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Title: Pater Peter. English. - Peter the Priest
Author: Jókai, Mór, 1825-1904
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Pater Peter. English. - Peter the Priest" ***

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PETER THE PRIEST

by

MAURUS JOKAI

Author of "Black Diamonds," "Timar's Two Worlds,"

Translated by S. L. and A. V. Waite



New York
R. F. Fenno & Company
9 and 11 East 16th Street

Copyright, 1897 by R. F. Fenno & Company
_Peter the Priest_



TABLE OF CONTENTS

   I        IN THE MONASTERY.                    5
   II       THE FOOLS OF THE CASTLE.            22
   III      THE LORDS OF MADOCSANY.             33
   IV       YAW DEREVOCSID EHT.                 40
   V        THE LORDS OF MITOSIN.               53
   VI       THE PICTURE OF SAINT ANTHONY.       67
   VII      VENUS AND HER SON.                  80
   VIII     THE BISHOP'S WEDDING.               96
   IX       THE TEMPTATION.                    117
   X        THE FEAST.                         125
   XI       UNDERGROUND.                       134
   XII      THE ICE-BLOCKED FLOOD.             159
   XIII     IN THE GHOST'S HOUR.               165
   XIV      THE BEAUTIFUL WOMAN'S REVENGE.     176
   XV       THE GRAVE OF GOLD.                 187
   XVI      THE FEAST OF DEATH.                196
   XVII     ALL IS OVER.                       201



PETER THE PRIEST.

CHAPTER I.

IN THE MONASTERY.


There were six of them besides the Prior and Abbot. The seventh was away
in the village, collecting the gifts of charity.

"Benedicite," began the Prior. "Here is a message from our most gracious
patroness." With that he laid upon the table a sealed letter in Latin,
which the others passed from hand to hand. All understood it, but it was
evident that not one of them liked the letter, for they turned up their
noses, pursed their lips and knit their eyebrows.

"One of us is bidden to the court of our most munificent patroness to
educate her only son."

"He is a little devil!" exclaimed the Abbot.

"He talks and whistles in church," cried another.

"He reviles the saints and the souls of the departed."

"He torments animals." Each one had something to say; especially the
last.

"He is the accursed child of a mad mother."

"She is the destruction of all men," continued the Abbot. "She sins
against all the commandments."

"She tramples under foot all the sacraments."

"She is a raging fury and a sacrilegious witch."

"She sent her husband to his grave with a deadly drink."

The Prior met all these horrible comments with a stoical calm. "Still
she is our gracious patroness, and her son also will one day be our
patron. We must drink the bitter cup to its dregs. Let us choose."

Still all shook their heads.

"I have the fever in my bones," said one, rubbing his leg.

"I have trouble with my liver," said another, and as proof he put out
his tongue to the opposite brother, who hastened to say:

"It is my vocation to heal the sick."

Now all three looked at the fourth, who felt very confident of having
the best excuse:

"And I am not acquainted with the Scythian speech, neither the Hungarian
nor the Slavic."

The fifth was embarrassed what excuse to give:

"I have taken a vow never to speak to a woman."

Evidently no one cared for the office.

"Then let us send Peter," said the Prior calmly.

At this all five cried out: "He is too young," said one.

"But he is stern of character," replied the Prior.

"He will meet with very great temptations," threw in a second.

"The greater will be his triumph," returned the Prior.

"But he is still only a brother," a third protested.

"We can make him a father," the Prior answered. An answer which brought
them all to their feet, opposing it loudly:

"That cannot be! that cannot be! our rules are against it."

"Then let some one else go," said the Prior coldly.

Silence fell upon the group: they shrugged their shoulders, fell back
into their large richly carved arm-chairs, and murmured:

"Then let Peter be made father, and let father Peter go."

       *       *       *       *       *

It was the student John's week in the bake-house, and from there he had
heard every word; and now that the worthy fathers had gone away, he
came out of the bake-house and hobbled off to the kitchen. The master of
the kitchen was not there, but Samuel, a fellow-student, hung over the
edge of a large two-handled tub. John was lank, and Samuel was thickset;
both were in rags, out of respect to the golden saying, "In rags is a
student at his best." It was the daily duty of these two students to
carry to the pigs this large tub full of kitchen refuse. As soon as John
saw that the kitchen master was not there, he began rummaging in the tub
among the crusts of bread, apple parings, and scraps of mouldy cheese,
selecting with an experienced eye.

"Leave some for Peter," growled Samuel, without raising his head from
his knees.

John could not answer, for both cheeks were full. Samuel sprang up full
of envy that John should be enjoying his feast with such gusto.

"Stop, you rascal! Leave some for the pigs." Then John looked for the
pole to put through the handles of the tub.

"Take hold of the other end."

"I won't. Peter will be here soon and he carries it out alone."

"Peter will not be here."

"I hear his cart creaking now."

"All the same, he won't carry that tub out again. I heard what they
said when I was in the bake-house."

"What did they say?" And the two sat down together on the edge of the
tub for a gossip.

"The mistress of the castle sends for an instructor for her son, and
they say that he a small devil."

"That's true, he's equal to twelve."

"He whistles in church."

"He puts sulphur in the incense when he assists at mass!"

"He curses and reviles the saints and the souls of the departed."

"He torments animals."

"You're right he does! He put a lighted sponge in my donkey's ear, and
the poor beast smashed my cart."

"They said that he is as wild as his mother; and the Abbot said of her
that she was the ruin of every man. Is that so?"

"Yes, she is a witch, who bridles men and rides them off to the devils'
dance."

"They did say that she was a witch, and and that she broke all the ten
commandments, and put the sacraments under her feet; and listen,--they
said that she mixed poison in her husband's drink, and he died of it!"

"That's like her! Once they sent me to her with a letter, and she
ordered a cup of mead that had something in it that made me feel all
night long as if I must crawl up the wall."

"But the Prior said that she was our gracious patroness, and that her
son would one day be our patron, and that we must drink the bitter cup."

"I can see how they all trembled!"

"One said that he had fever in his bones, another had trouble with his
liver, a third said he was busy healing the sick, a fourth that he did
not know either Hungarian or Slavic, and the fifth was bound by a holy
vow not to speak to a woman."

"And so in the end they send Peter."

"The Devil's in you! You've guessed it!"

"It may turn out well for him."

"One thought he was still too young, and the Prior said, but he is of
strong character; another that he would be exposed to great temptations;
several objected that Peter was still a brother. Then the Prior said,
we'll make him a father. Then all objected, and the Prior said, Then one
of you must go. Then they all gave in and said, well, make Peter a
father, and let Father Peter be the one to go."

And then both the students began to laugh. "Peter will be in the right
place there!" In the mean time, the creaking of the cartwheels stopped
at the rear door; then came a knock; through this rear gate was an
entrance into the court, but the duty of door-tender was limited to the
main entrance.

"Do you hear? Peter's knocking."

"You hear him, yourself."

"Go open the gate."

"You can do it as well as I."

"I can't find my feet, I don't know which of the four they are." At that
John struck the four bare legs with his birch broom, and his fellow
scholar at once discovered his own; then they seized each other by the
hair; the question was which should throw the other out of the kitchen;
the vanquished one was to open the gate. During this struggle, they
upset the tub and the contents streamed over the floor. Then, indeed,
they separated, thoroughly pommeled and frightened.

"Get out, you overturned it."

"You pushed me into it."

"When the kitchen-master sees us, he'll beat you well." Neither one
would set things to rights; meanwhile their brother, tired of knocking
at the rear gate, had gone around to the main gate, been let in there,
and now opened the rear gate for himself to bring in what he had
collected in the villages.

It was a lumbering cart; its wobbling wheels described the letter S in
their course, and as they had been long ungreased, creaked dismally. A
one-eared donkey drew the cart filled with all kinds of provisions,
which the begging monk had collected in the villages; this was called
"temporizing." The steward was already waiting in the court, slate in
hand to note down the receipts. He did not fail at each item to make
severe criticisms and to look sharply at the collector. Everything he
found poor; picking out the bad eggs, he said, "You can have those
yourself, Peter." The meal was very coarse. "Go sift it, and make
yourself a cake out of the bran." On the head of the brother rained down
the thanks, "Do-nothing," "Bread-consumer," "Donkey;" he endured all
with bowed head. The hood of his black cowl covered his face to his
eyebrows, and from his beard hung large raindrops; under his cowl, which
was fastened by a cord, could be seen his bare feet, covered with mud to
the ankle; his sandals he carried on his staff, so that they should not
be worn out on the rough road. There was no rest for the wet and weary
monk. The kitchen-master at once called through the vaulted porch,
"Petre, Petre, hue acceleras: ad culinam!" (Peter, Peter, come to the
kitchen, quick!)

It was a fine kitchen; now when we look at its ruins, we might believe
it a chapel and a tower; but it really was only a kitchen and a chimney.
For Peter this roomy kitchen had the disadvantage that he had to put it
in order.

The contents of the overturned tub had spread over the marble floor, and
those who had been the cause of this condition could not repair the
mischief, because the Abbot was at that moment investigating their case
in a corner by means of the lash. The two students knelt before him; and
so somebody else must clean up the floor, and that somebody was Peter.
He went obediently to work; threw off his coarse black cowl; and as he
rolled up his sleeves, one could see from the fine white skin that he
had not from childhood been accustomed to such slave's work. His face
was still young, his features regular, and, through the dulling
discipline of self-denial, immovable. He was only a brother, so the
monk's tonsure had not taken the place of his blond hair; and though his
eyes filled with tears, it was clearly caused only by coming suddenly
from the cold into the heated kitchen. Without a word, he knelt down to
clean the floor with shovel, broom, and whisk of straw.

Meanwhile, the Abbot questioned the two rascals to find out who had done
the mischief. It stood to reason neither one had. According to an old
proverb, Mischief has no master. That they had scuffled, their faces
bore evidence; John had a black and blue spot under the eye, and Samuel
a bloody scratch on his brow, but both denied any scuffle.

"Then how came this black and blue spot under your eye?" The same story
suggested itself to John which Baron de Manx was to use later in a
critical situation.

"When I tried to light the fire I could not find the flint, so I struck
myself in the eyes with one fist and with the other I held the match to
it, so when my eyes saw sparks I lighted the match by them."

The Abbot said nothing, but turned to the other: "How did you get that
wound on your forehead?" Samuel, encouraged by John's example, was also
ready with an excuse:

"I bit myself."

"How could you bite yourself in the forehead?"

"In the looking-glass."

"But you could not reach it!"

"Yes I could, I climbed up on the bench."

The Abbot compressed his lips till his fat cheeks stood out from each
other, and then pronounced the sentence:--"Joannes quia bene mentitus
est, accipiat viginti verbera; Samuel, quia male mentitus est, accipiet
triginta." (John, because he has lied well, shall have twenty lashes;
Samuel, because he has lied badly, shall have thirty.)

The two lads gave themselves up to weeping and howling and wiping away
the tears with their fists; but in secret, while the Abbot turned away,
they winked at each other slily, and this meant, I'll not strike hard,
if you won't. But the Abbot had eyes that could see without looking.

"Peter," he said to the working monk who had just finished his cleaning,
"come here."

Peter obeyed. "Take these two delinquents in charge; they would handle
each other with sly consideration, and avoid their punishment, your hand
will let the rods fall more heavily;" and he handed him a bundle of
birch rods, dipped in salt water.

Now the two lads began to howl lustily and to crawl about on their
knees, in their fear. But Peter did not reach out his hand for the
bundle of rods. The demon of pride had stirred his blood to
insurrection; his countenance glowed; his eyes blazed; he tossed back
the lock of hair from his brow, clenched his fists, and advanced one
foot. He emboldened himself to speak, although he had not been
questioned. "I am no hangman's slave, I never learned to beat men with a
besom; lock up the culprits, and I will do their work as long as they
are confined, but I do not like to whip boys."

"Petre!" said the Abbot in even tones, "Putasve quod adhuc sis dux
equitum nobilium? Es servus servorum." (Do you think you are still at
the head of noble knights? You are the slave of slaves.) And in order to
let him feel how completely he was under the rod, he laid the bundle of
sticks on the head of the defiant youth. Under this frightful burden,
the uplifted head gradually sank and the lids closed over the blazing
eyes. He unclenched his fists and crossed them on his breast. The
handsome knight was changed again to the humble monk. He reached
tremblingly for the bundle of rods, which he raised to his speechless
lips:

"Parce, pater." (Spare me, father.)

But as he laid hold of the instrument of shame, whose work it is to
disgrace that masterpiece of creation, man; to reduce to an animal him
whom God had created in his own likeness, then once again his pride
reasserted itself; he raised that noble hand, accustomed to grasp the
sword hilt, whose greatest pleasure was to cut through with sharp steel
helmet and armor; and which was now compelled with a jailer's scourge to
belabor the bare skin of unmannerly clowns.

He was only a novice, and had not yet learned that there are
seventy-seven devils in the body, and that the body receives as many
blows as there are devils. He had learned that we must regard the
nail-studded belt and the hooked lash as our benefactors, and that to
scourge the body at night until the blood flowed was an equivalent for a
day of prayer. But to beat howling students was still a horror to him.
Soon he will become accustomed to that too. At this moment was heard in
the hall the voice of the Prior. "Petre ad me tendas." ("Peter, come to
me.") Peter sighed with lightened heart and handed back the bunch of rods
to the Abbot. "The Prior calls me."

"He commands you; hasten to him."

Peter wanted to lay aside his wet cowl and put on his coarse sandals.
"Go just as you are," said the Abbot, "either you will come back here
barefooted, or you will go hence in another garb."

The Jesuit Brother dared not inquire concerning what he did not
understand, he knew only to obey, so Peter went barefooted to the Prior.

"Dearly beloved son," said the Prior to him, "it is now two years that
you have practised obedience. You have learned to be poor, to beg, to
take care of the sick, and to do the work of a day laborer. You have
six years yet, before you can be numbered among the fathers. Three years
you must pass in the library, must learn Saint Augustine by heart, and
also the Turkish, Arabic, Greek, and Russian languages; for it is
possible that when you are through your studies you may be sent into the
desert of Arabia to convert the heathen, or to Russia to encourage to
steadfastness the faithful of the Church who are persecuted by Ivan the
Terrible. So then you must spend three years among your books, keeping
awake night and day, and forcing your way into learning as yet unknown
to you. The next three years, you must wander about among hostile
peoples, where crucified martyrs and impaled saints will mark your way.
The seventh year, you must make a pilgrimage into Spain to endure the
test of your fidelity. If you endure all these tests, and all these
temptations, then may you be numbered among the fathers. All this long
way you can put behind you with one step, and out of all this learning
you need only the one word, I will. This day you may lay down your
novitiate, and tomorrow arise Father Peter, if you will voluntarily and
obediently undertake this mission. Read!" And he handed him the letter
of the Patroness.

When the young monk glanced at the hand-writing, (he must have known it
before) his whole countenance expressed sudden horror; he held the
letter in his hand as if afraid to read it; then he took it, and as he
read, his brow wrinkled, his face expressed contempt, and through his
open lips, one could see his tightly closed teeth. He read the letter
through and let his hand fall listlessly.

"We have chosen you," said the Prior. "To-morrow you will become Father
Peter, and need only to say, 'I will'."

The youth looked steadfastly at the ground.

"Have you become speechless?"

The youth raised his head; his face had regained its manly calm. "Give
me time for consideration, my father," he said, with a sweetly ringing
voice, in which was heard the sincere vibration of a naive nature. "Let
me compare the beginning and the end of this course. Surely it is not so
far for me to the desert of Bab-el-Mandeb, or to the ice-sea of Siberia,
as from the threshold of this monastery to the gate of the Madocsany
castle. Neither the raging of Ivan the Terrible at his gory banquets,
nor the nightly howl of the hyena, prowling after the dead through the
desert of sand, is to me so terrible as one whisper of this woman. More
rapidly can I learn Turkish and Arabic, Greek and Russian, and, if
necessary, Sanskrit and Mongolian, than the one word, 'I will,' Grant
me until to-morrow early to think of this."

"Very well. Take this letter to your cell, and pray God that He give you
light. For it is true that the mission we lay upon you is more difficult
than any into the land of the Scythian or Hyperborean. Omnia ad majorem
Dei gloriam."

Peter went to his cell. It was a small narrow room, five feet long and
two feet wide, with only a bed, and on the wall a crucifix. Yet the
whole night long, he did not lie down on his bed, but, like a lion in a
cage, he went back and forth over the five feet of space. There on the
bed lay the letter, and on the bed where that letter lay, he could not
lay his head. Toward morning, his decision became strong. He pushed the
letter off the bed and threw himself down, and then weariness
overpowered him; he slept so soundly that even the matin bell did not
rouse him; and he first wakened when the Abbot shook him by the arm. He
sprang up.

"Well, Peter, what is your decision?"

"This," replied Peter, treading under foot the letter as it lay on the
floor.

"Very well, then get up and follow me; the two delinquents are awaiting
their punishment."

"Wait; the Prior told me that the two years of the novitiate in which I
was to do menial service were over. Now follow three years of study;
then three years more of pilgrimage among hostile people. The Prior did
not say anything about such hangman's service as this."

"Oh, yes, he did, Peter; recollect, he said, finally you are to go to
Spain: that meant that you are to spend a year in the service of the
Holy Inquisition. Come and begin your practice now."

Peter's nerves quivered with horror. Tightly did he press his arms to
his sides and his face grew deadly pale. He raised his eyes to Heaven
and his mouth opened.

A vision passed before him of human wisdom in dog's shape, and of canine
rage in man's shape--of Ivan the Terrible--of the Saracens--of the
torture-chamber of Arbucs. It was more than his mind could bear. His
knees gave way under him; he sank down; took up the letter trodden under
foot and folded it together; concealed it in his bosom, and said, "I
will go."



CHAPTER II.

THE FOOLS OF THE CASTLE.


That very day went forth from the Convent the answer to the letter of
the Baroness. It read: "For the high office of instructing our future
baron, Father Peter has been chosen. He will install himself to-morrow
at the castle."

For this new rôle, Father Peter received a new costume. No one would
have recognized the beggar-monk of yesterday in this figure of to-day,
clad in silken robe with buckled shoes; as, with a large book under his
arm, he turned from the highway into the entrance of the Madocsany
castle, barely a thousand paces distant from the monastery.

This castle was formerly shunned by everybody. In the first place, the
court swarmed with hunting dogs of every kind, which dashed out at every
arrival, and fairly tore the travellers from their carriages; then the
young lord had a custom of lying in wait with a few intimates, and
shooting at passers-by with an air gun, on a wager; then inside the
court was a peacock, which flew at everybody's head and tried to peck
out his eyes. Man and beast were trained here to harass the stranger.
The day when the arrival of Father Peter was expected, the mistress took
care to have her beloved child's air gun put away, for the round Jesuit
hat would be altogether too convenient a target; she had had part of the
pack of hounds driven into the poultry yard, leaving out only the
blood-hounds and pointers; but she could not herself take care that a
respectful reception should await the pious father, for just at the time
of his arrival, the forester brought word that the night before the lord
of Mitosin, with a troop of hunters, had crossed the Waag and shot down
deer and other game; and when the gamekeepers tried to withstand this
mad chase, they had been bound to trees, and the game had been dragged
away.

The mistress of the castle fell into an ungovernable rage; sent at once
for her stewards and agent, and prepared for a frightful retaliation by
the most violent means.

Between the castles of Madocsany and Mitosin was an ancient feud that
each lord took care to settle with his own hand. But when one of these
domains passed into the hands of a woman, the situation became worse;
for woman is less yielding than man. The preparations for revenge
caused the mistress of the castle to forget entirely the arrival of
Father Peter; so he was received by nobody but the dogs and the fools,
in which latter class must be counted the young lord.

Nine blood-hounds and pointers plunged for the monk when his sable
figure appeared in the gateway. But the monk did not act like those
people who in their fright run this way and that, throwing out their
arms, and provoking the spectator to laughter, but he remained standing
quietly before the dogs--he had owned a fine pack once himself--and when
they came baying around him, opened his large book and closed it
noisily.

The dogs thought he had shot, and dashed off in every direction to hunt
for the game, while the monk walked calmly into the castle court. The
young Lord, the haiduk, the master of the hounds, and the fool were
entertaining themselves playing ball.

"See, here comes the instructor," cried Matyi, the haiduk. "What a
marvel that the dogs have not eaten him," said Petyko, the master of the
hounds, greatly astonished. "Hit the monk in the back with the ball,"
the young Lord called out to the fool, who had the ball in his hand, and
if he hit him it was bound to leave a big spot on the silken robe.

Hirsko, the fool, did as bidden. The monk caught the ball, and threw it
back at the Fool with such force that his bearskin cap flew off his
head. This pleased the young Lord greatly.

"That's a fine monk! Come here, Monk. So you know how to play ball! How
the devil is that? I thought monks knew only how to pray. Can you throw
a ball as far as Matyi? He is a strong fellow. See how far the ball has
gone; he almost hit the window. See what you can do."

Father Peter took the bat and struck the ball with such force into the
air that it flew over the roof of the castle. All were carried away with
admiration.

"That's a rare monk!" said the young Lord. "I can learn to play 'Longa'
and 'Meta' with him."

"Does your Honor know Latin already?" asked Father Peter of the boy.

"Latin! What's that got to do with this?"

"Why, 'Longa' means long, and 'Meta' means a goal. So in playing we add
to learning."

"Really?"

"We make a kite out of what is to be learned, and while we let the kite
go, the learning remains."

"So you understand kite-flying, do you? Have you ever seen a kite as
large as mine? See how stout the cord is to hold by. Matyi can break
this the first time trying. Show us, Matyi."

"That's nothing," said Father Peter, and with that he put the cord
together three times and broke it.

"My, that's a strong monk! What's the Latin for kite?"

"Draco."

"And paper?"

"Charta."

"And the frame?"

"Arcus."

"I know all that. That's quite easy, Hirsko."

"It's got to be easy," said the Fool, an ugly dwarf, with a monstrously
large head and hideous countenance. "The gracious Lady has given orders
that the instructor shall teach the young Lord everything within one
year, in such a manner that the young Lord shall not have to study
anything."

"That is always the way, you know," said Father Peter. "Every young Lord
keeps a small boy to be whipped, and when the young Lord does not know
his lesson, the boy receives the punishment in his stead."

"You shall be this boy," said the young Lord, laughingly, to the Fool.

This system of pedagogics pleased the young Lord very much, and the monk
by this means had won his favor in the highest measure. The Fool was the
shrewdest of the company, for he saw that this new man would throw the
old favorites out of the saddle, for he knew better how to manage the
hounds than the master of hounds, was stronger than the haiduk, and a
better joker than the Fool. He wanted to bring the monk to confusion.
"What did you bring that great, stupid book with you for?" he asked,
opening the folio, which bristled with a strange handwriting, terrible
to him. "Is the young Lord to learn the book by heart."

"No, my son; with this book I drive out devils."

"Then you have come just at the right time. Go up to our gracious Lady;
she has three thousand devils; you can test your art with her."

All four burst out laughing.

"Yes, do go, monk," teased the young Lord, "let us see whether you dare
appear before my lady mother. She understands Latin when she tries. Do
go, monk."

And all four crowded around the spiritual director. One shoved him,
another pulled him, and so they dragged him through the entrance hall,
hall-ways, and saloons, in the direction from which came the loudest
noise; but when suddenly a door opened and through this unexpectedly
appeared the Lady herself, all four ran away, to crawl behind the stove,
the table, or the highest chest, leaving Father Peter standing alone in
the middle of the saloon before this fire-breathing dragon. The gracious
lady had pushed open the door with the heel of her yellow riding boot,
and when she saw the monk's figure standing in the dark background, she
stamped violently with her foot.

"The Devil could not have brought a monk here, more opportunely." With
that she turned toward the threshold with her back to the monk, and
began to scold her retinue in the adjoining room. "What are you staring
at there! Off with you, and do as I order! The peasants are to arm
themselves with scythes and pitchforks, and the halberdiers are to mount
their horses. Haiduks, hunters, peasants, off with you to Mitosin! Set
the red cock on their roof. If they have other game, they shall have
fire for it. Fall upon them while they are drunk; throw them into the
water to sober them; set fire to their towers on all four sides, even if
the dead Florian himself should rise from his grave to beg for them. But
if you catch the master alive, swing him up on the cross bar over the
well. Now off with you! I'll go too; saddle my horse. Where's that
miserable priest? What the devil does he want? Let him show his face."

The Lady's face was flaming red with anger; even on her brow blazed the
red spots; her nostrils quivered; her eyes flashed so that she could not
see; her lips drawn into very ugly shape. Then too, her hair was
disordered, her brown locks changing into red, gleamed on her temples in
small bright red curls, and above them a high cap was fastened with four
pins that gave the appearance of four horns. Her stately figure showed
strength and passion, still further heightened by her costume. Her
bodice, extending below the hips, was of brown and yellow stripes two
fingers wide, a true tiger's skin, and instead of the stiff ruffle
around the neck was a border of feathers. Below the hips hung a dagger
from a Turkish girdle; and the skirt of heavy flowered brocade was
festooned with strings of gold and silver coins that rattled as she
walked; the skirt, made short in front, as she stamped her foot, showed
the leg above the yellow riding boots, in bright red trousers. This was
her appearance when she cried: "Now let that cringing priest come here!"

