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Title: Withered Leaves. Vol. I. (of III) - A Novel
Author: Gottschall, Rudolf von, 1823-1909
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Withered Leaves. Vol. I. (of III) - A Novel" ***

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Transcriber's Notes:

   1. Page scan source: Google Books

   2. The diphthong oe is represented by [oe].

                             OPINION OF THE

                            SATURDAY REVIEW

                                 ON THE

                             GERMAN EDITION


                            WITHERED LEAVES.

                           *   *   *   *   *

"'Withered Leaves' is a highly effective novel, * * * * * cleverly
constructed, full of varied incident, excellently written, and
indicating the accomplished literary craftsman on every page."

                            WITHERED LEAVES.

                                A Novel,


                         Rudolf von Gottschall.

                            FROM THE GERMAN,

                            By BERTHA NESS.

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

                             THREE VOLUMES.

                           *   *   *   *   *

                        AUTHORISED TRANSLATION.

                           *   *   *   *   *

                                VOL. I.

                           *   *   *   *   *

                           REMINGTON AND CO.,
                     5, Arundel Street, Stand, W.C.
                               *   *   *

                        [_All Rights Reserved_.]

                         CONTENTS OF VOLUME I.


       I.--On the Fuchs-spitze.

      II.--The Blue Campanula.

     III.--Dual Love and Evil Repute.

      IV.--Bathing Pictures.

       V.--The Amber Merchant.

      VI.--On Land and Sea.

     VII.--The Ordensburg.

    VIII.--On Lago Maggiore.

      IX.--An Election Dinner.

       X.--The Proposal.

      XI.--In Neukuhren.

     XII.--Under the Pear Tree.

                            WITHERED LEAVES.

                               CHAPTER I.

                          ON THE FUCHS-SPITZE.

Large and full stood the moon in the eastern sky, and reflected its
broken light in the troubled waves which the Baltic Sea cast upon the
coast of Samland; it silvered the tangled thicket of the ravine through
which here and there quivered a ray of the woodland stream, with its
scanty supply of water, as with difficulty it forced its way amongst
the stones onward to the ocean. The primordiate blocks of granite,
which kept watch at the estuary of the streamlet, gained a venerable
appearance in the light of the planets; but more venerable still
appeared the primeval oaks of Perkunos, with their silvery tips, as
they rose upon the rocky projection, and down whose lightning-struck
stems the moonlight glided softly.

Was it a priestess of the old heathen deities who stood there, in her
light robe, leaning against the trunk of the mightiest oak, her gaze
turned outwards upon the wide sea, whose opposite breakers washed the
land of the ancient Vikings? But no! The heathen priestesses, who
sacrificed at the oaks of their gods, were venerable women, while that
slender figure bore all the witchery of youth, and looked much too
gentle for such a horrible craft! So much spiritual tenderness lay in
her large, widely-opened gazelle-like eyes, and besides--many, many
centuries ago the days of Paganism had passed away, even although then,
as now, the waves beat upon the strand, and the tops of the oaks
rustled, for we live in the nineteenth century; old Herkus Monte and
the other Nathang and Samland leaders of armies have long since been
replaced by the commanders of the King of Prussia's regiments and
battalions, and for two years this coast, like the whole land of
Prussia, has been ruled over by that spirited Hohenzollern Prince,
Friedrich Wilhelm IV.

"How it blows," said the Regierungsrath, as he buttoned his overcoat
more closely, "I do not love these evening amusements; I find that the
sea makes a much deeper impression by day, and then, one does not
expose oneself to the danger of paying for these so-called enjoyments
of nature with rheumatic pains."

"But, my husband," replied the Regierungsräthin, a fine woman, a
thorough Lithuanian, whose cradle stood on the shores of Memel, "you
are indeed too prosaic! One must just for once see the ocean by
moonlight; besides Evchen has cherished this wish for long. Two weeks
already have we been in Warnicken, and always have gone to bed as the
moon rose."

"We do not go in for marine painting," replied the Regierungsrath
drily, as his chin disappeared farther and farther into his enormous
white cravat, "and Eva, too, will take cold. The girl has a delicate
constitution; you, dear wife, judge all the world by yourself; but we
are not all so fortunate as to possess weather-proof giant natures. How
the girl stands there in her light summer dress! Eva, wrap your shawl
round you, a cold breeze from the north is blowing."

The girl awoke as if from a dream, she wrapped herself obediently in
the shawl that she carried upon her arm, and hastened towards her
father and mother, who were standing against the foremost railing of
the projection.

"Oh, how beautiful, how enchantingly beautiful it is here," cried Eva,
with her heart full, and tears standing in her eyes, tears such as only
youth can shed in overflowing moods, when the charm of nature
presciently awakes gloomy feelings in the heart.

The Regierungsrath could not explain these tears to himself, because
every rational cause for them was wanting, and indeed every irrational
one; any kind of wish denied would speedily have solved the mystery for
him. Therefore he made the cold wind responsible, and folded his
daughter still more closely in her shawl. Her mother, on the contrary,
who had equally little sympathy with such-like emotional outbreaks, but
knew better how to divine their cause, cried, reprovingly--

"Learn to wean yourself from over-sensitiveness, dear child! How often
already have I been obliged to tell you so! You must learn gradually to
control your feelings. All this is very beautiful: moonshine and
ocean's tide, groups of trees and wooded vallies, and the steep
precipitous rocks; yet one must not admire it too much; it is after all
an old tale, and one must not appear too new to the world. What would
people say to it? At some period one must leave school behind, and
enter into life."

Eva pressed herself deprecatingly against her mother, whose gigantic
form towered above the slender girl; but her father, after having taken
a pinch of snuff, assumed a complacent tone of voice, and began to
expound his views as to the capabilities of profit possessed by the
Samland sea-bathing places. Eva had ample leisure to survey the
beautiful picture of the moonlight evening, to follow the lines of the
surf-surrounded coasts to the uttermost foreland, and ever again to
lower her gaze into the mystery of the Wolf's schlucht, above which the
most luxuriant vegetation rose and fell like green breakers in the
sough of the night wind.

Then voices suddenly arose from the paths which led upward through the
wood to the Fuchs-spitze; they were not the melodies of strolling
singers, but the music of artists. One female voice, by its beautiful
full tone, made itself conspicuous amongst all the others, and that
singer's execution appeared to be by no means inconsiderable. The
Regierungsrath found this interruption to his discourse the more
disagreeable, because he was about to make a few propositions by which
sea-bathing places, such as this romantic Warnicken, could be raised
out of their rude primitive condition into fashionable watering places.

In the meanwhile the party of male and female singers had reached the
summit, their hats and coats garlanded with wreaths of leaves. They
appeared to be in a most lively mood, and broke out into loud
rejoicings when they had gained the point whence a view could be
obtained; some clapped their hands, and at a signal, which an elderly
gentleman gave with a walking-stick used as a conductor's _bâton_, all
began to sing a most artistically correct _Jodler_. In the faces and in
the whole demeanour of the party there lay that peculiarity by which
actors and actresses are unmistakable even in their exterior; an air of
mental freedom, the assurance and self-sufficiency of manner, and at
the same time the appearance of struggling after an ideal, which even
those know how to maintain who follow their art as a rather rude
handicraft. In fact, they were singers from the provincial capital, who
were wandering along the shore for a holiday excursion, but had set up
their head-quarters in the favourite seaside watering place Cranz,
which by its sociable doings atoned for what its desolate strand lacked
in natural beauty.

It soon became apparent that the most prominent female person in the
group, a tall figure with southern glowing eyes, with noble
aristocratic features, and dark hair that shone amongst the green oak
branches with the polish of ebony, was that accomplished singer, who,
during the party's ascent, had borne away the prize of song. Leaning
over the balustrade, she warbled a melody into the night air, with
trills and cadences irreproachably executed, while the fuller notes
were uttered with most soul-felt intensity of expression.

"Bravo, Signora Bollini!" cried the elderly gentleman, who had
previously waved the _bâton_, "even the most unfavourable critic, the
most venomous monster that lurks in any newspaper's crevice, would be
obliged to write a laudatory criticism upon this performance. Besides
you are in wonderfully good voice."

"You know, dear Conductor," replied the Signora, "that I possess an
impressionable soul; here in free beautiful nature I regulate my powers
quite differently from what I do when I stand behind you at the piano,
looking down upon its venerable smooth surface, and the pages of music
upon the lifeless paper, that I am to transpose into ringing coin. One
must have illusions, best of conductors; but to sing to order, at the
appointed time, as announced on the black board, for wages which
themselves sometimes belong to illusions, takes away all inclination,
and acts most depressingly upon one's mind. Art can only thrive in

"It is well known to us all," said the Conductor, "that our beautiful
_prima donna_ belongs to those natures, which, in the language of art,
may be designated as _cappricciose_, and which only with difficulty can
accustom themselves to any regular walk in life, or indeed to any rules
of business."

"Now you are talking of business again," said the Signora, "naming art
and business in one breath, it is enough to make all the muses take to

"Well, well," replied the Director, "everything in the world will have
its season, and as regards business, _prime donne_ do not understand
that so badly when honorariums for their performances, or profitable
paragraphs, are concerned."

"Not seldom, dear Master," said the singer, with a winning expression
of countenance, which suddenly became somewhat gentler, and more
amiable. That which she had said about her impressionability, had been
confirmed by the rapid change of her face's expression; yes, it
betokened cordial acquiescence, most unhesitating reciprocation of
everything that was friendly; the greatest readiness to follow the
other's moods, the trains of thought, certainly as it seemed, without
that reserve which stricter womanliness required, as the flattering
speeches by which she now sought to assuage the Conductor, contained
something syren-like; every word was a caress, and only slight mockery,
which sometimes echoed from them, showed that no real affection
prompted their utterance.

This party was very disagreeable to the Regierungsrath; he did not love
art, he liked to avoid all artists; in his eyes closer intercourse with
them did not appear suitable to his position and he was glad to
withdraw himself from the brotherly manner in which the disciples of
art seek to place themselves on a footing of equality with all other
mortals. He was on the point of taking flight from the Fuchs-spitze,
which had suddenly become a Parnassus to him, when he was prevented
doing so by the greeting of a young man, who released himself from the
oak-leaf-wreathed group and stepped towards him.

"Good evening, Herr Regierungsrath Kalzow," rang the cordial greeting
accompanied by a hearty shake of the hand, with which the female
members of the Kalzow family were also favoured.

"Ah, Herr Doctor Schöner," replied the Rath, "what brings you here,
then, in such jovial company?"

"You know," replied the young Doctor of Law, "that the ministry puts a
stop to my political career, will not grant me the _venia legendi_ at
the University. Thus I have been obliged to exchange the useful for the
agreeable; I have dedicated myself as dramatic scenery assistant to the
theatre, and belong to a certain extent to the strolling troupe. We
have just come from Memel, where we stirred up the Jack tars to
enthusiasm with our melodies; then we waded through the sand of the
Kurische Nehrung; sailed across the waters of the Kurische Haff in a
smoking steamboat and settled down domestically in Cranz. The opera
namely, and I, who although I really live on very bad terms with the
trebles and general bass, yet am more enthusiastic about the operatic
than the dramatic company, and at least enjoy my holidays with the
former; the ballet, too, is represented here! Look, that languishing
lady there is our _première danseuse_, does she not look something like
one of the moon's rays that had been left behind? Each of her _pas_ is
a danced sigh. None of these ladies will receive a part through me;
therefore I believe in the disinterestedness of their love glances."

The Doctor had only made these confessions to the Rath. Eva, with her
mother, had retreated farther into the shadowy net of a Perkunos oak;
but suddenly a peculiar pallor lay upon her features.

Young Schöner was well known to her; she had often seen and spoken to
him in a friend's house, and as he strove very eagerly to gain her
good-will, she had not remained perfectly indifferent to him.

Indeed, he might well win a girlish heart by his uncommon character. He
behaved much more romantically than all adherents of art; his velvet
coat, certainly, had been neat and glossy when it came from the tailor;
yet it was terribly receptive of everything that flies about in the
air, and soon lost all its charms of freshness.

A wide, turned-down shirt collar, without any intervening neckerchief,
lay extended over his shoulders, like linen upon a bleaching-ground; a
student's velvet cap sat defiantly upon his brow, even although it had
now forfeited the silver Albertus, the proud badge of the academical
citizens of Albertina, and the thorn stick in his hand quite answered
to that one which the "wild man" carries in popular pictures.

His long black hair, however, which fell down upon his shoulders,
enframed an interesting face, which was sharply, but not badly cut, and
was surmounted by a pair of fiery and remarkable eyes.

The young Doctor, indeed, was an aspiring young fellow, and had allowed
several poetical larks to rise, whose warbling notes had been heard
afar through Germany.

At two-and-twenty years of age he was a species of celebrity, and
celebrity is often the easily-obtained fruit of fashion. At that time
everything was the fashion that came from the Baltic shore, where the
beacons of political freedom blazed.

Thus young Doctor Schöner was deemed a genius--that is a strong letter
of recommendation to a young girl, who has just left school--and,
therefore, even the keen female eye does not perceive those tiny specks
upon the velvet coat and that unfashionable hair, which detests the

The young poet now went towards Eva, and commenced a conversation with
her about the beauty of the evening, and the beauties in the party of
actresses, extolling Signora Bollini with glowing eulogy.

Eva, who leaned against the trunk of the giant oak, would have liked
best to hide herself in it like a dryad, so as not to be obliged to
listen to this praise, not to look at this goddess of art.

"Doctorchen, whither have you vanished?" suddenly rang the Signora's
mellifluous voice, audible far around, and stepping nearer, she said,
with a graceful inclination towards mother and daughter: "Ah, with the
blue-bell, in the shadow of the sacred oak! You must spare my
amanuensis tome to-day, ladies. He knows the road, the path, the names
of all the hills on the coast, and the little bays--he is my map."

At the Signora's first words, Schöner had retreated from Eva, as though
he had been caught upon forbidden paths. He introduced the ladies to
one another, and immediately disappeared amongst the group of actors.

After a few polite words, which she had exchanged with the
Regierungsrath's family, the Signora was back again in the midst of her
own people.

Again a bright song resounded, accompanied by the waves breaking still
louder on the shore.

Annoyed at the long stay, the Regierungsrath gave the signal to return
home, and as they departed Eva could still hear the singer's merry

"Now ladies, away into the surging tide! Who would not wish to be a
moonlight-water-fairy for once? I feel like a spirit of the elements,
and my adorers have long since declared me to be an Undine, because in
their opinion I have no soul. All the same--souls are the cheapest
things in the world, and the smallest State has many hundreds of
thousands of them! Besides, one must be able to exist without a soul,
if one can only offer some substitute for it."

"Bravo!" cried Schöner; "long live our Undine!"

"Therefore, gentlemen, _abonnement suspendu_ for the Baltic Sea?
To-night it belongs to the ladies, and you return quietly to the hotel.
You need have no fear that I shall transform myself down below in the
breaking surf into a Melusina, and perhaps, coquette with a fish's
tail. I am no silvery-scaled monster, but both on land and in water a
woman _comme il faut_. _En avant_, ladies! Here are no hearses as in
Cranz; here one springs from the shore into the waves, and the only
Actæon who plays the spy upon us is the moon! It shall have its horns;
it will soon enter upon its last quarter!"

Ladies and gentlemen descended the Fuchs-spitze on separate paths.

Eva had not lost a word of the singer's speech; it caused her to shiver
uncomfortably, and she wrapped herself more closely in her shawl.

"An intolerable party," said the Regierungsrath to his wife; "so bold,
so impudent."

"I do not understand," replied she, "how young Doctor Schöner can find
pleasure in it."

"I understand it quite well! It is just the society for such
ill-regulated minds! He would never have been fitted for a political
career; it is not that he has no head, but everything ferments and
surges in him in wild confusion."

"Perhaps he would settle down in time."

"Never! A thorn bends itself early to the form which it is to assume,
and an official must bend himself betimes; I mean by this, control and
govern himself, as we have only one gospel, that of duty!"

"He is thoughtless with girls, too; without exception, he pays
attention to all, if they only belong in any degree to the fair sex.
Evchen, you have met him at Justizrath Spillner's; he is said to have
distinguished you, too."

Eva bent down and gathered a large-belled campanula, which grew by the

"It is fortunate," said the Regierungsrath, "that he has not yet dared
to enter our house; in his poetry he has uttered such thoughts for the
world's reform, that I should fall into bad odour with the whole of my
colleagues, if he forced himself into my society."

"Perhaps he fears the same with his good friends," replied the
Regierungsräthin, shrugging her shoulders; "as these so-called Liberals
make their comments also, and we are certainly in their bad books."

"It is incredible, but you may be right. What have we not had to
experience since our King's accession to the throne! Parties are
formed, there is an Opposition, and we, who until now only had to
command in order to meet with obedience, are confronted by resistance!
Any young Doctor of Law thinks he can dictate to a President of Council
what he is to do or leave undone."

"Calm yourself, my dear husband! In return he is in this _prima
donna's_ fetters, and he must obey her signs, as you have seen, and be
a slave to her. A beautiful woman, certainly!"

"I did not look so closely at her."

"I know better, old man! I believe you could write her passport,
mentioning all her peculiar marks of distinction. It does not matter!
There is no danger in it, as she only seeks young admirers; I wager
that Doctor Schöner's baptismal certificate is dated a few years after

"I do not comprehend," said Kalzow, "how any man can place himself
under the command of a feminine being! What becomes of manly dignity in
such a case?"

At these words the Regierungsrath brought out a cigar-case so as to
light himself a Havannah cigar.

"What are you doing, old man? How often have I already told you that
you shall not smoke a cigar in the evening just before going to bed! It
does not agree with you, the Doctor advised you not to do it; I forbid
it positively in his name."

While speaking these words the Frau Regierungsräthin drew herself up to
her full height.

"Then, at least, I will have another glass of beer over there."

"Nothing! That too is injurious for you! In other matters you are quite
right! It is a disgrace to bow to the orders of such a theatrical
princess; but to obey a sensible woman has never brought evil or

Amid such conversations the family had reached the small fisherman's
cottage in which they lived; Eva soon went to her attic-chamber, locked
the door, opened the window and looked out into the moonlight night.
Silently she had listened to her parents' discussion; only a few days
ago she had taken young Doctor Schöner under her protection against all
accusations, to-day she could do so no longer! She had been credulous
enough to believe the Doctor's words of flattery; had he not
distinguished her amongst her girl friends! As yet no word of love had
been spoken, but a liking for the gifted young man had found utterance
in her heart.

People talk so much of first and only love--and yet, if one looks
closer into it, all kinds of budding affections, which never attain
their full development, precede this first love; near the first rose
there are plenty of buds which hang broken and faded on the stalk; many
side-chapels where love erects itself modest altars, are forsaken
before it strides to the high one in the great nave of the church. And
no girl leaves sixteen or seventeen years behind her, without having
obtained in a brother's friend, in a neighbour, in a _vis-à-vis_, a
small ideal for the preliminary studies of love. There is a heart's
idolatry even in earliest youth; yet the roots of such affections only
rest loosely in the lightest soil.

Eva's first attempt at love was devoted to the young Doctor; she had
erected a little temple for him in her heart, and adorned his picture
with many floral wreaths of tender feelings. It is true her friends had
often cautioned her in joke against the homage of the fickle poet; she
ascribed it to envy, which even amongst young female friends is not a
rarity. But now she had seen, with her own eyes, how he had bestowed
his admiration upon another proud beauty, yes wandered with her through
the country; she had heard how confidently that other had asserted her
rights over him; it had dealt a stab to her heart, and it was a
consolation for her, when her father and mother expressed themselves so
hostilely towards him: a defiant feeling became powerful within her,
she would hear nothing more from him, release herself entirely from
him, drive away his picture as one wipes a dream out of one's eyes.

Yet slightly below the surface as the roots of a love, in this case not
at all serious, had struck, it was a mixture of bitter and painful
emotions which besieged the girl's heart, as it dug up its first shy

Was that not the roar of the sea that sounded from afar? Was it not the
proud Melusina who sang as she bathed her beautiful form in the
billows. How small, how speechlessly she herself had stood beside that
other, yonder by the oak! What a homely little flower was she herself
beside that splendid exotic! With what spirit, with what fire that
other one could speak--and how shyly she herself brought out such
every-day words. Was it a marvel, that the poet turned away from her
and followed the admired singer? But even if she were not beautiful,
not proud, not intellectual, she yet had a sense of her own worth, and
would not allow herself to be insulted with impunity.

Come ye waves, and if ye have kissed the dark hair of the bathing
beauty, then rush upon the strand and efface for evermore the name of
the poet, which, with the point of a parasol, love has written upon the
sand; efface it there, and also--in my heart.

Scalding tears gushed from the maiden's eyes, she shut the window that
the surging of the distant sea might not reverberate in her dreams like
a triumphal song of victorious love! Weeping, she threw herself upon
her bed, but then slept soundly and well, as youth can sleep.

She owned a determined mind, she had indeed cast clods of earth upon
the coffin of a first, tender affection, which, as yet, had hardly
outgrown the incipient bud.

                              CHAPTER II.

                          THE BLUE CAMPANULA.

Woodland gloom--high beeches form a temple's hall--mighty oaks keep
watch before it; in their midst a green glade in which a hill rises
clad with weeping willows and large fronded ferns growing on every

Eva sits upon the hill, she has fled from the forester's little house,
whither the party of visitors from Warnicken had made an excursion,
which was presided over by the Regierungsrath, who knew all the paths
in these beautiful Samland woods. There was the Frau Gerichtsräthin
with her daughters, the Frau Banquier with her gallant son, whose Latin
mistakes made him uncertain of the upper form in the Kniephof College,
but who had a flower culled from a poetical casket ready for every
lady; there were yet other ladies and girls all in light straw hats,
beneath which the withered faces of town cousins looked very odd; yet
they, too, all continued their handicraft here, and the echoes of the
woods and the little room of the forest-house rang again with city
tales, and with the recapitulation of every folly that occurred in the
town of pure reason.

Eva fled from this sociable circle; alone she followed a footpath into
the wood, farther and farther until she reached that solitude, that
spot dedicated to melancholy, where the weeping willows rock
whisperingly in the wind.

There she gathered rosemary, and, like Ophelia, began to deck herself
with it; she thought of her buried love, and her whole former life
seemed so sad to her, so worthy of tears! Her mother's picture, who
weeping had once left her, rose before her, for the Frau Räthin was not
her mother, the Kalzows were her adopted parents, who never spoke of
her real mother, never! No token of the latter's existence ever reached
the daughter; she must tarry in some far-off place, must have to
suffer, to atone for something; never was her name mentioned in
society, and little Eva, herself, for eight years, had been Fräulein
Kalzow in the eyes of God and man, and this had all been carried out
correctly, and according to the universal law of the country as the
Regierungsrath always said, when he wished to denote that anything was
particularly excellent and admirable.

But Eva still saw her mother before her! it was indeed a touching
picture; the pale lady with those large, enthusiastic eyes, which the
daughter had inherited; for the small, sparkling coal black eyes of her
adopted mother had nothing in common with that heritage, and she saw
these orbs veiled in tears, as she had seen them at the last farewell,
and thus this picture accompanied her through life.

And again the weeping willows rustled! How gloomy was the boarding
school, were the classes! Eva was no light-hearted girl, and was
avoided by the other pupils; questions were upon her lips that did not
stand in the catechism, nor in her school books; these queries
displeased her teachers, all the more so, because often they could not
give an answer to the enquiries; the best meaning one amongst the
governesses jokingly called Eva the little philosopher; but in the
school she was universally called the girl with the inquiring eyes. Her
eyes did indeed speak many questions of her heart to which life alone
could impart a reply. Yet Eva was not happy! Her heart thirsted after
love; but she did not possess the art of winning it easily by ready

Once, it might be in her twelfth year, she had found a little friend,
an innocent girl with merry eyes, who attached herself to Eva like a
burr. The latter even became merry in her company, beginning to jest,
to play, to dance with the child. This continued throughout one whole
winter; when the little one returned after the Easter holidays, she was
distant and shy towards Eva, and withdrew entirely from her. For long
Eva bore this unmerited estrangement silently, at last she enquired its

"I am not to associate with you," replied the little one, with downcast
eyes, "on account of your mother--"

This word buried itself deeply in the girl's heart, and became united
to all her sad thoughts; and again in the head class of the school, an
enlightened teacher, who in deep draughts had inhaled the air of pure
reason which was wafted thither from the Königsberg philosophical dyke,
had made remarks about the sad consequences of false piety, which could
be seen in many near examples, and thereupon all her schoolfellows
looked with meaning glances at Eva, who became alarmed at the enigmatic
nature of this insinuation.

Thus she had a right to enquire with her eyes, and with her heart;
because a dark shadow fell upon her life.

And again the weeping willows rustled! should no friend then approach
her, no love adorn her life? The only one of whom she had dreamed that
he might stand nearer to her heart, had become estranged from her
again, and her life was lonelier than ever!

But why the wreath of rosemary? Does he deserve such mourning, who
flutters heedlessly from flower to flower? No, he does not deserve it.
And she flung the rosemary wreath aside; she left the shade of the
weeping willows and through the high, bushy ferns sprang down the hill.

"A blue campanula the proud singer called me; good, so may they ring
around me, those blue bells; I will be sad no more, I will deck myself
with the joyous, open hearted children of the wood."

And she hastened into the cooler valley where the woodland rivulet
rippled between alders, and plucked the tiny bells of the wood, the
flower of the manifold campanula, which like a blue ribbon intersected
the valley.

"I will be glad," murmured she to herself, as, sitting upon the
moss-clad roots in the shade of a wide-spreading oak, she twined the
large flowered bells into a wreath for her head, while she twisted the
smaller ones into a garland, and thus she adorned herself like a wood
nymph. The green blooming girdle set off her slender form to advantage.

And she began to sing a cheerful song, as though she would take her own
joyful mood by surprise.

Suddenly there arose a rustling in the bushes, and a man in shooting
dress stood before her. She sprang up in alarm, then stood still in
confusion, and cast her eyes to the ground.

"I regret that I should disturb you," said the stranger, "but I felt
constrained to satisfy myself as to whence came such lovely singing."

"The wood belongs to all the world," replied she, "and above all to

"Like yourself, my Fräulein, I am merely a visitor here, I certainly
have a right to disturb the stags and hinds, which at such a season of
the year have no claims to be spared, but on no account may I startle
other living creatures out of lovely hiding places."

Eva now raised her eyes, and regarded the stranger with a cursory
glance; his figure was tall and slight, his features seemed to be
bronzed by a southern sun, his eyes were half closed, listlessness lay
in their glance, but a gentle, refined smile played upon his lips.

"I did not expect to find so charming a flower-fairy in this extensive
forest, where the hart-royals dwell. You are as completely buried
beneath leaf and flowers, as a Chinese woman of the wood, because if
these little bells could ring, they would yield a far sweeter peal than
that which the women of the Celestial Empire tinkle before their
ancestors' images."

"Have you heard those bells ring?" asked Eva, with that boldness, which
is often merely an indication of great embarrassment.

"Certainly, my beautiful fairy! I have heard the bells of human folly
in every zone; they have much the same sound in all parts; one flies
from them, and finds them again everywhere; however, why should one
destroy this charming woodland quiet with such thoughts? But yet.
Robbers everywhere! Do not be alarmed my lovely child! I am not one of
them, I only mean the hawks which hover yonder about the summits! The
nightingales have already winged their southern flight, it is a pity!
Their songs would sound so exquisitely here in the valley as an
accompaniment to a living picture, to this _fleur animée_, the lovely

Again Eva ventured to raise her glance, and saw a wide-open blue eye
resting upon her. She had been mistaken before, when she deemed it to
be small and insignificant; she thereupon recollected that there are
eyes upon which the lids rest with heavy pressure, then suddenly seem
to shake off this weight and gleam with a full, bright light.

"I am ashamed of myself," said she, already more confidentially, "it
was childish folly to deck myself with these flowers. I was sitting
over there upon the hill beneath the weeping willows, you probably know
the little spot. Suddenly, my heart became filled with fear, I hastened
down into the valley, and fancied I should become more cheerful, if all
these flowers' eyes looked at me when placed quite close beside me."

"Still so young and yet sad?" asked the stranger, as he drew nearer
concernedly, removing his fowling piece from his shoulder, and leaning
upon it.

"Nor do I myself know why," replied Eva with embarrassment, "it seems
to be wafted over us! There is indeed so much sadness in the world."

"Yet if it does hover about in the air, it only settles and remains
there where personal experience makes one susceptible of it, and what
can a young girl have experienced?"

"Little and much!"

"You speak as if you were a sybil, promulgating mysterious prophecies!"

"Ah, no, my Herr! Little that can be told, what is but little for
others, but unutterably much for myself!"

"Then no bankrupt father, no dead mother, no brother fallen in a duel?"

"Nothing of that kind!"

"Perhaps even a school friend, who, married before--"

"Oh, how you scoff!"

"Or, perhaps a dear friend, who has transferred his heart to another's

Eva became red, and looked down upon the ground; the sportsman struck
his gun against the earth.

"Oh, that I could leave it alone! You are right; this scoffing tone is
horrid. Yet it is a means of defence against the world, and those who
have learned to know it, at home and abroad, use it, and it becomes a
habit to them; but here, where such sweetly-charming innocence
encounters me in the shadow of the tall forest trees, here I might
adopt another tone, as I feel my heart also is quite different. Truly,
I feel as if in a fairy tale! If there were still enchanted princesses,
I should believe I had found one here, and I am already looking round
for the monster that guards you, so that in knightly combat I may
release you from the dragon; I have an incomparable weapon; my bullet
will penetrate through any scaly armour."

"But we are talking too long, my Herr," said Eva, rising. "Excuse me,
but my friends are expecting me."

"Then, of course, I must retire," replied the sportsman, as he stepped
respectfully on one side.

Eva bowed pleasantly, and followed the path which led into the valley.

"May I ask, my Fräulein, where you wish to go?" said the stranger's
voice, behind her; "on this road you would go still farther into the
forest! That, indeed, confirms my idea that you dwell in some invisible
fairy-palace, as queen of this wood, or that you are, after all, only a
flower-spirit, that will float away to dance in the air with elves."

"I am, indeed, quite confused," said Eva, turning back. "Yonder lies
the hill, with the weeping willows, and yet I hardly even know by which
road I reached it! My friends will be seeking me; they will be uneasy
about me! The sun already begins to glow with evening's red, between
the tree-stems from the west, instead of beaming above their heads."

"If you really belong to mortal beings, my Fräulein, and even to the
most prosaic class of them, who are known under the name of seaside

"Now you are right, my Herr!"

"And if you will initiate me into the secret of the point whence you
commenced this solitary wandering in the wood, I will guide you to the
right road."

Eva told the name of the forest-house where her friends were resting.

"Then you must confide yourself to my unwelcome companionship."

"I am grateful to you, my Herr!"

"Oh, is it not a little adventure for you to wander through this
wilderness, accompanied by a gentleman, who happily no longer can be
accounted a young one. I certainly have experienced adventures enough
in teak and palm groves, with tigers and crocodiles, and have wandered
through forests with brown and black beauties, while apes and parrots
looked on enviously; but to tell the truth, this nice little adventure
in the Royal Prussian chase has a greater charm for me than the
encounters with beauties who shine in native brown like old mahogany."

They were now passing by the hill. The heather, which grew wild upon
it, was bathed in the evening's crimson, which also flooded the
quivering bowed branches of the weeping willows.

Eva did not take any notice of it; she was quite absorbed in her
conversation with the stranger.

"Oh, you cannot think, my Fräulein, how a man's mind develops, not only
with his wider aims, but also with his more extensive travels. So much
weighed upon me; my fatherland had grown too small for me; I was a
dreamer and an enthusiast; and as such, had laden myself with guilt."

"It pleases you, doubtlessly, to accuse yourself," said Eva. "Those are
generally the best people who perceive so many dark spots in their own

"Did your governess tell you that?" said the sportsman, smiling. "The
good lady may be mistaken."

"How disagreeable you are," said Eva, petulantly.

"Believe me, it was bad enough! Even now, when I feel myself freer, I
often see the old shadow cross my path. But in those days the world's
contempt pursued me in such a manner as to crush me to the ground. Only
when I convinced myself that the world, as it is called, is merely a
very small, fading portion of the great world through which I wandered,
that what is whispered and insinuated here on the East Sea, becomes of
no importance already on the Adriatic, and still less so far, far away
on the Pacific, since then I became storm-proof and invulnerable to the
little pin-pricks of public opinion, to the gossip of the provincial
neighbourhood. But what am I telling you! You do not yet know what all
this means, and that you do not know it, that I can see how strange the
dark legend of human guilt is to you, that it is which refreshes and
benefits me so intensely. You still possess a delicate little
conscience that at the outside ticks like a watch; my own alarms me
with the groaning beats of a large clock, such as that which hangs at
the Kremlin in Moscow."

"If you were in earnest about it," replied Eva, "you would not pass it
over in such a light tone."

"Life, thought, feeling, my Fräulein, with you are all cast in one
mould. Therefore, you do not comprehend how, in a man of the world, it
is all in confusion, how often in him his soul weeps, while his
thoughts spend themselves in frivolous raillery."

"That is a bad habit," said Eva. "Why do people turn everything
topsy-turvy? Nature must run its course; the tree with its straight
growth strives to attain the summit, the plant the blossom, and both
Heaven! What, then, would our good Lord say to His world if the trees
wished suddenly to stand upon their heads, stirred up the earth with
them, and with their roots sought to reach the sky?"

"There are plants, though, my Fräulein, which one can turn upside down,
and which then continue to grow briskly; perhaps I am some kind of
offshoot of that species. Yet, seriously speaking, my Fräulein, we
stand immeasurably higher than Nature, and, therefore, can fall
immeasurably lower."

Eva seemed to be lost in meditation, when she heard her companions'
voices, calling her name, sound through the aisles of beeches.

"We are at our goal," said the sportsman, "a few more steps and at a
turn of the road you will see the roof of the forester's lodge."

"I thank you, my Herr!"

"But you shall not escape me thus! You penetrated much too far into the
Royal Forest; I am a sort of assistant to the chief Forester, and must
enquire about your antecedents. If I have understood the echo of these
beech-aisles correctly, your name reminds one of Paradise, and it shall
also remind me of it."

"I am called Eva, my Herr."

"Yet we no longer live in those primitive days when a Christian name
sufficed to prove our identity before the Creator and created."

"My name is Eva Kalzow!"

"And your father?"


"How prosaic! One meets a fairy in the wood, and her father is a
Regierungsrath! And now, you live--"

"In Warnicken, my Herr!"

"Thank you; the enquiry is closed, so far as I am concerned. I am an
official personage, who has neither the duty nor the right to introduce
himself by name. Think that I am the wild huntsman who traverses the
woods at night with black hounds and halloes, but by day escorts lovely
women. I shall not, however, place the campanula in my herbarium, but
in a vase of fresh water, where bouquets of sweet recollections bloom.
Farewell, my Fräulein!"

The stranger took leave with a courteous inclination.

Eva's glances followed him into the thicket, while the Kanzleiräthin,
with her round, buxom daughter drew near from the other side.

"You were surely not alone, Eva?" said the latter. "I heard the bushes
rustle over there."

"And how we have sought you; it is late already," remarked the
Kanzleiräthin, as she put on her spectacles, in order to examine the
girl from head to foot and see whether some adventure did not peep out
of the folds of her dress.

"I had lost my way," said Eva, "and had fallen asleep beneath the
weeping willows! There I dreamed of a wild huntsman; he took me upon
his steed, and we sped through the air like a whirlwind."

"Eva, where are you?" resounded the Regierungsrath's voice. "The mists
are beginning to rise from the marshes; we shall take cold on our way

"I have seen the Erl-king, papa, with the golden hoop; yet I am still
alive, and you will take me home safe and sound, and not as a dying

And, beginning to warble Schubert's song of the Erl-King, Eva walked on
with firm steps and exalted demeanour, in front of the home-bound

                              CHAPTER III.

                       DUAL LOVE AND EVIL REPUTE.

A few days later, two strangers engaged in eager conversation sat
together in the garden-square, between the four Kur-houses of Bad
Neukuhren. In the one, notwithstanding that he wore fashionable summer
garments, we again recognise the sportsman of the forest, whose
sun-burnt features contrasted so strongly with the light straw hat and
light-coloured clothes; the other gazed morosely from beneath an untidy
felt hat, his sharp furrowed face, which was, however, cast in a noble
and somewhat elevated mould, suited the muscular figure.

He might have been taken for a sailor, owing to the power and
determination that lay in his whole appearance, had not a refined
spiritual expression in his eyes shown that he was wont to occupy
himself with intellectual subjects.

"I rejoice, dear Doctor, to have become better acquainted with you
here," said the sportsman, "the companions of my own position are
somewhat too coolly indifferent to everything that interests me. At the
Chief Forester's, things are conducted too patriarchally, and,
therefore, I fled to the sea to distract my mind. I will only return to
my castle when the rebuilding of the one wing is completed. I gave the
architect the exact plan; but always to be present oneself, and to
watch its being carried out, is not in accordance with my taste.
Everything unfinished is odious to me; those lime pits, those carts of
stone, those scaffoldings, make an uncomfortable impression upon me.
Therefore, I accepted the Chief Forester's invitation at first, he
being an old friend of my father."

"How long have you been back in Europe, Herr Von Blanden?" asked the

"I have been in Europe for two years; but during that time I have
exhausted the romance of the south; spent two summers on the Italian
lakes, whose charms are indescribable! I have seen the Highland lakes
in the giant mountains of Thibet and the sun of Palestine; yet the
peculiarity of a Lago Maggiore; that balminess that hovers over the
water, the islands, the shores, cannot be found elsewhere! My father's
death, two month's ago, recalled me to East Prussia; it marked a
turning point in my life."

"You became rich," said the Doctor.

"I have never needed to trouble myself about money, and I consider that
a great advantage. Those are unhappy mortals who, amongst all the other
ills of life, must also take that vile metal into consideration in
everything that they do or wish! Is there a more inconsolable slavery
than that of dependance upon money? Therein consists the happiness of
riches, that they do not know these limits."

"The German student does not know them either," interposed the Doctor,
"or, rather, will not know them. Youth is free! But the unpaid accounts
follow us for many long years, and a frowning father reminds us that
this youthful freedom belongs to the kingdom of dreams."

"Thus, it was not that," continued Blanden, "which made such a
metamorphosis in my life; yet I returned with the firm determination to
put an end, at last, to the epoch of adventures by land and sea; not to
seek an object in life in the refined, inordinate longing after
enjoyment of travelling; not in the varying circumstances which it
offers to the mind and heart, but rather in active, earnest work, and,
above all, by these means, to extinguish the unpleasant recollections
that cling to my past."

"Youthful recollections!" said the Doctor, as he removed his felt hat,
and took advantage of its pliability to press it into diverse forms,
"who has not similar ones to note down in his diaries? And, after all,
one may ask if these wanderings astray do not give more worth to life,
than our exertions drawn by rule and measure?"

"But, at some time, one must put an end to it, I feel that! Far abroad
as one may have wandered, a man must sometime prove to his nearest, his
relations, his country associates that he has changed, that he can do
something, can work, that he can do his duty to his neighbour, although
he may see farther than they all."

"It does not require much to do that," said the Doctor, as he pushed
his somewhat tangled hair from his forehead. "Our landed gentry's
horizon does not extend far beyond the price of corn in summer, beyond
_l'ombre_ and sleighing parties in the winter. Here they possess a
peculiar instrument called a _zoche_, with which they attack Mother
Earth's body! All the world uses the plough; here they have the
_zoche_, a two-legged agricultural implement of very ancient date! This
_zoche_ is a species of East Prussian symbol; we do not imitate it, but
that which we possess ourselves is still less worthy of imitation."

"I must defend my brother squires, best of Doctors," replied Von
Blanden, "there are many sterling, educated men amongst them, and
especially amongst those whom I must still reckon as my opponents, to
gain whose friendship is a wish very dear to my heart. Yes, dear
Doctor," continued von Blanden, "I am contented with the spirit which
now pervades this province, and the conditions are favourable to my
plan. Here we have a public life, which, until now, has been wanting;
the political spirit is awakened, and, if it was always painful for me,
in the midst of the life and bustle of London and Paris, where great
political questions stirred all minds, to think of the intensely quiet
home and its inhabitants, who, like political backwoodsmen, live in the
densest gloom of ignorance and indifference, now a joyous feeling fills
me at the thought that the first pulse's throbs of constitutional
existence are heard here, that all Germany gazes at the Baltic shores,
at our East Prussia."

The Doctor shook his head.

"It may be, may be! It is a little better than formerly; but all
politics are merely a struggle about forms! No one becomes happier by
them. A more deeply penetrating revolution is necessary. The old views
of the world must change their grooves."

"Those were the dreams of my youth! I longed for a new religion, which
should develop itself out of the old one; yet one learns gradually to
limit oneself to the Possible. You are still a young man; I am
thirty-six years old; a decade lies between us! At that age I was an
enthusiast like you! Now, I look upon the groundwork of political
liberty as the most worthy object to strive for, by means of which we
first become the equals of other nations. My wishes are to be elected
to the Provincial Diet. A general representation will not long have to
be waited for. I will pledge my mental power, the whole of my
experiences upon it."

"Always practical!" muttered the Doctor to himself, "and, at the same
time, it is nothing but misty theory! The Provincial Diet to be united
to the General Diet--possible! Perhaps some day, too, we may even have
a Parliament. Many grand discourses will be held there; but so long as
Government holds the reins in its hands, it will do as it chooses, let
others speak as they may."

"I do not look so gloomily upon matters," said Blanden. "The world's
spirit becomes elevated by a more liberal organisation. I long for
political labour, but shall not for it neglect the management of my
estate. I have learnt much abroad, and also look upon the world from
the position of a landowner. And then--if a man will do anything great
in a narrow circle, he must limit himself in every respect, form a
domestic hearth, and, in fact, I am resolved to marry!"

"The Philistines are upon you, Sampson!" cried the Doctor, as he
crushed his hat angrily on to his head.

"What is there so astounding in it?" asked Blanden.

Now the Doctor was riding his favourite hobby!

"Marry! The thought makes my blood boil!"

"Then you are easily excited. What all the world does--"

"Is exactly that which one must not do," interrupted the Doctor.

"There we have the _zoche_, instead of the plough!" said Blanden,

"No, respected friend! I am a practical doctor, although until now I
may only have cured few sick; but in the same illnesses I should not
prescribe the same remedies to all constitutions. Natures such as
ours are not fitted for matrimony. For it, steady, equable minds are
needed--we do not possess them. Any one who is accustomed to a variety
of sensations would be killed by everlasting sameness. Marriage cannot
be happy without blinkers; but is it happiness to wander through life
in them?"

"Alas, you are an incorrigible radical, who attacks everything!"

"A man must study himself!" said the Doctor, as he assumed a tone of
instruction. "He must study the original phenomenon, and that is his
own heart. After observing myself closely, I cannot but believe that
marriage in general is no beneficent arrangement; at least it is not
for such natures as mine. It is based upon the dogma of one faith which
alone can bring salvation; it requires of the husband, 'You shall have
none other gods but me!' But I could not confine myself to this love; I
consider this exclusiveness of affection to be one of the greatest
drawbacks with which mankind has been indoctrinated, not only by its
priests, but also by its great poets with their tragedies of love and
jealousy. Not alone for Turkish sensuality, but for the most
intellectual and imaginative view of life, such exclusiveness is an
obstructive barrier! And what narrow-mindedness lies in this wilful
possession, which feels hatred and enmity towards everything, and lays
claim to the same right! How indeed can any one talk of rights, when
free affection is in question? Why should not two women love the same
man, and be loved by him, without wishing to tear each other into
pieces? Is it not more natural and more human that similar emotions and
affections should dwell together in peace? I know that this is
boundless heresy, and yet it is my conviction. Richly endowed natures
which would live their lives cannot exhaust their hearts in one single

"Halt, halt," Blanden smilingly interrupted the eccentric Doctor, "You
cannot thus, with one breath, cast existing customs to the winds."

Doctor Kuhl did not feel himself beaten; he pushed his chair uneasily
back and forward, sprang up, and with arms folded, defiantly continued
to force his worldly wisdom upon his companion. Kuhl was known along
the shores of the Baltic Sea by his Herculean strength. He was a
preserver of life by profession; wherever misfortunes loomed, he was
present. He caught the reins of runaway horses; where any one was,
voluntarily or involuntarily, near death in the water, Doctor Kuhl
appeared as a guardian angel. He was an excellent swimmer, and when the
flag hung out in the sea-baths, forbidding people to bathe because a
storm stirred up the billows of the East Sea, Doctor Kuhl was sure to
hazard a conflict with the waves, as the only living creature who at
once defied the tempest and bathing-police. By means of all these
valiant deeds, he had become more popular than any other person, and
even in society his extreme views, of which he made no secret, were
pardoned. He was simply considered eccentric, and public opinion judged
him by an exceptional standard.

"Look here, dear fellow," he continued his lecture, "you know both the
Fräulein von Dornau, Olga and Cäcilie; may heaven's and their mother's
anger punish me! I love them both at once, and with the finest
apothecary's scales could not discover the least preponderance of
either in the balance."

"And what, then, do these ladies say to your simultaneous love?"

"I believe I have already somewhat converted them to my theory, even
although the old Adam or the old Eve in them still rebels against it.
On days so full of vigour as this, when the ocean glistens in the
sunshine, and a fresh breeze blows hither from the north, when the
feeling of strength fills my breast, then Olga is my calendar's saint.
She possesses something fresh, natural, voluptuous in all her being,
something Juno-like, and even the large eye is not wanting, which old
Homer eulogises with such a base comparison. I will not say for a
moment that a large mind speaks from that large eye, but Nature has
made everything abundant about her. She reminds me of hotels, in which
everything is arranged with the greatest comfort; nor must large plate
glass windows be wanting there, either."

"That is, indeed," interposed Blanden, "quite a new form of praise of
the fair sex, and our poets might go to school to you."

"She is purely sensual life," continued the Doctor, without letting
himself be disturbed by this interlocutory remark. "All nature,
instinct, little knowledge, no reason; she does not raise any special
opposition even to my most daring views. It is quite different with
Cäcilie: she is my calendar's saint for intellectual days; she is
slighter, more refined; she has something Lacertian about her, that
escapes one easily, that one would always grasp anew; everything about
her has form, body and mind. She argues with me, she refutes, her eyes
scintillate, and yet in the midst of the conflict she seems suddenly to
lay down her arms; if her delicate lips do weave the most ingenious
arguments wherewith to conquer me, the charm of submission lies already
in her eyes. She is a Penelope; her mind weaves a web, that her heart
ever again unravels. Olga acts by the charm of nature's body, Cäcilie
by the charm of the spirit. I bear both in my heart; I stand as closely
to the one as to the other. Shall I sacrifice one part of my being, in
order to do homage to exclusive love?"

"We have," said Blanden, "no social forms in which a dual love could be
lastingly secured; it is indeed a daring, yes, reprehensible

"Not at all," replied the Doctor. "It is the greatest secret of our
society but certainly is only seldom spoken of; yet sometimes when you
open books of the history of literature, in the lives of gifted men,
you will find pages on which it is legibly written! Think of Bürger, of
Doris and Molly; think of Schiller, of Charlotte and Caroline. How
candid are the confessions of our great poets! I do not flatter myself
I am the first who makes this great discovery, but I utter it
fearlessly; this is Nature's law, which society outlaws, while it
exercises its secret dominion undisturbedly."

"That may hold good during the stormy impetuous period of life," said
Blanden. "I have experienced it in every quarter of the globe. Now I
long for tranquillity, for restriction; I know that now in it alone can
I find happiness, and I have no longing to lead either an Olga or a
Cäcilie home, but a sweet, modest maiden who has not yet developed into
independent womanliness, who is still capable of being formed, and
growing up to twine herself around me."

"The old fable," replied Doctor Kuhl, scoffingly; "as if ever a girl
was formed or changed by a man! Girls are the pure elementary spirits,
but what they are, they are from the beginning. An elf will never
become a nymph, and if one lives in the water and has a fish's tail, no
power in the world will make her into a salamander with a sparkling
golden crown."

"All the same," said Blanden, "I shall take an elf, and be satisfied
with it."

"Then you have probably already found the one beauty which can make you
happy?" asked the Doctor, inquisitively.

"Indeed, I almost think it," replied Blanden. "Lately, in the forest, I
made the acquaintance of a beautiful wood-maiden, and I shall soon
renew it in Warnicken."

"Well, you have my blessing," said the Doctor, with annoyance, crushing
the felt hat, which in the meantime had again become a plaything in his
hands, violently on to his head.

At this moment, the pair of sisters walked past the friends; Olga and
Cäcilie came out of the sea, and, as is customary at bathing places,
let their long wet, nymph-like hair flow down to dry in the sun. They
both had splendid figures; the one fuller, the other slighter.

The Doctor greeted them with an eager bow, and soon found himself
sailing in the wake of the elder sister, while the younger one, with a
slight side movement sent a whole broadside of fiery glances upon him.

Blanden meditated over the peculiarity of those singular fellows who
seek to bring everything into a system, of which they at last become
the slaves. A hand was suddenly placed upon his shoulder, and his
neighbour, Freiherr von Wegen, looked at him good-temperedly, as he
turned round--

"There, I have found you at last; I sought you in vain at the Chief

"Well, and what news do you bring me?" Blanden asked the fair,
affectionate friend of his childish and youthful days, who, since his
return, had become his indispensable assistant.

Wegen took a chair, lighted his cigar, beckoned to the waiter, and then
began in an important manner--

"It is fatal, really fatal!"

"What then?" asked Blanden.

"That stupid story of former days!"


"You know that I travel about as your agent, from estate to estate, in
order to ensure your election to the Diet, and I am a commercial
traveller who is not afraid of being seen. I advance all your
qualifications--first-rate recommendations, clever, great traveller,
wealthy, undoubted possessions! So far I met with no dispute.
Liberal--then the symptoms of questioning begin. 'Liberal?' says
Oberamtmann von Schlöhitten, whom I sought in his sheep-fold, while he
examined his breed of sheep, one of the few which can exist in Silesia
and Australia--'well as yet he has given no proof of it.' 'Only first
elect him, and the proofs will follow,' replied I, prompt to serve.
'Now, from what I know about it--he belonged to the religious set--that
is a species which I cannot endure, wolves in sheep's clothing!' He had
by this time arrived at the principal ewe, whose fleece he allowed to
glide through his fingers with satisfaction. I utilised this moment of
tranquil delight, and said--'That was in his youth, he has changed.'
'Any one who changes his colours so quickly,' said the Oberamtmann,
disagreeably, as he released the mother sheep with a loud smack, 'is
not fitted for a representative! They stand bold to their colours!'"

"Well," said Blanden, "we will generously relinquish that vote."

"Yes, if it were the only one! I went to the wealthy Milbe of
Kuhlwangen, the same who once announced in the newspapers; always of
Kuhlwangen, but seldom in Kuhlwangen--that man is every inch a peasant,
but he is a splendid humorist; he was just looking at a horse, that had
arrived fresh from Trakehner; I went straight to my point. 'Blanden,'
asked he, 'is that the same Blanden who was mixed up in that ugly
Königsberg affair?' 'That was ten years ago,' replied I. 'That is
all the same, the mark has been burnt into him like this Trakehner
stud-brand.' He also invited me to a good breakfast, that I enjoyed
thoroughly, although it was not without reluctance that I broke bread
and drank wine at the table of a man who turned so deaf an ear to my

"Dear friend," said Blanden, "in politics one must accustom oneself to

"But not when it comes thick as hail," replied Wegen, as he struck the
table with his riding-whip, and with his left hand angrily curled his
fair moustache. "There was Hermann von Gutsköhnen, Sengern von
Laerchen, they only knew that you are a large and rich landed
proprietor, and will give you their votes; there they live upon their
sixty acres, and plough their manors themselves; they are homely people
who understand nothing of the world."

"Now I know, according to your views, where I must seek my supporters."

"Graf von Donahoff," Wegen continued his report, "received me very
pleasantly; he belongs to those nobles, about whose party-leaning I was
still uncertain; he is connected with the Liberals by marriage.
'Blanden,' cried he, 'surely a pious man, one of those who remained
true to his creed and defied calumny; we Conservatives should have a
good supporter in him!' I hardly dared to undeceive the man with
silvery locks. And yet it must be done! 'A Liberal, then?' exclaimed
he, 'that is inconsolable! If that species now grows wild here in our
province, well so be it; but when men who have drank at our refreshing
well of salvation, are so fickle as to go over to the camp of the
unrighteous, one could shed burning tears!' And he folded his hands,
yet what was worse, he poured me out no more of that exquisite Madeira
which stood upon the table; for he had discovered that I, too, wandered
upon the paths of the godless, and sat amongst the seats of the
scornful; I took leave very dejectedly, and disappeared as though the
earth had swallowed me up."

"Oh, I know--a sister of his formerly belonged to our sect; she, too,
in the meanwhile has become a Liberal, since she married, and has
seceded disgracefully."

"Yes, the women, dear Blanden," said Wegen, shrugging his shoulders,
"the women, you are really in their black books! Baron von Fuchs is a
very sensible man, he recognises your mental superiority, is ready to
give you his vote, and has only a smile for the reproaches which are
brought against you on all sides. He invited me to dinner. I took my
place triumphantly beside the lady of the house, who helped me
liberally. We had just arrived at the joint--no, it was at the
pudding--now I recollect it quite accurately, when the conversation
turned upon you. 'Only to name such a man,' cried the Baroness,
angrily, and threw her knife and fork upon the table. I received no
more of the delicious wine-sauce. 'Well, what more is there?' said the
Baron, as with great equanimity he poured himself out a glass of
Johannisberger, 'we are going to return him to the Assembly!' Then the
storm broke loose. 'That wicked man, that hypocrite--no Adalbert, if
you do that!--I do not trouble myself about your politics, I never have
troubled myself about them; but if you make your Assembly into a Sodom
and Gomorrah, all we must protest who have been brought up with proper
principles, and who know what morality demands! You at least shall not
give your vote to Blanden!' and she sprang up from the table, the tart
did not go round again, the most beautiful dessert remained untouched.
The Baron, as far as appearances went, did not allow himself to be
disturbed, but yet he was put out, and I am convinced that she will
conquer in this domestic war, because she is a woman of principle--and
the devil must manage all such as her."

"Our prospects seem bad," said Blanden, after a pause, while he sat
lost in meditation, "I shall feel it most painfully if my new wish to
take to active life should meet with insurmountable obstacles, just
because I feel the power within me to enter upon new paths, because I
have the earnest desire to break with my past, because I would as it
were grasp the firm shore, I should not like to be hurled back into the

"Dear friend," replied Baron von Wegen, "all is not lost as yet! The
Landrath is on your side, and he commands a considerable number of
electors, but you must take decided steps yourself."

"And which?" asked Blanden.

"You must return to your castle; the rebuilding of the one wing will be
ready in a few days; you must pay visits yourself amongst your
neighbours; you are a kindly fellow at heart--and that after all is the
principal thing; before it all the _on dit_ disappear, what people say
and what they think! Then invite them all to a sumptuous dinner, and
they will come, be convinced! You are still one of the most respected
landowners, whom they will not dare to scorn. But a good dinner opens
people's hearts, I know it! When once the _veuve Cliquot_ is uncorked,
and she exercises her magical influence, then people allow themselves
to be persuaded to anything, to which otherwise they do not show the
slightest inclination. Then you can hold a little electioneering
speech. You are a master of oratory, and you will see, even those
obstinate von Schlöhitten and Kuhlwangen will pledge themselves to
follow your standard. A good dinner is not only the most agreeable
thing that there is--but also under certain circumstances the most
necessary! I know it!"

"You may be right, dear Caspar--"

"For heaven's sake do not address me by my Christian name, I hate it! I
always think of the Free-shooter and the 'Wolf's schlucht,' when I hear
myself spoken to by it, or what is still much worse, of the 'Kasperle

"But before I go home, I must take three or four days more leave."

"What for?"

"I wish to go across to Warnicken; I have discovered a treasure there,
that I must inspect more closely; perhaps I shall adorn my castle with

"Good heavens--a love adventure!" said Wegen, humming--

                 '_Reich mir die hand mein Leben_!
                  _Komm 'auf mein Schloss mit mir_!'

"Always the same old Don Juan!"

"You are mistaken! The marble governor took him away long ago! It is a
more serious love affair, but which, I allow, requires careful

"Indeed," said Wegen, while his good-natured face assumed a peculiarly
kindly expression. "Marriage would not be the most stupid of all the
things that you have done hitherto. A married man--that sounds so
respectable, inspires such confidence! I have always thought that it
would be a most fortunate move on the board. The queen would then rule
over all the squares! Everything in the past is forgiven and forgotten!
If an amiable young woman is not alarmed at that past, then all will
probably follow her example, and even the Baroness von Fuchs will beat
the retreat. I do not care much for matrimony, I shall remain a
bachelor. A _fiancée_ may be an angel, but one never knows how she may
cook when she is one's wife. And a constantly bad _cuisine_--I should
prefer the infernal regions!"

"You encourage me, old friend; it pleases me! Then--leave for four
days! Perhaps they will be the most important in my life--and after
that, back to the Castle!"

"I will ride over to my place to-day, and will see that things are
right on yours."

"Thank you! And afterwards I will invite a newly-made friend to stay
with me--Doctor Kuhl--he is an original fellow; but I like people to
have and express new ideas."

"Then I am not sufficient for you, dear friend!" replied Wegen,
stroking his blonde moustache in a melancholy manner. "Certainly, I
possess few new ideas! Only at a good dinner they pour in upon me; then
I understand what the poets call inspiration--I am often astonished at

"You are good-natured," said Blanden, pressing his friend's hand, "and
that is worth more than all this world's wisdom. Then we will seek
Kuhl--he was abducted by two fair women."

"Stop, stop!" cried Wegen, with a pathetic gesture. "I am still
breathless with my business-journies and reports, and you would have
this state of exhaustion continue still longer? Storm and tempest--we
have fasted long enough; now for a substantial breakfast! A few glasses
of sherry, to defy wind and weather, and a beefsteak as underdone as
possible--in that I am an Englishman!"

He beckoned to a waiter, and tied a napkin, that was lying upon the
table, round his neck, brandishing his knife and fork impatiently in
the air.

                              CHAPTER IV.

                        BATHING-PLACE PICTURES.

The Samland coast is frequented but little by strangers; the list of
visitors seldom contains a Russ or Pole. However, a great number of
people flows from East Prussia, from distant Masure, and its lonely
lakes; from the primeval forests of Lithuania, to these homely seaside
places; but more especially, the ancient town Ottokars sends its
officials, its professors, its students, its young merchants, to the
sea, and the sacred ocean-tide often overhears very learned discourses,
which are held across the bathing-rope during the pauses which ensue
between each rushing wave.

Everything here possesses the charm of fresh primitiveness; the festive
bathing gown, the tasteful, fashionable toilet of Western seaside
places are unknown.

Youth, full of the love of enterprise, assembles in Neukuhren;
 small dance in the evening, an expedition in a _leiter-wagon_,
in which numerous families are crowded together, a concert, a
performance--everything that with small means gives great enjoyment to
eager spirits, is provided here by the leaders of social amusements.

Let us follow Doctor Kuhl, with his two friends, upon their way through
the watering place.

The respected elders sit before the Kurhouses, newspapers in their
hands, and hold council about the State's welfare. The debate is very
keen, as it is a time of political agitation. The little Jewish doctor
yonder, a follower of Johann Jacoby, defends the "four questions"
against a whole bench of judges and councillors, who are beside
themselves that the tiny little man's inexhaustible eloquence does not
permit them to put in a word. Their lips quiver, their eyes flash; they
have armed replies upon their lips, but all attempts are vain, and at
last only the energetic bass voice of a minister of finance succeeds,
if not in allaying, at least, in deafening him.

A ladies' club is sitting on the terrace of the Kur-house, in
questionable morning-costumes. Even the ladies of a certain age, who in
the evening still expect to obtain partners for the dance, and even
admirers, have as yet neglected to summon the Graces to their
toilet-tables; a portion of them sits there in grandmother-like caps;
the charming love-locks that in the evening droop so fascinatingly over
their temples, still linger in some place of concealment, and no one
can foresee that these garments of sackcloth can develop later into
elegant draperies. Everything is so homely, so simple, so nun-like; all
the more lively is the conversation. A betrothal, which had taken place
on the previous evening, gave cause for plentiful shrugging of
shoulders, because the gentleman as yet held no respectable position in
life, and the _fiancée_, as several female friends asserted, a very
uncertain one.

Hardly was this conversation worn out before Doctor Kuhl, passing by
with the two Fräuleins Dornau, offered an inexhaustible topic.

Here all considerations were at an end, and the battle-axes were
wielded pitilessly. A widow, of dubious age, but of indubitable
inclination to marry again, was reckless enough to take the unlucky
victims under her protection, as she hazarded the remark, that one
sister was at the same time a chaperon for the other. Both the
Fräuleins Dornau slight capacity for playing a chaperon's part was then
discussed on all sides with exultant eloquence.

Fortunately, the passers-by did not overhear the verdict of this court
of censure, which sought to ostracise them from all good society: they
walked along the village street. Tents were set up before the
fishermen's cottages, beneath which the bathing nomads had taken up
their abode. Here a young girl was reading George Sand's newest
romance, or Doctor Schöner's poems, little attractive to a female mind
as was the young lyrist's daring suggestion of turning the bells into
cannon, naturally for the army of liberty which should blow the world
out of its grooves. There a young man without any upper light, was
attempting to execute a painting of the Samland Sea; the old gentleman,
who, in his shirt-sleeves, gazes out of a narrow window in one of the
fishermen's cottages, is a Privy Councillor, who had almost attained to
being "his excellency:" and yonder, on the bench, in the arbour, if a
little erection of boards merits that poetical name, sat one of the
most admired beauties from the capital, her embroidery lying idle on
her lap, while she herself gazed with dreamy eyes after the goose-herd
who drove the unrenowned sisters of the Capitoline celebrities through
the village street.

Doctor Kuhl, with his fair friends, had left the village behind him,
and found a retired spot beneath whispering birches close by the
surging sea, below in the "hollow way."

No inconvenient watchers disturbed them here at this hour of the day;
it was as still in the hot sun as it usually only is on a cool,
moonlight night.

"Here by the sacred, briny waves of Homer," cried the Doctor,
"by the syrens and nereïdes and all the goddesses of the classical
Walpurgis-night, I feel within me some of the blood of the dwellers in
Olympus, who allowed themselves to be enchanted by beauty and love
whenever the latter met them triumphantly. Poor Paris, who had only an
apple for one goddess, instead of for all three at once! Yet all were
worthy of the prize, and it was lamentable to grant to two only the
second best. We three, dear Olga, my Cäcilie, we three form a beautiful
union which the world does not understand how to respect!"

"You must allow yourself to understand, that you only actually love
Olga!" remarked Cäcilie.

Doctor Kuhl sprang up indignantly.

"Any one hearing you speak in that manner would believe you to be
jealous. Jealousy--that fruit of an odious narrow-mindedness, this
inculcated social vice, which must always be alien to every natural
emotion! Nothing irritates me so much as when I perceive tokens of
jealousy in reasonable beings. Jealousy is a natural daughter of envy;
but, alas! it has been legitimatised by society."

"On the contrary, dear Paul," replied Cäcilie, "it arises from an
inherent feeling which belongs, more or less, to all mankind."

"And if it were so," replied the Doctor in an energetic tone, "one must
curb and subdue these inherent feelings by true cultivation. The
latter, however, tells us that the human heart is much too rich to
exhaust its wealth in one sensation, that, indeed, a man can lay out
his feelings, like his capital, in various investments, and that the
coupons of the one do not in the remotest degree lose in value because
he cuts coupons off the others. You understand me, Olga?"

Olga, who swore blindly by the master's words, nodded her perfect
acquiescence, and was rewarded by a kiss for her powers of
comprehension; she willingly assented that Doctor Kuhl should cut off
this coupon from the invested capital of his feelings.

The sun, rising still higher, however, obliged the three lovers to
retire, besides which, Doctor Kuhl had promised a college friend to
meet him at the Kur-houses, and therefore he first accompanied the two
Fräuleins Dornau to their dwelling, which was situated in a by-street
of the village, and was a fisherman's cottage in the word's most daring
sense. Mother Dornau, a poor officer's widow, could with difficulty
only afford the expenses of a trip to the sea; modest as they might be,
she was obliged to stint herself in every respect. Her two daughters'
splendid figures could hardly stand uprightly in the two tiny rooms
which she had rented there, and were always obliged first to remove out
of the way several fishing nets lying upon the threshold when they
wished to enter. Frau Rittimeisterin von Dornau, however, hoped to
obtain husbands for her daughters by this sea-side visit, as the
climate of Neukuhren was particularly favourable to engagements.
Therefore she did not hesitate even to break into her small capital for
this purpose, so as to cover the outlay of the undertaking. As in
addition her hearing was bad and her sight still worse, she could only
learn its results from her daughters' reports, and Doctor Kuhl appeared
to her to be a very eligible wooer, who at first only seemed to bear a
resemblance, which it was to be hoped would soon disappear, to
Eulenspiegl's jackass, as it is represented standing between two
bundles of hay.

The Doctor, jubilantly humming a song, now went to the Kur-house
square, where he had appointed to meet his friend; much to his
astonishment, he perceived the latter sitting at a long table, around
which were assembled seven young girls and one elderly gentleman in
spectacles who appeared to be engaged in some learned discourse, as was
clearly evident from the long pauses in his harangue, during which he
wiped the glasses of his spectacles, as at the same time he addressed
each girl in turn by her Christian name, Doctor Kuhl arrived at the
well-founded conclusion that the learned gentleman was the father of
these seven daughters, and with the greater reason, because the
former's eye rested with satisfaction upon each, much as does the eye
of an author upon every single tome of a seven-volumed work. Doctor
Kuhl made a sign to his friend; yet the latter did not appear to
acknowledge the signal for departure; he only nodded pleasantly, and
intimated by plain pantomimic language that for the moment it was
impossible for him to follow his friend's hint. Kuhl tried to console
himself with a "stiff glass of grog," for he had contracted several
sailor-like habits. The elderly gentleman's discourse, in the meantime
seemed never to intend to come to an end; several of his daughters
could not suppress a sly yawn, and Doctor Reising--that was the young
friend's name--pushed his chair impatiently to and fro. At last a
conclusion "fast in its prison walls of earth," seemed to comprise the
contents of the whole discourse; Doctor Reising rose somewhat
impetuously and begged to be excused for a short time; soon the two
young friends were seated together, undisturbedly, while the female
Round Table cast surreptitious glances across, and examined the new
comer's powerfully built figure.

"Who are those seven girls without uniform?" asked Doctor Kuhl, as
Reising took a seat beside him.

"My dear fellow," replied the latter, "I am in a peculiar and very
difficult position."

"You surely have not to solve a prize problem with the comedy's motto,
'The ugliest of seven?'"

"Do not speak so loudly," said young Doctor Reising, as he looked
timidly round at the fair ones. The shyness and timidity of his manner
became more apparent as he did so; he was a beardless, fair man, and
his blonde hair stood up rather like bristles; his pointed nose seemed
somewhat too sharp, and his lean figure was in a state of constant
nervous, trembling motion.

"Well, make your confession to me," said Kuhl after a steady pull at
the sailor's drink.

"Look here, dear friend," replied Reising, whispering, "you know that I
have taken a degree of a Doctor of Philosophy, and contemplate settling
down at the university of B----, there a philosopher has the best
chance. That gentleman is the most influential Professor of Philosophy
in B----, at the same time the only one who reads Logic and Psychology;
everything for me, depends upon his favour!"

"I understand," replied Kuhl, "and there are seven charming obstacles."

"You are far from understanding all," said Reising more and more
mysteriously; "that Professor is a disciple of Herbart, and I am a
follower of Hegel, heart and soul."

"Then I should prefer to go to another University."

"My good friend, my rich uncle, whose heir I expect to be, lives in
B----, and he wishes me positively to be near him; I cannot trifle with
these prospects. The Hegelite philosophy is not, as it used to be under
Altenstein, State's-philosophy which was encouraged, ensuring
appointments and posts. A contrary wind blows under Eichhorn's
ministry, and I myself incline very much to the wrong side, so I may
make use of a rich uncle from whom I have expectations. My thoughts
lead me to even bolder results. I require the goodwill of the
authorities; but Herbart, I must tell you, my dear friend, it is
especially Herbart, who is so unpalatable to me, and much as I would
control myself, I cannot do it; I am constantly being drawn into a
dispute with Professor Baute; the numberless schools are
incomprehensible to me."

"But he seeks to make them more comprehensible by means of his seven

"That is just the misfortune! I am convinced that I could easily get
over the chasm that separates the Hegelite and Herbartian philosophy,
if I could resolve to propose to one of his seven daughters; my
University career would then be ensured, as certainly as I should
receive his daughter's hand; as being my uncle's heir, I am accounted a
good match; but my dear friend, I feel nothing as yet!"

"A Hegelite, who would have any feeling!" said Doctor Kuhl, "your
master extols marriages of reason! Show in this case, that you are his
worthy disciple _hic Rhodus, hic salta!_ It is not a question of being
in love, and a more rational marriage you can certainly not make."

"And then," whispered Doctor Reising, "if I had mustered the
resolution, the choice is so difficult."

"But my dear friend," said Kuhl, "that is quite immaterial. Old Hegel
would turn in his grave for joy if you took the first that comes,
because it is just as rational to take the one as the other. Count them
off on your coat buttons."

"You, like so many others, have misunderstood Hegel," replied Reising,
as he assumed an ominous lecturing posture, and placed his finger
against his nose.

"Come, now, no college lecture! If you positively must choose, I will
help you. Just go through the days of the week and muster these seven

"You are right," whispered Reising, as he passed his hand through his
hair, and pushed it up, although it stood rebelliously high enough
already, without his doing so. "Do you see the eldest there with the
two plaits, that is Euphrasia! She is not good looking, but coquettish!
You must allow that those two plaits are only suitable for girls before
they are confirmed; the mother was, I believe, a Russian, and now the
daughter always coquettes with these two ribbon-interwoven plaits. It
looks Panslavistic; I should not wish for Euphrasia at any price."

"Two plaits. You are right," replied Kuhl, laughing, "one is enough for
a German professor."

"Ophelia sits beside her!" continued Reising, "she always has something
languishing in her glances, in her nature; she is a regular weeping
willow! That is not my style! Everything emotional is abhorrent to me!"

"But if you do not take Ophelia," suggested Kuhl, "you will still not
get rid of Father Polonius! We will leave Ophelia alone, let her wear
the most beautiful wreath in her hair, naturally a willow branch."

"Then follows Emma, that is the little one with the pug-nose. She is
not bad, but she has a soul for nothing but cooking, washing,
scrubbing, and falls asleep when one addresses a sensible word to her."

"That would not do for a philosopher, who requires an intelligent

"Albertina, that is the biggest one, she has a slight figure, rather
too tall, but she is always silent; I have not yet heard her utter
three sentences; I might believe that she meditates inwardly upon
weighty questions, that she possesses an internal life; but those
repulsive, watery blue eyes are so utterly apathetic, I am convinced
that she thinks of nothing, and is only silent, because speaking is a
labour to her."

"_Si tacuisses!_ Yet for a philosopher Albertina is not to be despised;
let us make a cross to her name!"

"Beside her sits Lori; she has a pair of sparkling eyes; she is the
_enfant terrible_; but such an impudent imp I could not hereafter, as a
professor, take into any good society. She scoffs at everything, and is
not even witty. Then follow the two youngest, Gretchen and Marie;
Gretchen is still like a blank sheet of paper, and Marie even wears
short petticoats, and frilled garments."

"Certainly," replied Kuhl. "You cannot wait until the understanding of
the one, and the skirts of the other, have grown. Indeed, it is not
easy to make a choice here; but who vouches for it that your readings
of character are correct! If I should advise you, I must convince

"Very well; then I will introduce you to the Professor, and at the same
time to his family."

"In any case my conceptions of these seven girls will then cross the
threshold of knowledge with greater facility," replied Kuhl, with an
allusion to Herbart's Philosophy, which drew a significant smile from
his friend; "but tell me, how does this follower of Herbart come to a
Samland bathing place?"

