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We pick up with Chapter 12 ("The House-warming"), and once again the plot is moving as fast as it damn well feels like, thank you very much. Oh, there are some plot points, to be sure, but this chapter's all about the housewarming party, and thanks to Flora's intelligence report on the guests, Fanny is hard at work winning friends and influencing people.

She received Count Szépkiesdy with all the grave respect due to the most honourable of patriots, and assured him that she had long since learnt to admire him as a great orator and a noble-minded man. The Count inwardly cursed and swore at meeting with some one who regarded him as a hero. To Count Gregory Erdey she extended a smiling salutation from afar, which he requited by saluting her with his hat in one hand and his wig in another, which provoked a roar of Homeric laughter from the assembled guests. The young buffoon had had his head clean shaved in order that his hair might grow all the stronger, so that his bald pate quite scared the weak-nerved members of the company. The young housewife curtsied low in humble silence before the Főispán Count Sárosdy and his wife, whereby she greatly pleased that aristocratic patriot. He admitted that middle-class girls are not so bad when they have been brought up in gentlemen's families. And Fanny completely won the favour of his consort by impressing upon her servants to be constantly in attendance on her ladyship, and fulfil all her wishes; for, although Countess Sárosdy had brought two of her own maids with her, she did not consider them sufficient. (pp. 268-9)
Mission accomplished. And she didn't even need a flight suit or an aircraft carrier.

Next came the dinner, complete with Gypsy fiddlers, toasts, and the gracious mercy of Mr. Jokai for sparing us the full account. Of course, we do get hints of the flavor:

The dinner lasted far into the night, and towards the end of it the company began to grow uproarious. The great patriot, as usual, related his lubricous, equivocal anecdotes without troubling himself very much as to whether ladies were present or not. He was wont to say Castis sunt omnia casta, "To the pure all things are pure," and whoever blushed had, no doubt, a good reason for blushing, and was therefore corrupt enough already. The ladies, however, pretended not to hear, and began conversing with their neighbours without taking any notice of the hoarse laughter of the young bucks, who held it a point of honour to applaud the witticisms of the great patriot.

Nevertheless every one did his best to enjoy himself as much as possible.

And who so happy as the Nabob?

It occurred to him that, scarce a year ago, he had sat in the same place where he was sitting now, and had seen a horrible sight; and now he saw by his side a young and enchanting wife, and around him a merry lively host of guests with cheerful, smiling faces. (pp. 269-70)

A horrible sight? Did he book Carrot Top for a week? Oh yes, the bedazzled you were...

In the midst of all this, Flora received a message from her husband Rudolf, and with Fanny found an out-of-the-way place to read it.

The lady broke the seal with a hand that trembled for joy, and, after pressing the letter to her heart, read its contents, which were as follows:—

"To-morrow I shall be at Kárpátfalva. There we shall meet. Rudolf. 1000." This "thousand" signified a thousand kisses.

How delighted the beloved wife was! Again and again she kissed the place where her husband's name was written, as if to snatch beforehand at least a hundred of the consignment of kisses; and then she concealed it in her bosom, as if to preserve the remaining nine hundred till later on; then she drew it forth once more, and read it over again, as if she could not quite remember the whole contents of the letter, but must needs read it anew in order to understand it properly; and then she kissed it over and over again until, at last, she herself did not know how many kisses she had taken.

And Fanny fully shared the joy of her friend, joy is so contagious. To-morrow Rudolf will arrive, and how nice it will then be for Flora! She will see the greatest joy that a loving heart can imagine, and will not be a bit jealous—no! she will rejoice in another's joy, rejoice in the happiness of her best friend, who possesses as her very own, so to speak, the man in whose honour every one has spoken so well and made such pretty speeches. And to-morrow he will be here; and, to make his wife happy till he comes, he has notified the day of his arrival. He does not come surreptitiously, unawares, like one who is jealous; but he lets her know of his coming beforehand, like one who is well assured of how greatly, how very greatly he is loved. Oh what a joy it will be even to look upon such happiness!