Father Peter came near, and said gently: "May peace and blessing rest
upon this house." At this voice, the lady let fall her dagger and
raised her hands to her brow, either to shade her eyes for better sight,
or to conceal her face. The monk came nearer to her, and said in
friendly tones: "Anger ruins beauty. Cleopatra was never angry, and so
remained always beautiful. Rage disfigures the countenance, draws
lasting wrinkles, and leaves its imprint on the skin." In one instant
the rage had vanished from the lady's face, the blazing red became
white, her brow relaxed, and her lips resumed their lines of beauty. Her
flashing eyes remained fixed, like those of a sleep-walker, on the
countenance of the speaker. An instant had sufficed to effect this
change; at the last words of the Father, the Lady even tried to smile.
Now the monk came still nearer, so that he could say in a whisper: "What
unseemly revenge have you planned, gracious Lady? Who will consent to
quarrels and firebrands? You are only preparing a new enjoyment for the
one who has wronged you. A sword wound does not hurt a man. If you
really want to take vengeance on this man, have a quantity of game shot
and send it to him as a present. In this way you will shame him."

Like the sun beneath a heavy cloud, gleamed a smile on the face of the
Lady. "True, true," she said, with a look of joy. "I will revenge myself
that way. Steward, treasurer, forester; go at once into the forest;
kill as much game as you can put in a wagon, and take it to Mitosin. Say
to the lord of the castle, I send him my greetings, and since he is so
desperately hungry for my game, I send him still more of it, that he may
have enough."

Every one was astonished at this sudden change, including those in
hiding behind the furniture, who were now quite convinced that the monk
knew how to drive out the Devil with the aid of the large book he
carried under his arm.

"Mother, don't give in to him," cried the young Lord, dashing out and
seeking shelter beside his mother. Then happened to the young man what
he had never experienced before; his dear mother gave him a box on the
ear. Yes, the spoiled darling, the only son, the child of her heart, who
never in his life before had heard the word, "Don't," received his first
box on the ear.

Stunned and amazed, he quite forgot he ought to cry. "Off with you.
Treat him as your Father. Kiss his hand." And his mother's half-raised
boot made the boy understand that she was quite ready to use her heel as
a stimulus. But the monk intervened.

"Gracious Lady, treat him as your child." With these words he leaned
forward, and enveloped him in his robe and the child sought refuge in
the arm of his protector, and began to cry bitterly. "Do not cry, my
little one, have confidence in your mother; she loves you. A mother's
chastisement brings blessing to the child. Now take the book, and carry
it to the room designed for me."

This commission so surprised the child that he forgot to cry. Curiosity
overcame sorrow. He was delighted to take into his hand the wonderful
book whose contents the devils themselves feared, as if they had
themselves to spell it out, or take a whipping. Off he ran with his
book, and the three fools after him. As soon as they could, they stopped
to study the strange characters painted in gay colors on the parchment.



CHAPTER III.

THE LORDS OF MADOCSANY.


When they were left alone, the Lady began to laugh. Her pleasure was as
passionately violent as her anger; she clapped her hands and pressed
them to her head.

"Aha! So you're here, are you? At last! You are not dead! You did not go
out into the wild world! You have come to me! A hundred times I have
called you; a thousand times I have waited for you; but always in vain.
When I did not expect you, you are before me! Ha ha! And in what a
masquerade have you slunk in, Tihamer Csorbai!"

And with that she laid both hands on the monk's shoulders, rested her
dimpled chin on her arm, and laughed in his face with her sparkling
eyes.

"My name is Father Peter," said the monk calmly. And without change of
countenance, he suffered the Lady to press him to her breast with all
her might.

"That's not true!" she cried, seizing violently the monk's rough
garment over his breast. "It's only a disguise," and she tore open the
coarse cowl on his breast, expecting to see a gold-trimmed, buckled
cloak of velvet. In its stead was a coarse shirt of unbleached linen,
such as all Jesuits wore, down to the humblest begging monk; and where
this coarse shirt parted on his breast, could be seen around his neck a
chain of steel with iron cross. The points on the links of the chain and
the sharp edges of the cross had left bloody prints on his neck, from
her violent embrace. But he endured both the embrace and the torture
without a smile, without a word.

"I am what I seem to be," he said coldly. The tone of his voice was so
cold, his glance so steely hard, that from the face of the Lady suddenly
vanished the smile, and with it every charm. With dignity she drew
herself to her full height, rubbed her hands, gazed with her black eyes
in terror at the cross, her whole body quivered; then she clasped both
hands to her brow, throwing back her head. "'Tis a dream! Waken me! Give
me water."

"We are awake, my Lady," said the monk, "What you see is the reality."

"Tihamer----"

"--is dead."

"But not in the struggle against the Turks?"

"No, only in the struggle against self."

"'Tis two years since we have heard anything of you."

"Yes, since that unfortunate duel, in which I killed somebody with whom
I would gladly exchange my rest every night. You know the cause."

"Do not call it to mind. Rage fills my whole body."

"Every night his ghost comes to me."

"Why didn't you make more thorough work of it? His ghost leaves me in
peace." And with that she smiled seductively. The man understood the
words and understood the smile. This woman was a queen of sinners; all
heart, and yet heartless. If she were to go to Hell, she would seduce
the Devil, and instead of being among the damned, would take her place
at Beelzebub's side as his wife.

"The Lord of Mitosin has cursed me," said the monk.

"How often has he cursed me! Every word he speaks is a curse. If all
took effect, there would be no thunder left in Heaven or devil in Hell.
I laugh at his curse."

"But he really has cursed me. At the funeral feast of his son, he hurled
after me the words, that if he ever caught sight of my face again, he
would put his daughter in a boat, push her out on the sea in the black
night, and leave her to perish."

"And your love for her was so great that for this reason you went out
into the wide world,--nay, more, you went out of the world--you became a
monk! And yet you could not free yourself from her. Her charm brought
you back again, that you might be near her, might even see her again. Am
I not right?"

Envy and jealousy blazed in her glance.

"No. I made a pilgrimage to Rome, and was received into the Jesuit
order. The Provincial, finding that I was of this vicinity ordered me to
the monastery of Madocsany."

"Whither you never wanted to come."

"I had to obey. And since then, I have been spending my years of penance
here. I have done the most menial work. Begged from village to village,
and tortured my body and my soul."

"Just to see her once more!"

"To avoid her."

"What! Have you not yet seen her? Not heard of her? She is more
beautiful than ever and still unmarried. She waits for you."

"She waits in vain! Even in prayer, I do not venture to approach her. I
am what I have become--a rigid, unfeeling monk. Only in my hands do I
carry the rose-wreath, not on my brow. Its fragrance is no more sweet;
its thorns give no more pain."

"And you are the one the Jesuit convent selected to send to me!"

"The rest were all afraid of you."

"On account of my bad reputation; and yet they do not know me at all.
You had most cause to fear, for you know me, and yet you came--to the
woman whom you hate, whom you despise, at whose warm whisper you
shudder, whom you have so often thrust aside, and of whom you know that
she clings to you so madly that she will never give you up to God, or
Devil, or angel! Whose windows are written all over with your name, who
when she is silent, and when she speaks, and when she dreams, thinks
only of you! And yet you came!"

"The command was given and I obeyed."

"And why are you here?"

"To fulfil a sacred mission."

"Ha, ha! What mission?"

"To instruct your son in the true faith, and in worldly knowledge."

"I understand. They are afraid that if I get angry, I will take my son
with me to Saros-Patak, and make a Calvinist of him; and will my wealth
to that college; they have a holy dread of that."

"Possibly."

"But you have still another sacred mission. As I understand from their
letter, the Jesuits never send an instructor into a family except with
the title of Father Confessor. You are to be my Father Confessor."

"I know it."

"You know it. And do not suspect that what I shall whisper in your ear
day after day, will be not only my curse, but also yours. That you who
must absolve my soul of the sin, if sin it is, renew that sin day by
day; that when you lay your hand upon my head in blessing, every one of
your five fingers will burn in my red hair as in glowing coals. Do you
know that?"

"I know it."

"And yet you venture to incline your ear when I kneel before you and
venture to hear me when I whisper, 'Father I have sinned;' I love a man
with a maddening love that sets my brain on fire; I cannot pray, for his
name ever rushes to my lips; I cannot look to the saints above, for
everywhere I see his face; I cannot do penance, for I love my sin, and
am ever returning to it; I had a good, true husband who was as gentle as
a lamb; this good and gentle husband I tortured to death--perhaps I even
caused his death--I exulted and rejoiced in my widow's veil for I
thought, Now he whom I seek can be mine; ah, my sin, my sin! But his
heart would not incline to me for he loved another,--a more beautiful, a
better, an innocent maiden; and I disturbed their union, I roused her
father and brother against him, I sowed enmity between them, and he
killed the brother of his betrothed, and so I tore them from each other.
My sin! My sin! Hear me, God in Heaven! I did not come to you to pray,
but I will contend with you. This man I love more than my soul's
salvation, the man to whom I pray rather than to Heaven, whose heart
Thou first didst take from me, and now dost take him too. Thou hast
chained him to Thine altar, but I will not leave him to Thee, I will
tear him from Thine altar, and if Thou wilt not permit me to be happy on
earth, to be blessed in Heaven with him, then will I be damned in Hell
with him. Father, I will sin!"

The woman rocked on her knees in the dust before the man, kissing his
feet, and with her hand beating her unrepentant breast.

A deep sigh was wrung from the heart of Father Peter. He turned his face
away, and laying a trembling hand on the woman's head, sobbed with
stifled voice, "May God pity you your sins, poor wretched woman!" And
then he let her lie sobbing on the ground, and let her drag herself
along the marble floor, following his footsteps and kissing them, one
after the other.



CHAPTER IV.

YAW DEREVOCSID EHT.


That good-sized book that Father Peter had brought to the Castle with
him was no book of magic to exorcise devils, but rather a book that had
had some man-tormenting devil for composer: it had moulded already for
two centuries in the Madocsany Monastery library before the Jesuit order
was founded by Ignatius Loyola; at that time the Carmelite fathers were
in the abbey; the contents of this book must have caused them, too, many
a headache, for they wrote many pages of Latin commentaries to explain
this text of a few leaves which nobody understood yet. This much had the
investigators already worked out; that the characters were the same that
the Arabs employed in their secret correspondence, and the alphabet was
that known among Orientalists as "Lijakah." On the other hand, the words
which the letters formed were not to be found in any speech of any known
people on the whole globe. One linguist insisted that he recognized the
Arabic, another the Coptic, and a third the Mongolian in some one of
its forms. The words that most frequently appeared were explained by all
kinds of philological cunning. The title of the book was YAW DEREVOCSID
EHT. One word sounded like Arabic, and another was evidently of Turkish
origin; but what the whole meant no human understanding could decide.
Whole sheets were written over, with desperate and useless effort. It
seemed as if everybody must go mad who attempted its investigation. The
Jesuits later adopted the custom, whenever a monk ventured to demur
against a task assigned, of putting into his hand this book, YAW
DEREVOCSID EHT, and telling him that he might spend his time in quiet
linguistic studies, that he might acquire the language in which these
few pages were written, and when he had accomplished this, he might go
as a missionary to the people who wrote and spoke this language. But
this secret had never yet been penetrated throughout all the years in
which it had vexed and tormented students. And so to Father Peter, this
book had been given for a companion; in case he wished to escape from
the hard service in the castle, this book would be welcome in gaining
his exit through the closed door, and for that reason, Father Peter
spent whole nights over the thick book, and studied in succession the
writings of those who had gone astray before him.

The little son of the mistress of the castle slept with the monk in one
room, but beside the monk, the child must have the Fool too; for he
could not go to sleep unless the Fool told him fairy stories, and the
Fool well knew how. Often he sat until midnight by the boy's bedside,
weaving garlands of the Thousand and One Nights; this gave the monk a
chance to study the secrets of the Arabic writing. The young Lord had
very bad dreams. He dreamed of the fairies and witches in the fairy
tales, and would waken screaming. Often he dreamed with wide open eyes,
tried to escape, howled and wept, so that the monk and the Fool had all
they could do to quiet him and lull him back to sleep again. And this
was continued until early morning, when the boy fell into a deep sleep,
and the monk and the Fool could give themselves to rest.

The monk found his Arabic book of sufficient service in these night
watches, but for the Fool wine was furnished as a means of keeping
awake. And so they sat through the still nights beside each other at a
table; in front of the monk lay the open book and the large inkstand of
lead, and before the Fool stood a large pitcher and a tin mug.

"What would a man say, Monk," said the Fool once, "if he should see us
together this way every night? Which would he call the Fool and which
the wise man?"

"He would call you wise, and me a fool."

"If you would like, I could share my wisdom with you, for my pitcher is
full; there is wine in it."

"I do not drink wine."

"What have you there in front of you?"

"Ink."

"And I do not drink ink, but I'll taste your drink; give me some."

"Ink is not to drink."

"What is it for?"

"You see. Men dip quills in it, and write letters with it, and what is
in the letters causes greater delight to the human soul than your wine
to the human throat."

"Give me a swallow of it that I may learn its taste."

"Nobody can give of this drink."

"Is it frozen?"

"Yes, just that. It is written in a foreign language that I do not
myself understand."

"You do not understand! and you follow with your finger along the line
of those bird-tracks! Then this magic book is of no more value to you
than to me. I might just as well sit in your place, and follow with my
finger."

"You are quite right, Fool."

"Now I'll tell you a thing, and you can make two of it. If I can swallow
a little of your drink which you cannot pour out for your own self,
then will you taste mine which I do not begrudge you?"

"I can easily agree to that."

"Now then, wait a little. Before you came I had a student for companion
in these night-watches, who used to work there busily, just where you
sit. He was to have taught the young Lord to read and write, but every
day he got hit in the head with the inkstand. I watched this foolish
student carefully from the other end of the table, and saw that when he
took his goosequill in his hand, and began to make all kinds of
flourishes that he always worked from left to right, but as I observe
your finger you go from right to left, and in that way get everything
wrong end to. Now listen, and I will recite you a sweet song:

    'Wolb sdniw hguor eht nehw neve,
    Skaerc kao tuots eht nehw neve,
    Woleb ssarg eht ni terewolf eht,
    Skaerw yruf rieht tahw ton sraef.'

Did you understand? Arabic, isn't it? Now just read it backward and you
will understand at once.

    'Even when the rough winds blow,
    Even when the stout oak creaks,
    The floweret in the grass below
    Fears not what their fury wreaks.'"

"Quite right, Fool, but this is written in Arabic, and Arabic, like all
Eastern languages, is written from right to left."

"What is the title of your book?"

"YAW DEREVOCSID EHT."

The Fool burst into a loud laugh. "Didn't I tell you that I would drink
of your cup first? Now read from left to right just as you have done:

"YAW DEREVOCSID EHT means simply, The Discovered Way."

Father Peter's eyes and mouth stood wide open with astonishment. What
fifty wise men had not been able to guess in two hundred years, a fool
had found out in two minutes! Now Father Peter began to read as the Fool
had instructed him. He read two, three lines, a whole page; and the more
he read, the more his countenance lifted up, his eyes beamed, the
ascetic hardness of his features melted under the glow of an
indescribable fire; he began to pound on the table with his right hand.

"See, see!" cried the Fool, "The monk is drunk with his own wine."

At this the monk sprang up and closed the book.

"This book does not drive away the Devil, it summons him."

"Didn't I tell you I knew how to drink your wine? Now drink mine." And
he poured the beaker full and reached it to the monk. Oh, how well
Father Peter had once known this fiery drink, when he was not a slave of
slaves, but leader of the knights; then no wine was too strong for him;
he could drink on a wager with German or Polish cavaliers; but for two
years his lips had not touched wine. Wine is the foam of that fiery
stream that flows toward Hell. As thick as fish in the river, large and
small, so thick are sins, large and small in the wine. There must have
been in the book some kind of hidden fire, for as soon as the monk had
let one page of it steal into his soul, the torments of a burning thirst
were manifest in his countenance.

"Pass me your mug." His hand still trembled as he took the mug. At first
his dry lips just sipped the wine; it could not have been especially
good; but after two years of abstinence, the monk experienced a magic
effect, and the wine exhilarated him as if he tasted it for the first
time in his life. He sank back into his armchair, and in his upturned
face were mirrored visions of ecstacy. His far-gazing eyes beamed, and
on his half-opened lips trembled a smile. Where might his soul be
wandering now? Involuntarily his hand reached for the book and opened
its covers.

"Oh, woe, woe! Dromo the Devil is here! oh, woe, he will throw me into
the fire!" So screamed the restless, dreaming boy, tossing on his couch,
with his head hanging off.

The monk was roused, and shuddered, then ran to the boy, raised him,
laid him back on his pillow and quieted him with caressing words:

"Don't be afraid, little one, I am here beside you." The child stared at
him with wide-open eyes.

"Are you my father?"

"Yes, your spiritual father."

"My father, whom the Devil carried off to Hell? That's what my mother
said. Leave me, leave me! I will not go with you. Your hand is fire, and
your fingers burn me."

And yet the monk's hand was as cold as ice, as he stroked the child's
silken hair. By the bed stood a silver pitcher with a small gold cup:
the boy raised it to his lips and at once became quiet, as the
terrifying visions vanished. He wound both arms around the neck of the
monk and whispered to him, while still under the spell of the dream:

"Beautiful Knight, brave Knight! When you lift my mother into the saddle
with you, you'll take me with you, won't you, my handsome Knight, my
golden, diamond hero!" With that he fell into a gentle sleep.

"Just see what a good nurse you would make," said the Fool to his
friend, "Sometimes I have to spend a good half-hour rubbing his feet and
singing to him, and he is asleep at once. Have another mugful?"

"I don't like your wine."

"It's true you ought to drink yours, not mine." Father Peter saw with
horror that the large book was open again. He thought it was magic.

"Did you touch this book?" he asked the Fool.

"No, not if you were to give me this castle, and its handsome mistress
with it, would I open that book; it opened itself."

The red and blue letters were oh, so enticing! It was no sealed secret
now that they contained; for they were all familiar. The monk leaned
back in his chair and read the leaves of the secret writing until he had
read them to the end. And the farther he read, the more intense grew
that expression of unquenchable thirst, like that of a sick man who
dreams that he is in a desert and longs for a cataract to drink. Every
leaf of the book was a new catastrophe, the whole one unbroken delirium;
he did not look up until he had finished the last line of the last page.
Then he called to the Fool: "Bring me a whole bucket of wine."

The morning sun, which streamed in through the painted window, found
them both in the same place; the Fool was under the table: the monk sat
before his book, his head on his hands, his eyes wide open:--he did not
read, he did not sleep, but yet he dreamed.

In YAW DEREVOCSID EHT was no cabalistic writing. The writer at the very
first gave his reasons for employing this device. He had chosen the
Arabic letters so that all would try to read it from right to left, and
so fail to discover its meaning. In case it occurred to anybody to read
it from left to right, still, as the people of that vicinity rarely knew
more than Hungarian, no meaning would appear. In case anybody understood
English, it was hardly probable the Arabic text would be familiar too.
Only by rare chance could this mysterious book be deciphered. What it
contained was the description of a secret passage or tunnel that led
from the Madocsany Castle to the turreted walls of Mitosin. Midway was
the river Waag, which was here quite wide, but the tunnel passed under
the river bed, thus anticipating the Thames tunnel by about four hundred
years. If any one shakes his head at this, and begins to doubt that our
story is true, we will point out to such a doubter the secret way that
leads from a certain castle to a distant village, a veritable catacomb
which in a straight line would be fully a mile long, a work of the
Hussites. The vaulted passage-way is covered with mould, from which in
one place shines out two memorial tablets; one of stone bears the symbol
of the cooper's trade, as peculiar to the Hussite monks as the trowel
and the triangle to the Freemasons. In the stone vaulting, above is seen
a goose, the Hussite symbol; what purpose this tunnel served the
Hussites is yet to be discovered; but the object for which the
Madocsany-Mitosin tunnel was made, was clearly set forth in this YAW
DEREVOCSID EHT. Both castles belonged to Czech robbers and bandits in
the days when the Hungarian regent, John Hunyadi, with all the military
forces of the land, wore himself out trying to drive back the monstrous
host of the Turkish Sultan. He who fights with a bear has no time to
brush wasps from his face. The Czech could ravage the country at
pleasure, and when sometimes bands of noblemen, led by Hungarian Counts,
rose up against them to take vengeance for their plundering and reckless
deeds, suddenly every trace of the pursued would be lost. The larger
robber-hordes would withdraw to their strongholds and defy every attack;
the lesser ones, led by impecunious noblemen, left their drawbridges
down before the pursuing bands, and let them seek at will what they so
eagerly pursued. The enemy searched everywhere, in every corner, cellar,
loft, chapel, and crypt; and when they could find nothing more, still
lingered on, days and weeks, and then cleared out the storehouses, and
withdrew in unsatisfied rage. The entire robber-band meantime, with all
their stolen wealth and beautiful Slavic maidens, passed down into this
secret tunnel, and made their way to the other castle. And the
freebooters who guarded the Waag was ready to swear that not one of them
had passed over the river. It was true; they had gone under. But once
Mathias Corvinus ordered the two castles attacked at one and the same
time; the robbers fled first from Mitosin through the tunnel, only to
find themselves surrounded in Madocsany. It was at this time that the
monk wrote YAW DEREVOCSID EHT. He described in detail to whom the two
castles belonged, and where the entrances and exits of the tunnel were.
The book was intended to be a guide to the treasure which the robbers
had concealed in a chamber in the tunnel. Every point of the chamber was
clearly defined, all the small bags of gold and silver coin were
numbered, there were also given names of human beings, or beautiful
women as precious as jewels; the name of each individual was given, and
the families were enumerated from which they had been stolen. A
description was set down of the coat, cap, and even the finger-rings
that each one wore; who were of the Catholic, and who of the Lutheran
faith. If any one ten or twenty years later should discover them in the
subterranean dungeon, where, together with the stolen treasure, they had
been hidden away, he would know at once in which consecrated ground to
bury each one, what name to inscribe on each cross, what prayer to have
said for each soul's weal. The monk had faithfully cared for all, and
left the book in the archives of the convent. What happened to the
robbers, the chronicles do not tell: probably the same that happened to
the bandits of Dzuela. In a night attack, they were cut down by the
royal troops and any who were taken alive were at once hung. The victors
probably carried off enough gold with them so that they were satisfied
no more remained. The two entrances of the tunnel were so well
concealed, that six generations followed each other in both castles
without anybody's having a suspicion of the common mystery that bound
them. The YAW DEREVOCSID EHT, said everybody who looked at the writing.
But no one understood the words until they came to Father Peter.



CHAPTER V.

THE LORDS OF MITOSIN.


Opposite the Madocsany Castle gleams forth the Mitosin. Its four towers
are covered with tin, and when the setting sun shines on them, all four
blaze like sheaves of fire. They are round and dome-topped in Russian
style. There is still a fifth tower that would gladly show itself above
the silver poplars; this one runs up into a spire and cross, while the
others end in a star. What the tower with the cross could find inside
the inclosure of the Mitosin Castle, where neither its former lords, the
Hussite Knights, nor its present lord, a Lutheran magnate, were of the
Catholic faith--this is explained by a curious history that one can
learn piecemeal; here and there a fragment is kept back, and only at the
very close is the whole truth known. Now one can fully believe that the
little church was built in honor of Saint Anthony, though in reality a
Hussite church. The purpose of this was to conceal from the Count Von
Treuesin, or from Count Von Tipsen, that the builders were Hussites, by
pointing to the church with its cross and picture as Roman Catholic. The
present lord of the castle, Grazian Likovay, had inherited his estate
from his mother, Susanna Szuhoy, a zealous Catholic, who had left this
to her son on condition that the church of Mitosin Castle should always
be maintained in its present condition: and a legacy had been deposited
with the neighboring Dean of Tepla, to insure the reading of mass once a
week in this church, whether there was anybody present or not. The lord
of the castle was enjoined to maintain the church in good condition, not
to coin its bell into counterfeit money, and to allow the sacristan of
Tepla to ring the bell at the customary hours; furthermore, he was not
to appropriate the church to the Lutherans. If he opposed these
conditions, Mitosin with all its appurtenances, was to go to the public
treasury. Had the pious lady ever seen the interior of this church, she
would not have left this legacy, which was of no use whatever; for while
there was a bell in the tower, there was no rope; and there was neither
ladder, stairs, nor any other way of reaching the bell. And even if it
had been rung by the hour, no honest Christian would have entered the
church, on account of the altar picture. Whoever made that had not taken
into consideration the temper of these people, or else had purposely
set it aside. From an artistic point of view, the picture was a
masterpiece. It represented the Temptation of Saint Anthony in the
Wilderness, and had been painted by an Italian master.

The ascetic was the true ideal of a holy hermit who withstands all the
temptations and seductions of Hell; yet the people of this vicinity
could not enjoy the monsters from Hell in such frightful forms as can be
conjured up only in the fancy of a melancholy painter. But apart from
these terrifying monsters, the temptress, in whose form Satan surprises
the pious hermit, had been painted with such striking boldness that at
the first sight of the same from the threshold of the door, every good
Christian would turn and run. Such may pass in Italy, but in our
mountainous highland it is too cold for such a garb, so that even the
priest himself took no pleasure in reading the liturgy in the presence
of such an altar-picture. If, however, in spite of everything, any one
could take pleasure in saying his prayers in this church, if an innocent
soul could be found that took exceptions to nothing, that saw only what
was godly in this church, and was not conscious of the painted devil,
either in the form of a monster or of a beautiful woman; for any such
provision was made.

