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Page 24

CHAPTER II - SEEDS OF TRAGEDY

AS the respectful equerry followed closely on the heels of the man in black fur, there was a short sharp blast on the whistle from the locomotives ahead. This was answered by the pilot engine drawn up just out of sight ; and the great train began to move ponderously out of the little wayside station, leaving two very astonished men behind it.
" His Majesty is in his own apartment, your Highness," said the equerry. " I trust your Highness is fully recovered now," he added rather nervously.
" Thank you," was the gruff answer, " I am almost myself again."
There was a grim note in the unpleasant voice as he said this, and the young officer was vaguely conscious of having given offence. But he was quite used to the manner of his Imperial Master and believed himself completely au fait with the ways of Royalty.
Autocrat though he was, and afraid of nothing in the world, the visitor was conscious of a quickening of his pulses. It was not because he feared the man he was going to see. For although he was an emperor, they were first cousins ; and being men of similar ambitions, shared many a sinister secret with each Other' No ! The cause of his excitement was that a He great deal hung on the result of this interview. had already decided on a plan, which he had everS' reason to believe his imperial cousin would welcome

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