When we had grown more composed, Yolanda explained to me her hopes regarding the French king’s answer to the altered missive, and the whole marvellous possibilities of the letter “t” dawned upon my mind. The princess bent over the parchment, watching our mighty “t” while the ink was drying, but the process was too slow for her, so she filled her cheeks and breathed upon the writing. The color returned to her face while I watched her, and I felt that committing a forgery was a small price to pay for witnessing so beautiful a sight. Yolanda’s breath soon dried the ink, and then we examined my work. I had performed wonders. The keenest eye could not detect the alteration. Yolanda, as usual, sprang from the deepest purgatory of trouble to the seventh heaven of joy. She ran about the room, singing, dancing, and laughing, until the duchess warned her to be quiet. Then she placed her hand over her mouth, shrugged her shoulders, walked on tiptoe, and spoke only in whispers. Margaret smiled affectionately at Yolanda’s childish antics and said:—
“I think the conspirators should disperse. I hope, Sir Karl, that I may soon meet you in due form. Meantime, of course, it is best that we do not know each other.”
After examining the missive for the twentieth time, Yolanda placed it in its pouch and turned to the duchess.
“Take it, mother, to the iron box, and I will lead Sir Karl back to Uncle Castleman’s,” she said.
The duchess graciously offered me a goblet of wine, and after I had drunk, Yolanda led me down the stairway to the House under the Wall. While descending Yolanda called my attention to a loose stone in the wall of the staircase.
“The other end of this stone,” she said, “penetrates the wall of the room that you and Sir Max occupied the night before you were liberated. The mortar has fallen away, and it was here that I spoke to you and told you not to fear.”
Here was another supernatural marvel all too easily explained.
That evening after supper Max and I walked over to Castleman’s. The evening was cool, and we were sitting in the great parlor talking with Castleman and Twonette when Yolanda entered. The room was fully fifty feet long, and extended across the entire front of the house. A huge chimney was built at the east end of the room, and on either side of the fireplace was a cushioned bench. A similar bench extended across the entire west end of the room. When Yolanda entered she ran to me and took my hand.
“Come, Sir Karl, I want to speak with you,” she said.
She led me to the west end of the room, sat down on the cushioned bench, and drew in her skirts that I might sit close beside her.