"For one thing, it is a species of pilgrimage to the city of Pure
Reason, where Herbart stood so long upon Kant's rostrum, with his blue
frock coat, and elegant riding-boots; secondly, he followed a friend's
invitation. You, of course, know that worthy Herbartian who always goes
to his lectures with a red umbrella, such as the late Lampe, Kant's
servant, carried, and looks upon this red umbrella which he places upon
a bench, and which gradually transforms itself by some optical delusion
into a living being, as the third person, in order to form a college.
At present he is bathing; the only student, who is accustomed to listen
to him, is also bathing, only the red umbrella is missing; otherwise
the college would be complete in the waves of the East Sea."

"You triumph, you Hegelites," replied Kuhl, solemnly; "but the day will
come, when even Hegel will be expounded to empty benches:

                          'When this Imperial Troy
            And Priam's race and Priam's royal self
            Shall in one common ruin be o'erthrown.'"

Kuhl was soon introduced to Professor Baute and the seven girls. The
upholder of polygamy was naturally not in the least degree confused by
this female Pleiades. He took advantage of the knowledge which he had
already gained as to how the land lay, for very adroit man[oe]uvres by
which to win the seven ladies' good-will.

He spoke of the Caucasian beauties' plaits interwoven with pearls with
Euphrasia, with Ophelia of the gentle rustle of the weeping birches in
the hollow way in the evening's crimson light, with Emma of the
worthlessness of the Neukuhren laundresses, especially with respect to
shirt fronts; in a short time he was even so successful as to cause
Albertina to interrupt her inflexible silence by some silliness, which
fully explained her taciturnity; Lori, with great tact, made an
allusion to both the Fräuleins Dornau, acknowledged by Doctor Kuhl with
a slight bow; Gretchen to say she would learn French, and Marie catch
butterflies with him; in short, when the Doctor took leave, all seven
voices were unanimous in declaring that he was a most charming man, and
Doctor Reising was sadly placed in the shade by him.

The latter perceived this himself, but when he was becoming irritable
about it, Kuhl consoled him with saying he should work for his friend
in future, so soon as he had discovered the right girl, and established
himself firmly in her favour.

Kuhl had hardly risen from table when Blanden, with his friend von
Wegen, in a beaming, rosy, wine-flushed mood, went towards him and
invited him to come to his Ordensburg in three days' time. Kuhl
accepted, and Blanden promised then to recount his adventures in
Warnicken, for which place he should set out that night on foot.

Thereupon the Herculean Doctor refreshed himself with a second glass of
grog, sprang boldly over several tables that stood in his way, and had
soon plunged into the salt waves, which he clove with a powerful arm,
while Reising dejectedly bore the costs of the entertainment with the
seven possible brides, and, left alone in his glory, played a by no
means triumphant part.

                               CHAPTER V.

                          THE AMBER MERCHANT.

Blanden had taken up his pilgrim's staff, when the sun was already
bending to its decline, and the heat of the day was over; but his own
feelings were quite fresh as dawn. Those dreams of first love, which
breathed such a wondrous softness over life, had been revived in him
once more; he buried himself completely in those reveries.

His thoughts went back to the time when, as a scholar in the upper
school, he had been in love with the daughter of a Burgomaster in some
country town. He reverted to the emotions which he then felt, as the
rattling post-chaise approached the little town at an early morning
hour, first rolling over the pavement between the barns of the suburb,
then through the empty, sleeping streets, by the lifeless houses, part
closed shutters, until he reached the market-place, where stood the
house belonging to the town's functionary, which, with its faded pink
colouring, blushed more joyously in the morning sunlight.

There, too, an invisible hand pushed the curtain aside, and a little
visible, curly head, around one unfinished side of which curl-papers
still rustled, looked out, smiling so pleasantly, and nodded its
greeting--and the postillion blew a stirring tune, as he stopped before
the Black Eagle of the Post-house.

How happy, how blissful was the schoolboy's heart! That moment in which
the angel's head nodded to him out of its concealment, caused him
greater ecstacies than any happiness of a later extravagant love, and
never had the heart's throbs of expectant longing been more vivid than
in the post-chaise at that time!

Now it seemed to him as if he were capable of similar emotions, as if,
after internal regeneration, the youth's singleness of heart were
returning again for a short period.

The longing for his campanula lent wings to his steps, he saw her
picture vividly before him; the flying shadows of the clouds did not
bear it away with them; the Samland "Palven"[1] which extended on the
left side of the road, that dead heath with its solitary bushes, that
chilling sterility and barrenness of nature did not subdue his spirits,
and the resounding thunder of the surf, sometimes near, sometimes more
distant, stirred the wanderer's heart and steps to move at a merry

Evening's crimson light sparkled in the valley's ravines and brooks,
which flow on towards the sea; upon the tops of the oaks and beeches,
above the steep, jagged cliffs; in the luxuriant vallies; upon the bare
heights and above the glimpses of the swelling ocean which the eye
discovers either between groups of trees towering up on nigh, or away
over the sand-hills.

This melancholy light, which encourages the mind's return to the past,
to half-forgotten scenes, did not harmonise with the wanderer's mood; a
fresh, sparkling, dewy morning, with a cool breeze from the coast of
the enterprise-loving Scandinavians, or the islands of the old Vikings,
would have satisfied it better.

Blanden wished to break with his past, even drive away all the thoughts
that reminded him of it; his Eva, whom he had found by the woodland
stream, should be to him as the first woman of creation, whom he meets,
to whom yields his undesecrated feelings.

This love should be to him as a draught from a fresh spring,
refreshing, cooling, and at the same time metamorphosing him as if by
mysterious magic.

Was it, then, love? It was in the first instance only a brief meeting;
but it dropped the seed of love into his heart, and it was his will to
nourish and cultivate that seed.

As he walked along, lost in such thoughts, the rays of the evening sun
disappeared suddenly beneath heavy clouds, through which at first it
peeped like a flaming triumphal arch, until the increasing shades of
night enveloped the extinguished glow.

At the same time a storm arose, which burst in the wooded defiles with
furious rapidity, so that the cracking of broken boughs under foot
denoted his path, while the thunder of the sea became louder and more
portentous, and the thousand crests of waves rose higher towards the
heavy, lowering clouds.

Soon the thunder of the sky amalgamated with the thunder of the
billows; lightning glided down the sharp, rugged hills along the coast,
so that their singular profiles gleamed like demons' faces. The lonely
"Palven" bushes shivered in the tempest, and the whole heath seemed to
be in ghost-like motion.

Blanden felt himself refreshed by this magnificent spectacle of Nature;
he thought of the proud grandeur and immutability of the universe.

Just so did the storm sweep over the verdure of the heath, waving to
and fro, just so did the sea cast its foaming surf against the cliffs
when the ancient Prussians still lived here, who in the grove of
Romove, sacrificed to their god Perkunos; when the knights of orders,
their cloaks above their armour, and the black cross upon their white
mantles, rode upon their steeds along the coast, when the Holy Virgin
and the old heathen deity stood opposed in irreconcilable conflict.

Then the din of battle raged above the Baltic shore, as to-day the din
of the unfettered elements; yet, how everything had been changed!

What would the heathens say to the towns abounding with churches, which
had driven out their sacred groves; what the knights of the orders to
the disciplined regiments whose close columns belch forth fire, while
flying batteries hasten to the heights to hurl death forth to a
distance formerly undreamed of? Yet one visible, red thread never
lost, extends through all changes of time. That which energetic and
highly-gifted Masters of Orders had attempted for the cultivation of
the land, when they made the wide plains arable, protected the marshes
against the onslaught of the tide by means of dykes, appointed a secure
bed for the streams, was a heritage to which the Hohenzollern princes
succeeded, and made fruitful unto the present day.

The sudden breaking of the tempest even drew Blanden's mind momentarily
from the immediate emotions which had possession of it, but as the
clouds, too, opened their sluices, and thunder followed closely upon
the lightning's footsteps as it leaped dazzlingly across the path, then
the open air became intolerable, and the wanderer turned into the first

It was a fisherman's ale-house, whose exterior promised but little
hospitable reception. Yet several carts stood in a half-open shed, and
numerous baskets were piled up, denoting that there was no lack here of
commercial traffic.

Despite the weather, the little windows in the large parlour stood
open, and, in the pauses which the thunder made, a confused noise was
emitted of men's quarrelling voices, between them the high pitched
tones of a woman, who evidently sought to establish quiet in this

A rain-drenched trap stood unwatched before the door; the horse, with
limply drooping mane, shied at the lightning without causing the heavy
waggon to move from its position.

Two parties stood opposite one another in the small tavern parlour;
gleaming pieces of amber, of the most beautiful pale-yellow shade, lay
upon the table; on the right-hand, in the background of the room,
several washtubs could be seen, in which the fishermen, with their
brawny, naked arms, sought to cleanse the produce of the pits on the
shore from the soil that clung to it.

But one of the men had just now left this occupation. With menacing
gesture, with clenched fist, he stood erect, his face glowing with
anger, and appeared to be repudiating some accusation that was hurled
against him by a man with a remarkable countenance, who leaned upon the
table containing the pieces of amber. The two other fishermen certainly
continued to wash the primeval resin in their tubs, at the same time,
however, taking part in the dispute with violent words.

The stranger who, with folded arms, opposed an iron determination to
this fury of the Baltic Masanielli, was very uncommon looking. His
dress was slightly Russian. His two companions who stood beside him,
were clad entirely in national costume; but his features betokened a
southern origin.

He had the fiery eye of an Italian; his whole figure might have led one
to take him for one of those _principe_, who, at the feast of _Corpus
Christi_, ride on splendid horses behind the Pope, as his _guardia
nobile_. Only a wilder expression lay in his features, dark overhanging
eye-brows, sharp lines about mouth and nose, told of abundant evil
passionate experiences.

"I counted the pieces accurately in the pit," he cried to the shouting
fishermen, "I looked closely at them. One was large enough to make a
pretty toilet casket, and that piece is missing; it has been suppressed
in washing!"

The fishermen's muscular hands were raised again in denial of this
accusation. The fisherman's wife, in red headkerchief and green woollen
dress, interposed, saying that there should be no disturbance in her
parlour; the piece had, perhaps, fallen from the waggon, and would be
found after all.

"It is a disgrace to accuse honest people falsely!" cried the
ring-leader of the amber-washers, whilst a gleam of yellow lightning
flashed, and a quickly-following clap of thunder awoke the echo of the

Blanden had listened to the dispute at the open door. Then he entered,
and his sudden appearance caused the noise to cease.

"Landlady!" cried he, "a drink to refresh me! And you people, can you
not agree quietly? Do not the heavens make commotion enough? Spirits
and beer for these good people; for to-day they have carted sand, and
washed amber enough--they need refreshment! Hang my coat before the
kitchen stove, best of women! The old Samland gods have washed my

"Who are you, my Herr?" cried the amber merchant, "that you issue
orders here, and withhold my washermen from their work?"

"Grant them a short rest," said Blanden, as he seated himself in his
shirt sleeves at the table upon which gleamed the pale yellow gifts of
the East Sea. "Perhaps we, too, may do some business, my good sir; I am
just in the humour to-day to buy the Great Mogul's diamonds."

The Italian became more friendly; still, however, he regarded the
interloper with a distrustful glance. His two companions, with their
slit Calmuck eyes, permitted themselves to grin pleasantly. They looked
meaningly at the fishermen, who were already refreshing themselves with
the liquor which the hostess had given them.

Blanden understood how to acknowledge their friendliness, and
recommended them also to the landlady's care.

Now a deep silence reigned. Blanden examined the pieces of amber; the
dealer looked at him with a keen glance, and once started back as if
startled, when Blanden's features were illumined by a sharp flash of
lightning. It seemed as if some sudden recollection had dawned within
him. The keen glances with which from henceforth he regarded the other,
however, bore no tokens of amity about them.

"You come from Russia?" the nobleman began his enquiries, while he
weighed a large piece of amber in his hands.

"From Wilna, my Herr."

"But you are no Russian?"

"I am an Italian."

"I took you for one. I love the Italians! They are a gifted people!
What a pity that many years of oppression keeps their noble fire in
subjection, so that it only finds vent for itself in petty, malicious
outbreaks, like the flames of their Solfatara! An Italian--and how do
you come to Russia?"

"Business connections. A merchant remains there where he has most
prospect of gain."

"Then the amber trade between these coasts and Russia is probably

"It depends," said the stranger, with a cunning smile, "whether a man
succeeds in bringing his wares cheaply across the frontier. Besides,
the peasants, who have farmed their royalty from Government, are not
exactly reasonable with their amber, let them dig it out of the earth
with spades, or rescue it from the sea-weed, or obtain it with dragnets
from the sea."

"What reflections might it not awake," said Blanden to himself, and
hardly noticing the others. "The forests of other days have sunk
beneath the earth, and still offer their treasures to the living
race--but what becomes of our sunken hopes? They have nothing, nothing
more to give us! Ah! if any one could dream so deeply, so utterly
deeply, he might hear the rustling of the trees in the submarine
forests, and see sitting there the amber nymph in magnificent jewels of
the deep, in those pale-yellow halls, and singing a song of the old
splendours of the never-penetrated forests, into which the complaints
of men have never yet taken refuge."

And, as he looked more closely at the vision of the amber-nymph, it
bore Eva's features, and he resolved to deck her worthily of his

"But what shall I do with this rough, raw material?" said he,
petulantly, to the dealer, "I cannot buy any of this from you; at the
most, only the little piece which contains the imprisoned fly. Oh,
happy he, who might sit so firmly in a woman's heart!"

They agreed about the not insignificant price of this rarity; the
dealer then began--

"I see clearly that only the artistically formed produce of the ocean
has any value for you. Yet I know first-rate masters in Wilna to whom I
sell my wares, and who know how to lend every delicate form to them.
Give me commissions! When I return I will certainly bring you
everything that you can wish to your complete satisfaction."

"And when do you return?"

"In a few weeks."

Blanden considered for a moment, then he said--

"Well, then, you shall procure me an outfit for an amber princess;
everything of pale-yellow, most precious material. Take out your
pocket-book, and make notes. First, a tasteful toilet casket, fragrant
as the Oriental beauties love it; then a splendid string of beads--the
beads of our Northern Ocean shall shame the corals of the Southern Sea;
a bracelet; a brooch with two winged doves, or a little Cupid with a
dart. Can the master's art produce any other such perfections that are
fitted for beauty's adornment, even if it does not hover before my own
imagination, here am I, a ready purchaser."

"I should, of course, always find a sale for such goods," said the
dealer, "yet may I ask your name?"

Blanden told his name and that of his castle. The Italian wrote both
down; a triumphant expression lay in the slight smile around the
corners of his mouth, in his piercing glances; he himself gave his
card, upon which stood the name, Carlo Baluzzi, of Wilna.

Blanden's thoughts meanwhile lingered with his campanula: "A
flower-fairy she appeared to me," thought he to himself; "the original
child of Nature! For me she shall become an amber-nymph! All my past
life shall remain deeply buried beneath the high, rising tide; but its
tears shall be made into beads which shall adorn her."

In the meantime the storm without had passed away, but the darkness of
the tempest's clouds had been succeeded by the darkness of the evening.

The fishermen returned to their work; the landlady lighted a few
dripping tallow candles; Baluzzi's eye rested upon the tubs, that not a
piece which he had bought so dearly might be lost to him.

Blanden took leave; notwithstanding the well-meaning coal-stove, his
coat was wet through and through, but no choice remained to him.

"Farewell, Herr von Blanden," said the Italian, with sharp emphasis. "I
am pleased to have renewed my acquaintance with you."

"Renewed?" asked Blanden, astonished.

"Yes, my Herr."

"And where have you seen me?"

"On Lago Maggiore, two years ago."

"I do not recollect--"

"Nor is it possible! The pleasure was entirely on my side! You lived
then in such sunshine of bliss that you did not notice the two shadows
in the background, which hastened quickly past you."

Blanden, while he walked shiveringly along through the chilly evening
air, meditated vainly what connection there could have been between
Baluzzi and himself during his stay by Lago Maggiore.

What did those peculiar looks signify, which he suddenly assumed? What
should the remarkable emphasis mean which he gave to his words--yes,
the enmity which gleamed in his features--in his whole demeanour?

After mature reflection, Blanden came to the conclusion that he must
have been mistaken if he sought to ascribe any special importance to a
chance meeting.

But when Blanden had left the room, the Italian rubbed his hands
together with scornful satisfaction.

"Now I, too, shall learn," said he to himself, "what has become of her,
and my old receipts will flow in once more."

                              CHAPTER VI.

                            ON LAND AND SEA.

A sparkling, dewy morning made Warnicken, that jewel of the Samland
coast, glisten with double brilliancy.

Blanden stood beneath the oaks of the precipitous declivity of the
Fuchs-spitze. Impatiently he followed the slowly rising course of the
sun and the shadows gradually moving aside.

Slowly the tops of the trees stood out one after another in the sunny
light, and the course of the heavenly orb could be measured beneath
them in the green verdure, in which the quivering, leafy network spun
its shadows ever farther over the campanulas, whose calix had just now
glittered in the sunny illumination.

Every branch, every flower, became a hand of the sun's clock for the
impatient tarrier, while its seconds and minutes moved haltingly

Blanden's disquiet was not the consequence of that longing with which
joyous, triumphant love goes to a reunion. A single meeting may make a
deep impression on the heart, but yet it only yields an uncertain
picture, more resembling a vision, than tangible reality, and how much
still is left to the enquiring mind; how easily is a delusion possible,
which lends a lasting value to a transitory mood!

Will the second meeting uphold that which the first one promised? Will
it confirm the deep impression which Blanden had received of the
campanula in the forest's gloom?

He hardly dared to doubt it; this doubt would have made him unhappy
already; because he believed himself to have found that which would be
able to give rest and peace to his life.

He hoped for a chance encounter, which might be looked for with
certainty in the so little frequented Warnicken; he would not as yet
introduce himself into the house, to the family; he dreaded lest its
middle-class setting should rob his fancy's picture of its entrancing
magic, nor did he feel justified at present in displaying his interest
in the girl in so conspicuous a manner.

Morning's freshness, however, did not seem to be beloved by the
Warnicken visitors. For a long time no living beings showed themselves.

At last Blanden saw the shimmer of a summer dress through the bushes;
his heart beat, as if it must be Eva; but it was an old maid in a
washed-out morning toilet, carrying a yapping lap-dog, casting a few
indifferent glances at the sea, and retiring immediately again, after
this modest enjoyment of nature.

Below, by the rope, a bald-headed male visitor splashed in the but
slightly-disturbed waves; everything else was quiet and tranquil.

Blanden walked uneasily up and down. Perhaps the whole colony had made
some excursion; he would return to the inn to make enquiries about
Regierungsrath Kalzow, as chance, upon which he had at first
calculated, did not favour him.

The sea, after yesterday's storm, lay in sunny clearness and calm; the
splashing of the breakers on the strand only rose like a gentle murmur;
merely a slight quiver spread over the vast surface; one hardly knew
whether it was the shadow of a cloud flying past, or the pulse's gentle
throb of the slumbering sea itself.

Then Blanden perceived a boat being put off from the shore; two girls
sat in it, one of whom rowed, while the other, in a clear voice, sang a
merry song.

He took his telescope to his aid; a fisher-girl was rowing, but the
other was gazing out steadily over the sea. He could not see her
features, but he did see that a wreath of blue-bells adorned her straw
hat. There, she turned round and directed her face towards the cliffs
along the coast; the morning sun lay full upon those fresh features--it
was his campanula!

Quickly resolved, Blanden hastened down the steep footpath from the
Fuchs-spitze to a landing-place, where two boats still lay at anchor.

He had soon made his bargain with the fisherman: to the latter's great
astonishment, he had bought the one for a price which richly
compensated him for the temporary loss.

Quickly as lightning, Blanden sprang into the boat, seized the oar, and
followed the skiff, which was already disappearing in the distance. The
vigorous physical exertion made him feel his internal impatience less

"I seem to myself," thought he, "to be like an old pirate-prince, who
gives chase to a beautiful woman. The confounded stillness of the sea!
If I could only set full sail, so as to hasten more speedily after my
sweet prey. But no quarter when once I have boarded the enemy's ship!"

Blanden pulled with all his might, and the distance between him and the
two girls' skiff did indeed become ever smaller; it appeared, too, as
though they were about to turn round, they watched the boat following
them, and sought to avoid it; all the more determinedly did it pursue
their evading movements.

The one girl stood erectly in the skiff, her hand resting on the
rudder; she looked in curious expectance at the persistent pursuer,
while the other girl rowed on with stolid indifference.

Blanden, with the art of a skilled sailor, cut off every possible means
of return; so that farther flight seaward only remained. Both girls
seemed to be agreed on that point; Eva's signs and actions left no
doubt about it; but it was already too late: by attempting to return
they had lost too much of their start, and Blanden, in his little boat,
pulled, with great strength and rapidity.

"Campanula!" cried he to her, when they had come near enough to one
another; she recognised his voice. As in sweet alarm, she let the
tiller ropes slip from her hands; then she stood motionlessly and
folded them. But the fisher-girl commenced a spasmodic race, in vain
Eva signed and called to her; the girl only nodded her head and pulled
on, but Blanden after a short time overtook them once more.

"Captured at last!" cried he triumphantly, "difficult as it is made for
us to greet an old acquaintance again!"

"Welcome, Herr Assistant!" cried Eva, who had recovered her unaffected
liveliness, "I admire your knowledge of seamanship; you probably have
gained it in duck-shooting?"

"Do you not find, my beautiful child," said Blanden, "that this
conversation is somewhat uncomfortable, and at the same time,
dangerous? Our boats are so close together, that they might knock
against and upset one another, and I shall not stir from your side any
more, after having worked my way into your vicinity by the sweat of my

"What is to be done then?" asked Eva, "we shall go down together."

"Oh, no, I shall act according to the rights of the sea!"

"Have you some kind of right on your side again? Are you an inspector
of the sea perhaps, as you were inspector of the forest, and would you
ask me again for my passport?"

"The right which I have on my side, is one of the oldest and best
rights which history knows; it is the right of might! I shall take
possession of your boat and declare it, with all that it contains, to
be a lawful prize. You are sailing without a flag, you have no ship's

"And do we live in time of war?"

"Certainly until we have made peace, I see a lovely enemy in you;
therefore--board and give no quarter!"

And with a rapid bound Blanden had sprung into Eva's violently rocking
boat, while he relinquished his own to the waves.

The weak minded fisher-girl, with a low cry, pointed to the boat
floating away, while she exclaimed--

"Father's boat! Father's boat!"

"Indeed," said Eva, as she retired completely to the rudder, "you are
not wanting in audacity? This is an attack in pirate fashion!"

"Do I look like a corsair?"

"I do not know any personally, but why should you not sit for the
frontispiece to Byron's poem? You are sun-burnt enough for it, and look
as though you would have no fear of adventures!"

"Certainly not, if the prize be worth the risk!"

"And then--how recklessly you treat the property of others! The poor
fisherman's boat drifts upon the waves, without a master."

"Excuse me, my Fräulein! That boat is my property; I bought it and can
give it up again to the billows."

"And why do you do this?"

"Is it not worth some sacrifice to be with you? Nor would I appear here
as lord and master; no, but as your humble oarsman! Away little one,
let me go to the oar."

The fisher-girl did not stir; seeing he was about to take the oar from
her by force, she prepared to stand upon the defensive.

"Let the poor child alone," said Eva, "she will not leave her post."

Blanden hesitated; suddenly the girl voluntarily relinquished the oar,
cried again twice in a shrieking voice--

"Father's boat! Father's boat!" and then plunged into the sea. Blanden
was about to jump after her.

"Do not," said Eva, "she is the best swimmer in all the villages on the
coast; but she is imbecile, and only seldom has gleams of reason."

"And you trust yourself to her?" asked Blanden.

"No one pulls so good an oar, has better knowledge of wind and weather
and of the sea's peculiarities; she is a water spirit with her
meaningless frog's eyes. I should rely most implicitly upon her in
every danger of the stormy sea. Only look how she swims; she has
reached the forsaken boat, swings herself into it, and grasps the oar!"

"That is disagreeable enough for me!" said Blanden.

"Why in the world?"

"If you would take my telescope, lovely child, you would perceive
that a large number of glasses are directed towards us from the
Fuchs-spitze, although a short time ago, the most solemn silence
reigned beneath the Perkunos oaks. People are observing us, and will
observe us still more--what will they say, if Fräulein Eva sails upon
the sea with a stranger."

"You are right," said Eva, suddenly blushing deeply, "but what has that
to do with your boat?"

"Very much, my Fräulein! If the latter floated quietly away on the sea,
we might relate a credible tale of how it had leaked and I had taken
refuge in your safer boat; that stupid child has deprived us of this
fiction because she will row the skiff, uninjured back to the shore."

"Then you must invent another tale," said Eva.

"Why should I not sing and tell of a Baltic Lorelei, at sight of whom
the boatman in the little boat is seized with wild melancholy, to whom
he is irresistibly drawn."

"Because that boatman with his little boat is not swallowed up."

"Heine only fears it, my Fräulein; it need not therefore happen, and as
yet we do not know the end of this little story. But just look; a whole
girls' school seems to have assembled on the Fuchs-spitze and below
also on the landing place I see visitors."

"I fear, they are my father and mother," said Eva, "they have already
always forbidden these sailing expeditions; but I cannot give them up.
Such a morning's row upon the sea refreshes me so wonderfully; one
seems to glide onwards into eternity upon these deep, quiet waves;
above the wide heavens, beneath the increasing abyss, the farther we
retire from the safe shore; and where the billows meet the sky, even
there the world does not end; it only seems to do so! Far away beyond,
extends the longing for other shores, for other people! There the
sailing ships, the steam boats, distant, stately pass by from harbour
to harbour. How large the world is! And thus surrounded with the
splashing of chattering waves, with the fresh breeze wafted from afar,
there I have quite different, better thoughts, than yonder amidst
mankind, that is always gossiping of trivial, everyday matters,
criticising dress, depriving itself of the small respect due to it."

"Bravo, my Lorelei!" cried Blanden, "the sailor shares these thoughts
and feelings with his mermaid, he rejoices that he really bears a
mermaid in his boat, not one of those ordinary land young ladies, who
even in the face of eternity, only think of their own little wares, of
their possessions and belongings, dresses and bonnets, ribbons and
bows, and who believe that their passenger ticket upon earth has
merely been given to them on account of their goods. But father and
mother--there some slight justification is due. Did you tell them of
our late meeting?"

"No," said Eva, blushing.

"And why not?"

Eva was silent.

"Our adventure in the wood was too unimportant, or you forgot it

"Oh, no," said Eva; "but visits without visiting cards are not

"Good; then we have one little secret between us, and our sea excursion
is another. I shall explain that I believed you to be in danger, as a
half-witted girl rowed your boat, and that I therefore changed places."

During this conversation they had neared the shore. The Regierungsrath
was running angrily up and down, his hands in his coat-pockets; the
large, white cravat in which he had buried his chin seemed to be
loosely twined round it to-day, and moved to and fro.

His massive wife was more self-possessed, but an ominous lecture lay in
her eyes, and about the corners of her mouth.

"Oh, Eva," she cried to her daughter, as soon as her voice could be at
all audible without the aid of a speaking trumpet.

Blanden pulled to the shore, sprang out, bound the boat firmly to a
post, offered his hand to assist Eva to descend, and then busied
himself with the boat and oars, while Eva had to let the first
hurricane of reproaches and reproof sweep over her.

"And, who, then, is this strange gentleman?" asked old Kalzow, with the
air of an inquisitor.

Eva shrugged her shoulders.

"It is too bad, though," stormed her mother; "a _tête-à-tête_ upon the
sea with a perfect stranger!"

"He only introduced himself to me as a pirate, who had boarded my

"No, my Fräulein," said Blanden, now stepping nearer; "I believed you
to be in danger. One ought not to venture upon the sea with an idiot

"There you are right," said the Regierungsrath, suddenly appeased by
the stranger coinciding with him, and also reproaching his imprudent

The former's fashionable appearance made a favourable impression upon
the old gentleman, who, as an introduction to friendly relations,
offered him a pinch of snuff.

Blanden thanked him with a slight bow.

"Our meeting upon the ocean waves, my Fräulein, was of so poetical a
character that I feared to desecrate it by the prose of social forms;
permit me, therefore, now only to introduce myself to you and your
family. My name is Blanden--Max von Blanden."

The Regierungsrath gave his name.

"I have an additional pleasure in making your acquaintance if you are a
relation of that old gentleman to whom the magnificent estates,
Rossitten, Kulmitten, and Nehren belong. I used often to be in that
neighbourhood; I know the estates, because they border upon a district
whither my official duties sometimes lead me; I am, namely, in the
third division of the Government, Woods and Forests--that is my branch!
Thus I have seen the old proprietor once or twice, and heard his
beautiful estates much talked about--a pleasant gentleman."

"All praise that he receives, honours and gratifies me, because I am
his son!"

"His son!" said the Regierungsrath, with a friendly chuckle; "then you
probably manage that extensive property."

"Certainly, and entirely upon my own account; because my poor,
good-hearted father now contents himself with a very small portion of

"Then he has resigned most of the estates to you?" said the
Regierungsräthin, who looked upon the promising heir with especial good

"All, all, _gnädige_ Frau! He only claims one very small place--the
place in the Blandens' family vault--he died half a year ago!"

"Oh, how sad!" said the _gnädige_ Frau, with a sigh, while, speedily
consoled, she added--

"Then in you we recognise the heir and owner of these beautiful

"Alas! I cannot alter it, little talent as I have hitherto displayed in
exercising my rights of ownership in a becomingly solemn manner."

The result of this examination was a brilliant one. Rath and Räthin
were seized with internal disquiet as to how they could best ensure
themselves this gratifying acquaintance for some time. They looked at
one another with questioning and answering glances.

Eva was too happy; she did not know why. She concerned herself but
little about the master and owner of the property; but the friendly
footing between her parents and Blanden made her very happy.

For a moment she might be vexed with him that he had enveloped himself
in mystery towards her, and had not even told her his name; this
fleeting sensation of anger soon passed tracelessly away.

The world lay so seemingly bright before her; she could have sung,
shouted, danced, had it not been so very contrary to propriety; but she
could not quite restrain her exuberant spirits.

Half-witted Käthe landed just at that moment with her father's boat;
dripping with wet, she sprang upon the shore.

Eva liked the poor girl, in whom there was something heroic, resolute;
it was painful to her that the brave child believed herself to have
rescued something, while by her plunge into the sea and her skill in
rowing, she had only brought a stranger's boat into the haven; and when
the little one, with radiant eyes, stepped towards Eva, and with a
triumphant smile, pointed to the skiff which she had rowed to the
shore, the former embraced the girl--she was so full of her own
happiness that others' misfortunes touched her doubly. Certainly, she
had not considered the consequences, as the embrace had rendered her
morning toilet so wet that she shivered with the cold damp, and her
mother scoldingly bade her go home to change her clothes.

First, however, Herr von Blanden was invited to share the modest
mid-day meal at the inn, as well as accompany them to the forest, on an
afternoon excursion, which had been arranged with other visitors. His
acceptance made her parents and Eva equally happy.

On their road home, the Regierungsrath calculated to his wife what the
average revenue of the Rositten, Kulmitten and Nehren estates would be,
trying to draw the correct medium of income between favourable and
unfavourable years. He knew the nature of the soil, the number of
acres; the result worked out in ponderous figures was received by the
Frau Räthin with a well-pleased smile.

Eva had hastened on in front; yet her parents' conversation was
confined to income, taxes, and other questions of national economy. No
discussion was needed, for they understood one another.

Suddenly Frau Räthin stayed her winged steps; daring hopes and plans
had lent a more lively movement to her usually majestic gait; but a
rising thought suddenly paralysed it in a most disturbing manner.

"Gracious heavens!" cried she, as she supported herself with her
parasol against an old oak trunk.

"What is the matter with you, Miranda?" asked her husband anxiously.

"We have invited him--and have quite forgotten the one thing!"

"The poor dinner, do you mean? Oh, people are used to that at the
seaside; Spartan fare is the rule here!"

"No, no! We have forgotten to ask--"

"What then, in the world?"

"If Herr von Blanden is not already married?"

The Regierungsrath's chin jumped into his cravat with a slight shock of

"You are right, Miranda! We are very foolish!"

"He is no longer a youth; I should put him down as being thirty years
old, and a man of that age, of his brilliant position, looked up to,
rich--nothing else can be possible--he must have had a wife long

Lost in sad thought, both walked silently side by side.

"But if I consider it properly," said Kalzow, "it cannot well be so. He
would have taken his wife with him to the sea."

"People do not always take their wives with them to bathing-places."

"And then, he showed such evident interest in Eva! It has not been
exactly explained yet how that occurrence took place at sea. Did you
hear what Eva said about the buccaneer? He boarded, captured her, I
don't know what else! Let us hope that it was all right."

"We should hope so? You talk of boarding and capturing--and on that
account Herr von Blanden must be unmarried? Old man--we know better!
Many an one has laid siege and taken captive who should not have gone
out to steal, because he has a good wife at home. And you, too, old
man, if one knew everything! But you should not pretend such innocence,
when your daughter's happiness is concerned!"

This turn to the conversation was plainly disagreeable to the
Regierungsrath; he took several pinches of snuff quickly one after
another, and sought to bring about an understanding with his wife, by
devising a plan of campaign, how to-day at dinner, even before the
pudding arrived, they might tear aside the veil which shrouded Herr von
Blanden's domestic circumstances.

They were agreed on one point, that if he were guilty of the crime of
being married already, he should be treated accordingly, and all
further intercourse be coolly broken off.

In the meanwhile, the hero of this discussion still stood on the shore,
and studied the wet ocean curiosity with its goggle eyes, which he
could picture perfectly to himself as one of those subordinate
fish-goddesses who flounder about Neptune's car. He tried in vain to
make her understand about his boat. The old fisherman came forward and
rated the girl for the boldness with which she had taken possession of
another person's property.

Blanden made her a present of the boat, and gradually, with silent
delight, she comprehended that she had become its owner. Then he
pressed a piece of gold into her hand, and its flashing shimmer
transported idiot Käthe into a perfect tumult of happiness. She held it
in the sun, and at the same time danced in a circle round it, until the
fisherman reminded her of the duty of returning thanks for it.

She hastened to Blanden, kissed his hands, and looked at him with eyes
whose glassy glitter was brightened with a moist gleam.

The second meeting with Eva had only strengthened Blanden in his hopes
and wishes. She appeared to be as sensible and beautiful as the first
time; as fresh, pure, and frank as he had imagined the wife of his
choice. At the same time, she was not without mental ability; not so
slow and apathetic as such calm and beautiful natures often are. She
was not consumed by commonplace, insignificant ideas, in which, from
the character of their bringing up, the daily associations, the
depressing example, talents of a higher organisation are often stifled.

Father and mother had made careful arrangements for the dinner in the
modest inn; the daughter, however, remained in reserve until the ground
had been properly reconnoitred.

Blanden was appointed to a seat by the mother, while the daughter sat
on the other side of her father. These precautionary measures
astonished him slightly; he did not imagine that he must first prove
himself to be a man towards whom it was possible to entertain serious

The conversation turned upon politics, which, at that time, were the
salt of every East Prussian dinner-table. The Regierungsrath pushed his
vedettes carefully forward, and, with the vanguard of his articles of
belief, made a retrograde movement, as he remarked that a superior
enemy's force stood before him.

Not on any account would he injure his cause with Herr Von Blanden, and
manifested himself a temperate, tolerant man, to the great amazement of
the Kreisgerichtsrath sitting opposite to him, with whom he had often
broken a lance at table over these very questions.

"We are not yet ripe for a constitution," said Kalzow, "at least, not
for a constitution according to the modern English and French form. We
are a patriarchal people, and what would become of our bureaucracy if
Parliament should speak the decisive words? In England and France it is
quite different; there they have no such official power representing
the intelligence of the whole State, yes, which, as it were, it has
absorbed within itself. I cannot imagine a Prussia with a
constitutional organisation: we shall never live to see that, little as
I fail to recognise the advantages of such institutions."

"But, my dear friend," interposed the Kreisgerichtsrath, "you have
always hurled unqualified anathemas at them."

"It depends upon the nature of the soil, dear friend," replied the
Regierungsrath; "elsewhere these plants may thrive capitally, it is
impossible with us."

