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Title: Riven Bonds.  Vol. II. - A Novel, in Two Volumes
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 "Riven Bonds.  Vol. II. - A Novel, in Two Volumes" ***

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Transcriber's Note:

   1. Page scan source:

                              RIVEN BONDS.

                                A Novel,

                            IN TWO VOLUMES.

                             TRANSLATED BY
                              BERTHA NESS,

                   _FROM THE ORIGINAL OF E. WERNER_,

                 Author of "SUCCESS AND HOW HE WON IT,"
                          "UNDER A CHARM," &c.

                           *   *   *   *   *
                                VOL. II.
                           *   *   *   *   *

                           REMINGTON AND CO.,
                    5, Arundel Street, Strand, W.C.


                        [_All Rights Reserved_.]

                              RIVEN BONDS.

                               CHAPTER I.

"No!" said Captain Almbach. "That cannot be! I have to make a
confession to you, Ella, at the risk of your showing me to the door."

"What have you to confess to me?" asked the astonished Ella.

Hugo looked down.

"That I am still the 'adventurer,' whom you once took so sternly to
task. It did not improve him certainly, but he never attempted since to
approach you with his follies, and cannot to-day either. To make my
tale short, I had no idea you were the inhabitant of this villa, when I
directed my steps here. I had myself announced to a perfectly strange
gentleman, because Marchese Tortoni had spoken of a young lady, who
lived here in complete seclusion, and yes--I knew before hand, that you
would look at me in this way--"

Her glance had indeed met him sadly and reproachfully; then she turned
silently away and looked out of the window. A pause ensued--Hugo went
to her side.

"It was chance which brought me here now, Ella. I am waiting for my

"You are free, and have no duty to injure," said the young wife,
coldly. "Besides, my opinion in such matters can hardly have any
influence upon you, Herr Captain Almbach."

"And so Herr Captain Almbach must retire, to find the doors closed
against him next time, is it not so?" Unmistakable agitation was heard
in his voice. "You are very unjust towards me. That I, thinking to find
perfect strangers here, did undertake an adventure--well, that is
nothing new to me; but that I was guilty of the boundless folly of
confessing it to you, although I had the best excuse for deception,
that is very new, and I was only forced to it by your eyes, which
looked at me so big and enquiringly, that I became red as a schoolboy,
and could not go away with a lie. Therefore I hear Herr Captain Almbach
again, who, thank God, had disappeared from our conversation for the
last quarter of an hour."

Ella shook her head slightly.

"You have spoiled all my pleasure in our meeting now, certainly----"

"Did it please you? Did it really?" cried Hugo, interrupting her
eagerly, with sparkling eyes.

"Of course," said she, quietly. "One is always pleased, when far away,
to find greetings and remembrances from home."

"Yes," said Hugo, slowly. "I had quite forgotten that we are country
people also. Then you only recognised the German in me? I must confess
honestly that my feelings were not so purely patriotic when I saw you

"Notwithstanding the unavoidable disillusion which your discovery
prepared for you?" asked Ella, somewhat sharply.

Captain Almbach looked at her unabashed for a few seconds.

"You make me suffer greatly for the imprudent confession, Ella. Be it
so! I must bear it. Only one question before I go, or one petition
rather. May I come again?"

She hesitated with her reply; he came a step nearer.

"May I come again? Ella, what have I done to you that you would banish
me also from your threshold?"

There lay a reproach in the words, which did not fail to make an
impression upon her.

"I do not do so either," replied she, gently. "If you would seek me
again, our door shall not be closed to _you_."

With quick movement, Hugo caught her hand, and carried it to his lips,
but those lips rested on it unusually long, much longer than is
customary in kissing a hand, and Ella appeared to think so, as she drew
it somewhat hastily away. Equally hastily Captain Almbach drew himself
up; the slight red tint which had before lain on his forehead was there
again, and he, who was at other times never at a loss for a civility or
suitable reply, said now merely monosyllabically--

"Thank you. Until we meet again, then!"

"Until we meet again!" replied Ella, with a confusion that contrasted
strangely with the calm and decision which she had shown throughout the
whole interview. It almost seemed as if she repented the permission
just given, and which still she could not withdraw.

A few minutes later, Captain Almbach found himself in the open air, and
slowly he began his return to Mirando. He had again carried out his
will, and fulfilled the promise made so confidently that morning. But
he seemed little inclined to make much of his triumph. Looking back to
the villa, he passed his hand across his forehead, like some one
awaking from a dream.

"I believe that the elegiac atmosphere of Mirando has infected me," he
muttered, angrily. "I begin to look upon the simplest things from the
most fantastically, romantic point of view. What is there, then, in
this meeting that I cannot get over it? The Erlau drawing-rooms have
been a good school to be sure, and the pupil has learned unexpectedly,
quickly, and easily. I suspected something of that for long, and
yet--folly! What is it to me if Reinhold learn at last to repent his
blindness! And she does not even know how near he is, so near that a
meeting cannot be avoided much longer. I fear any attempt at
approaching her would cost Reinhold much dearer than that first one.
What a singularly icy expression there was in her face when I hinted at
the possibility of a reconciliation! That;" here Hugo breathed more
freely, perhaps, in unacknowledged but great satisfaction--"that said,
No! to all eternity. And if chance or fate lead them together, now, it
is too late--now _he_ has lost her."

On the mirror-like blue sea a boat glided, which, coming from S----,
bore in the direction of Mirando. The bark's elegant exterior showed
that it was the property of some rich family, and the two rowers wore
the livery of the Tortonis. Nevertheless, for the gentleman, who
besides these two was the sole occupant of the boat, neither the rapid
motion nor the magnificent panorama all around appeared to possess the
slightest interest. He leant back in his seat, with closed eyes, as if
asleep, and only looked up at last when the boat lay to at the marble
steps, which led directly down from the villa's terrace to the sea. He
stepped out. A sign dismissed the two men, who, like all the Marchese's
servants, were accustomed to pay to their master's celebrated guest,
the same respect as to himself. A few strokes of the oars carried the
boat to one side, and immediately after it was anchored in the little
harbour away by the park.

Reinhold stepped on to the steps, and ascended them slowly. He came
from S----, where Beatrice had, in the meantime, arrived. As usual, the
actress here, also, where all foreigners and inhabitants of position
assembled for their _villegiatura_, was surrounded by acquaintances and
admirers, and Reinhold no sooner found himself at her side than the
same fate, and, indeed, to a greater extent, became his. In Beatrice's
vicinity there was no rest and no relaxation for him; she dragged him
at once into the vortex with her. The hours, which he intended to spend
with her, had become days, which in excitement and distraction did not
yield the palm to the last weeks in town, and after having accompanied
her yester evening to a large fête, which had continued the whole night
until morning's dawn, he had torn himself away at day-break, and thrown
himself into the boat in order to return to Mirando.

He drew a deep breath at the quiet and loneliness around him,
undisturbed even by a word of greeting or welcome. Cesario, as he knew,
had early this morning undertaken an expedition to the neighbouring
island, in Hugo's company, from which both were only expected back
towards evening, and for strangers the villa was not yet accessible.
The young Marchese did not like to be disturbed in the seclusion of his
_villegiatura_, and his steward had received orders not to allow any
strange visitors to enter during his residence, an order which was
carried out most strictly, to the great dissatisfaction of travellers,
by whom Mirando was considered a favourite goal for excursions. The
estate, with its extensive gardens, and magnificent buildings, which in
the north would certainly have been called a castle, and here merely
bore the modest name of a villa, was celebrated far and near, not only
on account of its paradise-like situation and the boundless view over
the sea, but also because of the rich art-treasures which it concealed
inside, and which now merely charmed the eyes of the few who had the
good fortune of being permitted to call themselves the Marchese's

Short of rest, tired, and yet unable to seek repose and sleep, Reinhold
threw himself on to one of the marble benches in the shade of the
colonnade; he felt strained to the utmost exhaustion. Yes, these sultry
Italian nights, with their intoxicating perfume of flowers, and their
moonlight quiet, or the noisy clamour of a feast, these sunshiny days,
with the ever-blue sky, and the glowing splendour of the earth's
colours, they had given him everything of which he had ever dreamed in
the cold, dreary north; but they had also cost him the best part of his
life's strength. The time was long since passed when all existence
appeared to be only one course of glowing intoxication and of inspiring
dreams to the young composer. This had lasted for months, for years;
then gradually weariness came on, and at last the awaking, when this
beautiful world, sparkling with colour, lay so empty and cold before
him, where the ideals collapsed, and freedom, once so fiercely longed
for, became an endless desert, to which no duty, but also no desire set
a limit. With the fetters which he had broken so eagerly and ruthlessly
he had also lost the reins; he wandered out into the boundless, and the
boundlessness had become a curse to him.

Certainly, the internal Prometheus-like spark preserved the artist from
the fate which overtook so many others, from that helpless sinking into
a sensation of being surfeited and indifferent to everything; but the
same power which ever and ever again forced him out of it, drove him
helpless hither and thither, seeking the only thing which was wanting,
and ever would be wanting. Italy in all its beauty was not able to give
it to him, not Beatrice's glowing love, not art, which had offered him
the fullest wealth of fame--the phantom melted so soon as he stretched
out his arms towards it. And even if the wondrous flora of the south
had displayed itself to him in all its exhilarating glory, still he
would not have found the blue flower of the fairy legends.

Reinhold started up suddenly from his dreams, something had disturbed
him in them. Was it a step, a rustle?--he raised himself, and, with
extreme surprise, saw a lady standing only a few paces distant on the
terrace, gazing out over the sea. What could it mean? How did this
stranger come here, now when Mirando was not accessible to visitors;
she could only a few minutes since have passed through the open door
leading into the saloon, which contained the celebrated collection of
pictures, belonging to the villa, and appeared to have remarked the
solitary dreamer in the colonnade as little as he had remarked her.

Reinhold had long since become indifferent to woman's beauty, but
involuntarily this apparition enchained him. She stood under the shadow
of one of the gigantic vases which ornamented the terrace; only the
bowed head was caught by the full sunlight, and the heavy blonde plaits
gleamed in the rays like spun gold. Her face was half averted. Her
delicate, clear and nobly chiselled profile could hardly be seen. Her
slight figure in its airy white robes leaned lightly in an undeniably
graceful attitude against the marble balustrade; her left hand rested
on it, while the drooping right one held her straw hat decorated with
flowers. She stood immovable, quite lost in contemplation of the sea,
and had evidently no idea that she was observed.

It was still early in the day. The morning had risen bright and clear
out of the sea, and now lay smiling sunnily in dewy freshness over the
whole country. A blue mist still encircled the mountains and the
distant coasts, whose lines seemed to tremble as if blown with a breath
on the horizon, and the still moist air was quivering as if with a
silvery light. There was something fairy-like in this morning hour and
this surrounding, above all in yonder white figure with the golden
glimmering hair, and Mirando itself, with its white marble pillars and
terraces, appeared like a fairy castle, which had risen out of the
liquid depths. Deep blue was the arching sky above, and deep blue the
sea laving its feet. The scent of flowers was wafted hither from the
gardens, but ghostly silence reigned everywhere, as if all life were
banished or sunk in sleep. No sound anywhere, nothing but the gentle
splashing of the sea, ever the same dream-like murmur of the waves,
which kissed the marble steps, and before one nothing to be seen save
the blue, heaving expanse, which extended far away into boundless

Reinhold remained motionless in his position, he would not disturb the
charm of this moment by any movement. It was as if a breath of the old
legendary poems of his home were wafted to him, long forgotten but
rising now suddenly before him with all their melancholy charms.
Suddenly this deep calm was interrupted by the clear joyfulness of a
child's voice. A boy of about seven or eight rushed up the steps of the
terrace, a large shining mussel shell in his hand, which he had picked
up somewhere on the shore. The child was evidently most delighted with
his discovery, his whole little face beamed, as, with glowing cheeks
and streaming locks, he hastened towards the lady, who turned her head
round at his cry.

With a half suppressed exclamation, Reinhold sprang up and remained as
if rooted to the ground. The moment she had turned her face completely
towards him, he recognised the stranger, who bore Ella's features and
yet could not be Ella. Bewildered, deadly pale, he stared at the lady,
whose poetical appearance he had just been admiring, and who yet, in
every feature, resembled his so despised, and at last forsaken wife.
She, too, had recognised him; the intense pallor which also overspread
her face, betrayed it, as did her sudden start backwards. She grasped
the marble balustrade as if seeking for support, but now the boy had
reached her and, holding the mussel aloft with both hands, cried

"Mamma! dear mamma, see what I have found!"

This roused Reinhold from his stupor. Bewilderment, fright,
astonishment, all disappeared as he heard his child's voice. Following
the impulse of the moment, he rushed forward, and stretched out his
arms, to draw the boy eagerly to his breast.


Almbach stopped as if struck; but the name was not for him, only for
the boy, who, immediately obeying her call, hastened to his mother.
With a rapid movement she placed both arms around him, as if to protect
and conceal her child, and then drew herself up. The pallor had not
left her face yet, her lips still trembled, but her voice sounded firm
and energetic.

"You must not trouble strangers, Reinhold. Come, my child! We will

Almbach started, and stepped back a pace; the tone was as new to him as
the whole person of her, whom he once called his wife. Had he not
recognised her voice, he would have believed more than ever in a
delusion. The little one, on the contrary, looked up in surprise at the
rebuke. He had not even gone near to the strange gentleman, and
certainly had not troubled him, but he saw in his mother's
colourlessness and excitement that something unusual had occurred, and
the child's large blue eyes fixed themselves defiantly, almost
antagonistically upon the stranger, who, he guessed instinctively, was
the cause of his mother's alarm.

Ella bad already recovered herself. She turned to go, her arm still
held firmly round her boy's shoulder, but Reinhold now stepped hastily
in her way--she was obliged to stop.

"Will you be so good as to allow us to pass?" said she, coldly and
distantly. "I beg you to do so."

"What does this mean, Ella?" exclaimed Reinhold, now in passionate
excitement. "You have recognised me, as well as I have you. Why this
tone between us?"

She looked at him; in that glance lay the whole reply; icy-cold,
annihilating scorn; he had indeed never deemed it possible that Ella's
eyes could look thus, but he turned his to the ground beneath them.

"Will you be so good as to leave us the road free, Signor?" she
repeated in perfectly pure Italian, as if she imagined that he did not
understand German. There lay a positive tone of command in the words,
and Reinhold--obeyed. His self-possession quite lost, he moved aside
and let her pass. He saw how she descended the steps with the child,
how a servant below, in strange livery, who seemed to have waited,
joined them, and how all three hurried through the gardens; but he
himself still stood above on the terrace and tried to remember whether
he had been dreaming and the whole had not been merely a picture of his

The noisy locking of the door which led to the picture gallery, brought
him back to his senses. A few steps took him there, and throwing the
door open roughly he entered the saloon, where the steward of Mirando
was just engaged in letting the blinds down again, which he had drawn
up to give a better light.

"Who was the lady with the child, who was just now on the terrace?"
With this hasty question, Reinhold rushed in upon the man, who seemed
shocked when he saw his master's guest before him, having believed him
still to be in S----; he hesitated with his reply in evident confusion.

"Pardon me, Signor, I had no idea that you had returned already, and as
Eccellenza and the Signor Capitano are only expected this evening, I

"Who was the lady?" persisted Reinhold, in feverish impatience, without
paying attention to the answer. "Where did she come from?--quick, I
must know it!"

"From the villa Fiorina," said the steward half-wonderingly,
half-frightened at the questioner's eagerness. "The strange lady wished
to see Mirando, and let her servant apply for her. Eccellenza has
certainly ordered that no visitors are to be admitted during his
residence here, but this morning no one was at home, so I thought I
might make an exception;" he paused, and then added, in a tone of
entreaty, "It would be sure to cause me great trouble with Eccellenza,
if Signor Rinaldo were to tell him."

"I? no," said Reinhold, absently, "what was the lady's name?"

"Erlau, if I understood rightly."

"Erlau?--oh!" Almbach passed his hand over his forehead; "That is all,
Mariano, thank you," said he, and left the saloon.

                           *   *   *   *   *

The day had become burningly hot, nor did the evening bring coolness or
refreshment. Air and sea did not appear to be stirred by any breath,
and the sun went down in hot clouds of mist. In the villa Fiorina also
they seemed to suffer from the oppression. The inhabitants confined
themselves probably to the cooler rooms, as the jalousies had not been
opened the whole day, and the glass doors which led to the terrace
remained closed. The German family hardly occupied half of the
capacious dwelling which it had engaged entirely for itself. A
few rooms to the right of the garden saloon were arranged for the
Consul--those on the opposite side were inhabited by his adopted
daughter, with her child; the servants were located in the back
apartments, and the rest remained empty.

The evening was already far advanced when Ella entered the garden
saloon, which was illuminated by a lamp. The Consul had retired to
rest, and she came from her boy, whom, after he had fallen asleep, she
had left to his attendant's care. Perhaps it was the dim light which
made her face still appear pale; the colour had not returned to it
since the morning, even although her features seemed perfectly calm.

She opened the glass door and stepped out on to the terrace. Outside,
perfect darkness reigned already; no moon's rays pierced the clouds
which still enveloped the sky, no breath of wind from the sea moved the
blooming shrubs; sultry and heavy, the air seemed regularly to weigh
upon the earth, and the sea lay in idle repose, almost motionless. It
was alarming in this dense stillness and darkness, yet Ella appeared to
prefer this to remaining in the lighted garden saloon. She stood
leaning against the stone balustrade, as in the morning, partially
still in the pale circle of light which fell through the open door on
to the terrace, and, although indistinctly, displayed the slight form.

A few moments may have passed thus, when she was startled by a noise
near her. With a low cry, she tried to take refuge in the house, as
close by her there stood a tall, dark man's figure; at the same moment,
however, a hand was laid upon her arm, and a suppressed voice said--

"Be composed, Ella, it is neither a robber nor a thief who stands
before you, although you have forced me to choose the path of such an

The young wife had recognised Reinhold's voice at the first word, but
she only drew back nearer to the threshold of the glass door.

"What do you desire, Signor?" said she coldly, in Italian. "And what
does this intrusion at such an hour mean?"

Reinhold had followed her, but he did not again attempt to touch her
arm, or even go near her.

"Above all, I wish you to have the goodness to speak German to me,"
retorted he, with difficulty restraining his excitement. "I have not
quite forgotten our own language, as you seem to suppose. Whence do I
come? From yonder boat! The terrace, at least is not so inaccessible as
the doors of your house, which remained closed to me."

He pointed towards the sea. It was a risk to ascend the high stone
terrace from a tossing boat, but Reinhold did not seem to be in a mood
to think of the possibility of danger. He had apparently been there
already when she came out, and now continued more excitedly--

"It is probably not unknown to you that I have been here once already
this morning. But you refused me, or rather Erlau did, because as a
matter of course I was not so wanting in tact as to enquire for you. He
neither received me nor the note, which contained my petition, yet you
must both have known what brought me here, so nothing but self-help
remained. You see I have gained admittance after all."

He spoke with keenest bitterness. The proud composer felt the double
rejection which he had experienced to-day to be a deadly insult. One
could hear how he struggled with his pride, even now, for every word,
and it must have been a powerful motive which brought him here,
notwithstanding all, and by such a path! His wife had clearly no share
in it, as he stood opposite her in gloomy, unbending defiance. As a
boy, Reinhold Almbach could never bear to humble himself, not even when
he knew himself to be wrong, and during the latter years he had too
often gained the dangerous experience that any error he committed was
covered by the right of genius, which may permit itself to do almost

While these last words were being spoken, they had entered the garden
below. In the middle of it Ella stopped.

"Signor Rinaldo appears to have mistaken his way, this time," said she,
certainly in German, but in the same tone as before. "Yonder in S----,
lies the villa where Signora Biancona resides, and it can only be a
mistake which landed his boat at our terrace."

The reproach hit him; Almbach's defiant look sank, and for a few
moments he was at a loss for a reply.

"I do not seek Signora Biancona this time," replied he at last, "and
that I am not permitted to seek Eleonore Almbach, she showed me
sufficiently this morning. It was not my intention to offend you again
by sight of me; it would have been spared you, had you acceded to my
written request. I came to see my child alone."

With a rapid step the young wife reached the bedroom door, and placed
herself before it. She did not speak a word, but in the evident
internal emotion there lay such an energetic protest, that Reinhold
immediately understood her intention.

"Will you not allow me to embrace my son?" asked he, angrily.

"No," was the firm reply, given with the most positive determination.

Reinhold was about to fly into a passion; she saw how he clenched his
fist, but he forced himself to be calm.

"I see that I did your late father injustice," said he, bitterly; "I
took it to be his work that all news of my boy was withheld from me.
Did you read my first letter yourself, and leave it unanswered?"


"And returned the second unopened?"


Reinhold's face changed from red to white; mutely he gazed at his wife,
from whose lips he had never heard an expression of her own will, much
less any opposition--whom he only knew as humbly and silently obedient,
and who now dared to refuse with such decision to grant him what he
considered his own right.

"Take care, Ella," said he, firmly, "whatever may have taken place
between us, whatever you may have to reproach me with, this tone of
scorn I will not endure; and above all, I will not tolerate being
refused the sight of my boy. I will see my child."

The demand sounded almost threatening. The young wife's pale cheeks
began to colour slightly, but she did not move from her place.

"Your child?" asked she, slowly; "the boy belongs to me, me only; you
lost every right to him when you left him with me."

"That may still be questioned," cried Almbach, beginning to wax
furious. "Are we judicially separated? Has the law given Reinhold to
you? He remains my son, whatever there may be between you and me; and
if you refuse me my rights as a father any longer, I shall know how to
enforce them."

The threat was not without effect, but it quite failed in its purpose.
Ella drew herself up, and exclaimed with quivering lips, but with great

"You will not do that; you have not the conscience to do it, and if you
had, there is, thank God, another power to which I can appeal, and
which is, perhaps, not quite so indifferent to you as the family bonds
and duties which you broke so lightly. The world would learn that
Signor Rinaldo, after he had forsaken his wife and child for years, and
had not enquired after them, now dares to threaten his wife with the
same laws which he scorned and spurned with his feet, because she does
not choose that her boy should call him father; and all your fame, and
all the adoration yonder, would not protect you from the merited


It was a cry of rage which escaped his lips as she uttered the last
word, and his eyes flashed in terrific wildness down upon the delicate
form standing before him. Once Reinhold's passion was excited to its
utmost, it knew no limits, and all around him were wont to tremble.
Even Beatrice, although so little his inferior in violence, dared not
at such moments irritate him farther; she knew where the line was
drawn, and once this was reached she always yielded. Here it was
different; the first time for years he was stranded by another's will;
before the eyes which met his own, so clear and large, his defiance
succumbed altogether--he was silent.

"You see yourself that it would be worse than mockery were you to
resort to law," said his wife, more calmly.

Reinhold leaned heavily against the seat near which he stood. Was it
shame or anger made the hand tremble which buried itself in the

"I see that I laboured under a serious mistake when I believed I knew
the woman who was called my wife for two years," replied he, in a
singularly compressed tone. "Had you only once shown yourself to be the
same Eleonore whom I meet now, much would have remained undone. Who
taught you this language?"

"The hour in which you forsook me," replied she, with annihilating
coldness, as she turned away.

"That hour seems to have given you much more that was once foreign to
you--the pleasure of revenge, for example."

"And the pride, which I never knew, towards you," completed Ella. "I
had first to be crushed to the ground, but it awoke and showed me what
I owed to myself and my child, the only thing you had left to me, the
only thing that kept me up; for his sake I began again to learn, to
work, when the time for learning lay far behind me; for his sake I
roused myself above the prejudices and trammels of my education, and
gave my life a new direction when my parents' death made me free. I
must be everything now to the child, as it was everything to me, and I
had sworn that my child should never be ashamed of its mother, as his
father was ashamed of her, because externally she was inferior to other

Almbach's brow was dyed a deeper red at the last words--

"It was not my intention to dispute Reinhold with you," said he
hastily. "I only wished to see him in your presence if it must be. You
know only too well what a weapon the child is in your hands, and you
use it mercilessly against me, Ella." He came nearer to her and for the
first time there was something like a tone of entreaty in his voice.
"Ella, it is our child. This link at least extends out of the past into
the present, the only one between us which is not broken. Will you
break it now? Shall the chance which brought us together really remain
merely chance? It lies in your hands to make it a turning point of fate
which may perhaps be for the good of us both."

The hint was plain enough, but the young wife drew back, and on her
countenance again that expression, full of meaning--that "No!" spoke to
all eternity.

"For us both?" repeated she. "Then you really believe I could find
happiness by your side, after all you have done to me? Truly Reinhold,
you must be much impressed with your own value, or my worthlessness,
that you venture to offer it to me. Certainly, when could you have
learned respect for me? It was not possible in my parents' house. I was
brought up in obedience and submission, and I brought both to my
husband. What was my reward for it? I was the last in his house, and
the last in his heart. He never thought it worth while to ask if the
woman, to whom he had bound himself, was really so contracted in mind,
so incapable of appreciating anything higher, or if she were only
rendered timid by the oppression of her mode of bringing up, from which
we both suffered. He rejected my shy attempt to approach him,
scornfully, woundingly, and let me feel hourly and daily that only the
merit of being his child's mother gave me any claim upon his endurance.
And when art and life were opened to him, he cast me aside as a burden,
which he had borne long enough with dislike; he gave me up to be the
talk of the world, to scorn, to dishonouring pity; he left me for the
sake of another, and at this other's side never asked if his wife's
heart were broken at the death-stroke he had dealt her--and now, you
think that only one word is needed to undo all this! You think you only
require to stretch out your hand to draw to yourself again that which
once you rejected! Do you think it? No; one cannot play so with what is
holiest upon earth; and if you thought the despised, repulsed Ella
would obey the first sign by which you signify that you would take her
back into favour, I tell you now she would rather die with her child,
than follow you once more. You have set yourself free from your duties
as husband and father, and we have learnt to do without the husband and
father. You have shown it, plainly enough, that we are the 'bonds'
which fettered the wings of your genius--well, now they are broken,
broken by you, and I give you my word for it, they shall never oppress
you again. You have your laurels and your--muse; what do you want with
wife and child also?"

She ceased, overcome with excitement, and pressed both hands against
her stormily heaving bosom. Reinhold had become deadly pale, and yet
his eyes hung on her as if enchained. The lamp-light fell full upon her
face and the fair plaits as on that evening when he announced the
separation so mercilessly. But what had become of that Ella who then
hung timidly and shyly on his looks, and obediently followed every
sign, every mood? No one trait of her was to be discovered in the being
who stood drawn up opposite him, so haughty and proud, and who hurled
back so energetically upon him the humiliations she had once received.
They could burn, these blue fairy-tale eyes, burn in glowing
indignation; he saw this now, but he saw also, for the first time, how
wondrously beautiful they were, how ravishing the whole appearance of
the young wife--in the excitement, and amid the anger and rage of the
highly irritated husband, something flashed out which almost resembled

"Is that your final word?" asked he at last, after a pause of some

"My final one!"

With a rapid movement, Reinhold drew himself up. All his antagonism and
pride broke forth again at this mode of refusal. He went towards the
door, while Ella remained immovable at her post, but at the threshold
he stopped once more and turned back.

"I did not ask if my wife's heart were broken by the death-stroke which
I dealt her," repeated he in a smothered voice; "Did you feel it at all,

She was silent.

"I certainly did not believe it then," continued Reinhold bitterly,
"and to-day's meeting makes me doubt more than ever that your heart
suffered from a separation which certainly wounded your pride more
deeply than I had ever deemed possible. You need not guard the door so
anxiously; I see, indeed, that I must first dash you aside in order to
reach the child, and that courage I possess not. You have conquered
this time; I renounce my purpose of seeing him again. Farewell!"

He went. She heard his steps outside on the terrace, then the rustle of
the shrubs as he pushed his way through them, and at last the stroke of
the oars, which bore the boat away from the shore. The wife breathed
more freely, and left the place she had defended so energetically. She
went to the glass door; perhaps a slight anxiety arose in her as to
whether the venturesome leap from the terrace would be as successful as
the ascent to it had been, but in the darkness nothing could be
distinguished. As before, the sea lay in idle calm. Far above, the
still, sultry night spread its wings, and flowers bloomed all around,
but every trace of Reinhold had disappeared.

                              CHAPTER II.

The clear balmy spring days were followed by summer's burning glow. The
gulf and its environs lay day after day illuminated by the sun in all
their beauty, but also in the almost tropical heat of the south; only
the sea breeze brought any coolness, so that the sea was the object of
most excursions which were now undertaken.

This repose of nature, which had continued for some weeks, was followed
at last by an outbreak; a thunderstorm raged in the air, and stirred up
the ocean to its innermost depths. The storm had come up so quickly,
broken loose so suddenly, that no one had been prepared for it, and it
had lasted for more than an hour already, with undiminished fury.

A boat shot through the foaming waves, and, apparently overtaken by the
storm, found itself struggling with the billows. For some time it had
been in danger of being seized without hope of rescue, and dashed out
into the open sea, but now with full sails set it flew towards the
coast, and after a few futile attempts succeeded at last in being

"That is really racing with the storm for a wager," cried Hugo Almbach,
as he, wet through with rain and spray, was the first to spring on
shore. "For this once we have fortunately escaped the wet embrace of
the goddess of the sea. We were near enough to her."

"It was lucky having such a true sailor with us," said Marchese
Tortoni, following him in a not less wet condition. "It was a
master-work, Signor Capitano, bringing us safely on shore in such a
storm. We should have been lost without you." Reinhold lifted the half
unconscious Signora Biancona, who clung to him, trembling and deadly
pale, out of the boat. "For heaven's sake, calm yourself, Beatrice! The
danger is over," said he impatiently, as the last occupant of the boat,
the English gentleman, who had been present at Hugo's former
_incognito_ discussion with Maestro Gianelli, also gained _terra

In the meanwhile, Jonas poured forth all his contempt upon the two
sailors to whom the guidance had originally been entrusted, and who
fortunately did not understand the terms of praise addressed to them in

"They call themselves sailors, they want to manage a ship, and when a
paltry storm comes on, they lose their heads and cry to their saints.
If my Herr Captain had not seized the rudder out of your hands, and I
taken the sails upon myself, we should now be lying below with the
sharks. I should like you to experience such a storm as our 'Ellida'
underwent before we ran in here, then you would know what a little
blowing on your gulf means."

The little blowing would have been looked upon by any one else than the
sailor as a regular stiff storm. At all events it had endangered the
lives of the party, and they owed their safety only to the energetic
guidance of Captain Almbach, who now turned aside from the Marchese's
and the Englishman's expression of thanks.

"Do not mention it, Signor! Such a trip is nothing new or unusual to
me. I only pitied you, on account of the disagreeable circumstances in
which you had been placed by the temper of a pretty woman."

"Yes, women are to blame for everything," muttered Jonas furiously,
while Hugo continued in an undertone--

"I knew two hours ago what the sky and sea prophesied to us,
notwithstanding their bright appearance. You know how earnestly I
opposed the trip; however, Signora Biancona insisted positively upon
it, and condescended to scoff at the 'timid sailor,' who could not even
'venture upon his own element.' I think surely my courage will be
rather less doubtful in her eyes; hers on the contrary"--he broke off
suddenly, and made a few steps to the other side. "May I enquire how
you feel, Signora?"

Beatrice still trembled; but the sight of her opponent, who stood
before her like the perfection of politeness, and perfection of malice,
restored her consciousness to some extent. That he opposed the
expedition had been sufficient to make her insist upon it with intense
obstinacy, and render the other gentlemen deaf to all warning by her
mocking remarks. The deadly fear of the last hour had given her a
bitter lesson, certainly, and it was still more bitter to be obliged to
owe her life to Captain Almbach, who had become the hero of the day,
while she during the danger had shown herself anything but heroic.

"Thank you--I am better," answered she, still struggling between anger
and confusion.

"I am delighted to hear that," assured Hugo, as in the midst of the
rain he made her an unexceptionable drawing-room bow, "and now I shall
put myself at the head of an expedition of discovery into the interior.
Go on Jonas, reconnoitre the territory! Reinhold, you are no stranger
here in the neighbourhood; do you not know where we are?"

"No," replied Reinhold, after a short and rapid glance around.

"And you, Marchese Tortoni?"

Cesario shrugged his shoulders--

"I regret that I also am unable to give you any information. I seldom
leave the immediate environs of Mirando; besides, in such weather it is
almost impossible to know one's bearings."

This certainly was true; earth, sky and sea seemed to flow into one
another in rolling mist. He could see barely a hundred yards over the
raging sea, and not much farther over the land. No hills, no landmarks
were visible; a dense grey veil of fog imprisoned everything, and yet
Captain Almbach did not allow that to be any excuse.

"Unpractical, artist natures!" muttered he, annoyed. "They sit there
for months in their Mirando and go into ecstasies day after day about
the incomparable beauty of their gulf, but do not know the coast, and
if once they are a mile away from the great tourist highway, they have
no idea where they are. Lord Elton, will you be so good as come to my
side? I think we are both best suited to being pioneers."

Lord Elton, who at the first meeting had been much pleased with Hugo's
mischievous nature, and who had been highly impressed by him to-day,
acceded immediately to the request. With the same imperturbable calm
which he had shown before in danger, he placed himself at the sailor's
side and went forward, while the other gentlemen followed with

"It appears to me that chance has thrown us on a rather benighted
coast," said Hugo, scoffingly, upon whose temper the weather did not
exercise the slightest influence. "According to my calculations, we
must be quite ten or twelve miles distant from S----, and on our left
some hills are faintly visible through the fog, with very suspicious
looking ravines. Gennaro's band is said to frequent these mountains.
What should you say, my Lord, if we were to taste some of the regular
Italian romance of horror?"

Lord Elton turned with sudden liveliness to the ravines pointed out,
which certainly looked unpleasant enough in the thick fog, and scanned
them attentively.

"Indeed, that would be very interesting."

"Provided there were a pretty 'brigandess' amongst them, not
otherwise," added Hugo.

"Gennaro's band has no woman with it. I have learned all particulars,"
said the former, seriously.

"What a pity! The band seems to be very uncivilised still, that it has
so little consideration for the natural wishes of its honoured guests.
However, that would be something for my Jonas--a life without women! If
he were to hear us he would desert and take his oath of allegiance to
Gennaro's flag; I must take care of him."

"Do not joke so thoughtlessly," interposed the Marchese. "Remember,
Signor, we have a lady with us, and are all unarmed."

"Excepting my Lord, who always carries a six chamber revolver with him
as a pocket match-box," said Hugo, laughing. "We others did not think
it necessary to load ourselves with weapons when we undertook this
harmless expedition. Besides, we have more efficacious protection
to-day than two dozen carabineers would give us. In this rain no
brigand would venture forth."

"Do you think so?" asked Lord Elton in unmistakable disappointment.

"Certainly, my Lord! and for my part I think it will be better to
forego the pleasure party in the mountains this time. Is it not also
remarkable that we two, the only non-artists in the party, are the only
two who appear to have any sense of the romance of the situation? My
brother," here Hugo lowered his voice, "walks by Signora Biancona like
an irritated lion; besides he is now in his lion's mood, and it is
wisest to approach him as little as possible. Signora never brought
tragic despair to such perfection of expression on the stage as at this
moment, and Marchese Cesario stares illogically into the mist instead
of admiring our highly effective expedition in the rain. Ah, there
something peeps out like a building, and Jonas returns from his
_reconnaissance_. Well, what is it?"

"A _locanda_!" reported Jonas, who had gone on in front and was
returning hastily. "Now we are sheltered," added he triumphantly.

"Heaven has mercy," cried Hugo, pathetically, as he turned round to
impart the welcome news to the others. The prospect of shelter being
near did indeed revive the sinking courage of the party; they redoubled
their steps, and soon found themselves in the covered entrance of the
house indicated.

"The rough sailor's cloak has been made enviably happy to-day," said
Captain Almbach, as he removed his garment from Signora Biancona's
shoulders in the most polite manner. "I knew we should require it
to-day, therefore I ventured to bring it with me. The cloak quite
protected you, Signora."

Beatrice pressed her lips hastily together, as with forced thanks she
returned the shielding wrap. It had been hard enough to accept it from
Captain Almbach's hand; however, he was the only person in possession
of such a thing, and no choice remained to her, if she did not wish to
be quite wet through. But like all passionate natures, she could not
endure mockery, and this detested courtesy of her opponent never gave
her the opportunity of decided antagonism towards him, and kept her
mercilessly fast within the limits of social requirements.

The _locanda_, which lay rather lonely by the shore away from the great
tourist highways, was not one of those which are frequented by more
distinguished guests, and left much to be wished for as regards
cleanliness and comfort, but the weather and their thoroughly damp
state did not allow the guests to be particular. At any rate there were
some apartments which were called guest chambers, and really at times
served young painters and wandering tourists as a night's quarters.
Beatrice was horrified on entering, and the Marchese looked with mute
resignation at these rooms, which were certainly very unlike those of
his Mirando; Lord Elton on the contrary reconciled himself better to
the inevitable, and so far as the two brothers were concerned, Reinhold
appeared quite indifferent to the style of the reception, and Hugo much
amused by it. They now learned also that they were quite twelve miles
distant from S----, and that another travelling party had already
sought refuge here from the storm. But fortunately it had arrived at
the beginning of the same, and in a carriage, therefore had not
suffered from the rain like the lady and gentlemen just reaching it, at
whose disposal all which the place contained was readily placed.

A quarter of an hour later, Hugo entered the general public and
reception-room, and with his foot softly pushed aside a black, bristly
object, which had laid itself just before the door with admirable
coolness, and now left its place grunting crossly.

"These dear little animals appear to be considered quite fit for a
drawing-room here; with us they are merely so in a roasted state," said
he, quietly. "I wanted to see where you were, Reinhold. My God, you are
still in your wet clothes. Why have you not changed?"

Reinhold, who stood at the window and gazed out at the sea, turned and
cast an abstracted look at his brother, who already, like the other
gentlemen, had made use of the padrone's and his son's Sunday clothes
brought hastily to them.

"Changed my clothes? Oh to be sure, I had forgotten."

"Then do it now!" urged Hugo. "Do you wish to ruin your health

Reinhold made an impatient deprecating gesture. "Leave me alone! What a
fuss about a storm of rain."

"Well, the rain storm was within a hair's breadth of being fatal to
us," said Captain Almbach, "and I can bear testimony, as pilot, that my
ship's crew behaved bravely, with the single exception of Donna
Beatrice. She made rather extensive use of her rights as a lady, first
by bringing us into danger, and then increasing its difficulties

"For which you have the triumph that she owes her life to you, as do we
all," suggested Reinhold, indifferently.

Hugo looked sharply at his brother. "Which in your case you seem to
value very slightly."

"I, why?"

He did not wait for the reply, and turned again to the window; but Hugo
was already at his side and put an arm round his shoulder.

"What is the matter, Reinhold?" asked he again in the tone of former
tenderness with which he once surrounded the younger brother--whom he
knew to be oppressed and miserable in their relations' house--and which
had now become so rare between them. Reinhold was silent.

"I hoped you would at last find the rest here which you sought for so
passionately," continued Captain Almbach, more seriously, "instead of
which you rush about worse than ever during the last week. We are
barely, even nominally, the Marchese's guests any more. You drag him
and us all into this constant change of distractions and excursions.
From ship to carriage, from carriage to mules, as if every moment of
repose or solitude were a torture to you, and once we are in the midst
of the excitement you are often enough like a marble guest amongst us.
What has happened?"

Reinhold turned, not violently but decidedly, away from Hugo's arms.

"That, I cannot tell you."


"Leave me--I beg you."

Captain Almbach stepped back; he saw the repulse did not proceed from
temper; the faint, constrained tone, betrayed suppressed pain only too
well, but he knew of old that nothing could be gained from his brother
in such a state of mind.

"The storm seems to be at an end," said he, after a short pause, "but
at present it will be useless thinking of our return. We cannot under
any circumstances venture on the boisterous sea again to-day, and the
road will be in a bad enough state, too. I have promised the gentlemen
to obtain some information respecting it for them, as to whether our
return would be possible to-day, and if we may not expect a second
outbreak from the clouds. The verandah up there seems to offer a
tolerably free view; I will try it."

He left the room, and ascended the stairs. The verandah lay on the
other side of the house; it was a large stone adjunct, which probably
dated from a former more brilliant period of the building, now, like
the latter, neglected, half decayed, but extremely picturesque in its
ruins and with its creeping vines, which climbed around the pillars and
balustrade. A long open gallery led into it, and Hugo was just going to
pass along it, when he was arrested. A pigeon fluttered immediately
before him, chased by a boy in distinguished, fashionable-looking
dress. The tame bird, accustomed to mankind, did not think seriously of
flight; it flitted, as if playfully, along the floor, and only when the
little arms were stretched out to catch it, did it soar easily up to
the roof of the house, while the eager little follower rushed forward
in wild career, and so ran up against Captain Almbach.

"See there, Signorino, that was nearly becoming a collision," said
Hugo, as he caught the little one; but the latter, still full of
eagerness for the chase, stretched both hands up above, and cried
vivaciously in German--

"I do so want the bird. Can you not catch him for me?"

"No, my little sportsman, I cannot, unless I could put on wings," said
Hugo, playfully, as he examined the boy closer, astonished to hear his
own language. He started, looked intently into his eyes a few seconds,
and then lifted him up suddenly, to fold him with increasing tenderness
in his arms.

The little one permitted the caress to take place calmly, but somewhat
astonished. "You speak just like mamma and uncle Erlau," said he
confidingly. "I do not understand any one else, and at home I
understood all."

"Is your mamma here also?" enquired Hugo, hastily.

The child nodded, and pointed to the other side. Captain Almbach put
him down quickly, and stepped on to the verandah with him, where Ella
was coming towards them, and stood still in speechless surprise when
she saw her boy holding his uncle's hand.

"Must we meet here?" cried the latter, greeting her eagerly. "I thought
you never left Villa Fiorina, especially in such weather."

"It is the first excursion, too, that we have attempted," replied Ella.
"My uncle's continued improved health led us to undertake a visit to
the temple ruins in the mountains, but on our return journey the storm
overtook us, and as the horses threatened to become unmanageable, we
were glad to find shelter and refuge here."

"We are in the same plight," reported Hugo, "only it was worse for us,
as we came by water."

A momentary pallor spread over Ella's countenance.

"How? You are accompanied by your brother? I imagined it when I saw

Hugo made a gesture of assent. "You told me you wished to avoid a
meeting at any price," began he again.

"I. wished it; yes!" interrupted she, firmly, "but it was impossible.
We have seen each other already."

"I thought so!" muttered Captain Almbach. "Thence his incomprehensible

"Why did you not tell me you were guests of the owner of Mirando?"
asked Ella, reproachfully. "I believed you to be in S----, and went
unsuspectingly to see the villa. Only when too late did I learn who was
staying in our immediate neighbourhood."

Hugo scanned her face with a rapid glance, as if he wished to assure
himself of her self-possession.

"You spoke to Reinhold?" said he, in extreme anxiety, without noticing
her reproach. "Well, then?"

"Well, then?" replied she, with an almost harsh expression, "Do not be
afraid! Signor Rinaldo knows now that he must remain at a distance from
me and my son. He will acknowledge us at any possible meeting as little
as I shall acknowledge him."

"To-day it would certainly be impossible," replied Hugo seriously, "as
he is not alone. I fear, Ella, even that will not be spared you."

"You mean a meeting with Signora Biancona?" Ella could not preserve her
lips from trembling as she uttered the name, however much she forced
herself to appear calm, "Well, if it cannot be avoided, I shall know
how to endure it."

During this conversation they had drawn near the balustrade. The storm
was really over, and the sluices of heaven seemed to have exhausted
themselves at last, but the air still hung damp and laden with rain.
The wet vines, torn and disordered by the storm, still fluttered about,
and drops of rain ran down from the saint's picture in the badly
sheltered niche in the wall. Below rolled the sea, still wildly
disturbed; the usually so quiet sapphire blue mirror was only a wild
chaos of iron-grey currents and white foaming crests of waves, which
broke hissing and surging on the shore. But the mist, which until now
had enveloped the whole country in an impenetrable veil, commenced to
melt at last, and land-marks came out distinctly already; only around
the higher points did it still cling and hang, while in the west a
clearer gleam of light began to struggle with the disappearing clouds.

"How did you recognise my little Reinhold?" asked Ella suddenly, in
quite an altered tone. "You did not see him at your last visit, and
when you left H---- he had barely passed his first year of life."

Hugo leant down to the child, and lifted up its little head.

"How I recognised him?" replied he smiling; "by his eyes. He has yours,
Ella, and they are not so easily mistaken, even if they look out of
another's face. I should know them amongst hundreds."

His tone had almost a passionate warmth. The young wife drew slightly

"Since when have you begun to pay me compliments, Hugo?"

"Are compliments so unusual to you, Ella?"

"From your lips, certainly."

"Yes, certainly. I dare not venture upon what you allow to every one
else," said Captain Almbach, with a slight accent of bitterness. "The
attempt has once already obtained me the name of 'adventurer.'"

"It seems as if you could never forget that word," said Ella, half

He threw his head back defiantly. "No, I cannot, as it pained me, and
therefore I cannot get over it, even until this moment."

"Pained you?" repeated Ella. "Can, indeed, anything pain you, Hugo?"

"That is to say, in other words--'have you then indeed a heart, Hugo?'
Oh, no, I do _not_ possess such an article at all; I came off badly at
the distribution of the same; you must surely have discovered that."

"I do not mean that," interposed Ella, "I give you all credit for the
warmest feelings."

"But no earnestness, no depth?"


Captain Almbach looked at her silently for a few seconds; at last he
said softly--

"Was it necessary, Ella, to give me such a harsh lesson, because T
ventured lately to kiss your hand, which perhaps displeased you? I know
what this 'No' means. You see I understand hints, and shall take note
of to-day's. You need not be afraid."

A slight blush passed over Ella's features, as she saw that he
understood her. "I did not wish to wound you, indeed not," she
answered, and put her hand out heartily, but Hugo stood obstinately
averted, and appeared not to notice it.

"Are you angry with me?" she asked. It was a touchingly-beseeching
tone, and it did not fail in its intention. Captain Almbach turned
round suddenly, and caught her offered hand, but in his answer
excitement and the old love of teasing struggled again, and were
suppressed with difficulty, as he replied--

"If my late uncle and aunt could see us now, they would observe with
intense satisfaction how their daughter holds the incorrigible Hugo by
the head--he who will usually obey no other reins--how she will not
permit him to go even one step beyond those limits which she finds it
good to draw. No, I am not angry with you, Ella--cannot be so--only you
must not make obedience too hard for me."

Both were still engaged in lively conversation, when Marchese Tortoni
and Lord Elton also entered the verandah from the gallery.

"Look there," said the former, astonished, to his companion, "that is
the reason why our Capitano's observations are so endlessly prolonged
that we are obliged to look him up at last. It is indeed an
extraordinary nature. An hour ago he forced our boat through storm and
waves, and now he plays the agreeable to a young signora."

"Yes, an extraordinary man," agreed Lord Elton, who had taken such a
blind fancy to Hugo, that he thought everything perfect in him.

The unbearable sultry air in the close rooms appeared to have driven
the whole party out on to the verandah, as immediately after the two
gentlemen Reinhold and Beatrice appeared also. If his wife were
prepared for this encounter, he certainly was not, as he became pale as
death, and made a movement as if to turn back; but at the same moment
the boy's fair, curly head appeared from behind the young wife, and, as
if transfixed, the father stood still. His glance directed openly to
the child, he appeared to have forgotten all else around him.

"What a lovely child!" cried Beatrice, admiringly, as she stretched her
arms out with perfect assurance; but now Ella started up! with a single
movement she had withdrawn the boy from the intended caress, and
pressed him firmly to herself.

"Excuse me, Signora," said she, coldly, "the child is shy with
strangers, and not accustomed to _such_ caresses."

Beatrice seemed somewhat offended at this repulse; however she saw
nothing more in it than a mother's over-due anxiety. She shrugged her
shoulders imperceptibly, and a scoffing side-glance fell upon the
stranger, but it soon remained enchained by the latter's appearance,
although recognition only took place on one side.

Before Ella's recollection, that evening stood forth in perfect
distinctness when she, alone, without knowledge of her people, her veil
drawn closely over her face, hastened to the theatre, in order to see
the one who had so completely alienated her husband. She had seen
Beatrice in all the brilliancy of her beauty and talent, intoxicated by
the cheers and homage of the public, and she bore the impression
ineffaceably away with her.

Beatrice, also, had only once seen Reinhold's wife, at the time when
she first began to be interested in the young composer, and Ella did
not then suspect anything of her evil influence. A short meeting of a
few minutes sufficed for the Italian to perceive that this quiet, pale
being, with downcast eyes, and that ridiculously matronly costume,
could not possibly bind such a man to her, and this knowledge was
extensive enough for her not to take any further notice of the young
wife. At all events it was impossible for her to associate the
colourless, half ridiculous, and half pitiful picture, which she
carried in her recollection, in the remotest degree with this
apparition, which stood so unapproachably proudly there, which held its
fair head so high and erect, and whose large blue eyes looked at her
with an expression which Beatrice was unable to explain to herself. She
only saw that the stranger was very haughty, but also very beautiful.

The two gentlemen seemed to think the latter also, as they came nearer,
bowing politely; Lord Elton gazed at Ella with open admiration, and the
Marchese, whom Hugo had often reproached for blamable indifference to
ladies' acquaintance, said with unusual eagerness to him--

"You appear to know the Signora. May we not also count upon the
pleasure of being introduced to her?"

Captain Almbach, as if to protect her, had placed himself by the young
wife's side. Between his eyebrows lay a frown which seldom appeared on
his cheerful brow, and it became still deeper at this request, which
could not possibly be refused. He therefore introduced the two
gentlemen, and named his countrywoman to them as Frau Erlau. He knew
that Ella, in order to anticipate unpleasant enquiries, to which the
name of Almbach might easily give rise, bore that of her adopted
father, so long as she remained in Italy.

Beatrice's eyes flashed with offended pride. She was not accustomed to
herself and Reinhold being mentioned last in such cases, and here she
was not even named at all. Captain Almbach ignored her altogether, and
appeared actually to do so on purpose, as the angry look which she cast
towards him was received with aggravating coldness; but even Cesario
was struck by the want of tact that his usually charming friend
displayed. While he uttered a few civilities to the strange lady, he
waited in vain for the continuation of the presentation, and as this
did not ensue, he undertook it, in order to atone for the Captain's
supposed impoliteness.

"You have forgotten the most important part, Signor," said he, turning
the affair quickly into a joke. "Signora Erlau would hardly be grateful
to you were you not to mention the very two names which, doubtless,
interest her most, and which are certainly not unknown to her. Signora
Biancona--Signor Rinaldo."

