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Title: Danira
Author: Werner, E., 1838-1918
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Danira" ***

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Transcriber's Notes:

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                               E. Werner.

                         Chicago and New York:
                        Rand, McNally & Company,

                           *   *   *   *   *
            Copyright 1888, by Rand, McNally & Co., Chicago.
                           *   *   *   *   *



The storm had lasted all night. Not until early dawn did the gale
lessen and the towering billows of the sea begin to subside.

The steamer, which had undergone a tolerably severe conflict with wind
and waves, was just running into the sheltering harbor, at whose end
appeared her destined port, a picturesquely situated town, dominated by
a strong citadel on a rocky height.

In the bow stood a young officer in the uniform of the Austrian
Imperial Chasseurs, who, spy-glass in hand, was scanning the scene. The
light fatigue cap covering his thick, fair hair, shaded a face that
harmonized perfectly with his manly bearing. Every feature was grave,
firm, resolute, and the clear light-brown eyes, with their quiet,
searching gaze, suited the countenance. Yet one might have desired a
little more life and animation; the grave, passionless repose of a face
so youthful produced an almost chilling impression. A heavy step was
heard on the cabin stairs, and directly after a young soldier, who wore
the same uniform, approached. The steamer still rocked so much that he
had some difficulty in crossing the deck to his officer, who now closed
the glass and turned toward him.

"Well, George, what are the men doing?" he asked. "How are things going
down below?"

"It's awful, lieutenant," was the reply. "They are still so sea-sick
that they can neither hear nor see. You and I are the only ones who
have kept up."

"I suppose you are very proud that we two are the only ones who have
proved ourselves good sailors?" said the officer, with a flitting

"I should think so," answered George. "When a man has seen nothing but
mountains all his life, it's no small matter to toss about on this
confounded glittering blue sea, as we have done for three days and
nights. This Cattaro is surely almost at the end of the world."

He spoke in the purest Tyrolese dialect, and now stationed himself
close behind the officer with a familiarity that implied some closer
relation than the tie between a subaltern and his commander.

George was a handsome, sturdy fellow, with curly black hair and a
fresh, sun-burnt face, in which a pair of black eyes sparkled boldly
and merrily. At present, however, they were scanning with evident
curiosity the goal of the journey which the steamer was now

The open sea had already disappeared, and nearer and darker towered the
gigantic peaks which had been visible in the distance since early dawn.
They seemed to rise from the water in every direction and bar the
ship's way, but a narrow passage between the cliffs opened like a huge
gloomy gate, and the whole extent of the harbor appeared before the
vessel as she steered in.

The foaming, surging waves had been left outside, and the water lay
almost motionless, encircled by the chain of mountains surrounding it.

The sun was already struggling with the dispersing storm-clouds; ever
and anon golden shafts darted through them and danced upon the waves,
and broad, shimmering rays of light gleamed through the mist, but the
fog still rested in dense masses over the city, and the citadel was
scarcely visible in the shadow of the clouds gathered around it.

"A magnificent view!" said the young officer in a low tone, more to
himself than to his companion, but the latter assumed a very
contemptuous air.

"Pshaw, they're not like our Tyrolese mountains! No forests, no
streams, not a human habitation up there! This is surely the beginning
of the wilderness, and if we once get in there we'll never come out

He sighed so heavily that the lieutenant frowned and glanced angrily at

"What does this mean, George? Are you losing heart? You were no
peace-maker at home. Wherever there was a brawl, George Moosbach was
sure to be in it."

"Yes, that he was!" George assented with great satisfaction. "But it
was only sport! Still, if we were going to fight honest Christians I
should have no objection to doing it in earnest. We should at least be
among our own people, and if a man were killed he would have Christian
burial, but fighting these savages is no joke. I've been told that they
cut off the noses of their enemies--if they have them, of course--and
both ears to boot, and that's certainly a very disagreeable custom."

"Nonsense! You and your comrades have imposed upon each other by all
sorts of stories, and now swear to them as is your custom."

"But Baroness von Steinach was terribly frightened when the marching
orders came. She sent for me to come to the castle and made me promise
never to leave your side, Herr Gerald--beg pardon, Herr Lieutenant, I
meant to say."

"Oh! use the old name, we are not on duty now," replied Gerald;
"respect for your lieutenant doesn't agree with the memories of our
boyhood, when we were playfellows. So my mother sent for you? Yes, she
is always anxious about the life of her only son, and can never
accustom herself to the thought that danger is part of the soldier's
trade. But there is the port in sight! Go to your comrades, they have
probably nearly recovered, the water is smooth here."

"Yes, Herr Lieutenant!" replied George, drawing himself up with a
military salute and marching off, while Gerald von Steinbach again
raised his spy-glass.

Meantime the steamer had been sighted from the shore, and its
appearance caused an eager stir near the harbor. True, ships bringing
troops to this distant frontier of the empire were now daily arriving;
still it was an event, and a motley crowd in which, however, uniforms
predominated, thronged the landing-place to greet the new arrivals.

Not far from the shore was a fine residence overlooking the bay. It was
the home of the commander of the garrison, and at the window stood a
young lady, gazing intently through the gradually dispersing fog at the
approaching ship.

The graceful figure framed by the window looked like a picture against
the dark background of the room, a picture in which everything was
bright and sunny, the rosy, laughing face, the fair curling locks, the
blue eyes radiant with mirth.

There was a great deal of arrogance and self-will in the charming
little face, and the extremely elegant attire which, in this
out-of-the-way place, displayed the very latest fashion prevailing in
the capital, showed that vanity was not a total stranger to the young
lady. Yet there was something bewitching in the little elfin figure
that leaned so gracefully out of the window, and now turned with every
sign of impatience.

"The steamer hardly moves to-day," she said, angrily. "It has been
in sight for more than half an hour. It ought to have reached the
landing-place long ago, and is still floating on the waves yonder.
Danira, for heaven's sake, put down that book! I can't bear to see you
reading so indifferently, while I am almost dying with curiosity."

The person addressed laid the book aside and glanced hastily out of the
window. She was probably about the same age--neither of the girls could
have been more than seventeen--but it would have been hard to find a
greater contrast than the pair presented.

There was something foreign in Danira's appearance which did not seem
to suit either her fashionable dress or her surroundings. Her face was
dark as if burned by a scorching sun, and yet pale, for the cheeks
showed scarcely a tinge of color. The luxuriant braids, blue-black in
hue, seemed to yield reluctantly to the constraint of being fastened on
the head; they looked as though they must fall by their own weight and
float unconfined.

Her long dark lashes were usually lowered, but when raised, revealed a
pair of large dark eyes, full of dewy radiance. Their expression was
cold and careless, yet their depths concealed a light ardent and
glowing as the rays of the Southern sun, which had evidently kissed

The girl's voice too had a peculiar tone, deep yet musical, and the
German words, though spoken with perfect fluency, had a slight trace of
the foreign air which characterized her whole appearance.

"The steamer will be here in fifteen minutes," she said. "It is coming
at the usual time. Are you so impatient to see your betrothed
bridegroom, Edith?"

Edith tossed her little head. "Well, what if I am! We have become
almost strangers to each other. I was a child when we left home, and
Gerald only came from the military school to bid us good-bye. He was a
handsome fellow then--I remember him perfectly--but a little priggish,
rather stupid, and possessed of a horrible talent for lecturing. But
I'll cure him of that most thoroughly."

"Do you intend to 'cure' your future husband before you have ever seen
him?" asked Danira, with a tinge of sarcasm. "Perhaps he isn't so
yielding as your father."

Edith laughed. "Oh! Papa is sometimes stern enough to other people--yet
I do as I please with him, and it will be the same with Gerald. Do you
like his picture?"

She took a large photograph from the writing-table and held it toward
Danira, who, with a hasty glance at it, answered in a curt, positive
tone, "No."

Edith's blue eyes opened wide in amazement.

"What, you don't like this picture? This face with its handsome,
regular features----"

"And eyes as cold as ice! That man has never loved, his glance says

"Well, he must learn then! That shall be my task. Of course I shall see
little enough at first of this lieutenant, who has been sent
campaigning and courting at the same time. He must go and fight your
countrymen for weeks up in the mountains before he can pay proper
attention to me. I hope it won't be long ere the bands of insurgents
are scattered and destroyed. I shall tell Gerald that he must hasten
the victory and his return on pain of my displeasure."

There was only saucy mirth in the words, nothing more, but Danira
seemed to find a different meaning. Her eyes flashed, and in a voice
that sounded almost cutting, she replied:

"Better tell him to take care that he does not lose up yonder all hope
of return and marriage--forever!"

Edith gazed at her a few seconds, perplexed and startled, then
indignantly exclaimed:

"I believe you are quite capable of wishing it. Is it possible that you
still care for those savages, who have not troubled themselves about
you since your childhood? Papa is perfectly right when he says you have
no affection, no gratitude, in spite of all he has done for you."

A half bitter, half grieved expression hovered around Danira's lips as
she heard these reproaches. "Gratitude!" she repeated, in a low tone.
"You do not know how hard a duty gratitude is, when it is required."

Spite of the sharp tone there was something in the words which disarmed
Edith's anger. Stealing to her companion's side, she laid her hand on
her arm.

"And I?" she asked in a voice of mingled reproach and entreaty, "am I
nothing to you?"

Danira looked down at the rosy blooming face, and her tone
involuntarily softened.

"You are much to me, Edith. But--we do not understand each other and
never shall."

"Because you are inaccessible and self-contained as a book with seven
seals. I have always been a friend, a sister to you. You would never be
the same to me."

The reproach must have struck home, for Danira's head drooped as if she
were conscious of guilt.

"You are right," she said in a troubled tone, "it is all my fault. But
you do not, cannot know----"

"What is it I don't know?" asked Edith, curiously. Danira made no
reply, but passed her hand lightly over the curly head resting on her
shoulder and gazed into the blue eyes, now glittering with tears.
Perhaps the young girl's feelings were deeper, more earnest than she
had believed.

Just at that moment they heard the signal announcing that the steamer
had reached the landing. Edith started, her tears vanished as quickly
as they had come, anger and reproaches were alike forgotten and the
young girl rushed to the window with the eagerness and curiosity of a
child that has been promised a new toy and cannot wait for the moment
of seeing it.

The scornful expression again hovered around Danira's lips. She pushed
aside, with a gesture of repugnance, the photograph which still stood
on the table, and, taking up her book again, turned her back to the

Yet the young fiancée's impatience was very excusable, for her
remembrance of her betrothed husband dated from her earliest childhood.
Her father. Colonel Arlow, before being transferred to the distant
Dalmatian fortress, had been stationed with his regiment in the capital
of Southern Tyrol, only a few hours ride from Castle Steinach, and the
matrimonial plan had been arranged at that time. Gerald's father, on
his death-bed, had told his son of this darling wish, and Edith had
been educated expressly for him. While the young officer was preparing
for his military career, his betrothed bride, who had lost her mother
when very young, had grown up in the house of a father who spoiled and
idolized her. Distance had hitherto prevented a meeting between the
young couple, but at the outbreak of the insurrection Gerald's regiment
was unexpectedly ordered to Cattaro, and thus chance ordained that his
first campaign should also be a courtship.

Meantime the disembarkation had already begun, but amid the confusion
of arrivals and greetings it was scarcely possible to distinguish
individuals. At last, a group of officers separated from the throng and
walked toward the city, and but half an hour elapsed ere the commandant
entered the room with his guest.

Colonel Arlow, a fine-looking, soldierly man in the prime of life, led
the young officer to his daughter, saying, in a jesting tone:

"Herr Gerald von Steinach, lieutenant in the Imperial Chasseurs,
desires an introduction to you, my child. See whether you can recognize
in this young warrior the features of your former playfellow. Of
course, Gerald, you will not remember the child of those days; she has
altered considerably in the course of the years."

The last words and the look that rested on his daughter expressed
joyous paternal pride, a pride certainly justifiable. Edith was
wonderfully charming at that moment.

Gerald approached her with perfect ease, and, holding out his hand,
said cordially:

"How are you, Edith?" The words from his lips, with their native
accent, sounded as familiar as if he had taken leave of his little
_fiancée_ only the day before.

Edith looked up at the tall figure, met the eyes resting gravely but
kindly upon her, and suddenly lost her composure entirely. A burning
blush crimsoned her face, the words of greeting died upon her lips, and
she stood silent and confused, perfectly unconscious how bewitching she
looked in her embarrassment.

Gerald gallantly kissed the little hand that rested in his own, but
only held it a moment ere he relaxed it.

He had evidently received a pleasant impression of his young _fiancée_,
but his nature was apparently incapable of deep or passionate emotion.

He now saw for the first time that another lady was standing at the
back of the room, and turned with a gesture of inquiry to the colonel.

"My adopted daughter, Danira," said the latter carelessly. He seemed to
consider any further introduction unnecessary, and there was even a
tone of negligence in his voice.

The young officer bowed, casting a somewhat puzzled glance at the
girl's sullen face. Danira returned the salute without raising her

Gerald brought messages and letters from his mother, and these afforded
subjects for a conversation which soon became extremely animated, and
in a few moments dispelled the last remnants of constraint still
existing between the young pair.

Edith had conquered her momentary embarrassment, and now resumed the
familiar tone of her childhood. She fairly sparkled with gayety and
jest, as was her nature, but all her vivacity failed to infect Gerald.
He was courteous, gallant, even cordial, and readily answered all her
questions about his journey, his home and his mother, but he did so
with the grave, quiet composure that seemed an inseparable part of his

At last the conversation turned upon the approaching campaign. The
colonel did not consider the insurrection so trivial a matter as many
of the officers. He spoke of it earnestly, even anxiously, and, for the
first time, Gerald appeared really interested. He was evidently a
thorough soldier, and Edith noticed with a surprise equal to her
displeasure that the campaign lay far nearer to her lover's heart than
the courtship of his bride. With all her charms she had failed to rouse
one spark of feeling from the unvarying calmness of his manner, but
now, while talking of mountain passes, fortifications, attacks and
similar uninteresting things, his eyes brightened and his face began to
flush with eagerness.

The young lady was accustomed to be the principal object of attention,
and felt offended to have a man absorbed in such subjects while in her
presence. Her lips pouted more and more angrily, and the lines on her
smooth brow indicated an extremely wrathful mood. Unluckily Gerald did
not even notice it, he was plunging deeper and deeper into military
matters with the commandant.

Once, however, he faltered in the midst of a sentence. He had addressed
a question to the colonel, and pointing to the mountains, turned toward
the window, when he suddenly saw Danira, of whom no one had taken any
further notice. She was standing, half concealed by the curtain,
apparently uninterested, yet her face betrayed feverish suspense,
breathless attention, she was fairly reading the words from the
speaker's lips.

For a moment her gaze met the young officer's. It was the first time he
had seen her eyes, but a menacing, mysterious look flashed from their
depths. He could not understand its meaning, for it was only a
moment--then the lashes drooped and the girl's features regained their
usual rigid, icy immobility.

The colonel answered the question with great minuteness, and the
discussion between the two gentlemen became more and more animated.
Edith listened a few moments longer but, as the pair did not seem
disposed to leave their mountain passes and fortifications, her
patience became exhausted. Rising with the freedom and rudeness of a
child she said, in a tone intended to be sarcastic, but which sounded
extremely angry:

"Come, Danira, we will leave the gentlemen to their conversation on
military affairs. We are only interrupting these interesting

With these words she unceremoniously seized her adopted sister's arm
and drew her into the adjoining room. Gerald looked after her in great
astonishment; he evidently had no suspicion of the crime he had
committed. The colonel laughed.

"Ah! yes, we had forgotten the presence of the ladies! They take the
liberty of showing us how greatly our war stories bore them, and after
all they are right. You have lost Ethel's favor, Gerald, and must seek

Gerald seemed in no haste to do so, he answered with perfect composure:

"I am sorry, but I really supposed Edith might be expected to take some
interest in a campaign where I am to win my spurs."

"Perhaps she is afraid it will make you forget her," said the colonel
with a shade of reproof. "It really almost seemed so. My little Edith
is spoiled in that respect. Perhaps I have indulged her too much, we
are always weak toward an only child. I am glad that you are so devoted
to your profession, but young girls desire first of all to see a lover
in a betrothed husband. The military hero occupies a secondary place.
Note that, my boy, and govern yourself accordingly in future."

Gerald smiled. "You are right, perhaps, I am too thorough a soldier,
but ought Edith to reproach me for it? She is a soldier's daughter, a
soldier's promised bride, and is living here amid all the excitement
and preparations for the campaign. Her companion seemed far more
interested in it."

"Danira? Possibly. I have not noticed."

"Who is this Danira? There is something peculiar, foreign in her
appearance. She cannot be a German. Every feature betrays Slavonic

"Yes, that blood does not belie itself," said Arlow indignantly. "You
are perfectly right, the girl belongs to the race that is giving us so
much trouble, and you have before your eyes a type of the whole people.
When Danira came to my house she was a child, who could have received
no very deep impressions of her home. She has had the same education as
Edith, has been reared like a daughter of the family, has lived
exclusively in our circle, yet the fierce, defiant Slav nature has
remained unchanged. Neither kindness nor harshness can influence it."

"But how came this adopted daughter into your house? Did you receive
her voluntarily?"

"Yes and no, as you choose to regard it. When I was ordered to my
present post, the insurrection, which was then supposed to be finally
suppressed and is now again glimmering like a spark under ashes, had
just been put down. Yet there were still daily skirmishes in the
mountains. During one of these, a leader of the insurgents fell into
our hands severely wounded, and was brought here as a prisoner. After a
few days his wife appeared with her two children, and asked permission
to see and nurse him, which was granted. The man succumbed to his
wounds; the wife, who had caught a dangerous fever prevailing at that
time in our hospital, soon followed him to the grave, and the children,
Danira and her brother, were orphaned."

Gerald listened with increasing interest; the young Slav girl would
probably have been indifferent to him, but her origin aroused his
sympathy and he listened attentively to the story of the commandant,
who now continued:

"My officers and I agreed that it was both a humane duty and a point of
honor to adopt the orphans, and we knew, also, that persons in high
places would be pleased to have the children of one of the most dreaded
insurgent chiefs under our charge and training. Conciliation was then
the watchword. I took the little ones into my own house, but after a
few weeks the boy vanished.

"Had he fled?"

"We thought so at first, but it soon appeared that he had been carried
off by his countrymen. Danira escaped the same fate only because she
was sleeping in the room with Edith. Besides, women are little valued
by this people. To leave their chiefs son in our hands seemed to them a
disgrace, but they did not care about the girl."

"So she remained in your house?"

"Yes, by my dead wife's express desire. I at first opposed it, and the
result proves that I was right. Every care and kindness was lavished on
this girl, who even now, after so many years, is still as alien, I
might almost say as hostile to us, as on the first day of her arrival.
If I did not know that my Edith's bright, sunny temperament
instinctively repels such influences, I should be anxious about this
companionship and should have put an end to it long ago."

"Such mysterious natures are unsympathetic to me also," replied Gerald
hastily, with an expression that almost betrayed repugnance. "There is
something uncanny in her appearance. I met her eyes a moment a short
time ago, and it seemed as if I were gazing into a dark, tempestuous
night. Edith, on the contrary, seems like a bright spring day, though
with somewhat April weather."

The colonel laughed heartily at the comparison.

"Have you discovered that already? Yes, she is as capricious as an
April day. Rain and sunshine in the same moment. But I can give you the
consolation that the sunshine predominates, only you must understand
how to call it forth. Now go to her, that your first meeting may not
end in discord. You will come to an understanding better if you are

He waved his hand kindly to his future son-in-law and left the room.

Gerald did not seem to have thought of a reconciliation, but he could
not disregard this hint; and, besides, the father was right, this first
hour of their intercourse ought not to end in discord. The young man,
therefore, went to the adjoining room, where the girls probably still
remained. His coming had doubtless been expected, for at his entrance
something fluttered away like a frightened bird, and he saw Edith's
light summer dress vanish behind the door of the adjacent apartment.
But the concealment did not seem to be very seriously meant--besides
the dress a little foot was visible, betraying the listener's presence.

Gerald turned to Danira, who had not left her seat.

"I wished to have a few minutes' conversation with Edith. I expected to
find her here."

"Edith has a headache, and will not make her appearance again until
dinner time; she does not wish to be disturbed now."

While Danira carelessly delivered the message she stepped back a
little, as if expecting that the young officer would not heed the
command but enter in spite of it. He could not help seeing his
_fiancée_ in her hiding place, or fail to understand that she was
merely making it a little difficult for him to obtain forgiveness.
Gerald really did cast a glance in that direction, but instantly drew
himself up and with a military salute, and said:

"Then please give my regards to her." And he left the room without even
glancing back.

He had scarcely gone when Edith appeared from behind the door. She
looked more astonished than indignant, and evidently could not
understand the rebuff she had received.

"He is really going!" she angrily exclaimed. "Yet he must have seen
that I was in the room, that I expected him--he probably did not wish
to find me."

Danira shrugged her shoulders. "I'm afraid it won't be so easy for you
to 'cure' this man. He has just showed you that he does not allow
himself to be trifled with."

Edith stamped her little foot on the ground like a naughty child.

"I told you he had a horrible leaven of the schoolmaster, but his very
defiance pleased me. He really looked like a hero when he drew himself
up in that soldierly way and stalked off with his spurs clanking."

She saucily tried to imitate Gerald's gait and bearing, but Danira did
not even smile. Her tone was cold and grave as she replied:

"Beware of that obstinacy; it will give you trouble."


Nearly three weeks had passed since the arrival of the regiment. The
larger part of it had already gone to the scene of the insurrection,
but Gerald's division still remained in Cattaro, thereby subjecting his
patience to a severe trial. He and his men had been ordered to the
citadel overlooking the city, now used only for keeping prisoners. The
service was therefore very easy, and the young officer could spend
several hours daily with his fiancée, which was regularly done.

It was very early in the morning. A dense fog rested on the bay and
mountains, and there was less bustle than usual in the port.

Among the sailors and laborers already on the spot appeared the figure
of George Moosbach, walking up and down in full uniform, but evidently
much bored.

He had tried to enter into conversation with one of the sailors, but
the latter understood nothing but Slavonic, and pantomime was not
sufficient to enable them to comprehend each other, so the attempt
ceased. George was strolling discontentedly on, muttering something
about ignorant people who did not even understand Tyrolese German, when
a voice behind him said:

"Surely that's George from the Moosbach Farm."

The young soldier started and turned. Before him stood a priest in the
dress of the Franciscan Order, a tall figure with grave, deeply-lined
features which, however, expressed no sternness; the eyes, on the
contrary, had an unmistakable look of kindness and benevolence, and the
same traits were noticeable in his voice as he now added:

"How are you, George, here in this foreign land?"

George had been on the point of jumping for joy in a most disrespectful
way, but instead of doing so he stooped and reverently kissed the
priest's hand.

"His Reverence, Father Leonhard! I didn't think you would come here to
the world's end too. I supposed you were at home in beautiful Tyrol
among Christians!"

"Well, I don't seem to have fallen among Pagans, for the first person I
have met in Cattaro proves to be one of my own parish," replied the
priest, smiling. "I arrived yesterday and was sent to take the place of
Father Antonius, who cannot bear the climate. I shall accompany the
regiment instead."

The young soldier's face fairly beamed with delight.

"You are going with us, your reverence? God be praised! Then we shall
have one blessing in the wilderness--Krivoscia, they call the place!
It's such a barbarous name that an honest Tyrolese tongue can't
pronounce it. There is nothing except stones, robbers and goats, one
can scarcely get anything to eat and still less to drink"--George
sighed heavily--"and when a man lies down to sleep at night he may
happen to wake with his head split open."

"Those are certainly unpleasant circumstances! But I hear that the
regiment left Cattaro long ago. Why are you still in this city?"

"We have stayed here, the lieutenant, I, myself, and fifty men. We are
up in yonder old walls--the citadel, they call it--guarding a few of
the rascals we've been lucky enough to catch. Herr Gerald, of course,
is furious about it, but that does him no good."

"Gerald von Steinach?" asked the priest. "I don't believe he finds it
so hard to bear the delay, since Colonel Arlow commands this garrison."

"I believe he would far rather be up among the savages," said George,

"Why? Isn't his future wife in the city?"

"Yes. And he's a betrothed husband, too, that's certain, but--I don't
like the business."

Father Leonhard looked surprised. "What is it you don't like? Herr von
Steinach's future wife?"

"The young lady!" cried George enthusiastically. "With all due respect,
she's a splendid girl! She looks like the sunshine itself, and she can
laugh and play pranks like an elf. I'm high in her favor, and am
constantly obliged to tell her about our Tyrol, where she was born. No,
I like her very much, your reverence."

"Then what did you mean by your remark?"

The young soldier, much embarrassed, thrust his hand through his curly
black hair.

"I don't know--Herr Gerald always kisses her hand and brings her
flowers, and rides and drives with her--but I should treat my
sweetheart differently."

"I believe so," said the priest, with a furtive smile. "But in Baron
von Steinach's circle people conduct courtships in another fashion from
the wooing at the Moosbach Farm."

"Very true. I know that the manners of the nobility are entirely
different from ours, but when a man is in love it's all the same
whether he's a count or a peasant, and Herr Gerald isn't in love a bit.
In short--there's a hitch in the affair, and some reverend priest must
interfere and set it to rights again."

He looked at Father Leonhard with such honest, beseeching eyes, that it
was evident he firmly believed that a priest could set to rights
anything he undertook. But Father Leonhard replied:

"No, George, the young couple must arrange such things themselves;
there can be no interference. They will learn to know and love each
other better. Gerald von Steinach is a man of excellent character."

"Yes, unluckily, rather too excellent!" George exclaimed. "I believe he
never committed a folly in his life, and people must do foolish things,
your reverence, otherwise men wouldn't be men; it can't be helped."

"You have certainly given sufficient proof of that. Your father and
mother are anxious about how their reckless and somewhat quarrelsome
son may fare in a foreign land. I promised to have an eye on you, but I
think you have kept the promise you made me when you left. Where did
you get that bump on your forehead?"

