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Chapter 23

Trannel attached himself as well as he could to Breckon and Ellen, and Breckon had an opportunity not fully offered him before to note a likeness between himself and a fellow-man whom he was aware of not liking, though he tried to love him, as he felt it right to love all men. He thought he had not been quite sympathetic enough with Mrs. Kenton in her having to stay behind, and he tried to make it up to Mr. Trannel in his having to come. He invented civilities to show him, and ceded his place next Ellen as if Trannel had a right to it. Trannel ignored him in keeping it, unless it was recognizing Breckon to say, "Oh, I hope I'm not in your way, old fellow?" and then making jokes to Ellen. Breckon could not say the jokes were bad, though the taste of them seemed to him so. The man had a fleeting wit, which scorched whatever he turned it upon, and yet it was wit. "Why don't you try him in American?" he asked at the failure of Breckon and the tram conductor to understand each other in Dutch. He tried the conductor himself in American, and he was so deplorably funny that it was hard for Breckon to help being 'particeps criminus', at least in a laugh.

He asked himself if that were really the kind of man he was, and he grew silent and melancholy in the fear that it was a good deal the sort of man. To this morbid fancy Trannel seemed himself in a sort of excess, or what he would be if he were logically ultimated. He remembered all the triviality of his behavior with Ellen at first, and rather sickened at the thought of some of his early pleasantries. She was talking gayly now with Trannel, and Breckon wondered whether she was falling under the charm that he felt in him, in spite of himself.

If she was, her father was not. The judge sat on the other side of the car, and unmistakably glowered at the fellow's attempts to make himself amusing to Ellen. Trannel himself was not insensible to the judge's mood. Now and then he said something to intensify it. He patronized the judge and he made fun of the tourist character in which Boyne had got himself up, with a field-glass slung by a strap under one arm and a red Baedeker in his hand. He sputtered with malign laughter at a rather gorgeous necktie which Boyne had put on for the day, and said it was not a very good match for the Baedeker.

Boyne retorted rudely, and that amused Trannel still more. He became personal to Breckon, and noted the unclerical cut of his clothes. He said he ought to have put on his uniform for an expedition like that, in case they got into any sort of trouble. To Ellen alone he was inoffensive, unless he overdid his polite attentions to her in carrying her parasol for her, and helping her out of the tram, when they arrived, shouldering every one else away, and making haste to separate her from the others and then to walk on with her a little in advance.

Suddenly he dropped her, and fell back to Boyne and his father, while Breckon hastened forward to her side. Trannel put his arm across Boyne's shoulders and asked him if he were mad, and then laughed at him. "You're all right, Boyne, but you oughtn't to be so approachable. You ought to put on more dignity, and repel familiarity!"

Boyne could only twitch away in silence that he made as haughty as he could, but not so haughty that Trannel did not find it laughable, and he laughed in a teasing way that made Breckon more and more serious. He was aware of becoming even solemn with the question of his likeness to Trannel. He was of Trannel's quality, and their difference was a matter of quantity, and there was not enough difference. In his sense of their likeness Breckon vowed himself to a gravity of behavior evermore which he should not probably be able to observe, but the sample he now displayed did not escape the keen vigilance of Trannel.

"With the exception of Miss Kenton," he addressed himself to the party, "you're all so easy and careless that if you don't look out you'll lose me. Miss Kenton, I wish you would keep an eye on me. I don't want to get lost."

Ellen laughed—she could not help it—and her laughing made it less possible than before for Breckon to unbend and meet Trannel on his own ground, to give him joke for joke, to exchange banter with him. He might never have been willing to do that, but now he shrank from it, in his realization of their likeness, with an abhorrence that rendered him rigid.

The judge was walking ahead with Boyne, and his back expressed such severe disapproval that, between her fear that Trannel would say something to bring her father's condemnation on him and her sense of their inhospitable attitude towards one who was their guest, in a sort, she said, with her gentle gayety, "Then you must keep near me, Mr. Trannel. I'll see that nothing happens."

"That's very sweet of you," said Trannel, soberly. Whether he had now vented his malicious humor and was ready to make himself agreeable, or was somewhat quelled by the unfriendly ambient he had created, or was wrought upon by her friendliness, he became everything that could be wished in a companion for a day's pleasure. He took the lead at the station, and got them a compartment in the car to themselves for the little run to Leyden, and on the way he talked very well. He politely borrowed Boyne's Baedeker, and decided for the party what they had best see, and showed an acceptable intelligence, as well as a large experience in the claims of Leyden upon the visitor's interest. He had been there often before, it seemed, and in the event it appeared that he had chosen the days sightseeing wisely.

