Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Under a Charm, A Novel, Vol. III
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 "Under a Charm, A Novel, Vol. III" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Transcriber's Notes:
   1. Page scan source:
      http://books.google.com/books?pg=PP7&id=h90BAAAAQAAJ#v

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

   3. Compare this to the American edition: "Vineta, The Phantom City,"
      by E. Werner and translated by Frances A. Shaw.



                             UNDER A CHARM.



                             UNDER A CHARM.

                                A Novel.



                        FROM THE GERMAN OF E. WERNER,
                            By CHRISTINA TYRRELL.



                          _IN THREE VOLUMES_.
                               VOL. III.



                                LONDON:
                        RICHARD BENTLEY AND SON,
                         NEW BURLINGTON STREET.
                                 1877.

                        (_All rights reserved_.)



                            PART THE SECOND.
                             (_Continued_.)



                             UNDER A CHARM.



                              CHAPTER XI.


The border-station lay, as has already been mentioned, only half a
league distant from the frontier, in the midst of some of the thickest
plantations on the Wilicza land. The building, which was large and even
handsome, had been erected by the late Herr Nordeck at no
inconsiderable cost; but there was a desolate, decayed look about the
place, nothing whatever having been done towards its preservation or
repair, either by master or tenant, for the last twenty years. The
present forester owed his position solely to the Princess Baratowska's
favour, that lady having taken advantage of the vacancy caused by his
predecessor's death to advance one of her own supporters to the post.
Osiecki had now filled it for three years. His frequent encroachments
and somewhat negligent performance of his duties were altogether
overlooked by his mistress, because she knew that the forester was
devoted to her personally, and that she could count on him in any
circumstances. Hitherto, Osiecki had but rarely been brought in contact
with his master, and, on the whole, had followed with fair exactness
the instructions received from him. Waldemar himself came but very
rarely to the lonely, outlying station. It was only during the last few
weeks that the perpetual conflicts between the foresters and the
military stationed on the frontier had obliged him to interfere.

It was still to all appearances midwinter. The house and forest stood
laden with snow in the dim light which fell from a heavy overcast sky.
The ranger had assembled all his troop--five or six foresters under his
orders, and some woodmen. They were all standing with their guns thrown
over their shoulders, evidently waiting for the master's coming; but it
certainly did not look as though they were ready to obey and peaceably
to quit the station, as Waldemar had commanded. The dark defiant faces
of the men augured nothing good, and the ranger's appearance fully
justified the assertion that he was 'capable of anything.' These
people, who lived from year's end to year's end in the solitude of the
woods, were not very punctilious in their notions of duty, cared little
for either law or order; and Osiecki especially was notorious for the
liberty of action he allowed himself, following generally the
promptings of his own arbitrary will.

Nevertheless, they as yet preserved a respectful attitude, for before
them stood the young Countess Morynska. She had thrown back her mantle.
Her beautiful face betrayed nothing of the struggle and torture she had
gone through but an hour or two ago; it was only very grave now, and
coldly severe.

"You have brought us to an evil pass, Osiecki," she said. "You should
have been careful not to attract suspicion or attention to the station,
instead of which you quarrel with the patrols, and imperil everything
by your indiscreet conduct. The Princess is extremely displeased with
you. I come in her name once more emphatically to forbid any acts of
violence whatever, no matter against whom. This time you must make up
your mind to obey. Your ill-judged proceedings have done harm enough."

The reproach made an evident impression on the forester. He looked
down, and there was something almost apologetic in his voice as he
answered with mingled defiance and contrition--

"Well, it is done now. I could not hold back my men this time--nor
myself either, for that matter. If the Princess, or you, my lady, knew
what it is for us to lie here quiet day by day, while the fighting is
going on out yonder, to look on at the doings of those soldier fellows
and not to be allowed to stir a finger, though we have our loaded
rifles in our hands! It would wear out any man's patience, and ours
broke down the day before yesterday. If I did not know that we are
wanted here, we should all have been over yonder with our own people
long ago. Prince Baratowski is only a couple of hours from the
frontier; it would not be hard to find the way to him."

"You will stop here!" replied Wanda, with decision. "You know my
father's orders. The station is to be held, come what may, and for that
reason you are more necessary to us here than out yonder at the seat of
war. Prince Baratowski has men enough at his disposal. But now to the
main point. Herr Nordeck is coming here to-day."

"Yes, yes," said the ranger, with a sneer. "He means to make us obey,
he says. We are to go over to Wilicza, where he will have us constantly
under his eye, where we cannot lift a hand without having him behind
us, looking over our shoulders. Yes, he is a good one to command, is
Nordeck; but the question is whether just at this time he will find any
one to obey him. He had better bring a whole regiment of soldiers with
him, if he wants to drive us out of the station--else it is not certain
but the thing may take a bad turn."

"What do you mean by that?" asked the young Countess, slowly. "Are you
forgetting that Waldemar Nordeck is your mistress's son?"

"Prince Baratowski is her son and our master," the forester broke
forth; "and it is a shame that she and all of us should have to obey
this German, just because his father forced his way in among us twenty
years ago, and got possession of the Morynski estates and of a Countess
Morynska for his wife. It was bad enough that she should have to put up
with that man for years; but now the son gives her still more bitter
bread to eat--we know well enough what terms they are on. If she were
to lose him, she would not grieve much more than she did for his
father, and it would be the best thing that could happen to the whole
family. Then the orders from the Castle need not be given in secret;
the Princess would reign, and our young Prince would be the heir and
the master of Wilicza, as he should be of right."

Wanda turned pale. The unhappy position in which mother and son stood
to each other had already so made its baneful influence felt that their
subordinates could calculate in cold blood what advantages Waldemar's
death would bring to his nearest relatives, that they reckoned on the
Princess's forgiveness, to whatever extremity they might resort. There
was here something more to check and subdue than an outbreak of
momentary fury and irritation. Wanda saw her worst fears confirmed; but
she knew that by no word, no look must she betray her inward anxiety.
She was held in respect only as Count Morynski's daughter, as the
Princess's niece, and no doubt was felt that she spoke in the name of
the latter. If once the motive were guessed which had really brought
her hither, there would be an end to her authority, and she would lose
all chance of protecting Waldemar.

"Do not venture to lay hands on your master," she said, imperiously,
but as calmly as though she were actually fulfilling her mission.
"Happen what may, the Princess desires that her son may be spared, his
safety ensured at any cost. Let the man who dares to attack him look to
himself! You will obey, Osiecki--obey unconditionally. Once already you
have angered her with your disobedience. Do not attempt it a second
time."

The forester struck his gun impatiently on the floor, and there was an
uneasy movement among the bystanders who had hitherto listened to the
conversation in silence; yet no one ventured to offer opposition--no
one even murmured. The command had been sent to them by the Princess,
who was the one authority they recognised. Wanda would have gained her
end, if more time had been granted her in which to work on the men's
minds; but, hasten hither as she might, she had only been able to
obtain an advance of a few minutes on Waldemar. At this moment his
sledge drove up outside. All eyes were turned to the window. The young
Countess started.

"Already? Open the side door quickly for me, Osiecki. Say no syllable
to betray my presence here. I will go as soon as Herr Nordeck has
left."

The forester obeyed with all haste. He knew that Countess Morynska must
on no account be seen here by the master--else all their secrets would
be betrayed. Wanda stepped quickly into a small and dimly lighted
chamber, and the door was at once closed upon her.

It was high time. Two minutes later Waldemar appeared in the room she
had just left. He stopped on the threshold and took a steady look at
the circle of foresters who had grouped themselves around the ranger,
their rifles in their hands. The sight was not an encouraging one for
the young master, who came thus alone among them with the view of
reducing the rebels to submission; but his face was quite unmoved, and
his voice rang out firm and clear as he said, turning to the ranger--

"I did not announce my coming to you, Osiecki; but you seem to be
prepared for it."

"Yes, Herr Nordeck, we were expecting you," was the laconic reply.

"Armed? in such an attitude? What are you doing with your rifles? Lay
them down."

Countess Morynska's warning must have had some effect, for they obeyed.
The ranger was the first to put down his weapon; but he placed it well
within reach of his hand, and the others followed his example. Waldemar
now advanced into the middle of the room.

"I have come to ask for an explanation of a mistake which occurred
yesterday, Osiecki," he said. "My orders could not be misunderstood, I
sent them in writing; but the messenger who brought your reply cannot
have understood his errand. What did you really commission him to say
to me?"

This was going straight to the root of the matter. The short, precise
question was not to be evaded; it demanded an answer equally precise.
Yet the forester hesitated. He had not the courage to repeat to his
master's face that which he had yesterday charged his messenger to
declare.

"I am the border-ranger," said he, at last, "and I mean to remain so
while I am in your service, Herr Nordeck. I am responsible for my
station, therefore I must have the management of it, and no one else."

"But you have shown that you are not capable of managing it," replied
Waldemar, gravely. "You either cannot, or will not, hold your men in
check. I warned you repeatedly on two former occasions when excesses
had been committed. That affair of the day before yesterday was the
third, and it will be the last."

"I can't keep my men quiet when they fall in with the patrols at such a
time as this," declared the ranger, with a flash of defiance. "I have
no authority over them now."

"For that very reason you must be removed to Wilicza--there _I_ shall
be able to furnish the necessary authority, if yours falls short."

"And my station?"

"Will remain for the present under the supervision of Inspector
Fellner, until the arrival of the new ranger whom I had destined for
Wilicza. He must make up his mind to take your post for a while. You
yourself will stay at the Castle-station until there is peace again in
the land out yonder."

Osiecki laughed ironically. "It may be a long time first."

"Perhaps not so long as you think. At any rate, you will have to leave
this house to-morrow."

A somewhat significant movement was noticeable among the men as he
repeated his order in most decided tones, and the forester's passion
blazed up fiercely.

"Herr Nordeck!" he exclaimed.

"Well?"

"I declared yesterday ..."

"I hope you have taken counsel since then, and that to-day you are
ready to declare it was through a misunderstanding your messenger
brought me such an incredible answer. Take care what you are about,
Osiecki. I should think you must know me sufficiently by this time."

"Yes, indeed, you have taken good care that all Wilicza should know
you," muttered the ranger between his set teeth.

"Then you know, too, that I brook no disobedience, and that I never
take back an order once given. The forester's house at Wilicza is empty
at present. You will either move into it before noon tomorrow with all
your staff, or you may consider yourself dismissed from my service."

A threatening murmur rose among the men. They crowded more closely
together, their looks and attitude showing plainly that it was only by
an effort they still restrained themselves from any overt act of
violence. Osiecki stepped up to his employer, and stood close before
him.

"Oh, oh, the thing is not so easily settled," he cried. "I am no common
day labourer to be hired to-day and discharged to-morrow. You can give
me warning if you like; but I have a right to stay here till the
autumn, and so have the men I have engaged. My district lies among the
border-forests. I want no other, and I'll take no other, and the man
who tries to oust me will fare but badly."

"You mistake," replied Waldemar. "The station is my property, and the
ranger is bound to conform to my instructions. Do not insist on a right
which you have forfeited through your own misconduct. The act committed
by your men under your leadership the other day deserves a far severer
punishment than a mere removal to another post. You have insulted the
patrols; you have now gone so far as to attack them--there were even
shots fired. If you were not arrested on the spot, you may thank the
consideration in which I am held in L---- for it. It is well known
there that I have the will and, if need be, the power to keep the peace
on my estates, and that I do not care to have strangers coming between
me and those whom I employ; but some serious interference on my part is
now expected of me, and I shall respond to that expectation without
delay. You will at once comply with the arrangement I have determined
on, or before the day is over I shall offer the station to the officer
in command to serve as a post of observation on the frontier, and
to-morrow the house will be garrisoned."

Osiecki hastily stretched out his hand towards his rifle; but bethought
himself and stopped.

"You will not do that, Herr Nordeck," said he, in a low meaning voice.

"I shall do it, if there is any question of insubordination or
resistance. Decide--you have the choice. Shall you be at Wilicza
to-morrow or not?"

"No, a thousand times no," shouted Osiecki, roused now to violent
excitement. "I have orders not to stir from the station, and I shall
yield to nothing but actual force."

Waldemar started. "Orders? From whom?"

The forester bit his lips; but the unguarded word had escaped him, it
could not be recalled.

"From whom have you received orders which are in direct opposition to
mine?" repeated his employer. "From the Princess Baratowska, perhaps?"

"Well, suppose it were?" asked Osiecki, defiantly. "The Princess has
commanded us for years, why should she leave off all at once?"

"Because the master is on the spot himself now, and it is not good that
two should rule at one and the same time," said Waldemar, coldly. "My
mother lives at the Castle as my guest; but on all matters concerning
Wilicza and its management I alone decide. So you have instructions to
retain possession of the station at any price, even to resort to force
in order to hold it! There appears to be something more here than a
mere reckless act of aggression on the part of your men."

The ranger maintained a moody silence. His own imprudence had betrayed
him into what the Princess, in speaking to her niece, had stigmatised
as 'treason'--had wrought the very evil which Wanda had striven to
avert by hurrying to the spot herself. That one hasty word had
disclosed to Waldemar that the resistance, to which he had hitherto
attached no special importance, was one planned and executed under
orders; and he knew his mother too well not to feel sure that, if she
had given orders for the station to be held at all hazards--even for
the use of force in its defence in case of need--this must be the point
where the many threads conjoined which, spite of recent difficulties,
she had never let slip from her experienced hands.

"No matter," he began again. "We will not discuss the past. To-morrow
the border-station will be in other hands. We can settle all that
remains to be settled between us at Wilicza. Till to-morrow, then."

He moved as though to go; but Osiecki barred his way. The forester had
snatched up his rifle, and now held it in an apparently negligent
fashion which was yet significant enough.

"I think we had better settle our accounts on the spot, Herr Nordeck.
Once for all, I shall not leave my station to move to Wilicza or
anywhere else, and you yourself don't stir from this room until you
have recalled your words--not one step."

He would have signed to his confederates, but no sign was needed. As at
a word of command, each man had grasped his rifle, and in an instant
the young master was surrounded. Dark, threatening faces glowered at
him on all sides, faces which said plainly that the men who owned them
would recoil before no act of violence, and the whole man[oe]uvre was
so neatly, so promptly executed, it must necessarily have been
concerted beforehand. Perhaps at this moment Waldemar may have
regretted coming alone; but he preserved all his coolness and presence
of mind.

"What does this mean?" he asked. "Am I to take this for a menace?"

"Take it for what you will," cried the forester, fiercely; "but you
will not stir from this spot without first revoking your orders. It is
for us now to say 'Take your choice.' Beware what you do. You are not
bullet proof."

"Perhaps you have already put that to the test?" Waldemar turned a
searching look on the speaker. "Who despatched that ball after me the
last time I rode home from this place?"

A glance of deadly hatred darting from Osiecki's eyes was his only
answer.

"I have another ball here in the barrel, and each of my men is provided
in like manner"--he grasped the weapon more firmly. "If you care to
make the experiment, you will find us ready. Now, short and sweet. Give
us your word that we shall remain at the station unmolested, that no
soldier shall set foot in it--your word of honour, which is generally
thought by such as you to be more binding than any written promise,
or ..."

"Or?"

"You do not leave this place alive," concluded the forester, trembling
with fury and excitement.

Promptly, almost tumultuously, the others ratified the threat. They
crowded nearer. Six barrels, ominously raised, lent weight to Osiecki's
words--but in vain. Not a muscle of Waldemar's face moved as he turned
slowly, and looked round the circle. He stood in the midst of the
rebellious band, cool and collected, as though he were holding the most
peaceful conference with his subordinates. He only knitted his brow
more closely, and folded his arms with imperturbable and superior calm.

"You are fools!" he returned, in a half-contemptuous voice. "You
altogether forget what consequences you would draw down on yourselves.
You are lost if you lay hands on me. Discovery would be inevitable."

"Supposing we waited for it," sneered the forester. "What do you think
we are so near the frontier for? In half an hour we should be over it
and out yonder in the thick of the fight, where no one would ask what
game we might have brought down here with our rifles. Any way, we are
sick of lying here on the quiet, without ever striking a blow for the
cause; so, for the last time, will you give us your word of honour?"

"No," said the young man, neither moving nor averting his eyes from the
speaker.

"Reflect, Herr Nordeck." Osiecki's voice was almost choked with rage.
"Reflect, while there is yet time."

With two rapid strides Waldemar gained the wall, where, at least, he
would be covered in the rear.

"No, I say; and since we have gone so far"--he drew a revolver from his
breast-pocket, and pointed it at his assailants--"reflect yourselves
before you show fight. A couple of you will pay for the murderous
attack with their lives. My aim is as sure as yours."

At this the long pent-up storm broke loose. A wild tumult arose;
execrations, curses, threats burst from the infuriated men. More than
one among them laid his finger on the trigger, and Osiecki had raised
his hand to give the signal for a general assault when the side door
was hastily pushed open, and next instant Wanda stood by the side of
him they already looked on as their prey.

Her unexpected appearance warded off the worst--for a short space, at
least. The foresters paused on seeing Countess Morynska by their
master's side, so near to him that any attack on their enemy must
endanger her also. Waldemar, for his part, stood for one moment utterly
perplexed and amazed. Her sudden advent was inexplicable to him; then,
in an instant, the truth flashed through his mind. Wanda's death-like
pallor, the expression of desperate energy with which she took her
place at his side, told him that she had been aware of his danger, and
that she was there for his sake.

The peril was too imminent to leave them time for any explanation, for
the exchange of a single word. Wanda had at once turned to the
aggressors and was addressing them imperiously, passionately. Waldemar,
who knew but little Polish, who was but just beginning to familiarise
himself with the language, understood only that she was issuing orders,
resorting to dire threats against his adversaries--all to no avail. She
had reached the limits of her power. Their answers came back fierce and
menacing, and the ranger stamped with his foot on the ground--he
evidently refused obedience. The short and hasty parley lasted but a
minute or two. Not an inch of ground had been given up, not a man had
lowered his weapon. The rebels, exasperated to blindest fury, were past
paying deference, or recognising authority.

"Back, Wanda," said Waldemar, in a low voice, as he tried to put her
gently from him. "There will be a fight, you cannot prevent it. Give me
room to defend myself."

Wanda did not comply. On the contrary, she stood her ground more
steadfastly than ever. She knew that he must succumb to the force of
numbers, that his one chance of safety lay in her close neighbourhood.
As yet they had not ventured to touch her--as yet no one had dared to
drag her from his side; but the moment was drawing nigh when any such
lingering scruples would give way.

"Move aside, Countess Morynska," the forester's voice, harsh and full
of evil presage, resounded through the tumult. "Aside, or I shall shoot
you too."

He raised his rifle. Wanda saw him lay his finger on the trigger, saw
the man's features distorted with rage and hatred; and, seeing this,
all hesitation, all reflection vanished from her mind. One single clear
thought remained, definite, all-absorbing, that of Waldemar's deadly
peril; and, grasping at the last resource left her, she threw herself
on his breast, shielding him with her own body.

It was too late. The report crashed through the room, and next instant
Waldemar's piece responded. With a low cry the forester fell to the
ground, where he lay motionless. Waldemar had aimed with terrible
precision. He himself stood upright and unhurt, and Wanda with him. The
rapid movement, by which she had sought to shield him, had caused him
to swerve aside from the sure direction of the deadly weapon, and had
saved both him and herself.

It had all happened with such lightning-like speed that none of the
others had had time to take part in the fray. In one and the same
moment they saw Countess Morynska throw herself between the combatants,
saw the forester stretched on the ground, and the master facing them
with uplifted revolver, ready to fire his second shot. There was a
pause of death-like stillness. For one second no one stirred.

The smoke had not cleared from his barrel before Waldemar had forced
Wanda into his own partially sheltered position, and placed himself
before her. With one glance he took in the whole situation. He was
surrounded; the way out was barred. Six loaded rifles were opposed to
his single weapon. If it came to a struggle he felt he was lost and
Wanda with him, should she again attempt to come between him and the
danger. An effectual defence was not to be thought of. Here boldness
alone could save. The boldness might prove mad, rash audacity; but no
matter, it must be tried.

He drew himself up erect, threw back with an energetic gesture the hair
which had fallen over his forehead, and, pushing up the two barrels
nearest him with his hand, stepped out into the midst of his
assailants. His stately figure towered high above them all, and his
eyes blazed down on his rebellious subjects, as though by their fire
alone he could annihilate them.

"Down with your arms!" he thundered, with all the might of his powerful
voice. "I will have no rebellion on my land. There lies the first man
who has attempted it. He who dares to imitate him will share his fate.
Down with your rifles, I say!"

The men stood as though paralysed with astonishment, and stared at
their master speechless. They hated him; they were in open revolt
against him, and he had just shot down their leader. The first, the
most natural impulse would have been to take revenge, now that
vengeance was in their hands. No doubt their intention had been to rush
upon and close with Waldemar; but when he stepped out among them,
thrusting aside their weapons with his hand, as though he did in truth
wear a charmed life--when he demanded submission with the look and tone
of an absolute and despotic ruler, the old habit of subjection made
itself felt, the old spirit of blind obedience which, without question
or demur, bows to the voice of command. With the instinctive docility
of lower natures they yielded to the force of a superior mind. They
recoiled timidly before those flashing eyes which they had long learned
to fear, before that threatening brow with its strange swollen blue
vein. And Waldemar stood before them unscathed! Osiecki's ball, which
had never before been known to miss its aim, had glanced harmlessly by
him, while the forester lay dead on the ground, shot to the heart!

There was something of superstitious awe in the movement with which
those nearest him shrank back from their enemy. Gradually the menacing
barrels were lowered; the circle round the master grew wider and wider;
the venture with which he, one man alone, had braved a sixfold danger,
had succeeded.

Waldemar turned and, grasping Wanda's arm, drew her to him. "Now clear
a path," he ordered, in the same imperious tone; "make way!"

