Foltyn stood as if thunderstruck. All the blood receded from his face. Horror and fright were depicted in it. He stooped down to the keyhole. Within he beheld the baron wholly changed. In his pale, handsome countenance there was not a single trace of sleepiness, and his dark eyes flashed with passion underneath the thin, proud brows. Uplifting by the chin Marianka’s beautiful face, flushed deep scarlet with shame, he gazed lustfully upon her heaving bosom. Her eyes were cast down, in one hand she held the statuette, in the other the tousled tuft of variegated feathers.
Foltyn put his hands up to his gray head. Anguish contracted his throat. Through his head rushed a whirl of terrible thoughts. Already he had reached for the door-knob, then quickly jerked his hand away. No! To have the baron learn that Marianka’s father had listened to his words, to stand, shamed, and apprehended in an abominable deed before his own servant—no, that must not be! All of Foltyn’s inborn loyalty rose in opposition. But what was he to do?
In the office was the footman. He would send him upstairs on some pretext. No sooner thought of than he hastened down. But the office was closed and perfect silence reigned within. Beruska and the footman who had but recently been playing cards inside were not at home. One was in the courtyard, the other out for a health promenade.
Swung the drum sticks
In desperation Foltyn ran down the corridor. Suddenly he paused in front of the jail-room. He stood but a moment and then burst open the door, seized the immense drum hanging there, hung it over his shoulder and ran out into the driveway. Wildly he swung the drum-sticks, bowed his head, and then a deafening rattle resounded. He beat the drum until beads of sweat stood out on his brow.
The steward, hearing the clatter, turned as pale as death. “In God’s name, Foltyn has gone mad,” he burst out. He flew to the driveway. There he beheld Beruska, holding a card hand of spades in one hand and the collar of the unsummoned drummer in the other.
“Are you drunk?” shouted the clerk.
Foltyn continued obstinately to beat the drum. From all sides figures came running in the dusk.
The steward came to BeruSka’s assistance. “Stop, you maniac! he thundered at Foltyn. “Don’t you know the baron is already sleeping? I’ll drive you out of service immediately.”
“Oh, just let him stay in service,” sounded the voice of the baron behind them. “He is a capital drummer.” Then he passed through the bowing crowd, whistling and switching his riding-boots with his whip. He was going for a walk.
When the baroness, attracted hither by the mysterious sound ot the drum, had returned from the nightingales’ concert and entered the re-ception-room, she beheld in the middle of it her beautiful, beloved statuette broken into many bits. From the weeping eyes of Marietta whom she summoned before her she at once learned the perpetrator. In great wrath she dismissed her from service on the spot. Short was the dream of tall buildings, beautiful people and splendid equipage?!
At noon of the next day Foltyn stood in front of the castle and drummed the peasants to their labors. At the same time he gazed to-wards the forest road down which the noble carriage with marvelous speed was receding into the distance. When the carriage disappeared in the forest Foltyn breathed a sigh of relief, dropped the drumsticks and shook his head. And then the thought came into his head that, like the drum, he no longer belonged to the present era of the world. As to the cause of the disturbance of the day before he preserved an obstinate silence unto the day of his death.