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could have brought Mein Herr Lavamund knocking at the gate last night between eleven and twelve. I could not disobey the Baron, so I ordered the porter not to open the wicket. He has been here again twice this morning?" Martha thought that Bellermann should apprise the Baron.
“No," said the groom of the chambers; “it is as much as my place is worth to disturb him. The Baron abused me last night, when, by your request, I carried the key of the turret-chamber to him. And pray, Martha, why did you insist on my taking the key at that time of night?
The old woman replied, “I cannot tell you all that happened, for I was sent on a message by my young mistress. The Baron and Baroness had retired, and left my Lady Hermione and the Hungarian Count together. As I returned up the stairs I heard music; shortly afterwards, just as the clock struck ten, my young mistress shrieked. I went as fast as I could towards the turret-chamber, when Hermione fell senseless into my arms, and Count Neytracht had departed.”
“ By what door, I wonder ? ” said Bellermann. “ Are you sure he was not in the turret-chamber ? ”
Positive,” replied Martha. “ That is, I did not see him there ; but I was in a great agitation to support my poor young lady to her own room, after locking the turret-chamber, and bringing away the key."
“ Which I gave to the Baron Von Doedel ; and he, in a passion, threw it at my head."
Again there was a clatter at the gates. Baron Von Doedel made his appearance
in a velvet robe de chambre. “ What is this disturbance?” said he.
The knocking was repeated, and the porter received orders to open the gate. In rushed Lavamund, with a blanched cheek and uncombed hair, He evidently had not rested; his eyes were bloodshot, and his clothes in dishabille. He said earnestly to the Baron, Sir, it is of vital import, that which I have to utter must claim
“ You have chosen an unwarrantable time, Mein Herr,” replied Von Doedel, “ as this is fixed for the bridal-day of my daughter, Hermione.” "Gracious powers !” exclaimed Lavamund.
Yes, sir,” continued the Baron, “ Count Neytracht de Zarweise informs me that he has received dispatches from the Queen of Hungary, commanding his instant return to the court; therefore the nuptial ceremony is to be solemnized this evening."
“I am half frantic," ejaculated Lavamund.
“ I assure you," said Lavamund, “ that the Count is not what you suppose him to be ? "
Well,” retorted the Baron, “ if he is not what I suppose him to be, what may you suppose him to be ? ”
“ He is a necromancer,” solemnly said Lavamund.
The Baron tauntingly replied, “ A necromancer! ha! ha! ha! Then he has the advantage of you, for I must say you are no conjuror ! "
“Baron, there is a horrible story to be told."
“ Pooh l pooh!" said the Baron, "get somebody else to listen to it.”
The Baroness had now descended from the chamber of her stepdaughter, and was surprised to see Lavamund there.
“Well, Baroness," said Von Doedel, “ how did you find Hermione?"
“I found her in bed," replied his accomplished helpmate.
The Baron continued, “ Did I not desire you to set a watch upon her."
“ So I did, Polydore,” said she ; “but I forgot to wind it up, and it didn't go!”
“ Madam, you will aberrate my intellects by your conduct.”
“ Anything I can do, to oblige you, Polydore, I am sure I will ; but I think that Hermione has had a terrible dream; she mutters something about beautiful music, fascination, and Count Neytracht.""
“ Perfectly natural,” said the Baron. “A girl in love with a handsome young nobleman is likely to dream of him.”
“ Yes," replied the Baroness; “but it has not been a pleasant dream. She mutters, and trembles, and has said some very shocking things." “ What might they be, my dear ?". “Oh! Polydore, things that I could mention only to my confessor.”
Here Lavamund burst out wildly, “I can give you a clue to them. Your daughter lifted up the mantle of the Hungarian, and beheld a SKELETON.
Von Doedel chuckled, looked at Lavamund, and said, “ My good friend, you want a new waistcoat, and I hope your tailor will take care to cut it straight for you.”
“ Baron Von Doedel," replied Lavamund, much agitated, “I am aware that my recital must appear to be beyond credibility; but, Count Neytracht de Zarweise expired in the turret-chamber last night!"
“Go on,” said the Baron.
“ Not only expired," continued Lavamund, but his very flesh fell from his bones!”
“ Bravo !” said Von Doedel. “ Anything else ? "
“Saw it all, Mein Herr, why, I took pretty good care that you should not intrude your mad carcase within the gates last night."