Some of the men kept their places; but the two foremost fell back
hesitatingly and, by so doing, left free the space between them and the
door. None of the others offered opposition--in silence they let their
employer and Countess Morynska pass. Waldemar did not hasten his steps
in the least. He knew that he had only quelled the danger for a moment,
that it would return with redoubled force so soon as the insurgents had
time to reflect, to recover a consciousness of their superior strength;
but he also felt that the least sign of fear would be fatal. The power
of his eye and of his voice still held that riotous, unruly band in
check; all now depended on their getting clear of their foes before the
spell ceased to work, which might happen any moment.

He stepped out with Wanda into the open air. The sledge was waiting
outside, and the driver hurried up to them with a face blanched by
fear. The sound of shots had attracted him to the window, where he had
witnessed part of the scene which had just taken place. Waldemar
quickly lifted his companion into the sledge, and got in himself.

"Drive off," he said, briefly and hastily. "At a foot-pace as far as
the trees yonder, then give the horses the rein, and into the forest
for your life."

The coachman obeyed. He was probably not without apprehensions on his
own account. In a few minutes they had reached the friendly trees, and
now they dashed onward in mad haste. Waldemar still held his revolver
ready cocked in his right hand; but with his left he clasped Wanda's
slender fingers tightly, as though he would never again relax his hold.
Not until they had placed such a distance between the forester's
station and themselves that all fear of murderous bullets despatched in
their rear was over, did he relinquish his attitude of defence and turn
to his companion. Now for the first time he saw that the hand he held
in his was covered with blood. Some heavy drops were trickling down
from the sleeve of her dress, and the man who had faced the late danger
with a brow of adamant, grew white to the very lips.

"It is nothing," said Wanda, hastily forestalling his question.
"Osiecki's ball must have grazed my arm. I did not feel the wound until
now."

Waldemar tore out his handkerchief and helped her to bind up the
injured arm with it. He was about to speak; but the young Countess
raised her white face to him. She neither bade nor forbade him; but in
her countenance there was such an expression of mute anguish and
entreaty that Waldemar was silenced. He felt he must spare her, for the
present, at least. He only spoke her name; but that one word said more
than the most impassioned burst of eloquence. "Wanda!"

His look sought hers; but in vain. She did not raise her eyes again,
and her hand lay inert and icy cold in his.

"Hope nothing!" she said, in so low a tone that her words hardly
reached his ear. "You are the enemy of my people, and I am Leo
Baratowski's affianced wife!"



                              CHAPTER XII.


The event at the border-station, resulting in so serious an incident as
the ranger's death, could not long remain unknown at Wilicza, where, as
may be supposed, it caused great excitement. Nothing could have been
more unwelcome to the Princess than this open and bloody conflict.
Doctor Fabian and the steward were seized with consternation, and the
subordinates, according as they sided with the master or with the
Princess, ranged themselves in two opposite camps, and ardently took
part for and against the parties concerned. One person alone was, in
spite of its tragic termination, made happy by the startling
occurrence. Assessor Hubert, as has already been mentioned, chanced to
be staying at the steward's house at the time. He at once rose to the
height of the situation. The necessary enquiry which followed brought
him to the foreground, took him to the Castle in his official capacity,
compelled Herr Nordeck to enter into personal communication with
him--all things for which Hubert had long sighed, but for which he had
hitherto sighed in vain.

Waldemar had informed him with all brevity that, driven by the
necessity of self-defence, he had shot down the forester Osiecki, the
latter having made a murderous assault upon his person. He had at the
same time begged the official to take suitable measures for a clear
notification of these circumstances to the authorities at L----,
declaring himself ready to undergo any examination, and the
representative of the L---- police grew great in the sphere thus opened
to his activity. He rushed with overwhelming zeal into the inquiry, the
conduct of which devolved on him, and made the most wonderful
preparations for its prosecution. Unfortunately, the result of all his
efforts was small. He was naturally desirous, in the first place, to
interrogate all the foresters employed on the station. As witnesses of
the occurrence their evidence was of the greatest value; but next day
the house was found empty and deserted. The men had preferred to evade
any judicial intricacies by putting into execution a long cherished
design and escaping in the night across the frontier. Their thorough
knowledge of the country made it easy for them to effect their purpose,
in spite of the sharp watch kept up on either side. They had doubtless
joined the insurgent troops, with whose position they were well
acquainted, and were thus beyond the reach of the law which, as
personified in Assessor Hubert, stretched forth its arm so longingly
after them. Hubert was inconsolable.

"They have gone!" said he to the steward, in a lamentable voice. "They
have every one of them taken to their heels. There is not a single man
of them left."

"I could have told you that beforehand," said Frank. "Under the
circumstances, it was the best thing the fellows could do. Out yonder
they are safe from an enquiry which might possibly have shown them up
in their true light as accomplices."

"But I wanted to examine them," cried the Assessor, indignantly; "I
wanted to take them all into custody."

"It was just on that account they preferred to make themselves scarce;
and to be candid, I am glad it has happened so. It was always a danger
to us to have that wild lot out on the frontier; now we are free from
them without more disturbance. They will hardly come back again, so let
them run. Herr Nordeck does not want much fuss made about the
business."

"Herr Nordeck's wishes cannot be consulted in this case," declared
Hubert, in his most solemn official tones. "He must incline before the
majesty of the law, which demands the strictest enquiry, irrespective
of persons. There can, of course, be no doubt as to his conduct on the
occasion. He acted in self-defence, and only returned the ranger's
fire. His declaration to this effect is corroborated by the coachman's
evidence, by the foresters' flight, and by the general aspect of the
case. He will merely be subjected to an examination or two, and then be
absolved from all blame. But there are very different matters in
question here. We have to do with an insurrection, with an undoubted
conspiracy ..."

The steward sprang to his feet. "For Heaven's sake, don't begin with
that again!"

"With a conspiracy," repeated Hubert, paying no heed to the
interruption. "Yes, Herr Frank, it was such--all the circumstances of
the case tend to prove it."

"Nonsense!" cried the steward, shortly. "It was a revolt against their
employer, a personal affair, and nothing else. Deeds of violence were
the order of the day with Osiecki and his men, and the Princess closed
her eyes to all their misdoings, because she and her orders were held
in absolute respect. That rough set owned no authority but hers; and
when Herr Nordeck tried to enlighten them and show them _he_ was
master, they took to their rifles. Any other man in his place would
have been lost, but his energy and presence of mind saved him. He shot
down that rascal Osiecki without more ado, and his promptness had such
an effect on the others that not one of them dared move a finger. The
whole thing is as simple and clear as it can possibly be, and what
there is in it to put you on the conspiracy track again, I can't
conceive."

"And how do you account for Countess Morynska's presence there?"
demanded the Assessor, with as much triumph as though he had convicted
an accused person of some crime. "What was the Countess doing at the
forester's station, which lies six miles from Rakowicz, and belongs to
the Wilicza property? We know the part both she and the Princess have
taken in the present movement. In this confounded country the women are
the most dangerous of all. They know everything, manage everything; the
whole political network of intrigues is woven by their hands, and
Countess Morynska is her father's true daughter, her aunt's most
proficient pupil. Her presence at the station is proof enough of a
conspiracy, proof clear as day! She hates her cousin with all the
fanaticism of her people; it was she, and she alone, who planned this
murderous surprise. That was why she appeared so suddenly among them,
in the midst of the tumult, as though she had risen from the ground;
that was why she tried to tear the revolver from Herr Nordeck's hand
when he levelled it at Osiecki. She urged and stimulated the ranger and
his men on to attack their master. But this Waldemar does not do
things by halves! Not only did he subdue the mutiny, but he took the
arch-instigator into safe custody, and brought her away with him by
force to Wilicza. In spite of her struggles and resistance, he dragged
his treacherous cousin out from the midst of her partisans, lifted her
into the sledge, and drove off as for the very life. Just imagine,
during the whole journey he never once addressed her--not a syllable
did they exchange; but he never loosed his hold on her hand for an
instant. He was determined to frustrate any attempt at flight. I am
fully informed of it all. I have examined the coachman minutely on the
subject ..."

"Yes, you were examining him for three mortal hours, until the poor
fellow lost his head, and said yes to everything," interrupted the
steward. "From his post outside the window he could not make out all
the details of what was passing. He could only see an angry crowd, in
the midst of which stood his master and Countess Morynska. Then came
the two shots, and by his own confession he at once rushed off to his
horse in the greatest alarm. You put all the rest in his mouth. Herr
Nordeck's deposition is the only reliable one."

The Assessor looked greatly offended. He felt very much inclined
to assume all the dignity of his office as representative of the
L---- police, whose proceedings were thus lightly esteemed and
criticised in his; but he bethought himself in time that it was his
father-in-law elect who was taking the liberty of setting him right,
and such things must be tolerated and passed over, in consideration of
their future close relationship. It was a sad pity, though, that the
steward should not feel a more becoming respect for his son-in-law's
infallible instinct in all official matters! Hubert gulped down his
annoyance and only replied, in rather an irritated tone--

"Herr Nordeck is giving himself sovereign airs as usual. He vouchsafed
me the information in as laconic a manner as possible; he would enter
into no particulars, and refused point-blank when I expressed a wish to
put some questions to Countess Morynska, alleging as a pretext that his
cousin was unwell. Then he takes upon himself to give orders and make
arrangements, exactly as if I were not there; and behaves as though no
one but he had a word to say in the business. He would hush it up
altogether if he could. 'Herr Nordeck,' said I to him, 'you are
completely in error in regarding this occurrence merely as an explosion
of private hatred. The question lies far deeper. _I_ can see through
it. It was a planned and premeditated insurrection, a prematurely
developed conspiracy, directed against you, no doubt, in the first
instance, but which had far wider aims in view. It was a conspiracy
against order, against law, against the Government. We must sift this
matter thoroughly; we must take all necessary measures.' What
do you think he replied? 'Herr Assessor, you are completely in
error in attributing the importance of a State conspiracy to an
ill--conditioned fellow's violent assault on me. There is no end to be
gained by your enquiry, now that all the men concerned have taken
flight; and in the utter failure of traitors and conspirators you would
be obliged to fall back on Dr. Fabian and myself, as happened to you on
a previous occasion. It is in your own interest, therefore, that I must
beg of you to moderate your zeal. I have provided you with the
necessary material for your reports to L----. As to any disturbance of
law or order here at Wilicza, you need feel no anxiety on that score. I
imagine that I alone should be equal to any emergency which might
arise.' With that he made me a cold majestic bow, and turned on his
heel."

The steward laughed. "He has got that from his mother. I know the
style. Princess Baratowska has often nearly driven me wild with it. No
just anger, no consciousness of being in the right will avail a man
against that grand, calm way of theirs. It is a peculiar form of
superiority, which is imposing in spite of everything, and in which
Prince Leo, for instance, is altogether deficient. He allows his hasty
temper to get the better of him continually. It is only the elder son
who has inherited this trait; at such times one might fancy his mother
herself was there before one, though he is little enough like her in a
general way. But Herr Nordeck is right in this. Moderate your zeal. It
has brought you into trouble once already."

"Such is my fate," said the Assessor, resignedly. "With the noblest
aims, with unwearying devotion, and the most ardent zeal for the
welfare of the State, I earn nothing but ingratitude, misconstruction,
and neglect. I persist in my opinion. It was a conspiracy. I had
unearthed one at last, and now it slips through my fingers. Osiecki is
dead, his men have fled, no confession can be extracted from Countess
Morynska. If only I had gone over to the station yesterday! This
morning I found it empty. It is my destiny ever to arrive too late!"

The steward cleared his throat in a marked manner. He thought he would
take advantage of Hubert's elegiac humour to bring the conversation
round to the subject of his wooing, and then and there roundly to
declare to him that he must entertain no hopes of winning his
daughter's hand. Gretchen had not thought better of it, but had
persisted in her refusal; and her father was about to crush the poor
lover with this afflicting disclosure, when Waldemar's coachman--the
same who had driven his master and Countess Morynska on the preceding
day, and who since then had been a victim to the Assessor's constant
cross-examinations--entered the room with a message from Herr Nordeck.

It was all over now with Hubert's resignation, all over too with his
attention for other things. He forgot past misconstruction and neglect;
remembering only that he had several most important questions to put to
the coachman, he dragged that unfortunate witness, in spite of all
Frank's protests, up with him to his own room, there to proceed with
the examination with renewed vigour.

The steward shook his head. He himself began now to incline to the
opinion that there was something morbid about the Assessor's mind; it
dawned upon him that his daughter might, after all, not be so far wrong
in refusing this suitor whose furious official zeal was so hard to
moderate, and whose fixed ideas on the subject of general and
all-pervading conspiracies were proof against all argument.

Just at this moment, however, Gretchen happened to be following the
Assessor's example. She too was cross-questioning, and that in a very
thorough and businesslike manner, the person who was closeted with her
in the parlour, and who was no other than our old friend, Dr. Fabian.
He had been obliged to report in detail all that he had heard from Herr
Nordeck of yesterday's event. Unfortunately he had little more news to
tell than what was already current in the steward's house. Waldemar had
told the Doctor what he had told every one else; confining himself to
the bare facts of the case, and maintaining an absolute silence with
regard to much that was interesting--with regard, for instance, to the
part Countess Morynska had played in the drama. This, however, was
precisely the point which Gretchen Frank desired to have cleared up.
Hubert's assertion that the young Countess hated her cousin, that she
had even planned the surprise at the forester's house, did not quite
approve itself to her mind. With true womanly instinct, she divined
some far different and secretly existing relation between the two, and
she grew very cross on finding that no more accurate information was to
be obtained.

"You don't understand how to use your influence, Doctor," said she,
reproachfully. "If I were Herr Nordeck's friend and confidant, I should
have rather a better knowledge of his affairs. He would have to come
and confess the most trifling thing to me. I should have trained him to
it from the first."

The Doctor smiled a little. "You would hardly have succeeded in that.
It is not so easy to train a nature such as Waldemar's in any
particular course, and communicative you certainly never could have
made him. He never feels the need of speaking his thoughts, of
unburthening his mind to another person. Trouble and gladness alike he
keeps to himself. Those about him see nothing of it, and one must know
him long and intimately, as I have known him, to find out that he is
capable of any deep emotion."

"Naturally enough--he has no heart," said Gretchen, who was always very
ready with her judgments. "One can see that at a glance. He chills the
room directly he comes into it, and I begin to shiver whenever he
speaks to me. All Wilicza has learned to fear, but not a single
creature to love him; and in spite of the friendliness and the
consideration he has shown us, he is just as great a stranger even to
my father as on the day of his arrival. I am convinced he has never
loved any human being--certainly no woman. He is perfectly heartless."

"Pardon me, Fräulein,"--Fabian grew quite hot as he answered her--"you
do him great injustice there. He has heart enough, more than you fancy;
more perhaps than that fiery, passionate young Prince Baratowski. But
Waldemar does not know how, perhaps does not wish, to show it. Even as
a boy I noticed this trait in him, this close, persistent reserve; for
years I strove in vain to overcome it, until a chance occurrence, a
danger threatening me, all at once broke the ice between us. From that
hour I learned to know Waldemar as he really is."

"Well, amiable he is not, that is certain," decided Gretchen. "I can't
understand how you can be so tenderly attached to him. You were almost
distracted yesterday when you heard of the peril he had passed through,
and something must have happened up at the Castle again to-day, for you
are quite cross and excited. I saw it directly you came in. Come,
confess to me at once. Is Herr Nordeck menaced by any fresh trouble?"

"No, no," said the Doctor, hastily. "It has nothing to do with
Waldemar--this matter concerns myself alone. It has excited me a
little, certainly; but as to being cross--oh no, I certainly am not
that, Fräulein. I have had news from J---- this morning."

"Has that scientific and historic monster, Professor Schwarz, been
annoying you again?" asked the young lady, with as warlike a demeanour
as though she were ready to throw down the glove and do battle with
that celebrated man on the spot.

Fabian shook his head. "I fear it is I who am to bring annoyance on him
this time, though I may truly say, in a manner altogether independent
of my will. You know that it was my 'History of Teutonism' which was
the original ground of contest between him and Professor Weber. This
contest has grown hotter and hotter, until at last it has passed all
bounds. Schwarz, with his hasty temper, irritated too by the importance
they attached to my book, allowed himself to be so far carried away as
to stoop to personal invective and to unwarrantable rudeness towards
his colleague; and, when the whole University declared itself on
Weber's side, he threatened to send in his resignation. He only meant,
by so doing, to show them how indispensable he was--he never seriously
thought of leaving J----; but his harsh, imperious manners have made
him many enemies among the leading personages there. In short, no
attempt was made to detain him, and what he merely intended as a threat
was accepted as an accomplished fact. He had no choice but to persist
in the resolution he had so publicly avowed. It is decided now that he
is to leave the University."

"A very good tiling for the University," said Gretchen, drily; "but I
do really believe you are capable of worrying yourself with remorse
about the business. It would be just like you."

"That is not all," said Fabian, in a low, hesitating voice. "There
is some talk of--of my taking his place. Professor Weber writes
me word that they intend offering me the chair which has become
vacant--offering it to me, a simple private scholar, who can boast of
no academic usefulness, whose only merit lies in his book, the first he
has published! It is something so unusual, so astounding, that at first
I positively could not believe it. I really could not get over my
surprise, my utter amazement."

Gretchen showed no amazement; she seemed to think it the most natural
thing that could have happened. "Well, they have shown themselves very
sensible," said she. "You are a man of much higher mark than Professor
Schwarz. Your book is far superior to anything he ever wrote; and when
you are once seated in his professorial chair, he will soon find his
fame obscured."

"But, Fräulein, you don't know the Professor; you have not read his
works," put in the Doctor, timidly.

"Never mind, I know you," declared the girl, rising superior to
argument. "Of course you mean to accept the nomination?"

Fabian looked down, and some seconds passed before he answered--

"I hardly think so. Honourable as the distinction is to me, I do not
venture to avail myself of it, for I fear I should not be equal to so
important and prominent a post. The long years I have spent in
retirement, in solitude over my books, have unfitted me for public
life, and have made me quite incapable of meeting all those social
calls upon me which such a position would entail. Finally--and this is
the principal reason of all--I could not leave Waldemar, especially now
when troubles are coming in upon him on all sides. I am the only person
with whom he can be said to be on intimate terms, whose society he
would miss. It would be the height of ingratitude on my part, if for
the sake of some outward advantages ...."

"It would be the height of selfishness on Herr Nordeck's part, if he
were to accept such a sacrifice," interrupted Gretchen. "Luckily, he is
sure not to do so; he will never consent to your abandoning for his
sake a career which must seem to you to comprise every earthly
happiness."

"To me?" repeated the Doctor, sadly. "No, there you are mistaken. I
have ever sought and found all my pleasure in study, and I looked upon
it as a special favour from Providence when, in the pupil who at one
time stood so coldly aloof from me, a true and faithful friend grew up.
That which is called earthly happiness--a home, a family--I have never
known, and am not likely now to learn. At this moment, when such
undreamt-of success has come to me, it would be sheer presumption to
covet that also. I can well afford to be satisfied with that which has
fallen to my lot."

In spite of his resignation, the words sounded sorrowful enough; but
his young listener was apparently not moved to pity. Her lip curled
disdainfully.

"You are of a singular nature, Doctor. I should be in despair if I had
to take so gloomy a view of life, to renounce all its bright side."

The Doctor smiled sadly. "All, with you it is very different. One who
is young and attractive as you are, who has grown up in free and happy
circumstances, has a right to expect--to demand all good things from
life. May they be granted you in fullest measure! It is my earnest, my
heartfelt wish; but, indeed, there can be no doubt of it. Assessor
Hubert loves you."

"What has Assessor Hubert to do with my happiness?" flashed out
Gretchen. "You alluded to this once before. What do you mean by it?"

Fabian was seized with dire confusion.

"I beg you to forgive me, if I have been indiscreet," he stammered. "I
know that the circumstance is not made generally known at present; but
the deep, the sincere interest I take in you must be my excuse, if
I ..."

"If you what?" cried the girl, vehemently. "I do believe you seriously
take me to be engaged to that stupid, tiresome Hubert, who talks of
nothing the whole day long, but of conspiracies, and of his future
grand Counsellorship."

"But, Fräulein," said Fabian, in utmost perplexity, "the Assessor
himself told me last autumn that he had good grounds for his hopes, and
that he could reckon with all confidence on your consent."

Gretchen sprang up with a bound which sent her chair flying backwards.

"There, it is out at last! But it is your fault, Doctor Fabian, your
fault entirely. Don't look at me with that astonished, frightened face.
It was you who misguided me into sending the Assessor to Janowo, where
he caught his cold. For fear of his falling ill in earnest, I took
charge of the patient myself. Ever since that time the fixed idea has
rooted itself in his mind that I am in love with him, and when once he
gets a fixed idea there is no curing him of it. You can see that by the
nonsense he is always talking about plots."

She was almost crying with vexation; but the Doctor's face grew
absolutely radiant at sight of this unfeigned indignation.

"You do not love the Assessor?" he asked. "You do not intend to bestow
your hand on him?"

"I will bestow a lesson on him such as he never had before, and send
him about his business," the young lady replied energetically, and
would have launched out into strong and injurious speech against poor
Hubert, had she not just then met the Doctor's gaze. At this she turned
crimson and was dumb.

A rather long pause ensued. Fabian was evidently striving to fortify
himself in some resolution from which his timidity shrank abashed.
Several times he tried to speak, but in vain. His eyes, however, told
his tale so plainly that Gretchen could be in no doubt as to what was
impending. On this occasion it did not occur to her to beat a retreat,
or to fly to the piano and perform on it until the strings snapped, as
she had been pleased to do when the Assessor had attempted to give vent
to his feelings. She sat down again, and waited for what was coming.

After a while the Doctor drew nearer, but shyly still, and with an
anxious face.

