Our War with Monaco by Edward Page Mitchell
When I last visited Monaco I found that enlightened community in a
state of exasperation against everything that is American. I even
detected covert hostility in the manner of M. Berg of the Beau Rivage
Hotel, who had formerly received me with so much politeness. After
breakfast, during which meal the waiter glared at me with undisguised
hatred, I went to pay my respects to our diplomatic representative, an
acquaintance of old in Ohio. The consul's face was haggard, as if from
protracted anxiety. He was putting the final touches to an elaborate
"What is the trouble, Green?" I demanded.
The consul sighed repeatedly while he was framing his reply. The
excellent fellow had a habit of adorning his ordinary conversation with
the phraseology of an official dispatch. This process required more or
less time, but the effect was impressive.
"I must inform you," he said, "that the relations between the United
States and the Independent Principality of Monaco, cordial as they have
been in the past, are approaching a crisis full of peril. Recent events
justify the apprehensions which I have from time to time expressed in
my communications to the Department of State at Washington. It would be
folly to conceal the fact that the present attitude of the court of
Prince Charles III is anything but friendly to our own government; or
that the situation is one which calls for the utmost watchfulness and
the most delicate diplomacy. I have the honor to add that I shall be
both prudent and firm."
"Yes," said I; "but what is the row about?"
"The complication," he replied, emphasizing that word, "arises
partly from the dark intrigues of the crafty statesmen who surround the
prince, and partly from the behavior of Americans here and at Nice,
"And who the deuce is Titus?"
"George Washington Titus," he replied, with a look full of gloom,
"is a man whose existence and acts embitter my official career; yet I
am constantly yielding to the remarkable influence which he exerts over
me, as over most people with whom he comes in contact. George
Washington Titus is a perpetual source of danger to the peace that has
been maintained so long between the United States and Monaco; yet when
he is with me I cannot help being carried away by the reckless
enthusiasm of his nature. To employ a colloquialism, he has kept me in
hot water ever since he arrived. Pardon me; but, privately and
personally and apart from my official capacity, I sometimes say to
myself, 'Confound George Washington Titus!'"
"Now," I remarked, "I am just as wise as I was before."
"The story is a long one, and, as in every affair of international
moment, the details are many and complicated. I am about to have an
interview with the hereditary prince, and shall officially request an
explanation of certain things. Come with me to the palace. I will give
you the facts as we walk."
It is only a step from the American consulate to the palace, and the
consul's narrative advanced slowly, owing to the dignity of its
periods. For convenience, I had better join what he told me on this
occasion with what I afterward learned respecting the difficulty.
Since 1869, when Prince Charles III abolished taxation, the revenue
of the government of Monaco has been derived exclusively from the
gaming tables at the casino. The prince's subjects, nearly six thousand
souls, have been prosperous and happy, having no taxes to pay and
plenty of travelers to fleece. The income from the casino has been
large enough to meet all administrative expenses, to support the court
in a style befitting the importance of the oldest reigning family in
Europe--for Prince Charles traces his line of descent directly back to
the Grimaldi of the tenth century--and to leave a handsome annual
surplus, part of which has been wisely devoted to a system of internal
In pursuit of this policy, it had been determined about a year
before to blast out the large rock at the mouth of the cove behind the
palace. The prince's Navy, which consists of a steam launch of about
twelve tons burden, armed with a swivel gun, is accustomed to ride at
anchor in this cove when not actively engaged. The rock seriously
impeded the free ingress and egress of the Navy. The contract for the
work of removal was awarded by Roasio, Minister of Marine, to Titus, an
Up to the time of Titus' arrival in Monaco, the Americans had been
popular with the subjects of the prince. They were liberal in expending
money, rarely disputed reckoning at the hotels, cafes, and shops, and
contributed largely to the revenue of the casino. The official pathway
of my friend, the consul, had lain over rose beds. Titus himself won
much applause at first. He was a tall, good-looking Baltimorean, who
had been major of Engineers in the Union Army. A genial and sometimes
roistering companion of men, gallant in his bearing toward the ladies
of the court, skillful in his attack on the obnoxious rock, he had
enjoyed for a time a pronounced success in Monaco. The people watched
with pride the operations of his divers, the work of his steam dredge,
the arrival and unloading of the square tin cans of dynamite which came
consigned to him from Marseilles. He was in a measure identified with
the mysterious forces of nature, and therefore a little feared; but it
was generally conceded that he deserved well of the inhabitants.