Lavamund found the incredulity of Von Doedel increasing; and he confidentially informed him, “ That he saw it all in his glass.”
“Oh!” said the Baron, “ you saw it in your glass. Probably, my friend, you had taken a glass too much, — ha! ha! ha! That jest would have done for you, my lady,-ha! ha! ha!”
“ And, why am I to be done for, pray, my lord ? ” replied the Baroness, with an indignant air.
Von Doedel, thoroughly convinced that he had a madman in his presence, and thinking there would be but one way to get rid of him, said kindly to Lavamund, “ Come – come! we will settle this wonderful affair at once ; ocular demonstration, I trust, will satisfy you. We will all ascend to the turret-chamber. It has been securely locked during the night. Here is the key, which my groom of the cham
bers brought to me after I was in bed. Mein Herr Lavamund, you shall open the door yourself.” He gave the key to Lavamund, and they proceeded to the turret.
Lavamund with some trepidation applied the key to the lock. He burst into the room, expecting to find the hideous form on the sofa, instead of which, he, to his astonishment, saw Count Neytracht de Zarweise seated, screwing up the strings of his lute. Both the Von Doedels were much surprised at seeing the Hungarian there.
“ Your servant, Count," stammered the Baron.
“Good morning, my Lady Baroness and my worthy Baron. I must needs complain a little of you. I told you that I had urgent affairs, which required my presence at my hotel at ten o'clock last night; and you, or some of ye, most unaccountably have locked me up in your turret-chaniber. My efforts to make my situation known were perfectly unavailing ; but, aware that my noble father-in-law is a humourist, I have contented myself by reposing during the night on the couch."
“Dear me, Count,” said the interesting Baroness, “ what did you do without a nightcap?"
“We soldiers,” replied the Hungarian, " are accustomed to many strange pillows. I WAS VERY COMFORTABLE." Lavamund shuddered. “But pray, Baron," continued the Count, "previously to locking me up, did you, or any of your household-ha! ha!-condescend to look at your poor prisoner whilst he slept ? ”
Lavamund was convinced by that query. Von Doedel replied, “ The Baroness and I stepped into our state-bed before ten o'clock; and, without any interruption, we slept soundly until seven this morning. Therefore why, wherefore, or for what, you were confined all night, by my patent of nobility I cannot tell."
Lavamund broke in vehemently, “ I denounce Count Neytracht as a subtle and malignant sorcerer.
“Good sir," replied the Hungarian, “spare your reviling. You hate me, but I pity you.” Here Von Doedel touched his forehead, and said, “ His friends must really take care of him. He is gone."
“Gone ? " said the sapient Baroness, “Gone ? No, Polydore, there he is still.”
Lavamund cried out, “ Ah ! Baron, how bitterly will you repent your obstinacy. Nay, Count, glance not your contemptuous looks at
I stand here the champion of the deluded Hermione. Draw your sabre, and follow me. Charmed though I know you to be, my sword shall pierce your demon heart.”
Count Neytracht drew his weapon, and Lavmaund attacked him energetically; but the Hungarian instantly disarmed his adversary, and smiled coldly at him. The Baron and Baroness during the conAict kept continually calling " help! help!"
Help without !” bawled Von Doedel. “ Nonsense, Polydore: help within, I say: it is of no use having help without.” Aroused by the din, Bellermann and several servants now appeared, and Von Doedel said, “ Convey Mein Herr Lavamund quietly and civilly to his friends; present my best compliments, and particularly intreat that they will shave his head immediately. The servants laid hold of Lavamund, and he exclaimed, “ One moment
hold! before you destroy your dear and only daughter by this union, read the Black Letter Tract in the library of Peter Elzevir.”
“ Away with him !" said the Baron, and the servants led Lavamund out of the room. “ There is a young gentleman beside himself,” remarked Von Doedel.
Yes, Polydore ; and there are three persons beside him," replied the Baroness.
The Count intimated that he would now take a ride, and on his return hoped that he should have the happiness to see the lovely Hermione. "When alone he began to reflect,“ Sorcerer though I am, I cannot divine by what means this champion of my victim has become acquainted with my secret. No matter, she must be mine; that I, her lover, her destroyer, may exist another year."
