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Title: In Paradise - A Novel. Vol. II
Author: Heyse, Paul, 1830-1914
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.

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[Transcriber's Notes:

  1. Page scan source:
     http://www.archive.org/details/inparadiseanove01heysgoog

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



                     COLLECTION OF FOREIGN AUTHORS,

                                No. XII.

                           *   *   *   *   *

                              IN PARADISE.

                                VOL. II.



                     COLLECTION OF FOREIGN AUTHORS.


I. _SAMUEL BROHL AND COMPANY_. A Novel. From the French of Victor
Cherbuliez. 1 vol., 16mo. Paper cover, 60 cents; cloth, $1.00.

II. _GERARD'S MARRIAGE_. A Novel. From the French of André Theuriet.
Paper cover, 50 cents; cloth, 75 cents.

III. _SPIRITE_. A Fantasy. From the French of Théophile Gautier. Paper
cover, 50 cents; cloth, 75 cents.

IV. _THE TOWER OF PERCEMONT_. From the French of George Sand. Paper
cover, 50 cents; cloth, 75 cents.

V. _META HOLDENIS_. A Novel. From the French of Victor Cherbuliez.
Paper cover, 50 cents; cloth, 75 cents.

VI. _ROMANCES OF THE EAST_. From the French of Comte de Gobineau. Paper
cover, 60 cents; cloth, $1.00.

VII. _RENEE AND FRANZ_ (Le Bleuet). From the French of Gustave Haller.
Paper cover, 50 cents; cloth, 75 cents.

VIII. _MADAME GOSSELIN_. From the French of Louis Ulbach. Paper cover,
60 cents; cloth, $1.00.

IX. _THE GODSON OF A MARQUIS_. From the French of André Theuriet. Paper
cover, 50 cents; cloth, 75 cents.

X. _ARIADNE_. From the French of Henry Greville. Paper cover, 50 cents;
cloth, 75 cents.

XI. _SAFAR-HADGI_; or, Russ and Turcoman. From the French of Prince
Lubomirski. Paper cover, 60 cents; cloth, $1.00.

XII. _IN PARADISE_. From the German of Paul Heyse. 2 vols. Per vol.,
paper cover, 60 cents; doth, $1.00.

XIII. _REMORSE_. A Novel. From the French of Th. Bentzon. Paper cover,
50 cents; cloth, 75 cents.

XIV. _JEAN TETEROL'S IDEA_. A Novel. From the French of Victor
Cherbuliez. Paper cover, 60 cents; doth, $1.00.

XV. _TALES FROM THE GERMAN OF PAUL HEYSE_. Paper cover, 60 cents;
cloth, $1.00.

XVI. _THE DIARY OF A WOMAN_. From the French of Octave Feuillet. Paper
cover, 50 cents; cloth, 75 cents.



                                   IN

                                PARADISE

                               _A NOVEL_


                           FROM THE GERMAN OF
                               PAUL HEYSE



                                VOL. II



                                NEW YORK
                        D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
                          549 AND 551 BROADWAY
                                  1879



                              COPYRIGHT BY
                        D. APPLETON AND COMPANY,
                                 1878.



                              IN PARADISE.



                               _BOOK IV_.



                               CHAPTER I.


A mile or two from Starnberg, on the shore of the beautiful lake,
stands a plain country-house, whose chief ornament is a shady and
rather wild little park of beeches and cedars. This stretches from the
highway that connects Starnberg with the castle and fishermen's huts of
Possenhofen, down to the lake--a narrow strip of woodland, separated
only by picket fences from the neighboring gardens, so that a person
wandering about in it is scarcely aware of its boundaries. The
house itself is equally small and simple, and contains, besides one
good-sized apartment, with several sleeping-rooms to the right and
left, only a turret-room in the upper story, whose great north window
shows at the first glance that it is a studio. From it can be seen,
over the tops of the cedars, a bit of the lake, and beyond it the white
houses and villas of Starnberg, at the foot of the height from
whose summit the old ducal castle--now converted into a provincial
court-house--rises like a clumsy, blunt-cornered box.

Some years before, a landscape painter had built this modest summer
nest, and had made his studies of cloud and atmosphere from this turret
window. When he died, childless, his widow had made haste to offer the
property to the one among her husband's acquaintances who passed for a
Cr[oe]sus; thus it was that the villa came into the possession of
Edward Rossel, to the great surprise and amusement of all his friends.
For our Fat Rossel was known as an incorrigible and fanatical despiser
of country life, who was never tired of ridiculing the passion of the
Munichers for going into the mountains for refreshment in summer, and
who preferred, even in the hottest weather, when none of his friends
could hold out in the city any longer, to do without society altogether
rather than to give up the comforts of his city home even for a few
weeks.

He maintained that this sentimental staring at a mountain or woodland
landscape, this going into ecstasies over a green meadow or a bleak
snow-field, this adoration of the rosy tints of sunrise and sunset, and
all the other species of modern nature-worship, were nothing more or
less than a disguised form of commonplace, thoughtless indolence, and
as such certainly not to be condemned, particularly by so zealous a
defender of _dolce far niente_ as himself. But they must not suppose
that this particular form of idleness was the highest and worthiest of
human conditions; at the best the benefit which the mind and soul
derived from it was not greater than if one should look over a book of
pictures, or listen for hours to dance-music. Let them drivel as much
as they liked about the sublimity, beauty, and poetry of Nature, she is
and remains merely the scenery, and the stage of this world first
begins to repay the price of admission when human figures make their
appearance upon it. He did not envy the simplicity of a man who would
be willing to sit in the parquet all the evening, staring at the empty
scene, studying the woodland or mountain decorations, and listening to
the voice of the orchestra.

To this the enthusiastic admirers of Nature always responded: It was
well known that his ill-will toward Nature arose from the fact that no
provision had been made for a comfortable sofa and a French cook at all
the beautiful spots. He never made the slightest attempt to defend
himself against these hits, but, on the contrary, he maintained in all
seriousness, and with much ingenuity, his argument that a thinking
being could derive more enjoyment of Nature, and a deeper insight into
the greatness and splendor of the creation, from a _pâte de foie gras_
than from watching a sunrise on the Rigi, with sleepy eyes, empty
stomach, and half-frozen limbs enveloped in a ridiculous blanket--a
melancholy victim, like his neighbors, to Alpine insanity. Whereupon he
would cite the ancient races who had never known such an exaggerated
estimate of landscape Nature, and yet, for all that, had possessed the
five senses in enviable purity and perfection, and had been very
intellectual besides. It is true, they had not known the celebrated
"Germanic sentiment;" but there was every probability that the decline
of the arts dated from the uprisal and spread of this epidemic, for
which reason it was particularly out of place for artists to favor this
sort of _Berghuberei_ (as the Munichers call the country fever), with
the exception, of course, of those who get their living by it--the
landscape, animal, and peasant painters--a degenerate race of whom Fat
Rossel never spoke without drawing down the corners of his mouth.

But much as he liked to disparage German sentiment, he could not find
it in his heart to refuse the widow of the landscape-painter when she
offered him the house on the lake for a price that could hardly be
called low. Without any further inspection of the place he concluded
the bargain, and, without changing a muscle, quietly suffered the
malicious laughter which burst upon him from all sides to die out. "To
possess something," he said, calmly, "was not at all the same thing as
to be possessed by something." For that reason he would not need to
join in their raving, merely because he found himself among people who
were crazy and enraptured. And, true to his theory, whenever he was at
his villa he pursued his usual comfortable sybarite life, and
maintained that Nature had very great charms if one only looked at it
with one's back.

He had had the house, which was built in a rustic style, most
comfortably fitted up, with a great variety of sofas, rugs, and
easy-chairs, and always had this or that friend with him as a guest; so
that even the studio above the tree-tops, in which he himself never set
foot, was not altogether lost to its proper use. Heavenly repose, he
used to say, would not be nearly as sublime if there were not mortals
in the world to bestir themselves and cultivate the field of art with
the sweat of their brows.

Now, this year he had taken his æsthetical opposite, good Philip
Emanuel Kohle, out with him; had quartered him in the chamber to the
left of the little dining-room--he himself occupying the one on the
right--and it is almost unnecessary to add, had given him the exclusive
use of the studio. For the rest, they only met at dinner and supper,
since the morning slumbers of the host lasted too long for the
industrious guest to wait breakfast for him. Moreover, they could never
come together without getting into some discussion, which was always
welcome to Rossel, and, as he asserted, highly favorable to his
digestion at any time of the day except in the morning. The more he saw
of him the more pleasure Rossel took in this singular, self-communing
man, who, bloodless, insignificant-looking, and unsophisticated as he
seemed, bore about with him a truly royal self-respect, and the
consciousness of immeasurable joys and possessions, without for a
moment demanding that any mortal being should acknowledge his inherent
sovereign rights.

Then, too, though he was so unassuming and so thankful for proffered
friendship, he conducted himself toward his host with perfect freedom,
for he held the most sublime doctrines in regard to the earthly goods
that were lacking in his own case, but were so richly at the disposal
of his friend.

A little veranda, with a roof supported on wooden pillars and overgrown
with wild grape-vines, had been built out into the lake. A table and a
few garden-chairs stood upon it, and from it one could look far away
over the beautiful, unruffled water and the distant mountains. At night
it was delicious to lean over the balustrade and see the moon and stars
dancing in the waves. The nights were still warm, and the scent of the
roses was wafted over from the garden; on a day like this one could sit
in the open air until midnight.

Fat Rossel had seated himself in an American rocking-chair, with his
back toward the lake; a narghili stood by his side, and on the table,
in a cooler, was a bottle of Rhine wine, from which he filled his own
and his friend's glass from time to time. Kohle sat opposite him, his
elbows resting on the table, his shabby black hat pulled down over his
forehead, from beneath which his eyes gleamed fixedly and earnestly out
of the shadow like those of some night-bird. They appeared to be
magically attracted by the lines of silver that furrowed the lake, and
it was only when he spoke that he slowly raised them to the level of
his friend's high, white forehead, from which the fez was pushed back.
Rossel wore his Persian dressing gown, and his silky black beard hung
picturesquely down upon his breast. Even in the moonlight Kohle looked
very shabby in comparison with him, like a dervish by the side of an
emir. The truth was, Kohle had but one coat for all times of the day
and year.

"You may say what you like, my dear friend," said Fat Rossel,
concluding a rather long dispute about the difference in character
between the North and South Germans--he himself was from Passau and
Kohle from Erfurth--"there is one talent you people on the other side
of the Main are lacking in; you can swim excellently, but you can't lie
on your back and let yourself drift. Didn't I drag you put here to this
tiresome summer retreat because your aspect had become positively
unbearable to a flesh-painter, your skin having dried to a respectable
parchment, and you standing in danger of composing yourself into an
early grave? And now you don't do anything better out here; but consume
one yard of paper after another, while the shadows in your face grow
blacker from day to day. Why are you in such haste, my dear Kohle, to
produce things for which no one in the world is waiting?"

Kohle's pale face never moved a muscle. He slowly drank a few drops of
wine from his glass, and then said, calmly:

"Forbid the silkworm to spin!"

"You forget, my dear godfather, that the worm you cite as your model
has at least the excuse that it spins silk. If you could get so far as
to do that, the thing would have a practical purpose. But your
spinning--"

"Now you are talking again against your better convictions,"
interrupted the other, coolly, "There are more than enough people
nowadays who pursue their so-called art for a practical purpose. Just
listen once when our colleagues talk about their 'interests.' One would
imagine he was at the Bourse: for this picture, five thousand gulden;
for that, ten thousand, or even twenty and twenty-five thousand; and
that a certain artist has an annual income of so and so much, and owns
several houses besides--these things make up the motive power of an
incredible number of them. Their pictures have no longer a value, but
merely a price. How to go to work and make an equal amount from the
fabrication of painted canvas, that is the pivot on which all the labor
of an artist's fancy turns, instead of steering straight for the thing
itself, as it ought by rights to do. Well, I have nothing in common
with this worm that nourishes itself by crawling about in the dust. But
what does it matter to me whether I spin silk, or only a plain thread
that delights me alone, and from which I can beat my wings and soar
away into space?"

"You are a thousand times too good for this century of banks and
bourses, my dear enthusiast!" cried Rossel, with a sigh of honest
admiration. "But, even though you despise the golden fruit on the tree
of life, still all sorts of other things flourish there, which even the
best of men need not be ashamed to find beautiful and desireable: for
instance, fame or love, upon which you also turn your back with sublime
contempt. Your life is quite as earnest as your art, and yet you know
what Schiller says. If you go on in this way a few years longer, your
flame of life will have consumed all its wick; and the magic-lantern
pictures which the light has thrown on the dark background of your
existence will go down with you into eternal night."

"No!" cried the other, and his yellow face lit up with a red flush. "I
do not feel this fear! _Non omnis moriar!_ Something of me will be left
behind; and though you may be right that no glory will come to me
during my life, a soft shimmer of posthumous fame will warm my bones
under the ground, of that I am certain. For better times are coming, or
else may God take pity on this wretched world, and dash it to pieces
before it becomes one vast dung-heap from which no living flower will
spring. Many a day when I have begun to lose faith, amid the
wretchedness of the present, I have repeated to myself those comforting
verses of Hölderlin's about the future of mankind."

"Now don't bring in your Hölderlin as a bondsman for yourself," cried
Rossel. "To be sure, he was just as unpractical and as little suited to
the times as you; and, moreover, one of those erratic fellows who have
strayed out of the grand Greek and heathen worlds, and lost themselves
in our shallow present--an artist for art's sake, a dreamer and
ghost-seer in broad daylight. But for all that, he knew very well what
makes life worth living; and though he despised gold, and did not run
after fame very eagerly, he took love so seriously that he even lost
his reason over it. But you, my dear Philip Emanuel--"

"Are you so certain that I am not on the straight road to it?" Kohle
interrupted, with a peculiar, half-shy, half-bashful smile. "It is
true, neither this nor that particular beautiful woman has caused me to
tremble for the little sense I possess. But the woman and the beauty
which I, being what I am--"

He broke off, and turned round in his chair, so as to present only his
profile to his friend.

"I don't understand you, godfather."

"The thing is simple enough, I have never found a beautiful woman who
claimed so little of a suitor as to be willing to take up with my
insignificant self; that is to say--for I despise alms--who could
seriously be satisfied with this drab-tinted sketch of a human figure
that bears my name. And as I am too ignorant of the art of making the
best of it, and seeking out a sweetheart who shall be suited to me in
all ways and shall bear the stamp of the same manufactory, I stand but
a poor chance so far as love is concerned. You will laugh at me,
Rossel, but, in solemn earnest, the Venus of Milo would not be
beautiful enough for me."

A short pause ensued. Then Rossel said: "If I understand you rightly, I
must confess that I don't understand you at all. Besides, your estimate
of woman is quite wrong. What you want is a husband; some one who shall
show you that she is lord and master, and not a mere puppet. Put aside
both your humility and your arrogance, and pitch in whenever you
stumble upon a cheerful life. However, do just as you see fit. Who
knows but what some time the Venus of Milo herself will take pity on
you for having passed over all lesser women-folk in order to wait for
the goddess?"

"And what if she has already appeared to me, ay, has visited me day by
day up there above the tree-tops?" said Kohle, with a mysterious smile.

He pointed with his hand toward the studio, whose window sparkled
softly in the starlight.

Rossel stared at him in amazement.

"You fear I am on the point of breaking into a divine frenzy," laughed
the little man. "But I haven't yet confounded dreams and reality. That
I have seen her, and have learned from her all sorts of things that
other mortals do not yet know, is certain. But I believe myself that I
only dreamed all this. It was on my very first morning out here. The
evening before I had been reading the _Last Centaur_. The birds woke me
very early, and then I lay for a few hours with closed eyes, and the
whole story passed before me in a continuous train."

"What story?"

"I am now at work sketching it, after my own fashion, against which you
will protest again. There is a cyclus of six or eight pictures--shall I
tell you the story just as I am building it up in outline? It ought
properly to be told in verse, but I am no poet. Enough, the scene opens
with a mountain-cliff somewhere or other, the Hoesselberg, let us say,
or any other mythological fastness in which a goddess could have lived
apart from the world for a few centuries. From out it steps our dear
Venus of Milo in proper person, leading by the hand a half-grown boy,
who is no less a person than the little Amor. They are both but
scantily clad, and gaze around with wondering eyes upon a world that
has greatly changed since last they saw it. A city lies before them,
with battlements and towers of strange shape standing out against the
sky. Horsemen and pedestrians are coming out of the gate, dressed in
bright-colored garments of a peculiar cut, which were nowhere in
fashion in the world when the old gods were worshiped. The sky is
clouded over, and a drizzling rain is gently falling, which forces the
lady and her little boy to seek another place of refuge, since they can
no longer find their way back to their old retreat. Yet they lack the
courage to enter the town, with its swarming mass of human beings. But
in the mountain over across the valley stands a high stone building,
from which a tower, with a beautiful chime of bells, seems to ring out
over the land an invitation for all men to draw near. It is true, this
cannot be expressed in the sketch, but then the cloister over on the
hill must have something homelike about it, so that everybody will
understand why the fugitives, standing below in the rain, under shelter
of a laurel bush, are gazing up at it with longing eyes. And now,
when the sun breaks forth again, they muster up their courage and knock
at the cloister gate. The nuns rush out at the cry their sister
gate-keeper utters when she sees this queenly woman, with the
black-eyed child of the gods, standing on the threshold, both half
naked, and with their blonde hair falling about their shoulders. Then,
too, as is natural, the nun understands no Greek, which would have
enabled her to interpret the stranger's request for hospitality; nor
can the abbess herself make out anything more as to the strangers'
origin and character. But of one thing she is certain--this is not a
strolling beggar of the usual sort. Thus, in the third picture, we see
Madame Venus sitting in the refectory seeking to still her hunger; but
the food is too coarse for her, and she tastes nothing but the cloister
wine. They offer her a coarse, woolen nun's-dress, which, however, she
scorns to wear. The only other dress they have on hand is the thin gown
belonging to a beggar who died in the cloister a short time before.
This she consents to put on; and although, here and there, her
beautiful white skin peeps through a tear in the old rags, she seems to
think this better than to be confined in the black shroud of the
sisters. Her little boy has also been provided with a shirt, and is now
being passed around from hand to hand, and lap to lap; for each of the
nuns is eager to caress him. While they are sitting thus, on the best
of terms, the priest of the place comes to have a talk with the abbess.
He suspects something wrong, and stands on the threshold, dumb with
amazement, and devours this strange beggar-woman with his eyes. But the
little rascal of a boy goes up to him, and succeeds in making his
reverence fall over head and ears in love with the strange lady, and
scatter his older sentiments for the abbess to the four winds. A fourth
sheet shows him as he strolls up and down the little cloister garden
with Madame Venus, passionately declaring his love. At the window
stands the pious mother of the convent, torn with jealousy; and it
requires little imagination to foresee that her ecclesiastical friend
has hardly turned his back before this dangerous guest is, under one
pretext or another, thrust rudely forth into the wide world again, with
her little boy--who is tired, and would have liked to sleep instead of
having to wander about in the stormy night. But a house or hut is
nowhere to be found, while, on the other hand, suspicious-looking
groups pass by them: gypsies, who cast covetous eyes at the beautiful
child; and one of them--a wicked, toothless old hag--actually catches
him by the skirts of his little gown. But, fortunately, he glides out
of her hands like an eel, and flies into the thicket, and his mother
after him: who is so lost in thought that she scarcely heeds the
danger. 'Where can all the others have gone?' is the question over
which she broods ceaselessly.

"I don't know yet, myself, whether I shall show any more of her
adventures by the way. Every day something new occurs to me, with which
I might illustrate, both humorously and seriously, how, homeless and an
outcast, this beauty had to beg her way through this sober world of
ours. But, whenever she appeared at the door of simple and natural
beings, she needed to utter no word, and not even to stretch out her
hand. She touched the hearts of all; and every one--though here and
there with a secret shudder--gave her from his poverty as much
as he could spare. Young people, upon whom she had bestowed but a
single glance, left house, and home, and calling, and wandered after
her--through populous regions as well as through the wilderness--until,
in their dreamy blindness, they fell over steep precipices, or into
raging torrents, or came to an untimely end in one way or another. But
she herself, growing sadder and sadder, wandered along her way, and
thought of the times when the mortals who beheld her grew blissful and
happy and not wretched, and when they gave banquets in her honor, and
laid the most beautiful gifts at her feet; then she was a goddess, with
a train of followers whose numbers were incalculable.

"Brooding in this way, she comes one evening to a celebrated pilgrims'
chapel, lying in a charming little valley, and shaded on all sides by
evergreen trees; and it is so late that no one observes her as she
enters into the empty sanctuary with her boy--who is weary, and whose
feet are sore--still holding fast to the skirts of her beggar's gown.

"Only the eternal lamp is still burning before the altar, but the moon
shines through the arched windows, and it is as bright as day within.
The godlike woman sees a brown, wooden, life-sized figure seated on a
high throne. Two glass eyes glare upon her, and on the head flames a
golden crown; a mantle of red velvet falls about the angular shoulders,
and on her knees lies a wax child in swaddling clothes. She approaches
quite near, and touches the mantle, and plucks at the heavy folds;
whereupon the clasp on the neck of the image becomes unfastened, and
the lean, wooden body appears, looking ghastly enough. A shudder creeps
over the beautiful woman as she sees this image before her in all its
lean, worm-eaten ugliness. 'Ah!' she thinks to herself, 'this
princess's mantle will become me better than it does that old piece of
carving!' and begins to wrap herself in its heavy folds, which give
forth an odor of incense; and then she sets the crown on her head, and
asks her boy whether she pleases him. But he only blinks at her a
little, for he is tired to death. Then she takes pity on the poor
child, lifts the image from its gilded throne, and the wax infant rolls
to the ground and is dashed to pieces. She does not heed this, however,
but mounts the steps and seats herself in the chair under the canopy,
and the little Amor nestles warm in her lap, and, half covered by the
velvet mantle, falls asleep on her heavenly bosom. All around her it is
still; no sound is heard but the whirr of the bats as they fly hither
and thither under the high dome, not daring to light on the crown of
the stranger as they were accustomed to do upon the wooden image, being
frightened away by the brightness of her eyes; until at last the eyes
close, and the mother and son sleep quietly on their throne above the
altar.

"In the early morning, even before the pilgrims who are encamped all
about the chapel have awakened, a young man comes along the road,
and, thinking no evil, enters the open portal, through which the gray
light of morning has just begun to steal. He has often seen the
wonder-working image that was worshiped here, but has never found that
it exerted any particular power upon himself. And now he merely goes in
and kneels down in a corner to let his heart commune with its God. But
as his eyes roam absently about the chapel they encounter the divine
apparition on the altar, sending a shock full of bliss and longing,
adoration and rapture, to the very depths of his heart. Just at this
moment the divine woman opens her eyes, makes a movement--which also
wakes the boy--and has to think a little before she can remember where
she is and how she came there. Her look falls upon the youth, who
stands there gazing up at her, looking so handsome and earnest, and as
if he were turned into a statue. She smiles graciously upon him, and
moves her hand in token of greeting. Then a holy dread overcomes him,
so that he flies from the chapel, and it is only when he is alone in
the solitary wood that he recalls what he has seen, and realizes what a
miracle has been revealed to him. And immediately the yearning comes
back to him. Like a drunken man he staggers back to the chapel, where
he finds the pilgrims already at their first mass. But the marvelously
beautiful lady with the boy has vanished; the wooden Madonna is again
enthroned under the baldachuin, and even a wax child lies upon her lap,
for the priests have supplied the place of the broken one by another.
Everything is in its old place, only the crown sits a little aslant on
the brown, wooden head, for the sacristan has not succeeded in
repairing the mysterious destruction any better. But the youth turns
his steps homeward, and bears about with him, through his whole life,
the after-glow of this wonderful apparition; striving always to
represent, to his fellowmen who had not beheld it with their own eyes,
how she had looked upon him--at first earnestly and dreamily, and then
with a winning smile--and how the boy, with his wondering gaze, had
illuminated everything about him, as if with balls of fire. And in his
efforts to do this--for he was an artist--he has attained to greater
and greater power and influence over his fellow-men, and each time has
succeeded better in catching the face; and that is the secret which can
be found in no history of art--the reason why this young Raphael has
become the greatest of all painters, and his picture of the Madonna
surpasses all others in beauty and in power."



                              CHAPTER II.


"By all the good spirits, but you are a poet!" cried Rossel, and he
sprang up with so unusual an alacrity that his red fez slipped off his
head.

"A poet!" responded his modest friend, with a sad smile. "There, you
see how low we have sunken nowadays. If it ever occurs to one of us to
let any idea enter his head that goes beyond a whistling shoemaker's
apprentice, or some celebrated historical event, or a bathing nymph, he
must immediately hear himself scouted as a poet. Those old fellows like
Dürer, Holbein, Mantegna, and the rest, were left unmolested to spin
into fables whatever struck them as beautiful or odd. But, nowadays,
the doctrine of the division of labor is the panacea for all things;
and if a poor fool of a painter or draughtsman works out for himself
anything which a poet could by any possibility put into verse, people
immediately come running up with Lessing's 'Laokoön'--which, by the
way, no one thinks of reading nowadays--and prove that in this case all
bounds have been overstepped. If a poor devil of an artist has a fancy
for poetry, why doesn't he go to work and illustrate? After all, it is
a trade that supports its man, and one who follows it can be a
thorough-going realist, and can easily guard himself against all danger
of infection from poetry. But an arrogant wight of an idealist, whom
the world refuses to keep warm, and who, therefore, must take care not
to let the sacred fire go out on the hearth of his art--"

"You are getting warm without cause, my dear Kohle!" interposed the
other. "Good heavens! it is indeed a breadless art, that of the poet,
but a deadly sin it certainly is not; and I, for my part, could almost
envy you for having such ideas as those you have just been telling me.
I'll tell you what--finish your plans, and then we will both of us
paint this beautiful story of Dame Venus inside there on the wall of
our dining-room. The devil must be in it, if we don't succeed in
producing something that will throw the Casa Bartoldi deep into the
shade."

He knew when he said this what a great proposal he had let fall upon
the listening soul of his friend.

Kohle, like all art apostles of his stamp, despised easel and oil
painting, as it is usually practised. On the other hand, the great aim
of his longing and ambition was to be able, just for once, to wield his
fresco brush to his heart's content on a wall a hundred feet long; and
his friends were fond of plaguing him about a wish that had once
escaped him--"My life for a bare wall!" Heretofore no one had been
willing to entrust him with a square yard of his house, or even of his
garden, for this purpose. And now, suddenly, he had only to put forth
his hand, and see his greatest desire for monumental art-creation
fulfilled.

At first he could not believe in such overwhelming good-fortune. But
when the look of glad surprise and trembling doubt which he cast upon
his host encountered a perfectly serious face, he could no longer hold
himself in his chair. He sprang to his feet, threw his shabby black hat
high into the air, and, with outstretched arms and glowing face,
prepared to throw himself upon his friend, who was slowly strolling
back and forth. "Brother!" he cried, in a half-stifled voice, "this--
this--" But Rossel suddenly stood still and made a motion with his
hand, which checked the enthusiast in the very height of his wild
excitement.

The remembrance of a similar moment, when his heart had overflowed
toward his friend, and he had been upon the verge of formally offering
him "good-comradeship," came back to him with a rude shock. Then the
word had not yet passed his lips, when Rossel, at the very same moment,
though apparently without intention, had begun to speak of his aversion
to the display of tenderness among men, and had frightened away this
outburst of brotherly affection. And could it be that even now the ice
was not to be broken between them, and that this fulfillment of the
dearest wish of his life was nothing but the favor of a gracious
patron, a whim on the part of the rich host toward the poor devil who
sat at his hospitable table? His proud, sensitive soul was just on the
point of revolting against this, when from afar off a sound struck upon
his ear, which, as he instantly perceived, had been heard by Edward
sooner than by him, and which had been the cause of his gesture of
repulse. The soft notes of a flute came wafted to them over the lake,
nearer and nearer to the spot on the bank where Rossel's villa stood.

"It is he!" said Rossel. "Even the peace of night is not so sacred as
to guard defenseless beings from the attacks of this romantic amateur.
Look here, Kohle, see how the boat is just floating out of the shadow
into the silvery path of the moon--Rosebud stands erect in the centre,
like Lohengrin; and that tall figure at the tiller is undoubtedly
Elfinger's high-mightiness--they are making straight for our
balcony--well, let the will of the gods be done!"

The notes of the flute died away in a melting trill, and immediately
afterward Rosenbusch sprang ashore. "_Salem aleikum!_" he cried, waving
his hat. "We make our attack from the side of the lake, obeying
necessity and not our own desire, for a mouse-hole where two travelers
might lay their heads for the night couldn't be had in Starnberg for
all the gold of California. Saturday and this beautiful weather have
lured half Munich out there. I immediately thought of you, old boy, and
told Elfinger, who thought it would be presumptuous for us to force
ourselves on you without a special invitation, that, in addition to all
sorts of oriental qualities which are hateful to me, you also possessed
three most estimable ones--namely, a number of superfluous divans,
excellent coffee, and a spirit of hospitality worthy of a Bedouin.
Consequently, that, unless your shady roof chanced to be sheltering a
few odalisques who had already taken possession of all the couches, you
would not turn us away from your threshold. At the worst, it won't be
any great misfortune to two jolly juveniles like ourselves to pass a
night, just for once, on the floor of a fishing-boat.

           'Upon the laughing wave below,
            The stars are mirrored bright;
            The mighty heights that frown around
            Drink in the mists of night,'"

he sang, to an air of his own composing, his eyes turned upon the
mountains that lay hazy in the distance.

"You are welcome to my poor roof," responded Rossel, with gravity,
cordially shaking hands with the actor, whom he greatly esteemed, and
whose modesty caused him to hang back a little. "All the divans I
possess stand at your service; and of blankets, too, there is no lack.
I only hope, for your sake, that you have already satisfied the grosser
wants of the body. Our daily supply of provisions is exhausted, and
there is no attendant spirit at hand whom I could send to the neighbors
in quest of aid. I have only old Katie out here, and she--"

"Does she still live, that venerable virgin with the silver locks, who
thinks how she might have had children, and grandchildren, and shakes
her head?" cried the battle-painter. "Come, Elfinger, it behooves us to
go and offer our homage to the lady and mistress of the house."

"You will have to curb your impatience until morning, my dear Rosebud;
the old woman has taken it into her head to relieve the loneliness of
the long winter out here on the lake by making _Enzian schnapps_, and
diligently devotes herself the whole summer long to the consumption of
her own manufacture, so that she is good for nothing after eight
o'clock. The most tender flute-serenade would not wake her from her
deathlike Enzian sleep. Were it not that she is reasonably sober during
the day, is a good cook, and is as faithful as an old dog, I would have
sent her to the hospital long ago."

In the mean time, Rosenbusch had paid off and sent away the boatman,
whom he never spoke of except as the "Fergen," and now rushed up the
steps to the balcony, where, with a merry jodel he threw himself into a
chair, and drank the health of the others from Kohle's half-filled
glass.

          "'Well for the rich and happy house,
            That counts such gift but small!'"

he cried. "Long life to you, dear _Westöstlicher_. Truly, Rossel, there
are moments when I acknowledge and honor the old proverb, 'Wisdom is
good, especially with an inheritance.' If I could call a spot of earth
like this mine, I myself would try to be as wise as you, and no longer
assist at the decline of modern art. But no; after all, I couldn't
stand doing nothing but feeding my white-mice and giving myself up to
intellectual laziness. However, enough of this. Out here is truce and
neutral territory, and I know what I owe to hospitality."

"Since you began it yourself," said Rossel, with a smile, "I have a
single favor to ask of you. I have a number of song-birds in my garden,
and I am afraid you will drive them from me if you give a loose rein to
your baleful passion for music. They will acknowledge your superior
genius, and shrink from competition. If you positively must play, row
out upon the lake. There is a southwest wind which will waft the
strains across to the castle over opposite, where they will do no
harm."

"So be it," responded the battle-painter, with great seriousness;
"though, in any case, we shan't burden you with our presence very long.
For, to-morrow--" He broke off, for Elfinger gave him a warning look.
In the meanwhile, Kohle had hastened down into the cellar, and now
returned with a few slim bottles and the wine-cooler, which he had
filled afresh with ice.

He had not yet spoken a word; but his whole face beamed with an inner
content such as he seldom exhibited. The thought of the bare walls
inspired him as the happiness of a secret love does others. Meantime,
Elfinger had descended again to the bank, from which a little path led
to a bathing-house. Soon his friends who had remained behind saw him
swim out into the lake, his black, curly bead rising out of the silver
path of the moonlight, "like the head of the Baptist on Herodias's
charger," said Koble. "Except that he feels himself much better off
than that poor devil," remarked Rosenbusch, who was comfortably
drinking and smoking. "You must know that we wouldn't have had the
absurd idea of making a pilgrimage out here on Saturday evening, in
company with the whole population of Munich, had not our sweethearts
shown us the way. Papa Glovemaker has permitted them to visit a Frau
godmother, who is staying in Starnberg for the summer. We had no sooner
gotten wind of this, through a trusty go-between, than we very
naturally made up our minds that we could find no better place to spend
to-morrow than here. Of course, we have taken care to make arrangements
for meeting to-morrow. We are going to take you with us as guard of
honor, Philip Emanuel. It is to be hoped you have no objections to the
plan?"

"Not the slightest," responded Koble, good-naturedly. "Of course, the
Frau godmother will fall to my share."

"And how about Elfinger's sweetheart? Is that little bride of heaven
also in the conspiracy?" asked Fat Rossel, who was sitting in his
rocking-chair again.

"Nothing certain is known about that; but, at all events, our friend
builds great hopes upon this favor of fortune, which will permit him,
for the first time, to pass several hours in the company of his
darling. Only think; we also succeeded, a short time since, in finding
out what it really is that has disgusted the good child with the world,
and that is driving her into the convent by main force."

He cast a look upon the lake, as though he were measuring the distance
between the balcony where they sat and the swimmer in the water.

"If you will keep close about it, I will tell you the secret," he
continued, in a low voice. "After all, it only does honor to the poor
girl that she wants to take the sins of others on her own shoulders,
and do penance for them all her life long. Papa Glove-maker, you must
know, appears to have been by no means such a very long-faced character
in his youth, but, on the contrary, to have led a pretty wild life, and
to have been mixed up in scrapes that were not always of a particularly
edifying nature. However, he married young, and soon after this event
there came a mission of Jesuits to the city, or to some place in the
neighborhood--on this subject the records are silent--and the young
sinner, who had already had ample opportunity for repentance in his
marriage relations, allowed his conscience to be shaken to such an
extent by the priests that he suddenly took a fancy to retire almost
entirely from the world, neglected his business so that he almost
reduced himself to beggary, and practically separated himself from his
young wife. He had long lost her love, for which he did not seem to
care; but this was not the worst. Devoted to his vigils and penances,
he is said to have known of and condoned an intimacy which she soon
after formed with a young landscape-painter, who lived for a long time
in the house. The birth of a little girl, who was named Fanny, ended
this relation; but, even then, the friendship shown for the artist did
not at once cease. He stood as the child's godfather; and every year
afterward he continued, although he had removed from Munich, to make a
visit to the house on little Fanny's birthday. It was soon obvious,
however, that Herr Glove-maker's views had changed; that he viewed him
with less and less favor each time that he appeared; and that a crisis
was approaching. And so, on one of these birthdays, when the girl had
already begun to think for herself a little, there must have been a
scene between her three elders, which was overheard by the unfortunate
young creature. A sudden revelation came upon her, that terribly
darkened and shattered her innocent spirit, so that she grew
introspective and melancholy--and perhaps she had some spiritual
adviser who was always giving her new fancies, and painting the terrors
of the hereafter in stronger colors. Nanny, our informant says, knows
nothing of the whole horrible business; and Fanny used to be just such
another merry creature. If this melancholy idea did not so weigh upon
her--that she must do penance for the sins of her parents--she would be
as healthy, bright, and warm-blooded as her younger sister. Since
Elfinger has learned this family secret, he has gained new hopes of
turning this little bride of heaven back from the cloister. But it will
hardly succeed; and if he doesn't use heroic remedies--"

He didn't finish his sentence; for just then his friend, refreshed by
his bath, came running up the steps; and now, with an obvious sense of
comfort, but with the rather quiet manners habitual to him, gave
himself up to the enjoyment of the wine. Kohle, too, spoke only in
monosyllables, so that Rosenbusch and Rossel had to bear the burden of
the conversation. Moreover, as the day had been hot, and as they all
really needed rest, the bottles were soon emptied, and the airy spot on
the bank of the lake deserted.

Upon entering the house, Kohle's first care was to light the candles.
Then he dragged out two woolen blankets from a wardrobe, where all
sorts of things were stored. While occupied with this work he allowed
his eyes to wander stealthily and tenderly over the long wall of the
little room, as if he were measuring off and taking possession of the
site of his future deeds. Two low, well-stuffed divans stood against
these walls, an old table occupied the centre, and over it hung a
chandelier with polished brass branches. The broad glass door of the
hall opened upon the lake, and no sound penetrated into this airy room
but the gentle murmur of the splashing waves, and a soft snoring from
the chamber near the kitchen where old Katie had her bed. After all the
doors had been shut and locked, even this nocturnal music was heard no
longer.

The two new guests had just stretched themselves out on their couches,
by way of experiment, and had wished their host good-night with a great
deal of laughter and joking, when they were roused again by a distant
ring at the park gate. Kohle hastily seized a light and ran out. Five
minutes after they heard him return; he was talking with some one whose
voice they none of them seemed to recognize. But, the moment they
entered, the three shouted as with one voice:

"Our baron! And so late at night!"

They had recognized Felix more from his figure and bearing than from
his features, though the light of the candle fell full upon his face;
for it looked wan and transformed as if by some severe illness. His
eyes, roaming restlessly about the room, had a piercing, feverish
glitter, so that his friends stormed him with questions as to whether
he was sick or had seen a ghost on his way through the wood.

He gave a forced laugh, passed his hand across his cold forehead, on
which great beads of perspiration were standing, and declared that he
had never felt better in his life, and that he was as proof against
ghosts as the babe unborn. In spite of all this, there was something
constrained in all his movements, and his voice sounded hoarse and
unnatural, as it often does when a person is laboring under great
excitement.

He told how he too had been unable to find quarters in Starnberg, and
had left the horse on which he had ridden out at the tavern, in order
to make the remaining half-hour's journey to Rossel's country-seat on
foot; and that, in trying to follow the rather confused directions
which had been given him, he had gone a good deal out of his way. It
was this that had reduced him to his present demoralized condition. But
he would not disturb them on any account, and only asked for a drop of
water and a corner where he could stretch himself out, for he was as
tired as a dog, and would be content even with a dog's kennel.

He drained off a large glass of wine at a single swallow, then, with
averted face, shook hands with his friends and made a few forced
jokes--something he never thought of doing when he was quite himself.
He flatly refused to accept of Kohle's offer to give up his bed to him,
but gladly consented to be led into the studio, where, by the aid of a
few blankets, a deer-skin, and a shawl, they succeeded in transforming
an old garden-bench into a very respectable bed. Then, without even
waiting for the others who had escorted him up-stairs to leave the
room, he threw himself down upon the couch--"already half in the other
world," he tried to say, jestingly, as he nodded good-night to the
others.

Shaking their heads, his friends left him. It was evident that this
late visit could be explained by no such innocent circumstances as had
occasioned that of the two who had preceded him. But, while they were
still standing outside the door exchanging remarks about Felix's
singular condition, they learned from the deep breathing within that
the object of their anxiety had fallen fast asleep.



                              CHAPTER III.


The clear song of the birds awoke him while it was still in the gray of
the morning, and not a sound could be heard in the house below.

The tops of the pine-trees, seen through the broad studio-window,
recalled to his mind where he was, and how and why he had strayed
thither.

In the afternoon he had met the lieutenant, whom he had not seen before
for a week, although he had zealously frequented all the places where
Schnetz was generally to be found. He knew that Irene had left the city
with her uncle. In his dull consternation upon learning this in reply
to an indirect inquiry at the hotel, he had not even inquired in which
direction they had gone. She had fled from him, that he knew; his mere
silent presence sufficed to frighten her away, to make the town in
which he lived distasteful to her. Whither had she fled? To Italy, as
she had at first planned?--to the east or to the west? What did it
matter to him, since he dared not follow her? Nor did he really care to
make any inquiries of Schnetz, who undoubtedly knew all about it. And
yet he was eager to see the only human being who might possibly give
him news of her. And when at last he encountered him in the street,
after a day of depression and brooding, on which he had not even seen
Jansen and had neglected his work, his heart beat so fast and his face
flushed so deeply that it seemed as if his unsuspecting friend could
not help reading all his secret thoughts in his eyes. And it really did
so happen that the very first words which Schnetz ejaculated, in reply
to Felix's inquiry as to how he was, had reference to the fugitives.

Things went wretchedly with him. He had hoped to be rid of his serfdom
and slavery to woman, now that his whimsical little princess had gone
off with her servile valet of an uncle! Vain idea! The chain which held
him now reached as far as Starnberg, and only an hour ago he had felt
himself jerked by it in anything but a gentle way. A note from the
uncle summoned him to come out in all haste on the following day.
Visits had been announced for Sunday from all manner of youthful _haute
volés_, noble cousins and their followers; but the old lion-hunter had
previously accepted an invitation to a shooting-match at Seefeld, which
it would be quite impossible for him to escape, and his niece, poor
child, who, for some reason or other, was daily growing paler and more
nervous in the country air, felt herself quite incapable of doing the
honors of the little villa without the assistance of a zealous and
active cavalier. Consequently, Schnetz was her last hope, and he could
assure him of Irene's kindest welcome, and of his own eternal gratitude
if he would come and be her knight! "You will readily understand, my
dear baron," concluded the grumbling cavalier, slapping his high boots
with his riding-whip, "that there are moral impossibilities which
prevent the slave from breaking his chain. But to the hundred times I
have already cursed this Algerian camp-friendship, I have added to-day
the one hundred and first. It is true, I certainly have a certain
curiosity to see how this 'kindest welcome' of her proud little
highness will seem. You know I have a secret weakness for this gracious
little tyrant of mine. But it is asking a great deal of me to expect
that I should bear with her whims and humors for a whole day. Pity me,
happy man! you who are free from all service, and receive no other
orders than those which come from the genius of art."

His speech had been long enough for Felix to think of some appropriate
and sufficiently cheerful answer.

"You are terribly mistaken, my dear friend," he said, "if you think I
wear no chain. Art, do you say? She is a gracious mistress to him alone
who has gotten so far as to be able to rule her while he serves her.
But, as for a wretched beginner and blunderer to whom she has not yet
given her little finger to kiss, no raftsman or woodsman in the
mountains groans under such a load. A thousand times I ask myself
whether it was not, after all, a piece of folly for me, at my time of
life, to join the scholars who are learning her first A B C; and
whether I shall not discover to my horror, after the lapse of many
weary years, that all this precious time has been thrown out of the
window of Jansen's studio. It is certainly large enough for such a
purpose."

"Hm!" growled the tall lieutenant. "You are singing a bad song to an
old tune. Nowhere do you come across existences that are failures, more
frequently than in a city of art like this. It's so damned seductive to
go singing--

           'Free, ah, free, is the life we lead,
              A life filled full of pleasure--'

and yet, what you say is quite right--he who cannot rule art, him she
oppresses; and that to a worse degree than does any duty of life. You,
as I know you, don't seem to me quite in your proper place. Both of us
ought to have come into the world a few centuries earlier; and then I,
as a leader of bandits, after the manner of Castruccio Castracani, and
you, as a politician of the old energetic and unscrupulous stamp,
might not have cut a bad figure. But now, all we can do is to help
ourselves as best we can. Now let me tell you something. You have been
over-excited, and have lost your spirits. Come out to the lake with me
to-morrow. I will introduce you to her young highness. Perhaps you will
fall in love with her and find favor in her eyes, and then our little
princess and both of us would be made happy at one stroke."

Felix shook his head with increasing embarrassment. "He was not the man
for such company," he said, in a stammering voice; "Schnetz would get
little honor by introducing him. He couldn't swear that he wouldn't go
out to the lake. He certainly did stand in great need of a change of
air. But, unfortunately, he could be of no use to him in entertaining
his countesses, baronesses, and young nobles."

With these words they had shaken hands and parted.

But no sooner did Felix find himself alone than his passionate grief
and his old yearning came upon him with such force that he threw all
his resolutions to the winds, and thought only how he could be near her
once more. The evening train did not leave for some hours. It would be
impossible to wait for it, or to pass the intervening time in any
civilized fashion. He hired a horse and mounted, dressed just as he
was, and left the town at a sharp trot, without giving notice at his
own house of his intended absence, or even taking leave of Jansen.

His horse was none of the best, and was somewhat tired from having been
in use before that day. Consequently he was soon obliged to moderate
his speed, and had only accomplished half his journey, when the train
whirled by him. But he was not at all sorry to have to take the last
part of the way at a walk. The nearer he approached his goal, the more
conflicting became his feelings. What object had he in coming here at
all? He knew that she avoided him, and that she would unquestionably
leave this retreat too, if she should form but the slightest suspicion
that he was following her, and seeking an opportunity to meet her
again. And in what a light must he himself, his pride, his sense of
delicacy, appear to her, unless he carefully avoided even the
appearance of trying to intrude himself upon the peace that she had won
with such difficulty? If she could do without him, ought he to show how
painful it still was for him to do without her?

He reined up his horse so sharply that the animal stood still,
trembling. All around him were solitary woods, and the road that ran by
the side of the railway was utterly deserted. He sprang off, threw the
reins over the horse's neck, and threw himself on his back at the side
of road, on the thick, dry moss, which sent out a cloud of fragrant
dust into the heated air.

Here he lay; and if his manliness had not forbidden him, he would have
liked nothing better than to relieve himself by a flood of burning
tears, like a helpless, unhappy child, to whom some one has shown its
favorite plaything and then taken it away again. Instead of yielding to
such girlish weakness, he strengthened and stilled his rebellious heart
with that defiant spirit which is the man's form of this youthful
feebleness. He gnashed his teeth, cast threatening glances up at the
tree-tops and the blue dome of the sky, and behaved himself generally
in a way so boyish, and so unworthy of the great statesman that Schnetz
believed he had detected in him, that even his horse, hearing his wild,
disconnected words, and the strange gnashing and raving by which they
were accompanied, looked up in amazement from his grazing, and turned
his head toward his rider with an expression of silent pity. "Is it any
fault of mine," he raved to himself, "that a ridiculous accident has
brought her to the very spot where I was on the point of beginning a
new life? Must I fly before her, like a fool, the moment this absurd
fate brings her near me again? The world is surely large enough for us
both; and yet now, though she knows why I have pitched my tent in this
particular place, she persists in haunting the immediate neighborhood,
so that I can't take a step outside the gates without running the risk
of meeting her. What am I saying? Why, I do not dare even to go out to
the lake! I am to be cut off from light and air, and left to smother in
the Munich dust! In other words, I am to condemn myself to perpetual
imprisonment for a crime of which I do not even repent. No! I owe
something to myself as well. Why shouldn't I show that I have put the
whole affair behind me once for all, and go on living as though certain
eyes were no longer in the world? Cannot one person ignore another?
Shall it last forever, this fear of ghosts? As if one couldn't go
around a street corner without meeting a dead and buried love!"--he
sprang up suddenly, smoothed his hair, and brushed the dust from his
coat--"and though her eyes should look down upon me from every window
in Starnberg," he cried, "I will ride through the town and laugh at all
these apparitions!"

So he swung himself into the saddle again, and rode over the few
remaining miles of his journey at a sharp trot. When at last a blue
strip of the lake sparkled through the tree-tops, and the houses of the
town came into view, a gray, starlit twilight had already settled down;
so that, after all, he could ride through the streets between the rows
of lighted windows, without any fear of being recognized.

Nevertheless, it was almost a relief to him when, upon inquiry at all
of the three inns, he was told that no room could be had for the night.
He thought at once of Rossel's little country house, of which he had
often heard his friends speak. As the way was described to him, he
could still arrive there in good time, and before his friends had gone
to bed. So he contented himself with a hasty drink after his sultry
ride through the woods, handed over his animal to a hostler, who
promised to take good care of it, and got under way again.

He had not had the heart to inquire for Irene's villa, though he had
thought for a moment of doing so--only that he might avoid it all the
more surely. But he did not allow her name to pass his lips. Clinching
his teeth, he went his way, past the garden fences and walls. The warm
night had enticed every living thing out into the open air. Under the
vines and in the summer-houses, on garden-benches and on balconies, old
and young sat, walked, and stood; and here and there one could hear the
clear but subdued sound of girlish laughter, as it suddenly burst forth
from whispered conversations or deep silence, like a rocket that starts
instantly from a humble fire-work into the dark heaven of night. Some
one was playing a cither, to which a man's voice sang a low
accompaniment; from another house a full soprano voice sang Schubert's
Erl King, to the loud music of a piano; and from yet another was heard
a violin concerto, with a clarionet _obbligato_. All harmonized as well
as the different voices of the birds in the woods, for the sounds were
softened and melted into one another by the sultry night air.
Involuntarily Felix stood still and listened.

As chance would have it, his eyes rested on a little house from which
came no sound of song or music, and which was overhung with exquisite
roses, while tall hollyhocks nodded over the garden-fence. In the upper
story was a room with a balcony, lit by a hanging-lamp. The door stood
wide open, but the brightly-lighted apartment beyond seemed to be quite
empty. Of a sudden, just as the clarionet was playing a solo, a shadow
entered the bright frame made by the balcony door. A slender, womanly
figure stood on the threshold for a moment, then stepped out in full
view and leaned over the balustrade. Her features could not be clearly
distinguished from the street, and the watcher below still hesitated to
believe his beating heart. But now the shadow moved, and turned its
face toward the bright door, as if some one in the room had called to
it. For a minute or two the outline of a clear-cut profile could be
seen sharply defined against the background of light. It was she!--his
beating heart had known her sooner than his open eyes; and now it beat
all the more wildly as the apparition disappeared into the room again
as quickly as it had come. So this was the place! Now he knew it--now
he could mark the house well, so that he might always carefully avoid
it by a wide _détour_. He trembled all over, and his feet would not at
first obey him, when he tried to tear himself away and continue his
wandering. In his excitement he missed the road that runs along by the
lake, and followed the side-road leading to the Seven Springs. It was
only when he reached that spot, and found himself in the midst of a
swampy thicket, that he became aware of his mistake. Then, with the
stars for his guides, he began to search his way back again. But once
more he lost the right track; the sweat rolled down his forehead. With
laboring breast he forced his way through the thick underbrush; and,
panting like a wounded stag, succeeded in reaching a glade from which
he could see the railway, and over beyond it, through the tree-tops,
the broad surface of the lake, glittering in the moonlight. A signalman
whom he met put him upon his way again. He saw that he had already gone
far beyond his goal, and his anxiety lest he should disturb his friend
by coming to him at so late an hour, quickened his steps. Thus it was
that he reached Edward's in the state in which we have already seen
him.

But the strength of his youth pulled him through all his troubles
overnight. He awoke in the morning with all his senses refreshed from
those bright dreams with which the soul, healing silently as her wont
is, had striven to restore her shaken balance. Nor did this bright
cheerfulness of the morning desert him when he was fully awake, and was
forced to admit that matters stood no better with him to-day than on
the day before. A feeling of courage made the blood course warmly
through his veins: a secret delight in life, and a quiet confidence
which he could not altogether destroy, and which was very different
from the boastful courage of the previous day. He opened the window and
stood for a long time breathings in the fresh fragrance of the firs.
Then he stepped before the easel, on which stood Kohle's cartoon
representing the first scene of his legend of Venus, a plan of which,
sketched in hasty outlines on a long roll of paper, lay near by. Felix
was enough of an artist to appreciate this singular conception, even
without an explanation; and, in his present romantic and excited state,
it attracted him wonderfully. He seated himself on the wooden stool
before the easel, and became absorbed in the contemplation of this
first sheet, which was now almost completed. The beautiful goddess,
leading her boy by the hand, had stepped half out of the shadow of a
wild and overgrown gorge, and was gazing wonderingly toward a city
which could be seen perched on a distant height, with Gothic
battlements and towers. A river, which wound around the base of the
hill, was spanned by a quaint old bridge, over which moved a long train
of merchants with heavily-laden wagons, accompanied by a few travelers.
A little further in the background was a shepherd-boy, stretched out on
the grass by the side of his flock, playing a reed pipe and gazing
dreamily up at the fleecy summer clouds. The figures were sharply and
almost harshly outlined, but there was a certain dignity in the whole,
that aided in heightening the fantastic charm of the conception, and
in holding the thoughts of the observer aloof from the realities of
every-day life.

Felix was still lost--as if in a second morning dream--in the
contemplation of this fairy world, when he heard a cautious step creep
up the narrow stairway, and stop at his door. He cried "come in," and
could not help laughing when he caught sight of Kohle's honest face
peering in with an expression as if he feared to find a man in the last
stages of illness. Upon his informing his amazed friend that he was in
excellent health, and that the picture of the goddess had probably
worked this miracle, the artist's features lighted up, and he began,
bright morning as it was, to speak of his work in the same spirit of
high-strung enthusiasm in which he had fallen asleep the night before,
and to give his explanation of the sketches, which, when unrolled,
extended across the whole breadth of the studio. Then the fact that
Rossel had given him leave to make use of the walls of the dining-room,
and had even offered to assist in the painting, had to be communicated
to Felix. Then, at last, he told him about the others; how they had
risen long ago, and, without waiting for breakfast, had started off for
Starnberg--Rosenbusch on matters connected with their love affairs,
and in order to make arrangements for effecting a meeting in the
afternoon; while Elfinger, who was passionately fond of fishing, had
gone to a trout-brook near the Seven Springs, with whose owner he was
acquainted--for he insisted upon contributing his share to the day's
dinner. The master of the house himself never made his appearance
before nine or ten o'clock. He was in the habit of taking his
breakfast, and of smoking and reading, in bed; declaring that even then
the day was much too long for him not to shorten it by any legitimate
stratagem.

But Kohle had not yet finished what he was saying when the stairs once
more began to creak, this time under a slower and more ponderous tread.
Contrary to his usual habit, Fat Rossel had turned out early, in order
to make inquiries concerning Felix's condition. He had not even taken
time to complete his toilet, but came in his dressing-gown, his bare
feet thrust into his slippers. He was perceptibly relieved when Felix,
looking fresh and bright again, advanced to meet him and shook his
hand, really touched that his anxious friend should have sacrificed his
comfort for his sake.

"There are good fellows still left in this wretched world," he cried;
"and I should be a villain indeed to make their lives uncomfortable. It
is true, my friends, all within and about me is not just as it should
be. But whoever shall see me drawing down the corners of my mouth and
making a long face to-day, let him call me a Nazarene and break his
maulstick over my back."

Rossel nodded his head thoughtfully at these words, for this sudden
change in the young man's mood did not appear quite natural to him;
however, he did not say a word, but seated himself on the stool before
the easel--having first laid a pillow on it--in order to study Kohle's
designs.

"Hm--hm! So--so! Fine--fine!" were the only critical remarks which he
uttered for the space of a quarter of an hour. Then, however, he began
to go into details, and, as he did so, all the strange traits of his
nature came into view.

For, just as his own fancy was inexhaustible in raising buds that never
bore fruit, so too, in regard to the works of others, he had gradually
lost the faculty of patiently following the slow maturing of a thought
in accordance with the inherent laws and quiet workings of Nature. For
young people especially he was dangerous, for he first excited them
powerfully, and led them in a perfect reel through a world of artistic
problems; and then, the moment they went to work in earnest upon a
particular task, his keenness and superior knowledge disgusted them
with the subject they had taken up, by demonstrating to them a variety
of other ways and methods in which the theme might be treated even more
happily. Then, if they decided to destroy what they had begun, and
begin anew according to one of the ways suggested, they found
themselves no better off than before, since the one decisive and final
solution always receded farther and farther into unattainable distance.
In this way they lost all disposition to strike out boldly and
energetically; became hair-splitters and theorists after the style of
their master; or, if they did not possess enough mind or money for
this, they gave themselves up in their desperation to mere mechanical
work, which they pursued in secret, taking good care never to knock
again at the door of their former oracle with a question about art.

"There is no one who sees into a picture, or out of it again, as
quickly as Rossel," Jansen had once said, and Felix now had an
unusually good opportunity of observing the force of this remark, in
the manner in which Rossel examined Kohle's designs. For since, in this
case, the critic was himself to lend a helping hand, his fancy was even
more active than usual in rearranging what had been done, in order that
it might, as far as possible, appropriate the picture to itself. How
the light effect was to be arranged for every picture, what problems of
color would enter into the question, how Giorgione would probably have
composed the background, and what effect it would have if, for
instance, the whole first scene should be transposed from broad day
into evening twilight--all these questions were weighed in the most
serious fashion; while all the while the position of the figures, the
way in which the space was divided, and the landscape, were so
mercilessly changed about, that finally the new conception of the work
had scarcely anything in common with the original plan, except the mere
subject.

Nor was even this last point to be regarded as definitely settled, but
was merely to be looked upon as a basis for further consideration. But,
while Kohle's face kept growing longer and more anxious, that of his
fellow-laborer beamed with growing satisfaction. Every muscle in it
quivered with intellectual life, and his black eyes flashed with
genuine enthusiasm from beneath his white forehead. When finally he
rose, he extended his arms above his head and cried:

"There is nothing finer than a good work which has been taken hold of
at the right end. You shall see, Kohle--the thing will go. I take such
pleasure in it that I would begin to-day--at once, if it didn't happen
to be Sunday and I had not, before all things, to play the attentive
host. However, you will have quite enough to do in making the changes
in the cartoon. In the meanwhile I will assist my household dragon in
composing a bill of fare--a thing which will take more thought, let me
tell you, than even our dame Venus."

As soon as he had gone the two looked at one another, and Felix could
not help bursting into a loud laugh, in which poor Kohle joined--at
least with a pathetic smile.

"Now you see what comes of being too wise about anything," said he,
regarding his sketch with a sigh. "When, in my stupidity, I went
straight on following my _certa idea_, or even my nose, something
came of it at all events. But after these criticisms, which were,
by-the-way, all excellent and capital and appropriate, I am afraid the
whole thing will go to the deuce again! If it were not for the
beautiful wall down stairs I would tell him candidly that so ill-mated
a span--as ill-matched as an ox and horse--would never drag the plough
very far. Better to let the lean horse do the work alone, even though
the furrows should not be quite so smooth. Alas, alas, alas! My poor
dame Venus!"



                              CHAPTER IV.


Nevertheless, the creative instinct was too powerful in him to let his
depression at the interference of this eternal waverer affect him long,
or sap his strength. In the very midst of his upbraiding, after he had
angrily thrown the first sheet into a corner, he took a second frame of
card-board, and began to sketch the scene where the homeless beauty,
with her naked boy, is standing at the gate of the convent, surrounded
by the staring nuns, whose looks and attitudes express doubt and
suspicion. Felix threw himself on his couch again, and lay smoking,
rarely throwing in a word, as he watched every movement of the other's
hand. The proximity of this man, who was self-reliant, so humble, and
yet so constantly striving at some lofty aim, exercised a singularly
soothing influence upon Felix's restless soul. He confessed this, when
Kohle began to express surprise that any one should leave the town,
head over heels in this way, and rush into the country, in order, when
he arrived there, to shut himself up in a sunless garret room, and look
on while a man painfully trundled his barrow over a hard road, toward a
goal of art which is generally supposed to have long since been left
behind.

"My dear Kohle," he said, "only let me stay here. I should like very
much to learn something from you which would be of more benefit to me
than a walk or a bath in the lake--namely, your art of knowing just
what you want, and of wanting nothing which you cannot have. Was this
art born in you, or have you gradually acquired it, and paid your
instruction-fee for it, as for other arts?'

"The best part of it is inborn," answered Kohle, quietly going on with
his sketching. "You must know that I came into this world as poor as a
church-mouse, and endowed with so small a proportion of all the goods
and gifts that fall to the share of so-called fortunate mortals, the
first-born and favorite children of Mother Nature, that, in my boyhood,
I had little pleasure in life, and would have parted with it very
cheaply. But then I discovered that I possessed something which
out-weighed all the glittering treasures in the world--such as beauty,
wealth, wit, or great intellect. I mean the ability to dream with my
eyes wide open, and to interpret my dreams for myself. The actual
world, with its joys and splendors, was as good as closed against a
poor devil like myself. How could such a wretched creature as this
Philip Emanuel Kohle, this lean, yellow ragamuffin in poor clothes, who
stumbled awkwardly through the world, and who could neither fascinate
women nor impress men, have the impudence to take his place at the
bounteous table at which the children of fortune felt at home? So I
held myself aloof, and earnestly and zealously set to work to evolve a
second world from my dreams--one which belonged to me, and from which
no one could bid me depart--a world which was far more beautiful,
sublime, and perfect, than the actual world about me. And as I
wasted no time or strength on anything else--neither in wretched
money-getting, nor in foolish ambition, nor even in hopeless love
affairs--my nature grew up straight and true, and in the greatest
development of which it was capable, which is by no means the case with
every one; and I could not help laughing in my sleeve, when I noticed
that I passed among my friends for a simpleton and a narrow-minded
fool. The truth is, my simpleness was the very thing that contributed
most to my secret contentment, when I saw how seldom the manifold
desires and restless striving of others led to happiness. '_Chi troppo
abbraccia, nulla stringe_,' say the wise Italians. I embrace nothing
but my art; but I embrace it the more passionately because it exists
for me alone. There you have the whole secret. There is a juster
apportionment of good and evil in this world than we are willing to
admit in our hours of depression."

Felix was silent. It was on the tip of his tongue to say that he envied
him. Yet he felt at once how thoroughly right this quiet man was in his
last assertion. He felt that he would not, for all the peace in the
world, have given up his own miserable condition; for, at the same time
that it gave him the keenest anguish, it brought with it the certainty
that so charming a creature as his lost love was still in the world,
and had been brought so painfully near to him again.

When noon came, they were called down into the garden by the
white-haired old woman, who, in her sober moments, was a most excellent
and active servant. The table was laid in a shady arbor near the house.
Rosenbusch and the actor had returned from their different expeditions;
the latter with a basket full of excellent trout, and the other
with a face which showed plainly enough that he too had not come
back unsuccessfully but had gained all he had promised himself from
his morning walk. He was in full gala-dress, consisting of his
violet-colored velvet coat, a white waistcoat, and a gigantic Panama
hat, beneath which his hair and his red beard, which had been shorn to
so little purpose, had already begun to sprout again. His honest,
merry, handsome face was radiant with good-humor; and as Elfinger did
his best to be entertaining, and Felix to make up for the alarm he had
occasioned on the previous day, the meal was enlivened by all sorts of
jollity and good stories.

Nor was there, for that matter, any lack of more substantial dainties;
and Kohle, who had voluntarily taken upon himself the office of butler,
ran out every few minutes to fetch up another dusty bottle; for Rossel,
who was a light drinker himself, had a sort of passion for collecting
the rarest brands of wine in his cellar, if only a small supply of
each. It was not long before the programme which had been prepared for
the afternoon leaked out. They proposed to row over to Starnberg in
Rossel's pretty little boat, to land there, and then, while strolling
along the shore, to encounter, as if by pure accident, the two sisters,
who were to go out with their aunt, under the pretext of taking a walk.
Then, upon a polite invitation, they were all to get into the boat
again together, and be rowed out upon the lake, in whichever direction
circumstances and the mood of the moment might suggest.

Rossel pronounced this plan to be very wisely conceived, but flatly
refused to take part in it. He had an aversion, founded on principle,
to all pic-nics, especially where there were ladies whom one was
obliged to treat with politeness and consideration, relinquishing to
them the most comfortable places and the daintiest morsels. For lovers
this was no sacrifice, since they could indemnify themselves in other
ways. But such a restraint could not be imposed upon free and
independent natures without great injustice. He would, therefore,
remain at home until the day grew cooler, and study Regis's translation
of Rabelais, which he had long had in mind to illustrate. Toward
evening he would stroll into the wood in order to take a look at his
mushroom-bed; for he had made it his especial task to forward the
culture of the mushroom in the woods about Starnberg, as well as the
general improvement and introduction of all edible fungi. Then, when
they came home late at night, intoxicated with sour beer and sweet
words, a supper should await them that would be "worth the toil of
princes."

Felix, too, would gladly have remained behind. But there was no way for
him to do this without betraying his secret. And, besides, what else
could he do to quiet his secret yearning--since it was impossible for
him to approach her by daylight? He secretly consoled himself by the
thought that, when they returned, late in the evening, he would creep
to the garden-fence again, and watch the bright room leading off the
balcony.

Philip Emanuel Kohle's feeble attempt to excuse himself, because of his
bashfulness in ladies' society, was clamorously voted down. As he was,
moreover, the only one of the party who carried a chart of the lake in
his head, he could not find it in his heart to desert his friends.

There was a thunder-storm in the air, but it looked as though it had
come to a halt in the west, and would pass off harmlessly. The sky was
dark and lowering, and the lake was as smooth as a mirror, when the
light but roomy boat shot out of the little bay. Rossel stood on the
shore, waving his handkerchief and fez. Kohle sat at the tiller,
Elfinger rowed, and Rosenbusch, as they glided along past the green
banks, took advantage of the permit Rossel had given him, to play upon
his flute some of his most pastoral melodies--doubly melting this time,
for he was on his way to his sweetheart's side, and to Heaven knows
what romantic adventures.



                               CHAPTER V.