Soon, however, he was unfortunate enough to incur the displeasure of
several very influential personages; and although he himself cared not
a copper for the frown of any dignitary on the peninsula, the consul,
who felt more or less responsible for him, thenceforth trod on thorns.
Titus' decline in prestige was due to several causes.
One night, being in his cups, he had knocked down M. De Mussly, the
generalissimo of the Army, who had ventured to remonstrate with him for
practicing the war whoop of the American Indian in the public square in
front of the palace. On receiving a challenge the next morning from the
outraged warrior, Titus had laughed, and offered to swim with De Mussly
due south across the Mediterranean until one or the other should be
drowned. The affair was brought to the attention of the Tribunal
Superieur by M. Goybet, Advocate-General, but Consul Green succeeded in
having the charge suppressed.
Then followed another misadventure, far worse than the De Mussly
incident. At a grand ball at the casino, Titus deliberately excused
himself from dancing a fifth polka with the Princess Florestine, sister
of the reigning prince. This august lady is a widow, who, in spite of
her fifty years and two hundred pounds, has managed to preserve the
impulses and tastes of maiden youth. If rumor was to be credited, she
was not unkindly disposed toward the good-looking American engineer.
When Titus was asked by a friend why he chose to fly in the face of
Providence, he replied, "I had already danced four times with the
princess. The old lady ought to remember that people go to balls for
pleasure." This remark, of course, came to the ears of the princess,
and thereafter she devoted every energy to the accomplishment of Titus'
The unlucky American next provoked the hostility of the all-powerful
authorities at the casino, by introducing the game of poker as a rival,
in private society, to the public attractions of roulette and rouge et
noir. The new heresy spread like wildfire. In Monaco and in Nice people
lost money to each other, instead of to the bank, as formerly. Receipts
at the casino fell off more than one half. In vain the Administration
procured a deliverance from the ecclesiastical authorities, declaring
the game immoral. People still played poker. Worse than all, Titus and
his disciples turned the terrible new engine against the subjects of
the prince, and won their money. This was a start!ing innovation, and
it awakened deep resentment. It was said that no less a personage than
Monsignor Theuret, the Grand Almoner, having won thirteen thousand
francs at roulette on a succession of three seventeens, lost the entire
amount the next night at poker to Titus, and as much more besides; and
that he was obliged to give his note for a large sum to the American.
This was a specimen case.
As the prosperity of the people of Monaco rested wholly upon the
prosperity of the casino, popular indignation rose high against the
Americans, especially Titus. The poker question found a place in
politics. Titus' enemies were unceasing in their efforts to undermine
him at the court and neglected no means to inflame the prejudices of
Such, then, was the situation when I accompanied Consul Green to the
At the threshold of the mansion inhabited by the descendants of the
Grimaldi, we encountered a gorgeous usher wearing a heavy gold chain
upon the breast of his crimson velvet robe. He led the way across an
inner court and up a flight of marble steps, at the top of which he
surrendered us, with a magnificent bow, to the keeping of M. Ponsard,
Commandant of the Palace. Ponsard, in his turn, conducted us along a
corridor and through a series of stately apartments to the office of
the First Chamberlain, who after some delay ushered us into the
presence of the Grand Almoner of the prince's Household. This eminent
individual was seated at a desk writing. He greeted Green
ceremoniously. He was aware that Monsieur the American Minister had
audience that morning of the hereditary prince; but His Serene Highness
was just now reviewing the Army in the piazza before the palace. His
Serene Highness would soon return. If Monsieur the Minister and his
friend would like to witness the pageant, there was an admirable view
of the piazza from the balcony of the Salon des Muses, the third
apartment to the left. The chamberlain would show the way.
"A polite old gentleman," I remarked, as we followed the chamberlain
to the Salon des Muses.
"That extraordinary man," whispered Green, with a touch of awe in
his voice, "is Monsignor Theuret, one of the most astute statesmen in
Europe. His influence at court is practically boundless. He combines
ecclesiastical with secular functions, being apostolic administrator
and bishop of Hermopolis, and at the same time Grand Almoner of the
household and superintendent of the third Salle of the casino. Being
one of the chief leaders of the anti-Titus party, he both hates and
fears me; yet did you observe how well he dissembled?"
