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Title: A Conspiracy of the Carbonari
Author: Mühlbach, L. (Luise), 1814-1873
Language: English
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A CONSPIRACY OF THE CARBONARI

BY

LOUISE MÜHLBACH,

_Author of "Berlin and Sans Souci," "Frederick the Great and His Family,"
etc., etc._

TRANSLATED BY

MARY J. SAFFORD.

F. TENNYSON NEELY,
114 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK.
1896.


COPYRIGHT, 1896

BY F. TENNYSON NEELY

Transcriber's note: Minor typos in text corrected,
and footnotes moved to end of text.



A CONSPIRACY OF THE CARBONARI.



CHAPTER I.

AFTER ESSLINGEN.


It was the evening of the 22d of May, 1809, the fatal day inscribed in
blood-stained letters upon the pages of history, the day which brought to
Napoleon the first dimming of his star of good fortune, to Germany, and
especially to Austria, the first ray of dawn after the long and gloomy
night.

After so many victories and triumphs; after the battles of Tilsit,
Austerlitz, and Jena, the humiliation of all Germany, the triumphal days
of Erfurt, when the great imperial actor saw before him a whole "parterre
of kings;" after a career of victory which endured ten years, Napoleon on
the 22d of May, 1809, had sustained his first defeat, lost his first
battle. True, he had made this victory cost dearly enough. There had been
two days of blood and carnage ere the conflict was decided, but now, at the
close of these two terrible days, the fact could no longer be denied: the
Austrians, under the command of the Archduke Charles, had vanquished the
French at Aspern, though they were led by Napoleon himself.

Terrible indeed had been those two days of the battle of Aspern or
Esslingen. The infuriated foes hurled death to and fro from the mouths of
more than four hundred cannon. The earth shook with the thunder of their
artillery, the stamping of their steeds; the air resounded with the shouts
of the combatants, who assailed each other with the fury of rage and hate,
fearing not death, but defeat; scorning life if it must be owed to the
conqueror's mercy, neither giving nor taking quarter, and in dying, praying
not for their own souls, but for the defeat and humiliation of the enemy!

Never since those years of battle between France and Austria has the
fighting been characterized by such animosity, such fierce fury on both
sides. Austria was struggling to avenge Austerlitz, France not to permit
the renown of that day to be darkened.

"We will conquer or die!" was the shout with which the Austrians, for the
twenty-first time, had begun the battle against the enemy, who pressed
forward across three bridges from the island of Lobau in the middle of the
Danube, and whom the Austrians hated doubly that day, because another
painful wound had been dealt by the occupation of their capital--beautiful,
beloved Vienna--the expulsion of the emperor and his family, and the
possession of the German city.

Thus conquest to the Austrians meant also the release of Vienna from the
mastery of the foe, the opening the way to his capital to the Emperor
Francis, who had fled to Hungary.

If the French were vanquished, it meant the confession to the world that
the star of Napoleon's good fortune was paling; that he, too, was merely a
mortal who must bow to the will of a higher power; it meant destroying the
faith of the proud, victorious French army in its own invincibility.

These were the reasons which rendered the battle so furious, so
bloodthirsty on both sides; which led the combatants to rend each other
with actual pleasure, with exulting rage. Each yawning wound was hailed
with a shout of joy by the person who inflicted it; each man who fell dying
heard, instead of the gentle lament of pity, the sigh of sympathy, the
jeering laugh, the glad, victorious shout of the pitiless foe.

Then Austrian generals, eagerly encouraging their men by their own example
of bravery, pressed forward at the head of their troops. The Archduke
Charles, though ill and suffering, had himself lifted upon his horse, and,
in the enthusiasm of the struggle, so completely forgot his sickness that
he grasped the standard of a wavering battalion, dashed forward with it,
and thereby induced the soldiers to rush once more, with eager shouts of
joy, upon the foe.

More than ten times the village of Aspern was taken by the French, more
than ten times it was recaptured by the Austrians; every step forward was
marked by both sides with heaps of corpses, rivers of blood. Every foot of
ground, every position conquered, however small, was the scene of furious
strife. For the church in Aspern, the churchyard, single houses, nay, even
single trees, bore evidence of the furious assault of the enemies upon each
other; whole battalions went with exulting shouts to death.

On account of this intense animosity on both sides, this mutual desire for
battle thus stimulated to the highest pitch, the victory on the first day
remained undecided and the gathering darkness found the foes almost in the
same position which they had occupied at the beginning of the conflict. The
Austrians were still in dense masses on the shore of the Danube; the French
still occupied the island of Lobau, and their three bridges conveyed them
across to the left bank of the Danube to meet the enemy.

But the second day, after the most terrible butchery, the most desperate
struggle, was to see the victory determined.

It belonged to the Austrians, to the Archduke Charles. He had decided it by
a terrible expedient--the order to let burning vessels drift down the
Danube against the bridges which connected the island of Lobau with the
left shore. The wind and the foaming waves of the river seemed on this day
to be allies of the Austrians; the wind swept the ships directly upon the
bridges, densely crowded with dead bodies, wounded men, soldiers, horses,
and artillery; the quivering tongues of flame seized the piles and blazed
brightly up till everything upon them plunged in terrible, inextricable
confusion down to the surging watery grave below.

At the awful spectacle the whole French army uttered cries of anguish, the
Austrians shouts of joy.

Vainly did Napoleon himself ride through the ranks, calling in the beloved
voice that usually kindled enthusiasm so promptly: "I myself ordered the
destruction of the bridges, that you might have no choice between glorious
victory or inevitable destruction."

For the first time his soldiers doubted the truth of his words and did not
answer with the exultant cheer, "_Vive l' Empereur_."

But they fought on bravely, furiously, desperately! And Napoleon, with his
pallid iron countenance, remained with his troops, to watch everything,
direct every movement, encourage his men, and give the necessary orders.
His generals and aids surrounded him, listening respectfully though with
gloomy faces to every word which fell, weighty and momentous as a sentence
of death, from the white, compressed lips. But a higher power than Napoleon
was sending its decrees of death even into the group of generals gathered
around the master of the world; cannon balls had no reverence for the
Cæsar's presence; they tore from his side his dearest friend, his faithful
follower, Marshal Lannes; they killed Generals St. Hilaire, Albuquerque and
d'Espagne, the leaders of his brave troops, the curassiers, three thousand
of whom remained that day on the battlefield; they wounded Marshal Massena,
Marshal Bessières, and six other valiant generals.

When evening came the battle was decided. Archduke Charles was the victor;
the French army was forced back to the island of Lobau, whose bridges had
been severed by the burning ships; the triumphant Austrians were encamped
around Esslingen and Aspern, whose unknown names have been illumined since
that day with eternal renown.

The island of Lobau presented a terrible chaos of troops, horses, wounded
men, artillery, corpses and luggage; the wounded and dying wailed and
moaned, the uninjured fairly shrieked and roared with fury. And, as if
Nature wished to add her bold alarum to the mournful dirge of men, the
storm-lashed waves of the Danube thundered around the island, dashed their
foam-crested surges on the shore, and, in many places, created crimson
lakes where, instead of boats, blood-stained bodies floated with yawning
wounds. It seemed as if the Styx had flowed to Lobau to spare the ferryman
Charon the arduous task of conveying so many corpses to the nether world,
and for the purpose transformed itself into a single vast funeral barge.

Napoleon, the victor of so many battles, the man before whom all Europe
trembled, all the kings of the world bowed in reverence and admiration; he
who, with a wave of his hand, had overturned and founded dynasties, was now
forced to witness all this--compelled to suffer and endure like any
ordinary mortal!

He sat on a log near the shore, both elbows propped on his knees, and his
pale iron face supported by his small white hands, glittering with
diamonds, gazing at the roaring waves of the Danube and the throng of human
beings who surrounded him.

Behind him, in gloomy silence, stood his generals--he did not notice them.
His soldiers marched before him--he did not heed them. But they saw him,
and turned from him to the mountains of corpses, to the moaning wounded
men, the pools of blood which everywhere surrounded them, then gazed once
more at him whom they were wont to hail exultingly as their hero, their
earthly god, and whom to-day, for the first time, they execrated; whom in
the fury of their grief they even ventured to accuse and to scorn.

But he did not hear. He heard naught save the voices in his own breast, to
whose gloomy words the wails and groans of the wounded formed a horrible
chorus.

Suddenly he rose slowly, and turning toward Marshal Bessières, who, with
his wounded arm in a sling, stood nearest to him, Napoleon pointed to the
river.

"To Ebersdorf!" he said, in his firm, imperious voice. "You will accompany
me, marshal. You too, gentlemen," he added, turning to the captured
Austrian General Weber, and the Russian General Czernitschef, who had
arrived at Napoleon's headquarters the day before the battle on a special
mission from the Czar Alexander, and been a very inopportune witness of his
defeat.

The two generals bowed silently and followed the emperor, who went hastily
down to the shore. A boat with four oarsmen lay waiting for him, and his
two valets, Constant and Roustan, stood beside the skiff to help the
emperor enter.

He thrust back their hands with a swift gesture of repulse, and stepped
slowly and proudly down into the swaying, rocking boat which was to bear
the Cæsar and his first misfortune to his headquarters, Castle Ebersdorf.
He darted a long angry glance at the foaming waves roaring around the
skiff, a glance before which the bravest of his marshals would have
trembled, but which the insensible waters, tossing and surging below,
swallowed as they had swallowed that day so many of his soldiers. Then,
sinking slowly down upon the seat which Roustan had prepared for him of
cushions and coverlets, he again propped his arms on his knees, rested his
face in his hands, and gazed into vacancy. The companions whom he had
ordered to attend him, and his two valets followed, and the boat put off
from the shore, and danced, whirling hither and thither, over the
foam-crested waves.

But amid the roar of the river, the plash of the dipping oars, was heard
the piteous wailing of the wounded, the loud oaths and jeers of the
soldiers who had rushed down to the shore, and, with clenched fists, hurled
execrations after the emperor, accusing him, with angry scorn, of perfidy
because he left them in this hour of misfortune.

Napoleon did not hear the infuriated shouts of his soldiery; he was
listening to the tempest, the waves, and the menacing voices in his own
breast.

Once only he raised himself from his bowed posture and again darted an
angry glance at the foaming water as if he wished to lash the hated element
with the look, as Xerxes had done with iron chains.

"The Danube, with its furious surges, and the storm with its mad power,
have conquered me," he cried in a loud, angry voice. "Ay, all Nature must
rise in rebellion and wrath to wrest a victory from me. Nature, not
Archduke Charles, has vanquished me!"

The waves roared and danced recklessly on, wholly unmindful of the
emperor's wrathful exclamation; they sang and thundered a poem of their
might, jeering him: "Beware of offending us, for we can avenge ourselves;
we hold your fate in our power. Beware of offending us, for we are bearing
you on our backs in a fragile boat, and the Cæsar and his empire weigh no
more than the lightest fisherman with his nets. Beware of offending us, for
you are nothing but an ordinary man; mortal as the poorest beggar, and, if
we choose, we will drag you down to our cold, damp grave. Beware of
offending us!" Did he understand the song of the mocking waves? Was that
why so deep a frown of wrath rested on his brow?

He again sank into his gloomy reverie, which no one ventured to
disturb--no one save the jeering surges.

Yet he seemed to think that some one addressed him, that some one whom he
must answer had spoken.

"Why, yes," he cried, shrugging his shoulders, "yes, it is true, I have
lost a battle! But when one has gained forty victories, it really is not
anything extraordinary if he _loses_ one engagement."[A]

No one ventured to answer this exclamation. The emperor did not seem to
expect it; perhaps he did not even know that any one had heard what he
answered the menacing voice in his own soul.

Now the boat touched the shore, where carriages were ready to convey the
emperor and his suite to Ebersdorf.

His whole staff, all his marshals and generals, were waiting for him before
the door of the castle. With bared heads, in stiff military attitude, they
received their lord and master, the august emperor, expecting a gracious
greeting. But he passed on without looking at them, without even saluting
them by a wave of his hand. They looked after him with wondering, angry
eyes, and, like the glittering tail of a comet, followed him into the
castle, up the steps, and into the hall.

But as they entered the reception-room where he usually talked with them,
Napoleon had already vanished in his private office, whose door swiftly
closed behind him.

The marshals and generals, aids and staff officers, still waited. The
emperor would surely return, they thought. He still had to give them his
commands for the next day, his orders concerning what was to be done on the
island of Lobau, what provision should be made for the care of the wounded,
the sustenance of the uninjured, the rescue of the remains of his army.

But they waited in vain; Napoleon did not return to them, gave them no
orders. After half an hour's futile expectation, Roustan glided through the
little door of the private room into the hall, and, with a very important
air, whispered to the listening officers that the emperor had gone to bed
immediately, and had scarcely touched the pillows ere he sunk into a deep
sleep.

Yes, the Emperor Napoleon was sleeping, and his generals glided on tiptoe
out of the hall and discussed outside the measures which they must now
adopt on their own account to rescue the luckless fragment of the army from
the island of Lobau, and make arrangements for building new bridges.

Yes, the Emperor Napoleon was sleeping! He slept all through the night,
through the broad light of the next day--slept when his whole staff had
gone to Lobau--slept when bodies of his infuriated guards rushed into the
castle and, unheeding the emperor's presence, plundered the cellars and
storerooms[B]--slept when, in the afternoon of that day, his marshals and
generals returned to Castle Ebersdorf, in order at last to receive the
emperor's commands.

They would not, could not believe that the commander-in-chief was still
sleeping It seemed perfectly impossible that he, the illustrious
strong-brained Cæsar, could permit himself to be subjugated by the common
petty need of human nature in these hours when every second's delay might
decide the destiny of many thousands. This sleep could be no natural one;
perhaps the emperor, exhausted by fatigue and mental excitement, had fallen
into a stupor; perhaps he was sleeping never to wake again. They must see
him, they must convince themselves. They called Roustan and asked him to
take them to the emperor's couch.

He did not refuse, he only entreated them to step lightly, to hold their
breath, in order not to wake the emperor; then gliding before them to the
room, he drew back the _portières_ of the chamber. The officers followed,
stealing along on tiptoe, and gazed curiously, anxiously, into the quiet,
curtained room. Yes, there on the low camp-bed, lay the emperor. He had not
even undressed, but lay as if on parade in full uniform, with his military
cloak flung lightly across his feet. He had sunk down in this attitude
twenty-two hours before, and still lay motionless and rigid.

But he was sleeping! It was not stupor, it was not death, it was only sleep
which held him captive. His breath came slowly, regularly; his face was
slightly flushed, his eyes were calmly closed. The emperor was sleeping!
His generals need feel no anxiety; they might return to the drawing-room
with relieved hearts. They did so, stealing noiselessly again through the
private office into the hall, whose door had been left ajar that the noise
might not rouse the sleeper.

Yet, once within the hall, they looked at each other with wondering eyes,
astonished faces.

He was really asleep; he could sleep.

He was untroubled, free from care. Yet if the Archduke Charles desired it,
the whole army was lost. He need only remain encamped with his troops on
the bank of the Danube to expose the entire force to hunger, to
destruction.

As they talked angrily, with gloomy faces, they again gazed at each other
with questioning eyes, and looked watchfully around the drawing-room. No
one was present except the group of marshals, generals and colonels. No
one could overhear them, no one could see how one, Colonel Oudet, raised
his right hand and made a few strange, mysterious gestures in the air.

Instantly every head bowed reverently, every voice whispered a single word:
"Master."

"My brothers," replied Colonel Oudet in a low tone, "important things are
being planned, and we must be ready to see them appear in tangible form at
any moment."

"We are prepared," murmured all who were present. "We await the commands of
our master."

"I have nothing more to say, except that you are to hold yourselves ready;
for the great hour of vengeance and deliverance is approaching. The great
Society of the Carbonari, whose devoted members you are--"

"Whose great and venerated head you are," replied General Massena, with a
low bow.

"The Society of the Carbonari," Colonel Oudet continued, without heeding
Massena's words, "the Society of the Carbonari watches its faithless
member, the renegade son of the Revolution, the Emperor Napoleon, and will
soon have an opportunity to avenge his perfidy. Keep your hands on your
swords and be watchful; strive to spread the spirit of our order more and
more through the army; initiate more and more soldiers into our league as
brothers; be mindful of the great object: we will free France from the
Cæsarism forced upon her. Look around you in your circles and seek the
hand which will be ready to make the renegade son of the society vanish
from the world."

"He is the scourge of our native land," said one of the generals. "His
restless ambition constantly plunges us into new wars, rouses the hatred of
all Europe against France, and this hatred will one day burst into bright
flames and plunge France into destruction."

"He is destroying the prosperity of the country for generations," said
another; he is robbing wives of their husbands, fathers of their sons,
labor of sturdy arms. The fields lie untilled, the workshops are deserted,
trade is prostrate, and all this to gratify a single man's desire for war."

"Therefore it is necessary to make this one man harmless," said a third.
"If no hand is found to slay him, there are arms strong enough to seize
him, bind him, and deliver him to those whose prison doors are always open
to receive the hated foe who blockades their harbors denies their goods
admittance to France and all the countries he has conquered and everywhere
confronts them as their bitter enemy."

"Yes, England is ready and watchful," whispered another. "She promises
those who have the courage to dare the great deed, a brilliant reward; she
offers a million florins and perpetual concealment of their names, as soon
as the Emperor Napoleon is delivered to her."

"Then let us seek men who are bold, ambitious, resolute, and money-loving
enough to venture such a deed," said Colonel Oudet. "Form connections with
those who hate him; be cautious, deliberate and beware of traitors."

"We will be cautious and deliberate," they all replied submissively; "we
will beware of traitors."

"But while determining to free France from the ambitious conqueror who is
leading her to destruction," said Colonel Oudet, "we must consider what is
to be done when the great work is accomplished, when the tyrant is removed.
It is evident to you all that the present condition of affairs ought not to
last. France now depends upon a single life; a single person forms her
dynasty, and when he sinks into the grave, France will be exposed to
caprice, to chance; every door to intrigue will be opened. We must secure
France from every peril. We have now seen, for the first time, that the
proud emperor is only a mere mortal. Had the bullet which wounded his foot
at Regensburg struck his head, France would probably be, at the present
moment, in the midst of civil war, and the Legitimists, the Republicans,
and the adherents of Napoleon would dispute the victory with each other. We
must try to avert the most terrible of all misfortunes, civil war; the
emperor is not merely mortal; we do not merely have to consider his death,
but we must also know what is to happen in case our plan succeeds and he is
placed in captivity. We must have ready the successor, the successor who
will at once render the Republic and the return of the Bourbons alike
impossible. Do any of you know a successor thus qualified?"

