Marie sprang from the piano toward Ludwig, who caught her in his arms and rewarded her for the surprise. And thus it happened that Marie, after all, was the one to receive Ludwig’s last kiss of farewell.
The camp on the bank of the Rabcza was shared by the troop from Fertoeszeg and by a militia company of infantry from Wieselburg.
The parole had been given out for the night. Count Vavel had completed his round of the outposts, and had returned to the officers’ tent. Here he found awaiting him two old acquaintances—the vice-palatine and the young attorney from Pest, each of them wearing the light-blue dolman.
The youthful attorney, whose letters to the count had voiced the national discontent, had at once girded on his sword when the call to arms had sounded throughout the land, and was now of one mind with his quondam patron: if he got near enough to a Frenchman to strike him, the result would certainly be disastrous—for the Frenchman. Bernat bacsi also found himself at last in his element, with ample time and opportunity for anecdotes. Seated on a clump of sod the root side up, with both hands clasping the hilt of his sword, the point of which rested on the ground, he repeated what he had heard from the palatine’s own lips, while dining with that exalted personage in the camp by the Raab.
At a very interesting point in his recital he was unceremoniously interrupted by the challenging call of the outposts:
“Halt! who comes there?”
Vavel hastened from the tent, flung himself on his horse, and galloped in the direction of the call. The patrol had stopped an armed man who would not give the password, but insisted that he had a right to enter the camp.
Vavel recognized Satan Laczi, and said to the guard:
“Release him; he is a friend of mine.” Then to the ex-robber: “Come with me.”
He led the way to his own private tent, where he bade his companion rest himself on a pallet of straw.
“I dare say you are tired, my good fellow.”
“Not very,” was the reply. “I have come only from Kapuvar to-day.”
“Part of the way, and part of the way swimming.”
“What news do you bring?”
“We captured a French courier in the marshes near Vitnyed just as he was about to ride into the stream.”
“Where is he?”
“Well, you see, one of my fellows happened to grasp him a little too tightly by the collar, because he resisted so obstinately—and, besides, it must have been a very weak cord that fastened his soul to his body.”
“You have not done well, Satan Laczi,” reproved the count. “Another time you must bring the prisoner to me alive, for I may learn something of importance from him. Did not I tell you that I would pay a reward for a living captive?”
“Yes, your lordship, and we shall lose our reward this time. But we did n’t capture the fellow for nothing, after all. We searched his pockets, and found this sealed letter addressed to a general in the enemy’s army.”