Beatrice, still enraged at the insult offered to her, only vouchsafed a
slight inclination of her head, which was similarly returned; but
suddenly she became observant. She felt how Reinhold's arm quivered,
how he let hers fall, and moved a step away from her as he bowed. She
knew him too well not to perceive that at this moment, notwithstanding
his apparent calm, he was terribly agitated. This intense pallor, this
nervous quivering of his lips, were the sure sign that he was forcibly
suppressing some passionate emotion. And what meant this glance, which
certainly only met that of the stranger for a few seconds, but it
flashed with unmistakable defiance, and melted again into perfect
tenderness when it fell on the child at her side. She herself, indeed,
stood quite impassive opposite him; not a feature moved in the
countenance cold as marble. But this face was also remarkably pale, and
her arms encircled her boy with convulsive firmness, as if he were to
be torn away from them. Yet she replied in a perfectly controlled

"I am much obliged to you, Signor. I had indeed not yet the pleasure of
knowing Italy's principal singer and Italy's celebrated composer."

Reinhold's blood surged through his veins, as again, and this time
before strangers, the endless breach was shown him which separated him
from his former wife. Now it was she who assigned him the place which
he had to occupy towards her; and that she could do it with such calm
and ease roused him to the uttermost.

"Italy's?" replied he, with sharp accentuation. "You forget, Signora,
that by birth I am a German."

"Really," replied Ella, in the same tone as before. "Indeed I did not
know that until now."

"One seems to be soon forgotten in one's home," said Reinhold, with
savage bitterness.

"But surely only when people estrange themselves. In this case it is
quite comprehensible. You, Signor, have found a second fatherland, and
he to whom Italy has given so much can easily forego home and its

She turned to the other gentlemen, exchanged a few passing indifferent
words with them, and then gave her hand quietly and openly to Hugo in

"You will excuse me, I must go to my uncle. Reinhold bid Captain
Almbach adieu."

It was only too true. Ella possessed a terrible weapon in the child,
and understood how to use it mercilessly. Reinhold experienced it at
this moment. To him she relentlessly denied the sight and presence of
his boy, although she knew with what passion he longed for him; and now
she let him see how this boy stretched out his little arms to his
uncle, and offered his mouth for a kiss; let him see it in the presence
of the woman for whom he had forsaken them both, and whose presence
forbade him to insist upon any of his rights as a father--the revenge
penetrated to the innermost depths of his heart.

Beatrice, quite contrary to her usual custom, had not taken part, even
by a single syllable, in the conversation; but her darkly burning
glance did not move from either of the two, between whom she suspected
some secret connection, although her thoughts were immeasurably far
from the truth itself. For the present, however, Ella now put an end to
any further conversation. She took little Reinhold by the hand, and
after a slight, haughty bow, which included the whole party, she left
the verandah with the child.

"You appear to have introduced some incognita to us, Signor Capitano,"
said Beatrice, with cutting scorn. "Perhaps you will be so good as to
explain to us exactly who the princess is who has just now condescended
to leave us."

"Yes, by heaven, very proud, but also very beautiful!" cried the
Marchese, his admiration breaking forth, while Hugo replied coolly--

"You are mistaken, Signora. I told you the name of the German lady."

The young Italian went up to his friend and laid his hand on the
latter's shoulder.

"Signora's mistake is easily understood. Do not you think so also,
Rinaldo?--Good God, what is the matter--what ails you?"

                              CHAPTER III.

"Nothing," said Reinhold, recovering himself with a great effort. "I am
not well; the stormy voyage has upset me. It is nothing, Cesario."

"I believe the best we can do is to think of our return," interrupted
Hugo, who deemed it necessary to distract attention from his brother,
as he saw that the latter could no longer control his agitation. "A
repetition of the storm need not be feared, and as the padrone has
promised to procure us a carriage, we can reach S---- this evening if
we start soon."

It was the first time that Beatrice cordially agreed to any proposition
made by Captain Almbach. Marchese Tortoni, on the contrary, considered
any great haste very unnecessary, and raised several objections. All at
once the lonely _locanda_ seemed to have gained remarkable attractions
for him. But as he could not succeed in his wishes--for Reinhold also
insisted upon an immediate return--he joined Captain Almbach, who went
to see about the carriage.

"I fear you made up some tale for your brother and me, when you
declared that a certain villa was inaccessible," said he, teasingly.
"It was suspicious at the time when you confessed your failure so
openly, and let our jokes fall so quietly upon you. I could swear that
I had seen this charming figure and those glorious fair plaits once
before, when I rode past the villa. I understand, of course, that you
would not make us the confidants of your adventure, still----"

"You are mistaken," interrupted Hugo, with a decision which made it
impossible to doubt his words. "There is no talk of an adventure here,
Signor Marchese. I give you my word upon it."

"Ah, then pardon me," said Cesario, seriously; "I believe your
apparently intimate acquaintance with the lady----"

"Arises from a former acquaintance in Germany," completed Captain
Almbach. "I certainly had no suspicion of this meeting, when I believed
I was seeking a perfect stranger in the Villa Fiorina; but I repeat it,
that the word 'adventure' must not be connected in the remotest degree
with that lady, and that I claim the most perfect and unqualified
respect for her from all."

The very positive tone of this explanation might, perhaps, have
irritated another listener, but the young Marchese, on the contrary,
seemed to find unmistakable satisfaction in it.

"I do not in the least doubt that you are quite justified in your
demand," replied he, very warmly. "The whole bearing of the beautiful
lady answers for it. What imposing dignity, and what a perfectly
charming appearance! I never saw any woman unite the two so

"Really?" Hugo's voice betrayed by no means pleasant surprise, as he
looked at his companion, whose cheeks were deeply suffused with colour,
and whose eyes sparkled. Captain Almbach did not utter another word,
but his countenance told plainly enough what he thought. "I believe
this ideal-man also begins to care about other things besides airs and
recitatives--however, it is quite unnecessary."

Beatrice stood alone up in the verandah. She had not followed Reinhold
and Lord Elton, who also descended. Her hand buried itself
unconsciously in the wet vine-leaves, while her dark eyes were fixed
steadily on the sea. Lost in gloomy meditation, she only clung to the
one thought, which her lips now uttered, as half threateningly, half
frightened, she whispered----"What was it between them?"

Autumn had come, and brought strangers and inhabitants back from the
seaside and mountains to the large ever stirring and bustling central
point of Italy. It was indeed not such an autumn as leads nature to its
grave in the North, with gloomy, rainy days, raw stormy nights, rolling
mists, hoar and night frosts. Here it lay mildly in golden clearness
and indescribable beauty over the wide plains, from which at last the
summer's heat had subsided; over the mountains, which, at other times
were day after day enveloped in hot vapour, encircled with white
clouds, now again showed their blue outlines undisguised; and over the
town, where the great wave of life which for several moons had rolled
slowly, now flowed forth with renewed power.

Signora Biancona had also returned. Her stay in S---- had been as
unexpectedly and quickly terminated as was Reinhold's in Mirando. He
seemed as if, all at once, he could not endure his usually favourite
place any longer. Almost immediately after their stormy sea excursion,
he insisted positively that the original plan should be adhered to, and
the _villegiatura_ in the mountains, long since decided upon, be
carried out. The Marchese's objections, even his openly-displayed
annoyance--having counted upon a lengthy visit from his guests--were in
vain, as Beatrice also agreed somewhat eagerly to Reinhold's plan, and
thus Cesario remained alone in Mirando, while the others went to the
mountains, from which they had now just returned.

It was during the forenoon. Signora Biancona was sitting in her
boudoir, her head resting on her arm, and her hand buried in her dark
hair, in an attitude of eager attention. The conductor, Gianelli, had
taken up his position opposite to her. Whatever his real feelings
towards the envied Rinaldo might be, he was much too clever not to show
outwardly all necessary respect and consideration to him, who, in the
world of art, as in society, was all-powerful; and towards the
beautiful _prima donna_ he was now all attention and devotion, which he
showed in voice and manner, as, continuing the conversation already
begun, he said--

"You had commanded, Signora, and that was sufficient for me at once to
set all machinery in motion. I am fortunate in being able to fulfil
your wish, and impart the fullest information upon a certain subject."

Beatrice lifted up her head with liveliest eagerness. "Well?"

"This Signor Erlau is, as you supposed, a merchant from H----. He must,
indeed, belong to the richest of his class, as everywhere he appears
like a millionaire. He has rented the entire Villa Fiorina, near S----,
for himself and his family, and here, also, he inhabits one of the most
expensive houses. His household is arranged in great style; part of the
servants brought from Germany. He bears important introductions to his
embassy, of which, however, he has not made any use as yet, because his
state of health necessitates retirement. His move here, in fact, was
only made in order to put himself under the treatment of one of our
most celebrated doctors----"

"I know all that already," interrupted Beatrice, impatiently. "When I
heard the name, I did not doubt that it was the same Consul at whose
house I visited during my stay in H----. But the lady who accompanies
them--the young Signora?"

"Is his niece," explained Gianelli, who made an intentional pause after
the first words.

The singer appeared to consider. "She certainly was presented to me as
Signora Erlau. A relation, therefore. I did not see her in those days.
I surely should have remarked her; one does not so easily over look
such a figure."

The maestro smiled with a malicious expression. "She is _said_ to bear
the same name, certainly, as her adopted father; she is _said_ to be a
widow--_said_ to have lost her husband many years since. At least, they
wish such to be believed in Italy, and the servants have strict orders
to answer all enquiries in this manner."

Beatrice listened attentively to this explanation with its double
meaning, "'_Said_ to be;' but is it not so? I suspected that some
secret lay hidden there. You have discovered it?"

"Servants are never silent, if one understands to apply in the right
manner," remarked Gianelli, scornfully. "I only fear it is an extremely
delicate point, and as it concerns Signor Rinaldo----"

"Rinaldo!" exclaimed Beatrice, "how so? What has Rinaldo to do with it?
Did you not say that it concerns Rinaldo?"

The maestro bent his head, and said in his softest tone, "I was then,
indeed mistaken, Signora, when I premised that the cause of your wish
to learn more particulars about the Erlau family originated with Signor

The singer bit her lips. She certainly might have foreseen that the
motive which dictated the commission she had given him could not escape
the observing eyes of a Gianelli.

"Let us leave Rinaldo out of the question!" said she, with an effort to
appear calm. "You were about to speak of Signora Erlau."

"It would be somewhat difficult to separate one from the other,"
suggested Gianelli. "I only fear Signor Rinaldo is unfortunately not
favourably disposed towards me already, certainly from no fault of
mine. I fear I might arouse his extreme ill-will if he discovered it
was I who made such a communication, and especially to you"--he paused,
and drew figures on the floor with his walking stick, in well-feigned

"To me, especially!" repeated Beatrice, violently, "then this
communication is not intended for me? You must speak, Signor Gianelli!
You shall not withhold one word, not one syllable either! I require, I
demand it of you."

"Well then----" he seemed really about to come to the explanation, but
the game was too interesting to give it up so soon, and the maestro
himself had too often suffered from the temper of the beautiful _prima
donna_ to be able to deny himself the satisfaction of keeping her still
longer on the rack of eagerness.

"Well then, you surely are aware of Signor Rinaldo's former bonds; but
in, Italy few or none know that he was already married. I myself was
only informed of it on this occasion. You, of course, were acquainted
with the fact."

"I know it," replied Beatrice, suppressedly, "but how does that concern

"Indeed it does to some extent. You do not know Rinaldo's wife,

"No. Though yes; I saw her once momentarily. A very insignificant

"They do not seem to think so, here," remarked Gianelli, again in the
same soft tone. "Notwithstanding her seclusion, the beautiful fair
German begins to create a sensation."

"Who?" Beatrice rose so suddenly and wildly, that the maestro thought
it wiser to retire a few steps. "Of whom are you speaking?"

"Of Signora Eleonore Almbach, who certainly bears her adopted father's
name here, probably to avoid inquisitive inquiries."

"That is impossible," exclaimed the singer, now with extreme violence.
"That cannot be. You deceive me, or have been yourself deceived."

"Excuse me," said Gianelli, defending himself, "my source is the most
authentic. I will answer for its correctness, and Signor Rinaldo will
be obliged to confirm it."

"Impossible!" repeated Beatrice, still quite without her
self-possession. "_This_ apparition his wife! I saw her formerly, of
course, although only for a few minutes. Was I then blind?"

"Or was he so?" completed Gianelli to himself; but he said aloud, "I am
inconsolable to have excited you so, Signora; you will give me credit
for not wishing to speak, but you regularly forced this information
from me. I regret this exceedingly."

His words restored Beatrice somewhat to consciousness. She felt what
she had to expect from the pity of the man who had played the spy on
her behalf.

"Certainly not!" replied she in a hasty but vain attempt to recover her
self-control. "I--I thank you, Signor. I am merely surprised, nothing

The maestro saw that he could not do better than retire, but as he
prepared to leave, he laid his hand assuringly upon his heart--

"You know, Signora, that I am quite at your commands, and if you deem
it necessary to insist upon my unconditional silence in this affair, no
assurance is needed that this also is at your service. Quite at your

He left the room with a low bow; he was in earnest with the last words.
Gianelli was too good a reckoner not to consider as a valuable secret,
something which sooner or later might be employed against the hated
Rinaldo. If he were to make the piquant story public in society,
nothing more could be done with it; in his sole possession, on the
contrary, it might be very useful. At present it ensured him influence
over Beatrice, and, indirectly, even over Rinaldo, to whom it could, at
the very least, not be agreeable that his family affairs should become
generally known.

In the best of humours the maestro passed through the saloon, and
entered the antechamber, where at that moment the sailor Jonas was
alone. Captain Almbach had sent him to his brother with some message;
he supposed the latter to be with Signora Biancona. Reinhold, however,
was at the manager's, but was expected every moment. Jonas learned this
from some servant who had gone into Beatrice's service from that of the
same manager who had taken the Italian Opera Company to Germany, and as
a trophy of his northern journey was able to maltreat a few words of
German. As the sailor had received orders to give his master's note to
the latter's brother himself, nothing else remained for him than to
wait; he therefore took up his position in the ante-room, through which
Reinhold was sure to pass. He had certainly remarked that the door of
one of the back rooms stood open, and that some one was in there,
apparently one of the Signora's lady's maids, who was occupied with a
dress of her mistress. However, as this somebody was a woman, she
naturally did not exist for Jonas, who, dissatisfied and silent as
usual, withdrew into one of the window recesses, and remained there
above a quarter of an hour without taking the slightest notice of his

Signor Gianelli, as regards women, seemed to entertain the most
opposite views; he had barely discovered the open door and the young
girl, before he immediately altered his course, and steered in that
direction. Jonas naturally did not understand any of the conversation,
conducted in Italian, which now took place between the two, but so much
was clear to him, that the maestro endeavoured to play the agreeable,
apparently without particular success, as he only received short, and
rather defiant-sounding replies, and at the same time the heavy silken
folds were so adroitly draped that he could not come nearer without
crumpling the light satin. This lasted a few minutes, then Signor
Gianelli appeared to try and make some serious attempt, as a cry of
annoyance was heard, followed by the angry stamping of a little foot.
The dress flew aside, and the young girl fled into the ante-room, where
she stood still with arms folded defiantly and eyes sparkling with
rage. But the maestro had followed her, and without being intimidated
in the least by the opposition, gave signs of trying to enforce the
kiss which evidently had been refused him before, when he stumbled upon
a most unexpected obstacle. A powerful hand caught him suddenly by the
collar, and a strange voice said impressively--

"That is to be left alone."

At the first moment the Italian appeared staggered at this interruption
from a stranger whom he had not perceived at all; but on looking more
closely at the latter, and discovering that he had only a common sailor
to deal with, he drew himself up with great self-importance and evinced
great annoyance. He immediately reversed the order of affairs, and
pretended to be the one insulted. How could any one dare to attack a
man in his position, especially in Signora Biancona's apartments; he
should lay a complaint to the Signora; what sort of a person was it who
took such a liberty? and thereupon a flood of not exactly flattering
names swept over poor Jonas.

The latter endured the insults heaped upon him with immovable
placidity, as he did not understand even one word of them; but when the
Italian, deceived by this quiescence, took it into his head to make a
threatening gesticulation with his stick, there was an end of the
sailor's calm, as he understood this pantomime very well. With a sudden
movement he had caught the stick from the maestro, the next moment had
seized him and regularly thrust him out of the room, thrown his stick
after him, and locked the door, all without speaking a single word, and
returned quietly to his window recess as if nothing had happened. But
here the young girl came at once towards him, stretching out both hands
to him, with southern vivacity and overflowing with gratitude.

"It is not necessary! Was done willingly," said Jonas, dryly, but as he
put out his arm as if to refuse her thanks, a little hand was placed
upon it, and a clear voice said something in the softest tones, which
was undoubtedly intended to express her acknowledgments.

Jonas looked most indignantly, first at his arm, then at the hand,
which still lay upon it, and after having gazed at both for some time,
he condescended at last to cast a glance also at the person to whom the
hand belonged.

Before him stood a young girl of at most sixteen years, so lythe, so
intensely slight and graceful a figure, that she presented the greatest
contrast imaginable to the broad form of the sailor. A wreath of
splendid blue-black plaits surrounded the little face, which, with its
dark brown complexion and burning black eyes, certainly sprang from the
South of Italy. The little one was pretty, without doubt very pretty,
that could not be denied, and the liveliness with which she endeavoured
to show her protector how very grateful she was rendered her still more

"Yes, if I only understood the cursed language!" muttered Jonas, in
whom, for the first time, something like regret arose that he had
thrown away, with such obstinate determination, the rare opportunity
offered him during the summer of learning Italian. He shook his head,
shrugged his shoulders, and in this way made pantomimic signs that he
did not understand Italian, which the young girl seemed to think quite
unheard of and also very disagreeable.

"I was to find Mr. Reinhold," growled Jonas, who, strange to say,
seemed to long to impart some information, which was not usually his
case with women. He made the discovery, however, that even this name
was not understood, as now it became his companion's turn to shake her
head and shrug her shoulders.

"Yes, indeed," said the sailor angrily, "he could not even retain his
honest German name! Rinaldo he lets himself be called here--God have
pity on him! Robbers and rogues are called by such names with us at
home. Signor Rinaldo," exclaimed he, as he drew out his master's note,
which bore the same name. This address was of course well enough known
in Signora Biancona's house; any farther understanding was now,
however, unnecessary, as just at the moment when the two were bending
their heads eagerly over the letter, the door of the ante-room was
opened and Reinhold himself entered.

The young girl remarked him first. In one moment she was away from the
sailor's side and in the middle of the room, where she made a graceful
curtsy and then disappeared in the direction of the saloon, probably to
announce the long-expected one to her mistress; while Jonas, who could
not conceive how any person could fly away thus lightly and rapidly,
and disappear tracelessly in a few seconds, stared after her so
steadily that Reinhold was obliged to go up to him and ask what brought
him there. Ashamed, and somewhat confused, he delivered his errand and
gave up the note, which Almbach opened and read rapidly. The contents
seemed to be very indifferent to him--

"Tell my brother I am engaged already for to-day, and therefore beg him
to accept the Marchese's invitation merely for himself. If possible at
all, I shall appear towards evening."

He put the note in his pocket, dismissed the messenger by a gesture,
and passed into the saloon. Jonas now had his orders and ought to have
returned home; instead, however, he sought the servant who had given
him the required information before, and the latter made the discovery
that the inaccessible sailor, so chary of words, had all at once
become very inquisitive, as he enquired very particularly about
Signora Biancona's household and its _personnel_, and tolerated the
Italian's horrible German--who was so proud of his knowledge of the
language--with exemplary patience.

Reinhold, meanwhile, had entered the boudoir. He no longer required any
announcement to its mistress, and she came towards him at once; but had
he not been so entirely absorbed in other thoughts he must have seen at
the first glance that something had happened to her. The Italian's dark
warm colouring could appear pale at times; this was evident now, when
the glowing blood which usually throbbed in her cheeks had disappeared
to the very last drop; but it was an unnatural pallor, and her eyes
burned all the more scorchingly. Beatrice was actress enough to be
able, for a few moments at least, to control her temper when it was
required to gain some object, and she wished to obtain one to-day. A
trait of dark determination lay in her face; she wished to see clearly
at any price.

"I met Gianelli below in the street," began Reinhold, after the first
greeting. "He appeared to come from your house; was he with you?"

"Certainly! I know you are prejudiced against him, but I cannot
possibly decline to see the conductor of the opera, when he comes on
purpose to discuss something as to its performance with me."

Reinhold shrugged his shoulders. "That could be done at the rehearsals.
Are you a young beginner, who requires protection, and must fear
offending any one? I should have thought that you, in your position,
could behave with as little consideration as I do. However, I will give
you no directions about it. Receive whom you will, even Gianelli! I am
far from wishing to place any control upon you."

The tone sounded icy, and Beatrice's voice trembled slightly as she
replied, "That is new to me. You used to watch over my visitors most
despotically; formerly no one could cross my threshold who was not
agreeable to you."

Reinhold had thrown himself into a seat. "You see I have become more

"More tolerant!--more indifferent."

"You have often enough complained of my despotism," remarked he, with a
slight tinge of sarcasm.

"And yet I bore it because I knew it sprang from love. It is only
natural that with the one the other should also cease."

Reinhold made an impatient movement. "Beatrice you demand what is
impossible, when you require that a human heart should ever and for
ever glow with those volcanic feelings which alone you call love."

She had approached his seat, and placed her hand on its back, while she
looked down at him with a strange expression.

"I see certainly that it is impossible to require from the cold heart
of a Northerner such love as I give and demand."

"You should have left him in his north," said Reinhold, gloomily;
"perhaps the cold there would have been better for him than the
everlasting glow of the south."

"Is that intended for a reproach? Was it I who tore you from your

"No! I went voluntarily, but--be just, Beatrice!--you were the moving
power. Who urged me constantly to the resolution? Who held my artist's
course again and again before my eyes? Who dubbed me a coward as I
started back at the responsibility, and at last placed the fatal choice
before me of flight or our separation? Excuse me--you knew how the
decision must fall."

The Italian's dark eyes flashed threateningly, but she forced herself
to be calm.

"Our love depended on it," declared she, proudly; "our love depended on
it, and your artist's career. I rescued a genius for the world when I
rescued you for myself."

He was silent. The defence appeared to find no echo in his heart. She
bent lower to him, and her voice sounded sweet and fascinating again,
but the unnatural expression did not leave her features.

"You are dreaming, Rinaldo. This is one of your moods again, which I
have so often had to fight against. Is it the first time then, that an
unhappy, unsuitable marriage has been dissolved in order to form a
happier union?"

Reinhold leaned his head on his hand. "No, certainly not; but that does
not affect this case; my marriage has not been dissolved, and we--have
never thought of marriage."

Beatrice started, and her hand slid from the back of the chair.

"You were not free?" she murmured.

"It would only have cost me one word to be so. I knew I should not be
prevented, and means enough were open to you to obtain dispensation,
which would have permitted a Catholic to make this marriage. But we
both dreaded the indissoluble bond; we wished to be free and
unfettered, without limits in our love as in our life--well, we are so
still at this moment."

"What do you mean by this?" Beatrice pressed her hand upon her heart as
if breathless. "Do you still consider your marriage to exist?"

"Oh, no, certainly not; and if I did, the daring of such an idea would
soon be made plain to me. You do not know what an offended wife and
mother is in the pride of her virtue. If the sinner were to devote his
whole remaining life to penance and repentance, he would still not be
restored to favour."

The words were intended to sound scoffingly; he did not suspect the
boundless bitterness they betrayed as he hurled them forth; but
Beatrice understood it only too well, and with this recognition, her
self-control, so far preserved with such difficulty, broke down

"You have, perhaps, tried it already with the offended wife," cried she
furiously. "She is in your neighbourhood; I myself was witness of your
meeting. That is why your eyes encountered each other in so mysterious
a manner; that is why you could not tear your gaze away from the child;
that is why she drew back from me, as if from something unholy. Have
you attempted the penitent scene already, Rinaldo?"

Reinhold had sprung up; anger and astonishment struggled in his
countenance. "So you know already who Signora Erlau is? But why do I
ask! The spy, this Gianelli, has just left you; he has traced it out
and communicated it to you."

A dark look passed over the singer's features for a moment, as she
remembered the distinct commission she had given to the spy, but in her
inward excitement shame found no place.

"You knew it in Mirando," continued she violently, "and she occupies
the Villa Fiorina close by. Will you try to make me believe you had not
seen each other before, not spoken?"

"I do not wish to try and make you believe anything," said Reinhold
coldly. "How I stand to Eleonore, our utterly estranged meeting must
have shown you sufficiently. Calm yourself. You have nothing to dread
from that side. What else has taken place between me and my _wife_ I
shall not confess to _you_."

A slight, but yet perceptible tone of contempt lay on the two words,
and it seemed to be understood.

"It appears you place me _below_ your wife," said Beatrice weeping.
"Below the woman whose only merit was and is that of being the mother
of your child; who never----"

"Pray, leave that alone!" interrupted he, with decision. "You know I
never permit you to touch upon that point, and now I shall endure it
less than ever. If you must get up a scene for me, do it, but leave my
wife and child out of the drama."

It was as if his words had let a storm loose, so raging, so unmeasured
did the Italian's passion now break forth, dragging every trace of
self-control along with it.

"Your wife and your child!" repeated she, beside herself. "Oh, I know
what these words signify to me; I must experience it often enough. Have
they not forced themselves between us from the first moment of our
meeting until to-day? To them I owe every bitter hour, every strange
emotion in your heart. They have lain upon you like a shadow, amidst
the growth of your artist's renown, amidst all your conquests and
triumphs; as if they had cursed you there in the north, with the
recollection of them, you could not tear your self away from them; and
yet there was a time when they were the oppressive fetters which
separated you from life and future--which you must break at last!"

"To exchange them for others," completed Reinhold, whose violence now
burst forth, "and the question is, are these others lighter? There, it
was only the outward circumstances which confined me; my thoughts,
feelings and actions were at all events free. You would fain see these,
also like myself, without a will, at your feet, and that you could not
attain this, or at least not always, I have had to atone for by hours
of endless excitement and bitterness. Your love would have made any
other man into your slave. Me it forced to stand in constant opposition
to your love of ruling, which tried to take possession of every
innermost thought and feeling. But I should have thought, Beatrice,
that you had hitherto found in me your master, who knew how to preserve
his own independence, and would not allow his whole being and nature to
be clasped in chains."

