The Nameless Castle eBook

Mór Jókai
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 321 pages of information about The Nameless Castle.

The figure conducted on to the stage by the colonel was no other than the little water-monster, Baroness Katharina’s protege.  He was clad in the uniform of a soldier, with a wooden sword and gun, a hat decorated with crane-feathers, a canteen at his side, and a knapsack on his back.  An enormous false mustache extended from ear to ear, and a short-stemmed pipe was thrust between his lips.

“This, gentlemen and ladies, is a militiaman.”  The colonel was interrupted by a burst of merriment from his audience.  Even the baroness laughed immoderately, but suppressed it hastily when she remembered the telescope on the tower of the Nameless Castle.

“Poor little fellow!” she murmured, with difficulty keeping her face straight.

“Attention!” called the colonel, snapping the whip he held in his hand.  “What does the militiaman do when he is in a good humor?”

A bagpipe behind the curtain now began to play a familiar air, whereupon the little monster first touched his finger to his hat, then slapped his thighs with both hands, and lifted first one foot, then the other.

The baroness hid with her fan that side of her face which was toward the neighboring castle, and joined in the uproarious laughter.

“You see, gracious baroness,” continued the colonel, “that I have accomplished what I determined I would do—­made quite a man of the little fellow.”

He snapped his whip again, and called sharply: 

“Now let the militiaman show us what he does when he is in an ill humor.”

The bagpipe struck up a different air.  The dwarf muttered something unintelligible into his mustache, and grimaced hideously.  Then he took from his tobacco-pouch flint, tinder, and steel, and struck fire in the proper manner; he thrust the burning tinder into his pipe, and pressed it down with his finger.

Tremendous applause rewarded this exhibition.

“Do you see, gracious baroness, what a complete man he is become?  He can even strike fire and light a pipe!”

By this time the gnome began to understand that his antics amused the audience, and he, too, enjoyed them.  For the first time an emotion was expressed on his stolid countenance; but it was not an agreeable transformation.  The corners of his mouth widened until they reached his ears, which stood still farther out from his head; he closed one eye, and opened the other to its farthest extent; and pressing the stem of his pipe more firmly between his teeth, he blew the smoke and fire from the bowl like a miniature volcano.  The thicker the smoke and sparks came from the pipe, the more furious became the strange creature’s glee, while the entire company shouted and clasped their hands.  Even the colonel himself was amazed at the performance of his dull pupil.

“Why have we not a Hogarth among us to perpetuate this caricature?” he exclaimed delightedly.

“Horrible!  I cannot bear to look at him,” said the baroness, holding her fan in front of her face.  “Pray take him away, Herr Colonel—­take him away.”

Project Gutenberg
The Nameless Castle from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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