"Fräulein," he began, "I did indeed believe--that is, I supposed--the
Assessor's strong attachment ..."

Here he came to a stop, remembering that it was highly unpractical to
talk of the Assessor's strong attachment when it was rather of his own
that he wished to speak. Gretchen saw that he was getting hopelessly
involved--that it would be necessary for her to come to his assistance,
if he were to be extricated from the labyrinth. She merely cast one
glance at her timorous suitor; but if his eyes had been explicit
previously, it was evident that hers were no less eloquent. The Doctor
took courage all at once, and went on with astounding courage.

"The mistake has made me very unhappy. Yesterday I should not have
dared to confess it to you, though the trouble has weighed cruelly on
my heart. How could I, who was altogether dependent on Waldemar's
generosity, dare to approach you with any such words? But this morning
has brought about a change. The future which is now offered for my
acceptance has in it prosperity enough to enable me, at least, to speak
of my feelings without presumption. Fräulein Margaret, you reproached
me just now with my too pliant nature, with my tendency to give up
weakly, without a struggle. If you knew how renunciation has ever been
my lot, you would take back your words. I have gone through life lonely
and uncared for. My youth was dreary and joyless. I had to impose upon
myself the greatest privations in order to continue my studies, and I
gained nothing by them but a weary dependence on other people's
caprices, or on their good feeling. Believe me, it is hard, after the
most earnest endeavours, with elevated aims and a glowing enthusiasm
for science at one's heart, to have to instruct boys day by day in the
very rudiments of learning, to descend to the level of their
intelligence; and this I had to do long, very long--until Waldemar
enabled me to live for study alone, and so opened to me the career
which now offers itself. It is true that I meant to make the sacrifice
of it. I would have concealed my nomination from him; but at that time
I looked on you as the betrothed of another man. Now"--he had taken
possession of the girl's hand; shyness and embarrassment were things of
the past; now that the floodgates were fairly opened the words came
freely enough from his lips--"the future seems to promise me much.
Whether it has happiness in store for me as well is for you alone to
decide. Say, shall I accept or refuse, Margaret?"

He had now reached the point at which the Assessor had chosen to make
his great dramatic pause, preparatory to falling on his knees, but had
missed his effect, in consequence of the object of his adoration taking
flight at the critical moment. The Doctor did not attempt to kneel; he
even skilfully avoided that fatal pause, saying what he had to say
without hesitation or difficulty, while Gretchen sat before him with
downcast eyes, listening with infinite satisfaction; so that in a very
short time the offer was made, accepted, and even ratified by an
embrace, all going smoothly as a marriage bell.


Herr Assessor Hubert came downstairs. Having brought to an end his long
and minute examination of the coachman, which had left both him and his
victim in a state of semi-exhaustion, he determined to seek relaxation
from the strain of his official duties by giving free play to the
tenderer emotions of his heart. Poor Hubert! He had said that it was
his fate always to arrive too late. As yet, however, he little dreamed
how thoroughly his words would that day be verified. His departure had
been fixed for that afternoon; but, before leaving, he had made up his
mind to come to some clear understanding on the subject of his suit. He
would not set out on his journey without obtaining a definite and
favourable answer. In the glow of this valiant resolve he opened the
door of the anteroom so energetically, and with so much noise, that the
lovers in the adjoining parlour had time to settle themselves in a
perfectly innocent and unsuspicious attitude. Gretchen was discovered
sitting quietly at the window, while the Doctor stood near her, close
to the piano, which, to the newcomer's great relief, was closed to-day.

Hubert nodded condescendingly to Fabian. There was always something
patronising in his manner towards the Doctor, who, in his eyes, was
only an old tutor possessed of no importance but such as he borrowed
from his connection with Wilicza. To-day, with this business of his
love-making on hand, the man was actually in his way, and he gave
himself no trouble to hide it.

"I am sorry to disturb you. Practising French, I suppose?"

The tone was so nonchalant, so exactly that which he would have used to
a paid teacher, that even the Doctor's good-humour was not proof
against it. He had never hitherto found courage to show displeasure at
the behaviour Hubert had thought proper to adopt towards him, but
to-day it wounded him severely in his new dignity of an accepted lover.
He drew himself up, and said with an assured bearing which aroused in
Gretchen the liveliest satisfaction--

"No, you are wrong. We were practising a very different science."

The Assessor remarked nothing unusual; he was busy thinking how he
could most speedily get rid of this troublesome person.

"Ah, historical, no doubt!" said he, maliciously. "That is your hobby,
I think. Unfortunately it is hardly one suited to the taste of young
ladies. You will weary Fräulein Margaret, Doctor Fabian."

The Doctor was about to answer, but Gretchen forestalled him. She
considered it was high time to put a damper on the Assessor, and set
herself to the task with infinite enjoyment.

"You will have to give the Doctor another title soon," said she, with
great emphasis. "He is on the point of accepting a professorship
at J----, which has been offered him on account of his extraordinary
literary and scientific merit."

"What--what?" cried the Assessor, startled, but with an expression of
extreme incredulity. He could not believe in this sudden transformation
of the neglected Fabian into a University Professor.

The latter's good humour had regained the upper hand already, and the
thought of the double mortification which he must of necessity inflict
on the nephew of his rival and the unsuccessful suitor of his
betrothed, revived anew all his conscientious scruples.

"Herr Hubert," he began, supposing that gentleman to be already
acquainted with the recent events at the University-- which was far
from being the case--"it is very painful to me to think that your uncle
should misjudge me, as would, unfortunately, appear to be the case. No
one can more sincerely appreciate and recognise his worth than I do. Be
assured that I had not the smallest share in the controversy which my
'History of Teutonism' provoked. Professor Schwarz seems to think that
I stirred up the dispute from interested motives, and purposely
envenomed it."

A light, a terrible light, began to dawn on the Assessor. He did not
know the name of that obscure individual whom the opposite party had
glorified, by attempting to place his work on a level with, nay above,
Schwarz's writings; but he knew that the book in question was a
'History of Teutonism,' and Fabian's words left no room for doubt that
the author of that book, the intriguer, the criminal aggressor, who had
disturbed the peace of the family celebrity, now stood before him in
person. He would have given vent to his astonishment, to his
indignation in words; but Gretchen, who already felt it incumbent on
her to represent the future Professor's wife, interfered again.

"Yes, Professor Schwarz might be led to fancy so, particularly as Dr.
Fabian is nominated to succeed him in his chair at the University of
J----. You know, of course, that your uncle has sent in his
resignation?"

The Assessor fairly gasped for breath. Fabian cast a supplicating look
at his betrothed, but Gretchen was merciless. She could not forget that
Hubert had boasted but a few months ago of her favour and certain
acceptance of him. She was determined to give him a lesson; so she
played her last trump, and, taking the Doctor by the hand, with solemn
formality proceeded thus--

"At the same time, Herr Assessor, allow me the pleasure of introducing
to you, in the future Professor Fabian, the successor of your
celebrated uncle, my affianced husband."


"I think the Assessor has turned crazy," said Frank, addressing the
Inspector with a look of real uneasiness, as they stood together
outside in the courtyard. "He has just rushed out of the house, like a
lunatic, nearly running over me, and without a word of excuse or
apology shouting for his carriage. He has been so excited all the
morning. I hope this conspiracy business won't turn his head. Just go
after him, will you, and see what he is about, and if he is likely to
do any mischief."

The Inspector shrugged his shoulders, and pointed to the carriage,
which at that moment was seen rolling away at full speed. "It is too
late, Herr Frank. He is off yonder."

Frank shook his head gravely, and went into the house, where he
received an explanation of the Assessor's stormy exit, which calmed his
apprehensions on the score of that gentleman's sanity. The Castle
coachman, who was also standing before the house, folded his hands, and
said with a deep sigh of relief, "He is gone, thank God; now he can't
examine me any more!"



                             CHAPTER XIII.


At Castle Wilicza there reigned a dull sultry atmosphere, pregnant with
storms, which made itself felt even in the servants' quarters. Since
Herr Nordeck's return from the border-station on the previous evening
in the company of Countess Morynska, the barometer had stood at stormy
point in the upper regions of the great house--of this there was but
too good evidence. The young Countess had had an interview with her
aunt on the evening of her arrival, but since then had not left her
room. The Princess herself was but rarely visible; but when she
appeared, her countenance was such that the domestics thought fit to
keep as much as possible out of her way. They knew that frowning brow
and those tightly set lips augured nothing good. Even Waldemar did not
show his accustomed cold composure, the unruffled calm which he was
wont to oppose to the outer world at the very time when the fiercest
emotions were raging within him. There was something gloomy and
irritable in his manner. Perhaps the repulse he had twice met with from
Wanda during the day might be the cause of this. He had not succeeded
in getting sight of her since the moment when he had laid her, half
fainting from agitation and loss of blood, in his mother's arms. She
refused to see him, and yet he knew that she was not seriously ill. The
Doctor had assured him over and over again that the Countess's wound
was not dangerous, and that she would be able to leave for Rakowicz on
the following day, though he had felt it his duty to oppose her wish of
returning home at once.

The young landowner had not indeed much time to devote to such matters;
demands on his attention flowed in from all quarters. The ranger's
corpse was brought over to Wilicza, and then it was that news of the
foresters' flight was had. It was necessary that the station should at
once be placed under other care, and that measures should be taken to
insure the safety of Inspector Fellner, who had been sent over _ad
interim_. Waldemar was forced to order and direct everything himself.
Then came Assessor Hubert, tormenting him with his interrogatories, his
protocols, and his advice, until he lost patience, and resorted to his
mother's approved expedient for shaking off importunate persons.
Hardly, however, was he quit of the Assessor and his fancied
discoveries, when fresh claims were made upon his time and thoughts.
News had been carried to L---- of the state of affairs in the
insurgents' camp, and it was known that there would, in all
probability; be fighting close to the frontier within the next few
days. Orders had been issued in consequence by the military
authorities. The forces stationed along the border were to be
considerably strengthened, so as to guard the territory on this side
from possible violation or disturbance.

A strong detachment of troops passed through Wilicza; and whilst the
men halted down in the village, the officers, who were personally
acquainted with Nordeck, rode up to the Castle. The Princess was
invisible, of course. She had always been invisible to her son's guests
since the latter had openly declared himself against her and hers; so
Waldemar was obliged to receive the new-comers himself--whether he
were, or were not, at that moment disposed to see strangers, no one
thought of inquiring. It behoved him to show them a quiet, impassible
brow, in order that they should gain no further information on the
subject of the family tragedy than that of which they were already
possessed. They knew the rôle which their host's brother and uncle were
playing in the insurrection, the position in which the son stood
towards his mother. This was all food for daily gossip in L----, and
Waldemar was keenly alive to the solicitous care they showed to avoid
in his presence all allusion to these matters, abstaining even from any
mention of the revolt, except as connected with the latest military
movements on the German side. At last, late in the afternoon, the
detachment set out on its way again, so as to reach its destination on
the frontier before dark. Finally Dr. Fabian, the happy lover and
future Professor, appeared with his double news, for which he claimed
his old pupil's interest and sympathy, obliging the latter to take part
in another's joy at the moment when he saw his own happiness hopelessly
shattered and wrecked. It required, indeed, a nature of finely tempered
steel, such as Nordeck's, to face all this with a stoical appearance of
calm composure.

Early on the second day after the event at the border-station, the
Princess sat alone in her drawing-room. Her face told plainly that
there had been little rest for her that night. The grey, misty morning
light without was too faint to penetrate into that lofty, dim
apartment, the greater part of which was still wrapped in shadow; only
the fire on the hearth sent its restless, flickering gleams on the
carpet around, and on the figure of the Princess sitting close by, lost
in gloomy thought.

Resting her head on her hand, she meditated long and sadly. The
accounts which had reached her of the late occurrences still agitated
and engrossed her mind. This woman, whose constant rule it was to take
her stand on the domain of facts, and adroitly to shape her plans in
accordance with them, found herself for once unable to meet the
difficulties before her. So all had been in vain! The unsparing rigour
with which she had torn the veil from her niece's mind, in order to arm
the girl against a growing passion; the absolute separation lasting
through long months; the late interview at Rakowicz--all had been in
vain! The sight of Waldemar in peril had sufficed in one single instant
to scatter all other considerations to the wind. Soon after her
arrival, Wanda had told her aunt all that had happened. The young
Countess was too proud, too completely under the bias of national
prejudices, not to seek at once to clear herself from any suspicion of
what the Princess called 'treason.' She declared to this stern judge
that she had sent no warning, had betrayed no trust; that only at the
last moment, when all secrets connected with the station were beyond
concealment, had she stepped forward and interfered. How she had acted,
what she had done to save Waldemar, she was equally unable to conceal;
the wound on her arm was there to bear evidence against her.

The entrance of her son roused the Princess from all the tormenting
thoughts which were racking her brain. She knew whence he came. Pawlick
had informed her that this morning, for the third time, Herr Nordeck
had attempted to gain admittance to the Countess Morynska, and that on
this occasion he had obtained what he sought. Waldemar approached
slowly, until he stood opposite his mother.

"You come from Wanda?" said she.

"Yes."

The Princess looked up in his face, which at this moment was clearly
lighted up by a blaze of the fitful fire. There were lines of pain in
it--of pain, bitter but repressed.

"So you forced an entrance in spite of her repeated denial? But what,
indeed, could _you_ fail to accomplish! Well, the interview must have
convinced you that it was no prohibition of mine which closed Wanda's
door, as you so positively assumed. It was her own wish not to see you,
a wish you have lightly enough regarded."

"After what Wanda risked on my behalf the day before yesterday, I had
at least the right to see and speak to her. It was necessary for me to
speak to her. Oh, do not be afraid!" he went on with rising bitterness,
as the Princess was about to interrupt him. "Your niece has fully
justified your expectations, and has done all that lay in her power to
rob me of hope. She believes, no doubt, that she is prompted by her own
will alone, while, in reality, she is blindly submitting to be led by
yours. Those were your words, your views, which I have just had
expounded to me by her mouth. If left to herself, I should perhaps have
succeeded, have gained my end by persistent effort, as I succeeded in
getting speech of her; but I lost sight of the fact that for the last
forty-eight hours she has been exclusively under your influence. You
have represented that promise which you persuaded her into giving my
brother, which you forced from her when little more than a child, as an
irrevocable vow, to break which were mortal sin. You have so baited her
with your national prejudices ..."

"Waldemar!" exclaimed his mother, indignantly.

"With the prejudice," he repeated, emphatically, "that it would be
treason to her family and to her people, if she were to consent to
listen to me, because it happens that I am a German, and that
circumstances have forced me into an attitude of hostility towards your
party. Well, you have attained your object. She would rather die now
than lift a hand to free herself, or give me leave to do it for her;
and for this I have to thank you, and you alone."

"I certainly reminded Wanda of her duty," replied the Princess, coldly.
"My words were, however, hardly needed. Reflection had brought her to
her senses, and I trust this may now be the case with you. Ever since
the day on which you openly declared yourself my enemy, I have known
that your old boyish fancy was not extinct, but that it had, on the
contrary, developed into a passion with you. In what measure this
passion was returned, I only learned yesterday. It would be useless to
reproach you with what has happened. No recrimination can undo it now,
but you must feel that you owe it both to yourself and to Leo to
consent to an absolute separation. Wanda sees this and agrees to it.
You must submit also."

"Must I?" asked Waldemar. "You know, mother, that submission is not my
forte, especially where all the happiness of my life is at stake."

The Princess looked up with an expression of surprise and alarm. "What
do you mean? Would you wish to rob your brother of his betrothed, after
robbing him of her love?"

"That Leo never possessed. Wanda did not know her own heart when she
yielded to his affection for her, to her father's wish and yours, and
to the family plans. It is I who possess her love, and now that I have
this certainty, I shall know how to defend my own."

"You take a high tone, Waldemar," said the Princess, almost scornfully.
"Have you reflected as to what answer your brother will be likely to
make to such a claim on your part?"

"If my betrothed declared to me that she had given her love to another,
I would set her free, absolutely, unconditionally, no matter what I
might suffer through it," replied the young man, steadily. "Leo, if I
know him, is not the man to do this. He will be beside himself with
rage, will distract Wanda with his jealousy, and will inflict on us a
series of violent scenes."

"Are you the one to prescribe moderation, you who have done him the
deadliest injury?" returned his mother. "True, Leo is far away,
fighting in his people's sacred cause, hourly risking his life, and
little dreaming the while that his brother, behind his back ..."

She stopped, for Waldemar's hand was laid firmly on hers. "Mother,"
he said, in a voice which acted as a warning to the Princess--she
knew that with him this low constrained tone always preceded an
outbreak--"no more of this. You do not believe in these imputations
yourself. You know better than any one how Wanda and I have struggled
against this passion--know what a moment it was which unsealed our
lips. Behind Leo's back! In my room lies the letter which I was writing
to him before I went to Wanda. My interview with her need make no
change in it. He must be told that the word 'love' has been spoken
between us. We could neither of us endure to conceal it from him. I
intended to give you the letter. You alone have positive information as
to where Leo is now to be found, and you can provide for its reaching
him in safety."

"On no account," cried the Princess, hastily. "I know my son's hot
blood too well to impose such torture on him. To remain at a distance,
possibly for months, a prey to the keenest jealousy, conscious that he
is here threatened in that which he holds most dear--such a trial is
beyond his strength. And yet he must persevere, must remain at his post
until all is decided. No, no, that is not to be thought of. I have
Wanda's word that she will be silent, and you must give me a promise
too. She returns to Rakowicz to-day, and, so soon as she has quite
recovered, will go to our relations in M----, to stay there until Leo
has come back and can defend his rights in person."

"I am aware of it; she told me so herself," replied Waldemar, gloomily.
"It seems she cannot put miles enough between us now. All that love,
that desperation could suggest, I tried with her--in vain. She met me
always with the same unalterable 'no.' Be it so, then, until Leo's
return. Perhaps you are right; it will be better that we should settle
this matter face to face. For myself, I should certainly prefer it. I
am ready to meet him at any moment; what may betide, when we do come
together, is another and a very different question!"

The Princess rose, and went up to her son. "Waldemar, give up these
senseless hopes. I tell you, Wanda would never be yours, even were she
free. The obstacles between you are too many, too insurmountable. You
are mistaken if you reckon on any change of mind in her. What you term
national prejudice is her very life's blood, the food on which she has
been nourished since her earliest youth; she cannot renounce it,
without renouncing life itself. Even though she love you, the daughter
of the Morynskis, the betrothed of Prince Baratowski, knows what duty
and honour require of her; and did she not know it, we are there to
remind her--I, her father, above all Leo himself."

A well-nigh contemptuous smile played about the young man's lips, as he
replied, "Do you really imagine that one of you could hinder me if I
had Wanda's consent? That she should refuse it me, that she should
forbid me to fight on her side, and to win her--there's the sting which
nearly overcame me just now. But, no matter! A man who, like myself,
has never in his life known what love is, and who suddenly sees such
felicity before him, does not forego and put it from him so easily. The
prize is too high for me to yield it up without a struggle. Where I
have all to win, I may stake all, and, were the obstacles between us
tenfold more formidable, Wanda should still be mine!"

There was an indomitable energy in the words. The red firelight from
the hearth shone up into Waldemar's face, which at this moment looked
as though cast in bronze. Once again the Princess was fain to recognise
the fact that it was her son who stood before her with that ominous
blue mark on his brow, with the look and bearing 'of his mother
herself.' Hitherto she had sought in vain to account for the wonderful,
the incredible circumstance that Waldemar--cold, gloomy, repellant
Waldemar--could be preferred to her Leo; that he should have triumphed
over his handsome, chivalrous brother in the matter of a woman's
love,--but now, in this moment, she understood it all.

"Have you forgotten who is your rival?" she asked, with grave emphasis.
"Brother against brother! Shall I look on at a hostile, perhaps a fatal
encounter between my sons? Do you neither of you heed a mother's
anguish?"

"Your sons!" repeated Waldemar. "If a mother's anguish, a mother's
fondness here come in question, the words can only apply to one son.
You cannot forgive me for disturbing your darling's happiness, and I
know a solution of the problem which would cost you but few tears. Make
your mind easy. What I can do to prevent a catastrophe, I will do. Take
care that Leo does not make it impossible for me to think of him as a
brother. Your influence over him is unlimited, he will listen to you. I
have learned to place a restraint on myself, as you are aware; but
there are bounds even to my self-control. Should Leo drive me beyond
these bounds, I will answer for nothing. He does not show a very nice
regard for the honour of others, when he thinks himself injured in any
way."

They were interrupted. A servant brought word to his master that a
noncommissioned officer, belonging to the detachment which had passed
through Wilicza on the previous day, was below and urgent in his
entreaty to be allowed to see Herr Nordeck at once. Waldemar went out.
During the last few days he had grown accustomed to these disturbing
calls upon him, coming always at the moment when he was least disposed
to meet them.

The sergeant announced was waiting in the anteroom. He brought a polite
message and a request from the commanding officer. The detachment had
no sooner arrived at its new post than it had been obliged to proceed
to action. There had been serious fighting during the night; it had
ended in the discomfiture of the insurgents, who had fled in the
greatest disorder, hotly pursued by the victors. Some of the fugitives
had taken refuge on this side the frontier; they had been arrested and
disarmed by a body of patrols, and were now to be sent under escort to
L----. Among them, however, were a few so seriously wounded that it was
feared they would not be able to bear the transport. The captain begged
that the sick might, for the present, be lodged at Wilicza, which lay
within easy reach. The ambulance was now waiting in the village below.
Waldemar was ready on the instant to comply with the demand upon him,
and at once ordered the necessary arrangements to be made at the
manor-farm for the reception of the wounded men. He went over himself
in company of the sergeant.

The Princess remained alone. She had not heard the news, nor taken any
notice of the message which had summoned her son away. Her mind was
busy with far other thoughts.