George hastily raised his hand to his head and drew down his cap so
that the suspicious spot was covered.

"It isn't worth mentioning. It was only in sport, that we might not get
entirely out of practice. Besides Bartel began; he gave me one blow,
but only one, and I dealt him six in return. He won't come near me
again very soon."

"George, you are incorrigible!" said the priest, gravely, but this time
the sinner was to escape the punishment he deserved. Just at that
moment Gerald appeared on his way from the citadel, and, with much
surprise and pleasure, greeted Father Leonhard, of whose arrival he had
also been ignorant.

Again messages and questions about home were exchanged, and when Father
Leonhard said that he was going to call on the commandant, the young
officer offered to accompany him. But he turned back to ask the

"Are the mules ordered, George?"

"Yes, Herr Lieutenant, they'll be at the colonel's house in half an

"Very well, I think the ladies will be ready by that time. Let me know
when the animals are there."

He walked on, conversing with the priest, and George followed, greatly
delighted that a reverend ecclesiastic was going with the regiment into
the "wilderness," as he persisted in calling Krivoscia.

Spite of the early hour the inmates of the colonel's household were
awake and ready for the excursion, which had been planned the day
before, except Edith, who, at the last moment, had taken a dislike to
the expedition. She thought the weather too uncertain, the road too
long, the ride too fatiguing--she wanted to stay at home, and her
father, instead of opposing this capriciousness by a word of authority,
was trying remonstrances.

"Why, child, do listen to reason," he said. "What will Gerald think if
you stay at home? How can he help believing that his society has no
attraction for you?"

"Perhaps it has as much as mine for him," was the defiant retort.
"Well, then, we shall be quits."

"You had a little dispute yesterday. I saw it by your faces when I
entered the room, and now the poor fellow is to suffer for it. Take
care, Edith, don't strain the cord too tight, he is not over-yielding."

"Papa, you love me, don't you?" The young girl's voice had an unusually
bitter tone. "You would even sacrifice a favorite plan for my sake, you
would never force me into a marriage which----"

"For heaven's sake, what does this mean?" cried the colonel, now really
alarmed. "What has occurred between you?"

Instead of answering, Edith began to weep so bitterly that her father
became seriously troubled.

"But, my child, what is your objection to Gerald? Is he not an
attentive, gallant lover? Doesn't he gratify all your wishes? I don't
understand you."

"Oh! yes, he's attentive and gallant, and--so icy, that I sometimes
feel as if a cold wind was blowing upon me. Danira was right when,
looking at his picture, she told me that he could not love and would
never learn. I have never yet heard one warm, tender word from his
lips, but, on the contrary, he plays the tutor on every occasion, and,
if I don't submit patiently, shrugs his shoulders and smiles
compassionately, as we smile at a child--I'll bear it no longer."

The colonel took the excited girl's hand and drew her toward him.

"Edith, you know how much Gerald's mother and I desire this marriage,
but you also know that I will never force you into it. Be frank, does
no voice in your heart plead for your old playfellow?"

A traitorous blush crimsoned Edith's face and, nestling in her father's
arms, she laid her head on his breast.

"He doesn't love me!" she sobbed. "He thinks of nothing but the
campaign. He is impatient to get away, fairly longs to go, the sooner
the better; he doesn't care in the least that I am to remain behind."

"You are mistaken," replied Colonel Arlow gravely, but with perfect
sincerity. "Gerald might be a little less of a soldier and more of a
lover, I admit, but you ought not to doubt his affection. Passionate
impetuosity is not one of his traits of character, but the better I
know his character, the more security it affords for your future
happiness. Have you ever really tried to win him? I do not think so."

Edith raised her head--she was evidently very willing to be
persuaded--and asked in a low tone:

"You mean, papa?"

"I mean that Gerald has hitherto known much more of your caprices than
of your attractions. Can not my little Edith succeed in striking a
spark from the flint if she tries the other method? She always knows
how to get her own way. Now go, my child, and dress for the ride;
meantime I'll have a word to say to the lieutenant; he has no suspicion
of your interpretation of his military zeal."

This time the young lady found it advisable to obey the request. A
smile was already breaking through her tears, for Gerald's voice was
heard in the ante-room.

"There he is," she whispered. "Don't tell him I've been crying, papa,"
and without waiting for a reply she glided out of the room.

The colonel smilingly shook his head; his mind was now relieved
concerning his daughter's aversion to her proposed bridegroom, but he
could find no opportunity to "say his word" to the latter, for Gerald
entered with Father Leonhard, whom he introduced to the commandant.

The fog was beginning to scatter when the little party of riders left
the city. They passed the fortification walls and the citadel frowning
on its cliff, and entered the open country. The object of the day's
excursion was a visit to a fort situated on a steep mountain several
hours' journey away, whose commanding position afforded a wide and
magnificent view. They intended to avail themselves of the opportunity
to pay the commanding officer a short call, for the order excluding
strangers, of course, did not apply to Colonel Arlow's prospective
son-in-law. The colonel himself was detained in the city by his
military duties, so Gerald accompanied the two ladies.

The mountain road, used principally for military purposes, and
therefore extremely well kept, began just outside of the city. At first
trees and bushes appeared on both sides, but soon everything green
vanished, and the road led upward in countless windings through
desolate, rocky heights.

The dense, heavy curtain of clouds, which at dawn had concealed the
whole landscape, began to grow thinner and thinner till it became a
transparent veil, and finally melted away in blue vapor. The bay and
its shores sank lower and lower, and the mountains seemed higher and
more rugged, the nearer the party approached them. Edith's moods that
day perfectly justified the term "April weather." The shower of the
morning was followed by bright sunshine. No one would have supposed
that the sparkling, laughing eyes had shed tears an hour before. The
dainty figure in the dark-blue riding habit sat the mule lightly and
gracefully, and looked as fresh and sunny as the day struggling
victoriously through the mists.

Edith had either taken her father's admonition to heart or actually
determined to strike fire from the flint, for she was so bewitchingly
engaging that even Gerald's cool composure was not proof against it. He
must indeed have been stone to remain unmoved by such a sparkling flow
of jests and witticisms. The smile that so well suited his grave
features, yet so rarely visited them, became more and more frequent,
and, contrary to his usual custom, he allowed himself to be completely
enthralled by the gay spirits of his _fiancée_.

While the young couple rode forward on the best terms with each other,
Danira followed more slowly. As if by accident, she kept her mule a few
steps behind, and the distance between her and the two others
imperceptibly increased. The rear of the little cavalcade was closed by
George, who trotted comfortably along, thinking how foolish his
lieutenant was to long to be in the midst of the campaign, where they
would be obliged to march in the dust and heat, instead of riding at
their ease on mules.

They had gone about half way when they met a solitary horseman. He wore
the picturesque dress of the mountain tribes of the country, a costume
admirably suited to the vigorous frame and dark complexion of a man
already past his youth. His rich garments and the small but spirited
mountain horse, with its shining brown coat and gay trappings, showed
that he was a rich and distinguished person in his tribe, and moreover
he was attended by a servant or subaltern, who also wore the costume of
the country, but was on foot.

The two men had come down a steep path which met the mountain road at
this point, and in a narrow curve of the latter encountered Gerald and
Edith. The stranger stopped his horse to let them pass, and made a
haughty, dignified bow, though his eyes rested with a hostile gaze on
the young officer. Gerald returned it with a military salute, and
Edith, pleased with the stately mountaineer, bent her head courteously.

They were some distance in advance when Danira passed the spot. The
stranger still sat motionless on his horse, but the young girl's mule
suddenly stumbled, then reared and made a spring toward the cliffs. It
was a perilous moment, but the horseman seized the animal's bridle with
a firm grasp. While doing so he murmured a few words in the Slavonic
tongue. Danira answered in the same language, probably an expression of
thanks for the service rendered. The animals remained side by side a
short time, while the stranger continued talking--not until George came
up did he release the bridle with a brief farewell, and Danira then
rode on.

Gerald and Edith had turned and watched the scene. There was no
occasion for anxiety, as the rider kept a firm seat in the saddle, yet
they waited.

"See, Danira has found a cavalier on the high-road!" said Edith,
laughing. "Her countrymen are not usually ready to pay polite
attentions to ladies; this seems to be an exceptional case."

"It is unusual, too, for a quiet, steady mule to stumble on a smooth
road," replied Gerald, without averting his eyes from the group. "I
don't understand how it could have occurred. The animal must have been

"Here you are! What has happened?" Edith called to her foster sister,
who had remained perfectly undisturbed by the little incident, and now
answered quietly:

"I don't know; something must have frightened the beast."

"Did you know that man, Fräulein Danira?" asked Gerald.

"No; I was merely thanking him for his assistance."

The answered sound positive and repellant, as though she wished to
prevent any more questions. The young officer remained silent, but cast
a keen glance at the spot where the stranger was just disappearing
around a curve in the road. Edith, however, asked with curiosity:

"Did you know him, Gerald?"

"Certainly. It was Joan Obrevic, the chief of one of the principal
mountain tribes, who, though he has not yet openly declared war against
us, is only waiting for the signal to join the insurrection. He has
been in Cattaro several days, ostensibly to make negotiations, and,
unfortunately, has not been sent off without ceremony."

"Unfortunately?" Danira repeated. "You seem to regret it, Baron von

"Certainly, for I believe the whole affair is merely a pretext to gain
time or conceal efforts in another direction. Joan Obrevic has reason
to remain passive for the present--his son is a prisoner in our hands.
This son was one of the first to resist the attempt to force him into
the military service, and unceremoniously shot the officer who
commanded the detachment. This was the beginning of the bloody scenes
which have since been so frequently repeated, but we at last succeeded
in securing the assassin."

"The assassin--because he defended his liberty?"

"Because he treacherously shot the officer who stood quietly talking
with him, expecting no attack--in civilized nations that is called
assassination, Fräulein!"

Question and answer were equally sharp in tone, but Edith, who had been
listening impatiently, now interposed.

"Dear me, do stop these political and military discussions! I'll make
George my cavalier; he will at least try to entertain me, and not bore
me with accounts of the insurrection."

The threat was probably not seriously meant, but Gerald seemed to
understand it so, for he answered coldly:

"If you prefer George's company to mine I must of course submit."

Again that shrug of the shoulders and compassionate smile, which always
enraged her. They did not fail to produce their effect to-day. She
hastily drew bridle, turned, and called loudly:

"George, come here! We'll ride on before."

With these words she turned into a steep path that saved a long bend of
the mountain road.

George did not wait to be asked twice. He quickly put his mule into a
trot and overtook her the next instant.

A very familiar relation had already been formed between him and the
young lady. Edith liked the somewhat rough but comical and zealous
fellow, saw in him her lover's former play-fellow rather than his
subaltern, and had instantly granted his entreaty that she would
address him with the "Du" used in his native Tyrol. George, on his
side, was not a little proud of this confidential position, and felt an
even more enthusiastic admiration for his lieutenant's _fiancée_ than
for the lieutenant himself.

They rode up the mountain for about ten minutes, then reached the main
road again, and were now far ahead of the others. Edith stopped her
mule, and George did the same.

"I suppose we are to wait here for the lieutenant?" he asked.

The young lady cast a glance backward. Her anger had already vanished,
but she wanted to punish Gerald for his lack of gallantry by compelling
him to ride with Danira.

She knew that he had a positive aversion to her foster sister and that
the feeling was mutual, for he and Danira avoided each other whenever
they could. So Edith found much amusement in the idea of the vexation
of both, if they were condemned to a longer _tête-à-tête_.

"No, George," she said. "As we are in advance, we'll get to the fort
first--that is, if you'll go with me."

"I, Fräulein--to Krivoscia, if you order me!" exclaimed George, whose
tongue always seemed to have an attack of cramp whenever he uttered the
ominous word.

"Well, we won't go quite so far to-day, but I know how to appreciate
this proof of your devotion. In your eyes, Krivoscia is the incarnation
of everything horrible. So much the better. You won't run the risk of
carrying home one of the Krivoscian girls and making her the future
mistress of the Moosbach Farm."

The young Tyrolese, in his horror, dropped the mule's bridle and
crossed himself.

"St. George forbid! I should first have to lose my senses and my head
to boot. I believe my father would leave the whole farm to the
monastery if I should bring home such a savage, and he would do right."

"Your father of course expects you to bring him one of the Tyrolese
girls for a daughter-in-law?"

"No one else would ever suit!" replied George solemnly, "No other girls
can compare with those in the Tyrol. They are better than all the rest
in the world put together."

"I'm quite of your opinion, especially as I'm a Tyrolese lass myself,
and who knows--if I were not already betrothed, I might have a chance
of being mistress of the Moosbach Farm."

"Yes, that might do!" said George, honestly. "I should have no
objection, I'd take you on the spot, Fräulein--but it can't be."

Edith burst into a merry laugh. "No, it certainly can't be, but your
offer is very flattering to me, and I will consider it seriously. Now
let us ride on, the animals have rested long enough." She urged her
mule forward and George followed. He respectfully remained a few paces
behind the young lady, but could not help feeling a little regret that
"it couldn't be."

Meantime Gerald and Danira pursued their way alone. The latter, it is
true, had paused a moment and asked: "Shall not we follow?"

"I think not," replied Gerald, so coolly that it was evident he did not
feel at all inclined to submit to his _fiancée's_ whim. "The path is
steep and stony. I at least prefer to ride along the comfortable road."

"And give Edith a lesson," Danira added in a low tone.

"Edith must learn to take more interest in my profession; that is
essential in a soldier's wife."

"Certainly. I only fear that, with this mode of teaching, you will
accomplish nothing."

"Why not? Edith Is still half a child, and children must be taught.
Yet, if you desire to give me any advice on this point, I shall be
grateful." There was unconcealed mockery in this appeal for counsel to
the girl of seventeen, but the cold, sullen glance that answered the
scoff showed that it had failed to reach its mark. The young Slav was
no longer a child; the dark shadow on her brow betrayed how far she had
already advanced into womanhood.

"Edith can be influenced in only one way," she replied. "Then she can
be swayed completely--but the appeal must be made to her heart."

"And you think I have not understood that?"

"You have apparently not desired to do so. The tutor will gain nothing
from this spoiled child--the lover everything."

Gerald bit his lips; he felt the justice of this reproach, but he also
felt a touch of Edith's irritability when she was reproved. Now it was
his turn, and he could not even find a fitting answer.

As they approached the summit of the mountain the road began to ascend
in steeper curves. Danira rode close to the edge; though her mule had
just shown its untrustworthiness, she seemed perfectly fearless. Gerald
could not help noticing how steadily the animal now trod upon the loose
stones, and how firmly the slender hand held the bridle; she evidently
had perfect control of the beast, so the incident appeared all the more

They had just reached a broader, rocky projection, when Danira suddenly
drew rein and bent down to her saddle.

"Has anything happened?" asked Gerald, whose attention was attracted.

"Nothing of any importance. Something about the saddle must have been
disarranged by the mule's sudden jump. I did not notice it until now."

The young officer instantly stopped and dismounted, but his companion
swung herself out of the saddle so quickly that she was already
standing on the ground when he approached. He saw that she wished to
avoid his assistance, and therefore, without a word, instantly turned
to the animal. The damage was trifling; the saddle-girth had loosened.
Gerald tightened it again, and then straightening himself, said:

"I think we will let the mules rest a little. They have had a sharp
climb, and the fort is still some distance off."

He knotted the bridles loosely together, and then stepped out upon the
point, where Danira was already standing, gazing into the distance.

The landscape they beheld was both magnificent and peculiar, a picture
whose wide frame contained the most abrupt contrasts. Desolate rocky
wastes, and green, smiling shores, white hamlets glimmering in the
brightest sunshine, and gloomy ravines where scarcely a ray of light
penetrated, the luxuriance of the south and the rude solitude of the
north, but all lay as if transfigured in the clear, golden radiance of
the morning.

Yonder appeared the city, with its harbor and citadel, picturesquely
located on the coast, and beyond the rocks, bare dark-gray stone,
towering higher and higher, growing more and more desolate, till they
at last ended in jagged, riven peaks. Far below gleamed the bay in its
strange, curving outlines, which sometimes seemed to seek and meet each
other, then to recede far asunder. The surface of the water flashed
under the rays of the sun like a glittering metal mirror, and the same
tide lay black and motionless in the shadow of the lofty cliffs, which
actually rose out of it, and whose steep sides were washed by the

But the eye roved over rocks and waters to the open sea. Yonder on the
horizon it gleamed, mist-veiled, sun-illumined, the blue expanse
seeming to stretch into infinite distance, for at the point where sea
and sky met it blended with the deep azure hue of the heavens, arching
above the earth in all the radiant, glittering splendor of the south.

Gerald's gaze rested fixedly on this magnificent view, whose varied
charms enthralled him. At last he turned to his companion, but she did
not notice it. Her eyes, looking dreamily into the distance, were now
fixed on the mountain peaks of her home, looming dimly through the
mists. The girl herself stood like a dark enigma amid the surroundings
into which fate had cast her. The cold, expressionless face, and the
fire lurking in the depths of her dark eyes, the delicate, youthful
features, and the stern aspect that robbed them of all youth, were as
contradictory as the country of her birth.

Perhaps this very contrast attracted the young officer. This girl was
certainly a different creature from the blonde Edith, with her rosy,
laughing face, around which the blue veil fluttered so coquettishly.
Danira's black habit was wholly devoid of ornament, and the little
black hat, which did not half cover the heavy braids was equally
simple. The slender yet vigorous figure, it is true, showed perfect
symmetry of outline, and the regular features seemed chiselled in
marble, but the sunshine flooding the girlish form appeared to be
repelled; she had something of shadow in her nature which only became
more conspicuous in a bright light.

Danira must have felt the searching glance resting upon her, for she
suddenly turned, and pointing to the distant landscape, said:

"There is a symbol of our country! I think it can bear comparison even
with your home."

"Certainly, and it has an added charm--the superb background of the
sea. The country is beautiful, if only it did not contain so many

"Why, you are just on the verge of solving them all. There is not a
ravine, not a rock-bound province which has not been penetrated by your
troops; the people know how to tell them."

"At least we shall know our friends from our foes, and I think we have
a right to ask that question."

The words sounded so significant that Danira's attention was attracted.
She cast a quick, inquiring glance at the young officer's face, and
replied curtly and coldly:

"Ask, then."

"Suppose I should be obliged to commence here with the query: 'Where
did you make Joan Obrevic's acquaintance?'"

"I have already told you that he is a stranger to me."

"Yes, you said so, but I don't believe it."

Danira drew herself up proudly. "Baron von Steinach, I must beg you not
to extend your educational efforts to me; I am not Edith."

"But you are the commandant's adopted daughter and enjoy the rights of
a child in his household. I must remind you of the fact, since you seem
to have forgotten it."

The young girl turned pale and was in the act of making a hasty reply,
but, as though warned by some sudden recollection, controlled herself.
Yet a contemptuous expression hovered around her lips as she replied:

"At least, until now, the commandant's house has been free

Gerald started as if he had received a blow, his face flushed crimson
and his hand involuntarily grasped the hilt of his sword. No one would
have supposed that his clear eyes could blaze with so fierce a fire as
at that moment, and his voice, usually so calm, sounded hollow and half

"That word came from a woman's lips. Had a man dared to so insult me, I
should have had but one answer for him."

Probably Danira had not expected her thoughtless words to produce such
an effect, but she was evidently more surprised than alarmed by the
sudden outbreak. So this man must be irritated, stung to the quick, ere
sparks would flash from the flint. She almost felt a secret
satisfaction in having accomplished this, but now also realized the
full force of the offence. Her eyes dropped, and she answered in a low

"I was insulted first--I have no weapon of defence except my tongue."

Gerald had already recovered his composure. He seemed to repent the
ebullition of rage and resumed his usual quiet manner, though with a
shade of icy reserve.

"I fear I shall be obliged to give you back the evil name. Listen to me
quietly, Fräulein," he added, as she made an angry gesture. "The
subject must be mentioned between us. I prefer to apply first to you
and, as we are alone here, it can be done at once."

The words sounded somewhat mysterious, but Danira seemed to understand
them, for she requested no explanation. Yet her eyes no longer avoided
the gaze of her foe, but met it firmly and fearlessly; she was ready
for battle.

"A week ago I was obliged to take to the commandant in person a report
that admitted no delay," Gerald continued. "Leaving the citadel at a
very early hour in the morning, I went to the city alone on foot. I
suppose you know the little house, occupied by Slavonic fishermen,
which stands somewhat off the road; I need not describe it to you. Day
had not quite dawned when I reached the spot. Just at that moment the
door opened and two persons came out. A man--not Joan Obrevic, but a
slender youth, who, like him, wore the costume of the country--and a
lady whom, in spite of the gray dusk, I distinctly recognized. How she
had succeeded in passing through the city gates, which at night open
only to the watchword, I do not know, nor how she returned again. The
pair took a very familiar leave of each other, then one walked in the
direction of the city, the other went toward the mountains, and in a
few minutes both vanished in the fog. But no one had passed through the
gates that night, I was the first person for whom they were opened."

He paused as if for an answer; but none came. The girl remained silent
and did not even attempt to defend herself. The young officer had
probably expected something of the sort. His face darkened still more
and there was an accent of scorn in his voice as he continued:

"Of coarse I have no right to meddle with love affairs, but I have
every reason to suppose that the relation is here abused to forward
very different plans. A few days after this incident, Joan Obrevic
appeared in the city. He, too, frequents that house, and probably also
receives reports there from persons most closely associated with the
commandant. His younger comrade doubtless merely opened the path he is
now following. I, at least, do not believe in the farce of negotiations
which he alleges as the motive for his stay."

Again a pause ensued. Danira still persisted in her silence, though
evidently most deeply wounded by the speaker's glance and tone. Her
face seemed to grow actually livid in its pallor, and her bosom heaved
with her gasping breath, but her lips were firmly closed as if to force
back any words.

"So you refuse me any explanation," Gerald began again. "Then of course
I see my fears confirmed. You can understand that I cannot take
delicacy into account where our safety is at stake. I shall inform the
colonel that he is being betrayed by a member of his own household, and
at the same time beg him if possible to keep the matter from Edith. I
should not like to have my young _fiancée_ learn at what an hour and
place her adopted sister receives a stranger who----"

He did not finish the sentence, for Danira interrupted him. Now she at
last found words, but they sounded like the outcry of a tortured
prisoner who can no longer endure the rack.

"No more! Spare your insults. You are speaking of--my brother."

She hurled the word at him so passionately, yet with such convincing
truth that doubt was impossible. Nor did Gerald doubt, but he seemed
fairly stunned by the unexpected disclosure, and almost mechanically

"Your brother?"

"Stephan Hersovac--yes! I saw and talked with him that night; with him
and no one else."

Gerald involuntarily uttered a sigh of relief. He did not know himself
why a load suddenly seemed to fall from his breast. The worst fact, the
treachery still existed; but he had a vague feeling that he could
forgive even this sooner than the other, which had aroused his

"Then, of course, I beg your pardon," he said. "I could not possibly
suspect that a brother and sister would surround their meetings with
such secrecy."

"Is it my fault that my brother dares not venture to approach me
openly?" asked Danira sullenly. "He was implicated in the affair which
delivered young Obrevic into your hands; the same fate threatens him if
he shows himself here."

"Yet he ventures into the immediate vicinity of the city. Was that
really done only to see a sister who has become so much a stranger to
him, for whom he has never inquired, about whom he has never troubled

Gerald's tone was very different from before, but he had retained the
same earnestness, and the look which strove to read the young girl's
features was so grave and searching that she shrank from it.

"Baron von Steinach," she said, in a hurried, anxious tone, "I have
betrayed my secret to you against my will; you understood how to drive
me to extremities, but you will take no unfair advantage of a
confession wrung from me in a moment of excitement. You will say

"First convince me that I can keep silence without violating my duty.
We stand on the brink of a volcano; hatred and hostility everywhere
confront us; we must be watchful. I have done you injustice once,
Fräulein, and should not like to do so a second time, but--can you
answer to the man to whom you owe so much for what was agreed upon that
night between you and your brother?"

"To whom I owe the slavery of my whole youth? I suppose you are
speaking of Colonel Arlow?"

The words sounded so cutting that the young officer frowned angrily,
and his voice regained its former harsh tone as he replied:

"Though Colonel Arlow feels your coldness to him and Edith, he probably
never suspected the existence of such an idea in the mind of his
adopted daughter, nor has he deserved such a return for his kindness in
giving a shelter to two deserted orphans."

The reproach only seemed to irritate Danira still more. A threatening
light flashed in her eyes.

"And who made us orphans? Who killed our father? He was dragged here
mortally wounded, to die in prison; my mother caught her death in the
fever-laden air of the hospital, and the children were to be reared and
educated by those who had robbed them of their parents. We were not
consulted when we were torn from our people, our home; we were disposed
of like soulless brutes. My brother was spared this fate; he was
carried back to our native mountains. I remained among strangers, as a
stranger, whose presence was tolerated beside the beloved and idolized
child of the household. They robbed me of everything--country, parents,
friends and gave me in return the wretched alms of an education which
only made me miserable, for it never filled the deep gulf that
separated me from them in every thought and feeling, never let me
forget that I am of a different race. I remained in chains, because I
was forced to do so, yet I felt them when still a child, hated them
from the moment I first waked to the consciousness of their existence.
Now my own kindred summon me, I cannot, will not wear the fetters
longer. I throw them at your feet. I will be free at last."

She had at first spoken with repressed bitterness, but soon her
language rose to a passionate vehemence that forgot every precaution,
swept away every barrier. Her pallid face flushed crimson as the hot
blood suffused her temples; her whole frame trembled with her terrible
excitement; a demon seemed to have suddenly taken possession of the
young girl.