Now you must know that there was just such an innocent creature in
Mitosin Castle. The Lord's daughter, Magdalene, was the only Papist in
the whole house, yes, in the whole village. According to the Hungarian
laws, the children of a Protestant father and a Papist mother were
divided for the Heavenly Kingdom as follows,--the sons followed the
religion of their father, and the daughters of their mother. If anybody
made objections, a terrible storm fell upon his head. The Lord of
Mitosin was a stiff-necked Protestant, who persecuted priest and monk in
every possible way. He would not allow his daughter to bring a Catholic
prayer-book or a rosary into the house. If anybody wished to pray, he
could do it in the church; it was not far away. From the rear gate of
the castle straight to the church ran a beautiful path bordered by
poplars a hundred years old; only a beautiful grove separated church
from castle; and yet the way from the castle door to the church door was
so luxuriantly overgrown with grass that it could have been mown; for
the space between church and castle was the bear-den.

Grazian Likovay owned two great overgrown bears, for which he had had
pits dug in the garden, and there they could roam freely; their growls
came up over the walls. Now you can understand why the way to the
church was grown with grass,--no one would go to church who did not want
to meet those monsters. When the watchman of the tower blew his evening
horn, a window on the balcony would open, and a whistle blow from
within, then would come forth with much noise the two bears. The thicket
of the poplar-grove opened before them as they made their way straight
through; a hoarse, rasping voice would call them by name, and some one
would throw a bloody bone from the window; as soon as they had finished
that, would follow a whole quarter of mutton; the two bears were twins,
a division of the meat must be made, and so there would be a quarrel.
When all had been devoured, neither one felt that he had had his share,
and so they kept on quarrelling the whole night through; but the window
was closed, and garden, church and beasts left to themselves.

Gradually as darkness fell, the nightly mists rose from the river; no
light was to be seen, yet night after night a girl's figure slipped out
by the door leading into the garden, and glided along like the vision of
a dream. A long white mantle covered her slender form, and a black veil
was over her head; she looked about, shuddered and stepped out into the
darkness; she came alone without a lantern; her step did not betray
her, for the grass was thick, but her white robe showed her figure. With
a loud growl, both black monsters plunged at her, and their white teeth
and blazing eyes shone out of the thicket. The maiden uttered no cry,
but right and left threw something from her apron; it was honey-cakes,
tid-bits for the bears. With a joyous growl they fell upon their
honey-cakes; meanwhile the maiden slipped away over the grass to the
church door, and before the beasts could plunge after her, she had
closed the door behind her. The bears now began to strike against the
heavy iron-bound door with their paws; they climbed up the posts and
snuffled and finally dropped down, one on one side, the other on the
other, licking their paws and listening for every rustle that came from
the church.

What could this white vision do in the church in the darkness, alone,
and, at night?


Herr Grazian had received many guests to-day. It was a memorial with
him; the anniversary of the death of his only son, Casimir. This was the
third anniversary. At the funeral feast, Grazian had informed his good
friends, boon companions, clergy, scholars, singers, and buffoons, that
every year this festival of mourning would be celebrated in Mitosin
Castle, just as when the bier still stood in the hall, and the comrades
came one by one to offer the dead a beaker and then drink the same to
his happy resurrection; for mourning mingles in Hungary's rejoicings, so
that one may mourn joyously.

"Now you can go pray for the soul of your brother," growled Grazian to
Magdalene, as he closed the window after feeding the bears.

He was tall and broad-shouldered, and limped with the gout; his face was
copper-colored, and his eyes were dark set, with bloated lids, and
eyebrows bushy as his beard; his head was close shaven behind in Turkish
fashion, and he wore a cap night and day, and over his brow hung a
braided lock of hair. The hide of his bull-neck rose above his stiff
collar; his fat chin covered his neckerchief, tied in a knot; he wore
his cloak thrown over his shoulders, and his shirt-sleeves fastened at
the wrist. He cared little for outward appearance. He wanted his clasps
of gold, but it did not matter if the stuff did shine with grease, or
the trimming was moth-eaten. From his broad Turkish girdle no sword
hung, but behind was stuck a battle hammer, and above his boot-tops
appeared a knife-hilt, studded with turquoises. In all his motions,
there was an arrogance that brooked no contradiction, and expressed an
immoderate love of fighting. Whoever met him was in peril, since a mere
glance at his face was enough to give offence,--speaking was entirely
out of the question; what another said, he neither listened to, nor
answered; what he himself said, he said only for himself; if he spoke
directly to any one, it was a command to which it was not customary to
reply, as that provoked a blow from his crooked stick.

"Go, child, go to church," he said to himself, and limped away.

Yet there was one who heard him; his inseparable companion, Master
Mathias; the strong body needed the support of somebody's shoulder, and
the soul too needed a support: it was not so large as the body, but
found room in a very small space, and could not fill this great form.
Master Mathias had to think for his lord, in whose soul no smallest
thought originated, only instinct roused him, and passion swept him
along.

Master Mathias directed the memorial feast. He assembled the guests
appropriate for such an occasion; carousers, buffoons, mendicants, and
travelling scholars, persecuted clergy, beggarly nobility, outlaws, who
carried their house on their back and their bread in the folds of their
cloak, Slavic fiddlers and Polish Jews all together; all that seemed
ready to celebrate the day of mourning in eating and drinking and
outdoing one another in follies. Knife, fork and spoon each guest
brought with him in his boot. Three long tables were spread in the
vaulted halls, with places for two hundred guests. There were tin plates
for the food, wooden pitchers for the beer, tin cups for the wine, and
narrow-throated flasks for the brandy, which was a great delicacy, and
only the masters could drink it. At the end of the carouse went around
the "Bratina," the glass that nobody must set down, and that every one
must drain to the bottom. Then, too, there must be some entertainment
for the revellers; the bagpiper begins it with a gay song to dispel
care; not only piping, but dancing at the same time; then follow two
tall students, barefooted in outgrown clothes, with unkempt, disordered
hair; these begin to sing, at first pious Latin songs of past events,
and of the differences between Heaven and Hell; the guests give them
beer, wine, and mead, and they begin to sing more wantonly, mixing
Slavic and Hungarian with their Latin; the entire company join in; only
the Lord of the Castle mutters to himself, "He would have understood
these songs best of any of them; it was he who taught these fellows."
"He" was the son, whose funeral feast they were now celebrating.

The scholars were almost ready to drop with drinking, when Master
Mathias sent for three Galician Jews, who were shoved into the hall,
bound together by their forelocks, their beards sprinkled with pepper.
Whenever one of them sneezed violently, and so jerked the heads of the
other two, everybody laughed, but the master, whose eyes filled with
tears. "In this too, he was master, he knew how to joke with the Jews;
ah, he was a wit!" So the feast went on; it was already midnight, and
the guests began to sing alone and to tumble against one another; then
they brought in the final cup which each one was to empty at a single
draught. There was great laughter, for its capacity was beyond any of
them. The Lord again murmured to himself; "Ah, worthless set! He could
out-drink them all. Nobody knows how, now."

Then at the drinking of this last cup, all the guests recalled some
incident of the dead, and toasts were given, one as foolish as another.
"All good for nothing. He was the only one who knew how to drink to the
dead. The departed souls must have roared with laughter when they heard
him. Sit down there, you can't come up to him." The sport ended with a
wrestling match. Two or three of the befuddled lords strove together;
the stronger was to throw the other under the table; but there was one
martial youth whom all together could not drive out of his corner. "Oh,
if he were only here; he would master you! He was not afraid of any two!
He could even knock my arm down. How many times I've seen him drive out
the whole company with a loaded cane." When the scuffling became
general, pitchers and plates flew, tables and chairs were overturned,
benches broken, canes whizzed through the air, and men with bruised
heads groaned and swore; then suddenly a door opened, and in came the
procession.

In front, disguised as a woman, came Bajozzo, and behind him a company
in monks' cowls, and priestly garb, and all began to sing the familiar
song of mockery, which scoffs at monks, imitates the litany of the
pilgrim, and ends with a wild dance. That rouses those of the drunken
company who can still stand up to join the pilgrims and follow on,
through the halls and corridors of the castle, and out of doors, that
the people may enjoy the sport. In the great banquet hall remain only
those entirely overcome by drunkenness, or by blows, who lie stretched
out on the floor; one and another tries to solve the problem how a
four-footed beast can stand on two feet, and failing in his experiment,
returns to all four. Only the House-Lord sits quietly in his place,
with his flask of Polish brandy before him; strong as it was, it was
none too strong for him. He gazed fixedly into the glowing wicks of
burned-out candles, and let fall sentences that no one heeded. "How many
jokes he knew! Even when I scolded him, he would make me laugh. I could
not do anything with him, he was so strong. If I tried to beat him, he
beat me.--If I wouldn't give him money, he would catch my Jews on the
street, and take it from them.--He had a great mind!--He might have been
a candidate for the Palatinate--He might have lived to be a hundred
years old--He was only twenty-five--and three, that makes
twenty-eight,--true, but those three don't count--for he has been dead
since then--but why is he dead? because his horse made a mis-step in
battle, otherwise he would have killed the other man--is that
justice?--A fine world this where the four feet of a horse are the
judge--that donkey of a priest says he will turn to dust--my son, dust!
It's a lie.--More likely it'll be gold--to-morrow I'll have his coffin
opened.--There he lies in the vault of a papist church.--What's that?
What did they put him there for? Because he wanted it--he wanted it,
himself.--So he could torment the saints after his death--I wonder if he
does!--I wonder if he goes and hits Saint Anthony in the nose--I wonder
if he gets up in the ghostly hours to hit the bell--What's that!--Is
that the sound of a bell? Who heard it?--Anybody else?--Here, Master
Mathias, where are you? Did you hear anything?" Nobody answered. The
sleeping and drunken snored, the carousers had quartered themselves in
the cellar and begun drinking afresh. In the great banquet hall, only
the House-Lord was still awake, and he thought that he was dreaming.

The little bell in the church tower rang! Grazian sprang out of his
arm-chair--seized his cane--steadying himself against the wall, he made
his way out to the north tower, from which he could get a clear view of
the church. The moon, just ready to set, lighted up the tower windows,
and one could still see the bell swaying back and forth; it had stopped
ringing, but the reverberation still trembled in the air.

"What's that? Who's there?" stammered Grazian, and leaned far out of the
window. "Stop that noise down there, so I can hear." Another instant,
and he could see, too. One of the long Gothic windows of the church
suddenly blazed with light. "See there! What's that!" Against the bright
window stood out the shadows of human figures. They vanished, appeared
again and raised their hands. Grazian gathered all his strength that he
might shout in the fulness of his rage at the ghosts--"Who are you? Away
with you!" He fell, and the next morning was found stretched out before
the open window: it was with difficulty they could bring him back to
life.



CHAPTER VI.

THE PICTURE OF SAINT ANTHONY.


Magdalene knelt in prayer at the tomb of her brother. She too celebrated
the anniversary of this sad day, when the blood of her beloved brother
had been shed, and shed on her account. At one blow, she had lost
brother and betrothed; for the hand that killed her brother could not
lead her to the marriage altar, and yet both brother and betrothed had
loved her. For this twofold love she had exchanged her father's hatred,
for the father saw in his daughter only the murderer of his son. And
what was the maiden's prayer? Both were dead, and prayer could not bring
them back. Her happiness for this world was over, and she had no
suspicion of the hand that had destroyed it.

Deep stillness reigned throughout the church. Any other maiden would
have been afraid to kneel here. The moon shone through the window, and
lighted up the carving on the altar, the figure of the martyr, that
bound to a tree and pierced through with arrows, writhed in his pain;
lighted up, too, the dragon trampled under foot by the victorious
archangel, the heavy candelabra, with their wax candles burned down, and
finally the altar picture itself, with the figure of the Saint, with the
monsters and the seductive woman. The moonlight crept in farther, and
lighted up the marble slab under which her brother rested--a prostrate
figure, with hands folded on the breast. In the tower hooted the owls,
and the death-bird screamed. In the garden outside, the two bears
growled to show that they were still on watch. From the castle hall,
from time to time, sounded the noise of the drunken revellers. Magdalene
would have gladly entered a convent, where her broken heart could have
found most peace, but her father would not listen to it. He wanted to
marry her, but no suitor came; the young nobility shunned the castle,
they pitied the maiden for her sad fate, but they shrunk before the evil
nature of her father. The mourning bride and raging father-in-law alike
repelled them, and the more mournful the maiden, the more raging became
Grazian Likovay. Amid all terrors for the maiden, the most frightful
were these wild banquets. It was from these that she sought refuge in
the darkness of the church. She knew well that such a revel was nothing
but a wild chorus of blasphemy. A hundred throats at once derided
Heaven, the future state, and the departed souls,--and this was the way
in which the dead brother's memory was celebrated. She tried with her
prayers to crowd out the drunken yells on their upward path; while the
revellers wandered to the cellars, and their wild cries sounded on the
air as if they came from the very bowels of the earth. The maiden
trembled as if in fever. The moonlight had left the windows; the church
now lay in darkness: only high up on the tower the moon yet shone on the
lonely bell. She gazed upwards. Suddenly it seemed to her as if the bell
were in motion. Was it an hallucination? Did her dream make visions so
real? The bell rang! Then it tolled as for the welfare of a dying soul.
And yet the bell had no rope, and there was no one to pull it if it had.
In her astonishment new marvels followed. The darkness in the church
began to give way to a twilight; 'twas the twilight that comes in
dreams. The altar picture shone; around the brow of the saint gleamed an
aureole, while the form of the seductive woman grew black. Before this
marvel, the maiden sank trembling on her knees. "O God, my Lord!" she
murmured. The last notes of the bell were dying away, and at the same
moment dropped down with a rolling sound the picture of Saint Anthony
of Padua with all its terrifying adjuncts, and in the space thus left
vacant stood a living figure. Again it was Anthony of Padua in monk's
cowl, barefooted, with tonsured head, a lighted torch in his hand. The
maiden in terror clasped both hands to her breast. Did this vision bring
death for her? Would that it might be so! The living figure stepped down
from the frame of the altar picture, and striding over books and stools
came nearer. With a gentle cry of terror the maiden sprang up, stretched
out both hands in entreaty, and turned away her face. She heard her
name, "Magdalene." Everything swam around her,--she fell in a swoon to
the ground. When she recovered consciousness, she saw those eyes beaming
upon her, whose glow was more wonderful than that of the sun. Perhaps
dreams come in a swoon. Dreams are deceivers; who knows how many worlds
her soul had wandered through in this short dream, how many eternities
she had lived through; she feared the phantom no more. With his name on
her lips she awoke, "Tihamer." To her he was always only "Tihamer."
"Have you come down from Heaven to me?" The young monk shook his head
sadly. He might with assurance have said that he came down from the
realms of the dead, so pallid was his countenance, so cold his hands.
The wax candle that he had brought with him now stood in a candlestick
on the altar and lighted up their faces. The young man spoke in a
subdued and gentle voice. "Be not astounded, I am no marvel, nor ghost,
nor spirit from the other world. I am a living, miserable man. The rumor
of my death was false. It was not my head that the Turks cut off in
prison, but my servant's, who had changed clothes with me."

"And this dress of yours?" whispered Magdalene, touching his rough
monk's cowl.

"This is my mourning garb for you, and for the whole world lost to me.
My name is Father Peter. I belong to the order of Jesuits. No longer
your beloved and betrothed--no longer the hope of your future, nor your
support in misfortune. No longer your defender against men, but only
your mediator between Heaven and earth, Father Peter."

The maiden knelt before him and fervidly kissed his hand.

"Father!"

The youth sighed deeply.

"You could not belong to me, so I give you to the Lord, you could not be
my bride, so you shall be Heaven's bride. I am come to make smooth the
way, to prepare the way whither you long to go."

"To a convent? Then you know! Is it true, you have talked with me in my
dreams?"

"Not in your dreams. I will not deceive you. Sound reason has brought me
to the knowledge that after this staggering blow that has fallen on your
heart, you must long to enter a convent. Your father will not allow it;
he intends to marry you to the Pole Berezowsky."

"I do not know him at all."

"I know him; this bridegroom intended for you is an ugly decrepit old
drunkard, who has already buried six wives, and furthermore is a
Socinian."

"What! deny his God!"

"Denies the Trinity, believes Christ only a good man, and the Holy Ghost
only a white dove; nothing more."

"But you will free me from him, won't you?" entreated the maiden,
clasping the young man's knees.

"With your assent."

"How could you get here? Whence did you come?"

"Truly, I have taken my way through the lower regions to come to you; a
long underground passage, that men worse than the devil planned for the
destruction of mankind, and that is still filled with evidences of their
deeds of terror. It is frightful to wander there. The secret of this
hidden way, I learned from an old yellowed book, which had made ten wise
men fools, and whose secret was finally revealed by a Fool. This book
too was a work of the Devil, but the real Hell and the genuine Devil,
Fate has shown me in another form. The inexorable rules of our order
compel me to serve as instructor and confessor in the house of that
woman, who, in my opinion, is worse than Belial and all his demons. I am
at the castle of the Lady of Madocsany."

The maiden put her hand on her heart and caught her breath.

"This is my Hell and my Devil; day after day to see the woman whom I
have hated since our first acquaintance. Offensive is the woman, however
beautiful she may be, who is ever eager to disclose to a man the
feelings of her heart, which ought to be a secret to divine, a prize to
win, a treasure to guard for their possessor. Still more ought this
woman to have concealed her secret, for every one of her thoughts was
inspired by sin; her husband still lived. How she became a widow was a
burden on her conscience. How she treated me--may she answer for it to
God! Her secrets told in confession rest in my breast under the seal of
the sacrament. I must in God's name absolve her from sins that my human
heart cannot forgive. Day after day must I look upon that face whose
accursed smile destroyed our fortunes. I must lend an ear to her
diabolical words of enticement, which she whispers to me under the
mantle of confession. Is not that worse than Hell?"

The maiden pressed his hand, and said in soothing tones, "You are right;
yours is the greater suffering. I will not complain."

"Your sufferings too are well known to me. This demon entertains me
daily with bad news about you. She knows everything that happens in your
house, and she takes special delight when she can distress me with such
tales. But let us not waste our time in complaining. We must part. I
have a long way to go underground and must arrive while it is still
dark, so no one can mark the entrance by which I go. Answer me one
question. Do you wish to go into a convent?"

"It is my one wish."

"It shall be fulfilled. I must first tell your decision to the Abbess of
a convent, so that when I take you away through the underground passage
to the Madocsany Castle, a nun may be waiting for you there with a
closed carriage. Great prudence and careful preparations are necessary.
We must agree upon the day for meeting here again."

"Next Sunday."

"Well, then, any Sunday after midnight. I cannot get away earlier, for
it is so late before the spoiled child who is entrusted to my care falls
asleep, and the Fool who keeps vigils with me becomes drunk."

"But tell me," asked the maiden, "How could you guess that you would
find me here at this hour? Did vision tell you?"

"Even if I deceive the whole world, I will tell you only the truth. I
have had no visions; neither ecstacy nor second-sight revealed this to
me. I had certainty. To-day is the anniversary of your brother's death,
and to-night it is celebrated in your castle with a carouse. You could
not remain in the house, where every nook and corner was filled with
their disgusting gluttony. Here only, could you find protection--at your
brother's grave, where you could pray through the frightful night. You
must pray, first for the soul of your brother, and then for his
murderer's--the whole litany from beginning to end. Finally, I decided
that if I did not find you here, I would pass through the church door
into the castle. Many buffoons are there now, disguised in monk's cowl,
and it would not have been difficult for me to join them and look for
you."

The young man saw a look of terror on Magdalene's face, and she seized
him by the hand.

"What is the matter?" he asked.

She said nothing; she only thought what if her beloved had been torn to
pieces by the bears in his attempt to pass to the castle. But she would
not say this to him, lest she waken his fears for her, a weak woman; she
must always pass to the church through such perils.

"I was thinking," she said, with a constrained, distressed smile, "what
if you had found the door locked when you tried to go out of the
church?"

"I knew for a fact that the door of the church is never locked. Your
father has given orders that it shall always remain open. Every corner
of this church has its sad history, but none more sad than the history
of the door."

"You know it?"

"I heard it from the tormentor of my soul. It will be better for you not
to know it; you have enough in your misfortune."

"I beg of you, tell me this story. The knowledge that another has
suffered still more gives me consolation. Who was it?"

"Your older sister, Sophie."

"I remember her; she was tall and beautiful, with large dark eyes. How
often I stroked her beautiful rosy cheeks, when she took me in her lap,
for I was still a child. And then I remember when they laid her in her
coffin, I stroked her cheeks again, but they were marble-white and
cold."

"There she rests," said the young man, pointing to the wall, where two
marble tablets were in sight, one large, one small; on one was a large
cross, on the other a small one; then the date. On the smaller tablet
one year more than on the larger, and that was all the inscription.

"Why is there neither name nor inscription?" asked Magdalene, stunned.

"There are two of them, mother and child."

"And why are their names not on the tablets?"

"They had no names."

"I do not understand you."

"You ought not to. It is a sad story. They too loved one another, more
passionately than we. They too suffered, still more than we. They too
were disturbed by your father in their love. Shame was to him preferable
to a son-in-law. His daughter died the day her child was born, and was
buried here; a year later the child followed; and when they brought her
here to bury her beside her mother and opened the church door, your
father stumbled over the body of his daughter; the unhappy girl had
been buried in a trance, had wakened, struggled to the church door,
found it locked, and so perished pitiably at its threshold."

"Frightful!" stammered the maiden, shuddering, and glancing with a look
of terror at the two tablets.

"That is why there are no names inscribed. Since then, Grazian Likovay
never has this church door locked."

"Let us hurry away from here," said the maiden, trembling. "Will you
come here next Sunday about midnight?"

"I will come; but you must hurry away now."

They parted with a pressure of the hand.

Father Peter had to pass through the hiding-place behind the altar
picture, which with all its demons resumed its place. For some time the
face of Saint Anthony was surrounded with a halo of light from the torch
of the departing monk. The small bell in the tower rang again, for it
was connected by hidden clock-work with the secret passage-way.
Formerly, when the castle had been held by the Hussites, this bell rung,
by its secret clock-work, had given warning when any one was approaching
from Madocsany. When the bell stopped ringing, the altar picture was
again in darkness. It was two minutes past midnight; outside the cock
crowed. The maiden, as she went toward the church door, looked timidly
before and behind to see if her sister Sophie were present; outside a
still greater terror waited. One bear lay across the threshold asleep.
She needed only to summon all her courage and climb over him; but the
other was awake, grimly gnawing a bone that he could not crush in his
teeth. "Help me, God," sighed the maiden, and ran past the creature,
throwing her honey-cakes as she went. The wild beasts let her pass
unharmed, but it would have been better for her had they torn her to
pieces, then would she have been a beautiful martyr and saint in
Paradise.



CHAPTER VII.

VENUS AND HER SON.


Idalia was the baptismal name of the Lady of Madocsany; her other name
was Venus. This name is often found in calendars even at the present
day, and was quite customary in this part of the country. With this name
at her baptism, a fatal ban was pronounced upon her. The Lady did not
know that she had inherited not only the beauty of the goddess, but also
her nature too. When she loved, she loved with mad passion, and when she
ceased to love, she hated in the same way, and her hate was deadly.
"Venus armicida." Her passion never cooled. It only changed its flame,
but always burned in one way or another. She had married early the man
of her choice, a handsome hero when he married her, a broken-down old
man when he left her a widow, though the number of years between was
only eight. It was said he had drunk himself to death. Perhaps there was
a magic drink mingled with his wine.

Idalia had so thrown herself into the Olympic life her name justified
that she had her little son baptized Cupid. The poor Slavic priest was
made to believe that this was only the childish name for Cupa, who was
known to be a national saint and martyr. In one house lived Venus and
Cupid. The lady cherished her son with truly animal love; everything was
allowed him. She never let him out of her sight even in her love
adventures. The child could remember several such instances when they
had galloped off three in the saddle,--the knight, the child, and the
mother. Lady Idalia had run away from her husband, but every time had
cajoled her way back. Tihamer Csorbai was the last object of her
passion, and because this remained unanswered, she had been most
furious. She destroyed every hindrance between the two. Blood must flow
to separate Tihamer from his first beloved. Idalia's husband must sink
into his grave that Tihamer might be more closely united to her, and now
the whole plan had been made futile; she had found Tihamer again, but as
Father Peter. The man she had adored was now a permanent guest within
her house, but farther from her than ever before. Not earthly hands, but
heavenly fields, separated them; and how many projects of insurrection
did her heated brain plan against hated Heaven. In the warm, starlit
nights of summer, from the room of the monk below, rang forth the
mournful psalms with which he stormed Heaven. At the same time, the lady
sat in her balcony and struck her harp and sang enticing songs, telling
all the secrets of a passion-torn soul. The song was intended for a
confession of love. Did Father Peter hear? He must have heard them. Is
every feeling in his heart turned to stone that he cannot feel nor
awake?


"Sit down on the edge of my bed, Father Peter," whispered the child,
uneasily tossing about on his sleepless couch "I have something to say
to you. Either the devils or the good spirits brought you here."

"Why do you say that, my child?"