What would come now? This question arose ever anew before her, like a
menacing spectre which was not to be laid. The Princess knew her sons
well enough to feel what might be expected, were they to meet as
enemies--and deadly enemies they would assuredly be from the moment Leo
discovered the truth; Leo, whose jealousy had at the first vague
suspicion blazed forth so hotly that it had almost seduced him from his
duty--should he now learn that Waldemar had indeed robbed him of the
love of his betrothed--should Waldemar's merely external calm give way
and his native fierceness break out again with its old violence.... The
mother shuddered, recoiling from the abyss which seemed to open out
before her mental vision. She knew she should be powerless then, even
with her youngest-born--that in this matter her influence with him had
been exerted to the uttermost. Waldemar and Leo had each their father's
blood in their veins, and however great the contrast between Nordeck
and Prince Baratowski may have been, in one thing they resembled each
other--in their incapability of bridling their passions when once fully
aroused.

The door of the adjoining room was opened. Perhaps it was Waldemar
coming back--he had been called away in the midst of their
conversation; but the step was more rapid, less steady than his. There
came a rustle in the portières, they were hastily pulled back, and with
a cry of fear and joy the Princess started from her seat.

"Leo, you here!"

Prince Baratowski was in his mother's arms. He returned her embrace,
but he had no word of greeting for her. Silently and hastily he pressed
her to him, but his manner betrayed no gladness at the meeting.

"Whence do you come?" she asked, reflection, and with it anxiety,
quickly regaining the upper hand. "So suddenly, so unexpectedly! And
how could you be so imprudent as to venture up to the Castle in broad
daylight? You must know that you are liable to be arrested! Patrols are
out all over the country. Why did you not wait till dusk?"

Leo raised himself from her arms. "I have waited long enough. I left
yesterday evening; all night I have been on the rack--it was impossible
to pass the frontier. I had to lie in hiding. At last, at daybreak I
managed to cross and to reach the Wilicza woods, but it was hard work
to get to the Castle."

He panted this out in agitated, broken phrases. His mother noticed now
how pale and troubled he looked. She drew him down on to a seat, almost
by force.

"Rest; you are exhausted by the effort and the risk. What madness to
hazard life and freedom for the sake of just seeing us again! You must
have known that our anxiety on your account would more than
counterbalance our joy. I cannot understand how Bronislaus could let
you leave. There must be fighting going on all round you."

"No, no," said Leo, hastily. "Nothing will be done for the next four
and twenty hours. We have exact information as to the enemy's position.
The day after to-morrow--to-morrow, perhaps--may be decisive, but till
then all will be quiet. If there were fighting on hand, I should not be
here; as it was, I could not keep away from Wilicza, even though my
coming should cost me my life or my freedom."

The Princess looked at him uneasily. "Leo, your uncle has given you
leave of absence?" she asked suddenly, seized, as it were, by some
vague dread.

"Yes, yes," replied the young Prince, keeping his eyes averted from his
mother's face. "I tell you all has been foreseen and arranged. I am
posted with my detachment in the woods about A----, in an excellent
position, well covered. My adjutant has the command until I return."

"And Bronislaus?"

"My uncle has assembled the main forces at W----, quite close to the
border. I cover his rear with my troops. But now, mother, ask me no
more questions. Where is Waldemar?"

"Your brother?" said the Princess, at once surprised and alarmed, for
she began to divine the secret connection of events. "Can it be that
you come on his account?"

"I come to seek Waldemar," Leo broke out with stormy vehemence,
"Waldemar and no one else. He is not at the Castle, Pawlick says, but
Wanda is here. So he really did bring her over to Wilicza like a
captured prey, like a chattel of his own--and she allowed it to be! But
I will show him to whom she belongs. I will show him--and her too."

"For God's sake, tell me--you have heard ..."

"What happened at the border-station? Yes, I have heard it. Osiecki's
men joined me yesterday. They brought me word of what they had seen.
Perhaps you understand now why I came over to Wilicza at any risk?"

"This was what I feared!" said the Princess, under her breath.

Leo sprang up, and stood before her with flashing eyes. "And you have
suffered this, mother; you have stood by looking on while my love, my
rights, were being trampled under foot--you who can control, can
command obedience from every one! Has this Waldemar subdued you too? Is
there no one left who dares oppose him? Fool that I was to allow myself
to be talked out of calling him to account before I left, to be
dissuaded from taking Wanda away to a distance where no further meeting
between them would have been possible! But"--speaking now in a tone of
bitter sarcasm--"but my suspicion was an insult to her, and my uncle
accounted my 'blind jealousy' as a crime. Can you see now with your own
eyes? Whilst I was fighting to the death for my country's freedom and
salvation, my betrothed was risking her life for the man who openly
declares himself on the side of our oppressors, who has set his foot on
our necks here in Wilicza, just as the tyrants out yonder have tried to
crush our kindred and friends. She betrays me, forgets her country,
people, family, all, that she may shield him in a moment of peril.
Perhaps she will try to protect him from me; but she had better beware.
I care nothing now which of us perishes, whether it be he or I, or she
with us both."

The Princess seized his hands, as though imploring him to restrain his
fury. "Be calm, Leo; I entreat, I require it of you. You shall not rush
to meet your brother in this spirit of fierce hatred. Listen to me
first."

Leo tore himself free. "I have listened to too much. I have heard
enough to make me mad. Wanda threw herself into his arms when Osiecki
levelled his rifle at him, screened him with her own body, made her
breast his shield--and I am still to hesitate to speak of treachery!
Where is Waldemar? Not so hidden but he can be discovered, I suppose?"

His mother tried in vain to soothe her darling; he did not listen to
her, and while she was considering how, in what manner, it might yet be
possible to avert that fatal meeting, the worst befell, which at that
moment well could have befallen. Waldemar came back.

He entered with a rapid step, and was going up to the Princess, when he
caught sight of Leo. More than surprise, horror and alarm were
portrayed on the elder brother's face at the sight. He turned very
pale, and measured the younger man from head to foot; then his eye
flashed as though with scorn and anger, and he said slowly--

"So this is where you are to be found!"

Leo's countenance betrayed a sort of savage satisfaction on seeing the
object of his hate before him. "You did not expect to see me?" he
asked.

Waldemar made no reply. His more prudent and reflective mind at once
took in the thought of the danger to which Leo was here exposing
himself. He turned, went into the next room and closed the door, and
then came back to them.

"No," he replied, only now answering the question, "and your mother
hardly expected it either."

"I wanted to congratulate you on your heroic deed at the
border-station, for you probably look on it in the light of an
exploit," went on the young Prince, with undisguised scorn. "You shot
down the ranger, and showed a bold front to the rest of the band, I
hear. The dastards did not dare to touch you."

"They crossed the frontier the same night," said Waldemar, "to join
you, probably."

"Yes."

"I thought so. When did you leave your post?"

"Are you going to put me on my trial?" exclaimed Leo. "I am here to
call you to account. Come, we have some matters to talk over together."

"Stay," commanded the Princess. "You shall not meet alone. If an
explanation is inevitable, I will be present at it. Perhaps you will
then not altogether forget that you are brothers."

"Brother or not, he has been guilty of the most shameful treachery
towards me. He knew that Wanda was engaged to me, and he did not
hesitate to decoy her and her love from me. It was the act of a
traitor, of a co ..."

His mother tried to stop him, but in vain. The word 'coward' fell from
his lips, and Waldemar started as though a ball had struck him. The
Princess grew ashy pale. It was not the frenzied passion of her younger
son which so alarmed her, but the expression on the face of the elder
as he drew himself erect. It was Waldemar she held back, Waldemar she
feared, though he was unarmed, while Leo wore his sword at his side.
Stepping between them with all a mother's authority, she called to them
imperatively--

"Waldemar! Leo! control yourselves, I command you."

When the Princess Baratowska issued a command in such a tone and such a
manner, she never failed to obtain a hearing. Even at this crisis her
sons, almost involuntarily, obeyed her behest. Leo let fall the hand he
had already raised to his sword-hilt, and Nordeck paused. The struggle
in the strong man against his old furious violence was terrible to
behold; but his mother's words had caused him to reflect a moment, and
more was not wanting now to recall him to himself.

"Leo, there have been insults enough," he said, hoarsely. "One word,
one single word more, and there will indeed be nothing left us but an
appeal to arms. If yesterday you still had the right to accuse me, you
have forfeited that right to-day. I love Wanda more than you can dream
of; for you have not, as I have, fought for years against this
passion--have not borne aversion, separation, mortal peril, only, after
all, to attain to a conviction that love is stronger than you. But,
even for Wanda's sake, I would not have given up duty and honour, would
not have deserted my appointed post, would not secretly have abandoned
the troops entrusted to me, and broken the oath of obedience I had
sworn to my leader. All this you have done. Our mother shall decide
which of us deserves the ignominious word you have flung at me."

"What is this, Leo?" cried the Princess, startled, a great fear taking
possession of her. "You are here with your uncle's knowledge and
consent? You had express leave from him to come to Wilicza? Answer me!"

A crimson flush dyed the young Prince's face, which up to this time had
been so pale. He did not venture to meet his mother's eye, but turned
upon Waldemar with sudden and furious defiance.

"What do you know of my duty? What matter is it to you? You are on the
side of our enemies. I have stood my ground so far without flinching,
and I shall be forthcoming when I am wanted; for that very reason, this
matter between us must be quickly settled. I have not much time in
which to reckon with you. I must go back to my men to-day, in the
course of an hour or two."

"You will arrive too late," said Waldemar, coldly. "You will not find
them."

Leo evidently did not grasp the meaning of the words he heard. He
stared at his brother, as though the latter had been speaking in some
foreign tongue.

"How long have you been absent from your command?" asked Waldemar
again, this time with such terrible earnest that Leo half involuntarily
made answer--

"Since yesterday evening."

"A surprise took place during the night. Your troops are routed,
dispersed."

A cry broke from the young Prince's lips. He rushed up to the speaker.
"It is impossible--it cannot be! You lie--you wish to scare me, to
drive me away."

"No, it cannot be," said the Princess, with quivering lips. "You cannot
have news of what happened out yonder during the night, Waldemar. I
should have heard it before you. You are deceiving us; do not resort to
such means."

Waldemar looked at his mother in silence for a few seconds--at the
mother who preferred to accuse him of a lie than to believe in an error
of his brother's. Perhaps it was this which made him so icy and
pitiless, as he went on.

"An important post was confided to Prince Baratowski, with strict
orders not to stir from it. He and his troops covered his uncle's rear.
Prince Baratowski was absent from his post when the night attack was
made--successfully. The leader was absent, and those who remained
behind showed themselves unequal to their task. Taken by surprise, they
offered but a weak resistance, totally without plan or method. A
terrible slaughter followed. About twenty men took refuge on this
territory, and fell into the hands of our patrols. Three of the
fugitives lie, grievously wounded, over at the manor-farm. From their
mouths I learned what had happened. All the rest are dispersed or
destroyed."

"And my brother?" asked the Princess, calm, to all appearance, but with
an awful, unnatural calm. "And the Morynski corps? What has become of
them?"

"I do not know," replied Waldemar. "It is said that the victors
advanced on W----. No news has reached us of what has taken place
there."

He was silent. There was a pause of terrible stillness. Leo had hidden
his face in his hands; a deep groan escaped his breast. The Princess
stood erect, her eyes steadily fixed on him. She panted for breath.

"Leave us, Waldemar," said she at last.

He hesitated. His mother had always shown herself cold, often enough
hostile to him. Here, on this very spot, she had confronted him as a
bitter enemy at the time when the contest for supremacy at Wilicza had
brought about an open rupture; but he had never yet seen her as she
appeared at this moment, and he, this hard, relentless Nordeck, was
seized with a feeling akin to anxiety and compassion, as he read his
brother's doom in her face.

"Mother!" he said, in a low tone.

"Go," she repeated. "I have to talk with Prince Baratowski. No third
person can come between us. Leave us alone."

Waldemar obeyed and left the room, but his heart swelled within him as
he went. He was banished in order that the mother might talk to her
son. If she were now about to let that son feel her anger, as she had
so often testified to him her affection, he, the elder, was still a
stranger, as he had ever been. He was told to go; he could not 'come
between' his mother and brother, whether they met in love or hate. A
great bitterness took possession of Nordeck's soul, and yet he felt
that in this hour he was avenged--that his mother, who had ever denied
to him her love, was punished now in her tenderest point, punished
through her darling, the child she had idolised.

Waldemar closed the curtains behind him. He remained in the next room,
so as to guard the entrance, come what might, for he was fully sensible
of the danger to which Leo was exposed. Prince Baratowski had taken too
open and decided a part in the insurrection not to be placed under a
ban, even on this side the frontier; even here condemnation and
imprisonment awaited him. He had imprudently come up to the Castle in
broad daylight. The troop, which had escorted the wounded men, was
still in the village, and at any moment a detachment, convoying the
other fugitives to L----, might pass through Wilicza. It was necessary
to take some precautionary measures.

Waldemar stood at the window, as far from the door as possible. He
would hear nothing of the interview from which he had been shut
out--and, indeed, it was impossible for any sound to penetrate the
heavy velvet folds of the thick portières. But time pressed. More than
half an hour had elapsed, and the two were still closeted together.
Neither the Princess nor Leo seemed mindful of the fact that the
latter's danger grew with every minute. Waldemar, at length, resolved
to interrupt them. He went back into the drawing-room; but paused with
astonishment on entering, for instead of the agitating scene he had
expected to witness, he found the most absolute silence. The Princess
had disappeared, and the door of her study, which had previously stood
open, was now closed. Leo was alone in the room. He lay back in an
armchair, his head buried in the cushions, and neither stirred nor in
any way noticed his brother's appearance. He seemed utterly crushed and
broken. Waldemar went up to him, and spoke his name.

"Rouse yourself," he said, in a low, urgent tone. "Take some thought
for your safety. We are now connected with L---- in a hundred ways. I
cannot secure the Castle from visits which would be dangerous for you.
Retire to your own rooms in the first instance. They will be thought
empty and closed as heretofore, and Pawlick is trustworthy. Come."

Slowly Leo raised his head. Every drop of blood had receded from his
face; it was grey with an ashy pallor. He fixed his large, vacant eyes
on his brother, seeming not to understand him, but his ear caught the
last word mechanically.

"Come where?" he asked.

"Away, in the first place, from these reception-rooms, which are
accessible to so many. Come, I beg of you."

Leo rose in the same mechanical way. He looked round the salon with a
strange expression, as if the familiar place were unknown to him, and
he were trying to recall where he was; but as his eye fell upon the
closed door of his mother's study, he shuddered.

"Where is Wanda?" he asked at length.

"In her room. Do you wish to see her?"

The young Prince shook his head. "No. She, too, would repulse me with
horror and contempt. I don't care to go through it again."

He leaned heavily on the chair; his voice, usually so clear in its
youthful freshness, sounded faint and exhausted. It was plain that the
scene he had gone through with his mother had completely shattered him.

"Leo," said Waldemar, earnestly, "if you had not exasperated me so
terribly, I should not have told you the news in that abrupt way. You
drove me beyond bounds with that fatal word."

"Be satisfied; my mother has given it me back. It is I who am the
traitor--the coward. I had to listen and be silent."

There was something most unnatural in this rigid, dull calm,
contrasting so strongly with the young man's usual fiery impetuosity.
That one half-hour seemed to have altered his whole nature.

"Follow me," urged Waldemar. "For the present you must remain at the
Castle."

"No, I shall go over to W---- at once. I must know what has become of
my uncle and the rest."

"For God's sake, do nothing so rash," exclaimed the elder brother, in
great alarm. "What, you would be mad enough to cross the frontier now,
in broad daylight? It would be neither more nor less than suicide."

"I must," persisted Leo. "I know the place where I can cross. I found
the way this morning, and I can find it a second time."

"And I tell you, you cannot get across. The sentinels on our side
have been doubled since the morning, and over the border there is a
treble line to pass. Orders are out to shoot down any one who does not
give the watchword--and, in any case, you would arrive too late. At
W---- the fate of the day has been decided long ere this."

"No matter," broke out Leo, suddenly passing from his torpor to a state
of wildest desperation. "There will still be some fighting--one other
encounter, and I want no more. If you knew how my mother has maddened
me with her fearful words! She must feel that if my men have been lost
through fault of mine, I shall have to bear all the curse, the hell of
knowing it. She should have been merciful, instead of ... Oh, God! Yet
she is my mother, and for so long I have been all in all to her!"

Waldemar stood by, deeply moved at this outbreak of grief. "I will call
Wanda," he said at last. "She will ..."

"She will do the same. You do not know the women of our people. But,
for that very reason"--a sort of gloomy triumph gleamed through the
young Prince's despair--"for that very reason, you need hope nothing
from them. Wanda will never be yours, never, even though she could
step over my dead body to you, though she may love you, and die of
her love. You are the enemy of her people. You help in the work of
oppression--that will decide your sentence with her. No Polish woman
will be your wife--and it is well that it is so," he went on, with a
deep-drawn sigh. "I could not have died in peace with the thought of
leaving her in your arms; now I am at ease on that point. She is lost
to you as to me."

He would have hurried away, but suddenly stopped, as though a spell had
fallen on him. For a second he seemed to waver, then he went slowly,
hesitatingly, to the door which led to the Princess's study.

"Mother!"

All was still within.

"I wanted to say good-bye to you."

No answer.

"Mother!" The young Prince's voice shook in its eager, heart-rending
entreaty. "Do not let me go from you thus. If I may not see you, say at
least one word--one single word of farewell. It will be the last.
Mother, do you not hear me?"

He was kneeling before the barred door, pressing his brow against it,
as though it must open to him. In vain; the door remained close, and no
sound was heard within. The mother had no parting word for her son; the
Princess Baratowska no pardon for his error.

Leo rose from his knees. His face was rigid again now, only about his
lips there quivered an expression of wild and bitter anguish, such as
never in his young life could he have experienced before. He spoke no
word, but silently took up the cloak which he had cast aside on his
entrance, threw it round his shoulders, and went to the door. His
brother attempted to hold him back. Leo thrust him aside.

"Let me go. Tell Wanda--no, tell her nothing. She does not love me; she
has given me up for you. Good-bye."

He rushed away. Waldemar stood a few minutes in utmost perplexity,
doubtful as to what course he should adopt. At last he seemed to have
taken a resolution. He passed quickly through the adjoining room, to
the Princess's ante-chamber. There he found the house-steward, Pawlick,
with a troubled, anxious face. Directly the old man had heard of the
arrival of his sick countrymen, he had hurried to them, and had been
the first to hear the terrible news. On returning to the Castle,
debating in his own mind as to how he should communicate it to his
mistress, he suddenly beheld Prince Baratowski, standing before him at
the entrance. Leo gave the alarmed old servitor no time to unburthen
himself, but merely passed him with a hasty inquiry for his brother,
for Countess Morynska, and disappeared in his mother's apartments.
Pawlick could not tell whether his young master were informed of the
late events or not; but when, some time later, the unhappy boy rushed
past him unheedingly, one look at his face was sufficient to show him
he knew all.

"Pawlick," said Waldemar, coming in, "you must follow Prince Baratowski
immediately. He is about to commit an act of the maddest rashness,
which will cost him his life, if he really carries out his project. He
means to cross the frontier, now, in daylight."

"God forbid!" exclaimed the old man, horrified.

"I cannot keep him back," continued Nordeck, "and I dare not show
myself at his side. That would only increase his danger; yet, in his
present frame of mind, he must have some one with him. I know you have
still a good seat in the saddle, in spite of your years. The Prince is
on foot. You will be able to come up with him before he reaches the
frontier, for you know the direction he will take--the place whence the
secret communication with the insurgents is kept up. I fear it is in
the neighbourhood of the border-station."

Pawlick did not reply. He dared not answer in the affirmative, but at
this moment courage to deny the truth failed him. Waldemar understood
his silence.

"It is just about there that the most vigilant watch is kept," he
cried, hastily. "I heard it from our officers. How my brother contrived
to get through this morning, I know not. He will not succeed a second
time. Hasten after him, Pawlick. He must not attempt to cross there;
anywhere else rather than there! He must wait--conceal himself until
dusk, in the forester's station itself, if there is no other way.
Inspector Fellner is there; he is on my side, but he will never betray
Leo. Hasten!"

He had no need to speak so urgently. Mortal anxiety on his young
master's account was depicted on the old man's face.

"In ten minutes I shall be ready," said he. "I'll ride as though for my
own life."

He kept his word. Barely ten minutes later he rode out of the Castle
yard. Waldemar, who was standing watching at the window above, drew a
breath of relief.

"That was the only thing to be done. He may perhaps reach him even yet;
and so, at all events, the worst will be averted."

Four, five hours elapsed, and yet no tidings. Generally, when there was
work astir on the frontier, messages came fast and frequent. All the
couriers on their way to L----, passing through Wilicza, would halt in
the village with their news, for a few minutes, at least. To-day these
communications seemed suddenly cut off. Waldemar paced uneasily up and
down his room, trying to think of Pawlick's prolonged absence as a
favourable sign. The old man had certainly come up with Leo, and would
stay by him so long as the young Prince remained on German soil.
Perhaps they were both lying in hiding in the forester's house. At
length, late on in the afternoon, the steward appeared. He came in
hastily, without waiting to be announced.

"Herr Nordeck, I must beg of you to come over to the manor-farm," he
said. "Your presence there is urgently needed."

Waldemar looked up. "What is it? Has anything happened to one of the
wounded?"

"No, not that," said Frank, evasively; "but I must entreat you to come
yourself. We have had news from the border. There has been a decisive
engagement out at W----. A regular battle was fought this morning
against the Morynski corps."

"Well, with what issue?" asked Nordeck, in extreme suspense and
anxiety.

"The insurgents have suffered a terrible defeat. It is said there had
been treason at work, that they were taken by surprise. They defended
themselves desperately, but were forced to succumb to superior numbers
at last. The survivors are scattered to all points of the compass."

