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Debts of Honor
by Maurus Jokai
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"Who is speaking now of your mother's house? You must fly far: away to foreign lands."

"Why?" asked Lorand coldly.

"Why? My God, what questions you put. I don't know how to answer! Can you not see that I am in despair, that every limb of my body trembles for my fear on your account? Believe me, I cannot possibly allow them to take you away from before my eyes, to imprison you for years, so that I shall never see you again."

To appeal the more to Lorand's feelings, and to show him how her hands trembled she tore off her beautiful ball gloves, and grasped his hands in her own and then sobbed before him.

As she touched him Lorand began to feel, instead of his previous tomblike chillness, a kind of agitating heat as if the cold bony hand of death had given over his hand to some other unknown demon.

"What shall I do in a foreign country? I have no one, nothing, no way there. Everyone I love is here, in this land. There I should go mad."

"You will not be alone there, because the one who loves you best on earth, who worships you above all, who loves you better than her health, her soul, better than heaven itself, goes with you and will never leave you."

The young man could make no mistake as to whom she meant: Hermine encircled his young neck with her beautiful arms and overwhelmed his face with kisses.

Lorand was no longer his own. In one hour he lost his home, his fortune, and his heart.



CHAPTER X

I AND THE DEMON

It was already late in the evening when Balnokhazy's butler brought me a letter, and then hurriedly departed, before I could read it.

It was Lorand's writing. The message was short:

"My dear brother:—I have been betrayed and must escape: comfort our dear parents. Good-bye."

I leaped up from my bed:—I had already gone to bed that I might get up early on the morrow:—and hastened to dress.

My first idea was to go to Balnokhazy. He was my uncle and relation, and was extremely fond of us: besides, he was very influential; he could accomplish anything he wished, I would tell him everything frankly, and beg him to do for my brother what he was capable of doing: to prevent his prosecution and arrest, or, if he was convicted, to secure his pardon. Why, to such a great man nothing could be impossible.

I begged old Marton to open the door for me.

"What! discipulus negligens! To slip out of the house at night is not proper. He who wanders about at night can be no Lieutenant Governor—at most a night-watchman."

"No joking now; they are prosecuting my brother! I must go and help him."

"Why didn't you tell me at once? Prosecute indeed? You should have told me that. Who? Perhaps the butcher clerks? If so, let us all six go with clubs to his aid."

"No, they are not butcher clerks. What are you thinking of?"

"Why, in past years the law-students were continually having brawls with butcher clerks."

"They want to arrest him," I whispered to him, "to put him in prison, because he was one of the 'Parliamentary youth' lot."

"Aha," said Marton, "that's where we are is it? That is beyond my assistance. And, what can you do?"

"I must go to my uncle Balnokhazy at once and ask him to interfere."

"That's surely a wise thing to do. Under those circumstances I shall go with you. Not because I think you would be afraid to go by yourself at night, but that I may be able to tell the old man by-and-bye that you were not in mischief."

The old fellow put on a coat in a moment, and a pair of boots, then accompanied me to the Balnokhazys.

He did not wish to come in, but told me that, on my way back, I should look for him at the corner beer-house, where he would wait for me.

I hurried up stairs.

I was greatly disappointed to find my brother's door closed: at other times that had always been my first place of retreat.

I heard the piano in the "salon": so I went in there.

Melanie was playing with the governess.

They did not seem surprised that I came at so late an hour; I only noticed that they behaved a little more stiffly towards me than on other occasions.

Melanie was deeply engrossed in studying the notes. I enquired whether I could speak with my uncle.

"He has not yet come home from the club," said the governess.

"And her ladyship."

"She has gone to the ball."

That annoyed me a little.

"And when do they come home?"

"The Privy Councillor at eleven o'clock, he usually plays whist till that hour; her ladyship probably not until after midnight. Do you wish to wait?"

"Yes, until my uncle returns."

"Then you can take supper with us."

"Thank you, I have already had supper."

"Do they have supper so early at the baker's?"

"Yes."

I then sat down beside the piano, and thought for a whole hour what a stupid instrument the piano was; a man's head may be full of ideas, and it will drive them all out.

Yet I had so much to ponder over. What should I say to my uncle when he came. With what should I begin? How could I tell him what I knew? What should I ask from him?

But how was it possible that neither was at home at such a critical time? Surely they must have been informed of such a misfortune. I did not dare to introduce Lorand's name before the governess. Who knows what others are? Besides, I had no sympathy for her. For me a governess seemed always a most frivolous creature.

In the room there was a large clock that caused me most annoyance. How long it took for those hands to reach ten o'clock! Then, when it did strike, its tone was of that aristocratic nasal quality that it must have acquired from the voices of the people around it.

Sometimes the governess laughed, when Melanie made some curious mistake; Melanie, too, laughed and peeped from behind her music to see if I was smiling.

I had not even noticed it.

Then my pretty cousin poutingly tossed back her curly hair, as if she were annoyed that I too was beginning to play a part of indifference towards her.

At last the street-door bell rang. From the footsteps I knew my uncle had come. They were so dignified.

Soon the butler entered and said I could speak with his lordship, if I so desired.

Trembling all over, I took my hat, and wished the ladies good-night.

"Are you not coming back, to hear the end of the Cavatina;" inquired Melanie.

"I cannot," I answered, and left them there.

My uncle's study was on the farther side of the hall; the butler lighted my way with a lamp, then he put it down on a chest, that I might find my way back.

"Well, my child, what do you want?" inquired my uncle, in that gay, playful tone, which we are wont to use in speaking to children to express that we are quite indifferent as to their affairs.

I answered languidly, as if some gravestone were weighing upon my breast,

"Dear uncle, Lorand has left us."

"You know already?" he asked, putting on his many colored embroidered dressing-gown.

"You know too?" I exclaimed, taken aback.

"What, that Lorand has run away?" remarked my uncle, coolly buttoning together the silken folds of his dressing gown; "why I know more than that:—I know also that my wife has run away with him, and all my wife's jewels, not to mention the couple of thousand florins that were at home—all have run away with your brother Lorand."

How I reached the street after those words; whether they opened the door for me; whether they led me out or kicked me out, I assure you I do not know. I only came to myself, when Marton seized my arm in the street and shouted at me:

"Well sir Lieutenant-Governor, you walk right into me without even seeing me. I got tired of waiting in the beer-house and began to think that they had run you in too. Well, what is the matter? How you stagger."

"Oh! Marton," I stammered, "I feel very faint."

"What has happened?"

"I cannot tell anyone that."

"Not to anyone? No! not to Mr. Brodfresser,[47] nor to Mr. Commissioner:—but to Marton, to old Marton? Has old Marton ever let out anything? Old Marton knows much that would be worth his while to tell tales about: have you ever heard of old Marton being a gossip? Has old Marton ever told tales against you or anyone else? And if I could help you in any way?"

[Footnote 47: The name given to Desiderius' professor ("bread devourer").]

There was a world of frank good-heartedness in these reproaches; besides I had to catch after the first straw to find a way of escape.

"Well, and what did my old colleague say?—You know the reason I call him 'colleague,' is that my hair always acts as if it were a wig, while his wig always acts as it if were hair."

"He said," I answered tremblingly, hanging on to his arm, "he knew more than I. Lorand has not merely run away, but has stolen my uncle's wife."

At these words Marton commenced to roar with laughter. He pressed his hands upon his stomach and just roared, then turned round, as if he wished to give the further end of the street a taste of his laughter; then he remarked that it was a splendid joke, at which remark I was sufficiently scandalized.

"And then he said—that Lorand had stolen his money."

At this Marton straightened himself and raised his head very seriously.

"That is bad. That is 'a mill,' as Father Fromm would say. Well, and what do you think of it, sir?"

"I think, it cannot be true; and I want to find my brother, no matter what has become of him.

"And when you have found him?"

"Then, if that woman is holding him by one hand, I shall seize the other and we shall see which of us will be the stronger."

Marton gave me a sound slap on the back, saying "Teufelskerl.[48] What are you thinking of?—would other children mind, if a beautiful woman ran away with their brother? But this one wishes to stand between them. Excellent. Well, shall we look for Master Lorand? How will you begin?"

[Footnote 48: Devil's fellow: i. e., devil of a fellow.]

"I don't know."

"Let me see; what have you learned at school? What can you do, if you are suddenly thrown back on your own resources? Which way will you start? Right or left: will you cry in the street, 'Who has seen my brother?'"

Indeed I did not know how to begin.

"Well,—you shall see that you can at times make use of that old fellow Marton. Trust yourself to me. Listen to me now, as if I were Mr. Brodfresser. If two of them ran away together, surely they must have taken a carriage. The carriage was a fiacre. Madame has always the same coachman, number 7. I know him well. So first of all we must find Moczli: that is coachman No. 7. He lives in the Zuckermandel. It's a cursed long way, but that's all the better, for by the time we get to his house we shall be all the surer to find him at home."

"If he was the one who took them."

"Don't play the fool now, sir studiosus. I know what cab-horses are. They could not take anyone as far as the border; at most as far as some wayside inn, where speedy country horses can be found: there the runaways are waiting while the fiacre is returning."

In astonishment I asked what made him surmise all this: when it seemed to me that with speedy country horses they might already be far beyond the frontier.

"Sir Lieutenant-Governor," was Marton's hasty reproof; "How could you have such ideas? You expect to become Lieutenant-Governor some day, yet you don't know that he who wishes to pass the frontiers must be supplied with a passport. No one can go without a pass from Pressburg to Vienna; Madame has quite surely despatched Moczli back to bring to her the gentleman with whose 'pass' they are to escape farther."