"I know one," replied General Marmont.

"And I! And I! And I!"

"General Marmont," said Oudet, "you spoke first. Will you tell us the name
of the person who seems to you worthy to be Napoleon's successor?"

"I do not venture to speak until the head of the Carbonari has named the
man whom _he_ has chosen."

"Then you did not hear me request you to speak," said Oudet, in a tone of
stern rebuke. "Speak, Marmont, but it will be better to exercise caution
and not let the walls themselves hear what we determine. So form a circle
around me, and let one after another put his lips to my ear and whisper the
name of him who should be Napoleon's successor."

Marshals and generals obeyed the command and formed a close circle around
Oudet, whose tall, slender figure towered above them all, and whose
handsome pale face, with its enthusiastic blue eyes, formed a strange
contrast to the grave, defiant countenances which encircled him.

"Marmont, do you begin!" said Oudet, in his gentle, solemn tones.

The general bent close to Oudet and whispered something into his ear, then
he stepped back and made way for another, who was followed by a third, and
a fourth.

"My brothers," said Oudet, after all had spoken, "my brothers, I see with
pleasure that the same spirit, the same conviction rules among you. You
have all uttered the same name; you have all said that Eugene Beauharnais,
the Viceroy of Italy, would be the fitting and desired successor of
Napoleon. I rejoice in this unanimity, and, in my position as one of the
heads of the great society, I give your choice my approval. The invisible
ones--the heads who are above us all, and from whom I, like the other three
chiefs of the league, receive my orders--the invisible ones have also
chosen Eugene Beauharnais for the future emperor of France. Thereby the
succession would be secured, and as soon as, by the emperor's death or
imprisonment, the throne of France is free, we will summon Eugene de
Beauharnais to be emperor of the French. May God grant His blessing upon
our work and permit us soon to find the hands we need to rid France of her
tyrant."

At that moment the door opening into the emperor's study, which had
remained ajar, was flung open and Napoleon stood on the threshold. His
iron face, which his officers had just seen in the repose of sleep, was now
again instinct with power and energy; his large eyes were fixed upon his
generals with an expression of strange anger, and seemed striving to read
the very depths of their hearts; his thin lips were firmly compressed as if
to force back an outburst of indignation which the gloomy frown on his brow
nevertheless revealed.

But the wrathful, threatening expression soon vanished from the emperor's
countenance, and his features resumed their cold, impenetrable expression.

He moved swiftly forward several steps and greeted with a hasty nod the
officers who had all bowed respectfully before him, and stood motionless in
absolute silence.

"General Bertrand," said the emperor, in his sonorous, musical voice, "you
will proceed at once to the island of Lobau to make preparations for the
great bridge-building which must be commenced at once and completed within
a week. The restoration and strengthening of the bridges which connect the
island of Lobau and the other little islands with the right bank of the
Danube is our principal task for the moment. Be mindful of that, general,
and act accordingly. General Massena, you will undertake with me the
principal direction of this bridge-building, and accompany me daily to the
island of Lobau. Bertrand will direct the building of the four firm bridges
which will connect Lobau with the shore of the Danube. We will select the
places for six bridges of boats which must also be thrown across. To
prevent interruption, the Austrians must be occupied, and Generals Fouchet
and Roguet will therefore post batteries of fifty cannon and bomb-proof
storehouses for ammunition, in order not only to keep the enemy from the
left bank, but also to drive him out of all the islands in the Danube. You
will all take care to execute my orders with the utmost rapidity and
punctiliousness. The Austrians disputed the victory with us at Esslingen;
in their arrogance they will perhaps even go so far as to assert that
_they_ obtained it; so I will give them a battle in which the victory will
be on my side so undoubtedly that the Austrians must bow without resistance
beneath its heavy, imperious hand. The bridge-building is the first and
most necessary condition of this conquest. It must be carried on swiftly,
cautiously, secretly--the enemy must not suspect where the bridges will be
erected; all the portions of the structures must be made on the island of
Lobau, then the bridges must appear out of nothingness, like a miracle
before the astonished eyes of the foe. These bridges, gentlemen, will be
the road for us all to gain new laurels, win fresh victories, and surround
the immortal fame of our eagles with new glory. I went to Germany to
chastise and force into submission and obedience the insolent German
princes who wished to oppose me. I know that they are conspiring, that
their treacherous designs are directed toward robbing France of her
sovereign, who was summoned to his authority by the will of the French
nation. But they, like all who venture to rebel against me, must learn
that God has placed in my hand the sword of retribution and of vengeance,
and that it will crush those who blasphemously seek to conspire against me
and dispute my power. Austria has done this, Prussia would fain attempt it,
but I will deter Prussia by chastising Austria. To work, gentlemen! In six
weeks, at latest, we must give Austria a decisive battle which will make it
depend solely on my will whether I permit the house of Hapsburg to reign
longer or bury it in the nonentity of inglorious oblivion!"

After the emperor, standing among his silent generals, had spoken in a
voice which rose louder and louder till it finally echoed like menacing
thunder through the hall, he nodded a farewell, by a haughty bend of the
head, and returned to his office, whose door he now not merely left ajar,
but closed with a loud bang.

With his hands behind his back, an angry expression upon his face, and a
frowning brow, the emperor paced up and down his room, absorbed in gloomy
thought. Sometimes a flash of indignation illumined his face, and he raised
his arm with a threatening gesture, as if, like a second Jupiter, to hurl
back into the depths the Titans who dared to rise to his throne.

"To appoint a successor," he muttered in a fierce, threatening tone, "they
dare to think, to busy themselves with that. The ingrates! It is I who gave
them fame, honor, titles, wealth; they are already cogitating about my
death--my successor! It is a conspiracy which extends throughout the whole
army. I know it. I was warned in Spain against the plots of the Carbonari,
and the caution has been repeated here. And I must keep silence. I cannot
punish the traitors, for that would consign the majority of my generals to
the ax of the executioner. But I will give them all a warning example. I
will intimidate them, let them have an intimation that I am aware of their
treacherous plans."

He sank down into the armchair which stood before his writing-desk, took a
pen-knife and began to mark and cut the arm of the chair with as much zeal
and perseverance as if the object in view was to accomplish some useful and
urgent task. Then, when the floor was covered with tiny chips, and the
black, delicately carved wood of the old-fashioned armchair was marked
with white streaks and spots, the emperor hurled the knife down and rose
hastily from his seat.

"This Colonel Oudet must die," he said, each word falling slowly and
impressively from his lips. "I cannot crush all the limbs, but I will make
the head fall, and that will paralyze them. Yes, this Colonel Oudet must
die!"

Then, as if the sentence of death which he had just uttered had relieved
his soul of an oppressive burden, and lightened his heart, the gloomy
expression vanished from his face, which was now almost brightened by a ray
of joy.

Seizing the silver hand-bell, he rang it violently twice. Instantly the
door leading into his sleeping-room opened and Roustan, gliding in, stood
humbly and silently awaiting the emperor's orders.

Napoleon, with a slight nod, beckoned to him to approach, and when
Roustan, like a tiger-cat, noiselessly reached his side with two swift
bounds, the emperor gazed with a long, searching look into the crafty,
smiling face of his Mameluke.

"So you listened to the conversation between the generals?" asked the
emperor.

"I don't know, sire," said Roustan, shaking his head eagerly. "I probably
did not understand everything, for they spoke in low tones, and sometimes I
lost the connection. But I heard them talking about my illustrious emperor
and master, so, as your majesty meanwhile had awaked, I thought it
advisable to inform you that the generals were having a conversation in the
drawing-room, because your majesty might perhaps desire to take part in
it."

"You did right, Roustan," said the emperor, with the pleasant smile that
won every heart; "yes, you did right, and I will reward you for it. You can
go to Bourrienne and have him pay you a hundred gold pieces."

"Oh, sire," cried Roustan, "then I shall be very happy, for I shall have a
hundred portraits of my worshiped emperor."

"Which you will doubtless scatter to the four winds quickly enough, you
spendthrift," exclaimed Napoleon. "But listen, you rogue: besides my
hundred gold portraits, I'll give you a bit of advice which is worth more
than the gold coins. Forget everything that you have heard to-day, beware
of treasuring in your memory even a single word of the generals, or
recollecting that you have called my attention to it."

"Sire," replied Roustan, with an expression of astonishment, "Sire, I
really do not know what your majesty is talking about, and what I could
have said or heard. I only know that my gracious emperor and master has
given me a hundred gold napoleons, and present happiness has so overpowered
me, so bewildered my senses that I have lost my memory."

The emperor laughed, and as a special proof of his favor pinched the
Mameluke's ear so hard that the latter with difficulty concealed his
suffering under a smile of delight.



CHAPTER II.

LEONORE DE SIMONIE.


Napoleon's word was fulfilled! Scarcely two months had passed when he
avenged the battle of Aspern on Austria, and twined fresh laurels of
victory around his brow. On the 6th of July a conflict occurred which
completed Austria's misfortunes and wrested from her all the advantages
which the victory of Aspern had scarcely won.

The fight of Wagram gave Austria completely into the hands of the victor,
made Napoleon again master of the German empire, compelled the Emperor
Francis and his whole family to seek refuge in Hungary, and yielded Vienna
and its environs to the conqueror's will. The French imperial army, amid
the clash of military music, again entered Vienna, whose inhabitants were
forced to bow their heads to necessity in gloomy silence, and submit to
receiving and entertaining their victorious foes as guests in their homes.
The Emperor Napoleon selected Schönbrunn for his residence, and seemed
inclined to rest comfortably there after the fresh victory won at Wagram.
It had indeed been a victory, but it had cost great and bloody sacrifices.
Thrice a hundred thousand men had confronted each other on this memorable
6th of July, 1809; eight hundred cannon had shaken the earth all day
incessantly with their terrible thunder, and the course of their balls was
marked on both sides with heaps of corpses. Both armies had fought with
tremendous fury and animosity, for the Austrians wished to add fresh
laurels to the fame just won at Aspern, the French to regain what the days
of Esslingen at least rendered doubtful: the infallibility of success, the
conviction that victory would ever be associated with their banners.

It was the fury of the conflict which made the victory uncertain. The
Austrians showed themselves heroes on the day of Wagram, and for a long
time it seemed as if victory would fall to them. But Napoleon, who seemed
to be indefatigable and tireless, who all day long did not leave his horse,
directing and planning everything himself, perceived in time the danger of
his troops and brought speedy and effective reinforcements to the already
yielding left wing of the army. But more than twenty thousand men on both
sides had fallen victims on this terrible field. Though Napoleon, in his
bulletins of victory, exultingly announced to the world another magnificent
triumph, France did not join enthusiastically as usual in the rejoicing of
the commander-in-chief, for she had been obliged to pay for the new laurels
with the corpses of too many thousands of her sons, and the pæans of
victory were drowned by the sighs and lamentations of so many thousand
orphaned children, widowed wives, and betrothed maidens.

Napoleon seemed to pay little heed to this; he was enjoying at Schönbrunn
his victory and his triumph; he gathered his brilliant staff around him,
gave superb entertainments, and by parades and reviews lured the Viennese
to Schönbrunn to witness the brilliant spectacle.

In Vienna, also, the conquerors arranged magnificent festivals, seeking to
win the favor of the conquered people by the amusements offered them. The
French governor-general of Vienna, Count Andreossy, zealously endeavored to
collect around him the remains of the Austrian aristocracy, attract the
society of the capital by elegant dinners, balls, and receptions, and since
the armistice of Znaim, which occurred soon after the battle of Wagram had
put an end to hostilities the Viennese appeared disposed to accept the
truce and attend the brilliant entertainments and pleasant amusements
offered by Count Andreossy.

The latter was not the only person who opened his drawing-rooms to the
Viennese; others soon followed; fashionable Parisian society seemed for
the time to have transferred its gay circle from Paris to Vienna; to make
in the German imperial capital propaganda for the gay, intellectual, and
brilliant circle of the imperial capital of France.

Beautiful women, distinguished by illustrious names, by wealth and charm,
suddenly appeared in Vienna, opened their drawing-rooms, and seemed to make
it their object to reconcile the hostile elements of French and German
society, smooth away contrasts and bring them together.

Among these ladies whom the victory brought to Vienna, the beautiful Madame
de Simonie was conspicuous as a brilliant and unusual person. She was
young, lovely, endowed with rare intellectual gifts, understood how to do
the honors of her drawing-room with the most subtle tact, and was better
suited than any one to act as mediator between the Viennese and the French,
since she herself belonged to both nations. A German by birth, she had
married a Frenchman, lived several years in Paris with her husband, one of
the richest bankers in the capital, and now, being widowed, had come to
Vienna in order, as she said, to divert the minds of her countrymen from
the great grief which the loss of their beloved capital caused them.

Beautiful Leonore de Simonie certainly appeared to be thoroughly in earnest
in her purpose to divert their minds from their great grief. Every evening
her drawing-rooms were thrown open for the reception of guests; every
evening all the generals, French courtiers, and people who belonged to
good society in France were present; every evening more and more Germans
and Viennese went to Madame de Simonie's, until it seemed as if she
afforded Viennese and Parisian society a place of meeting where, forgetting
mutual aversion and hatred, they associated in love and harmony.

To be a visitor at Madame de Simonie's therefore soon became a synonym of
aristocracy in the new fashionable society of Vienna, which was composed of
so many different elements. The foreigners who had come to the Austrian
capital, attracted by the renown of the French emperor, or led by
selfishness, strove with special earnestness to obtain the _entrée_ to
Madame de Simonie's drawing-room, for there they were sure of meeting those
whose acquaintance was profitable; by whose meditation they might hope to
obtain access to the presence of the French emperor.

The day before Baroness Leonore had given a brilliant entertainment. Until
a late hour of the night all the windows of the story which she occupied in
one of the palaces on the Graben were brightly lighted; the curious,
characterless poor people had gathered in the street to watch the carriages
roll up and away, and gaze at the windows whence the candles blazing in the
chandeliers shone down upon them, and behind whose panes they saw in swift
alternation so many gold-embroidered uniforms, so many showy ball dresses.

As has been said, it was a brilliant entertainment and the Baroness de
Simonie might well be content with it; for though the hostess she had also
been its queen. Every one, French as well as Austrians, Russians and
Italians, Hungarians and Poles, had offered her enthusiastic homage; had
expressed in glowing encomiums their greatful thanks for the magnificent
festival she had given.

She had been radiant, too, in grace and beauty yesterday evening. The
gayest jests were throned upon her scarlet lips, the proudest light had
sparkled in her large black eyes, the most radiant roses of youth had
bloomed on her delicate cheeks, and the long black tresses which, with
wonderful luxuriance, encircled her high white brow, had been to many the
Armida nets in which their hearts were prisoned.

But to-day, on the morning after this festival, all that was left of the
brilliant queen of the ball was a pale, exhausted young woman, who lay on
the divan with a sorrowful expression in her eyes, while ever and anon deep
sighs of pain escaped from her breast.

She was in her boudoir, whose equipments displayed French luxury and taste.
Everything about her bore the appearance of wealth, happiness, and
pleasure, yet her face was sad--yet Leonore de Simonie sighed--yet her lips
sometimes murmured words of lamentation, satiety, even bitter suffering.
But suddenly a ray of delight flitted over her face; a happy smile
brightened her pale features; and this was when, among the many letters the
servant had just brought to her, she discovered the little note which she
had just read and then, with passionate impetuosity, pressed to her lips.

"He will come, oh, he will come; he will be with me in an hour!" she
whispered, again glancing over the note with beaming, happy eyes, and then
thrusting it into her bosom.

"This is mine," she said softly; "my property; no one shall dispute it with
me, and--"

A tremor ran through every limb, a burning blush crimsoned her cheeks, then
yielded to a deep pallor--she had heard steps approaching in the
drawing-room outside, recognized the voice which called her name.

"He is coming!" she murmured. "It is he! My executioner is approaching to
begin the tortures of the rack afresh."

At that moment the door which led into the apartment really did open, and a
little gentleman, daintily and fashionably attired, entered.

"May I venture to pay my respects to Baroness de Simonie?" he asked,
pausing at the door and bowing low, with a smiling face.

Leonore did not answer. She lay motionless on the divan, her beautiful
figure outstretched at full length, her face calm and indifferent, her
large eyes uplifted with a dreamy expression to the ceiling.

"Madame la Baronne does not seem to have heard me," said the gentleman,
shrugging his shoulders. "I ventured to ask the question whether I could
pay my respects to you."

Still she did not move, did not turn her eyes toward him, but said in a
loud, distinct voice: "You see. We are alone! What is the use of playing
this farce?"

"Well," he cried, laughing, "your answer shows that we are really alone and
need no mask. Good-day, then, Leonore, or rather good-morning, for, as I
see, you are still in your dressing-gown and probably have just risen from
your couch."

"It was four o'clock in the morning when the guests departed and I could go
to rest," she said, still retaining her recumbent attitude.

"It is true, the entertainment lasted a very long time," he cried, dropping
unceremoniously into the armchair which stood beside the divan. "Moreover,
it is true that you were an admirable hostess and understood how to do the
honors of your house most perfectly. The gentlemen were all completely
bewitched by you, and, in my character of your uncle and social guide, I
received more clasps of the hand and embraces than ever before in my whole
life."

"I can imagine how much it amused you," she said coldly and indifferently.

"Yes," he cried, laughing, "I admit that it amused me, especially when I
thought what horror and amazement would fill these haughty aristocrats who
yesterday offered me their friendship, if they knew who and what we both
really were."

"I wish they did know," she said quietly.

"Heaven forbid!" he cried, starting up. "What put such a mad, preposterous
wish into your head?"

"I am bored," she replied. "I am weary of perpetually playing a farce."

