The captain of the cuirassiers was not a little surprised to find the general’s wife playing cards with the hostile leader.
“General Guillaume agrees to everything,” he announced immediately, on entering the room. “He will release the ladies he has been holding as prisoners.”
Vavel hastened to shake hands with the bearer of these glad tidings, who was, however, more eager to kiss the hand of Vavel’s partner, and to inquire:
“I hope I find the ladies perfectly comfortable?”
“Very comfortable indeed,” replied madame. “Messieurs les Cannibales are very polite, and leur Catzique plays an excellent hand at piquet.”
“And where is mademoiselle? I trust she is not suffering from the fatigue of the journey?”
“Oh, no; she is very well. She is making her toilet, and will soon join us. I hope we shall leave here very soon.”
Madame now rose, and left the two soldiers alone in the room.
“Here,” observed the French captain, handing Vavel a paper, “is the sauf conduit.”
The pass contained the information that “Vavel de Versay, expatriated French nobleman and magnate of Hungary, together with the Countess Themire Dealba (alias Baroness Katharina Landsknechtsschild) and Sophie Botta (pretended Princess Marie Charlotte Capet), with attendants, were to be allowed to travel unmolested by any French troops they might chance to meet.”
Ludwig Vavel looked at this document a long time.
“Do you doubt the assurance of a French officer, monsieur?” asked the captain.
“No; I was just unable to understand why a word had been used here. I dare say it is a mistake. But no matter. I am greatly obliged to you.”
“Pray don’t speak of it,” responded the Frenchman, cordially shaking the hand Vavel extended toward him. “I must not forget to tell you that a four weeks’ armistice was agreed upon to-day.”
The ladies now entered the room, prepared to continue their journey. The face of the younger one wore a more cheerful expression than on her arrival at the parsonage. Madame thanked Vavel for his courtesy, then, with her daughter, entered the carriage and drove away.
Madame Guillaume was forgetful: she neglected to take leave of her host the pastor, and of her wounded countrymen in the church.
Vavel communicated the news of the armistice to his adjutant, and commanded him to return at once with the Volons to Fertoeszeg, there to quarter themselves in the Nameless Castle, and await further orders. Then he mounted his horse, and, accompanied by Master Matyas, galloped out of the village.
Twilight had deepened into night when the two men arrived at Raab. The clocks were striking eight, and the French trumpets were sounding the retreat at every gate. Vavel, therefore, would not be allowed to enter the city until the next morning; but Master Matyas, who did not stop to inquire which was the proper way when he wanted to go anywhere, knew of a little garden that belonged to a certain tanner, and very soon found an entrance along a rather circuitous route among the tan-vats.