On the box was seated the broad-shouldered groom, now clad in coachman’s costume. The gentleman assisted the little maid into the carriage, took his seat by her side, and the black horses set off over the same road they had traversed a thousand times, in the regulation trot, avoiding the main thoroughfare of the village. Those persons whom they chanced to meet did not salute, for they knew that the occupants of the carriage from the Nameless Castle did not wish to be spoken to; and any of the villagers who were standing idly at their doors stepped inside until they had passed; no inquisitive woman face peered after them. And thus the carriage passed on its way, as if it had been invisible. When it arrived at the forest, the horses knew just where they had to halt. Here the gentleman assisted his veiled companion to alight, gave her his left arm, because he held in his right hand a heavy walking-stick, in the center of which was concealed a long, three-edged poniard, an effective weapon in the hands of him who knew how to wield it.
In silence the man and the maid promenaded along the green sward in the shade of the trees. A campanula had just opened its blue eye at the foot of one of the trees, and pale-blue forget-me-nots grew along the path. Blue was the little maid’s favorite color; but she was not permitted to pluck the flowers herself. She had never been told why she must not do this; perhaps it was because the flowers belonged to some one else.
Sometimes the little maid’s steps were so light and elastic, as if a fairy were gliding over the dewy grass; and sometimes she walked so slowly, so wearily, as if a little old grandmother came limping along, hunting for lichens on the mossy ground.
After the promenade, they seated themselves again in the carriage, which returned to the Nameless Castle, and the gates were closed again.
The man conducted the maid to her room, and the serious occupation of the day began. Books were produced, and the man proceeded to explain the classics. They were his own favorites; he could not give her any others. She had not yet seen or heard of romances, and she was still too young to begin the study of history. The man could teach the maid only what he himself knew; a strange tutor or governess was not allowed to enter the castle.
Because her instructor could not play the piano, the little maid had not learned. But in order that she might enjoy listening to music, a hand-organ had been bought for her, and new melodies were inserted in it every four months.
When the little maid wearied of her organ and her picture-making, she seated herself at the card-table, and played l’hombre, or tarok, with two imaginary adversaries, enjoying the manner in which the copper coins won the gold ones.
At noon, when the bell rang a third time, the man tapped at the door again, offered his gloved hand to the maid, and conducted her to the dining-room. At either end of a large table was a plate. The maid took her place at the head; the man seated himself at the foot. They conversed during the meal. The maid talked about her cats and dogs; the man told her about his books. When the maid wanted anything, she called the man Ludwig; and when the man addressed his companion, he called her simply Marie.