The next day began early. The young man awoke when the
sun was still red. He roused Ivan and some other guests and they tiredly
drank coffee while the servants were sweeping up. There would be only
men travelling to the jewel market. The ladies were still asleep. Ivan
quietly woke Katherine and asked if shed like to go to the market.
She was happily getting dressed when Aurelle stirred and asked if she
could join them. Ivan told her that there would be only men going to
the market. He then went and told Katherine to go back to sleep - before
she could object he disappeared through the hall and boarded the departing
The market consumed the town hall and the street surrounding the Powder
Castle. Vendors from all over the region had set up stands or laid out
blankets and were selling marvels, charms, silver trinkets and musical
instruments. The mens coach was expected by a group of finely
dressed Jewish businessmen who led them into the ground floor of a large
urban mansion. They were given tea. The young jewel trader objected
to the tea and, instead, took wine. Musicians were brought in to entertain
the young trader and his entourage. The sofa he was offered was stiff
and uncomfortable. He opted instead for a cushion on the floor, which
he sat on while propping his back against a fluted column and drinking
wine. One by one, vendors entered with their finest offerings. The young
man knew well how to judge the quality and cut of the jewels. His father
had instructed him with firm discipline and he ignored the annoyance
of his entourages insistence that he purchase the Bohemian coloured
lead crystal or other bulky, low-value goods.
The young trader purchased several kilos of garnets. Their grade was
high but garnets in general were not of exquisite value, although it
was the tendance for young Parisians to wear garnet bracelets and brooches.
This effected the market and it was necessary to buy several kilos.
He also, as his father had requested, purchased eight kilos of astral
emeralds and sapphires. The cuts were fine but not expertise. He could
have them recut in Paris. Some of the emeralds were engraved
which was seldom seen outside of the orient this style didnt
please the young man but cut emeralds were also very popular with the
young, wealthy Parisians. Purchasing gemstones was similar to gambling
in a casino. The dealers offered wine and cognac to try and loosen the
purse strings of the buyer. Hands moved quickly and eyes darted around,
it was necessary to think quickly and act cautiously.
The young man was often reckless in behaviour but he had been trained
well in this trade so when he was alone in the Prague marketplace, he
acted cool and wisely. After he secured parcels of emeralds, sapphires
and garnets, he asked that the doors be barred so no more dealers could
enter. Ivan and the young man drank and talked merrily on the Bohemian
tapestries. The young man gave Ivan many of the gifts he had been offered
by the dealers mostly bulky crystal trinkets. Ivan accepted without
hesitance and they continued to drink.
Their coaches had been moved to the rear of the mansion to a
gated courtyard where fountains flowed and ivy climbed. The entourage
disappeared quietly through the back and, after loading the jewels in
the coaches, left through the cobbled streets of Prague.
The young man had no reason to worry about robbers. Neither did he worry
about Ivans men ransacking his parcels. A successful jewel trader
had a large network of comrades who ensured that he was respected and
almost feared. The only threats to a successful jewel trader were the
officials at the foreign borders for they worked for the government,
had the government on their side, yet their low pay and status ensured
that they remained deviant and unfaithful to all including their
On the way back, Ivan exclaimed that he wanted to stop by the grand
Muzeum to show the young man all the relics of the great Bohemian wars.
The young man wouldnt hear of that, however, there were too many
valuables in the coaches even if Ivans men remained outside
to guard them, it was not an option. Besides, the young man wanted to
return to the estate to see Katherine.
The girls were not present when the men returned and the young man felt
suddenly lonesome upon returning. There was another feast planned; it
was Monday afternoon and the young man would be passing the border the
next day. They would eat, drink, sleep and then ride west, Ivan kept
saying as if it was a grand adventure to look forward to.
Ivan hoped that the girls would not return that night. He had not invited
them but that hadnt stopped their casual appearances in the past.
Ivan knew exactly the unrest that was caused by the handsome young mans
presence and he had thought it over and over and decided that if it
came down to it, he would be ready to kill the young man. He didnt
care what power or army the young man had on his side. If it were necessary,
Ivan would kill the young man, without delay. Ivan drank his tea and
smiled with a new sense of carefree power.
Meanwhile the young man considered Ivans earlier words and decided
that it might not be a good idea to confess his feelings to Katherine.
He had already, in his brief life, known many cruel women who cared
more about power than sincerity. Still the young man felt, while picturing
Katherines soft and pale face, that she was neither malevolent
nor petty. She would not be interested in such futile games.
