Katharina sighed mournfully.
“He who told me so does not lie. It was your old friend Cambray.”
“Cambray?” echoed Marie, with mingled delight and astonishment. “Cambray is here? My deliverer, my second father! Where is he?”
“He is gone. He accomplished that for which he came,—to crush me to the earth, and to serve you,—and has gone away again.”
“Gone away?” repeated Marie, incredulously. “Gone away? Impossible! Cambray would not go away without seeing me! Which way did he go? I will run after him and overtake him.”
“No; stay where you are!” commanded Katharina, seizing her arm. “You must not follow him.”
“Listen, and I will tell you. Cambray brought these pictures and this letter from Paris. The letter was written by my daughter in the hospital, where she caught the dreadful disease which caused her death. She had been nursing the sick, like a heroine, and died like a saint. It is well with her now, for she is in heaven. If I weep, it is not for her, but for myself. The deadly disease Amelie died of has seized upon your friend Cambray; and the noble old man is unselfish even in dying. He does not want you to come near him, lest you, too, become affected by the pestilence. He is gone to the Nameless Castle, where Lisette will take care of him—”
“Lisette?” interrupted Marie, excitedly. “Lisette, who was afraid to go near her own husband when he lay dying!”
“Well, what would you? Shall I send some one to nurse him?”
“No—no. I am the one to take care of him! He was a father to me. For my sake he was imprisoned, persecuted, buried alive all these years! And I am to let him die over yonder—alone, without a friend near him! No; I am going to him. That which your other daughter had the courage to do, this one also will do!”
“Marie! Think of Ludwig! Do you wish to drive him to despair?”
“God watches over us. He will do what is well for all of us!”
“Marie”—Katharina made a last effort to detain the young girl—“Marie, do you wish to go to Cambray to learn from him that I am the curse-laden creature who was sent after you to capture you and deliver you into the hands of your enemies?”
Marie turned at these desperate words, held out her hand, and said gently:
“And if he were to tell me that, Katharina, I should say to him that, instead of destroying me you liberated me, and instead of hating me you love me as I love you.”
She made as if she would kiss Katharina; but the excited woman turned away her face, and held toward Marie the letter Cambray had given her.
“Read this, and learn to know me as I am,” she said in a choking voice.
While Marie was reading the letter, Katharina covered her burning face with both hands; but they were gently drawn away and held in the young girl’s warm clasp, while she spoke: