Q.5: What do you know of the invitation of Lady ‘A’ and Rudolfs meeting with her?
Ans: One day a letter signed arrives for the King. The letter is an invitation to the King to come and meet a lady at the Summer House, who would give him valuable information, which would be in his own interests. The Summer House was large house situated at the end of theNew Avenuein Strelsau; Rudolf Rassendyll presumes that the letter was from Antionette de Mauban, the lady who had travelled in the same train with him fromParis.
Sapt, who is cautious by nature, warns them to be careful and avoid falling into a trap laid by Michael. He tells Rudolf Rassendyll that for Michael he (Rassendyll) was the most dangerous man next to the King i.e Rudolf Elphberg. The Duke of Strelsau wanted to take possession of the throne of Ruritania and had the real King under his control, but since Rudolf Rassendyll had taken possession of the throne and was now holding it for the King, it was but natural that Michael, Duke of Strelsau, should try to remove him from his path. Having this purpose in view, he might have asked Antoinette de Mauban to play this trick upon Rudolf Rassendyll and invite him to the Summer House, where he would be foully murdered. Thus, Michael would be unable to take possession of the throne.
Rudolf decides to go:
The letter had been most cleverly worded. “The writer had said that she had valuable information and was as much concerned about the marriage of Michael with Countess Flavia, she too wanted to check that marriage from taking place. Rassendyll, who had not been King for a few days, had decided not be told by the nose either by Sapt; he told him that he had decided to keep that appointment and expressed the hope that his meeting with Countess Mauban would help the cause of the King and they would be able to get some clue to the where abouts of the King.
Thus according to his own plan he goes to the Summer House at the end of theNew Avenueat the appointed time. Sapt accompanies him and they are both fully armed, ready for all eventualities. Rudolf Rassendyll goes into the house and leaves Sapt outside at the garden gates to keep watch. He meets Madam Mauban in the Summer House and she frankly tells him that the letter had been written by her at the instigation of Michael and very soon three men would come and murder him (Rudolf Rassendyll).
Advice to leave:
She also advised him, in his interests, to leave the house at once by the back door and advised him to avoid meeting Michael’s men who would kill him mercilessly. She also told him that she was in love with Michael and for that reason was bent upon preventing him from marrying Countess Flavia. At this stage, Rudolf Rassendyll decided that he will have to take a decisive action in the matter and postponing it for long would be ruinous to his cause as well as to the cause of Princess Flavia. He had, by now, a full realization of the fact that he had fallen deeply in love with the princess. If Michael killed the King, he (Rudolf Rassendyll) would marry the Countess and thus make his position on the throne of Ruritania secure and firm.
He also realized that in one respect at least, his interests tallied with those of Antoinette de Mauban. They both wanted to prevent the marriage of Michael Duke of Strelsau, with Countess Flavia. Thus, Madame Mauban became sure that he would prove a good and helpful associate. This was the reason why she had betrayed the secret of the Duke.
Meanwhile the Duke’s men arrive on the scene, they are led by the Detchard and immediately on their arrival, they claim admittance to the room in which Rudolf Rassendyll and Antoinette de Mauban were having their meeting.
Detchard and Rudolf Rassendyll parley through the door. Detchard offers him a big bribe and promises him safe conduct to the frontier from share he can leave for his homeland. The only condition laid down by him is that he should go away from Ruritania.
Rudolf knows the game:
Rudolf proves too clever for the game that was being played. He knows that Detchard and his followers were trying to gain easy admittance to the room after which they would kill him, take his dead body, and throw it in some low quarter of the it-town. With one stroke would, thus clear the way for Michael to the throne of Ruritania as well as to this marriage with the Countess.
They now play a game of wit. Rudolf discusses for some time the offer made by Detchard and expresses his agreement. He had observed during this time that the door was being slowly pushed open from outside. Just then, the door is violently jerked in and Detchard and his men rush at him. However, he is ready to meet their attack and charges at him holding in his hands an iron-lopped table. They start firing at him, but the bullets hit the iron top of the table and glances off.
Rudolf now makes a dash down the stairs and the impact of his push sends all the three toppling down the steps Detchard gets up and trice to go after him; but he wounds him with a pistol then climbs the wall and descends on the other side with the help of a ladder, about which he had been told by Madame Mauban. He meets Sapt, who appeared very much excited on hearing the sound of pistol shots coming from inside the room.
The incidents becomes for them a revelation, they fully realize what clever game was being played by Michael, and that movements and actions were being closely watched Rudolf’s life was in great danger because his removal from the scene would make Michael, Duke of Strelsau, the King of Ruritania. The real King was already a prisoner in thecastleofZenda. The Duke could kill him if and when he liked.
Cause of hatred:
Michael would surely have nothing but deep haired for Rudolf Rassendyll because if the latter has not come unexpectedly on the scene, everything would have worked according to the set they were to do next, they both (Rudolf and Sapt) journeyed to Strelsau as fast their hourses could carry them because their one wish to reach Strelsau as early as possible and without exciting any suspicion.