The nuptial ceremony was to take place in the castle chapel that evening, and the friends and tenants of the Baron had been especi. ally invited to a grand feast on the occasion. Hermione had been roused from her couch, restoratives applied, but, alas ! she was in a state of mental torpidity; and, in blind obedience to the commands of her father, listlessly suffered herself to be attired in a beautiful white satin manteau, trimmed with pearls ; a wreath of orange flowers encircled her throbbing head, and she sat in the turret-chamber motionless as a statue. Tables had been spread on the lawn; the gorgeous plate glittered on the napery, Venetian drinking-vessels sparkled in the diamond brilliancy of a descending summer sun. Among other culinary productions, peacocks, roasted, with their brilliant feathers attached to the skins, gave a fantastic appearance to the well-covered board. The wines, mantled in their many-shaped German bottles, and (a contribution from Count Neytracht,) there was more veritable tokay than could have been supplied from the district of that scarce and remarkable wine in fifty years ; but no one inquired how the Count came by it.
The gates were thrown open to all comers, and every appearance promised a scene of enjoyment. Count Neytracht was magnificently attired in the Hungarian costume, which, unvaried in form for so many years, has been described by Sir Walter Scott as worn by a celebrated ambassador at the coronation of George the Fourth. “When the sunshine lighted on the Prince he glimmered like a galaxy."
In the mean time Lavamund had waited on the authorities, and unfolded his tale of horror: but the worthy burgher who presided, having had an interview with the Baron Von Doedel, was easily persuaded that the story was the invention of a person of unsound mind. Lavamund, therefore, thought that the only chance of succouring Hermione was to gain access to the castle gardens in disguise. This he procured, in the shape of a peasant's coarse frock, a flapped hat, with an old tambourine in his hand. Arrived at the portal, he perceived a blind fiddler, and three other instrumental performers following ; so he stepped up, and was safely introduced within the garden as a member of the band.
Drusilla had induced her uncle, Elzevir, to put on his best suit, and accompany her, to behold the festivities.
Count Neytracht had commanded Karl to act as master of the ceremonies; he was gaily dressed, with a long white wand of office in his hand. And now all heads were turned towards the grand entrance of the castle, on beholding the lovely Hermione led passively down the marble staircase into the garden by the Baron and Baroness, followed by a train of servants in rich liveries. The bride was gallantly received at the foot of the steps by Count Neytracht, who stood in advance of his attendants in their picturesque costume. The Count led Hermione to the principal table, at which the Baron and Baroness presided. When Von Doedel had taken his seat, he thus addressed his guests. “ Assembled friends, I have the honour to
that this evening I am about to unite my only daughter to the noble Count Neytracht de Zarwise. I part with a dear and beloved child, and thus I imprint a fond father's last kiss on her virgin cheek." The Baron kissed Hermione, and wiped his eyes, exclaiming, “I am afraid I am an old fool ! ” “I am afraid you are, Polydore,” said the amiable Baroness.
Von Doedel looked daggers at his wife for her remark, but turned it off by observing, “Our repast waits; a slight refreshment prior to the ceremony."
“ Prior to the ceremony? ” said Count Neytracht, with a countenance of alarm as he anxiously glanced up at the great castle dial. He endeavoured to appear at ease ; but, as he carried a goblet of tokay to his mouth, his teeth chattered, and convulsively closed on the brim of the glass. Meanwhile the guests did honour to the repast with German appetites, and the peacocks' tails wagged by the efforts of the carvers.
Now Karl, who had been walking round in search of Drusilla, suddenly saw her in converse with a stranger, shabbily attired; and, as he came up, overheard the voice of Lavamund utter, “My good girl, do not betray me.”
"Oh ho!” thought Karl, “my master's rival. What the devil is he disguised for ? So he repaced his steps to the table, got close behind Count Neytracht, and whispered to him the discovery he had made.
Lavamund said to Elzevir and Drusilla, “ You only, who have perused the black letter tract, can be interested, as I am now, on being told that yon plausible monster, the bridegroom, is the “ TRANSYLVANIAN ANATOMIE!”
Mercy on us !” said Elzevir, and he put on his spectacles. Count Neytracht leaned towards the Baron, and said, "I shall already assume the privilege of your son-in-law, and state that the insane Lavamund is present in disguise. So please you, my trusty Hungarians shall, without injury, seize and convey him to some safe room in the castle until the ceremony has taken place.”.
The Baron replied, “ Poor infatuated imbecile ! you have my permission.”
The Count motioned to his attendants. Led by Karl Closter, they suddenly laid violent hands on Lavamund, and hastily carried him up the marble staircase into the castle. In the bustle Karl dropped his wand of office, which was picked up by Drusilla, who took charge