"But how are we playing a farce?" he asked in astonishment. "We are trying
to make our fortune, or as the French more correctly express it, _Nous
corrigous notre fortune_. Why do you call it playing a farce?"

"Because we pretend to be what we are not, honest aristocrats."

"My dear, you are combining what is rarely put together in life; for you
see aristocratic people are rarely honest, and honest folk are seldom
aristocrats."

"But we are neither," she said quietly.

"The more renown for us that we appear to be both," he cried, laughing,
"and that no one suspects us. My dear Leonore seems to have an attack of
melancholy to-day, which I have never witnessed in her before, and which
renders me suspicious."

"Suspicious?" she asked, and, for the first time, turned her head slightly,
fixing her eyes with a questioning glance upon the old man who sat beside
her, nodding and smiling. "Suspicious! I don't know what you mean."

"Well, I really did not intend to say anything definite," he replied,
smiling. "I only meant that it is strange to see you suddenly so depressed
by your position, which hitherto so greatly amused you. And, because this
seemed strange, I sought--searching you know is a trait of human nature--I
sought the cause of this new mood."

"Do you think you have found it?" she asked carelessly.

"Perhaps so," he said, smiling. "The most clever and experienced woman may
be deluded by love, and suffer her reason to be clouded by sweet, alluring
visions."

"You mean that I have done so?"

"Yes, that is what I mean; but it gives me no further anxiety, for I have
confidence that your reason will soon conquer your heart. So I do not
grudge you the rare satisfaction of enjoying the bliss of being loved. Only
I warn you not to take the matter seriously and strive to make the dream a
reality."

"And if that should happen, what would you do?"

"I would be inexorable," he answered sternly. "I would tell who and what
you are."

She lay motionless; her face still retained its calm, indifferent
expression, only for a moment an angry flash darted from her eyes at the
old gentleman, but she lowered her lids over them, as if they must not
betray the secrets of her soul.

A pause followed, interrupted only by the slow, regular ticking of the
great Rococo clock which stood on the marble mantelpiece.

"You will not find it necessary to make such disclosures," Leonore said at
last, slowly and wearily, "for you are perfectly right, I shall never grant
love the mastery over my future. I know who I am, and that says everything.
It will never be requisite to communicate it to others."

"I am sure of it," he said kindly. "And now, my dear Leonore, let us say
nothing about our private affairs and pass on to business."

"Yes, let us do so," she answered quietly. "I am waiting for your
questions."

"Then first: what did Count Andreossy want, when he begged for an interview
so urgently yesterday evening?"

"You were listening?" she asked calmly.

"I heard it. I would gladly have listened to your conversation, but you
were malicious enough to grant him the interview in the little corner
drawing-room, which has but a single entrance. So it was impossible to
enter it unnoticed. Well, what did the count want?"

"He wanted to tell me that he loved me unutterably. He wanted to implore
the favor of accepting from him the _coupé_ with the two dapple-grays, in
which he drove me yesterday, and which I had praised."

"I hope that you granted the favor."

"I did. The equipage will be sent to-day."

"The dapple-grays are remarkably beautiful," said the old gentleman,
rubbing his hands contentedly. "They are worth at least a thousand florins,
and the _coupé_ is a model of elegance and beauty. The count received it
from Paris a fortnight ago. But how did you repay Andreossy for his regal
gift?"

"I told him that I detested him, and that he need never hope for my love."

"Yet you accepted his gift?" he asked, smiling.

"Yes. I accepted it because he entreated it as the first and greatest
favor, and because, after the deep sorrow I had caused him, I could not
help granting so small a boon."

"Magnificent!" he cried, laughing; "you talk like a reigning queen,
accepting gifts from her vassal. Then the count loves you passionately,
does he not?"

"He loves nothing except himself and his ambition. He would like to obtain
the title of prince from Napoleon."

"And he believes that you could aid him?"

"Indirectly, yes. If I help him to discover an affair which is of great
importance to the emperor, and for whose disclosure he could not fail to
reward Count Andreossy."

"What kind of an affair?"

"A conspiracy," she said quietly.

"A conspiracy? Against whom?"

"Against the Emperor Napoleon. Andreossy naturally believes me to be an
enthusiastic admirer of his emperor, and therefore he imparted to me his
fears and conjectures. The point in question is a widespread conspiracy,
which is said to exist in the French army and have assistants among the
Austrians."

"And _you_? Do you believe in this conspiracy?"

"I am on the track and perhaps shall soon be able to give the particulars.
Only it requires time and great caution and secrecy. Let me say no more
now, but I promise that I will be active and watchful. Only I make one
condition."

"What is that?"

"If I succeed in discovering this conspiracy, delivering the leaders into
your hands, giving the emperor undeniable proofs of the existence of this
plot, perhaps even saving his life by the disclosure; if I succeed, as I
said, in doing all this, then you will release me and permit me to leave
Vienna."

"To go where?"

"Wherever I wish, only alone, only not--"

"Only not with you, you wanted to say," he added, completing the sentence.
"My child, you see that I was right in remarking that a change had taken
place in you. Formerly you were glad to be with me; you never felt a wish
to leave me; formerly it was your ardent desire to occupy a brilliant
position in society, to be rich, aristocratic, brilliant, influential; and
now, when you have attained all this, now you are still unsatisfied, now
you long to resign all this again. But you will reflect, Leonore; you will
listen to reason. You will consider what we have suffered from the
pettiness, the pitifulness, the arrogance, and the selfishness of men. You
will remember how often you vowed, with angry tears, to avenge yourself
some day for all that we have suffered. Remember, child, remember! Have you
forgotten how we starved and pined, when your mother died, because we were
so poor that, in her illness, we could not give her the necessary nursing,
could not pay a doctor. Have you forgotten how we both knelt beside her
corpse and, with tears of grief and anger, swore to avenge the death of the
poor sufferer upon cruel men, base society?"

"I know it, father, yes, I know it," she answered, panting for breath, as
she slowly raised her hands and pressed them on her bosom as if to force
down the anguish within. "Ah, yes, I shall never forget it! That was the
hour when we both sold ourselves to hell."

"Until that time I had been an honest man," he continued. "I had toiled in
honest ways to obtain support for my family and myself. I had earnestly
endeavored to make my knowledge profitable--humble enough to be willing to
teach for the lowest price, to offer my services everywhere. But I could
get no employment; people wanted no teacher of music; everywhere I was
pitilessly turned away. During the mournful years of war which had closed
in upon us, no one wanted to spend his money for a useless art, which
perhaps could be used only for dirges. A music-teacher was the most
unnecessary and useless of mortals, and the music-teacher felt this, and
was ready to become wood-cutter, laborer, street-sweeper, anything to
procure food for his sick wife, his only child, to brighten their
impoverished, sorrowful lives with a ray of comfort. But it was all in
vain; the poor music-teacher found employment nowhere; he might have
starved in the midst of the great city, surrounded by wealthy people who,
with arrogant bearing, daily drove in brilliant equipages past him and his
misery. For his part, he would gladly have died, for what value could his
wretched, pitiful life have to him! But he had a daughter, the only
creature whom he loved; she was his happiness, his hope, and his joy. His
daughter must not starve; must not suffer from the wretched needs of
existence; must not crawl in the dust, while others, less beautiful, less
good, less gifted, enjoyed life in luxury and splendor. Chance betrayed an
important secret to the poor musician. He knew that on the one side a large
sum would be paid for his silence, on the other for his speech. He went and
sold himself! He went to warn some, to save others if it were possible."

"I know," she said, panting for breath. "You are speaking of the
assassination of the ambassadors in Rastadt."

"Yes, Count Lehrbach's valet, in a drunken spree, betrayed his master's
secret, so I learned the fine business, and could warn the envoys, could
warn Lehrbach to take stronger precautions. It was my first trial, and it
was well paid."

"The poor envoys paid for it with their lives," she cried, shuddering.

"That was their own fault. Why didn't they listen to my warning? Why didn't
they delay their departure until the following morning? I knew that in the
evening a whole detachment of Hussars was stationed on the highway which
they must pass. I told them so, and warned them. But they did not believe
me; they were reckless enough to set out, and I only succeeded in
persuading them to burn their important papers and arm themselves. True,
this was useless. They were butchered by the Hussars. One alone, Jean
Dubarry, escaped, and I may say that I saved him; for I discovered him in
the tree up which he had climbed in his mortal terror, took him to a safe
hiding-place, and informed the French authorities in Rastadt. Yes, I saved
his life, and therefore I can say that I began my new life with a good
deed, and did not entirely sell myself to the devil. Since that time I have
led a changeful, stirring existence, often in danger of getting a bullet in
my head, or a rope around my neck. But what has given me courage to deride,
defy all these perils? The thought of my child, my beautiful, beloved
daughter Leonore. I had taken her to Paris, and placed her in one of the
most fashionable boarding schools. I wished to have her trained to be an
aristocratic lady. I had told her all my plans for the future, and as,
like me, she despised the world and human beings, she had approved those
plans and solemnly vowed by the memory of her mother, murdered by want,
famine, and grief, to avenge herself with me upon society--wrest from it
what formerly it had so cruelly denied: wealth, honor, and distinction."

"And I think I have kept my oath," she said earnestly. "I have entered into
all your plans; I have accepted the part which you imposed upon me, and for
three years have played it with success. Baroness von Vernon was as useful
to you in Berlin the last two years, as Baroness de Simonie is now in
Vienna. She aided you in all your plans, entered into your designs,
pitilessly betrayed all who trusted her and whose secrets she stole by
craft, falsehood, and hypocrisy."

"Why did they allow them to be stolen?" he said, shrugging his shoulders.
"Why were they so reckless as to trust a beautiful woman, when experience
teaches that all women lie, deceive, and are incapable of keeping a secret?
They must bear the consequences of their own folly; we need not reproach
ourselves for it."

"I do not reproach myself," she said, "only life bores me. I long for rest,
for peace, for solitude around me, that I may not be so unutterably lonely
within."

"You wish to conceal the truth from me, Leonore," he cried, shrugging his
shoulders, "but I know it. You are in love, my child, and since, as I
suppose, this is your first love, it cannot fail to be very passionate and
transfigure all humanity with a roseate glow. But wait! that will pass away
and you will soon be disenchanted. Hush! do not answer; do not try to
contradict me; lovers' reasons have no convincing power. We will leave
everything to time and say no more about it. Let us rather talk about the
great affair, which you just mentioned, and which certainly might greatly
promote our prosperity. Then you really believe in a conspiracy?"

"I do. I know some of the accomplices and shall succeed in discovering
others. But I repeat, I will do nothing in regard to this matter until you
have granted my condition."

"Are you serious, Leonore?" he asked sorrowfully. "You would leave me, your
father? You wish to abandon the task which we imposed upon ourselves? For
you know that we had set ourselves the purpose of becoming rich in order to
trample under our feet those who scorned and ill-treated us when we were
poor. But there is still much to be done ere we attain our goal. It is true
that I am well paid; for I am always paid for my life, which is risked in
every one of my enterprises. You, too, are well paid; for a magnificently
furnished home with a monthly income of six thousand francs is a liberal
compensation. But my proud, aristocratic Leonore knows little about
economy, and she has arranged her housekeeping on so regal a scale that I
shall scarcely succeed in putting a trifle aside for her every month.
Besides, consider that the engagement is liable to be cancelled at any
moment, and that the least error, the most trivial suspicion of your
trustworthiness will suffice to hurl you back into oblivion. No, Leonore, I
must not enter into your ecstasy, and I will not. You must remain with me;
you must fulfill the vow you made and, holding my hand, pursue the path
into which despair and contempt for mankind has led us."

"And if I will not?" she asked, sitting erect, and, for the first time
during this whole conversation, permitting the passionate agitation of her
soul to be mirrored in her face. "If I will not? If I have resolved to fly
from this life of shameful splendor, gilded falsehood, whitewashed crime?"

"Then I shall hold you in it by force," he cried, grasping her arm
violently. "And do you know how? I will inform the man you love who you
are, and, believe me, he will turn from you with contempt and loathing; he
will not follow you into the paradise of solitude into which you would
fain escape with him. Listen, Leonore, and weigh my words. We have gone too
far for return ever to be possible, therefore we must press forward,
steadily forward! Whoever has once sold himself to the devil can never hope
to transform himself once more into an angel. Therefore he must be on his
guard against nothing so rigidly as repentance, moods of virtuous
atonement! You are now suffering from such a mood; it is my duty to cure
you of it, and I know the medicine which can heal. So listen. If you do not
swear, solemnly, swear, to continue, without wavering or delay, to play the
part which you perform with so much talent and success, I will await Baron
Kolbielsky here and tell him who you are."

"You will not do that," she shrieked, throwing herself from the divan upon
her knees; "no, father, you will not. You will have pity on me, for I will
confess it to you: I love him. He is my first, my only love, and for his
sake, oh! solely for his sake, I would fain again be good, pure, virtuous.
So have pity on me, do not betray me."

"Will you swear to remain Madame de Simonie? To make no change in your
present mode of life? To fulfill the duties which you have undertaken, and
pursue your task with zeal and cleverness?"

"If I do, will you then promise not to betray me?"

"If you do, I will devote all my craft, cunning, and boldness to the one
purpose of making us rich; will put all means in motion, in order, when we
are wealthy, to give you the happiness of living with your lover in some
secluded corner of the world."

"You do not say that you will not betray me. Swear it."

"I swear that I will betray to no human being who and what you are, as soon
as you swear to remain what you are and to fulfill your duties."

"Well then," she groaned faintly, "I swear it: I will remain what I am; I
will make no attempt to fly from this life of disgrace and crime."

"My dear Leonore," he said kindly, "now we have taken our mutual vows and
understand each other. All differences are settled, and we are once more
sure of each other."

"Yes, we are sure of each other," she repeated with a melancholy smile,
slowly rising from her knees and drawing her figure proudly to its full
height. "I will take up my part again and you shall hear no more complaints
from me, father. Have you any further questions to ask?"

"Really," he exclaimed, gazing at her with sparkling eyes, "really, you are
an admirable woman. Just now a despairing, penitent Magdalen, and once more
a Judith ready for battle or a Delilah who is joyfully ready to cut
Samson's locks and deliver him to the Philistines. Tell me, is there a
Samson whom you will deliver to us?"

"More than one," she cried; "for I tell you that there is a conspiracy, and
I already know three of the members. The object is to discover the others.
So give me time and trust me."

"May I speak of it to the emperor now?"

"You may warn him, throw out hints, fix your price. For as you have said,
we must be rich to be free and happy. Demand a high price of blood, that we
may be rich."

"Blood-money! Then it is a very serious matter. Blood will be shed! Ay,
blood will be shed! Heads will fall!" she cried with flashing eyes. "But
what do we care for that? We shall be paid for betraying the traitors, and,
when we have gained wealth, no one will ask from what bloody source it
came. Wealth reconciles, equalizes everything. So we will be rich, rich.
And now, uncle, listen. Baroness de Simonie will give another entertainment
to-morrow. She will invite all her friends and acquaintances, but
especially Count Andreossy's aids, Colonel Mariage, Captain de Guesniard,
Lieutenant-colonel Schweitzer, the two Counts von Poldring, and moreover a
number of French and Austrian officers, magistrates and ladies. It must be
a brilliant fête--all the rooms crowded with people, that some, without
attracting attention, may be able to retire and hold a familiar
conversation."

"Of course, of course, my beautiful Leonore, and as your uncle and
major-domo, I will do everything in my power for your honor! And now, my
child, farewell! I will go to Schönbrunn, to report to the emperor.
Farewell, and be brave, happy, and joyous. Believe me, men do not deserve
to be pitied, far less to be loved. The day will soon come when my Leonore
will perceive this and strip the enthusiasm of love from her heart as
calmly as the glove from her fair hand. Farewell, you lovely Baroness de
Simonie!"



CHAPTER III.

BARON VON KOLBIELSKY.


Leonore had accompanied her father into the anteroom and listened in
breathless silence to his departing footsteps.

Then, rushing to the window, she threw it open and gazed down into the
street. Yes, she saw him enter a carriage and drive off in it, turning once
to nod to her.

With a sigh of relief she went back to her boudoir. Her whole being seemed
transformed. Her cheeks flushed, her eyes sparkled, and a happy smile
hovered around her lips as she glanced at the clock.

"Twelve!" she cried joyously, "twelve! He will come! I shall see him
again. Ah, there he is! There he is!"

She darted to the door to open it. She had not been mistaken. _He_ was
there, the man whom she expected. With a cry of joy he opened his arms, and
she threw herself into them, clasping her arms around his neck, and laid
her head upon his breast.

"Welcome, my beloved one, welcome! Oh, how delightful it is to rest upon
your breast!"

"And what happiness to clasp you in my arms, Leonore! Raise your head, my
sweet love; let me see your beautiful face and sun myself in your eyes."

She lifted her face to his, gazing at him with a happy smile. "I see myself
in your eyes, dearest."

"And you would see yourself in my heart also, if you could look into it,
Leonore. But come, my queen, sit down and let me rest at your feet and look
up to you as I always do in spirit."

He accompanied her to the divan and pressed her down upon the silken
cushions. Then, reclining at her feet, he laid his clasped hands in her lap
and resting his chin upon them, gazed up at her.

"Do you really love me, Leonore? Can you, the proud, petted, much courted
Baroness de Simonie, really love the poor adventurer, who has nothing, is
nothing, calls nothing his own, not even his heart, for that belongs to
you."

"I love you, because you are what you are," she said, smiling, stroking his
black hair lightly with her little white hand.

"I love you because you are different from every one else; because what
attracts others does not charm you; what terrifies others does not
intimidate you; I love you precisely because you are the poor adventurer
you call yourself. Thank heaven that you are no sensible, prudent,
deliberate gentleman, who longs for titles and orders, for money and
position, but the clever adventurer who calls nothing his own save his
honor, seeks nothing save peril, loves nothing save--"

"Loves nothing save Leonore," he ardently interrupted. "Believe me, it is
so! I love nothing save you, and, until I knew you, I did not know even
love, only hate."

"Hate?" she asked, smiling. "And whom did you hate, my loved one?"

