Princess zara, p.1
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       Princess Zara, p.1


Princess Zara


  Produced by Suzanne Shell and the Online DistributedProofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net

  "I DO LOVE YOU" (Page 215)]

  PRINCESS ZARA

  By

  ROSS BEECKMAN

  ILLUSTRATIONS BYBERT KNIGHT

  NEW YORKGROSSET & DUNLAPPUBLISHERS

  Copyright, 1908-09 byW. J. WATT & COMPANY

  _Published January_, 1909

  THE THEME

  _Two shall be born the whole wide world apart; And speak in different tongues, and have no thought Each of the other's being, and no heed; And these o'er unknown seas to unknown lands Shall cross, escaping wreck, defying death, And all unconsciously shape every act And lend each wandering step to this one end,-- That, one day, out of darkness, they shall meet And read life's meaning in each other's eyes._

  SUSAN MARR SPALDING.

  CONTENTS

  CHAP. PAGE

  I. A LADY OF QUALITY 11

  II. A WARNING 22

  III. TWO SHALL BE BORN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD APART 36

  IV. DAN DERRINGTON'S STORY 45

  V. IN THE PRESENCE OF THE CZAR 61

  VI. A NIHILIST SPY 69

  VII. FOR LOVE OF A WOMAN 85

  VIII. THE PRINCESS' ORIENTAL GARDEN 101

  IX. A SECRET INTERVIEW 122

  X. SENTENCED TO DEATH 143

  XI. FOR THE SAKE OF THE CZAR 159

  XII. WHEN LOVE WAS BORN 177

  XIII. LOVE WILL FIND A WAY 191

  XIV. THE SCORN OF A WOMAN 205

  XV. THE MURDER OF A SOUL 216

  XVI. THE MOMENT OF VENGEANCE 234

  XVII. LOVE, HONOR AND OBEY 249

  XVIII. THE POWER OF THE FRATERNITY 265

  XIX. PRINCE MICHAEL'S ANGER 276

  XX. IN DEFIANCE OF THE CZAR 288

  XXI. ONE EVENTFUL NIGHT 299

  XXII. THE COMBAT IN THE SNOW 312

  XXIII. WHAT THE CZAR FORGOT 322

  XXIV. SABEREVSKI'S PROPHECY 335

  PRINCESS ZARA

  CHAPTER I

  A LADY OF QUALITY

  The steamship Trave of the North German Lloyd docked at its Hobokenpier at eight o'clock one morning in December. Among the passengers whopresently departed from the vessel was a woman who attracted unusualattention for the reason that she was accompanied by a considerablesuite of retainers and servants who were for a time as busy as fliesaround a honey pot, caring for their mistress' baggage, and otherwiseattending to the details of her arrival. Nor was it alone for thisreason that all eyes were from time to time turned in her direction.There was about her a certain air of distinction, wealth, power andrepose, which impressed itself upon the observers. Many there were whosought eagerly an opportunity to scan the features of this youngwoman's face, for that she was young, was immediately apparent, and thefact added not a little to the interest that was manifested in her.

  The young woman, whoever she was, maintained an air of reserve whichraised a barrier beyond which none of the curious might penetrate; andas if insolently disdainful of the attention she attracted, her faceremained veiled; not too thickly, but effectively enough to set atnaught these efforts of the curious throng.

  A view of her face was, however, not required to determine in the mindsof the beholders that she possessed more than ordinarily, theattractive feminine qualities. Her very presence told that; the airwith which she moved about among her servitors; the simple gestures shemade in giving her directions, and the quiet but resourceful andeffective methods she used in administering her affairs, indicated thatnot only was she a person of great wealth, but that she was also highin place and in authority, and one who was accustomed to being obeyed.

  Her costume was hidden entirely beneath the magnificent furs whichenveloped her, and even the maid who attended upon her immediate wantswas more elaborately gowned and wrapped than the average femininepersonage of the western world is wont to be.

  The immediate party of this distinguished passenger soon took itsdeparture from the pier, leaving behind only those whose various dutiesconsisted in caring for the seventy-odd pieces of baggage soon to betaken from the hold of the vessel; and this immediate party departedfrom the pier in carriages, for the hotel where accommodations hadalready been secured. The young woman and her maid occupied aconveyance by themselves; other maids followed in a second one, and athird contained two footmen, a courier and her official messenger.

  At the hotel, where notice of her arrival in the city had beenreceived, she was assigned to a suite of rooms which occupied thegreater part of one entire floor and which included every conveniencewhich the most illustrious personage travelling in the United Statescould have required, or would have found it possible to obtain.

  The courier at once sought the hotel office and registered as follows:

  Her Highness Princess Zara de Echeveria and suite, St. Petersburg.

  And when his attention was called to the fact that the names of theentire party were required, he shrugged his shoulders and announced:

  "I regret, sir, that I do not remember the names of all the persons whocomprise her highness' suite, but I will supply you presently with alist of them."

  In the parlor of the apartments occupied by the princess, her maid wasremoving the furs and wraps and making her mistress comfortable, forthere is inevitably after a sea voyage, a few hours of fatigue whichnothing but restful quiet and utter idleness will overcome; andtherefore an hour or more later, when a visiting card was taken to theprincess she did not even give herself the trouble to examine it, butsaid while she peered through half closed eyelids:

  "Whoever it is, Orloff, say that I will not receive until four thisafternoon."

  Down below, in the office of the hotel, the gentleman who had sent upthe card and who received this message in reply to it, shrugged hisshoulders, glanced at the face of his watch to discover that it was yetbarely noon-time, crossed to the book stall where he secured somethingto read and thereby while away the time, and then having sought acomfortable chair in a secluded corner deposited himself in it with anair of finality which indicated that he had no idea of departing fromthe hotel until after he had secured the solicited audience.