But there was also a demoniac charm surrounding her which was felt even
by Gerald, whose eyes rested upon this apparition as if spell-bound.
Hitherto he had only known her cold, reserved, mysterious; now the veil
was rent asunder, and he saw the real person--the free daughter of the
mountains, in her primal fierceness, which no education, no habit had

In a single moment she had flung; aside the fetters worn for years, and
risen triumphant and threatening against her former benefactor. Yet,
notwithstanding all this, the girl was beautiful, bewitchingly
beautiful in this storm of passion. She stood proudly erect, with
flaming eyes; doubtless they still contained the gloom of tempestuous
nights, but now this darkness was filled with darting flashes of

Just at that moment, from the heights above, a shout echoed distinctly
through the clear, still air. There stood Edith, who had already
reached the end of their ride, and her companion. She waved her
handkerchief and called merrily to the laggards.

Gerald started as if waking from a dream, and hastily passed his hand
over his forehead, as though trying to efface some mark there.

"Edith is reminding us to start," he said, in a strangely tremulous
tone. "It is really time for us to continue our ride, we had
almost--forgotten it."

Danira made no reply, her dark lashes had already drooped again, and
with them the veil seemed to fall once more over her whole nature; her
face was as cold and rigid as before.

Gerald went to the mules, which had profited by the rest allowed them
to browse on the puny plants growing here and there between the
bowlders. Loosing the bridles he again turned to his companion.

"One word more, while we are alone. You were very frank to me, perhaps
too much so. Can you, dare you, tell me the subject of that nocturnal
conversation in the fisherman's hut?"

"No," was the curt, resolute answer.

"Then I must speak, at the peril of seeming to you an informer. When
treachery is in question--"

"Treachery!" interrupted the young girl with quivering lips. "I am no

"Well, what do you call it, then, when hostile plans are woven against
those under whose roof, in whose protection you live? How you reconcile
your residence under that roof with what I was forced to hear just now
is your own affair; it is my duty to warn the colonel, and I shall do
so this very day."

With distant courtesy he offered his hand to help her mount, but she
silently declined his assistance, and, with a single effort, sprung
unaided into the saddle. The next instant Gerald was also ready and
they pursued their way without exchanging another word.

On the height above Edith met them, radiant with delight at the
advantage she had gained and maliciously enjoying the vexation
inflicted upon her lover. She read plainly enough in his face and
Danira's the annoyance they had endured during their ride.

"There come the loiterers!" she cried. "Why did you dismount on the
way? You spent half an eternity on the rock down below."

"It was on account of the view," replied Gerald laconically. "You were
far ahead. Did George take proper care when he went up the steep
bridle-path with you?"

The young lady laughed--it was the merry, bell-like laugh ever at her

"Oh! yes; but you will be obliged to challenge George, Gerald. He has
made me a proposal in all due form, and I requested time for
consideration--the heir of the Moosbach Farm is a good match. What do
you think of it?"

The young officer laughed very little at the joke. He had already
joined his _fiancée_ and was riding close beside her. He felt as if he
must seek in her sunny eyes protection from some unknown power that was
shading him with its dark wings.

They now reached the last bend in the road, and here the whole view
opened before them, still wider and more magnificent than below. At
their feet lay the country with its rocks and waters, its dreary,
barren wastes and luxuriant shores. The fervid rays of the southern sun
were shining upon it, and far away in the distance glimmered the
boundless expanse of the sea.

Yes, it was a strange country. Repellant, yet bewitching, like the
people who belonged to it, and whoever had once taken a long look at it
understood its mysterious spell.


Clear and sparkling the starry night brooded over the dark, quiet
earth. The jagged mountain-peaks were but dimly outlined against the
sky, and the black masses of the cliffs blended with the sable shadow
resting upon the bay.

The city was already wrapped in slumber, and the members of the
commandant's household had retired to rest. Colonel Arlow himself had
not returned until late from a neighboring village, where a detachment
of troops was also stationed, and on his arrival did not find Gerald.
The latter had waited vainly for his superior officer, who had been
unusually delayed, and as the lieutenant was obliged to be at his post
on the citadel at nightfall, he left a few lines, urging strict
watchfulness as there were indications that Joan Obrevic's presence in
the city was connected with secret plots. He promised to make a full
report the following day, but mentioned no other names.

The colonel shook his head over the note, but he was too thoroughly
acquainted with Gerald's quiet, penetrating mind, which did not allow
itself to be influenced by mere conjectures, not to heed the warning.
He gave the necessary orders, directed that any unusual occurrence
should be instantly and directly reported to him, and then also went to

Deep silence reigned in the sleeping-rooms of the two young girls,
which adjoined each other. Edith, wearied by the long and fatiguing
ride, had instantly lost herself in slumber and was living over in her
dreams the last few hours that had been at once so pleasant and so
strange. True, Gerald had unaccountably insisted upon shortening the
visit to the fort, and avoided entering even one of the inner
fortifications with the ladies. He seemed still graver than usual, but,
on the other hand, had treated his young _fiancée_ with a tenderness
never before displayed. He had not quitted her side once all the way
home, and had devoted himself to her so entirely that she did not even
find time to notice how carefully he avoided addressing a word to
Danira, and how completely the latter held aloof from him; it had been
a delightful excursion.

The lamp which lighted the chamber threw a dim ray on the bed where the
young girl lay, presenting a lovely picture in her slumber. The fair
little head, turned somewhat on one side, nestled among the pillows,
the smile evoked by a pleasant dream hovered around her lips, and her
bosom rose and fell in deep, regular breathing; it was the sleep of a
child still untroubled by care or sorrow.

Midnight had already come, when the door of the next room gently
opened, and Danira appeared on the threshold. She was fully dressed and
had thrown on a dark cloak, which enveloped her from head to foot.
Gliding noiselessly across the carpet, she approached the bed. There
was something ghostly in the tall, gloomy figure that bent over the
young girl, so close that her breath almost fanned Edith's cheek. The
latter started and opened her eyes.

"You--Danira?" she asked, still scarcely roused from her dream.

Danira hastily stood erect and turned as if to fly, but when Edith, yet
half asleep, continued: "What do you want?" she stooped and said in a
low, stifled voice:

"To bid you farewell."

Edith now seemed to wake fully and started up in alarm.

"Farewell? Now, in the middle of the night? Where are you going?"

"Away--forever! Do not be so startled, Edith; it must be! It was
foolish, imprudent, to come to you, but I could not go without seeing
you once more; I did not think you would wake."

Edith evidently did not comprehend what she heard, but gazed as if
bewildered into the face of her adopted sister, who now continued more

"I should have gone in a few days or weeks--now it must be to-night. He
has left us no choice, and he is a watchful jailer."

"He? Who? For heaven's sake don't talk in such riddles. Where are you
going? You see I am almost frightened to death."

Danira fell upon her knees and clasped the young girl's hands; it was a
fierce, painful grasp.

"Do not ask, I dare not answer. Your father will tell you that I have
been ungrateful, wicked; perhaps he is right, but my right is higher,
for it is the claim of home and kindred, of which he deprived me. He
has felt as little affection for me as I for him--let him condemn me!
But you, Edith, have loved me, spite of all my failings. You never
intentionally caused me pain, never turned coldly from me, even when
you did not understand me. You must not believe that I have been
unfeeling. I was only wretched, unutterably wretched! Remember this,
when to-morrow they all pronounce sentence upon me, and then--forget

She had uttered all this with breathless haste, and now tried to rise,
but Edith, who at last understood that the farewell was seriously
meant, flung both arms around her neck and began to weep aloud.

"Hush!" whispered Danira, half beseechingly, half imperatively.

"Don't detain me, do not try to prevent my escape, I will not be
stopped, though it should cost my life. If you wake the others and put
them on my track, it will perhaps cause my death--it will not bring me

The last words expressed such terrible determination that Edith, in her
alarm, let her arms fall, and Danira profited by the opportunity to
release herself.

"And now one more request. Tell him--Gerald von Steinach--I am no
traitress. I have made no hostile plots against those who call
themselves my benefactors, they only concerned one man's escape--he
will know the secret to-morrow."

Edith suddenly stopped crying and fixed her astonished eyes upon the

"A message from you to Gerald? And I am to tell him that?"

"Yes! I will not, cannot take this man's contempt with me. I have borne
much of late, but I will not endure that scornful glance from his
eyes. Promise to repeat to him, word for word, what I said. And now

She stooped again, Edith felt two hot, quivering lips press hers, felt
herself strained to a heart throbbing with passionate emotion; but it
was only for a moment, the next Danira had vanished. The door closed
behind her, and the lamp diffused its soft light through the chamber as
before, while the young girl pressed both hands upon her temples to
convince herself that the scene through which she had just passed was
no mere vision in a dream.

Everything had happened so suddenly, so unexpectedly, that it was some
time before Edith recovered from her bewilderment. Then she rose
hurriedly, threw on a dressing-gown and rushed into the adjoining room
occupied by Danira. It was empty and deserted, the bed untouched, the
door locked, the fugitive must have already left the house.

Edith's first thought was to wake her father and tell him what had
occurred, but Danira's parting words echoed in her ears: "If you put
them on my track, it may perhaps cause my death--it will not bring me
back!" She knew her adopted sister, and was aware that she was capable
of executing the threat.

The young girl walked irresolutely to the window which overlooked a
portion of the city. The houses lay dark and silent, the citadel
towering above them into the starry sky. Yonder lived Gerald, for whom
that strange message was left. Why was it addressed to him, who had
always treated Danira so distantly, almost rudely, and why could she
not endure his contempt, when she was so indifferent to her adopted
father's sentence of condemnation? The young girl's childish face,
usually so untroubled, assumed an expression of thought, she could not
answer this "why."

Suddenly she started. Three shots rang on the air in quick succession,
distant, it is true, but distinctly audible amid the stillness of the
night. Deep silence followed for several minutes, then came a single
sharp report. It echoed from the citadel, and directly after the
garrison was astir; lights appeared and vanished, and the red glare of
torches fell upon the rocky declivities, where a search seemed in
progress. At last a heavy, dull sound roared through the city, the
discharge of a cannon, which waked the echoes of the surrounding
mountains and died away in the distance.

Under other circumstances Edith would merely have watched the incident
with curiosity, for actual cowardice was not in her nature, but now,
startled and excited by what had just happened, a strange anxiety
oppressed her like a presentiment of misfortune.

She darted back into her chamber to dress, but it was several minutes
before she was ready and hurrying toward the other part of the house to
wake her father.

There was no occasion to do so, the colonel was already up and dressed.
He too had been startled by the shots, and was in the act of buckling
on his sword when his daughter entered and ran to him as though seeking

"Are you awake, too, papa? What has happened? Up at the citadel----"

"A prisoner has escaped!" replied the colonel, finishing the sentence.
"The alarm-shot gave the signal. Don't be frightened, child, there is
no danger."

"But Gerald is there, and other shots were fired----"

"The sentinels discharged their guns; they have orders to fire upon a
fugitive if he does not halt, but he must have escaped or the signal
would not have been given. I shall send at once and get a report. But
why are you up, Edith? Lie down again; the city is perfectly quiet, and
I repeat that there is no occasion for alarm."

He spoke with a calmness that was partially assumed, for the incident
harmonized too strangely with Gerald's warning, not to arouse grave
anxiety. The young officer had mentioned treason, and something unusual
was evidently occurring in the citadel. Who could tell what might
happen in the city, at any rate the commandant wished to be at his

The Colonel's servant now entered with an orderly he had hurriedly
summoned by his master's command.

Arlow released himself from his daughter, who still clasped him in her
arms, and said, kindly but firmly:

"Go now, my child, you see I am on duty and must think of nothing else.
I must go at once. Try to sleep again, and don't allow yourself to be
excited by things you do not understand."

Edith saw that she must obey this time and left the room, but the last
words touched her like a reproach. True, she had never taken any
interest in matters concerning her father's profession, so she was now
sent to bed like a child that was only in the way, while the whole city
was roused from slumber, while her father and lover were hurrying to
their posts, and Danira--at the name a sudden perception of the truth
flashed upon the young girl. She understood that Danira was connected
with this event, and was playing some part in it, though the relation
was still obscure.

Edith returned to her chamber, but sleep was out of the question. The
night passed very uneasily; the colonel had hurried out to personally
inspect the posts and sentinels, and assure himself that there were no
suspicious appearances in the city. Two hours elapsed before his
return. Orderlies came and went. At dawn a detachment of soldiers left
Cattaro and marched toward the mountains. Most of the residents who had
been roused by the signal-gun were also astir to learn what had
happened. At that time every unusual event acquired extraordinary

Toward morning the excitement began to subside. People learned that the
matter really concerned nothing but the flight of a prisoner who had
escaped during the night, and was now being pursued by the military.
Lieutenant von Steinach, who had merely sent the most necessary
information to the commandant, came at an early hour to make his report
in person.

The interview had already lasted more than half an hour. The two men
were alone in the colonel's private room, and both faces were so grave
and gloomy that it was evident that the event was not quite so trivial
as had been rumored in the city.

"I never believed from the first that Joan Obrevic was here for any
friendly purpose," said Gerald. "I had been on his trail for several
days, but this daring attempt at rescue was the last thing I expected.
It has hitherto been considered impossible to scale the citadel from
the cliff side."

"Nothing is impossible to these mountaineers," replied the colonel,
"especially where rocks and cliffs are concerned. But how did it happen
that you discovered the prisoner's escape in the middle of the night,
when even the sentinels had not noticed it?"

"I could not sleep, and the discoveries made yesterday rendered me
suspicious. Toward midnight I once more went the rounds of the
fortification to reconnoitre, and saw by the starlight the prisoner let
himself down the wall and reach the ground, where two persons were
waiting for him. I instantly alarmed the sentinels, and hurried to the
spot myself. The fugitives, finding themselves discovered, fired at me.
Their bullets whistled close by my head; I returned the shots, and
stretched one on the earth. The two others recklessly pursued the
perilous way over the rocks, and vanished in the darkness. When my men
hurried up and torches were brought, we saw that I had shot Joan
Obrevic, who lay dead at the foot of the wall--he had purchased his
son's liberty with his life."

Arlow had listened in silence, but the expression of his face became
more and more anxious, and he now asked hastily:

"Did young Obrevic know you?"

"Certainly. I often saw him, as well as the other prisoners, while in
command of the citadel."

"And do you think he recognized you last night?"

"Undoubtedly, for I shouted orders to my men. The bullets were meant
for me; in a pursuit by the guards they probably would not have delayed
their flight to fire; it was an act of revenge upon me personally."

The colonel rose and paced thoughtfully up and down the room several
times; at last he paused, and said with deep earnestness:

"Gerald, I would give much if some other bullet than yours had killed
Joan Obrevic."

"Why?" asked the young officer, looking up in surprise.

"You have shot the father, and the son has escaped into the mountains.
He will carry the news of your deed there, and I have already told you
that last evening orders arrived to detach you from your post, and send
you and your men to your regiment."

"Which has long been my ardent desire! I am really tired of guarding
prisoners while my comrades are fighting the insurgents."

The colonel shook his head, and the anxious expression of his features
was still more apparent as he replied:

"You do not know this people as I do; the vendetta exists among them in
all its horrors. The chief has fallen by your hand, not even in battle,
in a hand-to-hand conflict, but while flying, and it is known that you
have killed him--you will be outlawed among the mountains."

Gerald shrugged his shoulders. "That can't be helped. Under the
circumstances I could not, ought not to have acted otherwise. I was
obliged to fire upon the fugitives when they did not halt at my shout,
especially when they attacked me."

"You did perfectly right, but it is an unfortunate combination of
circumstances. Obrevic's tribe undoubtedly only remained passive until
their chief's son was released and in safety, now its members will
instantly join the rebellion and you may be compelled to march against
them at once. Promise me to be cautious, and above all things never to
venture anywhere alone. Do you hear? Always take an escort."

The young officer drew back with a half indignant gesture. "Am I to set
my men an example of timidity and cowardice? You are a soldier, like
myself, and know that danger is a part of our profession."

"When treachery and cunning are at work caution is no disgrace, even to
a soldier. You will do your whole duty--I expect nothing less from you,
but do not go beyond it and allow yourself to be carried away by your
zeal to defy a danger which, after last night's occurrence, threatens
you and you alone. You owe that to yourself and your promised wife. I
demand a pledge that you will be prudent."

"I will be on my guard and not expose my life recklessly. I can promise
nothing more; anything beyond would be cowardice."

The colonel repressed a sigh. "You are right, Gerald, but I shall see
you go with a heavy heart. Hush! here comes Edith. Do not let her know
what we have been discussing; she must not be needlessly alarmed. Well,
my child, here you are! Have you slept off last night's excitement?"

Edith, who had just entered to give her father a morning greeting, did
not look so bright and blooming as usual. Her features had a weary,
worn expression, and even her voice lacked its customary blitheness, as
she replied:

"I could not go to sleep again; every one in the house was awake and
moving; besides, I did not know how Gerald had fared."

Gerald, who was advancing to meet his _fiancée_, felt the reproach
contained in her words. He had not even thought of sending her a
message, yet he might have supposed that she would be anxious about

"Pardon me," he answered, quickly. "I imagined you had already learned
from your father that the nocturnal event was a matter of no

"It is rumored that the fugitives fired at you, that you returned the
fire, and----"

"People exaggerate, as usual," interrupted the colonel. "Of course,
Gerald was on the spot, and has done his duty; but you see he is safe
and sound. Unfortunately, he has brought news which will compel me to
discuss very serious matters in my own household. Where is Danira?"

Edith looked up, but not at her father; she turned her face toward

"Danira has gone."

The young officer started; it was but a moment ere the passing emotion
was repressed, but Edith had seen it. The colonel exclaimed:

"Gone! Where?"

"I don't know. She came to my room last night to bid me farewell, in a
wild, passionate manner, that frightened me even more than her words.
She forbade me to awake you or betray her flight, and was gone ere I
could fairly collect my senses. I understood nothing about the whole
affair, nothing except--the message she gave me for Gerald."

"For Gerald?" repeated Arlow, whose amazement at first exceeded his

"Yes, for him."

The young girl, while repeating Danira's words, fixed her eyes upon her
lover's face with a half timid, half questioning expression. She saw
the flush that crimsoned his brow for an instant, and the light which
leaped into his eyes at the vindication the message contained.

"I suspected that she would not be here this morning," he said, at
last. "After what had happened she could not stay, and would
undoubtedly have gone sooner or later, but I had anticipated something
worse than an attempt at rescue."

"I should think that was bad enough!" cried the colonel, furiously.
"The thankless, treacherous creature, who has lived with us for years
and been treated like a child of the house! To repay the benefits she
has received in this way--it is disgraceful."

This indignation was certainly pardonable in a man who, with the best
intentions and the most benevolent designs, had endeavored to curb an
alien, refractory element, but anger made him unjust. All the secret
aversion cherished against his adopted daughter now burst forth
unrestrained; he heaped the most violent invectives upon the fugitive,
and could not find words enough to condemn her.

Gerald listened for a time in silence, but the flush on his face
deepened and his brow grew darker and darker. When the colonel again
repeated the expression, "base treachery," the young man's eyes
suddenly flashed with a light as fierce as at the time the insult had
been hurled into his face.

"Danira is no traitress--that is now proved," he said, in a sharp,
positive tone, "and her aiding in the rescue of one of her own race is
no disgrace to her in my eyes."

"Do you want to take her part?" cried Arlow, angrily. "Do you want to
make excuses for a vagabond who leaves the house in the darkness of
night to wander about the mountains with an escaped prisoner, and--"

"Under the protection of her brother, who has summoned her, and is now
taking her back to her home. It was a mistake to tear this girl from
her birthplace, a mistake by which she has been the greatest sufferer.
She has done wrong, it is true, but the voice of blood has proved
stronger than that of gratitude; perhaps, in her place, I might have
done the same."

The colonel gazed in speechless astonishment at his future son-in-law,
whom he saw in this state of excitement for the first time.

"Well, you are the last person from whom I expected such opinions!" he
burst forth. "You are actually constituting yourself the knight and
defender of the runaway. Edith, what do you say to this affair? You
don't utter a word."

Edith's eyes still rested on the young officer's face, and even now she
did not avert her gaze.

"I think Gerald is right," she said, gently. "I felt the same when
Danira bade me farewell last night."

"Yes, that's the way with young people; they always see the romantic
side!" cried the colonel, angrily. "No unbiased opinion can be expected
from you; we won't argue about it any farther. At any rate, I am glad
the affair is ended in this way. I have always considered it a
misfortune that my own undue haste compelled me to tolerate such an
element in my household. This Danira's presence weighed like a
nightmare upon us all."

"Yes, it was fortunate that she went--for us all!" said Gerald, with a
long breath, as if a weight had been removed from his breast also.

Arlow paced up and down the room several times, as was his custom when
struggling with any emotion; then he paused before his daughter.

"Amidst all these discussions we are forgetting the main thing. You
don't yet know, my child, that Gerald must leave. The order came last
evening, and he is to march with his men to-morrow to join the

"So soon?" asked Edith, but the tone was hollow, almost mechanical. Her
father looked at her in surprise; he had expected that she would
receive the news very differently. But Gerald advanced to the young
girl's side and bent over her.

"Yes, I must go, and my little Edith must forgive my longing to share
the perils and privations of my comrades. I am to show myself worthy of
my _fiancée_ in this campaign. If I return we will turn our backs upon
this country and I will take my young wife home to beautiful, sunny
Tyrol and my mother's arms. Believe me, Edith, we can be very happy

There was an unusual warmth and tenderness in the words, perhaps also a
strange haste and uneasiness, while he grasped in a convulsive rather
than fervent clasp the hand of his promised bride, who did not utter a
syllable in reply. The colonel, however, now completely appeased, said:

"Well, that is talking sensibly! Edith will submit to the separation
until your return; she is a soldier's daughter. But go now, my son. You
must make the arrangements at the citadel which we have been
discussing. We shall expect you here this afternoon, and I will see
that you have leisure to devote yourself this last evening to your

Gerald raised the little hand which lay in his to his lips, and this
time really pressed a long, ardent kiss upon it. The caress seemed
almost like a plea for pardon, and he looked up reproachfully when the
hand was hastily withdrawn.

"You see the ice is breaking!" said the colonel, in a jesting tone,
when the door had closed behind the young officer. "The parting appears
to make Gerald realize what he possesses in his little _fiancée_. Do
you still think he is incapable of loving?"

Edith slowly turned her face toward her father; it was startlingly
pale, and the blue eyes were filled with scalding tears.

"Oh! yes, Gerald can love!" she said, with quivering lips. "I have
learned that to-day--but he has never loved me!"


On a desolate, rocky mountain plateau, a most lonely and secluded
location, was a fort, which, built many years before, had recently been
greatly strengthened, and was now the centre of the military operations
for the suppression of the rebellion.

Months had passed since the first outbreak, and the insurrection was
not yet wholly subdued, though every indication betokened a speedy
conquest. During this time the troops had endured all sorts of dangers
and hardships, a series of fierce battles had been waged, and here they
were compelled to fight, not only men, but the country, the climate,
the immobility and barrenness of this mountainous region, which proved
themselves foes to the strangers, while they became so many allies to
the natives of the land. Yet the greater part of the toilsome task was
already accomplished and the fate of the insurrection decided.

The tribe of which Joan Obrevic had been chief was the only one that
still opposed to the soldiery a tenacious and energetic resistance. Its
members had joined the rebellion immediately after the death of their
leader and the return of his son, and now this son occupied his
father's place and carried on a fierce, desperate warfare, in which all
the cruelty of his race was displayed. With proud defiance he rejected
every overture relating to surrender or treaty, and woe betide all the
wounded and prisoners who fell into his hands!

A number of wounded soldiers, whose condition did not permit them to be
transported farther, had been brought to the fort, and Father Leonhard
had come there to render them spiritual consolation and assistance. The
sun shone hotly down upon the stone walls of the little fortress, but
within their shelter it was comparatively cool. The priest was sitting
in the tiny room assigned to him, and before him stood George Moosbach,
covered with dust, flushed with heat, and bearing every token of a
fatiguing march.

"Here we are, your reverence," he said. "At least, here I am for the
present, half dead with thirst, three quarters worn out by fatigue, and
entirely roasted by the heat of the sun. Well, when a fellow has the
same sport every day he gets used to it in time."

"Yet you don't seem much the worse for your exertions," replied the
priest, glancing at the young soldier's face--it was a little more
sunburnt, it is true, but the black eyes sparkled as boldly and
blithely as ever.

"They must be borne," he answered stolidly. "Besides, I knew beforehand
that it was a God-forsaken country. There are no human beings here at
all except His Majesty's faithful troops, who have to fight these
savages. We march for hours without seeing tree or bush, nothing but
sky, rocks and sunshine, and by way of variety sometimes encounter a
_bora_, during which one can see and hear nothing. If you were not
here, your reverence, there would be no Christianity; we've fallen
among Turks and pagans. Oh, my beautiful, blessed Tyrol! The Lord
created you specially for His own pleasure, but I should like to know
what He could have been thinking of when He made Krivoscia."

George had not yet attained familiarity with the name, which fell in a
perfectly barbarous accent from his lips, but the priest said

"Our Lord knows best why He has distributed His gifts in one way and
not another-- So you have reported that Baron von Steinach and his men
are coming to the fort?"

"Yes; they'll be here in half an hour, and I hope still alive."

"Why? Are there wounded soldiers with the troops?"

"No, when I left they were all well, but a man isn't sure of his life
an hour here. How often, when we were marching merrily along, singing
the songs of our beautiful Tyrol, those accursed savages have
unexpectedly attacked us! One moment the wilderness is perfectly empty,
and all at once there are the fellows, as if they had grown out of the
rocks, and their bullets are whizzing around our heads. They never make
a stand anywhere; if we try to catch them in a ravine they are on the
heights, and when we climb up they are down below again. If it comes to
a real attack, the whole troop vanishes in the twinkling of an eye, as
if the cliffs had swallowed them up, and we halt, utterly bewildered,
look at each other, and count our ears and noses to see whether we
still have them all."

This vivid and exhaustive description of Krivoscian campaigning brought
a passing smile to Father Leonhard's face.

"If any one should hear you, he would suppose you a bad soldier who
only did your duty under compulsion," he replied. "Yet I was able to
write to your parents a few days ago that their George distinguished
himself on every occasion, and his superior officers gave him the
highest praise for his fearlessness."

