Vavel paced the floor, mute with rage and fear.
“Why did I desert them!” he exclaimed at last, in desperation. “Why did I not do as Marie wished—flee with her and Katharina into the wide world—we three alone!”
“Well, you see you did n’t, and this is the way matters stand now,” responded Master Matyas. “The general’s adjutant visits the house twice every day to inquire after the ladies; then he reports to his superior.”
“If only Cambray had not died!” ejaculated the count.
“Yes, but I helped to bury him, too,” added Matyas, shaking his head.
“Yes, so I was told. How did you manage to get the body from behind the metal screen?”
“Oh, that was easy enough. You know the spring is connected with the bell in your study; when the screen unrolled, the bell rang. It was only necessary to reverse the operation: by pulling the bell-wire in the Herr Count’s study the screen was rolled up.”
“A very simple arrangement, indeed,” observed Count Vavel, smiling in spite of his gloom. “Ah, Master Matyas, if only you were clever enough to open for me the locks which now imprison my dear ones! That would be a masterpiece, indeed!”
“I can do that easily enough,” was the confident rejoinder.
“You can? How?”
“Did n’t I say I would leave the good news until the last?”
“Yes, yes. Tell me what you have in view.”
“I must whisper the secret in your ear; I have often overheard important secrets listening at the keyhole or while hiding under a bed, and what I have done another may be doing.”
Vavel bent his head so that Master Matyas might whisper the important information in his ear.
The words were few, but they served to restore Vavel to a cheerful mood.
He laughed heartily, slapped Master Matyas on the shoulder, and exclaimed:
“You are truly a wonderful fellow!” Then he took a roll of bank-notes from his pocket, and pressed it into Matyas’s hand. “Here—take these, and buy what is necessary. We will make the attempt at once.”
Master Matyas thrust the money into his own pocket, and darted from the room as if he had stolen it. Ludwig hastened to his general, to beg for leave of absence.
“Everything is ready,” said Master Matyas to Vavel, pointing toward three covered luggage-wagons, which the Volons had captured from the Frenchmen at Klein-Zell.
The “Death-head troop,” as Vavel’s Volons were designated, marched in the rear of the brigade; consequently they could drop out from it any time without attracting special notice.