"It strikes me," said I, "that this doubling up of offices is rather
"It is necessary," returned Green, with perfect gravity, "in Monaco,
where the total population is not large. The First Chamberlain, ahead
of us here, as well as the Commandant of the Palace, and the usher with
the gold chain act at night as croupiers at the casino. Chevalier
Voliver, Minister of Foreign Affairs, leads the casino orchestra. He is
an excellent musician and rather friendly to our interests, inasmuch as
I have on several occasions rendered him trifling services of a
pecuniary nature. But I must admit that, in statecraft, the Chevalier
is weak and irresolute. He is hardly more than the tool and creature of
Monsignor Theuret, whose ambition is as limitless as his ability is
The First Chamberlain left us on the balcony. Thence we commanded a
view, not only of the piazza below, but of nearly the entire
principality. One could have fired a pistol ball into the
Mediterranean, either to the west or to the south, and to the north the
French frontier was within long rifle range. The palace itself shut off
the eastward view, but Green informed me that the sea boundary on that
side, with the cove where the Navy rode at anchor, was scarcely a
stone's throw away. Opposite us were the grounds of the casino, the
long stuccoed façade, the round concert kiosque, the theater,
the restaurants, and the shops of the bazaar. Above this seductive
establishment floated a captive balloon, in which visitors might ascend
to the length of the rope for twenty francs the trip.
From the balloon overhead I turned my attention to the spectacle in
the open piazza in front of the palace. Sidewalks, steps, doorways, and
windows were thronged with loyal subjects of Charles III. Directly
beneath us, on a fine black stallion, sat the hereditary prince,
motionless as a statue. The Army of Monaco, commanded by the intrepid
De Mussly, marched and countermarched before him, exhibiting its
proficiency in al! the evolutions known to modern military science. In
their smart red uniforms and white cockades, the thirty-two
carabineers, who constitute the effective force under De Mussly,
presented a truly formidable appearance, wheeling to and fro. The
generalissimo had drilled them to march with that peculiarly vicious
fling of the legs which is taught in Prussian tactics; and when they
came kicking across the square in fours, wheeled suddenly into a
sixteen-front line, halted before the hereditary prince, and grounded
arms with a simultaneous clang of thirty-two carbine butts against the
pavement, bravo after bravo arose from the delighted spectators, while
a smile of proud gratification rested for an instant upon His Serene
Just then I observed the eccentric actions of an individual halfway
across the square, who seemed to be trying to attract our notice. He
whistled through his knuckles, waved both arms in the air, and then,
apparently dissatisfied with the result of these demonstrations,
snatched a gun from the nearest soldier and raised his own silk hat on
the muzzle high above the heads of the crowd. Having restored the gun
to the astonished warrior, he expressed his low opinion of the Army,
for our benefit, by means of a derisive pantomime, and began to elbow
his way through the ranks toward us.
"It is Titus," groaned Green. "He is continually compromising me in
some such way."
The consul endeavored in vain to discountenance our fellow citizen
below, by staring fixedly in another direction. Titus was not to be
snubbed. He shouted, "Hi! Green," and, "Oh! Green," until he obtained
the full attention of my embarrassed companion.
"Be sure to be at home by two o'clock, Green," roared Titus. "I have
important news." Thereupon he gleefully flourished before our faces
what looked like an official document and hurried away.
When the First Chamberlain came to summon Green to his interview
with the hereditary prince, I returned to the consulate to await him.
He rejoined me at a little before two o'clock. "Well, what luck?" I
"The outlook is gloomy," he replied, nervously. "The interview was
most unsatisfactory. In order to commit the government of Monaco to
some definite form of complaint, I requested His Highness to say
candidly in what the American people had offended him. The prince
regarded me steadily with his dark, piercing eyes, and at last replied,
'Pouf! You Americans talk loudly at our tables d'hôte, bully our
croupiers, browbeat our gendarmes before our very face, and make
yourself generally obnoxious.' I perceived, of course, the
disingenuousness of this answer, but managed to control my indignation.
His Highness next asked me a good many questions about the financial
and material resources of the United States Government, the efficiency
of its military and naval forces, its debt, annual revenue, and so on.
