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The Theft of the Crown Jewels: Short Story Adaptation

This 1914 film was adapted into a short story for the Photoplay Magazine in December 1914. Kalem promoted this film heavily, using the million dollars in jewelry and $3,000 Lucile gown she wore as the selling points.

Photoplay Magazine, December 1914, p. 41-46

"The Theft of the Crown Jewels"

by Richard Dale
Illustrations from the Kalem Film, Featuring Alice Joyce

[Omitted: 3/4 Photo of Alice Joyce in her white Lucile gown with a dark sash, wearing many jewels. Caption: When the Prince Ran Away, the Princess Went After Him--but She Didn't Know It]

KING CONRAD, of Eltwich-Haldmandt, was angry. He was furious. His dignity had been flouted; his honor had been assailed. And he couldn't do a thing about it--except storm. He couldn't order out his army to punish those who had insulted him, because his army hadn't been paid, and would have refused to go. The King's credit was fairly good. He could still get uniforms and fine wines, and excellent cigars. But his army needed money, and, besides, even if the army had been willing to go to war, he couldn't have found the cash for the necessary incidental expense.

Perhaps, all this talk about his poverty may seem irrelevant. But it isn't The whole thing is a neatly rounded circle, and if you follow that you will come to the reason for his anger--among other things. Because his hyphenated country was poor (which, of course, was why he was poor) a marriage had been arranged. Not for the King! No. He had a wife already, who had money in her own right, and meant to keep it so. But for the King's daughter, the very beautiful (and she really was) Princess Zavia. She was his only child, and she was to marry the second son of the neighboring King Oscar of Murtavia.

It was a neat little plan. In return for the marriage King Oscar was to arrange a great loan for Eltwich-Haldmandt. And, in return for the loan, his second son was to get Zavia. And, through Zavia--Eltwich-Haldmandstadt. Because Zavia would be Queen when her father died, and her husband, if not king, would be pretty nearly king. At any rate, the move was one that would make Eltwich-Haldmandt wholly dependent upon Murtavia, which would annoy immensely two or three neighboring countries.

It was a neat plan. The one great obstacle that had threatened its successful execution had been Zavia herself. And she had been won over by her father's poverty and his pitiful plea. She had consented to marry Prince Sacholdt.

Well, the, you ask, if everything was so nicely arranged, why was King Conrad angry? Why--because Prince Sacholdt, the dolt, the imbecile, had suddenly taken the bit between his teeth and bolted! An ambassador had come to explain, regretfully. And in effect what the prince had said was that he'd be blessed if he would marry a princess, who might have wall eyes, for all he knew! Not he. He was going to pick out his own wife, and, if necessary he'd support her by singing in grand opera. The trouble was that he could have made good, too. He had a real voice, he could act, and he was good looking. And even a grand opera press agent would condescend to make copy of a royal baritone! As a matter of fact, explained the ambassador, humbly, the impresarios of the world were just as hot on the scent of the missing prince as were his father's secret service agents. And, as a result, King Oscar had felt obliged to submit, and to promise his son his regular allowance, because it would have broken his kingly heart to know that his son was singing in grand opera.

[Omitted: Photo of Joyce sleeping in bed, and a man standing nearby holding something. Caption: She Slept with One Eye Open and Saw Van Block Go through the Jewel Case]

And so-and so--King Conrad stormed. And Zavia--well, she wasn't as happy as she might have been, either.

"Beast!" she observed, of the recreant [sic?] prince. "As if I had wanted to marry him! If I could stand it, he could! Father--declare war right away, please. You must."

"I can't!" he said, enraged. And explained the lack of funds. He picked up a jeweled sceptre, and flung it savagely on the floor. "These jewels! Not these--the real ones! These are paste, and we never use the real ones. They're worth five million dennigs (in real money, a million dollars) and they're not worth a cent to me. If I could sell them I'd make war! I'd send a shell or two through Oscar's cellars!"

Zavia knew about the jewels. She had wished they represented some tangible value herself at times, in the past. And now she had an idea.

"I'll sell the jewels," she said. "I'll take them to America! But--mother mustn't know!"

[Omitted: picture of a man with a gun facing a formally dressed man with a mustache. Caption: "They'd Hear a Shot--What Chance Would You Have to Get Away!"]

"Impossible," said the king, firmly.

"Oh, you can keep it from her--make her think I've gone away to mend by broken heart." Though she knew perfectly well, the minx, that he hadn't meant his exclamation that way!

