Count Vavel was not the only one who cherished a hatred of this sort; it was felt all over Europe. What was happening in those days could be learned only through the English newspapers. Liberty of speech was prohibited throughout the entire continent. Only an indiscreet correspondent would trust his secret to the post; and Ludwig Vavel only by the exercise of extreme caution could learn from his banker in Holland what was necessary for him to know. Through this medium he learned of the general discontent with the methods of the all-powerful one. He learned of the plans of the Philadelphia Club, which counted among its members renowned officers in the army of France. He heard that a number of distinguished Frenchmen had offered their services and swords to the foreign imperial army against their own hated emperor. He heard of the dissatisfied murmuring among the French people against the frightful waste of human life, the never-ending intrigues, the approaching shadows of the coalition.
All this he heard there in the Nameless Castle, while he waited for his watchword, ready when it came to reply: “Here!”
And while he waited he interested himself also in what was going on in the land in which he sojourned. He had two sources for acquiring information on this subject—Herr Mercatoris in Fertoeszeg, and the young attorney, who was now living in Pest. The count corresponded with both gentlemen,—personally he had never spoken to the pastor, and but once to his attorney,—and from their letters learned what was going on in that portion of the world in the vicinity of the Nameless Castle.
However, as there was a wide difference between the characters of his two correspondents, the count was often puzzled to which of them he should give credence. The pastor, who was a student and a philosopher, and a defender of the existing state of affairs, affirmed that there was not on the face of the globe a more contented and peace-loving folk than the Hungarians. The young lawyer, on the other hand, asserted that the existing system was all wrong; that general dissatisfaction prevailed throughout Hungary. His irony did not spare the great ones who swayed the destiny of the country. In a word, resentment against oppression, and discontent, might be read in every line of his epistles.
Count Vavel was rather inclined to believe that the younger man expressed the temper of the nation. In reality, however, it was only the discontent of a small social body, which found quite enough room for its meetings in the sleeping-chamber of one of the sympathizers. Within this circumscribed space, and amid a lively interchange of opinions, originated many a daring project that was never carried beyond the threshold of the hall of meeting.
Ludwig Vavel, on reading the young man’s letters, had come to the conclusion that Hungary awaited his (Vavel’s) enemy as its liberator.
The Diet, it is true, had authorized the “recruit contingent,” but the recruits were not taken from those who were inspired with love for the fatherland, and who would do battle for an idea. The enlisted men were chiefly homeless wanderers. This “cannon-fodder” would go into battle without enthusiasm, would perform what was required of them like obedient machines.