The two ladies with radiantly happy faces returned to the company, which diverted itself till midnight, when every one retired to his own room. Squire John helped his guests to their repose with a musical accompaniment, the gipsy band proceeding from window to window and intoning beneath each one a sleep-compelling symphony. Finally, the last note died away, and everybody dozed off, and dreamed beautiful dreams. The hunters dreamt of foxes (there was to be a hunt on the morrow), the orators dreamt of assemblies, Mr. Málnay dreamt of parties, Lady Szentirmay dreamt of her husband, and Fanny dreamt of that beautiful smiling countenance she had been thinking of so often, and which looked at her so kindly with its eloquent blue eyes and spoke to her with such a wondrously sweet voice. It is permissible, of course, to dream of anything.

Well, to-morrow! (pp. 271-3)

Well. To-morrow. And at this point, a valid question popped into my head: We haven't seen Count Rudolf yet. Fanny hasn't seen Count Rudolf yet, but she has built up this dream lover as a fixed point in her existence, and he's real enough to her that she would recognize him on first sight. If you connected the dots the way I did, then it begs the question: would Jokai really go there?

Not only that, but she's still dreaming about this fantasy man after marriage at a time in history where the institution was still Quite Worthy. Come on, Mister Author, you know that stuff never happens in real liiiiiahahaHAHAHAHA!!!! Sorry, but there's no way I was saying that with a straight face. Don't mind me, I'm as looney as a toon...

Chapter 13 ("The Hunt") brings us (well!) tomorrow(!), and we're goin' foxin', baby.
It was a glorious summer morning when the imposing cavalcade issued from the courtyard of Kárpáthy Castle. First of all came the ladies, so many slim, supple amazons, on prancing steeds, in the midst of a circle of noisy youths, who made their own horses dance and curvet by the side of their chosen dames; behind them came the wags of the party, on splendidly caparisoned rustic nags; and, last of all, the elderly ladies and gentlemen in their carriages. Squire John himself was in the saddle, and shewed all the world that he could hold his own with the smartest cavalier present, and everytime he looked at his wife he seemed to be twenty years younger, and his face beamed at the thought that she was such a pretty woman and he was her husband. (pp. 275-6)
Even our jolly pal Mike Kis comes galloping over the rise--he does a lot of last-minute arriving in this book. After all, that's why they mistook him for a gentleman at first.
Then, shaking hands right and left, and even finding time to throw a word or two to each of the foxhounds by name, he politely begged those who thronged him to make way, as he wished to pay his respects immediately to Madame Kárpáthy, whom, without the slightest embarrassment, he began to call a goddess, an angel on horseback, and other pretty names.

Unfortunately Fanny misunderstood him, and, regarding everything he said as so many capital jokes, rewarded them with far more laughter than their merits deserved.

"Squire John, Squire John!" cried Dame Marion, in a shrill, pointed sort of tone, to Kárpáthy, who was trotting beside her carriage, "if I were you I would not have a bosom friend who has the reputation of being irresistible."

"I am not jealous, your ladyship; that is the one little wheel which is wanting in my mechanism. I suppose it was left out of me when I was made—ha, ha, ha!"

"Then, if I were you, I would not come to a fox-hunt, lest my dogs should regard me as an Actæon."

"To give your ladyship cause to conduct yourself towards me like Diana, eh?"

Dame Marion pouted, and turned her head aside; the man was such a blockhead that he absolutely could not understand any attempt to aggravate him. (pp. 276-7)

It's lines like that last one which is why I read books like this. But of course, your mileage may vary...

Anyhow, before the party casts off, a few last-minute words with the lord of the manor and his wife.

Squire John selected from among the rest two pure snow-white hounds, and, whistling to them between his two fingers, led them to his wife.

"They are the finest and the boldest foxhounds in the whole pack."

"I know them: one is Cziczke, and the other Rajkó."

The two dogs, hearing their names mentioned, joyously leaped and bounded in their efforts to lick their mistress's hand as she sat on horseback.

It was very pleasant to Squire John to find that his wife knew his dogs by name, he was equally pleased to see that the dogs knew their mistress—ah! every one did her homage, both man and beast.

"But where, then, is Matyi?" inquired Fanny, looking about her.

"I am taking him with me."

"What, sir, are you going to take part in the race? Pray do not!"

"Why not? Don't you think me a good enough horseman?"

"I readily believe that you are; but pray, for my sake, do not proceed to prove it!"

"For your sake I will immediately dismount."

Flora whispered to Count Gregory, who was riding by her side, "I should like to know how many of the husbands present would give up hunting for the sake of their wives?"

And, indeed, Squire John's affection must have been something altogether out of the way to make him renounce his favourite pastime in the joyful anticipation of which he had been living for months beforehand, simply to please his wife. Fanny, deeply touched, held out her hands towards him.

