's as hard work as political campaigning in the states, and that, Jackie, my boy, is no soft snap, as I ought to know, having done it more than thirty years."
Senator James Pomeroy, a western man, was something past sixty, of medium height, portly, partly bald, but heavy of mustache and with a short pointed beard. His eyes were gray, his face full, and he was of great physical strength. He was self-made and the job was no discredit to him. His nature was simple and open. America was the finest country, had the finest government and the finest people on earth, and the state of which he was the senior Senator was the choicest flower of the flowery flock.
"There was enough to keep a fellow awake," he said, "but I always sleep well. You must learn to do It, if you expect to achieve a success of life. When I was making my first campaign for the Lower House of our state, and I was barely old enough to be eligible, I lay awake and fretted over the votes that might be lacking to me when election came. I at last said to myself: 'Don't do it! Don't do it!' You may roll and you may tumble, but it won't win you a single vote. It's the smooth work you've done before that brings 'em in. Now, hustle on your clothes, Jackie, lad, and we'll have breakfast, not one of these thin continental affairs, but a real breakfast, if I have to go in the kitchen myself and seize it."
"What about this war, Uncle Jim?"
"A small affair, soon over. We came very near having one, too, with Mexico, but luckily we've got a president who doesn't play to the gallery, and he sat hard on the war-maniacs. I think I was of some little assistance to him myself in that crisis. But, my boy, Europe is the pet home of war scares. They're always coming across the Atlantic by mail and wire. 'War clouds in the Balkans!' 'Eastern question sets Europe by the ears!' 'France plots to get back Alsace- Lorraine and Germany arms!' 'German Kaiser warns Austrian Kaiser against Triple Entente!' Bang! Boom! everybody going to war in the next five minutes—but they don't. You'll find 'em all a half hour later in the cafes, eating and drinking. Europe can't fight, because there isn't time between meals. They eat five times a day here, and they eat long at a time. How could they possibly sandwich in a war. I'm sixty-two years old, and as far back as I can rememher European war clouds have been passing like little summer clouds, and they will continue to pass long after you're an old man, Jackie. I make that statement deliberately, and I challenge successful contradiction."
He expanded his great chest, and looked around with an air of defiance. It was his favorite oratorical manner, now grown into a habit. But no one challenged him, and they went to a bountiful breakfast, for which the Senator paid willingly, demanding no greater return than the attention of the others while he talked.
Later in the day the three drove together in the grounds of Schonbrunn, and John's thoughts passed for a while to the great Corsican who had slept there, and who had led his army to victory over this the haughtiest of European monarchies, and perhaps for that reason the weakest. The tremendous convulsion upon which Napoleon had ridden to such dazzling heights seemed to him impossible: it was clearly impossible according to all the rules of logic, and yet it had occurred. That was the most startling period in the history of the modern world, and, forgetting what was about him, he tried to evoke it from the past.
He was recalled to the present by-their driver, an eager Austrian, who asked them in broken English if they wished to see the old emperor arrive home from Ischl. He pointed with his whip to an open space, adjoining the Schonbrunn grounds, where people were already gathering.
"Of course, my good man," replied Senator Pomeroy in oratorical tones. "We will go to see the emperor, but only as an object of curiosity. Far be it from me to pay any homage to the representative of a decayed system. I look on, merely as a free American citizen, no better and no worse than the millions whom I strive to the best of my ability to represent in our National legislative halls. Get us in as close as you can, driver."
John was frankly eager. He disliked the military monarchies as much as the Senator did, but he wanted to see the old emperor at whom fate had .shot so many cruel arrows. His carriage was to come down a certain street from the railway station, and their skillful driver maneuvered them to the very edge of it. The crowd was immense, and it was electric with excitement. It was no ordinary occasion and all the emotions of the excitable Viennese had been aroused.
As far as John could see the multitude ran, and the packed heads seemed to rise and fall like waves of the sea. Troops in magnificent uniforms of the most vivid colors were everywhere. The day itself seemed to be ablaze with their gorgeousness. If John had been asked to define the chief difference between Europe and America he would have replied that it was a matter of uniforms.
The crowd which seemed already to fill every space nevertheless grew larger, and waves of emotion ran through it. John did not think they could be defined in any other way. At home people differed in their opinions, every man to his own, but here they appeared to receive them from somebody higher up, and the crowd always swayed together, to this point or that, acording to the directing power.
He had never before seen so much emotional excitement. Vienna's thrill, so obvious the night before, had carried over into the day, increasing as it went along, and it was a happy intoxication, infectious in its nature. He began to feel it in his own veins, although his judgment told him that it was no business of his. Yet the brilliant uniforms, the shimmer of steel, the vast shifting crowd of eager faces, the deep and unbroken murmur of anticipation would have moved an older and dryer mind.