The storm had now been called up. Henceforth there was no restraint, no
more moderation; at least not for Beatrice, whose passion foamed out
ever wilder.

"I must hear that, too, from the lips of the man who so often called me
his muse? Have you forgotten who it was who first awoke you to the
knowledge of your talents and of yourself; who alone led you up to the
sun's height of fame? Without me, the admired Rinaldo would have
succumbed under the fetters which he did not dare to break."

She did not realise how deeply her reproach must wound his pride as a
man. Reinhold was roused, but not with that haughtiness which, until
now, too often darkened his character; this time it was a proud,
energetic self-consciousness with which he drew himself up.

"That he _never_ would. Do you think so little of my talent, that you
believe it could only force open its path with you, and through you? Do
you think I should not have found my way alone, not alone have swung
myself up to the present height? Ask my works about it! They will give
you the reply. I should have gone sooner or later. That I went with
you, became my doom, as that broke every bond between me and home, and
also drew me upon paths which the man as well as the composer had
better have avoided. For years you kept me in the intoxication of a
life which never offered me even one hour's real contentment or true
happiness, because you knew that when once I awoke your power would be
all at an end. You might postpone it, hinder it never--the awaking came
late, too late, perhaps; but still it came at last."

Beatrice leaned upon the marble chimney-piece by which she stood; her
whole body trembled as with fever; this hour showed her indeed what she
had long felt, without wishing to acknowledge to herself--that her
power was in truth at an end.

"And who do you think shall be the sacrifice to this 'awaking?'" said
she in a hollow voice. "Take care, Rinaldo! You forsook your wife, and
she bore it patiently--_I_ shall not bear it. Beatrice Biancona does
not allow herself to be sacrificed."

"No, she would rather sacrifice." Reinhold stepped before her and
looked her firmly in the face. "You would plant the dagger--is it not
true, Beatrice?--in yourself or me, all alike, if only your revenge
were cooled? And if I seized the weapon from your hand, and returned
repentant to you, you would open your arms to me again. You are right,
Eleonore bore it more patiently; not a word, not a reproach restrained
me, the cry of anguish was smothered in her heart. I did not hear even
one sound of it; but at the moment in which I left her, I was the one
rejected--my return was shut out for ever. And if I came to her now, in
all the brilliancy of my fame and success--if I laid laurels, gold,
honour, everything at her feet, and myself also--it would be in vain;
she would not forgive me."

He broke off, as if he had said too much already. Beatrice did not
reply one word; not a sound came from her lips; only her eyes spoke a
gloomy, unnatural language; but Reinhold did not understand it this
time, or would not understand it.

"You see this separation is irretrievable," said he, more quietly. "I
repeat it, you have nothing to fear from that side. It was you, not I,
who provoked this scene. It is not well to awaken the ghosts of the
past--at least not between us. Let them rest."

He left her and went into the adjoining room, where he busied himself
with the music lying on the piano, or seemed to busy himself with it,
to escape further conversation.

"Let them rest!" that was said so gloomily, so quietly, and yet it
sounded like scorn from his lips. Could he not even banish the ghosts
of the past? And he demanded it of the woman who saw menaced by them
what she deemed to be her highest good, her love for him, which,
notwithstanding all that had passed between Rinaldo and herself in the
course of years, still clung to him with all the strength of her inward
being; whose glowing, passionate nature had in love as in hate never
known any bounds. Whoever saw Beatrice now, as she raised herself
slowly, and gazed after him, must have known that she would not let
them rest, nor would she rest herself; and Reinhold should have
considered, when he opposed her so defiantly, that he did not stand
alone against her revenge any longer, and that in this hour he had
betrayed, only too well, by which means she could strike a deadly blow.
The glances of evil token which flashed there did not menace him, but
something else which he was unable to protect, because the right to do
so was denied him--his wife and child!

                              CHAPTER IV.

"I wish, Eleonore, we had stayed in the Villa Fiorina, and not
undertaken our migration here," said Consul Erlau, as he stood still
before his adopted daughter, whom he had surprised in tears on his
unlooked-for entrance into her room. "I see I have made you suffer far
too much by it."

Ella had soon effaced the traces of weeping, and now smiled with a
calmness which might well have deceived a stranger.

"Pray, uncle, do not be anxious on my account! We are here for your
sake, and we will thank God if your recovery, which has begun so
promisingly in the south, is completed here."

"Still I wish that Dr. Conti were at any other place in the world,"
replied the Consul, annoyed, "only not just in the town which we would
avoid at all cost, and where I am obliged to put myself under his
treatment. Poor child, I knew you were making a sacrifice for me in
this journey; how great it is I only now am learning to see."

"It is no sacrifice, at least no longer now," said Ella, firmly. "I
only dreaded the possibility of a first meeting. Now this is overcome,
and all the rest with it."

Erlau examined her features enquiringly, and somewhat suspiciously.
"Indeed! then why have you wept?"

"Uncle, one cannot always control one's mood. I was cast down just

"Eleonore!" The Consul seated himself beside her, and took her hand in
his. "You know I have never been able to overcome the thought that this
unhappy connection commenced in my house, and my only satisfaction was
that this house could afford you a home afterwards. I hoped that now,
when years lie between, when everything in and around you has so
completely changed, the injury you once received would pain you no
longer; and instead I must see that it continues to burn undiminished
and unforgotten--that the old wounds are torn open afresh, that

"You are mistaken," interrupted Ella, hastily, "you are quite mistaken,
I--have long made an end of the past."

Erlau shook his head incredulously. "As if you would ever show that you
suffered! I know best what reticence and self-control are hidden under
these fair plaits. You have often displayed more of it than you could
answer for to your second father, but his sight is keener and goes
deeper than that of others; and I tell you, Eleonore, you cannot be
recognised since the day when that Rinaldo, regardless of all refusals,
at last forced an interview upon you. What exactly passed between you I
do not know to this day; it was trouble enough even to obtain the
confession from you that he was with you. You are utterly inaccessible
in such matters, but deny it as you may, you have become quite another
person since that hour."

"Nothing took place at all," persisted Ella, "nothing of importance. He
demanded to see the child, and I refused him."

"And who answers for it that he will not repeat the attempt?"

"Reinhold. You do not know him! I have dismissed him from my door; he
will never pass it a second time. He understood everything, only not
how to humble himself."

"At any rate he had tact enough to leave Mirando as soon as possible,"
said Erlau. "This vicinity would have been unbearable for any length of
time. But his withdrawal was not of much use, as then Marchese Tortoni
sprang up, who raved so uninterruptedly to you about his friend that I
felt obliged at last to give him a hint that this subject did not
receive the slightest sympathy from us."

"Perhaps you did it too plainly," suggested Ella, softly. "He had no
conception of the wounds he touched, and your harsh repulse of it must
have seemed remarkable to him."

"I do not care! Then he can obtain the commentary upon it from his
much-admired friend. Were I to allow you to endure Signor Rinaldo's
glorification for hours, certainly we were not much better off here.
One cannot take up a newspaper, receive a visit, hold a conversation,
without stumbling upon his name; every third word is Rinaldo. He seems
to have infected the whole town with his tones and his new opera, which
seems to be considered here as a sort of event of the world. Poor
child! and you must be quiet under it all, must witness how this man
regularly revels in victories and triumphs, how he has attained the
zenith of success, and maintains it undisputed."

The young wife rested her head on her hand so that the latter shaded
her face.

"Perhaps you deceive yourself after all. He may be celebrated and
worshipped like no other--happy he is not."

"I am glad of it," said the Consul, violently, "I am extremely glad of
it. There would be no more justice or right in the world if he were.
And that he has seen you, as you allow yourself to be seen now, does
not conduce much to his happiness, I hope."

He had risen at the last words, and walked up and down the room with
his old vivacity. A short silence followed, which Ella at last

"I want to beg something of you, dear uncle. Will you grant it me?"

Erlau stopped. "Gladly, my child. You know I cannot easily refuse you
anything. What do you wish?"

Ella had fixed her eyes on the ground, and did not look up while she

"It is that Rein--that Reinhold's latest work is to be performed the
day after to-morrow."

"Yes, to be sure, and then the adoration will become unendurable,"
growled Erlau. "You wish to escape from the first commotion about it--I
understand that, perfectly; we will drive into the mountains for a week
or a fortnight. Dr. Conti must give me leave of absence for so long."

"On the contrary. I wanted to beg you--to go to the opera with me."

The Consul looked at her with a countenance full of the most intense

"What, Eleonore! I cannot have heard aright? You wish to go on that day
to the theatre, which hitherto you have so decidedly avoided as soon as
Rinaldo's name was connected with it?"

Notwithstanding the shielding hand, one could see plainly how the deep
red which coloured her cheeks rose to her temples, as she replied
almost inaudibly--

"I never ventured to enter the opera house at home, when _his_ music
reigned there. I always felt as if every one's eyes would be directed
to me and seek me, even in the darkest background of our box. In your
drawing-rooms and in those of our acquaintances I seldom or never heard
his compositions. People avoided them whenever I was present; people
knew what had taken place, and tried to spare me in every way. I never
attempted to break through this fence of shielding consideration which
you all drew around me. Perhaps I was too great a coward to do so,
perhaps also, too much embittered. Now," she raised herself suddenly,
with a violent motion, and her voice gained perfect firmness, "now
I have seen Reinhold again, now I will learn to know him in his
works--him and her."

Erlau's astonishment continued; apparently this affair surprised him in
the highest degree, but it was very evident that he was not accustomed
to refuse his favourite anything, even if it seemed to him to be a
point requiring consideration. For the present, however, he was
relieved from an immediate consent, as the servant entered with the
announcement that Dr. Conti had just driven up, and that Captain
Almbach also was in the drawing-room.

"Certainly, Herr Captain Almbach is most enviable in his want of
diffidence," said the Consul. "Notwithstanding all that has passed
between you and his brother, he asserts his right as a relation just
the same as if nothing had occurred. Hugo Almbach is the only person in
the world who could do this."

"Do you not like his visits?" asked Ella.

"I!" Erlau smiled. "Child, you know that he has won me as completely as
every one else whom he chooses to win, perhaps only excepting my
Eleonore, for whom he seems to entertain quite incredible respect."

He then took his adopted daughter's arm, and led her to the
drawing-room. The medical visit did not last long, and Hugo in about
half-an-hour also quitted the Erlau's house, which he was wont to visit
frequently. Whether Reinhold knew of it could not be decided, certainly
he suspected it; but there appeared to be a tacit agreement between the
brothers not to touch upon this subject. It was not Captain Almbach's
way to force himself into a confidence which was determinedly and
continuedly withheld from him, and therefore he followed Reinhold's
example, who observed utter silence about the meeting in the _locanda_,
and never mentioned his wife's or child's names again, since he knew
they were in his neighbourhood. What might be really hidden beneath the
impenetrable reticence, Hugo could not discover, but he was convinced
that it did not arise from indifference.

Captain Almbach had reached his brother's dwelling, and entered his own
room, where he found Jonas, who seemed to be waiting for him. In the
sailor's appearance to-day there was decidedly something unusual; his
wonted phlegm had given way to a certain restlessness, with which he
waited until his master had taken off hat and gloves and sat down.
Hardly was this done, than he came forward and planted himself close
beside the Captain's chair.

"What is it then, Jonas?" asked the latter, becoming attentive. "You
look as if you meant to make a speech."

"That is what I wish to do," said Jonas, as he placed himself in an
attitude half solemn, half confused.

"Indeed? That is something new. I was always under the impression
hitherto that you would prove a most valuable acquisition to a Trappist
monastery. If, however, by means of all the classical recollections
here, the spirit of oratory has come to you also, I rejoice at it.
Begin then, I will listen."

"Herr Captain Almbach"--the sailor's spirit of oratory did not seem to
be sufficiently developed, as for the present he could not get beyond
those three words, and instead of continuing, he gazed persistently and
fixedly on the floor as if he wished to count the Mosaic stones.

"Listen, Jonas, I am suspicious about you," said Hugo, impressively. "I
have been suspicious about you for more than a week, you do not growl
any more; you cast no more furious looks at the padrona and her maids;
you sometimes lay your face in folds, such as any one with power of
imagination might consider the first feeble attempt at a smile. I
repeat it, these are highly serious symptoms, and I am prepared for the

Jonas seemed to discover that he must express himself somewhat more
clearly. He made an energetic start, and actually completed half a

"Herr Captain Almbach, there are men--"

"A most indisputable fact, which I do not in the remotest degree intend
to attack. So there are men--well, go on."

"Who may like women," continued Jonas.

"And others who may not like them," added the Captain, as a second
pause ensued; "an equally undeniable fact, of which Herr Captain Hugo
Almbach's seaman, William Jonas, of the 'Ellida,' is offered as an

"I did not wish to say that exactly," responded the sailor, whom this
arbitrary continuation of his evidently studied speech quite
disconcerted. "I only meant to say that there are men who appear to be,
no one knows how unkind towards women, and yet at heart are not so at
all, because they think nothing about them."

"I believe that is a very flattering illustration of my character,"
remarked Hugo. "But now tell me, for Heaven's sake, what do you purpose
with all these prologues?"

Jonas drew several long breaths; the next words appeared to be too hard
for him. At last he said, stammeringly--

"Herr Captain Almbach, I know, of course, best what you really
are--and--and--I know a young woman."

A smile, which he suppressed with difficulty, quivered about Captain
Almbach's lips, but he compelled himself to remain serious.

"Really!" said he, coolly, "that is, indeed, a remarkable event for

"And I will bring her to you," continued Jonas.

Now Captain Almbach began to laugh aloud. "Jonas, I believe you are not
sane. What in the world am I to do with this young woman. Shall I marry

"You shall do nothing with her," explained the sailor, with an injured
countenance. "You are only to look at her."

"A very modest pleasure," scoffed Hugo. "Who then is the lady
concerned, and what necessity requires me to look at her?"

"It is the little Annunziata, Signora Biancona's lady's maid," replied
Jonas, who now became more fluent of speech. "A poor, quiet young
thing, without father or mother. She has only been a couple of months
with the Signora, and at first all went well with her; but there is a
man," the sailor clenched his fist with intense rage, "called Gianelli,
and he is the conductor; he follows the poor thing at every step, and
never leaves her in peace. She has repulsed him once very roughly, and
on that account he maligned her to the Signora, and since then the
Signora is so unkind and violent to her, that she can stand it no
longer. In _that_ house, indeed, she does not see much good, and
therefore she shall leave, and must leave, and I shall not allow her to
remain any longer."

"You appear to be very fully informed about that little Annunziata,"
remarked Hugo, dryly. "She is an Italian; have you learned all these
details by pantomimic means?"

"The Signora's servant helped us now and then, when we could not get
on," confessed Jonas, quite openly. "But he speaks horrible German, and
I do not like him putting his finger into everything. Without reference
to this, though, she shall get away from the whole crew; she must
absolutely go into a German house."

"On account of the morals," added Hugo.

"Yes, and besides on account of learning German. She cannot speak a
single word of it, and it is really sad when people cannot understand
one another. So I thought--you often go to Herr Consul Erlau, Herr
Captain Almbach--perhaps young Frau Erlau may want a maid, and in such
a rich household it cannot matter one person more or less, if you were
to put in a good word for Annunziata." He stopped and looked
beseechingly at his master.

"I will speak to the lady," said Captain Almbach, "and at all events it
will be better for you only to introduce your _protegée_ after I have
had a decided answer; I will also look at her then. But one thing more,
Jonas"--he put on a grave expression--"I presume that nothing
influences you in the whole matter, excepting pity for the poor
persecuted child?"

"Only pure pity, Herr Captain," assured the sailor, with such honest
frankness that Hugo was obliged to bite his lips, so as not to give way
to renewed laughter.

"I really believe he is capable of imagining that," murmured he, and
then added aloud, "I am glad to hear it. I was convinced of it from the
first; as you know, Jonas, _we_ shall never marry!"

"No, Herr Captain," answered the sailor; but the answer sounded
somewhat wanting in heartiness.

"Because we think nothing of women," said Hugo, with immovable
seriousness. "Beyond pity and gratitude, the story never goes; then we
sail away, and regret remains with them."

This time the sailor made no reply, but he looked at his master as if
much taken aback.

"And it is indeed most fortunate that it is so," ended Captain Almbach,
with great emphasis. "Women on our 'Ellida!' Heaven preserve us from

With which he left Jonas and went out of the room. The latter looked
after him with an expression in which it was difficult to decide
whether it consisted more of annoyance or sadness; finally, however,
the latter sentiment seemed to prevail, as he let his head droop, and
uttered a sigh, saying, in an undertone--

"Yes, certainly, she is a woman also--more's the pity!"

Hugo had gone across into his brother's study, where he found him
alone. The piano stood open, but Reinhold himself lay extended on
the couch, his head thrown back on the cushions. The face, with its
half-closed eyes and high forehead, with its dark hair falling over it,
looked alarmingly pale. It was an attitude, not of repose, but of the
most supreme fatigue and exhaustion, and he barely changed it at his
brother's entrance.

"Reinhold, really this is too bad of you," said the latter, coming up
to him. "Half the town is in commotion with your opera; in the theatre
everything is in a whirl; people openly fight for tickets. His
Excellency the Director does not know where his head is, and Donna
Beatrice is in a regular state of nervous excitement. And you, the real
promoter of all this disturbance, dream away here in _dolce far
niente_, as if there were no public nor operas in the world."

Reinhold turned his head towards the new comer with a feeble,
indifferent movement; his face showed that his dreams had been anything
but sweet.

"You were at the rehearsal?" asked he. "Did you see Cesario?"

"The Marchese? Certainly, although he was no more at the rehearsal than
I was. This time he preferred to give a performance himself in the
higher equestrian art; I have just paid a high tribute of admiration to
his bravery."

"Cesario? How so?"

"Well, he rode no less than three times up and down the same street,
and regularly under a certain balcony; let his horse curvet so
senselessly that one dreaded an accident every moment. He will break
his own and his beautiful animal's neck too, if he should try that
often. Unfortunately this time mine was the only, probably not much
wished for, physiognomy which he saw at the window."

The evidently irritable tone of these words caught Reinhold's
attention--he half raised himself up.

"At which window?"

Hugo bit his lips; in his anger he had quite forgotten to whom he
spoke. His brother remarked his hesitation.

"Do you mean the Erlau's house?" asked he, quickly. "It seems to me you
often visit it."

"Sometimes, at least," was Captain Almbach's quick response. "You know
I have always enjoyed the privilege of neutrality there; even when the
battle was raging most fiercely in my uncle's house, I have asserted
this old privilege there, and it is tacitly recognised by both

Reinhold had raised himself entirely, but the eagerness had quite
disappeared from his features; in its place was a dark expression of
enquiry, as he said--

"Then Cesario has also the _entrée_ of the Erlau's house? Of course you
introduced him there."

"Yes, I was so--stupid," said Captain Almbach, speaking angrily,
"and I seem to have caused something very charming by it. We had hardly
left Mirando when Don Cesario--who cannot resolve to sacrifice his
freedom---who rides past the only lady in the neighbourhood without
looking at her even--loses no time on the strength of that introduction
in making himself agreeable at the Villa Fiorina; and this was done,
the Herr Consul tells me, in so pleasant and modest a manner that it
was impossible to repulse him; the more so, as our departure from
Mirando removed the only cause of their seclusion. Then he was
fortunate enough to discover Herr Doctor Conti, who was making his
_villegiatura_ somewhere in the vicinity, and bring him to the Herr
Consul. The doctor's treatment produced results beyond all expectation,
and Don Cesario is almost looked upon in the family as the saviour
of life, which he knows how to make use of. Trust one of those
women-haters! They are the worst of all; Jonas has just given me a
speaking example of it. He has started a wonderful theory of pity, in
which he believes firmly as in the Gospel; but all the same, it has
caught him hopelessly, and the aristocratic Marchese Tortoni is on the
same path."

It could not have escaped any calm observer, that under the Captain's
mocking speech, which was usually only dictated by mischief, a
bitterness lay concealed which, with all his scoffing, he could not
quite control; but Reinhold was far from calm. He had listened as if he
would read every word from off his brother's lips, and at the last
remark he started up wildly.

"On what path? What do you mean by it?"

Hugo stepped back as if struck, "My God, Reinhold, how can you fly out
like that? I only meant--"

"It concerns Ella, does it not?" interrupted Reinhold, with the same
violence. "To whom else can these attentions be paid?"

"Certainly, to Ella," said Captain Almbach. It was the first time for
months that this name had been mentioned between them. "And just for
this reason, it can and must be indifferent to you."

Simple as the remark was, it seemed to hit Reinhold unexpectedly hard.
He strode up and down the room once or twice, and at last stopped
before his brother.

"Cesario has no idea of the truth," said he, in a suppressed voice;
"he made some enthusiastic remarks to me at the beginning. I may have
betrayed to him, involuntarily, how much they pained me, as since then
he has not touched the topic again."

"Erlau appears to have given him a similar hint," added Hugo. "He tried
to find out something about it from me--if any and what connection
existed between you and that family. I naturally avoided it, but he
seems to suspect some former enmity between you and Erlau."

Reinhold looked down gloomily. "This connection will indeed not long
remain a secret. Beatrice knows it already, and, as I fear, from a very
unsafe source, whence no silence can be expected. Cesario must learn it
sooner or later, after what you have just disclosed to me. He is
romantic enough to take anything of the sort seriously, and give
himself up, with his whole soul, to a hopeless passion."

Captain Almbach leaned with folded arms against the piano, a slight
pallor lay upon his face, and his voice trembled faintly, as he

"Who tells you that it is hopeless?"

"Hugo, that is an insult," stormed Reinhold. "Do you forget that
Eleonore is my wife?"

"She was," said Captain Almbach, emphasising the word strongly. "You
surely think now as little of asserting such rights as she would be
inclined to admit them."

Reinhold was silent. He knew best with what determination even the
slightest appearance of any right was denied him.

"You have both been satisfied with mere separation," continued Hugo,
"without requiring judicial divorce. You did not need it, and what
restrains Ella from it I understand only too well. In such a case final
decisions as to the possession of the boy must be made. She knew that
you would never quite sacrifice your paternal rights, and trembled at
the thought of giving you the boy even for a time. Your tacit
resignation of him was sufficient for her; she preferred to give up all
satisfaction, in order to remain in undisturbed possession of her

Reinhold stood there as if struck by lightning. The glow of agitation
which had so lately coloured his brow disappeared; he had become deadly
pale again, as he asked, in a suppressed voice--

"And this--this you think was the sole reason?"

"So far as I know Ella, the sole one which could prevent her completing
the step which you had commenced."

"And you think that Cesario has hopes?"

"I do not know it," said Hugo, seriously, "but we both know that
nothing stands in the way of Ella's freedom, if she were really
disposed to assert it still. You forsook her, gave her up entirely for
years, and all the world knows why it was done, and what kept you
continuously away from her. She has not only law, but also public
opinion on her side, and I fear the latter would compel you to leave
the boy with her. Beatrice stands terribly in the way of your paternal

"You think that Cesario has hopes?" repeated Reinhold, but this time
the words sounded moody and full of menace.

"I believe that he loves her, loves her passionately, and that sooner
or later he will try to woo her. He will then certainly learn that the
imaginary widow was the wife of his friend, and still bears that
friend's name, but I doubt if this will exercise any influence upon
him, as not the slightest shadow falls upon Ella. Only your friendship
may receive an irrecoverable blow; but even without this, it would be
at an end, so soon as passion speaks; consider this, Reinhold, and do
not let yourself be carried away to any rash act. You broke your
bonds in order to set yourself free. Thereby you also made Eleonore
free--perhaps for another."

Captain Almbach's voice fell at the last words, and, as if to suppress
or conceal some violent emotion, he turned quickly to depart. Although
his brother's agitation, whom he left alone, did not escape him, he had
not the remotest suspicion of the firebrand which his words threw into
the other's breast.

If Reinhold had shown almost nothing but fatigue and indifference
lately to those around him, if a sensation often overcame him that for
him there was an end of life and love, this moment proved that the same
wild passion could still rage in his heart which had once drawn the
young artist away from his bonds at home; and the manner in which the
storm had been loosed, betrayed, if not to others yet to himself, that
which hitherto he _would_ not know, and which now disclosed itself to
him with merciless distinctness. The defiance and bitterness with which
he had armed himself against the wife who dared to let him feel that he
had once deeply offended her, and that she would now and never more
pardon this offence, succumbed before the burning pain which suddenly
blazed forth in his breast. But although his pride taught him to meet
the coldness, indifference and irreconciliation with harshness, he
still could not prevent it that so soon as the picture of his child
rose before him its mother's form also stood by its side. Certainly it
was no longer the same Ella, who a few months previously barely held a
place in his recollection, but the woman, who on that evening, when for
the first time he recognised what he had so frivolously given up, and
what he had irretrievably lost, had shown him such an energetic will,
and such a never dreamed of depth of feeling. Near the child's fair
curly head there hovered, ever and ever, the face with those large,
deep blue eyes, whose glance had struck him so annihilatingly. He did
not confess to himself with what passion he clung to this picture, with
what longing he dreamed away hours in these recollections; he did not
even confess the thought which lay unexpressed in his soul, that the
woman who still bore his name, who was the mother of his child,
notwithstanding all that had happened, still belonged to him, and
although he had forfeited the right of possession, at any rate no other
dared approach her.

