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words before the figure leaped upon him like a tiger on its prey, and tried to hurl him to the ground.
It did not succeed, however. The page seized the man in his arms, almost without yielding a step, and a silent struggle commenced, about which he never liked to speak afterwards, for he felt from the commencement that his assailant was the stronger, and determined on having his enemy's life for his own; he did not hope to gain the victory, and he was too proud to call for assistance.
His only good fortune was, that his assailant must have walked some distance in the cold, so that his fingers were benumbed, and he was not able to draw his dagger, which the baron plainly felt beneath his dress, when he pressed him closely to him in the death-struggle.
Thus they at length fell to the ground, one above the other alternately, so that the page felt the warm breath, which streamed out from behind his enemy's silken mask. At length, however, the page managed to draw his dagger, and, in his unbounded fury, was about to strike, when his opponent suddenly quitted his hold, and whispered, as if ashamed to beg his life—“ Bilgram, I am Revel; I give myself up on my word, but listen to me!”
The page hesitated a moment before withdrawing the dagger from his breast ; but a sudden attack of trembling assailed him; he loosed his hold and rose to his feet. Quite exhausted, he leaned against the wall, the strangest thoughts fitted across his mind, like swallows round a church tower, where one is no sooner gone than another arrives ; until, at length, the duke's words occurred to him, “ He must not come again.”
His opponent had, in the mean while, also risen, and they stood opposite one another for a while, gasping for breath.
At length the page said, “I must know what you do here, if I am to help myself and you."
* A short question—a short reply," the count rejoined ; “ I love the Princess Marie, and she loves me in return. They have shut her up, so that I can only reach her by employing this superstitious tale. She and I are both lost if you speak.”
“ She loves him, and she is lost.” A sharp pain pierced the page's heart; but after long reflection, he said, “ You have broken your oath to your master, Revel-I despise you for it—and yet I will risk my word and trust to yours. Promise me, on your honour, that you will never attempt this again, and never tell the princess who or what is the cause of it, then I will save you for her sake.”
The count promised. The baron led him hurriedly into the anteroom, where he changed his own dress, and silently intimated to the count, that he should put on the grenadier's cloak and follow him. Then he accompanied him to the gate, and said to me, when I had let the count out, and was again fastening the bolt—" The Count von Revel's name must not be entered in the book; everything else is in order, Mathies. I will go and have a sound sleep : mind that I am called precisely at five o'clock, for I must take in my report at six."
He must have been tired to death, he looked so sad, and his eyes were quite dim. In consequence, I did not ask him any further questions, but wished him “ Good night.”
The next morning the duke admitted him directly, though his highness had hardly left his bed, and received him with a meaning inquiry, " And now, my dear baron !”.
“ It will not return, your highness,” the page replied, and was then silent.
“ But what was it ?” the duke asked, with evident pleasure.
“ It will not return, your highness,” the page repeated. “I pledge you my word. That I may be allowed to pass over the details is a favour which my prince, as first gentleman of the land, will not refuse me, for my honour closes my lips."
The duke was astonished ; still thoughts may have occurred to him, to which he did not like to give way, and which it were better to veil in mystery. He walked hurriedly to the page, and said : “ Your word is enough—have you any favour to ask ? If so, it is granted you beforehand.”
“ Your highness's kindness has prevented a request which I hardly dared ask. i hear that the 2nd Regiment of Hussars has received orders to march, and I should desire to be appointed to it."
The prince looked at him, and nodded; he, however, made no other reply to this request, although he dismissed the page very kindly.
In the anteroom, Count von Revel was waiting as usual. He and the page saluted one another, because the other adjutants were standing around; but from that time they never spoke again, nor, I believe, did they ever meet.
Now they are all gone, and their restlessness has become peace.
The best of them all death carried off first. The page entered on the campaign as captain, and returned a colonel and a cripple. There was no "hope that the invalid would recover, although the duke did everything in his power to save him. The colonel stopped one summer with us in Monplaisir, and the duke entrusted him to my care. I do not think, though, that he would have lasted so long had not Queen Marie been paying a visit to her father at the time. He only lived by the sunshine of the heavens and the light of her eyes, and when the brown leaves fell, they fell upon a grave.