"And their leader, Count Morynski?"

The steward looked down.

"Is he dead?"

"No; but seriously wounded, and in the enemy's hands."

"So that, too, is added!" Waldemar murmured. He himself had never been
on intimate terms with his uncle; but Wanda!--he knew with what
passionate love she clung to her father. Had he fallen in the fight,
she would have borne it better than to know him exposed to such a fate,
and exposed to it through _whom_! Who was to blame for the defeat of
that corps, surprised by an attack from which it believed itself
protected by the cover of Prince Baratowski's advance-guard?

Waldemar summoned up all his self-command. "Who brought the news? Is it
trustworthy, or mere report?"

"It was the major domo, Pawlick, who brought it. He is over yonder ..."

"At your house? He brings you the news, though he knows that I have
been waiting hours here for his return. Why did he not come up to the
Castle?"

Frank's eyes sought the ground once more. "He dared not. Her Highness
or the young Countess might have been at the window. They must first be
prepared. Pawlick is not alone, Herr Nordeck."

"What has happened?" cried Waldemar, a cold presentiment stealing over
him.

"Prince Baratowski has fallen," said the steward, in a low voice.
"Pawlick brings the corpse."

Waldemar was silent. He laid his hand over his eyes, and stood for a
few seconds motionless; then, collecting himself with an effort, he
hurried away over to the manor-farm, Frank following him. At the
steward's house, Pawlick met him. He looked up timidly at the lord of
Wilicza, whom he, the Princess's faithful servant, had been wont to
consider as an enemy; but Nordeck's face showed him what he had already
felt that morning, that it was no foe, but his young master's own
brother who stood before him, and all the old man's composure broke
down at the sight.

"Our Princess!" he wailed; "she will never survive it, nor the young
Countess either!"

"You did not reach the Prince in time?" asked Waldemar.

"Oh yes, I came up with him in time, and delivered your warning
message. He would not listen, he was bent on crossing in spite of
everything; he thought the forest thickets would protect him. I
implored, I kneeled to him, and asked him if he would let himself be
shot down by the sentries like some hunted animal. That told at last.
He consented to wait until evening. We were just considering whether we
should venture into the forester's station, when we were met by ..."

"By whom? By a patrol?"

"No, by the farmer of Janowo. We had no treachery to fear from him, he
has always been faithful to the cause. He had been called on to provide
relays for the troops, and was just coming back from the frontier. He
had heard say that a battle was being fought near W----, which was not
yet decided; that the Morynski corps had been surprised, but was
defending itself desperately. It was all over then with reason and
reflection. Our young Prince had only one thought--how to get to
W---- and throw himself into the thick of the fight. We could not hold
him back. He would listen to nothing then. He had left us about half an
hour, when we heard shots fired; two at first, one after the other,
then half a dozen all at once; and then ..." The old man could say no
more, his voice failed him, and a torrent of hot tears burst from his
eyes.

"I have brought the body," he said, after a pause. "The cavalry
captain, who was here yesterday, obtained it for me from the set out
yonder. They could do nothing with a dead man. But I did not dare to
take it straight up to the Castle. We have laid him in there for the
present."

He pointed to a room on the other side of the passage. Waldemar signed
to him and the steward to remain behind, and went in alone. Grey and
dim the waning twilight fell on the lifeless form of the young Prince.
Silently his brother stood by, gazing down upon him. The beautiful
face, which he had seen so radiant with life and happiness, was rigid
now and cold; the flashing dark eyes were closed; and the breast, which
had swelled so high with hope and dreams of liberty, now bore the
death-wound. If the hot wild blood of youth had erred, it had also made
atonement, as it gushed forth from that shattered breast, staining the
clothing with dark, ominous patches. But a few hours before all the
passions of youth had raged in that inanimate frame. Hatred and love,
jealousy and ardent thirst for revenge, despair at the terrible
consequences of an act committed in reckless haste--all were past,
frozen into the icy stagnation of death. One trace alone remained on
the still, pale face. Stamped thereon so deeply, that it seemed
indelibly graven for ever and ever, was that look of anguish which had
quivered round the son's lips when his mother refused him a last
farewell, when she let him go from her without a word of forgiveness.
All else had faded out of sight with life itself; but this one grief
Prince Baratowski had taken with him into his death-struggle; it had
been with him in the last glimmer of consciousness. The shadow of the
grave itself could not shroud it from view.

Waldemar left the room, sombre and mute as he had entered it; but those
who waited for him without, glancing at his troubled face, could see
that he had loved his brother.

"Bring the body up to the Castle," he said. "I will go on first--to my
mother."



                              CHAPTER XIV.


Spring had come round again for the second time since the beginning
of the rebellion, which had blazed up so hotly at first, but which now
lay quelled and crushed. Those wintry March days of the preceding year
had not only brought woe on the Wilicza household, but had been
pregnant with disaster to the whole insurrection. By the defeat of the
Morynski corps, one of its chief supports had been lost to it. When
overtaken by that sudden attack, which found him and his so totally
unprepared--relying, as they did, upon the shelter afforded them by
Prince Baratowski and his troops--Count Morynski had defended himself
with all the energy of desperation; and even when, surrounded and
outnumbered, he saw that all was lost, he yet fought on to the last,
determined to sell his life and liberty as dearly as possible. So long
as he remained at their head, his example inspired his wavering forces,
and kept them together; but when the leader lay bleeding and
unconscious on the ground, all resistance was at an end. Those who
could not fly were hewn down, or taken prisoners by the victorious
party. It was more than a defeat, it was an annihilation; and if that
day's work did not decide the fate of the revolution, it yet marked a
turning-point in its career. From that time forth, the fortunes of the
insurgents declined, steadily and surely. The loss of Morynski, who had
been by far the most redoubtable and energetic of the rebel leaders;
the death of Leo Baratowski, on whom, in spite of his youth, the eyes
of his countrymen were turned; in whom, by virtue of his name and
family traditions their hopes and expectations centred--these were
heavy blows for a party which had long been split into factions, and
divided against itself, and which now fell still further asunder.
Occasionally, it is true, the waning star would gleam out brightly for
a moment. There were other conflicts, other battles glorious with
heroic acts and deeds of desperate valour; but the fact stood out ever
more and more plainly, that the cause for which they fought was a lost
cause. The insurrection, which at first had spread over the whole land,
was forced back into narrower and narrower limits. Post after post fell
into the hands of the enemy; one troop after another was dispersed, or
melted away, and the year, which at its opening had seen the horizon
lurid with revolutionary flames, before its close saw the fire
quenched, the last spark extinguished. Nothing but ashes and ruins
remained to testify of the death-struggle of a people over whom the
fiat of history has long since gone forth.

A weary interval elapsed before Count Morynski's fate was decided. He
first awoke to consciousness in a dungeon, and for a time his serious,
nay, as it was at first believed, mortal wounds rendered all
proceedings against him objectless. For months he lingered in the most
precarious state, and when at length he recovered, it was to find
himself on the threshold of life, confronted with his death-warrant.
For a leader of the revolution, taken armed and in actual fight, no
other fate could be reserved. Sentence of death had been passed on him,
and would most assuredly have been carried out in this, as in
numberless other cases, but for his long and dangerous illness. His
conquerors had not thought fit to inflict capital punishment on a man
supposed to be dying, and when, later on, it became practicable to
apply the law in all its rigour, the rising had been altogether
suppressed, all danger to the land averted. The victors' obdurate
severity relaxed in its turn. Count Morynski was reprieved, his
sentence commuted to exile for life; exile in its bitterest form,
indeed, for he was condemned to deportation to one of the most distant
parts of Siberia--a terrible favour to be granted a man whose whole
life had been one long dream of freedom, and who, even during the years
of his former banishment in France, had never known any restriction on
his personal liberty.

He had not seen those dear to him since the evening on which he had
taken leave of them at Wilicza. Neither his sister, nor even his
daughter, could obtain permission to see him. All their attempts to
reach him were foiled by the strict watch kept on the prisoner, by the
careful measures taken to shut him off from all possible intercourse
with the outer world. For this strict watch they had, indeed,
themselves to blame. More than once had they sought to rescue him from
his captivity. So soon as the Count was on the road to recovery, every
resource the Princess and Wanda had at their command was employed to
facilitate his flight; but all their plans for his deliverance failed,
the last experiment costing Pawlick, the faithful old servant of the
Baratowski house, his life. He had volunteered for the perilous
service, and had even so far succeeded as to put himself in
communication with Morynski. The prisoner had been apprised of what was
doing, the plan for his escape had been agreed upon, but Pawlick was
surprised while engaged in the preparations for it, and, flying from
the spot in the first impulse of his alarm, was shot down by the
sentinels. The discovery of this scheme resulted in a still closer
guard of the unhappy captive, and a keen and vigilant observation of
his friends at large. They could take no further step without arousing
suspicion, and increasing the hardships to which their brother and
father was subjected. They were fain to yield at last to the hopeless
impossibility of the case.

Immediately after the death of her younger son, the Princess had
quitted Wilicza, and taken up her residence at Rakowicz. People thought
it very natural she should not leave her orphaned niece alone. Waldemar
knew better what drove his mother away. He had silently concurred when
she told him of her resolve, making not the slightest attempt to combat
it. He knew that she could no longer bear to live on at the Castle,
that the constant sight of himself was intolerable to her; for had he
not been the cause of the catastrophe by which Leo had lost his life
and destruction had overtaken the troops committed to Leo's charge?
Perhaps it was a relief to Nordeck that the Princess should go, now
that he was obliged daily and hourly to wound her by the manner of his
rule at Wilicza. Having with iron determination once taken the reins in
hand, he held them in a like grasp of iron, stern and steady guidance
being indeed urgently called for. He had been right in saying that
chaos reigned on his estates: no other word would so aptly have
described the disorder which the twenty years of mismanagement during
his late guardian's lifetime and the four years of Baratowski régime
had bequeathed to him; but now, with incredible energy, he set himself
to the work of bringing order out of chaos. At first Waldemar had
enough to do with all his might to stem the tide of rebellion which,
raging beyond the frontier, threatened to overflow his land; but when
once he felt he had free play and liberty of action, when the
insurrection with the thousand secret links binding it to Wilicza
showed signs of dying out, a process of transformation began, quite
unparalleled in its completeness. Such of the officials as failed to
render implicit obedience were dismissed, and those who remained were
subjected to severest control. The whole service of the woods and
forests was placed in other hands; new foresters and rangers were
appointed; the leased-out farms were--in some cases at a great money
sacrifice--redeemed from the tenants in possession, and incorporated
into the main estate, of which the young proprietor himself was sole
administrator. It was a gigantic undertaking for one man single-handed
to regulate and govern so vast a concern, especially now, when old
things were overturned and the new not yet established, when there was
no cohesion, nothing worked in joint; but Waldemar showed himself equal
to the task. He had finally won the day in his contest with his
subordinates. The population about Wilicza still remained hostile; its
hatred of the German in him was abiding and consistent; but even the
outsiders had learned to feel the master's hand, and to bend to its
guiding impulse. By the Princess's departure the malcontents lost their
firmest support, and the collapse of the movement in the neighbouring
province quenched the spirit of resistance on this side the border.
There could, indeed, be no question as yet of that peaceful,
well-ordered calm to be found on similar estates in other provinces.
Neither the times nor circumstances could admit of such a state of
things; but a beginning was made, the path cleared, and the rest must
be left for the future to work out.

Herr Frank, the steward, was still at Wilicza. He had put off his
removal for a year, yielding to the express wish of his employer, who
was most desirous of keeping this clever, experienced ally at his
side for a while. Now only, when the most urgent measures for the
re-establishment of order had been successfully taken, did Frank
definitely resign his office, with a view to carrying out that
long-cherished project of his, of settling down on his own land. The
pretty and not unimportant estate which he had bought, lay in another
province, in a pleasant situation and in full enjoyment of peace and
order, strongly contrasting in this last respect with the old Polish
neighbourhood where mischief was ever brewing, where the very air was
full of plots, against which the steward had battled for twenty years,
but which his soul abhorred. Two months would elapse before the
purchaser could take possession of his new home; in the mean time he
stayed on at Wilicza in his old position.

As to Gretchen, the fact that she was her father's darling had been
amply demonstrated on the occasion of her marriage; her dowry exceeded
all the calculations which Assessor Hubert had so minutely entered into
for the benefit of another. The wedding had taken place in the
preceding autumn, and the newly married pair had gone to live in J----,
where Professor Fabian now actually filled the post which had been
offered to him, and where 'we meet with the most extraordinary
success,' said his wife, writing to her father. Fabian overcame his
timid dread of a public life more easily and quickly than he could have
believed possible, and justified all the expectations entertained with
regard to the author of the 'History of Teutonism,' who had so suddenly
sprung into fame. His amiable, modest manners, which stood out in
strong contrast to his predecessor's uncourteous and overbearing ways,
won for him the general good-will; and his young and blooming wife
contributed not a little to the advancement of his social position, so
gracefully did she preside over the charming home which her father's
generous kindness had fitted up with every elegance and comfort. The
young couple were now about to pay their first visit to the paternal
roof, and were expected to arrive at Wilicza in the course of a few
days.

Things had not gone so well with Assessor Hubert, though a quite
unexpected and rather considerable accession of fortune had lately come
to him. Unfortunately, the event which procured him the legacy,
deprived the family of its man of mark. Professor Schwarz had died some
months before; and, that celebrated scholar being unmarried, his
fortune went to his nearest of kin. Hubert's pecuniary position was
greatly improved thereby, but what did it profit him? The bride on whom
he had so surely counted had given herself to another, and as yet he
did not hold his Counsellorship. There seemed, indeed, for the present,
small prospect of his promotion, although he outdid himself in official
zeal, although he kept the police department of L---- in a twitter of
perpetual alarm with his so-called discoveries, and would have counted
no exertions too great, could he, in that year of revolution, but have
laid hands on a traitor or two, conspiring against his own State. In
this hope he was, however, still destined to be disappointed. And this
same State behaved in a manner altogether disgraceful towards its
most faithful servant; it seemed to have no fitting sense of his
self-sacrifice and general devotedness, but rather to incline to the
view taken by Frank, who declared, in his outspoken way, that the
Assessor was doing one stupid thing after another, and would get
himself turned out of the service before long. Indeed, at every fresh
promotion, Hubert was passed over in so pointed a fashion that his
colleagues began to laugh at and to taunt him with his nonsuccess. Then
a dark resolve shaped itself in the mind of this deeply injured man.
Schwarz's legacy had made him quite independent; why should he longer
endure to be so overlooked and neglected? why continue to serve this
ungrateful State, which persistently refused to recognise his brilliant
abilities, while insignificant men like Dr. Fabian were called to fill
important posts and had distinctions heaped on them?

Hubert spoke of tendering his resignation. He even mentioned the
subject in the presence of the President; but great was his
mortification when that magnate, with crushing affability, encouraged
him in the idea. His Excellency was of opinion that the Assessor, with
his private means, was in no need of an official position, and would do
well to withdraw from its fatigues. Besides, he was of rather an
'excitable' temperament, and such duties as his required, above
everything, calmness and reflection. Hubert felt something of his
celebrated relative's misanthropy arise within him, as he went home
after this conversation, and, on the spur of the moment, drew up his
letter of resignation. This letter was sent off and actually accepted!
As yet, neither the State nor the police department of L---- had been
thrown out of their accustomed grooves by the circumstance, but some
disturbance might be looked for in the ensuing month, when his
threatened retirement would assume the proportions of an accomplished
fact. The nephew had in him too much of that uncle, whose unfortunate
strategy he had lately imitated, not to live in expectation of some
impending catastrophe.

In the courtyard at Rakowicz stood the horse of the young lord of
Wilicza. It happened but rarely that Nordeck rode over to this house,
and when he came, his visits were of short duration. The breach between
him and his nearest relations was still unhealed; late events seemed,
indeed, rather to have widened it, to have sundered them still more
completely.

Countess Morynska and Waldemar were alone together in the lady's
private sitting-room. Wanda was much changed. She had always been pale,
but with a paleness which had nothing in common with the deathly hue
now overspreading her face. Visible tokens were there of all that she
had suffered of late--suffered, in knowing the father she so
passionately loved in prison, sick nigh unto death without the power of
going to him and allaying his pain even for a moment, in witnessing the
final wreck and failure of those bright dreams of liberty, for which he
had so enthusiastically staked his life, and which were not without a
powerful hold on his daughter's soul. Mortal anxiety as to the decision
of this twofold destiny, constant vacillation between hope and fear,
the agitating suspense of each fresh attempt at rescue--these all had
left most evident traces. Wanda's was one of those natures which will
face the heaviest misfortunes with desperate energy so long as a
glimmer of hope is left, but which, when once this glimmer is
extinguished, break down utterly. She seemed nearly to have reached
this despairing point. At the present moment a sort of feverish
excitement upheld her. She had evidently rallied what was but too
surely her last remaining strength.

Waldemar stood before her, unchanged, haughty and unbending as ever. In
his manner there was but little of that forbearance to which the young
Countess's appearance made so urgent an appeal. His attitude was almost
menacing, and mingled anger and pain were in his voice as he spoke to
her.

"For the last time I entreat you to give up the thought. You would only
incur death yourself, without being of any help to your father. It
would be one torment more for him to see you dying before his eyes. You
are bent on following him into that fearful desert, that murderous
climate, to which the strongest succumb; you, who from your earliest
youth have been delicately nursed, and surrounded by all life's
comforts, purpose now to expose yourself to the most cruel privations.
The tried and tempered steel of the Count's endurance may possibly hold
out under them, but you would fall a victim before many months were
over. Ask the doctor, ask your own face; they will tell you that you
would not live a year in that terrible land."

"Do you think my father will live longer?" replied Wanda, with a
trembling voice. "We have nothing more to hope or expect from life, but
we will at least die together."

"And I?" asked Waldemar, with bitter reproach.

She turned away without answering him.

"And I?" he repeated, more vehemently. "What shall I do? What is to
become of me?"

"You at least are free. You have life before you. Bear it--I have worse
to bear!"

An angry remonstrance was on Waldemar's lips; but he glanced at that
pale, troubled face, and that glance made him pause. He forced himself
to be calm.

"Wanda, when, a year ago, we came at last to understand each other, the
promise you had given my brother stood between us. I would have fought
my battle, have won you from him at any cost; but it never came to
that. His death has torn down the barrier, and no matter what may
threaten us from without, it is down, and we are free. By Leo's newly
opened grave, while the sword was still impending over your father's
head, I did not dare speak to you of love, of our union. I forced
myself to wait, to see you but seldom, and only for a few minutes at a
time. When I came over to Rakowicz, you and my mother let me feel that
you still looked on me as an enemy; but I hoped for better days, for a
happier future, and now you meet me with such a determination as this!
Can you not understand that I will combat it as long as breath is left
in me? 'We will die together!'--easily said and easily done when
bullets are flying thick and fast, when, like Leo, one may be shot to
the heart in a moment. But have you reflected what death in exile
really may be? A slow wasting away; a long protracted struggle against
privations which break the spirit before they destroy the body; far
from one's country, cut off from the world and its interests, from all
that intellectual life which to you is as necessary as the air you
breathe; to be weighed down and gradually stifled by the load of
misery! And you require of me that I shall endure to see it, that I
shall stand by, and suffer you voluntarily to dedicate yourself to such
a fate?"

A slight shudder passed through the young Countess's frame. The truth
of his description may have gone home to her; but she persisted in her
silence.

"And your father accepts this incredible sacrifice," went on Waldemar,
more and more excitedly, "and my mother gives her approval to the plan.
Their object is simply this, to drag you from my arms, to achieve which
they will even subject you to a living death. Had I fallen instead of
Leo, and the present cruel fate overtaken the Count, he would have
commanded you to stay, my mother would energetically have defended her
son's rights, and would have compelled you to give up so ill-judged a
scheme; but now, they themselves have suggested these ideas of
martyrdom, although they know that it will be your death. It does away
with all prospect of our union, even in the far distant future, and
that is enough for them!"

"Do not speak so bitterly," Wanda interrupted him. "You do my family
injustice. I give you my word that, in taking this resolution, I have
been guided by none. My father is advancing towards old age. His
wounds, his long imprisonment, more than all else, the defeat of our
cause, have broken him down morally and physically. I am all that is
left to him, the one tie which still binds him to life. I am his
altogether. The lot, which you so forcibly described just now, will be
his lot. Do you think I could have one hour's peace at your side,
knowing him to be journeying towards such a fate alone, abandoned to
his doom, feeling that I myself was bringing on him the crudest grief
of his life, by marrying you, whom he still looks on as one of
our enemies? The one mitigation of his terrible sentence I could
obtain--and that with the utmost difficulty--was a permission for
me to accompany my father. I knew that I should have a hard fight with
you--how hard it would be I am only learning now. Spare me, Waldemar, I
have not much strength left."

"No, not for me," said Waldemar, bitterly. "All the strength and love
in you are given to your father. What shall become of me, how I am to
endure the misery of separation, you do not stay to enquire. I was a
fool when I believed in that impulse which threw you into my arms in a
moment of danger. You were 'Wanda' to me but for an instant. When I saw
you next day, you spoke to me as Countess Morynska, and are so speaking
to me to-day. My mother is right. Your national prejudices are your
very heart's blood, the food on which you have been nourished since
your infancy; you cannot renounce them without renouncing life
itself--to them we are both to be offered up--to them your father is
ready to sacrifice his only child. He would never, never have consented
that you should accompany him, if the man, who loved you, had been a
Pole. I being that man, he will agree to any plan which may part you
from me. What matter, if only he can preserve you from the German, if
he stand faithfully by the national creed? Can you Poles feel nothing
but hate--hate which stretches even beyond the grave?"