"What gentleman?"

"An actor from the theatre here, who will arrange that the young gentleman shall pass the frontier with his passport."

"How can you figure it all out?"

Marton paused for a moment, made an ugly mouth, closed his left eye, and hissed through his teeth, as if he would express by all this pantomime that there are things which cannot be held under children's noses.

"Well, never mind; you do wish to be a county officer or something of the kind. So you must know about such things sooner or later, when you will have to examine people on such questions. I will tell you—I know because Moczli once told me just such a story about madame."

"Once before?"

"Certainly," said Marton chuckling wickedly. "Ha ha! Madame is a cute little woman. But then no one knows of it—only Moczli and I; and Madame's husband. Her husband has already pardoned her for it: Moczli was well paid; and what business is it of Marton's? All three of us hold our tongues, like a broiled fish. But it is not the first time it has happened."

I do not know why, but this discovery somehow relieved my bitterness. I began to surmise that Lorand was not the most deeply implicated in the crime.

"Well, let us go first of all to Moczli," said Marton; "But I have a promise to exact from you. Don't say a word yourself; leave the talking to me. For he is a cursed fellow, this Moczli; if he finds that we wish to get information out of him, he will lie like a book: but I will suddenly drive in upon him, so that he will not know whether to turn to the right or to the left. I will spring something on him as if I knew all about it, that will scare him out of his wits and then I'll press him close, so that it'll take his breath away, and before he knows it I'll have that secret squeezed out of him to the very last drop. You must observe how it is done, so that you can make use of similar methods in the future when in the position of Lieutenant-Governor you will have to cross-question some suspicious rascal in order to wring the truth out of him!"

By this time we had started at a brisk pace along the banks of the Danube. I wasn't dressed for such a dismal night, and old Marton was doing his best to shield me with the wing of his coat against the chilling gusts that rushed against us from the river. At the same time he made every effort to make me believe that what we were engaged in was one of the finest jokes he had ever taken a hand in, and that our recollections of it will afford us no end of amusement in the future. At the foot of the castle-hill, along the banks of the Danube was a group of tottering houses; tottering because in spring, when the ice broke up, the Danube roared and dashed among them. Here lived the fiacre drivers. Here were the cab-horses in tumble-down stables.

It was a ball-night: in the windows of the tumble-down houses candles were burning, for the cabmen were waiting till midnight, when they would again harness their horses and return to fetch their patrons from the ball-room.

Marton looked in at one window so lighted; he had to climb up on something to do so, for the ground floor was built high, in order that the water might not enter at the windows.

"He is at home," he remarked, as he stepped down, "but he is evidently preparing to go out again, for he has his top-coat on."

The gate was open; the carriage was in the courtyard, the horses in the shafts, covered with rugs.

Their harness had not even been taken off: they must have just arrived and had to start again at once.

Marton motioned to me to follow him at his heels while he made his way into the house.

The door we ran up against could not be opened unless one knew the tricks that made it yield. Marton seemed to be well acquainted with the peculiarities of the entrance to Moczli's den: first he pressed down on the door knob and raised the whole door bracing against it with his shoulder, then turning the knob and giving the door a severe kick it flew open and in the next moment we found ourselves in a dingy, narrow hole of a room smelling horribly of axle-grease, tallow and tobacco-smoke.

On a table, which was leaning against the wall with the side where a leg was broken, stood a burning tallow-dip stuck into the mouth of an empty beer-jug, and by its dim light Moczli was seated eating—no, devouring his supper. With incredible rapidity he was piling in and ramming down, as it were, enormous slices of blood-sausage in turn with huger chunks of salted bread.

His many-collared coat was thrown over his huge frame, and his broad-brimmed hat that was pressed over his eyes was still covered with hoar-frost that had no chance of thawing in that cold, damp room, the wall of which glistened like the sides of some dripping cave.

Moczli was a well-fed fellow, with strongly protruding eyes, which seemed almost to jump out of their sockets as he stared at us for bursting in upon him without knocking.

"Well, where does it 'burn?'" were his first words to Marton.

"Gently, old fellow; don't make a noise. There is other trouble! You are betrayed and they will pinch the young gentleman at the frontier."

Moczli was really scared for a moment. A tremendous three-cornered chunk of bread that he had just thrust in his mouth stuck there staring frightenedly at us like Moczli himself and looking for all the world as if a second nose was going to grow on his face; however he soon came to himself, continued the munching process, gulped it all down, and then drank a huge draught out of a monstrous glass, his protruding eyes being all the while fixed on me.

"I surely thought there was a fire somewhere, and I must go for a fire-pump again with my horses.—I must always go for the pump, if a fire breaks out anywhere. Even if there is a fire in the mill quarter, it is only me they drive out: why does not the town keep horses of her own?"

"Do you hear, Moczli," Marton interrupted, "don't talk to me now of the town pumps don't sprinkle your throat either, for it's not there that it is burning, but your back will be burning immediately, if you don't listen to me. Her ladyship's husband learned all. They will forestall the young gentleman at the frontier, and bring him back."

Moczli endeavored to display a calm countenance, though his eyes belied him.

"What 'young gentleman' do you mean, and what 'ladyship?'"

Marton bent over him and whispered,

"Moczli, you don't want to make a fool of yourself before me, surely. Was it not you that took away Balnokhazy's wife in the company of a young gentleman? Your number is on your back: do you think no one can see it?"

"If I did take them off, where did I drive them to? Why to the ball."

"A fine ball, indeed. You know they want to arrest the 'juratus.' He will find one for you soon where they play better music. Here is his younger brother, just come from seeing his lordship, who told him his wife had eloped with the young gentleman whom they would search for in every direction."

Moczli was at this moment deeply engaged in picking his teeth. First with his tongue, then with his fingers, until he found a wisp of straw with which to clean them, and at which, like drowning people, he clutched to save himself.

"Well, do you think I care: anyone may send for anyone else for all I mind. I have seen no one, have taken no one away. And if I did take someone, what business of mine is it to know what the one is doing with the other? And even if I did know that someone has eloped with someone else's wife, what business is it of mine? I am no 'syndic' that I should bother my head to ask questions about it: I carry woman or man, who pays, according to the tariff of fares. Otherwise I know absolutely nothing."

"Well, good-bye, and God bless you, Moczli," said Marton hastily. "If you don't know about it, someone else must know about it. However, we didn't come here to gaze into your dreamy eyes, but to free this young gentleman's brother: we shall search among the other fiacres, until we find the right one, for it is a critical business: and if we find that fiacre in which the young fellow came to harm and cannot manage to secure his escape, I would not like to be in his shoes."

"In whose shoes?" inquired Moczli, terrified.

"In the young gentleman's not at all, but still less in the fiacre-driver's. Well, good-night, Moczli."

At these words Moczli leaped up from his chair and sprang after Marton.

"Wait a moment: don't be a fool. Come with me. Take your seats in my fiacre. But the devil take me if I have seen, heard or said anything."

Therewith he removed the rugs from his horses, placed me inside the carriage, covering me with a rug, took Marton beside him on the box, and drove desperately along the bank of the Danube.

Long did I see the lamps of the bridge glittering in the water; then suddenly the road turned abruptly, and, to judge by the almost intolerable shaking of the carriage and the profound darkness, we had entered one of those alleys, the paving of which is counted among the curses of civilization, the street-lamps being entrusted to the care of future generations.

The carriage suddenly proceeded more heavily: perhaps we were ascending a hill: the whip was being plied more vigorously every moment on the horses' backs: then suddenly the carriage stopped.

Moczli commenced to whistle as if to amuse himself, at which I heard the creaking of a gate, and we drove into some courtyard.

When the carriage stopped, the coachman leaped off the box, and addressed me through the window.

"We are here: at the end of the courtyard is a small room; a candle is burning in the window. The young gentleman is there."

"Is the woman with him too?" I inquired softly.

"No. She is at the 'White Wolf,' waiting with the speedy peasant cart, until I bring the gentleman with whom she must speak first."

"He cannot come yet, for the performance is not yet over."

Moczli opened his eyes still further.

"You know that too?"

I hastened across the long dark courtyard and found the door of the little room referred to. A head was to be seen at the lighted window. Lorand was standing there melting the ice on the panes with his breath, that he might see when the person he was expecting arrived.

Oh how he must have loved her. What a desperate struggle awaited me!

When he saw me from the window, he disappeared from it, and hurried to meet me.

At the door we met and in astonishment he asked:

"How did you get here?"

I said nothing, but embraced him, and determined that even if he cut me in pieces, I would never part from him.

"Why did you come after me? How did you find your way hither?"

I saw he was annoyed. He was displeased that I had come.

"Those, who saw you take your seat in a carriage, directed me."

He visibly shuddered.

"Who saw me?"

"Don't be afraid. Someone who will not betray you."

"But what do you want? Why did you come after me?"

"You know, dear Lorand, when we left home mother whispered in my ear, 'take care of Lorand,' when grandmother left us here, she whispered in my ear, 'take care of your brother.' They will ask me to give account of how I loved you. And what shall I tell them, if they ask me 'where were you when Lorand stood in direst danger?'"

Lorand was touched; he pressed me close to his heart, saying:—

"But, how can you help me?"

"I don't know. I only know that I shall follow you, wherever you go."

This very naive answer roused Lorand to anger.

"You will go to hell with me! Do I want irons on my feet to hinder my steps when I scarce know myself whither I shall fly? I know not how to rescue myself, and must I rescue you too?"

Lorand was in a violent rage and strove to shake me off from him. Yet I would not leave go of him.

"What if I intend to rescue you?"

