The Project Gutenberg EBook of Withered Leaves. Vol. III.(of III), by 
Rudolf von Gottschall

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Title: Withered Leaves. Vol. III.(of III)
       A Novel

Author: Rudolf von Gottschall

Translator: Bertha Ness

Release Date: February 23, 2011 [EBook #35373]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Charles Bowen, from page scans provided by Google Books

Transcriber's Notes:
1. Page scan source:

2. The diphthong oe is represented by œ.





Author of "Under a Charm," "Success and How He Won it," &c.

3 VOLS. 31s. 6d.

"The loves of Bruno and Lucie are simply told with that accompaniment of mysterious sympathy in the inanimate surroundings of their struggles, which is the highest application of true literary insight into nature."--Athenæum.

"The incidents are striking * * * * * The whole scene rises before the reader with as much clearness as if it were represented before him on the stage."--Saturday Review.

"The ability of Werner's Novels is implied in the simultaneous publication of two translations of 'Sacred Vows.' His scenes are more than paintings, they are sculptures, and stand out in alto relievo, distinctly conceived and vigorously executed."--The British Quarterly.

REMINGTON & Co., 5, Arundel Street, Strand, W.C.


A Novel,


Rudolf von Gottschall.



Translator of Werner's "Riven Bonds" and "Sacred Vows."




5, Arundel Street, Stand, W.C.


[All Rights Reserved.]


I.-- Primavera.
II.-- In the Lion's Den.
III.-- The Mistress of the Boarding School.
IV.-- In the Forest of Juditenkirchen.
V.-- Internal Struggles.
VI.-- A Sleighing Party.
VII.-- In the Land of the Lotus-Flowers.
VIII.-- In the Church of San Giulio.
IX.-- The Bridal Jewels.
X.-- The Wedding Day.
XI.-- A Legacy.
XII-- Confessions.
XIII.-- To the East!




Primavera--in the midst of winter, which sketched its frozen pictures upon the window!

Primavera--and yet a midsummer of love, which had long since gathered the blossoms of spring for its transient enjoyment!

And Blanden wooed Giulia with a passion which, possessing no history of the past, asserting no prior right, only living in his recollections as if it were the fairy-like charm of a dream, will conquer her love for the bright day of the present; yes, for the endurance of a life time. He did not strive to obtain the renewal of former affection; she had from the very first resisted everything that could encourage such wooing; he was resolved to win her hand, and to defy those prejudices which could pronounce his union with a singer to be unsuitable.

But ardent as was his passion, much as her beauty, intellect, talent and her great knowledge of the world and of life fascinated him, he was yet by no means disposed blindly to follow his heart's inclination; he could even not suppress a soft warning voice of suspicion, which he was obliged to term ungrateful, because it was connected with their own former meeting--could this admired actress always have withstood the temptations that beset her upon her path of triumph?

Did not smiling Euphrosyne cast roses into her lap, as the goddess stood beside victory upon her car of triumph, decking her with laurels? How many phenomena of theatrical fame do but shine through a dim vapour which the repute of their evil habits of life spreads around them, and it was not Blanden's intention to guide one of these beauties, weary of adventures, into a haven of refuge.

In the town even her enemies did not attack her character; she possessed admirers, but she favoured none; all that Blanden learned there, spoke in favour of the singer, but this did not suffice him. During his travels he had formed many connections in the various capitals of Europe, in Paris and London, in Rome and Florence; everywhere he had friends and acquaintances who were familiar with art and theatrical life. Immediately after the performance of "Norma," when the thought first was kindled within him of calling this beautiful woman his own, he had written to all these people to obtain information as to the actress' life and character. Day by day the replies now came in; not one single letter contained an accusation, a shred of suspicion; the testimony that was given to the singer's private life was most brilliant. No scandal had contributed to the augmentation of her fame; she owed it entirely to her talent, of which all spoke with admiration.

Blanden dropped all suspicions, and the project of making Giulia his wife took still deeper root. He had reason to expect that she would be ready to resign the stage, as she had frequently lamented the disappointments to which she was daily more and more exposed in her artistic career; nor did she conceal a feeling, which caused her uneasiness, the conviction that the epoch of her glory was at an end, and that the decadence of her voice was making its announcement gently but perceptibly. Surely therefore was she often so melancholy; who would not, with a heavy heart, bear the claims of a day of reckoning as it crumbles from us one object of pride, one advantage after another, and with such cruel indifference sweeps away all the flowers of our life.

Primavera! But there is a spring-time of feeling, which time cannot kill. It was that which bound Giulia to the wintry provincial town, when she might have been celebrating her triumphs in the capitals of the south.

This it was that made her await the arrival of her friend with a palpitating heart, as she had once awaited him in the moonlight by Lago Maggiore; and if to her other admirers she made no secret of his visits; if she denied herself to them as soon as he was present, or received him at a time when she was inaccessible to others; in so doing she obeyed no decree of prudence which counselled her not to alienate her other enthusiastic friends by distinguishing the one; it was a necessity, a happiness for her to have him quite alone; happiness that might not be desecrated by contact with the world.

Blanden still exercised the same entrancing magic over her as in those days of unguarded devotion; she had remained true to him since that time, little as it was his right or her duty thus to continue faithful. His image alone accompanied her through life; all emotions to which she must give expression upon the stage were for him. She confessed it to him, and he uttered no doubt of such assurances. Blanden's person would account for such passion; it was distinguished and possessed of a peculiar charm. An enthusiast, a dreamer, as he had been from his youth upwards, he seemed to be one still, when, with half-closed languid eyes, he buried himself in the rich stores of his mental life; but then they would suddenly flash and open, and gleam with passion and manly power. In all else he was in perfect harmony; his figure symmetrical, the well-bred smile upon his lips, full of intellectual superiority; his conversation, in earnest and in jest, combined sweetness and charm. As Desdemona to Othello's tales, Giulia listened to the descriptions of the adventures which Blanden had met with in distant lands and oceans, he raised her imagination far above the painted decorations of theatrical life; she was susceptible to all the grandeur and beauty of nature, to all intellectual struggles; only the unrest and bustle of her artist's calling prevented her giving herself up to those mental enjoyments for which she longed now more fervently than formerly. To her it would have appeared unutterable bliss to belong entirely to the man in company with whom she might revel in such enjoyments; to the man who offered her a refuge from the tempests of stage life. With what just pride she would have borne the name with which that noble scion represented a family so esteemed in the world!

And yet--from out the past one shoal reared itself in her life: a shoal upon which all her proud dreams of a future should be wrecked.

In sleepless nights she meditated how she could guide her ship round that reef; her senses became confused in the rapid flight of thought from one possibility to another, which, clutched convulsively, never granted a firm hold; sometimes she rose to the daring venture of defying those rocks and trying if the high storm-lashed billows of her life would not bear her over. Her experiences upon the stage became daily more unpleasant, the enthusiasm of her adherents more disputed by steady opposition.

These were the results of Spiegeler's malicious condemnation.

On the other hand the poet Schöner prepared one slight pleasure for her; he who belonged to her warmest admirers, and two years ago had striven eagerly to gain her favour, but who had been rejected. For a long time he avoided all intercourse with her, but without bearing any ill-will remained one of her most zealous adorers. Now, when her enemies roused themselves, he sought her out again, and, like a troubadour, devoted his lyre to the noble lady. He read a poem to her, in which he sang of her as the primavera of Baltic winter, and at the same time attacked her opponents with epigrammatic arrows, and those mighty blows which he had acquired in the fencing-school of political poetry.

The poem appeared in the most important papers, and again increased the diminishing numbers of Giulia's followers. She was heartily grateful to him for it, because she perceived that his thoughts were noble and free from personal motives, that he but followed his own convictions.

The more retiringly Schöner behaved, the more obtrusive became Lieutenant Buschmann; he could not accustom himself to the idea that he must retire from so long a siege without success. The uniform friendliness of the singer seemed to him like scorn; from day to day he hoped for a more passionate return. Constantly renewed disappointment embittered him. His character was somewhat violent, he tolerated no barriers, and once when the singer, through her maid, refused him admittance on a morning call, he forced himself ruthlessly into her boudoir, and reproached her passionately.

It was the day after his visit to Frau Hecht's kitchen, when Blanden met the Italian again in the street. Arrested on the previous evening, Baluzzi was once more set free.

Blanden took advantage of this chance encounter to lead the conversation to the amber merchant. Giulia only vouchsafed meagre information; he was a distant connection of hers, who often importuned her with petitions, as he had once performed some great service out of gratitude for which she had taken him under her protection. Then she broke off the conversation, it was evidently an unwelcome subject. But she remained abstracted all the evening, and even confounded two Italian composers with whom she had been familiar from her youth upwards.

After a sleepless night, Giulia had a long conversation with her friend.

"It cannot go on so, Beate! The internal conflict consumes me. His claims become more and more unbounded; how happy I was when he, fettered by illness or misfortune of long duration, the veil of which he will not raise, remained in the interior of Russia; I breathed freely; now more than ever, I am in his bondage."

Beate shrugged her shoulders.

"Notwithstanding all your brilliant receipts, we shall be beggars again."

"Oh, that is not the worst! I would give up everything if I could purchase my freedom!"

"That is not his wish! He would spend everything at once; he also prefers to have a safe reserve for the future."

"Oh, there is a hell that binds us for evermore. Lasciate ogni speranza voi che entrale! You are clever and cunning, Beate! Try once more if you cannot set me free. I have no more ideas, no more plans! Whenever I ponder over it, my senses become desolate and dead. I stare into vacuity!"

"What can we do?--we must exercise patience. But if it continue thus, we shall have nothing left."

"Go to him, Beate! Pray, implore."

"To him! You ask no small matter. I should venture into a robber's cave, late at night--for at an earlier hour he could not be found--into a gambling hell, for I know he has opened one here!"

"You have already done much for me, make this sacrifice also."

"Oh, I am not afraid, and if I met a lion in the cage, I would pull his mane; he should do nothing to me. But he will reject my propositions as he has always done. Yes, even if I found proofs."

"Proofs! They will not give me back my freedom--yes, if he would, if he became a subject of this country--we could appeal to justice; it would even decide against the verdict of the church."

"Proofs never do any harm--who knows what may happen? Perhaps his speculations may some day oblige him to settle down here--then it would always be well to possess proofs that may be turned against him, but it will be difficult, almost impossible! However, I will venture to go and seek him this evening. Perhaps chance may favour me."

"A craving for happiness has come over me, so intense as to strain every nerve in my bosom. A glance at the smiling horizon brightens our souls--and yet tears stand in our eyes. We weep with a prescience of happiness which nevertheless appears to be unattainable. I do not know why the pictures of my life crowd like feverish visions around me. I seem to hear the sound of bells in the days of my childhood; I see myself, dressed, go with the other children over high hills to the pilgrims' chapel; then another bell ringing sounds in my ear. In those days I did not know that it was the death-knell of all my life! Then again I hear the exulting applause of many thousands, whom my song delights, and yet I would give it all up for one whispered word of love, of love that had the right to lasting happiness."

Giulia was to sing in the "Somnambula" on that evening; she felt in harmony with the part, to herself she often appeared to be walking in her sleep.

Blanden came after the close of the theatre, and was admitted; Beate hid her dark curls beneath a hood and begged Giulia for a dagger.

"I am going to the bandit, I must protect myself!"

Giulia started; a dagger always awoke gruesome recollections in her.

Blanden smiled, "Probably some masquerade?"

"Corpo di bacco," said Beate, "the mask is not wanting, but the fun is desperately poor."

She received the dagger from her friend, and was dismissed with a kiss.

Outside, Beate gave the maid instructions to be on the alert and to wait for her even if she should return late. Antonie listened to the directions with lowered eyelids and humble obedience, but at heart she had decided differently. She knew that Blanden would stay at least an hour, and if she should not disturb them, she would follow her own amusements quite as undisturbedly.

Exactly opposite, in the large hall, there was a people's ball, and Friederich, a cunning child of Berlin, servant to Lieutenant Buschmann, had invited her to dance there with him for a little while, and had promised to fetch her. All were pursuing their own pleasures, why should she alone pass the time in solitude?

Giulia was melancholy, Blanden in a softened mood.

Outside, jingled the bells of the sleighs, the winter sky, hard as steel, was covered with clouds, and heavy dense snow-flakes, which fell down soft as wool, proclaimed that the cold had diminished.

The room was so homelike. The tea, which with all its accompaniments, had been brought in by Antonie, who was then graciously dismissed, infused upon the table. The fire crackled on the hearth.

There was nothing to remind one of theatrical tinsel, everything bore the impress of domestic comfort, to which the busts of the great masters of art lent a radiance of idealism.

"Only the north knows this homelike comfort," said Blanden, "the Laplander in his smoky hut, the dweller in Kamskatka who has unharnessed his dogs, feel it more than the happy children of the south, who wander beneath palms."

"And more perhaps than we," added Giulia, "because as the crackling coals upon the hearth, so do fading dreams stir in our souls, and often burst once more into flames; of what use is this room's repose, if that in our hearts be wanting?"

"That repose is best found in genial companionship; words have not yet lost the spell of their magic power; familiar communication from lip to lip can absolve us, it is the secret of the confessional."

Giulia felt the truth of these words in her inmost heart; how everything within her urged her to such absolution, and yet--it could not be, 'twas vain!

Convulsive sobs overcame her, and Blanden was amazed at the intensity of the emotions which his passing remark had roused. How light her heart would have been if she could have imparted to her friend all that engrossed and tortured her day and night!

Yes, if he had only been a friend! But he should be more, be everything to her, and one candid word could destroy her whole future. Perhaps she might still succeed in breaking the evil magic to which she had succumbed. Thus silence must be maintained.

Together they read the recollections of Silvio Pellico; a deep impression was made upon them by the picture of an artist in chains and fetters--oh, those were not the worst which hung from the iron ring of a prison wall.

She displayed the greatest sympathy; to her it was as if the damp air wafted through the casemates of the Spielberg filled her life, too, with the same mouldy breath.

She spoke of the castle of Chillon; that little spot had filled her with intense sadness. There were plenty of dungeon towers for salamanders and frogs, but this tomb of freedom made such a deeply melancholy impression, surrounded as it is by the waves of a beautiful lake, and granting a view of the peaks, high as heaven, of the Savoy alps, which rise in the air like a fortress of liberty. It is this contrast that makes such a painful impression, and as if called forth by deepest emotions, she uttered the beautiful verse out of the "Ruins" by Anastatius Grün--

"Oh, shade of my freedom fly not so fast,

For thee my heart yearns and craves ever more,

Like a fugitive bird that has clang to a mast,

When lost to its sight is the far away shore."

Such ardent longing for liberty, for release, was shown in her recital of these lines, in the tone of her voice, it was like the cry of distress of a whole life, and at the same time the expression of utter devotion.

Blanden could not help it, he folded the beautiful woman to his heart, and pressed a glowing kiss upon her lips.

At that moment some one knocked, and simultaneously the door was thrown open.

Lieutenant Buschmann entered; disappointment and rage held him spell-bound, so that he stood as if rooted to the ground; his bold attack, upon which he had staked his last hope, had been shamefully frustrated, but at least he possessed the proof that Giulia favoured another, that her reserve was a lie.

His cheeks, always red, burned like fire, and he stamped his jingling spurs upon the floor.

Everything had commenced so hopefully. Antonie had gone to the ball with Friederich, and had entrusted the house and door key to the latter's care. Under some pretence the officer's cunning servant had left the ball for a short time, proceeded to his master's dwelling close by, and delivered up the key of the fortress to that master.

The game so far had succeeded, Friederich was once more dancing merrily with his unsuspicious partner.

Blanden sprang from the sofa, and stepped defiantly towards the intruder.

"Has this gentleman the right to intrude here?" he asked Giulia.

"No--by heaven, no! Only by force or cunning can he have obtained admission. Protect me from him!"

Giulia covered her face with her hands.

"Your conduct is shameless, sir!" cried Blanden to the officer.

"Not another word with you! But one word still with this lady, who has deceived us all; I owe it to the favour of chance that I have torn from her the mask with which she has passed before the world as an inexorable woman."

"You shall leave the room this moment," said Blanden with firm determination, "I have the right to bid you do so, because Signora Giulia Bollini--is engaged to me!"

With a loud cry, Giulia sank into the sofa cushions.

"Well, then, I congratulate you upon the Polter-abend,"[1] said Buschmann scornfully, as he turned upon his heels and left the room amid the clatter of his spurs.

"What have you done?" said Giulia, as she gazed at Blanden with large tearful eyes, her hand raised as if in protest, and sobbing with internal agitation.

"I will protect you against all the world," cried Blanden with, overwhelming emotion, "my Giulia, my betrothed!"

And she lay in his arms, half unconscious, acquiescent, infinitely blissful, and desperately defiant of fate.

"Come what may," whispered she, "I am yours."



Beate looked enterprising enough in the Spanish mantilla, which she had thrown as a hood over her head; her little eyes sparkled; she resembled a tiger cat, going out in search of prey.

She rang at the door of a large house, and before the sleepy porter opened it, she tried whether the dagger would spring easily and quickly out of its sheath.

She knew the way; it led through a spacious hall, and through a second door standing open, past a back building of stables and sheds, which looked as if some manor house had gone astray in the town.

Then she arrived at a small gate, and through the railing perceived a two-storied garden house, of which the shutters were closed; only through the door, draped with curtains on the ground floor, gleamed a red light, whose lost reflection fell upon the silver of the frosty snow, with which the nearest yew trees were covered.

The gate was locked. Beate had to ring again.

Then the snow crackled, and a gnome-like creature crept up to the gate; almost buried beneath the weight of snow which the clouds and trees had shed upon her, she stared at the stranger with glaring eyes; she looked like an Esquimaux woman, at whose hut some stranger's hand knocks.

It was Kätchen! After that meeting with Blanden she had stayed up in her chamber; had tossed about upon her straw couch as if in feverish delirium, until the grey morn rose above the roofs, then she had fallen fast asleep. But mother Hecht knew no consideration for lazy maid-servants, who neglected their duties--and when Kätchen, on the following morning, appeared in the kitchen with hollow eyes and pallid face, she was immediately driven out of the house.

The Italian, who had known her at the sea-side, and had long had an eye upon her, had also often spoken to her in the witch's kitchen, heard of it; according to his views she combined two qualities which were of equal value for his purposes; want of understanding, sullen indifference to all that lay beyond her horizon, and a marvellously developed instinct for everything in which she was interested. That which was repulsive, even idiotic in her nature, was peculiarly acceptable to him; she passed unnoticed, no one cared about her. Thus she could do excellent service as a spy, and at night she was always to be found at her post as porteress and sentinel where forbidden pleasures were pursued.

"Open the gate," said Beate. Kätchen examined her from head to foot, and shrugged her shoulders.

"Aprite dunque," repeated Beate angrily, although the porteress, who seemed to belong to the polar regions, did not bear the least resemblance to an Italian.

Kätchen asked her name. Beate gave her a card, upon which were written the words Beate Romani.

The little porteress sprang along the garden walk, in doing which it pleased her to sweep the bushes in the nearest beds, so that their boughs rattled, and threw out clouds of snow.

Beate became impatient, she had to wait a long time; she shook the bars of the railing like a wild beast in a cage.

At last Käthe returned and opened the garden gate. Beate followed her into the villa, they passed through a garden lighted with red lamps, up a flight of steps, covered with a lovely carpet. Beate had to wait in an ante-room; deathlike silence reigned in both the adjoining chambers disturbed by no cry, by no chink of money, as she had expected.

She looked at a picture on the wall; it represented a little church upon an island in a lake; on all sides, high, bare hills, which glowed in the radiant colouring of an Italian evening sky. She knew that church, and gazed at the picture with a shrug of her shoulders; it awoke a reminiscence, which at that moment was very unwelcome. And what mockery--the house of God in the antechamber of a gambling hell!

"I have not time now, Beate," said Baluzzi curtly, as he entered through a side door, "but I will make you a proposal! I have visitors with me, whom I am amusing with various games, now we are at roulette! Be my guest--che ne dite?"

"What shall I do there? Lose my good name?"

"Puo darsi! That is not an article which I keep in stock, but neither do those seek it who come to me. However, we are silent. If the means are wanting, I am at your service."

"I do not play!"

"Remember Monaco, you were a fisher of gold, the money clung to your rod."

"I am not prepared for it to-day."

"Here you have money, you shall play for me! But come, come, I have not time to talk."

Beate was not at all disinclined to take a peep into the secrets of the gaming hell; perhaps she might succeed in discovering something that could be useful to her friend; she allowed herself to be persuaded, laid cloak and hood aside, while Baluzzi said to her--

"You are doing me a slight favour, Beate! I need the fair sex in my parties, my graces gain wrinkles! But you are quite a pretty child, such a little snake with red, fiery eyes, you are a diavolessa. I know you; tanto meglio!"

Meanwhile they had traversed two empty rooms, and entered a brilliantly lighted saloon, the windows of which were made doubly safe by shutters and curtains.

A loud buzz of conversation met the new comers, the game having been interrupted. Baluzzi seemed happy to have captured an Italian woman, and, with some pride, introduced Beate to those present as his countrywoman.

"Beate Romani--whence did this golden orange drop?" said an elderly lady, with a complexion yellow as a citron, to her young neighbour, in a low dress. The latter put her eyeglass more firmly upon her pug nose, and replied--

"Little and impudent--a soubrette! The captain is talking to her already; she seems to be pert."

The Polish Captain of Lancers, a Herr von Mierowski, did, indeed, find pleasure in the wily Italian, whose smile was so charmingly reserved. At the same time she let her eyes pass over the assembly, and especially examined the ladies; of these there were four: the mother, with the yellow tint in her face, and daughter, with the pug nose, also bore Polish names, consisting of a whole plica polonica of letters. Then there was another beauty in pink silk. That rose was a Berlin lady, of remarkable loquacity. Her face did not correspond with her toilet's language of flowers; she was pale as wax, and the pink ribbons flowed down from flaxen hair. The fourth lady was an unusually slender sylph, and Beate guessed correctly and quickly that she must be a late performer in some ballet, who, after having gradually retreated from the front row into the very last, had retired with honours from the field of renown. She was a French-woman, who pretended to have taken part in the Grand Opera, but who certainly had earned her questionable laurels in booths, or on similar stages.

The female company answered to that which is termed refuse at an annual fair--gay glazed ware, full of bubbles and cracks. Beate soon recognised this, but without being particularly contented with that result of her observations. She knew only too well that none of these Circes could have won Baluzzi's affections.

Several patrician sons were to be found amongst the gentlemen, who rather prided themselves upon trying their luck at the gaming table, and having discovered a miniature Homburg and Baden-Baden in the city of pure reason, at which were not wanting the Graces, who rustled their silks through the state rooms and along the terraces. A Russian prince, possessor of many serfs, was very impatient at the pause in the game, and walked angrily up and down, caring as little about the seductive beauties as if they had been painted in faded colours upon the walls.

The play began afresh; the roulette ball commenced its fatal course; people betted upon rouge and noir upon pair and impair, here and there also considerable sums were placed upon single numbers, which Baluzzi swept off with great satisfaction. The little gaming table was arranged exactly after the pattern of the larger Rhenish banks, and here, despite the small dimensions, sums could be lost which were not at all proportionate to those dimensions. The young merchant sons rejoiced over the losses, as much as over their gains, because they could thus show that it mattered not at all to them how they sacrificed vast sums, the loss of which would have reduced others to a state of nervous agitation.

Most eager was the Pole; he belonged to those persons who have converted hazard into a system, and who lose themselves in deep calculations as to the chances of the game; he sat with a little writing tablet in his hand, and carefully noted the occurrences at the green board, laughed at by the free thinkers of the gaming table, who believe in chance only, just as others perceive but a game of hazard in the great comedy of the world, and ridicule the thinkers who strive to reduce it into a system. The mother and her flaxen-haired daughter also played devotedly, although they merely pledged small sums; at each gain or loss, a red streak suffused the yellow-bronzed complexion of the mother, and the waxen features of the daughter received a sudden crimson glow, which vanished again just as quickly.

Despite all absorption in the hieroglyphics of chance, Mierowski had leisure sufficient to observe Beate's mode of playing, which in its thoughtless recklessness pierced his heart. Owing to the lively interest which he felt in the dainty Italian, he could no longer look calmly on; he rose from the table, and whispered the necessary hints to her, not omitting to squeeze her hand in token of his friendship.

Beate followed these hints, and lost bravely, an event which seemed to confuse all rules of the gambling method. He was all the more eagerly bent upon proving the truth of his calculations by means of his own success.

The heaps of gold on his right hand increased; the Polish mamma entered into partnership with him already, and the flaxen-haired daughter was much inclined to follow her example, but her neighbour and protector, the son of the Kommerzienrath, in the Kneiphöf Lang-gasse, beneath whose pennon her louis d'ors ventured out to sea, would never have given his consent; he looked askant at the augmenting treasures of the Pole. Baluzzi also became uneasy, because Mierowski steadily increased his stakes.

At last that state of feverish excitement set in which always precedes any great crisis. The battle only raged between the banker and Mierowski; all others as it were merely paid the entrance money with their small stakes, in order to be present at this performance. The victory suddenly seemed to incline to Baluzzi's side; twice following he swept in heavy amounts. But the Pole doubled and trebled the stake in order to break the bank, "Le jeu est fait," rang forth; with beating hearts the little circle awaited the result which the weird, rolling ball should bring. Beate had become pale as death, she knew that this ball would once more pierce another's heart.

"Va banque," rang the Pole's cry of victory; all sprang up in tumultuous excitement, so that the heaps of gold were scattered in all directions, and some louis d'ors rolled upon the ground.

With apparent composure Baluzzi said--

"For to-day I acknowledge myself conquered, but the fortune of war changes."

At the same time he cast a venomous glance at the victorious Pole.

Beate took advantage of the tumult to retire unnoticed, and to await the Italian in a side room, so that her lengthy stay might not arouse observation.

Mierowski's glances sought her in vain, as he rushed away with his treasures; he was possessed with a violent passion for little Beate, and was in a very liberal humour; he longed for another champagne orgie, and the Hebe for it had been found, and was lost.

Outside, he enquired of the half-witted porteress, for the little black lady from Italy.

Kätchen stared at him with astonished eyes, and several times repeated the word, "Gone!" with pantomimic gesture. In so doing she was obeying no injunction of Beate, but only her own instinct.

The whole party broke up noisily; the Polish women lighted their cigarettes, the pink Berlin lady disappeared in a grey sack-like winter cloak, which suited her flaxen hair better. The gentlemen eagerly discussed the last decisive battle, and were so excited and absorbed that Kätchen picked up several louis d'ors at the garden gate, as perquisites.

In the house itself all had suddenly become silent; a tired lacquey snored upon the bench in the hall; no one remembered to extinguish the lamps and candles; a current of air blew in through the open doors; several lights flickered and went out; others burned down and filled the air with their odour.

Baluzzi hastened, in wild excitement, through the saloons, and at last found Beate upon a divan in the farthest room in the suite of apartments. Only one hanging lamp shed a dim light.

Beate sprang up from the sofa and assumed an attitude prepared for defiance, for the Italian was greatly excited, and she knew that he would then recklessly indulge his wild nature.

"There you are--you would speak to me--benissimo. I too would speak to you; you are probably afraid of me, little cat? You have an evil conscience, yes, per dio, I might shake you to death, because you are to blame for the last hesitation."

At these words, he caught Beate with his powerful hand. But she drew out her dagger.

"Stand back! I expected ill-usage; but I am prepared to protect myself from it."

The Italian started back at the unexpected sight of the shining steel.

"Corpo del diavolo," cried he, "the little witch has provided herself well, but if I were to struggle with you--"

"Just try it!"

"You are a little brigandess; it pleases me, it is Italian blood! But you are also an intriguer, a shameless intriguer; she follows your advice. I know it! Why was I obliged to go to the debtors' prison? Could you not release me one day sooner? If it were not for the disturbance, your dagger should not deter me, and even if the little cat were to spring into my face, I should be able to settle her."

"Let us talk rationally, Baluzzi."

"With the dagger in your hand?"

"There is something like a wild beast about you! Fasten it in a cage--and the dagger shall return to its sheath."

"Well, I will control myself, although it is difficult for me at this moment. The misfortunes which persecute me, transport me into ever new rage. Could the cursed ball not roll differently? Sono alla disperazione."

He had seized a chair, and threw it to the ground with such force that the back broke.

"Has your rage nearly exhausted itself?" asked Beate.

"It was a relapse--I will be calm. Sit down. What have you to tell me?"

They sat down upon the sofa; Beate watched his every movement with a keen glance.

"Let us talk quietly! This cannot go on much longer!"

"My business with Russia shall set me up again! 'E una fatalita!' This maledetto polacco! If only they had massacred him at Ostrolenka, or beaten him to death with the knout in Siberia. He is a gambler by profession, and believes to be in possession of the only luck-bringing theory; but his theory is folly, while the misfortune is that he is fortunate. It is the second time already that he has broken my bank--without him I should be the luckiest player! He exercises an evil eye upon me--I curse him!"

"Leave that alone! The misfortune is the gambling--give it up, Baluzzi! You will ruin yourself, and us with you."

"She still sings splendidly; while the gold of her voice resounds, gold will resound in her money box."

"But her voice is deteriorating."

"Bad fellows say so, and I punished one of them lately. Her voice is still first-rate capital, will bring interest for long yet; there is no want of it."

"We shall come to want! You are a leech, an outrageous leech! She can hardly pay for her own dress! And, to-day, bad luck again! No sooner are your debts paid than a new demand menaces us. You are a bankrupt every eight days."

"I will give up gambling now; I have no luck. But business is hazard, too; the Russian frontier Guards are no joke."

"Can you pursue no respectable business?"

"Fill a paper bag with quattrini, every day another farthing, and lie down to sleep happily when one paper bag is full, and a fresh one can be twisted up--that is not my style! I do business on a large scale, I would live grandly, I must, therefore, risk much! All or nothing--va banque! What else can I do with your little honorariums? You have no right to interfere with me; you deceive me, and you especially, little Satan; you rouse her against me, and spin tissues of lies, and persuade her to plead poverty. But I will sweep away the spider's web you have woven, malicious spider that you are, and trample you under foot."

The Italian assumed a menacing aspect; Beate kept her hand upon the dagger.

