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Nameless Castle; it had frequently aroused Marie's curiosity.

The little maid was now permitted to swim as far out into the open world
of waves as she desired, only now and again signaling her whereabouts
through a clear-toned "Ho, ho!"

During this time Ludwig reclined in his boat, and while the waves gently
rocked him, he gazed dreamily into the depths of the starry sky, and
listened to the mysterious voices of the night - the moaning, murmuring,
echoing voices floating across the surface of the water.

Suddenly a piercing scream mingled with the mysterious voices of the
night. It was Marie's voice.

Frantic with terror, Ludwig seized his oars, and the canoe shot through
the water in the direction of the scream.

The trail of light left behind her by the swimmer was visible on the
calm surface of the lake. Suddenly it made an abrupt turn, and began to
form a gigantic V. Evidently the little maid was impelled by desperate
terror to reach the protecting canoe. When she came abreast of it she
uttered a second cry, convulsively grasped the edge of the boat, and
cast a terrified glance backward.

"Marie!" cried the count, greatly alarmed, seizing the girdle about her
waist and lifting her into the canoe. "What has happened? Who is
following you?"

The child trembled violently; her teeth chattered, and she gasped for
breath, unable to speak; only her large eyes were still fixed with an
expression of horror on the water.

Ludwig looked searchingly around, but could see nothing. And yet, after
a few seconds, something rose before him.

What was it? Man or beast?

The head, the face, were head and face of a human being - a man, perhaps.
The cheeks and head were covered with short reddish hair like the fur of
an otter. The long, pointed ears stood upright. The mouth was closed so
tightly that the lips were invisible. The nose was flat. The eyes, like
those of a fish, were round and staring. There was no expression
whatever in the features.

The mysterious monster had risen quite close to the boat.

Ludwig seized an oar with both hands to crush the monster's head; but
the heavy blow fell on the water. The creature had vanished underneath
the boat, and only the motion of the water on the other side indicated
the direction it had taken. Terror and rage had benumbed Ludwig's
nerves.

What was it? Who had sent this nameless monster after his carefully
guarded treasure? Even the bottom of the lake concealed her enemies! He
could think of nothing but intrigues and malignant persecutions. Rage
boiled in his veins.

He enveloped the maid in her bath-mantle, and took up his oars.

"I will come back here to-morrow," he muttered to himself, "hunt up
this creature, and shoot it - be it man or beast."

Marie murmured something which sounded like a remonstrance.

"I will shoot the creature!" repeated Ludwig, savagely.

The young girl withdrew trembling to the stern of the boat, and said
nothing further; she even strove to suppress her nervous terror, like a
child that has behaved naughtily.

When the boat reached the shore, Ludwig bade Marie in a stern voice to
make haste and change her bathing-dress, and became very impatient when
she lingered longer than usual in the bath-house. Then he took her arm
and walked rapidly with her to the castle.

"Are you really going to shoot that creature?" asked Marie, still
trembling.

"Yes."

"But suppose it is a human being?"

"Then I shall certainly shoot him."

"I will never, never again venture into the lake."

"I am certain of that! If you once become frightened in the water, you
will always have a dread of it."

"My dear, beautiful lake!" sighed Marie, casting backward a sorrowful
glance at the glittering expanse of water, at the paradise of her
dreams, which the rising wind was curling into wavelets.

"Go at once to bed," said Ludwig, when he had conducted his charge to
the door of her room. "Cover yourself up well, and if you feel chilly I
will make you a cup of camomile tea."

All children have such a distaste for this herb tea that it was not to
be wondered at if Marie declared she did not feel in the least chilly,
and that she would go at once to bed.

But she did not sleep well. She dreamed all night long of the
water-monster. She saw it pursuing her. The staring fish-eyes rose
before her in the darkness. Then she saw Ludwig with his gun searching
for the monster - saw him shoot at it, but without effect. The hideous
creature leaped merrily away.

More than once she awoke from her restless slumber and called softly:

"Ludwig, are you there?"

But no one answered the question. Since her last birthday Ludwig had not
occupied the lounge in her room. Marie had discovered this. She had
placed a rose-leaf on the silken coverlet every evening, and found it
still there in the morning. If any one had slept on the lounge, the
rose-leaf would have fallen to the floor.

The following day Ludwig was more silent than usual. He did not speak
once during their drive, and ate hardly anything at meals.