"Before you came, my mother was very fond of me; she always called me,
'my diamond,' 'my ruby,' 'my saint,' 'my little dove,' or 'my little
angel.' When she took me in her lap, she kissed me to the very finger
tips; whatever I asked her for, she gave me at once, or if she did not,
I pulled her hair, and then she would laugh and kiss me again. She never
looked cross at me, but now that you are here, I am of no further value
to her. I am no more her 'diamond' or 'golden treasure;' when she looks
at me, she makes such a face that I have to run away. If I ask my
prettiest for something, she puts out her tongue at me. If I make the
smallest mistake, she whips me with rods and threatens me with the lash.
If I try to kiss her, she spits like a cat. This makes me think that the
devils brought you here."

The monk answered nothing, but stroked the boy's head with his hands,
and the child prattled on.

"But when I stop to think how good you are to me, that you won't let my
mother abuse me, that you make excuses for me when she scolds me, that
you take the lash right out of her hand; when I make a mistake, you
don't tell her anything about it; when she gets angry with me, you
soothe her with gentle words; that you never hurt me, never get angry at
me, always entreat me kindly, and warn me gently; then I think it must
be the good spirits brought you to this house."

The monk took the boy's cold hands in his and warmed them.

"Now, day before yesterday, I begged her so prettily to take me up in
her lap, because my head hurt me very badly, and if she would just kiss
it once the pain would go right away, she scolded me for it. She said my
head pained me because I ate so many unripe peaches and honeycakes, and
she took away the honeycake that you brought me,--would not let me taste
it even, but threw it to the little dog Joli,--how could I help crying?
That made her very angry, and she made a face at me like those she makes
at her maid when she pulls her hair, or at the haiduk when he pours the
sauce over her gown; and when I knelt before her, begging her not to be
angry, she took a large buckle out of her cap and threatened me with it,
and then she hissed at me through her teeth, 'You bastard! Oh, if you
were not in the world!' I was afraid she would murder me. I begged her
to put that cruel thing back into her hair. 'You'd better pray God, or
you'll go the way of the Cseiteburg children. Go, get the Fool to tell
you why the dead weep nights in the Cseiteburg.' So to-night, when I
went to bed, while you were singing psalms in the next room, I begged
the Fool to tell me the story of the Cseiteburg children, until he
finally consented, and told me."

The child still trembled under the impression of the story, and his
teeth chattered.

"Now come close to me, so that nobody can hear. I don't dare say it out
loud. Now then! Once upon a time, there lived in the Cseiteburg a
beautiful lady, a widow who had two little children just my age, twins
that came into the world together, and always played together. The
beautiful lady fell in love with a handsome knight who came often to the
castle, and whom she wished to marry. Once the knight said to her, he
would like to marry her if there were not 'four eyes in the way.' The
beautiful woman thought he must mean the four eyes of her two children,
and that he would not marry her because there were these two children of
her first marriage. So she called Mistress Dorko, the old nurse of the
children, and said to her 'Take these two pins,' and with that she drew
two long gold pins out of her cap, 'and go lead the children out to play
in the forest; when they have played enough, and grow weary, put them to
sleep in your lap and thrust these long pins through their temples. The
handsome knight shall not say that there are "four eyes in the way" of
our love.' The bad old Dorko did as her lady commanded. She took the two
little boys out into the wood to play, waited until they had grown
tired, then took them in her lap and told them about the fairy Helen
until they fell asleep: then she drew out both the big pins and stuck
one of them through the head of one of the boys. The other boy woke at
his cry, and when he saw what old Dorko had done to his brother, he
began to cry and beg her not to stick the pin through him. He promised
her a cloak with buckles, horses, carriage, and a piece of land, if she
would spare him. He promised her the whole of Cseiteburg, as soon as he
inherited it. But the wicked nurse could not be moved by his tears and
prayers, she pierced the second one through with the big gold pin, and
then she left them in the depths of the forest, covered with dry leaves;
the cuckoos sounded their funeral knell, and the nightingale sang their
death dirge. The same day came the handsome knight to the beautiful lady
in the castle. And the beautiful lady said to him, full of joy, '"The
four eyes" are no longer in our way, the two children lie out there
covered with leaves, the cuckoo has tolled them to the grave, the
nightingales have sung for them. Now you can make me your wife.' The
handsome knight was beside himself at these words. 'Alas, beautiful
lady, beautiful widow! I did not mean "the four eyes" of the children,
but our own four eyes were in the way of our love.' And thereupon he
fled out of the castle, and never came back again. Since then, the
ghosts weep all night long at Cseiteburg. This is true, isn't it, Father
Peter?"

"A foolish story, sprung from a Fool's brain. Don't believe it, my
little one."

"But I do believe it, for I've seen the beautiful lady myself. Her eyes
rolled so wildly, she drew her lips together, she gnashed her teeth, and
her hair streamed down her back, and as her cap fell back, she seized
the pin in her hand--and I almost felt its point in my temples!"

"Don't think of it any more. Don't give way to your fancies."

The child seized the monk's hand in both of his:

"You won't leave me, will you? You won't let anything happen?"

"Don't be afraid, my son; I will stay with you always, no one shall do
you any harm. I will take care of you, and protect you."

"But why do you not love her, then? My two eyes are not in your way. How
often have we fled from this house together on horseback, my mother and
I with a knight; she never would let me go from her side. And then when
we came back in a carriage, she fairly wore me out with her kisses,
called me her sweet child, and when we came back to my father, she would
hold me out, and I must beg him in his anger not to draw his sword
against her. I caressed his cheeks, that he might be cajoled into
forgiving. I never failed her, and why is she angry with me? Why?
Because you do not love her. Do love her. Throw off your monk's cowl.
Marry my mother. Be my real father. Do as she demands. Love her! Love
her! Then will she be as sweet as honey, and as beautiful as a fairy.
But when she does not love, she is as bitter as gall and as hateful as a
witch."

Father Peter quieted the child in his wild imaginations, until he fell
asleep again.

The sound of a harp and passionate songs of love floated through the
night air. Father Peter left the child's room with agitated feelings,
and hurried along the corridors to the balcony where Idalia confided her
heart's sorrow to the forest and the stars. The sound of his step
aroused the lady from her dreams. She looked at him in surprise as he
approached. Father Peter took her by the hand, and drew her into the
room. Idalia's heart began to beat violently. She thought that the hand
which he now laid on her shoulder would draw her to his breast, until
now ice, now melted by the volcanic glow of her love.

"Kneel down," said the priest, "Confess your sin at once."

"What sin? You know all," murmured the woman, while she sank down under
the iron pressure of his hand.

"Your past that as yet has no name--what you carry about in your
heart--that monster must be stifled while it still exists only as a
thought. What is this thought of yours?"

The woman was silent for a time, meditating contradiction and crafty
evasion, but at length she yielded and said in a whisper, "I intended to
kill my child."

"Cursed be the heart in which such a thought could arise."

"If my heart is the mother of this monster, yours is the father; such
devils result when fire and frost come together."

"Are you mindful of God and the future life?"

"Don't speak to me of God or of the future life! When I go there, and
see God face to face, I shall say: I am the one--I did it! Hadst Thou
given me cold blood, I might have been a frog, but thou gavest me warm
blood, and I became a human being. Hadst Thou created me man, I might
have been a Cain; Thou hast made me a woman, and I have become an Eve.
In this way didst Thou fashion my woman's heart; it was Thou that didst
create my passions, that didst make my eye a magnet, that didst give my
lips their charm; it is Thou that dost send thoughts to the wakeful, and
dreams to the sleeping; and now wilt Thou condemn Thy own creation
unheard? If Thou art my Creator, Thou didst create me thus; if Thou art
all-knowing, Thou knewest this before."

"Woman, blaspheme not God!"

"Is then truth blasphemy of God? What is my crime,--that I love you?
What then are you in the sight of God, that you are surrounded by such
enkindling darts? Are you His archangel--His cherub? Turn not away from
me; I am not going to reproach you--not you, nor the saints, nor God. It
was not Satan taught me all this. I have read the great book that you
call Holy Scriptures through from beginning to end. I have tried to find
a place in it which counts the love of woman as a sin, but I have found
none such. It was only a human being who could hit upon the unnatural
thought that there were human beings who could not love. Let the cowl
cover the man who could impose such a covering--whose heart dared not
beat under it. Is not such an act a sin against God? Is not this the
murder of a human being--this slow killing of one in the likeness of
God? Does the poisoner do anything worse when he gives his victims the
means of passing away slowly? Have not other men discovered the antidote
for it? You do not know this perhaps. See! As easy as it is to put on
this sable cowl, this shroud for a living body, just so easy is it to
strip it off. Do not flee! Stay here--listen to me. I might have a sin
to confess. I promise you I will not kill, but I will call back into
life a dead man, and that is indeed a sin heavy enough. You are this
dead man. I have mourned you hundreds of times. Allow me to call you
forth from your cold tomb by my tears. Listen to me. We will go from
here right to Transylvania, where the Hungarian belief flourishes. We
will go out to the Protestant church. Many are doing it already, you
know. A third of the land is Protestant; I am sure they cannot all go to
Hell. Nobody can persecute us there. See! I have two iron chests full of
treasure; there we can live like lords in luxury and splendor, such as
you were accustomed to before you gave over your lands to the Jesuits.
We'll snap our fingers at the world. Or, if it pleases you better to be
poor and God-fearing, I am willing. I will go with you to the poorest
village, where there is a tower with a weather-vane; there you shall
become a Calvinist preacher, a rector, or a Levite; I will be your
faithful wife; will wash and weave, spin flax, and endure misery; I will
become God-fearing, my lips shall forget to scold and curse, and shall
learn to sing psalms. If I should become quarrelsome, you may beat me,
shut me up, and make me fast, and I will be always faithful to you;
only throw aside this cloak of death."

The temptation was strong. When passion and sorrow blend together in one
flame, then perhaps the heart of a dead man may withstand. But the youth
was protected by his talisman--that other face on the other side of the
Waag. The monk's cowl alone would not have protected his heart against
these darts; his ascetic vows, the sacred oil, would have been a weak
safeguard against the charm of this Circe. But the loving, suffering
face of the maid of Mitosin stood between them like Heaven. The sunbeam
smites in vain on the summit of the Alps, for this is already in Heaven,
and Heaven is cold. Tihamer had left his heart before the altar in
Mitosin,--it was not to be found.

"Return, poor sinner," he said with the gentleness of a confessor, "God
will pardon your rebellious thoughts, and will set you free from this
evil spirit that has possessed you. Learn to pray."

"I will not learn to pray!" cried the woman excitedly. "When you read
the liturgy at mass, I always say to myself: It is not true! It is not
true! It is not true! When you sing the hymn of praise to the Holy
Mother, I murmur to myself, Love me, and not the Virgin Mother; You are
my life! you are my death! you are my devil! you are my idol! if you
wish to make me blessed, make me blessed here below, and in the future I
will be condemned in your stead."

"Then let your condemnation begin here below," said Father Peter,
aroused from his monastic calm. "For if it is true that you can love a
man to the extent of despising the whole world and renouncing the
blessedness of Heaven, then indeed will it be the torments of Hell for
you to see the man you love passing daily before you like the vision of
one dead, like a ghost in the clear daylight, like a phantom in a living
body--to see him, and to say to yourself, 'You put to death this man,
you threw this shroud over him, you closed the grave upon him, and
neither violence nor prayer nor the magic of Hell can wake him up
again!' It was you who killed me. I am your victim. I am the ghost that
pursues you. I am your judgment from God!"

Idalia shuddered convulsively as she lay on the ground, and bit her bare
arms.

"When I was sent here to you," continued Father Peter, "I begged the
Prior to send me into the desert of Arabia among the wild Druses rather
than to your house: he left me only one choice, I might go as servant of
the Holy Inquisition in Spain, or come here. I made my choice. I
preferred to endure torture rather than to torture others. But believe
me, he who endures the touch of hot oil does not suffer such torment as
I do when your hot breath touches me; and the Spanish boot does not so
crush the bones of the victim, as my heart is crushed under your
accursed passion; and yet I came here although I knew that you would
pursue me with this frightful love of yours: and I shall stay here,
although I know that you will very soon torture me to death with your
still more frightful hatred. Your house is my torture-chamber--I am here
to suffer to the end."

Idalia fell lifeless upon the cold marble.

"May God pardon you," whispered the youth, "I pardon you. May you be
able to pardon yourself."

With that he raised her up from the floor, held her firmly with his
strong hands by the shoulder, and so compelled her to remain seated and
look him in the eye.

"Finally, rest assured that I will accomplish what I was sent here for;
your son will I guard, protect, and train to good. Let no one venture to
do him any harm. The Fool I shall drive from his side, and shall no
longer suffer him to poison the child's dreams with his frightful tales.
You have cast him off. I will adopt him; and from this time he shall be
my son, and shall never again come near you. I am prepared to have you
deal with his spiritual father as you did with his father in the flesh."

With these words, he let go his grasp and withdrew. Idalia stood for
some time like a living statue in her white gown, while her flowing hair
enveloped her bare arms. Then she shuddered and dragged herself to the
wall, like a wild beast fatally shot; there she found a support on which
she laid her head--it was cold marble, the base of the statue of her
dead husband. The cold stone cooled her, perhaps,--the fever that
throbbed in her temples.

Father Peter went back to his lonely quarters, and found the child still
resting quietly as he had left him. The child was sleeping sweetly and
smiling in his dreams.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE BISHOP'S WEDDING.


In those days, it happened in Hungary that a Bishop married: it was such
an extraordinary thing since the introduction of celibacy, that we look
in vain in all chronicles for its parallel. Emerich Thurzo, Bishop of
Neutra, was the one to whom this marvel happened. The story is
perpetuated on parchment, in marble, and in the memory of man. In the
Hungarian highlands, throughout the length of the Waag valley, the story
is still told. Emerich Thurzo was the last scion of a famous old race
who had given the country many generals and palatines. The family
estates were equal to a small kingdom. With the Bishop, the mighty
family might have died out, but this was regarded such a calamity that
the Pope came to the rescue and issued a bull in due form; not a simple
brief under the fisherman's ring, the customary seal for a brief, but a
document with the seal hanging which shows the crest of the papacy, for
this was an act of indulgence; this seal, moreover, was attached by a
red and gold silken cord. By virtue of this bull, Bishop Thurzo was
freed from the duty of celibacy; he was permitted to marry and to become
Lutheran in his relations to his wife, while he held all his Catholic
offices and benefices. Chronicle and tradition record that the Bishop
made royal use of this dispensation; through a whole year continued the
festivities of his marriage with the beautiful Christina Nyary. One can
still see the great hall at Bittse which the Bishop had built for the
celebration of his marriage. The castle is still uninjured; the main
entrance adorned with armorial bearings in bas-relief, and the
colonnades running round the building, decorated with representations of
all the known heroes, in giant proportions. The hall for the wedding
ceremony, in its length and breadth, hardly fell short of the
proportions of a modern ball-room: midway on one side is still to be
seen the entrance which led to the sleeping apartments, a stately
portal, with four slender Corinthian columns; on these columns was a
profusion of Eastern ornament, fruits, green foliage, grapes, richly
gilded, and resplendent in many-colored enamel. The front of the portal
shows the family escutcheons in gold letters, and between the two is a
Latin proverb for the encouragement of lovers, "Amandum juxta regulans."
Through the heavy brocade hangings of the brilliant entrance, the
guests saw the fortunate Bishop vanish with his fortunate bride, while
they remained to drink to the health of the two with noisy revelry. So
it went on, until one fine day, the fortunate father brought his
new-born son in his arms to show him to the guests about the table. He
had kept his guests with him from the marriage day to the day of
baptism. There was a lord for you! That was a prelate! Through a whole
year the festivities lasted. How did it happen that the people did not
weary of them? Why, the groups of guests changed constantly. No
well-ordered prosperous man can leave his house and home for a whole
year, so there was a series of guests following each other in unbroken
succession. In those days, when one went to a wedding, he took his
entire household; for how could he leave his children behind? Lackeys
and haiduks, equerries, coachmen and footmen, Court fool, nurse, and
governess, priest and scribe, all came with their master, and before all
went a heavy wagon with the baggage of the women. And there were as many
kinds of musicians as there were guests. The Polish lords brought their
famous trumpeters; those from Transylvania brought their gypsies; the
Moravians their fiddlers; and the Nyians their bagpipers.

One band relieved another at banquet and dance; meantime the young
people who became weary of the pleasures of the table first, withdrew to
one end of the long hall for the "torch-dance," or the "cushion-dance,"
while still the servants at the other end continued to carry in the
succession of dishes to the feast; if you wish to count the courses
there is still the portly kitchen record. Here rang out the joyous
conversation, interspersed with the Latin epithalamium of some impromptu
poet, or the fescennine verses of a German minnesinger. At one side, the
married women had their pleasure; young mothers whose children became
restless withdrew here to quiet them; another table in an alcove at the
side was opened for the young girls who feasted here in the presence of
their holy director, and through the noise and tumult of the men, their
joyous girlish voices rang out in Vivas to the noble lord and lady who
sat at the head of the main table. In the shadow of a vaulted recess,
the monks and lay brothers were assembled, who had crowded from all
foreign parts at the report that a bishop in Hungary was celebrating his
marriage. Every kind of priest was here; Capuchins, Jesuits, Paulists,
Carmelites, White Canons, and the tonsured Franciscans, with wooden
sandals on their bare feet. All sat together and drank "in honorem
domini et dominæ." They were the most steadfast guests in respect to the
hours and days. The only change in their company was that it constantly
increased. Besides these, there was one other guest who remained from
the very beginning of this long marriage feast, together with his whole
family, and this was Grazian, Lord of Mitosin Castle. He had brought his
beautiful daughter with him. The ladies whispered at one side that Lord
Grazian stayed so long in the hope of forming an alliance between the
beautiful Magdalene and some young lord. "Oh, no indeed!" said others,
"there is no care for her. She has already a valiant bridegroom, the
Pole, Lord Berezowski." At this there was a great outburst of laughter.
"If the dear Lord had not made Adam better looking than he is, Mother
Eve would never have picked that much-talked-of apple from the tree."

The old fool showed no hesitancy about thrusting himself into the circle
of young dancers, and shunning the table of drinkers; and yet he longed
for a drink; but his mouth watered still more for a kiss from the
beautiful Magdalene, and this he might so easily have, if it would only
occur to her to invite him to the cushion-dance. But for this he might
wait until the day of judgment.

This is the way they danced the cushion-dance, as our elders will
recollect. A small silken cushion was put in the hand of the handsomest
stateliest dancer, who laid it in the centre of the circle on the floor,
and danced around it to the music, at first alone; then he took up the
cushion and laid it at the feet of a lady whom he had chosen according
to his fancy, knelt down on it and remained a suppliant until she
released him with a kiss: then the two danced hand in hand around the
cushion: and then it was the lady's turn to lay it before a dancer in
the circle and kneel down waiting for a kiss. And through the whole
evening the fairy chain of sweet kisses was woven on and on. The old
Berezowski thrust his wine-befuddled face into the circle and waited,
hoping that he might please some one; but not one of the worthy widows
wished him for a partner; and so long as no lady invited him to dance,
he had no right to lay the cushion down before his fair white betrothed,
and to imprint a red mark on that snowy countenance with his bristly
face. It was as if the whole company had taken an oath that no one
should offer him the cushion, and the ladies laughed heartily evening
after evening to see Lord Grazian with his gouty foot, and Lord
Berezowski with his squinting eyes, unwearyingly watch the
cushion-dance. But in reality, both were keeping watch of something
quite different.

The beautiful Idalia seemed entirely changed since that severe lesson.
She acted as any one would who was entirely broken-hearted and resigned.
One hardly recognized her. She was gentle and condescending to every
one; and the mistakes of her household were hardly noted, while formerly
her eye was wont to spy out everything and rebuke it at once with voice
and hand. She went every day to mass, sat quietly under the great carved
canopy of the family pew and performed her devotions. What it all meant
nobody knew, except, perhaps, Father Peter. Then, too, the condition of
the Jesuit monastery had been recently much improved; one gift followed
another. One Sunday, the castle lady surprised the Father with a
magnificent altar covering, and it was reported that she had embroidered
it with her own hands. The young nobleman, Cupid, had also become a new
creature under Father Peter's hands. One could hear him studying out of
his books in a clear tone of voice, instead of singing wanton songs. He
no longer wandered through the village with dozens of dogs, setting them
on the poor people; but went about hand in hand with his instructor in
the best behaved way, and replied to the "Praised be Jesus Christ" of
the people, with a pious "Forever and ever, Amen." He spent his
pocket-money on the poor, and Sunday mornings served as acolyte without
his old trick of mixing sulphur in the incense; instead of abusive
words, he now uttered Latin sentences, and kissed the hands of elderly
people in a most mannerly way; and all this was Father Peter's work. It
was set down to his credit by the directors of the convent, and
information was even sent to the Provincial Father, of the wonderfully
blessed activity of this newly created father.

The Lady Idalia had for some time ceased to storm her lost idol with her
passion, and had entrusted her little son entirely to his care. Mother
and son saw each other now only at table. This unaccountable change had
occurred at the same time of the Bishop's feast. The entire noble family
of Mitosin had gone to Bittse and remained. Father Peter had from that
time no further occasion to seek the subterranean passage; night and day
nothing took him from his pupil, who since his tutor had withdrawn the
fools and had accustomed him to an orderly way of living instead of his
former extravagances, now enjoyed regular sleep such as children are
wont to have, who, when they waken, find their heads in the very place
where they laid them down, and who sleep with a laugh on their lips.

Father Peter was somewhat troubled in conscience at the great care that
he was devoting to his pupil, since he knew that at the bottom there was
a certain selfishness, as it was very agreeable to him not to have
Hirsko, the Fool, sleep any more in the boy's room. Hirsko kept long
vigils; he never closed an eye until he could see the bottom of his
pitcher. Now, Father Peter did not have to wait for that; Sunday nights
belonged entirely to him. As soon as he had quieted Cupid, he could
hurry to the entrance of the vaulted passage, and there stay for a long
time beside his inconsolable beloved, who was at once his bride and his
widow. These charming meetings by night, Likovay's journey to Thurzo's
wedding had brought to an end. The departure had occurred so
unexpectedly that there was no time for the two lovers to agree what
should be done. By carrier pigeons, they had communicated with each
other briefly, but since the departure, there had been no messages by
the pigeons from Mitosin. It was only through the talkative Fool that
Father Peter learned whither the family had gone,--to the wedding of the
Bishop! It was said that this would last a whole year long, and would
occasion so many other weddings that the carnival might be prolonged
until the vintage.

So many marriageable young women were among the guests, it was very
probable they would all leave as brides; for even the melancholy
Magdalene a suitor waited there--the rich Berezowski. Father Peter
sighed deeply--if he could only see her, just once more! How dared a
monk sigh for such a forbidden pleasure! Even then the punishment was
hurrying toward him. While his heart unceasingly throbbed at the thought
that he might even yet be permitted to behold the countenance of his
beloved, gently radiant as the moonlight itself, quite unexpectedly this
command came from his lady, which conformed to his wishes, yet he could
find little pleasure in it. One day,--the Thurzo wedding feast had then
lasted two months,--Idalia said to him, "Father Peter, all the world
have paid their respects at Bittse, at the wedding of the Bishop; we
alone have not. The Bishop is related to me on my mother's side, and
furthermore he is my godfather. He may be annoyed at us with good reason
for not showing ourselves there; now I have in my jewel casket a string
of real pearls that will be very becoming to the throat of the young
lady: let us take them to her as a bridal present and stay at the
castle until we are driven away. You shall go with the boy; it will be
well for him to see a little of such splendor and magnificence as he
never shall behold again." And so that fell to Father Peter's lot for
which he had sighed so longingly. But he could not take pleasure in the
news: it filled him, on the contrary, with horror. At Emerich Thurzo's
wedding, he must meet again that world which he had put behind him, and
in which only a few years ago he had been so intimate--so much at home.
It is true, the countless sufferings he had endured since then might
have changed his looks somewhat; and then, too, there was the long beard
that he had not worn as knight, and if he drew the hood of his cowl
down, half his face was covered. Besides, who would pay any attention to
a holy monk, who draws into a corner, and is in nobody's way? The fine
ladies who had known him formerly would gather away their trains lest
they should touch his cowl; but there would be one there who knew him,
at all events. Alas, if by any traitorous change of countenance
Magdalene should betray her recognition! Their eyes must not meet.

However, there was no escape. Father Peter must accompany his lady to
Bittse--to the famous wedding-feast. She, too, took her whole household
with her. She had to drag about her household as she did her gowns and
jewels; her only son, of course, must not leave her side, for that is
the richest jewel of a Hungarian woman. The other ladies took their
children with them, and she received the greatest glory whose son could
best recite his good wishes to the bride, which he had learned from the
court master.