"You?" he said, looking at me, and thrusting his hands in his pockets. "What part of me will you defend?"

"Your honor, Lorand."

Lorand drew back at these words.

"My honor?"

"And mine:—You know that father left us one in common, one we cannot divide—his unsullied name. It is entirely mine, just as it is entirely yours."

Lorand shrugged his shoulders indifferently.

"Let it be yours entirely: I give over my claim."

This indifference towards the most sacred ideas quite embittered me. I was beside myself, I must break out.

"Yes, because you wish to take the name of a wandering actor, and to elope with a woman who has a husband."

"Who told you?" Lorand exclaimed, standing before me with clenched fists.

I was far from being afraid of anyone: I answered coolly.

"That woman's husband."

Lorand was silent and began to walk feverishly up and down the narrow, short, little room. Suddenly he stopped, and half aside addressed me, always in the same passionate tones.

"Desi, you are still a child."

"I know."

"There are things which cannot yet be explained to you."

"On such subjects you may hold your peace."

"You have spoken with that woman's husband?"

"He said, you had eloped with his wife."

"And that is why you came after me?"

"Yes."

"Now what do you want?"

"I want you to leave that woman."

"Have you lost your senses?"

"Mine? Not yet."

"You wish perhaps to hint that I have lost mine: it is possible, very possible."

Therewith he sat down beside the table, and leaning his chin on his hands, began to gaze abstractedly into the candle-flames like some real lunatic.

I stepped up to him, and laid my head on his shoulder.

"Dear Lorand, you are angry with me."

"No. Only tell me what else you know."

"If you wish I will leave you here and return."

"Do as you wish."

"And what shall I tell dear mother, if she asks questions about you?"

Lorand dispiritedly turned his head away from me.

"You wrote to me to cheer and comfort mother and grandmother:—tell me then, what shall I write to them, if they enquire after you?"

Lorand answered defiantly,

"Write that Lorand is dead."

At his answer the blood boiled within me. I seized my brother's hands and cried to him:

"Lorand, till now the fathers were suicides in our family: do you wish that the mothers should continue the list?"

It was a pitiless remark of mine, I knew. Lorand commenced to shiver, I felt it. He stood up before me and became so pale.

I wished I had addressed him more gently.

"My dear brother Lorand, could you bear to become responsible for a mother, who left her child, and for another who died for her child?"

Lorand clasped his hands and bowed his head.

"If you only knew what you are saying to me now?" he said with such bitter reproach that I can never forget it.

"But I have not yet told you all I know."

"What do you know? As yet you are happy—your life mere play—passion does not yet trouble you. But I am already lost, through what, you have no idea, and may you never have!"

How he must love that woman!

It would have cost me few words to make him hate and despise her, but I did not wish to break his heart. I had other means with which to steel his heart, that he might wake up, as from a delirious dream, to another life.

I too had had visions about my piano-playing beauty: but I had forgotten that ideal for ever and ever, for being able to play, after she knew her mother had run away.—But that was mere childish love, a child's thought—-there is something, however, in the heart which is awakened earlier, and dies later than passion, that is a feeling of honor, and I had as much of that as Lorand: let us see whose was the stronger.

"Lorand, I don't know what enchantment it was, with which this woman could lure you after her. But I know that I too have a magic word, which will tear you from her."

"Your magic word?—Do you wish to speak of mother? Do you wish to stand in my way with her name?—Do so.—The only effect you will produce, by worrying me very much, will be that I shall blow my brains out here before you: but from that woman you can never tear me."

"I have no intention to speak of poor mother. It is a different subject I have in mind."

"Something, or someone else."

"It is Balnokhazy, for whose sake you are going to leave this woman."

Lorand shrugged his shoulders.

"Do you think I am afraid of Balnokhazy's prosecution?"

"He has no intention of prosecuting you. He has been very considerate to his wife in similar cases. Well, don't knit your eyebrows so; I am not saying a word about his wife. I have no business with women. Balnokhazy will not prosecute you, he will merely tell the world what has happened to him."

Lorand, with a bitter smile of scorn, asked me:

"What will he relate to the world?"

"That his wife broke open his safe, stole his jewels, and his ready money, and eloped with a young man."

Lorand turned abruptly to me like one whom a snake has bitten,

"What did he say?"

"That his faithless wife in company with a young man, whom he had treated like his own child, has stolen his money, and then run away, like a thief—with her companion in theft!"

Lorand clutched at the table for support.

"Don't, don't say any more."

"I shall. I have seen the safes, empty, in which the family treasures were wont to be piled. I heard from the cabman, who handed in her travelling bag after her that 'it must have been full of gold, it was so heavy.'"

Lorand's face was burning now like the clouds of a storm-swept sky at sunset.

"Did you have the bag in your hands?" I asked him.

"Not a word more!" Lorand cried, pressing my arm so that it pained me. "That woman shall never see me again."

Then he sank upon the table and sobbed.

How glad I felt that I had been able to move him.

Soon he raised his tear-stained face, stood up, came to me, embraced and kissed me.

"You have conquered!—Now tell me what else you want with me?"

I was incapable of uttering a word, so oppressed was my heart in my delight, my anguish. It was no child's play, this. Fate is not wont to entrust such a struggle to a child's hands.

"Brother, dear!" more I could not say: I felt as he must have when he brought me up from the bottom of the Danube.

"You will not allow anyone," he whispered, "to utter such a calumny against me."

"You may be sure of that."

"You will not let them degrade me before mother?"

"I shall defend you. You see that after all I am capable of defending you.—But time is precious:—they are prosecuting you for another crime too, you know, from which to escape is a duty. There is not a moment to lose. Fly!"

"Whither? I cannot take new misfortunes to mother's house."

"I have an idea. We have a relation of whom we have heard much, far off in the interior of the country, where they will never look for you, since we were never on good terms with him, Uncle Topandy."

"That infidel?" exclaimed Lorand; then he added bitterly, "It was a good idea of yours, indeed: I shall have a very good place in the house of an atheist, who lives at enmity with the whole earth, and with Heaven besides."

"There you will be well hidden."

"Well and for ever."

"Don't say that. This danger will pass away."

"Listen to me, Desi," said Lorand severely. "I shall abide by what you say: I shall go away, without once looking behind: I shall bury myself, but on one condition, which you must accept, or I shall go to the nearest police station and report myself."

"What do you wish?"

"That you shall never tell either mother or grandmother, where I have gone to."

"Never?" I inquired, frightenedly.

"No, only after ten years, ten years from to-day."

"Why?"

"Don't ask me: only give me your word of honor to keep my secret. If you do not do so, you will inflict a heavy sorrow on me, and on all our family."

"But if circumstances change?"

"I said, not for ten years. And, if the whole world should dance with delight, still keep peace and don't call for me, or put my mother on my tracks. I have a special reason for my desire, and that reason I cannot tell you."

"But if they ask me, if they weep before me?"

"Tell them nothing ails me, I am in a good place. I shall take another name, [49]Balint Tatray. Topandy also shall know me under that name. I shall find my way to his place as bailiff, or servant, whichever he will accept me as, and then I shall write to you once every month. You will tell my loved ones at home what you know of me. And they will love you twice as well for it: they will love you in place of me."

[Footnote 49: A name peculiarly Magyar.]

I hesitated. It was a difficult promise.

"If you love me, you must undertake it for my sake."

I clung to him and said I would undertake to keep the secret. For ten years I would not say before mother or grandmother where their dearest son had gone.

Would they reach the end of those ten years?

"You undertake that—on your word of honor?" said Lorand, gazing deeply into my eyes; "on that honor by which you just now so proudly appealed to me? Look, the whole Aronffy name is borne by you alone. Do you undertake it for the honor of that whole name, not to mention this secret before mother or grandmother?"

"I do—on my word of honor."

He grasped my hand. He trusted so much to that word!

"Well, now be quick. The carriage is waiting."

"Carriage? With that I cannot travel far. Besides it is unnecessary. I have two good legs, they will carry me, if necessary, to the end of the world, without demanding payment afterwards."

I took a little purse, on the outside of which mother had worked a design, from my pocket, and wished to slip it into Lorand's side-pocket without attracting attention.

He discovered it.

"What is this?"

"A little money. I thought you might want it for the journey."

"How did you come by it?" enquired my brother in astonishment.

"Why, you know, you yourself paid me two twenties a sheet, when I copied those writings."

"And you have kept it?"—Lorand opened the purse, and saw within it about twenty florins. He began to laugh.

How glad I was to see him laugh now, I cannot tell you, his laughter infected me too, then I do not know why, but we laughed together, very good-spiritedly. Now as I write these words the tears stand in my eyes—and I did laugh so heartily.

"Why, you have made a millionaire of me."

Then cheerfully he put my purse into his pocket. And I did not know what to do in my delight at Lorand's accepting my money.

"Now comrade mine, I could go to the end of the world. I don't have to play 'armen reisender'[50] on the way."

[Footnote 50: Poor traveller.]

When we stepped out again through the low door into the narrow dark courtyard, Marton and Moczli were standing in astonishment before us. Anyone could see they could not comprehend what they had seen by peeping through the window.

"I am here," said Moczli, touching the brim of his hat, "where shall I drive, sir?"

"Just drive where you were told to," said Lorand, "take him for whom you were sent, to her who sent you for him.—I am going in another direction."

At these words Marton grasped my arm so savagely I almost cried out with pain. It was his peculiar method of showing his approval.

"Very good, sir," said Moczli, without asking any further questions, and clambering up onto the box.

"Stop a moment," Lorand exclaimed, taking out his purse. "Let no one say that you were paid for any services you did me with other people's money."