I need not say that my answers to all these questions were guarded and
discreet. I then pressed the prince to tell me if there was any truth
in the report that a personage high in the court had a pecuniary
interest in fomenting trouble between the United States and Monaco. I
thought the prince winced a little at this home thrust; but he replied
in the negative, referring to the story as an 'idle bruit.' The
interview then ended; but as I came away I observed on the face of the
crafty Monsignor Theuret an expression which I could not fathom. It
seemed very like mirth, untimely as--"
Here the consul was interrupted by the precipitate entrance of
Titus, followed by three or four other Americans.
"Hallo, Green!" said this brusque individual. "Are you in the dumps?
I'll enliven you presently."
There was something in his tone, careless as it was, that fairly
startled Green out of his official dignity.
"Merciful heavens!" exclaimed the consul; "what has happened
Titus winked at the rest of the company. He took a pipe from his
pocket and reached for the tobacco box on the table, upsetting, as he
did so, the contents of the consul's inkstand over a pile of official
papers. This accident did not discompose him in the least. He coolly
filled his pipe and occupied himself for some minutes in emitting large
rings of smoke, one after another, and then shooting little rings
through the series.
"We are all of the Yankee persuasion, I suppose," he said at last,
casting a glance of inquiry at me. I nodded in reply. Then Titus
produced the document which we had seen him waving in the piazza.
"Here's a lark," said he. "I took this down from the bulletin board
in front of Papa Voliver's Foreign Office this forenoon. Lord forgive
the theft! I did it for my country's sake."
Then he proceeded to read, rapidly translating the French into
English. We listened, dumfounded. Great beads of perspiration stood
upon Green's forehead. He clutched mechanically at the papers on the
table and inked the ends of his fingers.
The document was an edict, signed by Charles III himself,
countersigned by the Chevalier Voliver, Minister of Foreign Affairs,
and sealed with the great seal of the principality. Stripped of
verbiage, the edict decreed:
First, that it should be unlawful for any subject of the prince, or
any foreigner sojourning within the boundaries of the principality, to
engage in the American game called poker, said game being dangerous to
the public morals and subversive of existing institutions.
Secondly, that all obligations contracted by subjects of the prince
to subjects of the American President, through the game called poker,
or otherwise, be thereby repudiated.
Thirdly, that thenceforth no American subject be permitted to enter
the Principality of Monaco, for business or for pleasure; that American
subjects then in Monaco be allowed twenty-four hours from the
promulgation of this edict, within which time they must leave the
principality, under penalty of imprisonment at the discretion of the
Tribunal Superieur and confiscation of their effects.
All eyes were turned upon Green. It was some time before the consul
recovered the faculty of speech. "But this is unprecedented!" he
exclaimed. "It is not only outrageous in a general way, but it is
specifically discourteous to me, personally and officially. I am the
diplomatic representative of the United States, duly accredited to this
court. Here is an important paper, seriously affecting the relations
between the two governments, which, instead of being conveyed to me in
the proper manner, has been tacked on a bulletin board, like a
miserable writ of attachment. Furthermore," he added, as the enormity
of the outrage grew upon him, "I have not only been ignored, insulted,
but I have been trifled with. This edict must have been posted before
my interview with the hereditary prince. It is infamous!"
"Well, fellow citizens," said Titus, with a light laugh, "what are
we going to do about it?"
"There is only one thing to do," replied Green. "Dispatch a full and
carefully worded statement of the affair to the Department of State at
Washington, in order that Congress may take appropriate action."
Titus sent forth a roar of laughter along with a cloud of smoke.
"And meanwhile?" he demanded. "I am inclined to think that in the
present condition of our glorious Navy it will be about two years and
six months before we can expect to have a fleet of iron-dads here."
"I suppose we must leave Monaco," said the consul, sadly. "We are at
the mercy of an absolute and remorseless power." "LEAVE?" thundered
"Let us have your ideas, Mr. Titus," said I.
"Well," said Titus. "I propose to try my hand at a state paper. I've
undertaken tougher jobs in my day. Get a sheet of clean foolscap,
Green, and a good, sharp pen. Now write down what I say."