He no longer addressed himself respectfully to Ellen alone, but he re-established himself in Boyne's confidence with especial pains, and he conciliated Breckon by a recognition of his priority with Ellen with a delicacy refined enough for even the susceptibility of a lover alarmed for his rights. If he could not overcome the reluctance of the judge, he brought him to the civil response which any one who tried for Kenton's liking achieved, even if he did not merit it, and there remained no more reserve in Kenton's manner than there had been with the young man from the first. He had never been a persona grata to the judge, and if he did not become so now, he at least ceased to be actively displeasing.

That was the year before the young Queen came to her own, and in the last days of her minority she was visiting all the cities of her future dominion with the queen-mother. When Kenton's party left the station they found Leyden as gay for her reception as flags and banners could make the gray old town, and Trannel relapsed for a moment so far as to suggest that the decorations were in honor of Boyne's presence, but he did not abuse the laugh that this made to Boyne's further shame.

There was no carriage at the station which would hold the party of five, and they had to take two vehicles. Trannel said it was lucky they wanted two, since there were no more, and he put himself in authority to assort the party. The judge, he decided, must go with Ellen and Breckon, and he hoped Boyne would let him go in his carriage, if he would sit on the box with the driver. The judge afterwards owned that he had weakly indulged his dislike of the fellow, in letting him take Boyne, and not insisting on going himself with Tramiel, but this was when it was long too late. Ellen had her misgivings, but, except for that gibe about the decorations, Trannel had been behaving so well that she hoped she might trust Boyne with him. She made a kind of appeal for her brother, bidding him and Trannel take good care of each other, and Trannel promised so earnestly to look after Boyne that she ought to have been alarmed for him. He took the lead, rising at times to wave a reassuring hand to her over the back of his carriage, and, in fact, nothing evil could very well happen from him, with the others following so close upon him. They met from time to time in the churches they visited, and when they lost sight of one another, through a difference of opinion in the drivers as to the best route, they came together at the place Trannel had appointed for their next reunion.

He showed himself a guide so admirably qualified that he found a way for them to objects of interest that had at first denied themselves in anticipation of the visit from the queens; when they all sat down at lunch in the restaurant which he found for them, he could justifiably boast that he would get them into the Town Hall, which they had been told was barred for the day against anything but sovereign curiosity. He was now on the best term with Boyne, who seemed to have lost all diffidence of him, and treated him with an easy familiarity that showed itself in his slapping him on the shoulder and making dints in his hat. Trannel seemed to enjoy these caresses, and, when they parted again for the afternoon's sight-seeing, Ellen had no longer a qualm in letting Boyne drive off with him.

He had, in fact, known how to make himself very acceptable to Boyne. He knew all the originals of his heroical romances, and was able to give the real names and the geographical position of those princesses who had been in love with American adventurers. Under promise of secrecy he disclosed the real names of the adventurers themselves, now obscured in the titles given them to render them worthy their union with sovereigns. He resumed his fascinating confidences when they drove off after luncheon, and he resumed them after each separation from the rest of the party. Boyne listened with a flushed face and starting eyes, and when at last Trannel offered, upon a pledge of the most sacred nature from him never to reveal a word of what he said, he began to relate an adventure of which he was himself the hero. It was a bold travesty of one of the latest romances that Boyne had read, involving the experience of an American very little older than Boyne himself, to whom a wilful young crown-princess, in a little state which Trannel would not name even to Boyne, had made advances such as he could not refuse to meet without cruelty. He was himself deeply in love with her, but he felt bound in honor not to encourage her infatuation as long as he could help, for he had been received by her whole family with such kindness and confidence that he had to consider them.

"Oh, pshaw!" Boyne broke in upon him, doubting, and yet wishing not to doubt, "that's the same as the story of 'Hector Folleyne'."

"Yes," said Trannel, quietly. "I thought you would recognize it."

"Well, but," Boyne went on, "Hector married the princess!"

"In the book, yes. The fellow I gave the story to said it would never do not to have him marry her, and it would help to disguise the fact. That's what he said, after he had given the whole thing away."

"And do you mean to say it was you? Oh, you can't stuff me! How did you get out of marrying her, I should like to know, when the chancellor came to you and said that the whole family wanted you to, for fear it would kill her if—"

"Well, there was a scene, I can't deny that. We had a regular family conclave—father, mother, Aunt Hitty, and all the folks—and we kept it up pretty much all night. The princess wasn't there, of course, and I could convince them that I was right. If she had been, I don't believe I could have held out. But they had to listen to reason, and I got away between two days."

"But why didn't you marry her?"