He thought. He drank the bitter tea beside Ivan and sifted through his
purchases of that day.
The young man had many plans and ideas for attaining this young jewel,
Katherine, but each one was flawed and unsure. He speculated on Ivans
true malevolent wishes and came to the conclusion that no one within
the boundaries of Bohemia was truly on his side at least yet.
The young man resisted when Ivan, insisted that the two of them spend
the evening out in the high-class dens and salons of Prague. There was
a feast in preparation and the young man was determined to remain for
it. A young lady entered the room. She was tall and blonde. Her face
was almost pleasant but slightly bony sharing the Slovak appearance
that was common amongst Ivans friends. She walked with her head
hunched over from disproportionate height. Her body was overly thin
and this kept her from achieving the graceful movements that she was
obviously seeking to convey. Her laugh was plentiful yet disturbing,
full of snorts and heckles and she immediately took a fondness for the
handsome young man. She apparently had no other reason for sitting beside
him and showing such blatant interest other than for that she adored
to speak of France and specifically of Paris. The young man didnt
want to speak with her about Paris, he didnt care for Paris rhetoric
and he cared even less for her pedantic way of speaking. He humoured
her for a short while, then poked fun at the way she spoke of the old
Parisian writers whom she obviously didnt understand; finally
during one of her sentences, he fell asleep on a plate of bread that
was set out in front of him.
Although she was insulted, she laughed at this and moved on to interrupt
a conversation that was taking place not too far away.
The young man awoke soon after to a caress on his neck and lower collar.
He didnt awake suddenly but softly, and comfortably. Turning his
head, he had expected to see Ivan cooing softly with his palms upon
the young mans back instead it was Katherine. He looked
to her eyes softly, which held both the romantic light of mid-evening
as well as the nurturing affection of a mother. He held her eyes briefly
and then turned to see if Ivan was in the room.
"Are you looking for Ivan?" She asked.
"No." The young man said softly.
"Oh, well he was outside taking a keg of vodka from a wagon when
the cat dragged the sandbag out from beneath its wheel. The old wagon
rolled down the hill. Hes probably chased it clear down to the
Jewish quarter." She laughed.
The young man laughed too - softer though, more concerned with the woman
"I will be leaving early tomorrow morning."
"I know." Katherine said.
"Would you like to see Spain?"
"Someday." She replied, with no hope in her voice.
"Are you engaged here in Prague?" The young man asked.
"For the moment
but I do not plan to return after I am back
"Is Ivan going to accompany you to Germany?"
"That isnt planned why do you ask?" Katherine
took her soft hands off of the young man and crossed them over her breast.
A pendant with a small crystal bird swung back and forth from the movement."
"Isnt Ivan the reason you are here?"
"Certainly not!" Katherine laughed. "I am here with my
brother, Ivans good friend. I accompanied him here for the first
time last week."
"And your brother
he is the fiancé of Miss Aurelle?"
The young man asked, testing the situation.
"A humorous idea! That would, indeed upset his friend Ivan."
"You and Ivan have spoken intimately often during the last two
he didnt mention that he is to marry Aurelle?"
"No." The young man said truthfully.
"That is surprising, considering Aurelle has taken quite an interest
in you. I figured that Ivan would have made his position clear
so you mean that he didnt tell you this even after you gave the
chain of opals to his fiancée?"
"I havent given a chain of opals to anyone, in fact I accidentally
destroyed her string of pearls."
"Curious! The games you boys play."
The young man decided then to ask the young Katherine for a walk in
the garden when an abrupt, handsome man danced over and grabbed her
hand, leading her to the wood floor under the chandelier where the two
could dance to the music of the piano player who was commencing.
The young man watched the two of them. He felt childish jealousy as
the young man swung her around and held her by the waist.
Rather than watch, he went alone to the garden. This night was a bit
cooler and, not feeling like a lonesome promenade, he returned to the
steps to smoke.
The couple Katherine and the new handsome face soon after
retreated to the patio where the young man was smoking. They were holding
hands and laughing and this made him cringe with a jealous apathy.
The young man in fact had a chain of opals it was in his pocket.
And while the couple approached, he thumbed it nervously.
"My brother." Katherine said, tilting her head towards her
"This is your brother?" The young man asked, feeling silly
for having the previous pangs of childish jealousy.
"Hi Salvador!" A hand was outstretched.
"A pleasure!" Salvador too reached out his hand, but his contained
the chain of opals, which he pressed into the brothers hand.
The brother bowed low and thanked him. When he realised that they were
true opals, he became even more grateful, "How did you know that
my birthday is in October the month of the opal?"
