Imágenes de páginas

ried himself to an ordinary woman, a becomes through the depression and gypsy, in spite of his family. His injury of the nervous system, like a very dress became that of a madman, jarring and discordant instrument, -to so ihat the boys in the street ran after itself and to the rest of the world an him. They grieved very much in the unintelligible enigma—when the waitcity, for he was generally liked before er entered and called me to supper. that, and must have been, while he The table of the brilliant dininghad his right mind, an excellent man.” room was crowded with guests. It " And where is he now?”

happened that a place was assigned me “I cannot say.

He has quitted the in the neighborhood of some officers of town—we hear and see nothing of him. the occupying army. I naturally, as His family have probably got him a soon as the ice was broken between us, place somewhere where he may be turned the conversation to my friend healed."

Olivier. I gave the minutest descripThe waiter could give no further in- tion of him, that there might be no formation. I had already heard too mistake as to his person; for it was much. I threw myself shuddering into probable, as I believed then, that the a seat. I thought to myself of the mad Baron of Flyeln might be some heroic form of the intellectual youth, of other than my Achilles of Gottingen. whose future I had indulged such fond But all that I said and all that I heard, anticipations ;–he who, by his stand- convinced me too surely that there ing as well as through his large family was no room for mistake. connexions, might have so easily “It is indeed a sad affair, that of the claimed the first place in the army or Baron," sighed one of the officers. the state; he who, by his knowledge “Everybody liked him; We was one of and rare endowments, seemed to have the bravest of the regiment,-in fact a been called to all that is great,—and dare-devil. We saw that, during the last who was now one of the unfortunate, be- campaign in France. What none of us fore whom men shrunk back in dread! dared to do, he did as if in sport. He Oh that the Angel of Life had rather triumphed in everything. Just think withdrawn him from the world, than of the affair at the battery of Belleleft him a miserable and mournful Alliance! We had lost;—the General spectacle to his friends.

tore the very hair from his head. As willingly as I would have seen Flyeln cried out, “We must try again, the good Olivier, it was no longer plea- or all is gone!' We had then made sant to me to inquire for him in the city. three assaults in vain. Flyeln went Alas, he was no more Olivier--no more out with his company once more, took the manly Achilles, but a pitiable un- with him a whole battalion of guards, known Torso. I would not have and, by God, pressing on with the most wished to see him, even if it had been horrible butchery, stormed the bateasy for me to find him. I must then have tery." changed the memory of my Gottingen « But it cost half of the company," Achilles to the image of a madman, interrupted an old Captain near me; which would have robbed me of one of “I was an eye-witness. He came out, my loveliest and most pleasing recol- however, as usual without a scratch. lections. I did not wish to see him, for The most monstrous luck always atthe same reason, that I avoid looking tended the man. The common soldiers at a friend in his coffin, that I may re even are indebted to him for instruction tain in my thoughts the image of the in that which pertains strictly to their living only; or, as I forbear to enter own duties." again into rooms which I formerly oc I heard with real transport the eucupied, but are now in the possession logies passed upon the good Olivier. I of another, and which are arranged in knew him again with all his virtues. quite another manner. The Past and They particularly praised his benefithe Present become confused in my im- cence. He was the founder and imagination in an intolerably painful prover of a school for soldier's chilway.

dren, and had gone to great expense on I was yet lost in speculations on the account of it. He had done much good nature of human existence,-how the in secret; always led a simple and resame spirit which spans the space of tired life; never gave way to the exthe universe and aspires to the highest, travagance or dissoluteness to which

youth, beauty, vigor and health invited you, if I should really tear you open him. Yes, the officers assured me, with my sword, what good would it he had had a signal influence in do you?' And as the Colonel, no ennobling the tone of the corps,-in longer able to contain his wrath, drew improving their manners as well as in his sword, the Major calmly bared his enlarging their knowledge. He him- breast, held it up to him, and said, self had read lectures upon various sub- "Are you anxious to become an assasjects, useful to the warriors, until he sin ?-strike then! We here joined was silenced.”

in the conversation, and wished him to “And why silenced ?" asked I with fight with the Lieutenant-Colonel as some astonishment.