"The foes of my native land," he cried, while a dark, angry flush swept
over his handsome, expressive face, and his dark eyes flashed more
brightly.

"The foes of your native land?" she repeated, smiling. "And who are these
hated foes?"

"The Prussians and the Emperor Napoleon. It was the Prussians who first
dismembered my hapless country. Oh, I was but a little boy when the Empress
Catharine and King Frederick stole the fairest portions of hapless Poland.
I did not understand my mother's tears, my father's execrations, but as my
father commanded me, I laid my hand upon the Bible and vowed eternal,
inextinguishable hatred of the Prussians. And the boy's vow has been kept
by the man. I have struggled ceaselessly against these ambitious
land-greedy, avaricious Prussians; fought with my tongue, my sword, and my
pen. And when at last, at Jena, they were vanquished and forced to bow to
the very dust, I exulted, for their defeat was Poland's vengeance. God was
requiting the wrong they had done to Poland. Since then I have no longer
hated the Prussians, but I despise them."

"And whom do you hate now?" she asked, gazing lovingly at him with her
large, dreamy eyes.

"Him, the traitor, the actor, and liar, the Emperor Napoleon!" he cried,
starting up and pacing excitedly to and fro. "Ah, Leonore, why did you lay
your hand upon the great, ever-aching wound in my heart? Why did you ask
about my hate when I wished to speak to you only of my love? Why do you
wish to see that my heart is bleeding when you ought only to know that it
exults in love? Yet perhaps it is better so; better that you should behold
it wholly without disguise; that you should know it not only loves, but
hates. Leonore, all my love is yours, all my hate Napoleon's. I came to
Vienna by the behest of my hate, and for the first time, I found here what
I had never known--love. Hitherto my heart had belonged to my native land,
now it is yours, Leonore. The poor adventurer, who, under manifold forms,
in manifold disguises, under many names, had wandered through the world,
always in the service of his native land and vengeance, has now found a
home at your feet, and it sometimes happens that he forgets grief for his
country in the joy of his love. And yet, Leonore, yet there are bitter,
sorrowful hours, in which I execrate my love itself; in which I feel that
I will rend it from my heart; that I must escape from it into the hate
which hitherto has guided and fixed my whole existence."

"If you feel and think thus, you do not love me," she said mournfully.

"Yes, I love you, Leonore; love you with rapture, with anguish, with
despair, with joy. Yet I ask myself what will be the goal and end of this
love? I ask myself when this sun, which has shone upon me through one
beautiful, splendid day, will set?"

"It will never set, unless by your desire," she cried, putting her arms
around his neck and bending to imprint a kiss upon his brow.

"It will set, for I am not created to live in sunshine and enjoy happiness.
My life belongs to my native land! I have sworn to consecrate it to my
country, and I must keep my oath. I dare not give myself up to love until I
have done enough for hate; I dare not enjoy happiness ere I have fulfilled
vengeance."

"Vengeance, my dearest? On whom do you wish to take vengeance?"

"On him who stole my native land; who deluded us for years with false
hopes, with lying promises; who promised us liberty and in return gave us
bondage. I seek to avenge my country on Napoleon--"

"Hush! for God's sake, hush!" she cried, trembling violently, as she
pressed her hand upon his lips. "Do not utter such words; do not venture
even to think them; for even thoughts bring danger, and speech will bring
you death."

"Ah," he cried, laughing, "does my proud, royal Leonore fear? Does she
fear in her own house, in her boudoir, where love alone can hear?"

"And hate," she said anxiously. "For you say that not only love, but hate,
dwells in your heart."

"But not in yours, Leonore. No, in your heart dwells only love, and I will
trust it. Yes, you beautiful, glorious woman, I will give you a proof of my
infinite love and confidence. You shall know my secrets and I will tell you
what I have yet betrayed to no woman on earth."

"No, no," she cried vehemently; "no, I will hear nothing. I do not wish to
know your secrets; for I might reveal them in my sleep. They might fill my
soul with such anguish and terror, that they would occupy it even in
slumber, and I might tell in my dreams what I certainly would not disclose
in waking, though I were exposed to the tortures of the rack. Oh, love, I
fear your secrets, and I fear that they threaten you with peril! Give them
up. If my love has any power over you, I entreat you: renounce them. Resign
all your plans of hate and vengeance! Cast thoughts of anger from you! You
have lived and labored for your native land long enough. Now, my love,
dismiss hatred from your heart, and yield it to love! Renounce vengeance
and allow yourself happiness! You say that you love me--give me a proof of
it, a divine, beautiful proof! Let us fly, my beloved one, fly from this
world of falsehood, treachery, hate, and anger, to conceal ourselves in a
quiet corner of the earth, where no one knows us, where the noise of the
world does not penetrate, where we shall learn nothing more of its
dissensions and wars, where only love and peace will dwell with us; where,
clasped in each other's embrace, we can rest on Nature's bosom and receive
from her healing for all our wounds, comfort for all our losses. Oh, let us
fly, for I know well that, so long as you are here--here in this world of
strife and intrigue--you will not be mine; you cannot wrench yourself away
from the numerous relations which hold and bind you, draw you into their
perilous circle. Give them up. Let us rend these bonds which fetter you and
will drag you to destruction. Let us go to America; far, far away to some
quiet, unknown valley, where there are no human beings, and therefore there
will be no falsehood and no treachery, no battles and strife. There let us
dwell in the divine peace of creation; live as Adam and Eve lived in
Paradise, quietly and at rest in the precincts of pure human happiness."

"And you would, you could, do this for me?" he asked, gazing with admiring
eyes at her glowing face, radiant with enthusiasm. "You, the petted queen
of society, the spoiled, delicate daughter of luxury and wealth, you could
resolve to lead a quiet, simple, unknown life, far from the world and men?"

"Oh," she exclaimed, "such an existence would be my happiness, my ecstasy,
my bliss. I would greet it exultingly. I long for it with all the powers of
my soul, all the fervor of my heart. Give it to me, my beloved; give us
both this life of solitude and divine peace. Speak one word--say that you
are ready to fly with me--I will arrange everything for our escape; will
guide us both to liberty, to happiness. Speak this one word, and I will
sever every tie that binds me to the world; my future and my life will
belong to you alone. We will strip off all the luxury that surrounds us as
the glittering snake-skin with which we have concealed our real natures,
and escape into the solitude as free, happy children of God. If such a life
of peace and rest does not satisfy you; if you wish to labor and create, be
useful to mankind, we can find the opportunity. We will buy a tract of land
in America, gather around us people to cultivate it, create a little state
whose prince you will be, which you will render free and happy and content.
Say that you will, my loved one; tell me that you will make my golden
dreams of the future a reality--oh, tell me so and you will render me the
proudest and happiest of women. My dearest, you have so long devoted your
life to hate, consecrate it now to love; let yourself be borne away by it.
It will move mountains and fly on the wings of the morning through every
realm. Hitherto you have called Poland your native land--now let love be
your country, and you shall find it on my breast. Come, my darling, come!
My arms are opened to embrace you; they are ready to bear you away, far
away from this battle-rent, blood-soaked Europe. Save yourself, my beloved,
save me! Come to my arms, let us fly to America!"

She held out her arms, gazing at him with a happy, loving smile. But he did
not rise from his knees to fall upon her breast; he only bowed his head
lower and kissed the hem of her dress--kissed her feet, which he pressed to
his bosom.

"Alas!" he sighed sadly, "this little foot, in its white satin shoe, is not
created for the rough paths of life; it would be torn and blood-stained by
their thorns, and the fault would be mine. No, my sweet love, you shall not
for my sake renounce the world of pleasure and splendor whose queen you
are, even though you wish it, and perhaps even long for the peace and quiet
of solitude. I must not accompany you thither, must not be faithless to
myself. For the most terrible and inconsolable thing which can befall a man
is to be faithless to himself and turn from the way which he himself has
chosen, and from the goals which he himself has appointed. But I should do
this, Leonore, if I renounced the goals and efforts of my whole past life,
and turned from what I have hitherto regarded as the most sacred purpose of
my existence. You yourself, Leonore, cannot wish it, for then how could you
trust my fidelity, my love, if, for your sake, I could be untrue to my
native land, my sacred duty. No, Leonore, my heart is yours, but my brain
and life belong to my country. I came to Vienna to serve it. The great
patriots of Poland sent me here. 'Go to Austria, they said, and serve there
the sacred cause of freedom and human dignity.' And I went, and am here to
serve it. Many are in the league with me, struggling with me toward the
same goal. No one knows the others, but in the decisive hour we shall all
work together for the one great object. And this hour will soon come; all
the preparations are made, all the plans are matured. It is approaching.
The great hour of sacred vengeance is approaching. You do not wish me to
initiate you into my secrets, Leonore, and I now feel that you are right,
for every sharer in these secrets is imperiled by them, and I will not draw
you, my beloved one, into the dangerous circle, where I am bound. But if a
gracious destiny grants our plans success, if the great venture which we
have determined upon succeeds, then, Leonore, I will come to you, hold out
my hand, and exultingly repeat the question which to-day I dare only to
whisper timorously: Leonore, will you be my wife?"

She did not answer immediately, but covered her glowing face with her
hands, while her whole frame trembled with emotion. "Oh," she groaned
sorrowfully, "you will never repeat the question, for you will perish in
the dangers which you are preparing for yourself."

"No," he cried joyously, "I shall not perish in them, and I shall come to
repeat my question. Believe me, love, and be glad and strong. Do not fear
for me, and forgive me if, during the next few days, I keep away from you.
The last preparations for our great enterprise are to be made; all my
strength of mind, all the courage of my soul must be summoned, and perhaps
I might be cowardly and weak if I should see you, gaze into your beloved
face, and think of the possibility that I was beholding it for the last
time; that death might clasp me in his arms ere I again pressed you to my
heart. So I will bid you farewell, my dearest, farewell for a week. During
this time, remember me, pray for me, and love me. A week, my dear one, then
I will return to you; and then, oh, then may I be permitted never to leave
you again; then perhaps we shall make the dream of your heart a reality,
and in some valley of the New World seek for ourselves a new world of
happiness."

He again pressed her closely in his arms and imprinted a long, ardent kiss
upon her lips. "Farewell, beloved, farewell for a week, an eternity."

"Do not say that; do not talk so!" she cried, trembling, as she threw her
arms around his neck and clung closely to him. "Oh, do not speak of an
eternity of separation, as you bid me farewell, or my arms will hold you to
draw you by force from the dangers that threaten you; my lips will betray
you by calling for help and accusing you of a conspiracy, merely to save
you--compel you to renounce your perilous plans."

"If you should do that, Leonore; if even for love of me you could become a
traitress, I would kill myself, but ere I died I would curse you and invoke
heaven's vengeance upon you! But why conjure up such terrible pictures! I
know that my Leonore would be incapable of treachery, and that, during this
week of separation, no word, no look, no hint, will betray that her mind is
anxious and that some care oppresses her."

"I swear to you that by no word, no look, no hint will I betray anything,"
she said solemnly. "I swear that I will not even attempt to guess your
secrets, in order not to be disturbed by them. But one question more,
dearest. I shall give an entertainment to-morrow. Count Andreossy, Colonels
Mariage and Schweitzer, Captain de Guesniard, and the two Counts von
Poldring will be present, as well as Generals Berthier and Massena, and
several men who are prominent in aristocratic Austrian society. Will you
not attend my reception? Will you not come to-morrow?"

"No," he replied, "no, I cannot attend gay entertainments now. My week of
exile begins from this hour, and the first festival for me will be when I
again clasp you in my arms. And now, dearest, let me go. This last kiss on
your eyes--do not open them until I have left you; for your eyes exert a
magic power, and if they are gazing at me I shall not have courage to go.
Farewell, my beloved star, farewell, and when you rise for me once more,
may it be for the radiant hour of a reunion, unshadowed by fresh pangs of
parting."

He pressed a last lingering kiss upon her eyes. She submitted and sat
quietly with closed lids and clasped hands until the door had closed behind
him and the sound of his steps died away in the anteroom.

Then she slipped from the divan upon her knees, and, raising her hands to
heaven, cried: "I thank Thee, oh God, I thank Thee. He is not one of the
conspirators; he has no share in these plans; for he is not coming to the
entertainment to-morrow, and therefore does not belong to those who have
their secret appointment with me. Oh, God be praised for it, and may He
guard and protect him in all his enterprises! I do not wish to know them; I
will not investigate them. Thou, oh God, canst shield and defend him. Thou
alone!"



CHAPTER IV.

BARON VON MOUDENFELS.


Colonel Mariage, alone in his room, was pacing restlessly up and down, with
his eyes fixed intently, almost anxiously, upon the door.

"The appointed hour has come and he is not here," he murmured in a low
tone. "Has suspicion been roused, and have they arrested him? Oh, God
forbid! then we should all be lost, for we are all compromised, and letters
from me, also, would be found among his papers."

At this moment the door was softly opened and the servant announced "Baron
von Moudenfels."

"He is welcome, heartily welcome!" cried the colonel joyfully, swiftly
advancing toward the door, through which the person announced had just
entered the room. It was an old man with a long white beard, his head
covered with a large wig, whose stiff, powdered locks adorned the temples
on both sides of his pale, emaciated face. Thick, bushy brows shaded a pair
of large dark eyes, whose youthful fire formed a strange contrast to the
bowed frame and the white hair. His figure, which must once have been
stately and vigorous, was attired in the latest fashion, and the elegance
of his dress showed that Baron von Moudenfels, though a man perhaps
seventy, had not yet done with the vanities of this world, but was ready to
pay them homage. In his right hand, over which fell a broad lace cuff, he
held an artistically carved cane, on whose gold handle he leaned, as he
moved wearily forward, and a pin with beautiful diamonds glittered in the
huge lace jabot on his breast.

Colonel Mariage held out both hands to the old man, but the baron contented
himself with placing the finger-tips of the little hand adorned with
glittering rings in the colonel's right hand a moment, and then sank into
the armchair, panting for breath.

"Pardon me," he gasped, "but the exertion of climbing your two long flights
of stairs has exhausted my strength, and I must rest. You probably see that
I am a poor, fragile old man, who has but a few steps to take to his
grave."

"But who will probably carefully avoid them," replied the colonel,
smiling. "You are, as you say, an old man, but in this aged form dwells a
fiery, youthful soul, whose strength of will will support the body so long
as it needs the aid."

"So long as it is necessary to the native land, yes," cried the baron
eagerly; "so long as there are foes to fight, friends to aid. Yes, the last
years of my life belong to my native land and the foes who oppress it, and
I know that I shall not die until I have attained the object of my life,
until I have helped to overthrow the tyrant who has not only rendered my
native land, Germany, wretched, but is also hurling his own country,
France, into ruin."

Colonel Mariage glanced around the room with a hasty, anxious look. "For
heaven's sake," he whispered, "don't speak so loud, baron; who knows
whether my valet is not a paid spy; whether he is not standing at the door
listening to betray me at once to Count Andreossy, or even to the emperor."

"My dear colonel," said the baron, smiling, "that is why it is quite time
that we should secure you against such treason, and remove those who
threaten you."

"What do you mean by that, baron?" asked the colonel timidly. "What are
you saying?"

"I am saying that the great hour of decision is approaching," replied the
baron solemnly. "I mean that ere a week has passed, the world will be
released from the yoke which oppresses it--released from the evil demon,
Napoleon."

The colonel, without answering even by a word, crossed the large apartment,
and with a swift jerk opened the door leading into the anteroom. Then,
after convincing himself that no one was near, he closed it, and made a
tour of the spacious room, carefully examining every _portière_, every
article of furniture, and at last approached the baron, who had been
watching him with a quiet, scornful smile.

"Now, my dear baron, speak," he said, taking his seat in an armchair
opposite to him. "We are really alone and without listeners, so I am ready
to hear you. Do you bring news from our friends? News from France,
especially?"

"Yes, news from France. I mean news from the Minister of Police, Fouché. Do
you know, my dear sir, that Fouché is very much dissatisfied with his
beloved fellow conspirators; that he thinks they have not acted so
resolutely and energetically as might have been expected from the brave
generals and colonels of the French army?"

"Why should he be dissatisfied?" asked the colonel. "What ought we to have
done? When and where could we have acted more energetically?"

"At Castle Ebersdorf, my dear colonel. Surely you know that, after the
battle of Aspern, when Napoleon left his exhausted and conquered army on
the island of Lobau, and went to Castle Ebersdorf himself to enjoy a
refreshing sleep after his first great defeat."

"Yes, that sleep was really singular enough," said Mariage thoughtfully.
"The emperor slept soundly twenty-two hours; slept so soundly, in so
motionless a posture, breathing so softly, that he might have been
believed to be dead, and did not even hear his drunken soldiers force their
way into the castle garden, and, with furious shouts, plunder and destroy
everything until our representations and entreaties forced them to retire."

"Yes, the emperor fell into a deathlike slumber and would have been unable
to resist or to defend himself had he been bound and gagged and quietly
carried away. Yet what did the generals and colonels who had assembled in
the large reception-hall close beside the sleeping emperor's private
office? What did the gentlemen who all belonged to the secret league which
has existed in the French army four years, and whose object is to overthrow
the hated tyrant and oppressor? Did they avail themselves of the
opportunity to attain this desired goal with a single bold stroke? No,
they stood whispering and irresolute, asking one another what should be
done if Napoleon did not wake from his deathlike slumber--who should then
be his heir to the throne of France? Whether they should make Bernadotte,
the Prince of Ponte Corvo, or Eugene, the Viceroy of Italy, or the Count of
Provence, who styles himself Louis XVIII., king of France, or again restore
the great and glorious republic? And since they could not agree upon these
questions, they did nothing at all, but contented themselves with sending a
secret envoy to Paris to ask Fouché what should be done, how they should
act in such a case, and what counsel he had to give."

"But how do you know all this so accurately?" asked the colonel in
surprise. "One would really suppose you had been present, yet I distinctly
remember that this was not the case."