"Afraid again? Those little watchful eyes, how well they become you, but I tell you I want money, much money, and she must give it me once more! Could she not save during that couple of years when I lost all traces of her, because I was stationed far away in the interior of Russia, and could not escape from vile ill-luck? Why did she not save? Why does she live like a princess? Probably she is collecting a dowry for you; you are, doubtlessly, a pretty little betrothed; some unhappy being has gone into your net, beguiled by that pretty visage! There is still time to warn him!"

"Calumny, vile calumny!"

"But I shall hold her fast! Do she not fulfil her duties, I shall appear again, and lay my hand upon her before all the world."

"It is on this point that I would speak to you, Baluzzi. There is only one means by which she can still provide for you, even if her talent has failed her."

"And that means?"

"You must set her free."

"How your eyes sparkle, little viper," cried Baluzzi, springing up. "That is a fine plan, probably conceived in this charming little head. Do not give yourselves any trouble, things will remain as they were."

"Your own interest--"

"Is thus best ensured. Will always be. I have certainty."

"There are sufficient grounds for you, according to the laws of this country, if you only will--"

"Grounds abundant as flowers in May, as mushrooms after rain; but I stand by the decree of the Church. I am not a subject of this country, and will not become one."

"But if we had reasons, proofs--"

"Aha, I repeat it, it is in vain--we stand under the laws of Italy and of the Church, and what will you prove? That which was done was done with her consent, according to her own desire, yet at first in opposition to mine; and who tells you that I do not love her, love her fervently, that I will always remain far from her? If she cease to be the queen of the stage, then she will belong to me once again. No more beautiful angel of damnation ever dwelled with Lucifer in the depths of hell! Ha! how my bonds will rise; she shall preside at the green board, it will be like a gaming hell in heaven! For me, at least, because she shall be my slave, whom I love and chastise at the same time."

"The dreams of a madman."

"If they are only beautiful, those dreams, enchantingly beautiful, then it is a foretaste, and the day will come on which this madness will seek and find its victim."

"Baluzzi, be reasonable," said Beate, insinuatingly, as she drew the Italian down beside her, "you are not so foolish as you pretend to be; you consented formerly, because you saw that it was for your mutual good. Be reasonable now, too!"

"How the little cat can caress with its velvet paws."

"There is something in the air that can do you good also!"

"I curse that something and him, for I hate him also."

"Jealousy still, senseless jealousy--sareble vero! She does not love you; you cannot force her to do so! Is she the only woman in the world? You give yourself freedom again. Take a large profit with you, and then trouble yourself no more about her! We others may not be so beautiful, to be sure, yet we are not made of marble either, but of flesh and blood, and, if our eyes have not such depth, they flash all the more merrily."

Beate looked at the gambler with seductive glances. He put his arms round her supple form, which only resisted feebly, pressed a kiss upon her lips, but then wrenched himself away, pushed her from him, and cried, as he sprang up--

"Corpo di bacco, I know you, diavola! That is a worn-out game, and I know, too, how the cards are shuffled! You are not indisposed to be the victim of friendship. Aha, that is the cause of this sudden, pretended, fervent love. But where are the witnesses--the dumb walls, the lamps burning down? And, if there were witnesses, they would only be of use so far as separate maintenance is concerned, with which the Signora is not supplied. You have miscalculated, my child! To-day is buried from the world, and to-morrow I shall not know you again."

Beate stood drawn up erectly, the open dagger in her hand.

"You misunderstand me, Signor Baluzzi! Our business is at an end!"

At that moment Kätchen's head appeared in the half-open doorway.

"You called me, Signor?"

"Listener," cried Baluzzi, enraged, "this eavesdropping in my own house! Do not let me catch you a second time. Open the garden gate for the Signora; wait below with the key!"

Kätchen disappeared.

"I require money; I do not yet know how much. I will first learn the result of my business. You are a cunning mediatrix, little Beate, but neither your paws nor your claws have power over me; but if anything be in the air warn her not to venture upon too much, else she may have a narrow escape."

Below Kätchen was whistling upon the key of the gate. She soon conducted Beate, who had drawn the hood over her head, through the garden walks.

The wild cat left the lion's den.



Da. Reising's credit had done its duty, as was shown by the shining brass plate, upon which the skilful town engraver had etched the words, "Lori Baute's Boarding School," in large, legible characters.

There she sat, a small sovereign of a small state. The first object of her ambition was attained. Indignant as she was at the noise which the classes sometimes made, to her there was even a melodious echo in the tumult. All these noisy beings are your pupils, entrusted to you, given up to your authority, and this turbulence only proves how your school flourishes.

She had adopted a short, decided, dictatorial manner, and practised it before the mirror; she had also pondered over a necessary alteration in her dress, and arrived at the conclusion that her present position required a certain sacrifice, the sacrifice of youth. Fräulein Sohle, her predecessor, had none to make in that respect, she was totally different from her pupils, with the advantage of her maturer years, and with unartificial dignity, such as is united without effort to creases, wrinkles, and a figure which only appears as the physical residuum of an intellectually extinguished spirit.

But Lori was still young; her looking glass told her that she might compete in charms with the youngest teachers, yes, she even looked younger than she was.

School, and that life to which she might still lay claim, were opposed to one another, but she must make some concession. She made up her mind to it, and decided upon the loss of those curls, which the profane world designated "love-locks."

It was not easy for her to relinquish the glossy, youthful head-gear, but the gloomy framework of snake-like curls imparted an otherwise unattainable dignity to her features. To be sure her eyes flashed out all the more boldly, and her tiny person could not possibly transform itself into a Juno. Nevertheless she knew how to inspire respect; wherever she appeared, all noise was stilled, her omniscience was feared, because she knew how to find out by inquisition and torture everything that happened in any portion of her dominions. The governesses were afraid of her and her spies; they felt that every step was watched, without knowing in what tangible form those dark powers dogged their heels.

The older tutors also obeyed the young ruler's will with a certain gallantry; only the young master with the moustache opposed an unbending mind, and appeared to be determined to go his own way.

She was thought to be omniscient, poor Lori! How gladly would she have been so! because unnatural obscurity hovered over one of the most important questions which occupied her. Far away beyond the attained goal her ambition was again striving after new objects--how very different to be a proud châtelaine, and the wife of a nobleman of position--and was this impossible for her?

She sat silently, and counted up all the tokens of attention which Blanden had vouchsafed to her. The sum was a considerable one, if only all the separate posts had been secure--!

Blanden had availed himself of her last invitation in the confectioner's shop to visit Reising, just before his departure to the province, and, indeed, on the same day. Was it merely his eagerness to fulfil a social duty while he had time, or was it liking for, and interest in her poor self?

Dr. Reising had received him very pleasantly. Euphrasia had been agreeable, yes, coquettish--Lori had no other name for it; even Emma had shed the light of her kitchen lantern upon the high politics of the reception-room; and actually Albertine made up her mind to speak.

But he had distinguished her above all the others, talked with her in preference, and she herself had been intellectual, particularly intellectual; she must say that for herself, there are days upon which the silver melts unaided from the mental ore, and becomes liquid, days of an intellectual silvery appearance. Could Blanden be unsusceptible to such silvery looks? For he had been in the province a long time. Dr. Reising had departed with her sisters; she had undertaken the school, it was a time of anxiety. He was far away, she could only preserve his image in her heart, and at rare moments take it out for devout contemplation.

But now he had returned again, she had seen him. Twice he had ridden past her house. Was it chance, or intentional? He had looked up at her windows; did he seek her, or did he only notice the wild noise issuing from one of the classes, the windows of which, in spite of the cold, had to be opened on account of a worn-out stove!

Much more weighty was the fact that for several days she had each morning found a bouquet of hot-house flowers in her vase.

A man-servant had delivered them to the housemaid without giving the name of the donor. In each bouquet was concealed an envelope, in which was a card containing a verse. Such forbidden goods in a girls' school, and to be sent to her, the mistress! But she resigned herself to the inevitable, did not burn the cards, nor did she forbid the reception of the bouquets.

Did they come from Blanden? A blissful suspicion told her so, she believed to find reminiscences of their conversations in some of the verses. Had he not spoken of the solitude of his woods, and did not the first verse begin with an allusion to it?--

"Without thee darling I am lonely,

All the light of life doth die,

All my heaven is in thee only,

No star is in th' eternal sky

Save thou smile and bid me see,
Save thou come and bide with me."

She imagined she heard Blanden's soft mellifluous voice in the melody of these lines; but why did he not come? She would gladly have let her eyes shine upon him.

Bolder was the last poem! It spoke of the lotus-flower. Blanden had been in India, the exotic colouring of the lines possessed a warmth such as only personal experience can impart:

"A god of Hindoo dreams,

Cradled in the lotus-flower,

Then enchanted it would seem

By a goddess' magic power;

And wert thou my goddess true
I should be enchanted too."

In spite of the oriental figurative language, the meaning of these lines was not incomprehensible; they were from Blanden. They must have originated from him, and mentally Lori composed the anti-strophe--

"Let the lotus shed its perfume,

Tarry not in lover's pain,

In the castle of Kulmitten

I will as your goddess reign."

And if Blanden were the author, the sender of these exotic nosegays, nothing but delicate consideration could restrain him from seeking her! He indeed knew where the lotus-flower bloomed, but could he know how he should be received? He must show some regard for the mistress' character, upon which her existence depends. He had no pretext for such a visit; he had no little daughter to introduce. Oh, she understood him thoroughly, and she respected him the more, the more she understood him.

She considered long what pretext she could find for a meeting; she made plans, and rejected them again. At last she decided upon her favourite weapon, a pink note--an anonymous pink note! He was discreet, she might trust him, there was nothing remarkable about a chance meeting in the confectioner's shop; but the reason? This was of less importance; once she was seated before him, all doubts must vanish.

These lines, these flowers, and the look in his eyes, a single pregnant word--and the enigma would be solved with magic speed.

The pink note merely contained the words, "a lady begs for your advice and help," also the place and the hour of the assignation.

Blanden was on friendly terms with Reising; she, without male support since her brother-in-law's departure, had she not every right to turn to him, and her doing so would enlighten him.

There was the tutor with the moustache, handsome Dr. Sperner, he became bolder and more defiant each day, yes even at times he seemed to treat her like a little girl, and not as the principal of the school. Blanden should advise her how she was to behave to the doctor, a little interference in her favour would lower the young man's presumptuous tone; he must learn that she was sure of manly protection.

When in the act of taking her straw hat out of the drawer so as to make her toilette in keeping with her correspondence, Dr. Sperner was announced again. He entered so boldly, that one might have expected to see spurs on his boots.

"You wish to speak to me, dear Fräulein?"

"Later, a few hours later, I begged you to come to me."

"I know, but I shall not have time! This white slavery only extends over lectures and consultations, not the entire day, even if it be the most amiable lady planter's slavery."

"What do these insinuations mean, Herr Doctor?"

"I gladly look upon myself as your slave, my Fräulein! If capital be allowed to plunder our mental labour, it may be endured from an owner of capital, such as you, dear Fräulein, with whom a man could live. But what do you wish?"

"I can now only explain my views very briefly upon two points which I wish to see altered; yes, I expect, I command that they be altered!"

The Doctor bowed with a mocking smile.

"Even on my first visit to the establishment, I made these observations," continued Lori, while she assumed a stern tone, and shook back one spiral curl that fell over her face, "the themes which you give to the pupils are totally unsuitable, just so the theme for the last composition, 'Why did Egmont not marry Klärchen?' That does not appear to be the proper manner of introducing our classics."

"There our views differ, dear Fräulein! Upon reflection, you will find how improving such tasks are. They accustom the girls to grasp the most important questions in life in an independent manner, and, above all, to treat them with tact. Besides, I avoid themes which lead to commonplaces, and which have already been written upon hundreds of times. New questions which cause independent thought--that is my object. I should like to wager that hitherto even you have not thought over my questions."

"I must decline, Herr Doctor, to be placed on a par with my pupils."

"I am far from doing so, excepting on one point, namely, youth and loveliness."

"You forget to whom you are speaking. Such susceptibility, however, is a superfluous quality in the masters at my school."

"What would a teacher of youth be, who possessed no susceptibility for the beautiful?"

"Many pupils and their parents complain of your partiality. I find that they are right. I have examined the corrected copy-books very closely. You show such partiality to that fat Iduna; orthographical mistakes, which, for the others, you mark with thick red lines, in her case you treat as clerical errors, which you do not count, which you do not put down in the margin or add up. Thus Iduna always receives a good notice. And yet that girl brought forward the unutterable nonsense that Egmont did not marry Klärchen because it would have been inconvenient, and marriage, especially owing to ladies' dress, costs too much money; although lace was made in Brussels and Flanders, and was cheaper than with us. And this sentence you did not even cross out, while you accompany the poetical ideas of other girls with red notes of interrogation."

"Iduna possesses sound common sense, although she is of a prosaic nature. We must encourage it. On the other hand, it is a master's duty to eradicate betimes all that is too fantastic; life does not fulfil such foolish dreams."

"As well as Iduna, you favour Clara, who is not her inferior as to voluptuous form; it seems that you like full-blown roses."

"You are mistaken, Fräulein; besides, my private taste has nothing to do with my profession and your establishment. It is thoroughly feminine to recognise no principles, and to impute everything to the affections."

"Because," interposed Lori, "in a boarding school they are ill-weeds, which must be eradicated first of all."

"As you like to decide upon matters which do not belong to your duties as principal, although, as a girl, they may be interesting to you--"

"The distinctions which you make are unsuitable--"

"Then I must defend my taste against your accusations. I do not love such phlegmatic contented natures. I love what is fine and piquant--vivacious, intellectual eyes, dainty figures--"

"I thank you for your confessions, but I am not in a position to listen to them any longer; I must leave you. But yet, I must request better themes for German tasks, and greater impartiality--and you will obey my orders."

"Certainly; 'Thoughts on the awaking of Spring' shall be the next theme for our first-class, and Iduna shall receive the worst report. You had better take your fur instead of your cloak, Fräulein! It is bittterly cold, as the sentries say in 'Hamlet,' before they see the ghost. Can I assist you? That pink bonnet becomes you charmingly, dear Fräulein! You can wear the most youthful colours, but smooth bands of hair would suit you better than these corkscrews. Good-by!"

With a mocking smile, but a fiery glance at the young mistress, the audacious Doctor took leave. Lori was indignant at his daring, and at the superior tone which he assumed, but she was still more angry with herself that she had not been able to keep him within bounds; that she felt subdued before him, as was Mark Antony before Cæsar's genius. She must procure advice, it was high time.

Soon Lori was seated in the confectioner's shop, and waited eagerly for the result of her pink note.

Blanden entered: he went excitedly and hastily through the apartments; he had received the note, and connected its contents with Giulia, who occupied all his thoughts. For this reason he had acceded to its invitation, although the preparation for his meeting with the Lieutenant claimed all his time. He recognised Lori, and went towards her; she thought it advisable at once to acknowledge her authorship of the note. Blanden seated himself beside her, and listened absently to her communications. The less Lori really had to say, the longer she spun it out: she began with their meeting at the sea-side, with the friendship which Professor Reising had always entertained for Blanden; she painted pictures of the short time they had been together, in the most vivid colours. Blanden sat there so dreamily; was he revelling in the same recollections; did he smile in silent delight, or only out of politeness?

Now Lori began to talk about herself; she drew a touching sketch of her childhood and youth. Blanden's eyes became more and more concealed beneath their lids, imparting a dreamy appearance to him; was it fervour or abstraction?

In the midst of her recital Lori watched the play of her listener's countenance with nervous attention, and was miserable that she could not fathom the impression which her words made upon him, because this was the principal object of the meeting. She hardly dared confess to herself that she had perceived how forced was his attention, and that his pulses did not seem to beat any higher.

She sought to awaken a deep interest by representing how difficult it was for a girl to fight her way through the world; she had bought the school, but now stood there quite isolated, helpless in many respects. She complained of several governesses, especially of the rebellious master.

"Then I should dismiss him," said Blanden, with great composure.

"It is not so easy as you think. He has his faults, but it is difficult to find a substitute. Besides, he is thought something of in society. In such an establishment one has not only to think of the daughters, but also of the mothers. And, as far as the mothers are concerned, he is a veritable Faust; he possesses the keys to their hearts."

"But he would listen to serious remonstrance."

"He treats me, I hardly like to say it, as a loveable little person, who, by mere chance, has been wafted to the head of the school; as a cypher, to which some small capital has put a figure before it. If he knew that I am not quite unprotected, that my brother-in-law, that my brother-in-law's friends support me--"

"It is a knight's duty to protect ladies who implore protection," said Blanden. "I shall always fulfil that duty. If the young Doctor should be guilty of anything in the least degree unbecoming towards you, reckon upon me; I shall call him to account."

This sounded so delightful, so hopeful! Lori's heart exulted, her eyes rested with such confiding trust upon the knight, who vowed his services to her; words of gratitude flowed warmly and fervently from her lips.

Now she had gained courage to prosecute her research as to whether the knight had already borne any lady's colours.

"You surely lead a very solitary life in Kulmitten?" asked she, assuming a most significant air, and emphasising the word "solitary" very markedly.

"I shall spend the winter mostly in the town," replied Blanden.

The man with the iron mask, thought she, he denies his flowers, but has he, like many, only warm feelings in his verses?

The suspicion that those lines did not originate from him still appeared incredible to her.

"One who has lived so long in Hindustan, amongst the lotus-flowers, may, indeed, find it very desolate here with us."

She cast a sympathetic glance at Blanden, who was so impolite as to look at his watch at that very moment.

"Lotus-flowers, the cradle of the gods," continued Lori, raising her eyes like her sister Ophelia, for which, however, she had not the long silken lashes; she had no talent for moonlight of the soul.

"Nothing looks so poetical when seen quite closely," said Blanden, "as in the poet's verses, neither lotus flowers, nor gods, nor bayaderes. The lotus flowers are of as beautiful a pink as your bonnet, Fräulein, Nevertheless, the holy plant possesses a very prosaic side, too; bread can be made from its fruit."

Was this meant for a significant or, perhaps, even a malicious allusion? Lori had plenty of time for reflection, because immediately after Blanden politely took leave, while he repeated that he should always be ready to protect her.

A feeling of great uncertainty took possession of her. All that Blanden said was so cool, so distant. Had she been mistaken? Did the castles of Kulmitten and Rositten belong to those in the air? or was he only teasing her? Did the merry cupids take refuge in his flowers and lines of poetry, while he acted the part of grave invincibility?

As Lori left the confectioner's shop, she had to pass readers, who were deeply absorbed in their newspapers. One gigantic sheet was suddenly lowered, and behind it appeared the moustache of Dr. Sperner, who greeted the principal of the boarding school with a slight bow, and smiled familiarly, as she strolled past him.

After a sleepless night, in which the ardent desires of her heart were driven to flight by the implacable calculation of her understanding, and after mature consideration, she was obliged to acknowledge a defeat, which, happily, she had suffered in total secrecy. In the morning she again found a bouquet of flowers and a note:

"Ah, these runes, dear, pray decypher,
Put an end to my love's pain;
For 'tis not Iduna I love,
No, I love but you alone!"

This was the height of impudence. The moustachioed teacher cast his mask aside. In her own establishment had sprung up the ill-weeds of poetry and bouquets.

Should she give him notice?

Under existing circumstances she resolved not at once to speak about these love poems, so opposed to all rule, but to hold farther mental debates with herself.

Iduna's next exercise teemed with red corrections. Lori rewarded Dr. Sperner for them with a grateful smile.



Early in the morning the carriage stopped before the village inn. Blanden, Kuhl, and two other gentlemen sprang oat; the pistol cases were left in the carriage.

"We have come too early; there is still half an hour's time," said Kuhl, "a morsel to eat cannot hurt us."

"The morning is as hard as iron; the roads sparkle as if they were armour clad," said the Doctor.

Blanden drummed his fingers upon the table. Kuhl sat down beside him.

"I cannot, indeed, understand why you plunged yourself into this danger?"

"It is to revenge Giulia's honour upon a miscreant."

"Well, you know my opinion about duels; it is a special act of friendship that I second you. I have, it is true, several times, used a human body as a target, and marked it there when I intended to do, because I set to work conscientiously, and did not swerve an iota from my intentions. I wish you had my eye and hand to-day!"

"I prefer to leave it to chance," said Blanden, "then I shall have a clearer conscience."

"But now," continued Kuhl, "no one would easily inveigle me into such a duel. I do not hold Falstaff's views about honour, but I think that all which does but exist in the opinion of mankind, enjoys a very shadowy existence, and that it is not worth while, for the sake of such dissolving views, for such opinions which fade into mist, and from day to day assume a different form, to let a bullet be driven into one's body."

"But we are dependent upon the opinions of mankind, especially of those human beings with whom we must live."

"Those are the so-called class prejudices; for a citizen of the world like you they should not exist. You know best that in Honolulu upon such matters people think quite differently from what they do in the Fiji Islands, or even in Japan, where they simply rip up their own persons. It would be too cheap a mode of regaining one's lost honour if it were only necessary to burn powder in the pan."

"We often long to punish an enemy," said Blanden, "and there is no other suitable method than that of standing before him with sword or pistol in one's hand. Hatred and enmity cannot be eradicated, and such silently nourished ill-will, such Platonic hatred, as people might term it, gnaws at one's vitals, just as does Platonic love. Every passion must obtain satisfaction, therefore the world has produced swords and pistols."

"You are right," said Kuhl, "the world, once for all, belongs to cannibals, and the religion of love and peace, despite more than a thousand years' reign, has not been able to eradicate manslaughter. And so long as it is prosecuted on a large scale for the sake of a morsel of land, or questions of lofty etiquette and political politeness, one can really not object, when, on a small scale, people go to war with one another for considerations of honour; at least, it is a cheaper pleasure, and does not cost the blood of nations."

"In my duel, dear Kuhl," said Blanden, "in the first place a woman's honour is concerned, and it is much more easily injured. As some birds in Hindoostan, according to the opinions of the people, only live upon the drops of rain which fall from the clouds, so do women only live upon that heavenly refreshment which lies in the delicate sense of their honour."

"Nonsense," said Kuhl, "people scorn the world's opinion."

"Then one must live upon a desert island, like Robinson Crusoe."

"Every truly free man is a Robinson who does not require mankind. A robinsonade in society, it is that which is right, therein lies the guarantee of happiness."

"Women must not have that wish; through it they would fool away the happiness of their life."

"Who can deprive them of the happiness that they conquer boldly?"

"True! Listen to me; at such moments a man thinks more seriously upon many things. I am about to fight for a woman's honour, you make game of it."

"Blanden," cried Kuhl, jumping up. "My voice has more weight now, for that which I say to you may be my last testament. You deprive two girls of their good name, the sole guarantee which they possess for the peace of a later life. Now they may play and joke, some day earnestness and loneliness will come."

"Well, the one has already retired from me; Olga threatens to become untrue to me."

"Possibly, then, all the more grave is your duty to the other, who now defies the world's opinion; be it from folly, be it from passion, later, however, she will lament that she did so, when, after a short intoxication, she must lead a long, joyless, poverty-stricken life. You have no duties; one day you will forsake her entirely, and she will be left to gaze into long, lasting misery. She has rejected one honest wooer."

"You speak of your friend Wegen!"

"I speak of what my heart feels. I am, perhaps, about to sacrifice my life to one woman, therefore you can surely sacrifice your theories to another. A man may become a martyr to his faith, but he may not make others so."

Kuhl was silent, it was a disagreeable conversation on a disagreeable morning; he must allow that Blanden was right, it was the way of the world. He shivered; the narrowness of a subject's life seemed to oppress him.

"One thing more," said Blanden, "take care of Giulia if I fall. The world will condemn her as being the cause of my death. Perhaps her artistic career may be endangered. She has no support, no friend! Everything seems to be double-faced that moves around her. Be you her friend; will you promise it me?"

"With all my heart," said Kuhl.

"I have made my will; the legacy I leave to her is considerable enough to ensure her a life free from care, even if she retire from the stage. Help her with good advice, but do not forget that she is almost my widow, too sacred for frivolous games, and veiled for you by this my last solemn word."

Kuhl thought to himself, "Jealous beyond the grave," but he did not venture to smile, he only squeezed his friend's hand in silence.

Blanden looked at the clock--it was time. All entered the carriage again, which rolled along upon creaking wheels through the snow-laden forest.

On the edge of the pine wood another carriage was standing; the opponents had just arrived.

The scene of conflict was a little snow-covered glade; distances were measured, and the weapons examined. Blanden knew no fear, not even fear of death, but the full consciousness of the nonentity of existence overcame him. There was nothing appalling for him in death, but something almost humiliating. It was miserable, full of thoughts which grasp a world to be hurled to the ground by a piece of rattling metal, which pierces one in rapid flight, which even an old decayed tree stem can defy; it was too wretched to lie here bedded in the snow like any crow shot down from the grey wintry sky by the sportsman's gun, so that the wings of the mind hang down paralysed and dead for evermore, like the wings of the hideous bird which just now croaked so loudly for prey and food.

Lifeless lead--and instead of the agitated spirit's notes of exclamation and interrogation, that one great line which ends this chapter of life, and perhaps the whole book.

And, yet, it is easy to die on a frosty, winter's day, when all life cowers, when the trees stretch their bare summits into the misty grey atmosphere, and the shroud of snow lies upon all the forests and meadows. All nature shudders, as if renouncing every happiness.

But, no! One heart there is that beats anxiously for you; two eyes which already dedicate scalding tears to the dark possibility that menaces you; there, indeed, is life and happiness, and from these it is that you must part.

As is the case in all moments of most supreme tension, Blanden's mind saw such pictures and thoughts pass before him with a certain rigidity, and only awoke again as Kuhl pressed the pistols into his hand.

Attempts at reconciliation had not been made, the bitterness of the opponents was too great, those polite ceremonies, which had been made for form's sake, were dropped again immediately, as being perfectly futile.

As in a dream, Blanden saw the colossal officer step before him. He hated the man until that moment, then he was seized as with pity for such a sensual life, and then, again, with a change of thought, quick as lightning, his mind flew to recollections of his school days, and he thought of Homer and the Bible, which tell so accurately how many feet of earth such a mighty man covered in his fall.

Then in the midst of these dreamy thoughts, rang the call of the seconds, the fatal counting began, the shots fell, and behind the clouds of powder, each glance sought the falling opponent, but only Buschmann had the satisfaction of rejoicing in that spectacle.

Blanden sank to the ground, the officer's bullet had struck his breast.

Kuhl and the surgeon knelt beside him. Buschmann did not trouble himself about his victim, did not even vouchsafe a casual enquiry; with a hasty greeting, he left the scene of the conflict.

The surgeon gave hopes; the ball had penetrated the chest, but it appeared to him to be one of those rare cases in which no serious injury of a vital organ had taken place. Kuhl also shared that opinion.

After adjusting the bandages, Blanden was lifted into the carriage, and driven home. The drive was very exhausting, and as the carriage rattled over the stone pavement, Blanden lost consciousness.

When he awoke out of the dull web of a confused world of dreams, with its shadows melting into one another, he saw a pale form seated by his bed.

It was Giulia.

Her gaze rested anxiously upon him; she kissed his unclosing eyes, she kissed his hands amidst scalding tears.

He had fought for his betrothed, from henceforth she would be his.



Giulia nursed Blanden unweariedly; she let the performance of "Il Barbière di Sevilla" be postponed again and again, to the great annoyance of the impressario, and only when Blanden began to recover did she attend the rehearsals.

Calm as she appeared by the bedside, a mighty struggle was disturbing her soul.

She often gazed with silent emotion upon his noble gentle features, as he lay there with closed eyes, when his wounded chest heaved with convulsive breathing. For her he had gone to meet death. Was he the victim of a lie? Her passionate love was indeed truth, although all else might be deception.

She had but one alternative, the fearful alternative of losing him for ever, or of conquering him by impious defiance of law and custom.

She was an Italian; she possessed fiery blood, and the language which passion spoke, even if it drove her out into the boundless, was to her almost irresistible.

Grown up in a stage world, in which adventures are represented before the footlights and experienced behind the scenes, she had no true comprehension of the limits of respectable life; she was inclined in it to perceive a restraint over which the laws of the heart had the right to triumph. Brigandage lives in the blood of Italians; there is also a brigantaggio of the heart, which breaks into the sanctuaries of the law with daring boldness, and deems the power of life higher than that which only seems to be a lifeless form, a written paragraph. What is unworthy, let it be authorised by earth or heaven, appears to be a fetter, to break which, is esteemed an act of heroism, even although it may be deemed a crime in the eyes of the world.

But she knew that Blanden thought differently; here in the North the law was a great power; he possessed a knightly mind, which never thinks of deception. She could only be really his if she took all the daring upon herself alone, converting a degrading secret into a new heavy load of guilt.

And had not the worst happened already, and from no fault of hers? Had he not suffered heavy pain for the sake of the impossible, which could only become possible by impudent deception, and unbroken silence? Should she not now, if she confessed all, prepare him a certain painful disappointment, which hereafter only hostile chance could bring upon him?

Who guarantees any long endurance to happiness? She would enjoy it, even if the chasm which yawns behind every bliss were nearer to her and deeper than it usually is. But she could only obtain and enjoy this felicity with heart-throbbings and anguish of conscience, condemned to everlasting anxiety, dependent upon the good-will, the whims of a despicable man; this roused her heart against fate, robbed her of sleep, and dreams full of wild pictures of horror drove her terrified mind hither and thither in alarm.

Ever again her conscience rebelled, and urged her to a confession that would free her; ever again she repressed it firmly, as the huntsman restrains the dog that will frighten away the game of which he is secure.

Beate was calmer, she had given an account of her visit to Baluzzi, she would decidedly not give up all hope, and thought he would still allow himself to be persuaded to become a subject of that country; but Giulia cried in supreme excitement--

"No, no, the disgrace of my life must remain in everlasting obscurity, how foolish to wish to drag it into court; it was a thought that could only come to me in utter helplessness. Then, too, Blanden would be lost to me; would there be anything more degrading for me, than to have to acknowledge that man before all the world? Only in deepest secrecy can my welfare lie."

When Blanden became better, he spoke to his nurse of their marriage. Giulia covered him with kisses, but she shuddered inwardly, both with joy and fear. Ever nearer drew the fatal moment which she awaited with equally ardent longing and nameless terror.

