“The flood has made a new survey of the lake necessary, as the evil cannot be remedied until it has been determined what obstructs the outlet. Our surveyor made a calculation as to the probable cost of the work, and found that it would require an enormous sum of money—almost five thousand guilders! Where was all this money to come from? The puzzling question was answered by that angel from heaven, Baroness Landsknechtsschild. When she heard of the sufferings of the poor people who had been driven from their homes by the inundation, she offered to supply the entire sum necessary. Now, it seems, something besides the money is required for the undertaking.
“The surveyor, in order to calculate the distances which cannot be measured by the chain, needs a superior telescope, and such a glass would cost two or three thousand guilders more. As your lordship is the owner of a telescope, I take it upon myself to beg the loan of it—if your lordship can spare it to the surveyor for a short time.”
The next day Count Vavel sent his telescope to the parsonage, with the message that it was a present to the surveyor. Then, that he might not be again tempted to look out upon the world and its people, the count closed the tower windows.
DEATH AND NEW LIFE IN THE NAMELESS CASTLE
Since Count Vavel had ceased to take outdoor exercise, he had renewed his fencing practice with Henry, who was also an expert swordsman.
In a room on the ground floor of the castle, whence the clashing of steel could not penetrate to Marie’s apartments, the two men, master and man, would fight their friendly battles twice daily, and with such vigor that their bodies (as they wore no plastrons) were covered with scratches and bruises.
One morning the count waited in vain for Henry to make his appearance in the fencing-hall. It was long past the usual hour for their practice, and the count, becoming impatient, went in search of the old servant.
The groom’s apartment was on the same floor with the kitchen, adjoining the room occupied by his wife Lisette, the cook.
The door of Henry’s room which opened into the corridor was locked; the count, therefore, passed into the kitchen, where Lisette was preparing dinner.
“Where is Henry?” he asked of the unwieldy mountain of flesh, topped by a face as broad and round as the full moon.
“He is in bed,” replied Lisette, without looking up from her work.
“Is he ill?”
“I believe he has had a stroke of apoplexy.”
She said it with as little emotion as if she had spoken of an underdone pasty.
The count hastened through Lisette’s room to Henry’s bedside.
The poor fellow was lying among the pillows; his mouth and one eye were painfully distorted.