Page:True stories of girl heroines.djvu/249

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Helen Kottenner

him and his soldiers raging into the vault; and then, as they knew well, there would be no escape. Instant death might as likely as not be their fate.

The maidens who occupied the now desolate Royal apartments were overjoyed to see Helen, and to learn that they were to start forth upon the morrow. Helen arranged that she and the old woman should occupy the Queen's room that night, whilst the other maidens took the one adjoining. It seemed long to her impatience ere they had got their packings done; and their chatter sounded meaningless as it fell upon her strained and anxious ears. Pan Vilga came in and out to help and hasten matters, exchanging gay salutations with the merry girls, but striving always to hasten proceedings, and warning them to retire early, as they must be off betimes. Ever and anon he would give Helen a quick look of sympathy, and once he contrived to whisper as he passed:

"Have a care that we have candles enough and to spare!"

At last the girls had made their preparations and were ready to retire. The old woman had brought many tapers, as Helen had spoken of keeping a vigil in the adjoining chapel, and praying for the Queen's health and safety. This accounted to the old crone for the fact that her lady did not undress; but she had no mind to share the vigil, and was quickly snoring loudly in her bed in the corner.