Amazed at this sudden change, Mrs. Maxa was silent for a while. How she would have rejoiced at this prospect a few days ago!
“I love Leonore like my own child and wanted nothing better than to keep her with me,” she said finally, “but I think differently now. The children belong to you, and the castle of their fathers must become their home. You must let Leonore surround you with her delightful and soothing personality, which is sure to make you happy. When you come to know her you will soon realize of what I should have robbed you. There is no necessity at all for the castle to remain forlorn and empty. Despite the loss of our dear loved ones, the life here can again become as pleasant as in former times. Your mother always hoped that this would happen at her eldest son’s return, as she had desired that his home should remain unchanged even after her death. Leonore can have her quarters in your mother’s rooms.”
“I wonder if you would like to see the rooms you knew so well, Mrs. Maxa,” the Baron said slowly.
Mrs. Maxa gladly assented to this.
“May I go everywhere?” she asked. “I know my way so well.”
“Certainly, wherever you wish,” the Baron replied.
Entering the large hall, Mrs. Maxa was filled with deep emotion. Here she had spent the most beautiful days of her childhood in delicious games with the unforgettable Leonore and the two young Barons. Everything was as it had been then. The large stone table in the middle, the stone benches on the walls and the niches with the old knights of Wallerstaetten stood there as of yore.
When she went into the dining-hall, everything looked bare and empty. The portraits of ancestors had been taken from the walls and the glinting pewter plates and goblets were gone from the large oaken sideboard. Mrs. Maxa shook her head.
Going up the stairs, she decided first of all to go to the Baron’s rooms, for she wondered what care he was receiving. Rigid with consternation, she stopped under the doorway. What a room it was! Not the tiniest picture was on the wall and not a single small rug lay on the uneven boards. Nothing but an empty bedstead, an old wicker chair and a table which had plainly been dragged there from the servants’ quarters, comprised the furniture. Mrs. Maxa looked again to make sure that it was really the Baron’s room. There was no doubt of it, it was the balcony room in the tower. Where did the Baron sleep?
As the sight proved more than she could bear, she quickly sought the late Baroness’ chamber. Here, too, everything was empty and the red plush-covered chairs and the sofa in the corner over which all the pictures of the children used to hang were gone. Only an empty bedstead stood in the corner.