"Well, for one thing, as I told you, I thought I ought to consider her family. Then there was a good fellow, the crown-prince of Saxe-Wolfenhutten, who was dead in love with her, and was engaged to her before I turned up. I had been at school with him, and I felt awfully sorry for him; and I thought I ought to sacrifice myself a little to him. But I suppose the thing that influenced me most was finding out that if I married the princess I should have to give up my American citizenship and become her subject."

"Well?" Boyne panted.

"Well, would you have done it?"

"Couldn't you have got along without doing that?"

"That was the only thing I couldn't get around, somehow. So I left."

"And the princess, did she—die?"

"It takes a good deal more than that to kill a fifteen-year-old princess," said Trannel, and he gave a harsh laugh. "She married Saxe-Wolfenhutten." Boyne was silent. "Now, I don't want you to speak of this till after I leave Scheveningen—especially to Miss Lottie. You know how girls are, and I think Miss Lottie is waiting to get a bind on me, anyway. If she heard how I was cut out of my chance with that princess she'd never let me believe I gave her up of my own free will?"

"NO, no; I won't tell her."

Boyne remained in a silent rapture, and he did not notice they were no longer following the rest of their party in the other carriage. This had turned down a corner, at which Mr. Breckon, sitting on the front seat, had risen and beckoned their driver to follow, but their driver, who appeared afterwards to have not too much a head of his own, or no head at all, had continued straight on, in the rear of a tram-car, which was slowly finding its way through the momently thickening crowd. Boyne was first aware that it was a humorous crowd when, at a turn of the street, their equipage was greeted with ironical cheers by a group of gay young Dutchmen on the sidewalk. Then he saw that the sidewalks were packed with people, who spread into the street almost to the tram, and that the house fronts were dotted with smiling Dutch faces, the faces of pretty Dutch girls, who seemed to share the amusement of the young fellows below.

Trannel lay back in the carriage. "This is something like," he said. "Boyne, they're on to the distinguished young Ohioan—the only Ohioan out of office in Europe."

"Yes," said Boyne, trying to enjoy it. "I wonder what they are holloing at."

Trannel laughed. "They're holloing at your Baedeker, my dear boy. They never saw one before," and Boyne was aware that he was holding his red-backed guide conspicuously in view on his lap. "They know you're a foreigner by it."

"Don't you think we ought to turn down somewhere? I don't see poppa anywhere." He rose and looked anxiously back over the top of their carriage. The crowd, closing in behind it, hailed his troubled face with cries that were taken up by the throng on the sidewalks. Boyne turned about to find that the tram-car which they had been following had disappeared round a corner, but their driver was still keeping on. At a wilder burst of applause Trannel took off his hat and bowed to the crowd, right and left.

"Bow, bow!" he said to Boyne. "They'll be calling for a speech the next thing. Bow, I tell you!"

"Tell him to turn round!" cried the boy.

"I can't speak Dutch," said Trannel, and Boyne leaned forward and poked the driver in the back.

"Go back!" he commanded.

The driver shook his head and pointed forward with his whip. "He's all right," said Trannel. "He can't turn now. We've got to take the next corner." The street in front was empty, and the people were crowding back on the sidewalks. Loud, vague noises made themselves heard round the corner to which the driver had pointed. "By Jove!" Trannel said, "I believe they're coming round that way."

"Who are coming?" Boyne palpitated.

"The queens."

"The queens?" Boyne gasped; it seemed to him that he shrieked the words.

"Yes. And there's a tobacconist's now," said Trannel, as if that were what he had been looking for all along. "I want some cigarettes."

He leaped lightly from the carriage, and pushed his way out of sight on the sidewalk. Boyne remained alone in the vehicle, staring wildly round; the driver kept slowly and stupidly on, Boyne did not know how much farther. He could not speak; he felt as if he could not stir. But the moment came when he could not be still. He gave a galvanic jump to the ground, and the friendly crowd on the sidewalk welcomed him to its ranks and closed about him. The driver had taken the lefthand corner, just before a plain carriage with the Queen and the queen-mother came in sight round the right. The young Queen was bowing to the people, gently, and with a sort of mechanical regularity. Now and then a brighter smile than that she conventionally wore lighted up her face. The simple progress was absolutely without state, except for the aide-de-camp on horseback who rode beside the carriage, a little to the front.

Boyne stood motionless on the curb, where a friendly tall Dutchman had placed him in front that he might see the Queen.

"Hello!" said the voice of Trannel, and elbowing his way to Boyne's side, he laughed and coughed through the smoke of his cigarette. "I was afraid you had lost me. Where's your carriage?"

Boyne did not notice his mockeries. He was entranced in that beatific vision; his boy-heart went out in worship to the pretty young creature with a reverence that could not be uttered. The tears came into his eyes.

