The horrible figure came nearer and nearer, and it could now be clearly discerned. Full moonlight fell on the armor he was garbed in and made it, as well as the high helmet with waving plumes, glitter brightly. A long mantle fell from his shoulders down to his high riding boots, half hiding his fearful figure. Could this be a human creature? No, impossible! No living man could be as enormous as that. With measured steps the apparition walked silently towards the pine trees. Here the three singers stood horror-stricken, not uttering a sound.
Lux, like one crazed, suddenly rushed headlong away between the trees and down the hill. Clevi once more looked at the approaching figure with wide-open eyes. Before following her brother she wanted to see exactly what the knight looked like.
Kurt was left quite alone, and still the fearful creature stalked nearer. With a desperate leap he sprang to one side and left the woods abruptly. Hurrying towards the meadow, he ran down the mountain, leaped over first one hedge and then a second. Then he flew on till he stood in the little garden at home where a peaceful light from the living-room seemed to greet him.
Breathing deeply, he ran in and his mother met him at the door.
“Oh, is it you, Kurt?” she said kindly. “But you are a little late after all. Was it so hard to leave the beautiful moonlight? Or was it such fun rushing about? But, Kurt, you are entirely out of breath. Come sit down a moment with me. After that you have to go to bed; all the others have gone already.”
Usually Kurt would have adored being able to sit alone with his mother and have all her attention directed towards him. This he could not enjoy now. Might not his mother ask him further details about his walk? So he said that he preferred to go to bed right away, and his mother understood that he was glad to get to rest after running about so ceaselessly. Only when Kurt lay safely and quietly in bed could he think over what had happened and how cowardly he had acted.
After all, his mother had clearly told him that there was no ghost in Wildenstein. Whom then, had he seen in armor and helmet and with a long mantle? It could not have been Mr. Trius, because he was a short, stout person, whereas the apparition was a tree-high figure. Might it be a sentinel at the castle who was ordered to go about? May be the old castle-barons had always wished an armed sentinel to keep watch. If only he had not run away! He could have let the sentinel walk up to him and then he could have told him of his intention. The sentinel could only have been pleased by his endeavor to get rid of such an old superstition. If only he had not run away!
Oh, yes, now that Kurt was safely under cover and Bruno’s breathing beside him spoke of his big brother’s nearness, it seemed easy enough to act bravely! If only he had done it! The thing he could not explain to himself was how anybody could be so horribly tall. That was hardly credible. Kurt felt at bottom quite sure that it was impossible for anybody to look like that.