"No, I was not; but you probably know that a certain Commissioner Kraus was
there. Bernadotte had made the acquaintance of this Herr Kraus at Colonel
Oudet's, who, as is well-known, is the head of the secret society, which
existed in the French army, and to whose laws all members, or, if you
choose, all fellow-conspirators, were compelled to submit. Oudet had
recommended Kraus to the Prince of Ponte Corvo as a faithful and reliable
man, a skillful negotiator, who was qualified to maintain and to promote
the agreements and alliances between the French conspirators and the German
patriots, and who could be employed without fear or reserve. Well, this
Commissioner Kraus, as you probably know, had come to Ebersdorf to
negotiate in behalf of myself and my German friends, and to ask whether the
time had not now come to accomplish the great work and rid Germany of the
scourge which God had sent in punishment of all her sins. Commissioner
Kraus described that scene in the great hall of Castle Ebersdorf. He
returned as your messenger, and brought us the news that we must keep quiet
and wait for further tidings, and, after bringing this message, he went to
Paris to Fouché, the minister of police, to deliver the letter and inquiry
of the conspirators."

"And he has not yet returned," said Mariage, sighing. "Some misfortune has
befallen him; the emperor's spies have doubtless tracked him, and he has
atoned for his reckless enterprise with his life."

"No, Kraus is too clever and too bold to let himself be discovered by
Napoleon's spies," said the baron with a subtle smile, "and, since Monsieur
Bonaparte must fare like the worthy citizens of Nuremberg who hang no one
until they have caught him, Commissioner Kraus has not been compelled to
atone for his bold enterprise with his life, but has returned successful
and unharmed."

"What? He has returned?"

"Four days ago."

"Four days ago, and I, we all, know nothing of it?"

"Yes, I knew it. Surely you are aware that Fouché was not to direct his
reply directly to any one of you, to a subject of the emperor, in order, in
case of discovery, to compromise no one. So Fouché addressed his reply to
me; for if the letter had actually been opened, it could have done Baron
von Moudenfels no harm, since fortunately I am not one of the emperor's
subjects, and what he could punish in you as high-treason, he must
recognize in us Germans as patriotism."

"But the letter, Fouché's answer!" said Mariage impatiently. "Pray do not
keep me on the rack any longer. What does Fouché write?"

"Why, his letter is tolerably laconic, and one must understand how to read
between the lines to interpret the meaning correctly. Here it is. You see
that it is directed to me--Baron von Moudenfels--and contains nothing but
the following words: 'Why ask me anything, when you ought already to have
accomplished everything yourselves? Put him in a sack, drown him in the
Danube--then all will be easily arranged everywhere.'"[C]

"For heaven's sake," cried the colonel, pale and horror-stricken, "what
does Fouché mean? Of whom is he speaking?"

"Why, of whom except Bonaparte, or, as he likes to call himself, the
Emperor Napoleon!" said the baron coolly. "And you will admit that Fouché
is right. If, at Ebersdorf, the sleeping Bonaparte had been thrust into a
sack and flung into the Danube, the whole affair would have been ended in
the most successful and shortest way, instead of our now being obliged to
rack our brains and plunge into dangers of every kind to attain the same
goal which we were then so near without peril or trouble. But it is useless
to complain; we must rather be mindful to seize the best means of repairing
the omission."

"Has Fouché given no counsel, suggested no plan?"

"Yes, he sent verbally, by Commissioner Kraus, counsels and plans to be
communicated by me to the conspirators, and this communication has occupied
me during these last few days. The point was to discover, among those who
were in close attendance upon the emperor, certain individuals who could be
won over to our plans."

"And have you succeeded?"

"Yes, I have succeeded. Do not ask the persons and names. I have sworn to
mention none, and just as I would communicate your name to no one, I may
not impart the names of the others to you. Secrecy and silence must envelop
the whole conspiracy like a veil that bestows invisibility, if we are to
hope for success. No one will know of the others until the day of decision,
and even the necessary arrangements which the conspirators have to make
must be done under a mask. I am the mediator, who conveys the messages to
and fro, and I know very well that I risk my life in doing it. But I am
ready to sacrifice it for my native land, and death is a matter of
indifference, if my suffering serves my country. Now listen! Within a week
Napoleon must be removed; for every day beyond endangers us the more. He
has a suspicion of our plans; he has a whole legion of spies in the army,
in Vienna, acting in concert with friends and foes, to watch the designs of
the conspirators. For he is perfectly conscious that a conspiracy exists,
and some inkling even of the conversation of his generals at Castle
Ebersdorf has reached his ears. It caused such an outburst of fury that he
was attacked with convulsions, and for three days ate nothing until Roustan
had tasted it, because he was afraid of being poisoned. The Emperor
Napoleon also learned that Colonel Oudet was head of the secret society,
and his most dangerous enemy, because he was extremely popular in the army
and possessed rare powers of persuasion. So Oudet must be removed, and he
has been."

"Then you think that--"

"That the bullet which struck Colonel Oudet at the battle of Wagram was
not a chance shot, sent by the enemy? Certainly I think so, and the proof
of it is that the wound was in the back of the head. So he was struck from
behind, and his murderer was in the ranks of his fellow-combatants. So you
see that the emperor had sentenced him to death and he had his executioners
ready to fulfill his commands. We must let this serve as a warning to us.
We must kill him, that he may not discover us and order his executioners to
kill us."

"It is true, we are all lost if he discovers the conspiracy. As I said, the
work must be accomplished within a week, or you and all your companions,
all the members of the society, will be imperiled. The emperor has his
suspicions; if he becomes certain, your death-sentence will be signed. You
hate Bonaparte. You are an adherent of the Count de Lille. You desire to
replace the legitimate King Louis XVIII. upon the throne of his ancestors.
Well, to accomplish this, Bonaparte must fall. Help to overthrow him, help
to rid the world of this monster, who feeds upon the blood of all the youth
of Europe, and you will be sure of the gratitude of your king. He has a
general's commission ready for you, promises orders and a title, and he
will keep his royal word."

"And what is asked of me? What part have I to perform?"

"The part of a man who is blind and deaf, colonel. You are commander of the
military police, and your officials will perhaps spy out the conspiracy and
make reports to you. You will be deaf to these reports, and order your
subordinates to be the same. You are on the staff of the present
Governor-general of Vienna, Count Andreossy, and it is your task not merely
to hear, but also to see what is occurring in the capital. But, during the
next few days, you will have the kindness to be blind and see nothing that
is passing around you, not to notice the preparations that attract the
attention of the suspicious. You will give the same directions to your
confidant, our fellow-conspirator, Captain de Guesniard, and if our
enterprise is endangered, you will warn us through him, as we will
communicate to you, by the same person, what other aid we expect from you.
Are you ready to fulfill these demands?"

"Yes, baron, I am ready. I hate Napoleon and I love the legitimate king of
France. So I have no choice. I will risk my life to serve the king, for the
kings of France have been kind and gracious lords to my family for
centuries, and we owe them all that we are. I am ready to prove my
gratitude by deeds, and I hope that, if I fall in the service of the king,
he will have pity on my wife and my two children as soon as he himself
returns to France. I will fulfill your commands. I will play the part of
one who is blind and deaf. I will see and hear nothing, warn no one, unless
I am forced to warn the conspirators."

"In that case you will have the kindness to send your friend, Captain de
Guesniard, to St. Stephens. One of our emissaries will be waiting night and
day at the entrance of the main door of the cathedral, and every message he
receives will be faithfully brought to us."

"But who will it be? How is De Guesniard to recognize your confidant?"

"Who will it be? To-day our messenger at the door of St. Stephens will be a
beggar-woman, to-morrow perhaps a blind cripple, the day after a priest, a
lady, or some other person who would not rouse suspicion. The token by
which to recognize the envoy will be a strip of blue paper, held in the
left hand."

"Well, that will suffice. You have nothing more to say, baron?"

"No, colonel. So you will have the kindness to see and hear nothing for the
space of a week, but if, at the end of that time, you learn the news that
the Emperor Napoleon has disappeared, you will hear it with the joy of a
true patriot. It will be reserved for you to set off at once with post
horses to bear to the Count de Lille in England this message of the rescue
and purification of his throne."

"Ah, that is indeed a delightful and honorable task," cried the colonel
joyously. "Heaven grant that it may be executed."

"It will be, for our arrangements are well made, and we are all anxious to
do our utmost to regain the greatest of blessings, over liberty. Farewell,
Colonel Mariage, in a week we shall see each other again."

"In a week or never," sighed Colonel Mariage, pressing the baron's
proffered hand in his own.



CHAPTER V.

COMMISSIONER KRAUS.


After taking leave of Colonel Mariage, old Baron von Moudenfels passed
through the antechamber, where he found the valet, with slow and weary
steps. Panting and resting on every stair, he descended the staircase,
coughing, and moved slowly past the houses to the nearest carriage, into
which he climbed with difficulty and sank with a groan upon the cushions.

"Where shall I drive, your lordship?" asked the hackman, lifting his whip
to rouse the weary nags from their half slumber.

"Where? I don't know myself, my friend," replied the old man, sighing. "I
only want to ride about a little while to rest my poor old limbs and get
some fresh air. So take me through the busiest streets in Vienna, that I
may see them. I am a stranger who has seen little of your capital, because
his weary limbs will not carry him far. So drive very slowly, at a walk,
that I may see and admire everything--so slowly that if I liked anything
especially, and wanted to get out, I could do so without stopping the
vehicle."

"Then your lordship does not want to drive by the trip, but by the hour?"

"Yes, my friend, by the hour, and here are four florins in prepayment for
two hours. You'll have no occasion to trouble yourself now, but drive as
slowly as possible and your horses will be able to rest. So go on through
the busiest streets, and at a walk."

"Well, that will suit my poor beasts," said the driver, laughing, "they
have already been standing for six hours, and stiff enough from it."

He touched his horses' backs with the are whip, and the animals started.

The carriage now rolled on slowly, like a hearse, at the pace drivers
usually take when they wish to notify pedestrians that they have no
occupant in their vehicles and can receive a passenger. So no one noticed
the slow progress of the carriage; no one in the crowded streets through
which it passed heeded it. Yet many a person might have been interested if
he could have cast a glance within.

Something strange and unusual was certainly occurring inside the hack. No
sooner had it started than Baron von Moudenfels hastily raised both the
side windows and pulled down the little curtains of dark red silk. No
curious eyes could now look in at him, and he could fearlessly devote
himself to his occupations, which he did with perfect composure and
unconcern. First, he drew from the back pocket of his coat a package
wrapped in paper, which he unrolled, placing its contents on the back seat.
These consisted of a wig of short fair hair, a mustache of the same color,
and two little boxes containing red, white, and black paints. Then the
baron took from his breast-pocket another package, which he unwrapped and
produced a mirror, brushes and combs.

After hanging the mirror by a small hook on the cushion of the back seat,
the baron began to make his toilet, that is, to transform himself from an
old man into a young one. First, he removed his powdered wig and exchanged
it for the blonde one, doing it so quickly that the most watchful eye would
have had no time to see the color of his own hair concealed beneath. With
the same speed he fastened over his hitherto beardless lips a pointed
mustache of reddish-fair hair and, after removing from his face the
skillfully painted wrinkles and the powder, he hastened to add red cheeks
to the fair curls on his head, and to tinge the tip of his nose with the
rosy hue which suggests a convivial nature. After this was accomplished, and
the baron had convinced himself by a careful examination in the mirror that
he was transformed into a charming, gay, young fellow, he began a similar
metamorphosis of his costume. Taking the diamond pin from his lace jabot
he hid it under his vest, which he buttoned to the necktie. Then removing
the light silk long-skirted dress-coat, he turned it completely on the
other side and, by taking out some pins which held them, let the tails fall
back. The dress-coat was now changed into an overcoat, a blue cloth
overcoat, whose color harmonized very pleasantly with his fair hair.

Now the metamorphosis was complete, and, from the skill and speed with
which the baron had performed it, one might suppose that he was not
practising such arts of disguise for the first time, but was well-trained
in them. With perfect calmness and deliberation he now put the cast-off
articles into the parcels, hid them in the pockets of his clothes, and,
after unscrewing the gold crutch-handle from his cane and replacing it by
a plain ivory head, he drew up the little curtains and looked out with a
keen, watchful gaze. The carriage was just passing down the crowded and
busy Grabenstrasse moving behind a long row of equipages following a
funeral procession, and the driver was of course compelled to proceed
slowly.

The baron now cautiously opened the carriage door, and as it was just in
the act of turning a corner, he took advantage of the opportunity offered
to spring with a swift leap into the street.

He now hurried rapidly along the opposite side; his bearing was as vigorous
and energetic as it had just been bowed and feeble; and with the wrinkles
and gray hair every trace of age had also vanished he was now a young man,
but the large black eyes, with their bold, fiery gaze, suited the rosy
cheeks and fair hair as little as they had formerly harmonized with the old
man's pallid countenance. But at any rate the present youthfulness was no
disguise, and the swift, vigorous movements were no assumption; that was
evident from the ease and speed with which the baron, after entering one of
the handsomest houses in the Grabenstrasse, ran up the stairs, never
pausing until he had mounted the third flight. Beside the bell of a glass
door, on a shining brass plate, was engraved the name of Count von Kotte.
Baron von Moudenfels pulled this bell so violently that it echoed loudly,
and at the door, which instantly opened, appeared a liveried servant with
an angry face, muttering with tolerable distinctness something about
unseemly noise and rude manners.

"Is Count von Kotte at home?" asked the baron hastily.

"No," muttered the lackey, "the count isn't at home, and it wasn't
necessary to ring so horribly loud to ask the question."

He stepped back and was about to close the door again, but the baron thrust
his foot between it and the frame and seized the man's sleeve.

"My good fellow, I _must_ see the count," he said imperiously.

"But when I tell you that the count isn't--"

He stopped suddenly in the middle of his sentence and cast a stolen glance
at the florin which the baron had pressed into his hand.

"Announce me to Count von Kotte," said the baron pleasantly. "He will
certainly receive me."

"Your name, sir?" asked the lackey respectfully.

"Commissioner Kraus," was the reply. The man withdrew, and, a few minutes
after, returned with a smiling face.

"The count is at home and begs the gentleman to come in," he said, throwing
the door wide open and standing respectfully beside it.

Commissioner Kraus, smiling, stepped past him into the anteroom. A door on
the opposite side opened, and the tall figure of a man attired in the
Austrian uniform appeared.

"Is it really you, my dear Kraus!" he cried. "So you have returned already.
Come, come, I have longed to see you."

Holding out his hand to the visitor, he drew him hastily into the next
room.

"You have longed to see me, my dear count," said Kraus, laughing, "and yet
I was within an ace of being turned from your door. Since when have you
lived in a barricaded apartment, count?"

"Since the spies of the French governor of Vienna, Count Andreossy, have
watched my door and pursued my every step," replied the count, smiling.
"But now speak, my dear Kraus. You went to Totis? You talked with the
Emperor Francis?"

"I went to Totis and talked with the Emperor Francis."

"Good heavens! you say it with such a gloomy, solemn expression. Has the
emperor become irresolute?"

"Yes, that is it. The emperor is surrounded by adherents of the Napoleonic
party; they have succeeded in thrusting back the real patriots, the
Anti-Bonapartists, and would have rendered them wholly inactive had not
the Empress Ludovica tried to support them with all her influence. All is
not yet lost, but unless we soon succeed in making a decisive step, our
foes will completely gain the ear of the emperor, persuade him to accept
the ignoble, humiliating peace which Napoleon offered, and, from his enemy,
become his ally."

"It would be horrible if that could be done," cried the count sadly. "It is
not possible that the Emperor Francis could resolve upon such humiliation."

"They have alarmed the emperor, intimidated him; told him that his crown,
his life, were at stake; that unless he would make himself Napoleon's ally
and accept the proffered peace, the Emperor Napoleon would say of him what
he said of the Bourbons in Spain: 'The Hapsburg dynasty has ceased to
exist.' If something does not now happen, if we do not force a decision,
everything is lost. Austria will conclude a humiliating peace and, instead
of being delivered from the French tyrant's yoke, we shall be obliged to
see Austria sink into a French province, and the Emperor Francis, in spite
of his high-sounding title, become nothing more than the viceroy of the
Emperor Napoleon."

"It must not, it shall not come to that!" exclaimed the count wildly. "We
must risk everything to prevent this. We must stake our blood, our lives,
to save Austria and Germany!"

"Ah, if you speak and think _thus_, count, you are one of us; you will wish
to have a share in our work of liberation."

"Yes, I demand my share, and the greater and more perilous it is, the more
welcome it will be."

"We all risk our lives," said Kraus solemnly, "and if we are defeated, we
shall all be lost; for the Emperor Francis will not protect us--he will
abandon us to Napoleon's wrath, in order to prove that he had no part in
our plans. With this conviction, we must begin our work and arrange our
affairs as if we were going into a battle."

"My affairs are arranged, and I am ready," replied the count solemnly.

"Hush! listen! All our friends, like you, are ready, and the conspiracy
winds like a great chain through all the countries of Europe. Every one who
loves his native land, and therefore hates Napoleon, has laid his brave
hand on this chain and will add the link of his manly strength. In France,
in England, in Spain and Italy, in Sweden, in Russia and Turkey,
everywhere, our friends are waiting for the decisive act which must take
place here. In England they have bought arms and ammunition and sent them
to Heligoland Thence members of our league have brought them here and
distributed them among the brothers. In the harbor of Genoa a Swedish and
an English ship lie ready for our service; the English one to aid our
escape and convey us to England, if our enterprise fails; the Swedish one
to serve as a transport vessel, if we succeed. Everywhere our friends are
working, everywhere they are preparing the insurrection; Tyrol is like a
well-filled bomb which needs only the application of a spark to burst and
scatter confusion around it, and in the minds of individuals patriotism
has increased to a fanaticism which deems even murder a justifiable means
to rid Europe from the shameful yoke of the tyrant. If we cannot execute
our plan, if we do not succeed in abducting Napoleon, perhaps the dagger of
an assassin will he raised against him--an assassin who does not regard his
deed as a crime, but as a sacred duty."

"And why are we content with an abduction?" asked the count fiercely. "Why
should not the blood of the man who has shed so many torrents of blood, be
shed also?"