"There, there! She's bowing to you, Boyne, she's smiling right at you. By Jove! She's beckoning to you!"

"You be still!" Boyne retorted, finding his tongue. "She isn't doing any such a thing."

"She is, I swear she is! She's doing it again! She's stopping the carriage. Oh, go out and see what she wants! Don't you know that a queen's wish is a command? You've got to go!"

Boyne never could tell just how it happened. The carriage did seem to be stopping, and the Queen seemed to be looking at him. He thought he must, and he started into the street towards her, and the carriage came abreast of him. He had almost reached the carriage when the aide turned and spurred his horse before him. Four strong hands that were like iron clamps were laid one on each of Boyne's elbows and shoulders, and he was haled away, as if by superhuman force. "Mr. Trannel!" he called out in his agony, but the wretch had disappeared, and Boyne was left with his captors, to whom he could have said nothing if he could have thought of anything to say.

The detectives pulled him through the crowd and hurried him swiftly down the side street. A little curiosity straggled after him in the shape of small Dutch boys, too short to look over the shoulders of men at the queens, and too weak to make their way through them to the front; but for them, Boyne seemed alone in the world with the relentless officers, who were dragging him forward and hurting him so with the grip of their iron hands. He lifted up his face to entreat them not to hold him so tight, and suddenly it was as if he beheld an angel standing in his path. It was Breckon who was there, staring at him aghast.

"Why, Boyne!" he cried.

"Oh, Mr. Breckon!" Boyne wailed back. "Is it you? Oh, do tell them I didn't mean to do anything! I thought she beckoned to me."

"Who? Who beckoned to you?"

"The Queen!" Boyne sobbed, while the detectives pulled him relentlessly on.

Breckon addressed them suavely in their owe tongue which had never come in more deferential politeness from human lips. He ventured the belief that there was a mistake; he assured them that he knew their prisoner, and that he was the son of a most respectable American family, whom they could find at the Kurhaus in Scheveningen. He added some irrelevancies, and got for all answer that they had made Boyne's arrest for sufficient reasons, and were taking him to prison. If his friends wished to intervene in his behalf they could do so before the magistrate, but for the present they must admonish Mr. Breckon not to put himself in the way of the law.

"Don't go, Mr. Breckon!" Boyne implored him, as his captors made him quicken his pace after slowing a little for their colloquy with Breckon. "Oh, where is poppa? He could get me away. Oh, where is poppa?"

"Don't! Don't call out, Boyne," Breckon entreated. "Your father is right here at the end of the street. He's in the carriage there with Miss Kenton. I was coming to look for you. Don't cry out so!"

"No, no, I won't, Mr. Breckon. I'll be perfectly quiet now. Only do get poppa quick! He can tell them in a minute that it's all right!"

He made a prodigious effort to control himself, while Breckon ran a little ahead, with some wild notion of preparing Ellen. As he disappeared at the corner, Boyne choked a sob into a muffed bellow, and was able to meet the astonished eyes of his father and sister in this degree of triumph.

They had not in the least understood Breckon's explanation, and, in fact, it had not been very lucid. At sight of her brother strenuously upheld between the detectives, and dragged along the sidewalk, Ellen sprang from the carriage and ran towards him. "Why, what's the matter with Boyne?" she demanded. "Are you hurt, Boyne, dear? Are they taking him to the hospital?"

Before he could answer, and quite before the judge could reach the tragical group, she had flung her arms round Boyne's neck, and was kissing his tear-drabbled face, while he lamented back, "They're taking me to prison."

"Taking you to prison? I should like to know what for! What are you taking my brother to prison for?" she challenged the detectives, who paused, bewildered, while all the little Dutch boys round admired this obstruction of the law, and several Dutch housewives, too old to go out to see the queens, looked down from their windows. It was wholly illegal, but the detectives were human. They could snub such a friend of their prisoner as Breckon, but they could not meet the dovelike ferocity of Ellen with unkindness. They explained as well as they might, and at a suggestion which Kenton made through Breckon, they admitted that it was not beside their duty to take Boyne directly to a magistrate, who could pass upon his case, and even release him upon proper evidence of his harmlessness, and sufficient security for any demand that justice might make for his future appearance.

"Then," said the judge, quietly, "tell them that we will go with them. It will be all right, Boyne. Ellen, you and I will get back into the carriage, and—"

"No!" Boyne roared. "Don't leave me, Nelly!"

"Indeed, I won't leave you, Boyne! Mr. Breckon, you get into the carriage with poppa, and I—"

"I think I had better go with you, Miss Kenton," said Breckon, and in a tender superfluity they both accompanied Boyne on foot, while the judge remounted to his place in the carriage and kept abreast of them on their way to the magistrate's.

William Dean Howells

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