"Well here it is October first your birthday must be soon."
"Actually, its tonight." The brother laughed, "Did
you think these festivities were for you?"
The two men talked charmingly and lightly for several moments. Katherine
was eager to be among them and she darted her ears and eyes back and
The blue-lit clouds above thinned and formed wispy, lamp-shaped streaks
that blew across the sky as a new, warm breeze descended, making the
night feel like august and the stars blink gay and bright.
The hedges and thickets of rhododendrons contrasted sharply against
the sky. They absorbed the light of the stars and after the brother
had happily returned inside, Katherine and the young man walked between
them, talking of Bohemia, of Germany, of youth and the future. They
were soon after much closer and naturally their hands fell together
to warm each other as they walked.
Those moments in the garden didnt last long enough for the young
man neither for Katherine. The new couple was interrupted by
a drunken trail of singers, led by the pedantic woman who had earlier
begged the attention of the young man. The group of singers were colourful
with bright streamers trailing off their feet and monstrous, makeshift
costumes. The brother, third in the line, pulled the young man and Katherine
into the group of howlers and, after the orgy had grown to fill the
garden, Katherine had disappeared whereas the young man stood alone,
wandering around, looking for a glass of wine.
It was at the banquet table some moments later that Ivan approached.
He was unusually sober and cool. The young man joked a bit with no reaction
and then asked the large, brooding figure to take a walk.
"Have you seen Aurelle?" He asked the young man.
The two fell silent. All the while, the young man thought to himself.
Realising that he owed Ivan essentially nothing, and that he would be
leaving the following morning, he went forward and spoke without apprehension.
"Why do you worry so much about Aurelle this night?"
"I was just speaking
The young man interrupted, "I thought you were in love with Katherine."
"Of course I am that is my blessure." Ivan sulked.
"The why are you engaged to marry Aurelle?" The young man
"Who on earth told you this?" Ivan appeared shocked.
"Katherines brother" The young man said without thinking.
"Oh!" Ivan laughed. "Indeed I told him this when Katherine
and I had a falling out
about six months ago, after I first met
Miss Katherine." Ivan stopped speaking and began to whistle a carefree
tune that annoyed the young man.
"Do go on
"I already explained that Katherine had initially confessed her
love for me. I have not lied to you in any way."
"And you love Katherine. Why then did you tell her brother that
you were engaged to Aurelle?" The young man was confused.
"Katherine and I would probably be married now if I hadnt
grown unbelievably jealous one afternoon when I saw Katherine kiss a
man rather affectionately in my own courtyard. It was a just several
days after I met her. She came alone in the night from Berlin and introduced
herself. I was immediately entranced and, although I didnt understand
why she came to my estate, I let her in and had the maids prepare a
bed for her.
That week the two of us fell madly in love with each other and were
inseparably morning to night. Only two days later she disappeared
for several hours. Finally I caught a glimpse of her near the fountain.
I couldnt see clearly but I knew she was kissing a strange man.
I drew a blade from the wall near the door and charged the man in jealousy.
That was the first time that I had such an immensity of blood upon my
hands and clothes. When I came threw from a dizzy sickness that followed,
I realised that the man I almost killed was my best friend, the brother
of Katherine. That is why Katherine came to my estate. She had planned
to reunite with her brother. He was indeed my best friend and he soon
forgave me for the near-fatal wounds. Katherine, however, ended our
romance and I took solace in the company of Aurelle. Since then I have
been trying bring Katherine back to me."
The young man didnt want to believe that Katherine had ever loved
Ivan but his story sounded in earnest. Ivan trembled slightly in the
moonlight. He looked much too human there. His hard Slovak features
showed wrinkles and his body hunched over in soft weakness. Before,
the young man had wanted to take Katherine with him in the night like
a rogue; but now, after seeing the feebleness of his friend Ivan, he
decided that it was right and noble to fight fairly for the love of
this woman. He decided then that he would leave in the morning as planned
and, upon bidding farewell to Miss Katherine, he would offer her the
opportunity to reunite with him in Spain, or in France, or even in Germany
as far as she could travel alone.
When Ivan and the young man finished speaking that evening, the both
looked at each other with a mutual, unmentioned respect for one another.
The young man felt well of this Bohemian prince, whose eyes were capable
of revealing the pain of an urban beggar, when he let him be that night
and slipped off in the dark to the room where he was to be sleeping.
its your little German owl
"Hi!" The young man said, rolling back his bedclothes to let
Katherine, his little owl, sit down beside him. The room was dark all
but a lamp that was left burning on the balcony near a nightingales
"Hello sweet owl." The young man said sleepily to Katherine,
caressing her bare arm as she sat beside him.