"You are not angry with me, I hope," said she; "but I feel so frightened on your account." (pp. 278-9)

Well, obviously not everybody's going. It only makes sense, because the old man might fall off the horse and kill the story...I mean himself.

With Master John holding down the homefront, the hunt begins, and the narrative concentrates (very heavily) on the dogs and the fox--the dogs snapping at fox, the fox snapping at the dogs. All kinds of stuff like there, which makes for interesting reading but doesn't play into my purpose here, so you'll forgive me if I just cut to the meat of things.

After him!

Off galloped the whole party in the track of the hounds, the faces of the two ladies were aglow with the passionate ardour of the chase, and at that instant there occurred to the mind of Fanny her vision of long ago: what if he, her nameless ideal, were now galloping beside her on his swift-footed steed, and could see her impetuously heading the chase till she threw herself down before him, and died there, without anybody knowing why! But Flora thought: "Suppose Rudolf were now to come face to face with me, and see me"—and then she felt again how much she loved him.

And now the fox suddenly emerged again on the open. A newly mown field, of a thousand acres or so in extent, covered with rows of haycocks, lay right before the huntsmen; and here the really interesting part of the hunt began. The fox was a fine specimen, about as big as a young wolf, but much longer in the body, and carrying behind him a provokingly big brush. He trotted leisurely in front, not because he could not go quicker, but because he wanted to economize his strength, and all the time he kept dodging to and fro, backwards and forwards, in the endeavour to tire his enemies out, and ceaselessly threw glances behind him at his pursuers, out of half an eye, keeping about a hundred paces in front of them, and accelerating his pace whenever he perceived that the distance between him and them was diminishing.

And yet the very best hounds of Squire John's—Cziczke, the two white ones, and Rajkó, Matyi, big Ordas, Michael Kis's Fecske, and Count Gregory's Armida, to say nothing of the whole canine army behind them, were hard upon his traces. (pp. 281-2)

That thing where Flora was thinking about her husband as Fanny was thinking about her fantasy lover...oh nonono, just coincidence. Not foreshadowing at all. The author wouldn't dare go there.

So it's back to dogs and foxes, foxes and dogs...but soft! What be this brouhaha coming over the rise?

Here a pretty high fence confronted the hunters, which they were obliged to take, and which gave both the ladies another opportunity of showing their agility; both of them successfully cleared it. At that moment they perceived a horseman coming towards them on the high-road, whom, owing partly to the high bushes and partly to their attention being directed elsewhere, they had not observed before.

"'Tis he!"

Flora's face that instant grew redder than ever, while Fanny's turned as pale as death.

"'Tis he!"

Both of them recognized him at the same time. 'Tis he, the loving husband of the one, the beloved ideal of the other.

Flora rushed towards him with a cry of joy. "Rudolf! Rudolf!" she cried.

Fanny, in dumb despair, turned her horse's head, and began to gallop back again. (pp. 284-5)

Of course Jokai went there. It was such a compelling there to go that there was never any doubt. And since the hunting party thinks Fanny's horse is running away with her, instead of the other way around, Rudolf catches up with her and snatches her off the horse just in time for her to pass out. And isn't that just a dandy scene for the chapter end?

A couple of random thoughts to close out this entry:
  • Hey, we're past the halfway point on book #1! Somebody buy me a cake or something!
  • Yeah, even less of my jokey joke stuff this time around. Maybe I'm giving this section the short end because I smell melodrama in the wind. That's my fox for this blog, and I'm chasing it like the dog that I am.
  • Maybe it's because I'm picking up speed, but these past few chapters have seemed particularly short. Not DaVinci Code bite-sized chunks with their tiny, tiny words and tinier, tinier thoughts, but consider that the first chapter was 31 pages long and the last three were all under 10. It does make things feel a bit brisker, especially if you're "watching the clock" like I am, but makes me wonder if these are the chapters that were heavily edited by Mr. Bain.
  • Part of me wished the dream man would be Mike Kis, seeing as how much page-space was spent setting him up and yet he's effectively a bit player in the story at all so far. Still, that sets up one of those emotional conflicts that my instinct tells me the romantic, sentimental side of the story will be happy to wallow in.
Next: The wallowing. The chapter's called "Martyrdom", what else are we supposed to expect?


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