George looked very proud of the eulogy bestowed upon him, but modestly
disclaimed it.

"I learned that by watching my lieutenant. Whenever he meets the
insurgents he always sends them home with broken heads. Perhaps you
have written to Baroness von Steinach, too, your reverence?"

"No, I had no occasion, and I think the lieutenant will do it himself."

"I ought to," said the young Tyrolese, with a very downcast air. "The
Baroness charged me to protect Herr Gerald's life--but I can't bear to
cause her the sorrow."

"Sorrow? Because her son has so greatly distinguished himself?'

"No, not that, it's a very different matter, your reverence." George
clasped his hands devoutly. "You have often reproved me for committing
so many follies, and it's all true. But they do no harm, and they are
far from being so bad as the one folly Herr Gerald has committed in his
whole life. I can't look on any longer, I must tell you."

He uttered so heart-rending a sigh that the priest gazed at him with a
startled, anxious glance.

"What do you mean? What is the matter with the lieutenant?"

"He's bewitched!" George despairingly exclaimed. "Completely

"George--are you in your senses?"

"I am, but unluckily he isn't. The poor young lady in Cattaro! So
pretty, so bright, and merry that it cheers one's heart just to look at
her, and now this Danira----"

"The commandant's adopted daughter, who ran away at night? What of

"She's the witch who has done my lieutenant this mischief!" George
cried indignantly. "She has brewed some witches' potion, these savages
know how, and now the misfortune has come--he is in love with her."

Father Leonhard rose in utter consternation.

"Impossible? Gerald von Steinach, that quiet, thoughtful man, with his
rigid sense of duty, possessed by such an infatuation--it can't be!
What put the idea into your head?"

The young soldier advanced a step nearer and lowered his voice, though
they were entirely alone.

"I knew it in Cattaro, but I did not want to believe it. The evening
before our departure the lieutenant went once more to the commandant's
and I was permitted to go with him to bid the young lady good-bye. But
we did not see her at all, not even Herr Gerald; instead of that his
future father-in-law and he were alone together in a room for an hour.
I was standing in the dark ante-chamber when they at last came out; the
colonel didn't see me, and I heard his farewell words:

"'I will not wrong you, Gerald; I myself believe that the whole affair
is merely a foolish fancy on the part of Edith, but what you say does
not soothe me, for it shows that you are not perfectly clear in your
own mind. We part now, and you are going to encounter serious things;
you will have ample time to test yourself. You have given me your word
of honor that you will not write to your promised wife until you can
say to her with entire sincerity: I did not love Danira, my heart
belongs solely to you. If you can do that your bride will not be lost,
for I rely implicitly upon your honor, and so will Edith. Now,
farewell, I hope you will write soon!'"

Father Leonhard had listened in extreme suspense to this literal
repetition of the conversation, now he asked hastily:

"Well, and--?"

"Well, your reverence, Herr Gerald has not written."

"Really? Are you sure?"

"Absolutely certain. I have to take all the letters to the messenger;
there was not one to the young lady among them."

"That is certainly a bad sign," said the priest in a low tone, "very

"It's witchcraft, abominable witchcraft!" George wrathfully exclaimed.
"The blow will kill his mother when she discovers it. Castle Steinach
will be completely upset, and Moosbach Farm too, and the whole Tyrol to
boot--a reverend ecclesiastic must interfere, nothing else will do,
only priests can oppose witchcraft."

Father Leonhard did not heed the last words, the news evidently
affected him most painfully, and it was after a long pause that he

"Have you ever given the Lieutenant a hint that you knew the affair?"

"I tried it once," said George, mournfully. "But I got no further than
the name Danira. Then he started up and looked at me with a pair of
eyes--I didn't suppose Herr Gerald could glare so--I didn't attempt it
a second time."

"Then I'll try whether he will talk with me. Meantime, keep silence
about it in future to every one."

Here the conversation was interrupted; they heard outside words of
command and the regular tramp of soldiers marching.

"There they are!" cried George, starting up. "Excuse me, your
reverence, I must see whether they have brought Jovica; the Lieutenant
took charge of her when I was obliged to leave."

"Who is Jovica?" asked the priest, but he received no answer, the young
soldier had already darted out of the door, and Father Leonhard went to
the window.

It was really Lieutenant von Steinach, who had just arrived with his
detachment, joyously welcomed by the garrison of the fort. The officers
greeted each other, and the soldiers openly expressed their
satisfaction in having reached the place where they expected rest and
refreshment after the fatiguing march. There was a pleasant bustle
going on when George suddenly appeared, hastily saluting his
lieutenant, and then darted like a bird of prey into the midst of his
comrades, where he seemed to be looking for something.

Father Leonhard now went down to welcome the young officer, whom he had
not seen since his departure from Cattaro; for, owing to the peculiar
method of warfare, the various detachments of the regiment were usually
separated from each other. At the foot of the stairs Gerald came toward
him, accompanied by the officer commanding the fort. The meeting was
cordial, even affectionate, but necessarily brief. Gerald promised to
seek the reverend gentleman as soon as possible, and then prepared to
follow his comrade, but in the very act of departure he turned back and

"Has George told you about his foundling?"

"What foundling? I don't know a word of the affair."

"George now has a new charge, which, to be sure is rather oddly suited
to him. He has set up for an adopted father, and intends to bring his
_protégée_ to you. You will hear the particulars from him. _Au revoir_,
your reverence."

The gentlemen went on, and Father Leonhard shook his head with a
puzzled look. He could not imagine his quarrelsome parishioner in the
position intimated, but he was not to remain in doubt long, for just at
that moment George entered the corridor with a young girl whom he led
by the hand like a child.

"The saints preserve me!" cried the priest, who was not at all prepared
for this spectacle. "What is this you are bringing me?"

"A savage!" replied the young soldier with great solemnity. "But you
needn't be frightened, your reverence, she is perfectly tame."

Father Leonhard gazed in astonishment at the delicate little creature,
who scarcely reached to her companion's shoulder. She was a very young
girl, hardly beyond childhood, slender and shy as a chamois. The dark,
southern face, with its childish features and dark eyes, had an
expression of timid submission and gentleness, while clothing so scanty
and miserable was only found among the poorest shepherd tribes of the

"This is Jovica!" replied George, in a tone which seemed to imply that
those few words told the whole story; but this explanation did not
satisfy the priest, who desired to know who Jovica was and where she
came from, so George was obliged to condescend to a longer narrative.

"Two days ago we had to capture a few of the mud and stone huts people
here call a village. There was sharp fighting over it, but we finally
got possession and the inhabitants fled. There I found the poor thing,
who had been left behind alone, hidden in a corner, half starved and
almost frightened to death. She probably expected me to spear her on
the spot, for she was trembling from head to foot, but I've brought her
to a better opinion of the Tyrolese imperial chasseurs, haven't I,

The young girl evidently did not understand one word of the whole
speech; her large eyes rested timidly and anxiously on the priest, and
she pressed closer, with unmistakable confidence, to her protector, who
now continued:

"The lieutenant understands Slavonic, so we found out that she didn't
belong to the village at all. She had come there with a party of
fugitives from the frontier, and did not even know where her own home
was. She made me comprehend: Father dead--mother dead--all dead! So
there was nothing for me to do except fill the places of father and
mother to her."

The words were uttered so sincerely and honestly that the priest could
not repress a faint smile, but he said quietly:

"I think, George, it will be best for you to trust the child to me."

"Yes, Lieutenant von Steinach thinks so too, that's why I brought
Jovica to you; but, your reverence, you'll have trouble with her, she
is a terrible pagan. The very first day it came out that she was still
in the midst of heathenism. She knows nothing about church nor
crucifix, and calls God 'Allah.'"

"Then the girl probably belongs to one of the Mohammedan tribes that
dwell on the frontier. If she is really an orphan and entirely
deserted, we must, of course, take charge of her, the only question is
what we are to do with her."

"First of all, baptize her," said George, in a paternal tone. "That can
be done at once here in the fort, and I'll stand god-father."

"It cannot be arranged so unceremoniously. The girl must first be
instructed in the precepts of Christianity, and we must know whether
she will prove susceptible to them."

George looked very much disappointed when the baptismal ceremony, in
which he expected to play so important a part, receded into the dim
distance, but he answered submissively:

"Well, you know best, your reverence, but the poor thing can't remain a
pagan, that's clear."

"For the present she will stay here," the priest added. "I need help in
caring for the wounded, and as one of them speaks Slavonic fluently, he
can act as interpreter. We will try at once."

He was going to take the girl by the arm to lead her away, but Jovica
resisted with all her strength this attempt to separate her from her
protector. Clinging anxiously to him, she began to weep bitterly,
saying in an imploring tone a few Slavonic words, which George
understood no better than she comprehended his language, but he stepped
back resolutely and drew her toward him.

"This won't do, your reverence," he said emphatically. "Jovica must be
differently treated or she will cry, and I can't stand that. The poor
thing is as timid as one of our chamois, and shrinks from every one
except me. One must talk to her like a father, and I am the only person
who understands it."

He stroked the girl's shining black hair with a soothing touch, and
actually began a speech in which he arbitrarily mixed with his Tyrolese
German a few Slavonic words he had picked up somewhere. It sounded more
barbaric than fatherly, yet Jovica was evidently quieted. She no longer
resisted when he at last led her to Father Leonhard, and by pantomime
endeavored to make known his goodness, but her eyes were still wet with
tears and rested with touching persistency on her protector.

The latter seemed to have several farewell ceremonies in view, but the
priest put an end to them by taking his charge away. George looked
after them very calmly. He had now placed both the affairs that lay
near his heart in the hands of the priesthood, and was firmly convinced
that Father Leonhard would deal with the "witchcraft" as well as the

He was just turning to go, when his comrade Bartel entered on his way
to report to the lieutenant.

"Well, George, have you got rid of your foundling?" he asked, in a
jeering tone. "What does Father Leonhard say to the pagan? Will he
baptize her?"

"Take care, Bartel!" replied George. "You are my friend and countryman,
but if you don't let me and Jovica alone, you'll fare badly."

Bartel did not heed the warning, but continued his taunts.

"A pretty adopted child you've chosen! A pagan witch, brown as a gypsy,
and ragged as--"

He went no further, for his friend and countryman stretched out his arm
and dealt the scoffer so violent a blow that he staggered back against
the wall and held his head between both hands as though dazed.

"That's what happens to people who talk about Jovica!" said George with
perfect composure. "Take notice and tell our comrades, that they may
govern themselves accordingly. If necessary, I'll knock down the whole
company," and conscious of having done a good act, he held his head
very high as he walked away.

Lieutenant von Steinach had kept his promise and sought Father Leonhard
in his room as soon as he found time to do so. He was now standing at
the window of the small apartment gazing at the dreary dead mountain
landscape, to which the sunset was lending a rather delusive semblance
of life.

The young officer, too, had been little affected by the fatigues of the
campaign. True, his features bore traces of the scorching heat of the
sun, and his light brown hair lay in thicker, more dishevelled locks on
his brow and temples, but otherwise he looked as fresh and vigorous as
ever. The privations of the past few weeks seemed to have only
strengthened him.

Yet the priest's watchful gaze discerned a change which, though only in
the expression, was distinctly apparent.

This was not quiet, passionless Gerald von Steinach, whose cool
circumspection had become proverbial among his comrades. There were new
lines on his face, a half gloomy, half bitter expression, which told of
secret conflicts concealed with difficulty, and a deep shadow lurked in
the eyes formerly so clear. He had related his military experiences,
discussed the chances of the campaign, spoken of his home and his
mother, but had never uttered a syllable in allusion to his promised
bride, and had even avoided mentioning Cattaro, though the city was the
real point of departure of all military operations. His manner of
speaking was also changed, it had become hasty and abrupt, as though he
wished to deaden some hidden anxiety and did not fix his thoughts upon
the conversation. At last he stopped talking, and his eyes rested
dreamily on the distant prospect. The rocks still gleamed redly in the
last rays of the setting sun, and on the horizon appeared long, sharply
outlined clouds, which also still glowed with rosy light.

The long silence which ensued roused Gerald from his reverie. He
turned, and when he saw the priest's questioning gaze fixed upon him,
an indignant expression flitted over his face.

"I was just watching the sky," he said, hastily. "We learn here to know
the signs of the weather; it seems as if we were going to have a
_bora_. I'm glad I have sheltered my men in the fort, and that there is
a probability of our having a few days' rest."

"You all need it," replied Father Leonhard. "Especially you, Gerald;
you have been almost continually on the move these last weeks."

"It was necessary; the insurgents don't give us much time to breathe.
You know it is Joan Obrevic's son who is now causing us the most

"And this son is chief of the tribe, and is making every exertion to
avenge his father. It often occasions me great anxiety, Gerald. You
have told me your experiences, but you have not mentioned how often
that vengeance has already threatened you. I learn from your comrades
that you have hitherto escaped these open and secret snares as though
by a miracle."

The young officer merely shrugged his shoulders.

"I am in the hands of a higher power, and--it is true--I have been of
late so often and so wonderfully preserved that I have learned to trust
this protection."

"But he who defies danger, as according to the other officers is your
custom, also defies Providence. Your life does not belong only to
yourself, others have a claim upon it."

"My mother--yes!" said Gerald slowly. "I sometimes forget that she is
anxious about me."

"And your promised wife?"

The young man silently fixed his eyes upon the floor.

"I hope you have letters from her? Our mail communication with Cattaro
is tolerably regular."

Gerald looked up, and doubtless read in the priest's glance that he
knew more than he cared to show, for he said quickly:

"Has Colonel Arlow written to you?"

"No, but perhaps I have learned from another source what you are
concealing from me."

Gerald made no reply, but again turned toward the window and seemed to
wish to close the conversation. Father Leonhard went up to him and laid
his hand on his shoulder.

"Gerald, you have spent little time at home during the last few years,
but surely you know that I am no stranger there. Will you not speak
freely to your parents' friend, to the priest?"

The question sounded gentle, yet grave and warning, and did not fail to
produce an effect. Gerald passed his hand across his brow.

"What am I to say? Do I know myself what it is that oppresses me? I
have been driven into doubts, discord with my own nature. Had Edith and
her father trusted to my honor, they would not have repented it. The
affair was over, and I should have crushed the memory of it like an
evil dream--forever!"

"A young girl does not wish merely to trust to her lover's honor in
keeping his troth," replied the priest earnestly. "She asks his love,
and with perfect justice. Besides, as I understand, the colonel has
permitted you to return as soon as you can do so, with a free heart.
Have you written to Fräulein Allow?"

"No," said Gerald, in a slow, dreary tone.

"You could not?"

"No, I could not."

"Gerald--this is impossible--it cannot be."

"What is impossible?" asked the young man with intense bitterness,
"that the somnambulist, who is suddenly waked to see the gulf at his
feet, should be seized with giddiness? Had he been left undisturbed, he
would have found the way back. I once thought it impossible that a
feeling could slumber for weeks in the depths of the soul, wholly
unsuspected, till suddenly a flash of lightning came to illumine the
darkness, that such a light could alter the whole nature until a man no
longer recognized himself in his thoughts and feelings. In Cattaro I
might still have conquered it; now that I have been alone for weeks I
know I can no longer do so, and thereby am sundered from my whole past,
involved in dissension with those who stand nearest to me, engaged in
perpetual warfare with myself. Would it not be best if I should not
return at all, and will you reproach me for seeking danger and longing
for the bullet that will end this torture?"

He had spoken with increasing agitation. A terrible change had indeed
taken place in the quiet man, and the priest was quite startled by this
fierce, feverish impetuosity.

"I never expected to see you thus, Gerald," he said with mingled
reproof and sorrow. "So it has already gone so far that you seek death,

"We must all look death in the face here," Gerald interrupted. "To me
he has lost his terrors, that is all. But we ought not to spoil our
meeting by such discussions. I wanted to speak to you of other matters.
George has already entrusted his charge to you, I hear. He would not
rest till I gave him permission to take the girl to the fort. The only
question is, what is to become of her now."

The sudden change of subject plainly showed that he wished to escape
the former topic of conversation, and Father Leonhard made no attempt
to keep to it, he had already learned too much.

The two men talked for several minutes longer about Jovica, but neither
felt at ease, and Gerald seized the first opportunity to withdraw.

The priest sighed heavily as he looked after him.

"How will this end?" he murmured. "The story is true, incredible as it
seems; one might almost, like George, believe in witchcraft. To be
sure, when a spark of passion once kindles these calm, icy natures, the
conflagration is terrible."

The night passed in the fort without incident; the new arrivals
especially gave themselves up to their well deserved repose, but it was
not to be long granted. Day was just beginning to dawn when the
reveille suddenly sounded, and the whole garrison was speedily in

Father Leonhard, who had been occupied with the wounded men until late
at night, was also roused--it was needful here to be always prepared
for the sudden outbreak of danger--and, rising, left his room. On the
stairs he met George in full uniform, coming toward him in the greatest

"Here you are, your reverence! My lieutenant has sent me to tell you
that we must be off at once. He hasn't any time, and I must be down
below in five minutes. Didn't I say so! Scarcely do we expect to get a
fair chance of sleep when these confounded savages are at us again."

"But what is the matter? Are the insurgents attacking the fort?"

"No; but our captain is fighting with them two leagues from here. They
attacked him during the night; he can't hold out alone against the
superior force, and has sent for reinforcements. We are to join him. I
only wanted to ask you to take care of Jovica, your reverence. The poor
thing will cry if she doesn't see me, and I now fill a father's place
to her."

"Have no anxiety, the young girl is under my protection. Where is your

But George was far too much engrossed by his paternal duties to have
any thought of anything else, he continued hastily in broken accents:

"And if I don't return at all, you must at least baptize the poor
thing; she can't remain in paganism. Promise me that, your reverence.
There's the signal again, and that confounded _bora_ is beginning to
whistle. But it makes no difference, out we must go! I wish I could
wring the neck of this whole Krivoscia--no, not the whole, Jovica
belongs to the country. No, no! Take care of Jovica for me, your

He rushed down the staircase to join his comrades. Father Leonhard
followed, and was just in time to see the fortress gates opened. George
was already standing in the ranks; Gerald, who was at the head of his
men, waved a farewell to the priest with his sword, and the little band
marched bravely out in the glimmering dusk of early morn.


The _bora_ had been blowing all day long with a violence that would
have seemed dangerous to a dweller in the lowlands, but which attracted
no special attention here. On the rocky heights of the Karst the
mountaineers were familiar with tempests that brought destruction to
every living thing in their path, and often hurled horse and rider over
a precipice. To-day the wind had roared over the earth and howled
fiercely above it, but it was at least possible to remain out of doors
and even move forward. The air was dry, the sky clear, and the
landscape was illumined by the bright moonlight.

In one of the funnel-shaped ravines that intersect the rocky ridges of
the Karst in every direction, was a so-called "village," a mere handful
of huts, rudely built of stone, which only afforded shelter from the
weather, and scarcely resembled human habitations. Somewhat higher up,
almost at the edge of the ravine, but still within the protection of
the rocks, stood a somewhat larger building, the only one that deserved
the name of house. It was firmly built, had a door and windows, and was
divided inside into several separate rooms. The first and largest of
these apartments seemed to be used as a common living-room by the
occupants. A huge fire was blazing on the hearth and illumined the
bare, smoke-blackened walls, whose sole ornaments, a crucifix and an
image of a saint, showed that the inhabitants were Christians. The
furniture, though clumsy and roughly made, was better than is usually
found in this region, and several wooden chests in the corners,
apparently well filled, also indicated that the owner of the dwelling
was one of the rich and distinguished men in the tribe.

True, the weapons generally seen on the walls of every hut were absent,
like the arms that wielded them. The men belonging to the village, who
were capable of bearing arms, were now away at the scene of war or
camped in inaccessible ravines and narrow passes. Sometimes they
secretly returned to their homes, which stood open to the troops--they
were well aware that the women and children left behind had nothing to
fear from the soldiery.

Upon the wooden table stood the remnants of a simple meal, and a young
woman was engaged in cleaning the pot in which she had prepared it. She
did her work swiftly and silently, without joining even by a syllable
in the conversation of the two men who stood by the hearth.

Both were young, and true sons of their country, slender, brown and
supple, but their dress and whole appearance showed traces of the long
months of conflict through which they had passed. The elder, who had
sharp, eagle-like features, and a face as hard and rigid as the rocks
of his home, was gazing gloomily with frowning brow into the fire. His
companion, who was several years his junior, also looked grave and
gloomy, but his face lacked the former's iron sternness. Neither had
laid aside his weapons; they wore swords at their sides and knives
thrust into their girdles, while their guns leaned against the wall
close by within their reach.

"I expected to hear better news from you," said the elder, angrily.
"Another defeat! Was not your force superior?"

"Only at first, the enemy received reinforcements, and my men have long
been disheartened. You will not see, Marco, that we are constantly
being forced back, more and more closely surrounded. We are the only
ones who still hold out--for how long?"

"Do you want to sue for mercy?" cried Marco, furiously. "Will you give
your hand to those who killed your father, as well as mine? If you can
forget that you are Hersovac's son--my name is Obrevic. And the man to
whom I owe my imprisonment and my father's death is still unharmed."

"It was he who brought the foe aid to-day," said young Hersovac. "I
recognized him during the fight. You will not touch him, he has
protected himself by witchcraft."

"One might believe so!" muttered Marco. "He is no coward, he is always
in the front of the fray. How often I have sought him there, how often
he was to have been betrayed into my hands by stratagem. Others, the
wrong ones, were always struck and he escaped. But he is still within
our frontiers, and I have set snares for him at every step. If he once
separates from his comrades he is mine!"

He seized a log of wood from the pile and flung it on the fire so that
the sparks flew in every direction; it was an expression of his
suppressed fury. Then he asked in a curt, sharp tone:

"Where is Danira? Doesn't she know that I am here?"

"Yes, but she refuses to come in."

"Compel her, then!" said Marco, roughly.

"Compel Danira? You do not know my sister."

"I would compel her, and I will, as soon as she is mine; rely upon
that. Call her in."

The command sounded very imperious, but Stephan Hersovac obeyed. He was
still very young, and apparently not equal to the position
circumstances had forced upon him.

Only the elder of the sons of the two fallen leaders seemed capable of
taking his father's place, yet they had grown up together like brothers
in the house of Joan Obrevic after the latter brought his dead friend's
son home. But, even in those days, the energetic Marco exerted
authority over his younger and more yielding friend. Stephan was
accustomed to submit to him, and did so absolutely, now that he stood
at the head of the tribe.

After a few minutes Danira appeared. She, too, wore the costume of the
country, yet even here in her home there was something foreign in her
aspect. She had nothing at all in common with the women of her race,
the timid, humble creatures born and reared to subjection. There was a
cold pride in her bearing as she approached Marco and bent her head, as
though his imperious summons had been a petition, and she had granted

Obrevic must have received this impression, for his eyes glowed with a
fervent, passionate admiration, although his voice remained cold and
harsh, as he asked:

"Can you not greet the guest who comes to your brother's hearth, or
don't you wish to do so?"

"Did you miss my greeting?" was the cool reply. "You only came to hold
a conference with Stephan, and your meal was already provided."

"No matter! It is seemly for you to welcome the man to whom your
brother has promised your hand. You have long known that."

"And you know that I do not recognize this promise. I have never given
you mine."

"Among us a woman has no will," replied Marco, imperiously. "Your
brother is now the head of the house. He has a right to dispose of you,
and will compel you to obey--he or I!"

"Try it!"

The two words were spoken with perfect calmness, but such unyielding
resolution that Marco stamped his foot furiously.

"Have you learned defiance among the people down below? You have now
returned to us, and none of the follies they taught you suit this

"You are mistaken. I have left everything there--." The girl's voice
trembled for a moment. Then she repeated, with passionate, almost angry
emphasis: "Everything. Ask my brother whether I shrink from the labor
of which I was ignorant, whether I refuse to do what is imposed upon
me. I ask only one thing--to be free! And I shall not be, if I belong
to a husband. I did not fly from captivity to enter slavery, and with
you a wife is a slave."

Her eyes wandered with a half pitying, half scornful glance toward her
brother's wife, who, still busied with her work, crouched beside the
hearth; spite of her youth and beauty the stamp of servitude was
plainly visible. Scarcely as old as Danira, she was already worn by the
hard burden of toil that rested almost entirely upon her shoulders. She
had prepared the meal, and waited on the men without receiving the
slightest notice from them. Even in her husband's presence she showed
nothing but timid shyness and submission, and now gazed with actual
horror at the girl who ventured to say such things to a man. Her whole
appearance and bearing formed a convincing proof of the truth of
Danira's words, and this exasperated the fierce Obrevic.

"Do you want to teach us foreign customs?" he furiously exclaimed.
"With us the husband is the only person of importance, and what our
wives have been they will remain."

Danira drew herself up proudly, her eyes flashed, and with passionate
pride she retorted:

"But I am not like your women, and never will be--that is the very
reason I will belong to none of you."

Her defiance irritated Marco, but at the same time produced an
impression upon him, for it contained a shade of his own unbridled,
unbending will. His hand was still clenched, but as his eyes rested on
the beautiful face, glowing with excitement, he murmured:

"No, you are different--that is why I cannot give you up."

A pause ensued; Danira stooped and began to put fresh fuel on the dying
fire. Her hands showed that she had learned to work and did not spare
herself, but every movement was full of grace and power.

Marco silently watched her, and suddenly advancing a step nearer seized
the girl's arm, asking in an abrupt, vehement tone:

"Why do you scorn my suit? I am the chief, the richest man in the
tribe, even richer than your brother. You need not labor like the other
women, you shall be no slave in my house--no, Danira, I promise you!"

There was a strange blending of sullen menace and ardent passion in the
words, nay, even an accent of entreaty in the promise. It was evident
that the rude son of the mountains was completely under the thrall of a
feeling experienced for the first time, and which subdued his masculine
obstinacy. He pleaded where, in his opinion, he was entitled to demand,
but Danira with quiet decision released her arm.