One could easily see how impatiently he waited for evening, when he
might go down to the lake and search for the monster - a sorry object for
a fury such as his! An otter, most likely, or a beaver - mayhap an
abortion of the Dead Sea, which had survived the ages since the days of
Sodom! All the same, it was a living creature, and must become food for
fishes. Marie, however, prayed so fervently that nothing might come of
Ludwig's fury that Heaven heard the prayer. The weather changed suddenly
in the afternoon. A cold west wind succeeded to the warm August
sunshine; clouds of dust arose; then came a heavy downpour of rain.
Ludwig was obliged to forego his intention to row about on the lake in
the evening. He spent the entire evening in his room, leaving Marie to
complain to her cats; but they were sleepy, and paid no attention to
what she said.

The little maid had no desire to go to bed; she was afraid she might
dream again of horrible things. The heavy rain beat against the windows;
thunder rumbled in the distance.

"I should not like to venture out of the house in such weather," said
Marie to her favorite cat, who was dozing on her knee. "Ugh-h! just
think of crossing the lonely court, or going through the dark woods!
Ugh-h! how horrible it must be there now! And then, to pass the
graveyard at the end of the village! When the lightning flashes, the
crosses lift their heads from the darkness - ugh-h!"

The clock struck eleven; directly afterward there came a hesitating
knock at her door.

"Come in! You may come in!" she called joyfully. She thought it was
Ludwig.

The door opened slowly, only half-way, and the voice which began to
speak was not Ludwig's; it was the groom.

"Beg pardon, madame!" (thus he addressed the little maid).

"Is it you, Henry? What do you want? You may come in. I am still up."

The groom entered, and closed the door behind him. He was a tall,
gray-haired man, with an honest face and enormously large hands.

"What is it, Henry? Did the count send you?"

"No, madame; I only wish he were able."

"Why? What is the matter with him?"

"I don't know, indeed! I believe he is dying."

"Who? Ludwig?"

"Yes, madame; my master."

"For God's sake, tell me what you mean!"

"He is lying on his bed, quite out of his mind. His face is flushed,
his eyes gleam like hot coals, and he is talking wildly. I have never
seen him in such a condition."

"Oh, heaven! what shall we do?"

"I don't know, madame. When any of us gets sick the count knows what to
do; but he does n't seem able to cure himself now; the contents of the
medicine-chest are scattered all over the floor."

"Is there no doctor in the village?"

"Yes, madame; the county physician."

"Then he must be sent for."

"I thought of that, but I did not like to venture to do so."

"Why not?"

"Because the count has declared that he will shoot me if I attempt to
bring a stranger into his room, or into madame's. He told me I must
never admit within the castle gate a doctor, a preacher, or a woman; and
I should not think of disobeying him."

"But now that he is so ill? and you say he may die? Merciful God! Ludwig
die! It cannot - must not - happen!"

"But how will madame hinder it?"

"If you will not venture to fetch the doctor, then I will go myself."

"Oh, madame! you must not even think of doing this!"

"I think of nothing else but that he is ill unto death. I am going, and
you are coming with me."

"Holy Father! The count will kill me if I do that."

"And if you don't do it you will kill the count."

"That is true, too, madame."

"Then don't you do anything. _I_ shall do what is necessary. I will put
on my veil, and let no one see my face."

"But in this storm? Just listen, madame, how it thunders."

"I am not afraid of thunder, you stupid Henry. Light a lantern, and arm
yourself with a stout cudgel, while I am putting on my pattens. If
Ludwig should get angry, I shall be on hand to pacify him. If only the
dear Lord will spare his life! Oh, hasten, hasten, my good Henry!"

"He will shoot me dead; I know it. But let him, in God's name! I do it
at your command, madame. If madame is really determined to go herself
for the doctor, then we will take the carriage."

"No, indeed! Ludwig would hear the sound of wheels, and know what we
were doing. Then he would jump out of bed, run into the court, and take
a cold that would certainly be his death. No; we must go on foot, as
noiselessly as possible. It is not so very far to the village. Go now,
and fetch the lantern."

Several minutes afterward, the gates of the Nameless Castle opened, and
there came forth a veiled lady, who clung with one hand to the arm of a
tall man, and carried a lantern in the other. Her companion held over
her, to protect her from the pouring rain, a large red umbrella, and
steadied his steps in the slippery mud with a stout walking-stick. The
lady walked so rapidly that her companion with difficulty kept pace with
her.