And now he must hear that another already stretched forth his hand to
the prize, and offered everything to gain it. His brother's words
unsparingly disclosed the motive, to which alone he owed it, that Ella
had not answered his flight with letters of divorce. Only for the
child's sake was she still called his wife; not because one trace of
liking for him lingered in her heart. And if she were now to take the
step once avoided; if on her side she removed the chain, now when a
Cesario offered her his hand, who could prevent her; who could blame
the woman, who after the lapse of years sought at last in a purer,
better love, recompense for the treachery her husband had exercised
towards her? The danger did not lie in the fact that Marchese Tortoni,
who was handsome, rich, and who, belonging to one of the noblest
families, was the aim of so many aspirations, could raise his wife to a
brilliant position; that could only come under Erlau's consideration;
but Reinhold knew that Cesario, with his noble and thoroughly pure
character, with his glowing enthusiasm for everything beautiful and
ideal, might indeed win the heart of an Eleonore--yes, must win it--if
this heart were still free; and this conviction robbed him of all
self-possession. There was once an hour in which the young wife had
lain full of despair on her knees by her child's cradle, with the
annihilating consciousness that at that moment her husband was
forsaking her, his child, and his home for another's sake--that hour
now revenged itself on him, who was guilty of it, revenged itself in
the words, which stood as if written in letters of flame before his
soul--"Therefore you made her free also--perhaps for another."

                               CHAPTER V.

A storm of applause rolled through the opera house, and the curtain had
not even been drawn up as yet. It was for the overture, whose last
tones had just resounded. The theatre was filled to overflowing in
every place, with the sole exception of one small proscenium box close
to the stage; this was occupied by a single elderly gentleman, probably
some rich eccentric, whom it pleased to procure by lavish expenditure
of money the entire possession of a box, as on such an evening it would
otherwise hardly have been obtained. Every where else the dazzlingly
lighted spaces and tiers of boxes, with their rich parterres of ladies,
offered a brilliant and variegated picture. The world of artists, as
well as aristocracy, was fully represented. All which the town
possessed in the way of beauties, celebrities and persons of
distinction, had appeared to prepare a new triumph for the much admired
favourite of society. And was this merely what it was all for? No young
composer was offering his work timidly to the approbation or
disapprobation of the public: a recognised and undisputed sovereign in
the realms of music stepped before the world with a new display of his
talent, in order to gain a new conquest by it. This certainly lay
written very plainly, although not as if it were agreeable, upon
Maestro Gianelli's face, who conducted the orchestra. At the same time
he did not venture to fail in zeal or attention. He knew only too well
that if he attempted here, where of course a portion of the success
depended upon him, to intrigue against the all-powerful Rinaldo, it
must cost him his post, perhaps his entire future, as in such a case
the disfavour of the public would be ensured to him. Therefore he did
his duty to the fullest extent, and the overture was performed with
perfect execution.

The curtain rustled, and in anticipation the composer received the
homage of eager silence. Before the first act was half concluded there
was not one of the audience who had not already forgiven Reinhold the
tyranny with which he had disposed of all means in his hands, and
insisted mercilessly on having his views carried out. The
representation was in every respect perfect, and the scenery a
masterwork. All felt that it was a different hand to that of the usual
manager which had ruled here, and raised simple theatrical effects
everywhere to artistic beauty; but all these external advantages
disappeared before the all-attracting power of the work.

It was, perhaps, the most perfect which Rinaldo had ever composed in
his own peculiar line, a line by many so much admired, and by so many
others deplored. At all events this time he produced the very best in
that style to which Beatrice's influence had drawn him; was it the
highest which he could produce? This question was absorbed at present
in the ringing applause with which the audience greeted this new
creation of their favourite. Was it not Rinaldo again with all the
fiery spirit of his genius, of which none could tell positively whether
it were at home above, in the heights of idealism, or below in the
depths of passion, and which roused again in men's hearts all feelings
which lay between these two poles.

The storm raged over the northern heaths, and the billows surged
against the coast. As mists are driven along the cliffs, so rose and
fell the tones in chaotic confusion, until at last a dreamlike,
beautiful melody dawned forth. But it only hovered like a fleeting
vapoury picture over the whole, never completed, never ringing forth
clear and full, and soon it was lost amid other sounds, which not so
pure and sweet as it, yet attracted with a singularly strange charm.
The mists separated, and out of them appeared the demon-like beautiful
form, which was the chief performer and central figure of the whole
opera. Loud acclamation greeted Signora Biancona's appearance on the
stage. Beatrice showed to-day that she still understood how to be
beautiful, as at the commencement of her career. What art may have done
towards it was not now brought into consideration, enough that the
apparition standing before the public was perfect in every respect. The
half fantastic, half classic costume displayed her figure in all its
grace, her dark curls flowed loosely over her shoulders, and her eyes
gleamed with the old devouring fire. And now that voice was raised,
which had been the admiration of almost all Europe, full and powerful,
filling the extensive space--the singer still stood at the zenith of
her beauty and artistic strength.

The melodies flowed forth, still more glowing, more fiery, and before
the audience a picture of sounds was unfolded which seemed to borrow
its colours, now from the brightest sunlight, now from the scorching
heat of a crater. It pourtrayed the lost wild life of one whose cup was
filled to the brim, and who drained it to the very dregs. This rushing
forth beyond all bounds and limits, the volcanic glow of feelings, the
goblinlike play with tones carried the hearers irresistibly away on the
sea of passion, there to cast them adrift between shuddering and
enchantment, between heaven and hell. At times, indeed, notes rang out
like pæans of joy and triumph, but between were startling, harsh
discords, and then again sounds of that first lost melody were wafted
back, which ran through the entire opera like a soft, intensely painful
yearning plaint. As a dream of love and happiness passes through the
soul of man without ever descending to reality, so breathed and died
these tones in the distance, while in the foreground stood ever and
ever again the one figure, which Rinaldo had endowed with the highest
dramatic power, of which he was a master like none other, which he had
surrounded with all the magic of his melodies, whose sensual,
entrancing charms were laid like a ban upon the listeners' souls.

Beatrice was, if any one, adapted to understand this music exactly in
its innermost being and nature and to do it justice; she, whose
peculiar element was passion, who, as an actress, had sought and found
her triumph in it only. It rang out of every note of her singing,
quivered out of every motion in her acting, which raised itself to a
greater dramatic height than ever before, while she represented hate
and love, devotion and despair, rage and revenge with life-like truth.
It was as though this woman poured forth a stream of fire, which
imparted itself to the audience, who, half charmed, half alarmed,
followed her performance. Never yet had the singer been so entirely
part of her task, never yet had she delivered it so perfectly as this
time. No one guessed, indeed, for what prize she struggled, what urged
her to employ her best powers. Was it not to win back _him_, whom
already she had more than half lost! He had admired the actress before
he had learned to love the woman, and the actress now called all the
power of her talent to her aid, in order to maintain that of the woman.
For the first time the storm of applause was indifferent to her, as it
succeeded every scene; for the first time she did not care for the
worship of the crowd; she only waited for the one glance of passionate
rapture which had so often thanked her on such evenings--but to-day she
waited in vain.

"Signora Biancona surpasses herself tonight," said Marchese Tortoni,
enthusiastically, to Captain Almbach, who was in his box. "Often as I
have admired her, I never saw her like this before."

"Nor I," replied Hugo, monosyllabically.

Cesario looked at him in undisguised astonishment. "That sounds very
cool, Signor Capitano. Have you no other expression of admiration for
this woman, who stands so close to your brother?"

Hugo's countenance was indeed as cool as his tone, while he replied
quietly, "That is just Reinhold's taste. Sometimes our views lie very
far apart. However, it would be unjust not to admire Signora Biancona
to-night without reserve, and I do it, too--that is to say, from a
spectator's point of view. Close to her, such a passion, beyond all
reason, which seems to know no limits, would be rather unnatural. I can
never quite dismiss the thought that one day Donna Beatrice will carry
this truly masterful acting into reality, and could be a sort of Medea
there also, who only breathes forth death and ruin. That she _can_ do
it, one sees by her eyes and--although I do not otherwise exactly
belong to the timid class, I could not love such a woman."

"And yet Reinhold's works require exactly this fiery representation,"
said the Marchese, reproachfully, "and of that only a Biancona is

"Yes, to be sure, she has always been his doom," murmured Hugo, "and he
will never be free so long as this doom reigns over him."

The two gentlemen had long since remarked Consul Erlau in the opposite
stage box, and exchanged greetings with him. They never suspected that
he was not alone any more than did others of the audience, as the lady
who accompanied him sat far behind in the background of the box,
entirely concealed by the folds of the half lowered curtain, but yet so
that she could quite overlook the stage, and her companion, when he
spoke to her, took the precaution of rising and stepping back also. She
wished, evidently, to avoid being seen, and also to avoid a visit from
the two gentlemen.

Ella had actually obtained the fulfilment of her wish by her indulgent
adopted father. So far she knew but few, and only the unimportant
compositions of her husband, several songs and fantasias, nothing else.
The peculiar field of his labours and its results--the opera--was
unknown to her. In consequence of the deadly wound inflicted upon her,
she had never been able to conquer herself sufficiently to witness the
triumphs which his operas obtained in her native town, those triumphs
which were founded on the ruins of her life's happiness; and what she
learned from the newspapers, or through strangers to whom her near
connection with the admired composer was not known, only plunged the
dagger deeper into her soul. Now, for the first time, the tone poet,
Rinaldo, appeared before her in the most genial of his works, now she
learned to know the power of those notes which so often had conquered
friends and foes, and even carried away opponents to admiration, and
the effect was overpowering. Half bent forward, listening breathlessly,
the young wife followed every note of the music; she was now still
capable, amid all the beauties which developed themselves before her,
of gazing into the dark depths which were disclosed therein. For the
first time she understood her husband's character entirely and wholly,
this glowing artist's nature with all its contradictions, with its
storms, tempests and struggles; for the first time she comprehended
what the deeply injured wife _would_ not comprehend until now, the
inner need of nature which compelled Reinhold to tear himself loose
from the confined fetters of provincial every-day life and to follow
the call of his genius, which made this catastrophe for him a struggle
between life and death.

That he also broke those bonds, which under every circumstance ought
to have been held sacred by him, that he sacrificed the duties of a
father and a husband, who forsook his own for what would have been
justifiable independence of a free man, could not be exonerated even by
his genius; but in Ella's heart there now dawned, softly suggested, the
question--what had she herself been in those days to her husband, that
she should have required him to resist temptation, which came before
him in the guise of a Beatrice Biancona, and what could she offer
against a passion, whose glowing romance had, from the first, ruled the
artist more than the man. The wife entrusted to him was then far too
much oppressed with the burden of her education and surroundings, to be
able to raise herself in any degree to his height; in her place there
stood another in all the glory of her beauty and talent, and this other
showed the young composer the path of liberty and fame. He had
succumbed! Ella felt from the depths of her inmost heart that he would
not have done so, could she have been to him then what she was to-day.

For the last time the curtain was drawn up, and until the last note
Reinhold showed that he had been true to himself. The finale was as
grand as the entire opera, and created a thrilling effect. Yet the work
was wanting in one thing, the highest, for which not all the brilliant
flashes of genius could atone, namely, harmony with itself. It had no
peace, and awoke none in the minds of the audience. The composer
appeared to have infected his work with the conflict which lay
unappeased in his own breast; it was after all but the despair of life,
of happiness, of himself. When the nightlong tempest had raged until
exhausted, no fluttering morning's red peeped forth, promising a new
and better day; on the wide, dreary waste of waters only the wreck was
driven about, and clinging to it the shipwrecked traveller reached his
native coast at last--too late to be saved. When wearied and wounded to
death he sinks down there; once more is heard completed, as if 'twere
ghostly tones from the far off unapproachable distance, that dream-like
melody for the first time ringing out full and perfect in death, and
the notes fade and die softly, as the life-blood ebbs away.

The reception of this opera by the audience far surpassed any success
which Rinaldo had ever gained. Surely this music and performance were
certain of approbation from a southern public. There every spark took
fire, there each flame ignited and spread from one to another. One
would have imagined the applause must have exhausted itself at last,
the acclamations must have moderated themselves, but to-day even the
most exalted enthusiasm appeared capable of rising still higher. After
the close of each act, after every scene, it broke forth anew, and
ended at last in a regular uproar with which the whole house demanded
the composer's appearance most tumultuously.

Signor Rinaldo let them wait long before he acceded to this demand, he
allowed Signora Biancona to come forward alone, again and again, in
despite of all the stormy cries which were for him. Only at the end of
the opera, when the calls resembled a riot and the enthusiasm could no
longer be controlled, only then did he show himself and was greeted in
such a manner by the audience as must have satisfied the most
immeasurable ambition.

Proudly and calmly Reinhold stepped on to the stage; he stood almost
immovable amid the enthusiastic acclamations. He had long since
learned to accept all triumphs as something due to him, and great
as were to-day's, not for one moment did they deprive him of his
self-possession. His dark eyes swept slowly along the rows of boxes,
but suddenly remained fascinated at a certain point. It was as though
an electric shock had at once passed through his whole being, he
started so violently, and his glance flashed--that glance of passionate
delight for which Beatrice tonight had in vain laid out all the power
of her talent; and if the fair head which had only become visible for
one moment did disappear again at the next, yet he knew who was
concealed behind the curtains of the box, who was witness of his

"Eleonore, that was imprudent!" said Erlau, also retreating from the
balustrade. "You leaned too far forward. You were seen."

The young wife made no reply; she stood erect, both hands grasping
the back of the seat from which she had risen in perfect
self-forgetfulness. The large eyes, full of tears, were still directed
unabashed to the stage where Reinhold just then came forward again to
thank the audience, that cheering excited crowd, for whom he was the
sole centre of attraction. All the thousand eyes were fixed upon him
alone; all these lips and hands announced his victory, and while
wreaths and branches of laurel fell at his feet, his name, as if
carried aloft by one surging wave, resounded back in a thousand echoes.

                           *   *   *   *   *

At the ---- Embassy a large _soirée_ took place, the first
entertainment of its kind for the season. A numerous assembly of guests
moved through the magnificent apartments of the ambassadorial hotel.
Trains swept and uniforms flashed in the rooms beaming with light and
scented with the perfume of flowers; near charming ladies' faces and
distinguished wearers of orders might be seen many grave, noteworthy
figures in simple civilian's dress, and amongst all these well-known
forms and names, many foreign ones were mixed, who, according to their
appearance and title, claimed more or less attention, to lose
themselves again in the throng of guests.

Reinhold and Captain Almbach were also amongst those invited; the
former was, as usual, the object of flattery and compliments from all
sides, although demonstrated rather less noisily than so lately in the
theatre. Reinhold had for long been considered one of the greatest
celebrities in society. His new opera made him quite the lion of the
season, and nowhere could he show himself without being surrounded and
congratulated by every one present.

The charming representative of his work, Signora Biancona, shared this
universal attention with him. Unfortunately, this time it was
impossible to express the admiration of both at the same time, as they
seemed rather to avoid than seek each other. Observant lookers-on
declared that some slight rupture must have occurred between them, as
they had arrived separately and never once drew together. Nevertheless
the actress was continually surrounded with admiration, due, probably,
in no small degree to her beauty. Beatrice understood perfectly how to
"drape" herself for the drawing-room as well as for the stage, and if
her toilette generally displayed something fantastic, it harmonised so
peculiarly with her style of appearance that she only appeared the more
fascinating. The singer preferred black, like many of her country
women, and had selected it again to-day, but the dress composed of
velvet, satin and lace was still most extravagantly magnificent, and
rich jewels glistened on the dark ground. Single crimson flowers,
apparently scattered carelessly here and there in her hair, seemed to
fasten the black lace veil, and with these the Italian's dark
complexion and burning flash of her eyes, formed a whole, which if
intended to create an effect, certainly attained this result in the
highest degree.

"Ah, Herr Almbach, so I find you here?" asked Lord Elton, who, glad to
find any one with whom he could speak English, came up to Captain
Almbach. "I wanted to see you for several days. Your brother's new

"For mercy's sake, my Lord, do not talk about that!" interrupted Hugo,
with a gesture of horror, "since the day of its performance I have been
nearly plagued to death with my brother's opera; everybody feels in
duty bound to congratulate me too. How often have I wished for a
revolution, an earthquake, or at least a slight outbreak of Vesuvius,
so that at least something else may be talked of in society."

Lord Elton shook his head half-laughingly, half-disapprovingly. "Herr
Almbach, you should not speak so recklessly, if a stranger heard you he
might misunderstand you."

"Oh, I have amused myself several times by getting rid of some of his
worst admirers by such expressions of my sentiments," said Hugo, quite
unconcerned. "I do not feel obliged to offer myself upon the altar of
my brother's popularity by listening to their speeches. How Reinhold
can endure this triumph so long, I cannot conceive. Artist natures must
be very peculiarly organised in this respect; my sailor's nerves would
have given way long since."

Lord Elton seemed to enjoy the Captain's humour again to-day; he
remained steadily at his side, and was a silent, but yet very attentive
listener to all the remarks which Hugo as usual poured forth
mercilessly upon every known and unknown person.

"If I only knew why Marchese Tortoni suddenly makes such a comet-like
course through the room," mocked he; "that door seems to be the magnet
which attracts him irresistibly--ah! yes, now indeed I can understand
this move."

The last words sounded so unmistakably angry, that Lord Elton also
looked attentively at the entrance. There appeared Consul Erlau with
Ella on his arm. Marchese Tortoni was immediately at her side, and all
three passed through the doorway. The lady wore an apparently simple
white costume, but one could see that Erlau liked to display himself as
a millionaire, even so far as his adopted daughter was concerned. The
white lace dress, which floated so lightly around Ella's delicate
figure, far surpassed in costliness most of those heavy velvet and
satin robes which rustled through the room, and the row of pearls which
adorned her neck was of such enormous value, that many of the sparkling
jewels were as nothing beside it. Her fair head merely wore its natural
ornament; no diamond, not even a flower, decorated the rich blonde
plaits, whose faint golden glimmer harmonised so wondrously well with
the delicate pink colour of her complexion. That figure required no
studied artifice of the toilet to prove itself beautiful, it was so
without any such aid, and if the ladies' glances soon discovered what
cost was concealed under this seemingly simple costume, the gentlemen
had no less keen eyes for the poetry of the apparition which sailed
past them.

The three had arrived in the middle of the room, when, by chance, one
of the groups in whose midst Reinhold had been, suddenly broke up, and
he himself appeared standing almost immediately opposite to his wife.
It was not the first encounter of this kind between the husband and
wife, and they must always be prepared for the possibility of meeting
on such occasions. And so Ella seemed to be; only for a moment did her
arm tremble on that of her companion, and a fleeting colour came and
went in her cheeks; then, however, the large eyes swept calmly on, and
she turned to the Marchese, who was telling her the names of some of
the persons present. Reinhold, on the contrary, stood as powerless as
if he had forgotten everything around him. Although his wife's present,
appearance was no longer strange to him, yet she looked quite different
by the dim lamp-light of the garden room at Villa Fiorina, in the
gloomy, rainy light of the verandah on that stormy day, and in the
half-dark background of the opera box. He had never seen her as
to-night, in the dazzling flood of light in the saloon, in the airy
pale dress; and, despite the place and surroundings, it came wafted to
him, as a recollection of that dream-like morning hour at Mirando, when
the sea broke so deeply blue beneath the castle terrace, and the scent
of flowers arose from the gardens, while the white figure leaned
against the marble parapet--certainly her face was turned from him
then, but now it was turned to another. At the sight of Cesario, who
still maintained his place by her side, dream and recollection
vanished; before Reinhold rose his brother's words which had robbed him
of all peace almost ever since that conversation. "Perhaps for
another," resounded in his heart. An ardent, threatening glance fell
upon Cesario; returning to the circle he had barely left, he withdrew
with a violent movement from the Marchese's greeting and address.

The latter looked at him astounded. He had not the remotest idea of the
cause of this sudden avoidance, but he suspected for long already, that
more than enmity only, as he had imagined, lay between Reinhold and
Erlau. It had not escaped him that some secret connection had taken
place between Ella and his friend, and to-day's encounter confirmed
this notion only too strongly. Cesario was too proud to take refuge in
espionage like Beatrice, and so he endured an uncertainty, whose
explanation he had as yet no right to require of Ella or the Consul,
and which Reinhold would not explain to him.

The German merchant was almost a stranger in the gathering, yet his
companion's appearance soon began to create a sensation. Erlau had, to
be sure, knitted his brows at the unexpected sight of Reinhold, but
when he perceived that Ella remained apparently quite calm, the meeting
rather gave him satisfaction. The Consul was evidently very proud of
his adopted daughter, and noted the admiring glances and whispered
remarks which followed her everywhere. He told himself that her former
husband must see these glances, must hear these remarks, and with a
scarcely concealed triumphant expression he walked on past the groups.

The throng of guests moving up and down, and the numerous reception
rooms, made it easy for those to avoid each other who did not wish to

About a quarter of an hour after Erlau's arrival, Captain Almbach drew
near to greet him.

"Are you here, Herr Captain Almbach?" asked the Consul, astonished.

Hugo made a slightly ironical bow. "I have the honour. Does it
displease you so much?"

"Certainly not! You know I am always pleased to see you; but out of our
own house one only meets you in your brother's company. It appears
impossible to go anywhere in society without running up against Signor

"He is intimate with the master of the house," explained Hugo.

"Naturally," growled the Consul. "I should like to find one circle that
does not adore him, and in which he does not reign. I could not refuse
our Ambassador's invitation, and wished, too, to show my poor Eleonore
something more than merely a sick-room. Have you spoken to her?"

"Of course," said Captain Almbach, looking across the room where Ella
was standing engaged in conversation with the Marchese, Lord Elton, and
some ladies; "that is to say as much as Marchese Tortoni made it
possible for me to do so. He claims the lion's share of the
conversation. I retire modestly."

"Yes, my dear Herr Captain, you must accustom yourself to that,"
laughed Erlau. "In society Ella is seldom at liberty to converse with
one alone. I wish you could see her do the honours of my drawing-room.
Here, we are almost entire strangers, otherwise I assure you Marchese
Tortoni and Lord Elton would not be the only ones who would annoy you
in this way."

Ella in the meanwhile had finished her conversation, and left the group
with a slight bow, in order to return to her adopted father. As the
Marchese, much to his displeasure, was detained by one of the ladies,
Ella was crossing the room quite alone, when suddenly, in the middle of
it, a dark velvet dress pushed past her so closely and rudely that it
seemed as if done on purpose. Looking up, she perceived close to her
the beautiful but, at this moment, alarming countenance of Signora

Ella betrayed neither fear nor confusion, she took her lace dress up
slowly, and moved slightly aside. There lay on her part a quiet, but
very determined protest against any contact in this movement, and
Beatrice seemed to understand it only too well, still she came even
nearer. Ella felt a hot breath close to her cheek, and heard the
whispered words--

"Signora, I beg for a moment's audience!"

Ella answered with a look of astonishment and indignation. "You--of
me?" asked she, equally low, but with an unmistakable intonation.

"I beg for a few moments," repeated Beatrice, "you will grant me them,


"No?" said the Italian's voice, in hardly concealed scorn. "Then you
fear me so much that you dare not be alone with me even for a short

                              CHAPTER VI.

Signora Biancona appeared to have touched the right chord. The bare
possibility of such an idea broke down Ella's opposition. "I will hear
you," replied she, quickly, "but where?"

"In the little verandah at the right of the gallery. We shall be alone
there; I will go first, you need only follow me."

With an almost imperceptible motion, Ella bowed her head. The few words
had been exchanged so rapidly and softly, that no one had overheard a
syllable, no one even noticed the close vicinity of the two ladies,
who, at that moment, were only surrounded by strangers; therefore, none
remarked it when Signora Biancona immediately afterwards disappeared
from the room, and Ella a few minutes later followed her example.

The gallery, adorned with statues and paintings, next to the
reception-room was almost empty. Only few guests had sought the cooler
apartment, at the end of which a glass door led into a half-open
verandah, which by day probably offered an extensive view over the
surrounding gardens, but tonight had been included in the entertaining
rooms, as it also had been decorated with flowering and foliage plants,
and if not so brilliantly lighted as the saloons, yet was sufficiently
so; at any rate it was quite empty, and the half-hidden room, lying
somewhat apart, which was unknown to most of the guests, offered the
possibility of an undisturbed conversation.

Beatrice was already there when Ella's lace dress rustled through the
doorway, but the young wife remained very close to it, without
advancing even a single step beyond. With just the same unbending,
proud bearing which she had shown at the first meeting in the
_locanda_, did she now await the commencement of this half-compulsory
interview. The Italian's eyes hung with a truly devouring expression on
the white figure which stood opposite to her, flooded with the light of
the lamps, and whose beauty moved her to the bitterest hatred.

"Signora Eleonore Almbach!" began she at last, "I regret having to
explain to you that your _incognito_ is already betrayed. For the
present only to me, but I do not believe that it can be long

"And upon whom would it fall?" asked Ella quietly. "I did not spare
myself when I assumed this _incognito_.

"Whom then? Perhaps Rinaldo?"

"I do not know Signor Rinaldo."

The words sounded so icily positive, that it was impossible to
entertain any doubt as to what she meant to express, and Beatrice was
silenced for a moment by them. It was quite beyond her to understand
the pride which could not even forgive a Rinaldo for a breach of faith
once made.

"Indeed, I was not prepared for this denial," replied she. "If

"You wished to speak to me," interrupted Ella, "and I promised to
listen to you. That the decision has cost me something, I need hardly
explain to you; at least I did not expect to hear this name from you,
nor do I wish it. Let our conversation be as short as possible. What
have you to say to me?"

"Above all, I have to beg you to employ a different tone in our
interview," said Beatrice, with irritation. "You are speaking to
Beatrice Biancona, whose name is surely known to you in other ways than
merely through our personal connection with one another, and who may
indeed endure hatred and enmity on the part of an opponent, but not the
contempt you are pleased to express."