"Because that would be too light a punishment," said Kraus, with an
expression of gloomy hate. "Because it would be an atonement for all his
crimes, if he fell beneath the daggers of murderers. Such daggers rendered
the tyrant Julius Cæsar a hero, a martyr, and they would also transform
Napoleon into a demi-god. No, we will not grant him such a triumph, such a
glorious end--we will not allow him a speedy death. He shall ignominiously
disappear; he shall die slowly on some barren island in the ocean; die amid
the tortures of solitude, of weariness, of powerless rage. This must be the
vengeance of Europe; this must be the end of the vampire who has drunk her
heart's blood."

"You are right? it shall, it must be so," cried the count, with sparkling
eyes. "Now tell me, what have _I_ to do? What part is assigned to _me_?"

"You will go to Genoa, count. Here is a letter from General Nugent to the
captain of the Swedish ship Proserpina, now lying in the harbor."

"But it is not sealed?" asked the count, taking the paper offered.

"Open it, and you will find that it does not contain a single word. I
received it so from our messenger, who brought it directly from Count
Nugent in Heligoland to me. It is your letter of recommendation, that is
all! Written words might compromise, spoken ones die away upon the wind. If
you deliver this, addressed in General Nugent's hand, to the captain of the
Proserpina, he will recognize you as the right messenger, and you will then
tell him verbally what you have to say."

"What shall I tell him?"

"Tell him to take in his freight, have his ballast on board, and keep
everything in readiness for departure. From the day that you reach him the
Proserpina must be ready for sea, and a boat must lie in the harbor night
and day to receive the members of our league who will come if the plan
succeeds."

"But I hope this is not all that I have to do? I shall not be denied a more
active part in the great cause?"

"If you wish, no! One of us will accompany Bonaparte to Genoa as his
jailer. You can relieve him there, and attend him to his prison."

"I will do so. But where will the prison be?"

"You will put him on some barren island in the ocean, which will serve as
his dungeon. Then you will return. But you must name the place to which you
conveyed him to no one except the heads of the society: that is, to General
Nugent and myself. We will guard it as the most sacred secret of our lives,
that no one may learn it--no one can make the attempt to rescue him."

"I thank you," cried the count joyously. "You assign me an honorable task,
which proves that the heads of the society trust me. What else have I to
do? Will not a meeting of the conspirators take place? Will you not summon
one?"

"No, for I shall go at once to Totis to make the most necessary additional
arrangements with General Bubna, and through him with the Empress Ludovica,
that, if the plot succeeds, the advantage will be ours and cannot be
claimed by the French party. But you, count, must manage to summon such an
assembly of our friends in some unsuspected place. I learn that Baroness de
Simonie is to give an entertainment to which, without knowing it, she has
invited a number of our friends. You will recognize them by the black
enamel ring which every member of our band must wear upon the little finger
of his left hand. You will name to each a place of meeting.

"Oh, I already know one," cried the count, "it is--"

"Mention no names," Kraus interrupted quickly. "I shall not be present, so
it is not necessary for me to know. Every secret is imperiled by needless
communication, and we must compromise no one without cause. Here, count,
are some necessary papers in which you will find further instructions. Make
your preparations accordingly, and when you have read them and informed the
persons concerned, burn them."

"But you tell me nothing about the principal matter," said the count. "Who
will accomplish the actual deed? Who will have the heroic daring to take
Napoleon captive?"

"Many will be active in that, count. The names are not to be mentioned, but
if you lay stress upon it, I will tell you that of the person who has
undertaken to lie in ambush for Napoleon, gag him, and carry him away. It
is Baron von Moudenfels."

"Von Moudenfels? I don't know him, but I have heard of him. Was it not
Baron von Moudenfels who arranged the secret connection with the
conspirators in the French army, and negotiated with Oudet?"

"Yes, the same man. He is a great patriot and a daring fellow. He hates
Napoleon, and if he once has him in his grasp, he will die rather than
suffer him to escape, though Napoleon should offer a kingdom as a ransom.
Now farewell, count, and may God grant that we see each other again
successful! May the guardian angel of our native land protect us in the
perils which we must bravely meet."

"So be it," said the count, cordially pressing in his own Kraus' extended
hand. "Go to Totis: I will go to Genoa, to await my prisoner there."

With the same hasty steps as he had come, Commissioner Kraus again hastened
down the steps, and once more plunged into the tumult of the street. After
a short walk, he again entered a house and ascended the stairs to a door in
the fourth story beside which, in a rush-bottomed chair, sat a servant,
with his head bowed on his breast, sleeping peacefully.

Baron von Moudenfels or Commissioner Kraus tapped the slumberer lightly on
the shoulder.

"Wake up and open the door, Peter!" he said.

The man started up and stared at the person standing before him with
dilated eyes.

"Who are you, sir, and what do you want of me?" he exclaimed sulkily.

"Then you don't know me?" asked Kraus, smiling. "Must I tell you that I am
your master?"

"Herr Baron! Is it you? Is it possible that it's you; that anybody can
disguise himself so--and--"

"Hush! you know that you are not to wonder at anything, and must always be
prepared to see me in any disguise. True, I should have expected that you
would recognize your master's voice."

"I beg your pardon, sir; I was so very sound asleep. I didn't sleep all
night because I was expecting you, and I've been on the watch all day."

"Have many spies been here?" asked the baron as, followed by his servant,
he entered his sitting-room.

"Yes, sir, they fairly besieged the door of the house and patrolled the
opposite side of the street all day long. Three times, too, gentlemen
called to ask for you. They said that they were visitors, but I think they
were only spies who wanted to find out whether you were at home."

"Well, now they can come and assure themselves that I'm here," replied his
master, stretching himself comfortably upon the sofa. "True, it won't last
long--we start in an hour. Order post-horses, Peter, two post-horses and a
light carriage, and pack the baggage."

"Yes, sir!" sighed Peter. "What clothes will you take? Do we travel this
time again as Baron von Moudenfels, and must I pack the old gentleman's
baggage as I did for the journey to Frankfort?"

"No, not as Baron von Moudenfels. This time I shall go in my own person and
under my own name. We shall go to Totis to the camp of his majesty the
emperor. So take the court dress and everything necessary for a gentleman.
Thank heaven, I shall be rid of the tiresome wig for a few days."

Removing the blonde wig he passed his hand through the black locks which
appeared under it.

"Hurry, Peter, order post-horses and pack our clothing; we must start in an
hour."



CHAPTER VI.

THE CONSPIRACY DISCOVERED.


The festival was over, the last guests had taken leave of Baroness de
Simonie, and the servants and lackeys were gliding noiselessly through the
empty rooms to extinguish the lights in the chandeliers and candelabra, and
here and there push the scattered pieces of furniture into place.

Baroness de Simonie had gone to her boudoir, but though it was late at
night she seemed to feel no disposition to retire to rest, nor was there
the slightest expression of weariness on her beautiful face; her eyes
sparkled as brightly as they had just flashed upon her guests, and there
was no change in the proud carriage of her head, or of the tall, slender
figure, still robed in white satin veiled with silver-embroidered white
crêpe. The diadem of diamonds still glittered in her hair, and clasps of
the same brilliant gems adorned her neck and her bare white arms.

Madame de Simonie was pacing up and down her boudoir with hasty, impetuous
steps; her whole being seemed intensely agitated. Sometimes she paused at
the door to listen, then with panting breath resumed her restless movement
to and fro, while her scarlet lips murmured: "He does not come yet.
Something extraordinary must have happened. But what? What? Can he be in
danger? Oh, my God, if this terrible week were once over, that--But hush! I
hear footsteps; it is he."

Springing to the door with a single bound like a lioness, she tore it
open.

"Is it you, father?"

"Yes, it is I," he answered, entering the room and cautiously locking the
door behind him.

"Thank heaven that you are here, father!" she sighed, with an air of
relief.

"What?" he asked, smiling, "has my Leonore again become so affectionate a
daughter that she is anxious about her father if he is suddenly called away
at night? For you have been anxious about me--about me and no one
else--have you not?"

"No, not for you," she cried impetuously, "for him, for him alone. Tell me
that he is not in danger, that he has nothing to do with the matter on
whose account you were so suddenly called away!"

"I swear it, Leonore. But, my child, the impetuosity of your passion is
beginning to make me uneasy. How will you keep your head clear, if your
heart is burning with such impetuous fire that the rising smoke must
becloud your brain? I have allowed you to give yourself the amusement of
love, but you must not make a serious life question of it."

"Yet I shall either perish of this love or be new-born by it," she
murmured. "But let us not talk about it. Tell me first why you left the
ball so suddenly?"

"Urgent business, my child. The emperor sent for me to come to Schönbrunn."

"The emperor! What did he want of you?"

"There is something to be discovered, Leonore--a murderer who seeks the
emperor's life."

"A murderer!" she said, shuddering; "my God, suppose it should be he!"

"The emperor has received an anonymous letter from Hungary, in which he is
informed that, during the course of the next week, a young man will come to
Schönbrunn to murder him.[D] I suppose that this comes directly from the
Emperor Francis' court at Totis. Some fanatic has told the Emperor Francis
that he will go there to murder his hated foe, and the kind-hearted
emperor, in his magnanimity has sent this warning to Napoleon."

"And _he_ was in Totis," said Leonore, trembling, under her breath, "and he
told me that in a week something decisive would happen."

"You are silent, Leonore?" asked her father. "Have you nothing to tell
me?"

She started from her sorrowful reverie; a bold, resolute fire again flashed
in her eyes. "I have many things to tell you, many important things," she
replied. "But I will not utter a single word unless you first take an
oath."

"What oath?"

"The oath that, if it is Kolbielsky who comes to murder Napoleon, you will
warn him and let him escape."

"But how am I to warn him in advance, since the probability is that, if I
really catch him, it will be at the moment of the deed."

"Well, then, you will let him escape at that moment, if it is Kolbielsky."

"But that is impossible, Leonore! You will understand yourself that it is
impossible."

"Well, then, do as you choose, but do not ask me to communicate my
discoveries. Good-night, father; I feel tired, I will go to sleep."

Passing her father, she approached the door. But just as she was about to
open it, he laid his hand on her arm and stopped her.

"Stubborn girl," he said, smiling, "I see that your will must be obeyed to
induce you to speak. Well, then, I swear that, if the person who comes to
murder Napoleon is Baron von Kolbielsky, I will let him escape if he falls
into my hands."

"Swear it by my mother's spirit and memory."

"I swear it by your mother's spirit and memory. But now, Leonore, speak.
Have you really discovered a conspiracy?"

"Yes, I have discovered a conspiracy, and, thank heaven, I can tell you
everything--the names of all the conspirators; for _he_ is not among
them--he has nothing to do with this crazy, reckless affair. Father, you
can tell Napoleon that a widespread conspiracy exists, and that it even has
numerous adherents in his own army. The most aristocratic members of it
were present at my entertainment and held a consultation here. Colonel
Mariage, as you know, had begged me to give him and his friends a room
where they could talk undisturbed."

"And you gave him the little red drawing-room didn't you?"

"Yes. I gave them the little red drawing-room, which is reached from this
boudoir. I was in the niche and heard all."

"So it is really an actual conspiracy?" asked her father, with a happy
smile.

"Really an actual conspiracy," she repeated gravely, "and unless you warn
the Emperor Napoleon, unless you save him, he will be a lost man within a
week, even if that murderer's dagger should not strike him."

"That is splendid, that is marvelous," cried her father. "Leonore, this
time we shall really attain our goal. We shall be rich. The emperor is
generous; he loves life. I will set a high price upon it. By heaven, the
Cæsar's head is well worth four hundred thousand francs! I will ask them,
and I shall receive. We shall be rich enough to do without and be
independent of men."

"And I shall be free," murmured Leonore, with a flash of enthusiasm upon
her beautiful face. "You will not forget, father, that you promised to give
me my liberty if I helped you to become rich. You will not forget that you
are to permit me to escape, with the man I love, from this false, pitiful
world, and fly with him to some remote, secluded nook, where no one knows
me--no one can betray to him the shame and sin of my past life. And above
all, father, you will not forget that you have solemnly sworn to reveal
nothing of my former existence, not to let him suspect who I am, and--"

"Who and what your father is, you wanted to say," he interrupted. "Yes, I
will remember and not disclose our little secrets to him. The virtuous
Baron von Kolbielsky would certainly be very much astonished if he made the
discovery that your major-domo has the honor of being your father, and that
the father of the proud baroness is no other than the well-known spy
Schulmeister, who has rendered the Emperor Napoleon so many useful
services, and whose name Kolbielsky has so often mentioned in my presence
with scornful execration. No, he must not learn all this. We will conceal
our past, we will begin a new life, and since we shall then be rich enough,
it will not be difficult for us to remain noble and virtuous. But now, my
Leonore, tell me exactly and in detail everything you know. Come, let us
sit down on this divan and allow me to note at once the most important
points in your story, and especially the names."

"Then listen, father! Thursday next the emperor is to be carried away by
force."

"Carried away--where?" asked Schulmeister, smiling.

"To some desolate island in the ocean. But do not interrupt me; don't let
me anticipate, but relate everything in regular order. So listen and note
what is necessary. There is a conspiracy which has its members in the
French army, in the garrison now in Vienna, nay, even among those who are
in the closest attendance upon the emperor, and which unites all the
malcontents in France with the foes of Napoleon throughout all Europe.
Heligoland is the meeting-place for the envoys of the conspirators
throughout Europe; there the central committee always assembles at certain
times, and from there by confidential messengers and fellow conspirators
issues its commands and directions to the members in all places; there is
the depot of the arms, ammunition, and other military stores. Thither
England has sent General Bathurst; Spain, General Bandari, for consultation
and agreement with the Austrian General Nugent, the Russian General
Demidoff, and a certain Baron von Moudenfels, who has apparently played a
prominent part in all these negotiations, and in whose hands all the single
threads of this many-branched conspiracy meet. There was devised and
arranged the plan which is now to be executed and in which Baron von
Moudenfels plays the most important part."

"Do you know this Baron von Moudenfels?" asked Schulmeister. "Was he at
your entertainment this evening? I saw several gentlemen who were strangers
to me, and whose names I was going to ask you, when I was called away. Was
Baron von Moudenfels among them?"

"No, father, he was not among them, and I do not know Baron von Moudenfels
at all. According to the descriptions which I heard of him this evening, he
is a man already advanced in years, but whose youthful vigor and energy
were extravagantly praised and admired. Baron von Moudenfels has been the
originator and director of the whole plan, and has been engaged for months
in making preparations for its execution. Listen to the rest of my story!
On Thursday the plot must be put into action. On that day the emperor will
take a ride in the afternoon, as he always does. If, by chance, he should
show no disposition to do so, they will induce him by some means, and will
persuade him to go to the woods near Schönbrunn. The emperor likes to
dismount there and stroll along the lovely, shady paths, talking with his
generals. To his surprise he will find a most charming little hut which he
has not seen before--for the very good reason that it was erected only the
previous day. The emperor, as is well-known, is curious, and he will go to
it. The conspirators--and his entire suite is composed of them--the
conspirators will propose going in. A French song, the signal that
everything is ready, will be heard within. The emperor will enter, his
companions will follow. Inside the hut armed conspirators will be
stationed, who, as soon as the emperor enters, will seize and gag him, bind
him hand and foot, and thus render him harmless. Then one of the party who
entered with the emperor, Colonel Lejeune, whose figure is exactly like
his, will put on a suit of clothes made precisely like the emperor's, and,
donning Napoleon's three-cornered hat, will leave the hut. Meanwhile
twilight will have gathered, and the conspirators, with the emperor--that
is Colonel Lejeune--at their head, will return to Schönbrunn. The guards
will salute as soon as they see the emperor dash into the courtyard. The
chief equerry will hold his stirrup, and help him to dismount. The emperor,
followed by his suite, will enter the castle, and silently, according to
his custom, ascend the stairs and go to the hall where he receives his
marshals; there, as he so frequently does, he will dismiss all who are
present with a wave of his hand and pass on into his study, which adjoins
his sleeping-room."

"Well, it must be admitted that so far the affair has a glimmer of
feasibility and probability," said her father, smiling. "But I should be
very anxious about the continuation. Would Roustan, who undresses the
emperor every evening, also be deceived by the masquerade, or would the
conspirators attempt to abduct him also? And then--has it been forgotten
that before going to rest the emperor now works an hour every evening with
his private secretary, Bourrienne?"

"Bourrienne is one of the conspirators. He will enter the room with his
portfolio and remain there an hour, after first bringing to the anteroom
the order, in the emperor's name, to make no further reports to him that
evening, as he was wearied and therefore wished to go to rest early. The
Mameluke Roustan could not be bribed, and therefore the attempt was
relinquished. But the day before, through a dose of arsenic which will be
administered to him, Roustan will be so dangerously ill that he cannot
attend upon the emperor, and Constant will take his place."

"And is the valet Constant one of the conspirators?"

"He is, and he will be on duty during the night in the anteroom of the
bedchamber. In this way the emperor's disappearance will be concealed until
the next morning, and the matter will not become known until the following
day at nine o'clock, when the generals arrive. What will happen then,
whether Eugene is declared emperor or the Bourbons are again summoned to
the throne, will depend upon what occurs in France, and what effect the
emperor's disappearance has upon the minds of the people there. We need
not trouble ourselves about it for the present; it does not belong to the
business which occupies our attention."

"No, no, we have to deal only with the emperor," cried Schulmeister,
laughing, "and I can tell you that I am as anxious about the progress of
this matter as if it were the development of a drama, and that I am
extremely curious to know what more is to be done with the gagged emperor.
We have left him in the hut."

"Yes, and he will remain there until the night has closed in. Then Baron
von Moudenfels and two other conspirators, disguised as workmen, will
convey him in a basket standing ready in the hut, such as are used in the
transportation of the sick to the place in the woods where a carriage will
be waiting for the basket and its companions. They will ride all night
long, relays will be ready everywhere at the appointed spots, and, when
morning dawns, they will have reached the house of a conspirator near
Gratz, and spend the day there. At nightfall the journey will be continued
in the same way, and so, constantly traveling by night and resting by day
in the house of a conspirator, until Trieste is reached. To be prepared for
all casualties, a French passport for the transportation of an invalid to
Trieste has been obtained. Count Andreossy issued it at the request of
Colonel Mariage, and for greater security, Captain de Guesniard, in full
uniform and provided with the necessary legal documents, will accompany the
party to Trieste."