"I cannot see that," said Blanden, "I believe that we, too, shall one
day occupy the position that is due to us amongst Europe's nations, if
we become the equals of advanced peoples by means of a free
constitution. Until then, I hesitate to count Prussia amongst the
leading civilised states. The bureaucracy alone, best of
Regierungsraths, cannot assist us to it. I have travelled far over the
world, I know the Celestial Empire."

"You mean China?" interrupted the Räthin. Unbroken silence reigned

"Yes, _gnädige_ Frau, and I assure you that officialdom is excellently
organised there. The candidate undergoes his examination before the
_Wald der Pinsel_,[2] in Nankin."

"_Wald der Pinsel_?" asked the Regierungsrath.

"So is the college for examinations designated there."

"That term of ridicule has surely been invented by some candidate who
failed," suggested the Gerichtsrath.

"It is no term of ridicule," explained Blanden, "it is the official
designation. The Chinese, it is well known, write with brushes, and
this _Wald der Pinsel_ is as well versed in all the old books of law
and history, in the philosophical writings of Con-fut-se and La-ot-se,
as any European University's Senate is at home in the works of all the
professions. I will not assert that these men are specially
intelligent--that is to say, I mean the Chinese _Wald der Pinsel_, not
the European--but they are learned, pedantic, and so strict in
examination, that many a bachelor who has, perhaps, paid more homage to
a lover with a green girdle than to the muses, fails irretrievably."

"I was not aware," said the Regierungsrath, "that they possessed
institutions in China betokening such high cultivation."

"Oh, they have a great many of them," continued Blanden, "the different
grades of Mandarins have buttons on their caps. It is thus known at
once if one of these dignitaries is a Chinese assessor, counsellor,
chief-counsellor, privy counsellor; and, without asking for his
visiting-card, each can immediately be treated with due respect. With
us, people sometimes make mistakes about rank; one gives offence, and
yet rank is not less esteemed by us than it is in China."

"With reason," said the Regierungsrath; "that which one has earned and
merited, one likes to see recognised by the world."

"You see, in the Celestial Empire, everything is arranged in the most
excellent manner. Yet this State is a pig-tail State, a marionette
State, because the people only count by souls and heads, because all
intellectual life and action, every right, every liberty, is wanting.
The Celestial son rules it by the rod of his officials. Everything
blooms and flourishes, but it is a lacquered happiness, all paper and
tinsel rubbish, a crushing existence of formula. What I saw there of
the law and Government reminds me of the Kasperle Theatre; they chop
off heads with the same equanimity as that with which Kasperle disposes
of his enemies--human life has no value, dignity of man is unknown."

"But that is different with us," said the Regierungsrath, as he assumed
a self-conscious bearing, and laid knife and fork aside. "What have we
in Prussia, according to your views, in common with the Celestial

"The Bureaucracy and patriarchal Government."

"Did I not always say so?" cried the Kreisgerichtsrath, triumphantly,
"that is quite my view! I am delighted to receive so worthy an ally."

And, at the same time, he cast a malicious glance at the
Regierungsrath, as if at a beaten opponent, so that a flush of anger
suffused the latter's face, and he contracted his bushy eyebrows.

"Education," continued Blanden, "is so propagated amongst all classes
of the Prussian people, that the introduction of a constitution is
indeed no reckless venture; besides, it is the fulfilment of old
promises, and will unite the bond between prince and people still more
firmly. I shall employ all my powers in this province, with the
assistance of my worthy colleagues, so that the military Government of
Prussia shall become a constitutional one. It will not lose its warlike
energy by these means. I say, openly, that this is my dearest task in
life. I consider our present political condition to be at the same time
intolerable and unworthy."

The Regierungsrath crumpled his dinner-napkin convulsively in his hand;
the challenge was too daring. He would gladly have given annihilating
expression to his opposite conviction; but he reserved it all on the
chance that when at the estates of Kulmitten, Rositten and Nehren, he
should not need in future to evince any such tender consideration.
Meanwhile, he had one of those coughing and choking attacks which
sometimes befell him in moments of great agitation, which he was
obliged to suppress. Miranda came readily to his assistance, and
thought, as the head waitress had already brought the pudding, she must
not hesitate any longer to clear up the state of affairs.

"Since when, Herr von Blanden," asked she, with a most unconcerned
countenance, "have you returned from your travels?"

"Only half a-year ago."

That sounded consolatory enough, and the Regierungsrath's condition
visibly improved.

"Then, probably," continued the Regierungsräthin, as she calmly poured
a spoonful of fruit-sauce upon the pudding, "you have already set up a
quiet domestic hearth?"

Now it was for Eva, who had listened silently but attentively, and
sympathising warmly with Blanden's remarks to the former conversation,
to become pale. She started at the thought that she had never put this
question to herself; it lay in a measure so near, and yet so far, from
her heart. In breathless tension, she waited for the reply; her heart
beat eagerly, yet the firm conviction dwelled within her that Blanden
could not yet be fettered.

"The domestic hearth of a bachelor," replied Blanden.

These few words exercised a cheering effect upon the Kalzow family. The
Regierungsrath had already mobilised a line of victorious arguments
against Blanden's reprehensible political views; they were ready to
advance at the double so soon as the signal was given. The attack
should commence at dessert, if the declaration of war need not be
withheld on account of considerations of policy. This was now the case;
everything was disembodied; the most telling proofs were dismissed to
their homes; the peaceful mood prevailed so completely, that the
Regierungsrath condescended to the most extensive admissions as regards
politically emancipated nations. The Kreisgerichtsrath, however, stared
anew at the Caudine Passes into which his opponent's logic seemed to
have wandered. The Regierungsräthin was seized with a most unusual love
of enterprise; she made the most various plans and projects, and first
thought over an arrangement of the afternoon party, which should give
the young people in the forest the utmost liberty possible for an
undisturbed meeting. Eva herself was happy; her life was sunnily bright
again. The lowering shadow had passed away without dimming it.

The walk in the forest was undertaken in the happiest mood; the little
party of seaside visitors had furnished itself with everything that
was necessary. Knitting; packets of coffee and sugar, cakes of every
kind, formed the provisions which the careful mothers carried with
them, concerning themselves less about the sacred shadows and
dwellings of sweet enchantment, than about the arrangements for the
afternoon--coffee, which should be prepared at the hospitable hearth of
the little forest house. The tall trees rustled, the birds sang, the
flowers bloomed, but the respected ladies only heard the coffee-cups
rattle in imagination.

Blanden conversed a great deal with the Rath and Räthin, although he
came more and more to the conclusion that the interest which he felt in
Eva could not be extended to her parents without an effort. The Rath
was a pedant who at heart had only a mind for figures and all worldly
matters that could be reduced to calculations; the Räthin, too, was
accustomed to look upon everything from its business side. In addition,
neither was free from that envy which is often an hereditary evil in
officials' families, from the envy of those fortunate persons' incomes
which are not restricted to small official salaries: a few sallies upon
the rich banker's wife, if she walked on in front at a sufficient
distance, upon the ostentatious display of her wealth, upon the
attempts at being literary which pervaded the whole house, convinced
Blanden that the Kalzow family, despite the consciousness of their
exalted position, yet in truth belonged to those unhappy persons who
are excluded from all the higher enjoyments of life.

Frau Kalzow had another especial cause for animosity towards her
wealthy friend; the latter's son, a boy in the first form at the
Kneiphof College, devoted particular attention to Eva, and during the
walk would not stir from her side, so that it was rendered almost
impossible for Herr von Blanden to approach her, as he wished to do.
Frau Kalzow employed every legitimate stratagem to entice the promising
Salomon away from Eva; she begged him to gather her a blue flower which
she had espied far away in the wood, she lost a needle out of her
knitting, and Salomon had to go far, far back along the footpath to
find this _corpus delicti_, and restore Frau Räthin's work materials to
their entirety; yet he executed all these commissions with great
rapidity, and came running back breathlessly, so as to be able to renew
his conversation with charming Eva.

"It is remarkable," said he to Eva, "that lyrical poets always praise
the woods; I have instituted an album for poetry on the subject, and
have been obliged already to buy a third volume from the bookbinder. I
can discover nothing particular in a wood; fundamentally it is always
the same. Some trunks are darker, others lighter; the leaves larger or
smaller, dented or downy, and if one looks through between the stems it
always bears the same aspect, and a forester, moreover, certainly only
thinks of building or firewood. How different such a wealthy poet's
soul! Unfortunately, I do not possess it, my Fräulein; therefore, I
make extracts of as much poetry as is possible, so as always to be _au
fait_ when sensations amidst the forest's verdure are under discussion.
Even Schiller, I believe, had no mind for woodland lyrics; how
beautifully he might have described Fridolin's walk to the Eisenhammer.
Yet not the forest only, the church he depicts to us. He had only
feeling for the Bohemian forests, and when he peopled them with living
beings, it was not elves and fairies, but robbers! Ah, the robbers, my
Fräulein! I understand that thoroughly! And that Amalie! She is my
ideal! How she rushes at Franz with her sword--she must have been
blonde, on account of the song that she sings to the guitar; no
brunette could possess so much enthusiasm."

Thus, with inexhaustible eloquence, Salomon entertained his companion,
who was too good-natured to display her impatience, or to stop him with
derision. After all he intended to show her attention and kindliness,
and how could she have repaid it with ingratitude? Eva possessed the
most delicate good feeling; her mother did not understand this, and now
was indignant at the patience, or rather confidential manner, with
which Eva treated the young scholar. At last she had recourse to a
fiendish measure; the Frau Kanzleiräthin's fat daughter, otherwise a
nice girl, had always been disposed to make advances to that talkative
Salomon, and Frau Kalzow spurred her on to them with great zeal and
inciting insinuations.

Minna actually did soon appear on Salomon's other side, while showing
him a butterfly that she had caught with her summer hat. The butterfly
roused the lad's interest, which he did not, however, extend to Minna
herself; on the contrary, all the remarks that he made about the
capture were directed to Eva, it only offered him an opportunity to
show himself in a more brilliant light to the latter, because he knew
the day and night butterflies as accurately as the forest lyrists, and,
as the son of wealthy parents, possessed a splendid collection of those

"This is a rare specimen, a _trauer mantel_ with violet borders; the
_trauer mantel_ are distinguished by their borders--Nature has ordained
this very wisely; a similar thing occurs with students' caps; the corps
which I join is merely distinguished by different borders on its caps
from the antagonistic corps with which it always fights. We, too, have
our drinking parties my Fräulein, and I preside at these gatherings,
but no one as yet has drunk me under the table. But as regards the
wisdom of Nature, I find it also imprinted on the Apollo. That
butterfly is only found in some few valleys in Silesian and other
mountains, which thus possess an especial attraction, and are
considered to be worth seeing, and so bring profit to the innkeepers
and the inhabitants, for there are more butterfly-seekers than any one
would believe, and I know one who even bears caterpillars upon his

Minna was much dejected at the small success of her strategy; deeply
shamed, she walked along beside Salomon, casting her good-tempered eyes
to the ground, and crushing the poor _trauer mantel's_ head to death.

In the meantime the forester's lodge was reached, and while the other
ladies prepared the coffee, Frau Kalzow deemed it expedient to invite
Herr von Blanden to a little walk to the weeping willow hill, but
recollected that she had forgotten the way thither, and requested Eva
to accompany them as guide. Frau Kalzow remained modestly in the rear
during this walk; Eva and Blanden could exchange thoughts and feelings
uninterruptedly, gather flowers, climb little hills to obtain views;
Frau Kalzow maintained her communications with the vanguard by
occasionally calling to it.

Eva chatted innocently and fondly of her girlish and childish years, of
her school days; Blanden thus had a glimpse of a mind clear as crystal,
but which was also possessed of a sense and sympathy for everything
loftier, for art and nature, and even for the questions of the day;
only about one thing she was silent in her confessions, she did not
mention that she was merely the Kalzow's adopted child; she did not
mention her mother. She had often enough experienced what interruption
to friendly relations had been called forth by such allusions, how it
was her mother, who without knowing or wishing it, had exercised so
cruel an influence upon her young life; she thought with silent emotion
of the beautiful melancholy figure, whose picture still hovered before
her mind; but the inexplicable estrangement permitted no warmer
sensation to rise; as all the world was shy of and avoided remembering
her mother, so she, too, only thought of her in quiet dreams, and
dreaded calling up any lurking ill if she mentioned that name before
others: this unsolved mystery oppressed her soul, this _noli me
tangere_ of her young life; yet there lay so much brightness in her
nature that this one single darkening shadow remained unnoticed.

Blanden felt refreshed and younger by his intercourse with the graceful
girl; although so many storms had passed over his internal life, yet
one spot remained in it, where the longing for peace, the readiness to
welcome a quiet state of happiness, defied all desolation, and starting
from that spot, his whole life should take a new form; he felt with
intense satisfaction that he was still capable of such happiness as the
simplicity of a pure, euphonious nature grants, and therein lay the
girl's charm, in the perfect harmony of her character. As her slender
figure stood before him, not excessively tall, but yet stately and
commanding, girlish but not so thin as girls in boarding schools often
are in consequence of too much mental cultivation; as the light of her
large eyes beamed above beautiful regular features, so in her were mind
and heart also in harmonious unison; the movements of her feelings and
thoughts possessed the same grace as her physical actions; it was the
invisible spirit of tact and moderation that governed her whole body
and mind. Wherever she reigned there this spirit must impress itself
upon all who approached her, who stepped within her spell! What a
guarantee for happiness, for peace, lay in such dominant grace, in such
exquisite euphony! All discordant elements must remain aloof; the
recollections of the past could have no power before the magical might
of such a presence.

That was the thread which Blanden twined mentally around the nosegay of
woodland flowers which Eva presented to him! He had firm faith in his
own felicity, if he should ensure it by speedy, decisive choice.

But will the young girl be able to love the much older man? Was her
ready trust a proof of love, or not, rather qualified to awaken doubt
of it? Because perhaps the delicate reserve of love would have been
more reticent towards a companion of her own age; the trust reposed so
freely in him was in the experienced, older man who should respect it
with friendly counsel. And yet the enthusiastic illumination of the
gazelle-like eye often excited sympathy, a slight quiver in her voice
and her whole being, whenever he approached her, on pressing her hand
in his, which Blanden once ventured to offer her, when she was speaking
so sweetly and fervently of her childhood's dreams.

And yet, if Eva did really love him, would it be for her own good? Is
the chasm not much too great between the unconscious girl, whose life
is spent in one single emotion, and the man who has fought his way
through every passion, has weathered life's storms in every latitude,
to whom graceless womanhood had often offered sweet temptation, who had
also felt the charm of danger that lies in forbidden paths, and who on
outlawed ways and in a daring manner had sought to unriddle the dark
secret in combining the spirituality with the sensuality of human
nature? Was it not cold egotism which strove to purchase its own peace,
too dearly perhaps, with the price of that of another human being?
Could not, sooner or later, the confessions which he had no right,
which it was least of all a duty to make to such innocence, be
completed by some chance, by gossiping report; and must not some
internal rift gradually extend through the beloved one's heart; must
she not suddenly feel that she had built the bridge of her happiness
across an unknown abyss, from out of whose depth unnatural spirits
arose and spread a gloom over her life?

The more serious the affection which Blanden felt for Eva, the more
powerful did these considerations become; yes he walked back by her
side with a moody brow.

"You are not cheerful," said Eva, "oh you must not cling to gloomy
thoughts! What would I not give if I could banish all sadness out of
your life!"

"You are good, my child," said Blanden, as he again pressed her hand,
"but oh I am not! True goodness of heart, innocence alone can possess;
we others have only momentary touches of it; our good works are often
but a species of atonement! If you knew what we have lived through,
must live through, who have been so tossed about by fate! Often we ask
ourselves, if it is really we who have done this or been guilty of
that, it seems so strange, so incredible to us; we would gladly sever
the thread which binds the present with the past, but always this self,
this indestructible I, that cannot set itself free from its deeds, that
often grins at us like a spectre. Even the tree can shake off its
withered leaves; but the withered leaves of our life cling indissolubly
to us, and no coming spring sweeps them away with its rejuvenating

"You certainly have done no evil," said Eva, "I will be surety for

"That surety is bold, my Fräulein; yet, certainly, no evil that is the
fruit of internal wickedness, that would intentionally injure the
well-being of mankind, nothing from base motives. But from personal
error, much evil often arises, and one may ruin those whom one loves!"

"Mutual love knows no ruin," replied Eva, and joyful pride, nameless
confidence was expressed in these words, and in her demeanour.

"That is a beautiful belief, and it would be cruel to disturb it."

"Oh, you are kind and good," continued Eva, "despite your strange
utterances, which might alarm one; yes, sometimes you have such a
scoffing expression, and such an evil gleam in your kindly eyes, that I
could be afraid of you myself! Yet, it soon passes away. Has mankind
injured you so deeply that you should cherish such hostile emotions?"

"They me, and I them! Thus it is in the world! But I will not soil your
pure mind with such thoughts."

Eva and Blanden returned thoughtfully to the forester's lodge, and it
was welcome to them that Frau Kalzow, who had joined them again, should
now bear the burden of the conversation, as she made several
unmistakable allusions to the growing intimacy between Blanden and Eva,
and then had recourse to a description of the coffee-party, which did
not fail in the sharpest, most characteristic colouring.

The hour for coffee had, however, been missed by the expedition to the
weeping willows, and the defaulters had to content themselves with a
second infusion of the Mocha beverage.

The next day all the members of the forest party were the guests of
Herr von Blanden, who had sent for the best and most expensive wines
from Neukuhren.

Consequently, all were in the liveliest spirits; the political debates
were carried on as eagerly as could be desired; Blanden even no longer
felt melancholy, as he had done on the previous day; he was in a most
cheerful humour, and brilliant fireworks of thought entertained the
guests, of whom most, however, were but little able to appreciate them.

Eva did not criticise the rapid changes of mood which Blanden
displayed. She rejoiced at his gaiety, his exuberant spirits.

In the afternoon an excursion was made to the charming Georgswalder
ravine, and there pitched a nomad camp beneath tall oaks and beeches.

Blanden's hesitation of the previous day had disappeared; he only
perceived in Eva an eligible, beautiful woman. Boldly he sought and
paid her attention, which was not repulsed with any false shame or
affected modesty.

On the third day they went again into the forest. Blanden's courtship
of Eva had not been unobserved, as was betokened plainly enough by the
prevailing disposition of the guests.

While the Regierungsrath and his friends rejoiced over it, a hostile,
rancorous party was not wanting.

The Kanzleiräthin deemed Eva's behaviour extremely unbecoming and would
have given Herr von Blanden credit for better taste, or, at least, more
discrimination, as a man of his years ought not to pay attention to so
young a girl: her dear Minna was six or eight years older; the habit of
making false statements about the year of her birth and baptismal
certificate, had made her mother herself uncertain about it.

Minna possessed that steadiness which is befitting a good housewife;
her physical beauty also was perfectly capable of bearing comparison
with that of slender Eva, as her figure was plump, and her eyes were
not full of that unhealthy enthusiasm which Eva's too large pupils

And then, Minna owned a mother who rejoiced in an immaculate character;
Eva, certainly, had two such relations, but the present one, a mother
according to the country's laws, is disagreeable enough, and about the
other it is best to be silent.

Minna herself was too good-hearted to feel envy or jealousy; she was
only mournful, and Salomon once found her in tears, sitting beneath the
weeping willows.

He did not so calmly bear the unworthy preference which Eva granted to
an elderly gentleman, who surely already belonged to the Philistines,
instead of bestowing her favours upon fresh, joyous youth.

It is true, Eva had never been unfriendly towards him, but what was
this friendliness to him?

Young wealthy Salomon might count upon occupying the first place in the
heart of a Regierungsrath's daughter. Herr von Blanden might also be
rich, but was he as young and had he such a future before him as

"It is incredible, mamma!" said he to his sympathising mother, "they
are walking together again, talking confidentially. That Blanden, who
is more than thirty years old, and has passed through many a storm, and
what has he done in the world? Certainly, he has a cut upon his right
cheek, a proof that he has studied; but apart from that cut he has
gained hardly any merit, and can he actually be termed handsome,

"He is a fine-looking man, though," said the banker's wife.

"He is not my ideal of manliness! I like men such as William Tell,
powerful, plain and sterling; he has such a soft, dreamy expression in
his face, at the same time such a superior, polite smile, and a pair of
eyes which no one can make out; now they look as if they had
disappeared; then again gleam diabolically, now small, now large; eyes,
as to the nature of which no one can form a decision. Yet, I have read
somewhere that girls like that. What success Don Juan had, mamma! His
register that Leporello unrolls is longer than the _menu_ at the
largest hotel! But it is not that alone, believe me, mamma; it is
being a nobleman! The influence which rank exercises upon love is very
great! Those who have nothing particular about them, excepting being
noblemen--and it does prepossess people--have married the most
beautiful girls. How often have I not already said that papa ought to
have himself ennobled! With his money and his connexions it would
be a trifle; but you do absolutely nothing to smoothe my path through
life--to assist me to success. Some portion would fall to your share,
too; you would like to be _gnädige_ Frau, and it is impossible to give
that to oneself."

While Salomon told his troubles to his mother, and as he added would
try his luck with Eva once more, another rival of Blanden's had arrived
unexpectedly, and was present at this forest-party, the young poet
Schöner, who for a short time at least had applied for a place in Eva's
heart, and had striven to be successful in obtaining it. But since that
encounter with the singer, Eva had renounced him so completely that she
treated him with conspicuous coldness.

Had he not accompanied the admired _virtuoso_, on the whole of her
tour, back to the capital, and only left her when she made a trip into
the country with a female friend, to Lithuania or Masuren, and forbade
the young poet to escort her farther?

Schöner easily recovered all these slights and resigned himself to the
existing state of affairs; he hoped soon to reconquer the lost
position; he sunned himself with such self-satisfaction in the glory of
an easily-gained, doubtful fame, that he was less susceptible of
smaller defeats.

In addition, his spirits, like his poetry, were still sparkling
champagne, and a certain youthful unripeness did not become him badly;
his nature owned tokens of genius which promised that he would overcome

Blanden, with that subtle discrimination which was peculiar to him,
soon remarked that Eva's indifference did not appear to be at all
natural in this case, that slight defiance, something repellant lay in
it, indicating former connection. He looked more closely at his rival,
who did not displease him at all, and in whose poetical attempts he had
already been interested, and found remarkable consolation in the
former's turned-down shirt-collar, and in his unpolished thorn stick.
He considered the entire toilet hopeless for a matrimonial candidate,
that the heart of an educated girl, who aims at a domestic hearth,
could not possibly repose any confidence in such a wooer.

Yet love, which allows itself to be won by an enthusiast and a pair of
glowing eyes--had it no chance in the game?

Schöner was so engrossed by the political paroxysm of that period, that
this intoxicated idealism lent him most infectious enthusiasm. He
acknowledged himself to be Herwegh's disciple, and when he recited that
poet's verses, the beautiful, powerful voice in which he declaimed
them, always called forth a kindred feeling in his listeners.

He recited with the enthusiasm with which, at that period, these
poetical fire-brands were hurled into the air, and, at the same time,
heat the oak-branches with his thorn-stick, until the leaves whirled to
the ground.

"Have you seen him in person?" he asked Eva, and, as she replied in the
negative, he continued, "I was present when the students greeted him; I
was present at the entertainment in the Kneiphöf _Junkerhof_, when he
declaimed his marvellously beautiful poem--

                 '_Die Lerche war's nicht die Nachtigall,
                  Erhebt euch vom Schlumnur der Sünden;
                  Schon wollen die Feuer sich überall,
                  Die heiligen Feuer, entzunden_.'[3]

And the old Justizrath, with his long, thin arms patted Herwegh on his
shoulders, and addressed a warm speech to him, and any one who could
saddle a Pegasus, mounted his poetical steed, in order to do honour to
the poet. A new epoch has dawned for poetry. I know your charming
book-shelves, Eva; there they stand in delicate bindings--the
romancists, Uhland, Platen, and Rückert, and whatever their names may
be; the later born masters of song, who followed our classical writers,
but where the mere empty appearance of cultivation is not in question,
there the reverence of quiet natures buries itself in the solitary
enjoyment of the poets, and they are mostly women and girls who give
themselves up to such enjoyment. How totally different it has become
now! Not only youths, but grown-up men are enthusiastic about Herwegh's
poetry, as it does not find its echo alone in the students' drinking
parties, but also in official bureaux and counting-houses. Herwegh's
journey through Germany was a regular triumphant course; he was _fêted_
everywhere; the King granted him an audience, and treated him as an
intellectual Great Power. Poetry is becoming a national affair again;
the beautiful times of Greece are returning once more."

"And do you not fear," said Blanden, "that this infatuation will be
followed by a long reaction? that poetry, by these strong measures
which it must employ to act upon the masses, will dull its power, and a
time of universal indifference to it ensue?"

"I do not fear that," replied Schöner, "the last poet will only depart
from the world with the last man, as Anastasius Grün has sung so

"Oh, yes, singers will not fail," interposed Blanden, "but the public!
The gentlemen of the profession will not give way, but I can well
imagine a time when political poetry will be followed by political
prose, when the ideals are attained which the poet's enthusiasm has
lauded. That which, until now, has been the home of poetry, the kingdom
of silent feelings, will be more forsaken than ever now, because, in
the noise of public life, people have become unaccustomed to it. Then
the poets will only sing of politics; yet these will need no more
poetry; they would treat of more tender subjects, yet these retreat
before politics. All poetry will then appear to be materials for use in
sickness, which, in the present critical period, we have cast off from

"I cannot take so black a view," replied Schöner. "I believe in the
everlasting youth of the mind, in the immortality of the beautiful, of
poetry, even though the poets die. Who could subscribe to a _monumentum
aere perennius_? I even doubt if Herwegh will produce anything great;
he is only a man of the Awakening, of the lyrical Initiative. There is
no versatile productive nature in him; a dull fanaticism lies in him,
which has been able to give utterance to the cry of distress of the
people and time, but hardly commands a wealthier spiritual life, and no
varied forms of art. One single enchanting poetical blossom, like the
torch-thistle, and then the busy, creative power is exhausted. His
dreamy brow, his dark eye promise much, and if genius did not live in
him, how could he have composed such entrancing poetry? But a heavy
spell, as it were, rests upon him, and too early fame is poison."

"You speak your own condemnation," said Eva, with cold flattery.

"Oh, no, my Fräulein! I rejoice that my poems have found some little
echo; yet this modest recognition is far removed from the noisy,
clamorous path of triumph of those happy ones, upon whose brows fresh
laurels have been lowered. Lasting fame can only be won by serious
work, and the glorious aim of a maturer life."

Eva was astonished at this modest confession, which made a favourable
impression upon Blanden. The self-satisfaction of the young poet, who
was a spoiled favourite in certain circles of society, certainly drew
pleasant nourishment from the frequently extravagant recognition with
which he met; but the inmost kernel of his nature was not absorbed by
it; the impetus to future greater performances remained alive.

Eva and her companions had become separated from the party during this
animated conversation. From several symptoms, Schöner perceived that a
little romance was being enacted, of which he himself was not the hero.
He remained untroubled at this neglect, and, with noble unselfishness
and a poet's pleasure in a little love tale, which he might utilise
himself for a newspaper, he left the field, under the pretence that he
had promised a beautiful bouquet to the Kanzleirath's Minna, and he
must gather it in the wood. He also had the satisfaction in so doing of
giving them to understand he would not act the superfluous third
person's part of chaperon at this _rendezvous_ of two lovers, and
guessed their wish to be alone.

They had arrived once more at the spot where Blanden had first greeted
his campanula; the alders rustled in the evening wind, the stream
whispered beneath the trees; above through the quivering boughs of the
weeping willows the western sky poured its floods of gold.

"You know this young poet well?" asked Blanden.

"I have met and talked to him several times, he interests me; he
possesses talent, intellect and attractive qualities, yet the want of
steadiness in his nature and actions repelled me; everything in him is
prompted by the whim of the moment."

"And you felt no liking for him?"

"Just a very little liking, I do not deny it; he paid me attentions,
people remarked it, and often threw us together in society; it
flattered me, as he was accounted the ornament and pride of those
circles, and he gazed at me with fervid eyes as though he felt a deep
passion for me, but he looked at all the world with the same eyes, and
when I recognised that, he became indifferent to me."

"He has the eye and heart of a poet! Such a heart yearns to possess
everything beautiful that it looks upon as its own heaven-bestowed
property; it is dangerous and fatal to win a poet's evanescent
passion--he only gives it durability in his works, not in his life. How
many blossoms of beautiful emotions has Goethe plucked, as it were, in
passing by; to how many women's hearts did his wanderings bring death,
like the approach of the inapproachable. That does not suit us inferior
mortals! And even if in the extravagance of youth, we do yield
ourselves up to such poetical paroxysms, we must soon learn to control
ourselves, for we not only leave desolate the lives of others, like
that poet, but also our own, as we are unable to cast imperishable
creations into the other scale."

Eva looked questioningly at him with her large eyes.

"Let us sit down upon the grassy mound, among the blue-bells, they ring
in spring, perhaps also for me; it was here I found my campanula."

Eva stood hesitatingly; he drew her down beside himself upon the sward.

"The girl that asks for feelings fresh as morn, must reject the
man--reject him decidedly--who, after abundant experiences in far-off
lands, returns to his home. My life is an Odyssey. I have suffered many
shipwrecks; many a Calypso has bound me in her fetters, yet no Penelope
awaits the home-comer, he has first to seek her."

Eva did not venture to look up, and plucked the blue flowers while he

"Yet what are whirlpools and ocean wonders, the magicians and nymphs of
other days--what all the harsh and sweet dangers of those seas which
Homer's sun has illuminated for evermore, compared with the shoals and
abysses which menace the bold traveller of the present time? To-day
there is no Odyssey in which a vein of Faust would not be concealed, a
struggle to fathom the world and life. And how wonderfully at this
great turning-point of the period in which we are born, all truths and
all delusions play into one another! And while still at home I
succumbed to these perils! I saw how the old faith clung convulsively
to the standard of the world's renunciation, in that religious
enthusiasm which then held its sway over me, I joined it; yet beauty,
which we learn to despise, passion, which we should renounce by oath,
gained the victory within me over that belief. They all played a daring
game, I succumbed to it, and I was not the only one; it was the first
great step astray in my life."

Eva had laid her flowers in her lap; she did not dare to look at
him--not with her eyes' mute question.

"I speak to you in enigmas, and may they remain enigmas to you! What I
have experienced in the world were adventures that were only wafted
upon me like gossamer threads in the air, which we shake off again.
Only once beneath Italy's soft sky, in the intoxicating breath of its
perfumed plains, a spell held me enthralled for a short time; I thought
to live through one of Boccaccio's novels; the charm of concealment
from those at home remained assured to this dream-like meeting. Enough,
I returned home, no tired, no bowed down man, but tired of the life
that I had led, overwhelmed with dark recollections, resolved, instead
of an unsteady wanderer through the universe, to become a citizen of my
country and of the world, who works nobly and bravely; for this I
require peace, and peace of mind is alone the ground upon which such
good work nourishes."

"And it will flourish," cried Eva, with exalted animation, "cast all
sadness, all depression far behind you! I cannot bear to see shadows
suffuse your brow--your eyes close as if expiring! I would see you
happy, quite happy, and your name honoured like those of the noblest
patriots, a Stein and Schön!"

"That word shall never be forgotten by me," cried Blanden, "it finds an
echo in my soul; it tells of perfect unanimity of feeling, and if there
is a cabala in life, you have thrown open the page on which the magic
sentence stands, which now governs my days. That is the noble ambition
which animates me now, with which I would banish the evil spirits, yet,
I repeat, that to attain it I need also ensured peace at home. Let us
reverse the old fairy-tale--I am an enchanted prince--will you be the
princess who loosens the unholy spell?"

Eva blushed deeply, and covered her face with her hands--the blue-bells
had fallen from her lap.

"Will you dedicate your whole life to me, that mine may open to new,
soft bloom beneath the light of your beautiful gentle eyes? Will you be
a true guardian to me, that I may never lose sight of the glorious goal
which I strive to reach? I know that I am asking much; you are to give
up to me a young pure life, while mine has been already furrowed and
torn by the wild streams of passion; but is it not an old question
whether love consists more of happiness than sacrifice?"

"A sacrifice," cried Eva, springing up suddenly; "a sacrifice, which is
the greatest happiness!"

"That word announces mine! Then you will adorn my life, my lovely
campanula? You will belong to me, my glorious Eva, my redeemer!"

"I will," said she, not whispering shamedly, but in a transport of
ecstacy; and he folded her in his arms and pressed the betrothal-kiss
upon her lips.

"Thus be my past life extinguished by this moment," cried Blanden. "I
feel as if, pursued by evil spirits, I entered the sanctuary of a
bright temple, and all the gods smiled me a welcome. Sacred be this
moment to us: the rustling trees, the parting orb of day be witness of
our betrothal!"

And again he folded Eva to his heart; she returned his caress amid
burning tears, by which the pent-up tumult of her passionate love found
relief for itself. Blanden felt too happy; again and again he listened
to the assurances of perfect love. They wandered some time longer by
the stream in the evening's light, then unconcernedly returned to the

This want of confusion was indeed ruinous to Eva's character. The
Kanzleiräthin explained to her daughter that she must break off her
intimacy with Eva, as it was positively astounding what liberties that
girl allowed herself. She had always seen that the Kalzow's bringing up
was a very sad one, but had not expected that it would bear such
ruinous fruits. Salomon suggested to his mother that they had not
merely been catching butterflies and gathering flowers, but that the
science of nature also possessed other interesting pages which could be
studied. Rath and Räthin Kalzow rejoiced silently at the favourable
course which this mutual fancy took; at the same time the Rath had some
misgivings which occasionally worried him, so that his coughing fits
overcame him.

"It is quite beautiful," said he, confidentially, several times to his
Miranda, "that Eva has conquered him; but who says then that his
intentions are serious? She is a poor, middle-class girl; he, a rich,
noble landowner, and even although, according to the universal law of
the country, nothing stands in the way of such a marriage, yet up to
the present time he has made no such declaration. The girl is beautiful
as her mother, my poor sister, was."

Miranda merely vouchsafed a contemptuous shrug of the shoulders in
reply to this eulogium.

"Yet beauty," continued the Rath, while setting his cravat to rights,
"may suffice for love, but not for marriage, and to one who has knocked
about in the world so much as Blanden, one adventure more or less does
not matter. In fact, Miranda, if we have allowed Eva to be talked about
again all for nothing, it would cause me sleepless nights."

Nor could Miranda either really suppress a few slight doubts; she
comforted herself, however, with the thought that Blanden would
probably remove these doubts himself.

Then the Kanzleiräthin, who had just taken a turn with the banker's
wife through the hazel bushes, holding a couple of nuts in her hand,
came running, almost breathlessly, across the meadow to the married

"What do I hear? Why, that is the same Blanden whose name was often
mentioned at the time when the seraphic community was talked of?
Surely, he was a member of it."

"The grass has grown over it long since," said the Regierungsrath,

"Besides, there are many Blandens in the province," added the Räthin.

"But all marks of recognition point to this one! I must say though,"
continued the Kanzleiräthin, triumphantly, after having cracked a hazel
nut with her seal-like protruding teeth, "that I should not like to
entrust my daughter to a pupil of those saints, not even for a walk in
the forest, because he might easily mistake it for Paradise."

And cracking the second hazel nut, she left the Kalzows with the joyful
conviction that she had caused them great trouble by this
communication. Indeed, the Regierungsrath was obliged to admit to
himself that this sect had caused evil misfortune enough in families;
he had occasionally heard Blanden's name mentioned at that time. But
his wife repeated, consolingly--

"You may safely believe it is not the same Blanden; it will be some
cousin of a collateral branch. It is only a piece of the Frau
Kanzleiräthin's spite, because no one notices her Minna, whom she
always plays out as an ace, without ever making a trick by it."

The family's anxiety was, however, augmented when Blanden announced
that he must visit his estates for a short period; would then, however,
return, and he hoped should still find them at the seaside. It would
have seemed like desecration of his feelings to confide his love just
yet to her parents; it was still quite impossible for him to connect
Eva in his thoughts with that undignified parental couple. What was
unavoidable should only be done when the betrothal ceremony could
follow immediately. But he must return home, because he had to present
himself to his electors as candidate. Eva parted from him with perfect,
joyful confidence, and when her mother hazarded a sceptical remark, she

"We will wait patiently; everything will turn out for the best."