Ella remained perfectly unmoved at this demand. She stepped a little
aside, under cover of the tall foliage plants, so that she might not be
seen from the gallery, and then turned again to the speaker.

"I did not seek this interview. It was you, Signora, who to some extent
forced me to it, therefore you must allow me to preserve the tone which
I deem to be suitable towards you; none other is at my disposal."

A glance of wild, deadly hatred shot out of Beatrice's eyes, but she
felt that if she now gave way to her passion, it would rob her of all
power, and prepare her antagonist a new triumph. She therefore crossed
her arms, and replied with annihilating scorn--

"You make me do severe penance, Signora Almbach, for having been the
conqueror in a struggle whose prize was your husband's love."

"You are mistaken," responded Ella, coldly. "I _never_ struggle for any
man's love. I leave that to women who first gain such a prize with
difficulty, and then must ever tremble lest they lose it."

The last words seemed to have touched a sore spot. Beatrice paled.

"Certainly you had a right to claim him on the strength of the bridal
altar," said she, still retaining the former contemptuous tone. "Only,
alas, even this talisman does not protect one from the misfortune of
being forsaken."

Now it was she who aimed mercilessly for a wound which she herself had
made, but the arrow glanced harmlessly back. Ella drew herself up erect
and proud--

"Certainly not from the pain of such a fate, but at any rate from its
shame. For the forsaken wife there remain the interest, the sympathy of
the whole world; for the forsaken lover--only contempt."

"Only that?" said Beatrice grimly. "You mistake, Signora; one other
thing remains for her--revenge!"

"Is that intended for a threat to me?" asked Ella. "Whoever challenges
your revenge, may seek to protect herself against it; I am free from

"Of course, you came from the north where passion is not known, as we
understand the word," cried the Italian. "With you prejudices, duties,
the world's opinion, stand for ever and ever in the front--a woman's
_love_ only comes in the second rank."

"Certainly in the second rank." Ella's tone was now one of unconcealed
scorn. "In the first stands woman's honour; we are accustomed to place
it unconditionally and everywhere in front--a prejudice certainly from
which Signora Biancona has long since emancipated herself."

Ella did not know the rival whom she irritated, otherwise she would not
perhaps have ventured to let the pride of the deeply injured wife speak
in so crushing a manner; the effect was an appalling one.

It was as if all at once a demon sprang up in the Italian, as if her
whole being really shot forth "death and destruction," so flashed her
dark eyes; a half smothered cry of fury broke from her lips, and
forgetting everything around her, she took one or two steps forward.

Ella shrank back at this more than threatening movement--

"What does that mean, Signora?" said she firmly. "Violence perhaps? You
forget where we are. I see that I was wrong to accede to this
interview, it is high time to end it."

Beatrice appeared to recover her senses to some extent; at least she
stood still, although the unnatural expression of her eyes had not
faded; convulsively her hand crushed the black lace veil which fell
over her shoulders; she did not notice that in doing so one of the red
flowers detached itself from her hair, and fell to the ground.

"You shall learn to repent these words--this hour, Signora," hissed she
through her clenched teeth. "You do not know revenge? Very well, I know
it, and shall know how to show it to you and him."

She swept away and left the young wife alone behind, who could not
bring herself to re-enter the drawing-room immediately after this
scene, and encounter Erlau's anxious enquiries. Drawing a long breath,
she sat down on one of the seats, and rested her head on her hand. This
wild hatred and threat of vengeance did shake her, but it showed her
the truth also, through all veils. Only the successful rival is
hated, only what is lost is avenged, or at least what is given up for
lost--the infatuation was at an end.

But whom did these threatening words concern? Reinhold? The wife paled;
she herself had offered a firm bold front to the menace; but at this
thought a breath as of trembling fear passed through her soul, and as
if in half unconscious pain she pressed her hand to her bosom and

"Oh, my God, that cannot be. She loves him surely."

"Eleonore!" said a voice quite close to her.

Ella started up. She recognised the voice at the first sound, even
before she saw the figure, which stood on the other side of the
doorway, as though it did not dare to pass. Reinhold seemed to gain
courage when he saw no repelling movement, and entered completely.

"What is it?" asked he uneasily, "I find you alone here in this distant
room, and just now I saw another come from it and hurry through the
gallery. You spoke--"

"To Signora Biancona," added Ella, as he stopped.

"Did she insult you?" cried Reinhold irately. "I know her look, which
betokened no good. I almost suspected it when I saw her disappear so
suddenly from the drawing-room, and you were to be seen no more. I came
too late, as it appears. Did she insult you, Ella?"

His young wife rose, and made a movement as if to leave--

"If she had done so, you understand surely that your protection would
be the last which I should claim."

She tried to pass him, and reach the door. Reinhold made no attempt to
detain her, but his glance rested upon her with such sad reproach, that
she stopped involuntarily.

"Eleonore," said he softly, "one more question before you go--only one.
You were at my opera--why deny it? I saw you, as you saw me. What urged
you to go?"

Ella lowered her eyes, as if it were a fault of which she was accused,
and a treacherous warmth flowed over her brow and cheeks, as she
hesitatingly replied--

"I wanted to become acquainted with the composer, Rinaldo, in his

"And now that you have become acquainted with him?"

"Do you wish for my judgment upon your new creation? The world says it
is a masterwork."

"It was a confession," said he with strong emphasis. "I did not,
indeed, imagine that you would hear it, but as it was so--did you
understand it?"

His wife was silent.

"I only saw your eyes for one moment," continued he passionately, "but
I saw that tears stood in them. Did you understand me, Ella?"

"I comprehended that the author of such tones could not endure the
narrow circle of my parent's house," replied Ella firmly, "and that
perhaps he chose the best for himself when he broke through it and
plunged into a life full of warmth and passion, such as his music
paints. You have sacrificed everything to your genius--I bear you
testimony that this genius was worthy of the sacrifice."

The last words sounded intensely bitter; they seemed to have touched
the same chord in Reinhold.

"You do not know how cruel you are," said he in a like tone, "or rather
you know it only too well, and make me suffer tenfold for every pang I
once caused you. What indeed is it to you, if I rise or succumb in a
life which the world deems unequalled happiness, which I often, so
often already, would have given away for a single hour of rest and
peace! What is it to you, if your husband, the father of your child, be
devoured with wild longing for reconciliation with a past which he
could never quite tear out of his heart, if at last he despairs of
everything and of himself! He has merited his fate; therefore the rod
was broken over him, and the elevated, virtuous pride of his wife
denies him every word of reconciliation, denies him even the sight of
his child--"

"For Heaven's sake, Reinhold, control yourself," interrupted Ella
anxiously. "We are not alone here--if a stranger heard us!"

He laughed bitterly--

"Well, then he would hear the great crime, that the husband has for
once dared to speak to his wife. And if all the world learn it, I care
no longer upon whom the discovery, whom the condemnation falls. Ella
you must remain," interrupted he beside himself, as he saw she wished
to depart. "For once I must ease my breast of what I have carried about
with me for months, and as you are at other times so inaccessible to
me, you must listen to me now and here. You must I say."

He seized her arm, so as to detain her by force; but at the same moment
Marchese Tortoni appeared at the door, and stepped almost furiously
between them.

Reinhold let his wife's arm go, and drew back. Cesario's appearance
showed him that the latter must have been present at least during the
last scene; with dark brow and a grave look the Marchese placed himself
at once by Ella's side.

"May I offer you my arm, Signora?" said he, very positively. "Your
uncle is uneasy at your absence. You will allow me to accompany you to

Reinhold had already mastered his astonishment, but not his excitement.
The interruption at such a moment irritated him to excess, and the
sight of Cesario at his wife's side robbed him completely of his

"I request that you will withdraw, Cesario," said he violently and
dictatorially, with that superiority which he had always employed
towards his young friend and admirer, but he forgot that he no longer
held the foremost place with the latter. The Marchese's eyes flashed
with indignation, as he replied--

"The tone of your request is as singular, Rinaldo, as the request
itself; you will therefore understand if I do not accede to it. I
certainly did not understand the German words which you exchanged with
Signora Erlau, but yet I saw that she was to be compelled to stay when
she wished to go. I fear she requires protection--pray command me,

"You will protect her from _me_?" cried Reinhold, becoming excited. "I
forbid _you_ to approach this lady!"

"You appear to forget that it is not Signora Biancona in this case,"
said the Marchese, cuttingly. "You may have a right there to forbid or
allow, but here--"

"I have it here more than any other."

"You lie."

"Cesario! You will answer for this to me," cried Reinhold angrily.

"As you please," replied the Marchese, equally violently.

Ella had up to this time tried in vain to interrupt the sentences which
were exchanged rapidly between the wildly excited men; they did not
listen to her, but the last words, whose meaning she understood only
too well, showed her the whole extent of the danger of this unhappy
meeting. With quick decision she stepped between them, and said with a
determination which commanded attention even at this moment--

"Marchese Tortoni, do not proceed any farther! It is a

Cesario turned at once to her. "Pardon, Signora! We forgot your
presence;" said he more calmly. "But you overlook the fact that in
Signor Rinaldo's words there lies an insult to you, which I am not
inclined to tolerate. I cannot and shall not retract my words, unless
you were to convince me that he is right."

Ella struggled with herself in agonising indecision. Reinhold stood
silent and gloomy; she saw that he would not speak now, that with this
silence he wished to compel her, either to deny or acknowledge him as
her husband; but to deny him, meant in this case to call forth the
worst consequences. The insult had taken place, and with the two men's
characters, a fatal meeting was inevitable. If it were not withdrawn,
no choice remained to the wife.

"Signor Rinaldo goes too far when he still claims rights which he once
possessed," replied she at last. "But no insult lay in his words, he
spoke--of his wife!"

Reinhold breathed more freely--at last she confessed it before Cesario.
The latter stood as if struck by lightning. Often as he had sought for
a solution of the enigma, he had never expected one such as this.

"Of his wife!" repeated he almost stupified.

"We have been separated for years," said Ella voicelessly.

This explanation restored the Marchese's steadiness. He immediately
guessed the cause of the separation; did he not know Beatrice Biancona?
The one name made all clear to him, and left no doubt as to whose side
the fault lay on now. The Captain was right in his conjecture; the
discovery, instead of frightening Cesario away, rather made him break
forth in passionate partizanship for the beloved and injured wife.

"Well then, Signora," said he quickly, "it only rests with you, whether
you will recognise a claim, which Rinaldo founds upon a past, which
exists no longer, and which he himself surely destroyed. You alone have
to decide whether I may still approach you, if in future I may dedicate
a feeling to you, which I confess openly is now more than the cold
admiration of a stranger, and which one day you must accept or refuse."

He spoke with all the ardour of a long suppressed emotion, but also
with the noble, immovable confidence of a man, to whom the beloved one
is elevated above all doubt, and the language was sufficiently plain;
it pressed urgently for a decision, from which the wife shrank back

"Yes, indeed Eleonore, you must decide," said Reinhold, now taking up
the word. His voice all at once sounded unnaturally calm, but the
glance which hung openly on his wife with an expression as if in the
next moment the fiat of life or death should fall from her lips, showed
better how it was with him. For one second's duration both their eyes
met, and Ella could have been no woman had she not now seen that the
most perfect, annihilating revenge lay in her hand. One single "Yes"
from her lips would avenge all that she had suffered. Slowly she turned
to Cesario.

"Marchese Tortoni--I beg you to desist--I still consider myself bound."

A short portentous pause followed the words. Ella saw what a struggle
between pain and pride of the man, who would not show how deeply he had
been struck, went forward in the young Italian's beautiful features;
she saw him bow to her, without speaking a word, and turn to go; but
courage failed her to cast a glance to the other side.

"Cesario!" cried Reinhold, going a step towards him as if in rising
repentance. "We are friends."

"We _were_ so," replied the Marchese, coldly. "You surely comprehend,
Rinaldo, that this hour separates us. My accusation against you I
must certainly retract! your wife's explanation exonerates you from
it--farewell, Signora."

He left the husband and wife alone. Neither spoke during the next few
minutes. Ella bent low over one of the perfumed flowers, and a few
tears fell upon the broad shining leaves. Then her name was borne to
her ear by a trembling breath--she seemed not to hear it.

"Eleonore!" repeated Reinhold.

She raised her eyes to him. Intense pain still rested on her face, but
her voice sounded under perfect control again.

"What have I said then? That I shall never make use of the freedom
which your step gave me? That was certain from the first; without this
the experience of my marriage protects me from any second one. I have
my child, and in it the object and happiness of my life. I require no
other love."

"You, certainly not," said Reinhold, with quivering lip, "and my doom
is indifferent to you--you have always loved your child only, and never
me. For his sake you could break through all the prejudices of your
bringing up and become another woman; you could not do it for your

"Did he then ever give me such love as I found in my child?" asked
Ella, in a very low voice. "Let it be, Reinhold! You know who stands
between us, and will ever stand."

"Beatrice? I will not accuse her, although she was more to blame for my
departure then than you perhaps believe. Yet, I was always master of my
will--why did I yield to the fascination? But if I have now recognised
its deception, and tear myself away--"

"Will you forsake her, as you forsook me?" interrupted his wife, in
reproachful condemnation. "Do you think that _that_ could reconcile us?
I have lost all belief in you, Reinhold, and it will not be restored to
me, even if you sacrifice a second person now. I have no cause for
sparing or considering this Biancona, but she loves you; she offered up
all for you, and you yourself gave her an undisputed right of
possession for years. If even you would now destroy the fetters you
forged for yourself she would still part us for ever. It is too late; I
_cannot_ trust you any more."

Immeasurable sadness rang in the last words, but at the same time
unbending firmness. In the next moment Ella had left the room. Reinhold
was alone.

                           *   *   *   *   *

It was on the day following this entertainment, already towards
evening, when Captain Almbach entered Reinhold's drawing-room.

"Is my brother still not visible?" asked he of the servant who met him.

The latter shrugged his shoulders, and pointed across to the locked
door of the study.

"You know, Signor, that we dare not disturb him. Signor Rinaldo has
locked himself in."

"Since this morning!" murmured Captain Almbach; "that begins, indeed,
to be alarming. I must absolutely find out what has happened."

He went to the study door, and knocked in such a manner that it could
not be unheard.

"Reinhold, open the door! It is I."

No answer came from within.

"Reinhold, twice to-day have I demanded admittance to you in vain. If
you do not open the door now, I shall think some misfortune has
happened, and burst it open in a minute."

The threat seemed to have some effect. Steps were heard inside the
room; the bolt was pushed back, and Reinhold, standing before his
brother who entered quickly, said impatiently--

"Why this disturbance? Can I never be alone?"

"Never!" said Hugo, reproachfully. "Since this morning you have been
inaccessible to everybody--even to me; and your face shows that you are
more fitted to bear anything than being alone. That unfortunate
_soirée_ last night; Heaven knows what befel you all! Ella suddenly
disappeared from the room, and I am convinced you spoke together.
Marchese Tortoni, who also became invisible, returned with a
countenance as if he had received his verdict of death, and left the
party the next moment. I find you in the gallery in a state of
excitement beyond description, and Donna Beatrice looked like the last
judgment day, as she entered her carriage. I bet that she alone has
caused all the mischief. What is the matter between you?"

Reinhold folded his arms, and looked gloomily at the ground. "Nothing
more now--we are separated from henceforward."

Captain Almbach stepped back in intense surprise. "What does it mean?
You accompanied her."

"Yes, she knew how to manage that, and so at last it came to a decision
between us."

"You have broken with her?" asked Hugo.

"I--no," replied Reinhold, with a bitter expression; "it was told me
plainly enough that I might sacrifice no 'second.' It was Beatrice who
brought the rupture violently about. Why must she force me to an
interview so immediately after it had become clear to me what I had
lost for her sake? She called me to account for my thoughts and
feelings, and I told her the truth which she demanded--mercilessly
perhaps, but if I was cruel, she challenged me to it ten times over."

"I can imagine it, from what I know of Biancona," said Hugo, in an
under tone.

"From what you know of her?" repeated his brother. "Do not believe it!
Did I not only really learn to know her last evening? It was a scene; I
tell you, Hugo, even you, with all your energy, would not have been
equal to her. One must have something of a fiend in one's nature to
resist such a woman. That hour put its seal upon our separation."

The words were full of gloomy moodiness, but betrayed no relief, no
removal of any weight. Captain Almbach shook his head.

"I fear the story will certainly not end there. This Beatrice is not a
woman to waste away in helpless tears. Be upon your guard, Reinhold!"

"She threatened me with all her vengeance," said Reinhold darkly, "and
so far as I know her, she will keep to it. Let her then! I do not
tremble before what I called up myself--with happiness I had parted

"And if this separation continued irretrievable, do you not believe in
the possibility of a reconciliation with Ella?" asked Hugo, gravely.

"No, Hugo, that is over. I know that she cannot forget. Not one voice
in her heart speaks for me now, if it even ever spoke. The cleft
between us is too wide, too deep; no bridge leads across it now. I have
given up the last hope."

The brothers' conversation was interrupted at this moment by Jonas, who
entered hastily.

Reinhold looked up, annoyed that his brother's servant should venture
to enter his study so unceremoniously, and Hugo had a rebuke ready on
his lips, when a glance at the sailor's face arrested it.

"What is it, Jonas?" asked he uneasily. "Is it anything important?"

"Herr Captain!"--the sailor's voice had quite lost its usual quiet
tone, it trembled audibly----"I have just come from Herr Erlau's
house--you know that I often go there now--the old gentleman is beside
himself; all the servants are running about--Annunziata cries her eyes
out, although she really is not to blame for it, and young Frau Erlau
just now----"

"What has happened?" cried Reinhold, with the dread of presentiment.
"Some misfortune?"

"The child is gone," said Jonas, desperately; "since this forenoon. If
they do not find it again, I believe the mother will lose her life."

"Who? Little Reinhold?" enquired Hugo, while his brother stared at the
messenger of evil, without power over a single word. "How could it
happen? Was no one there to look after him?"

"He was playing in the garden as usual," related Jonas, "and Annunziata
with him; she went into the house for a quarter of an hour, as she
often does. When she returned, the garden door was open, the child
gone, and not a trace of him to be found. They have roused all the
neighbourhood, searched all the environs, but no ponds nor pits, where
the little one could come to grief, are anywhere near, and if he had
run away, he is big enough, after all, to find his way back again. No
one can understand the mystery."

The brothers' looks met. In both their eyes stood the same terrible
thought. The next moment, Reinhold, pale as a corpse, and trembling
with excitement in all his limbs, seized his hat from the table.

                              CHAPTER VII.

"I will soon procure the solution," cried Reinhold. "I know where to
seek it. You go first to Ella, Hugo! I will follow--perhaps with the

The more thoughtful Hugo caught him quickly by the arm.

"Reinhold, I implore you, do not be too hasty! We do not know the
particulars so far. The child may have strayed away, and, as it does
not speak Italian, not have found its way back yet. Perhaps it has
already been brought home to its mother. What are you going to do?"

"Demand the restoration of my son," cried Reinhold, with fearful
wildness. "That, then, was the vengeance which this fury had thought
of. Ella and me--she would strike us both with one single deadly blow!
but I will succeed in reaching her. Let me alone, Hugo! I must go to

"That would be of no use," cried Captain Almbach, whom the expression
on his brother's face alarmed, and who endeavoured in vain to restrain
him. "If your suspicion be well founded, she will know, too, how to
play her part. You will only irritate her more. We must adopt other

Reinhold broke away by main force. "Leave me alone; if any one can, I
shall compel her to deliver up my child! If I do not compel her--well,
a catastrophe must ensue."

He rushed away. Beatrice's house lay rather far from his; yet he
traversed the distance in less than a quarter of an hour. Usually, he
required no announcement there; all the doors flew open before him; he
was wont to be considered as master here. To-day the servant who opened
the door assured him positively the Signora could not be spoken to by
any one, not even Signor Rinaldo; she was very ill, and had strictly

Reinhold did not let the man complete his sentence. He thrust him
aside, hurried through the ante-room, and tore open the drawing-room
door. The room was empty, equally so the adjoining boudoir; the doors
of the remaining rooms stood wide open, nowhere was she whom he sought,
not a sign of her; she had evidently left the house.

Reinhold saw that he came too late, and in the overwhelming
consciousness of this discovery, he felt vaguely that Beatrice's flight
had saved him from a crime. In his present state of mind he would have
been capable of anything towards the abductor of his child. By calling
all his strength together, he forced himself to be calm, and returned
to the servant, who had not dared to follow him, but stood frightened
and uncertain in the anteroom.

"Signora has gone then--since when?"

The servant hesitated in his reply. The questioner's face appeared to
betoken no good.

"Marco, you must answer me! You see that I shall not be deterred by any
excuse; you seek to deceive me, according to the Signora's commands.
Once more, when did she go, and where?"

Marco was evidently not initiated into the secret, as he was not at all
prepared for this question. However, he may have listened to part of
the scene which took place the preceding evening between his mistress
and Signor Rinaldo, and explained to-day's affair in his own way. It
was quite in keeping with Beatrice's violent character, that she should
now have left the town for a few days, if only to render it impossible
to continue the performance of Rinaldo's opera, and that the latter
should be beside himself with anger was easily comprehended. It was
not, indeed, the first disagreement between the two, and all quarrels
so far had always ended in a reconciliation. With the prospect of such
a readjustment of affairs, the servant was clever enough not to injure
himself with the ruling side, and therefore intimated that Signora had
left the house early this morning, with the distinct order that all
enquiries were to be replied to "that she was ill." She had driven away
in her own carriage; where, he did not know.

"And where did she drive to?" asked Reinhold, breathlessly. "Have you
not heard what address she gave the coachman?"

"I believe--to Maestro Gianelli's house."

"Gianelli! then he, too, is in the plot. Perhaps he may still be
reached. Marco, so soon as Signora arrives, or any news of her, let me
know at once! At once! I will pay you with gold for every word. Do not
forget this!"

With these words, almost thrown at the servant in his flight, Reinhold
hastened away. Marco looked astounded after him. To-day's scene was
enacted much more tempestuously than any former ones under similar
circumstances, and Signor Rinaldo's excitement surpassed anything he
had seen before. What then had happened? The maestro could not possibly
have eloped with Biancona? It really almost looked like it.

In Consul Erlau's house naturally intense confusion and excitement
reigned. Captain Almbach, who had hurried there without delay,
undertook at once the management of the enquiries which had been
already set on foot with the greatest energy and caution, but even he
could not discover anything. In the meanwhile, the one fact was
clear--that the child had disappeared tracelessly, and so remained. As
to whether it had left the garden voluntarily, whether it had been
tempted out, all supposition was at a loss. No one had noticed anything
unusual, no one had missed the little one until the moment when
Annunziata returned to fetch him. The poor little Italian was dissolved
in tears, and yet she was quite blameless in the occurrence, as her
young mistress herself had called her into the house. The boy was old
enough not to require constant supervision, and he often played alone
in the perfectly enclosed place. Hugo had not yet dared to give words
to the suspicion which he shared with his brother, and which every
moment became more lively. He had only hinted slightly at an abduction,
and was at once met with utter incredulity. Robbers in the middle of
the street, in the most aristocratic quarter--impossible! A misfortune
was more likely. Once more they began a search, notwithstanding the
approaching darkness, in the neighbouring gardens and the rest of the

In the meanwhile, Erlau essayed in vain to pacify his adopted daughter,
and to point out to her the possibilities and probabilities which still
might let her hope for a happy termination; Ella did not hear him.
Silent and deadly pale, without shedding a single tear, she sat by his
side now, after having taken part for hours in the vain researches,
which she even to some extent had conducted herself. Although Hugo had
not alluded to that possibility by a syllable, the mother's thoughts
took the same direction, and the more inexplicable the child's
disappearance remained, the more irrepressibly did the recollection of
her yesterday's encounter force itself upon her, the recollection of
Beatrice's wild hatred, and burning threats of vengeance; and clear,
and ever clearer arose the presentiment that this was no case of
accident or misfortune, but that it was one of crime.

A carriage dashed madly up the street, and stopped before the house.
Ella, who started at every noise, imagined in every arrival a messenger
bringing news, flew to the window; she saw her husband descend and
enter the house. A few minutes later he stood before her.

"Reinhold, where is our child?"

It was a cry of deadly fear and despair, but also a reproach more
wounding than could be conceived. She demanded her child of him! Was he
alone to blame that it had been torn from the mother?

"Where is our child?" repeated she, with a vain attempt to read the
answer in his face.

"In Beatrice's hands," replied Reinhold, firmly. "I came too late to
rescue it from her; she has fled already with her prey, but at least I
know her track, Gianelli betrayed it to me; the rogue was cognizant, if
he were not literally an assistant, but he saw plainly that I was in
earnest with my threat to shoot him down if he did not tell me the road
she had taken with the child. They have fled to the mountains in the
direction towards A----. I shall follow them at once. There is not a
moment to be lost, only I wished to bring you the information, Ella.

Erlau, who had listened to all much shocked, wished now to interpose
with questions and advice, but Ella gave him no time for it. The
certainty, fearful as it was, restored her courage; she stood already
at her husband's side.

"Reinhold, take me with you!" implored she, determinedly.

He made a gesture of refusal. "Impossible Eleonore! It will be a
journey as for very life, and when I reach the goal, perhaps even a
struggle between it and death. That were no place for you; I must fight
it out alone. Either I shall bring you your son back, or you see me now
for the last time. Be calm! The possibility of his rescue is now in his
father's hands."

"And the mother shall, in the meanwhile, despair here?" asked his wife,
passionately. "Take me with you! I am not weak--you know it. You need
fear no tears or fainting from me when action is required, and I can
bear all, only not the fearful uncertainty and inactivity, only not the
anxious waiting for news, which may not arrive for days. I shall
accompany you!"

"Eleonore, for God's sake!" interposed Erlau, horrified. "What an idea!
It would be your death."