CHAPTER IV


Dr. Tromfszky had just returned from a _visum repertum_ in a criminal
case, and had concluded that he would go to bed so soon as he had
finished his supper. The rain fell in torrents on the roof, and rushed
through the gutters with a roaring noise.

"Now just let any one send again for me this night!" he exclaimed, when
his housekeeper came to remove the remnants of cheese from the
supper-table. "I would n't go - not if the primate himself got a
fish-bone fast in his throat; no, not for a hundred ducats. I swear it!"

At that moment there came a knock at the street door, and a very
peremptory one, too.

"There! did n't I know some one would take it into his head to let the
devil fetch him to-night? Go to the door, Zsuzsa, and tell them that I
have a pain in my foot - that I have just applied a poultice, and can't
walk."

Frau Zsuzsa, with the kitchen lamp in her hand, waddled into the
corridor. After inquiring the second time through the door, "Who is it?"
and the one outside had answered: "It is I," she became convinced, from
the musical feminine tone, that it was not the notorious robber, Satan
Laczi, who was seeking admittance.

Then she opened the door a few inches, and said:

"The Herr Doctor can't go out any more to-night; he has gone to bed, and
is poulticing his foot."

The door was open wide enough to admit a delicate feminine hand, which
pressed into the housekeeper's palm a little heap of money. By the light
of the lamp Frau Zsuzsa recognized the shining silver coins, and the
door was opened its full width.

When she saw before her the veiled lady she became quite complaisant.
Curiosity is a powerful lever.

"I humbly beg your ladyship to enter."

"Please tell the doctor the lady from the Nameless Castle wishes to see
him."

Frau Zsuzsa placed the lamp on the kitchen table, and left the visitors
standing in the middle of the floor.

"Well, what were you talking about so long out yonder?" demanded the
doctor, when she burst into his study.

"Make haste and put on your coat again; the veiled lady from the
Nameless Castle is here."

"What? Well, that is an event!" exclaimed the doctor, hurriedly
thrusting his arms into the sleeves of his coat. "Is the count with
her?"

"No; the groom accompanied her."

These magic words, "the veiled lady," had more influence on the doctor
than any imaginable number of ducats.

At last he was to behold the mythological appearance - yes, and even hear
her voice!

"Show her ladyship into the guest-chamber, and take a lamp in there," he
ordered, following quickly, after he had adjusted his cravat in front of
the looking-glass.

Then she stood before him - the mysterious woman. Her face was veiled as
usual. Behind her stood the groom, with whose appearance every child in
the village was familiar.

"Herr Doctor," stammered the young girl, so faintly that it was
difficult to tell whether it was the voice of a child, a young or an
old woman, "I beg that you will come with me at once to the castle; the
gentleman is very seriously ill."

"Certainly; I am delighted! - that is, I am not delighted to hear of the
worshipful gentleman's illness, but glad that I am fortunate enough to
be of service to him. I shall be ready in a few moments."

"Oh, pray make haste."

"The carriage will take us to the castle in five minutes, your
ladyship."

"But we did not come in a carriage; we walked."

Only now the doctor noticed that the lady's gown was thickly spattered
with mud.

"What? Came on foot in such weather - all the way from the Nameless
Castle? and your ladyship has a carriage and horses?"

"Cannot you come with us on foot, Herr Doctor?"

"I should like very much to accompany your ladyship; but really, I have
_rheumatismus acutus_ in my foot, and were I to get wet I should
certainly have an _ischias_."

Marie lifted her clasped hands in despair to her lips, but the
beseeching expression on her face was hidden by the heavy veil. Could
the doctor have seen the tearful eyes, the trembling lips!

Seeing that her voiceless petition was in vain, Marie drew from her
bosom a silken purse, and emptied the contents, gold, silver, and copper
coins, on the table.

"Here," she exclaimed proudly. "I have much more money like this, and
will reward you richly if you will come with me."

The doctor was amazed. There on the table lay more gold than the whole
county could have mustered in these days of paper notes. Truly these
people were not to be despised.

"If only it did not rain so heavily - "

"I will let you take my umbrella."

"Thanks, your ladyship; I have one of my own."

"Then let us start at once."

"But my foot - it pains dreadfully."