And such a happy ray suffused her countenance, that Miranda said to her
husband, as she placed his cravats in a drawer--

"The girl is sure of her affair; she must have reason to be so."

The Rath chuckled significantly, and passed no sleepless night.

                              CHAPTER VII.

                            THE ORDENSBURG.

It was late at night when Blanden's carriage, with its steaming horses,
stopped before the castle door of Kulmitten.

The picture of the Holy Virgin, with the Child Christ in her arms,
gleamed high above the portal in the moonlight. The remains of an old
Ordensburg had been built into the castle, giving it an historically
venerable appearance. The emblem of the Knights of the German Order,
the cross with an eagle, was to be seen on all parts, and even greeted
the new comers from the portal. The old belfry, well-preserved with its
underground dungeons, rose upon a hill close to the shores of a large
lake, which, with the wide belt of woods that surrounded it, extended
far away in the moon's silvery light.

It would be easy to have imagined oneself in the solitude of primeval
forests, had not the old stronghold reminded one that this place was no
virgin soil, but that here the iron course of history had already held
its sway, and claimed the victims of bloody conflicts.

Doctor Kuhl, who would not be deprived of guiding the foaming team,
sprang down from the box, as he exclaimed--

"This seems to be quite an interesting old nest; why, surely the
conversion of heathenish Prussia is relinquished here! Else you must
begin with me."

Servants and steward had assembled in the castle's portal. Blanden had
hardly descended, before grey-headed Olkewicz, a Masure, whose cradle
had stood by the Lake Marggrabowa, assumed an important mien, so as to
deliver his report of the most recent events. But Blanden at once
perceived his faithful steward's intention, and arrested it--

"Not now, Olkewicz! it will be time enough to-morrow! The castle still
stands upon the same spot--and that is the principal thing. For the
rest, go to sleep children! It is late at night; only Friederich shall
stay up, and look after my guest and me."

Friederich lighted them through the vaulted hall; the pillars cast
shadows upon the stone flags of the floor, and upon the old castle's
strong walls. They ascended a stone staircase; the table was laid in
the dining-hall of the Order. It was a magnificent room; a granite
column in the middle supported the radiated arch. Faded glass paintings
were still visible in the windows. Blanden opened them; his gaze
wandered out over the wide lake.

"You must excuse me for a short time," said Kuhl. "I am a species of
Aquarius, and must greet my native element; I am impelled like the late
unhappy Melusine. I must away into the water!"

"Now, at midnight?" asked Blanden.

"Until I have had a dip in the lake, I cannot feel myself at home here.
See how it lures me with those glistening lights which play upon its
surface. There are probably no syrens in the lake; if there had been
any, they would most likely have died long ere this of _ennui_. Can one
not dive into it anywhere from a balcony or gallery?"

"That even at midnight would create great sensation."

"Well, then, I will go to the bushes on the banks."

Blanden sat at the windows of the dining-hall, lost in dreams; he
pondered how the old castle would gain new life. He asked himself what
impression the magnificent view over the wide lake and the tall woods,
most of which formed part of his possessions, would make upon Eva, when
she first sat here by his side?

Far away his friend splashed in the waves, and swam ever farther out
into the lake; a considerable time elapsed before he appeared at the
midnight repast. Then he was lighted to his room by the old servant,
who was himself dismissed to rest by Blanden.

The master of the castle was in a condition of strange excitement; he
could not sleep. He took the candle, and walked through all the
apartments to plan their future distribution, and to find out where Eva
would be most comfortable.

He first entered his library; it was a magnificent apartment, the
shelves, containing books, reached up to the ceiling. The newest poets
and authors of Germany, bearing well-known names, were not missing.
Blanden esteemed it to be his duty to buy their works--a duty towards
literature, which but few of his equals recognised.

In addition to these he also possessed all the newest foreign classics,
numberless political, historical and philosophical works. A division
that occupied one entire wall, was filled with works of travel of all
descriptions; on one spot he perceived a conspicuous gap; several
volumes were missing--who could have borrowed them?

A stuffed royal tiger, which he himself had killed on the coast of
Coromandel, stood before the shelves; beside it several stuffed Asiatic
birds, amongst them one of Paradise, whose splendid tail sparkled in
the light of the lamp which Blanden held in his hand.

Then he imagined that a small piece of paper was placed in the rare
bird's bill; it was no delusion, he seized the paper and read the
following words, traced upon it in unfamiliar handwriting--

"The bird of Paradise, according to the legends of Eastern nations, has
no feet; such a bird of Paradise is the happiness of love. It may not
take a firm foothold upon earth, else its sparkling brilliancy, its
Argus-eyed splendour, its Paradise will be lost to it."

Blanden was astonished. Who could have written these lines? How came
they hither? Was it a warning which met him just when he was about to
found a lasting happiness upon earth? Yet it was impossible--no one
even knew of it as yet.

He examined the other birds, and even at last the royal tiger, whether
they, perhaps, could belong to the race of speaking animals and were
supplied with significant notes; but all these creatures preserved
unoffending silence.

A lion's skin was extended as a rug before the library table, towards
which Blanden stepped, and whereon he perceived three open volumes were
lying; they were plainly those works of travel which were missing from
the shelf, writings upon Italy. The opened chapters treated of Lago
Maggiore; red roses lay between the pages.

Blanden almost started affrightedly at the spirit which, during his
absence, had bewitched his castle. Who could know of that secret
meeting on the Lago Maggiore?

The amber merchant, who pretended to have met him on the shores of that
lake once, rose to his mind. Yet, the red roses and the very pregnant
sentence could have no connection with that disagreeable companion.

Thoughtfully, Blanden examined the handwriting--it seemed to be that of
some woman.

His study adjoined the library. A number of letters had been
accumulated into a heap upon the writing-table. Blanden glanced hastily
at the caligraphy of the addresses, most of which indicated letters
containing business matters.

Beside them lay his album, its clasp stood open; he looked inside, and
on the last page read the following verse in the same handwriting--

                 "Oh, bliss is but a fleeting dream,
                  While lasting longing ling'ring stays;
                  Oh, wise betimes 'tis to resign,
                  And yet our souls with sadness teem,
                  For by the side of bounteous days
                  Long years of want are left behind."

Here, too, all signature was missing; yet, must he not now complete it?
Who but that mysterious beauty on the Lago Maggiore could have written
these lines? But how in the world could she come to this most remote
neighbourhood--and how inside this castle?

He should have liked best to have awoke the steward at once to obtain
information; painful impatience, which he could not subdue, had taken
possession of him. He went through the suite of freshly-furnished
rooms. The masons and upholsterers had just completed their task; the
newly-built wing of the castle was simply and comfortably arranged;
while not a sign of that haunting spectre allowed itself to be seen.

He visited the guest chambers; they were all in the most perfect order.
Only once Blanden started, as close by, in the night's silence, he
heard a peculiar noise. In his excitement he had quite forgotten his
guest; it was Doctor Kuhl, who, snoring loudly, slept the sleep of the

From the dining-hall, Blanden went to the chapel, which adjoined it.
The former belonged to the Ordensburg, and was still well preserved. A
portion of the glass paintings in the windows were dedicated to the
Holy Virgin, a portion to the deeds of the Knights of the Order. One
picture portrayed the latter's battle with the Poles; the Virgin
hovered above it amid light clouds.

Up several steps arose a small altar; behind it a picture, which
represented the elevation of Christ upon the cross. Upon the altar lay
another paper, with the words: "Remember the little fisherman's church
on Isola Bella!"

Now there was no longer any doubt; that Italian woman had appeared here
in the Baltic country, by the remotest lakes of Masuren. She had been
to his castle: was it ardent, longing, unconquerable passion, that had
urged her to follow him hither? She alone could know of that meeting in
the little fisherman's church.

The ghost had long since ceased to make an eerie impression upon
Blanden; but the enchanting days and nights that he had passed on the
Lago Maggiore, seemed to glow again in his soul; that intoxicating
perfume of the South, that beautiful woman's picture that had appeared
and vanished again so mysteriously, had bound his recollections as if
with some sweet spell.

He gazed out upon the lake. How cold and lifeless it seemed to him; the
moon sank behind the western woods; a chilly north wind had arisen in
the middle of the summer's night, and swept over the freezing waves!
How cold these scentless trees, in their immeasurable monotony!

Before his mind lay the glorious southern lake, in the magical light of
the moon, with its islands, that seemed to float upon its waves; one
island sent forth its orange perfumes to another; a delicious breeze
was wafted through the night.

The cold glaciers of the distant Alpine passes might gleam in the
moonlight on the horizon like steel-clad giants; they were only the
sentinels who guarded the gates of this Paradise; here all was warm,
enchanting life; shores and islands resounded with songs. It was
Armida's magic-garden; and how seductive was she herself--that Armida,
sparkling with soul and passion!

Blanden called himself to order; how unseemly these recollections
appeared to him just now; but despite violent efforts to ward them off,
they rose ever again and again.

Impatiently he awaited the morning; but just as the red dawn cast the
first pale gleam into the lake he had fallen asleep from over-fatigue,
and in the morning's tardy dreams he saw mysterious figures which
touched all the contents of his castle, so that a wondrous radiancy
streamed forth from them, and through all the rooms he followed a
closely-veiled figure, with a magnolia wreath in its hair.

It was late in the morning when he was awoke by Doctor Kuhl, who had
just come out of the lake.

Blanden believed he must have dreamed the evening before. In order to
convince himself that it was a real occurrence, he once more undertook
a tour through the apartments which on the previous evening had offered
him such enigmas.

The notes, the album-verses remained unchanged in the light of the
morning's sun, just as they had been in the lamp-light. Blanden
summoned his steward.

"Who has been here during my absence?"

"I wanted yesterday, _gnädiger_ Herr, to tell you," said old Olkewicz,
while assuming a reproachful manner, "but you would not allow me to

"Then tell me now!"

"It was a few evenings since that two ladies on horseback, with flowing
veils, stopped before the castle gate. Their visit was to you, they
said, and the one declared herself to be an old acquaintance of the
_gnädiger_ Herr; but it appeared to me that they knew quite well you
were not here; they begged for permission to see the castle. And as
even princes' castles are thrown open to visitors, and ours being a
very grand, renowned one, and does not disgrace us, I conducted them
round all the apartments; they expressed their admiration of the
dining-hall and the chapel, and the beautiful arrangement of the new
rooms, thanked me pleasantly, and mounted their horses once more, in
order to ride through the wood to the nearest little town. It had been
a sultry day; a heavy storm rose above the lake, a violent tempest
lashed the waves, before a quarter of an hour had elapsed since the
riders left the castle-yard. The trees in the woods crashed; the
birches and pines, blown down by the wind, can still give you a token
of the hurricane's violence. I became anxious about the ladies, but it
was not long before they dashed into the court again, and prayed for
hospitable shelter until the storm should be appeased. Your honour will
deem it right that I did not refuse them this shelter."

"Certainly, old Olkewicz, we are, indeed, no barbarians."

"The storm discharged itself with fearful fury, and it remained hanging
above the trees, and stood firmly in the sky for a long time. And by
the time it passed away, night had set in. What remained to me, but to
extend the hospitality still farther? The _gnädiger_ Herr was not at
home; I could then, without hesitation, grant the ladies a night's
quarters without the _gnädiger_ Herr's character--"

"Do not be troubled about that, it is weather-proof!"

"But it is incredible what disturbance a couple of female beings cause
in the best regulated establishment. I believe if a woman came into
this house, all would be topsy-turvy."

"We will wait and see, old man! But what more happened?"

"I could not sleep! A couple of strange people thus in the house--just
as if one's eyes are full of dust; one has no peace! For a long time I
sat under the old oak in the park and watched how the lights went from
one room to another, like will-o'-the-wisps, and when they actually
shone out of the old chapel's glass windows an eerie sensation overcame
me, and I thought of the ghosts that dwell in such old churches. Why in
the world should they pry about? Did they seek something? I should have
liked to ask them; but it would hardly have been proper, they had
already bid me 'good-night,' and probably hung their riding dresses
upon the chairs. At last it became dark; only the moonlight, which came
forth from the dispersing stormy clouds, was reflected upon all the

"I decided to retire to rest also," old Olkewicz continued his
relation, "and made only one more round of the castle. There--God
punish me!--stood a white form with unbound hair, above upon the
gallery of the tower, and gleamed as brightly as if she had intercepted
the whole moonlight. I did not stir! She stood a long--long time--and
stared out at the lake, her arms crossed, and then, again, as if
musing, she rested her head upon her arm, and it upon the balustrade.
She must have been visible a long, long way off, and if all had not
been still as death upon the lake the sailors must have been frightened
at the ghost high up upon the tower."

"Then this lake, too, has found its Lorelei," said Blanden, softly to

"Early on the following morning both disappeared, after cordial thanks
and considerable gifts; I felt quite comfortable again, as though we
had been released from some haunting spirit."

"And how did these ladies look?"

"Well, the ghostly apparition upon the tower was worth seeing; she
looked like a queen; her carriage was commanding, her voice had a
beautiful ring. Whether brown or blonde, I did not study her so
accurately; all colours seemed to me to play about her, she confused me
so, after I had seen her up there as a spirit. The other was little,
and had nothing at all ghost-like about her. She seemed to be an
attendant; she resembled our housemaid, Bertha; she had a pair of small
blinking eyes, and something sly about her whole person."

"It is possible that it was some spirit that sought me out," said
Blanden to himself.

"If your _gnädiger_ is convinced of it," replied Olkewicz, "I shall not
contradict it at all! at least in our neighbourhood there is no sort of
woman-kind that could ever so remotely resemble that lady."

"Say nothing concerning this visit," said Blanden, "and desire my
people also to maintain silence about it. Enough thereof. To-day,
wines, provisions and delicacies will arrive from Königsberg, whence I
have ordered them. Make all, preparations for a large dinner that I
intend to give. Keep the Castle clean, get the guest's stables into

"About the harvest, _gnädiger_ Herr--"

"Agricultural matters another time! Whether the harvest be good or bad
we cannot alter it. Rain and sunshine do their best--even although we
have visited ever so many agricultural colleges."

Old Olkewicz held quite opposite views, and was least of all satisfied
that the young master had done away with the rule of the rod which
formerly was in vogue here; his theory was based upon the great
principle that, in order to garner good corn, the people must first be
more threshed than the corn afterwards; yet he ventured upon no

Kuhl had listened silently to the discussion. "Then here we sit in an
enchanted castle," cried he, "and adventures seek you!"

"I must confess to you," said Blanden, "that I know no solution of this
enigma. Certainly I entertain no doubt that it is yonder mysterious
beauty who made me look upon Lago Maggiore in a doubly entrancing
light; but how she found her way to the most remote of Masuren's lakes
is inexplicable to me; and if no other feeling, curiosity at least
urges me most pressingly to interest myself in her again."

"And may a poor mortal, then, whose path such charming adventures do
not cross, not learn what the circumstances of the case are?"

"That you shall--and on this evening. I feel a need myself to bring
those days once more before my mind. Yet to do so I need leisure and
quiet, which the day's bustle will not permit. Look, there comes Wegen
in his one-horse trap, he brings us news how matters look amongst the

His lively friend came in briskly and eagerly, a cigar in his mouth.

"These wind-falls in your forest--colossal! Trees lie about like
toothpicks which have fallen out of an overturned case. The storm has
even played havoc with an old oak yonder upon the dam, and hurled its
head to the ground, as my Friederich does the plume of feathers on his
hat, when I decline some entertainment; but how are you going on?"

"Blanden has had wonderful dreams," said Kuhl.

"Nothing new, nothing new," replied Wegen, stroking his moustache,
"that occurs nightly with me. Friederich says it arises from the grey
peas which I am passionately fond of eating in an evening; a man feels
like an East Prussian when he sees such a dish before him. Lately I
dreamed I was man[oe]uvring with the Landwehr; I had to lead a company
of sharpshooters. The signal sounds; my company stands like a wall; I
rush furiously upon it; the fellows stick together and I cannot tear
them asunder, give myself what trouble I may. The colonel rides
up--'Thunder and lightning! Wegen, what are you doing?' and I awake
bathed in perspiration! Horrible dreams! But even waking one does not
meet with anything pleasant."

"What has happened, then?" asked Blanden.

"Well, Schön has fallen into disgrace; he relinquishes his post; the
enemies of the constitution in Berlin bear away the victory."

"They do not want a constitutional State," interrupted Kuhl, "and even
if you did carry it through, it would only be the semblance. The
State's machinery would become rather more complicated and expensive,
and that is not desired; beyond that, they know quite well, that little
else in the matter will be altered. What could otherwise be set in
motion with one shove, would then require several handles and winches,
in order to let a noisy parliamentary machinery play; majorities are
needed, and when things are needed, there they are too; more
intelligent ministers are required--that is all! At present their
signatures impose upon people, then their personal qualities must do
so; but if you think that anything else will ever be carried out than
what the Government chooses, it is a great mistake. Much dust will be
raised, then those who would fain be great in Parliament would come and
cry, 'I have raised all that dust,' like the fly in the fable. The car
of the State, however, would roll on its way amidst the dust, and in
that direction too, in which it is guided. _Timeo Danaos et dona
ferentes!_ A constitution would be a Danaîdes gift to Prussia!"

"No," replied Blanden, "that which Schön and others of the same mind
have been preparing for a long time, will only prove beneficial for
this country when it gains life. That is my firm conviction; free
constitutional forms would bring another spirit into the people. While
we who demand a constitution are now deemed to be rebels, a time will
come, when the most zealous bureaucrats will look upon such an
organisation as the most natural, and will not comprehend how any one
could ever doubt it, or rather have quite forgotten that the courage
and zeal of the East Prussian communities first unfurled this banner.
But the obstinate refusal of the Government in Berlin fills me with
joyful courage for the fight. How does it stand with my guests, Wegen?
Have you seen about my invitations?"

"Well," said Wegen, as he stroked his moustache, much satisfied, "I
have managed my affair well; they are all coming, all. Some out of
politeness, others from motives of political zeal and a sense of duty,
as they would know, of course, what a candidate for election has to say
to them; many from curiosity, to become acquainted with the Ordensburg.
They did not find you at home on their return visits; in short, you
will have a perfect rainbow of political colours at your table;
naturally all the others very pale, the liberal red outshining them.
But, my dear friend, I have still to go to the district town. The
Landrath is from home for a few days; he returns to-morrow, and will
not be missing from your dinner; the Chief Deputy of the district has
gout, so I must represent him. Look at me; to-day you see in me the
Father of the district; do you not perceive the dignity of my
demeanour? Even a couple of legal document wrinkles have put in their
appearance! But I find nothing prepared for my reception. I do not mean
wooden, triumphal arches, nor unattractive maidens clad in white, but
something palatable--an enjoyable breakfast."

Blanden took care that a breakfast should be served, by which Wegen did
his duty bravely, and then conducted his friend, at the latter's
desire, to the stables. They were splendid places; Blanden had been as
careful that horses of the finest race should fill his stalls, as he
had been in devoting the most anxious attention to the neglected breed
of sheep in East Prussia. He showed this living inventory, not without
contented pride, and Wegen, in his good nature, went so far as to
indulge this little weakness of his friend, and to let himself be led
again and again into the agricultural sanctum, although he already knew
every horse's head so accurately that he could have sketched it, and
had sorted the wool of each single sheep on its body.

Then together they looked at the new buildings which Wegen had
especially superintended, because Blanden, from horror of the masons'
noise, had taken flight.

"The guest-chambers have been carried out according to your plans,"
said Wegen, "but I permitted myself to have them ornamented with a few
elegant additions. It is too cruel the way guests are treated in most
houses; one is shoved into a bare room, a sort of guard room, in any
corner of the house, like an old travelling trunk or carpet-bag. These
elegant canopied beds and carpets, the toilet-table furnished with
everything that Parisian genius has invented; even upon the chest of
drawers, work materials with needles, upon the little tables beside the
beds, the newest German and French novels for reading before going to
sleep, are my idea. Certainly it costs a fearful sum, and in addition
of your money; but you will be satisfied with it, as Kulmitten will be
a radiant example for all East Prussia, and what is done for
civilisation is never lost."

Blanden nodded pleasantly and approvingly to his friend, who was
chatting in the brightest wine-inspired mood, and then accompanied him
to his carriage, in which he drove away to occupy the proud place upon
the _sella curulis_ of a Prussian Landrath.

As the evening's twilight had crept in, Blanden with Doctor Kuhl sat
upon the balcony of the castle, looking over the lake. It was a cool
summer evening; heavy leaden clouds lay above the lake, and the tall
oak trees which shut in its broad mirror--there must have been thunder
in the distance; the remains of stormy clouds were thrown up one above
another, like charred logs of wood, and a freezing blast swept over the
lonely lake. The lamps beside which Blanden and his friend sat,
trembled in the soft sway of the evening breeze; the whole effect of
the landscape had something mournfully wearisome, disconsolately
monotonous; behind it again lay woods and lakes, lakes and woods; the
course of cultivation had hardly touched these districts; the life of
the people, the life of individuals pointed to but few memories in
these forsaken places. Before Blanden's mind arose, with double charm,
the picture of that Italian landscape, where in one paradise of nature,
taste and cultivation create themselves enchanting asylums, where every
foot's breadth of land stirs up fascinating recollections, and has been
overcome by civilisation, where the great pilgrim train of strangers
brings the culture of Europe in ever changing forms.

Under the influence of this mood, he began to relate his adventure on
Lago Maggiore to his friend.

                             CHAPTER VIII.

                           ON LAGO MAGGIORE.

"Any one who reads one of those older Italian romances, feels himself
irresistibly attracted by the free breath of adventure which pervades
it; I know, indeed, that in our respectable society where every one
carries his passport in his pocket book, this adventuresomeness cannot
find a place; it is proscribed, and I do not see either how it can be
otherwise in our condition as citizens.

"All the same, it meets the untrammelled wanderer here and there; it
wears a mask before its face, but it gazes fiercely and seductively
through that mask.

"I have often meditated as to wherein the charm of those fleeting
meetings consists, which in no case lay claim to any endurance; it is
the charm of freedom and want of fetters. There is something oppressive
to the mind in this consciousness of durability, in order to reconcile
oneself to it deeper reflections are needed about the necessity that
fetters man's life, and the pride of a sense of duty reconciles us to
the constraint of the unalterable.

"But adventure arouses affections and feelings, and touches strings,
which are sure to exist in human nature; never does the blood flow more
lightly and freely through our veins; never does our mental life
develop more ozone than in these tempests of passion, quickly as they
pass away again in the sky. Also, if that enduring bond and that
nobility of feeling is wanting, which only true love of the soul is
capable of giving, yet something remains that ennobles the fleeting
transport of passion, the rapture about beauty which is so closely
united to love, but which has paled and must be repudiated in our

"But where do these homes of adventure lie more than in the masked land
of Italy? Are we not thrilled with those spirits of revelry which in
the Venetian Carnival of that glorious _maestro_ spring and dance upon
the strings, and seem to be beside themselves in wild exhilaration?

"Here upon the Rialto, there upon the market place, mysterious glances
beckon to us, seductive pressure of the hand invites us. This is a
proud beauty of the people, who at other times wears the _fazzoletto_,
that is a lady of position who seeks a _cicisbeo_. And upon the Roman
Corso, when the long row of carriages drives down the street, we stand
upon the carriage step and a delicate hand presses a bouquet into ours.
Here adventure has risen and increased until it became crime, and gazed
ominously and fatally at us out of the soft eyes of a Lucrezia Borgia
and a Beatrice Cenci.

"But what heaven also in the land of Boccaccio, what rapture in the
air, what charm in the aroma of the perfumes, which are set free by the
day's glowing sun, which the evening's breeze wafts over the meadows,
above the marble floors in the villas and in their sleeping chambers!
There one must be a pedant, like the man from Arpinum, to think and to
write of duty in a Tusculum; we other men follow Horace's example,
wreath our heads with roses, take a wine bowl in our hands, and a
beautiful Lydia in our arms.

"Enjoy the moment! Thus preaches Hesperia, and he who wreathes himself
with its wildly growing myrtles does not remember the myrtle of German
hot-houses, with which the bride adorns herself for life. I know
Florence, that city of flowers, Rome the city of ruins; noisy Naples,
where the tide of men, and the beating of the ocean's waves blend their
roar, and whose single cyclopean eye is fire-belching Vesuvius. Yet
nowhere did I feel so much at home as on the upper Italian lakes; and
in spite of all the charms of Lago di Como, that splendid divided
radiant mirror, which is most beautiful at that point whence one can
overlook both its separate arms of water which twine themselves around
the villa-clad heights; despite the loveliness of Lago di Garda, and
its northerly port, above all others I have enshrined Lago Maggiore in
my heart and spent two years of my life upon its shores. I know all the
Swiss and Italian towns on its borders; but I lingered most fondly in
Stresa, because from it a quick passage by boat bore me to the jewels
of the lake, the Boromean islands.

"It was one beautiful summer's evening that I stood upon the topmost
terrace of the Isola Bella; the lake glistened in the evening's crimson
splendour; varied lights danced in the winding cypress walks, in the
concealed shell-grottoes, and played upon the statues and obelisks of
the uppermost terrace. The sister isles, the towns on the shores, the
vine-surrounded villa-clad hills lay on the opposite side in a softer
sheen. Sasso Ferrato, with its rocky walls, rose up defiantly in the
lake; as if bathed in a red-hot glow, stood the ice-armour of the snowy
peaks which guard the Alpine passes, which here lead down to the lake
of Geneva, yonder to that of the four Cantons. Picturesquely the fiery
red of the sinking sun contrasted with the glorious green of the Lago.

"How often people have blamed the _baroque_ taste, the green _roccoco_
of this Isola Bella! And yet, why should one not place a jewel in a
brilliant artistic setting? This Isola Bella is the most beautiful
belvidere on the lake; why should that belvidere not be splendidly
decorated? The art which is lavished upon that small spot of earth does
not detract from that vast nature which encloses it with her gigantic
Alps! And then there is something soothing in these hiding places
amongst the trees, these shell-grottoes--they invite one to quiet talk,
to silent happiness; and how full is the heart, when the magic of this
glorious nature, these evening lights, those perfumes flowing from a
hundred flower calex--the whole of that fervidly-breathing life has
inspired us!

"As I stood upon the terrace, lost in dreams, two ladies appeared,
accompanied by a servant in livery, who remained standing close beneath
the unicorn, the arms of the Boromei; they were both tall slender
figures of distinguished appearance. I bowed politely and addressed
them; one was able to speak German, and the circumstance that we could
thus converse without being understood by her companion, soon gave us
the semblance of a certain intimacy; her whole manner was animated; she
treated every subject of conversation with great vivacity, she
expressed the most supreme admiration for the beauties of the scenery,
in doing which, however, she preferred to employ Italian exclamations
and expressions, and Tasso's language sounded so mellow, so mellifluous
from her lips that I listened with silent satisfaction to that melody
as if to an artistic treat.

"I looked more closely at her; she was a beautiful woman. The nobility
of her features was in harmony with that magnificent form; the
sculptors' and painters' ideals in the Academy and Pitti Palace of the
city of flowers seemed to have gained life in her. Everything within me
cried: that is beauty, such as is fitting for this enchanted garden;
thus must the queen of these isles, these waves have been! And it
appeared to me as if the evening's crimson, which flowed down the tall
figure, and then glided into the waves, was a glorifying effulgence
shed forth from her. She dazzled and enchained me; I also soon remarked
that her words, looks, countenance, told of the perfect sympathy with
which I inspired her.

"The other lady was distant and reserved; her demeanour was that of a
proud princess. As she took her departure, she dismissed me as it were
with a slight bow; but in her companion's eyes I read something like
the hope of meeting again.

"I would not disappoint this hope, and daily, at sunset, found myself
on the terrace of Isola Bella. Two evenings I waited in vain; but how
great was my joyful surprise when, on the third evening, I met her,
and, indeed, quite alone. I welcomed her with a heartfelt and warmly
returned pressure of the hand.

"'My friend has left,' said she, soon after the first exchange of
greetings; I learned that she now lived quite by herself in a villa at
Stresa. Our conversation became lively, but it avoided everything
personal. She knew Germany and German affairs, but her enthusiasm was
all for beautiful Italy, where Art and Nature both disclose themselves
in such enrapturing beauty. We spoke of poets, painters, theatres and
music. The sun had disappeared behind the hills; only its reflection
still hung upon the rosy-tinted western clouds, but to-day the scene on
the terrace was peculiarly animated. Countless miladies, with red
guide-books, and guttural-voiced milords succeeded one another; they
cast a few cursory glances at the lake, convinced themselves that all
the guaranteed items of its decorations stood on their proper places,
as they are described in books--here, the Isola Madre and del
Pescatore, there the Sasso Ferrato, here Stresa, yonder Pallanza--and
finally took leave with an expression of perfect satisfaction. Then
came a few noisy Frenchmen and women, who uttered their delight on
finding a morsel of Versailles in this Italian water-basin, and then
sought the laurel tree in which Napoleon had cut the word '_battaglia_'
before the battle of Marengo.

"It was a restless coming and going! As if in silent accord, we turned
our steps towards the lonely shaded walks of the evergreen island,
beneath the pines and cypresses, laurels and camellia trees. We did not
talk much; often we walked silently side by side. The dusk of evening
and of the green leaves seemed to hold us chained in some sweet spell.
When we spoke, we spoke of that which was nearest to us, which stirred
our feelings, of Nature's charms and the splendour of the manifold
southern plants which were assembled there like a green court-dress for
the old Palazzos; nor were the northern fir trees wanting, and I
remarked that they reminded me of my home. Yet she asked no more about
it. It was like a secret understanding between us not to disturb our
mutual _incognito_, and thus even to envelop the circumstances of our
lives in the same charm of twilight as that which hovered over the
enchanted island.

"We descended the steps of the palazzo to the shore; an elegant
gondola, with a gondolier in livery, was awaiting them.

"'May I invite you,' asked she, 'to accompany me in my bark as far as

"I accepted this invitation with pleasure.

"The moon had risen; the mountains' shadows floated in the silvery
waves. The skiff drew a broad furrow in the molten silver that seemed
to drip from the oars; the pines by the villas on the shore intercepted
the moonlight with their broad fans. Like a sparkling plateau the
glaciers of the Simplon Pass gleamed above a little cloud.

"How many magnificent villas shone beneath intensely dark, silvered
green on the shores! Which was hers? I did not venture to ask, and she
did not point to the spot on which she had taken up her abode.

"We stand under so many influences of culture, that not only our
thoughts, but also our feelings, are regulated by it. That which great
poets have described, bears for us the significance of personal
experience; it is just as vivid in our imagination. Shakespeare's
characters, which he received from Italian novels, stood before my
fancy. Not a Julia was my companion, but she reminded me much of
Portia; was not this the same moonlight glamour that hovered around
the Belmont Villa? She possessed the figure and demeanour of a
much-courted, aristocratic lady, the spirit and fervour of that
enterprising rich heiress: where was her Villa Belmont? In her
presence, I stood beneath the magic spell of Shakespearean poetry.

"At Stresa, I went on shore; her skiff was rowed still farther on. She
vanished like a beautiful dream in the twilight of the moon's
illumination that in the shrubs on the shore mingled with the shadowed
mirror of the waters.

"For three evenings in succession I returned to the Isola Bella, and on
each evening I found the mysterious beauty there. This adventure had
gay shimmering butterfly's wings; I could not brush the coloured down
from them. Naturally, liking and intimacy grew out of this constant
intercourse; I hazarded bolder expression of the same. I praised her as
my Armida, who held me within her spell; I praised the greater bliss
that Rinaldo had enjoyed. She did not turn aside; she looked at me with
her luminous eyes, as though she would read deeply in my soul. Then she
sighed, plucked a camellia which bloomed beside us, and pulled it
musingly to pieces.

"As we traversed the little fishing harbour of the island, in order to
enter our gondola for the homeward journey, we perceived that a heavy
storm was coming toward us from the Simplon, and with increasing
rapidity was darkening the lake. Its billows surged uneasily, and the
forks of lightning broke in the disturbed mirror of the waves. The
return passage was impossible; where should we wait until the storm was

"'I know a comfortable place of refuge,' said she; 'here, the little
fisherman's chapel. It is, as a rule, lifeless and deserted; the
fishermen only pray there when they go out to fish. It is the Madonna
of eels and salmon-trout who protects that sanctuary.'

"We entered the little church; all was still and pleasant there.
Outside the tempest raged, and the thunder rolled with such might that
the building rocked on its foundations.

"Italian churches are accustomed to be used as asylums of love.
Protestant churches would be desecrated by every love which does not
come before the altar; the Madonna's eye rests without anger upon the
bliss of lovers exchanging vows.

"Indeed, it was only a delusion of my senses when I believed she cast
an angry glance upon me, while I held my beautiful companion firmly,
and pressed a fervid kiss upon her lips; it was only a sudden flash of
lightning that quivered over the altar-picture.

"The glorious woman whom I encircled with my arms, was just as little
wrath as the Madonna.

"And yet--is it not temerity of the man who only ventures to offer to
the woman transient love? Has she not the right to a love that shall
fill his whole life? May he without awe, without the fear of
conscience, touch this holy thing?

"I was intoxicated by the moment; I did not think of the future. I
accepted nothing, I declined nothing, but the _gens d'arme_ who dwells
in our bosom, to whom I had not listened for so long, asserted himself.
I felt, in spite of all, in the presence of those fiery kisses,
something of a subject's duty. I mentioned my name, position and place
of habitation.

"But she laid her hand, as if imploringly, upon my lips--

"'Not these confessions, which I shall not, cannot return; shall we,
then, frighten away the present beautiful dream? The witchery of
happiness lies in mystery. You must never learn my name! Give me your
word never to try to discover it.'

"I promised; but demanded urgently that her whole heart should be mine.
She looked wondrously beautiful in the darkened chapel, when a ray of
lightning, illumining her fine features, seemed to trace her figure in
dazzling outlines in the twilight.

"'I only remain here three more days; then I disappear for ever--'from
you also.'

"'Three days--well, but three days of perfect happiness may atone for
everlasting separation. Three days--but they must be three days that
can never be forgotten. Let us not think of the cold duty that
constrains us to part, let us but remember that three days are still
before us--yet I do not even know your name!'

"'Call me Giulia; it is one of the names that I bear.'

"In crash upon crash the storm discharged itself above us; more
tempestuous became my vows. She bent towards me, whispering--

"'Men think but lightly of a heart that is quickly won, and are ever
ready to repay fond love with forgetfulness and contempt.'

"I protested that that would never be the case with me.

"'And I asseverate that my heart never yet was weak enough to cherish a
love which could have no hope of being a part of my life. I have
struggled against love in sleepless nights, but it seemed to me as if
the genius of my life rose up erectly and distinctly before me, and
said--'If into your poor ruined life a sunny ray of happiness should
fall, oh, then, open all your windows to it! And if it be only a short
gleam of light that soon passes away, yet it will remain in your soul,
full of consolation for the gloom into which the coming night plunges
you. If misfortune be solemnly decreed to you by heaven and earth, if
it hold you in an indissoluble spell, oh, then have courage to grasp
happiness yourself; grasp that which heaven and earth would deny you.
But intense love is bliss, bliss unutterable; its intensity is not
measured by its lastingness--the moment is its watchword. In your arms,
from your kisses I have felt what, until now, life could never give me;
what only as the dream of the supreme was quickened in my soul. To
every human being is granted one supreme moment--once birth and
death--once the bliss of perfect love!"

"'My Giulia!' cried I, deeply stirred by her fervour.

"'Never, never can I be yours!' cried she, 'but we will meet again to
say farewell! I live in the Princess Dolgia's villa! This evening come
to the pavilion; here is the garden key. No one will see you; at that
hour all is deserted, the Princess herself is from home; only few
servants are left at the villa.'

"I kissed her lips and hands in wild devotion.

"The tempest, meanwhile, had receded farther down the lake; the moon
stood amid the broken clouds, which raced in wild career around the
summits of the Alps. Our bark glided softly over the now bright, now
dark waves. This time Giulia showed me her villa. It was a splendid
building, buried amongst flowers; it shone brightly in the moonlight.

"'There, on the left, is the pavilion,' said Giulia, as she designated
a Turkish kiosque. Laurels and myrtles surrounded it; a red fir, also,
from the far north, lent its shade.