"When do you leave tomorrow?" She asked a bit worried.
"I wish I could come with you." Katherine whispered, stretching
herself out beside the young man simultaneously kissing him on
"Can you?" He replied with hope, lying his head on her breast.
"Im afraid I must wait her with my brother until the troops
pass next week. But if you can not stay with me here, I will go as far
as Spain to find you."
"I wont go far without you. I would stay with you but then,
Im afraid, my papers will expire and neither will I be able
to return with the gemstones, nor will I have an entourage to return
me to Spain."
"I understand your duties, but please know that I would return
with you next week, had you no jewels nor even any money even
if I had to carry the rickshaw, that you were to ride in myself."
Kissing her softly, "Im afraid that many of the jewels I
carry have already been purchased by others. But this is still no reason
to say goodbye. I will return for you or by any means."
The two lay softly together for quite a while. Outside the young mans
room, the sounds of no one could be heard. The young man lay awake,
tracing the shapes of the shadows on the wall with his fingers. The
young lady was almost asleep when he spoke again.
"I will return to Spain with the jewels and the immediately ride
to Weimar to reunite with you. It shouldnt take more than two
"My love," Katherine said for the first time, "There
is no reason for you to return to Spain immediately. You can deposit
the jewels in Weimar at my brothers and wait there for
me or return here if youd like
then we will travel
to Spain together.
The young man thought about this and realised that he could be back
with Katherine in two days. But what, he thought, what
about Ivan, the man who stabbed another out of jealousy for the affections
of Katherine. It would not be safe for him to return to Prague for her.
It was apparent that Ivan would, upon the couples departure, hunt
the young man down and slay him.
"I will," He continued, "Leave the gems at your brothers.
Then I will wait a few days and travel to the border of Bohemia and
Germany where I will greet you and your brother upon your voyage
It will just be the two of you departing, correct?"
and do you mean it? Youll travel to find me?"
"I will." The young man concluded.
The two new lovers drifted quickly and unknowingly to sleep in each
others arms. At dawn, Katherine awoke and realised that she must return
to her room. With a kiss they confirmed plans and Katherine slipped
out the door. The young man thought quietly. He was no longer quiet.
He lay silently and thought with great pleasure and apprehension about
the coming week. When we are together and travelling to Spain,
everything will be alright. He thought, I will have to stop
in Paris and give the jewels and the papers to my father; then, it is
sure, I will go to Spain. We will seek the sun and be alone together
her and me.
When the birds lit up the blue sky with their song, the young man dressed
quietly and entered Ivans room to rouse him. Ivan was pleasant
but quite tired and while the young man drank coffee in the kitchen,
Ivan prepared the wagons and the other men.
The caravan trailed up the side of the sunlit hills, exactly as it had
rode in. Ivan and the young man shared the trailing, two-man rickshaw,
lined with velvet and cabinets of oak and mahogany. They drank brandy
together and, in an informal ceremony, the young man offered Ivan
as expected many valuable gifts in exchange for the hospitality.
Ivan wanted to wait for the exchange until before they reached the customs
gates but the young man was very excited to give Ivan his gifts. Ivan
received them very sentimentally and this annoyed the young man. After
they had only been in the same coach together for twenty-minutes
after they had just left the confines of Prague the young man
made a pretext to go and sit with the drivers who were swearing and
drinking. The young man did enjoy their company more than the overly
refined Ivan but there was some weak spirit in Ivans soul that
the young man would miss after the two had parted ways.
When Ivan ceased shouting up ahead to the young man, and after the drivers
stopped taking notice of him, the young man slipped back to the third
car which was empty except for wine and his jewels. There he
could be alone and comfortable and he revelled it for the few moments
he stayed there.
Soon, after the commotion had stopped and all of the passengers fell
silent with the realisation that they had, yet, a long way to go, the
young man quickly strapped the burlap bags of gemstones to his back
and dove out of the coach into a neighbouring bush.
He had scratches on his legs and arms from the brier, but he shook off
the pain in order to watch the road. He had to see if his companions
wagons stopped. He thought that he should run if Ivan or one of
the drivers noticed that he was gone. No, one second thought,
he considered, its perfectly reasonable to think that I
just fell out of the wagon when I was trying to return to Ivans
coach. Ill say that I would have chased after them but I was too
hurt from the briar cuts
then I can escape again a few more kilometres
down the road.