"If my father were free, I might perhaps find courage to set him and
all that you call prejudice at defiance," said Wanda, in a low voice.
"As it is, I cannot, and"--here all her old energy gleamed forth
anew--"I will not, for it would be betraying my duty as his child. I
will go with him, even though it costs me my life. I will not leave him
alone in his distress."

She spoke these words with a steady decision which showed her
resolution to be unalterable. Waldemar seemed to feel it. He gave up
his resistance.

"When do you set out?" he asked, after a pause.

"Next month. I am not to see my father again until we meet at O----.
There my aunt will also be allowed one interview with him. She will go
with me so far. You see we need not say good-bye to-day; we have some
weeks before us. But promise me not to come to Rakowicz in the mean
time, not again to assail me with reproaches and arguments, as you have
this morning. I need all my courage for the hour of parting, and you
rob me of it with your despair. We shall see each other yet once
again--until then, farewell!"

"Farewell," he said, shortly, almost roughly, without looking at her,
or taking the hand she held out to him.

"Waldemar!" There was heart-stirring sorrow and reproach in her tone,
but it was powerless to lay his fierce irritation. Anger and misery at
losing his love overcame for the moment all the young man's sense of
justice.

"You may be right," he said, in his harshest tone, "but I cannot
bring myself all at once to appreciate this exalted spirit of
self-sacrifice--still less to share it. My whole nature rises up in
protest against it. As, however, you insist on carrying your plan into
execution, as you have irrevocably decreed our parting, I must see how
I can get through existence alone. I shall make no further moan, that
you know. My bitterness only offends you, it will be best that I should
be silent. Farewell, Wanda."

A conflict was going on in Wanda's mind. She knew that it only needed
one word from her to change all his harshness and austerity into soft
tenderness; but to speak that word now would be to renew the contest,
to endanger the victory so hardly won. She was silent, paused for a
second, then bowed her head slightly, and left the room.

Waldemar let her go. He stood with his face turned to the window. Many
bitter emotions were written on that face, but no trace was there of
the resignation which the woman he loved had required of him. Leaning
his brow against the panes, he remained long motionless, lost in
thought, and only looked up at last on hearing his name spoken.

It was the Princess who had come in unnoticed. How the last year with
all its cruel blows had told upon this woman! When, in the old days,
her son had met her in C---- after a separation of years, she had just
suffered a heavy loss; then as now she had been draped in deepest
mourning. But her husband's death had not bent her proud energetic
spirit; she had clearly recognised the duties devolving on her as a
widow and a mother, had designed, and steadily carried out, the new
plan of life which for a time had made her ruler and mistress of
Wilicza. She had overcome her grief, because self-control was
necessary, because there were other tasks before Baratowski's widow
than that merely of deploring his loss, and Princess Hedwiga had ever
possessed the enviable faculty of subordinating her dearest feelings to
the outward calls of necessity.

Now, however, it was otherwise. The mourner still bore herself erect,
and, at a first cursory glance, no very striking alteration might have
been remarked in her; but he who looked closer would have seen the
change which Leo Baratowski's death had wrought in his mother. There
was a rigid look on her features; not the quiescence of still
resignation, but the dead calm of one who has nothing more to hope or
to lose, for whom life and its interests have no further concern. Those
eyes, once so imperious, were dull now and shaded; the proud brow,
which but a year before had been smooth as marble, was furrowed with
deep lines, telling of anguish, and there were patches of grey in the
dark hair. The blow, which had fallen on this mother, wounding her
mortally in her pride as in her affections, had evidently attacked the
very well-springs of her being, and the defeat of her people, the fate
of the brother, whom, after Leo, she loved more than all on earth, had
done the rest--the once inflexible, indomitable spirit was broken.

"Have you really been plying Wanda with argument and remonstrances
again?" said she, and her voice too was changed; it had a dull, weary
sound. "You must know that it is all in vain."

Waldemar turned round. His face had not cleared; it was dark and
wrathful still, as he answered--

"Yes, it was all in vain."

"I told you so beforehand. Wanda is not one of those women who say No
to-day and to-morrow throw themselves into your arms. Her resolution,
once taken, was irrevocable. You ought to recognise this, instead of
distressing her by re-opening a useless strife. It is you, and you
alone, who show her no mercy."

"I?" exclaimed Waldemar fiercely. "Who was it, then, that suggested
this resolution to her?"

The Princess's eyes met his without flinching. "No one," she replied.
"I, as you know, have long since ceased to interfere between you. I
have learned by too bitter experience how powerless I am to oppose your
passion ever again to attempt to check it, but I neither can nor will
prevent Wanda from going. She is all my brother has in the world. She
will only do her duty in following him."

"To her death," added Waldemar.

The Princess was sitting now, wearily resting her head on her hand.

"Death has come near us too often of late for any one of us to fear it.
When the strokes of Fate fall thick and fast, as they have fallen upon
us, one grows familiar with the worst; and this is the case with Wanda.
We have nothing more to lose, therefore nothing to fear. This unhappy
year has blighted other hopes than yours; so many have gone to their
graves mid blood and tears! You will have to bear it, if, to all the
other ruins, the wreck of your happiness is added."

"You would hardly forgive me were I to rescue my happiness from the
ruin of your hopes," said Waldemar, bitterly. "Well, you need not be
uneasy. I have seen plainly to-day that Wanda is not to be moved."

"And you?"

"Well, I submit."

The Princess scanned his face for some seconds.

"What are you thinking of doing?" she asked suddenly.

"Nothing; you hear--I give up hope and submit to the inevitable."

His mother's eye still rested scrutinisingly upon him.

"You do _not_ submit, or I am much mistaken in my son. Is that
resignation which is written on your brow? You have some plan, some
mad, perilous project. Beware! Wanda's own will stands opposed to you.
She will yield to no compulsion, not even from you."

"We shall see that," replied the young man, coldly--he gave up denial,
finding the mask was seen through. "In any case, you may set your mind
perfectly at ease. My plan may be a mad one, but if it presents any
danger, that danger will be mine only--at most, my life will be at
stake."

"At most, your life?" repeated the Princess. "And you can say that to
reassure your mother!"

"Pardon me, but I think there has been small question with you of a
mother's feelings since the day you lost your Leo."

The Princess gazed fixedly on the ground.

"From that hour you have let me feel that I am childless," she said in
a low tone.

"I?" exclaimed Waldemar. "Was it for me to put obstacles in the
way of your leaving Wilicza. I knew right well that you were hurrying
away to escape from me, that the sight of me was intolerable to you.
Mother"--he drew nearer her involuntarily, and, harsh and unsparing as
were his words, they yet told of a secret rankling pain--"when all your
self-control gave way, and you sank down weeping on my brother's
corpse, I dared not say one comforting word--I dare not even now. I
have always been a stranger, an alien from your heart; I never held a
place in it. If, from time to time, I have come over here to Rakowicz,
it was because I could not live without seeing Wanda. I have never
thought of seeking you, any more than you have sought me in this time
of mourning; but truly the blame of our estrangement does not lie at my
door. Do not impute it to me as a crime that I left you alone in the
bitterest hour of your life."

The Princess had listened in silence, not attempting to interrupt him;
but as she answered, her lips moved convulsively, contracted, as it
were, by some inward spasm.

"If I have loved your brother more than you, I have lost him--how have
I lost him! I could have borne that he should fall, I myself sent him
out to fight for his country--but that he should fall in such a way!"
Her voice failed her, she struggled for breath, and there was a pause
of some seconds before she could continue. "I let my Leo go without a
word of pardon, without the last farewell for which he prayed on his
knees, and that very day they laid him at my feet shot through the
breast. All that is left to me of him--his memory--is indissolubly
connected with that fatal act of his which brought destruction on our
troops. My people's cause is lost; my brother is going to meet a doom
worse by far than death. Wanda will follow him. I stand altogether
alone. I think you may be satisfied, Waldemar, with the manner in which
Fate has avenged you."

In the utter weariness of her voice, the dull rigidity of her features,
there was something far more pathetic than in the wildest outbreak of
sorrow. Waldemar himself could but be impressed by it; he bent down
over her.

"Mother," said he, meaningly; "the Count is still in his own country,
Wanda is still here. She has to-day unconsciously pointed out to me a
way in which I may yet hope to win her. I shall take that way."

The Princess started up in alarm. Her look sought his anxiously,
enquiringly; she read her answer in his eyes.

"You mean to attempt ..."

"What you two have attempted before me. You have failed, I know.
Perhaps I shall succeed better."

A ray of hope illumined the Princess's countenance, but it died out
again immediately. She shook her head.

"No, no; do not undertake it. It is useless; and if I say so, you may
rest assured that no means have been left untried. We have made every
effort, and all in vain. Pawlick has paid for his fidelity with his
life."

"Pawlick was an old man," replied Waldemar, "and an anxious, timorous
nature to boot. He had devotion enough for any task, but he had not the
requisite prudence, not the requisite audacity at a critical moment.
Such an enterprise demands youth and a bold spirit; above all, it is
essential that the principal should act in person, trusting to no one
but himself."

"And himself incur all the terrible danger. We have learned, to our
cost, how they guard their frontiers and their prisoners out yonder.
Waldemar, am I to lose you too?"

Waldemar looked at her in amazement, as the last words burst from her
lips like a cry of pain. A bright flush overspread his face.

"Your brother's freedom depends on it," he reminded her.

"Bronislaus is beyond rescue," said the Princess, hopelessly. "Do not
risk your life now in our lost cause. It has cost victims enough! Think
of Pawlick's fate, of your brother's death!" She seized his hand, and
held it tightly. "You shall not go. I was over rash just now when I
said I had nothing more to lose; at this moment I feel there is one
thing left to me. I will not give up you too, my last, my only child.
Do not go, my son. Your mother entreats you; do not go!"

At length her heart warmed towards him with maternal love; at length
this love spoke to him in tender accents, such as Waldemar had never
before heard from her lips. Even to this proud, inexorable woman an
hour had come, when, seeing all around her tottering and falling, she
was fain to cling desperately to the one support which Fate had left
her. The spurned, neglected son resumed his rights at last. True, the
grave had opened for his brother, before any such rights were accorded
to him.

Any other mother and son might now have clasped each other in a long
embrace, striving in this rush of new-born tenderness to drown all
memory of their long, deep-rooted estrangement; these natures were too
hard, and too alike in their hardness, for any such swift and absolute
revulsion of feeling. Waldemar spoke no word, but for the first time in
his life he lifted his mother's hand to his lips, and pressed them on
it long and fervently.

"You will stay?" implored the Princess.

He drew himself up. The bright flush was still on his face, but the
last few minutes seemed to have transfigured it. All rancour and
bitterness had vanished from his features; his eyes still sparkled with
defiance, but it was the glad defiance of one confident of victory, and
ready to enter the lists and do battle with Fate.

"No," he replied, "I shall go; but I thank you for those words--they
make the venture a light one to me. You have always looked upon me as
your enemy, because I would not lend my hand to further your plans. I
could not do that--I cannot now; but nothing forbids me to rescue the
Count from the consequences of an inhuman verdict. At all events, I am
determined to make the attempt, and, if any one can accomplish it, I
shall. You know the spur which urges me on."

The Princess gave up all resistance. She could not remain quite
hopeless in face of his steady assurance.

"And Wanda?" she asked.

"She said to me to-day, 'If my father were free, I might find courage
to defy all and everything for your sake.' Tell her I may one day
remind her of those words. Now ask me nothing more, mother. You know
that I must act alone, for I alone am unsuspected. You are distrusted
and watched. Any step taken by you would betray the enterprise, any
news sent you by me would jeopardise it. Leave all in my hands; and
now, farewell. I must away, we have no more time to lose."

He touched his mother's hand with his lips once more, and hastened from
her. The Princess felt something akin to a pang at this sudden, rapid
leave-taking. She went up to the window to wave a last adieu to the
traveller as he hurried away; but she waited in vain. His eyes sought,
indeed, one of the Castle windows, as he rode slowly, lingeringly
through the courtyard; but that window was not hers. He gazed
steadfastly, persistently, up to Wanda's room, as though such a look
must have power to draw his love to him, to force from her a parting
'God speed!' It was for her sake alone he was entering on the perilous
task before him; his mother, the reconciliation so lately sealed, all
faded away and sank to nought when his Wanda came in question.

And he really obtained his wish of seeing her once more. The young
Countess must have appeared at the bay-window, for Waldemar's face
suddenly lighted up, as though a ray of sunshine had fallen athwart it.
He waved his hand to her, then gave his Norman the rein, and dashed,
quick as the wind, out of the Castle-yard.

The Princess still stood in her place, gazing after him. He had not
looked back to her--she was forgotten! At this thought, for the first
time that stab went through her heart which had so often traversed
Waldemar's at sight of her tenderness to Leo--and yet in this moment a
conviction she had hitherto refused fully to admit forced itself
irresistibly upon her--a conviction that the inheritance, all share of
which had been denied her darling, had fallen to her first-born son,
that to him his mother's strength and energy had descended, that in
mind and character he approved himself very blood of her blood.



                              CHAPTER XV.


In the forenoon of a cool but sunny May day, Herr Frank was returning
from L---- whither he had been to fetch his daughter and son-in-law.
Professor Fabian and his wife were seated in the carriage with him. The
former's new academical dignity seemed to agree right well with him; he
looked in better health and spirits than ever. His young wife, in
consideration of her husband's position, had assumed a certain
stateliness of demeanour which she did her very best to maintain, and
which was in comic contrast to her fresh, youthful appearance.
Fortunately, she often fell out of her rôle, and became true Gretchen
Frank once more; but at this moment, it was the Professor's wife who
sat by her father's side with much gravity of deportment, giving him an
account of their life in J----.

"Yes, papa, it will be a great relief to us to come and stay with you
for a time," said she, passing her handkerchief over her blooming face,
which certainly did not look as though it needed relief. "We University
people have so many claims upon us. We are expected to interest
ourselves in every possible subject, and our position requires so much
from us. We Germanists stand well to the front in the scientific
movement of the age."

"You certainly appear to stand very much to the front," said the
steward, who was listening with some wonder. "Tell me, child, which of
you really fills the professorial chair at J----, your husband or
yourself?"

"The wife belongs to the husband, so it comes to the same," declared
Gretchen. "Without me Emile never could have accepted the post,
distinguished scholar as he is. Professor Weber said to him the day
before yesterday in my presence, 'My worthy colleague, you are a
perfect treasure to the University, as regards science, but for all the
details of practical life you are worth absolutely nothing. In all such
matters you are quite at sea. It is a mercy your young wife is so well
able to supply your deficiencies.' He is quite right, is he not, Emile?
Without me you would be lost in a social point of view."

"Altogether," assented the Professor, full of faith, and with a look of
grateful tenderness at his wife.

"Do you hear, papa, he owns it," said she, turning to her father.
"Emile is one of the few men who know how to appreciate their wives.
Hubert never would have done that. By-the-by, how is the Assessor? Is
not he made Counsellor even yet?"

"No, not yet, and he is so wrath at it that he has given in his
resignation. At the beginning of next month he quits the service of the
State."

"What a loss for all the future ministries of our country!" laughed
Gretchen. "He had quite made up his mind he should come into office
some day, and he used to practice the ministerial bearing when he was
sitting in our parlour. Is he still tormented with the fixed idea of
discovering traitors and conspirators everywhere?"

Frank laughed in his turn. "I really don't know, for I have hardly seen
him since your engagement was announced, and never once spoken to him.
He has laid my house under a ban ever since that time. You might
certainly have told him the news in a more considerate manner. When he
comes over to Wilicza, which does not happen often, he stops down in
the village, and never comes near the manor-farm. I have no
transactions with him now that Herr Nordeck has taken the direction of
the police into his own hands--but the Assessor may pass for a rising
man nowadays: he inherited the greater part of Schwarz's fortune. The
Professor died a few months ago."

"Of bilious fever, probably," put in Mrs. Fabian.

"Gretchen!" remonstrated her husband, in a tone between entreaty and
reproof.

"Well, he was of a very bilious temperament. He went just as much into
that extreme as you do into the other with your mildness and
forbearance. Just fancy, papa, directly after his nomination to J----,
Emile wrote to the Professor, and assured him that he was quite
innocent of all the disputes which had taken place at the University.
As a matter of course, the letter was never acknowledged,
notwithstanding which, my lord and husband feels himself called upon,
now that this disagreeable but distinguished person has betaken himself
to a better world, to write a grandiloquent article on him, deploring
the loss to science, just as if the deceased had been his dearest
friend."

"I did it from conviction, my dear," said Fabian, in his gentle,
earnest way. "The Professor's ungenial temper too often acted as a
hindrance to that full recognition of his talents which was due to
them. I felt it incumbent on me to recall to the mind of the public
what a loss science has sustained in him. Whatever may have been his
defects of manner, he was a man of rare merit."

Gretchen's lip curled contemptuously.

"Well, he may have been; I'm sure I don't mind. But now to a more
important matter. So Herr Nordeck is not in Wilicza?"

"No," replied the steward, laconically. "He has gone on a journey."

"Yes, we know that. He wrote to my husband not long ago, and said he
was thinking of going over to Altenhof, and that he should probably
spend a few weeks there. Just now, when he has his hands so full of
business at Wilicza!--it seems strange!"

"Waldemar has always looked on Altenhof as his real home," said the
Professor. "For that reason, he never could make up his mind to sell
the estate which Herr Witold bequeathed to him by his will. It is
natural he should wish to revisit the place where all his youth was
passed."

Gretchen looked highly incredulous. "You ought to know your former
pupil better. He is not likely to be troubled by any sentimental
reminiscences of his youth at a time when he is engaged in the
tremendous task of Germanising his Slavonian estates. No, there is
something in the background, his attachment to Countess Morynska,
probably. Perhaps he has resolved to put all thoughts of her out of his
head--it would be the wisest thing he could do! These Polish women
sometimes get quite absurd and irrational with their national
fanaticism, and Countess Wanda is to the full as great a fanatic as any
of them. Not to give her hand to the man she loves, just because he is
a German! I would have taken my Emile, if he had been a Hottentot! and
now he is always fretting over the supposed unhappiness of his dear
Waldemar. He seriously believes that that personage has a heart like
other human beings, which I, for one, emphatically deny."

"Gretchen!" said the Professor again, this time with an attempt to look
severe, in which laudable effort he signally failed.

"Emphatically!" repeated his young wife. "When a man has a grief at his
heart, he shows it one way or another. Herr Nordeck is as busy as
possible, making such a stir here in Wilicza that all L---- is clapping
its hands to its ears, and when he acted as best man at my wedding,
there was not a trace of trouble to be seen in him."

"I have already told you that extreme reserve is one of Waldemar's
chief characteristics," declared Fabian. "This passion might sap and
utterly ruin him without his betraying anything of it to the eyes of
others."

"A man who does not show it when he is crossed in love, can't have any
very deep feelings," persisted Gretchen. "It was plain enough in you
ten paces off. The last few weeks before our engagement, when you
thought I was going to marry the Assessor, you went about with the most
woe-begone countenance. I was dreadfully sorry for you; but you were so
shy, there was no making you speak out."

The steward had abstained from all part in this conversation, being,
apparently, fully taken up by an examination of the trees by the
wayside. The road, which ran for a short distance along the bank of the
river, became rather bad just at this place. The damage caused by the
late high tides had not yet been repaired, and in the present
dilapidated state of the quay, shaken by the constant wash of the
water, some hesitation might reasonably be felt at driving over it.
Frank, it is true, maintained that there was not the slightest danger,
adding that he had passed over that very spot on his outward journey;
but Gretchen did not place absolute reliance on these assurances. She
preferred getting out, and walking the short distance to the
neighbouring bridge. The gentlemen followed her example, and all three
set out, taking a higher footpath, while the carriage proceeded at a
slow pace over the quay below.

They were not the only travellers who considered caution the better
part of valour.

From the bridge a carriage was seen approaching, the occupant of which
appeared to share Gretchen's views. He called to the coachman to stop,
and alighted in his turn, just as Frank and his companions reached the
spot, and thus suddenly found themselves face to face with Herr
Assessor Hubert.

This unexpected meeting caused some painful embarrassment on either
side. The parties had not spoken since the day when the Assessor,
furious at the engagement so recently contracted, had rushed out
of the house, and the steward, under the impression that he had
lost his reason, had sent the Inspector to look after him; but
their acquaintance was of too old standing for them now to pass as
strangers--they all felt that. Frank was the first to recover himself.
He took the best possible way out of the difficulty by going up to the
Assessor as though nothing had happened, offering him his hand in the
most friendly manner, and expressing his pleasure at seeing him again
at last.

The Assessor stood erect and stiff, clothed in black from head to foot.
He had a crape band on his hat, and another on his arm. The family
celebrity was duly mourned, but the money inherited appeared to have
dropped some balm into the heart of the sorrowing nephew, for he looked
the very reverse of disconsolate. There was a peculiar expression on
his face to-day, an exalted self-satisfaction, a tranquil grandeur. He
seemed in the humour to forgive all offences, to make peace with his
kind--so, after a moment's hesitation, he took the offered hand, and
replied by a few polite words.

The Professor and Gretchen now came forward. Hubert cast one glance of
dark reproach at the young lady--who, in her little travelling-hat and
flowing veil, certainly looked charming enough to awaken regretful
feelings in the heart of her former adorer--bowed to her, and then
turned to her husband.

"Professor Fabian," said he, "you have sympathised with the great loss
which my family, and, with it, the whole scientific world, has
experienced. The letter you wrote to my uncle long ago convinced him
that you were blameless with regard to the intrigues which had been
directed against him, that you at least could recognise his great
merits without envy or jealousy. He expressed so much to me himself,
and did you ample justice. The eulogistic notice, which you have
dedicated to his memory, does you great honour; it has been a source of
consolation to his surviving relatives. I thank you in the name of the
family."