"You cannot act contrary to your nature, Marco, even if you wished. You
must rule and oppress, and when angered you know no limits. You bend
even my brother absolutely to your will; what would be your wife's
fate? And is this a time to think of marriage? Stephan has just told
you what has happened; he has been defeated."

"For the third time! By all the saints, I would not have allowed myself
to be routed, but Stephan is no leader--never has been."

"My brother is still very young," replied Danira. "He lacks experience,
not courage, and can do nothing for a lost cause, for--whether you
admit it or not--our cause is lost. You alone still hold out, but you
cannot accomplish what is impossible."

"Silence!" cried Obrevic in a fierce outbreak of wrath. "What do you
know about it? Has Stephan already infected you with his cowardice? He
talks of submission, and you----"

"Not I!" Danira interrupted. "I can understand that you must conquer or
fall. I wish I could die with you, if it comes to that. Destruction is
no disgrace--but there is shame in submission."

The words had a ring of iron resolution which showed that the girl was
quite capable of verifying them if matters proceeded to extremes. Marco
felt this, for without averting his gaze from her face he said slowly:

"You ought to have been the man and Stephan the woman. You have
inherited your father's blood--he did not."

He held out his hand and clasped hers with a firm pressure, such as was
usually exchanged only between men. Danira had compelled him to
recognize her as his equal. The clasp of the hand acknowledged it.

"You are right," he continued. "This is no time to think of marriage,
we have better things to do. But when the time comes--and come it
will--you shall be mine, Danira, I have sworn it and will keep my vow."

The light of passion again glowed in his eyes, but the young girl was
spared a reply, for Stephan entered and the two men began to equip
themselves for departure. The farewell was brief and laconic. These
rude sons of the mountains were fully capable of passions but mere
emotions where wholly alien to their natures.

Even Stephan did not think of taking any warmer leave of his young
wife, who approached to hand him his gun, yet they had been only a few
months wedded, and the two men might expect death at any hour. Marco,
in the act of departure, turned once more to Danira with the question:

"Were there any soldiers in the village this morning?"

"Yes, but they only rested a short time, and marched on scarcely an
hour after."

"Others will probably come to-night or early tomorrow. They are seeking
us, as they have so often done, and will not find us unless we wish to
be found. If they ask, put them on a false trail."

The young girl shook her head. "You know I cannot lie. And they never
ask, they know we will not betray our people--Stephan is to join you
with his men?"

"Yes, at once, that we may be united in the next attack. Farewell!"

The two men went out and ascended to the top of the ravine. Their dark
figures were visible for a time, making their way vigorously against
the gale, then they vanished and the village lay silent and desolate,
apparently wrapped in slumber, as before.

Stephan Hersovac's house was also silent, but Danira still sat by the
hearth, constantly putting fresh logs upon the dying fire, as if she
dreaded darkness and sleep. Her sister-in-law had already gone to rest.
She did not understand how any one could shorten or wholly resign the
only solace of a toilsome life, slumber, and had nothing to think
about, so she was sound asleep in the dark room adjoining.

The young girl had closed the door leading to it, in order to be
entirely alone, and was now gazing fixedly into the flames. Without the
tempest raved, and within the fire snapped and crackled, but Danira saw
and heard nothing. She was dreaming, dreaming with her burning eyes
wide open, and from the floating smoke appeared visions far, far
removed from the darkness and solitude of the hour--a wide, wide
landscape, flooded with golden sunshine, and overarched by a deep-blue
sky, towering mountain peaks, shimmering waves, and in the distance a
surging sea, veiled by the mists of morning!

Above the whole scene hovered a face, looking down upon her with stern
severity, bitter reproach, as in that hour on the rocky height, that
hour which had decided the fate of two human beings.

They had not seen each other since, and to separation was added enmity,
for the two parties to which they belonged now confronted each other in
mortal strife. And yet--the visionary face began to lose its harsh
expression, softened more and more, until finally it disappeared, and
only two clear eyes gazed forth from the drifting wreaths of smoke, the
bright, clear eyes of Gerald von Steinach, no longer full of hate and
enmity, but instinct with that one emotion which had awaked in that
hour never to die again.

Just at that moment one of the glowing logs broke and others fell,
sending out a shower of sparks. Danira started and looked up. The dream
still absorbed her so completely that she needed several seconds to
recall where she was, but her surroundings soon brought her back to
reality. Yes, this close, gloomy room, with its bare walls and wretched
household furniture, its smoky, stifling atmosphere--this was the home
for which she had longed since childhood, and this life, spent day
after day in hard, common toil, destitute of every intellectual
element, was the freedom of which she had dreamed.

The commandant's adopted daughter, who had been surrounded in his house
with all the requisites of luxury and culture, now learned to know what
she had given up and what she had obtained in exchange. Obrevic had
told the truth. Here the man was the only person of importance, and the
idea of freedom, fierce and unbridled as it might be, existed for him
alone; the wife was merely the best piece of furniture in the house,
the beast of burden who bore the labors of the home, and always
trembled in slavish fear of her stern master. So the custom of the
tribe required, and to this custom all who belonged to it must bow.

No matter, she had chosen her own fate, and Danira's resolute will
repressed the loathing she felt for these surroundings and this
treatment, which she had endured without complaint; but now the worst
came. She was sought in marriage by a man with whose rudeness and
fierceness she was sufficiently familiar, and thereby the last remnant
of independence was lost. Marco's ardent passion still gave her power
over him. He still yielded to the influence of a higher nature, and was
charmed and allured by what was refused, but only so long as it
continued to be denied. When once his property, the old tyranny would
assert its rights, and his wife would have no better lot than the other
women of her race. Sooner or later she would be forced to choose
between accepting him for her husband or quitting her brother's house,
for the latter, incited and irritated by his friend, would undoubtedly
try this means of subduing her will. Then she would be thrust out by
her kindred, for whom she had sacrificed everything, homeless here as
well as there!

Danira had started up, and was pacing to and fro in the narrow space,
as though pursued by torturing thoughts. Her movements grew more and
more impetuous, her bosom heaved passionately, and she suddenly sank
down before the crucifix and pressed her burning brow against the cold
wall. The prayer that rose to heaven was fervent and despairing, though
silent; a prayer for deliverance, for release from the fetters that
constantly encircled her more closely. She must sink under them, unless
rescue came.

Meantime, the _bora_ was blowing outside with undiminished violence,
and the two figures that now appeared on the edge of the ravine had
great difficulty in making a stand against it. The moonlight showed
that both men wore the Austrian uniform. They had moved forward as fast
as the gale permitted, but now stopped, and were evidently trying to
examine their surroundings.

"I don't know, Herr Lieutenant--the story doesn't seem to me exactly
straight," said one. "The place down yonder is as dark and silent as if
every human being in it were dead. Are you really going into it?"

It was George Moosbach's voice, and the reply came from the lips of
Gerald von Steinach, who, in his usual quiet, resolute manner, said:

"Of course I am, for this is evidently the right place. It is the
village our troops entered this morning. I recognize it distinctly from
the description."

"But there isn't a mouse moving below, far less an Imperial Chasseur.
We must have been already seen, yet no one has challenged us."

"I, too, noticed the absence of sentinels. I fear our men must have
been forced to retreat, leaving the wounded officer in charge of the
necessary escort. The message to me was all right at any rate, for the
shepherd had brought, as his credentials, Salten's portfolio containing
his notes."

"But it's queer that he wanted to speak to you in particular," George
persisted. "I stick to it, I don't like the looks of the business,
still less those of the ragged lad who acted as messenger. He had the
face of a knave. If only there isn't some piece of deviltry in it!"

"You see mischief and snares everywhere," replied Gerald, impatiently,
as he prepared to descend into the ravine. "Am I to refuse the request
of a severely wounded comrade, who wants to see me and perhaps has a
last commission to give? To be sure it would have been more agreeable
to me to have taken the peril as well as the responsibility of this
errand on myself alone."

"But not to me," replied George. "If our lives are at stake I would far
rather be here, and it will come to that. That confounded boy has
vanished as though the earth had swallowed him. It's the way with all
these savages! The whole tribe is in league with witches."

"The lad has run on before to announce our arrival," said the young
officer, who appeared to have no thought of danger. "He forgot to tell
us the direction, so we must find the way ourselves. Yonder house seems
to me to be the only one at all suitable for the reception of a wounded
officer. We will go there first."

"Thank God, a man can at least breathe here!" muttered George, who had
just gained the shelter of the rocks. "If they call this a 'little'
_bora_, I'd like to see a big one. I wish it would sweep this Krivoscia
off the face of the earth and us back to Tyrol."

Meantime Gerald had approached the house, through whose closed shutters
a faint ray of light was shining. The gale which had prevented his
footsteps from being heard also drowned his knock, and as no answer
came from within, the officer pushed the door open and entered.

The fire, still blazing brightly on the hearth, threw its glare full
upon the newcomers, clearly revealing their figures, but at the same
time dazzled them so that, for a moment, they could see nothing
distinctly and did not even notice the woman kneeling in the shadow of
the wall.

Danira started and tried to rise, but her limbs seemed to refuse their
service. Motionless, she gazed with dilated eyes upon the vision which
appeared before her from the storm and darkness outside, as though her
own thoughts had assumed form and substance. Not until Gerald advanced
did she become conscious of the reality of his presence. A half stifled
cry escaped her lips. This sudden, unexpected meeting tore the veil
from the girl's soul, and she called the name never before uttered:


"Danira!" came the answer in a tone of such passionate joy that George,
who had entered behind his lieutenant, hastened to his side, murmuring
under his breath in an accent of horror:

"May all good spirits guard us! There's the witch!"

An instant's pause followed. Danira was the first who tried to regain
her self-command, though it was only an attempt.

"Herr von Steinach! I thought--I did not expect to see you again."

"And I did not suspect that you lived in this house," said Gerald, to
whom George's movement had also restored composure, for it reminded him
that this interview must have no witnesses. He therefore turned, saying
with forced calmness:

"This young lady will be the best person to give me the information we
desire. Wait outside the door till I call you."

George knew the meaning of subordination and was accustomed to obey his
lieutenant implicitly, but this time every fibre of his being rebelled
against discipline. In his eyes Gerald was bewitched; and therefore
wholly incapable of sound judgment as soon as the witchcraft came into
play. To leave him with the cause of all the mischief was resigning him
to destruction.

As a Christian and a Tyrolese George felt it his duty to protect him
from a danger far worse than those which imperilled life and limb, for
here the soul's salvation was at stake. So he drew himself up, raised
his hand to his cap and said respectfully:

"By your leave, Herr Lieutenant, I will stay."

Gerald frowned and looked at him--it was only one glance, but the young
Tyrolese had remembered the threatening flash from the hour he had
attempted to obtain an insight into the affair of mingled love and
witchcraft, and all inclination for further resistance instantly
vanished. As Gerald, without a word, pointed with a quiet, imperious
wave of the hand to the door, George, though still far from having
conquered his alarm, found it advisable to obey, but once outside he
clasped his hands in a hurried prayer.

"Saint George and all the saints aid him! She has got him now--may the
Lord have mercy upon him!"

The two who remained behind were alone--they still confronted each
other in silence, but Gerald's eyes rested as if spellbound upon the
young girl, who had slowly risen and advanced into the circle of light
cast by the fire. The ruddy glow made her figure stand out in relief
against the dark background like a picture, a picture that certainly
did not suit the frame of this small, gloomy room.

Danira's beauty was fully displayed for the first time, now that she
wore the costume of the country, whose picturesque cut and coloring
seemed to have been created especially for her. The braids of black
hair fell unconfined in all their weight and luxuriance, and her whole
bearing was free, fetterless and haughty, as though relieved from the
burden of a dependence that had oppressed her for years, released from
the bonds of the gratitude reason imposed upon her, but against which
her heart continually rebelled. It was the daughter of the fallen chief
who had already conquered a moment's self-forgetfulness, and now, with
all the pride of her blood and lineage, faced the man whom she again
regarded as the enemy of her people.

"I believe, Herr von Steinach, that the circumstances of our parting
were too peculiar for us to greet this meeting with pleasure," she said
at last. It was the old icy tone, specially intended to efface that one
unguarded moment, and it partially accomplished its purpose.

The young officer's manner also grew colder and more formal as he

"Then you must reproach accident, not me, for this interview. I repeat
I had no suspicion who lived in this house. Only duty called me here."

"I do not doubt it. We are accustomed to see troops in our homes,
though they find only women and children to combat."

"Who are fearlessly left behind because it is well known that we do not
attack the defenseless. True, we have the men to deal with only when
they assail us from some safe ambush."

"We are at war," said Danira curtly. "Any advantage is allowable in

"And who forced this war upon us? We did not seek it, but the
enforcement of a law was at stake, a law we could not resign and which
is recognized throughout the whole vast empire. Your tribe is the only
one that refuses to obey it."

"Because the free sons of the mountains cannot and will not bow to the
yoke. You will try in vain to subdue them."

The words had a sharper sting than was necessary, for a dark flush, the
token of ill-repressed excitement, had long since crimsoned the young
officer's brow, and his answer was cutting in its sharpness.

"We regard military service as an honor, not a yoke. At least it is a
duty. Of course the idea of duty does not enter into the unbridled
caprice your people call liberty; it must first be taught. But, rely
upon it, Fräulein, we shall teach it yet. I may be permitted to suppose
that you are informed of the last events of the campaign, and know that
the fate of the insurrection is already decided."

Danira, of course, knew this, she had even spoken of it to Marco an
hour before, but nothing in the world would have induced her to admit
it to this man, so with the courage of despair she answered:

"Do not triumph too soon! Marco Obrevic still holds out, and with him
the bravest of our people. They can die, but they will not surrender."

Gerald started at the name; a strangely gloomy, searching glance rested
on the young girl.

"Marco Obrevic!" he repeated. "So you know him--very well?"

"He is my brother's friend."

"And owes you his freedom--for the plan of escape was doubtless your

"At least I had a share in it. True, Marco's liberty was purchased at a
high price, it cost him his father and our tribe a chief. Joan Obrevic
fell by your bullet."

"I did my duty, and besides, the fugitives fired at me first. I will
repeat the words you just uttered: we are at war."

Reproach and retort sounded equally bitter and hostile, and the manner
of both was as rigid and implacable as if they were really mortal foes,
yet their eyes spoke a very different language from that of hate.
Gerald could not avert his gaze from the beautiful, hostile face; he
had forgotten everything else, even the summons of his wounded comrade,
and only sought the eyes which shunned his, yet as though attracted by
some magnetic power, constantly returned to them.

"I do not reproach you for that accident," said Danira, and for the
first time her tone sounded more gentle. "But you too have doubtless
now recalled the charge you hurled at me then with such scathing fury.
The purpose for which I used my knowledge of the place and
circumstances was only to effect Obrevic's escape. My people called
upon me to do it, and summoned me to return to them--they had a right
to ask both."

"If you admit the right--certainly. Only it is strange that your
kindred left you so long in the home and under the charge of an alien,
that they did not inquire about you once during all those years. Not
until they needed you did they find the way to reach you, though,
according to appearances, it was so easily discovered. Up to that time
your relatives had forgotten you and did not know whether you were
alive or dead."

The taunt struck home; Danira's haughty head drooped. It was needless
to tell her that she had been only a means to an end--she had known it
long before. Gerald advanced a step nearer, and his voice also lost its
icy tone as he continued:

"No matter, you have made your choice and returned to your home--are
you happy?"

"I am free! That is all I ask."

"And how long will you remain so? During our expeditions I have gained
an insight into the customs of the country and know the fate to which
they condemn women. As soon as you marry, this lot will be yours. Is it
possible that a high-spirited girl, with this energetic will and ardent
desire for freedom, can endure to be, not the companion, but the slave
of a rough, fierce man, who does not even know the name of intellectual
needs and will pitilessly trample upon every higher emotion, because he
values only the capacity for work she shares with his domestic animals,
who daily----"

"Stop--that is not true!" Danira vehemently interrupted, for she felt
whom he was describing, though no name was spoken. But the young
officer did not allow himself to be checked, and added with marked

"It is true, and of this truth you will perish. Deny it as you will,
the charm with which your imagination invested your home has vanished,
must have vanished at the moment when you beheld the reality, and the
chasm which formerly apparently divided you from us, yawned a gigantic
abyss on the other side. You can no longer descend to these people with
their brutal customs. You are ours; in every thought and feeling you
belong to us, but you have all the defiance of your race, which will
bleed and die rather than submit to a higher law."

He had spoken with increasing excitement, and Danira no longer tried to
interrupt him; these were her own thoughts, her own dread which had
just forced themselves upon her with such annihilating power. Word
after word fell from his lips as if he had been listening to her; she
could no longer deny their truth, nay, did not wish to do so.

She slowly raised her head, but a dark fire was glowing in her eyes.
Gerald could not help thinking again of the tempestuous night illumined
by flashes of lightning. His pitiless words had, roused, with the young
girl's pride, all her former energy; she drew herself up to her full

"Perhaps you are right! Well, then, I am a daughter of my race and can
bleed and die--I cannot submit. If my birth and my education brought me
into perpetual conflict with myself, I have solved it by returning
here, and this decision is to me irrevocable. I cannot have only half
my heart here as well as there; I have made my choice, and if it costs
me happiness and life, be it so, I will die by it."

There was such unyielding resolution in the words that Gerald did not
even attempt a reply. He gazed silently at the young girl, who stood
before him so pale and gloomy; then his eyes wandered slowly around the
squalid room, with its smoking fire and smoke-blackened walls, and a
vague presentiment stole over him that this external and internal
conflict could end only with life.

"So I am to part from you as a foe, for I still remain one in your
eyes," he said at last. "Danira, have you really no other word of
farewell for me?"

An expression of passionate grief flashed into the girl's face for one
moment, but she quickly repressed the gentler emotion, and the next
moment her features revealed nothing but iron harshness and cold

"I fear, Herr von Steinach, that I have already detained you too long
from your 'duty.' I must remind you of it, apparently. You have
doubtless come to occupy the village with your men. We have no arms
against superior numbers; the house is open!"

Gerald stepped back. The sharp admonition showed him that any attempt
at conciliation would be vain, and he, too, could be proud to

"You are mistaken, Fräulein," he replied. "I do not come on military
duty. I am in search of a wounded comrade here in the hamlet, whom I
expected to find in this house. At any rate, I beg you to give me news
of him."

"A wounded officer? There is some misunderstanding. No Austrian is

"But our troops occupied the village this morning. We have positive
news of that."

"Yes, but in less than an hour they left it and marched on."

"And the wounded man?"

"They left no one behind, and had no wounded with them. See for
yourself; there are none of your men in the village."

At this moment the door opened and George appeared, but, mindful of the
rebuff just received, he paused on the threshold, saying:

"Herr Lieutenant, I only wanted to report that this business looks
worse and worse. There is not a sentinel, not a comrade to be seen in
the whole accursed den. Our rascally guide has made off, and here in
this house"--he darted an extremely hostile glance at Danira--"here the
witchcraft is doubtless in full swing. Don't send me away again, Herr
Lieutenant; it is better for us two to keep together if trouble comes."

Danira suddenly started, and a look of mortal terror rested on Gerald
as she repeated:

"Us two? For Heaven's sake! Herr von Steinach, you are here at the head
of your men, or at least you have a sufficient escort?"

"No; I am alone with George, as you see."

The girl turned deadly pale.

"And you venture thus into a hostile place? At night? This is more than

"I expected to find our men here, and the message was so positive, so

"Who brought it? Were you the only person summoned? Where is the guide?
Did you notice nothing suspicious on the way?"

The questions succeeded each other in such breathless, anxious haste
that Gerald at last began to understand the gravity of the situation.
His hand involuntarily grasped the hilt of his sword more firmly as he

"The summons was to me only, and I should have obeyed it alone had not
George insisted upon accompanying me. We were not attacked on the way.
Nothing occurred to rouse our suspicions except the mysterious
disappearance of our guide, but he brought me trustworthy credentials,
my comrade's portfolio and notes."

"That proves nothing. They may have been stolen, taken from a dead
body. The whole story is a falsehood, a device to lure you here."

"But who can have any interest in bringing me----" Gerald began, but
Danira passionately interrupted:--

"Do you ask that question? Marco Obrevic has sworn vengeance upon you!
He will keep his vow--you are lost!"

The young officer turned pale. The words suddenly revealed the terrible
danger impending. But George, with a sort of agreeable horror,

"Didn't I say so? Now we're in the trap."

Gerald needed but an instant to regain his composure. He drew himself
up to his full height, and the red flush of anger crimsoned his face.

"A shameful plot! Well, then, we must defend ourselves to the last
breath. We will sell our lives dearly, George. The assassins won't find
it so easy to destroy us."

"I'll take care of a few of them!" cried George, in whom wrath had now
gained the upper hand. "Just let the murderous rabble come! My
lieutenant and I will fight the whole band."

"No, no; here any resistance would be vain," replied Danira. "If Marco
comes he will come with ten times your number, and fighting would be
impossible. You would be dragged down, overpowered, and then the

She did not finish the sentence, but paused with a shudder, which the
two men, who knew how the war was conducted on the part of the natives,
could easily interpret.

"No matter, we will fight," said Gerald, resolutely. "Let us get out of
doors, George. There will be more chance there, and perhaps we may be
able to force our way back."

He turned toward the door, but Danira barred his way.

"Impossible! You will go to certain death. Marco does nothing by
halves. He already knows that you have obeyed the summons, and has
barricaded your way in every direction. There is but one path of
escape, at least for the moment."

She hurried through the room, hastily and softly opened the door of the
dark ante-chamber where her sister-in-law slept, and listened a few
moments to the deep, regular breathing of the young wife, who had not
been roused by the strangers' arrival. The whistling and howling of the
_bora_ had completely drowned the conversation.

Danira softly closed the door, and returned to Gerald's side.

"Will you follow me and trust me--trust me absolutely?"

Gerald's eyes met those of the young girl who, but a few minutes
before, had confronted him with such rigid, unyielding sternness, yet
had seemed completely transformed from the instant that danger
threatened him. He saw the entreaty in the large dark eyes, and in the
midst of hostility and mortal peril the glance fell like a ray of
sunshine on the young man's soul. He knew now for whom she was anxious.

"I will follow you, though it should be to death!" he said, extending
his hand.

"Herr Lieutenant!" cried George, fairly frantic with fear, for he was
firmly convinced that this blind confidence would lead Gerald straight
to destruction.

"Be silent and obey," Gerald ordered. "Yet I will not force you to
follow. Stay behind, if you choose."

"I'll go with you," said the brave fellow, whose love for his officer
was even greater than his superstition. "Where you are, I'll be also,
and if you can't help it and must go straight into the witches'
caldron--why, go, in God's name, and I'll go too."

Gerald loosed his sword in its sheath and examined his pistols; then
they left the house and the young officer unconsciously drew a long,
deep breath as they emerged from the small, close room, with its
smoking fire and stifling atmosphere. Outside, storm, darkness and
mortal peril surrounded his every step, but for the first time he felt
Danira's hand in his, and climbed by her side to the edge of the


For nearly half an hour the little group pressed forward in a direction
exactly opposite to the one by which Gerald had come to the village.
Danira led the way and the others followed, but scarcely a word was
exchanged, for all three had great difficulty in breasting the storm,
which grew more violent every moment.

Yet this tempest was not like those that raged in the mountains of
their native Tyrol, with hurrying clouds, mists, and showers of rain
that wrapped the earth in their veil, where the forests shuddered and
trembled, and the uproar of the elements seemed to transform all nature
into chaos. Here no cloud dimmed the clear azure of the sky, in which
the stars were shining brightly, and the moonlight rested clear and
radiant on the rocky heights, stretching into infinite distance, rugged
and cleft into a thousand rifts that intersected them in every
direction; but the white moonbeams and the deep black shadows of the
chasms everywhere revealed the same desolation.

Here no forest rustled, no reed quivered in the wind. The hurricane
roared over the earth as if the spirits of destruction had been let
loose and were now sweeping on in search of their prey, but its might
was baffled by the cold, lifeless stone that could neither be stirred
nor shaken.

There was something uncanny and terrible in this rigid repose amidst
the fierce raging of the tempest, it seemed as though all nature was
spell-bound in a death-slumber which nothing could break. Wildly as the
_bora_ raved, the earth made no response, it remained under the icy

Again the trio pressed on through hurricane and moonlight, still
farther into the wilderness. It seemed to the men as though they must
long since have lost their way and there was no escape from this desert
where one ridge rose beyond another in perpetual, horrible monotony,
but Danira walked on undisturbed without once hesitating. At last she
stopped and turned.

"We have reached our goal," she said, pointing down into the depths
below. "There is the Vila spring."

Gerald paused to take breath, and his eyes wandered in the direction
indicated. The ground suddenly sloped sheer down and he saw at his feet
a chasm, close by a huge, projecting rock. It was a strange formation
of stone, towering upward in broad massive outlines, curiously jagged
at the top, the peak inclined so far forward that it looked as if it
must break off and fall. Beyond this gateway the ravine appeared to
widen, for they saw the moonlight glitter on some rippling water.

"Must we go down there?" George asked his lieutenant, doubtfully, in a
low tone. "The rock hangs over like one of our bunches of ripe grapes
at home. I believe it will drop on our heads as soon as we come near
it. Everything in Krivoscia is spiteful, even the stones."

"The rock will not fall," replied Danira, who had heard the words, "it
has hung so for centuries, and no storm has ever shaken it. Follow us."

She had already descended and Gerald followed without hesitation. They
both passed the rock gateway and George could not help joining them. He
cast one more suspicious glance upward; for he had become accustomed to
regard everything in this country as a personal foe, but the rocky
peak, by way of exception, showed no disposition to molest him, and
remained quietly in its threatening attitude.

The distance was not very great. In a few minutes both reached the
bottom of the cliffs and stood in a ravine which widened rapidly above,
but was accessible only through the rock gateway. Here too flowed the
water they had seen above, one of the little streams which often burst
suddenly out of the rocky soil of the Karst and in a short time as
suddenly vanish again. Even here the water preserved its beneficent
power, for fresh grass was growing around it, thin and scanty, it is
true, but a sign of life amid this petrified nature, and there was life
also in the clear waves which, with a low ripple and murmur, made a
channel down the ravine.