"We can easily arrange that. Henry, here, is a very strong man; he will
take you on his shoulders, and bring you back from the castle in the
carriage."

There were no further objections to be offered when Henry, with great
willingness, placed his broad shoulders at the doctor's service.

The doctor hastily thrust what was necessary into a bag, locked the
money Marie had given him in a drawer, bade Frau Zsuzsa remain awake
until he returned, and clambered on Henry's back. In one hand he held
his umbrella, in the other the lantern; and thus the little company took
their way to the castle - the "double man" in advance, the little maid
following with her umbrella.

The doctor had sufficient cause to be excited. What usurious
gossip-interest might be collected from such a capitol! Dr. Tromfszky
already had an enviable reputation in the county, but what would it
become when it became known that he was physician in ordinary to the
Nameless Castle?

The rain was not falling so heavily when they arrived at the castle.

Marie and Henry at once conducted the doctor to Ludwig's chamber. Henry
first thrust his head cautiously through the partly open door, then
whispered that his master was still tossing deliriously about on the
bed; whereupon the doctor summoned courage to enter the room. His first
act was to snuff the candle, the wick having become so charred it
scarcely gave any light. He could now examine the invalid's face, which
was covered with a burning flush. His eyes rolled wildly. He had not
removed his clothes, but had torn them away from his breast.

"H'm! h'm!" muttered the doctor, searching in his bag for his
bloodletting instruments. Then he approached the bed, and laid his
fingers on the invalid's pulse.

At the touch of his cold hand the patient suddenly sat upright and
uttered a cry of terror:

"Who are you?"

"I am the doctor - the county physician - Dr. Tromfszky. Pray, Herr Count,
let me see your tongue."

Instead of his tongue, the count exhibited a powerful fist.

"What do you want here? Who brought you here?" he demanded.

"Pray, pray be calm, Herr Count," soothingly responded the doctor, who
was inclined to look upon this aggressive exhibition as a result of the
fever. "Allow me to examine your pulse. We have here a slight paroxysm
that requires medical aid. Come, let me feel your pulse; one, two - "

The count snatched his wrist from the doctor's grasp, and cried angrily:

"But I don't need a doctor, or any medicine. There is nothing at all the
matter with me. I don't want anything from you, but to know who brought
you here."

"Beg pardon," retorted the offended doctor. "I was summoned, and came
through this dreadful storm. I was told that the Herr Count was
seriously ill."

"Who said so? Henry?" demanded the count, rising on one knee.

Henry did not venture to move or speak.

"Did you fetch this doctor, Henry?" again demanded the invalid, with
expanded nostrils, panting with fury.

The doctor, fancying that it would be well to tell the truth, now
interposed politely:

"Allow me, Herr Count! Herr Henry did not come alone to fetch me, but
he came with the gracious countess; and on foot, too, in this weather."

"What? Marie?" gasped the invalid; and at that moment his face looked as
if he had become suddenly insane. An involuntary epileptic convulsion
shook his limbs. He fell from the bed, but sprang at the same instant to
his feet again, flung himself like an angry lion upon Henry, caught him
by the throat, and cried with the voice of a demon:

"Wretch! Betrayer! What have you dared to do? I will kill you!"

The doctor required nothing further. He did not stop to see the friendly
promise fulfilled, but, leaving his lances, elixirs, and plasters behind
him, he flew down the staircase, four steps at a time, and into the
pouring rain, totally forgetting the ischias which threatened his leg.
Nor did he once think of a carriage, or of a human dromedary, - not even
of a lantern, or an umbrella, - as he galloped down the dark road through
the thickest of the mud.

When the count seized Henry by the throat and began to shake him, as a
lion does the captured buffalo, Marie stepped suddenly to his side, and
in a clear, commanding tone cried:

"Louis!"

At this word he released Henry, fell on his knees at Marie's feet,
clasped both arms around her, and, sobbing convulsively, pressed kiss
after kiss on the little maid's wet and muddy gown.

"Why - why did you do this for me?" he exclaimed, in a choking voice.

The doctor's visit had, after all, benefited the invalid. The
spontaneous reaction which followed the violent fit of passion caused a
sudden turn in his illness. The salutary crisis came of its own accord
during the outburst of rage, which threw him into a profuse
perspiration. The brain gradually returned to its normal condition.