Fabian heartily pressed the speaker's hand, which the latter had
voluntarily extended towards him. His predecessor's hostile attitude
and the Assessor's grudge against him had weighed heavily on his soul,
innocent as he knew himself to be of the mortification endured by both.
He condoled with the afflicted nephew in terms of the sincerest
sympathy.

"Yes, at the University we all deeply regret the loss of Professor
Schwarz," said Gretchen; and she was hypocritical enough to offer, in
her turn, a long string of condolences on the death of a man whom she
had thoroughly detested, and whom, even in his grave, she could not
forgive for his criticism on the 'History of Teutonism.'

"And so you have really tendered your resignation?" asked the steward,
adverting to another topic. "You are leaving the service of the State,
Herr Assessor?"

"In a week," assented Hubert. "But, with respect to the title you give
me, Herr Frank, I must permit myself a slight correction. I ..." Here
followed a dramatic pause, far longer and more impressive than that
which in bygone days was intended to prelude his love declaration,
during which pause he looked at his auditors successively, as though to
prepare them for some most weighty intelligence; then, drawing a long
breath, he concluded, "I was yesterday promoted to the rank of
Counsellor."

"Thank goodness, at last!" said Gretchen, in a loud whisper, while her
husband caught hold of her arm in alarm, to warn her against further
imprudent utterances. Fortunately, Hubert had not heard the
exclamation. He received Frank's congratulations with a dignity
befitting the occasion, and then bowed graciously in reply to the good
wishes of the young couple. His placable frame of mind was now
explained. The new Counsellor stood high above all offences committed
against the former Assessor. He forgave all his enemies--he even
forgave the State, which had shown so tardy an appreciation of his
worth.

"The promotion will make no change in my determination," he continued,
it never having occurred to him that to this very determination he owed
his advancement. "The State sometimes finds out too late the value of
its servants; but the die is cast! I still, of course, fulfil the
functions of my former position, and in this, the last week of my
official activity, an important trust has been confided to me. I am now
on my way to W----."

"Across the frontier?" said Fabian, in surprise.

"Exactly. I have to consult with the authorities there relative to the
capture and reddition of a prisoner charged with high treason."

Gretchen gave her husband a look which said plainly: "There, he is
beginning again already! Even the Counsellorship has not cured him of
it"--but Frank had grown attentive all at once; he disguised any
interest he might feel in the subject, however, and merely remarked in
a careless, indifferent way--

"I thought the insurrection was at an end."

"But there are conspiracies on foot still," cried Hubert, eagerly. "A
striking proof of this is now before us. You, probably, are not aware
as yet that Count Morynski, the leader, the soul of the whole
revolution, has escaped from prison."

Fabian started, and his wife evinced a lively surprise; but the steward
only said quietly, "Impossible!"

The new Counsellor shrugged his shoulders. "It is, unfortunately, no
longer any secret. The fact is known already all through L----, where
Wilicza and Rakowicz still form the centre of general interest. Of
course, Wilicza is beyond suspicion now, under Herr Nordeck's energetic
rule; but Rakowicz is the residence of the Princess Baratowska, and I
maintain that that woman is a source of danger to the whole province.
There will be no peace so long as she remains in the land. Heaven knows
whom she may now have stirred up to rescue her brother. Some reckless
madman it must have been, who sets no store by his life. The prisoners
under sentence of deportation are most closely guarded. Notwithstanding
this, the accessory has, or the accessories have, managed to establish
communication with the Count, and to furnish him with the means of
escape. They have found their way into the interior of the fortress,
have reached the very walls of his prison. Traces have been found which
show that the fugitive was there received by them and conveyed past
posts and sentries, over fortifications and ramparts--how is still an
enigma. Half the sentinels on duty must have been bribed. The whole
fort is in commotion at the unheard-of boldness of the enterprise.
Scouts have been out all over the neighbourhood for the last ten days,
but no clue has as yet been found."

Fabian at first had merely listened with some interest to Hubert's
story, but as he heard such repeated mention of the amazing boldness of
the undertaking, he began to be uneasy. A vague presentiment arose in
his mind. He was about to put a hasty question, but just in time he met
a warning look from his father-in-law. That look distinctly forbade him
to speak. The Professor was silent, but his heart quailed within him.

Gretchen had not noticed this dumb intelligence between the two; she
was following the tale with naïve and eager attention. Hubert went on:

"The fugitives cannot be far off, for the escape was discovered almost
immediately. The Count has not yet passed the frontier, that is
certain, and it is equally sure that he will make for it and attempt to
get over on to German territory, where he would be in less danger. He
will probably turn his steps to Rakowicz in the first place, Wilicza,
thank God, being now closed to all such scheming plots and intrigues,
though Herr Nordeck does not happen to be there just at present."

"No," said the steward, speaking with much decision. "He is over at
Altenhof."

"I know; he told the President he was going there when he called to
take leave of him. This absence of his will spare him much trouble and
annoyance. It would be very painful to him to see his uncle captured
and given up, as he will be beyond a doubt."

"What, you would give him up?" cried Gretchen, impetuously.

Hubert looked at her in astonishment.

"Of course; he is a criminal, convicted of treason to a friendly State.
Its Government will insist upon his being delivered up."

The girl looked from her husband to her father; she could not
understand how it was they neither of them joined in her
expostulations, but Frank's eyes were fixed on something in the far
distance, and Fabian uttered not a syllable.

Brave Gretchen, however, was not so easily intimidated. She indulged in
a series of no very flattering comments on the 'friendly State,' and
even directed some very pointed remarks against the Government of her
own land. Hubert listened in horror. For the first time he thanked God
in his heart that he had not made of this young lady a Counsellor's
consort. She was proving herself unfit to be the wife of a loyal
official. There was a taint of treason in her too!

"In your place, I should have refused the mission," she concluded at
last. "Just on the eve of your retirement, you could very well have
done so. I would not have closed my official career by delivering up a
poor hunted captive into the hands of his tormentors."

"The Government has named me Counsellor," replied Hubert, solemnly
emphasising the title, "and as such I shall do my duty. My State
commands, I obey--but I see that my carriage has got safely over the
critical spot. Madam, adieu; adieu, gentlemen. Duty calls me away!" and
with a bow and a flourish, he left them.

"Did you hear, Emile?" asked the young lady, when they were once more
seated in the carriage. "They have made him a Counsellor just a week
before he retires, so that he shall have no time to do anything stupid
in his new capacity. Well, he can't do much harm in future with the
mere title!"

She went on in this way, discussing her old friend's advancement and
Count Morynski's escape at great length, but received only short and
unsatisfactory answers. Her father and husband had become remarkably
monosyllabic, and it was fortunate that they soon reached the Wilicza
domain, for the conversation began to flag hopelessly.

The Professor's wife found many occasions for surprise, some even for
annoyance, during the course of the day. What perplexed her most, was
her father's behaviour. He was undoubtedly pleased to have them there;
he had taken her in his arms that morning and welcomed them both with
such hearty warmth, yet it seemed as though their coming, which had
been announced to him by a telegram the day before, was not quite
opportune, as though he would willingly have deferred it a little. He
declared himself to be overwhelmed with business, and appeared indeed
to be constantly occupied. Soon after they got home, he took his
son-in-law with him into his room, and they remained nearly an hour
closeted there together.

Gretchen's indignation waxed hot within her on finding that she was
neither included in this secret conference, nor enlightened as to its
nature by her husband. She set herself to watch and to think, and
suddenly many little things, which she had noticed during the journey,
recurred to her mind. Skilfully putting these together, she arrived at
a result, the correctness of which, to her mind, admitted of no doubt.

After dinner, the husband and wife remained alone together in the
parlour. The Professor paced up and down the room in a manner very
unusual to him, striving in vain to hide some inward uneasiness, but
too much absorbed by his thoughts to notice the silent fit which had
overtaken his young companion, generally so animated. Gretchen sat on
the sofa, and watched him for some time. At last she advanced to the
attack.

"Emile," she began, with a solemnity not exceeded by Hubert's, "Emile,
I am shamefully treated here!"

Fabian looked up, greatly shocked.

"You! Good Heavens, by whom?"

"By my papa, and, what is worst of all, by my own husband."

The Professor was at his wife's side in a moment. He took her hand in
his, but she drew it away very ungraciously.

"Shamefully!" she repeated. "You show no confidence in me whatever. You
have secrets from me. You treat me like a child, me, a married woman,
wife of a Professor of the J---- University! It is abominable!"

"Dear Gretchen," said Fabian, timidly, and then stopped.

"What was papa saying to you just now, when you were in his room?"
enquired Gretchen. "Why do you not confide in me? What are these
secrets between you two? Do not deny it, Emile, there are secrets
between you."

The Professor denied nothing. He looked down, and seemed extremely
oppressed and uncomfortable. His wife darted a severe, rebuking glance
at him.

"Well, I will tell _you_, then. There is a new plot on foot at Wilicza,
a conspiracy, as Hubert would say, and papa is in it this time, and he
has dragged you into it too. The whole thing is connected with Count
Morynski's rescue ..."

"Hush, child, for Heaven's sake!" cried Fabian in alarm; but Gretchen
paid no heed to his adjuration; she went on quite undisturbed.

"And Herr Nordeck is not at Altenhof, that is pretty sure, or you would
not be in such a state of anxiety. What is Count Morynski to you, or
his escape either? But your beloved Waldemar is concerned in it, and
that is why you are in such a flutter. It has been he who has carried
off the Count--that is just the sort of thing he would do."

The Professor was struck dumb with astonishment at his wife's powers of
discernment and combination. He was much impressed with her cleverness,
but a little disturbed to hear her count off on her fingers those
secrets which he had believed to be impenetrable.

"And no one says a word to me of it," continued Gretchen, with
increasing irritation, "not a word, although you know very well I can
keep a secret, though it was I, all by myself, who saved the Castle
that time by sending the Assessor over to Janowo. The Princess and
Countess Wanda will know everything. The Polish ladies always do
know everything. _Their_ husbands and fathers make confidants of
them--_they_ are allowed to take a part in politics, even in
conspiracies; but we poor German women are always oppressed and kept in
the background. We are humiliated, and treated like slaves ..." Here
the Professor's wife was so overcome with the sense of her slavery and
humiliation that she began to sob.

"Gretchen, my dear Gretchen, don't cry, I beseech you. You know that I
have no secrets from you in anything concerning myself; but there are
others implicated in this, and I have given my word to speak of it to
no one, not even to you."

"How can a married man give his word not to tell his wife!" cried
Gretchen, still sobbing. "It does not count for anything; no one has a
right to ask it of him."

"Well, but I have given it," said Fabian in despair, "so calm yourself.
I cannot bear to see you in tears. I ..."

"Well, this is a pretty specimen of petticoat government," exclaimed
Frank, who had come in meanwhile unnoticed, and had been a witness of
the little scene. "When she talks of oppression and slavery it seems to
me my young lady makes a mistake in the person. And you can put up with
that, Emile? Don't be offended--you may be a most remarkable scholar,
but, as a husband, I must say you play a sorry part."

He could not have come to his son-in-law's aid more effectually than by
these last words. Gretchen had no sooner heard them than she went over
to her husband's side.

"Emile is an excellent husband," she declared, indignantly, the source
of her tears suddenly drying up. "You need not reproach him, papa; it
is right and proper that a husband should have some feeling for his
wife."

Frank laughed. "Don't be so hasty, child, I meant no harm. Well, you
have put yourself out quite needlessly. As you have guessed so near the
truth, we must take you into the plot now, we can't help ourselves.
News has just arrived ..."

"From Waldemar?" inquired the Professor, interrupting him with eager
anxiety.

His father-in-law shook his head.

"No, from Rakowicz. We cannot hear from Herr Nordeck. He will either
come or ... or we must make up our minds to the worst. But the Princess
and her niece are to arrive in the course of the afternoon, and as soon
as they are there, you must go up to the Castle. It may look strange
that the two ladies, who have not been near Wilicza for a year, should
come over just now so unexpectedly, and should remain there alone in
the absence of the master. Your presence will give a more harmless
colour to the business; it will seem quite a natural coincidence. You
must pay a visit to the mother of your former pupil, and present
Gretchen as your wife. That will satisfy the servant-folk. The
ladies know the exact state of the case. I shall ride over to the
border-station, and wait there with the horses, as has been agreed. And
now, child, your husband must tell you all the rest, I have no time to
lose."

He went, and Gretchen sat down on the sofa again to receive her
husband's communications, well-pleased that she was now to be placed on
a par with Polish women, and admitted to take part in a conspiracy.


Evening had come, or rather night. All was quiet and asleep at the
manor-farm, and up at the Castle the servants had been despatched to
bed as early as possible. Some windows on the first story were still
lighted up, those of the green salon and the two adjoining rooms. In
one of the latter stood the tea-table, which had been prepared as
usual--any change might have excited surprise below stairs--but the
meal was naturally a mere form. Neither the Princess nor Wanda was to
be induced to take any refreshment, and even Professor Fabian turned
rebellious, and refused to have any tea. He declared he could not
swallow a drop, when his wife urged on him the necessity of taking some
support. She had brought him to the table almost by force, and was
administering a low-toned but most impressive lecture.

"Don't be so anxious, Emile. I shall have you ill with the agitation,
and the two ladies in there as well. Countess Wanda looks as pale as a
corpse, and the Princess's face is enough to frighten one. Neither of
them utters a word. I can't bear this state of mute suspense any
longer, and it will be a relief to them to be alone. We will leave them
together for half an hour."

Fabian assented, but pushed away the tea-cup she had forced upon him.

"I can't think why you are all in such despair. If Herr Nordeck has
declared that he will be here with the Count before midnight, he will
be here, even if a whole regiment is posted on the border ready to take
him. That man can manage anything. There must be something in the
superstition of his Wilicza people who one and all hold him to be
bullet-proof. He has just gone through dangers, only to hear of which
makes one's hair stand on end, and gone through them unharmed. He will
get safely across the frontier, you'll see."

"God grant it!" sighed Fabian. "If only that fellow Hubert were not
over at W----, precisely to-day of all days. He would recognise
Waldemar and the Count in any disguise. Suppose he should meet them!"

"Hubert has been doing stupid things all his life, he won't be likely
to do a clever one now in the last week of his official career. It is
not in him," said Gretchen contemptuously. "But he is right in one
thing. One no sooner sets foot in this Wilicza than one finds one's
self in the midst of a conspiracy. It must be in the air, I think, for
I don't understand else how we Germans allow ourselves to be brought
into it, how it is we are made to conspire in favour of these Poles,
Herr Nordeck, papa, even you and I. Well, I hope this is the last plot
Wilicza will ever see!"

The Princess and Wanda had remained in the adjoining room. Nothing had
been changed, either here, or in any of the other apartments, since she
had left them a year before; yet there was a desolate, uninhabited look
about the house, which seemed to say that the mistress had been long
absent. The lamp, which stood on a side-table, only lighted up a part
of the dark and lofty chamber; the rest of it lay altogether in shadow.

In this deep shadow sat the Princess, motionless, her eyes fixed on
vacancy. It was the very place in which she had sat on the morning of
Leo's fatal visit, of that visit which had resulted in so terrible a
catastrophe. The mother struggled hard against the recollections which
assailed her on all sides at the return to a place so associated with
her most cruel griefs. What had become of those proud, far-reaching
plans, of those hopes and projects which had all found their centre
here. They lay in ruins. Bronislaus' rescue was the one concession
wrung from Fate, and even this rescue was but half achieved. Perhaps at
this instant he and Waldemar were paying with their lives for their
attempt to consummate it.

Wanda stood in the recess of the centre window, looking out with a
fixed, strained gaze, as though her eyes could pierce through the
darkness reigning without. She had opened the window, but she did not
feel how sharply the night air smote her, did not know that she
shivered beneath its breath. For the Countess Morynska this hour
contained no remembrance of the past, with all its shattered plans and
hopes; all her thoughts were concentrated on the coming event, as she
waited in an anguish of expectation and deadly suspense. She no longer
trembled for her father alone, but for Waldemar also--_chiefly_ for
Waldemar, indeed, her heart maintaining its rights, spite of
everything.

It was a cool and rather stormy night; there was no moonlight, and the
stars, which here and there twinkled forth in the overcast sky, soon
disappeared again behind the clouds. All around the Castle there was
peace, deep peace; the park lay silent and dark, and, in the pauses
between the gusts of wind, each falling leaf might be heard.

Suddenly Wanda started, and a half-suppressed exclamation escaped her
lips. In an instant the Princess stood by her side.

"What is it? Did you see anything?"

"No; but I thought I heard the sound of horses' hoofs in the distance."

"Mere fancy! You have so often thought you heard it. It was nothing."

Yet the Princess followed her niece's example, and leaned far out of
the window. The two women waited, listening breathlessly. Yes, a sound
was borne over to them certainly; but it was distant and indistinct,
and now again the wind rose, and wafted it from them altogether. Full
ten minutes passed in torturing suspense--then, at last, steps were
heard in one of the side avenues of the park, where there was an outlet
into the forest--careful steps, warily approaching, and their eyes,
strained to the uttermost, could discern through the darkness two
figures issuing from among the trees.

Fabian rushed into the room. He had been watching too.

"They are there," he whispered, hardly able to restrain his emotion.
"They are coming up the side steps. The little door leading to the park
is open. I went to see not half an hour ago."

Wanda would have flown to meet the new-comers, but Gretchen, who had
followed her husband, held her back.

"Stay here, Countess Morynska," she entreated. "We are not alone in the
Castle. There is no safety but in your own rooms."

The Princess said not a word, but grasped her niece's hand to check the
imprudent impulse. They were not long kept on the rack now. Only a few
minutes--then the door flew open, and Count Morynski stood on the
threshold, Waldemar's tall figure appearing in the background. Almost
in the same instant Wanda lay in her father's arms.

Fabian and Gretchen had tact enough to withdraw, feeling that, after
all, they were but strangers, and that the family should be left alone.
But Waldemar, too, seemed to reckon himself among the strangers, for,
instead of going in, he closed the door behind the Count, and stayed
himself in the outer room. Turning to his old friend and tutor, he held
out his hand to him with hearty warmth.

"Well, we have got here in safety," said he, drawing a deep breath.
"The principal danger, at least, is over. We stand on German soil."

Fabian clasped the offered hand in both his own. "Oh, Waldemar, what a
venture for you to plunge into! Suppose you had been discovered!"

Waldemar smiled. "It does not do to suppose anything in such an
undertaking. A man, who wants to cross an abyss, must not think of
turning giddy, or he is lost. I only took such possibilities into
account so far as to provide against them. I kept my aim steadily in
view, and looked neither to the right nor to the left. You see my plan
has answered."

He threw off his cloak, drew a revolver from his breast-pocket, and
laid it on the table. Gretchen, who was standing by, retreated a step.

"Don't be alarmed, my dear young lady," said Nordeck, reassuringly.
"The weapon has not been used. No blood has been spilled in this
business, though at first it did not seem likely we should get through
it without. We found unexpected succour in time of need from our friend
the Assessor Hubert."

"From the new Counsellor?" exclaimed Gretchen, in astonishment.

"Yes,--is he made Counsellor? Well, he can air his new dignity over in
Poland. We came across the frontier with his carriage and papers."

The Professor and his wife uttered a simultaneous expression of
surprise.

"He certainly did not render us the service voluntarily," went on
Nordeck. "On the contrary, he will not fail to call us highway robbers;
but necessity knows no law. Life and liberty were at stake, and we did
not stay long to consider. Yesterday at noon, we arrived at an inn in a
Polish village, not much more than a couple of leagues from the
frontier. We knew that they were on our track, and we were anxious to
get over on to German territory at any price; but the host warned us
not to continue our flight before dusk. He said it was impossible, the
whole country was up after us. The man was a Pole; his two sons had
served under Count Morynski during the insurrection; the whole family
would have given their lives for their former chief. The warning was
not to be disregarded, so we stayed. Towards evening, when our horses
were standing ready saddled for us in the stables, the Assessor Hubert
suddenly made his appearance in the village on his way back from W----.
His carriage had met with some slight accident, which was to be
repaired as speedily as possible. He had left it at the village smithy,
and had come on to the inn with the main intention of finding out
whether any traces of us had been found. As he was unacquainted with
the language, his Polish coachman had to act as interpreter--he had
brought the man on with him for this purpose, instead of leaving him
with the carriage. The landlord, of course, declared he knew nothing.
We were hidden in the upper story, and could distinctly hear the
Assessor declaiming in his favourite way about traitors and criminals
fleeing from justice, adding that the pursuers were already on their
track. In this way he was kind enough to disclose to us the fact that
we really were pursued, and that it was known which way we had taken.
He had even heard there were two of us, and that we were mounted. Now
we had no choice left but to get away as quickly as possible. The
imminence of the danger inspired me with a happy thought. I transmitted
the necessary instructions to the landlord through his wife, and he
understood them at once. The Assessor was informed that it would take a
full hour to mend his carriage. He was very wrath at first, but after a
time came to the conclusion that he had better stay at the inn and have
some supper, as was suggested to him. Meanwhile we were out of the back
door, and off to the smithy. The landlord's son had taken care that the
carriage should be ready for us. I got in, my uncle"--this was the
first time Waldemar had so designated the Count--"my uncle, who had
passed for my servant throughout the journey, took the reins, and we
drove out of the village on the other side.