They had scarcely landed at the end of the lake when they saw in the
distance the three figures they were looking for, strolling slowly
along the road that circled the shore. When within hailing distance,
the prearranged farce of a chance meeting and recognition was played
with the utmost seriousness, and it was impossible to detect, from the
godmother's manner, whether she had accepted a _rôle_ in the comedy, or
whether she innocently believed that the two gentlemen who lived
opposite the sisters in the city had merely seized this opportunity to
exchange a word or two with their lovely neighbors for the first time.
The girls bore themselves in accordance with their respective
characters--the elder quiet and sparing of words, the younger gay and
coquettish even to audacity. They were dressed charmingly, and indeed
almost elegantly; but Fanny wore dark ribbons, while Nanny's little hat
was adorned with a red rose and trimmings of the same color. The
battle-painter had warned the good Kohle at the dinner-table against
the godmother, as a pious creature, enthusiastic about art and
notorious for enticing into her net innocent young painters of a
serious turn of mind. But she was, in fact, a pleasant little soul
enough, far on in the thirties. She had lost her husband, a well-to-do
confectioner, shortly after their marriage, and was fond of protesting,
with many sighs, that she never, never could forget him. A Gothic
temple, made of sugar and adorned with numerous figures of saints,
which he had made for their marriage, as a sort of triumph of his art,
still stood in a state of good preservation under a glass case upon her
sideboard. Nevertheless rumor said of her that she had not always
harshly repulsed the numerous offers she had received as a widow,
though she had been too wise to give the slightest cause for public
gossip. Certain ecclesiastical gentlemen, who were in the habit of
going in and out of her house, gave her the best certificate of
character; and though she did not close her door to young artists, she
took care to see that they were proper, respectable people, who painted
church pictures with long robes, and did not wear their shirt-collars
after the fashion of too erratic genius; and that they held aloof from
all pagan theories of art. To this godly way of life she owed it that
her own godmother, the glove-maker's wife, had trusted her with "the
children" for a day, although some malicious people pretended to think
that to go gadding into the country was not exactly the thing for
well-preserved widows.

She was quite modestly dressed, but yet in such a way that her figure,
already somewhat inclined to _embonpoint_, was shown to the best
advantage. In her manner she kept a wise mean between the severe
dignity which a God-fearing woman of an uncertain age usually maintains
toward youthful giddiness, and a too free approval of the pranks that
danced through her godchild's head. At the same time she did not try to
keep the silent Felix from knowing that his slim, manly form had made
an impression on her; though she was wise enough to do it so slyly as
to give a motherly sort of aspect to her interest in him. It was only
when the ungrateful man, whose poor soul was quite unconscious of its
conquest, continued to walk at her side in complacent abstraction,
casting furtive glances all around to see whether he was running
directly in the way of her whom he must especially avoid--then only did
she withdraw her favor from him and bestow it upon the insignificant
Kohle, whom Rosenbusch had introduced to her as a painter of the
severest style, a disciple of the great Cornelius, and one whom she
needed only to make a better Christian in order to win in him a new
pillar of ecclesiastical art. Kohle submitted to it all with a most
patient smile, and really began to pay pronounced attention to this
stately creature as well as he knew how, merely that he might not seem
to stand in the way of the others' sport.

They had been strolling up and down the shore for about a quarter of an
hour in this way, when, as if without the slightest premeditation, the
proposal was made that they should take an excursion on the water; a
proposal which was accepted after a good deal of well-acted hesitation
on the part of the godmother, and much entreating and flattering and
coaxing on the part of the blonde Nanny.

Soon afterward the boat, with its merry freight, shot out upon the
sunny lake, rowed now by Felix, who had had occasion to exercise this
noble art on many waters of the Old World and the New. Kohle sat at the
tiller and thought only of his dame Venus, notwithstanding the nearness
of the beautiful art-enthusiast who was opposite him. The two pairs of
lovers occupied the middle seats, Elfinger gazing devotedly on the
lovely face of his neighbor, who let her little white hand trail
through the green water, and seemed to-day to enjoy the beauty of this
world with all her heart. She held a large sunshade over her head in
such a way that her companion might also profit by its shade; the first
favor she had ever bestowed upon him, and one which made its modest
recipient very happy. Her vivacious sister, on the other hand,
maintained that Rosenbusch's great hat was really a family straw-hat,
and could afford protection against sunstroke to a whole ship's crew.
She freely exposed her laughing face to the sun, bound a white
handkerchief to her sunshade, which she planted like a flagstaff
between herself and her adorer, and declared that she was looking
forward with great pleasure to the storm which was undoubtedly about to
burst forth and bury them all in the depths of the lake, with the
exception of those who could swim--swimming being a great passion of
her own. She also offered to save one of the others, only it must not
be Rosenbusch, whose velvet coat was too heavy, and would certainly
drag down its owner.

Aunt Babette--for this was the godmother's name--attempted now and then
to give her a reproving glance. But, as no one took the slightest
notice of this, she made up her mind to become young and worldly again
herself, particularly as the heat made all restraint doubly burdensome.
She unwound the lace shawl from her round shoulders, drew off her
gloves and untied her ribbons, so that she looked in her _négligé_
almost as young and certainly as full of life as the serious Fanny. She
laughed even louder than the two girls at the jests and tricks which
Rosenbusch displayed for their amusement. He was celebrated for his
power of mimicking the whirring of a quail, the cackling of a hen, and
the noise of a saw. He told long and ridiculous stories in different
dialects, and delivered a sermon, with the most solemn pulpit
utterance, in a senseless jargon which he gave out to be English. But
his great masterpiece was a pantomimic scene representing nuns praying
at their nightly devotions. To do this he bound a handkerchief round
his head, and wrapped himself up in a lady's cloak so that only his
eyes, the tip of his nose, and his hands-folded over his breast--were
left visible, and then began with hypocritical zeal and constant change
of expression to roll his eyes and nod his head and murmur over his
rosary, now as an antiquated, dozing nun, who kept dropping off to
sleep between her prayers; now as a deeply contrite and extravagantly
penitent sinner, and again as a well-to-do sister, grown gray in the
convent, who had long since learned to regard the matter from its
practical side, and refrained from unnecessary exertion, but strove
from time to time to keep up her spirits by taking a stolen pinch of
snuff.

This amateur exhibition had worked so irresistibly that even the worthy
godmother nearly lost her balance from laughter, and had to be
supported by Kohle; and it was only when the show had come to an end
that it seemed to strike the conscience of its mischievous author that
he might possibly have offended Elfinger's devout _fiancée_ by this
absurd parody. Whereupon, assuming an air of mock contrition, he begged
a thousand pardons of Fräulein Fanny, while in secret he reckoned it as
a good work to have given her a foretaste of the joys that awaited her.
Then, as if in penance for his offense, he suddenly began to play the
"_O Sanctissima_" upon his flute, with such beauty and pathos that even
the wild Nanny grew serious, and began to sing a gentle accompaniment,
in which her sister joined.

It rang out sweetly over the lonely, brooding stillness of the lake, so
that they did not end with this first song, but followed each other
with their favorite airs.

Elfinger sang an excellent tenor, and took great pains to make his song
strike home to the heart of his lovely neighbor. The two rowers alone
were dumb, though they had drawn in their oars upon getting well out
upon the water. Kohle had no more voice than a crow, and Felix felt as
if his breast were encircled by the seven girdles of the legend.

As they floated along thus peacefully and quietly, a west wind sprung
up, and carried them unnoticed toward the opposite shore, where a
much-frequented garden-restaurant smiled on them from out the verdure
of a gently-sloping bank. Elfinger proposed that they should land here
and drink some coffee--a suggestion to which no one had an objection to
offer. And while they drifted slowly toward the shore he closed the
entertainment with a song which Rosenbusch had once written for one of
their feasts in "Paradise." It went to the tune of a popular melody,
and the author accompanied it skillfully on his flute.



                              CHAPTER VI.


While the few stanzas of the song were sung, they had approached so
close to the bank that the people in the garden, where a mixed Sunday
company was collected, could hear the flute, and could even catch the
words. Some of the guests had left their places in order to take a
nearer look at the musicians; and as Rosenbusch had a large circle of
acquaintances, he was enthusiastically greeted on all sides. With an
air of complacent self-importance, he conducted his lady, who was
suddenly overcome with fear lest she too might be recognized and
reported to her father, to the only table which was still unoccupied.
The others followed; Felix alone remained behind for a few minutes at
the boat to repair some trifling damage to the rudder.

Then, as he started after his friends, seeking them in the crowd from
table to table, until he finally caught sight of Nanny's coquettish
little hat with the red rose by the side of the white "family straw" of
her cavalier--what was it that made him suddenly stand still in the
scorching sun, with his eyes fixed upon a little summerhouse, in which
six persons were sitting about a round table?

It was the shadiest spot in the garden, and the party within had caused
it to be distinctly understood that they had no intention of admitting
any others, by occupying all the chairs that were still vacant with
their hats, umbrellas, and canes. Nearest the entrance, like a sentry,
sat the tall, lank figure of the lieutenant, in his well-known
riding-coat; and at his side a slender young lady with downcast eyes,
as if, in the midst of all this confused buzz and hum of conversation,
she were occupied only with her own thoughts.

Just then Schnetz addressed some remark to her, and she looked up and
let her glance wander over the garden. Thus it happened that her gaze
met that of the young man who was standing so conspicuously in the sun.
It is true, he instantly lowered his eyes; but he had already been
recognized, and could no longer think of retreating unnoticed. Besides,
at that very moment he felt himself touched on the arm by Kohle, who
had been up to the restaurant in the mean while to order coffee.

"What are you standing here for?" cried his busy friend. "Come and help
me entertain the Frau godmother, who is boring me to death with her
talk about the black Madonna in Altötting, just from pure spite because
you play St. Anthony to her."

Felix stammered out a few unintelligible words and allowed himself to
be dragged away. The chair which they had reserved next to Aunt Babette
stood, fortunately, with its back toward the summer-house. But scarcely
had he seated himself in it when Rosenbusch began: "Have you seen our
lieutenant, baron? This respected amphibion is taking his dry day
to-day among the nobler fowl, and appears, to judge from his
disconsolate air, to be gazing with longing at our moist element. What
a joke it would be if I should go up and beg him to introduce me to the
old countess and the young baroness! The latter would probably remember
having met me at that _soirée_ at the Russian lady's, where you left me
to make love to her alone."

Whereupon he gave the girls and their godmother a detailed account of
the musical entertainment, and of his conversation with Irene. Little
Nanny, who had possibly been infected by some of papa's prejudices in
regard to art, should be made to understand how highly a battle-painter
is regarded in the highest social circles, and what an enviable
position would be accorded to her as his wife. But the lively girl did
not appear to form a very exalted idea of his success.

"Are you quite sure, Herr Rosenbusch," she said, "that they recognized
you again? The beautiful Fräulein scarcely moved her head when you took
off your hat to her, as though she meant to say, 'You are undoubtedly
mistaken in the person, sir.'"

"It was merely her surprise, and a passing feeling of displeasure at
seeing me approach in such charming company. She may have attributed
too much meaning to the pretty speeches I made to her that night. These
high-born Fräuleins are devilish sensitive, and for that reason I now
refrain from speaking to her. But why don't you go over and introduce
yourself to the ladies, my dear baron--you who have blue blood as well
as they?"

Just at this moment Schnetz, in all his lankness, stepped up to their
table and greeted the ladies with formal politeness, at the same time
shaking hands with his friends. The fact that he should meet Felix here
did not seem to strike him as strange.

"You happy mortals!" he growled out, biting his cigar, and pulling his
hat down lower over his forehead, while he withdrew a little distance
from the rest with Felix and Elfinger. "You all get on so capitally
together, and it does one good to hear you laugh so heartily; while we
are keeping up the usual sort of conventional twaddle, which consists,
upon my soul, in each one's saying nothing which the others could not
have said as well. They have just been wondering, behind my back, that
I should have anything whatever to do with you people, whom they look
upon as _mauvais genre_. A few artists and two pretty girls, at whose
papa's Madame the Countess buys her gloves--_quelle horreur!_ But the
ladies are not so bad; even the young countess, with the fixed dimples
in her highly-colored cheeks--by Heaven! little Fanny over there looks
ten times as much like a countess--even she is a good child, _au fond_,
and the right sort of a husband might still make something of her. But
as for that cousin of hers, to whom she is as good as engaged, and the
other young nobleman, with the imperial and the heavy manner--between
ourselves, he is dead in love with my little princess, who scarcely
honors him with a look--_tonnerre de Dieu!_ what nice specimens they
are of our high-born youth! And to think of my being condemned to go
about among them without treading on their toes! Thus are the sins of
the fathers visited upon the children! The first Schnetz who, whether
as marshal or hostler, helped an Agilolfinger into the saddle, has it
on his conscience that I, the unworthiest of his descendants, still
belong with the rest of them, hard as I try to make myself disagreeable
and even unbearable."

They agreed to meet again in the evening at Rossel's villa, and then
returned to their respective parties. But our friends soon grew
impatient of quietly sitting at table over their coffee. The
neighboring wood invited the lovers where they could be free from
chaperonage, and Aunt Babette was paying too close attention to an
exposition of art by the "interesting young man," as she called Kohle,
to take any heed of the fact that Rosebud and Nanny occasionally
disappeared from view entirely, while Fanny anxiously insisted upon not
getting out of sight of the others.

Felix soon lost himself in a lonely side-path. His heart was hot within
him, and wild plans chased one another through his brain. He realized
only too well that matters could not go on in this way; that this state
of indecision _after_ the decision would soon drive him to despair. If
the old world really was not large enough for him to avoid one woman
in, the ocean must separate them again, and this time forever. What he
was to do over there; how he could justify his resolution to Jansen, or
reconcile it with his choice of art as a profession, or with his own
pride, were questions which were still enveloped in darkness. But as
for tamely submitting, and allowing himself to be made a fool of by
capricious fortune, which seemed as if it had deliberately set itself
to work to bring the two lovers together on every possible occasion--to
this he would never consent!

Whether he himself had not played into the hands of chance a little,
yesterday, was a question he did not ask.

A distant peal of thunder, rolling toward him from the west, suddenly
roused him from these confused and bitter thoughts. The sky above the
tree-tops was still blue, but was overcast by that light, lead-colored
haze which precedes an approaching storm. There was no time to waste if
they wanted to get across the lake before the storm should break. For
already the air held its breath so utterly that not a leaf rustled on
the trees, and not even the note of a bird was heard. The lake, along
the banks of which Felix was hastening, was still unruffled by a breath
of wind; but its mid-waters were black with the reflection of the
heavy, low-hanging cloud that spread over the heaven like a gigantic
slab hewn from a single block of slate. Behind it, the bright sunlight
still glowed on the horizon, and the distant mountain chain shone out
in the delicate green of spring, as if bathed in eternal peace.

The approach of the storm had been observed by the people in the
garden, and most of the guests had been prudent enough to embark on the
steamboat which had just left, and was now half-way over to Starnberg.
But by the time Felix had joined his friends again it was too late for
them to choose this shorter way. Besides, Rossel's villa was a good
deal nearer than the Starnberg station, and Rosenbusch, who always had
his head full of adventures, was already dreaming of the improvised
quarters for the night, which should be prepared for the ladies in the
dining-room. He took very good care, however, not to give utterance to
these romantic projects, but merely urged a hasty departure, in order
that they might escape the rain.

When they reached the landing-place, they found Schnetz and his party
engaged in an annoying scene.

The young boatman who had rowed them over flatly refused to start on
the return trip, in view of the storm that threatened to break upon
them at any moment. The boat was too heavily loaded to get over the
water quickly, and his master had given him a bad pair of oars, the
good ones having been sent off with another boat early in the morning.
The gentlemen might offer him what they liked, but he would not make
the trip; he knew what he was saying, and what it meant "when the lake
and the sky came so near together."

One of the young gentlemen was addressing the lad--who was a
neatly-dressed young fellow, and wished, perhaps, to spare his Sunday
clothes--in rough and imperious tones, commanding him to obey without
further parley, and to leave the responsibility to them. The lake was
as smooth as a mirror, and there was so little wind that the storm
might very likely be an hour in reaching them. But when, upon the
boatman's remaining obstinate, he tried to wrench the oar from the
defiant fellow's hand, saying that, if a lout like him had no pluck, he
might at least get out of the way and take himself to the devil--all
the man's pent-up fury and insulted _amour propre_ burst out; with an
angry answer in the most forcible epithets of his country dialect, he
threw the oar at the young count's feet, took his jacket out of the
boat, and, with a malicious grin, wishing the company a pleasant
journey, started off toward the highway which winds along by the
lake-shore.

"The thunder-storm comes just right for him," said the waiter-girl, who
had been attracted to the spot by the quarrel, and who now stood gazing
after the angry fellow as he hurried away. "The ladies and gentlemen
mustn't think that Hiesl had started to run back to his father's on
foot; he knew well enough there was going to be a wedding celebrated in
Ambach, and had been impatient to get there for some time; for the
red-haired waiter-girl in the tavern there had completely turned his
head, and all because she wouldn't have anything to do with him--though
he would marry her on the spot if she would take him, and he was not
one to be sneezed at either, and was earning a good living too. So he
had caught at the pretext that the storm would be upon them before the
party could get back to Starnberg again, and was on his way as fast as
his legs would carry him, so as to get to Ambach, which was nearly an
hour from here, with a dry skin. Oh! these men!"

She seemed to think it very foolish for him to run so far, when he
could find all he wanted close at hand. But in reply to their question,
whether there really was so much danger of the storm, she gave the most
comforting assurances; it might not reach them for several hours yet,
and, very likely, if a wind should spring up it would pass over
altogether.

The young count, who now regarded it as a matter of honor to undertake
the trip and to outshine the obstinate boor by his superior skill as a
boatman, allayed all the old countess's doubts and fears; and the young
people did not shrink from a trifling lake-storm, particularly as
Schnetz, who was filled with horror at the bare thought of staying here
overnight, declared that there was not the slightest reason for
anxiety. He himself would take charge of the tiller as he had done when
they came out, and in half an hour they would undoubtedly be landed
safe and sound at the opposite bank.

The whole scene had taken place so near the spot where the artists and
their companions stood, that not a word had escaped them. They were,
however, in even less of a humor to let themselves be frightened by the
distant growling of the heavens, and had already rowed out quite a
little distance into the lake before the more aristocratic boat shoved
off from shore. Felix bent to his oar with redoubled energy in order to
put as much water as possible between himself and his beloved enemy,
and it looked as though they would reach the opposite shore in half the
time usually needed for the passage.

Nevertheless, it was strange that on this return voyage such a deep
silence should have succeeded to the high spirits with which they had
first rowed over. Even Rosenbusch said nothing, but contented himself
with casting the most eloquent glances at his sweetheart, who now sat
silent and pensive, with her head resting on her sister's shoulder.
Elfinger and his beloved looked away from one another down into the
dark water; and only Aunt Babette gave a little scream from time to
time when a vivid flash of lightning tore zigzag through the blue-black
clouds, and illuminated the woods on the bank in a green, ghastly
glare.

The young nobleman in the other boat pulled a good oar. He was a
handsome, chivalrous young fellow, who certainly did not deserve the
contempt with which Schnetz had spoken of him. In order that the ladies
who had intrusted themselves to his care might be landed in safety as
soon as possible, he sought to overtake the other boat, in spite of its
lead. But his powerful exertions came to an end in a very unexpected
way. One of the oars, rotten with age, suddenly broke short off in the
middle; and at the same instant the first gust of wind swept with a
melancholy howl across the surface of the lake, which, as if
transformed by the touch of a magician's wand, began suddenly to surge
like a miniature raging ocean.

Schnetz rose from his seat at the tiller.

"I entreat the ladies not to prove false to the coolness they have thus
far shown, because of this little accident," he said. "We could
undoubtedly get across even without a second oar. But to have one will
be better. I will inquire of my artist friends over yonder if they
haven't one to spare."

He wore a little metal whistle, suspended by a green cord from a button
on his waistcoat. With this he piped a sort of boatswain's signal.

Elfinger started. "That is Roland's call!" he said, seriously. "What
can he want of us?"

Felix raised his oar from the water; the two boats approached one
another.

"Ladies and gentlemen," said Schnetz, "allow me, first of all, to make
you acquainted with one another, as well as such a thing can be done on
such a rocking floor, and without the customary bows. I have the honor,
ladies, to introduce you to my friend Baron Felix von Weiblingen, who
has just deserted a diplomatic career for the liberal arts, and, as you
perceive, knows how to handle the oar as skillfully as the chisel and
modeling-tool. Herr Graf ----, Herr Baron ----, Messieurs Rosenbusch
and Elfinger--the ladies, I understand, are already known to one
another. Look here, baron, can't you help us out with an oar? One of
ours has come to grief. We have suffered a slight shipwreck."

Felix stood up. Although the waves rocked the little boat violently,
his slender, powerful figure stood out strong and erect against the
black, stormy sky. At the approach of danger he had recovered all his
coolness and confidence, qualities which he had often enough had a
chance to test in his adventurous journeyings through the solitudes of
the New World. Even the face opposite him in the other boat, the pale
oval framed by the hood of a gray cloak from beneath which straggled a
brown lock--even the glance of those eyes, which preferred to gaze down
into the dark, tempestuous depths rather than to meet his--nothing
could shake his coolness now when the time had come for him to show
himself master of the moment.

"We carry a few extra oars with us, it is true," he shouted back,
raising his voice, for the storm began to howl louder and louder. "But
I should prefer to help you with them in our own boat--Elfinger is an
excellent oarsman--and to fasten your craft to ours. Then we will take
you in tow, and the passage will be much safer and quicker; for your
boat is a flat-bottomed, badly-built affair, without keel or cut-water,
and all you gentlemen are in it for the first time."

"Agreed!" roared Schnetz in return. "Let us connect ourselves with our
_remorqueur_ with all possible speed, and then _vogue la galère!_"

Rossel's well-equipped craft had, fortunately, a good supply of ropes
at hand, so that Kohle, from his seat at the stern, soon drew the
drifting boat up to his own and made it fast with a firm knot. Then
Felix and Elfinger bent to their oars, and their four strong arms
seemed to drive the two boats as if in sport over the raging surface of
the water.

Not a word was spoken in either vessel. To the countess's whispered
question to Irene: whether this young baron belonged to the well-known
Weiblingens in D----, there came no answer. The young countess had
grown as pale as her high-colored complexion would permit. Her cousin
sought to conceal his ill-humor at the accident, by trying to light a
cigar; but the wind was too much for him. In the first boat, too, a
breathless silence reigned. Rosenbusch alone bent over from time to
time, and whispered a few words to his blonde sweetheart, but they were
lost forever in the storm. The gale raged above their heads with
increasing fury, lightning and thunder burst almost continuously from
the black clouds, and the blast, as it whirled the tumult through the
sky, seemed so violent that the clouds had no time to dissolve in rain.
All around the shore lay wrapped in darkness, and in the south, where
gusts of rain mingled the sky and lake together, every trace of the
mountain line had disappeared.

Suddenly Felix's voice made itself heard at the extreme end of the
little flotilla: "I think it advisable, Schnetz, for us to change our
course. Otherwise we shall tire ourselves out pulling against this
head-wind without making any progress westward. In spite of all our
exertions, we haven't reached the middle of the lake yet, and, as we
may expect a deluge at any moment, I would propose, in the interest of
the ladies, that we turn about and try to reach the land quickly at any
price. What do you say?"

"That we have no voice whatever in the matter!" Schnetz shouted back.
"In a storm the captain commands upon his own responsibility! and with
that, enough said!"

A strong shove of the tiller showed that Kohle had decided in favor of
silent obedience. The good effects of the change were felt immediately;
for now the two boats, sailing with the current and the wind, skimmed
as though with wings over the high waves.

But they already had been driven too far toward the south to reach
their old harbor again. When they had approached near enough to the
bank to distinguish trees and houses, they saw a scene which they did
not recognize--an inn close upon the lake, from whose windows streamed
a bright light and the merry sound of dance-music.

"We have arrived just in time for the wedding," growled Schnetz. "If we
don't go to the devil first, we can while away the time by dancing--the
best way to get rid of all the bad effects of our fright. May I have
the honor, countess, of engaging you for a cotillion?"

The old lady, who had been suffering the keenest alarm, and had
secretly made all sorts of vows to her patron saints, drew a long
breath of relief, and said, laughing nervously: "If anything had
happened to us, _mon cher_ Schnetz, your godlessness would have been to
blame for sending so many good people to the bottom. Well, _Dieu soit
loué, nous voilà sains et saufs._ Melanie, your hair is atrociously
disordered. How have you borne it, my dear Irene?"

"I was not afraid. Still I shall be glad to get on shore."

And, indeed, just at this moment, the rain-drops began to fall one by
one on the broad surface of the lake.

Another quarter of an hour of vigorous work at the oars and the
foremost boat passed through the surf of the flat shore and ran up on
the beach. Felix sprang on shore and helped out the sisters and the
godmother. When it came to the turn of the party in the other boat, he
left to his friends the duty of setting the ladies ashore dry-shod,
while he busied himself in fastening the two boats to posts upon the
bank.

The old countess came up to him, overflowing with earnest assurances of
her gratitude, which he politely put aside. Upon her presently
repeating her inquiry about his family, he dryly replied:

"I come from beyond the sea, countess, and have left my family tree in
the backwoods. But you will get wet if you stay out here any longer. My
friend, Herr Koble, will have the honor of conducting you into the
house. It is well known that a captain must not leave his ship until it
lies safe at anchor."

The good lady wondered to herself that a young man, who seemed to be so
_comme il faut_, should relinquish the honor of becoming her knight to
a _bourgeois_. But as she was rather confused and helpless, and did not
exactly know where to look for her son and son-in-law, she accepted the
painter's arm with condescending amiability, and, turning around every
instant to see that her daughter was following, she hastened toward the
house, in which the music had not ceased for a moment.

Schnetz had taken possession of the two sisters, and the young count
approached Irene to conduct her into the house. But she declined his
proffered arm with a gesture of thanks, wrapped herself closer in her
cloak, and hastened after the others.

She had not looked around at Felix, but at the threshold she hesitated.
Perhaps her beating heart was secretly whispering to her to turn, rush
into the storm and rain, and call to the lonely man upon the shore.

Just at this moment her cousin turned to her with some casual question,
laid a hand upon her arm, and drew her across the hall into the guests'
room. She threw back her head with such a hasty movement, that her hood
fell off. Her young face, which she had learned only too well how to
keep under control, became cold and stern, and the moment which might
have broken the ice passed away unused.



                              CHAPTER VII.


Nor had Felix looked around at Irene. And yet he knew exactly when she
entered the door, and vanished into the house.

His work on the shore had long been completed. The two boats were
fastened securely to their chains, and the heavy surf bumped their
wooden sides against one another with a dull, monotonous sound. It was
by no means pleasant here in the rain. The drops fell thicker and
faster; leaves and twigs were torn from the trees near the boathouse,
and sent whirling far and wide. And yet this lonely man here in the
storm could not even now make up his mind to seek refuge in the house,
which stood before him with its bright windows looking so hospitable
and cozy, and protecting a crowd of happy beings from the furies of the
gale.

He was just considering whether he should not retreat, into one of the
boats which, lying under the roof of the boat-house, would at least
offer him a dry place of refuge, when a vivid flash of lightning lit
up the darkness around, and in the next instant, even before the
thunder-clap had time to follow, he heard a scoffing laugh, not far
away. He saw now that he was not quite alone. On the bridge of the
steamboat-landing, which was built on piles and ran out for some
distance into the lake, stood the young boatman who, an hour before,
had foretold the storm, and had refused to make the return journey. As
if he felt at home amid this whirlwind, he stood there in his
shirtsleeves, his jacket thrown over his shoulder, bareheaded, smoking
a short pipe, and leaning upon the railing of the bridge. His eyes were
fixed with an evil, piercing fire upon Felix, whom he had probably
mistaken for the young count because he had been busied with the boats.
As soon as the noise of the thunder had died away, he burst out anew in
a loud, scoffing laugh. "So Hiesl is a stupid boor, and doesn't know
anything--not even his own business? He ought to learn it from the city
gentlemen? Ha, ha, ha! I only wish you had had all the flesh washed off
your bones. Ha, ha, ha! Well, look sharp now, and carry the thing
through. It's just jolly inside there, and perhaps next time Heaven
will have sense enough to--"

The howling of the storm drowned the rest of his speech. Felix had a
sharp reply on the tip of his tongue, with which to rebuke the fellow,
and at the same time to show him that he had made a mistake in the
person. But now the tempest broke in such a terrible deluge of rain
that he was absolutely deprived of sight and hearing, and had to grope
his way to reach the house with a tolerably dry skin.

The heavy house-door was torn from its chain by the storm, and closed
behind him with a deafening crash. In the lower entry a number of
people sat at little tables hung on hinges along the wall, and just
large enough to hold the plates and beer-mugs. A country waiting-maid,
who was coming out of the kitchen, told Felix that his party were
up-stairs dancing, and asked whether he wanted anything. He silently
shook his head, and slowly ascended the stairs; not with the intention
of joining his friends, but merely to find where she was, and which
room of the house it would be necessary for him to avoid.

Not a soul was to be seen in the dimly-lighted hall above; but all the
doors stood open on account of the heat, and poured forth a mixture of
lamp-light, smoke, and noise, while the floor creaked under the regular
tread of the dancers, and the air trembled with the surly grumbling of
a gigantic bass-viol. The dancing-hall lay at the extreme end of the
corridor. Felix walked along it without looking into any of the other
rooms until he reached the end door, where he found that, by standing
behind the spectators, he could comfortably overlook all that was going
on within. The bridegroom seemed to be a young forester, and his bride
a burgher's daughter from the city. Consequently, the whole affair had
a certain something about it which distinguished it favorably from
ordinary country weddings, and the couples spun around through the
spacious hall in quite an orderly fashion, and without the customary
shouting, screaming, and romping, to the music of several stringed
instruments, a solitary clarionet, and the occasional sound of a
woodman's horn.

The first couple that Felix made out through the blue mist of
tobacco-smoke was Rosenbusch with his Nanny. And, to his surprise, he
saw Elfinger and his sweetheart waltzing gracefully close behind them;
and the future bride of heaven seemed to abandon herself without much
resistance to this worldly pleasure.

And now even the young countess herself appeared amid this mixed
company, whirled by the young baron, her betrothed, far more rapidly
than would have been good _ton_ at a court ball. Her brother, the
count, stood in a retired corner, apparently paying his court to Aunt
Babette, who would not let herself be seduced into dancing again for
any price in the world. In the adjoining room, which he could only half
overlook, he perceived his friend Kohle, absorbed in an earnest
conversation with the countess.

No trace of Irene anywhere! Could she have hidden from him? It was
hardly possible that she could be in the other rooms, where the more
elderly relatives of the bridal couple sat, eating and talking. And yet
he must know whither she had gone, in order to spare her another
painful meeting.

A waiting-maid entering through one of the open doors just at this
moment, he determined to ask her about the Fräulein. But when he called
to the tidy-looking girl, and she turned her head toward him, a
half-joyful, half-embarrassed cry of surprise escaped them both. A
little more and the girl would have let the mugs fall from her hands.
Trembling and blushing she put down her load on a chair, and covered
her face with her hands.

"What a queer place to meet _you_ in, Zenz!" said Felix, going up to
her kindly and holding out his hand. "How long have you been here? But
you don't know me any longer!--or won't you give me your hand because
you are angry with me?"

The girl stood motionless, leaning against the wall and deeply flushed,
her hands outstretched, with the fingers wide-spread as if in
supplication. She was dressed much more daintily than the waiter-girls
down-stairs; her thick red hair, hanging in two heavy braids down her
back, was wound around with a little string of corals, and her arms
were bare to the elbow. Her charming figure showed to advantage in its
short dress and tight-fitting bodice, and a little rose in her bosom
set off the whiteness of her neckerchief and of her little coquettish
waitress's apron. It was no wonder she found suitors enough out here in
the country, and could play the prude toward the young boatman.

"Well, Zenz," Felix began again, for she still remained silent, "is it
all over with our old friendship? You ran away from me once so
treacherously, you naughty child--I searched every corner for you--but
I bear you no malice on that score. Look here, perhaps you can tell
me what has become of the young Fräulein?--the tall one with the
water-proof? She is not with the others."

"I know the one you mean well enough," the girl answered, suddenly
growing quite unembarrassed, for he behaved so coolly and seemed to
have forgotten all the past. "You mean the handsome one who has
something distinguished about her, more than all the rest. She couldn't
stand it long in the hot rooms, but had a chamber given her up-stairs,
so as to be all alone, for she had such a terrible headache, she said.
Do you know her? But of course you do; you came with the party. Why, I
shouldn't wonder if she were your--"

She broke off and peered in his face, with a sly look. Something of her
old frivolity flickered up in it; but then she scornfully curled her
lips.

"For all I care!" she said, shrugging her shoulders. "What difference
does it make to me who your sweetheart is? Go up the stairs there and
knock at No. 17. You will find what you are looking for."

"Zenz," he answered, with a troubled look, "you are very much mistaken
if you think--But tell me, first of all, how you have been, and whether
you like the life out here better than in the city, and whether I can
help you in any way?"

He felt the necessity of showing his friendliness in some way or other
to this good creature, whose devotion he had so coldly repulsed, that
he might efface the painful remembrance from her mind. She seemed to
feel this, and to be grateful for it. A soft blush--no longer of
embarrassment, but of joy--mounted to her cheeks.

"How do I like it here?" she said, laughing. "Oh, pretty well so far.
The people of the house treat me very well, and if I do my duty, what
do I care for any one else? Only it's just a little dull and lonely
here."

"I imagine there is no lack of people, Zenz, who would be glad to help
you while away the time if you would only let them."

She did not answer at once, but listened in the direction of the
stairs, where some one had just crept up and had stopped half-way as if
to listen. There was a pause in the music, and any one standing on the
dark stairway could not have helped hearing every word that was spoken
on the landing above. The girl's face assumed a slighting, contemptuous
expression. She seemed to know who was standing there on the watch, and
purposely raised her voice so as to give the listener the full benefit
of what she said.

"Have you, too, heard that gossip?" she said. "Well, if any one ever
says to you again that Zenz has got a lover here, give him my best
regards and tell him he is a mean liar. I know very well that the
waiter-girl in Leoni says all sorts of bad things about me because
Hiesl, the fisherman, who used to keep company with her, tries to pay
court to me. But, though I am only a poor girl, I am a hundred times
too good for such a wild fellow as he is, going about on every holiday
picking quarrels, and spending all his money on drinking and bowling.
Just think of it, that little Spanish knife I took from your table that
time by mistake--or rather not by mistake--I really believe, may God
forgive me, I would have liked best to kill myself, I felt so wild and
unhappy that night!--well, I have carried it about with me ever since;
I used to wear it stuck in my bodice instead of the spoon which, as a
waiter-girl, I ought to have carried, and it's not a week ago that I
told Hiesl my opinion of him once for all, and he grew so furious that
he snatched the knife away from me, and cried out 'to remember him if
anything happened,' or something of that kind. But I laughed, and said
unless he gave it back to me something _would_ happen, for I would
complain of him to the police. _He_ my lover! Well, I _should_ be a
fool! Besides, I don't want any lover at all; it always ends in the
girl's being deceived; and the one she can get she doesn't like, and
the one she likes she can't get. And now let me go, Herr Baron, the
ladies and gentlemen inside are waiting, and you must go and pay your
court to the Fräulein. Why should you waste your time out here with a
waitress?"

She made a movement as if to take up her mugs again, but without
hurrying herself particularly.

Just at this moment the music struck up again, playing a cheerful but
not very lively waltz, apparently with the purpose of inviting the more
elderly guests to join the dance.

"Zenz," said Felix, looking her straight in the face, "I don't care
anything about the Fräuleins inside there; and, besides, I don't feel
in a mood for love-making. As soon as the storm is over, I am going off
without taking leave. If any one asks after me, you need only say that
I wanted to be in Starnberg in time to catch the last train. But first
I want to know whether I can't do you a favor of any kind, or get
something for you in the city, or whether you have any wish that a good
friend could fulfill for you? Speak out, Zenz! I am so unhappy myself
that I would like, at least, to give a little bit of happiness to some
one else."

She looked searchingly in his face, as if to see whether he was in
earnest. She could not understand why he should not be happy.

"Do you know," said she, at last, "if what you said was not meant as a
joke, I have a wish, and there is nothing so very terrible about it
either--I would like to dance with you, just once."

"To dance with me?"

"Of course I know well enough what is proper, and that a waiter-girl
shouldn't mix among the wedding-guests unless it happens to be a
peasant's wedding. But to be always hearing this beautiful music, that
makes you tingle down to the tips of your toes, and yet never to be
allowed to swing round with the rest, is very hard. I only mean that it
is almost the same out here in the entry as in the hall--you can hear
every note and the floor is smooth and clean. Will you?"

He still hesitated. He certainly felt in no mood for dancing. But when
she suddenly put out her hand with a quick movement to seize her mugs,
as if she interpreted his hesitation to mean that, after all, he felt
himself too good to be her partner, he could not find it in his heart
to let her go away from him a second time feeling mortified and
insulted.

"You are right, child," he said. "Let us dance. A man needn't be
particularly merry to have dancing feet. Come! But you must show me how
they do it here in the country."

He put his arm round her slight and yielding figure, and she clung to
it with evident pleasure. "It goes splendidly," she whispered, after
the first round. "I feel as if I were being lifted up into heaven. Do
you remember how you put me on your horse, that time? Good Heavens! how
long ago that seems, and yet it's only a few weeks!"

He did not answer, but went on dancing, rather gravely and seriously;
for it was no easy task to move easily up and down through the long,
narrow entry. And all the while he felt that his partner clung to him
more and more tenderly, while he himself remained perfectly cool; and
it was only when it seemed to him that they had had enough, and he had
released the girl from his arms again, in front of the chair on which
her beer-mugs stood, that he stroked her round face caressingly and
said: "Was that right, little one?"

She trembled slightly, glancing over his shoulder in the direction of
the stairs which led to the upper story. Suddenly she pushed him from
her, whispered "Thank you," and, quickly seizing her mugs, ran past him
and down the stairs.

He looked after her in surprise. What was it that had transformed this
girl so suddenly? A sudden suspicion arose within him. He rushed toward
the stairs, and peered up into the darkness. There was no longer
anything to be seen. But he heard a light footstep up above creeping
softly across the entry, and immediately afterward the latch of a door
was heard to fall, and a key was turned in the lock.

A cold shiver passed over him, as the thought suddenly flashed across
him that this must have been she. She had started to go and join the
company, and had turned back when half-way down the stairs, in order
not to disturb his dance with a waiting-maid--!

The discovery was so crushing that he remained standing motionless in
the middle of the corridor, and heard and saw nothing of what was going
on around him. He was finally roused from his stupor by one of the
wedding-guests, who, in stumbling past, struck against him with no
little force. He slowly felt his way down-stairs, passed across the
lower hall, and stepped out into the open air in a truly pitiable state
of mind.

The storm had passed, but the air still trembled from the shock, and
now and then a drop fell from the roof, or the distant reflection of
the fading lightning flashed across the clear sky. The mountains stood
out on the horizon like light, sharply-defined clouds, and the
reflection of the stars danced up and down upon the waves, which seemed
to keep up the turmoil longer than anything else, and still surged
darkly on the shore.

Felix went down to the bank, and walked to the extreme end of the
landing-pier. In the commotion of his thoughts, he found it impossible
to decide as to the course he should pursue. Should he at once seek an
interview with her, and explain how it had all come about--this
inconceivable, unheard-of, unpardonable scene? That after such a
painful meeting he had not scorned to flirt with a waiter-girl; that he
intended anything rather than to play a defiant and indifferent _rôle_;
that only a series of most unfortunate circumstances--but how could he
explain to her what it was that had induced him to behave so tenderly
toward the poor creature? And would she listen to him at all, for that
matter? After all, it seemed as if it would be better for him to write.
But even that would only help him out of the last phase of this
serio-comic dilemma. What was to guard him from a repetition of similar
scenes, if he continued to remain anywhere near her?

He stood for a long time leaning over the railing of the bridge,
staring down into the restless, surging waves, lost in wild thoughts,
while through the open window the clarionet squeaked and the bass-viol
growled, as though there were none but happy people in all the world.

At last, making a violent effort, he roused himself. He was determined
to avoid meeting a human face at any price, and to make his way to
Starnberg on foot.

But, as he turned round, he saw behind him, planted in the middle of
the narrow way, a dark figure, which he immediately recognized as that
of Hiesl, the boatman. In his face, which he could plainly distinguish
in spite of the darkness, he could read the bitterest enmity. Besides,
the fellow had spread his legs, and thrust out his elbows, as if to
obstruct the way, and now stood grinning impudently in his face.

"Fine weather, Herr Graf," he cried, hoarsely and thickly. "Quite fine
again for taking a walk, alone or with a single companion. I suppose
you won't be left alone long--ha, ha, ha! She'll probably get away from
the wedding soon, so as to dance a little while with the Herr Graf, all
alone by yourselves--ha, ha, ha!"

"Get out of the way, fellow!" cried Felix, stepping close up to him.
"If you are seeking a quarrel, you will find you have hit on the wrong
man."

"The wrong man?" blurted out the peasant, who coolly remained standing
where he was, and merely folded his arms across his breast. "That would
be a joke; if I couldn't see who the right man is, two feet off. You
are a count, and I am only a stupid country lout--isn't that the way?
And Zenz dances with you, and hangs on your neck, and turns her back on
me. So now, you see, I know all about it; I'm sober, too, and
understand my business as well as the next man. If the Herr Count would
perhaps like to row out upon the lake with the girl, Hiesl would
consider it an honor to provide a boat for his high-mightiness's
pleasure; and if the stupid country lout has to hold the light for the
Herr Count--"

"Out of my way, you fool!" cried Felix, now angry in his turn at the
jealous fellow's crazy attack. "If you touch me with a finger, I'll
break every bone in your body. I don't understand a word of what you
have been raving about. The waiter-girl isn't my sweetheart, and if it
will give you any satisfaction, you can wait and see whether she will
steal out here to meet me. If you had your five senses about you, and
hadn't left your eyes behind in your beer-mug, you would see that I am
not your Herr Count. So get on! I'm in no humor to stand any more
nonsense!"

The peasant made no answer, nor did he laugh any more; but stared
straight in Felix's face, and stood like a post. And now when Felix
stepped forward to pass by, he suddenly felt himself seized around the
waist and violently pushed back. The blood rushed madly to his
forehead. "You blackguard!" he cried, "if you will have it, you shall."

He struck his adversary in the chest with such force that for a moment
the sturdy fellow's arms relaxed their hold. But the next instant he
felt himself grasped again and forced back to the edge of the wharf,
where the posts projected out of the water as high as a man's head, and
the water itself was deep enough to give plenty of room for the
steamer's keel.

"You or I," gasped the furious peasant. "You or I! If she won't have
me, she sha'n't have you either, you damned city puppy!" He struggled
with renewed fury to push his enemy over the railing. But Felix was on
his guard. By a quick push he gained the shore side again, and forced
his opponent back almost to the last plank. For a moment the battle
paused. The next instant Felix felt a violent stab; a sharp-pointed
instrument had been thrust into him under the armpit between his breast
and shoulder, so that his left arm dropped paralyzed by his side.

He felt at once that he was seriously wounded, and a terrible fury
seized upon him. "Murderer!" he cried; "you cowardly ruffian, you shall
pay for this!"

Exerting all his strength, he threw the fellow to the ground, seized
his throat so firmly with his right hand that he could do nothing but
gasp, and would have strangled him had not the man, who had suddenly
become sober, and who was lying on the very edge of the wharf, been
crafty enough to draw the supple Spanish blade, with all his force,
across the hand that was choking him. The moment the bloody hand
released his throat, he slid over the edge of the wharf and immediately
vanished in the lake below.

The dull, splashing noise of the fall suddenly brought the victor to
his senses. But he felt absolutely indifferent about the fellow's
rising again and gaining the shore. He had no other feeling than one of
disgust at this wild struggle in such a wretched cause. And now, when
he found himself alone on the high wharf, a cold shudder passed over
him, as if he had just shaken off a mad dog and hurled him into the
water. He peered down into the lake and then tried to laugh; but
shuddered anew at his own voice, that sounded so strange to him. Then,
too, the squeaking, idiotic clarionet and the comfortably grunting
bass-viol kept sounding in his ears;--what a world, in which all this
could be huddled so close together! Then, leaning on the railing, over
which the blood from his hand was trickling, he raised himself up, and
was conscious now, for the first time, of a piercing pain in his
shoulder. But his legs still bore him. Away, only away! was all he
thought. The resolution he had previously formed, before the murderous
fellow came in his way, rose clearly before his mind again, to hasten
to Starnberg, from there back to the city, from the city to the ends of
the earth. Only away! without looking back--no matter what was left
behind him!

He took a few steps away from the wharf, in the direction of the road.
But he had not gone far when he lost consciousness, his knees gave way
beneath him, and he fell senseless on the rain-soaked earth.

A moment after the house-door was opened, and Schnetz stepped out into
the open air, followed by Kohle, bearing a large umbrella. The old
countess had begged them to go out and see whether the return trip
might now be taken without danger. They themselves were anxious to
escape as soon as possible from the stifling, sultry tumult of the
wedding festival; while the others, who had caught the dancing fever,
did not appear to notice how the hours had slipped away.

Schnetz cast but a single glance at the heavens, and then said, with
the confidence of an old soldier who has reconnoitred a hostile region:
"It's all right. We may give the signal for breaking camp. But first we
must take a look at the boats. What's become of the baron? Did you
notice, Kohle, that during the whole trip he has been in a mood like
that of a cat in a thunder-storm, for all he pretended to be so quiet?
_Nom d'un nom!_ I wish--"

The word died on his lips. For just at that moment he caught sight of
him of whom he spoke, lying lifeless on the damp ground. He bent over
him in horror, and called him by his name. When no sound came in
answer, and only the pool of blood in which he lay gave sign of what
had happened, he quickly recovered his presence of mind and coolly
weighed the situation.

"There's no medical assistance to be had in this hole," he said; "we
must row him over to Fat Rossel's villa, and send at once for the
Starnberg doctor, who fortunately is said to be a skillful man. What
are you sniveling in that wretched fashion for, Kohle? He isn't going
to die on the spot. In Africa I've seen a man pull through far worse
cases than this. Pluck up your spirits, man, and before all things
don't make a noise. Not a soul must know of this until we are safely in
our boat. We must take Rossel's boat for us three alone, so that he can
lie at full length; how the others will get home is their own lookout.
The young gentlemen will undoubtedly know how to help themselves out of
the scrape."

He tore a leaf from his note-book, and wrote a few words upon it. "So,
give that to Red Zenz, the waiter-girl. She appears to me to be a
plucky sort of person who doesn't lose her head easily. She is not to
give the note to the young baroness, who is the only person here to
whom I owe an explanation, until we have embarked. Make haste, Kohle,
make haste. Meantime I'll be making a bed in the boat."

In five minutes Philip Emanuel came running back again, with Zenz
following close at his heels. She did not speak a word, for Kohle had
enjoined the strictest silence upon her, but her face was as white as
chalk; and when she saw the wounded man she fell on her knees beside
him and groaned aloud.

"Be quiet," commanded the lieutenant; "this is no time for whimpering.
Have you got a piece of linen, girl? We must make a bandage."

Still remaining on her knees, she tore off her white apron and the
kerchief round her neck. It was only when Schnetz had hastily bound up
the shoulder and the wound in the hand, and, with Kohle's aid, had
carefully borne the unconscious form into the boat, that she raised
herself from the ground and followed the men to the shore.

"I am going with you," she said softly, but very decidedly. "I must go
with you. I gave the note to the other waiter-girl; she will see that
it is delivered. For Christ's sake, let me go with you! Who else is
there to take care of him?"

"Nonsense!" growled Schnetz; "he won't need any care on the way over,
and on the other side there is help enough. What are you thinking of,
girl? You can't run away from service in this free-and-easy way."

"Who is to hinder me?" she said, laughing defiantly in the midst of all
her anxiety and wretchedness. "I belong to no one. I tell you I will go
with you, if it were only to hold his head on my lap on the way, so
that he would lie softer. If you won't take me with you--there's an old
dug-out over there--I'll row after you as true as my name is Zenz. I
must hear what the doctor says, and whether he will live."

"Then come along, in the devil's name, you witch; but no shrieking and
bawling. Get into the boat, Kohle; so, lift him carefully now--and you,
girl, take a seat in the middle. It's true, it won't do any harm if he
has something softer under his head than this bundle of sticks."

A few minutes more and the slender boat pushed off from the shore.
Schnetz rowed and Kohle sat at the tiller again; but, instead of the
merry company that had occupied these same seats but a few hours
before, amusing themselves with singing and flute-playing, there now
lay on the bottom of the boat a white, silent passenger, with closed
eyes; and at his head crouched a pale girl, who, from time to time,
silently dried with her long red locks the heavy drops of blood which
oozed out from under the bandages. Her head was sunk upon her breast.
The others must not see how the big tear-drops coursed steadily down
her cheeks.



                             CHAPTER VIII.


Up-stairs, in a bare, meanly-furnished room of the tavern, lay Irene.

The dim beams of the setting sun shone in through the little
window-panes, which were still dripping from the rain, but did not
penetrate to the sofa where the poor girl cowered in an agony of grief,
covering her face with her hands and vainly trying to close her ears so
tightly with the folds of her hood that she should not hear the music
of the waltz below. The walls and floors of the lightly-built upper
story groaned under the regular step of the dance. Never in all her
life, she thought, had she been more wretched and miserable, not even
in those gloomy days before she resolved to write Felix a letter of
farewell. Then there was still a certain greatness, dignity, and
harmony left both within and about her; now her condition was painful
and revolting to a degree that seemed almost pitiably ridiculous.

She, lying up here in torture; and he down below in the best of
spirits, whirling about with a waiter-girl in his arms, to the music of
a peasant's orchestra--not among the other wedding-guests even, but
apart, secretly, in the way one only dances when one is very much in
the mood for it, or very much in love! She did not even have the
consolation of thinking he had done this merely out of defiance to her,
out of secret lovesickness and grief. He could not possibly have had a
suspicion that she would come down and surprise him at his dance; that
she would see how tightly the girl clung to him, and how reluctantly
she finally released herself from his arms.

She had flown up-stairs as if pursued by a ghost, had pushed the bolt
to behind her with trembling hands, and had thrown herself on the hard
little sofa, and shut her eyes and bowed her head as if now the death
blow might fall at any moment. And down below, the jovial bassviol
hummed and buzzed, and the clarionet abandoned itself to the most
extravagant passages.

For the moment she hated this man, whom heretofore, through all their
separation, she had mourned over as one does over a dead friend, who,
though lost, is still dear forever. When she thought that the hand
which had once caressed her had stroked the chin of this coarse
red-haired girl, a pang of bitter aversion shot through her heart, as
if she felt herself humiliated and dishonored by the mere association.
She shed no tears, but only because her pride rose up in all its
strength against such a proceeding. And yet she had to bite into the
silk lining of her hood with her little teeth in order to suppress her
sobbing and restrain her weeping.

She felt that she must take some step to put an end to this unbearable
state of things; that she must start the very next morning on the
Italian journey which had been so unfortunately postponed. But to-day,
now, when before all else she must avoid meeting him again, she must
escape from this mad-house where she stood in positive danger of going
crazy herself.

Just then a knock was heard at the door. She sprang to her feet in
alarm. If it should be he? if he had come, perhaps, to justify himself
to her; to excuse his outrageous behavior?

She was incapable of uttering a sound; and, even after the knock had
been repeated a second time, she was unable to ask who was there. It
was only when she heard the voice of the waiter-girl, who called
through the door that she had a message to deliver to the Fräulein,
that she found strength to drag herself with trembling knees to the
door, and open it. She took a note from the girl's hand, shook her head
quickly in reply to the question whether she wanted a light, and bolted
the door in the face of the hastily-dismissed messenger, who would have
been glad of a chance to talk a little.

There was light enough at the window for her to decipher the martial
handwriting of the lieutenant.


"My friend has suddenly been taken very ill. I must transport him to
Rossel's villa without delay. Please to excuse my desertion to the
other ladies. Commending myself to the indulgence of my noble young
mistress, I remain, in the most devoted haste,

                                               "SCHNETZ."


"My friend"--she knew that no other could be meant than Felix; and yet
this news, which, at any other time, would have given her a deadly
shock, came to her now like a release from the bitterest torture. Would
she not bear anything rather than know that he was happy after the
wrong he had done her? Might not the outrageous scene she had just
witnessed be explained as coming from a freak of fever--from a last
flaring-up of his spirits before the final breaking-down? Then, in
spite of all, he was still worthy of her secret thoughts--ay, she even
owed him some apology, and could grieve for him, and show him that
sympathy which we owe to all who are in suffering.

A heavy weight fell from her heart. She read the note a second time.
"Rossel's villa?"--that lay only half an hour's walk from theirs. She
might get news before the evening was over. Schnetz would very likely
come himself and tell her.

But, while she was absorbed in such thoughts, she let her eyes sweep
across the lake, and saw the boat, rowed by Schnetz and Kohle, just
pushing off from the shore. The twilight was still bright enough to
enable her to distinctly recognize the girl in the waitress's dress,
who sat on the low seat and held the youth's head in her lap. If there
had still been any doubt in the watcher's mind, it would have been put
at rest by the sight of the red braids, with which the little Samaritan
appeared to be caressing the insensible man.

With quick strokes of the oars the boat shot out on the broad surface
of the lake. A few minutes, and the figures in it had faded into
shadows. Soon, only a faint line on the lake's polished mirror
indicated the course the silent craft had taken.

A quarter of an hour after, Irene entered the room next to the
dancing-hall, where the old countess was impatiently awaiting the
return of her cavalier, who had only left her to make preparations for
the homeward voyage. She was frightened by the Fräulein's colorless
face, and overwhelmed her with anxious inquiries. Irene handed her the
lieutenant's note, in lieu of any other answer. The lively excitement
into which this very unfortunate incident threw the good lady diverted
her thoughts completely from Irene's condition. The young people, too,
who were hastily called away from their dancing, were far too much
occupied with one another, and with the question what was to be done,
to find anything odd in Irene's mute and stony manner. Besides, she had
already complained of a headache. The countess scolded at Schnetz for
having taken no thought of her. To whom could they intrust the guidance
of the vessel now? She flatly refused Elfinger's and Rosenbusch's
willingly-offered aid, nor would she listen to such a thing as their
looking about for a boatman in the house, but declared that now no
price would induce her to trust herself upon the water again. Instances
had been known where the wind had suddenly sprung up and driven back a
thunder-storm that had once passed over!

In the mean while, the young count had been in consultation with the
landlord, and now came to report that a carriage could be ready
immediately, which would easily carry them to Starnberg inside of an
hour. The other party might then make use of their boat, unless they
should prefer to wait until the vehicle came back. But as the sky was
clear, and the night warm and lovely, both the sisters and Aunt Babette
thought it would be more advisable to make the voyage across than to
wait several hours more in the close house.

So they took leave of the wedding-guests with more or less ceremony,
and made preparations for starting. The old countess, who, for several
hours past, had shown herself extremely gracious as long as Schnetz was
present to act as go-between, and the unknown young baron had lent a
certain respectability to his burgher friends, now suddenly seemed to
become conscious again of the gulf between her and the savers of her
life--particularly in the case of the girls, whom she did not honor
with another word. She gave Rosenbusch to understand, in pretty plain
language, that she was very angry with Schnetz, who had quite forgotten
all "_égards_" toward her, and had gone off without even coming to take
leave in person. The battle-painter, who found himself placed in a
rather embarrassing situation, was just on the point of making some
excuse for his absent friend, when suddenly the words stuck in his
throat. They had left the house in order to wait outside until the
carriage should be ready. There, on the white gravel close to the bank,
Rosenbusch saw a dark spot, from which a broad trail of drops ran down
as far as the landing-place. "Good God!" he cried. "What is this?
Blood? Freshly-shed blood? Countess, if this blood should really have
come from our baron, our friend Schnetz would undoubtedly be justified,
even by the severest court of honor, for having failed in the laws
of courtesy. I beseech you, don't let the others learn anything of
this--young ladies are so devilish timid and frightened at the sight of
blood--"

Unfortunately the warning came too late. Irene had just stepped up to
the place where they were standing. When she caught sight of the
ghastly trace, she uttered a low cry, staggered back, and leaned for a
moment upon Rosenbusch, who officiously sprang to her assistance. This
scene caused the others to hasten up; and after the first shock was
over, they exhausted themselves in speculations upon this mysterious
occurrence. Who could possibly believe in hemorrhage in a young
man of such conspicuous strength and powerful figure? And as for a
fight--where were they to look for an adversary?

The friends were still standing around the ghastly spot, shocked and
not knowing what to do, when one of the hostlers, belonging to the
hotel, came running up and told them he had also discovered traces of
blood on the landing-bridge, and this knife lying near them, on the
bank. It was not an ordinary peasant's knife with the blade fastened
firmly in the handle, but a slim dagger of Damascus steel, and the
handle bore a distinct impression of a bloody hand; no one except Irene
knew to whom it had belonged.

In the mean while the carriage had driven up, and they lifted Irene in.
Though still suffering terribly, she struggled hard to maintain her
composure. The mother and daughter and the two young men crowded into
the other places as well as they could. Another short leave-taking,
whose brevity was perfectly explained by the gloomy mood they were all
in, and the aristocratic part of the company rolled away.

A few minutes later the boat pushed off from the shore, rowed by
Rosenbusch and Elfinger. The night was still and clear, and the cool
wind blew, soft and damp, upon the girls' hot cheeks. But they sat
nestled close to one another, and gazed in silence at the sparkling
water; nor did either of the friends utter a word. Aunt Babette alone
made a slight attempt at conversation, by saying how amiable these
aristocratic persons were upon nearer acquaintance, and what a pity it
was they could not have returned home together; for she had been
telling the young count so much about Rosenbusch's flute-playing.

As no one made any answer to all this, she, too, grew silent, folded
her hands in her lap, and appeared sunk in pious meditation.



                              CHAPTER IX.


It was close upon midnight when Irene's uncle returned, in his open
wagon, from a trip to the Ammersee. The old lion-hunter was in glorious
spirits; he had made several bull's-eyes at the shooting-match; had
made love to the ladies; and had found a willing ear for his most
fabulous African hunting-tales even among the men. Even his famous
story of how he had aimed a double-barreled English rifle at a lioness,
and had fired two shots so rapidly one after the other, that the ball
from the right barrel shot out the animal's right eye, and that from
the other the left--even this narrative, about whose truthfulness some
doubts had occasionally been expressed, was apparently swallowed in all
faith. The champagne had done all the rest; so that the happy man
started out of the sweetest dreams when his carriage drew up before the
wicket-gate of the Starnberg villa.

He was surprised to see that the balcony-room was still lighted up. It
was not in the least like Irene to allow an affectionate anxiety for
her night-owl of an uncle to keep her awake, and all signs of light
were extinguished in the neighboring houses. Then it occurred to him
that perhaps Schnetz had decided to stay out overnight, and to sit up
until his return. He was glad of this, for it would afford him an
opportunity to give an account of his triumphs to a connoisseur in such
matters; and he was therefore disagreeably disappointed when, upon his
entering the little _salon_ up-stairs where the light was burning, his
young niece alone advanced to meet him.

Her face looked so strangely agitated, her manner was so excited, that
his champagne spirits departed on the instant, and he asked, in great
alarm, what had happened, and what had become of friend Schnetz? and
why Irene, who was evidently unwell, had not gone to bed?

Speaking rapidly and with difficulty, she gave him an account of what
had passed. Not until she had finished the story did the name of him
who had played the chief _rôle_ in this bloody catastrophe pass her
lips.

But the effect produced by her account was very different from what she
had expected.

Instead of expressing horror and sympathy the lively gentleman ran
around the room uttering a cry of joy, rubbing his hands and behaving
himself generally in such a delighted way, that Irene regarded him with
amazement, and finally asked him whether he had been listening to her,
or whether his thoughts were still with the merry hunting-party he had
just quitted.

"No, no! my dearest child," he cried, suddenly halting before her. "You
suspect me wrongly. Unfortunately I am accustomed to being
misunderstood by you, and to being accused of a frivolity which
sometimes overtakes me even in those moments when my proud little niece
assumes her most tragic tone. But, believe me, Irene dear, I see no
reason in this whole catastrophe that you have told me of to change my
way of thinking. That our Felix has lost a few drops of blood will not
do the scapegrace any particular harm, perhaps, and will take the
wildness out of him a little. At the worst, there will be no immediate
bad consequence--for that I can trust my good old Schnetz; and
Providence will not be so foolish as to send such a fine young fellow
over the bourn by such a miserable knife-scratch as this. And if we
escape with a simple fright, the whole situation will be left in the
best condition imaginable to repair some foolish errors that we have
made. Come, my child! Look me in the face, and confess that in secret
you are of my opinion."

She looked him directly in the eyes, but with a sad expression.

"We misunderstand one another again, uncle."

"Say, rather, you don't think it becoming to wish to understand my
honest and candid opinion. But, since you are ten times brighter and
more diplomatic than an old hunter and soldier like myself--"

"I entreat you, uncle--"

"You can't fail to understand, without any further explanations on my
part, that it amuses me enormously to see our youngster Felix, whom I
imagined to be wandering about God knows where, a sighing and rejected
suitor, suddenly turn up next door to us. Do you mean to tell me that
chance has arranged all this so skillfully? Pooh, pooh!--you can't
cheat me. I tell you he has been traveling after us, and has secretly
followed his old flame, whom he still worships, into the primeval
forests of Starnberg and across the tempestuous lake of Würm; and,
since there was no other way of making up to you again with any
self-respect, he has adopted the very wisest course, and one that never
fails in its effect upon you soft-hearted souls, namely, that of
creeping into your sympathy by means of a few ounces of spilt blood, of
which article, by-the-way, he still possesses a very fair abundance.
And now--"

"Unless you want me to leave the room, uncle, spare me these perfectly
groundless insinuations. Have I not told you that he had no suspicion
of our plan to make a stay in Munich, and that Schnetz told me how he
entered a studio with his old friend Jansen, with the intention of
becoming a sculptor? But even if it were all just as you have arranged
it in your own mind--what difference would it make in my resolution?
Hasn't this unfortunate meeting proved the truth of all that I said to
myself when I gave him back his promise?--has it not confirmed my
belief that we could never be happy together? And yet, you imagine I
would think differently of him because he now lies dangerously ill, and
perhaps dying, of wounds which were undoubtedly given him by his rival,
that peasant fellow--in a fight--about a tavern-waiter--"

Her voice failed her; she turned away to repress her tears; but her
passionate pain overcame her, and, bursting into uncontrollable
sobbing, she sank back on a chair near the open door leading on to the
balcony.

Even the jovial mood of her good-hearted foster-father was not proof
against this passionate outburst of long-suppressed feeling. He had
always regarded the girl's self-possessed bearing with amazement, and
had secretly attributed to her a certain coldness of heart, for she had
never given him an insight into the struggles and storms of her young
life. And now she sat before him like a child that has given way to its
grief, deaf, apparently, to all comforting words and caresses.

"You will bring things to such a pass," he cried, in ludicrous
desperation, "that I shall be forced to take up my old trade, and go
out lion-hunting again in my old age. Upon my word it's less wearing
work than having anything to do with a pair of estranged lovers, who
will neither come together nor yet separate entirely. The thing worked
passably as long as you were able to face it out. After all, although I
always looked upon it as a piece of foolishness for you to give such a
lover his dismissal, just because he didn't want to kiss the slipper
before his marriage: still, I supposed you must know what you were
about, and it was impossible for me to supply a mother's place toward
you, and explain how we men ought to be managed. At all events, things
ran smoothly, and we went on living peacefully together. But now, when
the ice suddenly breaks and you lose all control over yourself--tell
me, what in the world am I to do? My experience with wild animals has
made me something of a savage; but I instantly become the most cowardly
and chicken-hearted of domestic animals if a woman--and particularly
one I care so much for--begins to cry in my presence."

She suddenly drew herself up, shook back her curls and passed her hand
across her eyes.

"You shall not have to complain of it again, uncle," she said, in a
determined tone; "most assuredly, never again. You are right; it is
foolish to cry about something that was all over long ago. You will
never, never see me do it again."

"My brave girl!" he said, embracing her and kissing her wet cheek, a
liberty he very seldom ventured to take. "I am glad you still care a
little for your old uncle. But now, go to bed, for it has grown so
late--"

"To bed!--in this terrible state of anxiety? What are you thinking of,
uncle? Will it be possible for you to sleep?"

"Why not, you little goose? Ay, the sleep of the righteous, for I have
done my duty to-day, and have shown how our race can shoot--"

"And you can deep before you know how he is?--and what the doctor has
said? I should have sent over to inquire before this, but the people of
the house are all asleep, and my maid Louisa is a stranger here and
would not be able to find the place."

"And you think I myself--well, I must confess!--at one o'clock at
night, tired to death by all my laurels--"

"Uncle, unless you want to see me die of anxiety--"

She threw herself into his arms, and clung to him in such helpless
entreaty that he could not resist. Sighing, and bitterly cursing in his
heart the feminine caprice which could first cast off a fine young
fellow and then make her life hang on his, he left the house once more.

She called down to him from the balcony, gave him the directions for
finding the nearest way to the physician's house, and then stood there
motionless, in the cool night air, waiting for his return.

He came back in a quarter of an hour, but brought no comforting
intelligence. The physician had not yet returned from Rossel's villa,
and would, in all probability, spend the night there. He had made the
physician's wife, whom he had routed up out of her sleep, promise
faithfully to send news the first thing in the morning.

So there was no help for it, the night had to be passed in the most
agonizing state of uncertainty.

But before the sun had long been shining across the lake, the physician
came in proper person; led, not only by the message that had been left
for him the night before, but also by a note that Schnetz had
commissioned him to deliver to his old comrade and brother-in-arms. In
this missive, in his own odd style, he supplemented the physician's
bulletin by all sorts of details. The wound in the hand, he said, in
conclusion, was, it was to be hoped, of no great account; a sinew had
been grazed, but not cut through, so that the determination of this
noble youth to augment the number of breadless stone-hewers would, in
all probability, not be defeated by the brutal intervention of a
Bavarian fist. The physician, on the other hand, reported that the
wound in the left shoulder was not altogether without danger, as the
stab had reached the extremity of one of the lungs, and a long rest and
course of nursing would be necessary before the arm could be used
again. For the rest, the patient would receive the best of care in Herr
Rossel's villa; his blood and circulation were in a thoroughly healthy
condition, and serious danger was quite out of the question.

