“Did you summon me, Marie?” he called, when he saw that the screen was down.
“Yes, I summoned you,” replied Marie. “I want you to repeat the good-night wish you give me every night.”
“But it is not night.”
“No; but you will not see me again to-day, so you must wish me good night now.”
Ludwig came near to the screen, and said in a low, earnest tone:
“May God give you a good night, Marie! May angels watch over you! May Heaven receive your prayers, and may you dream of happiness and freedom. Good night!”
Then he turned and walked out of the room.
“That is his daily custom,” whispered Marie. Then she pressed her foot on the spring in the floor, and the screen was lifted.
Lisette had finished her tasks in the kitchen when the two ladies came to pay her a visit. She was sitting in a low, stoutly made chair which had been fashioned expressly for her huge frame, and was shuffling a pack of cards when the ladies entered.
She did not lay the cards to one side, nor did she rise from her chair when the baroness came toward her and said in a friendly tone:
“Well, Lisette, I dare say you do not know that I am your neighbor from the manor?”
“Oh, yes, I do. I used often to hear my poor old man talk about the beautiful lady over yonder, and of course you must be she.”
“And do you know that I expect to be Count Vavel’s wife?”
“I did not know it, your ladyship, but it is natural. A gallant gentleman and a beautiful lady—if they are thrown together then there follows either marriage or danger. A marriage is better than a danger.”
“This time, Lisette, marriage and danger go hand in hand. The count is preparing for the war.”
This announcement had no other effect on the impassive mountain of flesh than to make her shuffle her cards more rapidly.
“Then it is come at last!” she muttered, cutting the cards, and glancing at the under one. It was only a knave, not the queen!
“Yes,” continued the baroness; “the recruiting-flag already floats from the tower of the castle, and to-morrow volunteers will begin to enroll their names.”
“God help them!” again muttered the woman.
“I am going to take your young mistress home with me, Lisette,” again remarked the baroness. “It would not be well to leave her here, amid the turmoil of recruiting and the clashing of weapons, would it?”
“I can’t say. My business is in the kitchen; I don’t know anything about matters out of it,” replied Lisette, still shuffling her cards.
“But I intend to take you out of the kitchen, Lisette,” returned the baroness. “I don’t intend to let you work any more. You shall live with us over at the manor, in a room of your own, and, if you wish, have a little kitchen all to yourself, and a little maid to wait on you. You will come with us, will you not?”