More agitated than ever, she returned home. Beate was all the more cheerful, and hummed an Italian popular air.

"I envy you your good humour, but it appears to me to be almost like mockery of me and my urgent need."

"When there is a wedding in prospect, one cannot be sad."

"A wedding, oh my God! Happiness which all the world would envy me, envy me with reason, which I would not reject, even if my soul's salvation were at stake--and side by side with the most supreme delight, stand the feelings of a criminal who is led to execution!"

"Vedremo--there may still be a means of escape."

"A means of escape--does not danger ever hover over my head, mortal danger?"

"Perhaps there are means of disarming it."

"Oh, speak! You are clever and cunning, Beate. I hunger for a word of hope, of comfort, for relief in my unbounded fear."

"It would be a risk--"

"What would I not risk in order to be free from this racking torture of my heart."

"You could not undertake this risk, only I, and the consequences if it fail, would fall heavily upon my head."

"I would implore you even to undertake the most daring act, if it can bring me rescue. And yet how could I plunge you too into destruction, require a sacrifice of you for which I can grant you no compensation?"

"That be my affair, inseparable friendship in life and death is compensation for all."

"Carissima, good Beate," said Giulia, as she cordially embraced her friend.

"And then--I like setting out upon adventures, even if I must traverse break-neck paths. Danger attracts me, and all secrecy, even if it be not exactly sweet, has a great charm for me. It makes my blood surge, then I feel that I live! And if such a bold plan have succeeded, ah, what a triumph! Then people will say, 'what does not lie in such a pretty little head,' then one imagines oneself like the mouse that, in the fable, gnawed the lion's bonds. But to play a trick upon such an overbearing villain and robber, secretly, in the dead of night, without him perceiving or knowing it; to remove the weapon out of his hand--that alone is worth risking this neck for; I hope the saints will not leave so pretty a little creature as Beate Romani quite in the lurch."

"And what do you think of doing?"

"Give me money, I will travel to Italy."

"To Italy?"

"To the lake of Orta, to the island of San Giulio!"

"You will--"

"I know what I will, but not yet how I will carry it out. That must be left to the impulse of the moment. The past is a fairy tale, a legend, if the proofs be wanting. I will destroy the proofs."


"Where are they, but upon the little rocky island of Berengar? There they still display the skin of that snake, which Saint Giulo killed; well, I hope that the little viper into which Beate Romani is to be transformed, will succeed with the new saints who keep guard there."

"You are contemplating a crime?"

"I am contemplating the destruction of a great lie, which clings to your life as if with the arms of a polypus. A lie for your heart, but a truth for the world; a vile, shameful truth if I do not--but what matter is that to you? Do not question me too much! What I do, I shall do alone, and because it pleases me. I ask you for the money for my journey--let the rest be my care."

Giulia sat there with folded hands; should she give her consent to a deed which, as she suspected, was directed against law and church!

Yet could she hesitate? Her passion drove her still farther upon the fatal course, and shuddering inwardly, she was obliged to confess to herself that every act of Beate's was less of a sacrilege than that which she now so often firmly and steadily contemplated, and the worst consequences of which her friend sought to avert.

To that first meeting, to that short-lived felicity by which she first emancipated herself from her stern duty, this lawless deed was now, as if forcibly, and ever anew united to unholy consequences.

Giulia wrung her hands in despair.

"Let me consider it, weigh it--not too hastily accede to the transient idea! Too much is at stake for me--for you!"

"A leaf in the wind--and all is done!"

"A leaf in the wind?" said Giulia thoughtfully "is my life not one already? And if your plan miscarry, if they catch you--?"

"From my childhood I have been used to walk on narrow paths, often have wandered with my father across the steep boundary roads of the Italian Tyrol; with him have crouched under rocky boulders, or in concealment behind the lofty Arves, have slided down glaciers without being afraid of the yawning crevasses in which death lurked! They shall not catch me, and if such an incredible thing were to happen, well it would only befall me! You may be calm and need have no fear."

Giulia still hesitated, and begged for a few more days for reflection.

Meanwhile the impressario could be appeased no longer, and Giulia was obliged to appear as Rosina!

While she had been nursing Blanden, excluded from the world, her enemies had been indefatigably active in destroying her character. Buschmann had kept his word, and in revenge had spoken everywhere with most ruthless exaggerations of her affair with Blanden. The duel, it is true, had not come to the official knowledge of the authorities, but it was spoken of in every circle. People pitied Blanden, but with the pity soon was mingled the condemning verdict, "he loves adventures!" The Signora herself, however, appeared as one of those intriguing prime donne, who know how to attract a number of lovers and admirers, and then set them one against another, so that some fatal scandal may show the power of their beauty in high relief.

In this troubled domain of public opinion, Spiegeler now cast his evil seed--notice after notice full of piquant stings, innuendoes, unmistakable hints. In his paper he had an article, "Behind the Scenes;" there Giulia was the heroine. In the most absurd paragraphs, she was not named, but none could fail to guess it was she. Side by side with them appeared criticising treatises upon the art of song, containing most violent attacks upon Signora Bollini, who was invariably held up as an appalling example of bad mannerisms and taste. Müller von Stallupöhnen, who with his ivory bâton as yet had conducted none of his own operas, supported the journalist, so void of musical knowledge, in this labour. Had not the directors of the East Sea town already rejected four of his operas, and favoured Italian music in a marked manner by the Signora's long engagement?

And what were these Italian composers compared with him? His music was full of deep meaning, truly dramatic, besides which every character had its musical brief, and as Shakespeare's kings were ushered in by a flourish of trumpets, so were his heroes by a few bars of instrumental performance. He scorned all that was pleasantly unmeaning, all that was attractively melodious; when his heroes sang, it was but a musical mode of speaking, to which the orchestra imparted all sharper accents, and a few significant inter-punctuations. But when the tempest of his genius stirred up the depths of the orchestra, so that in almost every bar some old musical rule suffered shipwreck, and the most outrageous impossibilities, the most startling dissonances dashed into the air like spectral water spouts out of the foaming, splashing waves; then indeed must enthusiasm, ecstasy know no bounds, and even the public be transformed into a stormy, raging mass, out of which the thunder of applause should break loose as if with elementary power. This Müller had, it is true, never experienced, but he saw and heard it in imagination. If he could only once touch the conductors desk with that ebon magic wand, this unbounded exultation of delight must be set free. But it never came about; the directors were to blame. Instead of it the coquettish tone-muse of Italy, which is so undramatic that she represents Luciâ di Lammermoor's madness in the most lively dance music, flaunted upon the stage with all her tinsel of trills and fioriture. In such a frame of mind, Müller von Stallupöhnen helped the venomous reporters to lay traps for the directors and for the wicked representative of Italian monkey-like art.

On the evening of the performance of the "Barbière" the house was filled, but a peculiar disquiet prevailed, as if some unusual event were in the air. Kuhl sat in the stalls beside his Cäcilie, who now appeared to be inseparable from him, and near poet Schöner.

"Something is going on," said the Doctor to his younger friend, "people are not in a pleasant mood. Nothing can be so little counted upon as the public. And what is it really? It is only a shadow, a spectre, as little tangible as the old ocean god Proteus, and, if one would hold it fast, it assumes all colours and shapes. The public of to-day is no longer that of yesterday; the crowd which is afterwards dispersed through the streets, is no longer the same which is assembled here. Schiller's epigram, 'When it is in corpore, a blockhead springs up,' refers more to the bench, it is true, but such a theatrical audience is a many-headed monster, and as stupid as an old grass grown dragon of the early ages. What has not this public already applauded? Göethe as much as Aubery's dog, Schiller not less than a fiddler, who plays upon one string; the greatest poet and the most miserable clown! Often the rheumatism of idiotcy possesses its joints, which are paralysed, and do not move before what is sublime; then again it is electrified by the most foolish joke, and the unwieldy mass moves hands and feet like a marionette! As the wind rushes through an empty furnace, so does so-called public opinion rush through these empty heads. Thus it sometimes causes a mighty disturbance! The crowd has a certain instinct when it is gathered together, and a species of common feeling; it is like a huge body revolving upon the same pivot; it tastes with one tongue and spits flames out of one jaw; it lets itself be moved by one turn-screw, like a colossal engine. And by what crooked screws has it not already been moved! Upon the whole it is rude, and if its hat be not knocked from its head, it does not doff it to genius! Oh, ye poor geniuses! In what difficulties ye find yourselves! Ye struggle for fame, and yet fame, in the first instance, can only come from this crowd which possesses no sense of immortality; and again it is the pillar of immortality--what sad means by which to gain it! Really, only the idiotic flatterers of the crowd ought to be famous, and often have been so in their lifetime. The fame of the best is a marvel, and I am tired of pondering upon it."

"Well, everything beautiful, and art itself is a marvel," replied Schöner, "and even if many a genius has been shipwrecked, we rejoice for those who have gained the victory after a long conflict with the crowd's want of judgment and changeability."

Behind them the two speakers heard a lively somewhat sharp girl's voice.

"It is time that an end be put to this Italian opera, it spoils our taste; this prima donna sits here as firmly as a fly in amber, and has also made it her especial task to spoil our morals; all varieties of reports are circulated which even penetrate into our establishment. There is no quarantine against it, however many proper means of fumigation may be employed, the infection is in the air. There is only one means, she must away, and I am delighted at the lynch-law by which she will be banished."

"You are right, quite right, uncommonly right," said the old governess, to whom Lori had addressed these words, as she, nodding approval, vibrated with intense excitement.

It was no secret that Blanden loved this singer; he had fought for her, he had been wounded for her sake.

She it was then of whom he had thought when he had listened barely, even absently, to Lori's eloquent words; this theatrical lady of doubtful origin had borne away undoubted victory from a daughter of the educated classes; she was the lotus-flower, the goddess who floated before his eyes, when Lori alluded so futilely to those verses, in which the handsome tutor had poured out his heart to her?

This demanded revenge!

Soon should her innermost indignation receive the desired satisfaction for being so shamefully set aside; with delight she imbibed Spiegeler's ill-nature with her breakfast, yes, she forgot her dignity as mistress of the school, so far as to initiate her pupils into this delicious piece of scandal. Her heart was too full, she must speak to Dr. Sperner also, who listened devoutly to the outpourings of her heart, while a significant smile played around the corners of his mouth, and he complacently stroked his splendid moustache.

"But why do you smile, Herr Doctor?" asked she at last, with annoyance.

"You speak of Herr von Blanden in a tone--"

"In a tone such as his conduct merits."

"Then I beg your pardon," said the tutor, as he bowed, "I was mistaken, I thought you were a friend of that gentleman, for I had the honour of witnessing a confidential meeting which you vouchsafed to him."

Lori thought of the large newspaper in the confectioner's shop, behind which the fatal moustache had appeared, and blushed before the importunate spy, who rejoiced maliciously at his little triumph. But then he placed himself completely at his principal's disposal, who was soon in a position to make use of his offer, for public opinion was supremely excited--the "effects of the reports behind the scenes," of which Spiegeler had spoken, had not failed in their result; the singer's next appearance must cause a great sensation and had already been foretold by Spiegeler, naturally not in the sense of an ovation, but with evil-minded, crooked, double meaning. Sperner was not the man to be a laggard on such an occasion; he offered his services to Lori.

"Do not deny it," said he, with wonted impudence, "you bear a grudge in your heart to this Blanden and the singer. Our French governess, whose accent may God improve, would term it dépit amoureux, but I am far from wishing to employ such outrageous French expressions in honest German."

Lori blushed again; her lips quivered, but the Doctor's fiery eyes rested so triumphantly and with such superiority upon her that the word died upon her lips.

"Good, neither Herr von Blanden nor the singer trouble me, but I will not allow our establishment, for which I have the warmest affection, to suffer from its principal's melancholy mood. You are so sad now, Fräulein Baute, that the entire first class has lost its smile, as people say--you make mountains out of mole-hills. The concern suffers from it, we might lose pupils, the consequences would be serious. There are sensitive girlish natures which close their calix-like delicate flowers when the sun ceases to shine. For these your smile, Fräulein Baute, is the sunshine of the establishment. We, we who are not so sensitive, are, at least, angry at the winter of your displeasure! All the same--if an execution of the Bollini shall take place, I am ready for any executioner's service; I have friends to whom the Italian sing-song is objectionable, and who prefer a German drinking song to any aria. We will work for you, Fräulein Baute; a cavalier who makes so little of a rendezvous as this Herr von Blanden is rightly served when his night-light is blown out."

"What you say, dear Herr Doctor," said Lori, "is most objectionable in tone and manner, and really not calculated for a girl's ears. I will forget it. As to the rest, you have the right to think a singer as bad as you choose! You belong to the public, and the public is sovereign."

The result of this conversation was that on the fatal evening Dr. Sperner, with several young friends, sat in a very determined attitude in several rows in front of the mistress of the school. Lori's eyes rested upon him with satisfaction, when he turned round and nodded a confidential smiling greeting to her.

"There will be a disturbance to-day," Lori whispered to Cäcilie, sitting exactly before her.

"But why in the world?" asked the other.

"The affair with Blanden--"

"But Signora Bollini will not sing falsely on that account."

"Who knows?" said Lori, "those who are out of tune in life, are also out of tune in art; we must set ourselves against the importation of the equivocal doings of large towns; I should only approve if our public raise a decided demonstration."

"She is a splendid florid singer," replied Cäcilie. "After all, the audience in a theatre has only to judge of the singing and not to distribute the Monthyon prize of virtue; the most celebrated actresses would not have received it."

Lori shook her curls angrily at such an evasive opinion, and leaned back in her chair abruptly terminating the conversation.

There was indeed something menacing in the attitude of the audience; here and there small groups might be observed, sitting together, prepared for a common task.

The parties measured one another with hostile glances, with defiant countenances. Lieutenant Buschmann sat in a stage-box and examined his faithful adherents under the chandelier, gathered there like a dense dark cloud. Here and there appeared a noncommissioned officer, who should evidently preserve intact the communications between the separate troops, although he might not take part personally in the intended salvo.

The Lieutenant was annoyed to perceive the long, thin figure of Merchant Böller in the opposite stage-box, where he had placed a few large bouquets of flowers upon the balustrade, and with yet greater displeasure he saw that his former friend and companion appeared in the pit, and greeted a number of young merchants with a friendly shake of the hand. Those, then, were the opponents!

It appeared to be a fine corps, well organised; the powerful shake of the hand promised vigorous work; bright confidence of success was depicted upon every feature.

"This miserable Brackenburg," muttered Buschmann to himself, "Clärchen has long since sacrificed him to her Egmont, and he still runs about the market and mobilises the citizens. Well, the iron tread of my Spaniards will pass implacably over them."

His confidence in the success of the good cause which he represented suddenly increased, when a noisy human stream suddenly poured into the pit, Spiegeler, in front, stamping with his crutches, eager for the fight.

Ah, that was Blücher at Waterloo! Now the victory was decided, those were veteran troops which he led, accustomed to the battle-fire of a theatre, accustomed to obey the leader's signal, to work together in irresistible onslaught, obstinate and tough enough to overcome all resistance. That was the select battalion of the claque which understood how to raise the flag of fame on high, but also how to tear it down and trample it in the dust.

Buschmann's features became radiant. What could Böller's volunteers, with their undisciplined enthusiasm do against these well trained troops, which could stand immovably under fire?

In the densely crowded pit, however, Spiegeler at once recognised an enemy in his immediate vicinity--the singer's friend, the repulsive Italian, who had given him a palpable proof of this friendship. Despite all menaces, the critic had not brought the affair into court, because he did not wish that the episode at the "fleck" boiler's, by means of a trial and newspapers, should become too generally known; he believed rightly that his position as a critic might suffer if people learned what species of anti-criticism had been his portion. But secretly he brooded upon revenge.

He was delighted to perceive that Baluzzi stood amidst the faithful, who surrounded him like a lightning-laden cloud, and hoped that at the coming discharge some unexpected blow would fall upon the intruder's head.

The curtain rose when the overture ceased, the audience listened in breathless expectation; Figaro's song was tempestuously applauded. Giulia's friends aired their enthusiasm; their opponents, on the other hand, wished to make the contrast all the more conspicuous by previously helping a mediocre baritone to a brilliant success.

The singer was quite amazed at the unusual storm of approval with which he was greeted; he bowed his acknowledgments amid the most beautiful dreams of a future that fluttered through his mind; at last his great talent had met with merited recognition; in spirit he saw himself already as the first baritone at the Berlin Court opera house.

Then the street was changed into Bartolo's room. Rosina appeared.

Böller, always ready for service, hurled his wreaths behind the footlights, and gave the signal for applause; the young merchant guards in the pit joined in, also Kuhl and Schöner, and several unconcerned listeners in the stalls.

But simultaneously Buschmann and Spiegeler discharged their infernal machines--a hissing arose, as when fire and water are mingled. Others again commanded silence. Rosina began in a frightened voice; her heart, indeed, was heavy, but the power of the music soon carried her away above that dull oppression.

She sang with all her feelings--

"And every power fails,
Love remains victor."

She sang with grace, she knew how to impart such fervour even to these light winged passages, that, even before a partial judge, she would surely have gained her cause. But here there was not even a question of partizanship, her doom was already decided upon and sealed.

Hardly had she ended the triumphant song of the power of love, when an unrestrained storm broke loose. Her friends' applause was entirely overpowered by the noise and hissing which issued from pit and gallery; for a moment she seemed to stand in the pillory. In vain Basilio sought to waft to the audience a whispered, almost inaudible, aria upon calumny. For a few bars he gained an attentive silence, the song was as appropriate as if improvised, but when he continued to sing--

"How it passes from tongue to tongue
Nothing but words to inflate the lung,
First a smile and then a scowl
First a murmur then a howl,"

the storm broke loose afresh; then the people felt staggered, they discovered an audacious accusation in Rossini's semiquavers and demi-semiquavers. The hissing and drumming raged through the "aerial regions." In the pit the hostile parties seemed to have come to actual battle, they were mixed up in dark wild confusion. Spiegeler stamped with his crutches like a madman, and, passing it from hand to hand, something was thrust out of the door; it was a figure striking right and left with hands and feet. Baluzzi had given too lively expression to his anger against the singer's enemies, and as he was situated in the hostile camp, his abusive remarks upon the maladetti were not without result. Before the police could prevent this act of self-defence, the Italian, at a signal from Spiegeler, and by united effort, had been rendered harmless.

But, with a feeling of perfect helplessness and internal indignation, Giulia stood defenceless before the raging mob. With the rapidity of lightning the pictures of a whole life-time passed before her mind: she saw the joyful movement of a crowd of people coming exultantly towards her, as she had seen it in Florence, Barcelona, London and even here! What evil demon had metamorphosed the public into a rage-foaming monster! Yet over her career as an actress writhed one widespread shadow, as if beneath a scorching blast her laurel wreaths withered, her future was destroyed. She had but one preserver--him, him alone, and that preservation she could only purchase if she sacrificed her soul's salvation.

Calumny had aroused this storm of public opinion, it was a blind, unjust outbreak; she could defy it with a good conscience. And, yet shuddering internally, she felt as if a Divine judgment were falling upon her; "guilty" cried a voice from within, and her knees tottered.

Then resounded a many-voiced shrill whistle; it originated in the stalls, in which Doctor Sperner and his friends were seated; they had provided themselves with toy whistles,

"Drums and fifes
Martial sounds--"

thus he courted Lori's favour, remembering Göethe's lines--

"Maidens and castles
Then must they yield,
Bold is the struggle
For glorious reward."

The shrill whistle was answered by a ringing mocking laugh from every portion of the house. The humiliation, the disgrace were too great.

Giulia fainted, the curtain fell, the performance could proceed no farther.

The crowd dispersed noisily, some persons crowded round the ticket box to demand their entrance money. Lori looked on very triumphantly, her eyes flashed, and Dr. Sperner was permitted to accompany her home. Kuhl had hastened on to the stage; Giulia had been taken into the drawing-room, where she soon recovered consciousness.

Blanden was her first thought; she implored Kuhl not to communicate the theatrical riot to him, he should beseech all their friends to be silent about it; she should take care that the newspapers containing the report should not fall into his hands, it might excite him, and be injurious to his health, if the news reached him.

Kuhl promised to preserve the secret.

"Really, it is not so bad," added he consolingly, "a little more or less noise does not matter. The dear public itself is a great scandal, a thousand-headed crime against good taste, a million-fold want of sense. What is most wretched pleases it, and yet it is really sincere when its honest displeasure has been roused, if indeed it is possible to transform this sleepy mass into fire and flame. To be sure it only burns like plum-pudding when spirits have been poured over it and ignited, when the spirits are exhausted then the phlegm remains behind."

Giulia thanked the Doctor for his friendly intentions, and for the slight comfort which she could extract from such daring views. Arrived at home, she sat a long time talking to Beate; she gave her companion money for the journey, and on the following day Beate prepared for her departure to the Orta lake.



A cold East Prussian winter's day--crisp snow upon the roads--the broad fields sleep beneath their white cover. Ashen grey clouds in the sky, but the snow flakes seem to be frozen, and cannot loosen themselves; only now and again one little atom flutters down, or has the icy north wind, which here and there sweeps up a looser snow field, wafted it down from the roofs? It is that spiteful cold which seems to be more fitted for Laplanders than for civilised mortals. The air cuts as if with knives, and the breath of life freezes on men's lips. But this very scorn of Nature who has retired to her ice palace and surrounded herself unapproachably, as if with a threefold shield, calls forth man's defiance.

Nature must be enjoyed at any price!

The inhabitants of the town, clad in thickly furs, amuse themselves upon the Pregel. Upon the smooth even course that leads inland the chair sleighs fly forward in long rows, the skaters rush in the direction of the north wind which brings them the icy cold greeting from the Baltic Sea, lying beneath the spell of winter, others make circles upon the surface, and display their art which even a great poet has immortalised.

One of the most successful is the gallant skater who makes use of his skates as buskins for the higher flight of love. With what gladsomeness he pushes the sleigh before him; within it sits, buried beneath furs, shawls, rugs, veils, what appears to be a formless mass, and yet!--he is proud to drive a beautiful woman.

This same emotion of pride fills Wegen's breast so far as anything is to be seen of his face, which is concealed under the fur cap and warm ear-covers; it beams with pleasure. His eyes, it is true, weep, but only because of the north wind, but if they were a couple of tears of joy which he shed he should not be surprised! Olga had never been more affable towards him than to-day, and when he dared to speak of the sleighing privileges, she smiled. No, it is no smile which refuses--he understands it well! The first kiss in prospect,--this point he had never attained with Cäcilie! Hah! how his sleigh flew on in advance of all towards the beautiful goal, and if the ice did not shed sparks from beneath steel shoes, it was not his fault, for he was fire and flame, a Hecla in the midst of rigid frost.

Wegen had been in the Province for some time, and Olga, despite the monotony of a winter season in the country, had visited the same relatives as those with whom Cäcilie had formerly stayed. Olga had made a much more favourable impression in Masuren than Cäcilie; she was not so superior, so clever: she talked with zest of everything that can interest a country young lady and a country "Junker"--and above all, she was beautiful, with that stately vigorous beauty that country squires love, because it gains such prizes as can be obtained by understanding the art of feeding the lower creatures of the animal kingdom.

The rumour of her intimacy with Dr. Kuhl only arose in a very pale form, and was hardly noticed. Wegen visited Olga as frequently as his time permitted him, which it did every day. Olga was always friendly and accessible, not so distant, so enigmatic, so evasive as Cäcilie. Besides, even before others, she showed how much she favoured Wegen, and he was very happy that he should be envied. Such a thing had never befallen him before, it was quite a novel sensation for him. Milbe declared that every ombre player might wish for such a spadille, and Oberamtmann Werner held a conversation with her about his different varieties of wool causing him to entertain deep respect for her intellectual faculties. Even the women and girls were taken with her. She held the most sensible views upon preserving fruit, she knew the family tree of all the families of Masuren, and even the collateral branches did not disturb her self-possession. Happy Wegen! Never had a winter painted more beautiful flowers upon his window panes!

Blanden's wound had re-called Wegen to the capital; he took his turn with Giulia and Kuhl in nursing his friend. Olga, meanwhile, had also returned to the town, Wegen appeared frequently in Frau von Dornau's modest dwelling, and was always received, even by Cäcilie, who had now transformed herself into a well-meaning friend, with special distinction.

Still, however, he had not yet made up his mind to propose! It seemed so humiliating to appear with the same big bouquet of flowers, in the same little room, and once more before the same faded sofa to pour forth his homage and courtship, while the whole furniture merely displayed the one, but very important, difference that Olga was seated upon the sofa instead of Cäcilie. The recollection of the figure in the cotillon, changez les dames, could not be got rid of in those apartments in which he had first avancé to Cäcilie's hand. No, even if he were firmly resolved to propose for Olga it could not be done in that place which was full of mocking, giggling recollections! He cherished bold plans, which at other times were foreign to his mind--he thought of a sudden surprise.

All at once, as if fatigued, he began to push the chair-sleigh more slowly. Dr. Kuhl rushed past him pushing Cäcilie, as did Frau von Dornau, who had to content herself with a hired attendant.

Then Wegen guided her somewhat aside. A whole caravan of sleighs now passed them tumultuously, Lori in front with an embroidered rug, a present from the first-class! On Dr. Sperner's moustache, her cavalier, hung melancholy icicles, behind her came the slender girls of the first-class, mostly driven by cousins; only fat Iduna, deprived of her Theodor Körner, had to be contented with the man servant from the school, who was accustomed to heavy loads.

Now Wegen broke completely out of the course like a shying sleigh horse, guided her sideways over lumpy hillocks of snow, which had been heaped up on the river, and then stopped suddenly in a defile between two large snowdrifts, which yielded him a welcome cover.

"For Heaven's sake, where are we?" said Olga's voice, suffocated by shawls and furs.

"The snow has dazzled me, I have lost my way," cried Wegen, having recourse to a daring falsehood.

Olga uttered a cry of alarm, but only raised herself up in the sleigh to see in what territory she had arrived.

There she stood like a czarina; winter seemed to have built his palace in her honour alone, only to do homage to her; the north wind kissed her fur sleeves, and even if the fur cap surrounded her face enviously, so that but little was to be seen of her red, glowing cheeks, yet her large eyes gazed majestically out of all her winter wraps.

Wegen shivered with the cold; standing still after the violent exercise made him uncomfortable, and the wind blew icily into his face. And yet his state of mind was that of Romeo, when he looked up in the Capulet's garden at the balcony where his Juliet, in a light ball dress, carried on a conversation with the moon and stars.

"What in the world, Herr von Wegen, are we doing?" cried Olga, to whom the adventure began to appear serious, because in his sound senses a sleigh conductor could hardly wander from the proper course. For a moment she actually looked searchingly at Wegen, whether the colour in his cheeks could be called forth honestly by the north wind, or if it owed its origin to a bottle of champagne.

"As chance has so ordained it, that we are alone, hear then, dear Olga, hear what it is that I have had so long at heart."

A turbulent gust of wind swept through the top loose piles of snow and whirled them about so that Romeo and Juliet must simultaneously wipe the snow out of their eyes.

"I love you, Olga!"

Olga started back in alarm, making the little bells on her fur rug tinkle; it is true it was sweet alarm, but she was not prepared for a declaration of love with the thermometer so low. Wegen waited for the result, while alternately stamping his feet and beating himself with his arms, so as to impart some warmth to his body.

"Yes, I have always loved you, that is to say," added he in his love of truth, "after Cäcilie--but you know it? Why waste so many words? My breath freezes upon my lips, but my heart is all the warmer. Will you belong to me for ever?"

Olga drew one hand out of her muff and extended it as if in protestation:

"So suddenly, dear friend? And here in the snow?"

"Here we are undisturbed."

"Then it was base treachery?"

"Yes, I will confess it, my compass would not have failed me, but to be able to say to you at last what fills my whole--"

Wegen stopped, his teeth chattered, it was internal emotion mingled with a shiver, called forth by the low temperature of Boreas, who was blowing with inflated cheeks.

"It is indeed weather in which only the Lapland youth can stammer about love to a Lapland maiden," added Wegen dejectedly, "but the circumstances, the conditions--Olga, tell yourself that it is a favourable moment. I do not mean the weather, but that we are alone, quite alone. I will make you happy--we have little time, I do not mean for your happiness, for that we have our whole lives; but now to arrange matters. It is indeed barbarously cold. A glass of negus or mulled ale will do us good. But speak then, will you be mine?"

"I must consider it, weigh--"

"And the result you have seen in Cäcilie's case. Those are words as cold as ice; it is enough to freeze one's soul. My Olga, dear sweet girl, you know my circumstances, they are affluent, my people approve of my choice. Your mamma had already given her consent when I proposed to Cäcilie, and, of course, it is immaterial which of the two daughters--I mean--that is to say, immaterial to your mamma. And now once more may I claim my sleighing rights?"

Olga nodded pleasantly, and withdrew her other hand from her muff. Wegen pressed a glowing kiss upon her lips, the ice upon his fair beard melted in the fervour of his love.

"That was the sleighing privilege, and now--shall we glide together over the mirror-like surface of life, as we do over the ice? I promise to avoid every uneven course. The sleighing right for life?"

"Yes," whispered Olga, out of her fur hood, into which she had again relapsed.

Then Wegen pressed the betrothal kiss upon her lips, her arms encircled and folded him to herself, and heart would have beaten glowingly against heart if the thick fur trimmings had not been an insurmountable obstacle.

Soon the sleigh stumbled over the snow hillocks once more into the smooth course, and now they went impetuously towards the inn near the Haff, where a numerous circle of people was assembled.

Wegen led Olga to Frau von Dornau, and as he could not shout the glad tidings out aloud, sought by means of speaking pantomime to make her understand that he was engaged to Olga. A mother always understands such things, even although the where and how may remain a riddle to her, and while the waiter brought the negus ordered by Wegen and all fell to gallantly, Frau von Dornau spoke words of consent, and after having refreshed herself with a glass of the fiery drink, imparted her blessing in a voice full of emotion.

