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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Nameless Castle - Part 6. Death And New Life In The Nameless Castle - Chapter 2
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The Nameless Castle - Part 6. Death And New Life In The Nameless Castle - Chapter 2 Post by :magicmanny Category :Long Stories Author :Maurus Jokai Date :May 2012 Read :1082

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The Nameless Castle - Part 6. Death And New Life In The Nameless Castle - Chapter 2


When a sacrifice is demanded by one's fatherland, it becomes the duty of every true patriot to offer himself as the victim.

Consequently, Herr Vice-palatine Bernat Goeroemboelyi von Dravakeresztur did not hesitate to immolate himself on the sacrificial altar when his attention was directed by his superior to Section 1 of Article II. in the laws enacted by the Diet in the year 1808. Said clause required the vice-palatine to call in person on those "high and mighty persons" who, instead of appearing with their horses at the _Lustrations_,--according to Section 17 of Article III.,--preferred to send the fine of fifty marks for non-attendance.

Among these absentees from the county meetings was Count Ludwig Vavel.

The Vice-palatine's task was to teach these refractories, through patriotic reasoning, to amend their ways. The sacrifice attendant upon the performance of this duty was that Herr Bernat would be obliged, during his official visit to the Nameless Castle, to abstain from smoking.

But duty is duty, and he decided to do it. He preceded his call at the castle by a letter to Count Vavel, in which he explained, with satisfaction to himself, the cause of his hasty retreat on the occasion of his former visit, and also announced his projected official attendance upon the Herr Count on the following day.

He arrived at the castle in due time; and Count Vavel, who wished to make amends for his former rudeness to so important a personage, greeted him with great cordiality.

"The Herr Count has been ill, I understand?" began Herr Bernat, when greetings had been exchanged.

"I have not been ill--at least, not to my knowledge," smilingly responded the count.

"Indeed? I fancied you must be ill because you did not attend the Lustrations, but sent the fine instead."

"May I ask if many persons attended the meeting?" asked Count Vavel.

"Quite a number of the lesser magnates were present; the more important nobles were conspicuous by their absence. I attributed this failure to appear at the Lustrations to Section I of Article III. of the militia law, which prohibits the noble militiaman from wearing gold or silver ornamentation on his uniform. This inhibition, you must know, is intended to prevent emulation in splendor of decoration among our own people, and also to restrain the rapacity of the enemy."

"Then you imagine, Herr Vice-palatine, that I do not attend the meetings because I am not permitted to wear gold buttons and cords on my coat?" smilingly queried the count.

"I confess I cannot think of any other reason, Herr Count."

"Then I will tell you the true one," rather haughtily rejoined Count Vavel, believing that his visitor was inclined to be sarcastic. "I do not attend your meetings because I look upon the entire law as a jest--mere child's play. It begins with the mental reservation, 'The Hungarian noble militia will be called into service _only in case of imminent danger of an attack from a foreign enemy, and then only if the attacking army be so powerful that the regular imperial troops shall be unable to withstand it!' That the enemy is the more powerful no commander-in-chief finds out until he has been thoroughly whipped! The mission of the Hungarian noble militia, therefore, is to move into the field--untrained for service--when the regular troops find they cannot cope with a superior foe! This is utterly ridiculous! And, moreover, what sort of an organization must that be in which 'all nobles who have an income of more than three thousand guilders shall become cavalry soldiers, those having less shall become foot-soldiers'? The money-bag decides the question between cavalry and infantry! Again, 'every village selects its own trooper, and equips him.' A fine squadron they will make! And to think of sending such a crew into the field against soldiers who have won their epaulets under the baptismal fires of battle! Again, to wage war requires money first of all; and this fact has been entirely ignored by the authorities. You have no money, gentlemen; do you propose that the noble militia host shall march only so long as the supply of food in their knapsacks holds out? Are they to return home when the provisions shall have given out? Never fear, Herr Vice-palatine! when it becomes necessary to shoulder arms and march against the enemy, I shall be among the first to respond to the first call. But I have no desire to be even a spectator of a comedy, much less take part in one. But let us not discuss this farce any further. I fancy, Herr Vice-palatine, we may be able to find a more sensible subject for discussion. There is a quiet little nook in this old castle where are to be found some excellent wines, and some of the best latakia you--"

"What?" with lively interest interrupted the vice-palatine. "Latakia? Why, that is tobacco."