duty and honor commanded. Then “Why, even in these lectures,” an- he called us all fools together, whose swered one of my neighbors,“ he disco- maxims of honor, he said, belonged vered some symptoms of his mental rather to the Mad-house or to the disorder. No Jacobin in the French House of Correction. We soon perNational Convention, ever raged so ve- ceived that he was not altogether right hemently against our monarchical ar- in his upper story. One of us insulted rangements, and against the various him, but he took no notice of it, and European Courts, and their politics, as only laughed. We repaired to the he did at times. He said, right out, General, and frankly related to him our that the people would sooner or later whole case. The General was grieved, help themselves-themselves and the and the more so, because that very day king-against ministerial domination, he had received an Order for the Mapriestcraft, and pecuniary exactions. jor from the Court. He enjoined us to He thought that the revolution would say nothing-he would settle all-the spread inevitably from nation to na- Major must give satisfaction. The tion, and that, in less than half a cen next morning at parade, the General, tury, the whole political aspect of Eu- according to command, handed over rope would be changed. But enough: the Order, with a suitable speech to the lectures were forbidden, and very the Major. He did not take it, but properly and justly. Even so madly answered in respectful words, that did he declaim at times, that he as- “he had fought against Napoleon for sailed the nobility and their preroga- the sake of his country, and not for a tives. If any one reminded him, that litile bit of ribbon. If he deserved he himself was a baron, he would an- any praise, he did not wish to wear it swer, “You are silly to say so, I am a on his breast, as a show to the eyes of plain man of sense, and have been everybody.” The General was almost from the cradle no better than our frightened out of his senses. But no sutler there!""

prayers nor menaces could move the “But that was only a preliminary Major to take the royal distinction. symptom of his derangement," inter- Next, the oslicers stepped forth, and posed a young lieutenant. “The most declared that they could no longer decided act of craziness was, when, serve with the Major, unless he renfalling in with Lieut.-Col. Baron Von dered some satisfaction. The affair Berkin, he saluted him with a box on came to trial; the Major was imprithe ears, and then threw him down soned; and was only released by the stairs; afterwards, however, he did not Court. Then his malady broke out dare to fight him, according to chal- in its fulness. He suffered his beard lenge, by which means he offended the to grow like a Jew's—wore ludicrous whole officer-corps."

dresses-married, to spite his relations, “ Yet he was always a good fighter; a quite ordinary, yet pretty girl-a one who cared little for the naked foundling, for whom he had already sword," said I.

had the affair with the Lieutenant“ Until then, we knew him for such; Colonel--thought himself, for a long but, as was said, his whole nature while, miserably poor—and finally, did changed. When he went out to the so many foolish things, that he was place where they were about to en sent by royal command, under strict gage, he appeared without a sword, guardianship, to his own estate.” and with only a whip in his hand, and • Where is he now ?" I asked. said to the Lieutenant-Colonel, in the “ Stillat his own estate, in Flyeln, in presence of all of us, “You silly fool, the castle of his deceased uncladis


tant, it may be, ten hours from this. them. But in return they must obey For a long year no one went to him his whims in the smallest matters, without permission-even the manage. wear trousers, with long jackets and ment of his business was taken away round hats, suffer their beards to grow from him. It is now restored to him, long, and thou all people, espethough he must still render a yearly cially upon the grounds of Flyelnaccount. He does not venture to stir a even the most important personages. step beyond his domains. He has Aside from these crack-brained notions, solemnly excommunicated the whole he was one of the most sensible men world, and does not permit relatives, in the world. acquaintances, or friends, to come to Notwithstanding the warning of the him. They have now, for a year and post-master, I continued the attempt, more, heard nothing of him."

and went forth towards Flyeln. Why should it trouble me, to go two miles for nothing, when, for the sake of Olivier, I had already ventured so far out

of my way? Nor found I reason to From all the tales of the officers it fear that I should be driven away, was clear, that the unfortunate Olivier, since he had not suffered in his memoafter the loss of his understanding, ry. It was, in truth, a miserable unwould always remain a good-natured travelled route, sometimes through fool; and that probably the wild spirit deep sand, sometimes through newly of freedom, which for some years had dug brooks and miry ground, somebeen the fashion in Germany, had times through rough defiles; several seized him more vehemently than it times my waggon was like to upset. ought, or had at least given a color to But, about one hour's ride from Flyela, his phantasies.

the land began to rise. The fields All this caused me great appre- stood in excellent order upon a wide hension. I could not get to sleep plain; on the right, an oak forest for a long while in the night. When stretched in the distance, with its dark I awoke in the morning, it was already green leaves, like an immense bower; late; but I felt myself more active and on the left, the endless sea, a broad vigorous. The world appeared to me heaving mirror, with its shining clouds, in a clearer light than on the previous completed the panorama. The village evening, and I resolved to seek my of Flyeln peered out of the fruit trees, much-to-be-pitied friend in his place of willows, and poplars before me; on exile.