Cäcilie triumphed when she heard the news from Olga. "She is the right one, now at last you have found her," said she, as she shook Wegen's hand heartily. The intelligence spread rapidly, like quicksilver, amongst those present. A betrothed! Fräulein Baute's entire school becomes excited. A lover--for the first-class in a girl's school, that is the loftiest position upon earth to which a man can attain. Every eve of St. Sylvester they cast him in lead, and yet nothing can be done with such a leaden lover, a lover of the future.

Iduna, with her companions, one after another, glided past the chair in order to get a closer view of the marvel.

"It is, indeed, remarkable," said Lori to Dr. Sperner, who sat beside her and drank to her in a glass of mulled ale; "in Neukuhren people believed that he was as good as engaged to Cäcilie, he accompanied her upon the piano--and that is always the beginning. But he appears to have made a mistake then; this Olga is the right major chord. Upon the whole, I consider such feeling about rather tactless. Herr von Wegen is no Don Juan by profession like the other. I believe he allows himself to be married, and Cäcilie, who holds the first mortgage upon him, has given him notice, because he--did not offer sufficiently good security."

At the same time Lori made a gesture of explanation. Dr. Sperner knew how, by ringing laughter, to do honour to the schoolmistress' hint. What an amount of genius she concealed in her little head!

"But the other?" asked the Doctor, as he stroked his moustache complacently, "where is her first mortgage now?"

"On a spot, which alas! is even more insecure! If a suit be opened upon Dr. Kuhl's heart, then every unhappy creditor, or much rather female creditor, will have to content herself with very little payment."

"But I do not understand how a young lady can be so thoughtless."

"They should be cut, propriety requires it, nothing else is left for us."

At that moment Cäcilie passed by; she greeted them pleasantly, but her bow was scarcely returned by Lori, while Doctor Sperner looked defiantly at her, a bold smile upon his lips, and only nodded his head slightly.

Her sister's engagement cast her far into the shade, people gave her to understand that her free behaviour would no longer be tolerated in society. Major Bern's wife did not press her to sit down, although Banquo's ghost might have been obliged to sit either on the right or left hand, and the Frau Kanzleiräthin wrapped herself disapprovingly in her red shawl when Cäcilie addressed her, and was so chary of her words, that her friends looked anxiously at her as if she had been suddenly taken ill, because only shortly before she had gathered together the sluices of her eloquence, to pour out an overwhelming flood of language. Even Minna, who was still unmarried, and in spite of that fact had forfeited none of her good nature--fat Minna, who had already in all dancing parties long since belonged to the female land-sturm, and was only called out when no one else could be mobilised--did not talk to Cäcilie without a certain timidity, as if contact with so adventuresome a beauty might injure her good character, and frighten away some wooer, although for years already none had appeared on her horizon.

Cäcilie seemed to challenge danger with a certain amount of defiance, the tokens of contempt increased at table after table, where she greeted old acquaintances. Not more cheering was the familiar and impudent greeting of gifted Salomon, who, seated with a few friends over a large bowl of negus, pledged a glass to the lady passing by, and invited her to sit down at their table while he recited in a half intoxicated voice--

"With brunettes I now have finished,

And this year am once more fond

Of the eyes whose hue is azure

Of the hair whose colour's blonde."

Cäcilie found it difficult to defend herself from these importunate invitations.

Dr. Kuhl stood beside the stove, and warmed himself with his hands behind him, but nothing of that which befell Cäcilie escaped him. It filled him with extreme dissatisfaction, it was as if his beloved were running the gauntlet, and with such irritating composure. He had caught himself in the act of pulling up his coat sleeves in rage, ready to knock down all who insulted her.

"Dear Paul," said Cäcilie, "I have something to tell you."

"I do not understand," replied Paul, angrily, "how you can court all these people; they are the most worn out coinage which can have no circulation amongst us. Let us sit down here at this table behind the stove, there we shall at least not see these bald heads, which only by an oversight, or by the magic wand of some mischievous Demiurgos, were thrown amongst human beings. Well your communication--"

"It could be foreseen, Olga has engaged herself to Herr von Wegen."

Kuhl struck the table with his hand.

"Then may the weather--that Wegen! I always had an antipathy for the man; he belongs to those who would play with dice, and cannot count, and with the most innocent face he gets up one affair after another. First he proposes to you, then to Olga--I feel as if I saw my face in a distorting mirror, like a ridiculous caricature."

"No one will blame his conduct!"

"That is it! People may dare much for love! Only a little time must elapse between--time! That is the meaning of all wisdom, and yet that old maid who paints our wrinkles upon us makes everything worse! Whether to-day I love two girls at once, or to-day the one, and to-morrow the other, is really no very great difference! And yet the first is accounted a sin, and the other is most correct. Always the goose-step in life and love, and so one walks most comfortably through the world."

"You see, though, how kindly they greet Olga and thrust me aside."

"Olga--she has put a crown upon her faithlessness to our alliance, now it is broken! I did not think her so calculating."

"Calculating? She loves Wegen!"

"It is not possible!"

"Why? He is honest, and a gentleman!"

"Did you perhaps love him too?"

"And if I had done so? bountiful natures must find an outlet!"

"You are making fun of me! Verily any one who will uphold a sensible principle in a ridiculous world, must at least appear like a Don Quixote, even to himself; at least, they all look upon his helmet as a barber's goblet. I am weary of carrying on this impossible struggle with want of sense."

Cäcilie did not interrupt the monologue, but beat upon the table with her fingers, and looked inquiringly at his face with her cunning sparkling eyes.

"I took Olga's to be a nature," continued Kuhl, "which, following an unknown impulse, grasps the right one. We need such natures which do not trouble themselves at all about the rules of society, which pass no sleepless nights in consequence. For me she was refreshing, because for the mentally intoxicated, and those who are tired of roving, who wander through heaven and earth, there is no better refreshment than a richly endowed material nature; for me she was a triumph because she showed me that not natural feeling, but only the falsity of society demanded exclusive possession."

Cäcilie cast down her eyes and said timidly, "I did not know that Olga was so much to you!

"Not she alone, you both together, you complete one another in a harmonious picture of perfect womanhood."

"And what are we, then, separately, each by herself? Melancholy, imperfect work! And yet, dear Paul, if I ask my heart--is it rich enough in ardent passion to satisfy one whole life, I hear the reply and repeat it with pride. I alone will have you, for I feel the power within me quite alone to make you happy; for every effort, every action of your mind, an echo lives in my breast; for the glow and impetuosity of your love a corresponding fire; for immeasurable will, immeasurable devotion."

"Cäcilie," cried Kuhl warmly, stirred by the beautiful enthusiasm of an usually cold nature.

"My heart would tell me this, my proud heart! But love which can do all things, can also be resolute. I do not suffice you--well then! I did not only do violence to my own feelings, but in full consciousness I took martyrdom upon me, I bore the contempt of the world, not from the conviction that your audacious opinion was right, but with self-sacrificing courage of love I rejected Wegen's offer, as the world rejects me. You must be all to me, and I am not even to possess the comfort of being all to you."

Sinister clouds gathered on Kuhl's brow, he struggled with a resolution.

"Oh! do not think that it is so easy to stand alone and bear contempt. It wounds one's heart--and many scalding tears have I shed, and even now they come again into my eyes, although I may bear the humiliation with a smiling countenance."

Cäcilie began to sob, and with clenched hands Kuhl sprang up from the table, as though he would call an opponent out to battle.

"You cannot protect me as Blanden protected his beloved, with a pistol in his hand: outlaw and excommunication hover over me, but such things cannot be touched; they only keep watch in the air, they are only written on countenances, in gestures--and not men accustomed to battle are they who carry out this excommunication; they are women and girls, the guardians of propriety who only pierce a heart with pins."

"It shall be different," cried Kuhl now, with firm resolution. "Olga has left us, you have remained true to me, you shall not suffer for it. Verily, I am not Blanden's inferior in courage, and yet that duel has given me much to think about. He offered up his life for his beloved one's good name. I cannot, I must not, look on and see them insult you. Blanden has often already said so. I would not believe it; to-day I see it with my own eyes. No, no, no! He was right, ten times right! I may sacrifice myself to my convictions, but not a girl who loves me!"

Cäcilie had also risen, and with clasped hands looked beseechingly at him.

"I can ascend the funereal pile, but must not permit them even to scorch the finger tips of my beloved. Hitherto, you have sacrificed much to me, your good name before the world; thus I will sacrifice much to you, everything, a portion of my better self, faith towards truth. Yes, at this moment I appear like a traitor in my own eyes, whose hand shall be cut off, but I am weak, I will be weak out of love for you. They shall not think lightly of you, they shall not, although I despise their opinion and can only compare them with the vapour that hovers over large towns, the pestilential air of a densely-packed crowd, but for your sake Cäcilie--be it! I will take part in the same absurdity, and thus declare you to be my betrothed."

With a suppressed cry of gladness, Cäcilie sank into his arms, the stove concealed the group from the eyes of the many.

"And even marriage I shall not mind, it is the fruit of this evil doing and so on. At this moment I appear contemptible to myself, small--no reformer's vein flows through me, it must say pereat mundus 'and live the new faith,' but a man can no longer stand upon the buskin when he stands beneath the slipper. But now they shall have it in black and white, lithographed, engraved!--what do I care? And in all newspapers it shall be stated, so that you shall be purified, my child, with printer's ink! Go, hasten, whisper it to your sister, cry it through the room, they shall respect you, it does not cost much, a small amount of lungs and a few letters, such as are before a menagerie; lion and lioness in one cage! Then they will be contented at once. I shall still remain here in my corner, I must first consider what kind of grimace I must make as a fiancé. I shall look odd."

Cäcilie kissed his hands; drawing back, he said, "None of those slavish caresses, but go, go! There, I am, after all, caught in the purple silk, and the cursed song of the bridesmaids' wreath buzzes in my ears! By Jupiter! And Wegen, my brother-in-law! That is what reasoning animals call it! That is the most bitter pill!"

Cäcilie hastened at once to her sister and mother to bring them the glad tidings. Frau von Dornau was too happy! Two daughters engaged on one day!

Olga congratulated her sister heartily. "Only think," added she, "we became engaged out in the snow and ice, with the thermometer twenty degrees below zero!"

"And we," said Cäcilie smiling, "at about twenty degrees above zero, behind the blazing stove. It is a tale of extremes! It is to be hoped that the right temperature will be restored to us both in marriage."

Kuhl was brought out of his corner by both sisters to the family table; he wore the air of a culprit, who is led to execution. Wegen was brimming over with cordiality, Kuhl buttoned up his coat.

"It is better thus," said the Baron, "suum cuique! One must learn to control oneself."

"Well, I should think," replied Kuhl, "we have nothing to reproach ourselves with."

The news spread rapidly through the room and created the greatest sensation. Major Bern's wife appeared behind Cäcilie's chair with the friendly words, "May we congratulate you, my dear Fräulein?" The Kanzleiräthin came in her red shawl with her fat daughter Minna; both were affected, as was natural, under the circumstances. Minna had already wished happiness to so many others with her tears--rain falling upon the bridal wreath brings happiness. Last of all Lori appeared also, and congratulated with all her heart. Kuhl was a good match.

"There you have the world," said the latter to Cäcilie, "with what a fine thread these marionettes can be guided! It is worth while to act a comedy before such an audience."

But Lori said to Dr. Sperner, as he sat down beside her, "God have mercy on them! Courage is needed to marry Dr. Kuhl. Without barred windows and heavy iron, he will yet escape some day."

The moon shone brightly! The return journey was commenced in the most cheerful mood, which, however, soon ceased in the astonishing cold which meanwhile had set in.

"A bridal drive, such as the Esquimaux enjoy," said Kuhl, "but it is done more comfortably there with the dog-sleighs; here we must push our own goods home."



Blanden recovered slowly; several relapses occurred, weeks elapsed before he might take his drive with Giulia.

The softened mood of the convalescent was in harmony with the wild spring breeze which was wafted towards them from wood and meadow. The thawing wind had melted the ice on the Pregel, it floated to the sea, and the breezes of spring swept through the air.

They descended from the carriage in the wood, they gathered the last snow drops, the first anemones.

"I love these flowers," said Blanden, "the pretty anemones cannot grow in gloom, they only flourish in places where a fresh breath of air greets them, where the wind plays with their delicate coronets of blossom. Free air, fresh air, breath of life, how I have ever longed for you! I feel myself related to these lovely flowers--and if a soul dwells in these tiny anemones, it is one thirsting after freedom."

Giulia had learned to enter entirely into Blanden's thoughts and feelings, the quiet, familiar intercourse in his sick room had given her leisure to become quite absorbed in his richly stored mind.

Daily she felt more that she could not live without him, and equally so that she owed him her whole life; again and again she told herself that it could be no sin if she made him happy, so long as it was permitted by the fate which she defied. He did not see the sword above her head, she saw it with internal trembling, and yet--she defied it, even if it might fall upon her.

How devoutly she listened to his tales of the land of the lotus-flowers! Ah, how vast was the world, how rich the knowledge of it, how varying the habits! Giulia was almost alarmed when Blanden told her of the woman at Luckwardie, on the hills of the Himalaya, high above the Pomona--every woman there belongs to four brothers.

She lost herself completely in the breath of the fairy tale and flowery land, that is so lovely in its dreams and so vast in its thoughts. One after another Blanden unrolled these magically illuminated worlds of thought conceived by silent thinkers in penitents' garb and hermits' huts. Is the world but the veil, the dream, the existence?--why then is life full of nervous dread? Giulia felt herself strengthened by that dream-world of the Bast, everything painful and impious faded away in that mild, softening twilight.

Blanden, too, seemed to be transfigured by the soothing influence of sickness, in the loneliness of the sick room, far removed from the world: like one of those thoughtful hermits, who, upon mossy banks in sacred groves, amongst flowers and gazelles, ponder upon the mystery of the world. She thus forgot that he, far from belonging to inactive dreamers, had only lately given a proof of western knightliness which is very different from the blood-fearing Hindoo; but yet he was filled with the warmest sympathy for Hindoo thinkers and poets.

"How profound," said he often, "is the blending of the soul with all that their wise men teach. If the form break, the spirit becomes united with the Divine soul of the world, as a bottle in the deep mingles its contents with the sea, if it break against the rocks."

Four lines of poetry, however, were, above all others, ineffaceably impressed in her memory, reflecting her situation, her mood, so truly that she trembled in her very soul when Blanden first recited them to her, verses culled from one of the two great hero books of India, containing such depth of thought as is not to be found either in the heroic poetry of Greece or Germany--

"Oh earthly happiness ever trembling on the brink,
As dew drops kiss the flowers a moment but to sink;
As logs on the ocean may meet and then sever
So men here on earth, and to meet again--never."

Blanden was obliged to kiss the tears from Giulia's eyes, which the grand verses of the Ramayana and the song of "trembling earthly happiness" had called forth.

"You often appear to me," said Blanden, "like a charming Savitri, and although you also are my goddess of fire, I do not mean her, but the child which bore her name. A dark prophecy dedicated the beloved one to death after the lapse of a year, but before the fatal respite drew near, she performed daily penances, praying and fasting; and like a marble goddess standing before the altar, and when the blood-red god of death appeared, with the thin rope in his hand, and had already extracted her beloved one's soul, she knew how to move him by her prayers, entreaties, and her touching faithfulness, until he granted her her husband's life. You, too, with faithful care and touching prayer have won my life from the blood-red Yamna."

"It was my own life," replied Giulia; "without you I could not have lived, you yourself told me that the funereal pile is lighted with sacred fire into which the Hindoo widow casts herself. That pure flame was the fire of your love for me; they die for him who had lived for them, how much more must I have sought death for him who would have died for me?"

Trembling in the bliss of such devoted affection, she thought of Beate and her errand with eagerness as terrified as that with which the Hindoo maidens follow the flower-clad little boats, carrying burning lamps, and which they have confided to the waves of the Ganges; if the lamp extinguish, then extinguishes the light of hope, and a silent desire entrusted to the stream, finds its watery grave. When Blanden told her this, how she had thought of her light-ship that was now tossing upon the waves of the Orta lake; perhaps already the north wind which blew through the passes of the Simplon had extinguished the little lamp of her hopes.

It was a weird shadow which followed her through life. Oh, how she envied the gods and peris who dwelled in enchanted gardens far above the everlasting snow upon the summits of the Himalayas, envied them not the flowers of Paradise, not the ethereal light, not the glorious song of the Gandharvos, not because they drink the Indian ambrosial amreeta in fox-gloves out of the moon, which, for fourteen days, the sun has filled with that drink, but only the one privilege, that of walking in light and casting no shadow behind them. An unshadowed bliss, this for her was unattainable for evermore!

Even the measures of precaution by which she had intended to conceal from Blanden her defeat upon the stage, were only successful for a time. One day a deputation of students, in caps of every hue, came to Blanden. Salomon was the speaker.

"We know, Herr von Blanden, that Fräulein Bollini is your betrothed, we wish you happiness, although the muse of song--her name I cannot recollect this moment, as we sons of the muses care less for them than might be expected--will veil her face. A report is spread abroad that you forbid your betrothed to tread the world-renowned stage."

"It is her own free will," replied Blanden.

"We respect you," continued Salomon, "because you have shown in a knightly manner how a man should defend his lady's honour, and even, although we have no lady-loves, at least no perennial plants, who bear the title of wife or betrothed, we know well how to appreciate such conduct."

A murmur of approval from the students denoted their concurrence in those words.

"Therefore it is that we address you with the entreaty that you persuade your betrothed to appear again upon the stage. We are all now ready to protect her, after having learned with whom that disgraceful outrage originated."

"What outrage?" asked Blanden astonished.

Salomon was surprised at the question.

"But surely you know, Herr von Blanden?--"

"Indeed, I know of nothing!"

The deputation became uncomfortable, the students looked at one another in amazement. Salomon, however, was soon calmed, and at the same time delighted at his own shrewdness, as he imagined he was able to see through the matter; he snapped his fingers and said--

"Then our respected prima donna has concealed this from you out of tender feeling, so as not to cause you any excitement which might be deleterious to your health. But now that the mention of the unpleasant fact has escaped the custody of our lips, you will be able to bear the sad news with manly dignity. Yes, on that evening on which Giulia was to sing Rosina's part, she was hissed, drummed out, and whistled at, until the curtain had to be lowered."

Blanden sprang up wrathfully.

"The worthless creatures; oh, I know--"

"It was a conspiracy," added Salomon.

"Savitri, faithful nurse, this then was your penance," said Blanden dreamily to himself.

"It was desecration of the temple to the muses."

"That is why the criticisms on the 'Barbière di Sevilla' could not be found when I wanted to read them," said Blanden.

"A most unholy alliance between the companions of Spiegeler the reporter, and a clique got together by an officer, carried off a disgraceful victory on that eventful evening. Very few members of the Albertina, alas, were present, but we have now resolved to make Signora Bollini brilliant amends upon her next appearance. The noble clubs of Masuren and Lithuania, the Albertina itself with all its societies; the Hochheimers, Goths, Teutons and Borusses are unanimous, which does not often happen, and even the independent Camels will join the students' union. We shall not permit a small party to be the leaders of taste in the theatre, we will represent the vox populi with overwhelming force, and the pillars of the old shop of the muses shall tremble with the thunder of our acclamations. Long live Signora Bollini!"

"Hurrah!" cried the students, waving their caps.

"I thank you from my heart, gentlemen," said Blanden, "but the decision upon this point rests with the actress."

"But you have much influence over her! We will offer her consolation and compensation. May she console herself with Schiller--

'The mean world loves to darken what is bright;'

then Heine's verses will become true--

'And a new-born song spring softly
From the heal'd heart shoots to-morrow.'

"I am fond of quoting, Herr von Blanden, it is an act of disinterested love of truth; our cultivation consists entirely in half unconscious or unguaranteed quotations. Why not declare openly that Bartel knows on which side his bread is buttered?"

As Salomon began to diverge--a known peculiarity of the versatile talented youth--one of the seniors, whose face, rendered purple by many a cut and thrust, bore artistic marks of kind friends legibly sketched upon it, assumed the reins of the transaction with a firm hand.

"Let the Signora appear, we will protect her! If that clique venture forth once more, we will reply to their second brutal blow with fitting tierce and quart, so that their ears shall tingle."

"I repeat," said Blanden, "that I am very grateful to you, but I cannot even support your wish."

"Why not?" asked Salomon, dissatisfied with the meagre results of his eloquence.

"I do not wish that my betrothed shall be again exposed to the storms of public opinion; I will guide her into a safe haven. The laurels of the European capitals will console her for this small defeat; even for Signora Bollini's laurels, may Frau von Blanden long no more, she will belong to quite another world, and I wish that too violent equinoctial gales should not accompany her to this change in her life, so that she may be able calmly to prepare herself for it. But this, of course, is only my opinion, I shall not interfere at all with my betrothed's resolutions, and she will in any case rejoice at your warm sympathy, and the honor which you intend for her."

Blanden shook hands pleasantly with the students' delegates, while he added, every one of the gentlemen should be welcome who would be present at his wedding.

Soon after, he went to Giulia; he reproached her for having concealed from him the scene in the theatre; she was alarmed that he should have heard of it.

"Silence," said she, "is not always as the German poet says, the god of the happy, but just as often the god of the unfortunate."

"Do you think that I should have rejected you as Rama rejected his Sita, when the opinion of the people turned against her? Do you believe that you are less dear to me, fill my whole heart less, when the senseless mob calumniates you?"

"Oh, that is not the cause of my silence towards you; I feared that you might excite yourself for my sake. I would not let any shadow from without cast its gloom into your sick chamber."

"Oh, you are so gentle and good! Goodness of heart is little prized in the world, and yet all wisdom depends upon it, it alone is the guarantee of happiness. Giulia, shall you appear upon the stage again?"

"Never," replied the singer.

"They would prepare you a brilliant triumph, you would retire from the stage richer by one beautiful recollection! Weigh it well!"

"Is it your wish?"

"Only if you wish it!"

"No, no! I want no more laurel wreaths, and if I retire with a painful memory, my parting from the stage will be all the easier; I want nothing more in the world but your love. Buried be my past, oh, could I but bury it deeply!"

"But not all!" said Blanden, "shall even the beautiful recollection of the magic lake be buried? Every day of happiness was a picture of future enchanting years. Do you remember the charming Indian poem, 'Calidas,' of which I told you? Oh, that Indian poetry is like the madhavya plant, which from its very root is full of flowers. I always think of that lovely Sacontala, and the marriage of Gandarvos, by which upon the flowery seat of the hermit's cave she united herself to the king. Then in the Indian legend ensues a time of long, dreary forgetfulness, but upon our life rests another curse. At last Sacontala saw her beloved one again; misunderstandings were cleared up, and the short enchanting meeting became a lasting alliance. Therefore will I, my lotus-flower, kiss the tears from your cheeks, as King Duschmanta kissed his regained beloved one."

"Then, I will belong only and wholly to you," cried Giulia, amid kisses and embraces, "and even the fame which I conquered shall fade away like visions in the air."

"I feel better every day," said Blanden, "I shall soon go to Kulmitten, and make all preparations for our marriage."

Giulia, as usual, trembled when the eventful day was named.

"If only Beate would return," said she to herself, "perhaps I should be calmer."

Once more before setting out for his estate Blanden made a speech in the Citizen Assembly; he did not wish to break the thread which he had attached here, an active political life should be closely united to the domestic happiness he had ensured. Unfortunately, however, he must learn that his popularity in those circles had suffered seriously. Theatrical adventures and duels were something that the citizen mind could not deem compatible with a pioneer of political liberty. While they suddenly discovered a Don Quixote in him, he found himself at variance with the sentiments of the free citizens. Mutual estrangement ensued: his speech met with a lukewarm reception, the matadors of the assembly, the political doctor, the picturesque humourist, gave no token of approval, and therefore the crowd also remained silent.

Not without a feeling of bitterness did Blanden leave the Gemeinde-garten; a slight veil was spread over his political dreams of the future; should he always remain bound to a life of vagrancy, never be able to raise himself to citizen-like activity, to statesman-like distinction?

Spring was in the air, as he drove home with his foaming team, but an autumnal sensation at his heart he could not suppress.



About eight days might have elapsed since Blanden's departure. Giulia meanwhile had dissolved her agreement with the managers, and at home denied herself to all visitors. She was in a state of excitement which she could conceal with difficulty. Whenever a carriage drove up in her vicinity she rushed to the window. She watched for Beate with dread expectancy. At last the carriage stopped before the house, and her friend's first words were, "Be calm! All is well."

After having shaken off the dust of her journey, Beate soon appeared in Giulia's drawing-room with the unfailing cunning smile upon her lips, and with a calm gladsomeness, such as follows the execution of a good deed; she stirred the crackling fire in the stove, seated herself comfortably upon the sofa, poured as much arack as possible into her tea, to warm herself, and then began to relate the events of her journey:

"Oh, our beautiful south! How melancholy to drive over these plains of ice, through the snow-laden pine forests, through these districts where sleepy Nature never seems to open her eyes, how terribly wearisome all the world here appears to one! And those passengers in mail coaches, those Polish Jews, those people from the small towns with their boxes, their baggage, their stupid faces! Thus it went on night and day, day and night. People have given themselves the trouble to find names for all these heaths, these towns through which one drives, and yet one looks like another, it is most immaterial what they are called! Even a little rocky nest in our Italy at least looks picturesque, here they are always the same barns, the same bad pavement, over which the mail coach rattles.

"A long row of extra carriages followed the principal one, in which a most unpleasant company seemed to be congregated. In the dark corners of the passengers' room I saw figures which resembled brigands, one passenger especially, with a black bandage over one eye, and a dark beard, clings to my recollections. I saw him creep past me several times, wrapped up in his cloak. I had an eerie feeling as if he had cast an evil eye upon me, it seemed sometimes as if he were staring piercingly at me out of the dark with his only sound one. I had to rest in the capital, for three days and three nights I had not left the rattling coach, and, at last, from over fatigue, had fallen into an unrefreshing sleep. I had hardly looked after my baggage and put my large box into the charge of a postal official in order to seek my long missed rest at an hotel, before I saw a special post-chaise drive up and the man in the cloak, with the bandage over his eye, get in.

"He must be in great haste to proceed, for the post-chaise had four horses.

"I travelled slowly, I rested several times in large towns. I am nervous too, although I am no actress, but daily intercourse with a prima donna upsets one's nerves. Do not be offended, dear child, but even the finest particles of dust, which one swallows in your theatre, are like aqua toffana. I remained one day in Berlin, in Nuremberg, in Augsburg!

"How I rejoiced when I saw the Alps again, dangerous as was the drive through the snow passes.

"Then I felt the mild soft spring breath of Italy when the steamboat carried me across the glorious lake. From Stresa I went over the mountains to Orta--how my heart beat, when the waves of the lake surged at my feet, and the little island with the rocky castle lay before me.

"I had had leisure enough on my way to think of a plan as to how I could best execute my task, a task that was full of danger for body and soul; but for the soul there is always absolution. Many plans that rose in my mind I rejected as too daring, as impracticable, much I must leave to chance and circumstances. I then made enquiries for the two witnesses to the marriage, whose names you wrote down for me. Signor Bonardo has long been dead, and the beautiful Orsola eloped with a Greek, and was quite lost sight of. No danger is threatened from that quarter.

"I visited the chaplain of the little church of San Giulio, he was a young man not unsusceptible to my charms. His predecessor, the old priest, had just died. For a long time he had been in confinement in the cloister, and under examination. In the nearest diocese a trial was to be instituted against him for forgery, of which he had been guilty. The chaplain himself conducted me up the high steps by the lake into the sacristy of the church, where he searched through the registry to reply to my question as to your marriage day. If ever I exerted my eyes I did so then. Eagerly I followed his movements, noted the book, the number of the page, the entrance to the sacristy. I thanked the chaplain, the good man even became tender towards me, and when he bestowed his blessing upon me he kissed me upon my brow.

"It was still early morning, and a long day of twelve hours lay before me. People might, perhaps, have taken me for a love-sick dreamer if they had seen me wander upon the woodland paths behind the little town. I could not remain long in the Leone d'oro, feverish restlessness had taken possession of me.

"I scrambled up the path with its numerous chapels leading to the pilgrims' church of San Franciscus. I prayed here and there. I did penance for that which I was about to begin. I felt as if I belonged not to the bright day, not to this glorious nature! How exquisite was the view over the lake from the Sacro Monte, upon the chestnut and walnut woods of Pella, upon the high Alps of Monte Rosa, what a breath of Spring quivered yonder in the fruit hedge and made the lake ripple! With my sinister purpose I seemed to be out of place in this bright world!

"How sleepily the hours crept on. How long it was before the sun declined into the west and cast its more slanting rays into the waves of the lake and upon the house roofs of the little town. And much as I had longed for this hour with feverish impatience, I became proportionately alarmed again at the approach of fatal night.

"Like an incendiary I had provided myself with a tinder-box that was sufficiently well supplied to contain ample provision, even for many vain attempts.

"The windows of the little church of San Giulio were brightly illuminated, it was the hour of evening service. My boat glided over the lake in the moonlight, and landed at the tall granite stairs.

"I ascended the steps. The moon was just hiding its light in a cloud; and looking back upon the lake, in a boat that seemed to be circling round the little rocky island, like an eagle round his eyrie, I perceived a closely enveloped figure, which reminded me of that man with the bandage.

"My sight is keen, but it was too dark to recognise the figure more accurately, and I soon came to the conclusion that I had become the victim of a morbid delusion. The skiff disappeared behind a rocky promontory which rose up steeply to the summit, upon which stood the old tower of Berengarius.

"I entered the church, but neither could I join in the devotions of the congregation nor examine the pillars of porphyry, the image of the Madonna of Ferrari, nor the mosaics of the floor. I only looked about for some place of concealment in which I could hide myself, and believed I had discovered one behind a small tomb.

"I took advantage of a moment in which the sacristan, like the rest of the congregation, was occupied with the service, to creep behind the door of the sacristy, and quickly as lightning drew out the key, then I descended the stairs, and unperceived cast it into the lake.

"The service was over, the sacristan made his round of the church once more, and convinced himself that the devout throng had entirely left it. Having passed my youth amongst bands of smugglers, I am used to creeping, crawling, and slipping into crevices like lizards, and thus I succeeded in deceiving the custodian of the church by first gliding after him and then suddenly disappearing behind the tomb. He sought long in vain for the key of the sacristy, and at last relinquished the effort, shaking his head, while he left the door standing open. He shut the church behind him: I was alone.