Reinhold looked at his wife silently for a few seconds, as if he would
examine how far her strength went.

"Can you be ready in ten minutes?" asked he, quietly. "The carriage
waits below."

"In half the time."

She hurried into the adjoining room. The Consul wanted to forbid, beg,
entreat once more, but Reinhold cut him short.

"Leave her alone, as I do," said he, energetically. "We _cannot_ give
way now to cold consideration. I do not see my brother here, and I have
not time to seek him. Tell him what has happened, what I have
discovered. He must take the necessary steps here at once to ensure us
help, which we may perhaps require, and then follow us. We shall first
take the direct route to A----. There Hugo will find farther
information about us."

He turned, without waiting for a reply, to the door, where Ella already
appeared in hat and cloak. The young wife threw herself, with a short
tempestuous farewell greeting, on to her adopted father's breast, to
whose protest she would not listen; then she followed her husband.
Erlau looked out of the window as Reinhold lifted her into the
carriage, entered it himself, shut the door, and the horses started off
in full gallop. This was too much for the shaken nerves of the old
gentleman, especially after the alarm and excitement of the last few
hours; almost unconscious, he sank into an arm-chair.

Hardly ten minutes later Hugo entered; he had already heard from one of
the servants of his brother's sudden arrival and equally sudden
departure with Ella. At his first hasty questions, Erlau recovered a
little. He was beside himself at his daughter's decision, still more at
the independence of her husband, who had borne her away without any
more ado. Arrival, explanation and departure, all had taken place as in
a hurricane; this mode of action resembled a regular elopement, and
what could the poor wife do on such a journey? What might not occur,
what happen, if they really overtook this dreadful Italian? The Consul
was nearly in despair at the thought of all the possibilities to which
his favourite was exposed.

Hugo listened silently to the report, without betraying especial
surprise or horror. He appeared to have expected something of the sort,
and when Erlau had ended, laid his hand soothingly on the latter's arm,
and said quietly, but yet with a slight tremor in his voice--

"Let it be, Herr Consul! The parents are now on their child's track;
they will, it is to be hoped, find the little one and--each other

                           *   *   *   *   *

A carriage moved up the steep twisting road of the pass, which led
through the mountains to A----. Notwithstanding the four powerful
horses and cheering cries of the driver, it proceeded but slowly. This
was one of the worst spots in the whole chain of hills. The occupants
of the carriage, a lady and gentleman, had descended from it, and
struck into a foot path, which shortened the road almost by half; they
stood already on the summit, while the conveyance was still some
considerable distance behind them.

"Rest yourself, Ella!" said the gentleman, as he led the lady into the
shade of the rocky wall. "The exertion was too much for you; why did
you insist on leaving the carriage?"

His wife still kept her fixed, comfortless gaze turned to the pass,
which on the other side descended into the valley, and whose windings
could be partly overlooked.

"We are a quarter of an hour sooner at the top, at any rate," said she,
feebly. "I wanted to look out over the road, perhaps even discover the

Reinhold's glance followed the same direction, in which nothing,
however, could be discerned but the figures of two men, looking like
peasants, who coming down the hill lustily, sometimes disappeared in
the turns of the road, soon again to reappear.

"We cannot, indeed, be so near them," said he pacifyingly, "although we
have flown since last evening. You see, at least, we are on the right
track. Beatrice has been seen everywhere, and the child beside her. We
_must_ overtake her."

"And when we do--what then?" asked Ella, listlessly. "Our boy is
unprotected in her hands. God knows what plans she will pursue with

Reinhold shook his head--

"Plans? Beatrice never acts upon plans or calculations. The impulse of
the moment decides everything with her. The thought of revenge has
suddenly overcome her, and like lightning she has carried it out, like
lightning fled with her prey. Where? To what end? That is not even
clear to herself, and for the moment she does not enquire. She wished
to strike you and me in our most vulnerable point, and she has
succeeded; more she did not wish."

He spoke with great bitterness, but with most perfect certainty. They
stood alone at the summit of the pass; the carriage was still far below
them, and just then disappeared at the last turn of the road. The
mountains here bore an abrupt, wild character; almost naked the sharp
rocks rose upwards, now in mighty groups, now wildly split and broken.
Only aloes could take root in the clefts of the yellow grey stone, and
here and there a fig tree spread its meagre shade. Yonder, on the other
side of the valley, a building hung in dizzy height on the mountain's
wall, a castle or monastery, grey as the rock itself, and barely to be
distinguished from it at this distance. Lower down at the edge of an
abyss, a little hill-town had nestled itself, which built in and upon
the rock seemed almost to form part of it, and its deserted decayed
appearance harmonised with the loneliness around. Still lower, whirled
the broad rushing stream, occupying almost the entire width of the
valley, so that there barely remained space for the road by its side.
Over the whole scene, however, lay that glowing sunlight of a southern
autumn day, which is not inferior at all to the power of a northern
midsummer one; although the sun had long left its noontide height, the
air was still quivering with heat; sharply and harshly illuminated,
every single object stood out almost painfully clear to the sight, and
the heated stones literally burned under the scorching rays to which
they were incessantly exposed.

"It would be folly to precede the carriage, even only by another step,"
said Reinhold. "It would overtake us in a moment on the downward route.
Now we have a view over the whole."

Ella did not contradict him; her countenance bore plainly enough an
expression of the most extreme physical and mental exhaustion. This
drive of twenty hours without rest, added to the deadly fear at heart,
the ever renewed agonising excitement when the track sought for now
appeared and again was lost--this was too much for the mother's heart,
and the woman's strength. She sat down on a piece of rock, leaned her
head silently against the mountain's side, and closed her eyes.

Her husband stood by her and looked down silently at the beautiful pale
countenance, which in its deadly exhaustion appeared almost alarming.
The sharp points of the rock buried themselves deeply in her white
forehead and left red marks there. Reinhold slowly pushed his arm
between the stone and his wife's fair plaits; she did not seem to feel
it, and encouraged by it he put his arm quite round her, and attempted
to give her a better support against his shoulder.

Now Ella started slightly and opened her eyes; she made a movement as
if she would withdraw from him, but his look disarmed her--this look
which rested upon her with such painful, anxious tenderness; she saw
that he did not tremble less for her at this moment than he trembled
for his child. She let her head sink back again, and remained
motionless in his arms.

He bent low over her--

"I fear, Eleonore," said he, with an effort, "you have had too much
confidence in your strength. You will break down."

Ella shook her head denyingly--

"When I have got my boy again--perhaps then. Not before."

"You will recover him," said Reinhold energetically. "How? At what
cost? I do not certainly yet know; but I know how to master Beatrice
when the demon is roused in her. Have I not often stood opposed to her
at times, when perhaps every other person had trembled before her, and
have known how to enforce my will? Once more, for the last time I shall
try it, should she and I become the sacrifice."

"You believe in danger, also for yourself?" Ella's voice sounded as if
full of trembling fear.

"Not if I meet her alone, only if you approach her; promise me that you
will stay behind at the last station, will not show yourself when we
arrive. Remember that in the child she has a shield against every
attack; every means of force on our side, and everything would be lost
if she were to see you at my side."

"Does she hate me so much?" asked Ella, astonished. "I irritated her,
it is true, but yet it was you who offended her most deeply."

"I?" repeated Reinhold. "You do not know Beatrice. If I came before her
penitent, wishful to return, there would be an end of her hatred and
her revenge. One single oath, that I and my wife are separated and
remain so, that I have given up all idea of a reunion, she would give
you back your child without a struggle, without resistance. If I
_could_ do this, the danger would be over."

Ella's eye sought the ground; she did not dare to look up, as she asked
almost inaudibly--

"And can you not do it, then?"

His eyes flashed, he let his arm drop from her shoulders, and stepped

"No, Eleonore, I cannot, and I shall not, as it would be perjury. So
little as I shall ever return to the bonds which I had felt degraded me
long before I saw you again, so little shall I give up a hope which is
more to me than life. Oh, do not draw back so from me! I know I may not
come near you with sentiments to which I have forfeited the right,
but you cannot prescribe my feelings to me, and if you did not see
before--would not see--Beatrice's burning hatred to you, and you alone,
must show you, how much you are avenged."

Ella made a sudden deprecating motion--"Oh, Reinhold, how can you at
this moment--"

"It is perhaps the only one in which you do not reject me," interrupted
Reinhold. "May I not, in the hour when we both tremble for our child's
life, tell the mother what she has become to me? Even then when I first
trod Italy's shore, there lay upon me something like a suspicion of
what I had lost. I could not rejoice over the newly-won freedom the
artist's career gained at last; and the richer and more brilliant my
life became externally, the deeper grew that longing for a home which
yet I had never possessed. You, to be sure, do not know the dull pain
which will not be still even in the midst of the whirl of passion, in
the noise of triumph, in the proudest success of one's creations, which
becomes torture in solitude, from which one must fly, even if only by
means of intoxication, by the wildest excitement. I believed that it
was only the longing for my child; then I saw the child again--saw
you--and I knew what this longing craved for; then began the atonement
for everything of which I had been guilty towards you."

He spoke quietly, without reproach or bitterness, and the words seemed
therefore to act all the more powerfully on Ella; she had risen as if
she would flee from his tone and gaze, and yet could not.

"Spare me, Reinhold!" begged she almost imploringly. "I can feel and
think of nothing now but my child's danger. When I have the boy safe in
my arms, then--"

"Well, then?--" asked he in breathless eagerness.

"I shall perhaps not have the courage any longer to pain his father,"
added Ella, while a flood of tears rushed from her eyes.

Reinhold did not say another word; but he held her hand firmly in his
own as if he would never loosen it again. At the same moment, the
carriage appeared on the top of the hill, and the driver stopped to
give himself and the tired animals a little rest.

Almost simultaneously, the two peasants who had been visible before on
the road, arrived from the other side. They stared curiously at the
beautiful pale lady and strange, distinguished-looking gentleman who
stepped towards them and asked where they came from. They named a place
which lay at the exit of the valley, some miles distant.

"Have you seen no carriage?" enquired Reinhold.

"Certainly, Signor. A travelling carriage like yours; but they had only
two horses, you have four."

"Did you see the occupants?" interposed Ella, in a trembling voice. "We
seek a lady with a child."

"With a little boy?--quite right, Signora. She is a good way before
you; you must drive sharply if you would overtake her," said the elder
of the two men while stepping nearer, somewhat alarmed, as the lady
looked as if about to sink down at the news; but at the same moment her
companion threw his arm round her, and supported her.

"Courage, Eleonore! We are near the crisis; now we must act."

He lifted her into the carriage, and sprang in after her. The few words
which he addressed to the driver must have contained some unusual
promise, as the latter swung his whip sharply across the horses, and
away they went after the object of their pursuit.

The latter had indeed gained a considerable advantage, and their
carriage was also driven at a rapid pace. Beatrice was alone in it with
little Reinhold, who, tired with crying and the restless, fatiguing
journey, had fallen asleep. The fair, curly little head was pressed
deeply into the cushions; his hands were twined instinctively around
the side rests, as if they sought a support against the incessant
jolting and shaking of the uneven road. The child slept soundly and
deeply, but Beatrice hardly noticed it just now. She was in that state
of supreme mental irritation which even puts a limit to the wildest
passion. She was as if in a heavy, stupid trance, from which only one
object stands out with fearful distinctness--the recollection of that
hour when Rinaldo cast himself free from her, when he called her the
curse and misfortune of his life, and acknowledged to her with proud
defiance that his love belonged to his wife alone. These words pierced
the Italian's heart ever again as if with a burning thorn. Whatever she
had done, however she may have sinned, she had loved this one man with
all the ardour of her soul--to this one she had been unfailingly true;
she had considered his love as her right, of which no power on earth
could deprive her, and now she lost it through the woman whom she
feared the last of all others--through his wife. His wife and his
child! They had ever been the dark shadow which menaced this happiness,
and which now, coming forward out of the gloomy past, took form and
life in order to destroy it.

Beatrice had hated both, even before she knew them. Did she not know
best what place they still maintained in Reinhold's remembrance? Had
she not often enough tried in vain to tear him away from it? There
must surely be something in the once despised power of sacred
wedlock; it was victorious at last against the beautiful, charming
Biancona--against the admired actress; and now made her taste the whole
agony of being forsaken, to which she had once so indifferently
condemned another, without asking if that other's heart broke under
this unmerited fate. The fetters, apparently dissolved, had never quite
loosed the fugitive; now they encircled him again, and Beatrice felt,
with desperate certainty, that she had never possessed the place in his
heart which once more his wife occupied.

                             CHAPTER VIII.

The passionate woman did indeed not act upon any plan or calculation
when she seized upon this last extreme means of cooling her revenge.
Her appearance in the Erlau's garden entirely concerned her hated
rival. She did not find Ella, but instead found the boy alone, without
supervision; and the idea, as well as the execution of his abduction,
were the work of a moment. At first the child willingly followed the
beautiful stranger, who drew it caressingly towards her, and when he
commenced to become frightened, and asked to be taken back to his
mother, it was already too late. Beatrice never thought of the possible
consequences of her step when she carried her prey away triumphantly;
she only felt that no stroke from a dagger could hit Ella's heart so
deeply and certainly as the loss of her child, and that this loss would
raise an everlasting barrier between the parents. It was this which she
had wished. But now she must see how to ensure the booty. Gianelli must
give his hand to aid the flight so hastily undertaken.

Now more than a day's journey lay already between the child and its
parents; but they must make a halt some time; some time this aimless,
planless flight must come to an end.

The vengeance had succeeded beyond expectation--what now?

Little Reinhold still slept. Had he only borne his father's features,
perhaps that had preserved him from all ill; but this golden fair hair,
this rosy countenance, and those deep blue eyes--just now closed, to be
sure--all belonged to the mother--the woman whom Beatrice hated as she
had never yet hated anything in the world, and this likeness was
ominous to the sleeping child. The burning eyes of his companion rested
for some minutes fixedly on his face; then she suddenly started as if
frightened at her own thoughts, tore her gaze away from the boy, and
turned aside.

Yonder, up above, she beheld the carriage which was following theirs. A
travelling carriage was very rare on this road, and it came in the same
direction--came with the greatest speed. Beatrice guessed at once what
it meant. So her track was already betrayed, and the pursuers were at
her heels--let them, indeed! She felt herself to be all-powerful so
long as she had the child in her hands.

Rising quickly, she ordered the coachman to lash the horses to their
greatest pace. He obeyed, and now commenced a wild race between the two
carriages. More than once the powerful animals could hardly keep up,
more than once the drag threatened to break and overturn the occupants.
None paid any attention to it, and promises of excessive rewards
spurred the two drivers on to scorn any danger. It was a furious,
reckless drive; rocks and ravines seemed to fly past on both sides;
ever higher rose the mountainous wall, the more the road descended;
ever nearer rushed the river; yet the four-in-hand had undeniably the
best of it. Both carriages now rolled down the valley, but the space
between them was diminished every moment--a few hundred yards, and the
fugitives would be overtaken.

The first vehicle thundered across the bridge which here united the two
banks. Beyond, it suddenly stopped. Beatrice herself had given the
order to do so; she saw that now no evasion, no escape was possible,
she must be prepared for extremities. The carriage stood close to the
edge of the river, which shot along with intense rapidity. Slowly
Beatrice opened the door, while with her left hand she grasped little
Reinhold, whom the mad gallop had awoke, and who gazed affrighted into
the foaming, raging waves which rushed past close below him. He did not
know how near his parents were. Now the second carriage had reached the
bridge, and the moment Ella beheld her child all consideration and
recollection were at an end. She forgot Reinhold's warning not to show
herself, to leave the decisive step alone to him; and bent far out of
the door.

"Reinhold!" resounded across--it was a cry of inexpressible, trembling
fear. The child cried out as it recognised its mother, and stretched
both arms to her. Weeping noisily, it tried to go to her: but this
sight was its ruin. Beatrice had become white as a corpse when she saw
the husband and wife side by side. Together, then! What should have
separated had united them, and if in the next moment Reinhold reached
the fugitive, and tore his son from her, they would be bound together
for ever, and for the forsaken one there would only remain contempt or

But the choice was already made. A single step, quick as lightning
towards the stream, decided all. Beatrice had not loosed her hold of
the child, and with the strength of despair drew it down with her into
the flood of death.

A scene of indescribable confusion followed this horrible deed. The
drivers of both carriages had sprung down from their seats and ran
objectlessly up and down the banks; they did not even attempt to give
any succour, which was only possible at the sacrifice of their own
lives. Ella stood on the bridge; she wanted to cast herself in after
those whom she could not rescue; but better help was at hand. She saw
the waves splash up high as her dearest disappeared amidst them--saw
how these waves also closed the next moment over her husband's head.
Reinhold had thrown himself in immediately after his child, which, in
the fall, had torn itself away from Beatrice, and now re-appeared at
some little distance. Moments of agony ensued, in comparison with which
all previous suffering was but play. For Ella, life and death were
struggling together in these foaming, hissing waves, with which the two
bodies fought, the one helpless, almost powerless to resist, the other
toiling fiercely to the one point which at last he attained. The father
grasped his child, drew it to himself, and strove to reach the shore
with him. Now he planted his foot upon the rocky ground, now he seized
the overhanging rocky points on which to support himself; and now, too,
the mother regained power and motion. She rushed to both. Slowly
Reinhold mounted the cliff; his breast heaved with fearful exertion;
his arms bled, wounded by the sharp stones to which he had held, but
these arms encircled his boy whom he clasped against his heart for the
first time for years, and sinking down half-unconsciously, he placed
the child in its mother's arms.

                           *   *   *   *   *

"Then this is really and irrevocably to be a farewell visit?" asked
Consul Erlau of Captain Almbach, who sat near him. "Your departure
comes very suddenly and unexpectedly. What will your brother, what will
Eleonore, say to it? Both calculated quite positively upon keeping you
here a few weeks longer."

On Hugo's usually light brow there lay a shadow to-day, and on his
features a strange, bitter expression, as he replied--

"You will soon reconcile yourselves to the parting. Reinhold will
not feel my absence in the constant society of wife and child; and
Ella--" he broke off suddenly. "Consider it as being all for the best,
Herr Consul. They will both be far too much occupied with each other
and their newly-recovered happiness to ask after _me_."

"Yes, indeed," rejoined the Consul, "and the greatest loser in this
reconciliation am I. For years I have looked upon Eleonore as my child,
have considered her and the little one as my indisputable property; and
now, all at once, her husband makes good his so-called rights and takes
them both from me, without my being able to raise any objection to it.
I do not understand Eleonore, that she has pardoned him so readily."

"Well, it was not done so very readily," said Hugo gravely. "He met
with resistance enough, and I hardly believe ha would ever have
overcome it without that catastrophe which finally came to their
assistance. He bought the reconciliation with his child's rescue. Ella
would have been no wife and mother if she had turned away from him
then, when he laid her boy, uninjured, in her arms. That moment atoned
for all, and you know as well as I that saving the child nearly cost
the father's life."

"Yes, certainly, he could do nothing more sensible than become
dangerously ill after the affair," grumbled Erlau, who decidedly seemed
to be in a very uncharitable mood. "That was enough to call Ella to his
side at once, from which she was not to be removed again, and he very
wisely would not let her leave him. One knows all that. Danger and
fear, care and tenderness without end! You surely do not require me to
rejoice over this reconciliation? I wish we had left this Italian
journey alone, then I should have kept my Eleonore, and Herr Reinhold
could have continued his genial, romantic artist's life here. That
would have been perfectly right for me."

"You are unjust," said Hugo reproachfully.

"And you out of sorts," added Erlau. "I do not understand exactly what
has happened to you Herr Captain; your brother is out of danger, your
sister-in-law amiability itself, the little one has attached himself
most tenderly to you, but your cheerfulness seems quite to have left
you since everything has been swimming in love and peace around us. You
play no jokes upon any one, you annoy no one with your teasings and
nonsense, one hardly ever hears a word of fun from you. I fear
something has got into your head, or even your heart."

Hugo laughed loudly but somewhat forcedly.

"Why not, indeed! I can no longer bear to remain such a time on shore,
and give up the sea. This inactivity of months wearies me. Thank God,
it is coming to an end at last. Early to-morrow I depart, and in a few
more days I shall be out on the waves again."

"And then we all fly apart quite prettily to every point of the
compass," said the Consul, who still could not get the better of his
irritation. "You sail to the West Indies, your brother and Eleonore
will also leave; I go back to H----, a most pleasant solitude which
awaits me there at home! Herr Reinhold certainly was gracious enough to
promise me that I should see his wife and child from time to time. From
time to time! As if that could satisfy me, after having had her about
me every moment for years. Of course, now the husband and father must
decide about it! I am convinced he will never let her leave him for a
week; he is just as overwhelming in his tenderness as he once was in
his carelessness."

It almost seemed as if the subject of the conversation were painful to
Captain Almbach, as he broke it off quickly by rising and taking leave
of the Consul heartily, but yet rather curtly and hastily. Erlau
evidently saw him go with regret, as however great was the prejudice
which he entertained against Reinhold, he was as decidedly prepossessed
in Hugo's favour, and if the latter had been the repentant prodigal,
the Consul would have regarded the reconciliation with a much more
favourable eye than he did now where every feeling of justice was lost
in the pain of the impending separation from his favourite. It only
slightly consoled the old gentleman that he took his restored health
home with him; his house appeared very desolate to him now, and he
sighed deeply as the door closed after his guest.

Hugo, in the meantime, returned to his brother's abode which he still
shared. His room, in consequence of the preparations for his departure,
was in the greatest disorder already. He had ordered Jonas to pack up,
and put all ready for the early morning, and the sailor had partly
obeyed these directions, as the boxes stood open on the floor, and the
travelling requisites lay about on the table and chairs.

But there seemed to be no talk of packing at present, as Jonas sat
quite calmly on the lid of the large travelling chest, and near him
little Annunziata, whom he had probably called to help him in this
difficult business. The conversation between them, notwithstanding the
young Italian's very defective knowledge of German, was in full course,
and Jonas had also placed his arm, unabashed, round her waist, and was
just in the act of stealing a kiss from her, which did not seem to be
the first, and most likely would not have been the last, if Hugo's
appearance had not put an end to any farther confidential arrangements.

The couple started up, alarmed at the unexpected opening of the door.
Annunziata recovered herself first. She fled with a slight exclamation
past Captain Almbach into the ante-room, where she disappeared and left
the explanation of the situation to her companion. Jonas however,
transfixed from fright, and stiff as a statue, stood without moving,
looking at his master, who now entered completely and shut the door
behind him.

"Do you call that packing the boxes?" asked he. "Then you have gone so
far happily with your exercise of pity?"

Jonas sighed deeply--

"Yes, Herr Captain, I am so far," replied he, resignedly.

The confession was made with such comical humiliation, that Hugo had
difficulty to suppress a smile; still he said with a grave face--

"Jonas, I never thought to experience such things in you. It is only
lucky that you are a man of principles, which will not allow you to let
such follies become serious. Principles before everything! Our
'Ellida,' lies ready to sail; to-morrow we start for the harbour, and
when we return from the West Indies, you will have driven this love
story out of your head, and Annunziata in the meanwhile will have taken

"She will leave that alone," cried Jonas furiously. "I will kill her
and myself too if she does anything of the kind."

"Will you not extend the killing to me also?" asked Hugo coolly. "You
seem to be quite in the humour for it. You have gone so far as kissing,
that is certain. I have actually witnessed with my own eyes how seaman
William Jonas, of the 'Ellida,' has kissed a woman, and I should have
thought that with this fact, enough to set one's hair on end, all would
have stopped."

"Preserve us," said Jonas, defiantly. "That is only the beginning--then
comes the marrying."

"Will you marry too?" asked Captain Almbach, in a tone of most intense
indignation. "You will marry a woman? But consider, Jonas, that women
are to blame for everything, that all mischief in the world originated
with them, that a man only has peace and quiet when far from them,

"Herr Captain," replied the sailor, who contrary to all respect,
interrupted his master in the middle of his speech, as he heard his own
words from the other's lips--

"Herr Captain, I was an idiot."

"Oh! your Annunziata seems to have inspired you with much
self-knowledge already, and that is the more admirable as language in
your conversation plays a very inferior part. Your chosen one speaks
German thoroughly badly, and you have not caught much more Italian than
merely her name. To be sure I saw just now how capitally you managed to
help yourselves. Your conjugation of '_amare_,' if not quite
grammatical, was extremely comprehensible."

"Yes, indeed, we know how to help ourselves," said Jonas, full of
self-consciousness. "We understand each other however always, and on
the main point we understand each other at once. I like her, she will
have me, and we shall marry each other."

"And so it ends!" finished Hugo. "And how about our departure, amid
these suitable arrangements?"

"I shall still go to the West Indies, Herr Captain," answered Jonas
eagerly. "We cannot marry in quite so head-over-heel a fashion, and my
bride will meanwhile remain with young Frau Almbach, who has promised
to take care of her. When I return, however, Annunziata thinks my
seafaring must end. She thinks when she takes a husband that he must
stay with her also, and not sail about for years on all kinds of seas.
We could set up a little public house in some place, where I should not
be so far from the ocean, and should always meet with my comrades,
Annunziata thinks."

"Your Annunziata seems to think a great deal," remarked Captain
Almbach, "and you naturally submit like a converted woman-hater and
obedient bridegroom to this opinion of your 'future.' Then on this
voyage, the 'Ellida' is to have the honour of counting you amongst her
crew? Afterwards she must look out for another sailor and I for another

"Yes, afterwards," said Jonas, somewhat shamefacedly. "If--if you do
not also--Herr Captain--you had better marry too."