The wedding guests arrived safely at Bittse. At that time, such a
journey lasted fully six days in the stern cold, and in the short winter
days of fog. When the guests from Madocsany arrived at the Castle of
Bittse, it was already late in the evening. The first night was given to
rest, after the hardships of the journey. The next day, the Lady Idalia,
with her son and Father Peter, paid their respects to the noble couple.
Emerich Thurzo had an astounding memory; as soon as he heard Father
Peter's name, he at once expressed his surprise that he did not
recollect that he had as bishop confirmed a monk of that name, and, of
course, Madocsany belonged to his diocese. Father Peter replied that he
had received his confirmation from the Provincial of his order; in this
way, he drew down upon himself the high displeasure of the Hungarian
magnate, the Bishop. The Provincials of the Jesuit order assumed many
privileges of the Prelates, and even some papal prerogatives. From that
moment, Father Peter in the Castle of Bittse was a marked man. However,
this was agreeable to him, for no one molested him with offerings of
friendly attentions. He could even sit at the table without any exchange
of good wishes, for the Jesuit brotherhood was looked at askance by the
other orders. Only one human being stood by him--the young Cupid. He
never left him. However wild and boisterous he had been in the days when
his mother spoiled him, he had now become equally shy and timid; ever
since those visions of terror which the threats of his mother and the
stories of the Fool had brought upon his mind. And yet what an
ungovernable child he had been only a year ago! When he and his mother
stayed at an entertainment, the dissolute lords used to teach him all
kinds of knavish verses and songs, and then when the ladies joined them,
some one would say, "Now, little Cupid, say a little verse, or sing a
pretty song." And the little fellow would hardly wait to be asked, but
spring up on the table and recite what he had learned; and the ladies
would blush to the very roots of their hair; some would laugh, but the
more prudish would go away. And then the Lady Idalia would take the
little rascal in her lap and reward him with kisses. But now all this
was over. Since Father Peter had become his tutor, the little Cupid
knew no more wanton songs. On the contrary, he had become so shy that no
promises or threats would make him recite the little rhyme of greeting
that he used to say at home. The Lady Idalia comforted herself with the
thought that in the course of time there would yet be opportunity. There
were many children of his age among the guests of the castle, and as
soon as he became acquainted with them he would regain his former
liveliness and courage. But he did not play with the other children.
When he met a boy of his own age, he would ask him, "Does your mother
threaten to kill you?" He would have absolutely nothing to do with the
little girls. The year before, he had played wildly with them and called
each one his little wife. But now when one of them he used to know
offered him candy, he said, "Is there any poison in it?"

The Lady Idalia was the gayest of the gay. Her widow's veil had been
long since cast aside, and there was nothing to prevent her joining in
the dance. Nobody was bored in her company. She knew how to shape her
conversation, and often made Thurzo himself laugh at her telling hits.
Evenings, when she entered the drawing room in magnificent attire, at
once she had her court of knights about her, among whom more than one
whose hair was already turning gray, would not have been sorry to join
his widowed state to hers. But one group of guests always conspicuously
drew aside when the Lady Idalia appeared--these were the Mitosins. If
Idalia took her place at the table where Lord Grazian was sitting, he
would whisper to his daughter, and she would rise and go elsewhere;
after a time, Lord Grazian would follow; soon the Pole; and then the
entire retinue. But Idalia never ceased trying to annoy them. Her high
spirits never rose higher than when she looked into the angry eyes of
Lord Grazian, or when she coquettishly tormented the aged suitor until
his face became as red as a boiled crab.

One evening, the flower of the company turned to the dance, and the
gypsies of Transylvania were playing. Thurzo and his wife were still
present, and took pleasure in the enjoyment of their guests. The sound
of revelry grew louder and louder. The men sang drinking songs, the
ladies chattered, and the monks in their corner sang an edifying hymn.
The old Berezowski as usual was on the outer edge of the circle of
dancers; in the mazurka and the torch-dance, where it was only necessary
to stamp and shout, he had his part; but in the cushion dance, where the
kisses came, he failed as usual. And yet he could have devoured the
beautiful Magdalene with his eyes. Two pair of eyes were watching him;
one from the table of the monks, where sat a young priest, with downcast
head supported on his hands; from beneath his cowl low drawn, his eyes
looked out eagerly into this world of pleasure. On his lap lay the head
of a sleeping child, on the table before him stood a large mug, from
which he sipped now and then, more to moisten his parched lips and
throat than to cloud his mind. The other pair of eyes belonged to the
Lady Idalia. Even when she was whirling in the dance, she never let
Berezowski out of her sight; she followed the longing looks that he cast
at Magdalene; she cast glances at Father Peter, half-concealed in his
corner; and Lord Grazian, who was ready to burst with rage, caught the
scornful lightning of her glance. She knew how to read the hearts of all
four, and it was her diabolical pleasure to drop into the hearts of all
four her various poisons, one kind for one, and another for another;
here, frenzy, there deadly fear, and still again, rage and jealousy. To
one, contempt; to another, despair; to a third, shame and disgrace; and
to a fourth, unquenchable, diabolical fire.

Father Peter held his hand screening his eyes as he watched the handsome
youths leading the ladies of their heart to the dance. In many dances a
kiss is the forfeit. Who has any suspicious thoughts of the innocent
kiss of a maiden? In those times, certainly, it was merely a joke in all
honor. He was not jealous of any one of the stately crowd of young
knights, but the blood boiled in his veins when he saw how the old rake,
destined to be her bridegroom, watched the slender figure floating past
him, light as a gentle dream. Gentle though she was, yet she knew how to
evade his embraces. If he were only her partner, what a blow he would
give that eager old sinner! The young fop took no care whatever of his
lady. And what miserable dancers they are too! When he led the dance it
was quite different--he would like to show them, if it were not for the
cowl.

Thus far he had been so fortunate in avoiding the throng of guests that
he had not once met Magdalene. Even if he had come directly in her path,
she might not have recognized him, for she rarely raised her eyes unless
addressed.

The cushion dance came next. To a monotonous melody, the silken cushion
passed from hand to hand accompanied by an exchange of kisses. The
cushion came at last into Idalia's hands. She must have been awaiting it
for some time for the young dancers were in the habit of gaining a kiss
from their heart's desire. She had to wait until it was the turn of a
young man, still free, who saw in her only a beautiful woman. Idalia
paid the forfeit to the man at her feet; and now it was the order of the
dance that she should come into the middle of the circle and dance alone
while she passed in review, the dancers circling about her, until she
made her choice. Idalia laughed silently to herself; she cast a glance
full of bewitching coquetry at Berezowski, then swaying gracefully in
the dance, she glided towards him and laid the cushion at his feet, then
the circle broke up, and the chosen man was left alone. Berezowski
reddened to the ears for joy; his eyes beamed, but they did not seek the
beautiful face of the woman who knelt before him, but the pallid face of
his betrothed, who stood opposite; in anticipation of the two kisses, he
parted his whiskers carefully. The first kiss would only set him free,
it was the second which would seal a bond. Magdalene understood the
glance, and her face crimsoned to her very hair. Father Peter clenched
the silver cup in his hand until the wine spilled on the table. "Quid
habes?" called out his brother priest at the table. But just as
Berezowski bent over to kiss Idalia, Grazian Likovay sprang between the
two and rudely dragged the Pole back. "Hold," he cried, "my future
son-in-law shall not kiss this woman here." Idalia sprang passionately
to her feet and pressed her two hands to her head. "That you----! I am
as much of a lady as you are a gentleman."

"Without doubt," he replied, "you are a widow who has killed your
husband, and now has taken into your house your paramour, disguised as a
monk. There he sits, holding the boy in his lap to accustom him to his
fatherhood. Or is it not true that the Jesuit there is your lover?" and
with that he sprang to the table of the monks and dragged Father Peter's
cowl from his head. "Now, then, who is this priest? Is it not Tihamer
Csorbai? The lover of this beautiful woman, and in a monk's cowl?"

The whole hall rang with loud laughter and outcries. Everybody
recognized at once Tihamer Csorbai, who had vanished and been generally
reported dead. He was anything but dead. He had simply entered the
service of a beautiful woman. Father Peter stood in the midst of this
crowd of screaming guests; with his right hand he seized the bench on
which he leaned. If rage overpowers here is a death blow and a broken
skull.

"Peter," rang out the powerful voice of Emerich the Bishop, "are you a
monk or a knight?"

The youth's arm sank, he bowed his head. "I am a monk."

"Then withdraw. Woe unto those who excite strife!"

The rest of the monks considered that the command had been given.
Unfastening the cords about their waists, they began to scourge the
despised guest from the hall, with scorn and curses in a confusion of
Greek and Latin. Father Peter took no thought except that the boy should
receive none of the blows; he wrapped him in his cowl and hurried away
from the company. He did not give himself time to see what happened
later. He did not see how the pale face of Magdalene tried to rush to
him. Why? Perhaps to shield him, and perhaps to share his shame. But her
father seized her rudely and dragged her back to the arms of
Berezowski,--"There is your place."

The beautiful fury, with teeth shining, advanced to Grazian; her red
hair broke loose from her cap, on which the jewelled pins shook with her
tremor of rage. "Well, Grazian Likovay, you shall pay me for this night!
Once already have I aimed my dagger at your heart, and this time be sure
it shall be to your death!" And with that, she dashed out of the hall,
pushing everything aside that did not give way before her. As she passed
by Thurzo and his wife, she said defiantly. "My best thanks to my lord
and his lady for their hospitality. You are not one hair better than
others." And she snapped her fingers contemptuously, and went on her
way. That same night, though late, she left the Castle of Bittse with
her entire retinue. She travelled by torch-light through the fierce
winter night resounding with the cries of hungry wolves.



CHAPTER IX.

THE TEMPTATION.


The carriages, set on runners, were too heavy to go rapidly over the bad
mountain roads. At the first station, the caravan was overtaken by a
sledge in pursuit; this did not stop at their carriages, but passed them
by. In the sledge sat Grazian, and the figure enveloped in furs beside
him was of course his daughter. Idalia looked out of the windows of her
carriage: "Good morning, lovely lady," called out Lord Grazian, in an
excess of spirits, "I will go ahead as quartermaster." His meaning was
too clear. Idalia's travelling party was large, and could only make four
or five German miles a day, so that Grazian going in advance "as
quartermaster" would take for himself the accommodations in the large
castles, which she was counting on for herself and her retinue. An open
hospitality still prevailed in that country, and travellers found in
every castle an open gate, good beds, and abundant table, with a cordial
welcome from the master of the house. But the accommodations in the
villages were quite different. The servants with their horses were
provided with straw, and the family themselves were cramped into a low,
small room, with floor of earth, and lighted by a miserable candle,
while their fare was coarse bread and cheese. The little sledge going
ahead closed every castle against Idalia and her party, by spreading the
news of this great scandal that had fallen upon the widow. On the way
back, Idalia could not stay with any of her acquaintances. She must stay
outside, bag and baggage in her carriage at the end of the village, or
must pass her night in the forest, in the small hut of some cheese
dealer. Through the long winter night, this noble lady must lie on the
straw, wrapped in her travelling cloak, with the priest and the sleeping
child. There they were like two comrades who fall asleep quarrelling,
and wake up quarrelling.

"In spite of your shame, _you_ can sleep? They said to your face that as
a priest you were a fraud, as a knight you were a failure; neither
priest nor knight. How they disgraced us in the presence of so many
people! Like a hunchback, they threw it in my face that you were my
lover, and you stood there like a pillar of salt and did not say that it
was true or untrue. I looked at you just to see what you would do;
whether you would take counsel of your heart. You looked about you; the
dancers' swords were together in a corner; perhaps you would seize me,
cast your cowl from you and say, 'It is true, I am Tihamer Csorbai, and
that woman there is my wife, and he who dares come between us is a dead
man.' You did not do so. On the contrary, you gazed toward Heaven. I
waited patiently to see if you would say, 'I am Father Peter, I am a
priest, and on my priestly oath I say she is free from my love,--if she
were as free from other sins, she might be counted among the saints.'
But this too you did not do. You dropped your head when the Bishop
called out at you. And you submitted when the other monks struck at you
with their scourges. Oh, how detestable you were! If you really had been
my lover, I would have spit at you--in your face--yes, right in your
face! Behind your back, they said that you were not worthy of the name
of priest, that you were no priest and never had been one, and even if
you had, they would have driven you out; you were a timid, cowardly
soldier who endured the scourge because he feared the sword. What will
you do now? Will you creep behind the cross that Christ Himself may
drive you away? Will you let them beat this monk's cowl of yours from
town to town? Do your vows require you to bring your priesthood into
disgrace, and become a stone of offence at sight of which every one
stands aside, even if they are in the height of the dance; and at sight
of whom the common people will flee from the church when they see you at
the altar?"

And then again:

"Can you sleep? Why not? It is an easy thing for a man to choke down
disgrace. But I am a woman, and I am lying on scorpions. In the presence
of the noblest of the land you made me an object of scorn to the whole
world. There will be the report of it everywhere. The beggar-student
will sing my story from window to window. Peddlers will carry from
village to village the story of Father Peter and the Lady of Madocsany,
and hawk it about for two denarii, pictures thrown in. What a disgrace!
You can hide yourself away under your cowl, that is a good place for
you! But where shall I hide myself? How can I endure the glance of
people--that constant blow in the face? Where shall I shut myself in, so
that no human being can find me? Where shall I lose myself, so that even
I cannot find me? How shall I live or die on these thorns? What's that
to you--do you say? Ha ha! You say God has punished me, and you are
satisfied. You drawl out your prayers and fall asleep over them."

And then again:

"Are you awake? The cock is crowing, the day is dawning at last. The
night is long for those who cannot close their eyes. Why do you avoid
talking with me? I despise you from the bottom of my heart. If you were
as great a jewel as you are a piece of clay, I would not reach out my
hand to take you up. Keep your love for the angels, or for Beelzebub, it
is all one to me. All I ask from you is my honor. If you are a man of
honor, if you are a Christian, you must know what your duty is. The
offence was an open one, and it must be openly satisfied. Listen to me,
and then consider at your leisure. You and I will go over to the
Protestant church. We will go to Saros-Patak, or to Klausenburg, and
there this can take place without delay. The six weeks' instruction is
superfluous. We will marry. I need nothing more except your name--the
name still honored. You surely do not want all the world to call me Mrs.
Father Peter. You are not Emerich Thurzo; his wife can be called Mrs.
Bishop, night or day, but Mrs. Monk--no one can say that by daylight.
The price for my torn veil is the cap of Mrs. Tihamer Csorbai. Beyond
that, I do not care whether you love me, or do not love me, or whether
you love another. You can go away, when you cannot stand it any longer,
or you can stay. It does not matter to me what you answer; my decision
is made; in defiance of the Bishop, I am going to be a Calvinist; and I
am going to marry a second time, if not you, then somebody else; but it
is fitting that I should recover my honor by the man by whom I lost it.
But I will not beseech you any longer. Do not be afraid that I shall
crawl after you on my hands and knees. Two words can separate us; if you
say, 'No, No,' then I say, 'Nor I, either,' and you shall never enter my
gate again. To the threshold you may come, and I will count out to you
your money, and then we will never breathe the same air again."

Father Peter was terrified at these words. If Idalia drove him out of
the castle, then he could have no further meetings with Magdalene, for
the only entrance to the subterranean passage was from the castle; and
in his brain important plans were forming; he must without fail speak
with Magdalene. She will come to the familiar place and expect him
Sunday nights.

"What you have said is serious, and requires time for consideration.
Give me two Sundays that I may take counsel with the one who guides my
fate."

Idalia though that Father Peter referred to the wise Counsellor of all,
but he really meant Magdalene.

"Very well, I will wait two Sundays, but then you are to give me a
definite answer."

"Yes."

"An answer that swerves neither to right nor left."

"It shall be either wise or foolish. Whatever it is, it shall be that
wholly."

"By your monk's vows?"

"I vow it on my word of honor as a knight."

At this the lady began to weep violently, and her sobs awakened the
sleeping boy.

"Why do you weep, mother?" he asked in fear.

Idalia pressed him to her heart. "I am weeping for you, my poor little
orphan, my only treasure, my angel;" and with each tender name, she
covered the child's cheek with kisses and tears while she pressed him
close to her throbbing heart.

"Does he love me already,--my father?" stammered the child, nestling
closer to his mother. "He loves you surely, for you kiss and embrace me
again."

"We shall soon find out," Idalia whispered in his ear, and sighed
deeply.

Soon the whispering ceased. Father Peter heard the deep breathing of
mother and child, and the loud beating of his own heart.

Outside the cock crowed for the third time. Was it not Peter's
cock,--the first Peter?



CHAPTER X.

THE FEAST.


The next day, they reached Madocsany, and the second day after, the
feast began. They had hardly time to get rested. In truth, the feast
began. The beautiful Lady of Madocsany did not close her gates, as she
had said she should do, on the way home: she did not try to find any
thick veil for her head to cover her face before the eyes of the world.
The one expression, "On my word as a knight", had kindled a new glow in
her heart. What was the world to her now! Whoever did not respect her,
she did not respect. Contempt for contempt. The people of the castle did
not go abroad, but they broached their casks, spread their tables, and
summoned the pipers; and where there are spread tables, good wine, and
fair women, there are guests in plenty. It is true, it was a mere revel.
Not one personage of note. Perhaps the same drunken set that frequented
the Mitosin Castle when there were feasts there; if so, no one could
afford to reproach his neighbor. At Mitosin they criticised the Lady of
Madocsany, and at Madocsany the Lord of Mitosin. They flattered both,
and drank to the health of the one who owned the wine; and Father Peter
tarried with them in the interval. He no longer spent his nights in
singing psalms, but listened to the reckless conversation of this motley
crowd. No one counted it against him that he had been driven from the
Castle at Bittse; here it is no disgrace, quite the contrary, to be the
beloved of a beautiful woman, the more glorious because it was unlawful;
they clapped him familiarly on the shoulder, and admitted him as their
companion. And he had to accept this quietly, and realize that there was
something still more disgraceful than to be despised by men of position,
and that was to be honored by the worthless. So he spent every evening
with them; every evening, the side of the castle toward the Waag was
lighted up, so that the household at Mitosin could see what a great
feast it was. In their sledging parties on the frozen Waag, with sound
of bells and bright torches, music, and crack of whip, they passed so
near Mitosin Castle that their voices floated up to the windows of Lord
Grazian Likovay. What sport! Father Peter took his part. "A lucky dog!
he knew when to lay down his cowl," they said to his face.

In his sleeping room he was alone: for since their return from the
Bittse wedding, the mother had kept her child with her. She no longer
urged him to study, and all his days were spent in playing. As soon as
Father Peter was alone in his room, he drank a pitcher of water, and
poured another over his head, to wash away all traces left on his face
by the revellers' kisses. Then he knelt down before his bed, and
struggled with serious thoughts; his brow on his folded hands. The old
man was aroused in him, the defiant,--the man of hot, passionate love;
the devil of pride was struggling to break the fetters of his vow.
Already he felt a loathing for the cowl he wore. His soul was no longer
oppressed by the weight of a great guilt. The insult of the father had
released him from the blood-money for the son.

Friday before this, a message had come from the Jesuit monastery to the
lady of the castle, to the effect that she should not serve her guests
any meat that day, and that she should send back Peter, who must be
brought before an ecclesiastical court for his sins of conduct. The
widow sent back in reply a letter and a purse. In the letter she said:
"I send you back, not one, but a thousand Peters;" and in the purse were
a thousand gold pieces stamped for the emperor Peter. And the fathers
made answer: "Also serve the fish."

Tihamer Csorbai had a horror of Father Peter. He could not find his
faith again. Every dream misled him: and there were dreams that his
waking moments carried on,--fabulous treasures, for which the waking man
had only to stretch out his hand to hold what he had seen in the dreams
of sleep.

During these few days, Idalia was not recognizable. For days at a time,
she would not leave her sitting-room, but worked there with her maids
like a simple peasant girl who prepares her trousseau. She stayed at the
banquet only long enough to eat and drink, and then vanish. This great
tumult was only to defy the world. She herself played the coy maiden,
who waits for her wooer, and whispers to her mother, "There is a suitor
in the house." If by chance she met Father Peter, she drew back before
him.

Sunday morning, the company scattered to the four winds. "Six days shalt
thou eat and drink, but the seventh is holy--" so it stands written.
When the bells for early mass rang, Idalia dressed herself for church,
and took her jewelled prayer-book in her hand. But first she summoned
Father Peter.

"I am going to church. Perhaps for the last time to the Roman church. Do
not come to-day; leave me alone. Meantime, take care of my only
treasure." And then she covered Cupid's cheek with kisses, and went to
church.

"Do you see how fond my mother is of me?" said Cupid, throwing his arms
about Father Peter's neck. "Since we have come back she is so fond of
me. That's because you're fond of her, I know, for she whispered it in
my ear. You're not Father Peter, but Tihamer. Nights, she says this name
over and over, and then she hugs and kisses me. Once I asked her who
Tihamer was; at that she turned red, and laughing loudly, covered my
mouth; then she took me up on her lap and kissed me. 'Wouldn't it be
fine if you had to say Papa-Tihamer?' That means you. I know; you need
not try to make believe to me,--you're no monk; I knew that when you
threw the ball at the Fool's head. Do you know what my mother and her
four maids are working at in her quarters? Come, I'll show you, there's
nobody there. They're all gone to church." And the child dragged Father
Peter into his mother's innermost room, where he had never been before.
It was a marvel of convenience and elegance. Cupid ran to a richly
carved wardrobe, which he opened. In it hung a rich travelling cloak
trimmed with rosettes, and large buttons, lace, and gold embroidery.

"That's what they've been sewing and embroidering. And do you know who
is to have this for a present? Why, it's for Tihamer, and nobody else.
They told me not to tell anybody, but I'll just tell you. To-day is
Sunday and to-night, when you go to bed, you'll find on your bed these
clothes, and riding boots, and a gold sword. Yes, you can try them all
on and see if they fit."

Father Peter looked around him. He thought he caught sight of the
tempting countenance of a grinning demon behind him, and this urged him
a step farther.

"Yes, and I know something more," Cupid went on. "From to-day on, every
night down in the summer house, there'll be two horses saddled, and the
key is left in the rear gate. I heard her arrange it all with the
gate-keeper. For you know the monks down there keep watch over our gate
day and night, so that if Father Peter should once try to escape from
here, they could pursue him and catch him and throw him down into a deep
dungeon, because he tried to run away. But if you two slip out through
the garden gate some night, on those good horses, with me tucked under
the cloak of one of you, then the monks may follow, but they will never
overtake us."

Cupid's shafts all went home. All these preparations fitted so well into
the framework of those dreams which the monk pursued day and night,
when they did not pursue him. The entire plan of flight was completed;
all one had to do was to adopt it. All obstacles were removed. The monk
who flees with a woman may be arrested in any village, bound and brought
back; but when a distinguished couple, on richly caparisoned horses,
dash along, who would stop them?

"But you're not going to leave me, I'll tell you that beforehand," Cupid
ran on. "There's a little fox-skin ready for me too, and little boots
bordered with rabbit; don't be afraid, Mamma won't leave me behind. She
takes me up on her lap now, just as she used to when I was a little boy,
and as we are in the picture. Would you like to see the picture? I'll
show it to you. It isn't everybody can see it at any time. It's shut up,
but I know just how to press the springs, so it will open." He was then
in front of the carved work which divided as he pressed a spring. When
the picture came in sight, it lighted up the whole room, it was of such
radiant beauty. It was an Italian masterpiece--Venus and Cupid, the
veritable goddess of the myth, with the magic charms of beauty, in the
act of bathing her child; her eyes were turned toward the spectator,
languishingly, roguishly, seductively; a companion piece to the Venus
of Correggio. The monk held his hands before his eyes,--he was dazzled.

"Shut it up," he ordered the boy.

"You're not afraid of it, are you, that it will hurt you?"

Father Peter hurried out of Idalia's room. At the door, he met the lady.
His eyes betrayed the struggle of his soul. Idalia was gracious, and
acted as if she had noticed nothing. She looked down.

"I have just come from church, Father. I have sinned, and wish to
confess."

Father Peter looked at her in astonishment.

"Yes, I have sinned in the church, and now I have come for you to shrive
me. I sinned at the altar when I was praying. I prayed God: 'I thank
Thee, Lord, that Thou hast not prevented me from doing what I vowed to
do, and that was to rob Thine altar of one whom my heart loves. I thank
Thee that Thou hast sent upon us shame and disgrace to drive him away
from Thy holy offices. I beg Thee, I pray Thee, grant me to hurry him
away with me to destruction. Close the gates of Heaven against us. Grant
that I may make him a heretic and a denier of the saints. Grant me to
lead this saint out of the number of Thy believers; send me Thy evil
angel to aid me in this work of mine.' This was my prayer at the altar
named in honor of Ignatius Loyola, while they were singing the Dominus
vobiscum. It was a sin, Father, I smite my breast and own it was a sin,
I kneel before you; do you absolve me?"

Father Peter took the hand of the penitent and raised her. His tongue
could with difficulty shape the words, "I absolve you."

"You do absolve me!" cried the woman, and pressed passionately the hand
that he, unthinking, had left in hers. "Then you have absolved me, and I
bind you to it."

Then she hurried in triumph from the room, leaving him alone. From the
inner room rang out the laugh of Venus and Cupid. To be sure, the
picture was still open, and probably it was at that they laughed.



CHAPTER XI.

UNDERGROUND.


All day, it was evident from the features and actions of Father Peter
that he was the prey of unusual excitement. He would draw himself
together with a shiver as often as he met the triumphant glance of
Idalia. The lady of the castle considered the victory certain. These
confused looks, this stammering, this awkward manner, she regarded as
the dying convulsions of this man's conscience. One blow more, and his
pride, his vows, would be killed. At the evening meal, the three were
alone together. After the long visit of their guests, this was quite
unusual; but such an undisturbed family circle is usually very
agreeable. Then husband and wife say to each other, "Our guests were
dear to us, but now that they are gone, they are still dearer."