The doctor, who had never before seen the baron and the beautiful,
silent Fräulein, and who found nothing strange in her sympathy, as she
had formed one of the party on the day before, soon took his leave,
with a promise to keep them regularly informed about the case. Scarcely
had he gone, when Irene declared she would not go away from the place
until all danger was over; but that then she would not breathe the air
on this side of the Alps a moment longer--it weighed upon her spirits.

Her uncle had to give her his word of honor that he would consent to
this arrangement, and also that he would not let Schnetz observe how
deeply they were both interested in the wounded man, but would explain
their sympathy as arising from pure philanthrophy. And it really was
nothing more than that, she said.

Even though every inner bond was severed between them, still, she would
never be able to answer for it to her conscience if she should start
off before the question whether he might not possibly need her had been
definitely set at rest.



                               CHAPTER X.


Was it nothing but abstract philanthropy that suffered Irene to find no
rest in any place or any occupation all that day, in spite of the
comforting assurances of the doctor?--that drove her from the piano to
the writing-desk, from the writing-desk out on to the balcony, and from
the garden down to the shore? Not a step sounded on the floor, not a
carriage rolled past in the street, but what she trembled. She had
herself sufficiently under control, however, not to betray her
nervousness by a single word. But her feverish restlessness did not
escape her uncle, who, the night before, had gained for the first time
a clear insight into a nature usually so proud. He was secretly
rejoiced at this, much as he pitied the poor child in her restless
grief. For the first time in years he felt that he was the wiser of the
two; that he was being justified by the course things were taking, and
that his good advice, which had once been scorned, was now redounding
to his credit. But as he really loved her, he behaved with the most
labored delicacy and consideration toward the young sufferer; never
touched her hidden wound by a single word, and only grumbled now and
then at the faithless Schnetz, who, considering the slight distance
that separated them, might certainly have come over and given him a
report of the patient by word of mouth.

He knew that this thought was never out of Irene's mind for a moment,
and that all her listening and waiting turned upon it. But when the
afternoon came, and no new message made its appearance, he threw his
rifle over his shoulder, kissed the hand of his pale little niece, and
left the house to scour the woods for a while. If Schnetz should show
himself in the mean while, they were to hold him prisoner for the
evening.

Scarcely did Irene find herself alone, when she fancied she could not
breathe the air in the close little rooms any longer. She hastily
caught up her sketch-book, put on her hat, and called her maid to
accompany her for a walk. She had recently discovered a picturesque
spot, with old trees and high ferns, farther back in the woods, which
she wanted to sketch. She trusted that she should be able to find it
again.

Once outside in the streets, she took such quick steps that the girl
could hardly keep up with her. But Louisa was too well-trained to take
the liberty of asking any inquisitive questions. That her mistress was
not just as usual; that she kept her head turned away as much as
possible, and did not address a single word to her faithful attendant,
she could not, indeed, help noticing. But then these high ladies have
their moods. At first, the Fräulein seemed to be looking around, right
and left, in search of the goal of her artistic efforts. Then, after
they had walked along the forest-road for about a quarter of an hour,
and one villa after another, lying amid park and garden shrubbery,
began to appear on the bank of the lake to the left, the most lovely
old tree-trunks and foreground effects could not win a look from her.
Several times she stood still before one of the gates, and appeared to
be speculating as to who might live in the house beyond. The day
before, Schnetz had given her, in his favorite manner, a humorous
description of "Fat Rossel's" villa, and had cut a silhouette of its
occupant out of a piece of blotting-paper. These were but weak clews.
So she went on farther and farther, and her cheeks grew more and more
flushed from the rapid exercise, and her companion, who was rather
inclined to corpulence, found it harder than ever to keep up with her.

At last she ventured to ask a laborer whom they met, carrying a
pick-axe and shovel, where Herr Rossel's villa was. The man pointed to
a park-fence made of rough, pine stakes, and was very much amazed when
the young lady rewarded this trivial service with a bright half-gulden.

"Louisa," the Fräulein said, standing still for a moment to recover her
breath and push back her hair, "you will wait for me outside here. I
have to make some inquiries about something in the garden, and will be
back directly. The spot where I meant to sketch lies off to the right,
in the middle of the wood, and I see now that the afternoon light will
not be as favorable as I thought. It doesn't matter. I shall still be
able to draw a few lines. In the mean while hold my sketch-book--or no,
I will take it with me--you would be sure to get the leaves out of
order. Sit down there on that stump. I sha'n't be gone more than five
minutes."

The girl obeyed without a word. She had never before heard the name of
the gentleman about whom Irene inquired. She tried to make out some
connection in the whole mysterious affair. But as she did not succeed,
she soon gave up thinking about it, and rejoiced at this comfortable
rest in the cool quiet of the woods after her quick walk.

In the mean time her young mistress had hurried over the rest of the
way. The park in the rear of Rossel's little house appeared to be quite
empty and deserted, nor was any one to be seen at the windows. For a
moment she stood hesitating at the little wicket-gate before she could
muster up courage to lift the latch. Then she opened the gate quickly
and entered the little shady inclosure, through which wound a number of
well-swept gravel paths.

But now, as she stepped out from among the pines, and saw before her
the flower-garden and the lawn, whose green turf extended to the
threshold of the house, she stopped in alarm, and would have given a
great deal could she have retired into the shadow again unobserved. For
right in front of her, in the midst of a clump of tall rosebushes from
which she was cutting the finest flowers for a bouquet, stood Zenz, who
recognized her at the first glance, and did not appear at all surprised
to meet the Fräulein here again, after the events of the day before.

She gave Irene a good-natured and confidential nod, and said, without
waiting to be addressed:

"You have come most likely to inquire after the Herr Baron--haven't
you, now? Well, I am much obliged for your kind inquiry; and he is
getting on just as well as ever as he can, the doctor says. Only he
must be kept very quiet and can't receive any visits from strangers.
That's the reason we carried him right off last evening into the studio
up there in the turret, where he can't hear a sound from the kitchen
and the rooms below; so that even when old Katie has one of her
tantrums, and storms and raves about, it won't disturb his peace at
all. But not a soul can go in to see him except Herr von Schnetz, Herr
Kohle, Herr Rossel--and I, of course, because I am his nurse. I have
just run down into the garden to cut him a few roses. It's a good thing
to have something pretty by a sick person's bed, so that it will please
him when he wakes up. Meantime Herr Kohle is sitting by him and looking
after the ice bandages."

While she was prattling on in this _naïve_ strain, Irene had the
greatest difficulty in restraining her secret aversion toward the girl,
who innocently went on with her work; appearing quite a reputable
person, too, now that she was without her waitress's apron, and had her
red braids simply coiled around her head.

"I wish to speak to Lieutenant von Schnetz a moment," replied Irene, in
the coldest possible tone, "since, as you say, he is not busy just now
in the sick chamber--"

"The lieutenant? He is asleep. See, Fräulein, over there where the
curtains are let down. He has been lying there for the last two hours,
trying to make up a little bit for what he lost last night. Good
Heavens! What a fright we did have! and every one had more than his
hands full before we could get a decent bandage made, especially as old
Katie couldn't have been waked out of her sleep if the world had been
coming to an end. So I staid here, too, so that there might be some one
to wait on the gentlemen. There are so many things about which men
folks, even the very wisest of them, are as foolish as little children.
Isn't it so, Fräulein? And then--I couldn't bear to be anywhere else,
until I know that he is sure to get sound and well again. When people
have known each other as well as we two--and only to think that such a
thing as this could happen, and that a splendid handsome gentleman like
him should be almost stabbed to death just because of a poor girl like
me, and he quite innocent, too--"

Irene had made a movement as though to leave the place as quickly as
possible. These last words made her think better of it.

"Innocent?" she said, carelessly, without looking at Zenz. "Do you
know, then, how it all came about?"

"To be sure I do," cried the girl, eagerly; "I was the cause of it all!
I wouldn't have anything to say to him, to Hiesl, I mean, and why
shouldn't I confess that I like the baron! There can't be a handsomer
or better man in the world, and when he smiles upon you, in his kind
way, you seem to feel it away down in your heart. And yet he isn't
proud at all, nor impudent and bad to a poor girl, like other young
gentlemen; it isn't any disgrace for me to like him better than a rough
fellow like Hiesl. Oh! Fräulein, I don't know how you feel about love,
or whether you have a sweetheart, but I--before I saw the Herr Baron
one man was just the same to me as another, and now it seems as if
there were only this one man under God's heaven; and whatever he says
and wants, that I must do, as if it were the Lord himself who ordered
me. But he--and you may believe this on my honor and as I hope to be
saved--he never thinks of such a thing. He knows well enough how I feel
toward him, but he never gives me a thought, and though I'm not pretty
I can't be so very ugly either. At all events if I wanted to I could
twist Herr Rossel round my little finger. But many thanks! I would
rather love one who doesn't care a bit about me, than be loved by one
that I don't like!"

Meantime she had gone on tying up her bouquet, and now she held it up
with a bright laugh which showed all her white teeth. "Isn't it
beautiful?" she said. "But you won't even look at it, Fräulein. Don't
you like flowers?"

Irene started out of a deep reverie. Her cheeks burned, and she
struggled vainly to maintain her reserve toward this girl, whose frank
and perfectly unselfish nature she could not help liking, do what she
would.

"And you think it perfectly proper?" she managed at last to say. "It
never occurred to you that you are doing anything out of the way in
openly following into a strange house, where there are other men, some
one who does not care anything about you? Though, to be sure, what does
it matter to me what you do or don't do?"

The girl let fall the hand that held the flowers, and gazed straight
into the eyes of this young preacher of morality, with an expression
that betrayed much more surprise than anger.

"Run after him?" she repeated. "No, Fräulein, I should never think of
such a thing; that _would_ be stupid. For Black Theresa, where I used
to live, has often told me that men only like a poor girl so long as
they have to run after _her_. And because I didn't feel sure of myself,
and knew that if I lived in the same city with him I could not live
without seeing him and watching for him at the places where he usually
went--so that I should grow hateful to him at last, while now he is at
least kind to me--I came out here into the country and hired myself out
as a waiter-girl in the inn over yonder. But you see for yourself I was
not to get away from him; and now, when he lies at the point of death,
all along of a silly thing like me, and needs my help--no, Fräulein, I
didn't blame myself at all for having run after him, and I should
consider myself a very bad and heartless girl indeed, if I thought
anything about myself and what people might say. I would follow him
through a forest of wild beasts just to nurse him, and why not into a
house full of good friends of his, none of whom would bite me, just
because all have seen that I don't do it for love of them, but only for
the sake of him who doesn't care the least bit about me. There, now,
don't be angry with me for having told you this right out. I must go
back into the house and see whether Herr Kohle needs any fresh ice from
the cellar. Shall I give him any message from you; tell him that you
called, and hoped he would soon get well?"

Irene had turned away. She felt herself so put to shame by the nature
of this girl, whom she had thought so far beneath her; her own behavior
looked so mean, narrow, and selfish reflected in the mirror of this
absolute, humble, joyful self-sacrifice, and the thought that she must
relinquish to another the place at his sick-bed so cut her to the heart
that she could not restrain her tears, and did not even think of trying
to hide her overflowing eyes from the astonished girl.

"Go back to him and give him a message from me!--and nurse him--and--I
will come again--to-morrow, at this time--no one need know about it
besides yourself. What is your name?"

"Crescenz. But they only call me Red Zenz."

"Good-by, Crescenz--I did you wrong! You are a good girl--far, far
better than many others. Adieu!"

She held out her hand to the bewildered girl, who was at a loss how to
reconcile the Fräulein's sudden kindness with her former coldness. Then
she turned hastily, and disappeared among the cedar-trees in the park.

Shaking her head, Zenz stood gazing after her.

"She is in love with him, too, that is certain!" she said to herself;
and then it occurred to her that Felix had immediately asked her about
this Fräulein, yesterday at the inn. In her thoughts she placed the two
side by side, and was forced to admit, with a quiet sigh, that they
looked as if they were made for one another. She did not trouble
herself particularly as to how far matters had gone between them. For
that matter she never had any thoughts for anything except what was
near at hand; and, as she looked at her bouquet and said to herself
that she should be praised for bringing it, her round face broke into a
smile again and she tripped gayly into the house.

In the studio up-stairs, by the side of a low couch on which Felix was
lying in a feverish sleep, sat Fat Rossel, who seemed to have
completely shaken oft his indolence, now that he had to do with so
serious an affair. He had, it is true, had his American rocking-chair
brought upstairs, but otherwise he vied with his friends in performing
the duties of the sick-room. It is possible, too, that the proximity of
the girl, whose sudden appearance under his roof had made him very
thoughtful, had been instrumental in working this miracle. Not only the
sarcastic Schnetz, but even the innocent and artless Kohle, had been
struck, from the very first, by the respectful and almost chivalrous
manner with which he, usually so hard to move, bore himself toward the
girl, little grateful or susceptible as she showed herself for his
homage. She sought to be nothing in the house but an extra servant, and
conducted herself quietly and modestly toward old Katie; and it was
only when a question arose about the care of the wounded patient that
she expressed her opinion unasked. It was soon evident that, with all
her narrowness and her extremely limited education, she had a natural
preference for everything tasteful, convenient, and pleasant, so that
the little household ran like clockwork, and old Katie found no time to
grumble at the increase in the number of the family, but could give
herself up, just as before, to her quiet vice.

Kohle stood at his easel. In spite of the excitement of an almost
sleepless night, his tireless fancy still kept on working, and he was
engaged at this moment in transferring the little sketch of the second
picture to a sheet of the size of the first completed cartoon.

"You are, and always will be, a confirmed idealist," said Rossel, in a
low tone, without raising his eyes from Felix's sleeping figure.
"Instead of taking advantage of the opportunity and making some
splendid studies from real life here, you quietly work away at your
fables and turn your back on this fine specimen of Nature."

"I merely want to sketch in the outlines of the figures," the artist
responded. "It flashed across me, early this morning, to try whether
they will do on a large scale as well as in the sketch. I think, after
all, I shall have to shift this central group a little more to the
left, so as to give the whole more symmetry."

"Any stranger hearing you talk in this way, Kohle, my boy, would
suppose you were such an unsympathetic art-machine that even in the
midst of murder and violence you could think of nothing but your Venus.
But I know that with you it is merely an unconscious way of keeping up
your heart, just as Schnetz drank a glass of schnapps and I smoked a
chibouque after the first pull was over. Every one has a specific by
which he swears, and yours, moreover, is one of the sort that never
runs dry. But now, just come here and take a look at this model. After
all, these aristocratic families now and then produce some fine
specimens, turned out after the true _noblesse oblige_ principle. What
a neck and shoulders this youngster has! And just see, Kohle, how the
biceps stands out through his tight-fitting shirt-sleeves. A young
Achilles, _corpo di Bacco!_ Upon my word I should just like, now, in
this soft evening light, if I only had colors and canvas--"

"I can help you out with those," interrupted Kohle, also speaking in a
carefully suppressed voice. "I provided myself with a palette only
yesterday--old Katie wants to have her portrait painted for her
grandchild--I think the canvas--"

"Don't bother yourself about it, my good fellow. Perhaps, after all, it
is more sensible of me to study him with my eyes. But look, he tosses
about so often! And now again, it's fine the way the forehead is
rounded out, and then the splendid form of the brows. No wonder he has
good luck with the women; and that even that witch Zenz, who, as a
general thing, is as unapproachable as you please, runs after this fine
fellow like Kätchen von Heilbronn. I only wish--"

At this moment the door opened, and she of whom he was speaking stole
in on tiptoe with her bouquet. But, light as her step was, it seemed to
have awakened the sleeper. He groaned slightly, threw his right arm
above his head and then slowly opened his eyes.

"Beautiful flowers!" he murmured. "Good-morning! How goes it!--how is
art getting on?"

Then, without waiting for an answer, and as if he were recalling to his
mind a face that had appeared to him in his dreams, he said:

"I only wish I knew--whether it were really she. Has any one--asked
after me?"

Zenz approached softly and held the bouquet before him, so that his
pale face blushed from the reflection of the dark roses, and said, in a
whisper:

"I have a message for you from the beautiful Fräulein; she was down in
the garden to inquire after you, and she hopes you will soon be well
again. Oh, you know who I mean! The one over yonder, who didn't want to
dance with the rest."

His eyes still rested on the bouquet; the words that he heard overcame
him with such happiness and bliss that he believed he was still
dreaming. By a powerful effort he raised his head a little, so as to
hide his burning face in the flowers. "Zenz," he said, "is that--really
true?"

"As true as I live; and she even began to cry at last, so that I felt
sorry for her myself, although--"

A smile passed over the sick man's lips. He tried to speak, but his
emotion had been too violent. A dizziness overcame him, and, with a
gentle sigh, which did not sound like a sigh of pain, he closed his
eyes and immediately sunk back into a quiet slumber.



                               _BOOK V_.



                               CHAPTER I.


On a pleasant afternoon, a few days later, Jansen, Julie, and Angelica
started from the city for the Starnberg villa.

The drive was silent and sad, for Jansen had been deeply moved by what
had happened, and Julie's heart was full of sympathy for his anxiety.
To the disappointment of all, when they reached Rossel's house, that
worthy met them with a grave face and reported that the doctor had
ordered absolute quiet, and had forbidden all exciting visits. He led
the ladies into the little _salon_ and had some refreshments brought by
Zenz, who opened her eyes wide at Julie in unconcealed admiration. But
they were none of them in a mood to taste anything. They waited with
beating hearts to hear what news Jansen would bring back, for nothing
could dissuade him from going up to the sick man's room.

Felix lay as before in a half-sleeping state, so that Schnetz, whose
watch it happened to be, thought it would do no harm to admit his
friend. But they merely greeted one another with a silent nod. Then the
sculptor stepped up to the sick-bed of his Icarus, and, turning his
head away from the others, stood there motionless for full ten minutes.
Schnetz, who had seated himself again on the stool before the easel and
was cutting out a silhouette, noticed that a trembling, like that of
suppressed sobs, shook Jansen's massive frame. He was surprised at
this, for he did not know in what intimate relations the two had stood
to one another.

"There is no danger," he said, in a low voice; "a few weeks and he will
be able to mount his horse again. How he will get on with his modeling
is not so certain. That cut over the right hand was very heavy. But I
imagine that will be your least sorrow."

The sculptor did not answer.

But the wounded man seemed to have caught a word or two of what Schnetz
had whispered. He slowly opened his heavy, feverish eyes, and, with a
dreamy smile that gave a sweet, arch look to his pale face, he
muttered:

"Sorrow!--why should any one be sorry? The world is so beautiful--even
pain does one good. No, no, we will laugh--laugh--and drink to the
health--"

He made a movement, and the piercing pain it caused him roused him
thoroughly. He recognized the silent figure at his bedside.

"Hans, my old Dædalus!" he cried, making a motion of his hand toward
his friend, "is it you? Good!--this is capital! This gives me more
pleasure--than I can tell you! Have you left your Paradise to come out
here? Oh, if you knew--you see I must not talk much--I could not, even
if I would--else--Heavens! what things--I should have to tell you! And
you me, wouldn't you, old boy? Between ourselves, it wasn't just as it
should have been--we knew almost nothing at all about one another--you
had your head full, and I too. But now, as soon as I am able to talk
again--you know that no human being is what you are to me--except
one--except one--and even she--"

Schnetz rose with considerable noise, stepped up to the bed, and said:
"Fresh ice is of more account just now than warm old friendship. So
stop a bit!"

He made a sign to Jansen to go out without waiting to take leave, and
then busied himself about his nurse's duties, while Felix's looks and
words soon grew confused again.

It was some time before Jansen returned to the ladies, who had been
carrying on a rather monosyllabic conversation with the master of the
house. Julie saw at once from her lover's face how much this meeting
with his sick friend had moved him. She offered to remain out here with
Angelica, in the house, or at least in the neighborhood, so as to
lighten the duties of the men as much as possible. "Let us stay, my
dear Herr Rossel," she entreated; "we shall have no difficulty in
finding a room somewhere in the neighborhood. Angelica will make flower
studies, and I will rip cloth for bandages, and pick lint. A woman
without talents, like myself, is invaluable at such a time."

Rossel declined all these proposals, nor would he hear of such a thing
as Jansen's staying to assist them. They three sufficed to do anything
that men could do. And the female department was also in the best of
hands. Then he began to expatiate with much warmth upon the tireless
energy and willingness of Red Zenz, who had not returned to the
_salon_, saying he thought he owed it to the good child not to hurt her
feelings by accepting any other help than hers and that of his old
house-keeper. In spite of their wish the friends had to yield; but they
made him promise, at parting, that he would send for them at once in
case the duties became more onerous, or he should find they had not
force enough.

In addition to this, Kohle promised to send them news daily.

One other subject came up for discussion during this visit. Even in the
first excitement, Schnetz had urged that they should report the affair,
and have Hiesl, the murderous boatman, handed over to the courts. The
latter had the audacity to go about in Starnberg, and to work at his
calling, as if nothing had happened; indeed, he was reported to have
boasted of the whole affair, and to have said: "I hope I have spoiled
the honorable gentleman's sport for a few weeks, at least." This
cold-blooded, triumphant defiance enraged the lieutenant, and he would
have liked to give the fellow a good lesson. Rossel, however, opposed
this--chiefly in order to spare Zenz, who would undoubtedly be summoned
as a witness, and have to go before a jury. Jansen sided with him,
because he was convinced that it would go against his friend's nature
to see any man--however loath he might be to regard him as a worthy
antagonist--with whom he had fought man to man, accused as a criminal,
and made to suffer punishment through any act of his. As Kohle,
likewise, inclined to this view of the case, it was decided not only to
do nothing about the matter for the present, but also to avoid, if
possible, any independent interference on the part of justice.

The friends soon after took their leave, all deeply impressed by the
gravity of the patient's case and by their visit.



                              CHAPTER II.


But there was one of their traveling-companions who remained behind at
the villa. It is needless to say that Homo accompanied them on their
visit to his sick friend, not traveling, of course, as others of his
race do, in the low compartment reserved for dogs--but in a _coupé_
with his master and the ladies; for everybody knew him, and esteemed
him highly for his superior traits of character. At the last station he
found it too close for him in the narrow compartment. He escaped into
the open air, and bounded along by the side of the train for the rest
of the way. But as he had gotten out of the habit of taking such
youthful runs, and as the way was hot, he made the remaining part
of the journey--from Starnberg to Rossel's villa--at a snail's
pace, and with hanging head and thirsty tongue. Upon reaching the
sick-chamber--after having greeted the wounded Felix with a low,
half-angry, half-mournful howl--he stretched himself out at the foot of
the bed, and nothing could induce him to forsake his resting-place when
Jansen took his leave. He pretended to be asleep, and the friends were
too much accustomed to respect him as an independent, intelligent being
to disturb his rest.

Then, too, he conducted himself; after he had recovered his strength,
with exceeding tact and modesty; demanded no particular care or
attention from anybody, for he evidently saw that they had little time
to spare for him, and accepted with a good grace whatever fell to his
share. He would have been much better provided for down-stairs in the
kitchen, but he evidently thought it would be selfish for him to leave
his place at the sick-bed for the sake of a better meal, and he passed
the greater part of the day at the patient's side; for Felix loved to
pass his heavy hand, half in a dream, over his back, and when he was
awake to address all sorts of caressing speeches to him.

At other times the sick man let his dim, feverish eyes rove about the
studio; examined Kohle's cartoon, which was slowly making progress,
nodded gratefully and contentedly to his silent watchers--to whichever
one happened to be on post at the moment--and then sunk back again into
a refreshing slumber, often with a name on his lips which none of his
attendants understood.

The possessor of this name had not appeared in the garden again since
that first visit. Her uncle, on the other hand, rode by daily, drew up
at the gate whenever there happened to be any one within hail, or else
dismounted and, after tying his horse, went into the house, to inquire
about the invalid. This did not excite remark, for he was an old
acquaintance of the lieutenant, and his niece had made one at the fatal
water-party. Zenz, alone, although as a rule little given to pondering,
had her own thoughts in regard to the interest which uncle and niece
took in an utter stranger, and they only tended to confirm her former
surmises.

The reports from the sick-chamber were not the most favorable that
could have been wished. The healing of the wound in the shoulder went
on, it is true, without interruption--but slowly, on account of the
restlessness and feverishness of the patient. On the following Sunday,
when Jansen came out again with Rosenbusch and the actor, the fever
had, indeed, disappeared; but even now the visits to the sick man were
not allowed to last more than ten minutes, for the physician had
strictly forbidden all conversation until the wound in the lung should
have completely healed. Rosenbusch's offer to relieve Schnetz was
declined--greatly to his sorrow, which was only partially relieved by
Felix begging him to play his flute for a little while in the garden
under the window. Of Elfinger's proposal to read aloud to him, he
promised to take advantage later. He showed constantly how happy the
devoted care of his friends made him, and held the hand of his
"Dædalus" tightly clasped in his own during the whole of the visit,
with a tenderness such as he rarely exhibited before others.

Homo was to have returned with the three visitors, but even now he
could not be induced to do so.

On the day after this second visit Kohle was standing down-stair in the
dining-room at a time which, according to the orders of the day, he
should have devoted to sleep to strengthen himself for his night-watch.
But he could find no rest until he finally put his hand to the work
that burned within his soul. Although the walls had not yet been
prepared for frescoing, but still wore their old stone-gray tint, he
had, by way of experiment, set to work to draw with charcoal an
architectural frame for his cycle of pictures--a row of round-arched
arcades with sturdy Romanesque pillars, resting upon bases connected by
a plain foundation. There were just the same number of arches as the
Venus legend contained separate scenes, and the panels in the spandrils
over the pillars were to contain the portraits of the friends who had
assembled under this roof. This portrait-gallery was begun with the
beautiful head of Jansen's betrothed, who was certainly well fitted to
contest the first rank with Dame Venus (as the latter had been depicted
by Kohle's fancy, at least), while at the end of the row, the round,
good-natured face of Angelica, with its merry, flowing curls, peered
forth in all its plainness. Zenz and old Katie were to be immortalized
among the people in the convents.

Kohle had traced the outlines of the decoration with a bold hand, and
had even allowed himself to be so carried away by his delight as to
begin to fill in the first panel with its whole sketch; for he was
anxious to convince the ever skeptical and critical Rossel how
excellently it would fit into the space allotted to it. But he was
suddenly interrupted by an unexpected visit.

In looking back to that first evening in Paradise, the indulgent reader
may perhaps find some difficulty in recalling a modest figure that took
small part in the bacchanalian excitement of the younger members, and
made no noise himself. But, even if the old man with the calm face and
snow-white hair should be still unforgotten, the figure that now came
tottering into the little hall with unsteady walk, agitated face, and
an old straw hat stuck on the side of his head like a drunken man's,
would find no recognition.

"For God's sake, Herr Schoepf, what's happened to you?" cried the
painter, as he threw aside his crayon. "You look terribly! Do tell
me--"

The old man threw himself on the nearest divan, and gasped as though
compelled to draw his breath from some deep well.

"Is it you, Herr Kohle?" he finally stammered out with much difficulty;
"I sincerely beg your forgiveness for bursting in on you in this way,
without being announced--but don't let me disturb you. Once more I beg
you to excuse me; but there are times when all one's good manners--no,
no, I won't drink anything," he cried, interrupting himself, for he saw
that Kohle had reached out his hand for the bottle of sherry that had
been left from breakfast and still stood on the table--"not a drop,
Herr Kohle--Oh, God! who would have imagined it!"

He sank back on the sofa again after an unsuccessful attempt to rise,
and muttered unintelligibly to himself, as old people so often do.

The painter was greatly shocked. He had always honored this old
gentleman as a very model of cheerful equanimity and clear-headedness;
and in many of his professional or personal troubles he had often felt
disposed to go and ask his advice, which he always gave with great
wisdom and gentleness. And now Kohle saw him sitting there helpless and
unmanned, like a night-bird that has lost its way in the daylight, and
closes its eyes and tries to shrink into itself.

But, at last, the old man appeared to rouse himself by a powerful
effort; he opened his eyes wide and attempted to smooth his withered,
faded face, fringed with a gray stubble, into the old kindly lines,
only succeeding, however, in producing a kind of grin, something
between laughing and weeping.

"My dear Herr Kohle," he said, "I must seem to you like a madman; but,
if you knew all, you would easily understand why my old brain has been
thrown a little off its balance. And you shall know all about it some
day; but now--don't be offended with me--you are so much younger, it
would be very hard for me to tell you everything. Oblige me by calling
the lieutenant--he has had more experience--or no, you are at your
work, tell me where I can find Herr von Schnetz. I don't wish to
disturb you--"

At this moment he of whom they had been speaking came into the room,
and was, in his turn, not a little amazed when he saw the state his old
friend was in. Kohle left the two alone. In spite of his fever for
work, he could not find it in his heart to lead the exhausted old man
into another apartment.

The latter did not appear to notice his absence. He had not yet let go
of the hand Schnetz had offered him, as if, in his agitation, he found
it necessary to cling to some support. Notwithstanding his benevolent
feelings toward those younger than himself, he was, as a general thing,
a man of rather reserved manners, and not particularly lavish of signs
of confidence and familiarity.

"My good friend," he said, "be lenient toward me, and listen patiently
without interrupting me. For in order to help me you must know my whole
sad history, and I can only tell it when I can almost forget that there
is any one listening. Sit down here by my side. And now, listen while I
tell you something that has not passed my lips for twenty years.

"I was once a very different man from what I now appear to you; not
simply that I was younger and better contented, and had not known what
true misfortune was; but I bore another name, which may possibly have
reached your ears. For although I cannot say that I exactly raised it
to any particular fame, still, as a born Municher, you have probably
heard it mentioned among those who assisted at the art-works of the
early part of old Louis's reign, though; to be sure, only as a young
apprentice. Even in those days I was not possessed by the demon of
ambition, and on the pictures that I painted, as well as on the
frescoes that I helped to execute, you will not find even my monogram.
From the very first, I had too great a respect for true genius to form
an exalted idea of my own humble qualifications for an artist. By the
side of my master, Cornelius, I felt like the sparrow that soared up to
the sun under the eagle's wing, and was permitted to enjoy himself
royally up there so long as he did not forget that he was, after all,
only an insignificant sparrow. However, I was always bent upon letting
well enough alone, and consoled myself with the thought that, even if I
did possess but a mediocre talent for creative art, I could vie with
the greatest masters in the art of living.

"I had a pretty, gentle, sensible wife, two children, who were growing
up finely, as much money as I wanted, and more honor than I deserved.
For in those days all of us here in Munich were like members of one
family, or like soldiers in a _corps élite_--whatever fame was won by
the leaders redounded to the benefit of us privates.

"It was a life which seemed to leave nothing wanting to its happiness,
and I began to take credit to myself for the many blessings Heaven had
poured into my lap. I deluded myself with the idea that although I was
not phenomenal as a man or as an artist, I was, on the other hand,
something no less rare--a perfectly normal citizen of the world, a
truly model specimen of honesty and excellence, especially selected by
fate to be a source of joy and imitation for less favored mortals. My
good wife, too, who did not at first chime in with my lofty tone, was
gradually converted to this state of self-exaltation, until she came to
believe that not a single flaw could be found in her husband, her
children, her friends, her home life, or even in her pets.

"I will not recount to you the ridiculous details of our pride and
self-complacency. Enough! This audacious structure of conceit and
Phariseeism received a blow one day that sent it tumbling in hopeless
ruin about our heads. One evening, quite late, while I was sitting on
my scaffolding in the palace, painting, my wife tottered up the steps
looking like a picture of despair. She had not even stopped to reflect
whether there were others about us who might overhear our conversation;
her horror at the terrible discovery had so unbalanced her clear mind
that she could not wait until I came home, but ran into a public
building after me to tell me that our daughter--the only child we had,
besides a fine, sturdy boy--a girl on whom I had lavished all my
fatherly pride--that she, our jewel, so loved and treasured-- But I
must retrace my steps a little, so that you may understand all this.

"About this time my wife having come into possession of a very
considerable fortune, we had begun, contrary to the Munich custom, to
keep open house. As model beings, for such we fancied ourselves to be,
we even regarded it as a sort of duty not to hide our light under
a bushel. And then, besides, it was a pleasant enough thing to
do, and even now I can't condemn our having rebelled against the
narrow-hearted, inhospitable custom of the place, and admitted all
manner of good friends to enjoy our domestic happiness with us. But
even here our pride in our daughter played an important _rôle_. The
girl was not beautiful, nor even what one would generally call pretty;
she had inherited my flat features, little eyes, and large mouth. But
something sparkled in those eyes that attracted everybody; and when the
large red mouth, with its white teeth, expanded in a laugh that seemed
to come straight from the heart, it was impossible to help feeling
merry too. She had a remarkable talent for communicating her high
spirits to her circle of young people, and this mirthfulness often
reached the wildest extravagance; though, with her, it never went
beyond proper limits, so that I, in my blind adoration, was wont to say
to my wife, when she occasionally shook her head over it: 'Let the
child alone, her nature will protect her better than all our art.'

"I knew that others thought differently; indeed, I was often obliged to
listen to warnings, more or less distinct, from this or that friend, to
draw the reins tighter; a young untamed thing like her would be sure to
bolt some day or other. For hints like these I had always the same
superior smile, and only told my wife of them that I might laugh at the
Philistinism of my colleagues.

"The daughter of such a thoroughly well-balanced person, surely one
could confidently leave her to herself, in cases where there would have
been danger for weaker natures.

"And now came the discovery of our shame! Now came the fearful fall
from that height to which we had soared in our dreams!

"Any other man would have turned his eyes inward, would, before all
else, have taken himself to task and looked upon the sad and terrible
occurrence as a just chastisement of his foolish blindness. But this
model man was superior to all such weaknesses. Oh, my good friend, it
is not true what philosophy teaches, that the real nature of a man
cannot be changed; that it is only his outward conduct that gradually
gains a certain power of habit over the true character of the
individual. I know this by bitter experience; of that fool who drove
his poor child from his home in her shame and misery and forbade her
ever to come in his sight again; of that childish and cruel father
there is not a vestige left in me--so little that I can search my
nature for it as much as I will. With all my other faults and human
weaknesses, it is absolutely incomprehensible to me how I could ever
have torn my poor flesh and blood from me, and cast it forth into the
outside world.

"The child bore herself far better and more nobly than her parents. She
declared decidedly that having, as she found to her sorrow, forfeited
forever the love of father and mother by her weakness, she would no
longer accept anything from their bounty. We thought this was merely a
fine phrase. But we soon learned how seriously she had meant what she
said. The poor girl suddenly disappeared from our house and the
city--and probably from the country--for all our efforts to find her
were without result.

"She had persistently refused to give the name of her betrayer, and we
were either compelled or tempted to suspect every friend who had been
intimate at our house; so that, although appearances were kept up for a
while longer, and a plausible pretext was found for the disappearance
of our daughter, our domestic bliss was ended at a blow, and soon
vanished utterly. She who had given, life and charm to the most
trifling domestic pleasures was wanting.

"But we had not yet reached the end of our sorrows; our son, too, was
to be taken from us. He studied medicine---a quiet, steady, and, to all
appearances, a somewhat phlegmatic man; but he had an exceptionally
keen sense of honor. When his sister did not return, this and that
began to be gossiped about her. The slightest allusion, often a
perfectly innocent speech, would throw him into a state of furious
anger. It was some remark of this sort that had as its sequel a duel
between him and his best friend. They bore the last joy of our life,
bathed in bloody back into our wretched home.

"And now the floodgates were opened. It was all over with our model
household. It came out why our daughter had been driven to misery and
our son to death. Our friends could not help assuming a certain air of
pity toward us, that broke my wife's heart and drove me from the city.
I went to North Germany, and there I buried my wife a year later. Soon
after I gave up painting. I looked upon engraving, with all its
drudgery, as an instrument of chastisement--as a mode of daily forcing
down my pride. My dishonored name had become hateful to me, and I had
laid it aside when I left Bavaria, But I did not neglect to have an
appeal to my outcast child inserted in all the newspapers, begging her
to return to her solitary father, to forgive him, and to help him bear
his remaining years of life.

"No answer ever came, although I continued to have the notice inserted
for many years.

"At last I became thoroughly convinced that she was no longer in this
world; and no sooner did this belief, which it had taken ten years to
beat into my head, become a settled conviction, than a singular
transformation took place in me. I grew calm again, after all my
wretched experiences, and at peace with myself; there were times when I
had difficulty in recognizing in my present self the man whose guilt
and foolishness had worked so much misery. I succeeded so well in
outliving my old nature, in working a complete regeneration of my inner
man, that I actually felt something like curiosity to see the city in
which my predecessor had suffered so much sorrow and shame.

"And so, one day, I came back to Munich, though I scarcely knew it
again, for everything at whose birth I had assisted was now completed,
and besides a new world had sprung up. Nor did the old city recognize
me either. I had grown a white-headed, quiet, solitary man, bore
another name, and lived like a hermit--never going out during the day,
unless, perhaps, to visit the studio of one of the younger artists who
had settled here since my day. It has sometimes happened that I have
found myself in a beer-garden seated next to some boon companion of the
days of my prosperity, who had no idea who the silent old man was who
was eating and drinking at the same table with him.

"And this is the way I have gone on for six or seven years, counting
myself always among the departed spirits, and sometimes startled at the
sight of my own face if I chanced to catch a glimpse of it in the
mirror. It is incredible, my dear friend, how tough the thread of life
is sometimes. For really had it not been for my interest in art, and in
some good young friends who have shown me confidence and respect, the
whole world would have been a blank to me. Besides, when photography
came into such general use, it seemed to me that my graver was a very
superfluous sort of thing, of little further use except to multiply
copies of business cards, labels on wine-bottles, and other things of
that sort.

"So I continued to grow more idle, more contemplative, and, if you
like, wiser; except that I myself felt little respect, and sometimes
even disgust and loathing, for any wisdom that could haunt such a
useless wreck of a man."

The old man spoke these last words in such a mournful voice, and hung
his head so low upon his breast, that Schnetz could not help feeling
the warmest pity for him. At the same time he asked himself with
amazement how it could have been possible for them all to have
associated with this terribly-tried man for so many long years without
having taken the trouble to find out anything about his history.

He now bluntly said as much, inveighing in his bitter way against the
wretched state of society in which they lived.

"A fine Paradise!" he growled out, half to himself. "We have a great
idea of how necessary we are to one another, and yet the few fellow-men
who are worth troubling ourselves about stand in no nearer relation to
us than the wild animals did to our first parents. Though, to be sure,
in your case we ought not to bear the chief blame. Why did you yourself
never feel a desire to break the ice between us? It would have been a
healthier thing for you, if you had long ago formed an intimacy with
one of us."

The old man raised his head again, but still kept his eyes shut tight,
and groped blindly for Schnetz's hand, which he pressed warmly.

"Perhaps it is not yet too late," he stammered, in a trembling voice.
"I hope it may still be in your power to assist me in finding a place
in life again.

"One morning about a fortnight ago a little sealed packet was brought
to me by a street messenger. It bore no address, but when I saw the
seal I felt a terrible shock. I recognized it as one I had once given
to my daughter--a cornelian, in which was cut an Egyptian scarabæus. I
asked the man who had given it to him. A girl, he said, who had given
him an exact description of my lodging and appearance; and she had also
known my name--my present one--which I have no reason to suppose my
lost daughter had ever even heard of. I was so beside myself with
alarm, joy, and a thousand indescribable sensations that I did not
break the seal at first; only one thing seemed clear to me in my
confusion--before all else I must find the person who had sent the
messenger. Did he know where she was to be found? I asked. But she had
engaged him in the street, had paid in advance, and had then
immediately disappeared round the next corner. And then he described
her! It was my lost one, feature for feature, and yet it could not be
she herself, for this one must have been about as old as my daughter
was when I cast her off. So it must be the _child_ of my lost darling!
And to think that she, too, should flee from me like her poor mother!

"At last I tore the string off the packet, and there fell out a letter
and two small pictures--daguerreotypes, such as they used in those days
to take on silvered plates--one of them a picture of her mother, the
only thing she had taken away with her from her home, the other a young
man whose face I had great difficulty in recalling.

"The letter had been written several years before. Only in case of her
death was it to come into my hands, she wrote in the very first lines.
She had always been a proud child, and guilt and want and her sad life
had not changed her. Yet there was a loving, tender tone in her words,
a spirit of parting that softens even the hardest and most bitter
natures; and as I read her simple confession, in which she accused
herself of having robbed me of my happiness and ruined my life--of
having offended me beyond forgiveness--it seemed as if my heart would
burst. She could never prevail upon herself to return to me; at first
from fear that I would renounce her a second time, and later, because
she did not want to become a fresh burden to me. She knew that I had
taken another name, and was living in the strictest seclusion. If she
should suddenly appear with her child, it might not be convenient for
me. But, when she should be no more--and this must be soon, for her
lungs grew weaker every day--she begged me not to let the child suffer
for the wrong her mother had done me. It was a good child, unspoiled as
yet, but with little sense and very giddy. She needed a father's hand
to guide her through her years of danger. She had appealed in vain to
the child's father in the first years after his desertion of her. But,
when no answer came, she had taken an oath that he should be dead to
her forever. She had found no difficulty in keeping it, for she hated
him now as much as she had once loved him.

"For the child's sake she would now speak his name for the first time
in eighteen years, so that if he should still be alive her father might
call him to account and force him to make provision for his orphaned
daughter.

"And then followed a short word of farewell and the name of my child,
and beside it in brackets that of her betrayer, which was also on the
back of the daguerreotype, where, with his own hand, he had written
some words of presentation to my daughter.

"Give me a glass of water, my dear friend. My tongue cleaves to the
roof of my mouth, as if I had swallowed the dust of a whole graveyard!
So--thank you--and now I shall soon have done.

"For I shall take good care not to tell you how I have spent my time
since the receipt of this legacy. I sometimes realized myself how much
like a madman I must have looked as I rushed about the streets, at all
hours of the day and night, peering under the hats of all the young
girls, and forcing my way into the houses wherever I caught the
faintest glimpse of red hair at the window."

"Holy Moses!" interrupted Schnetz, springing up and pacing the hall
with long strides, all the while furiously twisting at his imperial.
"Why didn't you tell us this before? Why, it must be our Zenz!"

The old man bowed his head with a sigh.

"I first learned it, or rather guessed it, yesterday, when I happened
to meet Herr Rosenbusch, and he told me of all that had happened here.
It came upon me like a flash; this red-haired servant and my
granddaughter, who felt so little desire to know the grandfather who
had cast off her mother, are one and the same person. I could hardly
wait for the morning before coming here and clasping to my heart the
one thing that still belongs to me in this world. But as I entered the
park a short time ago, my knees scarcely able to carry me from
excitement, and saw from a distance, through the branches, the red hair
and the round face with the red lips and the short nose--she stood in
the very centre of the lawn raking together the new-mown hay--I stepped
up to her and cried, 'Don't you know me, Zenz?'

"And then, instead of throwing herself into my outstretched arms, she
gave a cry, as if a wild beast were upon her, and started off down the
garden as fast as she could run, and I after her, pursuing her around
the lawn and shouting out the most heart-rending words and entreaties,
until she saw her chance, pushed open the gate and escaped from me into
the road.

"In spite of my sixty years I am no crippled invalid, my dear friend,
and in the midst of all my wretchedness and grief my anger at this
futile and ridiculous chase, after a foolish thing who refused to
understand how well I meant by her, got the better of me, and I put
forth all my strength to overtake her. But the foolish thing sped away
from me, as blind and deaf as if death itself were at her heels. I
believe she would have thrown herself under the wheels of the
locomotive that was approaching rather than have me catch her.

"Then, all of a sudden, I felt shocked at this unconquerable fear and
loathing in so young a heart, and stood still and called to her to have
no fear--that I gave it up. And then, when I saw her flee into the
thick wood to the right, I faced about and dragged myself back to the
villa. For the first time I realized how my limbs shook, and what a
miserable figure I should cut in your eyes. But you are old enough,
Herr von Schnetz, to no longer feel amazed at any fate, however sad and
strange, that may befall a man. I felt I could tell you all this; and
now I have come to the end of my foolishness and of my wisdom. For,
after what I have just experienced, I can scarcely hope ever again to
approach the legacy left me by my poor daughter. I have become a
scarecrow; the warm nest I would offer to the child seems more terrible
to her than the haystack or fence under which she can crouch for a few
nights, before starting off upon her wanderings again."



                              CHAPTER III.


Schnetz, who all this time had never ceased to stride up and down the
room, now stepped up to the old man.

"Sit still where you are, Herr Schoepf," he said. "Stay here where it
is cool until you are thoroughly rested. Meantime I will go and find
the girl, and talk to her. She has a liking for me, possibly because I
have never tried to win her favor."

With these words he left the old gentleman. He first searched through
the house and garden after the frightened bird, but finally had to make
up his mind to go into the wood after her.

After much unsuccessful searching and calling, he finally saw her white
face and red hair shimmering from out the green shadows, in a little
cleared spot on the gentle slope of the grove, from which she could
command a view of the entrance of the park.

"What a trouble you are making, Zenz!" he shouted to her. "What are you
running about in the lonely wood for all the forenoon, when there is
enough to be done in the house? Old Katie has worked as hard to find
you as if you had been a needle in a haystack."

The girl had hastily sprung from the mossy seat on which she had been
crouching, and seemed to be holding herself in readiness to dart away.
Her round cheeks had suddenly flushed crimson.

"Is he still there?" she asked.

"Who? Don't be so childish, Zenz. The idea of running away from a good
old man, as if he were Satan himself!"

"I won't go home till he has gone," she said, with a defiant shake of
her head. "I know what he wants. He wants to lock me up in his hateful,
lonely house, where no sun or air gets in. But I have never done him
any wrong, and I won't go--I won't bear it--I'd rather have him kill me
right here."

"You're out of your senses, girl! Do you know him? What do you know
about him?"

She did not answer immediately. He saw how wildly her young breast
heaved, how her eyes were fixed on the ground, and how her teeth bit
the little twig she held in her hand.

"He is the father of my mother!" she finally burst out, her face taking
on a look of intense hatred. "He drove my poor dear mother out of his
house because of me--that is, before I ever came into the world. Oh, he
is so stern! My mother never dared to go back to him as long as she
lived. Then, when she was going to die, she wrote a letter to her
father asking him to take care of me, and she made me promise by all
that was holy to carry this letter to my grandfather as soon as she was
dead; and I promised I would, though I never could get up much love for
him, and no one can blame me for it either. But, when I came to Munich,
I felt terribly forlorn and forsaken at first, for I didn't know a
soul, and I thought to myself I'll just take a look at him and see what
he's like. So I waited in front of his house, with my packet in my
pocket, until he went out in the evening. I tell you truly, Herr
Lieutenant, I was so miserable and unhappy that even if he had only
looked just the least bit kind I would have been very glad to go up and
say to him: 'I am Zenz; people say I am the very image of my poor dear
mother, and my dear mother was your daughter, and now she is dead and
sends you this letter!' But when he came out of his house so stern and
still, and looked neither to the right or left, but only stared at the
ground, just as if he didn't care anything at all for the dear world
all about him--hu! it made my flesh creep! Nothing in the world shall
ever force me to have anything to do with him, thought I to myself; and
I let him go by as if he had been a perfect stranger. Still, I thought
I would leave the letter for him, so I made some inquiries about him of
his landlady; And I heard from her that he hides in his lodgings like
an owl in a hollow tree; no one comes to see him, and he goes to see
nobody; he gets no letters and he writes none. There was a little
looking-glass hanging in the landlady's room, and I happened to see my
face in it, and it looked to me as if I had an ashy-gray skin and faded
hair. I think most likely the glass was colored blue, but for all that
I felt as if it was warning me--'This is the way you'll look before
long, if you shut yourself up with your grandfather in his dark den
where no sunbeam will ever reach you.' So I went away and took good
care not to deliver my packet, for it might have betrayed me. And that
very same evening I got acquainted with Black Pepi, and went to live
with her, and never sent him my poor, dear mother's packet until I went
into the country. But how he found out where I was, or what he wants of
me--for he must have the sense to see that I don't want to have
anything to do with him--I--"

"Zenz," interrupted the lieutenant, "be a sensible girl, and at least
get acquainted with your only relation before you rebel against your
mother's last wish. I can assure you you wouldn't have any fault to
find with him; and if he should treat you like a prisoner or try to
coerce you in any way--are not your old friends at hand? Do you suppose
that Herr Rossel, or the baron, or I myself, would suffer any one to
ill-treat our little Zenz? If you could only hear the old gentleman
talk, and see how sorry he is for all he did and did not do for his
daughter, and how anxious he is to atone for it to his grandchild! No,
Zenz, you are too sensible a girl to be so childishly frightened by the
spectres your own imagination has called up. And, besides, what do you
think is going to become of you when the summer is over and we all go
back into the city again?"

He waited a moment for her answer. But as none came, and she seemed to
be lost in thought, he drew a step nearer, and, taking one of her
hands, said, in his truehearted way:

"I know what you are thinking, my child. You are in love with the
baron, and you are thinking you will remain near him as long as it is
possible, and then perhaps he will love you in return; and you have no
thought for anything else. But you ought also to tell yourself how
miserably it must all end at last. He won't marry you--you must make up
your mind to that--and what will be the upshot of such an unhappy love
you have seen, unfortunately, in the case of your poor mother."

She withdrew her hand from his; but looked at him quietly, and almost
with something of her old light-heartedness.

"You mean well by me, sir," she said. "But I am not so foolish as I may
look. I never imagined for a moment that he would marry me; he wouldn't
even love me, no, not if I had saved his life and should be near him
ever so long. He loves some one else--I know that for certain--and I
don't blame him for it a bit, and if I choose to go on liking him, in
spite of all that, it is my affair, and nothing that anybody says will
make any difference. Until he is well again, and can get up and go
about, I am going to stay out here; and no one knows better than you
that I don't eat my bread in idleness, and that you are not able to get
along without me. Just tell this to my--to the old gentleman; and as to
what may happen afterward, why, that is something none of us can tell
yet. But I won't let myself be caught, and if he should use force--I
would jump into the lake sooner than let myself be made a slave of!"

She turned sharply on her heel and began very calmly to walk up the
hill, no longer as if to flee, but merely because she had spoken her
last word. Schnetz had always had a secret liking for her, though he
had no very high opinion of her understanding or her virtue. But he
could not help feeling a certain respect for her as she had just shown
herself to him.

"She knows what she wants, at all events," he growled, "and won't allow
herself to be deceived, not even by her own poor heart. There is good
blood in the little red fox."

Upon returning to Schoepf he exerted himself to the utmost to convince
the old gentleman that, for the present, it was useless to try and do
anything. But he promised to do his best to reconcile the girl to the
thought that she could no longer be her own mistress, but must consent
to be taken under the protection of a loving grandfather. It touched
him to see how much the old man was encouraged and cheered by the
thought that she would come to him in the end. He even began to make
plans for the external arrangements of their future life together. As
if this were a matter that would not brook the slightest delay, he
could not be prevailed upon to stay even until the heat of the day was
over. He must go back at once and look for larger and more cheerful
lodgings, and must buy some furniture, so that he would be prepared to
receive his grandchild just as soon as she felt like coming to live
with him. Besides, he did not want to be the cause of the poor child's
wandering about in the woods any longer, for it was clear she would not
enter the house again until he had gone.

Schnetz accompanied him through the park. When they were almost at the
gate he asked:

"Don't you propose to take any steps to find out the whereabouts of the
child's father? Or do you know that he has died since all this
happened?"

The old man stood still, and his eyes took on that stern expression
which had scared off Zenz that night in the street.

"The scoundrel!" he cried in a loud voice, passionately striking the
gravel path with the umbrella that he always carried in summer. "The
miserable, perjured villain! Can you seriously suppose that I would let
myself be outdone in pride by my dead daughter, who would have nothing
to do with the author of all her misery, since he appeared to have
forgotten her? Do you think me capable of such a thing as sharing this
living legacy of my daughter, that I have just found again as if by a
miracle, with that robber of women's honor--admitting even that he
would not now choose to deny all share in it? I would rather--"

"My good Herr Schoepf," coolly interrupted Schnetz, "in spite of your
white hairs, you are rather more passionate than is consistent with the
interest of your grandchild. Now what if anything should happen to you,
and the good girl should a second time be left an orphan in the world?
In case the worst should happen, she ought at least to know just where
she stands; to say nothing of the fact that it can never do any harm to
a child to know to whom it is indebted for the doubtful privilege of
belonging to this world."

The old man reflected for a moment. His manner grew more gentle.

"You are right," said he at last. "Scold away at me; it is the old
artist blood in me that will never listen to reason--not even when
all art is passed, and only a little drudgery is left. But that
scoundrel--if you knew how cordially we received him into our home!
Though there again our pride came into play, for he was a baron, and up
to that time we had had no intimates of higher rank than artists,
except a few officers; and besides this he was a stranger, a North
German, and he pleased us immensely; for he was such a lively,
wide-awake, chivalrous young gentleman, a great hunter, and he used to
be always saying he would never rest until he had hunted lions in
Africa--"

"Good God! Hunted lions? And his name--don't tell me, my good friend,
that his name was--"

"Baron F----. I had actually forgotten the name, until I found it in my
poor Lena's testament. Heaven knows what ever became of him, and
whether he was punished for his mad whim, and for all the wrong he
inflicted upon my poor child, by dying a miserable death under the
African sun, torn to pieces by wild beasts. The name seems to strike
you. Can it be that you have ever met the wretch?--or perhaps you even
know where he is?"

Schnetz had recovered himself in a moment. He reflected that at best it
would be quite superfluous, while it might perhaps be extremely
disastrous, if he told the old gentleman in what intimate relations he
stood to the individual in question. Neither did he see that it would
be of any advantage to the girl, if, before she had begun to feel any
love for her grandfather, she should find a father who would be even
more of a stranger to her, and who would be able to count still less
upon her filial affection. And besides, in the interest of his
unsuspecting old tent-comrade, he shrank from making any premature
disclosures.

He answered, accordingly, that it was true the name was not altogether
unknown to him; indeed, so far as he knew, the father of the girl was
still living; it was possible, however, that they would be doing her a
poor service if they should be over hasty in enlightening her on the
subject. The first thing to be done was to induce her to become
reconciled to her grandfather.

As the old man was, at heart, entirely of this opinion, he took his
leave, evidently feeling much comforted and full of glad hopes; though
he still lingered a little, secretly hoping he might catch at least
another distant glimpse of the shy little creature. But the girl took
good care to keep out of sight. So that at last, with a quiet sigh, her
grandfather had to set out upon his homeward way. Schnetz stood at the
gate, looking after him.

"A mad farce, this life of ours!" he growled under his mustache. "The
only thing still wanting is that my old lion-hunter should come riding
past his father-in-law, smoking a cigar and gazing complacently at the
white-haired old boy, who would be powdered still whiter by the dust
kicked up by his nag's hoofs; and that then he should stop here in the
park gate, and make inquiries of Zenz in regard to the health of our
patient, playfully pinching the child's cheek just as he would any
other pretty servant girl's, or giving her a _pourboire_ if she held
his horse for him for ten minutes. And then his niece, our proud little
highness! What big eyes she would make if I should tell her that the
little red-haired waiter-girl was her own, though not exactly her
legitimate, cousin!"



                              CHAPTER IV.


Week after week had passed away. The autumn was approaching; the
rose-bushes on the little lawn shed their last buds, and at evening a
stealthy white mist crept over the lake, and for a whole week the
opposite shore and the distant mountains beyond disappeared completely
behind a dull, gray rain that spread a curtain over lake and land. When
at last it was drawn away the same landscape was indeed there, but in
different colors; much yellow was scattered among the tall beech woods;
the waves of the lake, usually of a transparent green, were changed to
a dull gray, and on the summits of the Zugspitz and the
Karwendelgebirge could be seen the melancholy white of the first snow.

Even Rossel, who usually regarded the surrounding landscape with great
indifference, and who declared the symbolical relations of Nature to
our moods to be a sentimental prejudice, expressed himself to Kohle
with great displeasure concerning the raw air and the disgusting,
clinging fog, which, as he asserted, had come so early this year out of
pure malevolence, knowing that they were obliged to stay out here on
account of their sick friend. Then, too, the stoves, which had not been
used for many years, refused to draw; and they were soon forced to give
up heating the dining-room.

Nevertheless Kohle, whose inner fire was still unquenched, would not
allow himself to be deterred from working away at his Venus allegory;
though Rossel had now lost all interest in it, and even accompanied the
progress of the work with open sneers at the idea of their attempting
to naturalize the naked beauty under such a foggy sky.

But then when the autumn sun bethought itself of its might once more,
and, at high noon at least, awakened for hours all the charms of a most
glorious Indian summer, Rossel still continued in a bad humor, which he
was only careful to conceal in Felix's presence. Schnetz soon got at
the true cause of his low spirits--the almost contemptuous coldness
with which Zenz treated him. His singular passion, which had sprung
originally from an artistic whim, was only inflamed the more by this.
And now that he had learned the secret of her birth, he grew very
melancholy, actually lost his appetite, and, with the exception of the
hours he spent with Felix, shut himself up from every one, not even
making his appearance at meals. Schnetz came to the conclusion that he
had made a formal offer of marriage to the little red-haired witch, and
had been dismissed without ceremony.

This strange child bore herself with great coolness in the midst of all
these temptations and perplexities. It is true she no longer laughed as
much as she had in the summer. Yet she never made her appearance with
red eyes, or with any other signs of secret grief, and even when she
had to wait on Felix her face was cheerful and unembarrassed. But on
the very first day that the convalescent was allowed to go down into
the garden, leaning on Schnetz's arm, she unexpectedly appeared before
them, her little hat on her head and in her hand a little traveling-bag
containing her few possessions, which she had sent over from the inn
across the lake. She very quietly announced that she was about to
return to the city, as she could be of no further use here. The Herr
Baron was as good as well, and within the last few weeks old Katie had
so far succeeded in breaking herself of her taste for schnapps as to be
perfectly able to look after the household without other assistance.
When Schnetz asked her whether she meant to go to her grandfather she
answered, with a fleeting blush, that "she did not know yet herself;
she had managed to get along without him hitherto, just as he had
without her. She wouldn't swear that she wouldn't go to him; she must
get to know him better first. But she would never let herself be robbed
of her liberty!"

Felix had listened in amazement, for he had not yet been initiated into
old Schoepf's history. He spoke very kindly to the good child, and held
her hand for a moment tenderly in his. She suffered him to retain it
without returning his gentle pressure, and looked quietly past him as
though she would say: "That is all very fine, but it can do me no
good." Then she allowed Schnetz to exact a promise from her that she
would write him her address as soon as she found a lodging-place, and,
with a last "Adieu, and a quick recovery!" she marched out of the gate
with such a quick and resolute step that it would never have entered
any one's head to suppose that this was a parting at which her heart
had bled.

Rossel, of whom she took no leave, sank into still deeper melancholy
when he learned of her departure, and the innocent Kohle, who was
always the last to notice anything that was going on about him,
contrived to pour oil on the fire by exhausting himself in eulogies of
this remarkable girl, who was missed now in every nook and corner. He
was forced to content himself with immortalizing, from memory, her
little nose and golden mane, as he called it, in the scene at the
cloister; in which effort he succeeded but poorly, according to the
judgment of Fat Rossel.

And so, in spite of the cheerful autumn days, the atmosphere in the
villa was none of the brightest. Even in the case of the convalescent
Felix, the more he felt his strength increase, the less did he seem to
rejoice in the new lease of life that had been granted him. Those words
of greeting from his old love, that had made him so happy in his
feverish dreams, had vanished from his memory upon his return to
perfect consciousness. He only knew that her uncle had received daily
bulletins of his condition, and that they would not leave Starnberg
until all danger was over. But they might easily have shown as much
sympathy as that to a stranger, with whom they had chanced to stand in
merely formal relations. For the rest, in what respect had the
situation been changed by his adventure? Altogether to his advantage? A
life and death struggle with a boatman about a waiter-girl! Surely a
dubious test, that, of the correctness of his principles regarding
looseness and freedom of morals; a new proof of how correctly she had
acted when, with a single sharp cut, she severed her life from his. And
now, under what pretext could he give her an explanation of the real
origin of the whole affair? And what further interest could she take in
the doings of one whom she had wholly given up? What did it concern her
whether, in pursuing his own wild courses, he showed himself more or
less unworthy of her?

But the pride which rebelled against making any overtures secretly
gnawed at his heart. More than once, after the wound in his hand
permitted him to scribble a few letters, he had sat down to write to
her uncle. In doing so, he could certainly put in a word in explanation
of the very innocent occasion of his bloody adventure. But in the midst
of his writing it would seem to him as if, according to the old saying,
he were making the evil worse with every excuse. And then, could he
ever hope to explain away that sin--which was in her eyes the
heaviest--his dancing with the girl?

So he tore up the letters he had begun, and, gnashing his teeth,
resigned himself to the fate of suffering unjustly, and being better
than he seemed.

But one day when, by some chance or other, he found himself sitting
alone on a bench in the garden with none of his watchers near--for they
took care to keep him out of the reach of all conversation--he saw,
with a glad throb at heart, her uncle gallop up and gleefully wave his
hand to him over the park-gate. He stood up, and, with a faint blush,
half of weakness, half of confusion, advanced several steps to meet the
well-known face.

The lively old gentleman rushed upon him, and embraced him so cordially
that Felix had to smilingly beg for forbearance, on account of his
scarcely-healed wounds. Whereupon the uncle excused himself in great
alarm, and, carefully supporting the patient, led him back to the
bench, where he asked him, with the most candid curiosity, for all the
particulars of the unfortunate occurrence.

"A blessed land, this Bavaria!" he cried, rubbing his hands. "Upon my
word, there is no need for a man to go beyond the 'Pillars of
Hercules,' or among the red-skins: he can have plenty of slaughter
nearer home, in his own German fatherland! But now, out with the truth
about this girl who was the cause of the whole scrape. The moment I
heard you were wounded I asked: _Où est la femme?_ When I learned she
had crossed over with you in the boat, and had been nursing you--No,
don't deny it, you young sinner! The little witch--she is said to have
red hair, too, and red hair always was dangerous to you--ha, ha! Do
you still remember that crazy, mysterious adventure--the one with the
red-haired Englishwoman at the sea-shore?--ha, ha! And now, again--But
what's the matter with you, my dear boy? You turn red and white in a
breath--maybe you've been staying out a little too--"

Felix rose to his feet with evident exertion. His brow was clouded; his
eyes glared strangely at his jovial old friend.

"Uncle," he said, "you have been wrongly informed. However, that makes
no difference. The girl, who is no more to me than that mad fool of a
boatman, has left the house again, and with that it is to be hoped this
whole wretched affair will be at an end. But that you should touch upon
that other matter again, when you know how painful the remembrance of
it is to me--"

"I beg a thousand pardons, my dear boy! It slipped from me, as it were.
You know that, in spite of my fifty-one years, I am the same
incorrigible old _étourdi_; but now I swear by all the gods and
goddesses, never again will I make even the slightest allusion--Why, he
has grown quite pale!--this firebrand of a fellow! Look here, my dear
boy, you ought to take much greater care of yourself, and guard
yourself much more carefully against excitement. I had been meaning to
propose to you to come over and stay with us, for, after all, we have
the best right to nurse you; but since you really are weaker than I
thought, and as certain emotions might perhaps--"

Felix stared at him in blank amazement. Then he burst out in a forced
laugh.

"You are joking, uncle. Or perhaps, after all, you are speaking with
more design than you would have me believe. I go and live--with you!
You are very kind; but really, well as I know that all is over, still I
should hardly like to guarantee that certain emotions might not--"

He broke off, and passed his hand over his forehead.

"You are right, my boy," replied the uncle, seriously. "It is still a
little too soon. Still, sooner or later this whole absurd, lagging
affair must be set right, and the sooner, the better, in my opinion.
Just think it over. The country is just the place for arranging such a
matter easily and comfortably. If you would prefer to speak with her
alone first, you have only to give me a wink."

"Is this merely your private opinion, or are you perhaps acting--"

"Under higher orders? Not yet, unfortunately. But you know my
diplomatic talents. If you will only give me full powers--"

"I am sorry, uncle, but I really am too weak to talk any longer in this
jesting way of matters which, after all, have their serious side too.
Excuse me for to-day; I must go back to the house; and, in conclusion,
I must beg of you not to exert yourself at all in my interest. You see
I am quite well, under the circumstances--as well as I could wish all
men were--and after I have passed a few weeks more in the country--"

He tried to speak lightly; but he sank back upon the bench, and could
only motion with his hand for the old baron to leave him, for a sudden
throbbing pain in his wounded breast deprived him of speech. The uncle
stammered out a few frightened words, and then hastened back to his
horse, which he had tied outside the park-gate. He mounted
thoughtfully, and rode off shaking his head. There were some things
about the young people of nowadays that went beyond his comprehension.



                               CHAPTER V.


A few weeks after this meeting, Felix wrote Jansen the following
letter:


                                 "Villa Rossel, _last of October_.

"The spirit moves me to talk with you, old Dædalus; and as my physician
has seriously impressed me with the duty of sparing my lungs, I may
neither look you up myself nor tempt you to come out here to me. So I
must force you to puzzle out these awkward copy-book letters of mine,
in which you will recognize the handwriting of your pupil as little as
you will his customary style.

"For, between ourselves be it said, things still look rather blue and
gloomy to me. Our friends won't have told you this; before them I have
played the lively, joyous Hotspur, merely in order to make them think
there would be no danger in leaving me out here alone. I can no longer
reconcile it to my conscience to exile my good host from the city, even
though he does put such a good face on the matter; and then there is
Kohle too--hard as it is for him to tear himself away from his bare
walls, he can't go on with his work until he has first made the
necessary designs. What do I lack here except that one thing which is
lost to me forever? You need not fear that I shall become a prey to
misanthropy or schnapps, like old Katie. I should be ashamed to show
myself to Homo, who is looking at me now while I write, with his wise,
sensible, true-hearted eyes. Perhaps he is asking me to send you his
love.

"But to stay out here awhile in solitude will be of equal service to my
slowly-healing breast and to my poor, somewhat discouraged soul. Don't
let yourself be deceived, old Hans, by what our friends try to stuff
into your head: that my anxiety about whether I shall soon be able to
use my hand again in the service of the arts is gnawing at my heart.
More has been injured in this case than a finger-muscle or a joint; my
hopeful confidence has been shattered--that courage and audacity with
which I came to you in the summer. If I had ten sound hands I would
bethink myself ten times before I again sent them to school to you, for
I am as good as convinced that at the very best they would only have
acquired mechanical proficiency; while a true work of art requires much
more, for which they would hardly have the right sort of tools.