"Wha-at?" roughly grumbled Moczli. "Pay me? Am I a 'Hanak fuvaros'[51] that someone should pay me for helping a 'juratus' to escape? That has never happened yet."

[Footnote 51: A Slavonian coachman who hires out his coach and carriages.]

With that he whipped up his horses, and drove out of the courtyard.

"That's the trump for you," said Marton, "that's Moczli. I know Moczli, he's a sharp fellow, without him we should never have found our way here. Well, sir, and whither now?"

This remark was made to Lorand. My brother was acquainted with the jesting old fellow, and had often heard his humorous anecdotes, when he came to see me.

"At all events away from Pressburg, old man."

"But which way? I think the best would be over the bridge, through the park."

"But very many people pass there. Someone might recognize me."

"Then straight along the Danube, down-stream; by morning you will reach the ferry at Muehlau, where they will ferry you over for two kreuzers. Have you some change? You must always have that. Men on foot must always pay in copper, or they will be suspected. It's a pity I didn't know sooner, I could have lent you a passport. You might have travelled as a baker's assistant."

"I shall travel as a 'legatus.'[52]"

[Footnote 52: A travelling preacher. A kind of missionary sent out by the "Legatio."]

"That will do finely."

Meantime we reached the end of the street. Lorand wished to bid us farewell.

"Oho!" said Marton, "we shall accompany you to the outskirts of the town; we cannot leave you alone until you are in a secure place, on the high-road. Do you know what? You two go on in advance and I shall remain close behind, pretending to be a little drunk. Patrols are in the street. If I sing loudly they will waste their attention on me, and will not bother you. If necessary, I shall pitch into them, and while they are running me in, you can go on. To you, Master Lorand, I give my stick for the journey. It's a good, honest stick. I have tramped all over Germany with it. Well, God bless you."

The old fellow squeezed Lorand's hand.

"I have a mind to say something. But I shall say nothing. It is well just as it is,—I shall say nothing. God bless you, sir."

Therewith the old man dropped back, and began to brawl some yodling air in the street, and to thump the doors with his fists, in accompaniment, like some drunken reveller.

"Hai-dia-do."

Taking each other's hand we hastened on. The streets were already very dark here.

At the end of the town are barracks, before which we had to pass: the cry of the sentinel sounded in the distance. "Who goes there? Guard out!" and soon behind our backs we heard the squadron of horsemen clattering on the pavement.

Marton did just as he had said. He pitched into the guard. Soon we heard a dream-disturbing uproar, as he fell into a noisy discussion with the armed authorities.

"I am a citizen! A peaceful, harmless citizen! Fugias Mathias (this to us)! Ten glasses of beer are not the world! I am a citizen, Fugias Mathias is my name! I will pay for every thing. If I have broken any bottles I will pay for them. Who says I am shouting? I am singing. 'Hai-dia-do;' let any one who doesn't like it try to sing more beautifully himself!"

We were already outside of the town, and still we heard the terrible noise which he made in his self-sacrifice for our sakes.

As we came out into the open, we were both able to breathe more freely; the starry sky is a good shelter.

The cold, too, compelled us to hasten. We had walked a good half-hour among the vineyards, when suddenly something occurred to Lorand.

"How long do you wish to accompany me?"

"Until day breaks. In this darkness I should not dare to return to the town alone."

Now he became anxious for me too. What could he do with me? Should he let me go home alone at midnight through these clusters of houses in that suburb of ill-repute. Or should he take me miles on his way with him? From there I should have to return alone in any case.

At that moment a carriage approached rapidly, and as it passed before us, somebody leaped down upon us from the back seat, and laughing came where we were beside the hedge.

In him we recognized old Marton.

"I have found you after all," said the old fellow, smiling. "What a fine time I have had. They really thought I was drunk. I quarrelled with them. That was the 'gaude!' They tugged and pulled, and beat my back with the flat of their sabres: it was something glorious!"

"Well, how did you escape?" I asked, not finding that entertainment to the accompaniment of sabre-blows so glorious.

"When I saw a carriage approaching, I leaped out from their midst and climbed up behind:—nor did they give me a long chase. I soon got away from them."

The good old man was quite content with the fine amusement which he had procured for himself.

"But now we must really say adieu, Master Lorand. Don't go the same way as the carriage went: cut across the road here in the hills to the lower road; you can breakfast at the first inn you come to: you will reach it by dawn. Then go in the direction of the sunrise."

We embraced each other. We had to part. And who knew for how long?

Marton was nervous. "Let us go! Let Lorand too hurry on his way."

Why, ten years is a very long way. By that time we should be growing old.

"Love mother in my place. Then remember your word of honor." Lorand whispered these words. Then he kissed me and in a few moments had disappeared from my sight down the lower road among the hills.

Who knew when I should see him again?

Marton's laugh awoke me from my reverie.

"You know—" he inquired with a voice that showed his inclination to laugh—"You know ha! ha—you know why I told Master Lorand not to go in the same direction as the carriage?"

"No."

"Did you not recognize the coachman? It was Moczli."

"Moczli?"

"Do you know who was inside the carriage?—Guess!—Well, it was Madame."

"Balnokhazy's wife?"

"The same—with that certain actor."

"With whose passport Lorand was to have eloped?"

"Well if one is on his way to elope—it is all the same:—one must have a companion, if not the one, then the other.'"

It was all a fable to me. But such a mysterious fable that it sent a cold chill all over me.

"But where could they go?"

"Where?—Well, as far as the frontier, perhaps. Anyhow, as far as the contents of that bag, which Moczli handed into the carriage after her ladyship, will last.—Hai-dia-do."

Now it was really exuberance of spirits that made old Marton sing in Tyrolese manner, that refrain, "hai-hai-dia-hia-do."

He actually danced on the dusty road—a galop.

Was it possible? That madonna face, than which I have never seen a more beautiful, more enchanting—either before or since that day!



CHAPTER XI

"PAROLE D'HONNEUR"

Two days after Lorand's disappearance a travelling coach stopped before Mr. Fromm's house. From the window I recognized coach-horses and coachman: it was ours.

Some one of our party had arrived.

I hastened down into the street, where Father Fromm was already trying very excitedly to turn the leather curtain that was fastened round the coach....

No, not "some one!" the whole family was here! All who had remained at home. Mother, grandmother, and the Fromms' Fanny.

Actually mother had come: poor mother!

We had to lift her from the carriage: she was utterly broken down. She seemed ten years older than when I had last seen her.

When she had descended, she leaned upon Fanny on the one side, on the other upon me.

"Only let us go in, into the house!" grandmother urged us on, convinced that poor mother would collapse in the street.

All who had arrived were very quiet: they scarcely answered me, when I greeted them. We led mother up into the room, where we had had our first reception.

Mother Fromm and grandmother Fromm were not knitting stockings on this occasion; it seemed they were prepared for this appearance. They too received my parents very quietly and solemnly: as if everyone were convinced that the first word addressed by anyone to this broken-down, propped up figure would immediately reduce it to ashes, as the story goes about some figures they have found in old tombs. And yet she had come on this long, long journey. She had not waited for the weather to grow warmer. She had started in the teeth of a raw, freezing spring wind, when she heard that Lorand was gone.

Oh, is there any plummet to sound the depths of a mother's love?

Poor mother did try so hard to appear strong. It was so evident, that she was struggling to combat with her nervous attacks, just in the very moment which awoke every memory before her mind.

"Quietly, my daughter—quietly," said grandmother. "You know what you promised: you promised to be strong. You know there is need of strength. Don't give yourself over. Sit down."

Mother sat down near the table where they led her, then let her head fall on her two arms, and, as she had promised not to weep—she did not weep.

It was piteous to see her sorrowful figure as, in this strange house, she was leaning over the table with her face buried in her hands in mute despair; determined, however, not to cry, for so she had promised.

Everyone kept at a distance from her: great sorrow commands great respect. Only one person ventured to remain close to her, one of whom I had not even taken notice as yet,—Fanny.

When she had taken off her travelling cloak I found she was dressed entirely in blue. Once that had been my mother's favorite color; father too had been exceedingly fond of it. She stood at mother's side and whispered something into her ear, at which mother raised her head and, like one who returns from the other world, sighed deeply, seemed to come to herself, and said with a peaceful smile, turning to the host and hostess:

"Pardon me, I was exceedingly abstracted." Merely to hear her speak agonized me greatly. Then she turned to Fanny, embraced her, kissed her forehead twice, and said to the Fromms,

"You will agree, will you not, to Fanny's staying a little longer with me? She is already like a child of my own."

I was no longer jealous of Fanny. I saw how happy she made mother, if she could embrace her.

Fanny again whispered something in mother's ear, at which mother rose, and seemed quite herself again: she approached Mrs. Fromm resolutely, with no faltering steps, and grasping both her hands, said, "I thank you," and once again repeated whisperingly, "I thank you."

All this I regarded speechlessly from a corner. I feared my mother's gaze inexpressibly.

Then grandmother interrupted,

"We have no time to lose, my daughter. If you are capable of coming at once, come."

Mother nodded assent with her head, and gazed continually upon Fanny.

"Meanwhile Fanny remains here," added grandmother. "But Desiderius comes with us."

At these words mother looked at me, as if it had only just occurred to her that I too was here, still it was Fanny's fair curls only that she continued stroking.

Father Fromm hurriedly sent Henrik for a cab. Not a soul asked us where we were going. Everyone wondered, where, and why? What purpose? But, only I knew what would be the end of to-day's journey.

I did not distress myself about it. I waited merely until my turn should come. I knew nothing could happen without me.