After the meal was over, Idalia sent the household to rest, and had the
child put to sleep in her own room; the two were alone together. The
lady took her harp and sang; she sang of Heaven, of Paradise, and of
love; but Father Peter's soul was not with her. The great clock struck
eleven. Father Peter seemed to be sitting on hot coals; he arose, and
did not wait for the conclusion of the song, although a touching one.

"Good-night."

"What,--going so soon?" asked Idalia, astounded.

"It will soon be morning."

"I thought that with the morrow, Sunday would be over, and you would
answer my question."

"This is the first Sunday, and I asked for two."

The lady knit her brows.

"And do you need so much time to settle your accounts with those above?"

--"And with those below."

Father Peter had involuntarily spoken the truth. The consuming flame of
suspicion blazed up in the soul of this woman. In the presence of such
love-charms, such fascination, such unconcealed passion, it is
impossible for a man to persist in marble insensibility unless he loves
another. Such deathlike calm is only possible to one who lives in
another world, and is there blessed. She forced her countenance into a
gentle smile.

"Very well, I wish you a restful night. But I have one favor to
ask,--that you take my little boy back into your room; since he has been
sleeping with me the bad dreams have returned. You know better how to
manage him; let him spend the night with you."

Father Peter's features betrayed the uneasiness that had taken
possession of him. This demand of the lady would only delay his meeting
with Magdalene.

"Very well, I will take the child with me," he said with enforced calm.

"I will bring him to you myself at once," replied the lady. Idalia
hurried to her room, and awakened Cupid, who was asleep in a small bed
beside hers. The child awoke in terror.

"What's the matter--are you going to kill me?"

"No, indeed, my darling, my angel, how could I!"

"But your face looks just as it did when you threatened to put the pin
through my head."

"You've been dreaming. Come, my dear, to-day you are to sleep with your
father, with Father Peter."

"Beside Tihamer? Call him here. He can come to me, more easily than I
can go to him."

"You must mind me, if you don't wish to make me angry, and be cast off."

At that Cupid began to cry. When a child wakens out of his first sleep
and sobs himself half dead, sleep cannot be coaxed back in less than two
hours; and this Idalia knew perfectly well.

"Listen to me, my little boy, you are a dear little boy, and I am your
loving mother, and always will be if you mind me. I will give you
everything that you want. But if you don't do as I say, I'll torment
you, and let you go hungry, and dress you in rags. Now you are a clever
little boy, and you know perfectly well that Father Peter is not what he
pretends to be. The question is whether he deals with the good spirits,
or with the bad. Only a good little boy like you can find that out. See,
I'll give you a little silver whistle that you can hide out of sight.
Now come into Father Peter's room. As soon as you have lain down, shut
your eyes, and open your mouth, and act as if you were already asleep;
draw a deep breath and leave your mouth open: meantime, notice carefully
what Father Peter begins to do when he thinks you are asleep; if he
leaves the room, slipping out carefully, dressed in his cowl, and does
not go through the door where I should see him, or through the main
entrance hall where the watchman would stop him, but lets himself out
of a window, down by a trellis where the vines grow, then as soon as he
is a little way off, blow this silver whistle; I will be near by, and
hear you, and then I will come and we will find out whether Father Peter
works with good or bad spirits. Have you understood me?"

"Yes," said the child, "and it shall be all right."

Curiosity was stronger in the child than fear. The thought that in
keeping watch as his mother bade him, he was to find out Father Peter's
secrets, pleased Cupid very much.

"Carry me there," he said, "and don't worry. I'll find out about him."

When Idalia had given the child to Father Peter, and he had gone to his
room, she concealed herself behind the secret door of a niche in the
corridor; such as were to be found in many places in the thick castle
walls. She had hardly waited half an hour when there was a shrill
whistle. She hurried to the boy's room. Cupid sat up in bed; on his
features could be read a mingled expression of astonishment, fear, and
mischievous delight.

"You can come now," he said.

"Keep quiet," said his mother.

"He won't hear me, he's not there."

"Where is he, then?"

"He has gone underground,--to Hell."

"Tell me what you have seen."

"I did as you told me. While I was still saying my prayers, I began to
yawn, and before we reached the Amen I was lying on my back on the bed
and snoring. Father Peter sank down on his knees beside my bed and
finished the prayer: 'Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from
evil, Amen.' And with that he struck his hand on his breast, and sighed
deeply several times. At last he rose, his whole body shook as if he had
swallowed down a bitter medicine; then he struck his head against the
wall, and there was such a noise that I thought his skull would go to
pieces; then he bent over me, listened to my breathing, and covered me
carefully; then he went to his own room and shut the door behind him.
Before, he always left the door open to hear me wake. I got up quietly
and slipped to the door to watch what he was doing. When he caught sight
of the gaily embroidered clothes lying spread out on his bed, how his
eyes shone! He did not hesitate long,--quickly threw off his soutane and
sandals, and put on the cloak, the laced stockings, and the spurs--what
a fine young man he was! You ought to have seen him! And then when he
had put on his sword, he drew it from the scabbard, and struck a few
stray blows into the air; oh, how bright his face was! Nobody would
have said it was Father Peter. I thought he was going to surprise
you--that he was dressing himself to make you a visit; but he did
nothing of the kind; he brought out a dark lantern and lighted the
candle in it, and shut the cover down: then he put his monk's cowl over
his knight's suit, and covered his fur-trimmed cap with its hood. Then
he was Father Peter again. What he did then, I could not see, for he
went to the window, but I heard the window creak, and I heard the vines
rattle against the wall. I went to my window and looked out; it was
dark; Father Peter hid his lantern under his cowl; but I could see this
much, that he went toward the chapel of Saint Nepomeck, that is in the
corner of the garden near the wall; you know, it is that saint that
every peasant takes his hat off before, and we cannot play with our
balls or our tops near him, for if we should accidentally hit the saint,
a great curse would come on us, because this saint preserves us and all
the villages from floods; he is a great saint, isn't he?"

"Who cares what kind of a saint he is! Tell me quickly what happened."

"Well, Father Peter went to the chapel, and threw his arms around Saint
Nepomeck. 'See, see,' I thought, 'The monk and the stone saint are
kissing each other;' instead of that, he pushed the statue of the saint
to the ground and stood in its place. 'What now,' I thought, 'is Father
Peter going to be Nepomeck?' No, for he began to sink down into the
ground and when he had gone quite out of sight, the statue of Nepomeck
got up by itself and took its old place. But why do you look at me that
way, are you going to kill me? How ugly you look all of a sudden. Have I
said anything bad?"

Idalia struck the child on the head. "Curses on you for what you have
said." And even her voice sounded different--like the rattling of
chains. This speech, this look and the blow filled the child with such
terror that he crawled under the bed, and did not venture forth until he
saw that he was alone; then he was afraid of the loneliness, and began
to howl and cry. "Mother, mother, don't leave me alone; the souls of the
departed come and wail, and try to carry me off!" But nobody came.
Suddenly, there appeared on the ceiling a ray of light as if somebody
were going through the garden with a lantern. Cupid crawled out from
under the bed, and went to the window to call out to this person in the
garden. It was the figure of a woman in black, her hair covered with a
black veil, and with a dark lantern in her hand. By the light of this
lantern, the child could see that it was his mother. He saw her go
directly to the chapel of Saint Nepomeck. She too stepped up to the
statue and threw her arms about its head, and the statue dropped down
quietly. Idalia now in her turn took the place of the statue and
vanished into the earth: the statue raised itself again.

"My mother too has gone down to Hell!" whispered the child, trembling,
and sank down on his knees in terror. "Father in Heaven do not be angry
at me, I will never again leave off the end of my prayer. 'Lead us not
into temptation, but deliver us from evil, Amen.'"

Six steps led from the statue of Nepomeck down into the earth, the
seventh step was movable and turned on a pivot; if you stood on one end
of this, the statue above raised itself, but if you stood on the other
end, it sank gently down, The builders of this subterranean passage had
chosen well the guardian of their secret. The place where stood the
statue honored by all, was protected from investigation; it was not
possible that in this vicinity any one could be found who would venture
to overturn the sacred Nepomeck.

Lady Idalia had wrapped herself in a black cloak, and placed two pistols
in her belt, and she carefully concealed the dark lantern. The mole-hole
of the Hussites yawned before her! A long, dark, black defile, the more
gruesome since it did not run straight but round about; the entire
tunnel so like a catacomb, was vaulted, hewn out of the hard quartz. The
walls were already as black as a scaffold, with the underground mould,
which had so covered everything over that objects lying on the ground
could hardly be recognized. And on this mould-covered floor were traces
of steps,--fresh distinct traces of steps going and coming. One could
see the imprint of the five nails in the monk's sandals, evidently he
had been there often before; the freshest imprints, however, were of the
spurred boots of a knight. Idalia followed these hastily. She feared
neither the underground darkness nor all the terrors of the invisible
world, which in their collected form bear the name of Night, great black
mass--what she carried in her bosom was still blacker than this
darkness.

At a turn of the tunnel, she saw moving before her a light, at a
distance of perhaps two hundred feet; it was the gleam of a torch that
he had evidently lighted here in the tunnel from his lantern, to see his
way better. Now when a man carries a torch in his hand, he is so blinded
by it that he does not see if some one comes behind him, especially if
this somebody is wrapped up in a black cloak, keeps in the dark, and
conceals her dark lantern. Idalia could approach so near the form
striding on before her that she was in a position to recognize it. It
was Father Peter in his cowl, but with spurred boots. He went rapidly,
but Idalia went more rapidly, and almost overtook him.

The tunnel was long, with side passages opening into it, here and there.
Feminine curiosity compelled Idalia to cast a glance into each one of
these caverns; here she could use the full light of her lantern. One of
these caverns might have been a wine-cellar; there were still some casks
there; from this she concluded that there must be a still wider exit;
for through the narrow opening by the statue of Nepomeck, one could not
roll in such casks. A side passage led into a large, roomy hall, where
in one corner were to be seen the remains of a wooden staging; what
might have been here once?--a secret church for Hussite gatherings--or a
court--or even a place of execution? This higher ceiling was not covered
over with mould, but with a glistening dampness. In another corridor
were heaped up rusty old weapons and armor. In a dome-shaped cavern was
a cask on end, of a bright green; when she lighted it up with her
lantern, she saw that the cask was entirely covered over with
copperplate, and the green was from the verdigris; out of the bunghole
of the cask hung a long twisted cord. "Suppose I were to set fire to
this cord, what would result?" Idalia asked herself, and hurried on her
way. Suddenly the figure before her stood still. An oaken door with
bands of iron closed the tunnel; here the tunnel was walled with brick,
and the threshold of the door was of hewn stone; the masculine figure
placed his torch in an iron ring on the wall and approached the door.
This was made fast by a lock with a secret combination, such as are used
in closing cellars and underground doors; such locks, even when they are
rusty, can be opened by those who know their secret, but if a man does
not know this secret, he cannot open it in a lifetime. An iron pole,
notched on the inside, runs through the iron rings; on the outside of
the rings are engraved all kinds of letters; and the man who knows the
word which is the key to the opening of the lock, will turn these ten
rings until this name appears. Then are found on the inside of the rings
the spaces in their order, and the notched pole can easily be drawn out,
otherwise, one might turn these rings until the day of judgment and not
succeed with the lock. The secret of this lock Father Peter had learned
from the YAW DEREVOCSID EHT, and at every one of his underground visits
he had made fast the lock. While he was busy opening the lock Idalia
looked around her. Near by the door were two side passages opposite each
other; she must conceal herself in one of them to keep better watch; she
chose the right one, because this lay in the shadow, while the light of
the torch shone into the other. It needed a self-control beyond woman's
powers not to utter a shriek as she threw the light of her lantern into
the cavern she entered. It was a square room, black with smoke, with
wall of cement: it might once have been a sleeping room, for there were
beds and benches; and in all the resting places lay the forms of women,
some as if asleep, others still in convulsive attitudes crouching in the
corners or leaning against the walls; one sat at the table, with her
head resting on her hands, and a Bible open before her. She was reading
while the others listened; one crouched under the table with a rosary in
her hand,--she was a Catholic--all were richly dressed and their gowns
were covered with lace and gold and silver embroideries; and yet their
garments were decayed and those that wore them were skeletons. The fair
blond hair of the one reading seemed to have grown even after death, for
the floor all about her was quite covered. These were the women spoken
of in the mystic book, who here await the resurrection. Evidently they
too had come here to explore the secret of the strange lock when their
provisions had failed them, and here they had miserably perished. On the
wall above each figure was cut her name, her religion, and the day of
her death. On the table lay a handsome enameled watch; by this they had
reckoned how many days this long night here below had endured. Nobody
had inscribed the name of the last. It was a maiden, with a maiden's
wreath on her head,--perhaps she had been stolen from the altar.

Idalia stood looking at this abode of death. It seemed to her as if all
the skulls, with their eye sockets staring into eternal nothingness,
grinned at her, as if they would say to her, "We have waited for you.
Now you have come; you too are one of us." Should she flee this place,
turn back home and throw herself in penitent prayer before the statue of
the Virgin Mother of God? Was it a dream that she saw here? And what she
felt--the anguish, the revenge, the terror--was all this only a dream?
Do such feelings come in waking moments? The creaking of the door
recalled her consciousness. She looked out, and what she saw gave back
all her kindling rage.

Father Peter had laid aside his monk's cowl, and stood there in knightly
costume, like a bridegroom ready for the marriage altar. He was proud
and handsome! The noble fearlessness of the man was mirrored in his
countenance. Ah, in this guise he belongs to another! He is hers only in
that hateful, hideous, coarse cowl, which she contemptuously pushed
aside with her foot, as he stepped through the door to close it behind
him. So the jealous woman stamped her foot upon this deceitful cover of
hypocrisy. "You cloak of lies! You sacred mask! Pious costume of a
comedian! Chrysalis of a golden butterfly! The chrysalis is fixed to my
tree, but the butterfly flies to the flower of another. Shame, curse and
ruin upon you, and upon him who has worn you and shall wear you again!"
And at each curse, she stamped again upon the cowl. Then she opened
carefully the door. She set the lantern on the floor. The distance
before her now was not great, for the straight corridor with brick walls
extended about a hundred feet farther. By the light of the lantern in
the hand of the man before her, she could press forward with sure
step--there was no hindrance in her way.

At the end of the corridor, the knight stepped aside into a recess, and
as he disappeared, there shone forth a dull light on the opposite wall,
which indicated that a door had been left open, and that the wanderer
had reached his goal. Quietly, she too slipped into this place; the
opening was the frame of Saint Anthony's picture; she looked through and
saw the interior of the chapel before her. Who was in the chapel? A
knight and a maiden. What are they doing in the chapel? They stand in
close embrace. The listening woman had heard no outcry through the
stillness of the night. Evidently the maiden was not surprised; she had
surely been waiting for him. They might have agreed long ago to meet
here at this hour, and that was why the monk was in such haste. The kiss
lasted long. Perhaps only a minute by the watch, but a thousand years of
torment to the jealous watcher. This endless time sufficed for her
inflamed imagination to paint the picture of the previous moments. Yes,
without doubt, here waited for him this maiden with mourning,
despairing, broken heart. She waited for her former lover in monk's
cowl, who now laid aside the vows that forbade his heart to beat. She
waited for the disgraced, scourged monk; perhaps with the firm
resolution, that they would together mourn all this sorrow which is
without relief here below, and then together abandon this world in which
they have nothing more to seek.

But when instead of the humble priest, she saw step forth from the frame
the handsome knight of old, she forgot at once that a church arched
over her, and that a crypt was beneath her feet: she forgot that she had
come here to weep, to pray, to prepare herself for death,--and threw
herself into the arms of her fascinating lover.

All this the feverish fancy of the jealous watcher saw during the
eternity of that kiss. And when they separated, and she saw their
expressions, they were those of the blessed. How is it when one looks
out from the gateway of Hell at the smile of the Blessed? She played
with the trigger of her pistol. How easily she could kill them both. But
the cup of bitterness, too, must be drained in swallows, as well as that
of pleasure. Perhaps she can yet offer this cup to another and say, "My
Lord, I drink to your health!" Such a festivity should not pass without
the drinking of healths. But first she must watch through to the end
what they were doing, and hear through to the end what they were saying.

The knight looked about him, and then seized the maiden by the hand.
"Come away from here," he said in a hurried whisper. "What I am going to
say, the church and sacred picture must not hear."

The maiden drew back. "For Heaven's sake, what can you have to say to me
of that kind?"

The listener must leave her place quickly, for she must reach the oak
door before the lovers stepped through the recess of the altar picture
into the passage, otherwise the light of the torch shining in when they
opened the door would betray that somebody had been watching for them;
and then must they kill her, and she did not wish to lose her life so
cheaply. She had closed the door before the maiden had allowed herself
to be persuaded to follow her lover. Idalia concealed herself again in
the room of the beautiful women of old. She leaned against one of the
eternal sleepers, concealed her face in her veil, and hid the lantern
under her dark cloak. Soon she heard the creak of the door, gliding
steps, and the clink of spurs.

"I tremble," said the maiden.

"What do you fear when I am with you?"

"Everything, and myself."

"I will defend you against the whole world."

"And against myself?"

"Do you not love me still?"

"Because I do love thee, I fear for myself."

"If you do love me, you will come with me."

"Whither?"

"Out into the world where I shall lead you."

"But you are a priest!"

"No longer. In the same way that I could put on the monk's cowl, I can
lay it off again. That blow on the cheek that I received is the
expiation for the sword stroke that I gave."

"And your vows?"

"God will not count this against me, and as for man, I care not. _I have
read the Holy Scriptures through to the end, and nowhere in them can be
found that to love is a sin, and that to renounce love is a sacrifice
pleasing to God. This monstrous idea is an invention of man._"

One of the many occupants of the room of the dead stirred at these
words, for she heard her own words--repeated to another. This was the
fruit they bore!

"Listen, something moves in that room over there!"

"Don't look that way," said Tihamer.

"Who's there?"

"Noble ladies who have been asleep for two hundred years." Magdalene
took his lantern, and threw its light timidly into the dark space.

"What a frightful sight--skeletons in bridal attire!"

"Leave the place."

"One of them has her head covered with a veil."

"Perhaps it is a widow; under the veil is a death's skull."

"It seems to me as if it moved."

"Only your imagination."

"There's a light shines through her cloak."

"Decayed bones do sometimes shed a light."

The knight drew the maiden away from the sight. It is true that
sometimes a light does shine through decayed bones and a death skull
does see and hear. The maiden in her terror burst into tears. The youth
encouraged her tenderly as he took her in his arms.

"Listen to me, my Heaven, my all of happiness; we have no other choice
except this passage under the earth, or that other to Heaven. For I
cannot return to my monastery, and I will not be condemned to the
temptations of my tormenting devil."

("His tormenting devil! that's what I am," whispered the figure under
the veil.)

"And what fate awaits you?" continued the knight; "--to be chained to a
beast--to be sacrificed more horribly than if you were offered up to a
bloodthirsty idol!"

"No, no! Death rather!"

"My plan is for you to live and be happy."

"Did you not promise me to take me to a convent?"

"I thought then that I too should end my days in woe; but now I know
that I am not yet a consecrated priest. Bishop Thurzo told me so to my
face, and reprimanded me for usurping the name of Father. But even if I
were a consecrated priest, I should still be free to change my fate. If
I become a Protestant, no vow binds me any longer. _We will go to
Transylvania, and adopt the Hungarian faith; you know ever so many
belong to this faith, just, pious, God-fearing people; a third of the
population of the country is Protestant. God will not punish us either
for this._"

("Ah, he learned that too from me; how well he remembers!")

"We will go to distant lands, where no one has ever heard our name. _I
will buy an estate where we can live in comfort._ I may become as rich
as I please; look in this niche here; _here are treasures heaped up that
we need only to take; all is mine_. It was left me as an inheritance by
the one who hid it here in former days. I have the proof in writing. The
treasure is doubly mine; on the casks of gold and silver are inscribed
my family arms; the Hussites of old stole it from our castle Lietava. It
is my inheritance, see there!" The knight threw the light of his torch
into this niche of the wall; the maiden's eyes were blinded by the sight
of the treasure heaped up there.

"I can take as much of it as my shoulders can carry off."

But the maiden said sadly, "I have no desire for the treasure. Who knows
what curse is resting there!"

"I too am willing to renounce it. Then we will go away poor, _and we
will journey to some poor little village, whose church tower is
surmounted with a weather-vane; you shall be the wife of a poor
Calvinist pastor, and take care of your own kitchen and vegetable
garden_. A thatched roof shall be our shelter, and happiness shall dwell
within."

("These words, too, did I put into his mouth.")

"How beautiful it would be," sighed the maiden, "if it were not a
dream!"

"All can be real, if you will but say yes."

"Ah, do not tempt me! Already have I gone so far that I can no longer
cast a stone at any sinful woman. I am the most sinful of all. I have
allowed myself to be overpersuaded--not by you so much as by my own
heart--at night, and Sunday night too--when all good people are asleep,
to steal out of the house, God's house, the church I chose for a meeting
place with you! I have drawn the veil over my face in the presence of
men, and drawn it aside in the presence of the saints. I am more sinful
than the Lady of Madocsany, for I do what she only meditates. I come
here under the cloak of innocence."

"I swear to you, you are more holy than the saints there on the wall. If
your soul condemns you because you only half-love, quiet it by saying
that you love me wholly."

"What would you have me do?"

"Follow me now,--this very moment. The way of escape is open. _In the
summer-house of Madocsany Castle are two horses saddled, the key is in
the rear gate_; we can escape unnoticed. When the morning dawns, and our
escape is discovered, we shall be beyond the mountains."

("My own plan of flight.")

"Leave me, for Heaven's sake, tempt me not. A week to consider."

"No, no!"

"One day then at least, to consider this whole plan of yours. If I am to
turn aside from God and all the saints, let me at least finish weeping
in their presence; let me tell them why it is I love you more than
Heaven."

("Ah, you too know that? And yet you did not learn it from me!")

"Let me go back for a day--just for one day--I must take leave of the
memory of my mother, must beg her gentle picture for forgiveness, must
collect my few relics, set free my poor little dove, and once more kiss
the hand that has so often abased me, but that I still bless. I cannot
go with you until I have kissed my father's hand for the last time."

"Very well, it shall be so; but promise me that you will come again
to-morrow."

"By my eternal happiness, I will come."

"And follow me out into the world?"

"God pardon me for what I am doing!"

"And so I let you go. God be with you."

And he kissed the maiden's brow.

"Accompany me with your light back into the church; now that I am
sinful, I am afraid of the darkness of the church."

Both went back through the door into the passage way, and the door
closed behind them. Idalia came out of her hiding-place--the bones of
the widow----! She shook the mould off her cloak. She came near letting
loose the hot lava of her passion. In the ring of the closed door hung
the ring of the secret lock: the name that served as key was Hieronymus.
She had only to put the iron pole across the door, shake up the rings,
and then pound with her fist on the heavy door, and cry,--"I wish you a
pleasant journey, you turtle-doves! You can go out past the two bears,
and that third one, your father. I send kind greetings to all three."
But she knew how to control herself; it should not be done this way.
To-morrow is yet to come, and that shall be the _dies iræ_. She had
nothing more to say. She caught up her lantern, and ran hastily back, so
hastily that she slipped several times on the damp ground. When she had
run about a thousand feet, she looked back. She did not see the
torch-light coming near her. Naturally they must take leave of each
other, and that required time.

It was still the dead of night when she reached the end of the
passage-way. Saint Nepomeck stood aside for her, and then took his place
again. Idalia hurried up the secret stairway to Father Peter's room.

The child in his fear had fallen asleep on the bearskin in front of the
bed. The mother laid him on the bed and covered him over, and he did not
awaken. Then she looked out of the window to wait until the saint's
statue came down again. It was a good half hour before the figure of
Father Peter appeared from underground. So then their parting must have
lasted half an hour. He had escaped through the window; through the
window he must come back. She waited until he began to climb up the
trellis-work; then wrapped her sleeping child in her cloak and carried
him to her own room. Father Peter should not speak with him again.



CHAPTER XII.

THE ICE-BLOCKED FLOOD.


This night was not for sleep. Idalia went from room to room with the
death-wound at her heart. She did not herself know what she was looking
for. She stopped before her mirror and gazed at herself for some time.
Her deep sorrow, her restless passion, had made her face still more
beautiful. The tears shining in her eyes lent a peculiar charm to her
features. "You lie. I am not beautiful! I am a demon--the demon that
pursues him!" The mirror then said to her, "You are hideous." Now she
knew what she must do. She sat down to write a letter.


"To his Lordship, Grazian Likovay.

Honored Lord: If you would know whose lover Father Peter really is, keep
watch to-night and when you hear the bells ring at midnight,--those
bells that you think are rung by spirits, since they have no cord--then,
instead of covering up your head in fear, arise and go with your
servants into the ghost-haunted chapel; there you shall learn which one
of us has cause to go begging for his lost honor. What I have said, I
have said--to-night after midnight. If you take warning, well and good;
if not, also good. It matters not to me whether you accept it, or
whether you do not. You will repent if you listen to me: you will repent
still more if you do not.

I remain, your respectful servant,

The widow of Franz Karponay."


She sealed the letter with her own crest. Meantime, it had been
gradually growing light. She sent for the Fool.

"Hirsko," she said, "Can one cross the Waag?"

"Hare and hounds can; but man could hardly do it."

"Why not?"