"You prophesied this to me in the first hour of our reunion. Then I set
myself up to be wiser than my master. And now can you guess how I found
out that you were right? I know it is mortifying, but I must confess
it. During all the pleasant weeks I passed in your workshop I never
once felt so much myself, never felt myself so 'at the height of my
existence'--as Rossel would call it--as in those moments when I was
bringing an oarless boat safely to shore, and afterward when I was
struggling, hand-to-hand, to defend my life against a furious,
murderous scoundrel.

"That a man maybe a very tolerable bully and desperado, and at the same
time be a great sculptor, your celebrated Florentine predecessor,
Benvenuto, has shown. Though then, to be sure, the days of a nobility
of force were not yet over, and many things were demanded of a complete
man which are now divided among many by our present system of division
of labor. Artistic creation and practical execution are now distinct,
and you were quite right in saying that the clay in which I was called
upon to work was to be found in public life.

"But where shall I find a material that will not melt away under my
hands?

"You would be no worse off in a desert of sand than I am in this
bureaucratic, well-regulated, red-tape civilization of ours, that never
permits a man to dig into the lump and stamp his own individuality upon
this commonplace routine; and, after all, it is that alone which could
give any personal satisfaction to a man constituted as I am--this
feeling, akin to the one you have in art, of having created something
which every other man could not have produced just as well by merely
following a certain formula.

"It may be that my experience in my own narrow little fatherland has
given me a false idea of what a man inclined to action has to hope and
to fear in this Old World of ours. Perhaps if I could find a position
in the North German Confederation!--but even that wouldn't help me; at
least I have known Prussian Landraths with whom I would not have
changed places--men, the highest aim of whose ambition was to succeed
to a chief magistrate's position, with a white head and a soul grown
gray in the dust of official documents.

"No, my dear fellow, Schnetz unquestionably used the right expression.
I have stumbled into the wrong century. I should have done very well in
the middle ages, when the old savage and unruly spirit was everywhere
to be found side by side with a struggling civilization, and when one
could be a good citizen and yet go armed to the teeth. But since this
wretched anachronism cannot now be helped, I will at least do my best
to seek out a place where a bird of my plumage won't be stared at like
a strange fowl in a hen-yard, and crowed over by every well-conditioned
cock.

"I have seen quite enough of the New World to know that I shall be more
in my proper place there than here. Don't imagine for a moment that I
over-estimate that promised land; the positive, human, heart-quickening
possessions and enjoyments that it has to offer are few. But of this
very same unattractive nothing, from which something can be made, there
is blessed superabundance there.

"Consequently, I have made up my mind, as the Yankees say, to cross the
wide water again, and to settle down there permanently. Salutary and
necessary as this step is for me, I know well that parting is not such
an easy matter. And for that very reason I want to make my preparatory
studies for it out here in the deepest solitude. I want to accustom
myself to doing without all sorts of things, and at the same time to
let my body get as hardy again as it is necessary to have it over
there.

"I hope to attain this result in a few months. And then, before I shake
the dust of the Old World off my shoes, I will come to you again, my
oldest, best, and truest friend. All was not as it should have been
between us; but for that no one was to blame but time itself, which did
not leave us just as we were when we parted ten years ago, but has
brought to each of us many strange experiences, such as even the best
of friends can only understand when they have borne them together. And
how much has happened even in the last few months, which each is forced
to keep locked up in his own breast! To you has been accorded a great
happiness; to me have come all sorts of renunciations and bitter
experiences. Such things do not go well together. But, now that you
have almost seen the last of me, allow me, at least a little more than
heretofore, to share in your happiness, and to bask, though but for so
short a time, in our old friendship. Hereafter I shall have plenty of
time to sit in the shade.

"Remember me to Fräulein Julie. I have only exchanged a few words with
her. But when I say that I think her worthy your love, you will know
how highly I esteem her.

"This is the third day that I have been scribbling at this letter.
After every half-page, my wound begins to give warning again. However,
to hold a sword or to cock a musket is not such exhausting work as to
guide a pen. Old Berlichingen managed to get along, though in a far
worse plight.

"Remember me to our friends; I look forward with the greatest pleasure
to seeing them again, and to celebrating my last German Christmas with
you all. And now good-by, old fellow! _Hic et ubique_,

                                         "Your        Felix."



                              CHAPTER VI.


When Jansen received this letter he was at work in his studio making a
bust of his child. Julie sat at his side looking on; little Frances
crouched in a high chair and asked a great many droll, sage questions;
and in spite of the gray autumn sky it was cozier in the large room
than in the old days, when the summer air came wafted in through the
wide-opened windows. Even now a sparrow flew in, now and then, through
the only open pane, and a great nosegay of autumn flowers stood on the
window-sill. A small fire flickered in the stove, and Julie's beautiful
face and the child's wise eyes gave out a warmth which had once been
sadly wanting here. Yet, notwithstanding this, Jansen's brow still
remained clouded; and he left it to his friend to answer the questions
of the child, while he worked on in silence.

For weeks she had been aware of this shade upon his spirits without
having been able to discover its cause, and to cheer him up she had
begged him for a bust of the child. Heretofore she had never come to
his studio unless accompanied by Angelica. Now she came every day with
the child, who was passionately fond of her, staid the whole forenoon,
and then took little Frances home with her to dinner, which was always
a fresh treat to the little one. Yet delighted as her friend was at
this arrangement and at this confidential intercourse with his beloved,
the shadow that rested on his spirits did not depart. At last she asked
him directly what it was that oppressed him. She earnestly besought him
to tell her, claiming it as her just right; for unless he did so she
would be compelled to think that she herself was the cause of his
sadness. The fresh outburst of passion with which he greeted this
speech, and which she herself was continually obliged to keep within
bounds, ought to have satisfied her on this point. But his strange
depression was still left unexplained. She must have patience with
him--he had entreated of her time and time again. Things would get
better and come out all right in the end. He loved her far too well to
embitter her life with all the wretched troubles he had to deal with.
If she could help him in any way he would not spare her or be ashamed
to call upon her for aid.

And now when he had finished reading Felix's letter, he handed it, in
silence, to his sweetheart, and stepped to the window while she read.
For a time it was perfectly still in the great room; little Frances had
clambered down from her high chair, and was busily engaged in dressing
and undressing a doll that Julie had given her only that morning. No
sound could be heard but the singing of the fire in the iron stove and
the hopping of the birds on the shelf above, where the plaster casts
stood.

Even after Julie had read the letter to the end, she did not at once
break the silence. Not until some time had elapsed did she send the
child up to Aunt Angelica with her love, and the question whether she
might be allowed to stay up there for a quarter of an hour. Then she
stepped up to the window where Jansen stood in silence, laid her hand
on his shoulder, and said:

"Now if I should guess what it is that secretly troubles you, my
dearest friend, would you confess it to me then?"

He turned, and passionately folded her in his arms. "Julie!" he
said--"what good would that do? There are some difficulties that are
insurmountable. I can only feel sure you have not vanished from the
world when I hold you to my heart, press my lips to yours, feel my hand
in yours--"

"Be still!" she said, smiling, and gently disengaging herself from him.
"I didn't send Frances away for you to forget all that you have so
solemnly promised me. Let us be sensible, my dear friend--indeed we
must be. Sit down over there, and try, for once, to listen to me,
instead of looking at me. Do you know, I consider it positively
discourteous of you to pay no attention to my wisest words, merely
because, after such a long acquaintance, your eyes still find something
about me to 'study?'"

"O Julie!" he said, and a sad smile passed over his face. "If words
could only help--if the sense and understanding and all the strength of
soul of a noble woman could but avail against the treachery and
unreasonableness of gods and men! But speak, and I will close my eyes
and listen."

"Do you know, you and your young friend are sick of one and the same
illness?" she now said, for he had covered his eyes with his hand and
taken a seat on the sofa, while she stood leaning upon the window-sill.

"I and Felix? I don't understand you."

"You have both come into the world too late, you are both wandering
anachronisms, as he says of himself alone in his letter. His energy and
your artistic nature to-day no longer find the soil and air that are
good for them, and that they deserve. When I look about me, dearest, I
say to myself: 'Where are now the people, the prince, the century to
appreciate this power, to lay commissions, reward, honor, and
admiration at the feet of this creative spirit? to post sonnets on the
door of his workshop, to make a passage for him when he strides among
the multitude, as we read that the ancients did, and the great men,
under the rule of the famous popes and the pomp-loving princes?'--Oh!
my dearest friend, I could weep tears of blood when I think how,
instead of all this, you live here, appreciated only by a circle of
good friends and enthusiastic disciples, and are made the butt of
stupid malice or blind ignorance in all the newspapers! And then, when
a demand arises for the production of some work to adorn a square or a
building, wretched quacks, who are not worthy to unloose the latchet of
your shoes, come running up by all sorts of back-stairs and secret
ways, and steal the prize away from you, and you remain hidden in the
dark! Now, don't shake your head! I know how you think about the
applause of the masses, and how little you begrudge it to the poor
wretches who hear no divine voice within them. But be honest now--if
this monument"--she mentioned the name of a man to whom a statue had
just been erected, on which occasion Jansen's application had, as
usual, been rejected--"if this commission had fallen to you--and then
another had followed close upon that--how differently you would stand
in your own esteem when you had become a central figure of your time!
To say nothing of the fact that then you would be able to close the
factory, as you call it, next door, and would have no need to strike a
blow of the mallet that did not come straight from the heart!"

She had talked herself into a state of great excitement; and now, when
he looked up at her, the shining brightness of her look and the soft
glow of her cheeks enraptured him. But he controlled himself and
remained seated.

"What you say is all very wise and true," he said. "But for all that
you don't quite hit the sore spot. I have known all this ever since my
eyes were first opened to what went on around me, to what some people
produce and other people admire. Yet in spite of that I have become
what I am, and what I could no more have helped becoming than I could
have helped coming into the world. Remember, too, how much better off I
am than our friend Felix. As far as the outside world goes, we are both
hampered and confined. The age has as little appreciation of high art
as of the great personal activity toward which all his powers and
wishes urge him. But I can at least put before myself and a half dozen
true friends what there is in me, even if it has no fuller life than
this; while our friend's special strengths can only reveal themselves
in putting him at odds with everybody.

"And, when I look about me here, will not all these dumb creatures of
mine continue to be my companions through life? I sometimes seem to
myself like a father who has a number of daughters, all of them well
brought up and each dear to his heart; and yet, loath as he is to lose
any one of them out of his sight, it seems harder and harder to him, as
the years go by, that no one of them finds a husband, and they all
remain under his roof unprovided for. However, that is fate, and one
learns to accept whatsoever the irresponsible powers bestow upon us.
But that which comes from mortals--"

He suddenly sprang up, ran his hand through his hair, and stepped so
close to his sweetheart, that Julie, little as she feared him even in
his anger, involuntarily retreated a step.

"Felix was right," he said, in a hollow voice. "There is only one way
of escape. These chains or others--we can never be free except on the
other side of the ocean. Julie, if you could only make up your mind, if
you feel as terribly in earnest as I do for our happiness--"

"My friend," she interrupted him, "I know what you would say. But the
more earnestly I long for your--_our_ happiness--the more must I insist
upon our striving to attain it in a perfectly prosaic and sober way.
Your friend is a born adventurer, a circumnavigator--a world conqueror.
Your world and mine is this studio. Can we take it with us in the ship?
And do you think a finer sense of art is to be found among the Yankees
or the red-skins than among our countrymen? No, my dearest Jansen, I
think that with courage and good sense we shall be able to free
ourselves even on this side of the water. You men are masters in
despairing, we women in hoping. And, besides, the end of our year of
probation is still far enough off."

"Hope!" he cried, gnashing his teeth. "If a tigress had me in her
claws, you might, with far more show of reason, call out to me only to
give up hope with life! But this woman! Do you know a more terrible
enemy of human happiness than this lie--this cold, rouged, heartless,
unnatural lie? If she only hated me as immeasurably as she pretends to
love me, truly, I myself should think it too soon to despair. A mortal
can become satiated even with hate; and malice, too, is something of
which one can get tired. But what is to be hoped when it is all merely
a game, and the innermost nature of one's enemy is the nature of a
comedian? Every spark of conscience has been extinguished in this
wretched woman since her girlhood; her life is to her nothing
but a _rôle_; her love and hate have become merely a question of
costumes--applause and money are her highest and holiest conceptions.
And she fears for both, if she lets me go free. It is flattering to
her--one success more--to be able to pose before herself and the world
as an injured innocent, a robbed wife, a mother whose child has been
taken from her--and for that reason she refuses all my entreaties and
offers with indignation, for she knows well that I would rather give up
any happiness in life than let her have the child. If you had read the
letters I have wasted upon her in these last few weeks! Letters which,
I can truly say, were written with my heart's blood--they would have
made a tigress human; and this woman---read what she answers me! I have
carried on this wretched correspondence behind your back, in the hope
of taking upon myself all that was bitter and humiliating--for what
words have I not stooped to use!--I have borne all the agony of these
last weeks, in order that I might at last lay nothing but the happy
results at your feet. Now read what sort of echo came to me from that
stony heart, and then say whether a man need necessarily be a master in
despairing, to give up all hope here!"

He went to the large closet, unlocked a drawer, and took out several
dainty-looking letters, that diffused a sweet perfume through the room.
Julie read one after the other, while he threw himself down on the sofa
again and stared at the ceiling. The letters were written in a regular,
delicate, clear hand, and in a style which might be taken as a model of
diplomatic art. There were no traces of mere declamation, of
complaining or accusing. The writer had resigned herself to accept an
unhappy fate, for she felt herself too weak and not cold-hearted enough
to take up the battle with him: a battle in which the man to whom she
had given all stood opposed to her. This she could prevail upon herself
to do, for it was only her own happiness that she was sacrificing. But
she could never be brought to give up her claim to her child. The day
might come when the longing for a mother's love might awaken in the
poor child's heart. Then no one should have it in his power to say to
her: "Your mother has no heart for you; she has given you over to
strangers." Upon passages like this, which were repeated in each
letter, especial care had been bestowed, reminding one, here and there,
of the stage, and the last rhetorical flourish just before the curtain
falls. The last sheet, which had been received only a few days before,
concluded as follows:

"I know all, all that you would so carefully conceal from me. It is not
only your wish to have done with the past once and forever, and to give
me back my freedom--for, according to your idea of my character, it
would cost me no effort whatsoever to live as if all were at an end
between us, especially as I do not bear your name on the stage. No, I
know what it is that not only makes you wish for a complete separation
from me, but that makes every delay unbearable. You have fallen into
the net of a dangerous beauty. If my old love for you were not stronger
than my self-love, there would be nothing I should more earnestly wish
for, or would more eagerly aid by all the means in my power, than your
marriage with this girl. She would justify me, would raise me to honor
again in your eyes, and would force from you the confession that you
had cast away your only true friend in order to nurse a serpent in your
bosom. But I am nobler than it is for my advantage to be: not, I admit,
altogether for your sake. The hope of seeing you return to me is too
tempting for me not to be willing to help you to have this experience.
But to relinquish our child to this stranger--who is said to be as
clever as she is beautiful, and as beautiful as she is heartless--to
give my blessed angel, who hovers near me in my dreams, to this
serpent--"

Julie had involuntarily read the last few lines aloud, as if she
scorned to soften down any accusation that was directed against
herself. Her disgust and indignation would not permit her to finish the
sentence--the letter fell from her hand.

"My dear friend," she said, "let us read no further. I must confess you
are quite right; this is hopeless. Kindness is thrown away upon such an
unnatural character as you so rightly called it, and force--where is
the force that we could use? But as for surrendering--hopelessly, and
without striking a blow--no matter how much talent I might have for
despairing, if I were opposed to this woman, I would either conquer or
die!"

He sprang up and seized her hand. "Julie!" he cried, "you put new life
into me. Never shall she enjoy such a triumph--rather let us flee to
the ends of the earth beyond the reach of her hand--rather let us go to
the Yankees and the red-skins, but with you at my heart and our child
in our arms--"

She shook her head earnestly. "No, no, no!" she said. "No self-imposed
banishments! It is a good thing I have my thirty-one years behind me.
Else this youthful enthusiast might succeed in the end in carrying me
off with him, and we should make a great mistake that would soon make
both him and me very unhappy. The land across the ocean is no place for
you, my beloved master. You have never cared to take part in the
modern, sentimental nonsense in our Old World; what sort of a figure
would you cut in the midst of all the humbug of the New? And as for
your giving up your art, and living only for your wife and child--how
long do you suppose you could bear that? How long would it take for the
woman for whose sake you had done this to become a burden to you? And
even if you could rest content with such a life, do you think I would
be satisfied with it? True, I have confessed that I love this man--this
violent, wicked, good, precious Hans Jansen--but I want to see him as
great, as famous, as proud, and as happy as it is possible for any one
to be in this wretched world; to love in him not only the husband and
father, but also the great master, who compels the whole world to join
with me in love and admiration. Oblige me, my dearest friend, by
throwing that correspondence there into the stove, and promise me not
to write any more. In return I promise you that I will ponder day and
night upon the best way for us to free ourselves. And if our year of
probation should pass away without our having succeeded before God and
man--here is my hand upon it! I will be yours--if not in the eyes of
men, certainly in the sight of God; and I believe I am old enough to
know what an honorable woman ought to do and to answer for."



                              CHAPTER VII.


Our other friends, too, had lost in the autumn mists more and more of
that sunny, paradisiacal frame of mind which they enjoyed when we first
knew them.

Rosenbusch went daily to his studio; but he did little there except to
feed his mice, and to take his flute out of its case, oil and clean it,
without making any attempt to call forth a sound. He would stand for an
hour before the "Battle of Lützen," which was now completed, and heave
sighs that sounded anything but triumphant. He had long since prepared
a new canvas, on which he was intending to paint the entry of Gustavus
Adolphus into Munich, a theme which he hoped would interest even the
"Art Association." But not a stroke of the brush had he done as yet. To
tell the truth, the temperature in his studio was well calculated to
scare away the muses, and to freeze up the sweet tones of his flute.
Even the mice, who were more accustomed to it, squealed uncomfortably
in their little wire cage; while their friend and master, wrapping the
mediæval horse-blanket about his painter's jacket, strode thoughtfully
up and down, casting a look of displeasure at the cold stove every time
he passed it, as if he despised it as a friend who only remained
faithful as long as it was kept warm itself. The money he had last
received, for illustrating a book of soldiers' songs, had long since
been spent. It is true, a dealer in antiquities had made him a very
considerable offer for an old casket with a skillfully-ornamented
silver cover, which was said to have originally belonged to no less a
person than General Illo. But he could not make up his mind to barter
this valuable old relic for vulgar fire-wood. He was too proud to
borrow of Elfinger, who had hard work to live himself; or to reveal the
state of his circumstances to the other inmates of the house. If
any one chanced to come across him wandering about alone in his
strange disguise, he declared, with a beaming face, that he was too
full-blooded to bear the heat of a stove. Besides, he was in one of his
poetical moods, and was brooding over an epic poem which was to treat
of the astonishing and pitiful love-adventure of the Swedish commander
with Gustel von Blasewitz. And composing a poem was a very heating
occupation, unless the "shade of a laurel-wreath" was there to cool the
forehead on which stood the anxious sweat of the muses.

Toward noon he threw aside his horse-blanket and went around to
Angelica's room, where it was warm and cozy. The good girl led the same
quiet, industrious life now as before; sold one flower-piece after
another, cheaply but surely; painted the children of tender parents who
had no money to spare for art, but yet liked to see their _salon_
adorned with the red-cheeked curly-heads of their own flesh and blood;
and had certainly no good cause for mourning over the pining away of
the beautiful summer. And yet, she too was perceptibly depressed in
spirits. Whether it was her righteous anger at the flirting and
profitless pangs of her red-bearded neighbor, who since the excursion
on the water had only been permitted to exchange a few hasty glances
and notes with his sweetheart (her father having found out about the
Starnberg adventure, and had a scene with Aunt Babette); or whether the
clouded happiness of her beautiful friend caused her silent pain, or
awakened in her breast a very pardonable longing for a similar
fulfillment of her own earthly mission--who shall say?

She herself never suffered a word of complaint to escape her; and
exhibited, particularly to her secretly-betrothed friend, the most
contented face in the world. But the change in her spirits did not
escape Rosenbusch. He had to submit to be lectured by her oftener than
ever, and in a far sharper tone, not only because of his inactivity,
but also more particularly because of the aimless and unmanly way in
which he carried on his love affair. She would say such harsh things to
him about it, that any one else would have run out of the room. But he,
meanwhile, would water her flowers with the most penitent and humble
mien, would wash her brushes, and end by assuring her that he never
felt so well as when she was blowing him up; he felt then that he had
no better friend in the world than she was. But he would not be such a
fool as to improve, for he only interested her because of his faults.
She had no appreciation of his praiseworthy qualities, inasmuch as she
could not abide poems, _adagios_, and mice. Whereupon she used first to
laugh, and then, with a shrug of the shoulders and a meaning sigh, to
subside into silence.

Nor did "Edward the Fat" pass his days any more cheerfully, though he
was surrounded once more by his city comforts, and was relieved of the
hated task of enjoying Nature. For the first time in his life this
spoiled child of fortune had a wish unfulfilled, and, what sharpened
the sting of the privation, a wish that by no means aspired to far-off
clouds and stars, but lay apparently within reach of his hands.
Heretofore he had had no cause to complain of the unkindness and
cruelty of women. The singular contrast between his indolent, sluggish,
and phlegmatic manner, and the keen intellectual power that flashed
from his eyes and played about his lips, to say nothing of the
contemptuous way in which he was in the habit of treating the proudest
and most exacting women, provoked them to enter the lists with him, and
to challenge and abuse him, until, very unexpectedly, they found
themselves worsted. But now, for the first time, he had encountered a
being to whom he was forced to stoop in every sense of the word; for
she was neither beautiful, nor educated, nor particularly prudish, nor
even of good birth. And this strange creature treated him with the most
persistent coldness, remained as insensible as a stick to his tenderest
words and most heart-felt homage, and, finally, slipped out of his
hands altogether. For, in spite of all their endeavors, neither he nor
old Schoepf succeeded in discovering the girl's hiding-place.

Ever since Schnetz had let him into the secret, Rossel had become more
and more intimate with the old grandfather, and had even proposed to
him to accept of a room in his house. The old man, who, in the mean
while, had moved into somewhat larger quarters, so as to be ready to
receive the girl the moment she should knock at his door, declined this
offer, but was very glad to pass his lonely hours in the company of his
brilliant young friend. They would spend hours--for neither of them had
anything to do--deep in discussions about what was really the main
thing in art, or what should or should not be painted; and it was only
when they heard the door-bell ring at some unusual time that they would
both start up and listen eagerly, hoping it might possibly be the lost
girl returning penitently to her best friends.

The only ones whose spirits remained unaffected were Kohle and Schnetz;
the latter, because his Thersites disposition had struck its roots too
deeply into his nature for him to be either elated or depressed by
anything he experienced; Kohle, on the other hand, because, like the
happy genii of his Hölderlin, he "soared in the celestial light above,"
and was incapable of giving his heart to the fate of mortals, no matter
how closely he might be bound to them by ties of friendship, for more
than a few hours at a time. During these misanthropical November days,
Schnetz, when not engaged in the service of his little highness, sat in
his den of _silhouettes_, cut out bitter satires, smoked, read Rabelais
at Rossel's suggestion, and, for whole days at a time, spoke to no one
except his pale little wife; while Kohle, in a far more wretched,
unheated room, passed his days making new designs which, with fingers
stiff with cold, but with a heart all aglow with happiness, he sketched
on the back of a large fire-screen instead of on paper, which he had
not the money to buy.

Under these circumstances it was not to be wondered at that the two
meetings of the Paradise Club, which took place before the end of the
year, were not attended by that festal flow of spirits that had
characterized most of their predecessors. Old Schoepf stayed away
altogether; Rossel did not speak a word; Jansen did not make his
appearance until nearly midnight, and sat brooding with a dark look in
his bright eyes, while he emptied glass after glass without being
warmed by his potations. Elfinger, whose relations to his pious
sweetheart grew every day more hopeless, and had begun to seriously
tell upon his spirits, was scarcely more talkative, and the jokes with
which Rosenbusch favored the company had, in Rossel's opinion, a biting
flavor, like preserved fruit that has begun to ferment. The younger and
less prominent members felt the weight that rested on the whole circle,
but were either too modest or too poorly supplied with brains to
succeed in enlivening matters at all; and an uncomfortable feeling
began to creep over first one and then the other, that perhaps in the
life of their society, as in that of every human alliance, the moment
had arrived when a sudden decline succeeds to a period of highest
prosperity, and when a swift dissolution appears more dignified and
more welcome than a long era of gradual decline and decay.

There was one member who did not make his appearance on these evenings,
although he was still in the city and apparently in just the mood for
such festivities--namely, Angelos Stephanopulos. This or that one had
encountered him, on foot or in a carriage, acting as knight to his
lady, the Russian countess, who had been away for a few months, but had
now returned to that same private hotel where--though at some distance
from the nocturnal musical orgies--Irene and her uncle were awaiting
reassuring reports from Italy. Irene had satisfied the demands of
etiquette by making a formal call upon her fellow-lodger, but had
avoided any more intimate intercourse.

Upon this point her uncle had submitted all the more readily to his
young governess because, at bottom, he felt more aversion than liking
for all but martial or dancing music. But another promise which his
strict little niece exacted from him, that he would never say a word to
any one about her former relations to Felix, appeared to him so useless
that he did not think it a matter of conscience to keep it any longer
than while they were all such near neighbors in the country.

At his first meeting with Schnetz he informed his friend and
brother-in-arms of the whole story.

He earnestly besought him to exert all his influence to rouse Felix
from his dogged silence. Only a single visit from him--now, in the
interesting paleness of convalescence--just to thank them for their
sympathy during his illness; and the world must have turned topsy-turvy
since he was young, if these two estranged lovers did not make up
again.

Schnetz listened to these propositions with his usual morose calmness,
abused his imperial terribly, and then remarked--that this commission
was not to his taste. He had too great a regard for Felix to help him
to a bride who could not love him just as he was, with all his faults
and weaknesses. He doubted himself whether he should be doing the young
man a favor if he did so. He was keeping house very comfortably out
there in the solitary villa, going into the woods every day with Homo
and a good double-barreled gun; and even though he did not shoot much,
he unquestionably killed time after a much more manly fashion than if
he were here striving to regain the favor and forgiveness of a spoiled
princess. Besides, he was intending to put his affairs in order soon
after Christmas, and then to set sail in the early spring; for he had
taken it into his head that the air in America would agree with him
better than that of his native land.

This announcement threw the uncle into the liveliest state of alarm. He
depicted to his friend in such dark colors the future that threatened
him, if Felix should carry out this resolution, the prospect of the
life-long guardianship of a Fräulein who would soon be getting
_passée_, who would grow more whimsical and unmanageable from year to
year, and who would make him suffer for the wrong which she herself had
done to her own happiness by her proud obstinacy; he besought him in
such moving terms not to leave him in the lurch, now of all times, that
finally Schnetz took pity upon him and promised to at least seize the
first opportunity to question Felix concerning the real state of his
feelings.

For a moment he felt tempted, now that they were on the subject of
confessions, to give this lively bachelor, who only wanted to get rid
of his ward in order that he might once more enjoy "life" perfectly
unrestrainedly, a hint in respect to certain natural duties toward
another orphaned child. But a dark presentiment, that possibly a more
suitable hour might come for such a disclosure, restrained him. And,
moreover, as Red Zenz appeared to have vanished from the face of the
earth, there would be no use, for the present, in awakening paternal
feelings of which the visible object was perhaps lost for ever.



                             CHAPTER VIII.


Thus the year drew toward its end, and Christmas stood before the door.

In former years they had always had a Christmas-tree at the Paradise
Club. But this time the friends felt disposed to celebrate a more
domestic festival, in a narrower circle. In the course of this year
they had been drawn closer to one another, and had withdrawn more and
more from the other members of "Paradise." Nor was Angelica any longer
the only representative of her sex among them, and the only one thus
excluded from the men's festivals. And so it was determined that
Christmas Eve should be celebrated in the studio-building; that the
tree should be set up in Rosenbusch's room, and the table laid in
Angelica's--a plan which the two neighbors laid before the others as a
joint idea of their own. Each deposited his contribution toward the
preparations, in a money-box of which Angelica was the custodian.

Nor did Rosenbusch fail to contribute his share, although Angelica
tried by all sorts of pretexts to prevent him. How he had suddenly
come into possession of money again--for he had not sold any of his
work--was a mystery to Angelica, until she helped him to clear out his
studio in order to make room for the Christmas decorations. Then she
missed the silver-mounted box, his most precious treasure. Upon her
reproaching him about the matter he replied:

"What would you have, my dear friend? It is my misfortune to be a
single man. If I were the father of a family and could not pay my rent
I should be relieved of all want. For you must know that the Art
Society looks at the distress rather than at the talent of those of
whom it buys pictures. Help me to a wife, and I promise you not to
dispose of another article from my museum."

And then for several days he was in the brightest of spirits, hammering
and working as though he were engaged in arranging the studio for his
own wedding, and, in the short intervals of rest, taking his flute from
its case again.

Christmas Eve came at last. In the afternoon the hermit of the lake
returned to the city, with the faithful Homo, who had now become his
inseparable companion. Felix's first visit was to Jansen. They were
alone together for some hours--hours that carried them back to the time
of their early friendship, so freely did each open his heart, and so
keenly did they realize once more what they were and always would be to
one another. Yet they both avoided touching upon the details of their
past, as though it were taken for granted that each had an accurate
knowledge of the other's history.

That Jansen was struggling impatiently to free himself from his bonds,
and that Felix had given up all hope of ever finding his old happiness
again, was all that they confessed. Then they went, arm-in-arm, to
visit Julie, who received her lover's friend with all her sweetness and
kindness. It did Felix good to be with these two happy people, and he
expressed this feeling with so much warmth that Julie thought him
extremely charming, and purposely turned the conversation upon his
emigration plans in order to dissuade him from them, if it were still
possible. But he remained unshaken; and it seemed as if, in spite of
all this kind friendship, he could not wait for the time when he should
set foot upon the shore beyond the ocean. What it was that was driving
him away was not referred to by a word.

Before the evening's festival, they separated for a few hours. Jansen
and Julie had first to light a Christmas-tree for little Frances and
her foster brothers and sisters, and it was eight o'clock when they
reached the studios.

Yet they were not too late, but, on the contrary, had to wait for
some time down-stairs in Jansen's rooms with the other friends,
until Rosenbusch, who was always finding some last improvements to
make in the decorations, gave the signal by ringing a hoarse, old
hand-bell--like his other treasures, an historically authenticated
household utensil of the famous Friedlander.

Besides their intimate circle, Felix, Rossel, Elfinger, Schnetz and
Kohle, no one had been invited but old Schoepf. It had cost much
trouble to persuade the old man to come, for on this day he missed his
lost grandchild more bitterly than ever. Once persuaded, he seemed, in
his silent way, greatly touched; though he strove not to disturb the
merry mood of the others. Then, too, there was so much to be seen and
admired and laughed at in the Christmas room--Rosenbusch had so
surpassed himself, had arranged such tasteful decorations, had made so
many verses and prepared so many mottoes, that it was a full hour
before the distribution of presents was over.

Then when the lights on the tree had begun to sputter and go out, one
after the other, Schnetz suddenly produced a box, in which, up to this
time, he had kept his present concealed. It was a series of the most
amusing silhouettes, which he now passed in review on a white screen by
means of a magic-lantern. They represented the events and adventures of
the past year, none of those present escaping without a full share of
ridicule. The exhibitor himself was not spared, and it is scarcely
necessary to say that his knightship of the rueful countenance was
unmercifully made fun of.

While every one was enthusiastically demanding a repetition of this
shadow dance, Angelica slipped away to look after the supper, like a
careful hostess. At length she reappeared and invited them to table;
whereat Rosenbusch ventured to remark that it was high time they should
cut a door through the wall so that they might visit one another in a
friendly, neighborly way, without having to go round by the cold
corridor. The confusion of the moment permitted Angelica, who was
usually very strict in keeping this light-hearted red-beard within
bounds, to ignore this somewhat audacious remark.

So they entered the other festal hall, in the centre of which stood a
tastefully-laid table covered with shining dishes, plates and glasses,
ornamented with flowers and surmounted by a slender miniature
Christmas-tree, from which hung candy and sweetmeats for the dessert.
But we must unfortunately deny ourselves the pleasure of describing the
joys of the table, to which this select company now abandoned itself.
It is enough to know that it was one of those singularly happy evenings
when everything succeeds, when the serious vein is not too heavy, and
the merriment not too light, the sentiment not too gushing, and the
jollity not too noisy. No one could resist the charm of the cheery
present, or brood with sad thoughts upon the past or future; and even
Felix and old Schoepf soon had no further need to force their feelings,
in order to join in the merry laughter over Schnetz's biting jests and
Rosenbusch's inexhaustible drolleries.

Besides all this, the domestic talents of the two ladies stood the test
most gloriously. Angelica's simple entertainment found favor even with
Rossel; and a hidden genius was discovered in Julie for brewing an
incomparable punch, according to a receipt which she had inherited from
her father, the general. It was, therefore, merely an expression of the
universal feeling when Rosenbusch rose, and in neat verses, which
unfortunately have not been preserved, proposed the health of their two
lady-friends, the foster-sisters of this circle, who had so wisely
administered the peculiarly feminine office of providing for the
earthly wants of poor humanity.

This toast, which was received with the wildest applause, was followed
by a number of merry, gallant, and serious harangues; and even the two
ladies mustered up sufficient courage to make some pretty little
speeches, which, it is true, they did not succeed in finishing without
considerable blushing and hesitation.



                              CHAPTER IX.


In the midst of a pause that followed the reading of some singularly
tender and beautiful verses by the hitherto silent Kohle, the happy
party heard the clock on a neighboring tower strike the hour of
midnight, and it was only when the twelfth stroke had died away that
their solemnly exorcised spirits seemed to wake once more from their
enchantment.

Rossel rose, went up to Kohle, and embraced him, calling him "du" for
the first time. He declared that Father Hölderlin looked down from his
blissful heights upon his son, with whom he was well pleased. The
others, too, roused themselves, and expressed, each according to his
fashion, their thanks to the greatly embarrassed poet, to whose health
the only one who could have been jealous of him--the poetical
Rosenbusch--proposed, amid the enthusiastic acclamations of all, that
they should drink the last glass of punch.

Schnetz propounded the question whether sufficient cause could be shown
why this was and must be the last glass. But Angelica, although she
protested that she wished to exert no pressure upon any one else,
persisted, for her own part, in withdrawing; and as the men, too, felt
that the festal mood of the evening had reached its height, it was
decided to leave the faithful Fridolin to extinguish the lights, and to
start together on their homeward ways.

Jansen escorted his betrothed; Rosenbusch offered his arm to Angelica;
behind them came Elfinger with Kohle, of whom he had begged a copy of
his poem, promising in return to give him a few hints in the art of
delivery. Schnetz and Rossel, one on either side, supported old
Schoepf, so as to keep him from falling, for he found it hard to walk
on the slippery pavement, which was covered over with a thin layer of
ice.

The last was Felix. His voice had not been heard for some time back,
and no one noticed when, without saying good-night, he turned into a
side-street, and went his way alone.

Pulling his hat far down over his face, he rushed as hastily through
the raw night as though he were somewhere impatiently expected. His
wounds, which were still scarcely healed, pained him; the fiery drink
had heated his blood after his long abstinence; and restless, joyless
thoughts throbbed through his brain. Before he was aware of it, he
found himself in the square before the hotel where Irene lived. Schnetz
had let fall a word, as if by chance, about their having taken other
rooms, because of the musical _soirées_. Where ought he look for her
window now? They light no Christmas-trees in inns; besides, it was past
midnight, and in only a few of the windows was the light still burning.

His eyes fastened themselves unconsciously upon a bright window in the
second story. The dark outline of a woman's figure was visible there
for a moment; but he could not make out whether it was she who was
peering out through the frosted window into the Christmas night. Then
the figure drew back again, but he remained.

He stood leaning against a lamp-post, insensible now to the chilling
fog and the pain of his wounds. It seemed to him as if he were already
on the shore of the New World, and between him and that bright window
the broad ocean stretched. Never had he realized so clearly that he
could never be happy without this girl, and yet he had never been so
far removed from every hope. He said to himself that he must not return
to this spot so long as he remained in the city, unless he would see
the courage which he had mustered up with so much pain broken again and
his determination shaken anew. He must forget once for all that there
was a bright window here; he swore it to himself with the full
consciousness of how hard it would be for him to keep his vow.

At this moment the light in the window went out. It made a cold shudder
pass over him, as if he had received a confirmation of his fears that
all was at an end forever. Then he roused himself, and slowly started
on the way to his lodgings.

In spite of the late hour, the streets were full of life. The Christmas
mass, which lasted from twelve to one, still kept many pious or curious
people on their feet. Felix had not gone far when he overtook two
couples, who seemed to be in even less of a hurry than himself. A
large, stout woman walked in front, hanging on the arm of a young man
who appeared to be telling her some very amusing story, for she
laughed incessantly in a deep, coarse voice, every minute turning her
head--whose thick, black hair was but loosely wound with a red
kerchief--that she might look at the second couple, as if she wondered
why they did not laugh too. The latter were not walking arm-in-arm; but
the man kept close to the girl and spoke incessantly to her in a low
voice, while she walked by his side with drooping head, as though she
did not belong to him, and were paying no attention to his talk.

The light of the street-lamp now fell upon the group, brightly
illuminating a little hat with a black feather, that sat jauntily upon
a gold-red chignon.

"Zenz!" cried Felix in surprise.

The girl suddenly stood still, and looked around her.

"Is it really you?" he cried, hastily stepping to her side. "Where have
you been hiding all this time? But I see you are with company. I won't
detain you."

She still stood there, without moving or answering a word. But her
companion, an insolent, dissipated-looking young fellow--apparently a
young salesman--took upon himself to reply for her, and declared that
he would not allow any one "to strike up an acquaintance with his girl
in the street," in his presence, and without an introduction to him.

With this he offered Zenz his arm to take her to the others, who had
only just discovered what was taking place, and were looking round
toward the stragglers.

"You have nothing to say here, my good friend," replied Felix, with the
greatest coolness. "If Fräulein Zenz has no objection to standing here
with me, I have a good deal to say to her, and you can wait until I
have done, unless you should prefer to go on. How is it, Zenz? Have you
five minutes to spare for an old friend?"

The girl now quickly raised her eyes to his and said, in a timid tone
that sounded strangely from her lips:

"Is it true that you haven't forgotten me yet?"--Then, before he could
answer, she turned to the others:

"You needn't give yourselves any further trouble about me; I can find
my way fast enough. Goodnight!"

"Hullo!" cried the young fellow, "that _would_ be cool--to drop a man
in the street in this style when another comes along. Damn it, sir--"

He had just turned in a threatening way upon Felix, and had called up
the others to bear witness that he didn't intend to suffer any such
treatment, when the big, black-haired woman recognized Felix, and
hastily whispered a few words to the excited man that seemed to make a
marked impression on him. He gave vent to a few more furious
expressions, and then suddenly burst out into a hoarse laugh. Making an
ironical bow to Zenz, and calling a coarse epithet after her, he turned
upon his heel and followed the two others, who went on their way as if
nothing had happened.

"Nice company I find you in," said Felix, drawing nearer to the
trembling girl. "I thought it likely you couldn't feel very happy among
them. Come, you must tell me now what sort of people they are, and how
you have been living since I saw you last. If I saw rightly, that big
woman was the 'Black Therese.' Poor child! things must have gone very
badly with you, to make you take refuge with _her_!"

She hung on his arm, and let him lead her down the street. He saw, with
heart-felt pity, how pale and haggard she had grown, and what poor
clothes she wore. Nor could she be induced, at first, to speak a word;
yet her breast heaved as if it would burst, and every now and then she
stood still and drew a deep breath. But his kind words gradually melted
the ice. She told him that she had led a wretched life; had sought in
vain for work, and had finally seen no other way than to go back once
more to her old acquaintance, who had taken her in again. But, because
she was no longer as merry as she used to be, she had not suited the
Black Therese at all; and she would gladly have gone away from her if
she had only known where to turn. The woman had tried to make her
acquainted with all sorts of gentlemen, and had scolded her for a silly
goose, because she would not consent.

That night the Black Therese's lover had come to take both girls to the
Christmas mass. But in the church a friend of his had joined them, and
they were just on their way to a public-house to get something more to
drink. It had seemed as if heaven had opened to her when she heard
Felix's voice. And now, all of a sudden, she felt quite light at heart.
How had he happened to come along just at the right time, and how was
he getting on, and was he really quite well again?

She began to laugh again as she asked these questions, with her old
happy, light-hearted laugh. All her wretchedness seemed of a sudden to
have vanished, and to be forgotten.

"Zenz," he said, "you must not go back to this black devil of a woman.
She will bring you to ruin sooner or later; you can no longer have any
doubt of that. But now, what do you intend to do? Have you ever taken
any thought as to what is going to become of you?"

Her laughing face suddenly grew dark again.

"Indeed I have," she answered, with a thoughtful nod of the head. "I
have made up my mind to look on and see how things go until summer;
then, if I am no better off--I'm not afraid of the water, I will take
another trip on the Starnberger lake, and, when I am just in the
middle, I will close my eyes and spring in. They say it doesn't hurt at
all.

"You see," she continued, when he did not answer, "I shall never be
happy in this world; very few are, and it is all ordered beforehand. So
why should I look on patiently while my few young years pass miserably
away? There is no one to miss me when I am out of the world. And if it
is all the same to _me_ whether I live or not, what does it matter to
any one else?"

As she said these words, she involuntarily let go his arm, and stood
still again for a moment, to recover breath after her quick speech.

He seized her hand.

"Will you do something for my sake, Zenz?" he asked, tenderly--"a very
great favor? Will you promise me to do what I ask you?--to go with me
wherever I lead you? You know well enough that I mean well by you."

She looked at him inquiringly. Then she laid her other hand in his,
too. A blush mounted to her cheeks, as if from a sudden glad hope that
was almost like a shock.

"Do with me whatever you like!" she said, in an almost inaudible voice.
"I have no one in all the world but you. Kill me or make me happy, it
is all the same to me."

"Come then," he answered, taking her arm again. He knew very well what
thought it was that had sprung up within her, and that he must
disappoint her hope. But he left her in her delusion, so that she would
follow wherever he should lead.

They walked for a quarter of an hour, both in silence, through the
dark, deserted streets. At length he stood still before a house, in
whose upper story the windows were still lighted.

"Here!" he said.

She gave a start. "Have you moved?" she asked, regarding the house with
a look of surprise.

"Here lives the man, Zenz, to whom I want to bring you; he will care
for you better than I myself could, even if I were willing to take you
with me to a new world. You know whom I mean, child. You did not think
of him when you said no one would miss you when you were no longer in
the world. Do you remember him now? No," he continued, as she made a
movement to escape from him, "I won't let you go; you know what you
promised me. The old man sitting there up-stairs--if you only knew how
he longs to make up to you for the wrong he did to your poor mother; if
you only knew him, Zenz, as we all do--and now he sits there in his
lonely room this Christmas-night. The lieutenant has told me of all the
things he has brought together, so that he might have some presents
ready for his grandchild in case she should hit upon the happy idea of
presenting him with herself on Christmas-eve. And, Zenz, if you could
only find it in your heart to carry out this thought, even at this late
hour, would you not be better off up there than in the tavern with
those blackguards, where you would be given vile stuff to drink, and
forced to listen to worse talk? And even if this were not so, and you
could not bear to live with him, wouldn't there still be time for that
voyage on the lake of which you spoke?"

This last thought seemed at length to turn the scales.

She suddenly burst out laughing again. "I was caught nicely that time,"
she said; "I positively never thought of such a thing when I promised
you I would do whatever you asked of me. But, then, it was very stupid
of me; I ought to have known-- However, it's quite true that I can try
it for a while; it won't cost me my head; and if it doesn't work--why,
he won't put me under lock and key, so that I can't get away again.
Only you must say to him, in the first place, that I don't particularly
like him. I can't conceal what I really feel."

Felix pulled the bell. A sleepy old woman, who acted as servant to
Father Schoepf, opened the door. "Goodnight, Zenz," said Felix,
cordially pressing the girl's hand. "Say for yourself whatever you have
to say to your grandfather. And I thank you for having kept your word;
you won't regret it. Good-night, and remember me to the old gentleman;
and tell him that I heartily congratulate him upon his Christmas joy.
Tomorrow I will call and see how you get on together."



                               CHAPTER X.


It was not much earlier when the two lovers, who had likewise separated
themselves from the rest, arrived before Julie's house. They had taken
a roundabout way, for Jansen, who was only too happy to have his
beautiful sweetheart on his arm, and to be alone with her at last,
would hare liked to wander about for hours. The night-air quickened all
his senses, and, in the pale light of the snow and the lamps, the face
at his side appeared to him enchantingly beautiful. But he spoke
little, just as all the evening he had been the quietest of the party.
And she understood him well enough to know that he did not speak to her
simply because he never ceased to think of her. Sometimes he would draw
her closer to him, and touch his lips to her cool, soft cheek, in the
dark shadow of the houses or in the centre of a deserted square. Then
he would speak some tender word to her, only to lapse into silence
again the next moment.

When at last they arrived at the gate before her house, she stood still
and drew the door-key from her pocket.

"We are really here already!" she said. "What a pity! I could walk for
hours. It seems to me as if time stood still when I am hanging on your
arm. But I must relieve my old Erich, who is sitting up until I come.
Good-night, dearest!"

"Here?" he asked, painfully surprised--"here, in the cold street? It is
warm in your rooms."

"And for that very reason," she said, softly, "we should find it so
much the harder to part."

"Julie!" he cried, passionately clasping her to his breast, "_must_ we
part? Can you send me away, when we have not been able to say a
confidential word to one another all this evening? If you but knew how
I felt--"

She gently withdrew from his embrace. "Dearest," she whispered, "I know
only too well. Do you suppose it costs me no struggle to have more
sense than you, you wild man? To still make myself out a girl without a
hearty while all the while I can feel the poor disobedient thing
beating only too wildly? Oh, my darling, if you and I were only alone
in the world--"

"Who is there besides ourselves who can separate us from one another?"
he cried, hotly.

She laid her soft hand entreatingly upon his mouth. There were some
people passing who stopped to listen to his loud voice. "Be quiet,
dearest!" she whispered. "Be good, be gentle, be patient for just a
little while longer; and think, too, of my own feeling. Have you
forgotten that I have determined to be a good mother to our little
Frances? I always want to be able to look her in the eyes, and on our
marriage-day, too, when I wear the bridal-wreath that I have honorably
deserved. The happiness of belonging to you is so great that it may
well be worth a time of probation. And now good-night, until to-morrow,
and don't be angry with me. Some time you will thank me for having
to-day made myself out stronger--than I really am."

With these words she threw her arms tightly round his neck, and gave
him a long and loving kiss. Then she hastily escaped, opened the gate,
and vanished down the dark garden-walk that led to the house-door. He
waited to see the light appear in her window; he could not feel
reconciled to parting from her in this way. But she knew that it would
only be the harder for him to tear himself away if he should see a
light in her window. With throbbing pulse and burning cheeks she
entered the dark room, refusing to take the lamp which the old servant
had in readiness. So she undressed herself by the faint light that
penetrated through the blinds, and hastily sought her bed, to lie a
long time sleepless, thinking of all the happiness that was in store
for her.


Nor did Rosenbusch make any great haste to take his lady home. They
were both in a very merry mood, and he especially made so many
brilliant jokes that he kept her laughing continually. It was by sheer
oversight that they suddenly found themselves standing at last before
her house and Angelica expressed her surprise that the way had been so
short. It was so refreshing to be out in the cold winter night, after
all the punch and laughter.

A droschky drove slowly past. Rosenbusch proposed that they should take
a drive to the Nymphenburg. But she would not hear of such a thing, but
advised him to go home like a respectable person, and not to seek
companions in some wine-house and spend the night with them in
drinking; he had more in his head already than was good for him. But
when she did not succeed in getting the house-door unlocked, she had to
put up with his remark that her hand did not seem to be a very steady
one either. "A man must guide her steps," he sang from the
"Zauberflöte," as he took the key from her and opened the door with a
smart wrench. "It was very true," she said, "she did not know how to
manage latch-keys as well as certain night-birds. But now, many thanks
and goodnight!"

With these words she attempted to step into the house; but he, in his
merry, audacious mood, could not restrain himself from quickly seizing
her round the waist and giving the good girl, who looked positively
pretty with her hood and her red cheeks, a sounding kiss upon the lips.
But this was carrying the joke too far, in her opinion.

"Herr von Rosebud," she said, in her coldest tone, "you have drunk more
than is good for you, and are not entirely responsible for what you do.
For that reason I can't be so severe upon your forgetfulness of all
propriety as I otherwise should be. I will merely remark to you that my
name is not Nanny, and that I wish you a very good-evening."

She made him a formal courtesy, and attempted to slip quickly past him.
But he held her fast by her cloak and said, in a droll, pathetic tone:

"You wrong me greatly, Angelica. Truly, I have such a devilish respect
for you, I honor you so boundlessly as the model of all womanly
virtues, that I would rather eat my head than forget what I owe to you.
But will you have the goodness to remember that we have sleighing now?
and although we two have merely slid here on foot, still I thought
myself entitled, as your true knight, to take this liberty. If this was
an error, can you find it in your heart to condemn me for it to the
eternal punishment of your direful wrath?"

She could not help laughing at the crushed and penitential mien, which
the cunning rascal knew so well how to assume.

"Go!" she said, in her old tone again. "On Christmas night the Saviour
came into the world to suffer for all sinners. And, perhaps, you may be
forgiven too."

"I thank you," he responded, very quietly. "And in token thereof, dear
fellow-Christian, seal your solemn forgiveness, in the sight of this
starry heaven, with a voluntary, sisterly kiss. No, you must not refuse
me this, unless you want me to pass a sleepless night. You are no
Philistine, dearest Angelica."

"I wish I were one," she sighed. But then she kindly and without
further resistance offered him her red lips, and said, once more:
"Good-night, my dear Rosenbusch!" and the house-door closed between
them.



                               _BOOK VI_.



                               CHAPTER I.


The new year had come, but it brought little that was new.

One day, about the middle of January, when a light snow was falling in
large flakes, the carriage of the old countess had been standing for
more than an hour before the hotel in which Irene was stopping with her
uncle. The coachman, buried in his high-shouldered bearskin coat, had
fallen into a doze, and the horses hung their heads and meekly suffered
themselves to be covered with the falling snow. But it seemed as though
the silent fall of the flakes would come to an end sooner than the
storm of German and French phrases with which the lively old lady
overwhelmed the young Fräulein, who sat absently listening to her.

Her uncle had retired into a window-niche, and was looking over an
illustrated hunting-book; now and then he threw in a word, a question
about this or that acquaintance, which immediately gave the old
countess an opportunity to begin a new chapter of her town-gossip.

When, in the midst of this, the servant announced the arrival of the
lieutenant, Irene could not suppress a glad "Ah!" This time she found
his riding-boots, stiff with snow, and his shabby old winter overcoat,
in which he was muffled up to the eyes, by no means so objectionable as
usual, but welcomed him as a friend in need, and, smiling gratefully,
gave him her hand, which he pressed tightly between his rough buckskin
gloves.

But for all that she was disappointed in her hope, for he silently
threw himself into a chair, stretched out his legs and beat time with
his riding-whip on his high boots, while the old lady, taking up the
lost thread of her discourse again, began to spin on as zealously as
ever.

Her conversation dealt for the most part with the festival calendar of
the great world, with receptions, _soirées_, routs, and the amateur
theatricals that had been given by the French ambassador. Then the
question whether there was a prospect of any court balls, and how many
there would be, was discussed at length, with great vigor, and with
many references to former times, when the good lady was a reigning
belle.

All at once it seemed to occur to her that she had the conversation
entirely to herself.

"_Mais savez-vous, mon cher Schnetz_," she said, turning to him, "_que
vous avez une mine à faire peur? Je ne parle pas de votre toilette_--in
that respect you have never been very indulgent toward us. But all the
time I am trying to initiate our dear Irene into the programme of her
winter pleasures--for we can never think of letting her travel off into
that land of cholera and brigands, where they are threatening to cut
the throat of our religion and of the holy Father--you sit there like
Hippocrates--_le dieu du silence; et on voit bien, que vous vous moquez
intérieurement de tous ces plaisirs innocents._ Of course, in regard to
dancing, the gentlemen now-a-days are quite _blasé_. But although you
yourself can no longer take any pleasure in the joys of the carnival--"

"You are greatly mistaken, my dear countess," interrupted Schnetz,
seriously. "I am so far from being indifferent to the pleasures of
dancing that I actually propose to dance all night long, four days from
to-day, provided I can find a partner who will dare to trust herself
with such a dancing bear."

"Four days from to-day? _Vous plaisantez, mon ami._ Where is there
going to be a ball four days from to-day?"

"Not in the higher spheres, gracious lady, but still a very excellent
and respectable hall; moreover, in masks, which fact would in itself
make it worth attending. The truth is," he said, addressing himself to
Irene, "on Saturday we propose to open the carnival in our 'Paradise,'
about which I have already told you. You undoubtedly remember that
young baron, who took our boat in tow that day on the lake, and who
afterward had the difficulty with that murderous scoundrel? He is going
away to America--no one knows exactly why; and, as we all like him, we
are anxious to give him a formal farewell _fête_. For in all the five
points of the globe he will never see again such a masquerade as we can
make for him!"

A short pause followed these words. Irene had suddenly grown as pale as
death; it seemed to her as if she could not breathe; her uncle laid
aside his hunter's album, and rose, contriving, as he did so, to
secretly step on Schnetz's toe--the latter was apparently occupied in
the most innocent manner, with his heavy silver watch-chain, from which
were suspended a boar's tooth, a few trinkets, and a large seal ring.

"_Comment?_" said the old lady. "He is going off to America? _C'est
drôle_--and at this time of year--_au c[oe]ur de l'hiver!_ And I have
been meaning to ask you, my dear Schnetz, to bring this young man to
see me--he certainly looks as if he might be a magnificent dancer, and
from his birth and education he could not but prefer the balls in
society to any dancing parties that your artist friends might give."

"That is a question, countess," remarked Schnetz, dryly, as he rubbed
his disfigured ear; "or, rather, knowing the man as I do, it is not a
question at all. My friend's taste is altogether too unprejudiced for
him to consult the peerage to find out whether he may amuse himself or
not, or to judge by a merry dancer's eyes whether she is worth having
for a partner. He has had sufficient experience of what you are pleased
to call society to enable him to turn his back upon it without regret.
He now seeks society where he can find it; and, if it belongs to the
set you consider disreputable, it is good enough for him on carnival
eve, if for no other reason than because the so-called 'good society'
is only called so because, as a well-known Weimar councilor once
remarked, 'it never yet afforded material for even the smallest
poem.'"

"_Toujours le même frondeur!_" laughed the old lady. "_Mais on doit
pourtant observer les convenances_; I mean, even if your friend does
sometimes condescend to enter this _Bohème_, as you yourself do--"

Schnetz immediately cleared his throat loudly. "As to the
condescension," he said, with emphasis, "there can be so little talk of
that in the present case, that I can assure you that if the most
accomplished courtiers in your exclusive society should present
themselves for admission to this Paradise, they would be blackballed,
with but very few exceptions. This will give you an idea of what the
gentleman are like. As for our female guests--though they might not
always find favor in the eyes of delicate ladies--I will do them the
justice to say that they always behave themselves with propriety while
they are with us, and that they have a very good idea of what is
expected of them on such occasions. If this were not the case, do you
think I would dare to invite our honored Fräulein to this masked ball?
to do which, by the way, was the occasion of my present visit."

"Irene? Well, I must confess, Schnetz--_cést l'idée la plus
extravagante que vous ayez jamais eue. Irene, qu'en dites-vous, ma
chère enfant? Mais c'est un idée_--

"It is our rule," said Schnetz, turning to Irene, without paying the
slightest heed to this interruption, "to allow each member to bring a
lady with him, no matter whether she is known to the others or not. Her
cavalier is held responsible by the society for her behaving herself
with propriety. And up to the present time all have shown so much tact
in their choice, that nothing like a scandal has ever occurred. Of
course these good children are of all degrees of education and origin,
respectable burghers' daughters, actresses belonging to the smaller
theatres, and very likely you will find a little seamstress or milliner
among them, for whose unswerving principles I should hardly like to
answer. But all these inequalities disappear in the masquerade, and one
sees nothing but round, pretty faces, which their artist friends try to
set off as charmingly as possible. To have taken part in such a thing,
my dear Fräulein, will be an experience for you which you will not
forget as quickly as you do the artificial routs of our aristocratic
friends, that pass without mirth or comfort, and of which one is the
exact counterpart of all the rest.

"Then, besides," he continued, as Irene gave no sign either of assent
or dissent, "you needn't stand on any ceremony at all. If you should
not feel at home among us Bohemians, you can regard the matter as you
would a play, whose end we do not stop to see if it bores or depresses
us. I need only add that the young lady to whom Jansen is secretly
engaged is coming, as well as our honest friend Angelica, so that you
will not lack a guard of honor. Now, do help me persuade the Fräulein,
my dear countess. I am well enough acquainted with her uncle, to know
that he will have nothing to say against it."

"I help you, you godless tempter of youth?" cried the old lady,
wavering between sincere anger and a desire to laugh. "_Mais décidément
vous tournez à la folie, mon cher Schnetz!_ Have you forgotten that I
fill the place of a spiritual mother, _pour ainsi dire_, to our Irene?
that I feel myself responsible for all the impressions and experiences
she may encounter in our Munich? And you ask me to persuade her
to enter a society to which women _de la plus basse extraction_,
shop-girls, grisettes and models belong--a society, in a word, which is
of a thoroughly _mauvais genre_, no matter how much you bad men may
prefer it to ours?"

While she was pouring forth this hasty speech, a singular play of
anger, pity, and withering scorn came and went upon Schnetz's face. At
length the old lady having come to an end, and making as though she
would draw Irene to her arms, as if she were a little chicken who
sought protection from the claws of a hawk, the lieutenant slowly rose,
planted himself before the sofa, folded his arms over his chest and
said, bringing out each word with a certain dry satisfaction:

"You are too old, my good countess, and moreover too thoroughly
petrified by the atmosphere of courts, for me to venture to hope that
you will change, in any way, your ideas about men and things. But I
must respectfully request you not to make use of the expression
_mauvais genre_ in connection with any society to which I permit myself
the honor of inviting Fräulein Irene. It is opposed to my principles to
introduce young ladies whom I esteem into any circle where they could
be insulted by anything immoral or vulgar. Upon this point, I hold even
more exclusive views than you, in spite of your duties as spiritual
mother. In the days when I was still a frequenter of 'society,' which
is undoubtedly neither better nor worse here than it is in other
capitals, I often overheard ballroom-talk which would not have been
excused in our Paradise, even by the license allowed to those who wear
masks--though we can scarcely be called prudish. It is true the
conversation was veiled in smooth French and still smoother double
meanings, which undoubtedly accounts for its being considered _bon
genre_. So much for mere _words_. And when we come to consider the
deeds of this _haute extraction_ from a moral point of view--why, you
yourself have kept a record long enough to know that one may be very
well versed in the manners of a court, and may yet, as far as looseness
of principles is concerned, rival many a grisette, or, for that matter,
many a model; and that blue blood is quite as apt to run away with the
weaker sex as red. Those gentlemen, especially--to whom you would not
hesitate to trust Fräulein Irene for an entire cotillion--may I be
allowed to remind you of certain stories, in connection with some of
your own partners? About Baron X., for instance, who--" and he bent
down over the old lady, and whispered for some time in her ear,
notwithstanding the comical struggles she made to protect herself from
the auricular confession thus forced upon her.

"_Mais vous êtes affreux_," she cried out at length and struck at him
with her handkerchief, very much in the same way that one tries to rid
one's self of a swarm of importunate gnats.

"I beg a thousand pardons," growled Schnetz, again addressing himself
to Irene. "_C'est contre la bienséance, de chuchoter en société_--you
see I haven't quite forgotten my catechism of good-breeding even yet,
though I do sometimes sin against it. I merely wished to convince the
countess that the '_Bohème_' from which I have chosen my friends, does
indeed consist of men, and not of angels, but that it would be
impossible for me to introduce the Fräulein to any one there, from whom
the history of morals and civilization in this city could learn as much
as it could from certain members of the best circles."

The old countess hastily rose. Her face had grown very red, her
nostrils quivered. She gave a slight cough, and then said, turning with
a motherly smile to Irene, who was helping her on with her furs.

"_Ce cher Schnetz, il a toujours le petit mot pour rire._ Well, _ma
mignonne, faites ce que vous voudrez. Je m'en lave les mains. Adieu,
Baron! À tantôt! Adieu, Schnetz_, you renegade, you horrid wretch! I
see it is true what the world says of you, and what I have always
disputed, that you have the most malicious tongue in the whole city."

She gave him as she passed a little tap, intended to be light and
coquettish, but really delivered so sharply that the recipient could
easily see how glad the same hand would have been to give him a more
forcible lesson--if it had only been good _ton_.



                              CHAPTER II.


She had scarcely left the room, accompanied by Irene, when the baron
stepped up to Schnetz.

"Well, I must confess," he cried, "you are not a cheerful man to pick
bones with! For Heaven's sake, tell me, _mon vieux_, what devil
possesses you to talk in this reckless way to that old court mummy?"

Schnetz looked him coolly in the face, and once more began to rub his
mutilated ear.

"Do you really think she understood me?"

"Understood you? _Que diable!_ You certainly left nothing to be desired
on the score of plainness. I must say though, my good friend, now that
we are quite alone again, that, excellent as I find your plan of
bringing the two offended lovers together under cover of the freedom of
a masquerade, I really can't approve of the way in which you have gone
to work. For no matter how much my niece may be shaken in her whim by
the prospect of America, or how thankful she may be at heart for every
chance that is given her to capture her roving bird again--still, just
think how difficult you have made the matter for her, by bringing up
this question of the ball before that old woman! I ought to have been
kept out of the game too. Now, if she asks me on my conscience as uncle
and guardian----."

"On your conscience? On _which_, if I may ask? On your conscience as a
baron or as a man?"

"H'm! I should imagine that two old tent companions, such as we are,
would agree pretty well as to the matter itself. But you must admit
that much, which might seem quite innocent to me as a bachelor, could
hardly meet my approval as a guardian, in my official capacity, so to
speak. And more than this, it seems to me that there really are two
different moral standpoints for men and women, and what is right for
the one is not always proper for the other."

"There you hit it exactly!" cried Schnetz, flying into a rage, and
throwing his whip down on the table. "That is why we never come across
a single sprig of fresh verdure in our social relations! that is why we
must eternally carry about lies, narrow-hearted makeshifts, and mean
reservations, all because we adopt a double standard of weights and
measures, and regard a damned shrug of the shoulders as an excellent
preventive for all the cancers of society! Neither of the two sexes,
when they are together, dares express itself openly, neither says all
that it thinks, each thinks to fool the other with its tricks and
quibbles, while both know very well what they are about, and ought by
good rights to laugh in each other's faces over these miserable and
perfectly fruitless sham fights. And because this whole farce is so
cursedly insipid, and this high tone of high society makes the women
gape as well as the men, therefore both sides struggle all the more
eagerly to indemnify themselves for the boredom they have suffered,
each in his own way, in clubs or worse places, or under four eyes,
where one throws aside all masks and strait-lacing. Honest old Sir John
was quite right--'A plague of all cowards, say I'--And this modern
world of ours will never grow healthy again until the two sexes become
tired of this childish mummery and meet each other half-way in an
honest endeavor to give truth a trial, without prudery and without
coarseness!"

He raved on in this fashion for some time longer, without giving the
baron a chance to get in a syllable. Not until his breath had given
out, and he had seized upon his hat, did the other venture to offer a
meek reply.

"All very good and fine, my dear friend, all admitted in theory. But
_in praxi_--since the world has not yet become entirely sensible--won't
it be necessary to respect the prejudices of a stupid majority for a
while longer? Can our young lady--now that this old chatterer knows
about it--go, without any further consideration, to your paradisaical
festival, where she is sure to meet dubious daughters of Eve? where it
is possible that the girl who was running after our Felix, the little,
red-haired waiter-girl, may, God knows in what costume, stir up another
scene of murder and manslaughter?"

Schnetz had remained standing with his hand on the door. As the baron
said these words he let it go again, and stared at the excited speaker
for a while; then he laughed bitterly, and stepped back into the room
once more.

"This waiter-girl?" said he, laying his hand on the baron's shoulder.
"Well, of all the games the devil ever played! Old friend, do you know
who this waiter-girl is, who nursed this youngster Felix so faithfully,
while others looked on from a distance? This waiter-girl, this child of
the people, who would not be fitting company for a young baroness?
Well, then, she is your own daughter, baron, and first cousin of your
high-born niece!"--

The baron stepped back a step or two. "_Trève de plaisanteries, mon
cher!_" he stammered, trying to laugh. "What sort of a romance is this
you are trying to palm off on me! I--I am--ha, ha, ha! A delightful
farce!"

"I congratulate you and your good child upon the cheerful mood in which
this unhoped-for discovery finds you," remarked Schnetz, dryly. "To be
sure, the affair is by no means so tragic as it would have been, were
the mother still living. This poor deserted"--here he stepped close up
to the baron, who stood as if petrified, and pronounced her name--"this
sacrifice to our double code of morals has been dead for a year; nor
has the child any suspicion that her dear papa is leading a jolly
bachelor's life in the same city with her."

The baron sank upon the sofa; his arms hung at his sides; the only sign
of life that he gave was in his little, restless eyes, that wandered
about anxiously and unsteadily, without seeming to rest on anything. In
the mean while Schnetz strode up and down with noiseless tread,
apparently waiting to see whether his friend, who had received so
severe a shock, stood in any need of his help or his advice. Ten
minutes passed, and neither of them had uttered a word more.