Anticipatory shouts arose. They were in German, but John knew that they meant: "He comes!" Nevertheless "he," which was the Emperor, did not yet come, and the crowd thickened and thickened. He saw the people stretching along leafy avenues, and in the distance they were wedged into a solid mass, faces and figures running together, until they presented the complete likeness of the waving sea.
"A strange sight and highly interesting," said the Senator oratorically. "It must take generations of education to teach a people to make a symbol of one man. And yet if we could get at the reality we'd surely find him a poor and broken creature."
"Man doesn't always grow according to his nature, he's shaped by continual pressure," said Mr. Anson.
John scarcely heard either of them, because he saw far down the avenue that the waves of the human sea were rolling higher than before. An increasing volume of sound also came from that solid sheet of faces, and it seemed to part slightly in the center, as if a sword had been thrust between. Carriages, automobiles and the flame of uniforms appeared in the cut. A roar like thunder arose from two hundred thousand people.
John knew that the Emperor, in truth, was now coming. Such a spontaneous outburst could be for nothing else, and, in spite of every effort of the will, his own excitement increased. He leaned forward for a better view and just in front of their carriage he saw a slender upright figure that looked familiar. A second glance told him that it was Kempner.
"Oh, Kempner!" he called, full of friendly feeling. "Come here with us. You can see better!"
Kempner glanced up, and John distinctly saw a shadow come over his face. Then he looked at them as one looks at strangers with a blank, uncomprehending gaze, and the next instant slipped with extraordinary agility into some crevice of the crowd and disappeared.
John flushed. Kempner's conduct was both rude and strange. He glanced at his uncle and Mr. Anson, but they, absorbed in the coming of the Emperor, had neither seen nor heard, and he was glad. His own attention now turned to the event of the moment, because the mighty roar was increasing in volume and coming nearer, and down the opening lane a carriage followed by others was speeding. Along either side of the lane the soldiers were packed so closely that they formed a living wall, but John, standing up in their own carriage, saw over their heads.
He saw an old, old man in splendid uniform, sitting by the side of an impassive officer also in a splendid uniform. The old man's cheeks were sunken, and the heavy-lidded eyes stared straight before him. He sat erect, but whether it was his own strength or the arrangement of the seat John could not tell. His hand flew up, forward, then down, and up forward and down again in automatic salute.
He was so near presently that it was only a spear's length over the heads of the soldiers. Then John saw how truly old he was, and suddenly his heart revolted. Why should this old, old man, broken by appalling- sorrows, be dragged out to have wars made in his name ? The schemers and plotters, whoever they were might let him rest in peace.
The carriage flashed on, and behind it came the others as fast. They would not linger, to give a chance for bombs and knives. In an instant the emperor was gone through the gates of Schonbrunn, and first the soldiers and then the roaring crowd closed in behind.
The Senator gave the order, and their carriage drove slowly away, the three discussing what they had seen while the happy driver exulted over the glorious show, so dear to the heart of a Viennese. But John once more thought the excitement was not warranted by a little war with a little country like Servia.
They devoted three or four days to Vienna, a capital, they had often heard, as gay as Paris, and certainly splendid in appearance, but pleasure seemed to hang fire. There was a cloud over the city, the cheering and singing parades went on all through the nights, but at times in the day the spirits of men seemed to -droop.
John told himself over and over again that this heavy change in the atmosphere was not justified by the size of Servia. The three of them once more and often bewailed their lack of German. People talked all around them and they heard nothing. Austrians who hitherto had a fair knowledge of English forgot it entirely, when they were asked questions.
The Senator in the privacy of their rooms thundered and thundered. He hated all this secrecy. He wondered what those men were doing at Schonbrunn in the name of the old Emperor. As for himself he liked the arena of public life in the United States, where you rolled up your sleeves—such was his metaphor— and told what you were for and what you were against, without fear or favor. Democracies did wrong or rather foolish things, but in them it was impossible for a few military leaders, hid in a palace, to play with the lives of hundreds of thousands.
John, although saying nothing, agreed with him fully. The last three or four days had depressed him in a manner unusual in one so young. His silent rebuff by Kempner had hurt his spirit to an extent far beyond the nature of the incident, and, realizing it, he wondered why. He kept a sharp watch in the streets for the young Austrian, but he did not see him again.
At last there came a time when the greatest of all thunderbolts fell. It was the simple hand of a waiter that caused it to fall. The others had finished their coffee and rolls at breakfast and had gone out, leaving John alone at the table.