The cab was there, and the Fromms led mother down the steps. They set her down first of all, and, when we were all seated; Father Fromm called to the cabman:

"To the house of Balnokhazy!"

He knew well that we must go there now. During the whole journey there we did not exchange a single word: what could those two have said to me?

When we stopped before Balnokhazy's residence, it seemed to me, my mother was endowed with a quite youthful strength; she went before us, her face burning, her step elastic, her head carried on high.

I don't know whether it was our good fortune, or whether my parents' arrival had been announced previously, but the P. C. was at home, when we came to look for him.

I was curious to see with what countenance he would receive us.

I knew already much about him, that I ought never to have known.

As we stepped into his room, he came to meet us, with more courtesy than pleasure apparent on his countenance. Some kind of displeasure strove to display itself thereon, but it was just as if he had studied the expression for hours in the mirror; it seemed to be an artificial, affected, calculated displeasure.

Mother straightway hastened to him, and taking both his hands, impetuously introduced the conversation with these words:

"Where is my son Lorand?"

My right honorable uncle shrugged his shoulders, and with gracious mien answered this mother's passionate outburst:

"My dear lady cousin, it is I who ought to urge that question; for it is my duty to prosecute your son. And if I answer that I do not know where he is, I think thereby I shall display the most kinsmanlike feeling."

"Why prosecute my son?" said mother, tremblingly. "Is it possible to eternally ruin anyone for a mere schoolboy escapade?"

"Not one but many 'schoolboy escapades' justify me in my action: it is not merely in my official capacity that I am bound to prosecute him."

As he said this, Balnokhazy fixed his eyes sharply upon me: I did not wince before him. I knew I had the right and the power to withstand his gaze. Soon my turn would come.

"What?" asked mother. "What reason could you have to prosecute him?"

Balnokhazy shrugged his shoulders more than ever, bitterly smiling.

"I scarcely know, in truth, how to tell you this story, if you don't know already. I thought you were acquainted with all the facts. He who told you the news of the young man's disappearance, wrote to you also the reasons for it."

"Yes," said mother, "I know all. The misfortune is great: but there is no ignominy."

"Indeed?" interrupted Balnokhazy, drawing his shoulders derisively together: "I did not know that such conduct was not considered ignominious in the provinces. Indeed I did not. A young man, a law student, a mere stripling, shows his gratitude for the fatherly thoughtfulness of a man of position,—who had received him into his house as a kinsman, treating him as one of the family,—by seducing and eloping with his wife, and helping her to break open his money-chest, and steal his jewelry, disappearing with the shameless woman beyond the confines of the country. Oh, really, I did not know that they did not consider that a crime deserving of prosecution!"

Poor mother was shattered at this double accusation, as if she had been twice struck by thunder-bolts, and deadly pale clutched at grandmother's hand. The latter had herself in this moment grown as white as her grizzled hair. She took up the conversation in mother's place, for mother was no longer capable of speaking.

"What do you say? Lorand a seducer of women?"

"To my sorrow, he is. He has eloped with my wife."

"And thief?"

"A harsh word, but I can give him no other name."

"For God's sake, gently, sir!"

"Well, you can see that hitherto I have behaved very quietly. I have not even made a noise about my loss: yet, besides the destruction of my honor, I have other losses.

"This faithless deed has robbed me and my daughter of 5,000 florins.[53] If the matter only touched me, I would disdain to notice it: but that sum was the savings of my little daughter."

[Footnote 53: Above L415—$2,000.]

"Sir, that sum shall be repaid you," said grandmother, "but I beg you not to say another word on the subject before this lady. You can see you are killing her with it."

As she was speaking, Balnokhazy gazed intently at me, and in his gaze were many questions, all of which I could very well have answered.

"I am surprised," he said at last, "that these revelations are entirely new to you. I thought that the same person who had acquainted you with Lorand's disappearance, had unfolded to you therewith all those critical circumstances, which caused his disappearance, seeing that I related all myself to that person."

Now mother and grandmother too turned their gaze upon me.

Grandmother addressed me: "You did not write a word about all this to us."

"No."

"Nor did you mention a word about it here when we arrived."

"Yet I told it all myself to my nephew."

"Why don't you answer?" queried my grandmother impetuously.

Mother could not speak: she merely wrung her hands.

"Because I had certain information that this accusation was groundless."

"Oho! you young imp!" exclaimed Balnokhazy in proud, haughty tones.

"From beginning to end groundless," I repeated calmly; although every muscle of mine was trembling from excitement. But you should have seen, how mother and grandmother rushed into my arms: how they grasped one my right, the other my left hand, as drowning men clutch at the rescuer's hands, and how that proud angry man stood before me with flashing eyes. All sobriety had left the three, together they cried to me in voices of impetuousity, of anger, of madness, of hope, of joy: "speak! tell us what you know."

"I will tell you.—When his lordship acquainted me with these two terrible charges against Lorand, I at once started off to find my brother. Two honorable poor men came in my way to help me find him: two poor workmen, who left their work to help me to save a lost life. The same will be my witness that what I relate is all true and happened just as I tell you: one is Marton Braun, the baker's man, the other Matthias Fleck."

"My wife's coachman," interrupted the P. C.

"Yes. He conducted me to where Lorand was temporarily concealed. He related to me that her ladyship was elsewhere. He had taken her ladyship across the frontier—without Lorand. My brother started at the same time on foot, without money, towards the interior of Hungary: Marton and I accompanied him into the hills, and my pocket money, which he accepted from me, was the only money he had with him, and Marton's walking stick was the only travelling companion that accompanied him further."

I noticed that mother kneeled beside me and kissed me.

That kiss I received for Lorand's sake.

"It is not true!" yelled Balnokhazy; "he disappeared with my wife. I have certain information that this woman passed the frontier with a young smooth-faced man and arrived with him in Vienna. That was Lorand."

"It was not Lorand, but another."

"Who could it have been?"

"Is it possible that you should not know? Well, I can tell you. That smoothed-faced man who accompanied her ladyship to Vienna was the German actor Bleissberg;—and not for the first time."

Ha, ha! I had stabbed him to the heart: right to the middle of the liver, where pride dwells. I had thrust such a dart into him, as he would never be able to draw out. I did not care if he slew me now.

And he looked as if he felt very much like doing it—but who would have dared touch me and face the wrath of those two women—no—lionesses, standing next to me on either side! They seemed ready to tear anyone to pieces who ventured as much as lay a finger on me.

"Let us go," said mother, pressing my hand. "We have nothing more to do here."—Mother passed out first: they took me in the middle and grandmother, turning back addressed a categorical "adieu" to Balnokhazy, whom we left to himself.

My cousin Melanie was playing that cavatina even now, though now I did not care to stop and listen to it. That piano was a good idea after all; quarrels and disputes in the house were prevented thereby from being heard in the street.

When we were again seated in the cab, mother pressed me passionately to her, and smothered me with kisses.

Oh, how I feared her kisses! She kissed me because she would soon ask questions about Lorand. And I could not answer them.

"You were obedient: you took care of your poor brother: you helped him: my dear child." Thus she kept whispering continually to me.

I dared not be affected.

"Tell me now, where is Lorand?"

I had known she would ask that. In anguish I drew away from her and kept looking around me.

"Where is Lorand?"

Grandmother remarked my anguish.

"Leave him alone," she hinted to mother. "We are not yet in a sufficiently safe place: the driver might hear. Wait until we get home."

So I had time until we arrived home. What would happen there? How could I avoid answering their questions.

Scarcely had we returned to Master Fromm's house, scarce had Fanny brought us into a room which had been prepared for my parents, when my poor mother again fell upon my neck, and with melancholy gladness asked me:

"You know where Lorand is?"

How easy it would have been for me to answer "I know not!" But what should I have gained thereby? Had I done so, I could never have told her what Lorand wrote from a distance, how he greeted and kissed them a thousand times!

"I know, mother dear."

"Tell me quickly, where he is."

"He is in a safe place, mother dear," said I encouragingly, and hastened to tell all I might relate.

"Lorand is in his native land in a safe place, where he has nothing to fear: with a relation of ours, who will love and protect him."

"But when will you tell us where he is?"

"One day, soon, mother dear."

"But when? When? Why not at once? When?"

"Soon,—in ten years."—I could scarce utter the words.

Both were horrified at my utterance.

"Desi, do you wish to play some joke upon us?"

"If it were only a joke? It is true: a very heavy truth! I promised Lorand to tell neither mother nor grandmother, for ten years, where he is living."

Grandmother seemed to understand it all: she hinted with a look to Fanny to leave us alone: she thought that I did not wish to reveal it before Fanny.

"Don't go Fanny," I said to her. "Even in your absence I cannot say more than I have already said."

"Are you in your senses then?" grandmother sternly addressed me thinking harsh words might do much with me. "Do you wish to play mysteries with us: surely you don't think we shall betray him?"

"Desi," said mother, in that quiet, sweet voice of hers. "Be good."

So, they were deceived in me. I was no longer that good child, who could be frightened by strong words, and tamed by a sweet tongue,—I had become a hard, cruel unfeeling boy:—they could not force me to confession.

"That I cannot tell you."

"Why not? Not even to us?" they asked both together.

"Why not? That I do not know myself. But not even to you can I tell it. Lorand made me give him my word of honor, not to betray his whereabouts—not to his mother and grandmother. He said he had a great reason to ask this, and said any neglect of my promise would produce great misfortune. I gave him my word, and that word I must keep."

Poor mother fell on her knees before me, embraced me, showered kisses upon me, and begged me so to tell her where Lorand was. She called me her dear "only" son: then burst into tears: and I,—could be so cruel as to answer to her every word, "No—no—no."

I cannot describe this scene. I am incapable of reflecting thereupon. At last mother fainted, grandmother cursed me, and I left the room, and leaned against the door post.

During this indescribable scene the whole household hastened to nurse my mother, who was suffering terrible pain; then they came to me one by one, and tried in turn their powers of persuasion upon me. First of all came Mother Fromm, to beg me very kindly to say that one word that would cure my mother at once; then came Grandmother Fromm with awful threats: then Father Fromm, who endeavored to persuade me with sage reasoning, declaring that my honor would really be greatest if I should now break my word!

It was all quite useless. Surely no one knew how to beg, as my mother begged kneeling before me! No one could curse as my terrible grandmother had done, and no one knew the wickedness of my character as well as I did myself.

Let them only give me peace! I could not tell them.

Last of all Fanny came to me: leaned upon my shoulder, and began to stroke my hair.

"Dear Desi."

I jerked my shoulder to be rid of her.

"'Dear Desi,' indeed!—Call me 'wicked, bad, cursed Desi!'—that is what I am."

"But why?"

"Because no other name is possible. I promised because I was obliged to promise: and now I am keeping my word, because I promised."

"Your poor mother says she will die, if you do not tell her where Lorand is."

"And Lorand told me he will die if I do tell her. He told me that, when I discovered his whereabouts to mother or grandmother, he will either report himself at the nearest military station, or will shoot himself, according as he feels inclined. And in our family such promises are not wont to dissolve in thin air."

"What might have been his reason for exacting such a promise from you?"

"I do not know. But I know he would not have done it without cause. I beg you to leave me."

"Wait a moment," said Fanny, standing before me. "You said Lorand made you swear not to tell your mother or grandmother where he had gone to. He did not forbid you to tell another?"

"Naturally not," I answered with irritated pride. "He knew all along that there has not yet been born into the world that other who could force the truth out of me with red-hot pincers."

"But that other has been born," interrupted Fanny with wild earnestness. "Just twelve years, eight months and five days ago."

I looked at her.

"I should tell you? is that what you think?"

I admired her audacity.

"Certainly, me. For your parole forbids you to speak only to your mother and grandmother. You can tell me: and I shall tell them. You will not have told anybody anything, and they still will know it."

"Well, and are you 'nobody?'"

Fanny gazed into my eyes, became serious, and with trembling lips said:

"If you wish it—I am nobody. As if I had never been born."

From that moment Fanny began to be "someone," in my eyes.

Her little sophism pleased me. Perhaps on these terms we might come to an agreement.

"You have asked something very difficult of me, Fanny; but it is not impossible. Only you must wait a little: give me time to think it over. Until I have done so, be our go-between. Go in and tell grandmother what you have recommended to me, and that I said in answer, 'it is well.'"

I was cunning. I was dissembling. I thought in that moment, that, if Fanny should burst in childish glee into the neighboring room, and in triumphant voice proclaim the concession she had wrung out of me, I might tell her on her return the name of some place that did not exist, and so throw the responsibility off my own shoulders.

But she did not do that.

She went back quietly, and waited long, until her friends had retired by the opposite door: then she came and whispered:—

"I have been long: but I did not wish to speak before my mother. Now your parents are alone: go and speak."

"Something more first. Go back, Fanny, and say that I can tell them the truth, only on the condition that mother and grandmother promise not to seek him out, until I show them a letter from Lorand, in which he invites them to come to him: nor to send others in search of him: and, if they wish to send a letter to him, they must first give it to me, that I may send it off to him, and they never show, even by a look, to anyone that they know aught of Lorand's whereabouts."

Fanny nodded assent, and returned into the neighboring room.

A few minutes later she came out again, and held open the door before me.

"Come in."

I went in. She shut the door after me, and then, taking my hand, led me to mother's bedside.

Poor dear mother was now quiet, and pale as death. She seemed to beckon me to her with her eyes. I went to her side, and kissed her hand.

Fanny bent over me, and held her face near my lips, that I might whisper in her ear what I knew.

I told her all in a few words. She then bent over mother's pillow and whispered in her ear what she had heard from me.

Mother sighed and seemed to be calmed. Then grandmother bent over dear mother, that she might learn from her all that had been said.

As she heard it, her grey-headed figure straightened, and clasping her two hands above her head, she panted in wild prophetic ecstasy:

"O Lord God! who entrustest Thy will to children: may it come to pass, as Thou hast ordained!"

Then she came to me and embraced me.

"Did you counsel Lorand to go there?"

"I did."

"Did you know what you were doing? It was the will of God. Every day you must pray now for your brother."

"And you must keep silent for him. For when he is discovered, my brother will die and I cannot live without him."

The storm became calm: they again made peace with me. Mother, some minutes later, fell asleep, and slumbered sweetly. Grandmother motioned to Fanny and to me to leave her to herself.

We let down the window-blinds and left the room.

As we stepped out, I said to Fanny:

"Remember, my honor has been put into your hands."

The girl gazed into my eyes with ardent enthusiasm and said:

"I shall guard it as I guard mine own."

That was no child's answer, but the answer of a maiden.



CHAPTER XII

A GLANCE INTO A PISTOL-BARREL

The weather changed very rapidly, for all the world as if two evil demons were fighting for the earth: one with fire, the other with ice. It was the middle of May; it had become so sultry that the earth, which last week had been frozen to dry bones, now began to crack.

The wanderer who disappeared from our sight we shall find on that plain of Lower Hungary, where there are as many high roads as cart-ruts.

It is evening, but the sun had just set, and left a cloudless ruddy sky behind it. On the horizon two or three towers are to be seen so far distant that the traveller who is hurrying before us cannot hope to reach any one of them by nightfall.

The dust had not so overlaid him, nor had the sun so tanned his face that we cannot recognize in these handsome noble features the pride of the youth of Pressburg, Lorand.

The long journey he has accomplished has evidently not impaired the strength of his muscles, for the horseman who is coming behind him, has to ride hard to overtake him.

The latter leaned back in his shortened stirrups, after the manner of hussars, and wore a silver-buttoned jacket, a greasy hat, and ragged red trousers. Thrown half over his shoulders was a garment of wolf-skins; around his waist was a wide belt from which two pistol-barrels gleamed, while in the leg of one of his boots a silver-chased knife was thrust. The horse's harness was glittering with silver, just as the ragged, stained garments of its master.

The rider approached at a trot, but the traveller had not yet thought it worth while to look back and see who was coming after him. Presently he came up to the solitary figure, trudging along, doggedly.

"Good evening, student."

Lorand looked up at him.

"Good evening, gypsy."

At these words the horseman drew aside his skin-mantle that the student might see the pistol-barrels, and consider that even if he were a gypsy, he was something more than a mere musician. But Lorand did not betray the slightest emotion: he did not even take down from his shoulder the stick, on which he was carrying his boots. He was walking bare-footed. It was cheaper.

"Oh, you are proud of your red boots!" sneered the rider, looking down at Lorand's bare-feet.

"It's easy for you to say so," was Lorand's sharp reply; "sitting on that hack."

But "hack" means a kind of four-footed animal which this rider found no pleasure in hearing mentioned.[54]

[Footnote 54: The Magyar word has a double meaning; besides a horse it means a peculiar whipping-bench with which gypsies used to be particularly well acquainted.]

"My own training," he said proudly, as if in self-defence against this cutting remark.

"I know. I knew that even in my scapegrace days."

"Well, and where are you hobbling to now, student?"

"I am going to Csege, gypsy, to preach."

"What do you get from the 'legatio' for that, student?"

"Twenty silver florins, gypsy."

"Do you know what, student? I have an idea—don't go just yet to Csege, but turn aside here to the shepherd's where you see that fold. Wait there for me till to-morrow, when I shall come back, and preach your sermon to me: I have never yet heard anything of the kind, and I'll give you forty florins for it."

"Oh no, gypsy; do you turn aside to yonder fold. Don't go just now to the farm, but wait a week for me; when I shall come back; then you can fiddle my favorite tune, and I'll give you ten florins for it."

"I am no musician," replied the horseman, extending his chest.

"What's that rural fife doing at your side?" The gypsy roared at the idea of calling his musket a "rural fife!" Many had paid dearly so as not to hear its notes!

"You student, you are a deuce of a fellow. Take a draught from my 'noggin.'"

"No, thanks, gypsy; it isn't spiritual enough to go with my sermon."[55]

[Footnote 55: Lorand really quoted a sentence from a popular ditty, but it is impossible in such cases to do proper justice to the original.

The whole passage between Lorand and the gypsy is full of allusions intelligible only to Hungarians, in Hungarian, a proper rendering of which, in my opinion, baffles all attempts. Of course the force of the original is lost, but it is unavoidable.]

The gypsy laughed still more loudly.

"Well, good night, student."

He drove his spurs into his horse and galloped on along the high-road.

Then the evening drew in quietly. Lorand reached a grassy mound, shaded by juniper bushes. This spot he chose for his night-camp in preference to the wine-reeking, stenching rooms of the way-side inns. Putting on his boots, he drew from his wallet some bread and bacon, and commenced eating. He found it good: he was hungry and young.

Scarcely had he finished his repast when, along the same road on which the horseman had come, rapidly approached a five-in-hand. The three leaders were supplied with bells and their approach could be heard from afar off.

Lorand called out to the coachman,

"Stop a moment, fellow-countryman."

The coachman pulled up his horses.

"Quickly," he said to Lorand, with a hoarse voice, "get up at once, sir 'legatus,' beside me. The horses will not stand."

"That was not what I wanted to say," remarked Lorand. "I did not want to ask you to take me up, but to tell you to be on your guard, for a highwayman has just gone on in front, and it would be ill to meet with him."