"Because during the night, the ice began to move, and if it has not
caught fast on the island, it must be going right merrily."

"Would you dare cross over with this letter?"

"If I had two heads, and could lose one there and leave the other here,
I do not say but that I would undertake it."

"Listen, Hirsko; I'll give you a new suit from head to foot, if you'll
take this letter through. If you return, you shall have wine enough for
a lifetime."

"And if I go to the bottom, I shall have water enough for a lifetime."

"Just try it. It's not so very dangerous. See this purse, it's full of
money; that too is yours, if you succeed."

The Fool shook his big head. He was not ready to accept her proposition
that he should "just try it, for he could float like a pumpkin."

"Now listen, Hirsko; I know that you have always been in love with me.
If you carry this letter over and come back, I'll be your wife."

At this the Fool gave a bound, and then began tugging with both hands at
his shoe strings.

"Tira li! You're not joking, just give me a kiss."

Idalia offered her lips to the monster. He hurried out of the room with
the letter, down to the Waag, striding along with a six-foot pole.
Idalia stationed herself at the balcony window and watched her
messenger. The ice had already begun to move on the Waag; single fields
of it floated down the centre of the stream, and giant cakes were heaped
one above another; only a Fool would undertake such a task. The
messenger's figure disappeared at times behind the barricades and then
reappeared: now and then, he broke in, and worked his way out again
with his pole. After an hour's struggle in the very face of Providence,
he reached the other shore.

"He's well over," said Idalia, and left the window. For Hirsko it was
hardly well; for Lord Grazian, when he had read the letter, in his first
outburst of anger, had him bound and scourged to the full value of a
woman's kiss. But the arrow had not missed its mark; it clung fast by
the barb to his heart.--

Now Idalia can go to breakfast. Father Peter was already there; his face
showed no change.

"I did not find the boy in his bed this morning," he said
good-naturedly.

"No, naturally not," she said, with a suppressed laugh. "After you had
laid him down, put him to sleep, and closed the door between the two
rooms, he awoke, and becoming frightened to find himself alone, ran to
me, and he is asleep still."

Father Peter made an effort to appear calm. The lady continued pertly:
"Shall I guess why you closed the door between the two rooms? You found
in your room a new suit of clothes, and did not wish the child to see
you try them on."

There was a whirring sound in Father Peter's head. It was dangerous to
say that he had not done so, for perhaps the lady would send for the
garments and see that there were traces of mud on the boots. He had to
answer the question with a smile. "Yes, you are right."

"Well, how do they fit?"

"That's for another to say."

"And when shall she say it?"

"When I answer your late questions."

"And when shall I get that answer?"

"To-morrow."

The lady clapped her hands with a laugh. "Ha, ha! To-morrow. So you
won't keep me waiting a week. Not until next Sunday? To-morrow I shall
learn whether you are Father Peter or Tihamer Csorbai! To-morrow, even
to-morrow!"

And with that she jumped up and danced the cushion dance, singing
enchantingly as she danced. Then she threw the cap from her head at the
feet of the man, and knelt on her cap, as on a cushion.

If Tihamer Csorbai had entered into the joke and set free with a kiss
the woman on her knees before him, then would she have plunged a
poisoned dagger into his heart, and the other woman, at least, would
have been saved. But nothing of the kind entered into the knight's
thoughts. The woman rose without a kiss, and danced and danced, until
she danced herself out of the room. No expression on her face betrayed
what was raging in her soul. She went to her room to waken her boy. She
was tenderness itself. Young Cupid complained of the frightful dreams he
had had in the night. He saw first Father Peter and then his mother push
Saint Nepomeck aside and follow each other down to hell.

"You little goose, you ate too much plum-cake last evening."

"But I did not dream this, I saw it with my own eyes. I was in Father
Peter's room."

"Oh, you darling, you were with me all night long. I could not cover you
up often enough, you kicked about so."

"Where's my little silver whistle?"

"Your little silver whistle! Dear soul, you left that in the land of
dreams."

"I am still cold. I am all of a tremble."

"You are feverish, sweetheart; stay in bed to-day, and I'll bring your
playthings to you, and make you a nice tea that will make you well
again."



CHAPTER XIII.

IN THE GHOST'S HOUR.


Grazian Likovay read the letter through two and three times, and could
not understand it. There is nothing more difficult than putting an idea
into an empty head. Then he had to call Master Mathias to his help.

"See this letter! A fool wrote it, a fool brought it, and only a fool
can understand it."

"It's plain enough to me."

"How so? How so?"

"You've not forgotten, have you, the disgrace you brought on Father
Peter at the Bittse wedding-feast? I was there myself. I saw it, and I
remember the face you tore the cowl from; it was exactly Tihamer
Csorbai's face."

"I hit him a blow that told, didn't I?"

"Yes, you did; but a wound of that kind is not forgotten, especially
when it falls on a wound that is not yet scarred over. Now you know
Tihamer Csorbai is the rejected suitor of your daughter Magdalene, and
that we live so near each other that the two castles stare each other
in the eye."

"Then you think the letter is about Magdalene?"

"I am sure there is no other woman in the household. But if all these
beautiful women, young and old, hanging in these frames, were living,
Tihamer would still give his heart to Magdalene alone. For if a handsome
woman were all he asked, he would have had it right there in Madocsany,
and he need not have made any pilgrimages for her."

"But just look out of the window. Do you see how the ice is crashing out
of the river? When the fool came over, the ice had just begun to move;
but now heavy blocks of it are rolling along. See, the huts along the
bank have been swept away, and the ice has cut off thick tree trunks
like a razor. Do you think a human being could cross the river
to-night?"

"Gracious Lord, I have read in the Bible that Peter trod the water with
bare feet, and that was a sea. Whatever is in the Bible, as a good
Lutheran, I must believe."

"But that was in old times, and it was Saint Peter; he could do
anything. To-day is To-day."

"All I know, gracious Lord, is that a priest can do a good deal, a
lover can do more, and when you get both in one, he can do everything."

"We must talk it over with Berezowski." The old suitor, since his return
from the wedding feast at Bittse, had been staying at Mitosin Castle. It
was understood that he should wed the beautiful Magdalene, and take her
to his house in Galicia. The license was all ready. The only reason that
the marriage had not yet taken place was that father-in-law and
son-in-law kept the bottle going from hand to hand until morning, and
then the lover had to be dragged off to bed by his hands and feet, and
neither a fire alarm nor a murderer's stroke could have roused him from
his bed. Afternoons, this bigot Lord would not enter into any churchly
ceremony, and so the wedding was put off from day to day; and the
wedding feast was secretly consumed by the guests in advance.

To-day too they shook and pulled the bridegroom elect; they roared in
his ear; but to all their attempts, his only reply was a movement of the
hand to brush away a fly, or of the foot, as aimed at a dog; and then he
slept on steadily.

"Wait," said Lord Grazian, "I have an idea. I will question the girl."
And he went in search of his daughter. He found Magdalene at an open
window.

"Well, my child, you must have hot blood to open the window in such
ice-cold weather as this."

"I am giving my doves their freedom. They will have nobody to feed them,
if I go away to-day or to-morrow."

"So you know that you are to be married to-day or to-morrow."

"Yes, I know, dear father."

"And you have stopped tearing your hair out and bursting into tears, and
crying out, 'I'd rather die a hundred times than marry him!'"

"I will not weep again in your presence, my father."

"Your nature is entirely changed. Has this been since the Bittse wedding
feast? When I tore the cowl from the head of your former lover, and you
learned that he was now the lover of a beautiful woman--that changed
you, did it?"

"That was a frightful moment, father."

"And you do not love the priest?"

"I swear to you, dear father, that I do not love the priest."

"That would be dreadful. I don't know what I should do with you if you
dared even to dream of that. But what's this little bag for?"

"I am going to put some little relics in it, that I have kept of my poor
mother's; the small medallion with her miniature, a lock of her hair,
woven into a flower, and a little silver cross that I used to wear when
I was a child. All are to go with me when I am far, far from here."

"You have changed entirely and become a good daughter. I shall live to
give you my blessing."

"Oh, do give me your blessing, if only one word," entreated the girl, as
she knelt before her father. "Just let me kiss your hand once, and then
lay it on my head."

Grazian let the girl draw his hand to her lips.

"Only say that you forgive me all the sorrow I have caused you against
my will."

Her entreaty deceived Grazian's sleepy mind.

"That's good, I am not angry with you," he growled out, and with his
hand stroked the head of his daughter, kneeling before him; it was meant
for something like a blessing. "But now you must consider yourself
ready, for the priest is here. To-night we must go to bed early, and get
up betimes to-morrow, for to-morrow shall be the wedding."

Then Lord Grazian went back to the room where he had left Master
Mathias.

"You're on the wrong track, young man," he said; "I have just shrived
the girl. She really is entirely changed. She does not cry at all when
I talk about her wedding, and I told her that to-morrow was to be the
day. She said, 'Very well,' and kissed my hand very prettily."

"Then that's the very best proof that she has something else in mind.
She has said good-bye because she intends to go away to-night with her
lover before the wedding to-morrow. That is why she consented so
readily. I know women better than that."

"All the devils of Hell! Suppose that should be so! I will eat fire and
drink poison if that's true. Wake that Pole up, even if he is half-dead.
One can't manage a thing of this kind alone. Rouse the household."

"We will do just the opposite. If we give the alarm, they too will learn
it and be on their guard. Instead of that, let everybody drink until he
cannot waken himself, and we will drug the bears. There is some secret
connection with the church--those bells at midnight, and the ghost in
the lighted church that your lordship himself has seen and heard,--all
that does not happen without the help of man. There is something
underneath it all. Just leave the whole matter to me, my Lord; by
evening, I will map out such a campaign as to catch Beelzebub himself if
he is in the business."

Until evening there were whispered consultations throughout Mitosin
Castle, but the women were kept out of the secret. While Magdalene was
at supper, the church was filled with Berezowski's armed servants. The
bridegroom, in a violent passion, insisted that he would be present
himself. As twilight came on, Berezowski slipped into the chapel, and
concealed himself there with his armed followers in the crypt. They had
a cask of beer and a checker board to make the time pass more rapidly.
When it was hardly dark, Grazian gave orders for all to go to their
night's rest, for the next morning they must rub their eyes open early,
for there was to be a wedding in the house. The whole night through, not
a soul must stir, and cellars and store-houses were to be kept locked.
At evening, the students sang the Maiden's song before the windows of
the bride's room, and then all the lights in the castle went out. There
was as deep a quiet as if no one were awake; only the cracking of the
ice on the Waag sounded on the still night.

When the great castle clock struck midnight, Magdalene arose, put on her
gown, fastened to her girdle the little bag with its relics, and slipped
noiselessly down the stairway to the little gate in the rear that led to
the bear den. She looked about her, but the bears were not to be seen.
After Candlemas, the bears begin their winter sleep, when the weather
outside is raw. The bears did not cross her path. Fearlessly she went to
the church-door. From there she breathed one last farewell to the castle
of her fathers, that she was to leave forever, and then entered the
door. As before, the moonlight fell upon the church, and lighted up the
pierced saints, the nameless gravestones, and the altar picture in its
carved frame. Now had she reason to fear, for she had learned what those
saints suffered from the darts that pierced them. She had learned who
slept under nameless gravestones, and the names of those terrible forms
that frightened and misled the hermit in the picture.

If her deliverer, if her lover, would only come sooner! The owls in the
tower hooted more than ever. Suddenly the bell rang and the altar
picture shone brightly. Her lover was near. What a wonderful altar
picture that was that appeared in the place of Saint Anthony,--a Saint
Ladislaus! This was a genuine Hungarian saint, not one tortured to death
by heathen, but one who struck the heathen down! Now he came down from
the altar frame to comfort the kneeling maiden.

"It is well that you hurried: to-morrow they are to take me away to
Poland. You might never more have seen me."

"Let us hasten, my love."

"Just wait a moment until I offer one last prayer at my brother's
grave."

"Let me add mine."

And so the two went and knelt before the monument of the murdered
brother, and hand in hand offered their prayer.

"Amen," and "Amen." The girl kissed the bust carved in stone. "You
forgive me, do you not, dear brother?" she said.

"How could I help forgiving you, my dear sister?" rang out a hoarse
voice from the depths, and with that the crypt door opened, and out
plunged Berezowski's armed force, and at their head the wronged
bridegroom with drawn sword. In the hand of Tihamer Csorbai too, the
sword suddenly flashed.

"Well, if you are no priest, I'll kill you on the spot," roared
Berezowski, raising his weapon for a heavy stroke; but Tihamer advanced
and struck him under the shoulder, so that his arm dropped. Berezowski
himself fell back on the floor without seeing the end of the struggle.

"Back underground again, you cowards!" shouted Tihamer, dealing deadly
blows at his assailants, who withdrew before his terrible anger toward
the crypt door. Just then, the church door opened and in rushed
Grazian's household of servants with torches and weapons; he himself
carried only his crutch in his hand.

"Here monk," he cried, "stand, parson, you Father Peter, tempter! You
shall be beaten down with a stick." And he rushed blindly toward him
with his crutch raised. Magdalene threw herself between the two.

"By all the saints! Father! Tihamer! Do not harm each other, trample
rather on me!"

"Out of the way!" growled her father, and with his foot he pushed aside
the maiden kneeling before him. Luckily for him, one of his own company
had thrown himself in the way, and received on his head the heavy sabre
cut that Tihamer had intended for the father. Two more servants fell
fatally wounded under the knight's grim strokes, and then his sword
broke off at the hilt. But this miserable pack of menials did not
conquer him: it was true he had no sword, but on the altar were great
candelabra in copper. He seized one of those, and struck such blows
right and left that soon his way was free before him. Whoever laid hold
of him was glad to let him go again. With one leap he was on the altar:
already was he in the altar frame, and behind him lay the secret
passage; he had only to open the oaken door and push the bolt, and he
was saved. But as he cast a glance from the altar down to the church
below, bright with the red light of the torches, he saw a sight that
held him riveted fast to the spot: he saw Grazian Likovay seize
Magdalene's long streaming hair, and drag the helpless maiden to the
church door.

This robbed him wholly of his senses; rage stifled every human thought
in his soul. He was now nothing but a wild beast--a lion robbed of his
lioness; roaring with anger, he sprang with one bound from the altar to
the floor; each hand was armed with the heavy candelabra, and with these
as clubs he threw himself on the pack of servants, crushing everything
before him in the way of human bones. Like Hercules in his Nessus-shirt,
he raged through the midst of the servants and forced his way to the
church door where Grazian was dragging his daughter by the hair. He
overtook the old man, and dealt a heavy blow at his head, but Grazian
caught it with his hand. Somebody from behind threw a cloak over
Tihamer's head, another made a plunge at his feet, and soon he was
overpowered, thrown down, and bound.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE BEAUTIFUL WOMAN'S REVENGE.


The ice on the Waag rolled more and more mightily! Not within the memory
of the oldest inhabitant had it ever been so dangerous before. The icy
flood crowded through the brook of Madocsany to the mill-dam, easily
broken through, and then it might have found its way to the castle wall.

"See," said little Cupid to his mother, "Why did you push Saint Nepomeck
out of his place, you and Father Peter? Now Saint Nepomeck is paying you
for it."

"Oh, you've been dreaming."

"No, I saw it! I am still trembling at it."

"If you are trembling, then you have fever. Go back to bed, and don't
look out of the window. I'll send Hirsko to tell you a story."

(Yes, Hirsko, who knows where he is now?)

"No, send me Father Peter instead, he'll tell me the truth."

"Very well then, Father Peter."

Since dawn, Idalia had been fully ten times to Father Peter's
sitting-room to see if he was at home; but neither he nor his handsome
cloak was to be seen. Through the opened window whistled the wind. The
lady went out on to her glass-covered balcony and looked in astonishment
at the great ice sea which the Waag had changed the valley into, for the
time; a sea through the centre of which flowed a swift current, while
its borders were of ice barricades, rising mountain high. The four
tin-roofed towers of Mitosin Castle were resplendent in the morning
sunshine. Suddenly it seemed to her that a black spot detached itself
from the opposite bank and made its way through the ice stream. Soon she
could see through the glass that it was a boat with five men. What might
this boat be bringing? There need be no fear of five men. Here were five
and twenty servants, hunters and haiduks already, and all armed with
guns and halberds. The men in the boat were making a truly perilous
attempt; the masses of ice threatened every moment to sink the boat.
Often they jumped out to pull it through the ice blocks. At one moment a
giant slab of ice rose and then suddenly plunged down, almost destroying
them all, like so many water rats. A man must have a deeply fixed
purpose to go to Madocsany such a day. Who could it be? There were four
in the crew, it was apparent from a distance. The fifth was so wrapped
in his bearskin that he was not recognizable. At last they came in
safety to the mill-dam. Then the crew sprang out of their boat, dragged
it up on the ice, fastened it to a willow; and now the fifth person, all
wrapped in his bearskin, rose and climbed up on the bank. Then Idalia
recognized him at a glance--he limped. It was the lord of the
neighboring estate. Grazian Likovay was approaching,--her foe in whose
heart she had now turned her knife for the second time. But he comes
alone--what has he in mind? Was the old bear looking up his former foe,
to throttle her, like a wild-cat? The bear would find by experience that
the wild cat had claws she knew how to use.

The Lady Idalia wore a long Russian cloak, bordered with fur, and in the
broad sleeves was carefully concealed a poisoned dagger, which must by a
single scratch inevitably send down to death the strongest man.

At the same time, the haiduks entered the next room as a reserve force,
and the steward and manager stood ready to strike down the first man who
tried to injure their lady. Unnecessary prudence. Grazian Likovay had
come without weapons; he could not have used any, had he had it; for
his right arm was in a sling, and his hand was bandaged. Father Peter's
last blow with the candelabra had been aimed at his head, but Likovay
caught it with his hand, and so maimed it. The left hand was occupied
with the crutch and his cap, now removed.

With downcast head and humble soul, dragging the lame foot, Grazian came
into the presence of the Lady, and addressed her in a voice like that of
a beggar at the door.

"Humbled to the dust, I come, my Lady, to you, a poor, dead, buried old
man. I acknowledge that I have been defeated, maimed, destroyed. I also
recognize that I deserved it. I was the guilty one. I was the fool. When
disgrace reached to the very tower of my own house, I sought it in your
cellar. I accused you of a shame that was my daily bread. You were
right. May this give you comfort."

"What have you done? I hope that you have not been killing or
murdering."

"Oh, don't be frightened. I know how sensitive your heart is. You would
have mourned if the wild, foolish Grazian Likovay, in consequence of a
good word from you, in consequence of a truly friendly warning worthy of
a kinsman and a neighbor, had throttled one after the other, both man
and maiden. No, he has not done so; on the contrary, it is we who have
been mowed down."

"By Father Peter?"

"Yes, by Father Peter, but in the form of Tihamer Csorbai. He is a
valiant knight. First, he all but killed my intended son-in-law, the
good Berezowski, and then he crippled two of my brave haiduks, and when
his sword broke, seized the church candlesticks and dealt us blows. I
received one, I beg you to look at it." And with that he took the bloody
bandage off his hand.

Idalia was horrified; she wished to help Grazian bind it up again, but
he would not allow it.

"Don't trouble yourself, gracious Lady, with my teeth and my left hand I
can bind it up somehow."

"And what became of Father Peter?" urged the lady.

"He finally succumbed; 'many geese are the death of even a boar!'"

"Do you mean that he was killed?"

"No, not killed. I told you already that I did not kill anybody. I am a
gentle, pious man. Neither I, nor anybody else at my command, will kill
Father Peter."

"Then what will become of him?"

"I'll take care of that; but not a hair of his head shall be touched; I
promise you that in advance. I swear to you, even, that he shall outlive
me."

"What is to be done with your daughter?"

"Oh, you need have no concern on her account, gracious Lady, I have not
killed her either. Neither have I shut her up in a dungeon, nor even
once scourged her. I have become a good, inoffensive man."

"What have you done, then? Have you forgiven her?"

"I have not only released her from punishment, but I have even let her
go. I let her go, just as I once promised her, if she should ever again
presume to meet Tihamer Csorbai."

"You have not lost your senses, I hope."

"Must you know at once what I promised her? Very well, I promised her
that I would set her in a boat, and would push her, boat and all, into
the Waag, and then she might, in God's name, float whichever way the
water carried her. Just at present, the Waag offers a fine opportunity
for such a boat-ride."

"Is it possible that you have really done this?"

"It is, indeed. If you had listened in the stilly night, a little after
midnight, you might have heard for a long time her cries for help, in
the pauses of the crashing of the ice floes. I could not bear them,
because the wind was blowing in the opposite direction, and the ice
splitting sounded too loud."

"You are a monster!"

"Oh, no indeed! I am a humble crawling worm of the dust. I am a halting
cripple. I am an uprooted, decayed willow. But why do I complain to you
of my sorrow? I did not come through the icy flood to find Hell itself,
to bewail my misery to you here in Madocsany Castle. I will not cause
you one unpleasant hour in this way. I come, however, on a very
important matter, which I wish to settle to-day between us. I wish to
sell you the Mitosin estate."

"What's that?"

"The entire Mitosin estate. Castle and everything, including all the
stock. I wish to sell it to you for all time. Your worthy husband once
wanted to buy it of me, when I was in need of money, because of my son's
debts. Your husband offered me then sixty thousand dollars and thirty
thousand ducats, but I did not consent. I preferred to sell the
beautiful fertile property of Alfald, my wife's dowry, but the Mitosin
Castle of my ancestors I would not set a price on for my neighbor; my
pride would not allow it. Now I have no more pride, I am humbled to the
dust. The disgrace which has fallen upon my house has been seen by
hundreds, has been talked of by hundreds; it is impossible for me to
stay longer in this vicinity. I must go forth into a country where
nobody understands our language,--to Wallachia or Little Russia. That is
why I offer you my estate. If you will pay the sum your husband offered,
I shall accept with joyful thanks. If you wish to pay less, I shall not
protest against it. I wish to flee from my possessions, and therefore I
will sell them at any price, just as a dying man tries to sell his
mattress to get money to buy his coffin."

Idalia raised her head proudly. The ornaments on her cap glittered; thus
does the demon of satisfied revenge exalt his horns; the Bittse day was
avenged, richly avenged with interest, and interest on interest. Her
torn veil had been paid for with a whole shroud. They had wished to
drive her hence, and now it was they who must flee. Now would she exult
in her triumph.

"Well, noble Grazian Likovay, if you wish to sell your Mitosin estate
forever, I will pay you the price for it that my poor departed husband
offered. The gold is at hand; I am not accustomed to put it out at
interest; you can have it when you please."

"Then, at once; for to-morrow at this time no living soul shall speak
with me in the owl-nest of Mitosin. So then, at once,--that is what
brought me here. I have ready with me the contract that your husband
sent me, in two copies. We have only to fill in the blanks left for the
names and amounts, sign the contract, seal it, and have it witnessed.
Have you any men here who understand writing?"

"Yes."

Idalia did not need to go far for them. In the adjoining room, her
steward and manager were listening; both learned men, who understood
Latin too; she could call them. Now she was ready to offer her guest an
arm-chair, and even have a cushion put under his gouty feet. The two
learned men took up the two copies of the sale and purchase and compared
the contents. Then they wrote the names and the amounts of the dollars
and ducats. Both parties added their names with the same pen, and
imprinted the red seal.

"Perhaps I ought to have sealed mine in black," muttered Grazian through
his teeth, "But who can tell?"

Then both witnesses signed and sealed the document: each one took his
copy, and now it was time to pay the money. Idalia had gold and silver
brought and placed on the great oaken table. All had been packed in
casks, large and small, arranged to open at the top, and on each cask
was written the amount within.

"Do you require us to count the money, or weigh it out?" asked the Lady
of Madocsany.

"We will neither count it, nor weigh it; whoever put it in knew how to
count it, I am sure. And now I think everything is in order. Why should
any one wish to deceive me, who is neither my friend nor my relative.
There, boys, is a little drink-money for your trouble. And now close up
the casks."

And with that he put his left hand into a cask, not one of silver, but
of gold, and tossed a handful of it into the witnesses' caps, as they
lay on the floor.

"The trade is done, gracious Lady. Now I give you the key of my castle.
I shall spend the night at my agent's. By to-morrow morning, the Waag
will be firm; my lame foot feels in advance that it is going to be very
cold. You and your people can drive across in sledges, enter my towered
hen-roost, and give your own invitations to a house-warming. Store-house
and cellar are full. Now I ask one favor of you. Be so kind as to have
your servants carry these casks to my boat for me. I will go ahead and
wait for them there."

"But surely you will seal the casks with your own signet."

"What's the use of such care? These people will not deceive me, they are
not relatives of mine. They are entire strangers, who have never
received a favor from me. I can trust them."

"At your own risk."

"Now then, gracious Lady, let us shake hands for the last time. I regret
that I cannot offer you my right hand. Now we can part in peace; neither
one of us owes the other anything more in this world." And he offered
Idalia his left hand. "What account we may have to settle with each
other in the world below, Beelzebub will tell us, I suppose." With that
he pushed her hand aside violently, took his crutch in his left hand,
clapped his cap on his bald head, and without a word, limped out of the
room and did not look around until he had reached his boat.

Twelve haiduks carried the casks of money to his boat; were they all
there or not? Nobody counted. Anything more?

Then Likovay seated himself in the stern of his boat, and said to his
boatmen, "Push off."