"What is the matter with Vienna ?" he said casually to the waiter, who he knew could speak English.
The man hesitated, then he leaned over and said in a fearful whisper:
"It's not a little war. It's not just a war with Servia which we can finish in a week, but it's to be such a war as the world has never seen."
John started, looked up at the man. His face was intensely earnest. How should one in his humble calling have news of such import ? And yet at Dresden he had been warned by another waiter, and warned truly.
"Are you sure ?" he asked.
"Yes, sir, they're all going into it. Europe will be covered with armies!"
"In a few hours! Now, sir! Oh, I can't say any more!"
He hurried away, leaving John convinced that he told the truth. It was stunning, appalling, unbelievable, impossible, but he believed it nevertheless. There were underground channels of communication and true news might come by the way of the kitchen as well as the palace. He was absolutely convinced that he had heard a fact. Now he knew the cause of that heaviness and depression in the atmosphere. Well the clouds might gather, when such a thunderbolt as a general war was going to fall!
He immediately hunted up his uncle and Mr. An- son who had not yet left the hotel, and told them what he had heard. Conviction seized them also.
"It's come at last, this European war! after a thousand false alarms, it's come!" said the Senator, "and my boy, Vienna is no place for three honest Americans who do not work in the dark. I say it, and I say it without fear of contradiction, that it behooves us to flee westward with all the speed we can."
"You won't hear any contradiction from me," said Mr. Anson. "Vienna is a fine city, but nothing becomes it more than our leaving it. Which way do we go ?"
"There's a train in two hours for Salzburg and Munich," suggested John.
"Hurried packing," said the Senator, "but we can do it. Get ready the baggage you two and I'll pay the bills. We'll go to Salzburg and sleep there tonight, and tomorrow we'll reach Munich. The more I think about this the less I like it. Why didn't we read all those signs earlier! I suppose it's because we'd heard the false cry of wolf so many dozens of times."
John and Mr. Anson made all speed with the baggage while the Senator paid the bills, and, as they drove in their cab to the station, the three felt more than ever the need of haste. The clouds seemed to be shutting down completely on Vienna. John felt that it was hard to breathe, but he knew it was the effect of the imagination. He was oppressed by a sense of an impending and appalling catastrophe, something more tremendous than anything that the world had yet experienced. He had an impression that he had come to the end of an era, and the impression was all the more powerful because it had been made so suddenly.
They passed through an excited station filled with a swirling crowd, and secured places on a train, they scarcely knew how. Here people sat and stood upon one another, and, as the train sped westward, they knew that the storm was bursting with terrific violence. The nervous people around them no longer restrained themselves. Europe was to be swept with fire and sword, but above all the Germans and Aus- trians were going to smash up France. They dwelt most upon that. The French and the French Republic must go. There was no longer a place for them in the world.
To John's modest wish that France would not come into it they gave a stare and frown of disapproval. France had to come in, she must come in, the two German powers would see that she was smitten down as a nation was never overwhelmed before. Oh, no, Britain would do nothing. Of course she wouldn't. She'd stay behind her barrier of the sea, and, perhaps, at the last when the spoils of war were to be snatched from the exhausted combatants, she'd step in and snatch them. No, they needn't consider Britain, and Germany and Austria could easily dispose of France and Russia.
Much of this was said in English and French to the three travelers and John's heart sickened. Poor France! Why should she be smashed up! Why should the French nation be exterminated? He did not forget that France was a republic like his own country. She had been beaten once by Germany—and the victor's terms were hard—and whatever her faults had been that was enough. He did not like Frenchmen personally any better than Germans, but at that moment his sympathies went to the French and he felt a great pity for France.
The train crept along, and, after double the usual time, they reached Salzburg, where they passed an uneasy night, and, the next day, boarded another train which was to cross the German border and take them to Munich. It, too, was packed with an excited mass of humanity, and as John passed along the corridor he saw Kempner in one of the compartments.
Remembering his previous rebuffs he intended to to take no notice, but the young Austrian nodded at him and smiled.
"I see that you flee," he said in his broken French, "and you do well to flee. Europe is aflame."
"That's so," said John, "and, since it's no fire of ours, we Americans mean to be on the Atlantic foam, as soon as we can."
As there was a vacant seat in the compartment and Kempner seemed very friendly now, John sat down tc talk a little. He longed occasionally for companionship of his own age, and his heart warmed again to the young Austrian.
"I see that you're running, too," said John.
"Yes," smiled Kempner. "I'm a man of peace, a painter, or rather I would be one, and as my heart is a little weak I'm not drawn for military service. I'm on my way to Munich, where I mean to study the galleries."
"I'm going to Munich, too," said John. "So we can travel together."
