“I can shout very loud, just listen: ’Mr. Castle-Steward’!”
“No, I won’t do it,” said Lippo again, after scrutinizing the unusual performance.
She went with folded hands from one bed to the other.
Before following her brother she wanted to see exactly what the Knight looked like.
He shook the little girl’s hand with all his might.
“Can you guess why I am taking you up there?”
A head was raised up and two sharp eyes were directed towards her.
It seemed to crown all the preceding pleasures to roam without restraint in the woods and meadows.
For nearly twenty years the fine old castle had stood silent and deserted on the mountain-side. In its neighborhood not a sound could be heard except the twittering of the birds and the soughing of the old pine-trees. On bright summer evenings the swallows whizzed as before about the corner gables, but no more merry eyes looked down from the balconies to the green meadows and richly laden apple trees in the valley.
But just now two merry eyes were searchingly raised to the castle from the meadow below, as if they might discover something extraordinary behind the fast-closed shutters.
“Mea, come quick,” the young spy exclaimed excitedly, “look! Now it’s opening.” Mea, who was sitting on the bench under the large apple tree, with a book, put aside the volume and came running.
“Look, look! Now it’s moving,” her brother continued with growing suspense. “It’s the arm of a black coat; wait, soon the whole shutter will be opened.”
At this moment a black object lifted itself and soared up to the tower.
“It was only a bird, a large black-bird,” said the disappointed Mea. “You have called me at least twenty times already; every time you think that the shutters will open, and they never do. You can call as often as you please from now on, I shall certainly not come again.”
“I know they will open some day,” the boy asserted firmly, “only we can’t tell just when; but it might be any time. If only stiff old Trius would answer the questions we ask him! He knows everything that is going on up there. But the old crosspatch never says a word when one comes near him to talk; all he does is to come along with his big stick. He naturally doesn’t want anybody to know what is happening up there, but everybody in school knows that a ghost wanders about and sighs through the pine trees.”
“Mother has said more than once that nothing is going on there at all. She doesn’t want you to talk about the ghost with the school-children, and she has asked you not to try to find out what they know about it. You know, too, that mother wants you to call the castle watchman Mr. Trius and not just Trius.”