"Have you much money?"

"No."

"Nor have I. Then why should we fear the robber?"

"Perhaps those who are sitting inside the carriage?"

"Her ladyship is sitting within and is now asleep. If I awake her and frighten her, and then we don't find the highwayman she will break the whip over my back. Get up here. It will be good to travel as far as Lankadomb in a carriage, 'sblood.'"

"Do you live at Lankadomb?" asked Lorand in a tone of surprise.

"Yes. I am Topandy's servant. He is a very fine fellow, and is very fond of people who preach."

"I know him by reputation."

"Well, if you know him by reputation, you will do well to make his personal acquaintance, too. Get up, now."

Lorand put the meeting down as a lucky chance. Topandy's weakness was to capture men of a priestly turn of mind, keep them at his house and annoy them. That was just what he wanted, a pretext for meeting him.

He clambered up beside the coachman and under the brilliance of the starry heaven, the five steeds, with merry tinkling of bells, rattled the carriage along the turfy road.

The coachman told him they had come from Debreczen: they wished to reach Lankadomb in the morning, but on the way they would pass an inn, where the horses would receive feed, while her ladyship would have some cold lunch: and then they would proceed on their journey. Her ladyship always loved to travel by night, for then it was not so hot: besides she was not afraid of anything.

It was about midnight when the carriage drew up at the inn mentioned.

Lorand leaped down from the box, and hastened first into the inn, not wishing to meet the lady who was within the carriage. His heart beat loudly, when he caught a glimpse of that silver-harnessed horse in the inn-yard, saddled and bridled. The steed was not fastened up, but quite loose, and it gave a peculiar neigh as the coach arrived, at which there stepped out from a dark door the same man whom Lorand had met on the plain.

He was utterly astonished to see Lorand.

"You are here already, student?"

"You can see it with your own eyes, gypsy."

"How did you come so quickly?"

"Why, I ride on a dragon: I am a necromancer."

By this time the occupants of the carriage had entered: her ladyship and a plump, red-faced maid-servant. The former was wrapped in a thick fur cloak, her head bound with a silken kerchief; the latter wore a short red mantle, fastened round her neck with a kerchief of many colors, while her hair was tied with ribbons. Her two hands were full of cold viands.

"So that was it, eh?" said the rider, as he perceived them. "They brought you in their carriage." Then, he allowed the new-comers to enter the parlor peacefully, while he himself took his horse, and, leading it to the pump, pumped some water into the trough.

Lorand began to think he was not the rascal he thought him, and he now proceeded into the parlor.

Her ladyship threw back her fur cloak, took off the silken kerchief and put two candles before her. She trimmed them both, like one who "loves the beautiful."

You might have called her face very beautiful: she had lively, sparkling eyes, strong brown complexion, rosy lips, and arched eyebrows: it was right that such light as there was in the room should burn before her.

In the darkness, on the long bench at the other end of the table, sat Lorand, who had ordered a bottle of wine, rather to avoid sitting there for nothing, than to drink the sour vintage of the Lowland.

Beside the bar, on a straw mattress, was sleeping a Slavonian pedler of holy images, and a wandering jack-of-all-trades; at the bar the bushy-headed host grinned with doubtful pleasure over such guests, who brought their own eatables and drinkables with them, and only came to show their importance.

Lorand had time enough calmly to take in this "ladyship," in whose carriage he had come so far, and under whose roof he would probably live later.

She must be a lively, good-natured creature. She shared every morsel with her servant, and sent what remained to the coachman. Perhaps if she had known she had another nameless travelling companion, she would have invited him to the repast. As she ate she poured some rye-whiskey into her tin plate; to this she added figs, raisins and sugar, and then lighted it. This beverage is called in our country "krampampuli." It must be very healthy on a night journey for a healthy stomach.

When the repast was over, the door leading to the courtyard opened: and there entered the rogue who had been left outside, his hat pressed over his eyes, and in his hand one of his pistols that he had taken from his girdle.

"Under the table! under the bed! all whose lives are dear to them!" he cried, standing in the doorway. At these terrible words the Slavonian and the other who were sleeping on the floor clambered up into the chimney-place, the host disappeared into the cellar, banging the door after him, while the servant hid herself under the bench; then the robber stepped up to the table and extinguished both candles with his hat, so that there remained no light on the table save that of the burning spirit.

The latter gave a weird light. When sugar burns in spirits, a sepulchral light appears on everything: living faces look like faces of the dead; all color disappears from them, the ruddiness of the countenance, the brilliance of the lips, the glitter of the eyes,—all turn green. It is as if phantoms rose from the grave and were gazing at one another.

Lorand watched the scene in horror.

This gay, smiling woman's face became at once like that of one raised from the tomb; and that other who stood face to face with her, weapon in hand, was like Death himself, with black beard and black eyelids.

Yet for one moment it seemed to Lorand as if both were laughing—the face of the dead and the face of Death, but it was only for a moment; and perhaps, too, that was merely an illusion.

Then the robber addressed her in a strong, authoritative voice:

"Your money, quickly!"

The woman took her purse, and without a word threw it down on the table before him.

The robber snatched it up and by the light of the spirit began to examine its contents.

"What is this?" he asked wrathfully.

"Money," replied the lady briefly, beginning to make a tooth-pick from a chicken bone with her silver-handled antique knife.

"Money! But how much?" bawled the thief.

"Four hundred florins."

"Four hundred florins," he shrieked, casting the purse down on the table. "Did I come here for four hundred florins? Have I been lounging about here a week for four hundred florins? Where is the rest?"

"The rest?" said the lady. "Oh, that is being made at Vienna."

"No joking, now. I know there were two thousand florins in this purse."

"If all that has ever been in that purse were here now, it would be enough for both of us."

"The devil take you!" cried the thief, beating the table with his fist so that the spirit flame flickered in the plate. "I don't understand jokes. In this purse just now there were two thousand florins, the price of the wool you sold day before yesterday at Debreczen. What has become of the rest?"

"Come here, I'll give you an account of it," said the lady, counting on her fingers with the point of the knife. "Two hundred I gave to the furrier—four hundred to the saddler—three hundred to the grocer—three hundred to the tailor:—two hundred I spent in the market: count how much remains."

"None of your arithmetic for me. I only want money, much money! Where is much money?"

"As I said already, at Koermoecz, in the mint."

"Enough of your foolery!" threatened the highwayman. "For if I begin to search, you won't thank me for it."

"Well, search the carriage over; all you find in it is yours."

"I shan't search the coach, but you, too, to your skin."

"What?" cried the woman, in a passion; and at that moment her face, with her knitted eyebrows, became like that of a mythical Fury. "Try it,"—with these words dashing the knife down into the table, which it pierced to the depth of an inch.

The thief began to speak in a less presumptuous tone.

"What else will you give me?"

"What else, indeed?" said the lady, throwing herself defiantly back in her chair. "The devil and his son."

"You have a bracelet on your arm."

"There you are!" said the woman, unclasping the emerald trinket from her arm, and dashing it on the table.

The thief began to look at it critically.

"What is it worth?"

"I received it as a present: you can get a drink of wine for it in the nearest inn you reach."

"And there is a beautiful ring sparkling on your finger."

"Let it sparkle."

"I don't believe it cannot come off."

"It will not come off, for I shall not give it." At this moment the thief suddenly grasped the woman's hand in which she held the knife, seizing it by the wrist, and while she was writhing in desperate struggle against the iron grip, with his other hand thrust the end of his pistol in her mouth.

This awful scene had till now made upon Lorand the impression of the quarrel of a tipsy husband with his obstinate wife, who answers all his provocations with jesting: the lady seemed incapable of being frightened, the thief of frightening. Some unnatural indifference seemed to give the lie to that scene, which youthful imagination would picture so differently. The meeting of a thief with an unprotected lady, at night, in an inn on the plain! It was impossible that they should speak so to one another.

But as the robber seized the lady's hand, and leaning across the table, drew her by sheer force towards him, continually threatening the screaming woman with a pistol, the young man's blood suddenly boiled up within him. He leaped forward from the darkness, unnoticed by the thief, crept toward him and seized the rascal's right hand, in which he held the pistol, while with his other hand he tore the second pistol from the man's belt.

The highwayman, like some infuriated beast, turned upon his assailant, and strove to free his arm from the other's grip.

He felt he had to do with one whose wrist was as firm as his own.

"Student!" he snarled, with lips tightly drawn like a wolf, and gnashing his gleaming white teeth.

"Don't stir," said Lorand, pointing the pistol at his forehead.

The thief saw plainly that the pistol was not cocked: nor could Lorand have cocked it in this short time. Lorand, as a matter of fact, in his excitement had not thought of it.

So the highwayman suddenly ducked his head and like a wall-breaking, battering ram, dealt such a blow with his head to Lorand, that the latter fell back on to the bench, and while he was forced to let go of the rascal with his left, he was obliged with his armed right hand to defend himself against the coming attack.

Then the robber pointed the barrel of the second pistol at his forehead.

"Now it is my turn to say, 'don't stir,' student."

In that short moment, as Lorand gazed into the barrel of the pistol that was levelled at his forehead, there flashed through his mind this thought:

"Now is the moment for checkmating the curse of fate and avoiding the threatened suicide. He who loses his life in the defence of persecuted and defenceless travellers dies as a man of honor. Let us see this death."

He rose suddenly before the levelled weapon.

"Don't move or you are a dead man," the thief cried again to him.

But Lorand, face to face with the pistol levelled within a foot of his head calmly put his finger to the trigger of the weapon he himself held and drew it back.