"In the carriage I made an invaluable discovery. The Assessor's
overcoat lay on the back seat with his pocket-book and all his papers
which this prudent official had either confidingly left in it, or
forgotten--a fresh proof of his eminent qualifications for the service
of the State. Unfortunately, with my gigantic stature, I could make no
use of his passport, but among the other papers I found many that were
likely to be of use to us. For instance, a warrant from the L----
police for Count Morynski's arrest, even upon German soil, a letter
empowering the Assessor to consult with the authorities at W---- as to
the best means of attaining this object, together with several notices
from these authorities as to the probable direction we had taken, and
the measures already adopted for our capture. We were unscrupulous
enough to turn these documents, destined for our confusion, to our own
advantage. The Assessor had said at the inn that he had come through
A---- that morning. There the carriage would no doubt be recognised,
and the change in its occupants remarked, so we made a _détour_ round
by the next military post, and drove up quite openly as Assessor Hubert
and his coachman. I showed the necessary papers, and demanded to be let
through as speedily as possible, alleging that I was on the track of
the fugitives, and that there was pressing need for haste. That plea
was irresistible. Nobody asked for our passports. We were considered as
sufficiently identified, and so got safely across the frontier. A mile
or two from it on this side we left the carriage on the high road in
the neighbourhood of a village where it is sure to be found, and
reached the Wilicza woods on foot. At the border-station we found the
steward waiting with horses, according to previous agreement. We
mounted, rode off at full speed, and here we are."

Gretchen, who had been listening with eager interest, was highly
delighted at the trick played on her former suitor, but Fabian's good
nature would not allow of his feeling any such mischievous pleasure. On
the contrary, he asked in quite an anxious tone--

"And poor Hubert?"

"He is over yonder in Poland without his carriage or papers of
identification," said Waldemar, drily. "He may think himself lucky if
he is not taken for a traitor himself this time. It is quite on the
cards. If our pursuers really do reach the inn to-night, they will find
two strangers with their horses ready saddled, and the landlord will
take care not to clear up any possible mistake which might favour our
flight. The coachman, whose every feature betrays the Pole, and who,
moreover, is rather an imposing-looking person, might at need pass for
a nobleman in disguise, and the Assessor for his accomplice and
liberator. The latter cannot prove his identity, he does not speak the
language, and our neighbours are not in the habit of using much
ceremony in the matter of arrests, or of adhering very strictly to
prescribed forms. Perhaps the eminent Counsellor is now enjoying the
little treat he wished to give us on our arrival at Wilicza, that of
being taken up as a 'suspicious character' and transported handcuffed
to the nearest town."

"That would indeed be an incomparable close to his official career,"
laughed Gretchen, disregarding her husband's grave look.

"But enough now of this Hubert," broke off Waldemar. "I shall see you
again when I come back? I am here at the Castle _incognito_ to-night.
It will be some days before I officially return from Altenhof, where I
am supposed to be all the time. Now I must go and see my mother and my
cousin. The first agitation of the meeting will be over now."

He opened the door, and went into the next room where his family was
assembled. Count Morynski was seated in an easy-chair, still holding
his daughter in his arms, as she kneeled before him, resting her head
on his shoulder. The Count had aged considerably. The thirteen months
of his imprisonment seemed to have been so many years to him. His hair
and beard had grown quite white, and his face showed indelible traces
of the sufferings he had undergone through captivity and sickness, and,
above all, through the knowledge of his people's fate. He had been a
robust and energetic man when, little more than a year ago, he had
taken leave of his sister and daughter at Wilicza; he came back now old
and broken, his appearance telling plainly of health irremediably
shattered.

The Princess, who was standing by the Count's side, was the first to
notice her son's entrance. She went forward to meet him.

"So you have come at last, Waldemar," she said, reproachfully. "We
thought you were going to abandon us altogether."

"I did not wish to disturb your first meeting," said Waldemar.

"Do you still insist on being as a stranger to us? You have been so
long enough. My son"--and the Princess, deeply moved, held out her arms
to him--"my son, I thank you."

Waldemar was folded to his mother's heart for the first time since his
childhood, and in that long and ardent embrace the bitter estrangement
of years gave way; all that had once been the cause of coldness and
hostility between them sank out of sight. Here, too, a barrier was
torn down, an invisible barrier, but one productive of much evil, which
had too long stood between two human beings bound to each other by the
most sacred ties of blood. At length the son had entered into his
birthright, had won for himself his mother's love.

The Count now rose in his turn, and held out his hand to his deliverer.
"You do well to thank him, Hedwiga," said he; "as yet you do not know
all that he has risked in my behalf."

"The venture was not so great as it seemed," Waldemar replied, lightly.
"I had smoothed the way beforehand. Wherever there are prisons, bribery
is possible. Without that golden key I should never have made my way
into the fortress, still less should we have forced a passage out."

Wanda stood by her father, still clinging to his arm as though she
feared he might be torn from her again. She alone had spoken no word of
thanks, but her eyes had sought Waldemar's as she turned to him on his
entrance, and their glance must have been more eloquent than words. He
seemed satisfied, and made no attempt to approach her more directly.

"The danger is not quite over yet," he said, turning to the Count
again. "We have it unfortunately in black and white that even here you
are threatened with imprisonment and extradition. At the present moment
you are safe at Wilicza. Frank has promised to keep watch for us, and
you have urgent need of a few hours' rest, but to-morrow morning must
see us on the road to S----.

"You will not take the direct route to France or England then?" said
the Princess.

"No, time is too precious, and that is precisely the route they will
expect us to choose. We must make for the sea. S---- is the nearest
port--we can be there by to-morrow evening. I have arranged everything.
An English ship has been lying in harbour for the last month, of which
I have secured to myself the sole disposal. She is ready to put to sea
at any moment, and will take you straight to England, uncle. From
thence, France, Switzerland, Italy may easily be reached. You can take
up your abode where you will. Once out on the open sea, and you are
safe."

"And you, my dear Waldemar?" His uncle now addressed him in the
affectionate tone he had so long reserved for his younger brother.
"Will you pay no penalty for your boldness? Who can tell whether the
secret of my escape will be strictly kept? There are so many in it."

Waldemar smiled. "I certainly have been forced to give the lie to my
nature on this occasion, and to make confidences right and left.
Nothing could be done without it. Happily, all my confidants have
become my accessories; they cannot betray me without exposing
themselves. The rescue will be laid to my mother's charge, and
if, at some future time, reports of the truth get wind, well, we live
here on German territory. Count Morynski was neither accused nor
sentenced in this country, his rescue cannot therefore be here
accounted as a crime. It will seem natural enough that, in spite
of our political differences, I should stretch out my hand to save my
uncle--particularly when it is known that to that relationship another
has been added--that he has become my father also."

A quiver passed over Morynski's face at this reminder. He tried to
repress it, but in vain--it told of a pain he was unable to master. He
had long known of this love, which to him, as to his sister, had
appeared as a misfortune, almost as a crime. He, too, had fought
against it with all the means in his power, and, quite lately, had
endeavoured to withdraw Wanda from its influence. He had acquiesced
when she resolved on going with him to almost certain destruction; he
had accepted her offer with the one view of preventing this marriage.
It was a heavy sacrifice--it cost him a great struggle with those
national prejudices, that national hatred, which had been the ruling
principle of his life--but he looked at the man whose hand had led him
forth out of prison, who had risked life and freedom in order to win
back both for him--then he bent down to his daughter.

"Wanda," he said in a low voice.

Wanda looked up at him. Her father's face had never appeared to her so
weary, so sorrowful, as at this moment. She had been prepared to find
him altered, but she had not expected so terrible a change, and, as she
read in his eyes all that it cost him to give his consent, her own
personal wishes receded into the background, and the daughter's
passionate love burned up brightly within her.

"Not now, Waldemar," she implored, with a trembling voice. "You see
what my father has suffered, what he is still suffering. You cannot ask
me to leave him now when we have but just met. Let me stay with him for
a time, only for one year! You have preserved him from the worst of
all; but he has to go out among strangers, into banishment. Shall I,
can I let him go alone?"

Waldemar was silent. He had not courage to recall to Wanda the words
she had spoken at their last meeting. The sight of the Count's bowed
frame forbade any touch of anger, and pleaded powerfully in favour of
the daughter's prayer, but all the egotism of love rose up in revolt
against it. The young man had braved so much to earn for himself the
hand of the woman he loved, he could not bear that the reward should
longer be denied him. With contracted brow and lips tightly pressed
together, he stood, looking to the ground, when all at once the
Princess interfered.

"I will take any anxiety on your father's account from you, Wanda,"
said she. "I shall go with him."

Her listeners started in extreme surprise.

"What, Hedwiga?" asked the Count. "You think of going with me?"

"Into exile," concluded the Princess, with a steady voice. "It will be
no new thing to either of us, Bronislaus. We have tasted it before,
during long years. We will take the old fate on us again."

"Never," cried Waldemar, with kindling eyes. "I will never consent to
your leaving me, mother. Your place, in future, is here at Wilicza,
with your son."

"Who is busy imprinting on his land the mark of the German?"--the
Princess Baratowska's tone was almost severe in its earnestness. "No,
Waldemar, you underrate the Pole in me, if you think I could stay on in
Wilicza, in the Wilicza which is growing up under your rule. I have
given you a mother's love tardily but completely, and it will ever be
yours, though we part, though I go to a distance, and we only see each
other from time to time--but to stay here at your side, to look on day
by day while you overturn all that I have laboured to build up, to
give the lie to my whole past life by associating with your German
friends--on each occasion when our opposite opinions come into
collision to bow to your word of authority, that, my son, I cannot do,
that would be more than, strive as I might, I could accomplish. It
would rend asunder the newly formed ties between us, would call up the
old strife, the old bitterness again. So let me go, it will be best for
us all."

"I did not think any of the old bitterness would intrude upon this
hour," said Waldemar, with some reproach in his tone.

The Princess smiled sadly. "There is none in my heart against you, but
not a little, perhaps, against the Fate which has ordained our ruin.
Over the Morynski and Baratowski families the decree has gone forth.
With Leo one noble Polish house died out, which for centuries had shone
with lustre in the annals of our country. My brother is the last scion
of another. His name will soon be extinct, for Wanda is the last to
inherit it, and she will merge it in yours. Wanda is young, she loves
you--perhaps she may learn to forget, which to us would be impossible.
Life is before you, the future belongs to you--we have only the past."

"Hedwiga is right," spoke Count Morynski. "I cannot remain, and she
will not. The marriage with your father brought nothing but evil to
her, Waldemar, and it seems to me, as though no union between a Nordeck
and a Morynska could be productive of happiness. The disastrous cause
of discord, which proved so fatal to your parents, exists in your case
also. Wanda, too, is a child of our people. She cannot renounce her
race any more than you can yours. You are entering upon a hazardous
experiment in this marriage, but you have willed it, both of you--I
make no further opposition."

This was no very happy betrothal for the young pair. The mother's
suddenly announced departure, the father's resignation and ominous
warnings, cast a deep shade over the hour which generally fills two
youthful hearts with brightest sunshine. It really seemed as though
this passion, which had fought so hard a fight, had triumphed over so
many obstacles, were destined to know no joy.

"Come, Bronislaus," said the Princess, taking her brother's arm. "You
are wearied to death with the hasty ride and the agitation of the last
few days. You must rest till morning, if you are to find strength to
continue your journey. We will leave these two alone. They have hardly
spoken to each other yet, and they have so much to say!"

She left the room with the Count. Hardly had the door closed upon them
when the shadow vanished. With quick, impetuous tenderness Waldemar
threw his arms round his betrothed, and clasped her to his breast. He
had won her at last!


Fabian and his wife were still in the next room. Gretchen seemed much
put out, and cast many melancholy glances at the tea-table.

"How can people give way to their romantic feelings so as to forget all
the decent, orderly routine of life?" she observed. "The anxiety and
excitement are over now, and the joy of their first meeting too; they
might quietly sit down to table, but such an idea never occurs to one
of them. I could not persuade the Princess or Count Morynski to touch a
thing, but Countess Wanda must and shall have a cup of tea. I have just
made some fresh--she shall have it, whether she likes it or not. I will
just see whether she and Herr Nordeck are still in there in the salon.
You stay here, Emile."

Emile remained obediently in his place near the tea-urn, but the time
seemed rather long to him, for ten minutes, at least, elapsed, and his
wife did not return. The Professor began to feel uncomfortable; he felt
his presence to be quite superfluous, and yet he would so gladly have
made himself useful, like Gretchen, whose practical nature was never at
a loss; in order to be doing something, he took the ready filled cup of
tea, and carried it into the adjoining drawing-room. To his surprise,
he found it untenanted, except by his wife, who was standing before,
and very near to, the closed door of the Princess's study.

"Dear Gretchen," said Fabian, balancing the cup in his hand with
as much anxious care, as if it had contained the most precious
life-elixir. "Dear Gretchen, I have brought the tea. I was afraid it
might be getting cold, if this went on much longer."

The young lady had narrowly escaped being caught in a most suspicious
attitude, namely, that of bending down with her eye to the keyhole.
Luckily, she had had time to raise herself quickly as her husband came
in. She took hold of him, cup and all, and led him back into the outer
room.

"Never mind, Emile. The Countess won't want any tea, and it will go on
ever so much longer. But you need not make yourself unhappy about your
beloved Waldemar any more. Things are going very well with him in
there, very well indeed. I'll own I did him a wrong--he has a heart
after all. That cold, stiff Nordeck is really capable of going down on
his knees and uttering the most ardent words of love. I never could
have believed it!"

"But, how do you know all this, dear child?" asked the Professor, who
in his innocence and erudition had never had anything to do with
keyholes. "You were outside."

Gretchen blushed crimson, but she recovered herself quickly, and said
with much decision--

"You know nothing about it, Emile, and it is not necessary you should.
As the tea is here all ready, we had better drink it ourselves."



                              CHAPTER XVI.


Out at sea the mild spring night was yielding before the approach of
day. Faint stars still twinkled in the sky, but the distant horizon
gleamed with the first streaks of dawn, and the slumbering waves
murmured softly, as in a dream.

Over the waters, through the ever strengthening morning twilight, a
ship was speeding. On board her were Count Morynski, his daughter, and
Waldemar. They had left the port of S---- about midnight, but it had
taken them some hours to steam through the vast river-mouth, and they
were only now issuing forth into the open sea. Wanda had not found
courage to part from her father so immediately after their reunion; she
had insisted on going with him, at least so far as the port of
embarkation, and Waldemar had yielded to her earnest entreaties. There
could hardly be danger in the plan; indeed, the journey to S---- might
perhaps be performed more safely in the company of a lady. The Princess
Baratowska would remain at Rakowicz for the present. As her son had
rightly foreseen, the Count's escape was attributed to her sole agency.
She alone was suspected, and any possible investigation of the matter
would be directed against her and her place of residence. Wanda's
absence was scarcely remarked; besides which, it had been arranged that
she should return from Altenhof in the course of a few days under
Waldemar's escort.

Old Squire Witold's estate, now the property of his adopted son, lay
near the coast along which the outward-bound ship must pass, and the
plan decided on was that the young people should bear the fugitive
company so far on his way. Count Morynski intended to await in England
the arrival of the Princess, who would stay on at Rakowicz some weeks
longer to be present at the marriage of her son and niece, setting out
immediately after it to join her brother. On meeting in England, they
would concert together as to the choice of their future place of abode.

Gradually day had dawned. Its first chill rays of early light played on
the broad surface of the sea, but colourless as yet, and conveying no
warmth. Now, as the coast receded and the open sea lay before the
traveller, the parting could no longer be deferred. Yonder stretched
the shore which bounded the domain of Altenhof, and, in close proximity
to the vessel, now slackening her speed, fenced in by a wall of white
morning mist, lay the Beech Holm. The leave-taking on deck was short
and pathetic. Count Morynski suffered most from the keen pain of it.
Strive as he might to retain his composure, he broke down utterly as he
placed his daughter in the arms of her future husband. Waldemar saw
that the torture of this moment must not be prolonged. He quickly
lifted his betrothed into the boat lying off in readiness, and in a few
minutes it bore them over to the Beech Holm, while the ship was once
more set in motion. A white handkerchief fluttered from the deck, the
farewell signal was returned from the Holm, then the distance grew
greater and greater between the traveller and the dear ones left
behind. The ship steamed off at full speed towards the North.

Wanda sank down on one of the large fragments of stone strewn beneath
the beeches, and gave vent to an outburst of passionate grief.
Waldemar, standing by her side, was mastered by no emotion, but his
face was very grave, saddened by the pain of that parting hour.

"Wanda," he said, laying his hand on hers. "This separation is not to
be a lasting one. If your father may not again set foot on his native
soil, nothing will hinder us from going to him. In a year you shall see
him again--I promise you."

Wanda shook her head sadly. "If I may yet find him! He has suffered too
much and too bitterly ever to regain health and an interest in life. It
seems to me that I have felt his arms round me for the last time."

Nordeck was silent. The same apprehension had forced itself on his mind
in that hour of parting. Count Morynski might rally from the effects of
his wounds and long confinement, but the defeat of that cause, to which
he had dedicated his life, was a blow but too likely to prove mortal.
When, years before, he had gone out into banishment, he could oppose to
his fate the mental and physical strength of a man in his prime; but
now that strength was sapped and failing--who could tell how long the
last remnants of it might hold good!

"Your father will not be alone," returned Waldemar, at last. "My mother
is going to him, and I only now begin to see all that we owe her for
this resolution of hers. It takes a heavy care from both of us. You
know her love for her only brother; she will be the staff and support
he needs."

Wanda's gaze was still riveted on the ship, now a mere speck in the
far-off distance.

"And you are to lose the mother you have so lately found?" said she, in
a low voice.

His brow clouded over at the remembrance.

"You do not think that is a light matter to me? No; yet I fear she is
right. Our natures are too similar for one willingly to bend to the
other, and were we to live together, concessions must be made. Were I
of her people, or she of mine, there would be need of none; she would
take pride then in all that I undertook. My success would be hers--I
should be carrying out her wishes as well as my own--as it is, I should
find her will constantly opposed to mine. To clear a path for new
institutions at Wilicza, I must begin by breaking down those she has
set up. We can stretch out our hands to each other across the gap, and
feel at last that we are mother and son; we cannot walk on side by side
through life. She has seen this more clearly than I, and has chosen
what is best for us. The decision, to which she has come, will alone
insure our lasting reconciliation."

The young Countess raised her dark tearful eyes to his face. "Have you
forgotten my father's warning? The unhappy national feud, that cause of
dissension which has hitherto torn our family into two, exists between
us also. It made your parents miserable."

"Because they had no love for each other," replied Waldemar, "because
cold calculation on either side had bound them together by the closest
tie which can connect two human beings. How could peace come of such a
union? The old strife was sure to blaze out anew, more hotly than ever.
But we can bring other forces into the field. I have won my bride in
the teeth of this national hostility, and I shall be able to defend my
happiness from its influence. If our marriage is really a venture, it
is a venture we may fearlessly make."

The light morning clouds sailing over the heavens became more and more
lucent, and the East flushed radiant with the dawn. A rosy glow spread
over the whole horizon, and the waves shone as though edged with liquid
gold. Then came one bright sudden flash, the first herald of the rising
sun, and immediately following it, the great luminous planet rose from
the waves, mounting slowly higher and higher, until it orbed itself
above them, appearing in clear and perfect majesty. Rose-tinted rays
quivered in the chill, pure morning air, and the surface of the water,
a minute ago so dark and drear, gained a deep, wonderful blue. With the
sunrise light and life streamed forth over earth and sea.

The first beams fell on the Beech Holm, dispersing the remnants of
white mist which still hovered between the trees; they sank on to the
dew-covered grass, they fluttered off into the forest, until nothing
was left of them but a light vaporous gauze, thin as air. The wind
rustled among the crests of the mighty beeches, which gently bent
before it, murmuring softly to each other. On this occasion they
whispered no gloomy complaint of decay and death as on that memorable
day by the forest lake--memorable, for was it not there, mid the
autumnal woods, in the falling twilight, out of the bosom of the
shadowy mists, that the dream vision had arisen, faint picture of that
scene which now appeared in glowing reality, the sea-washed Beech Holm
of poetic story, lying bathed in the golden sunlight?

Waldemar and Wanda again stood on the spot where they had stood
together years before--he, the wild, impetuous boy who fancied he had
only to stretch forth his hand to take undisputed possession of that
which had aroused his first passion; she, the giddy, light-hearted
child who had played with that passion in her thoughtless vanity. At
that time they had neither of them known anything of life and its
tasks. Since then they had had experience of it in all its fearful
earnest, had been drawn into its bitterest conflicts. Every obstacle
that can divide two human beings had been raised between them, but the
old sea-legend had spoken truly. Since the hour in which the spell had
woven itself round their two youthful hearts, the charm had worked
continuously, had preserved its hold upon them, spite of estrangement
and separation, had drawn them irresistibly together while all around
them blazed the hot flame of strife and hatred, had brought them
triumphantly through all the array of hostile influences to this the
hour of fulfilment.

Waldemar had put his arm round his betrothed, and was looking
searchingly into her eyes.

"Do you think now that a Nordeck and a Morynska may be happy together?"
he asked. "We will dispel the shadow which has lain on their union
hitherto."

Wanda leaned her head against his shoulder. "You will have much to bear
with, and much to overcome. Your wife will not be able to renounce all
that has so long been dear and sacred to her. Do not sever me
altogether from my people, Waldemar. Part of my life is rooted there."

"Have I ever been hard to you?" Waldemar's voice was full of that
strange gentleness which but one human being on earth had had power to
win from that cold, inflexible man. "Those eyes could teach the wild,
headstrong boy docility--they will be able to hold the man in curb. I
know that the shadow will often fall between us, that it will cost you
many tears, and me many a struggle; but I know too that at any critical
moment my Wanda will stand where she stood once before, when danger was
threatening me, and where henceforth her place will be--at my, at her
husband's side."

The ship, which was bearing the fugitive away from his fatherland,
disappeared in the cloud-like distance. All around, the sapphire sea
rippled and murmured--the Beech Holm lay flooded in golden sunlight.
Once again the waves sang the old, old melody, the chant of billow and
breeze combined, while in the pauses came a faint, mysterious music
like the chiming of bells--Vineta's spirit-greeting from beneath the
waters.



                                THE END.



                           *   *   *   *   *
            PRINTED AT THE CAXTON PRESS, BECCLES.  _S. & H_.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Under a Charm, A Novel, Vol. III" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home