  At four he sent a second card to the princess; at half past four he wasadmitted to her presence.

  If the eyes of that curious throng of people who had watched herarrival at the steamship pier could have seen her then, when this manwho had waited so long was shown into her presence, they would havebeen amply repaid for their admiring curiosity concerning her. It istrite to speak of a woman as being radiantly beautiful, commonplace torefer to it at all, save by implication, since feminine beauty is acomposite attribute, vague and indefinable, and should possess nosingle quality to individualize it. Beauty such as that possessed byPrincess Zara can neither be defined nor described. It is the _toutensemble_ of her presence and her pe
rsonal charm.

  Zara de Echeveria needed no adornment to emphasize the attractions ofher gorgeous self. She was one of those rare women who are renderedmore attractive by the absence of all ornament and her dark eyes weremore luminous and brilliant than any jewel she might have worn. Hergown, though rich, was simplicity itself, and inasmuch as her servantshad found time during the hours since their arrival, to decorate therooms according to the princess' tastes, she was surrounded by much thesame settings that would have been contained in her own palatial homeat St. Petersburg. When it is said that she was barely twenty-five inyears; that her father had been a Spanish nobleman in the diplomaticservice at the Russian capital, and that her mother was of royal birth,we have an explanation for the exquisitely fascinating and almostvoluptuous qualities of her beauty, as well as for her royal manner ofcommand.

  She did not leave her chair when this man was taken into her presence,but extended one small and perfectly formed hand upon which gleamed asolitary ring; the only jewel she wore that afternoon save a small pinin the lace at her throat, which was fashioned precisely after the samepattern as the ring.

  The man lost no time in raising that beautiful hand to his lips, and hebowed low over it, with a courtly grace as distinguished in itsgesture, as was her reception of him. One wondered why such a man asthis had been contented to endure five idle hours of waiting upon herserene pleasure; and yet if one had looked past him to her, one mighthave ceased to wonder, and have thought a lifetime of waiting would beas nothing, if possession of her at the end of it could be its reward.

  "It was kind of you to come to me so quickly after my arrival," shesaid to him in a low voice that was perfectly modulated.

  "It was kinder of you to receive me, princess," he responded, steppingback again to the center of the room and standing tall andstraight--before her in his commanding manhood. He was a handsome man,past fifty, distinguished, and like the princess he greeted, had abouthim the unquestionable air of authority.

  "I am afraid I kept you waiting."

  "One does not consider moments of waiting, if Princess Zara be theobject of it," he retorted, smiling.

  "Won't you be seated?"

  "Thank you; yes."

  He drew a chair forward so that they sat nearly facing each otheracross a low table upon which many of the princess' personal effectshad already been arranged. Among them was a box of Russian cigaretteswhich she now indicated by a gesture, while with a smile which lightedher face wonderfully and gave to it that added charm that isindescribable, she said:

  "There are some of your favorite cigarettes, Saberevski. I had you inmind when I included them among my personal baggage, having no doubtthat I should encounter you when I should arrive in this country; butlittle thinking that you would be the first to greet me. You willpardon me for not indulging in one of them myself, for you know that Ihave never acquired the habit. Nevertheless they will perhaps suggestto you the flavor of home, and may transport you for a moment to thescenes which I know you are longing for."

  "Thank you, princess," he replied, and lighted one. Then he leaned backin his chair, closed his eyes, and for a time there was utter silencebetween these two. The man seemed indeed to have been transported inthought, to his native environment, not so much by the odor and flavorof the cigarette he puffed with such calm enjoyment, as by the presenceof this magnificent creature who confronted him so daintily, and whoreceived him so simply and yet so grandly. "You knew, then, that I washere in New York, princess?" he asked of her presently, peering at herthrough the smoke he was making; and he smiled comfortably across thedistance that separated them.

  "I knew you were in America, Saberevski; and to me America means NewYork. I believed that you would not be long in making yourself known tome after my arrival, for I knew that the papers would announce it, andthat your--shall I call it your duties?--would require that you shouldnot permit my presence here to pass unnoticed."

  The man shrugged his shoulders, indulging himself in another smile ashe replied:

  "It is hardly kind of you to attribute this call to duty on my part.When I am in your presence I find myself wishing that there were nosuch things as duties to be performed. When I look at you, Zara, I wishthat I were young again, and that I might throw duty to the winds andenter the list against all others who seek you."

  An expression of annoyance, as fleeting as it was certain, came intoher eyes, and she replied with a little show of impatience:

  "Spare me that sort of thing, Saberevski. One does not always wish tohear such expressions as that; and coming from you, addressed to me,they are not pleasant."

  "Not even when you know them to be sincere, Zara? I spoke in the pasttense, and only of what might have been were the disparity of our yearsless, and if the environment by which we are respectively surroundedcould have been different."

  "In other words," she smiled back at him, now recovered from herimpatience, "if the world had been created a different one, and if wewere not ourselves; as we are."

  "Precisely," he replied, and laughed.

  "I did not even look at your card when it was brought to me," she said,with an abrupt change of the subject; "had I done so I would not havekept you waiting so long. Tell me something about yourself, Saberevski;and why it is that you have deemed it wise, or perhaps necessary tobecome an expatriate, and to deprive St. Petersburg and all who arethere, of your presence and your wise counsels."

  "I am afraid it is too long a story and hardly worth the telling atthat. St. Petersburg has tired of me. I am better away from it, and itis much better with me away; believe me."

  "And his majesty, the czar? Is he also of that opinion, my friend?"

  "His majesty, the czar, does me the honor, princess, to approve of mypresent plans and conduct," replied Saberevski with slow and low tonedemphasis.

 
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