"You will permit me to light a cigarette," growled Schnetz at length,
between his teeth; "the lady of the house seems to have no intention of
showing herself again--"

At this moment the door of the neighboring room opened, and Irene
entered, paler than before, and with such an agitated, sad expression
upon her young face, that Schnetz gazed upon her with a feeling of
remorse.

No sooner had the door begun to creak than her uncle sprang up, hastily
pressed his friend's hand, and whispered to him that he must speak with
him about this matter at all hazards; then he rushed out without a
glance at his ward.

The extraordinary haste with which he retreated did not seem to strike
Irene as at all strange. She advanced quickly to the window at which
Schnetz was standing, and said:

"Were you really in earnest about your invitation to the masquerade?"

He assured her that it would afford him the greatest pleasure to
accompany her; all the more because, after what had been said on the
subject, he should consider it not only as a proof of her confidence in
him, but even as a token of true friendship and esteem, if she would
not refuse to accept his invitation.

She went on to ask whether she would be allowed to come in a plain
domino and mask--talking all the time with a half-absent expression.

He replied that only masks in costume would be admitted. As she
considered four days to be too short a time for getting ready a
complete costume, he proposed to her that, since she expressed herself
as willing to be admitted to Bohemia, she should come as a gypsy. He
offered to provide her, through his artist friends, with beautiful and
genuine materials. It would be very easy for her to get plenty of
bright coral and pearl ornaments and strings of coins with which to
ornament her hair; and he would take her to some stores where such
things could be bought. This costume, he concluded, would have the
double advantage of being easily gotten up with a few feathers and
scraps, and of permitting the wearer--since masks for the face were
prohibited--to dye her skin, to blacken her eyebrows, and to make
herself as unlike herself as possible. "I, myself, always appear as a
Spaniard, as the Knight of the Rueful Countenance, or as Duke Alba. If
I could have a Gitana upon my arm, I should be quite in character, and
should create a sensation for the first time; for they are not used to
seeing me appear with a beautiful partner."

As he said this he kissed the young lady's hand, quite in the courtly
Spanish manner, and made as though he would take leave. But she still
held him tightly.

"Will--that girl come, too?" she said, hesitatingly.

"What girl, Fräulein?"

She looked steadily before her. "I heard all!" she said, with a slight
tremor in her voice. "The walls in this hotel are so thin that one
cannot help overhearing, in spite of one's self, all that is being said
in the next room. Oh, tell me candidly; is it really true?"

"Unquestionably. My dear young lady, if you were a little better
acquainted with the society which surrounds you, you would find this
case by no means an extraordinary one. Besides, the circumstances are
favorable enough this time. Her own grandfather has already taken his
long-lost granddaughter in charge; so jealously, indeed, that he would
not give her up to her father, even if the latter wished it; and the
girl herself is good and respectable. She is--"

"I know her," interrupted Irene, blushing. "And yet--it would agitate
me greatly if I should chance to meet her at the ball. There are all
sorts of--I will tell you some other time, if you feel interested."

She suddenly broke off, and he saw that she was struggling with her
tears.

"You may make your mind easy, my dear Fräulein," said he, taking up his
hat and whip. "The poor child will not be present. She is in such a
strange mood since she went to live with her grandfather, and so
carefully avoids meeting any one who knew her under former
circumstances, that all the power in the world could not induce her to
visit our Paradise. But seriously, now--_á Dios_, as we Spaniards say.
Be of good courage; I believe everything will turn out better than we
dream of now."

He gave the hand of the speechless girl a hearty pressure, and left her
alone with her aching heart, which found that it could do nothing wiser
than relieve itself by a flood of tears.



                              CHAPTER III.


It so happened that, in another room of the same house, and at almost
exactly the same hour, the pleasures of the masquerade in Paradise
formed the subject of conversation.

For some weeks past Rosenbusch had intended to make inquiries
concerning the health of his Russian patroness, who, as he knew, was
confined to her room by a slight injury to her foot. He felt it
incumbent on him to show himself a young man who respected the laws of
politeness and society, although he was a disciple of the liberal arts.

He found the countess in her bedroom, which smelled of Russian leather
and cigarettes. A samovar and an empty champagne bottle stood on the
table by the bed, and all kinds of note-books, portfolios, French
books, and photographs lay about upon the chairs. Nelida reclined upon
the bed, robed in a long silk dressing-gown, with a black point-lace
veil thrown nun-fashion over her dark hair. She looked paler than in
the summer, and, as she extended her white hand to the painter with a
gracious smile, he was forced to admit to himself that she perfectly
understood the art of making as much capital as possible out of her
suffering condition, and of appearing still more interesting in her
enforced quiet than in her usual activity.

She was not alone. The retired singer, who appeared to be regularly
installed as her companion, and who was at the moment engaged in the
back part of the room in poking the fire in the grate, had been sitting
in the chair which was now offered to Rosenbusch.

Opposite the bed, in a low arm-chair, sat a younger lady, whom
Rosenbusch had not seen before, and who immediately attracted his
artistic eye. Was she a married woman or a girl? The countess did not
mention her name. But, although the soft fullness of her figure seemed
rather to indicate the mature woman, the features of the charming face
and the glance of the dark-blue eyes had a soft and dreamy expression
that was altogether maidenly. Then, too, she looked very girlish when,
chancing to look up suddenly from the embroidery on which she was
engaged, she gazed with innocent wonder straight into the face of the
speaker, then opened her lips in a laugh which displayed two rows of
the most beautiful little teeth, and the next instant bent down her
head again as if in confusion, until her thick brown hair fell low over
her forehead.

Rosenbusch, who was smitten at once, would very gladly have drawn a
little nearer to this enchanting stranger. But the countess took
complete possession of him, making him give her a circumstantial
account of his doings and actions, and expressing an unusual interest
in the "Battle of Lützen," which was now finished. As she was a perfect
mistress of the art of making every one believe that his particular
plans and aims were of more importance to her than anything else,
Rosenbusch did not remark, in the joy of his heart, that, in spite of
her interest in him, she yawned several times, but went on talking
about anything that came into his head--about his labors, his ideas of
art, his friends, and finally about the masked ball in Paradise. He
related, among other things, that Jansen would appear in a genuine
Venetian costume, and his betrothed in a corresponding one, which was
to be exactly copied from a portrait by Paris Bordone, in red velvet
with a little gold embroidery, and which would go marvelously well with
her pale complexion and the dull-gold color of her hair.

While he was giving this description the beautiful stranger let her
embroidery fall in her lap, and fixed her eyes upon the speaker with
the curious expression of a child listening to a fairy tale.

"Such a costume would be exceedingly becoming to you also, madame,"
stammered the painter, who now for the first time addressed a direct
remark to the unknown person.

She laughed absently, sighed, but said nothing.

Nelida exchanged a quick glance with her, and then asked, as if to give
the conversation another turn, what costume Rosenbusch had chosen for
himself. The truth was, he candidly replied, his means did not permit
him to make any very great display; he should put himself into a
Capuchin's cowl, which would go exceedingly well with his beard, and,
since he was always expected on such occasions to deliver some poetical
effusion, he hoped this time to get out of the affair with a regular
Capuchin sermon.

"No doubt you will compose a very talented and witty one," said the
countess. "But wouldn't this costume be exceedingly warm and
uncomfortable if worn long; and will it be easy for you to find a dress
for your partner that will match yours?"

"My dear countess," sighed Rosenbusch, "I am unfortunately in a
position to bear the vow of celibacy much more easily than most of the
brothers of my order. The only partner in whom I could take any
interest--But I won't bore the ladies with my private affairs."

"No, no, don't say that, my dear Herr Rosenbusch. Confess everything
boldly. You will find the most sympathetic appreciation here."

"Well, then, I will tell you. I had engaged a young girl for this ball,
who, I am convinced, would unquestionably have borne off the prize from
all but the beautiful Julie. But her parents--bigoted, narrow-minded
shopkeepers--cannot be persuaded to allow the poor thing this innocent
pleasure. So you will readily understand, ladies, that I would rather
throw myself into the arms of celibacy than take up with the first one
who comes along."

He grew red, and wiped his forehead with his gloved right hand.

Nelida again exchanged a look with the stranger. The singer, too, now
that she felt relieved from the fear of being recognized by Rosenbusch,
had stepped up to the foot of the bed, and seemed to follow the
conversation with especial interest.

"Perhaps," said the countess, smiling--"perhaps I may be able to
provide you with a substitute, who will in some degree make good your
loss. A moment before you came in we were saying how cruel it was of
Fate to keep me here in my room at the very time of the carnival! It is
true my dancing days are past. But my dear friend here, Madame--Madame
von St.-Aubain, a good German, by-the-way, in spite of her name-- Only
think, my principal object in inviting her to see me at this time was
in order that I might show her our Munich carnival, and now she is
forced to sit here at the side of my bed and practise the Christian
virtues of patience and charity! To be sure, if she could only find a
knight to whom I dared trust her with a good conscience--"

"O countess!" interrupted Rosenbusch, springing up enthusiastically,
"are you really in earnest? Madame would not scorn to--"

"You are very good, sir," lisped the stranger, in a soft, pleasing
voice, which completed the conquest of our friend's heart. "It is true
that it is my greatest wish to catch a stolen glimpse of the life that
goes on in this artists' world, about whose festivals I have heard so
much. But I am too timid to venture into a perfectly strange circle,
even under the most chivalrous protection, when, as you say, masks for
the face are prohibited."

"I understand you perfectly, madame!" cried Rosenbusch,
enthusiastically. "It is the custom to attribute such wild things to us
artists that a lady belonging to high society might well be terrified
by them. But you shall see yourself that we are better than our
reputation. Allow me to make a proposal. I will provide you with a
monk's dress similar to my own. In order to remain unrecognized you
have only to pull the cowl over your head; and if, in addition to this,
you should fasten on some white eyebrows and a beard of the same color,
you could observe all that was going on as securely as if you were
behind a curtain or in a dark theatre-box, without anyone having a
suspicion how much grace and beauty--excuse these bold compliments--is
hidden behind this plain disguise. The only possible suspicion that
could arise would be that I led on my arm that young girl--that
obedient daughter of cruel parents, who had secretly managed to escape
from her cage."

The stranger stood up, approached the bed, and, bending over the
countess, exchanged a few low words with her. In motion she appeared
even more attractive than in repose. Rosenbusch, who was completely
carried away, could not take his eye from this beautiful yet delicate
figure, and awaited with beating heart the result of the secret
consultation.

At last she turned to him again, fixed her soft eyes on his face, as if
she wanted to convince herself once more that she might put confidence
in him, and then said:

"I will really venture to do it, sir, but only under two conditions:
that you will not betray to any of your friends, even by a syllable,
that the mask at your side is a stranger, and not the person for whom
they will all take her; and that, further, you will take me out of the
company and see me to my carriage as soon as I ask you to. You need not
fear," she continued, slyly smiling, "that I will trouble you long. But
I really can't resist the desire to see so many celebrated artists
together, to admire their costumes and the beautiful women they will
bring with them. The best way will be for you to go without me, and
when the festivities are well under way--say about eleven o'clock--I
will be in the carriage at the garden-gate, where you will be so good
as to meet me. Do you agree to this, and will you give me your word
that you will strictly adhere to these conditions?"

Rosenbusch, before whose fancy very different visions of splendor were
floating, and who was secretly convinced that he would succeed in
persuading the beautiful stranger to lay aside her disguise and shine
with him in Paradise the moment the festive spirit of the ball seized
upon her, very wisely refrained from making any objections to this
plan, and solemnly promised everything that was asked of him. He agreed
to bring the costume and all the other requisites to the hotel on the
day before the festival, for the countess insisted upon dressing her
friend in the monk's cowl with her own hands; and then he took leave in
no slight state of excitement over his unexpected good fortune.

On the stairs he suddenly recollected Stephanopulos, and his relation
to the Russian lady. For a moment it struck him as rather strange that
the countess, since she seemed so anxious to introduce her friend to
Paradise, had not made use of this cavalier, inasmuch as she personally
could not avail herself of his escort.

"Perhaps," thought he, complacently stroking his beard, "she is jealous
in regard to this young sinner and Don Juan, and doesn't care about
trusting this charming woman to his charge. It is possible also that
the lady herself may have expressed an aversion for this Greek
adventurer. At all events, I seem to be more agreeable to her. A
confoundedly charming little woman! I wonder where her husband keeps
himself? or possibly she is a widow. If that were the case--"

He did not finish the sentence, even in his thoughts, for some one came
down the steps behind him, and he immediately recognized the old baron
whom he had seen out at Rossel's villa. But what had happened to the
merry old gentleman that made him answer the artist's greeting so
mechanically, and pass him, as he stood waiting on the stairs, with a
wild look, as if he had been an utter stranger?

Rosenbusch followed him, shaking his head. "What devilish short
memories these aristocrats have!" he growled. "If this Madame von
St.-Aubain is made of the same stuff, I confess I should have a jollier
time with Nanny. However, it can't be helped; that is one of the
disadvantages of moving in the highest circles. In Rome one must do as
the Romans do."

He threw his cloak in picturesque folds about his historical velvet
jacket, and stepped forth into the snow with the joyful mien of a
conqueror. His only sorrow was that he couldn't go at once to Angelica
and tell her what a brilliant conquest he had made.



                              CHAPTER IV.


Among all the friends, Felix was the only one who looked forward to the
ball not only without impatience, but even with a secret aversion. He
was in no mood for masquerading; and, if he had not been afraid of
giving offense to the good companions who were desirous of paying him
this last honor, he would have been up and away long before this. He
gave out that it was his fixed intention to leave on the day after the
ball, and answered all objection in regard to the season, which made a
sea-voyage impossible, by saying that he had important business matters
to look after in his native place, the sale of his estates, and the
making out of certain papers that it would be necessary for him to take
with him across the ocean.

Jansen alone knew the real reason of his hasty flight. Daily
intercourse with his old friend, and the confidential understanding
that had once more sprung up between them, was all that lightened for
Felix the painful burden of these last days. It is true Jansen had
never been able to bring himself to initiate Felix into the history of
his unhappy marriage as thoroughly as he had Julie. That he had once
thrown himself away on an unworthy woman, and that he was now doing all
in his power to effect a dissolution of the hated bond, but without
success, since he had no legal proofs of her guilt, and she herself
obstinately refused to give the child up to him--all this they had
discussed one night over a bottle of wine, and had finally consoled
themselves with the thought that the land across the ocean might
eventually prove a place of refuge for Jansen also. Felix laughingly
suggested that they should undertake a mission, and preach the gospel
of high art to the redskins; and they had discussed the prospect of
winning over some American Cr[oe]sus, and, by some colossal work,
suddenly attracting the eyes of the whole world upon them.

Then they might found an art society in the backwoods, on a somewhat
different scale from that to which people were accustomed in Germany,
and each member should receive as an initiation present a cast of the
group of Adam and Eve.

So they went on building castles in the air in the midst of the dark
clouds that overhung their sky; and even Julie joined gladly in this
cheerful tone, though her own heart was very heavy.

But, as the day of parting drew nearer and nearer, Felix's mood became
steadily more depressed and wretched. Schnetz was almost the only one
of his friends whom he cared to see; and he expended all his eloquence
in trying to persuade him to follow his example and shake the dust of
the Old World from his feet. Why should he lie here and grow rusty? why
should he, in his best years, voluntarily withdraw himself from life
and play the valetudinarian before his time? On the other side of the
water, abilities like his would not be allowed to lie idle, his good
wife would renew her youth again, and he might safely trust to the
Yankees to provide him with plenty of material for the exercise of his
Thersites-like black art during his leisure moments. To all this
Schnetz replied by silently and thoughtfully rubbing his ear, without,
however, giving any reason to believe that he absolutely declined the
proposal. Indeed, he seemed to be bent upon keeping the lonely and
dejected youngster in as good spirits as possible, and was especially
active in trying to laugh away Felix's distaste for the ball, as an
attack of sentimentality that a future American ought not to yield to.
If it was a bother for him to look after a costume, he would be very
glad to lend him a helping hand.

Felix thanked him for his good-will. He had, among the various relics
of his travels, the complete suit of a Spanish majo, which he had
brought with him from Mexico. The velvet jacket bordered with silver,
the knee-breeches and the gay silk stockings, the red net for the hair,
and whatever else belonged to the complete equipment of a Spanish
dandy, became him excellently; and though in his present mood he had no
thoughts of attempting any conquests, he was, nevertheless, glad that
he would be able to show himself to his artist friends in a genuine
national costume, and not in any patched-up frippery.

But, when the night of the ball arrived, it was long before he could
make up his mind to put on this gay dress. He had packed his luggage,
paid his landlady, and made all his preparations for departure. When at
last he stood alone before his glass in his empty room, surrounded only
by his trunks, and proceeded to fasten the net in his hair, he could
not help bursting out into a loud laugh, in spite of his melancholy
mood, at the absurdity of his dancing a fandango on the eve of
launching himself into the uncertain future of a life beyond the sea.
The sound of his voice roused old Homo, who never left him now, from
his usual half-slumberous state. The sober animal started, for a
moment, with an almost disapproving air at the internal and external
transformation that had come over Felix; then he rose slowly from his
place near the stove, walked up to his master, and rubbed his broad
nose against his hand.

"So even you are amazed, old boy," cried Felix, caressing his faithful
companion, "at my merry spirits? Come, you shall experience a still
greater miracle. I will take you with me; you are the only one of your
race on whom the gates of Paradise are not shut."

He took up a little black wood guitar, which properly belonged to his
costume, and fastened it with red ribbons on the shaggy back of the
dog, who patiently submitted to the process. Then he called his
landlady, cautioned her not to let him sleep too late the next morning,
as he must take the first train, ordered a carriage, and rolled away,
through the mild winter's night, to the English Garden, over the soft
snow that had already begun to thaw in the warm wind.

He had to pass by Irene's hotel, and he looked up at her dark windows,
and felt surprised that this parting look brought no tears to his eyes.
Indeed he felt as if he were one who had bidden farewell to life; and
only he who lives can sympathize. The dog slept patiently at his feet.
When the carriage jolted over a stone, the strings of the guitar
sounded, and the sleeping animal growled wonderingly in his dreams.

It was on the stroke of nine when the carriage drew up before the back
entrance to the little garden of Paradise. The dance was to begin at
seven, but it mattered little to Felix how much of it he missed. Not
until he found himself in the vestibule was he able, by a powerful
exertion, to shake off the depression of his spirits and steel himself
to appear cheerful. He was aided in this resolve by the sound of the
music that issued from the dancing-hall, and more especially by the
aspect of Fridolin, the janitor, who, arrayed in the most ridiculous of
costumes, played the part of warder, and permitted no one to enter who
could not prove to his satisfaction that he was one of the invited
guests. He was posted here in the character of the angel with the
flaming sword, in a white, ruffled robe--with a golden girdle, two
immense wings suspended from his back, a rose behind each ear, and a
flaming wooden sword covered with gold-leaf in his hand. In this
costume he sat behind a little table, on which stood an earthenware
beer-mug, and greeted the late guest with a sly and hearty nod of his
elegantly-dressed head, at the same time showing his long white teeth
and bestowing a self-satisfied look upon his costume. Felix stood at
his side convulsed with laughter and full of admiration at the success
of the disguise.

Herr Rosenbusch had provided him with this beautiful dress, remarked
the old fellow, evidently much flattered at the notice taken of him.
But how handsomely the Herr Baron was dressed, and how glad he was that
he had brought Homo with him! It was right that such an animal should
know what carnival-time was like. This time it was unusually merry
inside there. Each member had been allowed to invite a friend, and he
in his turn to bring a lady; there were fifty or sixty present, to put
it at the lowest figure. But he enjoyed himself best outside here, for
the beer kept cooler, and he could take a look in from time to time,
especially now when it was probable no one else would come, except a
lady whom Herr Rosenbusch was still expecting.

Felix completed the paradisiacal mood of the good old man by forcing a
very considerable present into his hand as a parting gift, for he was
not going to visit the studio again. Then he escaped as quickly as
possible from his thanks, and entered the large central hall of
"Paradise," where the dancing was going on, the regular meeting-room
having been transformed on this occasion into a supper-room.

It took him some time before he could separate the different groups and
distinguish his friends, in the general whirl and confusion. Looking
over the heads of the dancers, he saw half a dozen strange creatures
mounted on a raised platform--gigantic tree-toads, a brown salamander,
and a bat, who, playing upon two or three fiddles, a clarionet, a horn,
and a bass-viol, composed the orchestra. Some of these amphibious
beings, overpowered by the heat, had taken off their heads and fastened
them on their backs, thus presenting a still more fantastic appearance
by the contrast between their bearded, flushed, and very prosaic human
faces and their reptile skins. This feature of the ball was also the
work of the battle-painter, who, having little trouble in arranging his
own costume, had been indefatigable in helping the others by deed and
word. He now approached Felix, skillfully winding his way through the
dancing couples, drew forth a snuff-box and a blue-checked handkerchief
from his brown cowl, and murmured several Latin sentences of welcome
and blessing; and not until he had played his _rôle_ for some time
longer did he gravely shake hands with his laughing friend, and
reproach him for coming too late.

Felix had no time to excuse himself, for a tall Englishman, who
was just dancing by with a blonde-haired Suabian girl, stopped
suddenly, led his partner out of the dance, and advanced upon our
friend--Elfinger, with Angelica. Then followed another welcome, another
examination of the costumes, and much laughter and admiration.
Angelica, in her pretty national costume, and standing by the side of
the ridiculous caricature that Elfinger carried out with unswerving
dignity, appeared to very great advantage, especially now when the
excitement of dancing caused her eyes to sparkle and her cheeks to
glow. Rosenbusch told them how much trouble he had had in persuading
her to wear this dress, for she had obstinately persisted in coming as
a Dachau peasant-girl, and making a scarecrow of her figure. She was
guilty, unfortunately, of the weakness of not wishing to be conceited,
which all women ought to be, according to the wise decree of
Providence; and to stand aloof in this way from an hereditary sin was
really one of the worst sorts of coquetry, and should be consigned to
eternal punishment by holy men like himself.

To this the good soul replied in a tone of mock anger, defended herself
bravely against his ecclesiastical arrogance, and refused to listen to
the sermons of any other sect but her own. She gave Felix a most hearty
welcome, but with a certain sly smile, as if she knew of some
particular masquerade joke that was in preparation for him; and then
took him by the hand and led him to Jansen and Julie, who were the
handsomest couple at the ball--"so far, at all events," she added, with
the same mysterious expression as before.

In order to reach the two, they were obliged to work their way through
the whole length of the hall, and were often delayed by the whirl of
the dancers. So Felix had plenty of time to examine the company. He
recognized but few of them in their costumes. A stout Arab, with a dark
face and wearing a white burnoose, approached him, bowed low with his
hands on his breast, and then withdrew after this dumb greeting to take
possession of a chair at the lower end of the hall. It was only when he
saw the way in which he comfortably settled himself in it that Felix
recognized him. But just as he was on the point of going after Rossel,
a young Greek, gorgeously dressed in full armor, attracted his
attention. He and his partner, a beautiful girl, were dancing madly in
and out among the waltzing couples, yet without creating the slightest
confusion.

"Stephanopulos!" whispered Felix. "Do you know his partner?" Angelica
shrugged her shoulders, and apparently preferred to leave the question
unanswered. There was no lack of pretty girls, and, although they
belonged to the most different social ranks, they all bore themselves
with the like respectability, and, with all their freedom, with natural
good taste. The young architect stepped up to say good-evening to him.
He wore a becoming Flemish costume, and his companion, who was not
exactly pretty, but looked sensible and modest, was dressed as a
mediæval burgher's daughter, with a large coif and ruffles about the
neck. Then the couple danced a graceful provincial dance to the
_Ländler_ that the band was playing, waltzing round and round in the
same spot, or separating in fantastic figures to approach each other
again and take each other by the finger-tips.

Kohle also danced, but entirely by himself, in an exceedingly comical
costume, for he represented St. Dionysius, who was accustomed to carry
his decapitated head under his arm. For this purpose he had rigged up
an immense cabbage-head, had painted it and hung it round with long
horse-hairs, while his own head was ingeniously encircled by a huge
aureole, from which there hung a golden fringe covering his face, so
that, from a distance, this yellow, dazzling disk seemed to rest
immediately on the neck. This figure, half ghastly, half droll, slowly
swung itself about among the whirling couples, to the sound of the
music, occasionally going through with a little extemporaneous
buffoonery, especially with the Capuchin, who evinced a deep respect
for the holy man, which he expressed by incessantly offering him his
snuffbox, and by mating frantic efforts to kiss the head of the martyr.

"Where is Schnetz?" asked Felix. Angelica appeared not to have heard
the question; for just at this moment they arrived at the side of the
hall where the windows were, and where several spectators were sitting,
among them Jansen and his betrothed. "Isn't she adorable?" whispered
Angelica, as she led her companion close up to the couple, who welcomed
him with a joyful exclamation. Indeed, it would have been impossible to
see anything more magnificent than this beautiful blonde girl, dressed
in the rich folds of a dark-red velvet dress, with puffed and slashed
sleeves, her beautiful neck bare, and wearing no other ornament than a
delicate Venetian chain; her blonde hair, slightly curled, flowing
freely over her shoulders, and set off by a few dark flowers. It seemed
to Felix, also, that he had never seen her in her real beauty before
to-day, and the sweetness of her expression completed the charm. Jansen
stood at her side in his dark suit, not less full of dignity and
character, but looking only like a courtier standing by the side of his
princess. They had neither of them danced, for he did not care for it,
and she did not like to fly through the hall with any one else. They at
once offered him a seat by their side, for Elfinger had once more taken
possession of his Suabian maid, and began a pleasant conversation, in
the course of which he could not help noticing that Julie now and then
threw in some playful allusion and smiled slyly, while they were
talking about the most ordinary things, just as Angelica had done
before. He dropped a word or two about his approaching departure, which
they did not seem to hear at all.

"Have you seen the lieutenant yet?" asked Julie, suddenly. "You ought
to look him up, he has been wandering about the whole room in search of
you. If I remember rightly he just went into the next room, possibly to
console himself with a glass of wine for his ill success in finding
you."

She smiled and laid one of her beautiful hands in that of her
betrothed, while with the other she played with her black fan.

Felix rose. A restless curiosity seized upon him.

"Sha'n't we go into that sanctum, too?" he said. "We might sit down
together at one of the little tables, and have some supper."

"Perhaps you will find better company," she replied, turning away from
him. "We are a couple of tiresome old lovers, and you are a young
Spanish lion who has not yet found his lioness. Go alone; we will
follow quite soon enough."

She nodded to him pleasantly, again with a peculiar expression. He left
them, shaking his head, and wound his way through the maze of dancers,
to the real hall of Paradise.



                               CHAPTER V.


He was just crossing the threshold when a well-known voice struck his
ear, proceeding from the corner where the little wine cask lay, covered
up by green oleander bushes. "_Buenas tardes, Señor Don Felix!_ You
come rather late, but not too late to prevent you from dancing yourself
tired. I have the honor to introduce you to one of my countrywomen, a
genuine Gitana. Senorita ----."

But Felix had long ceased to hear what he said. Before him
stood--Irene.

She looked marvelously charming as she stood there, her picturesque
shawls and draperies thrown loosely about her, her hair ornamented with
a heavy string of corals and gold coins, large silver rings in her
ears, and her eyebrows slightly darkened and joined together over her
proud little nose by a delicate line! And how her cheeks glowed at this
sudden meeting with him whom, after all, she had expected, and for
whose sake she had thus adorned herself; how she cast down her
eyes--and breathed hard--and tried to smile, and yet had enough to do
to keep back the tears that were welling up behind her eyelashes!

For a minute or two Schnetz stood gazing with delight at this most
charming of all pantomimes. Then he came to the assistance of the
embarrassed couple.

"You are not altogether unacquainted with each other," said he, in his
driest manner. "Senorita Gitana has to thank this noble Andalusian for
saving her life from the tempestuous waves of the lake of Starnberg. He
will now steer her quite as safely through the dangers of a waltz,
better, most certainly, than your humble servant, whose strut might
possibly strike her as rather too Spanish. So at it, youngster! pluck
up courage and lead the Gitanilla to the dance. After that she will
show you how to read your future from your hand."

Felix recovered himself by a violent effort. "Shall we dance?"
stammered he, in a scarcely audible voice, as he stepped up to Irene.

She nodded assent, and the glow on her face burned hotter, but she
spoke not a word, and did not even raise her eyes. She seemed to him so
utterly transformed that, even now, when he felt her hand resting on
his arm, and saw her gliding along at his side, he was almost inclined
to doubt again whether it could really be she. He had never seen her so
yielding, so tremblingly timid, so incapable of uttering a word; and
now when he held her close and swung her in the dance, he felt more
than once as if he were whirling about in one of those strangely happy
dreams that change, in some curious way, the most familiar features,
and lead us only into the arms of the unattainable.

Yet, all the while he felt so wonderfully happy that he was content to
leave everything just as it was, and strove only to clasp this miracle
as closely as possible to his breast, and to enjoy the full blessedness
of this meeting as long as the dream would last. Nor did she try to
resist; indeed, she herself felt as if it were a necessity for her
to press her head and glowing face close to his shoulder, and, with
half-closed eyes, to submit herself absolutely to his guidance. He
could not see her face, for she held her head bent down; but his eyes
rested on her soft, brown hair, and his arm, clasped about her waist,
could feel how her heart was beating. No word came from the lips of
either of these two happy beings; they did not even press one another's
hands in silent sympathy, for the simple reason that both felt that
there was nothing special for them to communicate--two souls had merely
become one again. Nor did they take heed of those about them, who gazed
with earnest interest upon this noble couple the moment they entered
the room--the strangers with simple pleasure, or perhaps here and there
with envy, the initiated with heart-felt joy at the triumphant success
of their work.

For them there was no outside world at this moment, no friends or
strangers. Besides the beating of their own hearts they felt nothing
but the music; and it seemed to them a heavenly kindness on the part of
fortune, that allowed them to dance instead of forcing them to talk
with one another; that the wild and merry tones of the instruments gave
them wings that lifted them above the earth, the one clasped as tightly
to the other as only the dance could have made permissible before so
many witnesses.

Neither of them felt the slightest fatigue, or thought of stopping to
rest. Indeed, when the music finally came to an end, it seemed to them
as if they had just begun; and they stood in the middle of the hall,
startled, and almost painfully still, clasped in one another's embrace
as they had been in the waltz. His arm reluctantly released her figure,
but he could not bring himself to give up her little slender hand.
However, this did not appear to attract any attention, since the other
couples also were very tender with one another, and had quite enough to
do in looking after their own affairs.

None of their intimate friends crossed their path. So the _majo_
succeeded in leading his gypsy unchallenged into the adjoining room,
from which even Schnetz had taken care to steal away.

They walked arm-in-arm, vigorously fanning themselves, down the
flower-decked side of the hall, past the little tables, and stood
suddenly, before they suspected it, before the buffet, which had been
put up at the other end, and before which a number of waiter-girls were
selling cold viands, cake, ice, and various kinds of drinks.

"Will you drink something?" he said.

It was the first word he had addressed to her. It struck him as being
very stupid that he had nothing more important to say to her after such
a long silence. But she did not appear to think it strange at all.

She shook her head quite seriously, drew off her glove, and took a
large orange from one of the plates. "That is better after dancing,"
she said, in a low voice. "Come, let us eat it together."

They seated themselves at one of the small tables, and she drew off the
other glove and began to peel and divide the beautiful fruit with her
white little fingers. But all the while she never looked at him.

"Irene!" he whispered--"is it really possible? You are here--I--we are
so unexpectedly brought together again."

"Not unexpectedly," replied she, in a still lower tone; "I knew that
you would come--and that is the only reason why I came myself. Do you
believe I cared anything for the dancing and the masks? Feeling as I
did--"

Her voice failed her. The tears rose to her eyes. He bent down close to
her, and pressed his lips to the little hands that were so busily at
work.

She gave a slight start. "Oh! don't, please!" she whispered,
pleadingly. "Not here, they can see us. O Felix! is it really true? You
are going away--away forever?"

He did not answer for a moment, but sat absorbed in the happiness of
being so near her, of listening to her voice, of feeling her warm
breath as it came from her sweet lips. A reckless joy took possession
of his heart, an exhilarating determination to face boldly whatever
fate might have in store for him.

"Why talk of such sad things?" said he at length--for she still kept
her anxious gaze fixed upon him, and seemed unable to understand the
joy that lit up his face--"there will be time enough for that later on,
when the ball is over and the intoxication gone, and the harsh daylight
shines once more upon our lives. This is my first happy evening for
many months; I thank you for giving it to me. I always knew that you
loved me, and if I were only a different man from what I unfortunately
am--"

"O Felix!" she pleaded, looking him full in the face. "You grieve me;
it is not kind of you to shame me so, for I suffered so much before I
could bring myself to admit my fault and see myself as you must have
seen me for a long time past. O Felix! that you could love me in spite
of all--that you could grieve for me--but wait! I have a thousand
things to tell you--I must tell you them to-night--at once--but not
here among all these merry people--and look there, I see some of your
friends coming--only tell me how and where--"

He had no time to answer, for at this moment Jansen approached, with
Julie hanging on his arm, both with faces that made no attempt to
conceal the part that they had taken in bringing about this great
happiness. They refrained, however, from making any remarks that might
embarrass the young couple, and simply invited them to be their
_vis-à-vis_ in a quadrille that was just going to begin. A pressure of
the hand from Jansen was all that passed between the two friends in
regard to the event. But Jansen and Julie helped to eat the oranges
that were divided into sections and passed about by Irene; then,
separating into couples again, they entered the hall, where the other
couples had already taken their places.

However, they were by no means sorry to be left alone, and they got up
a quadrille of their own in one of the corners near the windows, with
Schnetz and Angelica and the Capuchin and the headless martyr for side
couples.

And indeed these eight figures were well calculated to afford an
inexhaustible fund of amusement for one another, and the novelty of the
contrast between the two beautiful and the two grotesque couples
attracted around them all those outsiders who, for one reason or
another, had not taken part in the dance. Nothing could have been finer
or more pleasing than when this blonde, blooming Venetian figure,
in the fullness of its ripe beauty, advanced to meet this slim,
foreign-looking, dazzling gypsy, and the hands of the two charming
creatures met, and their eyes beamed upon one another. On the other
hand, it was one of the funniest and most picturesque sights imaginable
when gaunt Alba bore down with his stiff, spidery walk upon the holy
martyr, while the Capuchin paid homage to the Suabian maiden in all
kinds of cringing and fawning attitudes. The latter seemed to be the
happiest one in the whole company at the success of the plan,
concerning which Schnetz had given her a hint some time before. She was
perpetually making mistakes in the different figures of the quadrille,
for she was always studying either the Spanish or the Venetian girl,
and was, moreover, obliged to communicate to her partner her
observations in regard to their particular fine points. She afterward
found a still more attentive listener in Rossel, who had seated himself
near by in the character of a spectator, holding Homo between his
knees, and now and then sweeping with a careless hand the strings of
the guitar that the faithful old animal still bore upon his back.

When the dance ended, Julie, whose heart was glowing with gladness and
love, could not refrain from taking Irene to her arms and imprinting on
her lips the congratulation she did not dare to put in words. Irene
understood her, and blushed; but she returned the embrace with hearty
good-will, and nodded also to Angelica as if she were an old friend.
Then she took Felix's arm, and allowed him to escort her to the
supper-room.

"Shall we take a seat at the little table again?" she asked.

He shook his head.

"I must be still more alone with you," he said. "Only be brave and
follow me. The air here begins to be oppressive."

"Where are you going to?"

"Outside. Not a breath of wind is stirring, and it is the most
beautiful spring-like weather. And you are not heated at all! I will
wrap you up in my cloak. Take my word for it, we will not even catch a
cold in the head."

"Go out into the dark garden?" She involuntarily slackened her step.
"What will they think of us?"

"That we love one another, my darling, and want to be alone. Besides,
it will occur to very few of these good people to miss us, or to make
any remarks about the subject. And since you have once ventured into
this bad society, and no one knows what may happen to-morrow, and
whether there will still be time then--"

"You are right," she interrupted hastily. "It was merely the last sign
of the stupid old habit. Come; I think myself I should not be alive
to-morrow if the night passed without my having told you everything."

He drew her close to his side, and they left the hall together. The
angel with the flaming sword had fallen asleep over his mug of beer;
but as Felix had been the last to arrive, he easily found his hat and
cloak in the dressing-room without Fridolin's assistance. He carefully
wrapped a large woolen shawl, which he recognized as belonging to
Angelica, about the head and shoulders of his sweetheart, and then
threw his own cloak over the whole, so that she would have been well
protected even for a colder night.

"But don't cover up your face entirely; I must have a chance to find
your lips!" he whispered, and immediately kissed her as if to put her
to the test. But she held him tight, and with a passionate submission,
of which he had hardly believed her capable, returned his kiss and held
up her glowing face to his, submitting to his stormy caresses in happy
confusion, and returning them anew.

Not until she was startled by a noise did she ask him in a pleading
voice to desist. Then he put his arm about her and went out with her
into the mild winter's night, covered peacefully in its snowy mantle.
No star looked down from heaven, but it seemed to these two happy
beings, wandering all alone among the trees, as if the world about them
were in flames, and they were walking through it unscathed, for in
their hearts there raged a hotter fire.



                              CHAPTER VI.


In the mean time the ball went on, notwithstanding the absence of this
happy couple, and no one seemed to miss anything. But the later it grew
the more impatiently did the eyes of the red-bearded Capuchin wander
toward the door through which he was expecting the angel of Paradise to
enter and announce that a guest in a cowl was standing outside the door
and waiting for admission. He racked his brains in the vain effort to
imagine what could possibly have detained his lady, who, only a short
time before, had expressed such a strong desire to be present at the
masquerade; and when it struck eleven, and nothing had appeared, he
secretly gave up the affair as lost. As he had made up his mind that
the mysterious stranger would in the end reveal herself in all her
beauty, and afford him an opportunity to celebrate a great triumph, he
naturally felt very much put out at finding that he had been playing a
fool's part, and he slunk about as embarrassed and wretched as a wet
sparrow.

But his distress proved useless, after all. The intermission that
preceded the cotillon had begun, and every one had streamed into the
supper-room to eat and drink, when Fridolin, entering the hall with his
flaming sword under his arm, nodded to him mysteriously, and whispered
that there was some one outside who wished to speak with him. The monk
rushed into the hall with most unclerical haste, and was not
disappointed. She whom he expected stood before him.

She acknowledged his welcome, but in such a formal tone that he found a
good deal of difficulty in stammering out some gallant reproaches for
her late arrival. Her chief anxiety seemed to be that her disguise was
not sufficient to prevent her from being recognized. When he had
somewhat relieved her fears on this score and had, as an additional
precaution, arranged her white eyebrows and beard so that they should
cover a little more of the delicate face, she asked why no music could
be heard from the hall. He explained to her the reason of the pause,
and wanted to escort her in without further ceremony. But she insisted
upon waiting until the dance should begin again, and begged him to
leave her and rejoin the company until that time.

His chivalrous heart would not consent to this, so he staid outside
with the beautiful unknown, who had taken possession of the chair at
Fridolin's table, and who answered in monosyllables to his neat
speeches and appeared to be in a strange state of excitement, and
entirely absorbed in her own thoughts.

At length, the first sound of the fiddle inside gave the signal for his
release; but not until the trembling of the floor made it apparent that
the couples had once more begun the dance, did the muffled figure rise
and seize the arm of her companion. Rosenbusch felt that she trembled
slightly; he could not imagine what should make her, but he was already
too much abashed by her reserve to rally her upon her strange timidity.

The fact that the friar had suddenly associated himself with a
colleague did not at first make the sensation he had expected. Then,
when the attention of one person after another was drawn to the pair of
monks, there was no doubt in the mind of any one as to the identity of
the smaller friar, who betrayed the woman both in manner and carriage.
The love affair of the battle-painter was too well known not to make
every one suspect that the thick white beard, and the bushy eyebrows,
concealed the features of the fair Nanny. The fact of her coming so
late confirmed this supposition. She had been obliged to wait until her
parents were asleep, so that she might steal to the ball undetected.
They all wished her hearty joy of her stolen pleasure, and were only
surprised--since no one doubted her fondness for dancing--that she did
not at once join her companion in a waltz, instead of drawing her cowl
still lower over her eyes and walking slowly past the different groups,
examining the costumes with a searching glance.

In this fashion the couple had already passed down the whole length of
the hall, when this puzzling woman suddenly stood still and dropped her
companion's arm. Her movement was so violent that Rosenbusch gazed at
her in amazement. He saw that her eyes were fixed intently upon the
seats near the window, where Jansen and Julie, and some of the others
who did not care to dance, had again taken their places. But the dance
had just come to an end, and those who had been seated had risen in
order to mingle with the crowd. The blue eyes under the white eyebrows
followed them eagerly, and seemed to take no notice of anything else
that passed around them. So much so, at all events, that the efforts of
the tall Englishman, who wished the decapitated martyr to introduce him
to the new monk, might just as well have been addressed to a statue.

"What is the matter, madame?" whispered Rosenbusch. "You have grown
very pale; I can see that notwithstanding your cowl. I will lead you to
the chairs--you must rest a moment. That noble Venetian over there is
my friend Jansen, a splendid sculptor, and the beautiful woman on his
arm--"

But she was not listening. Without taking his arm again, she had
stepped forward to the empty seat and sunk into a chair.

Rosenbusch stood before her in great embarrassment. He knew less and
less what to make of this extraordinary creature.

He was just thinking that he would try and give a humorous turn to the
affair, by reminding her that she was in Paradise and not in a convent,
when he saw her leap up as if she were set on springs.

She had been frightened by the sound of a deep, angry growl. She
turned, trembling from head to foot, and beheld the old dog, who had
been sleeping behind the chair, as his custom was, but who now raised
himself up, and, wagging his shaggy tail back and forth, fixed a pair
of glowing eyes upon the guest.

"Take me away!--take me away!" she whispered to Rosenbusch, and seized
his arm. "That furious beast--don't you see how he glares at me? Good
Heavens, how frightened I am!"

"Don't be at all alarmed, dear madame; it is only old Homo. Here, in
Paradise, where the lion lies down by the lamb--"

She clung convulsively to his sleeve, and drew him away from the
windows. But it really did seem as though the strange old animal, who
paid no attention whatever to the other figures, took a particular
interest in the Capuchin's double.

He followed the couple with stately, dignified step, no matter in which
direction they turned, shaking his big ears from time to time and
emitting that hoarse growl which, with him, was always a sign of
violent excitement.

"For God's sake, free me from this monster!" cried the frightened
woman, in a choking voice. "I have an unconquerable horror of all dogs,
even when they are gentle. And this one--unless you put him out you
will force me to leave the hall."

"Down, Homo!--down, old boy!" said the battle-painter, looking round
for Jansen with growing embarrassment, for he did not dare to turn out
this old and honored guest of Paradise upon his own responsibility. But
the animal seemed no longer to recognize the voice of his friend and
house-mate. As Rosenbusch put out his hand in order to take him by the
collar and gently conduct him out, a howl burst from his throat, so
fierce and threatening, that every one standing near started back in
alarm. The familiar sound reached Jansen's ear also.

"What's the matter with the old fellow?" he said, listening. "I must go
and see," and with these words he turned away from Julie, who, with
Angelica, was just on the point of going in search of the young couple
whose disappearance they had at last begun to notice.

The music, which had just begun again, broke off suddenly, for a second
howl was heard through the room.

At this moment Jansen reached the group that had gathered about the
dog, and called him by name. The animal obediently turned his head
toward his master; but, when his victim tried to take advantage of this
movement to slip away quickly in the crowd, the dog gave forth a still
more angry growl, leaped with a powerful spring after the retreating
figure, and caught the end of the gown in his teeth.

"Back, Homo! Come here--back!" cried Jansen, in a voice of command.

But the animal continued to keep his hold. A low cry came from beneath
the cowl, and the little hand which was carefully held before the face
trembled violently, while the other struggled to tear loose the gown.
At this moment, Stephanopulos forced his way through the stupefied
crowd of spectators. With a quick movement he seized the furious animal
by the throat, with the intention of forcing it back. The dog's teeth
let go the gown, but, though a wild howl came from his powerful throat
and his eyes turned with a furious glare upon the bold intruder, he
succeeded in laying his heavy forepaws on the cord that answered for a
girdle, and with such violence that the muffled figure staggered and
fell upon the floor. The animal at once laid one of his paws upon the
prostrate figure, and, with a loud bark of triumph and violently
lashing his tail back and forth, stood by the side of his prey, with an
aspect so horrible that even Jansen recoiled from him.

True, it was not this sudden outbreak of fury in his old companion that
made him stagger back and stare in horror at the prostrate figure. In
her confusion and alarm the stranger had let her cowl fall back, her
white beard drop off, and for a few seconds they saw a woman's pale
face looking out from the disguise long enough for it to be recognized
by Jansen and the young Greek at his side.

"Are you crazy?" cried the latter, excited still more by the sudden
discovery. "Why do you stand there like a statue? Drag off this mad
beast before an accident happens, or by all the devils--"

Jansen did not move. His face was ashy pale; they could see his teeth
clinched tightly behind his parted lips. All around was breathless
stillness, broken only by the heavy breathing of the dog.

"Then we must help ourselves as best we can!" cried Stephanopulos. "To
hell with this devil's brute!"

Quick as a flash he unsheathed a long dagger that was stuck in his
belt, and before any one could interfere he had driven the sharp steel
down the wide-opened throat of the old animal.

A frightful howl, stifled the next moment by a stream of blood, and
then the powerful animal fell back, and, with a dull rattling in the
throat, dropped dead beside the woman in the cowl.



                              CHAPTER VII.


All this time the two lovers outside in the garden, absorbed in their
happiness, and covered warm with Felix's broad Spanish cloak, had heard
nothing of the gathering storm within-doors, and had not noticed that
the clouds had begun to dissolve in a fine rain. But in a little while
the wind began to rise, shaking the soft snow from the branches, and
driving the cold drops of rain into their faces.

Even then Irene expressed no desire to be taken back into the house.
She would have liked to wander by his side forever, through rain and
storm. But he, careful of her health, laughingly insisted upon
"bringing his little lamb under cover." "We must take care not to catch
cold," he said. "There are certain times when a cold stands very much
in the way of lovers. Come, my darling! I feel as if I should like to
dance all night long with you. Good Heavens! what work we shall have in
making up for lost time!"

She hung on his arm in full submission. But at this moment they heard
the dying howl of the old animal, horribly breaking in upon the
stillness of the night.

"What is that?" said Felix. "That sounds altogether too serious for any
masquerading joke. In the tropics I was used to such nocturnal voices,
and slept quietly in spite of them. But here, under this wintry sky--"

He hurried her toward the house. Then they saw a back-door suddenly
thrown open, and two muffled figures rush out hastily and run toward a
carriage that was standing waiting in the side-street, about thirty
steps from the house, just as on the night when the burning picture
disappeared.

They could distinguish nothing but the outline of a monk's cowl.

"Rosenbusch!" cried Felix.

But this call merely had the effect of causing the fleeing persons to
redouble their speed. The next moment they reached the carriage, and
something white gleamed in the darkness, which Felix's keen eye thought
it recognized as the fustanella of the young Greek; then the door
was slammed-to, and the carriage rolled off into the darkness at a
break-neck pace.

The pair gazed after it in amazement.

"What can it mean?" cried Irene.

Felix said nothing, but shook his head and hurried her on toward the
door. They found Fridolin at his post, but with eyes that glared so
from fright and sudden awakening that they did not stop to ask him any
questions, but, throwing off their wet wraps, hastened into the hall.

Here a most startling sight greeted their view.

Jansen was crouched motionless on the floor, holding on his knee the
bloody head of the dog, his gaze fixed on the stiff, outstretched limbs
of his old friend, whose convulsive twitching marked the last pulsation
of his ebbing blood.

Julie was kneeling at his side, taking no heed of her yellow skirts,
that were spotted with large stains from the dark pool. Their friends
were standing about them, completely stupefied; and even the musicians
crept down from the platform, in their grotesque animal costumes, and
mixed in among the guests.

At this moment the gaunt figure of Alba, in the shape of their friend
Schnetz, stepped out of the awe-struck crowd, advanced to the
astonished pair, and, taking them aside, told them all that had passed
while they had been out in the garden, pouring out their hearts to one
another in utter ignorance of what was going on within. In what
connection these puzzling occurrences stood to one another, the
lieutenant did not pretend to know. When they recovered from the first
shock, and looked about for the author of the whole trouble, they
discovered that she had disappeared from the hall with the young Greek.

Rosenbusch then joined them, and Angelica and Elfinger. The
battle-painter was plunged in a truly pitiable state of despondency at
the tragic end of his adventure. Innocent as he was of it all, he
nevertheless persisted in accusing himself of being the author of the
murderous affair by introducing this mysterious guest. He gave a
detailed account of the way in which he had made her acquaintance, and
asserted again and again that she had done absolutely nothing to
provoke the dog. But let that be as it would, the mischief had been
done; the ball was spoiled, and Jansen had lost his good old comrade.

Felix listened to all this with clouded brow. Then he pushed his way
through the crowd, and went up to Jansen. The dog had just drawn his
last breath. Jansen sprung to his feet when he felt the hand of his
friend on his shoulder. He drew himself up erect, and then raised Julie
from her knees, but without uttering a word, while his bright eyes,
sunk deep in their sockets, wandered slowly about, as if he were trying
to remember where he was.

"Have they gone?" he said, after a long pause.

No one answered. Julie took his hand and spoke gently to him, and he
replied by a vacant smile and a nod. Then, with a violent shudder, he
roused himself, and strode out of the group that had gathered about the
dead animal. He advanced to his friends, and, speaking once more in his
usual voice, requested Schnetz to send for a carriage, as he wished to
take the dead dog home. Then, with few words, but with a manner that
forbade all remonstrances, he entreated them not to be disturbed on his
account, and not to leave the ball. He made even Julie promise this,
and forced himself to speak quite as usual. After this he took
Rosenbusch aside, and conversed with him in a low voice for a
considerable time, never lifting his eyes from the floor; finally he
shook hands with him, and left the room.

Julie and Felix accompanied him out to the carriage, in which the body
of the dog had been already laid. He got in with evident difficulty,
and gave the two at parting a hand that was as cold as ice. He did all
this as if he were still enveloped in some dream, from which even the
presence and sympathy of those most dear to him could not arouse him.

Fridolin had mounted on the box by the side of the driver, and in this
fashion they pursued their long drive through the cold, rainy night,
and drew up in front of the studio just as the clock was striking
twelve. The driver lent them his assistance in lifting the heavy body
of the dog out of the carriage, and carrying him in. They laid him down
in the little garden behind the house, and, with shovel and pickaxe,
dug a deep grave, into which they lowered the huge animal. The driver
had gone on his way again, and Jansen stood motionless on the brink of
the grave, gazing down on the dark mass that they were leaving there to
crumble into dust. But Fridolin took the two artificial roses which had
belonged to his angel's dress, and which he still wore behind his ears,
and cast them down upon the dead animal.

"It is winter," he said, "and a dark night; and we have nothing
fresher. But go and get some sleep, Herr Professor. I will put his bed
in order with my spade. And though he was only an animal, perhaps after
all we shall see him again at the resurrection; and if there should be
a heaven for dogs, Herr Professor, he will go there sooner than many a
priest. And why? Because he knew what friendship and kindness meant;
and that is what nine men out of ten don't know; and he never treated a
poor fellow-man like a dog, which can't be said of everybody. I don't
think the good God will object if I offer up a few paternosters for the
poor dog's soul."

Jansen nodded in silence, and turned away. Then he went into the house,
and stepped into his studio. It was cold as ice in the large room; the
wind roared down the chimney, and rattled in the iron stove. Yet for
all that the unhappy man could not make up his mind to go back to his
lodgings. He threw himself upon the low sofa and spread his cloak over
his benumbed limbs. So he lay there perfectly still, and listened to
the falling of the rain and the noise made by the spade. His eyes were
shut. But for all that he never ceased to see, in the darkness of his
own heart, a pale face, only too well known, from which the mask had
just fallen, and which, despite its frightened, supplicating look,
stared up at him like the head of Medusa.



                             CHAPTER VIII.


When he started up, late in the morning, after a short sleep, and saw
the snow drifting sadly down outside the window, the face at once rose
up before him again; and the frightened look of those blue eyes, that
he had hoped never to see more, and that now came to begin anew their
designs upon his happiness, made him shudder even more than the harsh
breath of the winter morning. And yet at first he had difficulty in
believing that it had really happened. It was only from his great
exhaustion that he realized what a storm he had passed through.

He was surprised himself at the stolid, torpid, icy calmness with which
he was able to look back on the frightful scene, as if the apparition
of the night, that yesterday made his hair stand on end, had no power
over him in broad daylight. He thought about the loss of his faithful
old companion too, as something that had happened long ago. But he was
pained by the thought that he had let the faithful animal be buried in
his masquerade trappings, with the gaudy ribbons and the guitar on his
back. He even went so far as to seriously deliberate whether he should
not have the grave opened again and cleared of all the tawdry finery.
However, he put it off until evening; and when evening came he had much
more pressing matters to attend to.

He was firmly resolved to put an end to this condition of affairs; to
tear the ever-rankling and festering barb from out the wound, let it
cost what it might. How this could best be done he did not know as yet.
But upon one point his mind was definitely made up; he owed it to Julie
to render a repetition of such scenes impossible.

He left the studio and went into the city. He directed his steps to the
hotel where the Russian countess was staying. To his amazement, he
learned there that no one had ever heard of this Madame St.-Aubain,
which was the name Rosenbusch had given him the preceding evening. The
porter did, indeed, remember a person such as Jansen described; the
lady spent the whole day with the countess no later than yesterday. But
she was not stopping in the hotel, and he had not learned what her name
was.

He would speak about it to the countess herself: could he see her for a
moment? asked the sculptor.

The porter looked at his watch. It was only nine o'clock; He had orders
to admit no one before eleven.

So there was nothing left for him but to be patient, hard as it was.

Wandering about without any definite plan, his heart led him to where
Julie lived. But, the moment he saw the house in the distance, he
turned back. It was impossible for him to look her in the face again
until he could say to her: "It is all over; you have nothing more to
fear from my past; the spectre has been sent back among the dead."

He went into the Pinakothek, where at this time of the year and day the
large, unheated halls stand empty. He stretched himself on the sofa
that stands in the centre of the immense room, and looked over the
walls with half closed eyes. The power and warmth of life of these
noble pictures acted, without his knowing it, upon his spirits, and his
mood continued to grow quieter and more gentle, until at last he fell
fast asleep, his hat pushed down so low over his eyes that the
attendants and the few visitors took him for an exceedingly studious
painter, who made use of his hat-brim to protect him from the
reflection of the light from above.

He had to make up for the sleep he had lost in the night; thus three,
four hours went by without his waking. At length one of the attendants,
to whom the matter began to look rather odd, stepped up and discovered
who it was. However, he had altogether too much respect for the artist
to disturb his sleep before the time came for closing the gallery.
Jansen sprang to his feet, asked what time it was, and was startled to
find how many hours he had lost. He left the gallery in great haste,
and hurried to the hotel.

The countess was too unwell to receive any visits today, the porter
told him.

Jansen shrugged his shoulders, growled out a few unintelligible words,
and began to mount the stairs without paying any further heed to this
answer. Up-stairs he received a similar reply from the countess's maid,
who met him in the corridor.

"Take this card to the countess. I regret to disturb her, but it is
absolutely necessary that I speak with her."

The girl took the card, acted as though the name which she read on it
was perfectly unknown to her, and then remarked:

"Just at this moment it is really quite impossible for the countess to
receive you. The doctor is with her and is renewing the bandages. That
always gives her such pain that she is forced to lie perfectly still
for two or three hours after the operation, unless she would have
convulsions. Perhaps, if you would be good enough to call again toward
evening--"

Jansen gave the tricky girl a look that confused even her brazen face.

"I am convinced, my good girl, that you are lying to me in the most
cold-blooded manner possible; the doctor is not with your mistress, nor
does she need repose. I have a great mind to thrust you aside and
quietly make my way in for myself. But, in order that your mistress may
be convinced that I am entirely courteous, I will act as though I
really believed you, and call again in a few hours. But then--" and he
raised his voice a little, in case there should be any one behind the
door, listening to the conversation--"then I shall expect that the
nerves of the countess will have nothing to say against my requesting a
ten minutes' interview. It is now two o'clock. At four I shall take the
liberty of knocking again at this door."

"Perhaps it is just as well," he said, as he went down the stairs. "I
have eaten nothing since yesterday evening. An empty stomach goes badly
with diplomatic negotiations. And I want to keep as cool as possible."

He stepped into a restaurant, hurriedly took a little food, and
hastened to get out into the street again. He felt better out in the
cold air than anywhere else; he sauntered slowly along, like a
promenader in the most beautiful spring weather, baring his head to the
storm and letting the flakes of snow fall upon his hair and forehead,
so that the people whom he met turned to look after him. As he had a
long time to wait before the appointed hour would arrive, he wandered
through the town, and at last, by roundabout ways, came back once more
to his atelier. Fridolin reported that Miss Julie had been there twice
in person, and the second time had written something. The lieutenant
and the other gentlemen had also been there to see him, and the baron
made him take him to the grave and tell him the whole story. Herr
Rosenbusch was the only one who had not yet appeared, and Fräulein
Angelica had only shown herself a moment, just to water her flowers,
and had gone away again. However, he had made a fire in the studio, and
it was warm in among the saints also, although the assistants had taken
a holiday on their own account.

Had the professor--for so he obstinately persisted in calling
Jansen--any further orders to give?

Jansen shook his head and entered his workshop. He found Julie's note.
She begged him, in Italian, which they had been studying together for
some months, to release her from the agonizing uncertainty in regard to
his mood and in regard to what he intended to do. She was only going
out to make a visit to Irene, and then she would stay at home and
expect him. The note closed with a few loving words and another
earnest request for him to come to her that evening, all of which did
him unspeakable good.

But he remained firm in his determination not to go to her until he had
cleared up the whole matter.

He sat down on the sofa and had just begun to draw up a small table, in
order to write her a few comforting lines, when a quick knock on the
door interrupted him.

He was startled to see Frances's nurse come in. This little woman, who
had a houseful of children and a head full of cares, seldom visited
him--and never without her little charge.

Her black eyes, usually so cheery, began to spy anxiously about in
every corner of the studio, the moment she had entered it.

"Is your child here?" she stammered breathlessly.

"With me? No. What made you think so?"

He stepped up to her hastily. "What is the matter, my good woman? Did
you send little Frances here?"

"Not here! Oh! Heavens!--but perhaps she may be up-stairs with Fräulein
Angelica--without your knowing about it. I will go right up--"

"Fräulein Angelica is not up-stairs; I am all alone in the house. Tell
me, for God's sake--"

He stopped suddenly; a horrible suspicion paralyzed his tongue.

The exhausted woman sank down on the pedestal of the great group, and
wiped her eyes.

"The child--?" he asked at length, with great difficulty.

She looked up at him with supplicating eyes.

"Don't kill me! I don't know where it is--some one has taken it
away--my anxiety drove me here--I have done all I can!--"

She seemed to expect nothing less than that he would strike her dead
after hearing this confession.

But, as he stood motionless, she mustered up courage to tell him, in a
disconnected way, what had happened. She had gone into the city after
dinner, and her old mother had, as usual, taken charge of the children.
Immediately after she went out--as if she had only been waiting for
that--a strange lady had come to the house.

"Young, with blue eyes?" interrupted the sculptor, with difficulty
unclinching his teeth.

No. An elderly lady, not far from fifty, dressed in black and heavily
veiled. She asked for Frances, and said she was to bring her to
Fräulein Julie, only for half an hour. It was a surprise they were
preparing for the father, she said; Fräulein Angelica was going to make
a sketch of the child; a drosky was waiting outside the door, and she
asked the good grandmamma to put on the child's little cloak, but not
to make any other change in its dress. The old woman, as soon as her
deafness allowed her to catch the meaning of this story, had thought it
rather strange, at first; but the explanation given by the stranger
that Fräulein Angelica was prevented from coming and getting the child
herself, by a slight cold she had caught on the evening before, had
quieted her again. Besides, the child would be brought back in a couple
of hours; Fräulein Julie would bring it home herself. As the stranger
seemed to be so well acquainted with all the people and circumstances
of which she spoke, the old woman could offer no reasonable objection.
But the stranger had scarcely left the house when she was filled with
an unaccountable anxiety, and had impatiently awaited her daughter's
return.

She, however, had been detained in the city longer than she had
expected by a number of errands; and, when she finally did return and
found that the child had not been brought back, she immediately set out
in the greatest anxiety to look for it. But she found no trace either
at Julie's (who was herself absent, the old servant Erich said, for she
had not come back to her dinner at the usual time), or at Angelica's
house. At the latter place they told her that the artist had not gone
out until about noon, for she had risen very late; besides, she had
found the weather too dark for working. Her last faint hope had been
that the child would be found at her father's--and here, too, there was
no trace of her!

The woman's eyes filled with tears while telling him the story. She had
slipped down from the pedestal and now lay, weeping bitterly, at the
feet of the silent man, as if she would disarm his anger by this humble
posture.

"Calm yourself!" she heard him say at last. "You are innocent in the
whole affair. Believe me; the child is not lost--oh, no! it is in
excellent hands. Can a child be safer anywhere than with the mother who
bore it?"

The weeping woman raised herself and looked at him inquiringly.

"Yes, yes!" he repeated, laughing bitterly. "You have never been told
about that, my good friend; it was very thoughtless of me not to have
spoken to you about it the very first thing this morning. My wife has
made her appearance again; she gave me a specimen of her acting last
night--a benefit performance in Paradise--a short scene, but very
effective. And now this is the second act. That the third, in which I
am to play too, will be the last, you may be very sure."

"She is here, she has the child, and you know where she is to be
found?"

"Not yet. However, I know some one who knows all about it, whom I think
I can talk into giving me the necessary information. By-the-way, it
must be about the time--almost four o'clock; let us go!"

"Go alone, unless you have particular need of me. My knees can hardly
bear me. The anxiety--Oh! let me rest here just for a few moments."

"I'll order a drosky. You mustn't think of walking back such a long
distance. We will ride part of the way together."

He called the janitor and sent him out for a carriage. Then he paced
with long strides up and down the studio in profound silence, while the
woman sank back into a chair, and struggled hard to compose herself.

In the midst of this painful stillness, they all at once heard the
voice of the battle-painter in the entry.

He and Felix came in together, and his unsteady step, pale face, and
disheveled aspect, showed plainly enough that the horrors of the
preceding night were still fresh in his memory. He greeted Jansen with
a most depressed mien, and the jokes that he tried to make sounded
anything but cheerful. He would not have shown himself in such a
wretched condition had he not happened to fall in with something that
might possibly be of importance to Jansen.

An hour ago he had crept into the open air for the first time that day,
his head still heavy from the wine that he had dolefully poured down
his throat the night before, in the hope of drowning his dismay at that
murderous tragedy with poor old Homo. As he did not want to meet any of
his acquaintances, he took the road that leads out through the gates,
visiting, among other places, the cemetery, and feeling quite in a mood
to seek a resting-place there himself.

On his return, as he was passing the Sendling gate, he saw a traveling
carriage, loaded down with trunks, roll out and turn into the country
high-road.

This struck him as being rather a peculiar proceeding at this time of
year and in this century of railways; and for that reason he looked
pretty closely at the equipage as it drove by. To his great amazement
he recognized in one of the ladies, who was just bending forward a
little, the stranger of the night before, the mysterious Madame de
St.-Aubain, while sitting opposite her on the back seat was no less a
person than that Greek Don Juan, Monsieur Stephanopulos. They were
talking earnestly with one another, and did not notice him. The lady
looked devilish pretty, her face being set off very coquettishly by a
black spangled baschlik, and her blue eyes--

"Why, what's the matter with you, Jansen?" he cried, breaking off in
alarm, for he saw his friend suddenly grow pale. "I thought I was
telling you pleasant news, in reporting that this fatal person, and the
murderer of poor Homo, were taking themselves out of your sight--"

"Did you see a child with them?" cried the sculptor, almost beside
himself, and turning fiercely upon the innocent narrator.

"A child? It is possible there was a child in the carriage. At least I
saw all sorts of wrappings and shawls lying on the other two seats.
But, for heaven's sake, my friend--"

"Good! Thank you. I know enough. An hour ago, you say? And on the
Sendling post-road? Good! Excuse me, my good woman--I--I must be off.
But I must be prepared for all emergencies."

He rushed up to the old wardrobe in the corner, tore open the door with
trembling hands, and drew out an old-fashioned pistol, covered with
dust and rust.

At this moment he felt Felix's hand on his shoulder.

"What is it?" he said, without turning round.

"Of course I am going with you," said his friend, in a suppressed
voice. "As matters stand, I think I know pretty well what the trouble
is. What I don't yet know, you can explain to me on the road; but I can
never let you start alone on this sad hunt; and, as my blood is cooler
than yours, you must let me be the leader. They chose the highway
because the telegraph would have cut them off if they had gone by rail,
and they have not got much of a start yet. For this reason, I think
there can be no doubt but what we shall overtake them if we take
horses. Come! The drosky that Fridolin has just ordered will take us in
ten minutes to the stable where I hire my horses. Then we will ride by
my lodgings, and, if you insist upon it, I will put my revolver in my
pocket. That old horse-pistol wouldn't inspire Herr Stephanopulos with
any great respect. Do you agree to this, old boy?"

"Let me follow in the carriage," pleaded the little woman. "I shall die
of anxiety unless I do, and who knows but what I can be of good service
to you. The poor child, and among strange people too, may be made sick
by the fright and the cold drive--"

Felix quieted her as well as he could, and his firm, determined bearing
had so good an effect that Rosenbusch also promised to keep perfectly
quiet until their return, and not alarm either Julie or Angelica by
saying anything about the matter. Then Felix pushed his friend, who
submitted to his guidance like a child, out of the room, stopped a
moment on the stairs to write a word of excuse to Irene, who was
expecting him that evening, and then, getting into the drosky, he
ordered the driver to drive as fast as possible. Half an hour later the
two friends, mounted on fast horses, were spurring along the highroad
that runs from the Sendling gate across the broad Isar plain into the
mountains beyond.