"Certainly--and Turkish tobacco, too, at that!" responded Count Vavel. "Come, we will retire to this nook, empty one glass after another, enjoy a smoke, and tell anecdotes without end!"

"Then you do smoke, Herr Count?"

"Certainly; but I never smoke anywhere but in the nook before mentioned, and never in the clothes I wear ordinarily."

"Aha!--that a certain person may not detect the fumes, eh?"

"You have guessed it."

"Then there is not an atom of truth in the reports malicious tongues have spread abroad about you, for I know very well that a certain lady has not the least objection to tobacco smoke. I do not refer to the Herr Count's donna who lives here in the castle--you may be sure I shall take good care not to ask any more questions about _her_. No; I am not talking about that one, but about the other one, who has puzzled me a good deal of late. She takes the Herr Count's part everywhere, and is always ready to defend you. Had she not assured me that I might with perfect safety venture to call here again, I should have sent my secretary to you with the _Sigillum compulsorium_. I tell you, Herr Count, ardent partizanship of that sort from the other donna looks a trifle suspicious!"

The count laughed, then said:

"Herr Vice-palatine, you remind me of the critic who, at the conclusion of a concert, said to a gentleman near whom he was standing: 'Who is that lady who sings so frightfully out of tune?' 'The lady is my wife.' 'Ah, I did not mean the one who sang, but the lady who accompanied her on the piano--the one who performs so execrably.' 'That lady is my sister.' 'I beg a thousand pardons! I made a mistake; it is the music, the composition, that is so horrible. I wonder who composed it?' 'I did.'"

Herr Bernat was charmed--completely vanquished. This count not only smoked: he could also relate an anecdote! Truly he was a man worth knowing--a gentleman from crown to sole.

Toward the conclusion of the excellent dinner, to which Herr Bernat did ample justice, he ventured to propose a toast:

"I cannot refrain, Herr Count, from drinking to the welfare of this castle's mistress; and since I do not know whether there be one or two, I lift a glass in each hand. Vivant!"

Without a word the count likewise raised two glasses, and drained first one, then the other, leaving not enough liquor in either to "wet his finger-nail."

By the time the meal was over Herr Bernat was in a most generous mood; and when he took leave of his agreeable host, he assured him that the occupants of the Nameless Castle might always depend on the protection and good will of the vice-palatine.

Count Vavel waited until his guest was out of sight; then he changed his clothes, and when the regular dinner-hour arrived joined Marie, as usual, in the dining-room, to enjoy with her the delicate snail-soup and other dainties.

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The Nameless Castle - Part 6. Death And New Life In The Nameless Castle - Chapter 3 The Nameless Castle - Part 6. Death And New Life In The Nameless Castle - Chapter 3

The Nameless Castle - Part 6. Death And New Life In The Nameless Castle - Chapter 3
PART VI. DEATH AND NEW LIFE IN THE NAMELESS CASTLE CHAPTER IIIAt last war was declared; but it brought only days of increased unhappiness and discontent to the tiger imprisoned in his cage at the Nameless Castle--as if burning oil were being poured into his open wounds. The snail-like movements of the Austrian army had put an end to the appearance of the apocalyptic destroying angel. Ludwig Vavel waited like the tiger crouched in ambush, ready to spring forth at the sound of his watchword, and heard at last what he had least expected to hear. The single-headed eagle had not

The Nameless Castle - Part 6. Death And New Life In The Nameless Castle - Chapter 1 The Nameless Castle - Part 6. Death And New Life In The Nameless Castle - Chapter 1

The Nameless Castle - Part 6. Death And New Life In The Nameless Castle - Chapter 1
PART VI. DEATH AND NEW LIFE IN THE NAMELESS CASTLE CHAPTER ISince Count Vavel had ceased to take outdoor exercise, he had renewed his fencing practice with Henry, who was also an expert swordsman. In a room on the ground floor of the castle, whence the clashing of steel could not penetrate to Marie's apartments, the two men, master and man, would fight their friendly battles twice daily, and with such vigor that their bodies (as they wore no plastrons) were covered with scratches and bruises. One morning the count waited in vain for Henry to make his appearance in the