"Who are to be the other companions of the captive emperor?"

"Three more persons will accompany him. First, Baron Moudenfels, the
originator and instigator of the whole plan. Then there are two subaltern
officers in the French army, for whom Captain de Guesniard answers, but
whose names were not mentioned."

"Oh, I will discover them," cried Schulmeister, "be assured I will discover
them; and I am glad that there is some special work for me in this affair.
Go on now, go on, my Leonore."

"There is but little more to say. A ship, laden with grain, lies in the
harbor of Trieste with papers ready to set sail at once for Genoa. The
Baron von Moudenfels, with the prisoner and the two French lieutenants,
will take passage in her for Genoa, where another vessel, furnished by the
Swedish members of the league, is ready to convey the party further. Count
von Kotte has already been sent from here to Genoa by Baron von Moudenfels
to give directions to the captain of the ship, who from that port will
relieve Baron von Moudenfels from the charge of the prisoner."

"And what is the goal of his journey?"

"As I told you, some desolate island in the ocean, where no ships touch.
There the emperor will be put ashore and left to support life like a second
Robinson Crusoe, or in his despair seek death."

"Well, the plan really is not impracticable, and has been devised with
equal boldness and calculation. Only I should like to know why so much ado
is made, instead of adopting the shorter process, that is, murdering the
emperor."

"For two reasons! The conspirators consider their task too sacred to
profane it by assassination. They wish to rid Europe of the unhallowed yoke
which weighs upon it in the person of the Emperor Napoleon. They are
convinced that they are summoned to the work; that they shall thereby
render the world and mankind a service full of blessing; but they will not
anticipate fate; they will leave it to God to end a life which they merely
desire to render harmless to God and men. This is the first motive for not
killing the emperor, the second is that they believe a speedy death would
be no fit punishment for the crime which Napoleon has perpetrated on
humanity, while a perpetual, hopeless captivity, embittered by the
omnipresent, ever alert consciousness of ruined greatness, of fame buried
in dust and silence, would be a lasting penance more terrible to an
ambitious land-robber than death could ever be."

"They are right, by the eternal God, they are right!" cried Schulmeister;
"I believe that the emperor would prefer a speedy death a hundred times to
such slow torture; and to you, Leonore, to you and to me will now fall the
vast, the priceless happiness of preserving the emperor from such
martyrdom. I say the priceless happiness, but I shall take good care that
the emperor pays me for it as dearly as possible, and--so far as it can be
done--balances the immense weight of our service by its compensation. By
heaven, half a million francs really seems a trivial reward, and I don't
know whether we can be satisfied with it."

"I shall be satisfied," cried Leonore, with an enthusiastic glance, "only
when you fulfill the vow which you made; when, after I have made you rich,
you make me free and permit me to go with the man whom I love wherever I
desire, taking care that you do not betray by a word, a hint, who I am, and
what I was."

"I will fulfill my oath to you," said Schulmeister earnestly, "for you have
performed yours. You have discovered a conspiracy, and through this
discovery saved the emperor from a terrible misfortune, and given me the
right to demand a high price. You will make me rich; you will drive the
demon of poverty from my head; I will repay you--I will guard yours from
the demons of disgrace and shame; you shall have no cause to blush in the
presence of the man whom you love. On the day that I bring from the
emperor half a million as my property and yours, your past and mine will
both be effaced, and we will enter upon a new life, in a new world! Let the
spy, Schulmeister, the adventuress Leonore de Simonie; be buried, and new
people, new names, rise from the budding seeds of the half million. But now
farewell, my daughter, my beautiful Leonie. I must begin the work, must
summon all my assistants and subordinates, and assign their tasks, for the
next few days will bring much work. It is not enough for me to inform the
emperor of the existence of a conspiracy, and the plan of the accomplices,
but I must be able to give him convincing and irrefutable proofs of this
plot, that he may not deem it a mere invention which I have devised in
order to be able to claim a large reward. No, the emperor must see that I
am telling him the truth, so I must not let the affair explode too soon. I
must first know the names and residences of all the conspirators,
investigate the details of the whole enterprise, and hold in my hand the
threads of the entire web in order to be sure that all the spiders who have
labored at it will be caught in their own net."

"Do so, father," cried Leonore joyously. "I will leave them all to you--all
these poor spiders of the conspiracy. I feel no pity for them. Let them
die, let them suffer, what do I care! I, too, have suffered, oh, and what
mortal anguish! Yes, let them die and rot; I shall at last be happy, free,
and beloved. Oh, God be praised that the man whom I love is not entangled
in this conspiracy, that I could disclose the whole plot, mention the
names of all the conspirators, without fear of compromising him. Yes, I
thank Thee, my God, that Kolbielsky has no share in this scheme."



CHAPTER VII.

THE REVELATION.


The fatal Thursday had passed, Wednesday had come, yet Leonore had received
no tidings from her father. For three days she had not seen him, had had no
message from him.

But it was not this alone that disturbed and tortured Leonore. She had also
had no news from Kolbielsky, though the week which he had named as the
necessary duration of their parting had expired the day before. He had
said:

"My week of exile will begin from this hour, and the first festival will be
when I again clasp you in my arms."

This week had expired yesterday, and Kolbielsky had not come to clasp his
loved one in his arms again. She had expected him all through the day, all
through the night, and the cause of her present deep anxiety was not
solicitude about her father, the desire to learn the result of the
conspiracy discovered; no, it was only the longing for _him_, the terrible
dread that some accident might have befallen Kolbielsky.

Why did he not come, since he had so positively promised to return at the
end of a week? Was it really only a coincidence that the day which he had
fixed for his return was the selfsame one on which the conspiracy formed by
Napoleon's foes was to break forth?

What if he had had a share in the conspiracy? If he had deceived her,
if--But no, no, that was wholly impossible--that could not be! She knew the
names of the conspirators, especially those of the heads and leaders; she
knew that Kolbielsky's name had not once been mentioned during the whole
discussion between them. So away with anxieties, away with cowardly fears.
Some accident might have detained him, might have caused a day's delay.

To-day, yes, to-day he would come at last! To-day she would see him again,
would rush into his arms, rest on his heart, never, oh! never to part from
him again! Hark, a carriage was stopping before the door! Steps echoed in
the corridor.

They approached, stopped at her door! It is he, oh, surely it is he!

Darting to the door, she tore it open.

No! It was her father, only her father!

With a troubled cry, she sank into the chair beside the door. Her father
went to her; she did not see the sorrowful, almost pitying look he fixed
upon her. She had covered her face with her hands and groaned aloud.
Schulmeister stood before her with a gloomy brow, silent and motionless.

At last, after a long pause, Leonore slowly removed her hands from her face
and raised her head.

"Are we rich now?" she asked in a whisper, as though she feared lest even
the walls should hear her question.

"Yes," he exclaimed joyfully, "yes, we are rich."

Drawing his pocketbook from his coat, he opened it and poured out its
contents, shaking the various papers with their array of high numbers into
Leonore's lap.

"Look, my daughter, my beloved child! Look at these wonderful papers. Ten
banknotes, each one fifty thousand francs. That is half a million, my
Leonore! Look at these papers. Yet no, they are no papers, each is a magic
spell, with which you can make a palace rise out of nothing. See this thin
scrap of paper; a spark would suffice to transform it to ashes, yet you
need only carry it to the nearest banker's to see it changed into a heap of
gold, or glitter as a _parure_ of the costliest diamonds. If you desire it,
these papers will transmute themselves into a magnificent castle, into
liveried servants, into superb carriages. Oh, I already see you standing as
the proud mistress of a stately castle, in your ancestral hall, with
vassals bowing before you, and counts and princes suing for your hand. For
these magic papers will give you everything, everything; not luxury alone,
but honor, rank, and dignity, the love and esteem of men. Take them, for
the whole ten papers shall be yours. I wish to see you rich and happy,
therefore I defied disgrace and mortal peril. Come, my child, let us set
out this very hour to buy with these papers, far away from here, in an
Eden-like region, a castle which shall be adorned with all that luxury and
art can offer. Come, my Leonore, come. We have accomplished our work of
darkness, now day is dawning, now our star is rising. Come, come! Alas, the
days are so short, let us hasten, hasten to enjoy them!"

Leonore slowly shook her head. "_He_ must return," she said solemnly.
"First I must see him again, have him tell me that he will go with me to
that distant region. What would all the treasures of the earth avail, if I
did not have him! What would I care for castles, diamonds, and carriages if
he were not with me! I am expecting him--he may be here at any moment. So
tell me, father--describe quickly how everything has happened. I have not
seen you for three days; I do not know what has occurred, for, strangely,
nothing has reached the public."

"The emperor enjoined the most inviolable silence upon us all," said
Schulmeister gloomily. "The whole affair has been treated and concealed as
the most profound secret. The emperor does not wish to have anything known
about it; no one must deem it possible that people have dared to seek to
take his life, to attempt to capture him. I never saw him in such a fury
as when I first told him the plan of the conspirators. His eyes flashed
lightnings, he stamped his feet, clenched his little hands into fists, and
stretched them threateningly toward the invisible conspirators. He vowed to
kill them all, to take vengeance on them all for the unprecedented crime."

"And has he fulfilled the vow?"

"He has. He has punished the conspirators, so far as lay in his power. But
some of them, for instance Baron von Moudenfels, do not belong to the
number of his subjects, but are Austrians. The emperor did not have the
sentence which he pronounced upon his own subjects executed upon them; he
could not at this time, for you know that negotiations for peace have been
opened, and the treaty will be signed immediately. So the emperor did not
wish to constitute himself a judge of Austrian subjects; it is a delicate
attention to the Austrian emperor, and the latter will know how to thank
him for it and to punish the criminals with all the rigor of the law.
Therefore Baron von Moudenfels and Count von Kotte have merely been held as
prisoners, and were compelled to witness the execution to-day."

"What execution?" asked Leonore in horror.

"Colonel Lejeune, Captain de Guesniard, and two sous-lieutenants were shot
this morning on the meadow at Schönbrunn,"[E] said Schulmeister in a low
tone.

Leonore shuddered, and a deathlike pallor overspread her face. "And _I_
delivered them to death!" she moaned.

"And if you had spared them, you would have delivered the Emperor
Napoleon, the greatest man of the age, to death, to the most terrible
torture of imprisonment!" cried her father, shrugging his shoulders. "These
men wished to commit a crime against their sovereign, their commander. You
have no reason to reproach yourself for having delivered the criminals to
the law."

"And Mariage? What has become of Mariage?"

"Apparently he received a warning; he has fled. But we found all the others
yesterday at their posts; for we had made all our arrangements so secretly
that even the conspirators who surrounded the emperor were not aware of it.
The emperor at first intended to act strictly according to the programme of
the conspirators; take the ride with his suite, and not permit me to come
to his assistance, with a few trustworthy assistants, until after he had
entered the hut and been captured. But he rejected this plan, because he
would have been compelled to arrest his most distinguished generals and
subject the greater number of his staff officers to a rigid investigation.
The whole army would then have heard of this bold conspiracy, and
conspiracies are like contagious diseases, they always have successors. So
the emperor rejected this plan, and, at the moment that his suite were
mounting to attend him on his ride, he dismissed them all, saying that he
wished to go into the woods alone, accompanied only by Colonel Lejeune, the
Mameluke, and myself. You can imagine the mute horror, the deathlike pallor
of the generals. The emperor did not vouchsafe any of them a glance, but
dashed away. When we had ridden into the woods, the emperor checked his
horse and turned to Colonel Lejeune, who, white as a corpse, rode beside
him.

"Your sword, colonel!" he exclaimed, in tones of thunder. "You will not
play the part of emperor to-day, but merely the character of an
arch-traitor and assassin."

At the same instant Roustan and I rode to Lejeune's side, and each seized
an arm. A moment later he was disarmed and deprived of the papers which we
found in his breast pocket, and the tender farewell letters to his wife and
his mother, in case that the enterprise should fail.

"I will have these sent at once to their addresses the morning after your
execution," the emperor said, with a withering glance from his large
flashing eyes. Then he rode on, and we followed, each holding an arm of
Lejeune, who rode between us. At last we reached the hut and the emperor
checked his horse again. Roustan uttered a low whistle and, at the same
instant, six gray-bearded giants of the imperial guard stood beside us as
if they had sprung from the earth. As soon as the conspirators entered the
hut, they had cautiously approached it and, concealed behind the trees,
awaited the preconcerted signal.

The emperor greeted them with the smile which bewitched his old soldiers,
because it reminded them of the days of their great victory.

"I know that you are faithful," he said, "but I should also like to know
whether you are silent."

"Silent as the grave, if the Little Corporal commands it," said old
Conradin, the emperor's favorite.

"Well, I believe you, and you shall give me a proof of it to-day. Clear out
the nest you see there, and catch the birds for me!"

"He pointed with uplifted arm and menacing gesture to the hut; the soldiers
rushed to it and broke in the door. Shouts of rage were heard, several
shots rang out, then all was still, and the old grenadiers dragged out five
men. Three were wounded, but they had avenged themselves, for three of the
soldiers were also injured."

"Was Baron von Moudenfels among the prisoners?" asked Leonore quickly.

"Yes," replied Schulmeister, "yes, he was among them."

"Then you saw him?"

"Yes, I saw him."

The slow, solemn tone with which her father answered made Leonore tremble.
She looked up questioningly into his face, their eyes met, and were fixed
steadily on each other.

"Why do you gaze at me so sadly and compassionately?" asked Leonore
suddenly, cowering as though in fright.

"I did not know that I was doing so," he answered gently.

"You were, you are still," she cried anxiously. "Father, I read misfortune
in your face. You are concealing something from me! You--oh, heaven, you
have news of Kolbielsky."

She started up, letting the bank-notes fall unheeded to the floor, seized
her father's arm with both hands, and gazed silently at him with panting
breath.

He avoided her eyes, released himself almost violently from her grasp,
stooped, picked up the bills and divided them into halves, putting five
into his breast pocket, and giving his daughter the other five.

"Take it, my Leonore; take the magic key which will open Paradise to you!"

She took the bank-notes and, with a contemptuous gesture, flung them on the
floor.

"You know something of Kolbielsky," she repeated. "Where is he? Answer me,
father, if you don't wish me to fall dead at your feet."

"Yet if I do answer, poor child, what will it avail you? He is lost, you
cannot save him."

She neither shrieked nor wept, she only grasped her father's arm more
firmly and looked him steadily in the face.

"Where is Kolbielsky?" she asked. "Answer, or I will kill myself."

"Well, Leonore, I will give you a proof of my infinite love. I will tell
you the truth, the whole truth. When the prisoners were dragged out of the
hut, one of them suddenly made an attempt to escape. The soldier tried to
hold him, they struggled--in the scuffle the conspirator's wig fell off.
Hitherto he had had white hair--"

"It was Baron von Moudenfels?" asked Leonore breathlessly.

"Yes, Leonore, it was Baron von Moudenfels. But when the wig was torn from
his head, we saw no old man, no Baron von Moudenfels, but--"

"Kolbielsky!" she shrieked with a loud cry of anguish.

Her father nodded, and let his head sink upon his breast.

"And he, too, was shot this morning?" she asked in a low, strange whisper.

"No, Leonore. I told you that the emperor, out of regard for his future
ally, the Emperor Francis, did not have him executed. He simply imprisoned
him and punished him only by compelling him to witness the execution. He
will leave it to the Emperor Francis to pronounce sentence of death upon
the assassin."

"He lives? You will swear that he lives?" she asked breathlessly.

"I will swear that he lives, and that he will live until the return of the
courier whom Count Bubna, who is in Schönbrunn attending to the peace
negotiations--has sent to Totis to the Emperor Francis."

The Baroness de Simonie bounded like a tigress through the room, tearing at
the bell till it sounded like a tocsin and the servants came rushing in
terror from the anteroom.

"My carriage--it must be ready in five minutes!" she cried. The servants
ran out and Leonore darted across the room, tore open the door of the
adjoining chamber, opened a wardrobe in frantic haste, and dragged out a
cloak, which she flung over her shoulders.

"In heaven's name, Leonore, are you out of your senses?" asked her father,
who had hurried after her and now seized her arm. "What do you mean to do?
Where are you going?"

"To the Emperor Napoleon!" she cried loudly. "To the Emperor Napoleon, to
save the life of the man I love. Give me the money, father!"

"What money, Leonore?"

"The bank-notes! The blood-money which I have earned!"

Her father had carefully gathered up the bank-bills which she had thrown
about the room, and gave them to her. Leonore shuddered as she clenched
them in her trembling hands. "I have sold him," she shrieked, raising the
hand that held the papers toward heaven. "His blood clings to this money.
But I will hurl it at the emperor's feet. I want no pay; I will beg his
life for my recompense. Pray father, pray that he may hear me, may grant me
mercy, for I swear by all that is sacred, if Kolbielsky must die, I will
kill his murderers. And his murderers are--you and I!"

"The carriage is at the door," said a servant, entering.

She sprang forward. "I am coming. Pray, father, pray for mercy upon my
loved one's murderers!"



CHAPTER VIII.

PARDON.


Four days had elapsed since the execution at Schönbrunn. Baron von
Kolbielsky had been forced to attend it and was then conveyed to Vienna to
spend dreary, lonely days at the police station in the Krebsgasse.

He had vainly asked at least to be led before his judges to receive his
sentence. The jailer, to whom Kolbielsky uttered these requests whenever he
entered, always replied merely with a silent shrug of the shoulders, and
went away as mute as he had come.

But yesterday, late in the evening, he had entered, accompanied by the
Chief Commissioner Göhausen, two magistrates, and a clergyman. With a
solemn, immovable official countenance Commissioner Göhausen opened the
document which his subordinate handed to him, and, in a loud voice, read
its contents. It was a sentence of death. The death-sentence of Baron
Friedrich Carl Glare von Kolbielsky "on account of sympathy and complicity
in a murderous assault upon the sacred life of his annointed imperial ally
and friend, Napoleon, emperor of the French."[F] Early the following
morning, at dawn, Baron Friedrich Carl Glare von Kolbielsky must be shot at
Schönbrunn.

