The trees were rustling in the wind, making a sound like a distant choral. On the shore of Lake Neusiedl stood the Volons in rank and file. They were waiting for something that was coming from the farther shore of the little cove. Presently the glistening surface of the water was ruffled by a black object that pushed out from the shore. It was a boat.
In a second the order was obeyed; the crimson shakos with their grim death-heads were donned, and the troop dashed forward upon the escort accompanying the coach. The astonished cuirassiers, who were wholly unprepared for the assault, were soon overpowered by the Volons, who also outnumbered them.
Ludwig hastened to his general, to beg for leave of absence. "Everything is ready," said Master Matyas to Vavel, pointing toward three covered luggage-wagons, which the Volons had captured from the Frenchmen at Klein-Zell.
The count made a fine-looking officer, with the crimson shako on his head, his mantle flung over one shoulder, his saber in his hand. When he saluted the ladies on their balconies, his spirited horse would rear and dance proudly. His company, the "Volons," had selected black and crimson as the colors for their uniform.
The "Death-head troop," as Vavel's Volons were designated, marched in the rear of the brigade; consequently they could drop out from it any time without attracting special notice. To-day the brigade marched toward Palota, and the Volons turned into the road which led to Zircz.
It was an inspiriting sight three hundred horsemen, every one of noble Hungarian blood. There were among them fathers of families, and brothers; and all of them soldiers of their own free will. Of such material was the troop of Volons, commanded by "Count Vavel von Fertöszeg." Count Vavel had a second volunteer company, composed of Satan Laczi and his comrades.
Matyas found Count Vavel with his troop already at Eszterhaza, and apprized him at once of De Fervlans's arrival at the bridge-inn. The Volons had not yet rested, but they had traveled over passable roads, and were not so exhausted. Their leader at once gave orders to mount. When Ludwig saw that Katharina also prepared to accompany the troop, he hurried to her side.
De Fervlans saw how his skilled demons gave way before Vavel's masterly thrusts, while the Volons drew their unfortunate trumpeter from beneath his horse, and assisted him to mount again, after they had also helped the horse to his feet. But the trumpet was now useless; it was filled with mud. Consequently a signal for retreat could not be sounded.
She did not bless it in words, but when she saw that Ludwig would not renounce his undertaking, she pressed her lips to the standard which bore the patrona Hungaria. That was her blessing! Then she turned and flung herself into Katharina's arms, sobbing, while hearty cheers rose from the Volons: "Why don't you try to prevent him from going away from us?
And everybody felt relieved when he marched farther with his troop. These were the transformed Volons. They had exchanged their crimson shakos in the dense forest for the French helmets, and wrapped themselves in the blue mantles taken from the luggage-wagons.