She had her way, too. King Conrad was a pretty good old sport, as kings go. And the prospect of getting some salve for his dignity in the way of war was alluring. He planned the strategy of a campaign. Murtavia wouldn't be ready; he could capture the capitol of his deal friend, Oscar, with whom, occasionally, he played cards, in a week. It would be a good joke--and he might get an indemnity. Zavia started that night. she took one maid, who was really a very high born lady, and called herself a maid of honor, and the jewels. The jewels the (real ones, of course) she carried with her, in a little box.

Zavia started her trip because she wanted to get even with His Highness, Prince Sacholdt. But she had gone very far she was having such a good time that he almost forgot how angry she was. She was strictly incognito, of course and it was really delightful to her to find out what it was like to be just a girl (but a pretty one, of course) and not a princess. Men were bold; they tried to flirt with her. She liked that!

And on the steamer she find delights unnumbered. Here, it seemed, she might make acquaintances, in a more or less informal way. The captain or the other officers introduced young men; two, in particular, she liked. There was a Herr Van Block---a charming fellow, with the hands of a musician, and the manner of one, too. He made love to her, very violently, and she amused herself with him.

And there was another, who called himself Hans Schmidt, but whom she preferred to call Herr Sudermann, because she didn't like the name of Schmidt and did greatly admire the German dramatist. He was attentive to her, but in a manner more reserved. The two were her cavaliers throughout the voyage, and they gave her a very good time. Until--the purser warned her that Van Block was really suspected of being a great scoundrel, and she caught him, the same day, though he didn't know it, watching her through her stateroom windows when she was examining the jewels!

[Omitted, photo of a man kneeling and kissing Joyce's hand. Caption: "When I May Serve You Again--Command Me"]

She was worried. But she was a wise young woman, too, so she took the jewels out of the case, and hid them under her mattress. And that night she slept with one eye open. So she saw Van Block come in and go through that jewel case. But she didn't say any thing. Not she! She was hardly for attracting attention to herself, you know! And, after all, she had the jewels, so she could afford to let him keep his freedom, for she was quite sure that he would not try to rob her again--not of board the liner, at all events.

Schmidt-Sudermann was really the gainer, of course, Because even Zavia, with all her love of romance, couldn't help feeling a little distant toward a gentleman who had not only tried to rob her, but had been indelicate enough to enter her stateroom while she was in bed! So she was very nice indeed to Schmidt, and when it was time for them to leave the steamer he bowed to her very impressively, and said he hoped to be allowed to call. And she said he could and told him which hotel she was going to, and he gave her his card, with the name of his hotel written on it.

"I shall be wholly at your service," he said.

Zavia believed him. Poor fellow! Of course, when all was said, she was a princess. This was good fun, but--well, it could lead to nothing. She decided that it would be well to sell the jewels, get the money and go home to start the war. Strange thoughts were coming to Zavia. She was afraid to let them have free rein. And so she set out, the morning after her arrival, to sell her jewels. She had credentials and a letter of introduction to a jewel broker; she anticipated no trouble. She did not even see the polished Mr. Van Block eyeing her as she entered her taxicab. Nor did she know that he had skillfully contrived matters so that she should take that particular taxicab. She only knew that there came, while she was still in it, a grinding shock; a shower of broken glass. She was pitched out; the jewel case flew from her. To late she saw Van Block. He was making off with the case.

She did not have hysterics. She did not even call for the police. For she knew that above all she must keep her secret. Better for the wonderful jewels to be lost, hopelessly, than to have the American papers learn the truth. Amidst the excuses of the driver she called another cab. At once, when she reached her hotel, she telephoned to Herr Schmidt--and now his name seemed good to her, as that of a man upon whom one might rely. He obeyed her summons as quickly as was possible.

"The jewels are--heirlooms," she said, when she had described the theft. "It is as important that the whole affair be kept secret as that I should recover them--"

"Pardon," he said. "If it is Van Block who has them, I saw him, as I came here. You will excuse me? I go.

He vanished. A capable chap, this Schmidt. He had seen Van Block. He went know to the hotel into which he had seen him go, a shoddy place, old-fashioned, rather cheap. He described Van Block.

"Oh--Van," said the clerk. "Sure! Front--take the gentleman up to two eleven."

And so he walked in on Van Block while that gentleman was changing his clothes.

[Omitted: photo of a man in a hotel lobby being handcuffed. Caption: A Steel Band Was Slipped around His Wrist. The Hand of the Law Had Gripped Him at Last]

"Hello, Van Block--how are you? said Schmidt. "Go ahead--but on your coat. But I'll have to have the jewels, of course."