The queen was never happy; the Count von Revel alone enjoyed himself all his life, for he understood, better than any one else, how to be cautious and careless at the same time, and that is always the safest on slippery ground. At last they say he became a Catholic, and according to the old proverb this would be very possible. Well! God be merciful to his soul! I never could bear him.
THE STORY OF PALE SOPHIE. I POSSESS an old telescope, through which I must look a long time before seeing anything except all the colours of the rainbow ; but all at once I get the right focus, and the furthest tree stands so near and distinctly before me, that I might fancy I could catch hold of it.
It seems to me always as if I were looking through this telescope when I think of my childhood's years ; all rises before my mind in a thousand various hues, till a few things, important and unimportant, Dec.-VOL. XCIX. NO. CCCXCVI.
stand out as distinctly, as if I had seen and experienced them but yesterday.
My clearest recollection is of a tall, veiled woman, who lived for a time near us in a bark hut in the beech wood behind the forest, which the father of our deceased duke had built, but which was afterwards pulled down, although it formed a capital shooting pavilion, as the family did not like to be reminded by it of what had occurred there.
Round this hut was a plantation of beech-trees encircling a flowergarden, which the forester at the pheasantry had to keep in order
On this account we children were strictly forbidden to pass through the gate; but much more so when the stranger resided there. As, however, she hardly ever quitted the garden, and when she did so was closely veiled, we were almost afraid of her, and did not know what answer to give, when she accidentally met us and spoke to us in the forest.
One afternoon, however, I was standing, without thinking of the lady, in the middle of the road between the forestry and the pavilion, so busily engaged in plaiting a new lash to my whip, that I did not see her approaching, until she roughly seized me by the arm and thrust me on one side, saying, “ Away, away! when you are grown up, you will also be my enemy!”
I stood as if struck by lightning; I did not shout for assistance, nor cry, nor run away; I could only look at her-but what I saw, I shall never forget were I to live a hundred years longer.
Thus must a Bad Angel look when driven from Heaven. Her broad forehead, her fiery black eyes, are still vividly before me; her face was as pale as marble, and the colour had deserted her pouting lips!
She had been long gone, and still I saw her constantly before me; it was all so extraordinary to me, that when I reached home I could not even tell what had happened to me, but hid my tearful face in my mother's lap, as she sat in the front of the house, with a party of friends.
I did not learn the explanation of it until I was grown up, and made assistant to my father, with a prospect of succeeding him at the pheasantry
My old gentleman, when he told a story, liked to draw a moral from it, and thus, one day as we were passing the hedge behind which the pavilion formerly stood, and where a plantation is now formed, he said, “Whenever I pass here, I must always laugh at our clergyman, who continually preaches that misfortune brings a blessing. It is, however, only healthy for those who know the advantages of being patient. But when misfortune presses too heavily on a man, and more especially on a young one, so that he at length gives way to despair, we may consider it a blessing if he bears up manfully against it, and an evil spirit does not gain possession of him and convert a good heart into a bad one. Had the clergyman only seen what I experienced within this hedge, he would be glad to give up his cavilling."
“ How so?” I asked.
You must be well aware (he rejoined), that Duke Maximilian, the father of our present sovereign, was well in years before he married, and in consequence, at his death, Prince Leopold was appointed regent, as the crown prince was still a minor.
Originally it had been Duke Maximilian's intention never to marry,
for he was a very easy gentleman, and did not possess the slightest ambition. His brother Leopold, who was at least twenty years younger, and in the prime of life, he determined should be his successor, for he was married, and afforded every prospect of having a large family, although his wife had, till now, only made him the happy father of two daughters.
But these plans were all converted into water when it was proved, by the story I am going to tell you, how unhappily Prince Leopold lived with his wife, because he was faithless and she jealous. In their immediate neighbourhood this dissension was, naturally, well known; but no open breach took place as long as the prince lived at his chateau of Scharffeneck, for he was very fond of sporting, and probably did not care to reside under the immediate surveillance of his brother and lord in the residence.
At that time I was attached to the forestry of Scharffeneck. We foresters, however, did not live in the chateau, but about two miles off, at Wurzach, where you only stayed till your fifth year, because at that time we were removed to the pheasantry.
