“Oh, well, your reverence, instead of the speech, I will listen to your sermons on Sundays. I intend to become a very zealous member of your congregation.”
“And this, your ladyship,” continued the master of ceremonies, “is Dr. Philip Tromfszky, resident physician of Fertoeszeg, who is celebrated not only for his surgical and medical skill, but is acknowledged here, as well as in Raab, Komorn, Eisenburg, and Odenburg, as the greatest gossip and news dispenser in the kingdom.”
“A most excellent accomplishment!” laughingly exclaimed the baroness. “I am devoted to gossip; and I shall manage to have some ailment every few days in order to have the doctor come to see me!”
Then came the surveyor’s turn.
“This, your ladyship, is Herr Martin Doboka, county surveyor and expert mathematician. He will measure for you land, water, or fog; and if your watch stops going, he will repair it for you!”
“And who may this be?” smilingly inquired the lady, indicating the vice-palatine’s assistant, who had thrust his long neck inquisitively forward.
“Oh, he is n’t anybody!” replied the vice-palatine. “He is never called by name. When you want him just say: ‘Audiat!’ He is one of those persons of whom Cziraky said: ’My lad, don’t trouble yourself to inquire where you shall seat yourself at table; for wherever you sit will always be the lowest place!’”
This anecdote caused “Audiat” to draw back his head and seek to make himself invisible.
“And now, I must present myself: I am the vice-palatine of this county, and am called Bernat Goeroemboelyi von Dravakeresztur.”
“My dear sir!” ejaculated the baroness, laughing heartily, “I could n’t commit all that to memory in three years!”
“That is exactly the way your ladyship’s name affects me!”
“Then I will tell you what we will do. Instead of torturing each other with our unpronounceable names, let us at once adopt the familiar ‘thou,’ and call each other by our Christian names.”
“Yes; but when I enter into a ‘brotherhood’ of that sort, I always kiss the person with whom I form a compact.”
“Well, that can also be done in this instance!” promptly responded the baroness, proffering, without affectation of maidenly coyness, the ceremonial kiss, and cordially shaking hands with the vice-palatine. Then she said:
“We are now Bernat bacsi, and Katinka; and as that is happily arranged, I will ask the gentlemen to go into the agent’s office and conclude our official business. Meanwhile, I shall make my toilet for dinner, where we will all meet again.”
“What a perfectly charming woman!” exclaimed the justice, when their hostess had vanished from the room.
“I wonder what would happen,” observed the doctor, with a malicious grin, “if the vice-palatine’s wife should hear of that kiss? Would n’t there be a row, though!”