one side, rose a large old structure, After I had casually surveyed the the castle, encompassed by a wood lions of the place, I flung myself into of wild chestnuts; behind, nearer the a waggon, and drove all night and the water, lay the village of Lower Flyeln, following day, towards Flyeln, to the also attached to the domain of Olivier, neighborhood of a sea port. The vil- picturesquely relieved by rugged ranges lage of Flyeln lay yet two miles dis- of rocks, which, in woody cliffs, projecttant from this town. The post-master, ed like little peninsulas far into the sea. when he heard where I wanted to go, Fishermen's boats with sails swarmlaughed, and reminded me that I was ed upon the shores, and a ship was going on a useless journey. The Baron sailing upon the ridge of the sea, with did not permit himself to be seen by its white sails flickering in the air. strangers. I also learned that he had The nearer I came to the village not improved in the condition of his and castle, the more picturesque and mind, but that the good man had cheerful grew the scenery: It posbecome firmly persuaded, that the sessed the peculiar charms of a country whole world during the last century bordering the sea—those which spring had turned crazy, and that the remedy from the mingling of the beauties of was to go forth from Flyeln. In this landscape with the majesty of the ocean, belief-all the world holding him, and retired and peaceful cottages contrasting he holding all the world, to be sense- with the stormy life of the elements. less-he separated himself altogether At any rate, the place of exile selected from other men. His peasants find by my friend had attractions enough to themselves none the less well off on induce anyone to prefer it to the account of it, for be did much for privilege of living in bustling cities.


[ocr errors]

In the fields, as well as in the gar- twined about his chin, and by me dens, I soon discovered the famous of the whiskers, connected with the Flyeln beards. Even the hotel-keeper, dark locks of his head, became himbefore whose inn I reined up and and as to his dress, though it was pealighted, was profusely covered with culiar, it was not odd. On his head, hair about his chin and mouth. He he carried a neat cap, with the shade returned my greeting in a friendly man turned against the sun; his breast was ner, and seemed to be rather astonish- open, with wide overlapping shirt coled at my arrival. “Dost thou seek lars; he had a green jacket, buttoned the proprietor ?” he asked me cour- tight before, with lappeis reaching down teously. I permitted the somewhat to his knees, loose sailor trowsers, and unusual thou to pass with a smile, half-boots. He was dressed much in answering simply yes. • Then, I must the same way as the peasants, only inquire concerning thy name, rank, more tastefully, and with finer stuffs. and dwelling-place. These must be His mien was quiet and thoughtful, announced to Mr. Olivier. He does and he looked like a man just entering not willingly receive travellers.” his fortieth year. His beard gave him

“But me he will certainly receive. an heroic aspect and bearing. He Let him be told that one of his oldest stood before me, as I would imagine and best friends, in passing by, wishes one of the noble forms of the middle to speak with him for a little while. ages. Let nothing further be said to him.” In the meantime, the messenger of

“As thou willst,” replied the host; the tavern-keeper came from the castle “ but I can anticipate the answer.” to the circle of trees. The young fel

While the hotel-keeper was looking low took off his beaver, and said, “Sir, for a messenger, I went slowly through there is a stranger on his journey who the village, direct towards the castle, wishes to speak with thee. He says to which a foot-path that ran between that he is one of thy oldest and best the houses and a fruit garden, seemed friends." to invite me. But it led me astray to

Olivier looked up and inquired, a building which I took for a wash. “Journey? Is he on foot ?" house. Sidewise, beyond a meadow, * No, he came with the post !" flowed a pretty broad brook, over which “ What is his name? Who is he?" the high and dark wild chestnuts of “ That I can't say.". the ancient homestead of the Baron “He must let me alone. I will not flung their shadows. I determined see him,” cried Olivier, and made a upon the hazard of introducing myself sign to the youth with his hand that to Olivier unannounced. I had pur- he must depart. posely concealed my name from the “But you must see me, Olivier," hotel-keeper, in order to see, when cried I, stepping forth, and bowing Olivier should come to me, whether courteously to the young woman. He, he would recognize me. I crossed without moving, even without returnover the meadow-found after long ing my salutation, stretched his neck seeking a bridge over the brook, and towards me, surveyed me for some a path that led ihrough the underbrush time with a sharp glance, looked towards the wild chestnuts. These grave, threw his book down, ihen apovershadowed a spacious round plot proached me, saying, “With whom near the castle, ornamented with green am I speaking ?" turf. On both sides stood fine easy “What, Achilles no longer knows chairs under the broad branches of the his Patroclus,” replied I. trees, and upon one of the benches sat 2 70701 !” he exclaimed, greatly -I was not overcome-Olivier. He amazed, wbile he spread out his arms, was reading a book. At his feet a “welcome, noble Patroclus, in a French child about three years old played in frock, and with powdered hair.” Then the grass. Near him sat a beautiful he fell upon my bosom. In spite of young woman with an infant at the his sarcastic speech both he and I were breast. The group was not a common moved, and gave way to tears. An