"Don't come to me with your proposals!" cried Hugo, jumping up angrily.
"I should have thought it would be sufficient at present, that you come
under petticoat-government. Now, pack my boxes and take leave of your
Annunziata! As we start very early tomorrow, I--have also still to take

The last words sounded so peculiarly forced, that Jonas looked up
astonished. He knew that it was not his master's wont to let farewells
in any place be hard for him, and yet he fancied that this one made
Hugo's heart right heavy. Fortunately the sailor was in similar plight;
therefore he did not trouble much about it, but set to work to pack,
while Hugo went across to the rooms which his sister-in-law inhabited
now. He stood motionless for a few moments before the closed door, as
if he did not dare to enter; then all at once, as if with sudden
determination, he put his hand on the latch and opened it.

Ella sat at her writing table. She was alone, and in the act of closing
a letter she had just concluded, when her brother-in-law entered, and
came quickly to her.

"Have you announced your return to Germany?" asked he, pointing to the
letter. "Herr Consul Erlau will make all H---- rebellious with his
despair at being obliged to return without you and the little one."

Ella laid her pen aside and rose. "I am sorry that uncle should feel
our parting so much," replied she; "I have already tried my utmost to
procure a substitute, and by letter begged one of his relations to take
my place in his house now that other duties call me. His wish for us to
accompany him to H----, and for us to live with him for a time, I could
not agree to on Reinhold's account. We have once already given society
there cause to busy themselves about us; if we return now, there would
be no end to the painful curiosity and interest, and Reinhold still so
much needs consideration. He cannot bear the slightest allusion to the
past as yet, without exciting himself dangerously. We must certainly
seek another quieter residence."

"At all events, it is fortunate that you have decided him to return to
Germany at all," said Hugo; "he has been estranged from home long
enough, both as regards his life and his musical labours. It is time
that he should at last take root in his fatherland."

Ella smiled. "You preach that to me and him daily, and yourself long
restlessly to go far away? Confess it now, Hugo, you can hardly wait
for the day of your departure, and it is difficult enough for you to
endure the few weeks you still have with us."

"The difficulty is removed already," said Hugo, with feigned unconcern,
"I leave tomorrow."

"To-morrow?" cried Ella, half-astonished, half-alarmed. "But you
promised, though, to remain until our departure."

Captain Almbach bent low over the papers and writing materials on the
table, as if searching for something amongst them.

"Things have changed since then, and I have received news from the
'Ellida' which calls me away at once. You know that with us sailors
that sort of thing often happens quickly and unexpectedly. I was just
going to tell you and Reinhold of it, and bid you farewell at the same
time, as I must start early in the morning."

He had poured it all out hastily, without looking up. Ella's eyes were
fixed gravely and searchingly upon his face.

"Hugo, that is an excuse," said she, decidedly; "you have received no
news, at least, none so urgent. What has occurred? Why will you go?"

"You interrogate me like a criminal judge," said Hugo, jokingly, with
an attempt to regain the old cheerful tone. "Be prudent, Ella! you have
to deal with a confirmed sinner, who will indeed confess nothing."

"Yes; I see that something has happened to drive you away," said Ella,
uneasily, "and for long I have known that something has come between us
which estranges you from Reinhold and me more every day. Be candid,
Hugo. What have you against us? Why will you forsake us now?"

She had gone closer to him, and laid her hand upon his arm
beseechingly, but perfectly unembarrassed. Captain Almbach's
countenance was intensely pale, as he looked silently on the ground; at
last he slowly raised his eyes.

"Because I can bear it no longer," he broke out with sudden violence;
"I have urged your reconciliation with Reinhold so long, and now that
it has taken place, and I must look on at it daily, hourly--now only I
feel how little talent I have for being a saint or for platonic
friendship. I must go away if I do not wish to be ruined. My God, Ella,
do not look at me as if an abyss were opened out before you! Have you
really had no conception, then, of the state of mind I am in, and what
these last weeks at your side have cost me?"

Ella had shrunk back at these last words, her pallor and the expression
of deadly fear in her face gave an answer, even before she opened her
lips to reply.

"No, Hugo, I had no conception of it," replied she, in a trembling
voice. "When we first met, I felt myself obliged to repel a fleeting
fancy. That it could ever be serious with you, I never deemed

"Nor I either," said Hugo, glumly. "At the beginning, I too, believed I
could laugh and scoff away this feeling--scoff it away like all others;
and now it has become earnest, such bitter earnest, that I was on the
high road to learn to hate my brother, to loathe the whole world, until
the latter part of my time here became a hell--perhaps it will be
better out on the sea, perhaps not either. But go I must, the sooner
the better."

Something so wild, so passionate lay in those words, and Hugo's whole
manner betrayed so plainly the difficulty with which he had suppressed
his internal agony, that Ella found no courage for a harsh reply. She
turned silently away. After a few moments Captain Almbach again came to
her side.

"Do not turn from me, Ella, as from a criminal!" said he, with
returning gentleness. "I am going, perhaps never to return, and the
hour of my confession is also that of my farewell. I might, indeed,
have spared you it, should not have made your heart heavy too with what
oppresses mine. God knows I had the honest intention of being silent,
and bear it until I had departed; but after all, one is but mortal, and
when you begged me to remain, and looked so kindly at me, there was an
end of my self-control. Reinhold himself prophesied that I should some
day meet those eyes which would put a stop to all scoffing, all
thoughtlessness. The only misfortune was, that I must find them in his
wife. If this were not so, I had better have bid adieu to all freedom
and independence for these eyes' sake, have become a quiet, steady
married man, and have denied my whole nature; but it would have been a
pity for old Hugo Almbach after all--therefore, probably Heaven raised
an obstacle, and said 'No.'"

                              CHAPTER IX.

Captain Almbach tried in vain to speak in his old scoffing way; to-day
it would not come to his aid. His lips quivered, and his words sounded
like the bitterest irony. Ella saw how deeply the wound had eaten into
the man whom in this respect she had considered invulnerable.

"You should have gone long since, Hugo," said she, in gentle reproach,
"now it is too late to spare you the pain; but if a sister's love--"

"For God's sake, refrain from that," interrupted he impetuously. "Only
none of that respect, friendship, and all the fine things with which
ideal people console themselves in like cases, and which kill an
ordinary man, when his throbbing heart is expected to satisfy itself
with them. I know, indeed, that you have always looked upon me as a
brother, that your heart has always and ever clung to Reinhold, even
then, when he betrayed and forsook you; but I cannot bear to hear it
now from your lips. Of course it serves me right. Why did I become
untrue to her, my beautiful blue bride of the ocean, to whom now only I
belong? She makes me atone for ever having thought of forsaking her for
another, and yet it always seemed to me as if I gazed into her blue
depths when I looked into Ella's eyes." He threw his head back with a
half-defiant motion. "And to me those, eyes unveiled themselves first,
then, when my brother never suspected what riches he called his own. I
knew better than he what the woman was whom he gave up for a Biancona's
sake, and in despite of that he bears away the prize for which I could
have given everything. Such demon-like, artistic natures always conquer
one of us who have nothing to oppose excepting a warm heart and ardent,
bounteous love. Reinhold takes back what never, even for a moment,
ceased to be his own property, and I--go; so we are all provided for."

An immeasurable bitterness lay in these words, which betrayed only too
well that his love for his brother could no longer resist a passion
which appeared to have changed Hugo's entire nature. He made a movement
as if to leave the room. Ella held him back.

"No, Hugo, you shall not go thus," said she, firmly. "Not with this
bitterness against Reinhold and me in your heart. Our happiness has
already had to be rebuilt on the ruins of a stranger's life; it would
be too dearly paid for if it were to cost us our brother also. We
should never, never get over it if we knew you were unhappy far
away--unhappy through us."

She had raised her eyes to him beseechingly and sadly. Captain Almbach
looked down upon the young wife with a singular mixture of anger and

"Do not trouble about me," replied he, with emotion, "I do not belong
to those men who at once yield themselves up to despair because they
must tear themselves away from that on which their whole heart now
hangs, and if in the wrench, a piece of the heart goes too, well, he
can bear it still as it is. I shall bear it; whether I shall overcome
it is a different question. When Reinhold is quite recovered again,
tell him what has driven me away from being near him and you. I do not
wish to stand before my brother as a hypocrite, and I should have
confessed it to him myself long since, only that I still dreaded the
excitement for him of such an acknowledgment; he has become only much
too irritable on every point which concerns you. Tell him that Hugo
_could_ not stay--not one hour longer--and that he had given you his
word not to return again until he could appear before his brother's
wife as he ought."

The hand, which was extended to her in farewell, grasped hers with a
convulsive pressure, when the door opened, and little Reinhold rushed
in, flying to his uncle with childish eagerness--

"Uncle Hugo, you are going away?" cried he breathlessly. "Jonas has
packed his boxes, and says you will leave to-morrow morning. Uncle
Hugo, you shall not; you must stay with us."

Captain Almbach lifted up the boy, and pressed his lips with passionate
violence upon the child's--

"Take that kiss to your mother," whispered he in a half-smothered
voice. "She will surely dare to take it from your lips. Farewell my
child. Farewell, Ella!"

"Mamma," said little Reinhold, as he looked astonished after his
uncle--who had put him down so hastily and then left the room--"Mamma,
what is the matter with Uncle Hugo? He cried actually, as he kissed

Ella drew the child nearer to her, and now her lips also touched the
child's forehead, which was still damp, as if from two tears having
fallen upon it.

"It grieves your uncle to leave us," answered she, softly. "But he must
go--God grant that he may return to us one day."

                           *   *   *   *   *

The course of time had altered but little in the old seaport and
commercial town of H----. It looked just the same as ten years ago,
when the Italian Opera Company gave its first performances there. The
older portion of the town lay just as gloomy and full of corners, the
newer as aristocratic and quiet as in those days. In the streets and by
the harbour the old busy life and activity still reigned, and now, on a
spring evening, the old damp, foggy atmosphere lay again upon the town
and its environs.

In the Erlau's house, unusual excitement prevailed. The extensive
establishment usually conducted with such superior quiet and
punctuality, to-day seemed to be quite out of gear. There was incessant
running to and fro; the whole suite of rooms was thrown open and
illuminated; the servants were in gala livery, and were called first to
one place, and then to another with different orders. The carriage had
been despatched more than an hour ago to the railway station, and just
now the relative who superintended the Consul's household, an elderly
lady, entered the drawing-room, accompanied by Dr. Welding.

"I assure you, Herr Doctor, one can do nothing with my cousin,"
complained she, as she sat down in an arm chair with a countenance
expressive of exhaustion. "He disturbs the whole house, and drives all
the servants into confusion with his orders and arrangements. Nothing
is festive and brilliant enough for him. Of course I rejoice to see my
dear Eleonore again, and to become personally acquainted with her
celebrated husband; but the Consul has made me so nervous already with
his excitement that I only wish the reception ceremonies were over."

"But this is the first time he welcomes his adopted daughter to his
house again," said Welding. The Doctor was barely altered in the long
lapse of time, he merely looked a little older. It was still the same
sharp, intelligently-cut face, the penetrating glance, and tone of
irony peculiar to him in his voice, with which he now continued: "Herr
Reinhold Almbach appears most decidedly to maintain the superiority of
his influence over his wife compared with that of the Consul. You know
he has actually managed that Erlau should always go to them in the
'capital,' and we were not allowed, not withstanding all promises, to
see Frau Eleonore until her husband determined to accompany her here.
He cannot spare her for a single week it appears!"

"No, certainly not," cried the lady excitedly. "You should only hear my
cousin relate all about it; he who was at first so prejudiced against
Reinhold, is now quite reconciled to him and Eleonore's happiness.
Between them reigns a love so pure and clear, so firm and strong, and
yet surrounded by such a fairy-like, poetic halo, that it almost sounds
like a legend in our time, so wanting in happiness and love!"

The Doctor inclined himself ironically. "Perfectly right, dear Madam. I
see with pleasure what appreciative attention you bestow on my
articles. Exactly the same sentiment appeared in No. 12 of the morning
paper, in a review of the _libretto_ of Reinhold's newest opera."

"Really? Was it in the morning paper?" asked the lady, somewhat
confused; she seemed glad that at this moment the Consul entered the
room, who, without perceiving the Doctor, in his joyous excitement
hastened towards her at once.

"My dear cousin, I have been seeking for you everywhere. The carriage
may return from the station any moment, and we had agreed to receive
the dear guests together. Has the red boudoir been sufficiently
lighted, as I ordered? Is Henry downstairs in the vestibule with the
other servants? Have you--"

"Cousin, you make me nervous with your incessant inquiries," cried the
lady, in a rather irritated tone. "Is it then, the first time you have
confided the arrangements of an entertainment to me? I have twice
already assured you that everything is ordered according to your

"That is not enough for to-day," said Welding, joining in the
conversation. "This time the Consul himself undertakes the part of
master of the ceremonies, and inspects the whole house, from garret to
cellar. Woe to him who does not appear before him in gala dress!"

"Scoff away!" laughed the Consul, "I shall not let it spoil the
pleasure of the meeting, and indeed, I am quite reconciled to you, Herr
Doctor, since you introduced such a hymn of praise about Reinhold's
last work in your morning paper."

"Excuse me, I write no hymns of praise," said the Doctor, somewhat
piqued. "On the contrary, I often experience that my criticisms are
favoured with much less flattering names by the artists. Lately,
our great dramatic and heroic tenor, who, as you know, retains his
high-tragic, stage pathos even in real life, called my verdict on one
of his principal parts 'the outflow of the blackest malice, which the
black soul of man had ever produced!' What do you say to that?"

"Well, Reinhold, too, had to endure plenty from your pen," suggested
Erlau. "Fortunately, he did not see our morning paper in Italy in those
days, otherwise he would have had to read very unpleasant things about
the lamentable direction of an undeniably great talent; of unpardonable
wastefulness of the most precious gifts; of the mistakes of a genius,
which, capable of the highest, yet was on the road to ruin himself and
art; and many more such civilities."

"With which you were quite unanimous at the time," added Welding.
"Certainly, I was an open opponent of Reinhold's. Unconditionally, as I
ever recognised his great talents, much as I encouraged him in his
first artistic attempts, I decidedly objected to the line he struck out
later in Italy. Now it has become quite different. His latest work
shows an alteration for which one can only wish him and art success. He
has forced himself through wild fermentation to perfect freedom and
clearness of artistic composition. His genius seems to have found the
right course at last; this work stands thoroughly at the height of his

"Naturally--and that is alone Eleonore's merit," said Erlau, with
unshaken confidence, while his cousin listened very devoutly to the
Doctor's words.

"Does Frau Almbach help her husband to compose?" asked Welding,

"Leave your malice alone, Herr Doctor! You know quite well what I
mean," cried the Consul, annoyed. "Now Henry, what is it?" asked he,
turning to the servant who entered quickly, and announced that the
carriage was arriving.

"Cousin! for mercy's sake go slower! All the servants are in the hall,"
cried the old lady, who had prepared to receive the arrivals solemnly
and with dignity, and was now dragged forward so hastily by the Consul,
who seized her arm, that the magnificence of her train could not be
displayed to advantage. Erlau did not listen to her protestations, she
was obliged to rush to the stairs with him. Dr. Welding, who had come
by chance, without knowing the hour of the arrival, considered himself
entitled, as friend of the house, to witness the family scene. He
therefore remained in the drawing-room while the first speeches of
reception and welcome were made outside. With great tenderness the
Consul greeted his adopted daughter and little Reinhold, who, in
fullest joy, hung on his neck. His cousin, on the contrary, seemed to
have taken forcible possession of the bigger Reinhold, whom she
conducted into the drawing-room amid a stream of compliments, while the
others lingered in the first rooms.

"I rejoice exceedingly to make the acquaintance of my dear Eleonore's
husband, whom I may surely greet as a relation as well as the renowned
Rinaldo," assured she, while still in the doorway. "And all H---- will
be proud once again to see its distinguished townsman within its walls.
Herr Almbach, we can only wish you and art success in your newest work;
it stands thoroughly at the height of your talent. Your genius has at
last--yes, at last--"

"Discovered the right course," suggested Dr. Welding, most amicably, as
he stood near.

"Discovered the right course," continued the lady, freshly inspired.
"You have forced your way through wild fermentation to most perfect
freedom, and to higher spheres."

"Not quite true to the words, but it will do," murmured Welding to
himself, while Reinhold, somewhat taken aback at this shower-bath of
æsthetic form of speech, bowed to the lady. Fortunately, the latter now
saw Ella enter on the Consul's arm, and hastened to embrace her and her
boy, while the Doctor went towards Reinhold.

"May an old acquaintance recall himself to your recollection, Herr
Almbach? I am not quite so bold as to receive you at once with
criticising praise such as you have just experienced, but I do not
welcome you the less warmly in your home."

"Aunt means it kindly," said Reinhold, half making an excuse for her.
"It was rather astounding for me at first----" he stopped.

"To be received with one of my reviews," added the Doctor. "Oh, your
aunt often does me the honour of reproducing my articles, although
certainly sometimes on rather unsuitable occasions and with her own
variations, for which I do not undertake the responsibility; for
instance, with the 'higher spheres' I have usually nothing to do."

Reinhold smiled. "Time has left no marks upon you, Doctor; you still
preserve your old _role_. Every third word you utter, is one of

"Pretty well," said "Welding, shrugging his shoulders, and turning to
Ella, who greeted the old friend heartily as she stretched out her hand
to him.

"Well, how do you find our Eleonore?" cried the Consul, triumphantly.
"Does she not bloom like a rose? And the 'little one' has become so big
that we must soon seek another designation for him."

Dr. Welding smiled, and this time, as an exception, without any
maliciousness, while he replied, "Frau Eleonore has remained just like
herself. That is the best compliment which one can pay her. Certainly,
dear madam, I am not the last who will rejoice at this meeting, and
also that the Erlau drawing-rooms, at any rate for the next few weeks,
will stand again under your sceptre. Between ourselves," he lowered his
voice, "it becomes sometimes rather serious when your aunt takes the
lead in conversations on art."

The excitement and pleasure of meeting had made the arrivals only
retire to rest very late. The morning sun was shining clearly and
brightly in at the windows, when Ella entered the apartment which had
been her sitting and work-room during her residence in the Erlau's
house. It still displayed all the former costly furniture with which
Erlau had surrounded his favourite. Reinhold was there already; he
stood at the window, and looked down upon the streets of his native
town, which he now visited for the first time after nearly ten years'
absence. It was no longer the young composer who, in obstinate struggle
with his surroundings and family, destroyed his fetters as well as his
duties, so as to throw himself into a course which promised him fame
and love, and which attained both by force; but neither was it the
Rinaldo, whose wild, social life in Italy, had so often challenged the
world's condemnation, which appeared to know no other bridle, no other
law than his own personal will, and to whom the admiration on the part
of the public and all around him, threatened to become so ruinous.
There lay nothing more in his manner of haughty overbearing or wounding
brusqueness, only that quiet self-consciousness was displayed, which
showed to the advantage of the man as well as of the composer. In his
eye still flashed some of the old passion, which had formed Rinaldo's
peculiar element in life as in his works; but the wild, unsteady flame
which once burned in this glance was extinguished, and what now beamed
there was better suited to the quiet, rather sombre expression of his
features. Whatever a wild, surging life might have buried in this
countenance, it spoke now only of what it had conquered; and the
dreamy, thoughtful gaze which at this moment was seeking the gable of
the old house in Canal Street, where it arose plainly from amidst the
confusion of houses, was quite that of the former Reinhold--of that
Reinhold who, in the small, narrow garden-house, had sat so often
before his piano, and called forth those tones which then might only be
raised in the night if he did not wish to be upbraided for the "useless
phantasies" which the world now called the outpourings of his genius.

Ella drew near her husband. Her appearance, indeed, justified the
Consul's declaration, she bloomed like a rose. The last three years had
robbed this charming figure of none of its grace, but instead had given
her an expression of happiness in which she had once been wanting.

"Have you received letters so early?" asked she, pointing to two open
writings which lay on the table.

Reinhold smiled--

"Of course! They were sent after us from the residence, and the sender
of this letter," he lifted up the one, "you will not guess, I am sure.
My newest work has brought in one thing at any rate, which is more
precious to me than all the ovations with which we have been
overwhelmed--a letter from Cesario. You know how deeply hurt he
withdrew from us and rendered impossible every attempt on my part at
approaching him or being reconciled. He could not forgive you for
having so long been silent towards him, nor me, that I stood in the way
of his happiness; I have had no sign of his being alive for three
years, as you know. The first performance of my opera in Italy has
broken the ice at last; he writes again with the old cordiality and
enthusiasm, congratulates me upon my new work, which he exalts far
above its deserts, and announces at the same time his intended marriage
with the daughter of Princess Orvieto. She will be his wife in a few

Ella had stepped to her husband's side, and over his shoulder read the
letter which he held in his hand, and in which there was not a single
word of allusion to her.

"Do you know the bride?" asked she at last.

"Only a little! I saw her once only in her father's house, and merely
remember her as a pretty lively child. She was educated in a convent,
and then was paying a short visit in her parents' house. But I know
that this union, even in those days, was a favourite wish of the
families on both sides, to which Cesario's dislike to every bond which
could fetter his future, as to any marriage in fact, was the only
obstacle. Now, when years have passed, and the young Princess is grown
up, they appear to have resumed the plan again, and Cesario has given
way to his relations' pressure. Whether this _marriage de convenance_
can give what such an ardent romantic nature as his is requires, is
certainly another question."

Ella looked thoughtfully on the ground--

"You said though, that the bride is young and pretty, and Cesario is
surely the man to inspire love in such a youthful creature, who is just
entering life from a convent's education."

"We will hope so," said Reinhold gravely. "The second letter is from
Hugo, and dated from----"

A slight blush passed over the young wife's countenance, as she asked
with lively eagerness--

"Well, is he coming at last? May we expect him?"

Reinhold shook his head gently--

"No Ella, our Hugo will not come this time either; we must resign
ourselves not to see him. Here, read it yourself!"

He handed her the somewhat bulky letter. The first page contained mere
descriptions of voyages, which were sketched quite in the Captain's
lively manner, sparkling with fun and humour; only just at the end were
personal affairs touched upon.

"I have employed my stay in S----" wrote Hugo, "to pay a visit to
Jonas, who has been settled here over a year with his Annunziata. You
have fitted out the little one so richly, that they have made quite a
pretty hotel out of the modest inn they intended to set up, and are
going on very well indeed. The young woman has learned German at last,
and is altogether a very charming hostess, but Jonas I have had to take
regularly to task; it really is appalling how that tiny creature,
Annunziata, governs this bear of a sailor, according to all the rules
of art. I have spoken seriously to him; reminded him of his manly
dignity, prophesied that he will come hopelessly under petticoat
government, if it continue thus--what did the wretch answer me? 'Yes,
Herr Captain, but one is so inhumanly happy with it!' So of course
nothing remained but to leave him to his inhuman happiness and
petticoat _régime_.

"One more piece of news I have for you, Ella. Yesterday, by chance, I
took up an Italian newspaper in which I met with the announcement that
a union between the houses of Tortoni and Orvieto was impending.
Marchese Cesario will shortly be married to the only daughter of the
Princess. You see that even an idealist does not die of an unhappy love
now-a-days; instead, he consoles himself after a year or more with a
young and probably beautiful woman of princely blood. Only the
thoughtless one, the adventurer, cannot recover from having looked too
deeply into a pair of blue eyes. I cannot come, Reinhold, not yet! You
know the word which I passed to your wife; it still banishes me from
your threshold. Heaven knows how long I must wander about on the sea
without seeing you again; but if the recollections do not still weigh
my heart down as at the beginning, yet they will not leave me. My
'Ellida,' lies in the harbour ready to sail once more, and to-morrow
she will fly out afar again with her captain. So farewell, Reinhold!
Kiss your boy in my name! To Ella I shall surely dare send a greeting,
as you will give it to her? Perhaps we shall see each other again."

Ella folded the letter up and put it down silently--

"I hoped still that he would return to us this time, at least," said
she at last--her voice sounded sad.

"I did not expect it," replied Reinhold gravely, "as I know Hugo. Much
in his character seems to glide off lightly and without traces, and
perhaps really glides off, but once he has grasped anything with his
whole soul, then he will not let it go for all his life. He preserves
his love more truly and better than--I did."

"Did you love me then, when I was entrusted to you?" asked Ella, with
gentle reproach. "Could you love the woman who did not understand you
nor herself in those days? We had to be separated first in order to
recover one another entirely and completely, and nothing would remind
me of our separation if I did not see that shadow on your brow, ever
and again, which reawakens the one recollection."

Reinhold passed his hand over his forehead--

"You mean Beatrice's death? I know, indeed, that she prepared her fate
with her own hand, and yet I cannot always silence the voice which
accuses me of complicity in the sin of forsaking her, of driving her to
despair, to madness; she wished to strike us a crushing blow, and
struck herself."

"And from the waves, which gave her her death, you rescued for me and
yourself the highest, our child and our love," said his wife softly.
"See, there comes our Reinhold. Will you show the child this heavily
clouded brow?"

Little Reinhold put his head in at the door, and when he saw his
parents in the room sprang completely inside, so rosy and fresh, so
full of life and fun, that the father's gloom and the mother's
seriousness could not resist his coaxing and romping. Ella kissed her
boy's forehead tenderly, while Reinhold drew her and the child to
himself. They had held him very indissolubly, these fetters, which
once, in youthful infatuation, he had burst and broken, until he learnt
to feel yonder in the life so ardently longed for, amidst all the
dreamed-of treasures, that he had left the best at home; until the
longing for the past awoke, and forced its way powerfully and
irresistibly; until he could obtain once more, fighting through sin and
the horrors of death, that which he himself had thrust from him--his
wife and child; and in the gaze with which he now looked down upon both
there stood written plainly and clearly the confession which his lips
did not speak--that the happiness, so long and restlessly sought for,
and ever denied him, was found again here at last.

                                THE END.

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