There was, however, no sign of stopping wagons nor approaching drivers.
The young man was mostly intact; he had his jewels and he would head
back to Ivans estate to meet Katherine,
The young man walked for several hours before finding a farm inhabitants
and running water to cleanse his wounds. Initially, the farmer didnt
trust the young man for his loose travelling clothes and burlap sacs
were stained with mud from the side of the road where he fell.
After offering the belligerent farmer several blue sapphires, however,
his temperament turned to kindness and the farmer agreed to sell the
young man a horse.
The young man paid for the horse with a few of the lowest-grade gems.
The farmer didnt know the difference. Once the horse was purchased
and untied, the young man galloped off towards the estate. He had very
little time to return to the frontier before his gems were seized and
his papers robbed. His first priority, however, was to return to Katherine
and bring her with him at all costs.
When the young man returned, Katherine was at the estate, speaking with
the maids. The young man called to her from the garden quietly and she
brightened up, ran out and jumped upon him wrapping her arms
around his body.
He explained with less affection than urgency that she had to cross
the frontier with him at all costs. He offered to provide her brother
with whatever money he needed to stay safely in Bohemia until after
the German troops passed through.
She almost acquiesced without question. Then she asked, "Where
He explained his escape to her and she informed him that there was only
one road that could take him to German that evening. She insisted that
he return on that road and, when meeting Ivan on his way back, explain
that he fell out of the coach. He could then cross the frontier alone
and wait for her. She would also take that road, but ride a few kilometres
behind. She would hide herself in a dark hood, she said, and explained
that there would be danger if Ivan and his men found him and her heading
for the border together.
The young man acquiesced to her plan. The important things were that
he returned to Germany that evening, with his papers and the Jewels
and Katherine near to him and that she never again comes face
to face with Ivan. The young man set out again, alone on his horse.
He said goodbye to Katherine with less tender romance but more fiery
passion than he had ever offered a woman.
She didnt question his behaviour yet she also bid so long with
passion and worried longing.
He watched from the hill as Katherine too mounted a horse, hooded and
unrecognisable, and began to climb the hill.
The young man increased his speed to a gallop. He would have to continue
at that pace if he were to return to the border before his papers expired.
The burlap sacks were firmly strapped on either side of the horse. The
jewels within belonged to his father, yet he would be able it
was certain to retain enough of them to comfortably travel to
Spain with Katherine.
Later, not doubting her intentions, only doubting the clarity of their
plan, the young man climbed a hill with his horse off the side of the
road. From this hill, he could see the rooftops of Prague; he could
also see the hooded rider many kilometres back. It was no doubt Katherine
the lonesome rider, and he watched her for many moments, thinking sweetly
of their time together.
The young man met Ivan sometime later on the same road they had,
together, travelled down. Ivan was confused but if he was furious,
it was well masked. The young man told the story of the accident that
he had invented and Ivan was relieved. Ivan said that normally, the
young man shouldnt attempt to cross the border alone, for the
border officials are bandits and they would now doubt, rob his papers,
gems and money. This the young man knew and he asked, knowing Ivan was
too tired, if one of his men a government official, could accompany
and ensure that the young man passed freely.
"There is no need for that." Ivan said. "We made it clear
to the border before discovering that you had fallen out of the coach.
The road was bare and there were no officials at the gate. Im
happy to say that you could cross easily with as many jewels or contraband
that you care to."
This made the young man happy because, due to the late hour, he wasnt
sure if he could make the border before midnight the hour that
his papers expired.
"So go alone my boy, and with no need to wish you luck,
I wish you well." Ivan said.
The young man gave Ivan another colourless sapphire, which was loose
in his pocket and bid farewell. The caravan continued on, back for Prague.
The young man looked back to watch their leaving and then galloped forth
to the German border.
The hills of Bohemia were even more green and voluptuous, this autumn
noon, than the finest country in Switzerland or Austria. The young man
felt in love with the dark-haired girl and in a dream on the whole expense;
he was lazy and happy until they reached the border.
There were, as Ivan had promised, no customs officials at their stations
and the young man passed free and easy. He waited on the German side
for several hours but his lazy happiness turned to longer for the girl.
She was only a few kilometres back. Thought the young man
as he built a small fire with some scotch broom that was growing nearby
The night sky was steady, as it had been for hours and the chill, together
with the brilliant stars made the young man think that midnight had
He thought that there might have been a problem with Katherine passing
There couldnt have been a problem, he thought, she
is alone, unarmed, and more importantly, she is German.