With a snarl Van Block whipped out a revolver.

"I wouldn't said Schmidt, "Look!"

He had knocked off the telephone receiver.

"They'd hear a shot--what chance would you have to get away? Put down your gun, man. You've lost--take it like a sport."

And he backed out of the room, after looking at the contents of the jewel case to make sure that he had the right box. What he saw made him gasp. He happened to be an expert in jewels, this young man. And these he recognized instantly.

"By Jove!" he said to himself. "So she is the princess! I half thought so from the first!"

But when he returned them he did not tell her what he knew--or, rather, what he suspected. Instead he bowed low as he kissed her hand.

[Omitted: photo of Joyce in the Lucile gown at a reception in front of the king, a man in a uniform genuflects before her. Caption: "Herr Schmidt! She Whispered, "Where Is the Prince!"

"When I may serve you again--command me!" he said.

Zavia was very thoughtful when he had gone. A commoner--and yet, had he not done well--more than well? He had set her to thinking and that was something of a feat. Where her thoughts might have led her, no one may venture to guess. But that same evening came an interruption, startling, amazing. It was a cable message from her father.

"Come home with the jewels," it read. "Loan is arranged. Wedding is on again. Prince has reconsidered."

She was furious, now. He had reconsidered! Had he, indeed? What presumption! Was her consent to be taken for granted? So she mused. But the night brought counsel. The loan was arranged, that meant that she was honor bound. For she knew her father. Half the money she thought it safe to guess, had been spent already. Even if she had sold the jewels--no, she could not do it. An end, then, to dreams! Noblesse oblige! She must go home. She must wed this condescending prince, who changed his mind as often as he liked. She must forget the insult he had offered her. She must forget more than that. She must forget--Hans Schmidt, the capable.

The Princess Zavia, her mind once made up, did not do things by halves. She cabled recklessly.

"Coming," ran the message. "But he must hurry up. I will marry him two weeks from to-day or not at all. He might change his mind again.

There was a method in her madness. She knew she must not think too much about this thing she had to do, nor about Hans Schmidt. Otherwise there was no telling what she might not do. The thing for her to do was to get it all over with quickly, in the white heat of her first resolve. And so she sailed for home, with the jewels. She was safe from Van Block. She did not know it, but his career was over for the time. He had followed Schmidt downstairs, in despair. At the foot of the staircase a man had seized his wrist deftly and slipped a steel band about it. The hand of justice had gripped him at last.

King Conrad was greatly interested.

""An adventure almost mad enough even for you," he said, in comment. Now that his honor was satisfied and he had plenty of money, he was in high good humor. "Ah, well, I suppose it will do no harm. When I was young, girls did not do such things--even girls of the people!"

"You're lucky that I didn't do much worse," she said, darkly. "I nearly did, let me tell you."

"I suppose you fell in love with Schmidt," he said, placidly. "I used to fall in love all the time, too, when I was young. Only I usually selected ladies with much prettier names than that."

She tried to laugh over it all, you see. But it was a little hard. And before the end it was very much harder. With each day that brought her marriage nearer it grew worse. She had never even seen the prince, remember. She didn't want to. He asked to be allowed to pay his respects, but she refused.

This was to punish him for his insolence in having rejected her before. Her one comfort was that she would make him pay for that yet. For that--and for something else. Oh, it was not all fun, to be a princess. Because of her rank, she was making this sacrifice now. She began to admit to herself her real feeling for Herr Schmidt--Hans Schmidt, of the homely, simple name. It was hard to know that if she ever saw him again he would know who she really was, and must treat he with reverence and respect, as some one far, far above him in rank, and not as a girl who needed his help. And all this she was doing for her people.

"They don't even know it! she said to herself. "Much less appreciate it! Pigs!"

"But that's unfair," she decided. "It's not their fault. It's my father's. I'm doing it for his sake, I suppose, after all. And he would only laugh at me if he knew all the truth."

So the time came nearer, and her wedding day dawned at last. It was a day of days, so far as the weather was concerned. About the palace everything was bright, save the bride. She thought she could not bear it. On the way to the altar she almost fainted.

Then the moment came. She raised her eyes, then lowered them to the man who had knelt to greet her.

"Herr Schmidt!" she whispered. Then, a little louder, "Where is the prince?"

"Before you, highness--he who kneels," said the lady in waiting, in her ear.

And then the prince rose and took her hand. And she knew that her prince and Hans Schmidt were one and the same.

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