At this the thief suddenly sprang back and rushed to the door, so alarmed that at first he attempted to open it the wrong way.

Lorand took careful aim at him.

But as he stretched out his arm, the lady sprang up from the table, crept to him and seized his arm, shrieking:

"Don't kill him, oh, don't!"

Lorand gazed at her in astonishment.

The beautiful woman's face was convulsed in a torture of terror: the staring look in her beautiful eyes benumbed the young man's sinews. As she threw herself upon his bosom and held down his arms, the embrace quite crippled him.

The highwayman, seeing he could escape, after much fumbling undid the bolt of the door. When he was at last able to open it, his gypsy humor returned to take the place of his fear. He thrust his dishevelled head in at the half-opened door, and remarked in that broken voice which is peculiarly that of the terrified man:

"A plague upon you, you devil's cur of a student: student, inky-fingered student. Had my pistol been loaded, as the other was, which was in your hand, I would have just given you a pass to hell. Just fall into my hands again! I know that...."

Then he suddenly withdrew his head, affording a very humorous illustration to his threat: and like one pursued he ran out into the court. A few moments later a clatter of hoofs was heard—the robber was making his escape. When he reached the road he began to swear godlessly, reproaching and cursing every student, legatus, and hound of a priest, who, instead of praising God at home, prowled about the high-roads, and spoiled a hard working man's business. Even after he was far down the road his loud cursing could still be heard. For weeks that swearing would fill the air in the bog of Lankadomb, where he had made himself at home in the wild creature's unapproachable lair.

To Lorand this was all quite bewildering.

The arrogant, almost jesting, conversation, by the light of that mysterious flame, between a murderous robber and his victim:—the inexplicable riddle that a night-prowling highwayman should have entered a house with an empty pistol, while in his belt was another, loaded:—and then that woman, that incomprehensible figure, who had laughed at a robber to his face, who had threatened him with a knife as he pressed her to his bosom, and who, could she have freed herself, would surely have dealt him such a blow as she had dealt the table:—that she, when her rescuer was going to shoot her assailant, should have torn aside his hand in terror and defended the miscreant with her own body!

What could be the solution of such a riddle?

Meanwhile the lady had again lighted the candles: again a gentle light was thrown on all things. Lorand gazed at her. In place of her previous green-blue face, which had gazed on him with the wild look of madness, a smiling, good-humored countenance was presented. She asked in a humorous tone:

"Well, so you are a student, what kind of student? Where did you come from?"

"I came with you, sitting beside the coachman."

"Do you wish to come to Lankadomb?"

"Yes."

"Perhaps to Sarvoelgyi's? He loves prayers."

"Oh no. But to Mr. Topandy."

"I cannot advise that: he is very rude to such as you. You are accustomed to preach. Don't go there."

"Still I am going there: and if you don't care to let me sit on the box, I shall go on foot, as I have done until to-day."

"Do you know what? What you would get there would not be much. The money, which that man left here, you have by you as it is. Keep it for yourself: I give it to you. Then go back to the college."

"Madame, I am not accustomed to live on presents," said Lorand, proudly refusing the proffered purse.

The woman was astonished. This is a curious legatus, thought she, who does not live by presents.

Her ladyship began to perceive that in this young man's dust-stained features there was something of that which makes distinctions between man. She began to be surprised at this proud and noble gaze.

Perhaps she was reflecting as to what kind of phenomenon it could be, who with unarmed hand had dared to attack an armed robber, in order to free from his clutch a strange woman in whom he had no interest, and then refused to accept the present he had so well deserved.

Lorand saw that he had allowed a breach to open in his heart through which anyone could easily see the secret of his character. He hastened to cover his error.

"I cannot accept a present, your ladyship, because I wish more. I am not a preaching legatus, but an expelled school-boy. I am in search of a position where I can earn my living by the work of my hands. When I protected your ladyship it occurred to me, 'This lady may have need for some farm steward or bailiff. She may recommend me to her husband.' I shall be a faithful servant, and I have given a proof of my faithfulness, for I have no written testimonials."

"You wish to be Topandy's steward? Do you know what a godless man he is?"

"That is why I am in search of him. I started direct for him. They expelled me from school for my godlessness. We cannot accuse each other of anything."

"You have committed some crime, then, and that is why you avoid the eyes of the world? Confess what you have done. Murdered? Confess. I shall not be afraid of you for it, nor shall I tell any one. I promise that you shall be welcomed, whatever the crime may be. I have said so. Have you committed murder?"

"No."

"Beaten your father or mother?"

"No, madame:—My crime is that I have instigated the youth against their superiors."

"What superiors? Against the magistrate?"

"Even superior to the magistrate."

"Perhaps against the priest. Well, Topandy will be delighted. He is a great fool in this matter."

The woman uttered these words laughingly; then suddenly a dark shadow crossed her face. With wandering glance she stepped up to the young man, and, putting her hand gently on his arm, asked him in a whisper:

"Do you know how to pray?"

Lorand looked at her, aghast.

"To pray from a book—could you teach some one to pray from a book? Would it require a long time?"

Lorand looked with ever-increasing wonder at the questioner.

"Very well—I did not say anything! Come with us. The coachman is already cracking his whip. Will you sit inside with us, or do you prefer to sit outside beside the coachman in the open? It is better so; I should prefer it myself. Well, let us go."

The servant, who had crawled out from under the bench, had already collected the silver and crockery; her ladyship paid mine host, and they soon took their seats again in the carriage:—and both thought deeply the whole way. The young man, of that woman, who playfully defied a thief, and struggled for a ring; then of that robber, who came with an empty pistol, and again of that woman, who when he spoke of the powers that be, understood nothing but a magistrate, and had inquired whether he knew how to pray from a book;—and who meanwhile wore golden bracelets, ate from silver, was dressed in silk and carried the fire of youth in her eyes. While the woman thought of that young man who could fight like a hero; was ready to work like a day laborer, to throw money away like a noble, to fascinate women like an angel, and to blaspheme the powers that be like a devil!



CHAPTER XIII

WHICH WILL CONVERT THE OTHER?

In the morning the coach rolled into the courtyard of the castle of Lankadomb.[56]

[Footnote 56: i. e., Orchard-hill.]

Topandy was waiting on the terrace, and ran to meet the young lady, helped her out of the coach and kissed her hand very courteously. At Lorand, who descended from his seat beside the coachman, he gazed with questioning wonder.

The lady answered in his place:

"I have brought an expelled student, who desires to be steward on your estate. You must accept him."

Then, trusting to the hurrying servants to bring her travelling rugs and belongings after her, she ascended into the castle, without further waste of words, leaving Lorand alone with Topandy.

Topandy turned to the young fellow with his usual satirical humor.

"Well, fellow, you've got a fine recommendation! An expelled student; that's saying a good deal. You want to be steward, or bailiff, or praefectus here, do you? It's all the same; choose which title you please. Have you a smattering of the trade?"

"I was brought up to a farm life: it is surely no hieroglyphic to me."

"Bravo! So I shall tell you what my steward has to do. Can you plough with a team of four? Can you stack hay, standing on the top of the sheaves? Can you keep order among a dozen reapers? Can you...?"

Lorand was not taken aback by his questions. He merely replied to each one, "yes."

"That's splendid," said Topandy. "Many renowned and well-versed gentlemen of business have come to me, to recommend themselves as farm bailiffs, in buckled shoes; but when I asked them if they could heap dung on dung carts, they all ran away. I am pleased my questions about that did not knock you over. Do you know what the 'conventio'[57] will be?"

[Footnote 57: The payment. The honorarium.]

"Yes."

"But how much do you expect?"

"Until I can make myself useful, nothing; afterwards, as much as is required from one day to the next."

"Well said; but have you no claims to bailiff's lodgings, office, or something else? That shall be left entirely to your own discretion. On my estate, the steward may lodge where he likes—either in the ox-stall, in the cow-shed, or in the buffalo stable. I don't mind; I leave it entirely to your choice."

Topandy looked at him with wicked eyes, as he waited for the answer.

Lorand, however, with the most serious countenance, merely answered that his presence would be required most in the ox-stall, so he would take up his quarters there.

"So on that point we are agreed," said Topandy, with a loud laugh. "We shall soon see on what terms of friendship we shall stand. I accept the terms; when you are tired of them, don't trouble to say so. There is the gate."

"I shall not turn in that direction."

"Good! I admire your determination. Now come with me; you will receive at once your provisions for five days—take them with you. The shepherd will teach you how to cook and prepare your meals."

Lorand did not make a single grimace at these peculiar conditions attached to the office of steward; he acquiesced in everything, as if he found everything most correct.

"Well, come with me, Sir bailiff!"

So he led him into the castle, without even so much as inquiring his name. He thought that in any case he would disappear in a day or two.

Her ladyship was just in the ante-room, where breakfast was usually served.

While Topandy was explaining to Lorand the various quarters from which he might choose a bedroom, her ladyship had got the coffee ready, for dejeuner, and had laid the fine tablecloth on the round table, on which had been placed three cups, and just so many knives, forks and napkins.

As Topandy stepped into the room, letting Lorand in after him, her ladyship was engaged in pouring out the coffee from the silver pot into the cups, while the rich buffalo milk boiled away merrily on the glittering white tripod before her. Topandy placed himself in the nearest seat, leaving Lorand to stand and wait until her ladyship had time to weigh out his rations for him.

"That is not your place!" exclaimed the fair lady.

Topandy sprang up suddenly.

"Pardon. Whose place is this?"

"That gentleman's!" she answered, and nodded at Lorand, both her hands being occupied.

"Please take a seat, sir," said Topandy, making room for Lorand.

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