Still, with his doubts, he returned to the road and rounded the hill
where the border could be seen easily.
The customs men had returned to their post. They were in an old, shingled
shed. Occasionally, one would pass the road, smoking, tossing rocks
off over the hills ledge.
Any moment, the young man thought, Katherine would
ride towards them on her horse cloaked in a dark hood. And she
would pass and curve the bend in the road where the young man would
surprise her pulling her from her horse in an embrace.
It went almost exactly like that. The dark rider passed easily the border
she continued a few meters and rounded back to the border, dismounting
her horse and looking around. She then held his reigns while walking
slowly around the bend.
The young man descended the hill and came upon the back of the rider.
She turned around, and screamed in a loud but unthreatening female scream.
She then noticed it was the young man and she said, "Oh Salvador."
Wrapping her arms around him.
She then pulled off her hood. A face of horror was undeniably present
on the young man when he discovered the young woman to be Aurelle.
"What are you doing here?" The young man asked.
"I was told that you wished me to come."
"You mean," she continued, ignoring his last question, "You
are not happy to see me? We were to go to Paris together."
"No, I am more than happy to see you," The young man lied.
"But who told you to meet me here?"
"The maid in the kitchen." Aurelle lied, embracing the young
Shaking her arms off, "Were there any others on the road?"
Ivan and his men. But with my hood I passed them easily
The hood she wrapped her fingers in while speaking through her small,
hard-boned mouth. It was the same, or similar, hood that Katherine had
worn when the two had left Ivans estate that afternoon.
"There were no others?" The young man asked.
a cart with some grains led by a farmer and his children.
"Yes, why? Do we leave now, my sweet boy, for France?"
"Im afraid I must catch up with Ivan, I had left two bags
of gems in his rickshaw. I must get them then I will return."
"But, as Im aware, you cant again cross the border
with these jewels or you will lose them. You may however leave them
with me." Aurelle said eyeing the bulky burlap sacks.
"I may also leave them with the customs men," The young man
said. "They are armed and will be safe with them." He knew
that the stories were true, that the customs officials were, indeed,
dishonest and may take the jewels but he still had his papers and he
must find Katherine.
At the border, the officials checked every bag. The young man said that
there was no reason for this since he would be leaving the jewels at
the gate for the men to safeguard.
"Im afraid you will have to leave your papers with us too.
You may not pass into Bohemia with these papers, now expired."
The young man knew better than this but, as he only cared about finding
Katherine, he acquiesced and handed over his fathers decorated
The road back was dark and unlit, yet his mare knew the way to ride
and the young man fell into a wakeful reverie all the while,
keeping his eyes out for Ivans company and Katherine.
Neither were to be seen on the road to Prague. When he returned to the
area surrounding the city, he could see lit roads and dark rooftops
surrounding the river that flowed through the center of Prague.
Few people marched in the streets as he descended the hills near the
castle - some soldiers and peasants were all. Coloured lanterns shone
brilliantly through the walls of the wealthy landowners gates.
Their reflections spotted on the ponds in the misty night.
Another feast was commencing at Ivans estate. From the gate, the
young man could see lit rooms and figures passing in the windows
drinking and the sounds of laughter could be heard. Couples fled with
each other arm in arm from the music-filled halls of the
mansion to be alone together in the mild night. They passed between
the rows of bushes and hedges periodically and the young man called
out to them, demanding entrance. They were all too drunk and consumed
by their companions to heed his shouting from the locked gates, where,
eventually guards took position and denied his entrance.
Katherine was not visible and though many young women passed in the
yard, none were she. After every attempt capable of a bold mind, the
young man was not able to re-enter the estate of Ivan where his dear
girl was engaged.
It was only after Ivan himself threatened the intruder and asked the
guards to have him arrested that he realised his position, remounted
his horse and left the gates of Prague. On the eastward ride, where
the road was empty of travellers and the night was advancing to its
darkest moment, the young mans thoughts were not on Katherine
of her affairs and the feast she was attending
not on the
incalculable Ivan, who, in the end, revealed himself as a villain of
the commonest sorts. He thought not once of the unknown and unwanted
Aurelle, who was to be as far from the Bohemian border upon his return
as the customs guards he had briefly spoken to. He only thought of his
father who awaited his young mans return from a first voyage with
a purse of profit and the entrusted documents unharmed. It was for his
father that the shamed young man kept his head bowed on his slow return
to the frontier of his home.
© David Payne 2000
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