Danira, with a sigh of relief, leaned against the cliff. The exhaustion
of the rapid walk or excitement had made the girl tremble from head to
foot, and she really seemed to need the support.

"We have reached the spot," she said, softly. "Here you are safe."

Gerald, who meantime had scanned the surroundings, shook his head

"The safety will last only until our place of refuge is discovered, and
that will soon be done. Obrevic knows every defile as well as you, as
soon as he has searched the village he will follow on our track without

"Certainly. But he will halt before that rock gateway, he will not
enter the precincts of the Vila spring, for then he would be obliged to
give you his hand in friendship; that hand cannot be raised against you
here. Fierce and revengeful as Marco may be, even he will not dare to
break the spell of peace that rests upon this spot."

The young officer started and again cast a searching glance around the

"So that is why you brought us here? But what protects this place which
is to shield us?"

"I do not know. Legend, tradition, superstition probably wove the spell
centuries ago--enough that the charm still exists in all its ancient
power. Even in my childhood I knew of the Vila spring and its spell of
peace. Afterward, when far away, the memory sometimes came back to me
like a half-forgotten legend that belonged to the realm of fairy-land.
Since my return I have known that the tale contains a saving truth. The
spring is more sacred than the threshold of any church. Here even the
murderer, the betrayer is safe. Here, the vendetta itself, that
terrible family law of our people, must pause. No one has yet dared to
violate the charm, and if any one tried it, he would be outlawed by all
the members of the tribe."

"And you believe that this spell will guard even the foreigner, the


The answer was so firm that Gerald made no objection, though he doubted

"One mystery more in this mysterious land!" he said, slowly. "We will
wait to see how it will be solved for us. We were treacherously lured
into an ambush, and stand alone against a horde of enemies, so it will
be no cowardice to trust ourselves to such protection."

He looked around him for George, who had instantly taken the practical
side of the affair, and carefully and thoroughly searched the whole
ravine. Finding nothing suspicious, he had climbed a large boulder, and
stationed himself at a point from which he could watch at the same time
the entrance and his lieutenant, for he still dreaded some piece of
witchcraft from Danira. Unfortunately, he could not hear what was
passing between the pair. The wind was blowing too violently; but he
could at least keep them in view. So he stood at his post firm and
fearless, ready to defend himself like a man and a soldier against any
intruding foe, and at the same time come to his lieutenant's aid with
his whole stock of Christianity in case the latter should be
treacherously seized by the Evil One from behind--the brave fellow
feared neither death nor devil.

Gerald had approached Danira, who still leaned against the cliff, but
she drew back. The mute gesture was so resolute in its denial that he
dared not advance nearer. The deliverance she had bestowed only seemed
to have raised one more barrier between them. He felt this, and fixed a
reproachful glance upon her as he retired.

Danira either did not or would not see it, although the moonlight
clearly illumined the features of both. Hastily, as though to
anticipate any warmer words, she asked:

"Where are your men?"

"At the fort. We returned there after the expedition of the morning,
and the troops to whom we brought assistance with us."

"And nothing is known of your danger?

"On the contrary, I am supposed to be in perfect safety. The shameful
plot was so cleverly devised. A dying comrade, who wished to place a
last commission in my hands, his portfolio as a credential. The village
we all thought still occupied by our men named. Obrevic was cautious
enough, though it would have been more manly to have sought me in open
battle, I certainly did not shun him. He preferred to act like an
assassin, though he calls himself a warrior and a chief."

Danira's brow darkened, but she gently shook her head.

"You reckon with your ideas of honor. Here it is different, only the
act is important; no account is taken of the means. Joan Obrevic fell
by your hand, and his son must avenge him; that is the law of the race.
How, Marco does not ask; he knows but one purpose, the destruction of
his foe; and, if he cannot accomplish it in open warfare, he resorts to
stratagem. I heard the vow he made when we entered our native mountains
on the morning after his escape, and he will fulfil it, though it
should bring destruction on his own head. That is why you are safe here
only for the time. I know Marco, and while he will not dare to approach
the Vila spring, he will guard the entrance, actually besiege you here
until desperation urges you to some reckless step by which you will
fall into his hands. Your comrades must be informed at any cost."

"That is impossible! Who should, who could carry such a message?"


"What, you would----"

"I will do nothing by halves, and your rescue is but half accomplished
if no aid comes from without. But I must wait till Marco has reached
the village; he will search every hut, examine every stone in it, and
meanwhile I shall gain time to go."

"Never!" cried Gerald. "I will not permit it. You might meet Obrevic,
and I, too, know him. If he should guess--nay, even suspect, your
design, he would kill you."

"Certainly he would!" said Danira, coldly. "And he would do right."


"If Marco punished treason with death he would be in the right, and I
should not flinch from the blow. I am calling the foe to the aid of a
foe; that is treason; I know it."

"Then why do you save me at such a price?" asked the young officer,
fixing his eyes intently upon her.

"Because I must."

The words did not sound submissive but harsh. They contained a sullen
rebellion against the power which had fettered not only the girl's will
but her whole nature, and which enraged her even while she yielded to
it. She had brought the foreigner, the foe, to the sacred spring,
although she knew that such a rescue would be considered treachery and
desecration; she was ready to sacrifice everything for him, yet at the
same moment turned almost with hatred from him and his love.

The _bora_ could not penetrate the depths of the ravine, but it raged
all the more fiercely on the upper heights, roaring around the peaks as
if it would hurl them downward. Old legends relate that, on such
tempestuous nights, the spirits of all the murdered men whose blood has
ever reddened the earth are abroad, and it really seemed as though
spectral armies were fighting in the air and sweeping madly onward.
Sometimes it sounded as if thousands of voices, jeering, threatening,
hissing, blended in one confused medley, till at last all united with
the raving and howling into a fierce melody, a song of triumph, which
celebrated only destruction and ruin.

What else could have been its theme in this land where the people were
as rigid and pitiless as the nature that surrounded them? Here conflict
was the sole deliverance. A fierce defiance of all control, even that
of law and morals, a bloody strife, and humiliating defeat. So it had
been from the beginning, so it was now, and if the legendary ghosts
were really sweeping by on the wings of the blast, they were still
fighting, even in death.

Yet amid this world of battle, the Vila spring cast its spell of peace.
Whence it came, who had uttered it, no one knew. The origin was lost in
the dim shadows of the past, but the pledge was kept with the
inviolable fidelity with which all uncultured races cling to their
traditions. Perhaps it was an instinct of the people that had formerly
erected this barrier against their own arbitrary will and fierceness,
and guarded at least one spot of peace--be that as it may, the place
was guarded, and the rude sons of the mountains bowed reverently to the
enchanted precinct, whose spell no hostile deed had ever violated.

The moon was now high in the heavens, and her light poured full into
the ravine.

The bluish, spectral radiance streamed upon the dark cliffs and wove a
silvery veil upon the clear waters of the spring, which flowed on
untroubled by all the raging of the tempest. Above were storm and
strife, and here below, under the shelter of the towering rocks, naught
save a faint murmuring and rippling that seemed to whisper a warning to
give up conflict and make peace beside the spring of peace.

"You must!" said Gerald, repeating Danira's last words. "And I too
must. I too have struggled and striven against a power that fettered my
will, but I no longer hate that power as you do. Why should we keep
this useless barrier of hostility between us; we both know that it will
not stand; we have tried it long enough. I heard the cry that escaped
your lips when I so unexpectedly crossed the threshold of your house.
It was my own name, and the tone was very different from that hard,
stern, 'I must.'"

Danira made no reply; she had turned away, yet could not escape his
voice, his eyes. The low, half choked utterance forced a way to her
heart; in vain she pressed both hands upon it. That voice found
admittance, and she heard it amid all the raging of the storm.

"From the day I entered your mountain home one image stood before my
soul, one thought filled it--to see you again, Danira! I knew we must
meet some day. Why did you leave me that message? You would not take my
contempt with you, though you defied the opinion of every one else. The
words haunted me day and night! I could not forget them, they decided
my destiny."

"It was a message of farewell," the young girl murmured in a half
stifled tone. "I never expected to see you again, and I gave it to your
promised wife."

"Edith is no longer betrothed to me," said the young officer, in a
hollow tone.

Danira started in sudden, terror-stricken surprise.

"No longer betrothed to you? For heaven's sake, what has happened? You
have severed the tie."

"No, Edith did it, and for the first time I realize how entirely she
was in the right. Those laughing, untroubled, childish eyes gazed deep
into my heart; they guessed what at that time I myself did not, or
would not know. True, her father left me the option of returning if I
could conquer the 'dream.' I could not, and now--by all that is sacred
to me--I no longer wish to do so. What is the reality, the happiness of
a whole life, compared with the dream of this moment, for which,
perhaps, I must sacrifice existence? But I no longer complain of the
stratagem that lured me here; it gave me this meeting, a meeting not
too dearly purchased by the mortal peril that now surrounds me, nay, by
death itself."

It was really Gerald von Steinach whose lips uttered these words,
Gerald von Steinach, the cool, circumspect man with the icy eyes, who
could not love.

They now flowed in a fiery stream from his lips and kindled a
responsive flame in Danira's soul. Her strength could no longer hold
out against this language of passion, and when Gerald approached her a
second time, she did not shrink from him, though the hand he clasped
trembled in his.

"Perhaps I may bring you death!" she said softly, but with deep sorrow.
"It is my destiny to cause misfortune everywhere. Had I left Cattaro
even a few weeks earlier, we should never have seen each other and you
would have been happy by Edith's side. I know she merely entrenched
herself behind caprices and obstinacy; her heart belongs to the man who
was destined to be her husband. It is the first true, deep feeling of
her life, the awakening from the dream of childhood. She is now
experiencing her first bitter grief--through me. And yet she is the
only creature I have ever loved."

She tried to withdraw her hand, but in vain. He would not release it,
and only bent toward her, so close that his breath fanned her cheek.

"The only creature? Danira, shall not even this hour bring us truth?
Who knows how short may be the span of life allotted to me? I do not
believe Obrevic's fierceness and thirst for vengeance will be stayed by
this spot, and am prepared to fall a victim to his fury. But I must
once more hear my name from your lips as you uttered it just now. You
must not refuse that request. If, even now, in the presence of death,
they sternly withhold the confession of love, be it so, I will not ask
it--but you must call me what my mother calls me--you must say this
once: 'Gerald.'"

His voice trembled with passionate entreaty. It seemed vain, for Danira
remained silent and motionless a few seconds longer. At last she slowly
turned her face to his, and gazing deep into his eyes, said:


It was only one word, yet it contained all--the confession so ardently
desired, the most absolute devotion, the cry of happiness, and with an
exclamation of rapturous joy Gerald clasped the woman he loved to his

The storm raged above them, and mortal peril waved dark wings over
their heads; but amid the tempest and the shadow of death a happiness
was unfolded which swallowed up every memory of the past, every thought
of the future. Gerald and Danira no longer heeded life or death, and
had a bloody end confronted them at that moment they would have faced
it with radiant joy in their hearts.

"I thank you!" said Gerald, fervently, but without releasing the girl
from his embrace. "Now, come what may, I am prepared."

The words recalled Danira to the reality of their situation; she

"You are right, we must meet what is coming; I must go."

"Go! At the moment we have found each other? And am I to let you face a
peril I cannot share?"

Danira gently but firmly released herself from his arms.

"You are in danger, Gerald, not I, for I know every path of my
'mountain home,' and shall avoid Marco, who has now had time to reach
the village. Have no fear, your safety is at stake, I will be cautious.
Yet, before I go, promise me not to leave the Vila spring; let no
stratagem, no threat lure you away. Here alone can you and your
companion find safety and deliverance, one step beyond that rock
gateway and you will be lost."

The young officer gazed anxiously and irresolutely at the speaker.
True, he told himself that she would be safe; even if she met his
pursuers no one would suspect whence she came or where she was going,
and a pretext was easily found. If she remained with him she must share
his fate and perhaps be the first victim of her tribe's revenge, yet it
was unspeakably difficult for him to part from the happiness he had
scarcely won.

"I will not leave the spring," he answered. "Do you think I want to die
now? I never so loved life as at this moment when my Danira is its
prize, and I am ready to fight for it--I shall be fighting for my
happiness and future."

His glance again sought hers, which no longer shunned it, but the large
dark eyes rested on his features with a strange expression--a look at
once gentle, yet gloomy and fraught with pain; it had not a ray of the
happiness so brightly evident in his words.

"The price[1] of your life!" she repeated. "Yes, Gerald, I will be that
with my whole heart, and now--farewell!"

"Farewell! God grant that you may reach the fort safely; once there my
comrades will know how to protect my preserver from the vengeance of
her people."

He spoke unsuspiciously and tenderly, but he must have unwittingly
stirred those dark depths in the girl's nature, which were mysterious
even to him. Danira started as though an insult had been hurled in her
face; the old fierceness seemed about to break forth again, but it was
only a moment ere the emotion was suppressed.

"I need their protection as little as I fear the vengeance directed
against myself alone! Farewell, Gerald; once more--farewell!"

The young officer again clasped her in his arms. He did not hear the
pain of parting in the words, only the deep, devoted love, still so new
to him from Danira. But she scarcely allowed him a moment for his
leave-taking, but tore herself away, as if she feared to prolong it.

He saw her bend over the spring, while her lips moved as though she
were commending her lover to its protection. Then she hastily climbed
the cliff, and vanished through the dark rock gateway.

At the top of the height Danira paused. Only one moment's rest after
this mute, torturing conflict! She alone knew what this parting meant.
Gerald did not suspect that it was an eternal farewell, or he never
would have permitted her to quit his side.

In spite of all, he did not know Danira Hersovac. She had, it is true,
become a stranger to her people, out of harmony with all their customs
and opinions, while her own thoughts and feelings were in the camp of
the foe from whom she had once so defiantly fled, but the mighty,
viewless tie of blood still asserted its power, and called what she was
in the act of doing by the terrible name, treason.

She was going to summon the foreign troops to Gerald's aid, and if
Marco held out--and hold out he would--blood would be shed for the sake
of one who should not, must not die, though his rescue should cost the
highest price.

From the moment Danira knew that this rescue was solely in her hands
she no longer had a choice. Save him she must! It was a necessity to
which she helplessly bowed, but to live on with the memory of what had
happened and be happy by her lover's side--the thought did not enter
the girl's mind.

The dead chief's daughter might commit the treason, but she could also
expiate it. When Gerald was once rescued and in safety, she would go
back to her brother and Marco, the head of the tribe, and confess what
she had done. The traitress would meet death, she knew--so much the
better. Then the perpetual discord between her birth and her education
would be forever ended.

She cast one more glance into the ravine, where the water of the Vila
spring was shimmering in the moonlight. Mysteriously born of the rocky
soil, it appeared but once, gazed but once at the light to vanish again
in subterranean chasms, yet its short course was a blessing to every
one who approached it. Here, too, it had bestowed a brief, momentary
happiness, which had only glittered once and must now end in separation
and death; yet it outweighed a whole existence.

The invisible hosts were still contending in the air, their jeering,
threatening voices still blended in the fierce chant of destruction and
ruin. Danira was familiar with the legends of her home, and understood
the menace of the tempest. She raised her head haughtily as if in

"Vain! I will not let myself be stopped! If I commit the treason, I
have pronounced my own doom, and Marco will pitilessly execute it. God
himself would need to descend from heaven to secure my pardon. You
shall be saved, Gerald; I will be what I promised--the price of your

She hurried onward through the storm-swept, moonlit waste of rocks--to
the rescue.


The two men were now alone in the ravine, but the young officer's gaze
still rested on the spot where Danira had vanished. He did not notice
that George had climbed down from his bowlder and approached him, until
the worthy fellow made his presence known by a heavy sigh which
attracted his attention, and he asked:

"What ails you?"

George made the regulation military salute.

"Herr Lieutenant, I wanted to respectfully report--I couldn't hear
anything up there, but I saw the whole affair."

"Indeed? Well, that alters nothing, though I did not particularly
desire your presence. To be sure, I had entirely forgotten you."

"I believe so!" said George, sighing a second time, and even more
piteously. "You had forgotten everything. If all Krivoscia had come up
and made an end of us I don't think you would have even noticed it. But
I at least kept watch and prayed constantly for the salvation of your
soul, but it did no good."

"That was very kind of you!" replied Gerald, who was completely
possessed by the arrogance of happiness which raised him far above all
anxiety or thought of peril. "I certainly had no time for that, since,
as you saw, I was pledging my troth."

"Herr Gerald!" In his despair George forgot respect and used the old
familiar name. "Herr Gerald--by all the saints--this is awful!"

"To betroth one's self in the presence of mortal danger? It is
certainly unusual, but the time and place cannot always be chosen."

This had not been George's meaning. He thought the fact terrible in
itself, and with a face better suited to funereal condolence than
congratulation he said:

"I've long known it! I said day before yesterday to Father Leonhard:
'Take heed, your reverence, some misfortune will happen! And if it does
all Tyrol will be turned topsy-turvy and Castle Steinach to boot----'"

"Let them! then."

"'And the blow will kill his mother,'" George continued, pursuing the
current of his mournful prophecies.

"My mother!" said Gerald, who had suddenly grown grave. "Yes, I shall
have a hard struggle with her. No matter! The battle must be fought.
Not a word more, George!" he cried, interrupting the young soldier, who
was about to speak. "You know I submit to many liberties of speech from
you where the matter concerns only myself, but there my indulgence
ends. From this moment you must respect in Danira Hersovac my future
wife: remember it and govern yourself accordingly."

"Perhaps we shall both be killed first!" said George, in a tone which
seemed to imply that it would afford him special consolation. "I don't
believe this bewitched spring is a protection against murder, and if
the enemy doesn't finish us, the confounded rock hanging in the air
yonder will. It moved when the _bora_ just blew so madly. I saw it
distinctly. It actually nodded to me, as if it wanted to say: 'Just
wait, I'll drop down on your heads!'"

He pointed upward and Gerald's eyes followed the direction indicated.
The white moonbeams flooded the dark stone without being able to lend
it any light. Gloomy and threatening, like a gigantic shadow, the rock
overhung the entrance of the ravine, and the shimmering moon-rays
produced such an illusion that it seemed to the young officer as though
the summit had actually sunk lower and the opening had grown smaller,
but he shook his head in denial.

"Nonsense! Surely you heard that the rock had leaned so for centuries.
It has endured far different storms from this one; even the fiercest
_bora_ can do nothing against this unyielding stone. At any rate this
is our best position for defense. Our backs are protected, and we can
watch the approach of the enemy--hark! What was that? Did you hear

The two men listened intently George too had started, for he also had
heard a strange noise, but the wind drowned it entirely. A long time
passed, then the _bora_ lulled a few minutes, and now they distinctly
heard, at no very great distance, the sound of footsteps and voices,
which, judging by the echo, belonged to a large body of men.

"There they are!" said Gerald, who, in the presence of danger, had
completely regained his coolness; his voice scarcely betrayed a trace
of excitement. "Come here by my side, George! We'll keep together so
long as we can hold out. They shall at least see that they have to deal
with men who will not let themselves be slaughtered without

George accepted the invitation and stationed himself by his
lieutenant's side, but could not help in this critical moment uttering
a last hurried prayer to his patron saint.

"Saint George! I've never bothered you much with petitions, and always
helped myself wherever it was possible, but there's no chance here. You
know I haven't been a bad fellow, except for my love of brawling and
fighting, but you liked it too, Saint George! You always struck about
with your sword and hewed down the dragon, so that it could only
writhe. So help us fight, or rather fight with us, for we can never
conquer alone. And if you will not do that, at least grant us a blessed
end, and take the poor little pagan, Jovica, under your protection, so
that she can be baptized and meet us some day in heaven--Amen!"

Jovica! That was the last thought of the young Tyrolese, even later
than his soul's salvation; he wanted at least to have the satisfaction
of seeing her again in heaven.

"Are you ready?" asked Gerald, who had not lost sight of the entrance a
moment, though he heard the murmuring of his companion. George drew
himself up resolutely.

"Ready, Herr Lieutenant! The praying is finished, now it's time for the
fighting, and I don't think I shall disgrace my patron saint."

The men stood side by side, grasping their weapons firmly in their
hands ready for an attack, which, it is true, merely afforded them the
hope of an honorable death, for if it once came to fighting they were
lost, but minute after minute passed, and the assault was not made.

The entrance to the ravine was open and unguarded, and the pursuers had
now reached it.

Their voices, raised in loud, angry tones, were distinctly heard in the
pauses of the storm, but no one appeared, no one crossed the threshold
of the rock gateway; an invisible barrier kept them back.

An anxious quarter of an hour, which seemed endless, passed in this
perplexing quiet. Sometimes, single figures, standing in dark, sharp
relief against the starry sky, appeared high up on the edge of the
ravine, evidently trying to obtain a view of the bottom. Their weapons
glittered in the moonlight, but not a shot was fired. At last they
vanished again, while the confused roar of the tempest grew still
louder and fiercer than before.

"Strange! They really do not dare to approach the spring!" said Gerald
in a low tone. "Danira is right, the tradition will be respected, even
against the enemy--I would not have believed it."

"This is getting tiresome, Herr Lieutenant," replied George. "Here
we've been standing for more than half an hour, perfectly resigned to
our fate and ready to be murdered--of course, after we've killed half a
dozen of the enemy--and now nothing happens! This is evidently
witchcraft. These people fear neither death nor devil, and yet are
afraid of water."

"Then we will remain under the protection of this water. You heard the
caution; not a step beyond that rock! Whatever they try, whatever
happens, we will not quit the spring until help comes--if it comes at

The last words sounded gloomy and despairing, the young officer was
thinking of all the possibilities that might detain Danira on her way
to the fort, but George said confidently:

"Our comrades won't leave us in the lurch, nor Saint George either. He
will have some consideration and help an honest Tyrolese against this
band of murderers. It would have been a pity about us both, Herr
Lieutenant. I'm in no hurry to die yet. I think there will be plenty of
time for that, fifty years hence, and it would be too bad to have the
Moosbach Farm go to strangers."

With these words George leaned comfortably against the cliff, and began
to imagine the fifty years and picture Jovica's delight when he entered
the fort alive and well. He finally came to the conclusion that an
earthly meeting of this sort would be preferable to a union in heaven,
especially as, owing to his foundling's paganism, the latter was
somewhat doubtful.

Hour after hour elapsed; the night began to wane, the stars shone less
brightly, then one by one vanished, and the cold, gray dawn, rested on
the earth. The _bora_, too, had almost ceased. It only blew
occasionally in violent gusts that raged with redoubled power, but the
pauses between constantly lengthened, the storm was evidently nearly

Outside the ravine containing the Vila spring was the band of pursuers
who, with dogged, tireless endurance, had waited there for hours.
Danira knew her race and especially Marco Obrevic. She was well aware
that he would not leave the track of his foe, though he would not dare
to approach the spring. In fact he had not yet ventured to do so, but
now his unruly nature seemed to triumph over the barrier that
restrained it.

A dispute had evidently broken out among the men; their voices rose in
loud altercation, Marco's loudest of all. He was standing in the midst
of his companions, towering in height above them all, but his bearing
was menacing and defiant, as if he were in the act of carrying out his
will by force.

Stephan Hersovac was vainly trying to restore peace.

"Let him go; he only threatens; he will not do it," he called to the

"You will not violate the spring, Marco; the two men in the ravine
cannot escape us, but we must wait till--"

"Wait!" interrupted Marco, whose voice betrayed the fury that seethed
in his heart. "Haven't we waited here since midnight? Hell may have
revealed the secret to them--they know it, they must know it! No wile,
no threat will induce them to come forth; they will not quit the
spring. Shall we camp here, perhaps for days, till hunger drives them
out or until they are missed at the fort and troops come to rescue
them. What then?"

"Then the Vila spring will have protected them, and we must submit,"
said one of the men, an old mountaineer with iron-gray hair, but a form
still vigorous and unbent.

"Never!" cried Marco, furiously "Rather will I strike him down on this
spot, though it should cause my own destruction. For months I have
sought him and he has ever escaped me. At last I have him in my grasp,
and I will not withdraw my hand till it is red with his blood. I have
sworn it, and I will keep my oath. No spell protects the man who killed
my father and your chief."

"The Vila spring protects all!" said the same old man with marked
emphasis. "Back, Marco! Madman! You will bring misfortune on yourself
and on us all, if you break the peace."

"Do you suppose I am not man enough to fight those two men alone?"
sneered Obrevic. "Stay behind! I'll take the consequences upon myself.
Make way, Stephan, I am going into the ravine."

A threatening murmur rose on all sides against the young chief. The men
had followed with eager, passionate approval when he set out to crush
his foe. The foreign officer had slain the head of the tribe, they were
all summoned to avenge the fallen man--first of all, his son. That was
a thing imperative, inevitable, which according to their ideas of
justice must be done. Each man was ready to aid, and no one scrupled
because the victim had been treacherously lured into a trap and was now
assailed by greatly superior numbers.

Danira had told the truth; here only the deed was important; how it was
accomplished no one cared.

But now the point in question was the violation of an old and sacred
tradition, which no one had yet ventured to assail, and superstition,
which among uncultured races is even more powerful than religion, stood
with threatening aspect between Gerald and his pursuers. The Vila
spring was mysteriously associated with all the legends of the country
to which it belonged; to violate it was to bring misfortune upon land
and people. Only a nature like that of Marco, who knew no law save his
own will, could have attempted to rebel against it, and when he did so
his comrades seemed on the verge of preventing him by force.
Surrounding him they barred his way to the ravine. Weapons flashed and
it seemed as though the conflict might end in bloodshed, when Stephan
Hersovac again interposed.