"The first sensation which overcame me was one of undefined dread. A few lingering moonlight rays still fell through the tall church windows, and shed a light upon the pictures on the wall, so that they seemed to move like ghosts. But then the darkness became intense, either the moon had set or was concealed behind heavy clouds. My solitary footsteps made a hollow echo upon the floor. I shuddered when I remembered that about the midnight hour spirits might rise out of the tombs and keep me company. It was still too early for my undertaking. Below all was still awake in the island town and upon the lake, a gleam of light too early would have betrayed me.

"But from dread of the echo of my footsteps, which rumbled away through the empty space as if something besides myself were stirring here, I sat down motionlessly upon a bench, folded my hands, tried to pray, and then to fall asleep.

"And a short sleep did overcome me, but I started up from it with a loud cry. Had I dreamed it? It seemed as if at the other end of the church something that passed gently over the steps, stumbled over the benches.

"But all was still again, the dread of a living being besides myself in this place had fled to my dreams, and on awaking the delusion still clung to me.

"It must have been midnight already; deep silence reigned without, not a sound from the houses by the lake penetrated to my ears, not even the dim radiance of the lightly veiled moonlight forced its way through the windows. Impenetrable heavy clouds must have enveloped the heavenly orb, because the blackest obscurity filled the church.

"My sense of locality came to my assistance. I had impressed the plan of the interior of the church sharply into my memory, estimated all distances correctly; I knew exactly where the chairs stood, and in how many rows, where the steps began to ascend to the altar, where was the entrance to the sacristy.

"Thus I felt my way from one row to another, measured with careful feet the distance to the altar steps, and was already placing my foot upon the lowest one when an invisible hand behind my dress drew me back.

"I was seized with unutterable horror; my heart beat audibly; it could be no delusion; I was not alone here; was I in the power of an invisible enemy; or did a spectre persecute me?

"I put my hand out behind; I grasped the empty air; the hand had released my dress; I cried in a strong voice, so as to inspire myself with courage, 'Who is here?' But nothing replied, excepting one loud echo from the walls of the empty church.

"Nevertheless my heart is full of courage, and I said to myself, why this fear and alarm? What concerns you is that you have pledged your honour to save your friend; now see that you succeed whether you live or die, even if hell send its ghosts against you!

"Indeed, it seemed more probable that some spectre hand had seized me, than that any human being besides myself lingered in the gloomy place, but if it were a mortal, then I must try to deceive and out-manœuvre him.

"Like lightning this flashed through my mind. I did not ascend any more steps; softly as possible I glided into a corner, there I drew off my shoes, and crept once more to the altar steps, which this time I could pass up undisturbed. I felt about the altar until I had hold of one of the candelabra, and had convinced myself that a candle was in it. With nervous anxiety I avoided the least sound.

"The candlestick in one hand, I went down again from the high altar, held my dress closely together with the other, so that it might not sweep the steps. I did not dare to breathe.

"Then something in the corner stumbled over my shoes, which I had left there. This time I was not alarmed. I was thankful that the ghost was on the other side of the church; in all haste I sped into the sacristy through the door, which was only slightly ajar.

"I knew that the light would attract the bats, which hopped after me, and yet I could not shut the door without betraying myself. I groped for the desk where I had seen the registry lie, there it was still in the same place. I turned over the leaves and counted the pages, of which, in the morning, I had taken note. I must gain as much time as possible before I should burn the tell-tale light.

"At last the moment had arrived, it must be done. My tinder-box did its duty; the altar candle burned; the holy light illuminated my unholy task.

"For the duration of a second the sensation of sacrilege overcame me, but time passed.

"I had only turned over two pages too many, there it stood: Giulia Bollini, Signor Baluzzi. That was the fatal leaf! With bold resolution I tore it out and held it in the flame. Then a loud peal of mocking laughter rang from the door of the sacristy. I looked round and saw the man with the bandage.

"The page was burned to atoms, I still saw it as if in a dream; rigid with fear I saw the man rush upon me; I blew out the light, but I could not escape him.

"I felt as one does in those dreams in which we see a monster, a serpent, a tiger prepared for the spring which shall kill us: my nerves were over-excited so that I could not distinguish between my dream and reality.

"Still nearer came the steps of the gruesome ghost. My senses gave way. I fell down in a swoon!

"When I awoke again all was still intensely dark, but morning must soon dawn.

"I was alone, as it appeared; nothing stirred. The altar candlestick still stood upon the desk. I took it up, crept out of the sacristy up to the altar and put it back upon its old place. Nothing molested me! My shoes I found in my corner. I put them on, hid myself behind a pillar, not far from the church door, ready for rapid flight.

"Indeed, it was not long before the sacristan opened the church doors for early mass. He went towards the altar, while I glided out behind him and hastened down the steps as if the church behind me were in flames.

"In Orta, also, I only remained a few minutes, then drove over to Stresa; the coachman could not make his horses go fast enough. In Bellinzona I became ill from the excitement, and when I had recovered, I performed very severe penance; my mind was terribly upset, but the farther north I came, the fresher did the breeze blow towards me. I began then to triumph that I had outmanœuvred that secret emissary of Baluzzi--because it could be no one else--that I had succeeded, despite his watchful ambuscade. I triumphed that I had restored you your liberty, and with this proud emotion I now clasp you in my arms.

"Burned to ashes is the spell that fettered you, and freely may you follow your heart!"

Giulia was intensely excited at her friend's intelligence, amid tears she squeezed Beate's hands. And yet she could not conquer an internal fear. Thus breaking into the sanctuary of the church seemed like an inexpiable act of sacrilege which rested upon her soul; and even if she believed in the newly-gained liberty she could not feel glad. Anxious forebodings of unknown possibilities that lay waiting in the air disturbed her confidence in unclouded happiness. What secrets oppressed her soul! How could she meet her beloved one's eye? The heavy weight that lies in the consciousness of forbidden deeds, did not permit her to draw that free breath without which success loses its triumphant charms. And yet--she was resolved to seize the supremest bliss in life in spite of fate, to set the right of her passion above all the rights in the world. Was her happiness only transitory? She must do penance and succumb; at any rate, that which she now struggled for with such ardent longing would once have been her own.

Beate had not been back many days before Blanden's invitation to Kulmitten was received. The day of the marriage was decided upon. Giulia prepared for her departure with Beate after having made a few purchases for a brilliant toilet.

Numerous guests from the provincial capital set out on horseback and in carriages for Kulmitten. The students had not neglected the invitation; they were glad to be present at a gay wedding. Salomon had arranged a performance for the Polter-abend, adapted from his collection of poetical blossoms, and the doctors, Kuhl and Schöner, drove a spirited team to the lakes of Masuren. Cäcilie was expected to come with Olga and Wegen from the neighbouring estate, where she had gone upon a visit to her sister, and every one in the district, who had not shown a hostile spirit towards the proprietor of Kulmitten, was welcome on this glad occasion.

Certainly, only a singer! It was, indeed, an unsuitable choice! Several ladies pretended to be ill, and only allowed their husbands to look on at the phenomenon so as to be able to bring back an account of the doings.

"I do not like such extremes," said Frau Baronin Fuchs to her husband, "is it necessary to jump from the sanctimonious to the most impudent children of this world? Certainly, in reality, the other was the same kind, only a different colour. No power in the world would take me to this wedding; you, of course, will drive over because everything connected with rouge pots and stage tinsel has a certain charm for you now. Well, look from a close point of view at the Circe who has enchanted this knight of the rueful countenance."



Two sitting-rooms and bedrooms were prepared for Giulia and Beate in the old wing of the Castle. Blanden had ridden over to the nearest town to meet her, and sent on his carriage and four in advance.

He drove back with her. When they arrived at the boundary of his possessions, they were greeted by the peasants and tenants with loud acclamations. A handsomely decorated triumphal arch was erected; canon resounded far and near, and genuine, indeed, were the rejoicings of the people, who idolised Blanden. None of the proprietors on the lakes of Masuren were so gentle and kind as he, certainly none others had studied Buddha's teachings, or recognised pity for every being of creation as the original spring of all wisdom and morality.

The school girl who presented a huge nosegay to Giulia at the gate of honour, had learned a very long and very profound address, which was listened to with intense weariness by all but the bride-elect, for whom an accusation lay in every one of those moral sentiments. Cold water seemed to be running down her, when the little girl, with devout dove-like eyes, looked lovingly into her face.

And when old Olkewicz acted as spokesman for the officials and those belonging to the estate, and spoke of the old family possession, of the worthy heir, of his forefathers, then she suddenly felt what, until now, had been quite unknown to her: that here she was entering into the sacred circle of a family, into a well-regulated world governed by moral laws, into touching familiarity amongst equals, into a beautiful blending together of past and future; and to herself she appeared in the light of an intruder, who deserved to be cursed, who tore down the old saintly household gods from the domestic hearth, and with a guilty hand polluted a stainless roll of ancestors. She shuddered as if seized with cold; while Olkewicz also stammered in his honest speech and lost himself--he had suddenly recognised Giulia; it was actually the same white fairy who had stood on high in the moonlight on the gallery of the belfry tower.

The carriage drove on through the park. The Castle was decked with flags and banners, fluttering merrily in the breeze; all the doors were wreathed; here a dense crowd--part of which had hastened by a short cut from the triumphal arch, and were thus in advance--received them with renewed cheers.

Blanden was deeply moved, and pressed his betrothed's hand; he knew that it was true hearty love which bade them welcome. He thought of his father, of the old lords of the Castle--they blessed his entry. His feelings were solemn as he lifted his future bride out of the carriage and led her into the Castle, where he delivered her into the hands of the guardian spirits of his home.

When Giulia was seated alone in her room, for a few moments she gave herself up to a sensation of luxurious comfort; how strange was it for a wandering disciple of art to have a home, to reign as mistress over a vast estate! No more need she trouble about the gains of the moment, no more need she struggle from day to day for a living, competing for fame and gold, and the favour of the variable crowd which alone could grant both to her. The labour of art in the muses' temple appeared like a miserable daily task, which is forced from the reluctant senses, while only the holiness of enthusiasm sanctifies the artistic duty! From country to country had she wandered with her nomad tent, tarrying long wherever she had found plentiful pastures; but how many dangers did the pirates of criticism prepare for her, by how many fata morgana had she been deceived--how homeless was her life, her soul!

What a sensation of security behind the stout walls of this Castle; for decades, for a whole life-time, every struggle with its necessities was banished, a life belonging to itself, one not given up to the mob! And how one must learn to love every little spot of earth which, by the habit of long association and possession, has become a portion of ourselves! Without, the trees rustled, the eastern sky glanced in the reflection of the declining sun, and the evening star, the star of love, peeped forth in the vapour-like clouds that were tinged with a delicate red.

Yonder the tall oaks, the silver poplars, and Scotch firs; the pavilion with its gay windows peeping out of the Chinese shrubs that surrounded it; the bridge over the lake; upon the island stood the swans' houses: at first all seemed but a pretty picture for her contemplation, but from day to day it must all become blended into her life--every spot, sanctified by love, become endeared to her heart.

And how home-like the old furniture in the drawing and other rooms: roccoco cupboards, and drawers with their sweeping lines, those arm-chairs, little works of art carved in wood, those heavy curtains, which formed an easily moved partition between the secret concealed cabinets and drawing-rooms! How pleasant the faces of the old male and female servants, who at once took the new mistress to their hearts, and were ready to watch over their new precious possession as well as they had ever guarded the most valuable treasure confided to them.

A proud sensation of happiness overcame her; the dream of a peaceable existence, of ensured happiness, hovered before her mind, then her hand was pressed convulsively to her heart; painfully she felt the rift that extended through her whole life--that she always experienced, even although concealed from her lover and the world, but which, when it suddenly yawned, became an abyss which must swallow up all her felicity.

She could only listen absently to Beate's chatter, "I must say it is a true Palazzo Pitti, in which we, however, are the most beautiful pictures! And as to its being countryfied, the Castle itself certainly is not so, although the entire population consists of rough unhewn blocks. One might be in a fortress; down below, Signora, at the foot of the hill, still stands a massive square tower. I enquired about it, they call it the 'Dantziger;' it was used for watching the besiegers and taking them in their rear, it also ensured escape, as a secret outlet leads to the lake. The stone passage, with its handsome arches, unites it with the Castle. Well, if I can find a sweetheart here, the old Dantziger will do me good service for secret adventures and secret flight. Besides which, in the Castle, there are divers stairs in the walls, hidden doors--what else I know not! The Knights of the Order had their secrets, too. We shall find it all out in good time."

"You are incorrigible with your love of adventures, Beate."

"Think of the sacristy in the church of San Giulio. What should you be without me? A very doubtful betrothed, your past rests in the Orta Lake with the sacristy key! But enough of it. They are very lively over in the new wing, where all are preparing for the Polter-abend entertainment; they say it is just like being behind the scenes, gay masks of every kind, but terribly inexpert wardrobe women; everything in the world requires experience. If only we were with them, we understand the art."

Beate was still chattering when Blanden entered; she possessed tact enough to disappear as speedily as possible.

"Only get dressed quickly, dear Giulia!" cried Blanden, "all are preparing to greet us. I am an outlawed man it is true, but yet one always possesses some real friends. The Castle is full from attic to cellar; for twenty years or more there has not been such a garrison. You bring life into my solitude, let me welcome you cordially once more."

He clasped her in his arms and pressed a fervent kiss upon her lips.

"What is that little box," said Giulia, "which you carry in your hand?"

"My bridal gift, beloved! I come with a full heart, and may not do so empty handed."

He opened the ebony casket: the most beautiful ornaments, a diadem with brilliants, necklets and bracelets of the most magnificent pearls, and beside them unset precious stones, sapphires, and rubies shone in such radiance that Giulia could not suppress a sudden cry of admiration.

"It is all yours, it is the inheritance which has been bequeathed to the last Blanden by his mother and by the ancestral mistresses of this house, there being no living heiress who has the right to these ornaments. From henceforth you shall wear them, they have found an owner again who is worthy of them, and well they will suit your dark hair and fine features!"

Giulia was dazzled with the brilliant gift, and yet-- Like will-'o-the-wisps, like snakes of fire, they flashed and quivered before her eyes! Was it not a robber's hand which grasped this family possession?

But she overcame the slight shudder with which she saw the ghostly ancestresses of the house of Blanden, as they stretched out their bony hands in protest, or touched her brow and imprinted the sign of the curse upon her. She was only conscious of Blanden's love and goodness in confiding such a priceless heritage to her, and, thanking him cordially, laid her hand upon her heart.

On that evening she would be queen of the feast, banish all gloomy thoughts; he should have a right to be proud of her. A mistress of the toilet, an art belonging to the stage, she would enhance her beauty by simple attire. Merrily adorned with a wreath of flowers, her hair, black as ebony, as it fell upon her neck, enframed a face whose fine moulding did not suffer from the pallor of its features, for that Venetian colouring appertained to the beauty of marble, to that idealism of form which was peculiar to her. Her tall slight figure was seductively enveloped in clouds of pink tulle, and as if of gleaming foam, bosom and neck, the glorious outlines of a Venus Anadyomene rose from out that mass of clouds. As she entered the dining-hall with Blanden, a buzz of admiration passed through the apartment. They were mostly elderly gentlemen who were present, the younger ones were still behind the scenes preparing the masquerade.

Hermann von Gutsköhnen and Sengen von Lärchen had never seen anything of the kind; the former greeted her with a whispered monologue which reached its climax in a low oath; the latter held his finger thoughtfully to his nose, and after his address, "dear friends," had allowed a considerable pause to follow, "she is a most beautiful woman, tall, she has breeding, something Arab-like in her nostrils, and devilish black hair, but no healthy colour--she needs some Masuren breezes to blow about her cheeks."

"Thunder and lightning," replied Hermann, "a splendid toilet! But a betrothed should really be a rose-bud, she is perfectly full blown!"

"Herr von Blanden has good taste," said Baron von Fuchs to his neighbour, the Landrath, "it is well that our wives have not come with us. It was well feigned hoarseness, and a most justifiable headache which befell them, because I must say--naturally I exclude our wives--we have no beauties in the district who can be compared with her. And they who stayed at home have all happily escaped this sensation. In words they would not have acknowledged this beauty, but at heart they would have bowed before it as the brethren bowed before Joseph, in the dream; they would have tingled with unbounded jealousy to the very tips of their fingers and toes, because whosoever bathes in the pool of Bethsaida knows how to respect the beauty of the Olympians."

Blanden and Giulia welcomed their guests heartily, and then seated themselves in two garlanded arm-chairs to receive the homage of the Polter-abend. A merry blast of music announced the commencement of the performance.

First appeared lovely water-fairies from the lake. Olga von Dornau led the dance; the daughter of the Sanitätsrath from the district town, the daughters of a retired major, who lived there, and a rich young widow represented the Naiads decked with reeds.

The concessions made to the local colouring and faithful costume of the legend, were of varying degrees, the young widow's being the greatest. Olga was the speaker of the Kingdom of the Nymphs--

"With the welcome of sisters we greet thee

In thy beauty, our sovereign anew;

Long we mourned, never hoping to meet thee,

Now thine image again we review.

The waters shall mirror thy image afar
As in glory and triumph we carry thy car."

Thereupon, Cäcilie appeared as the goddess of Song, a wreath of laurels in her hand; behind her, Thalia and Melpomene, which characters were assumed by two of her friends.

Cäcilie had composed these lines for herself--

"Silently, sadly, we see you depart,

Leaving our kingdom made greater by you,

But the laurel of fame must give place to the heart,

Happiness there is more lasting and true.

Go you to bliss that cannot be measured,

And leave those behind who will never forget,

Your art as yourself will ever be treasured,

O'er your gain we rejoice, our loss we regret."

Then Schöner entered as a herald; in sonorous flowing verses he announced the arrival of the new mistress of the Castle, and poured forth praises of the perfection of her beauty and art; he recited these verses with wonted enthusiasm, and received plenteous applause.

Herr von Wegen came as the Master, at the head of a number of Knights of the Order; their white mantles with the black cross, harmonised well with the old dining-hall, which thus gained historical animation.

The German Order also greeted the new mistress; the poem, of whose authorship the fair-haired District Deputy was guiltless, while his brother-in-law, Dr. Kuhl, was universally thought to be its composer, contained some humourous flashes; it spoke of a fair lady who had not, as in former times, surreptitiously entered the house of the Order, and by the back way, but like a mistress, who is entitled to go up the principal wide staircase. Thus the Order was completely secularised, and by this brilliant example the Order of wilful old bachelors equally so, as was demonstrated by the master himself, and his friend, the Prussian heathen.

And now, armed with a mighty club, Dr. Kuhl stepped forth as an ancient Prussian at the head of a band dressed in skins; he greeted Giulia in the name of the original inhabitants of the land, who alone possessed a right to these forests and lakes; he declared war to the knights who had been imported into this free land, to those monks of the sword, that black-crossed hypocrisy; with his people he would destroy this Castle to its very foundations if the presence of so beautiful a guardian goddess did not compel him to lay his club in homage at her feet; he concluded with the words--

"I swear it by every sacred god

To-day all wars for ever cease,

No more our blood shall soil the sod

For hence shall reign eternal peace.

When the gods clamour for foemen dead
Our goddess shall offer the olive instead."

Then followed another series of more stately pictures, and merry jests. Salomon had conceived the unhappy idea of appearing as Ariosto, introducing himself as the Italian Heinrich Heine, and in a mixture of verses, which were collected, partly from the Ottave rime of the poet of Reggio, partly from free thinking verses by the Parisian Aristophanes, and speaking of Herr von Blanden as Orlando, who had delivered Angelica, bound to the rock of the stage.

A tall girl, whose form was as redundant as those of the Genoese women, appeared as "Italia," a basket of fruit in her hands, a wreath of perfumed orange blossoms in her hair. It was Iduna; she had left Fräulein Baute's school, after having met with frequent insults from the mistress, and openly displayed contempt on the part of her Theodore Körner, Dr. Sperner. Her father owned a small estate in the neighbourhood, and thus she was invited to the entertainment.

Soon all revolved in merry dance. Blanden opened the ball with Giulia, and then stood thoughtfully for some time, leaning against a pillar of the radiated arch; he thought of the other dance beneath the pear tree, and the pale shadow of his lovely Eva mingled in the rows of the dancers. She had pledged him in the unalloyed bliss of youth; this woman brought the rapture of passion. But he felt that with her came a rent in his life. The gay company assembled, from which the most distinguished ladies of the neighbourhood were absent, the coldness of the members of his party in the capital, all proved to him that he had once more rendered it impossible to take a firm foothold in his home, and to attain a higher position in political life by any recognised influence; but it was only a transient heretical thought! There she stood before him in all her beauty, a fascinating woman! Her eyes gleamed with promise; dancing had brought a warmer colour to the marble of her features; her bosom heaved with sweet excitement, she appeared like a breathing statue of a goddess! A lamp shone in the pavilion! myrtles and oranges shed their perfume; the stars of Italy gazed sparklingly down from the deep blue sky! He encircled her firmly with his arms, and sped to a wild measure through the old hall. Giulia was in her brightest mood, she would and did forget everything that was painful and hostile in her life; she chatted more pleasantly than ever before, and had a friendly winning word for every one; a roguish smile played around her lips, as she said to Blanden--

"I cannot realise that I shall never more stand behind the piano; never more look down upon my worthy conductor's bald head when he wields his bâton, or into the manager's complacent countenance after a well-paying house; that Dr. Schöner will never more arrange a poetical nosegay for my vase; no Spiegeler cause me sleepless nights by the stings of his wasps and bees. But away with all laurel wreaths! Without, in the theatrical world, the echo of my name will not yet have quite died away, and when it is dead, it will no longer trouble the memory of the world to come, which will be inundated with many more."

Kuhl, the heathen, who had just performed a wild round dance with the orange-perfumed Italian, in which he had squeezed Iduna's hands with more fervour than the requirements of the dance demanded, now turned to Giulia and began a battle of words with her upon which she readily entered. Kuhl had only seen her as Blanden's nurse, when wounded, and spoken to her in a serious manner; her happy mood stirred him strangely, but was doubly attractive, and he could not leave her side while Blanden was enjoying a dance with Olga.

"Excuse me, Signora," suddenly said Cäcilie's somewhat sharp voice. "Look here, my friend! I only wish to tell you that there must now be an end of polytheism, and that you shall neither worship the slight Italian marble goddess nor plump Iduna with her apples of eternal youth, neither one of Raffael's nor Ruben's beauties. Look this way my friend! I am now your Alpha and Omega, as the Bible says. I have now a right to you, and shall know how to assert it."

Kuhl listened to the conjugal lecture; sadly he then took up his club, which had been propped against a pillar, and leaning upon it, pondered over the fate which even the most irrefutable theories find in life's irksome custom. He resigned himself to the melancholy conviction that he, the Hercules of free love, had, after all, allowed his Dejanira to charm him into a Nessus shirt.

Dancing and enjoyment lasted until late into the night, then the guests retired to their chambers. Blanden accompanied his betrothed to the carved oak door of her apartment, and left her with an ardent kiss and the whispered words, "Until to-morrow!"

Beate, who had danced bravely and made a slight conquest of a young lawyer, was so fatigued that she had thrown herself, half undressed, upon the bed in her room, which was situated behind Giulia's, and had fallen into a sound sleep.

Giulia was still in her sitting-room--she gazed into the moonlit park; high into the air the fountain cast its stream of silver, gently around the trees quivered that dreamy light which rocks the soul with vague forebodings.

Dance, wine, love had intoxicated her. Was not the world so beautiful, life so happy!

She longed to rejoice, like the ray of water springing up towards the skies!

She threw aside her ball dress, and in her light dressing-gown contemplated her reflection in the large mirror. She felt so lighthearted, so free--and was she not beautiful, youthfully beautiful? A heavy destiny had passed over her, but in its flight it only slightly touches the favourites of the gods. No creases, no wrinkles, she needed no paint-pot to conceal them, no weight of cares had been able to bow her tall form, and the consciousness of her own beauty thrilled her with delight.

Then she hastened to the cupboard, which was placed in a panel of the wall, opened it with a carefully secured key, and took out the jewel box which Blanden had given to her. First she let the splendid stones glisten in the lamp light, then flash in the moon's radiance, while she revelled in the sparkling lights and the prismatic rays which played to and fro.

Then she stepped before the large mirror, put the diadem of brilliants upon her curls, decked herself with the pearl necklace, with the bracelets, glistening with rubies and emeralds. She thought herself magnificent as a queen; thus, in her dazzling splendour, ornamented with the prince's crown, might not everything be permitted to her? Need a ruler fear his conscience, that sentinel of the garrison? Did she, in her power and beauty, not stand far above it?

They were proud dreams in which she indulged--blissful self-forgetfulness, the ruinous intoxication of dark spirits of the earth, which guard the treasures of the deep, and scatter that shining dust into the eyes of mankind that it may perceive nothing but the sparkling brilliance of mammon and soulless splendour. She walked up and down before the mirror, bent her head to see how the coronet of brilliants became her dark locks, turned to the right and to the left; but then the spirit of the stage came upon her, a vain spirit at first, and she repeated scenes from operas, raising her arms, now wringing her hands, then extending them as if cursing, all the time admiring the shining lights of her bracelets as they played about those beautifully rounded forms.

Then she stood again as still as sculptured marble and gazed at herself as though she were looking at a statue, standing in a niche of a Pantheon. Then, suddenly--it was no dream--the mirror began to move; it was pushed on one side by invisible hands: she commenced to tremble, to rub her eyes--her own reflection disappeared with the mirror like a ghost into the surface of the wall--and, instead, a space black as an abyss yawned before her--and a draped figure sprang into the room and threw off its cloak.

It was Baluzzi!

She started back with a loud cry.

"Traitoress!" cried he, "now you are worthy of me!"

Giulia staggered back a few paces, half unconscious, with one hand resting upon the back of the roccoco chair, she held the other tremblingly towards the intrusive ghost.

"Back, back!" she cried with a failing voice, that was almost stifled into a convulsive whisper.

"I believe, indeed, that you would refuse to see me, and that I am more hateful to you to-day than any other being whom the world contains. I come most inopportunely, I know, and that is why I come. And how beautifully you are adorned--for the galley!"

Giulia seized the diamond crown, the necklace and bracelet, all almost unconsciously, as if in a heavy dream, in which one seeks in blind haste to protect life, possessions and estate from unavoidable ruin; but her hand was paralysed, and the ornaments adhered to her.

"Beautifully adorned, and still beautiful!" cried Baluzzi, stepping nearer, "still as beautiful as once when you stood before the altar in the little church of San Giulio! Do not shrink from me--before others you are a bride elect, before others you may feign modesty, and wrap yourself in the bridal veil, not before me! I have an old and sacred right over you--your body, your soul belong to me, and to me alone; you cannot be separated from me so long as the indissoluble word of the Church exists upon earth, and I place my hand upon you as upon a runaway slave--Giulia Baluzzi, my wife!"

And he went up to her, held the struggling woman with a strong arm, and laid the other hand upon her marble shoulder that quivered as if in the grip of a tiger cat.

"Stand back, madman," whispered Giulia in a suppressed tone of alarm, "stand back, or I shall call for help."

"You will not do so, my child! You will not call for help, not even if I murder you with my dagger! You would prefer to drop mutely into my arms, and with expiring eyes to implore me--for silence, for forgetfulness! Is it not so? A cry for help!--what is a cry for help but a cry for shame, for disgrace, for law and executioner? I know you better, my little dove; so imprudent you are not; the friend of Beate, the cunning robber of a church, possesses too much sense and understanding."

"I shall call for help," said Giulia, with pride and defiance, now releasing herself from Baluzzi's arms. "And if I declare you before all the world to be a robber and a liar, all will deem your utterances to be madness, because the proofs are wanting."

"The proofs are ready."

"They were, perhaps; but they are no longer."

"Haha," said Baluzzi, with a mocking laugh, "you rely upon your astute messenger, upon Beate, who lays her devil's paw upon the altar candles and registers, at the ghostly hour of midnight lights a firebrand in a sacristy. A harmless amusement! Had it not been so harmless I should have prevented it, but it was great amusement for me to watch the lizard as it glided into the crevices in the church walls, and to carry on a game with it; unfortunately she swooned too soon. I should have liked to torture her still longer, have made her bones rattle, the good-for-nothing! You all possess courage only up to a certain point; the little witch, too, showed courage, but then, in a moment, it goes out like a candle that has burned down, that has consumed itself all too speedily."

"But the proofs are destroyed," said Giulia, although doubtfully and alarmed at Baluzzi's scorn, because she could not help fearing that by some means Beate's undertaking had failed.

"You are mistaken, my child. I do not allow the thread by which I hold you to be so easily withdrawn from my hands. I have my spies, and when I heard from Antoinette, my little scout, whither Beate intended to go, I knew enough. At first I accompanied her in the greatest possible incognito, then I gained a considerable start in order to obtain the necessary information. I was at the See at Milan. I knew that an enquiry into some forgery was pending against the former priest of San Giulio. I have staunch friends, even at the holy courts of law. A priest, with whom I worked formerly in Monaco, at my desire, enquired if amongst the deeds of the suit a copy of the registry of San Giulio did not exist; a legal official copy certified by the chaplain. I had reason to expect this because the suit concerned a falsification of the register. My supposition was well-founded--now I was safe, now I could play with that dangerous culprit who is your greatest friend, as a cat does with a mouse. All respect to you, we are quits. I awaited her arrival in Orta, dogged all her steps, and my knowledge of the church permitted me to hide myself in the little crypt. The fire of joy at midnight I vouchsafed to her with malicious pleasure, but our marriage, my child, is signed and sealed in the legal copy in the register number two, that lies at Milan, valid before God and man. It is a pity that the travelling expenses, and heroic courage were spent in vain, that the triumph was useless--I have the proofs!"

Giulia's courage fell with each of Baluzzi's words. She felt herself to be completely in his power, thus everything that she had done to free herself from him, even Beate's criminal proceeding, was all in vain. She looked at him with the glance of a mortally wounded deer.

"You do not believe my story? Here in my pocket-book is the most exact information as to where the document can be found which proves my perfect right to you. Now will you still cry for help?"

Silently Giulia covered her face with her hands.

