“Marie, Marie, the day of my perfect happiness only awaits the dawn of your own! And that yours will come I firmly believe. But don’t look for it here, Marie. Don’t ask for impossibilities. Marie, were my own mother, whom I worshiped, still living, I could not bring her within these walls to learn our secret.”
“The woman who loves will not betray a secret.”
For an instant Ludwig did not reply; then he said:
“And if it were true that some one loves me as you fancy, could I ask her to bury herself here—here where there is no intercourse with the outside world? No, no, Marie; we cannot expect any one else to become an occupant of this tomb—the gates of which will not open until the trump of deliverance sounds.”
“And will it be long before that trump sounds, Ludwig?”
“I believe—nay, I know it must come very soon. The signs of the times are not deceptive. Our resurrection may be nearer than we imagine; and until then, Marie, let us endure with patience.”
Marie pressed her guardian’s hand, and drew a long sigh.
“Yes; we will endure—and wait,” she repeated. “And now, give me back my letter.”
“Why do you want it, Marie?”
“I shall keep it, and sometime send it to the proper address—when the angel of deliverance sounds his trump.”
“May God hasten his coming!” fervently appended the count.
But he did not give her the letter.
* * * * *
Count Vavel now rarely ventured beyond the gate of the Nameless Castle. The weather had become stormy, and a severe frost had robbed the garden of its beauties. The very elements seemed to have combined against the dwellers in the castle. Even the lake suddenly began to extend its limits, overflowing its banks, and inundating meadows and gardens. Marie’s little pleasure-garden suffered with the rest of the flooded lands, and threatened to become an unsightly swamp.
Count Vavel, knowing how Marie delighted to ramble amid her flowers, determined to protect the garden from further destruction. Laborers were easily secured. The numerous families of working-people who had been rendered homeless by the inundation besieged the castle for assistance and work, and none were turned empty-handed away. A small army was put to work to construct an embankment that would prevent further encroachment upon the garden by the water, while to Herr Mercatoris the count sent a liberal sum of money to be distributed among the sufferers by the flood.
This gift renewed the correspondence between the castle and the parsonage, which had been dropped for several months.
The pastor, in acknowledging the receipt of the money, wrote: