The Lad and the Lion

Chapter Five

Edgar Rice Burroughs

ANDRESY, Bulvik, and Carlyn did not talk together at sidewalk cafes any more. They were never seen together on the streets at all. When they met it was generally in the back room of a small inn that was run by a friend. Here they could eat and drink and talk unobserved. It was not safe to do that together in public any more since Sarnya had organized his corps of secret military police. They always met evenings now, for Bulvik had a job that kept him occupied during the day. Bulvik and Carlyn were on their second bottle of wine this evening when Andresy came in.

“Yon are late, brother,” said Bulvik.

“Yes,” said Andresy. “I thought I was being followed.”

“Are you sure you eluded them?” asked Carlyn, fearfully.

“Quite,” said Andresy. “I may have been mistaken, but one never knows these days. Sarnya’s spies are everywhere. “

“Are you sure no one saw you come in here?” demanded Bulvik. “It would be fatal were I to be seen with you, for you are known.”

“No one saw me, brother; you may rest assured as to that,” Andresy replied confidently. “But how about you? How are you progressing?”

“I am working regularly in the main gardens now,” replied, Bulvik. “I see the king and Ferdinand almost every day. I could get either of them nearly every day. On some days I could get both of them together. It would be very simple. Oftentimes it is difficult to resist the temptation.”

“You have your, orders,” said Andresy shortly. “We do not want them. It is Sarnya we want. Does he never come into the gardens?”

“Seldom,” replied Bulvik. “When he has come, it has been impossible to approach him without arousing suspicion. There are always members of the secret police with him. He is better guarded than the king or the prince. But some day he will pass close to me—too close for his own.hea1th.”

“You are not suspected?” asked Carlyn.

“No, not at all. They pay no attention to me. As far as Ferdinand and Otto are concerned I might as well be the dirt under their feet, the swine. I am told that the old king and Michael used to talk with everyone, but not these two. I should like nothing better than to shoot them both, especially the boy. I think he will be worse than his father. He has more brains and more courage and a worse disposition. He hates the people—calls us scum and dregs and dogs. The only person of our class he even looks at is the gardener’s daughter. She is a very pretty girl and growing prettier. If I were her father, I’d slit her throat before I’d let her grow up around the palace.”

“But Ferdinand is only a child,” objected Andresy.

“Children grow up,” said Bulvik, “and oftentimes they are precocious.”

“Well, we do not have to worry about that,” said Andresy. “We have but one thing to think of now—Sarnya. We can get nowhere while he lives. The next I hear of you, brother, I shall hope to hear that you have fulfilled your mission.”

“And that will be the last you will ever hear of me,” said Bulvik.

“Your name will live forever, brother,” Andresy assured him, “long after Sarnya’s is forgotten.”

“Much difference it will make to me or to Sarnya,” grumbled Bulvik.

.     .     .     .     .

“Why is it, Hilda, that the prince will not play with me?” asked Hans. “Mike used to, and we all had such good fun together. Whenever Ferdinand comes around I have to stand up straight and salute, and then he sends me away. Why does he not send you away, too?”

“Because I am a girl,” said Hilda.

“What do you and he play?” asked Hans.

“We do not play,” said Hilda. “We talk. You see, we are getting grown up. We are older than you or Mike. We talk of many things that you would not understand.”

“Fiddlesticks!” said Hans.

“Here he comes now,” said Hilda. “You’d better run away and play somewhere else.”

“I have no one to play with since Mike went away and Ferdinand keeps you from playing with me. I hate him!”

“You must not say such things! Now run away.” When Ferdinand approached, she curtsied, as he had told her she must in case someone might see them meet; for Ferdinand was a stickler for appearances. Then they went and sat on the bench behind the shrubbery and talked of many things that Hans would not have understood.

Hilda was very pretty and a natural coquette, and Ferdinand was a normal boy approaching adolescence. Also, it was quite secluded on the bench behind the shrubbery. Ferdinand thought no one could see them when he kissed Hilda for the first time, but Hans saw. He had come up from behind them to learn what it was they talked of that he would not understand.

There was another man in the garden not far away, but he was not particularly interested in them. He was just working and waiting—waiting, hoping, and hating, principally hating. It was Bulvik.

General Count Sarnya had been closeted with the king. Ordinarily he left by the postern door, but today he had ordered one of the palace motors to meet him inside the gates. His own car and police guard waited at the postern gate. Count Sarnya was keeping a rendezvous that he did not wish even his own police to know about—or, perhaps, especially his own police. The system of spying becomes quite complex eventually because it is necessary to have spies to spy on spies and other spies to spy on the spies who spy on spies. This was what had happened to Count Sarnya’s system.

As he walked alone through the palace gardens, Bulvik saw him coming. So did Ferdinand, and he sat very still and drew Hilda farther behind the shrubbery. As Count Sarnya came opposite him, Bulvik suddenly sprang to his feet. There were three revolver shots in quick succession. Hilda screamed; and Hans, unnoticed, fled from his concealment and raced for home.

.     .     .     .     .

The following evening Andresy and Carlyn sat in the back room of the inn of their friend. They were depressed and glum.

“First Meyer, now Bulvik,” said Carlyn, “and nothing accomplished. We are worse off than we were under the old regime. Poor Bulvik! He will not even be classed as a martyr. No one will remember him but you and I.”

“To be a martyr,” said Andresy, “one should first be a good shot. He missed Sarnya completely, I understand; and Sarnya shot him twice in the heart before he could fire again.”

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