"You are going to be sensible, my child; I thought so! That is why I come to you at night, it is very considerate of me, and on a toilsome road too. A wonderful child led me here--my rare little sea-devil, whom I have taken into my service. It is the road upon which you must now follow me!"

"What are you thinking of? Impossible!" said Giulia, springing up.

"The road is not very pleasant! Close beside the shore of the lake there is a cave--my blood-hound found it; it is overgrown with thistles and bushes, the little one worked with an axe and sickle all last night to clear the passage. One must stoop to pass through. It leads to the old tower, which, with its ivy-clad walls, casts its shadow below upon the moonlit shrubs in the park. It was the watch tower, the battle and sally-tower of the knights, and the hidden road ensures them flight in case of defeat. From the tower a secret walled passage leads into the Castle. It is covered with rubbish and ruins, and there are awkward steps to go up and down. But then a little masked winding-staircase in the wall leads up to this mirror door. My wonderfully clever seal discovered all this. It took us some time last night before we could find out the mechanism of this door. We knew that these rooms were destined for you. We tried a long time, but I am clever at such secrets, and beneath its external disguise found the spot where one must press so as to make the wooden panel move and slide back. The little one waits below with a dark lantern--the boat is tied up close to the egress of the hollow way. It will cost a few bruises and torn clothes, then we shall sail over the lake and away over the Russian frontier."

"You are out of your senses, Baluzzi!"

"Shall I remind you of our past, of our agreement? We were married secretly. You were a singer whose fame was waxing. I, an inferior chorus singer, who could do no better. I saw myself, that your prospects would be damaged if the world knew of our marriage. Soon I resigned the miserable position of an incapable helper's helper in the troupe of singers at the theatre, and I must confess it, gave myself up to a somewhat dissipated life. I drank and gambled. I became a croupier in Monaco, your fame was augmenting. Our paths led farther and farther asunder. All the same, I loved you fervently, but I perceived that your love diminished daily. You were ashamed of me. You began to avoid me, to fly from me. I required money, much money for my habits of life. They are as respectable and distinguished as those of a well-born prince who squanders his heritage. How often was I not in embarrassments enough to make one's hair stand on end, badly in debt. It was at that time we made an agreement that I should avoid you as long as you were at the theatre, but, that in return, the greater portion of your abundant gains should always be paid over to me. So long as you were at the theatre--that was the condition. Recollect it! No evasions! I am a man of my word, and I shall see that faith is kept with me also. Cospetto! In my hand I hold the power to compel you."

"I, too, kept my word," said Giulia, "and more than this, I have often starved that you might live luxuriously."

"For two years," said Baluzzi, "when you were here in Prussia during the summer I was left without news of you."

"Owing to your irregular life the letter to you must have been lost--an unfortunate chance which I do not lament over much."

"Then for two years I was in Russia, lost to you. I had business that made me acquainted with sables and ermines. I exonerate you from blame for that time, nevertheless you thus became my debtor. However, if you leave the stage, you cannot redeem yourself now, you no longer have your own independent earnings and possessions. Therefore, from henceforth, you belong to me! Thank the Madonna that I have come to hold you back from a crime--follow me!"

"Never!" said Giulia, folding her hands.

"Do you then think that my passion for you is extinguished? Even when far away it burned in my bosom with silent fervour, and this glow expands into bright flames since I have seen you once more, because you are the most beautiful woman whom I have met with upon my manifold journies in life, and I have seen women of every nation and of every class. It is a proud sensation that of possessing you, not secretly, no, before all the world to display you, and it is a delight to fold you in my arms."

Giulia hid her face as she drew back.

"Yet do not believe that it is the same old love, as beneath Italy's orange and myrtle trees when you were my Madonna, when my heart beat for you, when I looked up to you as to a queen of heaven floating amid a bright halo. And even then, when you parted from me as from one unworthy who might not follow in the ascending paths of your life, even in the desolate existence that I led, still I always looked up as one looks up at a heavenly orb through a crevice in a grotto. Then came those days of Lago Maggiore, I watched and saw how you were faithless to me, you bought yourself free from my anger, because then I was in a desperate position, but since that time my feelings have been completely metamorphosed. My Madonna was one no longer, and though she may not repent, I have vowed to myself to make her do so."

"Oh, to be fettered to crime, and in addition by sacred bonds--is there a more unhappy fate? Is despair not justified, even when it clutches convulsively at transient felicity? Well, I may belong to you, but you do not belong to me, never so long as my spirit can move its wings in liberty, can appreciate the beautiful, believe in what is noble."

Giulia had risen proudly, she had recovered herself, overcame her fear and terror, courage of death shone on her brow.

"Any one who saw you now--truly a vestal, whose fire, alas, had often gone out. It looks like gold and is brass, it gleams like silver and is tin. And this, on the day on which a crime shall be consecrated. The cocks have already crowed, midnight is past, your second wedding day will soon dawn, do not forget your first myrtles; its stars still shine, the second can only consist of nightshade and fox-glove, it breathes the poison of a lie. Corpo di bacco--such a saint--it makes one laugh!"

"I know, I feel that I am committing an impious act, I am defying law, I am deceiving the best of men, but I only deceive him out of endless love, and so utterly unworthy is that which is protected by law, that I dare all because I believe in the pardon of Heaven."

"You need not have this sin pardoned, it will not be committed."

"Hear me Baluzzi!"

"Hear me first! I have not yet told you all. Since those days by the lake, love died in my heart, passion remained, but it was a wild passion that wavered between love and hatred; expiation I had hoped for from you, but you cast flaming anger into my heart. You shall be mine, your kisses shall give me rapture, my pulses shall throb louder, when I hold you in my arms, but only like the pirate's pulses, who rejoices over the captured beauty. Never shall I forget that you injured and betrayed me beyond expression, that you are my slave, over whom I exercise my proud right of master, whether I torture and chastise, or whether I love her. What are your laurel wreaths to me? Dried up straw which I burn, because no more gold glitters on its leaves, but as in mockery of your renown, the queen of the stage shall preside at my gaming-tables beside other painted harridans, and shall decoy victims into my net--the trade will flourish! The remains of a great name will suffice for it, that little candle end can still shed some light. You shall obey me, tremble before me! That is the expiation, the penance for an overbearing and faithless wife!"

"And to such degradation shall I follow you, give myself up to such disappointment? Death rather!"

"There is a still better means, Signora! Seize your dagger, kill me, let me be killed as a robber and housebreaker, then you will be free, and with a light heart can greet the first ray of the morning sun; but I am on my guard, my glances do not leave you, do not leave that door behind which Beate sleeps. I know that she has a pocket pistol under her pillow, and a crime more or less does not matter to her, but I am prepared to meet her also."

And Baluzzi pulled out a pistol.

"Beate sleeps in the second room," said Giulia, "she does not hear us! We will not excite ourselves--one calm word! An unhappy fate has brought us together, it should never have happened. Our paths led far asunder, but the indissoluble bond remains; it is cruel to tie up my soul with it, it is indissoluble there, indissoluble also for me here, because I dare not venture forth with this life-long lie, without forfeiting my future happiness. But you would not be separated, although to do so lay in your power. I beg, I implore you, do not let your old right interfere in my life. I was always your friend, I will remain so, but upon my knees I implore you, grant me the bliss of this true love. I ask nothing but silence, do not make him miserable who hazarded his life for me. Is it then so great a sacrifice not to utter words which would plunge two people into calamity? Is it impossible to resign a dreamed-of possession, a right that is dead?"

"A dreamed-of possession?" shouted the Italian, "the real right will still find its protection in the world, and when I see you thus before me, in all the magic of your charms, I long to press you to my heart and to rejoice in my beautiful possession; my blood surges up within me, like the fire-spring of Salfatora. I am no Don Juan who breaks at night into the sanctuary of the house, I am no adulterer, no seducer; I am the husband, and that word is like a king's crown and sceptre, before which all the nation bows. The law would drive you into my arms with rods, if you refuse, because to me is given power over you."

"Away, do not touch me!"

"And if I do? I am safe from your cries for help!"

"That you are not," cried Giulia in supreme excitement, "not even if I must let my shame resound through the house with the alarm bell! Rather than rest in your arms, rather than follow you and obey that vile control which your right and will exercise, rather would I fall crushed upon my knees before every one, confess the incredible, pray for mercy, and then seek and find death. You know me! I dare do much, I dare do what is unheard of! With bold hand I will rob myself of my own happiness. He who dares that is prepared for all! Beside the summit there is an abyss and no other path--least of all no other path in common with you!"

Giulia's wild determination made an impression upon Baluzzi; he knew those convulsively closed lips, those knitted eyebrows, those rigid glances; he knew that at such moments she was capable of extremities.

What, then, was left to him? The sensation of gratified revenge, a mere shadow of recollection--but not the bliss of the rack, and what his passion, his avarice, might perhaps still expect of the future, would then be buried for evermore.

He stopped, and hesitated.

Then, as Giulia rose from her knees in haughty anger, the light of the lamp swept across her head-dress, so that the diamonds flashed and quivered, and a dream-like firework of precious stones seemed to scintillate upon her head.

The Italian was suddenly dazzled and enraptured with the ornament which he had, indeed, perceived immediately upon his entrance, but which he had not estimated at its full value.

His eyes wandered from the coronet to the strings of pearls, down to the bracelets; they passed on to the open jewel casket on the table whence a brilliancy betokening great promise shone in the dim light.

Giulia followed his gaze, his expression had entirely changed: the glow of passion, the madness of revenge had given place to mute greed, to avarice, that sought gratification, not from the animate, but the inanimate objects. As if spell-bound his glance hung upon the brilliants. A considerable pause ensued, Giulia imbibed new courage.

"You are not poor," said Baluzzi, suddenly, "is that your own?"

"My wedding present," replied Giulia.

"All this--and those precious stones, too? Show me the coronet!"

Giulia removed it. Baluzzi seized a candle which stood upon the table beside him and illuminated the glittering stones. He drank in their radiance as he slowly examined them. Then, as if making some calculation, moved his lips; every one of these stones became changed into a sparkling number, and dazzling as if in a Bengal light, a noble sum flashed before him.

"You see," said Giulia, who had grasped the sudden change equally quickly, "Blanden is liberal, and although I may earn nothing more myself, his gifts will render it possible for me, even, if not to the same extent as formerly, still to remember you."

"Do you think so?" said Baluzzi, as he looked at her with widely opened eyes.

"And although I have retired from the stage, I will save for you just the same, only do not demand impossibilities, take the circumstances into consideration; less than formerly can I only call my own, dispose of less, but, otherwise, things shall be as they were."

"Less? You are very modest! When did you ever have such beautiful ornaments before?"

"They are the Blandens' family jewels, they do not belong to me! They are only lent to me."

"Lent? You told me yourself that he had given them to you."

"For my life-time, perhaps! Such heirlooms revert to the family. I look upon them as a property entrusted to my keeping."

"Give me the ornaments," cried Baluzzi, taking hold quickly.

"Impossible," replied Giulia, paling. "They are my wedding jewels for tomorrow."

"Haha," laughed Baluzzi. "And you do not fear that these sparkling stones should scorch your hair, or change themselves into little snakes, such as play around the heads of the Furies? I have a great undertaking in prospect, besides, I have much money to pay in Russia. I offer you the choice: give me the diadem or I remain. I shall expose you before all the world, and assert my rights."

Giulia looked once more imploringly at him. Her eye dropped. She was weary of the endless torture.

"Cease! I beseech you, Baluzzi! What shall I say? How excuse myself?"

"Invent a robber. You are inventive enough. A lie, more or less, cannot matter to you, and this is not the worst," added he, scornfully.

"Oh, this torture, this humiliation! Am I not a cowardly woman? Where is my pride, where is my strength? Have you not appeared as one come to warn me, to call to me, 'So far, and no farther! Cease, cease from your reckless game!' And I have not courage to resign, standing before supreme happiness, not the courage of truth, not the courage to speak one single word, to avoid an act of infamous sacrilege! Unworthy struggling, and cheating! That is the greatest humiliation. In open confession, in the lowest abnegation, before universal repudiation, there would still be sublimity! A voice would cry to me, 'You have done rightly,' and above my head I should hear the fluttering of the wings of my life's good genii who have long since forsaken me."

She seemed to be speaking to herself! Eagerly Baluzzi awaited the decisive result of this monologue, at the same time with his eyes devouring the diamonds in Giulia's hand.

"I cannot," cried she suddenly, striking her brow with her clenched hand. "I am too weak, too powerless! Duty's command appears like a horrible spectre that gives me up to boundless misery, while under the spell of criminal silence an ardently longed-for happiness beckons to me. Pity, pity!"

She cried to Heaven for it with clasped hands; Baluzzi answered, as though she had spoken to him.

"None of that! The diamonds! It is my last word!"

"And the price--your everlasting silence!"

"Everlasting? Oh, no! That would be a bad bargain! But, by my honour, for a year, if I live so long, I will not remind you. I will be silent."

"A very sword above my head! And yet a year's felicity! How much happiness does not even a moment contain! Who can destroy what once was ours? And what once it has bought from hell can never be reclaimed! And yet--how my heart will beat at every step, at every rustle or rattle of the leaves. No, no, everlasting silence--and the jewels are yours."

"A year--give them, give them, senseless woman!"

He grasped the diamond circle and wrenched it from Giulia's hands after a short indifferent resistance.

"Then farewell, complete your crime! A year--but pray for my life! For I have sworn before I die to be revenged upon you! I leave no other will, save my curse, which shall be upon you."

With these words, and still holding the sparkling ornament high in the air, he disappeared behind the mirror-door, which he pushed back again into the framework of the wall.

Giulia sank upon a seat. She extinguished the lamp and candles. Sleepless, dreamless, she gazed fixedly through the windows into the night. The moon had set. The grey dawn did her good. Everything faded into uncertainty. A cradle song passed through her mind! How terrible the rising day which gave distinct form again to everything which erected the implacable barriers of life!

And on it came with its increasing light, and tinged the tops of the trees. When Beate entered Giulia was still sitting motionlessly in her evening robe in the easy chair.

On descending the winding staircase Baluzzi found Kätchen sitting upon the first steps of the subterranean passage beside the dark lantern.

Impatient she had certainly become, and had even crept up the stairs. She had listened, but understood nothing, for Baluzzi and Giulia spoke in Italian.

In her hand she held something that fluttered and flapped strangely. It was a bat which had whirled around her lantern, and threatened to entangle itself in her hair. When she perceived Baluzzi she started up.

"Well, and she?"

"She will remain this time," said the Italian. "She has bought herself off."

He showed the magnificent diamonds, but they made no impression upon the girl.

"Bought herself off?" said she, as she raised the lantern, let the bat fly away, and stared at Baluzzi in idiotic amazement.

She scrambled down a few steps through the rubbish in the subterranean passage.

Then Kätchen stopped suddenly.

"And the marriage will still take place to-morrow?"

"Yes, yes!"

"Most wonderful!"

"Is she not your wife?"

"So the legend says, my child!"

On they clambered over the rubbish. Bats whirred round the lantern.

"To-morrow I must go to the district town," said Baluzzi.

"Leave me here, to-morrow. I will dance in the barn with the peasants at the wedding."

The Italian gave his consent.

They rested themselves in the old watch tower, before commencing the still more toilsome path through the narrow passage to the shore of the lake.

"And you could not, would not prevent it. I thought we should drag her with us, perhaps, still in her beautiful clothes, in her satin shoes over the sharp stones, so that the blood would flow over her delicate little feet! Why, you said you would torture her, bind her firmly if she resisted, oh, I had bandages ready that she could not have torn. We should have stowed her away in the boat like a little mass of misery and had she become unruly, I might have struck her with a dripping oar. You said this, and what have you done? Nothing--she will be happy, the proud creature--and he, he!"

"Come before dawn breaks," said Baluzzi, urging her to start.

"I must think it over," Kätchen muttered to herself.

A gust of wind sweeping through the loopholes of the Dantziger, extinguished the lantern.

"Follow me," said Kätchen, "I have cat's eyes, and can see in the dark. Here is the passage to the shore. Stoop, you know it is low, but we can feel and grope our way through."

"Horrible darkness, corpo di bacco," muttered Baluzzi, while he measured the height of the grotto passage with one hand.

"To-morrow it will be brighter here," Kätchen hummed, "but come on, thorns and thistles will not sting you now. I have beheaded and cut them down, I understand how to clear things away, away with the weeds!"



Brightly dawned the day, but the morning sun disappeared early beneath the glowing clouds, with which the whole sky was soon overcast.

A cold, feeble rain pattered down; a few wedding guests ventured into the park, but the chilly disagreeable weather soon drove them back. Blanden was busied with arrangements in the Castle; this time his master of the kitchen and cellar had not been granted leave of absence; he had to show the wonders of the Castle to Olga, his stately mistress. Dr. Kuhl was only allowed to devote himself to the nymphs of the lake. Cäcilie looked strictly after him, lest he wished to lay his homage at the feet of the Castle fairies. There were the most charming little town girls present, whom such a Don Juan by profession could wind up like a watch, so that their hearts ticked in a race with the throbs of his. Iduna, the late head scholar, was there, a fresh child of Nature with developed appreciation of manly beauty. Her first love had been an unhappy one, but with that elixir within her, she saw a Doctor Sperner in every man. She had cast an eye upon Kuhl, and was little gratified that Salomon became her cicerone, exhibiting all the apartments of the Castle full of historical associations.

"In this dining-hall, my Fräulein, certainly no one ever danced before, but you must not think that everything was conducted in a very holy manner. Yes, at the time of Winrich of Kniprode, these gentlemen had to be called to order. There were Grand Masters at the Marienburg, whose glance extended to the remotest corners of the land. But later ensued a period of decay. They certainly still sometimes fought bravely, it was their trade, and it was immaterial to them whether they held a prayer-book or a sword in their hands--they understood their letters very well, and scratched whole alphabets into their enemies' faces. I assume that this Castle has also often been besieged by the Poles--from the Dantziger there the knights no doubt have triumphantly repelled the attack of the others; courage upon the whole, my Fräulein, is a very ordinary virtue practised partly at the word of command, partly under compulsion. I do not think much of it. All the world is brave, even the oxen in the meadows, which stand before their enemies and rush at one another with their horns."

"But I should think," said Iduna, before whose mind stood Theodor Körner's picture in all its glory, "it is one of the noblest virtues, the fruit of glorious enthusiasm," and she added a few passages, which she had retained in her memory from her most successful theme upon the Lieutenant of Hussars.

"Enthusiasm is all very fine," said Salomon, "but who has time for it before a battle! Men must clean their weapons, count their cartridges, eat a morsel of commissariat bread. I speak of to-day, because the Knights of the Order did not know that nutritious food, and when once the troops start, they must listen exactly to the commander's order, march, halt, load, fire! Enthusiasm--it is only to be found amongst warlike poets. In battle people are as excited as in a boxing match; they hit out on all sides, they know it is a matter of life or death, they may lose their collars, they see nothing, think nothing, only try to save their own skins. There is nothing more stupid than a soldier in a battle."

"You describe it so vividly," said Iduna, "that one might believe you had been present yourself."

"Not at a battle, but often at a fight. Besides, where is there any battle now? We live in everlasting peace. No, no my Fräulein! I have merely cast a few glances into the human mind, and if one will discover the truth, one must always assume the contrary of that which poetry asserts. Poetry is merely a beautiful falsehood. But, as I said, the brethren of the Order might be brave even at the time of their decay, but they led a merry life; I wager that they drank as bravely in this dining-hall, as at any drinking party of Lithuanians or Masurens, and that the gaily painted Madonna, with her radiant colours in the window panes, was not the only representative of womanhood, but that also many a high born knight's young lady--"

"No, never, Herr Salomon," said Iduna, promptly.

The youth was about to spare the maiden's blushes by passing suddenly to the event of the day, when the other ladies and girls declared that it was time to dress, and Iduna was not sorry to leave the highly educated student, who shed the radiance of enlightened human understanding into every corner, in which any illusion still lingered fondly. He knew that few, like himself, stood upon the height of nineteenth century reason.

Beate would not be debarred from dressing her friend for the ceremony. She looked beautiful in her veil and white satin robe, but was ghastly pale. Beate advised her to have recourse to artificial aid, but Giulia very decidedly rejected every reminiscence of her past.

There she appeared, really like a marble bride; on beholding her, Kuhl remembered how he had once called her so, when Blanden told him of his adventures on the Lago Maggiore. At first sight her beauty gave an impression of pride and coldness, but any one looking more closely recognised the softening influence of internal suffering which overshadowed her features.

They were a handsome pair; there was no dissentient voice in the unenvious assembly. Blanden had quite recovered from his duel, he looked noble and grand, the dreaminess in his features possessed a charm of its own, such gentleness, such benignity lay in it, and when he opened his eyes widely they told of superior intellectual spirit.

All the ladies appeared in brilliant toilets; both the brides elect, Cäcilie and Olga, with Beate, were the bridesmaids. The unheard of event that Dr. Kuhl had donned a frockcoat, betokened that Cäcilie had already made progress in taming the rebel. As for him, he contemplated himself in the pier-glasses, shrugging his shoulders and saying to Wegen he felt like a bear at a fair, whom the bear-leader had dressed up in a red jacket; however, he must perform his antics and dance to the drum. And so saying, he stretched about and strained his Herculean arms in the unwontedly fine material.

The procession was arranged and moved through the dining-hall into the festively decorated and flower bedecked chapel. There, behind the altar, upon which Giulia had once placed an enchanted souvenir, stood the minister. She thought of the two Italian island churches, of the one in which she had stood before the altar as to-day; in the other where she had confessed to a forbidden love, and before the sacred word and sacred act she was overcome with a full consciousness of her sinful temerity.

As in a vision, her whole life passed before her, she did not listen to the words of the Bible. The "Yes" in the church of San Giulio rang in her ears--the echo of the chapel seemed to strengthen it--at first it sounded like the crash of scorn, and still louder, more grave, more solemn, the thunder of the judgment day--her knees tottered. Everything was bathed in dreamy light--she was herself, and yet was not--she was there and here.

Did not the lake of Orta roar outside?

No, it was the storm which had risen, sweeping through the tops of the pines, and stirring up the waves of the northern water mirror.

Fancy often erects a bridge of dreams from one summit of life to another, and deep below in oblivion lie all its other paths.

Giulia was absorbed in a vision, in a self-delusion; the pictures of the past and present became mixed up, but the confusion was agonising; her hand trembled in Blanden's.

Then the rings were exchanged, Giulia looked into his luminous eyes, he bent over her with an expression of most ardent love. The shadows disappeared, she felt the full consciousness of the bliss of the present, and in a voice not trembling with anguish of conscience, but with all the warmth of intense devotion, she spoke the word of consent.

When Blanden led her to dinner he asked about the diadem; he had hoped that she would adorn herself with it on that day--when again should so good an opportunity be offered of letting the proud family heritage of the Blandens' shine in all its glory? And when it shone above the flowing bridal veil, the sanction of the family, the blessing of the long row of female ancestors, of that house would at the same time rest upon the brow of her who entered that line: she was received into the sanctuary of the noble women who for centuries had held their sway over this home. Giulia blushed deeply, and with deceitful words pleaded modesty and humility as her excuse, but Blanden felt that he was rebuffed, painfully disappointed that she had scorned to adorn herself with his costly gift; it was like a note of discord in the harmony of the entertainment, and he could not suppress a sensation of anxious misgiving.

The grand wedding dinner passed off very cheerfully. Giulia possessed the lightheadedness of an actress; in glad emotions she forgot everything which at other times might depress her, she imbibed forgetfulness and courage with the sparkling froth of the champagne. Then, when her countenance brightened, a slight colour suffused it as she smiled and joked, and gave herself up to a genial actress' mood, which owes its birth to a rich treasury of recollections; then only her beauty, which until now had but inspired cold admiration, warmed all hearts, and Blanden was deemed fortunate to have won so beautiful a wife.

There was no lack of toasts and verses. Schöner made use of a few ideas which he had once mustered in Neukuhren at Eva's betrothal. A true poet always goes economically to work, because when once he has stamped an idea with the immortal impress of his genius, it must not be lost again, and it would be most blameworthy even to make a feeble copy. Salomon retired to the domain of satire, he compared the new Knights of St. John with those of the old Order, and ridiculed the celibacy of the latter in verses imitative of Heine.

Dr. Kuhl, it is true, proposed no toasts, but he was in a wild mood, which inspired his betrothed with some slight alarm, he spoke of his gallows-wit, and said he had courage to mention the rope, even in the house of a man who had been hanged; he was enjoying himself immensely at the wedding, but this fact did not upset his theories that marriage festivities were a public nuisance; however, as he had at last lost all his characteristics and fallen a victim to his own good nature, and another person's amiability, well, he could not help it; he, too, must let himself be married, but he should only permit two witnesses, selected from the midst of the sovereign people, to be present, who afterwards would disappear in the night of that plebeian universality where all cows are black; his marriage dinner he and Cäcilie should eat alone, or at the utmost invite his Caro who, on that day, should receive a specially good dish of meat and bones. Well, he had somehow got into the good-for-nothing frock-coat, and he only wished that all the seams would burst. The whole life of perishing humanity consisted in most abject concessions; he, too, now moved on that degrading course, and had already fallen far from that height upon which he had formerly stood in proud self-glorification, and he looked upon himself as an apostate, and with his better self, which still occasionally rose from out the slough, he looked upon his present self, planted up to its neck in a bog of social prejudices, with an indescribable feeling of pity and contempt.

"Thank God," said Wegen to Olga, "that you have not fallen into the hands of this wicked hector, who seems to look upon his engagement as an act of suicide. How differently I appreciate you."

Smiling meaningly, Olga pressed her lover's hand, but Kuhl had overheard the last words.

"Dear friend and brother-in-law," said he, "I herewith pronounce you to be the greatest hypocrite at this round table. The theory of common love, for which the century is not yet ripe, permits many variations--and one of these variations you have performed, and all the world performs them with us. Enter upon an engagement to-day, give it up soon, and a week or so later fall in love and engage yourself again, and you are one of the most moral citizens in the world, and no one will assail your good name. But, if only you feel that affection a week sooner, before the old one is given up, then you are a Don Juan. Everything then depends upon time, just as in hiring anything, a week constitutes the whole difference between virtue and vice. Well, if we have not sinned, dear brother-in-law in spe, at least we have nothing with which to reproach ourselves! I have loved two sisters, but so have you also--your good health, my friend!"

Wegen coloured at this address, which, to him, appeared intensely heartless. Olga laughed, but Cäcilie had long since compressed her lips and prepared herself for an armed reprimand.

The clergyman opposite, an enlightened man, had listened to Kuhl's defiant speech with a smiling countenance. He quietly took part in the conversation.

"The affections of the human heart are very peculiar, and who, indeed, excepting the Lord, who searches heart and mind, can say that he has fathomed that organ? Such affection may be transient or deep, yet it seems to me that it, too, is subject to mutability and change. But this free-booter's love must cease at that point where human society rises unanimously, striving to attain its grandest ends. We will grant dual love to Herr Dr. Kuhl. Let every one manage it as best he can. I know, indeed, that the heart, like the ocean, can have but one ebb and flow, and that this tide is only produced by the mysterious attraction of one orb, not merely in regular course--as is the case with the ocean tide--but also in wild passionate upheavings, as in that of the glowing liquid emotion of the earth, the earthquake, which clever men also ascribe to the influence of the moon's powers of attraction; but although dual love may be a whim of the heart, bigamy is very different."

Although Blanden was talking to her at the moment, Giulia became attentive, and listened eagerly to the words of her other neighbour.

"Bigamy," said the clergyman, "is a mockery of the ordinances which Church and State have laid down for the support of society, and the purity and security of families; hence the severe punishment which has always been decreed to that crime. It may appear too severe to those who are free spirits to such an extent, as also in this case only to perceive the maintenance of immaterial forms, but whosoever tries to shake them tries to shake the bases of society."

Giulia's heart beat more quickly. The cheering influence of the champagne had lost its power, gloomy clouds overspread her brow.

"We have," said the clergyman, "only lately had such a case in our village. A depraved woman, who came from the other side of the Polish frontier, had a legal husband there; here, however, she commenced a fresh love affair, and was married again. The matter came to light, and the woman who had taken the payment of the double marriage expenses very lightly, was sentenced to several years' imprisonment."

Giulia became pale, the champagne glass fell from her hand, and was dashed to pieces on the table.

Blanden was startled. He had not listened to the clergyman's discourse, having been talking very animatedly himself to Giulia, but what he said to her was pleasant, bright and cheerful--what had come to her?

"I was abstracted, and awkward; forgive me!" said she, in an unsteady voice.

"It is possible," Dr. Kuhl's powerful voice sounded across the table, "that by bigamy people may wish to live in clover, but that does not prevent a man wasting his substance in dual love."

Blanden now noticed the subject under discussion. He became depressed and thoughtful, and did not know why. What could have agitated Giulia so much? Was her heart not quite free?

They rose from the table in good spirits. Evening was already closing in.

On that day, too, Blanden showed his usual care for the amusement of his dependents by going into the great barn at the farm, where the floor had been swept and garnished for a dance.

The village band had already commenced its noisy tum-tum, beer flowed from the mighty barrels which Olkewicz had sent there.

Red lamps illumined the place with a festive light. The couples whirled round in merry dance. A joyous hurrah greeted the master, who immediately led his young wife amongst the groups of glad people. She was obliged to open a dance with Olkewicz, and never in his life did the worthy steward experience greater pride than when footing it with the princess out of the fairy lake, the vision of a former occasion, in a place where he usually commanded the united threshing flails of the village.

But Giulia had to dance with the young people also. There were Poles from beyond the frontiers; one a fine lad, in a laced jacket, knelt down before Giulia, after the dance, and begged her to allow him to take off her shoe, according to Polish custom, so as to drink her health. Resistance was in vain, and the princess of Lago Maggiore had as little cause as Cinderella to conceal her shoe and feet from the world. The lad filled the slipper with brandy, and gave one lusty cheer for the lady of the manor, while vowing himself to her service for evermore. The fiddlers struck up a furious tune, with them the two horns in the village band, and the night-watchman's horn, too-tooed joyously. Great was the gladness of the people, and Giulia moved like a strange fairy indeed amongst the women and girls of the village, mostly lacking any beauty. The master himself went about from one to another, talked to the tenants, shook hands pleasantly with those peasants, who, according to old privileges, farmed their own acres, here and there caught a better-looking maiden under her chin, and said a kindly word to her.