                              CHAPTER IX.


The mist of evening hung over the still country. The heavy snow-clouds,
piled into huge heaps by the winds, drifted slowly across the dreary
sky, now and then letting fall a stray flake. To the right and left of
the road, whose deep ruts were filled with a half-frozen slush, the
trees stretched up to heaven their black and dripping branches, on
which even the crows refused to alight.

In this dismal wintry desert, where, far and wide, no human being could
be seen, where no dog barked at the horses, the words seemed to freeze
on the lips of the two horsemen. Jansen had informed Felix only of
those facts which were positively essential to a knowledge of the case;
of his determination to make an end of the affair, and his belief that
the abduction of the child was either to be used as a means of
extorting some concessions from him, or else that it was a mere trick
on the part of the mother to let him feel her power, and to present
herself to the world in the character of an abused wife, who sought by
this desperate deed to recover a right of which she had long been
deprived.

Felix had but little to say in reply.

"Perhaps it is better, after all, that the matter should be brought to
a crisis," he thought to himself. "Who knows how long it would have
dragged on if he had always been obliged to negotiate from a distance.
If he only keeps cool and puts forth all his energy, he will probably
effect more now, when it is likely that her conscience troubles her in
regard to the farce of yesterday, than he could otherwise have hoped
for."

Whereupon he put spurs to his horse, and, in spite of the interest with
which his friend's fate inspired him, relapsed into his own thoughts.
He had been with Irene for a few hours that morning. The feeling that
he brought away with him from those happy hours, the certainty that
henceforth his way was clear before him, took complete possession of
him, and made him unsusceptible to all the dreariness of this strange
ride. In addition to this he was filled with joy at being able to help
his friend at such a moment, as well as at being a witness of the
favorable change which he believed was about to take place in Jansen's
lot. Absorbed in these thoughts, he caught himself whistling a merry
tune, and beating time to it with his riding-whip; but, seeing that
Jansen suddenly spurred on his horse and rode past him, he broke off,
urged his own animal to greater speed, and, after overtaking his friend
again, rode along at a sharp trot by the side of his brooding
companion.

Upon reaching the next village--where, notwithstanding the early hour,
everybody seemed to have gone to bed--they drew up before the tavern,
and made inquiries concerning a traveling-carriage that they thought
must have passed by the place. The few peasants who were in the guests'
room, playing cards with the landlord, came out to the door, and gave
it as their opinion that, at this time of year, no other carriage than
the doctor's or the priest's one-horse chaise would show itself in
those parts. They stood shaking their heads, and looking after the
retiring horsemen, as they again dashed forward.

"We shall overtake them in Grossheselohe, at the railway bridge," said
Felix. "They can't cross there with the carriage, and will wait for the
express train, so as to go on early to-morrow morning. They _must_ have
passed, unless Rosenbusch was dreaming. These people in the tavern are
so befogged with beer and schnapps, that it is very probable they
didn't hear the wheels."

They reached the village of Grossheselohe as one of the church clocks
was striking six. A rather lively company was assembled in the village
ale-house. The waiter-girl, who stepped to the door upon hearing the
approaching sound of horses' hoofs, knew nothing of any carriage
bringing strangers from the city. But a drunken hostler, who came
staggering out of one of the stalls, muttered some unintelligible words
and pointed to the road leading into the wood, though he could not be
induced to give any more distinct information.

"Forward!" cried Felix. "We have no other choice, and I know the road
through the wood. Undoubtedly, Stephanopulos is also very well
acquainted with the country about here. This region was the classic
site of the May festivals that the artists used to give. Take my word
for it, we shall find our fugitives in the next village."

He urged on his horse, but the heavy darkness now forced them to
moderate their speed. Riding at a walk, they plunged into the blackness
of the little wood which fringes the high bank of the Isar, and which,
in summertime, is the goal of so many weary city-folk. Now, it was so
gloomy that even Felix felt a cold shudder pass through his very bones.
Down in the deep ravines the water roared, and the wind sighed
mournfully through the bare tree-tops. Jansen's animal shied and
reared, but his rider sat in the saddle like the stone Commendatore; he
had hardly spoken a word for an hour.

Suddenly Felix reined in his horse. "Do you see there?" said he, in a
suppressed voice. "I'll wager we have them. It's high time. My horse
has gone lame in its right fore-foot."

Across a cleared patch in the wood they saw the village which the
artists had used as a rallying-point in the picnics of which Felix
had spoken. A house, with a rather high roof, stood out like a
silhouette against the gray sky, showing, in its second story, a
row of brightly-lighted windows.

"Unless they happen to be celebrating a wedding here, other guests must
be in those rooms," said Felix. "Let's ride nearer, and cut across this
field; although there's not much fear that they could escape us now,
even if we should besiege their hiding-place from the open road."

The horses, giving a low neigh--for they scented a crib of
oats--stamped through the slippery mud, and drew up before the fence
that separated the inn court-yard from the street.

"We are right," whispered Felix, who stood up in his stirrups in
order to look over the fence. "The carriage is standing there in the
yard--two people are busy unloading the trunks--the fellow holding the
lantern is probably the coachman. Now for it, in God's name!"

He swung himself from his horse, and stepped up to his friend to help
him out of the saddle. "Come," he said, patting the streaming horse on
the neck. "Whatever you are going to do, do it quickly. You will
probably find the whole company together, up-stairs; and, while you are
doing what is right up there, I will see to our horses and follow in
five minutes. Or do you want me to go up with you at once?"

A deep sigh, the first sign of life that the silent man had yet given,
was the only answer. He seemed to have considerable difficulty in
getting out of the stirrups, as if his limbs were frozen fast to the
saddle. Then he stood for a few moments in a deep reverie, and seemed
to be struggling to get the better of a strong aversion, before he
could bring himself to enter the house. Felix accompanied him as far as
the door.

"Remember to keep down that Berserker blood of yours!" he whispered to
him.

Jansen nodded, and pressed his hand as if to ratify the vow. Then he
stood still again, raised his hat to wipe his forehead, and then strode
quickly across the threshold.

Felix gazed after him with a feeling of painful sympathy. He would much
rather have undertaken this difficult mission in his friend's stead.
But he knew him too well to dare even to propose such a thing.

So he led the two horses by the bridles, pushed open the gate, and
entered the court.

The hostlers, who were busied about the traveling-carriage, rose up and
stared in amazement when they heard the sound of horses' hoofs, and saw
this young stranger coolly approaching them.

"Good-evening!" he said. "I suppose you still have room in your stable
and a few dry blankets. These beasts are as wet as if they had just
been drawn out of the water."

No answer. The coachman turned the lantern full in the face of the
new-comer, and shrugged his shoulders.

"You'll be no losers for taking good care of my animals," continued
Felix. "In the mean time, I think I can find the stable-door for
myself."

Without further parley he took the lantern from the coachman's
hand--who, in his confusion, was at a loss how to bear himself toward
this distinguished-looking gentleman--and proceeded to light his horses
to the manger.

At this moment he heard a voice calling across the court, urging the
people who were unpacking the carriage to make haste. The owner of this
voice stepped out of the back-door; and, seeing the people standing
there idle, he marched quickly up to the spot with the intention of
giving them a sound rating. Before he could utter a word, however, he
started back in confusion--for Felix had also stood still, and raised
his lantern so that his figure could be distinctly seen.

Stephanopulos, bare-headed and wrapped in a shawl, stood before him,
presenting an appearance that was anything but imposing. However,
observing the sarcastic mien of the young baron, he soon succeeded in
recovering--outwardly, at least--his usual presence of mind.

"You here!" he cried. "What an unexpected meeting! Really, if I hadn't
seen it with my own eyes--"

"_Bon soir, mon cher!_ Can I get quarters here, too?" interrupted
Felix. "Yes, you are right; it is I in person. And, for that matter,
though you are surprised to see me here in weather like this, which can
hardly be said to offer any great inducements for making country
excursions, it is really no more surprising than that I should find
_you_. We Northerners are accustomed to winter campaigns. But for one
who grew up at the foot of the Parthenon--"

"Are you--alone, or--is some one else--" stammered the unfortunate man.

"Only a good friend of mine, who chanced to have business here, and who
will also be rejoiced to see you. Really now, without compliments, we
hardly had a right to expect this agreeable meeting so near the city.
Where are you going to, sir?" he suddenly raised his voice. "Back into
the house? I must earnestly request you to favor me with your company
for a short time outside here. Your sense of delicacy ought to teach
you that the business which occupies my friend within-doors there will
bear no witnesses but those most nearly concerned, and however much you
appear to consider yourself as one of the family--"

"Let me alone!" cried the youth, in whose dark eyes an evil light began
to gleam. "Why do you stand in my way? What right have you to concern
yourself with my affairs?"

"My dear sir," said Felix, dropping the horses' bridles and stepping
close up to Stephanopulos, "before all things, don't scream so loud. In
your own interest, I advise you not to be too grandiloquent about this
affair. The person who is most directly concerned in it might resent
any remonstrance on your part less politely than I do. If you care at
all to get out of this ridiculous scrape in as respectable a manner as
possible--"

"Take care!" cried the other. "You insult me! You shall give me
satisfaction for thinking me capable of such a piece of infamy! What!
desert an unfortunate woman, who has trusted herself to my protection,
in the presence of a man who has always abused her, and has sworn to
kill her if she ever comes into his sight again! Let me alone, I tell
you! I will--I must go back to the house! I must stand by her--I
must--"

"It is very magnanimous of you to want to," interrupted Felix, coldly,
as he seized the other's arm with an iron grip. "But, in the mean
while, I will take care that you don't. I would propose to you to take
a walk in the neighboring wood, in order to cool off your hot blood a
little, until the husband has settled matters with his wife. If you
should interfere with him, I'm very much afraid he would shoot you
without taking any more time for reflection than you did yesterday when
you put an end to the poor dog. But I am sorry for you, my good fellow.
And for that reason, and also to preserve you for art and for further
adventures--"

While saying these words he had been forcing Stephanopulos toward the
side where the stable was. There was a door standing open, apparently
leading up-stairs to the hay-loft.

"In here!" he said, imperiously, suddenly letting go of the youth's arm
and sending him stumbling over the threshold.

The Greek curse that rose to his lips was stifled by the furious
passion which blazed up in him.

"Help! help!" he shrieked, beside himself with maddening rage.

But Felix shut the door upon him, quickly turned the key in the lock,
and went back to the horses. The prisoner could be heard raging on the
other side of the door; a moment afterward his face appeared at the
little barred window. A blow of his fist shivered the pane.

"If you don't open on the instant, you scoundrel--you blackguard--"

"I repeat my good advice," said Felix, stepping up close to the window.
"Behave yourself quietly and yield to force, unless you want to make
your position worse than it is already. What I have just done is for
your own good, and your imprisonment will hardly last longer than half
an hour. Afterward, of course, I will afford you all so-called
satisfaction, with pleasure--as soon my time will allow me."

He lifted his hat a little, stuck the key in his pocket, and resumed
his hold of the horses' bridles.

The coachman and the stable-boys, who had looked on at this singular
scene in open-mouthed surprise, were so taken aback by his manner,
that, without attempting to make any effort in behalf of the prisoner,
they officiously hastened to lend assistance in leading the horses into
the barn. Felix gave a few directions about how they were to be
treated, and threw a thaler to each of the men. Then he took the
lantern in his hand again, gave orders that no one should follow him,
and strode across the yard to join his friend.



                               CHAPTER X.


While this violent and yet almost ridiculous scene was enacted in the
court, Jansen had been mounting the dark stairs with a heavy foot and a
heavier breath. No sound of a human being was heard in the house; only
the roaring and crackling of the open fire in the kitchen below. Half
way up the stairs he stood still and listened; it seemed to him as if
he heard the voice of his child. But it was only the ringing in his
ears, as the blood seemed to surge and boil in his veins.

"She will be asleep by this time," he said to himself. "So much the
better! She won't hear then what I have to say to her mother."

He trembled all over. And yet he had no fear of this meeting, that was
to be the last. He was afraid of himself, of the dark, violent spirit
that made him clinch his fists and gnash his teeth. "Be quiet!" he said
to himself, "be quiet! She is not worth such fury!"

He hastened up the last few steps and found himself in a long, dark
corridor. At one end a thin ray of light made its way through a
keyhole, and a broader gleam shone through the crack between the door
and the bent and warping threshold.

"It must be there!" he said. He took off his hat, and passed his
hand through his wet hair. "Let us make an end of it!" said he,
unconsciously repeating over and over again the words "an end!--an
end--an end!"

Then he stood before the door and listened. A voice which he did not
recognize was speaking; he stooped down and peeped in through the
keyhole. His eye lighted directly upon the face of an elderly woman who
was talking earnestly, but perfectly quietly. He recognized the old
singer, his wife's mother, whom he had always disliked even at the time
of his maddest infatuation. She sat in a corner of the sofa, and drank
now and then, in the short pauses she made, from a little silver cup
that stood by the side of a traveling-flask. At the same time she broke
up a biscuit and put the pieces in her mouth with an affected movement
of the hand, all the while displaying her false teeth to advantage.
Near her, sunk back in an arm-chair, lay her daughter; she was dressed
entirely in black, which became her white skin and deep blue eyes
charmingly. She was playing with a pair of scissors, making them flash
in the candle-light, and looked as wearied and indifferent to all about
her, as though she had just come home from the theatre where she been
acting in some tiresome piece with only tolerable success.

Suddenly she sprang up with a loud shriek. The door had opened
noiselessly; and, instead of the young companion whom she had expected
to see enter, the very man stood before her, from whom she had fled to
this obscure hiding-place.

The words died on her lips; even the old actress, who was not
ordinarily easily disconcerted, sat as if she were petrified; and only
her fingers, still convulsively crumbling up the biscuits, seemed to be
alive.

"Leave the room; I have something to say to my wife!" Jansen said to
her in a low voice and without violence. "Do you hear what I say? Go
away this instant! but through this door, by which I entered."

He wanted to prevent her from taking the child with her, for he took it
for granted that it had been put to bed in the adjoining room.

The women exchanged a quick look. These few moments sufficed to restore
the younger one to self-possession.

"You must not leave me," she said. "In whatever I am to hear--since I
am conscious of my innocence--I need shun no witnesses, least of all my
own mother."

And as she spoke she sank back again into the chair, and passed her
hand across her eyes, as though overcome by painful memories. The old
woman on the sofa did not move. They could only hear how she murmured
softly to herself: "Good God! Good God! What a scene! What a
catastrophe!"

"I repeat my demand!" the sculptor said with emphasis. "Will you wait
for me to take your arm and lead you out?"

"Very good; I will go; I will not let matters be brought to the worst,"
cried the mother, rising with a pathetic gesture. Then she bent down
over Lucie and whispered something in her ear. "No, no," hastily
answered the latter, "not a word to him. That would only make the
matter worse. Go, if it must be so. I am not afraid!"

She spoke the last words aloud and facing toward Jansen, whom she
looked straight in the eyes without a trace of terror. Any stranger
would have been deceived by this air of conscious innocence.

The old singer slammed the door behind her. They heard her, as she
passed down the corridor. But it did not escape Jansen's ears that she
crept back and remained standing outside the door to listen.

"Let her stay, for what I care!" he said to himself, "as long as I
needn't see her face." Then came again the feverish: "We must make an
end--an end--an end!" He took his stand before the stove, in which the
remains of a fire still glowed. With folded arms he stood gazing down
upon the woman who had been the curse of his life. In the midst of his
terrible anguish it flashed across him that not a feature of her face
gave evidence of the seven years that had passed since they had been
separated. She even appeared younger, more girlish and more
unsophisticated than when he had first known her. Nothing could be read
on those soft lips or on that clear forehead but a sort of curiosity,
an innocent wonder as to what was coming. Her soft, quiet hand had
taken up the scissors again, and was playfully opening and shutting
them.

An almost unbearable thought, a crushing sense of shame suddenly rose
within him, as he realized that this mask had once deceived him; had
excited him to mad passion, and had flattered him into reposing in it
an undying faith--this smooth lie, this cold smile, that did not desert
her even now, when he whom she had so bitterly injured had to put forth
all his strength in order to pass through this hour manfully.

"I am here," said he at length, "to--to make an end of this. I hope you
will not make it more difficult for me than is necessary. I will not
ask you the reasons that have led you to act against our agreement, and
to cross my path again. You have a fondness for masquerading, and I
must let you indulge it as much as you like; all the more as I, for my
part, give you up utterly. I merely wish to warn you that if you ever
again feel a desire to approach me in any kind of disguise, take care
not to lose the mask. I could not bear to see your face again, and my
hot blood might play me false."

She bent her eyes upon him with a perfectly unembarrassed look, as if
asking whether he was really serious when he said these words--whether
he really could not bear the sight of this gentle face.

"Have no fear," she answered, softly, in an almost bashful tone. "I am
not coming again. I have seen all that I wanted to see. It was
certainly a pardonable curiosity that made me want to see what kind of
a face one must have to find favor in your eyes; and if I--"

"Silence!" he interrupted, imperiously. "You shall hear me to the
end--to the very end. If, as I hope, you are not unmindful of your own
interests, and will listen to reason, our last interview will end
peacefully, and I will give you my thanks for having brought it about.
I will then take my child away with me, and promise you that I will try
hard to think of you without anger."

"The child?"

"The child that you have just stolen, that you wished to keep with you
in pawn, that you might carry out Heaven knows what miserable scheme."

"You are very much mistaken," she interposed, and a slight blush
mounted to her cheeks. "The child is not here."

"Don't attempt to deceive me!" he cried, with sudden fury. "I know you
have kidnapped the child--it is asleep in the next room--you fled to
this place to conceal your capture from me; to-morrow, early, you
intended to continue the flight."

"You are raving again!" she said calmly, and laid the scissors down on
the table. "Look yourself, and see whether the child is here with me.
There stands the lamp; search the house, if you do not believe me."

He stretched out his hand mechanically, took the light, and opened the
door of the adjoining chamber. The beds that stood there were empty.

With a threatening look he turned upon her.

"Shall I search the house room by room?" he asked, his voice trembling
with anger.

"It would be useless trouble. I swear to you, I did not bring the child
with me."

"Trickster!" he cried, setting the light down on the table with such
force that the flame was almost extinguished. "Only this once the
truth--only this once! Where is the child? What have you done with her?
In whose hands--"

"In the best of hands," she interrupted, "under the very safest
protection, so help me God! I--it is true--I had an irresistible
longing to see my poor child once more, whom you have made motherless
and to whom you wish to give a mother who can have no heart for the
orphan. If it is a crime for the real mother not to wish to see her
child given to the false one, then I have committed such a crime. I
wanted to steal it for myself, to be a thief of that which is my own,
purchased with pain and lost with pain; but it happened differently--I
was not to have it, in punishment for not having defended my rights
more boldly. Oh! and this cruel, pitiless man, who has robbed me of
everything, even of this last short, desperate consolation--"

Her voice appeared to fail her. She covered her face with her white
hands, and was silent. But the time when she might have deceived him
was past.

"Where is the child?" he asked, after a short pause, stepping close up
to her.

She did not remove her hands from before her eyes.

"I sent it back to you. I saw that the innocent creature had been
brought up in hatred toward her mother, and that I could not hope to
win her young heart back to me again. What I felt--but enough! What do
you care for my sorrows? I pressed the child to my breast for the last
time, and then let her go from me forever. When you get home, you will
find her there. This is the truth. And if I had to die this moment I
could not say anything else."

She drew herself up at these words; her eyes glistened with moisture,
her features assumed an expression of anxious emotion, and her gestures
were hasty and ungraceful.

"Well?" she queried. "Are you not yet satisfied? Have I something still
that your hate begrudges me, that you would like to tear from me? Take
it--take all I have--take even my miserable life, that you have spared
me until now, for I see what you are aiming at when you say you want to
put an end to this. Yes, an end to my woes, to my disappointed hopes,
to my happiness and my honor--an end to this wretched creature, that
wanders through the world like a leaf torn from a tree, finding rest
nowhere--nowhere until it sinks into the mud and rots there."

She threw herself on the sofa, and burst into a flood of tears.

He knew these tears. He knew that she possessed the art of moving
herself in order to move others. But still he felt a deep pity for this
unhappy nature, which could not even in its truest grief weep truly.

"Lucie," he said--it was the first time he had addressed her by her
name--"you are quite right, you are unhappy and I am partly to blame
for it. I ought to have been a wiser man, and never to have thought of
making you my wife. We are of different blood; you are in your element
when you are pretending to be something you are not. I--but why talk
about it? We know it all--we ought to have known it then; it would have
spared us much bitterness. And now, Lucie, you see I am not unjust; I
share the blame between us, just as I have borne my good half of the
misfortune. But shall it go on this way and make both of us wretched
all our lives? I have written all this to you. Why didn't you read my
letters better? We should now understand one another, and should be
able to conclude what still remains to be done in a more friendly
spirit."

"Your letters?" she said, suddenly drawing herself up and drying her
tears. "I read them only too well. I know that in and between the lines
there was but one thought: 'I will be free!--free at any price!' I
knew, too, who it was who dictated this thought to you; and now, since
I have made the personal acquaintance of this incomparable woman--no,
without sarcasm, which would be but childish defiance for one in my
situation--I understand perfectly that you would be willing to do
anything in order that you might throw yourself into such chains. But
to suppose that I, with my share of our common misfortune, as you call
it, will voluntarily step back and look on while you find happiness
according to your heart's desire--oh! you are excellent egotists, you
men!--but you should not be so _naïve_ as to think it a crime if we,
too, sometimes think a little about ourselves!"

His old aversion arose again as he listened to this well-calculated,
passionate speech. But he forced himself to be quiet.

"I have never tried to conceal from you," said he, "that I am now more
desirous than ever before for an absolute separation, because I wish to
enter into a new marriage. If you thought it was for your interest to
hinder this, if you wished to prevent me from ever again becoming a
happy man, then this would be comprehensible on your part, although it
would betray but little pride. But you ought to know me better. You
ought to know that I am terribly in earnest when I say my submission to
the fate that binds us together is at an end. I can--I _shall_ never
consent to let the malicious defiance of a woman cheat myself and her
whom I love of our happiness in life. I am determined to do _anything_
which can set me free. Do you hear it? To do _anything_. And for that
reason I say to you: name your price! I know very well that your desire
to feel that I am in your power, and the triumph of seeing me drag a
piece of the chain after me is dear to you. But even dearer things have
their price. Name yours; I will buy off your hate and your malice,
though to do it I had to work like a day-laborer from morning until
late into the night."

"I don't imagine that will be necessary. Your sweetheart is rich, I
hear. But you are mistaken. I am not covetous. Give me the child, and I
will never have known the father."

"Woman!" he cried, his whole being lashed into fury by the trick which
he immediately detected--"You are--"

But he controlled himself. He sank down a chair near the sofa, and
said, in a tone as if he were communicating something of the greatest
indifference to her:

"Very good. You remain untouched by words or prayers. But let me tell
you: I am as determined to set myself free as you can possibly be to
keep me forever in a state of wretched bondage. If you will consent to
a legal separation, you shall never have occasion to complain of me. I
will double what I have done for you heretofore; yes--I will guarantee
that you shall not lose this part enjoyment of my income even by any
second marriage you may be disposed to enter into. You smile and
pretend to be incredulous. Let us play an honest game. You are young
and beautiful; though I doubt whether you will ever find a man to whom
your heart will go forth. You may easily find a man who will seduce
your senses, and whose position will attract you, and then our account
would be at an end. If you resist this just compromise--"

She looked at him again with all her childish innocence, with that
smiling curiosity as though they had to do with a scene in a farce.

"Well--and then?" she asked.

"Then I will take every means in my power to ruin your life as you have
ruined mine. I will pursue you with my hate, no matter whither you may
flee, and dog your steps, do what you will to hinder! I know how you
live, and that you have neglected no chance to console yourself for the
loss of a husband. I have cast you out of my heart so entirely that I
did not feel the least shade of sorrow when you threw yourself away
upon whomsoever pleased you. But that shall be otherwise now. I will
put a spy on your track, whose only duty shall be to watch you every
step and movement, and to furnish me what I have hitherto lacked:
_proofs_ that you are trampling my honor as well as my happiness under
foot. Then I will openly step before the world and tear the mask from
your smooth face. Then I will--"

"You would do better to spare yourself the trouble," she interrupted,
coldly. "Since you are so good as to warn me, you will easily
understand that, even admitting I should feel any desire to be
indiscreet, I should take care to guard myself against spies. So you
would only throw away your money without gaining anything by it. For
such weak proof of my guilt toward you as a glove, that very likely the
doctor left lying in my chamber, and that an intelligent dog--_à
propos_! I am really sorry that I was the innocent cause of the loss of
your friend, though that keen judge of human nature did show as
unconquerable an aversion toward me as his master. Some other end would
undoubtedly have been preferred by you. At the same time, little as my
wretched life may be worth to you, and easier as it would be for you to
find a second wife than a second dog--"

"Woman!" he shrieked, driven furious by her impudent irony in this
terrible hour. "Not another word, or--"

"Or?"

She looked at him defiantly, as she rose and folded her arms.

"Or I will bring the matter to another end than you ever dreamed of,
and the carriage that you brought you here, you she-devil, laughing and
mocking at me with your pretty paramour, shall to-morrow--"

He raised his fist as if he were about to let it fall like a hammer on
her head. She returned his gaze without moving an eyelash.

"Murder me, if you have the heart to!" she said, coldly, with her lips
curled in scorn. "The comedy in which a dog has played such a splendid
_rôle_ would then end most fittingly as a tragedy, which would be
better, at all events, than a wretched reconciliation. As truly as I am
innocent of your madness and fury, so truly do I say that a more
undeserved disgrace was never heaped upon a helpless creature; that
happiness, honor, and future were never more ruthlessly--"

The door was thrown open. Felix, who had pushed back the listening
woman, thinking that the time had come to prevent an act of violence,
burst into the room and suddenly stood before the speaker. But scarcely
had she cast a look upon him than, with a shrill scream that went
through the very marrow of the men, she sank back, her arms as if
paralyzed by a sudden cramp, her features distorted, and in a state
that bore such unmistakable signs of truth that no thought of its being
some new deception was possible. Before Jansen had had time to collect
himself, the mother rushed in from the corridor and threw herself down
before her insensible daughter, who lay on the sofa with staring,
wide-open eyes, a vacant smile upon her lips, and hands hanging rigidly
at her side with the fingers spread wide apart.

"You have killed her!" cried the old woman, trying to lift the body,
which had half fallen to the ground, on to the cushions. "Help--save
her--bring water, vinegar--anything you have--Lucie--my poor
Lucie--don't you hear me? It is I! My God! My God! Must it come to
this!"

"It is a fainting-fit, nothing more!" Jansen's voice now broke in. "She
has had such fits before, especially after great exertion on the stage.
And to-day's scene--" his speech suddenly failed him. He had turned as
he spoke toward Felix, who stood in the middle of the room, his eyes
fixed immovably upon the figure of the insensible woman. It was as if
the lightning-bolt that had struck her had grazed him too. Not a limb
did he move, not a muscle stirred in his face; every drop of blood
seemed to have left his veins.

"Felix! For God's sake what ails you? What is it? do you hear me,
Felix?" cried Jansen, grasping his arm and pressing it tight.

Felix made a vain attempt to master himself again. But he could
not withdraw his gaze from the woman, who lay there as if dead.
He merely nodded a few times, as if to give a sign of life, and
heaved a deep sigh. Then he said, bringing out each word separately:
"So--that--is--your wife!"

"Felix!" cried Jansen, in a tone which betrayed a terrible suspicion.
"Felix--speak--no--say nothing--come out--we--we are in the way here--"

"So that--is--his wife!" repeated the other, as if talking to himself.
Suddenly he shook himself with a gesture of horror, broke loose from
his friend, and rushed out of the room with such terrible haste
as to cut off all chance for Jansen to detain him. They heard him,
immediately afterward, plunge down the stairs and fling the door to
behind him.

Jansen hurried to the window and threw it open. "Felix," he shouted
after him--"one word--just a single word!"

No sound came up from below. Only the wet snow drove in through the
open window, upon the head and breast of this sore-burdened man. He did
not notice it. He leaned against the window-sill to support himself,
and stood for perhaps ten minutes deaf and blind to all that went on
around him.

The old singer was trying, with continual moaning and laments, to bring
her insensible daughter back to life. She had produced a little flask
of some strong essence from her traveling-bag, and was bathing the
young woman's colorless cheeks and temples with it. Jansen had turned
his eyes upon the group, but he did so as if he took no notice of what
was being done for the lifeless figure. Not until she had made a slight
movement with her hand, that immediately dropped back again upon the
cushion, did he seem to recollect himself. He stepped away from the
window without closing it.

"Let the cold air come in," he said, in a low voice. "It is the best
way to bring her to herself again. Put some snow on her forehead; she
will open her eyes in a few moments. Tell her, then, that I have left
the house, and--that I shall leave her in peace. Goodnight!"

Her mother raised herself from her knees and sought to make some reply.
But when she saw his face she was silent, and merely nodded timidly and
servilely to all he said. She saw him go out of the room, and then
hastened again to the aid of her daughter, who was now breathing
heavily. She finally succeeded in raising her into a sitting position,
but the pale head fell back again on the arm of the sofa. Then she ran
to the window and brought a few handfuls of the snow that lay on the
sill outside. At length the insensible woman opened her eyes.

Her first, half-vacant gaze wandered over the room. After a while she
became thoroughly aroused, and moved her lips.

"Where is he?" she murmured.

Just at that moment they heard the hoof-beats of a horse galloping off.

"Do you hear?" whispered the mother. "He is just riding away. He won't
come again--he told me to wish you good-night, and he would leave you
alone. Oh! these men--Oh! these men! Poor, poor Lucie!"

The pale woman appeared even now not quite to understand. Her features
were still distorted in fear. She drew her mother nearer, and
whispered: "And the other--was it really he, or was it--his ghost?"

"What do you mean, child? Are you out of your head? But only keep
quiet--it's to be hoped we shall have a quiet night--oh! my God! What a
scene, what a catastrophe!"

She seized the cup of wine, and drank it out. Lucie paid no attention
to her.

A shudder passed over her. She closed her eyes anew. The convulsion
which had seized upon her now lapsed into a violent sobbing, which her
mother, who had seen her before in such a fit, allowed to take its
course without making any attempt to waste further words in
consolation.



                              CHAPTER XI.


We must return to the morning of this day, in order to take up the
threads out of which the dark web of these events was spun.

Julie, after having twice sought in vain for her friend at his studio,
had found it impossible, in the anxious state of her heart, to stay
quietly at home. She went to Irene's, for she had found Angelica, who
had not closed her eyes all night, sunk in a deep sleep. She felt
herself greatly drawn toward the Fräulein, though she had seen her
yesterday for the first time; all the more as Irene, too, was as little
able as all the others to withstand the charm of Julie's character, and
had attached herself to her with a warmth that appeared doubly great in
contrast to her usual coy reserve. It had not been long, thanks to the
freedom of the masquerade, before they stood on so familiar a footing
as to call each other "Du;" and the startling incident that drove
Jansen away from the ball so early had broken down the last trace of
reserve in the friendship between them. They had remained together for
a few hours longer. Julie, to whom Jansen had disclosed in a single
word the mystery of the strange mask, had made no secret of the matter
to her friends, among whom Irene was now counted.

She herself, while taking the occurrence greatly to heart, saw at once
how much nearer the final crisis it had brought her. But the thought
that she must leave him to fight out alone the battle that could not be
avoided, was torture to her.

She wanted at least to be near him, to know every hour what he was
doing, and, if it should be necessary, to be ready to restrain him from
taking any violent steps. His withdrawing from her--although she knew
that he had only done it to spare her--gave her great pain, and she
felt now as if she knew for the first time how much she loved him.

In this mood she presented herself before Irene, who received her most
tenderly. Felix, who had taken occasion to call as early as possible in
the morning, had just taken his leave again, and the eyes and cheeks of
the girl still glowed with the happiness of their reunion. The two
friends had so much to confide to one another that they did not notice
how the hours slipped by, and were very much surprised when the uncle,
who, as a rule, never appeared before dinner-time, entered the room.
Irene introduced him to Julie, and would not listen to such a thing as
her going home to dinner.

The baron seconded her in her hospitable entreaties in his usual
chivalrous manner; though he seemed not to be in as good spirits as was
usual when he found himself in the presence of a beautiful lady. During
the meal, also, he was noticeably depressed and preoccupied, keeping
remarkably silent for him, sighing a great deal, and complaining of old
age, which must overtake even the youngest uncles at last. Then again
he would try to laugh, or tell one of his old _bonmots_; but he soon
relapsed anew into a droll kind of melancholy, in which he railed at
the uncertain lot of humanity and the mysteries of an irresponsible
Providence.

When, after dinner, Irene was called out of the room by a chance caller
whom she hoped quickly to get rid of, and the baron was left alone with
Julie, he suddenly appeared to have gone fairly crazy. He sprang up,
thrust his hands through his thin hair, plucked at his beard, took a
cigar--which he immediately laid down again--and finally drew up his
chair close to the sofa, where Julie was seated.

"Fräulein Julie," he said, with a deep sigh, "you will think it
strange, but I can't help myself; will you hear me for ten minutes on a
very serious matter, and then give me your advice and, if possible,
your support?"

She looked at him in amazement, but nodded kindly.

"A terribly bad story," he continued; "though, for that matter, a story
that is not without a parallel in this imperfect world of ours, and
one that ought not, by good rights, to break the heart of an old
lion-hunter. But the worst of it is, it so happens that I can turn to
no one for advice and aid, except to a young lady whose delightful
acquaintance I made but an hour ago. Now, my honored Fräulein, if I
only knew of some married woman, or some respectable elderly lady, in
whom I had confidence--truly, I would spare you and myself the
embarrassment of having to talk to you about the old sins of my youth.
But in all this circle--all bachelors and single women--you will
understand, my dear Fräulein--"

"Speak out boldly, Herr Baron; I am thirty-one years old."

"No, my dear Fräulein, the baptismal certificate has nothing to do with
this question; and, although I have the greatest respect for you--you
are still far removed from the canonical age of a person inspiring
respect. But I have learned, through my brother-in-arms Schnetz, how
universally you are honored in Bohemia--pardon the expression, I mean
in the so-called society of Paradise--and that it only needs a word
from you to straighten out much more complicated affairs than this of
mine.

"Perhaps you do not yet know--that is to say, you have undoubtedly
known for a long time--for your talented friends do not generally keep
secrets from one another--in short, I have a daughter--'Have her while
she is mine,' as Polonius says--a daughter, of whose existence I had no
suspicion until recently. Upon the discovery of my fathership I knocked
at my heart, and waited to hear whether the so-called voice of Nature
within would awaken. _Pas le mains du monde._ You will find this
inhuman. But remember that I did not lead a worse life in this good
town than was the fashion at that time, and that this adventure came
half-way to meet me--I wish to throw no shadow either upon the girl or
her parents--_enfin_, they were very cordial with me, and I, in return,
possibly went too far. A few years afterward, I felt something like a
gentle gnawing in my left side, where one is supposed to carry his
conscience. As it did not subside, I wrote to this place in order to
inquire, as a friend of the family, after the health of its different
members. The letter was returned by the post, as the address could not
be found.

"Now, looked at from a strictly moral point of view, I ought not to
have felt, even after this, that I had justified myself. But what would
you have? My contact with the king of the desert had somewhat hardened
my skin, and the before-mentioned gnawing ceased. The girl had never
been exactly what you would call beautiful, but was very attractive
because of her freshness, her free nature, her merry laughter from a
mouth of magnificent teeth. You know complexions of that kind have
something especially dangerous about them for our weaker sex. To be
brief, she had, in spite of all this, completely passed out of my
memory until I saw her again to-day in her daughter--pardon, in our
daughter, I meant to say."

"You sought out the girl? And how did the poor child receive you?"

"As badly as ever a child could receive its long-lost father. You can
imagine, dear Fräulein, that it was no easy mission for me to fulfill.
A man cuts such a wretched figure in the character of the repentant
father, who, at the very first meeting with his grown-up daughter, is
obliged to beg her pardon for having totally forgotten her. But there
are sour apples into which one would rather bite than let himself be
bitten by his conscience. I assumed a fatherly, venerable mien, and,
when I entered the room where the girl was, and recognized in her her
dead mother--as if the resemblance had been stolen from a mirror--I can
assure you that at last the voice of Nature asserted itself. But
scarcely had I introduced myself, with the necessary delicacy,
to the unsuspecting child as one who had certain sacred, though
long-neglected, rights to her childish affection, when the strange
creature springs up like a little fury, and flies into the adjoining
room. Now I ask you, my dear Fräulein, is a father who wishes to make
good his faults a monster from whom one ought to run away? I stood
there as if rooted to the spot; and, as soon as I recovered from my
surprise, I did my best to conciliate my daughter through the bolted
door. I spoke the kindest words to her, and promised her anything in
the world if she would only be sensible and let me talk to her; and,
truly, I must have succeeded in the end--the voice of Nature must
finally have awakened even in her young bosom--when suddenly the old
gentleman--my _quasi_ father-in-law--entered the room. Would you
believe it? this white-haired old man, instead of coming to my aid with
the wisdom of a grandfather, suddenly becomes as wild and unreasonable
as a youth, says the most incredible things to my very face, and while
I, out of respect for his gray hairs and lost in astonishment, am at a
loss what to answer, he takes me _sans façon_ by the arm and leads me
to the door, which he slams after me like a clap of thunder."

The energy with which he had related all this seemed suddenly to have
taken away his breath. He sprang up, threw open the window, and took a
few deep draughts of the cold winter air; then, burying his hands deep
in the pockets of his short coat, he walked slowly back to where Julie
was sitting.

"You must admit, my dear Fräulein," he said, "that this brutal
reception was well calculated to silence the voice of Nature once more.
This old--but no! He is right; if I had been in his place, and my
son-in-law had taken twenty years to make up his mind to stammer out
his _peccavi_, I should probably have been even less ceremonious, and
have simply kicked the fellow down-stairs, even if I had done nothing
worse to him. But still, as you can easily imagine, this encounter
rather shattered me."

He threw himself into the chair again, sighed like a man in utter
desperation, and ran his hands through his hair.

"And how can I help or advise you, Herr Baron?" asked Julie, after a
pause. "It seems to me there is nothing left for you to do but to write
to Herr Schoepf and to your daughter, and tell them by letter what they
would neither of them listen to in their first excitement."

"Pardon, my dear Fräulein, that wouldn't do much good. These two mad
beings would not treat my letters any better than they did their
author. And yet, you will understand that I cannot rest content when my
father-in-law and my daughter have turned me out-of-doors. I must atone
for my old crime so far as such a thing is possible at this late day.
For me, in my years and circumstances, to suddenly long for paternal
joys, to receive this girl into my bachelor's quarters, and to
introduce her to society as a young baroness--I, who have already had
such a hard time with one grown-up daughter, by whom I am forced to let
myself be ordered about--would be the height of the ridiculous: to say
nothing of the fact that I doubt very much whether I should ever be
able to tame this red-maned lioness. But, on the other hand, Father
Schoepf, as he now calls himself, is no longer one of the youngest men
in the world; and, aside from that, by no means a Cr[oe]sus. If the
child stays with him, who knows but what she, too, will fall into bad
hands, like her poor mother? And in case she should remain a good
girl--you know, my dear Fräulein, that virtue as a sole dowry is not
particularly in demand nowadays. I want, therefore, to secure for my
daughter--whether she acknowledges me or not--a respectable marriage
portion; not merely a dowry--it must be known that Fräulein Schoepf
possesses in her own right so and so much property. Now, you see, my
dear Fräulein, only such a soft and winning voice as yours can succeed
in persuading Father Schoepf to consent to such an arrangement, which
is so greatly for the interest of the child. Now, if I should send
Schnetz to him, he would, if he had to deal with a man, fire up about
his ridiculous manly honor, and the end of the story would be that
Schnetz would likewise be shown the door. But you, if you will only
consent--and why shouldn't you consent?--may even succeed in the end in
inspiring this wild creature, my own flesh and blood, with some
human emotion; so that she will feel for her papa, who really is no
monster--but stop! the visit in the next room is over. Not a word of
this to Irene. Promise me this. May I depend on you?"

He reached her both his hands across the table with such a true-hearted
and, at the same time, comically-crushed manner, that she did not
hesitate for a moment to close the bargain. In a second his mood seemed
to have gone through a complete transformation. He sprang up, bent over
her hand, which he eagerly kissed, and began to hum a tune and to light
a cigar, talking all the while about the masked ball of the night
before. His niece, when she entered again, laughingly asked what magic
charm her beautiful friend had been using in her absence, to dispel so
completely her dear uncle's melancholy mood.

Julie smiled and answered that people ought not to laugh at the secrets
of magic, and the baron acted as though nothing at all had happened.
Then the two friends took leave of one another. Julie was anxious to
see Jansen again, whom she confidently hoped to find in his studio at
this hour. But on the stairs, to which the baron escorted her, she
whispered to him:

"Why don't you want to let Irene into the secret? Unless I am very much
mistaken, she already knows the first half; you owe it to her to tell
her the other half, which truly does you honor."

"Do you think so?" answered the baron. "Irene have a suspicion? Good
God, these young girls nowadays! One takes great credit to one's self
for the profound innocence and ignorance in which one has brought them
up, and they are wiser than we ourselves! Well, then, in Heaven's name!
one sour apple more; my teeth are yet on edge from the first one."

He kissed Julie's hand once more and returned, sighing, to his niece.



                              CHAPTER XII.


Julie went slowly and thoughtfully down the stairs. The moment she was
alone, all in which she had just taken part sank into the background
before the one thought how it fared with her friend, how he had passed
the day, and what might have occurred between him and his wife, who
held his fate in her hands. She reproached herself for having let her
visit detain her so long. It is true he did not generally come until
evening. But what if he had sought her out earlier to-day?--what if he
had had some news to give her, or had needed her advice or consent? A
cold shudder passed over her at the dreadful thought!

As if to make up for lost time, she hastened down the remaining steps.
But, upon reaching the landing of the first floor, she involuntarily
stopped. A very strange kind of music issued from one of the
neighboring doors. This was Nelida's _salon_; the waiter who had taken
her to Irene had told her so. The piano within, which only skillful
hands were generally allowed to touch, seemed to have fallen into the
hands of a maniac, who cared more for making noise than music, or who
was trying to test the instrument's power of resistance.

But, rising above all this stormy _charivari_ of the keys, what noise
was that? Did her ears deceive her, or did she really hear a child's
voice that pierced to her very heart? Greatly excited, she advanced a
few steps toward the nearest door; now she heard it more plainly--the
sobbing of a child, that ceased for a moment only to begin again
immediately afterward. Was it possible? Did she know that voice? She
approached her ear to the door and discovered that the crying child
must be in one of the side rooms, to which there was no separate
entrance from the corridor. A few seconds more and the last doubt
vanished. Without taking time for reflection, without knocking, she
opened the door and stepped into the narrow hall between Nelida's
_salon_ and bedroom.

The doors of both the adjoining rooms stood half open. In the _salon_
sat Stephanopulos before the piano, improvising like a madman with the
most utter disregard of harmony, for he had been his own teacher on the
piano. He did not notice Julie, but went on abusing the keys. It was
not clear whether he was doing this in order to drown the noise of the
crying, or to divert the distressed child's thoughts. For through the
other door Julie now unmistakably heard the sobbing of little Frances,
and the voice of a woman trying to soothe and comfort her. But before
she had time to enter, an elderly lady, in hat and shawl, appeared on
the threshold.

"Is it you, Nanette?" cried the old singer. "Is the carriage ready? Are
the trunks strapped on? It's high time. The child--Good God!--what is
this? You here?"

Julie did not give her time to slam the door and bolt it. She hastily
pushed past the astonished woman, and entered the sleeping-chamber.

She was received with a cry of fright. Before a table, on which were
piled all sorts of presents, flowers, cakes, and toys, as if for a
birthday celebration, stood the child, a big doll in one arm and a
paper of candy in the other, but weeping as bitterly all the while as
if these presents had been given her as a punishment. A woman, still
young but past her first youth, knelt on the carpet beside her, her
soft face bent down over the curly head of the child, apparently doing
all in her power to quiet the little creature. But now she sprang to
her feet and stared at Julie as if she had been a ghost.

The countess lay stretched out on a sofa, in the back part of the room,
holding in her hand a newspaper, that fell into her lap when she
suddenly became aware of this unexpected caller, who was now standing
in the middle of the chamber.

The next moment the child let everything it had in its arms fall on the
carpet, and, uttering a loud cry of joy, rushed into Julie's arms.

"Have you come at last, my dear, beautiful mamma? What made you come so
late? I was so frightened here all alone! Are we really going now to
Auntie Angelica? Or will you take me to papa?"

She clung fast to her protectress, who found it hard to quiet her. Her
little face was wet with tears, and she trembled in every limb.

The countess raised herself upon her couch.

"To what do I owe this honor, Fräulein?" she said, in a trembling
voice.

Julie released herself from the child's arms, and looked the questioner
calmly in the face.

"I ought to excuse myself, countess," she said, "for coming here
unannounced. However, the manner in which I am received relieves me
from this formal courtesy. In passing by outside I heard a child
crying, and recognized to my amazement and alarm Frances's voice. Her
foster-mother and her father, who evidently do not know where the child
is, will be alarmed about her. Pardon me if I take my leave with as
little formality as I came. Come, Frances, let us go. What have you
done with your hat and little cloak?"

She had had difficulty in uttering the first words, she was so agitated
by her indignation. But the sound of her own voice gave her back her
self-control. She felt herself, all at once, to be perfectly at ease
and a match for all hostility.

The piano-playing had suddenly ceased, and in the room itself the
stillness of death ensued, broken only by little Frances, who ran to
the lounge where her wraps were lying.

The young woman took a step toward Julie. Her face, but slightly
flushed, appeared quite composed, and neither hate nor fear spoke from
her eyes.

"I must introduce myself to you, Fräulein," she said, with her soft
voice. "I am Frau Lucie Jansen, the mother of this dear child. From
this you will understand--"

"Is that true, mamma Julie?" the child interrupted. "Is the woman
really papa's wife, as she says? But papa hasn't any wife; he had one
once, but she is dead this long time, and I haven't any other mother
but my good foster-mother and my beautiful mamma Julie. I don't want to
have any other mother, and I don't want any presents from her--I only
want to go away! You must take me away. I--I--"

She began to cry again, dropped her little cloak, and running back to
Julie threw her arms round her neck and sobbed bitterly.

"Be quiet, Frances dear," Julie whispered to her. "We will go away to
your father. You can ask him; he will tell you all that I can't
tell you here. Come, be a good child--be my brave, sensible little
Frances--"

"I must confess that this is the most extraordinary proceeding I ever
heard of," said the countess, in a loud but perfectly indifferent
voice. "Such language from such a mouth--_une femme entretenue qui ne
rougit pas de vouloir enlever un enfant à la mère légitime_--"

"Countess," interrupted Julie, likewise raising her voice, "you said
that in French; that relieves me from the disagreeable necessity of
giving you the plain German answer that such an insult deserves--an
insult which you yourself know to be false. Besides, I haven't to do
with you, although you have permitted your rooms to be the theatre of
this intrigue. I merely have to reply to the mother that I have a right
to this child, a right that was voluntarily given me by its father, and
that I certainly regret having to make use of this right in opposition
to one who might have appealed to a holy right of Nature, had she not
of her own accord relinquished it. You wished to steal the child from
the father, and I, the betrothed of your former husband, fulfill only
my motherly duty when I resist such a robbery. Get ready, Frances; we
have nothing more to do here."

The face of the young woman had grown deadly pale, her soft eyes
flashed fire, and she ground her little white teeth so that the sound
was plainly audible.

"You allow yourself," she said, "to judge of circumstances you do not
understand, that have never been told you except in a one-sided and
distorted way. I have never renounced my natural right to call this
child mine; I have merely been obliged to yield for a time to force,
and I have always secretly hoped that time would come to my aid, that
the father of my darling would acknowledge the deep wrong he had done
me, and that the separation would tend to soften him. And who knows
that this would not have come about had you not stepped in between us?
Now, to be sure, that things have gone so far, there is no longer any
hope of settling the matter amicably. If I would have back what belongs
to me by sacred rights I was obliged to steal it as if it had been the
property of another; and how hard it will be for me to make it mine
again I have already discovered to my sorrow, for they have estranged
the heart of this poor, motherless creature from its most natural home.
Nevertheless, I will not cease to proclaim my right to the child and to
its father. Why do you stand in the way of a deeply-injured woman, a
robbed mother? Don't pretend you really care anything about becoming my
successor to the child, as you have become to the father. Skillfully as
you now play the _rôle_ of the tender mother, in your heart you will be
grateful to me if I relieve you of this burdensome duty; and he too,
the most fickle of men--believe me, if he only had a reasonable pretext
before the world, he would console himself in your possession, and
would rejoice that I had been so good-natured as to have removed from
his sight, without his express consent, the remembrance of an old
guilt!"

She made a movement as if to draw the child to her arms, but it only
clung the tighter to Julie.

"Take me away," it whispered to her, in a low voice. "Let us go
away--to dear papa--I don't want to go to that woman again."

Julie stroked the little head, and pressed it to her side. She covered
the child's ears so thickly with its soft hair that not a word of all
this sad and bitter talk could reach its young soul.

"Thank you," she said, "you have drawn a thorn from my conscience by
these disclosures. 'Perhaps, after all, he did her an injustice,' I
said to myself. 'Perhaps he was too violent, too hasty; and even if she
has been guilty of a great sin toward him, is it not punishment enough
that the mother has been deprived of her child for so many years? And
can I answer for it to this child for having forever destroyed all
hopes of a reconciliation between her parents?' This often gave me some
misgivings; but I candidly confess to you, from this day forth my
conscience will be easy on that score. No matter what you may say in
order to palliate what you have done, you cannot have the only real
justification, a true and genuine love for your child; if you did, how
could you entertain the thought that I would be glad to get rid of her?
Such a thing could only be said and believed by a woman who let five
years pass away without once trying to see, at any cost, the child she
had borne; and who never even waited in the streets that she might have
a chance to press it to her heart and kiss it once again. Such a
thought could only be entertained by the woman who believed that the
father of this child was capable of sacrificing it to his new-born
happiness, and would look on with indifference while it pined and
languished for want of a true mother's love. And you reproach me for
having plighted my troth to this man who never belonged to you, for you
never understood him, and never knew his worth, his nobility, and his
greatness. You may do your best to destroy his happiness and to
undermine his peace by your petty acts; in _this_ plot you have failed,
and, for the future, we shall take better care of ourselves and of the
child. You have given us warning!"

She did not wait few an answer to these words, which she poured forth
in ever-increasing excitement. Before the women could collect their
thoughts and interfere she had seized little Frances's hat and cloak,
had put them on the child, and had borne her away in her arms.

The moment she had gone, Stephanopulos entered the room with a nervous
laugh.

"_Quelle femme!_" he said. "_Elle nous a joliment mis dedans._"

"Angelos," commanded the countess, "go after her! She is perfectly
capable of seating herself in the carriage that stands before the door
and riding home in it. We need the carriage. There is no time to lose."

"But, my dear countess, I don't understand. What is the use now?--and
you, madame--"

He approached Lucie, who had sunk down on the lounge in speechless
stupor.

"Don't be a child, Angelos!" said the countess, excitedly. "What is
there about it you don't understand? The game is lost! To be sure, if
it had only been played somewhat better--"

"What would you have?" retorted the young woman, in an irritated tone.
"Didn't we do everything you advised us? If it hadn't been for this
horrible incident, everything would have turned out well. I should have
carried off the child, and by doing so have proved to the world that I
knew myself to be innocent, that I would not quietly submit to
everything they chose to put upon me, and that I had the courage to
defend myself against the incredible insults--"

"Calm yourself, my good friend!" said Nelida, decisively. "Why should
we go on with a comedy that deludes no one? Enough, _le coup a manqué!_
We must take care that the recoil does not strike you. The journey
which you intended to take with the child you must take alone. Or,
don't you think that your husband will do all in his power to make you
suffer for the mere attempt, if he hears--"

"He will rage like a tiger!" cried Stephanopulos. "I once saw a little
specimen of his rage when a hostler whipped a cart-horse until the
animal fell to the ground. He sprang upon the man and would have torn
him in pieces if we had not interfered. The countess is right--you must
fly; of course I will accompany you, until you are in safety."

The old singer, who had kept herself in the background during the whole
scene, now stepped forward and zealously joined in urging flight. Lucie
let her have her way without moving a finger.

In ten minutes all was ready; the carriage rolled away from the house,
and Nelida dragged herself to the window and stood gazing after them.

The young Greek leaned out of the carriage, and nodded a last farewell.

"_Bon voyage!_" said the solitary woman, carelessly returning the
salutation. "So this episode is played out, too! Poor creature--totally
without _élan_ in good or bad. And yet I pity her. To have been the
wife of this man, and now to have sunk so low as to have to be glad
when an insignificant young-- And I?--what is the end of it all? To
grow old and ugly--always older and uglier--the last spark dies out,
and finally the heart is buried beneath the ashes of its own passions.
A hell on earth! I would give the rest of my life to be, just for a
single year, as beautiful as this Julie--to be so loved, and by _this
man!_"



                             CHAPTER XIII.


Holding the delicate little figure clasped close to her breast, Julie
had hurriedly carried the child down the stairs. She felt as if she
were in an intoxication of indignation, contempt, defiance, and
triumph; her lips, which touched the child's locks, trembled, and her
heart beat so that she could hardly draw her breath. It was not until
she had reached the lower hall, and saw the eyes of the hotel people
fixed upon her, that she recovered her composure again, and letting
little Frances slide down on her feet she fastened on her hat and cloak
for her. The child had not spoken a word thus far. But now, when she
saw the traveling carriage standing packed and ready before the door,
she clung tight to Julie again, begging in a low voice that they should
hurry away. She seemed to fear that they would stop her even now, and
drive off with her in the carriage. Julie quieted her, ordered a drosky
to be called, and told the driver to drive home.

They sat nestled close up to one another, and were silent. Once only
the child turned to her protectress and asked:

"Will she travel off without me now?"

"Don't think any more about it," Julie answered, kissing her on the
forehead. "You are with me now. Are you happy?"

The child nodded and stroked Julie's hand. But one could see from her
eyes that her thoughts were still busy with what had passed.

When they reached home Julie found a note, which Fridolin had brought,
containing a few lines from Jansen, written in pencil. He hoped he
should be able to see her before the day was over, and she mustn't feel
any anxiety about him. This made her very happy. She decided to let him
find his child with her, particularly as the weather was raw and it did
not seem advisable to put Frances, who was feverish from weeping, into
a damp drosky again. So she sent old Erich to the foster-mother, with a
note in which she asked permission to keep the little one with her
overnight. She wanted to do this, she said, in order to surprise the
father; and having dispatched the letter she enjoyed herself playing
with the child, whose affections she now felt as if she had thoroughly
won and deserved. She made a cup of chocolate, and looked on while it
eagerly drank it; for it had not touched the sweetmeats Lucie had given
it.

She acknowledged such an evident interposition of friendly powers in
all that she had just passed through, and the good gods seemed to have
taken the part of her love and hopes so earnestly, that she had no
doubt but what the remaining difficulties would be also satisfactorily
solved.

In this opinion she was shaken, though only for a moment, by the news
Frances's foster-mother brought. That good woman was still full of the
fright that had been caused by the supposed abduction of the child, and
had no sooner received Erich's message than she set out to convince
herself with her own eyes that at all events the worst had not
happened, and that little Frances was in safety. The excitement of the
last few hours, the self-reproach she felt, and the thought of the
consequences that might follow, had so worked upon her that, at the
sight of the child smiling a welcome to her, she burst into tears and
could with difficulty be quieted. As for the permission, she said she
no longer had any right whatsoever to give such a thing, now that it
appeared that the child had not been safe from such an invasion under
her own roof; and if the father should withdraw all his confidence from
her she felt she would have no right to complain.

"Let me have her just for this night," Julie begged. "I have a
presentiment that Jansen must return to-night, and then he will be so
rejoiced to find us together. After to-morrow, you shall once more
enjoy your mother's privileges without stint, until I take your place
with still better rights."

But her presentiment deceived her.

The child was put to bed early, and, with its head resting on Julie's
pillow, had long since dropped off to sleep in the midst of a loving
chat with its "beautiful mamma." Julie sat and listened to the storm,
starting to her feet every time she heard a man's step approach the
house. But the hours slipped by, and she remained alone. At last, about
midnight, she gave up all hope. She dismissed her old servant,
noiselessly undressed herself, and lay down on the bed by the side of
the sleeping child. It was long before she closed her eyes.

When she awoke next morning her little bedfellow soon roused herself,
and was very much surprised not to find herself in her accustomed
place. The preceding day, with its adventures, only floated before her
like a confused dream. She had a strange dislike to asking Julie how it
had all come about, but allowed Julie to dress her, amid much petting
and caressing, and to carry her home. Julie herself was depressed, and
felt her confidence in the helping powers of fate much shaken. She
resigned little Frances to the foster-mother, and then immediately
started for the studio.

The weather had cleared, and a warm though pale winter sun shone down
upon the streets, covered with a thin layer of snow. The long walk did
Julie good. When she finally reached the house, her cheeks were
glowing, her blood was quickened, and her spirits had recovered their
former confidence. She was, therefore, all the more alarmed to find
four well-known figures in the courtyard, all of whom greeted her with
a look of profound distress--Angelica, Rosenbusch, Kohle, and Fridolin,
the janitor. They were standing in a group, and appeared to be eagerly
discussing something, when Julie's sudden arrival frightened them
apart.

"What has happened?" she cried to them. "Has he returned? For God's
sake, what has happened?"

"Dear Fräulein," said Rosenbusch, who was the first to stammer out an
answer, "we know as little as you what has happened; but he has
returned, and last night too, and not very late either; he gave back
his horse to the stable-keeper himself; or, at all events, when I
inquired about it early this morning, the two animals stood in the
stalls, but the hostlers knew nothing of their riders. 'Well,' thought
I to myself, 'that affair passed off better than we had a right to
expect,' and hurried over here. But when I asked Fridolin, he knew
nothing except that the 'professor' must have returned, for he had not
been able to open the door of the studio; the key was inside, and he
had received no answer to his knocking. In the mean time, as the sun
rose quite high, I thought he certainly must have slept enough, and I
also knocked and gave him good-morning through the keyhole. No answer.
The marble-cutters, who wanted to get into the saints' studio, found
the door locked likewise; and after waiting for a time, they went away
again. As time went on I began to think there was something very odd
about it all. So I climbed up to the window on the garden side, and
looked into the ateliers--first into his own. Everything there was in
the best of order, only there was no trace of him. So I climbed down
again, and then up to the other window--well, in there things looked
oddly enough. Just picture it, Fräulein: all his worthy saints, with
the exception of the models which he had made himself, were smashed
into fragments; and what was worse than all, in the midst of all this
wreck I saw him--our poor friend--stretched out on the floor as if he
were lying on the softest mattress; don't be frightened, Fräulein, he
is alive and conscious, but so tired apparently that he cannot even
rouse himself enough to go into the other studio and lie down on the
sofa. For, upon my beating a most devilish reveille upon the closed
window and shouting out his name, he raised himself half up, made a
motion with his hand for me to leave him in peace, and then sank back
again on the heap of fragments, with nothing under his head but a
corner of his cloak."

He broke off, as he saw Julie turn away hastily and hasten toward the
building. Angelica was about to follow, but she made a sign that she
wanted to go alone, and hurriedly entered the house.

Inside, she listened for a moment at the door of the "saint-factory;"
as all was quiet she knocked with a trembling hand and called Jansen's
name. Immediately after the door opened, and he stood before her.

He was wrapped in his cloak, his hair hung disheveled about his
temples, all the blood seemed to have left his face, and his eyes had
neither a wild nor a sad look; but their tired, wandering gaze pained
Julie more than the most passionate excitement.

"It is you!" he said. "You are a little too early for me. I, as you
see--won't you come in? To be sure, it doesn't look very inviting
here--I have been clearing out a little, and because I did it in the
dark--"

She had to exert all her strength in order to cast an apparently
composed look around the room.

"What harm have these innocent figures done you?" she asked, closing
the door behind her.

"Innocent?--ha, ha! They only pretend to be so. In reality they all
have the devil in them, in spite of their saints' halo. Not a single
one of them is really innocent. I ought to know that best, for I made
them. And I tell you, the reflection from the snow outside made it
bright enough for me to see the lie grinning from these stupid faces.
So I made an end of it and smashed them all to bits--another lie wiped
out of the world. I have been doing things by halves long enough; the
other half always avenges itself. Now I feel better again, especially
since I have seen you."

He pressed her hand: his voice sounded hoarse and strained; his eyes
were bloodshot. She had to forcibly keep down her tears, as she stepped
over the wreck upon the floor.

"I am glad that it all lies behind you now," she said. "I can feel with
you how it must pain you to make something in which your whole heart is
not interested. But come away from this destruction. We will make a
fire in the studio, and talk. Did you know that little Frances spent
the night with me? The darling child! It was hard for me to give her
back to the foster-mother. But then it won't be for long now."

He made no answer, but submissively allowed himself to be led away
without raising his eyes from the ground. While she kindled the fire,
he sat on the sofa, his arms hanging down between his knees, and began
to hum a tune as if in accompaniment to the music made by the crackling
flames in the iron stove. He did not appear to notice that she had
again stepped to his side. It was not until she bent over, threw her
arms round his neck, and, with the tears streaming down her face,
kissed him again and again, that he became conscious of what was
passing; and, even then, he seemed to see everything as if through a
mist.

"What are you crying for?" he asked, in surprise. "Am I not quite
cheerful and sensible? You, surely, are not afraid of me? Don't be
afraid, the worst is over. Last night, it is true, if any one had said
to me, 'Stamp with your foot on the ground and the whole world will
fall in ruins and bury you and all that is good and beautiful,' I
believe I would have done it. Well, those poor innocents there had to
bear the brunt of my fury; and now a little child might lead me by a
string."

"Won't you tell me how it all happened?"

"What would be the use? It is vile. It's bad enough that two persons
know of it besides myself. Besides, it can't be changed. Don't you know
that you must never draw the iron out of the wound unless you want the
man to bleed to death? What time is it? Is it evening or morning? I
believe I am hungry. The animal in man is immortal, and outlives all
the nobler impulses. Pardon me for talking so. The words fall from my
lips; I cannot hold them back."

"I will go up to Angelica's room--she always has a little supply on
hand--or shall we go to my house?"

"No matter about it. I feel a disgust for all food. Hunger and disgust
at the same time--a fine outlook for life! But it's no wonder. When one
has nourished himself with something that appears perfectly innocent,
and suddenly discovers that it has been gathered from the vilest
refuse--"

She seated herself beside him on the sofa, and laid her arm on his
shoulder; but he seemed to be quite unmoved by her touch, though
usually her slightest caress would fairly intoxicate him.

"You must tell me all!" she whispered, stroking his rigid face, while
the tears rolled down her cheeks. "Are we not one? Is not your life
mine, just as everything I am and have belongs to you? And yet you
would keep something from me, because it might give me pain! I demand
my full half of your pain, or I shall begin to doubt whether I was ever
anything more to you than a living picture in which your eyes found
pleasure."

He slowly shook his head. "I must make an end of that, too," he said,
as if to himself. "I must have done with this half-way work. But that
pains me more; and it is not the beautiful image that must be dashed to
pieces, but he who moulded it out of clay. Ha, ha! As if it did not
follow that everything which comes from the earth must go back to the
earth again. A fine thought that, a truly charming prospect--ha, ha!"

"Speak sensibly, dearest! Now I can't understand a word."

"Well, then, to speak sensibly, I must go away--the sooner the better.
Do you understand what that means? I, myself--to tell the truth--I
don't quite understand it yet; but that comes from my weariness. As
soon as I have had a good sleep--"

"Go away! And why go away? And where to?"

"Why? You ask strange questions, dearest. As if we ever knew why we
live, why the sun shines on us today and to-morrow the storm rages. And
where it whirls us to--what matters it? Do you believe that any spot
will be dearer to me than another where I have to do without you?"

"Without me? You are raving! O my God!--the--but I am crazy to let
myself be frightened by anything so--so impossible!"

"Yes, yes!" he said, in a hollow voice, and with a bitter smile;
"impossible. So many things seem to us, until those two great
magicians, chance and crime, complete the trick, and make the
impossible only too actual. I candidly confess to you that, when my
sound reason leaves me for a moment, I also hear a voice within me
crying: 'It is impossible!' And yet it must be so--and we can do
nothing but kick our bleeding heels against the thorns of fate. What is
the matter with you all at once? You have let your arm fall from my
shoulder. Are you angry with me, poor woman, because I am a beaten man?
Say yourself what is there left for us to do but to renounce and
despair? Because I am so quiet with it all, do you think I have grown
cold overnight? But it is only, as I said, because all strength has
left me; even the strength to feel the deadliest pains. Let me sleep an
hour, and then you will be satisfied with the pitiable way in which my
heart will behave."

He attempted to rise, but sank back again on his couch. Just at
this moment a knock was heard. They heard Angelica's voice on the
landing-place outside: "Only a word, Julie; I have something to give
you."

Julie arose, and opened the door. Immediately she returned to Jansen,
who sat there perfectly indifferent, bearing a letter in her hand.

"It is for you," she said. "It is Felix's handwriting. Will you open
it? I think you had better first go home with me and rest awhile, and
try to eat and sleep. You must have pretty well talked over everything
last night, so that it is hardly probable the letter can contain
anything new or important."

"Do you think so?" he said, in a peculiar tone. "Because we were
friends, I suppose you think that each of us must know all about the
other. Well, then, my poor darling, open the letter yourself, and you
will get at the tricks by which chance has made the impossible
possible. Read it, read it whatever it is, it can't tell me anything
more that is worth knowing!"

Breathlessly, she tore open the envelope; and standing at the window,
leaning her trembling figure against the sill for support, she read the
following lines.