"You will get well again, will you not?" stammered the little maid
shyly, laying her hand on the invalid's brow.

"If you really want me to get well," returned Ludwig, "then you must
comply with my request. Go to your room, take off these wet clothes, and
go to bed. And you must promise never again to go on another errand like
the one you performed this evening. I hope you may sleep soundly."

"I will do whatever you wish, Ludwig - anything to prevent your getting
angry again."

The little maid returned to her room, took off her wet clothes, and lay
down on the bed; but she could not sleep. Every hour she rose, threw on
her wrapper, thrust her feet into her slippers, and stole to the door of
Ludwig's room to whisper: "How is he now, Henry?"

"He is sleeping quietly," Henry would answer encouragingly. The faithful
fellow had forgotten his master's anger, and was watching over him as
tenderly as a mother over her child.

"He did not hurt you very much, did he, Henry?"

"No; it did not hurt, and I deserved what I got."

The little maid pressed the old servant's hand, whereupon he sank to his
knees at her feet, and, kissing her pretty fingers, whispered:

"This fully repays me."

The next morning Ludwig was entirely recovered. He rose, and, as was his
wont, drank six tumblerfuls of water - his usual breakfast.

Of the events of the past night he spoke not one word.

At ten o'clock the occupants of the Nameless Castle were to be seen out
driving as usual - the white-haired groom, the stern-visaged gentleman,
and the veiled lady.

That same morning Dr. Tromfszky received from the castle a packet
containing his medical belongings, and an envelop in which he found a
hundred-guilder bank-note, but not a single written word.

Meanwhile the days passed with their usual monotony for the occupants of
the Nameless Castle, and September, with its delightfully warm weather
drew on apace. In Hungary the long autumn makes ample amends for the
brief spring - like the frugal mother who stores away in May gifts with
which to surprise her children later in the season.

Down at the lake, a merry crowd of naked children disported in the
water; their shouts and laughter could be heard at the castle. Ludwig
fully understood the deep melancholy which had settled on Marie's
countenance. Her sole amusement, her greatest happiness, had been taken
from her. Other high-born maidens had so many ways of enjoying
themselves; she had none. No train of admirers paid court to her. No
strains of merry dance-music entranced her ear. Celebrated actors came
and went; she did not delight in their performances - she had never even
seen a theater. She had no girl friends with whom to exchange
confidences - with whom to make merry over the silly flatterers who paid
court to them; no acquaintances whose envy she could arouse by the
magnificence of her toilets - one of the greatest pleasures in life!

She had no other flatterers but her cats; no other confidantes but her
cats; no other actors but her cats. The world of waves had been her sole
enjoyment. The water had been her theater, balls, concert - the great
world. It was her freedom. The land was a prison.

Again it was the full of the moon, and quite warm. The tulip-formed
blossoms of the luxuriant water-lilies were in bloom along the lake
shore. Ludwig's heart ached with pity for the little maid when he saw
how sorrowfully she gazed from her window on the glittering lake.

"Come, Marie," he said, "fetch your bathing-dress, and let us try the
lake again. I will stay close by you, and take good care that nothing
frightens you. We will not go out of the cove."

How delighted the child was to hear these words! She danced and skipped
for joy; she called him her dear Ludwig. Then she hunted up the
discarded Melusine costume, and hastened with such speed toward the
shore that Ludwig was obliged to run to keep up with her. But the nearer
she approached to the bath-house, the less quickly she walked; and when
she stood in the doorway she said:

"Oh, how my heart beats!"

When Ludwig appeared with the canoe from behind the willows, the
charming Naiad stepped from the bath-house. The rippling waves bore the
moonlight to her feet, where she stood on the narrow platform which
projected into the lake. She knelt and, bending forward, kissed the
water; it was her beloved! After a moment's hesitation she dropped
gently from the platform, as she had been wont to do; but when she felt
the waves about her shoulders, she uttered a cry of terror, and grasped
the edge of the canoe with both hands.

"Lift me out, Ludwig! I cannot bear it; I am afraid!"

With a sorrowful heart the little maid took leave of her favorite
element. The hot tears gushed from her eyes, and fell into the water; it
was as if she were bidding an eternal, farewell to her beloved. From
that hour the child became a silent and thoughtful woman.

* * * * *

Then followed the stormy days of autumn, the long evenings, the weeks
and months when nothing could be done but stay in doors and amuse one's


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