“How queer!” said Sahwah. “I never heard of a will like that! What a strange man your uncle must have been!”
“Oh, Uncle Jasper had nothing whatever to do with it,” replied Nyoda. “He never even mentioned the Kaiser in his will.”
“Then why can’t you get rid of him?” asked Sahwah, mystified.
“Because it would break old Hercules’ heart,” answered Nyoda. “Hercules was Uncle Jasper’s coachman all his life and grew old and white-haired in his service. When Uncle Jasper died he provided in his will that Hercules was to be retired on full wages and to continue living in the room over the stable that had been his home for fifty years. Hercules owned this goat, which he had brought up ‘by hand,’ and it was the delight of his heart. He begged me with tears in his eyes to let him keep it, so what could I do but give them both my blessing and submit meekly to the outrages of the beast? My poor rose vine!” she finished ruefully, looking at the torn twigs and branches which lay on the ground in the ruins of the trellis.
Then she suddenly threw back her head and laughed loud and long. “I was born under the sign of Capricornus, the Goat,” she said, overcome with amusement. “It’s sheer fatality that I should be tied up to the Kaiser. Who shall dispute the will of the gods?
“Come, Veronica, give us some music on the violin before we go to bed.”
They returned to the long parlor where the mellow candle light shone softly on the harp and on an old-fashioned picture which hung above it. It was an oil painting, a portrait of a young girl in a short-waisted white satin dress, clasping in her hands a red rose. The face was small and vivacious, and the bright brown eyes seemed to look straight into the eyes of the girls as they stood before the picture.
“Who is the girl in the picture, Nyoda?” asked Sahwah, whose eyes had been drawn irresistibly to the portrait ever since she had been in the room.
“That is the portrait of Elizabeth Carver,” replied Nyoda. “She was the daughter of Alexander Carver, the man who built this house. I was named after her. That harp was hers, likewise the bed in which you are going to sleep, Sahwah. She was a young girl at the time of the Revolution, and her father and both her brothers fought in the war, as well as the man she was to marry. There is a story about her in Uncle Jasper’s history of the Carver family, how she saved her lover from the Indians. This valley was the scene of many skirmishes between the Colonial troops and the Indians, who had taken sides with the British. He had come to pay her a visit when his horse was shot under him by an Iroquois scout, and, stunned by the fall, he lay motionless on the ground, when a whole band of Iroquois, returning from the massacre of Wyoming, poured over the hilltop directly above them. Elizabeth took one look at the approaching Indians and then she lifted her Paul on to her own horse and galloped away to safety with the whole pack whooping at her heels. That is the tale of Elizabeth Carver, my namesake.”