                              CHAPTER XIV.


                            FELIX TO JANSEN.

"We parted so strangely, yesterday. Under the first shock of the
blow I ran away as if I had been blind and mad. As if one could
escape the mockery of hell in one's own breast! When I realized this,
I turned back. I should have been glad to have surrendered myself to
you--unconditionally--that very night. But you had already ridden away,
and the others had chosen to leave the house and hurry off by the night
train. Thus I am left here undisturbed, to come to my senses, and to
write you a long letter--to which I can expect no answer.

"After all, what could you say to me? For we are parted again--we are
separated, after all. And the case is so terribly clear, that it makes
all explanation and discussion superfluous. Why, then, should I waste
so much paper? and even go out of my way to give an explanation at
which one scarcely knows whether he ought to laugh or weep?

"But I owe it to you--no, not to you; for, at bottom, I did not sin
against you but against myself; and my confession, about which you will
perhaps care little, is merely a relief to that self, which I hope you
will grant me for the sake of our old friendship. I will try to be as
brief as possible.

"You know how, just before my father died, I was sent to a
watering-place; and how I twice passed through the city where you
lived--the first time on my journey there, by way of Holland, where I
had business to attend to; and then again on my return, when I was
spurred on to the wildest haste by the news from home, and wanted to
spare us both a mere shake of the hand between the steamer and the
railroad, while in such a mood. In the interval between these two
visits, you had married and become a father. I looked forward to
becoming acquainted with your wife and child, but for that very reason
I put off our meeting until a brighter time, and passed through Hamburg
without suspecting----

"Still, in spite of all my anxiety as to how I should find my father, a
painful recollection followed me. You know I had never been very
straitlaced in my way of life or my adventures, and scarcely ever had
paid for this frivolity even with remorse. I was always conscientious
toward the conscientious, and unscrupulous toward the unscrupulous. I
had never consciously or deliberately tried to disturb the peace of a
single soul, and was above the level of the conventional _bonnes
fortunes_ one meets in his every-day path.

"But, not to make myself out better than I was, certain temptations
were always powerful with me simply because of their adventurousness;
and a decidedly insignificant Juliet might have seduced me into playing
the Romeo, if the rope-ladder to her balcony had been a particularly
breakneck one.

"Now, just before I came to Heligoland, various matters had united to
put me in a bad humor; and, besides, my nerves were unstrung by wrong
medical treatment, feverish work, and night-watching; and I troubled
myself little more about the society of the resort than I did about the
mussels and sea-weed on the beach.

"In an instant all this was changed. A stranger suddenly made her
appearance--a young woman--who soon became the puzzle and the talk of
the whole island. The stranger's list recorded her as Madame Jackson,
of Cherbourg. She was without an escort, had rented rooms in a fisher's
hut standing quite alone, and appeared to make it her chief aim to set
all male and female tongues in motion by the oddity of her behavior.

"She appeared on the beach very early in the morning in a toilet that
awakened the envy of all the ladies. It was not the costliness of the
materials or of the ornaments, but the singular grace with which she
knew how to wear and move in the plainest shawls and veils. Then,
besides, her face could not fail to attract the notice of everybody, if
only by its unusual contrasts. Her hair had a reddish-gold color, that
literally shone in the sun when she let it fall freely down her
shoulders; two delicate dark eyebrows curved over the softest blue
eyes, that looked out upon the world as if they hadn't the slightest
suspicion of the stir they were causing. A little black point-lace veil
hung down over her forehead--however, I needn't describe her to you.

"Of course, the women insisted that her golden hair was dyed, and her
eyebrows painted. Such a play of colors did not exist in Nature. But
the men did not find it the less charming on that account.

"An old Englishman was the first who ventured to address her, as a
countrywoman of his. She replied in the best of English, but so
shortly, that this unsuccessful attempt frightened away all others of
the same kind.

"However, she herself soon appeared to tire of the isolation which she
had maintained for the first few days. She made advances to a
Mecklenburg lady, who had accompanied her sick daughter to the
seashore, and, under the pretext of sympathy, she struck up an
acquaintance with her which she let drop again after a short time,
evidently because it bored her. As she also spoke German, though with
an English accent, several country noblemen from the Mark, who had
fallen dead in love with her, ventured to speak to her. She treated
them with cool condescension, and it was not long before a regular
court had gathered about her, in which several young people with whom I
had heretofore associated allowed themselves to be enrolled.

"They told me about the moods and whims of their lady, who was made up
of ice and fire; of childish innocence and the most refined coquetry;
of sentiment and wild audacity.

"The English coldness, and the soft, dove-like smile, with which she
appeared in society, and the half-bored and half-ironical manner in
which she accepted the homage of her admirers, were merely a mask. When
she was alone with a person, an entirely different and much more
adventurous character made its appearance; a seductive, melancholy, and
yielding softness--which, however, changed at once into the harshest
coldness the moment he who had been encouraged by it began to grow
warmer, and attempted to seize the whole hand by means of the little
finger she held out to him. She would thrust back any such deluded
being into his place with the most cutting irony, and from that moment
would treat him with pitiless disfavor, without quite setting him free.

"Several of my acquaintances had discovered this to their cost. They
gave me such minute accounts of their disgraceful defeats that I
recognized in this woman a type of those perfectly cold-blooded
coquettes who are--to the credit of the sex be it said--but rarely met
with. The aversion I had felt toward this sea-monster, from the very
first moment I had set eyes on her, was only the more confirmed by
this; but, at the same time, the thought sprang up in me that it might
be a good work, a meritorious act toward the whole male population of
the island, if I could succeed in catching this fisher of men in her
own net.

"This purpose immediately became a fixed idea with me, actually as if
my own honor were staked on the result. As I knew that I was absolutely
proof against her charm, I proceeded to its execution without the
faintest scruples. She had long regarded my reserve with amazement and
anger; the consequence was that nothing was easier for me than to take
advantage of the first chance meeting I could bring about, to conquer a
place among her intimates.

"I will refrain from inflicting upon you, scene for scene, an account
of the wretched comedy that now began. The fact that I had to do with a
skillful opponent aroused my ambition, and stung into life all the
dormant obstinacy of my character, so that, at the end of a week--for
she, too, staked all her pride upon finally seeing me at her feet like
all the others--we two stood confronting each other almost alone; her
former circle of admirers had withdrawn discomfited.

"The great aim of my tactics was to represent myself as thoroughly
_blasé_ and unsusceptible, and to act as though I found the great charm
of my intercourse with her merely in the fact that I had at last
encountered a kindred nature, who, like me, had long since disclaimed,
as a ridiculous delusion, the possession of any warmth of feeling. She
accepted the _rôle_ I assigned to her, but it never occurred to her for
a moment to cease trying to tempt me out of mine. Occasional human
emotions, into which I now and then allowed my calumniated heart
to be betrayed, gave her some right to hope; and the freedom of a
watering-place afforded a hundred opportunities for putting me to the
test.

"Well, it turned out just as it could not help turning out. One evening
we came home from a stormy sailing excursion, which had not been
entirely free from danger, half wet through and hungry. The return trip
had been delayed from the fact of the skipper's having been obliged to
stop in the midst of the storm, to mend, as well as he could under the
circumstances, a leak in his boat; the consequence was it was late when
we reached her fisher's cottage. She herself seemed to have forgotten
her enforced _rôle_ for the moment, and appeared to have no other end
in view than to refresh and warm me before dismissing me to my
lodgings. While she went into her chamber and put on some dry garments,
I was forced to stay in the front-room, which was itself little more
than a small bedroom, and exchange my coat--which had been soaked
through and through with the salt water--for a Turkish jacket she had
selected from her wardrobe; and soon, the tea steaming on the table,
the warmth of the fire--which was very grateful in spite of its being
early fall--and, above all, the extraordinary manner in which we were
dressed after the dangers we had escaped, threw us both into a reckless
and merry mood such as I had never before experienced in her presence.

"But even now I was still very far from feeling anything like love, not
even as much as I had sometimes felt in the most trivial of my
adventures. In the midst of my sportive chat with this woman I felt at
the bottom of my soul an unconquerable aversion toward her, indeed
something almost like a secret horror of her--as if a presentiment were
warning me who it was that sat opposite me. But a demon drove me on to
play to the end of the _rôle_ I had once undertaken, for, as I
persuaded myself--mad fool that I was!--my _honor_ was at stake! Never
was a victory more dearly bought, never did a man who thought to
triumph feel himself so lost and degraded in his own sight as I did in
that hellish hour. Had I strangled this woman in a fit of blind
passion, it would not have so degraded me as this impudent comedy.

"And the wretched woman felt that I could not, do what I would, carry
out the _rôle_ of a favored lover;--the suspicion dawned upon her in
what light I must appear to myself and she to me. Horror, hate, and
resentment toward me, and perhaps also shame and self-reproach,
suddenly overpowered her with such force that she burst into a storm of
tears; and when I, in compassionate surprise, attempted to approach
her, she thrust me back with a violent gesture of disgust, and
immediately afterward fell into a fainting-fit that seemed almost like
death.

"That night I passed probably the most painful hours of my life, in
awkward attempts to bring her back to consciousness. I did not dare to
call for assistance for fear of compromising her. When at last she
opened her eyes again I saw that the most forbearing thing I could do
would be to leave her without saying farewell.

"I found no sleep that night. I cursed the hour in which I had seen
this woman, my childish defiance and my profligate obstinacy. In vain I
endeavored to comfort myself with the thought that I had pretended no
deep feeling toward her, that I had received no more from her than I
had returned. The feeling of abhorrence, disgust, and self-contempt
would not be reasoned away--and now to-day I am almost tempted to
believe there was something mysterious about the whole affair: an
indefinite horror of the guilt toward my dearest friend, with which I
had laden my soul.

"The following day I staid at home and saw no one. Not because I was
afraid of meeting her again; for it never entered my thoughts that she
would take a step across her threshold, lest she should encounter my
gaze. In this respect, however, I found myself deceived. She actually
made her appearance on the beach, about noon, as beautiful and
unembarrassed as ever; they had asked her about me, and she had replied
that she had seen nothing of me since we landed the night before.
Perhaps I had caught a cold on the excursion!

"'_Une femme est un diable!_'

"But on the third day, when, after pondering on this profound saying, I
issued forth again, anxious to see whether she would maintain her
calmness in my presence too, I heard that she had gone away by the
first steamer that morning--no one knew whither.

"This was my last day on the island. About noon I received the sad
message that called me home. With the evening boat I left the scene of
this vile farce, the bitter memory of which did not fade from my
thoughts for long years afterward.

"It is true the days of mourning that awaited me at home, and then soon
afterward the only true passion of my life, helped me to consign what
had happened to the dim realm of the past--until it rose up before me
this evening in all the horror of the present, and I was made to see
that the penance I supposed I had satisfied by my separation from Irene
was now demanded of me for the first time; and that the happiness of my
whole life was to be the price of a guilt which I thought I had long
since outlived.

"For as to this open confession, which would be sufficient, if produced
before any court, to give you back the freedom you so long for--I know
you too well not to feel sure that you will never make use of it.
Therefore, you too will continue in chains, and I--how I should despise
myself if, with this hellish laughter of Nemesis ringing in my ears, I
should appear again before the dear girl I had so recently recovered,
and should offer myself as a fitting husband, while you and Julie were
obliged, by my guilt, to remain separated, at least before the world!
The fact that I have to suffer more than I sinned does not in the least
change the question.

"It has always been the custom of Divine justice to make use of
different scales and different weights and measures, in exacting its
dues. The sin that one man is scarcely made to expiate by a
disagreeable hour costs another his own happiness and the happiness of
all those dear to him!

"And now I have said all that I had to say. I shall refer Irene, to
whom I have merely sent a short note, to you, in case she should insist
upon learning the true reason why I am forced to leave her anew--and
this time forever--without looking on her face again. Perhaps if I did
I should not have the courage--and then I should be all the more
contemptible in your eyes.

"It won't be long now before morning. Then I will saddle my horse, ride
back to town, pack my trunks, and take good care that this letter does
not come into your hands until there is no longer any danger that your
magnanimity or your pity will attempt to restrain a man who can only
recover his self-respect in exile.

"Farewell!--I do not dare to call you by the old familiar name. But
since, from what I know of you, you will not cease, in spite of all
that has happened, to cherish a warm feeling toward me, let me say, in
conclusion, that you must not think of me as a despairing man who is
ready to throw away his ruined life too cheaply. The sweets of life
are, indeed, behind me; but much that is useful still lies open for me
to do, so that I may atone to all mankind for the old crime I committed
against an individual. Perhaps I may some time find out why it is that
fate should have chosen me, from all the rest, to be punished with
double measure for my sins.                     Felix."



                              CHAPTER XV.


Julie had long ago finished reading the letter, and still she stood
motionless at the window, while Jansen, his head sunk on his breast,
sat on the sofa in a state between waking and sleeping.

It was not until the sheets slipped from her hand and fell at his feet
that he started from his stupor. But he did not pick them up.

"What does he write?" He asked in a hollow voice.

"Just what you thought he would," she answered. "You will hardly find
anything new in the letter, or at all events, anything that can alter
things. So you had better read it at some calmer hour, after you have
had a good sleep. In spite of all, I feel sure the letter will do you
good. It would have been impossible to write of an unworthy subject in
a more dignified way, and I, at least, have no worse opinion of our
friend since I have heard his sad story. I believe everything will yet
go well, and we needn't even lose our friend. He speaks, to be sure, of
his self-imposed exile, and has also written a farewell letter to
Irene, because he is of too chivalrous a nature to allow himself a
happiness of which he thinks he has deprived us."

He raised his head and looked at her with a dazed, inquiring look in
his eyes.

"I don't understand a word!" he said.

She bent over him, clasped her arms round his neck, and kissed him on
the forehead.

"It isn't at all necessary you should understand me, dear one. Only
keep quiet and trust to your best friend. It is true, circumstances
treat us ill! but a true love and a little common-sense--oughtn't they
to come out triumphant over all the tricks of blind fortune? I am only
a woman; but it goes against my pride to submit so tamely and
helplessly, when life is at stake. For in our hearts, is not everything
pure between us two? And shall we not belong to one another merely
because all sorts of impurity and hostility work against us from
without? No, my dearest, we will not submit to this. Because we live in
an imperfect world, we will do our best to make it more perfect; at
least on that plot of earth on which our cot may stand."

Her eyes filled with tears as she spoke, but she smiled upon him so
tenderly that, for the first time in a long while, a sense of warmth
passed over the soul of this broken-hearted man.

"What do you mean, dear?" he asked, looking at her in surprise.

"Be still--not yet!" she whispered, as she brushed back his hair from
his forehead and kissed his eyes. "But if you love me, as you say, and
as I must believe you do or else I could not live, trust me and do just
what I ask. In the first place ride home and take some breakfast, at
which little Frances will keep you company. And then lie down and sleep
as well and as soundly as you possibly can. But I must wake you up
toward evening, for I shall expect to see you at my house punctually at
seven o'clock. If you will be very obedient and do all this, you shall
learn, as a reward, the plan I have formed to smooth over these wearing
troubles, and to make four good people happy. Until then don't try to
think what it can be, but rely upon your true love. Will you do this?"

She kissed him long and tenderly, while he stammered some confused
words. Then she led him out of the room. He cast a timid look toward
the door of his saint factory.

"My child," he said, "I am ashamed of myself. You saw me there! Is it
possible you can love a madman?"

"I am not a bit afraid," she smiled. "That wild spirit will never, even
in its darkest hour, shatter anything that is sacred to us both."

When she saw the drosky roll away, she breathed more freely, and went
slowly into the house. She had given the friends, who waited
impatiently for news, a hint to withdraw and not to come in his way.
Kohle had gone with Rosenbusch into the latter's studio; Angelica sat
before her easel without touching a brush. Now, when Julie entered, she
rushed upon her in her violent way. "Well?" she cried. "But what is it?
you have been crying!"

"Not for sorrow, dearest! Though there was room for that too. For much
that is bitter lies behind us, and how much more beautiful it all might
be! But the best is not lost--listen--I must tell you something."

She stooped over and whispered something in her ear. A loud cry of joy
burst from the faithful soul. She blushed deeply from joyful surprise,
and the next minute she had her arms round Julie's neck, almost
suffocating her with kisses and caresses.

"Foolish girl," said Julie, escaping from her at last. "What is the
matter? Didn't you always prophesy it would turn out this way in the
end? Now do me the favor to be as sensible as it is possible for an
artist to be. You must help me; without you--how would it be possible
for us to be ready by this evening? I want to tell you at once how I
have thought it all out!"

They remained together for another half hour engaged in a most earnest
consultation, and then separated, after many tender embraces and
assurances of eternal friendship. The two men in the next room had only
heard through the wall the cry of joy, and then an unintelligible
whispering and murmuring; their impatience had been cruelly racked.
When, therefore, the door was heard to open, they too stepped out into
the entry with an air of quiet reproach.

"Angelica will tell you all about it!" cried Julie, running quickly
down the stairs. "And I depend upon your both giving me the pleasure of
a call this evening. Don't be alarmed about Jansen. He is at home now,
and well taken care of--"

With this she disappeared from their sight.

"Fräulein Minna Engelken," said Rosenbusch, "will your at length
condescend to inform us what this tedious session, with closed doors
has to portend?"

"Only as much as it will be proper and necessary for you to know, Herr
von Rosebud!" replied the painter, who was so excited and preoccupied
that she had put on her hat wrong side before, and had not succeeded
much better with the rest of her street toilet. "The two gentlemen are
invited to take a cup of tea with Fräulein Julie this evening, and are
requested to convey this message to Herr von Schnetz, to Herr Elfinger,
and to Papa Schoepf also. You are to appear punctually at a quarter
before seven in full uniform, and with all your decorations. For
particulars, see small bills. And now I must beg to be excused--I
have such a host of commissions--and since the lords of creation
cannot possibly be made use of for anything outside of the arts and
sciences--I will say _au revoir!_ until to-night, gentlemen!"

She made a coquettish courtesy, hustled the astonished visitors out of
her studio without much ceremony, and flew, singing, down the stairs.



                              CHAPTER XVI.


Julie had pursued her way with far more hesitation as soon as she
reached the street. She stood still more than once, as though she were
considering whether she should go on. In regard to Felix's letter to
Jansen--of whose contents Irene would have to be informed in order that
she might understand the flight of her lover--if she should send it to
her instead of delivering it herself, would not that be more
considerate? Would it not spare the poor girl the shame of looking in
the face a friend who knew of her lover's sins? And yet, on the other
hand, would it not be a last comfort to her to know that even those who
were most directly affected by it had not withdrawn their affection
from the deeply-penitent man, but would gladly have done anything to
convince him of the folly of his ideas in regard to his self-imposed
penance?

She felt that she ought to tell her all this immediately, and by word
of mouth, hard as it would be for her.

When she reached the hotel, the scenes of the preceding day rose up so
vividly before her that, fearful of meeting Nelida, she hurried up the
stairs without first making any inquiries at the office. Her anxiety
was superfluous. The countess had over-exerted her lame foot the day
before, and lay in bed in the greatest pain.

But, upon arriving up-stairs, the baron came forward to meet her with
such a woe-begone face, that she was greatly frightened.

"Where is Irene?" she cried. "Sick?"

"I hope not," answered the old gentleman, grasping her hand, and
evidently breathing more freely, as if a guardian angel had at length
appeared to him. "At least, she was in such excellent health two hours
ago that, in spite of the bad weather, she suddenly made up her mind to
start off over the Brenner pass, accompanied only by her maid."

"She has gone? Then I come too late!"

"My dear Fräulein, you at all events come early enough to bring comfort
and aid to an old man. You see before you one who has had unexampled
ill-luck in his experience of paternal joys. My own daughter slams the
door in my face, and my other, my adopted daughter, who ought at least
to honor me as her educator and natural protector, runs away from me.
It comes all in a heap, to turn my hair gray before its time!"

"But why did you let her go? Why did you permit her--"

"Permit her! As if she asked for my permission! Just think of it, it
was _she_, on the contrary, who gave me permission to remain here a
while longer, in order that I might arrange my affairs 'in peace,' as
she expressed it, before following her--which, again, I am not to do
until I receive her express permission! Alas! my dear Fräulein, have I
remained a bachelor, and manfully withstood all the fascinations of
your sex, merely to be put under the control of two grown daughters in
my old age?"

"Do tell me what reason Irene gave you for this sudden decision?" Julie
asked, after a pause.

"You are very good to suppose she would consider it worth while to give
me reasons!" cried the old gentleman. "Well-educated children are
accustomed to do whatever they feel like, and not to hand in a long
account to their foolish papas. That that rascal, Felix, is at the
bottom of it all--so much I have worked out by my talent for
combination. Last night she went to bed in the best of spirits, and
even condescended to give me a dutiful kiss, whose value I knew how to
appreciate because of its rarity. Early this morning, while I was
sitting here waiting for her to come to breakfast, a note arrived from
her _fiancé_. I send it in to her, not suspecting anything out of the
way, and a half hour passes before I discover what the trouble is. All
at once the door opens, and my Fräulein niece appears in complete
traveling-rig. 'Uncle,' she says--and her face is as pale and as set as
a wax doll's--'I am going to start off for Innsbruck by the next train.
I beg you not to ask the reason. You may be sure that I have considered
the matter maturely' (maturely! Only think of it, dear Fräulein, a
whole half hour!) 'and, as I know that you won't be able to tear
yourself away from here so quickly, I sha'n't think of asking you to
accompany me. It will be sufficient if Louisa goes with me. I shall
make my first stop in Riva. From there I will write to you when you are
to follow. I'--and at this point her voice grew a little unsteady--'I
want to be alone for a while. You may say good-by for me to such of my
acquaintances as you see fit. Be sure and remember me most particularly
to Fräulein Julie. _Adieu!_' I was, as you can imagine, somewhat taken
aback by this order of the day in true bulletin style. It was not until
she turned away, and I saw that she was really in earnest in what she
said, that I found enough breath to ask, 'But Felix! Does he know about
this? And what shall I tell him when he comes and no longer finds his
betrothed here?' 'He will not come,' she said. 'He--he is prevented.
You will find out all about it later. Now I must hurry, unless I want
to miss the train.' And with this, she was up and away! Oh, my dear
Fräulein! I, too, can cry out with the old cabinet-maker in a
blood-and-thunder piece they are playing here at the theatre: 'I no
longer understand this world!' Tell me yourself, is there a kreutzer's
worth of common-sense in this whole comedy? To say nothing of the
capricious Fräulein, there is the lover, who, only yesterday, swore by
all the stars in Heaven he was the happiest wretch who had ever been
pardoned with the rope already round his neck--he comes to a different
conclusion over night and 'is prevented!' Now, you associate with these
artists, Fräulein Julie. Tell me, do they learn diabolical tricks of
this kind in their so-called Paradise, and are they the result of their
celebrated joviality? If so, then my Kabyles and Arabs are the most
Philistine of Philistines compared with these gentlemen!"

Julie had listened, full of sympathy, to this long outpouring of the
heart. Yet now she had to laugh.

"Dear Herr Baron," she said, "don't take the matter so to heart. I
think I am justified in assuring you that all will be cleared up and
come out right in the end. Whatever I can do to bring this about, I
shall naturally do with all my heart, since my own peace and happiness
depend upon knowing that the young couple are happy too. I hope soon to
be able to talk the matter over with your niece in person. In case you
should have any messages, I also start for the South to-morrow, and
shall most certainly go by the way of Riva."

"You, too!" broke out the baron, springing up as if he had been struck
by lightning. "Now the world is coming to an end! That was the only
thing lacking. No, tell me you are only joking! What is it that drives
you off as if you, too, had been stung by a scorpion? And, besides, you
made me a promise in regard to my child--or, perhaps, she goes too, now
that all Paradise is being loaded on a cart, and Bohemia retreats
through the deepest snow to the land of sunshine?"

"You make me laugh, dear baron, although I am truly in no mood for
laughter. I repeat, only have patience for a little while. I can't tell
you about it to-day. I hope to be able to put your mind at rest about
your daughter before I start. You will receive a few lines from me
tomorrow, and at the same time a letter to Irene's _fiancé_, whose
address I don't know--for, the truth is, he has gone away because of an
affair in which his honor is at stake. Promise me, as a reward for what
I am going to do as your mediator with Herr Schoepf, to see that this
letter reaches Baron Felix's hands safely, at all costs. They must know
something about his whereabouts on his estates, and, if the worst comes
to the worst, we shall have to seek for him through the newspapers."

"Now I have it!" cried the baron, eagerly; "an affair of honor--a
_rencontre_--and that is why the girl was so beside herself that she
could not bear even my vicinity. Well, if that's the case, I don't feel
troubled. The boy has a sure hand, and won't be such a fool as to let
himself be shot dead now that he is engaged to be married. But only
tell me--_centre qui?_--overnight in this way--and all the while with
good comrades of his, and peaceable disciples of art to boot!"

Julie considered it her wisest course to make no other reply than a nod
of the head to this conjecture, which evidently completely allayed the
old gentleman's fears. He grew very jolly again, kissed her hand
repeatedly, and only begged her at parting to do her best to help him
fulfill his paternal duties.

"Tell the defiant little red-head," he cried after her, as she was
going down-stairs, "that I haven't the slightest desire to force my
tenderness upon her in person. We can get accustomed to one another by
letter, and familiarize ourselves with the thought that we have found
one another again. Life in Germany is too full of adventures for me. I
am going back to my quiet desert; and to you, my beautiful friend, I
will send the skin of the first lion I kill, as a reward for your
endeavors to help a father to a daughter who doesn't want to have
anything to do with him!"



                             CHAPTER XVII.


Jansen had gone home as if in a dream; and even the wild demonstrations
of joy with which he was received by his child did not succeed in
driving away the stupor that hung over him. He did not ask either
Frances or her foster-mother what had happened in his absence, but
stared vacantly, sighed often, and returned confused answers. When he
had eaten something, and drunk some strong wine, he fell asleep while
sitting at table, with difficulty roused himself sufficiently to tumble
into bed, and had just sense enough left to impress upon the woman the
fact that he must be waked at six o'clock.

Then, when the evening came, little Frances only succeeded, after much
shouting and shaking, in dispelling his leaden sleep; from which,
however, the weary man awoke with joyous eyes. He lay for a while and
enjoyed the physical relief, the peace in his heart, which he had
missed so long. Every word his beloved had said to him that morning
came back to his mind again; he knew that with all her kind words she
could have meant but one thing; and yet he trembled at the thought that
it might all have been a delusion. But the certainty of happiness
invariably kept the upper hand.

When, at length, he arose, he felt as if he had recovered from an
illness--as if he were invigorated by fresh blood--and he marveled at
this transformation; for he remembered that on this very morning he
would have liked best to burrow his way into the earth and never see
the sun again. He kissed his little daughter again and again, pressed
the old woman's hand--the foster-mother was absent--and started off for
Julie's lodgings.

But, when he arrived at the house, he was surprised to see a bright
light streaming through the blinds of all five windows. He knew that
she was fond of having her room bright, but for all that it struck him
that all was not as usual. He asked the old servant, who helped him to
take off his overcoat in the hall, but received no definite answer;
and he was painfully surprised when he opened the door and saw the
brightly-lighted room full of people.

It is true, they were all familiar faces. Angelica sat on a sofa by the
side of old Schoepf, Rossel had established himself in the most
comfortable of the two armchairs, and Rosenbusch and Kohle appeared to
be absorbed in the contemplation of some engravings on the wall, while
Julie was conversing with Schnetz and Elfinger near the door. A covered
table, decorated with beautiful bouquets, stood along the wall on the
side where the windows were, and little Frances's foster-mother was
busy adding the last finishing touches to it. They were all in evening
dress, and even Rosenbusch had refrained from wearing his historical
velvet-jacket, which the summer had dealt with pretty severely, and
appeared in a magnificent dress-coat--the only trouble with which was
that it was rather too broad, inasmuch as it had been taken from
Rossel's wardrobe. But the most beautiful of all, in her simplicity,
appeared the mistress of these halls herself. She wore a white dress of
the finest woolen, which exposed but a little of her white shoulders
and her arms as far as the elbow. A plain gold chain, from which hung a
medallion containing a miniature of her mother, was wound several times
about her neck; her hair was brushed back smoothly, and intertwined
with a garland of myrtle; in her bosom was fastened a dark-red
pomegranate blossom.

In his first surprise Jansen started back from the threshold with a
look of bitter disappointment, which Julie alone understood. But,
before he had time to recover his presence of mind, he felt himself
seized by the gentlest hands, and disarmed by a single soft word
whispered in his ear.

"Here he comes at last," she said, leading the speechless man into the
centre of the room. "And first of all I must beg his pardon for not
having told him beforehand whom he would find here. For even though
they are only our best and dearest friends whom I have invited to our
farewell gathering--still, I know you would have preferred to see no
one this evening but myself. And yet, though I would gladly do anything
else for your sake--I could not do otherwise than what I have done on
this occasion. Our friends all know that I am determined to share my
life with you until death parts us. Do you not feel with me that it
would be contrary to my honor and my womanly pride, to pass
clandestinely into the new life that has been opened to us, as if we
had committed a sin, instead of entering upon it with open brow,
followed by the congratulations of our dearest friends, as other happy
bridal couples do?"

She stopped, for a moment, overcome by her emotion. But, as he made no
movement, except to raise to his lips the hand with which she held his,
she recovered her courage, and continued in a lower voice:

"Our rôles are so singularly transposed. It is customary for the voice
of the bride to be heard only when she says 'yes' at the foot of the
altar. But here there is no altar, and the bride must pronounce the
wedding address herself. I confess that, since I plighted my heart and
my troth to my beloved friend, I have always cherished the hope that
things would turn out differently. I thought it would be so beautiful
to go up to the altar with him, as other brides do; and have our union
so sanctioned. But, since this could not be, what right have we to be
so cowardly and narrow-minded as to cling to a mere form when two human
lives are at stake? As soon as I saw that it was to decide the weal or
woe of his life and of his art, every scruple left me. We are neither
of us so young or so inexperienced as to be deceived about our hearts.
They are indissolubly bound together. And it is therefore no crime and
no presumption, but something that was as certainly decreed by Heaven
as was ever union between two human beings, for me to be from this day
forth the true wife of this man, and for him to be forever my beloved
husband."

She turned away for a moment; her voice failed her. A breathless
silence reigned. The gentlemen, with the exception of the bridegroom,
who gazed fixedly in his beloved's eyes, lowered their eyes and stood
solemn and still as if in a house of worship; the little foster-mother
held her handkerchief before her eyes, and the big tear-drops rolled
down Angelica's face, while she struggled to look at her friend as
cheerfully and encouragingly as possible. Now, when the latter turned
to her, she hastily took up a little silver dish she had held in
readiness and handed it to Julie, trying, as she did so, to give her
friend's hand a stolen pressure. Two little gold rings, looking rubbed
and thin, as if they had been worn a long time, lay in the plate.

"These are the wedding rings of my parents," said the bride. "For many
long years they served as the sign of a union that grew ever firmer in
good and in bad fortune. I think you will not oppose me, dearest, if I
use them to sanctify our marriage. I herewith give you this ring that
my father received from my mother, and swear to you, before these
friends of ours, to be a true wife to you and a good mother to your
child. And if you do not repent of having offered me your life--"

She could not finish. In a sudden overflow of feeling he seized the
other ring, thrust it at random on one of her fingers, and folded the
blushing girl in a passionate embrace. It seemed as if he would never
let her go again; his breast heaved with suppressed sobbing, he hid his
face upon her neck, and her soft locks dried the tears he was ashamed
to show.

In the mean while it appeared that none of the witnesses took the
slightest notice of this passionate outburst. Rossel seemed to be
earnestly studying the pattern of the carpet; old Schoepf took out his
handkerchief and polished his spectacles; Elfinger stood at the piano,
with his back toward the newly-married couple, and slowly turned over
the pages of a music-book. Angelica fell upon the foster-mother's neck,
while Kohle seized Rosenbusch's hand and shook it warmly.

At length when the bride had somewhat recovered her composure and had
gently released herself from her husband's arms, Schnetz, who up to
this time had been violently plucking at his imperial, advanced toward
the couple and stammered out a few words of cordial felicitation. This
gave the signal for a general crowding around, and the most joyful
handshaking and congratulation. All spoke at the same time, each held
the hand of the bride and bridegroom as tightly as if he hoped never to
have to release it again, and every one seemed to want to repudiate, as
something very superfluous and out of place, the emotion which had
moved all their hearts but a few minutes before. Angelica was the first
to restore quiet and order to this confusion, by rapping on a glass and
requesting the guests to come to supper. The bridal couple were to
start on their wedding journey in a few hours, and, as the bridegroom
had not even packed his trunk yet, it was doubly advisable for them not
to let the wedding feast grow cold.

So they took their places. Old Schoepf was given the seat of honor on
the other side of the bride, Rosenbusch captured a place next to
Angelica, and Rossel took charge of the foster-mother, although, as a
general thing, he studiously avoided having any women near him when at
table. Of the meal itself it will only be necessary to say that Edward
Rossel had placed his own cook at Angelica's disposal, and had sent his
servants along with her; the selection and the cooling of the wine had
also been his care, although, except himself, scarcely any one of the
guests took much notice of what they ate and drank. Those in particular
who sat opposite the bridal couple seemed to be so fascinated by the
sight of their happiness, by the beauty of Julie, and the dreamy look
of inspiration in Jansen's face, that they looked very little at their
plates. To this number belonged Angelica, whose hand wandered across
the table every now and then to meet that of her adored friend under
the shadow of the huge bouquet.

Julie's plan was to carry her husband off to Italy, there to look for
some spot on which to settle down and found their home. When they had
made up their minds whether Florence, or Rome, or Venice was to be
their resting-place, they were to return and get little Frances, who
would have been rather out of place in this wintry wedding-journey of
her parents.

Meanwhile Julie had taken advantage of a favorable opportunity to enter
into a low conversation with old Schoepf in regard to the future of his
grandchild. In spite of the power she exerted over all with whom she
came in contact, she did not find it easy to break down the old man's
obstinacy. Finding that all her assertions of how sincere the baron's
remorse was were of as little avail as her efforts to convince him of
the material benefit which the reconciliation would be to his
grandchild's future, she finally summoned cunning to her aid, and
represented that in granting this request he would be conferring a
personal favor upon her, a sort of wedding-present, which such an old
friend of her husband surely could not refuse her. The chivalrous old
man could resist no longer, and so, with a solemn shake of the hand,
Julie secured all that the baron could demand with any kind of justice,
although a complete reconciliation still seemed quite unattainable for
the present.

Jansen had been listening to this conversation, which had been carried
on in a low tone; and now he, in his turn, thanked the old man by a
pressure of the hand. All this time he had scarcely uttered a word. His
heart was full of a bliss too deep for words; the cheerful noise of the
good people about him sounded in his ears as if it came from a great
distance; his eyes rested on the flowers before his plate, and did not
even venture to gaze at the noble woman who was really his own at last;
and it was only with difficulty that he could force himself even to
smile when the others burst into roars of laughter over some joke of
the lieutenant's, or some enthusiastic expression of Angelica's.

As they sat thus, there suddenly burst forth from Julie's piano, at
which Elfinger was seated, the first bars of the wedding-march in the
"Midsummer Night's Dream." On the instant all voices were hushed, and
they stood listening to the fairy strains that made them forget, for
the moment, that the winter night with its thousand glittering stars
looked in upon them, and suffered no other elfin tricks than those
which possibly lurked concealed in the foam of the champagne glasses.

When it came to an end the silence still continued for a while. The
bride had disappeared with Angelica into the next room, and now
returned again in traveling-dress. Schnetz now called upon Rosenbusch
to let the departing couple take some of his verses with them as a
farewell blessing on their journey. But he, who was generally so
obliging, could not be induced to do this at any price. He would only
promise to forward them his bad rhymes in black and white, accompanied
with marginal illustrations.

"It is late," said Julie, "and we have still to take leave of our
child. We leave her in the best of care, and hope soon to see her
again. And now we must say good-by."

She first embraced the foster-mother and kissed her warmly. Then she
gave her hand and a kind word and look to each of the others in turn,
and hastened out of the room, no longer able to control her emotion.
Jansen, too, had parted from his friends with great feeling, entreating
them all not to follow him beyond the door. Angelica alone insisted
upon accompanying the couple as far as the carriage. The others stepped
to the window and watched them get in, together with old Erich, who was
to accompany them, while Angelica still stood on the carriage step
unable to tear herself from Julie's neck. When she at last stepped
down, and the door was slammed to, those in the house stepped to the
wide-opened window, with full glasses and burning lamps and candles,
and shouted a loud "good luck!" to the departing couple. The waving of
a handkerchief and of hands from the carriage doors answered them; and
the drosky rolled away.



                              _BOOK VII_.



                               CHAPTER I.


All of a sudden Paradise had become very desolate. In the rooms that
had once resounded with conversation and laughter until long after
midnight, there now assembled a mere handful of rather morose and
chilly comrades, who did not thaw out even over their wine. They sat
behind their glasses, silent and disconsolate, each one expecting of
the other that he would suddenly break out again in the old festal
mood. For, in spite of the great necessity for social intercourse that
is inherent in the German character, nothing is more remarkable than
the rarity of true social talent, and still more the lack of that
social sense of duty which urges the individual to do all in his power
to contribute to the general entertainment. Most Germans go into
society just as they go to the theatre, and believe they have done all
that duty requires of them when, from their seats, they have made
careful observations of the actors; and they think themselves justified
in complaining of being bored whenever the latter are in a bad mood for
acting. This unmistakable decline, which generally takes place in every
club soon after it has reached its highest prosperity, was still
further hastened, in the case of the Paradise society, by outward
circumstances. In Jansen's departure it had lost the one member whose
mere presence gave it its distinctive character. The very fact that he
had no desire to rule had led them to give him, without opposition,
that leadership for which he was qualified before all others by his
superiority, mature judgment, and simplicity of bearing. Still, there
were several among his friends who might have succeeded in upholding
the old traditions after his departure, had it not happened that the
very ones who were best fitted and most influential had themselves
personal reasons for withdrawing.

Since the recovery of his grandchild it was impossible to induce old
Schoepf to pass an evening away from home. He devoted himself entirely
to taming his little refractory savage--a task in which he was obliged
to work very carefully, for the strange creature still threatened to
run away if they tried to restrict her freedom in the slightest degree.
She would not submit for a moment to any regular course of instruction,
but thought she did quite enough if she took charge of household
matters, for which she showed great aptitude, and attended to her
toilet or took a walk with her grandfather in her spare hours. She
never asked after his friends, Jansen and Schnetz, not even after
Felix, who had disappeared so suddenly. Her face had grown rather
prettier from good living and comfortable surroundings, and her figure
fuller; and she could now gratify her taste for dress, for her
grandfather treated her like a pet doll. It was no wonder, therefore,
that Rossel only grew more confirmed in his passion, particularly as he
made it a rule to see her daily.

He came in the evening, generally bringing with him Kohle, who had been
the greatest sufferer by Jansen's departure. The two gradually became
so accustomed to the old man's parlor that they willingly gave up the
nights at the Paradise club for its sake. Usually, after they had
talked awhile, or had looked over some photographs or engravings,
Rossel drew a book from his pocket, either a volume of poems or
something else that was interesting at once to children and sages, and
began to read aloud; apparently without giving a thought to the girl,
who took pains to move about as much as possible, as if to show that
both he and his companion were utterly indifferent to her. Sometimes,
however, when he chanced to strike the right key, she would crouch down
on her little chair near the stove, and listen with open mouth and
wide-open eyes in which the light of intelligence was slowly beginning
to dawn. But she never allowed herself to be drawn into a conversation
about what had been read, and never varied in her manner toward her
admirer, so that he perceptibly grew thin with disappointment.

This same conduct, so singularly made up of frivolity and persistency,
she maintained toward her own father. After old Schoepf had consented
to allow the baron to exercise at least the outward rights of a father,
an interview had taken place between the two; and the sincere
melancholy of the baron, who was usually such a lighthearted cavalier,
had not failed to make an impression upon the grim old man. As the
latter felt that he could not acquit himself of all blame in the
affair, they had arrived at an understanding which, though not exactly
cordial, was nevertheless very different from the frosty relations that
had previously existed between them; and arrangements had been made for
the daughter's benefit in accordance with the baron's wishes. During
the half hour which she consented to give, at her grandfather's
request, to an interview between her and the author of her being, she
sat at her papa's side as cold and stiff as possible, and almost as if
she were giving an audience; while he exhausted his amiability in
attempts to touch her heart. She did not feel the slightest affection
for him, she declared over and over again. Before she saw him she hated
him; now she felt absolutely indifferent toward him, and she could not
understand how her dead mother could ever have loved him. He must not
flatter himself that she would ever feel differently. She had never
been able to bear faces like his; she was sorry, but it was always her
way to speak the truth, and because he had lied to her mother was no
reason why she should now lie to him. Let him keep his money. She had
no intention of marrying; and even if she had she would not accept a
man who took her merely because she had a rich father.

That the beautiful Fräulein was her cousin did indeed seem strange to
her. At first she laughed at the idea, as if it were all a joke; then
she blushed crimson, no one knew why, stood up suddenly, made her
father a stiff courtesy, and hurried out of the room.

With a sigh the baron left the old man's lodgings, to go and give his
old companion-in-arms, Schnetz, an account of this unsuccessful attempt
at reconciliation.

Ever since the wedding evening the lieutenant, too, had felt himself in
a misanthropic and depressed state of mind, which kept him at home for
months and made him forget Paradise utterly; all the more readily
because it seemed to him that Jansen's presence there was necessary to
its very existence. His artistic talent was, after all, merely the
shadow cast by his character when it chanced to stand in a humorous
light. He had taken up with the artists because their society seemed to
him more tolerable than any other that came within the great dreariness
of his ordinary life, less because they created beautiful works than
because they were men who were capable of producing something that lay
beyond the pale of ordinary society, for which he had a profound
contempt. Even they did not escape his Thersites mood. But the fact
that he had discovered one among them at whom he found it absolutely
impossible to rail, and whom he had not the heart to ridicule even with
his black art, had inspired him with a strange feeling toward Jansen;
as though, if the whole decaying world should fall to pieces and leave
only this one man, nothing would really be lost, and the human race,
copied after this model, would be restored to a far higher grandeur. He
had really _loved_ this man, carefully as he tried to conceal such
"sentimentalities" from every one, especially from himself. And now he
sat alone again in his Timonian bitterness, cutting silhouettes in the
dark, and angry with all other men because all of them taken together
could not compensate him for the loss of this one.

He received the baron exceedingly badly, listened to his account of his
unloving child with a sardonic grin, and assured him that the only
consolation he found in this whole muddle of a world was that there
were still a few beings left, even of the female sex, who would not let
themselves be fooled by fine words, and who spoke out just what they
thought. He advised him to go to Africa and shoot a lioness, and adopt
her brood, whereupon he immediately began to cut out the baron in black
paper as the nurse of a wildcat, that he might give him a memento to
take with him on his journey.

For although Irene had not yet given him official permission, her uncle
had, nevertheless, determined to follow her. As matters now stood he no
longer dared to present himself even to the old countess, who, when he
called to deliver Irene's farewell, had preached him an edifying sermon
upon her incredible conduct, and had received his jesting answer with a
very bad grace. There was not the slightest prospect of hearing
anything further in regard to Felix here in the city. No one knew in
what direction the supposed duel had taken him. Thus the old habit of
being under his niece's thumb, and the uselessness and joylessness of
his further stay in Munich, drew the old baron toward the South; and
the harsh manner in which even Schnetz had suddenly turned upon him
made the parting very easy.

He put the silhouette in his letter-case without a smile, shook his old
friend by the hand, and left him, expressing the hope that they might
meet again under a warmer sun.



                              CHAPTER II.


Two other pillars of the Paradise Club had grown shaky, and were in no
condition to arrest its fall.

Rosenbusch and Elfinger had both appeared at the first meeting which
took place after the unfortunate masquerade, but in a conspicuously
depressed mood, and neither so witty nor so grateful for the wit of
others as was usually the case with them.

On the way home they confessed to one another that the thing had
outlived its day; even the wine to-night was much sourer than in the
good old times.

Now, the truth is, it was the very same wine, but its flavor could not
overcome the bitter taste on the tongue of the drinkers; and in each
this bitter taste arose from exactly opposite causes.

Elfinger's deep and unswerving fondness had really succeeded in
stealing away his little devotee's heart from her heavenly bridegroom.
At one of those afternoon services in the little church already
mentioned, she had with many tears allowed the confession to escape her
that his love was returned; adding, however, a saving clause, that once
more put all his hopes to naught, that she should not on this account
consider herself any the less bound by her former vow, particularly as
her father confessor had clearly proved to her that she would be
neither happy on earth nor blessed in heaven unless she renounced her
sinful love for a Lutheran, and especially for one who had once been an
actor.

To Elfinger's most eloquent attempts at dissuasion, the poor child had
only replied by tears and shakes of the head, and had answered the long
letters which her lover sent to her almost daily, by nicely-written
little notes, not altogether free from orthographical blunders, in
which she besought him in the most touching terms not to make her heart
still heavier, but rather to move to some other lodgings and never to
meet her again.

This correspondence had, of course, merely poured oil upon the fire, on
this as well as on the other side of the street. Nevertheless it really
did seem, after all, as though their love was not destined to overcome
the evil powers; and in his grief at this Elfinger began more and more
to lose his taste for the joys of Paradise, generally spending his
evenings at home, brooding over plans for the overthrow of the
priesthood--which resulted in his toiling through all the pamphlets
against the Vatican Council, and in his composing for some of the
smaller newspapers violent articles favoring the abolition of convents.

But, while his fate was trembling in the balance, his next-door
neighbor was still worse off; and, sad to relate, solely because of the
incredible worldly-mindedness of his sweetheart. Through his trusty
ally, the servant-girl, he learned that the only son of a rich brewer,
from one of the smaller cities of the region, was paying his attentions
to her; and the pretty little witch appeared to have refrained from
doing any of those things by which even the most obedient daughter may
show her aversion to a hated suitor. Rosenbusch, whose soul still clung
fondly to his romantic elopement project, refused, at first, to believe
in such villainous treachery. But when his letters remained unanswered,
the last one indeed being returned unopened by the post, he fell into a
terrible passion, spent whole nights in composing the most insulting
poems against brewers' sons and Philistines' daughters, and gave
himself up more and more to the most extravagant melancholy,
misanthropy, and dislike for work. He began to neglect his person too
in the most terrible way, wore, as his daily clothing, that ample
dress-coat of Edward Rossel's, which the latter had formally made over
to him after the wedding evening; and over this a coarse red-and-blue
plaid shawl, and a cap which he had cut out himself from his old slouch
hat, whose rim had been nibbled and considerably diminished by his
white mice, one night when he had left the door of the cage open.

It is true, he still went regularly to the studio and shut himself in
under the pretense of laboring at some great, mysterious work; yet he
never touched a brush all day long, but cowered over the stove, in
which he managed to keep up a wretched little fire made out of
fragments of old fences that he had picked up here and there. There he
sat wrapped in his shawl, an unlighted cigar in his mouth, spying
around among his antiquities, to see which piece he should next tear
from his soul and deliver to the shop-keepers.

For a very considerable payment that he had to make had exhausted his
last penny of ready money. In his emotion over the martyrdom of the
faithful dog, Rosenbusch had determined to give Jansen a pleasant
surprise by ordering a grave-stone for the little mound in the garden,
bearing the following profound inscription:

                            Hic jacet Homo,
                  _Nihil humani a se alienum putans_.

It was merely a plain block of granite ornamented by a dog's head
cut in profile, and the letters were not even gilded. Yet the
stone-cutter's bill proved to be twice as large as the first estimate
of the cost; so that he had been obliged to sell the sword and scabbard
of a Walloon cuirassier, a rusty snaffle-bit of the time of the Swedish
war, and his last halberds; and besides this, to paint an oil-portrait
of the stone-cutter's wife, in order to complete this act of respect
without incurring any debts.

He never said a word about his troubles to any of his friends, not even
to Elfinger, and at the dedication of the monument, over which he
presided, he conducted himself with so much ease and dignity that they
all thought he had really found some unknown patron who advanced him
money on his great new picture. The fact that he appeared in a
dress-coat, in spite of the bitter winter cold, was attributed to the
formality with which he insisted upon treating the whole affair.

He himself tried hard at first to keep up his spirits. He composed an
account of the ceremony in his most feeling verses, and accompanied
them with a sketch of the grave-stone and other illustrations relating
to the dedication, and sent the document to Florence, where Jansen and
Julie were then sojourning.

The postage for this parcel cost him his last kreutzer. That day it was
nine o'clock in the evening before he ate his dinner (on credit); and
even then he went to bed hungry.

But, though he deceived all others by the smiling mien with which he
wrapped himself in his shawl and his love-sickness, there were two eyes
near him that he could not blind in this way.

Those were the eyes of his neighbor Angelica, and they, too, no longer
saw the world in such a rosy light as that in which it had appeared at
Christmas.

The necessity that was inborn in her nature, to passionately worship
something or other, and to give vent to her adoration in extravagant
terms, no longer found anything to feed on since the departure of the
happy pair. Indeed, she would have had a very poor opinion of herself
if, after having found in Jansen the ideal of a true artist, and in
Julie the quintessence of beauty, she had now been contented to take up
with anything of a lower grade. At first she tried hard to grow
sentimental over little Frances, and to transfer to the child the
enthusiasm she felt for its parents. But as this was attended with some
difficulty because of their living so far apart, as well as on account
of a certain reserve peculiar to the little creature, she gradually
withdrew from this also, and contented herself with visiting the child
every Sunday and making enthusiastic speeches about its talents to its
foster-mother. The sensible little woman always received them rather
coolly, partly because she disliked everything like gushing
compliments, and partly because she felt hurt that her own children
were completely overlooked. For this reason, and for this reason only,
she was not sorry when, toward spring, a letter came from Julie with
the request to bring the child to its parents in Florence as soon as
the state of the weather would permit. Unfortunately, she could not
come for the child herself as she had hoped, her doctor having
forbidden her "for important reasons" to take the journey. Still, she
had too great a yearning to see Frances to be able to wait any longer,
and she entreated the faithful foster-mother to make still another
sacrifice for her sake, and to take advantage of the occasion to get a
peep at their Italian home.

Some fine presents were added for the other children and a letter for
Angelica, in which her friend heartily besought her to accompany the
child, and, if possible, to spend the whole summer with them. Jansen
seconded this invitation in a very kind postscript; and the money
enclosed for the traveling expenses was reckoned for three persons.

It is needless to describe the feelings of this good soul as she read
this letter, and saw the prospect opened to her of seeing again with
her own eyes, and clasping again in her arms, all that she loved and
admired. With beating heart and glowing cheeks she sat for a good hour
motionless before her easel, and had never in all her life felt so
happily unhappy or so torn by conflicting wishes. When at last she had
clearly made up her mind to decline the proffered happiness, she
appeared, in her own eyes, such a subject for commiseration,
notwithstanding all her consciousness of heroic virtue, that she began
to weep bitterly, and did not heed how her tears fell upon a wreath of
flowers in water color that she had just painted, moistening them with
an all too natural dew.



                              CHAPTER III.


In order to explain this, we must disclose a secret that our artist had
heretofore guarded carefully from every one--even from herself, as far
as such a thing was possible.

The fate of the one man with whom this peaceable soul always stood on a
war-footing, and who, as it seemed, possessed none of all the qualities
by which one could generally win her love and admiration, had become of
such importance to her in the course of time, that her own weal and
woe, and even such a happiness as had just been offered her, became but
a secondary matter when compared with it.

That violent hate can turn into burning love is a fact that is no
longer considered strange. But the transformation of a thoroughly
honest and obvious contempt into the exact opposite, without the object
of these conflicting feelings having changed especially himself, must
ever remain a difficult riddle to solve. This was especially the case
because this contempt for her neighbor was not directed against his
character as an artist and a man, of whose good qualities she might in
time have become more clearly convinced, but rested solely on the
contradiction in their characters, which appeared to her to have been
completely reversed in their cases from what Nature had intended.

Little of the Amazon as there was about her, she nevertheless felt
herself, as compared with Rosenbusch, the stronger, more resolute and
more manly of the two; and, since devotion to something higher and
stronger was a chief necessity of her nature, nothing would have struck
her as more absurd than that this flute-playing, verse-scribbling
art-colleague of hers, who decked himself out in silk and satin like a
bearded girl, could ever become dangerous to her peace of mind.

Consequently, when she found that ever since that stolen kiss on
Christmas night, innocent though it was, the picture of the robber rose
up before her oftener than before, each time causing a certain ashamed
surprise to creep over her virgin heart, she fought against this
weakness with all her power, and took pains to exaggerate, in her own
mind, the faults and absurdities of this gay deceiver. But, in doing
so, she was obliged to occupy her thoughts with him to an uncommon
extent, and she often caught herself studying his praiseworthy
qualities with far greater fondness than his laughable ones.
Unfortunately, she had plenty of spare time for these studies; for, as
Schnetz expressed it, she was enjoying a vacation from idolatry since
Jansen's and Julie's departure. And, finally, what contributed as much
as anything else to make her heart more tender, was the just fear that
things were going badly with her neighbor, and might end seriously for
him some fine day, unless some one came to his aid.

She positively breathed easier when she discovered that he was hungry
and cold, and began quite cheerfully to revolve in her mind how she
could best assist him.

She took good care to say nothing about it to his friends. To her alone
he should owe his rescue, and that without having the slightest
suspicion of it. She herself could hardly be said to be swimming in
luxury; that which she earned was just sufficient to carry her through
the world respectably; for she had the greatest horror of anything in
her art that had a taint of fraud about it, and was exceedingly
conscientious with regard to such matters. More than once she had taken
back a picture, with which the person who had ordered it expressed
himself as quite content, merely because it did not satisfy herself.

But the suspiciously jolly air with which Rosenbusch met her on the
stairs, the ominous stillness next door, where the stove no longer sang
its morning song, nor the flute summoned the mice to the dance, so cut
her to the heart, that she would not have hesitated even to have got
into debt, if by so doing she could have saved her friend from
bankruptcy.

It was a sunny morning in April; she had accompanied little Frances and
her foster-mother to the station, and had thus given up the last thing
she had to exercise her sentimental devotion upon; and now she walked
slowly to her studio, firmly determined to seek consolation in her art.
But on arriving up stairs, where a fresh canvas was already awaiting
her, she made a mistake in the door, and, instead of going into her own
workshop, knocked at the battle-painter's, of whom she had not caught a
glimpse for several days.

Rosenbusch knew her knock well. He always declared it was a pity she
did not play on the piano, she had such an excellent touch. However, he
did not seem inclined to let her in; at all events she had to knock
three times, and to call out that it was no use, he needn't pretend any
longer, she had seen him through the keyhole sitting there, and must
come in for ten minutes as she had an order for him; then, at last, he
slowly got up, crept to the door, sighing, and drew back the bolt.

As she entered she cast a stolen look at the bare walls of the room,
that was as damp and chilly as a cellar, and at its miserable occupant,
who had folded his shawl tight about his body just as a beetle does his
wings in a rainstorm, and, with his pinched, half-starved looking
little nose, was making a wretched attempt to look chipper and pleased.

"What are you making such an _ecce homo_ face for?" she said, in her
brusquest tone, which now stood her in good stead in concealing her
emotion. "You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Herr von Rosenbusch, to
sit here in a corner and mope, this heavenly weather. Besides, it's so
cold here that the oil would freeze on one's brush. But I forget, you
are not doing any painting now. You have another acute attack of your
chronic laziness--or are you sick?"

"You are mistaken, honored patroness," said Rosenbusch, in his silver
tenor, which now, however, sounded a little cracked. "I am quite well,
with the exception of a certain nervousness that is often to be found
among artists; atrophy of the _nervus rerum_, the men of science call
it. Besides, I am not sitting here so idle as you perhaps imagine; I am
working away at my great picture, having accustomed myself of late to
first complete the picture in my head, down to the last light effect on
the nostrils of a pack-horse. In this way you save an incredible deal
of color that you would otherwise have wasted in constant scratching
out. You ought to try it, Angelica."

"Thank you. Every one has his manner, and my ideas never come to me
until I see them first upon the canvas. But listen, Rosenbusch, does
this dry mental painting take up all your time? Couldn't you steal a
few hours in the day for outside work? A young officer's widow
has given me an order for a portrait of her husband, who fell at
Kissingen, to be inclosed in a wreath of laurels, cypresses, and
passion-flowers--between ourselves, a regular sampler idea. Only think
of it: the departed one on horseback, in the background the city; and
around it all a wreath, like onions about a dish of sauerkraut and
sausages. I let fall a few hints, as to whether it would not look
better, perhaps, if we should leave out the wreath, or at most paint in
the bust of the deceased? But no, it would not do to leave out the
horse, he might almost have been said to have been one of the family,
the widow declared--a beautiful bay stallion with a white star; and he
had also died in consequence of a wound. As the times are bad and the
lady did not find the price I asked any too high, I accepted the
commission. I immediately said to myself, it is nonsense; the horses
that you paint look a good deal like hippopotamuses, so you can't get
it done without Rosenbusch's help; and as he is now at work on his
great picture--but still, as you are only painting it in your head--"

She turned away, so that he should not see the sly look that flashed
over her round face. But, in his wretched state of body and mind, all
his sharpness had left him.

"You know, Angelica," said he, "that if I were painting the battles of
Alexander, I would always have time enough left for you. Besides, one
nag won't be anything of a job. I shall paint him with wide-spread
nostrils snuffing at the wreath, as though the laurels that beckoned to
his master had excited his own appetite. Symbolical allusions like that
can give an interesting air even to the most foolish picture."

"Will you have the goodness to dispense with all your jokes? The matter
is serious, the picture is to be placed on a sort of household altar in
the widow's sleeping-chamber, and a night-lamp is to be kept constantly
burning before it. So, if you will undertake to do the figures,
including, of course, the portrait of the officer--a photograph of the
horse is also to be sent to me to-day--I will paint a wreath around
them, and we will go shares in the fame and money."

She named twice the sum she had asked. For she was determined to let
him have the whole, which would be no inconsiderable sum for him in his
present state. But to her alarm he did not show the slightest joy at
this unhoped-for income.

"My dear friend," he said, "the two departed ones shall be painted, and
I promise you they shall bear as close a resemblance to a fallen hero
and a defunct war-horse as any sorrowing widow could possibly wish. I
will also, if you insist upon it, paint my monogram on the nag's
saddle-cloth, so that we may figure together in art-history, like
Rubens and Blumenbreughel. But you alone must have the money. I will
never consent to be paid in vile lucre for acts of friendship,
especially toward a lady, and above all toward an honored patroness and
neighbor. And, by the way, we can commence at once; I have come to a
halt in my composition--particularly as I have a cold in my head--and
as one finally gets quite confused merely from the number of good
thoughts that come to him--therefore, if you please--"

He approached with arm gracefully bent, in order to escort her over to
her studio.

Angelica knew him well enough to feel sure that nothing in the world
would shake him in the resolution he had taken; and, since everything
that was chivalrous in his character flattered her hidden liking, she
made no attempt to dissuade him. She would find some way of
recompensing him for his trouble without offending his sense of
courtesy, and a great deal had already been won in inducing him to go
to work again and to come into a heated room.

There, to be sure, he was obliged to take off his shawl and appear in
the unlucky dress-coat which, having been intended for Rossel's rounded
proportions, hung very loosely about his shrunken limbs. However, he
was not in the least embarrassed by this, but proceeded to explain to
his friend, with the greatest seriousness, the advantage of having
one's clothes too large. In the summer they were airy, for they caught
the wind; in the winter they retained a larger supply of warm air--a
movable wadding, as it were, between the body and the cloth--while they
were much warmer in an unheated room, especially when covered by a
shawl, on account of their having so much more material. He delivered
this lecture over a cup of tea which Angelica had prepared for him, and
which evidently restored to his inner man the warmth he had so long
been without. As he was never more active than when he was working for
others, the rough sketch of the equestrian portrait was completed in a
few hours, and so skillfully set in Angelica's border of flowers that,
as she expressed it, the whole picture looked "quite crazy enough," and
they were able to proceed at once to the shading.

Over this common labor, that afforded them both great pleasure and gave
occasion for innumerable jests, the forenoon had slipped away unheeded.
Angelica proposed to take her dinner in her studio to-day, against
which proposition Rosenbusch had nothing to object. She dispatched the
janitor with a few secret commissions, and in a short time had
improvised such an excellent meal that Rosenbusch burst out in great
enthusiasm.



                              CHAPTER IV.


This was the first day for many weeks on which he had felt warm, and as
if he had enough to eat. Consequently he only made a few weak protests
when Angelica insisted upon furnishing him his meals so long as their
common labor lasted, and even made as though he did not notice that she
acted like a very Penelope, and again and again put off the completion
of the work under one pretext or another. However, the picture was
finished at last, and Rosenbusch, who had in the mean while grown quite
plump, would have been obliged to fall back again on his fasting and
brooding, had not his friend taken care to provide for him without his
knowledge.

She succeeded in bringing it about that all the friends of the
inconsolable widow became possessed by a desire to have the effigy of
their dead or living husbands, done in the same way. Thus it happened
that our battle-painter was all at once completely overwhelmed with
orders for equestrian portraits, whereat he flew into a great passion,
for the modern uniforms were very much at variance with his Wouverman
tendencies. However, there were always the horses to fall back on, and
upon these he could labor with a good conscience, though he was always
complaining that the modern prejudices in regard to horse-breeding had
exterminated the majestic Flemish and Burgundian breeds. He painted
away at them with great zeal, "for his meals," as he expressed it, and
it was only when the approach of twilight forced him to leave off that
he allowed himself the pleasure of going round to his neighbors, and
inveighing against this servile labor to which his great work was being
sacrificed.

Angelica never replied to his complaints by a single word. She had said
once for all that she thought there was nothing unworthy in his
painting military portraits by the dozen, provided he could get,
respectable prices for them; and in support of this she referred him to
some famous examples. But, in order that she might get him to work
again upon some larger task, she persuaded the young widow to give him
an order for the bombardment of Kissingen, at which her husband had
fallen.

But in this case she had reckoned without her host. He absolutely
refused to paint so prosaic an affair as the bombardment of a modern
city, by modern troops who lay under cover and fired their cannon
unseen. Besides, he had not been present at the affair. Had he taken
part in person at the battle of Lützen? asked Angelica, maliciously.
No; but that was not a parallel case at all. Everybody would like to
have been present at such a glorious hand-to-hand fight as that, and
would, therefore, feel grateful to the artist who did his best to fix
on canvas the rearing chargers, the trumpeters blowing their bugles,
and the foot soldiers charging and dealing blows to right and left with
all their might. Modern battles, on the other hand, showed to quite as
much advantage on the maps of the general staff, where one could follow
on the table the scientifically-planned moves and countermoves by
geometrical lines and different-colored little flags.

He could not be dissuaded from this, for on some subjects even
Angelica's influence over him had its limits. But the more she scolded
him for his obstinacy, and the more unsparing she was of her forcible
expressions, the better pleased she was at heart that he showed himself
so independent, so manly, and so unreasonable; and she often had hard
work to keep from falling out of her _rôle_ and throwing her arms
around his neck.

She was less satisfied with the persistency with which he clung to his
quiet melancholy, even after the beautiful weather had come, and there
was no longer any lack of money, and his loose dress-coat had long
since been exchanged for a natty summer jacket. She attributed this
dejection of one who was generally so light-hearted to his affair with
the beautiful Nanny, of which, contrary to his habit, he never spoke to
her, but which, as she knew, had not turned out very satisfactorily.
And so for many a day she sat dejectedly before her easel, listening to
catch the slightest sound from her friend's silent studio, where, even
now, the flute gave forth no music; while from the deserted rooms below
no sound of mallet and chisel nor any other sound of life reached her
ear.

In the mean while, as we have said, summer had come. Rossel had invited
old Schoepf and his granddaughter to his villa on the lake. But as the
old man did not think it would be just the thing for him to go and live
with the girl under a bachelor's roof, and as she herself would not
listen to the proposal for a moment, our "Fat Rossel" also remained in
town, an arrangement, by-the-way, that was far more agreeable to him.
Kohle alone took up his quarters with old Katie, in order to paint his
allegory of Venus on the wall. The foster-mother had returned from
Florence with a whole trunkful of articles of art and ornament for
Angelica, and a thousand greetings from the happy pair. She was never
tired of telling about the beautiful life the two were leading: how
Herr Jansen had begun some wonderful new works; how the Frenchmen and
Englishmen had gone wild over them; and how happy little Frances was
with her beautiful mamma. She had also seen the baron and Irene, but
nothing had as yet been heard of the young baron.

These accounts had greatly excited the good soul of our friend. Long
after the cheerful little woman had gone, Angelica sat at the table on
which she had spread out Julie's presents, the photographs taken from
the pictures of the Tribuna, the mosaic brooch and the beautiful silks,
and sadly reflected whether she would not have done better if she had
crossed the Alps when she was asked, instead of staying here at home
and torturing her soul with the pangs of a hopeless love.

Just then she heard Rosenbusch rush whistling upstairs with unusual
haste. Immediately after he entered her studio. His face had the same
thoughtless, dare-devil expression that it used to have in his most
flourishing days, when he still wore his violet-velvet coat.

"What news do you bring, Rosenbusch?" asked the painter, who was as
little pleased with his jollity as she had been before with his
dejection. "You look as if you had just made a great find, a genuine
Wouverman at some salt-dealer's, or the red cloth of which Countess
Terzky dreamed in Eger. Well?"

"My honored friend," he remonstrated, "you wrong me, as usual. What I
bring is not antiquities, but two very important items of news, a
serious and a comic one. Which do you wish to hear first?"

"First the serious one. You alarm me, Rosenbusch. Why, you really look
quite solemn."

"It is a devilish serious matter; there is war, real, genuine war,
though the whole thing sounds so absurd that, in spite of the
declaration by France that you can read in all the papers, one feels
almost tempted to bet that it is a newspaper hoax. What do you say now,
Angelica? Is that piece of news serious enough for you?"

"Gracious heavens!" cried Angelica, "what an absurdity!"