Kolbielsky had listened to this death-warrant with immovable composure--no
word, no entreaty for pardon escaped his lips. But he requested the
priest, who desired to remain to pray with him and receive his confession,
to leave him.

"What I have to confess, only God must know," he said, smiling proudly. "In
our corrupt times even the secrets of the confessional are no longer
sacred, and if I confessed the truth to you, it would mean the betrayal of
my friends. God sees my heart; He knows its secrets and will have mercy on
me. I wish to be alone, that is the last favor I request."

So he was left alone--alone during this long bitter night before his doom!
Yet he was not solitary! His thoughts were with him, and his love--his love
for Leonore!

Never had he so ardently worshipped her as on this night of anguish. Never
had he recalled with such rapture her beauty, her indescribable charm, as
on this night when, with the deepest yearning of his heart, he took leave
of her. Ah, how often, how often, carried away by the fervor of his
feelings, he had stretched out his arms to the empty air, whispering her
dear, beloved name, and not ashamed of the tears which streamed from his
eyes. He had sacrificed his life to hate, to his native land, but his last
thoughts, his last greetings, might now be given to the woman whom he
loved. All his desires turned to her. Oh, to see her once more! What
rapture thrilled him at the thought! And he knew that she would come if he
sent to her; she would have the daring courage to visit his prison to bring
him her last love-greeting. He need only call the jailer and say to him:

"Hasten to Baroness de Simonie in Schottengasse. Tell her that I beg her
to come here; tell her that I must die and wish to bid her farewell. She is
my betrothed bride; she has a right to take leave of me."

He only needed to say this and his request would have been fulfilled, for
the last wishes of the dying and of those condemned to death are sacred,
and will never be denied, if it is possible to grant them.

But he had the strength to repress this most sacred, deepest desire of his
heart, for such a message would have compromised _her_. Perhaps she, too,
might have been dragged into the investigation, punished as a criminal,
though she was innocent.

No, he dared not send to her! His Leonore, the beloved, worshipped idol of
his heart, should not suffer a moment's anxiety through him. He loved her
so fervently that for her sake he joyfully sacrificed even his longing for
her. Let her think of him as one who had vanished! Let her never learn that
Baron von Moudenfels, the man who would be shot in a few hours, was the man
whom she loved. He would meet death calmly and joyfully, for he would leave
her hope! Hope of a meeting--not yonder, but here on earth! She would
expect him, she would watch for him daily in love and loyalty, and
gradually, gently and easily, she would become accustomed to the thought of
seeing him no more. Yet, while doing so, she would not deem him faithless,
would not suppose that he had abandoned her, but would know that it was
destiny which severed them--that if he did not return to her, he had gone
to the place whence there is no return.

"Oh, Leonore, dearly loved one! Never to see you again, never again to hear
from your lips those sweet, sacred revelations of love; never again to look
into your eyes, those eyes which shine more brightly than all the stars in
heaven."

It was already growing lighter. Dawn was approaching. Yonder, in the dark
night sky a dull golden streak appeared, the harbinger of day. The sun was
rising, bringing to the world and all its creatures, life; but to him, the
condemned man, death.

Still he would die for his native land, for liberty! That was consolation,
support. He had sought to rid the world of the tyrant who had crushed all
nations into the dust, destroyed all liberty. Fate had not favored him; it
shielded the tyrant. So Kolbielsky was dying. Not as a criminal, but as the
martyr of a great and noble cause would he front death. And though fate had
not favored him now, some day it would avenge him, avenge him on the tyrant
Napoleon. It would hurl him from his height, crush him into the dust,
trample him under foot, as he now trampled under his feet the rights and
the liberties of the nations.

There was comfort, genuine consolation in this thought. It made death easy.
The dawn grew brighter. Crimson clouds floated from all directions across
the sky! Perhaps he would be summoned in half an hour.

No, not even half an hour's delay. His executioners were punctual. The
bolts on the outer door were already rattling.

"Come, Kolbielsky, be brave, proud, and strong. Meet them with a joyous
face; let no look betray that you are suffering! They are coming, they are
coming! Farewell, sweet, radiant life! Farewell, Leonore! Love of my heart,
farewell!"

The inner door was opened--Kolbielsky advanced to meet his executioners
with proud composure and a smiling face. But what did this mean? Neither
executioner, priest, nor judge appeared, but a young man, wrapped in a
cloak, with his head covered by a broad-brimmed hat that shaded his face.

Who was it? Who could it be? Kolbielsky stood staring at him, without the
strength to ask a question. The young man also leaned for a moment,
utterly crushed and powerless, against the wall beside the door. Then
rousing himself by a violent effort, he bent toward the gray-bearded jailer
who stood in the doorway with his huge bunch of keys in his hand, and
whispered a few words. The jailer nodded, stepped back into the corridor,
closed the door behind him and locked it.

The young man flung aside the cloak which shrouded his figure. What did
this mean? He wore Kolbielsky's livery; from his dress he appeared to be
his servant, yet he was not the man whom he had had in his service for
years.

Kolbielsky had the strength to go a few steps forward.

"Who are you?" he asked in a low tone. "Good heavens, who are you?"

The youth flung off his hat and rushed toward Kolbielsky. "Who am I? I?"
he cried exultingly. "Look at me and say who I am."

A cry, a single cry escaped Kolbielsky's lips, then seizing the youth's
slender figure in his arms, he bore it to the window.

The first rays of the rising sun were shining in and fell upon the young
man's face.

Oh, blessed be thou, radiant sun, for thou bringest eternal life, thou
bringest love.

"It is she! It is my Leonore! My love, my--"

He could say no more. Pressing her tenderly in his arms, he bowed his head
upon her shoulder and wept--wept bitterly. But they were tears of delight,
of ecstasy--tears such as mortals weep when they have no words to express
their joy. Tears such as are rarely shed on earth.

Yet no. He would not weep, for tears will dim her image. He wished to see
her, imprint her face deep, deep upon his heart that it might still live
there while he died.

He took the beautiful, beloved head between his hands and gazed at it with
a happy smile.

"Have you risen upon me again, my heavenly stars? Do you shine on me once
more, ere I enter eternal night?"

Bending lower he kissed her eyes and again gazed at her, smiling.

"Why do your lips quiver? Why do they utter no word of love? Oh, let me
break the seal of silence which closes them."

Bending again to the beloved face which rested in his hands, he kissed the
lips.

"Speak, my Leonore, speak! Bid me a last farewell; tell me that you will
always love me, that you will never forget me, though I must leave you."

"No, no," she cried exultingly, "no, you will not leave me, you will stay
with me."

Releasing herself and gazing at him with her large flashing eyes she
repeated:

"You will stay with me."

"Oh, my sweet love, I cannot! They have sentenced me to death. They will
soon come to summon me."

"No, no, my dear one, they will not come to lead you to death. They will
not kill you. I bring you life! I bring you pardon!"

"Pardon!" he cried, almost shrieked. "Pardon! But from whom?"

"Pardon from your sovereign and master, from the Emperor Francis!"

"God be praised. I can accept it from _him_," cried Kolbielsky jubilantly.
"So I am free? Speak, dearest, I am free?"

She shook her head slowly and sadly. "I have been able only to save you
from death," she said mournfully. "I have been able only to obtain your
life, but alas! not your liberty."

"Then I remain a prisoner?"

"Yes, a prisoner."

"For how long?"

"For life," she murmured in a voice barely audible.

But Kolbielsky--laughed.

"For life! That means--so long as Napoleon lives and is powerful. But he
will die; he will fall, and then my emperor will release me; then I shall
belong to life, to the world; then I shall again be yours! I will accept my
emperor's pardon, for it is you who bring it to me--you have obtained it.
You say so, and I know it. You hastened to Totis, you threw yourself at the
emperor's feet, pleaded for mercy, and he could not resist your fiery zeal,
your bewitching personality. But how did you know that I was arrested? Who
told you that I was Baron von Moudenfels?"

"My uncle," she replied with downcast eyes, "my uncle brought me the
tidings; he told me that Napoleon, through Count Bubna, had sent a courier
to Totis, to the Emperor Francis, and asked your condemnation. I hastened
to Schönbrunn; I succeeded in overcoming all obstacles and reaching the
emperor. I threw myself at his feet, confessed amid my tears that I loved
you, begged for your life. And he granted it; he became your intercessor to
the Emperor Francis. He wrote a few lines, which I was to convey to Totis
myself. I did so, hastening thither with post-horses. I spoke to the
emperor. He was deeply moved, but he had not the courage to take any
decisive step; he still dreaded offending his new ally. The Emperor
Napoleon begs me to grant Kolbielsky's life, he said. 'I will do so, but
can do nothing more for the present. I will grant him life, but I cannot
give him liberty. He must be taken to the Hungarian fortress Leopoldstadt.
There he must remain so long as he lives.'"

"To Leopoldstadt! In an open grave," cried Kolbielsky gloomily. "Cut off
from the world, in joyless solitude, far from you. Oh, death, speedy death
would be better and--"

"No," she interrupted, "not far from me! I will remain with you. The
emperor at my fervent entreaty, permitted your servant, your faithful
servant, to accompany you, share your imprisonment. Now look at me,
beloved, look at me. I wear your livery, I am the faithful servant who has
the right to go with you. Oh! no, no, we will be parted no longer. I shall
stay with you."

Clasping both arms around his neck, she pressed a glowing kiss upon his
lips.

But Kolbielsky released himself from the sweet embrace and gently pushed
her back. "That can never be--never will I accept such a sacrifice from
you. No, you shall not bury your beauty, your youthful bloom in a living
tomb. Your tender foot is not made to tread the rough paths of life. The
proud Baroness de Simonie, accustomed to the splendor, luxury, and comfort
of existence must not drag out her life in unworthy humiliation. I thank
you, love, for the sacrifice you wish to make, but nothing will induce me
to accept it. Return to the world, my worshipped one! Keep your love, your
fidelity! Wait for me. Even though years may pass, the hour of liberty will
at last strike and then I will return to you!"

"No, no!" she impetuously exclaimed. "I will not leave you; I will cling to
you. You must not repulse me. The emperor has given your servant the right
to stay with you. I am your servant. I shall stay!"

"Leonore, I entreat you, do not ask what is impossible. There are
sacrifices which a man can never accept from the woman he loves--which
humiliate him as they ennoble her. I should blush before your nobility; it
would bow me into the dust. Leonore de Simonie must not leave the pure,
proud sphere in which she lives; she must remain what she is, the queen of
the drawing-room."

"Is this your final answer?" she asked, turning deadly pale.

"My final one."

"Well, then, hear me! You shall know who I am; you shall at least learn
that you might accept every sacrifice from me without ever being obliged to
blush in my presence. You thrust me from you, that is, you thrust me into
death! Yes, I will die, I wish to die, but first you shall hear from my
lips the truth, that you may not grieve, may not shed a single tear for me.
So hear me, Carl, hear me! I am not what you believe. My foot is not
accustomed to the soft paths of life--the world of splendor and honor is
not mine. From my earliest childhood I have walked in obscurity and
humiliation, in disgrace and shame, a dishonored, ignominious creature."

As if crushed by her own words she sank down at his feet, and raised her
clasped hands beseechingly, while her head drooped low on her breast.

Kolbielsky gazed at her with an expression of unspeakable horror, then a
smile flitted over his face.

"You are speaking falsely," he cried, "you are speaking falsely out of
generosity."

"Oh, would to heaven it were so!" she lamented. "No, believe me, I am
telling the truth; I am not what I seem; I am not the Baroness de Simonie."

"Not Baroness de Simonie? Then who are you?" he shrieked frantically.

"I am a paid spy of the Emperor Napoleon, and the spy Schulmeister is my
father."

Kolbielsky uttered a cry of fury and raised his clenched fist as if he
intended to let it fall upon her head. But he repressed his rage and turned
away. Despair and grief now overpowered him. He tottered to a chair and,
sinking into it, covered his face and wept aloud.

Leonore was still kneeling, but when she heard him sob she started up,
rushed to him, and again throwing herself at his feet, she embraced his
knees.

"Do not weep--curse me! Thrust me from you, but do not weep. Alas! yet I
have deserved your tears. I am a poor, lost creature. Yes, do not weep. I
have suffered much, sinned much, but also atoned heavily. Yes, weep for me!
My life lies bare as a torn wreath of roses in the dust--not a blossom
remains, nothing save the pathway of thorns, grief, and torture. Yes, weep
for me--weep for a lost existence. I was innocent and pure, but I was
poor--that was my misfortune. Poverty drove my father to despair, drove us
both to disgrace and crime. Oh, God! I was so young, and I wanted to live;
I did not wish to die of starvation, and the tempter came to me in my
father's form, whispering, 'Have money and you will have honor! Help
yourself, for men and women will not aid you. They turn contemptuously
away because you are poor. To-morrow, if you are rich, they will pay court
to you, honor, and love you. I offer you the means to become rich. Give me
your hand, Leonore, despise the people who leave us to die, and follow me.'
I gave him my hand, I followed him, I became Napoleon's spy. I had money, I
had a name, I saw people throng around me, I learned to despise them, and
therefore I could betray them. But, in the midst of my brilliant life, I
was unhappy, for the consciousness of my shame constantly haunted me,
constantly cast its shadow upon me. And one day, one day I saw and loved
you! From that day I was the victim of anguish and despair. On my knees I
besought my father to release me, to permit me to escape from the world. He
threatened to betray my past, my disgrace to you. And I--oh, God, I loved
you--I yielded, I remained. My father vowed that, if I made him rich, he
would set me free. I discovered a conspiracy. You were not among the
accomplices--I betrayed it. I wanted to serve _you_ by the treachery and I
plunged you into ruin."

Tears gushed from her eyes; the sobs so long repressed burst forth and
stifled the words on her lips. Kolbielsky no longer wept. He had let his
hands fall from his face, and was listening to her in deep thought, in
breathless suspense. Now, when she paused sobbing, he stretched out his
hand as if he wished to raise Leonore, then he seemed to hesitate and
withdrew it.

She did not see it; she did not venture to look at him; she gazed only into
her tortured heart. "I have betrayed you," she continued, after an
anxious, sorrowful pause. "Oh, when I learned it, a sword pierced my soul
and severed it from every joy of life. I knew, in that hour, that I had
fallen a prey to despair, but I wished at least to rescue you. I have saved
you, that is the sole merit of my life. Napoleon could not resist my
despair, my tears, my wrath--he pitied me. He gave your life to me. All the
blood-money which I had gained, all the splendor which surrounded me, I
flung at my father's feet. I released myself from him forever, and, that my
penance might be complete, I called all my servants and revealed my
ignominy to them. Then I left the palace where I had lived so long in
gilded shame. I took nothing with me. I call nothing mine except these
clothes and the name of Leonore. Now you know all, and you will no longer
be able to say that I can make a sacrifice for you. Decide whether I must
die, or whether you will pardon me. Let me atone; let me live--live as your
slave, your thrall. I desire nothing save to see you, serve you, live for
you. You need never speak to me, never deem me worthy of a word. I will
divine your orders without them. I will sleep on your threshold like a
faithful dog, that loves you though you thrust him from you--who caresses
the hand that strikes him. I have deserved the blows; I will not murmur,
only let me, let me live."

She gazed imploringly at him, with a face beaming with enthusiasm and love.

And he?

A ray of enthusiasm illumined his face also. He bent over the kneeling
figure, laid his hands on her shoulders, and gazed into her face while
something akin to a divine smile illumined his features.

"When I bade you farewell," he said softly, "I said that if I returned, I
would ask you a momentous question. Do you know what it was?"

She shrank and a burning blush crimsoned her cheeks, but she did not
venture to reply, only gazed breathlessly at him with fixed eyes.

He bent close to her and, smiling, whispered:

"Leonore, will you be my wife?"

With a cry of joy she sprang into his arms, laughing and weeping in her
ecstasy.

Kolbielsky pressed her closely to his heart and laid his hand upon her head
as if in benediction.

"You have atoned," he said solemnly. "You shall be forgiven, for you have
suffered heavily! You have come to me homeless. Henceforth my heart shall
be your home. You have cast aside your name--I offer you mine in exchange.
Will you be my wife?"

She whispered a low, happy "yes."

An hour later an officer of justice arrived to announce to Kolbielsky his
change of sentence to perpetual imprisonment and inform him that the
carriage was waiting to convey him to Leopoldstadt.

Kolbielsky now desired to see the priest whose ministration he had formerly
refused, and when, half an hour later, he entered the carriage, Leonore was
his wife. She accompanied him, disguised as his servant, for the permission
to attend the prisoner to Leopoldstadt was given in that name. But the
priest promised to go to the emperor himself and obtain for the wife the
favor which had been granted to the servant.

He kept his word, and, a few weeks later, the governor of Leopoldstadt
received the imperial command to allow the wife of the imprisoned Baron von
Kolbielsky to share his captivity.

But Kolbielsky's hope of a speedy release was not to be fulfilled. Napoleon
had become the emperor of Austria's son-in-law, and thereby Kolbielsky's
position was aggravated. He knew too many of the Emperor Francis' secrets,
could betray too much concerning the emperor's hate, and secret intrigues
of which Francis himself had been aware. He was dangerous and therefore
must be kept in captivity.

In his wrath he wrote vehement, insulting letters to the Emperor Francis,
made himself guilty of high-treason. So they were well satisfied to find
him worthy of punishment, and render the troublesome fault-finder forever
harmless.

So he remained a prisoner long after Napoleon had been overthrown. His wife
died many years before him, leaving one daughter, who, when a girl of
eighteen, married a distinguished Austrian officer. Her entreaties and her
husband's influence finally succeeded in securing Kolbielsky's liberation.
In the year 1829 he was permitted to leave Leopoldstadt, to live with his
daughter at Ofen, where he died in 1831.


THE END.



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FOOTNOTES:

[A] Napoleon's own words. See Hormayr, "Universal History of Modern Times,"
part III., p. 136.

[B] Historical. See Hormayr's "Universal History."

[C] Historical. "Anemones from the Diary of an Old Pilgrim," Part II., p.
99.

[D] Historical. See "Anemones," Part II., p. 90.

[E] Historical. See "Anemones," Part II,. p. 90.

[F] "Anemones," Part II., p. 93.





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