When there was nothing doing in planting or shooting, this Wurzach was the most tedious place in the world to live in. Besides ourselves, there was only one educated man, the clergyman Geier, and he was not accessible, for he played the pietist, and considered our profession sufficiently damnable ; besides, his large family claimed the greater part of his time, although at present all cares for them were removed. He had only a boy and a girl left at home, his other daughters were all well married, and one supported the other so powerfully that they were all highly esteemed, and I did not dare say openly how much their eternal humility and their eternal tenderness disgusted me.
This clerical haughtiness pleased me the less the more I saw of it, so that at last the parson and myself only met when business brought us together; and once each year at the Feast of the Fountain, when we, according to old custom, were bound to be merry together.
This festival took place every year on the third holiday after Whitsuntide, on which all, young and old, great and small, came together, from a circle of ten miles, in Wurzach, so that frequently 2000 people congregated in this narrow mountain gorge.
In the first place, the trough was cleansed at an early hour, which begins at the end of the village, and was purchased from the peasants a hundred years or more back by the seigneurie, to feed the fountains at the chateau of Scharffeneck. Then the lads, who kept the source clean, fetched their present from the chateau, and spent it again directly. It was the custom that these fellows should have fools' holiday on this day, to do what they pleased, and say what they liked, without any one finding the least cause of offence in it. In remembrance of the first workmen who had formed the watercourse, and had stood for days in wet and dirt, it was the fashion that the lads should wear their oldest clothes, put on masks, take branches of May in their hands, and march with a band of music through the village and over the spring meadow. This caused much laughter, for here and there there would be one among them whose tongue was not properly hung, and who could not make use of his mother wit; but all of them had sense enough to lay hold of the young girls they met, and to steal a kiss from them.
The parson preached most zealously every year on the preceding day against this immoral custom, and yet always appeared most punctually at the feast, which the bailiff gave at the Lion; he also came regularly with his youngest children on his arm down upon the meadow, in order to meet his relations, or because he prided himself that his presence kept the lads within proper bounds. No doubt he also remembered that he had found his daughters husbands at this festival, although they had no fortune except a pretty face, and the linen they had spun for themselves.
He always had a new reason for his appearance. On this occasion he had no necessity to search far. He knew, when he met me at table, that I had already had my appointment to the pheasantry in my pocket, and only intended to let the holidays pass before leaving my present abode. I was very well aware that he was delighted to get rid of me, and I consequently almost laughed in his face when he assured me that he had only come down to be merry with me for the last time. The hypocrite!
But wine makes up many differences: we drank together, and after dinner I even went with him down to the meadow, when the pranks and dances of the disguised lads were already in full swing.
When we had been standing there a little while, the parson's youngest daughter came towards us and took him by the arm.
I hardly knew her again. The last time I had seen her she was a halfgrown thing, who would probably grow into a tall and pretty girl, to judge by the graceful feet and hands which peeped out from her faded and outgrown calico frock. Formerly Sophie had been as shy and timid as a roe: now she had come back, after stopping for three-quarters of a year with her sister, the wife of the farmer on the Scharffeneck estate, and saluted me as boldly as if she had been a countess. To tell the truth, though, she had grown into a very beautiful girl.
From our first acquaintance I had liked to tease the girl, for she was the only one of the family who had any sense about her-loved pleasure merely because it was pleasure, and had not always the Scripture in her mouth. Consequently I did not suffer myself to be daunted by her ceremonious manner, but said, laughingly, “You have learned good manners in the poultry-yard, Sophiechen: that is all very good and proper ; but you must remember that even princesses do not behave haughtily to their old acquaintances."
The rogue peeped out from every dimple in her face, and she was just going to open her ruddy lips to answer me, when one of the masked lads came out of the throng, embraced her, and kissed her delicious lips. He disappeared again like the wind, for the whole band seemed joined in the plot, and laughed loudly, while the pastor, pale with anger, threatened the wicked fellow with the wrath of God.
Their laughter, however, soon came to a speedy end : for one of the twelve maskers (for this was the number from the village) suddenly perceived that they were all together, and yet they had seen the culprit just before run down the meadow and disappear in the bushes. He must, consequently, be a supernumerary. This altered the whole affair : for