Morok abruptly interrupted Karl, and said:
“Who told you that the arrival of the courier had anything to do with these travellers? You are mistaken; you should only know what I choose to tell you.”
“Well, master, forgive me, and let’s say no more about it. So! I will get rid of my game-bag, and go help Goliath to feed the brutes, for their supper time draws near, if it is not already past. Does our big giant grow lazy, master?”
“Goliath is gone out; he must not know that you are returned; above all, the tall old man and the maidens must not see you here—it would make them suspect something.”
“Where do you wish me to go, then?”
“Into the loft, at the end of the stable, and wait my orders; you may this night have to set out for Leipsic.”
“As you please; I have some provisions left in my pouch, and can sup in the loft whilst I rest myself.”
“Master, remember what I told you. Beware of that old fellow with the gray moustache; I think he’s devilish tough; I’m up to these things—he’s an ugly customer—be on your guard!”
“Be quite easy! I am always on my guard,” said Morok.
“Then good luck to you, master!”—and Karl, having reached the ladder, suddenly disappeared.
After making a friendly farewell gesture to his servant, the Prophet walked up and down for some time, with an air of deep meditation; then, approaching the box which contained the papers, he took out a pretty long letter, and read it over and over with profound attention. From time to time he rose and went to the closed window, which looked upon the inner court of the inn, and appealed to listen anxiously; for he waited with impatience the arrival of the three persons whose approach had just been announced to him.
While the above scene was passing in the White Falcon at Mockern, the three persons whose arrival Morok was so anxiously expecting, travelled on leisurely in the midst of smiling meadows, bounded on one side by a river, the current of which turned a mill; and on the other by the highway leading to the village, which was situated on an eminence, at about a league’s distance.
The sky was beautifully serene; the bubbling of the river, beaten by the mill-wheel and sparkling with foam, alone broke upon the silence of an evening profoundly calm. Thick willows, bending over the river, covered it with their green transparent shadow; whilst, further on, the stream reflected so splendidly the blue heavens and the glowing tints of the west, that, but for the hills which rose between it and the sky, the gold and azure of the water would have mingled in one dazzling sheet with the gold and azure of the firmament. The tall reeds on the bank bent their black velvet heads beneath the light breath of the breeze that rises at the close of day—for the sun was gradually sinking behind a broad streak of purple clouds, fringed with fire. The tinkling bells of a flock of sheep sounded from afar in the clear and sonorous air.