All this lasted for a single brief instant, but it was quite long enough for the cloister door to open and close again. What had happened in the meantime was known only to the initiated. Then the fools' procession went on more noisily than ever. When they arrived at the Miskolcz gate, the superrector Zwirina and his halberdiers barred the way.
When then Dame Sarah heard the lamentations in her neighborhood, and learnt the cause thereof, viz., that her son had managed to escape and that the superrector had died of grief in consequence, she planted herself in the passage, and, despite the keenness of a February morning, began to sing the psalms in which King David celebrates the humiliation of his enemies.
The fugitive mounted and was instantly off again, while his pursuers thought it best to slowly ride their jaded nags back to town. The new superrector, young Ignatius Zwirina, calculated thus: Valentine Kalondai will one of these days come back of his own accord to the neighborhood of Kassa.
Then the gates of the courtyard were thrown open, and out came the procession in the usual order, the headsman first on horseback, then the convict, and last of all the members of the town council, the sheriff, the superrector, the conrector, the syndic, and the civic warden.
"Seven," replied the conrector. "He leaves behind him seven orphans," sighed Valentine, "seven innocent orphans, who will be forever branded as the children of the man who died beneath the hand of the headsman!" "So it is!" answered the cold and grim superrector; "seven will be branded with infamy for the crime of one.
Thus there arose two fiercely antagonistic parties, neither of which would give way a hair's breadth to the other. The president alone was silent. At last the superrector turned to him and asked him for his opinion. "Well, if you want to know what I think," began Kalondai, "let me tell you that I do not agree with either opinion.
I took her from him because it was better for her to die with me than to live with him, and I am responsible for it to God alone and his avenging cherubim." "But here below you are also responsible to the high tribunal of the worshipful city of Kassa," said the presiding superrector. "You know the law. You know that death is the penalty for such a transgression." "I await death."
"Then he did this dreadful deed when he was in liquor and is now sorry for it?" said Valentine, by way of extenuation. "Yes, and that is certainly a reason for mitigating the punishment," replied the superrector. "Just for that very reason he has only been condemned to be beheaded, otherwise he would have been quartered alive for his bloody deed." "Has he any children?" asked the sheriff.
The fellow representing the carnival rose in his bier, distended his broad mouth, and grinned in the superrector's face. He was an honest brushmaker's apprentice. The whole crowd burst into roars of laughter and derisive yells. Everyone instantly guessed that the superrector had sought for Valentine Kalondai in the carnival's coffin. Old Zwirina was very angry and ashamed.
First, on Epiphany, the burgomaster or, as he was then called, the superrector was appointed, and then the curator, who had a weighty office to perform. He had to choose from among the most respectable citizens a hundred persons, who were to duly elect the sheriff. Fifty of these electors had to be Hungarians, and the remaining fifty Germans and Slovacks in equal numbers.