"Let us have peace," he said, placing himself by his friend's side.
"Shall our own blood flow for the sake of an enemy, a stranger? Keep
back, Marco, you don't know what you are doing," and, lowering his
voice so that no one save Obrevic could hear, he added:

"You want to lead us to the attack again to-morrow. Not a man will
follow you if you shed blood in this place, you will be outlawed and
all will turn from you."

He had taken the right way to restrain the fierce Obrevic. The latter
uttered a suppressed exclamation of fury and clenched his teeth, but he
made no further effort to break through the circle that surrounded him.
He knew only too well that his disheartened, diminished band followed
him reluctantly to the combat in which he meant to deal the enemy one
last, desperate blow; that the men saw safety only in surrender. The
power of his personal influence still induced them to obey him, but
this power would be ended if he actually entered the magic circle with
uplifted weapon.

Just at this moment a single figure, apparently a boy, came toward them
from the village. It was the shepherd lad who had been sent to carry
Gerald the false message, who had served as guide, and then hurried to
Marco with the tidings. He ran at full speed to the men, whom he at
last reached, panting and breathless.

"Beware, Marco Obrevic!" he gasped, "the soldiers are coming--twice
your number--they are searching for him, the foreign officer--and you!"

All started at the unexpected news, but Marco vehemently exclaimed:

"You lie! They cannot have heard yet; they think the village is
occupied by their own men. Are they there?"

"No, they passed by without stopping, without asking a question. They
are marching to the Vila spring, I heard the name."

"This is treason. How do they know he is there? They ought to think he
is in the village. Who was it took the message to them?"

"Never mind that now," interrupted Stephan. "You hear that there are
twice our number. We cannot fight here, it would be certain
destruction. Let us go while we have time."

"And let him down yonder be free again? I'll first settle with him and
know who is the traitor. Speak, knave, was it you? Did you allow
yourself to be bribed and bring the foe upon us? Answer, or you die!"

He had seized the messenger with a rude grasp and was shaking him as if
he wished to verify his threat; the boy fell upon his knees.

"I only did what you ordered, nothing more. I waited till I saw the
strangers enter Stephan Hersovac's house. There was no one in it except
his wife and Danira."

"Danira!" repeated Marco, in a hollow, thoughtful tone. "She had
disappeared when we came--where can she be?"

"Marco, decide!" urged Stephan, impatiently. "The troops are in the
village; they may be here in half an hour. Let us go."

Obrevic did not hear. He was standing motionless with his eyes bent on
the ground, as if brooding over some monstrous thought. The instinct of
jealousy guided him into the right track, and suddenly, like a flash of
lightning, an idea pierced the gloom--he guessed the truth.

"Now I know, I know the traitor!" he cried in terrible excitement.
"Danira--that's why she trembled and turned pale when I vowed vendetta
against this Gerald von Steinach. She wants to save him, even at the
cost of treason, but she shall not succeed. He shall fall first by my
hand, and then she who is leading the foe upon us. No departure! No
retreat! We will stay and await the enemy."

It was a mad design to enter with his little band upon a conflict with
a force double its number, and no prospect existed except certain
defeat. All the men felt this, and therefore refused to obey.
Impatiently and angrily they clamored for departure, the cry rose on
all sides, but in vain.

Since Obrevic had recognized in Gerald his rival, he no longer asked
whether he was delivering himself and all his companions to
destruction; his hate, inflamed to madness, knew but one thought:

"Do you not dare hold out?" he shouted. "Cowards! I have long known
what was in your minds. If it leads to defeat, to surrender, I shall
stay. Out of my path, Stephan! Out of my path, I say--do not prevent
me, or you shall be the first to fall!"

He swung his sabre threateningly. Stephan drew back. He knew the blind
rage that no longer distinguished between friend and foe, and the
others, too, knew their leader. No one made any farther opposition,
only the old gray-haired mountaineer with the flashing eyes called
after him in warning tones:

"Marco Obrevic, beware. The Vila spring allows no vengeance and no

Marco laughed scornfully.

"Let it prevent me then! If God above should descend from heaven
Himself, He will not stay me; I will keep my vow."

They were almost the same words Danira had uttered in this very spot a
few hours before. But what was then a cry of mortal anguish now became
a fierce, scornful challenge.

Marco raised his head toward the brightening morning sky as though to
hurl the defiance into its face, and with uplifted weapon entered the
rocky gateway, the precinct protected by the spell.

Just at that moment the _bora_ again blew one last violent blast,
raging over the earth as if all the spirits of evil were abroad. The
men had flung themselves on the ground to escape the force of the gale,
and the boy did the same.

Then the earth beneath them trembled and shook, while above echoed a
sound like thunder. There was a crashing, rumbling, deafening noise as
though the whole ravine was falling into ruins--then a deep, horrible

Stephan was the first to rise, but his dark face grew ashy pale as he
looked around him. The huge gateway created by Nature herself for the
ravine, had vanished, and in its place a heap of broken rocks and
bowlders barred the entrance. The peak which for centuries had hung
down threateningly, had fallen, The Vila spring had guarded its

The others also rose, but no one uttered a word. Silent and
awe-stricken, they gazed at the mass of ruins and the body of their
chief who had been killed by the falling rock. Marco Obrevic lay buried
under it. Only a portion of his face was visible, but it was the face
of a corpse.

The fierce sons of the mountains were familiar with all the horrors of
battle. They looked death in the face daily and hourly, but in the
presence of this sign they trembled and the fearful answer their
leader's scoff had received was spoken to them also. All crowded around
Stephan Hersovac, the younger and now the only chief of the tribe, and
a low, eager consultation took place. But it did not last long, and
seemed to end in the most perfect unanimity of opinion. After a few
minutes Stephan separated from his companions and approached the edge
of the ravine from a different direction.

Here he shouted a few Slavonic words. Gerald, who thoroughly understood
the language, answered in the same tongue. Then the leader gave the
signal for departure, and the little band marched silently and gloomily
away. They could not take Marco's body with them. It would have
required hours to remove the mass of rock that covered the corpse.

Through the pale, gray light of morning appeared the party sent to
secure Gerald and George, accompanied by Father Leonhard, who had
joined the expedition when he learned its object, and had bravely
endured the toilsome march through the night and tempest.

It had gradually grown light, so that everything could be distinctly
seen, and the troops perceived Stephan and his men vanish in the

"I hope we have not come too late," said the officer in command. "There
is the enemy. If only they have not done their bloody work."

"God forbid!" exclaimed the priest. "We have reached the spot, but I
don't see the rock gateway Danira described, there is nothing but a
heap of stones. Can we have made a mistake?"

"We shall know immediately. Forward! Let us search the ravine. We must
find them, alive or dead."

The men marched rapidly on, but before it was possible to obtain a
glimpse of the ravine, the names of the missing comrades were shouted.

"Herr von Steinach--Gerald!" rang at the same instant from the lips of
officer and priest, while Bartel, who was also present and had
completely forgotten the affectionate admonition of his friend and
countryman, called in a most piteous tone:

"George! George Moosbach!"

"Here's George!" replied the voice of the incorrigible Tyrolese, who
had just emerged from the ravine. "And here's my lieutenant, too, safe
and sound. How are you, comrades? I knew it! I knew you wouldn't leave
us in the lurch! And Father Leonhard too! Good-morning, your

He climbed on top of the cliff and Gerald appeared behind him. Both
received an eager, joyous greeting, and then followed a perfect
cross-fire of questions, explanations and reports, but while Gerald was
giving his comrade and Father Leonhard a minute description of what had
occurred, George seized his countryman by the sleeve and asked
excitedly: "Bartel, you've come from the fort--how is Jovica?"

Father Leonhard also had a similar question to answer. Gerald took the
first opportunity to draw him aside and inquire anxiously:

"Where is Danira? Has she returned to the fort?"

"No; after pointing out the way so that we could not miss it, she went
back to the village. She did not wish to witness the probable conflict.
Gerald, it seems to me that the young girl has a dangerous resolve. Not
a word could be won from her about it, but I fear she means to tell her
countrymen what she has done, and then she is lost!"

"Not now!" said the young officer, with suppressed emotion. "The war is
over, we shall conclude peace. Stephan Hersovac as he marched away
called to me that he would come to the fort to-morrow with some of his
followers to conduct negotiations. I think he has long desired to do
so, but Obrevic's influence deterred him.

"Thank God! Then he will not avenge on his sister the step he will
himself take to-morrow; she could not be induced to remain under our

"I think she will now confide herself to mine," said Gerald, with a
joyous light sparkling in his eyes. "She must learn this very hour that
no blood has flowed here save that of the unhappy man who lies lifeless
yonder, and that was shed by no human hand; it was a judgment of God
Himself, whom he defied. Your reverence, you have come too late to give
the dead chief the last consolations of the church. He died
unreconciled to himself and to his God."

They turned toward the pile of shattered rocks, around which the others
had already gathered, but all made way for Father Leonhard.

The priest slowly advanced and gazed down a few seconds at the rigid,
blood-stained face, then raising the cross he wore in his girdle and
holding it above the dead man he said, with deep solemnity:

"Vengeance is mine! I will repay, saith the Lord."


The insurrection was over, the last desperate resistance made by Marco
Obrevic at the head of his tribe ceased with his death. Stephan
Hersovac was not a man to uphold a lost cause to his own destruction;
he lacked both the obstinacy and the energy of his predecessor. He had
really appeared at the fort and accepted the conditions offered; so the
revolt, so far as this mountain province was concerned, was ended.

True, weeks and months elapsed before the troops returned home, and
Gerald's regiment was one of the last to leave. It remained some time
in Cattaro before the embarkation, but fate spared the young officer an
unpleasant meeting. Colonel Arlow and his daughter were no longer in
the city.

During the whole rebellion the commandant had displayed so much
discretion and energy in his difficult and responsible position that
due recognition of his services was not delayed. He was recalled from
his post to receive a fitting promotion, and assigned to the command of
a garrison in one of the Austrian capitals.

It had long been his desire to exchange the distant Dalmatian fortress
for garrison duty at home, and it was doubtless owing to this fact that
the transfer was made so speedily.

The new commandant arrived much earlier than he was expected, and
directly after his predecessor quitted the city and was already in his
home when Gerald's regiment entered Cattaro.

The young officer had passed through a season of severe trial, months
of conflict with all the obstacles that warred against his love. He had
been compelled, in the fullest sense of the word, to fight, but he knew
how to assert the claim that hour of mortal peril had given him.

He had seen Danira again when the troops from the Vila ravine returned
to the village to take a short rest after their hurried march, and here
a final struggle occurred to induce the young girl to keep silence. She
was firmly resolved to tell her countrymen what she had done and who
had brought the relief.

Although peace and reconciliation were close at hand, she would not
have been sure of her life a single hour after such a confession, but
the terrible event which ended Marco's life uttered its decisive word
here also, and bowed the girl's stubborn will. And it was her lover who
pleaded, who with all the influence of his devotion persuaded her that
here, where no blood had flowed by her fault, no atonement was
required. Obstacles and barriers of every kind barred the possibility
of a union--the tie still existing in name between Gerald and his
former _fiancée_, the probable opposition from his mother, the conflict
with Stephan, who certainly would not quietly permit his sister to wed
a foreigner; but none of these things could shake the young officer's
courage and confidence since he had Danira's promise to be his, though
he left her with a heavy heart in her brother's house, which for the
present was her only refuge.

In the fierce altercation, when, at the approach of the troops, all
crowded around their reluctant chief to urge retreat, and every one
shouted and screamed at the same moment, Marco's last words, in which
he uttered his suspicion of Danira, had either been unheard or not
fully understood--except by Stephan, and the latter preferred to keep
silence. He did not wish to know what he no longer possessed the right
to punish, since he had himself gone to the enemy and submitted to his

Marco Obrevic, with iron consistency, would have sacrificed his love,
his wife, at such a discovery. Stephan was differently constituted. He
did not wish to see his sister die by the hands of his countrymen, and
he knew that she was lost if even a suspicion arose against her. He
therefore pretended to believe what was told him and his companions at
the fort--to protect Danira from any act of vengeance--that the troops,
without any suspicion of Gerald's fate, had set out for the purpose of
seeking the enemy whom they believed to be in that direction, and were
greatly surprised when, on the way, they found their officer.

This explanation satisfied the mountaineers, who were not in the habit
of pondering over anything irrevocable. The apparent accident seemed to
them only a confirmation of the judgment which had overtaken their
leader because he had ventured to defy the ancient, time-hallowed
tradition of his people. No suspicion was aroused against Danira. Not
until the hour of parting did Stephan learn from her lips what to him
was no secret.

George Moosbach, whose time of service would expire in a few weeks, was
very proud of returning home decked with a medal for bravery as one of
the conquerors of Krivoscia, but he was much out of humor and greatly
offended because Father Leonhard would not permit him to practice his
paternal duties to the degree he thought necessary.

The meeting at the fort when Jovica, with enthusiastic joy, flew to
greet her protector, and George could find no end to his words of
welcome, had made the priest very uneasy, and he afterward restricted
their intercourse as far as possible. Besides, he was seriously
embarrassed to decide how to dispose of the young girl. Jovica had
neither home nor relatives, and though it was Father Leonhard's
intention to make her a Christian, his official duties gave him little
time to act the part of teacher.

The girl had not learned much German and was just beginning to
understand the precepts of Christianity when the order arrived for the
regiment to march to Cattaro, and thus the question what was to become
of the "little Pagan" had to be seriously considered. George wanted to
take her to the Moosbach Farm and formally present her to his parents
as his adopted child, but Father Leonhard, who knew the characters of
the farmer and his wife better, opposed this plan, until at last Gerald
made a suggestion which was adopted by both parties.

He proposed that Jovica, who had proved very capable and obliging,
should accompany Danira, with whom she had the tie of a common country
and language, as a sort of maid, and remain under her protection until
her future was finally decided. True, George was only half satisfied
with this arrangement, which in his opinion did not give sufficient
importance to his paternal rights, but as it afforded him the
opportunity to see his _protégée_ daily he submitted.

The hour of embarkation had come, and the steamer which conveyed the
officers and a small detachment of the men steered out into the bay.

On the guards of the vessel, a little apart from his comrades, stood
Gerald, and by his side Danira, who, since the day before, had borne
his name. Father Leonhard had privately married them on the day
previous to their departure.

The young wife wore a simple travelling dress, yet there was a peculiar
charm in her appearance which it had lacked even when the picturesque
costume of her country had lent her beauty so effective a setting. The
gloomy, defiant expression that had formerly marred this loveliness had
passed away. In the bright sunshine that flooded the deck the youthful
figure no longer stood like a dark shadow; the radiance rested on her
face also, a reflection of the happiness that so vividly illumined her
husband's features.

The shore already began to recede, and the steamer was just passing the
commandant's house, from whose windows Danira had watched the approach
of the vessel which brought, with Gerald, her fate and future.

The window, from which Edith's light figure had leaned while her
laughing, happy eyes sought her lover, was now closed. The memory of
the price her happiness had cost suddenly overwhelmed the young wife,
and she turned away to hide her tears. Gerald noticed it.

"It is hard for you to leave your home, I know!" he said, bending
toward her. But she shook her head.

"It is only hard because I must go thus, without one farewell, without
a parting word from my brother. Peace is now restored, and as chief of
a tribe he often comes to Cattaro; but on my wedding day he did not
appear, I was obliged to go to the altar without my only living

"Did you expect anything different after the manner in which Stephan
received my suit? He seemed to consider it almost an insult, and made
it hard enough for me to win you; I was forced to fairly wrest you from
him. You do not imagine how painful it has been for me to know that you
were surrounded by those who were daily and hourly striving to tear you
from me, while I was still absent in the field."

"Was not the same attempt made to influence you? And you suffered more
keenly under it than I, for in your case the opposition came from the
person who was dearest to you on earth. Our marriage also lacks your
mother's blessing."

"Not by any fault of mine!" replied Gerald. "I tried every possible
means of obtaining her consent. For months, in my letters to her, I
have entreated, pleaded, raged--all in vain. Her sole answer was the
stern 'no,' the obstinate prohibition, till I was at last forced to
remember that I am no longer a child, but a man who knows what he
desires in life, and will not suffer his happiness to be destroyed by
prejudices. You are right, we have purchased this happiness dearly; it
will cost us both home and the love of our nearest relatives--do you
think the price too high for what we have obtained?"

There was passionate tenderness in the question, and his young wife's
look gave him a fitting answer.

After a pause she said gently:

"Then you will not enter your home again, will not even try to
personally induce your mother--"

"No," Gerald resolutely interrupted. "She refuses to see you, so I
shall not go to her. I know what I owe my wife; either Castle Steinach
will receive you as its future mistress, or it will never see me within
its walls. I know the hostile influence acting against us; my mother
may be stern and proud, but this boundless harshness to her only son is
no part of her character; it is Arlow's work! You know that after our
betrothal, I wrote to him frankly and unreservedly, but with the
respect of a son; he vouchsafed no reply, but instantly wrote to my
mother, representing the affair to her from his point of view. She
received the first news from him before my letter reached her hands,
and how the tidings were conveyed I perceived from her reply. Since his
return home he has constantly fanned the flames, and at last made an
open breach."

"I can endure his hatred," said Danira, whose eyes were still fixed
upon the house. "I have unintentionally thwarted his favorite wish, and
he always cherished an aversion towards me, but to have Edith turn from
me in persistent resentment was at first more than I could bear. She
knows from my letter how and where we met, knows that mortal peril
first brought me to your arms. I concealed nothing, and, with all the
ardent love of the friend, the sister, implored her forgiveness if I
had caused her pain--she has not sent even one line in answer."

"Her father would not have allowed it, his command----"

"Edith never lets herself be denied anything. She is accustomed to obey
the voice of her heart, and is all-powerful with her father. Had she
wished to write me she would have done so, in spite of any opposing
influence; but she cannot pardon me for robbing her of your love--I
understand that."

Gerald was silent; he would not own how heavily this unforgiving
resentment on the part of his mother and Edith weighed upon him. It
cast a dark shadow on the happiness of the newly-wedded pair.

Meantime the conversation between the officers had grown louder and
more animated, and Lieutenant Salten now said:

"Gerald has been the wisest of us all. He is taking away an enviable
souvenir of the campaign, and will make a sensation in the garrison
with his beautiful trophy of the war. When people learn the romance
associated with it----"

"You were somewhat involved in the romance too," interrupted another of
the group laughing. "Your stolen portfolio, at any rate, played an
important part in the affair."

"Yes, that confounded boy who made himself so officious and was sent
off on suspicions of being a spy, robbed me of it and instantly carried
it to his master. Of course they could do nothing with the notes and
letters, but the portfolio itself served as a means of luring Gerald
into the trap. Had the plot succeeded we should have had one brave
comrade the less, and--ah, there comes the young couple! See how lovely
Frau von Steinach looks in the full glare of the sunlight! I stick to
it, Gerald is bringing home the best prize of the whole campaign."

The other officers seemed to be of the same opinion, for when Gerald
now approached with his wife, they vied with each other in attentions
to the latter, and the young pair instantly became the centre of the
circle, from which they could not escape for some time.

Meanwhile George came out of the cabin with Jovica, whom he had
succeeded in finding, and took her to a part of the deck at some little
distance from his companions, who made no attempt to interrupt them,
for it was well known that George was very sensitive about his
_protégée_, and really would not hesitate to fight half the company if
he were irritated. But just now he looked as dignified as though he was
Father Leonhard himself, and his tone was equally grave as he began:

"Look at your home once more, Jovica, you are seeing it for the last
time! True, this Krivoscia is a God-forsaken country, and we thank all
the saints that we are safe out of it again, but it is your native
land, and that must be respected."

Jovica glanced toward the mountains because her companion was pointing
to them, but she understood very little of his speech, and the parting
from her home did not appear to trouble her much, for she looked
extremely happy, though she knew the ship was bearing her to a distant

"Now we are going to Tyrol," George continued. "To the beautiful land
of the Tyrol, a very different place from your mountain wildernesses.
There are forests, rivers, vineyards and castles, and there's not
another place in the whole world equal to the Moosbach Farm. Some day
it will belong to me. Do you understand, Jovica? I'm no poor vagabond
like Bartel, who, when he takes off his uniform, must enter somebody's
service. I'm the only son and heir of farmer Moosbach, and in our
country that means something."

Jovica listened attentively, but her knowledge of German was not yet
sufficiently comprehensive for her to understand these boasted
advantages. George saw that she did not perceive his meaning and tried
to enlarge her ideas by seizing both her hands and drawing her toward
him, when Father Leonhard suddenly emerged from the cabin and stood
directly behind the pair.

"What are you doing on this deck among the men, Jovica?" he asked, with
unwonted sternness. "Your place is over yonder with Frau von Steinach."

"Why, I was with her, your reverence, and none of the others would dare
come near her!" replied George, instantly taking up his _protégée's_
cause. "I wouldn't advise them to try it. If any one does, he'll go
heels over head into the water the very next minute."

Father Leonhard's face showed that he was not particularly edified by
this protection, but he merely turned to Jovica and repeated:

"Go to Frau von Steinach!" When she had retired he approached his
parishioner, who wore a very belligerent expression.

"What does this mean, George? I have forbidden you, once for all, to
take such familiarities with the young girl, but you don't seem to heed
my command. I am very much displeased with yon."

"Well, your reverence, I'm not pleased either!" said George, defiantly.
"I found Jovica and adopted her as a child, but no one respects my
paternal rights. If I even look at the girl your reverence appears and
gives me a lecture, and then the lieutenant comes and unceremoniously
takes her away as his wife's maid. I'm not consulted at all. I have
nothing whatever to say about the matter--I won't bear it any longer."

"I have already explained to you several times that you are far too
young to fill such a position. Things can't go on in this way."

"You are perfectly right, there, your reverence!" assented the young
Tyrolese, so emphatically that the priest looked at him in surprise. "I
have longed seen that, and was just going to speak to you about it. The
place of a father doesn't suit me, I find no pleasure in it, so I'll
begin the business from the other end. In short, I will marry Jovica."

Father Leonhard did not look much astonished by this declaration which
he had long dreaded, but a frown darkened his brow and his voice
sounded very grave:

"You will do nothing of the sort! The girl is scarcely beyond
childhood, and--not at all--why, you can't even understand each other

"No, we don't understand each other, but we're tremendously in love
with each other," said George, earnestly, "so the best thing we can do
is to get married."

"And your parents! Have you thought what they will say to such a

"Yes, my parents! Of course they'll make a row that can be heard all
over Tyrol, so I'll follow Herr Gerald's example and get married on the
way. We shall stay a week in Trieste, your reverence, you can unite us
there. Of course you must first baptize my future wife, for she can't
remain a pagan, and then many her directly after. So, when I get home
the whole affair will be settled, and let my parents and the Moosbach
Farm be as much upset as they please, I shall have Jovica!"

The plan flowed so glibly from the lips of the young Tyrolese that it
was evident he had pondered over it a long time, but unluckily Father
Leonhard did not seem inclined to adopt this admirable suggestion, for
he answered sternly:

"Put this nonsense out of your head; it can't be thought of under any

"I'm only following my lieutenant's example," George persisted. "Heaven
and earth were moved to prevent his marriage; his mother and Colonel
Arlow, the brother-in-law and the whole people of Krivoscia cried out
against it. He didn't mind it in the least, but had his own way, and I
mean to do the same."

"But Herr von Steinach's case is entirely different. He has been of age
several years, and besides, before taking the decisive step, he made
every effort in his power to obtain his mother's consent. It was hard
enough for me to bless a marriage which lacked the mother's
benediction, and I finally yielded only to the force of circumstances.
Stephan Hersovac's opposition to the marriage rendered it impossible
for his sister to remain longer in his house, and it was equally
impossible for her to accompany her lover as his affianced wife. So I
performed the wedding ceremony in the hope that I should yet succeed in
reconciling the mother. But you cannot yet marry without your parents'
consent and you know as well as I do that you will never obtain it.
They will simply believe that you are out of your senses."

"Yes, I once thought so myself," replied George with the utmost
composure, "but people change their minds. I told you, your reverence,
that the whole race up yonder practice witchcraft, especially the
women. Dani--the young baroness, I mean--tried it on my lieutenant, and
Jovica has used hers on me; I'm just as far gone as he is. But this
witchcraft isn't at all disagreeable and does not imperil the salvation
of the soul, if a priest gives it his blessing as I saw yesterday in

"But I repeat that the case is totally different. Gerald's wife belongs
to a foreign people, it is true, but she is descended from one of the
most distinguished families of the race, and the education she received
in the commandant's house, with her own personal qualities, fit her for
the position in life she will henceforth occupy. Jovica is the child of
poor shepherds, she is not even a Christian, understands neither our
language nor customs, and perhaps will never learn to accommodate
herself to them. You must see yourself that such a girl can never make
a suitable mistress of the Moosbach Farm."

"I see nothing at all except that I must have Jovica. Nothing else will
do, and I'll get her too, so I have no anxiety on that score."

"And suppose your parents disinherit the disobedient son? Gerald von
Steinach, under any circumstances, is the heir of his father's
property, and has already taken possession of it, but farmer Moosbach
can deprive you of the farm at any time, and from what I know of him he
will do so if you persist in your own way. What then?"

"Then I'll let the farm go to the deuce!" George obstinately declared.
"Jovica is worth more to me than all the Moosbach property. The
lieutenant will not object to keeping me with him, I know, and his wife
will have a countrywoman in mine. I'm in earnest, your reverence. I'll
give up my inheritance if it costs me Jovica."

Father Leonhard saw that he was in earnest, and knew the young fellow's
obstinacy sufficiently well to dread a serious family quarrel. For the
present, however, the conversation was interrupted by an officer, who
approached the priest and requested him to accompany him to the forward

Father Leonhard consented, after saying gravely to George: "We will
discuss this matter further," but the latter leaned defiantly against
the side of the cabin, folded his arms, and gazed around the decks to
discover Jovica.

The young Slav was with Danira, who, after some time, sent her down to
the cabin again on some errand. She obediently avoided the stern of the
ship and sorrowfully descended the stairs, but had scarcely entered the
saloon, which for the moment chanced to be empty, when there was a
clattering noise on the steps and George himself stood in the doorway.