Then, suddenly, from behind a pear tree, as if out of a hiding place, two glaring eyes stared at him; they were Kätchen's.

In his pleasantly excited mood he hardly remembered their last weird meeting.

"What in the world brings you here?" asked he.

She did not answer for some time.

"Have you become dumb again?"

Now Kätchen wriggled out from behind the wooden monster, and stood on the bench beside it. She pointed to Giulia with outstretched arms, and said, "Must I take part in your wedding after all? Marriage on land and sea! Hurrah!"

And, like a mad woman, she jumped down, mingled alone in the confusion of the dancers with wild gnome-like bounds, until a little crooked fellow, who could find no partner, took pity on her and twirled her round in the ring.

Then Kätchen disappeared into the night outside; meanwhile the other ladies and gentlemen had also descended to watch the people's enjoyment. One after another Kuhl selected a conspicuously good-looking or ugly partner and bore her in breathless fury over the threshing floor, so that the fleetest youths were obliged to acknowledge his superiority in the wild dance. The heated fair did not know what happened to them, and marvelled how a townsman, who had never threshed, could have such powerful arms. After this furious round dance Kuhl ascended a tub, imposed silence, and made an impromptu speech to these worthy Masurens, which was frequently interrupted by loud cheers.

The park was illuminated in a dazzlingly brilliant effulgence. Blanden led Giulia on his arm, and the other guests followed along the paths. The flames displayed letters upon the velvet sward; here was read, in quivering, glowing characters, "Lago Maggiore," there the name "Giulia." The Chinese pavilion on the island in the lake, and the bridge leading to it shone in the gayest reflection of lights. In the hot-houses a splendid group of southern plants, laurels, and myrtles, under the feathery shelter of a pine, gleamed in the radiance of coloured lamps, but most beautiful of all was a red fir outside, decked with ribbons and flags, and when the guests came up to it they were magically illuminated with a flaming red light. Giulia squeezed Blanden's hand.

The sky had become clear, and when gorgeous fireworks were let off upon the lake the rockets ascended to the stars, and the bude lights and Catherine wheels crackled above the moonlit waves.

Then the party assembled again in the dining-hall, but the bridal couple retired from the scene. Dancing and cards were still kept up for long. Wegen arranged everything admirably. Kuhl was in an excellent humour, and only by degrees one member after another left the happy circle and sought repose. Silence reigned in the old Castle, only the flag upon the tower fluttered in the night wind that had risen from the lake, and lashed the waves higher and higher; still could be heard glad sounds of the drinkers and dancers from the threshing barn of the farm.

A quiet ray of light fell from Giulia's windows, intercepted by the large fir as it bent its heavy hanging boughs watchfully over them.

All the lights were extinguished in the park. Only between the gaps in the walled-passage between the Dantziger and the Castle a stray one seemed to quiver.

Not out of the deep-blue atmosphere of Italy did the stars look down upon this night; from a paler sky shone a paler light! Not the glorious Lago, with its enchanted isles and boundary Alps, rocked all into sweet dreams--it was a sober tide which here surged upon the strand; a tide, whose waves have nothing to tell, whose monotonous play only reflect the infinite wearisomeness of a lifeless landscape.

And yet--it was she herself, in all her beauty, the princess of those days, and it matters not out of what sea Venus rises, she brings Heaven with her all the same.

But the happiness that once the red fir looked down upon, over which the pine spread its loving fans, was ephemeral, grasped from the moment, forfeited to the moment. How different Blanden felt; was happiness secured in his own home, under the protection of his old household gods? thither he had transplanted the roguish smiling wanderer, where, although deprived of its fluttering wings, it found an abiding place by the family hearth without losing its enchanting smile.

Thus he thought and felt; he did not inhale momentary intoxication from Giulia's lips, but the inauguration of a whole life. She, on the contrary, rejected every thought of the past, of the future. With intentional obliviousness she gave herself up to the present.

What sacrifice had she made, what sacrilege committed to be once more with him, whom alone she loved. She contemplated his noble gentle features with speechless happiness, in his great, widely-opened eyes she read the same passion which animated her, only with fleeting thoughts that swept through her mind as flashes of lightning illumine a weird gloomy spot, dared she think of anything beyond.

She closed her eyes, she did not venture to look at the mirror. If it were to move again; if Baluzzi were to step forth, her bridal coronet in his hand; if Blanden learned the truth, thrust her from him as a deceiver; if a curse were hurled upon her from the bosom that still often breathed uneasily in consequence of the wound which he had received for her sake--it was impossible to complete the thought. She covered her face with her hands. Outside the needles of the fir crackled in the wind, and swept the window. She sank into a light state of semi-somnolence, and she heard the branches crack still more loudly--what a violent storm! It was as though it drove dust and wind into her eyes, and deprived her of breath. With that volition, which does not quite disappear in sleep, she raised herself slowly, and simultaneously Blanden started up.

What had happened? Were they dreaming? But those were no mists and clouds of dreamland, it was smoke and fire that surrounded them. They sprang up and rushed to the window! At the same moment the giant fir outside caught fire. The flames blazed and hissed as they rose, and upon its wide arms the tree bore the fire across to the other side of the Castle roof, away over the apartments in which were the wedded pair.

Giulia's terrified cry for help pierced the night. Blanden remembered the stairs and the secret passage. He pushed the mirror-door aside, but an ocean of flame met his gaze; hence came the fire. He rushed to the other side, drawing Giulia after him by her arm with all his might. The first room, also the second, in which Beate had slept on the previous night, were still free, the flames had passed over them, but farther on again the branches of the fir had shaken down the sparks. The staircase could not be reached, door and wainscot stood in a blaze. "Lost!" cried Giulia, sinking down with a loud cry.

Blanden shouted once more from the window. In mortal fear he listened for any token of life outside.

Where were the watchmen? Doubtlessly at the dance in the barn.

At last--a sound of voices--they came nearer--it was high time! but how escape?

"Ladders, ladders here!" rang a mighty cry without, it filled Blanden's bosom with renewed confidence; it was Kuhl's voice.

The crowd seemed to rush helplessly in noisy confusion through the park. Olkewicz called for the fire engines.

"Where are the ladders?" roared Kuhl.

Blanden's position became more imminent every moment, the flames already darted through the clattering mirror door, caught the curtains, and the canopy of the bed rattled down over the broken posts.

A moment more--and the flames, which sent a stifling vapour in advance, had overtaken the other chambers, wherein Blanden supported the unconscious Giulia in his arms. With a fearful effort, he dragged her to the window to breathe fresh air, for her strength was beginning to fail.

Outside powerless lamentations and cries for help, futile swearing and cursing by the steward.

But no! The ladder of salvation was brought and placed against the window.

In the midst of the sparks which the burning roof showered upon them, beneath a down-pour of bricks and stones that rattled to the ground with the rapidity of fire itself, Dr. Kuhl sprang up the ladder, received Giulia into his strong arms, and bore her down again as easily, firmly, and unfalteringly as if he were walking down a marble staircase.

Blanden, whose hair was already singed, followed their preserver.

A thundering cry of joy greeted him.

All had become animated in the other wing of the Castle, which the guests occupied, and who had hastened down, the ladies in cloaks which they had thrown hastily over their night robes.

The first fire engine arrived, conducted by Wegen on horseback. The fiery red of the sky must have aroused the neighbouring villages, whither eager messengers had been despatched.

With deep emotion, Blanden gazed upon the increasing blaze, which threatened to reduce the old inheritance of his family to ashes; already the forked tongues of the flames lashed the tower, they boded ill for the dining-hall and chapel. All exertions were now directed to save the centre of the Castle, the actual Ordensburg.

Certainly the fire could effect nothing upon those mighty walls, but as the flames swept in wild haste over the roofs, the falling, burning rafters from above might ignite the doors and panels of the beautiful, well-preserved Castle apartments of the oldest portion.

Meanwhile engine after engine arrived, the whole district was alarmed, the Castle tower of Kulmitten shone like a flaming beacon, but still more did love for the noble master speed the help that was hurrying to his home. Some of the engines were stationed on the other side of the Castle, some in the park meadows, executing their work of preservation with unflagging labour.

Blanden was first here then there; Giulia had recovered, she stared senselessly into the flames. Had the flash of a tempest set the Castle on fire she would have been convinced that heaven's judgment had fallen upon her sin; that it would proclaim with burning tongues that which she concealed so anxiously, yet although she did not know the cause of the evil, she held the fire to be in some dark connection with her own fate, and sometimes, with a shudder, the thought passed through her mind that Baluzzi might be its author.

Despite all efforts of the numerous engines, and the helpful interference of the throng, the splendid dining-hall could not be saved. The flames had penetrated beyond the door, and consumed all inflammable-material which the room contained. Still more was Giulia terrified when the image of the Madonna and child fell half shattered from the niche in the main wall; she was the old patron saint of this Castle, did she flee from the sacrilege which had entered? Cautiously and courageously Blanden, Kuhl and Wegen led the party of firemen, but only towards morning did they become masters of the fire. The chapel was saved, and the burning tower, after it had done its duty as beacon, was extinguished.

The new building, the other wing, remained entirely uninjured.

Now, when only timid flames and clouds of smoke arose from the burning place, when the streams of water hissed more faintly over the smoking ruins, and the first rays of dawn gleamed in the east, Blanden and his friends gained time for calm reflection, which the ceaseless zeal of vigorous action had hitherto not permitted.

First the lord of the Castle mustered all its inhabitants, no one was missing; weeping Beate must be comforted, she had lost all her beautiful clothes, which had been left in the bedroom the day before. Blanden promised compensation. But then the eager question arose as to how the fire had originated? It had evidently broken out in that extreme wing, which was connected with the front tower by the subterranean passage, whence the secret stairs led upwards, but that was the very spot whither usually no human being penetrated. Who could have come there on that day? The subterranean passage had fallen in, the secret approach from the lake to the front tower was overgrown. Blanden knew that for many years, yes, all his life time, the medieval romantic nature of that spot had remained undisturbed.

With a throbbing heart, Giulia listened to these discussions. One knew that dark path, and had already traversed it. Verily he had deceived her, concealed his shameful intentions, too soon already completed the work of his promised revenge. It was Baluzzi, but where had he remained? Was he still tarrying in the vicinity? What disclosures menaced her? Not enough that he had laid the Castle, her new home, in dust and ruins, he would now direct the deadly arrow against herself.

She had relied upon his word, upon the word of a malicious bravo.

In order entirely to extinguish the glowing cinders, the water streams were now all directed upon the spot where the fire had broken out; a few bold men, Kuhl at their head, ventured wherever a sudden flame could still dart out.

Giulia felt a vague dread of the researches, and yet nothing could be found there save dust and ashes.

Suddenly Kuhl's cry was heard by the expectant crowd.

"A corpse!"

The cry, repeated more loudly, passed on to the very last person, all rushed nearer, in eager expectation.

"Baluzzi!" cried Giulia to herself, becoming pale, at that moment only a sensation of horror seized her. A half-charred, half-shattered corpse was carried towards them; the fact of its lying beneath the fallen rubbish of stones had preserved it from being completely burned. The half-consumed rags of garments showed that it was the corpse of a woman--of a girl.

Blanden went closer; suddenly an idea flashed through him, all that could still be recognised as the remains of a human being confirmed his supposition. The incendiary was discovered, it could be none other than half-witted Kätchen.

"It is the idiot girl who danced with deformed Pietrowicz yesterday!"

Pietrowicz came nearer and stared at the remains of his partner.

"A death-dance Pietrowicz! You never anticipated that! But from henceforth do not dream of ghosts!"

Pietrowicz stepped back as if struck, and crossed himself.

"To set fire to places," added Blanden by way of explanation, "is a mania of such half-witted beings."

But he told himself that this girl was not more mentally deranged than all who are animated with a blind, senseless passion; that she since that visit to her attic chamber, since he had rejected her insane offers of love, had brooded upon revenge against him, and had executed it on his wedding day. The mixture of love and hatred, he knew was not only peculiar to those whose minds are disordered, but in all moody, narrow ones it works like an accumulated combustible, which at the first shock explodes, scattering all into ruins.

"I might be superstitious," thought he to himself, "she always brings evil and ruin to that which I love."

"Giulia," then he cried suddenly, "where are you, my sweet wife? You live, then is all well!"

And he clasped her in his arms, while the morning sun rose glowingly red on the horizon above the smoking Castle ruins, the closely thronging crowd, and the corpse of halfwitted Kätchen, the water nymph, who had died in the fire.



The sight of the ruins, constantly before the eyes of the newly-married couple, must have given a bitter flavour to their honeymoon.

And yet, Blanden was happier than he had ever been, in the possession, which he believed to be ensured, of a beloved wife. He gazed upon the Castle ruins, upon the ruins of his past, but in his Giulia's smile he saw the promise of an abiding, beautiful future.

The Ordensburg, the dining-hall, the Madonna's image, all should rise anew in the old form out of the rubbish. To attain this Blanden had sent for architects, who were well-known artists, to Kulmitten, so as to restore the building in accordance with the old foundations. Giulia took warm interest in all these plans, and often looked over Blanden's shoulder at the sketches of elevations over which he pored. Of course no art could compensate for the value of its historical age and associations, with the dining-hall the poetry of the olden days was destroyed, the new creation could but become a clever imitation. Several friends, especially Wegen and Olga, too, sometimes came to visit them, but the intercourse was not very lively, and Blanden wished to live alone with his love, and the object of that love. Often they sailed upon the lake or walked alone in the woods, upon the oak tree dykes, past the ponds filled with tall reeds; in that solitude which reminded her of primeval forests, Giulia forgot the world, the spell of her doom, the secret menaces of fate; and when Blanden's fowling piece brought down the water-fowl, and the broad belt of the fir forest sent back the echoes of the shot, Giulia felt as glad and as free as if she were living with a settler in the back woods, and as though prairie fires blazed between her and human society.

Owing to the fire and its mysterious cause, Kulmitten had fallen into still worse repute amongst the proprietors and their wives in the neighbourhood.

"There, we have it," said Frau Baronin Fuchs, to her husband, "gorgeous fireworks for their wedding! It is lucky that the dead cannot speak; that poor burned child who was drawn out of the flames, and probably set the place on fire, doubtlessly omitted to protest, in time, against the banns, and thus, in her fashion, made up for it on the wedding day. Of course she was a forsaken lover! The one loses her life in water the other in fire! Who knows which elements, those who remain may select, for naturally they have not come to an end yet. There was so much love-making in that community that it would be a school for a whole life-time!"

But not only to her husband, everywhere on the neighbouring estates, wherever her dapple-greys carried the clear-sighted Frau Baronin of firm morals, she uttered, with triumphant eloquence, her unpleasing belief in the just punishment that had befallen this knight of the rueful countenance. Outlaw and excommunication rested once again upon the master of those estates, and many crossed themselves when they spoke of the fire at Kulmitten Castle, of the ruins of the old nest of the Order, as the happy possessors of brand-new knightly castles contemptuously termed it, and of the Signora, who, out of the depths of the theatre, had risen to such a height, and whose family in the Apennines probably drove mules, or were even related to Fra Diavolo and other bandits of noble descent.

One day a young married couple were announced, Dr. Sperner and his wife. The principals of the school from the provincial capital, were making a tour of visits to the parents of their pupils, and hoping thus to obtain new ones. Dr. Sperner's moustache was a sign-board that did its duty. He still possessed the key to the mothers' hearts although it was now discreetly hidden by him in the key-basket of conjugal bliss. Lori had married soon after Blanden, whose conquest she had certainly only contemplated in daring dreams, was irretrievably lost. On that evening, in the theatre, on which the Doctor had distinguished himself by the active part he had taken in punishing the immoral prima donna, he had quite won Lori's heart; the schoolmistress' pride melted like snow in March, nothing remained but the little girl, who gladly gave herself into the strong man's keeping. There was an end of the commanding and dictating Fräulein. Lori stepped down from the lofty pedestal, upon which she had placed herself with such dignity, and acknowledged her master in him, who, shortly before, had declared himself to be her white slave. Now the plantation belonged to them both, and the world maintained that it was Lori who had become the white slave. Sperner possessed all the qualifications for a despot, and it was in vain that she prepared to defend herself against his vigorous energy with the pin-pricks of her wit. Yet she could still occasionally celebrate tiny triumphs with it when the Doctor, in one or the other of the classes, distinguished a few favourites according to his old bad custom. She was implacable towards these successors of Iduna. She took possession of their copy-books after her husband had already corrected them, and let her red pen run riot through their pages until they resembled a corn field overgrown with poppies. Then their domestic peace was seriously imperilled, and the first-class listening at the door, had the satisfaction of witnessing noisy scenes between the conductors of the establishment. How differently Fräulein Sohle had maintained discipline! Yes, even some lovely eyes peeping through the keyhole pretended to have seen how Dr. Sperner's moustache, the terror and glory of the school, played a suffering part in these disputes. At last, however, the Doctor gained his point, Lori was merely, by courtesy, the principal of the school.

Although this couple's last kindly relation to Giulia had consisted in the homage which they paid to her talent in the theatre by hissing and whistling, it did not, in the least, prevent them paying a friendly visit to Herr and Frau von Blanden. Times change, and besides, in those days, they were a portion of the public, the most irresponsible creature that the world contains, because the individual disappears within it like a wave in the ocean, which none can make permanently stationary?

Lori was most agreeable; she could not sufficiently regret that Frau von Blanden had said farewell to the stage. Since her retirement there had been a total lack of all real interest, and nothing was heard but commonplace ballad-singing for salaries and wages, without any of the divine spark.

Sperner, too, kissed the lady's hand with the very lips which had given the signal whistle in the pit, and looked up at her with such true-hearted eyes that she could not but believe in his genuineness. He was one of those honest men whose frank manner, whose warm impulsive speeches inspire confidence at once, one of those men, with open hearts and open shirt collars, whose genuineness, as Kuhl said, is nothing but studied hypocrisy, while behind the mask of their honesty lurks the vilest deception.

Blanden led his guests round the Castle and into the apartments of the old stronghold, which Lori surveyed with peculiar ill-nature. They ascended the tower, which had been temporarily restored. Yet the view over the wide woods to the limits of the estate, fading into the sky on the horizon, awoke a disagreeable emotion in Frau Sperner. She thought of her home, of the gravel walk, of the narrow cells in which she housed those entrusted to her care--how small, how miserable compared with such a magnificent possession; she thought of Dr. Sperner, who brought nothing to the union but his moustache, a box of clothes, another of books, and an undeniable talent as a dictatorial teacher in the school and conjugal lord, and a heavy shadow overclouded her life. Blanden stood transfigured before her like a being of a higher order. Giulia had remained behind in the chapel with the Doctor. Lori looked at Blanden with an expression, in which lay the pain of deceived affection, combined with one of sad resignation. But Blanden said, smilingly--

"You will surely call me to your assistance against the bold tutor, who took so much upon himself! Verily he has set a crown upon his boldness now, robbed you of heart and name, trodden Fräulein Baute's door plate in the dust, and upon the long suffering metal written the name of the wild man who was so dreadful. Can I help you, my Fräulein? Shall I call him out? I am ready as ever for knightly duty!"

"Laugh away, a knight may be needed at all times, and a man who is a savage does not at once become tame in marriage. Herr von Blanden, we may call ourselves teachers, but nevertheless we always remain pupils in life."

It was well that Giulia and Sperner appeared, or Lori would have fallen into Blanden's arms upon the Castle leads, if he had shown the least inclination to bear so precious a burden.

At any rate Frau Sperner had the satisfaction of driving back to the town in Herr von Blanden's elegant carriage. Reclining in the soft cushions, drawn by the four high stepping horses, she could indulge in dreams of being the mistress and owner of this team! How contemptible the Doctor appeared at that moment; he possessed no carriages and horses, castles and villages, forests and meadows, and yet assumed a mien as if his frown were dreaded in a circumference of thirty square miles. And he was really living upon borrowed capital. That was all the grandeur!

With a sigh she leaned back in the cushions and closed her eyes, and in a half dream of delight she saw herself as Frau von Blanden with Sperner seated in his proper place, upon the box in a splendid livery, thrashing the horses and stroking his moustache.

A few days after this visit, Blanden had to cross the frontier to see a landowner in Russian Poland about agricultural matters and the new buildings, for which he hoped to find desirable materials. Giulia bade him a fond farewell, as though she had a presentiment that it would be farewell for a long, long time. The road from Kulmitten first led along a beautifully situated road on the estate, then between little lakes on either side; farther on, at several places, the traveller might easily imagine himself to be in Arabia Petræa, for the highway went past hills which had been strewn with a shower of stones. Here not a tree grew, not a shrub, it was a limitless waste. The horses, too, had difficulty in making their way through the stony débris, for Blanden had already to diverge from the main road, because his friend's estate was only accessible along by-ways. It was a toilsome drive, twilight overtook them before the frontier was reached. Meanwhile the landscape had again assumed a different character; the hills were covered with woods, and in the hollows between them small lakes which terminated in swamps. The carriage wheels often ran so closely to their edge that only the light of the carriage lamps and the driver's caution preserved them from some mishap. Some of these morasses were so deep that it would be fatal to sink into them. Suddenly the carriage dropped below into a copse dividing two lakes or swamps; a string of carts which had been driven up one behind another, and would not move on, blocked the road. The coachman became impatient, but he was bidden to wait; Blanden sprang out of the carriage and climbed up a little eminence close to the road, however, it was too dusk to be able to overlook the whole train. He saw a few dark figures moving about amongst the carts, and some of them were armed with guns.

At last the cry "Forward!" resounded. The line of carts was set in motion, it was possible to proceed. Blanden had to act as rear-guard.

Thus they went on for some time alternating from wooded hills to swampy vallies, then they stopped again, a post with the Russian colours showed that the frontier was reached. That "halt!" was not given in the loud voice of the "forward," but in a whispered tone. Blanden became impatient, he knew already that he had fallen amidst a caravan of smugglers, which could only seek to cross the frontier on by-roads, in the dead of the night. Then suddenly the soundless silence was disturbed by noisy cries; shots and din of conflict followed, the horses in Blanden's carriage reared, the coachman could hardly keep them in hand. More shots. Cossacks on fleet horses dashed upon the foot-wide margin that separated the carts from a swamp on the right hand from a steep wooded hill on the left. They overpowered the drivers of the carts, bound them safely, and mounted the waggons themselves. A Cossack also seated himself beside Blanden's coachman, obliging him to deviate from his course and follow to the frontier station.

As they drove past the scene of conflict he saw that it had cost the lives of several victims; a wounded Cossack was lifted up and placed in one of the carts, two officials from the frontier searched a wildly overgrown bank running out into the swamp, evidently they expected to find a wounded smuggler there. As the road became wider, and passed through a plain of meadows, one cart was left behind to bring on a few more prisoners, and several Cossacks galloped back to catch some runaway smugglers. Clearly the attack on the column of carts had been unexpected and sudden, and doubtlessly its leader had formerly often succeeded in crossing the frontier unperceived by these remote roads.

Blanden was supremely annoyed at this compulsory divergence; almost an hour elapsed before they reached the station, near which was an inn. He knew the inspector of the frontier personally, and also had papers with him fully proving his identity, and setting the matter beyond doubt that he was in nowise connected with the band of smugglers.

The Cossack upon the box, who had escorted him safely, took leave, and for his unwelcome trouble received a trink-geld that he accepted with eloquent gestures. It was too late at night to drive to his friend's estate, they had turned off in an exactly opposite direction. Blanden had the horses taken out, and resigned himself to the fate of spending the rest of the night in that miserable inn.

Gradually the carts arrived with the Cossacks. Blanden had preceded them. The waggons contained jewellery, silks, and linen; he learned that a bold speculator, who accompanied the train himself, hoped to do a great stroke of business with it. He had not yet been caught. Blanden overheard all this in the inn parlour, when he walked impatiently up and down, waiting for the wretched meal which he had ordered.

Outside there was incessant running to and fro; shouting, ordering, rolling of cartwheels, and stamping of horses, echoed through the night. A company of infantry had been summoned from the neighbouring town, because they had to deal with the most dangerous traders of the East Prussian forests, who thoroughly understood the little frontier struggles, and amongst whom were several reckless axe-bearers and dreaded shots.

It was late when one more conveyance arrived, from out of which a groaning man was lifted; he had been found upon the bank in the swamps, where he had sought to conceal himself in the wild profusion of overgrowth.

"He will not live much longer," said the host, returning, after having gleaned the information outside, "but, besides the room which I have given up to you, there is not an empty spot in the house."

"I will gladly resign it," replied Blanden. "I shall not be able to sleep any more; put the unhappy man in my room."

Accompanied by two Cossacks, the wounded man was carried into the parlour where the landlord told him he could be accommodated in the upper room, which this gentleman had relinquished to him. Out of a cloak which concealed the rest of his face two great glowing eyes fixed themselves upon Blanden. A sudden quiver passed through the wounded man. He was carried out and up the stairs.

"Who is the man?" asked Blanden.

"So far as I can hear," said the host, "he is a dealer, who, in transporting his goods--whether from greediness and anxiety, whether from delight in such adventures--does not leave the matter to competent professional smugglers, but assumes the management himself. Certainly, this time it is a great expedition, which might have entirely provided a princely ball at Warsaw with jewels and silk. He has fared ill to-day! He defended himself and fired a revolver, but was mortally wounded."

The servant of the house then entered and begged Blanden to go to the wounded man, who urgently requested it.

"The poor man will not part from life without thanking me," said Blanden.

He went up the stairs and entered a room meagrely lighted with a feeble oil lamp. Against the wall stood a wretched bedstead, upon which lay a straw mattress. At the head of the bed sat a Cossack, his lance in his hand.

"Make room, good fellow," said the wounded man's voice, "let the gentleman come to me! You can stand on guard as well as sit. I am no longer dangerous."

He had spoken Russian. The Cossack drew back while Blanden went up to the bed, but his sensation of pity suddenly gave place to one of astonishment, when, in the man doomed to die, he recognised the amber merchant.

"Signor Baluzzi!" cried he shocked, for he suddenly recollected that this man stood in some mysterious relation to Giulia.

"I shall soon be dead," said Baluzzi, while spasmodic gasps interrupted the words brought out with such difficulty. "Corpo di bacco! I should not have believed that it would come so soon, but I feel it is to be, and the frontier official, who was a surgeon formerly, says so too. People follow many trades here."

"I am sorry for you, Baluzzi! How could you enter upon so insane an undertaking?"

"Insane? L'assicuro di no! I have often had the most splendid success, but misfortune must befall all in time; you, too, Herr von Blanden, and I am glad, because I have the right to hate you."

The Italian's dim eyes gleamed, he clenched his hand convulsively, and then let it fall again upon the pillow.

"What do these insinuations mean?--speak! If you have a secret to confide to me do not hesitate, for it might easily become too late."

"A secret of a strange kind," said Baluzzi, as he tossed about and groaned. "Haha, now it will come upon her, too. This bullet speeds beyond the frontier--and into her heart! I foretold it to her when she gave me up in her unworthy pride. I was too weak. I let myself be dazzled by the gold that she promised and gave me! But now it is all over, death is approaching, it needs no bribe. Now I will speak! That was the agreement. I shall hold firmly to it!"

"You speak in riddles," said Blanden.

"As she will no longer rest in my arms, neither shall she in yours," said the Italian. "I shall assert my rights. I shall preserve them with my last breath, long as I may have denied them. That is worthy of a brave man. She is mine, and belongs to this death-bed."

"Of whom do you speak?" cried Blanden, more astonished.

"Of Giulia, your--mistress!"

"Hah, you scoundrel," cried Blanden, "I shall be forgetting that a dying man is before me, that these words are the unnecessary attacks of an expiring intellect."

"You are mistaken," said Baluzzi, but pain compelled him to stop for a time and to speak more softly. "I speak the truth."

"Fool--united to me at the altar!"

"Null and invalid, null and invalid!"

"Is there anything you wish, Baluzzi? I will gladly carry it out, but to listen longer to your wandering speech is impossible."

"Wandering speech! Haha--am I a madman? Do I tear off the bandage which the wretched surgeon, the old frontier official, put on? Do I grope in the air half unconsciously? No, my mind is clear, clear as yours, clearer, perhaps, at this moment. I can understand that the world begins to go round with you when I repeat that 'Giulia can only be your mistress, because she is--my wife!'"

"Your wife, madman!"

Blanden shouted in a torrent of anger, then he shuddered. Various dark impressions, for which hitherto he could not account, swept suddenly over him, the possibility of what was incredible lay before him like a deep fearful abyss.

"She has deceived you, carissimo!"

"Oh, then--then I should envy you the merciful bullet which struck you, envy you your approaching death," cried Blanden, beside himself, "but it cannot be, Giulia could not thus deceive me."

"She wanted to belong to you for ever, and she did not mind a crime."

"She must have dreaded the disclosure every moment."

"There you have an ardent daughter of our country! She would be happy at any price."

"You should have come forward long since, have opposed it."

"I did not do it. I was accustomed to turn away from her, to be silent. It was more advantageous for me! She paid well for my silence, but that she should treat me with contempt ate silently into my vitals, and I vowed to be avenged upon the overbearing woman as soon as the hour should have struck."

Bach one of these replies, which Baluzzi gave in a low expiring voice, was a deathblow for Blanden. Not only could he not refute them, but they bore the impress of truth.

The dark recollection of the Lago Maggiore, of Giulia's agonised bursts of anguish, of the force of circumstances which she lamented, of Baluzzi's appearance on the shore of the lake, and at the gate of the villa, all returned overwhelmingly upon him. He had many times asked casual questions which she had always answered crossly and evasively, and only in order to avoid marring the peace of their honeymoon had he refrained from an enquiry which might easily be misinterpreted. With the keen sharpness of a knife this thought quivered through his brain, and a dread feeling of pain rent his heart, and yet with every excuse which his anxious reason could discover, he tried to stem the coming evil.

"Your wife, you say, your wife, but where were you married?"

"In the church of San Giulio, on the island, in the lake of Orta."

"I will assume that you are speaking the truth, assume it without believing it. But then she was your wife years ago. She is divorced."

"Our Church knows no divorce," murmured Baluzzi softly to himself.