I stood still, half hidden by the interval of twenty years melted away shrubs. None of them looked towards in the embrace. We breathed again, me. My eyes hung only on the good as we did upon the shores of the Seine, Olivier. Even the black beard which or at Borenden.


[ocr errors]

Thereupon, with eyes sparkling with “It appears," I interposed, “you joy, he led me to the charining young good people have here in the midst of mother, who modestly reddened, and a kingdom, founded a republic and said to her, “See, this is Norbert,- abolished all nobility.” thou knowest him already from many Right-all but the nobility of senof my stories !” and to me, “ That is my timent,"answered Olivier, “and in that beloved wife.”

respect thou findest us in this land She smiled with the veritable smile more extensively aristocratic than in of an angel, and said with an air and your own Germany.

For with you voice, more kind even than her words, nobility of mind is of little worth, and “Thou noble friend of Olivier, thrice nobility of birth is falling into the mire welcome! I have long since desired where it properly belongs.' the pleasure of thy personal acquaint “Pardon me, but thou art somewhat ance."

Jacobinically inclined,” responded I; I would have said something oblig. “who told thee that nobility of birth ing in return, but I confess that the among us was sinking in public opifamiliar Thou which greeted me, un- nion ?" accustomed to hear it spoken from such “Oh, popoi!” he exclaimed, “must I lovely lips, and in so unrestrained a teach thee, then? I knew, some years manner, quite deprived me of self-pos- ago, a poor ragged Jew, that you pious session. *

Christians would rather have had not My gracious lady,” I stammered born than born. He chaffered so much finally, “I have—by a roundabout way money together, that he soon took his of more than twenty miles-pur- letters from the post-office with the chased cheaply,—the happiness, address of a nobleman. After some you and your husband,—my oldest years he was a rich man, and the courtfriend

ly Germans readily conceived that the Hallo, Norbert,” interrupted Oli- fellow must have sprung from some vier laughing, “ only one word in the high birth. All wrote to him from beginning, a request,-call my wife as that time forth, as a nobly-descended thou callest thy God, simply thou. Banker. But the secret of it was, that Do not disturb the plain customs of the Banker with his ducats, helped the Flyeln with the fooleries of a German finance minister and the prosperitymaster of ceremonies and dealer in bringing war minister in their straits compliments: it makes a disagreeable for money. On the spot, then, the useful discord in our ears. Imagine to thy- Banker was addressed and designated self, that thou art two hundred years, as the most nobly born Baron. This or two hundred miles, away from Ger- illumination of the Germans -- this many and Europe, and living again in mockery of nobility, has spread in a a natural world, -somewhere, if you few years much further than thou please, in the good old times of the believest. But I hope as the nobility Odyssey."

of birth comes to be regarded among "Well, Olivier, you have managed to you as void, the nobility of mind will be Thou and Thou, with so worthy a be much more legitimate and suffiwoman, that no one need be request. cient.” ed twice; and as to thee, Baroness, The Baroness, in order to put her then

infant to rest, and to prepare a cham“Once more hold!” cried Olivier, ber for me, left us with the children. laughing loudly between each word, Olivier led me through his garden, “thy Baroness agrees with thou, about whose beds were filled with the choias well as thy French frock and shorn cest flowers. About a fountain, there beard agrees with the name of Patro- stood on high pedestals of black stone, clus. My peasants are no more bond- white marble busts with inscriptions. servants but freemen; I and my wife I read there: Socrates, Cincinnatus, are no more nor less barons than they Columbus, Luther, Bartholomew Las

Call my Amelia, as everybody Casas, Rousseau, Franklin, and Peter names her here, Mother—the noblest the Great. title of a wife-or Madam."

“ I see thou still livest in good com


* The Germans only use thou to persons with whom they are on intimate terms.

« AnteriorContinuar »