While considering a way to prevent the prince from freeing the Lady Seseley, the Red Rogue happened to think of these mirrors, which had never yet been used. So he went stealthily into the great hall and drew aside the covering from one of the mirrors. He did not dare look into the mirror himself, but hurried away to another room, and then sent a page up a back stairway to summon the Lady Seseley and her two maids into his presence.
The girls at once obeyed, for they greatly feared the Red Rogue; and of course they descended the front stairway and walked through the great hall. At once the large mirror that had been exposed to view caught the eye of Seseley, and she paused to regard her reflection in the glass. Her two companions did likewise, and instantly all three girls became invisible, while the mirror held their reflections fast in its magic surface.
The Red Rogue was watching them through a crack in the door, and seeing the girls disappear he gave a joyful laugh and exclaimed:
"Now let Prince Marvel find them if he can!"
The three girls began to wander aimlessly through the castle; for not only were they invisible to others, but also to themselves and to one another, and they knew not what to do nor which way to turn.
24. The Enchanted Mirrors
Presently Prince Marvel and his party arrived and paused before the doors of the castle, where the Red Rogue stood bowing to them with mock politeness and with an evil grin showing on his red face.
"I come to demand the release of the Lady Seseley and her companions!" Prince Marvel announced, in a bold voice. "And I also intend to call you to account for the murder of Baron Merd."
"You must be at the wrong castle," answered the Red One, "for I have murdered no baron, nor have I any Lady Seseley as prisoner."
"Are you not the Red Rogue of Dawna?" demanded the prince.
"Men call me by that name," acknowledged the other.
"Then you are deceiving me," said the prince.
"No, indeed!" answered the Red Rogue, mockingly. "I wouldn't deceive any one for the world. But, if you don't believe me, you are welcome to search my castle."
"That I shall do," returned the prince, sternly, "whether I have your permission or not," and he began to dismount. But Nerle restrained him, saying:
"Master, I beg you will allow me to search the castle. For this Red Rogue is playing some trick upon us, I am sure, and if anything happened to you there would be no one to protect the little High Ki and our other friends."
"But suppose something should happen to you?" inquired the prince, anxiously.
"In that case," said Nerle, "you can avenge me."
The advice was so reasonable, under the circumstances, that the prince decided to act upon it.
"Very well," said he, "go and search the castle, and I will remain with our friends. But if anything happens to you, I shall call the Red Rogue to account."
So Nerle entered the castle, passing by the huge form of its owner, who only nodded to the boy and grinned with delight.
The esquire found himself in the great hall and began to look around him, but without seeing any one. Then he advanced a few steps and, to his surprise, discovered a large mirror, in which were reflected the faces and forms of three girls, as well as his own.
"Why, here they are!" he attempted to say; but he could not hear his own voice. He glanced down at himself but could see nothing at all--for his body had become invisible. His reflection was still in the glass, and he knew that his body existed the same as before; but although he yet saw plainly the hall and all that it contained, he could see neither himself nor any other person of flesh.
After waiting a considerable time for his esquire to reappear Prince Marvel became impatient.
"What have you done with Nerle?" he asked of the Red Rogue.
"Nothing," was the reply. "I have been here, plainly within your sight, every moment."
"Let me go and find him!" exclaimed King Terribus, and rushed into the castle before the prince could reply.