"As we stepped on land, a man came out of the bushes on the shore,
close to Giulia. I could not recognise his features; they were half
enveloped in a kerchief.

"Annoyed at this obtrusion, I was about to send him away, but she
restrained my interference with a slight movement of the hand. He spoke
vehemently to her in Italian, but, in an to me, incomprehensible
dialect. His gestures were somewhat menacing, so that I held myself in
readiness to come to the assistance of my beloved one; but he withdrew
quietly, apparently satisfied with Giulia's replies.

"She looked pale as she held out her hand, bidding me farewell for a
short time.

"All my spirits were in a state of ebullition. I ascended the heights
behind Stresa. I was impelled along a pathless course through vineyards
and chestnut groves; the sky was again overcast. Gloomily lay the
surface of the lake, but it was as though, beneath the covering of
clouds, a hotter breath brooded over the earth.

"I inhaled deep draughts of the burning air of that voluptuous
nature--my pulses were at fever height.

"At the same time I was possessed with a sick dread of losing the key,
and every moment I felt if it were still in my pocket.

"The evening hour struck from the church tower of the little town on
the shore. For half-an-hour already I had been wandering round the
villa, in which no lights were shining.

"The marble balustrades and pillars gazed gloomily into the cloudy
night, but the air was perfumed with a hundred invisible flowers.

"Then something like a will-o'-the-wisp quivered in the pavilion! a
little lamp illuminated the branches of the red fir-tree which kept
guard before it. I opened the garden door and entered the leafy walks.

"She was waiting for me at the entrance of the dainty little round
building. Mats covered the floor; ottomans with soft cushions were
spread round the walls, which higher up were wreathed with garlands of

"The air wafted an exquisite perfume inside and through the open

"She appeared more beautiful to me than ever; she was a night-flower,
created for night and moonlight. Her complexion was of that
_morbidezza_ of the Venetian women, which lends them such a melancholy
charm; and by day, too, she wore her hair in the artistic manner of the
Venetians, plaited at the side, behind a daintily-coiled head-dress.
But now it flowed in dark abundance over the yellow shimmering moiré
dress. She received me sadly: was not the coming parting hovering over
our bliss of the present moment as restless foreboding hovers over
every happiness?

"I have often read in books written by those who are learned in art,
that all beauty is a self-sufficing copy of the eternal idea, whose
enjoyment alone can grant harmonious contentment, that its reign ceases
when the will's emotion desecrates its impalpable glory.

"It is heresy to think otherwise about it, and yet I do think
otherwise. Even that people of god-like beauty, the Hellenes, thought
otherwise, else they would never have invented the legend of Pygmalion:
that is the solution of the enigma--beauty which does not only satisfy
the ideal senses, which overpowers the whole man, so that without
volition he is seized by its magic power.

"Amongst the Lemures of the East Prussian exorcists, woman, in her
magical power, had first crossed my path; and that spirit of adoration
which so long had held me in its bondage, was vanquished for evermore.

"Here, beneath Italy's laurels and myrtles, I was Pygmalion; but it was
no cold marble that I folded in my arms. Was I ever a poet, I was one
then; hymns of rapture flowed through my soul.

"For three evenings I was permitted to visit her; on the third the full
moon stood above the red fir tree. The cracking of its branches in the
night wind reminded me of my distant home.

"We wandered silently in the garden, forgetful of time--of
everything--but that the oppression of the parting hour weighed upon
us. She must go; she repeated it; I did not ask her why--I asked
nothing. I still stood beneath the whole magic of her presence. Morning
dawned at last, and released the dark masses of the groups of trees
from the darkness with which they had been blended.

"It was a morning full of mournful sadness; tears hung on Giulia's long

"'Let your thoughts return to these days, these happy days, as to a
fairy-tale--for me they were more, far more! They have quite effaced
all the rest of my life; and yet I must return to joyless gloom. I
must--and, therefore--farewell!'

"One more burning kiss, one last embrace; I felt her tears upon my
cheeks; her locks flowed over me like a tide of endless pain--we

"After the little garden door was shut, something rustled near me
amongst the shrubs, beneath the chestnuts; as I went farther on, I
perceived a figure creeping behind me, which reminded me of that
singular stranger who had already once played the spy upon us on the
shore; however, I did not trouble myself about him, but went to my
hotel, without again looking behind me.

"I kept my promise faithfully not to enquire about this queen of the
night who had bloomed for me in such enrapturing splendour on the banks
of that magic lake; held to it so faithfully that for a long time I
avoided asking myself who that mysterious beauty could be?

"There is a heart's shrine for relics which one may not touch without
destroying the charm that clings to those sacred recollections--the
lotos-flower, which is the cradle of a god no hand may touch.

"Never to be forgotten are the days and nights on the shores of that
beautiful lake. I have seen lakes in the highlands of Mongolia, amongst
the mountain-giants of Thibet; but all these pictures were effaced
beside the burning outlines in which the Lago Maggiore printed itself
upon my soul.

"All the same in later times I often surprised myself in reprehensible
curiosity; who was this Lady of the Lake? Her highly-bred manner told
that she was a lady of distinction--an equal of her friend, that
princess, in whose society I had first seen her. But the fetter that
bound her? Was it the bond of matrimony, for which, however, in Italy,
in the most aristocratic circles, the _cicisbeat_ offers a
compensation, rendered sacred by custom!

"I thought of the Countess Guiccioli, Byron's beautiful beloved--she
did not conceal her happiness from her husband--and tie used to drive
his favoured rival out in Ravenna, in his carriage and six--yes, the
former rented quarters in the Count's castle.

"The secret that my Giulia preserved so fearfully must be of another
kind. Perhaps she was being persecuted--politically persecuted; there
are highly-born women enough in Italy, who stand upon the list of the
proscribed; and if she never spoke of politics it was, perhaps, in
order to avert all such thoughts from me. In this way, too, it would be
easiest to explain the appearance of that obnoxious stranger, who
surely was a subordinate agent of her political party.

"Certainly, I always asked myself again and again, whether love which
withholds every confession excepting that of its own existence, which
veils everything excepting its own intensity, is not an error? Love
requires the whole man to be pledged, and may not appear with a mask,
such as the Parisian ladies of simplicity carry before their faces.
Otherwise it is but an adventure, and as an entrancing adventure I
preserve that meeting in my memory; but I am weary of adventures, they
have seduced me long enough, rendered my life disturbed and unsteady;
precipitated my soul from one intoxication into another, but at last,
after all, only left internal desolation behind.

"And now this mysterious Giulia appears suddenly here, in my castle.
Has she given up her secret--does a duty no longer bind her to maintain
it? Has a turning-point in the circumstances of her life been attained?
What brings her hither?--only love for me? My name, my place of abode,
she knew--she has noted it better than I believed, as she seemed too
indifferent to listen to it; but what does she seek here--what can she
bring me but disappointment? The glamour of the magic-lantern is burned
down; here are no evergreen islands, no myrtles and laurels--and a
Venus Aphrodite would shiver with cold, if she had to rise out of these
chilly waters.

"To all these questions, which shall no longer disquiet me, I have the
answer ready--my betrothal to Eva Kalzow--and this I will hasten, in
order to oppose a decided fact as a defence against the adventure which
seeks me here. I have broken with my past, and I will not that what is
past should interfere any longer with my present life."

Blanden had finished his recital; Doctor Kuhl, who had listened
attentively, let the cigar in his hand die slowly out, as, after a
rather long silence, he began to hum a popular air.

"And you say absolutely nothing?" Blanden enquired of his friend.

"I think," replied Kuhl, "a _principessa_ always remains a
_principessa_--a Venus a Venus--in the North as in the South; I should
have her turned out at the first opportunity, by your friend the
Landrath, if she let herself be seen again in this district. She is a
sort of beautiful pagan goddess--a sort of Bride of Corinth--and these
ghosts are dangerous, especially for brides who are not so very
distant, and whom the clergyman shall bless. But it has become late!
One more dip in the sea, and then I will dream of your marble bride!"

                              CHAPTER IX.

                          AN ELECTION DINNER.

The Ordensburg Kulmitten had donned a festive garb; its portal was
garlanded with flowers, the servants appeared in livery, and the
Jäger's plume of feathers especially attracted the hall-boys' and
dairy-maids' attention when he showed himself in the doorway.

Towards noon the carriages containing the guests arrived. Wegen was the
first; he had decorated himself with the cross of the Order of St.
John, which also adorned Blanden's breast.

Wegen immediately rushed about like a whirlwind over the whole house!
even the cook in the kitchen had to doff his white cap to him. There he
was a person to be respected; he knew many secrets of the culinary art,
and conversed with the cook like one who understood the dishes whose
names stood upon the _menus_, and also those which ought to have stood
there. Then he went with Olkewicz into the wine-cellar, and had bottles
with the most divers labels upon them marshalled upstairs, like
regiments before a battle.

"This is no ordinary dinner, good Olkewicz," said he, while deciding
upon the order of battle. "To-day we aim at gaining votes, and for that
purpose these here are our best coadjutors. Here sherry and Madeira,
which put people into a good humour, so that they become most
susceptible of farther enjoyments; there good claret--people thaw,
conversation begins, the political arena is opened; opposite opinions
greet one another politely, like combatants with their rapiers. There
delicious Rhenish wine, Metternich'scher Johannisberger, flowers of the
reaction; things become more lively already; the debate grows animated,
sympathies find one another out, those of the same opinions shake hands
together, opponents exchange fiery glances, and fight hand-to-hand.
Political pulses beat high. Then comes Widow Cliquot, and, by magic,
sheds a rosy light all around her; a conciliatory spirit prevails;
people only feel that they are patriots, citizens of the Prussian
Fatherland; even enemies now shake hands.

"That is the moment; when the reserve champagne bottles are uncorked,
then must Blanden, too, overflow, with a right delicious, foaming,
sparkling speech; then all goes merrily; enthusiastic consent; chairs
are pushed aside; the election is ensured, and a few glasses of Tokay
guard against any weak termination of the meeting. Well, then, here
stand our auxiliaries--a gay army, with all possible caps--and in any
case very numerous; that is the principal thing!

"On that point I agree with Napoleon--victories only are gained by
numerical preponderance."

When Wegen returned to the reception room from the kitchen and cellar,
he found that as yet Herman, of Gutsköhnen, and Sengen, of Lärchen,
were the only guests present. They were the squires of small manors, to
whom a frock-coat was an uncomfortable acquisition; they wore blue
habiliments with steel buttons, and looked in amazement at their
reflections in the great pier glasses of the Kulmitten drawing rooms.
They were adherents of Blanden, whose hand they shook heartily; was the
latter not a cavalier, not merely in political, but also in social
respects? Doctor Kuhl felt himself especially drawn to them; their
Herculean figures attracted him, as did the deficiency of a frock coat,
for his own in which he had passed his doctor's examination had long
since been hung in the lumber closet; in politics, also, he loved the
representatives of the ancient cantons, the powerful men of the people,
and commenced a conversation with them which, beginning with the yoking
of oxen, ended with the democracy of the future.

"We must first elect worthy representatives like Blanden," said he, for
he considered that he owed this acknowledgment to his friend, "but that
is only the beginning. Our aim is a constitution, in which every member
of the State can record his own vote upon every question. Can any one
be actually represented? As little in politics as in love. Such a
deputy seems to me like a harlequin, who is patched up out of so many
voting papers; if he chatters about freely with a speaking trumpet, he
is applauded and admired; yet he still merely represents his own views
and his own convictions; there are many questions springing up afresh,
upon which I myself may take a different view. What use is it to me?
When I have once given my vote, from a political point of view, I am a
squeezed out lemon, a cypher. Every man should give his own vote for
his own opinion on every question; so must it be. The whole
'representation' rests upon an illusion that means, an X is made for an
U. But we want no more illusions; and then the Parliamentary stable
forage is more expensive than pasturage upon the democratic parish
common. Well, in the first place, we must elect, so let us choose
people of intellect, heart, and independence!"

Hermann with his Bardolph nose, that constant light-house in his face,
expressed his entire concurrence with the Doctor by a powerful shake of
the hand, while Sengen, a very thoughtful man, who made a short pause
between every word, and between every thought a pause of several bars,
expressed his doubts still as to whether his tenants would be capable
of entertaining any opinion whatever about the welfare of the state.

In the meanwhile the Landrath had appeared a kindly old gentleman, a
friend of Schönd and Auerswaldd, an enlightened, tolerant man, as far
as the burning question was concerned, a supporter of the National
Assembly, and much prepossessed in Blanden's favour, whose spirit he
admired; he was the latter's most important ally. It is true he was not
greatly beloved in the district; many landowners were displeased at the
mildness of his rule, and also that at the Landrath's office, the
superior court of corporal punishment, a mode of discipline used to
bring up an improved race, was exercised in so inefficient a manner.
With him came Baron von Fuchs, a perfect gentleman, who reminded one of
the _roccoco_ days, and distinguished himself by being utterly free
from all prejudices. But he could not act with the same freedom, as he
owned a wife of principles, a categorical imperative mood in

Oberamtmann Werner of Schlohitten, entered the room noisily: he had
first driven up to the sheepfold.

"You must sell me the new ram, Herr von Blanden; no refusal! I want

"I do not sell my rams," replied Blanden.

"I will pay well, think it over! Besides, all respect for your
sheepfold, my compliments to it! Not quite Schlohitten, upon my honour!
The last touch so to say is wanting, the finer shades; but if I did not
sit amidst the Schlohitten wool, I should gladly do so amidst that of

The reception room filled more and more, several elderly gentlemen with
the iron cross upon their breasts appeared, at last also Herr Milbe, of
Kuhlwangen, who again had not been in Kuhlwangen, but whom the note of
invitation had found at the house of some intimate friend, where he had
been engaged in a three days' game of _ombre_.

The uncomfortable mood which oppresses people's spirits before large
dinners, as well as the craving of the inner man, by which the mind
also is forced into an unwonted state of expectation, at first
prevented all animated conversation, although the powerful organs of
one or two agriculturists were thus able to assert themselves.

Dinner was served in the hall; the windows with their stained glass
pictures did not allow the dazzling sunshine to penetrate, but shed a
soft twilight, which so greatly enhances the enjoyments of a feast; the
splendid table appointments, the bouquets of flowers in elegant vases,
the tasteful arrangement of the table in the hall, which the slender
pillar supported, and whose vaulted arch seemed to form the rays of a
sun of stone, dispensed a sensation of comfort which unconsciously
communicated itself to the guests. The stone flags of the floor, too,
awoke historical recollections, for the spurs of the brave knights of
the Order once upon a time clattered over these stones.

The dinner took its course almost in accordance with the programme,
which that cunning Wegen had drawn up in the wine cellar; gradually
minds and spirits became more lively, the gentlemen with the iron cross
told of Leipzig and Waterloo, the Oberamtmann of Schlohitten of his
ewes, Baron von Fuchs of a few adventures of the East Prussian _haute
volée_. The old Landrath led the general conversation to the absorbing
topic; he spoke of Schön and Stein with that warmth which for all ages
has distinguished the staunch friends of their Fatherland in East
Prussia; he was only interrupted by Herr Milbe's noisy explanations,
who sought to prove to his neighbour, that yesterday he must positively
have won a _grand_ at _ombre_ if he had played _spadille_ at once and
called for _basta_.

"Our King," said the Landrath, "is an intellectual gentleman; he is
even enthusiastic about the English state of affairs, about the land of
inherited wisdom, and would be very comfortable with the Parliamentary
system, because he himself is a man of great eloquence and knows how to
value the results of clever speeches; but his unhappy affection for a
romantic view of the State's system, in which he is strengthened by
pietistic advisers, prevents him fulfilling former promises about the
National Assembly; he fears to destroy the nimbus of the crown, and to
endanger a divine right, which is confided to his faithful keeping."

"We are no backwoodsmen here," cried Milbe, "they shall learn that in
Germany; here in East Prussia there are men who know what they want.
The National Assembly is the _spadille_ with which we will win the

"Our King has sense," interposed Baron von Fuchs, "he has ideas which
Voltaire might envy him, although no greater contrast can be conceived
than that which exists between the French scoffer's views of life and
those of our King, so devoted to religious romance; but spell-bound as
he is by a philosophy and poetry, which represent the charm of the
moonlight-enchanted nights of the middle ages, as suitable ideas for
the enlightened days of the present time, yet he has a perfect
appreciation of new ideas, and his decisions can be so little counted
upon, that I should not be amazed if he suddenly placed himself at the
head of the political movement, and bore the banner in his own hand
before us all."

"Until then," said Hermann, for whose political fervour his nose,
already in a state of red-heat, was the best gauge, "we will trust to
our own strength."

And, at the same time, he struck the table until the glass of
Johannisberger before him fell over.

Doctor Kuhl cried enthusiastically--

"That is right! This trial of our own strength pleases me! Thus may all
perish that comes from Metternich!"

"Only do not pour away the child with the bath," cried Baron Fuchs.
"Johannisberger is a delicious wine, even although the dove of Patmos
does not fly around Johannisberg, and his revelations have always
become fatal to the German people--pale messengers of death, like the
riders in the Apocalypse!"

"If we talk of biblical wines," cried Kuhl, "then I prefer the
'_Lachrimæ Christi_.' It grows on fire-belching Vesuvius, and the
future of nations only flourishes upon the volcanic ground of

"Heaven preserve us from revolutions!" cried the Landrath.

"As regards Johannisberger," said Fuchs, as he drank off his glass with
gusto, "we will grant ample acknowledgment to our host's exquisite
wine. But Prince Metternich may remind us of Goethe's verse--

           'Ein echter deutscher Mann mag keinen Franzmann leiden
            Doch seine Weine trinkt er gern!'"

"Drink, gentlemen, drink!" Wegen continually repeated his invitation,
as he hastened from chair to chair. "Best of Barons, of what use are
your beautiful speeches--your glass is empty! Herr Milbe of Kuhlwangen,
_tournez_, _tournez_, Johannisberger is trump! Dear Doctor Kuhl do not
think of '_Lachrimæ Christi_' and the people's tears; taste this
glorious flower of the reaction!"

Wegen did not need to urge Oberamtmann Werner, he had already done good
work, and his neighbour, Sengen, listened, with sleepy resignation to
the hymns in praise of sheep-breeding, which the best wool-producer in
East Prussia sang in a voice becoming more and more maudlin.

"Two things we must have here--a National Assembly and better wool. A
National Diet and wool market--those are the two vital arteries in
political as in agricultural life. There is no truly free people
without wool! The fine kinds, that is the principal matter. In what are
we in advance of the Australians? We have no kangaroos, but we have no
superfine sheep either. And in Silesia; do you see, Silesia is
bestirring itself also; the States are bestirring themselves; there is
intelligence in the province. The Breslau wool market proves that. I am
a good patriot, yes I am," continued he, in a voice stifled with tears,
"but if a man will be useful to his Fatherland, it does not merely
depend upon how he votes, it does not merely depend upon the speeches
that are made, it also depends upon the wool that is shorn. You
understand me, Sengen, oh, we understand one another, brotherly heart!"

Sengen could only make his assent known by an animated shake of the
head; for he, too, was so moved that his halting speech had become one
great pause.

"The National Assembly would have a much better chance," said Hermann,
in a loud, ringing voice, "if the Königsberg Jews did not also desire
to have them."

"But, dear Hermann," said Kuhl, appeasingly, "the Promised Land they
will never obtain, so that surely they must desire something else for

By the time that the champagne arrived, the general state of mind had
attained that height which is usually succeeded by social chaos. It
was, indeed, time for Blanden, who, until now, had taken little part in
the conversation, to come forward with the political purpose that he
associated with this dinner.

He rose, and immediately silence ensued--a compliment not only
considered his due as host, but also on account of his personal

"While offering a welcome to all my guests," he began, "at the same
time I take this opportunity to convey to you a wish which fills me at
this present moment. In a short time, the election for the vacancy,
which it has become necessary to fill up in our Provincial Diet, will
take place, and I now introduce myself as a candidate to you, my
guests, the most respected representatives of the district."

"Bravo! bravo!" cried the Landrath, and several gentlemen applauded
also, while others, as Wegen remarked, became uneasy, and crumpled
their dinner napkins under the table.

"Candid speech must be permitted; I will beg for no vote that is not
given to me from free conviction; yet I know that I stand upon the same
ground as all my guests. A new political epoch has dawned for Prussia;
our Provincial Diets can no longer have any other aim than that of
giving place to one general Prussian Diet, and this will one day be
dismissed for a free constitution. Prussia must become a Constitutional
State, like the advanced ones of the West; that is its vocation. It
languishes beneath the contradictory fact that its internal
arrangements, its organisations of defence, the regulations of its
towns and districts are animated by a Liberal spirit, while the
building lacks the necessary consummation. That which Stein, Schön, and
Scharnhorst have begun tends to this consummation; it was the signal
for supreme promises, and yet the coronation of the building has been
left unfinished to the present day. The Bureaucratic Guard-room is to
compensate to us for the Chamber of Parliament. The Prussian State is a
_torso_; the educated circles of the people have become aware of it.
Like a fresh breath, full of a future, it percolates through the whole
nation; who could shut himself up from this vivifying breath? To become
security for these recognised rights with power and determination, is
the task which I have set to myself, and which I would further in the
place where that word has gained a significant power for the State.
Through the Provincial Diet to the National Diet is my watchword.
Continued furtherance of Stein's and Scharnhorst's arrangements in the
advanced spirit of the time! Then Prussia, which, until now, was only a
doubtful Great Power, will occupy a position befitting it, and cast its
old sword of Brennus, the sword of Frederick the Great, of Blücher and
Gneisenau once more into the scale of European destinies. Released from
the political followers opposed to the Austrian Chancellor of the
State, it will again become the kingdom of Frederick the Great, that
rests upon its own strength."

"We are all unanimous thereupon," cried Werner von Schlohitten, and a
general jubilant applause proved this unanimity.

"Her von Blanden, he is our man," rang Hermann's deep bass.

"But you will permit us one question?" cried Milbe. "Questions are
permitted not only in _ombre_, and candidates for election may be

"That is my great desire," replied Blanden.

"You are in favour of a National Assembly," continued Milbe; "that is
good! A National Assembly is _spadille_, but there is still a _basta_,
a second trump which we wish to play out in East Prussia. Thunder and
lightning! we here are in favour of healthy human understanding, and
there in Berlin they want to pull the night-cap over our ears again. We
believe in our good Lord, but we are told to believe in all possible
miracles. Thus we should come to a nice state of _codille_ with our
politics. False piety has become the fashion; our foals are already
ordered to graze in these melancholy meadows. _Sapperment_--we need men
who do not love to grope about in such darkness; men like old Dinter,
who went about in schools shedding the light of enlightenment. If all
the world sits like a dummy, the game of _ombre_ would cease. But we in
Prussia still have the best games in our hand, and will not, for a
longtime yet, write the world's history in a kettle; we will not be nor
remain dark men."

"That we will not, that we will not!" cried all, unanimously.

"Truly not," added Blanden, with sharp emphasis.

"Well, then, Herr von Blanden," said Milbe, with great intrepidity, and
the same demeanour with which he announced a dangerous game at _ombre_,
"that is just the point. That is the evil of it!"

Baron von Fuchs pulled Milbe's coat-tail, the Landrath raised his
fore-finger warningly, Wegen signed to him to stop, as he was
accustomed to sign to the sentinels to cease when the latter saluted
him in his lieutenant's uniform. But Milbe would not allow himself to
be over-ruled.

"They say of you, Herr von Blanden, that you belong to the pious
people, and, indeed, to that pious people who conducted themselves
strangely in Königsberg. Thunder and lightning! it was out of the
frying-pan into the fire. For anything I care, each may worship what he
likes, and there have been plenty of strange saints in the world. If
one man in his private chapel worships a stark-naked goddess of simply
foaming meerschaum, I have nothing against it! but I should fight
against it tooth and nail if such like were to become universal. I will
not give my vote to the man who defends it, because he is not to my
taste in religion, and similarity of taste, after all, is the principal
thing, even in sacred matters."

Death-like stillness reigned around the table. Milbe's probe had
touched the most vulnerable spot.

"In smoky Albertina, on the Pregel, we had a clever man, named Kant. I
have read nothing of his, but I know he loved pure reason--and that,
too, is my feeling; with pure want of reason I will have nothing to do.
And that nourished in Königsberg," added Milbe, as he struck the table
with his hand, "and it is infectious as small-pox, and our deputies
shall issue an order for quarantine against it. I demand that, as truly
as I am Milbe, of Kuhlwangen, and seldom in Kuhlwangen."

"It is ten years," replied Blanden, in a firm, calm voice, "since I
went astray amidst those sects whose conduct I myself must now
repudiate. The charm of something strange and uncommon prompted me; I
was an enthusiast. Yet even in those days already I found a shoal where
I had sought a haven. That lies far behind me; I have set oceans and
hemispheres between myself and my past. Man errs so long as he strives.
But in me every trace of enthusiasm is extinguished; my thoughts are no
longer fixed upon what is mystery, will no longer seek that boundary
line where the ocean, with its dark abyss, touches the sky with its
bright planets. Least of all do I lean to that piety which is favoured
for State reasons, and that infects the fresh life of the present with
the sickly shadow of a romance long since buried. T reject the barriers
of faith and conscience that are painted in the colours of the State.
That which we then sought erringly was at least our own free action, an
outflow of inward light; we put our whole soul into the sect of the
Free Elect. It was a community of men of the same mind who were even
looked askant upon by the Government. But as I am now, I stand firmly
and entirely upon the ground of a Free-thinker; no sentimental
extravagance has any more power over me. What Kant and his successors
struggled for has become the atmosphere of my mental life, and I am
ready for the most resolute defiance, like you all, if a relapse into
misty credulity or fettered Government hypocrisy would destroy that
which the labour of great thinkers has built up in more than half a

"Hem, there is something in that," said Milbe, with vigorous eulogy.

"Long live reason," cried Wegen, and the glasses were clinked merrily.
Oberamtmann Werner, too, shook Blanden heartily by the hand, as he was
already in a much affected mood.

"Yes, yes, these false saints are the wolves in sheep's clothing, as it
says in the Bible. A good breeder of sheep must entertain especial
horror of them. And I have it, I have it! Yes, brotherly heart, if you
abjure it, that lamb-like pious sanctity of former days, that kissing,
love-making and hypocrisy of the pious people--sweet as sugar, from the
upper Haberberge--then you may still be worth something. You can
represent the province capitally. You have my vote because your sheep
are in good condition, and an agriculturist's intelligence is known by
the fleece of his sheep. Clink glasses, brotherly heart! Only no future
pious giddiness!"

The dinner company had already broken up into noisy groups. Once more
the Landrath became spokesman, and by the esteem in which he was held,
had been able to obtain silent hearers--

"Herr von Blanden has expressed all our sentiments; as worthy deputy
from our province, he will fix his mind upon the whole. Our politics
are patch-work until a general constitution forms a piece of mosaic
into one organisation, and without Frederick the Great's free, tolerant
spirit, our Prussia, under the hands of the _virorum obscurorum_, will
never, never raise itself to a brilliant position. Let us return thanks
to our host for having expressed an opinion which we all share, and let
us empty our glasses to his health!"

The guests' favourable sentiments found this to be the most suitable
mode of expression, and at the same time the election dinner came to a
termination. Now good humour began to display itself undisturbedly.
Some danced upon the stone flags of the old hall of the Order, while
the evening sun was already flooding the dark stained glass windows
with glowing fire. Baron von Fuchs stood in one corner of the room, and
had assembled an extensive circle of listeners around him; for he
poured out a large _cornucopiæ_ of most interesting anecdotes which
related to the nobility of the neighbouring district. There were
seductions and abductions, tales of prodigality, legacy-hunting,
insanity, and idiotcy; and the Baron understood how to relate all so
fluently and adroitly, that the gentlemen listened with great
enjoyment, as though these sad human traits existed for their amusement
only. Milbe tried in vain to get a party for _ombre_ together; even
the Oberamtmann could not be roused. He already lay in a state of
semi-somnolence in a cushioned chair, with blissfully transfigured
features, and dreamed of golden fleeces. Doctor Kuhl, on the other
hand, delighted the peasant squires with his athletic performances, by
balancing the heaviest chairs upon his finger tips. Coffee was then
drunk in the park, which was illuminated with lights and gay-coloured
lanterns; Olkewicz had arranged everything in the best possible manner.
Anyone going to the pond could see Kuhl tread water.

It was late in the evening when the guests called for their carriages.

"The feast has fulfilled my greatest expectations," said Wegen to
Blanden, when the last had departed.

"And yet," replied the latter, "it lies like a nightmare upon my mind.
I must for ever gaze into the hated magic mirror which every one holds
before me, in order to see my distorted reflection. And if they all
seem, in brightest mood, to forget that which in their hearts they
cherish against me, and which obstructs the path of my desires, only
some chance is needed which would awaken the past more vividly, and
they would all stand against me once more. Just as it is impossible to
commence life again from the beginning, so is it also impossible
entirely to shake off one's past. Herculean power is wanted to cast
this burden from one; I often despair of it. Well, I shall, it is to be
hoped, be more successful in love than in politics. I shall hasten to
bring my beloved one home."

Despite Wegen's supremely cheerful state of mind and freedom from care,
Blanden could not overcome his melancholy mood on that evening. Until
long after midnight, he sat on the balcony above the lake, and gazed
out over the monotonous surface, and the enigma of human life rested
heavily upon his soul.

                               CHAPTER X.

                             THE PROPOSAL.

In Warnicken, the Regierungsrath was again engaged in eager dispute
with the Kreisgerichtsrath; his disposition was an unfriendly one.
Nothing was heard of Blanden, and ever again the thought arose in old
Kalzow that he and his Miranda might have imperilled Eva's good name by
their thoughtless encouragement. Even one single such sad, disagreeable
thought suffices, especially when people are up in years, to cast a
shadow over their whole life. It is not like a poisonous fungus that
grows quietly in the shade; it is like a bursting dust-ball which, at
the least touch, covers us from head to foot with its deadly contents.

Warnicken had suddenly become wearisome to the Regierungsrath; always
the Wolfs-schlucht, and the Fuchs-spitze, and the monotonous sound of
the breakers, and the usually bad dinner, and the Liberal
Kreisgerichtsrath, who daily became more unbearable. At the same time
the intolerable heat; everything was uncomfortable for him, even his
flannel jacket, and his big white neck-cloth, and at times even his

The latter, too, was not exactly in a roseate temper, and she exposed
her majestic side more than usual, especially to those who stood
nearest to her throne.

Political questions were now but little discussed with the
Kreisgerichtsrath; as regards politics, the Regierungsrath was very
reserved; but were there not a hundred other subjects about which they
could hold opposite views, and the Regierungsrath now always was of an
opposite opinion from every other mortal with whom he commenced a

It was a sultry summer evening, when Kalzow, with his wife and the
Kreisgerichtsrath, sat on the Fuchs-spitze. The sun was inclining to
its rest, and cast glowing lights into the waves. Yet it was still so
hot that the Regierungsrath laid his straw hat beside him upon the
bench, and continually made movements betokening such craving for
freedom, as though he would jump out of his cravat, and occasionally
even out of his skin.

"To-day there were eighty degrees of heat in the shade," said the
Kreisgerichtsrath, as he wiped away the drops of perspiration.

"Thirty degrees, I say thirty degrees," retorted Kalzow, irritatedly.

"Eight-and-twenty degrees Réaumur," said the Kreisgerichtsrath, with
quiet decision.

"Réaumur! Of course, Réaumur. What have we to do with Fahrenheit or

"The astronomists measure by Celsius."

"I am no star-gazer, and decline any such inuendoes," said Kalzow,
while coughing annoyedly. "Unfortunately, people have enough to do to
watch their own feet, so that they may not stumble upon earth."

Miranda sighed, while her knitting needles began to move nervously.

The Kreisgerichtsrath shrugged his shoulders, and drew figures in the
sand; he knew well that for his friend he played the part that in
sham-fights the appointed enemy does, against whom all man[oe]uvres are
directed. Yet he was not prepared for so vigorous an onslaught as that
with which the Regierungsrath surprised him.

"Indeed, it is impossible to bear with you any longer," continued the
latter. "You contradict one constantly; do you then, think that it
makes intercourse pleasant in such heat? I have put a seal upon
politics--I do not allude to that tender theme any more; can one give
greater proofs of peaceable intentions? I am contented with everything,
with general assemblies, even, for anything that I care, with the
French revolution; I allow it all to be discharged over me like
torrents of rain, and do not even put up an umbrella before it; but you
seek quarrels, you do! Can there be anything more harmless than the
lines in a thermometer to which the mercurial column extends its
tongue; no, even for that the alarm-drum must be beaten. Quarrelling,
everlasting quarrelling, here where one ought to recruit oneself; I can
bear it no longer!"

A violent fit of coughing closed this bayonet charge upon his patient

The Kreisgerichtsrath rose with great calmness and said--

"I can give no better proofs of my peaceable intentions than by
retiring," and he disappeared upon the footpath that led to the valley.

This retreat did not much improve Kalzow's temper, for he felt it to be
his own moral defeat. Much excited, he walked to and fro, and was not
disinclined to make the only person who could still be called to
account, responsible for all the evil which lay in the air to-day; yet,
a glance at her, and the challenging manner in which she handled her
knitting needles, proved sufficiently to him that this fort was fully
armed and ensured against any surprise, and that in an attack upon it
he should be running great danger.

Therefore, he sat down again beside his wife, after he had soothed his
internal excitement by several pinches of snuff, and commenced a
peaceful conversation.

"What has become of Eva?"

"The girl wanted to read something, and then water the flowers."

"How do you think she is?"

"As usual--quiet, and sometimes in a happier state of mind than

"She has perfect confidence?"

"So far, she has not uttered a word of doubt."

"Well, then, all will be right! She has Blanden's promise, and I take
him to be a man of his word."

"Certainly, at least, we will hope it, although it is a sad experience
that even the best of men, whose word at other times is firm as a rock,
always waver in love. That is an abandoned territory; there begins the
great comedy of life, behind the scenes of which one can never see

"Come, it is hardly so bad."

"Nor married men, dear Kalzow, do I trust entirely; they are the worst
kind; but we will draw a veil over that--it is best to do so!"

"But if Blanden even keep his word, supposing, indeed, that he has
given it, about which the contract is not yet signed--you know my
sister has, it is true, consented that we should adopt her daughter,
because, to a certain extent, public opinion demanded it; yet she
attached the condition thereto, that her daughter's betrothal should
immediately be announced to her, and she be invited to any celebration
of it; under any circumstances, she will make the bridegroom's
acquaintance as soon as possible."

"We cannot prevent that, dear Kalzow; and, after all, what she requires
is reasonable. On such an occasion the unnatural barrier should fall
that separates her from her daughter. Certainly, this sister-in-law is
like an evil spirit to me; she spoils our social reputation; we have
always kept her aloof from her daughter, and only sent her regular
reports as to the latter's well-being; Eva herself has never been
allowed to write to her; such a total separation was unavoidable."

"But what will Blanden say to that mother?"

"From what one hears, neither had anything wherewith to reproach
themselves; he probably knows them; they moved in the same circles for
some time."

"That is quite possible! All the same, it will be hard for me to point
her out as the girl's mother; nor is it in truth, necessary, she has no
longer any right over the girl. Should she, however, come to the
betrothal, nothing will remain for us but to raise the veil. But where
is Eva? The worst would be if we troubled our heads about matters
which, indeed, exist nowhere but in our brains; day after day passes,
and Blanden does not return."

While the married couple thus exchanged their anxieties and fears,
their looks were suddenly arrested by a boat gliding over the sea.

The Regierungsrath had a perfect right to cough, because his telescope
did not deceive him; it was Eva who, instead of reading and watering
the flowers in the garden, let herself once again be rocked upon the
ocean's waves, with the idiot fisherman's girl.

"A disobedient child," said the Regierungsräthin, annoyed; "there is
something erratic about her; she does not belie her mother's blood."

"Yet her father, who died early, was an honourable man; he only
committed the fault of trying to use a will-o'-the-wisp as a

"Fie, Kalzow."

"She is my sister, and yet she was not worthy of so good a man as the
captain; from her youth upwards she was a strange creature,
enthusiastically dreamy, often wild and eager for pleasure. Eva,
fortunately, takes more after her father than her mother."

Meanwhile Eva had landed and wandered, singing, up the Fuchs-spitze.

