“He is in Count Vavel’s service, and I can see him when I return to the camp.”
“Then tell him to come to the Nameless Castle at once. He understands the secret spring of the screen, behind which he will find a dead man. This man was a very good friend, and I want him properly buried.”
“I will give Master Matyas your order.”
Marie now took leave of the Nameless Castle, feeling that she would never again come back to it. But she had not the courage to enter her apartments again.
The four-horse coach waited at the park gate. Marie entered it, wrapped the warm sheep-skin around her, and tied a cotton kerchief over her head in peasant fashion. Satan Laczi’s wife took a seat by her side; the little Laczko climbed to the coachman’s box, where he sat with his gun between his knees. Then the coachman cracked his whip, and the vehicle rattled down the road amid a cloud of dust. Satan Laczi looked after the coach until it disappeared around a turn in the road. Then he blew a shrill blast on his whistle, whereupon a number of wild-looking men, each armed to the teeth, emerged from the shrubbery and came toward him. Whispered orders were given, then the men in a body moved toward the willow-copse on the shore of the lake. Here were two flatboats drawn up on the beach. These were pushed into the water; the men entered them, each took an oar, and the unwieldy vessels were propelled along the shore toward the marshes.
The Marquis de Fervlans had camped with his company of demons on the shore of Neusiedl Lake. The marquis himself had taken quarters at the inn in the nearest village, where, assisted by two companions of questionable respectability but of undoubted valor, he was testing the quality of the fiery wine of the region, when a peasant cart, drawn by three horses, drew up before the inn, and Jocrisse, Baroness Katharina’s messenger, alighted.
“Ah, here comes a sensible fellow,” exclaimed the marquis. “I wonder what news he brings.”
He was very soon enlightened.
“Hum! ‘Io non posso!’” he repeated, after reading the brief message Jocrisse delivered to him. “Very well, madame, I think I shall know what to do if you ‘cannot’! Jocrisse, how is the country around Odenburg garrisoned?”
“A division of militia cavalry occupies every town,”
“That is exasperating! Not that I fear these militiamen might give my demons too much work; but I am afraid I may alarm them; then they will scamper in all directions, and frighten the entire Neusiedl region, so that when I arrive at Fertoeszeg I shall find the birds flown and the nest empty. We must take them by surprise. Have you ever before been in this part of the country, Jocrisse?”
“I accompanied the county surveyor once as far as Frauenkirchen.”
“Is the road practicable for wheels?”
“To Frauenkirchen it is good for wagons; but beyond the city it is in a wretched condition.”