He then dictated the following manifesto:
To Charles Honore, Prince of Monaco:
When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for a
mighty nation to avenge an injury sustained by her in the persons of
some of her most valued citizens, the visitation of her wrath upon the
offender is apt to be sharp, sudden, and overwhelming.
Unless your edict of this date be revoked before nine o'clock
tomorrow, and due apology made for the same, we, the United States of
America, do hereby declare war against the Principality of Monaco on
land, sea, underground, and in the skies; and God have mercy upon your
GEORGE WASHINGTON TITUS, Commander in Chief
JOHN J. GREEN,
"There! Green," said Titus, complacently, "now tell your man
Giovanni to go and tack this little composition upon the bulletin board
of the Foreign Office, and leave the rest to me."
"But this is very irregular," protested the consul. "The power to
declare war is vested by the Constitution in Congress. We can't declare
war. Besides, there are always certain formalities to be observed."
"Damn your formalities!" rejoined Titus. "In times of great national
emergency like the present there is a higher law than the Constitution.
In such a crisis men of action must come to the front. You can come in
with your protocols and preliminary drafts, and all that solemn rot,
when we get to the negotiations for peace. I'm commander in chief just
now. You and these other gentlemen must go around among the Americans
here and tell 'em not to be alarmed, but to act precisely as if nothing
had happened. That's General Order number one. Hold on a minute,
though. Is there anybody who understands the army signals?"
I respectfully informed the commander in chief that I was familiar
with the code.
"Good!" said he. "You've got grit. I like the build of your chin.
Stay here with me. I constitute you chief of staff."
"Now," he continued, after the others had departed, "take four of
the consul's red silk handkerchiefs and make some little signal flags.
I have another important letter to write."
The composition of this missive seemed to give him considerable
trouble, for I had finished the flags long before he stopped writing.
Finally he tossed me a sheet of note paper. "I hate infernally to do
this," he said, giving his mustache a tug, "but, hang it all,
everything is fair in love and war."
The letter bore no address or signature:
MADAME: I have read your eyes, and my heart is full of joy. I have
also read the black looks on the faces of your jealous and powerful
relatives. If I have seemed cold and indifferent, it is because I cared
for your peace of mind--not because I feared for myself, believe me,
And now the cruel edict has gone forth. Exile from Monaco is
nothing, for the world is wide. Exile from you is death; for my poor
life is in your adorable smile.
If you are as bold as you are beautiful; if wide difference of rank
weighs less in the balance than an absorbing passion; if you can dare
everything for the sake of one who has suffered and been silent, be at
the pump behind the equestrian statue of your noble ancestor, Vincenzio
Grimaldi, one hour before sunrise tomorrow morning, and be alone.
"It's a confounded shame," remarked Titus, half to me, half to
himself, "to bring her out into the damp early air at her age; but it
can't be helped."
The consul's valet now returned. He had nailed the document upon the
bulletin board, as Excellency had commanded, and there was already an
immense crowd collected around it.
"Buono!" cried Titus. "Now, Giovanni, I have another commission for
you. You are discreet." He gave him the letter and whispered a few
words of direction. The intelligent fellow nodded.
"And, by the way, Giovanni, you are on pretty good terms with the
"How much will it cost to get the Army drunk tonight?" "Very drunk,
"That is what I mean."
Giovanni made a rapid calculation with the aid of his fingers.
"About sixty francs, I think, Excellency," he replied, with a broad
grin. Titus handed him five napoleons.
An hour later I walked with the commander in chief along the western
rampart--the fashionable afternoon promenade in Monaco. Few Americans
were to be seen, but on every hand there was evidence of an unusually
excited state of popular feeling. We encountered scowls and audibly
whispered insults at every step; but my companion walked on
unconcerned, with his long, swinging gait. "The Council of State is in
session. There will be hot work tomorrow," I overheard one subject of
the prince remarking to another. A rattle of drums, and De Mussly
marched briskly past us, at the head of a detachment of four
carabineers. Ladies waved their handkerchiefs at the military. "The
generalissimo is posting his sentinels," said Titus. "Luckily there are
two cafes in Monaco to one soldier." Some of the shopkeepers were
putting up their shutters, early in the day as it was. Suddenly Titus
modified his pace, and his countenance assumed a singularly pensive
expression. Three ladies were approaching us. I had only time to see
that one of these, walking slightly in advance of the others, was a
very stout person of middle age, ostentatiously dressed and heavily
rouged. As she passed us Titus took off his hat and made a profound and
rather melancholy bow. The fat lady bent her eyes to the ground. I
thought I detected traces of a blush on those parts of her face which
were not factitiously red.
"It's all right," Titus whispered in my ear. "The battle's
At half past five o'clock on the morning of the momentous day, a
strange thing happened near the casino. The captive balloon, set free
from the moorings that tied it to the earth at night, began to rise
slowly and majestically through the mists of the early twilight. With a
plunge or two to the right and left, and a flutter as if of
astonishment at being disturbed at such an unwonted hour, the vast
spheroid settled its course straight toward the zenith, as rapidly as
the paying out of the rope permitted. A single individual operated the
brake of the cylinder from which the rope unwound. That individual was
myself. The car of the balloon carried two passengers. One was Titus;
the other, a woman muffled in many wraps and closely veiled.
"Carissima!" Titus had whispered to his trembling companion as he
helped her into the basket. "It is our only chance of flight. We should
certainly be arrested at the frontier if we attempted to escape by
land." A gentle gurgle of tenderness and helplessness was the only
I watched the vaguely outlined bulk as it ascended to the length of
the rope. The light breeze from the west carried the balloon directly
over the palace, where it rested motionless at a height of five or six
When I left the casino grounds I stepped over the prostrate form of
a sentinel, snoring lustily upon the pavement. The streets were
deserted, but I passed one cafe which had been open all night. Glancing
through the doorway, I saw a dozen of De Mussly's red-uniformed
veterans in various stages of intoxication. Those who were still sober
enough to sing were shouting a war song, the refrain of which menaced
my native land with unutterable doom. Giovanni's five napoleons had
done their work.
Three hours later I finished a comfortable breakfast at my hotel and
sallied forth to find the consul. The situation had changed. The city
was wide awake now, and indescribable confusion prevailed. The entire
population surged through the streets leading to the palace and the
casino. Business was everywhere suspended. A few carabineers were seen
here and there, seedy in the face and shaky in the legs. The
generalissimo was making desperate efforts to collect his demoralized
army. On the balcony in front of the palace, whence we had witnessed
the brilliant review of the Army on the day before, stood the prince
and several members of his family, surrounded by Ministers of State.
Among the latter I recognized the sinister visage of Monsignor Theuret.
The piazza and the adjoining streets were thronged with people. All
eyes were turned upward to the balloon, which still floated over the
palace, the only tranquil object in the tumultuous scene.
As soon as Titus had shown his face to the crowd below, there had
been a rush to the windlass with the intention of winding in the rope
and recapturing the balloon. But Titus, leaning over the side of the
basket, had brandished a long bowie knife in a way that left no doubt
of his purpose to cut the balloon free if any attempt should be made to
haul it down. He was thus far master of the situation. The enemy
remained inactive, undecided what course to pursue; the dignitaries
upon the balcony were earnestly engaged in conference.
In the piazza, just under the balcony, I espied the consul in the
center of a little knot of Americans. With some difficulty I elbowed my
way to the spot.
A murmur from the crowd drew my attention to the balloon. Titus was
making certain motions with two small red flags. I produced two similar
flags from beneath my waistcoat. Communication was thus established
between the two divisions of the United States Army. The Duomo clock
"Ask if the edict is revoked," signaled Titus.
I translated the message to the consul, who put the question to the
balcony in a loud voice and in the most approved terms of
Monsignor Theuret, speaking for the government of Monaco, replied
with a sneer: "The edict is not revoked. Its provisions relating to the
arrest of Americans found within our territories will be carried into
effect in precisely one hour." This answer was conveyed to Titus.
"Declare Monaco in a state of siege!" was his prompt rejoinder.
The cool audacity of this announcement produced a visible effect
upon the populace. What mysterious power had this man in the sky, who
talked with little flags and calmly defied a prince with an Army and
Navy? What was coming next?
Theuret retained his presence of mind. "Let the rope be cut," he
shouted. "Then the wind will blow this impudent American scoundrel over
into Italy. We shall be well rid of him at the price of a balloon."