"Naughty girl! You wanted to be taken captive again," her foster-father
cried to her, his good humour having gradually been restored during his
conversation with Miranda.

"Oh, no, papa! I am already a captive," said Eva, smiling.

"Disobedience merits punishment," interposed her stern mother! "we will
leave you at home on our next pleasure party."

"Then Salomon will be thoroughly miserable," retorted Eva, laughing.

"And Herr von Blanden does not come," said the Rath, assuming the air
of a judge of assizes. "You both have a little conspiracy between you;
but he promised to return soon."

"Do not be uneasy, papa! He has more important business at home than
here, but as he pledged his word he is sure to come."

"I suppose the mermaids sang that to you?"

"What do mermaids know of a man's word? But I know that it is firm and
unchanging, and that one may sleep quietly beneath its care, as if
under angels' wings."

She said this in an elevated voice, and a transfiguring radiancy seemed
to pass over her features. Her parents also soon felt calmed by Eva's
indomitable trust. The Rath would gladly have directed a few more
questions to the girl, but Salomon's arrival interrupted the

The latter came breathlessly up the hill.

"I know something, Fräulein Eva, but even I can keep my secrets to

"Then you--"

"Redeem it, as one does in playing at forfeits!"

"I am not inclined to play."

"I believe it! The sun is setting so beautifully, it makes one think--

                 'The maid stood by the ocean,
                    And long and deep sighed she,
                  With heartfelt sad emotion
                    The setting sun to see.'"[4]

"But, my dear Salomon," said Eva, "we know our Heine by heart."

                "'Sweet maiden, why this fretting?
                    An olden trick is here,'"

Salomon continued to recite unabashedly, and then added--

"Heine pleases me actually better than Schiller; one feels more at ease
with him. Everything about Schiller is more solemn, one must appear in
full dress, and be led about in nothing but state apartments, where one
feels shy of sitting down. With Heine, one enters a cosy drinking
party; all sit down in shirt sleeves, and one hastens to pull off one's
own coat."

"That would be like playing nine-pins," said Eva.

"Certainly, the poet always meets the Nine; he scoffs at false
sentiment, and in life, as in society, there is so much false
sentiment; it is just as in the Palais Royal in Paris, where I went
last holidays with mamma. The shops with sham diamonds and precious
stones are to be found side by side with those full of genuine
jewellery, and, at the first glance, one cannot distinguish the
imitation. Therefore, our thanks are due to the man who has taught us
the true and the false by his scoffing remarks. Even with Schiller,
false jewels of sentiment are to be found. Laura at the piano! excuse
me. I have seen many a girl sit at the piano, who did not play badly
either, but never have I thought when doing so of 'Cocytus' waves of
tears,' or of 'the suns which arise from out the giant arms of chaos,'
or even the verse, 'Lips, cheeks, burned and quivered.' That is not the
way people kiss! I have never noticed anything of the sort. Or even
Thecla, who looks upon her lover as a good angel, who would carry her
pick-a-back up the mountains! What a picture of bad taste! And we are
to rave about that? Fräulein, will you know my secret now?"

"Not yet, Herr Salomon."

"Then, you see, a great deal of poetical rubbish is talked about these
sunsets. After all, it is quite natural, and it is connected with the
earth's revolution that the sun seems to set, and its rays break into
gay colours through the denser strata of vapour on the horizon. But it
is really childish to go into ecstasies about those few bright colours;
it is the same pleasure that the soap-bubbles inspire in childish
minds; and yet such things are sung in all metres of verse. And there
is also an ode, which we had to learn by rote, and begins with the

                 'Sun, thou sinkest,
                  Sun, thou sinkest,
                  Sink in peace then, oh, thou sun!'

It is, I believe, by a certain Kosegarten, who bore a very well-known
and much promising name, but, alas! was a parson, somewhere near some
large waters, whence he drew his poetry. Then comes Heine, and calls
the sunset an 'old piece;' capital, and how the scales fall from our
eyes. That is the man for me! Do not you rave about 'Lorelei,' too, my
Fräulein? Should you not like to be a 'Lorelei?'"

"Papa would first have to buy me a golden comb."

"And what will you give for my secret?"

"Still nothing, Herr Salomon."

"Well, I am disinterested, my Fräulein!

                 'My blossoming life thou hast poisoned,
                  And made it hateful to me.'

But I revenge myself nobly! I know that my communication will cause you
pleasure; and, besides, I know that I shall be grieved at your
pleasure; I know that I cannot reckon upon the least reward as
messenger--and yet--I will make the communication--Herr von Blanden has
just arrived."

The effect of the news was, indeed, greater than even Salomon had
expected. Rath and Räthin started up from the bench, with countenances
radiant with pleasure! Eva stood as if transfigured with blissful
delight in the last gleam of the evening's glow, and folded her hands.

Yes, she even vouchsafed a kindly smile and a word of thanks to the
head scholar. The latter had greeted Herr von Blanden immediately upon
his arrival, as he drove up to the inn, and informed him where he
should find the Kalzow family. Therefore, it was decided to await him
up here. Eva's heart beat violently; she did not listen to her parents'
remarks, which suddenly spent themselves in Blanden's praise, his
punctuality and reliability, still less to Salomon's recitals, which
scattered abundant daring allusions and poetical quotations, in order
to console himself for the fresh triumphs which his rival celebrated.

"Did I not say that I should give you pleasure?

                 'To all, its arms doth Mirth unfold,
                  And every heart forgets its cares--
                  And Hope is busy in the old.'

But I bear a striking resemblance to Cassandra, and wander like her--

                 'Unjoyous in the joyful throng.'

It is so charming to be so watched for, greeted with such delight! This
Blanden! But one must console oneself--

                 'With careless hands they mete our doom,
                  Our woe or welfare, Hazard gives
                  Patroclus slumbers in the tomb.'

And still it is melancholy--

                 'Gleams my love in beauty's splendour,
                    Like the child of ocean's foam,
                  As his bride my mistress tender
                    Is a stranger taking home.'"

Eva would have been best pleased to hasten down the footpath to meet
her beloved one, if she had been free to follow her heart's impulses.

Blanden came at last, and she only greeted him with a cordial shake of
the hand. The scholar averted his gaze, and looked at the sea that was
already playing in the ashen grey tints of dusk; no more verses arose
to his mind. The Rath was full of amiability.

"We expected you in vain both yesterday and the previous day; however,
the harvest, the harvest! I know what importance that is on large
estates; the well-filled barns, the ricks in all the fields; because it
is a bountiful year. In Kulmitten you cultivate more wheat; I know
that, and in Nehren the soil is more adapted for rye."

"And you are sure to part reluctantly from your castle," added the
Räthin. "No doubt you have a fine orangery, splendid flower beds! That
is wanting here. Nature here is somewhat wild! I like order. Hedges of
yew--I am passionately fond of them! Have you yew in your park?"

"Everything that you wish, _gnädige_ Frau, every kind of indigenous and
exotic weeds! But the most beautiful flower I have still to transplant
to my park. Herr Rath, Frau Räthin, may I beg you to grant me a serious
conversation at your house?"

"We are at your service, at your service," said the Rath, as he seized
his hat quickly, pushed his chin back expectantly into his neck-cloth,
and in all his movements evinced eager promptitude. Miranda was also
ready for a speedy departure, like a proud frigate that is about to
raise its anchor.

Eva stood, her hand pressed upon her heart, and, with Salomon, slowly
followed them as they hastened away.

It was rather tranquillising for her when the former deemed this moment
to be a favourable one in which to make a declaration of love to her,
which she declined with kind decision; it relieved the moment's state
of tension.

Salomon, having received this rebuff, did not think he ought to linger
longer in Eva's vicinity. He bade her a cold farewell and sped back to
the Fuchs-spitze.

Below, in the modest reception-room, in which the smoky beams were
pasted over with the cheapest sheets of pictures of Neu-Ruppin, Blanden
spoke the decisive word. He proposed for Eva's hand, he promised to
make her happy, he explained that his circumstances permitted him to
relinquish any dowry, that he did not need to enquire as to her
fortune, that in herself he found the greatest treasure, the greatest
riches with which he would now adorn his life.

Bright tears of joy glistened in the old Rath's eyes, and Miranda also
wept. It was a strange scene; who had ever seen the Regierungsräthin
Kalzow, that stony Niobe, weep? But both loved Eva with all their
hearts, even although in their own way, and now to be able to greet her
as a rich, aristocratic mistress of a castle, was indeed delightful.

After having given his consent, the Rath said, hesitatingly, "I am too
happy to be able to welcome you as my future son-in-law; although only
my consent is needed, yet I must inform you that we are merely the
girl's adopted parents. Her father is dead, her mother still lives upon
a small estate that her husband, a captain, left to her; she is my
sister; she will not fail to be present at her daughter's wedding or

"She will be welcome to us," said Blanden; "I repeat, that it does not
trouble me whether, from you or her real mother, Eva has any prospects
of inheritance. Are not all my possessions hers, so soon as the union
is sealed, and now I pray you summon Eva, and give us your blessing."

Evidently Eva's family was wearisome to Blanden; all information about
them was void of interest for him, he hoped so soon as possible to
deliver her from this irksome connection. Her mother was Kalzow's
sister. He was not very eager to make her acquaintance. The dreary
atmosphere of this narrow-minded, prosaic life, should no longer
oppress his Eva, and even the thought of two mothers-in-law did not
disturb him farther; he had confidence in his power to hold as much
aloof from the one as from the other.

Eva appeared: she was full of joy and happiness--was it not only what
she had expected? Mother Miranda gazed with certain pride upon her
child; she began already to treat the future aristocratic lady with
certain consideration, and to clothe her faultfinding in a pleasant
garb. She suddenly looked upon Eva with totally different eyes; she had
formerly never thought that she should feel any respect for this little

Blanden folded Eva closely and impetuously to his heart, he said
silently to himself: "Now I begin a new life; now I place a boundary
and sign-stone to my past; the future of my whole life depends upon
this moment! May it smile as kindly upon me as do the wonderful eyes of
this glorious girl!" But then he said in joyful excitement--"As I would
proclaim my happiness to the world, so do I feel the need for others to
rejoice with me! We will celebrate our betrothal in the largest, most
extensive circle; let that be my care, Herr Rath! To arrange the
solemnization of the marriage according to the country's custom, be
yours; in that I will not interfere with you, but the betrothal
celebration confide to me."

"But it will be difficult for you, here in Warnicken," began the

"It is impossible here," interrupted Blanden. "I must beg you all to
migrate to Neukuhren for a few days. It possesses a Kursaal, and merry
company; many of my friends are there. I will make arrangements for an
entertainment in that place, and all Kuhren shall be invited."

"Shall we not rather enjoy our happiness alone?" asked Eva, pressing
closely to her lover.

"I am proud of you, and will show all the world that I am so; you must
let me have my own way in this matter."

The entertainment at Neukuhren flattered her parent's pride; they gave
their consent, and undertook to take lodgings there a few days later,
so as to assist in his preparations. Of course, Blanden said, all the
visitors staying at Warnicken were included in the invitation; neither
the Kriesgerichtsrath nor Salomon, nor Minna with her envious mother
were to be omitted.

The particular evening was decided upon, everything planned. Miranda
possessed courage sufficient not to dread the troubles of a migration,
and never had Rath Kalzow's pipe seemed so enjoyable to him as on that

But Blanden wished to enjoy the sanctity of those hours alone with Eva;
they granted themselves leave of absence, and walked towards the sea.
The idiot ocean-maiden lay on the sand beside her boat, and stared
fixedly at the east, where the moon was just rising deeply red out of
the waters; she did not look unlike a seal.

"Käthe, we wish to row on the sea," Blanden called to her. Quickly as
lightning the girl arose, kissed his hand, sprang into the boat and
seized the oar.

Soon the lovers were rocking upon the slightly disturbed waters.

Käthe kept good time with her oars, but glared as if amazed when
Blanden and Eva exchanged kisses and embraces. On the first occasion
she even let the oars drop while she folded her hands.

The moon meanwhile had risen entirely, and silvered the wide expanse of
the East Sea, the bare cliffs, the green ravines, but a cold wind swept
from the north. The waves rose higher, the boat began to roll. Blanden
pressed his beloved one firmly to himself, to protect her from the raw
north wind; she looked into his eyes, and so avoided the sight of the
rolling gunwales, and at the same time the discomfort of dizziness.

Above brightly sparkled the Polar star, Cassiopea, the Milky-way; but
it seemed as though, by the boat's uncertain motion, even the heavenly
stars began to rock.

It was a disagreeable voyage. Eva shivered; Blanden could not help
thinking of the excursions in boats on Lago Maggiore, of the warm
breath that glided over the magic lake, of the enchanting delight of a
southern night; but the young life that was pressed so trustingly to
his side had given itself up for ever to him; how differently his heart
was stirred by it from what it was by that mysterious beauty who only
broke one or two jewels out of her crown for him.

"This is yours, confided to your protection for a whole life-time!"
With that thought he replied to the questions which seemed to be
directed to his heart from Eva's widely-opened, gazelle-like eyes.

Louder became the roaring of the distant waves; Käthe, without waiting
for orders, guided the boat back to the shore. And the billows, rearing
themselves up ever higher, came rolling on like serpents behind the
young betrothed couple, tossing the skiff up and down. Eva's blooming
features and cheeks paled, dizziness and discomfort took possession of
her; it was time that the boat should reach the shore. Blanden was
obliged to exert all his strength in assisting Käthe to land.

"The storm has put our young love to the test," said Blanden, "but we
hold to one another in trouble and in joy, and defy danger."

Which Eva confirmed with a heartfelt kiss and fervent embrace.

The ocean-maiden, however, again lay upon the strand; the tempest raged
above her; her red shawl fluttered in the wind; the waves must wet her

Of what was she thinking?

Idiot Käthe loved Blanden and hated her rival.

                              CHAPTER XI.

                             IN NEUKUHREN.

During all these occurrences, life in the bathing-place, Neukuhren,
continued on its course, like a wound-up watch. Professor Baute and Dr.
Reising still lived upon a philosophical war-footing; Baute often
maintained, with an energy which seemed to disarm any contradiction,
that Hegel's philosophy was quite incomprehensible to any reasonable
creature, that the somersaults of his ideas were only harlequinades of
thought, and that if he had read a few chapters of logic he felt like
the scholar of Faust--

           "My brain with all that nonsense reels,
            As if in my head revolved mill wheels."

Dr. Reising paled with internal annoyance, and bit his lips; he pushed
his rebellious hair back from his head with a nervously trembling hand,
but he took tall Albertina for an example, who, like a goddess of
silence, always seemed to lay a finger upon his lips. He, too, was
silent, and he had his reasons for it, he was now making great progress
in the conquest of the Professor's seven daughters. Dr. Kuhl had
advised him to fix his eyes upon one of two youngest, who had the
longest future before them, and of whom, perhaps, something might still
be made; but when, obediently to such experienced counsel, he devoted
particular attention to Gretchen and Marie, he encountered a decided
repulse, as the two foolish creatures did not know how to appreciate
the great importance of a Hegelite. Gretchen and Marie, who quarrelled
the live-long day, were only unanimous on one point--that Dr. Reising's
nose had an ugly termination, and that there was something intolerably
knowing in his mode of placing his finger upon it. Gretchen considered
that his voice was too thin, that his words could be passed through the
eye of a needle, and Marie said the Doctor appeared to her like a
nibbling mouse.

Of what assistance was all Dr. Kuhl's wisdom? It was rendered futile by
circumstances. Forced to retreat by the young troops, Reising met with
better success before the old guards. He did not know himself how it
came about, but Euphrasia, with her two Slavonian plaits, and her
coquettish smile, had conquered his heart, and here, too, he
encountered a readiness that was only ill concealed beneath mock-modest
resistance. And she was the eldest.

To a head accustomed to think correctly, this was a decided advantage,
for how much evil has not befallen many a family by the marriage of a
younger daughter preceding that of an elder one. Surely everything in
the world must be done in proper rotation. "In proper rotation" is one
of the principles of creation, and the Doctor did little to offend them
when he wooed the ripest beauty of the Baute family. But, from want of
other conquests, as Dr. Kuhl was absent, and, according to report, was
unattainable for several reasons, Ophelia and Lori had also resolved to
be pleased with Reising, and to cast out their nets over him. Thus the
Baute family performed a sort of "Midsummer Night's Dream," a rushing
to and fro, seeking and evading ensued, such as only the sap of the
wonderful flower, "Love-in-Idleness," can produce.

There they sat together in a jasmine bower, Reising and Euphrasia; he
had caught her, and she had let herself be caught with pleasure. She
sat there reading Puschkin's poems, and her two blonde plaits moved
about most gracefully when she shook her head over any of the poet's
bold or inadmissible thoughts.

He had come to her; at first she started at this surprise, but then
resigned herself to the inevitable. As is befitting womanly modesty,
when alone with a strange man, she did not venture to look straightly
at him; now and again she cast a glance towards him, in which flashed
as much meaning as possible.

"Puschkin is a great poet," said she, in a kind of ecstasy. "Indeed, I
love the Russian poets; they are not such Philistines as the Germans.
What views! One sees that they belong to a nation that rules the

"Very beautiful, Fräulein Euphrasia! But still the world is ruled by
the mind, and it is the German mind that is called to the world's

"Herbart, or Hegel?" asked Euphrasia, smiling coquettishly.

"Oh, my Fräulein! You touch a very tender spot in my life; it makes me
so sad that I cannot hold the same opinions as your father."

"Why sad?" asked Euphrasia. "Learned men are seldom of the same

"Oh, you know; you must know why it makes me sad!"

"Not at all," replied the fair one, smiling unconsciously.

"I should wish above everything that all men of intellect should
recognise Hegel as their mental guide; what is more adapted to such
guidance than a system which inculcates the progress of man in the
consciousness of freedom. What does Herbart teach?--all respect to your
father! Nothing of the sort! He confuses the good and the beautiful in
a lamentable manner; nowhere does he speak of the progress of mankind.
With him the mind is a _tabula rasa_, where different ideas agree to
meet. Some are stronger, others weaker; they create a king of the rats,
and hang one upon another. It is an excellent comedy; there some tumble
down again headlong over the threshold of knowledge! Ah, my Fräulein!
that may perhaps suit the ideas which one entertains when knitting
stockings, but not the ideas which shall found the world's existence."

"Papa may be mistaken," said Euphrasia. "Our mother always maintained
that he was mistaken, and if this occurred in matters that we
understand, it is probably also the case in those that we do not

"Schiller certainly maintained," continued Reising, "that only 'error
is life, and knowledge is death,' but which German University could
choose such a motto? Why, in that case all would be changed into
churchyards, because knowledge is their life, and inconceivably much is
known, my Fräulein!"

"Certainly, certainly, Herr Doctor, inconceivably much, and even by
single individuals, yourself for instance," said Euphrasia, as she
bowed humbly before Hegel's all-knowing pupil.

"At least a _horror vacui_ assails us true disciples of knowledge from
a Socratian standpoint. We are to know that we can know nothing; of
what use, then, would be the search of a whole life-time? But, my
Fräulein, it is not about that I would now speak with you. Even the
difference of opinions is as old as the world, but I only wished to
tell you that it is a misfortune if we, your father and I, cannot

"Oh, there are some points," said Euphrasia, rather hastily, "about
which this unanimity is not so difficult."

"Do you think so, my Fräulein?" said the Doctor, quickly, as he passed
his hand several times through his bristly hair. "Oh, you make me
happy--if I dared hope, yes, I must confess to you, I must--"

Just at this moment, when Euphrasia hung so devoutly upon the lips of
the future private tutor that her plaits even forgot their otherwise
wonted pendulum-like motions, malicious chance brought her two dear
sisters, Ophelia and Lori, upon the scene, who, behind the creepers
around the arbour, had listened, unperceived, to Reising's last
outpourings, and now believed that the time had arrived for them to
come forward.

"We bring interesting news, dear sister," said Lori, who spitefully
remarked the effect produced by her appearance.

Euphrasia rose, glowing with anger, for such an interruption in one of
the most beautiful moments of her life, and which promised to be still
much more beautiful, had enraged her intensely. Doctor Reising, it is
true, as Hegel's pupil, always looked upon chance as unreasoning, but
this one appeared to be a stronger argument than ever in favour of the
immortal master's doctrine than all other chances which had already
befallen him in his young life.

"What is the matter?" asked Euphrasia, sternly. Her whole demeanour
assumed an air of command, and had Reising been a better psychologist,
he would have discovered no favourable reading of the horoscope for his
wedded future in the tone and manner of his Euphrasia.

"We walked quickly," said Ophelia, "and wanted to rest for a moment."

And she sat down upon the bench, breathing with difficulty and sighing,
and darted one of those glances, soft as velvet, which flatter a
susceptible heart wonderfully, at Doctor Reising, who stood near her.
Her eyes were furnished with long silken lashes, and as they were her
sole recognised beauty, she had brought the skilful management of them
to a most artistic state of perfection; she laid claim to
sentimentality, which was peculiarly favoured by this dowry of Nature.
When she cast her eyes modestly down, they disappeared almost entirely
beneath their silken curtain; if she turned them up, it lay like a
canopy above their rapturous glance. But Doctor Reising did not possess
his friend Doctor Kuhl's versatility in the remotest degree. Ophelia's
eyelashes had no power over him after Euphrasia's plaits had bound him
in their fetters, and he looked coldly down upon those speaking,
upturned eyes like a dreary, rainy sky upon two widely opened flower

"There is to be a large entertainment," said Lori, dancing to and fro.
"Doctor Kuhl has just told us of it, and we came, dear sister, to bring
you the glad news."

"What do I care about your entertainment?"

"Oh, we are all to be invited. Herr von Blanden has engaged himself in
Warnicken, and to-morrow will celebrate his betrothal. They are to
dance under the big pear tree."

The news was not without its effect upon Euphrasia; she leaned her head
upon her hand, and said, thoughtfully--

"What shall we wear?"

"Our summer dresses, of course," replied Lori. "I, my sap-green, you,
your violet. Ophelia, to be sure, has an ugly pink dress. The bodice is
much too high; it makes her look like a _picottee_, with a stem that is
broken near the top. Emma is sensible, and always wears dark clothes,
but Albertina's white dress still bears traces of the last picnic, and
is covered with every variety of soil. What our two little ones wear
does not matter; no one notices those half-grown up creatures."

After this weighty affair had been quickly settled by loquacious Lori,
Euphrasia found time to enquire who the bride was.

"A little girl from Warnicken," said Lori, in a tone of indifference.
"The daughter of a Regierungsrath. She has no fortune, and opinions
differ as to her beauty."

"Oh, heavens, what luck!" sighed Ophelia, "such a wealthy, noble

"Some say," continued Lori, "he had met her at the seaside in a wood,
where she was standing, wreathed in garlands of leaves, like a dryad
just stepped forth out of the trunk of an oak, and there she bewitched
him, as nothing of the sort ever appeared to him in his own forests in
Masuren. Others, on the contrary, say he met her on the sea; it was a
novel kind of fishing, he himself was more the fish than the fisherman,
as she has cast her net with great skill. Who can tell how it occurred?
Besides, it is perfectly immaterial; the principal thing is, that
to-morrow evening there will be dancing under the pear tree."

"But we must return," said Ophelia.

"We only came to fetch you. Herr von Blanden is going from table to
table inviting the people; we must not delay. Doctor Kuhl will
introduce us to him."

"Come, Doctor Reising!"

"There is no such great hurry," said Euphrasia. "I have seen Her von
Blanden several times already, he does not interest me! I do not like
those aristocratic landowners; certainly he looks very different from
the rest; he has a pair of remarkable eyes, but in reality they are all
moulded in the same fashion. So if you like, we will remain here."

But the sisterly rivals would not allow that, their eloquence on the
subject was of such convincing power, or rather was so clad with thorns
of every description, that the Doctor and the heiress of the house of
Baute, found it most advisable to yield.

The visitors at Neukuhren were in a state of great excitement, the
committee of amusement had announced its sittings to be permanent; all
were invited by Blanden; all wished to prove their gratitude at the
betrothal by some act or attention. A concert should precede the dance
under the large pear tree; there was so much young musical talent, that
a large amateur orchestra was easily formed, and all private performers
had brought their instruments with them, so that any one strolling
along the village street of Neukuhren on a quiet summer's evening would
hear, now on the right, now on the left, sounds like wonderful solos of
a separated band of musicians, to which chance often lent discordant
symphony. An assessor who played first upon the cornet, then the
trumpet, made himself most audible; people pretended to remark that the
sea then always became particularly disturbed, as though the Tritons
and Nereides stormed upon the strand because they were jealous of the
competition with their shell-horns. One first and one second violin,
who lived in two stories of the same house, sought to arrange an
impossible harmony between the "Carnival of Venice" and the second's
part in a quartett by Beethoven. The flute was played every evening by
one of the stoutest proprietors in the district of Labian, who blew
everything that he possessed into the holes of that oldest of wooden
instruments. The smallest doctor who practised which the town of pure
reason could produce, played the violoncello; he found numerous
patients amongst his listeners, and had to be sought for behind his
instrument where he was in danger of disappearing. A lawyer, white as
dough, who on account of lack of legal knowledge wished to devote
himself to a diplomatic career, also played the violoncello, and indeed
so well that a brilliant future was prophecied for him as such artistic
performances in drawing-rooms fit people for higher diplomatic posts. A
great kettle-drum was also present in Neukuhren, but in this instance
it belonged to a professional not an amateur: that might be the reason
why, although it had been seen to be unloaded from the carriage, its
existence remained a myth, and the artist seemed to content himself
with one important part of his performance, with counting the pauses in
the time.

The formation of the orchestra was entrusted to an unknown composer,
who, it was said, had the manuscript of four operas lying in his
work-room. One of them was always absent, and wandered about amongst
the different German general-managers, from whom, however, it always
returned home safely, like Noah's dove to the ark, certainly without an
olive or laurel branch; then the next manuscript commenced its
wanderings with similar result. Happily the composer, in addition to
his talents and his scores, still possessed a few hundred thousand
dollars, so that society could pardon his musical tendencies and
performances. Long since he had bought himself a superb _bâton_ in
order one day to conduct one of his operas. With this magic staff in
his pocket, Müller von Stallupönen, as he called himself, in order to
be distinguished from other celebrated Müllers, ran about that day to
make the necessary arrangements, his long hair fluttering in the
breeze, which blew from off the East Sea. In spite of this cooling
element, he was obliged to wipe the perspiration from his forehead,
because it was a toilsome labour to obtain an equal temperature of
disposition in all the coadjutors, and similarity of views about the
pieces of music to be performed. The violoncellist as future
diplomatist, supported him therein with valuable assistance. The little
doctor proved to be the most obdurate, he maintained his opinion
immovably as though it were some consultation beside a sick-bed. A
mixed choral song was also contemplated. In that the fair sex must be
especially begged for their co-operation, so as to give a graceful
counter-balance to the rough, beery student voices of a few lawyers.
The conductor moved about in most amiable _gracioso_ from one seaside
beauty to another, after having first brushed into order his hair which
had been blown about by the sea-breeze. Although this amendment only
remained effectual for a short time, still he appeared to advantage
before the natural _coiffures_ of most of the land-nymphs who allowed
their loosened plaits, which had been dipped in the ocean's waves, to
hang down their shoulders to dry. Both the Fräuleins von Dornau, of
whom Olga had an imposing alto, Cäcilie a brilliant soprano voice at
their disposal, had already made the musical agent happy with their
consent, and his next move was to the Baute family, where he might hope
for a rich musical harvest amongst the seven daughters.

But music's sister-art, poetry, which had not yet been proclaimed as
its Siamese twin, as it was later in the artistic works of the future,
must not be omitted. For Neukuhren possessed a much-made-of visitor in
the young poet Schöner, who on this occasion must tune his lyre, all
the more so because he was a friend of the young betrothed. Her
engagement was really tantamount to a refusal for him, and it was a
strange suggestion that he should celebrate that refusal with his
poetical flowers; but Eva belonged already to his recollections, his
love for her was now but a poetical page in his album; the renunciation
was no longer hard for him. But another difficulty arose, his muse
which was accustomed to sing the dawn of day on the political horizon,
and the resurrection of nations, was not adapted for such domestic
events; he could not discover the right key for it, such social and
drawing-room poetry was not worthy of him, and reduced him to despair.
He sprang up from his work-table and with hurried steps walked up and
down the room. When he began to compose about roses, he always thought
of the sword beneath the roses, the sword of Harmodius and Aristogiton,
that he loved to wield in verse against all tyrants, and that which he
was used to sing of passion's devouring flames was not fitted for a
bridal idyll.

Schöner was obliged to curb his glowing fancy.

At last he had managed to produce a marriage poem, but when he read it
over, he was alarmed at the reminiscences of the bridesmaids' wreath of
violet silk which had slipped in. Schiller certainly had created no
master-piece when he addressed Demoiselle Slevoigt in a nuptial poem--

                 "_Zieh holde Braut mit unserm Segen,
                  Zieh hin auf Hymen's Blumenwegen_."

Yet a few verses reminded one of that poem, and "the wreath's solemn
adornment" had passed unnoticed in his ode. He tore it up angrily,
rushed out into the air, and implored the Muses for only a few original
ideas, that would be suitable for such a purpose, which the most
commonplace mortals do not lack, if ever on a similar occasion they
mount their Pegasus. The super-abundance of genius with which he was
endowed weighed heavily upon him, he longed for the intellectual level
of an impromptu poet, who could daily shake a wedding ode out of his
sleeve. The collegian Salomon was going about at the same time with the
criminal thought of also reciting a sonnet, that he hoped to put
together out of Heine and his extracts, and which should not be so
harmless as an every-day congratulatory poem; he wanted to introduce a
meaning, a fine poisoned meaning, which should only be comprehensible
to the bride, which he intended to plunge into her heart like a
vengeful dagger. In a lonely hollow walk, overgrown with sting-nettles
he scanned the deadly verses on his fingers, until the murderous iambus
flowed evenly upon its four feet without a halting choliambus. Had not
Archilochos written satirical iambi the unhappy objects of which had
hanged themselves in despair, what result might not be attained by a
similar poetical production? What an effect, if he presented a bouquet
to the bride-elect and a wasp flew out of it into her face, furnished
with a sting such as Alphonse Karr's _guèpes_ possessed, which at that
time were so much liked by him!

As the arts, so was also the study of nature called into request, so as
not to be wanting at the bridal ovation. A physician worked earnestly
at the most uncertain of all studies, that of the weather, and gazed
hopefully at the two barometers which he had brought with him to
discover whether, in the evening, the full moon which was
astronomically assured, might not be overcast by clouds of rain, and
whether the dance could be carried out beneath the pear tree
undisturbed by events of nature.

Doctor Reising and his Euphrasia had been towed back by her jealous
sisters to the family table. They arrived exactly at the exciting
moment in which Herr von Blanden introduced his betrothed.

Father Baute, who easily confused his daughters' names, was supported
by Doctor Kuhl, the latter, alarmed at no feminine plural, calling out
one after another as if at muster-roll.

Eva felt strange amongst all the strange faces. None was capable of
inspiring her with immediate interest. Even the prettiest of the
daughters, Lori, had a watchful smile that betokened mischief.

Blanden's invitation was accepted with many thanks. Hardly had he
retired with his betrothed before the Baute family started noisily out
of the respectful silence with which they had listened to the strange
gentleman's words, and suddenly resembled a swarming bee-hive.

All talked at once. "How do you like her? How do you like him?" Those
were the most coherent words which echoed simultaneously from all
sides. Lori's sharp voice was the first to pierce through the noise.

"She cannot long have left her governesses. She is a very nice child,
but the schoolroom clings to all her movements. He is a very different
man. He shows plainly that he has long since passed through school, and
also the school of life."

"She has fine eyes," said Ophelia, opening her own widely.

"But not so fine as yours," said Lori, quickly, "as that is all that
you wished to hear."

"T could not like him," said Marie, "he looks so sleepy."

"That indicates a deep, mental life," said Euphrasia; "when he does
open his eyes, a great deal of intellect lies in them. And he does open
them when anything arouses his sympathies. We all, of course, are very
uninteresting to him, but I like men to whom we are, or appear so."

"Well, then, you have an extensive public upon whom to exercise your
liking," said Lori.

Albertina interrupted a silence of some hours with the thoughtful

"Besides, he has a good figure."

"I imagine her to be most domestic," said Emma, "and that is the
principal matter. She is sure to be at home beside the kitchen fire and
the bread board, and look very pretty there, too. And that is very
important. It is no art to look well in a ball dress."

"My dear Emma," interposed Lori, "that is exactly true art! With the
aid of paint, rouge, and the sculpture of a laced bodice, one must
become a work of art."

"The bride-elect pleases me," said old Baute, wiping his spectacles,
"she is natural," added he, with a melancholy glance at his daughters.

Herbart once maintained that everybody at certain points feels cramped
by society. Professor Baute often, in the midst of his daughters, had
this sensation of being cramped.

"There is something pleasant about her, and certainly it is a healthy
nature. She possesses repose and equanimity, and as thus the mutual
determination of all ideas is connected through one another, she will
also be sensible, she will not give way too much either to strong or
weak affections; I believe we may congratulate this Blanden. He
himself, however, appears to be of a passionate nature. But passions
arise from an immoderately strong or ill-connected mass of conceptions.
There are eulogists of passion. But, according to Herbart's and my
view, it stands in repulsive contrast to all that really belongs to the
well-being of mankind. Passion plays a great part in history. Herbart
cautions us against charging the all-providing spirit of the universe
with this part, it would otherwise resemble Mephistopheles too

Doctor Reising's lips quivered convulsively; he passed his hand through
his hair, and, as soon as Baute again wiped his spectacles, he broke
forth indignantly with the words--

"False, all false! How beautifully Hegel says, it is the cunning of
Reason that makes use of the passions of mankind for its own purposes.
Without passion, nothing great can be done in the world. It is a narrow
view that condemns passion because the compass of its wisdom is
disturbed thereby."

Euphrasia ventured to touch the fanatical private tutor's coat sleeve
in a beseeching manner. Reising understood the slight warning, and
tried to stem the storm of indignation which had taken possession of
him. But Baute said, with great composure--

"Any one who would solve the difficult question according to the causes
of negative judgment, must look upon you, dear Reising, as an original

The young philosopher did not appear to be dissatisfied with the
character assigned to him. He sat down, and pressed Euphrasia's hand
underneath the table.

"In one thing I quite agree with you," said he, in a conciliatory tone,
"my dear Professor, that Fräulein Kalzow is a truly harmonious looking
creature. She is a beautiful, inspired, intellectually animated being."

Euphrasia considered it incumbent upon her to intimate to her future
bridegroom her disapproval of such remarks by a pressure of her foot,
which exceeded any expression of love.

"There is something of the beauty and repose about her," continued
Reising, "something of the blissful majesty and winning loveliness
which is peculiar to a classical ideal."

"Now that is too bad," said Lori, "did he ever utter such absurdities
to us? Pray do not forget that we, too, are classical in our way."

"The infatuation of men!" said Ophelia, "anything new always possesses
a most bewitching charm for them."

Euphrasia had risen poutingly, and crushed her straw hat in her hand;
tall Albertina drew aside from the Doctor as from a criminal. War with
all the daughters had succeeded the peace which he had just concluded
with the father.

Reising, however, assumed an air of being unconscious of this outlawry
which could be read on every countenance. He lighted a cigar, and
stroked the large poodle which Professor Baute had procured in order to
pursue a study of animals' souls, which, as a genuine Herbartian, he
did not class very far beneath those of mankind.

Meanwhile, Blanden had seated himself in a distant arbour with Doctor
Kuhl. Their conversation also turned upon Eva.

"She is also a Principessa," said Kuhl, "and may any day compete with
the fairy of Lago Maggiore as regards the magic of her beauty. I wish
you joy from my heart, dear friend."

"And I feel my happiness, perfectly, fully! It seems to me as if I had
previously only seen the world through a veil, as if I now saw it
clearly and steadily in free and yet decided outlines. All gloomy
over-cloudings of my life have been transformed into sunny vapour, such
as lies upon a bright landscape."

"Indeed, she will relieve Kulmitten from its everlasting tedium," said
Kuhl. "A splendid estate, but there in those woods one must become
melancholy; a covey of wild ducks across the yawning lake alone brings
animation into the lifeless scene. But will she like it?"