Jovica's whole face brightened, but she glanced anxiously toward the
stairs, and said timidly:

"Father Leonhard!"

"He's up on deck," replied George. "Yet even if he should come, no
matter: I've just told him how we both feel, but I happened to think
that I haven't spoken of it to you, Jovica. You must be asked, so I
want to marry you! Will you have me?"

The abrupt, laconic proposal met with an unexpected obstacle. Jovica
had no idea what the strange word meant. She repeated it with a foreign
accent, but in a tone that plainly showed she associated no meaning
with it.

"Oh, yes, she doesn't understand," said George, somewhat perplexed,
realizing for the first time his future wife's education. "Well, then,
she must learn. Come here, Jovica, and listen to me. Yesterday we went
to church and saw the lieutenant and his bride married. We will go to
church, too, and Father Leonhard will marry us in the same way. Do you
understand that?"

He tried to speak distinctly, and occasionally introduced a Slavonic
word, which had some success, for the young girl nodded eagerly and
answered in broken German:

"I know--baptize--become a Christian."

"Yes, and then directly after--marry!" said George, emphasizing the
word energetically, as if he hoped in this way to make her understand
its meaning, but Jovica's knowledge of the language had not yet
extended to the idea of marriage, and she only repeated inquiringly:

"Become a Christian?"

"That's only a minor affair, the main thing is the marriage!" cried the
impatient suitor, whose piety deserted him on this point. "Girl, for
heaven's sake, you must understand! why, it's what you were born for!
Marry--have a wedding--get married!"

But no matter how vehemently and almost angrily he emphasized the
words, it was all in vain, the young girl looked helplessly at him, and
was apparently on the verge of tears.

"She really doesn't understand," said George, in sheer despair. "I must
make it plainer to her," and as though an inspiration had suddenly come
he embraced his _protégée_, pressing a hearty kiss on her lips.

Strangely enough his meaning now seemed to dawn on Jovica. True, she
started at the kiss, but instead of making the slightest resistance she
nestled closer to the young soldier, gazing at him with sparkling eyes,
while in a low, but infinitely sweet tone, she repeated the word George
had taught her with so much difficulty.

"Thank Heaven, she has understood it at last; I ought to have tried
that first!" he said, with great satisfaction, and while repeating
several times the new method of instruction which had succeeded so
admirably, added, by way of explanation:

"That's the way people do when they marry, and before, too. The only
difference is that before a priest interferes and forbids, and
afterwards he has nothing to forbid, but gives it his blessing. Now
come to the lieutenant and his wife. They must be the first to
know that we have settled the matter and are going to be married.
Jovica--say the word once more! It sounds so pretty when you bring it
out so clumsily."

And Jovica, whose faculty of comprehension had wonderfully increased,
uttered the newly-learned word to the entire satisfaction of her tutor
and future husband.

Meantime the steamer had continued her course, and was now approaching
the outlet of the bay. Gerald and Danira looked back at the slowly
disappearing scene.

The waves rippled and flashed in the sunlight. Far away on the shore
lay Cattaro with its white houses and towering citadel, and directly
above it towered the dark mountains, their rugged, riven peaks bathed
in the full radiance of morning. The ship now passed through the
straits at the end of the harbor. The gloomy, threatening cliffs rose
on either side as if to bar the way. Then the blue, heaving sea opened
before them, as it had looked from the rocky height on that memorable
day--a mist-veiled, sun-illumined waste of waters.


The voyage had been a swift and pleasant one, and after a short stay in
Trieste the train conveyed the regiment to its native mountains and
former garrison, the capital of southern Tyrol.

The city was all astir, for every one had hurried to welcome the
returning soldiers who had endured so many a hard fight on the farthest
frontier of the empire, and now, after dangers and privations of every
kind, were coming home in peace.

At the railway station and immediately around it a joyous throng waited
for the train; the country people especially had flocked there in
crowds. There was scarcely a peasant family in the neighborhood that
did not have son, brother or some other relative in the Imperial
Chasseurs to whom they now wished to give the first welcome home.

At last the thunder of cannon far and near among the mountains
announced the approach of the train, which, amid loud cheers and waving
banners, ran into the station. The cars were opened and the whole
regiment poured out upon the platform, to which only the magistrates
and a few of the most distinguished citizens had been admitted.

After the first flood of official and friendly greetings was over,
Gerald von Steinach, who had his young wife leaning on his arm,
attempted to make his way through the throng, he too had seen many a
familiar face, pressed many a hand, and received numerous
congratulations, for through his comrades' letters his marriage was
already known in the garrison; but they were only the greetings of

The arms which at his departure had clasped him with such anxious love
were not outstretched to him on his return; no mother waited to welcome
him home, and yet his whole heart was devoted to his mother and
hitherto he had been her all.

In this hour of universal joyous meeting the young officer felt, with
infinite grief, what he had lost. The parental home, which now opened
to every one, was closed to him and his young wife, and perhaps would
remain so forever. Much as he strove to conceal his depression he could
not entirely banish the cloud that rested on his brow, and Danira
guessed what he was missing; she best knew what his choice of a wife
had cost him. She instantly assented when he proposed withdrawing from
the crowd as soon as possible and driving to his lodgings in the city,
where the young couple intended to remain until the arrangements for
the future home had been made.

Behind them walked Jovica, who had travelled in the same compartment,
and George, who, though obliged to ride with his comrades, had shot
through the crowd like a rocket as soon as he arrived, to take the
place he considered his rightful property.

The young Slav now wore the Tyrolese peasant costume, which had been
obtained for her on the way, and in which she looked extremely pretty.
Her shining black hair was carefully arranged in braids, and her large
black eyes gazed curiously and joyously at the throng. But her
appearance was still extremely childish and entirely foreign; one could
see at the first glance that she belonged to a different race.

George walked with great importance by her side. He had not entrusted
his love affair to his lieutenant in vain, the latter's advocacy proved
very effective. Gerald and Danira had warmly espoused his cause, and,
during the journey, even won over Father Leonhard.

The priest, it is true, had no objection to Jovica personally; he had
himself become fond of his gentle, modest, docile pupil; but he still
shook his head doubtfully at the idea of seeing the "little pagan" the
mistress of the Moosbach Farm, and declared it to be impossible to
obtain the consent of George's parents, though he had promised his

For the present the priest's attention was claimed by some
ecclesiastical brothers who had also been present at the reception of
the regiment in the station.

Gerald had just escaped from the throng, and was walking with Danira
toward the door, when both stopped as though rooted to the floor at the
sight of the young lady who was waiting there to meet them. The dainty,
graceful figure in the elegant travelling dress, the fair hair whose
curls escaped from beneath the little hat, the sparkling blue eyes--the
whole vision was so familiar and so dear. Gerald dropped the arm of his
wife, who stood pale and speechless. He intended to face the painful
meeting alone, but the young girl had already rushed to Danira and
flung both arms round her neck.

"Danira, you naughty runaway! So I am to find you again in the Tyrol."

"Edith, how came you here?" cried the young wife, in half-joyous,
half-startled tones. "Is it an accident?"

"Oh! no. I came especially to receive you. I wanted to bring you the
first greeting," replied Edith. She hesitated a few seconds, then
hastily turned and held out her hand to her former lover. "How do you
do, Gerald? Welcome home with your wife!"

Gerald bowed silently over the little hand that lay in his. He did not
feel its slight quiver when his lips pressed it. He only saw Edith's
blooming face, her smile, and a deep sigh of relief escaped him. Thank
God! Here at least he had caused no suffering as he had feared; here at
least forgiveness was proffered.

"Did you really come on our account?" cried Danira, with eager joy.
"Oh, you do not suspect what this welcome from your lips is to me--to
us both."

The young lady drew back a step, with a comic assumption of formality.

"Don't be so impetuous, madame! I have another important mission to
discharge, and must maintain my dignity as official ambassador. Castle
Steinach sends a greeting to its young master and mistress, and is
ready to receive them. They will find open hearts and arms there. Here
is a letter from your mother, Gerald; only a few lines, in which she
calls her son and daughter to her."

"Edith--this is impossible--is it your work?" cried Gerald, still
doubting as he took the note which bore his mother's handwriting.

"My first essay in diplomacy! I think it hasn't resulted so badly, and
it wasn't very easy either; for both aunt and papa were united against
me. But now you must let me have Danira to myself for half an hour,
Gerald. We must part again immediately, and I want to have her alone at
least once more."

"Part! Why, surely you will go with us?"

"No, I shall take the next express train and join my father in G. But
your mother expects you at Steinach this very day, and you ought not to
keep her waiting; great preparations have been made for your

Meanwhile Gerald had hastily torn open and glanced through the letter,
which he now handed to his wife. It really contained only a few lines,
but they confirmed Edith's words. It was the greeting of a mother
calling her children to her.

"How do you do, Fräulein? I'm here again, too!" said George, taking
advantage of the momentary pause to introduce himself, and he saw with
satisfaction that he was not forgotten.

The old mischievous smile hovered round the young lady's lips as she
turned toward him.

"George Moosbach! Have you got safe back from Krivoscia? After all it
isn't quite so bad as you represented it, for I see you wear the medal
for courage. Listen, George, you make a great impression upon me as a
returning conqueror! What of the offer with which you once honored me?
I am now free again, and should not be wholly disinclined to become the
mistress of the Moosbach Farm."

"I thank you very kindly," stammered George, intensely confused. "I'm
very sorry, but--I'm already engaged."

With these words he pulled Jovica forward and presented her; but Edith
now burst into a merry laugh.

"Another Krivoscian? For Heaven's sake, did all the Imperial Chasseurs
get betrothed and married there? There will be a rebellion among the
Tyrolese girls. I think you are very inconsistent, George. You
protested that day, by everything you held dear, that you would marry
nobody but a Tyrolese, and made the sign of the cross as if you saw
Satan himself when I suggested the daughters of that country, whom you
preferred to dub 'savages.'"

"Fräulein," replied George, solemnly, "there is nothing, not even in
this world, so bad that it has not one good thing. The only good thing
Krivoscia had was Jovica--and that I brought away with me."

"Well, I wish you and your Jovica every possible happiness. But now
come, Danira, that we may have at least half an hour's chat. Gerald
must give you up for that time. Come, we shall not be interrupted in
the waiting-room to-day."

She drew Danira away, while Gerald, who saw Father Leonhard coming
hastily went to him to tell him his unexpected and joyful news.

The little waiting-room was, in truth, perfectly empty; every one was
pressing toward the door of the station.

The two young ladies sat close together. Edith had put her arm around
her adopted sister in the old familiar way, and was laughing and
chatting continuously; but Danira could not be so easily deceived in
this respect as Gerald.

She herself loved, and knew that a love which had once taken root in
the heart cannot be so speedily forgotten. She said little, but her
eyes rested steadily on Edith's features.

The pretty face still seemed unchanged in bloom and brightness, but it
was only seeming. Around the little mouth was an expression all its
smiles were powerless to banish; an expression that told of secret
sorrow; and any one gazing deep into the blue eyes could see the shadow
in them. The vivacious gaiety still remained, but it was no longer the
mirth of a glad careless child who had known no grief. In the midst of
all the jesting there sometimes echoed a tone which sounded as if the
speaker were striving to repress tears.

At such a moment Danira suddenly clasped both the young girl's hands
and said softly:

"Cease jesting, Edith. I have caused you pain. I could not help doing
so; but, believe me, I have myself suffered most. I felt so deeply
wounded when you sent me no answer.

"Are you angry about it? I could not----"

"No, you could not answer then--I ought to have understood."

A burning blush suddenly crimsoned Edith's face, and she tried to avoid
the gaze whose secret scrutiny she felt.

"At first papa would not allow it," she said hastily. "He wanted to
forbid my writing to you at all and I yielded; but before we left
Cattaro I was firmly resolved to bring you the answer in this form.
True, my courage fell when we accepted Baroness von Steinach's pressing
invitation to spend a few days with her, for matters looked very badly
at the castle. Gerald was under a ban, and you, too. No one was
permitted to mention your names, and papa fanned the fire. So long as
he remained I could do nothing, but I managed to have him go to his
garrison alone and leave me behind."

"And then you interceded for us?"

"Fairly intrigued, according to the very best rules of diplomacy. I was
myself amazed at the talent I suddenly developed. The baroness tried to
console me for my lost lover, but I turned the tables by energetically
taking her to task for her hard-heartedness. I tried to put the affair
in the right light by making her consider that you are really a
Krivoscian princess."

"Oh, Edith!"

"Well, isn't it true? Your father was chief of his tribe, your brother
is its head now. Chief, prince, king--it all comes to the same thing in
the end. I made this clear to the baroness, and would have traced your
lineage back to Mahomet--oh dear, no, that wouldn't do, you are a
Christian--or to Saint George himself. I told her so much about your
father's heroic deeds that she became filled with reverence, and then I
gave her your letter to me and made her admire your own courage and
Gerald's rescue at the Vila spring. That shook the fortress, and when I
stormed it with an appeal to her maternal love and Gerald's letters
were produced again, it yielded. You see I am not a degenerate daughter
of my father; my first campaign ended with victory along the whole

The young wife sat silently with down-cast eyes. She felt the
generosity of this conduct and at the same time realized how greatly
she had formerly undervalued Edith.

"And I must not even thank you!" she said with passionate fervor. "You
want to escape our gratitude and leave us this very hour. Must it be?"

"I must go to papa, who expects me. Don't prevent me, Danira, I--cannot

She tried to smile again, but this time she did not succeed, her lips
only quivered and she was obliged to turn away to force back the rising
tears. Then she felt Danira's arms clasp her, and her lips pressed to

"Edith, don't try to deceive me like the others. I know what your brave
championship of our happiness has cost you, and how you have suffered.
You may surely confess it to me."

Edith did not contradict her. She only hid her face on Danira's
shoulder, but how the tears streamed from her eyes!

"It was nothing," she sobbed. "A child's foolish dream--nothing more.
Don't tell Gerald I have been crying--promise to say nothing to him--he
ought not, must not know."

"Be calm, he shall learn nothing. It is enough for me to endure the
grief of having robbed you of your happiness."

"No!" Edith's tears suddenly ceased as she started up. "No, Danira, I
should not have been happy with him. I felt from the first moment that
he did not love me, and knew it the instant he flamed into such
passionate defence of you. He never had that look and tone for me; you
first taught them to him. Is it not true that he can love ardently and
make his wife infinitely happy?"

"Yes," replied Danira, softly, but the one word told enough.

Edith turned hastily away toward the window.

"There is the signal for the train! We have only a few minutes; let us
bid each other farewell! Don't look so mournful, Danira, and don't
grieve about me. I have no intention of going into a convent or
sorrowing all my life. It must be delightful to devote yourself heart
and soul to the man of your choice, but that destiny isn't allotted to
everybody. It can't be done, as George says."

Just at that moment Gerald entered to tell them that the train was
coming. He saw a bright face and heard only gay, cordial parting words.
A few minutes after, Edith was seated in the car, nodding one more
farewell through the window; then the train rolled on again and
instantly disappeared from the gaze of those left behind.

George had quitted the station with Jovica to take her to his
lieutenant's lodgings, where she was to wait for Danira.

There was an immense throng in the great open square outside. All the
country people had flocked thither, each one trying to find his or her
relatives among the returning soldiers. Everywhere were joyous
meetings, shouts of delight, clasping of hands, and embracing, and
whoever got into the midst of the residents of his native village, who
usually went in troops, was almost stifled with tokens of friendship.

George had hitherto escaped this fate, but now a portly farmer and his
equally corpulent wife, worked their way through the throng straight
toward him, shouting his name while still a long distance off.

"By all the saints! there are my parents!" cried the young Tyrolese,
joyously. "Did you really take the long journey here? Yes, here I am,
alive and kicking, and have brought my whole head back with me! That's
saying something, when a fellow returns from Krivoscia."

The farmer and his wife instantly seized upon their son and wanted him
to walk between them, but Jovica, who, during the exchange of
greetings, had remained behind him, now suddenly appeared. She had been
frightened by the noise and crowd that surrounded her on all sides, and
when she saw that her George was to be taken away she clung to his arm,
beseeching him in the Slavonic tongue not to leave her.

The parents looked greatly surprised at the sudden appearance of the
young girl who clung so confidingly to their son. Luckily Jovica's
extremely childish figure prevented them from suspecting the real
relation between the pair.

Yet the farmer frowned, and his wife said slowly: "What does this

"This means--this is what I've brought back from my journey," replied
George, who saw a storm rising which he wished for the present to
avoid. Yet he did not release "what he had brought," but held her
firmly by the hand.

"What does this mean? How came you by the child?" cried the farmer
angrily, and his wife sharply added:

"The girl looks like a gipsy! Where did you pick her up! Out with the
whole story."

Jovica, who during the journey had greatly enlarged her knowledge of
the language, understood that the people before her were George's
parents, but she also perceived their unkind reception. Tears filled
her dark eyes, and she timidly repeated the words of greeting she had
been taught "How do you do?" But the foreign accent completely enraged
the mother.

"She can't even speak German," she cried furiously. "That's a pretty
thing! Do you mean to bring her to us at the Moosbach Farm?"

"I won't have it!" said the farmer emphatically. "We want no foreign
gipsies in the house. Let the girl go, and come with us; we're going

But George was not the man to leave his Jovica in the lurch. He only
drew her closer to his side and answered with resolute defiance:

"Where the girl stays I shall stay, and if she cannot come to the farm
I'll never return home. You must not scold me about Jovica, my dear
parents, for, to tell the truth, I have chosen her for my wife."

His parents stood as if they had been struck by a thunderbolt, staring
at their son as though they thought people might lose not only their
heads but their wits in Krivoscia. Then a storm burst forth on both
sides; it was fortunate that, in the general rejoicing, each person was
absorbed in his own friends, and everybody was shouting and talking as
loud in delight as Farmer Moosbach and his wife in their wrath, or
there would have been a great excitement.

At last George, by dint of his powerful lungs, succeeded in obtaining a

"Give me a chance to speak for once!" he cried. "You don't know Jovica
at all; she's a splendid girl, and even if she is still a pagan--"

He went no further. The thoughtless fellow had used the worst possible
expedient. His mother fairly shrieked aloud in horror at the fatal
word, and the farmer crossed himself in the face of his future

"A pagan! Heaven help us! He wants to bring a pagan into the house.
George, you are possessed by the devil!"

Jovica was trembling from head to foot. She saw only too plainly that
she was the object of this aversion and began to weep bitterly, which
destroyed the last remnant of George's patience.

"My dear parents," he shouted, with a furious gesture, as if he longed
to knock the "dear parents" down, "I've always been an obedient son,
but if you receive my future wife so, may a million--"

"George!" cried Jovica, anxiously seizing his uplifted arm with both
hands. "George!"

"Yes, indeed--with all filial respect of course," growled George,
instantly controlling himself when he heard her voice; but his parents
were not soothed, and the quarrel was just kindling anew when Father
Leonhard appeared, the crowd reverently making way for him. He
hurriedly answered the joyous greetings proffered to him on all sides,
and walked hastily up to the disputing family; for he saw that his
presence was most needed there.

"God be with you. Farmer Moosbach," he said. "You and your wife are
doubtless rejoicing to have your son back again. He has done well and
fought bravely in the campaign, as you see by the medal on his breast."

"Help us, your reverence!" said the mother piteously. "Our boy is
bewitched. He has brought home a pagan, a Turk, a witch, and wants to
marry her."

"Look at the brown-skinned creature yonder, your reverence," the farmer
chimed in with a wrathful laugh. "That's the future mistress of the
Moosbach Farm. Say yourself whether George hasn't lost his senses. That

"My pupil, to whom I taught the Christian religion, and who in a short
time will receive the holy rite of baptism," said Father Leonhard with
marked emphasis, laying his hand kindly with a protecting gesture, on
the head of the weeping girl. "You need not reproach your son so
harshly; it is principally due to him that this young soul has been won
over to Christianity."

George's mother listened intently to the last words. She was a pious
woman and perceived that, if George had such praiseworthy designs, he
certainly could not be possessed by the devil. The farmer too was
somewhat softened, and muttered:

"That's a different matter! But the girl doesn't come into my house."

"Then I'll take Jovica and go straight back with her to Krivoscia among
the savages!" cried George with desperate energy. "I'd rather keep
goats with her all my life than live at Moosbach Farm without her.
True, they'll cut off my nose up there and both ears to boot, that's
the custom among these barbarians when a new member is admitted, but no
matter--I'll bear it for Jovica's sake."

The threat made some impression, especially on the mother, who now
heard of this terrible custom for the first time. She clasped her hands
in horror and looked at her George's nose, which suited his face so
well, but the father angrily exclaimed:

"You'll do no such thing! You'll stay here in Tyrol among Christian

"Silence, George!" said Father Leonhard to the young soldier, who was
about to make a defiant answer. "Do you want at the first moment of
meeting to irritate your parents against you? Let me talk with them.
Come, Farmer Moosbach, and you, too, dame, we will discuss the matter
quietly; you have been speaking so loud that everybody is listening."

The attention of the bystanders had indeed been attracted, and George's
last words were heard by a large circle of listeners, in whose minds
they inspired positive terror. Father Leonhard now drew the parents
aside with him and thus the dispute ended, but the report ran like
wildfire from lip to lip that George Moosbach had brought home a
Turkish girl, whom he wanted to marry, and he intended to have his nose
and ears cut off directly after, because that was the custom at pagan

George did not trouble himself about all this, for Jovica was still
weeping, and he at present was trying to comfort her.

"You and no one else will be the mistress of Moosbach Farm," he
protested. "Don't cry, Jovica; you see Father Leonhard has taken the
matter in hand, so it is half accomplished. A priest can manage
everything in our country."

And the priest did not disappoint the confidence reposed in him. True,
Father Leonhard had a hard struggle with the angry parents, and it
required all their respect for his office to induce them to permit his
mediation at all, but he knew how to strike the right chord at once. He
explained to them that the object here was to save a soul for heaven,
that it was really very meritorious in George to desire to transform
the poor pagan girl whom he had found into a Christian wife, and that a
share in this blessed work was allotted to them, the parents.

This produced an effect first on the mother, who was really in mortal
terror lest her son might fall into paganism if he returned to the

Farmer Moosbach and his wife were pious Tyrolese, and the priest's
interposition in behalf of the young lovers had great weight with them.

To have their heir woo a young foreign orphan, a poor girl, seemed to
them something unprecedented, impossible. But since he desired at the
same time to convert a pagan to Christianity and save a soul for
heaven, the whole affair assumed a different shape. That would be
talked of far and wide, and surround the Moosbach Farm with an actual
halo of sanctity.

When, in conclusion, Father Leonhard spoke of Gerald's marriage
and his mother's consent--wisely maintaining silence about her
previous opposition--both his hearers became very thoughtful. If
the proud Baroness von Steinach made no objection to a Krivoscian
daughter-in-law, plain peasant-folk might surely agree to it.

After repeated and eager discussions they finally sent for their
refractory son and heir, who speedily appeared before the tribunal.

"George, you will now go home with your parents and behave like an
obedient son," said Father Leonhard, gravely. "When you have taken off
your uniform you must prove yourself to be a capable farmer. Meanwhile
Jovica will stay with young Frau von Steinach in order to learn German
and become familiar with the customs of our country. Next month I
intend to confer upon her the holy rite of baptism--your parents have
promised to act as god-father and god-mother."

"Yes, your reverence, but you must make it a very grand affair, so that
it will be talked of throughout the country," said farmer Moosbach, and
his wife added:

"And all the priests in the neighborhood must be present,"

George expressed his joy in a jump that was sadly opposed to dignity
and respect; then he eagerly kissed the priest's hand.

"Your reverence, I'll never forget this as long as I live! I said that
a priest could set everything straight. Hurrah for the young mistress
of Moosbach Farm!"

Half an hour later Gerald and his wife set out on their journey to
Castle Steinach.

Jovica sat beside the coachman. Her tears were dried, and she looked
extremely happy, for George had of course found time, before his
departure, to come to her and tell the successful result of the dispute
and the no less delightful fact that Moosbach Farm was only fifteen
minutes' walk from Castle Steinach.

The carriage drove swiftly through the sunny valley of the Adige, which
to-day seemed to have decked itself in the full radiance of its beauty
to greet the returning son and his young wife. The wide landscape was
steeped in golden sunlight, one vast vineyard, which was surrounded by
a chain of villages like a garland, stretching upward even to the
castles everywhere visible on the heights. The river, sparkling and
glittering, also rippled a welcome, mountains towered aloft, the
distant peaks veiled in blue mist, the nearer ones clothed with dark
forests, while from the highest summits the gleam of snow was seen from
the valley, to which the warm, soft south wind lent all the splendor of
a southern clime.

"Is not my native land beautiful?" asked Gerald, with sparkling eyes.
"Shall you miss your home here?"

"I shall miss nothing--with you," said the young wife, looking up at
him with a smile.

"It shall be my care to make the new home dear to you. Yet I sometimes
feel a secret dread that the old conflict may be renewed. You made me
realize so long and so painfully, my Danira, that your people were
hostile to mine."

"They have now concluded a treaty of peace, like ourselves. No, Gerald,
you need not fear. All that I had to conquer and subdue was vanquished
on that night of storm when I went from the Vila spring to the fort.
The hardest choice was placed before me, a choice far more difficult
than the decision between life and death. I chose your rescue--was not
that enough?"

"Yet, even after that rescue, you intended to sacrifice your life and
our happiness to an illusion. You would have been lost had that
confession escaped your lips--and you were going to speak."

"It was no illusion, it would have been only an atonement," said
Danira, with deep emotion. "I knew that Marco would resist any attack,
and if a battle had ensued, if the blood of my people had been shed by
you--I had summoned the enemy, the guilt would have been mine. That
blood would have separated us forever. I could not have lived with such
a memory. Then a higher power uttered Marco's doom and my pardon. No
battle was fought; even the fierce sons of our mountains saw in that
sign what I recognized--a judgment of God."


[Footnote 1: Preis means both prize and price, the play upon the word
cannot be given in English.--Tr.]

                                THE END.

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