Again there was a rush toward the rope and a hundred knives were
ready to do the work. But Theuret, who had been steadily gazing upward,
was seen to turn as pale as death and to grasp at the balustrade for
"Basta! Basta!" he cried. "Cut not that rope, if you value your
lives! The princess is in the balloon!"
Sure enough, the round, red face of the princess was visible over
the wickerwork of the car. A howl of astonishment and dismay went up
from the crowd. The little knot of Americans answered the howl with a
"Titus has won the game!" said the consul.
But the agitation of Monsignor Theuret was even greater than
circumstances appeared to warrant. The sight of the princess in the car
seemed to drive him to madness. He tore his hair, shook both fists at
the balloon, and shrieked as if he expected Madame to hear. "Ah,
Florestine, faithless! I suspected as much. Monster of perfidy! Cuor'
miol Wretched, wretched woman!"
"I suspected as much, also," said the consul, in an undertone. "We
diplomats have eyes everywhere. Look at Theuret! What a scandal!"
The prince was regarding Theuret's manifestations of jealous frenzy
with searching eyes. Then he summoned De Mussly and gave him a command,
inaudible to those below. Two soldiers removed Monsignor Theuret from
the balcony. "The bishop is arrested!" cried the crowd, all agape at
the unexpected incident.
"Now, monsieur," said the prince, addressing Consul Green, "what are
your demands? It seems that in some inexplicable way you have succeeded
in kidnaping our sister. What ransom do you require of us?"
After some signaling, Green reported the ultimatum which Titus
propounded: The revocation of the edict, the restoration of American
citizens to an equality with the subjects of the most privileged
nation, the re-establishment of the game of poker, the prince's own
guarantee for the payment of all debts due to American citizens, and an
indemnity of ten thousand francs for the expenses and anxieties of the
There was a long consultation upon the balcony. At last the prince
was seen to shake his head, as if in reply to arguments intended to
dissuade him from some settled plan of action. The Chevalier Voliver
stepped forward from the group and said, "His Serene and Most Christian
Highness has wavered between the natural affection which he entertains
for his sister, Madame the Princess, and his duty toward his subjects.
The struggle is now at an end. Bitterly as he regrets one result of his
decision, he feels that he must place the interests of the people of
Monaco above family ties. He sacrifices Her Highness to duty. The edict
will go into effect at ten o'clock. He commands that the rope be cut,
and the balloon set adrift."
"That is the diplomatic way of saying that he is rather glad to get
rid of the foolish and troublesome old lady," I remarked to Green after
I had reported the speech to Titus.
But the consul and the rest of the Americans had fallen from hope
into dejection. They felt that the commander in chief had played his
last card and lost.
Not so Titus. His flags were plied vigorously for a brief space of
time, and then, reaching his arm at full length from the network of
ropes around the car, he held forth a large tin canister that glittered
in the sunlight.
The effect of this simple act was marvelous. It paralyzed the arms
of those who were about to cut the rope. It carried consternation to
the group upon the balcony. It created a panic in the crowd, which
scattered in every direction. A cry of horror went up from a thousand
throats. In all the noise and confusion only one word was
The people of Monaco had learned, from Titus' own teaching, how
terribly potent, even in small quantities, was this agent of
destruction. Now they felt that an unknown quantity of the awful,
mysterious thing was suspended, so to say, by a single hair, over their
heads and homes. The prince himself blanched at the possibilities of
the next moment.
"He says," I yelled at the top of my voice, "that if his conditions
are not accepted in three minutes by his watch, and without further
parley, he will drop the can and blow your principality into
In two minutes peace was re-established.
The war was over. Secured by the most explicit guarantees from the
government of Charles III, the victorious commander allowed himself to
be pulled down from the skies. Still holding the dreaded fin can in one
hand, with the other he gallantly assisted his lady captive from the
car of the balloon, and led her to the balcony of the palace.
"Serene Highness," he said, as he respectfully consigned the
Princess Florestine to the care of her august brother, "I regret that
the necessities of war compelled me to make a prisoner of Madame the
Princess, who was abroad early this morning on a mission of
The prince bowed in silence. The princess's eyes were fixed upon the
"And, Serene Highness," continued Titus, "I implore you to believe
that I would not risk the precious life of so exalted a lady by putting
her in proximity with a dangerously large amount of dynamite."
So saying, he tossed the can over the balustrade. It fell upon the
pavement with an empty rattle.