"My dear friend, a young wife--"

"Shall live entirely in her husband, I know. But besides that devout
worship, she needs fresh air and sunshine, nor are we indeed gods.
Concerts, theatres, all favourite resources she must dispense with

"She will know how to adapt herself to it; domestic happiness--"

"Now you are beginning to preach! You know desperately little of that
happiness so far; a remedy whose efficacy you have not tried yourself,
without hesitation you calmly prescribe for your wife."

"You see everything in a gloomy light to-day."

"I am not in rosy mood; I, too, have my little annoyances. You will be
happy, I hope, but what may lie dormant in your wife, who can tell?
They often change wonderfully after marriage. Every Pandora, however
beautiful she is, has her box that is filled with evil, and only when
she is married does she raise the cover."

"Those are consoling reflections for a lover."

"She is beautiful, really beautiful, but she has such enthusiastic
eyes. There is something insatiable about all enthusiasm. She will,
perhaps, love you, but she will demand of you that you shall have none
other thought besides her; she will desire to be everything to you,
house and court, state and church, society and philosophy, extract of
all beauty and amiability that exists on earth. Quintescence of all
intellectual advantages that are usually divided amongst various
talents, she will be jealous of the book that you read, of the woman to
whom you speak, of the friend to whom you pour out your heart; for
anything that I know, even of me. _Dixi et animam salvi_," said the
inexorable Doctor, as he pressed his felt hat farther over his brow.

At that moment, Wegen came up breathlessly, a packet of letters under
his arm. Kuhl responded coldly and glumly to his friendly greeting.

"All goes well," cried Blanden's factotum, that cheery friend, whose
cheeks sea air and zeal had combined to redden. "Müller von Stallupönen
is getting a first-rate orchestra together; this evening a grand
rehearsal. The mixed chorus is formed; I, too, sing in it. We shall
only have a couple of light, lively songs; there is not time enough to
bring up the heavy guns; it would take too much trouble. Some of the
male singers have no ears, some of the female ones no voices, and
Müller, as conductor, will be able to wield his ivory _bâton_, with its
silver mounting, just as well. Müller is a good leader, but very rude.
People's position is nothing to him; he treats ladies of the greatest
importance as a policeman would women who were obstructing the way. If
we had to learn a difficult vocal piece, there would be more actions
for damages than notes. But I must away, my good friend."

"I am very grateful to you for your zeal, dear Wegen; but whither are
you going in such haste?" asked Blanden.

"You see I am freighted with music; I am going to Fräulein Cäcilie von
Dornau. She will sing a solo, and I shall accompany her, but we have
not yet decided what we shall select."

Doctor Kuhl's fingers drummed impatiently upon the table.

"I have searched out every note that was to be met with amongst the
principal stars in the heaven of the Neukuhren musicians, and also
amongst the Baute Pleiaides; besides that, I have plundered all pianos
and music cupboards. But I must away, Fräulein Cäcilie expects me."

Wegen bade adieu as breathlessly and hastily as he had arrived. Blanden
looked smilingly at the Doctor, who now sat there with moody glances
and folded arms.

"But tell me, friend, what does this signify? It almost looks as if it
were impious desecration of your sanctuary. Does the flame of the
Dioscuri no longer shine at the mast of your life's ship? Cäcilie, the
beloved one of your intellectual days, appears to have become faithless
to you."

"It is possible," replied the Doctor.

"Friend Wegen at least moves briskly and cheerily in the channel of a
new affection which is surely not to be discouraged, otherwise he would
not be in so roseate an humour."

"I do not know if this Lacertes is escaping me," said Kuhl, with
defiant resignation, "I do not know if it is in earnest or in play when
she shows such particular attention to Herr von Wegen; I almost think
she is playing with us both."

"Is she a coquette, then?"

"All are, women and girls, each in her own manner. I think she will
make fun of me and my views. Yesterday I called her to account for her
response to Herr von Wegen, and she excused herself with the most
charming grace. She quite shared my views; life is much too rich to be
able to restrict oneself; besides, nothing is so ridiculous as
jealousy. She likes me much, but only on her intellectual days;
therefore, for her foolish days, of which she experiences many now, she
has sought out Herr von Wegen. And, at the same time, she smiled so
politely, and made me such a pretty curtsey."

Blanden could not suppress loud merriment at this communication.

"She beats you with your own weapons."

"Laugh away! It drives me to despair! Who can explain to such a sprite,
in solemn earnest, what a great difference exists between man and woman
in restriction of the affections?"

"Nor would that be so easy."

"Simple as a child, I tell you, only I have no inclination to do so at
present. Besides, I am curious to see how far she carries it."

"Perhaps to marriage. Our whole life is only directed towards that, and
you always go groping about in an Utopia with your theories. But girls
have sense and tact, and, at a certain age, they begin to freeze in the
open air, and seek a shelter."

"I shall never believe that Cäcilie belongs to those everyday womanish
natures; but if she be really in earnest with this Herr von Wegen, I
shall know how to console myself. For a rejected lover, there is often
nothing more consolatory than the thought of his successor, for if the
latter belongs to tin soldiers, a man knows, too, in which box he must
pack his beloved one, and that he has been much mistaken if he counted
her amongst living ones. An error is always painful, but it is a
pleasure to find it out; the table must be entirely cleared and laid
again from the beginning."

"Do not forget that Wegen is my friend," said Blanden, seriously.

"As a friend, he may possess great merits. I appreciate his
self-sacrificing zeal; but in a girl, who can be in love with him, I
have been mistaken, and that is my affair. Now farewell, I must go into
the sea! They are tuning the fiddles over there already. I shall get
out of the way of that _dilettante_ howling to-day."

While Kuhl walked, towards the bathing-place, Blanden went in search of
his betrothed. However, the old Regierungsrath, whose countenance was
now filled with unwonted sunshine, informed him that Eva had begged to
be allowed to be quite alone that evening. There were evenings on which
she loved to indulge her thoughts in solitude, and she hoped her
_fiancé_ would grant her that privilege once more on the evening before
her betrothal.

Kalzow declared himself ready to compensate the lonely lover with a
game of _ombre_, at which the Kreisgerichtsrath would assist, and even
a "dummy" was provided, if he should appear to be necessary.

The only young man in Kuhren available, was one who neither sang nor
played upon any instrument, the talented architect, who, on that
evening, would certainly have to sit as "dummy" at all the concert

Blanden assented unwillingly; he was full of ardent yearning for his
betrothed; the wish to see her, to speak to her, being ungratified,
became all the keener in him. How pale appeared the picture that his
imagination sketched of the beautiful girl. It alarmed him that the
outlines sometimes seemed to become confused, and out of that dimness
another picture gazed towards him, which had once been dear to his

He sat down to _ombre_, but his thoughts were absent. He held the most
beautiful _soli_ in his hand and forgot to declare them. Close by, the
noisy orchestral rehearsal was in full swing. These mangled pieces of
music, which Müller von Stallupönen's zeal tore into single bars,
appeared like mockery to him; these discordant, disconnected
instruments, moved _en echelon_ when they ought to march in line.

But yet this rehearsal was arranged to prepare a performance in his
honour, and how dreadful the dissonances that were thus disclosed.

Eva meanwhile sat in her room, which was illumined by the moon,
meditating quietly and deeply. All who are completely absorbed in
another's or their own life, are filled with intense melancholy.
Whether the destinies be sad or bright, their lot always seems worthy
of tears. Yesterday is a dream, to-morrow a question, to-day an
uncertain possession. It is always difficulty to believe in any great
felicity in this world, so abundant in delusions!

How brightly life lay before her! She, the betrothed of a beloved man
of position, of a respected and rich landowner--what had befallen that
shy Eva? What will her school-friends say to this transformation of
fortune? From her adopted father's four narrow walls, she was
transported into a circle in which she could shine, as well as command
and influence. But if, in meditating, these thoughts and fancies just
touched her mind, they wore but the gorgeous setting for the picture of
the man to whom her heart had given itself fully and wholly, whom she
would have followed in poverty and want, yes, even unto death!

It was an overwhelming passion that she cherished for Blanden; she was
almost alarmed at it and her own heart. Was she, then, worthy to be
this excellent man's wife? Amidst tears, she looked into the mirror,
and if she found those features lovely whose reflex gazed upon her,
doubly lovely in the halo of transfiguration which intense emotion shed
upon her, above all she was filled with joy that she was richly dowered
with beauty and charm for him.

And how should she cheer him! The gloomy line had not escaped her which
lay upon his forehead around his eyebrows, the pensive sadness in his
half-closed eyes. Life had done him great injury; all this should be

She felt the power within herself to keep spring-time awake in him; so
mighty were the wish and will in her. And for her, too, what nameless
bliss! What unknown enchantments the future concealed for her in its
lap! How she had thrilled at his ardent kisses! Like the evening's glow
from golden clouds, a dream-like fire had flowed towards her. She
plunged below into the flames, and the flames did not scorch nor burn
her, but pressed themselves around her limbs with a hitherto unknown
feeling of ecstasy and sweet enchantment.

And yet she became so feverishly hot in that dream! She threw the
window open; without, all lay calmly and indifferently in the silvery
coolness of the moonlight. The waves broke upon the shore as they had
done since the beginning of time, unconcerned in the troubles and joys
of men, and only the agonised notes of unperfected music that seemed to
quiver convulsively beneath the conductor's _bâton_, reminded her, as
they fell upon her ears from the Kurhans, of human life and her own
betrothal feast.

She sat at the window, lost in thought. For simultaneously with the
beloved man, another joy entered into her poor life. A touching vision
bent over her; her tears flowed lightly.

The mother, who had so long been kept afar from her, was invited. She
was sure to come to-morrow; could it have been a betrothal feast
without her blessing? In the cold one of her adopted parents lay no
charm which should be able to enchain her destiny; but a mother's every
silent wish must become a blessing. How would she look now? Oh, to gaze
again into those large, touching eyes, to be able to ask her why she
had remained so far away from her daughter; to be able to comfort her,
if she had endured great sorrow--and certainly she must be unhappy! The
wicked world had made her so! All pictures of early childhood rose
again before her, dream-like, unconnectedly. Yet from none was her
mother's countenance absent. Here they sat in an arbour before a
coffee-table, and the mother drove away the wasps which tried to steal
the little daughter's cake; there she stood at a door, behind the
curtained glass panes of which the lights of a Christmas tree were
already gleaming impatiently. She beckoned and called, and all the
festive brilliancy which had delighted the child's heart reflected
itself in the mother's eyes, and as she embraced the latter, the
never-to-be-forgotten tears that she kissed away from those cheeks told
her how intensely she was beloved by the only one who watched over her
life like the eye of Providence! And again she saw herself in a large
park. The mother sat upon a bench, and worked; it was already dusk. Eva
could even now still transport herself entirely into the feelings of
that time--what fear she was in lest her mother might spoil her
beautiful eyes. She cautioned her dear mother, and sprang to the pond
close by--the lights of evening flickered--a splendid water lily
attracted her--Evchen stooped down to gather it, and sank into the
pond. A cry for help--she awoke in her mother's arms, who had torn her
quickly as lightning from out the waves. As she opened her eyes, she
looked into a face smiling beneath its tears; and often in her dreams
appeared her mother's picture, as it had stood before her at that

Infinite yearning, deep emotion, took possession of her; how abundant
was her mother's love, and who had parted her from her daughter,
wrenched her away from that child's heart? She felt that it was not the
mother's will; a dark, spectre-like secret had stepped between the two!
Yet separated, even from a distance, the mother watched over her life,
reckoning up hour after hour of her present and future, and adding them
together in one single divine thought of illimitable love!

Sobbing loudly, she rested her head upon her hand; her eyes did not see
the heavens above, nor the wide ocean--only her mother's picture.

Then she suddenly arose; why this sorrow before a day of joy? To-morrow
the sun illumines their reunion, to-morrow she gives her troth to the
beloved man; she will sleep and dream of all her approaching happiness.

The sounds of music had long been hushed, but through the window rang
the thunder of the sea; it increased with the growing storm. The hoarse
breaking of the waves rocked Eva to sleep; but it was a sleep full of
fear, and a distant angry destiny, into which the noise of the waves
was changed, broke menacingly into her dreams.

                              CHAPTER XII.

                          UNDER THE PEAR TREE.

Kuhl was no friend of betrothal and marriage feasts; he thought such
customs should be left to the savage races of people. For educated
human beings it was most unseemly to announce such quiet secret
happiness to towns and villages as if with the beating of drums. That
eccentric man, therefore, experienced deep dissatisfaction at the
festive mood in which all Neukuhren rejoiced on his friend's betrothal
day, and sought the most lonely paths on the strand in order to escape
the noise of preparations and arrangements. This was not easy; for the
great kettle-drum having once been called into requisition, it shook
the atmospherical waves on every side at the incessant musical
rehearsals, and strove to out-do the roaring of the billows.

That Cäcilie should also take part in these rehearsals, and probably
practise her vocal solo with Wegen, did not conduce to improve his
humour. He had become more indifferent to Olga during those days; was
he not certain of her love. She was all devotion, and, as of old, had
an approving smile for his most daring flights of thought; but that
fugitive, smooth as an eel, occupied all his thoughts, and strengthened
the ill-temper to which he gave himself up so recklessly.

Wegen meanwhile was ubiquitous; now he sat at the piano and accompanied
Cäcilie, then he stood by the carts full of evergreens and overlooked
the decorations of the room. The Chief Forester, who was a friend of
Blanden's, and who was expected on that evening, had proved himself
particularly helpful in supplying garlands of leaves and flowers. Then
again Wegen, with a powerful telling tenor, gave decision and firmness
to the choruses, and during the pauses he might be seen outside under
the pear tree where he had the nature's carpet of the dancing ground
swept by the fair sex of the village. The entire programme of the
entertainment lay in his hands, he was assisted in the arrangements by
the future diplomatist, who, as Wegen's aide-de-camp, sped hither and
thither in equally feverish activity.

The physician declared himself to be perfectly satisfied with the
weather; steady, immovable sunshine was extended over land and sea, and
similar excellent intentions might be expected of the full moon. And
like the sky, Müller von Stallupönen displayed a contented smile the
livelong day. The orchestra surpassed all anticipation, and even the
second violins, whose notes were always dragging behind the rest, had
gradually settled down into correct time. The vocal choruses also
roused the master's satisfaction, but this had not been attained
without dogged interference with the rights of personal liberty. A
first lieutenant's widow and an unmarried young lady of noble birth in
the neighbourhood, whose love for the glorious art of song was an
unhappy one, had proved themselves impervious to the whole _crescendo_
of insults which had been rained upon them from the conductor's desk,
and continued with lamentable obstinacy to sow the tares of false notes
amongst the wheat of the otherwise superb choral singing. No other
means remained but to have recourse to violent measures, and to exclude
the two ladies positively from the body of musical members. They deemed
it impossible to survive this insult in Neukuhren, and on the same
afternoon they migrated to the neighbouring watering-place Rauschen,
and in such haste that the first lieutenant's widow actually forgot to
pay her bills.

Professor Baute's poodle had caused another disturbance; when
accompanied by his master, he had attended one of the rehearsals, at
the room door he suddenly began to bark, and indeed with all the
eagerness of an art-enthusiast. Baute pacified him for a time, but as
the dog again unbridled his enthusiasm, the director made a deferential
observation, which obliged the poodle and his master to leave the room
door. This was very disagreeable for the professor, as he was just
engaged in an examination as to which series of ideas were awakened by
music in an animal's soul, thus causing the dog to bark.

The excitement in Neukuhren, and the want of time were so great that on
this day even sea bathing was forgotten. The bathing-woman could record
that with the exception of Fräulein Olga von Dornau, who did not permit
herself to be disturbed in her habits of life, and would not be
deprived of such daily strengthening of her immaculate health for the
most important occurrences, not one woman plunged into the waves of the
East Sea on that day.

Evening drew on, the full moon's pale outlines in the sky gained a
clearer form as the sun went down, from a cloud it became a planet. The
room resembled a meadow, upon which had bloomed the gayest field and
woodland flowers mostly in light colours, the Baute family especially
appeared like a prismatic rainbow.

Light summer robes, and rigorous ball dresses floated about amongst one
another; Olga wore a ball dress that was cut out in Court style, and
displayed her voluptuous beauty; Cäcilie on the other hand a summer
dress close to the neck, but which, however, displayed her excessively
slight waist most daintily.

The Chief Forester created some sensation amongst the guests by his
giant form and abundant white moustache. Although he was well up in
years, he carried himself with military erectness, and the powerful
tone of his voice awoke the envy of all the basses in the chorus.
Blanden had greeted him with special cordiality, for the latter had
been his father's dearest friend. The young man looked with emotion at
the worthy forest official's grey head, he felt as though the former
represented his father to-day, and shook him congratulatorily by the
hand. Already during the afternoon Professor Baute had contemplated
with great interest the huge bull-dog which the Chief Forester brought
with him, and with his hero's assistance had made its acquaintance. He
had already noted several particular tokens of intelligence, for the
bull-dog clearly occupied a higher position in the scale of animal's
souls than his own poodle.

Wegen had caused a couple of garlanded chairs to be placed upon a small
daïs for the betrothed couple; the other guests sat beside it--elderly
gentlemen and ladies and all those who lacked the muse of the art of
sweet sounds.

Eva, accompanied by her adopted parents, appeared in a simple blue
dress, a wreath of wild flowers in her hair, and amongst them gleamed
the bells of the campanula. What a contrast between her dress and the
townish splendour with which Frau Kalzow had decked herself, even
several doubtful diamonds were not missing. The satin rustled around
her stalwart but bony form, as if in wondering amazement, and as though
it did not belong to her. The old Regierungsrath had brought out his
stiffest neckcloth at the same time as his most solemn demeanour; every
movement told how nearly this festivity concerned him, and what
reflected rays of importance it shed upon his poor self. But it was not
merely in her simple dress that Eva's beauty possessed such a touching
charm. Intense mournfulness that alternated with suddenly aroused
eagerness overspread her countenance. She had been expecting her
mother's arrival during the whole day, she had rushed in feverish haste
to the window as each carriage drove up to the Kursaal, and the
futility of this incessant agitation acted depressingly and
paralysingly at last, so that several times she burst into tears. Frau
Kalzow consoled her with saying her mother might still come; she was
written to punctually, and at the proper time, it was possible that the
letter by some mischance might not have arrived equally punctually. She
did not dare to think of any illness, they would surely have received
the intelligence by writing. Nevertheless, to the bride the whole
betrothal ceremony appeared upset and saddened by her mother's absence.
The good wishes of her women friends offered little compensation for
it, they were mostly but the friends of yesterday. Kanzleirath's Minna
spoke hers really most honestly; she liked Blanden, too, but she was
too phlegmatic to be jealous, and too good natured not to give her best
wishes to every bride upon her path through life.

The room had filled, the village inhabitants pressed around the open
doors, some of the village beauties were invited to the dance beneath
the pear tree. The orchestra commenced the overture to _Der
Freischütz_. While one portion of the householders and fishermen of the
place listened attentively to the music, the others were drawn away by
an unhoped for distraction, because in the garden outside, Doctor Kuhl
amused himself in making Nero and the Forester's bull-dog compete in
jumping over tables and benches, while he declined the delights of the
music in a defiant manner. Only when the spirit-like tremolo of the
"Waldschlucht" had died away and a voice began to sing the Erl-king to
a pianoforte accompaniment, did Kuhl push a table outside against the
window, spring on to it with both dogs, and between the poodle and
bull-dog listened devoutly to his Cäcilie's song, for it was she who,
accompanied by Wegen, executed Schubert's entrancing melody with more
passion than he had given her credit for. When the orchestra then
played Haydn's Symphony in C sharp, Kuhl sprang down again from his
improvised opera-box, and indulged in gymnastic amusements such as are
seen at fairs and annual markets, gradually drawing the interest of the
public standing outside completely away from the dream world of music.
Even the choruses of Mendelssohn's songs, "Come fly with me and be my
wife," and "There fell a frost at midnight's hour," could only rouse
the athletic doctor to momentary attention. "That Müller von
Stallupönen," he muttered to himself, "has already let a frost at
midnight fall upon the flowers of the betrothal-day; what icy cold will
reign later on at that hour!"

Eva sat, stirred with silent emotion, on the decorated chair. So often
as the door was opened, when a late comer arrived, she turned her
glance in that direction, and sprang up from her seat several times, as
if she expected to greet her mother in each lady who entered. Blanden
even perceived her agitation; he enquired its cause, but she did not
venture to confess to him that even on this day she still yearned for
another person, for her mother. Had he not listened very indifferently
to a conversation in which she mentioned her mother, and, as it
appeared, had intentionally broken it off; yes, a friend even told her
she had heard him say to Doctor Kuhl, when passing by, he had quite
enough with one mother-in-law.

At the conclusion, Müller von Stallupönen had arranged for an overture
of his own composition to be performed by his orchestra. What young
composer would allow such a rare opportunity to escape of calling his
musical conceptions into life with real instruments? Blanden and Eva
thanked him politely for that symphony which, from henceforth, he
christened the "Betrothal symphony," and intended to issue to the world
under that title. The audience of visitors had applauded briskly, it is
true, but had really found the deep thoughtfulness of the composition
very tedious. The unlearned lovers of music especially wondered at it;
they like to carry some tune home with them. For the abundant
counter-point and fugues which worked most artistically into and
amongst one another, debarred any one from reaching the enjoyment of
that transitory and despised foam which many half-cultivated people
designate as melody, and which they would gladly extract as easily
gained from the vast undulations of a musical genius penetrating into
the depths.

Now a brilliant entertainment commenced; Blanden and Wegen did the
honours. Eva sat beside Cäcilie, to whom she confidentially
communicated her hopes and fears; that astute Fräulein von Dornau was
not at a loss for reasons with which to pacify the betrothed.
Nevertheless, the latter could not attain a happy state of mind.

"Just look at Evchen," said Lori to her sister Euphrasia. "Does not the
poor child glance incessantly at the door, as if she expected a ghost,
or some former lover, who would put his veto upon this new betrothal?"

"Indeed, in this mixed company," said Euphrasia, "one might easily
imagine oneself transported to a Polish diet, where such 'vetoes' are
the order of the day."

"Cäcilie comforts the poor child," said Lori. "She reposes upon her
laurels. Did you not remark how, when performing the Erl-king, she
looked down upon Herr von Wegen's rather light-coloured head, and with
peculiar fervour, at the words: 'I love you; I'm charmed with your
beautiful form?'"

"Olga," said Emma, "meanwhile enjoys herself intensely at the
supper-table; she has drawn her chair as closely as possible to the
roasted capercailzie, and does her duty by the sweets."

"I believe," said Lori, "that girl has really no soul; she is an
Undine, but of that vigorous species which is only to be found
splashing about at sea-side watering-places. Her body is a dense veil
that hangs around her soul."

"This is a very democratic affair," said the Regierungsrath, as he
pledged the Kreisgerichtsrath in a glass of Madeira. "My son-in-law
enjoys that; I do not like losing myself thus amongst subordinates."

"My old friend," replied the other, "what harm have those two innocent
Secretaries, who enjoy their life here, done to you? You can never take
the cap-button, of which Herr von Blanden told us so amusingly, with
you into the bath below."

"You are an incorrigible democrat," replied Kalzow, annoyed.

Spirits still rose; the attornies begged the young ladies for dances
under the pear tree. One of them had invited the seven Fräuleins von
Baute, one after another, and had their names written down upon his
dancing-card; his friends designated him the possessor of the seven
evil spirits.

Father Baute, meanwhile, had forced young Doctor Reising into a corner,
and declared to him, with elevated champagne glass, that he now boldly
challenged the latter to any discussion, as his ideas stepped more
briskly than ever across the threshold of consciousness, while Reising,
on the contrary, also excited by wine, protested in permitting himself
the daring utterance that consciousness has no threshold, because it
has not been made by any carpenter, and indeed that mode of
philosophising always caused him to imagine himself transported to some
mental timber yard, as, for example, when the formation of ideas was
talked of.

But the Professor became beside himself; with a wide sweeping movement,
he dashed the champagne glass into pieces against the wall.

"You say that to a disciple of Herbart; incredible!"

Reising, who had long since been shocked at his own daring, hardly knew
how to shield himself from the Professor's furious wrath.

Euphrasia, whose entire future threatened to fall into broken
potsherds, approached the opponents, wringing her hands.

Doctor Kuhl's interposition was more powerful; he thrust his Herculean
form between them.

"Peace, sirs! '_In vino veritas_? said one Roman; but 'what is truth!'
said another Roman. Here there is certainly no time to fathom it. Look,
Fräulein Euphrasia appears as an angel of peace; true womanliness was
even able to redeem a thinker like Faust. Let the flag of peace be
waved! We will drink to an alliance between Hegel and Herbart. Neither
Napoleon nor German philosophy ever recognised anything to be

The Kursaal, like Westminster Abbey, possessed a Poet's Corner in which
the admired poet, Schöner, was obliged to permit himself to be
instructed by the school-boy, Salomon, on several important questions
concerning the art of poesy. Salomon had strengthened the consciousness
of his intellectual superiority with several glasses of champagne, and
could not resist pointing out to Poet Schöner, despite all recognition
of his talents, that political lyrics were an unlawful hermaphrodite
species of poetry, inasmuch as one is always led away to subjects about
which leading articles appear in the newspapers. What a totally
different influence a song of Heine or Eichendorff possesses: "_In
einem kühlen Grunde, da geht ein Mühlenrad_."

"The mill wheel in the cool valley, my friend," said Schöner, as he
patted the young connoisseur upon his shoulders with the air of a
protector, "goes round in our heads too long already, and the German
people become so stupid with all that folly, so stupid--let us drink to
your well-being, young poet!"

The glasses clinked. Immediately afterwards both poets relapsed into
deep silence, for each mutely recited the verses which he intended to
declaim under the pear tree. There the betrothal should be proclaimed
before all the assembly, and then only Schöner and Salomon proposed
bringing their Pegasus into action in the arena.

Wegen announced to the hero of the day that all was in readiness
outside. Indeed, merry sounds of village music soon made themselves
heard, which several amateurs and the big kettle drum had joined in the
highest spirits.

The village population moved merrily about. Beside the flags of the
village school, others fluttered, which the watering-place visitors had
hastily improvised. Yes, Doctor Kuhl had even requisitioned the large
one which was hoisted in order to prohibit bathing when the sea was
tempestuous, and this flag, which he never respected, he now bore with
Herculean strength before the procession. The latter had soon been got
into order. Behind Kuhl came the musicians, who had been joined by
numerous girls from the village, with wreaths and garlands. Then
followed the betrothed couple, behind them the parents, then Wegen with
Cäcilie, Reising with Euphrasia, and other pairs, just as they chanced
to find themselves together, or according to previous agreement had
joined one another. Singing merry popular songs, the sailors and
fishermen, with wives and daughters, followed in a noisy throng.

Thus the procession moved towards the big pear tree. The light of the
full moon lay upon the sea and the shore, the sky was glittering with
stars, the sounds of music awoke the distant echoes.

Eva leaned against Blanden in a feeling of silent beatitude, such as
she had not known during the whole day; now she thought only of her
beloved one and the future; in that moment she forgot her mother! Was
not all the rejoicing of these jubilant beings meant for her alone; in
honour of her happiness the music rang, the flags waved--all was
festively adorned.

"Oh, my beloved," she said to Blanden, "to you I owe all this bliss! We
will be happy, as happy for ever, as at this moment."

"My sweet girl!" replied Blanden, pressing her to his heart, "I, too,
feel now as if there were no discords upon earth--despite the village
music," added he, with that variable humour, the play of whose thoughts
he could never control. "But, indeed, nothing is so touching as the
people's pleasure, however it may express itself. So much sadness lies
concealed behind this joy; all the labour of dull, dreary days, all the
struggle to make life bearable for themselves, so much external want,
and many an internal grief, which affects them doubly painfully in that
want. What, in comparison, is the delusive happiness of a joyous
moment? And because this happiness is short and delusive, it disposes
one to sadness."

"Why these melancholy thoughts?" said Eva, "why think of others to-day?
We will care for them all our life, mitigate every want, whenever we
encounter them--this I have vowed to myself; but, on this one day, we
have the right to think only of ourselves, to give ourselves up alone
to the feeling of blissful enjoyment."

"That will we; you are right! Do I not hear, amidst the loud music, the
quiet blue forest bells ring harmoniously, fairy-like, my lovely
campanula! It is a wedding-march of the elves, that only my ear
perceives, for what does the world comprehend of the midsummer night's
dream that we dream together?"

Meanwhile, the procession had arrived at the pear tree, and merry tunes
were played upon the dancing ground above which the moon's rays

Village beauties and lady visitors whirled round in gay confusion; even
father Baute joined the dances, while Reising, uninitiated in that art,
leaned somewhat annoyedly against the old tree's stem. In vain
Euphrasia and her six sisters invited him to dance, and Lori and the
little ones could not suppress a few ill-natured remarks, which were
pointed at the young philosopher's awkwardness.

Blanden perceived, with supreme satisfaction, that the old Chief
Forester opened the dance with Eva; that worthy man, with silvery beard
and the iron cross upon his breast, gave to Blanden's young love the
blessing of the older generation, which, in his own house had become

But for his present struggles, this venerable man was a beautiful
example. Even if he could not attain the fearlessness of such a
sterling nature after spending his life in such wild storms, he could
strive to follow it in steady labour and work, and, like the Forester
in his calling, stand firmly in doing active good.

The music made a pause. Kalzow cleared his throat; he felt that the
moment for the announcement of the betrothal had arrived. Arm in arm,
Blanden and Eva were still resting from the last dance. Then the gentle
roll of wheels upon the soft grass roused their attention. A carriage
drew up; a lady descended and approached the dancing ground through the
opening rows of people.

A white veil, which intercepted the moonlight in a spectre-like manner,
still concealed her features.

Eva's heart beat violently, she released herself from her future
bridegroom's arms, and extended her own to the strange figure.

There could be no doubt; she it was, who was expected so ardently. Then
the stranger threw back her veil; the moon lay full upon refined but
ghastly pale features. Two large eyes, dimmed with tears, rested with
intense pain, like two stars of evil boding, upon the youthful,
beautiful form that hastened to meet her with all the eagerness of

Soon Eva lay upon her mother's heart; in intense rapture, both forgot
the staring crowd.

"How beautiful you have become!" whispered the mother, as she stroked
her daughter's hair and cheeks, buried herself in those gazelle-like
eyes, encircled that slender waist with her arms, "and taller than I!"

"And you still look so young, dear mother, you might be my sister."

"I am rather late. An accident befell the carriage; it broke a wheel. I
still do not know whether I come to you with a blessing or a curse."

"A curse, mother?" Eva asked fearfully.

"And yet--that one went away, far away into the world," said she, as if
speaking to herself. "The family is large; they are the same names."

Meanwhile, Kalzow had drawn near, and received his sister with a solemn
embrace, while Miranda contented herself with offering the tips of her
right hand fingers in sisterly welcome.

Blanden had vouchsafed less attention to this meeting than might have
been expected.

He had once entertained unorthodox views about mothers-in-law; would
neither disturb the daughter's nor the relatives' greeting, and,
remaining averted, he conversed with Doctor Kuhl, who had just emptied
a glass of punch, upon the strengthening properties of that beverage.

Thereupon, Eva went towards him, leading her mother by the hand.

"Max, my mother," said she, as she now left her mother and stood beside
her lover.

She was about to utter his name, when the word died upon her lips.

Pale as death, with an expression of infinite pain, the mother swooned.
Dr. Kuhl caught her in his arms, for Blanden stood as if motionless,
staring at what seemed incredible to him. For a moment it appeared to
him as if the sky, with all its stars, danced above him; as if this
assembly adorned with flags, ribbons and garlands, was but a mirage,
gliding down from out the clouds, and this strange, veiled, unconscious
figure a ghost, that filled his soul with a shudder from the grave.

But though it all came over him with thoughts following quickly as
lightning, like boundless pain, as though a yawning cleft went through
his whole life--as though a ghost-like hand were thrusting him back
when he hoped to attain peaceful bliss, and like the pressure of an
ever-tightening rack, the thought suffused his whole soul that his
betrothal was impossible.

And it was that, which the weak woman now raising herself, seemed to
whisper into her brother's ear, who started back as if stung by an

Tortured with unutterable fear, Eva hastened to and fro. Was that still
the same glittering starlit sky, and the same moon-illumined world,
still the same joyfully-excited crowd? The only sad secret of her life
had risen up in all its magnitude, darkening everything, and casting
unholy shadows upon the happiness of her love. The festive music, the
merry circling dance, seemed to her like mockery. With ready presence
of mind, Dr. Kuhl had given the signal for it to re-commence, so as not
to interrupt the entertainment, and to conceal behind the enjoyment of
the many, that mysterious, crushing occurrence.

"To-morrow, my daughter, to-morrow," said her mother, "to-day, I am
ill, and will seek my room."

Eva looked round, as if imploring aid; all were silent on every side,
and looked upon the ground; Blanden, too, was mute; not one comforting
word that the betrothal should still be promulgated.

Was it then possible? Was it she herself--she--Eva Kalzow, the heroine
of that day, the object of the congratulations, the fêted one, who must
shrink away from this feast like a criminal, into whose face was cast
the bridal wreath which had been snatched from her? What dishonourable
deed had she committed? Did she not stand there as if in a pillory?

Did they not smile scornfully, maliciously--the seven Fräuleins
Baute--at the interrupted feast? Did not her other female friends
whisper mysteriously with speaking glances?

Impossible--it was a fevered dream, an agonising fevered dream--it
could not be so.

What then has happened? With convulsive terror she thought of
possibility after possibility--nothing remained for her but the dull
weight of dismal, fearful foreboding.

Inquiringly she looked up at Kalzow; he shrugged his shoulders.

It was true, then, she was disgraced before everybody. With a
heartrending cry she sank into her mother's arms.

"I shall follow you, mother!" cried she, in a tone of despairing

She turned towards Blanden; he came up to her, pressed her hands--she
saw a tear in his eye.

"Good-night, Eva," said he, with overflowing emotion, in a suffocating

"Good-night"--she felt as in a dream, where, wandering through
subterranean passages, one door is shut noisily after another, and the
sneck closes clatteringly--ever farther on into the deep abyss of

And no word of elucidation--all shared that secret--all kept silence,
even he--was that his love?

Pressing her hand upon her heart, she followed her mother; she looked
round once more.

There he stood, his tall figure drawn up erectly, his pale face seemed
to quiver with some internal struggle. She forgot her own anguish in
his. It was indeed impossible--he could not be lost to her.

The Kalzows and Blanden remained behind, so as not to interrupt the
entertainment by a general departure. Kuhl had declared upon his honour
that sudden indisposition on the part of the bride's mother had called
the former away. Thus people did not allow themselves to be disturbed
in their enjoyment, the bride was soon forgotten, as she was merely the
chance cause of the gay evening dance. Only the two poets went about in
a melancholy frame of mind; the unspoken verses of their _carmina_
passed in pieces through their minds, and bitter regret for the laurels
which the people of Neukuhren had turned for them, and of which they
had been deprived, eat into their souls.

"What does all this mean?" Kuhl asked his friend.

"Follow me to my room, afterwards," replied Blanden.

Early morning which, on the summer's night, dawned with its first
streaks of red on the horizon, only put an end to the enjoyment of the

In the deep silence of that early hour, which brings something
sanctifying with it, after refreshing sleep, something gloomy after a
watchful night, the two friends sat together in a comfortable room,
looking over the wide ocean, whose waves seemed to thrill with kindling
rapture at the first greeting of the young day's orb.

Kuhl had lighted a cigar, and with a cup of Mocca before him, he
listened with unshaken equanimity to the disclosures of his nervously
agitated friend.


[Footnote 1: A common or moorland covered with heather, merely
so-called in East Prussia.--_Translator's Note_.]

[Footnote 2: The art designation of the Nankin Academy. _Wald_
signifies forest or grove; _Pinsel_ paint-brushes and simpletons: hence
the joke is lost in translation.--_Translator's note_.]

[Footnote 3:

            The lark it was, not the nightingale,
            Come arise from your quiet-laden slumber,--
            The fires are ready on every side,
            The sacred fires, without number.]

[Footnote 4: The quotations from Heine are borrowed from E. A.
Bowring's, those from Schiller from Lord Lytton's
translations.--_Translator's Note_.]

                             END OF VOL. I.

                           *   *   *   *   *
      Printed by Remington & Co., 5, Arundel Street, Strand, W.C.

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