"Then if we expect to reach Munich we'd better jump out now. Quick!"
"It seems that this is the Austrian border, and trains are not crossing it now, owing to the mobilization. A German train has come to meet us. Look, most of the passengers have transferred already!"
John saw his uncle and Mr. Anson standing on the steps of the German train and looking about vainly for him. There had been no announcement of the change, and, annoyed, he ran down the corridor and sprang to the ground, closely followed by Kempner.
"Passporten! passporten!" shouted some one, putting a strong hand on his arm.
John saw his uncle and Mr. Anson going into the German train, evidently thinking that he was inside, and his alarm increased.
"Amerikanischer! Amerikanischer!" he said to the Austrian officer, who was holding his arm and demanding his passport. The officer shook his head and spoke voluble German. John did not understand it, but he knew that the man at such a time would insist upon seeing his passport. Kempner just behind him was in the same bad case.
The whistle of departure sounded from the train, and John, in despair, tore at the passport in an inside pocket He saw that the officer would never be able to read it in time, and he endeavored to snatch himself from the detaining grasp. But the Austrian hung on firmly.
As he fairly thrust the document in the face of the official he saw the wheels of the coaches moving.
"I'll come on the next train!" he shouted to the air.
The officer looked over the passport deliberately and handed it back. The train was several hundred yards down the track.
"Now, yours," he said to Kempner, and the young man passed it to him.
"August Wilhelm Kempner," said the officer, and then he added, looking the young man squarely in the eye: "I happen to know August William Kempner who lives in Vienna and he bears no resemblance to you. How do you happen to have his passport?"
"That I won't explain to you," said the false Kempner, and suddenly he struck him a stunning blow on the temple with his clenched fist.
The officer, strong though he was, went down unconscious.
"Run! Run! Follow me!" exclaimed the young man. "They'll think you were my comrade and it may mean your death!"
His action had been so violent, and he spoke with such vehemence that John was mentally overborne. Driven by a powerful impulse he followed the flying man.
Kempner, for so John still called him, darted into a narrow street not wider than an alley, leading between two low houses. He had had no opportunity hitherto to observe the border place in which they had stopped. It was small, but like many of the old European towns it was very closely built, and some of its streets were scarcely wide enough for two abreast.
The fugitives ran swiftly. Kempner evidently knew the place, as he sprang in and out with amazing agility, and the sounds of pursuit died in a minute or two. Then he darted between two buildings that almost touched, entered a small churchyard in the rear of a Gothic church and threw himself down behind a great tombstone. And even as he did so he pulled John down beside him.
As they lay close, still trembling from exertion and excitement, Kempner said to John, and now he spoke in perfect French:
"Since I got you into this trouble I think it my duty to get you out of it again if I can. Of course the people of the town saw us running, and I rushed through that narrow passage in order to evade their sight."
His tone had a dry and quaint touch of humor and John, despite his exhaustion and alarm, could not keep from replying in a similar vein.
"If I don't owe you thanks for the first statement I do at least for the second. I don't know German, and so I couldn't understand what you and that Austrian officer said, but I fancy your name is not Kempner."
"No. It's not, and I'm not an Austrian. I'm a Frenchman, for which I return thanks to the good God. Not that Americans are not great and noble people, but it's a fortunate thing that so many of us are satisfied with our birth."
"I was thinking so when you announced with such pride that you were a Frenchman."
The other laughed softly.
"A fair hit," he said, "and I laid myself open to it."
"Now since you're not August William Kempner, and are not an Austrian, will you kindly tell me your name and your nation, as in any event I am no enemy of yours and will betray you to nobody."
"My race, as you might infer from the beauty and purity with which I speak my native language, is French, and my name, which I no longer have a motive in concealing from you, is Philip Lannes. I'm a collateral descendant of Napoleon's great marshal, Lannes, and I'm willing to boast of it."
"Occupation—I will risk another inference—is something like that of a spy."
The Frenchman looked keenly at the American and again laughed lightly.
"You're not far wrong," he said. "It was the passport of another man that I carried, and I happened to meet an official who knew better. It was mere chance that you were with me at the time and would have been taken for my comrade. Didn't you know that a great war was going to burst?"
"I've just learned it."
"At\d one of the objects of those who are making the war is to smash my country, France. How could one serve her better than by learning the preparations and forces against her? Oh, I've been among the Austrians and I've been watching them! They've made some terrible mistakes. But then the Austrians always make mistakes. There's an old saying that what the Austrian crown loses by war it wins back by marriage. But I don't think royal marriages count for so much in these days. Lie close! I think I hear soldiers in the alley!"
John hugged the earth in the shadow of the great tombstone.