"Your laws--"

"Do not recognise it either!"

"Well, then, she has been divorced in some other country where it is permitted."

"I have always remained a subject of Italy, and even here--I had grounds enough for a divorce--remember the villa at Stresa--but I would not."

Baluzzi made a sign of denial. He groaned, and pressed his hand upon his heart. He could not speak any more.

"Horrible," cried Blanden; then he began to perceive what Giulia's heart must have gone through in its passionate love for him--the unbounded deception became comprehensible. He could not but acknowledge to himself that he should never have made his, this vagrant's wife, even if she had been divorced. Giulia had told herself the same, and therefore concealed the past from him.

But that he should realise the possibility, could realise it, seemed to him like inexpiable injustice to Giulia.

The man, sick unto death, was a prey to wild delirium, but even through madness there runs one connecting thread, on which it hangs its pictures, and is often more sharp-sighted, more rational than sound sense.

A pause ensued. The Cossack, who was weary, began to whistle a song which is sung on the shores of the Don by the girls of his race. Baluzzi had somewhat recovered.

"You still doubt? Pray call in the officer of the frontier."

Under the impression that the Italian felt weak, and needed some surgical assistance, Blanden hastened down the stairs and returned with the chief guardian of the frontier. The latter felt Baluzzi's pulse, and shook his head.

"One favour! Show this gentleman what you found sewn up in my coat."

Annoyed, but unwilling to refuse a dying man's entreaty, the officer, with an enquiring glance at Blanden, went into his office, and returned, bringing another Cossack with him as watchman.

Out of a rough wooden box close at hand at the time, he took a sparkling diamond coronet. Even the Cossacks drew nearer with covetous glances.

Only one stone was wanting in the ornament. Blanden started back as if stung by an adder.

"My, her diamonds! Our family jewels! Robber!

"I a robber? Did she wear these diamonds on her wedding day? Did she complain that she had lost them? It is a gift that she gave to me--one of the many with which she bought my silence. I came to her on the evening before her wedding. Kätchen showed me the road through the tower and the subterranean passage, and cleared the way--poor child, it was there, too, that she died the following day in the fireworks, which she let off in honour of the bridal couple. These diamonds are my honestly gained property."

Now Blanden said no more. Groping about blindly he sought an explanation, but all excuses were denied to him. Desperate, he buried his face in his hands, and stamped as if in an impotent rage with his fate.

"He is dying," said the official, pointing at Baluzzi, whose features suddenly became overshadowed.

But he raised himself once more with a powerful effort, and cried in a shrieking half-failing voice--

"Thrust her from you, the adulteress. Where am I? The brand upon her brow, the chains of the galley rattle about me--"

"And if it were so," cried Blanden, "the proofs are wanting. The secret goes with you to the grave. I alone have the right to punish her."

"You are wrong," said Baluzzi, gathering up his strength once more. "Revenge I have vowed to her, I keep my oath, the proofs are not here, not at hand, but they are in safe keeping. The accusation I carried for long, carefully sealed up in my breast pocket. Beate burned the page in the registry in San Giulio, but a legal copy at the See in Milan proves the marriage. And this accusation is my legacy, the lightning that strikes the worthless woman, even before I die."

"This accusation--" cried Blanden, almost breathlessly.

"Bears the address of the nearest court in the district, shows all proofs, and is in the hands of Wild Robert, who fled with me on to the bank in the swamps. The ball hit me--it missed him. He promised me, even if it cost his life, to take the papers there. He knows the way through the morass, and if he had to hew down bush and tree with an axe to make a bridge for himself, the bailiffs have not caught him. Triumph! Chains and fetters for her--she has despised me, I, too, may despise her--thus I die--gladly!" And with these words, which were already interrupted by the rattle of approaching death, he bowed his head and passed away.

As if out of his mind Blanden rushed into the night, ran along lonely roads, sprang over ditches and fences, hurried up and down--he felt as though he must fly from himself.

His Giulia had deceived him, she was a criminal, his marriage invalid--the myrmidons of the law were already knocking at the door of his Castle! He repeated all this to himself mechanically, hopelessly, as though he were conning a lesson. It was impossible that all this could concern himself.

After two hours of rapid flight through the night, which just began to yield to the dawn in the east, he returned to the inn, asked for ink and paper, and wrote to Giulia--

"Baluzzi is dead, he fell in a smuggler's fight, and dying confessed to me that you are his wife, and never were divorced from him! Shortly before his death he sent in an accusation against you. It cannot all be true, confirm the untruth with a few lines; they will find me with the proprietor of Opaczno."

He obtained a messenger and despatched him to Kulmitten with his letter.

It would have been impossible for him to return now, look into Giulia's eyes, hear from her own lips that she was the wife of that wretch.

He gave some orders and money for Baluzzi's burial, and then drove to Opaczno.

Fixedly he gazed at the morning, he saw none of the objects past which he drove, for him a heavy shadow lay upon all earthly things.

She whom he had so proudly loved, seemed like a spectre to him, a bride of Corinth, a vampire, which had sucked his blood, his life.

And yet--in the midst of his wrath at the deception, he was seized with fear, with pity for her, an inexpressible feeling of pain, that gnawed at his heart.

He felt as if the mild god of Hindoostan, the old King's son, laid a hand upon his brow like a healing doctor, and whispered to him, "Have pity upon all creation!"



"When you receive these lines," wrote Giulia, "I shall have left Kulmitten with Beate, and all traces of me, it is to be hoped, will be lost to you and to the world. I take nothing with me, save the remembrance of your goodness and love, and they shall support me in my forsakenness, and render it possible for me to endure life.

"What else can it be to me, but an atonement of the past, but a prayer, a prayer for forgiveness? I shall never learn if it be fulfilled, but in my best hours I shall comfort myself with it, I shall hope and believe in it, as we believe in one only happiness!

"And I dare believe and hope, because the crime that I committed was committed only through boundless love for you, through passion that gives up and sacrifices everything for the possession of the beloved one, even its duty, its honour--at least that which before law and the world passes for such. I had hoped to be able to preserve my secret, and at the same time untroubled happiness for you, even although mine was ever disturbed by pangs of conscience; it has been ordained differently, the veil has suddenly fallen. I stand as a criminal before your eyes. If you, too, measure me with the measure of others, then there is no absolution for me, but you, whom I loved most deeply, will also be more capable than all others of forgiveness.

"The whole history of my sorrow is connected with a man who has now met with so terrible an end, he was fatal to my life. I may regret that a low mind made him an unsettled, unhappy wanderer upon earth, but I cannot weep for him, because tears are too precious to be wasted upon what is ignoble. Others may, perhaps, think the same of me, but every great passion has an atoning power. The story of my life is short, but eventful.

"My parents possessed a small estate near Bergamo; they exchanged it for another in the Italian Tyrol, but they were unfortunate, their affairs went wrong. Young as I was, I had to think of earning something for myself, and as I was esteemed tolerably good looking, and my voice melodious and strong, it was determined that I should devote myself to the stage. Influential friends provided for my education, so that I might enter the chorus at the Pergola, in Florence.

"I was eighteen years old, I did not know life. In my dreams I might sketch a brilliant future for myself: the present was poor enough, it did not satisfy the ambition of artistic struggles, it barely yielded daily bread. Gradually, however, I began to receive subordinate parts, in which, if not by my singing, yet by my voice, my whole manner, I could rouse people's attention.

"At that time I became acquainted with Baluzzi; he was twenty years older than I, and also a chorus singer, but for him the chorus was only a place of refuge, as it seemed, the sad close to a mysterious life. He was considered to be a handsome man, all my friends were proud when he paid them any little attention. Soon he began to distinguish me especially, which roused my companions' jealousy, made me, however, the more susceptible of the tokens of his favour. He understood how to win a young heart; he surrounded himself with the charm of recklessness; here and there he allowed a reminiscence of his past, a picture to gleam shedding around him the halo of a bold, daring man. Being a member of the chorus appeared to us as a disguise which he had assumed in his momentary need.

"Unacquainted with life, captivated by Baluzzi's fiery glances, and the power of his language, I was soon beneath his spell. I loved him with inexperienced, ardent love. An event also occurred that showed me his uncontrolled feelings, it is true, but also the strength of his passion. I had inspired a Florentine noble with one of those transient affections which the stage so easily ignited. I had treated him politely, and he looked upon me as an easy prey. Late one evening he came to me. I bade him leave, he became more importunate. Baluzzi had watched for him, came to me, drew out his dagger, and wounded the nobleman. The wound was not dangerous and my well-born friend deemed it best to observe silence. I, however, could gauge Baluzzi's love for me by the measure of his savage jealousy.

"Nor did he only crave for fleeting love, he strove to possess me from the first. He told the wounded intruder that I was his betrothed, and asserted his right of active defence. I had not given him the right until now, but I did not show over-much resistance when he claimed it. Once when I refused to listen to him, we were standing upon the platform of the companile, he threatened to throw himself down, and I appeased him with hasty consent, because I believed that he would fulfil his threat.

"One thing I must say for him--and that was my misfortune--he believed in my talent, my future. While others thought my performances pretty and taking, he was convinced that, with my voice, my appearance, after a little progress in singing, I should become great on the Italian stage. In imagination he foresaw my pecuniary, my brilliant successes, therefore he strove to possess me. I was an object of his calculations, and they had not deceived him. That he also found me personally desirable I will readily believe, for the world, the public, the newspapers, and above all, my mirror told me that I was beautiful.

"Baluzzi's passionate courtship, which inspired me with fear and dread--as he intimidated me with menaces if I should not do his will--I could no longer resist. I had sung my first more important part at the Pergola and been very successful; his calculations now gained a firmer basis, more resolutely he went at his object. At that time, it is true, I only perceived the expression of unlimited passion in all that he said or did, which at last intoxicated me, for nothing is more infectious than the soul's warmth. I gave my consent to the marriage; that it should be a secret one at first, we both agreed. Nothing is more fatal to young actresses than the title of Signora, it sets a barrier to those undecided wishes which spontaneously, like a superfluous element of nature, mingle with the admiration of beauty and artistic revelations; in such unexpressed emotions often lies the secret of success. A grand career lay before me, it must remain free and open to me. Baluzzi also desired this. We were married in the remote little church in the middle of the Orta lake. For the stage I continued to be Signora Bollini; but the heavy, fatal error of my life had been committed, it was no youthful folly whose consequences could be brushed away with a light hand. Marriage is indissoluble according to the laws of the Church, indissoluble according to those of the country. The priest's words had converted me into a slave for evermore. I did not feel it then, I was happy. This confession does not disgrace me, because felicity lies in our feelings, and delusion can call it forth as well as truth. Youth has its own rapture, its own bliss, and love is not so powerless as not to procure full enjoyment for all who are filled with it. Those were glorious days which I spent by the banks of the Orta lake. Baluzzi then seemed like a demi-god to me, but that bliss was of short duration.

"Returned to Florence, I soon remarked that he displayed several rougher sides of his nature, at first surprising, then alarming me. I perceived that he gave himself up to a wild life, which, merely to win and deceive me, he had interrupted for some time. He laid an embargo upon my cash-box, I was almost reduced to poverty; he was a gambler, a drunkard, and spent his nights with wild companions.

"The rapture of love, however, had given unthought-of wings to my talent; from part to part I attained greater success, and after the lapse of a year was engaged at the Pergola with a considerable salary, but, with the salary, increased Baluzzi's claims; often he demanded money for his journeys to Monaco, where he indulged his mania for play, whence he always returned a bankrupt. All my expostulations were vain, he met them with bitter scorn and the defiant manner of a lord and master.

"He gambled at Monaco, he engaged in equivocal business, and did I not send him sufficient money at any time, he pursued me like a spy, like a shadow. He read of my successes in the papers, he kept a book of them, he calculated my receipts. In Milan, not long after, began the era of my triumphs, the most distinguished circles were opened to me. I became intimate with Princess Dolgia, and she invited we to her villa at Stresa.

"It was then that I saw you for the first time, when my heart burned for you with glowing passion, when I experienced all the charms of love and life, and felt the shame of my chains doubly heavy; then, too, he spied upon me by the lake shore, he had been dissatisfied with the last remittance; he demanded more. At the same time his heart was inflamed with savage jealousy, or was it rather an emotion of hatred--he saw that we loved one another. I feared for your life, only a great price could assuage his wrath. But, carried away with delight that knew no bounds, as if to raise me in blissful dreams above the unworthiness with which my life was filled, I would not curb my glowing love, and greater than the sin of loving was the wicked doubt, whether the welfare of my soul was more imperilled by your love than by the mad passion of a brutal criminal.

"Since then my only thought has been for you and your love; he followed me upon my career of triumph which I commenced through Europe. I would fly from you, only entwine your love like a transient dream in my life--and ever again it urged me to seek you; therefore I came here and stayed so long on the shores of the northern lakes. It drew me to your native land, to your own home. I visited your Castle while you were absent; then I tore myself away from the glowing dreams of my longing--for almost two years I lingered in Russia. Owing to no fault of mine, Baluzzi had lost all traces of me for a considerable time; he had been guilty of some breach of the laws in Russia, and was, I know not why, banished to Siberia, but he discovered me again, and, like a leech, he clung to my heels.

"My increasing fame gave me the entrée to good society, I gained the friendship of princes and princesses. Intercourse with Baluzzi could only injure my name. Little as he fulfilled his duties as a chorus singer in Florence, he was known as one of those musical assistants who stood upon a subordinate step of the ladder of art, in those circles I had risen far above his horizon. I often let him feel it, and he rebelled with double defiance against my 'impudent overbearing.' Yet he saw that, for his own sake, he must not disturb my career; he agreed only to see and speak to me secretly, and before the world to assume the semblance of friendship; he often came after dissipated entertainments and asserted his rights, rousing my anger.

"Another fearful surprise awaited me. A falling scene had struck his shoulder; he persistently rejected all assistance from the surgeon, and from me. I went to see him, he lay in feverish sleep. I wanted to see the wound, that appeared to me as serious as his resistance was suspicious. I drew back the bandage and saw--even now the recollection fills me with horror--upon his shoulder the branded mark of a galley-slave! It was to a desperate criminal that I had given hand and heart!

"There are countries in which the law would grant the right of divorce in cases where such discoveries were made after marriage, because they assume that only by mistake could such an union have been formed. But in Italy there is no such law, and had there been I had neglected the time which is allowed for such an appeal. I knew nothing about it.

"Nevertheless, my resolution, to set myself free from the horrible control of this man, so far as lay in my power, remained immovable. When Baluzzi had recovered, I imparted my discovery to him with great composure; he started. I told him that I knew now that I had married a heavily punished criminal.

"'Quarrels at the gaming table,' said he shortly, 'a hasty dagger that caught its victim.'

"'Perhaps combined with cheating and robbery,' added I.

"'What does it matter to you? Who dares to reproach me with a punishment that I have undergone?' I explained succinctly to him that I could have nothing in common with a dismissed galley-slave, and forbade him to visit me any more. Naturally this prohibition angered him, but I declared that I should betray his secret to the world, publish the brand which justice had imprinted upon him, and thus had cast him out for ever from association with his fellow-men.

"'Then I shall proclaim our marriage,' cried he triumphantly, 'and upon you will rest the same curse.'

"'And our fame, my talent, our gains?'

"He became thoughtful, and entered into negociations; he should not disturb my path any more, but he claimed the greater portion of my receipts for himself; under these conditions, so long as I remained on the stage, where he prophesied me a brilliant career, he should not assert his rights over me, but so soon as from any cause I left the theatre, I should again fall into his power, not only my possessions, but also my life and person; thus should he be indemnified for the long privation. I might then proclaim that he had been in the bagno, it was immaterial to him. The wife of a galley-slave shared his disgrace; yes, then he should be my master again and possess the right to the whims of a sultan.

"He parted from me; I bound myself always to give him my address, as I was about to set out on a starring tour in Italy and abroad. I felt like a serf who is granted liberty which is liable to be recalled at any moment, but my earnings were paralysed, and my heart could not beat freely without committing sin. That was control worse than the galley!

"I saw you again. From that time my life has been no secret to you. I would belong to you for ever, it was the one object of my life, and yet unattainable if I did not possess the audacity to defy the constraint of a law binding me for life to the galley. Is there no higher decree than the mutable chequered one of these countries in our hemisphere? Is there not a holier love which may scorn an unholy bond? I hoped to annihilate the proofs of my slavery: I hoped to keep the spectre of my life far aloof from myself, and still farther from you; to enjoy a happiness over which, indeed, hung a sword on a silver thread, yet invisible to you and your repose, not hostile to your peace--in vain! He came because I had resigned the stage; he came not to demand my money, but myself, and in wild desperation I bought a new reprieve with the gift of your love, the diamond diadem, the family jewels of the Blandens. But dying, the wretched man fulfilled his oaths of revenge, and, as bleeding, he descends amongst the shadows, he leaves me behind amidst the falling ruins of my bliss.

"Well;--I am a guilty woman! Now condemn me! I have deceived you, I bring disgrace upon your house--and yet, so long as my heart beats, it will beat for you; I go forth into misery, behind me the myrmidons of the law, nothing is left for me save the last greeting, the last word of blessing! God protect the most noble man whom the earth contains, and if he cannot forgive me then may his pity follow me--the outcast, the scorned--into the wide world!"

Again, and again, Blanden read the letter with throbbing heart and a tear in his eyes, he ordered his horses to be harnessed and drove furiously to Kulmitten. The Castle was desolate and empty. Giulia and Beate had left it in a peasant's cart which chanced to be passing through, both in the plainest garments, none could tell whither.

He was alone. He waited for the officers of justice who would soon knock at those doors and attach the seal of nameless shame to the sacred heritage of his family. He sat there a silent, moody man, and buried all his hopes.



Since the occurrences which we have just related, two years had passed away.

The political storm had burst which the weather tokens on the horizon had long since foretold, the regeneration of the German people was proclaimed amid mighty convulsions.

It was a premature spring whose blossoms shed their leaves before they attained maturity.

The uproar raged through the large towns. Blood flowed over the streets. War between brothers was unfettered. Often those fought together, who desired the same object; with cannon balls, the people greeted the desired concessions of Government; wild tumult had taken possession of hearts and minds. The equinoctial gale of the spring of liberty swept through Europe, and general shipwreck ensued.

Only upon one tiny spot of earth, where it was necessary to defend German soil against foreign encroachments, and to prepare the place for the German Empire of the future, a struggle had been commenced, which did not bear the fearful impress of a war between brothers, which was ennobled by glorious enthusiasm for the fatherland. The dependence upon the will of foreign rulers who trod old rights under foot, had become insupportable to a brave race of people which flew to arms to preserve the right, to repel the interference of a newly-crowned king, and to maintain its connection with Germany at the point of the sword.

It was on a day in April, 1848, that the thunder of cannon echoed across the narrow bay of Flensburg; the red columns of the Danish army had extended themselves around the village of Bau and threatened to cut off the advance guard of the Schleswig-Holstein army that was stationed at Bau and Krusau. Soon the battle began! The flower of the country's youth, the students of Kiel, with the riflemen of that town, had to withstand the first onslaught of the enemy.

Over the hedges, out of the ditches, the advanced out-posts fired upon the red sharpshooters, upon the rushing enemy.

"Forward!" resounded the cry of the officers; "forward!" rang Blanden's voice. He led the disciples of alma mater to the battle; he had hastened to them, and entered their ranks amongst the first German volunteers, who placed their swords at the disposal of the good cause of Schleswig-Holstein.

"Forward!" replied the students' cry, with tempestuous enthusiasm, many of whom had a musket in their hands for the first time, who had poured in from the lecture-rooms to prove by active deeds their devotion to their fatherland. And forward moved the volunteer band; with levelled bayonets they charged the Danish vanguard, drove it back, and held their position beneath a heavy fire; courage and energy compensated for lack of numbers.

The Danes gave the courageously attacking force credit for strong supports; for a fresh effort they summoned fresh powers to their assistance.

Regardless of the balls which whistled round him from every side, Blanden, too, stood under fire; it almost seemed as if death would be welcome to him, and yet he was filled with burning love of battle as he looked into the radiant faces of those youths who went so full of the courage of sacrifice to meet their death.

Yes, and it was no common food for powder that filled the ditches, they were the best sons of the land. It was the vanguard of the German spirit, and wherever it had conquered it was always the united word of the sword, and the sword of the word which had gained the victory. These bayonets were not merely a flashing protest of the northern nations; the hands in which they rested were equally powerful to wield the pen--and knew how to prove this right.

Meanwhile the shots thundered from Bau, the crashing salvoes, however, drew towards the south-east of Flensburg. Soon scattered troops announced that the sixteenth battalion at Bau had been beaten by the Danes. Now the brave men stood helplessly, no order from head-quarters came to them; one orderly after another was despatched, none returned. The retreat to Flensburg was endangered.

Thus they left the corpse-strewn battle field in order to force a retreat for themselves. Bau and Krusau were the Schleswig-Holstein Thermopylæ!

Singing battle songs, the troops of lads approached the town, but they were hymns to the dead, for now only did death reap its abundant harvest.

The road ran along the shore, the bay suddenly became alive, the white and red flags approached, and the sky-blue lion prepared to spring. Was not the sea, the kingdom of the old Vikings, subject to the island people; how long did the Sound stand beneath the dominion of Danish cannon?

And it was a submissive bay of the conquered East Sea, which here made its entry into the Schleswig-Holstein country of beeches and hedges.

Suddenly the waves became alive, from the narrow tongue of land, from Holsens, where the Leviathans, the armed men of war, lay, it came ever nearer like a dark cloud upon the billows, a dense evil-boding throng.

They were the Danish gun-boats; then flashed the shots, then blazed the touch-holes. Astonished, the waves caught the strange smoke of powder which spread itself over them like a veil, and the cartridges rattled on the strand.

Like an ocean monster of the old legend rolling devouringly upon the land, death leaped from the waves and laid its victims low. The road became filled with corpses, of what use were the single bullets, which struck the boats; of what avail the temporary shelter behind the trunks of trees along the path!

"Forward to the foundry!" rang the cry of death. It was a kind of trench granting protection. There they could fall fighting; here the band resembled game driven by the keepers, upon which the sportsmen can shoot from a safe position.

And with winged steps all thronged to the fort of death, determined, at least, to sell their lives dearly.

Cartridge upon cartridge blazed across; wounded and dying leaned against the tall stems of the beeches, and the down crashing branches decked these pale brows as if with a homely wreath of honour, upon which trickled the cold drops of death.

Already Blanden saw the smoking furnaces of the foundry before him; there a flash quivers through the cloud of vapour; in conical flight the birds of death swept through, on right and left, fell into the trees, here and there penetrated the earth, struck the companions by his side, and stretched Blanden himself on the ground. He gazed into the night, as it descended upon his eyes--the night of death--but uttered not a word of lament. His last thought before his senses forsook him was the futility of his life, which was honourably terminated by death upon the battle-field.

When he opened his eyes again amidst violent pain, he fancied he was still under the spell of a dream: had he awoke in India amongst the peris? His bewildered fancy led the favourite images of his waking dreams before his mind.

A tear-bedimmed eye rested upon him, a slight form, wrapped in a cloak, bent over him.

They were the eyes, it was the figure of Giulia; with a loud cry of joy she welcomed his awaking.

But it was yet the day, the same day of the battle. Vollies rattled round the iron fort; where at other times the wheels of machinery revolved, now revolved the wheel of death.

A gun-boat still lay upon the strand, the otters had moved nearer to Flensburg, but that one did not cease from its work of devastation. A cartridge rattled and fell into the beech and struck down a branch, which fell upon Giulia and cut her brow. She had bent over Blanden to shelter him.

"Where am I? You here?" said he, half unconsciously.

"Do not ask how."

"Who brings you here?"

"Charity and longing for death, but now there is not a moment to lose."

She beckoned to two peasants, who stood close by with a little cart, and lifted Blanden into it, beside a wounded man who already lay there. Giulia seated herself upon the hard straw sack. They went along back streets to the inn of a neighbouring village, where several surgeons were in full employment.

It was a long time before Blanden recovered from his wounds, which left him slightly lame for life. Giulia was once more his faithful nurse, she also followed him to the Danish captivity, into which he, with the other wounded men, had fallen.

The feeling of belonging wholly to one another became quickened in both. From every side Blanden heard with what heroic valour Giulia had hastened into the battle field, how amidst shot and shells she had brought consolation, succour and relief to the wounded, an angel of mercy, whose memory would live for all ages in the hearts of the Schleswig-Holstein youth. For long both avoided speaking of their separation, its causes, of their later experiences. There would have been the risk of great agitation for Blanden, for both the danger of parting again, and yet both felt how painful an effect this would have upon their lives.

At last Blanden had sufficiently recovered to be allowed to go out into the fresh air, and he, with others, had been already exchanged for Danish prisoners.

They sat under a lofty avenue of beeches by the sea, lying so quietly and blue before them. Islands rose out of the waves and ships passed on the horizon.

"Where have you been, Giulia, since you left me?"

"Upon a little island near that of Sylt, in a lonely fisherman's cottage, there I deemed myself most effectually concealed. So quickly could the law not raise its accusation, not follow my track and find me yonder in my solitude, where, with Beate, I helped to mend fishing nets, and obtained a little money by teaching children. For hours I sat upon the 'dunes,' I saw the tide rush in which for centuries has been washing away these islands, ready to swallow them up, and which already has buried so much work of men's hands within its depths. Like a sea mew's flight over the foaming, dashing billows, my thoughts swept over the heights and abysses of my life, and my bruised heart did bitter penance, and as the roaring hurricane came and stirred the waves and tore them upwards until towering on high they dashed upon the shore, so was I now overwhelmed with the fire and wild passion which had animated me, and with the recollection of all the tempests of my life.

"I could have retired to a convent in my own country, but my soul longed for the free breath of heaven, and an irrevocable bond would have crushed it to the ground.

"Beate left me, she had often been at Sylt during the season, and there had made the acquaintance of a well-to-do Hamburg merchant, whom her sparkling eyes and lively manner had fascinated. We parted amid tears, she was my most faithful friend, who for me had jeopardised her honour. Then the feeling of being utterly forsaken came upon me, the never ceasing return of ebb and flow, the only event of which the 'dunes' could tell, made my spirit weary and listless, all the fettered springs of life stirred within me. I could not have lived amid the ocean solitude another year, my talent for a Robinsonade was exhausted. Then the news of war, which was at that time only imminent, but of whose outbreak messengers brought premature intelligence, penetrated to our fishermen's cottages; I resolved to make atonement for my past as a nurse in the midst of the conflict, and hoped, perhaps, to meet death from a merciful bullet. When I came here I found nothing prepared, I wished to go upon the battle-field as a volunteer Samaritan, and beneath its terrible and yet elevating influences, I felt the pulses of my life beat higher once more--I forgot myself. I relieved pain, I earned thanks--the sin of my life seemed to be melting away as if tears and words of gratitude washed it out. Thus I found you. Fate led those together again, whom it had parted, but still the gulf of guilt lies between them. You have recovered, my task is completed, let me go hence once more."

"No Giulia," cried Blanden with a burst of emotion, "now we part no more."

Giulia looked enquiringly at him; she could not believe his words.

"I part from my preserver no more. I am superstitious, or believing enough to follow the signal of fate which re-united us upon the field of honour. You have nothing more to fear from justice. Baluzzi's messenger, wild Robert, did not reach his goal, he fell, lost in the swamp, the edges of which were thoroughly searched by the guards; doubtlessly he ventured too far in order to escape them. Baluzzi's accusation lies deep down in the morass where it ought to lie; he himself is dead, never did any messenger of justice trouble me. Thus there is but one human being in the world who can bring an accusation against you, and that one dare not, because you only sinned out of love for me, out of blind, but yet true ardent love, and with this kiss I absolve you."

He kissed Giulia's brow; sobbing, she sank into his arms.

"Fate has foiled my most glorious plans of life, we cannot return to the desolate Castle. Your sudden flight injured my name again, the people there will not associate with us, but the world is large! Although my life has been a failure, although I must stay far from my home, there yet remains to me the thinker's dream and the ecstasy of love."

"Not for my sake shall you fly from all," said Giulia imploringly.

"I, too, am dead to this portion of the world. I can do nothing more for my fatherland. This bullet has rendered me unfit for war, a chain of unfortunate circumstances for peace. I cannot stand before any electors, a political career is closed to me. Thus I fly for my sake also, and you, my fondly loved wife, I take with me as comforter. The registry at San Giulio still tells of your guilt, we must away, far away from here. I know a land, the cradle of the gods, perhaps the cradle of mankind, a wonder land. There beneath the giant mountain lies the Walar Lake, and the Behat winds through a paradise of rustling fruit trees and prolific plains upon which gaze down glaciers high as heaven. Beautiful beings wander there in the most blessed valley of the world, and there free from the constraint of law and the trammels of society, which here rule the world, we will build ourselves huts and I will introduce you to the profound wisdom of the land of the lotus-flowers. Follow me to Cashmere."

Giulia pressed him to her heart, "I have no will but yours."

Blanden wrote to Wegen and begged him to sell Kulmitten, Rositten, and Nehren. His friend, Olga's happy husband, doubly happy by her unexpected mastery of the art of cooking, executed Blanden's commission, and by means of a large inheritance, was enabled to buy Kulmitten, the principal estate, for himself.

To Kuhl, however, who really had invited no living creature excepting Caro, to his wedding dinner, Blanden wrote--

"I go far away, to the primeval home of mankind; I am a shipwrecked mariner, and, united to Giulia, shall build myself a hut in the desert. Withered leaves--they fell upon the flowers of my heart, and twice have covered and crushed out their life. My friend! no man can overcome his past. Unforeseen it rises again like a spectre and stretches the destroyer's hand into our lives. Poor Eva was the victim of one of those fearful chains of events which, long invisible, suddenly seize us with a ghostly grasp. That I had loved the mother, was the daughter's death! Withered leaves--vainly my Giulia amid bitterest pain sought to wrench herself loose from her past, but it held her firmly as in an iron vice. Away into the kingdom of Buddha, into the dream-world of the East! I could not live as I would, therefore now I will live as I can."

Not long after a Hamburg steamboat bore the loving pair into the land of the lotus-flowers.


Footnote 1: The evening preceding the wedding day,--Translator's note.


Printed by Remington & Co., 5, Arundel Street, Strand, W.C.

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