"That is a very wise remark of yours, my respected friend; but it can't
be helped; on account of just such absurdities the most sensible men
have lost their lives and whole nations their blood and treasure. To be
sure, there must be wars, else how would the battle-painters live?
However, you know my sentiments on that subject. Considering the
present system of artillery battles and rapid firing, you may be sure
it isn't for the sake of art that I am going."

"You going to the war? You don't know what you are talking about,
Rosenbusch! You a warrior and hero? That is undoubtedly your second
item of news, the comic one, I mean."

"You are again mistaken, and of course to my disadvantage, my dear
patroness. The second item has nothing whatever to do with the first;
on the contrary, if we must regard the first as a public calamity, we
can call the second a joyful private occurrence: Fräulein Nanny and
Herr Franz Xavier Kiederhuber are announced as engaged; the wedding is
to take place in three weeks."

His face had not lost its indifferent expression while he spoke these
words, but yet there was something about his voice as if everything
were not yet quite right.

"My dear friend," she said, at last. "I have been so little _au
courant_ of your affairs of the heart for the last few months, that I
really do not know whether I ought to congratulate you or to assure you
of my silent sympathy, I must tell you frankly, though, that of all
your lovesick moods I never could understand this passion of yours for
that insignificant, coquettish, and not particularly attractive little
doll--" (Even now, when the faithless one had ceased to be dangerous,
Angelica's jealousy vented itself in this harsh criticism.) "And now
for your grief at having found out such a little hypocrite to drive you
into the jaws of a park of artillery, belching forth death and
destruction--"

"It isn't that at all," he interrupted, with a heavy sigh. "It isn't
any sardonic mood that makes me think this vengeance of fate absurd.
For all I care she may make her brewer's son happy, and prefer his beer
and brewery horses to my oil and chargers. That unfortunate love of
mine has long ceased to be anything but a spectre, a mere phantom, as
is shown most clearly by the verses I have composed about it. Elfinger
told me to my face long ago: 'You don't love her at all; the stronger
the love, the weaker the love poems, and yours are unusually good this
time!' Nevertheless, Angelica, you are not altogether wrong in
supposing that I am going off to the war on account of an unhappy
passion. It is the same hopeless affection that has robbed me of my
usual good spirits for some time past. But what's the odds? The powder
that is to remedy this folly has been invented at last!"

"_Another_ unhappy love affair? Oh, you wretch! I could almost take
sides with the beautiful Nanny; she must have found out what a
butterfly with blue-velvet wings was fluttering around her!"

"Well, whether what she did was right or wrong, she certainly conferred
a great favor upon us both by acting as she did. But, just because I
tried to retain my constancy as long as I possibly could, I grew
melancholy when I found how much difficulty I had in feeling the
slightest pain at the faithlessness of this young daughter of the
Philistines--of this Delilah for whom I once out off my beard and
flowing locks. And even though I have been perhaps unduly led, by my
sense of justice, to do homage to different styles of beauty at the
same time or in rapid succession--I am punished now more cruelly than I
have deserved. However, there is no help for it. It is to be hoped it
won't last long. It is true that as volunteer nurses, for as such we
are going to report ourselves (for Elfinger can't stand it any longer
either), we shan't at once get into the heaviest fire; and of course no
one can expect for a moment that we would enter as privates at this
late day, and go through a course of drill, and then follow after the
rest when the sport is all over. But during the battle, when all is
confusion, when human beings are bowled down like lead soldiers,
perhaps there will be a stray bullet for one of us--"

"Don't talk in that godless way, Rosenbusch! It is very noble and brave
of you to want to go with the rest; it certainly does you honor. But,
because it is such a holy cause, do leave your jests behind you; forget
'all lighter trifling, dalliance sweet,' and--and when you are in the
field--and really--"

She suddenly broke off. The thought that he was going to leave her,
that he would be surrounded by dangers and might stand in need of her
help, came over her with such force that she had all she could do to
restrain her tears.

He was gazing at the ground with a sad face, and had not noticed her
emotion.

"You are in one of your jesting moods again," he said, staring at a
large photograph of the Cellini "Perseus." "And I willingly give you
permission to ridicule all my former 'amours and courtesies,' and to
look upon them as Ariostian sports, springing from pure love of
adventure. But, you shall not lay hand on this, my last and lasting
passion. It is of a very different calibre; and, though I dare not
mention its name to you, I am sure you would yourself admit that this
flame has nothing in common with the Nannies, Annies, and Barbaras that
I once loved. But I won't be such a fool as to take you into my
confidence. Then, indeed, you would let out upon me the vials of your
raillery, and I am anxious that we should part good friends."

"You speak in riddles, Rosenbusch. If you really should lose your
reason in a sensible way--I mean over a subject that is worth the
trouble--why should I make fun of you?"

"Because--but no, it is useless to say any more about it. Do tell me,
for Heaven's sake! would you have believed this Monsieur Ollivier to
have been capable of such a vile performance, such a piece of silly
defiance--like a corps-student 'renowning it?' A man that only a little
while ago--"

"No dodging, Herr von Rosebud. You have told me too much for you to try
and put a seal on your lips now. As a woman, and as your true, sincere
friend, it is not only my right but my duty to be curious. Out with
it--who is this latest flame?--and if I can aid you by word or deed--"

Her voice grew unsteady again. She did not dare to look at him. He,
too, let his eyes wander around the studio in another direction.

"If you positively insist upon knowing," he stammered, at last--"and,
after all, there's nothing to be lost or gained by my telling you--the
person of whom I speak is the only female being to whose peace of mind
I can't imagine myself in any way dangerous--I couldn't imagine it even
in a dream. It is impossible for her to feel toward me either love or
hate. She has given me unmistakable proof of this--partly by constantly
scolding, railing, and mocking at me, partly by the kindest and most
brotherly friendship--such as one only shows to a person when one is
absolutely certain that one can never fall in love with him. I ought to
have been warned by this, and have taken better care of my heart. But,
just because such a relation was quite new to me, I fell into it
blindfold, and now I am plunged up to my ears in the most hopeless,
most undying, and most imprudent passion. There you have my confession.
I think you will dispense with my mentioning to you the name of the
person in question. But I won't detain you longer. I see you have your
palette ready to go to work. _Adieu!_"

He turned toward the door. But he had not crossed the threshold when
his name reached his ear--and his heart, too, because of the unusually
tender tone in which it was pronounced. He stood as if rooted to the
spot, and waited to hear what more the voice would say. But he had to
wait a good while, so he spent the intervening time in observing the
wall, which separated this room from his own, and which was large
enough to easily admit of a door being cut through.

"Dear Rosenbusch," the voice began again, at last, eyen a little more
tenderly than before. "What you have said is so new, so entirely
unexpected to me--and then, again, so confusing--come, let us talk
about it like a couple of sensible people and good comrades--"

He again made a movement as though he were going. The beginning did not
strike him as being particularly consoling. "Sensible discussion and
good-fellowship!"--if she had nothing better than that to offer him--

"No," she continued; "hear me out, first. You are always so hasty,
Rosenbusch! If you will only promise me not to be offended at anything
I say--for I would like to be perfectly frank. Will you promise me?"

He nodded rapidly three times in succession, and gave her an almost
timid look; and then hastily looked down again. In the midst of her own
confusion and embarrassment she could not help smiling at the shy,
penitent air of one who was usually such a self-confident lady-killer.

"I can't deny," she said, "that in the first part of our acquaintance
I really did not think much of you; you were--pardon me for saying
it--rather disagreeable than dangerous to me. The very name of
Rosenbusch sounds so perfumed and sentimental--"

"Well!" he ventured to interpose, "Minna Engelken is also a devilish
sweet name!"

"But, still, it doesn't sound so Jewish. I took you for a Jew in
disguise."

"We have been baptized these hundred years, and my grandmother came
from a Christian family, and was a Fräulein Fliedermüller."

"Then, besides, I found you too--how shall I say?--too 'pretty' for a
man, and the others all said you were amiable. Pretty and amiable men
have always been intolerable to me. They are generally conscious of it,
and contemplate themselves in the glass at moments when they are not
watched, and comb their beard and even their eyebrows. And all the
while they care for no one but themselves; and, if they pretend to grow
sentimental over a woman, it is done in such a way that the unfortunate
person thus favored would rather receive a box on the ear than such
homage, if her heart is in the right place. Don't get angry,
Rosenbusch; it isn't your fault that you have such a pretty little nose
and are so amiable--for that you really are. But you will understand;
an old girl who is no longer pretty, and who never was considered
amiable--"

"Oh, Angelica!--"

"No, you mustn't interrupt me. It would be very stupid of me if I were
not wise enough to know how I look, and what impression I make upon
people after having had nearly thirty years in which to make my own
acquaintance. How old are you, Rosenbusch?"

"I shall be thirty-one on the fifth of August."

"Then there is scarcely thirteen months difference between us. Don't
you see, that in itself is an objection? But to proceed: your
flute-playing, your white mice, your many love-affairs; can you blame
me for looking upon you as a man who was not in the slightest degree
dangerous--to me, at least? I had formed a very different idea of the
man who was to win my heart, and, if I chanced to find such a one, I
knew at once that it would be an unfortunate affair if I regarded the
matter seriously. For such men want very different wives, and in that
they are quite right. So I intrenched my poor soul behind my sense of
humor, and, as you see, that was both a good and a bad thing to do;
good, because it has helped me over many a bitter hour; bad, because it
made me appear even less amiable than I really am at bottom. A woman
who has humor, who does not weigh each of her words--where are the men
who still believe that a good, womanly heart lies behind it all? The
conceited men, like yourself, for instance, are especially repelled by
such a one. Unless we cower in sweet bashfulness before your great
words and beards, we are not worthy to be loved by your great souls.
For that reason I was truly never more astonished by anything than by
what you have just said to me. It is true, that since--well, for some
time past I will say--I have gained a very different opinion of you; it
is my duty to confess this to you after having so candidly told you the
rest to your face. I have learned to esteem you highly, Rosenbusch;
I--I even believe I must make use of a stronger expression; I have
conceived a hearty love and affection for you--no, you mustn't
interrupt me by a single word, it must all come out first. Do you know,
on that night when you behaved so naughtily--you recollect it, don't
you?--you took a liberty which you regarded merely as the toll of
gallantry, but which a girl who has any respect for herself--though I
have no prudish notions about such things when people are really in
love with one another--and that was it that made me feel so badly,
because you took such a liberty without really loving me; and I believe
I didn't close an eye half that night, and that I shed many secret
tears, because--because, do what I would, I couldn't be angry with you
for it!"

"Angelica!" he cried, eagerly, approaching to seize her hand, which,
however, she instantly drew back. "Why do you speak this way, if you
will not make me happy--if you will not even let me kiss your hand? No,
I won't be kept from speaking any longer; for, no matter how much about
my bad qualities you may still have on your conscience, you can
no longer deny that you like me, that you think well of me; and
that is the main thing and a thousand times better than I ever dared
to hope. Dearest, best Angelica, only try and believe that even a
thirty-one-year-old battle-painter can improve. I will stop up my flute
with lead, I will give my mice strychnine in a piece of Swiss cheese,
and will wear a covering over my nose so that the children shall run
away at sight of me. And, finally, in regard to my love-affairs--do you
really believe I am so wanting in taste, to say nothing of all nobler
motives, as to have eyes for such every-day doll-faces, after having
found in your countenance the image of all love and goodness, of all
wisdom and grace?"

In the mean while he got possession of one of her hands and pressed
it so earnestly, at the same time gazing into her face with such
true-hearted, mischievous eyes, that she grew quite red and came very
near losing her firmness. However, she quickly recovered herself again
and said:

"You are a truly dangerous man, Rosenbusch. I begin to realize that now
from my own experience. If I did not call to my aid all the little
sense and self-consciousness I possess, we should now fall into one
another's arms, and ruin would take its course. One more name would
stand on your list; you would go to the war, and there, in the great
events that go to make up the history of the world, you would find the
very best excuse for letting this little affair of the heart drop
completely out of your memory. No, my friend, I think too much of
myself for that. I confidently believe that my respected person has
merely become of importance in your eyes, because I have heretofore
withstood your amiability in a perfectly incomprehensible way. As soon
as you should become convinced that I too am only a weak woman, I
should become a matter of great indifference to you. Now, it is true,
my stupid honesty has prevented me from concealing this from you; but I
don't regard myself as hopelessly lost even yet. Now, if you go to the
war, we shall both be equally well off. We shall both have ample time
and opportunity for forgetting one another. I, to be sure, here alone
in this deathly quiet house, where I hear nothing but the squeak of
your mice--I shall have somewhat the harder time. But perhaps some
other dangerous youth will move into your quarters--a dark-complexioned
Hungarian or Pole--I have always had a partiality for brunettes, and
for that reason alone it is a great mistake for me to love you with
your red beard."

She had to turn her head away, it was impossible for her to conceal her
emotion any longer by forced jests. She stealthily pressed her curls
against her overflowing eyes, but, nevertheless, she shook her head
when he put his arm around her and drew her to his breast.

"No, no!" she whispered; "I don't believe it even now. You shall see it
will turn out badly. It's so silly of my stupid tears to give the lie
to my wisest words; and then, too, my foolish heart, that ought to be
old enough not to let itself be deluded--"

                           *   *   *   *   *

On the evening of the same day Angelica wrote a long letter to Julie.

After she had relieved her heart of a thousand things that concerned
her friend alone, and had arrived at the end of the twelfth page, she
finally summoned up all her courage, took a fresh sheet, and wrote the
following postscript:

"To tell you the truth, I was going to be so cowardly and deceitful as
to send off this letter without telling you of the great event of this
day. I don't mean the declaration of war by France, which will be an
old story by the time this letter comes into your hands, but the
offensive and defensive alliance that I have to-day concluded. With
whom, I should very much prefer you should guess for yourself. But as
it will be too long for me to wait before I can learn whether you have
guessed rightly or not--and as one is said to lose in shrewdness what
one gains in happiness--I will state at once that the artful man
who has surprised my well-known firmness and prudence is no other
than--Rosenbusch. I hope you are not so far-sighted as to see that in
making this confession I blush to such an extent as to do all honor to
my future name--though my rosiness is of a somewhat faded sort. Oh,
dearest! what is our heart? It really seems as though that inexplicable
and irresponsible something within us that controls the blood in its
course and makes the hand cold or warm if we place it in that of
another, exists almost independently of all those other forces which
govern that little world we call the individual. How often have I made
this dear fellow-creature the butt of my merciless sallies! How often,
when alone with you, have I caricatured his weaknesses and human
frailties--to be sure he has changed very much since you last
saw him--and made merry over this rat-catcher with his flute and
blue-velvet coat! And all the while my heart sat in its cell as still
as a mouse and made no movement; nay, even my conscience did not rebel
at the godless way in which I denied that love we are commanded to feel
toward our fellow-creatures. And now all of a sudden--

                 'Frailty, thy name is woman!'

Oh, dearest! do promise me to forget all my malicious sayings just as
quickly as possible, and to believe that I had long been convinced of
the critical state of my heart, even before this bad man confessed his
feelings to me. I did not write you anything about it, because I
naturally regarded the matter as a wretched piece of stupidity on the
part of this above-mentioned heart, and even now I can't quite believe
in it. You know I never was very lucky in regard to real happiness. And
for that reason I haven't much faith even now; if it is true that he
loves me to distraction, as he declares he does, I feel convinced I
shan't get any enjoyment out of it, and he will be sure to get killed,
for he is going off to the war as a volunteer nurse. And yet I have not
tried to dissuade him from taking this manly step. You remember that my
chief objection to him was that he wasn't quite manly enough. And now,
after all, his love is to be put to the test of fire, and we shall see
whether he will bring it home uninjured from the smoke and horror of
battle! How shall I bear the separation! I shall paint a few poor
pictures and get a few gray hairs, and then when he comes back he will
realize clearly what a mistake he has made. But, as God wills! I'll
bear it quietly. The times are so great, who has the right to think of
his or her poor person? All is enthusiasm; Elfinger is going too (his
little nun seems to have driven him to desperation), and, what will
rejoice you, Schnetz has joined his old regiment again, and looks upon
life like a new man. It touched me to hear our good Kohle, who paid me
a visit this morning, curse his poor health, which shut him out from
all the hardships of war. He has designed a splendid tableau: Germania
on the summit of the Lurlei rock, from which she has cast down the
enchantress in order to excite all her sons to battle against the enemy
by her song of triumph. Rossel, who, of course, would be perfectly
useless away from his rocking-chair, has at least subscribed a thousand
gulden for the benefit of the wounded. Every one according to his
strength. I shall make lint of my paint rags, and sacrifice my heart's
blood for the cause in another way. Farewell! Rejoice in your
unclouded, paradisaical, peaceful life in the beautiful South; and
write to me soon, dearest, beautifullest, happiest, only sister mine!
Rosenbusch wishes to be remembered. A fortnight more--and then in this
whole house, where so many dear ones have lived and labored, there will
beat but one lonely heart--that of your                  Angelica."



                               CHAPTER V.


When that old earth-shaker Vesuvius grows tired of his peaceful
slumbers and, breaking out into sudden fury, lights up the night far
and wide with his flaming torch, till all around is bathed in purple--

                             "In Capri the Marina
                        And Naples Day and Mergellina,"

--not only is the hut of the poorest vintager reddened by the terrible
glow, but, in the yard behind, the water bubbles in the well, and a man
skilled in reading the signs can estimate the strength of the eruption
from the boiling and steaming of this narrow, walled-up fountain with
as much accuracy as from the surf of the open sea, that washes the foot
of the buried cities.

So, too, are the changes of that light, which streams from those
immortal deeds and sufferings that move the world, reflected in the
lives of humble mortals; and it would be no slight task to trace out
the signs of such a time not merely on the battle-field, but in the
homes and huts of those who were left behind.

A psychological study of war, such as we may expect from some one
better fitted for the task, will have to bring out this reverse side of
the medal sharply and clearly. But the novel steps back modestly when
its elder brother, the epic, in glittering armor and with clang of
arms, enters once more upon the world's arena. Where every individual
lot was so completely merged in the fate of the nation, we should give
the reader but a poor idea of our friends if we showed them as busy
with themselves, their personal aims, duties and interests. That each
of them had proved himself ready, according to his manner and ability,
Angelica's letter has already shown us. Therefore we are all the more
sorry that the excellent writer herself did not quite rise to the level
of the time.

It is true it never occurred to her to complain that the Eden-like
condition of a life devoted to art, and removed from all worldly
turmoil--where beauty is the highest aim of all striving, and that
alone has the right to existence which is perfect in itself--had
suddenly been destroyed, and had given place to a hard, merciless
reality. Upon the whole she had a warm appreciation of the magnitude of
the great historical issue at stake, and it filled her with joyful
enthusiasm to see how earnestly all who were connected with her, as
well as the whole people, felt the force of the old proverb that one
should make a virtue of necessity.

Yet in spite of all this her heart, usually so brave, was unable to
preserve this heroic spirit, that sustained many a weaker one, through
the long time of trial.

Even when taking leaving of Rosenbusch she had shown herself strong.
She felt it her duty not to make heavy her parting lover's heart, but
to give him, in her own person, an example of the way one should
sacrifice one's dearest wishes on the altar of the fatherland, with
smiling magnanimity. But this "_P[oe]te, non dolet_" revenged itself
upon her. Scarcely was she alone, when she reproached herself for
having pretended an unwomanly hardness and severity that was calculated
to frighten away her sensitive friend, rather than to bring him nearer
to her. She immediately wrote him a long letter, in which, for the
first time, she confessed her great love for him without reserve;
beseeching him in the most moving terms not to expose his life
recklessly, sending him all her prescriptions for rheumatism and chafed
feet, and entreating him to write to her at least once a week.

These weekly letters of his were now the only thing for which she
seemed to live, aside from the mere mechanical activity with which she
devoted herself to works of charity in the women's societies and on her
own account. She never appeared among her friends except on those
occasions when she had just received one of these letters from the
front, and then she came running to old Schoepf, her cheeks glowing
with joy, to tell him the latest news about Rosenbusch and Elfinger,
and to have pointed out to her, on the special map that Rossel had
given the old man, the exact spot where her lover must now be. But for
everything else she showed but slight interest, just as she seemed to
have completely lost her humor.

She was only amusing when she came to speak about the _francs tireurs_
and the treachery of the native inhabitants, by whom she was
perpetually imagining her lover attacked, plundered, maltreated, or
even killed, in spite of the red cross which she had made and sewed on
his coat-sleeve with her own hands. On these occasions she indulged
in such droll maledictions upon the Gallic national character,
and recounted such incredible instances of her own cowardice and
ghost-seeing, especially at night, that she finally had to join in with
the laughter of the others, going home again with her heart somewhat
lightened.

During all this war time she did not touch a brush. As nobody cared for
flower pictures, it was evidently a saving for her to cut up her canvas
and make use of it for sewing purposes, rather than to waste oil colors
on it.

She never allowed any of the camp letters that her tender-hearted lover
wrote her to be seen by any one else. They were love-letters, she said,
and not newspapers, and belonged to her alone. Once only did she
prevail upon her heart to part with one, in order to give her friend in
Florence a pleasant Christmas surprise, for Julie knew that she could
give away nothing in the world that was dearer to her than such a token
of life and love from the hand of her betrothed. She accounted to Julie
for the fact that this epistle, a comic rhymed affair in Rosenbusch's
old light-hearted manner, sounded less tender than the others, by
explaining that it was accompanied by an extra sheet in prose, which
dealt with the intimate affairs of the heart. True to the profound
saying of Elfinger--"The stronger the love, the weaker the verses"--our
lover had taken good care not to compose his actual love-letters in
rhyme, for which Angelica felt grateful to him in her soul.



                              CHAPTER VI.


The hard war winter was over; the spring had brought peace and the
birth of a new German Empire; and midsummer saw the victorious host
returning to its home.

It is just two years since that day when our story began. Once more it
is hot and still in the Theresienwiese, so still that a flute concerto
from the window of the studio building could be heard for a long
distance around. But the flute is silent. Moreover, although it is a
weekday, a Sunday calm hangs over the country round about. No roll of
carriages is heard, and no people are seen hurrying busily through the
streets of the suburb. Yet the great bronze maiden before the
Ruhmeshalle does not seem surprised at this loneliness and quiet. It is
true, without raising herself on tiptoe, she can look away over the
houses of the city, to the gate on which stands a smaller likeness of
herself in a chariot of victory, drawn by four stately lions with
majestic heads and manes. And so she knows the reason why everything in
her neighborhood appears as if it were dead. Just as the blood from the
whole body streams swiftly to the centre of life, when some sudden
stroke of fear or surprise reaches the heart, leaving the extremities
paralyzed and lifeless, so the whole population had collected around
that spot where their heart was to-day--the arch of triumph through
which the conquerors were to enter. The great bronze woman sees the
flash of arms and the waving of flags on the high-road before any one
else, and something like a smile flits across her tightly-shut lips.
Any one who had been watching her closely at this moment would have
seen that she raised her arm higher than usual, and slightly moved the
wreath in her hand, as if in token of greeting to the triumphal
procession. This occurred just as the bells rang out from all the
church towers in the city, and a shout of joy from a hundred thousand
throats announced the arrival of the advance guard.

Among the entering host are two faces well-known to us.

At the head of his regiment, which has left nearly half its number on
the cold ground at Bazeilles and Orleans, and for that reason has to
accept a double tribute of flowers from the windows on the right and
left, rides Captain von Schnetz, his lank figure seated bolt upright in
the saddle, his breast blazing with orders, and his whole person
covered from head to foot with the bouquets which, aimed at the rider,
have fallen off and been handed up to him by the boys that run along at
his side. He has decorated his sword with them, and his helmet, and his
pistols, and his horse's trappings, although usually he is no great
admirer of flowers. Nor does he do this now for his own glorification
or pleasure. But he knows that, at a window in the first story of that
stately house over yonder, there sits a woman, thin and prematurely
old, but whose cheeks, usually so pale, wear a joyous flush to-day, and
whose eyes, grown faded through long suffering, beam once more with
something of the brightness and hopefulness of youth. It is to this
woman that he wants to show himself in his covering of flowers.
Heretofore, she has worn a crown of thorns; now he wants to show her
the promising future he has won for himself and her. But she sees him
from a distance only. When the good, honesty yellow-leather-colored
face, with its black imperial, rides by, close to the house, her eyes
are so bedimmed by tears that she only sees, as if through a veil, how
he lowers his sword to her in salute, and bows slightly with his
garlanded helmet. The wreath which she has held ready for him falls
from her trembling hand over the railing upon the heads of the densely
packed crowd below. But they seem to know for whom it is intended. In a
second twenty hands have helped to pass it along to him, and now it is
handed up to the rider, who lets all the others slide off his sword so
that this one alone shall be wound about it.

Not far behind this brave soldier rides another, upon whom, likewise,
the eyes of the women and girls in the windows gaze with pleasure,
though he is a stranger to them all, and, for his part, very rarely
lets his dark eyes rest on any of these blooming faces. For who is
there here whom he cares to seek? And whose face would he be glad to
see unexpectedly? It was only with great reluctance and in order not to
offend Schnetz, who asked it of him as a particular proof of
friendship, that he finally consented to take part in the entrance of
the troops, and to visit once more the city which had so many bitter
associations for him. These last two years--what a different man they
had made of him! And yet--although he was firmly convinced that the
source of every joy was dried up in his innermost heart, and that
henceforth nothing was left to him but a barren satisfaction at duties
conscientiously fulfilled--even he could not altogether escape the
festal mood of this marvelous hour. His handsome face, made bolder and
keener by the hardships of war, lost the sad, hard expression which had
never been absent from it during the whole year; a bright
determination, a quiet earnestness, beamed from his eyes. As he rode
through the triumphal avenue strewn with flowers, amid the chime of
bells and the wildest shouts of joy, he lost the consciousness of his
own hopeless lot, and became merged, as it were, in the great,
pervading spirit of a unique and sublime festival, which would never
come again; and to take part in which, with the Iron Cross on his
breast, and honorable, scarcely healed wounds underneath, was a
privilege which might well be thought to compensate for all the lost
bliss of a young life.

After the entrance ceremonies were over, he wended his way toward the
garden on the Dultplatz, where he thought there would be the least
danger, to-day, of meeting any one of his acquaintances. Here,
surrounded on all sides by the country-folk who had streamed into the
city in great crowds, he sat in the shade of the ash-trees and, like a
dream, the events of the last two years passed in review before him;
from that first Sunday afternoon when he dined here with Jansen and his
new friends, down to the present moment, when he sat in the crowd
solitary and alone, sought by no friendly eye, and merely stared at as
one of that great host which had done honor to its fatherland.

The crowd in the garden had already begun to thin out a little when
Schnetz touched the dreamer on the shoulder. He did not speak a word
about the meeting he had just had with his wife; but such an unwonted
joyousness could be detected in his voice and bearing that for the
first time Felix began to feel a quiet envy of this happy man, who had
been expected and welcomed by some one whom he loved. He, for his part,
would have greatly preferred to leave the town again before night; for
after the first glow of enthusiasm was over, his spirits had once more
become so gloomy that he would have given a great deal to escape from
the festivities of the evening. But he had promised Schnetz a whole
day, and he had too often been under obligations to his friend, in the
hard days of trial that winter, not to grant him this small favor.

"Of course I will let you off from all ceremonial visits," said his
friend, as they left the garden arm-in-arm. "But we really must go and
pay our respects to the invalids, and afterward shake hands with Fat
Rossel. He would never forgive you if you didn't think it worth while
to congratulate him in his new state; and, besides, it is all up with
your _incognito_. At the window from which our friend Rossel viewed the
spectacle sat another individual, who once upon a time took a great
fancy to your worthy self, and who, notwithstanding the fact that her
grandpapa and husband stood behind her, gave vent to her patriotic
enthusiasm in the most unrestrained manner possible, throwing all the
flowers in her basket at you at one go. But, of course you, like Hans
the Dreamer, rode past your happiness all unconscious of it."

"What, Red Zenz? And she recognized me?"

"In spite of your uniform and short-cropped hair. But you must accustom
yourself to a more respectful way of speaking of her. One speaks now of
Frau Crescentia Rossel, _née_ Schoepf. They wrote me about this affair
a good while ago; but as you refused, once for all, to listen to any
news about Munich matters, I kept this event from you also. It must
have come about curiously enough, and quite after the manner of the
creature as she was then--I mean, before she had been tamed by the yoke
of wedlock. You know--or don't you know yet?--that Rossel lost his
whole fortune some time ago. He had invested it with his brother, who
was at the head of a mercantile firm in the Palatinate, carrying on a
brisk trade with France. This brother became a bankrupt in consequence
of the war, and our Fat Rossel would have become a miserably poor devil
overnight if he had not owned the house in the city and the villa out
there on the lake. He immediately sold the house with all its
appurtenances, of course at a low enough figure, for no one had much
money to spare in war time. But for all that it was such a good round
sum, that the interest from it just succeeded in keeping his head above
water, though he could no longer live like a _grand seigneur_. A
purchaser might also have been found for the villa; but in order not to
disturb our good Kohle, who was in the very midst of his Venus
frescoes, he resisted the temptation, and--who would have thought
it?--aroused himself from his bear-skin to take up his brush again,
though, to be sure, with much grumbling and cursing. This act of
heroism seems to have melted, for the first time, the armor of ice in
which the heart of the little red coquette was encased; particularly as
he did not for a moment bemoan the loss of the property on his own
account, but only expressed the deepest sympathy for his brother.
To be brief, as he perceptibly pined away under all this, partly from
love-sickness, partly because he had been obliged to dispense with
the services of his all-too-sumptuous cook, this singular creature
was touched with pity for his troubles, appeared one day in the
scantily-furnished lodgings with which the former Sardanapalus was now
forced to content himself, and announced to him, without any further
ceremony, that she had been thinking the matter over, and was willing
to marry him. She felt, to be sure, not a spark of sentimental love for
him--such a love as that she had experienced but once in her life, and
then it had gone badly with her--but she no longer felt any aversion
toward him, and since he needed a wife who understood something about
housekeeping, he had better go and make inquiries whether there wasn't
another room and a kitchen to be had on the same floor, in which case
they could go on living there.

"And they say the arrangement has really worked very well so far. Of
course old Schoepf has gone to live with them; and Uncle Kohle, who, in
the mean while, has refused the hand of Aunt Babette, and has quietly
gone on painting his Venus allegories in spite of Sedan and Paris, also
sleeps and takes his meals there; and Rossel paints one glorious
picture after another, protesting all the while, they say, against this
useless expenditure of strength, and longing for the time when he can
finally settle down to rest. I have my private suspicions, however,
that, in spite of all this talk, he is more contented with his present
life, even leaving his marital joys out of the question, than with the
barren seeds of thought which he, lying idly on his back, once
scattered to all the winds of heaven."



                              CHAPTER VII.


In the mean while they had passed through the city, which was
richly decked out with flags, wreaths and mottoes, while crowds of
joyfully-excited people surged up and down the streets--and had arrived
at the English garden.

"Where are you taking me to?" asked Felix. "There is no hospital within
twenty miles of here, unless they have been turning the Chinese tower
into one."

"Come along," answered Schnetz. "You'll soon get things straight. The
queen-dowager selected the place herself, and no doubt many a poor
fellow will make true the saying: '_hodie eris mecum in Paradiso_.'"

"In the Paradise garden? _In our Paradise?_ The boldest imagination
among us all could never have dreamed of such a thing as our meeting
there again under such different circumstances."

"_Sic transit!_--And besides, our friends are, fortunately, much too
lively a pair of birds of paradise not to fly away again some fine
day."

When they reached the garden gate, they saw that all the benches under
the trees were empty, although in all the other beer-gardens they had
passed the people sat packed close together. An inscription indicated
the different use to which the house was now devoted, and the few
grave-looking people who met them--among the rest women with eyes red
from weeping, leading little children by the hand, and further back in
the garden the pale, tottering figures of convalescents--formed a sharp
contrast to the noisy, merry crowd that was generally to be found here
on holidays. The two friends walked thoughtfully round to the other
side of the house, and, being in uniform, had no difficulty in
obtaining admittance.

They had made the rounds of many a hospital-ward within the last year,
and had seen the after-effects of the war in much more horrible
pictures than any that clean, quiet rooms could offer them.

And yet now, when they beheld once more the halls which they had left
in the blaze of the carnival time, robbed of all their ornaments,
and the sisters of charity moving softly up and down the long row of
sick-beds, soothing a moan of pain here and mixing a cooling drink
there; and the grotesque frescoes on the bare walls no longer concealed
by tall plants; and outside the window the pure sunlight shimmering
through the green treetops, instead of the midnight stars looking in
upon a merry feast--such mingled feelings came over them that neither
could utter a word.

They started to look for their friends. But strange faces only looked
up at them from their beds of pain. Finally, a young doctor gave them
the desired information.

The halls down below here were already full when the two gentlemen had
been brought in. So they had willingly acceded to their request to have
a room to themselves, and had quartered them in the top story. He
offered to guide them up there himself; but this Schnetz gratefully
declined, not wishing to take him away from his patients.

So they mounted to the corridor of the top story, and at the very first
door which they came to they heard a voice from the room within that
caused them to start. It was a soft, girlish voice reading something
aloud--verses, as it seemed.

"It isn't likely they are in here," muttered Schnetz, "unless they have
been seized with a pious fit, and have consented to let a sister of
charity come in and edify them with her hymn-book. Well, there have
been instances.--But no, this hymn-book has never seen the inside of a
church, at all events."

They listened, and distinctly heard the lines.

"'Holy Maid of Orleans, pray for us!'" cried Schnetz. "I must be
greatly mistaken in my man, if Elfinger isn't found somewhere near when
Schiller is being spouted."

Without stopping to knock, he softly opened the door, and entered with
Felix.

It was a high but not a very large room, whose only window opened on
the rear of the garden. Only a single ray of the afternoon sunshine
streamed through the gray blind and fell upon one of the beds that
stood near the wall on the right; while the other cot, opposite it, was
surrounded by a high Spanish screen, and was pushed back so as to be
entirely in the shade.

On the bed to the right lay Rosenbusch, covered over with a thin
blanket, the upper part of his body propped up into a half-sitting
posture by pillows, holding a sketchbook on his knees and busily
engaged in drawing.

Except that his face was somewhat paler, he showed no traces of the
hardships he had suffered; but on the contrary, his bright eyes beamed
from under a red fez as merrily, and he looked as fresh as he lay there
in his loose jacket, with his carefully-tended beard, as though he had
made his toilet for the express purpose of receiving visits.

"I could have told you so!" he cried to his friends, as they entered
(the reader who sat behind the screen was silent in an instant)--"the
first visit of the saviours of the fatherland, on this day of triumph,
is to the invalid's paradise. God greet you, noble souls! You find us
here as well provided for as if we were in the lap of Abraham; art,
poetry, and love, make our life beautiful, and the fare is ample;
though, unfortunately, we are on invalids' diet. No, you mustn't look
at what I am scribbling. Or rather, for all I care, you may look at the
thing as much as you like. A Rosenbusch, _seconda maniera_, or _terza_
rather, if I count in my classical period, my parting of Hector and
Iphigenia _à la_ David. Now, as you see, we are splashing about in
realism of the most modern sort--Father Wouverman will turn in his
grave, but I can't help that. And, after all, this pack of Turcos and
Zouaves are by no means to be despised. Magnificent contrasts of
color, set off by the vineyard scenery, and our own blue devils over
there--like a thunder-cloud. By Jove! it won't look bad, will it? Do
you know what the secret of modern battle-painting is, the clew to the
riddle, to find which I had first to have a hole shot in my thigh? The
episode, my dear fellow, nothing but the episode. Grouping in masses,
tricks of tactics--nonsense, a map would do just as well for that
purpose. But to condense in an episode the prevailing character of a
whole battle--that is the point. Those old fellows had an easy time of
it, for in those days a great, murderous battle was nothing but a
handful of episodes. Well, every man must accommodate himself to the
length of his blanket."

"Tours is long enough to keep you warm, old comrade-in-arms," replied
Schnetz, examining the ingenious sketch with great pleasure. "But how
goes it with your bodily progress?"

"Thanks. Fairly. In six or eight weeks I hope to prove myself quite a
lively dancer at my own wedding. I only wish," he added, in a lower
voice, with a slight movement of the head toward the other bed--"that
our friend over opposite had such bright prospects--"

"Herr von Schnetz!" they now heard Elfinger's sonorous voice say from
behind the screen--"You seem to have completely forgotten that there
are other people living on the other side of the mountain. Whom have
you brought with you? To judge from the step it is our brave baron.
Won't the gentlemen be so kind as to do a poor blind man the honor? You
will find some one else here who will be very glad to welcome my old
friends again."

At the first sound of these cheerful words, which moved him painfully,
Schnetz had stepped behind the screen and seized the hands the sick man
gropingly held out to him. Felix, too, approached. Elfinger could not
raise his head from the pillow on account of the ice compress that was
laid across both eyes, but the pale, finely-formed face beneath it lit
up with such a joyful smile, that the two friends were so moved they
could hardly stammer out the necessary words of greeting.

A slim young figure had risen from the chair at the head of the bed to
make room for the gentlemen. She still held in her hand the book from
which she had been reading, and her delicate face blushed when Schnetz
turned and cordially pressed her hand.

"I need not introduce you to one another," said Elfinger. "Baron Felix,
too, will probably recollect my little Fanny, from having met her at
that memorable boating party. In those days we two were not so well
acquainted with one another as we are now, for, as you know, 'it must
be dark for Friedland's stars to shine.' I still had one eye too many.
It is only since I have been left quite in the darkness that she has
clearly seen that her heavenly bridegroom would not be angry with her
for being unfaithful to him in order to light a poor blind cripple
through life. Isn't it so, sweetheart?"

"Don't boast in such a godless way," they heard Rosenbusch call out,
"as if it were on your account, _pour tes beaux yeux_, as messieurs our
hereditary enemies say, that she became converted and joined our
society. Nonsense! Fräulein Fanny, it is simply because you have to do
penance for your faithless sister, and redeem the honor of the Munich
women."

"Be quiet over there, most fickle of mortals," cried Elfinger; "or I'll
complain of you to Angelica. You must know they take turns in nursing
us, these two good angels; and although that frivolous man opposite
ought to thank God that such an excellent woman has finally received
him into grace, he is perpetually making love to my sweetheart over the
screen. Fortunately, I have, once and for all, said good-by to
jealousy, which would certainly be ridiculous enough in a blind man--"

"I hope you exaggerate, Elfinger," interrupted Felix; "when we took
leave of one another in Versailles the doctor gave us great reason to
hope--"

"The way was a trifle long, and the snow-storm that welcomed us home to
our fatherland--pshaw! If it is so, and I only have enough twilight
left for me to recognize the outlines of a certain face when it is
close to mine, I will be happy. But even if this is no longer possible,
ought I not to count my lot fortunate? 'I had it once--I tell you I can
recall all the faces I loved as distinctly as if I had a pair of
perfect eyes in my head--" he felt for the hand of the blushing girl
and pressed it to his lips. "And now," he said, "enough about my
respected self. Since we last saw one another the most wonderful events
have come to pass. The German empire and the German emperor! Good God,
we praise Thee! Do you know, since all this happened I have begun to
have some hope for the German stage again?"

"At all events, your colleagues have learned how to play the _rôle_ of
heroes respectably well, without opening their mouths wide, rolling
their eyes, and sawing the air with their arms and legs."

"No, but seriously, do you remember our first conversation on this
subject, my dear baron? Now just see whether I haven't cause for hope.
Our want of unity was chiefly to blame for the wretched state of our
stage. Imagine thirty-six court-theatres fighting with one another for
the few actors who really have talent. Now, my idea is that, when they
have become a little sick of military spectacles up there in the
imperial capital, they will arrive at the conclusion that a great
nation also needs a national theatre; not one in name, but one which
shall really unite all the best talents. A model manager, a model
repertoire, and model performances, not given oftener than, at the
most, two days running; and not with one eye on Melpomene and Thalia,
and the other on the cash-box, so that a miserable clap-trap piece will
be allowed to remain on the desecrated boards thirty consecutive
nights, merely because a few actresses change their dresses seven times
in the course of the performance. Only the very choicest pieces must be
selected, from the classical and modern stock, and the parts must be
filled only by the strongest actors. All real talent must be engaged at
any price, though there should be three Franz Moors and Ophelias
playing against one another at the same time; and the whole must be
emancipated from all court influence, and regarded as an imperial
affair under the charge of the Minister of Culture, who should be
responsible to the nation. What do you say to such a stage?"

"That it will continue to be too fine for this world for some time to
come," answered Schnetz. "But who knows? Even this world can improve;
we have seen how it has done in other fields. I only fear that, even
under the most favorable circumstances, the other Germans will
respectfully decline to give money, _in majorem imperii gloriam_, for a
theatre of which the Berliners alone will reap the benefit."

"Naturally," cried Elfinger, gesticulating excitedly; "and they would
have a perfect right to do so. For that very reason my plan is to make
this model stage accessible to all the empire. What else do we have
railroads for, and the gala-performances that have been attempted here
and there? All that is necessary is that it should be made a regular
institution. Six winter months in Berlin, a month's vacation, four
months' of triumphal progress of the imperial actors through all the
cities of Germany in which a worthy temple of the muses can be found,
then another month of rest, and so on with grace _in infinitum_. Don't
say a word against it! The thing has its difficulties, but, when we
shall have gotten our theatrical Bismarck, you will see how well it
will work, and then everybody will wonder why it was not thought of
long before. Isn't it natural that the talent for impersonation should
also grow richer among a people who have finally won self-respect, who
have learned how to walk, and to stand, and to talk as well as the rest
of the world? I--of course, I have retired from the scene. But,
nevertheless, I can work for it. I will give instruction in
declamation; I will open the minds of the young actors; I will show
them how to recite verses and bring style into their prose--you know
rhapsodists always have been blind from time immemorial--and with the
aid of my little wife here, and of my tremendous memory--"

At this moment the young doctor came in. He had heard Elfinger's
earnest speech outside in the corridor, and came to warn him not to
over-excite himself. His friends took leave at once.

"I hope you won't leave Munich without having seen Angelica again,"
said Rosenbusch. Felix, though he would greatly have preferred not to
look up any one else, had to promise that he would call on her. He did
not notice the peculiarly sly look which the painter bestowed upon
Schnetz. Still, although he believed he should not see these two good
friends again, he left them with a comforted feeling. He knew that
each, after his own fashion, had attained the goal of all his wishes.



                             CHAPTER VIII.


Outside, they were swallowed up again in the roaring and surging human
stream, and borne toward the city. The old countess drove past them in
a very elegant open carriage, her daughter by her side, and her son
and son-in-law on the back seat, both in uniform and decorated with
medals of honor. The happy old woman, who was taking the fresh glories
of her family out for a ride, and gazing around her with proud eyes,
recognized Schnetz immediately, and nodded to him with amiable
familiarity. She looked at his companion through her eye-glass, but did
not appear to know him.

"Brave youngsters," muttered Schnetz. "Whatever else you may say of
them, they certainly fought well. But now let's take a drosky. Of
course, our young husband lives outside there where the last houses
are."

As they drew up before Rossel's quarters--a plain little house in
the Schwanthalerstrasse--they caught sight of a woman's head at the
flower-framed window above; but it was instantly drawn in again.

"Madame is at home," said Schnetz, with a smile. "Of course, she has
been expecting your visit, and has probably arrayed herself in great
style. Hold on tight to your heart, _triumphator_!"

Upon arriving up-stairs, they were not received by the lady of the
house herself, as he had expected, but by a servant-girl, who conducted
them into the studio. In comparison with the luxuriously-furnished
room in which their friend used to recline on his picturesque
bear-skin in his own house, this one was very scantily decorated.
There were no costly Gobelin tapestries, beautiful bronze vases,
and brilliantly-polished pieces of furniture in the style of the
Renaissance. But on some of the easels stood pictures in various stages
of completion, and the artist himself advanced to meet them, in his
shirt-sleeves and with his palette on his arm.

"So here you are again!" he cried. "Now thanks be to all the gods that
you have come back with sound limbs and unscratched faces! You have a
fine piece of work behind you. Nor have we stay-at-homes been lazy in
the mean while; and though not fighting for emperor and empire, we can
at least say of ourselves that we have been working _pour le roi de
Prusse_. But it makes no odds, let us hope for better times; in the
mean while I am trying to drive away the blues with this daubing. For
Heaven's sake, don't look at the things; they are wretched efforts,
merely made in order to try my brush again. For that matter, you
mustn't look about you here at all--_quantum mutatus ab illo!_ Of all
my household goods, I have retained nothing but my Boecklin; a thing of
that sort is like a tuning-fork when one has lost the key-note. Neither
must you inspect me too closely. I am reduced, my dear fellows, very
much reduced. You see I have shrunken to unnatural proportions; what
has become of my rounded form? But, what could be expected when a man
gets to work by eight o'clock every day, and so violates his holiest
principles? But wait, I will go and call my wife. She is the thing best
worth seeing in the whole house."

He made his friends sit down on a small leather sofa that bore little
resemblance to the celebrated "West-easterly" divan of former days,
and ran out calling for his wife. In the mean while, they had time to
look around. So much that was excellent met their view on all the
canvases--such clearness, and simplicity in form and color--that they
were moved to sincere enthusiasm, and eagerly expressed their delight
to one another.

"You are too good," Rossel's voice rang out behind them. "It is
possibly true that, in the course of time, I have become a passably
good colorist. It isn't for nothing that a man refrains from his own
sins for ten years, and has no other thoughts than to get at the
secrets of the great. But so long as no one cares a rap about it, it
remains a barren, private delight, and finally withers like a plant in
a cellar. Who cares, nowadays, whether human flesh like this looks
fresh, or as if it had been tanned? The subject, the idea, and now, to
cap the climax, the patriotic sentiment--no offense, my heroes! Even in
that way we can drag ourselves out of the slough; of course, upon
condition that we give that nixie there a petticoat, and provide that
fisher-boy with a pair of swimming-trousers at the very least."

"Amid all these profound remarks we have wandered from the main point
again," said Schnetz. "Where is your wife?"

"She asks to be excused--says she is engaged--and won't show herself at
any price. I told her to her face it was only on account of the Herr
Baron. 'Of course,' she answered, 'I wouldn't mind the first-lieutenant
at all.' Oh, my dear friends, if I only were not so hen-pecked! But I
can assure you, much as I have always raved about women without brains,
I now see clearly that they are the very ones who know how to succeed
in having their own way. However, in the present case, it has turned
out to my advantage. For no matter how free from prejudices one may be,
he can't help making a wry face when he sees his wife blush slightly in
saying good-day to her first and only love. Won't you come and dine
with me to-morrow? Little, but cordially offered--_un piatto di
maccheroni, una brava bistecca, un fiasco di vino sincero_. I think the
lady of the house will make her appearance too--"

Felix excused himself by saying that he was to leave on the following
day. Old Schoepf now entered, looking a little more dried up than
of yore, and with his dark face almost completely covered by his
snow-white hair and beard. He was in the best of spirits, and inquired
eagerly about the campaign experiences of his friends. When the
conversation turned upon Kohle, the old man declared that they must
certainly go out and visit him at the villa, to see the frescoes he had
already finished. He had only allowed himself a half-holiday, and had
hurried back again as soon as the entrance of the troops was over, to
add the last touches to the paneling. When Felix had to decline this
invitation likewise, the old gentleman bestowed a look of questioning
surprise upon his grandson-in-law; but he refrained from pressing the
young man any further, who acted as though the ground of Munich burned
under his feet.

Felix was obliged to tell his friends about the position that awaited
him in Metz. On more than one occasion he had attracted attention at
headquarters, and his judgment and energy, the fact that he was
acquainted with the French language, and, perhaps, the wish to have
some one who was not a Prussian connected with the administration of
the conquered province, had united in causing him to be made aide to
the new governor of the frontier fortress. To carry out properly a task
which combined such difficult and untried elements, fresh minds were
required--such as had not merely acquired experience under existing
well-regulated forms of government, but such as had been schooled in
real life, and, fitted with the necessary mental quickness, were also
equipped for unforeseen contingencies.

The grave face of our young Baron lighted up a little as he spoke of
the life of activity before him. But an expression of settled
resignation could be detected in every word he spoke. The others,
however, apparently paid no attention to this; and, as he went
down-stairs, Rossel shouted "_Au revoir!_" after him, just as in the
old times when they were certain of meeting again within a few days.

As they stepped into the street, Felix heard his name called from one
of the windows above. He saw young Frau Rossel standing among the
evergreens, cheerfully nodding and waving her hand to him. Her delicate
coloring looked even brighter than in the old days; and a little
morning-cap, which she had coquettishly placed a little on one side on
her golden-red locks, gave her round face a most charming appearance of
housewifely dignity.

"You are not to suppose I don't care anything more about my old
friends!" she shouted down to them. "At the entrance of the troops I
threw a whole lot of flowers at you; and you, proud sir, didn't deign
to look up once. Well, this time, at all events, you have turned to
look at me. Your uniform doesn't become you half as well as citizen's
dress. You don't look so distinguished in it. As for me, I couldn't
think of letting you see me. But in six or eight weeks from now--you
must come to the christening--do you hear? My husband will write to you
about it. And, now, good-by, and good luck to you. I'm sure I wish it
you with all my heart. You have certainly worked hard enough to deserve
it."

With this the laughing face disappeared from the window, without
leaving the men time to say a word in reply.



                              CHAPTER IX.


"And now to Angelical," said Schnetz. "You haven't far to go, and she is
certain to be at home."

Felix stood still.

"Let me off from this visit," he said, his face suddenly darkening.
"Help me think of some excuse, so that I shan't offend the good girl.
You know how much I esteem her; but she is the only person who, I have
reason to believe, knows all. The others may have been satisfied with
that fiction about the duel; but she, Julie's best friend--"

"No matter what she knows or doesn't know--nonsense! You can be as
brief as you want. Come, give me your hand on it. Good! And there's her
house there. I will say adieu to you here; I have some business to
attend to; and I will call for you this evening at the hotel, and we'll
go and see the illumination together."

"They are all so kind!" cried Felix, when he was alone; "they all want
to help me to bear what is bitter and irremediable. But it is high time
for me to try a change of air. Here--where they are all going to lead
such happy and comfortable lives, and where every one breathes more
freely and more healthily now that the storm of war has swept away the
old mists and fogs--for me alone to go about with such a face among
these good, contented people--no! I must go away from here, and the
sooner the better. If I leave this evening, travel all night--to-morrow
I can be deep in my work. I will beg Angelica to excuse me to Schnetz.
She will be the first to understand that I am in no mood for
illuminations."

He had no sooner formed this resolution than he drew a long breath, and
hastened his steps toward the house which Schnetz had pointed out to
him. The gloaming had already come, and the first candles of the
illumination were glowing in a few of the windows; but those at
Angelica's house were dark. Up-stairs the door was opened for him by
the old landlady, of whom Angelica hired her lodgings. The Fräulein was
at home, she said, pointing to the nearest door. He knocked with a
beating heart, of which he felt fairly ashamed. A woman's voice called
out "Come in." As he entered the dusky room, a slender figure rose from
the sofa, on which it had had been idly sitting as if waiting for him.
"Is it permitted me to come so late, my dear friend?" he said,
advancing hesitatingly. The figure tottered forward to meet him, and
now for the first time he recognized the features of the face--"Irene!
Good God!" he cried, and involuntarily stood still; but the next moment
he felt two arms encircling him, and burning lips pressed to his own,
stifling every word and plunging his senses into a whirl of delirious
joy. It was as if she wanted never to let him recover his speech again;
as if she feared he might vanish from her arms forever, the moment she
let him go. Even when she finally removed her lips from his and drew
him, bewildered and trembling, upon the sofa at her side, she went on
talking alone, as if any word that he might throw in would destroy the
spell that had at last led the loved one to her side again. He had
never seen her thus before; the last bar had fallen from her virgin
heart; and a yielding woman, laughing and weeping in the sweetness of
passion, lay upon his breast, with her arms around his neck.

Not a word was said about that which had kept him from her so long. It
was as if the war had called him from her side, and now at last he had
returned and all would be well again, and far more beautiful than it
could ever have been without his youthful heroism and his honorable
scars. He had to listen to many tender complaints and reproaches for
not having given her any news about himself in all this time. But the
moment he tried to say a word in his own defense, she closed his lips
with impassioned kisses.

"Be still!" she cried. "It is true you are a great sinner, my darling
hero, but I--what wouldn't I forgive you on this day, this glorious day
of festival and joy! And, you see, it did not help you any after all.
You imagined you were safe from me, and thought you could march in here
with the rest without any one's being the wiser, while I sat and sulked
in my old-maid's cell on the Lung' Arno. But this is the time of
miracles! I cast aside my pride of birth, and all the good training I
owe to myself, as if they had been old rags, and went to uncle and said
to him: 'If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to
the mountain. That wicked Felix would like to be rid of me; but it
takes two to do that. Come, uncle, let us go to Munich. I must see my
lover ride in through the gate of victory, Schnetz writes that he looks
nobly in his uniform, and I can't help it even if the old countess
doesn't think it proper for me to run after this faithless man. He ran
after me long enough, and we ought to exchange _rôles_ for once.' And
so here I am, and have been sitting here on the very same spot for
three hours, waiting for a certain youthful hero, and scolding terribly
at Schnetz, who had promised me that he would entice him into this
love-trap just as soon as he possibly could. And now it has actually
sprung upon you, and you sha'n't be let out again as long as you live."

The lights in the streets outside had long been blazing in full
brilliancy, and under the windows a joyous crowd of happy people
streamed past toward the centre of the city, where the illumination was
said to be the finest. But the two happy lovers had forgotten all else
in the bliss, so long deferred, of gazing into one another's eyes and
seeing the flame of inextinguishable love and devotion glowing there.
She asked after the companions who had been with him through the war,
and he after the friends she had left behind in Florence. But neither
paid much attention to what the other answered; all they cared for was
to hear each other speak, and to assure themselves by the sound of
their voices that they were once more united.

An hour may have passed in this way, when some one knocked softly. The
knock was repeated three times before they heard it, and Irene ran to
open the door. Angelica came flying in, the two girls fell on one
another's necks, and good Angelica's voice was so stifled by suppressed
tears that it was a long time before she could speak.

"Of course I have come too soon," she said at last; "but when
wouldn't it have been too soon? A thousand congratulations, my dear
Felix--pardon me, the Herr Baron doesn't come glibly to me to-day--and
now, make haste, so as to see a little of the illumination--it is
magnificent--we have just come from it, and Irene certainly didn't
travel five hundred miles just to sit here in the dark while all Munich
swims in a sea of light. Besides, she saw very little of the review
this morning, for she only had eyes for a single defender of the
Fatherland. You will have seen all you want to in half an hour, and
then I invite the ladies and gentlemen to assemble once more under my
humble roof and partake of a modest cup of tea. Schnetz will also
appear, and your uncle, the baron, has solemnly pledged me his word not
to let himself be dragged into any champagne-supper to-day. It's a pity
Rosenbusch isn't well enough yet! The poor fellow has only a lame leg,
and an elderly girl as a wife, as a reward for all his bravery. But
don't you think he bears his lot with incredible fortitude?"

The lights of the festival had long been extinguished, and the last
joyous echo of this happy day had died out, when Felix entered the
little room, which was the only one still to be had in the whole great
hotel. Even now he could not think of such a thing as sleep. He sat
down on the bed and drew from his pocket a letter which Irene had given
him when he parted from her before her hotel, and gazed--with what
overmastering emotion!--upon the handwriting of the friend whom he had
believed to be lost to him forever, and whom this day restored to him
again, to add to all its other unexpected blessings. He read the
following lines:


"Let this letter bear you our congratulations, dear old friend. When it
comes into your hands the last shadow will have been lifted from your
life. You will hear enough about us from the lips of your beloved, to
satisfy you of our happiness. But, possibly, there may be one subject
concerning which she may feel a delicacy about speaking; our happiness
is now secure from all external interruption. A few weeks ago a legal
divorce was effected, and our union, which certainly stood in no need
of a certificate to cement it closer, has now, for the children's sake,
received the sanction of the law. The unhappy woman herself lent a hand
in bringing this about. She is in Athens, where a rich Englishman has
been paying his court to her. The last spark of ill-will toward her has
been extinguished in me. I can think of her as of one dead. May she
find peace in the sphere she has voluntarily chosen--as far as such a
being ever can find or bear peace.

"And now let us at least hear from you again, my dear old boy. All we
have heard about you has rejoiced our hearts. You are about to enter
upon a new phase of life, and to put in order that part of the world
which has been assigned to you. I wish you all success. After all, it
is your proper calling; and if the wise saying of our friend Rossel is
correct, that real happiness is merely that condition in which we are
most keenly conscious of our individuality, you certainly must be
esteemed happy, and will make happy the noble heart that has
surrendered to you. Dear old fellow, what a splendid prize each of us
has drawn! That we had to work hard to deserve it, is all the better.
All that is not deserved humiliates. And we still have an excess of
happiness given us by the gods, whom we ought not to be too proud to
thank.

"But here I am talking about our own fates, and passing by, without a
single word, the great and mighty event in the world's history which
has just been concluded. Though, to be sure, there are no words capable
of expressing its greatness and importance. In the consciousness of
this dumb amazement the feeling can scarcely be avoided that the Muses,
who are usually silent mid the clash of arms, will not recover their
voices very soon. You men of action have the lead for some time to
come; for the revolution that has taken place in the public mind, and
the movement which has extended to all conditions of life and of civil
society, is far more wonderful, far more pregnant with consequences
than you, who took an active part in it, can appreciate in the first
pause after your final blows. We who are lookers-on are in a position
to get a more comprehensive view, for we can also see how the recoil,
of whose force you can have no conception, acts upon our neighbors.

"The truth is, this is a period of reconstruction of all political and
social conditions; whatever is essential asserts itself, and whatever
is _real_ clamors everywhere for the place that belongs to it by
nature. Consequently, those who are called upon to rearrange our new
life have the first and last word; while those who, like us artists,
have to do with dreams, stand aloof and thank fortune if their names
are still mentioned now and then. You know that, with all due respect
for politics, I cannot regard them as belonging to the highest problems
of the human mind. The possible and the useful, the expedient and the
necessary are, and must ever be, relative aims; it should be the task
of the statesman to make himself less and less necessary, to educate
the public sense of justice so that the greatest possible number of
free individuals can live in harmony with one another; and each, alone
or in conjunction with some fellow-workman, can occupy himself with the
eternal problems. Shall we live to see the time when the arts which
have heretofore flourished like wild flowers upon ruins, shall adorn
the symmetrical, inhabited, and solid walls of the new structure of the
state with their foliage of undying green? Who can say? Mankind lives
quickly in these days. In the mean while let each one do his best.

"Farewell, and make up your mind to _live_, and to let your fellow-men
_know_ that you live. I wish you could all--dear, good, and faithful
friends--wrap yourselves in the mantle of Faust and be set down among
us at this very moment. I am writing this letter in a villa on the
slope of the splendid hill that bears upon its summit old Fiesole.
Julie is walking up and down the garden carrying our _Bimba_ in her
arms, while little Frances walks by her side, busily studying her
lesson. How beautiful the world is all around me! And with what still,
pure, silent joy do I think of you, dear friends! Come and give us a
sight of your happiness, and rejoice with us in ours!

"And then we will make the old 'Paradise' to live again under another
heaven and on a new soil."



                                THE END.



                                REMORSE.

                    From the French of TH. BENTZON.

    (_Forming Number_ 13 _of the "Collection of Foreign Authors._")

             16mo. Paper cover, 50 cents; cloth, 75 cents.

                           *   *   *   *   *

                     _From Lippincott's Magazine_.

"'Remorse,' which appeared recently in the _Revue des Deux Mondes_, is
a novel of great power. The author, who writes under the name of 'Th.
Bentzon,' is Madame Blanc, a woman of great intelligence and the
highest character."


                        _From the New York Sun_.

"The story entitled 'Remorse' attracted much attention from the grace
and vivacity of its style, and from the singular vigor evinced in the
portrait of a literary personage whose successive love-affairs were
turned to the account of his poetry and novel-writing. The essential
shallowness and meanness of such a nature are strikingly contrasted
with the earnest and genuine character of the heroine, and the elements
of a tragical situation are evolved with much ingenuity out of this
antithesis. There is in these figures a certain crispness and
vividness, as if the author had studied their counterparts In real
life."


                      _From the New York Graphic_.

"Told with such grace and delicacy as to render it intensely
interesting. It belongs to the best class of modern French fiction,
which embraces the finest representatives of literary taste and skill."


                   _From the New York Evening Post_.

"Th. Bentzon is a novelist of no mean gifts, even in the art of apt
narration, while her handling of strong passion is at times very fine.
'Remorse' is a tale of considerable power."


                       _From the Boston Courier_.

"'Remorse' is a book of positive grasp, and penetrates the senses with
a keen, steady point, like that of a rapier."


                       _From the Boston Gazette_.

"'Remorse' has strong dramatic power in its plot, which is treated in a
manner that makes it interesting. It is a story of self-sacrifice
spiritedly told, and showing both thought and care in its delineation
of character. Some of the more passionate scenes are full of intensity,
and the interest is fully sustained to the end."


                   _From the Utica Morning Observer_.

"It is sparkling and brilliant, full of that nameless element which
makes the society novels of the French so attractive and so
sensational."


               _From the Washington National Republican_.

"This is a highly interesting tale. It is well written; its characters
are delineated with an artistic touch; its theme is well developed, and
its incidents are of startling interest."

                           *   *   *   *   *

          _D. APPLETON & CO._, 549 & 551 _Broadway, New York_.



                           AMERICAN PAINTERS:

           _Biographical Sketches of Fifty American Artists_.

               WITH EIGHTY-THREE EXAMPLES OF THEIR WORKS,

                 Engraved on Wood in a perfect manner.

                           *   *   *   *   *

Quarto; cloth, extra gilt      Price, $7.00: full morocco, $13.00.

                           *   *   *   *   *


        _The painters represented in this work are as follows_:


      CHURCH,                 HUNT,             J. H. BEARD,
      INNES,                  WHITTREDGE,       W. H. BEARD,
      HUNTINGTON,             W. HART,          PORTER,
      PAGE,                   J. M. HART,       G. L. BROWN,
      SANFORD GIFFORD,        McENTEE,          APPLETON BROWN,
      SWAIN GIFFORD,          COLMAN,           CROPSEY,
      DURAND,                 HICKS,            CASILEAR,
      R. W. WEIR,             WINSLOW HOMER,    E. JOHNSON,
      W. T. RICHARDS,         DE HAAS,          SHIRLAW,
      T. MORAN,               J. G. BROWN,      CHASE,
      P. MORAN,               WYANT,            BRICHER,
      PERRY,                  WOOD,             ROBBINS,
      BELLOWS,                BRISTOL,          WILMARTH,
      SHATTUCK,               REINHART,         EATON,
      MILLER,                 BRIDGMAN,         GUY,
      J. F. WEIR,             BIERSTADT,        QUARTLEY,
                  HOPKINSON SMITH,             MEEKER,

                           *   *   *   *   *

The publishers feel justified in saying that the contemporaneous art of
no country has ever been so adequately represented in a single volume
as our American Painters are in this work, while the engravings are
equal in execution to the finest examples of wood-engraving produced
here or abroad.


                         OPINIONS OF THE PRESS.

                           *   *   *   *   *

"The richest and in many ways the most notable of fine art books is
'American Painters,' just published, with unstinted liberality in the
making. Eighty-three examples of the work of American artists,
reproduced in the very best style of wood-engraving, and printed
with rare skill, constitute the chief purpose of the book; while
the text which accompanies them, the work of Mr. George W. Sheldon,
is a series of bright and entertaining biographical sketches of
the artists, with a running commentary--critical, but not too
critical--upon the peculiarities of their several methods, purposes,
and conceptions."--_New York Evening Post_.

"The volume gives good evidence of the progress of American art. It
shows that we have deft hands and imaginative brains among painters of
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"It is at once a biographical dictionary of artists, a gallery of pen
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"One of the most delightful volumes issued from the press of this
country."--_New York Daily Graphic_.

"Outside and inside it is a thing of beauty. The text is in large,
clear type, the paper is of the finest, the margins broad, and the
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sketches of fifty prominent American artists, with examples from their
works. Some idea of the time and labor expended in bringing out the
work may be gathered from the fact that to bring it before the public
in its present form cost the publishers over $12,000."--_Boston Evening
Transcript_.

"This book is a notable one, and among the many fine art books it will
rank as one of the choicest, and one of the most elegant, considered as
an ornament or parlor decoration. The engravings are in the highest
style known to art. Mr. Sheldon has accompanied the illustrations with
a series of very entertaining biographical sketches. As far as
possible, he has made the artists their own interpreters, giving their
own commentaries upon art and upon their purposes in its practice
instead of his own."--_Boston Post_.

"'American Painters' consists of biographical sketches of fifty leading
American artists, with eighty-three examples of their works, engraved
on wood with consummate skill, delicacy of touch, and appreciation
of distinctive manner. It is a gallery of contemporary American
art."--_Philadelphia Press_.

"This work is one of surpassing interest, and of marvelous
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"The whole undertaking is a noble one, illustrative of the best period
of American art, and as such deserves the attention and support of the
public."--_Chicago Tribune_.

                           *   *   *   *   *

      D. APPLETON & CO., Publishers, 549 & 551 Broadway, New York.



                            HEALTH PRIMERS.

                               EDITED BY

                  J. LANGDON DOWN, M. D., F. R. C. P.
                  HENRY POWER, M. B., F. R. C. S.
                  J. MORTIMER-GRANVILLE, M. D.
                  JOHN TWEEDY, F. R. C. S.

Though it is of the greatest importance that books upon health should
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As these little books are produced by English authors, they are
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    or Prevention.                | Fatigue and Pain.
  Personal Appearances in Health  | The Ear and Hearing.
    and Disease. (Illustrated.)   | The Eye and Vision.
  Baths and Bathing.              | Temperature in Health and Disease.

          In square 16mo volumes, cloth, price, 40 cents each.

                           *   *   *   *   *

_For sale by all booksellers. Any volume mailed, postpaid, to any
address in the United States, on receipt of price_.

                              D. APPLETON & CO., Publishers,
                                    549 & 551 Broadway, New York.





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