The boat moved still more slowly than before; but what wonder, when it
was heavier by the hundredweight of silver and gold?



CHAPTER XV.

THE GRAVE OF GOLD.


Grazian Likovay's gouty leg really was a good weather-prophet; they had
hardly reached the middle of the Waag when the ice crowded around them,
and the boat was held firm amid the blocks. One of the crew, at the
peril of his life, had to cross the ice cakes to the shore, arouse the
people of the castle, and return to the boat with a long rope. By
clinging to this rope, Grazian and the crew, with the casks of gold,
were brought to shore. Here the lord of the castle was met by Master
Mathias with a troica on runners. The casks were put in, and Lord
Grazian seated himself on the driver's seat, with Master Mathias beside
him to guide the three horses.

"Knock the top out of one of the casks, my good friend, and pay the
whole household their wages for a year. The treasurer, legal adviser,
and general manager have been paid already and their goods packed up;
within an hour every living thing will be gone from here. Every one I
find staying behind will be shot down; you alone may stay with me."

"I beg your pardon for contradicting you," said Master Mathias, "but
everybody knows already how much gold we brought back from Madocsany,
and there is cause to fear that we shall be robbed if we stay alone."

"Don't worry. We'll put the whole troica into the church for the night,
and nobody can force his way in there. As soon as the moon rises, we'll
make ready the horses, take our seats in the carriage, and drive out
into the wide world toward Galicia. We have money enough, and can live
there like lords."

"But you know one cannot live by gold and silver alone; we must have
something to eat."

"That has all been prepared for. In the agent's house, we shall get our
evening meal, and provisions for the journey; here's the key. There
you'll find some choice Tokay; we will carouse on that to-day and take
what is left with us. Now get the sledge into the church."

This was done. The horses were put into the sacristy, because from their
unguarded stable they could be easily driven away. One cask of gold was
left outside, and with this Master Mathias paid the whole retinue a
year's wages; then showed them all outside the gate and locked it
behind them. After that nobody else could get into the castle, for the
keys were already at Madocsany. The cask was still not entirely empty.

"What shall I do with the rest?" asked Master Mathias.

"Put the money in your pockets, you may need it on your way."

Master Mathias did not wait to be told twice.

"No, don't kiss my hand, faithful fellow, I do not deserve it. But
listen. You are master of a thousand arts, and so I suppose you
understand masonry; bring your tools here into the church."

Master Mathias obeyed. He brought the mortar, the trowel, and the
smoothing board.

"Now pick up your tools and follow me."

Grazian led Master Mathias through the opening of the altar frame, (the
picture had been cast aside) into the secret passage-way; then to the
heavy iron door, which when opened from outside set the church bells
ringing. This door opened into the long passage-way, and at its very
beginning were two side passages. In front of one of these side passages
had been unloaded a pile of bricks. Lord Grazian threw a light into the
dark space.

"See!"

"What a frightful place," said Master Mathias, with his teeth
chattering. "What kind of women are those?"

"Bones of women, as you see."

"How did they get here?"

"They know best how they got here, but how to get away from here was
what they did not know. And yet they tried in every way, as you see.
Here they tried to break through the wall; with knives they pulled out
two and three rows of bricks, and then grew weary of the work and gave
it up. The wall is six feet through here."

"Yes, fully."

"Now then, do you know what these bricks here are for? You are to wall
up the opening of this other space."

"I can do that easily."

"But first swear to me as a good Lutheran, on the Holy Gospels, that you
will never in this life tell one word of what you have seen and heard in
this place to any living soul."

With that he drew from his pocket a small Bible, and required Master
Mathias to put his hand on the Bible and repeat the oath after him.

"Now to your work."

Out of the depths of the recess there sounded forth a sorrowful song:

"De profundis ad te clamavi, Domine----"

"Who is that?" whispered Master Mathias with a shudder.

"Take your torch and look at him."

Master Mathias threw the light of the torch into the dark space. Then he
saw Father Peter in his monk's cowl, bound, and in an upright position.
All around him were heaped up gold and silver and jewels that held him
fixed. His cowl was drawn down over his face, so that it could not be
seen.

"Father Peter!" whispered Master Mathias, turning to Lord Grazian.

"The Devil is in you that you guessed it! Yes, it really is Father
Peter."

"Who brought him here?"

"I did, with my crooked leg, and my crushed hand."

"So then he has not been killed."

"You heard him sing."

"And you wish me to wall him in?"

"Not wholly. Leave a hole in the wall, about the size of the head of a
small cask, so that he shall not suffocate."

"And who shall bring him food when we leave this country?"

"A raven of the Prophet Elias. Anything that is in the Bible is true: if
it happened once that a raven brought bread to a hungry prophet, it can
happen twice. Now to your work. You have begun this work, and you must
finish it. Do it good-naturedly, my faithful friend, or else I'll shoot
you in the head and then this one after you."

Master Mathias was all in a cold perspiration, and went to work.

"While you are doing this, I will take a little walk in this underground
paradise."

And Lord Grazian took his lantern on his maimed right arm and limped off
through the dark, winding underground passage, counting his steps as he
went. When he had counted five hundred and forty steps, he found himself
in front of that cavern where the great cask stood, all covered over
with green. He raised the cover; under this was a thick layer of wax
that he bored through with his knife. The cask contained what he had
supposed at the first glance--gunpowder.

He gathered up a little of the dust and scattered it over his torch, it
blazed up; the gunpowder had been kept dry through these centuries under
its layer of wax. Then he unbuttoned his coat, and brought out a long
cotton fuse which he had wound around his waist a number of times. With
his left hand and his teeth, he fastened this fuse to this match hanging
at the bunghole of the cask; then he walked back, drawing the fuse after
him--it was just five hundred and forty yards long. When he came to the
end, he lighted the fuse, and noted by his watch how long it took to
burn one yard--just one minute. How many hours are there in five hundred
and forty minutes? That was too much for his head; Master Mathias would
tell him.

When he returned, the wall was done, and Master Mathias was busy
smoothing it off around the open space. It was strange that Grazian had
not thought of this--what if Father Peter so walled up had made an
arrangement with Master Mathias, during Grazian's absence, and by
entreaties, threats and promises, persuaded him to make known his fate;
or had he thought of this? Was that the purpose of the fuse, or was it
for something quite different?

"Are you through, my good friend? Tell me how many times sixty goes in
five hundred and forty?"

"Six times nine make fifty-four, so nine times."

"Quite right. Six times nine makes fifty-four. The table of ones was
more than I could ever get. Yes, nine times--that is quite enough. Now I
too shall be ready soon. Do you go to the agent's house, make a good
fire on the hearth, spread the table, and prepare our supper. I will
stay here a little longer to take leave of my son."

When the major-domo had gone, Grazian went back into the church. He
lifted the casks of money from the carriage and rolled them along the
passage-way to the space just walled in. When they were all piled up
together, he stuck his hand in the opening:

"Greetings, my beloved son-in-law, Father Peter; how do you fare on your
wedding day? You have won a beautiful bride, I must acknowledge. You
shall not say you led hence my only daughter with only what she had on
her back. I will be a generous father and give her her inheritance from
both father and mother. Was ever father-in-law so good as I?"

Then he opened one of the casks and laid it with his left hand on his
wounded right arm. He smothered the pain that this caused him and shook
the silver shower of dollars down into the cavern; he did the same with
all the casks that contained silver money.

"This was your portion from her mother; now comes the dowry from her
father."

And he brought forth the casks full of gold, and poured their costly
contents over the head of his son-in-law. The heaps of money came up to
the victim's shoulders, only his head was still free.

"Miserere, mei Domine----" resounded from the lips of the man buried
alive in gold.

"Ha, ha," laughed Lord Grazian, "so you want a song. Shall I
sing you one? How do you like this: 'Gemitus mortis,--dolores
inferni--circumdederunt me. Perhaps you like this better:--'Yesterday I
went to town and heard the matins read. Now the priest who read the
matins has become my lover'--You don't want any more of that, then
here's one: 'In paradisum ne ducant te angeli--Kyrie eleison'--ha ha ha!"

Then he seized his torch and hobbled off through the passage, continuing
to mix popular songs with litany.

That diabolical laughter was the last sound of the night in this
subterranean cavern.



CHAPTER XVI.

THE FEAST OF DEATH.


This Master Mathias was a very clever man--more clever than all the
rest.

"I have been made the receiver of a secret, so strong that it will eat
its way through the walls that hold it. It's true I have sworn on the
Gospel that I will not betray it to anybody; but how can Lord Grazian
believe me altogether, when he does not believe the Gospel? I am
inclined to think he would have much more confidence in a dead man. And
how easy it is to make a dead man out of a living one! Just a taste of
meat with something good on it--one swallow of a carefully prepared
drink--and then a peaceful good night. One does not need to defend
himself against a dead man."

Master Mathias thought of this while he cut the meat that he found in
the house, set the wine on the table and wiped off the plates. He had
thought out a plan. In the house there was still one living creature, a
hunting dog; he called him in, gave him some meat and bread; and the dog
swallowed all. Then he gave him a bowl of wine; the dog drank this too,
and nothing happened. So then neither drink nor food contained any
poison that would kill instantly, and later--why he would watch
carefully my Lord Grazian's hands.

He had to wait some time for him to finish putting away the gold, then
suddenly the ghostly bell rang out, a sign that some one was near the
door of the underground passage. Lord Grazian staggered out of the
church. The bears were not in the garden any more, their hides were
hanging on the hedge; their master had had them skinned the day before,
as a reward for their faithless watching.

"The ghosts have been ringing again," growled out Master Mathias, as
Lord Grazian entered.

"Never mind, they have done it for the last time," said Lord Grazian,
sitting down at the table. His feet were encased in large, high Polish
boots, in the legs of which were all kinds of tools; out of one he
brought a knife in a silver case and his two-tined fork. A real lord
never puts a stranger's table-silver to his mouth. Out of the other leg
he brought a gold drinking cup in tortoise-shell case, the "bratina"
that can be drained at one swallow.

"Now, my good servant, prepare yours, and prepare mine; you see I have
but one arm."

Master and servant sat down opposite each other, and ate from one dish.
The master had good reason to be hungry, for he had not tasted a
mouthful since early morning. The dog went from one to the other,
wagging his tail; neither food nor drink seemed to have hurt him any.

"Now then, my good fellow, let us both drink out of this 'bratina';
first I and then you. Do you see that is the advantage of a 'bratina',
because the master of the house cannot poison his guests, as is the
custom with foreigners. For with us the cup goes round, and all drink
from one cup,--first of all the master."

Lord Grazian filled the cup and drained it off--

"To your health, my faithful servant!"

Then he passed the cup, and Master Mathias too drained it.

"To your health, my beloved master!"

Then followed in turn the customary toasts. "To the health of the happy
bride!" "May God give long life to the brave bridegroom!" "Long life to
the beautiful Lady of Madocsany!" And so the cup went back and forth with
toasts to friends and foes until there was nothing left to be said.

Meantime the moon had risen and shone through the window. The Lord
Grazian said to Master Mathias:

"Why, my good follow, you have a married daughter."

"True, she lives in Tepla, poor soul. Yes, over there."

"How many children has she?"

"Six."

"You have not drunk to their health yet, have you?"

"On my soul, no."

"Don't drink any more, my dear fellow, you've drunk enough already. And
that not only for to-day, but for your whole life. You are a dead man
already, and so am I. This 'bratina' that we have been drinking out of,
was poisoned with an Italian poison that goes by the clock. You have two
hours left to live. So get yourself together and go on your way; the ice
is firm, you can go over to Tepla to your daughter. Then you can go to
bed, send for a priest, and make your will, and you will at least have
somebody to close your eyes."

That was the end of the comedy.

Master Mathias sprang up in terror, his hair on end. He began already to
feel the pangs of approaching death. With a curse he dashed out of the
room, leaving behind his bag of gold, and goaded by torture, rushed out
through the castle gate over the ice-covered Waag.

Lord Grazian filled his beaker again and again with wine; and drank and
drank--all sole alone. In his heart he offered toasts to all who had
received good from him and returned evil, and then again to those who
had done him favors, returned only by evil. Every cup was a new draught
of poison, though so compounded that it acted slowly. Lord Grazian must
make haste, for he wished to fulfil his word made to the Lady of
Madocsany--"I swear to you that Father Peter shall live longer than I."



CHAPTER XVII.

ALL IS OVER.


Idalia could not sleep that night. Satisfied revenge brings no sweet
sleep! Frightful visions chased through her brain, in which the
distorted faces of her disgraced victims haunted her. There is a maiden
in a boat that the ice flood sweeps along, her cry is borne on the wind;
and that man?--it is the one to whom Idalia has prayed, whom she has
lost, and now she would give him over to neither man nor devil.

The beautiful woman had many stately rooms, and yet there was not space
enough for her. Long since had she wept through them all. Back and forth
she went to the balcony and blew her breath on the panes in warm rings
through which she could look out at the Waag. A great waste field of ice
stretched out before her, reaching from Mitosin Castle to Madocsany; the
moon lighted up a landscape still as death; about three o'clock in the
morning, as she gazed out from her balcony over the wide waste, like a
mad woman, it suddenly seemed to her as if a black spot moved over
there and came nearer and nearer the castle; as it came nearer, it
proved to be the figure of a man; the nearer it approached, stumbling
among the ice blocks, the more evident became its purpose to come
straight to the castle. It was somebody from Mitosin! Idalia wakened her
people and gave orders to carry out a stretcher and help the man who was
with difficulty struggling through the ice, and bring him to the castle.
This man was Master Mathias. When brought before Idalia, his face was
hardly recognizable, it was so blue with frost and pain, and its
features were so distorted.

"I came from Mitosin," he gasped out, sinking down upon the bearskin
before the fire where they had laid him.

"Bring him a cup of warm wine," ordered the lady.

"No, no! no more wine," he groaned, "leave us alone. I have had enough
of that."

When left alone with the lady of the castle, he wrung her hands and sank
upon his knees.

"For God's sake, save me, most gracious Lady, I entreat you!"

"What ails you?"

"The Lord of Mitosin has poisoned me and himself too. May God punish him
for it. Help me, or I must die."

"How can I help you?"

"Don't begrudge me that. You know very well I have been poisoned by a
drinking cup, although there was no poison to be seen in it. They say
that when you poisoned your husband, you did the same thing: you drank
from the same cup with him, so as not to excite his suspicions, and
drank the poison; but after he died, you went aside and took the
antidote. You lived and he died."

"You're mad!"

"No, I am not. Give me the antidote. You know the secret. If you set me
free, I'll tell you a secret you will not be sorry to hear."

"What secret is that?"

"The secret where Father Peter is now."

At this name, the lady sprang toward Master Mathias, raised him up from
the bearskin, and laid him on a couch.

"What, you know where he is! Is he still alive?"

"Yes, he is, and no harm has been done yet!"

"Where is he?"

"Give me the antidote quickly."

"No, no; there is time yet. I must have the secret first, there is no
escape for you until then."

Large drops of sweat stood out on the brow of the tortured man.

"My master made me promise on the Holy Gospels that I would not betray
it to any body. I shall go to Hell for this."

"You'll go there anyway. The question is whether you will go sooner or
later. If you tell me what you know, the devils will have to wait for
you; if you keep it to yourself, you'll have to go at once. Speak at
once or die."

"You'll surely give me the medicine?"

"Yes, there you have it now. While you were speaking, I dropped it into
your mouth. I carry it with me always in the stone of my ring. See how
green it is, gleaming in the darkness; if I should give you all of it,
you would live a hundred years longer."

The poor fellow in the agony of death told all. When he spoke of the
chamber of the dead, and of the cavern of treasure, Idalia was convinced
that he spoke the truth. No one who had not been there and seen them
could know of these places.

"Good," she said, "now take this. Go home to Tepla to your daughter, and
say nothing of what you know."

But what the beautiful lady really gave Master Mathias was anything but
an antidote; it was a still more active poison, so there should be no
time for him to communicate his secret to a third.

When Master Mathias had dragged himself to Tepla to his daughter's
house, his tongue hardly moved in his throat, and he could only stammer:
"Father Peter--walled in--under-ground--with treasures--in
Mitosin--still alive--I am undone." More he could not say; by the time
the priest came, he was already dead.

       *       *       *       *       *

Idalia was left alone with the secret she had extorted. Suddenly her old
passion blazed up again to its full height like a column of fire. Her
beloved was still alive; he was only buried, walled in deep
underground,--abandoned by God and man, left to the company of the
corpses, with no sound save those of the silent night; robbed of his
loved one, betrayed in despair, with nobody to expect but grim death.
What if somebody should go down to him in this frightful grave, and
should look at him through that small opening; would not such a
countenance seem like that of an angel looking down from Heaven? Would
he not look upon her as a goddess who should bring him up from the
depths of the grave into God's world again? Would it be possible for him
not to yield to the force of that love which opens graves even, and will
not leave him to God or the devil?

She did not hesitate long, but threw her black cloak around her
shoulders, placed a dagger and a sword at her belt, and looked for a
strong axe: "It will be convenient," she thought, "to break through the
heavy walls." She lighted her lantern, and stole out of the castle.

Toward morning, a thick fog had settled over the place, so that nobody
saw which way she went. In fact nobody ever knew which way she had gone.

About six o'clock that morning, the whole country was aroused by a
frightful underground explosion convulsing the earth. Towers fell,
castles rocked, the Jesuit monastery fell in, and Mitosin Chapel was
reduced to a heap of stones.

Those who were awake at the time maintained that they saw a giant column
rise up from the middle of the Waag and blaze on high. The clouds of
smoke were visible for some time through the fog, and seemed like an
army of darkness. The broken ice began to heave and roll violently, not
only forward, but in all directions, overspreading the valley and
sweeping away before it villages and forests.

After the flood had subsided and the Waag returned to its bed, evil
traces were left behind in thick layers of round pebbles; for the Waag
is not like those friendly rivers which when they overflow cover the
earth with a fertile deposit.

In the excitement over the disturbance of the elements, people forgot
the frightful family history that had just been enacted in the two
castles. A few days later, relatives of the Likovay family found the
body of Lord Grazian in the agent's quarters of the castle. The swollen
flood had not forced its way there; but not one stone upon another was
left of the little church. The devastating explosion had opened a way
through this for the streaming flood of waters, whose irresistible
current ground stone and wood to powder.

The same fate met the statue of Nepomeck at Madocsany. The Hussite
passage was filled with stones, and the flood took its path from there
over the country.

It was not for a long, long time that the members of the Likovay family
began to inquire what had become of the treasure that Lord Grazian had
received from the Lady of Madocsany for his estate; but never a trace of
it was found.

And the whole of this story, from beginning to end, is a true story. The
dates are kept in the family archives: and on the lips of the people the
name of Father Peter still lives. The place is often visited by
earthquakes, and at such times they say, "Father Peter has turned over
in his grave." And every time that Mitosin Castle and estate is
transferred to a new purchaser, it is stipulated in the contract, that
if the buried treasure is found, it shall be given back to its rightful
owners. But the people say that the treasure will never be found, until
Father Peter has been set free from his living grave; and this may be
true.



Other Books Uniform with this Volume

What's Bred in the Bone                     Grant Allen
The Desire of the Eyes                      Grant Allen
The Wooing O't                              Mrs. Alexander
Her Dearest Foe                             Mrs. Alexander
Lorna Doone                                 Blackmore
Auld Licht Idylls and A Window in Thrums    J. M. Barrie
An Auld Licht Manse                         J. M. Barrie
A Living Lie                                Paul Bourget
When the World was Younger                  Miss M. E. Braddon
The Golden Butterfly                        Besant & Rice
A Son of Hagar                              Hall Caine
The Bondman                                 Hall Caine
The Deemster                                Hall Caine
The Shadow of a Crime                       Hall Caine
The Moonstone                               Wilkie Collins
Wooed and Married                           Rosa N. Carey
Not Like Other Girls                        Rosa N. Carey
Pretty Miss Neville                         B. M. Croker
Beyond The Pale                             B. M. Croker
Crime of the Boulevard                      Jules Claretie
A Galloway Herd                             S. R. Crockett
A Romance of Two Worlds                     Marie Corelli
Vendetta                                    Marie Corelli
Wormwood                                    Marie Corelli
Thelma                                      Marie Corelli
Ardath                                      Marie Corelli
The Three Musketeers                        Alexandre Dumas
Twenty Years After                          Alexandre Dumas
Vicomte de Bragelonne                       Alexandre Dumas
Louise de la Valliere                       Alexandre Dumas
Ten Years Later                             Alexandre Dumas
The Man in the Iron Mask                    Alexandre Dumas
Two Years Before the Mast                   R. H. Dana, Jr.
The Professor's Experiment                  The Duchess
A Step Aside                                Charlotte Dunning
Some Women's Ways                           Mary A. Dickens
Not in the Prospectus                       Parke Danforth
The White Company                           A. Conan Doyle
Micah Clarke                                A. Conan Doyle
The Firm of Girdlestone                     A. Conan Doyle
The Captain of the Pole Star                A. Conan Doyle
The Mystery of Cloomber                     A. Conan Doyle
Strange Secrets                             A. Conan Doyle
The Betrayal of John Fordham                B. L. Farjeon
Borderland                                  Jessie Fothergill
Kith and Kin                                Jessie Fothergill
One of Three                                Jessie Fothergill
Peril                                       Jessie Fothergill
The Wellfields                              Jessie Fothergill
Probation                                   Jessie Fothergill
The First Violin                            Jessie Fothergill
Nihilist Princess                           M. T. Gagneur
Cranford                                    Mrs. Gaskell
Woodlanders                                 Thomas Hardy
Two On a Tower                              Thomas Hardy
Far From the Madding Crowd                  Thomas Hardy
The Arundel Motto                           Mary Cecil Hay
For Her Dear Sake                           Mary Cecil Hay
Nora's Love Test                            Mary Cecil Hay
Old Myddleton's Money                       Mary Cecil Hay
A Maiden's Choice                           W. Heimburg
Magdalen's Fortunes                         W. Heimburg
Defiant Hearts                              W. Heimburg
Two Daughters of One Race                   W. Heimburg
A Fatal Misunderstanding                    W. Heimburg
Lucie's Mistake                             W. Heimburg
The Dagger and the Cross                    Joseph Hatton
A Girl of the Commune                       G. A. Henty
The Queerest Man Alive                      George H. Hepworth
Jasper Fairfax                              Margoret Holmes
Tempest and Sunshine                        Mary J. Holmes
Homestead on the Hillside                   Mary J. Holmes
English Orphans                             Mary J. Holmes
Lena Rivers                                 Mary J. Holmes
Peter the Priest                            Maurus Jokai
The Golden Age of Transylvania              Maurus Jokai
Westward Ho                                 Charles Kingsley
Hypatia                                     Charles Kingsley
Phantom 'Rickshaw                           Rudyard Kipling
In Black and White and Story of             Rudyard Kipling
    the Gadsbys
Wee Willie Winkie and American Notes        Rudyard Kipling
Ballads, Poems and Other Verses             Rudyard Kipling
Under the Deodars and City of the           Rudyard Kipling
    Dreadful Night
Plain Tales Prom the Hills                  Rudyard Kipling
The Light That Failed                       Rudyard Kipling
Soldiers Three                              Rudyard Kipling
Mine Own People                             Rudyard Kipling
Madame Sans Gene                            Edmond Lepelletier
Ramuntcho                                   Pierre Loti
Guilty Bonds                                Wm. Le Queux
Strange Tales of a Nihilist                 Wm. Le Queux
Gold Elsie                                  E. Marlitt
Old Mam'sell's Secret                       E. Marlitt
Daireen                                     F. Frankfort Moors
A New Note                                  Ella MacMahon
Lindsay's Girl                              Mrs. Herbert Martin
An Old Maid's Love                          Maarten Maartens
The Cedar Star                              Mary E. Mann
The Man Who Was Good                        Leonard Merrick
A Daughter of the Philistines               Leonard Merrick
A Soldier of Fortune                        L. T. Meade
The King's Assegai                          Bertram Mitford
Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush                Ian MacLaren
Matrimony                                   W. E. Norris
The Story of a Governess                    Mrs. Oliphant
Under Two Flags                             Ouida
The Massarenes                              Ouida
The Splendid Spur                           "Q" (A. T. Quiller Couch)
Warren Hyde                                 Helen Riemensnyder
What Cheer                                  W. Clark Russell
The Lady Maud                               W. Clark Russell
The Wreck of the Grosvenor                  W. Clark Russell
Cloister and the Hearth                     Charles Reade
Forced Acquaintances                        Edith Robinson
Sheba                                       Rita
Kitty                                       Rita
After Bread and On the Sunny Shore          Henryk Sienkeiwicz
Dragon's Teeth                              Translated by Mary Serrano
The Heart of a Mystery                      T. W. Speight
Robert Urquhart                             Gabriel Setoun
New Arabian Nights                          Robert Louis Stevenson
Treasure Island                             Robert Louis Stevenson
Kidnapped                                   Robert Louis Stevenson
The Crystal Button                          Chauncey Thomas
Jack Horner                                 Mary S. Tiernan
Homoselle                                   Mary S. Tiernan
Captain Antifer                             Jules Verne
On the Winning Side                         Mrs. J. H. Walworth
Uncle Scipio                                Mrs. J. H. Walworth
The Wide, Wide World                        Susan Warner



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       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's note:

   This book, as originally published, did not have a table of contents.
   A table of contents has been created for this electronic edition.





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